Treasure at the end of the rainbow

I missed the postie when he tried to deliver a parcel before the Easter weekend, so I have been waiting patiently to get my chance to go up to the Post Office and pick up what I suspected was the quilt from my Rainbow Mini Quilt Swap partner. Let me tell you what a brilliant surprise it was…

A few days ago I spotted a stunning mini-quilt on the #rainbowteamred thread on Instagram – it was made by Sarah, who was the recipient of the quilt I made, so as this was a secret swap rather than one-to-one, I assumed that it was super-unlikely that I would receive it. I’ve got to tell you, I was really sad about this because I LOVED it. Some of my favourite fabrics from Denyse Schmidt and other beauties in lovely muted brights, paired with gorgeous low volume text prints and some fabulous, dense straight-line quilting giving it the most fantastic texture – I was really taken with it. It was so lovely, I even left a comment mentioning how sad I was that I wouldn’t be on the receiving end.

But look what I got! Sarah must have smiled when she read my comment because it WAS for me.


Isn’t it fabulous? It is going to have pride of place in our front room – I feel like I’ve received a really fabulous Christmas present  and birthday present all rolled into one. Thank you so much Sarah!


Filed under patchwork, quilting, swap

Easter preparations & egg cosies

In spite of the horrendous weather (rain, hail, gale force winds, freezing temps!), British Summertime has officially begun and Easter is nearly here. This week I will be making my favourite Simnel Cake – I’m going to try this recipe from the Guardian which claims to be the perfect version. I hope it lives up to its billing, but as long as there is plenty of marzipan, I really don’t mind. I’m also planning on baking lots and lots of Easter biscuits for my kids, who probably wont touch the fruit cake. I can’t believe I originally blogged the recipe for these biscuits 4 years ago – time flies – I still think of this as my new blog!  Anyway, I really recommend them – they are rich, buttery, delicious, and fun to make. And, of course, the house is filling up with chocolate eggs…! We shall be as round as eggs ourselves by this time next week…

I’ve recently finished an Easter-themed project for my friends at Ochre & Ocre. I made these little egg cosies from little remnants of their lovely organic fabrics:



Rather pathetically, I could only find one of our egg cups for my picture. Fortunately Tess and her photographer at Ochre and Ocre did a much better job:

Ochre and Ocre Easter cosies

The essence of spring! It’s a shame the weather isn’t quite living up to the pictures. If you have time to sew before the weekend, you can find my pattern for the egg cosies (they are super quick to do, not surprisingly!) over on the Ochre & Ocre blog.

Hope you enjoy your Easter celebrations and/or Easter break, whatever the weather!


Filed under craft, pattern, seasons, sewing, tutorial

Rainbow Mini all finished

I just wanted to share a pic of my completed mini quilt for the Instagram Rainbow Mini Swap. I so enjoyed making this – I hope you can tell!

Rainbow mini


It just scraped in under the 24″ maximum rule, which was a relief. I have learned that I have a tendency to be rather skimpy with my 1/4″ seams, so things tend to grow a bit!

Love Sewing arrived at my place this morning, and so I got to see the fabulous job that the Ed, Helen, has made of styling my pattern for a gadget clutch:gadget clutch in love sewing

It was also a great relief to see that an iPad actually fitted..  I don’t have one, so I was working from my DIY cardboard version. Not quite the same… It’s a really fabulous issue (not just because I am in it!), well worth getting hold of a copy!

I’ve also been busy whipping up a Kindle Paperwhite-sized version of the clutch using Liberty lawn and some Essex yarn-dyed linen, for my lovely FB friend Lisa:


For some insane reason I decided to put some piping round the edge of the flap section. Got it to work after MUCH swearing. Must practice because I love the way it looks. Some piped cushions are on my To Do list, but that’s rather extensive…

We have had gorgeous weather here today, which made me feel very spring-y. Here’s my pup enjoying a sunny ‘walk’ this morning. He is such a lovely source of fun and happiness in our days!



Hope you are having a lovely weekend too!



