Beautiful Charts….or ‘This may take over from my Chie Mihara buying obsession’

I’m giving this little shopping event a post of it’s own, because I’m so in love and now have a hankering for everything from this Etsy shop.  I blame Flora, she blogged some amazing Jung Koch Quentell educational charts with squid images that are more than fabulous and I couldn’t resist following the link to the Etsy shop Bonnie and Bell.  Sadly, I already know that this isn’t quite M’s taste, we differ quite a bit in some areas, I often wonder what ‘my’ house would look like, should I not have to compromise.  I should state here, very certainly, that M’s house would also look very different, I tend towards  a more arty kind of organised ‘clutter’, he to a tidier, more minimal feel.  So really, me, a hoarder, him a thrower away… must be a nightmare living with me 😉

Anyway, I treated myself (ie my own money so I don’t need permission) to this lovely Autumn scene.  I couldn’t resist, and although I am hankering madly after some of the Jung Koch Quentell floral charts (especially the primrose and hazelnut ones) I have an exact spot in my studio for this and Autumn being my favourite time of the year, I just had to buy it.

I’m letting the images (all belonging to Linda of Bonnie & Belle, who kindly said I could use them) speak for themselves.

The pheasant flying away reminds me of the Royal Doulton ‘The Coppice’ vintage crockery that I’ve been collecting for some years now.

It’s farmers market in our local village today, and in keeping with the feel of this post, I’m going to drag the boys up there, via the local wood so we can enjoy what’s left of the beautiful tree colour, then I’ve promised pumpkin carving this afternoon, so I’d best flex my fingers ready for the pain involved in removing the insides ready for the boys to create the faces (they aren’t very good at scooping them out).  On an aside note, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, but do any of you Northern readers remember using turnips (which are actually swedes, but we always called them turnips) for Halloween lanterns?  And is this just a Northern thing?  Not fun trying to hollow them out, it was a kind of yearly ritual to attempt it without making your fingers bleed too much….we’re hard us Northerners 😉

A bit of this…

Well, there’s no doubt that Winter is on it’s way today.  As with most of the UK, we have woken to dark, wet, cold weather, not quite as cold as I’d expected after seeing all the weather forecasts, but enough to remind me that gloves and scarves will soon be needed.  I’m still enjoying the Autumn colours.  I’m a bit cross with myself for my lack of walking, I feel like the majority of my view of Autumn is from the window in the studio and on school run.  The boys are on half term next week and I’m really hoping to get them out and about for some wood walks, regardless of the weather.

This post is a bit of this and a bit of that.  First a little round-up of a few ‘new’ shop things.  I’d hoped to do a clever photo mosaic but ran out of energy to work out the best way to achieve this, so I’ve resorted to just uploading small images.  I have no idea if this has worked, so apologies if it all looks a bit messy on your screen.

I like how the early designs look together, I’m pleased with the continuity of design and colour, I’m really getting into this ‘seasonal collections’ thing.

A while back I tried to take a photo, using some of the new pieces.  As with last time, it was a case of grabbing things that were laying around my work space, can you spot the tweed bag handles?

I struggled with the light.  I do own one decent ‘studio’ lamp (which is clipped to the shelf above my desk, with a daylight bulb so I can see what I’m doing on dull days like today), but I would love to invest in some more, so I could take wonderful photos with minimal shadow… wouldn’t that be nice!

Another thing I wanted to share are the new packaging labels I worked on some weeks back.  I haven’t actually finished them, I’d planned to add some shades of green or ‘texture’ but I so wanted to start using them when I was sending out acorn brooches, I impatiently printed some off and I fear now, I’m unlikely to work on them any more.  They do need to be mostly white, so as to not use up too much printer ink.

I’ve been sending out quite a few orders, including lots of cats and bunnies.  I’m both sad and happy to see them go, I don’t intend to make more, but when I see them laid out I remember how much I like them,  it’s the right thing to move onto new designs though.

I’m now shifting onto a new colour palette for my work, lots of reds, blacks, creams and golds.  These feel a lot more wintery, I know we’re only just starting the season, but I’m still trying to stay a few steps ahead.  On which note, I ought to get on.  I’m a bit behind in replying to comments – sorry! – oh and I wondered, as I’m on wordpress, when I reply to a comment from all you lovely ‘blogger’ readers, do you get an email saying I’ve replied or do you have to log back into the post to see my comments?  I just wondered, as I’m not sure how it works.  Thanks 🙂


Little Winter Birds 2012…

Another post written a couple of weeks back that I forgot to publish:

I know my posts are very ‘shop’ heavy at the moment.  I am sorry, I do promise there are some non-shop related ones coming up but the flurry of trying to get the stock changed over for the busiest 2 months of the year (for me) does rather take over.

