Knapweed Flower Brooches

I think we’ve firmly established that a lot of my ideas can ferment for years before they actually happen and the recent flower brooches are no exception.thistleFollowing the success of the acorn brooches I wanted to make more things that are seasonal and a bit different to my regular flower brooches, but that will happily sit alongside them. I’ve been considering thistles since 2014 when I took photos especially, whilst out walking with the boys.IMG_20160809_115354But it never quite happened until we were on a visit to Yorkshire a year later and I realised it’s really knapweed that floats my boat, it grows everywhere there and I’m generally a bit obsessed by Yorkshire wildflowers so it fitted the niche exactly.IMG_20160810_135049Knapweed always makes me think of flower fairies tooGreater-Knapweed-Flower-Fairy and Beshlie’s beautiful illustrations.KnapweedThe brooches themselves took some time, partly because I worked on them in rather a stop-start style, as is often my way.DSC_0007But they did evolve, slowly.DSC_0067I really like them, they have turned out exactly as I’d have wished them to be and that doesn’t always happen!IMG_20170621_093534(1)They are a bit of a nightmare to package…DSC_0020but I don’t mind.KanpweedhandAnd I think they go up there in my top favourites; they really do scream Yorkshire to me and that makes me happy.Knapweedbest 3I need to take more product photos but I think it’s important I just start getting things listed so you can find them here in my shop and soon they will be listed on Folksy too.

My next job is to try and sort out the website a bit as the images are compressed in a way that they look terrible and there is still no banner, then it’ll be back to product listing – badgers, foxes and winter aprons to come, to name but a few.

Mothers Day and Flower Brooches

It appears I had forgotten about Mothers Day.  To be honest, in the past I’d have been lucky to get a lie in, let alone a present (I took to buying my own, in the end!) and as my lovely Mum is no longer here, it tends to just get forgotten about.  To give the boys credit, they have realised as it must have been mentioned at school and they are planning a day of Star Wars stuff !!!!??? (I think that means us all running around the house like loons playing with lightsabers….I was thinking more training them to be able to make nice coffee and a lie-in, but I don’t have to heart to tell them that).

DSC_0001It’s something I need to be better at, in the future (with the exception of Valentines Day, which I have always hated, if I’m honest), recognising special days and holidays and promoting my work accordingly.  I do make a lot of things aimed toward Christmas but the rest of the year tends to be forgotten about.DSC_0005I’m sewing in the kitchen today, party because I’m attending to a sick hen (Audrey) who’s hanging out on the kitchen table in a guinea pig house (she’s actually no longer sick, but needs one more day of antibiotics before I put her back with the others) so it’s all about hand sewing, which as usual means Flower Brooches, which really would have been a good thing to shout about with Mums in mind.DSC_0050The very first one of these was made for my own Mother, way back when (I just tried to find the post to link it, but I have no idea what year it was).  I’d totally forgotten that the original brooches were mounted on cards, I really liked the idea of giving a card that also has a gift on it….no-one else was that bothered though and most people opted to buy the brooches on their own.DSC_0028The first one was a nice pretty pink, as above, shortly followed by the buttercup (which I should make more of as I haven’t done them for a while!!).DSC_0051There have been many versions over the years,DSC_0001and they featured (as they still do) on my tweed bags (above the original ones with zips).DSC_0016They’ve also made it into quite a few magazines, including Country Living, which was a bit of a highlight!DSC_0031DSC_0039Flower Brooch Auricula Green in HandFlower Brooch Auricula Green BackDSC_0059DSC_0166DSC_0192

DSC_0008They are one of my designs that I’m most proud of as there are so many variations that can be worked using the same base and they are quite fun to make, although there is a lot of work involved for the final selling price.DSC_0007Well, for all those who are celebrating this weekend, I hope you have a really lovely time with your loved ones…..I’ll be donning my Princess Leia outfit and hanging out with small boys, who could wish for more 🙂

PS, I know most people write Mother’s Day, but I always think of it as being Mothers, plural.  Perhaps that’s just me…and then I guess it should be Mothers’ Day….maybe?  I never was any good at grammar.

