I started my Etsy shop in September 2015 and I didn’t really properly prepare for Christmas, I was just learning the ropes, trying new things out and researching what sold and what seemed to be the most popular trends.
This year, I started Christmas earlier than I meant to! It came about on a trip to my local Hobbycraft, in Shirley, Solihull. I was looking for some cottons and happened to spot their Christmas fabric displays and homed in on some lovely retro looking material. It was a fat quarter of 6 different Christmas themed fabrics. My favourite was the pink fabric featuring a reindeer. Very kitsch! (The reindeer design also comes in a blue fabric).
I started making some hanging decorations with these fabrics and decided I was going to make a heart decoration. This is a completely non-traditional shape and colour so a bit risky, however I thought it would appeal to all those retro fans out there who are looking for that something a little bit different and eye-catching.
Making the hearts was relatively straight forward – I previously wrote a blog post on how to make a seamless heart which you can reference.
Fingers crossed, all those retro fans out there will like these lovely decorations. A touch of nostalgia is all that is required!
See the shop link at the top of my website for links to my Etsy shop. Also, see Hobbycraft for lovely retro fat quarters.
I have been interested in patchwork for a while now, after a friend bought me a present of the Cath Kidston book, originally titled “Patch”! I’ve made a few things from the book, most notably the patchwork hexagonal pincushion. I really enjoyed making the pincushion as I could sit down and take my patchwork with me anywhere as it was all handsewn. It even went on holiday with me! It’s just so relaxing, sitting down in front of the tv, just me and my patchwork (and hubbie of course)! I like the idea you can mix and match fabric for patchwork, using up scraps of fabric or incorporating different themes.
Indeed, I have made several patchwork pincushion, including a sewing notions pincushion, which you can see on my Etsy shop: Lizzyshomemade
I’m currently in the process of making a small patchwork cushion with a vintage style maps material. It’s been lovely this month to take my patchwork outside on a sunny afternoon and to sit sewing.
Anyway, as I knew next to nothing about patchwork, I thought I would look into this lovely craft.
According to the V&A museum in London, their definition of patchwork is ” 2 layers of fabric sandwiching a thickish padding, all held together by lines of stitching. It is associated with quilting and involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design”.
Apparently, from google research, the earliest examples of patchwork were found in the Egyptian tombs and there have also been finds from the Middle Ages, however patchwork seemed to become popular during the 11th to 13th centuries in Europe.
Many people associate patchwork and quilting with the USA. Indeed, the art of quilting became widespread during the Great Depression from 1929. It became popular as a means to recycling clothing into quilts as money was scarce.
Indeed, I can remember the film “How to make an American Quilt” from 1995 with Winona Ryder, where a family sat around making a beautiful quilt for a wedding gift from fabric that had meant something to them. Indeed, I love the idea of incorporating your fabric strips from garments that you no longer wear but mean something to you. For example children’s clothing and wedding outfits etc. These quilts then become heirlooms down the generations and can take years to make. Its a lovely tradition of families and friends coming together to sew a quilt for someone they love with their memories incorporated into it.
One of my recently read books from my favourite author, Tracey Chevalier was about quilt making in the 1850’s. Quaker Honor Bright comes to 1850’s America from England and has to overcome tragedy and misfortune, however she takes refuge in her quiltmaking. “The Last Runaway” written in 2015 is a must for those patchwork and quilting fans out there. I loved it!
From searching for patchwork and quilting museums or exhibitions, I recalled that there was a quilt museum in York, I remember my mother in law, who is an avid quilter visiting it. Unfortunately, it closed in 2015 which is a bit of a shame. Apart from the obvious V&A in London, I did find the American Museum in Bath which looks to have an extensive collection.
With regards to patchworking and quilting in Birmingham, I am very lucky to have a patchwork and fabric shop about 10 minutes drive from where I live in South Birmingham, called The Cotton Patch. They specialise in patchworking and quilting plus have a good array of fabrics for dressmaking.
When I last visited I picked up a leaflet about an exhibition of Welsh quilts in Lampeter, which looked interesting. (I think Welsh quiltmaking and blanket making will have to wait for a new post!). It turns out that there is a Welsh Quilts centre which houses the exhibition. As I am Welsh, hopefully my husband and son won’t mind a weekend away soon. The exhibition runs until 5 Novemer 2016.
On a slightly more local basis than Wales, there is a Festival of Quilts held yearly in Birmingham at the NEC which has exhibitors from all around Europe and sells itself as the largest patchworking and quiliting exhibion in Europe. I missed it this year due to school holidays, but would love to go next year.
My other local haberdashery shop, Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley runs patchwork and quilting courses, so I am signing up for one of these. I would love to make a proper quilt, even if it would take me years! I need to learn how to do it though, as quilt making is obviously on a much bigger scale than patchwork pincushions and cushion covers!
