Foxes, badgers and MORE foxes…

I know there were supposed to be more Christmas things coming, but I got distracted by foxes and badgers, I’m afraid (sorry to anyone who was waiting).BetsyPinkFox2I sold out of all ‘Woodland Animals’ after the Badgers were in Country Living so it seemed right to make more. It was originally an experiment in how long it takes to make them (let’s just put it this way, I am earning waaaaayyyyy below minimum wage) but I just kept going with new colour versions, as they were selling as quickly I could list them.PinkFoxTwinsFirst, there were some pink ‘Betsy’ boys. I’m not sure why I’ve never made pink fox suits before, it seems like a winner and they flew straight out of the shop.DSC_02791Then, after Saffa asked on Instagram if I might be making some girls I thought I would, so I made some pink caped lady foxes only I went with ‘Mirabelle’ as the print instead of Betsy. I LOVE Mirabelle, it’s one of my favourite Liberty lawns, there’s something about the strawberries and flowers on the white background that really works for me.MrsFoxPinkMirabelleI haven’t made girls for ages and it was quite good fun. They have red ric-rac sandwiched between the hem and I used some crochet flowers I already had rather than making new ones with my Hana flower maker. One flew straight off to the Netherlands!MrFoxBrightBlueNext, came a batch of bright blue boys. MrFoxBrightBlue2All the linen is offcuts from apron making and it felt really good to finally use it up. I have a habit of keeping all of my trimmings (in this case, quite big bits of trimmings, so well worth keeping!) but I can go a bit overboard with my reluctance to throw things away. The tweed wool for the bodies was also the final length and I (forced myself to) throw the scrap bag of leftovers from this once I’d finished my last fox. They really were little bits that were too small for even fox ears so it felt quite good to finally say goodbye to the bag which has sat in my scrap drawer for years now.

BadgersThere was a little badger interlude here as I’d had quite a few emails asking if I’d make more so I did one last batch of those.IMG_20181204_140320One of the reasons I made new foxes over badgers or wolves is so I didn’t have to make the brooches. It isn’t that I don’t like them, in fact, I think they finish the animals’ suits off in style, it’s simply that they take a really long time to make (they take the same time as a full-sized flower brooch) and I don’t really charge much extra, so it really is a labour of love.DSC_0318There was¬†one exception. A lovely lady has bought a lot of the Woodland Animals asked if I could make a red fox in mustard. I pretty much never make to order as my life can get a little stressed and I hate the idea of letting anyone down so I decided years ago to always say no, but as I was making badgers in mustard anyway I figured I would make an exception (and I was happy to do so, I should add!)MrFoxMustardMr Mustard Fox got a special Liberty Betsy cravat in a colourway I imported from Japan. I only have a short length of it but it was perfect with the yellow linen. I then made a matching green auricula brooch. I have to say, I was really pleased with him….it’s a bit of a shame the weather was so crappy and dark so I couldn’t get a decent photo but he’s gone off to his new home.

Most of the foxes and badgers are gone now, I think there is a pink girl left and a blue boy, but that is all. I need a break from them now and I don’t plan to make more, certainly not in the near future but then I said that in my last post so never say never!

Screenshot 2018-11-23 at 14.16.26

In a feeble attempt to kick my social media mojo back into action I have finally started a Facebook page I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep it up, I think I just want to see what works best and I’ve not tried FB yet so you never know, it might be a winner! Time will tell ūüôā

Green Foxes and Country Living

I’m ridiculously pleased to have made it into Country Living magazine this month with Mr Badger.MrBadgerCountryLivingI’m very lucky that I’ve been in the magazine before (a few times, actually) but not for some time. In fact, I think it’s a lot harder to get into magazines in general these days, there is so much competition in the handmade market that it’s difficult to stand out and it’s increasingly important to keep up any marketing which is an area I really struggle to find the passion to maintain.il_570xN.509627634_4hdz

It’s given me a well needed kick up the bum to get on with some neglected jobs including listing some things that have been finished for a while but where I simply hadn’t edited the photos (it all takes sooooooo long!)IMG_20170607_135833So, welcome, Mr Fox (in a Green Dandy Suit!).DSC_0003These started with some amazing Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought and imported from Japan. Why are all the nicest Tana Lawns only available abroad? I’ve never figured this out, it seems wrong, especially as it’s such an iconic British brand. Anyway, at much expense my single meter arrived (back in 2010!!!) and it was yelling animal cravats at me, so that’s what I made.GreenFox1With the addition of real leather buttons (I bought the entire remaining stock from Cath Kidston a few years ago when they went into the sale at a silly low price – one of my best buys as before that a lot of the leather buttons I used were vintage and they were getting hard to source at a sensible price).MrFoxNewGreen3There isn’t a lot else to add. Of all the foxes I’ve made, these are my favourite combination (but they don’t beat the wolves!), I really do adore the cravat fabric and bright green is very much my colour. They seem like a summer animal to me.FoxesIt’s likely that the remaining ‘Woodland Animals‘ will be my last.

