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Quilting without machinery

Looking at quilting videos these days can put you off crafting I think!

There’s been a lot of advances in technology recently with sewing machines having longer arms and quilting frames and well, all sorts of wonderful magical equipment.

If you’re looking at getting into quilting you might come across a video like this…

Then you might start looking online for the equipment you’d need to start quilting and, well then you’d need a sit down and a cup of tea.

I’m all for innovation in crafting, but we should never put aside the traditional methods.

So in September I’m starting a series of hand quilting workshops at my local Hobbycraft store.

Six weeks of trying out different quilting and patchwork techniques and not a machine or expensive piece of equipment in sight.

I’ll bring all the tools you need and some fabric, but people might be wanting to chose a £7 bundle of fat quarters in their own colour choice from Hobbycraft.

You don’t need to buy large rulers or fabric scissors, I’ll bring needles and thread but I’ll be happy to show people around the sewing department to show them what they can buy if they want to take their quilting further.

We’ll not be making any huge bed quilts, but we’ll be making practical things like pin cushions, needle books and trims. Items that are small enough to give you a taster of this amazing craft but enough to let you know if you want to go further into the craft.

Now I know many of my blog followers are not local (many not even in the UK) but I’m sure you’ll agree that sometimes people can be put off trying a craft skill because of the cost of equipment.

Recently a company launched a home knitting machine similar to the extremely expensive industrial machines we had at university. The machine is a full garment machine, meaning it makes the whole garment for you. No sewing, no fitting pieces together. You tell it to make a jumper and a jumper pops out the bottom.

Like the quilting machines it’ll set you back a few grand.

I can imagine now the folk who think they’ll just quit their day job and set up a knitting machine business printing jumpers and selling them at craft fairs.

Hmm reasons why this isn’t a great idea is perhaps a whole other blog post, easy money and crafts doesn’t really go together. But I can imagine some folk looking into this as a great money maker.

I think the machine looks great and if I had the money and space I just might be tempted, but honestly, I worry about this push for modern technology in crafting. If you are a modern crafter and everything you use is plugged in, why not find a class local to you and have a back to basics session, head back into the slow pace of crafting for peace rather than crafting for fast profit. (Moan over)

If, you are local, here’s the advert for the hand quilting and patchwork classes.

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Secret Message Kits

I remember one of the rare occasions I received a Valentine’s day gift.

I know, you’re shocked, right? Surely, someone as stunning as me should be taking the morning of the 14th February off work so I can await the postman and his overstuffed sack of mail just for me!

Truth is, even the card from my Dad (who I could always count on) stopped a few years ago.

Anyway, Once upon a time I received a rose, left anonymously on my front door.

Men are strange fellows!

Seriously, if you’re going to pretend to visit my brother and act surprised that I got a rose from a secret admirer, which you happen to find when you arrived…

…Don’t buy the flower from my sister’s florist shop!

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I’ve recently been making a series of mini craft kits designed for beginners.

Each kit comes in a small gift box, so the finished item can be given in the presentation box as a present.

I’ve made a couple of animal brooches (more on their way)

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They come with almost everything you need to make the finished brooch, you’ll need scissors and maybe a pencil.

My latest kit though is perfect for lucky crafters this Valentine’s Day.


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It comes with all the materials you need (Yep, you need to provide your scissors and a pencil) to make your very own Valentine’s day brooch.

The tiny wool-blend hand-stitched envelope is a brooch your loved one can wear, and hidden inside is a hand stitched love message just from you.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the season of love…

…and if any of my family are reading this, hint at my dad that I want my card!

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Quilt Kits for sale

I’ve finally finished the first kits for the quilt squares.

The kits contain almost everything you need to make two squares for the first Quilt of Hope.

Contents:

Instructions

Two x 6×6 inch cotton squares

One smaller cotton square (for a heart)

A piece of heat and bond

Four metres of embroidery thread in 4 colours

A needle

A pack of embellishments (buttons, ribbon etc)

I’m selling them for £10, which covers the cost of UK postage and the kit, any proceeds from these kits will go towards the other things we’ll need for a quilt.

If you want to buy one you can buy one online from my Etsy shop, click on the link below to go straight there.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/470923438/quilts-of-hope-square-kit?ref=shop_home_active_1

Once you’ve made the squares you can keep them or send them back to us to be sewn into the quilt.

Our first quilt is going to be for the Joanna Project (www.joannaproject.co.uk) which supports women working in our red light district.

