Monday, 9 March 2015

Hen's Teeth Workshop

I've admired the work of Viv Sliwka from Hen's Teeth for a while now, so when a chance came up to attend one of her workshops I couldn't resist. 

Known for her use of  beautiful old textiles, combined with embroidery and other ephemera, she creates all manner of delights.

So it was that on a murky Saturday morning several weeks ago I set off for Weston Park

The brief had asked us to take along any bits and pieces that we would like to incorporate in our work, so I had spent the evening before cramming my basket with all sorts of 'tat'!

As I pulled up I was greeted by the friendliest black cat. Monty has 'adopted' Weston Park and, more particularly, it's visitors in exchange for lots of attention and the occasional titbit.

He showed me to the workshop and it was there that I suddenly realised everybody looked like they knew what they were doing, were incredibly creative and would soon be sniggering at my embarrassing attempts at French knots.

I needn't have worried.
The other participants were lovely. All had different levels of expertise and all were willing to share what they knew.

Viv was an absolute star. She encouraged us to just 'have a go' at something, take ownership and go with our instinct. I think this was my biggest barrier. I am so used to following a pattern and working within a framework that I found it quite difficult to just let go.

The only thing I knew was that I wanted to make a needle case. So, using some templates and a stamp that represented dear old Jessie, I got stuck in. 

Early thoughts

Or rather I stared at things a lot, had a look at what everyone else was doing and ate some cake.

Then got stuck in.

And do you know once I got started it was difficult to stop. I ate lunch between stitches. I drank coffee between stitches. And it was only as the workshop came to an end I realised that I hadn't even visited the ladies room between stitches!

There was cake. There was laughing. There was the inevitable discussion as to who was going to win the Great British Sewing Bee.

And I even found out how to do a French knot! 

I was a bit worried about the group photo as I knew my work wasn't in quite the same vein as the others but, do you know,  the more I looked at it the more I liked it! And it was for that very reason of having let go and creating something that was completely my own. Something I will definitely tap into in the future.

Can you spot Jessie Dog in the middle?

I completed the case over the following few days.
Want to see?

 If you ever get the chance to go to one of Viv's workshops grab it! You can find out more about them on her blog.

Meanwhile look what popped through the letter box the other day. 
Could I?
Bit scared!

 Watch this space!



  1. The needle case is awesome. I really like it when you can just let things happen. Walkaway dress - no problem. Take your time and don't try and make it in four hours that is my advice. Ladies then didn't have a mobile phone and a dog and post to sign for and blogging to distract them! Jo x

  2. Ooh yes, go for the dress! I thought it looked wonderful when it was finished, but of course you must take your time. I'd be rubbish on the Sewing Bee, it would take me four hours to work out where to put the pattern pieces before I even cut out the material! Although it would give you plenty ot time to eat cake ... love your needle case, it's just perfect xx

  3. Your needlecase is fab, Jane. A lovely way to remember Jessie Dog. :o)

    I've got that pattern too (had it for a while) and plan to get around to it sometime soon. Probably. Maybe! ;o)

  4. Your needle case is beautiful!!!! Really, I love it!!! Well done you!!! The cakes look delicious too. Sounds as though it was a really great day out! I hope you enjoy making your walkaway! xx

  5. I love it! Clever you :) Very jealous of you attending the workshop, I love Hen's Teeth

  6. Love the needle case, it looks great.

  7. I think that yours is one of the best ones! I've never tried this kind of sewing, where you incorporate lots of bits and bobs that have meaning to you, and I think it's lovely. x

  8. I think yours is the best ! Are you going to do the wrapover?You clever thing! I am looking forward to seeing the finished result.I think the soldier chap will probably win The Bee.Pam

  9. It looks like a wonderful workshop to attend. Love what you made.

  10. What a gorgeous, creative needle case! You lucky thing - I bet there was just a hum of creativity and inspiration the whole day! You certainly tapped into a very artistic vein, the way you arranged all those little bits is just perfect! Cx

  11. You made a very lovely, totally unique needle case. Well done!

  12. It is truly beautiful. Sometimes you have to just let go and let your creative juices flow.

  13. It's absolutely lovely, clever you. And what a grand place to go and sew. It sounds like a most wonderful day, I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. No doubt it was very inspirational. I'm off to check out Viv's website now. CJ xx

  14. What a cute needle case - I think it would take me a long time to make something so intricate. Perhaps I should go on the course - it might improve my French knots - they frighten me!
    Caz xx

  15. I love your needlecase and am super-envious that you got to attend one of Viv's workshops. I have loved her work from afar (Sydney, Australia) for ever so long and can only dream of going to one of her workshops. Thank you for posting such fabulous pics :)

  16. Workshops can be really daunting at first can't they, but when I used to teach natural dyeing workshops I was usually as uncertain as the students. I think regardless of experience it's the same for everyone. And I love your needlecase, it's really your style :)

  17. I love what you did and all the red stitching. Beautiful!!

  18. Hi Jane! I think your workshop work is wonderful! It sounds like a very fun day! I like the cake part!

  19. Hello Jane, I am so happy to meet you. I love your sewing case . . . all the little details are marvelous. I just found your charming blog and I feel so at home here. You have created a very warm and cozy place and I'm delighted to be your newest follower. I would love to invite you to visit my blog and hope that you will follow me back. I adore making new friends and sharing ideas.
    Have a happy day.
    Connie :)

  20. Thats is the cutest case ever, huge congrats to you, and an adorable memory keeper of your precious pet .
    I too love Vivs work and style, but I could never ever sew as well as you have.
    Bestest D x
    Ps not long before we meet eh? I have made that dress recently so do shout if you need help! I havent blogged it yet.

  21. I love your needle case, and that dog! I'd love to attend one of Viv's classes one day. Um .... cake .... but then I will never get into anything like that Butterick pattern with that waist, hee hee! x

  22. Your case is so cute!! I love the little picture of Jessie, and you did a fabulous job on the stitching and overall design. I love the details you added, and Jessie's little red collar. Amazing what we can come up with when there is encouragement and a fun atmosphere ... and cake ;)

  23. I have admired her embroidery skills for years now. How wonderful that you were able to attend a workshop. You always manage to make me laugh when you post. Glad you stretched yourself creatively and had a lovely time. Your case turned out beautifully. Best wishes, Tammy

  24. What a beautiful needlecase. You should definitely follow your own instincts again. Bee xx


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