Saturday, 23 March 2013

Local Independents - Blaze

I want to support local craftspeople by writing up a few posts about some independent stores selling great handmade products (not entirely for the purpose of giving me an excuse to spend lots of time in them...). So that said -here is the first.

'Blaze' is situated slightly off the beaten track, on Colston Street in Bristol, but is well worth a visit. Listed as one of the country's 'Top 10 Unusual Shops' by The Guardian, it's a veritable Aladdin's cave of handmade goodies entirely stocked with items contributed by local people.

Many of the products are made on site by some of the in house artists who form a co-operative which runs the shop. This enables customers to interact with the very people who created some of the products on offer.


I was particularly struck by the quality of the merchandising -a potentially tricky task with so much variety on display, but the stock is arranged so beautifully on bespoke and vintage furniture. With it's whitewashed walls and stripped wooden floor it's a lovely light and airy space for showcasing work, and even better now that the shop has been newly extended into what was previously workshop space.


It really is a little gem of a shop full to the brim with gift ideas. I loved this collection of sailors by Lina Lofstrand -each with their own name and story. They have so much character.

'Stewie', 'Grigory' and 'Max'


There is a great selection of organic handmade toiletries including this 'Bristle Fashion' Beard and Mo care kit (I love a pun) by Happy Holistics and I couldn't resist taking away one of these little ceramic bunny brooches by Hanne Rysgaard who has an array of beautiful ceramics on display.

Knitted groceries by Ali Brown and 'Knitiffi'

Anyone interested in contributing their wares or simply seeking more information about the store can get in touch via the Blaze website or Facebook. If you'd like to be kept up to date with their latest news, you can also subscribe to their Blog.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Stag Tote

I've been slacking somewhat on the sewing recently, but with my piano exam finally out of the way I can now crack on with some of the projects I've had on the back burner. Today I've been working on my 'Stag' bag. It's an enhanced version of the tote which I made in my previous tote bag tutorial.


I've interfaced the fabric for extra stability and it's fully lined with internal pockets so that I don't need to hunt around for my keys/purse.


I've included a zip fastening, and also made more of a feature of the handles by using the contrast fabric and stitching them to the exterior of the bag.

As soon as I saw this fabric I knew I had to have it, and the finished bag has quite a sense of humour -I'm pretty pleased with it.

I think that next on the agenda may be an outfit for a friend's wedding next month. I must also get to work on a long overdue quilt that I've been planning as a Christmas gift for my Mother. (Last Christmas that is...)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Little Progress

It's been a slow week for sewing as I've been preparing for an exam which is approaching. I've finally started work on my small collection of children's clothing though (toddlers to be more specific as I'm starting with 6-12, 12-18 and 18-24 months). I thought I'd share a few thoughts regarding my designs.

I have 10 nieces and nephews ranging from 18 months to 19 years old. Over the years I've bought quite a bit of children's clothing for them and have noticed that there seems to be a very obvious 'Blue for Boys/Pink for Girls' divide and not too much middle ground.

Equality has certainly come a long way but it seems to me that there is still a need to imprint gender roles in childhood which I think can be very limiting (particularly for girls) in terms of their aspirations and expectations in life. With that in mind I decided to create a few pieces for both boys and girls with a clean, contemporary feel.


I'm currently working on some dress and shirt patterns and have been playing around with some trouser and hooded jacket prototypes. I'm pretty pleased with this first jacket toile which I threw together with some odds and ends. A few alterations needed but it's not far off!

I've decided on blue green and grey for the actual collection. After weeks of deliberating I've ordered a bunch of this great cotton by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller from here and think I'll pair it with plain grey.


I love the little acorns! Really looking forward to seeing how the finished garments will look. Will post an update soon.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Home Sweet Home

I returned yesterday from a great few days away with the family feeling quite pleased with myself. I upped my bowling score from 29 to 33 (a modest improvement but an improvement none the less), discovered that I'm not utterly terrible at Badminton and despite barely being able to swim I made it round a 'rapids' water ride and down a steep water slide.

It's good to try things a little outside your comfort zone -but by my reckoning I'm now good for at least 6 months! With no wi-fi or telephone signal it was nice to escape for a few days, but we're now back to reality and once more connected with the outside world.

I spent a couple of hours last night making a start on some of my children's clothing blocks. I'm so excited to see them come together! The book I purchased ('metric pattern cutting for children's wear and babywear') is proving invaluable.


It has all the measurements and info I could possibly want for creating and altering blocks from scratch -though I wouldn't recommend it for those with no previous pattern cutting experience as it's by no means a sewing pattern book.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures of progress to post over the next few days.