Friday 13 March 2015

Hillarys Crafternoon

At school my best subjects were definitely those that required me to sit down and write, with English and Languages providing me with my small collection of A grade GCSEs.   The one thing I really begrudged was being made to do other more non academic subjects as I was completely useless at them. 

Me and practical tasks don't really see eye to eye and my whole life I've been able to write about something far better than I've been able to do it.  I breezed my theory driving test but it took me 5 attempts to pass my practical and I once came top of the class in a written test about swimming .. even though I couldn't swim!

The thing I've always been worst at is sewing, I am absolutely useless and shamefully I no longer even attempt to sew buttons back on. To avoid the embarrassment of taking clothes all the way down to Norwich for my Mum to fix I just walk around with missing buttons.

At school we were made to do "Textiles", a subject I loathed above all others.  It would take me the entire class just to thread the sewing machine.

When I was 14, we were asked to create a "toy dog".  I spent hour upon hour getting tangled up with the sewing machine, stuck in the vicious circle of doing a stitch, untangling a mess and re threading the machine. 

By the time it came to show off our creations I had nothing to show!  In all the weeks of lessons I hadn't managed so much as a stitch.  So, in panic, I decided to tell the teacher I'd lost my dog. I then spent all of the future classes wandering around the school looking for this mythical dog.   Result!

It's been 18 years since I've left school and in that time I've been pretty terrified to attempt any form of sewing.  So when Joe Blogs invited me to a craft afternoon with Hillarys Blinds I wasn't sure it was really a good idea for me to go .. but then I saw that there'd be biscuits and I love biscuits!   So I decided to join in and find out "can adult Chloe sew"?

Hillarys have been taking their "Crafternoon" out on the road, running blogger events in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and, of course, Newcastle. Our event was held in the Jazz Café in the cente of Toon, somewhere that I've recently discovered serves cake during the day so I've been meaning to nose in for a while.

Ooops I'm talking about cake and for once I'm not supposed to be talking about cake!

I was nervous at the thought of attempting to sew but I had my friend Kayleigh for moral support and the lovely ladies from The Crafty Hen were on hand to help us out with all of our technical questions.  If you're looking for something a little different for a hen party then make sure you check out their website, they run fantastic craft workshops across the country so if you fancy making bunting, designing your own fascinator or even customising some knickers, you're in very good hands.

The first mission of the afternoon was bookbinding using some of the gorgeous patterned material from Hillarys Blinds' new collection. 

There were some beautiful patterned fabrics to choose from as well as a big tub of coloured buttons and bright ribbon for decoration.

I knew I was in for a challenging afternoon when I walked over to the hot drink station and couldn't work out which jug contained the hot water and which jug contained the coffee, even though they were clearly labelled.  After pouring hot coffee on top of my tea bag I scuttled back to my table, in the hope that I could save my red face by producing an amazingly crafted masterpiece.

The fabric was already cut to the right measurements so just required us to do a bit of folding, a tiny bit of stitching and then, for those of us wanting to cheat a little, play with some glue guns.

Sounds easy right?  

Unfortunately I was quick to discover that grownup Chloe is no better at crafts than she was at school.   There was quite a lot of help from my fellow bloggers required and when I finally managed to thread the needle I couldn't help but announce it to the whole room, which prompted a bit of a cheer.  Embarrassing!

I just about managed to successfully complete mine, although I did end up with a slightly wonky ribbon and some very messy stitching.  It's certainly not going to win any beauty contests.

Now you're done admiring my bookbind, lets just take a moment to appreciate my fellow (very talented) bloggers efforts.

What a clever bunch they are!

The second mission of the day was "3D birds" which were a little trickier and, unfortunately for me, required a lot of concentration and sewing. 

Before you all get excited, the bird pictured above isn't mine, it's the "example bird".  I realised pretty quickly I was a lost cause when I couldn't even cut the pattern out without my fabric coming out a completely different shape to my template.

I obviously didn't want to take a photo of my awful attempt at making a bird, so instead took a few photos of Kayleigh who was getting well into the swing of her 3D bird and is possibly the neatest amateur stitcher I've ever met!

