Mrs Fox in Green…and a small rant about cycle helmets

The weather this week is totally freaky.  For those that have seen photos of my studio, you’ll know it has a wall of glass that allows me to look out into the garden and mist into a dream world when I should be working ;), this week it has been tipping it down in half the garden whilst sunny and dry in the other half.  Wierd.  Today it’s just tipping it down and as it’s so wet, I’ve just given M a lift to the station because he broke his wrist yesterday in yet another bike accident.  I’ve said this before, but if you are a road cyclist, please, please, please wear a helmet.  M and I disagree in this, he doesn’t think it should be compulsory and he probably does know more about it than me, but having seen another totally smashed up helmet, I am very grateful he was wearing one.

So, I was going to take some pretty pictures of new flower brooches but in this gloom, that’s not going to happen, instead I’m going to show you a project from the summer that I already have photos of – Mrs Foxes in Green.

This is my original Mrs Fox, minus her cape.  She has a shirring halter-neck dress, in liberty tana lawn.  This has always posed some problems, the shirring is on such a small scale, I have to be very carefull to get the stretch just right, otherwise the dress is easily too tight or too loose, and tana lawn is too fine a fabric to cope with much unpicking!

When I made new foxes last winter, I made the green capes ready for a Green Mrs to go with the then new Mr Foxes but that was a far as I got with the girls.  I was too busy making up Purple and Blue versions and ran out of time for Green ones.

Shuffle forward to July, when I found myself making up new foxes as part of my ‘get ahead’ list for this winter.  I decided to have a re-think on the girl dresses and after a play around,

I came up with a dress very similar to the ones I made for the cashmere bunnies, so a kind of simple neck tie dress, with arm holes and in the case of Foxes, also a large space for the tail.

I found some pale green cotton lawn for the lining and I had hoped to sandwich some broderie anglaise lace between this and the liberty tana lawn, but realised I wouldn’t be able to get it to do the tight curve above the tail space so opted for some cotton ric-rac instead.

It works really well, I think, and I’m pleased with the final result.

Otherwise the design is the same.  Same cape and a hand woven flower in the ‘hair’.

Here she is dressed.

And with the cape.

And hanging out with Mr Fox – I think they make quite a dashing pair!

They are listed here, along with the other foxes, including the remaining Mrs in Blue and Purple.

Last Foxes listed…

Blimey, it’s all getting a bit hectic around here.  I am desperately trying to finish and list all my Winter products, they have their own section on the shop.  To be honest, there is still a lot of tweaking going on at my site and I really need to update the photos on the front page and change some of the shop pages but for now

Mrs Fox in Blue and Berries (only 2 left)

Mr Fox in Dandy Blue (1 available here and the last one on Folksy)

And Mrs Fox in Purple and Mirabelle, are all now listed for sale.

Sadly, all the purple Mr Foxes have already sold 😦

That’s all for today, a quickie but I need to get back to work or Ballerina and Fairy Mice wont get made and the Tweed Bunny Purses will never get listed.

Finally *drumroll please* we have Foxes…

The above photo was taken back in mid September and it’s taken me a while to complete my Mr & Mrs Foxes, rather longer than expected (I blame those pesky kids ;)) but over the past few weeks I have made stacks of little clothing,

stitched many noses (one of my favourite bits as it gives each Fox a slightly different personality),

shirred lots of Liberty Tana Lawn and then (the best bit) finally dresses the Foxes!

Mrs Fox has a dress similar to my Wool Bunnies, shirred Tana Lawn with ties that fasten behind the neck to form a halterneck dress.

She then has a woven flower in her hair and, of course, a linen cape lined in green brushed cotton.

Mr Fox, the purple version is just as dandy as the blue, I don’t like to have favourites but if pushed, it has to be said that I am rather in love with this dark plum linen, especially teamed with the Mirabelle patterened lawn.

As with everything I make that might be played with by children, all seams are double stitched (except for top stitching) and where appropriate overlocked, and the stuffing Conforms to British Standard Regulation.  It should be noted though, that there are beads and small parts so the Foxes are not suitable for children under 36 months.  Clothing is washable by hand, I recommend washing the linen separately as it’s hand dyed and as I haven’t wash tested the tweed, I am opting for ‘surface clean only’.

