Calla Convertible Backpack

I’m off out to Kirsty Allsopp’s Handmade Fair soon and needed a new bag…well, a girl can’t have too many bags eh?

I have a new pair of lightweight trainers so that hopefully my legs won’t be aching before I’ve even got to the place! The venue is Hampton Court Palace and it quite a fiddle to get to. I get the train at Peterborough, travel to King’s Cross, then a tube and then another train. These train prices are so expensive, especially if you don’t want to be restricted by a set train. Took me ages to decide on which ticket to by but after hearing that my friend, Andrea, who is travelling to London from Southampton, was using a rail card, I thought I better look into it. So eventually, I bought myself a railcard, not any old railcard but a flippin’ Senior Railcard! I’m not taking to this being 60 very easily! Using that railcard, I managed to save a third off the price of my ticket price, which means that the railcard has paid for itself already🙂

Back to the bag…I decided a backpack bag might be useful,so that the weight of everything is more balanced out and will save my knees…grrr at the 6o thing again!

I’d looked at the pattern for the Calla Convertible a few times and I loved the shape of it. I watched the little video about how it gets converted from a bag to a backpack and so I bought the pattern

Choosing fabrics was a bit more tricky, but I had in my stash some cute fabric covered in old fashioned women’s corsetry. I found some contrasting fabrics, the cream fabrics on the outside are from the Walkabout Range by Beth Studley

I cut out all the pieces at home and then started constructing the bag at the sewing group that another friend and I host together. It’s called the Sew & Sews and is a Wisbech U3A group. We had almost a full house yesterday which was lovely and the room was buzzing with chatter🙂

I love that pleat behind the zip which stops the whole bag from falling wide open and the contents from spilling out

I think I’ll be buying more hardware to make another one or two of these bags for my shop

Now I just need to get a small knitting project sorted so that I can knit on the train journeys

Hope you’re all enjoying the late sunshine…I’m loving it! Long may it last🙂

PS Hello Dorothy!

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Multi Tasking

I rather think it is about time I wrote another blog post…!

I have been spurred into action by the positively happy workshop that I ran today in Button Up & Stitch in Wisbech

I was meant to be running The Beth Studley Pod workshop today and next Wednesday, I was meant to be running The Outta Time Tote workshop. However, neither of the workshops were very well subscribed so I was asked whether I would be able to run both workshops at the same time! I know….I was worried that it might blow my mind!! I was assured that all the sewers had a suitable standard of sewing. I needed this reassurance as I had my doubts as to whether I was capable of such a task!

I needn’t have worried, all three sewers were brilliant, we all worked at a good pace, 2 students for the Pod workshop and 1 for the Outta Time Tote

Here are my lovely students with their Pods

They were so happy with the results, look at their faces, the smiles say it all!

This next photo is of my student with her Outta Time Tote

Doesn’t it look great?!?

I love how I feel after teaching others to sew. I do get in a bit of a state before the event for some silly reason but once I’m chatting and explaining the steps, there’s no stopping me🙂

I have been asked if I will put together a workshop for Beth Studley’s newest bag, The Gondola Bag. I am looking forward to teaching that one as I totally enjoyed working on a test sew of the pattern

Before I do that though, I am going to put together a workshop for beginner sewers, a workshop that will introduce them to their sewing machines, discussing machine feet, different stitches, basic sewing, understanding seam allowances, maintenance etc…a simple project will also be worked on. A sort of learn as you sew experience. After attending this workshop, the student will feel more confident in progressing to something more taxing, such as the workshops mentioned above

All in all, I had a lovely day today, so thank you to Julie and Kim for giving me the opportunity to spread a bit more of the bag sewing love❤

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A new dress

This week was meant to be a week of tidying up ready for my three eldest grandchildren coming to stay for just over week. They arrive tomorrow and I have procrastinated about all things tidying up! I blamed it on the heat but I wanted to sew this dress

I managed to get a copy in the UK at one of my favourite fabric shops, Backstitch at Burwash Manor

It’s quite an expensive pattern as patterns go, but I’d been hankering after making it for a few weeks, I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I bought it

On Wednesday, Lesley and I took a trip out to Trumpington Village Hall and found some treasure within. Stitch Fabrics have a pop up shop there once a month…

This is some lovely fabric, not sure of the content but it does have some stretch to it

I’m going to make another one of these dresses that I’m wearing in the photo

I have made that pattern 3 times already, so I know I love it!

