luckybear · norfolk · Sewing

Slow stitching

img_0245Welcome to my new followers! I’ve had several notifications lately that I have new ones, so thought I’d better step up and write something for you all as I have neglected this blog this year – life has been so busy! It’s also easier and quicker to whack stuff on Instagram! I love the instant nature of it all. It’s very visual (I have learned in recent years that I am a very visual learner!) And there are fewer words to have to think about! Follow me if you aren’t already!

So, what’s been going on sewing-wise? I wanted to tell you about a great workshop I did in the spring with textile artist Ingrid Duffy. I went on one of her workshops last year and absolutely loved it so wanted to do another. This workshop was called the 30 Day Project and is to encourage daily creative practice to stimulate creativity and also foster mindfulness on a daily basis. I also wanted a more portable sewing project that I could: A) take to my monthly craft group and B) do in front of Netflix! This was perfect and I have met some lovely fellow creatives that totally ‘get’ my need for a sewing fix!

We spent the day at Ingrid’s beautiful home on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. She can see the River Waveney from her studio, which forms the county boundary. It’s an inspiring landscape and a lovely place to work. I met some great people, including someone I’d met 15 years ago when I was doing my PGCE but not seen since – small world! We had an introduction to some hand-sewing stitches and worked on a sampler, and had access to a range of great books and the choice of a wonderful array of glorious threads and yarns.

As part of the package, Ingrid gave us all a box with all the materials we needed for the month’s project – 30 linen squares and 30 wool squares (for backing). Within about a day of starting, I was hooked. I usually do only machine sewing, so slow stitching has been really good for me and I have loved it. It’s very therapeutic and stimulating at the same time!

My chosen theme was Norfolk, and each day I stitched a square to depict something to do with Norwich (where I live) or Norfolk. I began by making a list of things I wanted to include (Norwich Castle, Colman’s mustard, etc.) but then got more enjoyment out of being a bit more spontaneous and just going for things that came to me each day. I have explored different stitches, techniques and embellishements and have loved the process. It’s really fun to write with a needle and thread, although you have to think about it! It made me empathise more with my primary pupils who are learning to join their writng! Posting to Instagram each day was exciting and rewarding, with lots of great feedback and followers (hello, you!), as well as me discovering loads of other great people and their work!

So, when it came to an end, I was really sad! I then decided to carry on with a new project – the next time it was just a journal of things I do, see, eat, etc. each day. I found time every day to devote to it (Ingrid suggests at least 15 minutes but it usually ends up as more because it’s so engaging!) I then progressed to making some stiched cards, which have been popular at craft fairs! I am thinking of what to do next, slow stitch-wise!

Do you have a daily creative routine? Would love to see what you are up to if you have new projects on the go! And if you’re interested in what I’m stitching, please follow me on Instagram!

luckybear · norfolk · Sewing

Down to Business!

I’m planning action! I’d like to step up my game, increase my output and make more sales. I’ve already planned in a few craft fairs/events this year and have others on the back burner (watch this space), and want to try to reach a wider audience.

A full-time teaching job means that time is limited for making and selling. But I love it, especially the making part! It’s my switch-off from schoolwork and lets me indulge in my creative side. Plus it gives me an excuse to buy yummy fabrics! And I get a real kick out of each and every sale, either in my Etsy shop or face-to-face. Some of you reading this are already loyal customers! So thank you to every one of you who has bought a luckybear item so far, because I love it when you choose to buy something of mine. I always hope that you will love it as much as I do!

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So I am determined to make more time to sew and sell. One thing I have decided to do is to take part in the Make May My Month Challenge – #makemaymymonth – , run by a fellow Etsy seller (Jade Hargreaves of  The Pattern Parade Design). It’s a month of challenges to refocus you on the business and I hope it will enable me to get some things sorted. This looks like it will be great collaborative support and networking. It’s good to share the love!

I am also planning some exciting special offers and giveaways, so follow me on twitter, facebook and instagram and I’ll keep you posted!

