Made By Mrs M

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New Spring 2016 Collection

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I'm really excited to finally be able to share my new collection for Spring, and here it is! New colour ways for Barbican (now available in yellow as well as blue) and Windows (in mint green - the existing yellow matches in with the new yellow designs), alongside a brand new design, London Town, which comes in pink and yellow.

All 4 designs are available now by the metre, fat quarter or on travel card wallets and notebooks...

Do pop over to my Etsy shop and Not on the High Street and take a look! Thank you for all the lovely comments and feedback I've received on the new collection so far.

Shop on Etsy

Shop at Not on the High Street

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Happy Christmas!

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And then it was Christmas! My last Post Office run was yesterday and it's time to tidy the studio before putting my feet up. Christmas Pattern low res

I'll be taking a break from the blog on Friday (if you want to read my ramblings on Christmas Day you're very welcome, and I'm grateful to you - there's plenty to read if you look back over the year - I'll be eating and drinking and opening presents though!).

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you very much for all your support for my blog and business this year. I hope you have a lovely Christmas! Don't forget that the sale continues in my Etsy shop...

Stay in touch. Join the mailing list.

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Fabric Printing

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A couple of weeks' ago I had a very exciting opportunity to visit my blog sponsor Print Me Pretty (see their ad in the sidebar), chat about what they do, and see some of my fabric being printed. DSC_9848

Print Me Pretty provide a digital fabric printing service and are based a short drive from me, in Dorking, Surrey. I'd previously tried out a few designs but was really keen to go and see them being produced.

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Here's a piece of my new Park Hill Bold fabric coming off the printer...

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It was like receiving the first ever piece of my fabric all over again (this was the first time I'd ever seen the printing process)! We looked at my other colour way of this design as well, along with colour options for my other designs to help them come out true.

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UK based folks will definitely want to check Print Me Pretty out - they're in the process of looking at expanding the range of fabric finishes they offer, but the print quality is just excellent and I'm really happy with their current fabric options.

You can visit their website here. Or read my earlier post about their fabrics.

 

This is a (sort of a) sponsored post - Print Me Pretty sponsor my blog, but I instigated the trip as I was so keen to take a look!

 

The Quilt on a Sunny Day...

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OK, I'll admit it - this post is simply 3 photos of my work in progress on the quilt... A few weeks ago when I was up in Lincolnshire we had a lovely sunny morning, and I'd reached a stage with the piecing where I thought it would be nice to get some photos, so here they are... DSC_9408

I'm really pleased with how it's looking. At the moment I'm trying to decide whether to fill in the corners (to turn it into a rectangle) or whether to continue as I am. Decisions decisions. A seasoned quilter suggested that I may need more colour in the corners rather than leaving it plain, but I like the idea of continuing with the solid cream pieces so the eye focusses on the pattern in the centre.

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I'm motoring through the 180 cream hexies I've bought so far from Simply Solids so I'll need to make a decision soon! I also need to decide whether to stick with cream for the backing or go for something a little brighter.

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I'm really enjoying working on this one, even if it has taken me the best part of 7 months to get to this stage (I've been busy, what can I say...). Maybe I'll manage to finish the piecing in time for my next birthday (so can ask for some nice Liberty print for the reverse as my present!).

You can see some earlier work in progress images here and here.

Felt Patchwork Table Mat Tutorial

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The lovely Laura Howard of Bugs and Fishes had a little clear out recently and I bought a small pile of felt from her. It's very lovely and lots of nice colours but I didn't have anything in mind to make with it (I know, I know - this is the beginning of the end, they won't find me being slowly eaten by dogs, they'll find me under a heap of fabric and ribbons...). Anyway, I had a think about my current hexagon obsession and patchwork and thought I'd try and combine these with felt to make a set of table mats. This was super quick and you could easily make some coasters to go with it, if you fancy. DSC_9581

To make the table mats you will need:

A few pieces of felt in your chosen colours

Black felt for the reverse

Paper pattern pieces (I use this site to create my hexagons - it's free!) - you can make the hexagons any size you like - mine are quite large at 5cm but you could just as easily make these with more, smaller hexagons.

