Auricula Tweed Purses

I’m sewing, sewing, sewing at the moment and then in the evenings I’m trying to plan a new website, but it’s taking FOREVER.  I’d love to down tools and just focus on the re-design, but that’s not very practical.

DSC_0147The logo part is a real struggle, as I keep changing my mind.  I was all sold on committing myself to using a cat in there (I often wish I’d chosen a different shop name, but as I’m known under this one now, it’d be quite difficult to change it, plus I own the web domain etc etc).  Ho-hum, I’ll get there in the end.

DSC_0007I’m still mostly sewing blinds and then Christmas things for the shop (as this is always where I make most profit).  Last year was a bit of a disaster, work wise, what with becoming a single Mum and all.  I did put the hours in, but I didn’t promote my work or get things photographed and listed when I should have.  I think I’m in a good routine now of shop sewing, blind sewing and taking care of the boys.  Time is still very stretched, but it’s a huge benefit working from home, I did look at trying to work part time elsewhere, but the reality of who would look after the boys in school holidays and outside of school hours put a stop to those plans, for now anyway (it’ll be easier once they are both settled into secondary school…only a few more years to go!), plus my boys are quite ‘quirky’ and certainly F needs his time out at home once he’s finished school, he’d find after school club etc quite difficult.DSC_0045.jpgRight now, my focus is on getting the shop updated with all the stock that’s sitting around in boxes so I’m starting with some Auricula Tweed Purses.

DSC_0051.jpgI made the first of these years (I think!) ago for my Sister as a present.  Her’s has a jazzy lining made out of snippets of left over curtain fabric.

ariculapurse2.jpgThese new ones have silk orange linings, which I think give a nice ‘pop’ to them.  I love how the silk contrasts with the tweed and felt.

tweedpurseariculaburgundy.jpgThe only other difference is that the Auricula Brooches are the second generation ones, that have two yellow centre colours.DSC_0180.jpgYou can find them here, hanging out with Gold Bunnies….because you know what time of year is coming up next 😉



I’m still here..and summer collection…

Really I am.  I know I’ve been kind of absent but I think, from my blog reading (which I am still behind on), that this seems to be the case generally in ‘blogland’.  I have been very distracted with family life; I’ve found myself busy with decorating, gardening and being a Mum, plus we have just spent half term in Berlin (more in that another time), both boys have had birthdays and M is about to go away for nearly 2 months to the US with work, meaning I will not get to sleep past 6am (if I’m lucky) in the mornings for a very long time.  I feel tired.

Although I haven’t been sewing all that much, and when I have it’s mainly been blinds for my sister, I have sneaked in a few hours here and there to complete my Summer collection.  I’ve found in the last couple of years that working a loose series of collections through the seasons works really well for me (I’ve been trying to create some Galleries on my website to view past designs), I tend to take a colour theme, from a fabric or picture or just the colours from the landscape and garden and try to change my core shop products to match.

For this summer, I knew early on that I wanted to use my love of Racey Helps work as an influence, I have a number of postcards tucked onto my pinboard and I’ve talked about Racey Helps before.  He tends to work in a set colour palette and I love the bold, bright but natural colours that he uses, they really do remind me of my childhood, I also really love the extensive use of nature in his work and who can resist animals in clothing!

I started some new lavender bags, little birds and a re-stock of other favourites some time ago, but it has taken me a really, really long time to get any of them finished.  First up are a new batch of Little Birds; these, I think, are my favourite of the little birds so far, there is something about the colours, especially with the bright wooden beads that really does make me nostalgic, they make me smile when I look at them.

I would have liked (and still might) to have made a mobile from these, ideally with a nice blue bird in there as well, but for now, they have been mounted and wrapped in their cello bags and are finally listed here.

