Little Birds and Pesky Packaging…

I’ve always been very conscious of the dilemma of packaging and pricing when working on things for the shop; I’ve written about how important I think it is to deliver parcels in such a way that it feels like you’re opening something special, personally I love to receive things that are prettily wrapped, even if it’s just brown paper and string

DSC_0130 DSC_0146I’ve seen this done really well recently in many of the vintage clothing parcels that come my way (the above were from simplicityisbliss and 1940sThrowback…..I think….so sorry if I’ve got either wrong!).  Packaging I think I have nailed, but I find the postage bit a total nightmare, especially since Royal Mail put up their prices, it’s become even harder to make sure that I can get items into the ‘large letter’ category (costing 93p), as they HAVE to be under 25mm in depth, otherwise they slip into the pricing band classed as ‘small parcel’ and the price leaps up to a whopping £3.20, so you can see why it’s important.


Which brings me to some new Little Birds that have been waiting in the wings for quite a while, simply because I couldn’t decide how to packaged them so their tails would survive intact and they wouldn’t cost more to post than their individual price, which would be silly.

I’d originally (the first blue/red ones were made up a couple of winters ago) imagined them to feature on a folded card, so they could be given at Christmas, as I really like the idea of sending cards that also double as a small gift, but as the rose brooch cards never went down that well (people always opted for the same brooch alone), I abandoned that plan.DSC_0178Instead I decided to keep it simple and just mount the individual birds on my regular card stock.


The cards were cut down (they come A5 size) and the corners rounded.

DSC_0186As you can see, the little birds are quite plump, and along with the acorns do pose the problem of width when it comes to that pesky 25mm restriction.


So out came all my existing card envelopes and I finally settled on white DVD envelopes.  They allow enough space for the tails and they keep the birds squished enough in girth.DSC_0189The birds have been mounted with a bow above each as I think it looks pretty.

DSC_0188They come in turquoise, cerise and the original cool blue and red.

DSC_0149 I’m not sure how well they will sell, but I’m glad to finally empty the box they have been living in for months and get them listed.DSC_0151

You can find them here…although I’m away right now and I’ve turned the shopping bag feature off…but the shop will be open again soon, I promise.DSC_0176


I was unsure how to approach this post, or if I even intended to write about it all.  In this space, I try to balance being honest without getting into the details of my personal life, party because those details often involve other people, and I don’t think I have a right to mention them more than in passing, and also because I don’t think people want to read about the mundane or gloomy bits, I figure there are other blogs they might choose to for that, written by people who are more eloquent on the subject of ‘life’, it’s not why folk come here.  My space it simply a blog about my sewing with a bit of family and home life thrown in, but I don’t believe I can let this pass without a mention and as M himself wrote about it so brilliantly on Facebook (don’t judge, it was by far the easiest way to get the news out there and we both agreed beforehand), I’m going to quote him:

“Exactly 11 years ago Beth Foster and I got married at Ripley Castle in Yorkshire.  
While we had a great run, we have now decided to go our separate ways. We will remain friends and continue to have the highest respect for each other, but think it will be best for us and our wonderful children if we live our own lives going forward.

No tears were shed, no lawyers hired and we are both very excited about our respective futures. 
So I think congratulations are in order”
I had so much more to write on the subject, but when it actually comes down to it I feel the above says enough.  We’re good.  It wasn’t an easy decision but it’s the right one and I’m optimistic we will remain good friends.
The coming year will involve many decisions; where to live, how to support myself and the boys, and as a result this blog could go two ways, I’ll either be sewing like a crazy person to get The Linen Cat up to a full-time job, or I’ll be working elsewhere and the sewing will become just a hobby.  Certainly for now, I’ll be staying in this space and blogging as usual and simply seeing how it all goes.
wild flowers
Right now we’re enjoying our last family holiday together in my beloved Yorkshire and I’m finding comfort and peace in the landscape I love.

Royal Doulton Fable Tablewear…

Super quick post to share my new crush…


Royal Doulton Fable Tableware.  As discovered whilst trying to find some new white crockery (oh how I wish M would like these…but I know he wont, so I’ll stick with white as I always do…besides it goes with everything that way I suppose) on the John Lewis website.

