New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.

 

Pesky rip-off merchants

Here’s one for the designer-makers. Let me tell you a story I’m sure you’ll find familiar.

Once upon a time a creative person driven to the end of their tether by working in dullsville hits on the idea of selling things they’ve made online. The D-M has a marvellous time designing and making gorgeous things and would you believe it, people buy them. The feedback is all fabulous, it makes the D-M’s heart sing every time a sale comes through. If it’s all sounding a bit fairytale take heart that it’s not bringing in enough money to give up dullsville but it makes the D-M very happy and the second income comes in useful even if the tax return stuff is a bit scary.

Things go on like this for a few years and sometimes you sell to other D-Ms. Lovely to have the recognition of your peers and all that. Then you realise one of the other DMs you’ve sold to has miraculously started selling the same item as you, and you realise they bought your item purely to rip it off. Marvellous.  Its quite annoying but as you’re pretty small fry there isn’t really anything you can do about it, legal fees being what they are.

Then it happens again, and its starting to rankle.  You’ve put in all the effort and they’ve sat there watching your good reviews stack up and just thought ‘I’ll have some of that’. I’ve had it done to me in more than one country too.

You know the type, they’ve got some skill, they’ve learned some techniques but they have not one ounce of creativity.  Fine to be an assembler of products if that’s your thing, and its fine to resell but don’t make my thing your shoddy thing.  I can’t do anything constructive about it but I can stick pins up your nose.  Well, I can’t do that either but I can make a pig-faced voodoo doll pincushion and stick pins in that, and that will have to do.  You know what? It does make you feel better. You might not be able to kick the ugly sister out of your patch or turn them into a pumpkin but take heart in the daydream that you’re giving them nosebleeds.

So my latest item will be a voodoo pincushion called She’s No Good, aimed at designer-makers who have been ripped off by talentless trolls. I’ll even start you off with a few pins.

I did have an item ready to go but someone complained that it looked like someone they knew which was unfortunate as I’d drawn a smelly pig-snouted hag (with friends like that…) so I’m currently working on a new version of a smelly looking pig-snouted hag…

Festival of Quilts – Part 1

This year I went to the Festival of Quilts up at the NEC for the first time. I love hand sewing, I don’t manage to do much of it because I don’t have a lot of space at home and a lot of my spare time is taken up crocheting snoods.  The only reason I haven’t been to the Festival of Quilts before is because its quite a long way from my home in Hampshire and I thought it would cost a fortune to get there. It turned out to be cheap and easy on the train so that’s me signed up annually for a visit.

First off I have to say its the best craft Festival of the year in every respect, the venue is fantastic, the layout is HUGE but spacious so it’s nowhere near as jostly as the Knitting & Stitching Shows in London.  The stallholders are friendly and interested in talking to you and the other attendees are just lovely. Honestly I’ve never met such a happy and welcoming group of crafters as the quilters.  I want to join their gang.

I took loads of pictures, there was just so much to fall in love with, I only did one day but two would be better, I’m sure I missed most of the displays.

This is the first thing I loved. A gorgeous hand quilted kimono style jacket.

SAM_2232 SAM_2233 SAM_2234I love this style of jacket, this just makes me want to embellish my own clothes. What I love most about the quilt designs is its mainly based on a simple, perfect running stitch. The simplicity of running stitch does nothing but enhance a design without looking show-offy like silk shading can.  Running stitch also reminds me of the basting stitches you use in tailoring which are themselves beautiful. Have a closer look a the wave pattern, it’s just perfect.

Today I’m Making… Embroidered roses with beads

You might remember the lovely workshop I did a while back where I made the scissor dangle thing? Well, I really liked making the bullion knot roses so when I finished that my head was full of ideas of images I could embroider filling in with hundreds of bullion knot roses and french knots.

Finally I have made something. I had to come up with a birthday present for someone I don’t know brilliantly well but I didn’t want to just buy a scented candle like I usually would, I wanted to make something. Fingers crossed she’ll appreciate it took up most of my weekend making it and I’m not just being cheap.  I found the picture frame in TK Maxx, they always have gorgeous frames in there and the prices are very good.  This one I think is supposed to look like a vintage plate that has been made into a frame.

I had intended to use the gorgeous De Havilland silks I bought at Ally Pally but in the first place I could only find one hank in the wrong colour and then it didn’t work for making the roses, it all just tangled up hideously and I had to cut it out.

In the end I went for ordinary DMC in three colours – red, maroon and hot pink. I think another time I’d go for a variegated thread because it gives a better result than a block colour for flowers, but I did use a variegated coral for the french knots and that worked out really well.

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I started off by couching a double row of metallic blue thread, then I sewed the line of beads on individually, I did think about stringing them on to a thread and couching those on too but I prefer to sew them on one by one. After that I couched on another double row of metallic blue.  If I were to make another one of these I think I’d do this outside edge last because I was worried I’d catch the blue thread and ruin it as I made the roses.

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The fabric I was sewing on to is white with a white floral print which was handy to use as a random template to fill with the roses, rose buds and leaves. Making something look random is really hard, I think I have a roughly even colour distribution of roses and buds but I hope it doesn’t look too much like it is.

Here it is, the finished thing all mounted up. The mounting is the part that causes me the most stress but it seems to have worked out OK and I haven’t smashed any of the glass beads under the glass.

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I wanted this to have a vintage look, as if it had been upcycled from a 50’s boudoir set. I think that has worked out quite well personally. Though now that I’ve made this I realise my ideas about embroidering shapes filled in with bullion knot roses was a bit ambitious, I don’t think I could bear it, but it has reminded me how much I like doing french knots so I’ll be doing a lot more of those.