In case you hadn't noticed, this month I've added another page to my website, called 'Fabrics'. It's jam packed with beautiful pictures of all types of fabric in both vintage and contemporary designs. Now anyone who is thinking about having a bespoke bag made to their own unique specification can get some idea as to what type of fabric designs are available. Needless to say-there's plenty more where they came from-so don't be put off if nothing takes your fancy from that array-I can soon source some more options for you to choose from. Just give me some idea of colour/ type of design - as traditional or as wacky as you you like! Just complete the form on the Bespoke Contact page to let me know what you're thinking.
I've never been happy with how my bags are named-I tried to start them all with 'B', Belle, Boxy, Big (!), but that didn't really work for all of them. So some have funky titles like 'Beaujangle' and others just a descriptive phrase like 'silk framed purse'. I wondered whether if I gave them all a floraI related name it might make a perceptual difference?
A straw poll on Instagram and Facebook seemed a good idea, to see what my friends and followers thought. Instagram showed 69% in favour of a floral themed change and FB was 66% in favour. Lots of folk on Insta didn't vote and who knows who didn't like to say no on either platform..!
A very respected fellow maker, Pauline Greuell, based in the Netherlands (click on her name in this paragraph to check out her unusual and beautiful products on Etsy) messaged me to say that she thought it would make the bags more difficult to find with an online search and of course she's totally right! It makes sense to use both the new name and the old to cover both the prettying effect and the practical side.
Please meet 'Posy' Silk Frame Purse, 'Poppy' Cross Body Bag, 'Fleur' handbag with leather handles and 'Clover' clutch bag. After all, as Juliet declared: 'a rose with any other name would smell as sweet'!
Now that Christmas has been and gone, I can show you the last thing I made. For only the second time since I started making bags (in 2011), I actually used a bought paper pattern rather than making it up as I went along! I added some of my own ideas, as you do. I must confess it was a challenge to decipher the instructions and diagrams but I got there! The dear little four year old who received it declared: 'This is the perfect bag for me', so I felt it was a job well done! :)
The seat cover made a lovely cross body bag-I had thought it would go onto Etsy to be sold but needless to say I can't part with it-it's part of my family history!!
UPDATE: (30/12/18) And I've since discovered that a cousin in New Zealand also made cushions in this design, following a trip to the UK many years ago, when one of mum's sisters gave her the materials and pattern to make them! So even more of a family piece than I had realised!
Some cute little purses (or pouches depending on your part of the world!)
Kitsch poodles and limos -what's not to like?
Or trad William Morris Corncockle fabric-which do you prefer?
Don't forget I also make bespoke items to order if you have something particular in mind.
Go to the Bespoke Contact page and let me know...
Designed by mum as an upright chair seat cover this cross-stitch is very typical of the 1970's. When 70's colours went out of vogue the seat was re-covered, this was washed and placed aside in the linen cupboard, where I found it again recently. The colours and design now appeal to a new generation and Mum's quite happy for me to repurpose it, so I'm going to attempt to make it into the back and flap of a clutch bag.
I have a lovely golden dupion silk to make the front and lining, so we'll see how that works out!
20% off selected items for just one week! Click on the pics below to go straight to my Etsy shop for more details.
It's been lovely to have such a great response to mum's cross stitch-thank you to you all! The random design is easy for her to complete and keeps her fingers busy without the difficulty of following a pattern. It's given her a purpose for her creations and I've sold them as fast as we can make them!
Adding a zip or a magnetic fastener, a vintage button and a funky lining makes for a pleasing result, providing you're not too particular about the cross-stitching being perfect!
And they're easy to post as a gift or keep as a special treat for yourself!
I spotted it on Ebay and did the usual sneaky snipe with 7 seconds to go at the end of the auction and won it for £25. So at that price I was willing to have a go at customising it.
I wanted it navy blue, but paint suppliers had bright blues, smokey blues and green blues but no navy, unless I had it custom made for mega-bucks.
I took a chance and bought two 150ml pots of Annie Sloane chalk paint-one in Napolean Blue and the other in a graphite grey, hoping that would be enough paint for the job and that mixing the two would result in the desired colour. I also bought a pot of chalk paint wax as I wanted a shiny finish.
I gave the cupboard a good wash with sugar soap and washed off 50 or so years of dirt and furniture polish. I sanded the cross pieces as I wanted them to give a yellow/orange contrast to the blue.
Then came the paint mixing. I added a teaspoon of graphite to the blue and mixed vigourously! No perceivable difference, so I added another two teaspoons and stirred vigourously, but still bright blue! To cut a long story short, I continued in this vein. a couple at a time, and finally thought s*d it and tipped the whole lot in! A glorious dark blue emerged, navy but on the side of airforce blue. Gorgeous!
I applied it with a small sponge roller, because we'd had good results with our kitchen cabinets, using this method, but I didn't take into account that the kitchen needed a matt finish and I wanted a shiny one! Trying to work the clear wax into all those little orange peel bumps was a nightmare and as much as I applied the wax, waited 24 hours for it to dry and buffed with an electric buffer (x3) I couldn't get the desired effect. Wahh!
Back to square one-sand it all back (three coats of wax clogs up the sandpaper something rotten!) and try to get rid of the bumps with relative success and try repainting. And that means I've spent more money. Maybe buying a finished cabinet would have been a better idea?
Well I'm afraid I still couldn't get it right so I finished it off with some lovely retro fabric, designed by none other than Heather Moore of Skinny laminx fame!
And THEN-I put it back onto Ebay!! Hopefully someone will like the shabby chic look or will have more energy than me to do a proper job! Sigh!
UPDATE: SOLD! And looks fab on a parquet floor in someone's lounge! Would you believe it!
My dear mum, Willa likes to be busy all the time. And as for many of us who were born to post war mothers, I have been inspired by the 'make do and mend' generation and in mum's case, the 'don't sit idle' generation!
Over the years she has taught me to knit and crochet, to sew, to paint silk and constantly badgered me to have something on the go! What are you working on at the moment Ruth? is usually the question!
It was because she kept asking continually, when I was going through a difficult period in my life that had sapped my creativity, that I eventually took up bag making. It was a slow and reluctant process to begin with, but with friends and family responding well to my efforts I soon caught the bug and many years later I'm still at it!
Well that was a long winded introduction to preface that we have a little collaboration going on! At 88 mum might not be quite so able as she used to be but still wants to be busy. She sits and cross stitches binca (you know - the stuff they gave us at school to practice our stitches on?) However once every lamp and vase has a mat under it, there's only a certain number of cross stitch mats you can use! And Dad was beginning to raise his eyes skywards each time another was completed and yet another started!
So we tried folding them up and found they made rather funky retro style purses! Pictured below are the results of adding a lining, a zip or a flap fastening. Six went onto Etsy and we sold four within three days! Mum's really chuffed and inspired to make more, so keep an eye on Etsy - you may see something you like and I can promise you it won't be a mat!
Hello, I'm Ruth Overton. My nickname as a child was 'Ruthie Toots' which is how the name 'TootsTotes'