And relax…sigh…

I’ve had a really nice day today.  Don’t get me wrong, I often have really nice days but it has been a bit hectic and stressful around here recently and today everything seemed to slow down to a nice relaxing pace.  The boys let me sleep until 6.30 which is pretty good for them and (forgot to mention in last post that we are all sick) all our colds are nearly gone, just a few coughs from the boys and my cheese grated throat feels normal, in fact I feel quite perky which is good as M has drunk our substantial stock of Night Nurse…I think he may have an addiction here as I am always buying it but personally only use it about 3 times a year, if that…he get’s ‘man flu’ a lot!

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So, after a bit of a ‘lie-in’ I spent the day embroidering Christmas products (more about that at a more appropriate time of year) and making a Teddy for a cousins new baby girl, Poppy, what a lovely name.  I put a ‘P’ on teddy’s belly which was a plan that’s been in my head for some time, I will have to decide if I can face making this personalised version to order in the shop, as having young kids, my time isn’t very consistent so I generally prefer to offer ready made stock.

I had time to potter in the vegetable patch and made an Irish stew which I am going to have for dinner tonight with parsley dumplings.   I may even treat myself to a movie (we have Apple TV so we can buy movies on-line from ITunes).  Of course Mr F is testing my patience trying to kill Charlie every few minutes but that’s the way it always is so I just need to get on with that one.  

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Finally I cleared up the Studio in an attempt at ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ or in may case ‘bit tidier, bit less stress/guilt’.  I found all the old samples that evolved into Teddy so laid them out for a photo.  One of my original designs on paper was for a ‘lavender sleep bunny’ for babies.  I abandoned the lavender quite quickly on the basis that anything in bed with a baby will need washing at some point and soggy lavender, even if mixed in with stuffing didn’t seem like a good idea.  You can see the progress above, lavender bunny developed into my Wool Baby Bunnies and the original pattern was used as a base to create Teddy (have to think of a proper name).  I find it helps if I use the same basic, simple shapes and patterns for similar  products, so the shop has an overall continuity.

To add to the sweetness of my day, F decided that the original Teddy sample had been made for him and took it to bed to cuddle, which is pretty amazing for a 4 yr old who is obsessed with plastic Gormiti and Ben 10.  OK. Time to go and heat up my stew and sort out that movie.

If you go down in the woods today…

It’s been a bit of a stressful couple of weeks.  I had a frantic Roman Blind order to do for my sister in zero time so had to pull out all the stops whilst also doing all F’s last week of Pre-School parties and new school ‘taster’ days.  The housework got ignored and I got to the stage where I made stupid sewing mistakes (got to love that unpicker I got free with my machine many years ago!).  

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Above is one of my favourite fabrics for blinds, Lumimarja, by Erja Hirvi for Marimekko.  We have the same fabric in silver and also with orange berries as blinds in our house.  It especially looks good with the gold silk dupion border on either side.  The blinds were very wide, 220cm, so one of the hardest problems was laying them out on the floor for marking and tacking, each time I got them perfectly lined up the boys would come running in and jump all over them.  I got just a bit stressed.

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I survived the panic sewing and decided to reward myself by swapping to small scale projects for a while, the kind you can pick up and put down as the mood dictates and that don’t take over the house.  I mentioned a while back some lovely new very snuggly cashmere/wool fabric I bought and had a pretty good idea I wanted to make a simple teddy to add to my collection.  I know I said I was trying to cut down on softies in the shop, to try and expand other areas of making but for this fabric a teddy was in order.

This is the first attempt and needs some tweaking.  Maybe a bit slimmer in body with bigger arms and the orange stitching was simply to hand, but I am pleased all the same.  Does he need a tail?  I thought so but husband says no…not sure he is to be trusted he knows little about sewing.  It’s nice to make something lovely and simple and I have been dying to use the My Folklore fabric by Lecien which has been in my stash for a while.

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Also as antidote to the mess and mayhem of our house I put my foot down and demanded more shelving in the spare room/studio so a very early morning trip to Ikea was in order for Saturday.  It was a good excuse buy more fabric (it would have been rude not to at their prices) and some sweet nibbles from the Ikea food shop as a reward for a day of unpacking books that have been boxed since we moved 3 years ago!  It’s lovely to finally have them to hand, who knows in another few years we may finally unpack the last boxes!

