Sunday, 25 September 2011

Elsie May and Bertha christmas lovelies 2011

You may feel that Christmas is still a good way off, but for those of us who make things for Christmas, magazine editors planning Christmas issues, or shops their Christmas displays, we're all full immersed in all things Christmasy.

Felt and gingham collection Christmas decorations (all £3.50 each)
I started sketching some christmas ideas in early summer, plus I reuse some I've made before (this mainly applies to the felt and gingham ones) , but a lot of my designs/ideas for Christmas decorations actually come from the fabrics, usually vintage, themselves.
Silk and fabric decorations (£3.00 - £7.50 each)
I've created a set of shapes - hearts, stars, fish, fat birds and longtailed birds - these aren't overtly christmas shapes, so that they could be displayed throughout the year if you so desire, but there's no rules to say what can and what can't be a Christmas decoration.

'Gold Spike Decorated Fish' made from vintage Japanese silk (£7.50)

  Most of the fabrics I've used for the silk and fabric collection for this year are vintage, and many are Japanese silks taken from vintage kimonos. These silks are ideal for decorations, they're beautiful in themselves and are lovely to work with.

Fan beaded silk heart trio, made using vintage Japanese silk (£11.50)
As these decorations are made from vintage fabrics, there only a few of each decoration that I can make and quite often each one is slightly different. For instance, the set of three hearts in the picture above, there's only one of those, as there was only one painted fan on the piece of the fabric I acquired, so if you have them hanging on your Christmas tree, no-one else will.

Fat, red crested, yellow bird, made from vintage Japanese silk (£4.50)
Elsie May and Bertha felt and gingham decorations on the other hand, can be made in higher numbers as there's no restriction on the raw materials.

Snowball star felt decoration (£3.50)
Felt is great to work with as it doesn't fray, and the frayed edges of linen and gingham fit in the with homespun aesthetic so this enable you to layer fabrics together without having to worry about turning your edges in.

White linen christmas hearts (£3.50)
This also means that there's no limit to what you can do whether they be stars, hearts, baubles, holly leaves or christmas trees.

White noel holly felt heart (£3.50)
Christmas stockings are a favourite of mine. They make a lovely present, filled with lots of lovely little gifts, that can then be displayed at future Christmases.

Red gingham rosette christmas stockings (£6.50)
Christmas decorations also make lovely christmas presents. In our family, we quite often give them as table gifts, that way we receive little presents throughout the Christmas season when we eat at each other's houses. It's lovely, when you're decorating your Christmas tree (or trees) to be able to hang these decorations given to you in previous years.

Dark red patterned longtailed birds, made from vintage Japanese silk (£3.50)
All of the decorations and stockings listed in this post are available from the Christmas section of the Elsie May and Bertha website. Pop over and have a look and see what others there are available.

Sorry (sort of!) for this being a bit of an advertising post.


Monday, 19 September 2011

All the fun of the fair (well all most).

Elsie May and Bertha had a stall at the Cathedral Fair at the Anglican Cathedral (Liverpool) last Saturday (17th September). At the fair, as well as other stalls, there was abseiling down the the front of the Cathedral (definitely not my idea of fun), Hornby trains and Meccano and demonstrations of sculpting, wood working and spinning so there was lots to see and do.

The Elsie May and Bertha stall
The Cathedral was a lovely place to have the stall, we had a lovely view down the chancel towards the altar.

The view towards the altar.
One advantage of being in the cathedral was that there were a lot of visitors, including a lot of Japanese. However, there's still the problem of persuading people to buy.

Rose sachets and hearts on the left, washcloths and cleansing cloths on the right.
A lot of people said that I had some lovely stuff and a couple of people did buy, but I only made £14, which didn't cover the table price (£25).

Lavender goodies, brooch cushions and christmas stockings.
I think that one of my problems was that there was too much on my table, too much choice.

Christmas decorations and lavender pillows.
At my next fair, (Psychic and Vintage Fair at the Liner Hotel, Liverpool 2nd October), I'll concentrate on my christmas decorations and lavender and rose scented items. But I will have a folder with pictures of the other things that I make and lots of cards with the web address on ( if you don't already know it). As with any business, it take time and perseverance to get going, so I'm plodding on. At least I'm doing something that I love, a lot of people don't have the opportunity to do that.

Blue velvet with pink braid (£8.50).
A 3-part set of silk beaded hearts, made from vintage Japanese silk (£11.50).
Snowball star felt decorations (£3.50 each).
Clove scented linen hearts (£3.50 each).
White linen christmas hearts (£3.50 each).
All of the Elsie May and Bertha christmas decorations will be available from our website in the next few days.

Other talented crafters, artists and makers who were at the fair

Debra Clare Rooney an artist and designer specialising in ceramic, wood and drawings - her turned wood bowls are beautiful.

May Chong, an illustrator and artist, lovely black and white illustrations.

Beads and Bobs, lots of jewellery loveliness.

Elizabeth J. Wall a textile artist. Elizabeth was displaying some large textile pieces and the cathedral that were so gorgeous I had to take some pictures (see below), I'm sure you'll agree that her work is wonderful.

by Elizabeth J. Wall

Part of an ecclesiastical cloak by Elizabeth J. Wall

by Elizabeth J. Wall

by Elizabeth J. Wall


Sunday, 11 September 2011

My new 'old' sewing machine

First, I must apologise for it being such a long time since I last posted, making commitments and a nasty big have kept me away from the laptop.

Back to today's post.

I'd been looking for a hand-worked sewing machine for a while as this would enable to machine sew some of the smaller more fiddly things that I make.

The Jones sewing machine.
A few months ago, whilst on a bus, I spotted a sewing machine in Oxfam's window. Ray went had a look at it the next day and discovered that it was £25, which I thought was reasonable, so we went back to give it a look over and buy it if it was okay, which it was.

My Jones sewing machine
Unfortunately, the machine doesn't have it's lid, but the rest of it was there, including a bullet shuttle and a couple of spindles, so homeward bound it went.

It obviously hadn't been used for a while as the workings were seized up and it was very dirty. Ray very kindly set about cleaning it and getting the workings going (thanks to WD40).

Some of the gilding is worn off.
My first sewing machine had been one similar to this Jones model, with the bullet shuttle, but I couldn't remember, exactly, how to load the thread into the shuttle. But, thanks to the internet, where I found a copy of an old Jones instruction manual, I soon had the hang of it. One big advantage with this machine over my electric one, which I have had for a good few years now, is that it has automatic thread take-up. The new electric ones now have the automatic take-up but there was an obvious step backwards when my machine was made.

Bullet shuttle and spool
It's so much more aesthetically satisfying using this machine, the noise it make while you're turning the handle is gentle and rhythmic and even though you only have one hand at the business end I find it easy to use. It's not as fast as my electric machine, and can only do one stitch, but it's now my favourite.
The business end.