PPS I don’t need an answer to my terrible grammar, anyone reading my blog knows it’s not my forte

Auricula Tweed Purses

I’m sewing, sewing, sewing at the moment and then in the evenings I’m trying to plan a new website, but it’s taking FOREVER.  I’d love to down tools and just focus on the re-design, but that’s not very practical.

DSC_0147The logo part is a real struggle, as I keep changing my mind.  I was all sold on committing myself to using a cat in there (I often wish I’d chosen a different shop name, but as I’m known under this one now, it’d be quite difficult to change it, plus I own the web domain etc etc).  Ho-hum, I’ll get there in the end.

DSC_0007I’m still mostly sewing blinds and then Christmas things for the shop (as this is always where I make most profit).  Last year was a bit of a disaster, work wise, what with becoming a single Mum and all.  I did put the hours in, but I didn’t promote my work or get things photographed and listed when I should have.  I think I’m in a good routine now of shop sewing, blind sewing and taking care of the boys.  Time is still very stretched, but it’s a huge benefit working from home, I did look at trying to work part time elsewhere, but the reality of who would look after the boys in school holidays and outside of school hours put a stop to those plans, for now anyway (it’ll be easier once they are both settled into secondary school…only a few more years to go!), plus my boys are quite ‘quirky’ and certainly F needs his time out at home once he’s finished school, he’d find after school club etc quite difficult.DSC_0045.jpgRight now, my focus is on getting the shop updated with all the stock that’s sitting around in boxes so I’m starting with some Auricula Tweed Purses.

DSC_0051.jpgI made the first of these years (I think!) ago for my Sister as a present.  Her’s has a jazzy lining made out of snippets of left over curtain fabric.

ariculapurse2.jpgThese new ones have silk orange linings, which I think give a nice ‘pop’ to them.  I love how the silk contrasts with the tweed and felt.

tweedpurseariculaburgundy.jpgThe only other difference is that the Auricula Brooches are the second generation ones, that have two yellow centre colours.DSC_0180.jpgYou can find them here, hanging out with Gold Bunnies….because you know what time of year is coming up next 😉



Pink Auriculas

Spring is the time for new auricula brooches…..and as we are now very much in Summer, I thought it was time I finished them!8811757633566As always, it starts with me trawling through photos in the internet, looking for inspiration.  I was sure I wanted to make a pink version and originally, I was very keen on the idea of a nice pale pink, like the middle blooms above (I have NO idea where this photo came from, I’m pretty sure it was a seed catalogue so I don’t feel shockingly bad about posting it here, but if not, and it belongs to someone I’m really, really sorry, just let me know and I’ll credit/remove it, as you wish).


But, I am very picky about the felt I use, it’s always 100% wool and I’ve tried many suppliers but some are a bit too thick to be easily manipulated into the petals, so I’m sticking with my original source, the only problem there being that I’ve used most colours available and all the pale pink options just didn’t look right, so I changed plan and went for the brighter pink in the bottom left corner.

I’m really pleased with the results, they are quite zingy, without being too bright.  Annoyingly, they are really difficult to photograph and get the colour to show, so like the trooper I am, I just gave up and decided to use the photos I have 😉

I’m also struggling, generally, to take process shots as I changed my lovely Victorian trestle table some time back for a more modern glass worktop, it is very practical and looks good, but it’s not nice to take photos on (I have just re-arranged my entire studio, which took me FOREVER, although I am now the Queen of solo furniture moving, photos to follow at some stage).DSC_0155

I’ve been resorting to taking photos on my wooden work tray and also my old desk, that now houses all my packing supplies.  My Mum bought me this.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it was back in the mid 80’s and I was disappointed about being told I would be getting a second-hand bike for Christmas (long story, I wasn’t allowed a new one as apparently us kids ‘didn’t look after them properly’) and Mum knew I was upset so she used her own money to buy me a desk as a trade-off.  I wanted a melamine thing in bright colours (but of course) and luckily, Mum having clearly much better taste then me, bought this beauty instead.  Thank goodness my 80’s early teen style didn’t win, the melamine would have long since been binned.