Linen, Silk and Sweet Peas…

I have had a week of sewing and have got right back into swing.  It feels good, I was missing that great feeling when you make something new, choosing the fabrics, cutting the patterns and then seeing the finished piece.

So, of the many new things in the pipeline, here are Sweet Pea Linen Cushions, finally finished (well the first few anyhow).  I will be putting the purple and dark pink into The Linen Cat online shop and Folksy, the pale pink was a special request order for my Aunt.  

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The new cushions are a good example of my design process.  Some things are spontaneous and evolve from new fabrics and a bit of a ‘play’ but others are more traditional in their conception.  I had already made linen cushions based on Winter Berries and Magnolias (the Winter Berries cushion is available on Folksy in orange and is also being made in tweed.  Both will soon appear on The Linen Cat Online).  I knew I wanted to expand the range so I had been thinking about new designs.  My inspiration comes from the things around me, in this case my own garden where I grow sweet pea Matucana over the arches on my vegetable patch, it has lovely bi-colour flowers and for most of June and July I permanently have a bunch in the kitchen.  I had also recently ordered some lovely silk for making Christmas products that just happened to be in similar colours to the sweet peas.

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First I took photos and did some very quick sketches to get an idea of the shape.  The sketches are to tone down the detail and create bold simple shapes, I would happily get over excited and make a very complicated appliqued version of sweet peas, but this would be more like a piece of textile artwork and not something I could reproduce for re-sale.  It’s just not my style for the shop pieces, I like simple bold shapes that suggest their original source but have a slightly abstract feel.  I then work up a pattern on brown paper (my pattern paper of choice.  I was taught to use brown paper as a student and I have used it ever since).  Quite often I have an image in my head of how I see the finished piece so I work towards this, if I am unsure I will make up one sample or even a toile in calico with the details drawn on in pencil, but in this case I was happy with my pattern so went straight into making them up.

I am really like the new cushions, I love the mix of linen with small splashes of bright silk and it’s a lovely way to remember the sweet peas which are sadly coming to an end in the garden.

I’m melting…

I feel like the witch in Wizard of Oz, only it’s the heat not water making me melt.  Me and half the country I believe, except those in the Yorkshire Dales, where I am informed it is raining (today at least).  I’m jealous as I can’t motivate myself to sew in this weather (if the truth be known I can’t motivate myself to do a lot really) and the poor garden is so dry I have to put extra effort into keeping the vegetable patch watered but I am leaving the rest to wilt.  To add to this we have just been away for a week and have come back to lots of ripe fruit in the garden so I have been busy making jam and jelly – yes, in this heat!!!

Anyhow, enough typical Brit moaning about the weather.  The studio/spare room is a general 28 degrees so I am just keeping the door shut and have abandoned working there for now.  That’s the price you pay for an entire wall of glass – fantastic light but during the rare heat waves, not the nicest place to be.  That means sewing is confined to the kitchen (again) and a nice juggling act of moving things around to make space throughout the day.

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This is where I work in the kitchen (the photo is from earlier this year hence the empty garden in the background and nice Amaryllis), one great benefit is I have learned to sew well at the machine standing up.  It’s great for the legs and I avoid back ache which I get if sitting at the machine for long periods.  

I have lots of ideas buzzing in my head but I am failing to get them made up into samples, instead I have been buying fabric!  Nothing like a bit of shopping therapy to get my enthusiasm going.  My fabric of choice is a cashmere and wool mix in pale camel, the kind of fabric you can’t pass without giving it a quick stroke (or that could just be me?!).  I would take a photo but I think it’s a bit boring.  I am thinking a new bunny/cat/alien/mouse/teddy…something for babies all soft and cuddly, but if it’s for a baby it has to washable so may have to think on it…more importantly, I am trying to get away from mainly being known for children’s toys, it wasn’t ever my intention and although my first love are the linen cats/bunnies I also enjoy making other things hence the new cushions (and many more things in the production line, if the heat goes down that is).

Halt everything.  I felt bad writing the above and the next day got my act into gear, got the sketch book and sewing kit out and got back on to work.  I had started work on some more linen cushions before going on holiday, based on sweet peas as they look so lovely in the garden and so I have decided to get the sketches worked up into samples.  I am making them for both my Mother and Aunt (who like the designs and have pre-ordered)…better make sure they meet top standards.  At this stage they look like this:

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Better get back to work or they will never be finished. I’ll post a photo once complete and now I am back into work mode there are a lot of other designs being made up so there should be a lots of nice posts to come.