Saturday, 18 August 2018

More Memory Bears!

When looking back for photos of memory bears that I have made this year so far, I was surprised to find there were only two orders, because it felt like many more. I suppose the fact that there are 8 bears in total between the 2 orders would be the reason it felt like that!

 Both of the orders were made from the shirts of a much-loved male family member but were different in every other way. The 3 bears above are almost identical, but with the shirt fabrics mixed up on each bear. If you look closely, you will see that the only difference is in the ears, which is purely so the owner of each bear can recognise their own, and was my suggestion.

Then came the mega order! Luckily, the customer wanted each bear in the same fabric, which took away some of the decision making for me. Part way though making these, I received a further request that each bear has a bow tie. At that point, there was a hiatus in the making as I awaited a further order of stuffing (these bears took A LOT of stuffing) so, during the wait, I made the ties and the drawstring protecting bags I put them in. I have one more bear order waiting that is not needed until December. It is for 2 bears made from curtains)

On the subject of memory items, I also offer the option to make cushions. Apart from my sample cushion, this is the only one I've made so far. It's from festival t-shirts promoting our local music festival. I have another order for one of these waiting in the wings.

Making this cushion gave me an idea. I have quite a few t-shirts from my running days, with logos from the various races I took part it. I dug them out the other day, and one day I will get around to making a quilt out of them, because I'm not going to wear them again, for running or otherwise!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Memory Bears have taken off!

Welcome to my first post of 2018. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I'm afraid it didn't feel very festive, to me, this year. Don't know if that was just me, or the dreary weather but, in any case, let's hope this year is better on all fronts than the last one!

 You may remember a couple of posts ago, I told you about a new offshoot to my crafting business. I had decided to look into making memory bears, cushions and quilts. I had bought a pattern, made a couple of trial bears, and made a first, heavily discounted bear for a friend/customer in memory of her daughter. The bear above is the first customer order after that, and was made in memory of a mother.

 I began taking my bears along to craft fairs and events, along with my usual stock, and they drew a lot of attention. When I saw a rabbit pattern (also from Funky Friends Factory), I loved it and thought it might be an idea to give customers a choice of memory softies; so I bought it and made this one from charity shop, fleecy nightwear. If only the regulations didn't stop me selling these directly; I could have sold this one 5 times over already!

 Things started taking off when I began posting pictures of my bears on my Facebook page, Raglan Thread Shed. The bear above was a second order from the first, trial customer. It is also in memory of her daughter, but was a gift for her sister.

Each order I get is different, despite being exactly the same pattern. This, above, is my first set of twins! They are for 2 sisters, in memory of their mother. One sister ordered them as a surprise.

And so we come to my latest order, finished just before Christmas. These 2 are made from a grandfather's shirts, picked out by his grand-daughters. They were to be opened on Christmas day.

Making bears out of men's shirts certainly removes the difficulty of deciding where each different fabric should be placed, but I enjoy the variety that each new set of clothing presents. It can also be quite emotional for the customer when I reveal the finished bears, so it's not like any other crafting that I do. Luckily, I have not, yet, been asked to make one from the clothing of someone I knew. It already takes me a little time to get into the right state of mind to cut into customers' precious belongings. I'm sure it would be much more difficult if I knew the person.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 4 December 2017

Vintage Yarns!

I read something online recently about a popular frugal living blog (that I had not heard of) having suddenly disappeared. In that case, the reason for the disappearance was not clear at the time. However, a mention was made in the discussion about blogs being abandoned because they had been hacked. At that point, my mind was drawn to my poor, little neglected blog and I wondered how it had been fairing during my absence (for which there is no particular reason).

Well, as you can see, it is still here and seems none the worse for its lack of attention. I opened the blogger site, hoping that it was still logged on, because I'm not sure I would have remembered the password (or where I made a safe note of it) and, luckily, it was. 

Not only was it still logged on, but there was a draft post containing the photos you see here. I guess this is a snapshot of what I was  up to 5 months ago! So, where better to re-start than to tell you about them.

Fitting in nicely with the abandoned theme, I bought/won on ebay a 70s, crocheted, granny-square waistcoat that was half finished. I undid a shoulder seam to make it flat, and thought that all I would then need to do to make a blanket was to make more squares with the remaining wool and fill in the gaps. But the thing was so uneven and badly put together that I ended up separating all the squares and even re-crocheting some of the black rounds.

It turned out a nice size for a cot blanket or sofa throw after I finished off the yarn on the border.
It's listed in my Folksy shop along with a few other crocheted blankets.

Staying with the vintage theme, these mittens are knitted in some yarn that I was given that was originally sold in ounces!! I think fingerless hand-warmers have had their day and mittens are making a comeback.

You may have seen versions of this hat all over the place. It's a very popular design from Shetland Wool Week 2016, called the Baa ble. If you go to the site and sign up for their newsletters, you can still get the 2017 free hat pattern.

Bye for now
Teresa x

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


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


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