Where did they go…?

When I came to pack up the Bunny Lavender Bags photographed the last post (thank’s Kirsten!) I was surprised their storage box looked like this

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where did they all go?  Well I guess that’s a daft question, I’ve sold them all except the last lonely three left, of which I plan to keep one as a sample.

When I originally made them, my husband was not keen, he really didn’t like them so much so that I gave them a low price and then they went in the sale with a really, really low price.  They then turned out to be one of my best sellers which just proves my husband knows nothing about these things and I should trust my instinct.

A little trip down iPhoto memory lane reminds me I had a nightmare marking out the patterns

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and that the originals were to have button tails and were to come in four colour ways

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but my finished Bunnies were most definitely cute enough

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so much so that I will miss them and plan to make more after a Bunny break, probably next year now and most definitely in time for Easter (yes, yes I am always thinking ahead for the shop, sorry), but for now there are two green ones left on Folksy ready to hop away and when they’re gone, they’re gone!…well ’till next year anyway.

Blackbird singing…

First, I have to share this little gem.  Among the ‘Top Searches’ on my dashboard that bring people to this blog are ‘I will walk 500 miles cbbc space pirates’ which I guess brings them to my post The boys are back in town... where I talk about The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (they soooo rock!) and also ‘rubber knickers’!!!?!!,  sorry for the over use of punctuation but I have no idea where I have ever mentioned knickers in post, let alone rubber ones.  Bet they were a bit disappointed to find themselves at a crafty blog.

Thank you for all your kind words with regards to F starting school and messages wishing me luck with the builders.  We are getting into the swing of the new school run (half days for now, increasing to full days soon) and there is the lovely sound of constant drilling as the builders remove the old ragstone to make way for a new door but I like them, we chose well.  As a result sewing has been very slow and it has taken longer than anticipated to get the new birds finished but at last they are done (please excuse the dodgy photos but the light hasn’t been great recently).

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I already know the Backbirds will be hard to sell.  A few years ago Habitat themed their Christmas with a cross between Hanzel and Gretel meets Russian Folk, I was in heaven, it was right up my street and some of my favourite decorations are from that year.  The Blackbird has a similar tone with it’s My Folklore in black by Lecien body (which I bought from Fabric Rehab), although I am not sure it will be for everyone.  I searched quite hard for heather purple and dark green print fabrics for the new birds, but couldn’t find anything right so feel a little that I ‘settled’ for the colours used although I am very happy with the new ribbon tails (the Spring Birds had felt and ric-rac).

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I have to now hope for good light over the next few days so as to photo of all of the new stock and update the shop which is well over due, fingers crossed!

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The Early Bird…or in this case Owl…

I am home alone (again) and the boys were up early today – 4.55 am!  I know in my heart anytime after 5am it’s best to get up and get on but today I tried to go back to sleep.  I had to bring Mr C upstairs to the big bed where F was already lounging after coming up the middle of the night, I tried stern Mummy voice, “back to sleep boys!” and of course they wriggled and giggled and them jumped all over the bed.  I lay there wondering if I should buy an old CoffeeMaid (can you still get those?? better still, is there a ‘full-english-breakfast-maid’?) for future early mornings then I dragged my tired butt into the bathroom and got on with it.

The good thing about all these early mornings is how much work I am getting done, it adds an extra few hours to the day, after a coffee and with the aid of cbeebies I can sew guilt free until it warms up enough to open the doors and head outside with the boys.

I have noticed on Google Analytics (which I have set up on the shop pages) that the biggest search hit bringing people to the shop is ‘Lavender Bags’, more importantly I am on the first search page (Google UK search that is not the whole world, I am not up for world domination yet! – I just checked and I am back down to second page but it’s still fantastic) so for the purpose of keeping up stock levels, for the past couple of days I have been sewing new owl lavender bags.  I took a few ‘in progress’ photos and here they are:

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It’s been a while since I made these, first I had to cut new patterns (the old were the originals on paper scraps, they are now in brown paper and fully marked up) then I cut out all the pieces needed.  I find a production line method works best for me, it took the best part of a day (whilst on Mummy duty and with a walk in the woods etc) to get these cut out.

