Linen Mice Specials: The Red Shoes

First, thanks lovely ladies, who were kind enough to comment on my last post (you know who you are!), it’s really nice of you to still be reading, let alone commenting after my serious blog neglect and I really do appreciate it.

OK…where to start. The title says it all really, I guess.3965748679_4e68ed8727

Every year I find myself saying I’ll never make linen mice specials again. They are time-consuming and expensive to make, verses the price I feel I can sell them for; but then, every year, I get an idea into my head (I already have one for next year!) and I really struggle to let it go.1200

Like many little girls, I went through a phase of wanting to be a ballet dancer (somewhere between wanting to be a fairy and a nurse, probably) and I did dance for quite a few years as a child, before getting bored in secondary school and giving it up, something I later regretted. That and my penchant for watching old movies, again something I’ve done since I was a kid (we didn’t have many channels, you know, and only very limited kids TV….and we walked to school barefoot and were lucky to get jam on our bread, ha ha) meant I got obsessed with the idea of ‘The Red Shoes’ mice. I wont bang on about the movie, only say it’s fabulous and a classic and if you haven’t ever seen it, it’s definitely worth watching.

(On a side note, I just LOVE the colour of Moira Shearer’s hair….I’ve just comeback from the hairdressers and have gone my usual, similar, bright, fake red…wish I had her figure too!)dsc_0139I started them back in January, which is often the case for winter specials. I do quite a bit of designing and planning for the next festive season, just after one has passed; I think I just want to commit to some of the new ideas I’ve had that I don’t find time to make with all the craziness that happens in the run up to Christmas . dsc_0143There were mistakes, as always, with the odd swear word used, dsc_0140but I’ve managed to refine the making technique of mice to avoid the past pain of turning the whole thing out, skirts and all, through a teeny, tiny gap in the side. Bonus.img_20160415_135723On another side note, one Secret Cinema event I’d have loved to have attended, was ‘The Red Shoes’. A blogger at the time (no longer blogging, sadly) had a stall there and it was one of my first introductions to how Secret Cinema works. Oh, just looked and they have a very short movie/link to the experience if you want to get a feeling for how it works.dsc_0013I worked on them over the summer, Instagrammed them (and subsequently sold a few before I got to blog and list them, sorry);resshoesmouseeditedbut the last few have just gone live in the shop.dsc_0004dsc_0024I really am supposed to be winding down the things that don’t make a great profit, but at the same time, I really enjoy making them and they are always fun to photograph, usually because of the skirts and shoes…..we’ll see, maybe there will be more next year  after all 🙂

Winter Deer Apron

This all started ages ago, when I was hunting down a vintage apron image I had once seen, which inspired the pockets on my apple aprons.  I had saved the image somewhere on my laptop but couldn’t find it, so I was searching google images when this cute little pattern from 1958 popped up.

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I couldn’t resist it and bought it straight away from an Etsy seller.

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It was clear to me that I was interested in the apron shape, less so in the appliqued images (although I might have changed my mind on this one and plan to make a santa/cowboy version for next year!) and that I really, really wanted a deer on there and two trees.  I’m not sure how I came about that exact plan, but that is often the case, I get a finished image in my head and then become obsessed by trying to re-create it in real life.  I did do some sketches in my notebook (which I have forgotten to photograph, sorry) and hunted down photos of deer as possible inspiration.  I was quite happy with this shape, taken from a decal image found via google.

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I then got a bit obsessive about different ways to do the trees, this was last year and I sketched plenty, only to choose something totally different in the end.  When I was changing my notice board over to ‘winter’ images, this wrap pack (I think designed by Patrick Hruby), bought from Wrap (I see their winter magazine is out, might have to pop that into my basket after writing this post) came out of my box and was pinned onto the board.  The little red tree, on the left, totally inspired the trees on my apron.

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That and the excessive amount of green fabric scraps I own….green is a favourite colour around here!

