The longer I teach the more I find out just exactly how different my classes are from many other classes.
I don’t want this post to sound like me massively blowing my own trumpet as to me it’s more about eradicating bad teaching rather than promoting myself. But hey if that means another few students I’m obviously not complaining!
My ethos is to inspire confidence and to encourage a love of sewing. A love of creating, stitching, making and wearing clothes that fit and make you happy, knowing where to buy fabric and how to look after your sewing machine, the confidence to start and finish a project, to experiment, to play, to enjoy the process even if the result disappoints.
And I believe I manage to get this across most of the time. My classes are friendly, encouraging, in depth, fun, inspiring, and I give everyone as much time and attention as they need. I couldn’t teach another way. To see people skipping out of my class smiling is more important than getting paid even. To get emails from students saying how sewing has changed their lives, is invaluable.
And yet I hear horror stories of how other people teach. Over and over. Too large a class for anyone to learn much or dare to ask questions. Teaching from a real distance (learn to sew in a lecture theatre anyone?!). A dressmaking class with 8 students and everyone making something different. People left to their own devices week in week out. People being belittled for not knowing certain things (erm hello it’s a beginners class!!), and people being told they will never learn. People being set useless exercises. Recently someone came to me asking me to help her learn to sew in circles as this had been set as her homework. You’ll never need to sew in a circle baby! Teaching for teaching’s sake. Not inspiring or challenging or providing a supportive environment.
Hearing these stories breaks my heart. There is just no need to teach like that and to destroy someone’s confidence or potential love for sewing is unforgivable.
Needless to say then that’s not how I teach.
To book one of my classes click here
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I have had an extremely productive year this year although I produced much more finished knittingprojects than sewn ones (it’s a huge addiction now, I think about knitting ALL THE TIME!).
Next year no doubt I will knit about a million shawls and socks but I also want to make other planned things. Some of these are already started and been lingering, some for a long time, some of these have been planned (patterns bought even!) for a while, some of them for years.
In the early part of 2016 I took part in a quilt along, making foundation paper pieced blocks from the 1930s farmer’s wife book. It was fn but super time consuming, each blocjk taking at least two hours. After 10 blocks I gave up, but I do want to turn this into something. Maybe a scrappy patchy quilt along the lines of the crochet blankets below?
Talking of scrappy colourful blankets, the Gypsy Wife quilt pattern has been lingering in my stash for about 4 years. I LOVE the look of it but have never got further than reading the first few pages of the description. I really would like 2017 to be the year I make this! Maybe a quilt along with friends? Who’s in? I know Sam has this pattern and not made it yet. Fancy making it together in a quilting bee? Cake and tea?
I have been crocheting a blanket made from all different squares since about 2014. Since before I had a boyfriend basically ;-). I have a trunk full of patches but nowhere near enough yet for a blanket. I feel inspired by the pictures of these to make it scrappy and patchy AND finish it this year.
I want to crochet and knit some more kids ponchos. These are about 12 year old now! And I want to write the pattern down as these were just made up as I went along…
I started knitting this as a jumper after coming back from Arisaig n the west coast of Scotland in summer 2015, then decided to turn it into a poncho. It’s knitted with 2 ply alpaca yarn and skinny needles so progress is s l o w but this year I WILL finish it. Below are some lovely fair isle inspirational photos. Maybe I will even knit another fair isle cardigan too!
This year I WILL knit myself some fun and lovely fair isle socks!
I want to make at least one more pair of Ginger jeans, as they are just such a good fit. Some more bras too as I haven’t finished ANY this year and I have enough fabric and elastic to make about 20!
I am very close to finishing the Sue Pinner Carousel blanket, just a few more pentagons and the final rows. January. Promise.
I’m getting married in September and of course it’s going to be a handmade affair! I am making the dress, have started making a test of this 50s simplicity dress to see if it works. I also want to make a fabric/ yarn bouquet, all the bunting and poms poms and other decorations. Watch this space. I will try finalise everything in the summer holidays.
Having bought this funky shiffon cat fabric for next to nothing on the market I want to make a summery tunic dress with it.
I have long wanted to make a spider’s web quilt and seeing the pattern for the quilt turn up on Instagram reminded me. I have tons of scraps I can use I haven’t made a quilt since spring of this year so this will be timely.
I have had the Swoon pattern for a few years now. 2017 will hopefully be the year I will make one!
This coming year I also want to make a modern wedding ring quilt. I especially love the scrappy and fun grey one on the left.
A few months ago I learnt to macrame. Plant pot holders don’t really do it for me but I have seen some great wall hangings I would like to try my hand at.
Another quilt block I would love to try is the pineapple block. I do think it would test my patience severly to make a whole quilt out of it as it’s rather time consuming but maybe I will make a mini quilt?
I really would love to crochet a rainbow unicorn! Whether I ever will is debatable but you never know…
Last but not least next year there will be another e17 art trail. The theme this time will be STEAM, how the arts and sciences interact. I have all kinds of plans for mathmatical crochet and quilting. This will no doubt occupy a lot of my thinking and time in the months, no really, realistically the weeks leading up to the Art Trail. Am excited already!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
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So I’m in my new studio, I taught my first class in there and it’s absolutely perfect.
It will no doubt take a while yet before I’m completely done and before my living room looks normal again but I’m on my way. Nice as the studio looks now, the living room (where I taught before) looks like a bomb site. I’ve been packing and pulling stuff off shelves and sorting things out but right now there is just tons of stuff waiting to go into the studio.
In the studio then my floor is hot pink, it needs a coat of varnish still but it looks gorgeous. I’ve bought a super massive solid dark wooden table off a friend. It nearly broke Sean and myself getting it up the stairs and then out down the external stairs as this baby is heavy but it looks amazing and can sit 8 people! The first curtain is up and the first storage unit is up.