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At this stage I was thinking I’d forgotten how long they take to make, stitching the eyes on drives me a bit nuts after a while.  As you can see feet, ribbon etc are stitched into place before putting the backs on, I find this a lot easier then trying to get them straight whilst stitching both sides together and it ruins the final owl if the ribbon doesn’t hang correctly.  After taking this photo I changed the back fabric to a plain pistachio green cotton which works much better than the gingham planned.

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This is my favourite bit, turning them out and having a neat little stack of owls.  I store them like this, stuffing with lavender to order (or in small batches) so as to keep the lavender fresh.

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The linen on the candy striped owl (which is about to hang on my kitchen wall units I like it that much) is vintage linen which was a set of curtains from the 60’s bought by my Gran and is in amazingly good condition.

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The back of the blue stripe owl is in lovely funky floral fabric which is the perfect finishing touch.

Right, I am in need of another coffee in order to keep going as I am starting to feel the lack of sleep now:)

Stuffing stuff…

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The production line has been rolling and I have been busy stuffing stuff!  I always think there is a comical cartoon look about flat softies, they sort of look like they have been run over, I like bringing them to life with a bit of filler it makes all the hard work worth while.

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So after a minor bit of tweaking the first Little Bears are finished.  They were really nice to make as the cashmere blend is very soft to work with.  I’m not sure if it’s just me but I get really sensitive fingers if I work a lot with rough or synthetic fibers, the polyester stuffing is a killer so I tend to break up that job, it’s OK at first but after a while it kind of makes my teeth go on edge and my fingers really uncomfortable, it’s always been the case and is why I favour natural fabrics…could just be me?!

Anyhow,  ‘Teddy’ became a Bear, not sure why but once made ‘Little Bear’ seemed better then ‘Little Ted’.  The original sample passed the wash test with flying colours (gentle hand wash, spin and line dry but I think it will probably survive a machine wool wash, will try this next) so I am very happy to have added them to my shop where they fill a nice spot of affordable present for younger children.

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How cute is that!

Something old, something new…

I mentioned in a past post about owning a lot of lovely sewing things that I inherited from my Gran, in fact, most of my ‘things’ came from my Gran, she was a hoarder and provided my early collections of vintage clothing etc.  The photo I use in my About Me page is at her house dressing up in some of this vintage stash,  below is the full shot including my sister (on the right), the length of skirts always amazes me I virtually have my knickers on show!

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Anyhow, I digress.  So I finally made a start on updating and copying some of these lovely objects starting with the silks roll.  The original serves it’s purpose well but is full of old silks and I prefer to leave them as they are

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so here is the updated version

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I love cow parsley, I grow the florists version (Ammi Major) in my cutting patch and wake every morning to blinds printed in ‘Putkinotko’, which is a 1957 design by Maija Isola for Marimekko.

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so I have been planning to use the outline for a while, I was thinking cushions but decided to downscale and use beads for the flowers.

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As you can see, there are still improvements to be made, the linen, although a great weight is the wrong colour for the bead embroidery which you can barely see, but it’s a start.  The long term plan is to add a section to the shop selling sewing accessories, mostly replicas of my Gran’s things, but I am in no hurry I have plenty to be getting on with at the moment and I know that Christmas will come crashing in no matter how far ahead I plan.  The C word again, and in August!  hush up lady 😉

Is it a giant cushion? Is it a duvet storage bag?…

The clue is in the title.

We have too much stuff and a 2/3 finished house.  After over a year living without builders we are finally getting quotes to get the old extension on the back of our house changed into a hallway.  This will transform how we live as it will involve a new entrance, a nice straight staircase so we can get all our furniture upstairs (a lot of which is over filling our living room), underfloor heating and a wooden floor in our living space which is at the moment a concrete floor covered by some very cheap lino.  I have mixed feelings, I have enjoyed a year builder free and they will have to knock a large hole in the side of the house so it will be very invasive and dusty, but I am very excited about putting all the boxes away and being able to add the finishing touches.  It makes me look at the existing space with fresh eyes and I suddenly feel the need to get things a bit better organised.