Needle, thread and pins

Sewing machine (optional).

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Start by cutting your paper hexagon pieces as above (so 1 full hexagon, 1 half and 1 quarter). Then, to make 2 mats - cut 4 full hexagons in your main colour (I used red) and 2 in your second colour (lilac), 8 half hexagons in your third colour (beige) and 8 quarter hexagons in your second colour (lilac).

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Lay them all out to check the positioning, and measure the full layout before cutting 2 rectangles from your black felt to match (for the backing) - set these to one side.

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Then simply start stitching the pieces together. I started with the 3 hexagons then filled in with the half hexagons before finishing with the quarter pieces.

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Smooth the completed piece out and then pin to the black backing felt (I just held it in place with 2 pins to stop it moving).

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Then stitch all around on the machine (or by hand) with a 0.5cm allowance.

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And you've finished!

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I definitely think they would benefit from a set of matching coasters, or perhaps some larger mats for the centre of the table (or you could make a set of 6 or 8 rather than the 2 I made). You could also be more adventurous with the colours if you like or go monochrome!

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Now to think of some more ideas for the rest of my felt stash...

10 things...

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I love reading those posts where people share the tools/general day to day bits which that can't manage without (I'm nosey - oh and sometimes there's something really good which I suspect I need too...). So here are 10 things I use a lot, if not every day, to help me with my work. DSC_9560

1. Moleskin notebook - this is a large one in a lovely bright lilac.

2. Paint Pallet - my pallet from college. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. I also love the way it looks with 20 years of paint encrusted on it. (It's a bit like this one but actually from Daler Rowney.)

3. Quick unpick - again 20 years old. It goes without saying that if you sew, you need one of these (unless you're perfect of course).

4. My beloved Oxo tin/pin box with glass headed pins. My Grandad bought this for me in a junk shop in Lewes when I was about 8 years old. It's held my pins for about 25 years. The pins themselves are fairly new though and like these (I bought mine at the Knitting & Stitching Show).

5. My iPhone - it's a 6. I use it constantly. The case features my Bankside design in the pink colour way and I bought it from Mr Nutcase. (I reviewed their cases last year - there's a discount code you can use in this post, in case you fancy trying them out).

6. Pencil case - another one I've had for an age. I bought this Emma Bernhardt case in the V&A shop (I think) on a college trip to London in probably 1995. It currently contains a range of drawing pencils, rubber and pencil sharpener.

7. Pilot V7 pen in black. Used for writing and drawing.

8. Lilac Roberts Radio - a birthday present from Mr M many moons ago (possibly before I was Mrs M, I can't quite remember).  I use it to listen to Xfm while I work. (They don't seem to do the Lilac anymore but they still have a lovely range - mine isn't digital - how old fashioned!)

9. Paint brushes - these are fairly new, bought last autumn. They're ProArte PROLENE 101 and in sizes 4, 8 and 10. I also have some rather nice larger ones which I got for Christmas.

10. Acrylic paints - I've recently been dabbling with gouache (and have fallen completely in love with it) but I always fall back on acrylics. I've tried all sorts but always tend to go back to Winsor & Newton Galeria. These Liquitex Basics ones are pretty good too though (I got a large set of them for Christmas). My most used colour is white (which probably demonstrates a fundamental flaw in my painting skills, but hey) and I have a massive pot of it in my studio.

What things can't you work without?

Month in the Life - February

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It's that time again! February was a very good, and varied, month. Here are some of my highlights. piccal9

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My new fabrics arrived!

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I started to think about a new exhibition of my fabric designs which was confirmed for May.

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I had a go at calligraphy with Betty Etiquette at Liberty.