(Oh, quick mention, the two lovely drawings on top of the desk are by the fabulous Saffa, who has a new website – Saffa Barkhorder – for her beautiful drawing work).DSC_0162

See, grainy, dark photos.  Poor show Beth.  If you can’t take the time to photograph things properly how do you expect them to be shown at their best! (I talk to myself all day long, I may as well do it in my blog too, thank goodness for cats and guinea pigs, at least if they are in the room I appear less mad).pinkariculacutout

Better, but still not great.

Oh, and whilst I was making a new colour batch I re-stocked some of the green ones, as they tend to be quite popular.  They are both to be found here.
DSC_0138Right, I’m off to read a book about taking product photographs as that seems like a good plan.  Toodle pip for now.

Red Arrow Auricula Brooches…

As the title suggests, I’ve made another batch of auricula brooches, this time based on the lovely Red Arrow variety.  I’d like to show a photo of the blooms but I can’t find one that is copyright free and for some reason, when you google it the page is littered with images of open surgery, amongst the flowers, it’s putting me off my coffee so I’ve stopped hunting.  Trust me, Red Arrow looks a bit like this:


Bright red and white with a sunny yellow spot in the middle.


I’m trying to improve my photography and not just take temporary shots that I hope to replace later, as I never do, but my knowledge is limited and I relay on the decent camera I once ‘borrowed’ from my husband to do most of the work for me.


I know I mentioned it a while back, but Create now allow Pro users to have three images (it used to be just one) and they are high res, I am sooooooo excited about this and am in the process of updating my site.  I had found a fix for the single image problem by adding extra ones in the text area of the product description, but the new solution is so much better and makes me feel happier to stay with Create as a hosting company as they get so many other things right, including their customer service (this is all just my opinion, clearly, I don’t get anything back for saying nice things!).  As I’ve been slowly going through all my images in iPhoto, seeing which ones really need to be re-taken, I can clearly see how much my editing has improved, which is great but there are big gaps in my knowledge so on-line tutorial or two wouldn’t go amiss.


I wanted to get these listed before Mother’s Day, just in case anyone is interested….I’d be very happy to get a nice handmade brooch, or a lavender bag, or better still an apron!  As it is, M is away so I’ve pre-ordered myself a box of edible goodies as a treat and hope to persuade the boys to allow me to sit in bed and drink coffee.  You never know.  I suspect they will join me with laptops and endless watching of ‘Stampy’ Minecraft YouTube videos – I bet half those with young kids reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.DSC_0191

I’m considering changing how I stage my photos, I need to have a play but I’m edging towards using my Great Aunt Florence’s books or maybe some of my Gran’s sewing things (like bright wooden cotton reels) as props.  I need to present a coherent collection of images though, so more thought is needed.

The new brooches are listed here and soon to be on Folksy (when I get my act together and update my shop there).

‘Yorkshire’ Tweed Purse…


This is a picture heavy post and it starts with some (dodgy) photos I took ages ago when I was walking back ‘home’ in the Dales.  I know I’ve mentioned this colour combination before, the greens, browns and purple pinks; but these colours really do always remind me of North Yorkshire.


They are a colour combination I keep returning too.


They were part of the inspiration for Fox clothing some years ago (I only just re-listed Foxes and my last purple Mr & Mrs sold straight away….I wasn’t expecting that).


And when I made the recent red rose purse, I couldn’t resist making a ‘Yorkshire’ coloured one.  By the way, I am so in love with this new dog-tooth check tweed, it’s all autumn heather, with a brown base and hints of purple and green.  I bought loads so I can make myself a suit, which I’m quite excited about, it might even get used with one of my 1940’s patterns.


But back to the purse.


It has a shot cotton lining with pocket, and a pink rose brooch.


And can be found here.


You may notice that my site has had a re-vamp.  I’ve changed the front page design and re-loaded all my product images so they are a bit larger.  It took forever (and there is still some to do) but it was worth it.  I often feel that my work is shown so much better here, on the blog, and on the actual sales page is a bit of a let-down and you can’t see the details or quality nearly as well.  I was also just bored and felt like a change.  The new, simpler layout with top menu is much better, it still needs a new banner though, I really must get around to that soon.


Oh, and as we’re on the subject of pink and green, I also added some new double pink roses.


All mounted up and ready to go.



