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BAG BLOG September 2016…..I’ve completed another Bag in the Gothic collection….Isabella. Pictured below; she is a partly unlined and suede lined Horse-shoe Gusset construction across body bag. Isabella is a little bit special…..she is going to be raffled to raise £1,000.00 for Dementia. I’m selling 1,000 x £1.00 raffle tickets with the draw being sometime after Xmas. Isabella is a gorgeous bag and is one of 3 identical bags…well two really, the other one is the reverse colour way. If you would like to purchase some raffle tickets, please email me at the address above….to date we have raised £450.00 and that’s just in 3 weeks! Thank you for your kind generosity. =)
Bag Blog May 2016
Pictured below are images of my latest finished bag….I use this all the time…..I always need so much space for carrying all my stuff when I’m out and about during the day. This fully suede lined leather bag comes complete with suspended trio of pockets; one zip and two pouches. The front of the bag has my trademark knots and tassel, with the back having a reduced decor version of the front. Handles are my characteristic Gothic style which is threading through a lot of my work at the moment.
My latest research visit was to the amazing Strawberry Hill House in London which was redesigned to the Gothic mansion that it is now by Horace Walpole author of The Castle of Otranto. I’ve included a few images from my visit:
BAG BLOG ref: Huge Tote bag featured further down this page. I have been using my PVC’D bag that I made with my own fabric and I have to say the material is wearing really well. I can tend to be a bit rough with my big daytime bags but this one is really stepping up to the mark and I’m really enjoying it’s edgy look =)
BAG BLOG OCTOBER 2015 I’ve just finished making these two little lovelies, though the blue one has already been dispatched to her new home in west London. These are Demelzas and are part of my Cornwall collection. They are raw edged and self lined with gorgeous foil leather. The outside is made from the finest Lamb Nappa (sheep leather) and is deliciously soft. The flap has a triangular window slashed out with an inset of laser cut leather showing beneath. The flap is knotted down with my leather french knot and a luscious tassel. Under the flap is a letterbox opening to an integral pocket and the top of the bag is secured closed with a lovely flower shape magnetic. Attached through slashes in the foil leather is the super fine but very strong chain. The chain is very long and the bag is worn low around mid thigh height.
Images from my visit to Wood Ash Group who make press knives to cut intricate designs from leather and other materials.
I made very accurate pattern templates from card for the individual pattern pieces that I then sent off to Wood Ash who made the heavy metal cutters which are then used to cut accurate replicas of my original design out of leather. I operated the clicking press myself after a quick demo by one of the very friendly staff and one hour later I had cut out all of my many pattern pieces.
I had pre-prepared much of the leather back in my workroom as some of the pieces had to be rolled for fold over flaps and some pieces were self lined with contrasting suede.
I finished a HUGE bag that I had been working on for some time and just pushed to finish it the other day and even if I say so myself…it is FABULOUS! I used my own fabric design that I had printed on cotton fabric by Digitex which I then got PVC’d. It will be interesting to see how it wears compared to leather.
Pictured below left is front on view; the chain is threaded through the screw in eyelets and when bag is worn the strap and chain draw the bag closed.
Centre; When sitting the bag takes on a really interesting architectural shape due to the combination of the raw edge sides at the top and the fold in pleats on back and front.
Right; gives close up of leather attachments for chain. I put several layers of different coloured leathers together which show really funkily at the edges in pink and black/blue.
Bag Blog 2015
This year I’m working on extending my Gothic based collection. This will consist of scrolled edge bags cut using press knives as well as by hand. The designs are Large self lined Tote Bags, Self Lined Triple Pocket Flap Bags and Single Pocket Flat Across Body Bags. All are in the most gorgeous combinations of Purple, Pink and mottled silver grey leathers which look fab together; the individual colours really outlining the lovely scroll edges of the bag designs.
I am also working on a seperate accessories collection consisting of Passport holders and I Pod/Phone pouches made from lovely soft leathers which have sections that are geometrically cut,drawn back and secured with my signature leather french knots over inset layers of contrasting leather showing beneath.
Finally…and this will really be a labour of love; I am making just 6 Princess bags in the full pleated version but I have made some minor alterations to the original in that I am replacing the french knots with Swarovsky Crystals and adding a long shoulder strap (the originals were clutch bags, though I did add wrist straps to some special commisions).
These new sparkly Princess Bags are being made from the most luxurious metallic lamb nappa (sheep leather) with the softest foil leather being used for the pleats.
They will be made in two colours: Baby Pink with Champagne foil pleats and flap and Baby Blue with Pewter foil pleats and flap. The Swarovsky Crystals on the Pink bag are a Soft rose colour and clear on the Blue bag. This design is one of my most intricate and very difficult to make….it is an absolute beauty and is a timeless
‘Aint no Saint’ classic.
‘Aint no Saint’ hand knitted wrist warmers
Instructions: Please note, I am not a professional knitter, I just design something and knit it, so please bear with my amateurish knitting instructions!