I’ve never been this organised before though, back in May, I had already finished a batch of new robins

and by mid Summer, the blackberry version was also complete.  Brilliant.  It helped knowing that I wanted to make more little birds in these colour ways, it’s for the same reason that I managed to have my lavender bags all done so early as well.  The little birds sell really well over winter, they look so great on the tree or dotted around the house, I have a stash of my own and I add to it each time I make a new colour way.

In which note, I was totally inspired to make a ‘dove’ version by a request on Folksy.

I imagine these will look great on a Christmas tree, especially mixed with the red robins…..they also have a hint of ‘Wedding’ about them, I feel.

They match the new robins in that the last batch have a couple of extra beads in the hanging threads, little gold ones on either side of the large faceted one.  I’ve listed the remainder of last year’s robins on Folksy and the new ones on my own website.

It’s made a huge difference working so far ahead on Autumn/Winter products, even though lots of this stock was waiting to be photographed for months, and there was still plenty to do, I suddenly realised this week that I’m ready.  I am now free to work on new designs, the pressure really is off and anything extra I make is a bonus.

Oh and I haven’t made (and I’m not sure I plan to) and any new linen mice specials, but the last pirates and a red riding hood are listed here.

Our House: The Living Room…

I  spent yesterday ‘upgrading’ our living room curtains, a job I’ve been putting off for months.  M has never really liked curtains, we have roman blinds in the rest of the house but I persuaded him, some years ago, into allowing flat sheets ‘pegged’ onto a thin wire line (courtesy of Ikea) in the bay window as blinds would have cut out too much light.  He’s grown used to these enough for me to now properly line them, add some buckram and generally upgrade them to proper curtains.  I hate sewing curtains.  Still it’s done now and it helps keep the cold out (and our bills down), but it reminded me of a post I started a couple of years ago and never published.  To add some context to below, we have now completed all the building work in our house, although there is still a fair amount of decorating to do.

Written June 2010

I have been making an attempt to clear through my iphotos as it’s all getting a bit out of control and with the final stages of our house build nearly there I find myself viewing our lovely home through all its stages.  I am amazed how far we have come and actually quite proud of what I am prepared to put up with, without too much moaning, and thought it might be nice to do a photo round-up, perhaps even to dispel any ideas that we live in a pristine home.  As the title suggests, I’m starting with the living room.

Spring 2006.  This is our first house viewing.  I appreciate I look miserable in the middle photo, but we were in fact super happy having realised, whilst sitting outside waiting for the estate agent to arrive, that we knew we were going to live here.  We felt the same way about our last home, even before going inside, it was right.

The house was even more filthy than it looks, empty for months, with rotten windows, no heating and full of insects, both dead and alive; but with the potential for an extension on the side, and into the attic plus it being a non listed building (our last home was Grade II), it was perfect.

August 2006 after we had moved in.  I say ‘we’ but M was conveniently away with work for 2 weeks so I moved us, skipped the carpets and scrubbed the house on my tod with F still only crawling…it was pretty yucky.  As you can see, I washed everything down (woodwork and walls) and laid a temporary lino that we knew we’d have to live with for some time, as it turned out, some years.

Early 2007, removing the wall between the two downstairs rooms.  The back room was very small and had little natural light, the front room had the lovely (sadly rotten!) wide bay window and would eventually have an opening leading into the kitchen on the left.  By now, I am pregnant and we are staying with my sister, having moved to hers for only 6 weeks in the Autumn of 2006 (we had planned to be back home in time for Christmas 2006!), however we stayed for 6 months.  We are still talking.

Spring 2007.  As you can see I am now hugely pregnant (and for some reason wearing shades of khaki – I think I’d given up on my appearance by this point).  We have just moved back in, the walls are still wet from recently being plastered, the front window is boarded up as it had to be re-built with new steel above it and a new window put it and Mr C is soon to make an appearance…what fun!  You may also notice the lino being re-laid thanks to the idiot builders cutting the other ‘temporary’ floor up, despite my telling them repeatedly it was to stay.