I love that photo of Barry and me taken in 2010!!

This lovely fabric was in the remnant pile, it has a few flaws in the printing and a defect across the width which of course I didn’t notice until I’d cut the dress out

I traced off my size

Only 3 pattern pieces…I dislike patterns that don’t have the seam allowances added to the pattern pieces, but this was quite easy and I winged the 3/8″ and just cut around the shapes…I thought that the stretchy fabric could absorb any errors I made int he cutting out

I did get very hot cutting it out on wednesday evening

but on Thursday it was a joy to sew this with the fan wafting at me…it went together like a dream…I’ll make at least one more of these dresses

I love it very much even though the fabric isn’t perfect! Was a lovely trial piece

Scuse my gurning expression…and my no makeup hot head hair do!

Right…I better stop playing on here and go and make a bed or two….I could do with a housemaid!!

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A Sale of my Beautiful Handmade Clothes for Babies and Children

Last year, I spent many hours sewing some delightfully exquisite clothes for children and babies. I made them mostly to sell at a summer fair along with my bags

I totally enjoyed making these unique little outfits but they took me longer to make than some of the adults clothing that I sell

I really don’t mind the work, in fact I like nothing better than getting my teeth into an intricate design. The gorgeous results please me no end

I think that the little romper above it my most favourite design of all that I have made, and yet, it is probably the most time consuming

So, I thought these unique and beautifully constructed garments would fly off the rail….they may be small but the hours of work involved in making them, is as much as the hours I spend on sewing complicated dresses for myself , sometimes even more!🙂

Sadly, I was wrong….

Is it because I have sewn the garments in sizes that don’t fit the children of whoever views them?

Are my prices too high? At these prices I am hardly giving myself any profit at all😦

Who knows why they don’t sell…it is probably a combination of a lot of things…

I have decided to only sew clothes for children when I am asked. Sewing for my Grandchildren will keep my ‘need to sew cute little things’ urge at bay

In the meantime, I have taken 30% off all the prices of the clothing left in stock, do go and check them out

These clothes have been made with the utmost care using top quality fabrics, if your little darling needs an exclusive outfit to wear to a special occasion then maybe there will be something in my shop that will fit the occasion…

Thank you for reaching this far in my post

Let me know if you can think of a reason why these delightful little garments are still in my possession, I truly wish they were in yours!😉

You can view the clothes here

Have a lovely weekend xx

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A Honeycomb Basket

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the clever fabric and project designer Beth Studley, if I would be interested in testing her new design, The Honeycomb Basket…don’t think I hesitated in saying yes!

I’d seen the photo of the one that Beth had made, on her Facebook page…it was love at first sight

Beth very generously sent me the fabric from her new range Radiance, and the stabiliser along with the pattern, I simply couldn’t wait to get started

Having made quite a few of Beth’s Storage Pods, I knew that I would enjoy putting this basket together

Now, this basket…there’s a lot of work in her, not a project that you can whizz through in a couple of hours, but something to take your time over. When I set to making this, I was in fast forward mode as is so often the case with my craftiness. But as I progressed through the steps I found myself really enjoying the rhythmic repetition of the quilting, the sewing, the hand stitching of the binding. It was almost meditative, I really loved doing the quilting, easy wiggly lines, I do love a good wiggle!…I simply had to slow down and do each of the steps with a smile….

There were some interesting moments, lots of squidging and pushing and a bit of tension in my shoulders

You can do the above step by hand but me being me decided I might do it on the machine….might have broken a needle or two and uttered the odd swear word:/

However, all of a sudden I had completed the project, what an achievement!

I truly love this basket and it was well worth the three days that I spent on her, I woke up with a happy heart when I realised that I was going to spend some more time sewing this beauty. I’m hoping that I will get quicker when I make more of them.

I have 2 orders from 2 very patient and lovely customers. I will get on and sew them soon but I have been in Grandma mode and felt the need to sew some little clothes. Mostly stretch knits which are quick and fun to sew. I’ll probably do a blog post on that subject next

The last photo is of the honeycomb basket in situ, it lives beside me and contains everything I need to keep me entertained in the evenings which are usually spent knitting

I do hope that I have encouraged you to go and buy the pattern and have a go yourself, I found the instructions to be clear and concise…let me know if you make one, I’d love to see!

