Friday, 22 August 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Ginny Farquhar

This week's Crafty Lady is Ginny Farquhar, who designs and makes and writes and sews and teaches!

She's half of crafty duo Alice & Ginny who run sewing workshops together, and whose latest book - Sewing For Kids - I'll be reviewing next month. Ginny also sells her photography and pretty textile jewellery under the name Sweet Myrtle.

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Hello, I’m Ginny! I love being creative and also love sharing my skills and helping others get creative too.

I live in Hampshire with my husband, two teenage daughters and a black cat called Magic.  I work as a sewing teacher and craft workshop leader and also write sewing books and projects. Under the banner of Alice and Ginny, I collaborate with my best friend and we run regular sewing and dressmaking classes for teenagers and adults in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex. I love my job and love meeting so many different people and I get so much pleasure from being part of their sewing journeys.

 

I take lots of photos of nature and when I am not working I enjoy being at home tending our small productive garden where we grow herbs, fruit and veg. My secret wish is to transport our home and garden to a flower meadow, high up on the edge of a hill surrounded by trees and with a view of the sea in the distance.

Recently I’ve been …

...doing a lot of dressmaking! After spending years making for others, having previously made theatre costumes for a living, I am now really enjoying making more of my own clothes. My aim is to one day have only ‘me made’ clothes in my wardrobe. My recent makes are some Katherine Hepburn inspired wide leg linen trousers and a simple top using New Look 6808 pattern. My biggest dressmaking project recently though was making a Prom dress with my eldest daughter for her school leavers Prom.

 

As well as dressmaking I have been making paper pompoms, leading a free drop in pompom workshop at a local art centre. The pompoms were used to decorate the centre for its indoor music festival where I was in my element running hippie flower crown making activities.


I’ve been working on…

...an exciting project with my friend Jen from My Make do and Mend Year, writing a chapter about hemming for a fantastic e-book she is putting together. The book will give advice on the basics of making and mending and will be out in the autumn.

 

I am also collating images of our Alice and Ginny student’s creations to put together for a celebratory display of their work at Thread textile festival in Farnham in September.

 

After a relaxing summer the time has now come to write lesson plans and prepare the materials for our autumn sewing workshops and courses which recommence in early September.

I am also just about to start making a shirt for my husband for his 50th birthday and helping my daughters plan and bake a celebration cake, based on his love of growing vegetables. Should these projects go to plan, there may be a blog post to share our results

I’ve been blogging about…

...having blogged since 2006 I seem to have become a lazy blogger lately.  I have however recently blogged about making calendula salve from marigold flowers in my garden, after seeing a great recipe on the permaculture blog. I also joined in the golden mending craze and shared my repair job after ripping my skirt on barbed wire and I've written some blog posts about the process of making my daughters Prom dress.

 

I’ve been reading…

... Letting in the Wild Edges by Glennie Kindred, a beautiful book about connecting with nature and learning to use native plants. Next on my list to read is Cultivating Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy which has lots of art exercises and inspiration for drawing and painting from nature.

While I sew I like to listen to… 

... radio iplayer or podcasts. The Arts and Healing Network’ is a particular favourite as they have wonderful interviews on the healing power of the creative arts. This is an area I am passionate about and within my teaching work I see daily the importance and benefit of creating as a way of expression, relaxation, connection and confidence building.

Ginny’s 3 Top Tips for Dressmaking

1. Start with simple garments with only a few pattern pieces and minimal techniques. Loose fitting tops and dresses or a simple A-line skirt make perfect first projects.

2. When choosing a dressmaking pattern, image search the pattern numbers you like. This way you will see what the designs look like made up in different fabrics and on lots of different body shapes. You may even find some reviews or blog posts from dressmakers who have made up the patterns with all their tips and modifications for sewing them.

3. Always do a toile first. This is a mock up of the garment created in a cheap cloth of a similar weight to the final cloth. Often calico or old sheets are used. This ‘test run’ is important to do to check for fit but also gives you an opportunity to work through and become familiar with the pattern instructions and the process of construction. It also gives you a chance to make any mistakes here so when you come to your real garment it will be plain sailing!

