Fabric shopping guide!

Fabric shopping guide!

I guess by now you may have figured out I have  huge fabric habit…

So I thought I would share with you my favourite fabric shops, especially as I get asked by my students quite often where I recommend buying fabric.

Now you can find lovely stuff at your local market if you are prepared to root around and ask the stall holders what fabric it is (as often it is polycotton which I personally detest and would not use for anything other than toiles or for learners to practice on). And you can unearth some amazing bargains that way (£1/ meter for funky florals and cool checks).

But for most of my fabrics I either venture further afield to proper brick and mortar shops or most often, I go no further than my sofa and shop with a cuppa in my hand (or a glass of red like I am now!).

So here goes then for a list of great online fabric shops:

@ Fabric Rehab, a fantastically addictive online fabric shop. Most fabrics are sold by the FQ (fat quarter, a quarter of a yard) but can be bought by the meter by adding 4 FQs to your basket. A veritable smorgasbord of yummy fabrics and great customer services.

I have just spotted some fab retro cassette fabric I will be buying as soon as I post this blog post http://fabricrehab.co.uk/fabrics/retro-cassettes/

@ Eclectic Maker, a delicious online shop selling fabric, patterns, haberdashery and more. Check out this stack of cuteness:

@ Fancy Moon, I so love this shop… it sells Mexican day of the dead, Hawaian prints, cowboy prints, and camp as Christmas pin up fabric as well as many many more amazing hard to get prints, as well as patterns and haberdashery. Contact me for a discount code too! We love the guys n gals at this online shop SO much… Check out this cute Hawaian pin up print:

 

@  Sew-la-la, a cute shop selling lots of vintage inspired florals and spots as well as pompom trims etc.

@ The Eternal Maker, a wonderful shop selling all the latest Japanese fabrics as well as trims and buttons and tools and hard to get Japanese craft books. Look at this lovely flowery bolt of happiness!

@ Then of course there is Etsy. There is so much gorgeous fabric on there you could lose whole days on there (look under supplies). And shipping from the US to the UK is supercheap and pretty fast. Of course you run the risk your parcel gets intercepted by customs and you have to pay import duty but this has only happened to me a few times when I had boxes sent over, not when I order a few yards here and there.

@ Last but not least there is of course Ebay. Some of my earliest purchases were from lovely Ebayers (the Felt Fairy, Favourite Fabrics (see bundle below) etc) and some I still return to over and over.

HAPPY SHOPPING!!

That was 2012, this is 2013

That was 2012, this is 2013

I have been a bit quiet, I know, but it has all been for a good reason!

I took the Christmas holidays off to rest, spend time with the children, and think about what had gone well and what could possibly have gone better, and where I wanted to go in 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed the process which mainly seemed to involve a lot of days in PJs and lots of knitting. Honestly that really helped my thinking and certainly my resting!

Work has been progressively getting busier and busier these last 6 months which meant I have had to start prioritizing a lot more. Also the nature of the work has changed a lot. Whereas last year I still spent a lot of time making things and selling them at craft fairs, now the focus has shifted to teaching and repairing/ servicing sewing machines. I still get a decent amount of orders for my quilts but I have stopped making new stock for fairs and have stopped stocking in small shops as I seemed to spend more time doing admin and shipping items than I wanted to. And at the end of the day I love teaching and also love getting peoples’ machines back on their feet so it was only right to concentrate on that.

The press seems to have discovered me a little which is sweet. My vintage machines were featured in Homes and Antiques in January, they did a sweet feature on collecting vintage machines and the machines went on a day out to have their pictures taken. Look at them shine!

This month I am featured in Sewing World magazine which is out right now. I had not read it before but obviously had to go out and buy it, so I rushed to my local Hobbycraft (how fab to have one near now!) and there I was… I was so impressed I showed some random guy in the shop! He seemed suitably impressed too… Now I am writing a little feature for them which should be in the June issue.

Now to get featured in Molie Makes… new year’s resolution for 2013 me thinks!

The classes I teach are all going well, I am learning heaps myself, about teaching and also about sewing (it just never stops!). Lately I have been learning about dog coats, fitting a tight brassiere top, how some people are just way better than I am at free motion embroidery (Helen I am talking about you), rectifying fitting issues and have discovered thermal curtain lining (where have you been all my life?).


I have also decided to work a bit less in the evenings and have started (or re-started) some knitting projects. I am doing a cool Craftsy class on knitting a top-down Icelandic jumper, which is now almost done(see pictures above of the yoke) and I have frogged and re-started my Paperdolls jumper again. It now has nothing to do with paper dolls anymore and after finding a cool stripey bit of knitting I had done years ago )below left) I am finishing this jumper in a funky stripey yoke (bottom right). I think third time lucky and this one is staying!

Happy new year guys!

