Category: Classes

Jan 12

Hearts & Garlands



Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. I don’t usually give it a huge amount of attention. 2012 is slightly more interesting though because it’s a leap year when girls are traditionally entitled to pop the question.

This set me thinking about unusual and ingenious declarations of love. Well, how about making a garland which speaks your mind? You could sneak in a secret message, hide a billet doux (‘Be Mine!’) amongst a string of pretty paper hearts. Or forge hearts out of meaningful papers: maps of where you met, for instance, or even old  – be sure they’re really expendable! – photos. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Heart garland, folded

Heart garland, folded


Well, if you can get to Bath and are free on Thursday morning on 26th January, do come along to the Hearts & Garlands workshop and discover 5 different heart-themed strung decorations, all upcycled from scrap textile or paper. All materials are supplied, though do bring along any special ephemera that you’d like to include. We’ll be using a variety of  tools and materials and you’ll also get a garland kit to take home (besides whatever else you make on the day). Here’s where you can book your place. There are more details of workshops/classes on my Classes page .

Scrap paper garland

Make me!


A word about the venue: Crockadoodledo is a delightful location where you can paint crockery and also find a charming selection of handpicked gifts and cards, many made locally. Parking nearby is largely unrestricted. Crockadoodledo isn’t open every day so do consult their website or give them a ring before you set out.



Dec 08

More Rag Rugs

Jenni Stuart-Anderson has written a sequel to her first book Rag Rug Making. More Rag Rugs is hot off the press this very week (it’s published today, in fact), and if you hurry you can get a signed copy just in time for Christmas.

More Rag Rugs

Jenni Stuart-Anderson's new book is published today

Jenni really knows her rag rug techniques and was taught by one of the last-and-best traditional exponents of the craft of progging, a method of pulling small pieces of scrap textile through a hessian backing, for which you need a splendid little tool called a bodger (the sprung device featured above which Jenni also happens to sell, by the way). Well, Jenni’s first book has been selling like proverbial hotcakes over the years. I haven’t seen this new one yet but am delighted to tell you that one of my own earliest efforts (see below) is featured in the gallery section.

If you get the chance to see Jenni at work (she’s a fixture at most of the big UK textiles shows) do seek her out and watch her closely. Better still, attend one of her workshops. I went along to one earlier this year, and there’s no substitute for seeing an expert manipulating the materials in front of your eyes, and having the luxury of a whole day to pursue a project and begin to really turn your own hand to it. 

I took along some yellow & blue shirting – mostly my husband’s worn-out work shirts and PJs – which I hoped to plait into a rug, inspired by a doll’s house mat made by my Pennsylvanian grandmother some time around the early-to-mid-20th century (you can see it in that earlier post of mine). It was exciting seeing how first the plaiting and then the coiling and lacing (sewing the long plait together) altered the look of the shirtings. I don’t know if you can see, but I used both vertical and horizontal stripes to varying effect. It’s rather hard to predict how the plait will look, but I found the final peppered result pleasing.  Apologies for the dull picture quality, by the way. Can’t you tell that this was taken in a typical British summer? Only the UK in July will do this for you! [Note to self: you really must get on top of those Photoshop image-brightening tools.] Incidentally, plaiting as a rug technique appears to have originated in New England (known there as braiding), really taking off in the nineteenth century, the happy offspring of a boom in straw-bonnet-making. You learn something new every day.

2011 Jly Minolta 210

Plaited rug made from striped and chequered shirtings


Aug 03

All vintaged out

Barley, upcycling workshops curator

Mollie Makes... vintage strawberries

Heavens to Betsy! What a busy time we had at the big Vintage Festival in London! I haven’t been this exhausted in a long while, but it was worth it. Having packed everything up carefully for the courier Thursday, it was a relief on Friday to discover that it had all arrived intact, including the old family Singer featured here.

