Category Archives: UK craft blog

Hey, Wanna Meet Up In Exeter Next Month?

From Lisa Lam's A Bag For All Reasons. I did a QAYG version using canvas and wadding. It's heavy but lovely!

I finally have a finish! I made this backpack using Nordika fabric designed by the amazing Jeni Baker. The pattern is from Lisa Lam’s A Bag For All Reasons. I used canvas and wadding and did a QAYG method. It’s a big backpack, and the canvas is kinda heavy, so if you were worried about weight you could probably use calico (or as you crazy North Americans call it, muslin). But I’d definitely use that method again. I think it took about 30+ hours of sewing, and my total cost was maybe £60. Which is pretty cheap for an extremely well made backpack. I’m not being vain, honest: I also took the trouble of triple stitching all exterior seams so I know it’s practically indestructible. I recently had a strap pop out of a tote I’d made because it was too full, so now I’m totally paranoid about being embarrassed in public. If anyone attempts to make it and needs pointers, just Tweet/Facebook me and I’ll help out! I’m SewHappyGeek on everything. What a surprise.

AND, I also want to tell you about The Sewing Directory’s Exeter meet up next month! Deets:

Venue – St. Matthew’s Church Hall, Clifton Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2LJ
Date – Saturday 14th September 2013
Time – 11am – 4.30pm
Spaces – 35
Price £20 (supplies & refresments included in price)

It’s sponsored by the fantastic Abakhan fabrics (need to make new curtains? They have awesome home furnishing fabrics!) and the inimitable Kerry of Very Kerry Berry will be teaching. I will also be there but I think I’m a participant this time. Appliqué is on the menu and I’m not that good at it, so I’ll probably sit in the back and berate myself tirelessly for screwing mine up. So come join us and see how bad I am! Woohoo! 

And before I shoot off to the craft store with my awesome friend Jae, I’ll be attempting to make a belt for myself based on this wonderful tutorial from make it perfect on Versus. I’ve kinda lost a bit of weight recently (not sure how?) and I need a new belt but I’m picky. So I’ll make my own. 

What are you working on? Come talk to me on Twitter or Facebook! And I’m also jensewhappygeek on Instagram. :)  

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Book Review: Contemporary Upholstery by Hannah Stanton

The kind folks over at Jacqui Small sent me a review copy of Contemporary Upholstery by Hannah Stanton. Although the book was free, the opinions are genuine and are really mine.

Chair reupholstered!

Chair reupholstered!

So since I had the book, I figured I’d better give it a genuine test drive. I found this chair at a sewing shop (I know, right?! Best. Shop. Ever.) and while it had character, I wanted to make it sexy. Specifically, Union Jack sexy. Anyway, here’s the chair:
Woo Chairs!Nothing wrong with it, just a little bland. So I started reading about paints, and I ended up using Annie Sloan chalk paint because you don’t have to strip the wood. 0% prep? Yes please!

But obviously painting it isn’t really the tricky part. I (lovingly) read through the book, even the parts I didn’t really need to know because I love logistics. I love the format – it’s a lot like taking a class. The tools are explained very clearly and pictured:

Chair reupholstered!I also appreciated the clear descriptions of techniques. And of the fabrics – it was fascinating AND she’s very good about telling you which fabrics are appropriate for what jobs. I was a little worried I might need to replace the webbing and was a little freaked out that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out, but Hannah seriously knows what she’s talking about, and the illustrations are so clear I stopped worrying about what I might find underneath the seat cover:

Chair reupholstered!Fortunately the webbing and seat had been recently replaced. So I picked out the tacks, and got to work replacing the cream fabric with my Union Jack fabric. The book was extremely clear about what to do (and in what order):

Chair reupholstered!And I’m so proud of myself! (And my husband helped too. But ONLY A LITTLE.) Here’s how it looked all painted but still kinda naked:

Chair reupholstered!And here it is with the new, sexy reupholstery job:
Reupholstered victory!

