Category Archives: Me

#ukminiswap – UK Mini Swap 2015

Just before Christmas I signed up for my first ever mini swap. I’d been thinking of joining one for a while and this one caught my eye as it was UK based. For those who don’t know, in a mini swap you are assigned a partner at random, and have to make a quilt especially for them, and in turn a secret-somebody will make one especially for you. A little like a handmade secret-Santa. It is a great way to connect with other people as you are encouraged to post progress on social media, (with the hope your partner unwittingly comments or ‘likes’ your post), and spy on others to guess which quilt may be coming your way.

I had so much fun being a part of this mini swap. It was great to challenge myself and try something new and enjoy sewing for the hobby (as opposed to for my business). What I love about the quilting community is that everyone is so encouraging – there is no sense of competition, all abilities are welcome so anyone can have a go, the diversity of ideas and skills is inspiring and everyone joins in chatting and commenting on each other’s work and offering advice or opinions when appropriate. I joined Instagram just before the UK Mini Swap and I’ve really taken to it over any other social media as people have been so welcoming and engaging there. You don’t just feel like you’re talking to yourself as I sometimes do on Twitter or on here, and you really do feel like you’re making virtual friends.

I was assigned to make a quilt for Mel, and now that she has received her package I can tell you all about it…

Firstly, my brief:

“Not fussy and I’m sure I will love anything you make for me! Up for the surprise!

I like modern quilts. I love bright colours…pinks, yellows, oranges, turquoise and my new favourite colour with bright colours is grey!

Favourite designers include Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Cotton & Steel, Liberty prints. Totally blown away by paper piecing @alexouq on Instagram is amazing!

I am happy with any shapes really, love stars.”

She also posted an inspiration board, which looked like this:

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I decided right away that I would do some sort of star shape inspired by the cogs from Alex Lunz’s (@alexouq) La Passacaglia quilt (top left), and that I would try to include the fussy cutting Mel liked so much. Not thinking I’d have the time to do an actual EPP La Passacaglia cog (sorry non-quilters for all the jargon!), I decided to make something with my current favourite technique – foundation paper piecing. I raided my stash for some Anna Maria Horner & Cotton + Steel prints in Mel’s favourite colours, and threw in some Denyse Schmidt and solid prints for good measure.

This was the result:3

The pattern is a New York Beauty block by PatternBrat on Etsy. It was so fun to make, working on sections in between other projects and obligation sewing. I’ve gotta tell you though, trying to fussy-cut fabrics and line them up perfectly using FPP was a total ball-ache! My un-picker and I became close friends and it was really fiddly to get right. I can see all the imperfections still, but I’m pretty pleased overall. I think the peeping lions and little bunny vignettes were worth a few red faces and bad language!

Quilting it was also a challenge as there are some really bulky needle-breaking seams in a design like this. I decided to keep it simple outlining a few bits with straight-line quilting and then free-motion quilting the background.

Kira took a liking to it, as she does most quilts, and I felt a little guilty prizing it out of her paws (especially as I found it quite hard to let go of too!)

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A handful of extra goodies including some hexagon paper pieces with some fabric scraps (so Mel can do her own EPP), some chocolate as she has a little boy, nail files and some notecards fit for a fellow cat-lover and my package was complete. I do hope Mel enjoys her mini as much as I did making it.

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With a knock at the door this morning, my own special package arrived. A big box filled with beautifully tissue-wrapped goodies in sugary-sweet colours – it honestly felt like my birthday had arrived and I may have made a few squeaks of excitement. Who doesn’t love receiving gifts jus’coz?!

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Turns out my swap partner was the lovely Kathleen, aka @mrs_clackers. She had sent a lovely card, and as she hadn’t revealed too much on Instagram I had no idea what to expect. I had sent her a really waffley brief, talking about all sorts of unrelated stuff in the ‘about me’ section and probably boring the pants of her (yep, I talk too much. Wouldn’t surprise me if y’all are just scrolling through the pictures right now…). So I carefully unwrapped it and hubby heard from the next room…

” OH MY GOD IT’S LOVELY!”

