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.

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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 🙂

Acorns…

So when did these first appear?  Back in September 2011 I blogged them for the first time and even then, I’d been working on/thinking about them for a year.

They then appeared again twice more, used as decorations on wrap gifts and lots of you lovely folk asked me when they would be arriving in the shop…..I optimistically said that winter.  Sadly it didn’t happen as I just got snowed under with lots of other projects and the acorns proved to take a lot longer to make than I had anticipated.  I had to spread out felting the balls (for the acorn body) as the whole soap hot water/cold water thing makes my hands itch like crazy, and sewing the cups was a nice little bit of therapeutic hand sewing, but it did take a while for each acorn so I decided to spread it out over the spring and summer months.

Also, I figured that brooches might be a better thing than hanging decorations and this is where I’ve dragged a bit on listing them.  I did manage to make up quite a few brooches, but the hanging ones I made were snaffled up by family and friends before they were even mounted on cards.  I’d hoped to make more but I’m being realistic about time so figured I’d just get what I have put into the shop and if I do get more hanging ones done – bonus.

Ah those group shots do make me happy.

This gives and idea of the size.  You know, the acorns kind of make me giggle as they remind me of comedy ‘boobs’ in a Beryl Cook kind of way.  Perhaps that’s just my mind and not something I should share, but there you go.

So they are now, finally, listed.  Sorry it took so long and if you’re in the market for a new tweed purse you might want to hang on a bit as I have some coming with an acorn brooches attached, I just need to take the photos (although they will retail at about £30, maybe a bit more when I price them out).

Oh and there are 2 hanging ones left, here.

The Best Laid Plans…

As predicted, the bliss of the first few weeks of the boys being back at school and the list of work I had hoped to achieve hasn’t exactly gone to plan.  It’s not been a total disaster by any means, I have managed to add some much-needed exercise into my daily routine; I leave the car at school and walk back, then walk the return to pick up C at lunchtime as it’s too far for the boys to manage each day but sometimes I persuade them to walk with me.  It’s great to see signs of Autumn arriving all around us, the boys are generally quite interested in nature so we have fun picking up bits and pieces to add to our little ‘nature’ window ledge at home.

I made these felt acorns last Winter and figured I’d try and finish them off whilst I’m in the Autumnal mood, it’s taken me a year to make some leaves.  They were completely inspired by the Fox noses I was stitching back then, I liked the idea of using chain stitch to make the acorn cases, to be honest this takes quite a while so they may never develop any further than the few I’ve stitched for myself to hang on cupboard doors but it’s a good starting point, I think some gold is needed in there to sparkle them up a bit, maybe in the hanging ribbon?

As always there’s been a little bit of on-line retail therapy.  I needed to order some fabric from Liberty’s and sneaked in these new tins for stashing labels and pins in, they are by Froy & Dind and I’d happily buy the entire range should I find time to rob a bank or win the lottery (neither being very likely).

I also sneaked in this Lolita Cup in cream and blue, it’s for our bathroom once I find time to paint it.  Hey, it’s only been waiting for about 4 years, I’m sure I’ll get around to it some time soon.

Last Friday I was treated to a very special last minute BBC Proms night on Friday (courtesy of my Sister) which also included an overnight stay in the very plush Kensington Hotel (also courtesy of my Sister – she treats me well and I am most grateful!).  I don’t get away all that often and it was most exciting to sit in a posh bar drinking cocktails and munching snacks with my glad rags on, the rather opulent seating and dining area is very relaxed and I noticed they offer Afternoon Tea.  The website states they are also quite child friendly with a babysitting service and extra beds available in the rooms; the ‘Dress Code’ bit made me laugh, it says on the Mr & Mrs website ‘Comfortable, low-level glamour’.  The Prom was excellent and we followed up the next day with some shopping at Anthropologie, Fortnum & Mason with a swift Liberty’s Cafe stop before I had to dash back to M and the boys.  It reminded me how much I enjoy mooching around London, when we first moved out I used to pop back once a week to meet friends for lunch and get my city fix, but these days it’s a very rare opportunity.

