Travel Sewing Mat – Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine Issue 35

travel sewing mat folded mat ready for travel

I’m delighted to be able to share the Travel Sewing Mat which I designed for Love Patchwork and Quilting Issue 35.  Once again that feels like such a long time ago (I sent it off in February).  But I do remember the amount of puzzling that went into getting the details just as I wanted them.  I had in mind some specific features so that it would work well as a travel sewing mat but I also wanted it to work as an everyday one too.  The first pincushion was a lovely size, if it had been stand-alone but looked enormous alongside the mat.  And I couldn’t quite work out how to make the pincushion and thread-catcher work with a fold-up mat until I came up with the plan of slotting the pincushion into the thread-catcher – it is so fun when the design starts falling into place (and a relief too given that I want to get it exactly right for the magazine!).

If you fancy making your own you’ll need to hunt down a copy of Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine Issue 35.  It’s a little fiddly in parts but not too difficult – and will take much less time than a quilt does!  Thank you to all the lovely folk at LPQ – I love the opportunity they give me to play around with fabric and thoroughly enjoy the challenge of coming up with something that is hopefully worth being featured in their beautiful magazine. It really is a huge pleasure.

What about Me Made May 2016?  Well, I have reviewed my wardrobe and existing handmade clothes and have a pretty good mental plan of where to go next but I really would like to share it all here……..I’m just struggling with time a little at the moment.  I have quite a lot going on behind the scenes with some very exciting plans for keeping myself busy once Katie starts school in August.  But it isn’t entirely down to that – the garden is calling, cooking good family food is an ever present desire, not to mention walking the dog and looking after my wee rascals (the human ones!) and, as ever, I’m always very good at getting excited about new ideas and fresh approaches and find it much harder to follow all the way through to the end!  Do you do that too?

 

 

Natural dyeing with Wild Rose Escapes

cannich and affric views

I have just spent a very special weekend learning natural dyeing with Wild Rose Escapes.  If you have looked at my Instagram photos you will have seen that I have been having a lot of fun playing with natural dyeing over the last few months.  It appeals to me very much – combining my love of the natural world (especially plants) plus wool and fabric……..with a bit of chemistry thrown in for good measure!  I love the idea of being able to create colour with natural materials, it is an age-old skill and has been carried out as long as there was fibre to add colour to.

gathered gorse flowers

gathered gorse flowers

onion skins dye bath

onion skins dye bath

yellows from onion skins and gorse

yellows from onion skins and gorse

outdoor dyeing on open fire

While I have been really enjoying my experiments at home I felt that I’d move on much more quickly with a little bit of expert help.  I’m not sure when I first became aware of Wild Rose Escapes and the courses that Rosie runs but I had a feeling that Rosie’s tuition would be perfect.  The courses are set at her home in the woods above Cannich, looking across towards Glen Affric – and best of all it less than an hour from home with the most beautiful drive from our fertile Black Isle into the heart of the Highlands.

chopped madder dye bath

chopped madder dye bath

madder mordanted with alum and rhubarb leaves

madder mordanted with alum and rhubarb leaves

madder modified with soda ash, washing soda and washing powder

madder modified with soda ash, washing soda and washing powder

Rosie is very lovely and has a great teaching manner and over the course of the 2 days we created 25 colours.  The first day we spent dyeing with materials we gathered locally and the second day we used imported dye materials – including creating an indigo dye vat which I was very excited to take part in!

