25 March 2020



It's been a very strange week as we adapt to the new normal.  Andy is still at work as his job is on the key worker list.  At home, our first week of home schooling is now nearly half way through.  I sat down last weekend and drew up what I thought could be a realistic timetable that we would be able to stick with.  I've gone for 5 half hour lesson slots, my theory being that if they were in a class room setting, there would be more mental breaks than studying solo.  I felt half an hour was a reasonable expectation and so far it has gone ok.  For Poppy we're pretty much sticking to her school timetable, we have 'form' at 8:45 each morning and she has set herself up with a notebook to write down her tasks and ring binder for all her work (I could squeeze her at times!!). She also gave us a form number 7S (Year 7 Sleaford) and then my initials, which is how it is done ordinarily at school.  The only small hiccup we've encountered so far is the demand for my laptop, as obviously I am still trying to work as much as possible.  We've got around this by switching lessons around a little bit and printing of some worksheets. 

For Jamie, who should have been taking his GCSEs, we're doing maths and reading everyday plus General Studies.  The principal being to keep his brain cells ticking and to choose things that are relevant to what he plans on doing in the future plus some things that will be useful in adulthood and some things that just fun to do.  So far this week, he has been creating a fact file on the RAF from it's inauguration to the beginning of WW2.  This has involved research and drawing.  Today his topic is to come with a small business idea, to think about what he' going to sell, his target audience / his USP and create a logo.  Tomorrow, he's going to pick a country to hypothetically visit, to research it and plan a 2 week sight seeing holiday.

In the afternoons, they've been doing Domestic Science, so a little housework, they cleaned the inside of my car yesterday, their own rooms and today Jamie is cooking Chilli Con Carne.  Poppy wanted to learn some embroidery stitches, so on Sunday I designed a cute Rainbow Sampler for her and transferred it (LIKE THIS) on to a piece of linen.  She going to learn Back Stitch, Running Stitch, Cross Stitch, Lazy Daisy Stitch, Seed Stitch, Straight Stitch, French Knots and Satin Stitch (on the cheeks of the clouds).  I'm hoping it's going to take some time to do, as it would appear that home schooling is in for the long haul!  I thought I would spread a little happiness in every stitch during this challenging period of time, so if you have a home schooler who would also like to embroider one or even colour it in and pop it in your window to be 'spotted', I've made it available for you to DOWNLOAD HERE during the COVID19 STAY AT HOME period.  I've drawn on the stitches that Poppy is going to do, but of course, please feel free to change these to more challenging or easier stitches as you feel appropriate.  All in all, I've been super proud of how they've just cracked on with Home School...fingers crossed it continues!

Following on from my previous two blog posts, I am so thrilled that so many people have joined me and have started their own 'Sew A Little Happiness Everyday' samplers, it has been such a joy to see this.  I have loved planning and sewing my little blocks each day.  Please remember when you're sharing your photo's to use the hashtag, so that other people will see it and join in too:


For Pretty Fabrics and Trims, as I type, the Government guidelines are, that online business should and is encouraged to carry on.  As a small family business, we are trying to do our very best for both our customers, but also balance our own family wellbeing.  At present, this means that we are still posting website orders and block of the month parcels, it is however sensible and the right thing to do, to reduce the number of visits that we make to both our workshop and the Post Office, so that we can stay at home as much as possible.  We are now working separately to keep our two family units apart, there are lots and lots of phone calls..let me tell you and bags pf parcels being left by the door.  We're using postage stamps where possible, so we can simply post in a letterbox whilst doing our daily exercise.  We use the 'Drop and Go' facility at the Post Office for the other items, but now on a far less frequent basis than normal, so please do allow longer for your parcels to arrive.  We are very conscious that many of you have recurring payments set up to us and we do not want to let anyone down.  We are obviously however, watching the daily briefings like a hawk and will tackle any hurdles as and when they happen to the best of our ability, whilst adhering to the advice that is given. 

Wishing you all good health and happy stitches
Sarah xo

20 March 2020



Thank you so much for all your lovely comments both here on the blog, Facebook and Instagram re the #sewalittlehappinesseverday project.   I am so delighted that so many of you want to join in...the more the merrier!  If you're wondering what I am talking about, take a peek at my last post HERE.

