William Morris

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William Morris Strawberry thief

William Morris Strawberry thief

Wow today is the birthday of William Morris. I love his designs though they are quite fussy they appeal to me and I know they have inspired some of my favourite textile designers today.

William Morris dedicated his life to creating beautiful and useful designs for textiles which proved that you could mass produce beauty.

He was driven to rise up against the ugliness and injustice of capitalist society. Definitely a Marxist but with a passion for beauty. Capitalism is the word he used, as opposed to “industrial society” or “the modern world”, after he read and embraced the writings of Karl Marx and became a Marxist in the 1880s. Much earlier though, what turned him into a rebel against Victorian Britain was the sheer ugliness and tackiness of the middle class luxuries that filled the Great Exhibition in 1851.

This colossal event, staged in the specially built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, was full of new-gothic, neo-Renaissance, neo-everything nightmares of bad design and ponderous art. Morris as a young man was horrified at the ugliness he saw & wanted to create beauty. I get that I totally do.

His strawberry thieving bird is just beautiful. He also created a tapestry design that I love William-Morris-Rabbitwith forest animals on & these fab animals are just so beautiful. I love the rabbits so much.

As a lover of beautiful fabric designs I applaud this visionary of the industrial age who helped created a textile design industry that let’s face it I spend much of my spare time immersed in. Thank you William Morris.


2015 Sewing Summary

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Wedding dress Memory Bear

Wedding dress Memory Bear

Attention to detail - buttons on a TOTZ Togz dress

Attention to detail – buttons on a TOTZ Togz dress

Phewwww  where do I start ? Well there was a Wedding Dress Memory Bear that was the last Bear of 2014 and first to be posted in 2015. From there on it was a lovely blur of sewing. There were dresses and tops and costumes and Bears galore.

I am incredibly fussy when it comes to attention to detail so at every step I have to have matching buttons and threads. I love ensuring that I take my time to make every project as perfect as possible & the research I do into my sewing is just part of that. I also love upcycling or recycling so I often hunt back through my Nana’s button tin for treasures like the 3 little heart buttons I used on this pink pinafore.

A dinosaur wedding garter

A dinosaur wedding garter

One of my Memory Bear customers asked me to make a bespoke wedding garter. I do love fun unusual projects. It was made from blue fabric with dinosaurs all over it. The bride is clearly a fan of dinosaurs. I was happy to help out and I am told she loved it.

In total I have no idea how many bears I actually made in 2015 but it was quite a few. Some were for customers others for friends and family. They all go on my little list and I make each one with as much loving care and attention as possible. Oh and matching threads of course.

Giraffe

Giraffe

I do also give myself some personal sewing time to just sew clothing or fun things. One of my fun projects in 2015 was this cute giraffe. It was made for a school prize and was modelled from a picture drawn by one of the school children. There was a competition for school mascot and the giraffe picture won so he was made into a special toy as a school mascot. I loved how he turned out and I do hope I get to make another giraffe to keep at home one day.


2015 Summary

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Littlest TOTZ - A happy soul

Littlest TOTZ

Zachary O'Donnell - An amazing brain. Different is Brilliant

Zachary – An amazing brain. Different is Brilliant

Well 2016 is running away with me and I am realising that life has been so busy I have not posted a Blog article for simply ages. How does time fly that fast. Well my eldest is entering his last two years at Primary and now we have his official ASD diagnosis I am officially an Autism Mum and ASD Advocate. That feels good. It feels good to be able to be bold & celebrate that being different is brilliant. The smallest TOTZ family member has just had her 4th birthday and I realised reading about Olivia Grace & her cat Thula this week that my son’s cat is his sister. She is the one who has helped him do things he might not otherwise choose to do. She is his comfort and strength and support at all sorts of interesting times.

So where did 2015 go. Well there were days out and a couple of holidays and a family wedding plus tons and tons of sewing. We visited Castles, Stately Homes, walked hills and mountains, discovered Geocaches galore, went on trains and aeroplanes and finally even visited Mickey Mouse. Phewwwwww…. I shall do a roll call of sewing projects but suffice to say that inbetween all that school, preschool, mummy stuff we discovered how precious life is and we lived it as well as possible. I discovered how fragile your health can be and that mummy really really sometimes has to put her own health & wellbeing on the list of important things too. That hasn’t been easy these last few years and that’s fine. I discovered a less selfish me when I had children and I think I became a better person because of that. But maybe sometimes a little bit of selfish time is needed too & you shouldn’t feel guilty for that. I realised I don’t always have to be rushing about in fact sometimes just doing nothing is not a bad thing at all.


