Tuesday, 13 December 2011

New arrivals!

There are few new arrivals in the shops that we thought you might like to see...
First up are these delightful prints from Riley Blake:
The combination of orange, blues and browns is fresh, and would be perfect for any number of sewing projects for little (or big!) people.

Secondly, we are now stocking these delightful blue, white and red print fabrics from Westfalenstoffe:
I have the perfect quilt design in my head for these - they have a beautiful Scandinavian feel to them.

And last but by no means least, we are now stocking a range of the hugely popular Colette dress and blouse patterns:
If you read any sewing blogs, then you are bound to have seen some of these beautiful patterns made into gorgeous dresses. Here are a few of my favourite examples of finished Rooibos dresses:
Ruby Slippers

If you would like to get your hands on any of these items, then do call the shop (01373 464650). Did you know that you can now leave details of gifts you would like to receive? The perfect answer if your friends and family aren't sure what you might like! Just ask in store to add some items to our gift list book.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Freemotion Machine Embroidery

Hi! It's Angela here. I would love to tell you a bit about my Freemotion Machine Embroidery classes. Let me tell you a little about a class I recently ran...

Freemotion Machine Embroidery is a technique where you use the sewing machine to draw - the needle and thread act like a pencil and you can produce some exciting and unique work. Alternatively, it's a way to add your creative touch to finish off your projects. It's only once you begin to experiment and practise with freemotion embroidery will you become confident. Don't expect perfection! It's generally the wobbly lines and imperfections that make the work stand out.
We begin the class by attaching the embroidery foot and setting up the machine. The clever thing about this technique is that you generally have everything you need already. Once that is done, we dive right in with different techniques to build your confidence and control over machine. You are also shown techinques on how to 'colour in', how to sketch and follow intricate designs. Once you are happy with the techniques, we use them to build your own picture design.
In this particular class, we had a range of abilities and ages, who used the technique in diverse ways - to build a picture, to create text and to apply surface pattern. I was very impressed at how quickly everyone adjusted to the technique and also their enthusiasim for it - some even worked through lunch!!

The next Beginner's Freemotion Machine Embroidery class is on Sunday 22nd Jan 2012 from 10.30am to 3pm and costs £55 including materials. Do call the Frome shop if you would like to book a place in a class (01373 464650).
Rosie was really pleased with her finished owl!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Introducing... Becki Noble

Becki will be well known to most regular customers of Millie Moon. She co-owns the shops with her sister Rachel. It has taken us a little while, but we've tracked Becki down, and interrogated her. Read on to find out more...

1) How did you learn to sew?
I have always been crafty (I think I came out the womb with a glue stick in my hand!), but I can't really remember when I started stitching. Whilst doing my art foundation course, I realised it could be more than just a guilty secret thanks to a very enthusiastic tutor, who persuaded me to do a fashion degree. (Much to my parents' horror I think, though they never said. I wanted to be a sensible teacher before that!)

Becki really enjoys cross stitching.
2) What sorts of things do you like to make?
I love projects that I can do in an afternoon. If they take too long, I get bored and something else comes along that I have to do right away. My home is full of unfinished projects that I have to make myself finish when I run out of space. I have recently re-found my love for dressmaking, due to our lovely tutor Anne, but again it has to be quick and simple. I must admit that I have a passion for cross stitch. I love the fact I can pick it up and put it down, but again it's got to be small pieces. On a recent romantic trip to London, my husband was shocked to find me get it out on the train (the cross stitch that is!) and very quickly pretended not to know me! I'm not very good at photographing anything, which I must start doing, so can I have a camera for Christmas, please Santa?

3) What gadget could you not live without having?
I don't really have a favourite sewing gadget or supply, I am not terribly loyal to anything as I don't look after my tools. They tend to be scattered around the house, which I know is bad. I do love a good magazine, but read so many I wouldn't know where to start. I guess I would be lost without an unpicker and my daughter's critical eye. She always gets it right when I can't decide.

4) Who or what inspires you to create?
I am really into the whole Scandinavian look at the moment and keep stroking the pile of classic Westfalenstoffe fat quarters that I have got from the new range that has just arrived in the shop. I have a terrible habit of not being able to cut my latest fabric purchase, as no project is ever good enough for them! Until the next bundle comes along that is!

