genevieve – print and pattern

print and pattern


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I’m back!

our wedding - genevieve blog

I’ve had a little break from posting recently to get married and settle into the new place. But having acquired a ‘project’ house massively in need of DIY, and my mind running over ways to incorporate lovely fabrics, patterns and craft projects to my currently overly BROWN home, I’m feeling the need to get bloggy again.

Before I do, as everyone loves a wedding pic, I’ll be blogging about some details from the day. At this point, I’d like to big up my wonderful photographer, Camera Hannah, who took the photos here, and in other wedding posts. She nailed the shots, and just as importantly, was a total joy to have around on the day (and, crucially, a calming presence in the face of pre-ceremony stresses). Highly recommend!

wedding dress - genevieve blog

wedding dress sequins - genevieve blog

wedding venue - genevieve blog


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sewing school finale: le weekend bag

weekend bag - genevieve blog

And now for my final trick…

Yep, as the main event and big finale to the excellent six-week sewing school I’ve been doing at Ray Stitch, we made a rather fetching weekend bag. Or large handbag, depending on how you see it. It was certainly the most complex project I’ve tried, and so the sense of achievement is jump-up-and-down high. I loved the cheers of glee and applause that erupted periodically in the room as each of us turned our bags the right way round to reveal the final thing. It took me and my lovely fellow bag-ladies three sessions to complete, and incorporated a zip, lining, piping, an inner pocket and various panels (just don’t mention the gusset…).

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

weekend bag - genevieve blog

We were advised to pick out a medium/heavyweight cotton which makes for a more sturdy bag, and I found this dark blue herringbone design in Ray Stitch, and chose a bright yellow lining, yellow zip and orange tape handles. Certainly a summery combo which is making me yearn for warmer days.

herringbone fabric - genevieve blog

orange tape for the handles - genevieve blog

weekend bag pattern - genevieve blog

Prior to the bag project, we had a whistle stop tour of all manner of seaming and finishing techniques such piping, bias binding, French seams, gathering and more besides. I never realised that gathering simply involves pulling the thread until it bunches up to the desired length, much like a drawstring. Much less complicated than I thought. And piping is definitely my new favourite thing – so satisfying and looks mega pro.

gathering - genevieve blog

practising gathering – pjyama-bottoms drawstring style

We also made a cute stuffed heart in time for Mother’s Day. I intended my mum’s to be a pin cushion but I think it’s ended up as a grab-able and chewable soft toy for my baby niece. Endless uses!

stuffed heart - genevieve blog

disclaimer: this pretty heart is not mine, my one was shipped down to my mum before I got a chance to take a picture…

I’m really tempted to sign up to the sewing school dress making course, which Moyna our teacher is taking, but sadly I think I’ll have to wait as I’m going to have a lot on in the next few months (moving house and getting married!) It will be first on my list of courses once I’m back in the groove though.

tape measures - genevieve blog


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week-night sewing with ray stitch

sewing at ray stitch - genevieve blog

Although I know my way around a sewing machine, it’s not quite second nature yet and there are a lot of techniques I don’t know. So when I saw a six-session crash course ‘sewing school’ on at my favourite fabric shop, Ray Stitch, I signed up in a flash. I was loving the claim that by the end, I will know how to do: “zips, darts, piping, elastic casings, pleats, gathering, hemming, facings, handmade buttons and machine buttonholes”. My reaction to that list is still an incredulous ‘really?!’ but I’m keeping the faith!

ray stitch fabrics - genevieve blog

I’m two weeks in now, and what I’m enjoying most is the guaranteed two and a half hours of quality time with the machine each week, and a highly satisfying ‘thing-I-made’ to show for it at the end of each session. Moyna, our teacher, is great – it could so easily be stressful but she sets us all at ease and the hours fly by in what feels like a second.

wine and brownie - genevieve blog

wine, snacks and killer chocolate brownie come as standard

In the first week, we made a good old tote bag – a staple of beginners machine sewing classes – but it was a better than usual pattern, and I liked using tape for the handles rather than the same fabric, aesthetically and practically. I chose a slightly heavier fabric with an owl pattern. I liked the way the fabric was very soft and strokeable, which made it feel more luxurious than the standard cotton.

tote bag - genevieve blog

tote bag - genevieve blog

owl fabric - genevieve blog

owl fabric - genevieve blog

Our next challenge was a lined zipped pouch, which definitely upped the difficulty stakes. The zip was the trickiest bit, as you would expect, but it’s a nice hurdle to have overcome finally.

pinning the zip - genevieve blog

I wasn’t in love with the fabric I chose, which pained me, as life is too short for less than amazing fabrics, right? But we only have (free) access to the ‘sale rail’ fabrics, and a lot of the ones I liked were too ‘big’ a pattern for them to work on a small pouch. I’m looking forward to the last project where you have to buy the fabric, as I intend to lay aside plenty of time to ponder / drool over Ray Stitch’s lovely selection, in order to choose the perfect one.

lined zipped pouch - genevieve blog

lined zipped pouch - genevieve blog

Talking of amazing fabrics, I’ve fallen in a big way for this range of soft brushed cotton, ‘pyjama’ fabrics (as I like to think of them), which wink at me from across the room while I’m sewing.

brushed cotton fabric - genevieve blog

One day, I will sew a pair of perfect pyjamas with one of those. I actually have to – I have no choice now I’ve seen them.