Vintage strawberry-making

Darling Buds to darling berries

Highlights: meeting the particularly wonderful crafting community on the upcycling workshops floor, especially curator Barley Massey of Fabrications, the Seaside Sisters, and Caroline from the Shoreditch Sisters WI; meeting so many of the Future Publishing craft publications team too, including the lovely Lyndsey (who seemed very familiar, and it took me a little while to figure out why);  seeing Wayne Hemingway in the flesh, from afar; being spoken to – very, very briefly – by TV’s Linda Barker (you know, the salt to Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen’s interior design pepper in the ’90s) from a-near [She is astonishingly tall and Amazonian, btw, and I felt just like a hobbit next her]; soaking up the fabulous swing music on the Saturday, especially the Czech orchestra whose name escapes me; seeing so many gorgeously turned-out vintage guys & dolls. There were more Horrockses frocks than you could shake a stick at.

2 vintage strawberries!

A pair of vintage strawberries!

In terms of strawberry-making, it was absolutely crammed and we ended up having to turn people away from the Mollie Makes table. We were filling large strawberries with lavender, and smaller ones with sharpening grit. For authenticity, I brought along lots of red satin: the preferred fabric for strawberry emeries of old. Some stunning strawberries were made, my favourite being the one below – tiny and delicate. You can see a selection over here on Flickr.

Possibly my most gratifying moment was when two guys (accompanying their strawberry-making girlfriends) embarked on extravagant red satin numbers themselves, and (even more gorgeously) one tutored the other because I was fully engrossed with workshoppers on the other side of the table. How brilliant! They both made very creditable strawberries, and both claimed to have enjoyed the experience, though I can’t see either of them volunteering to make a second one any time soon. But maybe it goes to prove that strawberry emeries reach the parts other craft projects cannot reach.

Truly beautiful vintage strawberry

Delicious tiny satin strawberry created by a former doll-maker.

I had a brief opportunity to explore the market outside, which was free entry to all. It was great to clap eyes on my It’s Darling! friend, Catherine Stokes, selling her china tea sets. And I got very excited by the Furniture Divasreupholstered chairs, especially the ones using melted-down kiddy-wellies to line the seats. They looked just like abstract oil paintings! So very cool.

Welly chair

Welly chair by Furniture Divas

Welly seat

Welly chair by Furniture Divas

Now I’m catching up on all the jobs I’ve been ignoring lately while riding the strawberry wave with Mollie Makes. If you’re waiting for something from me (an invoice/an article/payment/a submission/a response to a request to run a teaching workshop etc) now might be a good time to shoot me a quick email as I’m relatively footloose and fancy-free! Catch me while you can.

Vintage strawberries!

Happy strawberry-makers

Oh, and something exciting happened just before I headed home Saturday. But that will have to wait until tomorrow…




Jul 26

Vintage Strawberries to Vintage Southbank

I’m super-excited (and not a little awed) to be taking vintage-strawberry-making to Vintage Festival 2011 on the Southbank this weekend, helping to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. I cordially invite you to join me and the Mollie Makes team for a FREE crafternoon in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall! You’ll need to pay to get into the main festival, but there’s no extra charge for the workshop (Yay!). Choose to make strawberries with me on Friday 29th or Saturday 30th July, or join Sara Sinaguglia, apple-cosy crocheter extraordinaire, on Sunday 31st. Just sign up for a workshop when you arrive. Spaces are limited, so don’t delay!

More details are here on the Mollie Makes blog. In the spirit of post-war Make Do & Mend, I’ll be taking along lots of vintage fabric scraps and upcycled elements (vintage beads, buttons, bows and threads) as well as some new. I’m currently packing frantically, including bubble-wrapping my prop sewing machine Winifred, a 1933 hand-cranking Singer (which we sadly won’t be using as she has a tendency to misbehave when it comes to stitch tension, but she looks fabulous). Yes, the workshop will be hand-sew only, but I’ll part-prep the strawberries for you so that you can spend a lot of time embellishing them and making them your own (the fun part).

