It’s that ATC time again…

SWAP FULL – thanks everyone!

It’s time to swap some textile Artist’s Trading Cards! Regular readers know that this is a big deal round here at Very Berry… This is swap number four, and I know there are people patiently waiting to sign up. The swap will be limited to 40 places, so if you want to join in, move quickly, places usually fill up in a couple of days.

ATC Swap 4 button


1) What’s an ATC?

ATC stands for Artist’s Trading Card, and it’s basically the creative, unique and arty version of a business card.

2) OK, so what’s the point of an ATC?

It’s a way to be creative on a small scale, try out new techniques and skills in a non-threatening way. Lots of people collect these mini pieces of art, swap them, and give them as gifts.

Books/Reading ATC by Sue Deere

ATC by Susan Deere

3) Ok, I’m interested, tell me the details – What size is an ATC? 

Your ATC must measure 3.5″x2.5″ (6.4cm by 8.9cm) – about the size of a business card. You can use the card in either portrait or landscape orientation. Don’t make the card too thick – no more than 1/8″ (3-4mm) please.

4) But what’s a textile ATC?

The majority of your ATC must be fabric and there must be at least a little bit of stitching involved. But otherwise, the world is your oyster. You can use any techniques that you want to try, e.g. applique, embroidery, patchwork, beading, cross-stitch, fusing fabrics, colouring fabrics, using fabric paints or ink stamps, you can even include crochet, weaving or knitting.

ATC by Lu Crosbie

ATC by Lu Crosbie

5) I’m really interested – where can I see some textile ATCs?

There is a Very Berry ATC swap group on Flickr, where you can see photos of cards made for previous swaps.

Spring ATC by Sian Slade

ATC by Sian Slade

6) Wow – they are brilliant, I’m in, where do I sign up?

Hang on, read the rules first!

  • You will make 1 ATC and receive 1 ATC in return.
  • Your card must:
    1. be the right size.
    2. fit the theme.
    3. include your name and the date on reverse (you can include your web address/email and the title of your card too if you want to).
  • The theme is ‘Getting Away from it All – please feel free to interpret that however you like!
  • Please sign up by leaving a comment on this post and dropping me an email at veryberryhandmade (at) gmail (dot) com by the end of Monday 28th July. I will send you an email with a few questions (just a bit of basic info for the swap) on Tuesday 29th July and you must respond by Friday 1st August. Partners will be assigned by Monday 4th August.
  • It will be a secret swap (you will not be sending to the person you receive your card from) so please don’t let your partner know who you are!
  • Participation is open to anyone anywhere in the world (the ATCs wont be too pricey to send), so please be prepared to send overseas if you join in (but I will *try* to make exceptions if you are really stuck for cash… just let me know).
  • Cards must be posted during the week 8-12 September (or a little earlier if you are posting overseas and you can manage it).
    Please do not include anything else in your parcel, except a little note if you like!
  • Once you have received your ATC, you must get in touch with your partner to say thanks… (I know, I don’t need to say this…!).
  • If you blog, use FB, Twitter or Instagram, please feel free to share your ATC swap progress, and definitely share pictures of the ATC you receive from your swap partner, if you can.
  • Serious bit: Before signing up, please think for a minute whether you can put aside enough time to make something lovely and thoughtful for your swap partner, and whether you will be able to meet the deadlines.

That’s it for now – leave a comment if you are in! Oh, and here’s a little button if you want one for your blog.

Very Berry Handmade
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Filed under ATC, swap

Craft Bomb Your Bike!

Craft Bomb your Bike front cover

My contributors’ copy of the new book Craft Bomb Your Bike has arrived. Back in December/January I felt like my entire life was devoted to this project, which proved far more complicated than I had imagined… But now all the effort seems worth it as I get to see my work in print ! And I did get to work with most favourite Heather Moore-designed Up, Up & Away fabrics.

My design is a bike basket liner which is convertible to a drawstring tote. Gosh, the struggles I had to make sure that the pattern was adaptable to any size bike basket (which seem to come in about 57 different varieties). I feel a bit queasy when I remember back to how tricky it was and how many pieces of paper I got through and how many prototypes I made… But I am pleased with how cute they have made it look:

Craft Bomb your Bike main pic

Here’s how it looks as a bag:

Craft Bomb your Bike inset pic

And I managed to get my lads into print too…

Craft Bomb your Bike me and the lads

This is us in our Cambridge days, when I used to trundle (and trundle is most definitely the word) round town on my wonderful yellow Pashley trike. Cute eh?

