“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ― Cicero

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
― Cicero

Well I have a garden and few bookcases and a Kindle, so it is looking good – what’s more I got to spend Saturday in Bath central library! The really cool thing was that when I got there I found I had been allocated the table smack in front of everyone coming to the library’s craft market. It brought back so many memories of the library in Loughborough when I was little and would be taken to change my books. I remember the parquet flooring and how clean and shiny it was and sometimes there would be someone reading stories to the children and most of all I remember a book. A book with an illustration of a long table covered with tall, elegant jellies. Some things never change!

I do have wonderful book childhood book memories – my dad reading me Alison Uttley’s Sam Pig stories at bedtime, my sister reading Alan Garner books to me, sitting on the windowsill in her bedroom, and reading Watership Down myself one of the Summers I was sent to stay with my great aunt in Cornwall…I spent the whole Summer digging rabbit warrens in the sand.

Anyway, I digress. The craft market was not as financially successful as some, but was still profitable and I came away with some custom orders and I met ever so many nice people (and I think recruited a few to the Bath WI), lots signed up for the Deerey Me newsletter and I heard about people’s vintage patterns and button collections, saw photos of beautiful crocheted shawls and gave little dog stickers to lots of kids (and only one cried). It was fun.

IMG_2425
Bath library craft market

I wanted to have a few bits and pieces appropriate to a library, so made some book bags – classics as I am not sure about copyright and whether I can use the name of the book (I queried whether I could use Harry Potter titles and the nice people handling copyright for JK Rowling were really helpful and replied the same day and explained that the HP copyrights are now with Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers have not yet responded…but I will stick at it!)

1 june crafts - 04

1 june crafts - 02

I also put my new found crochet skills to good use and made some pocket money friendly bookmarks – my fist sale was one of these to a cute little girl who wanted to use it in her library books.

1 june crafts - 13

1 june crafts - 11

1 june crafts - 12

 

1 june crafts - 10

I know it is hard to believe, but on Sunday I was somewhat tired and grumpilicious, so Mark took me to the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum in Britain (at Claverton on the outskirts of Bath). Nobody could be grumpilicious in the face of such colours!

american museum - 001

american museum - 018

american museum - 022

american museum - 032

(More photos in Deere Diary, if you are interested)

Became even less grumpilicious strolling (well limping a bit) around the beautiful gardens before sipping lemon and ginger tea on the terrace.

american museum - 052

american museum - 122

american museum - 137

After all this, I can only conclude that Cicero was right…If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

 

(Well…and a nice chap to help you unpack and pack your stock at the craft fair, carry your camera bag and lenses, wait patiently while you take even more photos of bees and has a pot of tea waiting for you when you’re finished)

 

 

 

 

 

beach huts, gardens and a wee bit of free-motion quilting

This is less of a tutorial than a nudge to give free-motion machine sewing a go – whether it is embroidery, applique or quilting. If you are like me, you may have put off dropping your feed dogs and going for it, and I am here to tell you it is easier than you might think. All you need is a sewing machine that allows you to drop the feed dogs (usually a switch at the back of the machine’s table somewhere) and although not absolutely necessary, I do prefer to use a darning foot. I have heard of people taping thin card over the feed dogs if they cannot be dropped.

11 may 2014 - 03
using a darning foot

Most of the feet for my machine are changed by pushing the release at the back of the foot and reattach just by pushing them back on, but I think a lot of darning feet are like the one in the photo and you have to undo the screw at the side…I am embarrassed to admit that took my a little while to work out! You can free-motion sew without a foot at all, but please do watch your fingers as there is nothing to stop you stitching through more than just the fabric.

To stop the fabric getting out of shape as you sew you either need to hold it firm with an embroidery hoop or – as my lovely friend Karen pointed out to me – you can use a fabric stabiliser. I use stitch-and-tear, which I iron on to the back of the fabric. It gives you more to sew through and you can tear it away when you have finished. You can also get stabilisers that wash away.

I suggest setting up your sewing machine, ironing some stabiliser to a scrap of fabric and just having a play. I was really surprised how quickly I started to get the hang of it.

I find I end up sewing over my starting thread and the criss-cross stitches hold the thread in place, so it is not necessary to pull the thread tail through to the back and tie it or anything – just trim it close. If you are writing with the machine or sewing discrete areas with the same colour thread, just raise the needle and the foot and pull the fabric away from you to give yourself a loop of thread, so it doesn’t pull when you go on to the next bit of stitching. You can trim all the loops at the end – it saves time, rather than trimming each bit before you move on.