Happy weekend everyone…crafting keeps me sane in these crazy times, how about you?

PS I am teaching a workshop to sew one of Beth’s cute Storage baskets, in Ely at Sew Much To Do on Thursday 30th June.  Great fun was had when I did my first ever proper workshop in Button Up and Stitch in Wisbech, I’m sure the day in Ely will be equally fun🙂 If you’re interested in going then click the link above for more details xx

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Dyeing up A Gradient

Yesterday, I decided it was time to dye up the yarn I had bought for the Carol Feller KAL which is starting on the 18th June

I knew that I wanted pink…

With that in mind, I soaked my 5 x 100g skeins of sport weight yarn, I also added a small squirt of washing up liquid to the tepid water. The yarn was contained in a lingerie laundry bag. My yarn is merino/cashmere/nylon, if there had been silk in the blend then I would have soaked it overnight to get a good saturation…when I was ready I gave the yarns a very short spin in my spin dryer. You really want it to be wet but not dripping wet

Then I brought a really big pan of water to the boil and turned it down to a low simmer setting on my hob. I thought I’d dye up the boldest colour first and put a slightly rounded teaspoon of Landscape dye into the water and swirled it around. Slowly added the yarn making making sure it was all under the water and no air pockets, give it a very gentle move about. Set my timer for 20 mins, came back and lifted it out of the water with a pair of tongs and carefully placed the very hot yarn in a bowl. I left it to cool before I touched it again

I noticed that the water still had a pink tinge to it and I felt it might make a good shade of pale pink, so my next skein was placed in the water and again left for 20 minutes, the water was still slightly pink so I put about a tablespoon of vinegar into the water, stirred it very gently, and very quickly all the colour left the water and I had my perfect pale pink

For the colours in between, I repeated the process but used less dye, I opted for paler than I wanted with the thought that I could add more colour if I needed to

When all the yarns were cool, I rinsed them carefully, inside the lingerie bag, gave them a short spin and put them on the line to dry…it really was the best fun and something that I’ll be repeating again one of these days!

I am totally in love with these colours and can’t wait to start the cardigan…I might just knit a tension swatch!

I’d love to see what you do with this info….come back and tell me won’t you?

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Did you win?

I had 18 comments on my last blog post to win the gorgeous fabric bowl from the charming little book of Mini Patchwork Projects by the talented designer Beth Studley

I put all the names into a random name picker

pushed the button and this happened

So the winner is Josiekitten!!

Well done you…I’ll be contacting you for your address

Thanks to everyone that posted a comment….

My next post is about another wonderful new design that I have road tested for Beth…I think you’re going to love it!

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Mini Patchwork Projects and a Giveaway

Beth Studley is a genius in designing wonderful things for me erm us to make..I have made loads of her Storage Pods and a few of her Project Baskets. I am an incessant shower offerer (that sounds wrong) and after showing Beth a few of my makes, the clever designer asked me if I’d test out one of her new patterns. I, of course jumped at the chance! More about that in my next blog post….

In the meantime, Nadine from Stitch Craft and Create emailed me and asked if I would like to take part in a blog hop to promote Beth’s new book, Mini Patchwork Projects. I could feel a smile creeping across my face as I read that email. There was no hesitation in replying with a very definite yes!!

So, Nadine sent me a gorgeous pile of Beth’s new fabric range, Radiance, to play with and make something from the book, you can purchase the fabrics for yourself using this link It was a surprise when the package arrived, I thought I had been bad again and had forgotten what I’d ordered, then it dawned on me haha

 

The colours and design of these fabrics took my breath away, I simply loved every one of them…

I then had to choose something from the book to make using these fabrics, now that was hard!

I decided I might try something that was new to me, Foundation Paper Piecing. It looked fun, and I loved how the process gives you sharp points

The Curvy Coaster Set

I tried it out on some of my own scraps first, there was no way that I was going to cut into the fabrics that I had been sent to try out without doing a trial run first, and also to see if I enjoyed the technique

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It worked brilliantly well, I was hooked! Beth’s instructions were clear to follow.

I didn’t like how all the threads met in the corner though, I needed to refine my work!

