The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Here’s a sneak preview of some exciting new gifts for The Cottage Smallholder shop!


Goldfish in water hand painted silk lavender bag

Goldfish in water hand painted silk lavender bag

It’s been all quiet on the eastern front for far too long so I thought that I’d show you what I’ve been doing while there has been a break in blog transmission.

Actually it’s been quite noisy here with the whirr of my sewing machine. The Min Pins want to sit with me as I work but the sound drives them dotty. They also hate the foot pedal and have a tendency to take a short cut over this. Sometimes with disastrous results and always evoking a roar from me. Their response is to stare into the middle distance and refuse any attempt at peace.~

I’ve been painting on silk. It took me a while to get the hang of it but once I’d worked out how to use the gutta to stop the paints creeping across the silk I began to have a lot of fun. I used an old box type picture frame as a frame for the silk. I did invest in silk pins, which hold the silk tight and don’t damage the material.

Hand painted silk lavender bags with satin ribbons

Hand painted silk lavender bags with satin ribbons

I’ve turned some of my painted silks into lavender bags. These deluxe bags are double lined inside with plain white silk – which looks pretty and makes them even more robust. The opening at the top is tied with a satin ribbon. These bags can be hand washed and are refillable.

Each silk bag is a unique original piece of art work. Some may be similar but they are all unique.

Talking about the whir of the sewing machine, my brain has been easing noisily into gear too. “What shall I paint on the silk?”
I decided to start simply with patterns and ditched the more adventurous ideas!

Selection of cotton lavender bags

I’ve also made some snazzy refillable/washable cotton bags with double hems. All of my bags for girls can be filled with either lavender or a spiced rose mix – both of these repel moths.

Last year the surprise success was the men’s shirt sachets. These hold a mix of fragrant anti moth herbs, spices and flowers. They smell gorgeous and The Chicken Lady’s husband S tells me that the scent has not faded in his chest of drawers since last Christmas. Last year this special mix was only available in organza bags. This year I have made small refillable pockets in gingham – these are a deep pillowcase design, have double hems and a neat button closure. Very robust and masculine.

These new designs are made to last for years and we will be offering refills in our online shop. All my lavender and spice mixes have been fixed with calamus root soaked in essential oils so that the scent will last for as long as possible. If the bags are placed in a confined space such as a wardrobe, airing cupboard or drawer, the scent will last for even longer.

The fantasy bird lavender bags, gingham hearts and organza filled bags that sold so well last year are also still available in my online shop. These new products will be available through my online shop by tomorrow evening – Danny is Master of the Emporium and he has gone to bed early having got up at 2.30 am to complete a task for work.

Meanwhile my sewing machine continues to whirr away, building up stocks. Danny is cooking supper every evening. And even doing all the washing up too.  Maybe if I keep on making things he will forget who used to do that and assume it is his regular duty.

We live in hope! That’s me and the Min Pins – more time to snuggle up together on the sofa under the rugs can only be a good thing.

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  1. Magic Cochin

    Good luck with the stall tomorrow 🙂
    Your latest bags are so pretty… they should get snapped up for Christmas stockings.


  2. Just a quickie suggestion for this year, have you got any holly or rose hips in the garden and have you tried dryinh them what colour do they end up? I have spotted some really ‘shabby chic’ wire hearts treaded completely with dried red berries or cranberrys with a ribbon bow attached to the top to hang on xmas tree, just a thought very easy and profitable I would think especially if the berries are free, you’d only need craft wire. bags are brill btw x

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Mandy

      I’ve been thinking about you a lot. Did you move eventually? How are you finding the mindshift? It took me years to adjust..

      Thanks for the ideas. Well worth pursuing. I have rose hips and holly – watch this space 🙂

  3. Wow, Fiona.. the silk bags are just so pretty. Your really are a very talented lady!…. and so very lovely of you to acknowlege D’s part in all this. What a fantastic partnership you both are. x

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Joey

      Thank you. I’ve whispered your compliments into D’s sleeping ear! And I might repeat them in the morning if he brings me tea!

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