New Flower Brooches…

How was it for all you Mums out there? (and Dads of course but I don’t think any read this blog)  For those without kids, it’s just been the half-term holidays for most of the UK.  We survived.  We had a lovely start with a short trip to Yorkshire so stay with Grandma which also incorporated a day in York visiting the National Railway Museum, stocking up in Fat Rascals from Bettys for the freezer and the first ever sledging session for the boys down a hill on an empty plastic feedsack.  I would show you photos but I didn’t take any because I am crap.  Then it went a bit downhill for us with illness laying the boys out for the rest of the holiday and my ever decreasing amounts of sleep meaning I kind of turned into a grumpy monster.  Top that with my turning up to school yesterday to find it was, in fact, an inset day (teacher’s training so no kids) – duh!

Still, I did enjoy the odd bit of hand sewing though and finished up a nice tray of Flower Brooches which have been hanging around cut and ready for some weeks.  I figured that they’d make lovely Mother’s Day gifts and even for Easter they are quite nice.

The buttercup ones are always popular so I re-stocked a few of those

and then I made some new style purple roses with double blooms, they are quite difficult to sew as there is a lot of ruffle to get through but I like the finished results.

Finally, my favourite, some auricula.  I really do like these, probably because they remind my of my pathetic attempt to grow some last year and also because they incorporate my very favourite dark burgundy felt.

I also like the shape of the leaf, they had started out as pale yellow primroses but somehow changed to burgundy auricula.  I’m keeping one of these for myself.

I had hoped to make some more styles but I need to get these packaged up this afternoon (which takes longer than you think) as I’ve just listed them, you can find both new versions here and some of the purple roses on Folksy.

Next post is a giveaway – hurrah!

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 😉

Spring Cleaning…

Spring is most definitely all around at the moment.  I haven’t listened to any music today, just the birds which are making rather a lot of chatter and with the sun streaming through the studio glass, it is making me very happy.  It wont last, apparently, we are due some low temperatures in the coming days but the general mild temperatures and sping-like feel has made me very enthusiastic to clean both the house (I know, it’s a miracle!) and my shop.

As always I like to start the new year with new colours, and often this is inspired by a fabric.  In this year’s case it’s a lovely sunny yellow (airing on the mustard side, I don’t do any other kind of yellow, especially not acid coloured) ‘Daisy Garland’ from the ‘Just Dandy’ collection by Josephine Kimberling for Robert Kaufman bought from M is for Make.  I love it and have gone a bit overboard with my plans for it’s use, but for now, I’m starting with lavender birds.

I pretty much also always start the year with new birds, I like to change the ones I have here hanging around the house and it fits in with the spring cleaning vibe I’m feeling.

I have also batched up some birds in the fabulous ‘Sophie’ by Chez Moi for Moda.

I’m surprised I like this print so much as I generally prefer a more graphic style.  It reminds me of an old-fashioned painted gypsy caravan, a painter in a village near used to own one and I was in love with is as a child, each time we visit Groombridge I imagine rescuing one of the rather dilapidated ones they have as part of their woodland walk and bringing it back home to return it to it’s former glory.

They were a nightmare to cut, the floral pattern is large and it was difficult to make sure each bird had a fair share of flowers verses background, but I do like the result so it was worth the slight fabric wastage involved.

Both birds are listed here.

On a completely random note, I just discovered that Susan Hill, who wrote ‘The Magic Apple Tree’, one of my favourite books, was also the writer of ‘The Women in Black‘ which for some reason surprised me (I haven’t read any of her fictional work so I didn’t know she had written such a famous ghost story).  I only discovered this after coming across a trailer for the new film version starring Daniel Radcliffe, weirdly I am one of the few not to have seen the stage play, but I did watch the TV version back in 1989  which was shown on Christmas Eve when everyone was out except my brother and me, we ended up so scared he slept in my room on the put up bed.  I have never forgotten it and can remember every detail to this day.  There you go, bit of random chatter for you there and my, hasn’t Daniel grown up! 😉


Pirate Mice…

Now, I forgot to hide these one day and the boys found them almost finished, I felt rather mean gently taking them away but before you think I am an evil mother, they would gladly have one of pretty much everything I make if I let them plus I have promised a special one each in their Christmas stocking (which I have explained I will post to Santa so he has it ready for the big day).

