Apple Lavender Bags…

I’ve been planning these for a very, very long time.  The final design is blatantly inspired by all those fabulous apple fabrics that are out there, but the initial idea came from a very different project, one which I will reveal once I get it worked out and ready for the shop.  I honestly hadn’t thought about teachers gifts until they were nearly finished, but they work well for this so I though I had better stop doodling different versions (which, as I’ve already said, I’ve been doing for well over a year now in my notebook!) and get them made.

I had fun working out all the details…

and I especially like the little glass faceted ‘pips’.

I (stupidly) always wanted to make them in linen, hand dyed to match all my other products where I also use dyed linen.  I forgot that linen is a bug*er to iron and that the endless creases would really annoy me.  Also, I ruined one lavender bag by over water spraying it before ironing and it led to some of the red leaching into the bright white linen on the front and leaving pink stains.  Lesson learnt there and the downside of hand dying, no matter how much I rinse the fabric, some colour will always run a little if washed too hot.

I thought the red one would be my favourite but then I made the green and there is something about the topaz pips and fresh apple green colour that I like just a little bit more.

I had planned to hand stitch my tape labels on the back, they just didn’t work placed in the side seam, where I would normally put them, but the linen just creased and I struggled to make it tidy so I abandoned that idea and have added swing tags fastened to the front with some lovely black bulb pins I bought forever ago from Merchant and Mills.  I imagine these to look really nice hanging on a kitchen cupboard door, in fact that’s exactly where one will be going in our house.  I am also giving them as teachers gifts this year, I plan to get the boys to write a message on the back that I will machine embroider.  Job done 🙂

You can find them here.

More Donna Wilson…because like shoes, a girl can never have enough…

I didn’t have time in the last post to say how Glyndebourne went – we had such a good time! At the interval, it was a bit chilly for the afternoon tea we had brought to picnic on, but we braved it for a while before heading indoors for a coffee.  We had fun people watching and the general census is we all need proper opera cloaks next year, with big hoods, like the ‘widow’ in the old Scottish Widow ads 😉

I get to go to the opera quite a bit, courtesy of my sister, but of all the things I’ve seen, visually, the Glyndebourne version of Leoš Janáček’s ‘The Cunning Little Vixon’ has been my favourite by far; the sets (by Tom Pye), costume (Dinah Collin) and lighting (Paule Constable) were fabulous.  I quite liked the actual opera as well, although I preferred the second half to the first, but I can never see anything on stage without wondering how I might have approached designing it and I found this visually brilliant.  The ‘rabbits’ were dressed in kilts with frothy net underskirts, wool cardigans and bobble hats with big rabbit tail style bobbles on top, need I say more?!  You aren’t allowed to take photos but you can see some here on the Glyndebourne website, in fact, you can even watch the opera on-line, or this short film about the creating of it, which gives you some idea of how wonderful it was to watch.

The parcel above, with it’s little fox card, is one I’ve been eagerly awaiting from Donna Wilson.  I have pretty much been stalking the website for weeks, after seeing some of the new ceramics appear but with an ‘available  soon’ note, how soon?…please hurry because I have no patience and I want one now.

There’s a Squirrel beaker to hold my pencils (it’s taking over the job from my Wolfie beaker which is now holding my afternoon peppermint tea).  I love that it sits next to one of my own squirrels in a green.

The other thing I was patiently waiting to be in stock, was the new Grace plate.  I hope to look like this after my next haircut, I’ve been growing out my very short hair for some time now, it’s in a bit of a non style at the moment but I’ve decided to return to a childhood favourite  for me, the short bob.  I pretty much had this haircut (courtesy of my Mum, who cut my hair until I left home – she was a hairdresser, I should add) until I was 21, when a student at Vidal Sassoon cut it off very short and dyed it very blond, hence a long stretch of addiction to hair dye of all colours, mainly red, and many years of allowing trainees to do whatever they liked to the style.

Finally, the package also contained a cute little Grey Owl beaker, this one is now holding our toothbrushes, I hope it inspires me to finally decorate the top bathroom, I’ve invested in some material for a blind and finally (only 6 years on!) our shower rail has been ordered so we can actually have a shower.  Most exciting.  It’s no ordinary rail, by the way, as it has to fix into a sloping ceiling but I’ll show you when it’s done.

