Appliqueing this house was the point in the last week at which I stopped and actually realised that I was having fun and enjoying what I was doing. Since opening my shop I have had lovely orders placed (although nothing at all through Etsy), even lovelier requests for custom orders to be made and my days have been filled with sourcing supplies, pattern-making and sewing, wrapping and packaging and many trips to the post-office (oh, and registering as self-employed - which felt oddly momentous)...which is all just what I was hoping for, but I have found that after seven years of my pace being dictated by my children, it has been harder than I'd anticipated to add another element in and instantly strike the right balance...the school runs that, until Christmas, are at 12pm for one child and then again 3 hours later for the other, means that the day feels short and fragmented and I have been trying hard to keep my afternoons with Dinosaur-boy free from what to him may seem like chores. In amongst all the busyness I forgot to the keep the house tidy and Mr Teacakes found himself in semi-shock...he no longer recognised his home or the strange creature who sat in the middle of a sea of wadding and materials; who forgot to buy bread; or to wash his football kit in time for his games...jokes were made, that weren't taken in the spirit in which they were intended as one who is normally so obsessively tidy would really rather everyone else pretended that they hadn't noticed that she was no longer managing to oil the worktops with such alarming regularity. So while I have been finding some sort of equilibrium, it is blogging that has temporarily been pushed to one side...there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day at the moment...but that will change after Christmas when Dinosaur-boy goes to school full time... then I will have more time than I know what to do with.

For the last couple of weeks I have been making things for a fair that I will have a table at, and one of the loveliest things has been being asked to do custom orders that have then sparked new ideas for things I would love to make even more of - I've had one such order this week, that I enjoyed working on so much that I have been waking in the middle of the night excitedly thinking of more fabric combinations that it could be made in...but more on that once the recipient has received her parcel.

During the holidays, which seem such a long time away now, I had fun with the children making a new collage to fill their playroom door with. You might remember that they had previously made a butterfly garden, and this time they chose an underwater theme...they were literally so full of ideas that we could have carried on for weeks - their door includes jellyfish, starfishes, shells, seaweed, dolphins, a shark, big fish, small fish and seahorses. They sat at the breakfast bar gluing, cutting and shredding tissue paper for hours on end, while I was sent scurrying backwards and forwards to the computer to find silhouettes of their requested animals and to find reference books so that they might study the real thing for inspiration (luckily my sister has equipped us with the most amazing library of nature books over various birthdays and Christmases and we had these open all over the room).

This is Dinosaur-boy's shark...chasing fish (yes, I turned the butterflies into fish, while they worked on the main creatures). And then below the seahorses, sparkling fish and wispy tentacled octopus.

And on the seabed starfish loitering around a darkened cave.

Anyway, the other thing that I've been meaning to do for weeks now is to tell you about various books that I've been reading (and Sew Hip magazine too! Utterly wonderful, but I never got round to blogging about it, which is fine as so many of you seem to have it too...which is pleasing in itself as I was really hoping it would sell well as there is such a huge gap in the UK market for it).

Anyway, the books: first and most excitingly, Ginny's (and Alice's) lovely book Sew Fabulous Fabric - I think often when you look at a book written and created by someone you don't know you take it as a fait accomplis, but when you look through something created by someone that you do know...well, I think you can't help but dissect all it's ingredients and wonder at where they found the time, skill and strands of inspiration to tie it all up together into something so well-formed and appreciate all the little bits so much more and feel slightly awestruck by the fact that it was a real person who wrote every tip and hint on each page, each explanation for a picture and every warm and friendly paragraph inspiring and encouraging the reader. And gosh, Ginny (and Alice...I don't know her, but as her contribution was equal it feels awful not to keep mentioning her) really has produced such a fantastic where as I did my first cursory flick through I became increasingly excited by the photos and projects...for it is exactly the kind of book I love - part life-style, part instructional, large dollops of inspiration and full of tips, hints, patterns and a fantastic list of suppliers (one of my favourite bits in a craft book).

