Bright and Sunny…

I had been waiting on a half finished project to be completed before writing this post but as with everyone else I find myself distracted by the beautiful weather, that and my studio being an inhospitable 27 degrees for most of the morning, the down side of all that glass.  So what’s a girl to do instead of sew?  Why do a spot of on-line shopping whilst sitting with my feet in the paddling pool and eating an ice lolly, of course.  Perfect.

As my seasonal taste goes, I am into mixed bright colours the moment.  First up on my little spree is this bundle of Kaffe spots to feed my ongoing spots addiction.

and whilst I was placing an order with the wonderful Saints & Pinners I bought a little bit of the Forest Hills Voile in sea (as with the last Voile I am planning some summer tops….when exactly, I’m not sure, at this rate maybe in time for the summer of 2012!).

I also treated myself to some bright new tea towels from the Pantone/Typhoon range.  Already can’t remember where from, they are pretty common to buy but I cannot keep white tea towels white, they inevitably end up grey so I set myself the challenge of buying solid bright colours and these fit the bill perfectly.

We have been spending quite  bit of time outside, me in the vegetable garden and Charlie mostly playing on the decking around the doorway, usually with his pencils and paper.  He created this bright little scene the other day, note how the shoes are neatly lined up….hummm, art and neatness, wonder who he takes after!

As for the ‘open project’, here is is still very much open.  Honestly, I bought the Echino fabrics back in August (see here) specifically for this, I even cut the squares and stitched up two of the sample lavender bags and that’s where it ended.  The rest have been sitting in a box waiting for their moment.  As you can see it will be a stack of 4 large lavender bags, I figured some people just want some plain (but pretty) lavender squares to pop into their draw or wardrobe to keep things smelling sweet, so that’s what I’m aiming for.  I will complete and photograph soon, I’m making a point of leaving them in the middle of the work bench in the way so I can’t put them aside again.

Right, I am off into the garden to water the poor wilting seedlings and make the most of the sun whilst it’s here!

Obsession…

I have been displaying typical ‘me’ obsessive behavior recently, I would love to say I get obsessive about things like cleaning, or even running but sadly that’s not to case (although I am quite enjoying the running at the moment).  I think most folk who sew and blog know some of the areas I am talking about, I permanently have a laptop attached to me and cannot resist buying nice fabric.

My most recent fabric purchase is from the new cotton voiles by Anna Maria Horner, bought from Saints & Pinners.  I couldn’t resist it even though I have no need of more fabric but it’s intended for making a summer top, I rarely sew for myself, especially clothes despite being able to pattern cut and construct and this summer I intend to make an effort to keep those skills alive by making some of my own clothes.

I have also been indulging my printer obsession, I could happily spend hours creating and printing stickers.  I’m not sure if any of you have visited The Shop recently but I have (slowly) been giving it a mini face-lift, including a new banner.  I’ve then spent many a happy hour printing matching stickers, tweaking the paper bit by bit to get the images exactly on the sticker lines.  Worrying really!

I also spent rather a lot of time sitting at the laptop viewing Google Maps, Streetview.  I LOVE it!  The boys and I ‘drove’ to Grandma’s house in Yorkshire from the nearby village, taking in the 360 views, which they thought was great, they couldn’t understand why we couldn’t pop into the house to say, “hello”, bless!  Well, I had a stunning, cunning idea, the above painting belonged to my Father, a gift for his 18th Birthday I believe and is a water colour by an artist called Angus Rands.  It always take pride of place for me, among our varied and quite often modern artwork as it’s so exactly Yorkshire in both it’s scene and colours.  I know it’s painted up near Beckermonds in the Dales but I have always wondered exactly where.

Well, Streetview provided the answer, that and my ‘walking’ down a long stretch of road inch by inch until I found the spot.  Sorry to go so off topic on the usual craft chat but I have been looking at this painting for years and have even driven along the road trying to see where it was painted so for me it was a bit of a ‘Eureka’ moment.

Finally, I have been shopping on-line again (some would say yet another little obsession!)

This is ‘Melvin’ and he comes from the very talented Flora over at Through the Round Window.  He was supposed to be an Easter present along with ‘Maurice’

but I rather fell in love and have ordered more to replace them as they are now hanging in my kitchen window, where they make me smile daily.