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I became temporarily addicted to needle felting.

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Took a stroll around the Barbican.

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Was acknowledged by a sloth (this might be a highlight of my year/life not just month!!).

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Saw some dramatic Lincolnshire skies.

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Launched my brand new mugs!

 

Designing a Wholesale Catalogue

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I created my first attempts at wholesale catalogues last year simply as a result of being asked for them. I put 3 of them together for Spring, Summer and Autumn and while they contained most of the required information they were pretty dire. I threw the first one together in a couple of hours in order to respond to an email.... Totally unprepared. Anyway, spending some time and designing a nice one was in the plan for the first couple of months of this year, and I finished it last week.

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I did my research this time. I'd worked out the the pricing thing last year but the presentation of the catalogue itself was just terrible.

I spent some time back in January googling wholesale catalogues and trying to find as many as I could which were relevant to small designer/makers. I then created the actual catalogue in Pages before turning it into a pdf. I also made a new wholesale section for this website to make the process simpler (and hopefully more professional!).

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If you're looking to put something similar together, here are the sections I created:

1. Front Cover

2. About Made By Mrs M (the brand)

3. About me (personally)

4. Where you have seen my work - so exhibitions, shops, press etc.

5. Information - split into the following: fabrics (where they're printed, what you can do with them etc.), minimum order requirements, shipping, payment terms, turnaround time, returns, how to place an order.

6. Pages for each product with lifestyle and cut out images.

7. A closer look at my fabric designs.

8. A photo montage - me, studio shot, stall shot...

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I then created a separate document for the prices as this gives me more flexibility with it (and the flexibility to use the catalogue part for more than one purpose).

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out. Do you have any tips or items you feel should be included in a wholesale catalogue?

If you're a retailer and are interested in taking a proper look at the catalogue, please contact me!

Recent Features

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Well, it's been an exciting few weeks! Following my first magazine feature back in December, I have more features to share. Back on 13 February I had a surprise (and sudden rush of orders!) when I was featured by Emerald Street (the daily email from Stylist Magazine). The image below is a cropped version of that day's email, you can read the full version here.

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My notebooks have been very popular and (along with some other items) sold out after this feature - they're back now...

Next, my blog gets a mention in this month's Homemaker Magazine (yes another mention in print!).

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I think they've made me look rather good! Issue 29 in shops now...

I also had a lovely feature on Blogtacular - which I'm really looking forward to attending in June.

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A couple of other mentions for the past month (or so) should be Beak up Crafts and Inky Collective who both ran lovely interviews with yours truly.

You can see more of my features, along with the rest of my news and events here.

A Departure (or further adventures at art class...)

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Our latest art class topic is silhouettes. Not as in the Victorian portraits, rather as the silhouetting of an object to make it jump forward - sounded a bit tricky so I decided to go completely out of my comfort zone and paint something I wouldn't usually touch with a barge pole - flowers. IMG_8818

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OK, not sure if a thistle is technically a flower. Here's the work in progress after week 2 (top) and week 1 (bottom). I calmed the background colours down a little in the second week but I'm still not sure about it. We're moving on to a different topic next time though so it's up to me to try and find some time to finish it. Anyway, not as much of a disaster as I thought it might be!

For those who are interested, here's the finished painting from my last post which I completed a few weeks ago. Includes fluorescent pink!

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Self portraits next - eeek!

 

The Barbican

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I worked next door to the Barbican in the City of London for most of the 15 years I spent at my old job. For the last 9 of them, I could see it from my desk. Now I've long been a fan of the place, but it's taken me over a year to no longer associate it with work and to be able to fully appreciate it. A couple of weeks ago, on a very chilly, grey day, I took myself and my camera up there for a proper look around. DSC_9188

After all those years, I still managed to take a couple of wrong turns and found myself at a dead end more than once. It was really really quiet for the most part (on a Thursday lunchtime when you'd expect lots of people out on their lunch breaks) and I haven't edited any of these images to remove people.