I really enjoyed researching this blog and hoped you liked reading it and it has prompted you to try patchwork for yourself!
For more information on quilting, the Quilters Guild is a very interesting read. Hobbycraft also specialises in fat quarters for quilting and has a lovely range of fabrics.
I have finally got around to completing work on my lobster dress!
I purchased this lovely navy retro looking material, with white lobsters a few months ago from Fabric Rehab, www.fabricrehab.co.uk with a view to making a skater style dress. However, after making a tote bag from this material for my Etsy shop first, I received a large custom order from Newfoundland to make several lobster bags and progress on the dress stopped!
I went back to one of my favourite original patterns that I made my first dress from a couple of years ago; Vogue V8723, Very Easy Vogue Patterns. This simple dress pattern consists of a lined bodice, a lined skater style skirt and a 20 inch zip at the back.
I had cut out the pattern pieces a few weeks ago and followed the bodice measurements for a D cup as I am quite busty. Assembling the dress was fairly simple as the bodice consisted of a couple of darts in the front and only one in the back. The lining was fashioned in exactly the same way. However on trying the dress on, there was far too much material gaping at the front bodice so I had to take some more in from the darts, which seems to have fixed the problem. I will have to remember to use the B cup bodice pattern next time!
Although the pattern states that the skirt should be lined, I didn’t bother lining the skirt as the material is medium thickness and navy so hardly see through. The skirt was fairly easy to assemble as it just had to be gathered and the gathers adjusted to fit the bodice seams.
I used to find the hardest part of dress making was zip insertion until I learnt how to insert a zip easily and properly through the YouTube channel of Professor Pincushion. Here, they take you step by step on how to insert a zip. This method works every time and makes dress making much easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huQh2aE2Sao
With some hand sewing to finish off the dress (mainly a hook and eye above the zip and attaching the lining to the zip too), the dress is completed. Hurray! I finally have my finished lobster dress in time for late Summer!
Next on the list is a fabulous Licorice Allsorts fabric in a black background, remembering to use the B cup front bodice pattern next time!
My garden has been a work in progress during the past 10 years. This is when I first met my husband to be and moved into his house and garden (I say this term loosely!). The actual garden consisted of an overgrown bit of lawn, a mud patch for a patio and a grapevine that had taken over the top of the garden to the extent that no-one else could visit!
When I moved in, I enlisted the help of my Dad who just looked at the grapevine at the top of the garden and said “we’ll have to burn it and start over!”. Can you now begin to see the challenges facing me in my quest for a nice space to sit in and grow some veg!
I remember coming home from work and yearning to sit outside, however my only seat was a garden bench that had seen better days, resting on a mud patch!
Over the years, the garden has been transformed (it’s definitely a child friendly garden – for our young son), but it’s also an oasis of calm in the middle of Birmingham suburbs. I always grew up with my parents gardening so had a bit of background knowledge to start with but I enrolled on a part time Level 3 Certificate in Horticulture which I absolutely loved. I went mad on buying plants and trying all different ways of propagation and really learnt such a lot in a fairly short period of time. I devoured gardening books, ranging from Gertrude Jekyll to Monty Don and the obligatory Gardeners World magazine.
Now nearly all of the original plants have gone plus we now have a row of pink trellises! Somewhat eye-catching if not to everyone’s taste. (This was my project when my son started school and I didn’t know what to do with myself!)
I think the pinnacle was participating in Moseley in Bloom in 2010, with at one point in our garden we counted 150 people!
April/May is a very busy time in my garden – not much time for sewing (as readers of my blog will know this is what I like to do!). At Christmas every year I cheer myself up through the dark days and short nights through poring over seed catalogues. I circle the ones I would like (normally around 60/70 packets)! Eventually I get down to a more realistic figure and plan my next gardening year from there.
This year I started in March and have sown my usual crop of tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and runner beans. As a couple of new additions I’ve tried French beans (dwarf) and melons (seeds saved from our fruit salad).
From a flower point of view, I usually sow nasturtiums and have supplemented these by climbing nasturtiums too. I’ve never grown these before, so will see how they do! My dahlias are doing well as are the Russian Giant sunflowers that badly need planting out. All these seeds have been growing nicely in my greenhouse and most have been planted out last week or will be done so in the next week or so.
I also love Black Eyed Susan (Thunburgia), the native Africa/Asia plant and have grown it the past few years climbing up my trellis. Everyone comments on it as it is so eye-catching. Unfortunately this year, I couldn’t find any at my local Wyevale centre in Bournville and had difficulty in sourcing it altogether. In desperation, I sowed some seeds (I find that buying the plant is more successful in Thunburgia than actually sowing seed for once), knowing that ideally the seeds should have been started off earlier. However, last week to my amazement, I found a fantastic specimen at our local florists. I was so excited, I texted my husband (how sad is that!). My lovely thunburgia is happily growing away in a new pot against the trellis. Additionally, the seeds I sown a few weeks ago have started sprouting! Probably too late, but I will give them a go and see how they do.