Thanks so much for talking to us Becki! We look forward to seeing you in the shop soon.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Blog Review: Make Me A Dress

From quilting to gorgeous vintage-style dresses! This week's blog review takes us to see the delights of Make Me a Dress.
Alexandra's Pink Elephants dress
©Alexandra King
Alexandra has been blogging since late 2008, and her posts record the development of her online bridal and womenswear label, Make Me a Dress, but the blog is so much more than that. Her vintage dress designs are completely inspiring, and the photography is absolutely beautiful as well.  Alexandra takes inspiration from a wide range: 'golden age' couture, old movies and 1950s fashion, and a love of bows.

This is one of Alexandra's many
inspiring dresses ©Alexandra King

Alexandra has just started using Millie Moon fabrics in her designs and is a big fan of the Michael Miller prints which work very well with the style of dress she makes. Recently, Alexandra has made a beautiful dress with Michael Miller's "Pink Elephants" including a rock 'n' roll petticoat. The dress is currently on display in the Wells shop and will be moving to the Frome window very soon.

Girl's dresses also feature trimmings
from Millie Moon ©Alexandra King
Anna Vickery also works with Alexandra, and she has just whipped up some adorable girl's dresses. Do you recognise the lovely buttons on this lovely bright paisley dress?

Next year Alexandra has kindly offered to do two workshops with Millie Moon in the Wells shop. Choose from, rock 'n' roll petticoats and 50's swing skirts. Please see our website for more information.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Charm pack quilting

We now have a nice selection of Moda Charm Packs in both Frome and Wells, so we thought we would show you a quilt that Jen A-C, one of our customers, recently completed.
This is a simple quilt, made using the Disappearing Nine Patch design (the link takes you to a basic tutorial on creating this design).

2 Moda Sophie Charm Packs (or 81 x 5" squares),
30cm of pale cream fabric for the framing border,
1m of brown spots for the main border and binding,
1.5m of wadding
1.5m of red gingham for the backing.

These materials make a finished quilt that is approx. 125cm square. This is a reasonable size to machine-quilt without needing a special long-arm quilting machine. Jen quilted hers using the shadow technique, with lines around each of the blocks in the centre panel. She quilted the border more densely, with parallel lines every cm or so. The finished quilt is already in much demand in her sitting room!
You can read more about Jen's quilt over on her blog: JenACKnitwear's Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt
Do call the shop if you would like the supplies to make your own quilt (01373 464650).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Introducing... Angela Lai Yen

This week we are delighted to tell you a bit more about Angela! We caught up with her at her studio at the Black Swan.

1) How did you learn to sew? Is it something that you've always done?
I really can't remember when I started sewing, it sounds like a cliché, but I've been sewing for as long as I can remember.  When I was little I didn't like hand-sewing as I couldn't stand the feel of felt! I do however remember doing lots of cross stitch and that was all self taught. I just muddled through it - you should have seen the backs of my stitching - it was a right old mess!

2) What is your favourite type of sewing project?
I love freehand embroidery. It's like drawing with the sewing machine. It's quite difficult to get to grips with but if you keep at it, the rewards are endless. I find I still stumble across new techniques and ways to create images. I love that you don't lose your individual style and messiness is good, as it all adds to it.

3) How did you come to work at Millie Moon? And what do you enjoy most about being part of team Millie Moon?
Becki and I we used to work together in a non-creative job. She would juggle that job with trade fairs and the beginnings of Millie Moon, whilst I would every so often dash off to do various workshops. Back then she would say to me, "So when are you going to do workshops for me". One day I pulled my finger out and the rest as they say is history. The best thing about being a part of the Millie Moon team is that because we all come from creative backgrounds, we are really supportive of each other. We bounce ideas off one another, and ideas of all sorts are continuely flowing. Becki and Rachel are great - they are not afraid to try new things and have interesting ideas of their own. They have such vision its really inspiring!

Angela runs classes to make freehand-embroidered plaques
4) What gadget or tool could you not live without for crafting?
Without a doubt it would be my silver stork scissors. They are small, sharp and really useful for snipping as you sew. Once I lost them, along with a lovely tin I had full of pins, I was devastated. Now I always store them somewhere safe.

5) Who inspires you? And why? - Tempting links ahead warning!
As well as textiles and sewing, I love printmaking and I'm forever finding new people who inspire me. At the moment I'm enjoying the work of printmaker Angie Lewin. I love the earthy colours in her work and she takes the floral theme and infuses it with a comtemporary aura. 
I also adore the intensely detailed and decorative screen prints of Clare Halifax, you have to see her work in the flesh to really appreciate it. Every so often I will wonder over the Rostra and Rooksmoor Gallery in Bath to gaze at them. Highly recommended. 
Laura Amiss is an illustrator and designer that I have newly discovered from Holland. Laura works with textiles to produce delicate handmade canvas inspired by the everyday.

