Frida Kahlo, fabric stash and kilner jar pincushions

Frida Kahlo

A little while back I stumbled upon a little online shop called Viva La Frida that sells wonderful Mexican print oilcloth along with Mexican folk art bits and pieces. The colours and patterns all but throw themselves at you and, just as the wand chooses the wizard, I believe the fabric chooses the project and a bag of Viva La Frida remnants all but shouted at me “bunting and bags!”

Oilcloth is an odd thing to work with. Firstly pins mark forever, so I always use clips to hold it in place and, secondly, the vinyl side tends to be reluctant to feed through the sewing machine, so it is quicker and easier and results in far less swearing if you sew through tissue paper both sides of the oilcloth. Actually the nice people at Viva la Frida provide some hints and tips for working with oilcloth.

the sky blue-pink side
the sky blue-pink side
front pocket
front pocket
tote - the green side
tote – the green side
red and green Mexicana tote bag
red and green Mexicana tote bag

The nice lady down the road let me hang the bunting on her front fence to photograph it; she doesn’t even seem surprised by my strange requests these days!

bunting
bunting
Mexicana oilcloth bunting
Mexicana oilcloth bunting
bunting close-up
bunting close-up

fabric stash

For years I have sorted my fabric stash by colour – the quilter in me, no doubt – but you know these days it’s just not the most useful arrangement. So today I did a stock take and arranged the fabric by type of material and pattern:

luxury fabrics:

  • silks
  • velvets
  • glittery stuff

cottons:

  • plain and background patterns
  • arty patterns
  • animal themed prints
  • seaside prints
  • Christmas and Winter prints
  • other themed prints

Utility fabrics:

  • calico
  • sheeting
  • ticking
  • cotton drill

Not only can I now find exactly what I am looking for but I have reminded myself of what fabrics I have and that has refueled my enthusiasm to make a load more things.

fabric stash
fabric stash
fabric by pattern
fabric by pattern
neatly sorted fabric stash
neatly sorted fabric stash

Kilner jar pincushions with sewing kits

Finding I had so much silk and velvet, I put a piece of shot purple/blue silk to good use by adding a pincushion to the lid of a kilner jar. I made one a few months back and now both are in my shop. I have added a simple sewing kit to each jar – I particularly like the vintage style embroidery scissors.

kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit #2
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit #2
sewing kit #1
sewing kit #1
sewing kit #2
sewing kit #2

 

In other news…

After much searching I have found a fabric supplier who also provides details of EN71 compliance, which means that once the fabric arrives I can carry out the CE certification testing on the new fabrics and start making and (hopefully) selling Ellen Mouse!! There are some limitations – no plain brown fabric, so no Freja Mouse production line, and they will all have to have the same pink inside ear fabric, but I am looking forward to getting back to sewing mice. We have visitors next week, so I won’t be sewing (although I may be picking my friend’s brain for crochet help), but soon Ellen Mouse will be back!

 

And finally…

Don’t forget I will be making the draw for the lavender heart tomorrow morning! Just comment or like here or on my facebook page.

Liberty print lavender heart
Liberty print lavender heart

the country mouse and the town mouse

As I was sewing, something about the way a small brown blur moved made me think is wasn’t one of the sparrows who usually hop around laughing at me from the other side of the patio doors. Instinctively I picked up my camera as I turned to look. I always keep my camera – with zoom lens in place – next to me when I sew, in case of need…like this little fledgling being fed, for example.

sparrow fledgling
sparrow fledgling

Anyway, the little brown blur turned out to be a very cute little brown mouse.

country mouse
country mouse

I had a sudden flash of inspiration and thought perhaps Ellen Mouse, a little white town mouse, should have a country cousin brown mouse. So without further ado, allow me to introduce Freja Mouse!

Freja mouse
Freja mouse

Ellen Mouse is a little Swedish mouse, as is her cousin, Freja. Newcomers to my blog may not be familiar with Ellen Mouse’s story, so let me tell you. If you are sitting comfortably I will begin.

Once upon a time, in the mid 1990s, an English lady bought her first house and her first computer. The internet introduced her to a wide world of interesting people, including a fellow science fiction fan called Marie-from-Sweden. Marie visited England several times and met up with the English lady while she was there. After a couple of years, Marie invited the English lady to visit her in Sweden. Marie lived in the South of Sweden, closest to Copenhagen airport, so the English lady spent a few days in Copenhagen and on the day she was due to go to Sweden, Marie came to meet the English lady in Copenhagen and brought with her her friend Irene. Now Marie had explained to the English lady that Swedish people are very private people and you should not invade their personal space and you should not hug them (as was the English lady’s way). The English lady may have quietly raised an eyebrow at this, knowing Swedes to be the sons and daughters of Vikings, and who are they to talk about invading personal space, but complied with the request. However, when the English lady met Irene she recognised a kindred spirit and could not help but hug her. All these years later Irene and the English lady are still friends and Irene introduced the English lady to her friends and family. So when the English lady went to visit Irene in Sweden last year, she took a little mouse she had made for the daughter of one of Irene’s friends. The daughter is called Ellen, so the English lady referred to the little mouse as Ellen Mouse. (Actually Ellen wanted to call her mouse Sue after the English lady…and Irene’s clever husband suggested the mouse should be called Sue-Ellen…very Dallas!). Ellen Mouse now has a special place in the heart of the English lady. And they all lived happily ever after.

