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Welcome to Fabrications' Blog! We hope you enjoy all that it has to offer!

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:10:51 +0000


Meet the Maker - Bella Lane

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:17:00 +0000

I am delighted to present highly skilled and beautiful lady Bella Lane for my next 'Meet the Maker' series of blog posts. Bella is a master Peruvian embroiderer and also Royal School of Needlework trained.My path crossed with Bella at the Knitting & Stitching show where we were both teaching. I was very happy when she agreed to start offering her hand embroidery classes at Fabrications about a year ago. Her 2 forthcoming embroidery classes take place on Saturday May 13th - " Learn hand embroidery applique & stitch an Arpilleras of Peru " & "Learn hand embroidery & stitch an Andean rose ". A unique treat for beginners and existing embroidery enthusiasts as these mini master classes focus on Peruvian embroidery techniques, culture and history.Tell me and the readers a little about yourself and what drew you to focus on embroidery?My journey in embroidery started 40 years ago in the heart of the rain forest of Peru and it has been an incredible journey to reach this stage were I’m available to deeply understand the art of hand embroidery and the art of using it to express and inspire others by stitching, embroidering for professional use, fun, therapy, healing or just experimenting. I have been in the professional embroidery world for 10 years now and have worked with so many people and companies through commissions here in London which was a great springboard for pushing and extending the traditional professional training I had received for full three years. As well I have been teaching all kinds of embroidery workshops, for individuals groups her in UK and abroad, and still do this whenever I can. Stitching two pieces of cloth or stitching a single button really stops the busy world around us and really can connect us with our ancestors who at some point of their lives also stitched the same things without thinking that needles, threads and cloth will be with us forever, generation by generation.  Technology will move fast but we always will depend on the needle and threads, these items never will die as we do. This is what draws me in to the world of hand embroidery. When I'm working with needle and threads, my mind is transported to another place, a place that can be beautiful, peaceful, intense and challenging and my love for needlework and embroidery has helped me to produce magnificent pieces of embroidery, many of them were recognised with Awards.  You are a master Peruvian Embroiderer and also adept in English embroidery! How do the techniques compare?Needle and thread is the common connection between English and Peruvian embroidery, I love both of them. In Europe we work with the finest threads, cloth and tools; in Peru we work with what we have. Peruvians love very bright colours, in England we like more subtle colours.  These choices are affected by our culture, history, weather, and so many other factors, even our language.  As we are in Great Britain, Peruvians are very proud of our ancient cultures. The rich textile heritage that the ancient peoples of Peru have bequeathed to us gives us so much to learn and enjoy, not just in embroidery but for all art forms. Those attributes are an invaluable contribution that Peru has to offer, not only for their own people but for everyone who is interested in textiles and art. I consider myself so fortunate to belong to both places. These days I am a British and Peruvian citizen. Always I'm delighted when people in Peru ask me teach them English embroidery techniques, and when I'm in UK I am very happy teaching Peruvain embroidery.  It is such a valuable asset to have these two cultures at once.  What is an 'Arpilleras of Peru’ ?  Arpilleras in Peru is the modern approach to textiles embellished with recycled or unwanted fabrics, stitched with bright coloured threads. In other words, it is a form of Peruvian applique. T[...]

Happy Newvember!

Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:47:00 +0000

I am really excited to be involved with so many resourceful events and initiatives this month helping us to make the most of what we already have, be less wasteful and prolong or breathe new life into our belongings (and mindsets!) I hope you can join Fabrications at one of the following events!  Hackney Fixers proudly presents 'The BIG Fix' Hackney's first festival of fixing! At St Mark's Church, Dalston, Saturday 21st November, 11am - 4pmThere is an impressive line up of experienced fixers to help you and teach you how to repair all kinds of items: electrical goods, electronics, clothing, chairs, bikes and more! Start getting ready with your stuff!  Fabrications: Bring along an item of clothing to refresh. Learn patching, darning, sewing and alterations.The Restart Project: Their fixers work with you to repair your gardgets (including mobile phones, laptops, printers, kitchen appliances and more!)Hackney Bike Workshop: Fix your bicycle. Safety check, tyre check & pump up. Brake & gear adjustment & lubrication.The School of Stuff: Chair repair surgery. Get sdvice and learn techniques for fixing your chair.Traid: Protect your winter wardrobe, make a natural origami moth deterrent Eco Active: Make useful wallets, bags & beads from recycled materials. Sugru: Demos and ideas on ways to use this amazing 'mouldable glue' or '21st Century duck tape!' which has become a globable fixing phenomenum - manufactured in Hackney!Sustainable Hackney and Hackney Council's recycling team will also be on hand to provide information on recycling, waste prevention and re use.   The Upcycling Academy is back! This time we will be at the Christmas Bust 'Craftacular' at York Hall, Bethnal Green, Sunday 22nd November, 11am - 5pm 'Craftacular' is one of London's largest and finest indie maker events. 'The Upcycling Academy' is an educational model created by Barley Massey (Fabrications) in conjunction with Traid, War on Want and The Craftivist Collectrive. Our aim is to start conversations and feel inspired to adjust our actions through hands on learning into textile waste, creative upcycling and better fashion industry practises. Create a sweater bobble hat with Traid – 12-2pm – £5 – book hereCustomise a Christmas jumper with Fabrications – 2-4pm – FREE* (bring your own jumper or Traid will have some to prchase before the workshop)Fuse activism with craft and write a secret scroll with Craftivist Collective – 3- 5pm – FREE Up next is TRAID's  #SecondHandFirst week which celebrates the power of second-hand to change the world by keeping the resources we already have in use for longer. It was launched by TRAID in 2014 and their key aim is to increase the number of people committing to wearing and sourcing more of their clothes (and other resources) second-hand, rather than new. The week will be packed full of events and actions, both in the UK and across the globe, to connect you to the huge environmental and social benefits of second-hand. Join Fabrications for our special #SecondHandFirst 'Darn it! Patch it! PARTY  at Fabrications,  Thursday 26th November, 6.30 - 9pm Want to 'Refresh your Wardrobe' and unlock it's value? This is a regular class at Fabrications, because we love to pass on clothing care & repair techniques and inspiration all year round! Check out our CALENDAR for up and coming workshops and events! [...]