Filed under family, patchwork, quilting, stitching, swap

Book Review: Shed Decor by Sally Coulthard

IMG_4797If you have dreams of creating an outdoor room or even just a very fancy garden shed, Shed Decor by Sally Coulthard (and recently published by Jacqui Small) is definitely the right book to consult. It is packed full of photographs of the most inspiring and beautiful outdoor rooms. Before I opened this book, I had no plans to do any such thing, but even after my first flick through, I was googling ‘large sheds’ and ‘bespoke garden rooms’!  Who wouldn’t want this lovely hideaway at the bottom of their garden?


The book is divided into 2 main sections. The first is Shed Decor Styles, which highlights some different approaches for your shed/outdoor room and looks in detail at themed decorating styles. There are sections on The Rustic Shed, The Vintage Shed, The Plain & Simple Shed, The Recycled Shed, The Retro Shed and The Country Shed. You can see from the pictures – there is a wonderful variety of styles here:


In her intro, Sally Coulthard says:

Sheds give us the freedom and permission to do something that’s life-affirming, creative, or just really good fun.

This made me think – If you’re the sort of person who drools every week over the wonderful self-build inspiration of TV’s Grand Designs, but know that you could never actually find the money or the courage to build your own house, creating a fun outdoor room could well be an achievable alternative. You can see how persuasive Shed Decor is! I even started looking for textiles that would look as good on the walls as these beauties:



The different shed decorating styles are lavishly photographed and inspiringly styled. To be honest, even if you don’t even have garden space, this book is well worth a look if you, for example, have a small box room you want to cram loads of storage into to create a craft room:




and who wouldn’t want a sewing shed?



There are masses of ideas about how to decorate a limited space, how to reuse and recycle furniture, and how to squeeze the maximum amount storage, style and fun into a small room. I adore these little kitchens, made using loads of lovely recycled, reclaimed and simple materials. Can you imagine playing house in these lovely spaces?





Once you are brimming with ideas and enthusiasm, the second shorter section deals with the practicalities of making the space usable and comfortable. So the author addresses the options for decorating and insulation of walls and floors, the possibilities for providing heat and power, the kind of textiles and furnishings that work in a shed environment, and looks at the options for making the most of storage. There’s also a (sadly, fairly short) Directory of where to go for furnishings, textiles, paints, etc..

Definitely worth checking out if you dream of creating a garden haven of any kind! As usual, the lovely people at Jacqui Small are offering Very Berry Readers the opportunity to order Shed Decor at the discounted price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG285. *UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. 


Filed under books, reviews

Mini-Quilt Swaps – Playing Catch Up

I’m involved in a couple of Instragram-based mini-quilt swaps just now. Instagram is such a menace for pulling me into swaps – I just could not resist after I saw the logos appearing in every other image on my screen. I signed up for these in the quiet days before Christmas, and am now (of course) rushing to get them sorted by deadline dates at the beginning of April. Procrastinate, me?

First up is a UK based mini-quilt swap… I have started paper piecing Liberty lawn diamonds (with a plan to make some 8 pointed stars) for this one, but I am not entirely sure if I will have time to finish it all up (all that handsewing!) so I might have a change of plan on that one.  Here’s a pic of my progress so far – I started these at the Stitch ‘n’ Pint night at one of our fabulous local pubs, The Bridge Street Ale House. I know it is only basting, but the state of that stitching suggests I might have had one too many…

Liberty diamonds for stars

The other swap has a Rainbow theme, and fortunately, I have made far more progress with that one. The top is pieced, and I am fairly sure about how I want to quilt and bind it.  I’ve never bound a hexagonal quilt before – hope it isn’t too tricky. I used scraps and selvedges for the colourful bits of this, and the fabulous white prints are from the brilliant Doe collection by Carolyn Friedlander (who is clearly a genius):

Rainbow quilt 1

My original idea was for lots of little triangles pieced together to make hexies, but, my first attempt didn’t really work for me, so I decided to go for some oversized triangles instead.

Rainbow quilt 2


I couldn’t resist including some fun bits of selvedge, and my swap partner appears to like texty fabrics as much as I do, so I squeezed some into the mix.

Rainbow quilt 3

The red section is my best bit. I love that ‘woolen blanket’ selvedge with the tiny heart, and I’ve used a scrap of my all time favourite text fabric – Happy Thoughts by Julie Comstock (another genius).

Right – best get back to it!  Any of you folks out there doing these swaps too?


