Thursday, 24 September 2015

Plain pocket purses

Here is another couple of pocket purses; all of these with plain pockets, hopefully appealing to both male and female customers.

You can find the tutorial for these here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Original pocket bag

These are the latest versions of my original pocket bag (which continues to sell well!)  You can find the tutorial here.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Zippered pocket bag

These are the type of pocket I love to find - it is great to have a pocket which will fasten on a pocket bag.  However, on this occasion the pockets were too small for a pocket bag, so I decided to use them to make this purse.
It is another of the boxy pocket bags I have made for a while; you can find the tutorial here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Contact from Kenya

I have had some lovely emails from Florence in Utange recently.  She has told me that other parents of her school are asking when they will get solar lamps, and that the families who received them are really grateful to have light in the evenings.  She has also just sent me an email which says,

On last Friday afternoon I had some few ladies who are interested to do sewing and we plan to start our meeting this coming Friday and to start making some few things e.g pillows,door mats,table mats,brooms,making soaps,etc. We shall be teaching each other before you come. I will send the names of the ladies and pictures of what we are doing and I think to name the group your name. 

This is so exciting to read.  To hear that the ladies seem to be beginning to have hope, to be beginning to start up their own businesses, working as a group, is fantastic.  If they can begin to make things which they know they can sell within the village - this is just what I hoped for, and just what I would like to invest in, to help them to grow their businesses.   To have them call their group "Sewing for Utange" is an added bonus!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Elephants again

I do enjoy selecting the fabrics for the elephants, both for the bodies and for the ears.  I stocked up on fat quarters of African fabric a while ago, but I think restocking time may be fast approaching.

Friday, 11 September 2015


I have been revamping my "promotiional materials" recently.  For a long time I have used Vistaprint, but following some problems with them I am now using three different suppliers.
I don't really have many promotional materials which I use regularly - the three key ones are a banner, business cards, and a wallet of photos.  When recreating the first two, I decided to take another look at the photographs.  These are really useful - sometimes to amuse children and allow their parents to look at the items I have on my stall, but often to give more detail about what I am doing.  So I thought I would order a proper photo book. I decided to go with Bonusprinr, and was really pleased with the result and the service.  I ordered one of their small photobooks, and hope to have a new one created each year, tracking how my projects progress.  This one is really an introduction, giving background information and explaining what I have done and hope to do.
The photo book arrived really quickly, and is of good quality.  I am particularly pleased that the paper is glossy and thick and robust; it looks as if it will withstand handling very well.  An added advantage is that there is an online version of the book, so I thought I would share it with you here.

I have attempted to embed the book, and your browser may well allow you to see it below.  However, if not, you can access it here, should you wish to!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Pocket bag with contrast trim - with tutorial

This is another variation on my original pocket bag, the tutorial for which is here.

To make this bag:
Cut eight pockets to the same size.  If you are unfamiliar with sewing jeans, avoid including seams around your pockets.  Make sure to leave at least 1" all the way round the pocket.
Sew pairs of pockets together, side by side.
Sew each pair to another to make a 2 x 2 pocket square - each of these is one side of your bag.
Cut linings to match your bags - I find it easiest to do this now rather than working out the size before sewing.  Cut a binding piece which is at least 2" wide (it can be wider if you want) and more than twice the width of one panel.
Put the two panels rights sides facing and sew round three sides, leaving the top edge open.
Repeat with the linings.
Turn the bag panels the right way out but leave the lining as it is.  Put the lining inside the bag and pin at the side seams.
Pin the straps (see original tutorial for instructions on how to make these) to the front of the bag.  I usually pin them half way along the width of the pockets.
Pin the binding to the top of the bag, with the right side of the binding facing the bag panels.  Sew round, starting 2" after the start of the binding.  After sewing about 3", pin this free piece on top of the sewn piece.  Continue to the end of the binding, sewing over the original start.  This will hide all raw edges.
Fold the binding inside the bag and stitch in place by hand, folding the raw edges under.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

MK Handmade and Vintage

What a wonderful event this is - one at which I feel privileged to exhibit.  The talent on show is phenomenal - though sadly I rarely get the opportunity to wander round and see everything.

