Thursday, 13 September 2012

Little Box

I have just added a Personalised Stocking to the shop but at the same time I took photos of a little box I made as a Christmas present for a stitching friend (who doesn't "do" computers, thankfully). 

No stitching for this one just sticking but I did find sticking fabric easier than I have found sticking paper!  It needs filling with scissors and other sewing goodies but I put a thimble in the middle and some needles in just to show how it works.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The start of the workshop season …

and last Saturday I went to my first in lovely Pately Bridge.  My attitude to driving caused more mirth within the family when I explained that I enjoyed the journey back more than the journey there but it made sense to me – there is a big drop on my side of the road on the way there!  It's all worth it though because the countyside is stunning.
I was going to the studio of Kirsty Hopkins and I could see from her website that she is a very talented fabric artist but, of course, with a new subject, you really don’t know what it is all about or how you will take to it.  I had been looking into free motion embroidery and wanted to know more and Mum came up trumps with the offer of the workshop as a birthday present.  I have to say it was a wonderful day.  It is a one to one course, well actually one to two as Kirsty’s lovely mum, Charmian, is part of the business too and her input gives you an extra angle with your learning.  This makes it a concentrated day but you cover an awful lot.  There are some really important things to know about when deciding which course to sign up to so I will cover those first.  The tea/coffee is provided unstintingly – most important.  The atmosphere is quiet and very conducive to learning.  Both Kirsty and Charmian are very encouraging which I found really important as I see myself as much more of a crafter than an artist so being able to using this artistically was a bit of a leap of faith. 
I spent the morning and a little bit of the afternoon learning different stiches which would outline or fill parts of a design.   The concentration needed was intense as this is quite a new way to use your sewing machine so prepare to be very tired by the end of the day if you are doing this course – tired but very pleased with what you have learnt in my case.  Finally I used some of the stiches to see just what I could do when making a picture.  This was what I produced.

I can really see me using the tequniques I learned to enhance the applique I am loving doing at the moment.  Kirsty and her mum also told me of courses local to me where I learn how to use free motion embriodery for traditional quilting.  I have booked for one of these and will be telling you about that next week.  It does feel like full on learning at the moment but it will be such a useful skill taking my sewing forward.
I am putting a "page" on the right hand side listing useful courses.  Again, if you know of any in the area please let me know and I will add them.
Happy crafting!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Great Northern Needlecraft Show

In contrast to the Quilt show the Needlecraft show did not overwhelm me but did cause me to feel quite worn out as I felt I had to do the rounds at least twice and then go back to the important exhibitors.  This again was where an extra year’s worth of knowledge paid off.  There were many exhibitions of Embroidery machines and I did feel I knew what I was looking for when I looked at them … but oh the prices!  I bought a second (or possibly third) hand Brother Embroidery machine during the year and I do feel this is a really good way to find out if it is for you.  I can see the point of paying £4,000, £5,000 or even more if this is your thing and you are a) considerably richer than me or b) using it as a business tool.  They did do beautiful embroidery though …. sigh.
There were a fantastic number of material sellers and it was good to discover a few more with bricks and mortar shops closer to me.  Although I haven’t reached the stage of driving where I design all my trips round only taking left turns yet, as did the elderly father of one of friends in the past; I do now limit the distance I am willing to go and the number of motorways!  I digress – back to the fabric sellers.  I do like to ask if they are online when I buy fabric, in case I need more of the same.  Only one seller I spoke to, the lady from The Shuttle at Baildon Bridge, Shipley, didn’t have a website and she gave me her address and suggested I send a small clipping back to her and they could source it from there.  Well done them.  Running a website is not for everybody and, if it is for sales it can really add to your overheads.  I was impressed they had found a way that worked for them.  I bought some lovely Christmas fabrics from them.
As I said I do take the online information for sellers I am interested in.  One seller – The Bobbin Patch had a lovely selection of Button Angel kits (mainly bags from what I could see)  and Doll kits but I notice there are not as many on their site.  I know it is hard to find time to photograph and list the items but I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t list on particular doll kit I loved as I was going to suggest it as a Christmas present (for me) to my son.  I think it is very difficult for small sellers as they have to be everything within the business but they pay a lot to be at a show like this and it seems a shame to me not to optimise the marketing angle as well as the selling one.
Also selling some really well matched fabric with subtle colour sets which would appeal if I was patch working was Kalsquilt.  There buyer seemed to have a very good eye for colour so I will be visiting that website in the future.
The wonderful Barnyarns were there with some very knowledgeable help being offered.  They are very close to Harrogate as they are based in Ripon and I am hoping to pay them a visit in the future and report back on what I find.   In addition to some lovely patchwork cottons Lady Sew and Sew  also impressed with a range of designer fabrics.  I didn’t see this anywhere else.  It is difficult for dressmakers to find fabric shops these day (many just sell for interior design) so I was really pleased to see this.
Finally I would like to mention two rather different stall holders.   One was demonstrating the Accuquilt which I didn’t manage to see actually working last year.  I was impressed with the ease of use of the machine and think it would be really good for anyone making quilts where they have to do multiples of the same shape.  I still love my Slice Fabrique for applique and think it is the better machine for this purpose but I can see the use of the Accuquilt for basic quilting.  The other stall holder was a local girl, Sue Schofield of Springwood House Designs.  She makes mainly Christmas items and sells kits which would really help inspire you.  I emailed Sue as soon as I got back as she also runs workshops and got a lovely answer back saying basically come along and make the items you want to make.  So I am booking for her October workshop!
All in all it was an exhausting but wonderful day out. 
Happy crafting everyone and speak to you next week.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Great Northern Quilt Show

What a wonderful time I had at the Great Northern Quilt Show and the Great Northern Needlecraft Show at the weekend.  Last year I felt very overwhelmed by the wonderful quilts.  This year I felt I knew a bit more about the whole subject and it helped me to see what and how people where trying to do to achieve their inspired designs.  Although there was a great variety of styles and quilts on show one theme that I picked up on were jewel colours.  One was designed from scratch in a Jacobean style; that idea may help you conjure up the colours used.  However, these colours and even some very Jacobean shapes were used elsewhere.
In total contrast to these I came across one amazing self-coloured quilt (calico coloured) and read the attached label.  The maker said that they were inspired to make this quilt after attending a workshop with Jenny Rayment – oh that workshops with anyone could raise my game to those levels.  Finally, in this section, the other ones that stood out for me where the ones using Suffolk Puffs.  Now these little circles with their gathered edge have left me rather cold up until now but the pictures made with them, mainly of cottage garden flowers put them into the “of course that’s the way to do it” category for me!  Sadly, no photography is allowed but I can assure you these quilts were a real inspiration. 
My forum friend Dina has also reported on her view of the show on her blog  which you may like to read too.  Tomorrow – the other half of the show - the Great Northern Needlecraft Show.