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A lovely day out at Sewisfaction

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Being part of the blogger team at Sewisfaction is a huge honour and great pleasure, but so much of sewing blogging is spent working and communicating online from home. So recently the lovely Sheona, who most of you will know as the owner of fabric and haberdashery shop Sewisfaction, arranged a little get-together for the Sewisfaction Blogger Team. The plan was to all meet up at Sewisfaction ‘HQ’ and spend a lovely Sunday sewing and chatting. Bliss.

As a great deal of you will know, Sheona opened her ‘bricks and mortar’ shop a couple of months ago. It is located in the idyllic Berkshire countryside on the outskirts of Wokingham, at Holme Grange Craft Village. The craft village has a great location near motorway links and is also not too far from Wokingham railway station.

As is often the case it is tricky to find a time and location that everybody can make. We were so very sorry that Lesley,  Suzie, and Maddie were unable to make it this time. Fingers crossed that we can all be together one day – how awesome would that be!

It was so exciting to actually visit the shop at last, after seeing it online so much in Sheona’s vlogs and on her Instagram account, and it did not disappoint. The shop is easy to locate in the Village (plenty of free parking by the way), and you are greeted with a welcoming selection of pretty fabrics, haberdashery items, sewing patterns, knitting wools and general sewing lovliness! New fabrics are being added to the shop all the time, and you will usually find Sheona will mention them on her social media (particularly Instagram), so if you want to be the first to know what’s going on then do give her a ‘follow’. You can also sign up on the website to receive updates and news from Sewisfaction is this is easier for you.

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Don’t forget to tag your makes #mysewisfaction and you may well find yourself on the ‘wall of fame’!

It was a huge thrill to finally meet Sheona and two of my fellow Sewisfaction Bloggers –  Amanda and Samantha . What lovely, lovely girls – truly sweet, and I felt like I had known them for years. Also I was super happy to meet Suzy who a great deal of you will have seen in Sheona’s vlogs, again what a sweetheart – and we all had the most amazing time sewing and chatting accompanied by plenty of tea and biscuits!

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The shop has an impressive sewing space where we were able to use the wonderful Janome sewing machines and overlockers that are available at Sewisfaction for the many sewing courses and classes that are held there. Check out the website for a full list of what is available – there is something for all abilities including parties and half term activities.

Lunch was the perfect opportunity to have a little break, and there is a pretty little cafe just downstairs from the shop where we grabbed a sandwich before more sewing in the afternoon.

All too soon it was time to go – not before some fabric purchases were made – well, it would be impossible to go home with nothing don’t you think? You might have seen my fabric purchases on my Instagram Stories, and I will of course be sharing the finished makes on here in due course.

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I hope it won’t be too long before we are all able to meet up again. Sewing and chatting really is the perfect way to spend the day. Thank you to Sheona for all her hospitality, and also to Amanda, Samantha and Suzy for making my day so enjoyable.

Here’s to the next one! #teamsewisfaction

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The Sewing Weekender 2017

If I could describe my perfect weekend, it would probably be a couple of days spent sewing and chatting with a group of wonderful sewists, perhaps with an embroidery workshop thrown in and maybe a few inspiring talks given by some wonderful creative women.

This pretty much sums up the weekend of August 5th and 6th.

Tickets for The Sewing Weekender went on sale back in May, and sold out in minutes. I was hugely disappointed, I mean REALLY disappointed to have just missed out on getting a ticket, and although there were two chances of a ‘golden ticket’, I was unlucky there too. Sad times. Unbelievably though, out of the blue a week before the event, I was given the chance to attend due to one of the attendee’s being unable to come. Phew! – so glad that I had put my details on the wait list.

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The venue was Murray Edwards College in Cambridge, and we arrived to a room full of sewing machines, overlockers and ironing boards. Thoughtful gifts from the event’s sponsors were waiting for everyone in the biggest goody bag you could imagine. Dreamy.

It’s up to you how much or how little sewing you actually achieve.. I took two projects with me, and only managed to complete one – a Colette Patterns Sorbetto top. I expect I will write a little blog post about that sometime soon.

