Waving the flag…

 

I’ve not had a lot of time this week for blogging (reading or writing), I’ve been very lucky to have a few blog awards passed along (thank you ladies, you know who you are) which I do need to attend to but right now, I want to make sure this post gets written and actually published, whilst I remember.

Catherine over at Original Stitch has written a great post about buying British handmade, she is collecting comments on her blog from British makers with the plan to pick one at  random, buy one of their products and use it for a blog giveaway.  Great idea, don’t you think?  So do please pop over there, have a read and get involved and ideally visit the other lovely makers who have left their details.

And so, I wanted to list some of my favourite buys from UK artists.  Sorry if I’ve bought from you but not included your work, I have such a huge iPhoto library it was quite difficult finding images and as you’ll see there are often repeat artists, I do go back for more when I’ve bought something I like, I make no apologies for this!  I don’t buy handmade for the sake of it, I buy it because there are some amazing pieces of work out there made by super, talented people and while most of the below are Folksy sellers, I also shop on Etsy, from makers Worldwide, maybe good for a post another day?

Traffic Jam Bunting by nickynackynoo

British biscuit box by Treaclezoo

Doris and Sydney by Sarah Carr

Pocket mirror, one of many purchases from Hide n Seek/Hidden Eloise

Stained Glass Bird by Through the Round Window

Crochet Flower Necklace (or bracelet) by Isamo Crochet

Silver Cuff by Jemima Lumley

Children’s pencil Scarf, again by Sarah Carr

Jemima Lumley, sadly these weren’t for me, but gifts for my family, I’d happily buy Jemima’s entire shop

the best and most loved Superhero costume by iwishiwasa…

Fox brooch by Joanna Rutter

Locket, again from Hide n Seek/Hidden Eloise

Robot Cushion, yet again by Sarah Carr (I  promise, I don’t get commission)

Hand pulled Pug notebooks by Sarah Waterhouse

Remembrance Poppy by Wychbury

I think I’ll stop there, I could keep hunting and listing many lovely things I’ve bought from UK sellers and if I covered the rest of the world we’d be here for some time.  Sorry for the quick post, I had intended to spend more time explaining why I buy handmade but to be honest I feel pretty sure everyone reading this post already knows.  Besides, I’m super busy running a children’s Tudor Costume sweatshop here at Rock Cottage HQ, no actual children are involved (except for modeling purposes), just me and my need to over think things, more in the next post 🙂

Superhero thanks…!

It’s about time I wrote F’s thank you cards for his Birthday presents, I haven’t had much time but I sat down this morning and they didn’t take long.

One of F’s presents was this totally amazing costume made by the very talented Tamsin of iwishiwas… , F had seen the outfit on my laptop and had fallen in love, so when my sister asked what he would like for his Birthday, this was top of his list.  Tamsin was great as he was quite specific about the colours and she kindly made sure he got exactly what he wished for.  As you can see he took the posing very seriously!

With some added stickers and my trusty corner cutter I have his cards ready to write.  I did try to photoshop the speech bubble but lost my will to live after about half an hour and opted for simply printing them into my usual label stickers and cutting them out.  Hey, it works.  All I have to do now it try to get F to sign them :/

Easter Bunnies…

I mentioned a while ago about buying some tweed that arrived smelling rather musty, it was no use for the intended project  but I knew straight away I would like to use it for making tweed bunny purses

All the tweed has been washed, which has slightly thickened it (a bonus in this case) and I’ve made up a batch of four to see how they go in the shop (not yet listed but due on Folksy soon) and maybe I’ll tweak the design a little.  I haven’t made a purse before but I have made bags so have a pretty good idea of interlinings etc and it was great fun trying out the different processes.

I made a little extra work for myself by using concealed zips but I think they look really nice and tidy

and I lined up the fabric on either side which looks pretty neat

the insides are lined in ‘Snow Flower’ fabric by Westminster which I was saving for next Christmas but it was so perfect for the job.  What do you mean, they look a lot like a certain golden wrapped confectionary available in every store at this time of year?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Oh, OK, it’s not mere chance, I was eating a mini one when the tweed arrived and I thought, “now there’s an idea for Easter”, which no doubt you will have noticed I am too late for, serves me right for taking so long to put a thought into action.  Still, next year I can pretty much guarantee a golden linen or tweed version complete with bell.

I wasn’t sure about the face and how much to do so opted for some understated whiskers and bead eyes, I always notice that the glass bead eyes make the Bright Birds come ‘alive’ so I figured it might work here.  I also added a detachable wrist strap, this was in the plan from the beginning, either in case bought for children (less lightly to lose) or if used by a grown up for, say, a Wedding as I hate trying to hold a purse and glass of champagne at the same time 😉  I write this because I am desperately waiting for someone to have an Autumn or Winter Wedding so I can wear either of these,

both of which I made on Millinery courses at the London College of Fashion, many years ago when I wanted to brush up and improve on skills learnt on my Degree, I rather liked the idea of setting myself up as a Milliner, something I might still do down the line.

