Getting crafty at Fabric HQ
I can’t sew. I mean, I can tack on a button or a Cub badge if I absolutely have to, but I could no more run up something lovely on a sewing machine (which I don’t have anyway) than I could abseil off the Eiffel Tower.
Even knowing that, the lovely Jacqui Pursey and Rae Merchant – the mother and daughter team who run Fabric HQ just across the border in Bucks – managed to persuade me to join them for one of their workshops. I made them promise no actual sewing, so they suggested I make a lampshade instead. They promised me that even I could manage it and, what do you know? They were right.
Fabric HQ hold the workshops at their shop at Layby Farm in Stoke Mandeville. They have workshops and classes for just about everything sewing-wise – children’s clothes, machine appliqué, free motion embroidery (I have no idea, to be honest), roman blinds, getting to know your sewing machine, pattern cutting, buttonholes, curtains, you name it. And, lucky for me, lampshades. It’s not that I’m fussy (although Mr C might have something to say on that), but I’d not been able to find one I liked for our bedroom — and the one we had was, quite literally, falling apart. Classy, I know.
There’s no other way to put it: the shop is gorgeous. At one end, there’s a veritable rainbow of fabrics, and at the other a light and open studio space where they hold the classes and their massively popular Sewcials (see what they did there?) where people bring their own projects and work on them together, sharing advice and ideas – as well a cuppa or two and heaps of biscuits.
My first problem was choosing the fabric. They supply everything you need when you get there, but you still have to choose from the hundreds of gorgeous designs. Even not being able to sew, I still ended up drooling over bolts of fabric like I was on the Great British Sewing Bee. I spent ages before I got there scrolling through their website, deciding on one, then changing my mind, then changing it again. I can see how sewing or quilting folk could easily spend hours at a time on there.
Making the lampshade was quite straightforward after all that decision-making. Some bits were a bit fiddly, but I think that’s mostly because I’m not in the habit of doing things like this – I mean, it all started off with me having to do some ironing. Rae and Jacqui made it seem all gloriously simple when they showed me what to do, though, and didn’t laugh too much when I fumbled through it myself.
There was actually something really enjoyable about taking a couple of hours out of my day to make something, and I’ve got a new appreciation for people who sew and craft and make lovely things all the time. It felt great, taking a piece of fabric and some bits and pieces, and then just a couple of hours later, holding up something beautiful that I got to take home.
And you know what? I’ve now got a fabulous lampshade – even though I say so myself – and a huge sense of accomplishment. True, my family might be getting a teensy bit bored of me turning the light on and casually announcing, “I made that” – but I’m still loving it.