These were really good fun to make, my brain is already buzzing with Linen Mice Specials for next year!  I do hope to make some new Super Hero mice this side of Christmas but I’m not making any promises, I need to try and reduce my handmade present list and finish the acorns first.

They are listed here.  Acorns next 🙂

Mr Badger…

Update:  Thanks for all your lovely comments, all the Mr Badgers have now sold and I am thrilled at such a positive response.  Thank you 🙂

Yesterday I finally finished the badgers.

The finishing touches such as making up the rose brooches, stitching noses and sewing on buttons have taken me a lot longer than I’d imagined,

in fact I still have one badger body to complete, I ran out of stuffing and he needs a bit more in his belly,

on which note, I should say that the only disappointment in the lovely badgers is that their waistcoats are a bit too snug.  This is partly because the tweed I’ve used for the bodies is very stretchy and soft and has expanded more than expected when stuffed and the corduroy doesn’t stretch in the same way the linen does, I’ve also opted for very chunky buttons that don’t help the situation.  I did um and ah about whether to re-make them but I don’t have enough time or fabric and I’m pretty sure it’s just me being a perfectionist.

The cravats are in Liberty ‘Claire-Aude’, a nice red and gold floral print which compliments the yellow corduroy suit very nicely.

I’m really, really pleased with these.  I only had enough of the tweed to make 5, and I decided to add a little rose brooch to each, they have been listed here and I do hope you like them 🙂

Blackcurrant Birds…

My oldest came home from school today very excited about a ‘special treat’ he had for me.  He decided we would turn the bunk beds into a cinema (this involves putting blankets over the sides, fairy lights up and hanging the in-car DVD player from the wall), and I would be given a holiday from working and sewing and could squeeze in and eat my tea in there with the boys and watch a movie.  As a result (and my inability to upset him by explaining I’d much rather sew and in fact have lots of household jobs to do) I am now squeezed into the lower bunk, with my laptop watching ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’.  I can think of worse things to be doing, it’s a bit cramped and smells of little boys feet but hey-ho, I’ve made the little monsters happy so that’s worth it.

Anyhow, as I’m sat here and can’t really do anything I thought I’d list some new Little Birds I finished last week.

I made the above ages ago as gifts for the boys teachers (see here) and decided then that I’d like to make a batch for the Autumn/Winter shop.

I love blackcurrants and I especially love jam and cassis made from the ones we grow in our garden.  I also love the dark purple colour, if you asked me what my favourite colour was I would never say purple but deep berry purples and wine reds are most definitely high on my list, in fact my favourite tights at the moment are some lovely merino wool wine coloured ones.  Just and extra little fact for you there, bet you really wanted to know that.

Here they are all lined up…

and mounted up on cards ready to be popped into cello bags.
Annoyingly difficult to photograph and get the colours even nearly correct, especially in the gloom of the weather at the moment but there you go.  Listed in the shop here and probably on Folksy soon….depending on how the next couple of hours go and if I am allowed to leave my ‘special holiday’.
Ok, off to cuddle little boys and swoon over Mrs Foxes yellow painting smock (I am so going to make myself one of those!) 🙂


Pop open the champagne…

Seriously, there may be the popping sound of a very small bottle of pink fizz opening tonight (well, some sparkling Aussie stuff anyway, as I am the only drinker in the house I have no excuse to open actual champagne) as I have finally updated my Folksy shop.

Long time coming but there have been so many distractions and today is the first in ages that I have felt in control of things and slightly relaxed.

I spent this afternoon stuffing lavender bags and getting this lot ready to send off to Armagh (another order from the lovely folk at the St Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex), I had to make up new monster purses and extra brooches as I didn’t have any spare, in fact I still don’t have new monster purses for my store, they are on my ‘need to make last month’ list along with new lavender owls.  I will get there eventually, I’m sure.

For now I am concentrating on new items and I have finally managed to photograph and list the new Autumn lavender birds.  I started these a very, very long time ago, they were one of my sewing projects I took on our holidays to Yorkshire this Summer (stitching the eyes on that is)

and the tails of the green birds were used for the ‘grass’ in my ‘Gone Fishing’ photo as they were sitting on my desk at the time waiting to be stitched up.