Jacqui, ably aided by Andy, does an amazing organisational job, and on arriving on Friday night to see the stalls waiting to be filled, there was a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation.  What a spot - right in the middle of this huge shopping centre, and bathed with light.  My "spot" changed this time, to an absolutely ideal position, on one edge and facing the new Tiger store. 

One of the wonderful things about this event is that people have come to the centre to spend money!  Many seemed not to be aware of the event (clearly they have not read any local papers on news sites!) and seemed pleasantly surprised to find the stalls. 

I had many "returning customers", which was so encouraging.  A couple of pupils from my school dropped by, and I had some very interesting and supportive conversations.  Having brought along two sacks full of toys, I left with only four of the original set.  I sold at least 7 hippos, a similar number of elephants, two giraffes and a lion. 

I now need to make a huge number of toys before October's event.  I will do it - not least because a number of people have already told me they want to visit me then and stock up for Christmas!  I also need to restock a lot of the small items - bookmarks, purses and owl phone cases - which I suspect will be in demand for Christmas stocking fillers.

Thank you so much MK and Jacqui and Andy - can't wait to return.  Now, if only I could have a few extra hours every day between now and then....

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Mini boxy bags

These two bags were fun, but also challenging to make, because of their small size.

 They were made from a pair of toddler pink cord trousers.  The smaller of the two is barely 4" wide, and has popper pockets on both sides.  The other is a little larger, but not much.

I made both with very short cords, as I suspect they will appeal to a young audience!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Third new-style zippered pocket bag

By now these have got quite easy to make!
Tutorial here.

Oh, and please admire our home grown apples - looking nearly ready to pick!

Friday, 4 September 2015

More pachyderms

More additions to the family - I suspect by the time this appears on my blog these individuals may well have sold.  I am trying to work out the correct ratio of doorstop to soft toys.  I add bags of sand to some of the elephants, while others are "just cuddly" as I tell customers.  I haven't yet had the correct ratio though!

These three are all doorstops.  The pockets make a good hiding place for the key after locking up!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Noah's Ark Academy receive their lamps

The arrival of these photos made my day!  This is the second of the four schools in Utange to receive ten solar lamps as a result of my fund raising.  Noah's Ark Academy is a school for 3 - 8 year olds.  It was set up by Florence, and initially she taught the children in her house, also feeding them daily.  The children come from poor homes, and often their parents cannot afford to pay the school fees - and as a result, the teachers often cannot be paid.  It was hearing this, along with recognising that without electricity at home the job of marking and preparing lessons must be a huge challenge, that led me to allocate some of the lamps to teachers in each school.

A group has been set up to help Florence and the school, and as a result of their fundraising three classrooms, a kitchen and a toilet block have been built.  I hope that next year some of the training courses / workshops will be run at Noah's Ark.

The children, with their lamps and their guardians.
Two of the teachers with Florence (far right)
Juma, who helps administer the work of the charity which helps Noarh's Ark Academy.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Kempston Fun Day

This is the third time I have attended this event, organised by Bedford Lions.  It seems to get better and better!  Yet again, we had lovely sunshine for the event, and lots of people attending.
 As ever, there was plenty of space, and I was able to use some of my recent display purchases to the full.  I have a new banner, which is just the right size to go on my gazebol

I bought two of these laundry hangers, which work really well for displaying bags where I have lots of the same style.
 I finally managed to fiond affordable S hooks of the right size, and these made it so much easier to display assorted bags.

 I added to my stock of bibs, and it was good to be able to fill up one stand with them.
 I also restocked the pocket purses on a string recently, making that display look much more impressive.
Another great addition was having a helper!  Kerena was a star - and said she enjoyed it!
Just to make the day practically perfect, my friend Kathy brought her dog Pye along to see me.  I have to say Pye was rather confused, as I usually take her out for a long walk when I see her,  As a PAT dog, she was in her element being fussed by visitors!

Another £215 raised for Utange, and a really enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Return of the rhinos

A remake of a really lovely pattern from Funky Friends Factory.  I can't recommend this pattern highly enough - it is really well designed (so the finished product actually looks like a rhino) and the instructions are brilliant.