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The trees were sewn on and my sample apron placed on my tailors dummy, at which stage I re-thought the deer shape.  I had (as per the earlier photo) done a plain fabric mock-up of the finished apron, this was partly to determine the size was correct, but also to play with pattern placement etc, it’s always interesting to me that no matter how much you plan, once you start working in the final fabrics, things quite often change or no longer look right.  I wanted something a bit more kitsch and stylised, so a more ‘Bambi’ looking fawn offered the solution.

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I then stalled for a bit whist I decided to go with the bow, or no bow; at this point I was also a bit disappointed in the clumsiness of the zig-zagged tree outline, compared to the more delicate applique of the fawn.  I’m trying, these days, to live with things that mildly annoy me, as I doubt other people notice.

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I also considered some gold snowflakes on the upper right of the apron, but after trying out various methods (bought gold appliqued snowflakes, printed ones and some samples done in free machine embroidery, in gold thread) I decided it was too fussy and no method looked neat enough, so I left them off.DSC_0036

Finally, the finished apron.  It is true to the original pattern shape, so has slight ‘wings’ on either side when worn, from the curve, this is partly down to the stiffness the pockets and binding add, both of which should soften down with wear and washing.

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I was absolutely sure that I wanted to use the barbers stripe bias binding shown in the original pattern and last year bought some on-line that never turned up 😦  In a way I’m glad, as I think that, too, would have been a bit fussy.  Also, after ordering some mini red gingham that ended up being out of stock, I replaced it with a red and white candy strip for the apron back, which I really, really like.

Deer Apron Cut Out Shadow

I think it’s obvious from all the above that one of the biggest challenges was photographing the apron.  The light at this time of year really isn’t great and red is notoriously hard to capture.  In the end I had to resort to settling for these slightly grainy images and some help from Photoshop.DSC_0039

Because I’m not sure this would have been good enough for a shop listing – ha ha!

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I’m happy.  I wore my own version to start some Christmas cooking earlier this week (bread sauce, stuffing, rum sauce etc for the freezer, it’s just us this year so I don’t want to be cooking all day and all these things freeze well for up to a month or so).  I am totally converted to apron wearing since making the apple ones, they make me feel almost glamorous in the kitchen and it certainly made me smile putting this one on.  On the price front, they are on higher at £33 each.  I need to make a profit and find increasingly that my margins are getting really tiny, these take up a lot of fabric and were time-consuming to sew.  On a completely separate note, I found myself hunting down original Babycham glasses on the internet this morning, it’s all about the deer around here this year!

You can find them here 🙂

Red Riding Hood Linen Mice…

I had forgotten about inset day at school this week, followed by lunch out with my Mum and Aunt (down here visiting my Sister from Yorkshire) and then coffee this morning with some friends, all in all there hasn’t been much sewing done.

On a very happy note, I did manage to finish and photograph the new Linen Mice specials so without any more chat here is the first, a sweet Red Riding Hood version.

My only regret is I did think of adding a white underskirt with a lace edge but I could keep on adding more detail and there has to be a cut off point, I keep thinking how yummy this shot would be with a lace underskirt….ah well, she does have very nice white linen frilly knickers.

The linen for the capes was hand dyed and the colour mixed as I had a very specific kind of dark scarlet in mind that I couldn’t get from using straight Dylon dye colours.  It’s always a bit hit and miss, even though I do lots of mini dye tests when mixing the colours but on this occasion has worked a treat.

This last photo makes me very happy, you know what I’m like about ‘neat little piles’ shots 🙂

And just so you understand how long some things take me to complete, the below photo was taken back in May!!!  Now I had planned this as an early autumn product but I got side-tracked, as you do.

Still the few that are left (sorry, half were already spoken for) are listed here.  Also, just to be clear I wont be making any more girl Linen Specials this side of the New Year, I had hoped to make a batch of Ballerina Mice but time hasn’t allowed and I think I am done with the fiddly turning out, as above, that is like squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle.
Next post, Pirate Mice.