The Early Bird…or in this case Owl…

I am home alone (again) and the boys were up early today – 4.55 am!  I know in my heart anytime after 5am it’s best to get up and get on but today I tried to go back to sleep.  I had to bring Mr C upstairs to the big bed where F was already lounging after coming up the middle of the night, I tried stern Mummy voice, “back to sleep boys!” and of course they wriggled and giggled and them jumped all over the bed.  I lay there wondering if I should buy an old CoffeeMaid (can you still get those?? better still, is there a ‘full-english-breakfast-maid’?) for future early mornings then I dragged my tired butt into the bathroom and got on with it.

The good thing about all these early mornings is how much work I am getting done, it adds an extra few hours to the day, after a coffee and with the aid of cbeebies I can sew guilt free until it warms up enough to open the doors and head outside with the boys.

I have noticed on Google Analytics (which I have set up on the shop pages) that the biggest search hit bringing people to the shop is ‘Lavender Bags’, more importantly I am on the first search page (Google UK search that is not the whole world, I am not up for world domination yet! – I just checked and I am back down to second page but it’s still fantastic) so for the purpose of keeping up stock levels, for the past couple of days I have been sewing new owl lavender bags.  I took a few ‘in progress’ photos and here they are:

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It’s been a while since I made these, first I had to cut new patterns (the old were the originals on paper scraps, they are now in brown paper and fully marked up) then I cut out all the pieces needed.  I find a production line method works best for me, it took the best part of a day (whilst on Mummy duty and with a walk in the woods etc) to get these cut out.

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At this stage I was thinking I’d forgotten how long they take to make, stitching the eyes on drives me a bit nuts after a while.  As you can see feet, ribbon etc are stitched into place before putting the backs on, I find this a lot easier then trying to get them straight whilst stitching both sides together and it ruins the final owl if the ribbon doesn’t hang correctly.  After taking this photo I changed the back fabric to a plain pistachio green cotton which works much better than the gingham planned.

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This is my favourite bit, turning them out and having a neat little stack of owls.  I store them like this, stuffing with lavender to order (or in small batches) so as to keep the lavender fresh.

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The linen on the candy striped owl (which is about to hang on my kitchen wall units I like it that much) is vintage linen which was a set of curtains from the 60’s bought by my Gran and is in amazingly good condition.

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The back of the blue stripe owl is in lovely funky floral fabric which is the perfect finishing touch.

Right, I am in need of another coffee in order to keep going as I am starting to feel the lack of sleep now:)

Stuffing stuff…

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The production line has been rolling and I have been busy stuffing stuff!  I always think there is a comical cartoon look about flat softies, they sort of look like they have been run over, I like bringing them to life with a bit of filler it makes all the hard work worth while.

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So after a minor bit of tweaking the first Little Bears are finished.  They were really nice to make as the cashmere blend is very soft to work with.  I’m not sure if it’s just me but I get really sensitive fingers if I work a lot with rough or synthetic fibers, the polyester stuffing is a killer so I tend to break up that job, it’s OK at first but after a while it kind of makes my teeth go on edge and my fingers really uncomfortable, it’s always been the case and is why I favour natural fabrics…could just be me?!

Anyhow,  ‘Teddy’ became a Bear, not sure why but once made ‘Little Bear’ seemed better then ‘Little Ted’.  The original sample passed the wash test with flying colours (gentle hand wash, spin and line dry but I think it will probably survive a machine wool wash, will try this next) so I am very happy to have added them to my shop where they fill a nice spot of affordable present for younger children.

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How cute is that!

The Boys are back in Town…

First, a completely non craft bit.  I was very lucky to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the BBC Proms on Tuesday night and they were excellent.  I get to see quite a few Proms as my sister always gets tickets but Tuesday was great fun, so much so that I keep listening to concert on the iPlayer , it’s only available for the next few days so sorry if you are reading this post down the line.  For anyone with kids you may have seen TUOGB on Space Pirates (or 4 members of the group) doing their version of The Proclaimers ‘I would walk 500 miles’, they played Grassington Festival last year (yes, Grassington, a small village deep in the Yorkshire Dales has a festival each year and a big one at that.  I didn’t know until my mother casually mentioned that she had just seen Toyah Willcox play there!!!!!) so I have been keen to see them for a while and they didn’t disappoint.  For a quick taster watch their version of Wuthering Heights or Life on Mars.

