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 🙂

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.

Falling In Love Again…

I’ve really struggled this year, even more so than normal. I have been balancing my plates quite well, keeping everything spinning (just!) and I’ve completed a lot of shop sewing as well as blinds and curtains over the summer but I’ve struggled to get things photographed and listed and blogging has pretty much ceased.DSC_0154In an effort to kick-start the process I made a point of setting days aside in half term to get the camera and tripod out and photograph things properly (as opposed to my phone and Instagram). I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself and it made me realise how much I quite like the things I make! Sounds stupid, I know, but I worry sometimes that my work isn’t hip enough and the competition for selling online is so much more intense than it was when I first started out, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.DSC_0155But I think half the battle is remembering to enjoy yourself if you make things you like, I figure the chances are someone else out there will like them too.

So my job for the next week is editing, taking more photographs (I think the good the light has gone for this year *panic* and before I’ve managed to photograph the Christmas ‘red things’ which is a bit of a disaster) and updating my site. It’s a slow process but it’ll happen and all will be well 🙂

The Little Things…

I find great comfort and enjoyment from the little things, especially when life feels out of my control and the world does feel like it’s slipping into chaos, at the moment. I live in a messy house (it has two little monsters who don’t know how to tidy very well!), I love it when it has just been cleaned and tidied, neatness and order make me feel calm, but I’m also a realist and accept life is not always neat and tidy so I settle for little snatches of order in everyday moments.DSC_0064Stacks of sharpened pencils make me happy (I’d be happier still, of this fabulous and practical sharpener didn’t ‘chew’ them in order to work….but you can’t have everything!), in this case ready for the start of school after our week long holiday.BowieI love watching the chickens when I’m working in the kitchen, I find them entertaining, they make me smile….I don’t usually allow them on the kitchen table, but Bowie was attempting to hide from the other cockerel and he just suddenly hopped up there to hang out with a nice little stack of wrapped birthday gifts, ready for Felix.DSC_0100As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I LOVE neat little piles of finished sewing work, especially things in my favourite colour combinations (of which green and pink is one).DSC_0102I quite genuinely took a few moments to line these brooches up once I’d sewn all the pompoms on…sad, I know. Just the leaves to add and then the brooch backs to attach.DSC_0099It’s all about pink and green at the moment, even the view from my studio is conveniently matching, with the shed unintentionally echoing the colours of the Eglu.DSC_0052A rose I planted on Smelly’s (the cat) grave has flowered for the first time and even that is obliging my sense of order by being all matchy-matchy.DSC_0096And my favourite moment of this morning, apart from saving a fortune on home insurance and energy bills (seriously, I just halved our energy bills by shopping around!) was managing to finish sewing the little green outfits above with *just* enough thread.DSC_0103I’m working hard, at the moment. Foxes and badgers are stitched and just need to be dressed and photographed. I have aprons (made last year but not yet listed), tweed purses, new flower brooches and some Christmas bits ready too. I didn’t get as much done in the half-term as I’d have liked, but we did have fun hanging out together and I worked quite a bit in the evenings.

Time to go make some poached eggs for lunch, yet another thing that will make me happy and the added bonus of keeping chickens!

Getting things done…

It’s hot. I’m tired. The news this week has been depressing and horrific. DSC_0007I find it quite difficult to get motivated at these times, I tend to flit from one job to another and the less I get done the more frustrated and demotivated I get and I simply don’t have time for that, basically. So, the fan has been brought out of the shed (it was 29 degrees in the studio, this morning, when I opened the door!), I have a jug of iced cucumber and mint water on the go (or I forget to drink and get quickly dehydrated), music is playing and I’m making a point of working through project boxes that have been on the go for months.DSC_0008Open projects are kept in stacked Ikea boxes and I’d like to see the pile reduced. I’m also making a point of developing designs that use up all the supplies I already have, instead of buying anything new (tweed pencil cases are on the agenda and possibly peg bags).DSC_0005Today, badgers are finally getting their noses and I’ll be getting familiar with the buttonhole maker on my new(er) Bernina later. I hate doing button holes. I must remember to never design anything that can be ruined by the button hole at the final stage, as that’s just depressing.DSC_0006Brooch backs will be next, then a big photographing session and lots of new product listings.Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 10.28.53I’ve been re-designing the website for months, so that’s my evenings sorted. I started this process so long ago and it’s far from complete but felt I just had to go with what I have so far and I’ll keep tweaking it live. I need to decide on a banner/logo/text but I’m happy with the direction it’s going in.

That’s all. Regular short posts are the way I’m heading as, like my project boxes, the possible posts just stack up and never get finished!