Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Briefcase bears and imposter parcels


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.

Florence x

15 comments:

  1. I am exactly the same buying fabric! I am drawn to funky/quirky/edgy fabrics (often in green and pink!) and forget to get the backing singers to my pop star! I have subscribed to the Village Haberdashery stash society for over a year and it is brilliant for filling in the stuff I forget to buy. not just in print but in colour - I don't buy orange but sometimes NEED it - and lo! I have it!

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    1. I'm so pleased to find I'm not the only one and also to find that that is how a stash club is working for you too. I find I have mental blocks around lots of colours, but on the rare times I work with them it's like opening up a whole new room in my house that I hadn't realised was there!

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  2. Looking forward to your EPP pattern!! And the kitty is very cute.

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  3. The wall hanging you are wrinting up a pattern for is beautiful! Love the rich fabrics. Hope your package arrives soon!

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    1. Thank you - I love those colours - Oakshott are brilliant at doing really good jewel tones.

      Another day of no package…I hope it does too! Thank you! x

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  4. Your dear old friend is also a friend of mine! In fact i came across you whilst following her husband on Instagram. I'm glad the internet works in mysterious ways because I love have a peek into your beautiful fabricy creations, thank-you :)

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    1. How lovely! I think I know who you are as she mentioned someone at the children's nursery who sews? So lovely of you to stop by. Do let me know if you're on IG - I'd love to see your sewing. x

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  5. Thank you! Honey is just lovely, so lovely for you to put up a gratuitous picture for me. I can't help it, I am enslaved to cats. It is their personalities, and your two are rather beautiful.

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  6. Florence love what you made, so sweet. And love your cat.
    Rosezeeta.

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  7. I am currently waiting on fabric from the US too! Door bell went a few days ago - books my daughter had ordered for Uni.....The parcel has been in our state in Australia a week now - still waiting....hopefully today. Hope your fabric arrives very soon too!

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  8. Oooh I hope you get your fabric soon, am intrigued to see what it is. I am waiting not for fabric but wool so that I can do a Knit Along. I can't wait, it is Quince & Co wool, I love their wools, they to are American but luckily Loop in London stock some of their wool so mine is only coming from London this time. The worse bit, I may be out when it arrives and I need it for tonight and they saw that it needed a signature..aaggh x

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  9. I know what you mean, the waiting is as good as the having!!

    ps My vote goes to pics of Nell!!

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  10. Florence -- honestly you and your husband should go on television, you're so much wittier than anything we have to watch -- this!! "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 . . ."

    Since we're in France and can't watch Wolf Hall tonight I'm enjoying your writing instead! Love the kitty AND the Nell pictures.

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  11. I just love the idea of James Dyson or Richard Branson opening their briefcase and copping a quick squeeze of their bear before a big business meeting! And I don't know how old your recipients were, but I would have been delighted to get such a beautiful and cute present!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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