One whole week without Jeremy Kyle!

It’s been a funny old week for me. A weird one. But one that I have really enjoyed.

Just before the Easter holidays, I gave up the full-time teaching job that I have loved for 12 years. I won’t bore you with the details; just a few words will suffice – stress, exhaustion, Ofsted, paperwork and lack of family time. Having thought of nothing else for many agonising weeks, the final straw was when my 5 year old son, just a week after the Christmas holidays, said “I can’t wait until the summer holidays Mummy, because then you will have time to play with me again”. Ouch! My life had become a refrain of “Not now, sweetheart, I have work to do”, and putting my job before my family. Because that’s what teachers do.

People that know me will know what a hard decision it was. Yes, I am giving up a regular salary. Yes, I will miss the children. Yes, I feel that I am abandoning the job that I love. But really, something had to give. Either the job, or my mental well-being, family life and relationships. In the end, it was a no-brainer. My little boy’s comments really hit home.

So, at the end of the Spring term, I said goodbye to the lovely school I had been teaching at for 12 years. Twelve years! Where did that time go? I had a fabulous last day full of lovely comments, presents and a super assembly from all my friends and the children. I have refrained from writing about it until now because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about everything.

But now I can tell you. The Easter holidays were the best two weeks I have had for many years. No planning, marking, assessment or preparation for the new term. Just winding down, enjoying time with my family, taking my little boy on outings, actually cooking proper meals and of course doing some sewing. Yay! Time for sewing! Much excitement!

But that was the holidays. The first day back at school was weird. Being a parent first and foremost, and not a teacher (my little boy goes to my old school). I met a couple of other teacher-parents on the way in, one of whom said “I’m really jealous of you”, the other who said “You lucky thing – enjoy it”.  Once I got home I thought “Now what?! Jeremy Kyle and Homes Under the Hammer?!” I don’t know how to be unemployed – I haven’t done it since I was about 19.

But I have filled my 5 precious days with sewing (I have my things in this shop in Norwich and online in my Etsy shop, both of which really need restocking); organising things that I haven’t had time to do for ages (filing, decluttering, etc.) and generally just regrouping and thinking about the future. I also did a day’s supply at a local school, which was great because I went in at 8:15, taught the lovely kids, then left at 3:30. No, people, this is not what teachers normally do!!! But it was good. The best thing was that one day this week, I picked up my little lad after school and then we went to the park! Yes – the park, after school! No getting home, throwing some food together and having just half an hour with my child before bath and bed. It was just lovely.

I have had so many positive comments from colleagues, friends, other parents in my son’s class, and relations. One lovely ex-parent (of a child I taught a few years ago) bumped into me at the castle and gave me a huge hug and said “Well done for getting out!” (her husband is a teacher too, so she knows what it’s like). That really made me feel good. I feel like I am finding myself again. And I hope my family thinks I am a bit more chilled out and less shouty! The house is marginally tidier (miracles don’t happen in a week!) and the home cooking has improved.

Not quite certain yet what the future holds. I am not sure if I can leave completely – I am a teacher and I love to teach. I just don’t like what the teaching profession is at the moment. So I am looking around for what I might do come September. Maybe a short-term teaching contract, maybe part-time, maybe something totally different? In the meantime, I am looking forward to doing some supply days here and there, but I am also busy making bags and bits and doing the family thing. I am really busy and enjoying every minute.

And daytime telly hasn’t even gone on once! Sorry, Jeremy, you’re just not even on my radar.

Some seriously selfish sewing…sweet!

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So, the Easter holidays are nearly over. It’s been such a lovely holiday. The hols are great because I can stay up and do my favourite type of sewing – late-night! I have recently discovered the amazingness of a bluetooth speaker and GooglePlay combined so I have been creating my sewing playlists and listening to suggested playlists. I loved the one suggested for me the other day – “Britpop: the Blair Years” – brilliant!

Anyway, I did make quite a few new bags & bits for the shop (some of which are in the new window, in case you didn’t catch my facebook updates and tweets!) A big thrill to see my stuff on display in the window! I need to make some things for the Etsy shop now as it’s looking a bit sparse!