Sunshine on a Rainy Day…

It’s truly miserable out there.  I have mentioned before, that I quite like rain and wintry weather, but scrap that, right now I’d be extremely happy to see some sunshine.  I’m bored with wet, cold, bleurgh weather.


In contrast to outside, my workbench has a much more summery feel.  Whilst attempting to use up existing fabrics, I came across some cute Cosmo Cricket fabric – Girl Friday, Flowers, in green.  I bought it last year, with a specific project in mind,  that has since been abandoned and it’s been sitting in my stash since, getting lonely.  I kind of fell in love all over again, especially with the sweet little buttercups and bees and as I was re-stocking linen mice, I couldn’t resist making a few extra.


The boys have sunny yellow shorts….and upside down petals! Doh!  The pattern runs in all directions and I have no idea how I managed to end up with mostly upside down blooms and insects on the boys ‘top’ but I did.  Never mind, still cute, I think.


For the girls, I made a slight change to the collars, in that I scalloped them, ideally I’d have also added a little ribbon bow in the middle, but then they would be less suitable for younger children (possible choke hazard), so sadly it can’t be.

DSC_0035It’s only a mini batch, but they are tagged and listed on my own site and girl Folksy.  I still need to finish making up some of the other, regular, linen boys and maybe another new colour girl, but I’m happier that this section of the shop is looking a bit healthier now.


I also completed the buttercup brooches.  Always a favourite, they spend most of the time ‘out of stock’ so it’s nice to have a batch of those done as well, although it’s taken me a few days to write this post so some are already gone.


I remembered to photograph the new Spring labels I had made last year from Moo.  These go onto the back of the packages of brooches and little birds, and I’m happy with their cheery colours, they seem very apt for Spring/Summer products.


I had a great weekend, hanging out a my sister’s, eating lovely food and being spoilt for my birthday.  I decided to dress up a bit and wore another ‘new’ vintage dress, this time the lovely green cotton number below, which came from Simplicity is Bliss Vintage (Etsy, US – I’ve used their photo).  I’m a bit in love with this frock, especially the colour, green with pink roses, it’s also great for throwing into the wash and hanging dry without the need for ironing.  I do like easy care vintage.

Let’s hope we get a change in the weather soon, I’d like to get out into the garden and tidy up, but right now I’d just sink into the mud.  The plus side is, it keeps me in the mood to work in winter products, so I’m getting ahead nicely there and I’m currently planning some sewing for myself that involves original 1940’s patterns and lots of tweed.  I do love a bit of tweed 🙂

Green Auriculas and Giveaway Winner…

It’s a beautiful day today, sunny and a little warmer than it has been, so I am looking forward to a potter in the garden later.  I plan to hunt for signs of spring in the borders, see exactly what has survived the winter (and the pesky squirrels and chafer grubs, who keep eating my bulbs).

DSC_0063 2

My recent sewing work has been echoing my need for spring.  Ever since I made the green auriculas for my tweed messenger bag, I figured they’d be a good addition to this year’s flower brooches and I’ve been carrying a tray of relevant hand sewing around with me for weeks.


I know these images have been popping up a lot in recent posts (sorry, there are other things on the go, not just new flower brooches) but with Mothers’ Day nearly upon us, I thought I’d better get a move on and get them completed and listed.


So, after a couple of days of frantic sewing, here they are,


and the backs


Even though we have had some quite clear days, with good light, they were difficult to photograph and to get the colours correct.  Most annoying as today is perfect for taking photographs but sadly too late, they are mounted on card and bagged up, so I could finally list them, here.


Whilst I was creating a new colour version of the auriculas, I also re-visited the original design of the burgundy ones.  When I made the recent brooches for tweed bags, I added a second yellow ring to the middle, I really like this as it adds a nice pop of colour to set off the mustard and dark red petals, so I decided to add this as a standard from now on.  There are a few of the original burgundy auriculas left, but I’ve popped these up on Folksy, with the new ones on my own site.  Please don’t think I’m treating Folksy as the poor cousin, it’s just easier for me to keep them separate, with the relevant photos in the right places this way.