Pinkness

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A pink tulle party dress plus general thoughts on pink.

2015 TOTZ3-001February 2016 seemed to have an awful lot of pink in it. Now everyone who knows me knows that I pretty much don’t do pink. It isn’t that I hate it I just prefer blue. I don’t suit pink as a colour to wear and really don’t much like pink clothes in general not just on me but also on other people. My daughter however seems to have been born with an innate love of pink. She is uber girly. When I tell people this their reaction is “oh all little girls love pink” then they look at me strangely when my reply is “well I didn’t !”. My mum is the same, neither of us like pink and my Mum tells me if she had offered to paint my bedroom pink when I was a kid I would have hated it. So suffice to say the love of pink is not actively encouraged in my house. My daughter knows I don’t like it as a colour but is fairly clear on the fact that she does. I am grown up enough to accept that people are different and like different things and although our children do tend to be influenced by us sometimes they also make choices for themselves. This is her choice.

IMG_20160123_171242So here’s the thing. As a Mum it is my job to let my children grow into their own personalities, learn to express their own likes and dislikes and as battles go the battle over her love of pink is one that I am not sure is worth winning. I don’t encourage it but I have allowed my daughter to express her love of this colour which means yes although I wouldn’t choose pink myself and yes when she was born I was quite vocal about the fact that i wouldn’t be encouraging any pink in her life she went and confounded me by making her own mind up. Imagine that ! So I confess under a certain amount of pressure I have bought pink fabric and made pink dresses and tops and recently we even painted one of her bedroom walls pink.

In embracing this part of my daughters personality I even begrudgingly realised that her choices were not always bad. I absolutely fell in love for example with the Michael Miller Whisper Woods range of fabrics which included the adorable pink border print with children catching fireflies that I turned into a lovely pink day dress. I now seem to have a growing collection of pink fabrics in my hoarde and have noticed an awful lot of pink sewing passing through my machine.

Instagram collage of pinkness

Instagram collage of pinkness

I made a baby pink satin & tulle part dress for a friends daughter and must confess that it was lush. It dominated my instagram account for a while which turned a delightful shade of baby pink which I didn’t hate as much as I thought I would. I matched baby pink thread and even found that the memory bear I made that week was also a baby pink bear.

Picking the perfect shade of pink paint.

Picking the perfect shade of pink paint.

Ok I confess it I absolutely love this dress. I love the little tilted sleeves that it has and the gorgeous full skirt. The pink sequin hologram tulle was really pretty. We did a bit of a photo shoot at the local library (the dress was made age 4 so just fitted my daughter so she could model it) & the dress looked gorgeous on. I even promised her that I would make her a pink satin party dress later this year as she was quite sad when I parcelled this one up to send it to my friend.

2016-03-15_11-31-27I must admit I enjoyed picking the perfect shade of pink paint at B&Q for the bedroom painting. We took Minnie Mouse with us and guess what they actually had the absolutely perfect match ! I loved that my daughter was so excited to be decorating her bedroom just the way she wanted & let’s be clear here – it is her bedroom !! Not mine !! If she absolutely want’s it pink then it is her choice and me letting her have that choice is actually very important. Finally I must admit that when it was finished it was actually really sort of nice. It is bright and fresh and my daughter is made up. I love my daughter very very very much so if that means loving pink just a tiny bit and living with it a bit too I can do that.

Yes I admit it my daughter actually looks cute in pink. Not too much pink mind you but just an accent of pink it turns out is quite nice. It is actually a cheerful and pretty colour in nature so I am not surprised she loves it. What’s more she has reminded me not to be so closed minded which is a very good thing.

 


The Great British Sewing Bee Season 3 Episode 2

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Hurrrahhhh it was kids week !!! Right up my street since most of what I sew is aimed at kids. Some terrific patterns & awesome fabrics again.