Throughout the day, you were welcome to attend two embroidery workshops. The pefectly wonderful Elle from Sew Positivity was getting all fancy with a snazzy Janome Memory Craft Embroidery machine, and we all had great fun choosing which sewing related design to pick for our cute badges.

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Elisalex from By Hand London, was super sweet and encouraging with her hand embroidery workshop. My hand embroidery skills are fairly dodgy and I learned how to chain stitch and started a hoop project that I will continue and finish another day.

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At any point you were able to dip into the fabric and pattern swap. Spoilt for choice, I only chose one length of fabric, but I managed to grab some really great patterns – not that I need any more of either, but well, you know…

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On Saturday, guest speakers were Portia Lawrie, who gave a great talk about refashioning. Definitely food for thought. I was particularly excited to meet Portia, as I had admired her refashioned jacket so much that won her the Dressmaker of the year title. I was also so so happy to finally meet the adorable Harriet from Hobbling Handmades , and it was great for the 3 of us to get together since we were all finalists in the Dressmaker of the Year competition, with Portia going on to win!

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Myself, Portia, Harriet (and waiter) with that winning jacket!!!!
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What a sweetheart

Also speaking was the sweet Fiona from Diary of a Chain Stitcher. Fiona is a theatre Costume Supervisor and gave us a glimpse into her duties at work. Totally fascinating, I really enjoyed this talk. What a high pressure but rewarding career she has.

Lots of sewing, chatting and tea drinking saw us through to the end of a great day at 6pm. Most of us had accommodation in the College overnight, so after a tiring day it was so lovely not to have to go far to reach our rooms. The rooms were basic, but comfortable.

The evening consisted of a walk into town and a pub meal.

On Sunday we were treated to more sewing time and guest speakers. This time we enjoyed Melissa Fehr talking about sewing for movement, and not necessarily garments for exercise, but how our bodies move and what our clothes need to do to accommodate daily movements that we make. Something else I have previously given little thought to, but was an interesting discussion.

The final speaker was Elena Rosa Brown, who chose to talk about mindfulness and generally taking the time to be kind to yourself enabling you to get the best out of your sewing times. Difficult to summarise, I was totally blown away with every word of this talk, and could identify with so much of what Elena had to say. What a beauty she is and her talk was a totally unexpected highlight of my weekend!!

After more sewing, tea, biscuits and chatting it was time to unplug the machines and call it a day. Although I could not stay late, the day rounded off with a little early afternoon walk through Cambridge, a perfect end to a perfect weekend!

Oh, and you are probably wondering what the goody bag looked like.. well here you go..

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Thank the organisers and sponsors. I am certainly going home with considerably more than I came with, and I am so grateful for their generous gifts. If I may I would like to mention the sponsors below:

Adam Ross FabricsJanomeCocoWawa CraftsSew Hayley JanePlush AddictSew Now MagazineBloomsbury Square FabricsSew Over ItThe Village HaberdasheryBeyond MeasureCotton Reel StudioRemnant KingsMinerva CraftsSew EssentialFabric Punk, Suzy MagazineMerchant and MillsTilly and the ButtonsFabric GodmotherFabrics GaloreThe Makers AtelierStoff and StilThe Draper’s DaughterSimplicityJenni Smith

CraftsySimply Sewing MagazineThe Sewing QuarterFashion Enter and Fashion Capital.

Finally the most important thing to say is that this whole thing would not be possible without an unbelievable amount of work and thoughtfulness that has been put in by the incredible Kate and Rachel from The Fold Line, and the wonderful Charlotte from English Girl at Home. Thank you also to all the prefects and speakers who made it all so wonderful and last but not least, thank you to all the wonderful sewing friends who I met and whose company I thoroughly enjoyed all weekend. Let’s do it again.

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Dressmaker of the Year – Winner for the ‘Ready to Wear’ Category.

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I’m still pinching myself.

A few months ago, I decided to enter The Dressmaker of the Year competition. Not because I thought I had any chance of coming anywhere, but because I noticed that if you entered you would receive a free sewing pattern.

I wasn’t sure which garment to enter, but in the end chose my Joni Dress by The Fold Line. My reasons for choosing this dress was that it had attracted several comments when I had worn it, so thought it might be a good one to choose, I also had no time to make up something new. Decision made. I put in an online entry, attached a photo of the dress, and chose the free pattern that I wanted to receive.

