If I was ever under the illusion that being self employed was going to be easy, I’ve well and truly shattered it this week. I’ve been running around like an absolute loon trying to sort things out and keep on top of it all. I traded at a really poorly attended craft fair over the weekend which knocked my confidence. I so desperately want this to work! I was tempted to pretend it didn’t happen and not record it so that my accounts look better but that wouldn’t please HMRC now would it?

Other than that, I’ve had a bit of a home photo studio going so that I can get set up selling online. I would love to own one of those fancy home photo studios you see advertised but I think I’d better make some money before I spend it. Instead I made do with a photo cube, an old style 100w bulb, a piece of felt, a tripod and my trusty dSLR.

Overall I’m delighted with the results.

The jewellery has turned out beautifully despite my other half complaining that the back wasn’t in focus. My protestations about depth of field did not receive an impressed response!

As for some of the cushions:

I’m more than a little surprised things turned out as well as they did, maybe I’m missing a career as a product photographer 😉

I’m in the process of uploading everything to Etsy. If anyone’s interested my shop can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/AnaCrafts . Hopefully it’ll start to take off but in the mean time I’ll stick to obsessively checking my shop stats!


Things not to do

I finally finished the quilt of basting doom. Hours of manipulating metres of fabric under the sewing machine were a success. It looked fabulous, I was ridiculously proud of myself. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it in its pristine finished state before things went rather downhill. If I make mistakes they tend to be spectacularly bad as was the case here.

I had the genius idea that I’d wash it before unveiling it to the world. Shoved it in the machine on a hand wash cycle and waited to see what happened. I should mention at this point that I didn’t prewash any of the fabrics. This is partly because I’m a lazy bugger and partly because the majority of the quilt top came from a Layer Cake and I don’t believe(?) you’re supposed to wash precut fabrics before use. When I took it out the machine, some of the red colour had bled in a couple of places leaving red stains in the middle of two non-red squares.

No problem, thought I, I can fix this. So I washed it again but this time with a scoop of Vanish in the wash. The colour run faded but didn’t disappear. So off I went to the supermarket where I found a product called colour run remover.

I read the instructions, it claimed to remove colour runs while returning your clothing to its original colour. I soaked the affected areas of quilt in it.

After half an hour (far, far less than the several hours recommended), I went back to check. The colour run had been removed the only problem was it had taken all the colour with it. It had sodding bleached the whole centre of the quilt. Nowhere on the packet did it say that it would destroy EVERYTHING.

The top and bottom are beautiful and vibrant and as they should be while the middle is a washed out mess.

A bit more of a close up showing just how messed up it really is. I could kick myself. I was obviously naive to think colour run remover would be what it said and not BLEACH.

The only scant bit of comfort is that I’ve learnt never to do it again. The only option for the quilt is going to be to try and tone the bright colours down to match and pretend the whole thing was meant to look vintage.




I have always been very jealous of all the amazing sewing retreats and meet ups that seem to be going on in America all the time. I would love to be able to attend one, unfortunately the cost of a flight makes for a rather expensive weekends sewing. I was browsing t’interweb the other day, no doubt when I was meant to be working, when I came across mention of a retreat being hosted by the lovely people of Fat Quarterly being held in London. Squeeeeeeee!

I know I’m rather late to the party here, been as the retreat is at the beginning of June and people have been booked on and preparing for months. I spent a while weighing up whether I had the confidence (and the money) to attend but a post on the Flickr group inspired me and I bought my ticket last night 🙂 Now I can’t wait! I need to find myself a hotel and steal back my more portable sewing machine from my mum but I will be there nerves and all.


Some photos

The last weekend, I spent a couple of days at the Hobbycrafts show at the NEC. Purely for research purposes you understand 😉 Although a small amount of shopping may have somehow found its way into my possession. It must have fallen off a display or something!

I took a few pictures of things that impressed or disturbed me.

A cross stitched QR code which pleased my inner geek greatly. It even works!

You too can purchase naked plastic babies in a variety of sizes. I dread to think what you’d use them for :S

Finally, stuck for what to wear to that fancy dress party?

Now your whole family can be owls. I mean how could you resist, just look at the glasses.

Yesterday I was in the city to learn about tax on another course from HMRC. I know that if I want to do this business properly which I do, tax is very important. It still doesn’t make in remotely interesting though. I thought after two and a half hours of that I deserved a treat so…

New shoes are made of awesome. They are Liberty print fabric and from Clarks.

As for what I’ve been working on? The quilt of basting doom is currently on hold while I recover sufficient patience to continue with it. Instead, I’ve completed my first ever dressmaking project. I used a kit from Clothkits as I don’t have the confidence to try a paper pattern just yet. I’m delighted with the result. It’s the first time I’ve ever put a zip into anything and while it’s not entirely perfect, it is at least completely my own.


A cautionary tale

So, I sewed up the quilt top, pieced the backing and cut the wadding to size. Then it was just a case of basting it so it all stayed in place while I was quilting. A simple task surely?

The trouble with a double bed sized quilt is that you need a double bed sized space to lay it out in and my office doesn’t have that. My first ingenious idea was to lay it out over the bed in the bedroom and baste from there.

