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Creating the Environment That Will Make You Love Your Workshop

I love running my craft workshops and have been regularly running them from my home for a while. However the Il Magpie workshop environment has not been all that I would wish for and I worried that this affected the overall customer experience. Our long, narrow kitchen was too small for much movement and it was difficult to separate the work in progress, completed work and the refreshments provided. As workshop environments go it was adequate but not ideal.

This blog post takes you on a tour of the exciting changes that are happening at the nest to make YOUR workshop experience more enjoyable.

Now the Il Magpie workshop environment is getting a radical make over! It will give forthcoming workshops an inspiring & practical space to get creative in.

However at the moment it looks like this:

Building work well under way to make the Il Magpie workshop environment an inspiring and practical place

What Is Happening?

A rethink of almost the entire downstairs footprint is giving us a much larger, squarer kitchen.

These quick sketches of the old layout versus the new layout really give you an idea of the better use of space.

The kitchen units will form a U Shape around the farthest end of the kitchen. The computer generated picture the kitchen company have given us shows the room when looked at from inside the back door (I am beginning to think that they know us too well, including the bottle of wine!)

Detailed plans to make the Il Magpie workshop environment an inspiring and practical place

The under stairs cupboards have been improved and extended. They will contain a cloak room, extra storage space and a chalk board on the outside of one.

These three doorways will contain a cloak room and more storage with a chalk board on one door

Finally there is a re-vamped and easily accessible bathroom situated just inside the door for workshoppers convenience.

How Will The Changes To The Workshop Environment Improve The Experience?

This means that the workshop environment will be much easier for attendees to move around, getting new perspectives on their work in progress or picking up further materials.

Plug sockets in the floor under the central work table allow sewing machines, hot glue guns and other electrical tools to be plugged in without trailing cords. Plugs with USB sockets will allow me to use more technology to help in the teaching and learning process.

These brushed steel double electrical sockets mounted in the floor will make using sewing machines much safer

The space now has two windows and French doors allowing lots more natural light in and 10 recessed LED spotlights throughout the rest of the room simulate daylight when none of the real stuff is available.

There will be a gallery wall in clear line of sight from the work table that students can use for inspiration or display.

This cheerful yellow wall will showcase a gallery of inspiration and if you look carefully under the building supplies you can just see the pew.

A separate space for relaxing with a hot drink and a slice of cake is now possible and will be furnished with a converted pew and side tables to let students chat and socialise.

At the other end of the table a movable trolley allows students to watch videos or presentations of techniques they are learning on repeat.  A blackboard on the door of one of the cupboards can be used to brainstorm ideas or write reminders for drying times. Another cupboard hides a cloakroom where coats can be safely stored away from paint and dye.

Finally there is a re-vamped and easily accessible bathroom situated just inside the door for work-shoppers convenience.

The downstairs work-shoppers bathroom with the tiles just starting to go on the wall

When Can You Come And Try It Out?

Work is scheduled to finish in early May so sign up to my mailing list below to be the first to know when the grand launch event is and what workshops there are for you to enjoy!
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My Strategy For Framing Clothing

I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of it but…

I brought my “attractive” pink  hi-vis jacket from the stint I did volunteering at the Handmade Fair home with me.  The whole event made SUCH an impression on me. I wanted a connection to it as a permanent reminder how much it had inspired and motivated me (after all I would not be embarking on the adventure that I am now if not for that weekend!)

Framing Clothing- Me wearing the Hi Vis Vest Alongside Kirsty Allsopp


I decided to frame the jacket and display it in my office/craft room.  This was a bit daunting. Framing clothing looked awkward and I wanted it to hang flat and level.

It seemed sensible to be able to remove the jacket with minimal damage if I ever wanted to, so this ruled out glue or tape.

The easiest option seemed to be using “stitches” at strategic points around the jacket. The jacket could then “hang” from these whilst remaining in situ.

Framing Clothing - Close up of tools used to make holes in the mount board.


I used a sharp point to make holes in the mount board where I wanted to put stitches (I think this is some sort of modeller’s tool that I got at Hobbycraft a while ago but cannot find on their website now!)

I then used sewing thread (doubled) to “sew” single large stitches, tied off behind the mount board.

You can see on the image below where I located the “stitches”.

Image showing the location of the stitches put to hold the vest in place.


It worked a treat, but  I think heavier weight fabrics would need  more “stitches” to support the weight and possibly heavier thread.

It is amazing to have such a constant reminder of why I do what I do whilst I work and evokes such happy memories.

Image of the final framed item of clothing in situ


Granny Square Crocheted Seat Cover

This project has been a long time in the making! It is a Granny Square crocheted seat cover for my office chair.  I found the pattern for the initial Granny square online (if I can ever find the link I will update this post to share it!) and then I worked the rest out as I went along

You may have seen it feature in my post on Travel Crafting or featured fairly often on my Instagram account (usually with my cat sitting on it so that I am unable to work on it!).