Charity Fashion Live

Tue, 15 Sep 2015 14:46:00 +0000

This London Fashion Week the public will be able to get involved in one of the most exciting events on the fashion week schedule Charity Fashion Live, when Oxfam and stylist Emma Slade-Edmondson recreate London Fashion Week looks, just moments after they emerge on the catwalk, using only the second-hand clothing they find in Dalston's Oxfam shop on Saturday 19th September.  You can also get involved on Saturday 19th September  on Twitter at @CharityFashLive and @Oxfamfashion; Instagram at @CharityFashionLive or on the Facebook account CharityFashionLive. The Charity Fashion Live Oxfam Edit event is brought to you by partners Recycle for London and Love Your Clothes, the campaign aimed at helping us get the most out of our clothes. With trends changing season by season, it can be difficult to keep up, particularly if you don’t have a big budget. But with around 1.1 million tonnes of clothing being discarded every year by UK consumers, there is a treasure trove available at a fraction of the price in Oxfam shops. Charity Fashion Live will prove that second hand clothing can be on trend.  " I love Emma Slade's Charity Fashion Live concept as it encourages us to look at second hand clothes and our own old clothes with a fresh eye. It also makes high end fashion trends accessible and affordable to all. Fast fashion has created a throwaway attitude to clothing and initiatives like this help us re connect with the joys of charity shop discovering, our creativity and the possibility of re styling and transforming our existing clothes " Barley Massey (founder of Fabrications)Alongside Emma's live event, Other London Oxfam shops will be hosting #FashionSalvage events on the same day. There will be designers and upcycling specialists showing you how to alter, repair and re-style items of pre-loved clothing to turn them into new looks, helping you add a personal touch to your new Oxfam purchases – or to a piece that’s been stuck at the back of your own wardrobe for too long. Head to Oxfam, Covent Garden between 2 - 4pm for an introduction to second hand textiles in fashion design followed by a crochet workshop hosted by Fashion industry Pioneer and Founder of Fashion Revolution Day-  Orsola de Castro and London designer and queen of crochet Katie Jones. Location: Oxfam Covent Garden, 23 Drury Ln, London WC2B 5RH Time 14:00 – 16:00 Visit the Fabrications up cycling and alterations pop up desk at Oxfam Islington where you’ll be able to add something personal to a garment from Oxfam or perhaps something you’ve brought along with you. Barley will be on hand with embellishments galore and a sewing machine to help you create something unique, to take up a hem, or for some alterations advice!I will be joined by Tree (Stitchless TV) who will be demoing her explorations into 'Sublimation' heat transfer printing using a household iron - a great way to transform polyester garments!Location: 29 Islington High Street, Islington, London, N1 9LH Time: 14:00-16:00 Visit Oxfam in Westbourne Grove for a consultation with Stylist and Costume designer Illishio Lovejoy. Pop in for advice on putting together a look for attending fashion week or that special event you have coming up. Location: 254 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SE Time: 14:00- 16:00PHOTO CREDIT: James Mc Cauley (taken at Love your Clothes 'Fashion Salvage' event, LMB) [...]

Meet the Maker - MEGA MIX!

Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:14:00 +0000

As Fabrications 15th Birthday Celebrations approaches, I'd like to put a BIG SHOUT OUT and say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all my friends, family, creatives, teachers, doers, fixers, special people that have put your time, energy and creativity into Fabrications over the years. I've Been going through my pics - Can you spot yourself?? (Sorry if you can't I didn't always have my camera to hand to capture the moment but I havn't forgotten you or your support!) From left to right - David Mumford ( D.A M ) Sue Russell (Wool-n-Dance) Katherine May, Jillian Bulgan, Clare Sams & Mark - Paul.Eric Martin & Nikolai Delvendahl (Delvendahl & Martin Architects) Jay & Yassir (Out of the Dark now Jay & Co) Sam Buckland & Sarah Mc Phee, Ayda Anlagan (Monstify), Rachael Matthews (formerly Cast Off now Prick Your Finger)Rosie Martin (DIY Couture) Adeline Royal Caminski, Stephanie Bescoby, Jane Smith, Sarah Corbett (Craftivist Collective) Lisa Margreet Caroline Brooks (Shoreditch Sisters) Tommy the Cat, The Upcycling Academy (collaboration with Fabrications, Traid & War on Want) Clemence Joly, Laura Lees (The Mighty Stitch) Marion BergerFiona Sail & team (Sail & Sons), Jade Ilke, Hackney Council, Michael Swaine, Ryan Frank, Annie Sherburne, Tree (Stitchless TV) Lu Flux[...]

Meet the Maker - It's David A Mumford!

Tue, 16 Jun 2015 16:16:00 +0000

I've not posted up a 'Meet the Maker' interview in a while, so thought it time I did so! This month's featured maker is David A Mumford, who I have known for many years but have had the privilege of working directly with at Fabrications over the last year both selling a selection of his upcycled fashion accessories and developing a range of sewing classes with him. Formerly one of the designers at Junky Styling, well known for their pioneering and creative approach to garment reinventions.David has 2 classes coming up at Fabrications:'Introduction to using a sewing machine & upcycling" on Sunday 21st June and 'Transform a man's shirt into a summer bomber jacket" on Sunday 26th July.BM: Tell me a little about your design background?DAM: Since I was a teenager I have had a passion for making clothes. It all began from not being able to afford to buy the clothes that I wanted to wear, and being able to express my own individual identity. I highjacked my Mothers sewing machine and started altering garments that I purchased at jumble sales and charity shops. This has led to a career in fashion that spans four decades.BM: What are your favourite textiles to upcycle and why?DAM: I enjoy upcycling all materials/garments as its always a challenge to find the best way of re-creating them, bringing them up to date and giving them a new lease of life. Men's suits and shirts are great, because they have lots of pockets and fastenings that you can re use.BM: How do you find upcycling differs to traditional methods of garment making?DAM: Upcycling differs because you are working with materials that already have a 3D form, and to a certain extent less restricted by the rules of traditional garment construction, enabling you to find your own methods of making and designing by experimentation. BM: What are you working on at the moment? DAM: I am currently designing and producing a ready to wear collection of upcycled clothing under my new label D.A.M I also accept private bespoke commissions.  I frequently run a series of workshops in schools, colleges, as well as Fabrications to share my knowledge and expertise in Upcycling. This, promotes creativity and extends the life expectancy of already manufactured clothing.BM: Having worked within the fashion industry for over 20 yrs, do you think upcycling offers a creative solution to reducing the environmental and social impacts of 'fast' fashion?You can keep recycling/upcycling pieces of clothing over and over again. Well loved garments can always become something new and fresh. With a little imagination, you can create something inspiring and beautiful that you or any one else would never want to part with and send off to a landfill. [...]

