Rose Tattoo Purses

I have been up since seven but amazingly have only managed 930 steps so far today (it’s mid-afternoon, as I type) which is hilarious. To be fair, I didn’t put my counter on until after showering but considering I’ve done two loads of laundry, baked bread, tidied and cleaned the kitchen I am amazed at the minimal step count. The problem is that I’ve spent the rest of the time attached to my laptop editing photos, updating websites and now writing blog posts. It just shows how blooming long all this stuff takes and how horribly inactive I am whilst doing it.

Let’s get on with the post.IMG_20160427_130829Forever ago (running theme here!) I was a bit obsessed with traditional vintage style Sailor Jerry tattoos, at the time I was researching tattoo swallows for aprons (still to come, when I finally photograph them) but the style, in general, is one I really like. If you don’t know who Sailor Jerry was just google him and you’ll recognise his work straight away.

IMG_20170627_095348I figured an oversized rose, outlined in black would look really good on a purse. The block colouring style of tattoos translates really well to applique and this vision was my starting point. I spent forever coming up with my own design, which is really difficult as there are so many copies (Sailor Jerry is iconic and therefore frequently imitated, especially the roses and swallows). I used a real rose photo and based the shaping on that, repeatedly simplified it down and then blocked the colours in. I often work on tracing paper then I use a printer to enlarge and decrease the size until I’m happy with it.

Originally I stitched black edging (top photo, LHS) but didn’t actually like that and ended up opting for using different colours for each part of the topstitching. It kind of defeated the point of my original idea, which was for it to clearly resemble a tattoo, but things do often change as they develop.DSC_0003

After much debate, I cut the rose as a single block of fabric and not as individual petals. I’m really glad I did, it saved me a mountain of work and it makes absolutely no difference to the final design.IMG_20170912_135942Most of the fabrics are simply what I had in stock and the main body of the purse is a deep claret cotton velvet. It’s quite difficult to capture on camera, especially as I often have to lighten photos but the above image is quite accurate.IMG_20170913_082304For the lining I used some stunning fuchsia shot silk, it adds a real pop to the purses and complements the wine velvet really well.DSC_0067Gluing the frames on nearly sucked all the life out of me, as it always does, but the plus is I’m getting really good at it without getting sticky fingers. I was a good girl and just got on with it and then rewarded myself with cake (which on less than 1000 steps in half a day I should NOT be doing!).DSC_0063And they are done. And listed.HandHeldRoseTatooPurseAnd would make a wonderful Valentines gift, I think; certainly, I’d be thrilled to get something similar!

Right, I now need to go and run about for a bit and earn my wine this evening.

Job done. Next?

Vampire Purses, Take Two

One of the most popular things I made last year, were the Spider and Victorian Mourning Purses (click on the links to read all about them!).  DSC_0202

I knew I wanted to make more this year but I really struggled to source some of the materials.  I just cannot find more of the appliqued spiders I originally used (there are other options, which I intend to look into next year) and the heavy silk I used for the Victorian purses has been nearly impossible to find.  DSC_0192

In the end, I bought some heavy twill silk from Beckfords and hand dyed it.  The silk was eye-wateringly expensive, but then I do only need a small amount for each purse.  I did, however, totally avoid dyeing it until the last possible moment.  I initially hand dyed it using Dylon black, but it came out with a very blue tinge, not at all as I’d hoped, so I dyed it again to get a better tone, same dye only in the washing machine.  It worked and it’s almost identical to the silk that I originally used, which incidentally was given to me by a lady running a period millinery course I did years ago at the London College of Fashion.

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I couldn’t find the same beaded applique panels either, so these have changed.  I bought plain ones then beaded them myself, which I prefer as I had to re-stitch on all the originals anyway as I was so paranoid they would fall off.

DSC_0170I really LOVE making these purses, they pretty much sum up my work and my taste.  I love the beading, the old feel and what’s not to like about silk and velvet.  Velvet is really rocking my boat at the moment.

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I don’t love glueing on the frames, I tend to put that off as well, but I’ve become a pro, I’m like the ninja purse frame gluing champion and hardly any acetone was needed in the making of these purses, which is good as I was already quite giddy on the smell of fabric glue.