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That’s all.  Back to hanging out with the kiddies :)

Gardening Apron…

UPDATE: I just changed the name to Red Hand Apron and now I have the theme to the Red Hand Gang running through my head…..showing my age there ;)

Finally, something new to show you!  I know, it’s a miracle!!  To be honest, I had thought it might be the end of the summer holidays before I actually got around to getting anything photographed and listed, but we had a rare hazy cloud this morning, so before (the last, for a while – hurrah!) school run, I took some swift photos so I could finally share at least one of the new designs.

Winter 77019The idea for this design goes way back, actually to when I was scanning my Dad’s slides some years ago.  The image of these jolly little dungarees, kindly modelled by my brother at some point in the late 70’s, coincided with my want to make an apron, I loved the idea of the simple red hand on denim.  It was around this time, that I got distracted by the Apple Aprons, but the idea stayed with me and was always on the list of ‘must’ makes.


Skip a few years to early 2013, when I saw and bought this linen (Lecien-Isso Ecco and Heart – Red Birds and Trees), specifically for the project, but by then I was a bit aproned out and decided to take a break from sewing on miles and miles of bias binding.

DSC_0061This Spring, I became excited by the garden.  I’d rather lost my focus in recent years, I find I feel a bit thinly spread sometimes and often it’s things like the garden that suffer, but with renewed enthusiasm I decided to get on with the gardening aprons (it was always an apron for the garden in my head, no idea why!) as it’s something I wanted to use myself.  DSC_0062I pulled fabrics from stock and had a play to decide on the pocket details.  After trying all kinds of ideas, including solid block stripes of linen at the top, I settled on a subtle line of ric-rac peeking out of the seam of the ‘hand’.  I really like it, it adds a simple detail without going over-board.


There are a few changes in method from the apple aprons.  I only included 2 pleats on the waistband and they aren’t stitched down plus they have been moved slightly further apart so they fall above the hand opening.DSC_0091 The waist ties are not bound in bias binding, but have a little sandwiched between the seams, so it allows for the same look as the apple aprons but removes the nightmare that was involved in attaching those to the apron bib.  It’s these little details that keep me awake at night.  These bibs had been half stitched for some time, but I couldn’t decide on how to finish off the ties themselves, I imagine sewing things together in my head when I’m trying to sleep, which can be annoying but it usually results in a solution and I’m especially pleased with this one.

DSC_0049All the fabric is pre-washed (40 degrees, wool wash, because of the linen) and I was pleased to be able to use denim from my stash as well as the royal blue linen on the apron reverse.  Because it was stash denim and I practically used every last inch, there is a single join in each of the apron tie lengths, but it’s quite neat looking so I’m happy with that.
DSC_0114They are listed here on my own website.  My Folksy shop is rather neglected but I’ll be filling it up in September, when I come to list all the new stock.

I’m rushing to get this post written and published, I’d forgotten how long it takes to edit photos, and get the whole lot uploaded to the shop, or that I’d need to do this before blogging; but I’m keen to be done with this one before I pick the boys up.

I’m sure I’ll be blogging here and there, over summer, but if not, see you on the other side!


I Hear Thunder…

Today I’m sweating in the studio (nice image huh?!) as I do all the time in this crazy heat, whilst waiting for the thunder storms to come.  I do hope they arrive, I woke at 2am last night and could hear lots of  rumbling in the distance, the sky was flashing like crazy and I couldn’t get back to sleep so I watched and waited in eager anticipation for the storms to reach us and total bummer, they never did!  They just passed by in the distance, hence another hot and sticky start to the day.


Lack of sleep and complete boredom of the weather means I’m taking it easy today.  I have been ploughing slowly through work, it’s been quite therapeutic to empty the project boxes as each one is completed, some of these have been on the go for years now.  I have new things ready to show but I need to photograph and list them first, and for that I definitely need cooler weather, ideally with a little light cloud to soften the shadows; although my Lightcase has arrived, so I could try that out for some of the smaller items.