There are new products in the pipeline (as always, waiting on supplies needed to complete them) but right now it’s time to go and work on my final obsession and the main reason for my slow blogging at the moment The Garden, there is so much to be done and the weather right now is perfect for pottering in the greenhouse so I’m off, hope you are having some sunshine where you are.

For goodness sake, someone hide the credit card..!

I did that thing the other night, the one where you start browsing ebay after a couple of glasses of wine and as tends to happen (to me, anyhow) I somehow found myself buying fabric…again.  So, I have had quite a few deliveries, including

nice wrapping huh! especially for an ebay buy where I don’t expect such pretty parcels

inside, one of my favourite Liberty patterns, ‘Wiltshire‘, unusually for me in twill, I would normally buy Tana Lawn, which I use for the Wool Bunny Dresses.

I also bought some Orla Kiely fabric which I couldn’t resist, enough to make a couple of cushion covers for the Living Room.  This lead me to hunt out

some Sale Orla K bedding which I have bought for the fabric, I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, I plan to make a summer dress and a couple of tops.  As most regular readers know, I am a big Orla Kiely fan, I make a point every season of saving up my pennies to buy something in her Sale, last season it was this

a medium travel bag, at the moment is has my cushion pads stored in it but when I am lucky enough to travel it’s the perfect size for a full holiday as I tend to pack quite light…sigh…holiday…now that would be nice.

This year, my bargain Orla K was this tweed dress, I had already marked it out and waited patiently for the SALE email to come through then dashed online to buy it, you have to be quick as things don’t stay long.  Her clothes are expensive but over the last 6 years I have collected quite a few and one of my favourite things is a blue jersey pinafore dress that I wear with jeans.  During the sales I also bought the shoes shown which are by Chie Mihara, I love her shoes, I have wide feet and they fit me well and I like the retro feel a lot of the designs have (loads of UK on-line stores sell Chie Mihara, be warned, you may fall in love and they aren’t cheap!).

My clothes sense is as eclectic as my home, I have a fondness for period style (as above) and own quite a lot of vintage items but also like quite funky modern clothing.  Saying that I mostly do ‘Bag Lady’ at the moment, I am rather excited about having some more time now that the boys are in school/pre-school, to get back into shape and take some pride in my appearance, who knows I might even start wearing make-up 🙂

Linen Mice…

I love Ocado, there is a feeling of satisfaction having a fridge well stocked with nice food and I’m afraid in my case not having to take the kids with me shopping.  The only hard bit is getting the bags emptied quicker than Charlie can remove all the things he wants to eat, seriously, I am amazed how much a 2 yr old can pack away.

Mr C started Pre-School yesterday, there has been a delay to the new term due to road works, I have been waiting for this moment for 5 years it will be my first regular time alone and please don’t think I am wishing my children’s early years away, I am aware how precious this time is but I am more than ready for a little time to myself.  So what did I do, dance around the house to loud music whilst sipping a mini bottle of Champagne, watch day time TV other than Cbeebies?  No, rather pathetically I did some sewing and not a lot of it at that.  I sat down and suddenly it was time to pick Mr C up, where did the time go?!  He had a great time by the way, after the initial tears just to make me feel guilty he was, “brilliant” apparently.

Shall we get to the photos?

I stitched together the first batch of mice, sadly my dyeing session of unusable linen didn’t improve it enough so I have some on order (in brown), but the first 2 colour ways are up, boys in Kaffe Fassett’s Asha in grey with royal blue cord shorts and girls wearing Dots dresses in magenta.

After the recent pattern tweaking, I ended up back at almost the original, with the neck a little wider to allow space for the stuffed arms and legs to fit inside.  When I see the above photo I tut at myself for cutting the corners, it weakens the seam and when making costumes is a big no-no.  Old habits die hard, but it was difficult to get the corner shape without a trim.

I love the ‘road kill’ shot, I had to resist the urge to stuff them as I went along, just so I could take a photo of the piles of flat little mice.

