Saturday, 13 December 2014

Reading...and reviewing

Being asked to review a new book is
always good fun - the chance to look at a book you
may not otherwise have come across.
Exactly what has happened with this book:

I'm looking forward to reading - dare I say in spite of the cover?
P x

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Not having heard that word for a good while, it was
extra special when an old man used it to check
I was ok yesterday!  Such a cheery (and cheering) little word,
it instantly reminded me of pitmen, allotments and coal fires.
And because today was a surprise day off, with nothing else planned,
it meant there was time to browse a new local craft shop - with fabric! -and
to call at the library and have lunch at home.
The outcome of today's free time?  Something I've been
planning for the New Year, using a new
colour palette and fabric which was already in stock at the craft shop:

One cushion, two fabrics.  A certain pesky little dog had chewed the zip
of one of the cushions and I also wanted to add more colour to this room so
here we are.  The hardest part of the buttons was folding in the fabric but a little fabric
glue on the edges certainly helped.
I am beyond pleased with them - there are two! - the shape, the button, the colours.
Time for some more planning I think.
P x

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Shop small....

Having seen this around, and being involved with a small (but very beautiful)
business, I wanted to make sure I spent any pennies wisely today:
It's pretty easy to do this where I live and I realise that it can be difficult if
you don't have ready access to the likes of FGT but I do so I did!

Doing so many workshops has seen my crafty supplies stock dwindle over the past few months
and some things are just a joy in themselves.  Twine and wooden spools of ribbon; what's not to love!
There has been so much going on lately that the actual making seems to have got lost along the way but I'm hoping to put that right over the next few weeks as I have cushions to make - for myself - and I have found the most gorgeous outfit for one of the granddaughters:

Which is from this wonderful site http://www.clevercharlotte.com/
Time to plan some fun....
P xx


Friday, 14 November 2014

Dark days

These dark days are not so dreary; just so long as you've got some
gorgeous colour to play with inside.
There was some gorgeous fabrics in John Lewis the last time I was there, and although
I could quite happily have spent a small fortune I restricted myself to choosing two.
The other restriction was amounts; no buying whole metres as sometimes that feels harder to cut into.
So, with 40cm of one and 20cm of the other I produced this:

During one of the workshops I was explaining to someone that lots of
items can be made using nothing but straight sewing - which she'd just learnt to do on the sewing basics.
As she had booked onto a cushion workshop, I took the skirt in to show her and
explained the very easy way to make it.
There is such pleasure in making an item from start to
finish using a pattern, but there is sheer joy in making something without one!
P xx

Sunday, 9 November 2014


Having a mother and aunt who were both seamstresses, it was pretty
much a given that one of us four girls
would like sewing too.  My very first machine, when I was four, was a Vulcan
and I loved it so much.
Children, work, studies, life in general, all happen around us,
but it's always a joy to get sewing again.
Of all the workshops I do at FGT, my favourite is the Sewing Basics.
Some ladies come in and they are visibly trembling with fear.  That bit I love less.
But everyone of them, so far!, has left with a smile and a decent understanding
of how a sewing machine works and are usually fired up and ready to make lots as soon as they get home.  Some of them book onto another workshop straight away to keep the momentum.
I've tried a few different projects for them to complete at the end of the three hours, but I think this may be the one to run with for a good while.
It's just a coaster but helps them to see that the skills they've just acquired can actually make something very quickly. The top stitching, accuracy of the seam widths, trimming the seams, cutting the corners, pressing - all together in one small item.  But most of all I love the little 'handmade with love' hearts that they add into the seam.  The stag's head is just for show - they usually choose to add their initial - just in case anyone thinks they can borrow it.
P x

