My ooobop labels have arrived!

I grumble a lot about my job as a freelance graphic designer. Mostly because it interferes with my sewing time. But I must learn to be more grateful. The perks, for me, still outweigh an employed status. Freelanceness alone means I can juggle jobs and children and blogging and sewing, all at the same time. In fact, my circus skills know no bounds. My great aunt ran away with the circus so it’s in the blood, you know. For real!

And once in a while skill sets cross over too . . .

Look what was waiting for me when I arrived home from the office last night.

A pillowy parcel oozing 500 folded self-designed, ooobop labels! Thank you Woven Labels UK! I couldn’t be more delighted if I tried!

ooobop labels package

It would be smug of me to say I designed and submitted the artwork in a blink of an eye. Which ordinarily I’ve been known to do. But I think I would be sussed by the likes of Symon Sez who knows just how hard it is to fulfil one’s own brief!

And I must add that I am also doing things back to front. I have a little blog rebrand in progress (or rather in mind) but I just couldn’t wait to see what these looked like in the mean time!

And what a pleasure to sew the first one into an almost finished skirt for my lovely and deserved friend. I can’t wait to present it to her at the end of this week. So proud 🙂

ooobop label sewn in skirt

I must also add that this is not a sponsored post. I could not big up Woven Labels any more if they paid me. Tom’s patience and understanding was untold as he had to deal with a fusspot designer. The worst kind of client for him, I’m sure. I have ordered children’s school name labels from him before but they also do craft labels and custom made designer labels. If you are looking for a real personal service and excellent quality at a great price then this is most definitely the place to go!

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My lovely secret Santa

It takes a special ornament, outside of the colour scheme of ‘no colour at all’ to earn a place on my tree. Yes I hands up to being a total control freak. Especially where my tree is concerned! They know the rules: No toilet roll decorations, no horrid coloured ornaments, and abolutely no tinsel! They respond by ceremoniously gaffa-taping Teddy Crap-Crap to the top of the tree. Teddy Crap-Crap is a rubbish, moth-eaten, hand-knitted teddy in all the rubbish colours of a wrong rainbow. He is as far removed from a fashionista fairy that you can get. They put him at the top where I can’t reach and for all my neighbours to see and point and laugh. I am mostly not amused!

But. Despite my rules of white and glass and glitter and feathers only, this year my Secret Santa gifted me the most thoughtful decoration ever.

secret santa pompom

On first inspection a lovingly hand made red pompom. On a closer second look, a lovely red pompom adorned with buttons and on asking all the right questions I get to find out that all the buttons have been lovingly hand-picked from Taylors, a 100 year old button shop in the heart of the West End of London. They are mostly vintage, 1940’s and 50s glass buttons with a couple of gilt filagree ones thrown in for good measure.

Secret Santa was amazed that I’d never heard of Taylors. I have to say, I actually, really don’t get out much. But now I know about them, They will be hearing from me, I can tell you!

If you can’t make it to the shop, you can order online, but if you just want some virtual shop therapy check out this slide show of photos from the shop. I don’t know how but it takes me there in a real floaty wannabe way!

Now I’d like to ask Secret Santa if she perhaps wove some catnip into this pompom, because Pants the cat is seriously in love with it too!

Pants the cat with pompomHe even did that funny face that boy cats (big cats included) do when they pick up on scent! What’s all that about?!

pants the cat picking up scent

Well, I have to say, its hugely unlikely that I will get a mo to post between now and the big day, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the most wonderful of Christmas wishes and of course the biggest thanks for being part of my ever growing family of fellow sewers and supporters. I love you all xxxxx

Our portrait sewn up by Harriet Riddell

Last Sunday we had the absolute pleasure of meeting artist Harriet Riddell at the Hepsibah Gallery in Hammersmith. I love having this little gallery so close to home and I love art and I love sewing so you can imagine how heavenly it was to be sitting with my nearest and dearest, chatting with the artist herself whilst she effortlessly drew us with by means of a sewing machine!

