Pink Bobbins catch-up! 

Hi everyone! It’s been a while… I feel the need to post something…. so here I am with a quick catch-up of the goings-on round here!  I’ve been super busy with my little children’s clothing business, Pink Bobbins, and  I can’t remember the last time I sewed something for myself! So this will mainly give you an insight into Pink Bobbins. Enjoy!

Dinosaur prints are really popular. Annoyingly for me the High Street seems to be cottoning on to little girls’ love for them; I’ve seen dinosaur clothing for girls crop up more and more in stores. Luckily at the moment my dinosaur clothing is still going down well… particularly with customers abroad!  This is one of my most recent skirt and headband sets:

These basic skirts are definitely my best-selling item, in all sorts of prints.  Now I’m also pairing them with matching birthday t-shirts, which have been really popular these past few weeks – so many birthdays this time of year!

The most popular choice of dinosaur fabric is definitely this; girly dinosaurs! These dresses (and skirts) do really well. It’s the only fabric I buy from abroad and I can never keep up with the demand! The long shipping time is frustrating!  

As well as that style of dress, I also make lined pinafore dresses; this Peter Rabbit one is one of my latest and it’s just gorgeous!  I don’t use copyright fabrics but Peter is in the public domain, which is great! 😀 This fabric has been discontinued but new ones are coming next month so I’m looking forward to that! 

I offer a few more styles of dress, including the party dress (pattern by Cottage Mama), which is just so beautiful!  This got a lot of love on my Facebook page!

I also make hair accessories… mostly to match outfits  (you don’t get that on the High Street!) but also sell bow clips in sets; can you guess what uniform these ones match?  

OK one more photo as I love these.. these girly jumpsuits are just the sweetest (pattern by Tadah Patterns; Vintie Overalls).

Aren’t they so pretty?!

So that’s just a snippet of Pink Bobbins… if you’re interested you can always check out my Facebook page and/or etsy shop. Or follow me on Instragram @pinkbobbins – I know some of you do already and I am on there more than I am on here! 🙂

Happy sewing til next time…

Beth x

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Stitching Santa2016

I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas – and will have a Happy New Year!

I’m here to show off my #stitchingsanta gifts.

I’m not sure who sent these as there was no name, so if you’re reading, do own up so I can thank you properly – I’m really happy with your choices so there’s nothing to be ashamed of! 😉

I managed to save my gifts until Christmas Day, and it was really nice to have something to open! This is my haul…

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There’s some beautiful lace applique, destined to be a collar, perhaps on an upcycled plain dress!

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Couture Sewing Techniques – ooh wow, lots of bedtime reading here! I will be a pro in no time 😉

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A beautiful ClothKits skirt kit – the skirt pieces are printed directly on to the fabric so there’s no need for tracing a pattern, cutting a pattern, and all that faff! I love it! I cut the pieces out last night, now they’re all ready to sew up! Conveniently The Monthly Stitch’s January challenge is to sew up some fabric that you’ve recently received/bought before it enters the bottomless pit that is your stash. Well, I’m determined to get this made up ASAP! 😀

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It was also tied up in the cute tape measure ribbon in the first photo, which of course I am stashing!

And finally a good length of this cotton fabric (rubbish rushed photo, sorry) – I’m not sure exactly what it is but it’s lightweight, maybe I will make some summer trousers with it… 🙂

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Well my Stitching Santa gifter certainly did her homework and got me down to a tee! Refashioning, the colour blue, quick & simple dressmaking project, the need to learn some high-end sewing techniques… yay, thank you so much!! ❤

Finally, my giftee has blogged about the parcel she received from me so if you’re interested, do follow this link! 🙂

Happy New Year!

Beth x

 

Christmas update!

