Sewing events this year

So, I’ve made a decision. The Festival of Quilts is happening in early August as usual and I’ve decided to not go this year.   I really should be making a dent in the fabric I already have (I keep meaning to take some photos). Plus the fact that for several years I’ve found that several shows are not making best use of the space – the space between stands is very tight, whilst there is a load of dead space on the outside. I end up feeling very panicked, and I get frustrated at the “I’m going to randomly stop at this stall with no warning and no consideration for anyone behind me” attitude of a lot of people at these shows.  I did consider going to one of their social events but once again it’s at the Metropole beside the NEC, a hotel with shocking prices over their drinks – I’ve previously been charged £8 for a glass of average wine!

Charlotte over at EnglishGirlAtHome is having her 5th SewBrum late October and her sign up sheet has just gone up. I’ve decided to go to that instead. I did this last year, and I feel slightly more in control of my buying when I’m in a group.  I am forced to slow down to the pace of the group. We will be in the centre of Birmingham rather than at the NEC, and I found several sellers last year that I would have never even looked at, simply because other people stopped and looked.

It also allows for some semi-undercover stock photos to be taken – always a challenge to find suitable photos online, so always simpler to take your own!  Here are some of the fabrics that I picked up last year



And here are some of the images i took

Friday Salon: Craft Room wishlist versus reality



Any copyright belongs to infarrantycreative

Especially when I see how other people do it (normally the Americans, it has to be said), there are times that I would really like a separate room that I could label my “craft room”. Somewhere where I could have all my stash out, available to see and access quickly. Somewhere where my sewing machine and ironing board could be out at all times. A room with enough space and light for me to stitch or sew, draw or paint to my heart’s content. Somewhere to place my computer with access to the internet to allow me to get inspiration where I needed it, and post my thoughts to the world, perhaps designing my own corner of the world. A couple of shelves on which to store my crafting books and magazines.

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Friday Salon: Top 8 Must have “Crafting” supplies

Excluding Photography for some reason, here are the tools that I believe are essential in the crafting world!

1) SCISSORS! At least one pair, if not two. One pair for paper, one not. All the crafting stuff I do involves the cutting of “stuff” and you simply can’t do it with a Stanley knife.

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Sunday Salon: Reading on Sunny days and Rainy Days

The Sunday Salon badge
I have a certain level of guilt about being inside. I grew up in 1970s England to Irish parents. As soon as the weather was “decent” (i.e. “not dark, not raining”) it was certainly a case of “get outside and play”. There was certainly no problem with reading – in fact, I was able to read and write before I went to school and I can never remember not being able to read – but being outside was certainly encouraged, for the rarity in decent weather if nothing else.

Therefore as an adult, choosing to be inside when the sun is shining is certainly a great source of Catholic Guilt. If it’s sunny, you’re outside, it’s that simple. You may go outside to read, that’s ok. It might be sunny and bloody freezing when you stop for more than 2 seconds but that’s not the point

If it’s a rainy day, I generally stay inside and do stuff – most but not all of it reading. I might be doing the dreaded housework, or the ironing etc. Again the guilt factor will prevent me from spending ALL of the day reading (or sewing or watching TV…). I can hear the internal voice going “how can you sit there and read when you know the place needs a dust?!”. Most of the time I can ignore the voice, but sometimes I can’t!


So what about you, constant reader? Do you read more on a rainy day or abandon everything else on a gorgeous day so you can be outside?

Friday Salon: Hoop or no Hoop?

Cant remember what kicked off this post, but just a quick question – do you use a hoop when sewing? Frames? or do you sew with just the fabric?

Most of the time I use a hoop. This is to keep the fabric stretched so that I can get the same tension in my stitches, so there is no bunching etc. I have quite a few hoops, and which one I use depends on not only the size of the fabric, but whether I want to have both hands free to stitch – some of the hoops I have have extensions to them, which means I get to attach them to a table, or slop the extension under my arm.

I dont use hoops for hand quilting – yet. I’m not at that stage of my quilting to need tension in doing the acthoops embrioderyual quilting.  When I have done some hand sewing of fabric, I have liked the fact that I can get a rhythmn going with the little stitches which can be quite soothing in a way. I have yet to do basting of multiple layers but suspect that I will need to use a frame then, if only to keep the multiple pieces of fabric together.

I used to have a floor based frame, but rarely used it, and dont use it now – it was slipped under the bed a few years ago, and I dont even know if it has all the parts yet. They do take up an awful lot of space and I’m not sewing enough to have one permenantly rigged up in my living space.

So what about yourselves? When, if ever, do you use one?

Friday Salon: How do you rate your sewing techinque?

Like so many sewists, I have a perennial inferiority complex about my sewing. Part of this is based in well-founded fact. When I first returned to sewing a dozen years ago, I was very rusty in my skills and it took a while working with my hands to awaken the memory of lost techniques. But there wasn’t a whole lot to awaken. I had developed only the basics of sewing knowledge in my early years, and most of my work was driven by the passion to make.

