Summer Holidays 2012…

It’s been a lovely holiday so far. ¬†I feel guilty for not blogging much, but I often find myself in that trap where you have left it so long, there is almost too much to write about so it’s a bit daunting and you don’t know where to start. ¬†I’ve also been a bit lapse with my images since getting an upgrade on my phone at Christmas (thanks to my husband) that takes half decent photos, it means I tend to use this instead of reaching for my ‘proper’ camera and although the images are fine, they aren’t nearly as good as ones taken with the Nikon.

Anyhow, here’s a little round-up so far:

The Olympics were amazing, we had a fabulous day out with swimming in the morning (second row back!!) and athletics in the evening (again, great seats, I assume because we bought them last minute and they were the ones originally reserved for ‘important people’, who didn’t use them).

We spent the middle part of the day hanging about the wild flower meadows which were just amazing, and generally soaking up the atmosphere. ¬†I wont go on, you either managed to get tickets and know how fabulous it was, or you didn’t and probably don’t need me telling you what you missed. ¬†I would say, though, it is absolutely worth getting tickets for the Paralympics, or even just park entrance for the day to walk about. ¬†I felt very proud to be British.

Which brings me to this photo. ¬†Whilst in Yorkshire, on our holidays, I couldn’t help but notice the local news was all about Yorkshire athletes and how they were doing in the Olympics, there was even a mock medals table of how Yorkshire would stand if it were a country, ha ha that did make me laugh!

When we visit, we stay in a family cottage in Burnsall (a small village between Bolton Abbey, where our family farm is, and Grassington, where my Mum’s family all live). ¬†A teeny tiny village near Burnsall is Hebden, which is where Andrew Triggs-Hodge¬†is from so we took the obligatory ‘gold post box’ shot, painted to celebrate his gold medal win.

We had a great break in Yorkshire and were generally very lucky with the weather. ¬†We spent a huge amount of time driving ‘Up Dale’ towards Kettlewell (in¬†Upper Wharfedale), the thing that I became rather obsessed about were the wildflowers. ¬†I always notice how many there are when we are home, but as you travel further up, the limestone and farming schemes (where farmers are paid to leave the meadows to a later date before cutting, to allow the wild flowers to grow and re-seed) mean you can’t miss the beautiful flowers.

I kept meaning to stop and take photos of the roadside ones, and probably drove M mad commenting on this, the problem being the roads are quite narrow and often you are in a convoy of cars following a tractor/bus/person-driving-at-stupidly-slow-speeds, so stopping for me to run out with the camera was very impractical.

One day we drove right over the tops to visit The Forbidden Corner in Leyburn and met these lovely highland cattle lounging around on the road. 

The Forbidden Corner is on my top 10 list of things to visit, it’s quite a drive from where we stay but is the best folly garden I have ever visited. ¬†It’s great for all ages, with mazes, castles, gardens and (a bit scary for small ones) quite extensive underground tunnels with multiple doors leading to different ‘scenes’. ¬†I especially liked all the metalwork sculptures. ¬†I am cross I didn’t take more photos, but we were too busy enjoying ourselves. ¬†You can see plenty on google images¬†here.

We made time to eat in Bettys twice, once in Harrogate and once in Ilkley, a record for us.  I normally just buy lots of fat rascals and bread from the shop area, as the long queues to eat there put me off, we were lucky as there were none at the time we arrived.  I am especially fond of the smoked salmon rosti, ideally with a glass if pink champagne.  C enjoyed his butter biscuit for pudding. 

There was the obligatory breakfast in bed for M’s birthday. ¬†As with earlier years this has to be a simple breakfast as M usually chooses a super long bike ride as his birthday treat, followed by a celebration late lunch so can’t eat too much first thing in the morning. ¬†This year it was omelette and the tray HAS to be decorated with a Lego Hero and flowers picked from the small cottage garden (always chives as that’s all there is in bloom when we stay!).

And of course, there had to be a visit to Fents¬†in Skipton for fabric. ¬†I find Fents very hit or miss, the same supplier of the tweed I buy also supplies them I’ve noticed. ¬†The very first year I went there was loads of tweed but it’s been a bit sparse since, with less tweed choice, and often ones I’ve already bought on-line.

I managed a couple of long walks, on one F even came with me, shame it was the one day it absolutely tipped it down, but he did well with only minimal moaning and the promise of goodies when we got back.

Apart from hanging about in Grassington and Bolton Abbey, we also visited¬†Ilkley Lido,¬†White Scar Cave,¬†Harrogate,¬†Harewood House¬†to name but a few. ¬†There is never enough time, I find, but that’s often the way of holidays.

