Made Up Initiative- completed!

I had so much fun making these items for the Made Up Initiative! I pledged to make two items back in August and here they are.


First up, the Torchon bookmark. I’d not made much Torchon lace for a while so this was a lovely project to do on holiday in the quiet time after the kids were asleep. I used ecru fils a dentelles thread and a dusky pink Cotton Perle 8 gimp thread which I think work beautifully together.


The only changes I made from the pattern were to swap the leaf plaits for spiders, and the edge fans to whole stitch with a twist before the edge. Like many Torchon bookmark patterns, this pattern lends itself so well to customisation- I’ll write about the different effects you could create, and the stitches I used in a separate post.


I mounted the bookmark onto hessian and some pink linen ribbon which give it some stability.


I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and it was a good alternative from the Honiton fillings I’ve been wrestling with recently :-/


For the the sewing part of my pledge I made this Bronte top and I have to say it’s turned out to be one of my favourite things I’ve made.


It was refashioned from an old pair of my PJs and some leftover eyelet fabric and as I already had the pattern this was a completely free project- gotta love that!

The raw materials

The raw materials

I used the ribbon which was previously the waistband for the front bodice binding which I think adds a nice feature. The buttons are from Duttons in York.


When I cut the pattern out I kept the original leg hem for both the sleeve hems and back bodice hem which reduced the sewing time considerably and meant I could make it up in an evening. One of the original leg side seams also runs down the centre back:


It’s a lovely snug fit and so comfy- and I can legitimately now wear PJs to work, ha!

And the best news is that (as I write) the initiative has raised over £2500 for the National Literacy Trust. Well done, Karen for organising this and to everyone involved in making things. It’s been great seeing some of the amazing finished items over on Instagram.



Yesterday I was winding the bobbins for the Torchon bookmark I’m making for my Made Up pledge and someone asked me what I was going to use them to make. ‘Oh, it’s just a bookmark’ I said, to which they replied ‘it doesn’t look like “just” a bookmark to me; it looks pretty complicated.’

That word – just.

It could’ve meant; this is a simple project beneath my current skill level. It could’ve meant the finished object wasn’t going to be useful, or worth it. Or it could even have been used to indicate deference to the other person’s perceived skill level. I often hear lacemakers and other creative types use the word just, to mean any or all of these things. “It’s just a simple edging I’m doing to pass the time”. “It’s just a Sorbetto for the summer”.

But the first lace edging you make, or Sorbetto top you sew isn’t ‘just’. It’s a big deal. It represents achievement, learning and a swell of excitement as a new world of possibility and creativity reveals itself.

Of course as makers it’s important to stretch, challenge and improve. But sometimes it is good to take a breather, and to revisit simpler things. If you put it into the context of literacy, which is what the Made Up initiative is all about, just because I have the ability to read Proust, doesn’t mean that he is all I have to read and it also doesn’t mean that I can’t equally enjoy reading Julia Donaldson to my children- the words may be simpler but the enjoyment is still there, and it’s still a fantastic use of my time.

Revisiting simpler projects can also remind us how far we’ve come; it lets us hone skills or experiment with new techniques. But most importantly it is also still creating. I’ll still have a beautiful bookmark by 10 September (all being well)….

And my simple (to me) little bookmark has already helped to raise lots of money for the National Literacy Trust. All of these things we’re ‘just’ creating will contribute towards unlocking that new world of possibility for others. And that’s just wonderful, as far as I’m concerned.

Young Woman Reading by Alfred Emile Leopold Stevens ; image source:

Young Woman Reading by Alfred Emile Leopold Stevens ; image source:

Made Up Initiative- my pledge

If you’re a reader of sewing blogs you can’t fail to have noticed the launch of the Made Up initiative by Karen at DidYouMakeThat. This is a beautifully simple idea to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust by donating money and pledging to sew or make something by 10 September.

