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.

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 🙂

Glyndebourne 2017: La Traviata AND Don Pasquale

This year I was spoilt rotten and got to go to Glyndebourne twice!

For those who read this blog often, you’ll know it’s a big treat for me to go to Glyndebourne and I enjoy everything about it; the opera, the costumes and sets, the food and the dressing up. I was trying to describe it to a friend and it came across as just posh…which I guess it kind of is…but I tend to think of it as being more eccentric and very, very ‘British’. Not everyone brings a picnic or dresses up, but most people do and I relish the chance to wear ridiculous clothes I couldn’t really put on for anything else.IMG_20170801_100908As always the eyelashes come out. I have a small collection of these now, all from Paperself.IMG_20170801_095435I wore the birds, again. These have been on the go for years now, partly as I chop down the full lashes into sections and also because they can be removed and re-worn a number of times. They have stood up to this amazingly well, considering they are made from paper.IMG_20170801_103628Even just the small section produces quite loud lashes (I put them on early and generally before the rest of my makeup as for the first hour, I feel like there is a butterfly/spider on my eye! After a while I forget I’m wearing them).IMG_20170801_121551And I wore these! God I love these shoes. They were on my wish list last Christmas and I was super lucky that my sister bought them for me. They are definitely not for everyone, but I like them and couldn’t really give a stuff if other people do or not, people are generally polite enough to hold their comments back and just pull incredulous faces, which I can accept. They are from Irregular Choice, who are famed for their slightly bonkers heels (and they have a sale on, as I type).IMG_20170801_125420I figured the loud heels were the star so wore a nice, plain, black wiggle dress. Cue grumpy photo….I really don’t like having my photo taken, even when it’s me doing it so sorry I always look like I’ve got the hump.IMG_20170801_121706Finally, the bag, in this case one of my two Sarah Culleton clutches. I love this too, especially with its little vintage brooch, Sarah adds one to each bag she makes and I really do think it’s the finishing touch.sdzcitild0majm0qp3b6This first outing was to see La Traviata, which was (as you’d expect from Glyndebourne) both beautiful to look at and amazing to listen to.o31xu4kxjgoqdt2dbalaFor trip two (which was in the same week…I know, I am so spoilt)IMG_20170805_120812I wore a beautiful dress my Sister gave to me.IMG_20170805_120922 2with matching stockings! I get excited about matching stockings; sad, I know. What Katie Did have plenty to choose from and their new coloured seam stockings have even deeper welts which are much comfier if you have *ahem* rounded thighs, as I do.IMG_20170805_120600For both trips, I set my hair overnight in pin curls. I’m getting better at the brush out and sleeping in pin curls is much easier these days. It does damage my hair, though, so it’s only something I do for special occasions. It’s a shame I didn’t get a photo of the back as I managed a proper Rita Heyworth wave, which I was rather pleased with.IMG_20170805_144215For the first trip, I was with the usual group of ladies, and we ate in the restaurant as the weather was initially set to be a bit grim. Annoyingly it turned out rather sunny and although the food was delicious, it felt as though something was missing by not enjoying a picnic in the beautiful gardens, so for the second visit (just me and my Sister) we brought out own food…and a table…and chairs…plus candles and flowers…you just have to, it’s part of the fun even if you do look a chump carrying it all across the grass in your high heels. We were quite jealous of the group who had set up a table next to us and had brought a candelabra!IMG_20170805_163910~2It was lucky we had one eye on the weather and a waterproof picnic rug to cover our table and food as just before the performance a brief storm hit. It was quite dramatic seeing everyone run for cover in their finery, packing up as much as they could carry as the thunder rumbled above and the heavens opened. The sun was back by the long interval, so all was well.tzxtj5hq2wuitfnvvbcdThis second outing was to see Don Pasquale, oh what a treat!uhe4z2w8ft82emtgioblThe rotating set was very, very clever, the costumes were fabulous and mixed with the comic story and beautiful performances was a real winner, for me. wtpvyd1bxqdp8garw5urI’ve never been disappointed by anything I’ve seen at Glyndebourne, but this was one of my favourites.ueocl429opj8x2giskqvWhat will it be next year? If I get invited next year (fingers and toes crossed)….I think the swan shoes need a few more outings yet 🙂

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!

