Vintage Christmas Stockings

I loath using the word ‘vintage’. Not quite sure why, I think it’s because of it’s overuse and the fact I’ve been collecting antique clothing and objects since I was a child so I slightly hate how fashionable it has become (I was so before my time *joking*). It’s also an age thing, I think, I struggle to think of 1980’s as ‘vintage’….probably as I wore the stuff first time around. Still, it’s often the only word that fits, so welcome ‘Vintage Christmas Stockings’.DSC_0098It started as an idea a couple of years ago. I had bought some vintage (I’m going to use the word with abandon now) napkins when I was buying old Christmas stuff on Ebay and I couldn’t help but think they’d make great cuffs for Christmas stockings.DSC_0100The plan was to combine them with some stash busting, specifically reducing my tweeds and a few Christmas cottons that I have. The problem is, as always, I tend to imagine the finished thing in my head and I then struggle to compromise on that vision.DSC_0104The red tweed looked too ‘dull’ so I considered some linen, also from my stash, but that felt too similar in texture to the linen cuff. I like contrasts of texture ūüôāDSC_0156I ended up buying some boucl√© wool in a crimson red. I also abandoned using the Christmas printed cotton for lining as the wool is a little stretchy and I wanted a matching stretchy lining so I opted for some nice, cosy, green brushed cotton.DSC_0208I’m not sure if it show in the photos, but I added a little shaping to the top cuff to make it kick out slightly (I like to think it’s these details that make my work my own).ChristmasStockingTeddy2Then I embarrassed myself by buying the newly arrived Christmas stuff from the local supermarket as photo props – coins, Quality Street, a Lindt Santa and some walnuts and oranges.ChristmasStockingBaubles1But I liked the photos taken with some of my vintage decorations best.ChristmasStockingsAllThe photos look really dark on here…it’s one of the problems when photographing red and at this time of year.ChristmasStocking2

You can find them in the shop and on Folksy.

 

 

 

 

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!

Nibbling…

People who step into my home might not believe I’m a fan of decluttering and neatness, I am certainly never going to be a minimalist but I am actually quite organised and I do prefer a clean and tidy space (really!).¬† I’ve been working through the house attempting to decorate and complete any unfinished jobs; the main problem is time, I just don’t have any spare and it does take time to declutter and tidy, I sometimes lose momentum when projects drag out and I find I have to action lots of little tricks I know to keep myself going. I’m not in a position to pay anyone to do the work for me and I do quite enjoy knowing I’ve done everything myself, so it’s always worth it in the end.

I’m trying to apply the same principals to The Linen Cat; if I keep nibbling away at the endless list of ‘jobs’ things will get done and each tick eases the pressure a little.DSC_0081There are a number of items on the long list and one of those is getting the website completed as I changed the layout and style a while ago but couldn’t settle on a logo and banner. I don’t have much of a clue about working in Photoshop so I do my best with the knowledge I do have and I think it works, but boy, does it take forever!

Scan 2018-1-30 13.23.57The cat idea is from ages ago but I had abandoned it as it didn’t feel right at the time. On a re-visit, I quite like it again, so I worked up the sketches and created a banner that feels good, for now.

BlackCat3The collar went as she looked like a vicar cat….but she might get a bow around her neck, at a later stage and annoyingly, the banner used in the Create templates can only be stupidly narrow so there is no room to use extra text.CatSingle8 (1)

Too many other things to do right now, including a stock take and moving some pieces into the sale section to allow any further time on this. Another issue I have is being a perfectionist and sometimes I just need to know when to step away.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 13.31.47Nibble, nibble, just keep nibbling away and it will all be OK in the end.

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?

Vintage Summer Deer Apron

Following on from the success of the Winter Deer Apron I made *ahem* in 2013 (which you can read all about here),

DSC_0031it was obvious to me to have a go at a summer version, ideally in pretty pink and again using a vintage style deer in the applique. ¬†For those who have been reading my blog for some time, you’ll know the apron itself is an original 1958 pattern that I rather fell in love with (again, more info on the original post) but I adorned it with a deer and trees in my winter version, instead of the cowboy Santa.c76e98340f57083f6f36067cf55f03d3I don’t think I’ve ever showed the deer I used for the apron (I showed some Decal deers which were the front runners at the time). ¬†It’s a plastic vintage one, it comes up for sale all the time in Etsy and such, I’m assuming it’s from the 1950’s and this one even has it’s bell intact! ¬†So cute, it always makes me think of Babycham.DSC_0076For the new apron, the deer got a new stance, I was aiming for Bambi style bottom in the air, sniffing a butterfly style.