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Loving where I live

It's so very easy to just not see the place where you actually live. Not so much the interior, but outside those windows.  It came to me as I was sitting at a main crossroads (well, I say main, but in reality it's pretty minor) waiting in a queue of traffic.  That traffic consisted of buses, cars, work vans, a tractor and a couple of cyclists.  There were no horns blaring; everyone sitting in the sunshine waiting patiently.  The hold up?  A young girl on a horse.  Everyone (pretty much) around here waits for horses.  She raised her hand in recognition to all around her and off she trotted past me down to the farm at the end of the lane. 
Then I took a look out of my sewing room window this morning:

That sky! Just love it.
I probably need to be a little more open here; there's stuff going on with my older sister just now which is quite hard to stomach.  Hospitals, hospice respite care, assessments.  Am sure you get the picture.  It happens. We're not alone in all this going on. Every family has something sometime.
But it does make me stop and look at times and in a way that's one of the positives.
This is going to be a very busy month with workshops at FGT - lots of Christmassy ones as well as the usual sewing machine and cushion ones, and that has involved an awful lot of preparation.  Three hundred Christmas fabric bunting flags cut out already.  As a little balance to all that I made this:

Using up scraps - always good fun!
Time to get out into that sunshine for a while now,
P xx

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The lost days

Not truly lost of course, but lost in the sense that they didn't end up being mine.  I know, too much on a Tuesday morning, but it's been one of those weeks where you have great plans to make and create so very much and you end up with......well, not much.
There has been a wonderful first Baby Shower Bunting Workshop, which was stressful because it was the first, but also a joy because it was so much fun.
The other stuff belongs to family and I'm thinking it should stay there.
Then I found this, and thought, let's just start again:
it's okay
I do like a fairly calm life; it seems to provide the right atmosphere for making, doing, thinking.  So, outside with the washing on a lovely blowy day, cut some dark leaves to go with some very dark red flowers for a Hallowe'en display, drink a hot cup of coffee with a buttery, round piece of shortbread and start to plan.  Love it.
P xx

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Play day

Following on from the last post, Sunday was designated a playday, where all the making was about fun and trying things out with no end product in mind.  Though surprisingly (or most probably because of) all that bunting making made me keep to that format.  Let's call it a garland instead. 
The lovely shop where I do the sewing workshops has started to sell scrap bags which explains the name: scrapbag garland:

The coloured prints are from Flow magazine and the torn book illustrations from an old copy of India Knight's Thrift.  I'm thinking she'd sort of approve?  The bonus is that there is also a completely sorted scrap basket in the sewing room - even into colour batches.  Feeling much happier now.
P xx

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Sometimes life is,well....you know

Or maybe you don't and it's just me.  Days when you feel bleurgh for no good reason and then start to doubt everything you do.  Those days are not the best.  That and the ability of some people to make you feel so very guilty does not make for happy clappy days let me tell you.
On those days there's really only one answer - for someone as shallow as me I mean obviously - and that's to look for the pinkness in Pinterest.  Selina Lake does not disappoint. And one beautiful image leads to another:
All of which goes to remind me that there is beauty in the world, but some days you've just got to look it out for yourself.
P x

Sunday, 12 October 2014


Whatever you like to call it, I'm pretty much done with the sewn sort.  Having agreed to make some for a shop - and quite happily, too! - after the fifth lot it begins to feel very samey.  Time to finish my own handmade Christmas garland instead.  Absolutely no sewing involved, simply lovely laid card from Paperchase, a few images from around the web, ribbon and paper punch.

The last image is some of the sewn bunting; amazing how quickly you can tire of red and white....
P x

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


It's obviously something you love or hate; something you like to have in your home, or not.  The owner of the shop where I have my sewing workshops has asked for some, with a definite Christmas theme.  Although no bother to sew, it has taken a good while to cost out.  There are so many things too easily forgotten about: thread, fusible web, fabric for letters, bells.  But I'm pretty pleased with how it has turned out - or perhaps just that I got it priced out right in the end!

