Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas at Erddig

I'm busy preparing for another weekend at Erddig, a National trust property near Wrexham in north east Wales. I spent last weeknd there in a little cabin selling my wares at their Christmas market. The event was really well supported with lots of folk there both days, which was fantastic particularly as Sunday was very wet and cold. There was a lovely festive atmosphere, the staff were in victorian dress and there was lots of entertainment including Father Christmas.

This was my first visit to Erddig and I really enjoyed it. It was great having the space in the cabin, space is always a premium at an event and the cabin gave me lots of room to set up the stall. So I got to work with bunting, using the wall space to display products and decorations. Setting up was slightly different than usual, carrying the bits and pieces for the stall through the stable yard avoiding the horse having his breakfast while his stable was being mucked out- just loved it! The market was laid out in the yards and outbuildings of the Hall- it's a fabulous setting and the atmosphere was just great! There was a mixture of cabins, market stalls and some of the stall holders were set up in some of the outbuildings. I think there were about 60 stalls. with a mixture of crafts and lots of foods- cakes, cheese, preserves, beers... , and similar is planned for this weekend

It was a busy weekend for me and fortunately sales were quite good, so this week has been spent replenishing stock- lots of fish and pincushions, and of course Christmas decorations. I've also been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast- looks as though the thermals will be out again with lots of woolly layers, and plenty of hot drinks & soup.

Here's looking forward to another busy, festive weekend...

The gardens at Erddig
For more information about the event

Sunday, 7 August 2011


I love this Clarke & Clarke fabric. The scottie print is bright and cheery, and it's ever so popular (and not just with scottie dog owners).
This year I've tried to come with new and original ways of working with the fabric- the clean crisp design really looks good with gingham and I've tried to take advantage of this.
The tea cosies are fun- with the little dogs on the front and back of the cosy.

available on STECS website
I've been really privileged to be asked to make items for STECS over the last year or so. The charity rescues, fosters, and re-homes scottish terriers. They do a great job and have a fantastic online shop for all things scottie dog- well worth a look ( ). There is a great selection of stationery, toys and household wares on the site.
One teenage tearaway terrier looking for trouble.

Although great fans of scottish terriers we tend not to talk about them too much in our house, sharing it with a little westie as we do ( at least not in her company).

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sewing with Oilcloth

It's a great time to be stitching as there is a wealth of beautiful fabrics out there, and choosing materials is one of my favourite occupations. I can spend literally hours in fabric shops- and it's not just hours I spend a lot of. This year is particularly great for oilcloth- I'm not sure whether there is more oilcloth fabric available or now that I'm happy to sew with it and am looking for it I'm more aware of it- either way there is a fantastic choice and a good selection of coordinating fabrics.

Although called oilcloth what we are actually buying is not true oilcloth but a form of PVC coated cotton, but lets not be pedantic and oilcloth sounds so much better than PVC. It is a really useful fabric and I love it for bag making. It has taken a while for me to become confident sewing with it and producing items of a quality I'm happy to sell. I'm frequently asked for advice about sewing with it, so here are a few tips that I've found really helpful;
  •  a teflon foot on the sewing machine helps to stop the top surface of the oilcloth sticking to the foot
  •  a sharp needle- there is nothing like oilcloth for blunting needles and you will probably find that you need to change the needle frequently. Also I tend to use a large needle (16).
  • using  a larger stitch helps when top stitching (also take your time)
  • it may seem obvious but use the iron on the reverse side only- and use it on a warm setting.
  • if creased a warm hair dryer or lying the cloth flat in the sun are simple ways of reducing and removing creases. I would also suggest storing in on a roll rather than folded to prevent it creasing.
It is quite versatile - the fact it doesn't fray makes it great to use for applique work (you can use a temporary spray adhesive to hold the applique in place prior to sewing).

The teacups on the shopper are taken from another fabric and appliqued onto the main fabric. I've even had a go with my embroidery machine on oilcloth and the result was quite successful- even though I say so myself.

Oilcloth is really not that difficult to handle and the tips above are quite useful when sewing with it, so I would recommend having a go and having some fun. I use it for bag making, but have also made aprons with it, cushions for use in the garden and changing mats. I'm sure I'll be using it for other projects in the future.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Cottage Garden

The Cottage garden is very small but is a little haven of loveliness and at this time of year is looking its best. It's nice to go down first thing in the morning to see what's opening out, and everything looks so fresh at that time of day. I'm afraid it is allowed to grow a little wild but  'a little wild' is a style I like. It encourages the birds and insects, and my favourite (and one of the most secretive) inhabitant of the garden- the slow worm that lives in my compost heap. It is such a joy to see it, very occasionally, sunning itself on top of the heap.

One  of my favourite shrubs is the hydrangea and it is looking particularly good this year. It has an abundance of flowers that are a gorgeous deep pink colour. When there are so many flowers I don't feel so guilty about cutting some of the flower heads to put in a vase. They make really fanastic display, and last quite a long time in the house- brightening the day when the sun's not out.

