I spoke to my mum today and she asked if I still have a website…erm…oops. Life has become very busy as I have moved from full time textile artist to part-time textile artist and part-time office manager at Demuths Cookery School. It’s quite tough fitting everything in to my week, but there are definite perks…like getting to take part in the Andalucian Spanish Tapas class to see it from the students’ point of view!
As well Demuths, the Bath WI is still taking up a lot of my free time…all very exciting though as Gardeners’ World came to film our garden in the Bath Botanical Gardens and our Kitty showed Rachel de Thame how to pickle runner beans!
Of course there is still time for sewing and the odd craft market. I went to Corsham Creative Market for the first time and had a lovely time – back there again on 7th November.
Still loving freemotion embroidery…with a miniature artist trading card and an embroidered washbag.
I so enjoyed the challenge of last year’s Hillary’s Blinds craft competition that when I was emailed about taking part again this year, I jumped at the chance! I was given the choice of a metre of any of these fabrics:
I think all four are lovely and was particularly tempted by Rayna Apple, but the lovely colour and foliage print of Safi Turquoise won me over. As anyone who reads my blog cannot have escaped noticing, I love bugs and bees and wildlife so I decided to use freemotion embroidery to add a few bugs to the fabric and then to use it to make a shoulder tote. I almost always make things for other people and decided this one is for me!
One of the nice things about upholstery or curtain fabric is that it is more substantial than a quilting cotton and is a good base for free-motion embroidery. Mind you, to be sure there would be no puckering, I added a stitch and tear stabiliser to the back of the fabric before I began stitching. Free-motion embroidery is rather like drawing by moving the paper instead of the pencil. I love it; totally addictive.
Once the free-motion embroidery bee, dragonfly and ladybird were complete I could tear away the stabilising fabric.
The other benefit of upholstery fabric is that it holds its shape and does not necessarily need lining. I am a big fan of French seams – stitched once with wrong sides together, trimmed, turned inside out and stitched again, so all the raw edges are enclosed within the seam.
Once the body of the bag was complete I turned over the top edge twice and machine stitched two neat rows of stitches. The bag is finished with long handles, so the bag can be worn on the shoulder. I used two narrow lengths of fabric for each handle, ironing the raw edges to the centre and sewing the two pieces together with the raw edges tucked neatly away in the middle of the fabric ‘sandwich’. The handles are sewn to the bag with two layers of stitching for strength…and ta da!
This is a really simple way to make a bag – if you have a sewing machine you haven’t really tried using, a big like this is a great way to start sewing. In fact this is a method I teach at Grownups Playgroup, as it is great for beginners to take home something they can use and be proud of. I am keeping this bag, but feel inspired to embroider more bugs and beasties on bags and zip pouches in the coming weeks.
I have loved seeing how differently everyone approaches this challenge; have a look for yourself on the competition’s Pinterest board: Hillary’s Craft Competition 2015
[Oh and I just realised, this is my 100th post since I switched to WordPress…may push the boat out with a celebratory alcohol free lager…all that’s in the fridge]
Ooh it’s been a busy Winter. Busy, but profitable. What has slipped has been writing (and housework…sorry Mark!). So here goes…a brief summary of 6 weeks in the life of Sue Deere, textile artist.
I have worked on a teeny weeny Artist Trading Card for the Very Berry Handmade swap:
I have had lots and lots of orders – many for pieces using the customers’ own photos, so I can’t really share them here while others were freemotion pieces and now Christmas is over, I can let you see!
My photos as well as textile art:
I had a number of craft markets and hugely successful and enjoyable open studio with my friend and willow artist, Su Macpherson (involving plenty of mulled wine and mince pies too!) – for the Christmas Fair at Bath Library I even had a very lovely young French lady to help me run the stall.
Su and I treated ourselves to a half day fused glass course at Silversides in Larkhall:
Excitingly, Su and I have also decided to work together running craft workshops – a creative fun day out, suitable for the absolute beginner: Grownups Playgroup
We are now booking for:
21 March 10.00 – 16.00 willow plant supports (only two places left)
28 March 10.00 – 16.00 willow sculpting
11 April 10.00 – 16.00 introduction to free motion embroidery
Please email email@example.com if you are interested in attending.
I will also be running a workshop for the Bath WI, making pincushions in teacups:
As well as all this crafty loveliness we have had a lovely selection of frosty mornings and Winter sunshine…stunning sunrises and delicate moonfalls.
A few brisk Winter walks to put roses in our cheeks:
Lots of wildlife to admire, including a kingfisher in the Botanical Gardens in Bath!
In contrast, the cats have been making the most of the central heating. Max has been experimenting with different resting places including Christmas presents, a hamper, boxes and a rather nice pack of truffles! Rio stuck to Mark’s dressing gown and the ironing board…
There were decorations…
…and lots of baking…
…injuries – little ones like burning my arm on the oven and bigger ones involving an ambulance ride to A&E when our neighbour tripped and cut her head badly.