And there's also the perfectly valid reason for more fabric shopping tomorrow.
While all this Christmas stuff is very enjoyable, believe it or not I have been thinking of other things.  Making the dresses for three flower girls in the summer really reminded me how much I love sewing as in dressmaking.  Hmmm.  A little plan is starting to hatch but there are other people to be spoken to before I can move it further.  Wish me luck.
P xx

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Just push on past

The title was part of Annie's post and pretty much sums up today's post.
There's nothing really wrong; a lot that is very right. Just a little niggle in the corner which probably needs addressing before it becomes a 'thing'. And then I read Annie's post and it became apparent: I just need to push on past it.  Love it when the answer is on a blog.
The creative side of today looks a lot like this:
Illustration by Grace Gabler, ca 1945, Child's Alphabet.
It was a deal made with myself.  Not a totally handmade Christmas, but twelve things made for Christmas, which is basically one a week from here on in. First project is a banner using found images.  Nearly sorted, just need to find some sparkly ribbon.
P xx

Friday, 3 October 2014

Time to chat

The time for chatting and a cuppa is always now.  It has become clear to me that being with people (either in real life or online) is very, very important.  Friends have busy lives, commitments etc so when the opportunity arises I say yes please!
Flow Magazine 1 - D
P xx

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Costing, planning and thrift

Although I'm not making to sell for myself anymore, I am involved in the most delicious shop in Morpeth, doing workshops and also making some mock ups for them.  Those have then been passed onto people who make them up in bulk.  Because the Christmas cushion and bunting workshops have already pretty much sold out, the shop owner has asked if I can make some up to sell.
Which means I have the pleasure of sewing, choosing fabrics etc, without the hassle of marketing, storing, displaying.  Having done it in the past, it was no bother to sit down today and cost out the items.  The immoveable part of the equation? My time. It's not the best rate; it's certainly better than minimum wage.  Having agreed a selling price, the amount of retail markup and the consequent wholesale cost, it was then just a case of using different fabric price points in the calculations.. I now know exactly how much to spend on fabrics - no going over just because it's so gorgeous!  It either comes in on, or under, budget, or it doesn't happen.
That probably sounds a little cold.....and it is.  There's less of me in these makes so it's easier to make decisions.  They won't be sold under my name, but the shop's.  The pleasure of creating and sewing is all mine though.
The thriftiness? The bunting is Jingle Bell bunting and I've been trying to source a reasonably priced supply of them.  Those from Paperchase are sweet and I've used them before, but a little expensive when so many are needed. But when looking around Dunelm for cushion pads I spied the heart above - only mine is made up of silver bells.  150 tied on with fine wire for £3.99 rather than 72 for £4.50. Perfect.
P x

Monday, 29 September 2014

Remember the strategies

Not always easy, but pretty nifty if you can.  Sometimes tiredness can simply wash over you and before you know it you're sat slumped in front of the tv.  Not a good look.  And although I say 'you', obviously that's 'me'.  So, these strategies.  Get outside; eat something nutritious; DO something!  Preferably all at the same time.

Which is how come I've wandered round the garden - and found colour!
One of the (many) joys of Pinterest are the illustrations I've found, and this one is especially pertinent today I feel:
In fact, I should probably go through my boards and see what else is on there; now that is definitely something to enjoy doing!

P x

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sneaky peek

Although it's still not quite there, I thought I'd show a couple of snaps of the finished areas in the sewing room.

Depending on the fettle I'm in more time is spent on one rather the other!
The only things missing are the fairy lights.  Next snap.
P xx
The lying around and thinking area, and the actually doing something area!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Not involving travel, hotels or restaurants - just the luxury of spending a day at home.  Being able to wear the equivalent of day pyjamas after showering then pottering in the garden before starting on yesterday's haul of vegetables from the allotment.  And all by myself!  Much as I love company and a good chat along with the coffee, time to think is not to be sniffed at.