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For the uninitiated, the Barbican Centre was designed in the Brutalist style by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon and was built during the 1960's and 70's on a site which was extensively damaged by bombing in World War II. It's at the north western corner of the City of London and contains hundreds of flats (I've wanted one of these for a very long time - would've been particularly nice when working next door!), an art gallery, performing arts spaces, a cinema, restaurants and more.

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It was one of my preferred places to go to for a lunchtime or after work run (back in the days when I got a decent amount of exercise) - a lot of it is also undercover so ideal for a stroll on a wet day.

Anyway, I won't harp on about how much I love the place too much! Here are just some of the 100-ish photos I took...

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You can find out more about the Barbican Centre or plan a visit yourself on their website.

Twitter Art Exhibit - Moss

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This spring I will once again be taking part in the Twitter Art Exhibit, an international exhibition of postcard sized art. This year the exhibition is based in Moss, Norway and will be raising funds for Home-Start Moss, a non profit organisation which provides support to families in need. Postcard sized art works are sent from across the world for an exhibition to be held at Moss Library from 12-26 March. Here is my piece - "Red Sky in the Morning - Balfron Tower" - a sketch in gouache and pen and ink.

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Each piece in the exhibition will be sold for $35 USD and every penny goes to the charity. There's still (just about) time to send a piece yourself as the deadline for submissions is 1 March - you can find full details here.

 

 

 

 

In my Sketchbook - catch up!

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Before photographing my sketchbook for this I checked to see what I'd included in my last sketchbook post. I knew it'd been a while but July/August? Yes. I've completely fallen off the sketchbook keeping wagon again, despite doing so well for the first half of last year. Here's a little roundup of my latest daubings, including some preparatory sketches for art class, some drawings taken from Edward Bawden prints and experiments with my new set of inks. IMG_8620

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Purse Tutorial

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I will preface this tutorial with a note that my first attempt at making a purse with a clasp (a couple of years ago now) was a complete and utter disaster - I had issues with the glue (it was a very small and fiddly purse - excuses, excuses)... Anyway I approached this one with some trepidation, even though the clasp I found languishing in a corner of my studio (I was clearly planning to have another go at some point) was significantly larger than the last one, so supposedly easier to work with. DSC_8672

Fortunately I pulled it off this time - although the finished article isn't perfect and I could do with some practice (if I ever feel the inclination).

I chose to make my purse with my Streets in the Sky fabric on the outside and a nice bright contrasting Liberty print lining.

Here's how to make the purse - hopefully you'll find it nice and easy!

You will need:

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Bag/purse clasp (mine measured 12.6cm at the widest point)

Fabric for the outside measuring approximately 29cm x 20cm (or two pieces measuring 14.5cm x 20cm)

Lining fabric (same quantity)

Iron on interfacing (again, same quantity).

Sewing machine, needle and thread.

Fabric glue (not shown).

1. Place your clasp on a piece of paper and sketch out the shape you would like your purse to be (ensure that this shape is 1cm larger all around to allow for the seam allowance). I went for a tapered purse and my pattern measured 18.2cm along the bottom edge, tapering to 14.6cm at the top. It was 12.8cm deep.

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2. Cut out your pattern piece then cut two pieces from each of your outside fabric, lining fabric and interfacing. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the outer fabric.

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3. Pin the two outer pieces (right side together) along the bottom edge and just one pin's length up each side, then stitch.

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4. Trim the corners, then repeat for the lining fabric.

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5. Turn the outer fabric to the right side and press. Then place the outer fabric inside the lining (right sides together).

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5. Pin these together - allowing enough space on one side to pull through.

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6. Stitch the openings together then pull through the gap.

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7. Then pin and hand stitch the opening closed.

