I've bought a cute but old, tired, dusty, dirty little wicker handbag with a crusty, hard, inflexible leather strap that looks as though it may have once had a buckle and has been attached in a Heath Robinson way to the base so when you hold it the bag tips upside down! K. Oliver used to own it (whoever she may be) as she written her name on it three times! The bag is more or less structurally sound, but just needs some Toots Totes magic. I intend to transform it into something lovely and useful once more.
First job is to start dismantling. Luckily the lid is easily removable and I remove the decorative cane on one side, where it remains, so it matches the other side and the the strap is easier to take off without damaging it. Before cleaning I need to try and stabilise any damage with wood glue. Luckily it's mostly intact.
Come back later to follow the process and the progress!
A lovely client has a new scooter and asked me to make a posh zip topped tote bag to fit onto the handlebars. I made a prototype first to check how the dimensions would work and how the velcro straps to attach to the handlebars would sit. I finally decided it was best to have little loops to thread the straps through so that they could be removed for carrying the bag by hand. Here is the result in a William Morris print. With its leather handles it's dead posh and she'll have the smartest scooter for miles around!
January is often a bleak and non-productive month for makers, after the Christmas rush!
I'm happy to say my lovely clients have kept me quite busy, providing ready made and bespoke items. I've also had a sale on Etsy and MyFlair, which always drums up some interest!
The Year Ahead Now I'm looking ahead to the coming year, hoping to attend a few more fairs. I have just applied to the Braintree Textile Fair, hoping I may secure a pitch there. It's a great event and back in full force after a couple of years when events were difficult to arrange due to the unmentionable! Click on the link HERE to find out more about this year's event.
Sustainability And then there's my vow to be more sustainable. I already use eco-friendly wrapping, that can be recycled or reused, now I am looking to find some more sustainable ways of creating items. I have in the past, used preloved fabrics and woollens, so there will be a bit more of that, certainly.
Refurbishment I am also offering a free refurbishing service for Toots Totes bags you may have bought from me in the past that need a new zip or lining to make them last longer rather than you buying new. My bags are made to last with the best fabrics and threads and strong construction methods, so they'll stand up to that challenge!
Furthermore I intend to find sad and unloved wicker handbags to clean and refurbish giving them a new life. Watch this space!
I hate clearing up the aftermath of Christmas crackers-it's all so wasteful and the plastic nic-nacs all go into landfill. So I made my own reusable crackers this year from dupion silk! I didn't put a snap in but the velcro makes a satisfying rip! I filled them with chocolates, printed off the worst Christmas jokes I could find and made paper hats from coloured tissue. They went down a storm and the best bit is that i have them for next year too!
The immediate family also decided to give eachother consumable treats, rather than spending money on things none of us needed, only problem with that was that I then put on far too much weight!!
It is estimated that in the UK we use 227,000 miles of Christmas wrapping paper a year, much of which is not re-cyclable.
Using a Wrap Sack is an easy eco-swap and can be used for years to come, so a good investment! Less paper to stuff into the waste and a pretty alternative wrapping.
These Christmas Wrap Sacks handmade by Toots Totes, in Emma Bridgewater designed cotton fabric and fully lined in a lovely coordinating spotty cotton are topped off with a burgundy ribbon and could be sitting pretty under your tree this year!
They measures about 30 or 40cms across and about 30 cms from below the ribbon gather.
£20 & £25.
Head over to MyFlair.uk to purchase or contact me via email@example.com
Holly and Sampler can be made in other sizes-just ask!
I'm pleased to say I shall be at the Made in Colchester Christmas Market this year-details below-would love it if you could come and say hello!
Update: The evidence!
Just to let you know that some of my makes are now on a brand new ethical online marketplace called MyFlairUK. Check them out at www.myflair.uk. Makers are gradually adding more items so be sure to go back several times to see what's on offer during the next few months especially if you're keen to support small businesses in the UK. Thanks! x
I wanted to make something different so looked out the sari ribbons that I'd had waiting for a special project. These are a bi-product of sari making, the silk being torn into strips and knotted together into a continuous yarn for crafters like me to use! I found my fattest knitting needles and soon had an interesting looking rectangle to fashion into a 'Violet' bag. I decided to pull all the knots to the right side for additional texture and to use a pink dupion silk as a smooth lining. I topped it off with lovely purple leather handles, and a pink button and loop fastening, which makes a great fusion of totally boho and cute chic, I think.
Whilst I'd been routing around for sari ribbons I came across another ball of soft woolly yarn, just enough to make a little 'Nigella' pocket bag. I lined it with a vibrant cotton and added a lovely red leather cross body strap and a magnetic fastener. A vintage button in just the right colours tops it off and It has Just enough room for a phone, bank card and keys (and the necessities for a dog walk if you like!!)
I make no excuses for not having visited this page for so long, but I thought it about time I gave a quick update and show you what I've made since the beginning of the year.
Two lovely ladies sadly left the team that I used to work with, however I was delighted and honoured to be asked to make a part of their leaving gifts.
Both were made to the same pattern - my 'Rosa' design, but look what a difference the choice of fabric makes! This design has become a favourite to make and receive it seems! Let me know if you'd like one in your own choice of fabric.
Having ordered more fabric from my favourite designer Heather Moore at Skinny laminx, it arrived within 4 days all the way from South Africa, and I set about turning it into yet another 'Rosa'. It makes a lovely summery bag, don't you think? Still available at £80 (inc p+p within UK) Contact me if you're interested in purchasing.
All now SOLD
Keen to use every scrap of Emma Bridgewater fabric I had. (All NEW fabrics here!) I've been making some cute little purses. Let me know if you'd like one: sizes and prices below the pics!
Hello, I'm Ruth Overton. My nickname as a child was 'Ruthie Toots' which is how the name