I was lucky enough to snap up a Dachshund printed fabric off-cut from a Sophie Allport shop last year and was itching to use it in a new artwork design. Finished and mounted before Christmas, I have only just found time to photograph and list in my online shops. I did however remember to take a few in progress shots and thought I’d share these with you to give you an insight into how the picture came together.
Having chosen the light turquoise blue/green felt as the background, initial colour scheme ideas came from the dark red of the Dachshund’s collar so I started by sourcing buttons in complementary colours.
My next stage was to play with fabrics and trims, building a balanced piece with interest from different patterns and textures.
Tiny embellishments are added last to give additional interest and prettiness to the artwork before being mounted on a white canvas and finished with my logo on the reverse.
As with most of my products, I try to use as many donated and recycled fabrics and decorations as possible to save materials ending up in landfill. For this particular picture, many of the additional fabrics, dark grey paper, buttons and sequins were all repurposed.
To finish, here’s a few interesting facts about these adorable hounds:
* with their German origins, the correct pronounciation of the word “Dachshund” is “Daks-hoont”, with the word “dachs” meaning “badger” and “hund” meaning “hound” or “dog”;
* they have quite a few nicknames, the most endearing to me are “sausage dog” and “doxie”;
* in 1972 Waldie the Dachshund was the colourful mascot for the Munich Olympic Games.
As felt is one of the textiles that I use to produce my items I thought I’d let you know a bit about this amazingly versatile fabric. I chose felt as my main medium because of its vast colour range and the fact it is a forgiving, easy to use fabric. I can gently pull it into shape should I need to (although it isn’t elastic, so over pulling means it can completely mis-shape), it’s easy to cut and needs no hemming making it the perfect base for layering fabrics and embellishments.
Felt is a man-made fabric which has been created from natural materials and is thought to be one of the oldest textiles around. Said to have been created in Asia, the Nomadic people are still using traditional methods to product felt for practical uses including tents and clothing. There are tales of St. Christopher and St. Clement, when fleeing from persecution, stuffing their sandals with wool to ease their feet and finding the wool had turned into felt socks due to the mix of continuous movement and sweat.
The traditional process of making felt is a combination of matting, condensing and pressing the fibres together. When I was home educating my two children, we went along to a workshop where we turned wool roving into felt using hot soapy water and rubbing the fibres in a circular motion with our fingers to eventually end up with a small pieces of felt (you can read my blog post about it here). It was a time consuming but worthwhile exercise with an end result of colourful artwork having combined felt and roving to make patterned pieces. An easier way is to pop an unwanted pure wool sweater or similar in the washing machine on a hot cycle – the heat and water will shrink and combine the fibres to produce felt.
Being a popular medium, felt is now manufactured to use in many areas of life, including the automotive industry, musical instruments, home construction and fashion, to name just a few, and there are different types of felt for different types of use.
100% synthetic is a man-made felt using mainly acrylic, polyester and viscose (rayon). As it is widely available and produced in an array of fabulous colours, including glittery and self-adhesive, it is ideal for general crafting. This felt is stiffer to the touch, strong and easier at keeping its shape.
A blended felt is a mix of pure wool and viscose making it softer than synthetic felt. Again, you can source a good selection of colours including “heathered”, an effect produced from wool fibres being interwoven. The majority of my items are sewn using this type of felt as it has the softness of wool felt combined with some strength of synthetic.
Eco-friendly 100% wool comes in a choice of thickness and has a lovely soft feel. The different thicknesses mean this natural textile can be used for different mediums with thicker felt being good for sturdier creations like wall coverings or art.
100% roving is wool that has been combed and twisted to hold the fibres together ready to be used for needle felting, a process where fibres are combined using a continuous stabbing with a very sharp needle to produce delightful ornaments, decorations and dolls.
I mainly use a blended felt (usually 30% wool, 70% vicose) with a good weight to create my items, occasionally using synthetic should I fall in love with the colour or need to make something sturdier. I will be adding 100% wool felt items in the near future and, if I am happy with how these work for me and able to find a good selection of colours, aim to move over to this eco-friendly felt in the long run.
Thought I’d give a little insight into how my items begin life and evolve to become a finished product. This journey can take several weeks, especially once I reach embellishment stage and my own quote, “an artist can’t art unless they feel artistic” rings true many times!
Although I’m not a night bird, never have been and most probably never will be, I do find my brain gets a spurt of energy around 9:30 in the evening and it starts to fill with new ideas, colour schemes and what not. It’s a little annoying to be honest as there’s no way the rest of my body can start to put these thoughts into practise as I’m physically too tired. Before hitting the sack I’ll jot down any light bulb ideas and perhaps pull out a couple of fabric squares or embellishments to remind me to pick up the inspiration the next day.
