Green Apple Apron Giveaway Winner…

Duh!  I forget to post this, but I did pick a winner last weekend…..

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 10.52.30It was comment 32, which was from Ruth of Ruth Creates 247, who I am having difficulty getting an email reply from (perhaps you are away on holiday Ruth?  If not, and you are reading, do please get back to me so I can post your apron off).  Thanks everyone for entering.

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On the photo front (because I can’t post without a photo), I made this purse for my Sister, as it was her Birthday recently.

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The colours were all about using some amazing silk, left over from a door curtain I made, that I had a narrow strip of, for the lining.  (The fabric and door curtain were also for my Sister, I should add, so she had chosen this amazing embroidered silk).  It’s so lovely I couldn’t face wasting it, I did consider making the bag from the silk, but even lined and backed it is amazingly difficult to iron nicely, so I don’t think it would have looked very neat.  The embroidery pulls as the silk, at you can see below.

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The left over fabric strip was so narrow, I had to do some silly joining to get it to work, but it looked nice in the final bag.

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What you can’t see is the inside pocket, which is lined in an orange-red silk, used for a border in the door curtain as I also had some left over.  I know the fabric looks kind of bird’s egg blue in the photo, but I promise, it really is actually a pale green.

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Lastly, I’ve been adding to my ever extending childrens’ book collection (you can just imagine how much fun it is sharing a house with me and all my stuff 😉 lucky M) and I’m hoping the book on the right is by Great Auntie Florence, she usually wrote under the name Florence Foster Brook, but maybe this was before she got married….I can’t imagine there were that many Florence Foster’s writing in the late 50’s.

That’s all really.  We’re still trying to shift colds so there hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on around here and I have a Halloween project part done, if I don’t hurry I wont finish it in time, so best get a move on!

Pretty Things – Little Red Riding Hood…

Did anyone see the recent  Folksy front page?  The theme was ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and some lovely folk there, very kindly asked if they could use my Mr Wolf as part of the accompanying Facebook/Instagram/Twitter promotion.

mr wolf flatObviously, I said yes and was super happy with the nice word bubble they added (made me realise how much more I could do with my images….I need to do some photoshop tutorials really).

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Other people’s work was also used and it lead me to buy a couple of things.  If I’m honest, we’re all just recovering from stinking colds (welcome back to school everyone!!) and I was in need of a little cheer up.  I am dreadful for using ‘treats’ when I feel blue, even a nice coffee and piece of cake works for me.

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First up, a couple of cards from Clare Shrouder Illustration.  How fabulous are they!  and check out the thank you card, oh how I love these little touches when you buy from a small, independent designer.

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And secondly, a wolf lavender bag, which comes in it’s own box, complete with a mini card (and would make a perfect gift, if I wasn’t selfishly keeping if for myself), plus a set of cards from keke- kaka (these were wrapped beautifully, in blue tissue, as above).

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Just wanted to show them to you, it really has made my morning as I was feeling super grumpy (they arrived with Mr Postie, as I was writing the last blog entry).  Let’s face it, you know it’s going to be good when the envelope looks like this 🙂

‘Yorkshire’ Tweed Purse…

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This is a picture heavy post and it starts with some (dodgy) photos I took ages ago when I was walking back ‘home’ in the Dales.  I know I’ve mentioned this colour combination before, the greens, browns and purple pinks; but these colours really do always remind me of North Yorkshire.

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They are a colour combination I keep returning too.

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They were part of the inspiration for Fox clothing some years ago (I only just re-listed Foxes and my last purple Mr & Mrs sold straight away….I wasn’t expecting that).

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And when I made the recent red rose purse, I couldn’t resist making a ‘Yorkshire’ coloured one.  By the way, I am so in love with this new dog-tooth check tweed, it’s all autumn heather, with a brown base and hints of purple and green.  I bought loads so I can make myself a suit, which I’m quite excited about, it might even get used with one of my 1940’s patterns.

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But back to the purse.

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It has a shot cotton lining with pocket, and a pink rose brooch.

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And can be found here.

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You may notice that my site has had a re-vamp.  I’ve changed the front page design and re-loaded all my product images so they are a bit larger.  It took forever (and there is still some to do) but it was worth it.  I often feel that my work is shown so much better here, on the blog, and on the actual sales page is a bit of a let-down and you can’t see the details or quality nearly as well.  I was also just bored and felt like a change.  The new, simpler layout with top menu is much better, it still needs a new banner though, I really must get around to that soon.

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Oh, and as we’re on the subject of pink and green, I also added some new double pink roses.

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All mounted up and ready to go.

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Giveaway – Green Apple Apron…

Thanks for all the helpful and kind comments on the last post.

I’m glad people feel that the pricing is OK on the purses, it was backed up by two flying out the day I listed them, which is always a good sign.  I hope it comes across I just wanted to open the debate on this area and to show how much work etc goes into the making, and not that I was fishing for compliments or anything.  I just know, when I read posts from other people on things such as jewellery making (which I know nothing about), I love understanding the work involved and seeing the process, it makes me appreciate the final product even more.

