Tree Fairies…

I packed up the last of the acorn brooches today, thanks to Folksy, for linking through from Facebook, which was rather nice of them.  I was really lucky and got positive comments, because, I tell you, I couldn’t help noticing recently a Folksy featured photo on FB (of a piece of work that I thought was fabulous) got some quite mean and critical comments….why?  What happened to ‘if you can’t say something nice, shut up!’, I just don’t get it, but then I’m totally soft like that and generally hate the idea of hurting anyone’s feelings so I’d just keep my mouth shut if I didn’t like something, I’d certainly not go out of my way to write a negative or snide comment.  People are weird.

2.fairies+miceStill, back to the post.  It’s all very pink around here, as part of my effort to work through all the half-finished boxes, I finally came around to the fairies.  I’ve been avoiding them, they were started so long ago (2009, as you can read here) and part of the problem is I’ve learnt a lot in those intervening years so I would probably make them quite differently now,
DSC_0036but I couldn’t leave the poor bodies, already with faces embroidered on (if they hadn’t been sewn to this stage, I’m pretty sure I’d have binned them as it’s the mainly body making method that I would change) sitting any longer in their box, looking lonely, so I figured I should get them finished.  I had fun (not really) trying to find a ribbon match as the original one I used is no longer made, I tried out quite a few but they just didn’t look right.

DSC_0038Hair was plaited from a huge bag of wool I once bought specifically for this project.DSC_0200They were hanging out on the bed, in my studio, on one of my Gran’s old eiderdowns whilst at the bald, alien looking stage.  I love all the pretty pink colours together. DSC_0192 And finally, after a few days hand sewing, they are done.  Phew, and ‘tick’ to the ever-decreasing list.DSC_0193 So what would I change if I were starting from scratch?  Well mainly how the body is constructed, back then was in the pre big bag making/sewing boom that allows easy buying of pelmet weight interfacings etc, plus there weren’t nearly so many on-line fabric shops back in 2009 and if I remember correctly, these were constructed with multi layers of standard dressmaking interfacing to try and get the bodies as stiff as possible, which wasn’t all that stiff!  Don’t get me wrong, they work (mine is still put on the top of the tree yearly and will be until is disintegrates!) but it bothered me so I cut holes in the body areas of these and shoved wire as far as I could into the legs and arms.  It’s better and definitely makes me happier but I would just approach the construction differently now.DSC_0197 For those who are new to the blog, you can click the link at the start of this post to go back and read how they originally came about, but basically they are a fabric copy of my Gran’s tree fairy, which I grew up with as a child.  My Mum kindly brought it down one Christmas to put on the tree when the boys were born, after which she came to us so often that she told me to just keep her.  The card and paper fairy is quite fragile now and mostly lives in a box, out of direct sunlight to try to keep her in one piece, but re-visiting the sewn version prompted me to get her put into a box frame (which I was always planning to do) so she can be propped in the mantle piece, come December.DSC_0202As with the original batch, they look quite different from each other once they get hair, some are a tad grumpy or cross-eyed looking but I do think it’s part of the charm.

DSC_0186They are listed in the shop and I’m happy to see a nice tidy box, with just my remaining sample left 🙂

The Best Laid Plans…

As predicted, the bliss of the first few weeks of the boys being back at school and the list of work I had hoped to achieve hasn’t exactly gone to plan.  It’s not been a total disaster by any means, I have managed to add some much-needed exercise into my daily routine; I leave the car at school and walk back, then walk the return to pick up C at lunchtime as it’s too far for the boys to manage each day but sometimes I persuade them to walk with me.  It’s great to see signs of Autumn arriving all around us, the boys are generally quite interested in nature so we have fun picking up bits and pieces to add to our little ‘nature’ window ledge at home.

I made these felt acorns last Winter and figured I’d try and finish them off whilst I’m in the Autumnal mood, it’s taken me a year to make some leaves.  They were completely inspired by the Fox noses I was stitching back then, I liked the idea of using chain stitch to make the acorn cases, to be honest this takes quite a while so they may never develop any further than the few I’ve stitched for myself to hang on cupboard doors but it’s a good starting point, I think some gold is needed in there to sparkle them up a bit, maybe in the hanging ribbon?