Tips & Tricks on hosting your very own 'Fashion Hackathon'

Tue, 09 Jun 2015 11:01:00 +0000

On Saturday 25thApril I was fortunate to be involved alongside ‘Love your Clothes’ at  Clotho’sfirst ‘Fashion Hackathon’. Although I’ve been upcycling for many a year now the concept of a fashion hackathon was new to me. The Clotho girls informed us that they had drawn inspiration from computer ‘Hackathons’ they had attended , where computer wizards and hobbits gather in a large room and form teams that then build programmes, apps etc together in 24 hours! Their idea was to take all the clothes that they were unable to list on their clothing exchange website due to rips, broken zips, unravelling hems etc and for participants to turn them into new and beautiful items in a ‘sustainable sewing factory’.   So I set up my machines and boxes of threads, scissors, haberdashery and we set design challenges – theme of festival fashion, labels to be worn on the outside (as to think about where and by whom the original garment was made) Working collectively, creating change / transformation and the teams set to work! It was a lively day and participants fully embraced the challenges, coming up with really inventive ‘fashion hacks’ and working together to realise their designs. So I thought I’d encourage you to have your own fashion hackathons at home!  Here are my tips and tricks to consider when approaching your own ‘Fashion Hacks’:- Make the most of existing fasteners - Holes & wear are an opportunity for transformation!- Mix & match and fuse different items together- Create ‘multifunctional’ garments- Play with patternRe working your old clothes is fun and personal. It’s important to tap into your own creativity and sense of style. Recognize the potential and look at your old clothes from a different perspective! Some basic sewing skills are necessary. If you have no experience or are new to sewing, I offer lots of accessible classes at my studio ‘Fabrications’in Hackney, East London. Thank you to Fabrications students for allowing me to share your creations! Here are my tips and tricks to consider when approaching your own ‘Fashion Hacks’:- Make the most of existing fasteners - Holes & wear are an opportunity for transformation!- Mix & match and fuse different items together- Create ‘multifunctional’ garments- Play with patternRe working your old clothes is fun and personal. It’s important to tap into your own creativity and sense of style. Recognize the potential and look at your old clothes from a different perspective! Some basic sewing skills are necessary. If you have no experience or are new to sewing, I offer lots of accessible classes at my studio ‘Fabrications’in Hackney, East London. Thank you to Fabrications students for allowing me to share your creations!   Making the most of existing fasteners……I love working with men’s shirts. Not only is the fabric stable and easy to work with they have lots of buttoning!  Often buttons on shirts are set to similar spacing, so you can button different shirts together to make a new garment or a bell tent if you keep going! Fortunately I reigned myself in to this ‘cut & paste’ collaged dress and stuck to 3 shirts! Cutting on this dress was minimal; the shaping is created through a belted gathered waist band and elastication half way down the sleeves. You could add darts on the top shirt for more fitting. Holes and wear n tear are an opportunity for transformation…..Appliqué (or patching) is my friend. I have a number of favourite jeans that are works in progress, as another hole appears on goes a new patch! This can be done discreetly with similar fabric or show off - make your patching stand out in a crowd! I enjoy making patches from other old clothes or textiles to create motifs or ‘cheat embroideries’.I tend to machine on my patches using a ‘3 step zig zag’ (this is stronger than a regular zig zag) or a ‘F[...]

Yarn Shop Day! Come see us! Saturday 2nd May!

Wed, 08 Apr 2015 15:44:00 +0000

Following the success of last year’s event, Fabrications is pleased to announce that we will be participating in the national ‘Love Your Yarn Shop’ campaign, initiated by Let's Knit Magazine which aims to raise the profile of the value that bricks and mortar yarn stores bring to the local community. Part of the campaign includes ‘Yarn Shop Day’ taking place on Saturday 2nd May. On ‘Yarn Shop Day’, Fabrications will be hosting a ‘Close-Knit Community Knit-Tea Party’ open to all ages (from 7+) and all levels of crafter from 1:30-5:30pm. Flowers, leaves, and garlands will make up the creations for the day, which can be knitted or crocheted in detail with small needles and hooks or large on their unique MACRO knitting needles and French knitting wheels. All of the items created will be added to a flourishing knitted trellis installation on Fabrications shop front, so that everyone can admire them! Special Goody Bags are set to be available for the first 25 customers of the day to start off the event. Everything will be provided, from the materials to the food, with Fabrications lovely teachers on hand to help, so all you need to bring is you! Everyone is welcome to this free event, but space is limited, so be sure to book your spot NOW!. Participating in this exciting day is just the beginning of the celebration to mark Fabrications 15th birthday! [...]

It's Traid's #Secondhandfirst week!

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:58:00 +0000

I was invited to guest write on Traid’s blog this week, so thought I'd post up a copy with a few more pictures on my own blog as well! This week Traid has initiated the first hopefully of many  #Secondhandfirst week, jam packed with interesting activities encouraging us to take the #Secondhandfirst Pledge. It is a great great initiative which also highlights the ways we buy our clothes and a reminder of all the environmental and social problems in the textile and garment supply chain. We all have the capacity to affect these problems in positive ways as conscious consumers and citizens. The volume of textile and clothing waste in the UK is quite staggering (Source WRAP: 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill every year. 30% of our unwanted clothes goes to landfill. 60% of UK households have unwanted clothes & textiles at home) We are throwing away or just hoarding valuable resources!!In the ‘Hierarchy of waste’; reduce and reuse are at the top of the pyramid. For me this way of thinking and being is very easy. I was brought up on a diet of second hand being careful. Hand me downs (or hand me ups!) was the norm without any shame or stigmas that today’s youngsters seem to feel. As a teenager (and continues to be so!) sourcing clothes from charity shops was fun, a great source of individuality, re styling possibilities and affordable! I still take advantage of Traid’s famous £2 sales!! As I enter my mid years I also appreciate the emotional durability of second hand, especially items from older relatives which hold memories, stories and history. Many vintage clothes were made to last too.Care and repair is an important part of making our old clothes go further and re connecting with the joy in fixing and looking after items. Tired old clothes gives us an opportunity for re styling an item giving that buzz of wearing something completely different and you had a hand in making it happen! I have observed a skill shortage and lack of confidence in being able to do this. Back in the day these skills would have been passed on through the family or taught in school. This has motivated me to run regular classes in learning to sew and refreshing your wardrobe through simple alterations, mending, darning & embellishing and these classes are popular which is heartening!Upcycling adds value through creativity and design. Items too damaged for re use present an opportunity for transformation. A few years ago I iinitiated ‘The Upcycling Academy’ to give young people the opportunity to experience a ‘Productive Line’ to re imagine a different approach to fashion, to create rather than consume. Partnering with Traid, War on Want & the Craftivist Collective, we each added ‘Values’ along the line.Taking inspiration from ‘Cradle to Cradle’ thinking, imagine a garment circulating through many owners in its lifetime? (Truthfully many garments never reach their full potential in relation to resources, energy used to make and distribute the item) I love the recent trend for Clothes Swapping or its older sister ‘Swishing’. Jo of Mrs Bears Clothes Swap tells me that that she has regulars who use her swaps to ‘rotate their wardrobe’ – brilliant!Wonderfully TV programmes such as ‘The great British sewing Bee’ which added an upcycling / alteration challenge to the second series and ‘This old Thing’ (the vintage clothes show) have inspired the nation to look at old clothes and lost textile skills with a fresh passion. Even Coronation Street discussed the possibility of an ‘upcycled wedding’! It’s all good! So now over to you dear reader! Get involved and feel inspired! There are a range of fun activities taking place during #Secondhandfirst week. My next Fabrications craft club on Thursday 20thNovember is a #Secondhandfirst themed evening with a clothes swap upstairs in the shop and [...]