11 may 2014 - 01
loose ends before trimming

Free-motion applique is a really quick and easy way to applique. It leaves a raw edge to the fabric pieces, but I rather like that effect. You can either cut a shape and sew around the edges or use a piece of fabric, sew your outline and then trim away excess fabric. I usually use the first way, as I like to get an idea of how the finished piece will look, but the second way may be a little quicker. (One little hint: if your sewn line goes a bit wobbly, just sew over it again as somehow two slightly wobbly lines together look like they are meant to be like that). You could pin or tack applique pieces in place, but I find it far easier to use a fabric glue stick. They are designed to be suitable to sew through without getting your needle all gummed up.

11 may 2014 - 51
finished beach-hut cards
garden card
garden card

I am now practiced at changing to and from the darning foot (and keep a small Phillips screwdriver in my sewing kit), but still find myself choosing to do all my free-motion projects at the same time rather than switching between feet too often. Today, I decided to do a little (very basic) free-motion quilting, making an ivory satin dolly bag.

11 may 2014 - 20
little bag of love
11 may 2014 - 18
cone flower and bee quilting
11 may 2014 - 06
love
11 may 2014 - 04
happiness and marriage

 

 

I had thought I might do some gardening today rather than sewing, but the sunshine kept making way for Spring showers. However late afternoon, the lure of sunshine in the garden was too much for me.

11 may 2014 - 09
first clematis flower of the year
11 may 2014 - 29
I have a love hate relationship with dandelions
11 may 2014 - 24
the wisteria is the best I have ever seen it
11 may 2014 - 22
the garden
11 may 2014 - 17
the azalea my mum gave us as a low-calorie alternative to a chocolate Easter egg
11 may 2014 - 27
bleeding heart and little white alliums
11 may 2014 - 46
aquilegia in the shade of the cherry tree
11 may 2014 - 40
poppies adding a splash of colour
11 may 2014 - 21
poppies like drops of sunshine

Before I go (sorry but Philadelphia is on tv and I am a big fan of Denzel Washington!) I just have a special photo I would like to share – especially for Shellie and Christina! 😉

man and cat in perfect harmony
man and cat in perfect harmony

 

 

 

 

 

 

in an English country garden

Most weekends I get up early, have breakfast and catch up with my guilty pleasures of the Graham Norton Show, the Great British Sewing Bee and Babylon 5 (no excuse for the latter as I have every series on dvd, but Watch started showing it all again from the beginning…and I can’t resist!) and then I get on with some sewing while I wait for the snoring to cease upstairs and the dopey love of my life to stumble downstairs in search of coffee…generally at what I like to call lunchtime. However, last weekend I skipped my catch up tv (but not breakfast!), donned an old patched pair of jeans and paint-daubed shirt and headed in to the garden.

The sun shone and the sky was blue…and in no time at all so were my hands, and my nose, and my ear…and even Rio the cat had a blue streak that had to be brushed out.

a painter's eye view of the garde...from under the picnic table
a painter’s eye view of the garden…from under the picnic table
how exactly does one manage to get paint on one’s ear???

Now the three raised beds are a delightful forget-me-not blue and waiting for top soil, the picnic table is a soft wood sage and the arbour and archway over which the wisteria grows are forget-me-not blue. My next free weekend I will start on the shed…sage to match the picnic table I think.

Apres-painting requires relaxation…

cheerful garden ready for lazing in

Max the cat also wanted to enjoy the steamer chair!

Sue the cat cushion
Sue the cat cushion

Of course, as well as painting, a sunny weekend calls for a camera…sorry, there is no escape from my photos!

garden 16 March 2014 - 25

garden 16 March 2014 - 22

garden 16 March 2014 - 21

garden 16 March 2014 - 17

garden 16 March 2014 - 14

garden 16 March 2014 - 02

garden 16 March 2014 - 08

garden 16 March 2014 - 09

Artist Trading Card swap

I have done some sewing…honestly! I signed up for the third (my second) artist trading card (ATC) swap with Very Berry Handmade and the theme this time is ‘books and literature’. With gardens on the brain, I turned to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden”, which I loved as a child and still reread every now and then. I cannot tell you how much I loved making this tiny little picture (when I say liitle, I mean little – 3.5″ x 2.5″). Machine embroidery really is the chocolate fudge cake of the sewing world!