I love them and they are very much in keeping with The Linen Cat.¬†DSC_0269I’ve been making them in some form or another since 2010, but they take an enormous amount of time to make and the fabric alone is quite expensive so there is little profit.DSC_0017They really are a labour of love.DSC_0019There are still a few to be found in the shop (the badgers are almost gone now!) and some were moved into the Sale section a while ago so there is a bargain of two to be found there.DSC_0017Christmas things are coming next!

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.

Foxes 2011…

I am having a deja vu as my desk is cluttered with fox bodies and linen clothing and I have spent the last couple of day stitching noses.

I tried hard to get ahead on these and have been making the clothing for many months, a bit at a time.  I do really enjoy seeing everything piled up together ready to go, it gives me a great sense of achievement.

I have only made a few of each colour, although I enjoy making the clothing, I find making the bodies quite hard; sewing large amounts of tweed fills my workspace with fluff and there are quite a lot of repetitive processes with a few grrr moments. ¬†Sewing the noses was very satisfying though as it always seems to make each Fox come alive and have it’s own personality (I know they are only softies, don’t worry I don’t talk to them or anything….I save that for the cat ūüėČ )

I have added a new Mr Fox, in a lovely green linen (hand dyed as always) with cravats in Liberty ‘Poppy & Daisy’ tana lawn. ¬†I really like this combination, I can’t help but notice that the green/purple/pink combination is popping up a lot in my work, I hope to add some girls at some point but to be honest I need a Fox break for a few weeks and feel it’s time I moved onto other projects, also all late and urgent feeling.

I really enjoy the finished Foxes, they are just right some how, they mix my love of vintage, tweed, and a simple design style perfectly and I feel that they really sum up what I am trying to create at The Linen Cat. ¬†I also really like that they are seasonal, they do feel like an Autumn/Winter product and it’s nice to have some variation in the shop content throughout the year.

Blimey some of you are quick off the mark, I’ve already had two emails about orders as I’m writing this post and I only listed them last night! ¬†Right, they can be found in the Winter Specials section and an extra Mrs on Folksy.

I’m taking the day off sewing to design new labels and then clean. ¬†I know, it’s a miracle ūüėČ

Badgers next.

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 ūüė¶

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

Not waving…

It’s all suddenly got a bit hectic around here. ¬†Some of you lovely readers pre-ordered Mr Foxes, so I’ve finished and packed a couple more of those up (more on that later) and yesterday I sent this package on it’s way

to the Saint Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex in Armagh. ¬†As most of you know, I keep dodging the wholesale question, mainly because there is not enough profit for me to sell at wholesale prices with my current designs and fabrics. ¬†It’s high on my list to correct, however Joy kindly offered me a deal that works within my budget and earlier this year I sent off some Linen Cats and Lavender Bags; the above is a re-order, which I am thrilled about.

The garden is taking up a lot of time as I try to keep up with the produce.  Above are sloes (they ripen very early down here) destined for sloe gin to keep our supplies up

and the cutting patch is also in full flow. ¬†Today, I have been picking flowers for the house for a garden party tomorrow (M’s B-Day) and I’ve spent a huge amount of this week cleaning and tidying in preparation. ¬†I should take photos as the house hasn’t looked so clean.

Quite a few people have asked and about the Foxes and the Tweed Bunny purses. ¬†Yes, there will be Tweed Bunny purses in the shop, I haven’t made them yet but they are likely to be available as a general shop update in mid/late September (and will be about ¬£14 + P&P). ¬†Also, the Foxes will eventually go into the shop and there will be a Mrs version. ¬†I am currently selling them at ¬£30 plus P&P (which works out at about ¬£3 as they need to be posted boxed) and I will be making the next batch early September at which time I will blog about them again, right now I have sold my first mini batch. ¬†If you would like to reserve one, please let me know. ¬†Oh and they are 38 cm high, just so you get an idea of size.

Finally, all my shops are now closed until the end of August as we are off on our summer jollies to ‘sunny’ Yorkshire. ¬†I have packed up a single box with hand sewing but will mostly be out and about. ¬†Best remember to pack the rain gear ūüėČ

Sorry for a very disjointed post by I really am loosing the plot a little today. ¬†Here’s hoping for a slightly relaxing holiday, at least I’ll come back to a tidy house!

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 ūüôā