Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children

Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children
Let's Get Making!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Show Time!

It is nearly a month since the Virginia Water Village Show. I have been meaning to post all about this lovely event for the past three weeks but the start of a very busy school year has meant I have been caught up in other things.

However, before I turn my attention fully to Autumn inspired projects and of course, Christmas, I thought I'd share why I love this type of event - the village show....

As I have driven around the local area and further afield this summer I have spotted so many signs for local village shows and I wonder whether the resurgence in popularity for handicrafts and all things vintage has led to a rise in the number of village shows. From here in Ascot to Cornwall during the summer, I have spotted lots of opportunities for gardeners, bakers, jam-makers and handcrafters to show off their skills and their wares.

For the last two years I have entered and won prizes for my knitted and stitched projects in the craft sections of the Egham Royal Show and The Chertsey Show - both of them fairly large in scale and a great day out for the family. This year Summer holiday plans meant that we were away at the time of shows but I was lucky enough to be around to enter The Virginia Water Village Show. This is a much smaller event but it perfectly embodies what a local gardening and craft show is all about.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't love winning prizes for my makes but there are so many other reasons to get involved in these events. They really do bring the community together. There are competition sections for old and young across lots of different gardening, cooking and crafting categories, so there is something to attract all family members across the generations. They provide an opportunity for local experts to showcase their skills and hopefully inspire others to take up a new hobby. There is also invariably a tearoom at a village show, so they are also the perfect opportunity to relax and make new friends over a cuppa.

This year I was delighted to win first prize in the craft section, but I was even more delighted to put my £1 winnings to use by buying this turban squash (modelled here by Theo), from the fruit and veg stall.

We were also given a fantastic recipe for Turban Squash Soup by the lovely lady from the stall, and following a quick trip in to the supermarket on the way home to buy ingredients we made soup to have as a starter with our dinner. Brilliant! There's nearly a whole year until next summer's shows but there is no time like the present to get making. I thoroughly recommend giving it a go!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Quilt Show!

Last month I spent a fantastic morning at The Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. My Mum lives in Solihull so I was able to leave my three boys with their Nan rather than dragging them around what is pretty close to three teenage boys' idea of hell. (Thanks Mum!)

It wasn't the first time I'd visited the show but I have to say that this year I was blown away by the incredible artistry and creativity not to mention amazing skills that were on display in the form of quilts. The women, men and craft groups that work to produce these beautiful works of art are truly inspiring. Here are just a few of my favourites that I was lucky enough to view:

Scenes from Shakespeare featuring Meerkat Characters - how cool?

I have been to quilting courses in the past and one thing I know is that quilting takes time. These beautiful quilts must have taken ages to make but wow! the results are stunning.

One day, when I no longer run a busy business and my children are grown up and independent I plan to spend a lot of time quilting. I am not sure I could ever produce amazing results like those at the Festival of Quilts but I look forward to giving it a go.

In the meantime, here is this Summer's quilted project. I have managed to fit it in in-between holidays to Spain, Cornwall and Swtizerland (I have been very lucky this year), days out with the family and planning school projects for September. It pales in comparison to some of the quilts I saw at the show but I love the theme and fabrics used and had lots of fun making it.

The British seaside was my inspiration. I adore beach huts and love the thought of owning one one day. How idyllic would it be to sit and watch the waves with a cup of tea working on a latest craft project? I can dream.... I have used a Dresden Plate design for the sun in the top left hand corner and I like my subtle cloud shapes above the beach huts. The candy colours were lovely to work with and I have used candy pink and blue stripe and polka dot fabric to create a patchwork backing. The bright and cheerful yellow buttons echo the bright yellow sun on the front.

I think this cushion will be my burst of summer sunshine indoors when the days get shorter. While I was at the Festival of Quilts I couldn't help but buy more fabric (the choice is amazing). I can't help thinking it may be time to make an Autumn cushion to go with this summer one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Hols, Summer Makes, So Far.

I adore summer. There are many reasons why I love this time of the year. I am lucky that my job, on the whole, fits in around school term times which means I have the same holidays as my children. The six week summer break (seven this year!), gives us time together as well as time to relax and have a few adventures.

It also gives me time to work on projects that have been in the back of my mind throughout the year. Most of my year is spent designing for Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs which I adore, but the summer break means I can work on ideas and designs that are more complex or I can indulge in other textile crafts that I love such as crochet or knitting.

Since school finished I have been pretty busy and I thought I'd share my summer makes so far.

