Bright Silk Christmas Mice

Quite some time ago, I made little mice for Christmas, based on a vintage pattern that I had made when I was a kid.DSC_0139They were very typical of my taste at the time and of how my Christmas tree looked.DSC_0172But as happens, my taste has changed slightly and we’ve gone a bit more gaudy these days with ‘trash tree’ and it’s odd assortment of broken plastic deer, santas and 1980’s foil decorations.IMG_20181202_170900It seemed like a great opportunity to make new mice, something I’d always planned to do, but more fitting to our ‘new’ (to us!) decorations (well I say that, quite a few came from a trash bag Mum once started in the attic and I rescued them, like the sad little hoarder I am 🙂 ).

I had an image in my mind of white linen mice (the original ones were tweed) in bright silk skirts, no boys this time and I was quite fixed on blue and orange colours with something else for the third (hot pink?), channeling a tin of Quality Street for colour inspiration or maybe my newer love, Lindt truffles.DSC_0103Then I remembered my promise not to buy new fabric when I have plenty to use up. Boring. Oh well, orange and purple is not so bad and still fitted the brief. The  orange silk is lush, it  has a gold and hot pink crossweave, I will be very sad when it is all used as you can no longer buy it.

The first two girls were looking good, I was very pleased. I swapped out the bright white linen (as it looked wrong) for some oatmeal linen and added gold ric-rac for extra bling.

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Then I realised what the little mice really reminded me off – Cinderella mice!DSC_0106And I decided a little boy was needed after all, leading to a total inability to chose what colour he would be which went on for some days (as I carried on stitching the girls).IMG_20191122_145353Until I had a little girl mouse army going on.DSC_0107Then I bit the bullet and went for pink for the boys (I tried green and blue but that didn’t look right).IMG_20191129_121756After which followed more looooonnnng days of hand sewing. These mice take a really, really long time to make. Much longer than it appears.IMG_20191129_122027But I managed to binge watch all of Stranger Things (or re-watch, actually, as I’ve seen it all once) ready for a fantastic day out at Secret Cinema whilst drinking lots of peppermint tea from my new festive mug. Wild days. I know how to live.IMG_20191129_141710The final little touches!DSC_0140 2And a day of trying to photograph, edit and list them and they are finally done – hurrah!LindtMiceBoyI bought a box of Quality Street especially for photographing them with but they looked better with Lindt  chocolates…I think it’s the round shape, it  just seemed to work better…I may have eaten a few.LindtMice6 3You can find them here.IMG_20191204_132025For packaging the mice I had bought some cupcake boxes about 5 years ago (when I made the first batch of these!) and I decided to go ahead and use them, depsite the plastic I would never buy these days. I feel terribly guilty, the same way I do when using bags for flower brooches or sending things in jiffy packaging, but these things were bought in bulk in the early days of The Linen Cat (I have been selling and making since 2009 now) and I will use up the plastic I already have but won’t buy more. The alternative is to throw it away and that seems more wasteful.IMG_20191204_133913

Right, back to sewing something less jolly, probably back to the black spider purses as I’d like to get them finished too 🙂 I’m on a roll – ha ha!

Random thing  but my laptop is stuck on often doing two spaces….I think I might have got some food crumbs under the keyboard, that’ll teach me to show more respect. It’s driving me nuts, though!

Vampire Purses (again!)

This will be the third outing for the Vampire Purses and they have evolved a bit.DSC_0093The originals were made as a big Halloween themed bunch of designs back in 2014 (see here for the post about them – wow, even I can’t believe that was back in 2014!).DSC_0062The applique pieces came already beaded and were  slightly 3D in style; the whole purse was based on Victorian mourning dress, specifically inspired by an antique dress I own.DSC_0170By the time I made the second batch in 2015 I couldn’t get the same applique, so I bought a new design and beaded them myself (this made sense as I had to double stitch the beading on all of the first ones anyway, I was paranoid they might come off otherwise).DSC_0175I was always a bit sad that they had an orange red lining as in my mind they needed blood red, hence the ‘Vampire’ purse name, but I had quite a bit of the silk to use up. I still love them though and I kept one for myself, it is by far the most used item from the shop.IMG_20191015_132514This time, I got to indulge in my need for that blood red lining.IMG_20191016_142943Yum. I love it!…..I may need to keep another for myself.IMG_20191026_132848Gluing in the frames nearly killed me – I’d forgotten how much I hate that job.DSC_0072But they are done and are listed here.DSC_0091Gosh, they went quickly! Some have already sold as I was writing this post.IMG_20191008_113812Another re-make but one that’s always popular are the red rose brooches,IMG_20191008_125102they are back too.DSC_0204The witch mice from the original Halloween makes never sold well 😦 and the last couple have gone into the sale section. Makes me a bit sad as so much work went into them but I also understand why they missed the mark. I love them, but then I have slightly quirky taste.DSC_0231There’s a single vampire boy left too.IMG_20191027_111722Whilst I’m in the mood, I’ve started on new spider purses for next year. I’m just re-drafting the pattern and annoyingly I will need to polish up the acrylic bodies of the spiders as they’ve turned up a bit scratched, which just won’t do.

