Green Foxes and Country Living

I’m ridiculously pleased to have made it into Country Living magazine this month with Mr Badger.MrBadgerCountryLivingI’m very lucky that I’ve been in the magazine before (a few times, actually) but not for some time. In fact, I think it’s a lot harder to get into magazines in general these days, there is so much competition in the handmade market that it’s difficult to stand out and it’s increasingly important to keep up any marketing which is an area I really struggle to find the passion to maintain.il_570xN.509627634_4hdz

It’s given me a well needed kick up the bum to get on with some neglected jobs including listing some things that have been finished for a while but where I simply hadn’t edited the photos (it all takes sooooooo long!)IMG_20170607_135833So, welcome, Mr Fox (in a Green Dandy Suit!).DSC_0003These started with some amazing Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought and imported from Japan. Why are all the nicest Tana Lawns only available abroad? I’ve never figured this out, it seems wrong, especially as it’s such an iconic British brand. Anyway, at much expense my single meter arrived (back in 2010!!!) and it was yelling animal cravats at me, so that’s what I made.GreenFox1With the addition of real leather buttons (I bought the entire remaining stock from Cath Kidston a few years ago when they went into the sale at a silly low price – one of my best buys as before that a lot of the leather buttons I used were vintage and they were getting hard to source at a sensible price).MrFoxNewGreen3There isn’t a lot else to add. Of all the foxes I’ve made, these are my favourite combination (but they don’t beat the wolves!), I really do adore the cravat fabric and bright green is very much my colour. They seem like a summer animal to me.FoxesIt’s likely that the remaining ‘Woodland Animals‘ will be my last.

I love them and they are very much in keeping with The Linen Cat. DSC_0269I’ve been making them in some form or another since 2010, but they take an enormous amount of time to make and the fabric alone is quite expensive so there is little profit.DSC_0017They really are a labour of love.DSC_0019There are still a few to be found in the shop (the badgers are almost gone now!) and some were moved into the Sale section a while ago so there is a bargain of two to be found there.DSC_0017Christmas things are coming next!

Glyndebourne 2018: Saul

It was time for one of my regular yearly outings with a trip to Glyndebourne Opera House. It’s always such a treat as I don’t get out a lot (boo hoo, poor me) and I always make the most of the opportunity to dress up. As all those who regularly read my posts on this subject know you can wear anything you like to Glyndebourne and I embrace that entirely, but I also recycle outfits quite a bit as it’s not practical for me to buy new things each year.IMG_20180722_121318

So, this time it was an old dress (I wore it last year too, as some of you will spot) but new shoes!

IMG_20180722_121206And what shoes they are. Quiet and understated they are not. They’re from Irregular Choice’s Aloha Hula range and I absolutely love them. Clearly, they are not for everyone….some of the ladies I attended Glyndebourne with were not very impressed, but I don’t mind, I don’t dress for other people I dress for myself so I don’t really care. I got lots of positive comments from other Opera goers, mainly elderly ladies some of whom stopped to take photos of my feet!IMG_20180722_124029Here is the rest of the outfit with me attempting to smile (I don’t like taking my own photo). I put these photos up on Instagram and some eagle-eyed folk spotted I have my usual Paperself bird eyelashes on too. Sorry, no close-up photos of the eyes this year as I was too lazy to take one, I also didn’t vintage set my hair as it was simply too hot.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 12.29.49The opera was a delight. I must admit to finding the ‘story’ pace a bit slow in the first half but the music was beautiful and the choral sections were especially good.poaztwm9b0et2l27hoypThe staging was magnificent! 'Saul' Opera performed at Glyndebourne Opera, E Sussex, UKThere was a moment in the second half where I thought we’d swapped to watching an episode of League of Gentlemen (anyone who has seen Glyndebourne’s version of Saul knows exactly what I’m talking about here…’bitty’ *shudder*) but it just added to the slightly bonkers feel of the whole thing.ygtsadzmby0oj4ikgvs7I especially loved the raked ‘soil’ floor, the contrasts of colour against the black background and the mix of modern and period costume. Fabulous.

