Friday, 1 January 2010

What I did in my holidays!

I was very lucky to be given a beautiful book of Japanese textile 'gifts' by my dear husband, Jonathan, for Christmas. It is called 'Kokoro no Te' which translates as 'Handmade treasures from the heart'. And I have had such a wonderful time trying out some of the projects over my Christmas holidays!
It is filled with beautiful projects to make little bags, purses and this beautiful needle case.
Everything is made with felt lining, and in this case felt is used for the needle 'leaves' and for some of the 'cherries'. I loved making theses beautiful cherries covered in seed beads, with their silk stems.
The idea is to hang the needlecase up somewhere in your sewing room so it is always handy. I used some of the beautiful Japanese fabric I bought in New York for the 'outer leaves'.
All the projects are almost exclusively hand sewn. Though I did use the machine to make the silk 'stems'. A 'rouleux hook' is absolutely essential for making these (and even then they're pretty tricky!).
This is the 'Tomato Cache'. A tiny little bag 'to keep special jewellery or to give away with a special present inside' as the author suggests! I just couldn't resist making it, even though it's not particularly practical (unless you're Japanese!).
I used some of the vintage fabric I bought in the antique shop in Tetbury a few months ago.
Note the tiny silk rose buds and all the beautiful beads! This book is just SO perfect for me, as I have a large stash or silk remnants left over from the days (MANY years ago) when I used to make patchwork ballgown 'skirts' from silk remnants. A girl who had her own evening/wedding clothes business used to give me all her remnants and I used to turn them into
3M x 1M pieces of patchwork silk. She would buy these off me and make them into beautiful ballgowns! The money was enough to pay for a childminder to come to the house once a week to look after my very wee boys so I could sit at my sewing machine and make the 'skirts' (plus other things...). This arrangement basically kept me sane during those really tough toddler years!
Anyway I still have lot's of silk left!
Here is the 'Cicada' evening purse. Again very small, but SO cute!
The other big advantage I have for making these pieces is a pretty big and unused stash of beads!
This is thanks to my sister, Jane, who has spent the last 25 years making and selling her own beaded jewellery. A number of years ago she gave me a load of beads she didn't want anymore, which I planned to use on quilts. I did use a few, and then moved on to something else, so these have been sitting in a little drawer brooding over their uselessness for too long. How happy they were to get working again! And how lucky I am to have all the resources I need to make these beautiful little 'Treasures from the heart'!
And look at all the lovely things still to make! Like this gorgeous evening purse. Only problem is I have run out of felt! The Projects do use a lot - everything is lined with felt and the author also wants you to use felt as a padding but I substituted this for wadding to save my precious, disappearing bag of felt scraps.
I am dying to make this sewing tidy! All the patterns are at the back of the book, and though time consuming, nothing is really too hard, just fiddly due to the small size.
I have got more felt on order and have told my sister that I'm going to need more beads (pretty please...), so watch this space for some more 'treasures' in the future!

What a lovely way to start the year (and decade)! I do hope this is a sign of things to come.
Happy New Year everybody!!


  1. Oh Jo!!! What FANTASTIC things you make!! The silk is just beautiful in combination with the fabrics and lucky you having been given such a nice book! I LOVE all the bits you have made. There is clearly a lot of work in each of them and so delicately put together. They are beautiful!!

  2. It is so good that you have had such a wonderful time this christmas making all these beautiful little treasures - well done, they really are equisite x

  3. Jo these items are just beautiful. Looking forward to seeing more items you'll make from your lovely book.
    Sarah x

  4. your projects are adorable and lovely.