Mothers Day and Flower Brooches

It appears I had forgotten about Mothers Day.  To be honest, in the past I’d have been lucky to get a lie in, let alone a present (I took to buying my own, in the end!) and as my lovely Mum is no longer here, it tends to just get forgotten about.  To give the boys credit, they have realised as it must have been mentioned at school and they are planning a day of Star Wars stuff !!!!??? (I think that means us all running around the house like loons playing with lightsabers….I was thinking more training them to be able to make nice coffee and a lie-in, but I don’t have to heart to tell them that).

DSC_0001It’s something I need to be better at, in the future (with the exception of Valentines Day, which I have always hated, if I’m honest), recognising special days and holidays and promoting my work accordingly.  I do make a lot of things aimed toward Christmas but the rest of the year tends to be forgotten about.DSC_0005I’m sewing in the kitchen today, party because I’m attending to a sick hen (Audrey) who’s hanging out on the kitchen table in a guinea pig house (she’s actually no longer sick, but needs one more day of antibiotics before I put her back with the others) so it’s all about hand sewing, which as usual means Flower Brooches, which really would have been a good thing to shout about with Mums in mind.DSC_0050The very first one of these was made for my own Mother, way back when (I just tried to find the post to link it, but I have no idea what year it was).  I’d totally forgotten that the original brooches were mounted on cards, I really liked the idea of giving a card that also has a gift on it….no-one else was that bothered though and most people opted to buy the brooches on their own.DSC_0028The first one was a nice pretty pink, as above, shortly followed by the buttercup (which I should make more of as I haven’t done them for a while!!).DSC_0051There have been many versions over the years,DSC_0001and they featured (as they still do) on my tweed bags (above the original ones with zips).DSC_0016They’ve also made it into quite a few magazines, including Country Living, which was a bit of a highlight!DSC_0031DSC_0039Flower Brooch Auricula Green in HandFlower Brooch Auricula Green BackDSC_0059DSC_0166DSC_0192

DSC_0008They are one of my designs that I’m most proud of as there are so many variations that can be worked using the same base and they are quite fun to make, although there is a lot of work involved for the final selling price.DSC_0007Well, for all those who are celebrating this weekend, I hope you have a really lovely time with your loved ones…..I’ll be donning my Princess Leia outfit and hanging out with small boys, who could wish for more:)

PS, I know most people write Mother’s Day, but I always think of it as being Mothers, plural.  Perhaps that’s just me…and then I guess it should be Mothers’ Day….maybe?  I never was any good at grammar.

PPS I don’t need an answer to my terrible grammar, anyone reading my blog knows it’s not my forte

Vintage Summer Deer Apron

Following on from the success of the Winter Deer Apron I made *ahem* in 2013 (which you can read all about here),

DSC_0031it was obvious to me to have a go at a summer version, ideally in pretty pink and again using a vintage style deer in the applique.  For those who have been reading my blog for some time, you’ll know the apron itself is an original 1958 pattern that I rather fell in love with (again, more info on the original post) but I adorned it with a deer and trees in my winter version, instead of the cowboy Santa.c76e98340f57083f6f36067cf55f03d3I don’t think I’ve ever showed the deer I used for the apron (I showed some Decal deers which were the front runners at the time).  It’s a plastic vintage one, it comes up for sale all the time in Etsy and such, I’m assuming it’s from the 1950’s and this one even has it’s bell intact!  So cute, it always makes me think of Babycham.DSC_0076For the new apron, the deer got a new stance, I was aiming for Bambi style bottom in the air, sniffing a butterfly style.

DSC_0140Looking back at the photos, I kind of wish I’d gone with the grass and fauna of the top sketch, as my final fawn does look a bit like he’s floating in the air….never mind.

DSC_0059Lots of cutting and snipping and ironing.DSC_0139And stitching..DSC_0155And endless hours and hours of sewing on bias binding!!

DSC_0015But finally, a nice little stack of aprons, all ready for Mothers Day.  Or not.  But they would make a lovely Mothers Day gift, I think.  I’m keeping one for myself, anyway.