Monster Purses…grrrrrrrr

That’s a nice little monstery ‘grrrrr’ by the way, not a cross one.  I am being forced to watch ‘The Wizz’ (in case you’ve never seen it, the movie tagline is: ‘An adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” that tries to capture the essence of the African American experience’ and it was filmed in the late 70’s and has Michael Jackson in it) for the umpteenth time so perhaps it’s even a cowardly lion kind of grrrrr, at least that’s what I think of whenever I see the monster purses.  

When I often say I started something weeks ago, I wonder if you think I exaggerate?  Well I really don’t.  The below little stack of monster purses have been patiently sitting on their tray for many, many weeks, nearly complete but still without linings.

The linings have to be stitched by hand and it makes my poor fingers very sore, I quite often use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through (it has to be stitched through a number of layers, hence the difficulty) and I’ve tried using a leather thimble but alas it’s not meant to be, I need to spend some time retraining myself to use thimbles as it would make life a lot easier (I used to use them when stitching period clothing but have got out of the habit).  I just get sore blistered fingers instead.  I suffer for my art 😉

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, the little stack was complete – hurrah!

Something I’ve realised over past months is I really enjoy having products completely ready to send out (such as the flower brooches and little birds), and by that I mean with labels attached (where appropriate) and packaged so all I have to do is print off a delivery slip and pop them in the post box.  All lavender bags are stuffed to order and many other things need to be packed up nicely, all little details that take time, something I don’t always have a lot of at the moment, especially in the mornings and I do like to get orders out as swiftly as possible.

So all the new batch of little monster purses have been tagged and bagged and stacked into boxes ready to go.  The bagging is a great help as the cotton corduroy tends to pick up fluff very easily, it comes lovely and clean with the aid of sellotape but if left unbagged would need to be cleaned again before posting off, this solves the problem.

As far as those satisfying ‘project done’ moments go, this one really did make me feel happy.  I took so many photos of the neat little stack of bagged and ready purses and also loads of them lined up on the bench before packaging,

as I figured I’m unlikely to make such a big batch in one go again, it was almost a bit much and I think is partly why they took me so long.  I do enjoy my sewing, some parts of each process I find a bit tedious and some really fun but on the whole I really enjoy it or I wouldn’t do it, I do find I need to strike the balance between the two though or it get’s overwhelming.  The reward of a final finished stack is always my favourite bit as most regular readers know.

The monster purses have always been popular, my boys love theirs and they got a new one each (C a green one and F a red – their favourite colours) to take to Berlin, attached to their messenger bags.  I think these are just one of those things I’ll always be running out of and so need to keep a constant flow going, or simply accept they will often be out of stock and maybe a seasonal item.  In fact I feel a bit guilty as it’s taken me a while to publish this post and quite a few of the purses have sold already (thanks everyone that’s bought one!).

I made a new purple version.

And much to F’s delight a red one that I think has a slight demonic tone to it!  Purely accidental, I didn’t like the yellow eyes so I added a brown dot in the centre of each and it has given them  a naughty devil (in a cute kind of way) look.

I have also taken some new photos of the purses being held so you can get an idea of the size.  I have always photographed them with coins at the side, hoping this had the same result but I’m not sure the scale was obvious enough.  As you can see, they are small coin purses, not big enough to hold a credit card (I have sold quite a lot to adults, so might make a bigger version with this is mind) but I aways imagined them to be the right size to be squished into a little boys pocket if needs be.

Right, enough.  You can find them here.

Summer Lavender Birds…

I was going to talk about how my ‘home alone’ stint is going but so far it’s something along the lines of ‘lack of sleep, 5.30 awake every morning….ill kids…tired…very tired…shout rather too much’ and let’s face it, that may continue to be the pattern for the next 7 weeks so I’ll try not to keep mentioning it.  Much.

So, instead, here are the new lavender birds to match the little felt ones and the Summer collection colours of Racey Helps.