Harriet Riddell portrait

Harriet is a performance mixed media artist specialising in observational drawings in stitch. Which means she won’t copy a photo – only live subjects need apply, and therefore each and every creation is an original. Oh, and she doesn’t do dogs!

And for someone who graduated only a year or so ago, she has a pretty damned fine back catalogue already. I found it tempting to sit on the face of Jeremy Irons who was beautifully stitched into the seat of a chair and mesmerised by the Mexican dancers with their intricately decorated dresses, on the wall. One of her brilliant projects involved sitting outside in the streets of Birmingham, stitching people sat on a bike whilst they pedalled to power her sewing machine. Just how cool is that?

Of course I quizzed her:

Q: What kind of thread do you use?

A: Just the usual 50p kind from Peckham market!

Q: What is this fabulous fabric you are using?

A: Heavy weight canvas from Goldhawk Rd!

Q: Do you ever get stressed from the queues that build up on your event?

A: Sometimes!

Q: How long without sewing can you go without getting ‘scratchy’

A: About a day or two!

Q: What do you love most about what you do?

A: Travelling the world and meeting wonderful people.

Q: What fancy stitch did you use to create the detailed embroidery on the Mexican dancers’ dresses?

A: Oh I never use those. Just do it freehand!

(I can honestly vouch for her being the coolest person ever!)

Even the reverse of this artwork is beautiful. I need to source a frame with double sided glass so it’s not hidden. Any ideas?

Harriet Riddell reverse

Of course the only downside to this wonderful sitting was that now I am hugely inspired by this lovely lady and I want to venture more down the ridiculously wonderful road of freehand embroidery too. Of course I have plenty nuff hours to fill, don’t I?

You will find plenty more examples of Harriet’s fascinating creations over at Institchyou.

And I leave you with some lovely shots that Mr O took whilst our youngest daughter took the first sitting:

Harriet Riddell Harriet_Riddell_2 Harriet_Riddell_3 Harriet_Riddell_4 Harriet_Riddell_5 Harriet_Riddell_6 Harriet_Riddell_7 Harriet_Riddell_8

Scrap-bustin’ thank yous and superstitions

scrap busting thank yous and superstitions

Quality scrap-bustin’ that is! The word scrap doesn’t and shouldn’t be associated with a gorgeous piece of turquoise silk and some beautiful vintage cottons. But scrap-bustin’ it is until I think of something else!

This little zipper pouch was inspired by a combination of prompts. I often frighten myself with all the intended ‘must-have-a-go-ofs’ that lurk in the back of my brain. The first to come to the fore, was a spot of free-motion embroidery. I spotted some lovely work by @thebobbinbird on twitter and that certainly set the ball in motion. I also needed a way of saying ‘thank you’ to my colleague’s mum who kindly donated a sack load of zips to me! (I’m not kidding about the sack. I’m still bringing them home a handful at a time because they weigh a tonne!) And I have been itching, for so long, to incorporate these tiny pieces of beautiful fabric, into a worthwhile project.

butterfly pouch

Now this is of course free-motion embroidery in the loosest sense! I pinned the tangerine-print butterfly pieces to the silk, lowered the feed-dog and using Sulky metallic thread and an embroidery foot, I ‘walked’ the stitches, free style, around the butterfly wings and to draw the curly antennae. I really loved the process, as I thought I would, and I’d love to be more adventurous next time. Perhaps even incorporate the technique on a garment or two!

butterfly applique detailI love the free nature of it all. The wonky lines and the fraying edges and the grain of the fabric. Quite a relief from some of the more precise methods usually employed in dressmaking. And oh how those colours pop!

I had to use one of the millions of zips, of course! Would have been daft not to! And I covered the ends of the zip to act as stoppers and also because I had cut the length of the zip to fit.

covered ends of zip

The lining is a gorgeous vintage printed quilting cotton. Again part of another generous donation to me from a lovely friend and neighbour. I made small hand stitches around the opening edge to make sure it didn’t get caught in those rather hefty teeth!

pouch liningAnd the superstition bit? Well I’m not entirely sure how Mrs J will use this pouch. She may well use it as a purse so to be on the safe side I’m including a shiny penny to ensure good luck and prosperity. It is bad luck to give an empty one. Does anyone else do this or is it just me… and my mum who made me believe this?!