Yarns used: Rowan Kidsilk Haze(a small amount of a 25grm ball) Rowan Cashsoft DK two colours, each 50grm balls and approx 120cm (each ball is 50grms, loads of metres) Grundl Flamenco per each wrist warmer. (You will probably have enough wool to make 2 pairs)
Cast on 36 stitches on size 5mm knitting needles in the Kidsilk Haze.
6 rows of stocking stitch starting with plain.
Then 1 row Flamenco. (This row is worked on the reverse side of the work but appears on the front because of the roll of the stocking stitch)
6 rows colour 1 Cashsoft stocking stitch
4 rows colour 2 Cashsoft stocking stitch
3 rows colour 1 Cashsoft stocking stitch
Next row still in colour 1, reduce by 10 stitches by knitting the following stitches together: 4&5, 7&8, 10&11, 13&14, 16&17,
19&20, 22&23, 25&26, 28&29, 31&32
Now change to size 8mm needles using both colour 1 and 2 as one yarn and do 9 rows in 2 stitch knit and purl ribbing making sure that the first and last 2 stitch ribs show as purl on the right side as I find this looks neater when joining the edges as the first purl stitch of each side gets incorporated into the seam so that you end up with the join being as a two purl rib.
Last row cast off in rib.
You can make these shorter by reducing the number of stocking stitch rows, they look good either way.
Luscious Lemon Cheesecake ‘Organic Cookbook’ by Renee Elliott and Eric Treuille. Well worth getting the book; has loads of fab recipes, main meals, soups and salads as well as other cakes. Enjoy!
This cake is beautiful and creamy and comfortably serves 12 people, although the original recipe says 6-8!
For the crust:
200grms(7oz) ground almonds
4 tbsp melted butter
For the filling:
1kg (2lb) cream cheese
350grms(12oz) granulated sugar(you can use the same sugar thru out recipe)
grated zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice( I squeezed the whole lemon I’d zested from)
4 eggs beaten
For the topping:
250ml(8floz) sour cream
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice( I squeezed a whole lemon)
Essential equipment: 25cm springform cake tin
Preheat the oven to 180C Gas 4
Combine the almonds, sugar, salt and butter. Press evenly on to the base of the cake tin. Bake until crisp, 10 mins. Cool on a wire rack.
Place the cream cheese in a bowl with the sugar, lemon zest and juice and beat briefly until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs a quarter at a time until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Spread the cheese cake mixture over the crust. Set the tin on a baking sheet and bake until the centre wobbles slightly when the tin is tapped, about 45mins.
For the topping, combine the sour cream, sugar and lemon juice. Spread over the baked cheesecake. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 mins. Cool completely in the tin on a wire rack. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
To unmould, run a knife around the sides of the cheesecake. Release the springform clip and remove the sides of the tin. Serve chilled, cut into slices. Yum!
Creative Skills Blog: Written in 2010
The idea of the creative skills workshops started when I took a stall at Brick Lane’s Backyard market where I was mostly selling beads but also provided random balls of wool which were remnants from my many projects along with second hand knitting needles and crochet hooks. I set up a knitting chair with needles already cast upon for anyone who fancied sitting down and having a knit. My ambition was to get the whole of my stall (called ‘The Bead Tent’) totally covered in my visitors knitting. This actually proved really popular with both experienced knitters and total knitting virgins and I wasn’t there too long before I’d realised that I had hit upon a lovely experience where I could chat to like minded people and teach total novices how to crochet and knit while also learning a thing or two from some very knowledgeable career knitters.
My teaching skills that are honed from my years as a fitness instructor and personal trainer seemed to transfer effortlessly to craft and wow did I feel good knowing that I’d helped someone learn a new skill that they’d always wanted to but always put off either because they felt they would never have the time or that they wouldn’t be any good at it. The truth is we all have to start somewhere and if the person teaching you is patient and understanding and totally passionate about making things, you can’t go wrong.
So now I am setting up some great craft workshops at the end of which you’ll have something fabulous to take home with you that you will have made yourself; how cool is that! Now these aren’t your twee sort of classes that immediately spring to mind, but really quite unusual and very contemporary design led workshops where you learn the basics of a craft that will give you the confidence to make and even design things all on your own. I will also be setting up some drop in sessions where you can bring along your current project and just sit and work on it with loads of other people doing just the same; so if you get stuck with anything there will always be someone to help you out. All this accompanied by a nice cup of tea or coffee and homemade cakes! Sound good?
Although my teaching comes from the fitness industry, my craft skills come from being a qualified Cordwainer trained at The London College of Fashion where I specialised in hand made leather hanbags and accessories. This coupled with a lifetime of learning on many short courses with my all important foundation of training coming from my Mum, there is very little that I haven’t at least dabbled with and some I have excelled at. The workshops will all be taught by people who specialise in their subject and who have an artistic and contemporary approach to the traditional craft skill.
Look forward to seeing you
P.S. It was shortly after writing this Blog that I set up my first Leather Handbag Making Course at Southgate College in North London. You can see the fabulous bags that my students made on the Courses Page =)