I was lucky enough to be read to every day as a child, and developed into an avid reader who took a book with me EVERYWHERE. I now love reading to my children every bedtime and both me and my husband volunteer in local schools listening to children read. My eldest is 6 and is just starting to immerse herself in the Roald Dahl books which is just a delight to see. So when this initiative came along there was no way I wasn’t going to get involved!

I’ve pledged to make two things, both with a literary theme. Firstly, I’ll make a lace bookmark, using Torchon lace.

P1120480I went through my pattern files to find a bookmark I’d not made before and unearthed a pattern sheet which looks like it might be from the 1970s or 1980s but unfortunately there aren’t any designer details and I can’t make out the signature at the bottom left, so I’m afraid I can’t attribute it. I’m making design B which contains roseground, whole stitch and twist fans, and I’m going to replace the leaf plaits with spiders.


For my sewing project I’m making a refashioned Bronte top (the pledges don’t have to have a literary connection BTW…. 🙂 I’ve had this idea buzzing round my head for a while now but this pledge has given me the impetus to just focus and do it. I had a short sleeved white Bronte cut out and ready to stitch, but the fabric was a little too see-through and as it was a remnant from another project I didn’t have enough left to double it up. At the same time I’d had an idea for using some old grey PJ bottoms and a remnant of eyelet to make an eyelet fronted top, inspired by garments such as these:

Left- top from Mint Velvet; Right- top from Boden

Left- top from Mint Velvet; Right- top from Boden

I was possibly going to make a Grainline Linden sweatshirt, but didn’t have enough fabric for that either. It was during a 4am baby feed that I realised I could kill two birds with one stone and combine the two. So I’ve cut the sleeves, binding and back bodice from the PJs and will use the white front bodice underneath the eyelet. Those nightfeeds are often great thinking times!!

The raw materials

The raw materials

I’ve got til 10th September to get these made and will post back when they’re done. If you’re taking part in the initiative, good luck and I can’t wait to see all the finished items at the end. If you’re not taking part, you can still donate at the Just Giving site here.

Studying Craft: trends in craft education and training


I’ve spent a fascinating day at the Manchester School of Art for the launch of the Crafts Council’s new research report Studying Craft: trends in craft education and training. The report highlights some key areas of concern for those involved in the teaching and provision of craft, including the participation rates across all levels of the government-funded education spectrum- from Key Stage 4 to Community Learning. What the report doesn’t cover- for reasons including the difficulty in getting the data and the vast size of the potential data set- is craft taught or learnt socially, online or by private providers. However as I have an interest in both types of provision- the former in my professional capacity and the latter as a maker- the report makes vital reading. The seminar was hosted by the Crafts Council and CHEAD and hosted by MMU.

Studying crafts

The most worrying findings from the report relate to the provision of craft at secondary level and beyond. Around 85% of those participating in craft courses are at either Key Stage 4 level or those participating in Community Learning (typically women aged over 50). So from learning through play and creativity at pre-school and primary, the provision of and participation in craft courses then peaks at GCSE level before declining through Key Stage 5, FE, and HE. The effects of this have yet to be felt but as so many people take up hobby crafts later in life because they have experienced some form of craft as a child- if this is no longer happening it does raise some questions about craft take-up in the future.

There was a lot of discussion about the value and benefits of craft education and the narrative surrounding craft- especially to promote it as a viable and valuable study option to both young people and their parents. The benefits of craft for both the wider economy and individuals were also touched on, including the importance of haptic skills development, learning through making, understanding materials and design, and maintaining a link with heritage and history whilst also embracing new innovations and digital formats. Some interesting examples and case studies were used including two guest speakers from the new Crafts Council in the Netherlands who shared the history of craft there and the issues now facing their craft industry- there is for example no craft provision in their schools at all and the government only funds 10 Euros per student per year or cultural activities which usually takes the form of a trip to a museum! So whilst things may not always seem great in the UK, there are many positives to focus on, and there were many examples shared of effective initiatives and projects which provide a real ray of hope for the future of craft.

(Oh, and I also enjoyed seeing these concrete lace-inspired panels in the seminar room- not my picture as I didn’t have my camera with me.)

Lace concrete