Hello! I thought I’d write a quick post as it’s been a while!! I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth! I have been super busy with my little sewing business, with the mad Christmas rush and all that. But I did my last post office run before Christmas today – I’m DONE! For now! Also the courses I run have either stopped til January or finished completely so I feel I have a bit of time to catch up with some blogs! Hooray! So this evening I have painted my nails for the first time in a loooong time, and that’s stopped my picking up a needle! And here I am, writing this.

Along with all the orders I posted today went my rather last-minute Stitching Santa gift. I didn’t have a chance to take photos of what I bought, as I was in a rush to pack it all and get it to the post office! But hopefully my recipient will blog about it, and I will re-blog! Here’s a photo of it all wrapped up though – in some snazzy Christmas fabric, which is a little gift in itself! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Sewchet’s post about #stitchingsanta!)

#stitchingsanta gift

I will of course share what I received after I’ve opened it; it’s all here waiting for Christmas, I can’t wait! Thank you in advance to whoever sent it! (A card arrived the next day; I only briefly looked inside to find that it was from the Stitching Santa sender, so quickly shut it and will re-open on Christmas Day!)

stitching santa

So, do you want to know what I’ve been up to?

In a nutshell: skirts, bows, skirts, bows, skirts, bows…!

I can sew up a simple elasticated-waist skirt really fast, and they look great and are easy to fit – so they sell really well. My customers love that you can purchase matching hair accessories; you don’t get that on the High Street!

I’ll just add some examples – I realise I haven’t shared much at all of my Pink Bobbins creations!

This is a lovely fabric; I sold out pretty quickly (note to self: get more practical black coloured fabric next year!)

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But I think this red snowman fabric was the most popular. I didn’t make a single dress out of it, but plenty of skirts and hair bows!

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Talking of hair bows, I also sell them in sets like this, which are really cute! I like making them because I do them by hand; my bag of pre-cut fabric for bows comes everywhere with me!

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Ooh, a dress! I love this fabric!

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And this is by far my best selling bow fabric (shown here as adorable little bobbles) – mustard foxes!

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I think that’s given you a little taste of Pink Bobbins! I do make more than skirts and bows, but I will share more with you another time.

After all the bright colours I’ve been sewing recently, can you guess what colour I painted my nails tonight? Haha – shimmery black!! I was originally going to go for red (Christmas!) then changed to blue, then… black. LOL. That’s got to say something about me!

Ooh, one more thing before I go – on Saturday night, I actually sewed something for myself!! A Tilly & The Buttons Coco dress (my third!) – I will share soon… ish! I need photos! I cut the pieces out many months ago, and finally sat down to sew it up, I am so happy!

I hope to be back with another post soon, but til then… have a wonderful Christmas!

Beth x

Tilly Walnes ‘Love at First Stitch’ Book Review

I own several sewing books and I have to honestly say this one is my favourite. It’s so beautifully presented; from the bright and eye-catching photography, to the fonts and backgrounds used in each section, right to the back cover.

Image credit; tillyandthebuttons.com

Image credit: tillyandthebuttons.com

It comes with full-size pattern sheets with patterns for five of the designs in the book (Tilly explains how to make your own simple pattern for the other two projects). You do need to trace the patterns as they’re printed on double-sided paper; but this is best practice regardless.

I really like Tilly’s down-to-Earth, ‘chatty’ writing style; the language she uses is easy to understand, even for beginner dressmakers. She explains all the jargon that comes with sewing throughout the book, and adds helpful hints and tips along the way.
The book begins with a little background on Tilly, then goes on to explain how to use the book (i.e. how it is laid out), and there’s just one page on sewing equipment you will need. The book then jumps straight into the first project; a simple headscarf. This is unlike many other sewing books, which tend to have a good chunk of pages at the beginning based on techniques. Instead, techniques are incorporated into each project (which makes each chapter). Tilly makes it easy for the reader to distinguish between project instructions and explanations of key techniques by displaying the techniques on a gridded background, and the project steps on a plain yellow. You can easily skip the technique sections if you’re confident with them already; just look for the plain yellow background. Some may find this slightly confusing, but once you use the book a few times you will most likely get the hang of the layout.

