the difference a bit of sunshine makes

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)

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 054

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 058

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 065

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 068

etsy 15 may 2014 - 069

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 079

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 094

etsy 15 may 2014 - 098

etsy 15 may 2014 - 102

The cats have been enjoying the sunshine too…

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etsy 15 may 2014 - 2696

…and so have Mark and I, with a visit to Lacock Abbey!

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Lacock 16 may 2014 - 219


More photos in Deere Diary!



ta dah!

Just a quick post – the lovely people at Making magazine chose my dalek pincushions as the winning entry for this week’s Monday Makes! I have been getting Making for a little while now (since Sue in my old office recommended it) and have sneakily been waiting for a good subscription offer. Last month’s issue offered a huge bundle of sewing goodies; really useful things like shears and pinking shears and a number of large reels of extra strong thread and…well you get the picture…so I took the plunge and took out a subscription (you don’t need to subscribe to enter the weekly competition on Facebook). I have entered a few things in the weekly competition on the Making Facebook page and was really delighted to win this week. I know it’s just a weekly Facebook competition, but it means a lot to me!

While I am here, I have made a few more things:

Christmas cards with robins…

robin Christmas card
robin Christmas card

I like the way the fabric frays a little around the edges; rather like feathers I think.

robin detail
robin detail


glove cats and dogs (not in the shop, as I can’t CE mark them as have not yet been able to track down reasonably priced gloves with EN71-3 dye data – if anyone knows of a suitable manufacturer, do let me know!)…

glove cats and dogs
glove cats and dogs

and a couple more linen zip pouch bags with round trees and little bird buttons…

green tree, red birds
green tree, red birds
green tree, white birds
green tree, white birds


I also made a child’s apron with a flower pot pocket and a white daisy growing out of it – will take photos tomorrow.



some like it hot…

Some like it hot…and some don’t. I am one of the latter. Don’t get me wrong, I like sunshine as much as the next (wo)man; I just don’t like it hot. Give me a cold, icy day with blue skies and sunshine and long Winter shadows and I am as happy as a pig in  muck. Once the temperature gets much above 20C, I start to wilt and with temperatures at the moment closer to 30C, I turn in to the wicked witch of the west country – bad attitude and cries of “I’m melting, I’m melting!”

Everything is taking me longer than usual, but I have been surprised to find that keeping making things takes my mind off the far too hot weather and reduces my whingeing. So I have been quite busy…

1) a herd of seahorses. Actually, ‘herd’ is far too dull a word for seahorses. I understand they move through water through the undulation of their dorsal fin, so I reckon the collective noun should be an undulation of seahorses. What do you think?

an undulation of seahorses
an undulation of seahorses

I think I will add ribbon loops to the seahorses so they can be hung in wardrobes or from doorhandles. Good idea?

2) I have also returned to the granny’s flower garden patchwork we did with Scrapiana at the Bath WI craft workshop. I sew the little hexagons made from Liberty of London lawn by hand which means I can sit in the living room with Mark and nod and smile as he tells me what England has to do to beat Australia at cricket (I understand cricket about as well as I understand Mandarin). At the workshop we sewed together seven hexagons (I used some of Scrapiana’s Kaffe Fassett fabric) which back home I turned in to a pincushion. I use it all the time, and thought it might be something other people might like too. This one I backed with my favourite sage green cotton with white polka dots (it came from a Bath pop-up shop, and I will be very sad once it has all been used up).

Liberty lawn granny's flower garden pincushion
Liberty lawn granny’s flower garden pincushion

3) while I had the Liberty fabric to hand, I decided to make a little pencil case too…

Liberty lawn pencil case
Liberty lawn pencil case


4) …and to add another piece of granny’s flower garden patchwork to a larger bag (for make-up or, in my case, sewing machine bobbins). I love this purple fabric, printed with script and highlights of twinkling gold. Don’t try telling me that ‘all that glisters is not gold’, I am a total magpie for anything sparkly.

granny's flower garden make-up purse
granny’s flower garden make-up purse


Determined to open my shop this week

Now then, I am determined to sew my heart out Monday and Tuesday and then spend Wednesday and Thursday (and maybe Friday) working out prices and postage and taking product photos so I can open an shop at the end of the week! I think it only right to celebrate with a giveaway; just need to decide what…


when life deals you lemons make…strawberry gin?

Let me start with the excuses…I need you to feel my pain:

  1. the cats woke me up at 04.00 and I couldn’t get back to sleep so I have been tired all day;
  2. pollen levels are high so I have had itchy eyes that just want to shut and not look at sewing (my near vision is pretty rubbish and I have to either wear quite strong glasses or have surgery to make my arms longer)
  3. my tinnitus has been reminding me it’s there (I generally just ignore it, like it were a petulant child)
  4. all weekend I have been thinking about digging out my fabric paints and painting Captain Frederick Wentworth on a piece of calico and turning it in to  a small coin purse…and…well…let’s say it didn’t exactly go to plan!

