Saturday, 31 March 2007

Some Works in Progress

I would love to be able to post some pics of the mobile I am working on this weekend, because it is looking awesome, but it is going to be a surprise for my friend & I can't remember whether or not he has my blog address! Instead, here are a couple of the other projects I am in the middle of at the moment...

I am making lots of leafy brooches to restock my supplies because all the others have sold - if nothing else I wanted one of each to wear myself! I love leaves so darn much, and sewing these is a very restful soothing process.
This afternoon I did no sewing whatsoever but instead made a huge mess in the kitchen doing potato printing. I had some very nasty-looking potatoes that were a highly suspicious shade of green that totally has not come out in this photo (just trust me when I say they were uber-dodgy in appearance)
... not wanting to just chuck them in the bin (and lacking a compost pile in the garden as I live in a top floor flat) I wondered what I could possibly do with them & then remembered I had some fabric paint (bought about 10 years ago but still good) so a massive printing session took place.

I ran out of fabric pretty quick, and now have to go out on Monday and buy a "new" (ie from a charity shop) white pillowcase to replace the one I have destroyed! I'm not sure how great I am going to think the results of all this when I look at them in the cold light of tomorrow, but still reeling with the creative excitement of it all I am currently rather pleased. I'm going to use a lot of it as fabric for purses, bags or cushions I reckon, with some embroidered details picked out among the plain patterns.

Here you can see how the blue paint got used...
An arrow print for a bag or something, some letter Es and As to make into purses (for Emilys and Annas and so forth), and some words that I'm hoping to make use of in my tea party range, perhaps combined with some great blue&white striped pillowcases I bought the other day & this great teatowel that I have blogged about before:
There was also some black paint that became a pattern of repeating black hearts and some more letters, eg Ks for Katherines, Katies and perhaps even Kevins:
... and then red and yellow paint became a red heart pattern and bold star prints (these are really not the best photos but you get the idea)
The process of doing all this was so enjoyable, I would not be too surprised if I suddenly started doing this sort of thing more often. I have some of the fabric paint left and also some poster paint & am already thinking about what I might use to make stencils, and about looking out for second-hand cotton fabrics to print onto... As if I didn't have enough to do already! Argh! :)

The UK Sale is nearly upon us

I am a bit worried that I'm going to spend all my money in my fellow UK Etsyers shops this week. 50 of us have banded together to have a big huge Spring Sale, all with different special offers like discounts, shipping, and free gifts. Kezzaroo is even having a prize draw! Awesome stuff. The full list of shops taking part, and details of all their offers can be found on The UK Etsy Sellers Blog and the sale runs from 1st-8th April.

Friday, 30 March 2007

My whole house is covered in felt!

The little offcuts fall on the floor, stick to your socks and then turn up everywhere! The same goes for small bits of sewing thread... and then of course there's all my tins of finished goodies, my work-in-progress boxes, and my ever-expanding stash.

No matter how much stuff I make, I am always thinking of new things I want to get started on & am forever finding secondhand stuff that inspires me and gets added to my collection to do "something" with "sometime". I have:
- a box of beads and ribbons and things like that,
- a whole load of wool that's gradually being knitted into blankets (in a suitcase under the bed!)
- a fabric box that's bursting at the seams with vintage finds & other useful scraps,
- a big pile of vintage maps and books that I have projects in mind for,
- a bag of fabric squares that are in-progress quilt cushions
- a stack of old sweaters waiting to be turned into felt
- a box under the bed that is full of old embroidered linens and tablecloths that I'm planning on revamping into bags and cushions and pincushions and all sorts of pretty things
- and, of course, large quantities of felt!

Ah, how my boyfriend suffers.

In other news: I am rather pleased this week to be up to 49 Etsy sales, and 105 "hearts"... It's nice to be making some progress with it, and to have done rather well this week just when I'd been feeling a bit downcast. I have finished my items for the Ninja challenge & am already getting excited at the thought of what we might do next fortnight... Can't wait until Sunday when all the Ninjas will be revealed! I have been sewing lots of leafy brooches - autumn and spring leaf trios cos they are so pretty - and working on the mobile I am making for a friend. I am also thinking long and hard and developing my designs for tea-party-themed items and am determined to get some French Fancy pincushions finished this weekend instead of just sitting around eating lots of them instead :)

Monday, 26 March 2007

Busy busy busy

I continue to do lots of sewing. Unfortunately I have also had lots of housework etc to be doing, and there are really never enough hours in the day (or enough felt in my stash) to do everything I'd like to... but I have been making some progress, at least.

