What To Do In The Event Of A Broken Sewing Machine

View from a window, Cowes  Isle of Wight

We’ve had grey skies, torrential rain, and even the odd shower of hail; weather best spent indoors, close to the fire. Without the pull of a sunny day, I can start stitching that new pile of fabric. Unfortunately, an encounter with Fantastic Mr Fox has put my machine out of action. Turns out stitching through fabric and hot glue is ill-advised. Who knew?! But, the sacrificial stitching did contribute to a pretty great costume for World Book Day, and Tom’s first appearance in the local press (he’s a proper local now.)

So, while my freshly cut patchwork pieces lie awaiting a repaired sewing machine, I’ve been busy doing other things. Knitting is pleasingly analogue- no need for a plug socket and the only breakdowns are human (knitting in the round is fiddly). This first mitten was on the needles for a long time; I’m hoping the second will go a little quicker, and start keeping my hands warm on these cold mornings. Tom’s been drawing galaxies for his class, and I’ve been reading under the covers. The only thing missing from this rainy day is some fresh baking. So I’m off to address that right now.

Craft photo collage

Stocking up on Swatches

The Button Company photo collage

If you take the train to Chichester and turn right, out of town, instead of left to the cathedral centre, you will eventually come across this unassuming warehouse. Travelling hours by boat and train to reach the eternal maker seems perhaps a little overly keen; that is, until you walk inside. After getting lost in its aisles of fabrics, rich colours just asking to be stroked, you’ll understand its cult following.

I found this place a year ago. The spoils of the previous trip have all been stitched in to bags, cushions and sundries, so a return trip was called for. And who more appropriate to go with than my mum, who started me on this crafty adventure back in childhood days of summer dresses, handmade dolls, and satin cushions (it shocks me now to recall how much I loved the colour pink!)

I had no specific project in mind so we filled our hands with bundles from their baskets of fat quarters and marvelled at the patterns: A deer wearing spectacles! A mustard yellow bird! A frog prince! All highly practical, of course.. So, I spent too much, as expected, and carried home a bag of brilliant colours. Now I have no excuse not to get stitching.


Sunday Stitching – A New Coffee Cosy

Cut fabric pieces, notebook and pencil

This past weekend was filled with some of my favourite autumn things: leafy walks, coffee stops, dinner with family, and books by the fire. And what better way to finish off a weekend of lovely things than with a spot of sewing. You may recall I’m a stitching procrastinator and this project was no exception. Looking back over past projects, I’ve noticed this colour combo a lot. I have shelves of brightly-coloured fabrics, but seem to gravitate to the greys instead. Maybe it’s because I’m a proper grown-up? Doubt it..

So, after some hasty cutting (there’s nothing like breaking your rotary cutter to develop a love of the imprecise) and dodgy drafting (see sketches above) I stitched together a tube of fabric strips, with some batting in between, stitched some buttons on the end, and wrapped it round my coffee pot ready for my Monday morning brew.

Buttons, fabric coffee cosy and mugs

Autumn to do list

Basket full of skeins of different coloured yarn, with more yarn in the background
All produced by the Isle of Wight Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers

There is change in the air: chilly mornings, wood fires, and woolly jumpers. And a change in my habits: what I eat, read and do. I know I’m not the only one who changes mood at this time of year, and starts looking forward to autumnal activities. Inspired by Michelle, I’ve put down a few of my own autumn ‘to dos’.

  1. Read some classics – old stories of big rattling houses, mysterious attic residents, and strangers in a storm. Perfect fireside reading.
  2. Bake something new – I have my baking favourites that I stick too, perhaps for lack of time, or inspiration. But, I am going to try out some of the recipes on those clean, unrumpled pages in my cookbooks.
  3. Do muddy walks & pub lunches – the food is all the tastier, and the warmth all the cosier, having been out in the wet and wind.
  4. Sew something to wear – I’ll happily sew stuff, but am daunted by proper seamstressing. So, this is my challenge to myself.
  5. Take a city trip – stripped back trees showing more architecture, new exhibitions, and extra excuses for coffee stops.
  6. Pick up sticks – I haven’t knitted anything since this project went a little awry. ‘nough said.
  7. Take naps – my new job involves commuting daily by ferry. I have big plans to read lots while I travel, but I suspect that won’t happen..
  8. Correspond – sitting down with pen and paper for some proper snail mail catch up is the perfect pace for this time of year.
  9. Embrace the wind – strolling on the beach, getting buffeted about and watching the whipped up waves.
  10. Wrap up in wool – plenty more excuses now to wear my favourite fibre.

What’s on your to do list?

Zip it

Rusty Construction pencil cases

I’ll admit it, I’m a little overly keen on stationery.  And if I can combine that love with some favourite fabric choices, I’m even happier.  So, after these first attempts I’ve been at it again, sewing more pencil cases for any and all who will use one; this time, with a little shameless branding included..

Rusty Construction pencil case label