But this week I did some ME sewing too. Selfish sewing! I made two things for me. Two useful things, not mere fripperies, I’ll have you know! The first was a lovely new cover for my sewing machine. My machine is my pride and joy, as you know, and therefore needs protecting from dust and other yukky stuff. The cover that came with it is well naff and now getting somewhat tatty with being taken off and on. It’s a rubbish pvc material that is splitting.

A sad-looking machine
A sad-looking machine

So I decided to draft a pattern from it and make a new one, in one of my favourite fabrics (you will recognise this one if you know me well!) I also added a handle aperture so I can lift it with the cover in situ and a front pocket to store my manual (I’m always misplacing it), along with a couple of other bits and bobs should I need to transport it. I lined it in a contrasting red polka dot (left over from my fifties dress, about which I shall blog soon!) What do you think? One dapper sewing machine, is he not?!

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So. The second thing. Made it last night, and felt very naughty as I didn’t start making it until 11:30 at night – eek! But I do like to see things through till the end once I start (this is why I enjoy bags and stuff like that and not anything that takes way too long!) and so I finally plopped the laptop into the finished bag at 2:00 am and then plopped into bed myself! Very satisfying result for a Saturday night.

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I love it. I wanted a messenger-style bag rather than a briefcase-type case as I have to carry lots of other things to work of a morning. I have made it to fit like a glove (totes custom-made, guys!) and the fabric is a gorgeous Marimekko Kivet print brought back from California by my lovely mother-in-law. I do love a bit of orange and red, have you noticed yet?! It is well-padded for protection and fully lined in another cute piece of fabric (first outing for this one too – given to me last Christmas by my equally-lovely sis-in-law in California!) If anyone is ever stuck for anything to buy me for birthday or Christmas, some awesome fabric is ALWAYS a winner!

So, that’s my selfish sewing! What have you been making lately?

The wonderful Norwich Lanes

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I spent the day today manning the shop at Norwich Gift Emporium, where I have my bags for sale. Wow, what a talented bunch of people there are exhibiting their things here! Just beautiful, unusual things and all handmade by local artisans.

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The shop is situated in Lower Goat Lane in the Norwich Lanes district. This is a part of Norwich that is full of lovely small shops, cafés, galleries and other independent businesses.  Down the road there is the Birdcage bar, at the top of the lane there is Imelda’s for fabulous shoes, and there are loads of great eateries to offer coffee, cakes and other yummy delights!

The Norwich Lanes offers the chance to escape the mass-produced generic experience on offer on the high street. Here you will not find Primark or Starbucks. It is fun to wander around looking at all the interesting bits & bobs on offer. I love stopping off for a pot of tea and a cheese scone at Biddy’s Tearoom or browsing the unusual books on offer at The Book Hive.IMG_5962IMG_5953 IMG_5952IMG_5944

I thought I’d tempt you with a selection of photos of some of the goodies that the Norwich Gift Emporium has to offer. Come and have a look! While you’re here, explore the rest of the Lanes – Norwich is really lucky to have such a lovely quarter – come and use it!

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Cute seals to wish you all a Happy Easter!

I'n no bunny but Happy Easter anyway!

Happy Easter weekend, everyone! I missed out on contributing to the slew of posts yesterday, but here I am now. Just a quickie to share some sweet pictures.

Have had a lovely weekend with family and friends staying and then today, a super walk on the east Norfolk coast at Horsey, to see the colony of hundreds of gorgeous seals (cute pics alert!) A lovely way to spend Bank Holiday Monday, with my husband and son. We followed the seal-watching with an al-fresco lunch (still a little chilly here in Norfolk for a picnic, but it was lovely.)

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You can’t beat Norfolk for wildlife – it is truly lovely and really special to be able to spend some time with these gorgeous creatures.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Is this any use to you? Yes please!

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One of the lovely things about sewing is that once people know you sew, then they will bear you in mind when having a clear-out! You may become the destination for all sorts of goodies, if you’re lucky!