A great perk of the course is 15% off Ray Stitch fabrics as well as a copy of the Merchant and Mills sewing book, which is a thing of beauty. Merchant and Mills have really nailed the utilitarian chic, practical-but-beautiful market in sewing, and I, along with the rest of the craft world, am head over heels.

merchant and mills book - genevieve blog

I’m dying to go to their new shop in Rye. Along with Rye’s many antique shops, it’s an excuse for a weekend away if ever I saw one. The patterns in the book are all flawlessly stylish as well as practical (fisherman’s top anyone?) and I want to make all of them. So many patterns, so little time…

the maker's apron - genevieve blog

Stay tuned for more sewing school updates.


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sewing and snowing

janome sewing machine - genevieve blog

Well, after agonising for many months, I decided to bite the bullet and get a brand new sewing machine. I’m very pleased with it. It sews like a dream and everything just seems so easy. Shock of shocks, even the product manual was simple to follow.

It was like a snow dome outside last Sunday with big fat flakes falling all day so I when I got back into the warm, it seemed an idyllic moment to crack out the new machine.

snowy view - genevieve blog

I decided to test run it on an easy project: two tea towels with hanging loops.

When I was in Japan, I found some lovely linen (in an enormous craft shop called Okadaya) which had ‘cute kitchen fabric’ written all over it. It was the perfect cloth for the job. It’s quite unusual in that it has a different pattern on each side – spots on one side, stripes on the other – which in my eyes is the best of both worlds. You get the double-sided pattern without having to line it separately. It also means there’s no ‘wrong’ side on a tea towel. In fact I actually prefer the ‘wrong’ side as it has the thin line of contrasting fabric around the edge, in a bias binding effect.

tea towel - genevieve blogpinned tea towels - genevieve blogsewing tea towels - genevieve blogI followed the instructions from Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter but barely needed to, as tea towels are as simple as it gets really. A great quick win for adding some colour or pattern to your kitchen.

hanging tea towel - genevieve blogtwo tea towels - genevieve bloghanging tea towel - genevieve blogI have quite a bit of the fabric left over and, if I’ve interpreted correctly, it seems to be saying  ‘make me into an apron’. I’ll post the results in due course!


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japan: return of the scrunchie?

Any child of the 90s growing up in Britain will remember the essential hairpiece of choice – ‘the scrunchie’.

When I was a girl, if you didn’t have a full range of scrunchies in various colours and patterns, you were never going to make the cool gang. But around 15 years ago they went out of fashion, and disappeared, never to be seen again.

two scrunchies

I was amused and intrigued to find that in Japan, the ‘chou chou’, as they’re called, is everywhere and very much on trend with Tokyo’s well-dressed women. I loved the way that, whilst mine were all handmade, whipped up on the sewing machine by my mum in whatever cotton material we had around, a lot of these were a step up in quality, design and style. I’d forgotten how comfy they are too – so much kinder on your hair than bands.

cat scrunchie

yellow scrunchie

Our friend kindly gave me two of hers when I left Tokyo as I’d taken such an interest in them, and what a great souvenir!

Who knows whether they’ll ever make it back into fashion but I’m secretly hoping they will, as I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot.

yellow spotty scrunchie


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virago modern classics: designer collection

When I saw these beautifully patterned hardback Virago Modern Classics, they stopped me in my tracks. I bought a couple right there on the spot, as I couldn’t bear to leave without them.

‘my cousin rachel’ by daphne du maurier and ‘the tortoise and the hare’ by elizabeth jenkins

Even though I’m an avid blog reader, I’ve never liked the idea of e-books. I stare at enough screens in my day that holding a book feels like a real treat and respite. And whilst I know it’s what’s inside that counts, it adds to the pleasure of a great read when it’s such a good-looking item. The perfect antidote to Kindles, if you ask me.

The patterns are all by established designers and it’s a nice touch that the books include some info on them too.

I’m off to Japan on holiday soon, hence the lack of blog posts for the next 3 weeks, and it seemed appropriate to take The Tortoise and the Hare to read, as the design by Florence Broadhurst is called Japanese Floral. I love Japanese design (frankly, who doesn’t?), especially the fabrics, and so I’m pretty excited about the shopping possibilities. I’m on the hunt for good places to get fabrics, yarn and general craft-related stuff so if you have any recommendations, particularly in Tokyo, please let me know!