My sister has recently re-decorated my eight year old niece's bedroom and asked if I could make some vintage style bunting to add to the decoration. I always have gingham fabric to hand (it's one of my favourites and works brilliantly in patchwork), and it worked perfectly with the lovely blue and pink floral fabric that I bought earlier this year. Rather than adding another pattern to the design I decided to personalise the bunting - pink felt letters hand stitched on to cream calico. I am delighted to report that Freya loves it and it now decorates her fabulous bedroom.

At the very start of the hols we headed off to Spain for a family holiday. We go there every year and one of the many things that I love about where we stay is the fact that there is no Wi-Fi. This means that the boys have to be resourceful in terms of keeping themselves occupied (much to their horror), which usually involves spending hours I the pool and even book reading(!)

To keep me occupied this year I bought my first colouring book and pencils. I have to say I didn't get very far with this and it did make me accept that I prefer my craft to be of the textile variety. Thankfully, I also had a fab Nancy Nicolson Embroidery Kit that I'd bought months ago. The week in Spain gave me plenty of time to get stitching and I found it very therapeutic to just practice my embroidery stitches following someone else's design for a change. I took some of my own threads instead of using those supplied with the kit simply because I prefer to work in bright colours. I was really pleased with the results:

My crochet adventures continue and I am currently joining together seventy granny squares in to a blanket that I hope to finish before the end of the summer and I have finished edging my first ever crochet blanket that I began back in March.

Considering it's the first crochet blanket I've made I am really pleased with the results. I chose colours that I don't normally work with (normally I choose bold and bright ones), and I like the way they work together.

I look forward to sharing blanket number two with you when it's finished (hopefully before the end of the summer hols).

Finally, inspired by Rio 2016 and all of the gorgeous tropical designs and prints that are everywhere this summer yesterday afternoon I decided to make my Totally Tropical Pin Cushions. I think I am becoming a little obsessed with pin cushions (see my previous post), but I love these bold bright and cheerful designs and they will definitely bring a touch of summer magic to my sewing clubs next year!

I am looking forward to sharing more makes with you throughout the summer break. Wishing you sunshine whatever you are making!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Flower Power Pin Cushions

Although it's possibly not the most sophisticated of flowers, I am rather fond of the sunflower. I have always loved their cheerful faces and was disappointed to find out that they don't actually turn their "heads" towards the sun, as I always thought this was a lovely image. It's currently sunflower season and I have seen plenty of these lovely, striking blooms for sale in the local florist. Maybe next year I shall get around to growing my own.

They featured in this fantastic bunch of flowers that I received as a "Thank you" gift at the end of term and this got me thinking of a new design for a pincushion.

If you have read previous posts on this blog, you will know that I am a huge fan of pincushions. I have posted tutorials for pin cushions that are still in use in my sewing clubs and I am happy to report that children find them far more fun to use than a pin wheel which is a huge help when trying to encourage good health and safety practices(!)

These flower power pin cushions will be debuted in my new clubs in September. They are very simple to make and would work brilliantly as a summer sew at home project for children. If you'd like to make your own just follow the steps below...

You will need

Three yellow 8 petal flower shapes 12cm in diameter, one charcoal grey (or any other dark colour), felt circle 9cm in diameter and one 6cm in diameter. I used pinking shears to cut the 6cm circle but you could also make small cuts in to the circle to give a fringed effect.

Step one:

Sew small, even running stitches around the outside edge of the 9cm felt circle.

Step two:

Pull your thread to gather the fabric in to a ball shape but don't close the hole completely.

Step three:

Add plenty of stuffing so that the ball feels firm and secure with a strong finishing knot.

Step four:

Place the ball that you have made on top of the 6cm felt circle and one of the flower shapes and sew through all three layers around the felt ball to attach it in place at the centre of the grey circle/flower shape.

Step five:

Position the additional two flower shapes behind so that they form layers and sew small running stitches around the edge of the small grey circle making sure you go through all of the layers of flower shapes to join all three layers together.

Your super sunflower pincushion is now ready to use and keep all of your pins safely in one place. This technique can also be used to create other flower designs. You can use brightly coloured felt to create exotic blooms, or how about taking your inspiration from summer daisies with white and yellow felt?

The list endless - Happy Sewing!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Making It Magical! Our End of School Year Gallery...

Well done to all of the talented sewing enthusiasts who created the most amazing projects last half term. I'd like to give a special shout out to all of the year 6 "Hope & Gloria" graduates who left our clubs to head on to new sewing pastures at secondary school. You will be missed and are wished all of the very best luck in your new schools - keep sewing.