If anyone is around Leeds on Saturday and wants to meet and try the kits we’ll be meeting in Chapel Allerton Saturday, everyone is welcome and we’ll be able to talk about best times and locations to meet and sew.

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Toggle Kits Available – EPY week 6&7

 

Where was week 6 post I hear you all complain, well, week 6 was spend travelling to London for a Poverty Truth event and then either worn out or tracking down suppliers. This running a business lark isn’t all excitement and games, I’m finding out that a lot of it is pushing doors and google.

But week 7, finally we’re off.

My dolls came first in the Middleton Park annual shows textile competition (and why wouldn’t they?) See that big silver cup just edging into the photo, yep… on my desk at home. Never had a trophy before. So now, I’m calling my dolls award winning, because they are.

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I’ve done a lot of work updating the pattern, just need to write some instructions on paining faces then it will be ready. If you’ve already bought the pattern on Revelry it will automatically be available to you.

Also in my Etsy shop are new little sets of buttons.

The big order of toggles and cord ends used in my dolls have arrived and are ready to buy.

The kits contain three toggles and two cord ends in many colours, perfect for a variety of dolls, especially 15″ to 18″ and add a lot of character.

It feels like the hard work is paying off, now I just need a few more customers to settle my nerves on having to spend so much on stock!

Here are the colours available…

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The Price of a Coffee

There’s a scene in the film Schindler’s list, where freedom is in sight for the Jewish people but Oskar Schindler is having to flee. He looks around at the mass of people he helped keep alive and no one would complain if he then surveyed the survivors and shouted at how great it is that so many survived.

Instead he looks at what he still has, the ring made by hidden bits of gold fillings, his car to help him escape… How many more people’s freedom could he have bought? It’s the part of the movie that always gets to me. That realisation that how ever much you have given, you might have been able to give that little bit more. As a Salvationist it’s something that drives me:

“While women weep, as they do now,

I’ll fight

While little children go hungry, as they do now, 

I’ll fight

While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, 

I’ll fight

While there is a drunkard left, 

While there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, 

While there remains one dark soul without the light of God, 

I’ll fight-I’ll fight to the very end!”

― William Booth

There are some people who know the value of a life and put themselves in a position to do the most good. Oskar could’ve sold his car, but that lavish lifestyle helped get him into places where he could do the most good. Would he have been able to get into the nazi regime if he had turned up on shanks’ pony? If he turned up to a party asking to buy human beings but only bringing cheap wine, would he have got through the door?

I have been lucky enough to experience poverty and to be around people who know how the price of a coffee for some, could mean the difference between an evening meal or a night of hunger. I’ve met women selling their bodies to unknown men in darkened cars so they can put £10 on their electricity meter, and although the going rate for sex in Leeds is a little higher (sorry to be blunt, but sometimes you just shouldn’t mince your words), each time I go into a costa coffee shop I’m reminded of the women I met who charged less than the price of my coffee.

Lucky? Yeah, it’s strange to think of it as luck. A privilege maybe to know real survivors and real strong women, yes, most definitely.

A lot of my ideas and university projects are based around charity projects, mittens for women who work in the cold, craft classes that are cheap enough for all, knitting groups in places that don’t expect you to pay a fortune for a drink.

I know how many people in poverty don’t have the luxury of a wide screen TV and SKY (despite the myth that we all do) I read the studies that show how knitting and crafts can help boost confidence and keep depression at bay, but I also know how the hidden extras of attending a craft group can keep some from benefiting. 

Our latest project at Uni is a craft project. We’re making a quilt by hand, learning the techniques of making and producing a one of a kind item. Two quilt groups, two single quilts.

We asked what is going to happen with the quilts at the end of the project and were told they would be given to a local charity for a family in need. Two quilts to help two families.

Sounds wonderful.

And yet… Something bothers me.

I’ve seen before where something is given to charity with conditions, or in some cases, no conditions but the wrong gift.

  
Recently I heard a story from members of the guild for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

They had a community project where they made knitted squares that were sewn together to make dressing gowns. The idea being that they would keep someone warm over winter when they couldn’t afford heating.

This might be the charity they gave them to.

Cosy at Christmas

Nothing wrong with the idea I suppose, not my cup of tea. I’d rather keep warm with heating or in something a bit less colourful, but the thought is certainly there.

