Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A New Direction! Memory Bears!


I've had the idea to try making memory/keepsake bears for a little while. I finally got around to trying it a couple of months ago, and this is my first proper attempt! The pattern is by Funky Friends Factory and is really well designed and written. I also found the photo tutorial vital for my first couple of tries, but am confident enough to use just the written pattern, now!

This first try is made from babies' clothing which I bought from charity shops. Unlike the free Honey pattern, that I tried out first; for this bear, I used woven interfacing which worked out much better.



For my second attempt, I advertised on my Facebook page for people willing to experiment on their special memory items for an introductory price. A lovely lady who has lost her daughter to cancer accepted the offer, and I made this bear from fabrics she had left over from sewing she had done for her daughter.

When I first thought about making these bears, it was to make them out of babies' outgrown clothing, but I have had more interest from people wanting them as memories of loved ones passed away. This adds an extra emotional dimension and, to me, an added responsibility! It was quite emotional when I revealed the above bear to the customer.




I've had interest from one customer who would like a bear  made from her late husband's shirt so I decided to experiment further before agreeing to cut into her precious fabric. This bear is made from a man's shirt that I bought, again, from a charity shop, for £1! My first bear and this one will now be used as advertising samples when I go to craft fayres, to show potential customers what they look like.

I've made one more than these for a young mum, in memory of her mother, for her little boy. She hasn't received it yet, and although I think it unlikely she will see it here first, I wouldn't like to risk it.

So, that's the story of my little foray, so far, into memory bear making. Funky Friends Factory has so many lovely patterns to choose from but I am going to exercise self-control, otherwise it's going to cost me more in samples than I can make from them. I might give the bunny a try, though, because it's gorgeous!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 16 June 2017

Bagorama!


Yes, I've been back at the bag making over the past few weeks. It started with this one (above) that I made for myself from my own pattern and some vintage upholstery fabrics. I originally made it with one handle that was sewn into one side at the front and one side at the back, but it didn't hang very well. So I went back to the more traditional 2 handles. The original handle had a wooden ring on both ends, but I decided not to add more, and have them off-set on the 2 handles.


Next came this similar bag. Same pattern, upholstery fabrics, but metal 'rings' this time in the handles. I have to say, I find putting a bag together with tabs for the rings, and adding the rest of the handle later is easier than wresting with full handle straps. And there is much more scope for variety.


What have we here? Well, I do believe it's the same pattern yet again! And again, below. It's nice to be able to get so many 'looks' out of the same pattern. All the fabrics are reclaimed upholstery weight and the buttons are vintage.


After this lot, the bag-making urge disappeared and now I'm going in a slightly different direction. Although, I'm sure there are still more bags in my future!

Oooh, I can't believe I nearly forgot this one. I just popped into my photos to see if I'd missed anything, and there it was. I'm really pleased with how this one turned out. It's 4 different denims and a bit of abstract applique.

As I said before, the bag in the top pic is mine. I've sold the second one, but can't remember whether I've listed the rest in my Folksy shop. I'd better get over there and check. (I just checked and they're all there, phew).

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 22 May 2017

Woolly Adventures!


I'm finally able to tick something off my bucket list. That thing is 'to knit a pair of socks'! And here they are! I even managed to match the stripes. I actually knitted another pair straight after these, too, to use up the yarn.

This is a different photo of the same pair. I didn't take any of the 2nd pair. They are almost exactly the same - just a little shorter, to be sure I didn't run out of yarn. Talking of yarn, this is knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners, Mallard, 4ply. And the pattern is from the Winwick Mum blog Sockalong, although it's not a pattern, as such, but a series of instructions on how to make a sock that fits YOU (or anyone). I found the instructions really straightforward to follow, apart from the Kitchener stitch to join at the toes, which I could not get the hang of. So, instead, I found a tutorial on You Tube which really helped.


