Vintage Christmas Stockings

I loath using the word ‘vintage’. Not quite sure why, I think it’s because of it’s overuse and the fact I’ve been collecting antique clothing and objects since I was a child so I slightly hate how fashionable it has become (I was so before my time *joking*). It’s also an age thing, I think, I struggle to think of 1980’s as ‘vintage’….probably as I wore the stuff first time around. Still, it’s often the only word that fits, so welcome ‘Vintage Christmas Stockings’.DSC_0098It started as an idea a couple of years ago. I had bought some vintage (I’m going to use the word with abandon now) napkins when I was buying old Christmas stuff on Ebay and I couldn’t help but think they’d make great cuffs for Christmas stockings.DSC_0100The plan was to combine them with some stash busting, specifically reducing my tweeds and a few Christmas cottons that I have. The problem is, as always, I tend to imagine the finished thing in my head and I then struggle to compromise on that vision.DSC_0104The red tweed looked too ‘dull’ so I considered some linen, also from my stash, but that felt too similar in texture to the linen cuff. I like contrasts of texture ūüôāDSC_0156I ended up buying some boucl√© wool in a crimson red. I also abandoned using the Christmas printed cotton for lining as the wool is a little stretchy and I wanted a matching stretchy lining so I opted for some nice, cosy, green brushed cotton.DSC_0208I’m not sure if it show in the photos, but I added a little shaping to the top cuff to make it kick out slightly (I like to think it’s these details that make my work my own).ChristmasStockingTeddy2Then I embarrassed myself by buying the newly arrived Christmas stuff from the local supermarket as photo props – coins, Quality Street, a Lindt Santa and some walnuts and oranges.ChristmasStockingBaubles1But I liked the photos taken with some of my vintage decorations best.ChristmasStockingsAllThe photos look really dark on here…it’s one of the problems when photographing red and at this time of year.ChristmasStocking2

You can find them in the shop and on Folksy.

 

 

 

 

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!

Nibbling…

People who step into my home might not believe I’m a fan of decluttering and neatness, I am certainly never going to be a minimalist but I am actually quite organised and I do prefer a clean and tidy space (really!).¬† I’ve been working through the house attempting to decorate and complete any unfinished jobs; the main problem is time, I just don’t have any spare and it does take time to declutter and tidy, I sometimes lose momentum when projects drag out and I find I have to action lots of little tricks I know to keep myself going. I’m not in a position to pay anyone to do the work for me and I do quite enjoy knowing I’ve done everything myself, so it’s always worth it in the end.

I’m trying to apply the same principals to The Linen Cat; if I keep nibbling away at the endless list of ‘jobs’ things will get done and each tick eases the pressure a little.DSC_0081There are a number of items on the long list and one of those is getting the website completed as I changed the layout and style a while ago but couldn’t settle on a logo and banner. I don’t have much of a clue about working in Photoshop so I do my best with the knowledge I do have and I think it works, but boy, does it take forever!

Scan 2018-1-30 13.23.57The cat idea is from ages ago but I had abandoned it as it didn’t feel right at the time. On a re-visit, I quite like it again, so I worked up the sketches and created a banner that feels good, for now.

BlackCat3The collar went as she looked like a vicar cat….but she might get a bow around her neck, at a later stage and annoyingly, the banner used in the Create templates can only be stupidly narrow so there is no room to use extra text.CatSingle8 (1)

Too many other things to do right now, including a stock take and moving some pieces into the sale section to allow any further time on this. Another issue I have is being a perfectionist and sometimes I just need to know when to step away.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 13.31.47Nibble, nibble, just keep nibbling away and it will all be OK in the end.

Rose Tattoo Purses

I have been up since seven but amazingly have only managed 930 steps so far today (it’s mid-afternoon, as I type) which is hilarious. To be fair, I didn’t put my counter on until after showering but considering I’ve done two loads of laundry, baked bread, tidied and cleaned the kitchen I am amazed at the minimal step count. The problem is that I’ve spent the rest of the time attached to my laptop editing photos, updating websites and now writing blog posts. It just shows how blooming long all this stuff takes and how horribly inactive I am whilst doing it.

