October is here – time to get out the warmer clothes

I’m writing this sitting in a cosy little sitting room in an AirB&B in Norfolk. Alan and I are having our delayed cycling holiday in the Norfolk Broads which was rearranged from June as then I had only just taken over The Corner Patch.  We have had some lovely autumn sunshine – but also some torrential downpours when we abandoned the idea of cycling and spent a day visiting the city of Norwich. One last day on the bikes tomorrow and then home and back to the shop next week.

Have you ever tried an AirB&B? This is our third experience of them – a scheme where people open up part of their home to a B&B guest and we have been to some lovely places and met interesting people. Our host this week is a chef so you can imagine the breakfasts! It’s a good job we’ve been cycling to burn off some of the calories we consume every morning!

It always seems so much effort to come on holiday – making arrangements for all the animals – dog to a friend, alpacas and chickens fed by another friend, cats to be fed by our neighbour, thinking about what clothes we will need – hot weather gear, wet weather gear, footwear – and making sure they are all clean and ready to pack, getting cover for the shop, and then knowing there will be a mountain of washing and ironing when we get back! I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it. But when we do get away, see new parts of the world (although this time it’s new part of Britain) and get a chance to relax and just go with the flow, it’s all worthwhile.

It will be October when I am back in the shop and time for Sewing Week 2019 organised by Sew magazine. The Corner Patch has signed up as a participating store and I think it may involve cake!

As if that wasn’t enough, Barbara Chainey returns to The Corner Patch throughout October for her hand sewing workshops. We are so lucky to have Barbara join us again. Although her workshops are now full this time, we hope she will be back to teach again in March next year. Get in touch if you are interested and we will make sure you are one of the first to know the dates.

I’ve had so many requests too for more Dressmaking for Beginners that I am opening the shop for two workshops – on Tuesday 8th and Tuesday 15th October. Running from 10am – 4pm at just £35 and with only four places on each day, this is a chance to make a personalised garment and is ideal for a complete beginner or if you want to refresh your dressmaking skills. Last time some ladies went home with a new dress ready to wear, others with just a hem to stitch, but all delighted with what they had achieved. Places are going quickly so do book soon.

October also sees the second Block of the Month workshops, the second part of the Mariner’s Compass and new Bag Making workshops. We are going to be busy.

I’ve not even mentioned the new fabrics in store, new lines in haberdashery and sewing equipment and the craft kits! But I must tell you about the Wish List service that we have launched. This is inspired by a customer who said, as she picked up a pack of beautiful sewing threads, “Why does no-one think to buy me something like this for my birthday or Christmas? I get things I don’t want when I’d love to have something like this!” That got me thinking and I’ve tested the idea on some of my regular ladies who think it’s brilliant. We will have a book in the shop where you can record things you would like to be given. When your friends and family ask you for ideas you direct them to us and we deal with the rest. You will soon be unwrapping some bits of equipment,  perhaps new scissors or some gorgeous fabric – things you really did want to receive! Just remind your nearest and dearest that we won’t be open on Christmas Eve – our last shopping day will be Saturday 21st December!!

Oh dear, I’ve mentioned Christmas! I think I will be in trouble for that, but another month and we will be into November and things will really be hotting up. If you are planning some makes it is a good idea to get started now.

 

 

 

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Batik fabrics are now in stock at The Corner Patch

September blog

I really don’t know where the time has gone since I took over The Corner Patch. Summer has flown and now schools are back; soon I will have to admit that my feet are cold and relinquish the sandals for ‘proper’ footwear! But I have the stunning batik fabrics in stock (shown above) to brighten up these colder days.

I went to my first ‘big’ show at the end of August – the West Country Quilt and Textile Show held at Bristol. (My daughter lives nearby so we were able to stay with her – free accommodation always helps!). It was a lovely event in a spacious and well-equipped venue and we came back with a lot less stock than we went with, so we will go again next year.

The Corner Patch at the Bristol Quilt Show

It was the Eccleshall Show the same weekend as Bristol so Jane took the shop there and said she enjoyed seeing and meeting up with so many old friends. Faith and Caroline were covering the shop so it was a busy few days for us all.

Now we are back to the autumn series of Workshops with Chris starting the Block of the Month sessions, Barbara will be hand sewing in October and I am squeezing in some dressmaking and general sewing classes when I can. Check The Corner Patch workshop schedule and The Corner Patch Facebook page for full details.

