Tree Fairies…

I packed up the last of the acorn brooches today, thanks to Folksy, for linking through from Facebook, which was rather nice of them.  I was really lucky and got positive comments, because, I tell you, I couldn’t help noticing recently a Folksy featured photo on FB (of a piece of work that I thought was fabulous) got some quite mean and critical comments….why?  What happened to ‘if you can’t say something nice, shut up!’, I just don’t get it, but then I’m totally soft like that and generally hate the idea of hurting anyone’s feelings so I’d just keep my mouth shut if I didn’t like something, I’d certainly not go out of my way to write a negative or snide comment.  People are weird.

2.fairies+miceStill, back to the post.  It’s all very pink around here, as part of my effort to work through all the half-finished boxes, I finally came around to the fairies.  I’ve been avoiding them, they were started so long ago (2009, as you can read here) and part of the problem is I’ve learnt a lot in those intervening years so I would probably make them quite differently now,
DSC_0036but I couldn’t leave the poor bodies, already with faces embroidered on (if they hadn’t been sewn to this stage, I’m pretty sure I’d have binned them as it’s the mainly body making method that I would change) sitting any longer in their box, looking lonely, so I figured I should get them finished.  I had fun (not really) trying to find a ribbon match as the original one I used is no longer made, I tried out quite a few but they just didn’t look right.

DSC_0038Hair was plaited from a huge bag of wool I once bought specifically for this project.DSC_0200They were hanging out on the bed, in my studio, on one of my Gran’s old eiderdowns whilst at the bald, alien looking stage.  I love all the pretty pink colours together. DSC_0192 And finally, after a few days hand sewing, they are done.  Phew, and ‘tick’ to the ever-decreasing list.DSC_0193 So what would I change if I were starting from scratch?  Well mainly how the body is constructed, back then was in the pre big bag making/sewing boom that allows easy buying of pelmet weight interfacings etc, plus there weren’t nearly so many on-line fabric shops back in 2009 and if I remember correctly, these were constructed with multi layers of standard dressmaking interfacing to try and get the bodies as stiff as possible, which wasn’t all that stiff!  Don’t get me wrong, they work (mine is still put on the top of the tree yearly and will be until is disintegrates!) but it bothered me so I cut holes in the body areas of these and shoved wire as far as I could into the legs and arms.  It’s better and definitely makes me happier but I would just approach the construction differently now.DSC_0197 For those who are new to the blog, you can click the link at the start of this post to go back and read how they originally came about, but basically they are a fabric copy of my Gran’s tree fairy, which I grew up with as a child.  My Mum kindly brought it down one Christmas to put on the tree when the boys were born, after which she came to us so often that she told me to just keep her.  The card and paper fairy is quite fragile now and mostly lives in a box, out of direct sunlight to try to keep her in one piece, but re-visiting the sewn version prompted me to get her put into a box frame (which I was always planning to do) so she can be propped in the mantle piece, come December.DSC_0202As with the original batch, they look quite different from each other once they get hair, some are a tad grumpy or cross-eyed looking but I do think it’s part of the charm.

DSC_0186They are listed in the shop and I’m happy to see a nice tidy box, with just my remaining sample left :)

Heather Hues…

I started writing a very different post, all about big decisions (like where to live) and such, but quite frankly it all felt too serious so I deleted it and instead will just get straight to the subject.

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On of my favourite times of the year to visit the Yorkshire Dales is when the heather is out, it’s when I’m most keen to go walking and not just because the weather is often at it’s best but because I just love the colours.  I took this photo back in August, when I last visited, it’s taken from Burnsall Fell looking back down on the village, I realise that G+ has done some nifty ‘Auto Awesome’ thing but the heather hues and greens are so pretty so it’s exactly what I imagine when I picture home.DSC_0207 It’s also why I tend to think of this purse as my ‘Yorkshire’ purse, the colours in the tweed reflecting my mind’s image of the colours of Yorkshire, of green rolling hills and Dales and heather moors (OK, I know this is totally romanticised and often it’s actually grey and pissing it down….which reminds me, I once saw a program about buying houses, it was for some Yorkshire lady who’d moved to Australia who was trying to make the big decision of whether to move her family back, apparently someone from ‘home’ had sent her a video of driving around in the rain for an hour to remind her how grim it really is, only she kept watching the video in repeat and feeling homesick as she actually missed the Northern rain – that would SO be me!!!).DSC_0200Sorry for those with good memories who have read about these purse colours from the first time I made this combination, but it proved so popular I wanted to make a second batch.DSC_0187I’m so in love with the brown tweed, with it’s lime green and purple shades running through, I think it’s my favourite so far and I’ve still got enough squirrelled away for a 1940’s suit.DSC_0205