If you cycle and craft, or want to make cute goodies for the cyclists in your life, this is book is well worth a look. There’s sweet bunting, practical mittens, ear-warmers and leg-warmers, cute crochet flowers for your wheels, sweet birds to sit on your handle bars, even a cover for your bike lock. So many imaginative ideas, it’s well worth a look!


Filed under books, craft, family, reviews

Big Stitch Swap

I’ve felt a bit jaded recently, although I’ve been doing lots of fun projects, they have all been commissions, and I really wanted to make something just for fun. So in spite of having NO SPARE TIME I decided to join in with The Big Stitch Swap organised by Sarah (Fairy Face Designs) and Cindy (Fluffy Sheep Quilting).

The Big Stitch Swap

The main rule of this swap is that whatever you send your partner has to have a significant element of hand-stitching. This was the big appeal of the swap for me, as I love to hand sew, and really needed a project which will make me sit down and relax a minute! This is my inspiration mosaic:

Big Stitch Swap mosaic

1. usb pouch, 2. Patchwork for Ladies with Secrets, 3. 365:125 Embroidering some Summersville fabric, 4. Courthouse Steps, 5. cross stitch stash buster project, 6. Confetti Quilt Full Frontal, 7. Square-in-a-Square Pillow, 8. Polka Dot Smocking Pouch, 9. Airmail Needlebook, 10. Hand stitched hoop art, 11. Kantha bag, 12. Bastidor bordado “Be original and creative”, 13. Zipper purse dandelions, 14. PTS7 all finished!, 15. Liberty Doll Quilt 1

I don’t really mind what my partner makes for me as long as it is colourful, fun and maybe just a little bit quirky!

This is me making a start on my partner’s gift. It is going to involve a lot of hexies and outline quilting, and hopefully some embroidery too, so I need to get a move on!  I haven’t exactly done any sewing yet, but there’s lots to come…

Big Stitch swap first steps

By the way, if there is anyone out there who is waiting for the next Very Berry Artist Trading Card swap, that will be getting going at the end of July… so check back regularly if you want to join in – places will be limited.


Filed under stitching, swap

Sugru Winner


Horribly sorry for delaying the announcement of the Sugru giveaway…. Here’s what Mr Random tells us:

Sugru winner

Number 14 is Leonor of Felt Buddies who promises us a unicorn made of Sugru. I will hold her to that ;-)  Well done to her, and because I love them so much, here is one of Leonor’s beautiful felt pooches – you can get a portrait of your own pet, made to order, from her Etsy shop:

Needlecraft Custom Pet Portrait - Pug - 3D felt wool sculpture - Made To Order


I am going to start saving up….

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Filed under competition, giveaway

Fun with Sugru

I was lucky enough recently to be sent to Sugru to try out.


This intriguing product, described as self-setting rubber, is a bit like Plasticine or Fimo crossed with super strong glue. You can use it to fix things stuff and stick things to other things, and be creative about it too. I defy you not to lose HOURS on their website with all the wonderful creativity you can find there. Check the amazing Lego adaptations – here’s a really fun example:

Pic from Sugru website

I think my kids would do me in if I messed with their Lego (perhaps I will buy some of my own so I can make some ace cable tidies like these!). So, much as I am tempted, I had to come up with something else.

I am much too lacking in creative ideas for anything other than stitching and sewing at the moment, so I went hunting around on the website for ideas I could pinch borrow. I was much intrigued by the ideas for stamping and printing using Sugru. I love a bit of texty fabric, especially awesome typescript, so I had a lightbulb moment and nipped off to Ebay to buy myself from 18 pt Letterpress and here’s what I got up to when it arrived:

Opened up the packet:



Warmed the Sugru up a bit in my hands and then stuck a tiny bit onto the side of one of my Letterpress letters:


I squeezed the next letter on to it to make a Sugru sandwich:


Then scraped off the excess:


I added some more letters:



And formed a word. I made sure that all the letters were completely aligned so they would print evenly. Sadly I didn’t make sure of something else:


I left my letters at this stage to stick together properly overnight, and the next day added more Sugru to create a little handle for the stamp:


Then I made some more:





If you make a mistake (like sticking a letter in back to front for instance – but who would be that daft?), you can scrape the Sugru off, even after it has set:IMG_3206


I was super-pleased with the results. This is how it looked on paper:



And on fabric:



Printing worked best with a soft surface underneath the paper or fabric (I found a piece of felt worked really well). If you use a brand of ink pad that is permanent on fabric, you could make your own labels and even little bits of fabric to include in patchwork piecing… Great fun! I will be popping back to Ebay to buy ink pads, plain tape and more Letterpress, I am sure.