Right, back to more crafty ramblings.  The sale has been going well, a lot of these have been posted out

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and I said goodbye to my last Wool Bunnies in a Kitchy dresses as they have all sold now, along with the last dark green Linen Cat.

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I get a bit panicky when my stock levels get too low, I have to decide if I want to make more of the now rather depleted stock or if I will consign some to history and bring in new designs.  I already know I will continue with a few, just in new colours others are to be replaced, but whilst I am working through these ideas I have been sewing products that are here for the long haul.

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I’ve added a new Boy Wool Bunny (I started these ages ago but never finished them – tut, tut!) and  I’ve been getting a bit happy with our new printer, creating thank you cards and labels.

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I especially love these ones with the rounded corners from aalabels which I use for larger packaging

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Right, back to wrapping parcels before the trek uphill to the post office pushing buggy and buggy board (with kids obviously)…I need lighter children!

Something old, something new…

I mentioned in a past post about owning a lot of lovely sewing things that I inherited from my Gran, in fact, most of my ‘things’ came from my Gran, she was a hoarder and provided my early collections of vintage clothing etc.  The photo I use in my About Me page is at her house dressing up in some of this vintage stash,  below is the full shot including my sister (on the right), the length of skirts always amazes me I virtually have my knickers on show!

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Anyhow, I digress.  So I finally made a start on updating and copying some of these lovely objects starting with the silks roll.  The original serves it’s purpose well but is full of old silks and I prefer to leave them as they are

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so here is the updated version

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I love cow parsley, I grow the florists version (Ammi Major) in my cutting patch and wake every morning to blinds printed in ‘Putkinotko’, which is a 1957 design by Maija Isola for Marimekko.

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so I have been planning to use the outline for a while, I was thinking cushions but decided to downscale and use beads for the flowers.

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As you can see, there are still improvements to be made, the linen, although a great weight is the wrong colour for the bead embroidery which you can barely see, but it’s a start.  The long term plan is to add a section to the shop selling sewing accessories, mostly replicas of my Gran’s things, but I am in no hurry I have plenty to be getting on with at the moment and I know that Christmas will come crashing in no matter how far ahead I plan.  The C word again, and in August!  hush up lady 😉

New supplies and a bit of organisation…

Whilst still in ‘get ready for the builders to trash the house’ mode and also whilst F is on Summer hols I have been pottering about, tidying through the studio/spare room and trying to finish half done projects.  I placed some orders for new supplies and went maybe a bit over the top with cataloging where everything comes from.  I get really annoyed when I need to order more of something and I can’t remember where I got it from, or which colour number it is so I did as below:

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do I need help?  Probably.

I ordered some new bias binding by 33 m reels from BG Payne.  I have never bought from them before but they charge £2.29 for 16mm, 35m reels and they had quite a few colours I was after that other people didn’t stock so it worked for me.  They don’t have a colour chart but you can see the this at the manufacturers website.

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I also went on a hunt for UK suppliers of Echino linen/cotton fabric for Kokka.  Ever since I made new cushions which ended up in our living room (and are standing up very well to the boys slightly boisterous playing and food spills) I have been a bit in love with this fabric.  I had already bought the purple, as below, from Celtic Fushion, but found the others in the photo at the eternal maker, yet another new online shop for me who sell it for £7 per half meter (oh I love that they sell in meters!).  If anyone knows anywhere that I can buy this cheeper, do let me know as I fancy some Roman blinds for the new/old extension but would need quite a lot.

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Although I am twitching to sew with my new supplies, the sun is trying to come out so I am off to play with the boys in the garden.

Changing rooms…

As part of getting into the right frame of mind for the builders I have been looking back at old photos of our past houses and thought I would share some with you.

When in my mid 20’s, I inherited enough money to buy my first flat.  I was a cash-in-hand waitress, I didn’t think I would be stepping on the property ladder for years but I am glad I had the sense to put it into property.  I bought a very run down maisonette in London, Oval.  I had little spare cash so I did everything myself, something I am very proud of, including the tiling, the plumbing and fitting a wooden floor.  It was a learning curve but with a background as a Theatre Designer and a bunch of skills learnt from helping my Mum decorate I knew I would be OK.  Here are a few pictures:

The old kitchen, sink side.

