Wednesday, 28 September 2011

change of scenery!

Good morning lovely bloggers. I am SO sorry for not blogging for ages, so many changes and I am the worlds most lazy blogger.
I will try to update you a little with the world of Sue, not that its exciting, but here goes!
Well.... where do I start?
The Seamstress has moved house and changed a little! Where we were situated on the business park was in a ‘prime location’ and although we had an introductory offer on the rent, it was going to be mighty expensive when the offer expired. So, I went back to the landlord and asked them which of the couple of still vacant units was the least expensive. They had this one (Number 31) which had been empty for some time as it has no parking space directly outside. Basically you have to walk up a path from the car park, but honestly its only about 25 paces! The rent was easily affordable even on the quiet weeks, and this unit has a large window where I have plonked my machines, and now I benefit from having loads of natural light. As I am at the end of the path, I hope to be able to string lights outside into the trees for the Christmas period!
The other change is the demand for my ‘old range’ of textiles. I am repeatedly asked for quilts and cushions, cosies and corsages, so I am slowly introducing some to the shop, as it had gone from totally vintage to being mostly bridal.  So I guess The Seamstress has its very own ‘Vintage at The Seamstress’ range, and I suppose I am a bit of a ‘one-stop anything sewn’ shop!
The other advantage of being on this site is that since I arrived here I have introduced some friends within the local wedding industry to the site too, and they in turn have helped fill the site with like minded small business owners. One of my very good friends runs her wedding cake business from a few doors down and pops up to me every day with samples...not good for the waistline that’s for sure!
I had the pleasure of going over for afternoon tea with Karen of Tilly Rose last week. She is very lovely and has a fabulous barn where she works and holds sewing/crafting workshops. If you are in the Peterborough area,  it is well worth a visit. I am going over for her Secret Tea Party next week, so if you are too, see you there!
Well, I better do some work... I managed to obtain a small fridge yesterday and am hoping to pop to the local co-op and stock up on some ice cream for the next few days as its going to be a scorcher. I for one, will have my chair outside and quilt in the sunshine.
Take care and bye for

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

getting a little tougher...maybe!

Good evening lovely people
I am told I am too ‘soft’! I am sensitive, by my own admission and I do tend to worry about what other people think of me as a person. I would like to think I will treat others in the way I would like to be treated, too. I think it’s great to help people, and where ever possible, if I can, I would try to.
Recently, to my detriment, I think I have ‘given too much away’! My partner Chris has politely pointed out that I tell all, too readily, and sometimes it leaves me a little open and enables others to use my information to my own disadvantage!
It seems, in business, it is good to play your cards close to your chest and this is a lesson I must learn. You see we had a visitor to the shop and we chatted at great length but after several hours of me being accommodating and friendly, and despite me desperately trying to ‘get on’ I realised the information gleaned and my approachable nature left me wishing I had just simply been pleasant, but business like and more efficient with my time. I should not give away my business ideas, hopes and dreams.
I find it hard to be unwelcoming as naturally I am a chatty, bubbly person, and certainly with customers, I find myself making them tea and hearing many a tale whilst discussing their requirements, and I believe this is part of the service.
In the past, because of my good nature, I have lost out in business for fear of creating a situation or confrontation. Instead of standing my ground, I have simply walked away, knowing I was right.
 But now the stakes are higher. My premises are more expensive and professional. My status in the business has improved and I am being recognised and rewarded. So I must toughen up. It’s not about being ruthless and feisty, but strong and confident, but still providing excellent service, with a smile. But I shall be watching out for that ever so friendly caller with an ulterior motive ;-)
sleep well lovely people
love Sue  x

Monday, 25 July 2011

Just a little update!

Good evening folks,
Sorry its been a while, again, I am such a naughty blogger! I really must try to improve  the situation!
Its been a very busy month, we opened the new shop/studio on 1st June and its been very well received. The Seamstress is going from strength to strength and I am so optimistic about the future; I get up every day with renewed vigour and cant wait to get to work, and its a lovely feeling.