Thanks so much for talking to us Angela! If you would like to see more of Angela's work, then you can visit her blog (Angela Lai Yen) or pop in to either the Frome or Wells branches of Millie Moon, and she also has a studio at The Black Swan in Frome. If you would like to try your hand at Freehand Embroidery, then Angela runs regular workshops in Frome. Do call the shop for more information, or to make a booking (01373 464650).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Blog Review: I'm a Ginger Monkey

As we were updating our blog list (on the right of the main blog homepage), we thought we would explain what makes our favourite blogs so special.

First up is I'm a Ginger Monkey. Monkey Do (AKA I'm a Ginger Monkey) is a blog of pure quilting enthusiasm. Katy shares her projects and designs with a sense of joy that is dangerously infectious.

This recent quilt is particularly stunning, isn't it?
zombie constellation
Katy made it with her own adaptations, starting from a design in Issue 5 of Fat Quarterly.

There are many reasons for making I'm a Ginger Monkey a regular blog read, but over and above the regular posts, there is also a wealth of information in the tutorial section. It contains downloadable instructions for some lovely projects and techniques. The instructions on binding a quilt are among the clearest we've seen, and we're loving the quilt designs as well. The instructions and photography are clear, leaving no questions about how to carry out each step.

Katy also does regular reviews of the latest fabric lines and gadgets. Her posts regularly send us scurrying off to check out the newest arrivals from our suppliers. She visited Quilt Market in the States just last month, and her round-up of booths left us more impatient than ever for next season's fabrics to arrive.

Finally, Katy is part of the team at the modern quilting e-zine, Fat Quarterly. If you haven't heard of FQ, then, do head straight over and download an issue. It's a must-read for quilters wanting to try new ideas and hear about the latest products.

Which blogs to you read regularly? Please do let us know.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Introducing... Vickie Piper

Vickie is absolutely the newest member of the staff team at the Frome shop. She shares some of her crafting loves with us...
1) When did you first get bitten by the crafting bug?
I suffered through needlework classes at school, and it wasn't until I went to the local comprehensive school that we were allowed to design our own projects. I made a pink satin cushion in the shape of a scalloped shell. I loved it, and they put it in the cabinet in reception!

I then had a bit of a break until I became a Mum, and was inspired to start making things again. I wanted fun, funky things for my son, and decided the best way to do that was to make my own.

2) What sorts of things do you like to make?
I mostly make things for children, and particularly for boys. I love to make presents for friends and family - soft toys, dressing up outfits and all sorts really. I recently developed a bag to use on the front of my son's scooter. He uses it to keep things in while he is out and about. They have been really popular!

Vickie's Scooter bags have been a real hit!
3) Which tool is indispensable in your sewing kit?
I am completely in love with disappearing ink felt-tips. They are the most brilliant invention ever! We sell them in the shop, and I use them for marking out before I cut fabric, and particularly felt. They are super for small appliqué projects as well. You can use them for any type of marking on fabrics and I wouldn't want to be without mine.

4) Who inspires you creatively?
I really enjoy reading other people's blogs. Even if I don't do their craft, I love to see what people are up to. One of my favourites is Male Pattern Boldness. He's a New Yorker who sews up wonderful creations from vintage dress patterns - often for himself.

I also love Mollie Makes - the new craft magazine from Future Publishing. I find it really inspiring reading. It's like a blog digest, with ideas from all round the world.

If you want to keep abreast of Vickie's crafting adventures, then check out her blog: Fromemaid. Vickie also Tweets as Fromemaid. She is also booked to run some crafting workshops in the new year, so keep an eye out for the new season's workshop programme, or call the shop (01373 464650) for further information.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Introducing... Gaynor Ringland

Gaynor has been running workshops at Millie Moon for a couple of years, and has recently joined the team working in the Frome/Wells shop. We caught up with her to find out more about her sewing habits.

1) How did you learn to sew? Is it something that you've always done?
Ummm... I'm afraid that I taught myself the basics, but my Mum did show me how to do embroidery when I was a girl.

2) What is your favourite type of sewing project? Do you have a picture you could share with us?
I really like to make collages using paper and fabrics. I love the combinations and the different textures and messing around until they look good (see picture below).

