Bags, bags, bags…

I’m writing this post knowing that I can’t publish it until after Christmas as the intended recipients might well be reading, but I am really pleased with myself finishing up a few of my present sewing list today so I’m writing whilst I’m all enthusiastic.

It seems the thing for me this year is bags, I can’t get enough of them.

I knew I wanted to make a simple tweed bag that I could decorate with some of my flower brooches for my sister-in-law, it’s basically a larger version of a project I was working on back in late summer and that should have been completed for the shop for listing before Christmas, but due to illness, never was (more on that in another post).  In the end, I remembered there were some bag patterns in Ellen Luckett Baker’s book 1-2-3 Sew and I settled on the Tiered Bag pattern.  I think I’ve said before that I’m not very good at using patterns, I have a tendancey to mess with them and certainly with the making instructions (which I often don’t read, silly really as the writers I’m sure have spent many hours testing them), but this was super easy to make and I whipped it up in no time and I’m so glad I just went with Ellen’s pattern and didn’t spend hours working one out myself.  I did use different linings and interfacing, but that’s simply my personal preference and experience of using the weight of the fabrics I chose.

Because the bag was so quick and easy (this is such a great book, I really do recommend it) it left me plenty of time to play with the decoration, which was really the point.  I stitched up a couple of removable flower brooches in matching golds and creams, in real life the colours are a little more subtle and the tweed is plain-ish herringbone in pale gold so it sits nicely as a backdrop for the flowers.  I’m really pleased with the finished bag, so much so I fancy one for myself!

It has a nice matching lining with a pocket, in Acorn Chain by Joel Dewberry and I figured that one or both of the brooches can be removed and maybe worn on a coat collar etc making this quite versatile and great for a special occasions.

So, as I was on a roll I also made a couple more of the Market Totes that led me to Ellen’s book in the first place.  Those that have been reading may remember that I made some as teachers gifts at the end of last year, the pattern at the time was released as promotion for the book on the blog Chronicle Books and it’s what made me go buy the book.  These are one of my favourite gifts to give and are so quick and easy to make.

Oddly, I used my original pattern which I cut from intuition and some measurements given in the post (my printer doesn’t do enlarging….it probably does but I haven’t the faintest idea how to work it), even though I could have traced the pattern from the book, gosh I’m lazy.  I meant to compare my version to the actual so see how far out I am.

Inside is a little message for Gran and Auntie T 🙂

Hope you had a lovely Christmas, we will no doubt as usual do nothing what so ever for New Year’s Eve, I’m normally in bed quite early to be honest as the kids don’t allow for a lie-in but whatever your plans I hope it’s a good one 🙂


Oh yes, to say I’ve been a bit grumpy today would probably be an understatement; I am cheering considerably as I write this entry (which I will finish tomorrow, due to the need for photos), drinking wine and watching an old Dr Who episode but today, for some reason, has been a challenge.  Still, I have finished some blinds for my sister, which are partly to blame for the grump as I really don’t enjoy what I think of as ‘straight line sewing’.  It’s party why I don’t sew many clothes for myself and also why I didn’t slip into making wedding dresses or ball gowns after my degree, which would be an obvious and sensible way to take the costume design when not actually designing and making costumes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love designing and making period work and have a bit of a thing about early 20th century dress designs (hence a LOT of time spent browsing this site after recently watching Atonement and becoming slightly obsessed by the green dress) but I always see the faults in things I make for myself and prefer smaller more detailed work for my daily fix.

I digress. On the cheery side, I am in Molly Makes this month – hurrah! – I did know, they had asked for some photos but it was still a thrill to see it there in print, little old me.  Lovely.

I haven’t actually had a proper chance to read the new MM but from speed reads in-between blind making and catering for the every whim of my boys (one of whom is sick. He actually said to me today, “Mummy, I wish I had a bell so I could ring it when I need something, like they do on TV.” !!!!???) it promises to be just as wonderful as all the issues so far, most definitely a magazine to be proud to be in.

I have made a little ‘Gone Fishing’ sign for the shop front during my holidays. Not great timing considering the MM mention but I’m looking forward to two weeks in my beloved Yorkshire, breathing in the Northern air (which is most definitely different ;)) and hopefully not eating too many Bettys yummies.

Not bad for a 5 mins grab at things hanging around the studio, need to learn more about my camera though, a bit of variation in exposure wouldn’t go amiss.

And if that’s not enough to get a person out of a grumpy mood how about this beauty made from a tutorial found on Heather Bailey’s blog.

It’s a super cute wrist needle pincushion.  I’m not really one for too cute things but this I fell in love with, I really wanted to make it in the purple colour way from her original pincushion version but this was the perfect time to use up all this scraps of felt I insist in keeping (hence the top photo).