Winifred, a 1933 hand-crank Singer

Coming to the Southbank this weekend...

I’ve been recalling the last time I had a work engagement on the Southbank. It was more than 20 years ago (an era which would now be considered vintage, at least on Etsy). In those days I was a publisher’s publicist, opening the Twiglets and pouring the cheapest possible plonk (in the great publishing tradition) for a Terry Pratchett book launch at the BFI. We used to have the invitations produced (glorified photocopies, really) at a printer’s around the corner from work, and not many more than a hundred would have been ordered. To my eternal shame, I subsequently used some of the priceless leftovers as patchwork backing papers. Aherm. Will posterity judge me harshly for such upcycling of irreplaceable vintage Pratchett ephemera? Perhaps you’d better not answer that. Are you carrying any ‘really-shouldn’t-have-destroyed-that’ upcycling regrets? Please share them cathartically in the comments below and make me feel better about my act of literary memorabilicide.

Upcycled Pratchett invitations

A memento of my last SE1 work engagement

And I didn’t even finish the patchwork! the layers of guilt are piling up…

Anyway, check out the film above and let the festival’s originator, Wayne Hemingway, walk you through the various attractions. Things crafty and upcycled are mentioned 4 minutes 10 seconds in. Hope to see you there, if you can sandwich me in some time between Tracey Emin and the Avenger-thon! Now, where did I put those cat’s-eye spectacles…?



Jul 10

Yet more strawberries

The Mollie Makes strawberry-makers are still doing their stuff, I’m delighted to say. Here are a few recent additions to the Flickr group:

Tweed strawberries

Tweed strawberries by Fabric Mountain


Lavender strawberries

Lavender strawberries by Fabric Mountain

lavender strawberry

Lavender strawberry by Evajeanie

Tower of Strawberries by Judemate

Tower of Strawberries by Judemate


Strawberry pincushions. Home-made, felt & all by my fair hands!

Home-felted strawberries by Pensham

If you get your hands on a copy of issue 2 of the magazine (it’s just now becoming available in the US and in Australia – I think) and are inspired to have a go at the strawberries, do share images of your creations. I’m getting such a buzz out of seeing what everyone’s made. Those tweed ones at the top in particular made my heart skip a beat. Keep ’em coming!

And if you happen to be in Bath and are at a loose end this Wednesday 13th July, I still have a few spaces on my Vintage Strawberry Workshop in Larkhall (discounted for my Facebook page likers).


Jul 07

Larkhall strawberry workshops special offer

I’m told that I have many wonderful qualities. However, organising last-minute summer crafting workshops appears not to be one of them. It was a bit of Herculean task, I’m now realising. Let’s just say that the bookings haven’t flooded in as hoped and I’m left with the prospect of being almost alone at two workshops over the next week or so. I’m fine once I have my punters (we just fly along, rattling out strawberries like billy-o) but the bookings element has beaten me, fair and square.

As featured in Mollie Makes

A desperate remedy is required and mine is to slash the price of my New Oriel Hall (Larkhall, Bath) workshops on Saturday 9th and Wednesday 13th July to anyone who has liked my my Facebook page. Just go click ‘like’ and then send me an email (eirlysATscrapianDOTcom) with 50% LIKE workshop discount as the subject line and your name/phone number in the email. Don’t forget to specify which morning session you’d prefer to attend and I’ll get back to you ASAP to confirm. Wow! It’s that simple! Who-da thunk it would be so easy?

You might want to make a daytrip of it, do strawberries in the morning and shop or visit one of the city’s museums (the Roman Baths — shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Art Fund Prizethe Fashion Museum, the American Museum, for example) in the afternoon. The Roman Baths are also open late through July and August (last entry 9pm for 10pm closing) and are quite magical in the fading light.

I will not be doing short-notice workshops again (lesson learned) but will announce some autumn ideas very, very soon to give everyone time to sort out their diaries and make proper plans. Crafting treats really should not be rushed.