I am really pleased with the finished result, I was worried they may end up a bit twee and not fit in with my other designs but I think they have kept a ‘funky’ feel (or I hope so).

The light was awful this morning so these aren’t great photos and please excuse that fact that they are not stitched up yet on the sides but I had decided to have a no sewing day and get down to some house tidying.  It’s all getting a bit out of control and I am slightly jealous of the number of spring cleaning bloggers out there, I do feel much more relaxed when it’s not such a tip but have a habit of putting housework last on my list.  On which note, I had better get on as it’s already lunchtime, oh, thanks for all your lovely comments it really is nice to read what you think, makes me feel a bit more connected.

Awards and the perfect fabric…

First I wanted to say a huge thank you to Nerys over at Crafty Jemima for passing along  the ‘Sunshine Blog Award’.  I was most definitely not a little ray of sunshine that day, I was a grumpy old bag to be honest so it cheered me up no end to be on her list of 12, go read about her other choices here (I was in very good company!).  It also shamed me into remembering that Anne of Andamento passed along a ‘Kreativ Blogger’ award agggggeeees ago (read here) and I never told you, or linked back to her (really sorry Anne).  It’s one of my failings, I need to reply to emails and texts asap or they get missed in the mayhem of life with young children.  Back to the point, thank you ladies for thinking of me when you chose your blogs, I will be passing them along, but need to take time to find bloggers on my list who haven’t received them already, I just wanted to say thank you whilst it’s fresh in my mind.

Right, on to the second part of todays waffle, the perfect fabric.  Don’t you just love it when you match the perfect fabric with a project you are working on?  For instance, the Liberty Tana Lawn that I use for Wool Baby Bunnies is just right for the dresses, but wouldn’t work for the Linen Cats, they need a quilting weight and I seem to favour Japanese prints (mainly Kokka), or fabrics with a retro feel.

So I was very pleased when my little bundle of Kaffe Fassett fabrics arrived from Saints and Pinners and I just knew they were perfect for the Linen Mice.  I have never taken much notice of them before, they have never appealed but I am suddenly in love with both the Dots and Asha prints.

Lastly my fabric arrived back with M from the US, I can only order small amounts as he generally travels with a small bag but it’s so much cheaper, so here we have:

Alexander Henry In the Kitchen Fabric, Apples and Pears in Blue

Alexander Henry In the Kitchen Fabric, Apples and Pears in White

Alexander Henry Monkey’s Bizness Fabric, 2D Zoo in Primary

Girl Friday by Cosmo Cricket, Flowers and Butterflies in Green

Michael Miller, Joyful Damask in Lime

all from the Fabric Closet and mostly destined for Linen Cat dresses (oh, yes, I use quite a lot of Alexander Henry fabrics here as well).

I see the Shopping man in his nice Ocado van arriving, so best dash.  I have a Linen Mouse post to follow.

Is it a mouse, a cat, a bear…?

For those who know my work, The Linen Cat started with, in fact, a linen bunny which quickly progressed to a cat and these are still my favourite things, I especially love the mix of linen against the bright cotton prints.  The cats/bunnies are, however, one of the most expensive things that I sell as there is a lot of work and fabric involved (all the tweed trousers and dresses are removable and lined) and although I go to every length to make sure they are hard wearing and washable the buttons mean I have to state they are unsuitable for children under 36 months.  I have thought for a while about making something that mixes the same combination of fabrics but is a bit smaller, simpler in construction and young child friendly and also has a hint of my mouse egg cosy.

Some designs are very organic and ‘just happen’, others I think about, draw down and tweak a lot before I am happy.  In this case my starting point was the linen cats/bunnies, the mouse egg cosy and existing patterns (as I have written before I like to try and keep some continuity with shapes and sizes – the latter to make easier packaging and posting!).

Pattern one is based on the one used for the Wool Bunnies, and it’s passable but not right.  The head doesn’t work, I quite like slightly weird shaped heads but I know from sales, not to go too abstract.  By the way, the cute owl fabric is from the new additions at Fabric Rehab and was an extra sent to me on my last order (thanks Sally), I am rather smitten and will have to buy more.

