Tuesday, 3 September 2013

WIP crack away.

Just thought I'd pop in with a quick round up of my WIPs (Work In Progress). One of my favourite patterns is the Ruby Ruffle by The Cottage Mama a very versatile pattern. I'm not one for ruffles but love the version with an inset panel. Bonuses for this are I can add some piping, I looooooove making piping (I know I need to get a life), and you can eek out your really precious fabric by using it in small amounts teamed with something like denim, cord or twill. Here are a few versions currently in my Etsy shop.

This is what The Cottage Mama herself said about my seagull dress.

I'm working on some other versions using my purchases from the Quilt Festival.

I just love this fabric (Bear Hike by Birch from The Eternal Maker) teamed with soft brown/tan needlecord - yum, yum, yum!

I've got some other ideas in the pipeline and I've been working on new labels and logo.

I decided to switch from handmade to handcrafted a very subtle change but according to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) - in my opinion the ONLY dictionary worth using.

handmade ● adj. made by hand rather than machine
handcrafted ● adj. make skilfully by hand

Well I'm going to blow my own trumpet ;-)

Here's Sheepy Sheeperson my new logo. Pink and grey because they are "my" colours apparently and a sheep because of a stunning photograph I have on my living room wall of a sheep that Geek Girl took and to tie in with the whole Cotswold wool history.

and with the words.

Well just a quick one today.
But never fear back soon with buttonholes (read it carefully! I'll never be the same after the Craftsy debacle) and all that palaver.


Friday, 30 August 2013

...and then there was the fabric!

Sorry blog buddies, I've been rather remiss and not posted this week and I know you were beside yourselves with excitement/totally uninterested (tick whichever applies) to discover what treasures I bought at the quilt festival.

Just in case you are worried that you may not get your Literate Stitch fix I've got several half written posts in the pipeline. With a super, thrilling, not to be missed post all about buttonholes. Which reminds me of this hilarious typo by Craftsy - read it carefully it took me a minute...

Also in the mix, a post about a classic children's design that is as popular today as it was 50 years ago.

This was, in part, prompted by this fascinating series over at Sew Pony and in thinking about my style of design and where influences come from.

With this in mind I've had fun rifling through old photo albums and looking at things I've made over the years for my daughters who are now in their 20's, things my mother made for me in the 1960's and the clothes I make today.

However, for now, lets get back to this weeks post on the fluffy stuff.

You need to have a cast iron constitution and sharp elbows to run the gauntlet of quilters and sewers (as in a person who sews, not a conduit for waste matter!) at a show. These people are rude feisty when it comes to fabric. Go for the same fat quarter and it can be scissors at dawn. Apparently, and I really don't know how I missed this, Sewcalled received a kick on the shins when she picked up the same bolt as another insert appropriate adjective of your choice lady (although I use the term lady very loosely). And don't even get me started on those $£%^&* cabin sized suitcases on wheels (I'm ok with big ones in airports but that's it), they are lethal, and have absolutely NO PLACE ON THIS EARTH. They  should in fact be banned and the originator taken out back and stuffed in one of his own creations and yes it was definitely a him because no woman would be responsible for anything so stupid.
Do you get that I really don't like them.
I AM a nice person...

So where was I pre rant, ah yes, fluffy stuff.

The other thing, unless you earn pots of money or are married to a millionaire, is that you need to set yourself a budget and stick to it. This, readers, is almost impossible.

Setting the budget is incredibly straight forward.

1. How much spare cash do I have?
2. How much can I get away with spending without incurring the wrath of Khan?
3. What do I actually need (this is a tricky point and where you will tussle with the difference between want and need)?
4. Am I prepared to sell a kidney, cornea, leg, other non essential body part, to fund my fabric habit?

Now the, well nigh, impossible part is STICKING to your budget, because those naughty fabric purveyors are like drug pushers at a music festival. They tempt you in with all their gorgeousness until you are powerless to resist.

Go on, a little fat quarter won't hurt.

It's only £3, that's nothing.

