Vampire Purses (again!)

This will be the third outing for the Vampire Purses and they have evolved a bit.DSC_0093The originals were made as a big Halloween themed bunch of designs back in 2014 (see here for the post about them – wow, even I can’t believe that was back in 2014!).DSC_0062The applique pieces came already beaded and were¬† slightly 3D in style; the whole purse was based on Victorian mourning dress, specifically inspired by an antique dress I own.DSC_0170By the time I made the second batch in 2015 I couldn’t get the same applique, so I bought a new design and beaded them myself (this made sense as I had to double stitch the beading on all of the first ones anyway, I was paranoid they might come off otherwise).DSC_0175I was always a bit sad that they had an orange red lining as in my mind they needed blood red, hence the ‘Vampire’ purse name, but I had quite a bit of the silk to use up. I still love them though and I kept one for myself, it is by far the most used item from the shop.IMG_20191015_132514This time, I got to indulge in my need for that blood red lining.IMG_20191016_142943Yum. I love it!…..I may need to keep another for myself.IMG_20191026_132848Gluing in the frames nearly killed me – I’d forgotten how much I hate that job.DSC_0072But they are done and are listed here.DSC_0091Gosh, they went quickly! Some have already sold as I was writing this post.IMG_20191008_113812Another re-make but one that’s always popular are the red rose brooches,IMG_20191008_125102they are back too.DSC_0204The witch mice from the original Halloween makes never sold well ūüė¶ and the last couple have gone into the sale section. Makes me a bit sad as so much work went into them but I also understand why they missed the mark. I love them, but then I have slightly quirky taste.DSC_0231There’s a single vampire boy left too.IMG_20191027_111722Whilst I’m in the mood, I’ve started on new spider purses for next year. I’m just re-drafting the pattern and annoyingly I will need to polish up the acrylic bodies of the spiders as they’ve turned up a bit scratched, which just won’t do.

Right, off to cook Sunday lunch, happy weekend everyone!

Vampire Mice…

For those who’ve been reading this blog for some time, you may remember that I once stitched a vampire mouse for my oldest son, he loves anything scary and both boys had requested special linen mice so a vampire and Batman version were created (you can read about it here).

After planning the witch mice, I didn’t want to leave the boys out and thought I’d add some little boy vampires, complete with capes and flouncy sleeves.

They are pretty much the same as the original, only I’ve used black silk where I had used linen and the medallion is a little tidier. ¬†I also didn’t add the embroidered blood dripping off the teeth as F was never entirely keen on that part!!
DSC_0228Of course, if there is to be a boy vampire, they really should be a girl too and I got quite excited over the idea of making her a nice beaded cape, I have a Victorian one in my collection that Mum once gave me and I went to find it for inspiration only to discover it wasn’t quite as fancy as I’d remembered it to be (still pretty though).

DSC_0045 Instead I found this AMAZING Edwardian dress which I had totally forgotten I owned. ¬†It’s bigger than a lot of my other antique clothing in that it’s probably nearer a modern size 12, which is possibly why I’d passed it by, I was about a size 8 when I was in the phase of wearing the things I collected, I cringe now to think I regularly dressed in some beautiful, delicate, beaded numbers, it’s a miracle they survived.DSC_0042It’s quite faded in places and the silk is damaged but it’s covered in the most beautiful bead work, I spent quite a bit of time studying it before carefully packaging it back up and storing it away in a large trunk where I keep much of my antique clothing.DSC_0164I then went on an extensive search for beaded lace etc, to use on the little mouse capes, it was at this point I found the lovely panels I used on the vampire bags.
DSC_0188The cape ended up with a little bead fringe and some sequined lace pieces and is lined in russet silk.DSC_0214 The rest of the mouse is essentially the same as the witch, partly because I had the supplies I needed already in stock, the crochet bias binding had been bought in a 25 meter roll and both coloured silks were in my stash, also as I’d spent time working out the best variants of the design for the witch already, there seemed little point trying to change things.DSC_0210She was super tricky to photograph with the face being in such pale linen and the body all black, I have to consider that I need all photographs to sit well together on my other site and for this I have a preference for pale backgrounds. ¬†I can imagine it would have been easier to use a coloured background but then they wouldn’t have matched everything else.DSC_0234DSC_0242 DSC_0247Both vampires are now in the shop, a couple of you who are very quick off the mark have already spotted them, so thank you for that, they will be posted out today.