I need to do a big Folksy shop update.  I’m undecided what to do here, I’ve rather neglected my Folksy shop recently, in all honestly I don’t sell very much there, I mostly sell (and have from the very beginning) much more from my own website and with the new fees and selling structure I need to have a good look and decide if it still works for me.  I find listing in general a chore and splitting stock etc between sites only adds to the work.  The other consideration is what do I get back from Folksy in return for the selling and listing fees?  I love being part of a British selling community (and it’s why I opted for Folksy not Etsy in the first place) but I think it’s very easy to get lost in the mass of sellers and I have noticed it’s aways the same ones that appear in promotional Folksy ‘stuff’ such as the christmas newspaper.  I do think to be fair, this probably says more about my lack of effort to get involved, rather than Folksy itself, I rarely take part in the discussion boards, but I do wonder what I am getting back in return for my fees.  Decisions, decisions.

Finally, I hope to spend my first week ‘home alone’ decorating so I’m not sure just how much time I’ll get for writing posts, although I do have some nearly ready to publish.  The plan is, get the house sorted (I breath so much easier in a tidier space) and then sew, sew, sew and sleep as much as I can, when I can.  We’ll see how it goes 🙂

Couldn’t resist a photo of one of my recent birthday boys, I’ve only just managed to get his thank you cards done, better late then never.  Notice my rather dyslexic (I assume if you read my blogs often you might have noticed I can neither type nor spell) first version, lucky I spotted that before I printed them all out!

New wool bunnies…

One of the earliest designs for The Linen Cat was a wool bunny in a Liberty print dress; there were two girl colour versions plus boys wearing denim shorts with ric-rac and shirts, and although I loved them dearly (especially the shirring and the crochet flowers on the girls) I felt, last year, that it was time for a re-design. I often debate moving into more of a 3D design with my softies but it’s not how I had originally imagined them, I have always tried to keep to simple shapes and an almost flat childlike profile so I don’t want to move too far away from this, instead I have given the new bunnies ears similar to the rabbit egg cosy and generally moved the body design to one similar to the linen mice (which ironically started out as the same pattern as the original wool bunny but thinned and tweaked – are you still with me?!).  As a result the new bunny has thinner arms and legs which are ‘jointed’ and a more triangular-shaped head. Next I tried making a bunny in the cream cashmere & wool mix that I normally save for the cashmere bears.  I have a very limited amount of this fabric left but it’s so unbelievably soft that I couldn’t resist.  I would say now that I prefer the more pure white colour of the original wool flannel but it has a much firmer feel and is an entirely different texture, not quite as huggable as the cashmere. I then splashed out on some good old Liberty Tana Lawn in Betsy, but in a new colour way for me, turquoise.  I have always loved and used the pink but the turquoise version has such a retro feel and it looks so good with the cream wool. All this happened almost a year ago, the sharper amongst you will already know that I listed a boy bunny to this new pattern wearing a jolly red waistcoat last year, but the girls have been sitting in a box patiently waiting for their turn.  I had even made a final sample of the dress so it was really only a question of pulling my finger out and getting the actual ones made-up.

And so last week, as I found myself jumping from project to project (I can’t seem to settle on one thing at the moment) the pile of bunnies called to me and begged to be finished in time for Easter.  One of the points of stalling was my desire to have a larger number to list, I generally prefer to have a small pile before adding something new to the shop and I’d planned to make more of the cream bodies, having used half of the original for the boys; but I figured we could be here in a year’s time and they might still be waiting, so I got on with it.

They have cute dresses with an attached white underskirt and broderie anglaise trim and as always everything is in natural fabrics except for the safety stuffing.  I had a bit of a nightmare trying to buy 100% cotton broderie anglaise and now have a stash of polyester mix to find a use for, it’s not that I refuse to use anything other than natural fibers, it’s just the polyester mix doesn’t feel right and I do generally prefer cotton.

I might be a little bit in love with the turquoise version, it reminds me of toys from my childhood.

They have sweet bobble tails

and are listed in the shop.  I plan to put a couple of the pink on Folksy given time, but I’d like to re-photograph them first, when the light is better, it was a bit too dingy today.