As I’ve covered this subject before, there isn’t much more to say, simply that they are back in the shop.DSC_0121Whilst I was in purse making mode, I figured I’d add another acorn version.  DSC_0120I liked the idea of sticking to brown tweeds for this one, although there is a hint of wine red in the herringboneDSC_0194and for a contrast pop of colour, I lined them in orange silk.
DSC_0200 The down side of using silk is it shows every little crease and bump and even though I’m super careful to push the bag evenly into the frame, it’s inevitable that there are some bumps that look worse for being in a shiny fabric….this really annoys me, as I’m sure those who know me can imagine.DSC_0221 DSC_0235I’m nearly there with all the shop posts, I know it’s been a bit ‘product’ heavy around here and I’m quite looking forward to working on new things, even possibly some sewing for myself which has become a rare thing around here these days.  Watch this space ;)

Vampire Mice…

For those who’ve been reading this blog for some time, you may remember that I once stitched a vampire mouse for my oldest son, he loves anything scary and both boys had requested special linen mice so a vampire and Batman version were created (you can read about it here).
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After planning the witch mice, I didn’t want to leave the boys out and thought I’d add some little boy vampires, complete with capes and flouncy sleeves.
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They are pretty much the same as the original, only I’ve used black silk where I had used linen and the medallion is a little tidier.  I also didn’t add the embroidered blood dripping off the teeth as F was never entirely keen on that part!!
DSC_0228Of course, if there is to be a boy vampire, they really should be a girl too and I got quite excited over the idea of making her a nice beaded cape, I have a Victorian one in my collection that Mum once gave me and I went to find it for inspiration only to discover it wasn’t quite as fancy as I’d remembered it to be (still pretty though).

DSC_0045 Instead I found this AMAZING Edwardian dress which I had totally forgotten I owned.  It’s bigger than a lot of my other antique clothing in that it’s probably nearer a modern size 12, which is possibly why I’d passed it by, I was about a size 8 when I was in the phase of wearing the things I collected, I cringe now to think I regularly dressed in some beautiful, delicate, beaded numbers, it’s a miracle they survived.DSC_0042It’s quite faded in places and the silk is damaged but it’s covered in the most beautiful bead work, I spent quite a bit of time studying it before carefully packaging it back up and storing it away in a large trunk where I keep much of my antique clothing.DSC_0164I then went on an extensive search for beaded lace etc, to use on the little mouse capes, it was at this point I found the lovely panels I used on the vampire bags.
DSC_0188The cape ended up with a little bead fringe and some sequined lace pieces and is lined in russet silk.DSC_0214 The rest of the mouse is essentially the same as the witch, partly because I had the supplies I needed already in stock, the crochet bias binding had been bought in a 25 meter roll and both coloured silks were in my stash, also as I’d spent time working out the best variants of the design for the witch already, there seemed little point trying to change things.DSC_0210She was super tricky to photograph with the face being in such pale linen and the body all black, I have to consider that I need all photographs to sit well together on my other site and for this I have a preference for pale backgrounds.  I can imagine it would have been easier to use a coloured background but then they wouldn’t have matched everything else.DSC_0234DSC_0242 DSC_0247Both vampires are now in the shop, a couple of you who are very quick off the mark have already spotted them, so thank you for that, they will be posted out today.

