Saturday, 13 April 2013

From the top...

I thought you might like to see how I make my cats and probably the best way to do that, is in sections.

So, to begin, this is how it all starts...

I used a circle for my pattern, cutting it down
Heavy weight interfacing

to the portion I needed to give an interesting body shape.

I use a heavy-weight interfacing to give form and structure

and I iron this onto the linen, or whatevery fabric I'm

going to use - I never bother to pin iron-on interfacing by

the way. Why make extra work!

My selection of embroidery threads
I use various cotton reels to draw around for the eye

patch, for which I use recycled felt; made from old

plastic bottles and this is stitched into place with

embroidery thread. I like to use different shades and it's

surprising what a subtle difference the colour of a thread

can have on the whole effect.

Some of my fabrics
 Only a fellow crafter will understand when I say it's a joy to

sift through my fabrics to choose just the right one to

create something that is pleasing to the eye.

I enjoy using cottons, as there is so much choice in pattern.

I use a medium-weight interfacing to strengthen any fabric

I'm going to applique - and it stops fraying.

So this is how I begin to assemble materials I will use in the

making of one of my cats. It's a process which has become as

much a part of my life now as cleaning my teeth before bed!

But I enjoy it tremendously and it's always exciting to watch

these inanimate objects take on a personality.

Next time, I'll show you how this process evolves and some

of the new ideas I've been experimenting with.

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for; my new Blog feature, Pinboard

I've chosen a very tallented maker as my first crafter and I'm sure great things are

destined for her.

I first came across the delightful baby shoes of Momatuvi whilst visiting the Folksy

forums and only wished I had a small pair of feet to fit into them!

Baby Booties Blue Mini Heart
Tanya is self taught and designs the shoes


They are stitched by hand and you can see

the tremendous care that goes into each

pair of shoes.

I asked Tanya a few questions about her

venture and here's what she told me...

Q. What inspires you?

'One of the main things that helps me to stay motivated is the craft that I do. I absolutely love making baby shoes. I have found over the years that when I'm doing something that I don't really enjoy or I'm not that interested in, then I find myself becoming more and more bored with it, until eventually I just stop doing it. Doing what you love is a great motivation.'

Q. How do you see your enterprise developing in the future?

'I actually can't visualise my business as an enterprise just yet, as it's more of a hobby that's growing organically into a business. I know it's a good idea to have a business plan and set goals, but for me, I prefer to let things progress naturally. Money is not a motivation for me, although it does feel good when I sell something.'

Q. If you could give one tip to fellow crafters, what would it be?

'I have been an artist all my life and I've found that the only person to criticise my me. My tip to fellow crafters is to 'believe' in yourself and know that someone will like your work and want to purchase it. How to find that someone is all down to promotion. Potential customers don't know your product exists, if they're not told/shown that it exists. My advice is to get your work out there through different social media platforms, supermarket notice boards, leave business cards every where and anywhere that's allowed. Sell at craft fairs and boot sales. Have a little get together/party with your products on display and encourage your friends to invite their friends to it (without obligation to purchase anything). Network with other business and crafters maybe even use their products within your own products. And generally talk about it to friends and family'.

Many thanks to Tanya for taking part and I know you will be itching to take a look at her Folksy shop - so here is the link

Friday, 29 March 2013

Coming soon...

I have been a little quiet over the past few weeks, but the cogs have been turning; I've been mulling over the idea of featuring a regular slot on my blog to showcase fellow crafter's work, but I feel Folksy Friday is already well covered by the stirling efforts of quite a few crafters on Folksy - so what could I do? I've come up with an idea, which I'm going to call  Pin Board. Each week I will feature one folksy seller, with a picture and link to their shop and fire three questions at them. So I really hope you can join me for that!

I also want to begin showing you how I make my cats - sometimes fiddly, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding. To kick this off, here is sneak preview; one of my cats in the making.

 This is one of my Trivial Travels cats and you can see that I begin by creating the face and then go on to applique the scene.

It's strange how, as soon as you add two eyes to something, it immediately takes on a personality and this is a stage I especially enjoy; even though the facial formula is pretty much the same for each cat, no two have ever looked the same - even something as slight as the angle of the vintage buttons I use for the eyes can make a difference. It's an unknown quantity and it never fails to fascinate and entertain me!

Next time I'll take you back to the start and show you how I begin the process; plus a few of the new ideas I'm experimenting with.

Work has also begun in my allotment, although the weather has set back the plans I had to start getting my seedlings in.

I'm so pleased I decided not to use a rotavator, but to dig out the weeds by hand; these were mostly dock, with long tap roots and I knew if I chopped those up I would be asking for trouble this year.

When I went to check the plot last week, there were very few weeds coming through, may be a dozen!

Now I'm just waiting for the weather to improve, so I can really begin planting out.

Someone else has been patiently waiting for the Spring to finally get its act together and send us a bit of warmth!