At home, the kids both finish school today indefinitely, so homeschooling begins from Monday....Poppy has a work book and /or an assignments for each of her subjects, but we're waiting to hear what this will mean for Jamie, regarding his GCSE results.  Much to his delight, Maths and English, plus we'll start prepping for his 6th form course will happen what ever.  I have decided to also introduce Domestic Science back into the curriculum, so we have seeds for planting, we'll be doing cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing and of course sewing.  I will have two domestic whizzes by the end of this!  

In the meanwhile, we are continuing to post all orders and our Block of the Month parcels, but from Monday, rather than daily, I will go to the post office every couple of days or so to reduce my social contact, as per the guidelines.

I've also been prepping both mine and mums #sewalittlehappinesseveryday grids.   We have both chosen linen for our backgrounds, but you could use a quilting weight cotton or as I was discussing earlier on Instagram, an old pillowcase...it  might be worth considering if the fabric you are using is of a lighter weight, maybe fusing some interfacing to it, to stabilise it.

EDITED TO ADD: Unfortunately we do not sell the linen, but something very similar and widely available is Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman.  The colours 'natural' and 'flax' are very similar to the colour I'm using and for a more off white shade and what mum is using is 'Champagne' which is lovely.

I found using my quilting ruler to be of great assistance, the lines printed on the ruler really did help keep my grids square.  In terms of pens, I used a water soluble Chacopen by Clover.  If you feel tempted to use a Frixion Pen, just bear in mind that heat will make the lines disappear and unless you intend on sewing directly on top them, they can leave a shadow line or even reappear if the fabric gets cold.

Sorry for the rather poor photo's showing the grid..it proved to be quite difficult to get a good shot of it once drawn!

In terms of the grid itself, Mum, who is going to be sewing vintage buttons on to hers, is going to back her grid immediately with interfacing and wadding and will quilt hers before adding the buttons. I'm however undecided at the moment, whether I'm going to embroider the lines of the grid now or use them as my quilting lines once I've filled all the blocks....I'm pondering..I'll let you know!!  Both of us will be using Aurifil 12wt for the quilting.

I've been gathering supplies for my blocks, I've decided upon a gentle red, beige and blue colour scheme for the fabrics, which I'll use for the applique and EPP blocks and the same range of colours for the threads, but I've also added in some mossy greens, mustard and custard yellow for the leaves, stems and centres of the flowers that I intend on adding.  The floral tin in my photo, has some of my favourite vintage mother of pearl buttons in..it will be lovely to showcase some of these.  I will also be adding some pretty lace, some of which was my great grandmothers!

I completed my first block last night and added the text 'sew a little happiness everyday', which as promised last time, you can download and print at home HERE.  I also included some additional ideas for your embroideries and appliques on the sheet, which I hope may be helpful to you.  For the larger of the two hearts, I thought this could be used as both an applique template, but also for embroidery, imagine the heart filled with French Knots, Satin Stitch or other pretty stitches...there will be lots of hearts on my sampler I am sure!  You could something similar with a circle or star.... any shape in fact.  I'm also planning on adding key words to mine that will record how I'm feeling, what I'm experiencing and what I'm seeing during this unusual period of time that we find ourselves in.  I'll keep sharing my blocks with you and I can not wait to see your samplers develop!  Please remember to keep using the hashtag:


so we can all follow and see each others samplers and be inspired.  Please also spread the word, so that more people can find out about and join in with the project.

Wishing you all good health and happy stitches,
Sarah xo

18 March 2020


Yesterday afternoon I sat with a mug of tea to post on Social Media and I was completely at a loss as to what to say...something that doesn't happen very often, Andy will tell you!

My phone and Ipad had been beeping all day with the latest COVID 19 news.  Email updates from various suppliers and from school had been coming in throughout the day.  As a consequence, it had then inevitably also dominated most of mine and mums telephone conversations and also my text messages with Andy.  By the time I sat down with my mug of tea, all that I could think about was the effect and impact Coronavirus was having on my family and my friends and customers lives.