Fingers crossed that May will be a productive month! If you’d like to check out what I have in stock right now, have a look at my Etsy shop. I will add new items regularly. Have a great bank holiday weekend, everyone!

 

Sewing

Lottie Coat

This time of Twixtmas, the no-man’s land betwixt the Christmas and New Year festivities, has been a very productive one chez Baker. So lovely to have some sewing time to myself while the males of the house entertain themselves with Netflix and their Christmas pressies (not to mention the building of yet another guitar…), so I have had fun (and of course a bit of muttering under the breath) making stuff.

Yesterday I cut a batch of pouches to make. I sold lots of them before Christmas so need to replenish my stock. I made 10 yesterday, whilst listening to my new David Bowie greatest hits CD that Santa brought for me!  As you know, I love making pouches and they went well, so I need to get stocks going again as once back at school, there isn’t so much time for sewing!

But today I made something for myself. A coat! Very pleased with it. It’s just a simple, unlined shell coat with pockets in the seamlines and three-quarter length sleeves “for a nod to 60s design” as the pattern says! The pattern was a free pdf download from Issue 33 of Love Sewing magazine.

Now, although a printed pattern is usually my choice, especially indie ones as the packaging and production is always lovely, I do now and then love a pdf. I find the printing, cutting and piecing together of the sheets of paper very satisfying, and of course the resulting pattern pieces that you cut from it are very sturdy – great if you are using a tricky, oft-shifting fabric, or if you want to make multiple copies of the same garment.

I ordered the fabric for this several weeks ago from Abakhan (my first ever purchase from them, it was very reasonable and I love it!) and it’s been sitting in my cupboard waiting until I had a clear day. I washed this first on a cold wool wash in the machine, just in case of any shrinkage. My overlocker was indispensable as this is a fairly loose-weave wool blend and frayed like a bugger. The pattern instructions were really clear, although definitely not for beginners. It was fairly straightforward to make (very proud of myself for doing these pockets!) but the facings were what made me a bit puzzled. But I worked it out in the end! Once made up, all that was left to do was the buttonhole – easy peasy on cottons but a total nightmare on layers of this thick wool fabric. Hence the swearing (I said muttering before but it was a little stronger than that!) Finally I realised it just wasn’t going to work and I had to improvise – it’s not perfect but you can’t see it!

So, am very proud of myself. First coat and with pockets and everything! Am now thinking I need a new selection of Jackie O-inspired shift dresses…

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

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!

 

Sewing

Things for me! (Part 1)

I’ve had a lovely weekend of spending time with my family and friends, and making things too! With only a couple of days to go before the term begins again in earnest, I felt like I needed to make some more stuff! I’m going to show you the first now.

Before Christmas, I threw my three-year-old lunchbag away, tattered and torn, with a broken zip and peeling, frayed edges, in the hope that it would force me to make another one before I went back to work in January. Guess what? I forgot about it until yesterday!

So I thought it would be the perfect project for my lovely fabric from my Secret Santa. I’m in a Craft club that meets monthly and we decided this year to exchange crafty Secret Santa gifts at our Christmas ‘do’. I was delighted with mine (you can’t go wrong for me with anything sewing-related, and fabric, well….!) I received a sweet bundle of cute fabrics, all tied with a piece of lovely chunky yarn. Delish!

I was under strict instructions to use it to make something for myself, rather than other people! So here is the finished item. I wanted something much bigger than my old one, and open at the top rather than zipped, so that I could carry leftovers in various-sized plastic tubs, my coffee flask, etc. I am really pleased with the result and can’t wait to use it tomorrow! I often take cutlery and have just been throwing it into my bag, so I also made a little cutlery pouch out of the lining fabric. I had some cute fox ribbon in my stash (from Material Magic), so added that to some polka dot handles.

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Thank you Secret Santa, for my lovely fabric! Hope you like what I’ve done with it! 🙂

Happy back-to-work day to you all for tomorrow. I’ll post the next thing I made for myself next time!

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!)

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

Me Made May Update (a bit late!)

