Liberty, birds and a whole lot of sewing…

Hello lovely folk of the aesthetically beautiful tastes! It’s been AGES – sorry about that. I’ve been a bit overcommitted of late. And I’m going to try for a short post today (! yeah… good luck with that, delusional self) and just show you this:

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Liberty scraps and natural linen zippered pouch, measures 6” x 4”. Actually it’s a linen cotton mix, but it’s darned near perfect, nice fine weave and a good weight.

I freemotion embroidered the branch and raw edge appliqued on the hummingbird with black thread, and actually really like the result, yay! It’s supposed to be a hummingbird, at least I copied the silhouette from a photo of a hummingbird, so let’s go with that even if my needle-drawing isn’t going to satisfy any twitchers on here… I’m hoping it will hold with just one stitching line – it’s so delicate that 2 lines would overpower the image I thought. I used steam-a-seam II to secure the applique first which is as much as I think I can do – so much stronger than wonder-under.

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A pretty polka dot lining – I got this from my local fabric shop and adore it! It’s a sage green, not as khaki as it looks on my computer… and at half the price of designer cotton, I love it even more. I always include a layer of batting for strength and structure too.

I made it for a craft fair – I know I say I never do them except for the annual village fair, but made an exception this year because it is in aid of a tiny rural village school where my son went to nursery when he was too freaked out to settle in our own bigger village nursery. I have talked before about what they meant to us as a family https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude , and have committed to continuing to support them. So it’s been sewing chaos in the last 2 weeks (yes, I started late…).

Oh go on then, I’ve already failed at keeping this short!

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Some toiletry bags – large and small. The large are big enough to hold all my daily cosmetics, creams, deoderant, nail varnish, hair bands, eyelash curlers (I used to use them every day before becoming a mother… now they mostly sit there in a pretty washbag!) etc, the small are travel sized, or perfect for children.

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Pencilcase style bag organisers for lippy/ keys/ whatever – or just as pencilcases! This designs are more kid pencilcases, hold on I’ll see if I can find a more grown up picture:

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Very grown up! There are matching zip purses too amongst this lot:

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….er, actually there are not. But there will be. Probably.

And whilst we are doing a wee bit of the free-motion embroidery:

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The ubiquitous caravan and bunting cushion. Yes I know everyone in the world with a sewing machine who wants to try this technique starts with this scene – but hey, why not? It’s fun, cute and nice simple shapes. I made 3 in a different colours and a VW campervan too. I mostly used scraps except for that polka dot fabric again – see the pink too? Isn’t it lovely? Scrap busting is satisfying but man it takes TIME. Finding the right size, matching colours, ironing the wrinkles out because you have stored them badly… I really need to find a way of using scraps more efficiently because I’m bad at it. And you can imagine I make a lot of scrap…!

Well, I had no business writing to you, as I still have so much to do and so little time before Saturday and the Market! Still it’s nice to share some sewing goodness with like-minded folk. Hope your creative muse is inspiring you too – pre christmas sewing/ crafting/ browsing/ buying? Enjoy whatever you’re doing.

’till the next time, Poppy xx

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Paint by Numbers… and more random sewing

Well, this is an utterly misleading title. It actually refers to this beautiful print by Erin Michael called Paint by Numbers sky from her Lush Uptown fabric collection for Moda.

I think it’s stunning – modern, funky, just the right blue with a hint of green, fresh colours and a fun twist. This is a large size cosmetics/ washbag, and has been snapped up already by a neighbour of mine! i can’t say I blame her. I made a flat zippered pouch as a “set” , for maybe keeping lippy, mobile phone, keys etc orgnaised in your handbag – and then snaffled it myself to hold my hexagons sewing (oh yeah… this 1” hexie quilt will keep me going for a while. I think I’ll need a bigger pouch). I’m actually thinking of making a bag with this print.

Speaking of neighbours and friends having cleaned out all my stock – oh we weren’t? Well they have, bless them, very complimentary they were too, which is always an ego boost. I had made more toiletry/washbags; it’s rather amazing that they are so popular.

I say amazing, but I too find all sorts of uses for a pretty zippered pouch, so I shouldn’t be surprised, and it’s nicer than a tupperware box holding your stuff.