Clearly, it's something we're going to have to get used to and live with, this ever changing situation is not going to go away for some time.  In the end, I simply posted a picture of my British Wild Flowers Embroidery Heart Hanger kit, saying "pretty flowers...just because".  But it got me thinking of ways that I could maybe help positively within our stitchy community, particularly for those facing isolation for many weeks to come.  I think that community spirit is going to be the thing that really helps gets us through this situation.  However for our generation, our community is not just the one that we live in, it also the one that we take part in virtually, by the power of the internet.  Being able to share my love of stitching within my 'online' community is one that beings me great joy!

I talked about the power of Positive Stitches a couple of weeks ago, so I thought it would be particularly nice in this time of uncertainty, to have a community project, something which we could all participate in and share our progress daily, weekly or as much as you like.  Something that would enable us to find a moment to sit down and lose ourselves in our thoughts for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, half an hour, as much or as little as you wish.  Something that would bring us a little happiness everyday.

So here's my idea....I am going to sew a stitchy sampler, and fill it with a mix of little embroideries, applique, EPP, buttons, lace, felt...whatever takes my fancy.  I'm thinking that I will complete one box a day and I have enough boxes to last for just over 120 days, which fingers crossed should see us on to the homeward stretch.  Last night I drew up my grid on graph paper.  I've decided to make mine a 20" x 20" square, which is filled with a mix of squares and rectangles ranging from the smallest being 1" squares up to the largest being 6" square and then everything in between.  Here's a close up for you...each square on the graph paper effectively equates to 1" square:

If you prefer, you could go for all squares in a simple 11 x 11 layout.  Obviously you can make the squares as big or as small as you like.  Mum is going to go for this, with 1 1/2" squares and use it as a great excuse to sit down and sort out her vintage button collection that she has stashed throughout her house!  Another idea would be to applique a little heart, similar to what I did in February's page in the Happy Stitches Journal...the ideas are endless. 

None of the grids are prescriptive though, so please do feel free to grab some graph paper and map your own!!

All that you need to get started is a piece of fabric for your background.... remember to allow for some extra inches of excess fabric surrounding your grid, so that you have room to finish it as you desire.  For example, my grid is 20" square and my piece of fabric will be approx 26" square, which happens to be half the width of the fabric that I'm using.  I'm also going to machine zig zag stitches all around the outer edge to help prevent any excess fraying.  Mum and I were talking about it this morning.  I shall make my sampler eventually in to a quilted wall hanging.  But mum intends on mounting and framing her button sampler as it's probably going to be pretty weighty.  Both us are using a linen for ours.

Then, I'm going to use an erasable fabric pen and my quilting ruler to draw the grid on to the fabric.  I think quilting rulers will be great for this, the printed lines will really help.  However, I am not going to have my usual OCD hang up for accuracy, if a square goes a smidge off measurement then so be it...in the scheme of things this is not a big deal!  My plan is to eventually 'Back Stitch' over the grid lines, but if the pen is erasable that I won't panic if I make a mistake.

Let's use the hashtag below, as a way of sharing:


I will also continue to share my progress and ideas for my boxes on here and on Instagram and Facebook and I hope that you will join in to and spread the word!

Obviously, I will also be working on all my copious amount of other projects too, one can never have to many happy stitches...right!  

I'll post my next update, as soon as I have my grid drawn out.  For my first 'box' I've already decided that I'm going to embroider the text 'sew a little happiness everyday' and I will add this as a download for you to print at home, if you would also like to include it on your samplers.  I'll share this also next time.  

Wishing you all lots of happy stitches,
Sarah xo

16 March 2020

Last week....


Last week I have made a concerted effort to not get distracted and spent HOURS pattern writing.  It's one of those jobs whilst being a rather an essential part of the business, is the one that I do not look forward too.  That being said and in all honesty once I get going, it is never as bad as I think it's going to be and question why I just did not get on with it sooner!   My main focus was to break the back in The Spring Sampler...which I did achieve....hooray...I have just a little bit more to get done this week.