Today I’ve been getting intimate with my bags of scraps, seriously there is about 7 big bags! I did a lot of ironing them to patch some onto a quilt I didn’t like (but love now it has patchy circles on it!) but there’s still a lot of sorting to do. Maybe by colour (-) yes I may have to succumb to a *system*…
My studio is warm and cosy and colourful and spacious, it’s a cat free zone so all is staying clean and cat hair free, I’m surrounded by gorgeous plants, the pond, trees, birds, foxes and of course many cats. The neighbours’ chickens are right next to me. It’s pretty idyllic! It so bright and peaceful in there, I kinda want to move in!
I’m running lots of classes in the studio so come and sample one: http://bookwhen.com/cheekyhandmades
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Seb and Joe finished up here on Wednesday. It was sad to see them go on one level as they’ve been amazing to have around and I sincerely hope we keep in touch. But obviously it was exciting to see the studio ready for me filling it full of paint and fabric and furniture and students too.
I’ve had a few false starts with the floor and couldn’t really settle on a colour. I tried white and although I painted about a third of the floor I wasn’t feeling it. You know what it was? Too white. Too sensible. Not me at all. So last night I bought some pink paint and I’m SO feeling this! Of course it had to be pink.
So on this freezing but sunny morning I’m in the studio, shivering, listening to radio 6 and drinking coffee and PAINTING THE FLOOR PINK
I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the workmanship of Seb and Joe. Seb runs the company, Liberty Lading, and has a lot of experience building all kinds and under all kinds of conditions. He lives on a tug on the south coast and has made the whole boat habitable and homely inside in his spare time. He also makes his own unique woodburners for which I’m in the market as soon as I’ve saved some more pennies (building a studio is an expensive thing to do! I’ve spent £400 or so in DIY shops this month alone!). Joe was his sidekick on this project but also works in a bike shop. Interesting fact: he has built his own bike out of bamboo. It looks amazing!
Anyway contact me if you want a high standard anything built. This studio is perfect right down to the last nail. Seb is a perfectionist and a proper craftsman.
Back to painting. I have one week to make this studio inhabitable as next Saturday I’m running my first class in there!
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Having woken up in the night to the loudest thunder ever, and some of the wildest rain ever, the budding studio held out well. Luckily the lads had covered everything up and apart from me sweeping a tiny bit of standing water off the surface all was well.
In fact within half an hour it was boiling hot and sunny. Today the lovely Pete joined Seb and Joe. He cleared all the shed panels we had chucked over the fence into our very understanding neighbour’s garden (they haven’t been in their garden for two years so don’t feel like I’m mullering someone’s beautiful garden!). I took control of an amazing tool, a reciprocating saw, and spent hours cutting down overgrown shrubs and weeds. I want one!!
The electrician turned up to lay the armoured cable, three more walls have gone up, lots of tea and coffee was drunk and much laughter was heard from the garden despite Seb and Pete having a rum hangover the size of Iceland.
Around 3.30 a huge storm broke out and it started chucking it down. I got soaked on the school run and came home to find Vanessa the sparky, Seb, Pete and Joe in the kitchen staring out at the rain. No mean feat as my kitchen is about 3×6 feet! It took some effort to get the water off the studio floor once it finally stopped raining but the sun came back out and the lads pulled another 3 hours of work.
We now have four wall structures with openings for the double doors and the three huge windows I already have, we have a roof structure and some lovely tarpaulins stretches across the top to keep any future rain off. It is starting to really take shape! The lads are indefatigable and Seb is coming in tomorrow (Saturday) whilst Joe is off to his other job in the bike shop for two days. Astonishing how hard these guys work. And yet they smile and joke non stop. I love them a little already and won’t want them to leave after another week on site!
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Tuesday night the lads didn’t finish pouring concrete for the posts (for the whole studio to sit on) until almost midnight. Thanks HSS for turning up with the mixer at 7.30pm! Grrr.
Sean and I went to Bethnal Green to collect a HUGE sash window which had been donated to the studio by the lovely Juliet. It is big enough to function as a passage out to the back garden behind the studio which is great. There’s been so much goodwill towards this project. it’s been brilliant. Obviously a lot of the capital has been raised through crowd funding but there’s been materials donated too as well as time by friends who want to come and help me paint the studio next week.
Anyway. Wednesday morning broke with 6 lovely concrete pillars for the studio to sit on. First thing in the morning a big truck with wood turned up. Cannot believe this will all fit into my garden!! It took the lads three hours at least to carry it all in. Not even one tiny plant was bent and they somehow squeezed it all in!The whole day was spent building the base platform. Once that was in situ it was easy to see just exactly how big this studio was going to be!
Look at those cats being curious. Especially Theo (the Siamese looking one), I’m surprised he didn’t turn up stuck in a concrete post or nailed to the subfloor as he is SO curious!
Today was a momentous day. The base structure was covered with insulation, OSB plates and suddenly I had a dance floor!
I have been busy planning how it will all look, storage, lights and what to do with the floor. I LOVE this part! I am making blinds for all 3 windows and probably curtains for the door too to keep out the cold. The outside will be painted a blue-grey shade called Misty Lake and the floor will be stained a dark oak.And then just before the lads left they pulled up the first wall structure they had built. We cracked open a bottle of rose and toasted the build. Seb and Joe are the nicest people you could have on site, like mates I could met in the 80s but somehow didn’t. It is a joy having morning coffee and a singalong to Radio 6 and regular chats during the day. I will miss them when they’ve gone home again! Suddenly it is looking very exciting (even more exciting!!) and HUGE! It will be about 2.5m at the front with a slightly sloping roof, and 5.5m by 4m floor space.
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