Filed under patchwork, quilting, swap

Book Review: Craft a Creative Business

Us sellers of handmade and craft supplies are living in exciting times!  It has never been easier to set up a small business – the online space has opened up a whole new world of selling opportunities with minimal overheads. A fabulous idea can become a small business in a matter of days – but, even with superb craft skills and brilliant ideas you aren’t going to get far without building some strong business foundations.

There’s so much to learn, it can be overwhelming. In fact, at times you can wonder if the joys of being your own boss aren’t a bit overstated!  It’s not just a case of stitching up a few goodies and watching them fly of the shelves – you have to get to grips with legal and insurance issues, keeping accounts, dealing with taxes, building a brand, mastering technology, marketing and promoting your wares…. the list goes on!

In Craft a Creative Business, the fabulous Fiona Pullen, who many will know from her excellent website, The Sewing Directory, has put together an essential guide to getting those strong business foundations in place.

Fiona’s book is a fantastic reference resource that will come in handy right from the start of your craft business adventure. There’s no waffle – just 230+ pages of essential information, with lots of links and resources for further reading as your business grows. The book is backed up with an excellent website too, which gives us all the latest marketing and selling advice for the fast moving world of the web.

There are 6 sections in the book. The first, addressing self-employment in general, really takes you into the nitty-gritty as to whether being your own boss is right for you. The next section is about all that legal and financial gubbins that you’d probably (if you are anything like me!) rather not bother with. But it is absolutely essential that you get to grips with this stuff early to avoid having to put mistakes right later on, which is no fun when it involves your finances or legal worries.

The other four sections are the fun stuff… and they cover presentation (branding, photography etc.), social media, selling online and selling offline. Even though I have been doing this stuff seriously for 5 years or so now, reading these sections made me realise how much I still have to learn, and how important (and rewarding, financially and otherwise) it is to keep up with the latest developments in online and offline selling.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes ‘how to’ books just make me feel panicky and anxious, with even less idea of where to start than I had before I began reading. Fiona’s big achievement here is to provide masses of helpful information without it being hugely overwhelming – and as an author she is a friendly and encouraging presence in what can be quite a confusing world. In all of the sections there’s a list of activities that will get you started with your photography, your branding, or your SEO etc.,  I found these a really helpful starting point for things I had never really looked at before (like SEO and Pinterest Analytics, for example).

It’s really evident that Fiona has done her research and made the most of the network that she has built up around her work on The Sewing Directory, because there are really useful contributions from craft entrepreneurs who have been there, done that and sold the T-shirt!  These personal stories are full of valuable experience and great to learn from.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough for anyone interest in getting a crafting business going, and it has masses to offer even if you have been doing it for a while. Thanks to Fi for all her hard work in creating this fantastic resource.


Filed under books, reviews

Artist Trading Card Swap – Sign ups now open!

It’s time for an ATC swap! This is the 6th Very Berry Textile Artist Trading Card Swap – and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the little swapping community we have built up, and how pleased I am to have made so many online friends, all because of this swap. If you haven’t participated before, we’d love to have you along for the ride – all we ask is that you read the rules and commit to the posting dates!

The theme this time round is Home Sweet Home – please feel free to interpret this however you like. Your card can reflect the building where you live, the place where you live, what makes a home….

Spring ATC sign up

If ATCs are new to you – here’s some info about what all this is about and the rules of the swap:

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.

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.

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.

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 be the right size and fit the theme.
  • Your card must have 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 for ATC swap 6 is Home Sweet Home – 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 6pm on Tuesday 3rd March. I will send you an email with a few questions (just a bit of basic info for the swap) on Wednesday 4th March and you must respond by 6pm on Friday 6th March. Partners will be assigned by Monday 9th March.
  • 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 20th – 24th April (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 note if you like!
  • Once you have received your ATC, you must get in touch with your partner to say thanks.
  • Although you don’t have to be a Flickr user to join in with this swap, it is fun for everyone if you join in with the community there, and share pictures of your progress and your completed card. Please try and do this if you can!
  • 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. Please use #veryberryatcswap to tag your posts.
  • 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 – just copy and paste the code below.

Very Berry ATC Swap 6
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Very Berry ATC Swap 6"><img src="" alt="Very Berry ATC Swap 6" style="border:none;" /></a></div>


Filed under ATC, swap