Another difference between this book and others is its fun, fashionable edge. In each chapter Tilly has added a ‘Make it Your Own’ section, where she gives ideas of how you can use the basic pattern and customise it to do just that – make it your own. An example of hers is adding a fabric bow belt to the skirts and dress; she shows you how to make this, too.

Image credit: tillyandthebuttons.com

Image credit: tillyandthebuttons.com

‘Make It A Lifestyle’ is the final section in each chapter; these sections give the reader some inspiration and an insight into Tilly’s own lifestyle and personality. Her background in blogging really comes into play here.

Another idea I love of Tilly’s is the way she sizes her patterns. All five patterns in the book are not sized in the traditional 8, 10, 12… format. She has devised her own sizing structure, labelling sizes with numbers 1 to 8. This encourages you to sew your true size rather than the size you think you are on the High Street – which often varies when it comes to dressmaking patterns. Tilly doesn’t go into much detail about altering patterns, but seeing as the book is targeted at the beginner dressmaker, this is understandable.

I think the one aspect of the whole book that really stands out to me is the quality – and sheer amount – of the photographs. There is a very clear, real photo image (not an illustration or diagram as is common in other sewing books) for each step. For a beginner, especially, this is so important. And if the photos weren’t enough, the clarity of the text should be sufficient. The book is written with true passion, which really comes across and pours into the reader.

I have made three out of the seven projects in the book so far (consisting of one pair of Margot pyjamas, one Delphine skirt and four Clémence skirts), and the construction of them all went swimmingly. The one bugbear I have – and I have learnt others have had too – is the chunky, untailored waistbands on the skirts; it doesn’t suit many figures and does need some alterations to be comfortable if you actually have a waist. Annoyingly, everything looks perfect on Tilly!

Overall, this book makes sewing fun. As a 20-something-year-old, I can see myself making all the projects – which is not something I say about every sewing book! It’s a beautifully written and presented book.

Beth x

Why do we sew?

I wrote this for my journalism course, and thought some of you may find it interesting, so here goes…

Why has sewing become so popular?

It’s no secret that the population’s love for sewing is on the rise. But where did the trend come from? Why are more people than ever now sewing?

Fulfilment/Pride

I carried out a survey on people who sew, simply asking why they sew. The most common answer was the pride that comes with it; the fulfilment gained through making something useable/wearable from scratch. You take a 2D piece of fabric, maybe a zip and a few buttons, and in a few hours you have something 3D that can be worn! There’s no need to find the perfect outfit on the High Street; you can make it yourself. You can’t buy pride; there’s no better feeling than walking into a party wearing a dress you made yourself, with no fear that someone else will be wearing the same.

[I drew a fancy pie chart to show the results of the survey, but I can’t upload it here 😦 ]

Creativity

The second most popular answer in my survey was “I am naturally a creative person.” I don’t know if we as a population are getting more creative but I think we do crave fun in our otherwise mundane lives and we discovered that being creative and sewing is fun!

Therapy

Sewing being relaxing and therapeutic was the third most popular answer in my survey. Sewing takes a lot of concentration; your mind cannot wander when you’re concentrating on where to pierce the needle and which direction to place pattern pieces. It also has social benefits; in teaching sewing, I have come across people who otherwise rarely get out the house, and suffer from various mental health issues. They have told me that their health and well-being has improved as a result of coming to the classes. Indeed, in the sewing community it’s often heard that sewing is therapy.

P1070416Financial benefits

Several other popular answers to the survey were based around money; either making it or saving it.