M took this photo on our return, it’s my post pile verses his…yes, I did have a few things on order, mainly fabric and zips but I’ll save that for the next post ūüôā

Give away: Mr Monster…

I have a little Monster Purse with very wonky ears. ¬†I’d meant to do a give away when I did my recent post about the replenished (and now nearly gone!) monster purses but I forgot. ¬†So here he is. ¬†Usual rules, just leave a comment to be in with a chance, I’m happy to post worldwide and I’ll pick the winner on Sunday 26th August.

That’s all ūüôā


Just call me Mrs Over-reaction…

Just had this pin brought to my attention (thanks F!).

easy bird ornaments | felt and tweed circles, felt beaks, a little stuffing, some beads and ribbon for rest.

The comment above is the tag below the pin and it has been re-pinned all over the place, it took me nearly an hour of slightly obsessive trawling to find the original pin, where the ‘tutorial’ note was added (the very original pinner just has ‘birdies’ under the image, which is fine). ¬†I know, I know, life’s too short, I should have better things to do etc, but this does really p*ss me off. ¬†I’m good for people re-pinning my photos/work, if they simply link to the original page/image and there’s a note of the designer (me!) but this makes me worry people think this is originally a tutorial so it’s fine to copy the design. ¬†It’s not. ¬†I work hard to make a living from my designs and this just seems a bit mean and not very responsible pinning.

Oh well. ¬†I’m sure my momentary crossness will pass. ¬†Where’s the wine.

UPDATE: So the pinner who added the making comments has removed them on her board and apologised Рfair enough, I respect her doing that.   Shame all the re-pins still feature in so many tutorial boards and the pin comments added stay there.

It’s brought up some interesting responses (thanks everyone!) about the love/hate relationship of Pinterest. ¬†I do pin….about as well as I tweet (so hardly ever) and I don’t have a problem with pinning in general as long as people credit the designer very clearly in the image title. ¬†I feel the same way about images being used in blogworld, let’s face it, it’s all good publicity….at least it is if done responsibly but that’s the problem I guess, everyone’s idea of responsible pinning is different and let’s face it many people couldn’t care less about the original pin source.

To pin or not to pin….that is the question!


Well thank god for that! ¬†Well done ladies, thought we might never get a gold. ¬†I’ve just screamed my head off at the screen. Fabulous job.

We’re off to watch the swimming and athletics on Friday, all tickets bought within the last week, as new ones were released. ¬†Makes a bit of a mockery all that time we spent months ago trying to get a ticket, ANY ticket. ¬†So pleased we get to go though, I even spent this morning making a little brooch to wear.

Oh and then we’re off on our holidays ūüôā

Awards and big thank you…

This post has been a long time coming, it really has.

So, way back in March, I was lucky to have the ABC award passed along to me by Tales of Mrs H¬†(you can see the original post here and Nikki writes a lovely blog so do please pop over and visit her). ¬†Since then, I have also been very lucky to have the Sunshine Award passed along by Beth of Beth Butcher¬†(this post) and the lovely Mia of HandmadebyMia (this post) again, lovely ladies with fab blogs so do please click the links if you don’t know them already.

Thank you ladies, it’s lovely you thought to pass these along to me.

As I’m worried this post is going to be very long, I am just going to address the¬†ABC award questions. ¬†I couldn’t decide the best way to do this, I was tempted to do the ‘things about me’ version, as expected, but it would just be full of the usual: Orla Kiely & Chie Mihara addiciton….need to lose 2 stone, etc, etc, which I think you’ve heard before, so I thought I’d do a more practical one with my ‘top tips’ for sewing. ¬†Here we go…

Art pencils.  I use pale coloured soft drawing pencils (in my case odd ones left over from my art college days) for marking out all patterns on tweed and felt, instead of tailors chalk.  It stays a little bit longer on the fabric, gives a finer line and is easily removed with a light brushing.

Bernina. ¬†My sewing machine is a Bernina 1001 and is now over 15 years old, I bought it when I was a student and it cost ¬£400, ex-display, a small fortune back then but it’s more than proved it’s worth. ¬†I also have a Bernina overlocker (a 1150), again it was expensive but I felt worth it. ¬†It’ll always be a Bernina for me.

Cut straight! ¬†Not a tip, more of a moan. ¬†If you are a fabric supplier, please, please, please cut your fabric with a straight line across. ¬†I could cry the number of times I’ve bought a yard/meter of fabric to find a fantastic slant of over 2 inches in the square across. ¬†If, like me, you plan and make the most of every tiny scrap, finding one side 2 inches short is really annoying. ¬†I’m amazed how often it happens.