After announcing to the room that I really needed some cake and possibly a lie down I pretty much ditched my attempt and spent the rest of the afternoon chatting to friends and drinking cups of tea, whilst trying to avoid the clever ladies from Crafty Hens as I was too embarrassed to tell them that I couldn't sew.

I took my bound book for a walk around the room a few times too, just because I was so proud I'd managed to make something.

I had the most amazing time and it was so great to try something new but I think it's safe to say I'm not going to become a craft blogger any time soon!

Thanks so much to Joe Bloggers, Hillarys Blinds and the Crafty Hen for such an enjoyable afternoon.

Photo taken by Joe Bloggers

As for the Jazz Cafe, my sources were right, there was lovely looking cake on the counter and I cheerily told them I'd be back to sample soon as I sailed out the door. I may not be good at sewing but I know good cake when I see it!  


  1. Aww bless you haha! I would have been exactly the same!! Looks like you had fun though :) x

  2. This looks like good fun even if you were not great at it, you know what they say: try, try and try again Lucy x

  3. LOL you are so funny - I don't think your notebook is too bad - love how you took it for a little walk! Oh and we've all been there with the hot drinks situation -I'm sure you weren't the only one. I can't sew to save my life but luckily my MIL can so she gets all of our sewing to do x

  4. At school I was basically rubbish at anything 'physical' so art, textiles, technology but especially sport!! I do find these craft things fun (I've done a few on hen dos) but I am rubbish at them! Lol! Well done on the book bind and looks like you met loads of people!
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

  5. Haha bless! I'm not really good with anything hands-on either, much as I wish it were otherwise! I'd have been with you eyeing up cake and hiding! :)

  6. Oh, your post made me chuckle out loud. I must admit, I was terrible with a sewing machine at school, but I learned to stitch by hand - that was my saviour. Nowadays, I'd just love to have the time to sew! Joe Blogger events are always so much fun, I recently went to a Laura Ashley crafternoon and it was the perfect way to unwind. I know we should be talking about the cake, but I love your outfit! I'm never brave enough to wear leather but i love the mix between the florals!

    Thanks for your lovely comment - I'd be your personal stylist any day!
    Donna x

  7. They all look so cute! Such a perfect idea for a hand made gift.

    You can check my last minute ideas for Mother's Day:

  8. The pictures of all the designs together looks amazing - and what a fab idea for gifts/crafts.

    Lizzie Dripping

  9. Haha you sound very similar to me with anything practical. However, I did manage to sew a button onto my coat the other month and did spend about 3 months telling everyone I saw that I'd managed to sew it on all by myself!
    Looks like you had a brilliant afternoon, and I'm pleased to hear that I'm not the only person with a cake-dar. I can sense it no matter where it is!

    Rachel x
    The Inelegant Wench

  10. Haha, this is hilarious, I hated Textiles too and had to make a cushion cover which I 'overlocked' with clear nail varnish just to get it done and have something to hand in!. Your bound book looks lovely though, you should be proud.

  11. I was so bad at textiles at school and it's only since leaving I've discovered a real love for crafting and I want to expand my skills! I love the pieces you made, the fabric is lovely and it looks like you had a great afternoon. Lovely post! - Tasha

  12. Haha, aw bless you! I think you did really well. I was so sad to miss this event, as I would of liked to of seen my 'adult' creation.. since, I STUPIDLY decided to take 'textiles' as a GCSE after going through a 'I want to be a fashion designer' moment and convincing myself that I'd just employ someone to make the product for me, as I much prefer the arty side! Hence to say this isn't how the course went. However, I somehow managed to get my teacher to do most my 'practical' work for me and came out with a C grade. :)


  13. Aw I really love the notebook cover! It's beautiful, I would love to know how to make something like that, when I was at school I wasn't bad at crafts but in all honesty haven't really done any since I left! I keep telling myself that I will change that one day...haha Looks like such a fun event! :)
    Dei x


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