Union Jack Chair

Reupholstered victory!Look how well that corner turned out! The others? Not so much. BUT! I am HOOKED! You know that feeling you get when you make a really fantastic quilt, like you’ve conquered it? That’s how I feel every time I see this chair in my living room! (Despite the pictures, we don’t keep it in the back garden. That’s just silly.) If you have been wondering whether you’ve got what it takes to turn that dumpy chair into a masterpiece, I recommend giving it a go. And I’d really recommend Contemporary Upholstery by Hannah Stanton as your complete go-to guide. You won’t need another book.

If you want a copy for yourself (and I know you do!), Jacqui Small is offering a discount:

To order Contemporary Upholstery (9781906417918) for £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code JS216. Or send a cheque made payable to: Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. Please quote the offer code JS216 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

It’s also available on Amazon UK and on Amazon US

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Like a Test Post, Only Weirder

So. Long time no see, eh? I’m sorry about that. We moved, and also I have been having ups and downs in the realm of depression. It’s awesome. But pottering around my new house is cool, and feeding the birds makes me happy, and I haven’t managed to kill any of my orchids yet, so I guess things are looking up.

Seriously, though, things haven’t been all bad! The wonderful editor of Sewing World magazine, Julie Briggs, has ever so graciously put my quilt on the cover of this month’s issue!

My cover!

So, this quilt was a ‘brain project’. I couldn’t really mock it up on EQ7, so I just did the maths and made it. I don’t recommend that for every quilt, but it seems to have worked this time.

Untitled

I have been teaching though, and it’s quietly keeping me sane. This term we did a sampler quilt to learn different techniques. Some of the blocks I actually finished, some of them I stuck in a drawer. So here’s my sampler:

Untitled

And I’m off to the Fat Quarterly Retreat this weekend! I’m a little nervous because *people* and *different things* and I’m crap at social stuff, but the sewing sounds fun and I kinda need a mini-holiday. So maybe I’ll see some of you in a few days? :)

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The Depression Vacation

Wow. I just realised I haven’t posted anything in over 2 months. Sorry! I’m calling it my Depression Vacation.

When I got back from visiting my family this summer, I basically fell apart. (Not physically; that would be on the news!) I’m not exactly sure what happened, but the result has been that I had to go to the GP and get on sertraline (an antidepressant). It made me sick for a while, and actually made me feel worse for a while too. It was nice to lose some weight, but my husband was so concerned that he told me to stop taking it. I kept plugging along on it because I knew that it’s not unusual to feel like shit when you first start an antidepressant. And in the end it was worth it.

I feel less hopeless, and although my sewing mojo still seems to be on holiday, at least I can function. For a while there, even contemplating doing the washing up or cooking dinner would leave me exhausted and low. Sewing and knitting and writing seemed irrelevant as my entire world and outlook turned a dark shade of grey. Probably I need to increase my dose. It’s very difficult to fight against your own brain when it’s telling you that you’re worthless and that no one gives a shit what you have to say. The gigantic effort of turning on the computer and actually writing something seems so disproportionate to the reward that it’s easier to just do nothing. And that’s what I’ve been doing. For months. Nothing.

Also, we’ve been selling our house and buying another. And it’s been pretty stressful. I’ve cried a few times. But it’s not all bad. IF everything goes through, we’ll be moving into a beautiful house and I’ll even have a whole study to dedicate to my crafts! We could be moving in a couple of weeks, or it might take another 6 weeks. :s

Anyway, I’ve really missed being active online, and I’ve really missed everyone. I miss twitter but I can never really think of anything to say to anyone these days. I suppose that’s the depression, really.

So I apologise for being AWOL for so long. It’s been a difficult fall and winter. I’d like to get back to functioning normally, including blogging, but you may have to bear with me as I deal with depression and moving and who knows what else.  And if you have been feeling low, go see your GP! I was so miserable before the med kicked in and I cannot imagine being that bad indefinitely. I really waited too long before going. I guess it was a combination of wishful thinking (I’ll get better soon. I don’t need help!) and lassitude (Seriously? You want me to leave the couch? Yeah right…) that prevented me getting help sooner.