Dylon Dyes. ¬†They are great for direct dyeing or even mixing colours to get the exact shade you want, just make sure you do a ‘mini’ dye test using the same ratio of dye powder you plan to use for the final fabric. ¬†I spent ages getting the right shade of red for my red riding hood mice, but is was so worth it!

Eraser pens, my favourite being the air erasable pen by Clover.  Love them and use them every day, but goodness they are expensive.

Fiskars Scissors. ¬†A habit from my college days when we were expected to buy a pair, at great cost, and try desperately hard to keep them sharp. ¬†It’s super important that you only ever use fabric scissors for cutting fabric. ¬†I have various pairs of scissors (the oldest 2 being from college – so over 15 years old!!) with different coloured tapes so I can see which is which easily, and I use an old pair when cutting thicker things, heavy tweed or synthetics, such as inter-lining, so as to keep my best pair super sharp. ¬†The boys know they are NEVER to borrow any orange handled scissors for any reason.

Garibaldi, as in biscuits.  I just like that word, it has nothing to do with sewing.  I remember Victoria Wood once talking about how some words are just funny when used in her scripts and Garibaldi (which is a biscuit, we used to call them squashed fly biscuits when we were kids because they are full of currants) is one of those words.  I can only ever imagine it being said by someone from Acorn Antiques, probably Mrs Overall.

Hoover. ¬†Actually a Dyson, but I was getting a bit desperate to find any ¬†‘H’ in the sewing room. I have one permanently plugged in and Hoover up often. ¬†The amount of fluff created by sewing drives me a bit bonkers and ever since the doctor gave me a warning when I had pneumonia last year, about making sure I keep my workspace dust free I’ve am the vacuuming queen.

Ironing.  I iron everything at every opportunity.  I have a mini Ikea ironing board and a Tefal iron that stand next to my work bench, on top of a stack of Muji draws (the board gets a yearly new cover, as above, because the old cover gets worn and faded with continuous use).  I often use a water spray bottle and an ironing cloth (which I use damp, if appropriate).  The wetness of a damp cloth gives extra steam and also stops delicate fabrics burning, allowing you to use a higher heat setting than recommended.  Incidentally, I never iron clothing or bedding, just my sewing work.  I am such a bad housewife.

Jaycotts.  I love this site, I bought my overlocker from here after some really good phone advice and I really like the service.  They often have half price pattern sales as well.

Keep writing down your method when working on new designs. ¬†It always seems like it’ll be easy to remember, but when you’ve put it away and come back to it 6 months later you’ll have forgotten most of what you did and it helps so much to have it written down. ¬†I even write down the stitch details (ie width and length) when doing fancy zig-zag, and thread colours, otherwise I have to try to work it out all over again.

Light. ¬†It’s a blessing for working in, but it’s a nightmare for your stored fabric. ¬†Although nice neat piles of fabric, colour coordinated and stacked beautifully in glass cabinets looks lovely, you will cry (I know from experience) when you come to use it and find faded lines all over. ¬†At least fold your fabric right sides together, that way any damage is on the back. ¬†The same goes for shop stock, all of mine is kept in boxes in cupboards, or under beds and often covered in light-proof paper.

Maintenance. ¬†Clean your sewing machine often. ¬†Take the plate off (if the instructions recommend it) and clear out all the fluff after EVERY long project, especially if you’re sewing something like tweed, with lots of fibers. ¬†Oh and oil it. ¬†Mine gets a drop of machine oil on the spool case carrier every so often and it makes a huge difference to how smoothly it sews, and the noise it makes.

Needles. ¬†I cannot stress enough the importance of using the correct needle and changing it regularly in your sewing machine. ¬†It’s recommended that you change it for each project. ¬†If you have skipped stitches (usually a sign that the needle is the wrong size for the project), puckering or snagged threads (too blunt and too big a needle) try changing your needle. A very quick guide is:

  • 60/8 ¬†For very fine fabrics (I rarely use this needle)
  • 70/10 ¬†For light and sheer fabrics (such as liberty tana lawn)
  • 80/12 ¬†For light to medium fabrics, such as cotton, linen etc. ¬†I use so many of these that I buy them in bulk – 100 at a time
  • 90/14 ¬†For medium to heavier weight fabrics such as linen, wool, cord, denim
  • 100/16 ¬† For heavy denim, tweed, inserting zips through multiple layers etc
  • 110/18 You’re probably getting the idea here but these are for super heavy fabrics ((I rarely use this needle size)

And whilst we’re on a needle rant – you need to use the appropriate thread, it’s no good trying to use a heavy cotton on a 60/8 needle, it’ll simply be too thick and will fray at the needle eye and create a very dodgy stitch. I wont bother talking about ballpoint or twin needles, there’s loads of info to be found on the internet.

