We are as ready as we’ll ever be. Just one more day of school to go and then we can relax. Wishing you all a fabulous time over the festive season.
After the success of the Winter Deer Aprons in 2013 I had planned to do a version with Santa heads, but when researching vintage Santa images I got distracted by doves and, as always, an idea got fixed in my head that I couldn’t shake.One of the first things I did was to buy some fabric. Again, I had VERY specific plans and knew I wanted something gold and patterned, with a vintage vibe. What I didn’t know I wanted was THE most expensive silk damask available, unfortunately, I fell in love with it so nothing else would do. Joel and Son supply the Queen…apparently….I’m not surprised as I doubt anyone else could afford to shop there, beautiful though their fabric is.After getting over the shock of the fabric price (my own fault entirely, I could have gone with manmade damask but it just wouldn’t have been the same as sumptuous silk), I got to work planning the placement of the dove I’d already designed. I scanned some of the fabric so I could understand how it would actually look and help see the edge stitching more accurately. I can get a bit disappointed with my head image and reality when doing applique pieces, as I tend to forget how the edge stitching will change the look of the finished item.
BTW, in a totally off-topic aside, I can highly recommend the HP Instant Ink plan for anyone who spends half their life printing out their kids’ homework. You pay a set fee per month and they make sure you always have ink by sending it out in advance, it’s saved us loads and I no longer stress about printing colour over black and white as I pay for a set number of pages regardless of the format.Back to doves. I remember I’d planned to take photos of the dove at each stage of the making process, in the same position, and I clearly started out well.Before I then forgot.Still, I’m quite surprised that I took so many photos as I often get too involved in the sewing to remember. It might not appear impressive, but all that neat zigzagging on the edges and wings took FOREVER and there are multiple scallop lines on the wings with various gold threads…again difficult to see in photos.I spent some time deciding on the bias binding colour. I was originally thinking gold but it looked a bit drab in real life and in the end I went with a dark, wine red. I also considered the second piece of mistletoe but abandoned that, too.At this point, I decided they needed more bling so extra sequins and beads were sewn onto the wings.Back shot!And finished dove, with mistletoe as that’s what I liked the most (I tried holly and an olive branch).The truth is that I completed these in December, last year, but I just didn’t get them photographed in time. Red is always hard to capture, but especially so in winter light and I am not the best photographer around.Even then, I completely forgot to take images this summer and I have just spent a frantic day doing my best in really crappy, grey light. But, as above, it’s always amazing what you can do in Photoshop to edit the colours. Sadly, the blue/grey background above was beyond saving so I had to add a new one and a terrible fake shadow.And here is another example of an entire day of using the Photoshop eraser and altering the colours. One of this Summer’s stunning, cunning plans was to set up specific places for taking photographs and to that end, I bought some beautiful, brass dragonfly hooks, only there isn’t enough room by the door (the only spare bit of wall!) to get a square image without the door frame being in – Doh!So more Photoshop with dodgy shadows. I need to cover or remove the black plastic parts of the hanger too….gold glitter and a glue gun??MORE cutouts. I had finger fatigue by the end of the day.But they get the images across and I could easily spend hours and hours trying to edit and photograph products; as it was this took me an entire day (including listing them in my shop and Folksy) so they will have to do.
I’m really happy with the finished aprons though, they worked out exactly as I’d imagined and I wore mine for the first time last year for all my Christmas cooking. I’ll be getting it out again on Sunday to make the pudding and will enjoy wearing it on the big day itself as I do enjoy putting on a pretty apron and pretending I’m a domestic goddess 🙂
I find it very difficult to make time to sew things for the house (or myself), these days, it feels like I’m ‘wasting’ my time when I have more pressing things to do, but I also get a bit down seeing daily jobs that need attention so I’ve really pushed myself over the past year to work through things from the never-ending list and I feel a lot better for it.Last week I took a day out to sew curtains and cushions for the living room. The curtains were desperately needed as it’s getting cold and the big square bay window can allow a lot of heat loss if not covered by a decent curtain.The curtains on this window are hung by an Ikea Dignitet wire. I don’t really do traditional curtains, in fact, I generally don’t do curtains at all as I prefer minimalist, modern coverings so most of the windows in this house have roman blinds (always hung outside the frame to allow for maximum light), but on this window blinds aren’t practical. The wire used to hang at the back meaning the small side windows allowed a lot of heat to escape plus it’s a bit creepy in the winter, I always imagine someone is out there looking in at me as I sit on the sofa in my pj’s, as you do. I moved the wire to the front and changed the curtain to one large one hung in a way that it folds neatly and mostly fits in the small side recess when closed, so you can barely see the curtain at all and it allows as much light in as possible. It’s hung oddly with the folds on the far side of the wire so that the curtain hooks show, which is probably not to everyone’s taste but I quite like this.I shrank the original curtains after washing them recently. Muppet. I’ve reused the fabric as it was expensive linen but I needed the new curtains to be washable and stiffer in order to get the neat folds I was after when closed, so I backed the entire thing in extra wide ‘Opera’ fabric from Tinsmith which has a canvas feel.It’s not something I’d normally chose but I really like the idea of it as a surprise backing fabric and it matched the pale green linen from the front perfectly, plus should I ever want to go floral I can reverse the curtains and have the birds and flowers on show instead of the plain linen. The curtain also has a thermal lining sewn into it and some regular curtain tape (purely for stiffness) sandwiched between the layers to aid the firm folds at the top. All the fabrics have been pre-washed and the curtain hooks are removable so it can be taken down and washed in the machine at home. I had some linen left over and it was a perfect opportunity to get some tapestry cushions made up that have been sitting on the spare bed for months. Everything has come from stock except the two pheasant tapestries, which I bought on eBay for pennies. I had planned to add piping cord but abandoned that idea knowing that these cushions will be heavily used and cotton piping tends to wear away quite quickly on the corners.In my mind they do look a bit ‘unfinished’ without some piping…or a twisted cord would have been nice too.But they are done and it’s another thing to tick off the list and that makes me VERY happy.