In other woolly goings on: a few weeks ago, we had a try at needle felting at the craft group I help to run. One of our members brought along all the equipment and showed us how to do it. We all started by covering a polystyrene egg, and this is my effort. Most of the members finished their eggs and were well into the flat, needle-felted landscape by the end of our meeting. I, however, had only managed the green under-layer on my egg, and the orange and pink rings! I did use the last 15 mins to make a start on my landscape, but had no idea where I was going with it.


A few days before the craft group next met, I thought I'd better finish the landscape, especially as I'd asked everyone else to bring theirs for me to photograph. And here it is. It looks almost acceptable from a distance.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 17 March 2017

How much detail is too much?


When I catch up on my blog reading, I notice all the different styles of blog post there are. I'm aware of the ones that keep my attention, the ones where I only look at the lovely pictures, and the ones where I just have to read every word. Of course, it depends on a lot of factors, such as the ratio of words to pictures, the subject matter, the quality of photos etc. Despite noticing all of this, I am still none-the-wiser as to what that magic ingredient is.


This post is going to be about one thing only; My hexie quilt. I'm going to avoid doing my usual thing of adding too many subjects.

I must have started this quilt nearly 10 years ago, when I had the crazy idea to hand sew a large hexagon quilt. I tried to work out how many stitches I made but it was all too mind-boggling. To give you an idea, there are around 25-30 in each hexagon side seam.


The white cotton sheet that I dyed 2 shades of blue for this quilt was quite heavy, and hard on the fingers to sew, so I decided to machine quilt. And rather than wrangle with it by turning it around and around under the machine, I quilted it in straight lines across the middles of the flowers.


Because I didn't square off the corners by adding more hexies, the binding process was quite straightforward, with no tricky corners to negotiate.

I was going add more detail (and, in fact, I did add more) but blogger is playing up, and I managed to delete most of what I wrote, not once, not twice, but three times. So, ironically, considering my first paragraph, I am giving up now while the going is good.

Bye for now
Teresa x



Thursday, 9 March 2017

Softies!


I've been wanting to give soft toy making a try for quite a while. So, it seemed appropriate (in accordance with my upcycling ethos) to try memory, or keepsake, bears. It wouldn't be viable to use recycled fabrics in general toy-making, due to the CE testing process that I would have to put them through, and keepsake items don't have to comply with those regulations.

Having not sewn any toys before, I headed to the charity shops to find some baby clothes that I could practice with, and came back with 3 items. I also bought safety eyes and stuffing (there are some things you can't compromise on!).


Armed with a free, downloaded pattern from Funky Friends Factory I set to work, and this is the result.


I learnt a lot from the process about how, in general, toys are put together, how to insert the eyes and whether or not to use interfacing.  I will do all those things differently next time. And I have the baby clothes from the charity shop ready and waiting. I want to try a different pattern next time, so I need to choose that, and get some different interfacing, first.

In the meantime, I'm still working on other projects in the background. This is a toddlers version of the Baa-ble hat I showed last time, that I had a request for. It turned out so cute - I love it!

And.............I've had it on my bucket list for so long, to make a pair of socks, so I'm happy to say that I have almost completed 1 sock! I'll cast on the second one as soon as it's finished so it doesn't get left on the Work-in-progress pile for months until I forget how I did it.

I've also been working on finishing a long-term WIP so will hopefully have something to show next time!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

It's all about the yarn!

 A belated Happy Valentine's Day to you all! It all passed by quite uneventfully here. 😊.


I saw this hat pattern all over a Facebook knitting group last year and finally found time to have a go at it in December. It's call the Baa-ble and was designed as the official pattern for Shetland Wool Week. I haven't done colour-work like this for a long time, and I have never used a circular needle, so I was happy with the result.



 It now has a bobble and has been claimed by my son's girlfriend. I made this one with some odd bits of yarn I had lying around, but I've now acquired some lovely new yarn in subtler colours to make more.


