Wednesday, 9 December 2009

New styles in shop

A quick post to announce the availability of some new styles in my folksy and etsy shops. It's all about statement pockets and unusual details:

The Nancy Sling Handbag is a quirky and funky vintage sixties style that can be worn as a “grab-bag” with the wide strap held in the hand or as a playful shoulder-bag. Thanks to the imagination of a recent customer, I have also disovered that she is reversible - giving you even more versatility!

The Dorothy tote comes with a cute matching clutch purse (known as Dot). The curve and piping detail of the large outer pocket create striking visual interest for this classic shape and fabrics have been carefully selected to provide a retro feel.

To check out these bags and other styles, visit (prices in UK£) or (prices in US$).

I'm hoping to squeeze in one more post before Christmas and plan to return to regular posting as soon as possible in the new year - in the meantime, many thanks for your support over the past year and all the best for a fantastic Christmas!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

My baby, my teacher

I can't believe our gorgeous little girl will be 3 weeks old tomorrow - it already feels like she has always been part of our lives. Life is very much revolving around this new little person at the moment, but this post is the first stage of poking my head back into the wider world. Night feeds provide plenty of time for reflection and I've been thinking about how much of a learning curve this past few weeks has been, so I'm going to be very self-indulgent with a soppy post, before heading back to bags, vintage fabric and crafts.

I knew that as a new mum I'd quickly learn the intricacies of bathing, feeding and winding, but I didn't expect our wonderful baby to teach me so much other stuff. Here are some of the lessons she has given me:

  • the real meaning of living each moment as it comes
  • the unbounded and infinite nature of love
  • the calming properties of patience
  • to hear - and listen - to my instincts
  • to prioritise love and family above all else
  • a new understanding of my own parents
  • a new respect for the human body (even mine!) as a life source
  • to enjoy the "feminine aspect"
  • a new and precious depth to the relationship with my partner
  • the richness of the spectrum of emotions - fear, happiness, frustration, loss, pride
  • the wonder of the world in which we live in

Friday, 16 October 2009

Look what we made!

Freya Beris Cumine was born at 12.50am on Wednesday October 14th weighing 7lbs 13oz. We're all very much in love!

I'm sure it's stating the obvious, but there may be a bit of a gap in my blogging!!!

Monday, 12 October 2009

October's things to make

Following the vintage fabric theme of my last post, here are some great tutorials for fab projects to make with vintage textiles –some have been written with vintage fabric in mind, but others are ones that I thought would be made extra special with the vintage touch.
  1. Fabric-covered knobs/draw pulls for a dresser by Good Housekeeping
  2. Owl softie by One Red Robin
  3. Frayed flower tutorial by Maize in Montana
  4. 10-Minute Mouse Pad Makeover by The Long Thread
  5. Vintage pillow-case pyjama bottoms by Minivan Life
  6. Fabric flowers by Green is the New Blue
  7. Vintage sheet file folders by Making Chicken Salad
  8. Zippy wallet by Noodlehead
  9. Colored Pencil Roll-Up by

Friday, 9 October 2009

Vintage fabric - where to buy

I’ve just got my hands on this new batch of vintage fabrics and thought I’d share some of my tips and favourite sites for finding vintage textiles at low (ish) prices:

Charity shops: unfortunately, I’ve found that it’s increasingly hard to find good vintage stuff at charity shops, but it’s still worth a look out for the occasional bedspread/sheet or dress for the perfect “up-cycling” opportunity. Charity shops are still great for finding belts – which can be used for bag straps/handles – and scarves which can be great for bag linings.

