19 September 2012

Autumn Has Sprung

Hello, crafters,

I am writing this wearing mittens and being wrapped in a comfy cardie as my chamber is unexpectedly chilly, on this nice September evening. I have just filled the kettle in order to get my hot water bottles ready for bed. This is part of my autumn/ winter routine as I live in a 1930s block of flats with no proper heating. I find it has been character building. I am prepared for the next oil or gas crises.

Nothing has been happening on the craft front. I have been suffering from post-market craft fatigue. Things at the arts and heritage factory have not been good, so I have decided to take a little break until I come back from a visit to the old country. In the meantime, my mother has started her own craft production (I might do a little special report soon!) and we have made plans to raid her local haberdasheries- I shall be in fabric heaven. I envisage pokey old shops run by fierce little old ladies. It will be frightfully exciting! There has also been talk of instructing me in the fine art of patchwork. So, even though I have been idle, craft experiments still have been on my mind, and I am inclined to read my break as part of the creative process.

Expect to hear more from me in the weeks to come...

Bye for now, crafters!

3 September 2012

Market Day

Hello, crafters,

The last week has been such a rush, I didn't even get around to post a proper promotional piece on this humble blog, that's how busy I have been with tidying up the bags and getting it all ready for last Saturday's fair. My lovely friend Steph from Yellow Bird Hats, our loyal supporters (thanks for tagging along!), and I had a good day out in town, but I won't lie to you, it was also pretty tiring, so I have put my feet up for a change. It was a great experience, my creative brain cells have been inspired, and not only have I sold some of my favourite pieces (good-bye, nice yellow/green gigantic bag in the back, whose compendium piece I own...), I have also received my first commission, thanks to my fabulous friend Jenny. Hurrah!

The bears and ducks thanked me for taking them to the city and broadening their view of the world. They behaved rather well, so I might take them on more outings in the future.

That's enough for today.

Good night, crafters!


21 August 2012

Brand Police

Good evening, crafters,

I like to move with the times and keep an open mind, so I have considered the value of a unified brand today- it all started with designing and printing business cards and ended with me completely changing the design of this blog! And I shall be ever so cross if in future my underlings use the wrong font and by doing so, send out the wrong message. That would be a disaster, particularly since I intend to go global with the aid of the interweb before too long.

I think it has worked out quite well, if I may say so myself. Letter-headed paper and compliments slips to follow soon...

Good night!


20 August 2012


Good evening, crafters,

I have been working away and exploiting myself in my very own sweatshop in North London, you guessed it, making BAGS... It has been so hot and humid, and I have barely taken any breaks (at the weekend anyhow, during the week I am sweating somewhere else), so I am nearing my own personal quota for the upcoming market sale. Together with my lovely friend Steph from Yellow Bird Hats, I shall be sharing a stall at Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair at Spitalfield's Market on 1 September: http://www.judysvintagefair.co.uk/events/event/spitalfields-vintage-fair-7/ - It will be a splendid affair, do drop by, why don't you.  In order not to bore you too much with the bags, here is a photo of bear that somehow has been turned into a pin cushion (this has got nothing to do with Voodoo, I can assure you):

But if you thought you'd get away without a bag update- no such luck:

To wrap things up for today, let me finish with something more highbrow. The other half and I attended a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger at the NFT last weekend. The newly restored print (unless it was a digital projection, in which case it was obviously some sort of file, not actual pictures on a film strip, but that's by the by) looked lovely, and I was particularly taken by Ivor Montagu's titles, more specifically the ones that featured triangles. I love a good triangle myself, and I was wondering whether I was subliminally reminded of the film when I designed these Christmas cards last year:

I wonder. It also made me want to do some paper, glue and scissors related crafting soon, so watch this space. I might divert from the sewing once the market has been and gone.

Back to the sweatshop now.

Cheerio, crafters!


