Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Catching Up

Hello readers, and how are things with you today?  Let's be English, and discuss the weather.  It's improved, hasn't it?  I for one, am very glad for that.  It's been good to be able to step out in skirts and pumps.  Today, I'm sharing (mainly) recent Instagram shots for all you non-IG'ers out there.

So it's been off with all the woollies and getting reacquainted with all those pretty Summery frocks, instead.

I missed three weeks of crafty Wednesday mornings whilst I was away so off I trotted on Wednesday, eager to catch up on all the news.  I wasn't very organised so I grabbed my trusty hexys to take.  It is really growing now, I say "it" because I'm not sure what I'm really making.  I think I will just keep going, it can be a long-term project.  So far, I've managed to keep all the hexys different and every time I get new vintage fabric, I chop a bit off for the hexy pile.

Stag and Bow ,where the open crafty morning is held, was looking lovely as always, and I was really pleased to see the new workshop timetable in print, with one of my 1940's style posies on the front cover.  Bookings are now being taken for all workshops, including those I'm teaching (which are Patchwork and Quilting, 1940's Posies and English Paper Piecing).  Come, come do, we'll have the best time together; crafting, munching and nattering!

Pascale always comes up with lovely window displays and I was particularly taken with this one, with its 1940's CC41 chair and giant biscuit cushions.  I think I'd be forever hungry!

In preparation for my posies course, I'm working hard on reproducing lots of 1940's posy designs, whether from original patterns or original pieces in my collection.  Last week, harebells.

Taking it rather more easy, have been the furry friends.  Charlie Boy is not yet too bothered by the increase in temperature and his new favourite spot is the thrifty vintage hearth rug.

Jacky Ginge has wanted company and squeezed himself onto the chair in my Den.

Oh yes, I sorted out my stack of English paper pieced star blocks and added those which I made on holiday.  This is a hand sewing project so I tend only to work on it when we're away.  As such, it's very slow progress.  I think I now have over twenty blocks.  Each one takes a day to make from start to finish.  Ooh, I do love a bit of fussy cutting.

It hasn't all been hard crafty slog (it's a hard job but somebody's got to do it!), there has been cake making (and eating) and lots of reading.

Cherry Menlove's new book is an absolute delight.

As is Sarah Moore's.  Serious eye candy.

I started re-reading through lots of my vintage magazines, too.  Mr HenHouse picked these up for me at a flea market.  Oh, weren't those ladies of 1944 so very glamorous, despite the hard times they were living through?  (A fave CC41 pinny in the background.)

One very exciting thing was the start of the car boot sale season, yipeeeee!  We didn't manage to get up very early (I blame jet lag) but there were still the odd thrifty treasures to be found.  Can't wait to make over this one, though I've given the paintwork a good clean and will be keeping the delightful primrose paint and cute transfers.  I can concentrate on the bedding, my favourite bit.

More china and bakelite.  How could I leave them behind?  The pink bakelite pot with the crinoline lady lid came full of the cutest pink and blue hair curlers.  All for £1.  I think my favourite find was the dinky green floral-painted egg cup, though.

On Friday, I had the arduous task of considering which of my quilts Pascale might like to borrow to go into the window at Stag and Bow to promote the upcoming Patchwork and Quilting course.  Hmmm...

I finally finished the scrappy tripalong by sewing on its name patch at crafty social Friday night (another fab free event at Stag and Bow).

And finally, the sun shone on Saturday, making the decision as regards what to wear for our outing, all the more difficult.  Vintage it needed to be...

We left the car at home and let the train take the strain as we headed for Brighton and a fair dedicated to these beauties...

We didn't need another jukebox but they were fabulous to look at.  We could, of course, consider all the other vintage delights on offer, from homewares to clothes to records.

Me?  I came home with a 1930's green biscuit barrel and a 1950's frock with blue roses and a fabby spiky neckline!  It is dead stock, I can't believe I am the first person to wear this beauty, sixty years on.  

After a few glasses of wine, the twirling commenced (I'm wearing a vintage '50s net petticoat underneath).  They don't make 'em like they used to!

Here's to another good week for one and all.  Xxx

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Rainbow Ripples

At last, that yellow ball in the sky known as the sun has peeked through the clouds to show its face.  I grabbed the opportunity and headed off outdoors.