I had worked from home on and off for years, but seeing the demand for couture dressmaking increase I simply couldn’t expect clients to shimmy past my dining room table for a fitting. The Seamstress is a light, modern unit, and I have changed the shop around so many times since we opened I am sure my partner Chris feels dizzy!

I am busy with dressmaking orders and alterations, the bulk of which are currently bridal. I know this will be seasonal and am looking forward to be able to complete more bespoke dressmaking  when the bridal alterations subside a little as the season progresses.

I have spent some time researching this week, as I have had quite a few gowns into the shop which have been a little problematic to say the least. These gowns have been ordered from abroad, and the biggest issue being the bride has ordered a size she feels may fit, but they are tending to ‘come up small’. The other issue is the quality is a little ‘poor’ in places, the finish isn’t brilliant, and the colour (when the bride chooses something other than white) can be rather different from the intended shade.
It is very hard to start a business from scratch and increase your orders, especially when the competition seems too good to be to true, price wise. I have been a dressmaker and craftsperson for many years, and previously doing this for ‘additional’ income was definitely easier to competitively price than when you have to make allowance for the business premise outgoings.
A few weeks ago I offered my lifetimes’ stash of vintage materials for sale. Seeing the direction of my business change so definitely I decided I no longer had  the space or the time to make textiles and very few of the garments I now make utilise the fabrics I had been lovingly storing for years. I was fortunate enough to be able to pass the collection on to a really lovely woman called Karen, whose blog I had read from time to time. see her lovely goodies here
Karen has recently embarked upon a new project herself, taking her business from entirely web and direct sales based to a fabulous new Vintage Craft workshop where she will assist fellow crafters and newbies with beautiful projects to treasure. I wish her well! I actually wish I lived closer, as even though I only met Karen once, if felt like I had known her for years!
Well, I better go, I promise I will be back again soon and I will upload some more recent photos of the shop, complete with new rail full of ready to buy gowns and rosey fitting room!
Take care and see you soon
Love Sue

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Fathers Day

Good evening lovely people,
I am so sorry for the massive gap in blogging, I WILL fill you in - I have been mad busy with the new shop.... good news, but have hardly touched the lappage!
Enough for now, will be back tomorrow, just time to add a little verse I have just penned, sort of sums things up.

Its Fathers day today, that man we hold so dear
And i’m sending out my loving thoughts to dads no longer here
The dad who takes you fishing, or fiddling in the shed
The dad who tells you off then tucks you up in bed
The dad that watches world of sport and grumbles at your mother
The dad who hogs the remote control, there really is no other
The dad who works so hard to ensure you have the best
The dad who does overtime and is always last to rest
The dad who goes before his time and leaves a massive hole
The dad who you feel still around – he fills your heart and soul
So if your dad is still in the world, give him a big hug from me
Happy Fathers day to all the dads, I miss mine you see.

Love to you all
Sue xx

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

News of Norfolk

Good evening all,
I hope you all had a lovely weekend. After an early morning 'event' dress deliver, we packed and got ready for some 'time out'. We went to Norfolk on Friday to spend the weekend with some very good friends of Chris, and it was great.
On Friday we set off just before lunch after stopping at Mums for a quick cuppa, Chris driving at a plod pace for him, saving on the fuel!!!
Although we were staying in Fakenham, we found our way to the coast, driving through many pretty seaside villages, looking for more than a sand bank and distant view of the tide! I wanted to throw some roses into the sea, not that its symbolic, I was just being a mushy bird and wanted to do it to mark my Dads birthday. Nice thought, but most of the coast we visited in the first hour or two was adjacent to ‘The Wash’ and the tide was well and firmly ‘out’.
Our last port of call before heading inland was the very pretty ‘Cley Next The Sea’ where we headed out to a shingle beach and after climbing over the mountain of pebbles we found waves.  We ceremoniously watched our roses float away and bimbled back through the village, a mixture of cottages, tiny shops and guest houses, complete with windmill restaurant and B & B. Definitely one to put on the ‘must visit and stay sometime’ list.