I also love it because the sewing technique that I'm most delighted by - applique - features so heavily in it. From tea party jellies and sandwiches to boats bobbing on a curtaining sea, to a fantastically tall tree and house featured on a fabric height chart, Ginny & Alice's book left me desperate for some time to create things inspired by their photos and patterns.

Next is Zakka Sewing - 25 Japanese Projects for the Household...I know Rebecca, whose book reviews are plentiful and always brilliantly informative reviewed this book a while ago, so I feel like I'm coming to the excitement around this book slightly belatedly, but for those of you who haven't got it or read her review, it's a really lovely book to own and look through. The pictures have the signature Japanese minimalist crispness to them and the smooth matt cover is quite perfect.

Despite adoring so many of the more Zakka-style blogs and at times having had brief phases of aspiring to emulate that style (and even buying a few fat quarters of fabric that gives more of a nod to it), I think essentially my own sewing look is quite un-Zakka (and I do think every seamstress has an area that they feel most comfortable in and are drawn back to), so I think my practical use of it will be limited, but it is a delight to own. My favourite bits of the book are the boxes that contain Zakka Facts - I found these fascinating and it made me love what they had created to reflect the Zakka fact so much more.

And finally the Marie Claire Idees book: Simply Irresistible Bags, that I had on my Amazon wishlist for nearly half a year pre-publication. A couple of the leather bags that are featured in it are quite simply divine...but as leather can be hard to source and expensive to buy I shall have to satisfy myself with drooling over the ones on the pages instead. It's so hard buying books on the internet as you have your own (normally unrealistic) expectations of what a book's covers may hold. I think I may have been guilty of having visions of being transported into the realms of Parisian chic via the bags in this book, but actually it's more in the vein of French country rustic chic so not quite what I was expecting and possibly less of the type of bag that I would wish to throw over my shoulder when leaving the house. But it's a really lovely book, beautifully photographed and well put together.

You may be thinking now: maybe if she did shorter blog posts she'd be more capable of fitting that into her life at the moment...I've thought that too...but I'm simply not capable of it. I was once told by a rather dashing recruitment agent named Giles that my CV was stung, as the truth often does. I think he would say the same thing of my blog...not that he looked like he had an interest in sewing.


  1. missed you XXX Sculptor's wifey(who hasn't cleared kitchen after dinner yet!)

  2. Oh, be as long winded as you like Florence - we goble up every word.

    I was wondering just this morning how you were getting on. And not to be the prophet of doom, but those exra hours between 12 and 3 go really fast.

  3. Its such a treat when you do post that I am more than happy to spend the time reading! I am so glad to hear your shop is going well and you are enjoying it. I know Zakka isn't everyones style but I just love the natural linen look with the cute extra touches! Have you any of the Tone Finnanger books like Sew Pretty Homestyle? I think you might like that, it is so pink and pretty!

  4. You may be verbose but I am concise except for when ramble on. I always wish my posts could be wordier but I guess that one's writing style is as personal as one's crafting style so I try not to worry about it too much. Cherrie

  5. Congratulations on becoming officially self employed! I too have a small craft business and I know only too well the demands on your time. Cleaning away the kid's breakfast things, loading the washing machine, etc, etc and before you know it, it's school pick up time! I work from home and to my horror I am becoming increasingly neurotic about tidiness and find I can't start sewing if there's dishes in the sink - agh! Good luck with everything and I love reading your blog. Hurray for verbosity (is that a word?)

  6. Why not be verbose about something you so obviously love doing?
    Its fantastic that you are getting so many orders. Please don't be disheartened about nil Etsy sales. As a fellow Etsian, I find it to be drowning in sellers, not so many buyers!

  7. Congratulations on becoming self employed. It changes everything have you noticed yet?
    Never too many words. Lovely blog.

  8. I had to smile when you were describing your house. I spent my precious weekend sewing doll quilts for sale. My house is a disaster zone of dust bunnies, unfolded laundry and untidied away boys' stuff. It's horrible. I'm glad I'm at work at the moment so I don't have to look at it.
    (But the doll quilts are gorgeous!)