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I’ve really struggled to take photos today, the sun was blasting down which is a bonus for everything except taking decent shadowless photos and typically, it’s now gone behind a nice hazy cloud, now that I’ve given up and stuck with my rather grey images.

ApronDeerPinkEditedIt’s definitely the down side of always making new things in small batches, each time I have to photograph, edit and list them; but then I’d be bored if I only made a few things over, day after day.

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They are listed here and hopefully (soon) on Folksy.

Right, back to the grind, too much to do and too little time, and my first day with the boys back at school is flying by far too quickly.

 

Auricula Tweed Purses

I’m sewing, sewing, sewing at the moment and then in the evenings I’m trying to plan a new website, but it’s taking FOREVER.  I’d love to down tools and just focus on the re-design, but that’s not very practical.

DSC_0147The logo part is a real struggle, as I keep changing my mind.  I was all sold on committing myself to using a cat in there (I often wish I’d chosen a different shop name, but as I’m known under this one now, it’d be quite difficult to change it, plus I own the web domain etc etc).  Ho-hum, I’ll get there in the end.

DSC_0007I’m still mostly sewing blinds and then Christmas things for the shop (as this is always where I make most profit).  Last year was a bit of a disaster, work wise, what with becoming a single Mum and all.  I did put the hours in, but I didn’t promote my work or get things photographed and listed when I should have.  I think I’m in a good routine now of shop sewing, blind sewing and taking care of the boys.  Time is still very stretched, but it’s a huge benefit working from home, I did look at trying to work part time elsewhere, but the reality of who would look after the boys in school holidays and outside of school hours put a stop to those plans, for now anyway (it’ll be easier once they are both settled into secondary school…only a few more years to go!), plus my boys are quite ‘quirky’ and certainly F needs his time out at home once he’s finished school, he’d find after school club etc quite difficult.DSC_0045.jpgRight now, my focus is on getting the shop updated with all the stock that’s sitting around in boxes so I’m starting with some Auricula Tweed Purses.

DSC_0051.jpgI made the first of these years (I think!) ago for my Sister as a present.  Her’s has a jazzy lining made out of snippets of left over curtain fabric.

ariculapurse2.jpgThese new ones have silk orange linings, which I think give a nice ‘pop’ to them.  I love how the silk contrasts with the tweed and felt.

tweedpurseariculaburgundy.jpgThe only other difference is that the Auricula Brooches are the second generation ones, that have two yellow centre colours.DSC_0180.jpgYou can find them here, hanging out with Gold Bunnies….because you know what time of year is coming up next😉

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The Plan and How Christmas Went

997001_546611032164849_2806534199451118964_nThis is how I’m planning to approach the New Year!  Ha ha, although I do admit that The Linen Cat is due for a very big shake up. Decisions have to be made about what I intend to make in the future and certain lines are going to be resigned to the sale section. I need my sewing to be more profitable, although the main reason my shop has been so stagnant is all the blind and curtain sewing I have been doing, and that has probably brought in a more consistent ‘salary’ so it can’t be sniffed at. Clearly I still need to get my blog mojo back, both writing and reading, or perhaps move onto Facebook? I think that Twitter has defeated me and my Instagram account has about one photo on it. I also think I should open an Etsy shop and start shipping worldwide, but I’ve said that before and not quite got on with it.

DSC_0153(Miss Bumbles little deer and rabbits came out again)