Anyhow, that’s my yearly outing done (small violin playing in the distance here); the shoes have been put away (actually they haven’t, they are in my newly decorated bathroom, on the shelf, where I can admire them for a bit longer) and it’s back to sewing, surviving the heat and refereeing the kids.

 

Time to say goodbye…

My youngest is about to make the move up to secondary school so it’s time to say goodbye to his primary. I pretend I won’t miss it, but I will; I’ll especially miss my daily snippet of adult conversation (I once read a blog post of someone who also works from home and they wrote about coming across as a little crazy when they finally got into the ‘real world’ by over talking and being a bit loony with enthusiasm about being out of the house and around people – I can relate!).DSC_0060We’re ready, though. The enthusiasm has gone now for all the little necessities of primary school; I’ll be happy not to have to magic a costume out of thin air with no notice to be worn for just one day, and I dream of not doing the school run (although with two spectrum children that won’t be possible for a good while yet, in fact, it’ll get worse as I’ll have a double pick-up – they will be in two different schools – with daily motorway drive then a stressful drive directly through town, between the schools).DSC_0009One thing we stopped doing ages ago was making teachers gifts. We started off well but then dropped into the habit of adding money to the class joint pot (actually, we used to do both). Looking through old photos whilst cleaning out my library I’m amazed at how much effort we went to, so here are a few (click on the titles to go to the relevant posts):DSC_0241(when were my kids EVER this cute!!!)

2010: Strawberry Jam and Lavender Birds

 

2011: Blackcurrant Jam, Little Birds and BagsDSC_0026

(Jam recipe is here)

2012: Apple Lavender BagsDSC_0012I can’t find a post for these but I remember I embroidered messages on the back of them for each teacher.

2013: Flower BroochesDSC_0044DSC_0050

2014: Flower Brooches and Linen MiceDSC_0066

The Christmas ones…

2010: Santas

 

2013: Chocolates and Little BirdsDSC_0049DSC_0054

There will have been other Christmas gifts but I can’t find them in my photos and I’m getting vertigo from scrolling on the laptop (not kidding, sadly).

As anyone with kids will know, the last few weeks of school are crazy, especially when in year 6 and it is definitely with mixed emotions that we will be saying ‘goodbye’.

Gran’s Pouffe…

Continuing the ‘nibbling’ I thought it would be good to post some of the half-written blog entries; this one is from 2014 (!!???) and the reason it hasn’t been completed is that I never actually finished the inside of the pouffe so I kicked myself into action and got it done on Friday – hurrah! – another satisfying ‘tick’.

2014….


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Along with my attempts to work on winter things, I am also trying to make a little time to finish projects for myself and the home. Some are long overdue, like covering this pouffe which is past it’s best. It belonged to my Gran and she used it in her bedroom; it had a loose cover on top, in fact, one that I made to match her curtains (I remember, with great guilt, that it took me forever to get around to doing this for her), what you can see above is what was underneath the loose cover and it’s in a bit of a state.

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I believe Gran made it herself and in true sentimental ‘me’ style there is no way I’d ever get rid of it, despite it looking like a dog’s dinner. It has followed me around for many years from home to home (it came to me after Gran passed away) and at one point it had a Marimekko lose cover to match F’s baby room, but I’ve always planned to give it a more permanent finish.

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These photos were taken in November 2012 (2018 – insert eye roll here as even I am amazed it’s been in production for so long!), so I guess that’s when I actually started to put my plan into action. I was up for doing the job properly, I had furniture tacks and everything and with scant memories of upholstery classes whilst doing my degree I was full of enthusiasm but, the honest truth is that the staple gun won in the end and did a very decent job too.

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The fabric is Almedahls Mustard Körsbärsträdgården Scandinavian Fabric bought from Hus and Hem.

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I’ve had is squirrelled away for quite a while, but, I really like it and wanted to save it for a special project, which I think this is. I like the idea of a bold, slightly oversized print.  I must say, I am slightly worried about sun fade damage, which I think will happen quite quickly (2018 – it hasn’t faded that badly, but then it’s not in direct sunlight and I’ve gone on to buy some of the same fabric to make a door curtain in our utility room to match the bright yellow rubber flooring).

