Tweed Flower Purse Give Away – the Winner!


Thank you everyone who entered the tweed purse give away, and for all your lovely comments. Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 15.42.01

The winner is Claire of ‘my norfolk life‘ who left comment number 18 (Claire, I’ve emailed you to get your address).  I hope to have more give aways coming up, I just need to be more organised.

I have pretty much stopped sewing here.  It wasn’t my intention, I had hopped to get a lot more done this season, including some re-stocks of old favourites such as ballerina mice (as so many people asked after them this year) and a new batch of christmas tree fairies but once I stopped, I felt very relaxed and I realised the only person putting pressure on me to get these things done is myself.  There is so much on at the moment that I feel happy with my decision to just leave the shop ticking over for now and to concentrate on other things, I do have quite a few half-finished projects but I’m happy to view them as a bonus get ahead for next year.


I’ve been trying to get the house in order, finishing up some very long-standing jobs and general tidying.  The boys were over the top excited about advent calendars starting yesterday, after a sort pause, I agreed to start putting decorations up.  I don’t normally do this until further into December, although I am very much a Christmas person, I like to wait a bit before dolling the house up.  We haven’t gone too far, just the odd ornament at the moment.


Charlie was desperate to do a ‘woodland scene’ that he could include ‘Foxy’ his favourite soft toy in so I left him too it.  At the time of taking the photo, Foxy is building train tracks with Charlie.  Marcus hates these bristle animals but me and the boys like them so we win 🙂


The boys are spoilt for choice this year with advent, they have their very favourite sock/mouse calendar from Germany and completely homemade.


Not only do they get chocolates, but on some days there is also a ‘parcel’ in the mouse bag.  It’s a lovely way to spread out the present giving and one we all really appreciate.  I am always amazed how good the boys are at not ‘sneak peeking’ in the bag, they love hunting down the correct number when they need to but otherwise the presents sit happily in the sack, untouched by inquisitive little fingers 😉


They also have German ‘Kinder’ calendars and we bought them each a ‘Playmobil’ one after the success of last year’s.  I love how the scene builds over the 25 days, last time they had dinosaur and castle versions, as above.


For me, I bought a Betty’s, Poppy Treffry one with little chocolates inside, to hang in my studio.  I know I could make one for myself, but sometimes it’s just nice to have someone else do the work.  M doesn’t have or want a calender….Bah Humbug 😉

Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend and it hasn’t been too wet, I wouldn’t mind a bit of snow to be honest.

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 😉



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!).