A Little Bit of History

I take in museums and places of interest all the time when I’m on holiday, but I never seem to get round to visiting the ones that are near my home.  I live in the Black Country, once the industrial heartland of England, whose grimy factories were built on the rich seams of iron ore and coal found beneath the earth in the 1800s. There are plenty of places here that celebrate the legacy of those times and that I’ve never been to. One of them is the Museum of Cannock Chase.

The museum mostly celebrates the lives of the coal miners and the mining industry. Our little sewing group found it fascinating although we didn’t visit because of the exhibits but because the venue was hosting the Cannock Chase Quilt & Embroidery Festival.

It was an enchanting little festival with a beautiful collection of quilts on display, all made by local enthusiasts. Considering it was the first time the festival was being held there were a surprising number of fabric and notions stalls too.

I purchased some needles from a stall run by John James Needles of Redditch and discovered that the company has been producing high quality needles of all types since the 1840s, and Redditch was once know as the ‘Needle Capital of the World.’ All made possible by the high quality steel being manufactured close by in the Black Country.  Small nuggets of history like that become kind of personal when they’re so close to home, don’t you think?

Angie and I succumbed to purchasing a few bits of fabric which we didn’t need but absolutely had to have. Tracy bought a complete handbag kit, ‘The Juberry Messenger Bag,’ designed by Julie Betts from the Juberry Fabrics stall. She got to work on it straight away and the end result is a fabulous looking bag that only took her a couple of evenings to complete. Which reminds me I’d better get on and make my travel bag soon. I bought the fabrics at Uttoxeter way back in April and haven’t even made a start yet.

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All is Vanity

Angie and I attended a workshop at White Cottage Country Crafts a week or so back.  I do love our ‘away days’ where it’s all about the sewing and there are none of the usual interruptions you find at home.

It’s such a boost when you know there’s someone around to help you with the tricky bits and bolster your confidence when you’re not quite sure on how to go about something.

We can choose a new project or continue with one already started. This time we both chose the same new project – a vanity sewing case. It’s an original pattern by Louise who was also the person presiding over the workshop that day so we thought we’d made a wise choice.

The pattern itself was pretty straightforward and I loved the look of the finished item pictured on the front. We had problems sewing it together though, but this was down to either our choice of wadding or our inability to handle it properly.

We used a foam wadding which does give the vanity case a great shape, it stands up really well, but oh my did we find it hard to sew with. In places I was trying to go through four layers of the stuff plus fabric and lining, and my little machine was really complaining about it. Even though I used a fresh needle, I got skipped stitches galore and had to keep going back to re-stitch gaps – no fun. If I hadn’t had the use of Angie’s machine (the super duper one) to help me finish up I might have given up completely.

If anyone can tell me what machine adjustments are needed to effectively sew through several layers of foam wadding I’d be eternally grateful. Otherwise I think I’m going to avoid the stuff altogether in the future.

After all the hassle I didn’t have the energy to wrestle with machine sewing on the bindings, nor the confidence to think it would work, so I’m in the middle of hand sewing them on for now. That’s slow going too because there’s plenty more things I’d rather be sewing to distract me.

Angie was so unhappy with her finished case she’s relegated it to the back of an upstairs cupboard, never to see the light of day again and certainly not to be photographed! She’s currently working on a new and improved version. Needless to say, she’s not using the foam stuff either this time.

I’ll post pictures in the gallery when we’re finally done with them.

…link to Summer Progress