luckybear · norfolk · Sewing · sewing bags

My new favourite pattern

Sometimes I get a new pattern that I fall in love with and have to make not just one or two but lots! (Tilly & The Buttons Coco is one of those – I have quite a collection of them now!) It happened again last month: I bought my first Dog Under My Desk pattern, the Two Zip Hipster, and I love it! Friends have been asking me for a top-zip cross-body bag as the ones I usually make are either open-top or close with a magnetic closure. So I’ve been searching for a good pattern and have seen several recommendations in the sewing community for Dog Under My Desk.

I made the first one in plain denim with a blue stripe cotton lining. I didn’t have any sew-in interfacing or canvas, as was suggested, so used the thinnest wadding (batting) I had, which in hindsight was a bit too thick, so made quite a puffy bag, although it is very sturdy and will protect whatever is inside. But the pattern and the instructions are great, so I have since sewed up 4 more, in different fabrics, and have a fifth and sixth cut ready to sew (I’ve run out of zips so have to wait for more to come – aarrgggh, the torture!)

I then bought a second pattern from Dog Under My Desk, the Daytripper bag. Again, another lovely pattern with amazing instructions and great step-by-step photos. I highly recommend these patterns and will be back for more. The Daytripper took a lot longer, but I have ended up with a lovely, huge bag that is great for stashing all my stuff! It is even big enough to carry a magazine, and the back zipped pocket is roomy enough for a large notebook/journal or iPad. I am one of those gals that carries so much junk with her, (it’s all necessary junk, of course!) but this bag takes it all, and then some! I made it in a cool Rose and Hubble cow print fabric and it’s really nice and has been so useful!

I have a couple of other new bags and pouches in the pipeline…more on them soon! Hello to my new followers! Great to have you here – drop me a message!

In the meantime, if you’d like to see the bags I have for sale, please check out my Etsy shop  or my brand-new nuMonday shop.

Sewing

Me-Made May – 1/2 way mark! (Beware: cringe-making photos ahead!)

Here we are, half way through the month and at the half-way point of Me-Made May 2016. I had great intentions to document more regularly – such as each week. However, week one came and went, with me busy with this and that, so now I am doing a 2-week update. As it’s now fourteen days’ worth of the project, I won’t bore you with 14 different photos. (Yawn!) Just a quick update – I have been really pleased with myself this year – it’s gone much better than last year! I have managed every single day wearing something that in some way has come about at the hands of ME!

There have been a couple of days when the me-makes have been accessories or bags, or on one day, an altered garment, but otherwise I have managed pretty much to wear an outfit I have made myself. Me. (Hence the “Me-Made” in the title!) Oh, just remembered – pyjamas too (no way am I showing you shots of me first thing in the morning, though. Nobody deserves that!)

So here is a little montage of some of the outfits! You will have to feel very honoured that I am sharing them with you – I HATE photos of myself, and some of these are totally goofy (blame my photographer!)

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L-R: Stripey Coco dress (awful selfie, as aforementioned photographer had already left for work!), appliqued Delphine skirt, green lined wool skirt with flounce, Dottie Angel frock.

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Ladybird spot Coco dress, wool felt corsage (on a day I wore a store-bought dress!)

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What I call my Minnie Mouse dress! Worm for a friend’s 50th – I love this petticoat! I also made matching earrings (can you see them?) Apologies for coats and schoolbags in the background!

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My Spider-Man dress! My son got new Star Wars curtains for Christmas, so said I could have his old Spider-Man ones! He has now asked for PJs with the other curtain once he saw my dress. Think I need a Wonder Woman one next!!!

So, will try to continue to do the Me-Made thing for the next 2 weeks! (This will include a camping trip – the pjyamas might get another outing!)

 

Sewing

Me-Made-May 2016

Last year, I signed up for Me-Made-May. This is hosted by Zoe from So, Zo, What Do You Know?  I tried but it didn’t go so well as I found I didn’t really have an awful lot of stuff I’d made!

So this year I am trying again. More to show myself what I need to make to fill the gaps in my wardrobe! But it’s a bit of fun, so here goes…this is my Me Made May pledge!‘I, Lucy, of luckybearnorfolk (www.luckybearnorfolk.com), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear something I have made, altered or refashioned each day for the duration of May 2016’. 

   

This will include accessories as well as clothes. I will post some photos on at least a weekly basis to show you what I’m wearing! Yesterday I started it off with a Coco dress I made last month. It’s quite a thick jersey but the British spring weather is so changeable that I’m sure I’ll be wearing it more than once in May! I totally forgot, however, to take a photo until husband was out at a gig and son was in bed, so have had to take some pretty poor selfies that only show bits of it. Must do better from now on!