I am attempting to have a general clear out and re-create a sale section for the shop.  I did my tax return in good time this year and it gave me an opportunity to look back on both 2010-11 and on 2011-12 (so far) and see exactly what has sold and what hasn’t, I need to use my storage space better as Linen Cat stock is taking over the house so it’s time some things went.  Probably one for another post all to itself, I need to go now and but my little monsters darlings to bed before they dive me crazy 😉

Bright Little Waistcoats…

I have lots of open projects at the moment and despite my attempts to finish one before starting on another it’s not really working out that way.  There are lots of piles of little clothes without bodies and many naked woodland animals needing clothing.  I was also given a stark reminder of what’s to come when we had a few days of rain last week (hurrah!) and it became so dark I struggled to see what I was sewing, even with all the studio lights on so it really is important that I get all my shop photographs taken in the next few weeks.

My mission, then, is to finish and photograph at least one full sample of each planned item and better still, complete all my early Autumn work ready for listing in September.

I started with some jolly coloured waistcoats.  I am definitely moving into stronger colours with plums and deep reds as I eagerly await colder weather, but I couldn’t resist a last splash of late summer brightness, especially after making a recent waistcoat for the ‘Gone Fishing‘ squirrel (yes, he is a squirrel and not a fox although he does look very fox-like, especially with the original pointy ears in the sample version, which I have changed for the final design in an attempt to make him more squirrel-like).

Each waistcoat is stitched from 7 pieces and each seam is stitched twice and overlocked, it really is important to me that anything I made lasts, especially if there’s a chance it’s going to be played with by little hands and so this is a standard for the softies I make and their clothing.

I raided my hand dyed linen stash for the outsides and already knew I wanted to use some Liberty Tana Lawn in Mirabelle for the lining, it’s a bit light weight for lining, especially paired with the linen so I backed it with some Vilene Supersoft iron-on interfacing, which I buy in bulk as I use it often.  Oh I love this print, which is why it pops up so often in my work, it’s the perfect mix of retro, nature and block colours which works well with my designs.

I splashed out on real leather buttons as I’ve been desperate to use them for a while.  I have quite a few vintage ones but I’ve stopped using these generally, especially from my Gran’s glass jar as I’d rather save them for personal projects and special items, or even just keep them so I can tip them out to admire.

Finally, the jolly little jackets required a little something else so out came my Hana Flower Loom.  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy weaving these, it’s quite therapeutic just sitting working on them.  I had quite a few ‘I’m very tired, please stop now boys’ moments over the last week and so forced the boys to watch Narnia movies giving me an excuse to just sit on the sofa weaving.  It was fun snuggling up together and having a calm moment (my boys, like most boys are mostly in loud crash bang mode) whilst it rained outside.

Now all I have to do is make all the little bodies to go with the clothing!

Where did the time go….?

Half term has flown by, I had so many plans most of which have fallen by the wayside but I am a bit over excited by some of our developments.

We are now the proud owners of shed and a decent sized on at that.  Make no mistake, this is not some lovely insulated hideaway for crafting but a place to ‘dump’ all our garden gear and the boys toys that strewn the lawn all year round.  As I may have mentioned before we have a slight stuff verses space problem (okay, mainly MY stuff) that makes our house a little crowded at times so any extra storage is more than welcome.  I should mention it will be a nice shade of ‘lavender’ not the Tango tan it arrives with once stained up.

The shed has come just in time for the (well over due) floor leveling in the living room.  I have waited years, literally, for this and in the meantime have lived with nasty cheap plastic flooring over mouldy ancient lino tiles, for those who think I exaggerate note the photo above – nasty!  Now, after some thick tar like ‘do not use in a domestic setting’ sealing we have had the floor leveled and in a week we’ll have proper wooden flooring over proper underfloor heating, I am so excited I can hardly wait.