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As part of our ‘too much stuff’ we have a vast collection of duvets and a small but beautiful collection of vintage Eiderdowns that came from my Gran that I refuse to part with.  They take up a large amount of space in the overstuffed linen cupboard, and so, I present to you the giant-floor-cushion-stuffed-with-a-folded-duvet, two in fact appliqued with each of the boys initials.  They were quite quick to make (less than a day each whilst also on Mum duty) and F has been dragging his around for the past couple of days as happy as a pig in muck.  They are very squishy but fluff instantly back into shape when picked up and simply ‘dropped’ on the floor and the linen works well, it’s pre-washed for shrinkage so should be OK in the machine and as it’s quite a heavy soft linen it looks smart even after being dragged up and down the stairs by a 4yr old.

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Even hubby was impressed and it means he can’t put pressure on me to reduce my eiderdown collection – hurray!  As a final photo, I wasn’t sure the scale of the floor cushions really shows so here is one with an egg cosy on it – see, they are pretty big.

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And yet MORE lovely things…

A new Orla Kiely bag arrived in the post today.  For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that not long ago I got a lovely new Orla K bag for my Birthday and may wonder why I need another (apart from a girl never having too many bags of course).  Do I have shares in Orla K?  Am I getting commission?  No, this

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happened to my last new bag, a slight accident involving a hob (which I thought was an induction hob) a smallish kitchen and a 2 yr old whilst we were on holiday in Germany a while ago.  I nearly cried but I was happy we hadn’t burnt the flat down.  So, hubby, who spotted the burning rubber smell broke the news to me with ‘you will be upset but don’t worry you can have a new one ‘ and I have been waiting in the hope they would re-stock the original bag I chose.  They haven’t so I have bought:

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instead and as it was in the SALE I snook in a new purse as well.  I know I bang on about Orla K and her things are quite pricey but I do highly recommend her Big Zip wallets, my old one was the first thing I ever bought, many years ago and has lasted me well, in fact most of the ladies in my family use them now so they must be good.  Also, I think I have never mentioned it before but Tinsmith sell Orla Kiely fabric, mainly oilcloth but great for covering tables and if you fancy making your own bag.

The stack of fabric in the photo is for a project I started today which I hope to complete by the end of the week, so far it looks like this:

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Right, off to cook tuna steak for tea.

Linen, Silk and Sweet Peas…

I have had a week of sewing and have got right back into swing.  It feels good, I was missing that great feeling when you make something new, choosing the fabrics, cutting the patterns and then seeing the finished piece.

So, of the many new things in the pipeline, here are Sweet Pea Linen Cushions, finally finished (well the first few anyhow).  I will be putting the purple and dark pink into The Linen Cat online shop and Folksy, the pale pink was a special request order for my Aunt.  

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The new cushions are a good example of my design process.  Some things are spontaneous and evolve from new fabrics and a bit of a ‘play’ but others are more traditional in their conception.  I had already made linen cushions based on Winter Berries and Magnolias (the Winter Berries cushion is available on Folksy in orange and is also being made in tweed.  Both will soon appear on The Linen Cat Online).  I knew I wanted to expand the range so I had been thinking about new designs.  My inspiration comes from the things around me, in this case my own garden where I grow sweet pea Matucana over the arches on my vegetable patch, it has lovely bi-colour flowers and for most of June and July I permanently have a bunch in the kitchen.  I had also recently ordered some lovely silk for making Christmas products that just happened to be in similar colours to the sweet peas.

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First I took photos and did some very quick sketches to get an idea of the shape.  The sketches are to tone down the detail and create bold simple shapes, I would happily get over excited and make a very complicated appliqued version of sweet peas, but this would be more like a piece of textile artwork and not something I could reproduce for re-sale.  It’s just not my style for the shop pieces, I like simple bold shapes that suggest their original source but have a slightly abstract feel.  I then work up a pattern on brown paper (my pattern paper of choice.  I was taught to use brown paper as a student and I have used it ever since).  Quite often I have an image in my head of how I see the finished piece so I work towards this, if I am unsure I will make up one sample or even a toile in calico with the details drawn on in pencil, but in this case I was happy with my pattern so went straight into making them up.

I am really like the new cushions, I love the mix of linen with small splashes of bright silk and it’s a lovely way to remember the sweet peas which are sadly coming to an end in the garden.

