Bespoke hand stitched indigo quilt

Bespoke hand stitched indigo quilt

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A long time ago I was shown photos of a quilt made in India, sold for a shocking price by a well known interiors shop, and asked if I could make something like it but unique to the client. Of course I snapped up the commission and I’ve been working on it on and off ever since.

I’ve never had such bad luck with a project.

We bought this beautiful hand printed linen for the back and I sourced lots of indigo prints online. As always I washed all the fabrics first to make sure they were then colour fast and had done all their shrinking.

I decided to hand quilt it, using a thick cotton bedspread as wadding as this have the quilt a heavy bed spread like quality.

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After working on it for many hours I realised I didn’t like what I using instead if wadding. It was heavy but not comfy, bulky but not lofty. But I had put so much time in it ready. I carried on stitching.

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It needed washing after one of my cats used it for curling up on so without a thought I bunged it in the machine on a cool short wash. All the fabric had been pre washed so I did not expect what was about to happen. Something blue ran so badly all the gorgeous linen and all the white in the patterned fabric was patchy blue. I almost cried. Instead though I decided it was a sign to start again. I ripped ALL the stitches out, months of work. I separated the front and back and took out the offending middle. I washed all pieces in colour run remover twice to remove most of the blue wash.

Then I started again with a gorgeous cotton wadding.

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This time everything went according to plan. It still took a few months to hand quilt but I was so chuffed when it was done. It looked gorgeous. One last gentle wash cycle and then it could be handed over. No. Way. What happened here? I took the quilt out of the machine only to find it covered in tons of white “bobbles” like some cheap polycotton duvet cover. No. Way. Turns out the expensive cotton wadding had worked it’s way out through the quilt top. Many mang tedious hours of removing most by hand later and I was SO ready to send that quilt off to it’s new home! I love you but I cannot live with you. Sorry quilt. Off you go.

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Utrecht, Netherlands, pt1

Utrecht, Netherlands, pt1

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Max and myself are just returning from a week in Utrecht. I only lived near and in Utrecht for 8 years between the ages of 11 and 19 but it is a beautiful town which I love visiting. It will always hold a special place in my heart. My parents live in nearby in Zeist which is in the woods and pretty (although too quiet for me!) And of course some of my best friends still live there, the lovely Aster, Annemieke and Nancy (with her brilliant kids Eva and Diede).

One of the highlights of any visit is always the weekly fabrics market. One long street is filled with stalls selling fabric and trimmings.

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European fabric is cheap and very cheerful. It is almost always 100% cotton and usually 1.5m wide (compare to the UK’s 1.2m) so you get even more fabric for your buck.

Needless to say I try to go over with a purse full of money and an empty suitcase. It never quite works out as I’m travelling with kids so I cannot travel light but I always come home with treasures all the same.

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This time I didn’t buy too much fabric, still being on a fabric diet and trying to use up my stash instead, but I spent a fortune on ribbons, pompom trims and thread. Bit of a neon theme I discovered later!

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I did buy a little fabric, I was quite taken with the combo…

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I highly recommend a visit. The market is on every Saturday morning until 1pm. I can find the address for you if you leave a comment. Apparently there’s a big one in Amsterdam on Mondays but I’ve not been there before.

New quilt commission

New quilt commission

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It has been ages since I’ve been commissioned to make a new quilt and I’ve missed it. A lovely local woman who’s got 6 month old twins (as well as two older children) donated money to my crowdfunding campaign in exchange for two quilts for the babies.

We had a meeting and she showed me some lovely things she had collected for their room including the playmat above. I then went away and came up with a design and bought some fabric and now I’m working on them.

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I’m making a central panel for each with their name on it, and their twins name worked into it too, and I’m using scrappy log cabin blocks around the outside. They are big blocks, about 10″ square. So much fun to make!

I have lots of other work I should be getting on with but I’m addicted to these blocks and the yummy colours

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Watch this space for more and don’t forget there’s still time to get your own heavily discounted quilt, or sewing classes, by donating to the crowd funding cause for a new sewing studio here.

Sewing plans

Sewing plans

I have finally pulled some patterns from my stash that really NEED to be made. Some I’ve had for over a year! I went on some crazy pattern buying sprees last year, some in paper format but many many more in downloadable form, which is kinda worse as I don’t even have them sitting there starting at me, reminding me! I will do a post about my downloaded patterns soon too.

I really want to make this jacket. I’ve actually been waiting to find the perfect fabric (and haven’t yet). Thinking cord, maybe moss green…

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I am also looking for fabric for this. I feel this may be made over and over, having two tall teenage sons who both love shirts!