And it really, really is.

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Kathleen, has made something truly unique and personal to me. Some regular readers (and those who know me in the real world) will know that I made 1000 origami cranes for our wedding last summer. The ceremony was held in a Japanese inspired courtyard and we planted a tree to commemorate the occasion. I am touched that Kathleen incorporated all of this into a mini quilt for me, and the result is stunning. It really is better than I could have imagined and is something very special that I will treasure forever.

Also a happy coincidence, is that the cherry blossom tree in our garden is currently flowering, which made for a perfect photo-styling opportunity. kmini2kmini3kmini4

Don’t you just love the detail in her blossoms and the Katy Jones fabric she’s used for the tree? it’s perfect.

And in case I haven’t gushed enough about my parcel, here are some pics of the thoughtful little extras she sent me too. A gorgeous notebook (I LOVE elephants, I can’t even remember if I told her that or not), soap that looks and smells good enough to eat, and some fudge which the hubster has already made off with – “oh these must be for me?”. Amazing to be on the receiving end of such kindness from a ‘stranger’. Kathleen, I can’t thank you enough and hope something just as lovely is headed your way.

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Special thanks to Nina, aka @bossyoz for organising the swap, and to Alison, aka @patchworkalley who was a fab swap mama for our group. I definitely recommend a mini swap for anyone thinking about it – I’m already looking forward to joining another 🙂 xxx

For more regular updates, follow me on Instagram – @lauradimplestitch

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It’s all in the details part 2 – Personal

Here’s the second post of handmade details from our summer wedding. Last one, I promise, and I’ll resume usual quilt-business soon!

First up, table decor, menus and (hundreds of pictures of) flowers…

For our menus, I spray painted embroidery hoops gold, and then printed the text onto grey linen fabric. It took a few goes to get this right, I had to attach the fabric to A4 paper to run it through the printer, and there were a few casualties to printer jams and smeared ink, but once I got the hang of it they came together really nicely. They were supposed to have a grey stripy ribbon (the one from the invitations) around the top, but I typically couldn’t find the ribbon, and after hunting for it at 1.30am the night before we were leaving for the venue, I decided we’d have to go without. It made it onto just one, but I think they still looked cute.

0377Since day one, I’d decided to do my own flowers. Largely as a cost saving exercise, but also because I wanted a loose, freshly picked and casual look. Over the year leading up to the wedding we collected a ton of jars to use as flower vases. A LOT of curry/pasta sauce/jam etc was consumed let me tell you! With the help of my bridesmaids, we decorated each one with bits of ribbon, lace and twine to pretty them up a little.

I ordered the flowers from a local wholesaler. I had sent them inspiration pictures with loose guidelines of what I wanted, and they came back with a list of flowers that would be in season and fit within my specified budget. I was very flexible about the colours and flower types, I just asked for mostly white with some shades of pale blush pink and peach, with lots of greenery and I was really pleased with what turned up the day before the wedding. With the help of my mum, my bridesmaid, auntie and even our photographer Julie, we started to make little arrangements in each of the jars, each doing our own thing to create a varied and eclectic mix, with no two jars the same. It was really relaxing and therapeutic, and a lovely way to spend the day before my wedding. The tables were finished off with linen runners, and a sprinkling of little carved birch hearts.

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Collage80354Collage7 0346I also made my own bouquet, which I did totally on a whim pulling random flowers from the selection until I was happy. I hand tied it with some lace ribbon, and my late grandad’s ring, as my something borrowed and blue 🙂

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OK, so, I didn’t make these myself, but I just wanted to flash our cake toppers as they were just so darn cute. These were handmade by an eBay seller and weren’t much larger than a thimble. Love.