Crafty intentions for 2013

Crafty intentions for 2013

Another year, another set of best intentions! I don’t think I did too well on the actual new year’s resolutions for 2012 but all the same I made a ton of stuff.

so, to recap I said I wanted to make:

1. Make something (bunting?) out of ironed plastic bags. I did make some waterproof oil cloth bunting but no recycled bunting this year : (

2. Gorgeous Owl jumper. Oops I did buy that pattern but alas that was as far as I got : (

3. I bought a lovely soap making book and would like to now make some soap. Well I sold the book again as there is NO WAY I am going to learn a new craft. : (
4. Do a cross stitch design for a new tattoo. I did finish that mostly. Unsure where it is now tho!
5. I want to, need to, finish the great lacy tunic I have been knitting for like, ever. Well it is still languishing in the basket that one…: (
6. Make something from the Big Ass Book of Crafts. I still flick through it a lot but there is NEVER time : (
7. Make a gorgeous multi coloured crochet cushion. I did start a fab crochet blanket but again, this is now another ongoing project.
8. Make something from the gorgeous Everything Alice book. Perhaps the lovely felt cot mobile for Laurel’s twins? Nope : (
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9. Make a quilt from the Material  Obsession books, maybe coupled with my growing stash of old clothes of ours I want to re-use. Yay I did make my gorgeous art trail quilt inspired by the Dresden quilt from this book.
10. Make something from the Scandinavian Needlecraft book, would make great Christmas presents. Still not made..
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11.Make something from the great Sew it, stuff it book. Lovely dollies and teddies. Perfect for little people’s birthday presents. And not done either…
12. Do some fabric printing from the Printing by hand book I bought about a year ago, with all the best of intentions. I even have a stamp I made  with the lovely Zeena and some shiny silver fabric paint. I did print some bags for the art trail, funky swallows, owl etc

 

There were lots of cool things I made though, just a tiny selection:

2013 THEN…

I have recently been buying a lot of patterns, so 2013 will be the year I make them all up! I have also got a few, well, almost ten, Craftsy classes I want to start/ finish!

Here goes:P1010450

@ Icelandic jumper; In the Craftsy Xmas sale I treated myself to this knitting class. I am mildly, ok, quite a lot obsessed with Nordic knitting and not only did this class include the pattern for this fabulous knit-in-the-round jumper with a fab yoke it also teaches you a lot about Icelandic knitting, history and how-to. I ordered my Lopi wool (brown, blue and green, yum) straightaway and will cast this on as soon as that arrives.  http://www.craftsy.com/class/the-top-down-icelandic-sweater/129

@ The sassy librarian blouse, another xmas Craftsy sale item. Two versions, both equally adorable. Cannot wait!
P1010454

 

 

 

 

 

 

@ Colette’s P1010447wide leg trousers, Juniper.

I love their patterns, the care and attention they have taken over writing them, everythign is explained so well, and the instructions are in gorgeous retro looking booklets unlike most patterns which have the instructions printed on that awful wafer thin paper, this is one set of instructions you can use over and over again! I use them for my classes too as they are THAT good.

P1010446   In this lush wool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

P1010448

@ Sew Liberated’s Ashland dress/ tunic. I love that this is a beautifully fitted dress, as I find it hard to buy tops that fit me well. No fabric chosen yet but that will happen…

 

@ Of course I am still working on the Bombshell dress taught by the rather amazing Gretchen Hirsch on Craftsy. I have bought a day of the dead pink and red skulls fabric and finally received the boning for this a few days ago, I think tomorrow may entail cutting the muslin, yay!

 

@ Speaking of Gretchen I have just treated myself to the Book for better sewing she has published this year, a book chokka full of vintage inspired dresses, pencil skirts, jackets etc. I cannot pretend I will make everything in this but it is certainly inspiring to see this lush woman wear these fab dresses with her tattoos (and newly pink hair), as well, I too have many many tattoos and blue hair and I love the juxtaposition between the dresses and her decorated body. I feel some pencil skirts coming on as well the sweetheart sundress for the summer!!

I think that will do for 2013, knowing how busy 2012 was I will be amazed if I finish all of these even!

Craftsy, my favourite online classes!

Craftsy, my favourite online classes!

It was almost a year ago my friend Lisa Margreet told e about Craftsy. Craftsy, the home of online crafts classes. And since then Craftsy has grown and grown. Every class I have enrolled on (and I have enrolled on quite a few!) has been of outstanding quality and has taught me loads.

How does it work I hear you ask? Well, you pay your (small) fee and it will give you access to the online video tutorials. These will never exoire so you can access them over and over again. YOu can take notes during the tutorials and store them online. You can ask your tutor and other students questions. And there are classes on EVERYTHING! Quilting, making a sexy bombshell dress, overlocking, cake decorating, you name it.

And there is a fab special offer on right now, $19.99 for each class until tomorrow night (US time)?

http://www.craftsy.com/classes

Husqvarna Viking 875 review

I splashed out and treated myself to a new sewing machine. I really wanted a machine with a bigger throat (the area to the right of the machine) for bigger quilts, and this seemed like the ideal compromise between price (it was not £2500 like the equivalent Bernina) and features (it has one of the largest work areas of a domestic machine for example. So I sold my industrial machine and my Husqvarna Rose and ordered the Viking 875.