After a pleasant evening with our friends, Saturday dawned bright, warm and calm. We took the steam train from Holt into the very lovely Sherringham, where we enjoyed the market, the crab and lobster festival and some time on the beach, even having a paddle in the chilly sea!

The town itself is busy and traditional, with a lot of the shops being small independent retailers, refreshingly the town wasn’t the same as every other high street. And of course I was drawn to every fabric/dress/wedding shop, as usual!  A large number of the shops had signs in their window, drumming up support for opposition to a planned supermarket development. It was obvious that any massive superstore would ruin this gorgeous place, and the town would end up like most of the other high streets in this country – closed and ‘to-let’, such a shame.
Anyway, I shall get off my soap box, for now!  Norfolk was welcoming and pretty, coupled with the great company we had, it really did go too fast and I for one, cant wait for the next time we all get together again .
On the work front we had our phone and broadband installed today, so it means I can photograph and upload from work, which will help. I am just finishing off a list of orders  and can now concentrate on filling the shop with one-off dresses and vintage style wedding gowns. I have got to get myself a curvier mannequin, as my old bird is rather skinny! I have been watching them on ebay, but they all seem to be miles away, buyer collects!
I am currently reserving  models to suitably show off the new range, and fortunately my daughter and her friends are on-hand and keen! Us girls, we will always love a good 'dressing-up' session.
Well, better go for now, need to put another wash load in before bed and I am yawning away, as usual! Bye for now, see you soon
Love Sue x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Birthday thoughts for Dad

Today is my Dads 80th birthday. Those of you who know me are aware that Dad died just over a month ago after bravely trying to fight the effects of a massive stroke, eventually letting mother nature take him to a quieter place.
We surely would have gone out and done something special for his big day, so I am sending out much love to family and friends who would have been with his today to toast him with ‘half a lager shandy’!
The sunny chair in the corner of the conservatory is peacefully silent most days. Dad isn’t there flicking through the paper, passing the time of day, or rattling dried peas in his personal pigeon shooting stash on the coffee table. Dads catapult hangs still on the back of the chair, and happy pigeons flutter on by.
Mums been up today to lay flowers, and tended to the still blooming funeral flowers from his bright but sad day only two weeks ago. I am sure Mum said a few birthday words to Dad in a whisper.
Mum misses him terribly, she is so strong but I know she has her ‘moments’. We all miss the old bugger. Him leaping out of the chair to twitch the nets when someone drove by.  His memorable words of ‘CAFE’S CLOSED’ when we came in and Mum disappeared to the kitchen to put the kettle on, Dad knowing she’d return with a small spread!
We are away this weekend, not far from the North Norfolk coast, so I shall go to the sea and throw in a nice pink rose from the climber around my front door and I shall remember the good times and send Dad some love and birthday thoughts to where ever he is now. And maybe have a bit of pigeon pie, that’d make him laugh.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Sweets and Shops