The story I heard was that members of the guild were becoming increasingly worried about the squares they were knitting. Would a person in poverty know how to wash their hand spun, hand knitted luxury squares? Would a poor person know how to wash delicates?

I pointed out to the people worrying that the chances of the person having the means to wash the dressing gown was more of a worry than whether they would damage all their hard work.

It’s not just that many people in poverty don’t have a washing machine, nor is it the lack of laundromats in poorer areas, the simple choice of fitting one bulky gown over several everyday items of clothing into the machine means they might never get washed. At a fiver a load, washing clothing becomes a choice of what is needed most.

There is another niggle I have about choosing what to give. I know many people don’t give cash to people begging on the streets and I see the logic in donating that money to a charity instead, each to their own in that respect. As long as you really do give to the charity instead!

It’s the giving situations where choice is denied the receiver. Those times when you decide to buy the guy a coffee instead of giving cash, but don’t ask first whether the guy even likes coffee, never mind if he even wants one.

The ever recurring rumour that the government will give people on benefits cards to shop in certain places instead of allowing them the choice to spend the benefit money where they want (yep, I know it allows people to spend their benefit on things you might not approve of, I’m sure some of you’ve spend money on things I don’t approve of) So what if some of my benefit money is spend on wool, it keeps depression at bay, has got me into University, and put me in the positive mood to write this blog that you so enjoy.

It’s the removing of choice I disagree with. The idea that because you are poor, your choices cannot be trusted. The feeling of despair you feel when you have so little, and then even the freedom to choose is removed from you.

And that, kind of brings me back to the quilt.

It’s a lovely gesture, hand sewing a quilt, putting hours of love into the project, imagining the faces of those little poor kids who can’t wait to sleep under their quilt. Won’t they be so grateful, so appreciative, won’t they just love me all the more for it, won’t I be treasured in their minds with every warm sleep they get because someone hand sewed a quilt for them. And won’t I get such a warm fuzzy feeling in my giving. Won’t I sleep so soundly under my 15 tog duvet with freshly laundered cover knowing that somewhere in town is a little child sleeping under my thin hand sewn quilt.

And suddenly it no longer becomes about helping a family, but about how grateful they should be and how fuzzy my feelings will be.

I challenged this idea, suggesting an alternative. What if the charity were allowed to sell the quilt, maybe they’d get £100, maybe £10, but what if that quilt could help 2 people? Two quilts, four families helped? Two quilts, twenty families helped?

A quick look on Asda gave me this information:

http://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/duvets/D26M04G04C14,default,sc.html#http://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/duvets/D26M04G04C14,default,sc.html?srule=g_price_asc&start=0&sz=20

£7 – single size summer duvet

£15 – Slumberdown 13.5 tog duvet and pillow set.

  
Hand sewn traditional quilts are lovely, don’t get me wrong. I’d love someone to make me one, but it would just be decoration. The quilts at Uni are filled with the thinnest stuffing available and small, they just fit a single bed. You couldn’t wrap up warm in one. 

It wouldn’t replace the softness of a cheap duvet, and it can’t be changed with a new cover as often as the £7 Asda duvet. Who’d pay me £14 for a hand made single duvet? (I’m imagining hands shooting up) Two children will benefit if you do, what about £21 (three children) how many children do you want to keep warm? 

Sadly, I’m in the minority. One family is going to receive our quilt, I hope they like it, maybe they’ll spread it across their knees while watching the wide screen TV they don’t have, maybe they’ll spread it on the floor as a rug. Our quilt group has chosen what will happen to it, we now have to choose which charity is given it.

I have another suggestion, what if every student in the quilt group took the finished quilt home for one night. What if they turned off their heating, removed their duvet and spent the night under the quilt, then decided whether it would benefit a family.

What if I took them on a day trip, I could show them the family who live on my street, no wallpaper, little furniture and bits of scrap carpet for walking on. Four people living in a one roomed flat, a teenager and his little sister sleeping night after night on the sofa (year after year!), mum and grandmother sharing the only bed. What if the students were allowed to go to their little flat and hand the quilt over, sure the fuzzy feeling would be overwhelming, and my neighbours would be grateful, oh my, they would be so grateful. What if, when walking out of the flat I pointed to another flat, same situation. What about them? Two quilts… How many families?

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The Ultimate Sock Doll

Several years ago I first came across sock monkeys, they were crudely made animals made from left over socks and a great recycling use of those odd socks we find in the washing machine.