3) How did you come to work at Millie Moon? And what do you enjoy most about being part of team Millie Moon?
I am the new girl! I have been running workshops for Rachel and Becki for a couple of years and I supply the shop with some of my goodies (finished collages as well as collage kits). I was so glad when they asked me to be part of the team, as I love spending time in the shop. It's very inspirational!

4) What gadget or tool could you not live without for crafting?
Well I suppose my main tool is my sewing machine. I'm not very good with gadgets as I am rubbish at reading instructions. I just want to get on with it!

5) Who is your favourite fabric designer/ textile artist/ sewing-related person? And why?
I love Abigail Brown's fabric birds (follow these links at your peril - this is a temptation warning!), they are gorgeous. Also, Tamar Mogendorff makes lovely birds and houses. Anyone that makes birds is a winner, oh and Poppy Treffry, I think her work is very distinctive and very English.

6) Where can we see more of your work?
You can find my work in Millie Moon shops in both Frome and Wells, and I shall be at the Christmas at the Barn in Mells at the end of November.

Finally, Gaynor runs workshops regularly, so keep an eye out for the new timetable and do call the shop (01373 464650) to find out more!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Introducing... Rachel Le Page

Have you wondered who makes the quilts? Which team member creates wonderful collages? And who loves nothing better than to bake cakes?
Each week we will be interviewing a member of Team Millie Moon, and all of the answers will be revealed!

Rachel will be a familiar face to most Millie Moon customers, as she owns the shop jointly with her sister, Becki. We caught up with Rachel in the Frome shop, and asked her about her sewing habits...

Rachel loves to bake... and quilt!
1) How did you learn to sew?
I had needlework lessons at school when I was growing up. They weren't very inspiring, and the projects were mostly pretty horrid. But it must have sparked something in me, as I started to make things at home. I borrowed my Mum's sewing machine, and made clothes. I remember, I must have been about 14, and I used to lay dresses onto fabric and cut out pieces. I didn't know what I was doing, but I enjoyed it.

I then had a break for quite a few years before picking up my sewing needle again, about 8 years ago, when I had my first child.

2) What sorts of things do you like to make?
Cakes! I adore baking... Oh, sorry, did you mean sewing?

I mostly make quilts. I love combining fabric for specific projects - making gifts for friends and family. I rarely sew for myself, and I lack the precision needed for dressmaking!

3) What gadget could you not live without having?
Rachel made this quilt for her niece
Undoubtably my rotary cutter. It's brilliant for cutting pieces for patchwork. It gives me precision. I love it!

4) Who inspires you to create?
At the moment I'm having a hard time holding myself back from the new Aneela Hoey Little Apples layer cakes. They are absolutely gorgeous! I think they would make a wonderful quilt for a child or an adult. I'm also a big fan of anything Scandinavian. I adore the Tilda fabric range - such simple beauty.

Rachel also looks after the Millie Moon Twitter account (@MillieMoonShop), so do say hello and share pictures of what you've been making either on our Facebook group, or on Twitter.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Tape Maker: My favourite gadget

I want to sing the praises of Tape Makers. They take all of the fiddle out of making (bias) binding.
These handy little gadgets can save your fingers from the perils of the iron! I own 3 different sizes, from 50mm to 18mm, and I use them all the time.
The instructions that come with the tape maker will tell you how wide you need to cut your fabric for each size. Just in case you've mislaid your instructions, here is a reminder:
6mm tape = 13mm fabric
12mm tape = 25mm fabric
18mm tape = 36mm fabric
25mm tape = 48mm fabric
50mm tape = 96mm fabric

The only tricky part is getting them threaded in the first place, but I've discovered that if you cut a bit of taper into the end of the fabric strip, it makes it simple. You just feed the end of fabric in, and use a pin to help work it through, if needed.
Once you have some fabric appearing out from the other end, pull a little through, so that you are past the tapered section.
You then pull the tape maker along, and press the tape with your iron as it comes out the end. You can really get some speed going with this handy gizmo!
Fabric to tape in a jiffy!!
I love this shot of my long strip of fabric in the foreground, with the newly made tape in the background.
I used 10 jelly roll strips, trimmed to size, and this made binding for all 3 of the quilts in my jelly roll post. Once the strips were sewn together, it took maybe 5 minutes in total to turn them all into tape. Gone are the days of burnt fingers!
And voila! A whole roll of finished tape. I'd better get on with quilting those crib quilts hadn't I?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Jelly Roll Love

Jelly rolls have been literally flying off the shelves in both Frome and Wells, so we thought we would share some jelly roll quilt ideas with you.