The recession is to blame for a lot of cut-backs; people became wiser and more careful with money. They stopped buying luxury items – and thought about making them themselves. If you ignore the sometimes high cost of fabric, there is money to be saved by making clothing, home accessories and gifts yourself. If you get clever with upcycling and refashioning unloved textiles, you can create something new from nothing. I’m sure we’re all aware of the influence television has on us; and indeed, programmes such as Superscrimpers, Dawn O’Porter’s This Old Thing, and Kirstie Allsopp’s numerous craft related programmes have certainly seemed to educate the nation on saving money through crafting. It seems that, gradually, the throwaway (or ‘fast fashion’) lifestyle that we have come to live in is changing. We are thinking more about how clothes are made; where they come from; how long we can wear them for.

The Great British Sewing Bee

Since the first series aired in 2013, the sewing equivalent to The Great British Bake Off has been a common explanation to the rise in people learning to sew. In April 2013, The Telegraph reported that sales of a bias binding maker that was featured on the programme were up a massive 230% on the previous week.

Viewers of the final episodes of the show rose between the three series; the second series’ final episode gained almost 200,000 more viewers than the first final did – and the figure continued to grow by the end of series three; this final gained almost 400,000 more viewers than the final of the second series did. This is clear proof that more and more people are joining in the sewing revolution. The fourth series has just begun, and I wouldn’t be surprised if ratings continue to sour.

So why do you sew? Is there a reason that I haven’t mentioned?

Beth x

Talking about death

Hello! I’ve been silent for 6 weeks and now I’m returning with a piece of writing about death. 😀 I wrote this as part of my journalism course; we’ve paired up with Kicking the Bucket, a festival due to be held in Oxfordshire later this year, all about death, living and dying. This post is going to be published on their blog soon, too! I hope it gives you an insight into what support is available if and when you need it.

Lovely sewing blog followers: I am constantly sewing, and don’t have a lot of time to read & write… I will really try to share something with you ASAP!! Time has flown!  🙂

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Cruse Bereavement Care is a charity that supports you after the death of a loved one, and helps you deal with grief. It offers support in a variety of ways: telephone, email, face-to-face, and group support. There is also specialist support available for children and young people who have been bereaved. All support is confidential and free.

Cruse is almost entirely run by volunteers – and my mum, Rachel Clarkson, is one of them. I caught up with her to share what she does, and why she does it.

Since her friend died in 2008 and left behind two young children, Mum’s been a keen supporter of the charity that helped the bereft children – Winston’s Wish. In 2014 she wanted to support the charity further than her frequent donations; but as she has no qualifications or experience in working with children, she looked into working with bereaved adults. This is when she discovered Cruse. She said she was “accepted on the intense 3 month course of weekends and extensive homework – and passed with an accreditation.” Since her redundancy in October 2015, she sees two clients a week who have been recently bereaved.

Speaking more on the training that she received, she said: “The course investigated different ways that death can occur – but we also analysed our thoughts and feelings and reactions to the different ways of death during our role play, which was very emotionally draining. I understood a lot more about myself and life occurrences that I’ve been through. And although we were learning, on occasions it felt therapeutic at the same time.”

So, what does being a bereavement volunteer entail? Mum currently sees bereaved adults face-to-face (although she’s going on a training course in May to become a telephone supervisor, which she’s sure will bring new clients due to the demand for telephone bereavement support). Each client is entitled to six face-to face sessions of 50 minutes each (however these can be extended if her supervisor agrees). She says: “The main aim of our session is to allow the client, with encouragement, to talk about their bereavement and the feelings they have because of it. The initial session tends to be an outpouring of pent-up emotion. The following sessions take on a usual structure of seeing how their week has been and from that, usually delving deeper into something that has happened that week, or going back to talking about the bereavement in general, and taking the lead from the client.”

The consulting room

The consulting room.

Cruse bereavement volunteers see people from six weeks after the bereavement, to several years from it. When I asked Mum why she thought this type of support is so useful, she said: “There are many people that feel that they are a burden to their family and friends by wanting to talk about the deceased person over and over again.” She mentioned that they are often unable to express themselves fully to somebody close to them – but they find talking to a ‘stranger’ easier, knowing that everything is said in confidence, so they are able to truly express themselves. This in itself is good therapy.

