Day Trip to Fabric Heaven!

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Last year, my friend Mary and I planned to go on an indulgent, fabric-lovers day trip to Birmingham to visit the famous Rag Market and The Fancy Silk Store…. and it didn’t happen, for various reasons.

This year – IT DID!!!  Last weekend, we boarded the train with our sewing plans and yardage requirements and off we went!

Seriously, if you’ve never visited the Fancy Silk Store and you have even the slightest inkling of a Fabric Addiction, I urge you to go.  It is literally floor-to-cieling stacked with fabrics, on every floor!

Ooh, SO hard to resist going crazy and doubling my fabric stash in an afternoon!  But, I had a budget, I had specific projects in mind, and I DID manage to be fairly restrained.  I swooned over the batiks though, and first up was this soft, lightweight beauty, destined (I hope) to become the Kate & Rose Giselle Dressgreen&yellowbatikBut I couldn’t stop there…. this one has a bit more body and I think will make a nice strappy sundress.  (Possibly with shirring, if I’m feeling ambitious?)purplebatikThen over the road in the Rag Market, while M. was off buying gorgeous curtaining for her new pad, I spotted this fabulous, 70s-wallpaper-print pin cord.  Aha!  The very thing I’ve been waiting for to make this vintage 70s overdress for the winter.  See? – it’s all part of the plan, honest…cordAll in all it was a Grand Day Out and I think we may have to make this into an annual pilgramage.  And did I stay within my budget?  Weeellll… so hard to be restrained, plus y’know the Giselle dress requires elastic, so I had to buy a metre which put me over budget by….stashtastic…25p!

Wishing you all a Fabric-tastic Friday 🙂

 

WhooHoo! Purple Plantain T-Shirt

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At last!  Some sewing has happened!  Actually this happened a couple of weeks ago but you all know how tardy I am by now…  Here I am posing by some beautiful textile art by Gill Everard in my Deer & Doe plantain T-shirt! (Follow the link to download the free pattern).

I’ve been wanting to have a go at sewing knits for ages, and was very inspired by Scruffy Badger’s lovely Dotty Plantain a while back.  I have a lot of fitting issues with tops so I was *super-chuffed* to find that this pattern worked so well for me with fairly minimal adjustments – I just added some extra width around the body and in the upper sleeves.  And speaking of sleeves, how can you RESIST a T-shirt with elbow patches??elbowpatch

I wasn’t sure old Auntie Janis (my ancient Singer Samba) was totally up to the job: I don’t own an overlocker, so I used this post from Tilly to get the stitching right.  A little practice run making a matching headband, and we were away!  I did think the whole twin-needle thing would be asking too much of Auntie J, but check this out – she did me proud!  I reckon I’m going to sew EVERYTHING with a twin needle from now on…

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I absolutely LOVE this fabric, a soft cotton jersey print (in my favourite colour!) from Minerva that has washed & tumble dried OK so far.  I admit I’ve worn my Plantain to death already, and will definitely be making more.  Next time though I’ll add a couple of inches to the length to hide the old tummy bulge, and perhaps take an inch or so out of the upper chest – that neckline is just a little too low for me!

If you haven’t succumbed to the delights of the Plantain yet, I urge you to have a go!

I mean, look – funky elbow patches!  What’s not to love??elbows2

 

 

World Textile Day Wales report

Last Saturday, World Textile day came to the Minerva Arts Centre in sunny Llanidloes, close enough for me and some of my friends to make a day trip of it.african fabricsAfter an initial browse around the stalls of gorgeous fabrics, textiles, yarns, beads and all kinds of loveliness, we settled down to a talk and slide show by John Gillow.  John has put together an amazing collection of textiles from his travels around the Islamic world, and was full of tales about where these came from and the people who made and wore them.  Sadly, the light in the room meant the details on the slides of the fabulous embroidery and weaving were a bit hard to see, but there was still plenty to enjoy.