Close up of detail on crocheted seat cover showing button fastening around the leg


It has been unpicked and re-done more times than any other project I have attempted and I have to say I am pleased with the result.  I know it is not quite a perfect fit but it is comfortable, fun and happy.  I am happy to call that a result.

Close up of the granny square seat cover showing each of the squares


Review: Heat ‘N’ Bond Iron On Vinyl

I had the fabric I wanted to use to make a cushion for our kitchen pew but I really wanted to make it durable and easy to clean so I chose to buy some of Heat ‘N’ Bond’s Iron On Transparent Vinyl (I bought it in gloss. It is available in matte as well but I couldn’t find it in a local stockist at the time).

Heat 'N' Bond Iron On Vinyl Review - 6

As it was my first time using it I thought you might like to hear my thoughts.  I would like to point out that I paid for all the materials in this post and it is not sponsored in any way.

The product is supposed to provide an alternative to store bought Oil Cloths and PVC Coated Fabrics so that you can have the convenience of a permanent wipe clean and waterproof finish on your choice of fabric.  The packaging says that it is sewable with either a non-stick foot or a normal one on your sewing machine.

At £10.00 – £13.00 for 1.8m (2 yards) it isn’t cheap.  I bought mine from my local Hobbycraft but I notice that you can get it through Amazon now.  I would also by it in Matte if I was to buy it again (personal preference) but that wasn’t available to me at the time.

I was a bit ambitious for my first project using it as my cushion was 1.6m long and I had a LOT of scope for disaster.  However I was pleasantly surprised.

The instructions are very simple and clear.  There is also a downloadable PDF on Thermoweb’s internet site if you feel the need to double check it.I followed the instructions to the letter apart from one thing.

Because I was using such a long piece I didn’t have any on the backing paper to place in between the iron and the vinyl at first so I tried to use a clean dry tea towel.  It didn’t work brilliantly so at the first opportunity I cut some of the backing paper free and used that – MUCH better!

I would really like it if they put a spare piece of backing paper into the package so that you could use it for ironing if you were using the whole roll.

Definitely don’t skip the ironing both sides of the piece stage to secure the adhesive as adhesion can be patchy up until this point.

I thought I would have a nightmare getting the backing sheet off of the vinyl without creases and bubble (any body else spent forever getting “sticky backed plastic” on without these problems?!) but I spread the fabric width ways over my ironing board and started by rolling back the backing paper about 3 inches all the way across. I positioned it and then continued slowly and steadily from there.

Not a crease or a bubble!  I was amazingly easy.  It could have been beginners luck but I was impressed.

Heat 'N'Bond Iron On Vinyl Review-4

When it came to pinning up and getting ready for sewing the fabric was slightly stiffer than ordinary Oil Cloth but it didn’t make it awkward to manipulate for what I was doing.  I was pretty much only sewing straight lines but the box corners were no harder than normal because of the vinyl.

I only put vinyl on the one side because I wanted to have a “posh” side for when we have company so there is the possibility that having both sides coated would have made it trickier as well.

I used a normal (and not even new) machine needle to sew it (and my normal sewing machine foot) and it went through just as if it was normal fabric.  Even when putting the zip in it did not make it any more awkward and my normal zipper foot worked perfectly.

I used normal dressmaking sewing thread (a polyester one) which seems to hold up just fine.

At the end of the making process the vinyl was still securely adhered to it’s surface and it had gained no nasty scratches or creases.  It has stood up similarly well to it’s first few days of wear and tear but only time will tell.

Heat 'N'Bond Iron On Vinyl Review-2

All in all I am definitely planning to use this product again and would definitely recommend it.  The pro’s outweigh the con’s by a long way and as long as it wears well I cannot see the down side.

Autumn Felt Garland

We have a Hazel branch in our living room that I decorate depending on the season.  With the start of September tomorrow I was feeling the need for something Autumnal but quick and easy.  This is what I came up with…


I sewed the leaves in a higgledy piggledy order to give the illusion of them falling from the trees, deliberately  using autumnal colours and templates found from the internet.

Autumn Garland-2

Autumn Garland-4

I am chuffed with the effect but when I came to tidy up I discovered that the I had missed the oak leaves out entirely!

Autumn Garland-3

Oh well, better luck next time!

Linking up this week to Hand-Made Monday, It’s Overflowing’s Grateful Heart Link Up and The Turquoise Home’s “Work it Wednesday”.

UFO Number 1 – Finished!


As any crafter knows UFO stands for “Un-Finished Object”.

Well, the stag’s head (which you may remember from this post) is no longer one of them.  It is finished and up!  It sits above the door frame at the end of our hall so that you see it when you walk in the front door.

I’m generally pleased but I think it needs a little something else…

I don’t want to draw in eyes because I think I will muck them up and I don’t know it needs eyes?

Maybe something bright hanging from the horns?  Maybe a moustache? A hat?

Time to put my thinking cap on but I’m out of inspiration just at the moment!

Finished Decoupage Stag's Head

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