The Secret Garden ATC
The Secret Garden ATC

Mother’s Day special offer!

Mother’s Day in the UK is 30 March this year and I am offering free standard UK delivery so there is no excuse not to treat your mum to something lovely. Just enter code MUMSDAY at checkout: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeereyMe

Valid until 1 April 2014.

Easter is coming, the bunny’s getting thin…

Easter is coming

The bunny’s getting thin*

Here’s a little bag

To collect chocolate eggs in!

*I reckon all that running around hiding chocolate eggs (without eating them) is bound to keep the Easter bunny skinny!

IMGP0304

IMGP0307

IMGP0310

I usually make my drawstring bags with linings and separate casings – and sometimes I even quilt them – but had the idea that if I could make them simply enough, I could price them so they could be used as gift bags. To keep the inside tidy without lining I have used my favourite French seams. You sew the front and back of the bag wrong sides together, trim the seam allowance, turn it inside out, press it and sew the seam again with right sides together, The effect is to enclose the raw edges within the seam.

I have also unleashed my love of applique and free-motion embroidery on some Easter cards:

IMGP0315

IMGP0316

IMGP0324

Of course before Easter, here in the UK we have Mother’s Day on 30 March (would have been my dad’s birthday, so have to mark it with lots of ice-cream!). I made some pretty flower and teacup cards with mothers in mind:

IMGP0328

IMGP0333

IMGP0337

IMGP0341

IMGP0344

All currently available in my shop: Deerey Me on Etsy.com

Mind you, before either Mother’s Day or Easter we have Shrove Tuesday on 4 March…best known as pancake day! I haven’t made anything to sell for pancake day…but I will be making pancakes mmmmmmmm. In my opinion you can’t beat good old lemon and sugar. What’s your favourite pancake?

 

of mice and men..and cats

Last night was wild – and not in a good way! The noise of the wind and the feeling that the house was shaking was somewhat unnerving and watching the updates on the Dorset coast (where we have a tiny wee holiday flat) was downright scary. We have friends who live there permanently and I hope they are ok as I see many people were evacuated and spent the night in a local pub or in a school. If the flat flooded, it’s just things, but people are far more precious. It has been one storm after enough, each stronger and more damaging than the one before. I heard on the radio this morning that 41,000 properties are without power this morning. Watching it from our safe, dry house in Bath it feels apocalyptic, so how must it feel when the waves are crashing over your home or your farm is is two or three metres under water or even in the middle of London buildings are collapsing in the path of the storm? It is still windy, but the sun is shining and the worst of the latest storm is over. It feels as though the whole country is praying for calm and sunshine and Spring.

This morning I opened the living room curtains to evidence of a stormy Valentine’s day…I wonder who attempted to charm their loved one and was beaten by the wind?

after the Valentine's storm
after the Valentine’s storm

I know this post is supposed to be of mice and men and cats, but I want to reverse the order and start with the cats.

of cats

Our two cats were as freaked out by the storm last night as we were, and it is so nice to see them calm and soaking up a sunny respite in the weather…

Max, dozing in the sun
feline sun-worshipper
who? me?

…even if naughty Rio tries to destroy the sofa! (it’s ok, I made extra strong covers for the parts of the sofa he scratches…not a pulled thread in sight)

naughty cat!
naughty cat!

…and when I made him stop, he decided to read the paper, and really got in to it!

Rio in the paper
Rio in the paper
newspaper cat
newspaper cat

of men

Yesterday was Valentine’s day. Mark and I don’t tend to do a lot to mark the day, but had intended to go out for lunch yesterday as Mark had the day off. The weather was so awful, we decided to stay in and had a Chinese takeaway in the evening instead. I made Mark a card…a free motion machine embroidery of Max the cat. Quite proud of it actually; didn’t draw it on the fabric first, just sketched it in stitches. It is so much fun drawing in thread!

free motion machine embroidery cat's whiskers Valentine's card
free motion machine embroidery cat’s whiskers Valentine’s card

I also made some shortbread hearts and split them between Mark and our elderly next door neighbour…sharing the love (and the calories!).

shortbread hearts
shortbread hearts
glittery shortbread hearts

As for me, I was treated to red roses, champagne and a big ole chocolate heart! (sorry phone photo is so grainy – had just come back from doc pulling around my dodgy knees and was not getting up to fetch proper camera!)