Ebay: Most of the vintage fabric I purchase is found on ebay - including my latest haul from the picture above. My preferred option is to hunt down vintage curtains which are great for bags as curtain fabrics tend to have interesting textures (e.g. barkcloth) and be a bit more structural than dress fabric. I’ve learnt to play around with search terms – don’t just search for “vintage fabric” try other terms like “vintage material”, “vintage curtains”, “60s fabric” etc. If you have plenty of money to spend you can pick up some fantastic original Eames, Heal and Liberty prints, but these do come at a premium. It’s still worth using these as search terms though as sometimes you can find fabrics from similar eras that are “in the style of”…

Etsy: There are lots of etsy shops with vintage fabric supplies. Often they are selling remnants or smaller quantities, but the great thing about bags and purses is that you don’t need huge amounts! Some of the etsy vendors I like to check on regularly are:

Paperhill Fabrics

Indulge Your Shelf

Carmen and Ginger

Online vintage stores: There are loads out there, but the ones I particularly like to browse (all UK based) are:

This list is by no means exhaustive – for example, I keep meaning to attend vintage fairs (like this one: which I’m sure would have fantastic stalls– although I expect prices would be on the higher side.

I also keep meaning to visit local auction houses to see if they any bargains from house clearance that I could snap up! I guess I’m much too lazy though and the internet is sooo easy!

My favourite online repro-vintage shops include:

And lastly another site I love to browse for vintage fashion patterns is So Vintage Patterns

Of course, I use my vintage fabric stash for bags and purses (I'll be adding another batch to the shops soon) but, in my next post I'll be rounding up some recent tutorials for ideas of other fab ways to feature your yummy vintage finds.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The grand opening of... The Nursery!

Hurrah! The nursery is all ready!

Here is the before photo - it doesn't quite do justice to the truly terrifying lime green walls, navy carpet and egg yolk cutains, but believe me, it was quite a sight .....

And here are the after shots...

As we don't know what flavour The Bean will be, we had to stick to neutral colours - plus, it wasn't long ago that I'd initially decorated for spare room/sewing room purposes - hence the slightly grown-up wall paper choice, but I think it works okay for a little person too and am really pleased with how the woodland theme turned out. I was a bit worried there might be too many "eyes" in the room but I'm hoping the baby will feel looked after by his/her foresty friends rather than being watched!

Recognize the curtains? Yep, they're the ones from my 2nd ever post - okay, so they didn't make it to a bag, but they were the perfect mix of big, busy pattern and sunny colour to add a bit of fun and warmth to the window.

I'm not looking forward to the sleepless nights, but I
am looking forward to wrapping myself and the baby up in the crochet blanket of camden squares that (finished last week) and snuggling back into the vintage fabric cushion. The v-shaped cushion was a kind donation which I re-covered in a pretty brushed cotton of little brown and beige flowers.

The hedgehog mobile is one of my favourite things about this room! It's from Flensted Mobiles
and was a gift from the fabulous American Aunties (aka the Boston based ladies at work) and moves with such a lovely gentle glide. I re-lined the wicker baskets and am planning to use one for toys and one for nappies.

The hunt for woodland themed wall decals was a long one and involved a surprising number of scary looking creatures, guarenteed to give babies nightmares! Eventually I found two decals that I really liked - I used one as a main feature on the side wall opposite the window (see below) and the other as a cute accent next to the cupboard door. Both decals came from Holly on Etsy. Eventually I'll add some more pictures to the wall under the shelf to brighten things up a bit more.

The giclee prints were from a fabulous Etsian artist based in New Zealand called Sugarloop. These are the first prints I've bought from her, but have a feeling they won't be the last!

The heart-shaped cot decoration was another make from the Catherine Woram Gifts for Baby
book. And you've already met Archie the bear!

Lastly, but by no means least - here are the cot bumper and quilt cover that started the whole woodland theme. These are extra special because they were mine when I was a baby! Mum has kept them all these years and I'm so pleased that I get to use them now.

So now the room is ready, we just need the baby to go with it! I'm due tomorrow so the wait is nearly over!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

How to: attach a bag strap slider

Wow, I can't believe I've been on maternity leave for 1 week already! As you can probably tell from the length between posts, I've not quite got the hang of the lady of leisure thing and have been crazily busy! However, I've finally finished the last minute preparations and will hopefully have more time to put my feet up and relax a bit next week...

...oh who am I kidding? I'll be spending the week sewing like a demon, trying to get as many bags as possible made before The Bean arrives!