When I first came home with Mr C, we had only been back home a few weeks and there was still no glass in the bay window.  Above, the boards finally came down, giving us a glimpse of sun, a truly glorious moment.  As you can see it’s still total mayhem but at least we are back in our own home (C is hanging out in his car seat on the table – where did the time go!!).

The large black plastic area is covering a hole in the wall created to make an entrance to the new extension/kitchen, which at this point is being built, whilst we make do with a narrow temporary kitchen in the back ‘hallway’.  The original staircase, with its dog-leg turn still lands in the back of the room, stopping us from taking any large pieces of furniture upstairs, so our living space is still very crowded.

June 2010 with the new oak floor laid and drying (over a fabulous underfloor heating electric system called Ecofilm, which I highly recommend), finally loosing that cheap plastic ‘lino’.  This was a huge leap in the building work for us.  Although, at this point we had been living in a largely finished home for some time, with most of the upper floors plus new kitchen completed (apart from decorating, which is ever ongoing), we had to wait until the back hallway was re-built, complete with new stairs and the old stairs removed from the living room before we could lay flooring and heating.  We’d made do for some years with an open fire and plug-in heaters.

October 2012.  And this is today.  Actually this is yesterday, today I have a sick child laying on the sofa, or at least the half he hasn’t vomited on…again!

I’ve been putting off publishing this post for so long because I keep forgetting to take photos of the living room when it’s tidy.  I realised that’s never going to happen, and it would feel a bit of a lie anyway, so here is it in its raw state.  As you can see we have one too many sofas, due to getting a new one last winter (from but not actually getting rid of the old leather one.  It serves wonderfully as a place to dump huge piles of ‘stuff’ 😉  We don’t really use the back area of the room, it originally had a large table there for dining, but as we have a smaller table in the kitchen we use daily and I nicked the lovely trestle one for my work desk it has become a space the boys play in.

We had shelving built-in on either side of the fireplace, earlier this year to house some of our large book collection and on the other side, the TV.  The room is painted in my favourite colour, Farrow & Ball ‘Slipper Satin’.

Yet more books under the window.  Oh my Beth, what wonderful curtains….are they lined and everything 😉

As you can see, lurking behind my beloved egg chair (bought as an eternity present) we still have some skirting to put on.

This is my favourite piece of furniture, it was made by my Gran’s family and has followed me around my homes for years.  M used to hate it, he doesn’t like being ‘tied’ to things, especially large furniture style things, where as I am hoarder and love objects of any kind that I can make a connection with.

Apart from some of the boys school projects lurking in the corner, you may notice a huge basket of Brio, this is normally laid out over the floor as the world’s largest train track, complete with lego embellishments (streetlights, houses, bridges, you name it).  In this sense the above photos are a lie, I did take them on a day just after I’d hoovered, hence the tidy floor.  This is very much a family home and C loves to build and we often have drawings, train sets etc cluttering up our floors that have to be stepped over.  I am quite relaxed in that sense, possibly a bit too much so, hence my regular comments re our messy home.

There are lots of ‘in progress’ bits, such as this pouffe, made by my Gran which is waiting to be covered and most of the room already needs re-painting.

We have recently bought quite a bit of furniture from, including this coffee table (the rug is from John Lewis).  I had hoped to show you quite a few details of the room, such as my favourite prints and cushions but I fear this is already a very long post.  I’m not sure how interesting it is to look at someone else’s house, at least not in this detail, but I hope it hasn’t been completely boring.  I just think it gives context to me and my family life.  I love our home, but we went through a lot to create it, nearly 4 years of builders on and off in all, and there’s still plenty to do.  We’re nearly there though so I hope to show you a bit more in time, maybe in shorter posts!!

Tweed Flower Purses: Part 2 (Acorns!)…

I spent yesterday cleaning and feel so much better because of it.  This is the kind of house where piles of things appear all over the place and build until they look ready to topple over.  I tend to be too busy to do anything about it for a while, then it starts to get to me and I spend a couple of days putting everything away and clearing all surfaces.  I am trying to train the boys to tidy their own things, they are learning but the reality is it’s always going to be me that has to do the majority, so I may as well just get on with it.  I instantly feel less stressed when the house is tidy (or tidier, it’s never going to be properly tidy!), especially when the hallways are clear….I’m pretty sure there’s some Feng Shui thing about clean hallways?!