Good evening folks,
I hope this finds you well! I thought I ought to fill you in with my goings on... in between seriously sewing like crazy!
Having spent the last 30 years dressmaking, most of it on a part time basis for additional income, and now and then dipping the toe into 'craft shop land',  two weeks ago Chris and I went to view some new premises as it was becoming impossible to work from home any longer. I have been increasing my orders weekly, and dressmaking in a small studio at the back of our house is now proving difficult. 
The final realisation that there are people out there who will buy a quality, hand made, unique British garment has pushed me into making the move into commercial premises. We trawled the internet for somewhere suitable, not necessarily a shop due to massive rents, and came back to a company called ‘Evans’ who offer light industrial, workshops and office space in Nuneaton, about 3 miles from us. Well, they pride themselves on ‘easy-in’ process and we viewed one day, had the required checks and had the key the next day – brilliant.
The studio can be used for retail but is primarily a huge amount of light, clean, new workspace. Admittedly, I would have loved a tumbling down house with sash windows and a fusty carpet, but being realistic this is ideal for where I am at. I have a small stock of clothing, but as I have been mostly making to order for some time, I do have some serious work to do to fill my rails. I will post a few pics of the new gaff!
My intention is to have a small sample selection, but to primarily 'make to order' specialising in one-off, couture Bridal Gowns. I have done my home work, and feel the market is now flooded with cheap import frocks, which seem to be porr quality, and small to say the least. So bring on the English roses, I will make your bridal dreams come true!
On a cost saving front I am making is hitting Tate and Lyle and Bassets in the pocket. You see I have felt a bit ‘off’ for a while, and after a visit or two to docs and some blood tests, the lovely but skinny doc has told me off in no uncertain terms. I am a proper trough-er , I indulge my ample self in home made cakes and a copious amount of confectionary every day. turns out I am borderline diabetic with a blood sugar running at about 10.9..ooops. I HAVE to adopt a sugar free diet, or else the insulin might be beckoning, and I don’t want that! I  am scheduled for some more tests, so I hope to have reduced the numbers by then. I have been sugar free for a week almost and it so hard! So I will say goodnight for now, I am off to bed soon, to dream of sherbert dibdab.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Blue Skies

Good evening lovely people, I hope this finds you well.
Firstly can I say a very big thank you to everyone who has left posts and kind words, reading them brought great comfort, like having many arms around my family with hugs from near and far.
Hasn’t the weather been gorgeous here? Our Friday afternoon was spent in the countryside with my step brother, his family, my bloke and my Mum. You see since Dad became ill I have only just got to know my step brother, I mean really know him. We had seen each other in passing, over the years, at the usual events, or in passing at Mum and Dad’s house, but as he had lived abroad  for years  and was a long distance lorry driver, I didn’t actually know him that well at all. He also has a sister (my step sister) who had become distanced from my step Dads family more than 35 years ago (I had never met her, and didn’t really understand what had happened) but when her Dad (my step Dad) became ill she arrived at the hospital and for a short while he knew she was there, thank goodness. She is a lovely woman, and although I will never know why there was no contact between her and her Dad I hope she can find some comfort in the fact that he was a good Dad to me for all these years. So out of this tragedy comes a little glimmer of brighter skies, as I now spend more time with the step brother I didn’t really know, and I have the chance to get to know my step sister too. So, at the request of my step brother we went to where he and his family were spending the bank holiday weekend camping. We had a tour of the pretty site, walked by the lake, ate barbeque and chatted and chatted, taking in the glorious sunshine and learning a little more about my relatives and reminiscing. I learned so much more about my step brother and his family, they are really lovely people and I sure we will make a big effort to meet up much more, it was great.
I have been busy scouring the loft for a photo album of mine. The album contains many photos of things I have made over the years, including lots of dresses, event dresses and party wear. I could really do with it to show customers, as I have been getting increasing orders for dresses again. I have a few plans up my sleeve, business wise, so watch this space! I guess events make you re-evaluate your choices and opportunities, and I want my Dad to be proud of me, where ever he now is.
The warmer weather has meant we have been eating lots of salad so at least my cold-slow-expensive oven hasn’t been used much! We have been busy pottering though, Mum has been here too, planting out (keeping busy) and we have plenty ‘coming’ up. Chris had started digging the concrete slab up at the bottom of the garden, where we are to be building raised beds, but he has put his back out, so we are on hold at the moment. I did do some digging myself last week, but for about the last 10 weeks I have had a proper dodgy arm and can’t hold the spade for long (don’t we sound like a pair of old wrecks!?). Under my Mums instruction I did go to the doctors last week about my dodgy arm, and I am now awaiting the results of blood tests, doc thinks it may be something rheumatism related? I think it’s just heavy bingo wings, or pure cheddar in my biceps, so we’ll see!
Well, I will attempt to resume a regular blog.... ha ha, sorry, I am so easily distracted by reading them and not writing my own. I will leave you now with a favourite photo of mine – it’s of Dad and me, bless him, taken many years ago (1977) when I was 12 and we were flying a kite on the cliff tops in North Devon, happy memories.

