Creative Careers, Inspiring Kids & a new record for the Pink Sewing Bus!

This week has been all about Community and Inspiration. Monday  & Thursday I’ve been invited back to Wandsworth for  community sewing as part of the ‘Wandsworth Lifelong Learning – Festival of Learning’ I always find these sessions in public spaces around the area full of surprises while I add a sparkle of glitter to the streets of South West London

Tuesday was a day in a school in Wimbledon for a ‘Cultivate Routes – creative careers workshop’ I must admit I was a bit nervous talking and sewing with 28 kids for the day, but I needn’t have been. The day started with me unloading the Pink Sewing Bus into the classroom in advance of the kids starting the day! I had pre-cut white fabric squares and after a small presentation of ‘about me’ my journey to date, the pink sewing bus, how I get inspired, Architecture and fashion we had some fun playing with the sewing machines and before break time all piled into the pink bus for fun! and yes, we set a new record fitting 20 kids inside!

After a break we set to work creating and designing around the white fabric squares with the theme ‘London and Beyond’ we got busy drawing, cutting fabrics and using ‘Bondaweb Vliesofix’ to fix our applique pictures to the squares and then get sewing! The results were inspired and all so different – see the images of the whole piece of artwork finished result with of course the added brilliance of the janome embroidery!

Sewing with the wives and the #sewingtour begins!

This weeks adventures took me along to the Woldingham Wives group to give a talk on sewing to a wonderful group of women who meet once a month.  My lovely friend Norma Vondee (mosaic artist) had put my name forward and I felt so honoured to be a part of this lovely group for the day. I decided to base my talk around the Pink Bus (obvs!!) and discuss the meaning of why I set up this travelling sewing workshop and my sense for using sewing as a mindful tool.  I explained how the big reason I love teaching is actually not just about teaching the skills of sewing & craft (which I do love) I wanted to make a point that it actually isn’t about the sewing…

I’ve worked with people from all walks of life and the same theme runs throughout: confidence in oneself and in ones ability! I have taught in childrens centres, housing associations, community centres, childrens parties, adults hen parties, and the list goes on… What i see is a transformation…. it’s about sitting in a group and using the tools of sewing to create a space to talk openly and wholeheartedly in a safe and fun space.   People feel more inclined to chat and feel better when there hands are busy doing an activity.   It fills my heart with joy that I am starting to hear more and more involvement in crafts into the health sector.   I believe that Sewing is indeed a mindful practice and I am using the Pink Sewing Bus as a tool to get people on board to spread this message.

The vision was and still is to open up to a wide audience and to create even more of a community spirit especially within hard to reach areas.  I started this blog and called it ‘Sewing Stories’ and this is aimed at expanding community knowledge, showing how joining in with art and craft together brings out stories, and I am currently in the looong process of writing a book that is dedicated to telling these stories and inspiring others that Sewing is indeed a mindful activity.

Another tool for this is the fabulous embroidery machine courteous of Janome, I have been embroidering empowering and fun slogans into the sewing projects. Everyone from Kids to Adults can choose a quirky slogan such as ‘happy heart’ to make lavender heart bunting or even ‘singing in the rain’ on a purse. These small offerings as part of a class are there to spread this message plus as a prompt and conversation starter.

I also love to use the hashtag #sewingmakesyousmile on social media, so do use this in your practice if sewing does make you smile – not only from the outside but from within!

I had a lovely time starting the Hobbycraft Store visits last week in Woking. If you’d like to join me on the Pink Bus for a lovely price of £10 a session plus a £5 Hobbycraft voucher to spend in store… do check out the full listings here:

Reasons to be cheerful:
1. Giving the talk to a great response and spreading my message!

2. Pink Bus Birthday coming up… Turning 1 (more details in another post when confirmed)

3. #sewingmakesyousmile


Sewing away to the big 4-0!

March is the month that includes my Birthday and this year it has been the iconic 40th! WOW what a wonderful celebration it has been including a trip to Venice!

as soon as my walking foot arrives I will do a video but in the meantime….

