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).

DSC_0235

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).

DSC_0238

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!

DSC_0239

Whether the weather…

It can’t make it’s mind up today, we keep getting downpours and then moments of sun.  I admit to loving the rain, the garden is parched as unlike everyone else we haven’t had much rain at all recently plus it puts me into work mode.  I have been struggling with this over the past week, I feel anxious and I’m not sure why, I think it’s that F starts Primary School on Monday and although this in itself doesn’t stress me I know there will be lots of tears once he realises he has to go every day.  It’s dawning on me that this has been his last summer of freedom, after Monday he will spend the next few years in the education system, until he leaves home (I’m booting them out at 18 – ha!) and I am kind of sad about that.  The up side is Mr C starts pre-school in January I will have my first regular time off in over 4 years, I am quite excited, I have secret ideas of sleeping and reading a lot but I know I wont be able to do this, there is always too much to do.

Another possible cause of the feeling of anxiety is that the builders start tomorrow, I am both excited and stressed about this.  I have been rushing to do all the laundry as access to the washing machine will involve walking out of the house to the ‘building site’ that is our old extension, we are blocking off the door to cut down on dust and keep the kids safe.  We have emptied everything out and the house it rather full, boxes stacked everywhere and a little too much furniture in all the rooms but it will be soooo worth it.  There will be a large hole in the house shortly so I’m glad we are getting it done before the weather turns too cold and who knows, we may even get the underfloor heating and new wooden floors down in our living room in time for Winter!

DSC_0234

Right, bit too much chatter and not enough photos so here is my work bench earlier this morning.  I should be sewing another roman blind for my sister, but I couldn’t face it and so decided to treat myself to starting some new dresses for Linen Cats/Bunnies.  These are in more Autumn colours, I have been collecting the fabric for a while with this in mind, I only buy small amounts to keep the styles limited as it makes it more fun (I always did like dressing up my dolls as a child and used to hand sew dresses for Cindy), it also keeps in line with each Linen Cat/Bunny being individual.

DSC_0237

They take a lot of work, each is fully lined in white cotton and there are no raw seams visible but they are one of may favourite things to make, I love choosing the buttons and beads.  I’m waiting on some linen samples for the bodies, the old linen I use is beautiful but has now reached £19.45 per meter without postage, which is far too expensive.  Once done and with some new colour Tweed Owls and Hanging Birds I can change the Shop stock over to a more Autumn feel.

Might have to root out the knitted socks soon!

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:

DSC_0234

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.

DSC_0242

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.

DSC_0247

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.

DSC_0237

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.

DSC_0236

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:)

New supplies and a bit of organisation…

Whilst still in ‘get ready for the builders to trash the house’ mode and also whilst F is on Summer hols I have been pottering about, tidying through the studio/spare room and trying to finish half done projects.  I placed some orders for new supplies and went maybe a bit over the top with cataloging where everything comes from.  I get really annoyed when I need to order more of something and I can’t remember where I got it from, or which colour number it is so I did as below:

DSC_0257

do I need help?  Probably.

I ordered some new bias binding by 33 m reels from BG Payne.  I have never bought from them before but they charge £2.29 for 16mm, 35m reels and they had quite a few colours I was after that other people didn’t stock so it worked for me.  They don’t have a colour chart but you can see the this at the manufacturers website.

DSC_0253

I also went on a hunt for UK suppliers of Echino linen/cotton fabric for Kokka.  Ever since I made new cushions which ended up in our living room (and are standing up very well to the boys slightly boisterous playing and food spills) I have been a bit in love with this fabric.  I had already bought the purple, as below, from Celtic Fushion, but found the others in the photo at the eternal maker, yet another new online shop for me who sell it for £7 per half meter (oh I love that they sell in meters!).  If anyone knows anywhere that I can buy this cheeper, do let me know as I fancy some Roman blinds for the new/old extension but would need quite a lot.

DSC_0255

Although I am twitching to sew with my new supplies, the sun is trying to come out so I am off to play with the boys in the garden.

