Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Wee Wonderfuls

It's that time of year again (no, not the rainy gloomy time though we've had our fair share of that recently), it's book time. About this time of year, soooo many beautiful new books come onto the market, gearing up for Christmas (and a certain craftoholic's birthday in November) and how I do love a good book. Not really of the novel-ly kind, though I am sometimes seized by the desire to read a trashy novel, more of the crafty type. My groaning book shelves in the Den which I had to reorganise just last week following my trip to the Quilt Festival, now appear to have plenty of space for yet more books. So long as they stay attached to the wall that should be fine then!

Whilst aimlessly blog surfing, as you do, I came across a book that simply had to be popped into that far-too-easy Amazon cart.

Oooh, isn't it jolly and pretty, just the ticket as we seem to be heading into Autumn. Noticed how the nights are drawing in? I'm sure I have come across Hillary Lang and her wonderful world of wee creatures before but I certainly have a fair amount of back reading to do on her delightful blog now that I have found it. From the first page, this book is soooooo cute and it just entreats you to get out that needle and thread and get making.

I thought I'd show you some of my favourite pages from the book. Loving this elephant bag. Does a 35 year old need a pink elephant bag with patchwork ears? Surely...

I'm also pretty much in love with Melvin and Marian!

Some of the projects are suitable for beginners. I can see little boys loving pushing this round the floor. This is the sort of project I imagine one could tackle in front of the telly of an evening.

Each cute creation is accompanied by instructions on how to make it, along with clear diagrams.

At the rear of the book, there is also a useful section on "basics" with information on the types of materials you will need, including tools and stuffings, instructions for cutting out the pattern pieces and a helpful guide to hand sewing and embroidery stitches.

The pattern pieces can also be found here which need to be traced. I used tissue paper and I then keep them in an envelope tucked into the front flap of the book.

The project which really caught my eye, though, was this one.

Yes, a 35 year old definitely needs a Katie Kitty!

I made my kitty up in traditional colours of black and white. Whilst the main body pieces are machine stitched, all the body parts have to be sewn together by hand. I used a black wool felt (which I bought to make a skirt last Winter, oops!) and did find turning over all the raw edges a bit tricky. You definitely need patience for this sort of thing (not sure how I managed it then!) as working with the small pieces is quite fiddly. I would say this is definitely not a project for a beginner (or a person who is not soothed by a wee glass of vino along the way).

Jacky Ginge found the whole thing most interesting but really couldn't understand why it took me about half an hour to finally choose the dress fabric!

He decides he's the kitty in charge and positions himself in the way so as to enforce a period of prolonged Jacky Ginger stroking.

But after two days (yikes!), Katie Kitty starts to emerge and looks oh so pretty from the tips of her dinky little shoes with their vintage glass jewels...

..to her pretty little kitty face with its slanty green eyes (buttons found by the Munchkin after much old button box searching)...

...to her rather fetching frock fashioned from vintage fabrics and trimmings.

Oooh, I do so love Katie Kitty!

She's a mischevious kitty though and has decided she rather fancies getting her beauty sleep in the pretty pink vintage crib whilst it awaits collection by its new owner.

But who can deny that little kitty face?!

This would be a great book for making gifts for young ones (or errm, adults who are young at heart). There are some lovely patterns for dolls but there are also some teddies and patterns suitable for toys for boys. There are projects of varying complexity so you could start on the easier ones and build up your techniques before progressing to the more tricky ones. Hmm, now what to make next...

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Fabby Festival of Quilts

So Thursday dawned and just about recovered from V at G, it was time for my next adventure. Off I set by train to this much anticipated once yearly event at the NEC in Birmingham, the Festival of Quilts. Yipeeeeeeee! I did try not to burst with repressed excitement!

Now first off, my apologies but I did not take my luverrly big camera with me that takes marvellous photos (especially indoors) because it is just so heavy and I knew that there might be errm, a bit of shopping to carry home. So the photos come courtesy of my little camera which is not so great, especially indoors in poor light but hey, some photos are better than none.

To give you an idea, here's a shot looking at the entire room, actually taken from the back, looking out over the food court area with the quilts and stalls beyond. The Festival this year was spread over not 2 but 3 halls and was simply dauntingly huge. We just about managed to get round all the retail stalls but I saw very few of the quilts. Next year, we've decided to go for a couple of days. What a chore!

Here's the area near the entrance where many many quilts are displayed.

Oh joy of joys, where the Quilts exhibition at the V&A disappointed by not having a single quilt by our modern day quilt hero Kaffe Fassett, here at the Festival, there was an entire section devoted to his quilts. Hooray!

Here is my partner in crime by one of the fabby quilts from Kaffe's last book, Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts.

Another eye-catching and very colourful beauty by Kaffe...

And another...

Moving onto the shops then, the Festival is quite simply a fabric lover's dream. There are also several stalls devoted entirely to craft books and as Adele and I are both book lovers, we could easily have spent a whole day just looking at books. The prices are no cheaper than the cover prices but the selection is like none you will see elsewhere.

