Tag Archives: bags

The machines are taking over

Arguably, I have too many sewing machines ….

There is my grand old lady, a 1917 Singer in a splendid cabinet … she was my first, found in a charity shop back in the late 1980’s – I bought her, even though I had no money and nowhere to put her, mainly because I adored all that deco detail. Sadly, she’s no longer functional – one move too many, I think, cost her a metal plate from the tension guage, and unless I can find a replacement part and someone able to weld it back on again without damaging her, she’s purely decorative now.

I also have her grandmother, an even older Singer dating back to the 1880’s …

She’s functional, now she’s had a clean-up and a service (she was in a sorry old state when I brought her back from the charity shop a couple of years ago), and although I’ll use her for simple projects, she’s largely been adopted by the oldest nestling as her training machine – I’m pleased – she’s such a good, simple machine to use, straightforward and uncomplicated.

I have more modern beasts for the everyday work, and although the husband raises an eyebrow at the need for “that many sewing machines”, I don’t think it’s excessive – I only have two, after all …

This here’s my Frister and Rossmann … he’s my main man. He does all the hard work, is impeccably behaved, never gives me any trouble – the workhorse of the four. He’s not the most modern of machines – I had him second hand a good ten years ago, but he does everything I ask and need of him.

Unlike this little diva:

High maintenance, highly strung, temperamental and, frankly, a bit of a bitch. But for anything fancy, she’s my girl. I haven’t fully explored all the little discs that came with her, but I have liked what I’ve used so far. And I’ve found she’s by far and away the best of the two electric machines when it comes to free-motion machine embroidery.

Ever since I saw Jan Tillett’s work at FibreFest back in August, I’ve been tinkering around with free motion machine embroidery ….

As a committed hand-embroiderer, it felt vaguely disloyal at first, but it’s such a different discipline, that now it just feels like a technique. I still don’t think there’s anything that can beat the satisfaction of highly detailed hand-embroidery, but this has satisfactions of its own.

I’m enjoying it mostly as an alternative way of quilting, and embellishing – for me, it works particularly well on my bags …

I have embellished the handle of this one with small swirls … love that acid green against the black and grey of the old denim / suit trousers I’ve used in the patchwork. I think I’m going to add more onto the body of the bag.

I enjoy the way it gives me the option to extend the pattern from the vintage upholstery fabric out across the denim, and at the same time fix the lining to the body of the bag in a more interesting way …

The inside shows the design better … it’s very freeing to be able to “sketch” these organic, flowing, floral impressions onto fabric ….

And makes the bag more genuinely reversible … the inside, with its contrast stitching, offers a real alternative should you want a change from the patchworked outside of the bag.

And a profusion of roses rioting across the front of an otherwise monochrome bag is too much fun to be ignored.

And for that reason, I’m prepared to tolerate Elna’s tantrums and sulks …. although I am wondering now if it’s in any way odd to assign gender and personality to a machine?

Treasure Hunting

It’s half term, and I’ve promised the children a trip to the beach sometime this week, so I’m desperately hoping that the weather picks up … not that there’s anything inherently wrong with a windy, rainswept beach, but it is more fun when the sun’s shining if what you want is sandcastles and paddling, rather than atmospheric walks.

Anyway, all of that is just an excuse to share some of my favourite beach-themed treasures from around the crafting interverse – no kiss-me-quick hats here, I promise!

This gorgeous lampstand by Trucmuche (French for thingummajig) is fashioned from salvaged seaglass, shells and bones. I think it’s absolutely glorious …. I love the different colours and textures, and the histories of those washed up, tumbled over pieces that have come together into a wonderful new life. There are more of these unique, decorative and practical objects handcrafted from materials collected on the north east coastline over at his Folksy shop.

Laura Cameron is a Scottish based jewellery designer, photographer and artist, and I adore her jewellery – made from recycled silver, sea glass, and sea pottery. I love this ring – a silver wrapped fragment of willow pattern:

Whilst not, strictly speaking, seaside related, I’m including this vintage clutch on the grounds that it is covered in a swirling pattern of faux seed pearls, and has a mother-of-pearl clasp. It’s utterly adorable, and is one of several vintage beaded clutches available at Resurrection Rags – recycled vintage style on Artfire.

And whilst a windswept beach isn’t what the children want, it’s still one of my favourite things in the world, which is why I love this print by Soulful Stuff on Artfire:

This is more what we’re after … even if these beaches are in Australia!! Gorgeous images from Hey Harriet (who also happens to organise the very wonderful Shadow Shot Sunday photograph collection) … the graininess of these images reminds me of my childhood holidays on the beach at Llangranog in Wales …. strange that I remember the sun as always shining, though I’m sure that, given it was Wales, it must have rained a fair amount of the time …

These vans are irrevocably associated with beaches in my mind … both my brother and sister have one, and only my resolute refusal to travel so precariously (they always seem to be breaking down) holds me back from joining the cool club. Oh yeah, and although slow travel is all very well, if I’m going somewhere, I generally like to get there before it’s time to turn around and come home again 😉 Anyway, I thoroughly approve of this one by Not Just Handbags

A seaside themed treasure hunt wouldn’t be complete without a nautical nod, and I just love this door-stop fender in traditional ropework, by Nick Hill

Still on the theme of things nautical, and harking back to my childhood again, remembering sailing trips with my father, it just didn’t seem right not to include a model of a boat … but this isn’t your traditional wood-and-paper deal (beautiful though they are) … this one is a stained glass wonder in turquoise from Glassquirks.

And, just to round things off with a little bit of a sparkle …

One of Rock Your Belly’s totally scrumptious belly rings … this one’s called Caribbean Sea and is just divine – that blue just makes you want to dive straight in. I know belly rings aren’t everyone’s thing, but I’ve got a couple of Darcey’s pieces, and they are simply wonderful.

Now I feel properly piratey, so I’m off for a tot of rum and to swash my buckles. Arrrrrrr matey!