That’s the last of the Halloween themed things, I really enjoyed making them and maybe I’ll add more next year, but for now I need to move on to Christmas, I know it’s still ages away but in shop terms it’s not, I’ve already started selling little birds for the tree and some items intended as festive gifts.  As for mince pies already being in the supermarket – no, I say! That’s just crackers ;)

 

Witches…

As predicted, the weather has turned and we’ve moved into Autumn proper, complete with its overcast, rainy days and a definite chill in the air in the mornings.  On Facebook, there is even much talk amongst the Yorkshire folk of turning the heating on, of course if they are true Yorkshire people that wont happen until it reaches under 3 degrees (right A?! – hee hee).

DSC_0148With this in mind, I spent some of the weekend making use of the last clear skies to try to photograph anything black, with mixed results.  I’d prefer better shots, but I’m aware of time slipping away so here we go with (first up) the witch mice specials.

DSC_0145There isn’t a lot to say here as it’s all kind of obvious.  I had some green linen left over after sewing apple aprons and I couldn’t resist stitching up some little Elphaba style witches for Halloween, especially as I haven’t sewn a Linen Mouse Special for ages.  Again, I had quite elaborate plans that didn’t entirely come to pass.

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The body is made from black silk with pleat details and black crochet edged bias binding.  I had thought about using some of my antique button stash for the embellishments, but when it came down to it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do so, I realised that the cost per button, verses the difference it would make to the finished mouse, instead of just using modern buttons wouldn’t scale, and I’d be sad to see the buttons go as I have been saving them for a special project for years.DSC_0196I was also a little bit worried about the fact that they are glass and might easily chip or break.  In the end I sourced some little shell-like buttons for the shoes and some nice metallic looking numbers for the front of the dress.

DSC_0193What else? Oh I had imagined this little mouse to have a proper witches hat on, covered in feathers and some beading, but despite trying over and over I couldn’t get a pattern to work that fitted over the ear in any way and looked correct, so I opted for a beaded brooch that can be pinned on the head.DSC_0161 DSC_0158I struggled quite a lot trying to get photos, I am no genius with the camera and really need to learn how to use it manually, for now I relay entirely on the editing tool in my iPhoto library or Photoshop, you can see from above how much difference it can make, DSC_0204and had really hoped to take some ‘life style’ shots but this is as far as I got.

DSC_0209I did take this last photo whilst I had some of my collected junk gathered together for use as possible props and it got me thinking that I might like to try some still life style set-ups in future, I just need to play around a bit more and see what works.

For now, though, the witches can be found here :)

Spider Purses…

Thanks for the fantastic response to the Victorian/Vampire purses, I was really pleased to see them go to people who often buy my work, I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate anyone who comes back for more, it’s one of the biggest compliments I can imagine.  It can be a bit isolating working from home in the cocoon of my own little world, during the week I rarely get to bounce ideas off other creative people or, these days, rarely even get to talk to any grown-ups on a daily base, other than the school run (is that the sound of a violin I can hear in the background – ha ha!).  I’m not complaining, but it has got me thinking; if I held a kind of informal garden party next Spring, would any of you that read this blog be interested in coming along?  For context, I live less than an hour away from London, in Kent, and on the train line from Victoria.  For anyone slightly further afield, there are nice places to stay in the village (lots of B&B’s) and the garden is big enough for a few tents to be pitched.  I just thought it might be a good way to meet some of the people I’ve been talking to via the internet for years.  Just a thought.

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Back to the post, which is oh so imaginatively titled.

So, when I was  buying the sequin and bead panels for the last purses, I spotted these spiders and couldn’t resist.  I knew exactly how I planned to use them and for once stuck with the original idea, creating a patchwork of black fabrics (in silk, velvet and linen) and over stitching with gold thread.

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That really is it.  I did consider (for ages) how I wanted to do the spider’s web, I tried a more curved shape, but it looked best a little stylised and straight, so I stuck with that.

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The spiders are very firmly stitched on, so I’m happy to know they wont be going anywhere in a hurry.

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The lining is in gold silk and the clip frames are a smaller size (6 inches/15 cm) plus there is no inside pocket.