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The Joni Dress by The Fold Line

You could have knocked me over with a feather when, in March, I heard that I had been shortlisted as a finalist. No way!

The next thing to do was to send off my dress to London so that it could be examined by the panel of judges. It was at this point that I wished I had maybe made a garment specifically for this competition, rather that choosing something that I had made not knowing that it would be looked at in detail by a panel of sewing experts! Oh dear – too late now! I’m usually pretty careful with how my garment looks inside as well as out so kept my fingers crossed that it would be up to their standard too!

After a nail biting wait, I was (and still am) over the moon to hear that I had won first place in the ‘Ready to Wear’ category. Little old me, who would ever have thought!

This was such a wonderful surprise for me, especially as the competition had more than 1,200 entries from all over the world!

My prize was a sweet sewing basket from Korbond which will come in useful for all the little bits and bobs in my sewing space that currently don’t have a home.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed reading some lovely articles in Make it Today Dressmaker magazine and Sew magazine too. All very exciting! Thank you to these publications for organising such a fun competition! Thank you also to Brother, Create and Craft and Korbond for their generous prizes.

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The well deserved overall winner for her ‘Customising’ enry is Portia Lawrie. Her quilted upcycled denim jacket is superb and inspirational. I think you would love Portia’s website linked above, particularly at the moment as she is organising a huge huge raffle to support those affected by the Grenfell disaster, head on over to find out how you can join in!

The other three talented and creative sewists that are winners in their category are

  • Angela Green in the ‘vintage’ category
  • Georgia Marshall-Brown in the ‘children’s wear’ category
  • Harriet Johnson in the ‘reader’s choice’ category with her amazing Party Rings two-piece! Love this one!

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Thank you so much for all the sweet comments that so many of you have sent via social media when the winners were announced. I am so grateful for your support, and it means so much to me.

What I have learned from this whole experience, and what I am sharing with you today, is that we should just ‘go for it’ – you never know what might happen!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My #VintagePledge 2017

 

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A couple of months back now, the lovely Marie from A Stitching Odyssey wrote a blog post about the #vintagepledge 2017 challenge which she organises every year. She has also talked about it in one of her youTube videos.  The idea is to encourage sewists to use their vintage patterns more regularly, and post pics showing their makes. It’s a fun join-along and another great way to gain inspiration from so many talented and creative sewists.

I don’t have many vintage patterns in my pattern stash. Probably about half a dozen. However this month I am taking part in the #sewtogetherforsummer shirtdress challenge (I love me a good hashtag challenge)! and whilst rummaging through my pattern stash to see if I had a shirtdress pattern I could use, came across this vintage pattern that I thought would be perfect.

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I have to say that making this dress was a joy. Although it was one of my most challenging makes in terms of SO many alterations and adjustments to my toile, the satisfaction of the end result was really rewarding.

I will be writing a blog post on this particular vintage dress in the next few days, so look out for that if you are interested in seeing how it turned out.

I have been wanting to join in with the vintage pledge challenge this year, but up until now simply hadn’t taken the plunge. Now that I have made this dress, I’m hooked, and don’t know why it has taken me so long. Other patterns in my stash include some from the ’90’s which I believe are technically ‘vintage’ with them being over 20 years old.

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My favourites though, are the dresses. I believe these are from the 60’s and 70’s, and I adore them. I may or may not have also just bought another 60’s dress pattern from eBay which I am waiting to be delivered.

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So my #vintagepledge 2017 is to make at least 3 items from vintage patterns this year.

I will, of course, share all my makes with you here.

Thank you Marie for bringing all this together, I would strongly recommend that you hop over to her blog and video linked above and check it out, and I hope this may give you the nudge to have a go yourselves!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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‘Dressmaker of the year’ Finalist!

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Hi friends,

I recently had the amazing news that I had been shortlisted to be a finalist in the Make it Today Dressmaker Of The Year Awards. Yes, little old me.

This is a huge shock and I was totally blown away by this honour. The dress that I submitted was the Joni dress by The Fold Line.