Right, enough, time to go and look after the boys and think about their tea.  Was that Spring by the way?  has it been and gone and we are now in Autumn?  Oh, so British, always moaning about the weather!

Early Christmas Celebrations…

It’s been a slightly odd and busy few days, F missed his last day of school due to an overnight pile of snow and everywhere closing up.  It was a good 20 cm, which for Kent is a lot, in fact the most I’ve seen here ‘down South’ and despite the sun it’s still with us, as I write it’s all rather dripping and wet but still quite thick on the ground so I think we’ll have a few more days of snowiness yet.

I closed my shops last Thursday, which was lucky considering it was Thursday night the snow came, some of the last packages to go were the Foxy Twins, for which I made an additional butterfly lavender bag (to my original lavender bag design, set to make a come back in the New Year).  Thanks everyone for bidding on them (and Nicky for winning – hope they have arrived OK).

Another order going out last week were these Linen Cats, I couldn’t help but think they went very nicely together as I was packing them up

I am now running very low on Linen Boys but I have packed up the sewing machine until after the New Year, so replenishing the shop will wait.

I finally finished the last Roman Blind for my sister’s cottage in Yorkshire, altogether there have been 6 to make and they are VERY large, about 230 cm wide which is about as big as you can go with Roman Blinds.  The last two (for her kitchen) had stripes of my favourite Linen from Tinsmith on the sides so I used it as an excuse to buy a little for myself, it’s expensive but I have a special project in mind for next Spring.  As always, Mr C ‘helped’, he likes to drive his car up and down the lines, complete with F’s Gormitis inside as he only gets to play with them when F is at school (this is not a posed shot, I came back into the kitchen to find the car as photographed).

The blinds are now on their way to Yorkshire with my brother who has just been to visit us for the weekend.  We were very happy to see him (especially the boys, he is F’s new BF), he rarely gets away from the farm as it’s hard to find someone willing to look after it for a couple of days and he still made the journey despite the snow, so we were very pleased.  As my sister lives around the corner but is away for Christmas we had an early pretend lunch, complete with all the trimmings followed by some snowy antics outside and a little competitive brother/sister snow fight (I stood inside watching and taking photos which seemed like the best option to me).

All in all it’s been a great weekend, it’s becoming increasingly rare for me to see my brother and sister at the same time and we had such a nice day, I am now looking forward to a nice quiet Christmas with just M and the boys and hopefully some time to relax, we have such a lot to be grateful for and I feel very happy and contented right now.  I hope you have all had a nice weekend and f I don’t post again and for those who celebrate it, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Boxes, boxes, everywhere…

By 10 am today this little stash was sitting on the kitchen table

it would appear that all the Christmas things ordered are on their way (if you’re wondering what the fabric on the right is, it’s Roman blinds I am making for my sister – more on that later), it’s the result of the postman and a number of delivery men all coming in a row and a frenzied online ordering session after a recent trip to Bluewater (our best option for ‘real’ shopping) reminding me I have no plans to go there again until next Spring!  Now, the eagle-eyed will spot a number of Amazon boxes and I’ll admit, hands up, I do order from Amazon, to be fair, I also buy a lot of handmade and this years presents are the usual mix.  Those who read my blog often will know I made this bag for my sister (the blue one at the front)

along with a matching tweed lavender bird to decorate the packing (see here for all the info) and I had planned to make one for my Mother as her main present but I just haven’t had time, so I’ve been shopping in one of my favourite places instead

Jemima Lumley Jewellery, my Mother mentioned liking the hanging bird necklace in the past, in fact I have one of Jemima’s necklaces on my Christmas ‘Wish List’, well it’s the only thing there at the moment so finger crossed.

The boys have new pencil scarves from Sara Carr, another of my favourite designers and I’ve ordered some of M’s presents from other Folksy designers but I’ll wait for these to arrive before blogging.

As a little gift to myself (naughty! tut, tut) I picked up this large ‘weekender’ bag today from the village gift shop,

It’s by Gisela Graham and is ultimately intended to store fabric in but for now I have filled it with the contents of this mornings boxes so I can keep them safe from prying eyes, until I get the chance to do some wrapping.

I feel a bit relaxed as pretty much all my Christmas shopping is done and I have been re-preparing for the day itself, over at Rock Cottage Year, although in the way of the best made plans an all that my Borther is now coming to visit (he rarely gets time off, being a Yorkshire farmer) next weekend so we will be having a Pre-Christmas, Christmas lunch, along with my sister (they are all ‘Up North’ for the day itself) to celebrate.