Waste Less Live More

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 08:57:00 +0000

 Today is the first day of 'Waste Less Live More' week. An initiative by 'Keep Britain Tidy' to raise awareness that environmental and social issues are interlinked and tackling these issues together is a far more effective solution. This year's theme is 'Be Resourceful', which is right up Fabrications street!  I was approached by the 'Love your Clothes Campaign' to share one of my garment upcycling ideas as part of their 'Waste Less Live More' daily updates in collaboration with the 'Centre for Sustainable Fashion' . Between the two of them they will be streaming lots of tips and advise on how to get the most out of your old clothes in fun, practical and stylish ways. So make sure you tune in to their daily updates this week!So here is my tutorial on how to transform a man's shirt into a stylish summer top. Time to raid your Father's, Brother's, Boyfriend's wardrobes! Thankyou Ali from Love your Clothes (London's arm) for taking such great pictures to illustrate how it's done.    Step 1 -  Iron out any wrinkles to prepare for .... Step 2 - Cut off the arms and cut through front and back of shirt in an even , straight line. Avoid accidentally cutting through a button! (which your scissors won't be very pleased about) Step 3 - undo the buttons down the shirt front to reveal the inside back panel where you want to measure down 2" from the cut edge, put in a row of pins or mark with tailor's chalk.  Step 4 - Folding under at the beginning and end (to hide raw edge), pin cotton tape (1" wide) along the row of pins / chalked line from side seam to side seam.  Step 5 - Measure down 1.5" to add a second row of tape as per Step 4.  Step 6 - Attach cotton tape to the inside (back panel) of the shirt by stitching along each edge, creating a decent sized channel for threading elastic through.  Step 7 - Attach a safety pin to your elastic (I used 6mm elastic) and thread through each channel, using the safety pin to secure the elastic at each end while you determine how gathered the back panel needs to be to fit your body. This can be done roughly at this stage and tweaked later to get a better fit. Step 8 - Now it's time to play with the sleeves to make straps. Find 'Centre Back' and mark with a pin. Temporarily pin the sleeve cuffs on the front and lift sleeves over your shoulders towards the Centre Back pin mark. Now you know how much of the sleeves to cut down!Step 9 - Set the machine to the longest straight stitch and run along the newly cut edge through both sides of sleeves (opposite end to cuffs) Pull on either top or bottom thread to gather.the fabric. Step 10  - Pin both cuff ends facing down on top of outside of shirt fronts ('Right Sides Together') either side of the button opening and 'Stay Stitch' in position (stitch as close to the edge as you can, this stitching is just to help you for the next step.Step 11 - Pin the cotton tape along the stay stitch line and just along each shirt fronts (not the back panel yet!) This time fold raw edges on each end of the cotton tape towards you (as this will get folded over as a hem later)   Step 12 - Position the other end of the sleeve straps either side of your 'Centre Back' pin. Repeat same actions as Step 10 - pin 'Right Sides Together' and 'Stay Stitch' in position.Step 13 - Attach cotton tape to the back panel, following the same method as Step 11Step 14 - Fold the cotton tape over creating a hem in 3 parts (Front/Back/Front) on the inside. You can use an iron to help press into position neatly. The sleeve straps and any raw edges should be sandwiched and hidden behind the cotton tape.Step 15 - Pin into position and stitch down the remaining cotton edge along the 3 sections of the shirt. Step 16 - As you've stitched the tape in 3 sections, you should have a neat opening on[...]


Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:44:00 +0000

It's that time of year when I give my studio space and shop a shake up! A 'deep clean' and sort out to make way for new possibilities and shelf space! I've decided to set free some of my stash and treasures including these amazing vintage knitting patterns.

 You might recognise a couple of the models! Sean Connery and Lorraine Chase. A lot of great actors started their careers on the front of knitting patterns.

Some designs no matter how old are timeless and look fresh today. Come on down and grab yourself some one off bargains. I'm selling patterns and magazines like these for 4 for £1 or 10 for £2

There are also lots of other goodies and deals including 50% off a selection of yarns, craft kits, books and gifts * bag of fabric £3.50 or 4 for £10 * bags of creativity * bags of fun * brick a brack * Other random delights! "Come down and have a look!"
Opening Times: Tuesday - Friday 12 - 5.30pm, Saturday 10am - 5.30pm, Sunday 11 - 5pm

Upcycling Inspiration - 5 ways to reinterpret a classic man's shirt

Wed, 14 May 2014 14:00:00 +0000

  Starting simple! Re shape and give it the feminine touch by adding darts and some embroidered patches, purchase pre made patches or make your own with 'free motion embroidery'. Check out my'Introduction to garment Alterations' & 'Refresh your Wardrobe' classes!The button openings on a shirt make them an ideal choice for simple cushion covers, as you don't have to insert a zip or create an overlap. Simple flatten out the shirt and cut a square through front and back of the shirt the size you want your cushion to be and stitch together. Take a step further and applique, decorate the plain side before assembly. You can learn how to make one and build your confidence on using a sewing machine in these classes!'Provisional Driving' - introduction to using a sewing machine & 'Creative Making on the sewing machine'  Little bit more challenging but easy when you know how! Use 4 sleeves to make a lovely little summer skirt or 'Shkirt'! Simple cut along underarm seam to create 4 flat panels. Stitch together each panel from shoulder to cuff (check your waist measurement to determine seam allowance) Insert a zip into one of the seams. The cuffs give the skirt a natural waistband! Learn how to make one and improve your machine sewing skills on my....'Making the most of a sewing machine' (zips, buttonholes, binding & free motion embroidery) & 'Make your own stylish skirt from a shirt'  Wonderfully, I am now working with the talented David Mumford at Fabrications, a very creative and skilled fashion designer and maker. David began designing and making clothes in the early 80's. He has run his own labels 'Nocturn' and 'Combination' as well as many years in the commercial fashion industry. Most recently (2004 - 2013) he was one of the designers of the pioneering upcycling clothing brand 'Junky Styling'. This year he set up his own brand D.A.M specialising in upcycled pieces (and on sale in Fabrications shop!) David will be offering an Upcycling workshop in June on how to reinterpret a classic man's shirt into a unique garment. He will present a range of designs which workshop participants can choose from to create (suitable for men and women)  The designs will have no patterns and will be created using a step by step formula and assisted by David. Ranging from some items that have no cutting involved, through to basic cutting and machining. The techniques used will involve origami type folding, draping and the construction of different size square and rectangular pieces that fit together to become the fabric for the finished design.[...]