I also months and months ago, decided that I would like to turn some of my block of the month quilt patterns into cross stitch samplers... as you do!  In recent years I haven't had much time to do cross stitch, (can't think why) but I was heavily in to it in my 20's.   Last week, I finally completed my first chart.  I picked my Happiness is Home Sweet Home quilt as my first design.... and I've sourced all the elements I need to be able to create kits in the future..but for now I've added it to my 'to be stitched' list and I can not wait to get started.  Obviously, it will be some time before I can release the sampler kits..but good things are worth waiting for....don't you think.  I did however, also chart and complete a new 'Happy Stitches' design which I have used in a Pocket Pin Cushion design... kits will be coming for this and also a red gingham version very soon!

With all the current bad news, we found ourselves with an inevitable quiet weekend, with both Poppy's football and Jamie's rugby matches cancelled.  I could have opted to spring clean the house, but to be honest I was feeling a little weary.  Instead I picked up my Floral Alphabet Sampler and worked on this, interspersed with lots of mugs of tea and cake.  Poppy is becoming a very proficient baker for her age and she made chocolate cupcakes.  It's amazing how therapeutic stitching is and I feel totally refreshed for the week ahead. By Sunday evening I had completed:

A for Angelica
B for Bluebells
C for Crab Apple Blossom
D for Daffodils
E for Erigeron
F for Foxgloves
G for Geraniums
H for Holly
I for Ivy
J for Jacobs Ladder

Edited to add: The Floral Alphabet Sampler will be available as a new kit once I've completed stitching mine.

It would be amiss to gloss over the main topic of news.  In Lincolnshire there are at present only a small number of cases.  We have however been advised by Poppy and Jamie's school, that the teachers are nearly there with home schooling packs...but they will not close until they are told that they have to.  Understandable, Jamie is worried about the impact this will have on his GCSEs.  Poppy's main concern was, would she have to call me 'Miss' if I was home schooling her...obviously I said yes during school hours.. ha ha!!  Yesterdays news that over 70's could be on home isolation for a lengthy period of time, has definitely been the most unsettling news for us as a family and would impact both mum (Penny) and dad and Andy's parents.  In terms of Pretty Fabrics and Trims, we will carry on as normal until we are told or are prevented for whatever reasons from doing so.  However, we are trying to look on the bright side and focus on all the things that we can do, should isolation become a reality.  Did you see the postcard idea on social media yesterday?  The idea is that you post a postcard or card through an elderly neighbours door to offer assistance in case of need.  I thought it was a lovely idea and whilst I always talk to my elderly neighbours, they don't all have my telephone number, something I rectified this morning.

Following on from last weeks, Behind the Scenes post, I thought I would share some of our family favourite one pot wonders, that make life so much easier and allows for those all important extra minutes for happy stitches..that's got to be good..right?!

Years ago I was given the large white cast iron casserole dish and it is the best thing ever for batch cooking.  I've also got some Pyrex dishes which have got plastic lids...again I've had these for years, I remember saving my coop divi points for these when I first left home and was setting up house.  I invested again years ago, in some quality Tupperware style containers from Lakeland Plastics ...these and the pyrex are what I freeze my extra portions.  Lakeland also did/do 'freezer' friendly stickers, that do not peel of when they get cold...they come on massive roll, so they keep you going for years.

First up and everyone's favourite are Chilli Con Carne and Bolognese sauce for pasta.  I always cook large batches of these and then portion them up in 2 people and 1 person servings.  I don't follow a recipe, but they always start the same, chopped onion, garlic if I have it in the fridge, low fat quality mince...fried off, then I add for the Bolognese dried oregano and thyme, for the Chilli, dried cumin, coriander, paprika and chilli ...then I add as many tins of tomatoes that will ft in my pan, salt and pepper and then I tun the heat down and let it cook for hours (at least 5).  Half way through I add chopped mushrooms to the Bol sauce and a tin of kidney beans to the Chilli..super duper easy!

Another easy win, is of course mince for Cottage Pie.  I was able to freeze down a 4 person and a 3 person portion.  I tend to freeze the meat only and then add the potato topping fresh.  Sometimes, I also make a colcannon style potato topping and I've even been known to add a tin of baked beans to the mince when the kids were younger.

