reflections + revelations of a {very} new blogger

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After posting 15 times over the last two weeks I am still feeling very out of my depth!

I believe that I have  a clear focus for my blog…I still do, but am struggling to convey that. At the moment I have more ideas than I know what to do with.

I want to be consistent, to be real and to be relevant. I want to build a {very} small business. I want to improve my blog’s appearence, I want to be part of Facebook, to be part of twitter, to be supportive of the blogging community.

I have just begun and yet I compare myself with very experienced bloggers.

To help myself with a reality check, today I looked at some of my favourite bloggers; I looked at what they posted in the first few weeks of starting their blogs.

If you haven’t done this already, then I urge you to do it NOW. It is a revelation; the best begin in much the same way as we all do. Tentative posts covering a variety of areas and often relying on the beautiful images of others…feeling their way into the job!

I am in no position to point directly at anyone’s first efforts; I looked at very successful blogs and wondered how they started. They did not begin with perfect, polished  posts. They began at the beginning and worked hard to develop their style and substance.

I am also trying to find time to read and comment on other people’s blogs; I have quickly realised that this is a way of getting your blog ‘out there’. I have discovered new to me blogs as a consequence of others liking and commenting on my posts, obviously this works both ways.

I was left wondering which blogs to comment upon; I follow many of the ‘big’ blogs but never feel confident enough to comment. After reading the following I may change my mind!

The Diva blogs are not necessarily any better than anyone else’s. Consider they just got to the senior playground first. Mingle with these bloggers, talk to them, comment on what they have to say. Let your blog stand shoulder to shoulder with them on the blogging red carpet. As I tell my children, quoting from Anthony Robbins, “People’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.”

Staying solely in blog circles with low expectations or without the same aims, will affect the quality expectations you have for your blog. Aim higher!

And when we become fearful about moving forward (because more exposure will mean we are open to more scrutiny), remember – to avoid criticism we must say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.

http://www.hermelness.com/good-bloggers-common

Food for thought!

There are many, many articles offering advice for new bloggers, this one stuck with me! It seemed to pinpoint my fears and turn them into positives.

From http://bloggingwithamy.com/new-blogger-tips/

tips for new bloggers

1. You’re awesome

I mean that. Diving in to this blogging thing is no small feat. Be proud of yourself for becoming more technologically astute. I mean, how many other people do you know in real life who are starting blogs? See? You’re ahead.

2. There is a huge learning curve

We’ve all experienced it. It’s not just you, I promise. Take it slow. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I know it’s exciting at first, but when you start to feel a bit stumped, take a break and come back later. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself nutso. (Ask me how I know.)

3. Google is your (best) friend

I’m bummed I can’t help all of you who email me with questions. But honestly? A lot of the time, I just google an answer for you anyway. That’s my little secret. :) Do it enough an you’ll eventually become a googling ninja and then you can figure out just about anything. (And here’s what I do when I get errors and warnings.)

4. As a new blogger, you’ve got (at least) one advantage

Now don’t take this the wrong way.  I know we all want to be a lot further down the road than we are.  But you are where you are, so embrace it. Don’t get caught up in having everything “just so” or making sure everything is “just right.” One of the greatest things about starting a blog is that you can make all kinds of mistakes and it doesn’t matter because no one is reading it yet anyway. Sure, you could focus on the fact that you don’t have a lot of followers at the beginning. Or you could focus on the fact that you have a lot of freedom. It’s all about perspective.

However, when I consider what I wish to achieve in the blogging world ( as in the real world) the following summarizes  my overiding purpose:

be that girl...

http://imgfave.com/view/1091791

Thank-you for reading and have a good weekend.

needle books + ruffles= the remakery

Each week at the remakery I make a table centrepiece; this week I decided to make a crepe paper ruffle!

Using the tutorial from

http://www.danamadeit.com/2011/05/tutorial-ruffled-streamers.html

The ruffle was easy and quick to sew. Dana’s instructions regarding tension and stitch length were spot on! I did also (as she suggested) hold on to the thread whilst stitching and this really made effective ruffles!

The girls at the remakery loved the ruffle…using it as a headdress and scarf as well as for the intended table decor!

This week we focused on making needle books. The girls chose their own fabrics and used templates to cut out the correct sizes.

Using a simple running stitch down the centre of both pieces of fabric created a needle book!

A piece of ribbon was sewn securely at either end to tie the book together, and the girls proudly displayed a selection of pins and their sewing needle!