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8. Open the metal clasp and run a line of fabric glue into the channel. Allow this to set (as per the pack instructions) and then gently push the edges of the purse into it. You may want to use a knitting needle or crochet hook to help you to wedge it in neatly.

And it's finished!

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Learning to Write

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When I left the house a couple of Saturdays' ago, Mr M told the little man that Mummy was "going to a class to learn to write" - much hilarity ensued, "Mummy can already write, that's silly", etc etc... Anyway, I was going off to learn to write - to learn to write nicely. My handwriting is nothing short of horrible - you can read it but it really doesn't look very nice, so when I spotted a calligraphy workshop at the lovely Liberty with Becky of Betty Etiquette (who I'd been Instagram stalking for a while), I booked it straight away.

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Looking forward to a nice relaxing morning, I had a moment of mild panic when I arrived - fairly sure I couldn't do pretty writing no matter what... Becky was lovely though and the table looked so nice that in no time I couldn't wait to get started.

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We began with very basic lines and shapes to get the hang of the pen. I had tried calligraphy once before - I think around 1988 when the thick gothic style was fashionable - I never liked the look though so abandoned that hobby pretty quickly. Becky was teaching us the copperplate style which has a much more contemporary (and legible) look - it's also quite easy to adapt to make your own.

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The time flew by, and I'd been scribbling away for a couple of hours, filling page after page, before I was ready to have a go at a card.

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I forgot to mention that the theme of the workshop was Valentines' Day (I don't do Valentines' Day in a big way so pretty much forgot about it until we got to this point!), so we were all aiming to come away with a card. I played around with a couple of ideas and practiced my lettering several times before making two cards.

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After we finished, I decided to have a browse in the beautiful haberdashery, but ended up doing what I always do in Liberty and cooing rather a lot before getting totally overwhelmed and walking away empty handed - I often wonder if anyone else does that!

Later in the evening I had a little practice, but I think I need to do more in a decent light (and at a table rather than curled up in front of the fire!).

Keep an eye on the Betty Etiquette website for details of upcoming workshops, if you fancy giving it a try. If you don't, but love the look, Becky also sells a beautiful range of cards and stationery.

Adventures in Needle Felting...

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Needle felting has always seemed like a type of mysterious dark art to me. How can you possibly create shapes from a lump of wool using just a needle? I'd wanted to have a go for quite a while, but hadn't found any workshops at suitable times or places, and didn't want to buy an expensive kit only to find that I just couldn't do it. DSC_9128

I was tempted to have a go though when I heard that The Works (UK based chain - sorry non-UK folks) had a selection of kits for just £3, and figured that I couldn't go far wrong at that price. So I popped into my local branch and they didn't have any. I then visited every week for several weeks and finally, there they were, and yes they really were £3!

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They had four different kits in my branch - a cat, a bird, a monkey and this bracelet kit. I figured that this one was more my style and even if I didn't want bracelets I could do something with it.

Here's what the kit contained...

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About 30g of wool in six different colours; a sponge; 2 felting needles; some beads and a needle and clear thread (for the bracelets - I didn't use these); along with an instruction sheet.

I thought that the instruction sheet seemed a little small but it turned out that I really is super easy!

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It also turns out that the needles aren't just any needles - they have little barbs on them (which work the "magic") and are also very very sharp, as my poor fingers can testify - not a craft for younger children!

Anyhow, so you just bundle a piece of the wool up into a rough ball shape, place it on the sponge and stab away at it (quite quickly) with the needle. Keep rotating it round and after a few minutes you end up with this... Blimey.

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I planned to just have a go at one before the school run but ended up doing six and no work whatsoever - it's addictive. By the following morning I'd used up all of the wool and made 21 balls of varying sizes (I could've done this sooner but Mr M was adamant I put it away for the evening at about 9pm...).

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I decided to make them into a garland as I don't do bracelets all that much and I didn't think I'd wear them. I utilised some buttons from my stash and some bright pink thread and threaded them together.