I’m melting…

I feel like the witch in Wizard of Oz, only it’s the heat not water making me melt.  Me and half the country I believe, except those in the Yorkshire Dales, where I am informed it is raining (today at least).  I’m jealous as I can’t motivate myself to sew in this weather (if the truth be known I can’t motivate myself to do a lot really) and the poor garden is so dry I have to put extra effort into keeping the vegetable patch watered but I am leaving the rest to wilt.  To add to this we have just been away for a week and have come back to lots of ripe fruit in the garden so I have been busy making jam and jelly – yes, in this heat!!!

Anyhow, enough typical Brit moaning about the weather.  The studio/spare room is a general 28 degrees so I am just keeping the door shut and have abandoned working there for now.  That’s the price you pay for an entire wall of glass – fantastic light but during the rare heat waves, not the nicest place to be.  That means sewing is confined to the kitchen (again) and a nice juggling act of moving things around to make space throughout the day.

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This is where I work in the kitchen (the photo is from earlier this year hence the empty garden in the background and nice Amaryllis), one great benefit is I have learned to sew well at the machine standing up.  It’s great for the legs and I avoid back ache which I get if sitting at the machine for long periods.  

I have lots of ideas buzzing in my head but I am failing to get them made up into samples, instead I have been buying fabric!  Nothing like a bit of shopping therapy to get my enthusiasm going.  My fabric of choice is a cashmere and wool mix in pale camel, the kind of fabric you can’t pass without giving it a quick stroke (or that could just be me?!).  I would take a photo but I think it’s a bit boring.  I am thinking a new bunny/cat/alien/mouse/teddy…something for babies all soft and cuddly, but if it’s for a baby it has to washable so may have to think on it…more importantly, I am trying to get away from mainly being known for children’s toys, it wasn’t ever my intention and although my first love are the linen cats/bunnies I also enjoy making other things hence the new cushions (and many more things in the production line, if the heat goes down that is).

Halt everything.  I felt bad writing the above and the next day got my act into gear, got the sketch book and sewing kit out and got back on to work.  I had started work on some more linen cushions before going on holiday, based on sweet peas as they look so lovely in the garden and so I have decided to get the sketches worked up into samples.  I am making them for both my Mother and Aunt (who like the designs and have pre-ordered)…better make sure they meet top standards.  At this stage they look like this:

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Better get back to work or they will never be finished. I’ll post a photo once complete and now I am back into work mode there are a lot of other designs being made up so there should be a lots of nice posts to come.

It’s Raining…and I love it!

I know most people hate rainy weather but I love being tucked up indoors watching it rain and what a great excuse to stay inside and sew instead of work in the garden?  The best thing at this time of year is how green everything is.  We (the boys and I) went for a walk yesterday in our local woods, which have sprung into life with bluebells, anemones and milkmaids (the flower obviously, not a bunch of ladies carrying pails of milk) and there was a lovely fresh green just after rain smell.  I like rain so much I even like walking in it, my husband would say this is because I am from Yorkshire, where as he points out when we visit, it is always raining (which is not true, but it does rain quite a lot).

Anyhow, considering Felix is off pre-school for Easter I am surprised I have had a chance to sew but I have been working on new products for the shop for a homeware collection.  The ideas have been in my head (and sketch book) for a while but I have finally made a start on samples, beginning with some cushions.

I recently bought some lovely new linen and wanted to put this to use so I have decided on appliqued cushions, one based on Winter Berries and the other on Magnolia Flowers.  There is a lot of room for improvement, I think I will keep the Magnolia cushion in creams and whites for the flowers, which need to be bigger and the piping cord should be in a colour (I was going to use the printed cottons as a contrast but didn’t want to waste it cutting it on the bias so I will use cord covered bias binding instead, on the samples I used the linen).  I love the slightly retro feel that linen and the colour orange have so I love the Winter Berries.  I will also make them in reds and tweeds I think.  Anyhow, I am pleased with the first run and they will make nice additions to the living room and eventually to the shop.

I have also been making cushions for my sister from some Harris Tweed she brought back from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  I am a bit jealous as I rather like them but the kids would destroy tweed cushions in a matter of days.  I used invisible zips on the back but as you can see from the photo, the ‘invisible’ zips open out a bit once a cushion pad is put in.

 

Winter Berries Cushion
Winter Berries Cushion
Magnolia cushion
Magnolia cushion
Tweed cushion
Tweed cushion