Apart from the head shape, I struggled to stitch up the body, there wasn’t enough room to tuck the arms and legs in (the legs in the corners of the triangle dress were a nightmare) so I have made pattern two wider at the top and I’ve moved the legs in a bit.

I am also trying out new heads in cotton, so I can draw on them and not waste good linen and also because the shapes change so much once stuffed.  I think the cat is the winner but I am worried about making my lovely full size Linen Cats redundant if there is a cheaper smaller more ‘young child’ friendly version.  As always any opinions greatly appreciated.

Hummm, plenty to think on, in the meantime I am waiting for fabric ordered for the project and I need to pre-wash and dye some existing linen.  Little mouse has gone to live on the shelf with some of my other samples…she may get buttons on her dress, just for fun, at a later date.

I have Vertigo….and no, I don’t mean the movie (great though it is!)

I am feeling rather sorry for myself, which isn’t like me.  I woke on Tuesday to find the world spinning, along with intense motion-sickness style nausea, I had to crawl (oh yes) to the top of the stairs and shout for help.  Apparently I have Vertigo , thanks to good old NHS Direct for their help here as after an hour of trying to get through to our local doctors I gave up.  I did manage to speak to the duty Doctor by phone later in the day who confirmed the diagnosis, saying it’s probably viral and prescribed me anti-nausea medication.  For the first time since I have been a child I spent 2 days in bed, I simply couldn’t move, not even my head, I am usually a stop-fussing-and-get-on-with-it kind of person but I have never felt so ill.

This was my view on day 3 when I made myself sit up in bed (let’s face it, in hospital they would have shoved my legs into surgical stockings quicker than you can say, “thrombosis” if I planned to stay laying down for 2 days) and walk about a bit.  I was cross amongst other things to be missing the snow, we really don’t get it that often and it’s very pretty, as you can see I moved into the old brass bed in our spare room so I didn’t feel too cut off and the view is rather nice.

I am glad to say things are much improved, M had to go away to the US on Thursday morning so we decided if I could manage the boys (at a pinch) and find someone to do the school run as there’s no chance of my driving (thanks lovely friends) I would try and get on with it.

(This, along with the photo in the last blog give you an idea of the whole of our spare room/studio.  I love the quality of light we get from the glass front…oh and yes, Mr C has shoes on whilst on the bed and not even his! tut, tut).

Just as a quick demo of how ill I felt, a huge backlog of deliveries (15 packages and boxes to be precise) arrived and I didn’t even think about opening them.  Now, granted there was a lot of boring stuff like ink cartridges and paper but there were some gems in there including

this lovely Sale pumpkin pin cushion from The Daily Pincushion which I took rather a fancy to after mine is falling apart through over use

and there has been quite a bit of fabric shopping including this lot from Gone to Earth.  Either side is Anna Maria Horner’s ‘Mingling’ and ‘Tablecloth’ both in Ice and from her Garden Party range.  Again I am thinking ahead here as these are for next winter, it’s just I know exactly where I plan to use them and they are perfect so I would rather buy and store now.  In the middle is ‘Pop Daisy’ in Green by Heather Bailey.

I still have quite bad room spin going on but as long as I keep my head steady (think of one of those posture lessons of balancing books on the head and this is how I am walking around) I feel almost normal.  The one thing I find I can do is laptop work, and sketch book work so I have been reading everyones snowy blog posts which has really cheered me up and I spent some time yesterday updating my sketch book.  It’s really a mix of ideas and a record of past shop work, I promise I can actually draw but that’s not what I intend to do here as you can see from a couple of the pages

I do have lots of things mid design and many other lovely new fabrics which will get blog posts of their own, I just can’t sew right now so I’m leaving you with my snowy picture of the side of our house which I hope to brave going to play in whilst walking very, very slowly, with the boys later.

A Mixed Bag…

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong.  Just in case you were hoping to see a lovely patchwork bag or something as the title suggest, sorry, but there are some highlights so do keep reading (and I’ll apologise now for the dodgy photos but the light is very bad here today).

The Good

It all started last night, I received a late night order, from a Gentleman no less! (not many of those order from my website) and he chose very well….unless it’s a girl using her other half’s PayPal address which has happened in the past…either way, I said good bye to my last SALE cat, which was ordered along with an Orange Winter Berry Cushion, they look good together don’t you think?  I added a little Egg Cosy as an extra.