Anyway, I’m back in the sewing room today and thought I’d better get this promised post written.

So, the big difference with this purse (the acorn one, as the title suggests) is that I was starting with the brooch and making a purse to match.

Shortly after finalising the purse pattern, I pretty much ‘saw’ in my head a two-tone version to go with the acorns.  An all tweed one wouldn’t work, as the acorn would get lost in the tweed pattern so it was clear that it needed to have a plain top part and then a nice tweedy bottom.  Please excuse my crude sketches, they were more scribbles I made one day but I stuck them in my book so I could remember the thought process.

I bought quite a few tweeds in an attempt to get the right combination, but settled on a cream cashmere wool that I already had in and some new herringbone, that has lovely flecks of red and yellow running through it.  This photo gives you some idea of how much fabric is involved, the pleats take up quite a bit, in both length and width.

For the lining I couldn’t resist using some beautiful Heather Ross ‘Snow White’ fabric from her Far Far Away 3 collection.  I have become a FFA addict, but more in that another time.  It was a bit of a challenge to try to get an interesting bit of the print into each purse lining but I do love this fabric and like how bright but golden the yellow is.  I really like golden and mustard yellows but HATE lemon and acid yellow….no idea why.

Something I wanted to try changing was the shape of the purse.  In my head (and my scribble sketch) I had imagined the purses to have more of a slant to the sides, I’d tried to achieve this with the first two batches, but the slant wasn’t exaggerated enough, so I made the purses wider at the bottom and a little lower in height.

A thought generally with the purses is that you could change the brooches over, this colour combination works just as nicely with the buttercup brooch as it does with the acorns.

The cream wool fabric is very thick so these were even more of a challenge to sew, but worth it, I think.

When I showed one to my sister she said, “oh lovely….is it a pencil case?”.  !!!!!!!!!!

and I appear to have got  a bit mixed up when sewing and have produced a ‘left handed’ purse…in that, I mean that the zip is set to pull from the right to left (something determined by the placing of the inside pocket).  What a muppet.  Still, if you’re buying and want it ‘left handed’ do let me know and I’ll send you the one below.

They are listed here.

Guess what my husband said when I showed them to him……”is it a pencil case” – ha ha ha!!

I’ve bought some purse frames to have a play with, I hope to try to keep the two tone tweed idea, as I like this but not sure the pleats will stay.  These are intended for myself and gifts for friends, but I’ll show them when finished.

Thanks for such a great response to the tweed purses in general, I have packed quite a few up and they’ve gone off to their new homes, I was so pleased to get such a positive reaction and especially happy that the price didn’t put anyone off.  Also, this is the last of the shop posts for a while, I know my blog has been a bit product heavy but it’s just that time of year and it’s mostly what I’ve been sewing.

Right, back to cleaning, now I’ve started I might as well move onto the playroom…..If you don’t hear back from me, send in a search party 😉



Tweed Flower Purses: Part 1…

I have spent the day, putting this lot ‘together’ and trying to get some decent photos as we have the best weather for that  – slightly cloudy, to reduce shadows, but with enough light to get clear colours.

I really do feel overly excited about these new purses as I’ve been working on them for nearly one and a half years.  That’s even worse than the acorn brooches, I’m sooooooooo slow.  In fact, their back story is long and might bore you so if you’re not interested, I suggest skipping to the end.  I’ve had to split the purses into 2 posts to try to shorten things.

So, back in Spring, 2011, when I made my first flower brooches, I had already thought that it would be an excellent idea to put them onto purses.  At the time, I was thinking more of a large bag, a bit like the a smaller version of the Amy Butler ‘Weekender’ bag (as above), but this idea tanked when I truly considered the cost of fabric, lining and zip, let alone the hours of making and creating my own design and pattern.  I realised no-one would want to pay the price it would cost to produce, so I had a re-think and decided to go for something much smaller.

In fact more on the scale of the Tweed Bunny Purses.  I really like these but it’s nice to mix things up a little and bunnies aren’t for everyone.  I wanted to take away the best bits and what I do love about them is the handle, having taken mine on many ‘outings’ I really appreciate being able to hang it from my arm, I also like the zip, but this may just be me, in fact I’ll get back to this point a little later on.

Over the summer of 2011, I played with lots of samples.  In my head the orignal purse was definitely made from tweed (of course!) and was always rounded so that’s where I started.  I wouldn’t normally work directly in the final fabric, especially wool, which can be quite expensive but in this case, part of the point of playing with samples was to see how the interlinings etc worked with the weight of the tweed, so I needed the real stuff.