Easter workshops!

I am so very excited to be sewing on the Pink Bus at Ottie and the Bea on Mondays and Greenwich Market on Thursdays over the Easter break.

Turning 40……

Reasons to be cheerful…

  1. Feeling fabulous at 40! and to all my gorgeous friends for kind gifts, party, cards and wonderfulness!
  2. Lovely family trip to Venice which was the most magical experience ever!
  3. My new after school club at Greenwich Market and the class of 4-7 year olds that are developing… (

Song of the week!

It’s got to be Mambo Italiano!

Sewing for mindfulness

What a difference a swim makes!

I had a lovely meeting this week with HC HQ team on the plans for the year ahead plus how things have gone the year past. I found myself talking about the topic ‘sewing for mindfulness’ which many of you know is a theme that is so close to my heart and indeed the subject for my impending book that is sloooowly being written!  I felt myself discussing this topic (although this wasn’t what the meeting was supposed to be about) and how sewing can bring people together, chat, and in many instances even turn into a group therapy session. This applies to all ages from a rough day at school for an 8 yr old to a group session of quirky adults learning to sew for the first time. What I did find myself saying and thinking was no matter what I always need to be in my own mindful state before even beginning a teaching class, whatever that takes, I always work hard on my own mindful state.
As I mentioned in my last post I have found the start of this year super dooper tough! The weather has been cold and everything has got off to a slow start so I decided to set myself a challenge to make myself feel better! I love to swim and so I decided that every day for 4 weeks I would go for a swim, whatever it takes! That means that sometimes I am up earlier than Julia and at the gym by 630am to get in the pool so I still have enough time to do all that I need to do in a day – and actually it’s not that bad! Most mornings are freezing, I am 1 week in and to warm up I am generally doing a bit of gym as well and this is making me feel great! In turn which is another ‘feel good’ solution is my water intake has gone up as a result of the extra exercise which has given me a lot more clarity in myself and my work.

After school clubs superstar of the week is determined Scarlett. I have no pics from the show yet but I have admired Scarlett working so diligently to get all the outfits created and made for her school fashion show. I know she had worked day & night over the weekend to finish these and in after school clubs on Wednesday we were all set to do hems, buttonholes and finish off!

I had the gorgeous Janome DKS30 special edition all set up with it’s wonderful buttonhole function.  Now.. sewing with slippery fabrics has always had a tender space in my heart. In my time as a designer / maker I would often be partial to using ‘difficult’ fabrics such as Satins, Organzas, Chinese silk, stretch, and of course layers of lovely organza.. So – when Scarlett was having trouble with the button holes on her beautiful Chinese silk dress… The button holes were slipping and getting stuck on seams and overlapping facings, this was so distressing as it was the last thing to go on the dress … And then came the AHA moment.. I used to try all sorts of solutions to help with slippery fabrics in my designer days and I remember a fool-proof one, using paper on the top and bottom of fabrics, creating the stitch and when all held in place, tear the paper away – so at the final part of the class we set the paper up and Scarlett was able to wizz through the button holes without a worry of slipping or the machine getting stuck..

Another week and another Pink Bus Birthday Party. This time we were making outfit for a favourite teddy bear! Each participant brings along their best bunny or finest teddy to create a fabulous outfit! So I spent some time rustling up a range of fabrics (you can never tell what mini designers you have on board so I need to bring a vast range including some of the fab bright fat quarters from Hobbycraft.  Patterns I have created to be scaled up or down as to the size. On arrival and to my absolute delight I was wonderfully welcomed by the 2 mummies in charge of the party, lots of lovely cups of tea and hip hooray no rain as there was in the morning! A fun time was had by all including a pyjama set, an array of colourful net tu-tu’s (made with the circle skirt style) dress with bows and the superstar make was a skirt with a big trailing bustle  of colourful nets at the back! WOW what a design this was…

Reasons to be cheerful

  1. Feeling fantastic as I am now 8 days in to my ‘swim every day for 4 weeks’ challenge
  2. BIlly the Blue (My VW Beetle) passing his MOT with little fuss making life easier for another year!
  3. Making apple and ginger cake that was delicious and enjoyed by all!