This weekend I am fitting skirting and painting, cooking Sunday lunch and baking the Christmas pudding! There is no rest for the wicked.
There are some things I’ve made that sell out within a few hours of blogging about them. I love that something I have made is that popular but I often feel guilty they are gone so quickly and it’s common to get emails afterwards asking me if I’ll make an extra one for a commission or if I’ll be making more soon. The answer to both is usually no. I am a people pleaser so I hate saying no, but I also know myself well and once I’m done with something I generally need a break or I would not enjoy the process of making them. I also just don’t really do commissions as I find it amazingly time-consuming making just one of something and my time can be quite erratic (single parent, not exactly straightforward kids) so it’s better to just be honest and make a polite refusal than promise things I might not be able to deliver or where I’ll get stressed out trying.Way back in 2011 I made some Mr Badgers and they sold out almost directly after listing them. I got asked a few times afterwards if I’d make more and the answer was always no until someone emailed me in 2013 and in a moment of weakness (they wrote a very polite and compelling email, if I remember correctly, about family names and the need for a Mr Badger as an ideal gift), I said yes, OK, why not?To try to make it worthwhile (time wise) I cut the fabric for six badgers and their clothing at the same time and delivered one completed Badger with the other cut pieces being stacked away for later. I love the woodland animals (the wolves are still my favourite, I think) but that are incredibly time-consuming and it just doesn’t scale so these will be the last I ever make along with a couple of new green-suited foxes that I still need to photograph and list.They are really a summer item with their mustard and red clothing and little ‘Red Arrow’ auricula brooches. The original badgers have roses, so this is one minor change along with little leather buttons instead of chunky yellow ones.
They make me think of Molly Brett and Racey Helps illustrations, as animals in clothes always do.I’m sad to only just be photographing them now, they have been nearly finished for a while (with just the brooches to complete) and I would have preferred to post about them in spring or summer.Still, they are here now and I’ve listed them in my shop and on Folksy.The waistcoats got a pattern re-draft some time ago and aren’t as ‘snug’ as the originals, which in hindsight might be a mistake as looking back at the old ones and seeing their fat little bellies struggling to be contained by the button is actually quite endearing.I’ve started to look at taking some photos in situ and plan to use my vintage furniture and belongings as props. I haven’t got it right yet, but I’ve made a start and I think it shows the size quite well, I know people imagine them to be smaller than they actually are.Another ‘tick’ for the list. Phew. Annoyingly as I was looking up some Molly Brett images I came across an animal that I just might not be able to resist making so that top part about these being the last might be a lie. I am a glutton for punishment.
I think we’ve firmly established that a lot of my ideas can ferment for years before they actually happen and the recent flower brooches are no exception.Following the success of the acorn brooches I wanted to make more things that are seasonal and a bit different to my regular flower brooches, but that will happily sit alongside them. I’ve been considering thistles since 2014 when I took photos especially, whilst out walking with the boys.But it never quite happened until we were on a visit to Yorkshire a year later and I realised it’s really knapweed that floats my boat, it grows everywhere there and I’m generally a bit obsessed by Yorkshire wildflowers so it fitted the niche exactly.Knapweed always makes me think of flower fairies too and Beshlie’s beautiful illustrations.The brooches themselves took some time, partly because I worked on them in rather a stop-start style, as is often my way.But they did evolve, slowly.I really like them, they have turned out exactly as I’d have wished them to be and that doesn’t always happen!They are a bit of a nightmare to package…but I don’t mind.And I think they go up there in my top favourites; they really do scream Yorkshire to me and that makes me happy.I need to take more product photos but I think it’s important I just start getting things listed so you can find them here in my shop and soon they will be listed on Folksy too.
