Three crazy women who love crafting and want to share what they do! About Cathrene Born in Northwich, Cheshire (UK), I have been knitting and sewing from an early age – I had the best dressed toys! This passion for making things has just grown, and I am always working on a project (or several!). […]
My mum taught me to crochet when I was around 8 years old. While her methods were anything but conventional, a few taps on the hand with her crochet hook soon made me get the hang of keeping my tension consistent!
I started making granny-square blankets- that’s as far as I got though! I never finished them… I actually finished my first blanket only 3 years ago.
Abakhan pride themselves on offering value for money throughout the vast range of Fabrics, Yarns, Crafts, Sewing Accessories and Haberdashery which they have on offer. They are committed to sourcing the best products at the best prices and frequently have stock lots, clearance parcels and special offers available – for example end of roll, or their famous “Fill-a-bag” sales – ex-display curtains (readymade), bed linen… in addition to piles of deadstock fabrics (true deadstock is fabric (or other items, e.g. buttons) that is surplus to requirements after the manufacturing stage is completed, or the cancellation of a clothing / product line which results in a surplus of fabrics). This leaves fabric lovers, yarn lovers and eco-warriors alike, the perfect opportunity to make ethical use of fabrics and other items which would otherwise be disposed of.
Furthermore, in 2020, they commenced “going green”, introducing a new range of recycled and sustainable products!
My First Visit to Abakhan
I first went to Abakhan (Mostyn) with Cath a couple of years ago. She’d mentioned it to me a few times but it was only when I went myself that I got the true feel of the wonderful world of fabric. We were in heaven! Cath has been visiting their Mostyn shop for over 40 years, and both her and her mother tell stories of the big bargains which they managed to find, e.g. copious amounts of blue and white fabrics that made curtains and bedlinen for their whole household for over a decade!
At the time, I had only sewn one item properly, an origami bag, before that I had sewn at school- we made picture frames out of waxed teabags- don’t ask! I learned to sew on my grandmas vintage sewing machine. We still have it in my house but its in desperate need of repair! Despite my complete newness to the sewing world, I still had a love of fabrics. Cath’s excitement for it is very infectious.
We had planned well for the first time we went, we wanted to make Christmas pyjamas for our holiday. Please be aware, the “famous we” is Cath, at this time I didn’t know the first thing about sewing then! I would come up with ideas of things that we “needed” in the hope of Cath making them.
My 2nd Visit to Abakhan – Fill a bag sale
The second time we went, we’d won a competition for early access to their “fill-a-bag” sale. We were so excited! We didn’t expect to win when we entered the competition. But we were thrilled when we found out!
We had a plan in place, a strategy if you will. We’d been planning our line of attack in the weeks leading to the sale. It felt so serious and exciting!
Cath re-iterated the plan to me on our 2-hour long drive down. “Just grab whatever looks good, we can always put something down, but we won’t be able to go back once something is gone!”. She’d done this before, I had no idea what to expect! In all honesty, I was expecting hoards of people climbing over each other scrambling for fabric. How wrong I was!
This time, I was slightly less of a novice, I’d made my first quilt, and had binge-watched the great British sewing bee! The world of fabric still eludes me somewhat, but after watching Cath sewing various items of clothing, bags and other things, I feel like I had slightly more knowledge behind me.
We set off at 7:00 and arrived just after 9am. Already, the carpark was busy! We got a space and made our way over to the door. People were queuing to the carpark and there was still 30 minutes to go! We thought all of those people had early access. After asking a few people, we soon realised that we were in the wrong queue. We then found our “crew” a group of other early-access winners. We soon made friends, all discussing what we were looking for, whether we had done this before.
The minutes were counted down between us, it was so exciting! Then (after what felt like hours) it was time to go in! It wasn’t at all what I had expected, it was so calm! Everyone knew what they’d gone for, mentally ticking off their check-lists for their future projects. It was amazing to be around so many crafty people. We all had different projects in mind, and different types of fabrics that we were going for. So cool!
We were surrounded by so many bright colours and patterns. Huge baskets filled with cotton, stretch fabrics, off-cuts, fat-quarters, curtains and so much more! So many different textures to feel. A fantastic member of staff soon saw that Cath was struggling with her back so offered to help carry things. She followed us around with a huge metal cage on wheels and carried everything for us. Nothing was too much trouble.
At times it was difficult to keep in mind what we came for as there was just so much. We got things to make curtains for both our bedrooms, and for my new house. We bought fabric to make a kimono, sheets to back quilts, lots of linen sheets to make summer tunics/dresses and some bunny printed fabric to make my new niece or nephew a soft-book. So many things! We filled the metal cage… AND my Mini!
We finished up not long after the other people had come in as it soon got very busy. But we were so happy with what we’d got! Although we spent a lot more than we’d expected, I can only imagine how much it would have cost otherwise, it was such a bargain! And amazing way to prevent waste fabric as all of it was leftovers.
Another lovely member of staff helped us to the car as by this time, Cath needed the wheelchair. He helped push the metal cage and to fit everything in the car, it was like a game of Tetris, I’m still surprised it all fit! Once the car was full, we wandered around the artisan market. We were soon taken by the local fudge and bought some to try at home (See The Little Fudge Box Review).
We then went for breakfast (and our free coffee). Whilst there, we got chatting to another lady who told us about the things she was planning on making, she too had been to the sale and had bought way more than she’d planned on doing!
We then set off home, with our car full of beautiful fabric. We couldn’t even remember what we’d bought, so we couldn’t wait to unload the car. Once we got home, we unpacked our treasures and sorted them out ready to be washed before they are transformed into wonderful pieces of art.
If you sew – or practise any other craft for that matter´- and you have not yet been, it is well worth the visit – even without a sale on!
As an avid sewer – and I know that I am not alone here – I take pride in repairing and upcycling items in order to lower my carbon footprint. I also know Gütermann to be one of the best brands of sewing thread in the world! I have recently discovered Gütermann Sew-all Thread rPET. Not only can they be implemented for a variety of fabrics and stitches, but they are made from 100 % recycled polyester!
After subscribing to the Simply Sewing Magazine for some time, I was delighted when this Kimino pattern was included – I simply loved the look of it!
So, I started making it. Sadly, the pattern was not as “Easy to sew” as indicated – my mother (a textiles teacher for over 35 years) and I struggled with the scanty instructions (even in terms of cutting out of the pattern in the fabric!).
HOWEVER, we gave up on the pattern, and used our knowledge to finish it ourselves…
Your sewing machine will come with a variety of feet for you to use – but feet for a sewing machine are not just for show – they facilitate you achieving the best from your stitching and fabric: difficult tasks become a breeze (and more fun!) if we take the time to swap over a foot. And this is how a foot fetish begins! Speciality feet do vary between brands, so check what is compatible with your sewing machine make and model before purchasing!
I do not own every single one of these feet (yet!) but hope too (soon)! It is not a comprehensive list of what is available, but there are (more than) a few useful ones. Read more →
I have never attended a craft related trade fair before, and only went to The Festival of Quilts to check out the Storage4Crafts Storage units, with the veiw of helping me organise my *new* sewing room…. (That in itself is a good story….) Read more →
Found a much less snaggy way to keep track of my knitting whilst browsing Etsy last week… snag free stitch markers! Rebecca’s Room offers a range of really pretty stitch markers for a variety of needle sizes…