And still on a 'heart' theme (and still all about the yarn), I bought a lovely crochet pattern from The Hat and I on Etsy for a head warmer. The first stage was to make the white inner band.


The next stage was to make all the hearts and link them together. I have to admit, when it got to this stage, I was dubious as to whether it would ever look like it was supposed to.

But the pattern was so detailed, with really clear photos for the trickier parts, that it came together like magic. So, like the baa-ble hat, this is another pattern that I will be using again.

On the sewing front, I've been trying something completely new to me. It's on hold at the moment due to the fact that my kitchen is having new worktops and is in a mess for a few days. I'll reveal all soon (if it turns out as planned), and I might show you the kitchen too!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Sunday, 22 January 2017

January Making for Me!


I made a decision towards the end of last year to spend the first month of this year working on a few makes for myself. I've had a mental list for a while of a few simple things I needed to get done, so decided to use the quietest month of the year (craft-wise) to get them out of the way (and off my mind).

A new ironing board cover was the most straightforward job, so I tackled that first. There was a big hole in my old one and it was looking decidedly worse for wear. An ironing board cover is not an essential item for everyone, but as I keep my ironing board propped up against a wall it can tend to leave marks on the paintwork. It also looks a bit nicer when I don't have a big enough cupboard to store it out of sight.


Next came a clothes-peg bag. You may have noticed that I didn't write 'new' clothes-peg bag! Previously, (I'm ashamed to say) I kept my pegs in an old, broken plastic bag: so there was nothing to replace.

I got the old, wooden coat hanger from my auntie, and my OH cut a couple of inches off each end, as it was a bit too wide. I made the opening like I do some of my bag pockets, where the lining is sewn on top, the hole cut and the lining folded through the hole. We haven't had the weather to hang out the washing recently, but when we do, it'll be ready for action.



My next project came about because my old purse broke a couple of months ago. I got a new one for Christmas but it didn't hold as many cards as my old one. My solution was to make a wallet for the cards I don't use so often.

Sorry, I couldn't find the link for the tutorial again.

I love how it turned out, and it's had lots of nice comments but if I made one again, I would bunch up the pockets a bit and try it with less of them too, to make it more compact.

I have one more thing left to make for myself then I'll be concentrating on my shop items.  My everyday bag has seen better days so I'm going to make a replacement.

As well as these personal projects, I've been doing some hand sewing of bigger, long-term projects which have been progressing well. I'll be glad to get them finished, though, and off my mind (like the things in this post).

Bye for now
Teresa x


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Book Review: MAKE IT, OWN IT, LOVE IT by Matt Chapple


 I've been a big fan of the Great British Sewing Bee since it started in 2013. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a bit like the 'bake off' but with sewing instead of baking. The contestants compete against each other over a series of sewing challenges, with one contestant being eliminated each week. In 2015, Matt Chapple was the first male winner of the series and, following his success, he has brought out his first book, 'MAKE IT, OWN IT, LOVE IT - The essential guide to sewing, altering and customising'. I was delighted, recently, to be offered the chance to receive a complimentary copy to review.

As you know, I do a lot of sewing; but I shy away from what I call proper dress-making due, mostly, to fear of failure. When I saw this book I was hopeful that it would give me the confidence to have another go. I thought that Matt's relaxed attitude towards sewing would give me the boost I needed to try again.

 

On first impression, the book had a good 'feel' to it; from the quality paper, to the illustrations, to the slightly lovely, grainy, vintage-quality photographs. Divided into short sections (most being only a double page spread), the information is easy to digest; although, I felt that some explanations were compromised by trying to fit the information to the restricted space. It's an ideal book to help a beginner get some useful knowledge and experience but a complete beginner would need to supplement the section on Knowing Your Machine with online videos and other sources of information to get a complete picture.


Such a lot of information is covered in the book, and from a totally different perspective than most sewing books, so that more experienced sewers will also find it useful. Even though I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in sewing matters, I found out about seam guides, what needles size/numbers mean, and that you can now download dressmaking patterns. And, that it's also about time I bought or made myself a tailor's ham instead of risking serious injury using a rolled up towel!