I have that Curvy Coaster on the side table next to me where I like to sit and do my handknitting. I love it, and keep smiling and picking it up and admiring it🙂

Next I had to decide on which of the Radiance fabrics I would use…I chose the ones that I felt might look good together, that was easy though, they all look good with each other🙂

I didn’t stress too much over it and just went with my gut instinct

 

Don’t they look fab all together? So much fun to make, if you’ve not tried foundation paper piecing then you’re in for a treat

Then of course, I wanted to make something else and I knew exactly what that was going to be…the very pretty Reversible Trinket Bowl

I was in a hurry to make this one, don’t know why, maybe it was the shaping of it, I know that I love the clever shaping of those Storage Pods so making this pretty dish was going to be a doddle!

Well yes it was a doddle and yes, I made two but can you spot the difference? In my haste I’d misread the instructions which caused me to sew my darts 1/8th of an inch too deep. Do you know what? I love that error, it has made a deeper taller dish, I’ll make more like that and no doubt more of the proper version!…

Sewing the curved top edge needed a bit more concentration but the clever clever way that Beth tells us how to get a really crisp clean edge was a revelation to me🙂 Maybe I am late to the party and you might know how to do it already but it will be something that I use again and again in my bag making. If you want to learn this magic trick then you might like to buy the book😉 If not the whole book then the individual patterns are all available here and also on Amazon

the difference is more noticeable here

and here lol

DSC_2004 copy

The one above is the perfect one…

Maybe you’d like to own the gorgeous trinket bowl in the above photo? Just leave me a comment telling me which project in the book you like the best and why, and I’ll put all the names into a hat and draw a winner in a week’s time. So Friday 3rd June..who said June? Where is this year going???

You might like to go and read the other blog posts from this blog hop, there’s still more to come so keep checking them out🙂

Mini Patchwork projects

23rd May – Stitch Craft Create

24th May – Popular Patchwork

25th May – Yellow Cat Quilt Designs

26th May – Strawberry Patch Ramblings

27th May – Picperfic’s Fluff-n-Stuff

30th May – Sew Justine Sew

31st May – Very Kerry Berry

1st June – Very Berry Handmade

2nd June – Guest blog on Stitch Craft Create with Beth Studley

Happy stitching

Marianne

x

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A Beanbag Stand for my Mobile Phone

I have been concentrating really hard on testing a gorgeous new sewing pattern, this design took me three days. In my book that is a long time on a project, mostly at the sewing machine too! The finished item was so worth it though. I’ll show you once the designer has given me the go ahead….I totally love it!!🙂

During those three days of busy-ness, my phone kept slipping around, I propped it up on the flip up bit of the top of my sewing machine but as I started stitching it travelled sideways to a spot
where it fell forwards. So then I propped it up in my Bionic Gear Bag which worked fine until I needed something out of the BGB. Then it slid somewhere and camouflaged itself when I wasn’t looking! I keep my phone on silent for the most part so it did have me going up and downstairs looking for it at times…I sew upstairs😉

So, I put out a call on facebook for one of those sewn phone stands, I had a quick search but didn’t come up with anything that looked quite right for my needs until my lovely young friend Emily found this for me. It looked perfect and I needed a diversion from all the concentration I had been using so I grabbed a half empty bag of out of date rice and set to work!

The fabric I have used is from Beth Studley’s new range called Radiance..it’s such a lovely quality fabric and the colours in the range are gorgeous

It works perfectly, my phone stays where I put it now…I must admit that yesterday evening when I was watching Wallander and knitting, on occasions, I kept leaving my phone on the sofa rather than putting it in the beanbag. Old habits dye hard!

Talking of Wallander, I really enjoyed watching it, the first time I have actually understood what was going on, maybe it’s because I don’t overly enjoy Kenneth Branner so he wasn’t a distraction haha…I couldn’t tell you much about the storyline of Peaky Blinders for example as I am usually, looking at the costumes and the lead character, enjoying the title music, I love that music,

OST `Peaky Blinders` – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

Don’t forget to look out for my blog post on Wednesday Friday, it’s all about Beth Studleys new book, I’ve never taken part in a blog hop before, so excited to have been asked to do this!

Be back soon! …. X

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Mix and Match Cardigan

I have my designers head on, machine knitting designers head no less!

