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William Morris

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.

William Morris

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

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

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

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.

 

Unicorn / Unidorn

I’ve been busy this month adding another animal to my TOTZ family.
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It’s a wonderful horse with a horn and wings. I’m not quite sure what to name it though.  After much consultation with all sorts of experts in magical mythical equine animals for the exact name of a Unicorn with wings to it became obvious I didn’t know much. Most  of the aforementioned experts are under the age of 10 and let’s face it I am a fairly long way from being 10 so I  am sure I can be forgiven. The very best name however came from my 3 year old niece who calls her winged horse a Unidorn. So here he is. .. the Unidorn.
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He is similar in height to the Lion.
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Lions that go roar and other animals.

2015 has been an awesome year for me at TOTZ.  I’ve added 3 other animals as well as bears and they seem really popular especially the lion.  My first lion was a sample.  Made from my son’s Tshirts he had just grown out of so a mix of age 6 to 8.

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He came out beautifully and since then I have made a few more. 

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I love that a simple pile of clothes can be transformed into something so beautiful.  My son didn’t want the whiskers and smile that I added to the others but I love the lion smile. 
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As well as Leo I also have a giraffe appearing soon and a horse that can also be a unicorn or a pegasus or indeed both. Phew we do love our cuddly toys but most importantly the special ones made from memories.
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Great British Sewing Bee Episode 3

Vintage week.  Yahoo ! Oh I love vintage patterns. Sadly until I get to grips with my weight loss I do not have the waist that would do this dress justice but this is my goal. In fact this is what I put on my ww form. To get a waist so I can make myself this dress and do it justice. !

imageI was made over when I realised that the Walk Away dress that the contestants started the show off making is a pattern I own. Its a Butterick Pattern.

I bought the fabric from the lovely Hayley at Cotton Kisses. http://www.cottonkisses.co/

B4790 MISSES’ WRAP DRESS | VERY EASY | VINTAGE I bought mine here on the Jaycotts website.   There is also apparently a version of it in the Sewing Bee book which I might just splash out & buy myself.

I also found this terrific blog post by Katrina who had a go at this pattern & found she had to make some adjustments to get it to look right. Her post is really informative and interesting.

Next they had to handle an upcycling project which was fun as always but the last challenge was the one that was most fun to watch. It was a vintage inspired Sheer fabric blouse or shirt.

The styles chosen were once again an odd mix but I will have a go at listing them & doing pictures very soon

The Great British Sewing Bee Season 3 Episode 2

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 🙂

Great British Sewing Bee 2015 Episode 1

It’s arrived ! With much anticipation my eldest son and I sat and watched the start of 2015 Great British Sewing Bee.  An interesting mix of contestants and some great challenges is what we want to see.  Ok so it’s not exactly Guardians of the Galaxy or Transformers Revenge of the fallen action packed viewing,  two of our favourite recent movies but for a house where sewing is a common thing it is must view tv. I watched it again straight after lol.

Great mix of personalities and I love to see them all bonding over a common love of seeing both in the craft room and when you see them taking breaks. It’s a competition but you get the sense that there is a level of comradeship amongst the competitors that make it really nice viewing.
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There was much excitement when I realised that one competitor was using a fabric that I have in my stash. La paloma by Alexander Henry was one of the fabrics I bought at the NEC sewing craft exhibition summer 2014. I only bought 1.5m and seeing how fab this dress was I just had to buy some more to make myself a dress.

List of patterns on the show

The trouser pattern is apparently from the new Sewing Bee book which comes out at the end of the month but I found a BURDA pattern B7058 almost identical & have ordered it.

Amanda & Deborah looked like they were using Anna dress pattern from By Hand London & this is my fav dress of the night

Lorna’s dress looks like version A of the New Look 6723 pattern

Annie’s Summer dress pattern was Vogue 8470

Neela used  New Look pattern 6824

Paul used the Simplicity 1797 to make his dress

Matt went with the sleeveless Lekala 4263 dress pattern

Alex used a Simplicity 1960’s style Simplicity dress pattern. It had a retro look to it.

Neil made a Vogue pattern & I actually wasn’t a fan of this dress Vogue 8900

Ryan made  Burda 7556 it’s quite a nice Vintage pattern

Great British Sewing Bee 2015 challenge.

It’s almost here.  The excitement is mounting.  The date is circled on my family planner.  The Great British Sewing Bee 2015 is on BBC2 8pm February 5th.  This might seem an odd tv show to excite and tantalise a household but we aren’t a normal household.  This is TOTZ HQ where sewing is part of life and for mummy anything to read or watch about sewing is must view tv. So I will be there or at any rate my tv scheduler will be to make sure I don’t miss a moment and can re watch it in my me time moments. 
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I’m looking forward to meeting the crew and seeing what challenges they have each week. 

I am also setting myself a challenge.  To make one of each weeks items myself.  So watch this space I will blog each weeks creatine Sewing Bee item with all its trials and tribulations and hopefully I will be able to make everything successfully.  Oh I do love a challenge !!

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So February 5th not far away I am counting the days 🙂