I was quietly painting, with the patio doors open, listening to Radio 4 when there was a sort of clanking noise, then a swooshing noise and then a jolly voice called hello as he shut my patio doors from the outside and started cleaning the windows. Seconds later the doorbell rang and Mark’s dad was there wanting to pick up some wood from the garage. As I fetched the garage key, the Waitrose delivery driver turned up (we don’t usually have Waitrose deliveries, but there’s an offer of £75 off, split over 4 lots of shopping, so we felt we had to really).

I returned to finish my painting and realised that not only was it too big (I’m telling you, not even Bill Gates has enough small change to fill a purse that size!) but that the edges of the painting were too close to the edge of the fabric to fit the zip. Ah ha, thought I, I will just sew on a contrasting border…so by then my small coin purse was looking more like an overnight bag. It was at this point I should just have stopped, realised it was a hopeless case and gone and weeded the front garden instead…but no, I carried on. The zip I had intended to use was now too small for the bag, and too pale for the border…but never fear, I have a longer zip…in bottle green! I valiantly sewed in the zip, only to find the lining edge was far too high…but of course only on one side, just to make it really obvious. Having got so far, I thought I might as well iron the horrid thing. It was at that point I realised that Capt Wentworth had the look of a grumpy zombie and even if Anne Elliot’s eyesight were as bad as mine, she wouldn’t be running off to sea with him.

It may be a mistake but I am going to show you my nasty, horrid, over-sized coin purse. You see, I think honesty matters. If I pretend that everything I touch turns to gold, you probably won’t believe me anyway, so here I am confessing that sometimes my best plans turn out to be total pants (that’s UK terminology, not US). What I do promise is that I will never try to sell anything that turns out pants!

purse or pants?
purse or pants?
the bag from hell
the bag from hell


So, feeling the need to cheer myself up with something I could make I grabbed the cheap 70cl bottle of gin that had come in the Waitrose delivery and a 450g punnet of strawberries, chopped the strawberries and tipped them them with 150g of caster sugar in to a large lidded jug, on to which I glugged the gin and stirred well.

strawberry gin
strawberry gin

Unlike the flavoured vodka I make at Christmas for gifts (see, it is worth being my friend!), the strawberry gin infuses in just a few days and by the weekend I will be able to sit in the garden at sunset, glass of gin in hand, warmed by the glow of a Jane Austen theme overnight bag/coin purse burning in the chiminea…



my first ever granny square (well, squarish)

Bath WI crochet workshop

The Bath WI strikes again with a cracking craft workshop! Today we had three hours’ beginners’ crochet at Bath’s premier knitting and wool emporium, ‘Wool‘. Our teach, Sara, could not have been better or nicer – and even provided us with delicious cupcakes made by her talented niece. I think Sara’s middle name must be Patience…it took three attempts just to get me to tie a slip knot! Once I got going, I thought I was doing quite well…until I realised that my ‘square’ already had six corners and I still had a little way to go on that round. Sara undid a bit and pointed out where I had gone wrong – but in a way that made me feel like I was actually doing really well (a wonderful talent for a teacher). I didn’t even finish all four rounds and found at the end of the class I had missed three trebles on round two. So my square is not exactly square and my tension was a little tight, making it a very small…but I came home inspired (and with a bag full of yarn to continue practising!). I sat down straight away and made another square. It was so much quicker and, although not perfect, is a great improvement on my first square.

I confess I was tempted to only show you the second square, but I am going to be brave and show you my first attempt too – in months to come it will give me a measure of my improvement (and will give my readers a good laugh!)

my first granny 'square'
my first granny ‘square

Compare and contrast…

before and after
before and after

I am rather keen to make a blanket…and will share photos (in a year or two…)



Mark’s colleague, Shelley, suggested my book bags would benefit from a pocket. I think she is right so have been experimenting with inserting pockets fitting flush in the lining. I have done a few with button fastenings, but wanted to remind myself about inserting zips. Is it sad to enjoy fitting zips? Anyway, I went a bit zip mad and thought a small purse would be a nice way to use some London themed fabric I had in my stash. I then found some London bus charms…synchronicity!

London coin purse
London coin purse
purse detail
purse detail

The purse was fun to make and I now have an urge to do some fabric painting to turn in to more purses. How strange it is to spend a Sunday evening looking forward to starting work on Monday morning!


lavender’s blue…dilly dilly

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender’s green
When you are king, dilly dilly,
I shall be queen

I have long enjoyed making lavender bags and had stashed away packs of purchased lavender and pots of flowers harvested last Summer from the lavender in our own garden. I decided I should amalgamate it all and wanted it to look nice.

lavender jar
lavender jar

The jar is described as an extra large biscotti jar, and I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t prefer it to be full of biscotti, but the lavender is far less damaging to my diet, and I do love the little scoop! I do so like things to be both practical and pretty…!