Well I suppose one little fat quarter wouldn't hurt, but if I want to make something bigger I shall need more.

Better have a bit more to be on the safe side.

It's gorgeous and I don't want to miss out on it.


I'll take 2m.

Budget blown!

My biggest tip...

take cash and


It is incredible just how many fabric related emergencies there are!

There were a myriad of gorgeous shops represented at the show. Sewcalled and I were like kids in a sweet shop!

From the extensive riches of Barnyarns haberdashery and notions to Creative Grids awesome rulers. I even got a chance to say hello to Creative Grids, Youtube star, Rachel Cross #starstruck!

From whom I bought this -
The Piping Hot Binding tool as an aid to making the binding of which I am inordinately fond.

I have to say it was a great buy. I make A LOT of piping and this speeds up the process and makes it far more accurate.

Also represented were machine makers Bernina from Frank Nutt, Janome and Pfaff and there were some fun long arm machines to play on.

Some of the well know (in the UK fabric world) fabric purveyors such as Brenda Higgs, The Eternal Maker, The Cotton Patch and the reasonably local (an hours drive) to me Lady Sew and Sew in Henley were there with stands groaning under the weight of goodies.

There were also some of the smaller treasures including one of my personal favourites, Pin it and Stitch.

Check out the Pin it and Stitch Blog here and their Ebay shop here.

On the left of the photo is Tracey from Pin it and Stitch and on the right is Angela, who you can find blogging over at Heart of Charnwood here, who was helping out in place of Natalie who has just had a baby. Check out the Pin It and Stitch blog for a gorgeous photo of Natalie's little girl.

Pin it and Stitch may be relatively small but they are, oh so, perfectly formed and very photogenic  (thank you ladies). They are lovely, very,very friendly and helpful and  they have the most gorgeous fabrics. If I had the money I would buy ALL of their stock. Sadly my budget for the festival was very limited so I had to be content with these lovely pieces.

This first I bought to make my daughter a new cup cosy. Here's one I made earlier

It is part of the Lucy's Crab Shack range by Sweet Water for Moda and features names of various beaches that we have been to over the years when visiting the US. I made her one earlier in the year to protect her hands when holding hot or cold takeaway beverages. It was extremely successful... until she managed to dispose of one of the afore mentioned beverages with the cosy still attached, where it languished at the bottom of a city bin. She assures me she did look in to the bin and considered retrieving it but decided asking me to make a new one was a preferable option. I like to think that some down and out somewhere is sipping his tea from a cup encased in my warm cosy but I rather suspect as it couldn't be drunk, smoked or eaten it's probably at the bottom of the city tip rotting quietly, well at least it was biodegradable.

The second was this... just because. I love the colours and the simplicity of the design.

I shall most definately be back to see the lovely ladies as soon as budget allows. I need to sort out this years Christmas fabric before too much longer!

I'm lusting after these at the moment

Moda Cherry Christmas by Aneela Hoey
Merry Little Christmas by Riley Blake

I also couldn't resist calling into one of my other favourites, The Eternal Maker. Pleeeeeeease don't ask why I didn't get a photo although one reason was that the stand was just so darn popular you couldn't get near it.
1. they are just really lovely people, very calm, friendly and extremely helpful considering the madness that was going on around them.

2. why wouldn't they be when they had this, which I thought were sloths but are, in fact, monkeys. But definitely came home with me.

It is, gots certified, organic 100% cotton from Birch  and is called Monkey Swing from the Safari Soiree collection by Dan Stiles for  Birch Organic Fabrics available from The Eternal Maker

which is another from Birch
this time Soiree Teal from the  Safari Soiree collection by Dan Stiles. From The Eternal Maker on this page.

and this
another certified organic from Birch, this time Squirrels Sun from the Camp Sur collection.

and finally this.
Again from Birch and certified organic.
Meadow Friends  Shroom  in the Storyboek 2  collection again from The eternal Maker here.

They had all sorts of other lovelies and I've still got my eyes on some of their other sumptuous fabric but I've got to be patient! I'm trying to think of a good excuse for going to their bricks and mortar shop in Chichester but I can't quite justify it at the moment. I've got all sorts of plans for the  purchases I did make though, so watch this space.