This was a failure. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that until I’d already basted the whole thing. The backing wasn’t stretched taut enough so when I started quilting, I ended up with creases and wrinkles sewn in. I gave up for the day.

Yesterday I spent the first hour unpicking all the previous days efforts to start again. This left me feeling so despondent that I thought I’d treat myself to a trip to Hobbycraft for a browse. I was really well behaved and didn’t buy anything but spent a happy half hour having a mooch.

Returned home and went for basting mark II. I knew I’d have to tape the backing and wadding out to have any chance of getting it tight. The only big enough floor space was the lounge so after some furniture rearranging, I prepared my layers by masking taping the backing and wadding to the carpet.

I’m a sucker for any device that claims to save you time. This means I’d invested in a microstitch basting gun. It fires small tacks through the layers to hold them together and is allegedly much faster than pinning.

So off I went, firing tacks left, right and centre. Five minutes later, *snap*, I’d pressed too hard and broken the needle. So back to Hobbycraft I went to buy some quilters safety pins. It seemed I was going to have to pin baste after all.

Everything was finally going to plan. I pinned the centre and started working out. I was over halfway there, on the home stretch when… I ran out of pins. I thought the 150 I’d bought would be more than enough but clearly not. Back to Hobbycraft I went yet again. By this point the staff were viewing me rather suspiciously (what sort of person visits a shop three times in as many hours) so I paid for my extra pins and fled.

By the time I’d finished it was 8pm and dark but it was done. A task that should have taken me an hour took more like six. I am filing this under “it’s done, now let us never speak of it again”. It just better be taut enough this time…


In progress

Despite my promises to myself that I’d update this at least twice a week, I’ve not quite managed. Amazing how time runs away when you’re enjoying yourself! I’ve been busy locating and booking fairs for over the summer as well as learning about tax and allowable expenses from HMRC.

Still it hasn’t stopped me getting on with a new project. It’s another quilt again using fabric picked up when I was in Vegas. I’m using the pattern Polka-Dot Parfait by Cotton Way with the fabrics as pictured in the design (Bliss by Moda).

I’ve sewn all the blocks up and trimmed them to size

For some reason mine have ended up at 9″ square rather than the specified 9.25″ but I suspect that’s more to do with my dodgy sewing than an inherent pattern error.

Then it was a case of laying them out to decide on the pattern. Trouble is my floor wasn’t quite big enough but it was enough to get the idea. I always find this part quite fiddly, making sure that identical patterns and colours aren’t next to each other. It’s always hardest doing the bottom row as you’ve only got a few blocks left and it’s difficult to substitute them as it wrecks what you’ve already done. Still, I’m pretty pleased with the overall result.

Now to get the rows sewn up and then connected together before adding the borders. I’ve also got to decide what pattern to quilt it in, I’m really not sure yet.


Turquoise and Pearls

As a change from the Patchwork, here’s some jewellery:

18″ necklace made from turquoise nuggets and BIWA (stick) pearls with a large turquoise focal. I adore big sculptural pieces of jewellery and I think the large drop on this really sets it off. Would be a perfect way to accent a little black dress or similar.

Matching bracelet:

And earrings:

I apologise for the photos, jewellery photography is something I’m still trying to get my head around. It’s very difficult to get the right lighting especially on a rather dull British day.


Little and Large

When I said I didn’t want it to be another 18 months before my next quilt was finished, I didn’t realise it was going to be a few days! I’ve been working through my ‘to sew’ pile of things that I’d mostly finished and it included these:

These, and several others, have all been made from one layer cake of something or other by Moda that I can’t remember. The baby quilt is quarter of a layer cake so 5″ squares and the mini is a sixteenth of the cake so 2.5″ squares. They’re both backed with fleece to make them extra snuggly.

They were an experiment in using an allegedly speedy method of quilt making from a book called 90 minute quilts. A lot of time is saved as they are self-bound using the backing fabric. It took me a bit longer than 90 minutes, more like 3 months if you include the time sat on my desk but if I hadn’t got distracted half way through though, I could definitely complete one in an afternoon.

Close up shows the quilting detail, going through both diagonals of each square.

Finished size of mini quilt is 12″ x 16″ and the baby quilt is 24″ x 36″.



It seems appropriate that the first post on my crafty blog is a celebration of another first, my first completed quilt. I bought the fabric for this when I was in Las Vegas for my 25th birthday, so it’s only taken 18 months to finish.

Fabric is from the Timeless Treasures Dino collection. Strangely appropriate for someone with a degree in geology from another life.

Final size 47″x59″.

Quilted in approximately straight lines (I may need a bit of practice!) in a cross hatch pattern with lines spaced by 1.5″.

Machine bound (another first) using this wonderful tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts. This is another technique that I expect will improve with practice but it’s far quicker and stronger than slip stitching it down, a win-win situation I feel.

It’s positioned in pride of place on the sofa bed in my office, along with the first piece of patchwork I ever made.I hope Tigger and Bear appreciate it.

Let’s hope my second quilt doesn’t take another 18 months to appear!