My whole sewing box is full of "in progress" items, lots of lovely coloured bits all cut out and ready to get sewn together... Of course I continue to start new things all the time, too. Today I have finished some more spring flowers, made a start on my Ninja-inspired items for this fortnight's UK Etsy Sellers challenge (I don't think it would be giving much away to complain that there is black felt fluff all over the place now, darn it!)... and I've also made some more little pants badges because they were just so much fun:
Oh, and I was featured on the Etsy Greetings blog the other day - they are featuring a random card-seller every day and my Autumn Leaf cards got showcased on the 24th.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

A New Blog!

This week I have set up a blog for the UK Etsy Sellers crew/gang/team/club/posse - call us what you will, we have an exciting blogspot blog now which I shall be keeping updated with featured sellers, press & other news. I shall also be writing up all our charitable efforts for Comic Relief in a bit more detail than I managed here, the Great Pants Challenge, and our new (and really rather exciting) fortnightly design challenges. This fortnight: Ninjas! Check out the flickr group for our challenge entry photos, Ninja pics to be posted on April 1st.

In other news, I have been making lots of leaf, pin & flower -decorated pincushions and needlebooks, more Felt Fancies (pink ones to add to the yellow), lots of little spring flowers (some with little yellow button centres too, very cute), and until I can get my hands on some biscuit-coloured felt to turn the Party Rings into brooches I'm working on plans applique them to things (needlebooks, for example) and turning them into a selection of cards (they would make great party invitations or birthday cards, I reckon). I am also hunting out marzipan-coloured felt so I can make mini slices of Battenburg cake cos it looks just so delicious! ... oh, and I'm working on some patterns so that I can make specific flowers and turn them into brooches / put them on pincushions, etc. Pansies, roses, tulips, etc etc. Lots of sewing!

I'm also trying to generally build up some stock because I have a lot of things selling out and I'd like to be able to sell more of them, or have them in different colours to offer people (the birds in particular need some stock built up for this reason)... or wear them myself cos I actually rather like a lot of the things I am making, you know :) I have been wearing a little trio of the small flower pins on my sweater for the past couple of days and am delighted with how sweet & pretty they look. They have really been cheering me up a lot...

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Felt Teatime Treats

I am working on a tea-party themed range of items. As I am tea-obsessed, crockery-obsessed AND baking-obsessed this seemed a perfect match! The bright spring colours I've been using to make little flower brooches have rather inspired me to make a start on some felt food...

Firstly, Party Rings!
I need to buy some biscuit-coloured felt so I can finish these, but when they are done they will be little brooches (probably).

And then secondly... a Mr Kipling French Fancy!This is only my second pincushion, and my first attempt at making something look like a cake - I am rather pleased with it. It's a little larger than a real French Fancy but not by much (I may have to buy a box of them for "research purposes"...). I am going to make a pink & white one, too. Probably not the brown as it would look a little plain on its own. Gosh I want to eat a whole box of French Fancies now! If I make a lot of these pincushions and continue to have these urges, I am going to get terribly, terribly fat. It will be worth it, though.

Photography is Difficult when it Rains

Far too dark on my nice windowsill. And then when it's very sunny there are too many shadows or the pics turn out weirdly blue for some reason (this photography lark is very perplexing). I had to re-take about 90 photos today cos they were a bit rubbish even for me. Bah. Finally photographed the giant batch of recycled map notecards and envelopes I've been making recently, so they can be tied into bundles / priced up for sale & I can start listing some of them on the Etsy this week. Some of them are nicer than others (I fer sure have my favourites). It is just great to have them nearly finished instead of just sitting round the house in big piles spilling everywhere and adding to the mess. So, yes, cards:

More Spring Flowers

New additions...
I am loving this bright spring colour palette, and have to go into town on Monday to restock my felt supplies as I've been using it all up rather rapidly. I also have to go hunt for some very specific colours, so a trip to the big Hobbycraft may be in order as I don't know that the market stalls will have what I need...

Excellently, my paypal total is now such that I can actually transfer it into my bank account without being charged for it, so I may actually have the cash to "reinvest" in some more supplies. Just cannot stop sewing lately! Naturally, the housework continues to be neglected and the washing up and ironing just piles up everywhere. Oh well.

And the results are in...

First place in the great pants challenge went to Bunny for a most excellent and cute picture of The Annual Pants Day Festivities in Knickerville , second place went to SeaUrchin for ceramic pants brooches and third place went to Kezzaroo for her MrT. Pants. I have (rather delightfully) sold all 3 of my little pants badges (the 4th will be winging its way to Bunny as a prize), raising some money for Comic Relief hurrah. More delicious pants for sale can be found by going to Etsy and typing "pants" or "comic relief" into the search bar.