But I’m feeling much better than I did, say, 4 weeks ago. And the sun is shining and although I have a cold, I also have David Attenborough DVDs and a Mary, Queen of Scots bio. Add some tea and codeine, and things are looking, if not great, at least satisfactory. :)

How’s your winter been?

jen

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Manic Monday Linky Party

Still convalescing here…got a bit of a cold and a case of the ‘blahs’. Fortunately it’s half term here so Savi and I both have a week long holiday. Savi’s cough is so rattling and awful that I cringe every time I hear it. Poor kid. It was kind of her to share it with the family… :p Sorry I haven’t done the features from last week – I’ll do a double feature this Friday if I don’t post about it before that.

I sure hope you are all feeling better than I am and that you’ve got a great week ahead!

Linky Party Rules:

  • You can link anything you’ve created – an etsy shop, blog or tutorial, recipe or project, whatever.
  • You can leave up to 2 links
  • Please visit at least one other link and comment!
  • I’ll be featuring a few on the blog on Feature Friday
  • You are welcome to add my party button to your blog, but you don’t have to!



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© J C Excell, 2012

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(I’m in) Sewing World Magazine ;)

Sewing World Magazine is out now and my quilt is on the cover!!! SQUEAL!!! If you can’t find it in a bookstore/newsagent near you, you can order it from Traplet Publications’s website.

My quilt is a layer cake quilt. I had to scramble to get it done before I went to Texas. To be honest I hadn’t really considered the timing when I asked the editor, Julie, if she’d be interested. Thankfully I managed to finish on time! I am so chuffed they decided to put it on the cover!

Lynne of Lily’s Quilts also has a pattern in this month’s issue – isn’t this table runner wonderful? It’s a jelly roll pattern and I love it! I’m thinking about making it with a non-Xmas jelly roll. So cute!

There’s also a profile of my blog in the magazine. I had forgotten about it completely until one of my students found it! Thanks Nati! :)

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© J C Excell, 2012

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Posted in Magazine Features, UK craft blog, UK Modern Quilt Blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Manic Monday Linky Party

So you may have noticed I wasn’t here last week. That’s because I was reading – I averaged nearly 600 pages per day, which as you can imagine doesn’t leave much time for anything else. For some reason, when I read fiction I can’t bear to put it down. I simply MUST know what’s happening next. And it’s no good saying to myself After this chapter is over I’m going to do computer chores. I turn into Procrastination Central!

So I’m going on a fiction diet – the only fiction I’ll allow myself to buy is on audio, since I listen to that while I’m sewing. No more Kindle books for me! I need to get some real work done.

How about you? Do you have trouble doing anything else when you read a good book?

Linky Party Rules:

  • You can link anything you’ve created – an etsy shop, blog or tutorial, recipe or project, whatever.
  • You can leave up to 2 links
  • Please visit at least one other link and comment!
  • I’ll be featuring a few on the blog on Feature Friday
  • You are welcome to add my party button to your blog, but you don’t have to!



If you’d like to receive my blog feed in your Google Reader (or any other reader) just click on the Feedburner (RSS) link below. :)

Subscribe in a reader


© J C Excell, 2012

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Posted in craft linky party, Linky Party, Manic Monday, UK craft blog, UK Modern Quilt Blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | 2 Comments

Abakhan Sponsors: Klona Cotton Solids & Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern Review

I mentioned in Tuesday’s post that I’d do a review of the Klona solid cotton fabric that I used to make my Tula Pink LOVE quilt.
ABAKHAN (2) 300px wide

The fabric was provided by Abakhan Fabrics, where it’s available for £7.25 per metre. It’s a full 135 cm wide instead of the usual 114 cm, so it’s a very good deal.