Secret Cinema: Moulin Rouge

Oh it was good. So, so good. The big problem is you aren’t allowed to blab (which I totally approve of, I should add!) so I can’t go into much detail but the Secret Cinemas staging of Moulin Rouge was equally as good as the Star Wars event I attended in 2015 (see here).

DSC_0004As a re-cap for anyone not familiar with Secret Cinema, they stage interactive events based around a movie, where the audience come purposefully dressed and mingle in immaculately detailed recreated sets amongst actors, dancers, singers etc so the lines very much blur as to who is the audience and who is part of the production. You then eventually sit down and all watch the movie together, again in an amazing space with actors recreating scenes alongside. DSC_0006Some Secret Cinema events are known as ‘Tell No One’ events and for these you don’t know the movie in advance, although you can usually work it out from the clues. The Moulin Rouge event was one of their ‘Presents’ events which are large-scale numbers, where you know exactly what you’re going to see (past ones have included Dirty Dancing, Casablanca and The Lost Boys, amongst others – check out their site for a glimpse of how amazing they were!). After you buy tickets (be quick, all the best dates are gone in moments) you will get an email with some details on the event and you will also be assigned a character and dress code.DSC_0002You don’t have to worry too much about this, in all honesty. You will feel stupid if you turn up having made no effort at all, but if you choose to dress as someone else from the movie no-one will say anything. My sister and I were both ‘celebrities’ and the dress code was white, period costumes. I am incredibly lucky to own quite a lot of antique clothing so I managed to cobble together an outfit mainly from my stash. The skirts I wore were given to me and are very precious so I did worry a bit about wearing them, but they are in such amazing condition and I am generally very careful so I just went with it (I couldn’t decide on shoes in the above photo!).DSC_0015Again, I raided my cupboards for accessories (suggestions of which are also listed with your character details). You can buy everything you need from the pop up online shop if you don’t happen to have a hoard of antique clothing lying around!IMG_20170429_123742Nice photo of me looking moody….I can never take decent photos of myself, sorry. Oh and the ‘hands free’ bag was genius, of I say so myself, as you need your hands free for the glass of champagne you’ll be holding, when there 🙂IMG_20170429_125211~2You get some props listed along with your character and these might come in useful for bartering or gaining access to hidden areas (signed photos, in our case, with me on the right with my face stuck on some burlesque naughty photo….we were both ‘actresses’ to be precise. Clearly these are dodgy 5 minute Photoshop jobs but they were good enough). I quite enjoyed making these as well as getting my costume together….never say I wasted my degree – ha ha.IMG_20170429_164036The event itself was amazing. I can’t say much as the whole point is it stays secret, phones and cameras are not allowed and will be zipped up on arrival in plastic bags.

My top tips? Arrive early, there is a lot to see and do before you watch the movie (you will be required to choose an arrival slot when buying tickets). There is a lot of food and drink available, usually themed to the movie (amazing cocktails), but at London prices so bear that in mind, also you can only use credit/debit cards once inside. Don’t panic that you’ll be expected to ‘perform’ in any way, you can join in as much or as little as you like, but certainly learn your character name and your individual ‘story’ and ideally some of the songs you’re given as you’ll wish you had when everyone else is singing. When we saw Star Wars we did a lot of the interactive bits but this time we mostly sat at a little cafe table with a bottle of champagne and people watched…it’s incredibly difficult in some cases to work out who is an actor and who is the audience! Anything else….oh some people moan about the ticket prices, which are usually tiered (we went for mid price so we could sit down for the movie, because we are old and quite frankly knew we’d appreciate a seat, but the Children of the Underworld who were standing below clearly had a fabulous time!), I think the experience is worth every penny.

Go, if you can, you’ll love it!

 

Merry Christmas

Well, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be, and I’m about to log off, relax and enjoy an afternoon glass of wine with (hopefully) some crap Christmas telly.dsc_0206I did finish some of the new aprons, but there wasn’t a chance to photograph them (red is very difficult in good light, but in winter, almost impossible). I’m happy to have the ‘reject’ one to keep and wear on Sunday (I always keep the one I am least happy with), the rest will be for next year now.dsc_0002I bought an extremely cheap box of tat from Ebay…dsc_0004to use with some tree rejects (the things that weren’t strung etc) to make a wreath. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I love it. It only took about 20 mins to make and then a painful hour to fix to the door!dsc_0007It’s on just in time for the weather to turn nasty, as the remains of Storm Barbara head our way. The door has a small overhead porch so I’m hoping it survives alright, but as pretty much everything on there is plastic, it should be OK.freddieSo that’s it. I’m quite excited about not leaving the house for a few days and for the first time in forever, we genuinely don’t have anything planned for almost a week (we do have guests, here and there, but I have a stocked freezer and cupboards, ready). I’m thankful we’re all healthy and happy and together for Christmas so I hope for the same for everyone I know.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 20017.