Above is a quote from the Sew Daily article How Do You Rate Your Sewing Technique?

If I am honest, my sewing technique is very rusty mainly because I simply don’t make use of the skills I have or learn new ones. I was taught several stitches whilst at school, along with knitting etc (my mother will admit that her sewing skills are not top of the list of things she taught my sister and me, though she will insist that it was she, and not “the nuns” that taught me knitting).sewing with needle

The only sewing stitch that I’ve brought with me into adult life is the cross stitch. Two tiny little stitches made into a cross to make up a pattern.

The other stitch I seem to be reasonable with is backstitch. This is used to a reasonable extent within cross stitch in order to outline various figures. I have recently been doing some hand stitching to play around with some quilt strips and have realised that I can get quite a nice rhythm up and the stitches can be quite small. In effect, it’s only making use of the backstitch, but without the use of the aida forcing the size of the stitch. I can’t stitch in a straight line and always need a guiding line on the wrong side to help keep me in line!

So I’m good at the few stitches that I know and enjoy, but am poor at all the others. I will never win awards with my sewing.

What about you and your stitching?

Friday Salon: Modern, Vintage or retro?

When it comes to what you make, do you go modern, vintage or retro?

Most of the work I do is cross stitch, and whilst the designers are current, much of what I stitch could be classed as “vintage” or “timeless”. Many of the items I do are samplers, so – for instance – the Catherine Archer sampler by Jane Greenoff, which takes a 19th-century original sampler as inspiration.needle_thread_needles

Many of the other samplers I do, such as those designed by My Big Toe are traditional rather than modern.

I don’t make other items, such as dresses etc, so I have nothing that falls into these categories!

I sometimes see the dresses in Monsoon for the young girls – all satin and tulle for the princesses, and whilst I would love to be able to make one (I catch myself going “I’m sure I can make it for less than £65, oh wait, not I can’t cos I can’t make dresses!”).

What style do you prefer making?

Friday Salon: Reusing Threads

When you have to frog out stitches, do you reuse that thread or do you start over with a new strand?

It really depends on how the frogged thread looks.

Krenick – never. I had to pull a load out on several projects and it looked vile when being stitched and 100% worse when coming back out.

If the thread is still relatively neat and tidy – say I’ve stitched in a virgin area and simply been off a few squares – then it gets used again. Quite often however, the thread is short, mangled and coming apart – so it doesnt get used again – perhaps something I should do something about!

So what about you and your threads?


Friday Salon: Rememberence of Sewing Machines


I have one sewing machine – an electric Singer 5805 that I brought in Dublin, Ireland either in late 1990s, or early 2000s. I remember it cost me approx IR£200 (so it must have been pre Euro times), and from a sewing machine shop on the Drumcondra road near where I lived at the time.

I’ve had mixed feelings about sewing machines, ever since I was a child. I did learn to make a skirt in middle school on an electric (hated the whole experience) and if memory serves me right there was also a hand-crank. So to buy one as an adult….let’s say I was a little sceptical as to how much use I would make of it. The primary reason I brought it was that I realised that my hand sewing of items such as cushions, sachets etc, wasnt strong enough and I needed something better to make these seams last, so a sewing machine it was.

The sewing machine came with me when I returned to the UK, and has made the occasional foray into the light. I dont have enough space to have it out permanently and is so confined to a storage cupboard as and until I believe I need it, which isnt that often. I still have to refer to the instruction manual to remember how to load a bobbin, and do the correct threading.

I know I dont make best use of it, and the lack of space to keep it out means it’s very much a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. However, if it were out on a table somewhere, there’s always the risk that it would only get dusty and dirty though lack of use. I really need to redesign the set up in my back room to see if I can make any better use of what’s there.

I’ve cast envious eyes over the treddle and hand cranked Black and Gold Singers over the last few years especially when they come up on ebay. However, knowing that I’d never give it the use it would deserve, and like the other it would spend most of its time in a cupboard, I’ve never brought one.

So, what is your relationship with your sewing machine? What one do you have and where did you get it? 

Friday Salon: Sewing Room

I’ve long been jealous of people who have the space to allow for a separate sewing or craft room, with a desk large enough to have a sewing machine out, on display and ready for use; space to stack fabrics, accessories, notions, needles, threads etc.

needle thread needlesI’ve never had such a room unfortunately and dont think I ever will. Instead, the sewing machine is tidied away into a cupboard; fabric and patterns are in big plastic crates in the top of the wardrobe, wool is in a cardboard box in the same wardrobe, WIPs in a crate hidden down the side of the chair I sit in.

Most of my sewing, which is done usually by hand, in a single large chair, with a overhead lamp that can sit over my shoulder as necessary.  This is absolutely fine for the stitching that I’m doing at the moment (read: not much) but I would love not only the space to have my wn stitching room, but also the time to make use of it

What about you? Do you have a craft/stitch room, would you like one and how much use would you make of it?