Wednesday, 23 June 2010


oh boy oh boy is it getting busy round here.
I'm just waking up to the fact that the Streatham Festival starts on 3rd July,
which is only 10 days away.
With two workshops in the programme, I really have got to get on with the publicity, oh and the content.
Double gulp.
I guess this isn't the most seat of the pants I've ever flown, but its getting a bit scary.
So this week I have been mostly making samples, ordering supplies, shopping for more socks than I think I would use in a life time, and trying my inexpert hand at making publicity flyers.
And now I feel as though may be I'm getting there.
So with out further ado


Flaming Nora Presents

a floral extravaganza

Join Nora in this friendly and welcoming workshop to put a bit of crafty goodness back in your life.

You’ll be making flower brooches, large and small, under and over-stated, using special bits of fabric and trimmings from

Nora’s haberdashery cupboard.

Every one is welcome, come along and make an accessory to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

If you think you can’t sew, you are wrong!

Let Nora show you how it’s done, no sewing ability too great or too small.

ADMISSION £8.00, just turn up.


22 Ellora rd, Streatham, London, SW16

Tuesday 6th July 2010 - 8pm


And then with only a small pause for breath,

workshop the second


Nora is inviting children to bring their grown ups and create sock critters.

“What is a sock critter?” you cry.
“A critter,” Nora replies “is anything you want it to be” Real or unreal, odd, weird, cute, young, old, yellow, pink, blue. The workshops last one and a half hours (grown ups don’t have the attention span for anything else) SEWING IS NOT JUST FOR GIRLS! Unfortunately children under 5 are not quite big enough yet.... Admission £8. per child, one adult per family free at the STREATHAM YOUTH AND COMMUNITY TRUST, CONYERS RD, STREATHAM, SW16 Advance booking essential on OR 07952261253 Saturday 10th July 2010 Classes at 1pm and 3 pm

Ok, so thats it, if you are interested in either of the workshops e-mail me on the link above, or leave a message at the end of this post.

Thanks N xx

Saturday, 19 June 2010


I found this fantastic group on flickr.
Crafting 365.
The idea is you take a crafty picture of what you are up to every day for a year.
So far I have been taking part for 6 whole days.
So here is what I've been up to this week.

Day 1 Monday 14th June.
A photo of a lot of finished and half finished projects, as well as a glimpse of a HUGE pile of mending.

Day 2 Tuesday 15th June.

St George cross bunting.
Made from white cotton with a red gingham cross, that is freehand machine embroidered on to give an interesting reverse effect, interspursed with white and red random polka dot flags.

Day 3 Wednesday 16th June.

An Elephant never forgets.
Decorated notebook, featuring elephants and machine embroidery.

Day 4 Thursday 17th June.

Preperation for my "get to know your sewing machine workshop that I am running on Saturday.

Day 5 Friday 18th June.

Fabric hunting in Tooting.

Day 6 Saturday

"get to know your sewing machine " workshop.
Harriet on of my lovely Ladies appilqueing some ducks.

It must be said I am having a lot of fun documenting what I am up to in this way.
But I do think that a week of camping in Dorset in August may cause some challenges!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Cerberus the invisible three headed dog, four children, three adults, two tents.

This weekend just gone saw the flaming family heading off to Henfield near Brighton with friends for a well deserved spot of camping.
Upon arrival and after the obligatory row whilst erecting the tent, the children dispersed to explore the bushes whilst the flaming hippie and I sat down with our good friend Mark to begin the serious business of CAMPING.
Which as tradition dictates began with a round of cold beers and ended with fish and chips.

We soon realised none of the children had been seen for a while though their collective bellows could be heard far and wide over the Sussex downs.

On further investigation we found them playing with an old dog lead in a ditch.
How quickly they become feral.

It was only as the Ginger Ninja sprinted past shouting
"come on Cerberus its time for a walk"
we realised it was no ordinary ditch and that was no ordinary dog lead.

I was surprised by and secretly rather proud of this statement.
On further questioning it turns out our number 1 son knows rather a lot about Greek mythology, and is especially taken with Cerberus. Though I suspect that the drooling vicious treble heads may have more to do with capturing the imagination of a
7 yr. old boy
than the important role it played guarding the gates to Hades.
Though the underworld is apparently appealing too.

Most of this information was gleaned from the Horniman Museum,
in Forest Hill in London,
where I took the boys during half term in a rare moment of practicing being a good parent.

This wasn't the only surprise the ditch held for us over the course of the weekend.
At one point Sophie decided to try and leap across it,

but was caught in the magical vortex half way across and replaced by an exact replica of her self in the form of a tree nymph.

Still not sure if we have the real girl back or not, but we decided on a pact of silence and hopefully her mum will never know the difference.

And the final wonder of the ditch was this little beauty.

Did I dare kiss it?


