Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Happy Christmas!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
 to all my readers.

End of Term - Show and Tell

Last week the Learn to Sew students I teach (with Kent Adult Education Service) completed their first 10 week course.
Diane surrounded by her handiwork. 

I have been so pleased with their progress, and couldn't wait to photograph them with all their 'makes'.
Seven ladies enrolled, all with no, or limited sewing experience. Some had borrowed machines, others had their own, but were unsure how to use them, and one bought in a 80 year old hand operated singer to do her sewing on.
Jackie at her sewing machine.

I usually like to run my classes like a workshop, with students choosing what they want to make, but with beginners a little more structure is needed. So I started the course by showing how to wind a bobbin and how to thread the machine, then a little sewing practice on scrap fabric. Not too much of this though, it's much better to learn by making something useful. 
We started with lined shoulder bags - lots of straight sewing and a buttonhole; moved onto simple cushion covers with a zipped opening across the centre back; then a cushion with a frill and instructions to follow (click for a link to my other blog and a tutorial for this cushion); a piped cushion cover, with a hidden zip in the piped seam and some machine appliqué on a lavender bag.
Nicole, ready to sew.

A few of the students wanted to try other things. Appliqué on a wash bag; aprons, shopping bags - and Kate, a complete beginner wanted to make boxed and piped cushion covers for a rocking chair (yikes!!)  - but hey! look at her achievement.....
Didn't Kate do well?

Two students made a lined bag with a flat, stiffened bottom and another finished the course by making an apron with a curved pocket on the front.

Their enthusiasm was great and all the students made other items at home, using the patterns and instructions used in class. 
Some more pictures of all their work:
Diane's cushions made from vintage and re-used fabrics, and a tweed bag from an old skirt.
Diane, using her hand operated singer to attach piping to a cushion front. She has done really well to produce  more items at home.

Nicole, showing off her frilled cushion.

Alison, with her roomy, flat bottomed shopping bag.

Jackie's cushions, bag, shoe bag and appliquéd lavender sachet.

Kate, at her new Janome, with all her makes.
Kate really got into applique - her daughters now have some fab T-shirts decorated by mummy!
Kate's cushion matches her box cushions.

I'm so pleased with all their achievements, and looking forward to them returning next term, along with some new beginners. 

Well Done Ladies!!

My soft furnishing students also completed the first term of a 30 week course, and here are a couple of my long term students with their fabulous cushions.

A trio of Union Jacks by Rose. Aren't they fabulous?
Rose, with her cushions.

Jill loves using this gorgeous linen fabric from Ada and Ina, and combined it with some pretty cotton she brought back from a holiday in Japan.
The printed fabric strip conceals a zip opening!
The other side of Jill's cushion.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Whether the Weather.....

.........we still have to take the pooch for a walk!
The very fetching cagoule I made Purdy last year still fits her, unlike some of my own winter clothes, and she very happily wore it for her walk this morning.

So we took a long stroll, receiving some wry smiles and some lovely compliments along the way, and all I had to do when we got home was to break the snowballs off her feet then wipe them dry. 
Without the cagoule she would have collected hard balls of snow all over her chest, tummy and legs, which she finds quite painful; frequently stopping and trying to bite them off. She doesn't have to be thawed out and blown dry with the hair dryer either!

Seasonal berries in the garden.

We really must get that leaking gutter repaired on the conservatory!

How have you coped with the first snow of this winter?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Christmas Craft Fairs

I'm busy working hard, sewing up more items for my stall, in between teaching and making a set of commissioned loose covers. 

I had such a good day last Sunday in Lamberhurst, Kent, at their Vintage Christmas Fair. I sold loads of lavender sachets, make-up bags, some aprons, peg bags, needle books and pin cushions, and the lovely 1950's barkcloth handbag that is pictured in my blog shop.

Here's my stall just after setting up:

Below is the stall next to me, belonging to Julie Anne of 'Love Nest'. 
Although we were selling very similar items - cushions, scented hearts, bags and decorations, we were both very busy and sold well. Julie Anne uses modern designer fabrics from Cath Kidston, Vanessa Arbuthnot and others, whereas most of my items are made from vintage and pre-used fabrics.

Across the hall from me was Sarah of 'Cotton Kiss', with her fabulous and fun hobby horses, children's bags and aprons, and some really lovely kits to make a felt stocking. This was Sarah's first fair, but I think she did well - her products were lovely.

