Saturday, 1 March 2014

Decluttering and the Laws of Attraction

Since starting From Rags To Bags, over five years ago, my study/sewing room has become overrun with fabric, ribbons, buttons and all sorts of other craft bits.  I admit I've had a tendency to hoard but you never know when something will come in handy.

The result of my hoarding was not only the built in wardrobe packed to the rafters but fabric being stacked over every surface and also overflowing onto the floor.  Trying to get to my sales stock in the wardrobe was a nightmare as I was constantly having to shift everything stacked up in front of the doors.  The bookcase was groaning under the weight of fabric piled on top, the shelves were bowing and the sides were falling apart. I realised a few months ago that I really needed a sort out.

Having mulled over the problem for a while, I decided to invest in some heavy duty racking.  Whilst it may look a bit industrial it was the most practical solution.  I was going to buy cupboards but I was worried about the load bearing capabilities of the shelves and also realised that having to constantly open and shut the doors would wear thin eventually.

I was pleasantly surprised when I searched online for racking, to find that it came in a variety of colours, including a royal blue which matched my chair and curtains.  The shelves could also hold up to 250Kg each.  Perfect!

I have spent the last couple of days sorting through every single piece of fabric, trying to decide if I liked it and more importantly if I would ever use it.  Some has gone in the rag bag which I donate to a local wildlife charity.  They in turn sell it to a rag merchant for recycling, so nothing is wasted.  The useful remnants I discarded (which was a really big bag full) have gone off to the local hospice shop for them to sell and raise funds.  The remainder, is now neatly sorted and stacked in plastic storage boxes on the racking.  My sales stock is also easily accessible now on the top with the remainder in the wardrobe which I can now get to as well.  I can't believe I have so much more room again now either.

However, I am now fighting the universal laws of physics.  I am convinced that as soon as you declutter and make space an invisible force field kicks in sucking new items back into the void.  I popped into town yesterday to drop off the large bag of remnants into the charity shop, only to find myself ten minutes later buying a fabric sample book from the soft furnishings shop on the way back to the car park! The shop had very helpfully put the book outside with their remnants so I couldn't miss it.  They label they had stuck on the book suggested patchwork but the fabric is perfect for my doorstops.  How could I resist?

So, once again, I found myself this morning sorting through more new fabric, trying to decide which bits to keep and then trying to cram them all into the already over full storage boxes.  Perhaps if I have paid more attention in my physics lessons at school I would know how to avoid the magnetic laws of attraction.  I blame Newton personally, I'm sure he would have had a theory about it.
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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Butterflies Clothes Peg Bag Give Away

Want to win a pretty butterflies clothes peg bag?  Then simply follow the link and enter the competition From Rags To Bags is running in conjunction with the website Wow Thank You.

Entering is easy, all you need to do is browse the From Rags To Bags shop on Wow Thank You and find the answer to the question, "There is a peg bag in From Rags To Bags’ WowThankYou store that depicts a famous city – which city?".

Answer a, b or c to the options and leave your name and email address in the boxes provided. 

The competition closes at midnight UK time on 15th March, so you have plenty of time to get your entry in.  Everyone is welcome, regardless of where you are in the world.

Click here to enter competition.

Good luck! 

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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Farnham Maltings Patchwork Show

Every year in January, the Farnham Maltings, in Surrey, holds a Quilters' Exhibition and fabric sale. The rabbit warren of a building is packed to the rafters with stalls selling fabrics and accessories as well as patchwork quilts and samplers from patchwork groups in the area.

Whilst I don't patchwork in the real sense myself, someone mentioned the fabric sale was worth going to, so I thought I would go and have a look last weekend.  As Farnham is not far from me and the entrance fee was only £5, I thought it was probably worth a look even if I didn't buy any fabric - which seemed unlikely!

I was slightly surprised to find the nearby car park was packed, as it was a cold and wet Sunday.  As soon as I got through the door of the Maltings, I realised why though.  Every inch of the building was filled with eager patchwork enthusiasts all looking for a fabric bargain.  Whilst it was all very good natured, there was a lot of jostling and bumping as people tried to get a look at the fabrics for sale.

I did eventually buy some fabric at a very reduced price,  but it was the patchwork quilts on show that really made the trip worthwhile.  I was astonished at the variety, not to mention quantity on show, in all manner of colour, shape, size and design.  Some very traditional, others more free flowing.  Whether hand or machine stitched, the hours of work involved was quite extraordinary.  I really don't know whether I would ever have the time or the patience.

There were quite a few that I could quite easily have bought if they were for sale.  I loved the quite traditional, multi coloured quilt above which utilised a huge assortment of fabrics.  On the other hand I was also drawn to a more arty piece which was inspired by a moonlit walk in Crete.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Behind The Costumes

In recent years the fashion for bling has grown considerably with everything from mobile phones to trainers being customised with diamantés. One of the founding fathers of bling though has to be the late entertainer, Liberace, who was world famous for not only his vocal and piano playing skills but also his flamboyant stage costumes.

The release of the biopic film "Behind the Candelabra", starring Michael Douglas as Liberace, has certainly brought Liberace back into the limelight.  If you are in Las Vegas soon, don't miss the free exhibition of some of Liberace's costumes, his diamanté covered grand piano and car, at The Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Having seen this car (you really can't miss it!) prominently displayed at the entrance to The Cosmpolitan's casino, I wandered into the exhibition of costumes. Once you are over the shock of so much bling in one place, you can't help but be amazed at the amount of work which went into each suit, not to mention the full length capes.

