Saturday, 15 April 2017

Crocheting and the future for HappyBerry

As some of you may know I have recently taken a break from my usual weekly crochet video tutorials. As much as it pained me to do so, it was something I really needed to do to refocus my energies and to find my crochet mojo once again.

HappyBerry over the last 7 years has grown so much. I almost can't quite believe how many of you have been a part of this amazing journey with me. It was in January however that things really did start to just get just that little bit too much for me when I hit over 300k YouTube subscribers.

If you've been around since the very early years of HappyBerry, then you will know how much I value the community that we have built up together. Something that has sadly become lost over time due to the sheer mass of my audience.

I remember in the 'good ol' days' when I could chat with you guys, almost on a one-to-one basis, and we could share the joys and excitement of crocheting together. I even remember being in various groups and chatting amongst you.

I was one of the team where it didn't matter if I was designing or just crocheting. 

But these times often began to feel like distant memories. I was struggling to find the time to actually enjoy myself, or remember who I spoke to about what. Comments became lost, and messages disappeared among the never-ending new ones. You see I am one of those crazy people that like to try and please everyone or at least talk to them, so letting go I didn't feel was an option for me.

Sadly though, my biggest foe in my life is anxiety, which I've had since I was very young, mainly brought on from chronic school bullying as a child. I was always too tall, too shy, too anything to fit in, not helped by the fact that we moved around a lot so I was always the 'new kid'. I'm amazed I got through some of things I went through like having my hair set fire too in science class to being punched in history class. So if you're being bullied right now, please know that you are not alone. There is very much light at the end of the tunnel and you can get through it even if it does leave you a bit dazed and battered emotionally. You just need to find your passion and keep an eye on where your head is at, and don't listen to judgmental idiots. Crafts were always my solace. I would often spend hours in my room crafting something as a child, whether it was with paper or yarn.

Towards the end of last year though my solace began to feel like a chain around my neck. I began to actually dread what I was doing.

I found myself even avoiding picking up a hook. Can you even imagine such a thing! 

Especially when crochet is supposed to actually help you relax, (even articles on this began to upset me), but this is one of the many catch 22's in life. If you take something you love and build on it too much, maybe even setting up a business, then the every day pressures of this can burn you out. Your passion becomes a chore, and this scared me, it upset me and for a while I felt completely lost.

To add to the chaos, like any crochet designer out there, we too have personal lives, and often quite manic hectic ones at that, especially as I am a full-time home-educating mama. I am also struggling to come to terms with the slow deterioration of my uncle this year who has had brain cancer for the last 10 years, as we are very close. So come the new year I think I went into some kind of manic meltdown of stress and worry, and needed some time off.

Rather than just throw in the towel (heaven forbid!) I just thought it wise to initially just take a month off from the video tutorials and spend some quality time with family. We took a lovely break to Cornwall, which even though the weather wasn't the best, we had some lovely walks across some beautiful beaches. It was still hard to switch off, and I often found myself sharing things here and there that were yarn related, but when we got back I used my month off to refocus my energies and have a think about where HappyBerry was heading.

It is very easy to just continue on the same path without taking time to look sideways to find other ways forward. I needed some time to get my head above the chaos, to switch off and find out where I was going.

I spent most of my time rekindling my passion for sewing, and if you follow me on Instagram you will certainly have seen a few of my bags! I also played with calligraphy and even some embroidery. I have begun to feel creative again, and it's been really good to find new creative passions. This has rewarded me with the ability to finally pick up a hook again and work on some patterns for myself for now, but which will eventually become my first crochet book. My creativity is flowing again, but it is a slow process and not something I can rush.

I released a video tutorial today for the first time in what feels like ages, and I did feel a difference as I felt more relaxed. It's a simple project for a bow, mainly developed from my enjoyment of sewing bows, which follows a very similar technique. Such a great little project, but I will not be returning to my weekly tutorials like before. Instead I will be uploading a video tutorial only when I feel inspired or want to share something special so I don't feel so pressured to come up with something new each week. This extra time will allow me to work on more written patterns and of course my crochet book, which is something I am very excited about. I am also hoping to reconnect directly with you all through my website newsletter, which will be starting up again after many many years, which will talk about all the projects I am working on and current HappyBerry news. I also hope to continue chatting with you guys on Instagram and enjoying your makes, don't forget to tag me @happyberrycrochet

Lastly, I really just want to say thank you so much for all your kind messages of support and encouragement over the last few weeks. I have been so touched and quite overwhelmed, and it means so much to me. It has also been amazing and so inspiring to hear about your own stories with anxiety and illness, and I feel now that the HappyBerry community is closer than ever.