PS If you’re in Bath on 24th July, I’m scheduled to be strawberrying at the very  luscious The Makery in Walcot (complete with cream tea spectacular!). And I’ll soon be able to reveal an exciting London strawberry gig at the end of the month too: a must for vintage fans.





Jun 16

Button film

My attention span is perfectly suited to short, cute films at the moment — being currently like a small rabbit mesmerized by the media headlights — so what a delight it was to be sent this one by the thoughtful Becky Button (who also mailed me, unasked, this load of strawberry-suitable scraps last week, along with some bespoke Scrapiana lettering she’d made – you star, Becky!). The routine kindness of the crafting community is breathtaking.

Strawberry gift from Becky Button

Gifts from Becky Button

Just before you watch, I must tell you that I’ve posted a new Classes page here. Do check it out for details of the Vintage Strawberry Workshops I’m teaching this summer, and keep returning for news of other upcycling classes going forward.  I now have a dedicated Facebook page for Scrapiana and have foolishly given up tea until my ‘like’ total reaches 100. At time of writing I was stuck at 78, so please take pity on poor uncaffeinated me.

The following short film is a treasure of stop-motion animation. And there are buttons. Lots of them. Enjoy!


Jun 15

First of the strawberry crop

And so it begins. People are already getting their teeth into strawberry-making, following my how-to in Mollie Makes.


Claire Leggett's strawberries


Claire lays out her materials

Molliemakes strawberries

Tiffanywinnie's strawberrries

steampunk strawberry

Apryl Lowe's steampunk interpretation, with watch parts and key

Aren’t they delightful? Everyone is making the project their own, which is a really lovely feeling. Feedback is that the instructions are clear and easy to follow, and that the strawberries are fast to make. The only problem is that once you’ve finished one, you want to make another. And another. Do hop over and see what Claire and Apryl have to say about making theirs.

Hardcore strawberry-o-philes can keep track of new berries as they appear over at the strawberry patch, aka the Mollie Makes Strawberries Flickr group pool. If you get round to making one, do upload an image over there. It’ll make my day.

And if you’d like the chance to create some of these in a workshop environment, Scrapiana Vintage Strawberry Classes are coming soon, at least, to a small part of the West Country near me (just Bath and Frome so far, though if you have a craft boutique elsewhere and fancy booking me, do get in touch!). It’s a real bonus to make these in a group, seeing how other people’s berries take shape and nattering while you sew. Workshop numbers are kept small so that you can be properly guided to make a variety of styles, sizes and scales. Look out for a full workshop update here on the blog tomorrow.



Jun 14

Mollie Makes… a little film

Wow! I can’t believe that my strawberry front cover of Mollie Makes made it into this sweet little film! Clock must definitely be ticking on my 15 minutes of fame…

And the film does Bath proud too, presenting all sorts of beautiful — if completely unconnected — vistas; as a Bathonian friend said, she’s obviously been using that special sat-nav available only to film-makers.

But seriously, it’s a gorgeous filmlet, and there have been lots of admiring comments on the Mollie Makes blog about the lovely crafting establishment featured: the Makery. Happily, I can reveal that yesterday I had the good fortune to sit on one of those very chairs featured in the film. I didn’t make any knicker-flashers, but I did talk strawberries, and I am delighted to announce that there will be a special Scrapiana Vintage Strawberry Workshop at the Makery on the morning of Sunday 24th  July. It includes a luscious cream tea — well, strictly speaking elevenses — with lashings of strawberry jam, of course. Do wander (in semi-leisurely fashion, because it may not be posted there yet) over to the Makery’s site for more information. If you’re within striking distance of Bath, please book your place and come along! It’ll be truly wonderful. I can’t guarantee any self-dressing apples, but there’ll be all the sedentary strawberry fun you could wish for.

PS Please double-check the location when you book as I think it may be in the The Makery’s Emporium, down in Northumberland Buildings, not on Walcot. You may recognise the location!

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