I still need to finish up the latest batch of buttercups, which are currently out of stock, then I’m done with flower brooches for a while, it’ll be nice to tick one of my re-stock items off the (rather long) list.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 09.08.22

Which brings me nicely to the buttercup bag winner – number 1 was picked by the random number generator, I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘number 1’ picked before, so Fran of Patchy Rose, congratulations, I’ll email you for your address and get your purse into the post.  Thanks everyone that entered and for your lovely comments.  I hope to have another giveaway soon.


Finally, I wanted to show you this lovely parcel, that arrived last week, how nice is the wrapping!


It contains Claude the Cockerel, which I bought from Julie and Helen’s Folksy shop Haggiz.  I fell in love and as I’m about to start a week of solid house clearing and cleaning, I thought he’d brighten up the mantlepiece, along with some other birds I’ve collected over the years that come out to decorate the house near Easter (which I know is a bit away, but the boys like seasonal decorations so we tend to rather string them out).


Julie was extremely kind and added in an extra, in the form of a notepad and cover in what happens to be one of my favourite fabrics, as I was the first Folksy customer to Haggiz.  Perfect, I plan to put it into action this next week when I get a grip on the house and it’s contents.  I wont be getting much sewing done, but I do have some half written posts and things to show, so hopefully I’ll find time for that, but I know taking a week out to tidy and, essentially spring clean will make me feel so much fresher and calmer, so it’ll be worth it.

I’m off to the garden now to hunt for green shoots before starting Sunday lunch, I hope you’re having a lovely weekend 🙂

Tweed Flower Purses: Part 1…

I have spent the day, putting this lot ‘together’ and trying to get some decent photos as we have the best weather for that  – slightly cloudy, to reduce shadows, but with enough light to get clear colours.

I really do feel overly excited about these new purses as I’ve been working on them for nearly one and a half years.  That’s even worse than the acorn brooches, I’m sooooooooo slow.  In fact, their back story is long and might bore you so if you’re not interested, I suggest skipping to the end.  I’ve had to split the purses into 2 posts to try to shorten things.

So, back in Spring, 2011, when I made my first flower brooches, I had already thought that it would be an excellent idea to put them onto purses.  At the time, I was thinking more of a large bag, a bit like the a smaller version of the Amy Butler ‘Weekender’ bag (as above), but this idea tanked when I truly considered the cost of fabric, lining and zip, let alone the hours of making and creating my own design and pattern.  I realised no-one would want to pay the price it would cost to produce, so I had a re-think and decided to go for something much smaller.

In fact more on the scale of the Tweed Bunny Purses.  I really like these but it’s nice to mix things up a little and bunnies aren’t for everyone.  I wanted to take away the best bits and what I do love about them is the handle, having taken mine on many ‘outings’ I really appreciate being able to hang it from my arm, I also like the zip, but this may just be me, in fact I’ll get back to this point a little later on.

Over the summer of 2011, I played with lots of samples.  In my head the orignal purse was definitely made from tweed (of course!) and was always rounded so that’s where I started.  I wouldn’t normally work directly in the final fabric, especially wool, which can be quite expensive but in this case, part of the point of playing with samples was to see how the interlinings etc worked with the weight of the tweed, so I needed the real stuff.

There was a big stall here, as I became busy with winter products for 2011 and my grand plans to have the new purses ready for that season had to be abandoned.  It obviously stuck in my mind though, as the idea of using detachable flowers kept cropping up; for example, when I made myself a messenger bag , in February (blogged here).  This gave me the kick up the bum to get going again.  I wasn’t happy with the sample round shape, so I trawled my own vintage bag collection for inspiration and found this:

with it’s nice pleats!  Fab idea.  This led to the sample you can see in the bottom right, above.

Again, it wasn’t so easy.  There is an insane amount of ‘machine tacking’ going on to get those folds straight and even.  I managed to find a method that wasn’t awful to sew, below you can see a finished purse, before I removed the yellow tacking stitches.

Another issue is the bulk at the sides.  No matter how well I trim the interfacing away, at points the machine is expected to sew through very, very thick layers; more importantly, to go from a thin layer to a very thick one which causes some ‘pulling’ of the stitch.  The bags are triple stitched and sewn from both directions, so there is no way they are coming apart, but this imperfection annoys me.  Still, there is nothing I can do, the bonus is I notice the stitching is ‘settling’ down over time as the seams relax into their new shape.