You should have received and email from me, if you’ve asked in the past to be notified once the Foxes are complete, if I’ve missed you off my list, really, really sorry just pop me a message via this blog and I’ll get back to you.

Foxes cost £30 plus £3 P&P, hopefully some will make it to Folksy and my on-line store, they may cost a little more when they do and I do have quite a few pre-orders, but if you would like one now, I am happy to raise a PayPal invoice via email and pop one in the post to you.  Oh, finally they are 36 cm high by 32 cm (which includes their little tails).

Well, that’s all a bit blurby isn’t it? (today is making up words day :)) but I know that quite a few people are waiting on these and I want to make sure all the relevant info is here.

I was going to wait until each one is ordered before dressing them, I have become rather attached and I do love the dressing bit best, that and adding the final details (such as the flower in the hair), but I had a rough couple of weeks with the boys being ill and treated myself to a Fox dressing session, which cheered me no end.  With all my Foxes ready to go to new homes, I finally have time to de-fluff (remember, it is making up words day) the studio and attempt a tidy up. To top off my day, M is back and Friday night is takeaway night so I get to sneak upstairs soon and have an evening off and for the first time in a while, relax 🙂

Work in Progress: Foxes…

I’ve been matching up ears

stitching tails

making neat little piles of mini clothing (you all know how I love neat little piles of work!)

and I’m so nearly there but just ran out of thread.  Rats.  Oh well.

I really want to get some more of my list reduced so I’ve spent most of this first child (ish) free week working on Foxes in the second colour way.  I so enjoyed stitching the dark heather capes whilst in Yorkshire and wanted to continue with these lovely Autumnal tones.

The second colour way is based on the tweed I had and some Liberty Tana Lawn bought especially for the job.  It’s one of my favourite prints – Mirabelle – but in the plum/olive colours, not everyones choice but I love it, I have a bit of a thing about luscious deep purples.  I then couldn’t decide on green or dark plum for the linen, but decided to reach for the ‘Burlesque Red’ dye by Dylon as I had some in stock and have been desperate to use it (all the linen for the fox clothing is hand dyed).

So sadly, I need to order new thread but I think the break is welcome, the studio needs de-fluffing after a week of tweed work, it has a tendency to get everywhere and I have a little ‘me’ project I would like to do tomorrow.  But there will be Foxes, soon, I promise 🙂

Holiday, Part Two…

We are coming to the end of our holiday and I am a little sad to say the least.  I have discovered that although I couldn’t have run away fast enough at 18, I now miss the countryside (and people) of the Dales quite badly, especially when it is looking so beautiful dressed in it’s late Summer colours.

We have fallen into a very relaxed routine, every day M does the early shift with the boys and later goes back to bed.  This leaves me a couple of hours to sew in peace (if you ignore the continuous demands of the boys, I try to anyway :)) and I sit at the kitchen table, with a great view of the heather moors of Burnsall, sewing little heather coloured capes; even the dark green linings are the perfect ‘Dales Moor’ green.

I have also been doodling new label designs (I hated the text in the one above, although it’s intended to be naive looking, it wasn’t quite right, but you get the idea).

We’ve been lucky with the weather and despite a few rainy moments, the sun has been shining.

There have been picnics by the river.  Above is up at Yockenthwaite which is very near Hubberholme and Beckermonds (where one side of my family used to farm) and which I blogged about on my last visit.  It’s where the river Wharfe creates pools amongst the rocks and is safe for little boys to play without worry of them being swept away.

I’ve also managed one proper long walk (12 miles!).  ‘Gran’ offered to have the boys for a day, M chose to drive to a bike shop (I think he’s visited every bike shop in Yorkshire on this trip) then went on a long ride and I packed up M’s camera bag (I hadn’t brought a backpack and M came up with the genius idea to take his camera bag, he laughed about my making room for a bag of crisps and some Bendicks Bittermints when space was a premium, but hey, a girl needs a treat when she stops for her lunch after such a long walk – right?!) and set of to Grimwith reservoir.