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Which brings me to my biggest wedding DIY – 1000 origami cranes. This was an idea I fell in love with very early on, and everyone thought I was totally batshit crazy when I decided to do it. In Japanese tradition, a crane represents good health, fidelity, peace and truth. The birds also mate with one partner for life (which is believed to be 1000 years!), so are a lovely symbol for a wedding, and also happen to be very pretty. It is believed that if you make 1000 of these origami birds, you’ll be granted with a wish or even eternal good luck.

And so I set to work folding them, and it wasn’t long before I roped in my mum and hubby too. We started 9 months before the wedding, just doing a few in front of the TV every night so that we wouldn’t have a last minute panic. I guess I’m someone who likes repetition, as it’s a big part of quilting too.

I was SO pleased we did it. They looked even better than I had dreamed they would, and made a stunning centerpiece for the dining room hanging from gold-painted branches in the dome. Not bad for a total spend of about £15! I’ve kept one branch which is now hanging here at home and I’m not bored of looking at them yet.

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Finally, I of course, did some sewing! Instead of having a traditional guestbook, I wanted each guest to write a message or quote or doodle on a quilt block, for me to sew into an heirloom throw that we can snuggle under in years to come. I used scraps in browns, greens, greys and blues, in two different block designs and this was one of the handmade details I was most excited about as, believe it or not, I’ve never made a quilt for us to keep! Sadly, the message didn’t really get around about it and only a handful of people actually signed it (and some of them signed the wrong bloody side!). Not sure what to do with it now as it doesn’t really work with only a few of the blocks signed. For now it’s sitting in a box until I decide how to make the most of it. Ideas very welcome.0361Collage11 0406Well, that concludes my little self-indulgent wedding posts. Thanks for letting me share some of my other creative avenues. Quilt posts coming up…

Love, L xx

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It’s all in the details part 1 – Personal

This weekend marks three months since our wedding day and that magical & balmy midsummer’s day seems like a lifetime ago already. I previously mentioned I’d share a few of the crafty handmade details from our day, just to show you what kept me busy over the last year and a half when I wasn’t quilting.

Some of you will have previously read that I used to work for an event planning company as a stationery designer. This paired with my love of crafting meant I was truly in my element when planning our wedding. While the logistics and politics of putting a wedding together was pretty stressful, working on all these bits and bobs kept me calm yet busy throughout the wedding lead up, and I truly enjoyed making it personal and handmade. Things that I didn’t make myself I bought from other small businesses wherever possible and would encourage any other brides-to-be to do the same as it feels so much more special knowing an individual has put their love into making something for you. All photos were taken by the simply wonderful Julie Anne Skelton, who I really can’t say enough lovely things about.

I’ll start at the very beginning, with our invitations. I am a MASSIVE stationery geek and had always dreamed of having letterpress invitations but was sure I’d never afford them. I scoured the net for affordable ones, and just as I was about to give up hope, I found a seller on Etsy who could do them within budget. The printing is beautiful and I’m so glad I had a few left over for us to treasure. I wanted the design to be classy and elegant so I kept them neutral and fairly minimalist with a touch of whimsy brought in with the typeface and leaf motif. I adorned them with a linen belly band, silky ribbon, handwritten name tags and white wax cat seals (which I would have continued to stamp on absolutely everything at the wedding, had they not taken so bloody long to do…) and overall, I was pretty darn chuffed with myself once I’d finished them!

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Choosing how to do the placement cards and table plan was one of the hardest decisions for me, as there were so many different ideas I’d seen on Pinterest and blogs that I adored, and I kept changing my mind. I knew I wanted to do individual escort cards rather than a table plan, and after seeing some name tags pinned up along a string, I was inspired to do something similar, tying in my love of fabric and the grey and linen colours and fonts from the invitation. So, I raided my fabric stash (which luckily has a rather large neutral collection – not sure what it says about me that my favourite colour is grey…) and started cutting the 80 squares with my pinking blade. I printed the names and tables onto a thick textured card and just glued them onto the fabric backing. I then placed my dad in charge on the day of finding a suitable pair of trees to string and peg them up on, and he did so right at the entrance of our venue, where they gently danced in the breeze. Not sure what plan B would have been if we hadn’t been blessed with a gorgeous sunny day…