For now, I’ll quickly show my Christmas photos before it’s indecent to do so.DSC_0150I got off to a good start, with pretty much all my gifts bought and even wrapped in early December, which was good as then the kids got sick, and I mean properly sick as in days and days off school and lots of vomiting all over beds.  I then also got sick, but as always didn’t have time to be ill, so just got on with it, as you do.  Not quite as bad as the pneumonia year, but heading that way.DSC_0147 (1)Then Tuppence broke her leg, right when Buster was due in for his SECOND hip operation, so I had two cats hopping about the living room, not allowed outdoors.  Thank goodness for pet insurance or I’d have had to sell one of the children by now.DSC_0138For our tree, I was inspired by Maison Bentley Style and I pulled out all the 70’s and 80’s decorations. DSC_0144A few of these came from home, when Mum and I cleaned out the attic years ago and she put a box of ‘Christmas tat’ aside for the bin and I rescued it, because I’m a hoarder and I can’t help it!DSC_0148It mostly contained these foil baubles, from the early 90’s, I think, and some amazingly hideous but fab foil flowers things she took off some crackers one year.  DSC_0147A lot of the other things came from the mixed Ebay batches I bought years ago when I was buying true vintage (vintage to me still means the first half of the 2oth century) baubles.  I quite often bid on big lots that were very mixed with things from the 30’s to the 90’s as they tended to go very cheaply. It’s funny how things come around again, the foil things rescued from home can now be bought for a handsome price on Ebay, which did make me laugh, as a couple of years ago you couldn’t have given them away.

DSC_0140I took some time this year to go through and pack up decorations in proper storage boxes. I’ve kept one large box of modern things, (my vintage stuff is kept separately) and it was interesting to see how my taste has changed, this layer was from when I first owned my own home, I was all set to send it to the charity shop but the boys objected.

DSC_0144 (1)This is the style I’ve had for the last few years, lots of glass mushrooms and fircones etc, that I mix in with my own shop Little Birds and Christmas Mice.  It made me wonder, as we had a new style tree this year if perhaps my work designs might change too?  I can definitely feel a shift coming, but I can’t imagine ever designing totally differently, I think my work will always have a common thread and be very ‘me’.

DSC_0146I did also have a mini tree in the hallway window (as they are very deep) complete with tiny coloured lights so I could put some of my more delicate and older decorations up – sorry, I forgot to photograph it!

boys and lunchChristmas itself was fab. We had all recovered from our various sicknesses in good time and were lucky to be invited out to France again, with my Sister and other half.beth apron

I’m sorry, I didn’t really take many photos worth sharing here (they are all quite grainy, although I did take lots of the boys opening their gifts, as with secondary school looming, I think this will be the last year they believe plus I don’t actually like having my own photo taken) but my Sister snapped one of me in my ‘posh’ outfit, complete with deer apron.

charlie christmas jumperI love it that the boys also like to dress up for Christmas, Charlie spent quite a bit of time planning his outfits and was insistent that we brought along three different jumpers….for the whole three days we were going to be away!IMG_3112 copy (1)

charlie walkWe did some nice walking (no skiing this year, which was good as there was no snow anyway!).airportAnd ended our stay with the usual 2 hour delay at Geneva airport on or way back.  Oh, we flew from Southend Airport, which I didn’t even know existed and is now my top favourite.  There is easy parking and no waiting for customs etc….it’s a winner for me.

That’s it for now, really.  Most of the dodgy photos of us are for the relatives that read this blog, so sorry about the quality.  I need to go clean the house now as it’s had animals and children running around it for two weeks and looks like a pigsty, but hopefully I’ll find time to catch up on my blog reading later, it’ll be nice to read what everyone else has been up to:)

Vampire Purses, Take Two

One of the most popular things I made last year, were the Spider and Victorian Mourning Purses (click on the links to read all about them!).  DSC_0202

I knew I wanted to make more this year but I really struggled to source some of the materials.  I just cannot find more of the appliqued spiders I originally used (there are other options, which I intend to look into next year) and the heavy silk I used for the Victorian purses has been nearly impossible to find.  DSC_0192

In the end, I bought some heavy twill silk from Beckfords and hand dyed it.  The silk was eye-wateringly expensive, but then I do only need a small amount for each purse.  I did, however, totally avoid dyeing it until the last possible moment.  I initially hand dyed it using Dylon black, but it came out with a very blue tinge, not at all as I’d hoped, so I dyed it again to get a better tone, same dye only in the washing machine.  It worked and it’s almost identical to the silk that I originally used, which incidentally was given to me by a lady running a period millinery course I did years ago at the London College of Fashion.

