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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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!).

Monster Purses…grrrrrrrr

That’s a nice little monstery ‘grrrrr’ by the way, not a cross one.  I am being forced to watch ‘The Wizz’ (in case you’ve never seen it, the movie tagline is: ‘An adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” that tries to capture the essence of the African American experience’ and it was filmed in the late 70’s and has Michael Jackson in it) for the umpteenth time so perhaps it’s even a cowardly lion kind of grrrrr, at least that’s what I think of whenever I see the monster purses.  

When I often say I started something weeks ago, I wonder if you think I exaggerate?  Well I really don’t.  The below little stack of monster purses have been patiently sitting on their tray for many, many weeks, nearly complete but still without linings.

The linings have to be stitched by hand and it makes my poor fingers very sore, I quite often use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through (it has to be stitched through a number of layers, hence the difficulty) and I’ve tried using a leather thimble but alas it’s not meant to be, I need to spend some time retraining myself to use thimbles as it would make life a lot easier (I used to use them when stitching period clothing but have got out of the habit).  I just get sore blistered fingers instead.  I suffer for my art 😉

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, the little stack was complete – hurrah!

Something I’ve realised over past months is I really enjoy having products completely ready to send out (such as the flower brooches and little birds), and by that I mean with labels attached (where appropriate) and packaged so all I have to do is print off a delivery slip and pop them in the post box.  All lavender bags are stuffed to order and many other things need to be packed up nicely, all little details that take time, something I don’t always have a lot of at the moment, especially in the mornings and I do like to get orders out as swiftly as possible.

So all the new batch of little monster purses have been tagged and bagged and stacked into boxes ready to go.  The bagging is a great help as the cotton corduroy tends to pick up fluff very easily, it comes lovely and clean with the aid of sellotape but if left unbagged would need to be cleaned again before posting off, this solves the problem.

As far as those satisfying ‘project done’ moments go, this one really did make me feel happy.  I took so many photos of the neat little stack of bagged and ready purses and also loads of them lined up on the bench before packaging,

as I figured I’m unlikely to make such a big batch in one go again, it was almost a bit much and I think is partly why they took me so long.  I do enjoy my sewing, some parts of each process I find a bit tedious and some really fun but on the whole I really enjoy it or I wouldn’t do it, I do find I need to strike the balance between the two though or it get’s overwhelming.  The reward of a final finished stack is always my favourite bit as most regular readers know.

The monster purses have always been popular, my boys love theirs and they got a new one each (C a green one and F a red – their favourite colours) to take to Berlin, attached to their messenger bags.  I think these are just one of those things I’ll always be running out of and so need to keep a constant flow going, or simply accept they will often be out of stock and maybe a seasonal item.  In fact I feel a bit guilty as it’s taken me a while to publish this post and quite a few of the purses have sold already (thanks everyone that’s bought one!).

I made a new purple version.

And much to F’s delight a red one that I think has a slight demonic tone to it!  Purely accidental, I didn’t like the yellow eyes so I added a brown dot in the centre of each and it has given them  a naughty devil (in a cute kind of way) look.

I have also taken some new photos of the purses being held so you can get an idea of the size.  I have always photographed them with coins at the side, hoping this had the same result but I’m not sure the scale was obvious enough.  As you can see, they are small coin purses, not big enough to hold a credit card (I have sold quite a lot to adults, so might make a bigger version with this is mind) but I aways imagined them to be the right size to be squished into a little boys pocket if needs be.

Right, enough.  You can find them here.

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!