Fabric and haberdashery supplies continue to arrive and the Sit and Sew sessions are as popular as ever. We seem to have a new Sit and Sew group forming on Thursday afternoons too so if you want to join in, do contact me to book a space. Just £5 a session and friendly conversation and much laughter guaranteed.

Here is a taste of some of the new fabric:

Whisper Prints from Robert Kaufman

New Whisper print fabrics from Robert Kaufman are now in stock at The Corner Patch

Grey elephants on Cozy Cotton Flannel – and some Flannel Solids too

Soft flannel fabrics are now in stock at The Corner Patch

Squizzors and unpickers in bright colours – always useful

Squizzors and seam rippers are now in stock at The Corner Patch

A range of sewing kits, pom-pom kits and fabric flower kits – would make perfect gifts

Sewing kits are now in stock at The Corner PatchSewing kits are now in stock at The Corner PatchPom pom kits are now in stock at The Corner Patch

 

Welcome to my August blog – this weather can’t make its mind up whether it’s August or October. I hope you’re staying dry and enjoying the sun when it does come out.

Our summer sewing club for children and young people, Little Stitchers,  has been going on over the school holidays. On hot days we have moved the tables and chairs out into the arcade where they could benefit from some air flow. Despite the heat on the fist day the girls who came along produced some imaginatively decorated needle cases, of which they were rightly very proud. The final session is on August 22nd and we will see all the things they have made.

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If you haven’t been into the shop recently there have been big changes in our little arcade at 12 High Street with some new shop units being built. The building work has been going on for some months but only recently has the dividing wall been taken out to reveal the new extension. Two of the new shops are already occupied by a beautician and a barber and our neighbours with the Antique shop will be moving  into larger premises. It all looks so much brighter. Almost opposite The Corner Patch a comfortable seating area has been made – dare I say it is an ideal place to park husbands and partners while you browse the fabrics!

Meanwhile I have been opening a lot of fabric deliveries – always so exciting! I find choosing new fabrics so hard. When the reps come with their samples I usually want to buy everything and it is so difficult to choose between all the lovely fabrics. When those parcels arrive and I still love what I see it is a huge relief and I rush to share it with you on the shop Facebook and Instagram sites and upload it onto the website.

Recently parcels arrived from Lewis &Irene – the complete new colour range of Bumbleberries fabrics and some of their new Celtic Coorie collection. This is the Autumn Winter Bumbleberries collection and includes metallics as well as some pearlised fabrics. They make great blenders – and of course coordinate beautifully with Celtic Coorie which has Highland animals and birds on a Scottish hillside, thistles and plaids; they are fantastic quilting or dressmaking fabrics. 

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Metallics are popular at the moment. They are in the Christmas ranges of course, but also in the space themed range by Libs Elliott for Andover fabrics with Moon Age, Love Potion and Sunstars fabrics. Very appropriate as we mark 50 years since the first moon landings.

Other fabrics that I couldn’t resist were the cotton / linen mixes from Dashwood fabrics. This is the Nest collection by Libs Elliott with birds and flowers on grey, mustard and teal backgrounds – very much the colours of the moment. These fabrics are wider (60 inches) and are slightly heavier weight than the 100% cottons and would be ideal for dressmaking and home furnishing projects as well as patchwork. In fact Caroline, who works on Wednesdays in the shop, couldn’t resist! She has just finished making her first dress! It looks wonderful on her, so cool and flattering.

I was also tempted by some stretch corduroy, also from Dashwood. It is a fine needlecord, so soft to handle and being 98% cotton /  2% Spandex has a subtle stretch. It is in the most beautiful, rich, solid colours and I can see it being a great fabric for skirts, dresses and jackets for the Autumn.

All these fabrics are on the website and can be ordered online as well as from the shop.

Caroline did an individual workshop with me to work on her dress. I then did another dressmaking workshop on August 3rd when four more dresses/tunics went home. Lots of people have asked for this so it will be repeated as soon as I can find a date. All workshop dates are advertised on the website, Facebook and in my blogs so keep looking if you are interested as places go very quickly. I am also doing a session on Zips and Piping on 19th September – great if you want to have a go at making your own cushions.