Yarn Shop Day

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:14:00 +0000

Fabrications is proud to be a part of the 'Love your yarn shop' campaign. Initiated by Let's Knit and their sister magazine 'Let's get Crafting' the aim of the National campaign is to raise the profile of  bricks and mortar yarn stores, encouraging Crafter's to support their local yarn store and celebrate the value we offer beyond just selling wool! including personalised advice, ideas, expert recommendations, classes, socials, SOS (save our stitches!) and much more!The campaign culminates with 'Yarn Shop Day' on Saturday 3rd May, when customers and local yarn stores all around the UK will join forces to spin a yarn and share their yarny love. Different shops will be hosting free workshops, promotions and inviting in knitting & crochet 'Ambassadors'.How will Fabrications be celebrating Yarn Shop Day?We will have an open house, offering free taster workshops in MACRO knitting, continental knitting and projects advice / SOS in our beautiful and welcoming Imaginerium craftspace. In conjunction with Stylecraft we are also offering Goody Bags - cotton bags containing yarns, haberdashery, knitting patterns to the first 40 Yarn Shop Day customers! Look out for our special window display too, which is going to spill out into the street!Which Ambassadors will be with us on the day?- Fabrications own Barley Massey will be sharing tips on MACRO knitting and making your own upcycled yarns- Jill Bulgan, a regular adviser at our fortnightly Craft Club and teaches the 'progressing your knitting skills' classes will be available to offer some help with your projects and knitting dilemmas.- Luise Roberts, author of numerous knitting and crochet books including 'First Knits' published by Collins & Brown (and on sale in our shop!) who informs me she loves to demo continental knitting as her party trick and is generously providing a free pattern of her Marilyn Monroe finger puppet for the goody bags!Do I need to book?Although it is free and drop in style, we'd be grateful if you could book in so we can accommodate you and ensure we have brewed enough tea and cake and prepared enough materials (for example you can make a MACRO knitted scarf) You can do this HERE![...]

Meet the Maker- it s Rosie Martin of DIY Couture!

Thu, 20 Mar 2014 14:30:00 +0000

I'm enjoying the opportunity to carry out mini interviews with the different makers I am fortunate to be able to work with at Fabrications. In this post I present the wonderful Rosie Martin.I first met Rosie approx 4 years ago, when she visited the shop to show me her self published 'DIY Couture' garment instruction books. I was really impressed with her well illustrated, clear cut, step by step guides to making your own stylish clothes, without the complications of highly technical patterns. Wow! Really empowering for new stitchers, I thought. I instantly wanted to stock the books and have Rosie teaching her approach at Fabrications.So subsequently, students have enjoyed learning how to make their own capes, trousers, scater skirts, waistcoats with Rosie s gentle guidance and this month she will be showing how to make a very simple gathered dress (suitable for beginners) or 'Grecian' dress for those of you that have seen Rosie's bumper DIY Couture book, published by Lawrence King (and on sale at Fabrications, of course!)Barley : What inspired you to first start creating your DIY Couture instruction garment making books?Rosie : I was a gung ho clothing maker as a teenager and experimented in making clothes without really using sewing patterns. I went through years of trial and error until I started to make clothing that looked socially acceptable – even pleasant – and when people started to comment positively on my clothing my reaction was to preach about the joys of sewing. I often found people were afraid of sewing, thinking it was out of their grasp, and I really wanted people to see that making clothes was in fact an accessible activity, not something you needed a degree to do. That’s how my picture based instructions were born.Barley : Do you have a favorite garment or item you enjoy making?Rosie : I love a good colourful bomber jacket and I do own a few too many homemade versions. I’ve designed a really simple jacket without set-in sleeves (instructions in my Laurence Kong book!) so it’s actually quite a fast project, meaning great satisfaction can be reached without too much toil!Barley : What is your best and worst fabric to stitch with and why?Rosie : I actually love sewing with sheer (transparent) fabrics as it presents challenges but is really satisfying. I hate sewing velvet. It has a mind of it’s own and mystical power over the sewing machine. I have recently got into applying interfacing and spray starch to fabric to change its essential properties. This means you can transform an unruly fabric into a fabric that does exactly what you tell it to. Ha! No fabric gets one over on me (apart from velvet!)Barley : A little birdy told me you've been working behind the seams of  the 'Great British Sewing Bee' TV programme...what did you get up to?Rosie : Ah yes, I have and it has been a lot of fun! I have the great pleasure of working with sewing guru Claire-Louise Hardy, the sewing producer of the ‘Bee. Amongst other things, I do the technical illustrations on the instructions the contestants follow when they are given the first challenge, so if they look confused you can probably blame me.Barley : What words of advice can you offer new stitchers, who want to make their own clothes but perhaps are not sure about how to go about it?Rosie : I’ve got a very hands-on approach so I would say pick something you really want to make and make it! There is an amazing world of sewing-support on the internet, so whenever you get stuck just Google your problem and someone out there will have already posted some advice about it on the internet!To book your place on Rosie's dress making class on Sunday 30th March, visit Fabrications workshop Calendar [...]

Meet the Maker: Gilda Baron

Tue, 04 Mar 2014 13:52:00 +0000

Over my 15 years of running Fabrications, I have promoted, sold work, collaborated with over 200 talented textile practitioners. In my shop I have explanation cards alongside makers work, giving insight into the maker, their ethos and processes. I thought it would be fun to extend this to my blog.  Image of Gilda courtesy of ColouriciuosI am delighted to present the talented Gilda Baron, who will teaching 2 textile workshops this month at Fabrications. In 'Don't Bin it, print with it!' Gilda will share fabric printing methods with a twist! In the afternoon you can stay on and learn different hand embroidery techniques and learn how to embellish your printed fabrics created in the morning or other fabrics! Textile piece by Gilda using printing (from rubbish!) and hand embroidery.Barley: Where do you draw inspiration for your work?Gilda: I try and have a sketch book at hand when on holiday, although it is sometimes not easy, as it maybe pouring with rain, freezing cold, or nowhere to stop and get my pencils out.I only carry a very small notebook mini coloured pencils and a black pen.  Barley: Your work is so multi layered, using a number of different textile processes in a piece, do you have a favourite technique?Gilda: I have developed a unique style of textile art, which bursts out of the frame with life and vitality.  The techniques I use to achieve this include fabric dyeing, batik, hand and machine embroidery, hand made felt and applied pieces. The many layers are what makes my textile art so distinctive and draws the viewer into the scenesI love all the techniques!  Barley: You have led a very accomplished and long textile career, can you share some highlights?Gilda: Life has been good and so many special things and people.I think the first of the many was convincing everyone that I wanted to go to Shoreditch Technical School, for the Garment Trades when I was only 12 years old and not stay at school and take O levels and do a Commercial course as nice girls did in my youth. At the other end of my life to be invited to teach at the V&A Museum last year   Gilda running her 'Don't bin it, print with it! workshop at The Attic, Lines of Pinner Barley: What can participants expect from your classes you will be offering at Fabrications?Gilda: Finding throw away items to print with, your rubbish will never look the same to you again. But most of all having fun, while learning.Another example of Gilda Baron's innovative printed 'Don't bin it' pieces!  Gilda Baron has a large exhibition of her work at this Spring's 'Knitting and Stitching Show' in Olympia, 13th - 16th March. Go and meet Gilda and her amazing textile works and then book onto her workshop at Fabrications for a unique learning experience with a special, internationally recognised textile artist. [...]