Like all cats, comfort comes high on Boo's list of priorities.
He has poked his nose outside only to relieve himself and is soon protesting at the back door to be let in and resume his nap on the comfiest chair near the stove!

I found this picture of him, taken last year in the garden - I'm sure this is what he is dreaming of.

Just to finish for today - sales on Folksy have been good for me so far this year and today I made my 100th sale. Here is the little guy that did it for me - another of my Love 'n Kisses.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Folksy Friday

March Back in Time

My first go at a Folksy Friday and I'm so excited to share with you a few of the great shops I've found on Folksy! My chosen theme is all things vintage, because I just love it. So sit back, march back in time and let the nostalgia wash over you!

Silent Theatre

Silent Theatre is one of my favourite shops on Folksy and has some gorgeous art prints sourced by Berkshire-based designer, Clare. I think Clare has a real flare for finding art work which, for me, sums up the golden era of days gone by.

Once Clare  has found the right piece of art work, she incorporates it into her own unique design, using her photo editing skills.
The art work I've chosen is entitled Art Nouveau Vintage Jewels and I just love the serenity in this picture. If you would like to see more of Clare's work, visit her Folksy shop at:

Mache Moon

What  a great idea to encapsulate time in a fashion bangle! What really strikes me about these gorgeous chunky bangles is that, as well as being a great piece of vintage art - they're so wearable.

Vintage Flower Decoupage Bangle

Mache Moon is the creation of Belinda Nicholson.

Belinda loves to upcycle and her chosen media is paper mache.

I think it's great that an item you can cherish had a 'previous life'!

All Belinda's bangles are finished off with varnish to make sure they are really hard wearing.

You can also find adorable Teddy Bears made from Paper Mache too - visit Belinda's Folksy shop Mache Moon at

Ultimo Clump

I go quite weak at the knees when I see vintage buttons!
So imagine my delight when I stumbled across this fantastic shop on Folksy.
26 Vintage Gold Buttons

Ceri Dawkins stocks a mouth-watering range of vintage supplies, including this pack of 26 vintage gold buttons.

I also just love the way Ceri is packaging her supplies; it's clear to see exactly what you're getting and has a real vintage feel to it.

If you want to see some more of the goodies Ceri has in stock, visit her shop at:

Ginger's Altered Bits

Fantastic name for a shop!     Designer and maker Carol Fox is based in East Anglia, where she works with a mix of new and reclaimed items

Just look at this beautiful fridge magnet! It's made from a game domino.

Vintage Domino Fridge magnet

carol's vintage fridge magnets are finished off with a coat of clear resin and this particular one has a copper dragonfly detail.

The effect is just gorgeous and I really like the whole steam punk theme in Carol's shop.

If you would like to see more of Carol's work,
visit her shop and take a peek.
Sew Amy

Amy Thompson's Trash to Treasure theme is just so inspiring.

Amy makes a stunning range of vintage themed books; notebooks; guestbooks and journals.

I feel so inspired when I look at the tremendous detail Amy puts into all her projects.

This lovely journal just makes me feel I want to open the pages inside and get writing about my life!

If you want to see some more of Amy's work, do visit her shop  - I guarantee you will feel as inspired as me.

So that's it! I do hope you've enjoyed looking at the work of these tallented designers as much as I have and thanks so much to all of them for being such good sports and letting me have my first little dabble at a Folksy Friday. Happy crafting everyone. X

Friday, 1 March 2013

Early Makes

Old Bag
It's interesting to look back at some early makes, to see how I've 'grown' from a design perspective. When I first began crafting in textiles, it really was an exercise in self discovery. Just what was I capable of making, with the limited knowledge and skills I had at the time.

I was exploring a new media, which was to lead me into all sorts of unexplored territory, before I finally settled on the collectable cats I make today!

American Tourist

I sourced my fabrics from the charity shops on my doorstep, as they were cheap and easily accessible - plus it was nice to feel I was giving something back.

'T' shirts were an interesting buy, as they came in a variety of flesh colours and inspired my early makes of little characters. I had the most enormous fun making these!

Fi Fi

I really learned a lot of new needle skills making these little people. I worked entirely by hand, as the projects were too small to use a sewing machine on, especially an electric one.

The fabric had to be eased through the fingers gently and my stitching had to be tiny - there was little room for mistakes, or it would stand out like a sore thumb!

Onion Seller

I gradually developed an eye for design, texture and colour; the skills I would need to compete in my chosen market.

Although I loved making these small characters, they were clearly not going to be viable as a product to market; it took me all day to make just one figure and who would be prepared to pay the £20 at least I would want?

It was back to the drawing board!

But this little project had served a purpose; it gave me an invaluable training and whetted my appetite.

With my new skills sharpened and enthusiasm bubbling, I felt ready to come up with a design I could market.

My motto has always been 'Keep it Simple'. That has remained my mantra when designing my collectable cats.

I base my patterns on simple shapes that are easy to assemble and recreate.

Trivial Travels Cat

All that style evolution has finally led to this little guy - the latest in my range of Trivial Travels Cats.