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The Bad

Now, I am going to have to divert here for a little introduction to

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Smelly, my cat.  Her real name is Smilla after ‘Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow‘, one of my favourite books but she has always been called Smelly.  I will give you a full cat history another time, the thing is, Smelly has only had part house access since we moved here 3 years ago as she daily brings dead animals in.  I am OK, with this, she is a cat after all, but when Charlie was younger and mostly crawling it wasn’t very nice so at night she has been restricted to the utility room in a cosy bed by the boiler and she isn’t allowed in bedrooms.  As we have no door in our new (old) extension she has been lounging about on the beds at night and last night she PEED on my bed!  She has a history of doing this and it’s partly how she became known as Smelly.  I was not best pleased but luckily the cat wee hadn’t gone all the way through to the mattress, only the duvet and sheets.

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The Really Bad

This morning, after getting some of the bedding into the wash, I packed up my order and was about to pop off to the post office when F’s school rang.  My should-know-better 4 1/2 yr old had shoved a bead up his nose, buried Pirate treasure apparently, so I had to pick him up and take him to A&E, along with Charlie on the doctor’s orders.  After a 2 hr wait (with me trying to get F to blow his nose really hard and yes, I did try tweezers) he had the lovely pink bead removed.  He wont be doing that again in a hurry.

Getting Better Again

I came home to find I had another order, this time for a Betsy Wool Bunny

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if you are wondering what the little bird attached to a card is all about, I have a big packaging post on it’s way that will explain all.

The Best Bit

Whilst out, the postman came by with a number of parcels.  This could have been bad, except we have great postmen who often sign for my packages leave them in a safe place.  So I came home with hungry, tired children and chips to cheer them up, to

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find my 2010 Calenders as ordered from Snapfish.  This has become a staple Christmas present for my immediate family, all my Father’s photos are on slides, which I am slowly scanning so each year I put together a Calender with a mix of old and new photos, I always wait for the half price sale and then get them ordered.

The Very Best Bit

Having saved the best bit until last (I waited over an hour to open this parcel as I knew what was inside and wanted to be relaxed with a coffee to hand, so as to really enjoy the experience) here is an order I placed with Nicky, of NickyNackyNoo.

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Nicky makes lovely things, plenty of which are for boys, an area I fail dismally to cover.  I have bought some of her great traffic jam bunting in the past and thought it would be nice for the boys to have hot water bottles so I ordered these covers.  Nicky added some fab tweed, for which I have a perfect project in mind and a bonus bag of flower fridge magnets, made using photos taken in her garden – how great is that!

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So it’ all looking up, best go and get the next load of laundry in and maybe fix our bedroom door so I can close it in future.

It’s Raining, it’s Pouring…

I am feeling very lucky right now.  The builders got the roof on a couple of weeks ago and a few days later the rain came; It’s much needed, there has been very little rain here in Kent and the garden has been looking a little pathetic as a result, but oh am I glad we got the roof on first!   The builders took a break last week, on another job and waiting for our windows to be ready but before they left they put our new staircase in which is a major development as it’s straight so for the first time in 3 years we are able to move some of the larger pieces of furniture upstairs.  This includes my beloved glass fronted cabinate which is one of 3 items I bought while I was waiting for the sale of my first flat to complete, many, many years ago (good old Ilkley Salerooms have a lot to answer for).  I have always assumed it would house my fabric and nic-nak collection which, of course, would be perfectly displayed through it’s lovely glass doors.  In reality it has been stuffed to the gills with all sorts over the past few years, it’s like a Tardis and on emptying it to carry upstairs I filled all the kitchen surfaces with it’s contents.

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And that’s just some of it, there was also a large box of of old sketch books and art supplies and another of millinery bits and bobs along with my most precious vintage books.

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Whilst the said cabinate has been in the living room we (well, I) put a plain ‘etching’ film on the front, party to hide the mess inside but also because the glass is not safety glass, so should the boys break it the film should hold the glass fragments together, at least that’s the theory.  I decided to remove this and replace with an etching film containing a pattern from FrostBrite.  We have used this design before in the bathroom and I really like it as it works well with all our Marimekko blinds.  We have also used film from PurlFrost in the past who have some nice designs but are a little more expensive.