Friday, 16 March 2007

UK Etsy Pants Challenge

Over on Etsy, some of us UK-based sellers have been making pants-themed items and paying 50p to Comic Relief to enter them into a competition for the best pants (ie knickers). It is just as mental as it sounds, but great fun - there have been tin pants, card pants, knitted pants, felt pants, paper pants, beaded pants, even clay pants! To check out everyone's great designs, try this flickr group or this forum thread

For my entry, I made a Lucky Pants ACEO (mini textile artwork measuring 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches). I am quite please with it, myself. It's just how I planned it in my head.I also got a bit carried away by the idea of us all being in a crazy club and doing challenges, and in an Enid Blyton / Brownies & Guides kinda way wanted to have badges so I made some of those, too:

The UK sellers have already raised a load of cash for Comic Relief by selling red themed items during the past couple of weeks - the RND treasury even getting on the front page and staying there for over 24 hours (they usually change much more frequently than that) - hopefully this weekend lots of us will be listing our challenge items and raising a bit more for CR. I get driven a bit mad by Red Nose Day on the telly, to be honest, but it supports such good causes...

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!

Lots of my newly planted seeds are starting to turn into little green seedlings, the bulbs in pots on my balcony are flowering like mad, I am basically totally excited about spring. Inspired by all this, I have been making lots and lots of little felt flowers - brooches and bookmarks - in pretty spring colours. I just cannot stop making these - I am already planning more colours I want to make... the little ones especially are just so cute! I want one for every outfit :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Featured Etsy Seller: Nonsuch

I am planning an Etsy birthday, to help curb my Etsy spending until I splurge all my cash there on the gorgeous things I find myself window-shopping for day after day (damn there are some nice things on the Etsy)...

I mentioned this in an Etsy chat room one evening, and said how Nonsuch's impossibly gorgeous Dahlia corsage was right on the top of my birthday wishlist... And the lovely lady sent it to me for free!

It is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Lovely soft chunky merino wool felt in the most delicious burnt orange colour. It's pretty huge, too, and makes the biggest most cheerful, most striking impact on any outfit. I have been using it to utterly transform my outfits from dull to smart and full of spring-like zing.

This corsage has literally been putting a spring in my step. It makes me smile whenever I look at it, and practically everyone I see oohs and aahs and generally gushes over it. I think I may have to carry N's card around in my pocket whenever I wear this, to ensure I can be a good unofficial sales rep for her!

The rest of her shop is also fairly delicious - lots of natural forms expressed in wool and felt. Personal faves of mine have included this awesome crochet scarf ... how cool is that?


I also love the knitted bangles she makes, especially the leafy ones:

Work in Progress and Assorted Boxes...

The past couple of days I have really wanted to sit down and do some sewing, but I am determined to press on and finish all the notecards and handmade envelopes I am working on at the moment. I am such a terrible one for starting things and then abandoning them half-finished in heaps around the house, or doing a small bit of something and then rushing off to try something new - this time I swear I will make all of these things and finish them properly and then tidy up properly afterwards! The mess is at least (currently) confined to these two heaps in our living room... Firstly, a huge heap of recycled map envelopes:Secondly, the notecards to match, finished (and cello wrapped) music notecards, and a big pile of sheet music waiting to become recycled envelopes... I have 74 of these still to make!
Along with the drive to finish things, comes the drive to be tidy. Here is my tin of birds etc (the boyfriend says this is what it looks like inside my head... so rude!):
And here is an exciting (but very badly photographed) sewing box I got second hand (and cheap cheap cheap) yesterday:

Monday, 12 March 2007

Jam and Jerusalem

I continue to take my stuff to the WI market once a week. Sold 3 cards the 1st week and nothing since. It's a bit difficult to branch out into different stock there as the prices are just so low. Items which take me 1 or 2 hours to make and are thus (reasonably) priced at 5 or 6 English pounds would be priced by the WI at about 75p (I kid ye not). Madness! and, frankly, maddening!

Shopping there is awesome - brilliant jam and cakes, fresh bunches of flowers for 50p and knitted baby clothes or for £3 or beautiful aprons for £4 - but selling with them: ouch! I think it is okay if you make jam (little old ladies will pay a fair market price for good jam), but otherwise: poverty seriously beckons. I am trying to think up really simple things to make - once I get my sewing machine up and running I guess this will be easier - but in the meantime: hmm.