Thinking of workshops, Barbara Chainey called into the shop to discuss the various hand stitching sessions she is delivering in October. The details of these are now on the website and on Facebook and places are going fast. Chris Franses also has a range of workshops scheduled for the next few months. There are currently three opportunities every month to work on her fantastic Block of the Month ‘House’ Quilt – but only a few spaces on the first month’s sessions remain. Book soon too for her lovely Christmas runner workshop on either 21st or 23rd November – again these are filling up quickly.

i have just returned from a week away on a course ‘Creating Fine Felt’. I had a fantastic week, learnt so much and came home with a felt corsage, a scarf and a handbag, as well as lots of samples and a head buzzing with ideas. I will be offering some wet felting classes in the New Year so let me know if you are interested.

We have workshops now planned for every Thursday and Saturday until the end of the year. With the Sit and Sew sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays the shop is busy, but there are some slots for individual tuition sessions. For just £10 / hour this gives you the chance to learn the basics and some ladies new to sewing bring their own sewing machines so they can familiarise themselves with the machine they will be using at home.

As always, get in touch if you are interested in any of the above. Email janet@thecornerpatch.co.uk, ring 01785 859360 or call in to the shop.

 

Dates for your diary:

Saturday 31st August   Eccleshall Show. I am away at the West of England Quilt and Textile Show so Jane will be taking the shop to the show and would love to see you all there.

September 5th, 7th or 14th Block of the Month House Quilt Workshops at The Corner Patch with Chris Franses. The first block will be the Contrary Wife House Block. All sessions 10am – 2pm. £30

Thursday 12th September Mariner’s Compass Workshop at The Corner Patch with Margaret Benting. This is part 1 of two sessions. 10am – 12.30. £30.The second session will be arranged for a date to suit all participants.

Thursday 19th September Zips and Piping workshop at The Corner Patch with Janet. 10am – 12.30. £30

Saturday 21st September Roman Stripe Quilt Workshop at The Corner Patch with Chris Franses. 10am – 4pm. £35

 

The Staffordshire Patchwork & Quilters don’t meet in August. Their next meeting will be on 5th September with speaker Lis Binns on ‘What to do when it all goes wrong’. Walton Community Centre, Stone. 6.45pm

 

 

Finding my feet – sometimes!

I am writing this while sitting in a hotel in London having had a lovely day with family visiting Greenwich. My daughter’s Christmas gift to me and Alan was a pass for the Thames river boats and admission to the Banqueting House in Westminster. Time has been flying past so we thought we had better book a hotel and get down here. We left as soon as the shop closed on Saturday and will get back late on Tuesday ready to open the shop on Wednesday morning.

London looks fantastic in the sunshine and it is lovely to meet up with family while we are here too. I lived in London for 6 years back in the 1970s but parts of it have changed beyond recognition. The Post Office Tower was the tallest building in those days and now is dwarfed by the towers of Canary Wharf. The East End, where I lived and studied, is unrecognisable with the old terraced houses that were so run down now changing hands for more that a million pounds!

Meanwhile, I have been at The Corner Patch for 10 weeks now. I am beginning to recognise regular customers and even remember their names and what they are making. That “rabbit caught in the headlights” feeling has passed and I feel more comfortable about what I’m doing. Mind you, just as I feel that I am then asked about something new and realise I still have much to learn. One thing I have found out though – some really lovely people come into the shop! We all have a love of fabric in common and its lovely to hear their positive comments about the shop and the fabric I have chosen.

I love getting fabric deliveries – opening those parcels is such a thrill. I ordered the Christmas fabrics with Jane back in April and when they arrived they were even better than I remembered. I then had to get busy making samples of the Advent calendars, stockings and bunting panels ready for the launch day on July 6th. It was very strange sewing for Christmas in June and July but I was pleased with how the samples turned out and the fabric is selling well.

Now it’s time to think about the summer holidays; the Little Stitchers’ sewing classes for children and young people will be starting next week, some of the regular “Sit and Sew” ladies have persuaded me to hold a dressmaking workshop soon so they can make holiday clothes and workshops and Barbara Chainey popped in with more information about her hand stitching workshops in October. Never a dull moment!

If you haven’t been into the shop recently you will notice some changes in The Arcade. It has doubled in length and five new shop units have been created. The first tenant has already moved in. The extension looks very smart and when the shops are all occupied it will bring new life to the area.