Collage20040The placement cards were a hybrid of two ideas I’d seen. We’d already found a few ways to incorporate the cats into our day, but I also wanted a nod to our chickens as well. Years ago at my old job, we did an event where each guest had a gold painted hen’s egg with a Chinese fortune inside. My colleagues and I blew out 300+ eggs, spray painted them gold and rolled up a little fortune for each one that was pushed inside through the hole. Guests were encouraged to crack them open, and it was a real talking point among the tables and was a huge hit with all the guests at the party.  I thought it would be a memorable and quirky detail and that it would help tie together our very loose flora and fauna theme and hubby thought it was fun too. In researching inspiration pics, I fell in love with using quails eggs in table decor and thought they would be much prettier and daintier than using hens eggs. I bought some already blown-out shells for pennies online, but was then faced with how to make them stand up. I looked at mini nests and boxes and all kinds of crazy ideas but nothing was small enough for the tiny eggs. Eventually, I found a picture I’d pinned years ago before even being engaged of these wood-shaving flowers and had a ‘eureka’ moment. They were so delicate and pretty and although some of them were a bit on-the-wonk and wobbly on the day, but ya know, I think it added to the charm. I gave hubby the job of finding the fortunes to put inside, and the idea soon evolved into making them all cat-themed! Some were fortunes, but most were sayings and proverbs. Kind of a silly idea, but it was very ‘us’ and we had a lot of laughs putting them together. To finish, I hand stamped each name in gold ink onto grey card, and voila!

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We named each of our tables after animal and flower pairings – some of the animals had significance to us, others were chosen just because they’d be cute. Using stock images, I traced each one with gold ink onto grey card, and stood them on mini easels. They ended up being one of my favourite wedding details and I plan on framing them or something one day. Our 8 tables were – Leopards & Lavender, Bears & Buttercups, Elephants & Edelweiss, Foxes & Forget-me-nots, Hens & Hibiscus, Giraffes & Geraniums, Puddle-ducks & Peonies and Wolves & Wisteria 🙂Collage5The final wedding craft I want to show you today was my confetti bags. The venue requested we use real petal confetti, which is way more expensive than I ever could have imagined. I bid on some cheap stuff on ebay (meant I couldn’t choose colours, but that’s way to pernickety for me anyway) and then fancied it up with glassine bags (who doesn’t love glassine!?) stamped with gold stars, and little ‘throw me’ tags which I hand-calligraphed in gold ink. These were meant to be paired with order of the day timelines, which I’d had printed on grey textured card and spent ages designing, but the sodding things didn’t turn up in time.

Collage4It’s been fun sharing my handmade stationery elements of our wedding day with you. I’ll be back to show the flowers and other decorative details in another post. See ya soon! L x

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Back to life

My tail is firmly between my legs – I can’t quite believe it was May that I last posted! Where the last few weeks have gone I just don’t know but I hope you can forgive my hiatus, I’ve been busy getting married!

What a roller-coaster couple of months is has been packed with dress fittings and talking flower varieties, drawing up table plans and making confetti bags, stringing origami cranes, designing menus and decorating jam jars and all this alongside lots and lots of sewing….

Well, the wedding madness is over, the bubble has popped and it’s back to earth with a bump. I have so many catch up posts planned to show you some of my recent commissions, and perhaps a few little handmade wedding details too but for now (if it’s not too sappy ) here is a quick flash of one of my favourite pics from the day 🙂

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L xx

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My busy working week

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last blogged, the days are just whizzing by at the moment! To be honest I didn’t have much time to write any posts, and it was kind of a shitty week so any posts would have quite likely turned into a pity party anyway!