As always there’s been a little bit of on-line retail therapy.  I needed to order some fabric from Liberty’s and sneaked in these new tins for stashing labels and pins in, they are by Froy & Dind and I’d happily buy the entire range should I find time to rob a bank or win the lottery (neither being very likely).

I also sneaked in this Lolita Cup in cream and blue, it’s for our bathroom once I find time to paint it.  Hey, it’s only been waiting for about 4 years, I’m sure I’ll get around to it some time soon.

Last Friday I was treated to a very special last minute BBC Proms night on Friday (courtesy of my Sister) which also included an overnight stay in the very plush Kensington Hotel (also courtesy of my Sister – she treats me well and I am most grateful!).  I don’t get away all that often and it was most exciting to sit in a posh bar drinking cocktails and munching snacks with my glad rags on, the rather opulent seating and dining area is very relaxed and I noticed they offer Afternoon Tea.  The website states they are also quite child friendly with a babysitting service and extra beds available in the rooms; the ‘Dress Code’ bit made me laugh, it says on the Mr & Mrs website ‘Comfortable, low-level glamour’.  The Prom was excellent and we followed up the next day with some shopping at Anthropologie, Fortnum & Mason with a swift Liberty’s Cafe stop before I had to dash back to M and the boys.  It reminded me how much I enjoy mooching around London, when we first moved out I used to pop back once a week to meet friends for lunch and get my city fix, but these days it’s a very rare opportunity.

I mostly window shopped but did by a few bits from Anthropologie.  I had such a nice time in the store admiring the displays and products but I was disappointed with the finishing quality of the clothing.  Don’t get me wrong, the designs were great and there was plenty that I lusted after (and I did buy a gold top with some lovely detailing on the neckline), but for the price I didn’t feel the detail was up to scratch, there were some really shoddy buttonholes and lots of loose threads.  Still, it’s up there on my ‘must visit’ list when I do make it into the big smoke and I would happily wear pretty much everything they sell if money allowed, shoddy buttonholes or not.

Finally, as this post seems to be all about pretty things with a nature theme, I bought a new brooch from Joanna Rutter a short while ago, I’m lusting after the silver necklace version but for now this will be lovely pinned to my everyday corduroy jacket.

And now, joy of joys I need to walk back again to school as the car has broken down (again, it did the same last week).  Although I do enjoy walking, even in bad weather spending four and a half hours of my day going back and forth does take the shine of it!  Let’s hope we get the car back for tomorrow 🙂

Dusting off the Baubles…

I’m feeling very relaxed tonight, about half an hour ago I finally finished my last commission piece, I still have some gifts to make but it lifts the pressure a lot to know that I haven’t let anyone down and they will get their promised products with plenty of time to wrap and post.

I’m looking forward to some time to tidy around the house and prepare for Christmas at a slower pace,

we bought our tree last weekend (please excuse the missing skirting board and wire but this is still very much a ‘house-in-progress’), I confess to a very hasty decorating hour as I simply didn’t have the time I normally would to relax and enjoy it, ideally with a nice glass of something Christmassy whilst I ‘work’.  I did make the effort to be quite nicely colour coordinated but F had his own plans and over the week has added every decoration in the box to the tree and the few that are too heavy he has hung on all the door/draw knobs!

Sitting on the top of the tree is the Fairy I made last year, a fabric version of my Gran’s vintage one as her’s is getting too fragile to use, you can see where the recent Fairy/Ballerina Mice began in her pink silk dress.

And there are plenty of multi-coloured birds that again were made last year (more of which are available in The Shop, sadly I didn’t get around to make more fairies).

I so love the birds and another of my favourite decorations that come our every year are the red pompoms

Genius idea, not mine I’ll add I bought these in the Sale some years ago from Pedlars.

We have quite a busy weekend planned with F’s School Fair and all our cards to write, not to mention Teachers gifts to make.  I am also planning a giveaway in the next post, slightly overdue but better late than never.  For tonight, it’s Thai takeaway and maybe a bit more decorating, this time at a nice leisurely pace 🙂

Fairy and Ballerina Mice…

First, huge thanks for the response to the monster purse in the last post, sorry I haven’t replied to any of the comments yet, I’m a bit stressed at the moment and slightly loosing the plot.  Basically, it sounds like if I made these and popped them in the shop they might well sell, it simply comes down to time, first I need to crack on with promised Christmas commissions and we’ll see how it goes.

