The ‘Art’ of Well Dressing

I have, at the beginning of this blog, alluded to a strange local tradition called Well Dressing.

2014 Finished Well Dressing

2014 Finished Well Dressing

It is I’m told native to Derbyshire and the small village of Barlow has been dressing its wells for a very long time, we have been able to trace it back to 1800’s.  It is believed to be a pagan tradition to thank the gods for water.

Currently a group of us get together at the beginning of August and put flowers in clay to depict a picture often based on a religious theme. Most of us have been doing this for many years (My uncle is currently in his 52nd year of ‘dressing’), I have only notched up 22 years so far.

So once again this year I put the sewing to one side and joined in.

In its basic terms a wooden structure is constructed around the well, clay (that we have had for years and soften every year by walking around in it in our wellington boots) is thrown onto the boards (very good messy fun) and troweled flat, then a picture drawn on it that we then ‘colour in’ with flowers.

We do that by putting large pieces of paper with a pencil drawn picture onto the clay then the lines are ‘drawn’ by cutting through the paper with a knife and then putting in pieces of bark before flowers are added to form the picture.

Here’s a few pictures for you to see

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Its not all hard work though

Its not all hard work though

Should you wish to widen your knowledge of this odd tradition we have our own website where you can learn more

www.barlowwelldressing.co.uk

Cath. x

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My first bag – Age 12

When I started sewing as a way to make a living my father asked ‘when did you learn to sew’ oblivious to the fact I use to make a few of my own clothes as a teenager and had sewing lessons in school, together with the fact my mum made clothes for me and my sister for a long time so it was inevitable I picked up some knowledge along the way.

The other day my mum said she has actually been using one of my first school sewing projects since I made it age 12. It was my attempt at hexagons that I use to decorate a bag I made.  I also remember making a V-neck top and liking it so much I made 2 more at home, but they are long gone.

So here it is my first handmade bag ……

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and I am pretty impressed at my skills of 30 years ago, its still going strong. (and yes… that does make me the ripe old age of 42!)

Pretty pink spots on that lining

Pretty pink spots on that lining

Straight  and even machine stitches

Straight and even machine stitches

 

Hmmm not so sure about my hand stitching

Hmmm not so sure about my hand stitching

Not my strong point back then

Not my strong point back then

Looking at that hand stitching my skills have definitely improved over the years (honest) but its nice to look back.

Cath. x

 

 

I’ve gone Bunting mad

Up-cycled bunting

There are so many projects that can use old and unwanted fabric rather than buying new, I have been looking at the different thing I can make, my only problem is choosing what to make as I have too many ideas!

One of the projects I decided on is bunting, it seems to be everywhere but I have never made any.

I had a search through my ever-growing stash of material and cut out a few triangles….

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There are bits of curtains, sheets, a duvet cover a dress lining and a shirt here.

I have to confess though some of the bias binding was bought new, although some is done with ribbon folded over.

My old fabrics have taken on a new lease of life and can be enjoyed for a while yet!

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Now I’ve done it and its such a quick and easy make I’m going to be make lots.  I’ve already started some more…..

 

Cath x

 

Summer dog and craft show

Hi there, I’ve had lots of little projects on the go recently and over the next few days I’ll share a few with you.  One of them was to add a few extras to my craft stand.

I don’t do many craft shows but when I do I stick to the small local ones, it’s as much about letting people know I do clothing repairs and alterations as it is selling my handmade items.

The latest event has been The Inkerman Buzz, this is a local park, where a group of like-minded folk get together and have a dog show, show off some weaving and woodworking skills promote green living and enjoy the local park.

I thought it would be an ideal show for my up-cycling products, and to promote my business, so in the spirit of the show I added a few doggy things to my usual range.

I put my macramé skills to use and turned some t-shirts, tights and leggings into dog toys.

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Some scraps of material became doggy bandanas

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When walking the dog I often didn’t have pockets for keys, phone and poop bags so created these little bags to attach to the lead

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I also made some insulated water bottle bags, handy for carrying a nice cool drink on these warm days

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I was all prepared and raring to go until I heard the weather forecast, no one had predicted that during the little heat wave that the UK is experiencing that day would be a day of continuous rain and thunder!  I went ahead anyway and set up as did all the others and a few brave souls ventured out to support us, a few sales were made and business cards were taken, so not a total loss, but it could have been so different.