Right, off to cook Sunday lunch, happy weekend everyone!

Giveaway: Linen Rabbit Egg Cosy

It always amazes me how quickly things move on from Christmas. I LOVE Christmas, but come to New Year’s Day and I’m ridiculously keen to get the decorations down.img_20190109_121612Like half of the World, I am currently drinking only water, eating lettuce (in an attempt to undo the festive excesses) and dreaming of Spring.dsc_0323It’s the same with my sewing work, I’m all for flowers and bright, sunny colours, I’m done with Winter tones.dsc_0324Despite being away, I squeezed in some sewing over the holidays. The floral cushion was a little something for me, it took such a short time and I’ve had both the cushion pad and the tapestry hanging around for months and months waiting. I do find it difficult to carve out any time for sewing for myself.dsc_0326I also managed to run up a batch of new Linen Rabbit Egg Cosies, because…img_20190109_121136ta-da! I made Country Living again. Can’t lie, chuffed to bits.dsc_0334I did make more of the ones featured, with the woodland print ears, but I still had the Liberty Tana  Lawn out from my Fox and Badger making laying on my worktop and I couldn’t resist making some with ‘Mirabelle’ ears too.img_20190109_130012I also remembered that I have one of the very original rabbits left from years ago, with the first ears (I ‘improved’ the design with the second batch as it bugged me that it was so difficult to make the ears neat and symmetrical) so he’s here for giving away to anyone that comments on this post. I guess I’ll randomly pick a name on the 26th January.dsc_0344I’m not sure if I’ll make more, even with the newer ears they are a bu*%er to stitch evenly and the linen I use is also a nightmare to iron, but I can imagine lots more Liberty Tana versions in my head and once I get a plan I find it difficult to ignore. We’ll see.

 

 

Foxes, badgers and MORE foxes…

I know there were supposed to be more Christmas things coming, but I got distracted by foxes and badgers, I’m afraid (sorry to anyone who was waiting).BetsyPinkFox2I sold out of all ‘Woodland Animals’ after the Badgers were in Country Living so it seemed right to make more. It was originally an experiment in how long it takes to make them (let’s just put it this way, I am earning waaaaayyyyy below minimum wage) but I just kept going with new colour versions, as they were selling as quickly I could list them.PinkFoxTwinsFirst, there were some pink ‘Betsy’ boys. I’m not sure why I’ve never made pink fox suits before, it seems like a winner and they flew straight out of the shop.DSC_02791Then, after Saffa asked on Instagram if I might be making some girls I thought I would, so I made some pink caped lady foxes only I went with ‘Mirabelle’ as the print instead of Betsy. I LOVE Mirabelle, it’s one of my favourite Liberty lawns, there’s something about the strawberries and flowers on the white background that really works for me.MrsFoxPinkMirabelleI haven’t made girls for ages and it was quite good fun. They have red ric-rac sandwiched between the hem and I used some crochet flowers I already had rather than making new ones with my Hana flower maker. One flew straight off to the Netherlands!MrFoxBrightBlueNext, came a batch of bright blue boys. MrFoxBrightBlue2All the linen is offcuts from apron making and it felt really good to finally use it up. I have a habit of keeping all of my trimmings (in this case, quite big bits of trimmings, so well worth keeping!) but I can go a bit overboard with my reluctance to throw things away. The tweed wool for the bodies was also the final length and I (forced myself to) throw the scrap bag of leftovers from this once I’d finished my last fox. They really were little bits that were too small for even fox ears so it felt quite good to finally say goodbye to the bag which has sat in my scrap drawer for years now.

BadgersThere was a little badger interlude here as I’d had quite a few emails asking if I’d make more so I did one last batch of those.IMG_20181204_140320One of the reasons I made new foxes over badgers or wolves is so I didn’t have to make the brooches. It isn’t that I don’t like them, in fact, I think they finish the animals’ suits off in style, it’s simply that they take a really long time to make (they take the same time as a full-sized flower brooch) and I don’t really charge much extra, so it really is a labour of love.DSC_0318There was one exception. A lovely lady has bought a lot of the Woodland Animals asked if I could make a red fox in mustard. I pretty much never make to order as my life can get a little stressed and I hate the idea of letting anyone down so I decided years ago to always say no, but as I was making badgers in mustard anyway I figured I would make an exception (and I was happy to do so, I should add!)MrFoxMustardMr Mustard Fox got a special Liberty Betsy cravat in a colourway I imported from Japan. I only have a short length of it but it was perfect with the yellow linen. I then made a matching green auricula brooch. I have to say, I was really pleased with him….it’s a bit of a shame the weather was so crappy and dark so I couldn’t get a decent photo but he’s gone off to his new home.

Most of the foxes and badgers are gone now, I think there is a pink girl left and a blue boy, but that is all. I need a break from them now and I don’t plan to make more, certainly not in the near future but then I said that in my last post so never say never!

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In a feeble attempt to kick my social media mojo back into action I have finally started a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thelinencat. I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep it up, I think I just want to see what works best and I’ve not tried FB yet so you never know, it might be a winner! Time will tell 🙂

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 🙂DSC_0156I ended up buying some bouclé 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.