Saturday, 1 April 2017

embroidery revival!

I seem to have re-awoken my embroidery mojo! Since our slow stitching workshop I seem to have had a needle permanently in my hand, feeling very creative and enjoying the relaxing qualities of hand stitching. Last weeks applique and embroidery workshop has buoyed me up even more, so feeling full of positivity, I finally made a start on my first crafty swap in a very very long time!
I had been tempted by Ali of very berry handmade 's Mini hoop swap and signed up to join in. . .

inspired by Heather's use of recycled denim in last weeks workshop and having found it a lovely background to work on, I chopped into and old skirt and got stitching. . .

I got a bit carried away! I found it very hard to know where to stop and every time I decided to even up my stitching the background got smaller and smaller until eventually . . .

. . . there was no background only stitching! 
I hope my swap partner will like it, I loved doing this and I've decided I'm going to offer a version of this design as a class in the workshop

here is my attempt at being more minimal with the design, it is a very small area so it is hard not to get carried away, maybe I will make a larger piece for a class.

I actually really love this but as you can see minimal is not really for me but I love the busyness of this design.
So watch this space for a new workshop over at

Monday, 27 March 2017

Embroidery workshop with Heather Everitt

This Saturday was the long awaited workshop with Heather Everitt, this workshop sold out within 48 hours of it's release on the Facebook page! Sometimes I really wish my workshop was a tiny bit bigger {who am I kidding I'd like it twice the size} so that I could accommodate everyone who wanted to come to my classes but never fear Heather has agreed to come along very soon to teach another lesson.

It was a lovely relaxed lesson, with a really lovely group of ladies who had all come along to different classes before including our youngest student who was only twelve years young, she was an absolute star and actually finished first and what an amazing job she did too. 
Here is her lovely Blue Tit embroidery below,

At the workshop we learned how to use Bondaweb to apply silk fabrics to the denim base and then we embroidered on top of the applique, such an effective technique. 

Here are most of the blue tits at the end of the session, one had to fly the nest early, aren't they just so lovely?

Here are a few photo's of my Blue Tit in progress, 

Here he is at the end of my session, what with tea making and cake serving duties, serving customers and a visit from my friend Barb who brought some samples in for a brand new workshop coming soon the poor little chap is barely feathered!!!

that's better he's even gained some legs!

and finally finished!
 I'm so pleased with how he has turned out and I'm really looking forward to our next workshop with Heather.

Check out Heather's beautiful work on her Facebook page

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Slow Stitching Workshop

So the day of our first slow stitching workshop finally arrived, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I plan and arrange workshops several months in advance so there have been weeks of anticipation for this class. I prepped the goody bags nearly two months ago and they've been in the workshop waiting area that whole time all sewn up so I couldn't faff about changing my mind about the contents!

Last year a lovely and very talented friend came and taught some dressmaking lessons in the shop. Anna previously worked in costume design in television and film, she now designs and makes beautiful wedding dresses from home. I asked if she would be interested in teaching some hand sewing classes, partly due to studio buddy Tracey wanting to try her hand at quilting and me wanting to get back into embroidery, happily she said yes, so we have devised a series of hand stitching classes, slow stitching, English paper piecing and we will also be doing a make do and mend class. 
I worried Slow Stitching would be a hard class to sell, because there was no definite end product, no hard and fast rules and no real structure, but I was silly to worry the class sold out and if I had the room I could sold more places!

 With the workshop prepped and ready for action, the lucky dip bags lined up and ready for distribution, I got the kettle on and waited for the lovely ladies to arrive. Once everyone was settled in with a cuppa in hand, we chatted about the principles of slow stitching and Anna showed us some of her beautiful antique embroidered textiles and some lovely ethnic hand stitched pieces to inspire us. Then we all chose a goody bag, ripped 'em open and got stuck in!

 In each bag there was a selection of vintage textiles, including blanket pieces, napkins, hankies,doilies, pieces of antimacassar and embroidered tablecloth, mother of pearl buttons, cotton trim, embroidery transfers and needles and pins.

 After a little experimenting with layouts and some snipping and transfer ironing we got stuck in to some stitching,lots of chatting and more tea drinking and of course cake eating. Anna gave us gentle guidance and encouragement and some embroidery stitch tuition through the session.

The end result was lots of lovely slow stitchery, several wall hangings, a textile postcard and some really sweet little blankety animal brooches. Most people still had a fair amount left in their goody bags to use for future projects. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's progress in their projects but of course no pressure to finish that is the point after all, keeping it slow!