Thousands of beads and crystals were appliqued all over the costumes in intricate designs, making some suits alone weigh about 80lb.  Capes could add a further 40lb in weight.  Looking at the mannequins displaying the costumes, you soon realise that Liberace was not overly tall and also a relatively slight build.  In order to counter balance the weight of the costumes he was wearing, Liberace had extra lead in his shoes.

A museum of Liberace's costumes and personal effects was open to the public in Las Vegas for 31 year but sadly closed a couple of years ago.  There are plans to hopefully reopen the museum in the downtown area in 2014 though.  In the meantime, you can view the Cosmpolitan exhibition from 3pm to 10pm daily.

Please click on the photos for a closer look.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A Tale of Two Tea Towels

I am constantly on the look out for interesting fabrics.  I think I actually do it subconsciously,  whether it be in fabric shops, car boot sales, charity shops or jumble sales.  Or as was the case the other day, the local supermarket whilst doing my weekly shop.

I tend to find that one item just leads seamlessly to another and this time it all began with a small wooden anchor I was given at some point in the past, which is painted black.  Then a year or so ago, I bought half a metre of fabric on the market in Salisbury as it had yachts on it.  In my mind I pictured a doorstop in the fabric with the wooden anchor attached.  Needless to say, it has all sat in my to do pile since.

A couple of weeks ago, I was drifting past the home ware aisles in the supermarket, no doubt thinking about something else entirely, when I spotted a pack of tea towels.  One had small yachts sailing across it, one was red with thin white stripes and the third was plain white.  The similarity between the tea towel with the yachts on instantly jogged my memory back to my fabric with larger yachts on it, so the tea towels ended up in my trolley.  I can't help myself sometimes, I just love fabric.

Having discarded the plain white tea towel, it took me another week or so to ponder what to do with the other two.  I finally came up with the idea of a patchwork cushion.  I thought about including the wooden anchor which start the whole chain of buying but decided it wasn't really practical.

The narrow red and cream fabric was a remnant picked up recently in Marlborough when out with a friend shopping. I had the cushion in mind and knew I needed another fabric to complete it. Thankfully my friend is a sewer and fabric hoarder too, so is quite patient when it comes to trawling through fabric shops.  The red and white spotty strip was a piece I had floating around in my ribbon box.  I have to admit, I am pretty pleased with the result and even have enough fabric left to make a few more.  As for what to do with the wooden anchor, I still have no idea!

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Monday, 9 September 2013

Wow Thank You

Having successfully sold my creations on my own website, Etsy, Folksy and Dawanda for quite a few years, I decided to try my luck on another similar site - Wow Thank You.

Based in the UK, the site was launched in March 2010 by Tracey Kifford and a friend but is now solely run by Tracey.  The aim of the site is to support and promote small, UK based art and craft businesses.  Having seen the name Wow Thank You pop up regularly in magazines over the last couple of years, I believe that is certainly being done very well.  With a background in journalism, I am sure Tracey certainly has the knowledge to not only market the site but also the members in the media.

The one off joining fee for the site is usually £40 but with promotion at the moment, I only had to pay £20.  With no listing fees to pay, regardless of how many items I list on the site, joining didn't really seem much of a gamble.  When I make a sale (fingers crossed) I will have to pay a seller's commission of 10% which again seems very reasonable and is certainly in line with other websites.

Even setting up my Wow Thank You store was easy.  I had to fill in a form with all of my business details and the Wow Thank You team did the rest.  As soon as I received my log in details, all of my information we already filled in for me, so all I needed to do was start listing my products.  With a very useful duplicate option, I could very quickly list all my door stops, just changing titles, some of the description and the photos.  The remaining details such as postage costs etc we all copied from the previous listing.

My Wow Thank You shop is now offering 49 products for sale and I am awaiting my first customer.  If you order in September, I am offering a 10% discount on your order.  Simply visit my store at:

And quote "WOW10%" at checkout for your discount.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Upcycling Patchwork

One of my favourite shopping haunts is Salisbury as it offers an array of shops as well as numerous charity shops, craft/fabric shops and also an antique centre over three floors.  As I am always on the hunt for interesting fabrics and old textiles, I am usually spoilt for choice and never fail to come home armed with more fabric for my pile.

A few months ago, I was browsing the items for sale on a vintage clothing stall in the antiques centre, when I spotted a piece of folded up patchwork.  It caught my eye instantly as it was made from pieces of tweed and other suit fabrics.  Whether is was actually made from old clothing or just off cuts of fabric I shall never know but it was the perfect weight for handbag fabric.

When I unfolded the patchwork, I discovered it was in fact a long patchwork skirt.  It had been completely hand stitched with even the zip and lining sewn in by hand.  It was quite weighty and I would imagine too warm to be practical with modern central heating.  I loved the skirt as it was but my thoughts were to actually cut it up and turn it into handbags.  At a cost of £22 it seemed a bargain to me.  I hate to think how many hours it took someone to make, not just the sewing but also cutting out all the pieces to start with.

When I finally took the skirt apart, I did feel slightly guilty I have to admit.  Cutting through someones handiwork made me feel even worse!  As soon as I had cut the side panels for the handbag though I knew I was doing the right thing.  The patchwork matched perfectly with some pale green corduroy which I had found in a charity shop.  The inside has been lined with an old shirt and also has two mismatched shirt pockets sewn on one side for a phone and tissues.  A further zipped pocket on the other side completes the bag.

Now that it's finished, I am really pleased with the result.  I love the colours and the fact that it is a totally unique handbag which will never be repeated.  I have enough patchwork for another bag but the fabrics and colours will be different as the original skirt was made up of so many different fabrics.



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