Sewing

My Dottie Angel frock

Half term. Family time but also a little bit of time for sewing! Yes, I need to make stock for the Etsy shop and upload it – and for the bricks & mortar shop (Norwich Gift Emporium). But I also wanted to indulge in a bit of me-sewing. I have a few garment patterns now (for “few”, read “far too many but still probably not enough”!) and I have been thinking about what to make next for a while. So I decided on some selfish sewing to boost my me-made wardrobe.

So I got out my collection and had a rummage through. Should I go indie or big-name pattern house? I initially decided to make a quick and simple “Sewing time: 1 hour” A-line skirt (it’s NEVER 1 hour, believe me!) but to my dismay, the lovely piece of fabric I’d had in mind was too small, as the print only runs one way (will have to save it for something else!) So I put that away and instead got out the Dottie Angel frock pattern (Simplicity 1080) that I bought on impulse a few weeks ago. I have many Pinterest pins of this dress and thought it looked really cute and simple to make. I kinda like the quirky Dottie Angel look and thought I’d have a go. A quick, fun sewing project, thought I!

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How mistaken I was! This was probably one of my most-hated of sewing projects to date. I can’t say what went wrong, as it does seem to be quite a simple pattern. I thought I had measured faithfully and I chose the slightly larger size according to one of my measurements (having been stung by another dress earlier in the week being a tad too small – more of that another time!) and yanked a couple of batik prints out of my stash. One of them was surely intended to be a tablecloth! A bit of a mish-mash, but I thought “quirky in the style of Dottie Angel!”

I followed the pattern instructions to the letter but found it not really very pleasurable to make. At all. And because it only comes together at the last two seams, it was impossible to fit as I went along, unlike other dresses I’ve made. So at the end, I was faced with lots of adjustings because it was absolutely enormous and made me look like a sack of potatoes. Meh. It also calls for lots of bias binding to bind the pockets, neckline, armholes, etc. I’m not keen on bound armholes!IMG_0005

I redid the side seams five times – yes FIVE! – in order to get it down to something passable. I have hacked away about 3cm off each side to try to fit it, which is quite a lot! And I hated the long-ness of it. Yes, length is in right now, the midi is a bit of a fashion thing, but I personally don’t like wearing things that long. So I whipped off about 15cm from the length too, because I prefer things ‘bove the knee. So now it’s a roomy, slouchy kinda house-dress/tunic-thing, with ties that pull it back (which to my tastes are waaaay too long), and it’ll probably look better layered, I guess. I think it’s something you might wear down the allotment. With your wellies and some chunky hand-knitted boot socks. And maybe a more earth-mothery kind of girl might suit it better. But is it really my sort of thing? I am not even really sure I will wear it (I’ll let you know if I do!) I think I’m maybe more of a fitted dress or shift kinda gal! I have put a couple of pictures to show you (front and back views) – which look ok I suppose. But I’m just not totally sold on it at the moment. And it doesn’t fit me as well as the ones fit those lovely models on the pattern pack! #storyofmylife

Do you chaps ever have things that you make and once they’re made, you’re like “Oh. Underwhelming.”? Or have you had any disasters? I am still learning how to “do” clothes, rather than bags, and I suppose this was a good learning tool. I do learn something new every time I make a new garment. Not sure whether to have another go in the smaller size, with fabrics that I love more, to try to get a better fit, or just to forget it! Or to make the shorter tunic version (which is almost what this turned out to be, as I chopped so much off the bottom!) Would love to know if anyone else has made this pattern, and how you got on with it.

***PRE-PUBLICATION UPDATE***  Wore it today. Mostly because it was Sunday and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere where anyone could see me, so thought “What the hell!” I wore it with opaque green tights and a slouchy navy cardi, and a chunky ethnic-type ceramic pendant. It’s really comfy, and I think I might actually like it a bit! It is growing on me!  Just not really an enjoyable make. Maybe the second time might be easier, now I know what I’m doing…

 

norfolk · Sewing

Things for me! (part 2)

Last time I showed you my new lunchbag. I have had some really lovely comments from lots of people about it, both online and in the flesh, and it is proving to be a very useful little number! It fits all my lunch, snacks and my flask too. Well done me!

The next thing I’d like to show you is my new tea cosy. I was given a gorgeous new teapot for Christmas from my Mum & Dad. Black and white stripes with a red lid. Now, I do believe that a teapot needs a cosy, and my existing one is now quite a few years old, and being made of felt (albeit washable), it is now a bit tired and tatty. A new teapot is a good time to make a new tea cosy, n’est pas? IMG_0003

So I hauled out some black & white stripe fabric and thought it should have a splash of red too. I made one in my “More tea Vicar?” design – I sold a few of these last year and always wanted to make one of my own!