I do like the new birds, they have a perfect Autumn colour palette in my mind; a nice mix of greens, golds and reds

I’m sure many of your will recognise the fabric as ‘Cloud 9 – Leaves’, I have it in a few colour ways and jumped on the red as soon as it appeared on-line some time ago, stashing it away for this time of year.

I have also made and listed (go me!) some new ‘Folk’ lavender birds, these were made to match another project which I may be some time in completing so I thought I’d get the birds into the shop now.

I loved the slightly miss match colour of the folk fabric so much it prompted me to also make a matching version of ‘little birds‘.  Now, if there is a prize for the worst photo in this post this last on wins, I do struggle to get the burgundy felt that I love and use so much correctly captured and I will need to re-take this one with a longer exposure, but at least they are listed and I can relax tonight knowing that my poor Folksy shop isn’t shamefully bare.

I have many other things also completed and ready so be prepared for some coherent posts complete with nice matching photos, now that would be nice wouldn’t it? 😉

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!

Sleep, lovely sleep…

What a difference a decent night’s sleep makes.  I was like a bear with a sore head over the past couple of days, little boys who wander around at night, have nightmares and get up at the crack of dawn plus being ‘home alone’ again as M is away with work has taken it’s toll.  Today is a different story, I had a semi decent nights sleep and I’m full of energy and enthusiasm to get things done.

Making the most (hey, it might not last!) I finished up some Cashmere Bears and listed them.  Very productive.  Sadly, it’s not a very big batch and I will need to make some more of the woodland print ones as they are quite popular but for now I have added a new cream version.

I would have prefered a more mustard yellow for the belly stitching but this was the only Tre Cerchi yellow I have (I always use Coats Tre Cerchi for this tight zig-zag when possible as it gives much better cover being a thicker thread).  Still I like him a lot, he has a kind of polar bear look.

Listed here and one day soon, when I get my act together there will be some added to my Folksy store as well  🙂


Oh yes, to say I’ve been a bit grumpy today would probably be an understatement; I am cheering considerably as I write this entry (which I will finish tomorrow, due to the need for photos), drinking wine and watching an old Dr Who episode but today, for some reason, has been a challenge.  Still, I have finished some blinds for my sister, which are partly to blame for the grump as I really don’t enjoy what I think of as ‘straight line sewing’.  It’s party why I don’t sew many clothes for myself and also why I didn’t slip into making wedding dresses or ball gowns after my degree, which would be an obvious and sensible way to take the costume design when not actually designing and making costumes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love designing and making period work and have a bit of a thing about early 20th century dress designs (hence a LOT of time spent browsing this site after recently watching Atonement and becoming slightly obsessed by the green dress) but I always see the faults in things I make for myself and prefer smaller more detailed work for my daily fix.

I digress. On the cheery side, I am in Molly Makes this month – hurrah! – I did know, they had asked for some photos but it was still a thrill to see it there in print, little old me.  Lovely.

I haven’t actually had a proper chance to read the new MM but from speed reads in-between blind making and catering for the every whim of my boys (one of whom is sick. He actually said to me today, “Mummy, I wish I had a bell so I could ring it when I need something, like they do on TV.” !!!!???) it promises to be just as wonderful as all the issues so far, most definitely a magazine to be proud to be in.

I have made a little ‘Gone Fishing’ sign for the shop front during my holidays. Not great timing considering the MM mention but I’m looking forward to two weeks in my beloved Yorkshire, breathing in the Northern air (which is most definitely different ;)) and hopefully not eating too many Bettys yummies.

Not bad for a 5 mins grab at things hanging around the studio, need to learn more about my camera though, a bit of variation in exposure wouldn’t go amiss.

And if that’s not enough to get a person out of a grumpy mood how about this beauty made from a tutorial found on Heather Bailey’s blog.

It’s a super cute wrist needle pincushion.  I’m not really one for too cute things but this I fell in love with, I really wanted to make it in the purple colour way from her original pincushion version but this was the perfect time to use up all this scraps of felt I insist in keeping (hence the top photo).

So, the shop will be closing this week and I’ve already shut down Folksy.  I need to do some drastic re-stocking and I’ve quite a nice stash of new things to photograph when I get back, ready for the Autumn change over but for now, I intend to enjoy our Summer 🙂