Sunny weather and flowers just seem to go together.  I hope soon there might be some real ones in the garden but I'll make do with this old thrifty book with its gorgeous colour plates for now.

I wonder if any eagle-eyed readers spotted something familiar in the background?  Because when the sun shines after months of gloom, you know it's time to pull your finger out and get snapping all those quilts you've worked on throughout the Winter.

First up, is this ripple quilt, inspired of course, by the gorgeous crocheted ripple blanket of recent times.  If it can be made in wool, why not fabric, I thought?

I started it way back, here I was working on the hand quilting in the park, with the Munchkin.  It has been finished a while, just waiting its moment on the washing line of glory!

I love this quilt.  It's only small, as I don't like hand quilting large quilts but I do enjoy big-stitch quilting with perle cottons on something of this size.  The fabrics are many of my favourites, mainly 1930's reproduction in style, and I LOVE the Liberty backing.

I didn't get the rippley thing out of my system and some while later, I pondered that it would be possible to achieve the same chevron effect through a different method, rather than the half-square triangles I had used to make my "Rainbow Ripple" quilt.

What about simple blocks made of two stripes of fabric but then set on point in the quilt to achieve the rippley look?  And so its friend was born.

This time, I went for the addition of a stripe of white, too.  I like the fresh modern look this gives the quilt. It also has many of the same gorgeous 1930's inspired cottons in yummy shades. This design is a bit quicker to make than the half-square triangles, so I made a bigger quilt, but there is a fair bit of conscious keeping track required when it comes to sewing the blocks together as they're set on point (like a diamond).

I machine quilted this one and was so pleased with it that I felt it deserved me letting go of some of my hoarded Cath Kidston rosebud fabric for the backing.

What an idyllic afternoon it was yesterday, reclining on the garden bench surrounded by pretty cushions and quilts, finishing off the new Cath Kidston book, listening to the birds.  I hope we can look forward to many more days like that in the coming months.

The Rainbow Chevron quilt is currently waiting patiently for a new loving owner in my blogshop should you fancy a spot of pretty garden relaxing yourself.

Friday, 19 April 2013


My my, how funny it feels to be sitting back here in my seat, in my beloved Den, fingers at the keyboard.  For we have just returned from two weeks in sunny Mexico where we had no access to techy stuff of any kind.  No 'phones, no 'pads, no t'internet.  Do you know, it was rather nice.

Instead, we immersed ourselves in... tequila and sombreros, it would seem!

We stayed in a quiet place called Tulum which is located south of the strip that is known as the Mayan Riviera.  We like it relaxed and quiet so somewhere like Tulum's better known neighbour, Cancun, was not going to be our style.

It was a long trip.  Luckily, this side, we are only about 45 minutes from Gatwick but the flight was ten hours and the transfer at the other end, another couple.  We arrived after dark and were good for nothing, Mexico being 6 hours behind GMT, we headed for the sack with a comatosed Munchkin! 

Next day, the sun shone and it was time to explore our new surroundings and home for the next fourteen nights.

The resorts in Mexico are pretty huge, some have over 2000 rooms.  I knew this would not suit us so our hotel had a meagre 500!  The resort's grounds were very beautiful and the result of many hard hours work.  It seems labour is plentiful in Mexico and it showed in the customer service and care paid to the surroundings.  The Mexican people were delightful, I am pleased to report. 

A natural "cenote" was present in the grounds, it was pretty nice to have the fountain spray over you as you panted away through the midday heat.  The temperature was around 90 degrees in the day and didn't drop below about 75 degrees at night.  Lovely!

Other more surprising features were stumbled upon, like this giant chess game!

A very pretty little chapel was also located in the hotel's grounds.  Many weddings took place in the resort although it seemed nearly all couples opted for the beach.  It was interesting to view each one from afar; some went casual, some went for kilts!

It seems water is not in short supply in Mexico either, and the lovely gardens were heavily irrigated.  The temptation to hurl oneself under the sprinklers was hard to resist at times!  I avoided the resident lazy lizards and admired the pretty flowers instead.

But I cannot lie, the real draw lay here...

Oodles of white sand and turquoise sea.  Sadly, the shore was quite rocky (the world's second largest coral reef was located just off shore), if there was ever a next time, sand shoes would be a must.  Pretty nice to sit upon and gaze out to sea though, eh?

We dragged ourselves away to visit the spa and cool down, have all those stresses of the last year massaged away...