And so, as the title suggests I have finally finished the Fairy and Ballerina Mice.  I have to say, for some really odd reason these little ladies rather stretched me to the limit, I have broken 12 needles (yes, 12!!!!), thrown 10 little ballet shoe wearing legs in the bin (ribbons too short or twisted and unrecoverable) and twice stitched the fairy wings into a side seam.

The turning out of each Mouse was a squash and a squeeze.

But, I got there in the end and every little bit of effort was worth it as I love them.

So here they are.

Listed here

and here.

I couldn’t resist adding little ribbon roses, so they come with the obligatory ‘not suitable for children under 36 months’ but you could always remove the roses from the Ballerina mice.

I’ve shared them out between Folksy and my shop (as linked above) and now I feel a well deserved pink silk break, it’s on with Superhero Mice next!

PS, Spot the mistake in that last photo 🙂

Work in Progress: Christmas Mice

Well, we followed the boys colds with another one for C, only with added throat infection and then M being away, so as always when ‘home alone’ I’m a bit tired, but getting on with it.

I am always amazed at how much I get done with the boys early starts (we had 4.50 am on Thursday, I was delighted) for instance already today I have done 2 loads of laundry, baked 2 loaves of bread (1 white and 1 walnut, it’s a baking kind of day and we are out of bread), a Madeira cake and done F’s homework with him.  That’s pretty good considering it’s only midday.  I should stress, it’s not always like this but when tired, I kind of force myself to keep moving that way I manage, if I stop I will feel exhausted and unable to cope and although this does happen it’s better for us all if I can just keep going.

And so, I had set myself the task of finishing all the Foxes by the end of this week and it was going nicely until Friday when I was thinking of my list of Christmas designs and how late I am getting.  I then got slightly obsessed with the planned Christmas mice, thinking of how I would construct them, what materials I need to order and whether they should be young child friendly or not (ie no beads or buttons) and the poor Foxes have been put aside for a few days whilst I  play with silk and linen.

There’s a way to go and sadly my machine is being a bit temperamental (time for a service I think) but you get the idea.  I like them, they make me smile 🙂

Christmas Fairies…

I talk a lot about my love of hoarding, vintage and especially about my Gran’s belongings, at Christmas it is a custom for us to have her fairy on the tree.  We think it is from her early married days so probably mid 1930’s and sadly, is getting a little worse for wear so say the least.

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My Mother allowed me to use it for the last two years, as she spent Christmas with us (Grandchildren change everything) and I figured it was about time I made a copy before the original disintegrates entirely.  I had planned to make an exact copy of the original, in card and tissue, but realised that it would translate well into fabric so back in June when I was in ‘Wet Yorkshire ModeI treated myself to some new silk and got working on a sample.

I am amazed at how slow my design progress was on this one.  I sort of pottered on a bit every now and again, in fact, the silk inspired me to make my sweet pea cushions in July first.

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By September I figured I had better get a move on so some of the bodies were made, M remarked at the time that they looked like aliens and I fear he was not wrong.

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There are some rather cross and bog-eyed fairies in this batch but I rather think that’s the beauty of handmade, it would be boring if they were identical.  The wings were a bit tricky to stitch in the slippery silk

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but finally they are done, or the first few anyway.  They are a little plumper than the original (but aren’t we all!) and the hair has a definite Tammy Wynette feel, I am sure if I was designing them from sctatch they would be a little more stylised but I am pleased with the result.

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They are made in silk and wool, with the exception of the silver ric-rac.  I am not a fan of using glue, don’t know why as there is no real reason, but I had to UHU then stitch the hair into place and the backs have a long ribbon for tying them into the tree, or looping so they can be hung as an ornament.

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My final problem is trying get a true colour photo of the plum version.  As you can see I haven’t really nailed that one yet, even outside in natural light the colour is very off, in reality it’s a bright plum purple.

I am not sure how I will price these, they take an insane amount of work and the silk isn’t cheap but the price has to be affordable so I’ll need to think on that one.

Right, only a few more days of hand sewing to get the rest finished!