There is also the not-so-small problem that there was a woman selling cards there before I got there and she is clearly Very Unamused. I brought in about half a dozen cards the first week and that was okay but when I showed up with a box to match hers - man, was she pissed. Her husband has now made her a giant wooden display board for her cards and I sense that if one of my cards was put anywhere near it... well, we may be looking at some kind of war breaking out! All this in a supposedly "all for one and one for all" -type collective selling environment. Ah well.

If all else fails, I may start selling plants - my whole flat is packed to overflowing with cuttings, seed trays and other things in pots after a couple of days of repotting, planting, pruning and generally attending to my (already quite extensive) houseplant collection. If all these things grow I will HAVE to start selling them as I will literally run out of windowsills to put them on...

Another general update

So... things, things, things. Etsy sales continue to be okay - thanks to the mother of a friend buying 7 items, I am up to 24 items sold & sent, and then if my current "sold" items actually get purchased (hmm) I will be up to 29 - woohoo. Personal private sales have been fairly marvellous this week, with two batches of cards selling to friends, my first flower brooch selling as a mother's day gift, and generally quite a lot of interest...

The UK Etsy sellers continue to go great guns, selling lots of stuff and going all out for Comic Relief. Lots of sellers made great themed items to sell for CR - my fave probably being these great circus-themed cards from Askey:A Treasury featuring the CR items then ended up on the Etsy.com front page, for a whole day - generating lots and lots of sales & thus lots of charity funds.
I failed to get around to making a red-themed item, but am taking part in the Comic Relief Pants Challenge where we are all (for no more complicated reason than we are all a bit mental) making Pants and paying 50p to enter our items and have them judged... Worryingly, I think I may have been inspired to make a whole range of pants-themed items!

I am making a big pile of my recycled music notecards as I have very nearly sold out of them. They are just waiting to have their backs decorated, and then they will all get packed neatly into cellophane wrappers along with a matching envelope & white address label.
I very much need to do some ironing soon, so I can iron all the pieces of maps I have cut out into envelope-making shapes... They're all a little bit creased at the moment, but a little bit of pressing between an old tea towel and they will be flat and crisp and ready for folding and glueing into envelopes (and, naturally, matching notecards and tags). My actual ironing pile is likely to stay sorely neglected for a while yet!

Into the Land of ACEOs...

Ah, how fun it is to try new things.
Browsing on Etsy it has been entirely fascinating to see hundreds and hundreds of mini artworks called ACEOs - all measuring 2.5x3.5 inches and every one different. I am working on some for another project (shhh it is currently very hush hush secret) so when I found myself thinking "what shall I do with these leftover pieces of felt?" making an ACEO out of them popped into my head as an ideal solution. I really can never throw anything away, even the tiniest things, so am delighted to have found a use for these otherwise-useless scraps of felt.I am hoping to do some more of these textile artworks (one in pink&orange tones is already in progress) and to make more pretty things out of all the odds & ends I have hoarded away over the years... I may even venture into paper ones, too.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Ghosts of Summer - new greetings cards

I have been making use of some sun-prints I made last summer... Laying various plants onto light-reactive paper, then developing the prints in water, I ended up with some very lovely and etherial images in blue & white. I have mounted these onto large white card blanks and have started to call them my "Ghosts of Summer" cards because they seem very much like that, a white shadow, and slightly faded like a memory.

A Mini Zine full of Brooches

I finally finished sewing together all the copies of the mini zine I drew last week... This zine has 7 illustrations with notes and is part of a series I am planning on my collections. I have not done much drawing for a long time, so I may be a little rusty but I am overall pretty happy with the look & feel of this zine and its contents. These are the first 2 brooches in the zine:

My First Needlebook

I made most of this ages ago, along with my first batch of leaf brooches (when I was stuck at my parents' house with nothing but a big pile of green felt for entertainment...) but have only just finished it by attaching the ribbon ties. I am very pleased with this, but next time I will sew the "pages" in differently / design the pages differently as I think they could look a lot neater.

Finished Flower Brooches

The finished product! So satisfying finishing these and putting them in colourful, flowery heap. I finished the autumn leaf brooches too, hurrah hurrah, but the pictures I took of them didn't come out so great so I need to redo them.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Work in progress...

A whole box of the stuff! All this (and so much more) was just heaped on tables / shelves etc all round my flat so I thought I'd better get hold of some boxes to tidy it all away... This is for the small sewing projects I'm trying to finish - ornaments, brooches, etc.

This is a detail from what will become a small coin purse, white felt with floral ribbon striped across it:These are half-finished button brooches (I especially like the blue ones):
These leaves are waiting to be used to decorate needlebooks and pincushions (spring and autumn themed):
And these are the autumn version of my spring leaf brooches, waiting (like the button flowers) to have a fastener sewn on the back and then for the back to be sewn to the front...

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