I love sweet peas (see future separate blog on these) and can’t get enough of them. I usually buy the blue ones (Blue Ripple) and this year sowed a packet of the red Air Warden which seem to be growing strong.
I have also sown carrot seeds direct as well as lettuce which have just started to come up. I think the snow that we had in the Midlands a couple of weeks ago put them back a bit! This week I’ve sown poached egg plant (Limnanthes) directly and Nigella, which is an annual favourite. In the greenhouse, the Canterbury Bells are taking a while to emerge but only today, I saw some little stems emerging.
Just now I’m having a cup of tea in my garden and enjoying the fruits of my labours, which is something I don’t usually get the time for!
As readers of my blog will be aware, I am addicted to 1950’s style dresses. I love the femininity of them, the swirl, that “princess” feeling. Luckily for me I have an hourglass figure which really suits the 1950’s A-line style.
When my son started school a few years ago, I enrolled on a weekly dressmaking course and over the years, I have made a few tops and some simple sundresses for myself. I particulary like the Vintage Vogue V8789. However, this time I decided to tackle a 1950’s style shirt dress pattern; the McCall’s M6696.
Interestingly, this all came about as a result of receiving the new Boden Spring 2016 catalogue. They have a lovely Sophia shirtdress in pale lemon but unfortunately had run out of my size with little hope of a restock. I looked at the dress and thought how hard can it be? So I googled simple shirtdress pattern and came up with the McCall’s M6696. This stated that it was an “Easy”pattern to tackle. All the better!
I looked to see if there were any general reviews of the pattern, then I looked at one of my newly discovered sites, The Curvy Sewing Collective. For the unitiated, this is a website designed to give advice on sewing patterns for the curvy person. Although I am a size 8, I generally have a large chest which doesn’t always equate to size 8 clothes! This website looks at sewing patterns and reviews and comments on them, giving helpful hints on how you can alter the pattern etc. Anyways, they had the McCall’s dress in it and gave it a good review.
Next, I went to my favourite fabric store – Barrys, in Birmingham – to have a look for some fabric. My husband and son are regular visitors here and the staff love my son and he loves hiding in amongt the fabric! My husband has a good eye for material so he picked out a fabulous retro bicycle print in a pale green which would look amazing in a dress. Great, I’ve now got my pattern and my fabric.
As I mentioned I went to dressmaking lessons but my tutor was always on hand for the more trickier stuff. When I looked through the McCall’s pattern, although it stated easy, there was some stuff I had never tackled before, such as yokes, button down bands and collars. Yikes! The instructions would have been clear if I knew what I was doing in the first place!
Thank heavens for YouTube! I googled “how to attach a yoke” and found a brilliant channel called Professor Pincushion. This American lady has hundreds of different clips on all elements of dressmaking which are so clear, precise and easy to follow. I have looked online for sewing stuff before but with mixed results. However Professor Pincushion is now my new find!
With her help, I made a yoke, learnt abou how to attach a collar and made a shirt button band. I cannot recommend her enough if you are puzzled about instructons on a sewing pattern. I completed the dress fairly quickly and really enjoyed doing it. After previous bad experiences of cutting into patterns and fabric and finding the fit is not right, I now trace the pattern and do a mock up with some cheap fabric rather than spoiling the original! I was glad I did because the size 8 was a little too tight on the waistband (too many cakes?) so I altered it to a size 10 when cutting out my fabric properly.
I finally finished the shirt dress a few days later I have to say I am really pleased with the results. The fit is good and the dress hangs well. The good thing is that I can now go ahead and make a 100 of these if I wish as I have the perfect pattern for my body.
So, if you fancy having a go at a new summer dress then take a look at McCall’s M669 and let me know how you get on!
I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to make changes to our downstairs loo. It was ok really, not long ago painted but it needed a loving touch and some freshening up! I was shopping in Homebase and picked up a paint catalogue and saw a lovely fuschia colour paint which I thought would certainly cheer the downstairs loo up. I said to my husband, “would you mind if we had a pink loo?” He reluctantly replied, “well, we already have a pink fridge, so I suppose so”. I thought I would ask my handyman friend to start on this after Xmas so didn’t think any more of it.
I love Cath Kidston and their fabric is lovely. However, I always see if I can pick up a bargain in their sales. Fortunately for me they had one pattern of wallpaper, “Rainbow Rose”, reduced to half-price, so I measured up and ordered a couple of rolls (we have a fairly small downstairs loo!). It came a few days later and I loved it. Its extremely chintzy! My handyman friend came over last week to decorate. It took him a couple of days (fiddly pipework) but the effect is amazing! Its a real “in your face” bathroom! No subtlety spared. I love it! Even my husband likes it and admits its striking!