First up, what is a Jelly Roll?
It's a set of strips of coordinating fabric, that are cut and ready to use in a range of projects. Strips are 2.5in/approx. 6cm wide, and are the length of the width of the fabric (so usually approx. 44in/112cm). The number of different fabrics in a roll depends on how many fabrics are in that range, or simply on the size of the roll.

Which fabrics come in rolls?
We're really pleased to announce that we are now Moda stockists, and will be getting our first proper shipment in the new year. Whoop, whoop! In the meantime, we have a couple of Moda Sophie Jelly Rolls (top right in the picture above), and some Rooftop Garden Charm Packs to keep us out of mischief. Do call the shop if you would like either of these (01373 464650).
We have a good supply of Westminster Fabrics rolls as well (see the selection in the picture above). There are plenty to choose from!

What can I do with a roll?
The possibilities are endless. Rolls can be used in so many ways, so here are a few simple ideas to get you started...

Striped crib quilt
Sew the strips together, and add a simple border, to make a striped quilt top. I joined 14 strips, and then cut the piece in half to make two crib quilt tops. Simple!

Weekend quilting idea
This quilt was completed over the weekend, but probably only took a total of 7 hours (including hand-sewing the final edge of the binding).
It is a simple design, so here are the instructions:
Put together 3 sets of 5 strips.
Join each group of 5 to make long striped rectangles, and then measure the width, and cut the rectangle into 4 squares. My rectangle was 10.25in wide (26cm), and I cut four 10.25in squares from each piece.
I then laid out the pieces so that the squares alternated between horizontal and vertical, and joined to make 3 strips of 4 squares. Those strips were then joined to make the rectangle pictured above.
I added a 4in (10cm) border around the outside, and then basted the quilt top together with wadding and a plain orange backing.
I tend to use simple geometric shapes for quilting, and here I just followed the edges of the squares, around 0.5in (1cm) from the edge. This is a really forgiving quilting method. If you quilt "in the ditch", then it's really obvious if you stray even a little. When you move out by a little distance, then no-one will notice if your quilting lines are slightly less than perfect. I finished the quilting by sewing around the outside border - again at the same distance from the actual seam.
There were plenty of strips left over from the roll, so I trimmed them down to use for binding. You can see that the colours change around the quilt border - you could keep to one side more coordinating colours, but I like the contrast effect!
So from my one jelly roll, 0.5m of border fabric and 2.5m of backing, I have 3 quilts! Two small crib quilts (27in x 33in/69cm x 84cm) and a larger child's quilt (38in x 47in/97cm x 120cm). Not bad for a weekend of sewing, is it?

Do you have any Jelly Roll hints and tips?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Spooky new arrivals!

Halloween is just round the corner! Where has the year gone to? I think that we've been too busy having fun in the new shop and sewing away all of our spare minutes.

There are some lovely spooky fabrics in the shop, as well as little pumpkin brooch kits and the perfect embroidery flosses for a Halloween crafting fiesta!

If you are looking for craft activities for younger children, there is a Halloween craft workshop on 26th October with Gaynor, which is perfect for little ones from age 5 upwards. Do call the shop (01373 464650) or drop in to book a place.

It isn't all spooky crafts though... There are some delicious new fabrics in store as well. These new prints from Joel Dewberry are among my favourites.

The birds on the turquoise background are absolutely delightful, aren't they? I am sorely tempted to whip up a skirt using this - maybe paired with one of the new fine corduroys. What would you make with these?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Welcome to Wells!

I can't begin to explain how excited we are to be the proud owners of a new shop in Wells!

You will find the new show at 14A Broad Street, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2DN, and we are stocking lots of beautiful fabrics and haberdashery supplies.

We have a great range of jelly rolls, charm packs and other quilting supplies, as well as a selection of fabulous pattern and crafting books. If you are in the area, please do stop by and say hello to us!

We will be dividing our time between Frome and Wells, and we are delighted to have Anne, Angela, Gaynor and Vicky working across the two shops. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some more information about the expertise of our team, so if you have a question you would like to put to one of us, then please do leave a comment. Hope to see you soon!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Kids Birthday Parties

Sundays Birthday Party

Millie Moon's birthday parties are creative fun. Once the 'Happy Birthday' bunting goesup, out come the boxes of colourful socks, felts, and buttons. Here aresome pics from the latest party. A group of 8 year old girls had a fabulous time making cuddly sock monsters. All individual, all with different characters to match their makers.

The finished monsters