This was how my project looked at the end of the session, I am obviously a super slow stitcher as I had hardly barely got anywhere before the three hours was up, I'm going to blame the tea making/cake serving duties, it couldn't possibly been too much chatter 😁

Here it is after a little more quiet stitching in the workshop on Saturday

I really enjoyed this workshop it was a lovely gathering of ladies and a really relaxing class. It was also really nice to continue the project the next day, i think i will be picking up this project and adding to it for weeks to come.
I hope you enjoyed reading all about the Slow Stitching Workshop, there are a few goody bags available to buy so you can have a go at slow stitching at home, get in touch with my facebook page The MaGpiE's Nest for details.If you are local we also have a monthly slow stitching club starting in April.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Little beds and red squirrels

I have been having a lot of fun in the workshop lately making little beds, there is something very satisfying for me, making things with no real function, and these definitely fit that category! After a lot of trial and error and fiddling about I came up with this little willow twig bed, I made a little quilt for it {used as a mattress} and it has a handkerchief sheet, a wooly blanket made from a lambswool tartan scarf and a doily bedspread, I have made some other layers of bedding too not pictured, there is a crochet granny square blanket from my massive stash of unfinished crochet projects and a blanket made of . . . well a blanket!

 I was inspired by the Princess & the pea story from the Ladybird book of my childhood, my goodness I loved that series of books and would spend hours reading them and looking at the pictures, I still  have many of my original ones, a treasured collection indeed.

The next bed I made was a lot smaller and even cuter with even less functionality, it is too small to even fit my smallest of dolls! I love it though, so sweet, it even has a tiny ladder so whoever sleeps there can scale it's heights. I have supplies to make some little mattresses for the bigger bed, some wool and vintage French ticking arrived in the post last week, no time to make them yet though due to meetings about workshops and big plans for the very near future, more about that next time.

On Saturday in the workshop, I had a lovely group of ladies learning to make red squirrels, well just their heads as it was a three hour session! Look how cute they are and all so different, proper little characters aren't they! My studio mate Tracey {Benton's Menagerie} is our needlefelting teacher and the classes are always so much fun with lots of laughs, a little naughtiness and many demands for tea!

Some were made into wall hangings and one was made into a brooch.

This little chap missed the group photo as he had to rush off and finds his acorn stash before the other squirrels got loose :) 

Here is my squirrel, amazingly I finished him which I don't normally get to do in lessons due to hosting and tea making duties, although in writing that and looking at the photo, I realized I have forgotten his whiskers, poor thing! 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Whimsical Witchery

  Never being one to stick to one "craft" at a time, in recent months I have being making a selection of products which  I have chosen to call "Whimsical Witchery"*

I started off by making little charm bottles containing crystals and herbs that I gathered together - the jars are for lots of different things - luck, love or protection for example. These little charms can be worn as a necklace, kept under your pillow, carried in a pocket and of course opened up and the contents held in your hand. I have always loved crystals and also tiny bottles and jars so making these little charms was a lot of fun for me.

Having had so much fun making the charm jars and doing a lot of research into the crystals and herbs I became very interested in Wiccan practices and read about modern witchcraft, of course when we think about witchcraft we think of ugly old crones in pointy black hats but in truth Wicca is about living in peace and harmony with the natural world drawing good things from the Earth and all it's wonders, it is not about casting hexes and making mischief but about healing and helping yourself and others. 
     I made some little tins full of whimsical witchery, they contain a number of ingredients relating to a subject, this little tin is all about LOVE, there are crystals for love and herbs for love, there is also jar of salt which is widely used in witchcraft to cleanse an area before you cast spells amongst other things, also there are candles to burn whilst focusing on the love you are looking for be that self love, to attract love to you or perhaps to maintain and encourage the love of your partner. Also included are some little bags to use in making charms, you can carry charms in your pocket or place them under your pillow.

The next tin was made with protection in mind, there are many ways in which we may feel we need protecting, sometimes from other people and sometimes from ourselves. 

This tin contains a jar of crystals for protection, a jar of herbs that offer protection and a jar of salt, there is also a charcoal disc to burn the herbs as incense, little bags for making charms or mojo bags and red candle to perform a protection spell. I have really enjoyed learning about the plants and herbs and crystals and all their uses and qualities, it has been really fascinating and I look at the world in a different way now and take time to open my eyes and see the beauty of the world around me.


My best sellers in this range are my willow pentagrams, I make these five point stars and decorate each crossing point with crystals and botanicals that offer protection, these are pretty stars to hang in the house and also have a sprinkle of glitter just for fun.