I didn't take a huge amount of photos of the stalls, not least because it was very busy so trying to get a shot which didn't involve a handful of eager beaver shoppers was very difficult. There was also all that shopping to juggle whilst trying to hold the camera. One stall I wanted to show you was this, belonging to Kim Porter. If you have been to Liberty, you may have seen her fabric packs there. Kim is the founder of "Worn and Washed", she collects used fabrics and recycles them into pretty co-ordinated jelly rolls ready to be made into scrummy quilts. They have that lovely vintage look and the fabrics are nice and soft because they have previously been, you guessed it, worn and washed.

I bought one of her jelly rolls of flannelette fabrics which I hope will make a scrumptious cosy soft quilt for Winter.

I confess to not being a great lover of Selvedge magazine. Whilst it sometimes has articles which interest me and I do own a few copies, most of it is too arty for me and I also struggle to pay nearly £10 for a magazine! However, their stall always brings together the best of what has appeared in the past year in the magazines and is both interesting and attractive.

This year, they had many mini quilts on display which are always impressive because of the tiny pieces. We thought these dinky patchwork quilts were particularly cute!

This stall was home to a super collection of vintage and antique quilts from America. There was also a tempting selection of vintage feedsacks but I was very restrained and came away empty handed. It was great to talk to Mary however, she has a collection of about 300 quilts and is very knowledgeable. She had a beautiful wedding ring quilt for sale from the 1940's; she knew the lady who had made it, who was 102 years old at the time of selling it! She had made over 100 quilts in her lifetime.

As well as selling fabrics and quilting notions, many stalls showcased quilt designs and kits that they had for sale, and the back walls were adorned with the pretty and inspiring quilts.

This lovely kaleidoscope quilt caught my eye, which was displayed on the end of the stall of Kaleidoscope Books.

Last but not least, probably my favourite stall is that of The Cotton Patch. They have a shop in Birmingham and I generally buy my batting and quilting notions from their online shop. Their stall gets bigger every year and always looks fantastic. They had sections devoted to the work of Kaffe Fassett (who was there signing books).

They also stock some of the modern quilting fabrics by the likes of Tanya Whelan and Heather Bailey. I particularly love their displays of made-up goods, the cushions, bags, chairs and quilts.

Not a great shot but a very pretty quilt.

Amy Butler was also on the stand promoting and signing copies of her new book. Adele and I were lucky enough to attend a talk by her at the Festival two years ago and she really is just the loveliest person. We chatted about cats as usual, Amy has 4, and I usually end up showing her photos of mine on my 'phone!

Finally, and most excitingly, we proceeded to a stall for Adele to pick up two quilts she had made herself. The stall belongs to a shop in Whitchurch where Adele had taken two quilts a while ago to be long-arm quilted. Here she is seeing her quilts again for the first time in a while as she picks them up at the Festival, now all freshly quilted!

She was justifiably really pleased with them.

Oh what a marvellous day, pretty much a quilter's idea of heaven! Quite a few goodies came home, it has to be said. I was thrilled to get a copy of Kaffe's new book, Quilts en Provence, and was given Quilt Road for free as we spent over £40 on books on the Cotton Patch stall. I also bought a few fat quarters of his fabric, had to be restrained there as the selection was huge, and also a few sets of strips of his fabric. At only £1.20 each they will be perfect for log cabins or string quilts.

Amy's book was simply too beautiful not to buy and here it is along with a couple of larger pieces of fabric I bought, one for dress making and the other, a patchwork style to make perhaps a pretty tablecloth.

Then there is the "worn and washed" fabric bundle along with some newly available fabrics I had been looking forward to getting my hands on. These came from the stall of The Quilt Room in Dorking who had a fantastic selection of fabrics. I bought a couple of charm packs of the new Moda collections, Dream On and Bliss, and also a jelly roll of the new Oliver + S fabrics.

I am now simply bursting with inspiration, there are so many things I have in mind to make and so many fabrics to make them with! There are simply not enough hours in the day. I had to spend most of Friday having yet another sort out in my Den to try to make room for this latest influx! However, there has been a little chilling out, too, with a spot of patchworking and quilting of my own.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

It's Vintage, Dahling

We went, oh yes of course we did, how could we miss a whole festival devoted to our beloved vintage? So sister safely packed off back up North after a lovely nattery week, off we went with our vintage bits 'n' bobs, off to Chichester, well precisely to Goodwood. Vintage at Goodwood, that is. Coming along for the photographic ride (it's long, I warn you)?

Here we are on Saturday morning, joining the throng of folks headed for this first festival devoted to 50 years of vintage cool. I rather like the signage, I must say.

Over the red carpet we all tripped, after a short walk through a little wooded clearing. There had been rain the day before and there were a few squelchy bits underfoot to miss. This bevvy of bathing belles was the first thing we saw; shame about the sad, sexist old bloke that was with them!

There were lots and lots of photographers here, snapping people as they walked through, in particular, the people who dressed up for the event which was heavily encouraged in the advertising. What to do next? It's a very large site with a mind boggling array of things to do...