I mostly window shopped but did by a few bits from Anthropologie.  I had such a nice time in the store admiring the displays and products but I was disappointed with the finishing quality of the clothing.  Don’t get me wrong, the designs were great and there was plenty that I lusted after (and I did buy a gold top with some lovely detailing on the neckline), but for the price I didn’t feel the detail was up to scratch, there were some really shoddy buttonholes and lots of loose threads.  Still, it’s up there on my ‘must visit’ list when I do make it into the big smoke and I would happily wear pretty much everything they sell if money allowed, shoddy buttonholes or not.

Finally, as this post seems to be all about pretty things with a nature theme, I bought a new brooch from Joanna Rutter a short while ago, I’m lusting after the silver necklace version but for now this will be lovely pinned to my everyday corduroy jacket.

And now, joy of joys I need to walk back again to school as the car has broken down (again, it did the same last week).  Although I do enjoy walking, even in bad weather spending four and a half hours of my day going back and forth does take the shine of it!  Let’s hope we get the car back for tomorrow 🙂

Last Foxes listed…

Blimey, it’s all getting a bit hectic around here.  I am desperately trying to finish and list all my Winter products, they have their own section on the shop.  To be honest, there is still a lot of tweaking going on at my site and I really need to update the photos on the front page and change some of the shop pages but for now

Mrs Fox in Blue and Berries (only 2 left)

Mr Fox in Dandy Blue (1 available here and the last one on Folksy)

And Mrs Fox in Purple and Mirabelle, are all now listed for sale.

Sadly, all the purple Mr Foxes have already sold 😦

That’s all for today, a quickie but I need to get back to work or Ballerina and Fairy Mice wont get made and the Tweed Bunny Purses will never get listed.

I have Vertigo….and no, I don’t mean the movie (great though it is!)

I am feeling rather sorry for myself, which isn’t like me.  I woke on Tuesday to find the world spinning, along with intense motion-sickness style nausea, I had to crawl (oh yes) to the top of the stairs and shout for help.  Apparently I have Vertigo , thanks to good old NHS Direct for their help here as after an hour of trying to get through to our local doctors I gave up.  I did manage to speak to the duty Doctor by phone later in the day who confirmed the diagnosis, saying it’s probably viral and prescribed me anti-nausea medication.  For the first time since I have been a child I spent 2 days in bed, I simply couldn’t move, not even my head, I am usually a stop-fussing-and-get-on-with-it kind of person but I have never felt so ill.

This was my view on day 3 when I made myself sit up in bed (let’s face it, in hospital they would have shoved my legs into surgical stockings quicker than you can say, “thrombosis” if I planned to stay laying down for 2 days) and walk about a bit.  I was cross amongst other things to be missing the snow, we really don’t get it that often and it’s very pretty, as you can see I moved into the old brass bed in our spare room so I didn’t feel too cut off and the view is rather nice.

I am glad to say things are much improved, M had to go away to the US on Thursday morning so we decided if I could manage the boys (at a pinch) and find someone to do the school run as there’s no chance of my driving (thanks lovely friends) I would try and get on with it.

(This, along with the photo in the last blog give you an idea of the whole of our spare room/studio.  I love the quality of light we get from the glass front…oh and yes, Mr C has shoes on whilst on the bed and not even his! tut, tut).

Just as a quick demo of how ill I felt, a huge backlog of deliveries (15 packages and boxes to be precise) arrived and I didn’t even think about opening them.  Now, granted there was a lot of boring stuff like ink cartridges and paper but there were some gems in there including

this lovely Sale pumpkin pin cushion from The Daily Pincushion which I took rather a fancy to after mine is falling apart through over use

and there has been quite a bit of fabric shopping including this lot from Gone to Earth.  Either side is Anna Maria Horner’s ‘Mingling’ and ‘Tablecloth’ both in Ice and from her Garden Party range.  Again I am thinking ahead here as these are for next winter, it’s just I know exactly where I plan to use them and they are perfect so I would rather buy and store now.  In the middle is ‘Pop Daisy’ in Green by Heather Bailey.

I still have quite bad room spin going on but as long as I keep my head steady (think of one of those posture lessons of balancing books on the head and this is how I am walking around) I feel almost normal.  The one thing I find I can do is laptop work, and sketch book work so I have been reading everyones snowy blog posts which has really cheered me up and I spent some time yesterday updating my sketch book.  It’s really a mix of ideas and a record of past shop work, I promise I can actually draw but that’s not what I intend to do here as you can see from a couple of the pages

I do have lots of things mid design and many other lovely new fabrics which will get blog posts of their own, I just can’t sew right now so I’m leaving you with my snowy picture of the side of our house which I hope to brave going to play in whilst walking very, very slowly, with the boys later.

