Saturday, 23 July 2016

Four Fun Felt Projects for Mollie Makes #69

I got an exciting bit of post this week - a copy of this month's Mollie Makes magazine.

Why am I so excited about the arrival of this magazine, you ask?

Well, a familiar face makes an appearance this issue...


... yup, you guessed it, it's me! Yay! :)

The cover gift that comes free with Mollie Makes #69 is a kit for making a fabulous felt pom pom necklace, designed by Yoko Minemura Vega.

You also get a little booklet that contains three bonus projects: alternative ideas for using the materials in the kit... and those three projects were designed by me! (Double yay!)


I had loads of fun making these projects a few months ago, it's so nice seeing them styled so gorgeously by the Mollie Makes team.

You can choose from three home decor projects. A felt bouquet...


... a mini mobile...


... or a Scandi-inspired cushion.

I also designed a fourth project - a scalloped necklace. The necklace didn't fit in the printed booklet, so the lovely folks at Mollie Makes have shared it as a free project over on their blog. (Triple yay!).

Issue 69 of Mollie Makes is out now in the UK and is available in all good newsagents, supermarkets and independent craft shops, or from the official online store.         

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A Trip to Seville: The Alcázar

My mum and I spent a few days in Spain a couple of years ago, exploring the city of Seville. I was slightly overwhelmed by how beautiful the city was and took a lot of photos. I finally edited them a few months ago (to make a photo book for my mum) and am slowly blogging about all the wonderful stuff we saw on our trip.

Today I'm sharing some photos from our visit to the Real Alcázar - a palace that's a World Heritage Site but still in use today by the Spanish royal family.

Parts of the palace were built in the 1300s, and it's been added to over the centuries. Between the gorgeous buildings and courtyards of the palace itself and the extensive gardens there is so much to see!

This is one of those places where you keep saying "wow" under your breath every time you enter a room, or turn a corner. The palace is filled with beautiful detail...

... and the gardens overflow with lush greenery.

If you're a Game of Thrones fan, you might recognise the Alcázar as one of the locations used in one of the recent series!

You can see why they chose it, can't you? It's like something straight out of a storybook.

It was really wonderful exploring the rooms, courtyards and gardens of the Alcázar and imagining all the people that have lived in and visited this special place over the centuries.

My photos hardly captured how gorgeous it was, and just looking at them again is making me want to book another flight to Seville.

Want to read more about my trip to Seville? Check out my posts about visiting the Metropol Parasol (aka "the mushrooms") and the Plaza de España.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

How To: Sew Cute Felt Houses

Today I'm sharing a tutorial for making some colourful felt houses. These are so much fun to sew - stitch one house or make a whole felt village to decorate a shelf!

 felt houses

This project originally appeared in docrafts Creativity magazine last summer, and was made using supplies from the docrafts range including lots of cute mini pompoms. Be warned: making these made me want to sew mini pompoms on everything.

I mixed and matched my chosen felt colours across all five houses to make a co-ordinating set. I made my houses with plain white felt at the back as they were designed to be propped up on a shelf so the backs aren't visible, but if you want you can use the same felt colour(s) as the front and add a roof at the back as well.

One of these houses would make a lovely house warming gift - why not personalise it by embroidering your friend's new house number on the door?

 felt houses 

You will need:

- the templates provided at the bottom of this post
- craft felt in bright colours
- white felt (for windows and the back of the houses)
- green felt for leaves, bushes and trees
- sewing thread to match your chosen felt colours
- co-ordinating embroidery thread (floss)
- co-ordinating embellishments: mini pompoms, mini buttons, ribbon, etc
- sewing needle and pins
- sewing scissors
- polyester stuffing

To make each house:

1. Use the templates provided to cut one bright house shape and a contrasting bright roof and door shape. Also cut some white windows and a white house shape.

2. Sew on the roof, door and windows. Use running stitch and matching sewing thread, leaving any outer edges unstitched (these will be sewn later).

3. Cut a length of embroidery thread to match the roof and separate half the strands. Backstitch the window frames, sewing two lines in a cross shape.

4. Sew a door handle to each door - a mini pompom or a mini polka dot button.

5. Add some greenery! Use the templates provided to cut out bushes, flowers and leaves or a tree and plant pot as required. Sew a small stitch in the centre of each flower and sew a line of backstitch along the middle of each leaf. Sew the bushes, plant pot and tree with running stitch.

6. Use long single stitches for the flower stalks and sew several stitches clustered together for the thicker tree trunks. Then decorate the plants with pompoms, buttons and embroidery.

To sew the flowers, sew single stitches of embroidery thread radiating from the centre of the felt circle, then add a button or pompom in the centre.

To add flowers on the bushes, sew star shapes of four overlapping stitches.

felt houses

7. Embellish the roofs with embroidery, buttons, pompoms or ribbon.

To add ribbon stripes, cut ribbon pieces slightly wider than the roof then sew them in place with whip stitch or running stitch, folding the ends over.

8. Place the front and back of each house together. Use half strands of white embroidery thread and blanket stitch to sew them together, leaving a gap for stuffing. Lightly stuff with toy stuffing then sew up the gap.