Other one pot favourites are Spanish-style chicken bake by the Hairy Bikers, Slow Roasted Lemon Chicken by Nigella Lawson both of which we have with salad.  A real cheats dinner, is a whole chicken marinaded in a Nando's Sauce, which is then covered and cooked for a good couple of hours.  We have this with the Nando's style Spicy Rice recipe by Pinch Of Nom and salad.  Jamie absolutely loves this and the left over rice and chicken is great cold in pack ups for lunch the next day.

There are of course lots more...I must tell you about 'Cheese and Onion' another day, a family favourite I grew up on.  There's also our one pan Sausage and Tomato Sauce for pasta and Andy's favourite Pork and Apple tray back....gosh I feel hungry now.

Anyway that's all for now, wishing you all a healthy and happy week full of happy stitches,
Sarah xo


6 March 2020

Behind the scenes...a day in the life of.....

Generally, I have multiple projects on the go at any one time.  Mostly, these are for the business for either new kits or clubs, interspersed with the occasional 'just for me and mine' project.  

My current list of 'active' projects on the go looks like this:
  • Secret Squirrel Stitch Society Summer Projects (two of)
  • 12 Days of Christmas Mini Quilt
  • Christmas Eve Project (I haven't thought of a good name yet, but I'll tell you about this once I have)
  • Series of 'China Blue' sewing accessories (Huswif/Needlebook & Pin Cushion)
  • Floral Alphabet Sampler
  • Embroidered Phenology Wheel
  • 2nd Perfect Pairs quilt (this one is for me to snuggle under, but the Perfect Pairs template and original bundle is available on the website HERE and you can read all about my original version HERE. (Edited 7/3/20 Sorry I that's not very clear is it....we will be preparing a limited run of kits in this 2nd colourway, once I have finished my quilt and 100% happy!) 
Still to start, but sketches have been made:
  • Secret Squirrel Stitch Society projects for Autumn / Winter (the Christmassy one) & Spring (six of)
  • Christmas Workshop Projects (two of)
  • Block of the Month Clubs (September start and January start... various)
  • Floral Embroidery Monograms 
  • and of course, lets not forget the ones that pop in to my head when I least expect it and I just have to start!
Completed and being released once the pattern has been written:
  • Gingerbread Felt House Decorations
  • Advent Calendar Felt Decorations (we have little something special planned for these this December!)
There are of course various 'inactive' projects, but these are mostly the 'ones for me', that inevitably fall to the bottom of the list to be finished one of these days, or projects that I feel, whilst promising at the start, don't quite live up to what I hoped for.

I know this may seem slightly bonkers to have so much going on at any one time and of course, when I share progress pictures, I realise that they can take months (and months) to come to fruition.  However, please bear with me as this style of working suits me very well, as I'm able to pick up the project that I'm most in the mood for... whether that be a little English paper piecing, embroidery, hand quilting or applique...you get my drift! This way, even though my stitching is on the whole 'work' based, it doesn't feel like 'work'... I sew because I LOVE it  so much and it genuinely feels like happy stitches all the time.

It would be lovely if I was able to sew all day, but most of my sewing is done well in to the evening, as my days are filled with all the other aspects of running a creative business and of course alongside being a mum, wife and new puppy owner too (as if I didn't have enough going on).

My weekdays on average, normally look a little like this:

Monday to Friday, the alarm goes off at 6am and I'm down stairs dressed and ready for action by 6:30, when Andy leaves for work.  This is when I look at Instagram and Facebook over at least one, mostly two mugs of tea.  It has always been really important to me to try and reply to all the kind comments left, so this is when I do that.....sometimes it can take nearly an hour!  I also if I have time, like to do some sketching of new designs.  

7am I am now in full mum mode, we have breakfast, I make pack ups and then I spend the next half hour sounding like a talking clock counting down, so that they leave the house by 8am on time to walk to school.

8am is walking time for Pepper, our 8 month old Standard Schnauzer...gosh what a bundle of fun she is, although I do find myself crying with laughter and also nearly crying with despair at various points throughout the week.  I do love our morning walk though, even in the rain!  She started her next level of dog training classes this week, she's doing her 'Good Citizen Dog Scheme Bronze Award' and at the beginning of the class, the trainer introduced her as follows "Everyone, this is Pepper, she is a Standard Schnauzer.  Standard Schnauzers like to bark ALOT, it isn't you, it's just what they do".  Roll on when she's one, Andy is planning on doing agility with her...I'm hoping it may use up some of her boundless energy! (.....Please don't burst my bubble of hope!)