West Elm Wonderfulness

I’m writing this very early, whilst sitting in bed and drinking coffee, because the very rare occurrence of the boys being away for the weekend means that I can – hurrah! (Sods law I still woke at the crack of dawn, though)dsc_0196I’ve spent a lot of time recently trying to work out the best way for me to balance making a living, with looking after the boys. My oldest finally has his official diagnosis and Charlie will (hopefully) be getting his in the coming year. Having children ‘on the spectrum’ means I am quite restricted in the hours I can work, especially with being a single parent, and having gone through a quite difficult transition into Secondary with Felix it just demonstrates to me how dependant the boys will be during certain periods of their lives. So, it really does have to be working from home (for the moment, anyway) as that offers the flexibility I need, and it has to be sewing, as I’ve already invested so much time into establishing a ‘business’, plus it’s the only thing I really know how to do. The difficulty is it’s getting increasingly hard to compete with commercially made items, especially now that ‘vintage’ (sorry, there are lots of quotation marks today…..always makes me thing of Ross in Friends and I cringe slightly that I use them so often!) is so mainstream, and handmade (resisted the urge to stick quotation marks there) is also so fashionable. I’m not complaining, I love how much lovely stuff you can buy these days, I just need to take some time out properly in January and plan how best to present my work to either differentiate it from commercially made things, or to compete on price. I see beautiful pieces of work on a daily basis where I think about the price versus how much I would have to charge for something similar in order to make it scale. Tricky, but doable. I have faith in me 🙂

So, in a slightly tenuous link to above, I’m bringing you some eye candy that you will thank me for.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-06-59-33Every year, I buy the boys some form of decoration critter that goes in their stocking, usually it comes from Anthropologie (See the top photo for this year’s bits and pieces) but as I was reading Facebook this morning, the cutest thing popped up in my targeted adverts from West Elm UK. screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-06-59-18Clearly I’ve shopped there before, for their link to appear in my social media, but I haven’t had a look for ages and I got sucked into a good browse this morning.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-08-08-24I love the collaborations with artists pieces and this year, I’m really excited to see they’re working with Erika Barratt again (I write again, but to be honest I didn’t know they’d worked with her before until I did some research). How cute are these little ornaments? They are in the sale at the moment on the UK site (sold out in the US, I think).screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-02-15They also have Mimi Kirchner owls!!! screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-06-13Sooooo cute.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-05-22I was a bit gutted to miss out on a Doug the Pug from the ASPCA Animal ornaments (F would have LOVED one of those!)screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-00-31but I did get a couple of Brimley Cats, which the boys will be very exited about (in case you don’t have internet crazy kids, this collection is inspired by famous internet pets).screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-08-23-29On the US site you can even get tea towels!screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-01-39If the above don’t work for you, what about some Fair Trade handmade ornaments?screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-03-01or (and this is probably more my kind of thing, at the moment) some sequin clip-on birds?screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-08-29-57They have quite a few pretty Christmas bits, much at half price right now, so it is worth popping over for a look.

It’s interesting as having put this post together, I realise that at full price many of the little ornaments are actually more expensive than mine, relatively, so perhaps I do need to be more brave with my pricing? One to think on, anyway.dsc_0193We’ve gone for retro tack again this year, our favourite thing being the foil flowers Mum took off some crackers in the 1980’s. You don’t have to try hard to work out who I get my hoarding tendencies from, I mean, who keeps tacky cracker decorations for 30 years!!dsc_0203My plan for today is to wrap gifts, write cards, and it was to photograph a new Christmas apron for the shop, but the light is so bad I don’t think that’s going to be possible…dsc_0187I might even find time to watch Elf and eat a mince pie 🙂