Bye for now, love to you all, Sue xxx

Friday, 15 April 2011

Goodnight Dad

Good evening folks
Sorry for the lack of blog. Today has been a sad day, but with a massive sense of relief I write this blog.
 Dad lost his fight for life, and peacefully left us just before 12 last night. He had battled on for more than 2 weeks, bless him, and for those of us seeing him begin to suffer, it was pure torture.
He had had a brain stem stroke, and from what we can deduce, it was severe. After nurse and doctor consultations we were aware of his plight – total paralysis from almost his chin down, but with the sensations of pain, and inability to cough and even swallow at times. He was a strong and brave man, but simply couldn’t hold on and after a very long 16 day beside vigil he slipped away just after we returned home for an hour or two, possibly preferring for us not to be there...who knows.
Dad only opened his eyes a little during the last few days, although I am sure he knew we were all there. Many, many friends and family came, and cried and said goodbye. At one point there were 8 young people (grandchildren, nieces etc) all leaving the ward in tears, and I felt proud when I saw the nurses looking, almost surprised at the army of ‘young-uns (as Dad would say) that had come to hold his hand.
Dad was my step father for 38 years. We had some tough times (me the rebel) and so, so many good memories for us all to look back on and smile. Dad was a bugger for DIY, and admittedly sometimes he was a ‘bit of a bodger’. Being very security conscious he always added extra bolts, latches, padlocks and booby traps but his most fabulous tools of choice where possible seemed to be blue tack, selotape and bits of wire! I am sure he is up there looking forward to fiddling in his heavenly shed, making something out of guttering, duct tape and copper pipe! 
These few days have brought friends and family close, and it’s been lovely to see people although you break your heart every time they walk in. In the grand scheme of things, you see, people are really the only important thing in life. What you have and have not isn’t important, its who you love and have in your life, for it is so short really.
Words can’t express how grateful we are to those wonderful staff of Ward 41, Coventrys Walsgrave Hospital. I know they see it every day, but they were truly beautiful people who made his visit full of love and dignity.
Dad is now reunited with my brother Steve, who left us 2 years ago, another great bloke who went too soon, and I am sure they are somewhere more tranquil dismantling something side by side now. I am not sure about religion, but I do think the soul is somewhere. People have such presence in life, such personality, it can’t simply die, they are all out there somewhere.
My priority now is to be strong for my Mum. She is (and those of you who know her, will agree) one of life’s true selfless people. Mum is a wonderful, happy, lovable, funny, inspirational woman who I can honestly say everybody loves. She has always been mum to all of my friends too, and now is a granny to many, as all the grand-children’s friends call her Granny Brenda too! If I turn out to be half of the woman she is, I shall be very happy. Mum is hurting so bad, but smiling on, with bleary eyes and an obviously heavy heart. She’s relieved but quietly empty. She is one in a million.
Well, enough now, much love to everyone in this mad world, I sign off by saying it’s been a tough week, Rest In Peace Dad, you are in a better place now. I will look after Mum, til we all meet again one day.