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Wise owls

"He respects Owl, because you can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right."
A.A. Milne

It has been half term break, so as is becoming traditional Flaming Nora held another little sewing bee.

This time it was the turn of the owls.
In they came hooting and flapping, making friends with an assortment of lovely young ladies from south London.
The girls stitched away all morning with fantastic results.

I loved the fact that the first class all chose the same coloured owls to make and yet they have such different expressions.
In fact they remind me of a bunch of naughty school kids, giggling and
up to no good at the back of the bus.

Well I guess there is a lot to be said about stitching a little bit of your own personality in to every thing you make!

In the second class the birds were set free.

We even had one daring lass who broke out from convention and made that wisest of wise the Brown Owl.

Its great to see just how much all the kids who attend my classes are progressing,
their sewing is becoming less of the random stitches of beginner, and more the confident sewing of someone really enjoying themselves.
Considering that the children start as young as 5 and go up in age from there, they are all showing great talent.

The current "craft revolution" we are living in is fascinating and slightly surreal to watch from the inside.
As some one who doesn't remember a time when she didn't know how to sew, comes from a long line of tailors and has only ever earned a living sewing,
its an amazing thing to observe.
It has also firmed up in my mind a thought that has been floating about for many years.

Ask most women of my own age (fourtysomethingish) if they can sew and most will say not really, or they are very rusty.
How ever they can sew because they learnt it at school, any increasingly enjoy taking it up again as a hobby.
If you ask the same question to some one 10 or more years younger, most used to look at you askance and say "God no!"
Sewing just wasn't being taught in the same way or being given the same importance as it used to be at school.
Thankfully so many people are now coming back to this wonderful, and enjoyable skill.
What I dearly dearly hope, and what I try to achieve through the children's sewing workshops is to learn something in a practical and fun way.
Learning isn't all about academic brilliance.
Some of it must surley be about finding a skill that will bring you enjoyment, make you happy and help you to relax.
The most amazing thing about sewing is that you will never stop finding out new things, the children have taught me so much, especially about bending and breaking the rules.
Its something you can enjoy as much at 5 as you do at 90, and something we can enjoy doing together.
Lots of Mums like to come to my classes with their children because they really love the idea of creating something together.

So as I pack away my soap box for another time I will leave you with this little thought.

A wise old owl sat on an oak:
the more he saw the less he spoke:
the less he spoke the more he heard:
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The history of a scrap of cloth

During a long and interesting chat with Liz from Bermondsey Fayre the subject of a scrap of cloth's history came up.
I was trying to explain to her why it is that I feel so attached to every thing I make.
Its not just the hours of thought that go in to the planning
or the time it takes to make it.
but I can tell you the history of every piece of fabric I use.
I expect that anyone as obsessed as I am by these fragments of life will tell you the same.
Newly bought fabrics from shiney modern shops, their story's have only just begun.
Some become very old friends and we end up with many and varied tales to tell. Their stories so far are mine to tell.

But what really excites me is the untold history.

The untold history of old table cloths,
lovingly hand embroidered by someones Nana in the dim and distant past.
How many family get togethers have they been present at? How many celebrations, rows, joys?

The untold history of a vintage handkerchief, how many emotions has it wiped away, happy, sad, ecstatic. How many cut knees of small children has it been dabbed upon. How many unwanted spit washes to grubby children at the school gates?

The untold history of a vintage dressing gown.
how many lazy sunday mornings has it seen? How many times has it been present at the cooking of a breakfast? Were they for family, friends, lovers?

The old pair of curtains.
Now they really could tell a tale or two!

Did this skirt ever go on a first date?
Was it successful?
Did he ring back as he promised to do?

Then some times the finds go to another level.
like with this hand painted vintage sari.
A wonderful present from professional gadabout and textile designer, Simon Marks
my partner in crime from many a misspent night in fair London town.

Because its so breathtaking, here is a close up of the painting.

Sometimes there is an oddity.
Why were there so many of these pillow cases in the local charity shop?
Still in their original wrappings and untouched by human hand for many a long decade,
Yet in mint condition.
We all have an aged Aunt or Grandmother who hoarded like this.
These pillow cases could have told such stories, but instead their only memories are of a brief stint on the M and S shelves followed by a long time in a cupboard.
And then they came to me!
And boy oh boy do I intend to make up for those long dark years!

I spend hours imagining what these fabrics may have been up to before they met me, weaving some of this imagining in to their new personas as a thing of beauty,
and a joy to be beholden.
I hope most sincerely that this imagining then goes on to bestow its magic in the thing of beauty's new home.

When a fabric is coming to the end of its time with me, the supply is running low and it is irreplaceable, I start to use it more and more sparingly. Cutting it in to smaller and smaller bits, using smaller and smaller scraps in each project,
so that the magic won't end.
And when I have to finally face up to reality and realise the end is the end is the end I always keep a tiny bit of my old friend filed away somewhere
so that i won't forget, even if others did before.