I am also aware that I am lucky to have some disposable income and that I enjoy buying handmade, both for myself and for gifts, and am likely to happily pay more for better quality materials and good workmanship.  Not everyone is in this position though, I do know that.  I try to pitch myself somewhere in the middle on pricing, so good quality but affordable (as a treat) and hope I get that balance right.

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As an illustration, I popped over to Sarah Culleton’s on-line shop yesterday and this beauty jumped into my shopping basket.  I love her bags and this one is no exception, it’s one of those wonderful designs that I wish I’d come up with – ha ha!  I don’t copy other people’s handmade work, even if I could, I would feel really uncomfortable doing that and think it’s important to support the designer who has come up with the idea (it’s why I get a bit irked by people pinning my work onto ‘things I’m going to copy for myself’ style titled boards, or worse ‘things to make for the next craft fair’, I’m trying to mellow on this and just not look, I do understand people probably do copy things I just don’t like it being blatant and I’d get pretty cross if I saw my designs for sale anywhere).

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It’s really beautifully made and I’m happy to pay for one…..just check out that little snail brooch detail – genius!

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Anyhow, I forgot to explain the size of the new purses in the last post, they are quite roomy and there is plenty of space for phone, keys, money and a bit of makeup.  They are bigger than the original ones and I have ordered some clip frames from Hong Kong, but to be honest, even though cheaper per unit, by the time you add postage it’s not such a big saving.

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I said goodbye to my last acorn bag as well *sniff* which I wont be making more of, but there will be more purses in general, both with clips and zips (I have other designs on the go).

OK, back to the giveaway.

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When I made the apple aprons, I did one with smaller pleats to see if it lessened the bulk, when sewing the waistband on…I had forgotten that even this small alteration would widen the apron on the whole, plus it gave it less shape, I like how the bigger pleats make the apron bounce out a bit at the front and allow for general curves from waists and hips (as above).

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So, it left me with one finished apron that’s a bit wider than the others and I thought it would make a nice giveaway.

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Just leave a comment and I’ll pick a winner in two weeks (Saturday, September the 21st).  I’ll post worldwide, just please make sure I can contact you from the comment.  Please remember I can’t reply to comments on this post as it messes up the numbers for the giveaway – oh and I nearly deleted the bit about pinning as I know how emotive this subject is, on both sides.

By the way, it’s lovely and quiet around here and I have coffee 🙂

Red Tweed Flower Purses…

This story begins well over a year ago, when I planned my original flower purses.

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Along with the acorn, auricula and pink rose versions, I had intended a red rose one.  Quite simply, I cut the parts for the red rose brooches, but hadn’t anticipated how long the actual bags would take and quite frankly, as per my last post, I ran out of steam and never made up the red ones.  I had also bought some clip frames to have a play around with, thinking these might be an alternative to the zips, so I decided to save the roses for these.

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I found this photo on February of last year.  By now I am sewing up the roses….and here they stayed until last week.  As I have mentioned, I am supposed to be finishing open projects, I have many on the go, but when sitting at my desk (for the first time in months) I just felt like doing something new and I remembered the clip frames.

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As with most projects, pulling fabrics out and laying them together was the first part of the process.  I take photos as a reminder (not just for the blog) and so I can easily reference how fabrics looked together in the future (sometimes I revisit colour and texture combinations at another time of year, as they simply don’t fit my mood when first put together).  I already had an image on my head of how I’d like to make these bags, and I knew this involved two tweeds (to mimic the acorn purses above, as it’s a detail I really liked).  The red tweed and even the lining fabric (Flea Market Fancy – Posie by Denise Schmidt) had been bought with this project in mind, again, last year; and the lovely dog-tooth tweed was bought for my 1940’s suit, only it’s too thick, but no bother, it’s the perfect weight for purses.

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Next, I read loads of tutorials on the best way to draft a pattern for a clip frame – I found this one to be the most helpful – and I made a toile to see if it fit as I’d imagined.

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I took time to decide where I wanted the join in the fabric to be, I was conscious it would affect the fold at the side of the purse if in the wrong position, and whilst doing so changed my mind about which fabric should be on top! (the dog-tooth check won).

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At this point, I was confident enough to make up a final version, with all the correct interlinings etc.  I always worry at this stage that the linings make the purse feel quite heavy, as I use lots of layers, including iron-on and a heavy sew-in Vilene, but I should trust my instinct as the final purse is prefect and holds it shape really well.

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I then had a looooooong head debate about whether an inside pocket was necessary or not.  The first clip-frame version doesn’t have one (I checked and hardly any do on Etsy), BUT, I have a thing about having somewhere to keep my credit card, where is wont get knocked against keys etc.  The thing is, I’m not mad keen on the sewn in square kind of pocket I used in the first purses I made, it’s actually quite difficult to do it super neatly and lined up, so I did a nifty folded kind of thing (the pattern above is supposed to match up exactly and look really tidy, which I nearly managed) the down side of this means, depending on the pattern repeat, this could use up lots of extra fabric; then it’s stitched behind on either side to form a neat, little credit card space.