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The pouffe is built from a simple handmade wooden box, similar looking to a wine crate, that’s then covered in wadding and finally a layer of cream fabric.  All of this was base was in an ok condition so I kept it and simply covered over the top.

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Underneath, the original rubber feet had started to disintegrate so they had to go and I replaced them with Kendrick Shepherd casters because I have an obsession with putting everything on casters.  I used some linen that also came from Gran via my Mum (curtains that were left in the farmhouse when Mum and Dad moved in there) and some badly attached bias binding to line the edges.

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And this is where the pouffe got abandoned, as it’s easy to forget that the inside needs doing when it looks OK closed. So we jump to March of this year (we’re still in 2014 here, blimey I dragged this one out!), in the above photo.  I had forgotten I’d taken this, I tend to load photos into blank posts ready to add the words at a later date.  This is Smelly, my cat, I mentioned in an earlier post that she has been ill for a while and the vets couldn’t find out why, despite trying many things and spending a small fortune, sadly she didn’t make it and I had to have her put down at the end of the school holidays. Gutted. I’ve had her for 16 years and it was one of the many ‘pants’ aspects of the hols but, as I said at the start, let’s not dwell…(again, this is all from 2014 and we’ve had two other cats die since!! We also now have two alive and very healthy cats so it’s not all doom and gloom).

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I wanted to copy the original cover as closely as possible, I’d already done the same folding on the sides, next I made a copy of the fabric handles.  I love the bird pattern and wanted to make sure the handles didn’t interfere with the continuity (I spent FOREVER getting the pattern in a good position for the main cover and lid to give maximum appeal) so I took the time to match everything up and I think it works well.

2018

This is clearly as far as I got in both writing the post and the pouffe itself; it’s been sitting in the living room by one of the chairs where it has a lovely wooden chess board on top to stop anyone shoving a coffee cup directly onto the fabric!DSC_0082The hold up was the inside. I had bought some shot orange linen to sew a lining (similar to the original) but it just never got done and the idea didn’t sit well with me either. The original fabric lining was quite stained and dirty and the neat side of my brain couldn’t cope with the same thing happening again, I wanted something more practical inside and that could be wiped and cleaned, if needed.DSC_0087So on Friday, I bought a sheet of MDF and it got a permanent box lining instead. Today it’ll get varnished and then I’m attaching two brass chains on either side of the lid to stop it flopping back and toppling the whole thing over when opened.

Job done 🙂

Cushions and Curtains

I find it very difficult to make time to sew things for the house (or myself), these days, it feels like I’m ‘wasting’ my time when I have more pressing things to do, but I also get a bit down seeing daily jobs that need attention so I’ve really pushed myself over the past year to work through things from the never-ending list and I feel a lot better for it.IMG_20171109_092535Last week I took a day out to sew curtains and cushions for the living room. The curtains were desperately needed as it’s getting cold and the big square bay window can allow a lot of heat loss if not covered by a decent curtain.IMG_20171109_131320The curtains on this window are hung by an Ikea Dignitet wire. I don’t really do traditional curtains, in fact, I generally don’t do curtains at all as I prefer minimalist, modern coverings so most of the windows in this house have roman blinds (always hung outside the frame to allow for maximum light), but on this window blinds aren’t practical. The wire used to hang at the back meaning the small side windows allowed a lot of heat to escape plus it’s a bit creepy in the winter, I always imagine someone is out there looking in at me as I sit on the sofa in my pj’s, as you do. I moved the wire to the front and changed the curtain to one large one hung in a way that it folds neatly and mostly fits in the small side recess when closed, so you can barely see the curtain at all and it allows as much light in as possible. It’s hung oddly with the folds on the far side of the wire so that the curtain hooks show, which is probably not to everyone’s taste but I quite like this.IMG_20171109_131239I shrank the original curtains after washing them recently. Muppet. I’ve reused the fabric as it was expensive linen but I needed the new curtains to be washable and stiffer in order to get the neat folds I was after when closed, so I backed the entire thing in extra wide ‘Opera’ fabric from Tinsmith which has a canvas feel.Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 09.43.33It’s not something I’d normally chose but I really like the idea of it as a surprise backing fabric and it matched the pale green linen from the front perfectly, plus should I ever want to go floral I can reverse the curtains and have the birds and flowers on show instead of the plain linen. The curtain also has a thermal lining sewn into it and some regular curtain tape (purely for stiffness) sandwiched between the layers to aid the firm folds at the top. All the fabrics have been pre-washed and the curtain hooks are removable so it can be taken down and washed in the machine at home. IMG_20171109_093607I had some linen left over and it was a perfect opportunity to get some tapestry cushions made up that have been sitting on the spare bed for months. Everything has come from stock except the two pheasant tapestries, which I bought on eBay for pennies. I had planned to add piping cord but abandoned that idea knowing that these cushions will be heavily used and cotton piping tends to wear away quite quickly on the corners.IMG_20171109_131428In my mind they do look a bit ‘unfinished’ without some piping…or a twisted cord would have been nice too.IMG_20171109_131355But they are done and it’s another thing to tick off the list and that makes me VERY happy.

