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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.’


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.


(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)


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


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.


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 :)

Secret Cinema – Star Wars

Secret Cinema, for those that don’t know, is an events company specialising in ‘Live Cinema’ experiences, combining film screenings with interactive performances in purpose-built sets.  I have been on their email list for years and cry a little each time they put on a show featuring a movie I love, but that I can’t go to (I was quite desperate to see The Red Shoes and I’d have sold my children to go to Blade Runner ).  So when I heard the next film would be Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I jumped online and bought tickets and decided I’d worry about getting someone to look after the kids at a later point.

DSC_0136I am a big Star Wars fan (see my house keys above!!), not in a crazy way, just in that it was the main series of films of my childhood (and I’m talking the original three here, naturally), if I ever had to commit to a top 10 list of my favourite movies they would be in there…probably in the top 5, and as anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows, I do love an opportunity to get dressed up (again, long term readers know already, but for any new folk my sadly no longer used degree is in Theatre Design, specialising in costume, so I can get a bit geeky when dressing up is involved), going to this kind of event was a no-brainer.starwars4

I bought the above book last year (Star Wars – Costumes by Brandon Alinger), but hadn’t really read it properly, so researching costume ideas was a good opportunity to geek out on all the details.  It’s such a good book, I had lots of fun deciding on which greeblies I would make.


Without giving anything away, when you register for the event, after buying your tickets, you are put into a ‘faction’, I had originally decided, in my head, that I was going to be a Mercenary (Han Solo costume here I come) but no, apparently, due to my being highly organised, my analytical mind and my leadership skills (????!!!! to this last one) I was given the role of a Governor of the Alliance.  You are then given a basic outline of the costume brief for your group, which for mine was pretty much a military style, white or metallic jumpsuit.  Now I’m quite lazy about making actual costumes, I find the cost of the fabric and the time involved often outweighs the time it’s worn, so I bought a very cheap sale jumpsuit from Warehouse and pimped it.


I can’t really wear off the shoulder, so I added some padded bits to the top and my oh-so-carefully-made *ahem* rank badge.  I was quite pleased with the result, actually.

DSC_0138This then left me with lots of time for the fun bits, which in my case involved deciding which false eyelashes I’d wear (still loving Paperself for crazy lashes) and how much glitter is appropriate for my attempt at space style make-up.

starwars2Lots of glitter, apparently.

starwars3I’m afraid there was no chance of a full length photo, this is the best I could get.DSC_0145I had equal amounts of fun gathering any bartering items needed (listed with your faction details) , my Sister (who I went with) laughed when I told her I’d tea stained my blueprints…hey, I have two kids in primary school, I spend half my life distressing and tea staining paper!!

I can’t say a lot about the show itself because it’s, well, a secret.  You are not allowed mobile phones or cameras inside (any ‘devices’ you have with you are sealed in pouches before you enter, I just didn’t even bother taking mine) but I can say it was absolutely awesome, one of the best theatre experiences I have ever been to and worth every penny of the ticket price, which I know has been quite grumbled about on the web.  You can enter into the spirit of it as much, or as little as you like, personally I think it’s more fun if you just go for it, we were very early in (which I recommend) and so found we had time to absorb all the details, and it really is all in the detail, a huge amount of effort has been put into the staging and sets, the atmosphere is great, we chose to do all the available interactive options which involve quite a lot of running around (it’s set over 18 acres, apparently, which I can well believe), dancing and being shouted at by various Rebel leaders and Imperial Guards.  I must say, a polyester jumpsuit is not necessarily the best option as you do get quite sweaty, but then full marks to those dressed in the full gear and big shout out for the girl wearing an amazing R2D2 dress.DSC_0141

I wasn’t expecting to buy anything from any of the stalls, but I fell in love with these stirling silver rings made by Iris Musel of Amygdalae Design (she has an Etsy shop here), sorry about the appalling photo but the rain is tipping it down here so the light is dreadful.

Do I have any other tips if you’re thinking of going along and a recap? (and do go, I really do recommend it and you can often buy late tickets for sold out days via the SC FB page from people who can no longer go)….arrive early, we were there for 5.15 and were amongst the first in, by which time the queue behind us was huge, they do have lots of great tactics to stagger the audience so everyone gets to make the most of each section, but it was nice being amongst the first group in.  Take your time and soak up the details, chat to any cast members you get the opportunity to talk to, it’s fun and they tell you things that lead to bits you might otherwise miss.  Make sure you do bring any items you are asked to, you will need your scarf and trading things.  It’s hot, hot, hot in there and you do have to move around a lot, they say no heals and I’d go with that as good advice.  You can’t bring in drinks etc (your bag is searched at the beginning) and any gadgets are sealed up for the duration.  It’s credit cards only, ideally contactless, I’ve read on the web that the food and drinks are considered a bit pricey, but we had a delicious chicken satay and I drank (rather a lot) of wine during the movie, the cocktails have a decent kick to them too, yep I felt it was necessary to try those as well, so for me, the price was worth it.  One thing I would say, I felt quite bad about not taking the boys, but apart from the fact it would have become a very expensive night out, had they come too, I’m really glad I didn’t bring them.  There were a few kids there and they were well included by the actors, but it felt like quite a grown up show to me. It’s hot, dark, and in places crowded.  You do genuinely get shouted at quite a bit and I think the boys might not have got some of it, or perhaps have felt a bit intimidated, and they would have been bored in places so I’d have had to concentrate on looking after them, rather than immersing myself, saying that the kids I did see where having lots of fun.