Felt houses

This tutorial is for personal use only: you can use it to stitch as many felt houses as you want for yourself or as gifts, but please don't make any for sale. You may borrow a photo or two if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire post or share the patterns themselves on your site. Thanks!

Want some more free felt craft projects? Check out my tutorial archive.

Follow the links below to view each template sheet, make sure you're viewing it full size then print it at 100%.

House A plus greenery for all houses - click here for the template sheet.

felt house a

House B plus windows and doors for all houses - click here for the template sheet.

felt house b

House C - click here for the template sheet.

felt house c

House D - click here for the template sheet.

felt house d

House E - click here for the template sheet.

felt house e

Felt houses sewing tutorial

Sunday, 17 July 2016

June in Pictures: Blanket Squares, Summer Sunshine, Packing Parcels, and Playing with Paint

How is it halfway through July already?? Eek!

I'd better blog about my June Instagram pics before we blink and it's August :)

At the start of June (when it was really rather chilly) I was spending lots of my evenings working on my mini patchwork squares blanket. Whenever I have any double-knit acrylic yarn left over from other projects, I use it to knit mini moss stitch squares (just 10 stitches across) to add to the blanket.

Once I've knitted the leftover yarn into squares, I sew them into blocks (one colour per block). I've been sticking to the same few shapes so the blanket is random but cohesive. This is a slow, labour-intensive process but a really relaxing one!

Once I've sewn the squares into the various shapes, it's time to find a space for them on the blanket. (Sometimes I lay the blanket out before sewing the shapes together so I can sew the squares into the perfect shape to fit a gap but not this time). I'm trying to get a nice mix of colours and shapes across the blanket - so, again, this is a controlled randomness.

As I add the squares, I mark them on the matching chart so I can track my progress. I'm up to 514 squares so far... 386 still to go! 

The finished blanket will have a sweep of colour down the middle and the rest will be white, so I've also been knitting lots of little white squares behind the scenes. Sadly, white squares do not make for very exciting photographs.

All those little squares take a long time to stitch together, and there are a lot of yarn ends to weave in. Every time I share pics of this project there's always someone who recoils in horror at the thought of all that boring stitching but honestly I find it very relaxing and almost meditative. This is definitely not a project I'd recommend embarking on if you can't bear weaving in ends!

It was my birthday at the beginning of the month (yay!), and I was gifted some excellent things including Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton and a book & comic by the always awesome John Allison.

Summer finally decided to show up, so I spent my lunch-breaks reading in the garden - enjoying the sunshine, the flowers and the chirping of birds and buzzing of bees.

What a contrast to later in the month when we had days of sudden thunder and rainstorms! Ah, England I love you but your weather is not reliable.

Back on the crafty front, I made a DIY envelope from an old map. It's so easy to make your own envelopes (you can cheat and use an existing envelope as a template!) and they add some extra specialness to a bit of snail mail.


I de-stressed by spending a few hours playing with paint (I am terrible at painting but this was so much fun!).

I continued to work on my felt flowers - these are old designs I used to sell in my shop that I'm giving a new life as sewing patterns (coming to my shop later this summer!). I've been getting the designs absolutely perfect and taking lots of notes so I can write detailed step-by-step instructions.

I also had a tidy up in my studio, adding last year's magazine features to my "archive" (a fancy word for a few folders on my bookshelf). I worked on lots of fun projects in 2015 but the partridge and pear wreath I designed for Mollie Makes was probably my favourite - not least because it ended up on the cover (very exciting).

During my studio tidy I got as far as writing a list of "things to photograph!" - including these colourful finished projects - but not as far as actually taking the photos. Hopefully I will have actually ticked these things off the list by the end of July! I do so adore these bright colours.

I cleared out lots of crafty supplies and other bits and pieces and held a destash and declutter sale. It takes a long time to sort and weigh and measure and photograph everything for a sale, but it's so good to have made some more space in my studio and to have found new homes for so many things that were sitting around in my home unused and unloved.

After my sale, I had lots of parcels to post! That fab parcel tape is by Hazel Nicholls - I love using decorative tape, it's such a simple way to cheer up the packages I send.

After my destash/declutter sale, I had another sale: this time of lots of samples I'd stitched for craft books.

(The projects pictured are from: Banners, Buntings, Garlands & Pennants; Super-Cute Felt Animals; Mollie Makes Woodland Friends; Mollie Makes Weddings; Tis the Season to be Felt-y; and Craft Camp)

Again, there was lots of weighing and measuring and photographing and parcel packing... but all the work was well worth it as lots of pieces found new homes and I have lots of space for new things in my studio (hurrah!).

I also love this photo I took of samples stitched when working on my second book, Super-Cute Felt Animals. You'll find some of these projects available as free tutorials here and (almost all of) the rest in the book itself.

Finally, no Instagram round-up is complete without our sleepy cat sneaking in somewhere. How he manages to sleep upside down with one leg in the air is a mystery!

You can follow along with all my creative adventures (with the occasional cat photo!) over on Instagram. 


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