Apart from moving furniture about and keeping kids off drying floors I have found a little time to work through yet more open projects.

I am really keen to get everything finished as I’m already thinking about Christmas, yes, yes, I know it’s Summer right now but realistically the big ‘C’ is my busiest time of year and I need to start making stock early, I have new fabric waiting in the wings and plenty of ideas but really want to clear all open projects first.

Right, need to dash as it’s also F’s Birthday this week so I have party bags to organise and then the living room to paint before the new flooring arrives.  So many things, so little time 🙂

Ticking the list off…

I’ve knuckled down a bit here and thanks to a rainy day today have worked though some more of the half done projects.

First up I finished the lavender stack.  It’s pretty high when piled up (it will be fastened with a nice ribbon and tag for selling) so I’m now wondering if I should actually sell them in stacks of two instead?  I should also mention these are quite big 13 x 12 cm in fact and stuffed only with lavender, also the backs are in plain linen, which annoyingly cost more than the Echino so was a bit of a stupid move.

I guess they would then be sold in the pairs above, I haven’t worked out the pricing yet but it’s going to be about £15 for a 4 stack and £7.50 for a 2 stack (before P&P), all thoughts on this are most welcome.

I also spent today making up some new brown Linen Cats (shocking light today so please excuse the photos)

I used to make a dark-ish green linen cat but I found the weave a bit flat in colour whereas this brown has a different warp and weft thread so it has a bit more life to it.  I really like the green button eyes.

I had some dresses already made up but still need to pick the final bead details (for the ‘hair’) and the third is a boy so he needs his tweed trouser/scarf combo.

So, all in all a pretty productive day.  I want to work through all my open projects (which could take some time) and then sort out the studio.  We are having the flooring fitted downstairs soon (wooden over electric under floor heating) and it’s the final biggie of the house, I have become mightily sick of staring at the cheap unfitted lino and I’m ready to put skirting on and pictures up throughout the house, after 4 years here now I think I’ve earned that 🙂

Bright and Sunny…

I had been waiting on a half finished project to be completed before writing this post but as with everyone else I find myself distracted by the beautiful weather, that and my studio being an inhospitable 27 degrees for most of the morning, the down side of all that glass.  So what’s a girl to do instead of sew?  Why do a spot of on-line shopping whilst sitting with my feet in the paddling pool and eating an ice lolly, of course.  Perfect.

As my seasonal taste goes, I am into mixed bright colours the moment.  First up on my little spree is this bundle of Kaffe spots to feed my ongoing spots addiction.

and whilst I was placing an order with the wonderful Saints & Pinners I bought a little bit of the Forest Hills Voile in sea (as with the last Voile I am planning some summer tops….when exactly, I’m not sure, at this rate maybe in time for the summer of 2012!).

I also treated myself to some bright new tea towels from the Pantone/Typhoon range.  Already can’t remember where from, they are pretty common to buy but I cannot keep white tea towels white, they inevitably end up grey so I set myself the challenge of buying solid bright colours and these fit the bill perfectly.

We have been spending quite  bit of time outside, me in the vegetable garden and Charlie mostly playing on the decking around the doorway, usually with his pencils and paper.  He created this bright little scene the other day, note how the shoes are neatly lined up….hummm, art and neatness, wonder who he takes after!

As for the ‘open project’, here is is still very much open.  Honestly, I bought the Echino fabrics back in August (see here) specifically for this, I even cut the squares and stitched up two of the sample lavender bags and that’s where it ended.  The rest have been sitting in a box waiting for their moment.  As you can see it will be a stack of 4 large lavender bags, I figured some people just want some plain (but pretty) lavender squares to pop into their draw or wardrobe to keep things smelling sweet, so that’s what I’m aiming for.  I will complete and photograph soon, I’m making a point of leaving them in the middle of the work bench in the way so I can’t put them aside again.

Right, I am off into the garden to water the poor wilting seedlings and make the most of the sun whilst it’s here!