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I’ve changed the name to ‘Vampire’ purses this year, simply as it is what I’ve always called them when I’m talking to myself.  It’s those red linings against the black.

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I’ve already promised some of them to friends, but the remainder are here in the shop.

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My shop generally needs updating.  I started a re-brand a while ago, but the craziness that is finding the right secondary school for F, blind making and trying to get the house decorated is taking its toll, there just isn’t time to do everything, so for now I’ve opted for a quick change of the front page and trying to get my stock levels back up.

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For Christmas, I’d like a time machine please 🙂

Gold Tweed Bunny Purses

Forever ago, I started a new batch of tweed purses.  I get emails asking after them often, they are quite popular and sell well but I don’t enjoy making them as much as other things, there are simply too many areas that are difficult and there is always the possible outcome that the zips are so stiff I can’t sell them (it’s because of the curve that I’m forcing the invisible zip into, it doesn’t like it) so it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to finish this last batch.

DSC_0166Last February, I tweeted the above image as I couldn’t decide on bows, or flowers and the answer from lovely twitter peeps was flowers.

tweed bunniesAdvice I then totally ignored, as I’ve had this fixed idea in my head, since I made the first purse, many years ago, that I really wanted to do a gold and red bow version, like the Lindt chocolate treat they are based on.

DSC_0161I then fell out of love with making them, in a big way and they sat all lonely in a box for almost a year.  Poor bunnies.

DSC_0158The thing I was mainly avoiding making were the handles, which is mind numbing and challenges my machine with the thickness of tweed I have to sew through.

DSC_0180I also constructed these a bit differently, in an attempt to make sure the zips moved freely, and as a result had to hand stitch the red silk linings in, which I also kept avoiding.

DSC_0167But the realisation that Easter is nearly upon us, and the idea that another year might pass before these were actually photographed and listed spurred me to get my act together and get them out there.  As you can probably see, the light was less than perfect yesterday, but I knew we were in for some rain so I just did my best to take decent photos, in order to get the purses listed (here if you’re interested).  I hate doing this, I always intend to take updated images at a later date, but find I never do, which is very unprofessional, but it’s that or miss my target again.

DSC_0179On other things, life isn’t really letting up around here, I have a million things to do at once and to top it all off, poor F broke his arm at the end of last week.  On the plus side, I feel like I’m staying on top of it all (only just!) and I’m really enjoying having the kitties around for company during the day.  At least I can pretend I’m talking to them instead of myself, which makes me feel a little less like a crazy person 🙂

Heather Hues…

I started writing a very different post, all about big decisions (like where to live) and such, but quite frankly it all felt too serious so I deleted it and instead will just get straight to the subject.

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On of my favourite times of the year to visit the Yorkshire Dales is when the heather is out, it’s when I’m most keen to go walking and not just because the weather is often at it’s best but because I just love the colours.  I took this photo back in August, when I last visited, it’s taken from Burnsall Fell looking back down on the village, I realise that G+ has done some nifty ‘Auto Awesome’ thing but the heather hues and greens are so pretty so it’s exactly what I imagine when I picture home.DSC_0207 It’s also why I tend to think of this purse as my ‘Yorkshire’ purse, the colours in the tweed reflecting my mind’s image of the colours of Yorkshire, of green rolling hills and Dales and heather moors (OK, I know this is totally romanticised and often it’s actually grey and pissing it down….which reminds me, I once saw a program about buying houses, it was for some Yorkshire lady who’d moved to Australia who was trying to make the big decision of whether to move her family back, apparently someone from ‘home’ had sent her a video of driving around in the rain for an hour to remind her how grim it really is, only she kept watching the video in repeat and feeling homesick as she actually missed the Northern rain – that would SO be me!!!).DSC_0200Sorry for those with good memories who have read about these purse colours from the first time I made this combination, but it proved so popular I wanted to make a second batch.DSC_0187I’m so in love with the brown tweed, with it’s lime green and purple shades running through, I think it’s my favourite so far and I’ve still got enough squirrelled away for a 1940’s suit.DSC_0205

