Just after Christmas my oldest, and very dear, school friend, who now lives in Canada, came over to visit with her husband and children. I spent a few days mulling over what I could give them and then when I was looking for something with my son in a cupboard and caught sight of one of his bears' sleeping bags (pattern here), I suddenly realised that I should make some for my friend's children. My son chose the creatures to go in them - we lined one of each possibility out on the shop floor to try and decide - they're lovely Jellycat animals, our favourite brand of soft toy.
I'm slightly lacking in overtly boyish fabrics now that my own son is older, having sold all my dinosaur and train fabrics a few years ago. I put together a few possible combinations from my stash and when I asked for my husband's opinion he told me that it was as though I were fashioning a sleeping bag for a business man or politician who wanted to keep his bear privately nestled in his briefcase, but in tasteful colours just in case it was discovered. Sometimes you can't quite see something until someone points it out, but in retrospect, David Cameron would indeed have been delighted with my understated choices, my friend's young son probably less so. So I revisited my fabric drawers and found some of Cotton and Steel's arrows with sparkly gold bits and some contrasting orange with more spangly bits from the same range. I still think it could safely nestle in the briefcase of a more mature bear-carrier if required…but now it's maybe more Richard Branson or James Dyson in style...
And onto the other sleeping bag, for my friend's daughter. The rabbit is resting in a bed of Jeni Baker's lovely 'Geometric Bliss' line by AGF. It's a gorgeous line, that's bright and vibrant, but also has a distinct pastel feel to the colours (you can find the whole collection over at The Village Haberdashery). The creature's new owner was possibly the most gratifying recipient of any gift I've ever given, so I felt pleased with my choices there! It's a few years since I've seen a child playing with one of these sleeping bags for the first time and it made me realise anew what a cosy toy it is - it made me feel so happy to have made them (but not quite as happy as seeing my friend and her lovely family).
Geometric Bliss came from my ever-growing stash of fabrics that Jacqui from Hantex surprises me with every now and then. I love these little parcels as they always seem to have an uncanny knack of arriving on a miserable day of mishaps when an envelope stuffed thick with fabric is just what's needed to make everything feel better on some level. Often, they're not things that I would have necessarily bought myself, so I always feel a slight sense of fascination when they work their way into my projects - there are now several of these prints in my Passacaglia cogwheels and their inclusion has subsequently led me to view certain print styles differently and reassess the way that I buy fabric. When I'm buying fabrics myself, I tend to cherry pick my favourite designs from different collections and so rarely get to appreciate how a designer puts together a cohesive collection, with some lead prints that sing and shout and others that work as a choir, singing harmonies in the background. I tend to go for the ones that beg to be fussy-cut or combine my favourite colours - often aqua/green and pink - and completely forget to buy the more subtle prints, which give a piece room to breathe and a chance for the eye to take in the more intense prints, so I've found there's something that stretches me slightly about someone else adding to my stash. It's helped me realise why shops' stash clubs or Block of the Month fabric schemes are so popular, because through experimenting with someone else's choices, you naturally learn more about combining colour and pattern - I find I have a tendency to become entrenched in using only what my eyes are naturally drawn to.
Tuesday is my day to sew, so today I'm writing up the pattern for this English paper pieced wall-hanging and also listening out (slightly obsessively) for the doorbell. Last week my husband gave me the USPS tracking number of some fabric that he'd ordered for me from overseas (yay - I know what's inside the box, so I'm super-excited!). We followed its progress to customs in the UK, where it seemed to stop for a while. Then DHL Global texted me to say that they had my parcel. I did wonder how they had got my mobile number, but we assumed that USPS must hand over to DHL Global for the final leg of delivery, so over the weekend I happily received notifications as my DHL package went to Docklands and various other places with the guaranteed result of arriving at my door on Monday. On Monday, after what seemed an interminable wait, the doorbell eventually rang in the late afternoon. The driver on the doorstep held a very, very tiny package in his hands that was clearly not fabric. I think my sinking heart may have actually been visible on the outside of my jumper (I am so sorry, lovely DHL man, that I must have looked so visibly disappointed, and forgotten to smile, when I opened the door to you. I know that you almost certainly don't read my blog, but it feels better to have written a formal apology to you). Once inside, I unwrapped the package and found that DHL Global had actually been delivering some Squeebles business cards for us from Moo, based in England. To us, also based in England. I'm unsure why the deceptive use of the word Global ever needed to enter into matters. I am really pleased with the business cards - they have lovely rounded corners and a very tactile surface, but they are not a large delivery of fabric from America. So the waiting continues and although I really want for it to be over, I do think the waiting bit can be even more exciting than the actual having bit!
Finally, for the reader who, in the comments to my last post, wrote that she prefers seeing photos of our cats, to photos of Nell, here's a photo that I've taken especially for you, of Honey, mid morning stretch on my daughter's bed just now.