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I loved making this dress, and the fabric was a particular favourite of mine too. If you are interested in reading the full review then you can do so here.

The dress has been sent off for judging in London, which I believe took place yesterday. I feel pretty nervous that such esteemed judges have been examining my dress in close detail!

Whilst the overall winners will be chosen by the judging panel, there is the opportunity for anyone to vote in the ‘Readers Choice’ category. If you take the time to vote you are automatically entered into a competition to win some great sewing prizes – a lovely sewing book bundle and a years subscription to either ‘Sew’ or ‘Make it Today’ magazine. These prizes are worth £230!

If you would like to have the chance to win these prizes, I will leave a link here, I think you will be impressed by the variety of entries – there is a childrens category, vintage, ready to wear and customising category, so why not take a look, have a little vote and give yourself a chance to win a great sewing prize at the same time!

Don’t hang about though! The entries for this will close on the 25th April!

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Whilst I am here, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the support and encouragement that you have given me since I started this little blog last October. Yesterday I received a notification that 100 people are now following me, so if you are one of them, I would like to say a very big thank you, it means the world to me.

The good news is I have lots of sewing plans lined up, and I look forward to sharing these all with you!

Thank you all, take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Wonderful Day Out at ‘Fabric Meet Birmingham’

Yesterday was just lovely. Fabric shopping in Birmingham on a beautiful sunny day with lots of creative and inspiring sewists. What a perfect way to spend a day. Let me tell you more..

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About a month ago, Samantha from Create It Samantha and Bianca from Sleepless in Bavaria decided to host a fabric shopping trip and get-together in Birmingham. It sounded like too much fun to miss out on so I stuck my hand in the air straight away!

We were all meeting in John Lewis, which was perfect as I was arriving by train and John Lewis is on the doorstep! Samantha and Bianca had thoughtfully arranged for us to have use of a private dining area next to the restaurant which was so perfect as we could all grab ourselves some refreshments and get to know each other before we started.

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During this time we had a little pattern/fabric swap. I was delighted to pick up a Colette Patterns Peony dress pattern. Thank you to whoever donated this item, I am thrilled with it! Further more Samantha and Bianca handed out goody bags for everyone. I will pop a picture of all our goodies at the end of this post. Totally spoiled already and we had only been going an hour!

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Firstly we met June who works for John Lewis in their haberdashery department. We enjoyed a lovely demonstration on their range of sewing machines, and had the opportunity to give them a try ourselves. I enjoyed using a machine with no foot pedal for the first time – it has a start/stop button instead, and quickly made a little quilted square. Such fun!

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Forgive that it is a little wonky, it was cut without ruler or measuring and not pressed, but you get the idea!

After this, it was time to move outside into the sunshine and take a walk to the Rag Market. Plenty of bargains were bagged by us all as there were lots of fabric stalls inside and outside.

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One of the stalls inside the Rag Market

No rest for the wicked, it was then off to a much anticipated visit to Barry’s Fabrics. Boy! we weren’t disappointed. Packed to the rafters with rolls and rolls of fabrics, we had a wonderful time, like kids in a candy store.

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By this time I think we were all beginning to flag a little. Perfect time to break for lunch. Of course lovely Samantha and Bianca had already reserved tables at The Stable, so it was a quick walk back to the Bullring area to grab some lunch. Two long tables had been booked which was so perfect as we could all continue to chat together as large groups and didn’t need to separate up into smaller tables.

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After lunch we jumped into taxis and made the 10 minute journey to visit the Adam Ross warehouse. We were warmly greeted by Jas, Faisal, Saira and the team, and enjoyed refreshments whilst we learned about the company and how they work. Did you know that Adam Ross offer free postage on all orders, and always aim to get orders cut and dispatched on the same day. Very impressive. If you would like to check out their website you can do so here.

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Jas took us over to their cutting table to show us their newest range of fabrics. We wanted to buy all of them!

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Next came the moment we had all been waiting for. A good look around their warehouse. Two enormous floors worth of fabrics. I have never seen anything like it, we were given free rein to take our time and wander anywhere we liked and choose any fabric that we wanted to purchase.

