Poppies, workshops and fabulous felting!

I love Autumn; its a time of nesting, gathering ripe blackberries to create jams and jellies, pickling onions and cucumbers: the anticipation of cosy nights by the fire crocheting or knitting while the cold nights stay outside the warm glow of the windows. The summer activities are winding down, my focus turns to creating a comfortable cosy home, and crafting.  
I have been speaking to Clothkits and Eternal Maker about running workshops, the first of which will be needle felting poppies for remembrance day in November. Its the centenary of the start of the first World War this year, the BBC have been running such interesting programmes about the lives of ordinary men and women a hundred years ago.  Yet in recent years, we are still seeing soldiers return home injured or worse, it has begun to feel less like history, and lamentable that we are still engaged in conflict today. I hope to give a donation to the Poppy appeal as it is such a great cause. 

I really enjoy needle felting, it is so satisfying to be able to replicate the beauty of flowers and leaves so easily, blending colours, shaping the wool; it’s a pleasurable way to spend half an hour, the projects evolve very quickly and easily. (You just have to keep your fingers out of the way!) 
If you would like to try this yourself, I can recommend Gillian Harris’s book Felting Fabulous flowers, the projects are delightful and the step by step instructions are easy to follow. You can purchase a copy on amazon.

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When the red red robin goes bob bob bobbin along!

It was while out on one of my dog walks recently that I noticed just how charming ivy is: the leaf shapes are so elegant, the deep rich green with its darker veins are so pretty creating a lovely patch of  green while all around me the trees are becoming bare. I love the way it flows and softens the lines of the fence where I was walking – the way the leaves grow smaller along the vine. I also spotted some gorgeous variegated ivy in my own garden! 
Nature always has beauty, no matter what the season – frosted ivy was a wonder to behold. It has been there all year, but my focus has always gone to the scented lavender or the bright geraniums, but at this time of the year I begin to see the structure and beauty of those plants who remain the supporting cast in the garden. 

I was inspired by my walk to create a winter wreath, and decided to give ivy the star treatment! 
I really enjoy using needle felting as it allows me to create more realistic natural patterns, I combined them with the multitudes of tapestry wool -I purchase in vintage shops – often a whole abandoned kit can be bought for as little as a few pounds – I keep it in a small suitcase that resembles a box full of colour! 
Christmas Roses or hellebores, are so lovely too – but overshadowed most of the time by the more colourful varieties. However, they flower when winter has its grip and june roses are a distant memory or promises of summer to come while the branches of the roses look stark like winter skeletons of summer plants. 

The robin adds a splash of colour to the wreath, alongside some small red berries. He is created with a combination of felt, wool and merino floss.

It is easy to use the wool to create the wings on the robin, laying them across the body, using the felting needle to fix it. The beaded eye gives a brightness to the robin and gives him a little sparkle.

The felting gives a fluffiness that gives the robin his plumage, and softens his shape a little.

As you can see some of the ivy leaves are simply cut – with the variegation created with simple use of a felt tip pen!

I also laid several different colours of wool to make up the vines of the ivy, fixing all the elements with a hot glue gun. The leaves lay across the wreath, using a pen to push the centre of the ivy leaf to give it a natural shape.

If you want to have a go yourself you can purchase the wreath here, they are from Gisella Graham who I really love. Heidi feathers does a great beginner felting pack here which includes everything you need to start creating your own wreath. If you would like pattens for the ivy leaves and robin just drop me a line or you can sign up for the course I am running at Clothkits on Saturday 30th November.  

Cloth Kits Sewing Bee

  

One of the wonderful things about living in West Sussex is that there are four marvellous fabric shops in Chichester, one of which is Clothkits. The brand started in the late sixties was hugely popular with printed fabric patterns for children and adults alike – it was bought by a large company in the eighties and remained dormant for 17 years until Kay Mawer rescued it and opened the ClothKits shop in Chichester. It is absolutely wonderful, old patterns that brought back nostalgic memories of childhood sewing, combine with a beautiful vibrant collection of patterns that have brought the brand on trend for the current wave of stitchers. 
So when this invitation from Cloth Kits arrived in my mailbox I could not resist 
Become a SEWING BEE!    
Professional Finishing Techniques for Dressmaking


Can you already sew?Join Maria Pulley and learn some top tips for turning your sewing into something to be proud of!

This hands on one day workshop will equip you with a bundle of professional techniques in dressmaking. 

The course tutor Maria Pulley was an inspiration as soon as she stepped into the spacious workroom – she was wearing a wool dress of her own design that was beautiful and fitted her  like a glove. 

Maria began the course by asking us about our sewing skills and what we wanted out of the course – she was willing to adapt the course structure to meet our needs.  We were quite a range of skills from beginner to more experienced, yet everyone was thrilled to be learning – and the work room was a buzz of enthusiasm. 

The classroom environment was perfect: large, bright and cheery, each student (8 of us in all) had a machine to ourselves the aspects of the machine were explained to us so that we all felt confident. The large cutting out table gave another working area where Maria explained the techniques together with a huge box of material scraps for us to practise on. Instruction sheets for each technique that were very clear in by the end of the afternoon each student had completed samples to go with each hand out. 



Closed seam – overlocked edge

Understitched facing on curved edge – the understitching does really make a huge different to the finish 

Two curved edges – this technique is very useful for princess seams in particular

Open seam with top stitching along both sides

Piped seam these were beautiful and easy to accomplish

closed seam with top stitching – topstitching looks lovely but precision is key

French seam – right and wrong side  these are useful in lingerie or sheer fabrics, or if you want to encase raw edges. They are a wonderful finish which makes a dress superior to off the peg garments. 
Welt pocket / buttonhole – I have wanted to learn this technique for a long time, I simply adore the effect and it makes a button hole a feature. 
I would recommend the classes,  they are superb value, the class size was just right together with a  constant supply of hot drinks kept us refreshed. I can’t wait to enrol for another course. Maria was a very talented seamstress and teacher. I have been sewing now for over 20 years, but I learned so much, Maria made sure everyone went home confident and enthusiastic. 

Cushy number

We are having family to stay over Christmas and bought a lovely white sofa bed. The great thing about the colour is that is possible to update or change the look simply by sewing different cushions. I had some of this clarke and clarke fabric left over from a few projects so I thought I would make some new cushions. I simply love this design the birds and roses are lovely. There are so many colours and the duck egg blue is one of my favourites. Once I had made the cushions I thought it needed a nice fringing  to give them a finishing touch, which was all the excuse I needed to go to the Eternal Maker
After walking round Chichester in the pouring rain purchasing the final gifts for Christmas I decided I would treat myself to a visit to the store which is simply delightful. Not five minutes through the door I was offered a lovely cup of tea and decided to participate in their make and take. It was a little button tree, which was delightful to make as there were huge pots of buttons to pick from. Daisy talked me through the project and it was like sitting with a good friend. Living in West Sussex is wonderful there are so many fantastic fabric shops, clothkits is in Chichester too, one of the many reasons I am so happy to be here. 
Little button tree made at the Eternal Maker.