Thursday, 21 August 2014

Festival of Quilts 2014

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days at the Festival of Quilts.  I have been a couple times in the past, just for a day and found it was never enough time.  So this year I decided to stay in Birmingham Thursday and Friday night so I could have all day Friday and most of Saturday at the show.

Surveying his domain by Lata Narayan

This meant I had enough time to have a proper look at the quilts, as well as fitting in lots of shopping and meeting up with lots of people.  I do have to admit the downside was I spent way more than I ever expected - think maybe I left a bit too much shop time on the schedule!

Paris by Anna-Karin Andermo

The quilts were breathtakingly beautiful, it was worth the extra day to be able to take my time and have a proper look at those. It does make me wish I could find some time to quilt, I felt so inspired by the quilts I saw.  The detail on the quilts was amazing, take a look at this close up of a quilt below called Norfolk by Harriet Wilson.  All those tiny little embroidery stitches.

What was even more amazing was the quilts by primary school children, they totally put my quilting to shame!

The magic of summer nature in my garden made by Mary Elton Primary School in Clevedon

I particularly like quilts (or fabric) with trees or leaves on.  They are my personal favourite.  There was a display of quilts made by countries around Europe. They each picked a season and made mini quilts with their interpretation of that season, below is one of the winter displays, from France.  It did make me realise that you don't have to make a huge quilt, but that in fact a mini quilt would take less materials and a little less time but look just as good, and can be used as a piece of art of hang on the wall.  I've decided I want to have a go at making a mini quilt.  It's on my list of things I want to try for 2015.

I got to meet up with lots of lovely people including Katy from I'm a Ginger Monkey who was there promoting her new magazine Quilt Now,  Sara from Sew Little to Say, Lynne from Lily's Quilts, Jenni from Love Patchwork and Quilting, fabric designer Nel Whatmore, Justine from Simply Solids, Linda from Search Press and many many more. If only I'd had more time to chat. I also got to meet several of my customers and sponsors who were exhibiting there.

Justine, Laura and Lisa on the Simply Solids stand

As for the shopping... it was amazing!  There was stand after stand of beautiful fabrics and lovely accessories, plus textile art and even quilts for sale. I went with good intention, I took £100 cash with me thinking I'd split that over the 2 days.  Of course by the end of day 1 that was gone!  So I took more cash out the next morning, and by the afternoon was buying on the card too.  I'm too scared to add up how much I actually spent in total, it might make me cry!  I was planning to go to the Westpoint show next month but after spending so much at this one I've decided it would be safer for me to stay at home.

My haul!

Above is a picture of my haul, in the back are 3 notebooks, 2 silk painted and one textile art one (I have a notebook addiction as well as a fabric addiction).  Next to them, on the back right, are 2 embroidery kits and some embroidery silks.  Far right is crushed walnut shells (for pincushions) and dried rose petals.  Then pretty much all the rest is fabric, some lovely Japanese fabrics, lots of nature themed ones, trees, leaves, animals etc. 

Closer view of the fabrics I bought

Plus some Star Wars and Angry Birds fabrics to make things for my son and husband.  Under all of that lot is an A2 cutting board for my new sewing space, it perfectly fits that desk which is next to my sewing machine. Near the front on the left is some iron on bias for making stained glass style quilts which I fancy having a go at, perhaps one of the mini quilts I plan to make.

So as you can see I got a little carried away...  This is why I should stick to trade shows where I can't buy anything instead of retail shows!  I have no will power when it comes to fabric.

Amy Butler
I forgot to say I saw Amy Butler on the Cotton Patch stand when I was rushing past.  Unfortunately I didn't get chance to meet her but it looked like she was having a great time.

I'll leave you with a few more shots of the stunning quilts that were on display.

Fantasy to reality by Kathleen Matthews

The Frog King by Daniela Pippig

Snowing by Abeer Al-Khammash

The Magic Dream by Vera Skockova

Friday, 25 July 2014


I have to admit until I wrote my book I never realised what a time consuming job editing is.  It feels like the editing has taken much longer than the writing of the book itself!  My book is just short of 250 pages, and I have now read it from cover to cover at least 6 times in the last few months, some sections it feels like I know them word by word!  We started around the start of April and only finished editing a couple of weeks ago.

The red pen got a lot of use!

Because my book is so large we've been working through a section at a time.  My editor, Edd, goes over the section on his computer, adding in notes where he would like me to add/take away/change the text and asking questions.   I then get sent the whole section printed up on A3 sheets with lots of white space around the outside so I can write my edits and responses to his questions in.

It takes a lot of concentration reading over again and again to make sure the text makes sense, that it sounds right when reading and that there's no typos.  Then in the later stages of editing I was also looking at the layout and the design of each page to.

For me this has been the hardest stage of the book, I can quite happily write for days but found the editing draining and tiring.  However now it's all done, and the illustrations have been added in and the page layout sorted it looks amazing!  I am so incredibly proud of the book, and amazed at how good Search Press have made it look.

New cover

The last couple of weeks have been spent deciding on the cover, as much as I loved the illustrations on the first cover I think this new cover is really colourful and eye catching which should help it stand out in the shops.   What do you think?  Do you like it?

It's now only a few short months before I will have a copy of the book in my hands, and it will be in the shops.  I am really starting to get excited now!  The book was originally due to be published at the end of November but Search Press are trying to bring it forward to the end of September, so hopefully in a couple of months time the book will be here!  If you'd like to pre-order the book is now on Amazon here, so you can take advantage of their pre-order guarantee.