That’s the last of the Halloween themed things, I really enjoyed making them and maybe I’ll add more next year, but for now I need to move¬†on to Christmas, I know it’s still ages away but in shop terms it’s not, I’ve already started selling little birds for the tree and some items intended as festive gifts. ¬†As for mince pies already being in the supermarket – no, I say! That’s just crackers ūüėČ



As predicted, the weather has turned and we’ve moved into Autumn proper, complete with its overcast, rainy days and a definite chill in the air in the mornings. ¬†On Facebook, there is even much talk amongst the Yorkshire folk of turning the heating on, of course if they are true Yorkshire people that wont happen until it reaches under 3 degrees (right A?! – hee hee).

DSC_0148With this in mind, I spent some of the weekend making use of the last clear skies to try to photograph anything black, with mixed results. ¬†I’d prefer better shots, but I’m aware of time slipping away so here we go with (first up) the witch mice specials.

DSC_0145There isn’t a lot to say here as it’s all kind of obvious. ¬†I had some green linen left over after sewing apple aprons and I couldn’t resist stitching up some little Elphaba style witches for Halloween, especially as I haven’t sewn a Linen Mouse Special for ages. ¬†Again, I had quite elaborate plans that didn’t entirely come to pass.


The body is made from black silk with pleat details and black crochet edged bias binding. ¬†I had thought about using some of my antique button stash for the embellishments, but when it came down to it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do so, I realised that the cost per button, verses the difference it would make to the finished mouse, instead of just using modern buttons wouldn’t scale, and I’d be sad to see the buttons go as I have been saving them for a special project for years.DSC_0196I was also a little bit worried about the fact that they are glass and might easily chip or break. ¬†In the end I sourced some little shell-like buttons for the shoes and some nice metallic looking numbers for the front of the dress.

DSC_0193What else? Oh I had imagined this little mouse to have a proper witches hat on, covered in feathers and some beading, but despite trying over and over I couldn’t get a pattern to work that fitted over the ear in any way and looked correct, so I opted for a beaded brooch that can be pinned on the head.DSC_0161 DSC_0158I struggled quite a lot trying to get photos, I am no genius with the camera and really need to learn how to use it manually, for now I relay entirely on the editing tool in my iPhoto library or Photoshop, you can see from above how much difference it can make, DSC_0204and had really hoped to take some ‘life style’ shots but this is as far as I got.

DSC_0209I did take this last photo whilst I had some of my collected junk gathered together for use as possible props and it got me thinking that I might like to try some still life style set-ups in future, I just need to play around a bit more and see what works.

For now, though, the witches can be found here ūüôā

Spider Purses…

Thanks for the fantastic response to the Victorian/Vampire purses, I was really pleased to see them go to people who often buy my work, I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate anyone who comes back for more, it’s one of the biggest compliments I can imagine. ¬†It can be a bit isolating working from home in the cocoon of my own little world, during the week I rarely get to bounce ideas off other creative people or, these days, rarely even get to talk to any grown-ups on a daily base, other than the school run (is that the sound of a violin I can hear in the background – ha ha!). ¬†I’m not complaining, but it has got me thinking; if I held a kind of informal garden party next Spring, would any of you that read this blog be interested in coming along? ¬†For context, I live less than an hour away from London, in Kent, and on the train line from Victoria. ¬†For anyone slightly further afield, there are nice places to stay in the village (lots of B&B’s) and the garden is big enough for a few tents to be pitched. ¬†I just thought it might be a good way to meet some of the people I’ve been talking to via the internet for years. ¬†Just a thought.


Back to the post, which is oh so imaginatively titled.

So, when I was ¬†buying the sequin and bead panels for the last purses, I spotted these spiders and couldn’t resist. ¬†I knew exactly how I planned to use them and for once stuck with the original idea, creating a patchwork of black fabrics (in silk, velvet and linen) and over stitching with gold thread.


That really is it. ¬†I did consider (for ages) how I wanted to do the spider’s web, I tried a more curved shape, but it looked best a little stylised and straight, so I stuck with that.


The spiders are very firmly stitched on, so I’m happy to know they wont be going anywhere in a hurry.