And in case you were wondering, none of the shops featured had any idea I was going to write about them, except that I asked the Pin it and Stitch ladies if I could take their photograph for a blog post (but they didn't know what I was going to write. I did not receive any payment, freebies or discounts for including them and the opinions here are entirely my own based on experience.

Oh, and no small suitcases on wheels were harmed during the writing of this blog (but that's not to say they won't be in future, I have a seam ripper and I'm not afraid to use it!! Don't say you haven't been warned).

Kate (aka The Literate Stitch)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Sewcalled and Literate go on a road trip. With Ryan Gosling and Dr.Who bonus features!

Last Friday Sewcalled and I were let loose from our respective studios and were unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

My plan was to initiate Sewcalled into the delights of the quilt  festival at the NEC.

Having lost my own festival virginity last year and having my 

by the 
I'd ever seen.

(which my phone shots do not do justice too :-( )
With many apologies to the artists who created these wonderful quilts for not having had the forethought to make a note of their names (I've done better this year).

I was keen to share the quilty goodness with Sewcalled. I should add, at this juncture, that neither of us are really quilters. I dabble with applique and enjoy a bit of free motion quilting on a small scale and Sewcalled dabbles with a bit of piecing but full on quilters we are not. We do, however, love a bit of fabric and stitch porn!

So on with the show.

We elected to take Sewcalled's car, it being slightly more refined than my ride and having the advantage of air con! Whoa there, back the truck up. Air con necessary in a British summer? Yes folks it does happen.
We're on our way!
 We made exceptionally good time arriving half an hour before the festival opened. This was the end of the queue, complete with the necessary security - these quilters are feisty and have sharp elbows. So in true Literate and Sewcalled style we...

grabbed a caffeine shot.
Literate needs a caffeine hit before venturing in to the festival.

Coffee downed, let battle commence.

Within minutes I had fallen foul of the quilt gestapo sweet elderly lady. When I inadvertently and accidentally walked in front of a quilt she was trying to photograph. I genuinely thought she was going to run me through with a seam ripper. I'm sure you've met her type. Bossy, busy body, thinks she knows it all, Margot Leadbetter crossed with Hyacinth Bouquet and rude to boot!
(Sorry to overseas readers those cultural references will be lost on you so here's a little taster of Hyacinth and Margot in action).

Having recovered from this traumatising encounter we started perusing the splendid quilts, although I did keep one eye open for the quilt gestapo sweet elderly lady.

There seemed to be an emphasis on the traditional this year (I know I should have shelled out for a guide book which would have told me all about it but I was saving my budget for fabric ;-) ). I confess the traditional isn't really my style, although I can appreciate the work that goes into them. However, there was plenty I did find to ogle lovingly.

I loved the incredible detail in these quilts by Alison Bramley.
By Alison Bramley

The question is does Sewcalled have failing eyesight or is she just getting up close and personal with a quilt? Answers on a postcard please.

This two person quilt with needle turn appliqué was amazing, don't ask me why I didn't take a shot of the whole thing though - doh!

Just incredible.

Not really my cup of tea but you have to marvel at this quilt made from ties.

Apologies for not noting the name of the maker.

Then there was London in fabric

Damn! Why did I not note the makers name, so rude of me sorry.

This was a master piece, two amazing works of art in one.

Of course just to prove to my geeky daughter (aka Geek Girl) that

quilting is in fact cooler than a cool thing.

Dr. Who regenerated in quilt form.

Who,in my opinion, was not a patch on this one

Christopher Ecclestone as Dr Who

And then there was also the man himself...
Ryan Gosling

No silly not that man!

This man

The one and only
Kaffe Fasset

My Grandma made dozens of his jumpers in the 70's and 80's for one of my aunts, oh how gran hated those jumpers!

I have to say though I am a big fan of his fabric, such gorgeous colours and patterns. I was lucky enough to go to his exhibition A Life in Colour in London with my friend Lucy a few weeks ago a real treat and very inspiring.