Sadly I didn't find the time to take more photos of other tables, but others included painted furniture and wooden home accessories; handmade cards, really lovely ones and for Cancer Research too; vintage clothes and bric a brac; real foliage wreaths and several jewellery stalls.

Next weekend, on Saturday and Sunday I have a table here:

The Great Dixter Christmas Fair
Sat & Sun, 27th and 28th November 2010
Great Dixter is delighted to announce our Christmas Fair which will take place in the Great and Yeomans Halls, surrounding barns and out buildings. With an opportunity to see the garden in winter then warm yourself by an open fire in the house.

Our diverse stalls will include products from our own shop and nursery including potted bulbs and unusual gift ideas, as well as stalls hosted by local craftsmen such as vintage tools, seeds, and stalls for all gift needs: including cashmere knitwear, jewellery, scented candles and handmade gifts for all sized pockets. The Gardens, Nursery and Gift Shop will be open to the public for the weekend of the fair. Fresh, hot food and light refreshments will be available.
Time: 10am to 4pm
Entrance Fee: £5.00 (Under 16 free)
Coaches parties welcome if pre booked - call 01797 252878
To book a stall please email

I'm really looking forward to doing this one. It will be my most prestigious fair yet! 

If you are nearby do drop in and say hello!

Monday, 15 November 2010

My Recent Makes for the Christmas Fairs

Pretty make-up bags made in vintage barkcloth (do you recognise the fabric from my last post?);
recycled Sanderson's 'Little Chelsea'; denim and vintage cotton print. All lined with waterproof fabric.

Vintage linen and Edwardian lace lavender hearts and sachets.
 All filled to the brim with lovely lavender from Kent.

 Vintage fabric covered and padded coat hangers, trimmed with vintage satin ribbon bows. Tiny lavender hearts hang on matching ribbon to make the wardrobe smell beautiful and keep the moths away.

A couple of woollen checked stockings, trimmed with embroidered silk and some vintage fringing to match.

A selection of vintage linen stockings, trimmed with vintage printed cotton from Germany, recycled gingham, or old ticking. Vintage picot lace or new scarlet bobbles decorate the tops and vintage buttons secure the hanging loops.

Small stockings for little presents....

..........bigger stockings for bigger presents!

Some of these items will be for sale in my blogshop soon!

And lastly just a little picture of my stall at the recent Christmas Fair held in Goudhurst Parish church.

Not a great picture, as I think my camera is on it's way out, but you can see better pictures of the fair on my dear friend Lin's blog - LetticeLeaf
We had a good time and I actually did very well in the three hours we were there. And then Linda invited me back to her absolutely delightful house for a lovely, scrummy, home cooked lunch. 

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Seaside Brocante

My lovely friend, enthusiastic sewing pupil, and shoulder to cry on - Letticeleaf - and I, had a lovely day out in Whitstable on Saturday taking in all the lovely shops; Tapas for lunch; cappuccino's and Bakewell tart, and this:

..... a delightful vintage and designer/makers Brocante

Rather foolishly I didn't take my camera, so have no images inside the hall, but I can show you my purchases and link you to some of the stall holders.

From all the delights on offer I chose these vintage buttons from amongst several baskets on one stall.

I love the label on the back of the linen buttons,

especially the care instructions at the bottom! I've never thought of buttons  suffering 'injury' before!

Then I bought some lovely pieces of fabric from Stephen and Judy at All Things Vintage and Beautiful.

A pretty vintage cotton print.

A single vintage Barkcloth curtain.

A little strip of some vintage textured rayon.

Some pieces of vintage Barkcloth, that look as though they were originally from a sample book, with a lovely Chrysanthemum and Parisian landmark print.

 And a vintage linen cushion cover with a gorgeous floral print

Then Lin and I spent a while talking to Jane Bourne, of The Cloth Hall, who produces absolutely beautiful scarves, shoulder capes and shrugs from her own sewn and textured fabrics made from swirls of yarns, silks and threads. Jane also prints and paints lovely designs onto woollen fabrics and mohair.
Such a talented lady with a rich and varied history of working in textiles and with famous designers - you must have a chat with her if you ever meet her.
I just couldn't resist buying this fabulous scarf from her - I just love the muted colours...

Isn't it just beautiful?

While we were at the Brocante, Lin and I did a bit of networking and made some contacts for a fair that we are hoping to organise later in the New Year - dates, venues, etc are a work in progress at the moment, but keep a look out for the Sellers and Buyers information when everything has been confirmed.