My “Me Made May” so far –

Wow! Half way through May already! Have been rather poor at documenting the challenge, and actually within the first few days it became very evident that I have massive gaps in my handmade wardrobe! Well, I’ve only been making clothes since the summer, so I am still learning! Have also had to make lots of bags and things to restock both the Etsy shop and the Norwich one! But here’s the story so far…

The first few days of the Me Made May challenge saw me camping. A bit of a challenge for wearing things I’ve made, because I’ve mostly made dresses and skirts (not great for pitching the tent!)

But I did my best!  May 1st, I had an informal interview for some supply work. I wore my red spotty Coco, which I love. Then we went off to Lincolnshire for camping. I wore my hand-knitted Noro yarn cardigan – turns out I needed lots of fleeces as well! What a cold night that was – took about an hour to get warm inside the sleeping bag, then had to get up in the middle of the night to visit the loo. When I came back, I saw that there was ice on the tent! Brrrrr!

May 2nd – again, cold, so needed to layer up, but I wore the pistachio knickers I made on my knicker-making workshop. No photos here, guys!

May 3rd – Raining. And when I say rain, I mean something more akin to the deluge that Noah might have experienced! Not in a great mood to start the day because we discovered that our tent had tiny gaps in the seams that didn’t quite hold up to 8 hours of solid rain! Wet towels, jeans and sleeping bags, plus the inability to use the gas stove and make a morning cup of tea means a grumpy Lucy! But it cleared up into a beautiful day and we had a great time with our friends in Lincoln at the castle.

May 4th – our last day. I cheated a bit by counting my handbag as my made item (I did make it – and I did say that my pledge was for clothes and accessories!)

May 5th – I wore my red spotty Coco. Did I mention that I love, love, love Coco? I have two and they are the constant staples in my wardrobe! This challenge has shown me that I get them out to wear a lot, so maybe I need another?! I have seen some stripey jersey that I really like, but am a bit scared of matching stripes…eek!

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May 6th – The Other Coco – my helicopter one. Every time I wear it, I get compliments about it, and today was no different. I feel really chuffed when people like things I’ve made myself! It’s still tights and boots weather here, so am making the most of it and layering it up with a cardi too.IMG_5052

May 7th – Today I wore my Skater Dress in navy pinstripe wool. This is a Simple Sew pattern that I wished I’d done a toile for, as the waist is a couple of inches too high for my liking. However, I wore it with a wide elasticated belt to hide that, and it is ok. If I make it again (as with my Ruby – by the same pattern company), I will extend the waistline down a bit if I can figure out how to do it!

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May 8th – Went quite casual today in my Delphine skirt from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Warnes. Someone I know commented that this looked like a White Stuff skirt they’d seen (compliment!) – again, coloured tights & boots.The back

May 9th – Helicopter Coco again!

May 10th – No garments today, but wore a brooch I’d made (felt flower).IMG_6098

May 11th – Ladybird Coco. It’s good for teaching as you can just chuck it on and it’s smart-ish, but also comfy enough to get down with the kids (so to speak!) Didn’t wear it for long before I had to change into my PE kit!

May 12th – Again, no actual clothes but wore a wooden brooch that I made from a Mollie Makes kit. Went for a lovely afternoon tea with a friend.IMG_6103IMG_6106IMG_6100

May 13th – Helicopter Coco again! Am realising I need to make at least 2 or 3 more Cocos! They really are my go-to thing!

May 14th – Me-Made handbag, as I couldn’t wear Coco AGAIN. It’s getting ridiculous, and my other clothes are getting jealous!

May 15th – Maroon pants!

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May 16th – Pistachio pants!

May 17th – Margot pyjamas from Love at First Stitch.IMG_5814

So, that’s the end of the halfway-through update! Am already noticing that I need to make lots more clothes! Brilliant! Bring it on! Have chosen and cut the pattern for a new dress that I am about to make – maybe in time to wear it during this challenge! Also see the need for a jersey cardi or two! Plus some more pjs, and some dresses that aren’t Coco!