Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Fabric... and French or maybe Fondant Fancies

Fabric.  Let's talk fabric.  I rather like it but then you know that already.  I think my first love will always be the fabulous florals of the 1940s and thereabouts.  I also like the modern reproductions of those cute fabrics of the 1930s and '40s and I am partial to some full on 1950's blowsy roses.  More recently, I've found I also have an appreciation for fabrics of a more faded and gentle nature.  I had a few here in my Den and I rooted for some more at the outdoor fair the other week.  I was submerged in "the look", being decidedly French, faded and floral I'd suggest, when I went to the Cabbages and Roses brocante  a few weeks ago so I think it's all just an inevitable snowball of influences.

Order book cleared and "time for a rest" declared,  I have found myself spending a little bit of time in the garden, when the sunshine has permitted it.  I was accompanied by some delicious fudge and some delicious French scraps.  Oooh fancy!  (I had an aunt whose favourite declaration that once was.)

When I just have to be doing something with my hands (not popping piece after piece of sea salted caramel fudge in my chops), a little project like these raggy brooches fits the bill.

Whilst I'm idly selecting scraps from my comfy garden sofa, I can look right to the bottom of the garden where the roses are gaily blooming away with wild abandon.  That's my absolute favourite at the front: Jubilee Celebration by David Austin.

If I'm lucky and Mr HenHouse is at home, he might join me and play some of our growing collection of Glenn MIller 78s on the wartime gramophone.

I inevitably have company of the furry kind, too.

Talking of France and all things French, the Munchkin was away on a school trip to the very same place last week and finding ourselves child-free, the Mr and I decided to hop over ourselves and collect our wine which had been trucked up to Calais from Bordeaux.  It was an utterly glorious day for crossing La Manche.

We made the obligatory stop at the hypermarket where we ended up with yet more wine, fizzy this time, and all manner of weird and wonderful goodies.  Violet liqueur anyone?

Back at the ranch, it was time to get sampling and make the most of these light evenings.  Love it when good fizz is so cheap you don't have to save it just for high days and holidays.

All this Frenchy business got me thinking and I decided to retrieve and sort out my rather meagre collection of old (mainly) French fabrics.  Well, it's meagre in comparison with everything else.

I was in need of a new bag for Summer.  Something pretty to accompany me on my trips.  It didn't take long for a spot of patchworky magic to take place.

The very next day, the bag and I went on a little pilgrimage.  Hopping off at Sloan Square tube station, I strolled up Chelsea's Kings Road and found a little side street I must have passed many times,  by the name of Sydney.  There I found my destination.

For those of you who want to know, it's two little shops joined together side by side.  One has clothing (not really my bag), the other has homewares.  Oh yes.  It is very beautifully arranged, I found myself wishing it was bigger.

I walked round many times, taking it all in and seeing all the fabrics in the flesh.  A little disappointingly, you cannot buy any fabrics  there and then, they are all kept in the warehouse and have to be ordered.  I guess that saved me a few (a lot) of pennies and I came away happy with a hyacinth candle and some fabric samples for me to make my choices.

The bag enjoyed its trip (but oh!  I lost that beautiful vintage brooch).  Full of inspiration, I didn't need to be asked twice to get sewing.

Bags, bags, bags.  Well, ok, four of them to be precise.  Red themed French Fancy ones.  Oooh, I like them.

Pinky pastel, Fondant Fancy ones.  Hmm, maybe I like those more?

I can't get enough bag making at the moment!  I have quite an enviable collection of bags I think, but then when you make them yourself, there's nothing stopping you.  Good job my taste doesn't run to the Mulberry!

I've also finished some raggy brooches.

Thanks for reading. Xxx

P.S.  Yes, a couple of bags, along with some raggy brooches, currently remain in my Etsy shop here.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Here Comes Summer

Hello readers.  It's true isn't it, for those of us in Blighty?  We're enjoying some fabulous weather at the moment.  I cannot get enough of it.  England in the sunshine, you cannot beat it.  Everything in the garden is at its peak; the fruit has started to ripen, the roses are blooming, the birds have fledged and I've picked the first raspberries.  The ones old Blackie did not beat me to.  I watched him feeding his fat fluffy baby, feasting on my ripe red fruit!  It was worth it for the privilege of the spectacle.

Summer fruit means a few things to me.  One: Eton Mess, oh yes indeedy.  Two: jam, jam and more JAM!  Whilst the Mr and the Master were out on a Scouting activity day in the woods recently, they foraged some elderflower for me.  There you see it, suspended in its muslin bag in the brewing strawberries.  Just delicious.  Bring on the scones.

Last Tuesday, I experienced a day which left me reeling.  I consider myself a bit of an old hand at this vintagey lark so it doesn't happen that often.  I took myself off, armed with map, for the South of England Showground or as most folks affectionately call it, Ardingly.  I have been here before, as there is a quilting show here in January and it is very close by the boys' favourite Bluebell Steam Railway.  However, I'd not before attended the antiques and collectors fair.