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And that was that. So I've now found yet another highly addictive craft which I enjoy! Keen to have a go at one of Gretel Parker's kits next - maybe the fox. Dropping hints for Mother's Day gifts!

Oh, and after all those weeks of popping into The Works to try and find a kit, it turns out that they sell them online - who've thought it?!

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Gira e Rigira la Moda

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Back in November I had the pleasure of sharing my space at Renegade Craft Fair with the lovely Germana Bargoni of Gira e Rigira. I finally got around to buying a dress from her last month and I have a feeling I'll be wearing it until it disintegrates as I'm completely in love! Here's a selection from her current collection (my dress is the same as the plain blue one shown below but in a nice bright orange). quinta

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Germana is based in Bologne, Italy and has a passion for what she calls "textile archeology" - hunting through abandoned warehouses, storage rooms and shops throughout Italy, Europe and the United States to find the beautiful vintage fabrics, ribbons and trims from which she makes her clothes.  Often one of a kind items, each one is handmade by Germana in her workshop.

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Visit Germana's blog to see more of her collection (she is also on Facebook and Instagram). You can order from her Etsy shop (from which she ships internationally).

In case you're interested, Gira la Moda was the Italian version of the popular 80's toy the Fashion Wheel - it turns out you can still get it now!

New Design! Introducing Park Hill Bold

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I'm excited to share my first new design for several months - Park Hill bold. My new design is available in 2 colours - teal and green, and is based upon my original artwork for Park Hill. It has a textured appearance - looking a little like a lino cut. Park Hill Bold Montage copy

The fabric is printed in the UK and available by the metre and fat quarter in my Etsy shop. I also have notebooks and cushions available, but more products will follow soon.

Park Hill Bold Cushion Montage

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Month in the Life - January

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So we didn't get any snow, but January was still a fun month! Here are some of my highlights... piccal

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Chilly new year trip to Whitstable.

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Spending the last day of the school holidays at the Natural History Museum.

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Planning tutorials for the blog (this became my paintbrush/knitting needle roll tutorial).

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Working on the quilt.

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My first custom order of the year - Bankside on the front and South Bank on the reverse.

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Neon!

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Meeting Stephanie Wilkinson in her studio.

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The arrival of my new fabrics!

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A little planning for Valentines day (with some less valentinesy gift ideas - no hearts and flowers here!).

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Attending a really good seminar at the British Library organised by The Design Trust (pictured: Paula Gardner, Lara Watson and Barbara Chandler).

 

 

 

Patchwork Pincushion Tutorial

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Last month's Mollie Makes magazine (issue 49) came with a kit for a patchwork needle case. I wasn't sure that I needed one (although in all honesty I probably do as I'm always loosing needles....) and was inspired by alternative uses for the kits that were shown - they'd asked three bloggers to come up with their own spin on the gift. So, I decided to make myself something different with it too. DSC_8844 - Version 2

Regular readers will know that I'm quite into English paper piecing at the moment, so I was keen to piece and stitch the hexies properly, but I decided to make them into a pin cushion rather than a needle case. The only addition I made to the contents of the kit was the stuffing (I just used standard soft toy stuffing).

I started by making up 7 hexies and stitching them together in the same pattern as in the kit.

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I decided to stitch these onto the floral fabric rather than the pink felt supplied (which is behind the floral fabric in the images above). I used the pink felt as backing for this section to provide something substantial to put the pins into.

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I then took the piece of yellow felt, cut it in half to produce two squares, then cut one of these squares into four equal strips.

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I stitched a strip of felt to the right side of each edge of the floral piece.

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Then joined the corners together using a blanket stitch...

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The final stage involved blanket stitching the yellow square to the reverse (leaving a gap for the stuffing), adding the stuffing then sewing it up.

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And I'd finished! This has actually inspired me to trawl through some of the other kits I've got but haven't used, to see what I can come up with - I do like a challenge!

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