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(This is a shot of the bathroom window as it’s hard to see the design on the cabinet glass).

There is a definite knack to attaching the film, I rushed and creased it whilst trying to peel of the backing paper, I hadn’t enough time and it was getting dark.  I am rather cross with myself, but it’s done now.  The other thing I noticed was the film from FrostBite isn’t as dense as the one we have used from PurlFrost so creates a more see through effect.  Still, I like it and feel happier that the glass is a little safer.

Just to illustrate how long ago I imagined this cabinet in my ‘studio’ I bought this paper from the large Paperchase on Totternaham Court Road

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for lining the shelves over 3 years ago (shuuush, don’t tell the husband, he already thinks I’m nuts but I tend to buy things I fall in love with if I see where I plan to use them, I just didn’t think it would be 3 years).  They used to have a floor of handmade and art paper, not sure if they still do?

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The best thing is being able to have some of my vintage stash out on display, mostly things that belonged to my Gran and finally being able to put my fabric away safe from dust and direct light.

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Last shot is of the lovely Hector Wall Light…not sure where it came from, I am a canny internet shopper and spent a while getting the lowest price, we have one on either side of the room.  I bought a Hector bedside lamp years ago, in fact from Laura Ashley for a very, very reasonable price before they became a hit and the price soared.

So, the builders are back next week and hopefully they will be all done by Friday and I can have my house back.  I am rather too excited!

Lovely Linen and Large Holes…

The last week has been a bit hard work, the builders ‘knocked through’ on Tuesday and I wasn’t quite ready, we had talked about this being on the cards for Wednesday so nothing had been packed up, I had to do as hasty grab through the studio to collect work and then prepare for living on just the kitchen/living room for a few days.  To give you some idea of the hole they created here it is

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this photo is taken whilst crouching down in our old extension (minus the flat roof it did have which made it look like a public toilet block from the 70’s), the 9ft high hole is direct into our open plan living space/kitchen and hallway upstairs so it’s been 2 floors of dust to hoover and mop, hoover and mop again, oh and again – you get the picture?  We had 2 nights of slightly spooky tarpaulin only covering the opening which rather freaked the kids out and I has to sit in the hallway waiting for them to go to sleep but as you can see, it has been boarded over and yesterday I got my house back, for a while anyhow.  What a happy bunny I am.

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Despite it’s restrictions, being stuck in the kitchen has meant I managed to get a bit of work done.  I started a search for new linen a while back and have found a great medium weight oatmeal linen at one of my favourite online stores Ada and Ina Linen Fabrics, which is good as I made some bad choices recently and now have about 8 meters of unsuitable linen, it will get used eventually but I am cross at myself for buying badly.  The new oatmeal colour works really well for the cats/bunnies as it’s paleness sets of the bright fabrics I like to use for the dresses.

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This along with a couple of cats/bunnies in the old linen has allowed me to use some of the new dresses recently made

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I didn’t list the dress fabrics last time so from the top we have:

  • Alexander Henry – Apples and Pears, Brown – The Eternal Maker
  • Kokka – Little Red Riding Hood in blue – Fabric Rehab
  • Kokka – Russian Dolls Pink – I am guessing FR again.
  • Michael Miller (Patty Young) – Andalucia 60’s Sunflower, Pink – Fabric Rehab
  • Kokka – Scandi Dala Horse, Green – Fabric Rehab

If I had to pick a favourite I would say I am rather in love with the Alexander Henry, Apples and Pears, I have only ever seen the brown at The Eternal Maker and that was by accident where it was the very reasonable price of £10/meter (so many fabrics now are over £10) it certainly suits the time of year.  Can’t help but notice that Kokka features a lot in my list, I may have to buy the Dala Horse fabric in red the flower basket part of this print is fabulous, I liked the Little Red Riding Hood so much I also bought it in orange and pink.  It makes me feel better that they are Japanese and so cheaper here than the US, which can’t be said for most of the other fabrics!