This weekend I am fitting skirting and painting, cooking Sunday lunch and baking the Christmas pudding! There is no rest for the wicked.

Mr Badger is Back

There are some things I’ve made that sell out within a few hours of blogging about them. I love that something I have made is that popular but I often feel guilty they are gone so quickly and it’s common to get emails afterwards asking me if I’ll make an extra one for a commission or if I’ll be making more soon. The answer to both is usually no. I am a people pleaser so I hate saying no, but I also know myself well and once I’m done with something I generally need a break or I would not enjoy the process of making them. I also just don’t really do commissions as I find it amazingly time-consuming making just one of something and my time can be quite erratic (single parent, not exactly straightforward kids) so it’s better to just be honest and make a polite refusal than promise things I might not be able to deliver or where I’ll get stressed out trying.IMG_20170525_102205Way back in 2011 I made some Mr Badgers and they sold out almost directly after listing them. I got asked a few times afterwards if I’d make more and the answer was always no until someone emailed me in 2013 and in a moment of weakness (they wrote a very polite and compelling email, if I remember correctly,  about family names and the need for a Mr Badger as an ideal gift), I said yes, OK, why not?IMG_20170612_163909To try to make it worthwhile (time wise) I cut the fabric for six badgers and their clothing at the same time and delivered one completed Badger with the other cut pieces being stacked away for later. I love the woodland animals (the wolves are still my favourite, I think) but that are incredibly time-consuming and it just doesn’t scale so these will be the last I ever make along with a couple of new green-suited foxes that I still need to photograph and list.DSC_0028They are really a summer item with their mustard and red clothing and little ‘Red Arrow’ auricula brooches. The original badgers have roses, so this is one minor change along with little leather buttons instead of chunky yellow ones.When Scottie Plays The Pipes by Molly Brettba15fee7d832afdb14a50f700b6b80f8

They make me think of Molly Brett and Racey Helps illustrations, as animals in clothes always do.DSC_0030I’m sad to only just be photographing them now, they have been nearly finished for a while (with just the brooches to complete) and I would have preferred to post about them in spring or summer.DSC_0065Still, they are here now and I’ve listed them in my shop and on Folksy.Badger2 2Badger2The waistcoats got a pattern re-draft some time ago and aren’t as ‘snug’ as the originals, which in hindsight might be a mistake as looking back at the old ones and seeing their fat little bellies struggling to be contained by the button is actually quite endearing.Badger 2I’ve started to look at taking some photos in situ and plan to use my vintage furniture and belongings as props. I haven’t got it right yet, but I’ve made a start and I think it shows the size quite well, I know people imagine them to be smaller than they actually are.DSC_0158 2Another ‘tick’ for the list. Phew. Annoyingly as I was looking up some Molly Brett images I came across an animal that I just might not be able to resist making so that top part about these being the last might be a lie. I am a glutton for punishment.