Although Tulum is located some distance from the airport, the benefits are reaped when visiting the historical ruins which are all located within reach of this area.  Below are the ruins of the Mayan village at Tulum, remarkably well preserved and so interesting to see it all laid out just like a little village.  Far too many basking lizards for my liking but I was brave!

It has a lovely location right on the beach's edge as it was once an important trading port.  The  breezes were most welcome and the views "to-die-for".

Afterwards, well it would have been rude not to take a look at the local handicrafts on offer.

I went to Mexico on a hopeful mission.  I had stumbled across a fabulous embroidered blouse on Etsy and further research revealed that this sort of pretty clothing originated in Mexico.  It was very pricey on Etsy so I waited patiently for our trip.

The Mexicans are obviously skilled craftspeople; back at the hotel, even the buffet breakfast was beautifully displayed with arrangements of carved fruits.

We ventured further along the coast and were rewarded with nearly deserted beaches and lovely warm clear seas you could rush headlong into.  Bliss.

All good things come to an end, of course.  It was too soon time to say adios to Mexico and head for home.  But I am a homebird, yes indeed, so this could only ever be a cause of continuing joy for me.  Hello Den, hello stash, hello furry friends!

And most importantly, hello readers!  Good to be back. X

(Instagram shot.)

Monday, 1 April 2013

Watch the Birdy

Happy 1st April, dear readers.  I hope you are all having a wonderful Easter weekend.  It's been busy here, but fun too, and on Saturday... well, I was in for a treat!

It was a workshop day and off I set just a hop, skip and a jump away, to Cockpit Arts in Holborn (central London).

 This is home to a whole bunch of creative folk.

Of course, I was in search of the studio of someone in particular...

Remember a few weeks ago when I went off to Anthropologie to take part in the Selvedge-led workshop with Abigail Brown to create one of her "matchbox tweeters" (read here if you fancy)?  How could I say no when Abbie mentioned she was starting workshops to make her little birds?

The workshop was held in Abbie's studio which I really loved as I do like to see the spaces where people create.  Those are always my fave articles in magazines and books.  Nosy, moi?  I hesitate to use that over-bandied-about word but here it's true, being in Abbie's studio surrounded by her work was so very inspirational.

A visual treat for the eyes.

I like nosing at other people's pin boards, too!

LOVE these little creatures! 

Abbie's signature minty green tissue paper for wrapping purchases safe and sound.

Anyway, time to get down to business.  In the centre of the table, Abbie had placed her examples of the bird which she was going to teach us to make.

In the interests of time (and our sanity, ha!)  she had kindly asked us what colour bird we would like to make and pre-made the body for us.  As you can see, Abbie favours a trusty vintage Bernina for sewing.

We were a group of six, all lovely fellow crafty souls and we had a good natter amongst the tea and biccies (and mini eggs!)  Oh golly, we made a mess, didn't we?  Abbie provided all the materials but we were invited to bring along any of our own fabrics we might want to incorporate.

I went for the yellow bird and Primrose began to take shape.

After the stuffing (hard work!), it was time to get on with the fussy bits.  Time to choose pretty scraps of Liberty Tana Lawn, old shirtings and candy-coloured twills.  From a choice of about 7 base colours, we could then "accessorise" our bird however we chose.  I went for the Spring-like colours I love but what is great about these sorts of workshops is that people all create something utterly unique to them.  Obviously, we had inspiration from Abbie's work all around us.

Primrose rocking her tail feathers!

So at the end, we had a little "show and tell".

What a truly fab day!  It's always a treat to escape from the domestic life every now and then and immerse yourself in crafty pleasure, don't you think?  Abbie was a great teacher, it was a privilege to peek into her working environment, and to come away with a handmade keepsake at the end of the day...bonus!  (Did you spot the finished Primrose in the first picture up there?)  Cockpit Arts holds open days periodically which I would really like to go to (so I can see all the other fabulous work which I know is made there).  Abbie has a couple more workshops coming up this weekend, you might like to take a look at her blog for more info (she also has s Facebook page, complete with a shot of us all yesterday).

Finally, Happy Easter to me!  I couldn't resist bringing home that gorgeous fox as a further momento of a fabulous day.

Now readers, I must love you and leave you for a good while.  The sunshine of far-flung sandy shores beckons.  I do hope it appears for you too and I'll be back before you know it, with bells on! XXX