Unfortunately the pink and green colours in the wallpaper don’t match the colours on the existing splashback. No fear. A bit of quick research on google and you can buy tile paint. in pink gloss! A quick trip down to B&Q and said paint purchased. Along with a pink chandelier! (the existing blue lampshade doesn’t match either). Ta-dah! A brand new bathroom for not a lot of money. Plus a real talking point for those visitors who need to use the facilities!
I am now looking on what I can decorate next! In the meantime every time I open the bathroom door I smile!
Fed up of the continual rainy Saturday’s in Birmingham (and everywhere else I think!) we decided to have a day out in Stoke and visit the potteries. An hour from Birmingham, so basically on our doorstep, it was somewhere I wanted to visit, especially after watching BBC’s The Great Pottery Throwdown.
I collect vintage teacups (see previous blog) and love looking for crockery and bits and bobs at antique and vintage fairs however this was where my understanding of pottery started and finished! So I decided to watch the Pottery Throwdown and got hooked!
People growing up in the 1970’s like me may well remember Margo Leadbetters efforts at pottery in the BBC’s The Good Life and indeed all my experience of pottery came from this! However, after watching the Pottery Throwdown, now I can talk convincingly to my husband about glazes, biscuit firing and fine bone china! Therefore I was really looking forward to a day trip to the potteries.
We started off at The Museum of Pottery, which hadn’t that much to interest my 7 year old and was a bit fusty, just like museums used to be. So after a quick tour round we decided to visit the Emma Bridgewater factory nearby. This also had the attraction of a vintage style cafe and so hot chocolate was enjoyed by all. We visited on a weekend so unfortunately we were unable to participate in the factory tours as these are only held on weekdays. However the seconds shop more than made up for it! In the end I opted for a pretty rose flower vase and a spotty oven glove but I could have spent a fortune (some people did!). http://emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk/
Next stop was the Gladstone Museum of Pottery. This had excellent reviews on Tripadvisor plus a nice cafe! (always a must!). We must have spent 3 hours there it was so interesting and well laid out. The 7 year old was fascinated by the bottle ovens and the old processes that they used. There was even an exhibition on the history of the toilet which he loved! Including the smells that went with the sewage; pre-toilet era!
There were plenty of activities for children and we enjoyed watching him throwing a pot on a proper wheel! We were even more delighted that we were allowed to keep the pot too! We loved it here and are looking forward to visiting again in the summer! http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/visit/gpm/
I had a lovely Saturday before Christmas visiting my local fabric store; Barry’s in Birmingham. Those of you who live in Birmingham and are addicted to fabric, will I am sure know this store very well!
There is no pattern of fabric that they do not sell! Anything you could wish for in terms of stripes, spots, teacups, gingham and special occasion fabrics, Barry’s sells.
You can gain so much inspiration from just going in for a quick look. Shall I make a skirt from this? A dress from that? That would look nice in!!! etc, etc.
I originally went in with a list of the fabric that I wanted. I really don’t know why I bothered! I did purchase all I needed plus quite a bit more! Well, its a treat, isn’t it? (Did I mention how affordable the fabrics are?). Notwithstanding the special offer fabric rolls they have!).
Readers of my blog will know that I am obsessed by the 1950’s and I have been making some vintage style retro half aprons as my latest project. I had in mind a kitchen inspired fabric for the front of the apron. Well, I was spoilt for choice! There were dozens I could choose from. In the end I plumped for a selection of named cakes (macaroons, eclairs etc) all in a pretty vintage stlye on a cream background. I also bought some retro jar fabric with a green background. Both will do nicely for my vintage style aprons.
My son wanted me to make a new PE bag for school for him – his London transport made bag has served him well for 2 years, but is showing a fair sign of wear and teat! He’s obsessed by cats at the moment, so he chose a lovely cat fabric, which I made into a bag for him with his name on. Very chic! He loved it. On the way to the measuring desk, I spotted some monkey and bananas fabric which I thought would look great for making into a PE bag or toy bag. That’s my next project.
My final purchase was some cotton plain pink fabric to make “mock ups” of dresses and skirts that I enjoy making for myself.
While I was paying, my lovely husband after playing hide and seek with the rolls of fabric with my son! took these photos for me. He’s quite used to my fabric obsession and is fairly handy at suggesting fabric that I might like.
I'm a full-time mum from Birmingham sewing handmade pretty, retro and vintage goods. I am obsessed by the 1950's and anything pink! You can see what I have for sale on Etsy, or follow Lizzy's Homemade on instagram.
I'm a full-time mum from Birmingham sewing handmade pretty, retro and vintage goods. I am obsessed by the 1950's and anything pink! You can see what I have for sale on Etsy, or follow Lizzy's Homemade on instagram.