Friday, 27 March 2015

A Scrappy Cross Stitch Project

I've been working on lots of stitch-y projects this month...

... a rose cross stitch pattern, a floral embroidery pattern, and some secret stitching that I can't show you yet.

When you do any kind of sewing project you always end up with lots of scrappy bits of thread left over. Most of the time these are teeny little unusable scraps, but sometimes they're long enough to stitch a few stitches but are still not really worth keeping.

In the spirit of "waste not want not", last year I decided to make use of the second type of scraps - using the left over bits of embroidery thread to cross stitch a kind of mini patchwork quilt.

This is proving to be quite a fun project!

It's like a mini version of my patchwork blanket, where I'm slowly knitting squares from yarn left over from other knitting projects. I choose where to sew each colour of embroidery thread, of course, but the colours I'm using and the size of the shapes I'm cross stitching are totally determined by what scrappy bits of thread happen to be left over from the other projects I've been working on.

I love how the pattern is growing slowly, randomly and organically as I do more embroidery and gradually collect more scraps of thread to add to it. It's also great to be making something with these small pieces of embroidery thread that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Do you do anything with your scrap threads? 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

HMS Belfast & St Katharine Docks

I've not blogged about many Nice Days Out recently but I have been going on them, I swear!

I've been making the most of my treat-to-myself membership of Kew Gardens (so wonderful), I've met up with a couple of crafty chums for tea and much nattering, and I've been to a few great exhibitions: Sherlock Holmes: the man who never lived and will never die at the Museum of London, Sargent: portraits of artists and friends at the National Portrait Gallery,and Magnificent Obsessions: the artist as collector at the Barbican.

The Sherlock Holmes exhibition was fascinating and jam-packed with interesting, thoughtfully presented things connected to the character and his creator, to the stories and TV shows and to Victorian London, the city that provided the backdrop for most of the tales. Some of the paintings in the Sargent exhibition were so enchanting, I could have stood and looked at them for hours. But my fave exhibition of the year so far has to be Magnificent Obsessions - so many varied, quirky collections! So much to see and think about re: art and inspiration and obsession!

I also spent a fabulous couple of hours visiting St Paul's Cathedral, the highlight of which was climbing to the top of the dome and looking out over London. Sadly my camera died when I reached the top but a kind fellow tourist took one of my business cards and emailed me some of her photos as a memento of the day. So nice! Fantastic views, an iconic building and the kindness of a stranger, what a great combo.

You can see the amazing views here (sunrise) and here (sunset)... or, of course, by visiting the Cathedral yourself and climbing the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery.

Another incredible space I visited recently was HMS Belfast - a former Royal Navy cruiser now permanently moored by Tower Bridge. This time I remembered to a) take my camera with me and b) charge it before I left for the day! (Hurrah!)


The HMS Belfast (like St Paul's) is one of the places where you can currently get discounted entry with an Art Pass. I had totally thought to myself "well, I might as well go and have a quick look round, seeing as it's half price with my Art Pass" and had planned to hop on the Tube afterwards to go somewhere else in the afternoon... and then I spent over three hours exploring all nine decks of the ship, climbing up and down ladders and peering into cabins, listening to all the stories on the audio guide, saying "wow!" a lot and being generally quite overwhelmed at how awesome it was.

After spending aaaaages happily looking round the Belfast, I had a late lunch (sadly the cafe on board is only open at the weekend - bear this in mind if you're planning a visit!) then went for a walk along the river...

This is Hay's Galleria, on the site of the now-filled-in Hay's Wharf - the dock itself (where merchant ships would arrive, filled with tea) is now filled in, the tea warehouses are offices and shops and the whole space has been given a fabulous glass roof.


The view across the river:


 I loved this sculpture!

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge:


An old postbox by the bridge:

After reaching Tower Bridge I had planned to walk across it, but on a whim decided to keep walking along the riverfront and I'm glad I did as I not only got to tour a bit of the river I'd not been to before but also stumbled across a make-up advert being filmed which is not something you see every day! 

I walked down to the Design Museum and had a look round their fab shop...


... and enjoyed the peace and quiet and quirky sights of assorted wharfs and converted warehouses.

Then I headed back to Tower Bridge...

... crossing over to the other bank...


... to visit St Katharine Docks, a smart marina tucked away next to the Tower of London.


St Katharine Docks is one of those slightly hidden places that's easy to miss when you first walk past - because of this, though it's right by the Tower and the bustle of all the tourists, it's quiet and peaceful and a lovely place for a walk and a quiet cuppa. Even the Starbucks is a bit posh (and much quieter than the tourist-packed branches nearby).

After admiring all the boats (and a couple of very fancy yachts!) I sat and had a cuppa and a bit of cake and read my book until the spring light faded to dusk and it was time to head home.