The Alexander Henry Spotted Owls in Smoke is a particular favourite fabric of mine. The owls are so grumpy! And yet so beautiful at the same time. It’s a really special print. I have made 5 of these so far, and each time they are snapped up (or I’ve gifted and they’ve been very well received).

As for the Harris tweeed which entered my life along with, inexplicably, a wee crush on Aragorn, I have made more toilletry bags (very similar to on previous post) as a couple of commissions from neighbours. And a lovely tea cosy. 

Tea cosy… well I see it’s inherent beauty, but I’m a bit meh.

But a cafetiere cosy… well. much more suited to modern times – and I rather like this classic fabric being used for such a modern phenomenon. Well, modern in Britain anyway. When I was little (not THAT long ago!), it was quite acceptable for folk to only have Nescafe instant in their house, and be oblivious there might be another way. I know… and within spitting distance of our French, Spanish and Italian cousins too. Shameful.

It took my husband a minute to work out why the cafetiere cosy was so tall; it fits a standard 8 cup cafetiere just perfectly – with the plunger UP to let the coffee brew. And now my husband is an official FAN. He is quite into his coffee…As for me – what I really need is a mug cosy to keep my cups of tea warm enough to let me finish one… I’m too distractable to sit in the same place for the length of time it takes a cuppa to go cold!

In fact I had enough stock for a little pop up shop over a cup of tea with my neighbour and some friends. It has been quite fun! And allowed me to replenish some fabrics. I really am a loon. I have no idea why I feel the need to sew quite so much!

And judging from my fellow sewing bloggers, I’m not the only one!

Seriously? Why would I sew up so many zippered coin purses? I really must start listing them for sale!

Well, I have commission stockings still to make and a quilt, so I should go. And that’s before christmas presents, which may or may nont be handmade this year, it’s a close run thing. But I did just get this rare print panel for my 4 year old son who adores maps and knowing where things are – he’s so his father’s son! (I am only getting better to answer all his questions.)  I’m going to make it into a wall hanging for his room. It is a rather fabulous print! It’s the world map panel from “what a world” by Jill Macdonald for P+B textiles, measuring 44” x 24”. I’m quite thrilled to have tracked it down!

Till the next time,

poppy xxx

Kindle Cases – waterbottles do your worst!

I’ve been doing more sewing for friends, despite my craving to sew up some quilts again! I have a few more comissions to finish and then I am going to quilt to my heart’s content! But first, this is a water-resistant Kindle Case my dear friend asked me to make for his friend.

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He chose Geranium in Sky by MoMo for Moda as the fabric, having seen it featured heavily on this blog! It is so rare now and out of print, but was a real find for me – and has been incredibly useful, not to mention popular!

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I designed these really for the standard kindle e-reader, but will fit others except Kindles 2, 3 and Fires. Mainly because I have a standard kindle myself, seen posing above – useful to test the fit! Thankfully that’s what most others seem to have. I have also designed a Google Nexus 7 case – because we have one. No prizes for guessing why I haven’t yet made an iPad case… sadly…!

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I lined this case with a felted black wool and interfaced with light padding to protect against scratches. I sewed in some waterproof fabric as an interlining. And a little label telling her who it’s from (care instructions on the back), and I’m ready to post it to her 🙂

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The waterproofing is my favourite bit about my own kindle case, and the main reason I made mine in the first place. I LOVE my kindle. I like the way it feels, the way it reads. OK, so it doesn’t smell of book, and won’t replace books – I have regretted getting a few reference books on kindle that really are meant for idly thumbing through with a coffee and belong on a shelf. But it’s perfect (and instant) for novels.

Anyway. I don’t really want mine covered in a cumbersome book cover thing which makes it heavy and bulky, it’s perfect and neat to read as it is. I don’t really want the extra weight of a leather-bound beautiful cover with built in light in my handbag. But I do want it not to get scratched and mostly NOT TO GET WET. And OMG, there are so many things in my bag which could burst or goo over my kindle – water bottle/cup, blowing bubbles. weird toys, food. And in my imaginary dream life, I don’t want it getting splashed by the pool when I dive effortlessly in looking thin and aspirational whilst relaxing in a sunny land. Anyway, so I made mine, and love it. So I made some more 🙂

This is mine:

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It’s in Ginseng Orchid in Celery by Joel Dewberry, a home dec fabric I ordered from the states years ago because I adore it (and still do) but have really not used it much. It is so beautiful in the flesh, but although it’s a gorgeous shade of green (and I’m not a big “green” fan), I realised I didn’t want a bag in it (it’s green – it doesn’t go with anything I wear!), the pattern is just a bit big for a purse… But it’s lovely on my kindle case. My case is slightly slimmer than my updated pattern because I didn’t need to factor in any extra room for the other kindle versions. I probably prefer it when they are side by side, but you wouldn’t know the difference if you didn’t see them together, and it’s always good to have wiggle room. Particularly if you really have to wash it – even at a cool 30 degree wash it might shrink a little. Better to handwash or spot-wash…

I have a few left over from the fair which I might list for sale. They are slightly “softer” in that the interfacing is less heavy than the ones above, but they are padded with cotton batting, interlined with waterproof fabric and lined with a soft jersey fabric, so should keep kindles nice and safe from everyday scratches! Here’s one I made earlier, as they say:

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Isn’t it sweet? I love that woodpecker amongst those beautiful birch trees (Michael Miller). There is one on the back too.

Well, it’s past bedtime (isn’t it always?!), so I’ll say night night and see you next time.

Poppy xx

ps you can email me at poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk

or visit my flickrstream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/

Craft Fair and other stories

oh my, am i going to have to get better at blogging regularly! It has been 20 days since my last confession, I mean blog post. And the sewing machine’s been firing, there have been babies to make for, and commissions from the craft fair have already started 🙂 Too busy sewing to talk apparently… now there’s a first 😉

So the Craft Fair was so much fun! It was in the gardens of beautiful Winton House; I borrowed tables from one of my neighbours and a gazebo from another, inclement weather being a notable feature of Scottish villages… And hijacked my 3 year old’s blackboard too, for which I had to bribe him with chocolate stars. They learn fast these days.

here goes first picture:

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That’s me and my friend Ana, who was helping me all day… we are well wrapped as though it didn’t rain (just) it was FREEZING! we both had 2 pairs socks, legwarmers, a gazillion jumpers and thick downy coats – we both look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man… but that’s the first tip – dress for the weather, as you are just standing around all day! Though not glamourous admittedly…

And that carefully written blackboard was turned into a “monster going through a bush” pretty fast on reentering the house!

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That’s a bit of a closer view. Although I didn’t have any bunting for sale, it was nice to have my own banner, and I think helped draw folk in. I can’t believe I’ve done so many little bunting names for children and my sis-in-law’s business, and this is the first time I made some for myself! I know bunting is everywhere now, but it is so pretty.

Sales-wise I was thrilled. I priced my items pretty low, not enough to make a living wage from time-wise, but enough to cover costs and a bit more to add to the “feeding fabric addiction” pot. The dull and very cold weather reduced numbers, but there was still a reasonable turnout – helped by the activities for children – bouncy castle, dancing displays, face painting by the amazing Shirley of Pink Tiger Face Painting – I don’t think Ana’s daughter ever wanted to wash her face again! It could have gone either way, noone interested in the craft stalls, but actually I think the “day out” feel helped draw in the crowd, despite the weather! In itself I don’t think a craft fair outside, in April, in Scotland would be enough to pull you from your sofa…

Everything sold quite well, I sold about half of what I had. As expected people did tend to go for smaller items especially ones which would be good as a gift (like the washbags) or purses, so I had had fun making those, rather than my main love which is quilts.

Actually, the quilts got a lot of interest, which I was surprised at. Although I do suspect people thought they would cost more than I was selling them for, again because I wasn’t charging living wage for my time, I just needed some pocket money for fabric. I’m sure the low pricing strategy helped with number of sales, although is it better to sell 3 things for £4 each or 2 things for £6 each? I think that’s a decision each stall holder has to make!

So for anyone contemplating a craft fair… in Scotland… outside… in April… what are you crazy?? Anyway here’s what I learned about surviving the day:

1. Be organised! this blog post really helped me work out what I needed:

http://handmadejane.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/craft-fair-tips.html

2. Dress for the weather!

3. Bring tea/ coffee in flasks and a packed lunch and snacks. I had a constant stream of customers and never made it away from the stall. I had to grab bites of sandwich in between customers! We took tea over to the face painter who kept going all day. Although I think the organisers intended to bring refreshments over, it never happened, everyone was just too busy.