It’s a bit stiffer than, say, Kona solids, which means (for me, anyway) that it doesn’t really need to be starched before you can work with it. It’s also a bit ‘rougher’, not quite as silky. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it means that it ‘sticks’ to other fabrics easily. So if you like to press your pieces together so they are completely flat before sewing, Klona solids will ‘stick’ and stay there until you can pin. Indeed, if you’re working with smaller pieces, you don’t need to pin as long as you’re careful.

I was a bit worried that it would still feel stiff after washing and drying my LOVE quilt, but it hasn’t – the motion of the machines seems to have softened it up considerably.

I had a bit of the Klona red left over, and today I decided to make myself a posh knitting project bag from a pattern I bought from Jeni of In Color Order. You don’t have to have the pattern to make one – there’s a tutorial for a slightly smaller version of it on her website. If you do want larger or smaller bags, you’ll have to get the pattern. It only costs $6.50 and is fantastic. There are 8 bag sizes and full instructions, including the formula if you want to make one to your own dimensions. It’s very clearly written, and I’m so pleased with how mine turned out that I’ve decided to make them as Christmas gifts. It was really quick to make, and the finished product is superb. They look quite professional, and if you wanted you could make the interior out of plastic so it could be a wash bag or makeup bag (my students use a cheap shower curtain to make wash bags).

I used the Klona for the interior, and again it was a breeze to cut and sew. I definitely will use the Klona again, and I really recommend it. It comes in many, many colours so you’ll be able to find one to match, and it’s SUCH a good value considering how wide it is. If you’ve never used Klona solids before, I recommend giving them a try – you may discover a new (cheaper!) favourite!

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© J C Excell, 2012

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Posted in Finished Products, Reviews, UK craft blog, UK Modern Quilt Blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | Tagged | 4 Comments

Tula Pink Sew Along: LOVE Quilt (Sponsored by Abakhan)

ABAKHAN (2) 300px wide

This post is sponsored by Abakhan Fabrics (UK).

Hello!!! Today’s my big day: My Tula Pink Love Quilt pattern review is up on Sew Sweetness! Please go have a look – it’s a great pattern and if you’re a newer quilter it’s a perfect way to experiment with negative space, wonky blocks and just a little bit of piecing. If you’re an experienced quilter, it’s a fast, easy quilt with plenty of WOW.

I used Klona solid red fabric for the background; it was the first time I’ve ever used it and Will at Abakhan Fabrics was kind enough to send me some to have a play. I’ll do a full review on Thursday, in case you’ve been wondering about using it.

Thanks for looking, my friends!! :) And a HUGE thank you to Sara for having me as a guest!!!

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© J C Excell, 2012

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Manic Monday Linky Party

Sorry for the late post! I taught at the college today and then got so wrapped up in sewing charity quilt blocks and listening to my new audiobook that I totally forgot to post!

On the house front: we had a couple come see the house on Saturday which meant that we had to stay up very late Friday painting the bedroom. It’s a nice neutral shade of magnolia now which I hate but since it looks brighter I’m not too fussed. Sadly the couple decided to make an offer on a different house but at least we had a clean house for about an hour. keeping this house clean is pretty hard with 3 people living in it! I hope someone buys it soon! Fingers crossed! And my tummy seems to be all sensitive again so I’ve been spending a lot of time curled up in bed with stomach cramps. Yuck city! It’s a bit more settled now but I’m still having to take meds for it. When it rains, it pours over here!

How has your week and weekend been? And I’m eager to see what everyone’s been up to in the links!

Linky Party Rules:

  • You can link anything you’ve created – an etsy shop, blog or tutorial, recipe or project, whatever.
  • You can leave up to 2 links
  • Please visit at least one other link and comment!
  • I’ll be featuring a few on the blog on Feature Friday
  • You are welcome to add my party button to your blog, but you don’t have to!



signature:
If you’d like to receive my blog feed in your Google Reader (or any other reader) just click on the Feedburner (RSS) link below. :)

 Subscribe in a reader


© J C Excell, 2012

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Posted in UK craft blog | 2 Comments