My daughter sells my range of "Whimsical Witchery" in her beautiful shop Earth & Heaven in Bideford, North Devon.

Interestingly one of my home towns many claims to fame is that the last witches to be executed in England were townswomen of Bideford, Temperance Lloyd, Susanna Edwards and Mary Trembles were hanged on August, 25th in 1682.

*they are purely whimsical I do not claim to be a witch {whatever other people say about me} nor do I claim them to be effectual. The contents of my products are not to be consumed or smoked.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

New Line - Textile Bundles

I have been busy chop, chop, chopping various fabrics in the shop for the last couple of weeks, so much so that I think I have got RSI from the rotary cutter! The massive textile stash is reducing though and that is a good thing, I have been feeling really weighed down by my possessions lately, like i'm drowning in my accumulated collections, so I have decided to take positive action, really I am never going to use all this stuff so it's time to share with my customers :)

I started off with these mini blanket bundles, they contain six 6" squares of vintage wool blanket in beautiful soft colours, quite a few of these bundles went out in last weeks post and safely arrived at their new homes to join other peoples stashes :)

I can send quite a few of these mini bundles in a small parcel for just £3.25 in the 2nd class post, or one un-bundled will go as a large letter for £1.25. 

I have also made some midi blanket bundles these consist of five 12" pieces of vintage wool blanket.

I must say I have loved making up these bundles and they look so pretty, my blanket stash is really dwindling now and vintage wool blankets get harder and harder to find and more and more expensive to buy these days, so i'm not sure how long I will be able to offer these bundles so get 'em while they're hot! Here's the link to my Etsy shop  VINTAGEhaberdashery

I have cut lots of other fabric bundles this week

these velvet mini bundles consist of six 6" squares of beautifully soft cotton velvet, in gorgeous shades of orange, green and red {pink and blue are next for the chop!}

these tweedy bundles contain six 8" squares of wool/wool mix tweedy fabrics, mostly these are wool but a few may be mixes and i'm not sure on the pink/black tweed.

the wooly bundle contains six 6" squares of wooly fabrics, there are squares of light wool suiting, soft wool scarves and a wool jumper too.

I loved putting this bundle together, it contains seven differing textures in a white/cream colourway, there is a 12" square of dress net, 3 x 12" strips of lace and trim, a 6" blanket square and a 6" square of linen with a embroidery transfer applied and a square hand worked doiley* these may vary from pack to pack, this is a great pack for slow stitching projects which smoothly leads me to the next photo . . .

Our new social stitching club starts in April, this will be a monthly club, just bring along your own slow stitching project, drink tea, eat cake and chat with friends. I will be showing a new technique each month and providing materials to have a go yourself, spaces are limited so if you fancy coming along get in touch here

Thank-you for reading - hope you enjoyed seeing my new products  :)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Magpie's Nest Workshops continued . . . & . . . Benton's Menagerie

Carrying on from my previous post . . . . 

After the success of the crochet lessons, I put a call out for craft teachers, looking for people who would be interested in teaching classes in my workshop and luckily for me a very lovely lady called Tracey Benton got in touch - Tracey is a needlefelting wizard and makes the most gorgeous little creatures, have a look at her Facebook page

 here she is at the head of the table.

This was the first needlefelting lesson that Tracey taught at the shop, it sold out very quickly and we welcomed six lovely ladies {some of whom had come to the crochet lessons} to make a sweet little bird, the one below was made by Sarah, pretty gorgeous eh?

Many more needlefelting workshops have followed,
 all taught by the lovely Tracey,

foxes and more!

Tracey has also taught a couple of full day workshops, which have introduced more advanced techniques and armatures, we have had sheep and moon gazing hares. 

Here is one of Tracey's little creatures, a delightfully plump robin gazing out of the workshop window.

  The first class Tracey taught was in March 2016 and not long after she took a unit in the Market Hall but after finding that it didn't quite suit her needs, I offered for her to come and share my unit. For someone who doesn't normally play nicely with others I think this has worked out very well for us with her having her own little workshop upstairs and use of my workshop downstairs when i'm not there. 
   Tracey has been a very good influence on me, she is a proper business lady and has a mind bursting with plans and schemes, it is quite infectious and I have been very busy scheming alongside her with new business ventures and plans for the business. She also has a very naughty sense of humour which makes her classes great fun and sharing my workshop full of fun and laughs. I'm looking forward to lots more classes with Tracey this year, more needlefelting of course but also some brand new crafts to The Magpie's Nest including wet felting and beginners knitting.