I had fun choosing the lining fabrics.  This is where I used up all my Cloud 9 ‘Leaves’ before remembering I needed it for the recent Lavender Birds, resulting in a hasty Etsy search to track down the last bit ever – duh!  Inside, the bags each has a small pocket, I figured it’s a good idea to have somewhere to put your credit card so it doesn’t get scratched.

Next I had fun working out which flower brooches to use.  I settled on a grouping of three auriculas for the green tweed bag version.

It has a second ring of felt in the middle, which is slightly different to the other auricula Flower Brooches that I sell, in fact I like it so much, if I make any more I’ll incorporate this idea.

The leaves are also different, I needed something a bit plainer as the tweed I normally use is the same as the bag body.  I spent far too much money on wool, trying to get a shade of green I liked.  This one cost nearly £40/meter!!! and I’m not even that keen.  Still the leaves take up such a small amount it goes a very long way and I’ll make sure I use the remainder for something extra special.

Here’s the final bag

and to try and give you some idea of the size, me attempting to hold it whilst trying to photograph it with the other hand.

I also made a dark brown version, with a pink zip and pink flowers.

and a lining in ‘Dogwood Bloom Harvest’ by Joel Dewberry .

As you can see, the brooches are a good size.  They are made with the same care and attention as all my flower brooches and have similar ‘tidy’ backs.

Problems.  I’m not sure the zips will be for everyone, I did think lots about having a bag ‘flap’ instead, with a magnetic snap or similar, but I like that if it’s on it’s side, swinging from your arm, nothing can accidentally fall out (like those diamond earrings you popped into the pocket for wearing later…hey, a girl can dream!).  I also thought about all the different ways of inserting a zip.  The basic method I’ve used works the best, as it keeps the layering of heavy fabric and lining to a minimal at either end, and I deliberately didn’t top stitch it down on the sides as I don’t like how that looks in this case, but it smacks rather of a posh pencil case and I’m not sure that reflects all the work involved, especially in lining up the pleats and getting them even.

Pricing.  God I hate pricing things up.  So, after a LOT of asking around, researching on Etsy etc, totting up the fabric and the hours, these have gone on at £30.  I just can’t make them for less, in fact I lose out a bit here (in the making time part, I try to make sure I earn a reasonable wage for this bit) so these will definitely be a seasonal thing, if I do ever make them again.  I am not a great business women in this way, I quite often get drawn into the enjoyment of designing and making something and can over complicate things.  I find it hard to balance out what a ‘customer’ might want, both in the product and price versus the detail I would like to add.

You can find them here, along with the acorn version which I’ll blog about next (part 2!).


So when did these first appear?  Back in September 2011 I blogged them for the first time and even then, I’d been working on/thinking about them for a year.

They then appeared again twice more, used as decorations on wrap gifts and lots of you lovely folk asked me when they would be arriving in the shop…..I optimistically said that winter.  Sadly it didn’t happen as I just got snowed under with lots of other projects and the acorns proved to take a lot longer to make than I had anticipated.  I had to spread out felting the balls (for the acorn body) as the whole soap hot water/cold water thing makes my hands itch like crazy, and sewing the cups was a nice little bit of therapeutic hand sewing, but it did take a while for each acorn so I decided to spread it out over the spring and summer months.

Also, I figured that brooches might be a better thing than hanging decorations and this is where I’ve dragged a bit on listing them.  I did manage to make up quite a few brooches, but the hanging ones I made were snaffled up by family and friends before they were even mounted on cards.  I’d hoped to make more but I’m being realistic about time so figured I’d just get what I have put into the shop and if I do get more hanging ones done – bonus.

Ah those group shots do make me happy.

This gives and idea of the size.  You know, the acorns kind of make me giggle as they remind me of comedy ‘boobs’ in a Beryl Cook kind of way.  Perhaps that’s just my mind and not something I should share, but there you go.

So they are now, finally, listed.  Sorry it took so long and if you’re in the market for a new tweed purse you might want to hang on a bit as I have some coming with an acorn brooches attached, I just need to take the photos (although they will retail at about £30, maybe a bit more when I price them out).

Oh and there are 2 hanging ones left, here.