Oh well better luck next time as they say.

 

Cath

 

Taste of Summer

For years my Mum made Elderflower ‘Champagne’ and as kids we loved it, not knowing then that it can have up to 4% alcohol,  no wonder we liked it!

Elderflower Champagne

Elderflower Champagne

 

It was a recipe that my gran also used to make so the whole family grew up drinking it and as it only blossoms in May/June and once made it only keeps for a few weeks it’s definitely associated with summer.

I’ve been noticing the Elderflower whilst on my walks with the dog and waiting for it to blossom.

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Little green buds, become bunches of lovely white flowers and the smell is very distinctive.

Just make sure you know what Elderflower looks like and pick the right one if you have a go at making this, don’t hold me responsible if you get it wrong!!!!

If you do want to have a go here’s My Grans recipe, it is so easy and tastes so good.

2 lge heads of Elderflower

1 Lemon – rind and juice

2 tbsp. White wine or cider vinegar

1 lb Sugar

8 pints water

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Mix together, stir until sugar dissolves and leave to stand for at least 24 hours then strain into sterilised bottles and leave somewhere cool for about a week to go fizzy.

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That’s the easy bit.

 

****** WARNING ******

Keep checking the bottles you may need to keep taking the lids off as the fizz is very unpredictable.

It may not fizz in which case add a tiny, tiny, little, drop more vinegar and leave a while longer.

OR

It may explode and fizz all over everything!!!

 

You can use glass or plastic bottles but I recommend screw tops, my Mum used corks years ago, but one batch had so much fizz all the corks popped hitting the metal garage doors, the neighbours wondered what was happening!

Apparently, so I’m told, its the pollen on the flowers that reacts with the vinegar to create the fizz.  So the more pollen the more fizz!

Now all I need is a nice day to sit out in the sunshine, relax and enjoy….

Cath

Craft Fair

If you follow me on Twitter (@C_M_Creates) you may have seen I was selling at a craft fair recently. I don’t do as many as I’d like as I have to factor in my 6yr old and if he will be with me or if I can find a sitter for the day.  For this fair I left him with his grandparents and took my niece to assist me instead. I even made her a money belt from the waistband and back pockets of a pair of jeans.

The fair was at an antiques and craft centre in Chesterfield. If you are ever in Chesterfield check them out.  It only looks small but it is packed full.

The building itself looks fab

Olympia House

Olympia House

 

On the day however I was a bit disappointed,  I was one of 4 stalls on the entrance drive while the main event was at the back (I don’t sell there – yet, the main sellers got prime position), but at least the theory was people had to go past us.

Unfortunately the other three sellers failed to turn up! this left me on my own so not as many people stopped and looked.

But it wasn’t a failure the sun was shining and we were in the best place for that and we did have some sales, always a plus, we also got to hand out leaflets and cards which has brought in more work.

Half the battle of a new business is people knowing about you and the range of work you do.  I always like the face to face, being able to tell people what you do to drum up business, I think if people have met you hopefully it goes in your favour.

Here’s a few pics of  my stall and a few of my products on the day..

 

 

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Cath. x

 

 

 

Dinosaur Party

Hi, I know I’ve not posted for a while…..again, but I have had a busy time lately which of course is a good thing business wise.  I have some commissions to make and several repairs. But of course its Easter and therefore my son is off school and as if that didn’t keep me busy enough it was his 6th birthday and on bank holiday Monday his granddad turns 70, every thing come at once.

My son started his Easter celebration with the school Easter bonnet parade here is his ‘bonnet’… a fluffy yellow chick.

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We had his birthday party a week early as a lot of friend were away over Easter, he had a dinosaur party but I got so busy I forgot to take many pictures (doh).  I had 22 kids age 6 and under and luckily some kind friends to help out.

I started prep making dinosaur eggs, good old papier-mache.