Lastly, the Foxes are doing well in the Sue Ryder Folksy Upcycle auction (see last post), I’m really pleased they are proving popular and look forward to boxing them up and sending them to their new home once the auction is complete.

Folksy Upcycle Competition Update…

The votes are in, the special Folksy Upcycle  Ebay Auction is on (for one week, I believe) and the winners have been announced here.

I am very pleased to see Flora’s fabulous stained glass panel, ‘Winter Girl’ in the runners up list, it’s my favourite and I am happily bidding on it here.

I also love (and yes, am bidding on) this lovely Wool Felt Cocktail Hat

by Lupin Handmade.

This Upcycled Stationary by Bee Art is great.  I love the simple but very effective use of an old copy of ‘ The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ (My Mother bought this book when it first came out, I remember it well). It’s here for bidding.

This is such an elegant looking origami necklace from Sian Bostwick Jewellery (bid for it here).

And this bag and wrist warmers (Moon/moth, bid here) by Kettle of Fish have to get a mention.

There are really so many great designs, too many to list, you should go and check them out and maybe bid on one or two, it is after all for charity (Sue Ryder).  Oh and don’t forget the Foxy Twins are also up for grabs 😉

Obviously, if you are reading this and the bidding links are broken, sorry, the bidding must be over, but the shop links should still work!

Folksy Upcycle Competition – Foxy Twins…

I have finally finished my entry for the Folksy Christmas Upcycle Competition which is being run to raise money for the Sue Ryder Care Charity, with all the entries being put into an auction to run from 7th – 13th December.  I had hoped to make something different to my ‘usual’ work, such as re-blocking and decorating an old felt hat or making some new/old clothes (I don’t get to use my millinery or pattern cutting skills very often), I even considered making a corset based on a period pattern.  Could have, would have…but didn’t.

My final decision was largely influenced the materials I found in our local village charity shops plus I have foxes on the brain at the moment as they keep wandering around our garden.  So, here we have the Foxy Twins, Florian and Florence.

They started life as a polyester fleece shirt, a rather lovely floral cotton lawn shirt and a blue cord skirt all from the ‘Heart of Kent Hospice’ charity shop, bought especially for the occasion (£5 + £3.50 + £3.50).

To this I added some floral fabric bought last year from the ‘Mind’ charity shop  (£3.50…I think most things are priced £3.50!), polyester stuffing from an old cushion, which meets safety regulations I should add and some wool on the tail from my scrap box.

Florence has a cute dress with straps and blue shirring running along the top and a cape with collar made from the cord skirt, lined with the floral fabric and old Laura Ashley ribbons stitched together for ties.

Florian has smart trousers made from the cord skirt in a sailor style, with shell buttons taken from the shirt (the popper fastening came from a stash belonging to my Gran so must be rather old).  He also wears a top made from the lovely (honestly, I didn’t really want to cut it up) blue floral shirt with bias binding trim.

There was a lot of morphing along the way, the original foxes were front facing and I had planned a skirt for Florence with a shirring top, but I am happy with the result.  It was a fun project and it is after all for charity!

Where did they go…?

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

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

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

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

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

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but my finished Bunnies were most definitely cute enough

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

Linen, Silk and Sweet Peas…

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

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

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

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

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

Folksy Featured Sellers for June…

After the pleasure of being a Folksy Featured Seller for May, I have had my name picked out of a hat to choose the Sellers for June.  It wasn’t as easy as I had initially thought, there are so many talented people selling on Folksy, the more I looked, the harder the choice.  Also quite a few people don’t meet the criteria (for instance having a minimum of five items for sale), but after neglecting my boys (not really!) in favour of my laptop for a few days here is my list:

 

Seduction_3Folksy

 

Hide n Seek – I became a bit obsessed whilst viewing this shop, needing to look at every beautiful illustration in detail.  I was instantly taken back to my childhood with memories of old story books full of fairytales that I used to read, worlds I wanted to live in.  I especially love the postcards, great to collect.

 

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Jemima Lumley Jewellery – Jemima makes stunning jewellery with bird, butterfly and flower details.  I am fascinated by her idea of rolling sheets of silver with vintage lace and have already added a number of her pieces to my ‘Favourites’ list.

 

strawberry-mirors-square

 

Plain Jane Textiles – I love Sarah’s range of quirky and environmentally friendly hand-printed textiles.  I like the bright, retro style and the simple designs.  The new hand printed notebooks are a must as is this cute mirror.

 

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Treaclezoo – Don’t these look good enough to eat? Along with crochet jammy dodgers, party rings and many more, it practically makes my mouth water.  There are also plenty of cute amigurumi animals and dinky strawberry charms to choose from.  Loads of fun!

I really enjoyed being one of the May Sellers, so thanks Folksy and good luck to everyone in June.