5 August 2012


Good evening, crafters,

As you can see, even bookish geeks such as myself have noticed that we are right in the middle of the Olympics, sadly, arts and crafts are not yet an Olympic discipline. I think Lord Coe missed out a trick here, personally, but I guess I must have been busying myself in some library or archive when new categories were up for discussion. Maybe I will put a working group together and commission a feasibility study. Expect a progress report from the project board soon.

Having said all that, I do admit to sitting on the sofa with my housemate (and they don't come any less sports-savvy than the two of us) and watching weight lifting (!), rowing, some sort of running event, and tennis, amongst other things, on our ancient 4:3 non-flat-screen, definitely non-HD telly. We did concede that watching such activities can be quite contemplative, particularly for the depressive mind. There is something comforting in the fact that somebody will always reach the finishing line before somebody else.

Staying with the sports-theme for another paragraph or so, I can also report that the significant other and I dragged ourselves across town to the Chelsea Theatre, in order to attend the final performance of Elfriede Jelinek's Sports Play. I thought it was a good effort, but I rather regret that I didn't attend the original production, which by all accounts was a spectacular affair. Ach, well, life is full of regrets.

Anyhow, as ever, I have been digressing frightfully. While a lot of sports-related competing has taken place around the Big Smoke, I have been sitting in my chamber making more BAGS. By the end of the summer, you will be truly sick of hearing about bags. Not to mention the bag progress photos. But I am very excited about them, even more so as it is now official that my dear friend Steph and I will be sharing a stall on Spitalfield's market, 1 September.  More details to follow, I don't want to give out all the details too soon, otherwise you will forget it and then not come by as a result.

I have been going to my personal warehouse of vintage fabrics and managed to complete two more specimens this weekend. I think they have turned out rather well. Here is a photo of the stock I have completed so far:

I have won more vintage fabric on the ebay past week, so I shall be able to extend my colour schemes further over the next few weekends. I have bags in two different sizes so far, and I have just cut out another pattern for a very simple tote bag, which will be the next one to finish.

I love the colours of that fabric, the combination of blue and green is gorgeous, and the bag will look fab with the mustard coloured cotton I have chosen as lining. I will find it very hard to give this one away...

24 July 2012

Summer Bags

Good morning, crafters,

I thought I'd send you another progress report before I go to the arts and heritage factory. As you can see, while everyone else has been out and about and finally achieved the first sun burn of this year, I have been locked away behind the sewing machine, and have maintained my natural paleness. The bags are coming along nicely, the ones I am currently pinning down and sewing up are quite big, you could probably fit the complete oeuvre of Charles Dickens in there. I guess at a push you could use the bags for some sporting equipment, such as a few badminton rackets, or even a few children with inflatable crocodiles or real dogs. I am more of a cat person though, despite the allergy.

Anyhow, I am digressing now, and also putting off getting to work.

Here is another progress pic:

Bag progress (3)

I love the green/yellow/orange patterned fabric, which I have recently won on ebay. Apparently I am upcycling somebody's retro camper van curtains. The bags will be lovely. I am lining them with thick sand coloured linen, so they will be sturdy and reliable. Once they are finished, I attempt to take some better pictures. It's too early in they day still to do a proper photo shoot. Also, I need to maintain the suspense...

Better run now, have a lovely day!


18 July 2012

Evidence of Progress

As promised earlier, a pictorial report:

Bags in Progress (1)

Bags in Progress (2)

Animals in Progress (1)

a matter of time. woven label!!!

And that concludes my update for today.

Good night, crafters!


The Impact of Philosophical Thinking

Greetings, crafters!

Has spring really been and gone since my last entry? I wish I could pretend that I have been hidden away in my craft workshop and churning out bears and bags and other wonderful things, but the truth is, I have been musing about the trials and tribulations of life in an extended phase of hibernation. You know, the whole "who am I, where have I come from, and where am I going to" issue. So no wonder that the needles have been idle in the light of such fundamental philosophical questions of human existence. And I didn't even get to the point of debating whether a bear was really a bear...