I'm really enjoying making these heavily appliqued cats.

I always strengthen my appliqued fabrics with some fusible interfacing. It gives structure and stops a lot of fraying - although I like to see the odd fibre here and there, as it adds interest.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Love 'n Kisses

A friend gave me a craft magazine just before Christmas and one of the articles featured a particular stamp, I think it was called 'stitches'. The effect was a border of large, primitive stitches; some crossing over one another. I thought this might work well in actual stitching and was eager to try it out on my cats.
Love 'n Kisses with heart balloons.
I was really pleased with the results when I used it as an over-stitch to the machine - applique I use to attatch the bottom trim on the cat.

I made a couple of cats using this technique and also discovered some delightful little rainbow-coloured jingle bells in my local craft shop, which added a nice touch.
I've enjoyed discovering that one or two other paper crafting techniques transfer quite nicely to textiles.
I'll share more about that in a later blog.

Love 'n Kisses caption

I plan to make some more of these, as I think they make a nice gift idea.

This little guy on the left has already sold, so I think they may go down pretty well in my Folksy shop.

I'm enjoying making the distressed labels to finish the whole thing off.

Grey Swirl Bowtie

I have been very busy over the past couple of months setting up my new Folksy shop: Bow Ties for Hot Guys.

This is something very different for me and I'm having so much fun with it!

There is no specific reason why I chose to make bow ties, although I'm a big fan of vintage and nostalgia, so perhaps that had something to do with it.

I wanted to make bow ties that were very different and offered men a chance to have some fun accessorising and I thought it would be a good idea to turn the whole thing into a complete gift idea and designed my own packaging.

If you've never had a go at this, I can thoroughly recommend it - I had soooooo much fun!
I chose fire damage as my packaging theme, to compliment the name Bow Ties for Hot Guys.
I sourced some cute little woodchip boxes from the internet and distressed them to make them look as though they had been snatched from burning embers, and made a label to match. I also designed a label to go on the box and packed the bowtie inside using fire-red shredded paper.

So far, the new shop on Folksy is VERY quiet and I may have to accept this is not the right platform to sell them. But I will give it a year, before I give up and try elsewhere.

It's been a hard day.

Cat lovers who enjoy visiting my blog will no doubt be wondering what Boo is up to. Those of us who know and love him are never surprised to learn that Boo is sleeping

While the weather has been so icy here on the coast, Boo has rarely moved from the stove. He has a range of chairs he likes to sit in and if anyone sits in the chair he has set his sights on they have to move - that's the law.

Boo will be 7 this year. We got him from Cats Protection as a three-month-old kitten for my daughter Milly, who absolutely adores him. Just to tell you a little bit about his profile; he loves Dreamies and sleeping; hates Whiskers and going to the vet for his annual jab; Boo's biggest secret that he doesn't like anyone to know about is.......his name was Lola.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Trivial Travels

I'm always thinking of new ideas to broaden my range of collectable cats and I draw much of my inspiration from the real cats around me; mostly our own dear cat Boo and his 'back yard' friends who often visit.
It was while watching Boo's interaction with his buddies and his meanderings within the boundaries of our garden, I came up with the idea for my Trivial Travels Cats.

Garden Gate Cat
Where do our cats go when they disappear for a few hours each day; returning tired and hungry, ready for food and a long nap by the fire?
Although some cats have quite a large territory, most prefer to stay close to home and this was the theme I focused on - all the favourite little haunts our lovable moggies beat a path to every day, probably just around the corner, more likely no further than your window sill!

I enjoy applique immensely and find this a particularly rewarding project to work on.
There is such a fabulous range of fabrics available, it's easy and great fun to sit and create little scenes.
I wanted to almost give the impression that this is what the cat sees; like the scene is reflected upon it.

The Shed Cat
I find new ideas pop into my head all the time
and once I think of something I can't wait to get all the fabrics out and start planning how I'm going to create my idea.

My daughter, Milly, came up with the idea of making a 'Today You Visited' label, which I think finishes the whole thing off and makes a great gift.

I have had to charge a little more for these cats, as there is quite a bit of work involved. So I'll have to see how well they sell, but I enjoy designing them so much I think I will just go on making them!

Seashore Cat

I'd love to hear from any visitors to my blog of places their own cats like to visit.
This Seashore Cat is one of my favourites. I like to think sometimes our local cats wander up to the sea and take a break from hunting in the sand hills to watch the moon on the water, or shut their eyes against the wind off the sea.
Do cats appreciate beautiful scenery I wonder? I think they might.

Window Sill Cat

So these are the Trivial Travels Cats I've made so far - do you have a favourite?

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Importance of being Boo Boo

Wearing his Head of Production Hat, Boo takes quality control very seriously and likes to keep a close eye on manufacture of all feline products! In fact there's just one thing Boo takes more seriously than working the shop floor (apart from Dreamies of course) and that is...

Head of Production - Boo Boo!