DSC_0140Looking back at the photos, I kind of wish I’d gone with the grass and fauna of the top sketch, as my final fawn does look a bit like he’s floating in the air….never mind.

DSC_0059Lots of cutting and snipping and ironing.DSC_0139And stitching..DSC_0155And endless hours and hours of sewing on bias binding!!

DSC_0015But¬†finally, a nice little stack of aprons, all ready for Mothers Day. ¬†Or not. ¬†But they would make a lovely Mothers Day gift, I think. ¬†I’m keeping one for myself, anyway.

ApronPinkFolded

I’ve really struggled to take photos today, the sun was blasting down which is a bonus for everything except taking decent shadowless photos and typically, it’s now gone behind a nice hazy cloud, now that I’ve given up and stuck with my rather grey images.

ApronDeerPinkEditedIt’s definitely the down side of always making new things in small batches, each time I have to photograph, edit and list them; but then I’d be bored if I only made a few things over, day after day.

ApronDeerPinkDetail

They are listed here and hopefully (soon) on Folksy.

Right, back to the grind, too much to do and too little time, and my first day with the boys back at school is flying by far too quickly.

 

The Owls Are Back…!

It’s been a while since I made a batch of owl lavender bags (2011 was the last time, I believe), they were one of my first designs and I got a bit bored¬†with making them, to be honest.

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But as tends to happen, I suddenly missed them so though I’d make some more.

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I’d planned to take lots of making photos, but they were mostly stitched in the recent damp period, otherwise known as Rainageddon and dark skies make for crappy photos. ¬†Also, I’ve had a couple of totally blatant copying issues recently, thankfully easily sorted but still upsetting and it makes me feel nervous of how much I want to reveal about my making process here on the blog. ¬†I’d feel sad not to show the usual photos, but I can’t help but notice people often pin them on their ‘going to make for the next craft fair’ boards and I’m not talking about the pretty final product shots, I am talking about the images of inside out rabbits etc, so they are clearly being pinned to help work out how to best copy my work and it makes me think that maybe I shouldn’t reveal so much here, as often the construction is half the battle of working out a design. ¬†I’m getting paranoid in my old age (not that it would take that much effort to work out how to copy this owl and I’m talking about other designers openly claiming an exact copy of my work as their own on promotional sites, not people just making a version for themselves).

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Ah the stack photo, as always it makes me very happy ūüôā

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I’ve started to take new photos of all my current stock, especially as Create have finally changed to high res images THANK GOD!! I tell you, my main gripe with their otherwise excellent web hosting service was the awful compressed image quality, for an ‘art’ based seller of any kind it’s a deal beaker really.

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You can find them here.

Tweed Flower Purses: Part 1…

I have spent the day, putting this lot ‘together’ and trying to get some decent photos as we have the best weather for that ¬†– slightly cloudy, to reduce shadows, but with enough light to get clear colours.

I really do feel overly excited about these new purses as I’ve been working on them for nearly one and a half years. ¬†That’s even worse than the acorn brooches, I’m sooooooooo slow. ¬†In fact,¬†their back story is long and might bore you so if you’re not interested, I suggest skipping to the end. ¬†I’ve had to split the purses into 2 posts to try to shorten things.

So, back in Spring, 2011, when I made my first flower brooches, I had already thought that it would be an excellent idea to put them onto purses. ¬†At the time, I was thinking more of a large bag, a bit like the a smaller version of the Amy Butler ‘Weekender’ bag (as above), but this idea tanked when I truly considered the cost of fabric, lining and zip, let alone the hours of making and creating my own design and pattern. ¬†I realised no-one would want to pay the price it would cost to produce, so I had a re-think and decided to go for something much smaller.

In fact more on the scale of the Tweed Bunny Purses. ¬†I really like these but it’s nice to mix things up a little and bunnies aren’t for everyone. ¬†I wanted to take away the best bits and what I do love about them is the handle, having taken mine on many ‘outings’ I really appreciate being able to hang it from my arm, I also like the zip, but this may just be me, in fact I’ll get back to this point a little later on.