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And I still want to make this. I don’t think it will look great on me, with my boobs and stuff, but I love the style

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And finally I have been ordered to make many pairs of shorts for the 6 year old. He has shot up so much that all of last year’s shorts now look like hot pants on him, not a good look!

Happy sewing!
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Kids Clothes Week

Kids Clothes Week

20140314-102422.jpgAmazing timing. The same week we had children’s clothes making on the Great British Sewing Bee I’ve seen the next Kids Clothes Week advertised here.

This a wonderful twice yearly online event with lots of pattern designers and bloggers showing off their funky new togs for kiddies.

Of course we don’t quite have the fabric range here in the UK- we struggle to find nice and especially cheap and nice jersey and denim etc so don’t feel disheartened to see people whipping up things that we are unable to reproduce easily.

But really sewing for children is such fun! The garments are small so they are quick to make, they don’t take much fabric so you can splash out a little, and kids just look so god damn cute in stuff you make them! Also no curves to take into account to fitting is pretty easy. 20140314-102447.jpg20140314-103113.jpg
Got the bug? Don’t know where to start? I’m running a class on Wednesday 19th March which will teach you to make some cute elasticised pull up pants. Great for PJs and dressing up costumes but made in cord or linen they are also great for daytime wear. Bring a meter of fab if and I will supply the elastic, the knowledge, the machine, and the tea.

In the meantime I counted my patterns for little dresses (now remember I have three sons!) and came up with 8!!! So I’m doing a sewing week challenge making up one of each pattern. Join me?

Booking here

Why do I teach and what do I get out of it…

Why do I teach and what do I get out of it…

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When I first began teaching it was out of necessity, a way of making enough money to pay the mortgage. I had previously been making a living selling my makes at craft fairs which is not a good way to make a living! I mean it’s fulfilling but not financially rewarding at all.

Teaching seemed a good stop gap. I presumed I would have taught everyone in e17 and then I would need to get a “proper” job. How wrong I was! That was 4 years ago and I’ve not looked back at all.

I’ve grown as a teacher and as a person too. My students often teach me as well as me teaching them. They may not realise this happens. It can be as simple as a new composition with my fabrics, colour combos I had not thought off. Or it may be they tell me about their work and their lives and that teaches me things. Or sometimes my reaction to people teaches me a lot! I may have an instant like for someone and I try work out why. Sometimes students become friends. Sometimes (extremely rarely) people jar with me and that is just as interesting when I try to work out why!

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I love empowering people to express themselves creatively. It makes me really happy to hear that someone feels she (usually a she, although of course I do teach men too!) has learnt this amazing new skill which will unlock all kinds of new things in their life. Sewing is not just about practical skills – although of course it is an extremely useful skill to have and I believe everyone needs to be able to operate a sewing machine and sew on a button or put a hem back in!

Sewing is however so much more. It is a means to being creative, to making something for yourself or as a present, as art, or as something useful. Being able to think of a garment and then knowing how to create it or knowing how to follow a pattern or knowing how to make a fancy dress costume for your child… Priceless. It is empowering and fun and makes you happy.

Talking of happy, sewing is amazing as a therapy too. It won’t cure your depression but it can certainly help you feel better. If nothing else if you immerse yourself in something creative you will feel a sense of achievement and it will have taken your mind off your worries for a while. I have crafted my way through some major crises in my life and nowadays I feel very odd and a bit twitchy if I cannot sew or knit or crochet for a few days. To imagine some people feel like that all the time…!

Anyway I’ve gone off on a tangent. Not an unpleasant one and I could seriously go on about this for hours but you may get me by now.

I love my job. It gives me enormous pleasure to set people on the path to crafty happiness. I love knowing that not all but quite a few of my students now “get” sewing and they can no longer imagine a life without it.

Inspired to do a class? Have a look at the schedule on http://bookwhen.com/cheekyhandmades

Happy sewing!

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Golden ninja costume

Golden ninja costume

My 6 year old is obsesseIMG_2989d with Lego Ninjago and really wanted a golden ninja costume. We searched everywhere but could not find one. So of course I had to make him one! We ordered “gold” fleece and shiny gold fabric and some green lining fabric and then I spent a week on and off sewing. It’s not 100% finisheed because I foolishly added the shoulder pads to the sleeve top rather than the neck line and also still need to make the hood but it’s already seen a lot of wear!

I simply made a pair of joggies and decorated them appropriately and then made a wrap around jacket. This is a bit too wide in the shoulders but hey. it’s gold so no complaints! Because it’s all fleece it’s super comfy and should wash reasonably well.

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