I think you may be seeing a lot of zippered projects to come. But if you have seen or employed any innovative uses recently I’d be very interested to hear about them!

zips

Lucky Lucille? Lucky Me!

This post is hugely late but nevertheless essential and heartfelt!

I won a giveaway! Oh yes, oh yes… lucky me indeed!

rochelles bag

Back in November 2012, Tilly held a sewing social on Twitter which was such a hoot! It was here that I met Rochelle and boy was I glad I did. Have you seen her blog, Lucky Lucille? I have no idea how I managed to miss that one. Her styling, her content, her beautiful photography…. not forgetting her adorable loving pupster! I could go on forever or at least until I exhaust the dictionary of gorgeous adjectives but I really think you should have a look for yourself and then add it to your favourites because it deserves to be no place else!

Anyhoos, as if finding her blog wasn’t exciting enough, in December I won a giveaway on the Lucky Lucille blog – in time for my birthday! What a treat!

The packaging was the first delight. I almost didn’t want to open it. Almost, I said. There was only the tiniest hesitation, out of politeness, before I steamed into that package knowing exactly what was inside!

Lucky Lucille packagingWanna see?!

Not only this beautiful hand made bag, made by her own fair hand…

rochelles bag

But also this amazing 40s pattern, Butterick B5281, which I have had my eye on for far too long. I can’t believe I actually have it in my own mitts now. And check out the gorgeous buttons too, as if this wasn’t spoilt behaviour enough!

butterick b5281 and buttons

I am so huuuuugely grateful Rochelle, not just for this amazingly generous giveaway gift, but for the absolute joy your blog brings!

Now go people, GO… check it out… but mind you don’t drool on your keyboard!

Secret Santa Success!

50s_shirt_peg_bag_x

I know, I know… this still isn’t anything like a tutorial for Roman Blinds.

I’m on it, honestly I am and it will happen, once I’ve get round to drawing some diagrams to accompany the words.

But for now I can reveal the only Christmassy sewing project that I managed to squeeze into my crazy real-life workload. It was a secret Santa gift for my friend at work.

The theme last year was ‘home made’ or ‘charity shop bought’. I made a selection of jams for my boss and she loved them! So when this years theme was decided as ‘red white and gold’ I was determined to make something once again.

As soon as I plucked Ness out of the hat, I knew what I was going to make for her. She recently moved house this year, and was really excited to have a garden for the first time. ‘I will be needing a peg bag and everything’, she said! I had been meaning to make one ever since she came out with that so this was the perfect prompt. She also likes all things 50s, including my blouse so the Norman Hartnell approach to the peg bag was the only way forward!

The two little white buttons with gold bicycles were sourced by Little Miss Ooobop! at a vintage fair last year and have seemingly been waiting patiently for this project!

peg bag buttons

To make the pattern, I drew a template for the back, overall shape and cut 2, one in pin dot and one lining. The front pieces are literally half of the back but allowing a couple of centimeters at the front for overlap.

I used one of my daughter’s child sized Ikea hangers. If I made this again, I would source a lovely wooden hanger so the shoulders are more horizontal and not sloping down.

She was delighted! Though the other partygoers at the opposite end of the table were a little confused. Not sure those young pups even know what a peg bag is! They just thought I’d miscalculated some measurements!

secret santa success

It was hardly a secret though. I was one of two seamstresses at the table and my poker face was rubbish!

I’m winding down from work as from tomorrow – *squeal* – and I’m really hoping to get some sewing action in before I return. Hoping it will curb my usual Christmassy eating frenzy.  Of course, that’s if 21.12.12 doesn’t prove to be the end of the world in which case we will all be eating hats!