The lining is in gold silk and the clip frames are a smaller size (6 inches/15 cm) plus there is no inside pocket.

DSC_0220This was my only disaster really, as I just assumed I had 4 frames, but when I came to glue them, I could only find 2 and no-one in the UK stocked the original size, in fact even a worldwide search came up fruitless so I was getting a bit desperate when I finally found a Hong Kong Etsy seller who had a few in stock – phew, that would have been a lot of work wasted had it not turned out good.


As a result, I only got around to glueing the final two purses into their frames today (they’ve been stored away with all the other Halloween designs) and although I’d prefer to wait a while for the glue smell to disappear, I think I need to get them listed now. ¬†So here they are.

Mice next!

Victorian Mourning Purses…or Vampire Purses!

So how did I really get along with¬†all those plans to ‘get ahead’ this year?

DSC_0093Pretty well in all honesty, the above photo being taken all the way back in June, how about that for thinking ahead! ¬†The problem wasn’t so much the making as the photographing everything, which I had planned to do in the summer holidays but due to various life dramas, didn’t manage to pull off; the issue here¬†being that you need the right light to get good photos of ‘black’ but lucky me, we’ve held onto some really lovely weather recently, resulting in days with nicely naturally diffused light which has been just perfect.

DSC_0050First up (I have kind of given the game away with the top photo of what’s coming this week) is my favourite purse yet and I guess I¬†should start with the inspiration. ¬†When I was teenager I started to collect antique clothing, something my Mum encouraged (she gave me many of the things in my collection, along with my Gran), I particularly loved anything Victorian and black, and ideally beaded. ¬†Back in those days, especially when I was at art college, I often wore the clothing too, as I was lucky enough to be quite thin and managed to fit into it all. ¬†Then there was a fire in one of the student houses I lived in and much of my collection when up in smoke, I was so upset and I sifted through, attempting to salvaged any bits of the lace and beadwork as it was too beautiful to throw away; my original thinking was that I would love to use some of these pieces on purses, with (ideally!) vintage silk and velvet as a backdrop.


Well it didn’t pull off, as I couldn’t find my bag of smokey lace and bead bits and when I attempted to source some, along with vintage fabric remnants, the price was frightening. ¬†Instead, I opted for buying some lovely modern bead, sequin and appliqued panels and some cotton velvet. ¬†I did use some silk fabric that I’ve had in a box for years and years, it was intended for use as decoration on a period hat I made in night classes but it has such a perfect, slightly dense weight that I decided to cut into it.

DSC_0188The beaded applique cost a pretty penny, but I think it really works. ¬†I went a little overboard when stitching it on, and even re-stitched each bead and sequin into place so they don’t ever drop off. ¬†I added machine¬†pleats to the silk, which really reminds of one of the coats that went up in smoke all those years ago, it was covered in pleats and beads, a really beautiful thing *sob*.


The lining is in russet silk. ¬†I have vampires on the brain at the moment, my next book in line to read is Dracula and I made my brother drive us to Whitby when I spent a couple of days with him over summer, it was a lot, A LOT busier than I remembered it from my teenage years, which is probably when I last went and I was so determined to buy some Victorian Whitby Jet but it was all out of my price range ūüė¶ ¬†Still, I digress, the thing is I also kind of think of this as a ‘Vampire’ purse, hence the timing of listing it before Halloween and the contrast of black with red silk; incidentally, I’d have loved to use a vivid scarlet red, but I’ve been making a point of using up my fabric stash and so russet it is.

DSC_0193I’ve stuck with my favourite 8 inch (20cm) antiqued bobble clip frame. ¬†I love these, I do have other frames waiting to be used but for this purse, this frame is just perfect.


This is a makes where I’m tempted to keep one back for myself, I really, really like it, but I have to stop sneaking one aside as I will end up with more purses than I can use and never make any money! ¬†I did list one on Folksy, but it sold the same day (thank you C!!) so there are just the ones on my shop site now.

I hope to crack on with the rest of my Halloween listings this coming week, I still have photos to take so it depends on whether the weather plays ball, but I’m secretly ready for a chillier tone now and some tweed and wool to come out…just not until after I’ve finished photographing black!