  9. Crafts with the little ones are so much fun. I love your window. I know exactly how you feel with your day cut up in to segments. I have spent the last 15 years walking to and from school three times a day and at times four times a day. In the Winter with many layers of snowsuits,mits, hats ,boots and neck warmers I felt like I spent the whole day undressing and dressing myself and children. But alas! It is a myth that you will have more time! You will be busier than ever!\

    I also started a small business recently and it did take a lot of time and energy to get it all organized

    Good luck and sew until your heart is content! I am off to tackle my quilt for an hour.

  10. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's whole house seems to end up in a mess when I'm doing any sewing.
    I gave up work to stay at home thinking I would have more time to do what I wanted to do but I was so wrong, I seem to have less time, the days just wizz by.

  11. Oh housework is always there to be done. It's a constant and therefore a thing I feel I can cheerfully ignore. It will always wait for you, patiently, stoically, and only gently reproach you when you choose to pay it attention. Hoover when the carpet gets crunchy, that's my solution...:)

  12. Hi Florence,
    Welcome to the chaotic world of the small business working from home. So pleased you have lots of good orders. It will get easier with a full day but as Ali says the few hours after lunch till 3 do go quickly. It's about self discipline and avoiding distractions... two things that i am not very good at. I will never know how i managed to write a book and at this rate the second one won't get written! Thank you for the lovely words about it... so pleased that you have enjoyed it and found some projects that have inspired you.
    I LOVE your long posts. I too worry that mine are too long especially if i haven't blogged for a while and feel the need to slurge and give an update..
    I love commissions as they do facilitate new ideas. Have a lovely week sewing. Enjoy.
    Ginny xx

  13. Oh Florence you are so very lovely!! Ramble as much as you like - it's such a pleasure to read. I sooooo understand the juggle and my blog is sadly neglected. I have had so many tight deadlines recently and trying to squeeze it all in around my little people can be hard on all of us. And the older they get the more they do! But somehow it all gets done and the feeling of achievement is so wonderful. Thinking of you as you continue to build your little empire - good luck with the market!

  14. Not verbose at all Florence, merely making sure we are all well informed which is right and proper! fab news about the ordrs though we all knew it would be so. Great books - Ginny and Alice's is just wonderful isn't it? Another post soon please xx

  15. I really look forward to your posts, they are so enthusiastic and informative and inspirational. Where else would I have learnt about various sewing tools? I'm so impressed with how your children decorated their playroom, it looks great.

  16. lovely shop florence- some really original ideas too- I've never sold anything on etsy, I did hear that much of it is promoted through groups.
    I know what you mean about time management sometimes working is just too much fun!

  17. well I love your verbosity and look forward to each and every instance of it. well done on becoming self employed, it sounds very exciting (and hang the mess!)

  18. Yes, I agree with Ali. I always think I'll have more time when some new slot opens up in the routine. It just doesn't go as planned. I now have Thurs and Fri morns with no children. I planned it to be my exercise mornings. Since September it has happened once!

  19. What a lovely blog I like the door that you made with your children en everything is looking great. Thanks

  20. Your verbosity is what makes you, you Florence and it is wonderful! I often laugh out loud at your musings. Love the house applique and so glad and not at all surprised that your shop is doing well - it really shows that you are loving what you are creating.

    Finding the balance and stretching the hours in the day is tough but it will get easier when Dinosaur boy is at school for a little longer although I agree with Ali too, those 3 hours disappear alarmingly quickly!

  21. Dear Florence
    I am so impressed by your machine applique endeavours and recently embarked on some myself. It was hard! The end result was ok but I found it quite nerve wracking wrestling the machine to go around corners and feeling all the time like it was going to race off on its own. Not at all the vision of meditative pleasure I had in mind! So I have a request... would you consider writing a short tutorial with a list of products that you use to make it so enjoyable. I have some lovely ideas in my head but baulk at trying it again! I'm sure others would love to see this too... and, really, it need only be very short - I know time is of the essence!
    Angela xxx

  22. I personally consider verbosity to be a very desirable quality! Your posts are always so lovely to read.

    I have now added some new titles to my amazon wish list - so many craft books, so little time!

    I hope the craft fair preparations are going well. It is hard to carve out sewing time when there's the school run or walk to cut into the middle of the day!


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