Valentine’s treats
red roses!

of mice

I keep an old style Ellen Mouse in my work room/dining room (not CE markable as has bead eyes and whiskers that will pull out under 7kg of tug) and I use her as a model for when I get requests for additional clothes for a re-homed Ellen Mouse. Until this week she has had to sit on my fabric shelves in nowt but her vest and frilly pants so I pinched a tiny bit of some trim I was given to make her a dress…reminds me of a 1970s Laura Ashley maxi dress.

Ellen Mouse in her vest and pants
Ellen Mouse’s new maxi dress

What’s more Ellen had nagged and nagged about extending her range…so now in my online shop Ellen Mouse cards and Ellen Mouse zip pouch bag!

Ellen Mouse greetings card
Ellen Mouse zip pouch

While in the mood for free-motion machine embroidery I made a couple more zip pouches, sketching first and then doing a bit of applique and embroidery: available in my shop.

blue tit sketch for free motion embroidery
blue tit zip pouch
cone flower and bees sketch
cone flower and bees zip pouch

I also made a little zip coin purse/makeup bag – the fabric is just too pretty to need any embellishment!

IMGP9937

I am still experimenting with products to decide on my ‘niche’ and plan to make some paper sculptures in the coming week, to see how they go down with my customers. Here is one I made earlier (lots of years earlier).

paper geisha
paper geisha

some more Valentine’s cards

I am still grabbed by the free-motion bug and have made a load more cards (in my shop now: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeereyMe) Here are a few of them.

IMGP9622

IMGP9586

IMGP9611

 

IMGP9628

IMGP9639

IMGP9648

IMGP9653

IMGP9688

This week I plan to make some zipper pouches using the same techniques.

 

Christmas seems like a long time ago now, but I would like to share a couple of my presents that really help with the day job.

1) A bobbin sidewinder from Mark’s mum and dad. This fantastic little gadget is battery powered and allows me to wind bobbins really easily and without having to unthread and rethread my sewing machine…cool!

bobbin sidewinder
bobbin sidewinder

2) A Roberts DAB radio with bluetooth from Mark. I know it is lazy, but the bluetooth aspect of this lovely retro style radio is brilliant – I don’t have to leave my sewing machine to change music or audiobook or volume and it stops when my phone rings – perfect. I love it. I couldn’t photograph it without including the painting on the wall beside it. An oil painting by Helen Campbell. It never ceases to inspire me – I see more in it every time I look at it and can find myself staring at it for far too long. Helen and I worked together in a London investment bank 25 years ago or more and it is strange to see how far away we now both are from our banking days.

Roberts radio
Roberts radio

 

In other news…for months and months there has been a note on the chalk board in our kitchen reminding me to mend Mark’s work chinos (actually for a while it reminded me to find and mend them). It is quite some time since I did any dressmaking and I have never made trousers (except for a bridegroom mouse) and I guess I was putting it off. This weekend I finally got around to taking out the old broken zip to see how it had been fitted and sewing in a new zip. It was fiddly, but I am quite proud of myself for having persevered and not just throwing out the trousers. A bit of an iron and they are fit to go!

replaced zip
replaced zip

 

In addition, you may remember I shared with you Max the cat’s efforts to fit in to a too small box…

cat in a box...well almost
cat in a box…well almost

…well I am pleased to announce that he has now found a box he can squeeze in to! Yay for Max!

Max in a box
Max in a box

 

Finally, we had another sunny day yesterday so Mark and I went for a walk locally – heading away from the city in to the countryside. There is more in Deere Diary.

 

 

 

 

 

Be my Valentine…?

I don’t know where this week has gone. I seem to have been busy every waking moment and yet so many ideas have yet to be realised. I am now starting to turn to ideas for Valentines Day – for the shop, not for Mark and me! At best we are likely to have something nice for tea, although the last couple of years when we agreed not to get each other gifts, Mark has come home with a large bouquet of red roses anyway.

First things first though; I have framed the Little Red Riding Hood piece. What do you think?

Little Red Riding Hood, framed
Little Red Riding Hood, framed

Also, while my mind was full of woodland farytales, I made a batch of mushroom/toadstool pincushions – so much fun to make.

I think my next fairytale will be the Princess and the Pea – I can picture it very clearly in my mind.