Straight ahead was the much talked about "vintage high street" with its pop-up shops. We went straight to the beauty parlour which was offering (at a cost) makeovers and hair styling but all the appointments were already completely booked for the day. Ah well.

Oxfam's shop looked pretty jazzy from the outside. Mr HH reliably informs me that everything they were selling was donated (given charity shops seem to be full of new rubbish these days) and I have read that they took thousands of pounds within hours of opening. I didn't actually go inside, which now seems incredible, but there was simply too much to do in two days.

Anyone for tea? The idea behind V at G is that it is a pretty posh festival, people dressing up in their glamorous (vintage) best, wining and dining and who would have thought it, there were even flushing loos!

Ah, I didn't go in this shop either.

Only kiddding, 'course I did!

The pop-up shops were fab, it's amazing everything looked so professional and yet it was all just for a few temporary days. Cath K was very busy indeed and I thought the shop looked great. A few items had been created specifically for sale at the festival including woven badges and items made from discontinued fabrics (book bags, and tea towels which came in a quirky can!)

There was even a Cath K ice cream counter. It was all beautifully displayed, there was a gorgeous painted dresser behind groaning with china and goodies and all the paper ice cream tubs and cone wrappers were decorated with pretty Provence Rose print.

Further along the high street there was also a pop-up John Lewis haberdashery store. We came here very late in the day so it was relatively quiet. There were areas set up for crafting workshops, you can see here that Rowan had covered the tables in a patchwork of pretty fabrics and made those whacky lampshades.

There was also a very cosy corner devoted to yarn.

I wasn't particularly impressed with the things for sale but the team had done a stunning job of styling the place.

Want to learn some new skills? Best to head to the vintage school...

In here, the company Clothkits was running workshops.

This Kenwood pop-up shop shows you the scale of the high street with its super scale buildings. My mum still has a Kenwood mixer just like this!

Inside, there were cookery demonstrations from qualified chefs in this very cute retro kitchen.

We rested a while in the Festival of Britain pub complete with its retro jukebox and vintage fittings. Somehow, by Saturday lunchtime they had already run out of draught ale though?

The festival was in a beautiful setting, surrounded by rolling country fields, there was even a windmill at the top of the hill to gaze at whilst enjoying your ice cream from this rather marvellous van.

Funnily enough, you could enjoy the same view from the champagne enclosure!

There were a lot of vintage vehicles at the festival which pleased the Munchkin no end. Mr HH rather took a shine to this beauty. Move over 007!

...but I think this was more within the budget...

...whilst the Munchy one was going ga-ga over the vintage caravans. He managed to sweet talk the owners wherever he went and they usually ended up asking him to pose for photos!

Aside from wandering around the many lovely vehicles, there was a traditional funfair to enjoy.

Disappointingly but perhaps predictably, all the rides were at extra cost and were not cheap. The Muchkin went on the helter skelter which is his favourite, but £2 for one go was a far cry from 3 goes for a £1 on the Isle of Wight recently!

A seasidey area had been created complete with sand which many families were enjoying...

Music, oh yes, everywhere you went there was music. Not all of it was to our taste but we enjoyed the rock 'n' roll lounge, "Let it Rock"! This band was fantastic.

So much so that quite a few folks were strutting their stuff, even at midday.

Come evening time, this however, was much more the HenHouse scene.

Here the theme was the 1940s and '50s so we were pretty much in our element watching all the talented dancers whilst scoffing a pretty good dinner (once we'd queued for an absolute age to get in - not good).

The highlight for some appeared to be the nightly burlesque show but as it took place at about 8pm it was not particularly risque.

I was pretty disappointed to be honest and preferred the band!

This was the Johnny Miller Band and they were superb. There's nothing quite like hearing all those fabby old songs played by a proper full live band.

Next day, there was still so much to see and after a rather late night, it was a tad daunting! The main building wall you can see in the photo below was home to an ever-expanding collage of photos of nattily dressed festival goers who were being snapped as they walked in.

Ah, there we are!

Time for yet more retail therapy for behind each side of the vintage high street was the vintage marketplace...

Here there were second hand and new vintage-style goodies from all the various eras. The first section we encountered looked pretty much like a jumble sale but I guess if you were into newer vintage maybe it was just the ticket.

There were also areas for yet more crafting:

The BBC Homes and Antiques magazine stand looked great. It was beautifully decorated with atomic era fabrics and furniture and the two ladies in attendance looked similarly stylish.

In the end we did find many stalls which were to our taste...

...and even found old friends! Who did we bump into but the first lady of vintage fabrics, Donna.

Refreshment stands were dotted around the site, this one selling vintage cakes being more my cup of tea (ha dee ha)!

This one was also styled as a vintage tearoom. Not sure why everyone there looks so miserable?!

Children getting bored? Well ours didn't but there was a rather jolly looking Butlin's tent to entertain them if they were.

I was content to rest my poor little aching feet and ponder all things vintage. Now where's my cocktail?

...and according to the Munchkin, this little mention makes us famous at last ! (Thanks ladies-Annie, Jill and Donna- for the tip offs.)