DSC_0220This was my only disaster really, as I just assumed I had 4 frames, but when I came to glue them, I could only find 2 and no-one in the UK stocked the original size, in fact even a worldwide search came up fruitless so I was getting a bit desperate when I finally found a Hong Kong Etsy seller who had a few in stock – phew, that would have been a lot of work wasted had it not turned out good.

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As a result, I only got around to glueing the final two purses into their frames today (they’ve been stored away with all the other Halloween designs) and although I’d prefer to wait a while for the glue smell to disappear, I think I need to get them listed now.  So here they are.

Mice next!

Victorian Mourning Purses…or Vampire Purses!

So how did I really get along with all those plans to ‘get ahead’ this year?

DSC_0093Pretty well in all honesty, the above photo being taken all the way back in June, how about that for thinking ahead!  The problem wasn’t so much the making as the photographing everything, which I had planned to do in the summer holidays but due to various life dramas, didn’t manage to pull off; the issue here being that you need the right light to get good photos of ‘black’ but lucky me, we’ve held onto some really lovely weather recently, resulting in days with nicely naturally diffused light which has been just perfect.

DSC_0050First up (I have kind of given the game away with the top photo of what’s coming this week) is my favourite purse yet and I guess I should start with the inspiration.  When I was teenager I started to collect antique clothing, something my Mum encouraged (she gave me many of the things in my collection, along with my Gran), I particularly loved anything Victorian and black, and ideally beaded.  Back in those days, especially when I was at art college, I often wore the clothing too, as I was lucky enough to be quite thin and managed to fit into it all.  Then there was a fire in one of the student houses I lived in and much of my collection when up in smoke, I was so upset and I sifted through, attempting to salvaged any bits of the lace and beadwork as it was too beautiful to throw away; my original thinking was that I would love to use some of these pieces on purses, with (ideally!) vintage silk and velvet as a backdrop.

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Well it didn’t pull off, as I couldn’t find my bag of smokey lace and bead bits and when I attempted to source some, along with vintage fabric remnants, the price was frightening.  Instead, I opted for buying some lovely modern bead, sequin and appliqued panels and some cotton velvet.  I did use some silk fabric that I’ve had in a box for years and years, it was intended for use as decoration on a period hat I made in night classes but it has such a perfect, slightly dense weight that I decided to cut into it.

DSC_0188The beaded applique cost a pretty penny, but I think it really works.  I went a little overboard when stitching it on, and even re-stitched each bead and sequin into place so they don’t ever drop off.  I added machine pleats to the silk, which really reminds of one of the coats that went up in smoke all those years ago, it was covered in pleats and beads, a really beautiful thing *sob*.

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The lining is in russet silk.  I have vampires on the brain at the moment, my next book in line to read is Dracula and I made my brother drive us to Whitby when I spent a couple of days with him over summer, it was a lot, A LOT busier than I remembered it from my teenage years, which is probably when I last went and I was so determined to buy some Victorian Whitby Jet but it was all out of my price range :(  Still, I digress, the thing is I also kind of think of this as a ‘Vampire’ purse, hence the timing of listing it before Halloween and the contrast of black with red silk; incidentally, I’d have loved to use a vivid scarlet red, but I’ve been making a point of using up my fabric stash and so russet it is.

DSC_0193I’ve stuck with my favourite 8 inch (20cm) antiqued bobble clip frame.  I love these, I do have other frames waiting to be used but for this purse, this frame is just perfect.

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This is a makes where I’m tempted to keep one back for myself, I really, really like it, but I have to stop sneaking one aside as I will end up with more purses than I can use and never make any money!  I did list one on Folksy, but it sold the same day (thank you C!!) so there are just the ones on my shop site now.

I hope to crack on with the rest of my Halloween listings this coming week, I still have photos to take so it depends on whether the weather plays ball, but I’m secretly ready for a chillier tone now and some tweed and wool to come out…just not until after I’ve finished photographing black!

They came…they went!

I feel quite bad as I know some people have been waiting ages for some new Tweed Bunny Purses and as I was updating the shop site, I added some pink ones that I have been sewing since….um…2011…..and they almost all sold in the last couple of days, directly after I popped them online.  Sorry.  I promise there are more coming, but for now the last one is here.

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