I was impressed with how carefully they made their fabric and ribbon selections; for them this was very important!

I also realised, that for them, the work before the actual sewing does not equate with the precision that they want!

I don’t think that ‘perfect’ is important, but they do, and so are often disappointed if their cutting is a little wonky or their stitches are not ‘neat’.

It is a thin line between stressing the importance of the preparation and the importance of creativity, individuality and fun!

I do also recognise that success breeds enjoyment and encourages us to ‘have a go’ at the next project. This is why I want my sewing groups to be about creating an end product and not a series of ‘lessons’.

For next week’s session I let the girls choose between a t-shirt monster, an apron and a bag.

The overwhelming answer was a t-shirt monster…can’t wait…a chance for some real individuality with this kind of project!

Thank-you for reading.

liberty and linen

As promised yesterday I am sharing images of the final stages of my diary covers.

Above is the finished product from the front, below is the inside view

On the whole I am fairly pleased with the finished result; I am always happy with a Liberty and linen fabric combination!

I used the tutorial from http://bloomandblossom.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/journal-cover-tutorial.html.

I found the instructions and images very clear and easy to follow…although I was very slow!

The only thing I changed was the seam allowances; I just find it so difficult to sew .25 inch (6mm) seam so I increased it to .5 inches (12mm)

I am certainly going to have to speed up (hugely) if I am to make 38 of these.

I guess setting up a ‘production line’ would be the best option, and making a template so that I do not have to measure everything 38 times!

I am also thinking of making the covers in one piece and adding a fabric embellishment to the front, rather than this construction which uses two pieces of linen and one piece of cotton. This would save time and would also be more forgiving of errors!

I hope my very important person likes them; I delivered them to his office today…time will tell!

Tomorrow is the third session of the remakery sewing club. We will be making needle books…I am determined to take some photos this week, I haven’t found time in the last two sessions.

a book {cover} deal!

Image credits:

  1.  http://www.etsy.com/listing/86972051
  2. http://www.jcrafts.com/eg/shop/shohin.asp?Shocd=W03262&PageNo=1&bunrui1=12&bunrui2=14
  3. http://www.etsy.com/listing/33364874/fabric-alphabet-book

As mentioned last week a very important person asked me if I might be interested in a book {cover} deal!

The Headteacher at my little boys’ school (very important person!) approached me with a request to make slip covers for the staff diaries!

Somewhere mid conversation I remembered to ask ‘how many?’  Ours is a small one form entry school, I expected the number to be about 15.  I remained calm as the Headteacher replied ’38’.

The temptation was to say ‘oh my goodness no you need somebody much better than me’, instead I found myself suggesting that I make up a sample for inspection.

Since then I have been researching fabrics and styles; I had a pretty clear idea of what I thought would make the perfect cover.

It had to be hard wearing (being lugged around to and from school for an academic year would take a toll), it had to appeal to male and female members of staff, it had to be cost effective ( the question of budget is one that has not yet been discussed!), and I wanted it to be distinctive enough to say ‘handmade’ but not ‘homemade’!

Image credits:

  1. http://www.etsy.com/listing/83123605/
  2. Sincere apologies, I have mislaid the source for this second image; I will keep searching and update post.
  3. http://messyjessecrafts.blogspot.co.uk/2009_08_01_archive.html

As can be seen from the images that I gathered, linen with an accent of some sort is clearly my thing.

The tutorial and inspiration that I finally settled upon is from:

http://bloomandblossom.blogspot.co.nz/2009/02/journal-cover-tutorial.html

Tomorrow I will be posting about my version…a sneak peek :

Thank-you for reading.

haberdashery love

‘Our food is served on mismatched vintage dishes

Our coffee bowls are stacked higgledy-piggledy on the espresso machine.

Our wall is decorated with a mosaic of victorian fireplace tiles.’

Just looking at this photograph engulfs me with joy. It reminds me of Moomah creative cafe in NYC http://www.moomah.com ( subject of my heart’s desire on pinterest!)

The Haberdashery  (http://www.the-haberdashery.com) is ‘an eatery and coffee house’.  It is located in Crouch End, London and I feel so lucky to live within walking distance.

I remember watching progress when the building was first being prepared for its’ current use.

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The signage outside proudly advertised that ‘The Haberdashery‘ would be opening soon. At that point I was giddy with the prospect of a real haberdashery store in my neighbourhood…what bliss.