There were party hats, racing wind-up robins, cocktails, two Christmas dinners, accounts and my first tax return…
Yes, I know it is July and not technically Spring, but I have indeed been Spring cleaning. I had my fourth craft fair on Saturday and a few things have sorted themselves out in my mind.
I started Deerey Me wanting to try lots of things – because I like making so many different things – hoping something would come to the surface. I think it now has. What I enjoy most is free-motion machine embroidery and applique and I think I should keep my stock to this theme. I will sell cards and pictures and zip pouches and to that I may add brooches and tea cosies and aprons, but all will have my style of free-motion twiddliness.
One thing that has not sold at all at craft fairs and not too much recently online is the larger tote/shopping bags, so I am going to stop making them as stock (except the book bags). I am happy to make anything at all for custom order – tote bags, slippers etc – but I won’t keep them in stock and I won’t take them to craft fairs. My one exception to all this is Ellen Mouse. I love her too much not to have her around – and I don’t want all that CE testing to go to waste.
So, my friends, I now have some stock to clear out of my way. I have decided to take them out of my Etsy shop and sell them a few at a time on my Facebook page, so why not head over there, ‘like’ my page and see what bargains pop up each day!
In addition, the more free-motion work I do, the faster I get, so I am now able to reduce the price of my cards from £4.50 each to £3 each!
Finally, and I shall whisper this…my Christmas shop is now open over at Etsy: Deerey Me Christmas shop. I had a couple of people buying stocking-fillers on Saturday and thought I should be ready for the early birds. The Christmas section does include some non-applique pieces, but…well…Christmas is Christmas and some liberties may be taken!
“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.
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!)
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.
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!
Became even less grumpilicious strolling (well limping a bit) around the beautiful gardens before sipping lemon and ginger tea on the terrace.
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)
Yes, sunshine makes a difference in so many ways, but in particular I am thinking about product photos. I have quite a few pieces to add to my Etsy shop and have been waiting for enough light to make the photos pop. Finally, the sun has shone! (these will be going in my shop very soon)
The cats have been enjoying the sunshine too…
…and so have Mark and I, with a visit to Lacock Abbey!
Yesterday I had a stall at the Larkhall Festival in Bath. Our nearest shops are in Larkhall – just five minutes walk away – and it is a lovely little place on the edge of Bath, with a real community spirit. There’s a newsagents/post office, a butchers, a deli/bakery, a green grocers, two cafes, a couple of pubs, a pet shop, a hardware store…oh you get the picture. Every year there is a community festival that brings together local residents and businesses, with lots of live music, kids’ activities, competitions…and a craft market! I hadn’t had a stall there before and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had a brilliant time. It was a successful day financially, and lots and lots of people took away my advertising postcards, but more importantly I met so many lovely people! The day flew by and the other stall holders were so friendly – Diane and Terry were like old friends by the end of the day and the lovely lady with the top hat gave me some useful advice about selling at craft markets (and even offered to share her twiglets!), there was live music from a pianist and a guitarist (complete with his sweet little dog who went from stall to stall saying hello to everyone), and the nice lady selling her jewellery danced with her baby grandchild. The customers were interested in what I make and how I make it and I had some fascinating conversations, I think I may have some new recruits to the Bath WI and one very lovely lady has even offered me a bag of crocheted lace and other fabric!
A big thanks to Cassy for organising the craft market – I just had such a nice day (and amazingly my dodgy knees seem to have held up ok – rather expected not to be able to walk the rest of the weekend). All went so well, I rather wish I had signed up for today’s market too!
Apologies for poor quality photos – I didn’t want to take my posh camera.
I didn’t need to make much more stock for the market, but made a couple of vinyl/oilcloth bags as they seem to go down well and a few more cards:
What’s more, it is a bank holiday long weekend, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the wisteria in the garden looks gorgeous alongside the apple blossom…what my friend Annika would describe as a ‘blooming tree’…ah, fond memories of afternoon tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel with my favourite Swedish ladies.
*I reckon all that running around hiding chocolate eggs (without eating them) is bound to keep the Easter bunny skinny!
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:
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:
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?
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?
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.
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…
…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)
…and when I made him stop, he decided to read the paper, and really got in to it!
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!
I also made some shortbread hearts and split them between Mark and our elderly next door neighbour…sharing the love (and the calories!).
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!)
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.
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.
I also made a little zip coin purse/makeup bag – the fabric is just too pretty to need any embellishment!
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).
My first craft fair was really good fun, and I learnt a lot. I hope most craft fairs will have larger tables, but I have learnt not to overload whatever size table I have. I sold quite a bit at the fair and more in the online shop, but had got a bit carried away making stock, so still have some to refill the virtual shelves in my online shop.
Amongst the stock there are lots of Christmas stockings…
and Christmas tree decorations…
I generally post first class, but am happy to upgrade to courier service to be sure gifts reach you before Christmas – send me a message and I will let you know the additional postage cost and expected delivery time. Do go and have a look! Deerey Me Etsy shop.