Anyway, one of the things on my to-do list this week was to finish off the nappy/changing bag I've been making for myself from the Butterick B4560 pattern (btw there's a really useful review on the SewChic blog). It's a pretty big messenger-style bag with loads of pockets of assorted shapes and sizes.

The pattern is great, but I wanted to make the strap length adjustable - a few of my new-mum friends have said that having a long strap is essential for hanging over pram handles, but then you need to be able to shorten it for carrying over your shoulder. So, I bought 2 1/2" bag rings and sliders from one of my favourite suppliers on Etsy - 3D Pattern Paper - and merrily whipped through the pattern instructions, adding the strap loops and rings to the sides of the bag instead of a fixed length handle.

All pretty straightforward - but then I got to the bit where I needed to attach the extra long strap I'd made to the slider and then to the strap loops and ended up in a MASSIVE pickle! It took me ages to work out which bit of strap to thread through which big of metalware and in which order! Once I finally had it worked out I realised how easy it is! Maybe I was suffering a bad attack of baby brain and it would be immediately obvious to people with normal levels of spacial awareness, but I thought I'd write a short tutorial to save anyone else an hour of frustration and naughty words!
So, here goes:

Step 1: isn't really a "step" but more of a starting point. I'm assuming that your bag body is all made-up and you have strap loops with bag rings attached to the side of your bag as per the picture below. You also have a long bag strap made-up and ready to attach.

Step 2: Take one end of your bag strap and thread it through the slider as shown. Note - in this instance the top side of the strap is patterned and the underside is plain.
Then, once you have pulled the strap through the slider, fold the end over and stitch it down with the back sides together. I stitched the end down in a box shape for extra strength.
Step 3: Now pull the end of your strap without the slider attached through one of the bag loops on your bag.
Step 4: Keep hold of the end of your strap and thread it through your slider again, like so....
Steps 5 and 6: Next, still keeping hold of the unattached end of your strap, thread it through the second bag loop...
... and finally fold the unattached end of the strap over (back sides together) and stitch in place close to the bag loop, as per the picture:
All done! Your strap should now be securely attached and perfectly asjustable! If it sounds really straightforward, well that's because it is!!!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

This month's Things to Make

I thought I'd stick with the baby theme for this months tutorial round-up. There are soooo many to choose from - but here are the ones I love the most!


  1. Baby booties from ithinksewdotcom
  2. Round Baby bib from Made by Petchy
  3. Bulky Baby Blankets from The Purl Bee
  4. Baby's cardigan knitting pattern from Prima
  5. Vintage Pixie Hat from Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren posted by The Storque
  6. Bib pattern from Chick Pea Studio
  7. Baby Hair band from A Penny Saved
  8. Bumpy Jacket and Hat from F.Pea
  9. Pinwheel mobile tutorial from Chick Pea Studio

Also, check out:

Monday, 14 September 2009

Baby knits and booties

The nesting instinct has well and truly kicked in and I spent the weekend adding to the pile of baby stuff that has accumulated on our dining room table. We've been amazingly lucky and so many people have given us their "pre-loved" baby equipment that we've not needed to get much new stuff. Hopefully the nursery should all be sorted out by the end of this week - I can't wait to post the before and after photos!

In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the knitted goodies that await our little Bean!

I'm so proud of this blanket and teddy bear - knitted by yours truly.

The blanket was my first attempt at intarsia knitting - it's not perfect by any means but it's the first baby thing I knitted so I love it anyway!

I've named the cute little teddy "Archie". I loved knitting him as each of his body parts only took a few hours so I made him over the course of 1 week.

The blanket is a Debbie Bliss pattern from Essential Baby and the teddy from her Simply Baby book.

I made these gorgeous mary-jane booties/shoes from a pattern in Gifts for Baby by Catherine Woram. I was really pleased with how they turned out and will definitely be making more once we know what flavour The Bean is!