My next job is to try and sort out the website a bit as the images are compressed in a way that they look terrible and there is still no banner, then it’ll be back to product listing – badgers, foxes and winter aprons to come, to name but a few.
I’ve really struggled this year, even more so than normal. I have been balancing my plates quite well, keeping everything spinning (just!) and I’ve completed a lot of shop sewing as well as blinds and curtains over the summer but I’ve struggled to get things photographed and listed and blogging has pretty much ceased.In an effort to kick-start the process I made a point of setting days aside in half term to get the camera and tripod out and photograph things properly (as opposed to my phone and Instagram). I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself and it made me realise how much I quite like the things I make! Sounds stupid, I know, but I worry sometimes that my work isn’t hip enough and the competition for selling online is so much more intense than it was when I first started out, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.But I think half the battle is remembering to enjoy yourself if you make things you like, I figure the chances are someone else out there will like them too.
So my job for the next week is editing, taking more photographs (I think the good the light has gone for this year *panic* and before I’ve managed to photograph the Christmas ‘red things’ which is a bit of a disaster) and updating my site. It’s a slow process but it’ll happen and all will be well 🙂
This year I was spoilt rotten and got to go to Glyndebourne twice!
For those who read this blog often, you’ll know it’s a big treat for me to go to Glyndebourne and I enjoy everything about it; the opera, the costumes and sets, the food and the dressing up. I was trying to describe it to a friend and it came across as just posh…which I guess it kind of is…but I tend to think of it as being more eccentric and very, very ‘British’. Not everyone brings a picnic or dresses up, but most people do and I relish the chance to wear ridiculous clothes I couldn’t really put on for anything else.As always the eyelashes come out. I have a small collection of these now, all from Paperself.I wore the birds, again. These have been on the go for years now, partly as I chop down the full lashes into sections and also because they can be removed and re-worn a number of times. They have stood up to this amazingly well, considering they are made from paper.Even just the small section produces quite loud lashes (I put them on early and generally before the rest of my makeup as for the first hour, I feel like there is a butterfly/spider on my eye! After a while I forget I’m wearing them).And I wore these! God I love these shoes. They were on my wish list last Christmas and I was super lucky that my sister bought them for me. They are definitely not for everyone, but I like them and couldn’t really give a stuff if other people do or not, people are generally polite enough to hold their comments back and just pull incredulous faces, which I can accept. They are from Irregular Choice, who are famed for their slightly bonkers heels (and they have a sale on, as I type).I figured the loud heels were the star so wore a nice, plain, black wiggle dress. Cue grumpy photo….I really don’t like having my photo taken, even when it’s me doing it so sorry I always look like I’ve got the hump.Finally, the bag, in this case one of my two Sarah Culleton clutches. I love this too, especially with its little vintage brooch, Sarah adds one to each bag she makes and I really do think it’s the finishing touch.This first outing was to see La Traviata, which was (as you’d expect from Glyndebourne) both beautiful to look at and amazing to listen to.For trip two (which was in the same week…I know, I am so spoilt)I wore a beautiful dress my Sister gave to me.with matching stockings! I get excited about matching stockings; sad, I know. What Katie Did have plenty to choose from and their new coloured seam stockings have even deeper welts which are much comfier if you have *ahem* rounded thighs, as I do.For both trips, I set my hair overnight in pin curls. I’m getting better at the brush out and sleeping in pin curls is much easier these days. It does damage my hair, though, so it’s only something I do for special occasions. It’s a shame I didn’t get a photo of the back as I managed a proper Rita Heyworth wave, which I was rather pleased with.For the first trip, I was with the usual group of ladies, and we ate in the restaurant as the weather was initially set to be a bit grim. Annoyingly it turned out rather sunny and although the food was delicious, it felt as though something was missing by not enjoying a picnic in the beautiful gardens, so for the second visit (just me and my Sister) we brought out own food…and a table…and chairs…plus candles and flowers…you just have to, it’s part of the fun even if you do look a chump carrying it all across the grass in your high heels. We were quite jealous of the group who had set up a table next to us and had brought a candelabra!It was lucky we had one eye on the weather and a waterproof picnic rug to cover our table and food as just before the performance a brief storm hit. It was quite dramatic seeing everyone run for cover in their finery, packing up as much as they could carry as the thunder rumbled above and the heavens opened. The sun was back by the long interval, so all was well.This second outing was to see Don Pasquale, oh what a treat!The rotating set was very, very clever, the costumes were fabulous and mixed with the comic story and beautiful performances was a real winner, for me. I’ve never been disappointed by anything I’ve seen at Glyndebourne, but this was one of my favourites.What will it be next year? If I get invited next year (fingers and toes crossed)….I think the swan shoes need a few more outings yet 🙂