how small is too small?

modflowers: liberty scrapsI am, in the big scheme of things, quite obsessed with small things.

It’s funny, I must be in my second childhood, as I was always very keen on miniature stuff when I was little.

I have just made a second set of pocket bears, ready for the Secret Garden Craft Fair on June 18th.

modflowers: new pocket bears They are quite small. Just a few inches tall.

And I have perfected my itty bitty kitties, including black ones, and turned some of them into stickpins.

They are smaller still….

modflowers: black cat stickpins And a mini koala, with an even mini-er baby in it’s pouch…

modflowers: mini koalaOf course, there are plenty of people who make amazingly tiny things, much smaller than I would even contemplate trying with my arthritic fingers and blurry eyesight.  Check out this website and you’ll see what I mean.

But one issue I have run up against whilst making small things is that most of my fabrics aren’t up to the job of downsizing.

I love big patterns, but they’re not fit for purpose when you are making something really small. There’s just no room for a six inch flower on a two-inch kitty…

modflowers: treasures from hope & elvisSo I have been seeking out some vintage petite patterns suitable for mini makes.

They are not as common as you might think… the 1960s and 70s were pretty darned bold in their design choices, which of course is a lot to do with why I love them. Apart from the odd ditsy print or Laura Ashley’s mini-florals, scaling patterns down to nano-size just wasn’t on their agenda, man.

So I have been forced to look further afield when ferreting out fabrics.

Liberty has always done ditsy. So off I hopped online, seeking out scraps. I found some and sat back to await their arrival. Which took a while.

The size of the envelope, when it did reach me, puzzled me a bit. Had they forgotten to actually include my order – fifty pieces of fabric?

Turns out I had committed the cardinal sin of getting a bit overexcited and not reading the description carefully enough. Yes, go on, tut. And shake your head too. I deserve both.

modflowers: liberty scrapsMy scraps are tiddly-tiny. Some are just half-an-inch by two inches.

Too small for most things. Even a pocket bear takes about six-inches square of fabric.

But despite their diminutive size, the fabrics are so beautiful that I can’t be disappointed…

modflowers: liberty scrapsIt’s funny, whilst writing this post a programme came on the radio about even tinier things… microscopic bacteria and suchlike.

My dad was a microscopist. So perhaps the obsession with tiny things runs in the family.

I’ve already found a use for some of my skinny scraps. I’ll show you tomorrow.

So it turns out there’s nothing too tiny, really.

You just have to enlarge your imagination. ♥



petals to the metal

modflowers: petal peopleWhen I was a child, creativity came easily.

I wrote most of a (terrible) novel when I was eight. (I sort of lost interest in it when I discovered that my ambition to be the youngest ever published author was not going to be fulfilled.)

I used to draw, sew, paint, write poems, make dolls’ furniture and undertake numerous other crafty activities at any and every opportunity.

Once, whilst my parents and Nanna snored through Christmas afternoon, I crafted an entire circus out of bits of paper and the foil wrappers off the contents of a tin of Quality Street.

(I gave the job of writing the sign for the big top to my little sister; her dodgy spelling resulted in “Biley Smatt’s Circus”.)

modflowers: petal peopleAnyway, the point is, there was never anything difficult about making, creating and doing arty things. It was fun, and it was second-nature.

Which, as an adult seeking to make a living from my creativity, it often hasn’t been. Not recently anyway.

Over the last few months of winter, post-Christmas and pre-anywhere-near-Spring, I would often get up, think about creating stuff to sell on Etsy – and then go and clean the kitchen floor.

Or browse Pinterest. Or make another cup of tea. Or find some other way to procrastinate through the cold day, until lad got home from school and I had an excuse not to try to create anything – except dinner.

modflowers: petal peopleHowever, ever since I went a bit quiet, I have given myself permission to not make anything. And, more importantly, not to feel guilty about it.

I knew I had to stop forcing it, to stop pulling myself up by my bootstraps and let go of the discomfort and looming panic that trying-too-hard was starting to induce.

The good news is… it seems to be working!

The urge to play with little bits of fabric has come back…

modflowers: petal peopleThese little faces are fiddly enough to be a challenge (teeny-tiny stitches!) and capable of endless variations, so I don’t get bored.

Some are going to become flowers – hence Petal People.

I also made more itty bitty kitties

modflowers: itty bitty kittiesmodflowers: itty bitty kittiesAnd I have other ideas that I’m itching to stitch, too.

Of course, the turn of the seasons, the lack of an impending big birthday, lighter evenings, the approach of summer, all play their part.

It’s easy to forget that making things because you actually want to make them, rather than constantly trying to second-guess what other people might want you to make, is important when it comes to enjoying what you do.

Instead of struggling uphill, it’s nice to be freewheeling again. ♥


a fabric fable

modflowers: miss mimOnce upon a time, there was a pile of fabric.

It was not a pile that had been bought from a shop with a particular project in mind.

Nor was it a pile awaiting washing, or throwing out.

It was a pile of old fabrics, that had, over time, grown organically from bits left behind when projects were finished; pieces donated by well-wishers and friends; scrips of this and scraps of that.

modflowers: fabric pileThe pile was not popular in the house where it resided. Most people felt, when they saw it, that it made the place look untidy.

They had, in the back of their minds, a vague thought that it should be put away, preferably somewhere out of sight.

But the pile knew better.

modflowers: vintage fabricsAt night, when the house was quiet, the scrips and scraps whispered to one another. They murmured their prospects and possibilities. They speculated and hypothesised about what they might one day become.

The echoes of those whisperings and murmurings hung in the air, like dew in the dawn light. In the rush and bustle of the life of the house, they quickly wafted away, unnoticed and unheeded.

Until, one morning, when the sun shone and the house was quiet and the maker came in and sat alone.

All the accumulated whisperings and murmurings swirled about in the air like motes of dust – and slowly, finally, they began not to evaporate, but to settle.

The maker sipped her tea, glanced over at the pile, and went over to rummage.

Slowly the magic started to take hold; pieces were picked up, ideas were formed, and at last, she set to work.

The pile was scattered, no longer a pile at all really. But that was the way of things.

The way things should be. ♥

modflowers: miss mim