Thursday, 25 August 2016

Five Years of Super-Cute Felt

Five years ago this month, my first book - Super-Cute Felt - was published.

I can't quite believe it's been five years! How time flies when you're busy sewing lots of stuff from felt!

I'd had projects published in magazines and other craft books before... but a whole book of projects designed and stitched by me? Very exciting indeed.

Here's the first box of copies that arrived from my publisher back in 2011.

It's been thrilling spotting it in bookshops (and in the haberdashery department of one of my all time fave shops, Liberty) and an absolute joy hearing from people who have bought copies of the book and made things from it.

Since the book was published, I've written a follow up - Super-Cute Felt Animals

... and Super-Cute Felt has been translated into German, Dutch and Italian.

Here they all are on a shelf in my studio (along with other books I've contributed to - we jokingly refer to this as the ego shelf, but it makes me very happy!).

Huge thanks to everyone who's bought a copy in the past five years, or recommended it to a friend!

Super-Cute Felt is still available to buy from Amazon UK, Amazon USA and many other bookshops.  

Click here to read more about both of my books

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Take to the Sea: a Nautical Embroidery Project

I finally finished my "Take to the Sea" embroidery! Hurrah!

I had so much fun stitching this project, and I'm really pleased with the (slightly wonky) end result. Brace yourself for an avalanche of photos...

Back in early July I decided I wanted to stitch something in celebration of the late, great website The Toast - as a gift for a Toast-loving friend.

I started with a sketch: one of the unofficial mottoes of The Toast - "take to the sea" - plus some abstract waves and a little boat with a T (for Toast). I wasn't sure how I wanted to stitch it (or even what materials to use) but eventually settled on embroidery.

I traced the design in pencil onto some white fabric and stretched it in an embroidery hoop. I started with the motto, sewing the letters and the outline of the boat with backstitch and half strands of very dark blue embroidery thread (floss). I then began slowly stitching the waves.

I used half strands of blue embroidery thread for each wave, sewing curving lines of backstitch to gradually fill the space.

I started at the top of each wave and worked downwards. When I got near the bottom of a wave I'd sew the top line of the next one to make sure I could then sew right up to the new colour.

I have to admit that I got slightly addicted to working on this, and stayed up late several nights in a row working on it!

It took a lot of hours of stitching to complete all the waves, but it was such a relaxing process - and so satisfying seeing the piece develop. 

I ran out of thread a couple of times and had to stitch some of the waves in two similar shades. When this happened I made sure to make the dividing line between each block of colour a nice organic wave shape to fit in with the rest of the design.

Sadly my chosen hoop wasn't tight enough and the fabric got pulled about a bit as I stitched so the original circle shape got a bit distorted, but who cares?

Okay so the perfectionist part of me is kinda bothered by this, but for a first attempt stitching something this detailed I'm very pleased with how it turned out. And this is the joy of personal projects (as opposed to things with deadlines and paychecks) - you get the chance to experiment with new things and it doesn't matter so much if they don't turn out 100% "on brief".

Once I'd finished the waves, I used white embroidery thread to "colour in" the little boat and its sail.

This is what the back looked like when the whole piece was finished: so much thread!

After the excitement of finishing the embroidery it took me a couple of weeks to get round to tidying up the hoop, trimming the excess fabric and finishing the back neatly with a circle of felt to cover all the mess.

Here's how it looked before I packed it up and popped it in the post...

A little different to the original sketch, but close enough!

 I love the texture of all that dense stitching. Lots of work, but totally worth it. 

I kind of want to spend all my spare time embroidering things now! Mmm... embroidery...

Fancy a stitchy project of your own? Click here to find all the free embroidery patterns I've shared on my blog.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Exploring Leeds Corn Exchange

I am slooooowly getting all my photos edited from my (short but busy) visit to Leeds this spring!

Today I've got some pics of the city's Corn Exchange to are with you. The Corn Exchange is yet another of Leeds' lovely Victorian buildings... but one with a slightly unusual shape:

Not often you see a round building, is it?

Completed in 1864, the Corn Exchange was a busy trading centre for over a hundred years. Farmers and merchants gathered in the large open space to trade grains and flour, and the building also hosted farmers markets and fairs.

You can still see a trace of the building's history up on the roof.

In recent years the Corn Exchange has been restored, with sweeping staircases added to allow access to the balcony and basement levels.

Isn't this a fabulous space? Gorgeous but functional and with wonderful attention to detail (like so many Victorian buildings).

Nowadays the Corn Exchange is home to cafes and lots of little independent shops. I really enjoyed exploring them all and was very tempted by some vintage clothing but (alas!) knew there was no room in my suitcase. I shall have to remember to leave space next time I visit.

Planning a trip to Leeds? Check out my posts about the Leeds Central Library, the waterside and Royal Armouries Museum, and the city's gorgeous Victorian shopping arcades.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Special Offer in my Etsy Shop this Week!

Every non-digital item purchased from my Etsy shop this week will ship with a surprise free gift.

You get a free gift for every item you buy, so: if you buy one thing you get one freebie; buy three things and you'll get three freebies; and so on!

This offer excludes digital items (PDF patterns) and ends at midnight UK time, Sunday 21st August.

In my shop at the moment you'll find...

Felt brooches, including an owl (£2.50), a sheepdog (£1.50) and a snail (£2).

Felt crowns (£1.50 each).

Garlands for decorating your craft studio, or for parties (from £2).

Pom Pom gift-wrapping packs (£1 each).

Destashed fabric (from £2).

Packs of postage stamps for collecting or crafting (£2.50 per pack of 100 stamps).

A floral embroidery ready for framing (£1).

And some festive felt loveliness, including a whole village of felt ornaments (£6.50) and a felt bullfinch stocking (£6.50).

Click here to visit my shop and see all the items still available! Remember, the special offer ends this Sunday at midnight (UK time).


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