The old kitchen, sink side.

Mess and me...this is over 10yrs ago, I don't look like that now!

Mess and me...this is over 10yrs ago, I don't look like that now!

My, that tiling is good!

My, that tiling is good! the units are Habitat Olivia free standing, we still have the table as out kitchen table in the current house.

Let me stress this next photo is after I met M and he moved into my flat.

Mid decoration - Oh dear!

Mid decoration - Oh dear!

Ta da!  Now that's a transformation...where did all the stuff go?

Ta da! Now that's a transformation...where did all the stuff go? (into a unit at Big Yellow that's where)

After I met M and we were engaged we moved out of London to a village in Kent where we bought our first house together, a lovely cottage with a small but perfect walled garden.  We employed a builder here and had the kitchen made, although I still did all the painting and M stripped the boards throughout the house.

The day we viewed the house - old kitchen.

The day we viewed the house - old kitchen.

New kitchen

New kitchen

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Like most couples, M and I don’t have entirely the same taste.  He hates that I have a lot of possessions and that a lot of the furniture is mine, especially the things that I have inherited from my family that I prize but that he sees as a burden.  Over the years things have balanced out a bit, the above is a metal 1950’s filing cabinet that we bought together and is now one of our prized pieces and we have found a balance that suits us both.

The final photo is very typical of my taste.  I like a very eclectic mix, this is the spare bedroom of our old house that was being used as F’s first room:

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The pine chest of draws is mine from when I was 15 and decided I wanted to strip the 80’s primary colours from my bedroom and go all Victorian.  Luckily my Mother let me go for it and bought me some old pine furniture.  I used my first waitress wages, at 15yrs, to buy an antique iron bedstead to complete the look which I still have, stored at present in our shed.  The chair is an original Arne Jacobsen Egg chair that M bought me as a maternity present.  The blind is the first Roman blind I made, and is done in Classic Uniko fabric from Marimekko.  The clown was my grans, the bird mobile came from Holz toys, the lampshade is by Le Kint (you can get fantastic similar ones from Ikea at the fraction of the price) and finally the hand knitted jumper and jacket, just visible are by Small Acorn, who I am dying to put on my ‘lovely gifts’ link but they seem to still be ‘taking a break’.

I hope I haven’t bored you but I am aware I don’t post many photos of our house, partly because a lot of it is boxed and the rest is covered in kids toys!

Is it a giant cushion? Is it a duvet storage bag?…

The clue is in the title.

We have too much stuff and a 2/3 finished house.  After over a year living without builders we are finally getting quotes to get the old extension on the back of our house changed into a hallway.  This will transform how we live as it will involve a new entrance, a nice straight staircase so we can get all our furniture upstairs (a lot of which is over filling our living room), underfloor heating and a wooden floor in our living space which is at the moment a concrete floor covered by some very cheap lino.  I have mixed feelings, I have enjoyed a year builder free and they will have to knock a large hole in the side of the house so it will be very invasive and dusty, but I am very excited about putting all the boxes away and being able to add the finishing touches.  It makes me look at the existing space with fresh eyes and I suddenly feel the need to get things a bit better organised.

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As part of our ‘too much stuff’ we have a vast collection of duvets and a small but beautiful collection of vintage Eiderdowns that came from my Gran that I refuse to part with.  They take up a large amount of space in the overstuffed linen cupboard, and so, I present to you the giant-floor-cushion-stuffed-with-a-folded-duvet, two in fact appliqued with each of the boys initials.  They were quite quick to make (less than a day each whilst also on Mum duty) and F has been dragging his around for the past couple of days as happy as a pig in muck.  They are very squishy but fluff instantly back into shape when picked up and simply ‘dropped’ on the floor and the linen works well, it’s pre-washed for shrinkage so should be OK in the machine and as it’s quite a heavy soft linen it looks smart even after being dragged up and down the stairs by a 4yr old.

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Even hubby was impressed and it means he can’t put pressure on me to reduce my eiderdown collection – hurray!  As a final photo, I wasn’t sure the scale of the floor cushions really shows so here is one with an egg cosy on it – see, they are pretty big.

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