There was a big stall here, as I became busy with winter products for 2011 and my grand plans to have the new purses ready for that season had to be abandoned.  It obviously stuck in my mind though, as the idea of using detachable flowers kept cropping up; for example, when I made myself a messenger bag , in February (blogged here).  This gave me the kick up the bum to get going again.  I wasn’t happy with the sample round shape, so I trawled my own vintage bag collection for inspiration and found this:

with it’s nice pleats!  Fab idea.  This led to the sample you can see in the bottom right, above.

Again, it wasn’t so easy.  There is an insane amount of ‘machine tacking’ going on to get those folds straight and even.  I managed to find a method that wasn’t awful to sew, below you can see a finished purse, before I removed the yellow tacking stitches.

Another issue is the bulk at the sides.  No matter how well I trim the interfacing away, at points the machine is expected to sew through very, very thick layers; more importantly, to go from a thin layer to a very thick one which causes some ‘pulling’ of the stitch.  The bags are triple stitched and sewn from both directions, so there is no way they are coming apart, but this imperfection annoys me.  Still, there is nothing I can do, the bonus is I notice the stitching is ‘settling’ down over time as the seams relax into their new shape.

I had fun choosing the lining fabrics.  This is where I used up all my Cloud 9 ‘Leaves’ before remembering I needed it for the recent Lavender Birds, resulting in a hasty Etsy search to track down the last bit ever – duh!  Inside, the bags each has a small pocket, I figured it’s a good idea to have somewhere to put your credit card so it doesn’t get scratched.

Next I had fun working out which flower brooches to use.  I settled on a grouping of three auriculas for the green tweed bag version.

It has a second ring of felt in the middle, which is slightly different to the other auricula Flower Brooches that I sell, in fact I like it so much, if I make any more I’ll incorporate this idea.

The leaves are also different, I needed something a bit plainer as the tweed I normally use is the same as the bag body.  I spent far too much money on wool, trying to get a shade of green I liked.  This one cost nearly £40/meter!!! and I’m not even that keen.  Still the leaves take up such a small amount it goes a very long way and I’ll make sure I use the remainder for something extra special.

Here’s the final bag

and to try and give you some idea of the size, me attempting to hold it whilst trying to photograph it with the other hand.

I also made a dark brown version, with a pink zip and pink flowers.

and a lining in ‘Dogwood Bloom Harvest’ by Joel Dewberry .

As you can see, the brooches are a good size.  They are made with the same care and attention as all my flower brooches and have similar ‘tidy’ backs.

Problems.  I’m not sure the zips will be for everyone, I did think lots about having a bag ‘flap’ instead, with a magnetic snap or similar, but I like that if it’s on it’s side, swinging from your arm, nothing can accidentally fall out (like those diamond earrings you popped into the pocket for wearing later…hey, a girl can dream!).  I also thought about all the different ways of inserting a zip.  The basic method I’ve used works the best, as it keeps the layering of heavy fabric and lining to a minimal at either end, and I deliberately didn’t top stitch it down on the sides as I don’t like how that looks in this case, but it smacks rather of a posh pencil case and I’m not sure that reflects all the work involved, especially in lining up the pleats and getting them even.

Pricing.  God I hate pricing things up.  So, after a LOT of asking around, researching on Etsy etc, totting up the fabric and the hours, these have gone on at £30.  I just can’t make them for less, in fact I lose out a bit here (in the making time part, I try to make sure I earn a reasonable wage for this bit) so these will definitely be a seasonal thing, if I do ever make them again.  I am not a great business women in this way, I quite often get drawn into the enjoyment of designing and making something and can over complicate things.  I find it hard to balance out what a ‘customer’ might want, both in the product and price versus the detail I would like to add.

You can find them here, along with the acorn version which I’ll blog about next (part 2!).

Lavender Bird Give Away Winner…

Thank for all your lovely comments on the lavender bird giveaway.

The winner was comment number 35, which was by Carefully made by Mrs Robinson, who I see has a lovely blog, full of fabulous makes, especially for little ones.  I’ve said this before but one of the things I love most about doing giveaways is finding lots of new bogs to visit.

Thank you everyone for entering, I really do appreciate it.

There are more giveaways coming up soon….:)