I have now come to the conclusion, however, that decisive action is needed in order to re-surrect the craft experiments, and have come up with the cunning plan to join forces with fellow crafters/ designers yellow bird hats and project alpha, who I will be sharing a stall with at a market come September. Details to follow in due course.

The needles have been polished, the sewing mashine dusted off, and the scissors sharpened, and I have started to get down to making bags. I shall post a few photos later on- I am currently on my lunch break in my arts and heritage day job, and I have yet to produce some decent snaps of my current projects. Mind you, I am getting a bit weary of the term 'projects', for it is overused in work-speak. The world has become obsessed with spreadsheets, progress reports and such-like. Maybe I will just stick with calling my craft efforts 'experiments'. That has a nice trial and error angle, whilst being rooted in a scientific environment. I like that.

The factory horn signals the end of my lunch break. Back to the treadmill.

Happy crafting!


19 March 2012

Mr. Bear

Greetings, crafters, and welcome to my blog!

I am currently setting up a crafting production line in my tiny room in North London, the aim being to end up with some hand-made items that will pass my extremely strict quality control so that they can be made available for sale through the interweb in the none too distant future.

In order to keep me motivated, I have decided to document the process through this virtual craft diary.

So, let me begin by introducing this little fella: Mr Bear

He is still looking pretty smart with his little bow, even though he is getting on a bit now. In fact, he is dangerously near to middle age. I still love his friendly smile and big eyes. My Mum made the original bear, she followed a simple pattern from a book for hobby crafters, 'Ravensburger Bastelbuch". In fact there is a whole series of them, occasionally they come up for sale on ebay, and I always keep an eye out for them. The old ones are hard to get and the modern ones are just not the same. Even though a lot of the photos were in black and white, the coloured ones were incredibly bright and warm, bordering on the psychadelic, come to think of it. In one of my next blog entries I might just show a few pictures.

But I digress. Back to Mr Bear. My plan is to create the next generation, using vintage fabrics or vintage-inspired fabrics. There are lots of splendid reprints of old patterns out there. 

I have found these amazing examples in a haberdashery (yay, a few new ones have sprung up. It's not quite the same as the enormous shops of my childhood in which little old ladies reigned over endless rows of fabric bundles, but I shan't complain) in East London. 

I haven't done much research in the field of fabric design or fabric production, even though it seems a worth-while project, but these lovely patterns were designed in the 1930s by Sara Morgan for  Blue Hill Fabrics. These days, they even have a web address: www.bluehillfabrics.com I think these 'Feedsack II' designs will be lovely for the new Mr Bear generation.

I have created a little mock-up here:

What do you think? I reckon they will be l-o-v-e-l-y!

I admit to being a procrastinator, so while we are in the process of sharing: I confess to not having actually finished any of the new bears as yet, even though I spent hours cutting out paws and ears, noses and eyes, on a Sunday afternoon a while ago. Other projects have crept in and I neglected the bear production.

Lotte, the daughter of a close friend, celebrated her second birthday, and I thought I'd try to create an outfit for her. Or rather, I found this lovely pattern on the website of a fellow, but out of my league crafter http://www.made-by-rae.com/2011/05/charlie-tunic-pdf-sewing-pattern-is-here/ that I used. I merely did the cutting and sewing, rather than the designing. You should check the website out if you are sewing clothes for children. Anyhow, I had a go at trying the Charlie Tunic pattern, here is how it turned out:

And I'd like to add that I have never ever sewn anything involving sleeves before. It was quite a challenge!

Then, a bag was screaming to be made for my friend Mandy's birthday. I 'upcycled' (ha!) a curtain I had bought at a market, and lined it with some cotton, matching in colour. Note, how the bag goes perfectly with the wall in our kitchen:

Not bad, eh? I was quite pleased with the colour co-ordination, if I may say so myself.

So you see, it is hard to keep the eye on the bear when there are so many other things to be done. The world is full of crafting projects.

And on that note, I bid you good-night. Next time, I will hopefully be able to report some bear progress. I may also introduce you to Ms Duck, another old friend...

Cheerio, crafters. Til next time!