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I actually own that waistcoat pattern and used it to make the waistcoat I knocked up last year for my son to wear to a Tudor dress up day at school. It’s Simplicity pattern 1745.  I didn’t add the welt pockets and plan to have another go at it so I can do the pockets.

make-me1There are some free pattern’s out there. I had this one pinned to my sewing kids clothes pinterest board 🙂 It’s from Barmy Beetroot. 

 

We loved all the upcycling project’s though no one did what I would have done which is probably just as well ssshhhh will keep mum on that one as might use it myself.

Oh the animals & things were fab. Sorry to see someone else have to leave but I did guess who it would be. The elephant was a worthy winner 🙂


Free Knitted Poppy Pattern

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I found this and thought I would type it up and offer it as a free download to print off.

PoppyI can’t knit which is a shame when I see things like this as it’s really lovely. I believe we should honor and respect those that have fallen during war time or fighting for peace and so I believe this is important. I believe in Peace. I believe in world Peace and I long for the day when war is a forgotten memory in man’s tragic past. Sadly it seems the human race is not at that point yet and we live in a world where war not only exists but where it tragically takes so many lives. I will be wearing my poppy proudly.

Download knitted poppy pattern

Download knitted poppy pattern

Here is the download Knitted Poppy


Modern Day Lost Paddington Bear

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I found this story about this lost Teddy Bear and just had to share it.

It’s like a modern-day Paddington Bear: Airport staff discover 100-year-old bear separated from its owner in departure lounge

article-2335228-1A1F249B000005DC-250_634x423Bristol Airport staff are searching for the owner of a 100-year-old Teddy bear found abandoned in a departure lounge. The antique bear, which has one eye and a floppy ear, was found in a bag with a frayed black and white photo dated March 1918 of him in better days being cuddled by two little girls. Unlike famous Paddington, the bear has no tag which says ‘Please look after this bear’, but a message in faded ink on the back of the photo which reads: ‘With dearest love and kisses to our darling Daddie from your loving little daughters Dora and Glyn.’

Staff at Bristol Airport have spent 14 months trawling flight records to see if they could find any two passengers with the same names. They are now appealing to the public to help return the Teddy, named Bristol by staff, to his rightful owner. ‘He’s well-loved, that is for sure’, said Jacqui Mills, spokeswoman for Bristol Airport.  ‘He looks a bit battered but I think that’s because he has been given so many cuddles over the years.

article-2335228-1A200437000005DC-938_634x450‘He was with lost property and we were certain that someone would claim him, but when they didn’t he was passed over to the airport police who took very good care of him and tried every means possible to find his family. ‘The postcard photograph has a second message which reads: ‘Taken on baby’s birthday March 4th 1918, one year and five-months-old.’

Ms Mills said: ‘Photographs were such a rare thing in those days and would not have been taken very often.article-2335228-1A1F24D7000005DC-641_634x912‘A photograph celebrating a birthday may have been taken a few months after the date. ‘Bristol Bear is now living on the corner of Jacqui’s desk. She said: ‘We’ve no idea how he came to be in the airport, or what the story is behind him. ‘It would be so lovely to perhaps find Dora and Glyn or their family and reunite them with this gorgeous bear.

‘He has a missing eye, a very floppy ear and I think he has had an operation to his tummy at some point, but I’m certain he has a few more cuddles in him yet.’

article-2335228-1A1F24A3000005DC-864_634x423Jasper Pearson, son of Sue Pearson who is one of the world’s experts on vintage Teddy bears, said this is an early German bear which would have been made between 1907 and 1910. ‘I cannot say it’s a Steiff without looking at it in person but in its current condition even with the lovely photo is is worth about £350. If we could confirm it was a Steiff it would be worth considerably more.’

article-2335228-1A1F24DB000005DC-317_634x784If the make was a Steiff, Mr Pearson said it could be worth more than £1,000. ‘Collectors always love bears with provenance, and a nice photo of a young owner with their bear is always much sought after,’ he said.  ‘Steiff were certainly the most famous maker of bears before the First World War but certainly not the only one.

‘Many of these early factories left few records to help identify the bears they made. We are only able to identify which country they were made in by the design and quality of mohair used to make them’.

