I have long been meaning to try a few applique/embroidery pictures of buildings. I had initially intended to start with our own humble home, but after recently visiting Prince Charles’ residence of Highgrove I felt inspired to set my sights a little higher. Photography is understandably not allowed in the grounds of Highgrove House and, although I loved every minute of the tour, I was itching to record the place somehow…and so here is my first building portrait (I don’t think my beach hut pictures and bags count!).
This is the view along thyme walk (the thymes having been planted by HRH Prince Charles himself, our guide informed us!). I really loved making this picture and my head is full of ideas for more!
The gardens at Highgrove are amazing – each ‘room’ has a different feel and the attention to detail is incredible. What I wouldn’t give to be allowed free reign to wander around the gardens one early morning with my camera…!
Happiness is…dropped feed dogs and a darning foot….oh and a garden!
My lovely other half has an alluring way of softly asking, “can we do a card for my dad…my brother…my god-daughter…?” I do love his use of the word ‘we’. It is a team effort, I sit at the sewing machine and create and he…ummm…well he watches sport on tv. When I question this, he asks whether I would rather be the one watching sport…and, well, I don’t, so I guess he really is doing me a favour!
I am not really complaining; I really enjoy a bit of free motion machine thread-drawing.
My other love is outside in the garden:
The pots and hanging baskets are bright and colourful.
The cosmos I sewed is finally coming in to flower.
My old blue strawberry planter never did well with strawberry plants…or herbs…or anything, but now the sempervivum (houseleeks) have decided that it is the perfect home and are thriving!
The dwarf sunflowers have taken a long time to flower (too much shade from the trees, I suspect) but are now showing their finery.
Even the aubergines are in flower!
The tomatoes are huge – just need them to turn red now.
Our cats have the cleanest paws on the street!
Oh and the cylcamen are flowering (which makes it feel rather Autumnal)
Our wild area is coming along nicely – lots of flowers for the bees and butterflies. We still have a lot of turf to dig up to sew our wildflower meadow, but we’ll get there eventually.
Max the cat has the softest, fluffiest tummy in the known universe!
The apples are nearing ripeness…
…and finally, the new solar fairy lights work a treat!
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉
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.
It was my birthday this week and although a hip and knee arthritis exercise and pain management class might not be everyone’s favourite way to spend their birthday, it was pretty good…and dinner at The Circus restaurant in the evening was totally awsome!
I have not been sewing. Mark had a week off – although he had to go in on Friday so swapped days and is off today instead (I did try to wait for him to wake up so we could have hot cross buns and coffee together, but it is past 10.00 and I have been up since 06.00 and there is still snoring upstairs and I neeeeeeeded a hot cross bun). We have had lots of exciting trips out…to the dentist (perfect teeth and gums, although I am not one to brag!) and hip and knee pathway physio assessment – really hoping that the 6 week course on exercise and pain management will at least postpone any surgery. We have done some fun things too though! We had been waiting for our council tax bill to renew our discovery cards (the only bill with both our names on it) and made the most of some time off to pop in to the Roman Baths to renew our cards. Of course we then had to make the most of them and go and be tourists somewhere.
the Fashion Museum in Bath
One of the many lovely things about living in Bath is that a week off can be a proper holiday (or holibob, as my friend Hannah would say) without going away at all. There is an exhibition of Georgian fashions at the Fashion Museum and Mark was more keen to see that than the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum. It is a lovely fashion exhibition and the museum encourages one of my favourite pastimes…dressing up! I was a little too full of breakfast (the Roscoff Deli in Northumberland Place does awesome breakfasts!) to risk bursting one of the corsets, but the bonnets seemed a safe choice. I rather like bonnets, whether the simple Amish ones at the American Museum or the more decorative ones at the Fashion Museum. What do you think?
Mark almost fitted in to a dress coat and top hat..
the Assembly Rooms
Fashion Museum is situated with the beautiful Assembly Rooms, and we felt the need to remind ourselves of them. It is one of those places where I am so aware of ghosts from the past who walked there before me. I am a big fan of Jane Austen and my favourite book is Persuasion and I cannot help but daydream about Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth as I wander from room to room. There are very fine chandeliers, although of course not electric in Jane Austen’s day.
We also managed to fix our new raised beds in place and have top soil delivered to fill them. My dodgy old knees limit what I can do, but Mark’s mum and dad came to help and I found I was ok to shovel top soil in to wheelbarrows…so I did pull my weight! Mark displayed a very fine ‘builder’s bum’…one might even say it was cracking…but I will be made to sleep in the shed if I so much as think about sharing a photo, so I will leave that charming image only in your mind dear reader.
I suspect the cats think we have built extra large litter trays, but never mind.
pom pom Easter bunnies
So…no sewing, but I have been making pom poms! We popped in to Wool in Bath and the lovely ladies there advised me on good value wool for pom pom making, and I tried out my Clover pom pom makers. Now there is nothing wrong with the old way of using two circles of card, but these do make it quicker and easier.
With a little felt and some beads, I soon had a number of Easter bunnies. I am not going to sell them (always wary of the fine line between ornament and toy and the need for CE marking), but thought they would make sweet (calorie-free) Easter gifts. I will pop a simple tutorial in my newsletter, which is going out this week – you can sign up on my Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/DeereyMe/app_100265896690345
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.
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…
Max the cat also wanted to enjoy the steamer chair!
Of course, as well as painting, a sunny weekend calls for a camera…sorry, there is no escape from my photos!
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!
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