norfolk · Sewing

Happy New Year!

A very belated hello to everyone. I have really neglected this blog over the last few months, because of a new job and busy family life, not to mention the actual sewing itself! I am planning to restart a regular blog today, it being New Year and all, and hope to be able to keep you up to date with my sewing shenanigans.

I spent some precious hours before and during the Christmas holidays catching up on some of the orders I received beforehand. So I have been busy trying to make them all! These included laptop & iPad cosies, totes, pencil cases and cafetiere cosies. I also made some presents for my Mum and Dad for Christmas. As usual, I was there frantically trying to get them finished in the few days before Christmas! Nothing like a bit of last-minute panicking to focus the mind!

This year I have had a couple of things that were particularly popular. See photos! I had some black & white stripe fabric which was lovely but I felt was calling out for a splash of red – so I made little pouches & purses with a red felt heart applique. They sold pretty much straight away, so I will be making some more soon! Also ever-popular is the cute fox fabric. This has been requested as purses, pouches, bags and aprons this year! I am going to source more as it is well-loved. Who doesn’t love a cute little fox?

I am always happy to take orders! At the moment I am working on some things made with a map print for a couple of people.

I have also picked up crochet this year and have made 2 felted bowler hats and am in the middle of my first big project – Attic 24’s Cosy Stripe blanket. It is lovely and a good project for the winter months – the benefit being that it allows me to sit and catch up with TV while still creating! (Have worked my way through Seasons 1-5 of Mad Men so far!) The colours are gorgeous and it is a very satisfying and lovely thing to do! I will post photos another time of my hooking adventures!

So this is just a quick hello to everyone – please follow my blog if you can this year – I promise to try harder and do it more regularly!  Happy New Year to you all – hope your 2016 is filled with fun, friends, family and fulfillment. (And for me, I’d add – fabric!)

Uncategorized

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.

IMG_6450 IMG_6451

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?!
IMG_6445 IMG_6447

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!

IMG_0138

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?

IMG_5052

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!

Uncategorized

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?!

IMG_5979IMG_5980 IMG_5977IMG_5978

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.

IMG_5984 IMG_5982 IMG_5983 IMG_5985

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?

norfolk · Sewing

The wonderful Norwich Lanes

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.

IMG_5959IMG_5945IMG_5965IMG_5943

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!

IMG_5942IMG_5941 IMG_5940IMG_5937