 

The original article was in quite a few newspapers but this one was in the Daily mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2335228/Its-like-modern-day-Paddington-Bear-Airport-staff-discover-100-year-old-bear-separated-owner-departure-lounge.html?ITO=socialnet-facebook-dailymail

 


Teddy Bear Facts and Information

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Do you know why Teddy Bears are called Teddy Bears ? Do you know when they were invented and who first manufactured Teddy Bears ?

Here is some interesting information about Teddy Bears.

11372364-standardDo you know who this is ?? This is Richard Steiff the grandfather of all Steiff Teddy Bears. His mother was a seamstress who had turned her hand to making soft toys. He apparently made a Teddy Bear called Steiff bear 55bp which was to travel to America in 1902 but was believed lost as sea as they never arrived. People have searched for the 55bp bear but no single bear has ever been found only sketches of the bears. Steiff obviously made more bears and today the Steiff Bear button in the ear is synonymous with quality and variety.

TheodoreRooseveltTeddyBear

TheodoreRooseveltTeddyBear

The modern Teddy Bear is called a Teddy Bear after an American President. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was commonly known as “Teddy” refused to shoot a bear on a hunt that had been tied up. There were several other hunters competing on a hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902, and most of them had already killed an animal. A suite of Roosevelt’s attendants cornered, clubbed, and tied an American Black Bear to a willow tree after a long exhausting chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he should shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, deeming this unsportsmanlike, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery. This incident became the topic of a political cartoon.

ideal-toy-corp-teddy-bear-1910An American Toy maker Morris Michtom saw the Teddy Roosevelt cartoon and was inspired to create a new toy. He created a little stuffed bear cub and put it in his shop window with a sign that read “Teddy’s bear,” after sending a bear to Roosevelt and receiving permission to use his name. The bear created by his company has a familiar classic shape head that I model my Memory Bears on.

By 1906 manufacturers other than Michtom and Steiff had joined in and the craze for “Roosevelt Bears” was such that ladies carried them everywhere, children were photographed with them, and Roosevelt used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.

North American educator Seymour Eaton wrote the children’s book series The Roosevelt Bears, while composer John Walter Bratton wrote an instrumental “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”, a “characteristic two-step”, in 1907, which later had words written to it by lyricist Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. We all know the song !

Early teddy bears were made to look like real bears, with extended snouts and beady eyes. Modern teddy bears tend to have larger eyes and foreheads and smaller noses, babylike features that enhance the toy’s cuteness. Teddy bears are also manufactured to represent different species of bear, such as polar bears and grizzly bears, as well as pandas.

While early teddy bears were covered in tawny mohair fur, modern teddy bears are manufactured in a wide variety of commercially available fabrics, most commonly synthetic fur, but also velour, denim, cotton, satin, canvas & as we know old clothes from babies or grown ups. TOTZ Memory Bears

Teddy Bears are loved by kids of all ages 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fabric Suppliers List

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Everyone keeps asking me where I get my fabrics. So I thought I would compile a list of some of my favourite stores from the internet and actual shops to share.

Fabric stores to visit

  • Dunelm – you probably have one of these somewhere nearby. They sell threads, fabrics and ribbons etc. Lot’s of the fabrics are upholstery fabrics for curtains and sofa’s but my local one also does a small range of dressmaking fabrics too usually priced around £7 per m.
  • Abakhans – scattered all over the country I visit the one in Liverpool when I am up there. You can’t beat actually being able to browse for fabric, touch feel and see it so sometimes actually visiting a fabric store is worth the small trip you might have to make.
  • Local stores – I have two local shops near me that sell gorgeous fabrics. One of them is a craft fabric store which means the fabric is slightly heavier than normal weight dressmaking fabric but I have found some gorgeous prints and one of my favourite summer dress makes was from craft fabric. I call this the Alice dress and I actually love this pink starburst fabric.IMG_20140715_045130

 

Online website stores

    • https://www.fabric.com/ – This is an american site so in the UK be aware that if you order over £100 you will pay extra tax. You will however find lot’s of great prints that you don’t see over in British stores. Some of the American Designer fabrics like Michael Miller are cheaper here but obviously the postage is more.PhotoGrid_1403959426483