Christmas is coming…

Not sure I’ve mentioned it, but my husband is German, a Berliner in fact and one of the bonuses are the lovely packages we get sent at Christmas.  We received this fabulous box the other day

stuffed full of German Christmas food, which was superb timing as I usually order some from the German Deli (I pretend it’s to make M feel at home over Christmas but as he’s a ba-humbug and hates anything festive, it’s really for me).  In fact a few years ago I didn’t need to as Sainsburys sold ‘Dominosteine’ which are M’s favourites, they are like a small square jaffa cake with an added layer of marzipan.

This is only half the haul, I am slightly embarrassed to note how many we have already eaten – oops! – oh well, it is the Festive Season after all…

We have also unpacked the ‘famous’ (well, in our house) Mouse Advent Calender which my Mother-in-law puts together each year for the boys.  It’s genius, made out of a 24 perfect mini hand knitted socks, each with a number that hangs on the appropriate pegs.

Once opened they contain a sweet for each of the boys (and sometimes us) and every now and again a laminated mouse picture, which means we have to grab the ‘mouse bag’ and look for the corresponding presents.

The mouse bag has a beautiful embroidered panel stitched to it and pictures of said mouse.  There is always a corresponding card, with a message for the boys (from Mr Mouse) and explanations of the different wrappings (sometimes, we also get presents).  The big finale arrives in German style on Christmas Eve with the main presents.  I am always amazed at the amount of hard work involved, it must take ages to set up and the boys love it, we are very lucky.

The painters left yesterday, hurrah!  Nice to have the house back, still quite a bit of painting to do and flooring to lay but it means I can clean and tidy, ready for putting up the Christmas decorations this weekend.  To get me in the mood I started on the kitchen with these cute glass birds from Ikea.

Although I am quite traditional with my colours in the main rooms, I quite like black and silver in the kitchen and it was a good excuse to hang one of my Blackbirds from the cupboard doors.

Playing Catch-up…

It’s all go around here, I am ‘confined’ to the kitchen/living area again, this time because we have the decorators working in the hallway.  I am very excited as I am normally the painter and decorator but I really don’t have time, it’s odd paying someone else to do it, feels a bit like money down the drain but it’s so very exciting to peek in and see the transformation and there is no way with Mr C still at home full time that I could have done it.

The shop has also been busy, I seem to be packing and posting throughout the day.  In fact I had a run on fairies which I wasn’t expecting so there has been a lot of this

frantic last minute making, and I ran out of cashmere bears so have had to run up a batch of those

I am slightly alarmed that I will run out of the lovely cashmere/wool blend fabric as I only bought 6 meters and it was an ebay find so is all gone now.  I love it so much, I’m not sure what I will replace it with.  I have been doing a bit of ebay fabric buying recently, in fact this lovely Liberty Tana Lawn arrived this morning

The pattern is ‘Wiltshire’ and I have bought it for next winter (thinking ahead!).  My winter coat has the same fabric as lining and I have had a project in mind for some time, one I had planned for this year but haven’t had time for.

I’ve also packed up some stock for the School Christmas Bazaar,

they were asking for ‘homemade’ items to sell so this is my contribution.

There has been time for a little cooking, the squash I grew makes a great decoration but I wanted to make sure some gets eaten whilst still in it’s prime.  I made a squash pizza from the book Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, one of my favourite cook books which has the best photos.

I am done now.  No more making for the shop, if I run out, I run out but I have blinds to make for my sister and still a bag to make for my Mother and I want some time to tidy and decorate the house (tidy being the big one right now) so I have decided to sew for the shop this week and then stop.  Yeah, right!  Like that’s gonna happen.

Finally, as always, I have found just a little bit of time for some online shopping (other than fabric) and I treated myself to

some Christmas origami cranes on the Folksy shop Little Crane to hang in the kitchen window and some book name stickers bought from the wonderfully talented (come on, we all know her) Emily Martin over at the black apple.

