Well here we are on the first day of meteorological spring and it seems my creativity (and my confidence in it) is returning! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been hand stitching some EPP (english paper piecing) hexagons together and completing various projects. English Paper Piecing is primarily a technique for creating pieces of patchwork and is mostly used by quilters to create traditional looking quilts. I have neither the patience nor the skill required for creating full sized quilts but I have rather taken to the process of English Paper Piecing itself and as a result have found ways to use the technique in smaller projects. Here are the things I have created using the EPP technique recently:
It’s been such fun making these that I bought some more paper templates in different shapes and sizes so I can have a go at squares and diamonds now too. I wasn’t sure I had enough suitable fabrics in my stash to pursue my new favourite craft but my husband has sorted that one and I’m now awaiting delivery of my belated birthday present of a Liberty Fat Quarter bundle!
All that hand sewing did get to me at one point and I had to let off a bit off steam by running up a quick patchwork cushion cover on the machine.
Oops. I accidentally made it out of the same fabrics as the other two cushions on the sofa. So much for my goal to experiment with different prints!
In other non-sewing related news, I’ve not been outside much, just a couple of short walks to the post box and a weekly trip down the cobbles to collect the wheelie bin. Whenever I do go out it feels very crowded and I’m not sure I feel all that safe sometimes. We live right next to a park which is great during normal times but not so great during a lockdown as people tend to flock there in great numbers for their daily exercise, using the surrounding streets as a car park which just means it’s busy all of the time and people generally don’t bother to socially distance when they are outside I find. So I’ve set about making my indoor environment a little more inviting so I don’t feel so ‘stuck’. There are a thousand little jobs I want to do in the house to make it more homely but sometimes even the little things feel like huge mountains so they’ve been put off for the last two years. Actually if I’m honest there’s quite a lot of procrastinating been going on here for a while and things are looking a bit rough round the edges.
In the last couple of weeks though, I feel like I’ve been getting somewhere. The kitchen got a thorough wipe down last week and as I was buffing up the high gloss cupboards (that I hate) I suddenly realised what was missing. My art cards! You see, the kitchen in my last house was in a permanent state of ‘redevelopment’ so I never really bothered to settle into it in the twelve years I was there, but in the three houses I had lived in prior to that one I had pictures stuck up all over the kitchen cupboards and some on the walls too. The last kitchen in which I had the pictures up, also had high gloss cabinets and that’s what made me remember! So I rummaged through drawers and boxes of random stuff for what I could and managed to pull together a little collection of postcards and old birthday cards, some sent to me by friends and family, some bought simply because I liked them. I spent a little time deciding where to put them and then stuck them in the places that looked most desolate to the eye.
I wish I’d done it ages ago. It brought the kitchen to life and has instantly made me feel more at home. Over the course of the week I added a couple more things to the kitchen, one of them a mini bunting at the window that I made from vintage Laura Ashley fabric (I’m so predictable!) ages ago but never put anywhere. The other was the little blue hexie flower that I mentioned earlier, which also happens to be made from vintage Laura Ashley fabric (I promise you I do use other fabrics!). I wanted to show you the bunting but it will have to wait for another day when the light is better.
I’ve also spent a lot of time re-jigging my website this week because I wasn’t happy with the appearance. I think I’ve settled on it now so I apologise to anyone who has visited recently and found it in maintenance mode!
What a strange and emotional week I’ve had. We have been watching the 1970s series Upstairs Downstairs recently, one episode a night and on Wednesday evening we watched the final episode. I cried like a baby, first when my husband announced we were about to watch the last episode and again in response to various events on screen as it drew to a close. I cried again the night after when we sat down for the evening and it felt like there was a huge chasm left where life at 165 Eton Place used to be. Is it normal to feel like this after watching a TV series? I’ve watched my fair share of period drama but nothing has ever touched me the way this has. I felt as if I knew the characters personally and some of them I grew extremely fond of. I will miss Mrs Bridges and Mr Hudson the most I think. Proxy parents to the rest of the servants, they held everything steady and kept everything proper while maintaining an air of kindness and warmth, well most of the time anyway, perhaps it’s best not to think too much about how Mrs Bridges treated poor Ruby the kitchen maid!