 

  • http://www.calicolaine.co.uk/ – Great online store for all sorts of fabrics. I have brought some lovely Rose & Hubble prints from here also my Strawberry fabric.
  • http://www.brightonsewingcentre.co.uk/ – Nice website stocks all the main streak designers Riley Blake, M Miller , R Kaufman & some other great brands too
  • http://www.printstopolkadots.co.uk/gb/ –  Riley Blake, M Miller , R Kaufman, Dashwood Studio among others
  • http://www.emmasfabricstudio.co.uk/ – There are some great bundles of fabrics on this store perfect for project work. Lot’s of plain cottons and flannel fabrics too & all the main designers plus loads more Riley Blake, M Miller , R Kaufman etc. I love the Andover fabrics and you will find them here.
  • http://www.plushaddict.co.uk/ – Great site for whole range of fabrics
  • http://thelittlefabricshop.co.uk/ – Fabric, buttons, ribbons and more.
  • http://www.ebay.co.uk/ – A little obvious maybe and not always the cheapest but certainly not a bad place to look for bargains, roll ends or remnants and also to pick up supplies like elastic and trim. If you don’t mind it coming from abroad it’s cheaper too and more than likely some of the supplies are manufactured in the country they are being posted from anyway so not necessarily inferior quality.
  • http://www.minervacrafts.com/ – This site has a fabulous range of fabrics and notions plus patterns too.

I am giving the following page a special mention as it is the only one I know of that stocks really unusual bespoke prints and will also help you create and have printed your own designs.

  • http://www.spoonflower.com/welcome –  If you fancy designing your own fabric or having some really unusual fabric designs printed bespoke for you this is the place. I bought some amazing Dr Who fabric here that I have never seen anywhere else. You choose your fabric type and the design and they print the amount you order specifically for you.

list updated April 2016

Facebook Page sellers

Some of these pages also have website stores. They might advertise offers or discounts on the facebook page then link to the store to buy. I think it’s easy to forget that facebook has lot’s of small businesses selling through facebook or offering services. Here are some of my favourites. The great thing about these pages is it’s easy to ask the seller questions or their audience too so you get lot’s of help and advice. You also sometimes get to see the things people are making which showcases fabrics that you might not have seen or thought would look great.

There are so many places to find and buy fabric and all the notions like ribbons, zippers, threads etc. I couldn’t list them all so these are just a few that I know of and have used. If you know of a great store that I should add please let me know.

We love fabric in my house and as far as my littlest is concerned the pinker the better but I love them all. Flowers, fairies, space ships, pink, blue, red……….. I think I should follow this post with something about the different designers. Watch this space.IMG_20140708_053547


wpid-photogrid_1399547480641.jpg

Bears. Special Memory Bears

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One of my favourite things to make is the special Memory Bears.  I have a steady stream of requests which is nice and also make some time for some personal dressmaking too. All in all I just love my sewing. 

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There is something especially lovely about taking a pile of clothes and turning them into a bear.  Something that can be cuddled and treasured. 

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The nicest part is knowing that someone else will look at their bear and see all those memories of the person who wore the clothes. It might be someone young or old. A baby or a grown up. It could be someone past or present and any fabric will work.
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It might be a stack of baby clothes. Or it could be shirts.
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I love making the baby bears. Usually these are for mums to remember their child’s baby days in a special way rather than clothes in a box. But it could be a remembrance bear which is something both sad and special at the same time.
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Sometimes the bears are made from dressmaking fabric I have. Usually these are special requests in fabrics that the new owner will love. This heart bear has been made for a special brave lady who has spent months in hospital fighting for her life and thankfully is now on the road to recovery.
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Having a bear made is easy.
1. Gather up the clothes and send them to me.
2. I make the bear and send it back. This usually takes between 4 to 6 weeks. Sometimes faster if especially requested. I can also add special stitched messages too.
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I do this by hand so restrict this to names , dates and or short messages. I am about to make 2 grandpa bears for 2 little boys who live a long way away from their grandpa and will stitch their names on the feet.
If you are interested please message me. My email address is on my site and my fb page and twitter account are here too.