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The welcome that we received from the team at Adam Ross was second to none, and just when I thought our day couldn’t get any better we were each given beautiful little notebooks which had been bound and covered with their fabrics. I picked a navy blue with star design.

Thank you so much to Bianca and Samantha for ensuring we all had the best day. Every little detail had been carefully planned, and not only was the fabric shopping amazing, the friendly company of such wonderful ladies and gent was a great experience. New friends have now been made and will be treasured.

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My fabric haul from the day. Top two from Adam Ross, middle from the Rag Market, bottom two from Barry’s Fabrics.

Finally let me show you the lot! As well as the fabrics I purchased, take a look at the beautiful fabric bound notebook and pen from Adam Ross, and the extremely generous gifts from Samantha and Bianca. Also the pattern I picked up from the pattern/fabric swap!

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I think if this wonderful event is ever repeated, it might be wise to follow Vena’s example and bring a suitcase on wheels. We all had a bit of trolley envy at the end of the day when we had to carry our bags home!

I hope you have enjoyed this little insight of my day out in Birmingham, it was lovely to meet so many new friends and hope to see more of you all in the future.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

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Simple Sampler Quilt-Along. My first go at quilting.

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Last September I noticed that The Sewing Directory were advertising  what looked like a really fun challenge to learn how to make a quilt using sampler blocks. It was mainly aimed at people who had never quilted before and wanted to learn how to using weekly step by step tutorials.

This appealed to me straight away. I have never tried quilting before but really admired some of the designs I had seen online, it was also a good way of using up some of the mountain of fabric scraps that were accumulating in my sewing room!

The course of weekly tutorials would run from October through to February with a little break during Christmas. Perfect.

Organised through The Sewing Directory, with brilliant instructions from expert quilter Kerry Green from Very Kerry Berry Blogspot, it was a super fun gentle introduction into quilting. Starting of course with very simple blocks, and progressing quite smoothly to more challenging designs, each week you would go ahead and make either one or two blocks. The end result would be a lovely lap quilt made with twelve blocks, or larger if you chose to make up more of the blocks.

Straight away I was rummaging through my scrap fabric stash to see what colours I had. I seemed to have mostly reds, pinks and blues, so these were my colour choices.

One of the best things to take from this experience was the pure joy at seeing the work produced by the other people taking part. Each individual has their own style, and colour preference and some of the fabric choices were stunning. You may like to have a little look yourselves – head on over to Instagram and search for #simplesamplerqal you will not be disappointed!

I won’t fill the rest of this post with all 12 individual block that I made – feel free to head over to my Instagram account if you would like to scroll back and see them all, but I will show you below some of my favourites.

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Flying Geese Block
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Saw Tooth Star Block
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Strings Foundation Pieced Block
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Ray of Light Foundation Pieced Block

All too soon, the blocks were all made and it was time to bring them together to form the quilt. I did wonder how difficult this would be, but as in previous weeks the instructions were super easy to follow and before I knew it I had sailed through sashing, borders, basting, quilting and binding.

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Basting my quilt

I would like to mention what wonderful support and encouragement was provided by The Sewing Directory and Kerry Green. Weekly posts on social media by the entrants were greeted with wonderful positive comments from all, and I have to say I value all my new quilting friends that I have made through this lovely challenge.

Each month prizes were given and I am chuffed to say that I won a very generous £20 voucher to spend at Fabric HQ during December. Although I spent hours (literally) going back and forth through their pretty fabric selection (so much choice – I wanted it all)! I eventually opted to spend my voucher on a much wanted sewing pattern and a couple of sewing tools. The top that I made with that pattern is on my blog here, and the sewing tools I chose have been so useful and greatly loved.

So during February I finished my lap quilt. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I definitely need more practice with my quilting skills as straight line quilting was all I felt I was able to do. I think it’s not bad for a first attempt. Maybe if I had realised how much I was going to love this I would have chosen my fabrics more carefully. Whilst I am glad I have used up a lot of my scrap fabrics I think I may have had a better looking quilt if I had splashed out on some pretty coordinating quilting cottons.

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Nearly finished!

At the time of writing this the instructions for the whole challenge can still be found on The Sewing Directory’s website here. I would encourage you to take a look and have a little go! I understand (fingers crossed), that there may be another quilting challenge in the future so if you are interested in a really sociable fun quilt-along you may want to follow The Sewing Directory on social media so that you can be the first to hear!