I find myself totally immersed in that period of history, frustrated that our 1910 house bears little resemblance to it’s former self no thanks to it’s various owners over the past century. I would love to put it all back the way it was but we’re unlikely to ever have the sort of funds needed to take on such a task, so I shall have to find my Edwardian fix by watching Upstairs Downstairs on a loop and visiting Beamish.
In other news this week, I have been in receipt of some lovely ‘new to me’ things! Right at the beginning of the week I took delivery of this charming vintage french miniature chest of drawers from RubyTuesdaysLoft on Etsy. When I purchased them I wasn’t completely sure of where I was going to put them or what I was going to use them for but obviously they had to go on my desk somewhere and it soon became clear what they should be used for, a new home for my embroidery threads!
The postman also brought me a couple of Laura Ashley dresses from the 80s, a pair of worn old curtains made from Laura Ashley Nutmeg for my fabric stash, a vintage skirt that is likely to end up in the shop because it’s too small for me, and some old wooden coathangers just because. I feel like I’ve had a mini Christmas everyday this week, especially with all that red and green!
I’ve also managed to squeeze in a bit of stitching and found time to get some of these little hearts finished, framed and up for sale in the shop.
The new shop seems to be going well. Last week I finally closed my old one and began listing the cards in the new one. I studied the traffic statistics for my old shop and realised the majority of customers were from internal Etsy searches which means I am confident the same level of sales will continue. I’m sad that I have to say goodbye to all the lovely feedback past customers have left me but honestly it’s a small price to pay if it means a certain person can no longer attempt to contact me. There are some things that are better left in the past.
I’ve no idea how many weeks of lockdown we are on now but it is definitely months and not days or weeks. But I didn’t set up this space because of lockdown or to moan about it, I only mention it because it has taken me all that time for me to feel at all creative, be it in the literal making something sense or in the thinking and writing sense. I put it down largely to the fact that I currently share my space with three other people trying to work and study from home and being ‘mum’ means I have been the glue holding everything together, providing the meals and clean laundry. If I’m honest this is pretty much our normal anyway but everyone suddenly being home full time created a lot more work, especially in the kitchen! As things started to settle I began to find a new rhythm and started to get out the sewing machine again. Rather appropriately, one of the first things I made was a cover for my sewing machine to replace the flimsy vinyl one that came with the machine when I got it eleven years ago. The fabric is one of my absolute favourite vintage Laura Ashley prints called Wild Clematis and was originally a duvet cover I found on Ebay. I did consider using it as a duvet cover but the fabric is perhaps a little too fragile now to stand up to regular washing so I added it to my fabric store instead.
I always look for used items when I need something and this week my virtual rummaging for thrifty second hand things brought me this beautifully embroidered cardigan and a leather satchel. The cardigan is so pretty but I am really excited about the leather satchel becacuse It’s something I have been looking for for quite some time. Most are too big for my needs but this one is perfect and I know I will be using it forever or until it drops to bits!
You can’t beat a bit of second hand retail therapy to lift the spirits but this morning it was definitely these lovely big courgette flowers doing the job as I sipped my coffee in the garden at 7 am.
These are nearly all the early male flowers but I did spot one little tiny fruit starting to form so there maybe a tiny courgette to show you next week. My tomato is flowering too but it’s the first time I have grown one a, outdoors and b, in this particular garden so I’m not confident they will get enough heat and light to set fruit properly but the fun is in the growing so it won’t be a complete waste of time if they don’t fruit.
So these are my days. Sewing and growing during the day and watching the television with my husband in the evenings. We’re working our way through Upstairs Downstairs (1970s) at the moment and I’m loving all the Edwardian costumes and decor in addition to the gripping story lines! I’ve become more interested in the period since we bought our 1910 house. Unfortunately a lot of the original character was long gone before we moved in, but I hope to bring a little tradition back over time by choosing appropriate decor and furniture. I often wonder who might have lived here during past decades. How did the first and second world wars affect them? Did children live here? What did my living room look like when it was built or in the 1930s or even the 80s? What was the kitchen like before it was extended? I guess I’ll never know for sure but I’m starting to get a better idea the more I research. Perhaps it’s something I can explore more as this blog evolves.
Hello I’m Natalie. Textiles artist, amateur vintage Laura Ashley collector, massive Bagpuss fan (hence Auntie Feedle) and novice English Paper Piecer. Once country bumpkin, now urban dweller. I love tiny floral prints, folk anything and prancing about in old Laura Ashley gear. Regular time traveller to the 1970s.