So, the shop will be closing this week and I’ve already shut down Folksy.  I need to do some drastic re-stocking and I’ve quite a nice stash of new things to photograph when I get back, ready for the Autumn change over but for now, I intend to enjoy our Summer 🙂

Teachers Gifts 2011…

It would appear that there are many of us on that fast train right now, for me it’s slowing down a little and I hope it’s the same for you, thanks for all your lovely comments.

I did a little *ahem* fabric shopping a while ago, it was love at first sight so I had to buy

Spira Haga in Sand by Bitte Stenström

Körsbärsträdgården in Mustard by Marianne Westman

and in a little more detail.

I also bought the Haga fabric in the Nougat and they all came from my new favourite online shop Hus and Hem.

Now, they are not cheap by any means but the quality shines through and I have a special plan for the beautiful bird fabric given some extra hours in the day.  As for the Haga, I had recently earmarked this tutorial which comes from the book 1, 2, 3 Sew by Ellen Luckett Baker (the tutorial being released by the book publishers), to make a Market Tote bag.  The fabric was perfect and even though it meant cutting into my lovely new stash it had to be done.  I striped it with some hand dyed linen in red and a rustic linen fabric for the bottom and lining of the bags and I’m very pleased with the results.

I needed to make two bags altogether, one for C’s Keyworker (she was also F’s when he was at pre-school) and one for F’s teacher.  I wouldn’t normally make something so major as teachers gifts but both have been great this year and really deserved something a little extra.

Although the bags look the same in these photos they are quite different in ‘real life’.  I have used both of my Haga fabrics and the red stripes are not the same (one is a pink red, the other more of a brown red).  The bags were super easy to make, the only thing I have changed on the pattern is making the arm hole slightly deeper as on the first bag I found it difficult to get it over my shoulder.

The bit that took forever was making labels to put inside.

These were printed on fabric transfer paper (which I HATED using, my printer didn’t like the make I chose at all) and then sewn inside.

For the teaching assistants I made blackcurrant jam with the boys, using berries from our garden and packaged them with some little birds made in matching colours.

Phew, all done 🙂  Just need to get F to write the cards now!!


I’m still a bit all over the place at the moment, we are fast approaching half term (but wait, didn’t we just have school holidays??!!) and I have rather a lot to get done in the next few days.  We will be visiting the in-laws in Germany (ash cloud permitting) and it’s the first time the boys have flown that they will remember; so for the occasion, we’ve bought them a Trunki each so they can pack their toys and if needs be, be dragged along when they get tired.

I remember these being pitched on Dragons Den and thinking ‘what a brilliant idea’….I seem to remember the Dragons weren’t all that impressed, especially by the plastic catch which wasn’t strong enough on the prototype, oh how wrong they were.

I’ve also made myself a skirt for the trip, it only took half a day and has been made out of fabric I already had in stock.  It’s a copy of a favourite one from Jigsaw that I wore for many years and has quite an unusual cut that produces a gentle swing to the bottom.  Now, HUGE  apologies for the really awful photo but I wanted to show you the pattern pieces laid out ready to cut so you can see how they might work once sewn together

the final skirt is a really flattering fit and I have been meaning to take a pattern from the original for some time.  Inside I lined it with some liberty tana lawn in ‘wiltshire’, one of my favourite designs.

I’ve been buying new fabric; also for clothes making, whilst I’m on a roll

some lovely ‘Little Folks’ voile by Anna Maria Horner from M is for Make (in the sale so a bargain).

I’m also trying to get some samples made up for new products and for this have bought some Metro Dots in Marigold from the fabulous Saints and Pinners, one of my favourite fabric shops.  I have a very special project in mind for this and it was inspired by the Buttercups I have been sewing for new brooches for the shop.

I’ve really been enjoying stitching these, they are such a lovely sunny yellow and have been brightening up my work bench.  I just need to keep going and finish them, I’m still finding myself jumping from project to project and not being able to settle.

Finally and actually the most important part of this post is a big thank you to Justine, who surprised me with a wonderful gift in the post this week

She made me a gorgeous Hoop Travel Bag with linen and red riding hood fabric, it’s perfect and reminds me what a wonderful community there is in blogworld.  It’s most definitely coming to Germany with me, probably with some nice little hand stitching project to keep me happy.

Sorry for the slightly disjointed post, I need to focus and have a big tidy up this afternoon, the house and my workspace is quite frankly, a bit of a mess and for me it always makes me feel unsettled when this is the case so I shall be spending the rest of today putting everything away and will no doubt feel happier for it 🙂