If you go down in the woods today…

It’s been a bit of a stressful couple of weeks.  I had a frantic Roman Blind order to do for my sister in zero time so had to pull out all the stops whilst also doing all F’s last week of Pre-School parties and new school ‘taster’ days.  The housework got ignored and I got to the stage where I made stupid sewing mistakes (got to love that unpicker I got free with my machine many years ago!).  

DSC_0239

Above is one of my favourite fabrics for blinds, Lumimarja, by Erja Hirvi for Marimekko.  We have the same fabric in silver and also with orange berries as blinds in our house.  It especially looks good with the gold silk dupion border on either side.  The blinds were very wide, 220cm, so one of the hardest problems was laying them out on the floor for marking and tacking, each time I got them perfectly lined up the boys would come running in and jump all over them.  I got just a bit stressed.

DSC_0240

I survived the panic sewing and decided to reward myself by swapping to small scale projects for a while, the kind you can pick up and put down as the mood dictates and that don’t take over the house.  I mentioned a while back some lovely new very snuggly cashmere/wool fabric I bought and had a pretty good idea I wanted to make a simple teddy to add to my collection.  I know I said I was trying to cut down on softies in the shop, to try and expand other areas of making but for this fabric a teddy was in order.

This is the first attempt and needs some tweaking.  Maybe a bit slimmer in body with bigger arms and the orange stitching was simply to hand, but I am pleased all the same.  Does he need a tail?  I thought so but husband says no…not sure he is to be trusted he knows little about sewing.  It’s nice to make something lovely and simple and I have been dying to use the My Folklore fabric by Lecien which has been in my stash for a while.

DSC_0238

Also as antidote to the mess and mayhem of our house I put my foot down and demanded more shelving in the spare room/studio so a very early morning trip to Ikea was in order for Saturday.  It was a good excuse buy more fabric (it would have been rude not to at their prices) and some sweet nibbles from the Ikea food shop as a reward for a day of unpacking books that have been boxed since we moved 3 years ago!  It’s lovely to finally have them to hand, who knows in another few years we may finally unpack the last boxes!

Bold and Brilliant Colour…

It occurred to me over the weekend whilst working in the garden that my taste in flowers is similar to my taste in fabric.  The top flower bed has been a riot of colour, filled with bright tulips (Ballerina, China Pink and Jan Reus to name a few) against acid green euphorbias.  I would love to say that I planned it all without any help, but that would be a lie, I have taken most of my ideas for the garden from combinations suggested by Sarah Raven in her book ‘The Bold and Brilliant Garden’ (I also use her book ‘Grow Your Own Cut Flowers’ rather a lot).

dsc_0217

When designing, I especially like to mix bright coloured cotton prints with pale linens, wools and tweeds.  For those who read my blog or who have visited the shop site, you will already know my designs tend to follow this trend.  I also like fabrics with an element of nature, especially flowers so you can imagine my excitement when the below fabric (Garden Party by Anna Maria Horner) arrived in the post:

dsc_02292

And not only is it beautiful but it arrived the next day and was packaged perfectly in powder blue tissue and ribbon.  It came from the on-line fabric shop Saints and Pinners which I wouldn’t have know about had Karen over at Blueberry Park not highlighted in a recent post (so thanks Karen!).

I don’t normally sew at weekends, it’s family time, but I couldn’t resist making up a couple of new dresses for the linen cats/bunnies and here they are:

 

New linen cat and bunny
New linen cat and bunny

My husband even mentioned that he thought it was the nicest cat/bunny dress yet, which is high praise indeed as he doesn’t normally take any interest in my sewing.  In fact I love it so much I went straight back on-line to order some more and had to resist all the other lovely fabrics available, well I didn’t entirely resist I snuck in a half yard of Westminster Fabrics Social Climber in green and pink.