My next plan is to use Sugru to create a coat hook rack with old bobbins and a bit of waste timber we have lying around. Should work really well for displaying bags for product photography. I shall let you know how I get on.

In the mean time, if you fancy having a go with some Sugru, I have a pack to give away. Just leave a comment on this blog post before midnight on Friday 5th July if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning. Tell me what you’d like to stick/repair/customise with Sugru if you like. Happy to post overseas, so don’t let that hold you back.


Filed under craft, giveaway, handmade, inspiration

New Liberty Lawns at Very Berry Fabrics

Regular readers will know that as well as doing lots of sewing myself, I run a small business selling Liberty Tana Lawn in convenient pieces for patchworkers and other sewers and stitchers. Hope you will forgive me if just occasionally I share a few of the goodies I have available to buy. Business has been great recently so I’ve been stocking up on new fabrics and old favourites. The next 3 selections are all new to the shop – the easiest way to find them is to go to the ‘New In’ section at Very Berry Fabrics on Folksy, and you will find them all there.

New Liberty 1


New Liberty 2


New Liberty 3


And the old favourites:

Liberty Old Faves 1

Liberty Old Faves 2

I was mooching round the shop earlier to check that everything was all as it should be, and realised just how many blues I have in stock. Which got me experimenting with the PicMonkey Collage feature to check out how they would look together. Just as I hoped, I think they look great! Fab for a cushion top.

Liberty bluesDon’t forget that, given a bit of notice, I can cut selections of fabric for you (just drop me an email or message me via Folksy), and I also have Cushion Kits and Quilt Kits in stock if you like want to get started with the sewing rather than spending hours first cutting patchwork pieces.

Hope I can tempt you to spend some of your fabric fund with Very Berry Fabrics sometime…!

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Filed under folksy, selling, sewing, Uncategorized

Recipe: Plumgo Chutney

We got a new freezer the other day – replacing one of those ancient chest freezers (it had a ‘D’ efficiency rating can you believe?!) with no baskets, which was hell if you ever wanted to actually find anything. As a result,  of course, I now have a freezer drawer filled with about 6kg of last year’s plums which were loitering at the very bottom of the pile of frozen goods. And as it wont be long until we start to harvest this year’s crop, l need to get using them up pretty quick.

Our Victoria plum tree is generally really prolific, and because there is only so much jam, plum crumble and plum cake I can manage (really!), for a while now I have been after a plum chutney recipe I actually liked. Our preference is for spicy and fragrant Indian style chutneys, that we can eat as a side with curry, dhal and flat-breads, as well as being a great addition to a sandwich. So last autumn, I decided to try substituting plums for mangos in an Indian mango chutney recipe… It worked really well, so I am sharing it here in case you have a glut of plums of your own this year (or maybe some from last year to use up!).

Plum chutney


1 kg plums, yellow flesh type
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
10g fresh ginger (peeled weight)
2 cloves garlic
1 green birdseye chilli
2 teaspoons whole nigella seeds (aka kalonji or onion seeds)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
300g granulated sugar
175g  white vinegar

Makes about 2 450g jars.


  • Prepare the plums, by halving and de-stoning them. Put to one side in a large bowl. You can use them straight from frozen if you have some already prepped.
  • Chop the chilli, garlic and ginger very small and put in a small bowl/on a small plate.

ginger, garlic, chilli for chutney

  • Measure out the spices and salt onto another plate/bowl.

spices for plum chutney

  • Heat the oil or ghee in a large non-reactive heavy-based pan. When it is hot, add the ginger, garlic and chilli and fry, stirring all the time, until they are softened and have taken on a tiny bit of colour (just the tiniest amount).
  • Add the spices and salt and cook for about a minute.
  • Add the chopped plums, vinegar and sugar and stir until everything is combined.
  • Bring to a very low simmer and cook for an 1 or 2 hours until it is a lovely thickened and fragrant chutney. If the plums were very juicy (or frozen like the ones I used) it might take quite a long time for the plums to cook down, so it’s tricky to be specific about the time. You know it is done because it will come together to a lumpy sauce like consistency (sorry, terrible description!).
  • Pot up, whilst still very hot, in pots that have recently been through the dishwasher and have been warmed through in the oven. Whilst still hot, screw on non-reactive lids which you should soak in boiling water for 5 minutes before using.

I also made strawberry and rhubarb jam yesterday, which is fantastic for this time of year when strawberries are going strong and good rhubarb is still available – I really recommend this recipe, which is simple and works out really well – no need for pectin either which is always good.


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Filed under cooking, fruit, gardening, preserving, recipe