In my next post I'm going to tell you a bit more about the content of the book and who has contributed to it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

New sewing room at last!

6 weeks after moving in I have finally gotten my sewing room sorted!  Only phone pics below I'm afraid so not the best quality but you'll get the gist of how it looks.  My sewing room is basically half of my bedroom.  I used an Ikea room divider shelving unit to separate off the bedroom side of the room from the sewing room side.  This does mean that both halves of the room are pretty small but I wanted to keep all my sewing things separate, don't want to be finding needles in the bed at night!

The room divider
I've made the sewing room the side by the window, with my desk right under the window so I have lots of natural light.  Plus there's a lovely view out of the window.

View from my sewing desk
Sewing desk
My sewing table is actually two £10 desks from Ikea, they are only hardboard but look and feel pretty sturdy.  For £10 each you can't go far wrong!  I wanted to have one for sewing on and one for cutting on.  In my old house I had to push the machine back to cut on the front of the desk which was a pain.  The only downside of how I've set the room up is the sockets are behind the shelves to the left of the desk, not too sure how I'm going to get an extension lead in but I will be trying at the weekend.

I've got all my sewing books right to hand, although I do have to crawl under the able to get to some of them!  Most my haberdashery is on those shelves beside the desk too, and some on the shelves behind (the two bookcases join in an L shape).  I do miss having desk drawers to keep my habby in but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

To the right of the desk I have my brilliant rainbow drawers, they are full of fabric.  They are labelled to say which colour of fabric, or type of fabric is in each.  I've also got the ironing board there but I think I need to find somewhere to leave it open ideally, and there's no socket by there so it might have to go in the bedroom side of the room.  The boxes on top of the drawers have all my stationery in.What you can't see is to the far right, beside the filing cabinet I have a stack of the boxes like the one on top of the filing cabinet, full of fabric!

It is amazing how much stuff you can fit into these shelves, plus I have things stacked up on top too.  They are good for getting lots of things into a small space.  It total the area I have for the sewing room is around 5ft x 7-8ft.  There is an awful lot of fabric and sewing books squeezed into that space!

I've just managed to find an extension lead so once I figure out how to plug it in without having to move those giant shelves full of stuff I'll be good to go.  This weekend I plan to spend several hours sewing.  I haven't decided what yet, think I need to have a browse through some of the books to choose a project.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Craft a Creative Business

Well this month has pretty much been all about the book.  Whilst I was moving house I was editing the book,  I was also building the website to accompany the book too. Which is what I'm going to blame for me not having finished unpacking yet!  No pics of the house yet as it's still in chaos but we've sorted the garden and started growing our own veg already.  There's a couple pics of the garden below.
We now have corn and broccolli growing down that side
Over this end we have lettuce, strawberries, herbs, spinach & spring onions growing

Craft a Creative Business Book

The book goes to print next week and will hopefully be out in September instead of November as originally planned.  It's available to pre-order now on the Search Press website and Amazon.  Search Press are the cheapest at the moment, just so you know. ;-)

CHA One Big Show

Last week I went to the CHA (Craft & Hobby Association) UK's One Big Show which was a brilliant networking and training event in Coventry.  There were lots of small craft businesses there as well as some of the big boys like Coats Crafts, Deramores, Create & Craft TV etc.   I was teaching SEO and social media but I got lots of time to mix as well.

The networking was the best bit of the event, I met so many new people and caught up with people I haven't seen since the trade show in February.  I also got a new website sponsor....that will be announced next month.   Plus I met the lovely Jenni from The Great British Sewing Bee.  We've chatted online but it was the first time we met in person.  Everyone there said they loved the networking and all got a lot from it, I'm really looking forward to next year's show.

Jenni & Helen from Coats Crafts were very excited by my book!

As you'll see from the pic I have info booklets about my book which I was handing out at the show.  Hopefully it'll lead to a few pre-orders.

Craft A Creative Business website

Also book wise I just launched the new website which accompanies the book -  This site has lots of free business guides on it, and plenty more to come.  Plus I'll be adding free downloads from the book on there too.

I also decided to use this site as a SEO case study.  Since learning huge amounts about SEO over the last few years I've only had chance to test it on sites which are already up and running.  So the Craft a Creative Business website is ideal for seeing how it works on a brand new site.  I thought I would blog about what I've done SEO wise on the new site, and what results it's had.  So if you want to learn more about SEO do pop over and take a look.

Whilst building the new site and editing the book I've also written a load of magazine features.  I've got a 6 part series on SEO running in Craft Business Magazine which is a free trade publication, I've also got 2 features appearing on Craft Focus, another free trade publication.  There's also 5 interviews/articles coming up in the next couple issues of Love Sewing, as well as an 'ask the experts' feature in Craft Seller!  I'm starting to see why the unpacking isn't going as fast as I would have liked....

I also had a lovely sewing meet up in Exeter a couple of weeks ago.  It was so great to catch up with everyone, and this time I didn't have to travel all the way from Cardiff!  In the next session (September) we're making charity quilts for siblings together.

All in all June has proved to be a manic month.  I'm not quite sure how I fitted so much in.  I've got a feeling the summer will be just as busy.  What have you got planned for the summer?

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