Scary stuff, the sequel…

And so, at 2 am in the morning when poor F was being very poorly last Thursday, his main concern was that he’d miss the school Disco. ¬†There had been a haircut especially and we’d even bought gel and there were many, many tears so in feeble attempt to cheer him up I promised I’d make Vampire capes and we could carve pumpkins over the weekend. ¬†Now in true ‘I used to be a costume designer in a ¬†former life’ style, I had been planning proper miniature period capes but due to time and circumstances, abandoned that plan for the easiest pattern I could find online. ¬†I found a great simple solution via Martha S. ¬†To be honest I didn’t even read the pattern, but took the picture entirely for inspiration and this is our version.

Obviously it will be worn with the rest of the ‘costume’ (school shirt, cravat and¬†cummerbund made from the lining fabric, lots of white face makeup and dripping blood, you get the idea?) and then come Halloween we will go scare Aunti T and make her give us some sweets ūüôā

The lining fabric looked black with dark red flowers on-line but is in fact a bit more…er…girly? ¬†You can imagine the conversation:

F (from his sickbed overseeing the making), ¬†“I don’t like that fabric, it’s for girls”

Me, ” No it’s not sweetheart, it’s posh fabric for a posh Vampire cape.”

F, ” But I don’t want to be a posh vampire, I want to be a normal one.”

Me, ” Well, Count Dracula is posh….he’s a Count, that’s posh.”

F, “I don’t want to be Count ¬†Duckula !!?”

(We’ve been watching a lot of old kids TV shows recently).

It was a grit teeth day but we got there in the end and we also made these

(see those fancy squash on the left? ¬†I grew those ūüôā ) and I took some time this week to get a few more decorations up,

now I bought this fantastic pumpkin card ages ago and feel very bad for taking so long to post about it, especially as the boys love it so much. ¬†You can have one of your very own from Love Poppet at Folksy and you can read all about Claire’s work over at her blog.

We’ve also bought these fabulous printable Witches from Sally Boyle, again from Folksy. ¬†I’m using Sally’s photo here as the weather really isn’t on our side today and I can’t get a decent shot of them but again, they are great and I love that we can print them off each year for decoration.

Now, what am I going to dress up as for Halloween…..somehow I don’t think the old black tights and polo neck jumper cat is going to work, although I would certainly look scary dressed in something that tight – ha!

Scary stuff…

We are all in the early stages of our first ‘back to school’ cold. ¬†Oh joy of joys. ¬†Along with M being away a lot with work (so I get the pleasure of early mornings all on my own, as most of you know, I’m not very good at these!) and the nights awake with one or the other of the boys, dishing out Calpol and throwing Olbas Oil around the room, I’m starting to get a bit run down. ¬†I had plans for this week, deadlines I had set myself but I’ve switched to simple short projects that keep me happy but leave lots of time for feeling sorry for myself and eating chocolate.

At the weekend we did the much avoided trip to ‘the shopping place’ (otherwise known as Bluewater to us grown-ups, soulless but practical and the boys love eating at Carluccios) to buys some new clothes for the boys. ¬†F fell in love with the above hoodie, as he is currently in a Halloween phase prompted by school. ¬†He has a party this weekend which is fancy dress and has decided he would like to go as a skeleton, who am I to argue?

I spent a fun hour yesterday making the promised mask, it is simply white cotton layered with some interfacing and appliqued with black cotton.  Nice and simple and made to the same design as the above hoodie, although to different dimensions (I made a template in paper first to get the size and openings correct).

I realised half way through that I needed to make a mask for C as well and then as a final touch I gave them some gold teeth with a spot of fabric paint. ¬†Along with the super cheap skeleton pyjamas I’ve ordered for both the boys, they will be very happy. ¬†I will admit, it’s times like these I miss the idea of a little girl, I could have a field day making fairy crowns. ¬†Still, I wouldn’t swap my boys.

Also rather scarily, I have finally registered as self-employed and am now sorting receipts for my first tax return. ¬†Again, what joy. ¬†I’m way below my personal limit and wont even need to pay NI contributions but with the shop ever growing it’s time to get organised to avoid backdated tax issues and a possible fine. ¬†I know lots of us ‘crafters’ have huge dilemmas with the whole thing so I thought I would let you all know how it all goes, it will require a post all to itself I think ūüôā