Sunday, 19 May 2013

A wonderful Day Out

Hello lovely reader, have nice to see you again today.  Yesterday I had a really wonderful day in the sweet little market town of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands, on the edge of the Peak District National Park. This was my first visit to Leek and although it was a really cold day I received a very warm welcome from everyone I met there.  The town were all out commemorating the anniversary of the Dambusters Raid so there was a brass band playing tunes from the 1940s, lots of very old cars being displayed in the Market Square as well as stalls selling bric a brac.  A lot of the townspeople were dressed up in 1940s costumes so it was an interesting day to visit Leek.

The reason I was there was that I had managed, last minute, to book myself on to two courses - one in the morning (making a make up bag) and one later in the afternoon (free motion embroidery), so it was a full day for me.  Both courses were held at a lovely shop called Bibelot right in the centre of Leek. Now lovely readers, I am confess that I spent a bit of time before booking actually looking for a town called Bibelot!  It took a while for the penny to drop and for me to realise that it was actually a shop........... I could have spent a fortune there as they had so many really fabulous things in the shop.  It was arranged over two floors and we were on the second floor with contained all the yarns, fabrics, buttons, books, I making you drool.........I was intrigued by the name of the shop so looked up the word and found it means a small object of curiosity, beauty or rarity and this really sums it up in a nutshell.  The two lovely sisters, Liz and Sophie have both worked hard to develop a fantastic array of tempting things for everyone, but especially for crafters.  What was really nice to see during my day there was the amount of children (both girls and boys) who came in with their families looking for yarn, fabric and kits of all manner of description so Bibelot is obviously a great place for them to visit.

Lots of tempting things to buy

Sewing Bee Fever
Both courses were run by a fabulous Tutor called Lorna Knight, a softly spoken Scottish lady who is so talented and friendly.  She, along with Liz and Sophie and all the ladies on both courses made it a day to remember.  Lorna is a highly qualified and very experienced sewer but she really had the knack of making every feel at ease and encouraged us all every step of the way.  What was really nice was that the workshop sizes are kept small and cosy, which is so reassuring when you are a new sewer as I am.  Lorna runs her own academy and offers such a wide range of courses but check out her webpage if you are interested.  I am certainly signing up for more of her courses as they are such value for money.

I arrived with minutes to spare for the morning session.  I had set off in very good time but, unfortunately, got stuck behind not one, two but three separate tractors on my way there.  However, I was warmly welcomed with a nice cup of tea and introductions to everyone.  There were only four of us on the morning session and this was comforting, plus all of us were new sewers, great!  Lorna was saying that, in the past, many people would have been taught by their mothers/grandmothers but that doesn't always happen now so people are keen to learn these skills they have missed out on.  We spoke about how fantastic Youtube can be in teaching skills and I know this only too well, as this is how I learned to do my granny squares.  Anyway, back to the main story!  It was hard for me to focus at first as the workshop was crammed with fabulous delights......

The Sewing Corner

Lorna asked us all to pick a fabric for our make up bags, what a choice, what a decision!  As usual I was drawn to pink or red, can't seem to help myself lovely readers, are you the same?  I tell myself - go for something different this time, but no I always choose these colours.  Lorna had made hers in a really up to the minute fabric with Russian dolls on it - it looked really fab.  Sorry everyone this is not a good photograph of it and I should have taken a better one but I was soo busy..............One thing I have learned from yesterday is that I will have to take more time with my photographs as I took a lot of them but they were unsuitable and I was disappointed with them.  It is time consuming when you are on a course and I try not to be a nuisance taking photos all the time as it can distract people.  Any advice on this would be warmly welcomed.  I did ask permission to take the photos and I could see some people were a little alarmed until I reassured them that I would only be taking photos of my own work and not of them.  I can understand this as I don't like getting my photo taken any time.

Sew Sew Many Choices

My chosen fabric
I thought that my fabric had a look of an old fashioned nightie, I just loved the faded feel of it.  Couldn't wait to get started.  Lorna got us all to measure the fabric out carefully and then to choose a lining.  I chose a lovely cream silky one which enhanced my pink flowers perfectly.  Of course I had to include something red in there too so chose a red zip, which went really well I thought.  I must admit lovely readers that putting a zip in fills me with dread so I was glad that I was trying out a very small one to start with. Lorna did explain about the different foot which you have to use when inserting a zip and how important it was to position the zip very carefully before sewing up on the machine.  She showed us how to place the zip in position and then to tack it all together, always checking that everything was were it should be before actually sewing it up properly.  This is really good advice for someone like me who tends to rush into things willy nilly only to find that I have missed out a step or two or three.................

Lovely readers you can just see my Aneela Hoey journal which I took along with the expectations that I would be filling in all the details of the day............... I am afraid I didn't do any such thing as I didn't have the time!  However, it was nice to have it with me and drew some admirers I can tell you.