DSC_0142Some quilts seem to practically make themselves. It can be a total breeze and I can pretty much zone out and let my hands do the work. Other quilts just seem to simply not want to get finished and that was the case this week! My list of works-in-progress, and to-do quilts was already at 6 (!) and then I got three personalised NOTHS orders through, and these have to be turned around very quickly and so always end up jumping the queue. Usually they are very straightforward to make, but the quilting gods were against me this week and everything was going wrong. My needles kept falling out and breaking randomly, my sewing machine tension went crazy and was looping, and then I made the mistake of trying to make binding with a throbbing headache, and cut all of the fabric straight-of-grain instead of on the bias as I totally wasn’t thinking properly and wasted the whole lot and had to order some more. The list of issues I faced is as long as my arm! There was lots of swearing and and throwing things around and generally being a grumpy so-and-so which meant I didn’t get any pictures of the finished quilts or many good in-progress ones to show you either. Needless to say, it was a relief to get these orders sent off though!

DSC_0159This weekend has been much better though. I got my hair done for the first time in over a year and a half and now I feel all light and spring-like! I’ve also managed to make a start on some blocks for the next custom baby quilt, and am really pleased with how they are coming together. Don’t those foxes make the best print? Hard to stay grumpy when working with awesome fabrics like that. Plus, sewing in the sunshine next to an open window with a sunbathing cat on the window sill is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Very glad to have my mojo back after a bad week. Hurrah! L x

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Letters to Ginger

DSC_0077A couple of weeks ago I posted about the the lost art of snail mail and pleaded for a like-minded someone to become my pen pal so we could send each other exciting mail-things. Little did I know my wish would be granted and on Saturday morning I heard the familiar ‘thump’ of the post hitting the door mat.

Expecting the usual junk I trudged downstairs in my dressing gown and there I found a beautiful hand-sewn bright pink envelope (with sheep on!) beaming up at me. Words can not describe the pleasure of receiving an actual handwritten letter from an actual person, especially when it’s bursting with colour and lovely little details like this was. Not to mention the presents. Yes, PRESENTS! Little acts of kindness from strangers is a truly remarkable thing. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I did a little jig of happiness and proceeded to wave all the different envelopes in the face of my still sleeping fiance. I hope Ginger won’t mind me sharing some of the details from her package so I can truly express my delight upon receiving this beautiful letter. Ginger, you’ve set the bar high with this one, but I can’t wait to try to match it!

letters Collage1DSC_0066 letter Collage 2DSC_0075letters collage 3Someone must have tipped her off about my love for small animals on just about anything. Especially stationery. I’m pretty crazy about that tiny alpaca note paper! 😀

L xx

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Monday musings

DSC_0037fabric Collagecraft Collageother CollageMonday! Here we are again and as per usual you have interrupted my lovely weekend. How rude.

It really was a lovely weekend too, filled with a ton of crafting. Friday was spent whipping up a quick cushion, and then organising my stash and work space. I just love having all my fabrics neatly folded and stacked by colour. Not convinced how long it will last though, but it’s worth trying to be a little disciplined with it ‘coz it looks so purdy! Friday evening was my kind of night in- we finished off the latest series of House of Cards with a delicious pizza and glass of wine – big thumbs up!

On Saturday my bridesmaids came over and we had a perfect girly day decorating jam jars and folding origami cranes with lots of gossiping and giggling in between, even Kira (the cat) was loving all the female company and tried to join in with us. I also had a very exciting mail delivery, but more on that tomorrow! I even managed to squeeze in a spot of paper-piecing last night in front of Erin Brockovich too. Lovely.

But Monday has brought me back to earth with a bump – technical difficulties (this is not the first time I’ve written this blog post, I’ve been trying since this morning!), wasp stings (ouchy), accidental-photo-deletion rage, general grumpiness. Boo.

This week does have two silver linings though – the first being that Issue 6 of Love Patchwork and Quilting is out on Wednesday, featuring a couple of projects by little old me (yeeehaah!) and the second being that it’s Pancake Day tomorrow! Yes Shrove Tuesday I am ready for you! I’m a simple banana and syrup kinda gal, but in case you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, here are a few quirky pancake recipes that have caught my eye.