How thoughts create reality

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:53:00 +0000

Albert Einstein said "The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking"I decided to stitch Confucius' wise words "A journey of a 1,000 miles starts with a single step". I am using it as a meditative reminder to help me on my personal path of growth!This year I am thinking about my thinking and how my thoughts can impact on my actions or non actions! In January, Sarah Corbett, founder of Craftivist Collective hosted a thought provoking new year's resolution 'Craftivist footprint' workshop at Fabrications, which encouraged participants to think about their imprint on the world, what it means to be a global citizen and stitch an intention on a pre prepared foot or shoe print.Sarah provided all the participants with their own mini tool kit including a description of what a 'good global citizen is someone who'.......*Is aware of the wider world & has a sense of their own role as a world citizen* Respects and values diversity* Has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, environmentally* Is outraged by social injustice* Participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from local to global* Is willing to act to make the world a more sustainable place* Takes responsibility for their actions(Source: Oxfam 1997)As well as very interesting discussions on these points as a group, Sarah created a space of 'stitching in silence' so that individually we could really concentrate on our sewing, still our minds to really focus on our intention.Craftivist Foot print workshop - all full house with Italian TV crew as well! In February, I enrolled on a short course on the MIND at the New Acropolis. I feel I've discovered a bit of a secret gem (although the association has been residing in Islington for 15 years) New Acropolis is a philosophical association with a cultural and social vocation whose objective is to practise philosophy in the classical tradition, that is not merely intellectual and theoretical philosophy but philosophy for life, for a more humane and fulfilling existence.  The NA's belief is that the mind is an important key to building a sustainable future. Many of the problems we are facing today as humanity are caused by our own actions. Their school provides a space for awakening a spirit of universal brotherhood/sisterhood through an ethical and moral approach based on the idea that it is by improving ourselves that we can improve the world. "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world" (Buddha)Week 1 we looked at and discussed mindsets, assumptions, perception, mental filters  - VERY INTERESTING! Week 2 explored concentration and inner awakening. Taking away our conceptions (ideas in our mind) to meet what IS without our filters or judgements coming in. We focused specifically on an art work drawn by Lama Blo-Bzang Don-yod in the 17th Century. The purpose of the drawing is a tool to awaken the path of the soul and to overcome the obstacles and difficulties in conquering our mind through simple daily physical and mental exercises. The New Acropolis have produced a beautiful little book called 'Concentration & Inner Awakening' containing the illustration and how to understand the symbolic elements contained within it.This week is the final part of the course and will look at how to develop our minds creatively. Imagination and the ability to create what does not yet exist, to cultivate and further our minds."The real magic of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" Marcel Provost (1899)[...]

Out with the old in with the new

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 19:05:00 +0000

"Out with the old and in with the new" are very rare words at Fabrications! More likely is the practise of "In with the old to bring out the new". But at the end of last year I found myself upgrading the much loved shop Chesterfield sofa, aka Tommy the cat's throne or giant scratching post. Last act of resistance from Tommy the cat as the old sofa is collected and moved out of the shopThe sofa was originally rescued from a street corner in Deptford, South London about 10 years ago. At that stage I sensed it had already led a very full life, as it was missing it's seating cushions and had aged with laughter lines and marks around the edges. But I felt there was life in the old dog eared sofa yet. Saxoneers deliver the new Chesterfield sofaSo I recreated the seating cushions as best I could using what was to hand - some red vinyl offcuts and reclaimed foam, and the old Chesterfield sofa had a second youth. Being taken around various festivals and events (see forthcoming album!) And keeping many a partner comfortable while the other half browsed the shop and of course providing Tommy the cat a platform to meet and greet his adoring fans!Barley tries out the new sofaSo how is it that I managed to replace such a reliable, well loved friend? The new version was offered as a gift, which would have been rude to refuse! Handmade in Britain by Saxon, who have been hand crafting Chesterfield's for over 30 years. So I hope you will forgive me dear reader, but I can reassure you that my old sofa has found a new life in a basement cinema / speakeasy and goes on to live another day![...]

Knitting - a space for creation and destruction

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:00:00 +0000

This month Fabrications' blog has a special contribution from Jonathan Faiers, reader in fashion and textile theory at Winchester School of Art. Part of this text has been previously published in the essay by Jonathan ‘From Rei Kawakubo to Mark Fast: The Void in Knitting, Or How Formlessness Shaped Up’, in Unravel: Knitwear in Fashion, MOMU, Antwerp, 2011Jonathan has also published a few books and last month launched his latest book "Dressing Dangerously" - Dysfynctional Fashion in Film (published by Yale University Press ) at Hackney's 'Trampery'.'Dressing Dangerously' book cover Yale University PressSince 1982 when Rei Kawakubo instructed her knitting machine operators to loosen some of the screws on their machines so that random holes would be knitted into her sweaters, the distressed or 'unravelled' has taken centre stage on the knitting runway. The radical approach adopted by Kawakubo and her contemporaries was simultaneously indebted to punk’s rejection of conventional formulations of body aesthetics as well as a philosophical exploration of the potential of the void or the 'formless'. Holes in knitting imply chaos and order, destruction and creation, and Kawakubo’s apparent random deployment of them suggested the limitlessness of space. This text will utilise Georges Bataille’s investigation of the term informe (formless), to consider Kawakubo’s ‘lace’ sweater as an operationor process that encourages a dialogue regarding notions of craft (knitting and lace), the complete and the partial, and the dysfunctional as an alternative way of understanding clothing and its relationship to the body.Image sourced from KnitGrandeurIn the early 1980s the appearance on the European fashion stage of Rei Kawakubo’s work, including garments such as the ‘lace’ sweater, has been well documented. The confusion caused by her work as well as Yohji Yamamoto’s is succinctly expressed by Colin McDowell who notes that: “within one season, they gave French fashion an inferiority complex verging on a communal nervous breakdown; excited hopes and dreams in young British designers and students; panicked the Italians and totally bewildered the Americans.”[i] However, whilst the assessment of the so called Japanese revolution in fashion has naturally centred on the most spectacular/difficult/aesthetic/nihilistic collections (any number of adjectives have been deployed to describe their work according to the prevailing perspective of the commentator), it is perhaps a garment such as the ‘lace’ sweater which most effectively conveys Kawakubo’s approach to making clothes.Knitting at its most fundamental level is an operation that makes something from nothing. The act of enclosing spaces or more precisely setting up temporary enclosures is after all what the practice of knitting consists of. The exploration of tension, both literally as in the tension of the particular knitting stitch and emotionally when conscious of knitting’s potential to unravel, seems in Kawakubo’s ‘lace’ sweater to be its primary function. Furthermore it can be argued that the demonstration of this tension and other states (which will be discussed shortly), takes precedence over its function as a garment. As a dysfunctionalgarment, however, the ‘lace’ sweater presents a number of opportunities to explore how knitting relates to other crafts, how it oscillates between fashion and non-fashion and how it intersects with the body.                             [...]