There also had to be some shopping...

But you'll have to wait for that bit of eye candy cos I'm saving that for my next post ;-)


PS You may have noticed that I have watermarked the photos. The photographs were all taken by me, hence the watermark feel free to pin with the pin it buttons that will appear when you hover.

The quilts obviously were not made by me and are the property of the maker.

Photo of Ryan Gosling courtesy of People Magazine and the power of Google images and Christopher Eccleston via the BBC.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Just popping in to give a shameless plug.

Well it is my blog after all ;-)


Not forgetting I'm off to the quilt show on Friday at the NEC in Birmingham with my buddy Sewcalled.

I'm ridiculously overexcited and already drooling over loads of yummy fabric from

Eternal Maker

such as these
Bear camp organic from Birch
Bear hike organic from Birch

and this

In the forest for Dashwood  Studios

Not forgetting Briar Rose (only just arrived in the UK)

Briar Rose by Heather Ross for Windham

And more lovelyness (yes it's a word!) from Birch Organics

Monkey Swing

Whale Watch
I'm sure there will be lots more to temp us from here too

And lots of others.

Kate AKA The Literate Stitch

Sunday, 4 August 2013

My best friend is a hump jumper, some quantum mechanics and how £2.95 saves my sanity.


Do you want to know a secret?

Tick whichever applies
1.Yes please I love secrets and I will take your secret with me to my grave.
2. Yes please I love secrets they make me feel like I'm in a special club.
3. Yes please but I will share it with everyone I know because I'm the local blabber mouth.
4. No thanks I couldn't give a tiny rats arse (ah Ross Geller where are you now?)  

If you ticked 1 you probably need to get out more.
If you ticked 2 you probably need to get out more.
If you ticked 3 you probably need to stay in more.
If you ticked 4 you probably need to go and read a different blog or possibly watch re runs of Friends!

Now if you're still here lets get down to my guilty little secret...

One of my very best friends is a hump jumper.

There I've said it, shrodingers cat is now out of the sewing basket and is alive and well.

(That was the quantum mechanics if you were wondering)

So just who is this mysterious friend that loves jumping humps?

She lives in my sewing room and comes out to play regularly because, quite frankly, I can't abide this nastiness.
Look at that horrid uneven stitching just before the piping. YUK!

Double YUK! This is even worse, truly offensive to my sensibilities.

Yes, it's those annoying places where your sewing machine struggles to get through multiple layers of fabric e.g. at seams and generally just ends up making a hot mess of your project. Some might criticise me for being overly picky at this point but I don't care, it really bothers me. It's one of those annoyances like the mispronunciation of the letter aitch. There is no h sound - the clue's in the spelling folks!

Anyway, I digress.

Hump jumper to the rescue!

Mine looks like this...
My BFF the hump jumper. One word of caution just be careful with decorative stitches, I was using a fairly wide stitch and the needle hit the jumper, not pretty and the end of a brand new needle.

This is her on her side, different depths for different heights of hump. Neat eah!
and is also know as a button reed. It cost the princely sum of £2.95 (grossly over priced for a bit of plastic really but saving my sanity - priceless!) in fact if you're a real cheap skate you could make your own from a folded bit of card - there's a video of that on Youtube too ;-)

I could go into a long and detailed explanation of how to use this little bit of plastic but you'd probably get bored so check out this video instead, it's not identical to what I have but the principal is the same. Just to warn you the video is not in it's first flush of youth (and for those of you that don't know me in the real world, no it isn't me) but it does show you how the thing works.

Much better

Now do a Google search for hump jumper and it may bring up some interesting hits. So it may be better to search for button reed, or not, really depends if you like to live life on the edge.

You never know next week we might investigate bosonic string theory, super string theory and their relation to M- theory ! But perhaps I'll just stick to sewing, with a bit of life thrown in.

Oh and next week I'm off to the NEC in Birmingham for the quilt show with my buddy Sewcalled so there'll be a report about that coming up soon.