New fabric…

Now, after a few glasses of wine at the weekend I decided to buy some new fabric to make the berry cushions from my last post (I know, any excuse and a bit naughty as the whole point was to use small left overs of fabric I already have – oops!). Now you know how it is after a few glasses of wine, it’s very, very easy to buy on-line and can, on occasion, go wrong. Not in this case, the below bundle arrived in the post this morning and I am very pleased to say the least. I also treated myself to some new cat/bunny dress fabric (the bright Michael Miller fabric on top) which is very yummy. All of this was bought for a very fair price from Fabric Inspirations one of my new favourite fabric sites.

 dsc_0230dsc_02291

I also finished the tweed cushions I have been making for my sister and felt the need to photograph them (actually half of them as I made two of each).

And, finally, I have got my act together and started listing on Folksy as I need to increase my sales, so I am quite pleased with my day so far.  I am twitching to sew with the new fabric but the sun is shining and outside calls so we are off for a walk.

Shiny, pretty things…

I have a number of addictions and top of the list would be internet shopping as I get to combine the love of my laptop (yes, I do love my laptop which I know is a bit sad but I have to admit it) and shopping, two of my favourite things.  Since PayPal came along it is a little too easy to just press a button and a few days later lovely things arrive in the post.  The same can be said of ebay…we have bought some wonderful items over the years but I have learnt not to shop late at night after a couple of glasses of wine!

Another addiction is checking the post.  Even if I am not expecting anything I have a little flutter of excitement when the red van pulls into our lane.  I like to savour opening a parcel to the point where I leave it on the side for a while and maybe finish my jobs or make myself a coffee so I can really enjoy the experience.

I don’t get out much!!

Well, this week was a little over the top with deliveries and below is the weeks haul.  I would like to take this opportunity to say that a number of the items below are presents for other people and it is not the norm to spend so much money in one week.

Saltwater clothingSnowflake earringsMoomin MugFabric RehabFabric ClosetCloudberry Living

From the top we have:

Saltwater clothing – I am very, very pleased that you can now buy saltwater clothing online.  These were in the sale, I love a bargain.

Snowflake earrings by Yoola – Found this fabulous store on Etsy and enjoyed reading the blog advice on stretching your boundries re sales.

Moomin Mug – A replacement mug for my son as the original was broken.  Bought from Cloudberry Living, one of my favourite sites for Scandinavian goods.

Fabric Rehab – Russian Doll And Toadstools Fabric from the best UK shop for cool fabrics.

Fabric Closet – Yet more fabric, in this case from Fabric Closet on Etsy.

ISAK Landsby Bread Board and Ittala Alto dish – Again from Cloudberry Living.  I love the new ISAK range and each item comes in it’s own bag as an added bonus.

Beautiful fabric…at a price.

OK, yes, I am sorry, another little moan.  I am writing this post as it might be of use to someone else (and save them a bit of money).

I have been thinking about ordering fabric from the US (through etsy) for a while as it’s so much cheaper, even with postage costs.  I found some nice sale fabric at a site recommended by a number of blogs and sat back to wait for delivery feeling pleased with my saving.

I have just been to our local post depot to claim my parcel and have been charged £10.83, yes £10.83!!!! Now as the fabric was $26.00 (without postage) it fell over the dreaded £18 that customs allow for imported goods (I just did an online exchange and it came to £18.09 so a measly nine pence over) so I got a £2.83 customs vat charge – fair enough, but then Royal Blooming Mail charge £8 for allowing me to come over to their depot and pay them to give me my package.  Apparently (I asked the customs man as there wasn’t a hope of RM answering their phone) and he said this is standard and if my vat had been £100 I would still be charged £8 by RM who say they are acting as my agent, hence the charge.

Just to make is slightly more annoying I drove all the way over there (into industrial no-mans land) and they can’t process a card payment so I had to drive around to find a cash machine.  Wasn’t the poor girl on duty’s fault so I stayed nice and polite but I thought I would wrote a post for anyone else importing from the US.

Nice fabric though…

Royal Blooming Mail