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I decided to make them into piñatas but on the day we couldn’t break them (I’m told I used the wrong glue) but we got around it by cutting them open and showering the kids with the sweets.

My god-daughter made a dinosaur poster.

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I printed some dinosaur invites from www.coolest-kid-birthday-parties.com.  I also printed off matching templates for favour boxes and filled these with chocolate dinosaurs made by melting chocolate into some moulds I had.

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We played pin the horn on the Triceratops…

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I drew some dinosaur footprints and we played musical footprints, shouting out a colour when the music stopped, anyone stood on that colour footprint was out….

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and we ate dinosaur sandwiches cut with my sandwich cutter.

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all in all they had a good time.

 

Now to get on with a cake for my dads party.

 

Cath

Beach bag tried and tested

I was commissioned to make a beach bag.  The brief was it had to have enough pockets, be lightweight and not too girly as she hoped to persuade her husband to carry it!

So, I found a thin denim pair of trousers that had wide legs so enough material for a roomy bag, I checked Pinterest for inspiration and found that most beach bags did not have many pockets or the pockets were on the outside, this person is terrible for losing things so pockets had to be inside, and then I got to work.

And this was the result…

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Now if you follow me on Twitter you will have seen the pictures I posted of this, I was quite pleased with the result, apart from it’s the wrong way around I had intended on having it wider than it was deep but after I finished sewing the pockets in the lining I realised I had put them in wrong!

As well as being denim which would stand up to being on the sand I lined it with a shower curtain, the theory running along the lines of some kind of waterproofing for wet towels inside or in case it got wet!?

This bag has now been on the first of its jaunts abroad and has been rigorously tested (unfortunately not by me) over the last two weeks and I’m told the outside pocket between the straps was just the right size for flip-flops, when walking in the sand,

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the inside had two open pockets and a zipped pocket, all of which were used, one for sun cream one for her kindle and one for bits she didn’t want to lose.

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And I am now happy to report it passed its tests and the customer was very happy and so I was happy.

I may just have to make some more, I shall try to get it the right way round next time !

.

Little birdy

Just a quick little project to show you today ……

A friend had kept hold of some of her daughters baby clothes but had decided that she didn’t need to keep them all, I offered to take one and turn it into something else.
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I cut out some shapes…….

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and then put my old hand sewing skills to the test. I haven’t found the need to blanket stitch in a long time!  A bit of rice and some toy stuffing and this little chap was created…

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My son liked it so much he requested one with yellow zigzags then my niece found some scraps in my stash to make her one.

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Not as neat as I would like but as I say its been a while I think I need more practice but the recipients were very happy.

 

 

Display of Talent

Last weekend my mums church was holding a display of talents and there was quite an array of talent on offer.

There were the Peak Youth choir and the Aurora ladies choir to entertain everyone and of course the usually refreshments were on offer, tables had also been set up showcasing the talents of the people that attended the church and there were some competitions.

I had a small display showing some of my up-cycled fabric items from bags to hair bands and I handed out a few business cards, there’s no point wasting an opportunity!

My 'talent' on display

My ‘talent’ on display

The talents being showcased included…….

Photography

Photography

Fishing

Fishing

Tap dancing, the picture on the table is of a lady as a child who has now been dancing for 50years!

Tap dancing

Lace making (looks very fiddly)

Lace making

Flower arranging and sat on the table are some knitted dolls

Flower arranging and some knitted dolls

A traction engine

Traction engine

Dolls in various wedding attire each representing a different era

Dolls in different wedding attire

 

And that was only some of them. (I think my son can enter some photos next year as he is responsible for the ones above, it kept him busy.)

The competitions included drawings, flower displays, decorated biscuits and cupcakes on a spring theme.

On the Friday night my kitchen was taken over by my 5yr old son and his 10yr old friend Jessica who wanted to have a go at the cupcake decorating and so I thought I would have a go too.  Although many disappeared along the way, we had enough left to enter a fine selection and my son and I duly won 2nd place in our age groups and Jessica came 1st in hers. (I think this may have been down to the lack of entrants rather than our talent).

My cupcakes

My cupcakes

A selection of the kids cakes

A selection of the kids cakes

It was great to see such talents on display.