Organise. ¬†I share my studio with the boys, half for me and half for their playroom (this is a new arrangement, it used to be my studio and the spare room). ¬†I have to be quite organised to make the most of the space, I have loads of big¬†Muji storage boxes, they hold most of my fabric, and lots of my stock and I also like using their little storage draws for things like cotton reels. ¬†Another favourite are empty glass GU pudding pots. ¬†Annoyingly they changed the design a while ago and the new ones don’t stack so well, but they are still good and any excuse to eat a GU pudding.

Patterns and paper.  Yet another habit from my college days but I use brown paper for all my pattern cutting (especially when cutting clothes/costume patterns), which I buy on the roll, as I also use it for postal packaging.  I tend to cut multiple versions of a pattern so I can place the pieces to get the best out of a length of fabric and I write my making notes on them, if needed.  Oh and I use a 2B (soft) pencil to transfer patterns onto most fabric, or tailors chalk, or white art pencils (as in A), depending on the fabric.

Quality. ¬†It really does pay to buy the best you can afford, I think. ¬†As above, the Bernina sewing machines are expensive but if you consider how long I expect mine to last, I think the cost is worth it. ¬†The same applies for the Fiskars scissors and, I’d say, for most things. ¬†I favour good threads, fabrics and notions. ¬†I will always seek out a bargain, of course, but if I’m going to spend hours making a purse, for instance, then I want it to have a quality zip that will last.

Ribbonmoon.  My very favourite supplier for haberdashery.  It can be a bit of a trawl to find what you want here (there is almost too much choice) but they stock so much more than any other on-line store and the postal costs are nice and low.

Stamps. ¬†I buy stamps in bulk and weigh most parcels at home and stamp accordingly, that way I don’t have to make daily trips to the post office to send orders out, they can simply be popped into the post box on my school run. ¬†Also I use PIP (pricing in proportion) boxes where I can, so most things go as ‘large letters’ and not small packages, this makes a huge difference since Royal Mail put their prices up.

Threads. ¬†I use loads of different kinds. ¬†I favour Gutterman sew-all for lightweight fabrics, but I like a cotton thread where possible and my very favourite is Coats ‘Tre Cerchi’ (mercerized cotton). ¬†This replaced what used to be called ‘Sylko’ in the olden days and it is fantastic for creating a tight zig-zag when needed and for top stitching as well as sewing heavier fabrics. ¬†It is a slightly bulkier thread though so you do need to be using it on the correct fabric and with the correct machine needle.

Unpicker. ¬†I recently replaced my unpicker, the one I’d been using I’ve had for years and wow what a difference! ¬†It hadn’t occurred to me that mine was old and blunt until I tried the new one, which practically glided through the stitches I needed to unpick.

Vilene interlining. ¬†I use loads and why, oh why can’t everyone list the bloomin’ linings but their proper Vilene name? ¬†It drives me bonkers when I come to buy new and some sites list it as, say, ‘medium sew-in’??!!! Vilene make a number of weights of sew-in, which medium are you referring to?!

Wool felt. ¬†It rocks. ¬†I only ever use 100% wool felt, I find synthetic, or even synthetic mix makes my teeth go on edge when handling it (this is just a me thing, I think, I get the same grit teeth thing when handling toy stuffing). ¬†The wool ones seem to have a sturdier feel to them and a more ‘natural’ colour which suits my projects best. ¬†They cost a bit more, but I cannot imagine every changing this choice.

X ….nope, nothing coming to mind for this one, sorry.

Y…yellow…yoyo….nope, nothing here either.

Zips. ¬†Don’t be afraid of zips, there are so many great tutorials on-line to reference how to put them in, and once you’ve done a few it’ll seem easy.

Now instead of passing these awards on, I thought I’d give a shout of thanks to all the nice people who kindly have links on their blogs pointing back here. ¬†I don’t have a blogroll so this is my way of saying thank you, I really do appreciate it. ¬†If you do link to this blog and I’ve missed you off the list, I’m really sorry, just leave me a comment and I’ll update it, but I had to put this together by hand, from checking the incoming links and it took FOREVER!