A couple more birthday present shoe bags


Children’s shoe bags (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

There’s little as disruptive to comfortable domestic life as having a child with the common cold. After a couple of weeks of intermittent coughing and snotty noses the days are now manageable but the nights are far from easy, especially with the child of 6 months who is probably having her first encounter with one of life’s most familiar ailments. The adults are either exhausted or have the cold themselves, or in the case of the nanny/aunt are both exhausted and infected.

Linen shoe bag with felt letters and dinosaurs

Last night we went into special measures: the paediatric humidifier, thoroughly cleaned and checked was set up near the cot and some of us did a bit of a bed swop. I moved into grandchild No 1’s bed to tend to grandchild No 2 should she wake up. Grandson No 1 got to sleep with his mother in her bed, while his father, racked with coughs and with little functioning voice remaining gallantly departed to the bed in the study. The aunt/nanny remained in her own room 3 floors below.

Felt dinosaur on shoe bag

Wonderfully we all had a good night. The humidifier performed its usual winter function surprisingly well (why hadn’t we thought about it before?) and with the smallest person sleeping well, so did everyone else. Bliss. It seems almost alchemical that a continuous stream of cool mist can have such an impact on what often seems an intractable and never ending problem. Life may now return to normal.

Felt name and diosaurs on shoe bag

It is unusual for me that a day goes by without a needle of some sort in my hands but the hands have been needed for holding other things and the knitting I came with lies unopened in its bag. Fortunately I had finished another couple of shoe bag birthday presents, so I still have something to show. We have already heard positive feedback from one recipient’s mother so  I am getting more confident that these are good presents. (I’m not much one for celebrity endorsements but this is  Claudia Winkleman in last week’s Sunday Times Style magazine  “I am here to put forward the very best present, the one that is a total delight to give. It’s simple really; it can be actually anything (and I do mean anything) with the recipient’s name on it. There is nothing more joyful than opening something that someone has thought about and hasn’t come from the present cupboard.”) So that’s alright then!

Shoe bag with felt letters and embroidered flowers and silk leaves (embroidered by Mary Addison)

However, the simple shoe bag per gift is not without its problems. Those for little boys require more thought and planning, though less execution. The name itself is perhaps not quite enough. Stars and bugs I’ve used already (though I’m now quite excited about bugs and would like to do more); this time all I could think of by way of decoration was dinosaurs. To be fair, once you’ve had the idea execution is very simple: name and motif in felt, double sided vilene and reinforcing slip stitches round the edges. (Double sided vilene is useful but will only hold felt to base material for long enough to sew it, though it does make the letters and motifs hold firm. )

Felt name with felt flowers and silk leaves embroidered on shoe bag

Shoe bags for little girls are incredibly easy and jolly labour intensive but great fun to do. Flowers always go well with names and though the bag for Uzi had generic flowers, with Tate’s I couldn’t resist a blood red hellebore. Three of the five bags were made from ticking which is a great material for a shoe bag (and for embroidery) and linen worked well with the blue striped bag in this post. Tate’s bag was a thinner cotton which I lined with an old Cath Kidston print of tiny roses to soften the effect of such deep red flowers.

Embroidered felt flower from shoe bag (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Let’s get this out of the way – if I had known the girls preferred dinosaurs and bugs and the boys were mad about flowers I would have happily accommodated their taste.  My daughters were given toy cars as children and they mostly remained in their packaging, while my son would go to sleep on a bed of assorted vehicles completely serene and comfortable. He was also quite happy to pick up the girls’ dolls though I wouldn’t say he played particularly meaningfully with them. When he was small we did occasionally suggest he might like to go to ballet with the girls but this never happened. Cricket and rugby were his sports. Daughter No 1 went for a few rugby sessions at Richmond Rugby Club but I think having her hand stamped on brought her rugby career to a swift conclusion; she later rowed for Cambridge and her sisters did a bit of rowing too. No one was prevented from doing anything they didn’t want to….

I have still to make myself some shoe bags, which is ironic really as I think I actually need some which I doubt the 4 year olds do!

For previously made embroidered shoe bags see here.



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  1. Posted November 25, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    The dinosaurs do have relatively simple outlines compared with the flowers. At least with doing both you get a change of pace occasionally!

    What will you do for your own shoe bags?

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      Oh I doubt I shall embroider anything on mine – purely functional!

  2. Ros
    Posted November 25, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    For small boys, you could also try: cars, tractors, bat and ball, planets, boats, octopuses and other wiggly creatures.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

      I know, I just can’t get so very excited about some of the things you list. I will try to summon up enthusiasm for such things should I need to do more!

  3. Amara Bray
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I was going to make the suggestion above. I like that your kids all had choices. Sometimes we unthinkingly gender stereotype, but we always try to open everything up to both my boys and girls.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      I don’t like putting limits on people and regard someone as saying, for example’ “I’m no good at maths” as a challenge to show they could well be the opposite – should they want to. My son is a case in point (success down entirely to him; I had nothing to do with it). He went to university to study engineering several years after most of his age, had to do Maths A-Level in the year before he went and found some of the Maths course very difficult. But he was motivated, worked very hard, got Firsts every year and in the end really enjoyed pure maths in particular. All my children have surprised me in similar ways and it seems to me that self motivation is the key and the best parents can do is stand to one side and let them have a go with no fear that failure is the end of the road.

  4. Nella Logan
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Such wise words Mary. Thanks for sharing the shoebag stories; as always beautiful needlework!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Nella, glad you enjoyed the shoebags.

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