Over the summer of 2011, I played with lots of samples. ¬†In my head the orignal purse was definitely made from tweed (of course!) and was always rounded so that’s where I started. ¬†I wouldn’t normally work directly in the final fabric, especially wool, which can be quite expensive but in this case, part of the point of playing with samples was to see how the interlinings etc worked with the weight of the tweed, so I needed the real stuff.

There was a big stall here, as I became busy with winter products for 2011 and my grand plans to have the new purses ready for that season had to be abandoned. ¬†It obviously stuck in my mind though, as the idea of using detachable flowers kept cropping up; for example, when I made myself a messenger bag , in February (blogged here). ¬†This gave me the kick up the bum to get going again. ¬†I wasn’t happy with the sample round shape, so I trawled my own vintage bag collection for inspiration and found this:

with it’s nice pleats! ¬†Fab idea. ¬†This led to the sample you can see in the bottom right, above.

Again, it wasn’t so easy. ¬†There is an insane amount of ‘machine tacking’ going on to get those folds straight and even. ¬†I managed to find a method that wasn’t awful to sew, below you can see a finished purse, before I removed the yellow tacking stitches.

Another issue is the bulk at the sides. ¬†No matter how well I trim the interfacing away, at points the machine is expected to sew through very, very thick layers; more importantly, to go from a thin layer to a very thick one which causes some ‘pulling’ of the stitch. ¬†The bags are triple stitched and sewn from both directions, so there is no way they are coming apart, but this imperfection annoys me. ¬†Still, there is nothing I can do, the bonus is I notice the stitching is ‘settling’ down over time as the seams relax into their new shape.

I had fun choosing the lining fabrics. ¬†This is where I used up all my Cloud 9 ‘Leaves’ before remembering I needed it for the recent¬†Lavender Birds, resulting in a hasty Etsy search to track down the last bit ever – duh! ¬†Inside, the bags each has a small pocket, I figured it’s a good idea to have somewhere to put your credit card so it doesn’t get scratched.

Next I had fun working out which flower brooches to use.  I settled on a grouping of three auriculas for the green tweed bag version.

It has a second ring of felt in the middle, which is slightly different to the other auricula¬†Flower Brooches that I sell, in fact I like it so much, if I make any more I’ll incorporate this idea.

The leaves are also different, I needed something a bit plainer as the tweed I normally use is the same as the bag body. ¬†I spent far too much money on wool, trying to get a shade of green I liked. ¬†This one cost nearly ¬£40/meter!!! and I’m not even that keen. ¬†Still the leaves take up such a small amount it goes a very long way and I’ll make sure I use the remainder for something extra special.

Here’s the final bag

and to try and give you some idea of the size, me attempting to hold it whilst trying to photograph it with the other hand.

I also made a dark brown version, with a pink zip and pink flowers.

and a lining in ‘Dogwood Bloom Harvest’ by Joel Dewberry¬†.

As you can see, the brooches are a good size. ¬†They are made with the same care and attention as all my flower brooches and have similar ‘tidy’ backs.

Problems. ¬†I’m not sure the zips will be for everyone, I did think lots about having a bag ‘flap’ instead, with a magnetic snap or similar, but I like that if it’s on it’s side, swinging from your arm, nothing can accidentally fall out (like those diamond earrings you popped into the pocket for wearing later…hey, a girl can dream!). ¬†I also thought about all the different ways of inserting a zip. ¬†The basic method I’ve used works the best, as it keeps the layering of heavy fabric and lining to a minimal at either end, and I deliberately didn’t top stitch it down on the sides as I don’t like how that looks in this case, but it smacks rather of a posh pencil case and I’m not sure that reflects all the work involved, especially in lining up the pleats and getting them even.

Pricing. ¬†God I hate pricing things up. ¬†So, after a LOT of asking around, researching on Etsy etc, totting up the fabric and the hours, these have gone on at ¬£30. ¬†I just can’t make them for less, in fact I lose out a bit here (in the making time part, I try to make sure I earn a reasonable wage for this bit) so these will definitely be a seasonal thing, if I do ever make them again. ¬†I am not a great business women in this way, I quite often get drawn into the enjoyment of designing and making something and can over complicate things. ¬†I find it hard to balance out what a ‘customer’ might want, both in the product and price versus the detail I would like to add.

You can find them here, along with the acorn version which I’ll blog about next (part 2!).