Thank you x

Saturday, 1 April 2017

How To Sew a Small Zipped Purse

I haven't done a photo tutorial in a while (or posted in a while tbh!), but I thought I would share with you my little Parisian Purse sewing pattern, which is so easy to do with just some basic sewing skills.

You will need the following materials;

- Outer fabric; preferably 100% cotton
- Lining fabric; again preferably 100% cotton that compliments your outer fabric
- Fusible fleece; this stuff is available online or usually in your local fabric shop and comes in rolls or small packets. It gives a lovely padded feel to your bag. You can use either the iron on variety where the bobbly side sticks to your fabric when hot, or the sew-in variety. I chose fusible fleece by Pellon.
- Sewing thread; I use 100% polyester in a complimentary colour to my fabrics
- 1 x 15cm (6") zip; choose a colour that compliments your fabric, if in doubt choose white
- A sewing machine, but you could feasibly hand sew if you have the patience!
- Scissors
- An iron, if using the fusible fleece

Step 1
Download my free sewing template pattern Parisian Purse from my resources section of my website at; Make sure to print at 100%, the pattern is to scale.

Step 2
Cut out your fabric. You will need 2 outer fabric pieces, 2 lining fabric pieces and 2 fusible fleece pieces (if using). Make sure that if using a fabric design that has to be 'the right way up' (like I did here) that the top of your design lines up with the shorter edge of your template. The same applies to things like stripes, make sure they're straight! You'll appreciate your hard work now at the end.

Step 3 
Heat up your iron for a few minutes on a hot cotton setting, and iron on your fusible fleece to the back of your outer fabric pieces, making sure that the bobbly side is against your fabric and not your iron. Iron the fabric side first, pushing out from the middle and finish with a gentle iron on the fleece side. If your fleece is larger than your fabric, cover with old fabric to avoid any fleece sticking to your iron.

Step 4
Place your outer fabric face up with the shorter edge at the top, then place your zip face down onto the top of your fabric, making sure that the metal ends of your zip are inside your fabric, but only by your seam allowance. It doesn't matter if your whole zip overhangs your fabric, you can cut it down later. Then place your lining face down on top and pin in place.

Sew in place with a normal straight stitch, but don't go too close to your zip. Your sewing foot should just fit nicely between the metal zip and the edge. You may have to pause halfway to move your zip out of the way, if so make sure your needle is down in your fabric before removing the foot or pausing.

Step 5
Open out your project and fold in place with the lining fabric face up, flipping/folding your zip up so your fabrics are level with each other.

Now place your second outer fabric piece face up on your table. Line up your zip now with the top edge of your new fabric piece (your zip end should be at the opposite end now), then place your second lining fabric piece face down. Pin in place and sew with a straight stitch like before.

Step 6
Fold out your project with outer fabrics facing up and your lining fabrics facing down, and flatten your zip. Top stitch along zip edges with a straight stitch on both sides, this will show now so make it neat. Try to sew close to the zip now by about half a cm. I tend to use made-up markers on my sewing machine foot as a guide. You may need to move the zip head out of the way like before so make sure that you needle is in your project before pausing/removing your machine foot.

Step 7
Now fold out your work again so that the outer fabric pieces are together again, and the lining fabric pieces are together again. Pin in place.

Now cut out 3 x 3 cm squares from each corner (as per the template). You may have already cut these, which is fine.

Now, making sure your zip is open half way, sew with a straight stitch along the edges, but do not sew along the right angled corner squares, and leave a hand width gap along the base of the lining fabric so we can turn our work inside out. I chose to mark where I wanted to stop and start sewing around my hand.

When sewing around your edge make sure your zip faces and folds out to your outer fabric! I also chose to mark where the ends of my zip were so I could sew as close to these as I could, often curving in slightly to reach them. This also creates a nice curved edge to your bag.

Step 8
Now take your right angled square corners and pull them apart (like a crisp/chips packet) so that the edges lie straight with each other. Pin in place and sew to secure with a straight stitch. Trim off any excess. Repeat for all 4 corners.

Step 9
Put your hand inside the gap left on your lining fabric and turn your work inside out, covering your outer fabric so that your lining fabric is face up.

Now turn your bag inside out completely, making sure to gently poke out your corners. Check your happy and then pull out your lining fabric again to find that remaining open gap.

Step 10
Line up your lining fabric edges and fold edges over and pin in place. Sew as close to the edge as possible with a straight stitch to close this remaining gap.

Place your lining bag inside your bag, zip it up and now you're done! 

I hope you enjoyed this photo tutorial and managed to follow along. I will see you soon for more crochet and crafting fun!