After then layering the bags together and stitching (and LOTS of ironing), comes to messy bit.  Glue.  Glue on my fingers, glue on the table, glue on my embroidery scissors (used to push the fabric into the groove).  I am quite a tidy worker, but I think I just felt I needed to use a lot, as I panic when relaying on glue, I distrust it.  I have this horrid image of the purse falling apart, so I really went for it, to make sure there was no chance of disintegration down the line.  Again, I read lots of advice and opted for Gutterman HT2, and putting glue on both the inside of the frame and a bit along the purse edge.  My top tip, is to stay stitch both long edges along the top (one you do naturally, to close where you have turned the purse and lining through) as this stops the fabric rolling, when you’re pushing it into the frame. I manage to keep glue off the fabric, only getting the odd bit on the frame, which I rubbed off with some acetate I once bought for removing gel nail polish (which I’d picked off by the time it arrived in the post, annoyingly), I knew it’d come in handy one day 😉

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I love them.  I really do.  I think it’s the slightly oversized bobbles on the frame itself and, obviously, the tweed.  I’ve put one aside for myself as I’d already nabbed a rose brooch to wear for a wedding last year.

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So, now the really, really horrid bit, pricing.

There is no question that there is less work involved in these than the zip, pleat, handle versions from last year, but I did still put a lot of time into each one, and most importantly the frames are expensive, the little pile in the above photos cost £48!! When I totted up the materials, this is how it was starting to look: frame £7.50, tweed, lining & interlining £6, then there’s the glue (quite expensive and one tube did about 4 purses for me) and thread, so about £15 per purse for the materials alone.  Then the rose, which I would sell at a minimum £13 (as it’s a large cluster). So we are at £28 already and this includes nothing for my time or skills.

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Having looked about a lot on Etsy, the range in pricing for this kind of thing is huge, from the art end, to the ones from people sewing for fun (and I’m not complaining here, just saying it how it is) who only cover the frame cost plus a bit.  I feel bad if I price my work high, but I have to make a profit or it’s all a bit pointless, sometimes I think it would be easier to sew one-of-a kind, high-end, art designs and pitch them much higher, but I actually enjoy the mini factory line and have already put myself into the market space where I am, too late to change now, unless I took on a second shop, under a new name with a completely different style (it’s an idea, actually).

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Anyhow, I’ve gone for £35.  Hardly any profit, but you win some and all that, and it shows how important it is to write down every bit of the materials, for instance, I wouldn’t have realised the glue cost so much.  I wonder how much I made on the original purses?  I wasn’t so careful with my sums then and just opted for £30 (which the remaining ones, just listed today, are still on at), I imagine there might even have been a loss.

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It raises some questions though.  Would you prefer to be able to buy the purse alone, and then you could buy a flower brooch separately, if you wanted to?  (which would bring the price right down).  In my mind these larger purses are not complete without the brooch, it’s part of the design, but perhaps I’m wrong?; there are many being sold in single coloured tweed (ie not even with the two-tone) on Etsy for a lot more money and clearly they sell.  I do plan some smaller coin versions, just to fulfill my clip fame love.

If you’re still with me, thanks, that was a long one with much rambling 🙂 hope the photos partly made up for it.  Next time – a giveaway – hurrah!

FYI, they are listed here and the original version with no pocket is at a reduced price.

All change…

September already?!  I have to confess, that on the return from our holidays, I was a bit miffed that autumn wasn’t already here, it is after all, my favourite season and I was ready for some cooler weather.  Since then I’ve mellowed into this late summer we are getting, the nights and mornings feel cool (VERY important when you have young kids who sleep badly in hot weather) and there is definitely a sense that the season is turning, but then it’s nice to still have the sunny days.

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I the studio, I have finally taken time to do some sewing.  I’m firmly in winter mode here, trying to make sure I have enough of all my basics for the usual sales heavy period (I sell more in November and early December, than in the rest of the year put together).

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I took the time yesterday to do a stock take and to write along side how many items I sold last year so I know if I’m on-track.  There are a couple of gaping holes, mainly the total lack of monster purses, but the rest is looking OK.

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I’m supposed to be clearing all open projects but I tangented from sewing replacement red roses onto new tweed purses.  I say new but the roses themselves were cut last year, I just didn’t get around to the bags after completing the acorn and other rose tweed versions, I ran out of steam as they had taken so long and I was a bit tweeded out.  Hopefully I’ll have these finished and listed by the end of this week, but there is a pricing issue looming (more on that in the next post).

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What else? I’ve pulled my ‘winter box’ out of the cupboard.  It contains the things I use, to change over the board above my desk, plus lots of half-finished project ideas.  I’m waiting until the boys are back at school (later this week, due to inset days) before doing this as I’d prefer a quieter house for the occasion.  Sorry if the sight of Christmas is a bit socking this early, but in shop terms, it’s just around the corner.

So what’s coming up?  I’m afraid quite a bit of re-stock, some nice new designs, a giveaway or two and hopefully the shop re-opened this week, pending my getting over the feeling it needs a re-design (which I simply don’t have the time for).  Roll on the boys being back in school, I always dread it but know that the first morning I sit at my desk, coffee in hand in the peace and quiet, a feeling of calm, determination and enthusiasm will resume.