Let’s get on with the post.IMG_20160427_130829Forever ago (running theme here!) I was a bit obsessed with traditional vintage style Sailor Jerry tattoos, at the time I was researching tattoo swallows for aprons (still to come, when I finally photograph them) but the style, in general, is one I really like. If you don’t know who Sailor Jerry was just google him and you’ll recognise his work straight away.

IMG_20170627_095348I figured an oversized rose, outlined in black would look really good on a purse. The block colouring style of tattoos translates really well to applique and this vision was my starting point.¬†I spent forever coming up with my own design, which is really difficult as there are so many copies (Sailor Jerry is iconic and therefore frequently imitated, especially¬†the roses and swallows). I used a real rose photo and based the shaping on that, repeatedly simplified it down and then blocked the colours in. I often work on tracing paper then I use a printer to enlarge and decrease the size until I’m happy with it.

Originally I stitched black edging (top photo, LHS) but didn’t actually like that and ended up opting for using different colours for each part of the topstitching. It kind of defeated the point of my original idea, which was for it to clearly resemble a tattoo, but things do often change as they develop.DSC_0003

After much debate, I cut the rose as a single block of fabric and not as individual petals. I’m really glad I did, it saved me a mountain of work and it makes absolutely no difference to the final design.IMG_20170912_135942Most of the fabrics are simply what I had in stock and the main body of the purse is a deep claret cotton velvet. It’s quite difficult to capture on camera, especially as I often have to lighten photos but the above image is quite accurate.IMG_20170913_082304For the lining I used some stunning fuchsia shot silk, it adds a real pop to the purses and complements the wine velvet really well.DSC_0067Gluing the frames on nearly sucked all the life out of me, as it always does, but the plus is I’m getting really good at it without getting sticky fingers. I was a good girl and just got on with it and then rewarded myself with cake (which on less than 1000 steps in half a day I should NOT be doing!).DSC_0063And they are done. And listed.HandHeldRoseTatooPurseAnd would make a wonderful Valentines gift, I think; certainly, I’d be thrilled to get something¬†similar!

Right, I now need to go and run about for a bit and earn my wine this evening.

Job done. Next?

Christmas Dove Aprons

After the success of the Winter Deer Aprons in 2013 I had planned to do a version with Santa heads, but when researching vintage Santa images I got distracted by doves and, as always, an idea got fixed in my head that I couldn’t shake.DSC_0067One of the first things I did was to¬†buy some fabric. Again, I had VERY specific plans and knew I wanted something gold and patterned, with a vintage vibe. What I didn’t know I wanted was THE most expensive silk damask available, unfortunately, I fell in love with¬†it so nothing else would do. Joel and Son supply the Queen…apparently….I’m not surprised¬†as I doubt anyone else could afford to shop there, beautiful though their fabric is.DSC_0066After getting over the shock of the fabric price (my own fault entirely, I could have gone with¬†manmade damask but it just wouldn’t have been the same as sumptuous silk), I got to work planning the placement of the dove I’d already designed. I scanned some of the fabric so I could understand how it would actually look and help see the edge stitching more accurately. I can get a bit disappointed with my head image and reality when doing applique pieces, as I tend to forget how the edge stitching will change the look of the finished item.