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Visit Alice & Ginny for info about sewing courses and workshops, or click here to visit Ginny's blog. You'll also find Ginny on Twitter.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Pansies in Progress

I'm feeling much better than at the weekend (hurrah!) but still a little foggy-brained.

Luckily I have a bunch of simple crafty projects on the go at the moment, so I've had plenty of things to keep my sleepy brain busy. I've been knitting blanket squares, cutting out felt pieces, and stitching some pansies.


This is the third flower pattern I'm sewing from a set of vintage embroidery transfers. The transferred pattern isn't totally clear in some places so I've had to get out the transfer to see where some of the lines go, and then use an air-erasable marker to draw in a temporary guideline for my stitching. Love those markers!


I realised after I started stitching that the two bobbins of thread I'd picked out to stitch the pansies were actually slightly different shades of dark purple. They look identical in the photos, but I swear they're not in real life.

To get round this issue, I've stitched alternate lines of the "shading" with one of the threads and now I'm filling in the missing lines with the other.


I'm still umming and aahing about what colour(s) to use for the centres and what shade of green to use for the leaves but I will cross those stitchy bridges when I come to them!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Slow & Sleepy Days

The past couple of days have been very lazy!

Sadly this wasn't a planned bit of time off but instead a necessary break to fight off a horrid cold.


I have been napping on the sofa, binge-watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica, drinking lots of tea, reading some gorgeous books...


... and doing lots of colouring in!


Being ill is never fun and it's always frustrating to have to press "pause" on your To Do list - especially when it's full of fun and crafty projects - but it's hard to stay grumpy when you have sweet kitties keeping you company while you rest :)

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Meet My Sponsors: August

Time to meet this month's sponsors!

Blooming Felt sells 100% wool felt sheets, colourful fairtrade felt craft supplies like felt flowers and felt purses, plus other crafty goodness including buttons, ribbons, flat pad findings, glue, embroidery floss and craft books:

 http://www.bloomingfelt.co.uk/
 http://www.bloomingfelt.co.uk/


Asking for Trouble sells illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts featuring cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii:

 http://www.askingfortrouble.org/


Little Black Duck sells fun sewing kits and digital sewing patterns:

 http://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleBlackDuck


Joe's Toes sells thick wool felt, punched felt shapes, plus kits and supplies for making things like wool felt & leather slippers, iPad cases and luggage tags:

 http://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleBlackDuck


At Raspberry Creek Fabrics you'll find the latest in designer fabrics, from brands like Moda, Free Spirit and Michael Miller:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RaspberryCreekFabric#


Georgina Giles sells handmade toys including fabric tic tac toe sets and plush animals:

 http://www.etsy.com/shop/georginagiles


At Story Box you can create personalised gifts by filling a 3D frame with mini objects to represent a friend or loved one, or to celebrate a special occasion:

 http://www.storyboxofyou.com/


Laurafallulah sells vintage-inspired jewellery plus lavender sachets, purses and paper confetti:

 http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/laurafallulah


Fox & Star sells modern stationery, including diaries, notebooks and cards, plus lots of washi tape:

 http://www.thefoxandstar.co.uk/

Illustrator and printmaker Debbie Greenaway creates cards, notebooks and jewellery featuring her drawings:

 http://www.debbiegreenaway.com/

And over at Hugs are Fun, crafter Rebecca sells modern cross stitch patterns and blogs about her creative projects:

 http://hugsarefun.com/


P.S. Interested in promoting your shop, company or blog? Ad spaces on my blog start from just $5 for 30 days (that's currently about £3!) and I offer a 25% discount if you buy 3 consecutive months (90 days) of ad space at once. Your site will feature in a sponsor post like this one and I also give new sponsors a shout out over on my Facebook page.

Click here for more info re: rates and my blog's traffic, and to buy an ad.

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