There is a good amount of colour still in the garden - those that are supposed to be there right now like the sedum, clematis and red leaves.  Others are 'second timers' and very welcome because of that. - the rosa rugosa especially, with its wonderful scent.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A new look sewing room

It feels like an awfully long time ago, but in reality about a month, I started on a re-vamp of the sewing room.  There was a lot of planning, choosing paper, paint etc but in truth what I wanted was a more streamlined look.  Not to actually lose the feel of it altogether, yet still make it fresher.  The magic that is Pinterest was such a help - take a look here - and made it possible to see the things that kept cropping up in lots of the images.  Such as pale walls with a colour pop of blue along with either mustard or pale pink.
In love with the color of this room: Cape Hatteras Sand in Aura by Benjamin Moore
All quite lovely.  None of it finished yet.  Today was going to be the afternoon it got back on track - the walls have already been painted in Farrow and Ball Skimming Stone - and some of the woodwork has been started.......Some things have been put back, but lots has not.  It was definitely time for change, and not just the walls.  So, lots of books and magazines have gone to new homes, fabric has been de-stashed, yarns have been moved on to other baskets.
But today did not go to plan.  Today was dreary and matched my mood totally.  Ah well, that's just the way it is sometimes.  Yesterday as I sat having a coffee before the school run life felt very good.  Today I realised it still is, but I need to let myself drift a while sometimes - that's when I start to want to create something again.
Which is why my latest place of choice is Merchant and Mills, and am on the hunt for the perfect fabric. 
Note to self:  dreary does not have to equal unhappy.
P x
ps the images are not mine - they are from my Pinterest board and if you visit the board and click on the images it will take you to the original!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sewing workshop

Today was the first of the level 2 sewing machine workshops at French Grey Tales and it was such a good afternoon.  Both were already good at using a sewing machine but just needed a little extra confidence for those pesky little details; buttonholes, zips, bias binding etc.
It's always hard to remember when you first started doing something, but I do remember having a Vulcan sewing machine when about 4 or 5.  Probably sounds crazily young, but it was a household of makers and doers.  A few years later and I could use mam's black and gold Singer - electric! So no turning the handle, just press the foot pedal and go.  Whilst going through different techniques today it reminded me of the way I learnt - simply by doing.  Making lots (and lots) of mistakes but it really didn't matter.  It was practising and playing at the same time.  Must be the best way ever to learn a skill, so why do we often get caught up with wanting to do everything perfectly straight off?  I say we, but obviously mean me!  While I stood there today and emphasised that they should just play around with their machines at home, not using expensive fabrics or even making particular items, it came to me that I should be telling myself the same thing.  Learning how to do something is a very important stage; learning the techniques, the way tools work, the different ways fabrics adapt to those techniques and tools.
With that in mind I'm going to choose a pattern for myself and make it up - but as a practice, learning as I go, so that when I make it as a garment to wear I'll feel more confident in the finished item.  I hope.
P x

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Beurre blanc

Last week, after a good while of being incredibly busy with family stuff, we escaped to the Lakes for a few days.  The perfect mix of good weather and a lovely cottage worked their magic.  One of the really good things about this particular cottage is:
 To be able to wake to comforting warmth each morning was so good.  Even  better when there was some porridge inside it. There was also plenty of time for just sitting and reading.  I did take a few books with me, some new, but the one I chose to get into was a re-read: My Life In France by Julia Child.

Well, we're back home and as most of the family stuff is resolved it's been good to get back into real cooking.  And eating obviously.  One of the meals talked about in the book involves beurre blanc.  Never had it before but definitely wanted to try it.  The joys of the search engine; of course it was online! So tonight there was fish with potatoes, greens and beurre blanc.  Who knew such a large amount of butter could go into such a small amount of liquid?  Very tasty though.

P x

Friday, 19 September 2014

Starting afresh

It's fair to say that writing a blog has been a stop/go affair for a few years.  There have been so many changes to a couple of them, and yet they still were not where I wanted to be.  And it is important to get the location right in so many areas of life.
So here we are, in a completely new little hallway - that's how it feels - and it's going to be good to see what lies beyond. 

P x