Right, need to get on, things to do, places to go and all that.  Oh, there’s still time to enter my Christmas giveaway if you haven’t left a comment, go on, it’s free!

(PS sorry for the dodgy photos but the light has been very bad as of late)

Very overdue post about some more Lovely Objects…

Just can’t get away from the word ‘lovely’ can I?

I am ashamed to say I bought some of the below a very, very long time ago so apologies it has taken so long for me to post about them.

First up, back in June I was picked as a Folksy Featured Seller and was asked to choose the sellers for July.  Among them was Jemima Lumley who makes beautiful jewellery, so beautiful in fact that I fell in love with one of her cuffs and made M buy it as my rather belated Birthday present (if you don’t ask you don’t get, besides he had been asking what I would like for 4 months).  It’s silver rolled with antique lace to leave an imprint and I wear it most days, which is great for me as I used to be rather stylish but these days I leave the house looking like a bag lady, at least my wrist can be well dressed.

(Sorry about the awful photo but I am struggling a bit today).

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I am also rather partial the this lovely crochet necklace (which I wear as a bracelet) made by Izabela at Blue Fish Handmade on Folksy.  It’s delicate but not so much so that I fear wearing it.  Izabela has so many things in her shop I would like and as always I have crochet skills envy.

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Next, I started my Christmas shopping early, it makes me feel a bit more in control of the mayhem that is my life and makes it a bit easier on the wallet.  With this in mind I bought this wonderful stained glass bird brought from Flora of Through the Round Window (also at Folksy).  It came beautifully packaged and I am very pleased, in fact I may be keeping it which is a bit naughty.

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Whilst yet again on the subject of Christmas, I recently bought this fabric

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from Saints and Pinners.  I mentioned a while back that I wasn’t entirely happy with the fabric I used for my winter Lavender Birds, annoyingly the above is exactly what I had in mind, it’s the perfect colour for a winter Robin and not too Christmassy, if you know what I mean.  Too late for this year but I couldn’t resist buying a bit.  Also, big thanks to Jo and Fran for giving The Linen Cat such a lovely write up on the Saints and Pinners Blog, made my day.

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Lastly, we have my new winter boots from Celtic Sheepskin.  I do have some lovely healed boots but for school runs and quick dashes out into the cold you can’t beat a nice pair of sheepskin knee highs.  I prefer these to Uggs as they are taller which works better for me as I wear quite a few skirts and it’s a more flattering height.  I became addicted to them during my first pregnancy when my wide feet wouldn’t fit into anything else and the boys each have a pair courtesy of Auntie Tori last Christmas, they were perfect for Yorkshire and I love the fact I can shove them in the wash.

Blackbird singing…

First, I have to share this little gem.  Among the ‘Top Searches’ on my dashboard that bring people to this blog are ‘I will walk 500 miles cbbc space pirates’ which I guess brings them to my post The boys are back in town... where I talk about The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (they soooo rock!) and also ‘rubber knickers’!!!?!!,  sorry for the over use of punctuation but I have no idea where I have ever mentioned knickers in post, let alone rubber ones.  Bet they were a bit disappointed to find themselves at a crafty blog.

Thank you for all your kind words with regards to F starting school and messages wishing me luck with the builders.  We are getting into the swing of the new school run (half days for now, increasing to full days soon) and there is the lovely sound of constant drilling as the builders remove the old ragstone to make way for a new door but I like them, we chose well.  As a result sewing has been very slow and it has taken longer than anticipated to get the new birds finished but at last they are done (please excuse the dodgy photos but the light hasn’t been great recently).

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I already know the Backbirds will be hard to sell.  A few years ago Habitat themed their Christmas with a cross between Hanzel and Gretel meets Russian Folk, I was in heaven, it was right up my street and some of my favourite decorations are from that year.  The Blackbird has a similar tone with it’s My Folklore in black by Lecien body (which I bought from Fabric Rehab), although I am not sure it will be for everyone.  I searched quite hard for heather purple and dark green print fabrics for the new birds, but couldn’t find anything right so feel a little that I ‘settled’ for the colours used although I am very happy with the new ribbon tails (the Spring Birds had felt and ric-rac).

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I have to now hope for good light over the next few days so as to photo of all of the new stock and update the shop which is well over due, fingers crossed!

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