9am - 4pm (ish)This is when I do all my 'work' jobs.  Mum and I try to do a lot of these things together where we can, some are done individually, but it's very much a partnership, plus dad helps out too.  I split my time between the workshop and working on the computer stuff at home.  Things that have to be done (listed in no particular order) are:
  • Packing website orders  
  • Post run
  • Prep for our existing monthly clubs
  • Restocking kits
  • Pattern writing 
  • Prepping new embroidery designs from paper to printed fabric
  • Emails
  • Maintaining the website
  • Writing the occasional newsletter (I must try harder to send more..but I'm very conscious, not to send too many as to bombard your inboxes..maybe one every month or so, would be good?)
  • Writing and maintaining the Blog (this is my year to get to get back to blogging!)
  • Photographing products and taking pictures for social media
  • Making more little videos (I've shared three now on Instagram and Facebook)..I need to see if I can upload them on here too...leave it with me)
  • Choosing fabrics, threads etc in daylight for evening happy stitches and new projects
  • Ordering stock for kits and clubs
  • Meeting fabric reps to view and order from the current collections
  • Planning for new kits..(packaging/costing/stock availability etc)
  • Plus all the financial side of the business..VAT/Paying Bills/Tax/Book Keeping etc
I normally stop for a quick lunch around 1pm and I have for the last year, actually made myself stop, not eat my lunch whilst working.  Often, I prep our supper now too. I'm a massive fan of batch cooking and tray bakes, which makes life so much easier.  If you have any good recipes...please share!  Would you like a blog post with my favourites?  If I can, I like to do a little stitching for half an hour or so, whilst watching something that only I like and Andy definitely doesn't, on TV.  It clears my mind ready for more 'work'.

4pm - 7pm This is when the kids and Andy get home, so I pop my 'mum' head back on.  I always like to stop and chat with them about how there day has gone, chivy Poppy and Jamie along to do their homework and revision.  It's been a really big school year so far.  Poppy has moved up to senior school, which she is loving and has adapted so well.  For Jamie it's GCSE year and all that that entails.  Depending upon who's about, after school clubs, sport etc, I may get some sewing in too, but I also use this time to sketch out new designs and to do a quick social media check too.  We have supper in this window and Pepper gets another walk too.

7pm - 10pm NOW I get to sew!  This is why the majority of my projects are hand sewn, which I can do on the sofa.  If I do need to machine sew, I generally do this in a spare window we may have on a weekend, only very occasionally do I machine sew in the week.  This year, I also decided that I wanted to learn to knit.  So some evenings, I've stopped sewing around 9pm and have been knitting (all be it very slowly!), but I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

10pm - 10.30pm Bedtime...there's no staying up late in our house and we can never be accused of being night owls!

Whilst I think both mum and I work really hard, I know I am so lucky to do a job that I love.  In truth, I find it hard to switch of and neither of us probably do not take as much time off as we should, 9 to 5 Monday to Friday definitely doesn't exist...something that we're trying hard to get a little more balance with.  However, it does provide me with so much flexibility, so for example, if the children are poorly, I can stop and look after them...that is really important to me.  So, thank you for all your support, it really does mean so much to us and enabling Pretty Fabrics and Trims to grow..but not too big that it loses the bones and spirit of what we have now!

Wishing you lots of happy stitches for the weekend ahead!
Sarah xo

PS...do you like the 'new look' blog?  Unfortunately, I lost the automatic signature at the end of my previous/historic blog posts, so I'm sorry for the now, rather abrupt endings. BUT I'm so much happier with how it looks.  You can now 'pin' my images more easily...if you hover over them the Pinterest 'P' now appears.  Plus the grid format on the blog home page, make it easier for you to see all my recent posts without having to scroll through them all.  I'm also in the process of adding a drop down menu undert the 'little happy' tutorials on the main menu to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for..I hope this all helps!!

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