Craft Club Box

Here at The Amazing Blog we love crafting—but sometimes we find that we don’t have the time or patience to gather ideas and all of the supplies for new projects. Luckily, Craft Club Box takes care of that problem for us! 

The monthly subscription service delivers a sewing kit and instructions for one complete project plus extra crafting supplies to grow your collection, along with a complementary eMagazine. The kits are suitable for all ages and levels of sewing experience, so they’re perfect whether you’re old or new. We think Craft Club Box would also be the perfect gift for your friends or family! To give you an idea of what it's like, February’s box called “Go Nuts For Doughnuts!” featured an incredibly cute stuffed doughnut pincushion project, complete with a full set of instructions, needles, pins, felt, thread, and surprise extras.

The boxes cost £10 per month plus £3 p&p and can be purchased in increments of 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months (save up to 10%). If you’re interested in getting crafty or purchasing a subscription for a friend, check them out here!

Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort

sewoveritblogimage Ever wanted to know how to take a piece of clothing you have and make it fit perfectly? Maybe it is a bit too wide in the hips, or a pair of pants that need the hem let out. Possibly you just want to know the finer points of sewing on buttons and appliqués? Well, we here at The Amazing Blog have found the book for you. Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort (Ebury Press, £15) is a book for anyone who is interested in the art (and craft) of sewing. From a beginner to an expert level, this book is full of tips and tricks to benefit from. Lisa Comfort was interested in sewing from a very young age, received a sewing machine, and has since grown her love for the craft into a successful career.

Sew Over It goes from basic steps like needle threading and hand stitches to more advanced sewing techniques and projects.  An entire section is devoted to going through your closet, something many women (like myself) want and need to do. Lisa Comfort teaches you how to sort through what you already have and decide whether it is worth the time to change and repair. You then enter the chapters containing tutorials on customising, altering, and changing your clothing. There are not tutorials devoted to making clothing from scratch, but rather altering to make something fit and look better or applying an appliqué to enhance a garment. Lisa does include full on instructions for making accessories like a vintage scarf belt, a fifties style hair-band and a flower corsage. All of these are sure to make your wardrobe all the more exciting!

All in all, the projects Lisa includes in the book are very achievable and won’t take obscene amounts of time. Perfect fun for weekends and summer!  Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort (Ebury Press, £15) is a book that will enhance any shelf and is perfect for anyone who has ever had a desire to get crafty! If you are interested in taking sewing classes from Lisa Comfort and her team, she offers them at the Sew Over It Café in London as well as stocking plenty of fabrics, notions, and kits at the same location. You can purchase the book and see a list of classes offered on her website and on Amazon.

Blinds, Curtains and Cushions

At The Amazing Blog  we were discussing the merits of being able to sew in these recessionary times. Personally, I find sewing a bit challenge; it seems to require my total concentration and is a rigid combination of mathematical equations and fragile paper patterns that offers absolutely no margin for error. However, that said it has also been a case of ‘needs must’ when I moved house a few years ago and had no curtains. This is when I first discovered Merrick & Day and  The Curtain Design Directory. In fact, it was so useful that I also lent it to my Mother who proceeded to use these templates of curtain designs for her whole house.

I’m currently returning a home office back to a bedroom and recently attended The National Home Improvement Show to get some inspiration from the Interior Design Guru Susan Llewellyn. She in turn  introduced Rebecca Day from Merrick & Day who talked about her stylish curtain treatments. I managed to track her down afterwards to ask a million questions about her curtain designs, which is when she recommended her book Blinds, Curtains and Cushions. It is beautifully illustrated book with a combination of photographs and clear explanations making it the perfect step-by-step guide.  I have since read it eagerly from cover to cover and am using all the top tips and tricks to make some roman blinds and ahem… perhaps some curtains when I have a little more time! If like me you have great aspirations to be a curtain maker then you can go along to one of the Merrick  Day workshops. The next one starts on 12th November 2012. 

Fine Cell Work

As the daughter of a literacy teacher at Huntercombe Prison, the idea of rehabilitating inmates is something frequently touched upon in my household. With unemployment figures at their worst for decades and the job market saturated with middle-class graduates and skilled professionals unable to find work, it’s hardly surprising that many inmates go on to re-offend. And with the stigma of a prison sentence and a frequent lack in qualifications, it can be a bleak and depressing future for anyone wanting to turn their life around post-prison.

And so, Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches prisoners the art of sewing while serving time, does a fantastic job of providing a much needed skill that prisoners can utilise both in and outside prison. Founded in 1997 by Lady Anne Tree after decades of campaigning for the right of prisoners to earn money, Fine Cell Work has grown from a bedsit in Bloomsbury to a registered charity which has over 60 volunteers training over 400 prisoners in 29 prison across England.

Proving that the extraordinary can happen even in as austere an environment as prison, Fine Cell Work volunteers train prisoners in paid, skilled needlework to foster hope, discipline and self esteem. And with seventy per-cent of convicted prisoners spending an average of seventeen hours a day in their cell, the therapeutic aspect of learning to sew can be just as important as acquiring a new skill.

Such is the success of the charity that all their classes have waiting lists within the prisons and over 2,500 items were sold in 2010, including cushion covers, quilts and tapestries. Each creation takes approximately one-hundred hours to make, and each stitcher embroiders for, on average, twenty hours a week. And with over 10,000 commissions completed since the charity began in 1997 for clients including The V&A, The Tate Modern and The Royal Palaces, Fine Cell Work is proof that with a lot of determination, dedication and hard work prisoners can piece their lives back together stitch by stitch.

The fantastic pieces produced by Fine Cell Work are all available to buy online; commissions are welcomed and having recently been showcased at the London Design Festival, they are also featuring tonight on BBC 2’s The Culture Show at 7pm. We think both the cause and the concept are incredibly worthy and hope that you do too!