Make sure you visit soon – and look out for the new range of fabrics I have been buying. You may find some surprises!

 

Did someone say “Sale”?

Where does the time go? I think it is true that time passes more quickly as you get older. I can remember those long summer holidays that went on for ever. Now I blink and a month has gone past.

I can hardly believe that I have been at The Corner Patch for 5 weeks now! I’ve done two shows, lots of “sit and sew” sessions and workshops, opened the shop specially to host a quilting group visit – and now I’m planning the arrival of the Christmas fabrics!

To make room for the Christmas stock we need to free up some space – and that means having a sale. Sale Day at The Corner Patch this year will be Saturday 6th July between 10 am and 5 pm. You will find plenty of our beautiful 100% cotton fabrics at less than half their previous marked price – so come along a grab a bargain.

Upstairs we will turn the workroom into a Christmas Wonderland – a room filled with  wonderful Christmas and winter fabrics so that you can make a start on all of your  Christmas projects and gifts. Make a note in your diary now!

It actually feels like a winter’s day here today too! We haven’t had rain all day, unlike the past few days, but it is still cold and grey. I have gone back to wearing long trousers, socks and shoes rather than cropped trousers and sandals I would expect to be wearing in June. Come back Summer – we haven’t finished with you yet!

It has been lovely to meet so many of you over the past few weeks. I am really enjoying the shop and beginning to feel more at home. I am still relying a lot on Caroline and Faith who help out in the shop – thank you both – and husband Alan, who has fetched and carried, mended and altered shop fittings and tried to keep the finances in order! I am just enjoying being surrounded by these gorgeous fabrics and playing at shops!

Hope to see you on sale day – or as soon as you can pay a visit to this little corner of patchwork heaven.

What a week it’s been!

It’s a whole week since I took over The Corner Patch – a little corner of patchwork heaven – and it has certainly been a memorable seven days.

Let me introduce myself; I am Janet Markwell and am the new owner of this lovely little patchwork and haberdashery shop in Eccleshall, Staffordshire.

Jane Alcock, who owned the shop for nearly seven years, reluctantly decided that she had to sell as she is now working full time for The Sewing Quarter. I called into the shop back in March and was so entranced by the fabulous range of fabrics that I began to think seriously about buying it. A few months later and the deed was done!

Jane handed over the keys just a week ago and since then we (that’s me and my husband, Alan – and I couldn’t have done it  without his help!) have been busy  sorting out what we’d got, moving a few things around and preparing for the opening event last Saturday. That was a brilliant day with many friends and customers popping in to say hello – and perhaps buying some fabric, because we can never have enough!

I had some lovely cards, flowers and even a present of a beautiful antique Singer sewing machine, which is now proudly displayed in the window. Thank you all for these and the many messages of good luck. It was lovely to have so many people saying how glad they are that the shop is staying open.

Do call and see me if you are in the area. If you live further afield, don’t forget the online shop at thecornerpatch.co.uk.

I will be spending time over the next week or so planning the programme of workshops and courses from September onwards and will put details on here and on the website as soon as I can.

Happy sewing!

Janet

Where has it gone?

This year is flying by, isn’t it? I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s July already.

Mind you, I am enjoying this lovely weather, are you? I know its a bit too warm for some and you don’t feel like doing much, but I do think it lightens peoples mood, we all seem more cheerful on the sunshine, don’t we.

July means Christmas here at the shop – I know – I’ve mentioned the ‘C’ word, but the fabrics are starting to arrive and there’s nothing like being prepared, is there?                     So to make room, we’re having a sale on the 7th July – it takes quite a bit of preparation and half of me wants to put it all into the sale and start again – sometimes I think it would be nice to have a blank slate and start again, but I’m not sure I would do anything differently!(maybe not order quite so much!)

We had our first Quilt Retreat last weekend – it was a lovely time – a lot of work and time went into preparing for it but we had such fun and everyone went home with some fabulous quilt tops finished or with ideas with how they were going to be. It’s a lovely feeling when something that you’ve thought about comes together and goes well. Everyone left asking if we were going to do it again – we’re looking at dates, so watch this space!

I’d better get back to sewing some of the Christmas samples, before the workshop get too hot …..

Stay cool until next time, Happy sewing x