The Upcycling Academy at this year's Knitting and Stitching show

Mon, 18 Nov 2013 08:44:00 +0000

  Last month, I took my 'Upcycling Academy' experience to the Knitting and Stitching show. Now in it's third year the aim of the Upcycling Academy is to raise awareness and 'create change' to the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry through creative and thought provoking activities which can be delivered at large events or in smaller gatherings. Recently 6th form students at Woodford High school, engaged with the Upcycling Academy team on their induction day.   As well as adding value through creativity and design, the Upcycling Academy promotes the value of working collaboratively and collectively. I approached Traid, War on Want and The Craftivist Collective to bring their perspective to the experience and give participants a well rounded picture.    Here is our 'productive line' of workshops. The spirit of The Upcycling Academy was well captured in pictures this year by Rosie Allt, who kindly offered us her photography skills. Brother sewing UK supported the 'chop & change' upcycling of clothes area with their easy to use NV10a sewing machines, which worked like a dream in this busy area.  This was a quiet moment!! A hive of activity and discussions.  Fabrications recycled rosettes were popular again! Traid's 'Sew Good' workshops appealed to all ages  Here is the lovely Sarah Corbett, founder of the 'Craftivist Collective' who joined The Upcycling Academy team for the first time this year. She created a hand stitched petition in conjunction with War on Want's 'Love Fashion Hate sweatshops' campaign. Participants were invited to add their hand stitched signature to the petition. Extra fabric was needed by day 2 as the embroidered signatures over spilled the petition. Here I am (Barley Massey) showing people a variety of upcycled textile techniques, including 'MACRO' knitting & french knitting and peg loom weaving,  A beautiful atmosphere was created, with all kinds of people coming together to try new skills, share ideas, experiences and talk about the issues the Upcycling Academy provokes. [...]

Some thoughts on Collectivism

Mon, 07 Oct 2013 20:16:00 +0000

These thoughts have been whirling around my mind for some time now, perhaps even most of my life, having been brought up in rural North Wales in the 70's where a sense of community and working together is embedded into the welsh culture.Somewhere along the line, there has been a prevailing attitude of  "look out out for No 1" and not to worry about or look too deeply at the consequences of our actions on others. (positive and negative)Recently at the Holloway Arts Festival, Rowan Arts screened Ken Loach's film "The spirit of 45" which I went along to watch. It is a powerful and rather upsetting (I cried at the end!) documentary style portrayal of the re building of Britain following the second war including the creation of social welfare, the NHS, the railways, manufacturing and employment and then the slow disassembling, erosion and privatisation under the election of Margaret Thatcher in the 80's. Ken Loach juxtaposes archive footage of soldiers and working class people declaring "We came together to fight the war, we can now come together to work for good" versus Harry Enfield's "Loadsa Money!" character.                              When I set up the 'Upcycling Academy' 3 years ago with the aim of raising awareness of the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, I also wanted the Upcycling Academy to promote and demonstrate the power of collaboration. To bring together different independent organisations working together to deliver a message / activities, actions in a fun, creative and informed way. So I approached Traid, who approached War on Want.The first Upcycling Academy took place at the Knitting & Stitching shows. It was interesting to observe the overwhelming feedback we received from an older generation on how good it was to see different organisations working together in this way and how unusual it was! Has the spirit of 45 really been lost?As Nadia Idle, outreach officer at War on Want succinctly put it in her recent post on the Craftivist Collective's blog " The value of the collective, of coming together to act. Let us reject greed and profit as a motivation and rejoice in activities that bring us together to make things better for ourselves and others"The Upcycling Academy will be taking place once again at this year's Knitting & Stitching show at Alexander Palace. Thursday 10th - Sunday 13th October. This year the Craftivist Collective are joining forces too.Why don't you come along too??[...]

Water - Colour

Wed, 18 Sep 2013 14:20:00 +0000

It's London Design Festival time again! Last night I attended the opening of Katherine May's 'Water-Colour' installation at the new Precinct space at the 'Arthouse' on Richmond Road in Hackney and what a special experience it was. I'm looking forward to seeing how the installation evolves over the next few weeks and beyond....The installation brings together Katherine's sustainable textile practise which focuses on cloth and community , her recent MA research and cleverly references Arthouse's past life as a laundry.Up above in the tall atrium, dyed silk cloths gently whisp about from a series of washing lines, while below a series vats of blue liquid covered in bubbles await the next submerge of white cloth.Here is Katherine and blue was definitely the colour of the evening! The vats contain the natural dye 'Indigo' produced by the plants leaves. The process is truly magical as the cloth goes through a range of shades during the dying process from green to deep blue as the dyed cloth oxidises with the air at the drying stage.Over the course of the installation time frame, cloth will be dyed daily until the dye vats are exhausted. The washing lines will fill up with cloth journeying through slow graduations from dark to light blue. The Dye vats will then get replaced by a sewing work space and the making of the cloth into quilts.The Water-Colour installation has been designed to raise awareness of water consumption in the production and use of textiles and aims to reconnect us physically to water through a direct experience of handling water in a dye vat. As the space filled up with visitors, it was certainly mesmerising watching the dyeing process, which was attracting quite a crowd! Over the next 2 weeks there is also an exciting programme of talks, workshops and events taking place within the installation. I've got my eye on the following:Emma Rigby's  (co founder of the Dalston ethical fashion store 'Here Today, Here Tomorrow) 'Garment Polling Station'.Emma Neuberg's (Slow Textiles Group) workshop on Sashiko, a decorative reinforcement stitching from Japan. Katherine May's patchwork and mending workshop inspired by the Japanese technique Boro.To find out more and book visit Precint's Eventbrite page.[...]

Tips on Zips

Mon, 29 Jul 2013 08:37:00 +0000

Dear Jan (and other workshop participants and readers)
Here is one of the videos I mentioned in my 'Making the most of your sewing machine' class. It is part of a series of handy 'how to' sewing videos by Tessa Evelegh, author of the book 'The Great British sewing Bee' to accompany the recent brilliant series by the same name.
The video features  Brother's sewing machines (the NV10a takes a staring role in the videos!) Fabrications is proud to be a Brother dealer, if you're thinking of buying a sewing machine and would like to try out their machines.

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I hope you find it a helpful reminder. However, the best way to get to grips with zips is to just do it! (and keep on doing it!) My next 'Making the most of your sewing machine' class is next Sunday 11th August, 11am - 1.30pm. This class builds confidence in using the different feet provided with your machine such as zipper, buttonhole and the variety of ways that you can insert zips, create different styles of buttonholes and add bindings. All these skills are then put into practise in my afternoon class 'Creative Making on the machine', where you can make a simple yet stylish gathered skirt or pair of shorts. There is an upcycling option using men's shirts or you can use your own choice of fabric. Hope you can make it! (more dates coming up if this doesn't suit!)

