Monday, 23 March 2009

Bags upon bags...

Last week was Bag Making Week. I literally didn't stop, and every time I'd finish one I found that I'd found the whole bag making process so delightful that I'd pick up the next set of pattern pieces and recommence sewing immediately.

There's something so satisfying about seeing a bag come together. Two of them are being posted off to their new owners this afternoon and the rest will go into my shop when I've taken proper photos of them, written descriptions of them, and then persuaded Mr Teacakes to give up an evening to load them on to my site for me...it could take some time!

These coat hooks are normally a source of frustration as, for such a simple item, they fail to do an adequate job of retaining what's just been hooked on them...but horay, they are such good bag holders! So here are two more...

Baggage aside, let me tell you about this wonderfully named Dragon Fruit, whose strange tough outer skin is indeed reminiscent of a dragon's, or at least the flames that he might breath. I bought some of these for the Teacakes purely because of their name (yes, I'm a sucker for good marketing) and they loved them...

...until Mr Teacakes came home and said that the insides reminded him of Frogspawn...which made us considerably less enamoured with them. Either way, definitely worth trying.

So many other lovely things to blog about, but somehow so little time, so I shall be back soon. This afternoon, as well as a trip to the post office (I mourn the local one that closed down every time I go to do this errand), holds the making of more bags and who knows what other sorts of fun.

Wishing you all a happy Monday. x

Thursday, 19 March 2009

New storage

A couple of posts ago I'd asked how you store your fabrics as I was desperate for some new storage...well, I found my dream piece of furniture: this 1940s drapers unit (below) on the website for Castle Gibson - a shop (although I think the shop bit has now closed down) that we used to visit regularly when we lived in London. I imagined backing each glass window with a fabric that hinted at what colours might be found inside. I had conjured up the smell of varnish and musty oldness that would be disturbed each time a drawer was taken out. I had even had visions of myself listening to classical music in its presence (this doesn't happen very often). For it is one of those pieces of furniture that would make you feel special every time you were near it and, in my imagination, would require its owner to be a picture of serenity and sophistication. And then Mr Teacakes said that I could have it (I can't think of anything he's ever actually said I can't have, which is very clever as well as lovely, for the minute his permission has been granted, an impetuous desire to burn money is overtaken by being Mrs Sensible). Guilt somehow got between spending an obscene amount of money and the drapers cabinet being in our bedroom...and so I said 'no thank you...I would very much like some budget drawers from Ikea instead'.

(Photo by Castle Gibson)

So a day of flat packing has been and gone (I actually enjoyed it, and found it very satisfying to spend a day feeling competent with a hammer for once after my recent disasters). But as you might expect, having imagined a whole new life involving a draper's cabinet, there is a small mental leap to be taken before one can be truly overjoyed at being in possession of two sets of rather utilitarian white drawers from Ikea. But I think in this case the happiness has come in the using. I went for drawers in the end because I knew that I work too messily to cope with shelves...it would be too upsetting when I disrupted a whole pile of neatly folded fabrics every time I wanted to look at something from mid-pile. This way I can easily flick through and select fabrics in the same way that I remember seeing my father do with his vast collection of LPs.

As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, the pink drawer is rather full. The others are divided into solids:


Blues & browns:
Felts, yellows and greens:

Oooh! And that then leaves a whole four other drawers for interfacings, findings, pattern pieces, cutting mats, and the wrapping and packaging for Made by Florence things.

The magnetic board above the drawers is also from Ikea. I have some fabric that I'm hoping to cover it in, but am still feeling cornerish about how the metal will react to the staple gun, so am postponing finding out by having a think about the alternative attachment techniques for one not in possession of a hot glue gun. The other change that I have planned is for my sewing desk. I oiled my old school desk regularly and so never had to worry about water marks from cups, but this desk came waxed by its previous owner and I wasn't sure how to redo it...and so it has been upsetting to find that even the slightest drop of water leaves a mark. So my local glaziers are currently cutting and polishing a sheet of glass for me, and I am busy pondering what fabric or paper I might want beneath the glass. I'd thought of doing this a while ago, but had worried that it might be costly...but I was amazed to find that my piece of glass will cost less than £20...which only makes me worry that resurfacing is such an affordable activity that I may just cover every horizontal surface of the house in this way.

Yes, I know I'd originally said I'd only got an alcove to play with, and somehow I now seem to have a whole sewing wall. It has involved moving my wardrobe into a place that I'm not entirely happy with - but the sewing happiness to be had from having one's fabrics easily accessible far outweighs how irksome this is.

So this week I have been on a bag making spree - here are some of the pattern pieces laid out and ready to be sewn up a couple of days ago - two are now finished and I have one still to make up. I have also been listening to some new music after discovering Last FM...which asks what your favourites bands and musicians are and then suggests similar artists and creates your own personalised radio station of music. I am thinking that Joshua Radin has a rather dreamy voice - apparently he found fame after this song was featured on an episode of Scrubs.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Birthday goodness

This bowl is similar to one that I have long been coveting whenever I visit my sister's house - I can't quite describe what it is that I love about it, but it seems to me to possess essence of bowly perfection. It is one of my lovely birthday presents from my mother. The gorgeous pink boxes inside are face creams. For as well as eyeballing my sister's possessions, I sometimes find that when I'm in conversation with my mother I end up staring at the side of her face, rather than concentrating on what she's saying (which must make me scintillating company, not to mention appear more than a little odd, but luckily she has to love me whatever), for it is so unbelievably smooth and soft-looking. So when she asked me what I would like for my birthday, I asked for some of her staple Rosa Fina cream in the hope that I might end up with some of her peachy loveliness. I don't normally keep things in their boxes...but these are too nice to discard.

You may or may not recognise what Mr Teacakes' cake is this year...so for those of you that don't, it's a cake-incarnation of one of my teabag holders (actually very much like this one that I first made around the time of my birthday last year), fortunately with butter cream and sponge in the place of dried herbs. He also chose some beautiful fabrics and had them sent over from Holland for me - I can never believe quite how well he knows what prints are likely to appeal to me.

And what a lovely surprise to find, in with his order, this gorgeous handmade tag from Noor. Her shop is one of my absolute favourites that I spend far too long browsing in (and Ian, with his now extensive knowledge of Internet fabric shops from years of birthday and Christmas shopping, declared it to have the nicest selection of fabrics he'd ever seen).

My sister, as well as other bits of loveliness (wonderful Halva brought all the way home from a recent trip to Israel - one of my favourite things to eat, but the Sunita varieties available in this country don't compare to the real thing that we ate as children), sent me this card, which I fell in love with the minute I opened the envelope. I'm hoping to buy a frame for it this week.

This evening though, I finally got around to looking up the website on the back of the card in the hope that some bigger prints might be available...but when I read the 'about' section on the website I may have temporarily stopped breathing such was the awe that struck me. For I wouldn't have guessed that the amazing range of prints, including mine, was created using fabrics and a sewing machine. At first I thought that it must be refering to a different range of cards that I hadn't yet seen, but when I looked closely (Dinosaur-boy's bug-catching magnifying glass was involved) I could see that, indeed, the ribs of her tights, the creases in her dress and the shape of her shoes was actually created using tiny rows of stitching on a background of delicious fabrics, mixed with a little bit of paint here and there. It takes applique and textile pictures (or art in this case) to a level that I hadn't even begun to imagine and leaves me feeling quite dizzy. And yes, as well as being able to applique like that (but is it applique? I'm still mystified), I would also very much love to own the dress, tights and shoes of the girl in the picture. For more jaw-dropping stitchery cleverness do go and look at the Gwendolen website.