Then the explosion happened and suddenly they were everywhere.

  
What originally began as an upcycling project became ‘trendy’ and we had an explosion of sock creatures which moved away from upcycling and into money making. 

A quick search of sock monkeys brings up crocheted and knitted monkeys, clay sculpted monkeys, inspired hats and gloves, and even sock monkey make up. The sock monkey above is made, not out of old socks, but machine knitted as a product in its own right.

If you’ve not noticed, one of my loves are dolls, so when I first arrived at the knitting and crochet archives this little beauty was the first thing I noticed.

  

What a gorgeous looking doll, bit Greek looking? 40s, 50s era? 

Well the following week I just had to have a closer look. We decided he was certainly machine knitted, but that’s where our information ended. Where others will spend time with a garment working out the makings, I do the same with toys. I sat down and tried to work out how this good looking boy was created.

Knitted in the round, ribbing in places, then it dawned on me. He is the most amazing sock doll I’ve ever seen.

He’s made from 2 socks, probably men sized long socks with long ribbed tops. One sock is grey and the other brown.

Sock 1, the grey sock.

The top of both socks is ribbed, and you can see where the ribbing of the sock becomes the dolls stockings with the start of the grey knit his trousers/shorts. 

You can see a bump around the waist, which I suspect is where the 2 socks are joined, the grey ends and brown begins.

Sock 2 (brown) starts here at the waist band, but the ribbing is folded over to create a skirt or apron (he looks like a boy to me, so I think he’s wearing an apron) This sock continues up to create the jumper/body and the white heal of the brown sock becomes the face.

 The embroidery on the doll is fantastic and really creates a characterful face. It also creates a nice sock top and front button down shirt feature.

  

You can see from the side view where the brown sock ends and is hidden by the hat. 

The hat of course is the heal of the grey sock, folded over to make an interesting brim.

  
   The foot of the brown sock is cut in half to make arms and hands which are stitched to the side of the body.

Even the little hands are stitched to show fingers.

  
The doll is finished with Pom Poms which I think makes him just the sweetest little fellow in the archive.

Out of 2 odd socks only the foot of one sock is left unused (maybe it could make him a little bag) but what an amazing upcycle project, much better than buying a ready made sock money any day.

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Little Terrier Doggie – Free Makey Makes

I’m either mad or developing some great marketing ploy, but something I listed on Etsy I’m giving away on my blog for free.

Yep, Free.

So, What’s the catch?

I wrote this little pattern some time ago and started selling kits so you could make your own little doggie at home. I recently updated the pattern, included needles and bead eyes in the kit and am selling the whole kit on Etsy for £5 (or £10 for three) The kit makes a lovely little gift for crafty dog-lovng friends, so buy them if you can.

But, I’m putting the pattern here dog pattern

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The three kit colours are for a Black Scottie dog, White highland Terrier and Brown Yorkshire Terrier.

Am I mad? Who knows.

We made these little doggies two Saturdays ago at our little craft class in Leeds and they went down a treat. The bone is Polymer clay, I also made a polymer clay dog bowl, but that’s gone walk-a-bout.

Well, buy the kit, or print the pattern and buy the materials yourself.

As with all my patterns, you can make to sell, but don’t sell the patterns, I’ve got to make some money somewhere and keeping my cat in the luxury she is used to isn’t cheap!

This Saturday, 8th Feb, 10.30am – 12.30pm, Inkwell Arts, Chapel Allerton

We’re making Zipper Brooches…

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Here’s one I made earlier, made out of a bits of felt and an old zip, a great way to use up odd bits of felt. I was planning to have instructions on the blog before Saturday, but I’ve a busy busy week and might not have time. £6 per person and a lot of fun.

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Pepperpot Dolls

Pepperpot DollsI am about a week away from finishing the pepperpot doll pattern and am just so excited about it.

The pepperpot dolls is inspired by Gingermelon and the girls from my felt sewing class.

They’re 6 inches tall (the size of a pepperpot!) and have a variety of styles to make each doll just as you want it.

Change the hair style, dress/trouser length, shoe styles and more variety coming soon.

I’ll be posting new pattern ideas, hair styles, clothing, individuality ideas here on the blog for free…

Plus, a wardrobe for the doll is already available on the Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/bettyvirago

What's coming
What’s coming

AND… Additional patterns will be available on Etsy. Turn your dolls into your favourite animals… build a house. Opps!! The house is a BIG SECRET!