I now need to make a cafetiere cosy. Shall I make one to match, I wonder? (PS If you like these cosies and need one, you can get them in my Etsy shop or I have some for sale in the Norwich Gift Emporium. I am going to upload some new ones very soon – once I get the photos done! You can, of course, always commission me to make one for you – just let me know! Soon you will have a well-dressed teapot (or cafetiere) that will keep your cuppa hotta longa!

 

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A brilliant day in aid of the NICU

My son Jack was born by emergency c-section in 2009 and was cared for by the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Wow – what a mouthful…from hereon in, we’ll call it by its better-known abbrevation, “NICU”.

So grateful were we for its amazing care, which has meant that Jack has developed into a happy, healthy nearly-six-year-old boy, that it has become an annual event for us to hold a coffee & crafts morning to raise valuable funds to help them in their work. This year we held it on the 8th August.

So we have been making (me, bags & pouches; my mum, jewellery) and baking to get ready. I was, as usual, nervous that we: a) wouldn’t get enough people come, b) not have enough cake for those that did venture out and c) have a rainy day with everyone cramped indoors. However, after all day spent in the kitchen making cakes, I checked the forecast and could cease being anxious about the latter.

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Saturday arrived, bright and warm, and once we’d rushed around getting everything set up, our invited guests arrived. In their dozens! We probably had over 80 people, which is amazing. People bought bags, purses, jewellery, jam, books and clothes. Bargains were had by all. There was a raffle with prizes donated by friends and local businesses, which was really popular. But we were most humbled by the amount people donated just for coffee & cakes (although they were quite scrummy, even if I do say so myself!)IMG_6454 IMG_6453

On the day, with all the stalls & cakes taken into account, we raised just over £1000 – £1005 to be precise! And there is a bit more than £100 donated on the NICU Just Giving website in honour of our coffee morning. If you go on the site, you will see that our Jack is the baby in the cover photo!IMG_6452 IMG_6446

Once again, then, a massive THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who helped us be so successful, including our volunteer helpers on the day, friends and local businesses who donated goods and prizes, and of course you lovely people that came, ate cake, drank coffee and were totally amazing in your generosity.

The NICU were thrilled – Louise Cook the fundraising manager tweeted to say how pleased they were. Now looking forward to next year! Any suggestions for different things for me to make?!
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norfolk · Sewing

Lessons to learn

Over the past few weeks, I have done 3 different events. The first was the Norwich Lanes Fayre, which I wrote about last time. Despite the early rain, the day was quite successful. This put me in a positive frame of mind for the next 2 events.

Sadly, they were a washout – without a drop of rain in sight, so a metaphorical washout rather than an actual one! I think a case of right weather, right products and the wrong crowd! A real shame but on the plus side I did get to sit and spend “quality time” (hate that phrase!) with my lovely Mum, so not all bad! Despite her only living about 20 minutes away, we don’t see a lot of each other as both have busy lives.

So, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Lanes Fayre is a go, but that school things and fun days are not. We will do Christmas ones but that’s about it. I need to concentrate now on the online shop and the bricks & mortar one in town. I am also looking forward to having my stall at my upcoming NICU fundraising coffee morning (back by popular demand!) So anyone wanting to make some early Christmas purchases (sorry for mentioning the C-word!) can come along and browse. The cow print is proving to be popular and will be available in pencil case, purse and makeup pouch!

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Sewing

The Me-Made May 2015 challenge

‘I, Lucy from http://www.luckybearnorfolk.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear something I have made, refashioned or altered each day for the duration of May 2015’.

This is my pledge for the Me-Made May challenge. I hadn’t come across this before, and I happened on it by chance while browsing t’internet, and thought “why not?!” So, I am going to try to wear something I have made or altered each day during May.

The first problem is that the 1st of May falls this Friday, when I’m going on a camping weekend with friends. Out of the window goes the idea for wearing my flowery Ruby dress, or my pinstripe wool Skater Dress. Hmmm…the first few days might then be the opportunity for the self-made knickers, and of course my lovely Tilly pyjamas! I am also allowing my rules to cover accessories I have made, like brooches and scarves.

But it also offers the opportunity to make some more clothes (yippee!) – I don’t have enough things I have made myself to wear different outfits every day during May…yet! Yes, the challenge states that it does not condone or encourage panic-making. But it’ll be a good opportunity to get my patterns out and make some decisions (I have been good lately at dreaming and sketching, but have been making bags rather than clothes). I have two already, but feel I would benefit from another Coco dress! I love my helicopter one – any suggestions for the next fabric?

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It looks like a fun challenge. I won’t promise to post every day (you’d get bored), so will try to do a round-up every few days or so to let you know how it’s going. And if you see me in real life, you can ask me what I am wearing that day that I made. Although no, I will not show you my knickers!

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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.

Sewing

Some seriously selfish sewing…sweet!

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?