I would have liked some decent photos, but sadly my iPhone camera just isn’t up to it (as you can see, sorry about the quality).  I forget just how many wild flowers there are up here, I always remember dry stone walls and green but not the masses of beautiful flowers.

I’d planned to walk up to the reservoirs on Embsay Moor which are covered in heather, but as my brother pointed out; although it’s unlikely I could be mistaken as a grouse, it is shooting season and these Moors are closed to walkers.

As you can see, I still managed to get near the heather and also sneaked into Grimwith House, which stands derelict and if I’m honest rather sad looking by the water.  It’s where my Gran’s family came from, although they had already sold it on when the reservoir was extended in 1970 and the house abandoned.

And so, we have one day left, it’s a bit wet and windy and we plan to do our final family visits and then start packing up.  I really will be sad to leave, but I’m itching to sew and I know there are quite a few parcels waiting for me at home, including some Muji storage boxes so plenty to look forward to and lots of goodies to show you on our return 🙂

Introducing my Fantastic Mr Fox…

Huge thank you for your comments on the last post, they were very helpful and I’d rather lost my perspective, as sometimes happens when you’ve been looking at the same design for a while.  The general opinion was to stick with the original eye (Jenny, you are right in that the smaller eye does stand out more in ‘real life’) but maybe a little larger so that’s what I’ve gone with.  Also, thanks to everyone who has dropped by the Folksy interview, I was really pleased to read such encouraging comments, made me smile.

And so, on with the post.

As with everything I make, there always seems a need/excuse for more supplies; in the case of the foxes it was buttons.

You’d think I have enough by now as my shelf is lined with glass jars filled with beads, buttons and bits and pieces but I wanted them to be ‘just right’, the details are very important to me.

In the end I actually went with a smaller, more simple button, as you do (but the new ones are perfect for the Linen Cats so will get used) and here is the finished Mr Fox, with his clothing.

His pants took quite a while to cut, not necessarily the pattern, but the construction process.  I am a bit finicky about raw seams and even with my trusty overlocker, prefer them to be hidden but I’m happy with the results, the side button fastens over the tail and they are constructed of 2 layers of linen with all the seams hidden.

I am rather in love with the Liberty Lawn cravat, and his little waistcoat is lined with red herringbone brushed cotton to match.

Details, details, details…..I think I might need help!

The boys were amazing yesterday afternoon, allowing me to sew; sadly they were a little less patient this morning whilst I tried to photograph Mr Fox so these images are rather rushed, but I’m aware blogging time will be limited for the next few weeks and wanted to get this post written before the first Fox goes off in the post (I wasn’t kidding when I said I have pre-orders).

Hope you like him 🙂

Little Foxes…

I have been planning many of my Winter products for some time now, in fact a few since last Autumn when I realised I wouldn’t get everything done that season and these ideas are always buzzing around the back of my mind.

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember the Foxy Twins(as above) which I made last November for the Folksy Upcycle Competition, it was a given that I would make them for the shop this year so I’ve been on the look out for the perfect tweed.

I found these two a while back on ebay and bought a few meters of each.  I would have preferred something ‘softer’ ideally, such as the cashmere wool that I make the Bears from but price is also a factor and I really did want a wool tweed base for the bodies.

So here are the first run at the new Foxes, they are made using the original pattern, with a little tweaking, which in turn was based on the Wool Bunnies.

I still have to draft a pattern for the dresses and choose the final fabric, although it will come from my stash of Tana Lawn, which for now I have narrowed down to the final few as above.

I spent some time this afternoon drafting the cape pattern and working up a sample.  It has a curved bottom, unlike the original and a lining from the sweetest red herringbone brushed cotton (again, something I bought in bulk from ebay).  It’s missing it’s ribbon ties at the moment as I didn’t have anything suitable, but you get the idea…

and it’s still quite snug (as planned) but I wanted to make a ‘one pattern’ cape that will also fit the Wool Bunnies and can maybe be sold as an extra.

OK, apparently the boys have fallen asleep in record time (less than 15 mins) which is cause for celebration so I’m off to pour a glass of wine.  I will be making teachers gifts this weekend so I’ll write a little about those once done, have a great weekend 🙂

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!

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!