Sometimes a new product will come from something I’ve seen or heard that day, or perhaps from a client with an idea for a commission. My first port of call is either the felt colour or the fabric choice, or perhaps the combination of both. I have a cheerful selection of felts to choose from and an even bigger collection of fabric which has surprisingly stayed in it sorted divisions by colour. The vast majority of fabrics have been donated ready to be recycled into something new but I can’t help but buy a few pretty offcut squares or fat quarters to add to my collection.
Once the initial colour scheme has been decided and the charm or main feature has been picked, then it’s down to finding embellishments and having a good old play around to get a feel for how I’d like my new piece to look. This will include ribbons, lace, buttons and seed beads, perhaps with printed words too, but I’m toying with idea of including other media in my work in the near future – building up the confidence for this one.
Neatly sewing everything in its right place is the final stage, often with additional stitching or further decoration as I move things along. I love the process and how everything gradually comes together, producing a totally unique item with many hours of love and attention given to it.
Happy new year to all my readers, I hope you’ve all had a good festive season with time to recharge and look ahead to 2019.
The lead up to Christmas is often a busy one for small businesses, especially those that involve selling, and it is quite a relief to have a little downtime to collect thoughts, look back on the past year and then look forward to the new one with new ideas and optimism. For me the beginning of the year is often quiet on the selling front and I should by now be used to this and try not to get a too twitchy! There are so many things involved in running an indie business that a space of quiet like this should really be a blessing to catch up on non-sewing work, but naturally you can’t help hearing those inner voices casting small nuggets of doubt about your craft and where your path is leading.
As these thoughts can pop up at any time, I keep a month by month journal listing anything positive that happens with regard to Ellie’s Treasures. When the doubt sets in, I find it a help to look back and see that business is not stagnant, there is always something in the pipeline, always something to work on and improve and, hopefully, a lovely customer or two that comes along at the right moment with a compliment that makes you start to believe in yourself again.
The last few months have been a whirlwind of sewing, listing, restocking and selling so I thought I’d share with you a couple of lovely things that have happened since the Autumn and a few plans for the coming year.
I can now show you photos of an artwork commission I received back in September and completed in October. It was a privilege to work alongside my client and be trusted with such a personal birthday present and seeing it come together, piece by piece, was really fulfilling.
The end of November and beginning of December were busy craft market times for Ellie’s Treasures with Pensthorpe Craft Fair and Deepdale Christmas Market over two consecutive weekends. Both were extremely busy and great fun. It was a pleasure to meet so many supportive sellers, customers and visitors, it really does make the early mornings and late evenings worthwhile. I’d like to thank Lottie of Lottie’s Little Treasures (who was also selling at Deepdale with her beautifully gorgeous goodies) for taking the time out of her busy days to track me down so we could meet in person – it was a lovely surprise, thank you so much.
Plans for 2019? Well I have a few new ideas up my sleeve! I’ve just started to introduce planner charms to my range, two are now listed, one is waiting to be photographed and several are ready for sewing. The clip charms are cute and original little accessories that will brighten up any thin ring bound notebook, diary or journal – perfect for the stationery lover.
I’ve been hearing on the grapevine that nature will be featuring big this year, so I’m in the process of developing a range to include more tactile embellishments along these lines. Also, getting Ellie’s Treasures out on the road is something I’d like to do more of as I really enjoy meeting folk face to face. This does mean I need to be sewing a lot more than I already am so a big challenge there for me as time always seems to be against me. Finally, perhaps this year will be the year I start my own shop website – we’ll see … one step at a time!
Do you have exciting plans for 2019? Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear how you see the year progressing for you.
The year has whizzed by so quickly and I can’t believe Christmas is just a few weeks away. Popping along to local Christmas markets and fairs is a great way to get into the festive season and do a little shopping from small independent sellers, providing you and yours with unique lovingly made gifts.
The last couple of months have seen me busy sewing at every available opportunity, building stock levels for the busy season, in particular, two forthcoming Norfolk based Christmas Markets.
The first event will be Pensthorpe Natural Park:
followed by a return visit to Deepdale Christmas Market:
If you are in the area and fancy a trip out to either of these lovely venues, do come and find me for a chat, I can assure you your day will not be wasted as each venue will have a wonderful Christmassy feel.
Both venues will be offering a good selection of stalls including food, drink and gift ideas as well as refreshments to keep you going throughout the day. There is also free parking and free market entry at both of these events with Pensthorpe also offering a reduced entry fee to the park on the day – a popular place for nature lovers and those that wish to stretch their legs in beautiful surroundings.
Many of my new items have been sewn exclusively for these two events and are not currently available to purchase online. If a particular little lovely catches your eye in this post, please do get in touch so I can reserve it for you (just hit that “Contact” button above and leave me a message or click over to my Etsy shop and leave me a “Conversation”).
If you are venturing out to fairs and markets this winter, wrap up warm, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy your day.