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My finished quilt. I love it!

Thanks again to all involved to introducing me to such a rewarding and relaxing side of sewing. I will definitely quilt some more in the future, and in the meantime will continue to admire and be inspired by all my new quilting friends that were made during this challenge.

Did you take part in this challenge? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Lovely Day out at the Leicester Dressmakers Meet-Up

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I was so chuffed when I heard that Sarah and Freya from Crafty Sew and So in Leicester were going to arrange a meet-up, I have been counting the sleeps! Leicester is my home turf so naturally I was all over it.

The day started with an informal gathering at Kai Kitchen Cafe in St Martins Square. This is very conveniently situated just over the way from the Crafty Sew and So shop. I’ll be honest, this was the most difficult and nerve wracking part of the day for me as I’m pretty shy, and walking through the door to meet a group of strangers was a little difficult for me to say the least.

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However I was very warmly greeted by Freya, and a large gathering of very friendly sewists, many of whom were also there on their own, and before long the room was buzzing with laughter and excited conversations. It was the perfect opportunity to break the ice and get to know some very lovely people. Delicious food and drinks were consumed, and after an hour or so we were ready to hit the fabric shops.

The weather was a little cold unfortunately, but never mind at least the rain held off. We headed off and were first shown The City Rooms where the upcoming Dressmakers Ball will be held in May. From there it is just a short walk to the market where our shopping began.

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Stuart’s Fabrics in Leicester market
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Ash Fabrics in Leicester market

Time to move on, and next we were taken through to Odeon Arcade which is the home to  Material Magic. Lots more purchases were made before wandering over to a lovely little haberdashery shop called Button Boutique, in Malcolm Arcade. This really is a great place to stock up on all your sewing notions and it has the best choice of loose buttons of anywhere I know.dressmakers-meetup-5

Finally it was time to move on and walk back round to St Martins Square and the warmth of the Crafty Sew and So shop. We were welcomed with tea and very delicious looking home made cakes (what a shame I’m on a diet), and given the chance to take advantage of a generous discount off all items in store.

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Such a welcoming window display

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This place really is a little Aladdin’s Cave of all things sewing. An extensive range of sewing supplies, fabulous range of independent sewing patterns, fabrics, machines, fabrics and a sewing workshop to boot. The team there were friendly and helpful and it really was a pleasant way to spend some time with your friends.

A little while later and it was time to gather to enjoy a talk by Charlotte from https://englishgirlathome.com/ What a delight! This was an informative and funny talk through the world of blogging and vlogging from Charlotte’s perspective and I really enjoyed it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon. Many thanks to Sarah, Freya and all the team involved with arranging this get together. I was so happy to meet up with so many like-minded sewists and have the opportunity to chat about sewing to our hearts content all afternoon!

I may have made a few cheeky purchases, none of them needed of course, but, well you know…dressmakers-meetup-8

Thanks to all for a very lovely Saturday.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon.

Kathy x

 

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Welcome to my little blog …

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Hello out there, my name is Kathy and today I am doing something that I have dreamed about for a very long time. I am writing my first blog post!

My Mum taught me to sew when I was very small and more seriously when I was about 13 yrs old to help me with my school subject option choice. During the Summer holidays before school resumed we picked an easy sewing pattern (a nightshirt), and some (dodgy) fabric and she took me through the whole wonderful process of cutting up some fabric and then sewing it back together again!

I was hooked. I continued to really enjoy my school lessons in the subject and whilst over the years never lost my love for sewing, I have only dipped in and out of it. I am at a stage in my life now that my family are growing up and I can dedicate more time to it.

So, here goes with the blog, one thing that you might need to take into account is that whilst I love sewing, I don’t love computers and anything technical that goes with them. So bear with me, my blog will be basic at the beginning whilst I understand how this whole thing works, but hopefully in time it will become as beautiful as all of the sewing blogs I love to read myself.

So thank you so much if you have made it to this bit and you are still reading. I hope you will enjoy my posts as much as I plan to enjoy making them.

Be back soon, Kathy x