Some of the colours we achieved were very bright and vivid and not really ‘me’, I much prefer more subtle and soft colours on wool, but the point of the course was to learn lots of techniques rather than produce colours suited to individual tastes.  So that will be my next challenge – to apply my new natural dyeing skills and knowledge to create colours which I love………watch this space!

logwood colour beginning to release

logwood colour beginning to release

wool naturally dyed with logwood

wool naturally dyed with logwood

natural dye baths onion skins with iron, bracken, chopped madder, madder with rhubarb leaves, lichen, gorse flowers with iron

natural dye baths onion skins with iron, bracken, chopped madder, madder with rhubarb leaves, lichen, gorse flowers with iron

I’ll let the photos and notes with them speak for themselves but if you have any questions please do ask.  I’d most definitely recommend Rosie’s courses.  Have you ever tried dyeing – natural or otherwise?  Do you fancy trying?!2 days of natural dyeing       naturally dyed wool in beautiful scenery

 

Me Made May 2016

 

Me Made May Scout teeIt’s Me Made May time of year and rather than being a bystander (as I have been previously) I really want to take part this time round.  As I explained a little last year, it is an annual event through the month of May to celebrate handmade clothes and wardrobes.  Over the years I have read many posts on how to compile your own handmade wardrobe, often worked around a ‘capsule wardrobe’ or considering what your ‘uniform’ is.

To date, I haven’t really felt the real urge to dissect my thoughts and my clothes to such an extent and have been pretty happy just to feel inspired to make more of my own clothes.  However, this year, I have definitely been in the mood for a more considered approach.  I’m sure much of this is due to a couple of thoughtful bloggers whose posts have really resonated with me.  Libby from Truly Myrtle and Ioana from Moeke haven’t talked about transforming their whole approach to dressing themselves, starting from scratch or highly analytical break-downs of what they have and where they want to go.  Instead these lovely ladies are taking the idea of gradually creating a collection of clothes that works well together, based on thinking about what they currently wear and why…….which is probably a mixture of what suits shape, personality and lifestyle, the key factors that work together and, when right, lead to us enjoying our clothes.  If we can get the elements of what suits our shape, our personality and our way of life thought through, then consider the clothes we already have and wear and, finally, plan our sewing accordingly then we stand a good chance of creating a ‘wardrobe’ that works.

black and grey double sided knitTo start with then, I need to think about what I already wear and why – or in other words, my ‘uniform’.  This is largely dictated by lifestyle and personality (I’ve never been totally sure that I’m good at knowing what does and doesn’t suit my shape so I’ll assume that if I enjoy wearing something it is partly because it looks good too, which, I hope, is a fair assumption).  I spend a very good chunk of my days outside, taking my middle two children to and from the school bus, walking my littlest to and from nursery, dog-walking and, if I could, I’d happily grub around in the garden for most of the rest of the day.  While I do occasionally dream of floating around in pretty dresses in reality that just doesn’t fit in with my lifestyle – and I’m not leading a lifestyle that has been forced upon me, I’m much happier spending my time outdoors and not worrying about whether I’ll spoil what I’m wearing.  Clearly, then, I need to my clothes to be practical.  To keep me warm (which can be a challenge in northern Scotland at any time of year) and to hold out the wet and wind.

practical wardrobe

I took these photos this morning while walking Susie – we had a fabulous, breezy walk…..but even on May 3rd I’m wearing a jersey top, thin wool jumper, body warmer plus waterproof……..and without my hat my hair is whipping all over the place!

I would have expected, from this, that my several lovely and cosy wool jumpers would be what I wear the most, especially in winter.  Having thought about it though I realise that I definitely gravitate to layers instead.  On my lower half I nearly always wear jeans or coloured trousers and on my top half I’ll tend towards stretch jersey and printed woven cotton tops (often with a plain stretch top underneath), and cardigans.  More often than not this will be topped off with a woolly hat, scarf or shawl.  I always hope to wear skirts, thick tights and boots in the winter (I love the look) but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like – I tend too feel the look needs boots to work and I generally wear wellies in the winter.  I think this winter 2016/17 I may just try embracing the skirt and wellies approach!  If we do get a good warm spell I’ll swap my jeans for shorts and skirts but those days are definitely in the minority!

I’m feeling much more clear now about what I feel happiest wearing – next I need to think about what clothes I have, how they work together and whether there’s any gaps I can fill with me made clothes.

How about you?  What do you feel most comfortable wearing.  Do you fancy joining in with me Made May 2016 or joining Libby and Ioana with #greatwardrobebasics over on instagram? It would be lovely to see you over there!