Very Berry Patterns on Etsy

So, one of the reasons why I have been so very quiet on here lately is that I have been focusing my mind very hard on writing patterns for the workshops I am teaching at Hollies Haberdashery and at my Studio. What has been brilliant, and a bit unexpected, is that I have had such lovely feedback from students about how easy to follow the patterns are, and how much they appreciate the level of detail that I include. So, I have decided to take the plunge and am starting to sell them in my Etsy shop. It’s a slow process because I am getting volunteers to test them thoroughly before I put them up for sale – but my first pattern is now available!

As you can see, it is a nice big roomy tote bag. It is a pattern that would suit confident beginners – it includes a internal zipped pocket and has a flat base – great first bag techniques to learn. There are loads of photos and as much information as I can think of about all the steps involved. The pattern runs to a little over 16 pages, so you can tell it has a LOT of detail, and my aim is to guide you through the process as smoothly as I can.

I’ve used the pattern several times myself – this one was the original class sample:

Here’s how the internal zip looks:

It’s a great zipped pocket for a beginner to tackle because you don’t need to fiddle around with a zipper foot, and it’s fairly straightforward to get a lovely neat finish. My pattern tester was a bit worried about this bit, but very pleased with the results.

Here’s the early prototype version that I got to keep for myself – I am using it as my everyday work/shopping bag. I really love mix and matching the fabrics, and I added a bit of appliqué on this one:

All the trimmings tote

And a version made for a friend, with more appliqué:

Tote bag for Lisa

And here’s the lovely version that my pattern tester Gwawr made – isn’t it gorgeous!

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Hope it takes your fancy! And if it does and you decide to buy, I’m really happy to help with questions and see and share pictures of your finishes.

And there’ll be more Very Berry patterns to come… 🙂  And, oh yeah, if you fancy being one of my pattern testers, and getting hold of a pattern for free, do follow me on Instagram.

Pincushion challenge on Instagram

I know I have been rather absent here, for which I am most apologetic. I have been in a frenzy of making, writing, planning… I will have more to tell you about all of that, but in the mean time I thought I’d tell you about the fun Instagram challenge I joined in with in August. Tinkerellen (well worth a follow on IG, she is so talented and an all round sweet person) set up the hashtag #pinnieparade and challenged us to share a photo of a handmade pincushion every day of the month. I confess I mostly shared pics of pincushions I’ve made over the last 6 years or so (and I have made a LOT), but I did make some new ones:

Pinnie parade day 11a
This one is made with some left-over stitched strips of silk tweed I sewed together when I created this leaf brooch. These gorgeous fabrics are from Beyond Measure.

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Liberty blue pincushion
For this pincushion I used some tiny Liberty lawn and Oakshott cotton blocks that I had made for a miniature quilt which didn’t happen! The main theme to this blog post is, NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY!

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Pinnie parade day 15
A square hexie pincushion I made as a sample for my class in English Paper Piecing at Hollies Haberdashery. It’s a bit on the large size for a pincushion, but easier for my beginner-stitchers to sew together!

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Pinnie parade day 18
For this little pinnie I used some triangles I cut a long time ago when I made this mini-quilt for the Schnitzel and Boo swap back in late 2015.  So yes, scraps and orphan blocks are never wasted – I try and make sure I store them in ziplock bags so I can find them easily when an idea comes to mind.

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Pinnie parade day 7
Lovely Sarah from the fabulous Duck Egg Threads sent me some of this gorgeous Liberty print, Adelajda, because she know it is my favourite. I couldn’t resist making a heart with it, and adding some hand crocheted lace. Makes me very happy, this pincuhsion – if it appeals to you, you can find it in my Etsy shop.

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Pinnie parade day 23
Some more tiny bits of Liberty that I found in my ‘leftovers’ box – I can’t remember what I made these strips for, but I think they look right at home where they are now. This one is also for sale over in my Etsy shop, if it takes your fancy.

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Pinnie parade day 25
There’s a story behind this one.. I was listening to the wonderful musician Chris Thile on YouTube last night talking about the uniqueness of each individual’s inner response to music… he finished with the brilliant affirmation – You’re It! Got me thinking that as stitchers we all see things differently and make things differently, according to our unique inner vision and perceptions of colours, patterns, fabrics, textures, moods, etc. Such a hopeful thought when self-criticism is dominating. I thought I’d try and remind myself of this on a daily basis with a new pincushion for my workroom.

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Pinnie parade day 21
And last, but not least, and probably my favourite – this one is made with some of my favourite scraps, pieced together willy-nilly, just for fun.

Hope you enjoy all the pics! Instagram has such a lovely quilting and sewing community,it’s well worth joining if you have been wary of yet more social media. I generally find it a fairly positive place, and Instagram challenges like this one are a great non-pressured way to expand your creativity (and use up fabric scraps!).

Introducing my new sewing studio

Earlier in the summer I had the opportunity to move from my lovely studio 27 at ACAVA Studios: Spode Works to a bigger space (2.5 times as big!) in the same Studio complex. Although it’s a scary prospect (2.5 times bigger means 2.5 times the rent!) I feel increasingly sure that I want to focus on teaching, so it makes sense to me to have a space where people can come and learn with me in my studio.

I am very gradually settling in, and I’m not done yet, I need a few more bits of storage, another table and some chairs for starters, but it is increasingly beginning to feel like home, so I thought I’d share some photos of the work in progress. First up on my wall were my selvedge mini-quilts, made for Love Patchwork and Quilting about 18 months ago. I am so glad I decided to keep these!

Mini quilts on the wall in my studio at Spode

I was also glad to get all my ATCs and mini-hoops into position on the window sills. I have two lovely large windows, but I don’t get the sun until the late afternoon, which is so much better for sewing and photography purposes! My old studio used to get uncomfortably warm on sunny days.

The window sill at Studio 5 Spode Works

This is my main sewing area. The windows are quite high, so fortunately I can’t get too distracted by what’s going on outside.

My work space at Studio 5 Spode Works

My succulents are doing well in their new home – and I am gradually acquiring vintage Spode china to put them in. This pattern is one of my favourites – Chinese Rose:

Succulent in Spode china cup and saucer

This is my favourite corner of the studio. I am on the look out for a nice comfy armchair to put next to the lamp for those times when I am sewing binding or doing a bit of English paper piecing. It’s great to have a finished quilt on the wall too!

Favourite corner of Studio 5 at ACAVA studios Spode Works

Here’s a view from the ironing board of the entire space:

Studio 5 the home of Very Berry Handmade at Spode Works

Lovely isn’t it! I’m very lucky I know. No doubt I will be sharing more photos as time goes on – I love to rearrange furniture until I have everything just right. And if you fancy a day at the studio, I am planning stitchy retreats and small class teaching in the studio – do get in touch if you might be interested.