So now to Valentines. I have a load of ideas and started working out some free-motion/applique cards. I hadn’t tried much free-motion writing until this week and have been pleasantly surprised with the results (although I think you can see the difference between the beginning and end of the week). These will be in my shop next week, once the packaging arrives.

Firstly, my love of bees could not be contained:

bee mine!
bee mine!

Secondly, I am a big fan of Peter Pan and love the idea of Wendy giving Peter a thimble, when she offers him a kiss – as he does not know what a kiss is (of course, having no concept of what a kiss is terribly sad). I am hoping that the thimble/kiss reference is not too cryptic.

Wendy's 'kiss'
Wendy’s ‘kiss’

Lastly (so far), as a resident of Bath, I felt I needed a little Jane Austen.

Mr Darcy to Lizzie Bennett
Mr Darcy to Lizzie Bennett

In the coming week I will make some more of these, along with some ‘You are my Mr Darcy’, ‘Fly me to the moon’ with some gorgeous space/planets fabric I have, and maybe even some straight forward ‘be my valentine’. I also want to use some of these ideas to make zipper pouches, bunting and lavender bags. Oh and I picked up a pack of 50 small tobacco tins I am going to decorate and fill…along with planting the raspberry plants, sorting out potential crafty nights out for the Bath WI, a bit of mending (I am putting off replacing the zip in a pair of Mark’s trousers, but I need to be brave and get it done!) and of course some guitar practice!

if you go down to the woods today…

For a few weeks I have been turning an idea over in my mind. Fairy tales. I have always loved them and they suggest such vivid images. With the new year, I made a start…with Little Red Riding Hood.

I started by getting a basic image of snowy woodlands on to the fabric with fabric paints.

fabric painted Winter woodland
fabric painted Winter woodland

I then picked out the detail on the trees with free-motion embroidery and appliqued Little Red and the wolf, using a combination of crushed velvet, calico and brushed cotton.

Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood

Finishing the picture with a bit of sparkle on the snow.

snow highlighted with shimmering thread
snow highlighted with shimmering thread

Now I need to decide how to use it. I am inclined towards framing it as I am concerned about how well it will wear as a bag or cushion. What do you think?

In time I will make a smaller piece to be part of a fairy tale quilt. I think my next fairy tale will be the real princess…!

 

 

 

wingardium leviosa!

I have been having a Harry Potter hour or two. On Saturday, pottering (sorry!) around Toppings book shop in Bath I had a flash of inspiration about a book book-bag which, by the time Alison got there, had developed in to a Harry Potter book in the middle of a shelf of classics, with a little magic escaping from the Harry Potter book. I put it together and am chuffed to bits it turned out just as I imagined it! What do you think?

Harry Potter book bag
Harry Potter book bag

there's magic in them there books!

Harry Potter and the classics
Harry Potter and the classics

 

finishing touches

I decided my bags and purses needed a little extra je ne sais quoi and ordered these fab little labels from Able Labels. I am very happy with themand will be stitching them in to everything from now on.

 

seaside shopper

I received them very quickly, but had already made this little seaside shopping bag…what is it about bunting that is so irresistable? I want to put miniature bunting on everything now!

seaside shopper
seaside shopper

 

greetings cards

Although I plan to mainly fill my Etsy shop (which I hope to open the week after next!) with sewn goodies, I also decided to get a few of my photos printed up as cards…here’s a few and I will put some more in the photos gallery.

seaside/countryside
seaside/countryside
birds
birds
bees
bees
butterflies
butterflies

 

strawberry gin

The strawberry gin is ready! I don’t quite understand how 70cl of gin, when left to stand with sugar and strawberries can now fill two 35cl bottles and still have enough left over to fill another small jar plus a good measure for the cook. I guess the strawberries must just have been very juicy.

I did find myself pinching the leftover gin-soaked strawberries as I cooked (mushroom and stilton pie) until I realised I was fast becoming a gin-soaked strawberry blonde!

gin-soaked strawberry blonde
gin-soaked strawberry blonde
strawberry gin
strawberry gin

 

and finally…

Last Saturday was the Flavours of the South West food festival in Bath and my cake won the WI Queen of Cakes title! It was a bit of a rush tracing the logo and filling it out with melted chocolate, and I managed to squish the icing while transporting it – I even forgot to take a photo (this was one the ladies (wo)manning the table took). I didn’t know there was a competition, but it’s very nice to win!

Bath WI cake
Bath WI cake