I write this post because this month, I have been fortunate enough to have several things donated to my stash! Some fabric, a boxful of mixed threads and some pins, a couple of cones of yarn and the thing I got most excited about…three reels of bias binding!

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Sewists are by nature hoarders, I think. Am I right?! There is not a scrap of ribbon, a spool of thread or a tiny square of fabric that is useless. Seriously. I always say yes (or actually “WOW, YES, PLEASE!!!” while trying not to drool on the item in question) when anyone offers me anything remotely to do with sewing. You never know when it’ll come in useful. In fact, my Margot pyjamas (see previous post) and my Skater Dress were both made out of fabric that someone gave me last year when their aunt was having a clear out!

Tools and gadgets are also most welcome, aren’t they? Some of my most treasured items came from my grandmother’s sewing & knitting things, which I inherited when she died. Every time I use her darning mushroom or needle roll I think of her. I also have a large tin full of knitting needles of all sizes that have come from friends, relatives and friends-of-friends that know about me!

Earlier this year, I inherited a cute book on crochet from a friend at work that found out it wasn’t for her. I also have become the lucky owner of a whole set of Golden Hands magazines that I have been lusting after for years (oooh! I love them for their seventies macrame and lurex gorgeousness!)

So the message to you all is to say “Yes please”, whenever anyone offers you anything. You might not use it straight away, but if you keep it squirrelled away, you never know when you might want to use it! Now, what can I do with 75 metres of bias binding?!!

A tidy-up, and a couple of things knocked off the To Do list!

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Last weekend I tidied my sewing room! Woo-hoo! It was lovely to spend some time sorting through my fabric stash especially (wow, I have too much fabric, if there is such a thing!) and rediscovering some of the lovely bits and pieces I’d forgotten about! It’s all now nice and tidy and stacked neatly in colour blocks. Wonder how long that will last?! But it gave me a good chance to spy things I’d not remembered I had, which led in turn to a couple of things on the To-Do list!

My stash. I seriously need to use some of it before buying anything new!
My stash. I seriously need to use some of it before buying anything new! This cupboard is the height of me, by the way!

The 2015 “To Do” list is coming along nicely. I have been making myself spend more time sewing lately as a means to de-stressing and getting a better perspective on life! So the first thing I did was to make another Coco dress. I made one last year in a brown jersey fabric with orange helicopters on. Here it is:

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I wear it so much and it’s so comfy. So this time I made one in a red ladybird spot. I love it and have already worn it a couple of times, so I think it’s a good addition to the wardrobe. I do love Coco, and this fabric (ponte di Roma) was a dream to sew. Anyone nervous about sewing with a stretch fabric would do well with this as a first try.

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I topstitched the pockets this time because the last one I made annoys me a bit because the fabric rolls (see below). But apart from that, a lovely quick and satisfying sew!

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The second thing I made was a pair of Margot pyjamas from Tilly’s book Love at First Stitch. I ditched the ribbon ties in favour of elastic, which I much prefer in a pyjama! Hmmm…is it possible to have a singular of pyjamas?!!

I discovered this brushed cotton plaid when I tidied! Yay! Perfect for pjs! I do love my pjs, and I don’t think I could ever have too many!

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You can see I used my beloved overlocker (thanks again, Mum!) to neaten up the seams.

Lovely and cosy.

Norwich Gift Emporium

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Went this week to see my new bags & bits in-situ in the shop! The Norwich Gift Emporium is one of the gorgeous little shops for which the Norwich Lanes is famous. If you haven’t been to Norwich, you must come! I am not a shopper but I love the interesting and unique little boutiques and eateries & drinkeries, (does that exist?!) that it boasts.

So, anyway, Norwich Gift Emporium is on Lower Goat Lane. It has been open for nearly a year and features handmade goodies from Norfolk artists and makers. As such, it is an eclectic mix of lovely bits and pieces by a bunch of very talented people. I think I might be spending more in there than I make!

So here are a few snaps for you: feast your eyes on the loveliness!

My bags
My bags!
My bits!
My bits!

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A couple of my things have been put in the gorgeous new window display. IMG_5767

You can find the shop on facebook here.