Love Sue xxxx

Thursday, 31 March 2011

ever hopeful x

Good evening folks, sorry for not blogging, but I have been elsewhere.
My real Dad, Reg, died very young aged just 39. This was in 1972 and he died from heart problems and smoking related diseases. At the time medical knowledge of the impact of smoking wasn’t as advanced as it is now, and although they knew it was harmful, they advised him when ill not to smoke, but he did and it killed him.
My Mum was just 36, my brother Steve (who sadly died 2 years ago) was 13 and I was just 6. Mum was a trooper from what I can remember, having several jobs and getting by ok. No credit in those days, but we never went without.
Some years later my Mum met Barry at a divorced and widowers ‘dance’ where she used to take me on a Saturday evening. Barry and my Mum soon became an item and quite a few years later he moved in with us when we all moved to a bigger house. Now, me being a typical teenager, was an absolute cow sometimes, and needless to say, we didn’t always see eye to eye. In fact it wasn’t until I reached 16 or 17 that I began to appreciate him for the step dad he had become. Barry and my Mum eventually married in 1987 after being together for many, many years and between the lot of us there are many children, grand children and even a great grand daughter!
Barry is a proper mad DIY-er and even a bit fanatical with it. He definitely make-do-and-mends, putting extra bolts, hinges and booby traps on everything possible. Even at almost 80, the other day he was adding extra strong bolts to an iron garden gate, not that the original bolts were inadequate, but he just wanted to ‘make it stronger’! His sheds of tools, jars of screws and rawplugs, bits of wood and shed-drain-water-diversion-system  is the subject of much hilarity. Bless him.
However, at 2.51 am this Tuesday morning, my Mum rang in great distress. The ambulance had been called and she was waiting for them with the door propped open, at my Dads side.  I say ‘Dad’ because he is my Dad, he has been my step Dad for 38 years and despite my teenage turbulence he has been there for me, and my family too.
Chris, my partner and I beat the ambulance to the hospital and as we walked towards the door, we saw them pull up. Dad was quiet, Mum was stunned, and they rushed him into rescus. After the initial panic to stabilise him, it turns out that Dad has had a pretty massive stroke, however at the time it wasn’t apparent just how devastating this was to be.
The bedside vigil, tests, doctors, scans and some considerable hours later, my Dad is admitted to a specialist stroke unit and I guess here is where the long haul of rehabilitation begins.  He is still very poorly, it looks as though it was a bi-lateral stroke (both sides) as he cannot move. He can open his eyes, acknowledge us there, cries from time to time, and sighs quite a lot.
Since 2.51 am on Tuesday morning, life has taken another strange twist and turn. All of a sudden nothing else matters. What matters now is that my Dad has every opportunity to improve, and hopefully get better. He wont ever be the same again, we know that, but we want him around even if we have to hide his power drill.
Today he seemed a tiny bit brighter. He was on slightly less oxygen and it looks as though he was trying to swallow. These tiny steps are progress. We want him to pick up his paper and wave his finger at us, but for now I guess that will have to wait.
So, I leave this post to say I have so much to be grateful for, and so, so much to hope for too.
Get well soon Dad

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Happy Birthday Gran

Today is my Grans birthday and if she were here she would be 102 years old! Her name was Margaret Jane and I have her middle name, as does my daughter Laura and I am secretly hoping that Laura will carry on the tradition.

My Gran was born in 1909 in Longford, Coventry and had a hard life. Widowed young with three children, Gran worked as a post lady from a small post office in Longford. My mum can remember going with her during school holidays and helping sort the post, then onto her round until lunchtime.
Gran had a lovely garden and grew her own veg and as a child I can remember her home in St Giles Road, Ash Green. Her lovely old home, etched in my memory, was simply furnished with useful furniture, no washing machine just a sink and mangle, no fridge just stone floored pantry, brightly coloured linoleum floor and open fire. I used to toast crusty bread on a bent wire toasting fork over that fire, whilst sifting through an old silver teapot that Gran collected bits in (buttons, badges, old coins and trinkets picked from the road) me – a magpie for old nick nacks even then.
Gran was a proud woman, who asked for nothing and gave so much. She never married again, but raised my Uncle Reg,  sadly no longer with us, my lovely Uncle Dave and my fabulous mum without any social security as there was no such thing in those days. You lived simply, made your own, mended and mum can remember them picking up coal dropped in the road from the cart and taking it home to keep warm with. Any why not?

(Gran, My Uncle Dave, My Mum)
Gran rode her bike everywhere, and in her later years she used it to ride up to Wheelwright Lane school where she became the after school cleaner. My mum was the cook and my gran the cleaner and gran occasionally helped out on the school crossing. Gran rode her bike until 1980 and as her eyesight failed she gave it up, eventually moving into Bedworth into the Grove sheltered housing. I wonder what she’d make of the town now?  Sadly Gran left us when my children were young so they don’t have too many of their own memories, so I pass on my own.

 Happy Birthday Gran