Giveaway – Green Apple Apron…

Thanks for all the helpful and kind comments on the last post.

I’m glad people feel that the pricing is OK on the purses, it was backed up by two flying out the day I listed them, which is always a good sign.  I hope it comes across I just wanted to open the debate on this area and to show how much work etc goes into the making, and not that I was fishing for compliments or anything.  I just know, when I read posts from other people on things such as jewellery making (which I know nothing about), I love understanding the work involved and seeing the process, it makes me appreciate the final product even more.

I am also aware that I am lucky to have some disposable income and that I enjoy buying handmade, both for myself and for gifts, and am likely to happily pay more for better quality materials and good workmanship.  Not everyone is in this position though, I do know that.  I try to pitch myself somewhere in the middle on pricing, so good quality but affordable (as a treat) and hope I get that balance right.

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As an illustration, I popped over to Sarah Culleton’s on-line shop yesterday and this beauty jumped into my shopping basket.  I love her bags and this one is no exception, it’s one of those wonderful designs that I wish I’d come up with – ha ha!  I don’t copy other people’s handmade work, even if I could, I would feel really uncomfortable doing that and think it’s important to support the designer who has come up with the idea (it’s why I get a bit irked by people pinning my work onto ‘things I’m going to copy for myself’ style titled boards, or worse ‘things to make for the next craft fair’, I’m trying to mellow on this and just not look, I do understand people probably do copy things I just don’t like it being blatant and I’d get pretty cross if I saw my designs for sale anywhere).

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It’s really beautifully made and I’m happy to pay for one…..just check out that little snail brooch detail – genius!

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Anyhow, I forgot to explain the size of the new purses in the last post, they are quite roomy and there is plenty of space for phone, keys, money and a bit of makeup.  They are bigger than the original ones and I have ordered some clip frames from Hong Kong, but to be honest, even though cheaper per unit, by the time you add postage it’s not such a big saving.

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I said goodbye to my last acorn bag as well *sniff* which I wont be making more of, but there will be more purses in general, both with clips and zips (I have other designs on the go).

OK, back to the giveaway.

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When I made the apple aprons, I did one with smaller pleats to see if it lessened the bulk, when sewing the waistband on…I had forgotten that even this small alteration would widen the apron on the whole, plus it gave it less shape, I like how the bigger pleats make the apron bounce out a bit at the front and allow for general curves from waists and hips (as above).

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So, it left me with one finished apron that’s a bit wider than the others and I thought it would make a nice giveaway.

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Just leave a comment and I’ll pick a winner in two weeks (Saturday, September the 21st).  I’ll post worldwide, just please make sure I can contact you from the comment.  Please remember I can’t reply to comments on this post as it messes up the numbers for the giveaway – oh and I nearly deleted the bit about pinning as I know how emotive this subject is, on both sides.

By the way, it’s lovely and quiet around here and I have coffee 🙂

Apple Aprons…..I Know, It Really Is a Miracle, They Are Finished!!

These have gone on forever and the honest truth is I haven’t enjoyed sewing them at some stages, my un-picker has seen a lot of action in past weeks.  In fact, I was so excited to finish the green version, that afterwards I opened a mini bottle of (cheap pretend) pink bubbly.  I wish I was joking.  On the plus side I love the end design and have put one aside for myself already.

So back in 2010 (yes, THAT long ago) I was searching for 1940’s apron images, as I was really keen to make a cross over back apron for the shop, a kind of hybrid Muji/vintage number.  I’ve made 1940 vintage aprons before, for the theatre and I really like this kind of style.  Whilst researching, I came across this image

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and felt very inspired by the apple pockets.  I also realised that a full vintage style apron was a no go, as I simply couldn’t buy the linen cheap enough (and I felt they had to be linen or a linen mix fabric) and make a profit on what people would pay for the aprons.

OK, so then I doodled lots of images and bought some cotton/linen fabric from Ada and Ina Linen ready for sewing.  Then I did nothing, for over a year, which is when I decided that apple lavender bags (to go with the aprons) would be a neat idea.

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The apple lavender bags done, I still didn’t get on with the aprons.  I had the entire design worked out and everything but lacked the time or inclination to get on with them.

So come last year, I had a big fabric sort out and it prompted a decision to make a point of using up some of the larger stacks for their intended projects (I have many on the go).  By then, I knew it was to be a half apron, so I obsessively checked out the ultimate size (for a fits all result, I did consider making two sizes, but knew it was adding lots of extra work which was very probably unnecessary)

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I washed and cut out all the linen, including the straps (I had already thought about the best making method so knew how I wanted to cut them), then using the existing apple lavender bags and dissolvable ink, I worked out how to get the best apple position and size.

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The apples were made up using linen bought especially for the job.  I went for gold stitched pips on the green ones, they don’t really stand out as well as I’d have hoped but they are OK.  By now I was becoming a bit of a whizz at close zig-zag stitching, a method I use a lot in my work.  The hard bit is getting a very close sitch but one that doesn’t bunch up, also it takes up a lot of thread!DSC_0030

I then stitched the pockets on.  This was take two, first they were stitched with a double (for security) line but quite frankly, it looked crap, so I decided to zig-zag around the edge instead.  I love how it looks finished, how it kind of hides the opening and echoes the rest of the apple stitching.  At this stage I did a ‘apple apron’ search on Etsy, to make sure no-one else was doing something too similar.  I have found, over the years, that no matter how original an idea may be, it has often been done before in some form.  Sometimes I check at the beginning of the design process, so I don’t waste my time, in other cases (like this) I make a point of not looking until I am pretty far down the line, this way my conscience is clear that I haven’t in any way been influenced by someone elses work.  It matters to me that I am as original as I can be.