Indulgent Millionaire’s Shortbread pancakes

Marmite pancakes with onion chutney – love it or hate it?

Pancake samosas with orange citrus filling and chocolate dipping sauce

A twist on a classic – Baked pancakes bolognese

Japanese vegetable pancakes with chilli

What will you have on yours? L x

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Snapshot of a weekend

weekend1weekend3weekend2weekend4Wow, it feels like Spring, doesn’t it? I hope you all had lovely weekends and are all rested up for the week ahead. Happy Monday!  L x

 

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The art and craft of snail mail

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Beautiful package from cardmaker Jessica Witty

I have always had an obsession with stationery. The best part of going back to school after the summer holidays was the annual trip to WHSmith or Staples to buy a new set of pens and pencils (which I’d use to doodle all over my maths book!) and notepads and the like. I’m now in my late-twenties and the same things excite me, although now I’m a little more interested in the paper and design, than the multi-coloured pens*.

*who am I kidding, I still love the multi-coloured pens…

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Illustrated envelope by Naomi of Messages in Bottles

This week I’ve been assembling our wedding invitations and I’ve loved every minute of it! As an ex-stationery designer, I am totally in my element surrounded by paper, paint, calligraphy, ribbon, labels etc. but it’s so much more special doing my own and personally addressing them to my loved ones, and I’m really enjoying putting all the pieces together. It’s taking me a while, but it’s totally worth it knowing how rare it is that people get anything other than bills and junk through the mail these days. I enjoy putting the time and care into hand crafting each one as it’s become so unusual and there’s not much better than a handwritten envelope coming through the letterbox in my opinion. If it makes just one or two of our guests go ‘ooooh’, I’ll be a happy gal.

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Happy mail from Superkitina – Seriously, someone send me mail like this!

Being absorbed by invitation making has really made me miss the personal touch that snail mail has over email. Handwritten letters can really be a piece of art worth treasuring for years.

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Mail envy from Jane Boston

When I was young I would write to friends all the time, and even had one pen-pal in Austria. We would put so much effort and time into each letter, covering it in doodles and cutesy stickers, making little packages of mix-tapes and sweeties and wrapping them in hand decorated paper. Some days I long for those simpler times. I’m pretty sure I’ve kept a lot of these letters as memories from long ago, can’t say the same for emails and Facebook messages.

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Papered Thoughts also has some pretty enviable incoming (and outgoing) mail

So, with Valentine’s day right around the corner, why not take the time to hand make a card, or write a letter to a loved one? Unleash your inner crafty-beast and cover it in doodles and stickers, multi-coloured ink, stamps and washi tape, or just collage the fudge out of it. I can promise you one thing – they’re gonna love it!

Collaged letters from Boheme Circus

Collaged letters from Boheme Circus

Letters are even wonderful in quilt form – check out this gorgeous wall quilt from Hyacinth Quilt Designs. Love it, love it, love it!

Envelope quilt Hyacinth quilts

Tell me you wouldn’t be excited to receive any of the letters above. Anyone fancy being my pen-pal?

L x

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Dusting off the cobwebs

Well, this is embarrassing.

It’s been a year since I last posted. A year. Massive blogging fail.

In my defense, someone put 2013 on fast-forward with no pause button!

Anywho, I thought it was about time I dusted off the saddle and got back on the horse, so to speak. I’m not going to make any promises this time, and I doubt very much anyone is still here, but I do want to give it a good go. I’ve given my online home a bit of a New Year’s makeover, so hopefully the new look will inspire me to pop back more often!

So, what’s new? Well, since last posting, I’ve gotten engaged (eee!) and planned half a wedding, our little flock of hens has increased to four, I’ve started contributing tutorials to some fantastic craft and patchwork magazines, joined as a partner on notonthehighstreet.com, and have found myself some regular graphic design clients too. I’m looking forward to telling you more detail about some of these things, but for now here’s a little look at the last year. Onwards and upwards! L xx

Meet Betty!

Meet Betty!

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