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!
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
My 6 year old is obsessed 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.
I have to come clean, I have A LOT of sewing machines. Bit of an Ebay habbit combined with people giving me machines, car boot sales etc, and before you know it you have about 20! Yes, 20.
So I thought I would do a little series of reviews on them. Some of them are just functional, some are just decorative, and most are both. I will start with my Christmas present from my dad. It’s an Elna Grasshopper.
My dad told me about this beautiful old machien only last year. I had not heard of them, you rarely see them and they tend to sell for a lot of money. Just a few months later he found one in a second hand shop for the princely sum of €17!! I know, shocking. It’s in its original case, with the handbook and all it’s feet included. The plug had burnt out so my clever dad wired a new socket in (it looks fine!) and now it works with standard computer leads. It woks with a knee lever instead of a foot pedal. Took me some time to get used to as you end up sitting very differently, but it’s nice not to have a pedal which can go off on walkies (as they do).
The machine purrs along, despite being almost 70 years old, and it’s a joy to use. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a small and super cute straight stitch only machine. I have made a quilt on it and it doesn’t mind lots of layers. Really the only annoying things about this little machine is that the stitch length selector (which includes the reverse selector) is to the right of the bed and it’s not easy to access when you are sewing so it seriously slows you down. Not sure why it’s there. I guess they didn’t want to break the clean line of the front of the machine. Design over practicality!
This last picture is her in action doing some free motion on the quilt I had just made on her. Gorgeous stitching!
I’m taking part in a crochet-along with Moogly making a different 12″ square every two weeks. After I had made the first one which I didn’t really like I bought some gorgeous new colours and am making the next 23 squares from these colours. I’ve also made some extra granny squares and just this week some more squares from the same designer (Aurora) who gave us last week’s pattern.
Are you joining in? It’s free and fun and you are no doubt going to pick up tons of new techniques. What’s not to love?
I have three boys but only one still young enough to like me making clothes for him, he is six and called Max and has great style!
It’s been really hard in the past to find cool clothes for boys. Luckily I’m not the only person who likes sewing kids clothes and wants to include sons in this. In fact there’s great funky pattern designers who make amazing stuff for boys and there’s even the Celebrate the boycampaign!! There’s a sweet looking book called sewing for boys, I don’t have it so cannot comment on how well it works or even if the patterns are cute but check it out if you see it in a bookshop. There’s several sew-alongs from the book on it’s website Sewing for boys
One of the funky pattern companies is Blank Slate Patterns We’ve made their cool BBC vest (a waistcoat), various pairs of W trousers and now this week I finished the Berkshire Blazer. I had actually cut this out before Christmas but life sorta overtook things a bit. It didn’t in the end take long at all to sew although the combo of chunky top stitch thread and heavy weight cotton canvas fabric meant my machine would not make some of the stitches no matter what I tried 🙁
Here’s some pics. I cannot get this boy to pose at all! Hope you appreciate the filthy patchwork that are our pavements here in East london!
And here’s a pic of Max in full fancy dress (note the army outfit, trilby hat and tie) on the Tube just so you know how stylish he is 😉
I have finally figured out how to blog-on-the-go on my website’s own blog so I am going to use that from now on to blog.
Make sure you pop along to say hi and follow me on there. I have some great blogging posts lined up!
Find me here
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I’ve been working on this quilt for a long time. Sadly as I was nearing completion I washed it and something ran really badly. Which was odd because all the fabric had been pre-washed. It near destroyed the quilt and eventually I decided to separate the quilt front and the back and take out the wadding so I could wash them in colour run remover separately. This was a mammoth job and hear breaking too, ripping through all the stitching, hand and machine, that had been added over the months. But I thought the beautiful hand printed linen backing, which was most badly affected, might not be saveable and I thought I would have no option but to start again with a new backing.