I have no idea where the inspiration for this cardigan came from…I knew I wanted to knit some texture into a design but would it work?

I decided to use a tuck stitch card that was part of the set that came with my knitting machine, I tried a few different yarns and various tension to create a very long strip of knitting . I then washed and dried the sample before measuring the stitch and row counts with my green ruler. I also chose the fabrics that I liked the feel of. I was surprised at just how few stitches you need for tuck but also, just how many more rows are needed to get the length. It is a useful thing to learn. I then thought I wanted to use some smooth stocking stitch within the design so I made another long piece of knitting in different fabrics to check out the tensions of the fabrics that pleased me the most

Of course, the knitted pieces that pleased me the most were the delicious merino and angora, Lamora, from Uppinghams. Not a cheap yarn by any means but oh so very luxurious. As I am also a hand knitter, I have come to appreciate and love the feel of natural yarns and how they change once blocked. They don’t mind being pressed on the whole…so I have moved away from the cheapy cones of acrylic that used to please me in the 80s and 90s. Even though this yarn seems expensive compared to many other yarns out there, the garments produced from it will please you so much more than one knitted in a cheaper yarn. The drape, the look, the touch…it is all worth it! Neither of these garments used a full cone of yarn either, it seems to go a long way🙂

I just adore the feel of this yarn, especially after the oil has been washed out of it. I use eucalyptus fragrance Eucalan to wash my knitwear, it doesn’t need rinsing so the wet garment is handled less and I love the gentle smell of the eucalyptus essential oil in the wash. I use an old fashioned spin dryer to get out the excess water and then…do this at your own risk…I give it a 10 minute tumble dry on low. The garment is still damp but the fluff starts to pop out and the shape sort of springs into place. I then smooth out the garment and lay it flat on a towel to finish drying. Once dry, I then press the seams gently, more of a puff and pat technique, no hard plonking down of the iron on the knitting at all!

I knitted the fronts and back sideways, I have no idea why, I just did! However, this has given me a lovely and quicker way to seam the sides…..one of those lightbulb moments!!

I love how the shoulders of the raglan curve, and the fully fashioned shaping, I love that too…I use my multi pronged transfer tool to do that. So glad I kept all this stuff from the first time round of my machine knitting exploits

On this version I chose to do a simple rolled hem around the bottom of the garment. It needed something, and having been wearing the cardi, I really like how the hem behaves

I am going to do away with the ribbed bands to make this a garment that can be done on a single bed, standard gauge, punchcard knitting machine. No ribber required, although the knitter can of course choose whether they’d like a rib here and there…

The rolled edge neckband works well in bringing all the stitches together to sit so beautifully on the body

A day or so later, I thought about how easy it might be to change the style of the fronts to a more classic shape

So, using the same yarn base but in a different colour, I set about this version

I must get some buttons!

The first thing that struck me was that this cardigan had come out smaller, even though I used the same main tensions! Let this be a warning to you all out there, different colourways do knit up to different tensions even though they are the same yarn base! The dyeing process must change the yarn structure somehow…far too technical for my brain to cope with, I’ll just take it as is haha

So gorgeously soft and fluffy, like butter is the only way to describe the handle of this yarn, I also thought that a simple facing would look good on the hem of this garment, I am now thinking that I’d like to see the hem in a different colour, like a secret pop of colour that is hidden for the most part…I guess that means I have to knit another garment!! Oh dear, what a chore….

I used the rolled hem on the neckband though

The front bands came out a bit floppy for my liking so that is something I will adjust when I make the next one but I really love the hems! This is going to be such a useful addition to your wardrobe and it will be perfect for so many outfits, I am thinking a pretty summer dress or maybe some relaxed linen trousers….or jeans…

All the different features of the design will be included in the one pattern, hence the mix and match element, you choose!

This pattern is still at the writing up stage, the design will cover a range of sizes varying from 30″ up to 50″ so that’s lots of tech editing. I will announce on facebook, twitter and my blog when the pattern is ready. Next step will be to get the design off to some testers

In the meantime, I have been asked to take part in a blog hop to promote Beth Studley’s lovely new patchwork book, so watch out for my post on Wednesday..I have been sewing and taking lots of photos..it’s a fab little book

Have a lovely weekend…

Marianne
x

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