I think it must take a lot to talk about very painful subjects yet remain professional. But Mum maintains that the pride she gets from seeing her clients gain in confidence is worth the drain of emotion. She said; “I realised that the time that I give them to talk openly and honestly is invaluable to most clients. I feel humbled that a couple of hours a week of my time is worth so much to people. I would not have paid for the necessary training if I didn’t enjoy helping my clients.”

So if you think you might need some help dealing with your grief, or you’re interested in helping others deal with their grief, I’m sure Cruse would be pleased to hear from you.

Beth x

London Fashion Week 2016… Where’s the fat?

Just to explain why you’re seeing a post that isn’t about me and what I made. This is part of my journalism course. Thoughts on London Fashion Week! 🙂

 

London Fashion Week 2016 is over; we’ve seen all the stunning skinny models swaying down the catwalk. Key word: “skinny”.
Why are they still so thin? It seems that in 2016 we are still seeing no change in the image of models – models showing us what clothing to wear and who to be.

The Guardian - London Fashion Week

Image credit: The Guardian, Feb 2016

I’m aware that anorexia and other eating disorders are not all about body image and wanting to be fashionably thin, so I’m choosing not to go that far into the health side of things. But we can’t ignore that our general self-esteem is influenced by celebrities and models looking unbelievably gorgeous and stick-thin – you can’t argue with that! Everyone compares themselves with what/who they see on TV/online/in magazines to some degree. It might not make you ill, but it can make you feel rubbish. Even my preschooler looks at a picture of a thin blonde in a magazine and comments on her beauty. Disney’s probably got something to do with that, too, but that’s beside the point.

Is it fair to be made to feel fat and ugly when you’re so much as a smidgen above a size O? No, surely? Yet we are still being exposed to images of people who are not actually normal!

the guardian feb 2016 lfw

Image credit: The Guardian, Feb 2016

As reported in the Evening Standard, Carole White, co-founder of London’s Premier Model Management has even admitted that designers only want “young, flat-chested girls”, who will flatter their clothing; the clothes should “fall as they were designed to”. “The designers want straight up and down – no boobs,” she says. Carole’s agency “scouts in schools” because she says the girls that labels want are “really young”.
So do we blame the designers? Are they limiting the type of models the agencies can use?
Call me pessimistic, but if it’s due to the big designers designing clothing only suited to young, slim, straight up and down body shapes, I personally don’t see them changing any time soon.

lfw the guardian feb 2016

Image credit: The Guardian, Feb 2016

The good news is that somebody (specifically a gentleman named Marc Levine) is trying to do something about it. As reported by Reuters, on Monday, Levine (a California state assembly member) proposed a new law to ensure that a physician certifies models to be healthy before they take part in fashion gigs. Modelling agencies could be fined under the proposed law, if they are found to hire models that are found to be underweight or suffering from an eating disorder.
Personally I think it’s quite a good idea and similar laws are already present in Madrid and Israel. If passed, perhaps the UK will adopt a similar stance. Hopefully it would help to prevent teenage girls from aspiring to be like the super-thin models currently walking the catwalk. But if the designers carry on designing frocks with no room for boobs and bum… what choice will the modelling agencies have?

You know what I think? I think the designers would look so good if they targeted their clothing at “bigger” (aka “normal”) figures. Imagine the attention they’d get from the press, the media, little old you and me. But they’re too dead set in their ways to care about changing.

 

The long and short of it is this: The fashion industry as a whole is to blame for the low self-esteem of girls. That’s unlikely to change. I will eat my hat if there’s a model with a bit of shape on her in the next LFW. It’s a sad thing, but I can’t see it changing its whole image any time soon. The fashion industry is in a league of its own. Campaigners are getting nowhere!