DSC_0059 I’ve just bought two large pencil bundles from Ebay.  They are the old design Derwent Studio ones as I much prefer them to the newer style.  I received my first big tin of these when I was in sixth form, I clearly remember them being a main Christmas present, they were super expensive at the time.  What’s left of my stash (added to over the years) sits in a jar in my studio, but F keeps ‘borrowing’ them for his drawing as he prefers the selection to his own collection (I’ve no idea why as the boys have so many pencils and crayons between them), my aim is to get a set together for each of the boys, so they leave mine alone!  I also like the idea of using them in product photos, so I’ll naturally be keeping a set back for myself.  I love seeing them all lined up in a row.DSC_0066I’m gathering together gifts for the teachers, all a bit late this year as I’m not very organised.  One of the teachers is due to have a baby soon and as the most common thing I sell for little ones is the linen mice, C has written a message on this one’s bum that I’ve machine embroidered over.  I’m not very inspired, otherwise, and it might be the remaining flower brooch cards….or lavender birds….or recurrent jelly made by the boys for the others.  I need to decided this weekend as school’s nearly out for summer.


I was pleased to find an excuse to finish these linen boys up though, they’ve been half made for a good year or so.  I’m not sure why all the others were completed at the time I started them and these three were abandoned at the leg attaching stage but it’s another project box I can empty and it keeps my stock topped up.DSC_0040Now it’s time to just wait for that gentle pitter patter or rain, or ideally a torrential downpour!


Tudor Boy….6?

I am pretty sure I never published this post showing the (final?) outing of the Tudor Boy costume and as it’s the end of the school year, now seems a good time to finish it and press the button.  I’m afraid these entries are often more for my own record than anything else, so you might want to skip this one…oh and if you’re waiting for shop sewing there will be so many posts in a row in a few weeks time, you’ll be sick of them all!!

DSC_0253 DSC_0054DSC_0020DSC_0018Back in March The Tudor Boy costume came out again.  I think this is about the 6th time it has been worn by the boys, it really was a good make but is definitely getting a little too tight now (I originally made it for my oldest when he was in reception, as above), although it might get another outing yet.

DSC_0016See how happy C is about wearing it…again…he moaned sooooo much that I ended up getting quite cross.  He’s quite particular and couldn’t get past the fact that is was 1666 History Day and not actually Tudor Day so he figured the costume was wrong, I struggled to get him to understand that this outfit is fine to wear for both.  You can see the original post for the costume here…..I am sorry it’s doesn’t really offer any help in drafting your own pattern, I get endless emails on the back of it asking if I have one (a pattern, that is) and I feel terribly guilty explaining I just made one especially for my own kid but have no record of it and if I’m honest, it’s to complicated for me to attempt to explain how to draft one to share on-line.

DSC_0146Also early this year, F needed a costume for the school play, and knowing how well the Tudor one has done (and knowing a similar style will be needed again in the coming couple of years) I made a kind of generic ‘ye olden days’ tunic and shirt.  Annoyingly F has had a growth spurt and I’m afraid it might not even last for the next two years, despite my making it a  bit large.

DSC_0020 DSC_0022I’ve been sorting all my online photos and it’s been really good to have them nicely filed.  In the ‘school’ folder from this year I also have ‘bad hair day’.  Here is F rocking a mohican.  What a moody monster :)  I have no idea where he gets the grumpy attitude from *ahem*.

DSC_0016And nonchalantly strangling his brother.  Says it all really.

charlie australian dayIn case you are mistaken in thinking that I always make costumes for the boys, here’s a more recent one,  C for Australia Day – G’day Folks! – Hat with corks, boomerang and kangaroo in pocket and beach wear…no stereotyping there then!


Any my fav bought costume of this year, a cloak and tie for F for Harry Potter Day, along with chop stick wand.  Job done.  Actually this was a great buy, it’s an adult size (I have learnt to buy adult sizes for F in fancy dress costumes as he’s very tall and I find the cheap stuff comes up small) the cloak is actually quite well made.  It’s well cut and stitched, plus fully lined, there is no way I could have made one for the £15 it cost…there was a fear it might self-combust due to the synthetic fiber content but otherwise it was great.

That concludes my quick round-up of some of this year’s school costumes, I wonder what we’ll need for 2015?

Butterflies at the Natural History Museum…

I went to London last Tuesday, all on my own, complete with book to read on the train (well Kindle…on my phone actually, Robert Harris ‘Enigma’ which I loved) to see the Wedding Dress exhibition at the V&A.  It was great, not just the exhibition itself, but sitting on the train reading, having lunch in the museum and wandering around the galleries without bored kids in tow.


