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Sorry I’ve neglected you!

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I feel a bit sad that I haven’t had time to blog for a while, because I do enjoy it. However I have a good excuse! I have finally sorted out my craft stuff and have been attending fairs! Well, one fair and a fashion show to be exact. The first was on Thursday and was an up-cycled fashion show run by Manchester City Council as part of their watch your waste campaign. It was held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester city centre and was so much fun. I had a small stall where I could display my products, there were a couple more stalls, council people talking about recycling and then a fashion show featuring all recycled clothing. I was worried about if my products were any good and what sort of reception they would get, but people seemed to really like them and now I feel much more confident! The second was a christmas gift and craft fair at the National Trust property where I volunteer. Lots of people attended and again I got some really good feedback. So I have made a new blog specifically about my products and my brand. You can visit it here. I also want to get an online shop up and running to give me something to focus on between fairs!

 

Face on No. 4

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Moving on from vegetables to something everyone really like to eat… Chocolate!

This Peanut Butter Kit Kat Chunky looked so sad that I was about to eat it, and that made me feel sad too. But then I remembered that chocolate doesn’t have feelings and I tucked in. Yum!

Tips on how to sew leather

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p>When I first got my sewing machine, I should have really taken the time to get to know it, what each button and switch did and make easy things out of cotton squares. Did I do that? No. I went straight in at the deep end making bags out of recycled leather coats. Cue broken needles, bunched up material and fabric that would just not go through. This caused many arguments between me and my machine. I would shout at it for not doing what I wanted and it would ignore me because I treated it so badly. Now that we have known each other for a while, we have become friends and I thought to save you all from falling out with your machine, I would post my best tips for sewing with leather. Some I have found out about from other bloggers (Thank You!) others I have discovered from trial and error!

Tip 1: Use a leather needle

That’s obvious I hear you say? Well yes it is, but I tried to sew with a regular needle for ages because I didn’t have any leather needles. It does work and you can get away with it, but using leather needles makes it soooo much easier! They pierce through the material with the sharp spike at the end, so the sewing hole is a little more noticeable, but it is worth it. (They are also quite cheap. I got mine for about £2)

Tip 2: Use a non-stick foot

A regular metal foot can stick to the leather, especially if you are working on the shiny side. A non-stick foot is made out of plastic and will glide across the surface without pulling, making it easier to sew! (Also not very expensive. I got mine from Amazon)

Tip 3: Decrease the pressure

Does your machine have a dial like this? This dictates how much pressure the presser foot puts onto the fabric. Normally, if you are sewing with a thick material, you want a lot of pressure because you want the fabric to be pushed through to the feed dogs (little metal tracks on the base of your machine) which pulls the fabric through while it is being sewn. However, I have found that this can increase how much leather sticks to the foot. If you are able to decrease the pressure of the foot it is less likely to stick. If I wanted to decrease the pressure on my machine, I would turn the dial to a lower number, but it might be different on yours!

Tip 4:  Dont use pins

Pins are really awkward with leather. Because it is so thick, it often doesn’t lie flat after you have pinned layers together, meaning that when you come to sew it, it will be tricky to sew a straight line. Pins can also mark the leather and leave small holes. I prefer to use small bull-dog clips, as they don’t mark and can be repositioned quickly whilst you are sewing.

Tip 5:Use some baking paper

Where I live, we call this stuff baking parchment/greaseproof paper. I don’t know if other countries call it something different, but basically it is the stuff you line a cake tin with to stop the cake sticking. If your leather is still sticking to the bottom of the machine and not moving though, you can put some of this paper underneath it. Just like a cake, this stops it sticking and makes it so much easier to sew. This is a really good tip if you are making straps as often there are many layers so you need a bit of pressure to make sure the material goes through the machine. The only problem I have found with this technique is that afterwards, when you pull the paper away from the leather, because you have sewn through it, sometimes little bits of paper get stuck under the sewing thread. This can be pulled out, it’s just a pain to do the whole length of a bag strap!

And that’s it. Those are the tips and tricks I use, but if anyone has any others I’d really like to hear about them. I hope this post has helped you and now you can sew with leather all day long!

Face on No.3

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Having had computer issues I have failed miserably at my weekly photo challenge! However, I have still been collecting images and can now reveal this weeks photo continuing with the sweet potato theme:

Yes it is an alien in a potato. For all we know it could be an actual alien and in fact, aliens have visited earth but we have just been making them into chips!

Face on No.2

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The other day I was making baked sweet potatoes and saw this little guy;

At first I thought it was an owl, but then I thought it sort of looked like a Ninja! I wonder if a vegan would eat a potato with the face of an owl on it?

Fears,Foes & Faeries

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I recently went on holiday to Yorkshire and had seen an exhibition advertised at Scarborough Art Gallery called Fears, Foes & Faeries that I though was worth a trip to see. Based around a collection from the early 1900’s belonging to a man called William James Clarke, the exhibition focused on superstition and folk-lore and the amulets and charms that people believed would heal them or keep them safe. As Scarborough is on the coast, there were many items related to keeping sailors and fishermen safe at sea and the superstitions that prevented them going to sea. For example, if a sailor met a pig on his way to the boat, this was seen as a bad omen and he would not sail! However, nailing the skin of a kingfisher to the mast would bring a good catch of fish and owning a feather would protect you from getting struck by lightning!

There was also an interesting room about witches with example of ways to banish witches and expose them. One of these examples was this chair that suspected witches would be tied to. I think this one would have just been used for questioning rather than dunking in the river (One way to tell if a suspect was a witch was to dunk them in the river, if they floated they were a witch if they didn’t they were innocent) I thought this was a really cleaver bit of the exhibition and something that I have never seen before (and hope I don’t again!) because it frightened me half to death! The chair was on a wide sort of podium, and the shadow stretched out to the side, when I looked closer at the shadow, this is what I saw:

Yes, there is the shadow of a person sat on the chair, but no person actually sat on the chair! Creepy! This room also looked into the superstitions about faeries, and they weren’t very good. In the past, there were many types of faeries, some were good and would do odd jobs around the house for you if they were left some treats to eat. Others were bad and it was said that a faery could come in the night and steal your baby and swap it for a faery. To prevent this mothers would make a mobile to hang over the baby’s cot to ward away the bad faeries. Trouble was, they were made out of steel knives and to work effectively, the tip of the knife had to be pointing downwards towards the cot. Not sure if I would try that one myself!

There was also a room about charms and medicines to cure illness. Some I think actually could have worked (such as carrying copper to ward off arthritis) others would have not (like wearing a necklace made of acorns to cure diarrhoea!) I suppose at this time, new medicines were being discovered but people didn’t trust them as they had little understanding of the human body. The guide-book also said that people would often hedge their bets and visit a doctor, apothecary and a wise women making it hard to know which remedy would have really made them better.

I really enjoyed this exhibition and I think it’s a good example of how collections can be made accessible and brought to life with good interpretation and exhibition design. There were many interactive elements for children (and adults!) and information that explained the objects, their origins and why people believed in them. It’s on until the 30th September, so there is still a little time left to see it for yourselves!

Face On

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I have decided to start a new weekly post of things that shouldn’t have a face on them but do. This is probably because I have spent too much time with my gran who can see a face in everything (carpets, curtains, trees, the sky, pictures in her calendar!)  So here’s the first one.

It’s a latte that seems to be eyeing up my biscuits! (Get your own biscuits latte!)