DSC_0196Well, that’s all, I guess.  One last photo though, this is Buster, the final animal to come and live in the Foster zoo.  We’ve had him a few weeks now, he’s a ‘proper’ stray from Battersea, a bit mangled in the ears and some nice scars on his poor face from his years of living rough, but a nice addition to the other two (pretty, young) girl cats and I was very happy to adopt an older, black cat as I know they are difficult to re-home.  He gets to appear here because I tried very hard to persuade the boys that Vader was a good name for a black cat, but they were having non of it and Buster was the only name we could agree on, so Buster it is.

I’m busy sewing blinds, which isn’t very inspiring for blogging, but come September I’ll be back to Linen Cat work so hopefully I’ll be back in blogworld more frequently :)

Wolves and Kitty-cats!

School charity day and yet another opportunity for me to try and weasel out of making costumes for the boys to wear, in this case, a call for animal theme of their choice (I suggested a stoat, as F made a fab stoat mask some years ago for topic homework that is still stuck to his noticeboard in his room, but he was having none of it).

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Under pressure, I agreed to make masks (to be worn with their own clothes as the pay-off).  F asked for a wolf and C a ‘kitty-cat’.  I forgot about it until the day before, when having a lovely ladies lunch, but luckily I remembered I had this pdf download from oxeyedaisey

DSC_0231I used a mix of linen and tweed, as that’s what I had in stock and totally ignored the making instructions (which I have no doubt are brilliant) and went with the same method I used to make skeleton masks back in 2010 (see here), ie layering fabrics and interfacing and using various machine stitches to attach them together.

DSC_0162I thought they would be quick.  They weren’t.  To be fair, this was mainly time taken up with stupid things like hunting for fabric and elastic, but I got there in the end and I was quite pleased with the results.  The cat is just the wolf pattern adapted, shorter ears and snout and added whiskers as C was very keen to get whiskers.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 18.23.29On a completely random note, Grimwith House came up for sale a few weeks back.  It may already have sold, I don’t even look any more, as I get little flutters of want just at the idea.  I’ve been hankering after this derelict property for many, many years, wondering why it was unlived in and unloved….it once belonged to my relatives.  I could buy it but never afford to do it up.

Ah well, I’m sure someone will make a beautiful home of it and I’ll jealously try not to stare next time I’m walking up in the Dales :)

Back Camera

Pretty Pink Lavender Birds…

This is going to have to be a quick post as I’m due on school run soon.


I have new lavender birds.  They are pretty.   They are pink.


They are still not photographed as well as they should be (curse you iPhoto for changing your editing tools grrrrr, why yes, I am a bad workman and will happily blame my tools in this case and not my shoddy camera skills), but they are listed here.


Incidentally, I have just reduced my SALE section by another 10%, partly because I need to make room for new stock.  It will break my heart slightly to see so much hard work go for such a low price, but that’s the way of the world and I’d rather they go off to new homes than sit in a box unloved.  I need to update all the photos and see what else I have to add, but for now it’s mainly linen cats and bunnies, with the odd squirrel.

That’s it, short and sweet as I need to dash :)

Pink Auriculas

Spring is the time for new auricula brooches…..and as we are now very much in Summer, I thought it was time I finished them!8811757633566As always, it starts with me trawling through photos in the internet, looking for inspiration.  I was sure I wanted to make a pink version and originally, I was very keen on the idea of a nice pale pink, like the middle blooms above (I have NO idea where this photo came from, I’m pretty sure it was a seed catalogue so I don’t feel shockingly bad about posting it here, but if not, and it belongs to someone I’m really, really sorry, just let me know and I’ll credit/remove it, as you wish).


But, I am very picky about the felt I use, it’s always 100% wool and I’ve tried many suppliers but some are a bit too thick to be easily manipulated into the petals, so I’m sticking with my original source, the only problem there being that I’ve used most colours available and all the pale pink options just didn’t look right, so I changed plan and went for the brighter pink in the bottom left corner.

I’m really pleased with the results, they are quite zingy, without being too bright.  Annoyingly, they are really difficult to photograph and get the colour to show, so like the trooper I am, I just gave up and decided to use the photos I have ;)

I’m also struggling, generally, to take process shots as I changed my lovely Victorian trestle table some time back for a more modern glass worktop, it is very practical and looks good, but it’s not nice to take photos on (I have just re-arranged my entire studio, which took me FOREVER, although I am now the Queen of solo furniture moving, photos to follow at some stage).DSC_0155

I’ve been resorting to taking photos on my wooden work tray and also my old desk, that now houses all my packing supplies.  My Mum bought me this.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it was back in the mid 80’s and I was disappointed about being told I would be getting a second-hand bike for Christmas (long story, I wasn’t allowed a new one as apparently us kids ‘didn’t look after them properly’) and Mum knew I was upset so she used her own money to buy me a desk as a trade-off.  I wanted a melamine thing in bright colours (but of course) and luckily, Mum having clearly much better taste then me, bought this beauty instead.  Thank goodness my 80’s early teen style didn’t win, the melamine would have long since been binned.

(Oh, quick mention, the two lovely drawings on top of the desk are by the fabulous Saffa, who has a new website – Saffa Barkhorder – for her beautiful drawing work).DSC_0162

See, grainy, dark photos.  Poor show Beth.  If you can’t take the time to photograph things properly how do you expect them to be shown at their best! (I talk to myself all day long, I may as well do it in my blog too, thank goodness for cats and guinea pigs, at least if they are in the room I appear less mad).pinkariculacutout

Better, but still not great.

Oh, and whilst I was making a new colour batch I re-stocked some of the green ones, as they tend to be quite popular.  They are both to be found here.
DSC_0138Right, I’m off to read a book about taking product photographs as that seems like a good plan.  Toodle pip for now.