Luckily the colour run remover removed about 90% of the blue run. And I realised this was a perfect opportunity to remove what I was using as wadding as I actually did not like it at all (it was a bed spread and it was heavy but not warm and also too textured which felt odd in the quilt. So I turned it into a positive thing and I have ow made some different decisions about the quilting too. Instead of close straight lines stitched by hand and by machine in blocks, which looked a bit weird, I am going to hand quilt around the pieced edges, and I started today whilst feasting on series 2 of Breaking bad (I know, watching tv in the day, it felt very decadent!).
After a bit of a lull we are restarting the local stitch and bitch knitting, hooking and whatever else you want to do with a needle meet ups. We will be meeting the fourth Wednesday of every month in the Bell pub on Forest Road from about 8. It’s totally informal and friendly, just having a drink (or not!) and chatting and hooking. Just stitching, no bitching!
Bit late to the 2014 plans lists but I’ve had a late start to the year, my littlest boy has only just gone back to school and I’ve been teaching flat out since. I also have way too many sewing plans!
Here are just the paper patterns I bought last year that I want to make this year:
I also would love to make my 13 year old a new dressing gown and have just the pattern for it:
Then there the many many Craftsy classes I’ve enrolled on. I made a list the other day and there were 32! I would love to finish the Bombshell dress finally, make some perfect fitting jeans, knit some more yoke jumpers, finish Carol Doak’s paper piecing class and oh too many really!
I want to make the following quilts: Swedish Bloom from the Patchwork Please book
I also want to make a Medallion quilt as seen in the Liberty Love book:
And also the Tulip patch quilt, well actually every quilt in the most gorgeous quilt book of 2013, Quilty Fun. What a stunner!
I want to make more kids clothes, I’ve just bought a jeans pattern and also got this book for Christmas:
I already have a blazer for Max all cut out, I’ve just been waiting for my new overlocker. I’ve bought a Juki one and it’s fantastic! Different ball game from the Janome I owned before altogether. So now to find some time to make it.
I will talk about my knitting plans in another post.
If you fancy joining me in some sewing adventures I have put TONS of new classes on the schedule, from beginners classes to intermediate dressmaking, quilting and paper piecing and alterations and many many more. The whole schedule is on here
Hopefully see you soon! Happy 2014!
I’ve lived in Walthamstow for over 8 years now and guess I’ve become a bit blasé about the amount of fabric shops and stalls that can be found just on the street market. It was only when I found other people telling me they were visioning from quite far away just to buy fabric here that I realised that of course, not everyone has this many shops locally!
So I thought it was high time to do a little blogpost about them.
I myself always start at the bottom of the market, near St James street station. There’s many other delights on this stretch of the market and it’s by far the quietest part of the market so I often don’t make it to the top!
I usually just pop into Hussains Fabrics for cheap cottons and linens, they also sell blackout fabric, wadding and felt as well as fake fur and amazing Asian fabrics. When you see something you like, buy it. That goes for all the shops here. They often sell end of line fabric and you are unlikely to see it again next time you visit. Which is of course it’s downfall as I cannot use it for products that need to replicated over and over. But then again it is like shopping at a car boot sale as it’s exciting and mostly super cheap!
The green fronted Fabric Shop across the road from Hussains is probably the cheapest of all the shops. Everything is stacked against the walls in bolts and they truly have the most amazing array! Very little in the way of cottons but at £1 or £2 a meter you are bound to come home with something cool!
Make sure to visit Ribbons. It’s my go to shop for zips but of course they sell hundreds of beautiful ribbons!
Each shop on that stretch of the market will tempt you with more bolts of funky home decor, cheap silks and bright jerseys.
Cross over to the busy top part of the market to find more haberdashery shops and fabric stalls. Make sure you pop into the little fabric shop on a side street near Sainsburys. It sells cheap Liberty like prints and great poly cotton prints, perfect for cheap bunting. She often has denims and all kinds of amazing fabrics too.
After all fabric shopping that you should pop into the International Supermarket for the best veggies, Turkish breads, cakes, olives and cheeses.
And really, no visit to the market is complete without a super tasty flat bread from Yilderim bakery on St James street, very near the station. The breads are hand made on the premises and are just the best!