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.

Bookmark and Share

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.

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!

Bookmark and Share

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.



Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Recycling Samples

I am always on the look out for new fabrics to use.  I have to admit it is a slight obsession as no matter where I go, I keep on the look out for fabrics in any form, from new to old, remnants to clothing.

If you don't need large pieces of fabric for sewing projects fabric sample books are a really good source.  Once a range of fabric has been discontinued, the stores no longer need the fabric sample books and often sell them off cheaply.  Needless to say good ones get snapped up quickly, so it helps if you have a good contact in a store.

Yesterday, I spent a fabulous half hour or so rummaging in a shed at the back of a furnishing store - with their permission obviously!  There were shelves and boxes full of old sample books for sale.  When it comes to fabric, I know instantly what I like and also, more importantly, what I will use a particular fabric for.  Some samples are too small to be of use to me and other fabric have a design that is too big, so they get discarded as well.

I ended up with six sample books all with completely different patterns and colours of furnishing fabric.  Looking at the price lists in the back, some of the fabrics were really expensive.  I certainly would never have even considered buying them off the roll as they would not be economic to use.  The sum total for my six books was the bargain price of £20 though.

The best bit but also the hardest bit is taking the books apart.  You can simply cut the fabric out but you lose a few centimetres doing that.  If the samples are small to start with, you don't really want to lose any more that you have to.  I prefer to rip the binding apart and gradually rip the fabrics out.  Most are stuck in with really strong glue, so it's not easy.  I ended up with a large stack of gorgeous fabrics though which will last me a while, so it was definitely worth the effort.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Getting to Grips With Oven Gloves

Oven gloves have been on my ideas list for longer than I can remember.  When I am constantly spending time remaking sold items, I never seem to quite manage to try anything new.  I realised that unless I actually discontinued some items and took a break from restocking, I probably never would.

I finally decided to give oven gloves a go when I found a pattern template in a craft magazine.  I duly cut out the pattern, sewed the bits together and wondered why it had taken me so long to make a pretty simple item.  However, as I was looking at my glove, I couldn't help thinking the thumb looked a bit small.  When I tried it on, the thumb was skin tight and I hadn't even lined the glove at that point.  Looking at the pattern again, even that looked a bit out of proportion, so I don't think it was my sewing skills.

Having wasted some perfectly good fabric, I got annoyed with oven gloves and decided pot holders were far easier.  How hard could a padded square be to make?  Very easy as it turned out, until I came to put bias binding around the edge to hide the raw edges of the fabric.  I had forgotten what a complete fiasco binding things is.  Well maybe that is down to my sewing skills as lots of other people seem to make perfectly bias bound pot holders.  I got even more annoyed and shelved the whole oven glove idea again.

Having calmed down (a few months later!), I decided to have one more go at an oven glove.  This time I drew my own pattern and chose one of my favourite cotton fabrics.  If this had gone wrong I would have been really, really annoyed.  I cut it out, sewed it together and it fitted my hand, well, like a glove really!

The only tricky bit was pinning in the lining as I kept sticking myself with all of the pins.  Next time tacking it will probably solve that issue.  Yes, there will definitely be another and hopefully another after that until I realise that I really do need to make time to try out another item on my ideas list.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 15 March 2013


Before the dawn of the internet, I spent lots of weekends packing up my wares and setting up shop in a village hall somewhere in a neighbouring village.  There was never any rhyme or reason to how many people came to the event but if it rained then you were probably in for a slow day.  Even if lots of people did come to the craft fair, there was no guarantee anyone would actually buy anything.  Most came just to browse the crafts and then go home with a homemade cake.

The internet has certainly changed all that!  20 years ago, I never would have imagined selling my products countrywide, let along worldwide.  Let's face it, I never would have imagined selling via my computer - I didn't even own one back then.

I am still not a fan of packing up my wares and driving them around the countryside to a school or village hall.  It is far too much hassle for hit or miss sales figures.  I would far rather spend the time at home sewing, knowing that my products are being viewed 24/7, globally in cyberspace.

When I heard about CRAFTfest, it seemed the ideal solution.  For one week, from 16th to 23rd March, 146 different craft businesses are gathering for a virtual craft fair.  Not only can the public come and view a huge variety of handmade items from the comfort of their armchair, the sellers don't have to leave home either.  Perfect!

The CRAFTfest concept is very simple.  Anyone can view the products for sale at where all of the different sellers are split into a variety of categories.  Every seller has a photograph of each of their products in an album and every item has the price, description and a link to where the item can be bought.  Sellers can click through from the photograph of an item  to buy it from the seller's website, Etsy store, Folksy store or whereever.  That's all there is to it.

It's free to visit CRAFTfest and you don't need to join either.  You've got all week, so come and take a peek!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, 11 February 2013

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

There are three things in life that most women would say you can never have enough of, shoe, handbags and cushions.  A sofa is incomplete without a whole array of cushions in various shapes, colours and sizes.  Once the sofa and armchairs are full, there's always the beds to cover in cushions too.

 On the other hand, most men would probably agree that there are always too many cushions everywhere cluttering up the furniture.  In my house, cushions seem to mysteriously disappear down the side of the sofa or end up thrown all over the floor, only to be placed neatly back on the sofa each night when I go to  bed.  Oddly the culprit complained the other day that he needed a new cushion as his was now too flat.  I suggested he try the one he had secreted down beside the sofa a few weeks ago.

For me, my love of cushions will probably never end.  I can't keep buying them though, there's a limit even for me.  Instead I keep my cushion buying habit at bay by making my own and hopefully selling them on to other cushion lovers. 

I have to admit though that one of my retro ones is now residing on one my sofas and I am rather partial to the tie cushion I made too.  Actually, now I think of it, the embroidered one I made would look good in my kitchen ....

So, if you are reading this, feeling a little uncomfortably in your chair, why not take a look at what else I have in stock?  Everybody could do with at least one more cushion in their life.

Bookmark and Share