I suppose I ought to plan some non-London-based days out sometime soon but, ah, there is just so much to see in this city!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Hot Air Balloons in Love Sewing Australia Magazine

Regular readers might remember this project I worked on for Crafty Magazine just over a year ago - a tutorial for decorating plain tape measures to look like cute little hot air balloons.

Well, I got a lovely email out of the blue last week from Trixi (who shares lots of fun tutorials on her blog Coloured Buttons and was one of my guest posters a few years ago) mentioning she'd seen my hot air balloons in the current issue of Love Sewing Australia.
This was a very nice surprise - especially as they'd made the cover!

Here are a couple of peeks at the project pages from inside the magazine:

Me and my work featured in a magazine on the other side of the world? A very nice surprise, indeed!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Crafty Ladies: Meet Laura Harris

Say hello to another Crafty Lady - Laura from Laurafallulah

Laura's shop is filled with pretty, colourful, vintage-inspired jewellery and accessories. I especially love her stylish felt flower brooches!

Laura & I have been crafty chums since the early days of Etsy and it's been lovely seeing her shop develop over the years and to meet up from time to time to chat about the ups and downs of making and selling and being your own boss.


Hiya, I am Laura also known as Fallulah, hence the Laurafallulah.

I am a designer/maker from SE London who uses my interest in vintage design along with my love of bright colours and bold pattern to create fun individual accessories. I work from the spare room in my flat, which I share with my partner Richard, although I can often be found stitching on the sofa in front of the telly.

I spend my weekends walking, be it in near by Greenwich park or round galleries, and eating! I just love food and London has a great thriving street food market scene which I am gradually working my way round. I am also a member of our local cinema and the ICA so spend a lot of time watching all kinds of movies from arthouse to mainstream.

Recently I’ve been making…

I am currently working on new flower brooch designs to add to my classic collection as well as some new paper products to add to my Garden Party range which includes a few different cake topper designs. I like to have a range of things which are all year round items as well as a few seasonal things.

For summer I have a new range of jewellery based on the bright colours and intricate style of Papel Picado, Mexican paper cut banners. I love taking influences from all over and the mix of bold colours and patterns of Mexico really appeal to my taste.


I’ve been working on…

I have also been trying to spend some time working in my sketchbook on my drawing skills. I haven’t spent too much time perfecting my drawing recently as it is easy to get caught up in technology and the practical side of making. I would like to some day use more illustration in my work, but for now I am enjoying doing something a little different just for the sake of it.

I’ve been reading…

I love blogs, they really appeal to the nosy side of me as its like looking in on a little section of peoples lives. I have a few blogs that I have followed for years such as the classic design blog Decor8 and the lifestyle blog SFGirlbyBay . I have also more recently started loving the more journal type of blogs such as Dainty Squid and Skunk Boy, I love both of their mix of fashion, design and just life experiences.

I am also really interested in health and nutrition so I regularly catch up with Whole Heartedly Healthy and try out Lauras great recipes and health tips.

While I sew, I’ve been watching…

I will pretty much watch anything! I love all different kinds of TV and movies and can usually be found binge watching RuPauls Drag Race or The Office (an American Workplace).

I am not really the kind of person who can sit and do nothing so I frequently irritate my partner by punching confetti while we catch up on which ever latest American drama we are watching at the time. I also like catching up on some classic movies which I can’t believe I hadn’t seen like Fargo and City of God, which I saw recently and both of which I adored.

Laura’s 3 Top Tips for Running a Creative Business:

1. Inspiration: Sometimes it is hard to feel inspired when you work alone, my advice it to switch off the computer and get out, go for a walk, go to a exhibition, meet a friend for a cuppa. Sometimes technology can be as much of a hindrance to your creativity as it is a help. I love my computer as much as the next person but sometimes you just need to switch it off and talk to people in real life or see things in the flesh to get those creative juices flowing.

2. Comparison: So this is a kind of buzz phrase at the moment, the kind that pops up in your Pinterest front page about 10 times a day but “Comparison really is the thief of Joy”. This counts for all kinds of areas in life but definitely when running a creative business. Just do you, and do you to your best ability.

3. Take it easy on yourself: I know I struggle with this, sometimes beating myself up for not completing my to do list one day or worrying about where I am spending my money. From speaking to many people, who chose to work in the creative sector and specifically those of us who chose to work from home, it seems many of us suffer with anxiety. Try some mindfulness training, taking the issue, dealing with it (or not as the case may be) and then letting it go. It is a hard practice to get in to but it can make a huge difference to you work and also your work/life balance. Few things are unsolvable and most are not worth losing sleep over with worry. Easy to say, hard to do but working on it every day does wonders for your mental health.

Click here to visit Laura's shop and see her full range of pretty accessories. You'll also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.


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