As I’ve covered this subject before, there isn’t much more to say, simply that they are back in the shop.DSC_0121Whilst I was in purse making mode, I figured I’d add another acorn version.  DSC_0120I liked the idea of sticking to brown tweeds for this one, although there is a hint of wine red in the herringboneDSC_0194and for a contrast pop of colour, I lined them in orange silk.
DSC_0200 The down side of using silk is it shows every little crease and bump and even though I’m super careful to push the bag evenly into the frame, it’s inevitable that there are some bumps that look worse for being in a shiny fabric….this really annoys me, as I’m sure those who know me can imagine.DSC_0221 DSC_0235I’m nearly there with all the shop posts, I know it’s been a bit ‘product’ heavy around here and I’m quite looking forward to working on new things, even possibly some sewing for myself which has become a rare thing around here these days.  Watch this space 😉

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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*.

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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 😦  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.

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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!

Tweed Flower Purses: Part 2 (Acorns!)…

I spent yesterday cleaning and feel so much better because of it.  This is the kind of house where piles of things appear all over the place and build until they look ready to topple over.  I tend to be too busy to do anything about it for a while, then it starts to get to me and I spend a couple of days putting everything away and clearing all surfaces.  I am trying to train the boys to tidy their own things, they are learning but the reality is it’s always going to be me that has to do the majority, so I may as well just get on with it.  I instantly feel less stressed when the house is tidy (or tidier, it’s never going to be properly tidy!), especially when the hallways are clear….I’m pretty sure there’s some Feng Shui thing about clean hallways?!

Anyway, I’m back in the sewing room today and thought I’d better get this promised post written.

So, the big difference with this purse (the acorn one, as the title suggests) is that I was starting with the brooch and making a purse to match.

Shortly after finalising the purse pattern, I pretty much ‘saw’ in my head a two-tone version to go with the acorns.  An all tweed one wouldn’t work, as the acorn would get lost in the tweed pattern so it was clear that it needed to have a plain top part and then a nice tweedy bottom.  Please excuse my crude sketches, they were more scribbles I made one day but I stuck them in my book so I could remember the thought process.

I bought quite a few tweeds in an attempt to get the right combination, but settled on a cream cashmere wool that I already had in and some new herringbone, that has lovely flecks of red and yellow running through it.  This photo gives you some idea of how much fabric is involved, the pleats take up quite a bit, in both length and width.

For the lining I couldn’t resist using some beautiful Heather Ross ‘Snow White’ fabric from her Far Far Away 3 collection.  I have become a FFA addict, but more in that another time.  It was a bit of a challenge to try to get an interesting bit of the print into each purse lining but I do love this fabric and like how bright but golden the yellow is.  I really like golden and mustard yellows but HATE lemon and acid yellow….no idea why.

Something I wanted to try changing was the shape of the purse.  In my head (and my scribble sketch) I had imagined the purses to have more of a slant to the sides, I’d tried to achieve this with the first two batches, but the slant wasn’t exaggerated enough, so I made the purses wider at the bottom and a little lower in height.

A thought generally with the purses is that you could change the brooches over, this colour combination works just as nicely with the buttercup brooch as it does with the acorns.

The cream wool fabric is very thick so these were even more of a challenge to sew, but worth it, I think.

When I showed one to my sister she said, “oh lovely….is it a pencil case?”.  !!!!!!!!!!

and I appear to have got  a bit mixed up when sewing and have produced a ‘left handed’ purse…in that, I mean that the zip is set to pull from the right to left (something determined by the placing of the inside pocket).  What a muppet.  Still, if you’re buying and want it ‘left handed’ do let me know and I’ll send you the one below.

They are listed here.

Guess what my husband said when I showed them to him……”is it a pencil case” – ha ha ha!!

I’ve bought some purse frames to have a play with, I hope to try to keep the two tone tweed idea, as I like this but not sure the pleats will stay.  These are intended for myself and gifts for friends, but I’ll show them when finished.

Thanks for such a great response to the tweed purses in general, I have packed quite a few up and they’ve gone off to their new homes, I was so pleased to get such a positive reaction and especially happy that the price didn’t put anyone off.  Also, this is the last of the shop posts for a while, I know my blog has been a bit product heavy but it’s just that time of year and it’s mostly what I’ve been sewing.

Right, back to cleaning, now I’ve started I might as well move onto the playroom…..If you don’t hear back from me, send in a search party 😉