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I couldn’t find the same beaded applique panels either, so these have changed.  I bought plain ones then beaded them myself, which I prefer as I had to re-stitch on all the originals anyway as I was so paranoid they would fall off.

DSC_0170I really LOVE making these purses, they pretty much sum up my work and my taste.  I love the beading, the old feel and what’s not to like about silk and velvet.  Velvet is really rocking my boat at the moment.

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I don’t love glueing on the frames, I tend to put that off as well, but I’ve become a pro, I’m like the ninja purse frame gluing champion and hardly any acetone was needed in the making of these purses, which is good as I was already quite giddy on the smell of fabric glue.

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I’ve changed the name to ‘Vampire’ purses this year, simply as it is what I’ve always called them when I’m talking to myself.  It’s those red linings against the black.

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I’ve already promised some of them to friends, but the remainder are here in the shop.

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My shop generally needs updating.  I started a re-brand a while ago, but the craziness that is finding the right secondary school for F, blind making and trying to get the house decorated is taking its toll, there just isn’t time to do everything, so for now I’ve opted for a quick change of the front page and trying to get my stock levels back up.

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For Christmas, I’d like a time machine please:)

Glyndebourne 2015: Ravel

Let’s pretend I haven’t been absent for most of this year, we’ll just gloss over that and crack on with this post, which I started forever ago but never actually published.  Sorry.

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be invited along to my Sister’s annual Glyndebourne trip, something I get super excited, because I don’t get out much and I love any opportunity to not look like a bag lady.

This year we were lucky to get to see Maurice Ravel’s short operas, L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges.

Now, I really don’t think I’m qualified at all to give an opinion on the singers, the performance or the music, I just know if I enjoy something or not and inevitably, for me, the staging plays a big part of this.  The operas were very short, witty and really enjoyable to watch, below is Glyndebourne’s own blurb and photos (taken by Richard Hubert Smith) to give you and idea (you can read more and see video snippets here)

‘L’heure espagnole , a Feydeau-esque sex farce about a lusty Spanish woman juggling lovers while her husband is preoccupied with clockwork mechanisms, evokes a Spanish flavour through Ravel’s use of native dance forms including the jota, the habañera and the malagueña.’

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L’enfant et les sortilèges , with a libretto by the French novelist Colette, is both a whimsical ‘lyric fantasy’ and a morality play with a deeply serious core. Fairy tale characters, furniture, crockery, plants and animals come to life to chastise a peevish child who has been tormenting them. All ends happily, though, when the child learns compassion. The score features echoes of Gershwin as well as an eclectic blend of influences ranging from Bach and Monteverdi through Massenet, Wagner and Puccini.

The set and costume design for  L’enfant et les sortilèges were a complete delight, very clever and only a pinch below The Cunning Little Vixon, which is still my favourite.

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(All the above photos are stolen borrowed from the Glyndebourne site and are taken by Richard Hubert Smith, who I hope does’t mind, as I am saying nice things)

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As for what I wore (clearly, VERY important)….

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yet again, fancy eyelashes from Paperself…..

me looking bleurgh

an Orla Kiely dress and Chie Mihara shoes.  I’m so predictable.  (All ‘old’, in fact I think these are the first every CM shoes I bought, many, many years ago).  I hope you appreciate my posting this rather unflattering photo taken quickly in the bedroom I was staying in…my hair is looking rather Bonnie Langford, the curl did drop a bit later.

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I even polished my nails, which rarely happens as I chip it in an instant, I also took my Victorian purse with me, which I made after the original batch was sold in two days, including the sample one I’d planned to keep for myself.  I have more on these in the next post (oh yes, there will be a next post – go me!).

We had a glorious time.  It seems an age ago now, especially as it’s such a damp and chilly day right now, picnics in the grounds of posh opera houses are but a distant memory.  On the plus side, I’m back to shop sewing after a rather long stint of blind making that’s taken up a lot of the summer and I’m very keen to get things knocked back into shape, so hopefully I’m back on a roll:)