BTW, in a totally off-topic aside, I can highly recommend¬†the HP Instant Ink plan for anyone who spends half their life printing¬†out their kids’ homework. You pay a¬†set fee per month and they make sure you always have ink by sending it out in advance, it’s saved us loads and I no longer stress about printing colour over black and white as I pay for a set number of pages regardless of the format.DSC_0070Back to doves. I remember I’d planned to take photos of the dove at each stage of the making process, in the same position, and I clearly started out well.DSC_0071DSC_0105Before¬†I then forgot.DSC_0100DSC_0109Still, I’m quite surprised that I took so many photos as I often get too involved in the sewing to remember.¬†DSC_0108It might not appear impressive, but all that neat zigzagging¬†on the edges and wings took FOREVER and there are multiple scallop lines on the wings with various gold threads…again difficult to see in photos.DSC_0112I spent some time deciding on the bias binding colour. I was originally thinking gold but it looked a bit drab in real life and in the end I went with a dark, wine red. I also considered the second piece of mistletoe but abandoned that, too.DSC_0180At this point, I decided they needed more bling so extra sequins and beads were sewn onto the wings.DSC_0185Back shot!DoveApron5And finished dove, with mistletoe as that’s what I liked the most (I tried holly and an olive branch).DSC_0183The truth is that I completed these in December, last year, but I just didn’t get them photographed in time. Red is always hard to capture, but especially so in winter light and I am not the best photographer around.DoveApronCutOutShadowsEven then, I completely forgot to take images this summer and I have just spent a frantic day doing my best in really crappy, grey light. But, as above, it’s always amazing what you can do in Photoshop to edit the colours. Sadly, the blue/grey background above was beyond saving so I had to add a new one and a terrible fake shadow.DSC_0016And here is another example of an entire day of using the Photoshop eraser and¬†altering the colours. One of this Summer’s stunning, cunning plans was to set up specific places for taking photographs and to that end, I bought some beautiful, brass dragonfly hooks, only there isn’t enough room by the door (the only spare bit of wall!) to get a square image without the door frame being in – Doh!DoveApron15 2So more Photoshop with dodgy shadows. I need to cover or remove the black plastic parts of the hanger too….gold glitter and a glue gun??DoveApron4MORE cutouts. I had finger fatigue by the end of the day.DoveApron6But they get the images across and I could easily spend hours and hours trying to edit and photograph products; as it was this took me an entire day (including listing them in my shop and Folksy) so they will have to do.

I’m really happy with the finished aprons though, they worked out exactly as I’d imagined and I wore mine for the first time last year for all my Christmas cooking. I’ll be getting it out again on Sunday to make the pudding and will enjoy wearing it on the big day itself as I do enjoy putting on a pretty apron and pretending I’m a domestic goddess ūüôā

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.

Knapweed Flower Brooches

I think we’ve firmly established that a lot of my ideas can ferment for years before they actually happen and the recent flower brooches are no exception.thistleFollowing the success of the acorn¬†brooches I wanted to make more things that are seasonal and a bit different to my regular flower brooches, but that will happily sit alongside them. I’ve been considering thistles since 2014 when I took photos especially, whilst out walking with the boys.IMG_20160809_115354But it never quite happened until we were on a visit to Yorkshire a year later and I realised¬†it’s really knapweed that floats my boat, it grows everywhere there and I’m generally a bit obsessed by Yorkshire wildflowers so it fitted the niche exactly.IMG_20160810_135049Knapweed always makes me think of flower fairies¬†tooGreater-Knapweed-Flower-Fairy¬†and¬†Beshlie’s beautiful illustrations.KnapweedThe brooches themselves took some time, partly because I worked on them in rather a¬†stop-start¬†style, as is often my way.DSC_0007But they did evolve, slowly.DSC_0067I really like them, they have turned out exactly as I’d have wished them to be and that doesn’t always happen!IMG_20170621_093534(1)They are a bit of a nightmare to package…DSC_0020but I don’t mind.KanpweedhandAnd I think they go up there in my top favourites; they really do scream Yorkshire to me and that makes me happy.Knapweedbest 3I need to take more product photos but I think it’s important I just start getting things listed so you can find them here in my shop and soon they will be listed on Folksy too.

My next job is to try and sort out the website a bit as the images are compressed in a way that they look terrible and there is still no banner, then it’ll be back to product listing – badgers, foxes and winter aprons to come, to name but a few.