As I try to follow my eco-friendly ethos with my crafting, it was the 'Make it Your Own' section that appealed to me most. It's all about how you can alter or embellish clothes you already have to bring them up to date or make them fit better. I've already earmarked a couple of projects to update some items I don't wear but was reluctant to discard.

I was encouraged to see the chapter Making it Live Longer, which included lots of tips for caring for our clothes. We may think that knowing how to look after the clothes we have is obvious, but I've learnt from experience never to assume anything. I'm sure there must be a whole generation that grew up during this recent, consumerist age that knows very little about caring for their clothing. The last time this sort of thing was encouraged to any degree was during WWII, so it must surely be about time to remind people what it's all about.

To sum up, MAKE IT, OWN IT, LOVE IT is a substantial book, packed full of useful information to help us all have a healthy, practical and happy relationship with our clothes; to look at what we have in a different way, and be in control of it.

So, sorry to disappoint, but I won't be having a giveaway for this one. I can see myself dipping into it time and again for reference.

Bye for now
Teresa x

P.S. The photos included in this post are all from the book

Monday, 31 October 2016

Is this the biggest cobweb in the world?




A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, we arrived at church to sing in the choir at a wedding, when the churchwarden took us to the side chapel to see 'something'. We could not have guessed what it was in a million years.


During the Friday night, a gigantic cobweb had descended from the ceiling and was draped over almost the whole chapel. It flowed over the organ, down to the table and across the chairs.


 There is major roof work ongoing at the church, and we think the combination of extra dust and disturbance caused the cobweb to be dislodged (we didn't even realise it was up there, because it was against a dark ceiling). That it came down in one complete piece is amazing.


 It was difficult to show the actual scale of it in one photo - the lights shining on the polythene that is protecting the organ during the work hides part of it.


This photo was taken from underneath the table.


Very little of it actually touched the floor. The wedding guests were fascinated by it, and some people thought it was a fake one that had been deliberately put there.


It was left there for the rest of the day for people to come and see, but then had to be taken down to prepare the area for the Harvest Lunch, which was the next day. We knew it hadn't been there the day before because the flower arrangers had been there.

the harvest loaf, baked at the local supermarket
Once the roof work is finished the church is going to get a thorough clean. At least we know of one job that won't need doing now!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 14 October 2016

Christmas is coming!


 Hi there! I've been keeping busy here at ATFS. Through the summer, I had stalls at a few events - some more successful than others! I'm thinking about whether it may be more profitable to pay more for a table at a bigger event. It's quite daunting to think about paying up to £100 or more for a single event; but paying £10 an event for 10 events is more like what I have been doing. It's possible there may be more people at that one, big event than all the 10 put together. It's worth mulling over a bit more!

I made the bag above as a sample to show the sort of thing I could take orders for. My current list of requests has one on order, in pink spotty fabric with the name Eloise. I'm looking forward to doing the embroidery as a change from machine sewing.


I've been knitting and crocheting facecloths to put with my daughter's handmade soaps as gift ideas. The set above was donated to a local raffle but a few sets have been sold on the soap stall, Scent Essential, too. She has some lovely new festive scents that would make perfect gifts. The facecloths are handy little projects to carry with me when out and about, and they're quick to do.

I recently acquired a piece of brown, felt fabric that, at first, I was at a loss for what to do with. Then, as Christmas began to be mentioned more often, it came to me. It was almost the perfect colour for gingerbread Christmas ornaments. I started by sketching out this gingerbread man, to see if it would work. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it came out and went on to make a few more. Then I added to the range with gingerbread houses and star biscuits. More photos of those can be found over at my facebook page  Raglan Thread Shed .



I love this pretty, little shopper I was asked to make. It was requested by someone to give as a gift to a friend who can't carry much at a time, so it's smaller than the bags I usually make. I just love how the fabrics look together.