Soon afterwards it was clear that this haberdashery was to be a coffee-house, and I admit to being so very disappointed!

How wrong could I be. Soon after it opened it 2010 I became a regular.

It has a rustic, vintage, retro feel to it. Tea-sets, teapots and some handmade items are for sale and form part of the eclectic decor; cosy and inviting.

The Haberdashery is populated by mums after the early morning school run, actors (James McAvoy is a regular!), and by Crouch End workers. It really is a ‘local’ for locals and for visitors who come to escape the high street coffee chains.

Homemade muffins are baked in clay flower pots; charming and quirky. Earlier this week I tried the carrot and orange muffins…moist and scrummy.

I recently bought a pretty pink tea-set; I went back three days in a row to keep my eye on it ( I find decisions difficult, and I admit to dreaming about this tea-set!).

The tea-set is now safely home with me, ready to be used for the launch of The Remakery crafty vintage tea parties.

I will photograph it as soon as it actually stops raining long enough to unpack it and position it in natural light; September perhaps?

Whilst on the subject of (lack of) Summer, The Haberdashery has a cosy, bunting decorated back garden. A real sun-trap (as I recall from last Summer), and an escape from the bustle of Crouch End.

Lunches are wholesome and, as with the muffins, perfect washed down with pudding bowl servings of coffee.

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As if it needs anything else to recommend it, The Haberdashery runs weekly (first Friday of the month) Barboot Sales.

In the words of The Haberdashery:

On the first Friday of each month from 7:30 to 10:30pm, the Haberdashery turns into a colourful and kaleidoscopic bazaar with community artists, craftspeople and vintage sellers.

Vintage Clothing, Vintage Jewellery, Crafts, Bric a Brac, Antiques, Kitchenalia, Handbags, Vinyls, Flea Market, Vintage Haberdashery, Art, Jumble and much more…

Cocktails served in vintage tea cups, Live Music and a Garden full of Candles and Fairy Lights…

barboot vintage market

http://www.gocitygirl.com/en/GOFashion/?userId=156&entryId=6226

 

22 Middle Lane
Crouch End, N8 London
0208 3428098

Have a good weekend and thank-you for reading.

olympic posters

Rachel Whiteread London 2012: an official London 2012 Olympic poster

I love this poster (above) by Rachel Whiteread, and I think the title is fabulous ‘LOndOn 2012’.

This is an easy design to be inspired by and recreate…it brings out the school teacher in me!

It is accessible and meaningful; bring on the toilet rolls and paint please!

This poster is part of a series of twleve commissioned specifically for the Olympics and Para Olympics.

The full twelve can be seen here:

The 12 posters chosen to represent the Olympic Games 2012 (Pic: PA)

http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2011/london-2012-olympics-posters/

I guess that I must have a thing for circles ( quite relevant for an Olympic blog post!)

I really like these two unofficial posters from:

http://amoursamar.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/london-olympics-2012-posters/

These can  be recreated and used to represent other sports quite easily by using the rubbers on the end of pencils with either ink or paint, or food colouring…

And this is how they did it when London last hosted the games:

London 1948 Olympic poster

Finally, an alternative Olympic Poster idea, exploring the way in which objects can be orgnised into groups of five

photo

Another example of  art that is easy to connect with, is self explanatory and engaging.

Sarah Hyndman has now committed herself to the Olympian task of arranging five objects in this way every day until the Games start in July.

Follow her creativity here:

http://olympiclogoaday.com/

I am going to try this one out myself…watch this space!

Thank-you for reading.

thrift and find

I love thrifting! The thrill of the unknown…the possibilty of finding something pretty, something useful, something unexpected, something joyful.

I love the variety. There is a whole new collection every few days: no waiting for weeks for new stock.  A buzz everytime.

Today’s little haul was quite a mixture..a a bit of this and a bit of that.

The ‘Make do and Mend’ book is from 1943; a beautiful pink cover and really evocative images.

Two sample pots of Farrow and Ball paint! Such yummy colours and perfect for prettifying some old wooden boxes.

My eyes were immediately on stalks when I spied this Liberty print skirt! Sadly it is a girl’s skirt, and no match for my waist, but the fabric potential is delightful.

Finally three pretty Pyrex bowls to add to my collection…always a joy to find.

Not quite sure how the carrot and orange muffin made it into my basket; I figured that it would make a good photo prop before consumption! Scrummy.

Thank-you for reading.