The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Handmade fantasty felt bird lavender bags


Photo: Handmade bird lavender bags

Photo: Handmade bird lavender bags

The small investment in the old sewing machine is paying off on the fun stakes. Absorbed by the possibilities that seem limitless from a newbie point of view. Yet alarmed that the precious needle might snap. Longing for small sharp scissors to cut a fine line (found them at Tescos and spare needles, just in case!). Practicing my curves, learning how to thread a bobbin and listening to the radio. Discovering that I had a whole load of inherited cotton thread on wooden reels. Bliss.

I reckon that it’s at least 40 years since I last used a sewing machine. Getting back in the saddle was easy when it came to threading the machine but it has been a fairly steep learning curve since then. Lots of dashing up to bed to pore over the manual – downloaded from the Singer site onto the laptop, which is located in my major nest upstairs.

As the deep freeze has halted all garden projects the machine has stepped into the void and become my long lost friend.

We are selling our smellies in gauze bags. Pretty but not particularly original. I love the little gingham hearts filled with lavender but wanted to try making something a bit more adventurous. Over the past three days I’ve created a flock of lavender filled birds. Once they had eyes they seemed to come alive.

Hopefully we are going to open our own online mini shop on the Cottage Smallholder website by Sunday (not the Country Store). Meanwhile these birds will be available from our gateside stand from midday tomorrow at £4.50 each. If I close my eyes I can almost here the twittering in the kitchen below my bedroom.

Now what shall I make next?

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  1. I LOVE your site! I found you when I was looking for a banana chutney recipe. Very sorry to hear that you have been poorly. Looking forward to sneaking a look around over the christmas break. My mum used to make great tea cosies from old blankets made to look like cottages – felt roofs and embroidered windows and flowers. I loved making them to give as presents as a child. Will see if I can find a picture of the one I still have. Catch you again soon.
    Happy Christmas. Bagpuss 🙂

  2. Well done! you have so many hidden talents. It’s a JOY seeing them come to the fore.
    Eager to see what comes up next. The ‘singer’ will pay for itself! You are talented!
    Can’t wait for the on-line shop to be up running.
    You could even make some door hangers, they would be lovely, you could even personalise them with initials or name.
    Hey, how about selling ‘kits’,cut out,stuffing,instructions just ready to sew, they would sell I would purchase some ready to sew kits.
    This would save you time on the intricate sewing-up, then we could personalise them ourselves, I’d love that especially as I can’t get out to do my own shopping.
    Oooh pretty door hangers for little girls boys that smell beautiful, yes I think that you’re on to a winner there.
    Well good luck on the site getting up and running, I can’t wait!
    OdelleS x.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hello Odelle

      Thank you for all your encouragement 🙂 Danny and I were discussing kits over supper last night and we are definitely up for them. It will take some time to source the materials in bulk etc so will have to be after Christmas. At the moment I’m paying High Street prices for all my materials as it’s all at the experimental stage.

      Love the hanger idea. Brilliant.

      I must admit that I’m loving developing the crafts. All those years of Blue Peter is finally paying off 🙂

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mandi

    Thanks for the great ideas! Cottage and animal themes are perfect.

    Hi Suz

    Yes it™s great fun and has really perked me up!

    The Min Pins are not keen on the snow/cold at all. At least it™s a bit warmer today in the UK.

    Hi Paula

    Fingers crossed that I do.

    Hi Jacqui

    Danny is hoping to get the shop up this weekend. But sometimes there™s a glitch so he can only promise sometime soon.

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Thank you!

    Hello Joey

    I love the idea of scented Christmas tree decorations “ brilliant!

    Hi Catofstripes

    Somehow these just came together. We tried using stronger colours and they just didn™t work.

    Hi Lucy

    Hopefully they will be available online in the next few days. I™ll do a post when they are up.

    Hello Mrs Green

    I designed these myself and made paper patterns from my drawings. They are quite fiddly and take a while to make “ although if you do them in batches it™s faster.

    Hi Abi

    Online shop coming very soon!

    Hi Pamela

    Lavender wheat bags “ great idea. Incidentally I™ve become very interested in felting and using charity shop jumpers to make stuff. There are so many things that I want to do!

    Hello Joy

    The online shop will be permanent once it™s up. We™ve chosen to make things that will be very light and cheaper to post than the preserves. The cottage smells gorgeous at the moment.

  4. An online shop sounds fantastic. I am always so envious of those lucky passers by who wander past your home and buy from the stall. New we can wander past your online shop! :0)
    Will it be a long term thing or is it just for Christmas?

    J x

  5. The birds – and the hearts – look great. What about lavender wheat bags? Very quick and simple and you could use up your off cut strips to make patchwork bags. You can buy pure wool jumpers at charity shops (but not machine washable ones) to felt and make egg and tea cosies. Very easy, just sew them on the right side and no edges to finish as felt doesn’t fray. Sometimes the jumpers even come ready felted!

  6. alisonb43

    Well done Fiona, you have a natural talent – another one!! These are really lovely. I guess that you will be growing your own lavender for next year? I look forward to your next creations. Thank you for your blog – I (and I am sure, many others) really enjoy reading of your exploits.

  7. Hi Fiona,
    The birds are beautiful, please get the online shop up & going so I can buy a whole flock of them! Ax

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