Actually I do get some crazy ideas about Ellen Mouse and have to be reigned in by Mark. For instance I think Ellen Mouse should have pyjamas and a hot-water bottle, and a ballet tutu, and a pair of fairy wings (so she can sit on the Christmas tree). Perhaps Mark is right…

this n that

good news for gloves

Well I suppose whether the news is good or bad rather depends on your perspective…gloves that are happy being gloves and find fulfillment in their hand-warming role may experience alarm in hearing that I plan to cut off some of their fingers, sew up the holes and fill them with flame retardant toy stuffing. On the other hand (excuse the pun), those gloves looking for more from their existence than to squished up at the bottom of handbags and pockets and school bags, collecting bits of fluff and getting left over throat sweets stuck to them may rejoice in the knowledge that they will soon evolve in to…dogs!

Patch the dog
Patch the dog

Some time back, Sue in my old office showed me a book she had bought: Miyako Kanamori’s ‘Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softie Friends From Cast-Off Socks and Gloves

Sock and Glove
Sock and Glove

I fell instantly in love and started collecting socks and gloves. I have had some expressions of interest in these cuddly critters, so emailed the author to ask permission to sell a few…and she very kindly said yes!! I still have to carry out the CE Mark testing to self-certify (a company called Conformance sells a very reasonably priced downloadable guide and checklist to CE Marking, I would have been lost without. No doubt others are available too). So this coming week I will be torturing one poor glove-dog, hanging heavy weights from his seams, trying to poke out his stuffing, washing and drying him and worst of all, setting fire to him. One glove-dog must suffer so that others may safely go out in to the world.

hippy chick book bag

I have also been busy working out the simplest way to make a patchwork book bag to put together a tutorial. I love the fabric in this one, but want to try it with a plain border to make it a little bigger and remove the need be too precise matching up the side seams for anyone new to patchwork. I am wondering about making step-by-step photo instructions on postcards – what do you think? Would that be useful?

hippy patchwork book bag
hippy patchwork book bag
patchwork bag detail
patchwork bag detail

so cute! dolls house coat hangers!

Last week I posted photos of my Ellen Mouse mannequin and now my little eBay purchase has arrived, the dress and pants are ready to head off to my friend Jacquie.

Ellen Mouse dress and pants
Ellen Mouse dress and pants

There are a number of these hangers on eBay, but I bought mine from spacemop, and was very pleased with them.

walk and draw

Anyone who followed my old blog before I moved to wordpress will know that I am a big fan the Bath WI. Our June meeting was with Andrew Lansley of walk and draw in Bath. He is a lovely, unpretentious chap who chatted about how he came to start walk and draw, via art therapy, and then got us scattered around the vicinity (including several brave young women sitting in the middle of the roundabout!) drawing whatever took our fancy. The point of this is to slow down and look at things and just see what you can do. Andrew emphasised that it is not about the drawing. However, several people had said to me that they thought I would be very good at drawing and by the time I sat down to sketch a rather lovely Georgian terrace, I was so anxious not to disappoint, I lost all sense of perspective (in every sense of the word) and was part way through quite possibly the worst drawing I have ever done. Andrew came over to chat to me for a few minutes and I calmed down completely and realised just how stupid I was being. It wasn’t about producing a perfect drawing in less than an hour, it was about allowing myself to stop, breathe, enjoy a beautiful Summer evening and push all my to do lists out of my head while I just looked and put pencil to paper. I really want to try to build some of this sort of down time in to my life as an ongoing thing. Doing something, not for the the finished result (or the photo to put in my blog), but for the sense of calm the process itself produces. I would also like to attend one of Andrew’s events…he did mention he works with the Royal Crescent Hotel and it can be combined with their champagne afternoon tea – now how good does that sound??!!

mouse mannequin

This morning’s task was to make myself an Ellen Mouse mannequin. Every now and then I get a request for clothing for an Ellen Mouse, so I thought I should have an Ellen Mouse to keep, so I can fit clothes to her. Of course I could not let the little mouse parade around in the all together, so had to make her a vest and frilly pants…for decency’s sake.

This dress will be heading off to an Ellen Mouse in need of a Summer dress now the weather is too warm for a sweater and pinafore.

Summer dress for a little mouse
Summer dress for a little mouse