Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fabric Flowers

It's a little while since I made something for the blog, and I thought as the flowers were fading in the garden it would be nice to make some fabric flowers.

These are quite simple, and although I use the sewing machine here they can be made by hand- there isn't a great deal of sewing involved.

You need-

Strips of fine or light weight fabric- I've used a cotton fabric.

fuse wire (or the fine wire used by florists in flower arranging)

plant sticks/canes ( thin green wooden sticks- found mine in B&Q)

Cut a strip of fabric 10 cm by 50cm and fold in half - bringing the long edges together and press along the fold. 

Open the piece of fabric out and make a running stitch along the length using the pressed fold line as a guide.

Fold the fabric back along the pressed fold line.

Now to make the petal shapes- fold the fabric strip in half  bringing the short edges together, you should end up with a folded piece measuring 25cm by 5cm.  It is probably easiest to use a few pins to hold the fabric in place.

You can either draw the petal shape free hand or make a template.

 Mark the shape on the fabric- ensure the you do this along the open edge of the fabric and not the fold!

Cut the petal shapes (reminder don't cut along the folded edge)- once done open out maintaining the fold on the long edge.

Again you may wish to use pins at this stage, stitch the two layers of fabric together, either with the machine or by hand, along the open edge of the 'petals' about  0.5cm from the edge.

Now to secure your flower to its stalk- the green garden canes. The ones I have are 25cm in length, and I've cut them in half. You can hide the cut end in the centre of the flower.

Thread a piece of fuse wire through the fabric strip bringing it out the other end a couple of centimetres, bend either end of wire to stop fabric coming off it, then draw up the running stitch.

Secure one  end of the fuse wire to the end of the cane.

Then carefully start to form the flower head by wrapping the fabric strip round the top of the cane using the fuse wire to secure it.

 It's a bit fiddly but it should hold in place if the wire is tight-  take a bit of time here to shape the flower head. Once you reach the end secure using the wire.

Like previous projects you can modify this:
- change the dimensions of the fabric strips of create bigger/smaller flowers
-change the petal shape so you have more pointed petals or cut out using pinking shears
-instead of folding a strip of fabric use 2 long thinner strips of different fabrics sewn together, fold along the length of the seam.
-you can add leaves to the stems, again using wire to secure in place.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Vintage Fashion & Textiles -My Kind Of Heaven

Had the most fantastic Sunday spending it at a Vintage Fashion & Textile Fair in Manchester. The fair is held twice yearly at the Armitage Centre in Owens Park, which is part of Manchester University although the fairs are not organise by them. The spring fair is organised by The Textile Society and the September one by Decorative Fairs  It is an absolute must for anyone who has an interest in vintage/retro fashions and textiles with literally hundreds of stalls there. I had the most wonderful time mooching and rummaging, and meeting lots of folk who enthuse about fabric.
No photos from the actual event- far too busy looking (& spending) to take photos, but I thought I might share some of my buys (and there were a few she confesses guiltily).  They are all favourites but for different reasons, and some I didn't realise how much I loved  until I got home and had a really good look.

I bought a collection of knitting needles- when I picked up the bundle I didn't realise what was in it until I unwrapped it and found the most beautifully organised set of knitting needles. They had obviously belonged to a serious knitter- needles of all sizes in bamboo, metal and plastic, in various lengths and many double ended needles. To me a wonderful find, and scrutinising it when I got home it was difficult not to think about the previous owner and what they had made in the past. I'm afraid I get a little sentimental and feel it's a real privilege to take possesion of such an item.

Another purchase was a bumper tin of buttons- I was offered the box , the price was named and I have to say it was too good to resist. I hadn't the time to fully examine the contents of the tin there and then but I had a wonderful time going through the box when I got home, and wasn't disappointed.

 There were lots of sets of vintage buttons all sorts of sizes, a few novelty buttons and some glass buttons. I think the previous owner must have taken buttons of clothes once they had finished wearing them and stashed them for future use in their button tin- something I do myself.

 I wondered what they did with the rest of the items whether they were re-fashioned into other pieces of clothing or whether they were used to make something like another one of my purchases- a peg rug.

I said this was post was a bit of a confession, and it is. I found and brought home this fantastic peg or rag rug, what it's called depends on what part of the country you come from. These rugs like patchwork were made from bits of old and used fabric- the ultimate recycling. Many of the rugs haven't survived, or when you do find them they tend to be marked and damaged as they were made to be used and usually sat in front of the fire.

 This one is made from pieces of wool fabric, and someone has spent some time planning and designing the rug. It is in need of a little T.L.C and a wash but otherwise is just perfect. So I'm delighted with this and am going to give it a good home.
I won't list all my purchases as it is becoming a little self indulgent but I thought I might just show you this lovely wool jacket I picked up  (an absolute bargain ).

 It is beautifully made and finished- I just love the detail in the tailoring of the jacket particularly the sleeves, the pleat in the back and finish around the pockets and front seams.


It was absolutely wonderful to wander round the fair and look at the most exquisite dresses, outfits and accessories of all vintages, and fabrics and textiles again of all vintages from all around the world. 
The next fair in Manchester is in the spring and for details go to the Textile Society website- there is a bonus at their fairs as many of the textile guilds are also there including embroiderers and quilters along with the commercial sellers .Decorative Fairs do organise other fairs in the northwest of England and again more details will be found on their website.
Thanks for hearing my confession and perhaps I've even tempted you to indulge your passion for textiles and vintage fashion. If you feel the need for a little indulgence I would really recommend a trip to one of the fairs. 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ruby Gingham @ No16 The Downs

It's been quite busy the last few weeks in that I've been setting up my little patch in a fantastic new retail venture in Altrincham, a market town in Cheshire not far from Manchester. It's a place I know well having grown up there, and I'm a very frequent visitor still having family ties in the area. Like many small towns the last few years have been difficult, but now there's a fantastic movement to reinvogorate the town and bring back local shoppers. No 16 The Downs  can be found on the first floor of Traders Outlet on The Downs, and it provides the opportunity that a lot of crafters and small independent traders dream of- retail space at low risk.
So what can you find there? Well there is a fabulous selection vintage clothes & home wares, artists, and crafters plus a beautician and importantly a coffee shop with cakes (absolutely vital to any shopping trip). There is a real mix of independent traders and a very pleasant relaxed atmosphere to shop in.
My little patch that has been a bit of challenge to set up and stock- I'm use to setting up my stall at fairs and markets more or less on a weekly basis but this is a bit different. Firstly there is quite a bit more space and also I won't be on hand most of the time to keep it tidy- so planning it was important to make the most of the available space and incorporate some storage space. With the help of some magnolia paint, some Ikea shelving units and a very 'shabby chic' chest of drawers the space has evolved into my patch, though even after couple of weeks trading it's still a work in progress.
Ruby Gingham at the Crafty Little Cottage now has a home away from home at No16. It's great to have a place to display my work on a more permanent basis, and to be part of such an exciting venture.
So now there's is a lot of work to get the word out there and increase the awareness of the place. There has been a lot of coverage in the local press and last weekend No16 had its official launch. There was a tremendous response and the place was packed which was wonderful- here's hoping folk keep coming back and tell their friends. So fingers crossed...
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