I've been to the same type of IACF fairs at Newark (pretty fabulous but must be twelve years or more since I've been) and Shepton Mallet.  Given this one is not much more than an hour or so away, I don't know why I haven't been before.  It was a glorious day, I was quite red faced by the time I got home later that afternoon!

OH MY!!!   This event is huge.  It is held mainly outdoors but there are some indoor areas too, and quite a lot of gazebo type affairs.  It is quite overwhelming in scale as it's massive, I think it would be too tiring to even try to see the whole thing in a day.  I found myself wandering round looking out for anything vaguely textile-y.  

I found it.

Let me at it.

What I liked about this event so much was that there was plenty of cheaper moochy stuff on offer.  At the Shepton Mallet Antiques event, I do think there is more of an emphasis on the expensive.  Diamonds or a Rolex anyone?  This was much more like Shepton's flea market but much better even.  I know. Yikes!!!  The only downside?  £20 to get in.  Yes.  Ouch.  I've forgotten it already as obviously, had the hordes of other folks there.

There was everything on offer from textiles to furniture to jewellery and everything in between.  There was a lot of French stuff, I thought, which is quite popular amongst the well-heeled Sussex set, maybe.   Lots of washed-out white and pastel stuff, linens, enamelware and chippy paint.

This stall was literally mind blowing.  It was huge and had more haberdashery stuff than you could shake your (vintage) knitting needles at.  I was a bit speechless.

Did I find any fabrics?  You bet I did.  More than I could actually buy or carry.  Vintage European linens anyone?

It wasn't all textiles.  I've always fancied a dovecote.  One day.

I came home with arms which certainly felt twice the length and a really thrilling horde of goodies. 

The next day, I spent a good while hand washing all these tiny snippets of fabrics.  I can't wait to get creating with them.

After all that very hard shopping, there has had to be a bit of downtime in the evenings.  As we Brits know only too well, you need to make the most of this weather.  Eating outdoors is most definitely on the agenda.

The furry friends are really feeling their furry coats at the moment.

I'm gripped with a Ros Byam Shaw book and English country house style obsession at the moment.  I've just devoured Perfect English which I finally managed to get my hands on via Ebay, not having bought it first time around.  Now I'm onto this one.  The rose is definitely flowing in these here parts.

Over the weekend, we repaired westwards to our little slice of country.  What an idyll it is at the moment.  It was a certain somebody's birthday.  Presents in bed, hurrah, followed by a super day at a steam railway.

Today, back at home and with a new exciting (long promised) quilt commission on my hands, it was time to clear the decks and tidy the Den.  Time to find space for my new goodies.

Perfect unused Forties' fabrics.  Old haberdashery and millinery flowers.  Buttons with budgies on.  A felt flowery needle case.  Wartime Housewife magazines.  An old chocolate box choc-full of gorgeous embroidery silks in every colour of the rainbow.  Some other things too (cough cough).  I am happy.  *Sigh*

I hope there is plenty keeping you happy these days. Xxx

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Friendly Quilt and More

It's a good few years since I started blogging but Instagram has been a more recent phenomenon for me.  I love it because it's so quick and easy, very visual and is a great way for keeping in touch, almost as if you're with the person there and then.

I've also met some really lovely people, some of whom have become friends, through both blogging and IG.  Erin is one of these people, a lovely smiley lady who also lives in London and shares a love of crafting.  We've got together quite a few times, either at the crafternoons she holds at her "Granny Shack" or here in the HenHouse.  Awww.

I was thrilled when Erin mentioned some time ago that she might like to have a quilt made.  We pinned away a few images for inspiration on Pinterest and finally got together here in the Den one Sunday afternoon to ransack my stash.  No purple, I had to remember!  I knew Erin liked bright colours, she wanted the main colour to be red, and she liked feedsack style designs.  I pulled out an awful lot of stash to get a good mix.

We settled on a design that was a real hotchpotch mix of styles.  Some sixteen and one-patch blocks, some rail fence and log cabin style.  The pile soon grew.  I enjoyed making the blocks with my friend in mind and with those colours, you couldn't help but feel cheerful.

Design wall time came a few days later...

Then it was basting and quilting.  I enjoyed being able to give Erin instantaneous updates via IG and it was nice to hear her friends getting excited on her behalf and telling me they thought the quilt was very "Erin"!

There could be only one choice for binding.

Erin said she could come over to meet her quilt in person once it was ready.  So exciting!  

Do you know, of all the (ninety-three) quilts I've made, this is the only one I've ever handed over to a recipient in person.  Even those I've made for family have always had to be sent in the post.  Would she like it?  Eeek!

I persuaded her out into the garden for a little photoshoot.

By jove, I think she likes it!

It was a dream to make, my privilege to be chosen by Erin to make her quilt and so so wonderful to be able to see her reaction on seeing it for the first time.  Thank you, friend.  Here's to Erin and her quilt!

If I may digress and slip in another ta-dah, I'm on a bit of a quilty roll so here is another pretty quilt though sadly it has had to make do without an Erin-style reveal!  

It's a mix of smallish squares in pretty pretty prints and low volume fabrics.  Fun and cute!

It is in my Etsy shop looking for a new home if you feel tempted.