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Then I did another check on the dummy, with various widths of bias-binding to see what worked best.  Annoyingly, the 25mm binding I’d bought especially for the job looked wrong, it was just too bulky (see it here on the waistband) so I had a re-think and went for 15mm, knowing it’d be a right royal pain to stitch on neatly.
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I also made the decision that no matter how tidily done, I didn’t like the backs, so I decided to cover them.

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I loved the idea of dots, to echo the apples, but as the linen/cotton canvas was already quite solid, adding a quilting cotton to it would be too much, plus I found a stack of cotton gingham from my early Linen Cat days that I no longer use, so that seemed perfect.

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There are many annoying bits in the process of sewing these.  A problem I already know about is that no matter how neatly you sew the zig-zag, however perfectly round the apples look, the process slightly stretches the fabric and when you steam it back into place, inevitably the perfect curve you stitched gets less perfect, mild angles forming in the weaker areas.  I hate this, but accept it can’t be fixed, I know from many hours of stitching cashmere bear belly patches, using every trick I can think of that it’s the price for using the tight zig-zag.  Also, I cannot exaggerate the hours I spent unpicking the binding,  as I like it to be as perfectly aligned as possible, which is quite tricky, especially when you’re using a narrower width.

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Lastly, when I have come to list them (which has taken ALL this morning) I noticed that the apron ties on the red version are 20cm longer than the green.  I couldn’t work this out for ages, then I remembered that after trying the green sample on every waist I could find, I decided the cut version could be shortened and still wrap nicely around most, fastening at the front.

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Clearly I forgot when I came to sew up the red apple ones.  Never mind, they still work well.

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What else?  Oh yes, they were a nightmare to iron.  I pre-washed the fabrics so that there is no additional shrinking but even with a damp cloth and full steam they don’t iron fantastically, the linen/cotton is almost a canvas weight and I’d suggest ironing whilst damp in future.DSC_0041

Both versions have green gingham on the reverse, as that’s what I had to use up.  The red apples has green bias binding trim and the green apples, brown.

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And they are now, finally listed here and here.  Pricing was tricky, as there really is a lot of work and a lot of material/thread etc in each so I have gone for £28.

I need to do a big studio tidy now and try to finish any other open projects so I am free to make new things.  There is a big call for badgers, I hope to find time to make those towards the end of the year, and I desperately need to re-stock cashmere bears and monster purses.  Then there’s the looming summer school holidays, but best not think about that right now 🙂

A Small Interlude…

I feel like this post should start with an image of a potter’s wheel….or maybe this one,

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as quite frankly there has been a break down in transmission.  Not sure why, I kind of stopped shop sewing when Mum became ill and I’ve never really got back into it, instead I’ve been busy in the garden and the house, trying to get this hectic home into shape.  I am sitting in the sewing room for the first time in weeks, today.

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I have popped in here every so often, mainly to continue sewing apples.  I feel like I have been working on these FOREVER.  I do hope to finish them one day, ideally soon, just so I can move onto something else guilt free.

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I’ve also been carrying a tray of flowers around with me, some sunny yellow ones and some double pinks for next Autumn.  I may finish these as well, one day….maybe.

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On the diet side, it’s a slow process but it is working and probably because I’m not sewing.  I generally do lose weight, when I don’t sit in front of my machine all day.  We (husband and I) have been talking about building a studio for me in the garden, I dream of a multi-height surface so I can sometimes stand to work, I used to do this when I had a desk job, as it helps my back and generally feels so much better than sitting all day, but in the current space I don’t have room for different height tables.  Obviously M is dreaming of a house free of sewing and shop stuff, and I can’t blame him really.

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I have also been a very lucky girl, I got a bonus (hurrah!) for being a good wife (not really, but it was courtesy of M, thank you lovely husband) and I spent it all on new clothes.  When I am a bit fed-up, I spend money, if I can afford to that is.  Not really a good thing, but it’s the truth.  I should say, I’m not nearly as depressed as I sound, I’ve  just been a bit up and down recently and sometimes I’ve felt in need of a boost.  So, obviously, from the images above, there has been a new pair of Swedish Hasbeens.  I’m lacking summer footwear that fits between walking shoes and heels, hopefully these will plug that gap.

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I also have a new shop love, Edith and Ella of Copenhagen.

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This was the top I intended to buy, but as it’s shipped here to the UK, at a cost, I added some sale items as well.  I can’t believe I just wrote that, it’s like buying the BOGOF at the supermarket and thinking, oh well, if I buy three, instead of one, it’s sooooo much cheaper…..er yes, but only if you actually NEED three in the first place, or even the one, otherwise just don’t buy any!  To be fair, the sale items  (a red sailor collar dress and a skirt) were very lovely, I wasn’t buying just for the sake of it.

DSC_0031DSC_0027 DSC_0029The quality is great, the packaging lovely, they came with free sweets (always a winner…..oh crap, the diet, OK, scrap that) and the best bit…..a free umbrella!  They must have heard about our British weather 😉  I wont be shopping there loads as it’s a bit out of my price range, although It think the sale side has lots of potential.  It was such a delightful package to open and the green top is fabulous.

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I wore it with some high-waisted, wide-legged trousers and an attempt at setting my hair (using my Mum’s old rollers, found in her attic) for a day out in London with my sister.  I’m not sure why I always look so serious when I attempt to photograph myself, I think it’s just that I’m concentrating on holding the camera so I don’t photograph the ceiling.  Still you get the idea.

Best get on, I’ve locked the credit card away for now and I need to try to finish the apple aprons, ideally some time this year 🙂