4. I made a simple list of all my items, just using a “Word” table, and Ana and I ticked them off as we sold them. This kept us straight even though 2 of us were serving customers at the same time. I did have a receipt book as suggested by craftyjane, but didn’t need it.

4. A Float. I struggled a bit with this. I chose a £50 float with £30 in coins, 2x £5 and £10. We were just about OK with that. but next time I would take more £10 notes. It clearly depends on what you are selling and for how much, but almost everything we had was under £10, and lots of folk had come with a £20. I kept prices to either a whole number of pounds or ending in 50p so that it would be easier to do the maths. That was definitely a good idea, especially when there was a rush on!

5. Smile and say hi – when we did, people who were hovering suddenly came closer, smiled and started looking. But I think people were less likely to approach if we were talking amongst ourselves, I guess noone likes to feel they are intruding even if it’s a shop! I hate hard sells, so didn’t start talking whilst folk were browsing, I tried to emanate a comfortable companiable silence 😉 and waited until they were interested or started talking to me themselves. We had lots of lovely chatty people which was great!

6. Have a demonstration of things which people don’t know about. The travel chalkboards all sold, mainly because I had one out, and asked children to leave us a little picture, even if the parents didn’t buy anything. Once people saw them in action, and kids wanted to add their own art, it generated a lot of interest!

7. Try and have an interesting colourful display. The colours drew folk to our stall (or so they said!) Once there, most people bought something small. I had baskets and tried to vary the height a bit. My neighbour lent me a white wire tree from which I hung all the pendants – it did look pretty!

8. Put a price tag on everything. Everything. Once People pick something up, they might not want to engage in conversation, so it’s good if they can see the prices straightaway. It was nice to see folk looking at the tag of a purse, then picking up a couple of purses to buy and looking harder at some of the other items on display. I got luggage label tags and my 3 year old and I stamped a design on them – they looked quite nice I thought! I wrote a description and care instructions on the back or the labels.

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8. Get some cheap paper bulk carrier bags from amazon. For about £4 I got 50 paper bags – only good for lightweight items, but that’s what I was selling!

9. My “business cards” went really well, especially as it got too cold for folk to browse. I popped one into each bag too. Sadly I am not really a business, just a blog (oh yeah, with 2 posts!) and a flickr stream, so i felt a bit sheepish that so many folk were taking a card. Still, hopefully soon I’ll have a gallery and some items for sale/ commission!

10. Above all be sure why you are going and ensure you fulfill that need. I wouldn’t have done this fair if it were in Edinburgh, even though only half an hour away, the return would not have been enough for the effort. This village fair was a community event I wanted to be part of. It was great that lots of folk I knew from the village could see my hobby and not many people knew I sewed, let alone for so long! The table fee was 10% of takings, which was fine for my profit margins and good in that I didn’t lose money if nothing sold – because you just don’t know what people will be looking for on the day. Some of the other stalls had gorgeous stuff which didn’t sell. It’s luck of the draw. So you don’t go to something like this village event to make a lot of money. I was hoping for £50, and did much better than than. I told myself not to be disappointed if I didn’t get that. Ana and I had fun because we were together, it would have been a different experience alone; not only is it physically easier with two people (a consideration for me personally for various reasons) but it is definitely more fun, and you encourage each other, even when it’s freezing! I am pretty sure that if I did this again, I’d make sure I took a buddy again!

11. Prepare to be very tired afterwards, so be nice to yourself! My husband and little son were amazing and hung out exploring the gardens and playing from 10.30 till 4pm. Neill put up and took down the gazebo and unloaded and reloaded the car with everything. By evening, we were both exhausted and so we spent some of my takings on a takeaway! And it was gooooooood. And I didn’t touch my sewing machine for 4 days – a record in this house! 😉

Well it’s time for bed. And back to dreaming about my real sewing loves – bags and quilts. And anything for my little boy! Meanwhile I’ll leave you with some pics of a U-Handbag pattern I tried recently for my neighbours daughter:

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will share pattern details next time. Till then night night xx

Poppy

p.s. you can contact me via poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk especially if you were at the craft fair!

or visit my flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/