Now, anyone of you who are thinking to going to Bibelot for a course, have a look at this.  The lovely Marlyn, who is the girls' Mum, bakes the most scrumptious cakes and we were all given a HUGE slice.  Feast your eyes on this..................Marlyn could certainly give Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood a run for their money everyone and remember, I was there for two courses so got TWO huge portions!!!  Thank you Marlyn.  Along with the gorgeous cake we all had tea served in real china cups and saucers which was so refined and civilised.  

I must admit it was a little difficult to concentrate on anything else after eating our cake but Lorna gently guided us through inserting the zip into the bag and wonder of wonders, mine fitted in and looked just fine (well to me it did but I doubt that anyone from the Sewing Bee team would agree!).  We had to get to grips with our lining as time was running out - mine was very slippy so was difficult to work with but, with Lorna's expert hand, we all managed it, thank goodness.  The last thing I wanted was not the complete the bag as once home it sometimes can be tricky to find the time to do this.  Does anyone else out there find this?

The morning just flew by and the heat was on to finish all our bags on time - well everyone we all made it!  I was really pleased with mine and haven't decided what I am going to use it for yet.  I don't want to put any make up in it in case it smudges the lovely lining so any ideas lovely readers?  It will have to be something connected with craft as I want to be able to use it on a regular basis and not just shove it in the cupboard.  Well would you like to see it?  I particularly like the cute ribbon and button.

I am sorry everyone as you must think this post is never going to end...........I quickly had a dash around the town to see what was going on and to burn off some of the calories from Marlyn's beautiful cake.  After lunch another set of ladies had arrived so again there were just four of us.  Lorna had brought some of the designs she had made herself and gave us all a demonstration on the machine.  Her designs were lovely and she said that we were free to copy any of these for the workshop.  We were all given all the materials needed plus a hoop in which to put our finished picture in.

What has happened here?

Lorna made it all seem so so easy until I had a go myself.  My fingers were not co-ordinated in any way and even though I tried to 'draw' a little flower and add my name, well it was a disaster!  Lorna did explain that this technique needed a lot of practise and would come in time so I felt a little better.  We had to choose a design and cut out some fabric that we would be using as our picture if we didn't want to just use the machine to embroider.  I chose to copy a sweet little design that Lorna had done - I didn't want to be too ambitious and fail.  I think it is really cute.

I chose some pink fabric (surprise surprise!) from the scraps which Lorna had bought with her and cut out the petals and then put these on to the fabric using bondaweb.  I was very apprehensive at the thought of trying to follow the pattern and went a bit astray with the sewing machine - felt as if it was a car out of control................I told myself to stay steady, take my time and not panic but as you can see lovely readers, this wasn't what happened, but it was only my second go.  I decided not to worry too much and just go with the flow and see what came out at the end.  It all came out ok in the end readers as I decided that what I would do would be to embellish my flower with some tiny beads and a glam button in the centre of the flower.  I do love knitting with beads and found it such a relaxing thing to sew with the hoop.  It is a new experience for me as I have never used an embroidery hoop but I can really recommend it to you all if you haven't had a go at it. 

Well would you all like to see the finished product?  All I have to do now is to take it out of the hoop, lightly press it and then put it back in the hoop so that the canvas sticks out.  The back has to be sewn tightly together to stop it slackening off in the hoop and a back put on to cover all those stitches.  Lorna kindly made each one of us a back so that we could finish off at home.  I just loved sewing the beads on and found it so relaxing and just finished on the stroke of 5pm!  I also forgot to say that I had another piece of cake...........delicious.

It is not a work of art by any means and, when I am a little better at this I will probably be horrified at this attempt but for now I am pleased with the result.  It is something I will be having a go at - haven't you heard all this before readers.......................................

Well the day finally came to a close and I had to start the long journey back - however, Liz and Sophie stayed open for us all.  It was sad to leave everyone as I had made some lovely friends in the morning and evening group and enjoyed all their company.  Liz, Sophie and Lorna were all fabulous and hopefully I will see them all soon again.

Well everyone, I fear you have all fallen asleep by now with my ramblings, I had such a lot to share with you today about my time in Leek.  I had a wonderful time as you can probably tell and if you are ever in that lovely part of the country don't forget to pop in and see everyone, you will be given a warm welcome.  It was so nice to see you all again, do leave a comment if you have time and call again, I love to see you all.  Dorothy :-) xxxxx  However I couldn't leave without buying a few goodies to take home could I?  Here we go...............

Beautiful Beads
A little pack for my granddaughter to make up

A fab  new book


  1. Oooh, what a fab day you had! Lovely pics, thanks for sharing! xxx

    1. Thank you Tina, it was a really good day :-) xxx