Refresh your Wardrobe

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 21:51:00 +0000

Spring is in the air (well we had a couple of sunny days this week which gave me a lift!) It's a perfect time of year to go through your wardrobe and drawers and pull out those clothes you haven't been wearing. There are a multitude of reasons why items remain in the back of the cupboard or at the bottom of heap. In my experience here are as few: I was attracted to the fabric but in reality the shape of the garment doesn't suit my body, a zip needs replacing, a friend has given me some hand-me-ups which are too big for me. I could go on with other reasons but I'd like to give you the space to reflect on your own neglected items!I have become addicted to repairing and revamping my wardrobe! It's a really fun and resourceful way of feeling like you've got new clothes without spending loads of money. Here is a dress I picked up in one of Traid's brilliant £2 sales (these take place a few times a year) As you can see it's a nice pink gingham shirt dress but it's a bit of a boring, frumpy shape.  This is one of the techniques I share in my 'Introduction to garment alterations' and 'Refresh your Wardrobe' classes. How to adjust an over sized top or dress through the use of elasticated channels.  Decide where you'd like to adjust the garment. This shirt dress had a buttoned opening so it was easy to access the inside without having to unpick a side seam. Pin on a cotton tape, wide enough to accommodate elastic ( I used 1" wide ) Machine stitch on each outer edge, creating a channel. thread elastic through the channel, leave on the roll or as a length until you have pulled and gather to the desired reduction. Stitch the beginning and end of the elastic down inside the channel.  And there you go! A more flattering, fitted item! Adding multiple elasticated channels will give a ruched effect. Make sure you measure the space between each channel, so it looks nice and even. A subtle, easy way of reducing volume!  [...]

Brother & Sister time

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 10:00:00 +0000

It is now 1 year (doesn't time fly when you're having fun?) that I have been working with Brother. I approached Brother to support my new 'Imaginerium' craft space with sewing machines. I wanted to build on my existing workshop programme and be able to offer sewing machine based classes. I've used and enjoyed using Brother's industrial machines most of my making career and being aware of Brother's environmental and ethical policies, for me they were the sewing machine manufactuer of choice!Earlier this year I took a trip to Manchester to visit Brother sewing UK's head office. My sister also lives in Manchester, so it was a perfect combined visit!As well as setting me up with a classroom of machines, Brother has made me an 'Authorised Dealer' of their domestic sewing, overlock, embroirdery and quilting machines. If people are considering buying a sewing machine, I now offer that service, along with the aftercare and support that an independant shop like mine can offer. (another reason to buy local!) I'm discovering that Brother's marketing strap line "At your side" certinly holds true. Brother lays on regular training sessions and 'dealer days'. Here I am with Gill Rogers, a very talented needlewoman and so knoweledgable about the workings, features and benefits of the range of Brother machines. I found the training incredibly useful. Although I am an experienced stitcher, understanding the capabilities of some of Brother's computerised machines (especially from the NV955 model upwards) has been a learning curve, but a fun, inspring one! Some of you may have been along to one of the Fabrications & Brother FREE sewing days. The idea of the day is to offer an opportunity to test drive the sewing machines, create something while you try, meet Rachel Espin from Brother, who joins me on the day "At my side" offering support and advise. The days have been proving really popular, over the year we have welcomed 100's of new and experienced stitchers alike! The next open day is on Thursday 4th April, 12.30 - 8pm. TO BOOK your FREE 1HR SLOT. Hope you can make it![...]

Fixing the Future

Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:45:00 +0000

I'm enjoying the start of 2013, moving in the slow lane for a change, which is giving me much needed time for reflection, making improvements and fixing things!
I discovered an interesting invention after reading a great blog post by Rosie Martin of DIY couture. The post was all about useful DIY Christmas gift ideas for people who like to make things (and a relevant guide for all year around!) 

 'Sugru' designed and manufactured on my doorstep in Hackney! Presented a bit like puncture repair kits, this curious colourful rubbery putty is rolled, squeezed and prepared in the hand, before moulding it on to a broken area on an object (or as an add on such as a personalised hand grip) You need to work quite quickly as the putty transforms and becomes solid when it is released from it's foil packs and comes into contact with the air and then you leave it to cure for 24 hours. I love their strap line "The future needs fixing" !

This is how I've been using 'Sugru'. I bought these second hand chairs for my Imaginerium craft space. I realised after a year of heavy usage the concrete floor (which is painted) was taking a battering as the bottom of some of the chair legs were missing their rubber end caps. Having found it difficult to source new rubber end caps, I decided to experiment with 'Sugru', which amazingly can grip onto a range of materials - metal, plastic etc.
I'm quite taken with the Mondrian colour effect too!

What do you think? Good product to stock in the shop?

New Year's Revolutions!

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:23:00 +0000

Revolution = A dramatic and wide reaching change in conditions, attitudes or operation (Oxford Dictionary)It’s the start of a new year again, many of us will have made resolutions, usually to give something up like smoking! Or to loose something like some weight! Or to do more of something like spending quality time with family and friends. How about directing that positive energy into making the world a better and fairer place for everyone?  Quite a tall order you may think - where would you begin?“If you think you are too small to make a difference try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito” - African ProverbAs a designer maker I have held the belief that craft and design has an amazing potential in creating social and environmental change. It was a real inspiration to meet the like minded Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective 3 years ago and I have subsequently been participating in and supporting a number of the Craftivist Collective’s projects in exposing and tackling injustice and poverty through provocative, non-violent action.As your 2013 resolution, I would love all you fellow crafters to get involved in the Craftivist Collective’s current project #iamapiece in conjunction with Save the Children’s ‘Race against hunger campaign’. Sarah Corbett says: "Life is like a puzzle, it all seems a mess but when it gets finished it looks brilliant. There are some amazing small-scale successful projects happening all over the world that are tackling hunger and showing that the world doesn’t have to have malnourished children whose potential is stunted. There is no one solution to the problem of injustice but we can all play a part in a movement for change. The G8 coming back to the UK is too big an opportunity to miss so why not have your New Year’s Resolution to be part of eradicating hunger through your love of craft? That would be a pretty cool resolution right?!” How can you get involved? You can stitch messages onto material jigsaw pieces which will be put together to make a HUGE creative, crafty installation alternative to a petition that Save the Children will show off to our Government, the public and World Leaders showing that hundreds, even thousands of us, want, with world leaders, to be a part of the solution to hunger, not the problem. You can also give a jigsaw piece to your local MP to remind them to be a part of the solution too or at least tell them about the piece you made for the installation. If you have never approached your local MP in this way before Fran Swaine has written a really good post on her Skulls and Ponies blog about how easy and useful it was to approach her local MP Caroline Lucas. You can also host your own ‘stitch-in’ event and get others inspired and involved in the project , sign the Save the Children petition here, and spread the word online through Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc using the hashtag #imapiece. The deadline to receive the jigsaw pieces is 28 February, so let's get stitching!As with all their projects, the Craftivist Collective have created really excellent tools to help and support you to get involved! Download the jigsaw piece pattern and instructions here, see some of the stitched jigsaw pieces created by fellow crafters here and a collection of Vlogs, posts and online streaming about #imapiece here“What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is i[...]