Lastly, I wanted to show you the amazing layette that Paul's Mum, Pat, has knitted. I couldn't believe how many gorgeous things she's produced! We have a whole set of matinee jackets, cardigans and booties in white and then another set of cute cable cardigans and sweaters and hat in arran-style wool. So The Bean is going to be as snug as... well, a baked bean in a can with a lot of other baked beans!!!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Great news!

I've just found out that my rose ribbon tutorial and Etsy and Folksy shops have been given a mention on the Sewing Crafts sub-blog of Craft Gossip! I've been following this blog for a while and it has great tutorials and tips, so I feel really honoured to be among such great company!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

More floral embellishment!

Continuing the theme of floral embellishment - I've just seen this tutorial post from Heather Bailey for a fabulous "Pop Garden Scrap Flower". Gorgeous!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

How to: make a ribbon rose corsage

I've just listed a new batch of Esther flap clutches in my Etsy and Folksy shops. I thought I'd feature the rose corsage from the Esther 'Laughing Leaf' series as my first ever tutorial.

Step 1: Take a length of 1 ½ “ (38mm) wide ribbon – I prefer grosgrain as it has more structure, but you could use any type of ribbon.

Roll one end over three or four times to form the tight bud like centre of the rose. Hand stitch through all the layers at the base to secure.

Step 2: Now comes the fiddly bit! Spiral the ribbon around the “bud” and fold it back on itself to create a loop or “petal”. Hold the loop in place at the base of the rose while you make a stitch or two through all the layers to secure.

Steps 3-5: To create the next petal, repeat this process, positioning the next loop a little further along the bud centre. Continue to create your rose by repeating this twist-spiral-fold process, securing every fold in place by stitching through all layers each time. You may find that you need to play about with the positioning of the folds and check how your rose looks from a number of different angles before securing each new petal – I’ve produced a number of lop-sided roses by not following my own advice!

Steps 6-8:
When your rose has reached the desired size and shape, snip off the long end of ribbon. Fold the raw edge under and stitch in place at the back of the rose. This is also a good time to make another check of your roses’ shape and make any little stitches you need here and there to adjust the petals if necessary.

You should now have a beautiful flower to gaze upon. I like to congratulate myself a little at this stage!

Step 9:
Now for the leaves. Cut out one or two leaf shapes from coordinating or contrasting felt. I’ve chosen to use some quite abstract shapes to echo the pattern on the fabric of the bag for which this rose is intended. But, you could use a more realistic rose leaf shape and perhaps make tiny snips into the edges to create a more life-like correlated leaf.

Step 10: If you wish to add some texture to your leaf, hand or machine embroider some veins in coordinating or contrasting thread, or add a more abstract pattern as I have done here.

Steps 11-12: Once you are satisfied with your leaf or leaves, add a little bit of extra shape by pinching the leaf at the base and adding a stitch or two to secure a tiny pleat/dart.

Step 13-14: If you have created more than one leaf, stitch them together in whatever arrangement you desire before then attaching to the base of the rose.

Now sit back for another moment of self-congratulation!

If you wish to attach your rose to your bag/coat/dress in a permanent position, you could do so now by sewing it in place. However, I prefer to add a brooch back so that it’s possible to play around with the position of the flower on the bag or remove it from the bag and wear it as a matching corsage.

Step 15: For this final stage, attach a brooch back to the underside of your rose by stitching it in position – it’s worth checking the best position for the brooch back by placing your rose on a flat surface and seeing if your flower has a tendency to lean a certain way. You want to position the brooch back so that it is least visible – not just from the top view but also from the sides.

Step 16: Finally, I like to make it all look as neat as possible by positioning a small circle of felt over the base of the brooch back. This adds another layer of security as well as hiding the stitching.
Et voila! Your rose corsage is now complete!

See Esther - 'Laughing Leaf Yellow' on Etsy here or Folksy here.
See Esther - 'Laughing Leaf Green' on Etsy
here or Folksy here.

Other embellishment ideas:

Felt daisy from |
Ric Rac dahlias
from knick knacks & ric rac |
The flowers on this tea cosy by Cassi from Bella Dia would look great on a bag!


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