Blog Archives

the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

And I’m gonna quit these ramblin’ ways
One of these days soon
And I’ll sing…

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs….
The Be Good Tanyas

The littlest birds: my faveI was quiet in December in part because I’d decided to make the majority of the presents I was going to give. I saw something in a magazine and thought “I could make those!”. So I went to the Exeter Fabric Centre to grab some offcuts of thin patterned cotton, ribbons and black sequins, and bought 500g of lavender from Daisy gifts. Then I got out the 1927 Singer machine and sewed.

With the outlines sewn, I sat with Cranford on the TV, stuffed each bird with lavender and finished them off with the ribbons and sequin eyes. Then I gave them away in pairs. Naturally, I couldn’t blog about them whilst I was making them, on account of giving them as pressies. I still have about 300g of the lavender, so I may end up making more and selling them just to use the stuff up!

The review linked to above about the Fabric Centre is spot on: after describing what I was making with the cottons, they said I had to bring them in to show them, so I will later in the month.

Crafty Business

Monday, 10 September 2007

or, why I love Etsy.

I got home today to find the first of the two stationery orders I have in at etsy had arrived. Satsuma Press is a letterpress run by Lynn in Portland OR. A lot of the stuff I love on Etsy is from Portland, including Kelly’s fabulous baby things and other letterpresses.

From Satsuma Press I got a set of 5 spring green flowering rush design cards for $15. Most UK readers will do the maths and realise that this is quite a bargain compared to buying a pack of notelet cards in a stationers here even after factoring in the airmail cost (financial and environmental). There’s a tiny bit of me which loves Etsy for the price, but the main reason I love it is because it allows me to find and support designers whose work is individualistic and lovely.

If you look around a card shop – either a specialist or a large branch of WH Smiths – what you find is prepackaged designs in fixed genres: the dire unfunny funny ones; the square photos of things in Magnum detail; the “we stuck on a bit of gauze with a glue gun so it is ‘hand-finished’” ones; the terrifying ‘for my darling relation’ ones only ever sent by lily-of-the-valley wearing grannies. Admittedly, you can also get Far Side ones but there’s only so many times a recipient can laugh at the one about the cows in the field. So Etsy provides a freedom from those narrow confines. Want a card with batik patterns and a bird? It’s here. Something bold and typographical, like a frame of a Saul Bass title sequence? Try Green Chair Press. Something with bees? Pearls and Marmalade. Bold and sassily retro? Pepperina press.

And it’s not just letterpress stuff, no. There are badges. Kung Fu Cowgirl badges. Crafty birdhouse badges. Retro badges.

The biggest problem is knowing how to pick your way through the choices. To a large extent, I rely on the judgement of design*sponge, as she has an eye for design similar to my own. Except all her sneak peaks into designers’ homes makes me think my own place is so scruffy. However, she has got a fab d*s letterpress guide which serves as a useful starting point. Why bother buying lots of little bits from many small presses? If you’re going to buy stationery anyway, you might as well spend the money on cards which are outside of the categories defined by card shops, at the same time as cutting out the middle man and ensuring the designer gets all the profit.

/whispers/ …and, er, it’s actually cheaper… /whispers/

Make Do and Mend

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

There’s a piece in this week’s Graniad weekend about the commericialisation of weddings in the last century. Although it focuses on the bride because, of course, that’s what the focus of weddings is. No one mentions the need of the guests to not merely get together a wedding outfit but to get together several so that you’re not always in the same party frock at all the weddings.

I’m off to a classic English job at the weekend and have spent the evening – when not being disrupted by all the noises out front* – altering a dress so that it fits in the bodice. Not one alterations person in the city would even countenence taking on a dress with boning in the bodice, so I am taking a crash course in modern corsetry. After an initial bout of uncertainty, the 1927 Singer machine has behaved and I’ve got two of the four seams done. I’ll have to keep my head down for the next two evenings to get it ready in time though.

* It’s worse than normal tonight: lots of incoherent moaning and crashing about. It used to be that you could set your clock by the 11.20 post-pub leariness but this didn’t start till just after midnight. Maybe someone’s launched a particularly strong cider: you always get the worst pub drunks on cider. Ooh, yep. Sirens. Must be a punch up somewhere.

Exeter Goes Pop!

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Ages ago I made these cushions for the new sofa using some Liberty print wipeable fabric. Today I was giving the bathroom the same sort of minor (and, more importantly, free) revamp that the bedroom got in January. I’d intended just to clean the place thoroughly but ended up putting up some shelves that I’d taken out of the room five years earlier but hadn’t got around to putting up elsewhere. They’re in a new place, and have new functions but still… I also recovered the bathroom stool:
Bathroom stool

In amidst the two bins of stuff I cleared out of the room – mainly expired medicines and long forgotten cosmetics – I also found the little booklet which was given out at The Living Room on 11th April 1997.

In the future the Living Room would like to see several things happen. In no particular order these may be:
More nail polish, particularly on male fingers. (Nails obviously, not fingers themselves).
More requests for Country & Western music.
Hats of all descriptions being worn at all times.
The ‘Whizz Bang’ and the ‘California Lemonade’ being the drinks of choice.
Belle & Sebastian being warmly embraced in the hearts of all lovers in the world.
The word ‘winsome’ being used as often as possible.

This manifesto was from Alistair (of Tangents, Plan B etc). I loved the Living Room whilst it ran. We ate little cakes and enjoyed pop of fine quality. Wonderfully, A is back on the decks with a new night in Exeter: Exeter Goes Pop!. I had to miss the first one but the next is on 14th March.

I shall, possibly, wear a winsome hat.


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