I’ve made similar before and they were very popular, the Ellie pattern fabric by Michael Miller is perfect as not only do the colours fit the theme but so does the simple, bold, retro flower pattern; I’m so glad I still have some of this fabric left.  I’ve only made a very small batch this time as I have quite a few lavender birds made up at the moment, you can find them here.

Still not decided what to do about Folksy, thanks so much for all your honest thoughts on this, and I’m still quite distracted with decorating.  I’m off to Glyndebourne tomorrow, I’m most excited, Mum is looking after the kids.  It’s set to be quite chilly and cloudy so I’ve abandoned the idea of wearing a silky, floaty dress and instead I’m going in a nice plum tulip dress once donated to me by my Sister (some of my nicest clothes come from her, she is also the one generously taking me to Glyndebourne).  It’s a good excuse to wear my Chia Mihara, Colibri shoes which I saved up forever for and had to buy direct from the Chia Mihara shop in Spain (the only place I could get them in plum), and added bonus, I don’t need to squeeze in time for a home pedicure.  Hope it doesn’t rain.

I’m still here..and summer collection…

Really I am.  I know I’ve been kind of absent but I think, from my blog reading (which I am still behind on), that this seems to be the case generally in ‘blogland’.  I have been very distracted with family life; I’ve found myself busy with decorating, gardening and being a Mum, plus we have just spent half term in Berlin (more in that another time), both boys have had birthdays and M is about to go away for nearly 2 months to the US with work, meaning I will not get to sleep past 6am (if I’m lucky) in the mornings for a very long time.  I feel tired.

Although I haven’t been sewing all that much, and when I have it’s mainly been blinds for my sister, I have sneaked in a few hours here and there to complete my Summer collection.  I’ve found in the last couple of years that working a loose series of collections through the seasons works really well for me (I’ve been trying to create some Galleries on my website to view past designs), I tend to take a colour theme, from a fabric or picture or just the colours from the landscape and garden and try to change my core shop products to match.

For this summer, I knew early on that I wanted to use my love of Racey Helps work as an influence, I have a number of postcards tucked onto my pinboard and I’ve talked about Racey Helps before.  He tends to work in a set colour palette and I love the bold, bright but natural colours that he uses, they really do remind me of my childhood, I also really love the extensive use of nature in his work and who can resist animals in clothing!

I started some new lavender bags, little birds and a re-stock of other favourites some time ago, but it has taken me a really, really long time to get any of them finished.  First up are a new batch of Little Birds; these, I think, are my favourite of the little birds so far, there is something about the colours, especially with the bright wooden beads that really does make me nostalgic, they make me smile when I look at them.

I would have liked (and still might) to have made a mobile from these, ideally with a nice blue bird in there as well, but for now, they have been mounted and wrapped in their cello bags and are finally listed here.

I need to do a big Folksy shop update.  I’m undecided what to do here, I’ve rather neglected my Folksy shop recently, in all honestly I don’t sell very much there, I mostly sell (and have from the very beginning) much more from my own website and with the new fees and selling structure I need to have a good look and decide if it still works for me.  I find listing in general a chore and splitting stock etc between sites only adds to the work.  The other consideration is what do I get back from Folksy in return for the selling and listing fees?  I love being part of a British selling community (and it’s why I opted for Folksy not Etsy in the first place) but I think it’s very easy to get lost in the mass of sellers and I have noticed it’s aways the same ones that appear in promotional Folksy ‘stuff’ such as the christmas newspaper.  I do think to be fair, this probably says more about my lack of effort to get involved, rather than Folksy itself, I rarely take part in the discussion boards, but I do wonder what I am getting back in return for my fees.  Decisions, decisions.

Finally, I hope to spend my first week ‘home alone’ decorating so I’m not sure just how much time I’ll get for writing posts, although I do have some nearly ready to publish.  The plan is, get the house sorted (I breath so much easier in a tidier space) and then sew, sew, sew and sleep as much as I can, when I can.  We’ll see how it goes 🙂

Couldn’t resist a photo of one of my recent birthday boys, I’ve only just managed to get his thank you cards done, better late then never.  Notice my rather dyslexic (I assume if you read my blogs often you might have noticed I can neither type nor spell) first version, lucky I spotted that before I printed them all out!