A week or so ago I had quite an extraordinary day. I took delivery of two wonderful sewing machines, within an hour.
Because we have been living abroad, ever since my mum passed away four years ago, I have had a storage unit full of an assortment of furniture and belongings from her house and ultimately from my childhood home. Now that we are back in England, I was anxious to retrieve all this stuff and when it arrived, despite feeling a little heavy of heart, I was both happy and sad to see so many things from both my parents and grandparents homes. One of my most favourite things was an original 1950's ercol dressing table that used to belong to my grandparents. Beautifully made, it was every bit as lovely as I remembered and when I opened the drawers, the smell of that happy holiday seaside house wafted gloriously around the bedroom. I was a bit concerned about how exactly such a piece that is so much of its time might fit into our 1825 house, but I shouldn't have worried - it looks totally fab!!! It reminds me of the days of steamer trunks and grand ocean liners, afternoon tea dresses with hats and gloves and pearls and days when people had a little more pride in everything. I feel like it gives a rather sophisticated look to our room and makes me feel as if I should powder my nose and put my lipstick on every morning. We are constantly bombarded in magazines with the idea that everything in our homes today should be themed and matched and ultimately disposable when we get bored of it. However, sometimes its worth to keep these old peices, reuse and give them a new life - recycling at its absolute best, I should think.
The other things I was especially keen to see again was my mum's Singer sewing machine and my grandmother's sewing table. I learnt to sew on this machine, my mum made us many things on this, including my sister's wedding dress and a taffeta ballgown for me with a boned bodice. What struck me most though, was how these 'work horses' were an integral part of the household in a way that I think sewing machines are not anymore. It was used to repair and remake things, to produce those Oh so lovely grey school uniform tunics and gym bags and so very many mundane things that were so necessary for everyday life. I wonder what my grandmother and mum would make of the sort of sewing I am doing - patchwork, applique and embroidery - it seems all rather whimsical doesn't it. I had a few tears when I first saw it - but now every morning it makes me smile. It weighs an absolute ton, hasn't got a scratch on it and the wheel turns with a contented purr like it is made to last forever. It is a superb piece of engineering and for sure it will see its newest rival off in the years to come.
The new intruder in the sewing room is my much hankered after Janome Horizon 8900QCP. Thank you to my darling, who never batted an eyelid at its arrival, which was announced with squeals of delight!! I confess, my main motivation in choosing this machine, is the extended 11" arm space which will make quilting those large projects, so much easier. But.... but.... it does soooooo much more. It is an absolute dream machine of the first order. I am still learning about all it can do, but I can say this - it is quiet, high tech and stitches absolutely effortlessly. Perhaps my very favourite thing is the automatic thread cutter - no more threads all over me and the carpet and the cat!!! not to mention wrapped around the hoover!!
So my sewing room is filling up and yesterday another wonderful addition - a design wall. Previously I had one of those 'Clover' design sheets pinned up with drawing pins and it worked well enough in our house in Sweden. However, I felt a more tidy solution was called for now we have a permanent home and after wandering around the DIY store, I wasn't at all sure what it could be. Then out of nowhere, I had the idea to use an artists canvas. I found that I could actually buy two 140 x 70cm canvasses - the perfect size for my 150cm square sheet and with some small metal brackets to fix the two sheets together, it was done.
Then I simply cut a large piece of batting to lay on the surface and put my design sheet over the top and tacked it to the underside of the canvas so that it was tight. Although its large, its light and plenty strong enough for me to pop up all the patchwork blocks that I am working on. It's a relatively cheap solution to something that is crucial if you are a quilting nut!!! Its totally perfect!
So things are shaping up in the sewing room.... a tour of which will be forthcoming, but I am not quite ready to show you yet. Just before I go, a word in your ear if you are looking for a new project - there is a quilt along going down at Sara Lawson's blog www.sewsweetness.com - it's Alison Glass' Tessellation quilt, which in my opinion is rather like a peice of modern art. I saw the buzz about it on Instagram and actually I liked the word 'Tessellation' so much that I went to have a look (I confess I had to look up the word to see what it actually meant). I have decided that its the perfect 'University' quilt for my William - but whizz along there and see what you think - its modern and funky and .....paper pieced - Ouch I hear you cry!! not at all - there are clear and easy to follow instructions and if you have never done foundation paper peicing before, I promise you, it's a revelation. Stitch along with me and everyone else and watch it all come together on instagram, Sara's blog, my blog and well.... everyone's talking about it.