Sunday, 14 August 2016

Bags of Style!


At the end of my last post I showed the early stage of a slow, mindful project I was working on. Well, it took a while but here is the finished result. It's a lovely hand-stitched patchwork bag. It's made from a pattern in this book. Actually, it's made from two patterns - the patchwork design is from a different bag in the book. I've used it a couple of times and had lots of lovely comments.


Next, I wanted to try something much simpler, but just as useful. This slouchy boho bag is made from a single piece of heavy furnishing fabric. The strap is long enough to go across body so I want to make one like this for myself to replace my current everyday bag, which is wearing out.


Finally, I had this gorgeous Australian design, linen tea-towel in my stash (I can't remember exactly but I think I must have bought it from a charity shop as it still had the original sale label on and I've never been to Australia!) and decided it needed showing off on a bag. It seems I wasn't the only one to appreciate it, as it sold on it's first outing! Oh, and I added the brown canvas-type fabric and hand embroidery in complimentary colours.


In between sewing projects I'm still hooked on corner-to-corner crochet. After trying it plain, and then stripy, I'm now working on motifs. One more square to add, then a border and this will be done.
Sounds straightforward but, once again, I'm limited with the yarn left and will have to do some working out.


The craft group I mentioned last time, that I had just started with a friend, has met again, and all who came seem to be committed, which is nice. We've had a break for August, and will get going again at the end of September. The members are all working on various projects (cross stitch, knitting, patchwork) that they don't seem to find time to do at home. At the last meeting I was working on knitting face cloths. I made 4 in total (not all at the group, obviously), gave one away with a gift and the rest have sold in sets with my daughter's handmade soaps, so I'm working on some more of those too!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Time for a Catch Up!

 Time for a catch up, I think! It's been far too long. Grab yourself a coffee and take a seat.

Well, what have you been up to since we last met?

I joined the Twitter ranks recently, but haven't really been able to get my head around it. However, it was advantageous to me in a roundabout way. It's a long story, which resulted in me loading a photo of one of my bags onto Homemaker magazine's Twitter feed. I only did it to practice using Twitter but it wasn't long before an editor got in touch and asked me to submit a 'Star Letter' featuring one of my bags. I was originally offered a whole page feature but either I was too slow to reply or they asked too many in order to get a result, but I made sure my Facebook Thread Shed page was mentioned.

They've since asked me to give a 'reader's tip' for one of their featured project patterns but I haven't seen whether it's been used or not yet.


Probably as a result of the published letter, my Folksy shop started getting more viewings for a while, resulting in me selling the 3 items above in quite a short time.


 I showed the beginnings of this corner-to-corner crochet blanket in my last post. It took 3 goes at the border before I was happy with it. I wanted to use as much of the yarn as I could without running out, so it took a bit of juggling with the colours and numbers of stripes, and some weighing of yarn and guess work! I'm not finished with C2C yet - I've started a project with a motif in a different colour.

While I should really be running up quick projects to add to my stock, I've been drawn to work on slow, thoughtful, hand-sewn items. The little pouch above is the perfect size to hold a couple of lipsticks, and it's all hand sewn apart from the short, boxed corner seams.


This is a more longer term hand-sewing project. It's progressed quite a bit from this, but this shows the detail. I loved doing this, almost-sashiko-like, quilting. This part is the flap for a bag, for which I am trying to follow a pattern in a Japanese book, relying mainly on the diagrams and a few random numbers!!

In other news, my daughter launched a soap-making venture at a lovely open afternoon in her garden a few weeks ago. We had a few stalls there and served refreshments on the lawn. We've now booked a few events to do together later in the year.

Also, a friend and I started a new, monthly, craft group last week in our village hall. There were 5 of us at the first meeting, with another 4 or 5 (who were on hols or busy) promising to come next time.

Right, it was good to catch up. Mustn't leave it so long next time!

Bye for now
Teresa x