Monday, 31 August 2009

Brown Felt Button Bag

I have just finished my latest felt handbag, so thought I would share it with you. I wet felted it a couple of weeks ago but had to hold off finishing it until I had found the right items. When I make any item I usually have a picture in my head of how I would like it to look and then have to try and find the right materials.

With this bag, I knew I wanted it to be in shades of brown with buttons appliqued along the top edge and also saw in my mind leather handles instead of felt ones. Belts are really useful for handles, so it was a case of trying to source a belt that was the right colour and also width. It needed to be quite a thin belt as a wider one wouldn't be comfortable to hold in your hand.

Having trawled a number of local charity shops, I finally found a synthetic leather belt which was a chocolate brown. The belt was made up of three interwoven thin lengths which were the perfect width. All I need to do was cut the belt with a pair of scissors to create each handle. I made small cuts in the body of the bag to thread the handles through which were knotted on the end.

The vintage buttons came from my button tin which is full of all sorts of buttons. I tend to look out for job lots of buttons in charity shops and car boot sales. A large number of them I bought at an antiques sale in Leipzig, Germany, when I was on holiday there a few years ago. Despite having a large tin of buttons, I often find I still don't have the right colour, size or shape!

The bag lining was a small fabric sample which a friend gave to me a few months ago. It is a chiffon type fabric embroidered with flowers and leaves. As the felt bag is seemless, it does not necessarily need to be lined. However, adding a lining does add strength to the overall bag and I think it finishes the bag off. A brown ribbon was sewn to the top edge of the fabric to hide the raw edge and then the lining was machine sewn into the bag to keep it secure.

The finished bag is approximately 22cm wide and 19cm long. A magnetic clasp holds the top of the bag closed. I am pleased with the overall result, as it has turned out pretty much the same as the idea I had in my head. I have already got the next two bags made in my mind, so just need to try and get them made now!

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Friday, 28 August 2009


The first I ever heard of bag charms was a few years ago when my sister gave me one as a gift. My favourite handbag at the time was an appliqued fabric bag which worked really well with the charm she gave me.

Bag charms are such a simple idea, it seems surprising that nobody ever thought of making them before. Now bag charms have become really popular. If you have a plain bag, a charm can be a really great way of giving it an individual look. Different coloured charms can be used to tie a handbag into an outfit's colour scheme too, without the need for buying a new bag. Skip that last sentence, buying a new handbag is always a really good idea!

I quite enjoy making bag charms and spend ages deciding which beads to use and where to place them. Charms take me so long to make they certainly aren't cost effective but I don't worry about that. They are quite therapeutic to make and make a change from sewing.

You can use any type of beads, glass, wooden, metal, plastic. I tend to break up pieces of jewellery I no longer wear or buy cheap pieces in charity shops. Earrings can be really useful for making charms. Using unwanted and vintage jewellery can also offer unusual materials which can make charms even more individual.

Some of my handbag charms, past and present are below .....

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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Alton Art Society Exhibition

I've been a member of the Alton Art Society for just over 5 years and like to participate every year in their Autumn Exhibition. This year will be the 78th exhibition for the Society.

For the past 5 years, I have exhibited my ceramic pieces quite successfully and have achieved a number of sales. Each year I try to enter six pieces, which is the maximum allowed for 3D, and usually sell 2 or 3 items. Last year, 3 of my ceramic pieces made front page of the local newspaper which was really pleasing.

This year, I am only going to enter a couple of ceramic pieces which I have ready. I was going to enter some ceramic leaves I made but I sold them earlier in the year at another local exhibition. As I am taking a break from ceramics to concentrate on textiles, I thought I would enter some textile pieces instead. I have decided to enter a felt bowl, felted vessel and I have also just finished a felt leaf. As the ceramic leaves proved popular, I thought a felt leaf might do well too.

Hopefully I shall have some success again this year and sell a couple of pieces. The exhibition is 1st - 4th October, at the Assembly Rooms in Alton, Hampshire. Everyone is welcome and entry is free.

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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Scented Linens

If you have read my blog entries "From Table to Drawer" or "Rose Petal Scent Bags", you will know that I like to use vintage linens to make lavender and rose scent sachets. I have made a number of different designs using embroidered tablecloths and placemats.

Whilst tablecloths and placements are extremely abundant, finding the ones that are right for use is harder than it sounds. Firstly, I look for a natural fibre, as I don't really see the point putting a natural product such as lavender into a synthetic fabric. I therefore only use cotton or linen to make each sachet.

The other vital part for me is the decoration. I prefer not to use a patterned fabric which is why I use embroidered tablecloths and placemats. The decoration tends to be localised rather than all over the fabric. Finding just the right embroidery is also really tricky. Some tablecloths feature ladies in crinoline skirts which are far to big to be practical and some floral designs are meandering or flower garlands which again are just too big to be used.

The ideal embroidery is small areas of flowers which have quite a large blank area of fabric surrounding them. I like the embroidery to end up central on each scent sachet. If it is slightly to one edge though I will make allowances. However, if the embroidery is too close to an edge, then you don't have enough fabric left to sew the scallop edge around the scent sachet.

Two other factors to take into account are firstly you need to be left with enough plain fabric to create the back of the scent sachet. Secondly, you need to ensure that there is a fair amount of useable embroidery on the tablecloth or placemat to make it economical. If you spend a lot of money on a tablecloth with two pieces of useable embroidery, you will only end up with two scent sachets to sell. Taking into account the cost of the lavender, cotton, electric and not to mention your time, it would not be worth making them.

Finally, having found a cotton or linen tablecloth or set of placemats, with small areas of floral embroidery in good condition, the final point to check for is stains. Most vintage linens will have been used in their time and may have small stains on them. If they have come from a large house, they may even have a number dyed onto an edge for identification purposes when sent off to laundry. The best way to check for stains is to hold the linens up to the light. Stains that don't necessarily notice when you first look, soon show when held up to the light.

There is a certain satisfaction in finding just the right linens for use, at a reasonable price. Definitely the best part for me though is filling them all with fragrant lavender or rose petals. The wonderful scent wafting up makes them a pleasure to sew.

Why not check out my website, Etsy, Folksy and Dawanda stores and see my latest creations. Just follow the links at the top left of the blog.

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Saturday, 1 August 2009

And The Winner Is ......

Drum roll please!

The winner of the Edward Bear Giveaway has been drawn.

I was going to get my nieces and nephew to do the honours but realised it wasn't really fair to ask a 2, 5 and 9 year old to draw the winner of a Teddy Bear competition, as they would probably want him. Can you imagine the ensuing pandemonium?!

Anyway, my unbiased husband draw the winning name from the hat, overseen by independent judge Daisy the cat and Edward Bear himself. They can all verify all entrants names were in the hat and it was drawn with eyes shut (husband's, not cat or bears, obviously!).

So, the winner and hopefully proud new owner is .........

Kerensa Jones!

Hopefully Edward will arrive safely at his new home and will be loved for a long time to come.

Thanks to all of you for entering the competition. It was fun and definitely something I will do again at some point in the future.

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