Best of all, John had brought a selection of things along with him that we could pick up and touch!  I’d never heard of ‘sprang’ before, a precursor to knitting, but I’m quite smitten with the feel and texture of it!   There was also an exhibition of various textiles from around the world on display, again the light in this room was very bright so my pictures didn’t come out so well.  This bedsheet-sized embroidered piece was actually done in very bright, jewel-like colours.embroideryBack in the trade area, I had a hard time resisting adding yet more quilting fabric to my stash when I saw these Japanese kimono fabrics japanesequilt

and these African wax prints.Africanquilt

But it wasn’t just the fabric junkies who were in danger, witness my friend Spike falling for these hand-woven African baskets!spikesbaskets

I spotted some beautiful carved Indian printing blocks at the Textile Traders stand: I’ve been wanting to have a go at block printing for ages, so I came away with this little one to start me off, plus a pair of dinky Indian bells for something on my 2014 sewing projects list.  I think this was my favourite stand at the whole show actually, so we may have to organise a little trip to their shop in Bishop’s Castle soon!bells&blockI wasn’t able to stay for the second talk later on, but it was a lovely day, full of wonderful colours, textures, and truly inspirational work.  I think we all came away happy!3amigos

 

Jane Crowfoot ‘Wiggle’ cushion

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted Jane Crowfoot & Debbie Abrahams’s sumptuous crochet and knitting book Kaleidoscope in a couple of my recent post-picskaleidoscope2I don’t normally buy brand new books, I prefer to get mine ‘pre-loved’ from second hand shops or online dealers, but THIS book just grabbed me, from the first time I saw it on Black Sheep Wool’s website!insidekaleidoscopeA WHOLE BOOK of cushion, bag, and blanket patterns!  I had a bad case of ‘the wanties’, I can tell you…  I resisted for quite some time but I kept thinking about that colourful chevron-striped cushion on the front cover, and eventually I caved in and bought it!

But I’m SO glad I did, it’s full of lovely patterns for things I will actually make.  And when I discovered that I may potentially NOT be allergic to alpaca, I knew exactly what my first project was going to beselection of brightly coloured alpaca yarnsMy thinking was, sitting against an alpaca cushion would be a potentially less distressing way to find out whether I’m allergic to it than, say, wearing an alpaca jumper.  And if I do turn out to be allergic, it will be easier to find a new home for a cushion.  The ‘Wiggle’ cushion pattern actually calls for cotton 4ply, but I figured since the alpaca is also 4ply it would work up in a fairly similar way, but just be a bit denser.  And hairier!  This, you’ll remember, is how it looked last weekend:wigglecushion1But as you know, I’ve been hibernating this week, so this is how it looks today:wigglenearlydoneAlmost done (but look at all those ends that need sewing in)! Just 20 rows to go.  I’ve never worked crochet in rows before, so I’m rather pleased at the way this has progressed, especially as it’s worked on a teeny tiny 3mm hook and I thought it would take forever.  I’m curious about the way the chevrons have given it a kind of ‘concertina’ effect – steaming it flat should be interesting…

So I’m hoping there will be a ‘WhooHoo!’ post on this project in the next few weeks, followed by a few more as I gently work my way through those Works-In-Progress!

Have a lovely happy hooky stitchy week, whatever you’re working on 🙂

 

Colourful crochet hooks

A quick update on my latest crochet extravagance: colourful custom-made crochet hooks!  These are made to order by the lovely Angela Hickey, who made Lucy from Attic 24’s famous red & white polka-dot hook.  One look at Angela’s Etsy shop and Flickr gallery and I came down with a bad case of ‘The Wanties’! three crochet hooks with colourful handles, purple with green dots, rainbow stripes, red with white dotsI am SO chuffed with these, they are lovely to use and make me smile every time I look at them.  I’m using my fabulous purple and green spotted hook to make some Christmas pressies at the moment and it just adds that extra element of fun to everything, as well as being much more comfortable to use than plain metal hooks: the handles are made of polymer clay and sit nicely in your hand while you’re working.

And speaking of Christmas presents, the Attic24 hook is a surprise pressie for a lovely crocheting friend, so shhhh….