And boy am I glad I did! It is amazing.

Some of the features I like:
*Automatic fixing of stitches at the beginning and end of stitching. No more backtacking. Ever.
*It automatically cuts your threads, and pulls the top thread down to the bottom of the fabric. So handy when you are in the middle of a large piece of fabric, no more endlessly long bobbing threads pulled out. Also good if you don’t want to move your sewing too much. Really handy.
* It adjusts the pressure on the foot automatically depending on what you are stitching. And this is not just a gimmick. I accidentally stitched some fabric with buttons which went under the presser foot, and it just went over the buttons like they weren’t there. No hiccups, no stalling, no jamming. Like a tank over an ant’s nest. And buttons is about the most extreme thing I would ever throw at it, and it just adjusted itself easily. Update: I stitched over hems made up of four layers of tweed and lining and it stitched it beautifully!
* The functions are mostly very intuitive. Good thing too as my machine shipped without a manual so I am having to figure it all out without one. Maybe helped by the fact that I was so familiar with the other Husqvarna’s functions but it is easy peasy to find your way around.
* Two bright lights. It lights up the whole sewing area, no more shadows on your work.
* It remembers your settings. So even when you turn your machine off it will go back into the stitch tension and needle position you were using. Annoying when you were previously reverse stitching as I discovered today but otherwise amazing. On the old machine I often left it on for hours or even days so it wouldn’t lose my settings. Now I can just turn it off. 
* The machine tells you when the bobbin thread is low. You can ignore it but then at least you have been warned. Really helpful!!
* When you start stitching it lowers the foot for you, when you take your foot off the pedal it raises the foot a little so you can pivot your work, and when you are finished (and have fixed and cut your threads) I will move the foot up and the needle out of your work so you can take your work out. Lowering and raising the foot is done by button at the front, no longer with a lever. Other than me automatically moving my hand to the back to do this (I am learning not to now!), it is very useful. And most of the lowering and raising is done exactly when you need it to be done so you don’t really all that often have to use those buttons.
* It has so many cool stitches!! Bicycles, cars, sweeties, stars, cross stitches, letters, hearts and about 150 more.

I have for the first time in about a year shoved the Jones straight stitch only aside and this is now my new baby!

Sorry, no pictures (yet) as my photostream from iPhone to Mac takes ages to update and I want to get this posted…

Inspired: London, a book chokka full of London handmade design

Inspired: London, a book chokka full of London handmade design

The amazing We Make London girls have done it again: they have published a who’s who of London designers working in the field of handmade crafts. And a jolly fabulous book it is too. And I am not just saying that because I’m in it!

Tonight then is press night, very exciting! Must pack some business cards : )
I will post some more as soon as I have a copy of the book in my paws

Quilts in progress

Quilts in progress

I am having a nice gentle week with hand quilting and some machine quilting.

I have almost finished the quilt for Mazzy whose mummy writes the lovely Mommyshorts blog. I have loved making this quilt and will be sad to see it go. But go it must! This week.

And my dear friend Leo had a little girl last week. I had been collecting scraps and cut them all up into triangles a fee weeks back without a clear idea how the final quilt would look. I knew it would work itself out in the end and it did! Almost done with that one too. I have been rushing that one a little as I want it done before I meet Arriela next week so the stitching is a bit scrappy but Leo, having become a friend after meeting her at one of my classes, will forgive me for that!

Sunny days this week interspersed with torrential rain. All the cats are suddenly hanging around again as it is getting cold out. From no visible cats we are now suddenly a proper 4 cat household again. Plus we have a feral kitty living in the shed. She comes in for food but is scared of people. She is fond of our Jasper though…

New fabric

New fabric

I got a lovely box today… Full on dots, stripes, stars, ginghams and plains… All the way from Holland. It looked so delicious I just wanted to dive right in!

What I have been quilting

What I have been quilting


So… the children have been back at school a few weeks and my time is filling up rapidly. Very rapidly. From thinking I had seas of time when Max was first at school to realising 6 hours is in fact not very much at all has not taken long at all!

I have made (and am still making) some gorgeous quilts, some cool cushions, and lots of other its and bobs. I am about to start a quilt for my friend Leo who is being induced today (go girl!) and cannot wait to meet her little girl, and I am also making a playmat to cover a UGLY baby playpen for my friend Laurel’s two girls who at 10 months are full of mischief and need to be contained just every now and then so mum can do stuff (but need to be in a stylish playpen as they are stylish twins born to stylish mummy and daddy! Some pics:

Mazzy’s quilt in progress

Mazzy’s quilt in progress

Double bed quilt I made for the art trail

Max’s new patchwork quilt

Lucas’ quilt

Quilt for Amanda White

New @, &, ? and ! cushion range
cheeky handmades