But it made me feel guilty, as we rarely take the kids ‘into town’ and it’s only a 40 min train ride into Victoria, so I decided to take advantage of an inset day on the Friday and I took them to see the Butterflies at The Natural History Museum.  M was away for his IronMan in Austria (he did it – hurrah!) so it was just me and the munchkins and it was good fun.  They became a bit tired and whiny by the afternoon and we ran out of steam and didn’t get around even half of the Museum, we’ve been before and will, no doubt, go again so this wasn’t a problem.


The butterflies were great, it was quiet, there was certainly no need to have pre-booked our tickets, in fact we were allowed to go in early as there was no queue.  Of course, like everyone else, I had my phone out the entire time attempting to snap photos of the ever moving beauties, but I made lots of time to just watch them and it was fascinating seeing the long, curled tongues sipping nectar.  I’d have loved a shot of the chrysalis, all lined up, as they really were fascinating, but that area was quite busy and I don’t like to take photos at the expense of blocking other people’s views.


Charlie was keen to get his phone/camera out too and if you’re wondering why F has his hoodie up, it’s because the very first thing that happened when we stepped inside the tent, was a butterfly landed on his head and he instinctively tried to swat it only to have me yell at him in horror.  Luckily it flew off before he smacked his own head, but he thought it best to put his hood up just in case it happened again.  I think killing the exhibits might be frowned upon ;)


They loved both my frock and newly dyed hair.  My top tip?  Go through the side entrance to the museum (the butterfly tent is outside so you don’t enter from the museum anyway) as the queue was ridiculous, it was very, very long and I got totally confused why no-one was using another entrances, apparently it was simply because they don’t know to, or so the guard told me.


Back home, I struggled to get going this morning.  My attempt to re-arrange the studio and shoehorn all my ‘stuff’ in has got out of hand.  I had hit the stage when it felt like I’ve been working for days but with no obvious results so I woke determined to sort things out.  It hasn’t helped that I’ve not been sleeping very well, largely down to the humid weather we’ve been having.  I waited patiently for the forecast rain all weekend, but it never arrived, we had the odd spot, but not the stormy showers I was expecting and certainly not enough to clear the air.  Not only does it make our bedroom (built into the original loft) hot but the studio and kitchen, with all its glass is like working in a sauna.


Today, I finally feel like I made it over the hump, as it were, and I can step into my workroom without tripping up on piles of boxes.  Again, I’ve made myself crack on with unfinished jobs.  The old office chair, kindly given to me by my bosses at The Imperial War Museum (it was out by the bins ready for collection but is, apparently, a designer classic, clearly no-one knew that or I’m sure they’d have never have let me scavenge it!!) has been re-covered ready to go into F’s new room.  Phew, another unnecessary thing removed from ‘my’ space (I use M’s Aeron chair, which is much better for my back and currently has no home…it’s a bit like his old camera, I figure if I borrow it long enough it just becomes mine…no?  Have I got that wrong ;)).


It’s the second time I’ve re-covered it, the first was done in the nice vintage gold linen, but that had worn through, so I’ve gone for a super heavy blue tweed.  It doesn’t feel that nice to touch (it really is very weighty, when I sewed the Weekender Bag above, which I originally bought the fabric for, I nearly cried trying to get the side seams stitched together, with their multiple layers!) but it’s tough and should cope with a little boy mistreating it.

Nearly forgot to mention the lovely cushion came from Felicity at Eclectic Handmade.

DSC_0259 2

I’ve also finally glued and waxed a rocking horse I’ve had since I was a kid.  Yet more of the typical ‘junk’ I hoard.  This has followed me around for years, I stripped it back in 2009, and sadly I can see from the photo I took at the time (as above) that storing it in the roof alcove, directly in front of a glass window, has done it no good and has left me with cracked paint to deal with.


Oh well, it’s glued back together and waxed, maybe I’ll find time in another 5 years to give the head a coat of varnish to stop it flaking even more ;)

I need to get back to sewing now, I am very aware how quickly this school term is flying.  Tick tock and all that!