When the weather is good I try and plan my day so I can retreat to the garden for a little while at some stage. I take some work or a book down there and get the deckchair out, and sometimes I may even do some weeding.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The coffee cup pincushion

This little pincushion has been such a success on the stall- it is a really simple idea and very easy to make. The idea sort of developed when I saw clever folk making candles in teacups, and I then came across a supply of little coffee cups- so with a bit of fiddling and few trial runs the pincushion came about.

The pincushion is fixed in the coffee cup- the top is made in good quality 'quilting' cotton fabric ( I think it probably a good idea to use a densely woven cotton- it will wear better if you're repeatedly sticking pins in it), and it is filled with polyester toy filler so it is quite firm to touch.
It looks really sweet but is very practical as the cup makes a very stable base for the pincushion- so it stands very nicely on the table next to the sewing machine.

It has been a great talking point on the stall and I've been given other great ideas for uses from non- stitchers, including for displaying hat pins or brooches.

I have now listed the pincushion online for sale- there are some available in my etsy shop ( ) and there'll be more coming including the ones I make with little applique designs on them.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Arley Garden Festival 2011
(  )

I'm now back behind the sewing machine in Harlech having spent a very enjoyable few days in Cheshire selling. I was at the Cheshire County Show and then the Arley Garden Festival, both fab events but very different in scale. The Cheshire Show is a huge agricultural event (  ) and the Garden Festival is a smaller but no less fabulous event in the grounds of Arley Hall in Cheshire. One of my biggest frustrations when at these types of event is the fact you  get little opportunity  to see much beyond the stall, although this year I did manage to view a few horses, a tractor or two and some very gorgeous rare breed sheep at Cheshire and a have a mooch around some of the plant stalls at Arley. I love the atmosphere, the general buzz, and meeting folk at the stall. It's great to have a chat, listen to people's comments and ideas and of course sell stuff.

So back to making and replenishing stocks, preparing for the fairs and events I've planned over the summer.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Looking at the rain through window this morning it is hard to believe that we're in summer, although I shouldn't complain the weather in this little corner of Wales hasn't been too bad over the last few weeks. We seem to have our own little micro climate with the forecasted bad weather often passing us by, probably related our location tucked in between the sea and the mountains.

Just now the rain is good for me, in that it makes it easier to sit at my desk and get on with some work. It is always harder to stay indoors when the sun is out. I've had my head down over the last few weeks getting ready for the events & fairs I've planned over the summer. I like to make sure I have plenty of stock & all the other bits & pieces in place to try ensure successful events. I've the Cheshire Show & Arley Garden Festival coming up next week. I did both events last year, and though quite different I really enjoyed both. I'm just hoping the sun shines on us, it can be a bit miserable standing in a damp marquee. There is a list the of events I'm taking the stall to on my Facebook page ( just look for The Crafty Little Cottage) & if you happen to be at one of them please come and see me.

                                                Rose Print Oilcloth Shopper

This year I've lots of new bags which I'm quite excited about, and so far they have proved quite popular at events I've already been to. This year, I've found some new fabric suppliers and have had a lovely time finding fabric. I use a lot of remnants to make my bags so many of them are 'one off's' or if not there'll only be a couple of them made. My favourite so far is my rose print shopper made in a combination of rose print oilcloth & cotton (above). It reminds me of summer, it has a very english garden party or village fair feel. It is a one off & I have to say I've been so tempted to keep it for myself but have so far resisted.
                                           Teatime Oilcloth Shopper

So, back to some work although looking out the window it appears that the sun is trying to come out maybe I will get to the beach today.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Etsy Life

I've become a huge fan of Etsy; it's a fabulous website if you are looking for handcrafted and handmade items,vintage goods or craft suplies. It is the most fantastic place for finding unusual gifts for others or yourself- escaping the mass produced and supporting individual crafters and designers. There are sellers from all over the world and lots of british sellers - to find them add 'british' to your search when looking for items.

Some of my favourite finds;

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Starting out!

It has taken me some time to get this far, I have talked for months about setting up a blog and have now done it,eventually. Hoorah!!

I hope to let you know what's happening at The Crafty Little Cottage, the fairs & events we have planned, maybe some sewing tips & makes, and perhaps a bit about costal life here in north west Wales.

Things are quite busy at the moment as we're preparing for the summer. We have lots of craft fairs and events planned  & we like to know we have plenty of stock so the sewing machine has been working overtime. This is our second summer taking the stall (The Crafty Little Cottage) 'on tour'. It was a little daunting at first but after a few fairs you begin to feel like an old hand and setting up becomes second nature. The fairs are a great opportunity for meeting folk, both customers and other makers & crafters which is really good.

 So here's hoping  for a good summer and that the weather is kind to us ( & that the wellies don't  make too many appearances).

I'll keep you posted on the events we're going to.
 We're due at Woodfest Wales ( ) over the next bank holiday weekend (28-30th May) and will be in the craft marquee.