Song of the week is not so much a song but rather a scene with music.  In this final scene from the film Billy Elliot it shows this final transformation, a beautiful swan in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.. I get a shiver down my back every time I see this and it’s a wonderful reminder that indeed anything is possible when you put your mind to it, trust your instinct and GO FOR IT!, or go watch the whole film to inspire you!

Sewing stories

This started as the perfect year: 2017 began in Cornwall with some dear friends that truly nourish my soul, I so appreciate the times I get to spend in Cornwall, the vast countryside awakens my inner explorer and cheeky adventurer..  Alas since returning early January I have absolutely struggled with the freezing weather and teaching work has been slow off the mark – it’s been cold and in my little world of sewing, I’ve struggled with being a teeny bit lonely! Driving around in my beautiful vintage pink bus has not been appealing in the ice….. So I have decided to finally start this blog. Each time I post I will add a song of the week (because music is a great healer & up-lifter!) and I will end with my list of reasons to be cheerful which I hope will be happy reading and inspire you to write your own list of cheerfulness!

I do hope to move to Cornwall one day, I have been saying this since my first proper visit there in 2011. I am so inspired for the year ahead and have such lovely friends there. Here’s me helping with the chickens!

So the month of January has moved swiftly along (although not as swiftly as I would have liked!) and there have been some lovely things happening in amongst the boring tasks of tax returns.

We started back with our Wednesday After School Clubs earlier in January and I say ‘we’ as it is the lovely students that come along that really make this group special. Some will stay for a term and others come back time and time again, and this term has been no different. I really love how each personality of student can create a new idea and new inspiration that we all feed off and help. New designs, new sewing techniques and not to mention a wealth of stories from the week that has gone before.
My superstar this week was definitely 10 yr old Astrid who had a Harry Potter themed birthday party and was wearing her Gryffindor cloak that she designed and made in the class! Well done Astrid…. and most of all well done as all of your friends couldn’t believe you had actually  made it! Little did they know that you also took all of your own measurements, laid down paper and created the whole thing from scratch including a hood! I can only take part of the credit as I merely guided her in the right direction – so chuffed!
In other after school club news we have a very glamorous witches costume for the stage, a set of vintage inspired dresses for a school fashion show, a wrap dress and 2 x little pinafore dresses on the go.. not forgetting to mention the power rangers tunic top and trousers! PHEW!!

I was lucky enough to be invited to a house clearance of an absolute craft extraordinaire! What a life this lady had. After her passing the family invited me along to go through her wealth of craft stash and take what I could use in my classes – I had to share these gorgeous Vintage Patterns with my after school club – here’s a snippet…

AND THEN… There was The Hobbycraft Press show!!
It’s wonderful to be invited back again to the Hobbycraft Press Show, run sewing workshops and meet some brilliant press & bloggers.. This time we had an evening event for bloggers and day event for press. As this is a spring show I decided we would make Easter treat bags.. with Bunny Ears! These were such a success that I’ll be rolling them on for Easter workshops soon!

AND PATRICK GRANT!! What a treat to have Patrick Grant there and this time we actually got  to chat and have a laugh while he was doing press shots and general fabulous-ness!

Song of the week:

Islands in the stream Dolly & Kenny: No reason why, I just heard it on the radio and it’s such a good singalong tune!

Reasons to be cheerful:
1) First birthday party of the year last Saturday in the Pink Sewing Bus making awesome skirts and the feedback being ‘ They all loved it and said it was “amazing”!
2) Meeting Patrick Grant (of Great British Sewing Bee fame) and having a chat and a laugh while he was being photographed at the Hobbycraft Spring Show.
3) Having the wonderful company of my little pal Elliot (the pug) with me braving the frost, getting our paws dirty & muddy, going on chores in the Pink Sewing Bus and generally stomping away the January Blues…