This year all of our "graduates" were given a certificate in recognition of their amazing sewing skills that all of The Hope & Gloria Team hope will remind them of the fun and creative times spent in our sewing clubs.

One of our very talented year 6 club members, Jessica from St. Ann's Heath Junior School brought in the very first project that she made with Hope & Gloria when she was in year 3 - an owl. It was lovely to contrast her first and final sewing club projects and it's always lovely to see how far children progress with their sewing skills during their time in our clubs. A huge "Well Done!" to Jessica.

Here are some other lovely projects that were stitched with skill and love last half term by our sewing club members. As always their creativity is truly brilliant. Have a lovely summer everyone and we look forward to seeing you all again in September!

The Land of Make Believe

Being the Mum of three boys, there aren't usually any unicorns or fairy houses to be found in our house. Over the years there have been one or two dragon themed books, films and toys here but generally nothing of the magical girlie variety.

Therefore, it was a real treat for me to design the projects for the Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs for last half term. The theme I had chosen was "Make It Magical". People often ask me where I get the ideas for our sewing clubs projects from and often it can be as simple as listening to our club members talking about things they love and magical creatures always seem to come up in conversation. Knowing how much our sewing club members love unicorns, they just had to form part of the range.

As always the design challenge I face is to come up with a project that will produce smiley faces for new and experienced stitchers and my unicorns can be made as simply or as decoratively as required. By this stage in the school year many of our sewing enthusiasts have mastered a few decorative techniques which can be put to use with these cute toys. Here are examples of the more decorative variety that I stitched along week by week with the children in my clubs to give them stitching ideas for their unicorns:

I think my favourite project from The Land of Make Believe were my Toadstool Fairy Houses. Super-cute and as we discovered in our clubs, ideal for letting children's creativity run wild, they make a really adorable decoration.

Again, there were lots of options for personalising and decoration. I think any fairy would love to make a home in one of these magical houses. Here are two of my examples:

I wrote about our final project option - the adorable baby dragon in a previous post. He proved to be very popular amongst our club members (nearly as popular as the unicorns), proving that there is still a lot of love out there for these gorgeous mythical creatures!

We had a fantastic final half term of the year at Hope & Gloria. It's now the end of July, I have already designed our September projects and over the summer hols I'll be thinking about Christmas!In my next post I'll be sharing pictures of our club members finished projects - why not take a look to see how brilliantly our sewing club members "Made It Magical!"

Happy Summer Everyone, and Happy Sewing!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Our Celebration of Sewing

This weekend we had our annual celebration of sewing which takes the form of The Hope & Gloria Junior Sewing Bee Grand Final.

In my last post I explained how we reached this point through round one of the competition and yesterday afternoon Allison, Debbie, Sarah, and Sophie from the Hope & Gloria Team and I guided our amazing finalists through the last stage of the annual competition.

One of my absolute favourite aspects of my role at Hope & Gloria is designing all of the projects that we make in our clubs. Yesterday afternoon I was delighted to hand the designing reins over to thirty of our sewing club members so that they designed and made their own cushions and bags in a bid to win first prize in 2016.

This year we had two overall winning categories - one for school years 3& 4 and one for school years 5 & 6. After seeing the brilliant creations from round one, it was no surprise that this year's standard was incredibly high and choosing just one cushion from each category was very difficult.

Follow the yellow arrows below to see the winning entries....

Our winner in the younger age category was Amber Moores from Warfield Primary School who gave us a well thought out design that showed a brilliant understanding of the use of colour and space as well as beautiful stitching for her age.

Hannah Mackie was our first prize winner in the older age group. Hannah managed to sew designs on to the front and back of her cushion in the allocated time of 75 minutes - a daytime scene on the front and night time one on the back featuring the moon and a bat. The back of the cushion also featured a pocket for a tooth for the tooth fairy to collect. Hannah's inventiveness of design, function and beautiful stitching meant that this was a truly well deserved first place.

Well done to Amber and Hannah! Also, I must also say a huge well done to all of our contestants that joined us yesterday - you were all amazing and I don't think I have ever found it so hard to judge a competition.

I am happy to report that no-one left empty-handed. As well as taking home their beautiful creations, all of the girls were given a goody bag containing Hope & Gloria sewing supplies and some sweet treats.

Well done once again to everyone - we hope to see you all again at next years Hope & Gloria Junior Sewing Bee!