Thursday, 31 July 2008

Cake Tins filled with Felt (C365, day 325)

For my birthday this year, I asked for some lovely cake tins from the yummy range Ella Doran designed for John Lewis. Cake tins with lots of tiny teacups on them? How could I resist? At the moment though they're not being used for cake (or even biscuits) but instead are helping me in my quest to keep my ever growing stash of felt creations under control...
... that's the large size, filled with things "ready to photograph" (photographing things being one of my crafty tasks yesterday, along with finishing off a few odds and ends of sewing). The medium size is currently "photographed and ready to list" and then the small one contains all the designs that I'm about to run out of & need to restock asap (this tin is far too full for my liking at the moment!).

I'm off to do a bit of restocking now, actually, but first a couple of quick shout-outs. A big thankyou! to the lovely Jenny who gave me an Inspiring Blog award this week (*blushes*), and thankyous also to Tumus and GirlIndustries for snapping screenshots of my green circles artwork on the Etsy front page today. Tumus also pointed me in the direction of a handy new tool - a fully searchable group on Flickr for Etsy front pages. The FP changes so quickly these days it's easier than ever to miss them so it's great to have a resource like that available - and if nothing else, the front pages are a lovely way to browse the delights of Etsy: such pretty themes! I always go to my own Etsy shop via the front page instead of direct to my own shop, as I find a lot of new favourite sellers that way.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Christmas in July?

Yesterday I got a rush-job custom order for some ivory poppy bracelets, so starting those was top priority last night...
... but as you can see, I also started a couple of other things too! The bracelets turned out really nice (and got posted in such a rush that I didn't even get a chance to take a picture of them, oops), a much softer look than my white poppies. As for the other stuff... the pink and yellow is the start of a new pincushion design that I've been wanting to try for just ages (no prizes for guessing what it will be!) and the ginger is my first bit of Christmas sewing.

- Well, technically I think the robins were the first bit (see them here and their original sketches here, from many months earlier) but shhh no-one will know -

Again, no prizes for guessing what the gingerbread-coloured felt is meant to be! It does feel a bit weird working on Christmas in July (especially during a heatwave) but I did feel very underprepared for the "holiday season" last year and I think I only started to get ideas for Christmas-themed items at the end of November. I'd like to have a nice little "collection" of designs ready for this year, stuff that looks nice together and will be deserving of its own little section in my shop come wintertime. As with many (most? of my schemes, this may well never happen but hopefully I will be a little more prepared than last time round!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I Made Tea (but nothing crafty)

I didn't make a single crafty thing yesterday: another day of my 365 missed! Bah. I did place an order for some felt that arrived this morning, meaning the mini packs are back in stock with two yummy new colours that I'm calling slate and moss green...
... but really I spent my whole day being a bit stressed and faffing about on the internet.

Not time totally wasted though as I got a chance to catch up with lots of my favourite blogs and I discovered the most utterly charming little webpage (nice enough in itself but also all about tea: hurrah!). It reminded me somehow of Miranda July's website written on a fridge which turns out to have been sweetly updated since I last saw it (lovely). Stuff like that makes me grin from ear to ear.

Back tomorrow with some actual, you know, crafting.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Feeling Frazzled, plus: a Fire

Today I have been sitting open-jawed and staring at images of the fire ravaging the pier at Weston-super-Mare. Just awful. This time last year (literally a year ago this week) here in Gloucestershire we were in the midst of serious flooding, power cuts, and 10 days without running water that had a huge impact on our local economy (tourism in particular) & I really feel for the business owners in Weston. The boyfriend and I had been thinking about a trip to the English seaside this summer anyway, so a visit there may be in order later in the summer...

Aside from thinking about fires and flooding, I've also been feeling a bit frazzled today thanks to not sleeping very well (seagulls having a party on our roof last night), getting up early (working a different shift today) and the crazy weather. Most of the day it was roasting hot - gorgeously, luxuriously, meltingly hot - and then this afternoon the heavens opened and we had a proper summer rainstorm, with thunder aplenty.

Yesterday though I was quite efficient: tidying up lots of stuff, making lots of lists, and beading lots and lots of poppies ready to make hairbands like this one In other news, I recently found the most fantastic poster for the days you just don't feel like keeping calm and carrying on:
Entitled "Keep Calm My Butt", these posters are the creation of Etsy seller Pearliemae. The Keep Calm phenomenon is an interesting one, I do love the original poster design dearly but it has become such a decorating cliche - especially now you can buy them all over Etsy and the rest of the internet and in colours to match any decor scheme, and attached to t-shirts, bags, mugs, hats, etc. Part of me was clearly longing for a poster commanding me to "panic and run away" so Perliemae's poster really made me smile. She's even got those modern ElleDecor-ish colours spot on. I think they'd make for a fab notecard set...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Odd and Ends

I hoard nice-looking pieces of paper. Paper with nice patterns, shiny paper, scraps of wrapping paper... I just can't throw it away! I keep it "just in case" and love spending afternoons cutting and sticking and making use of it. So I very happily spent yesterday evening cutting up lots of papery odds and ends for making more mini thankyous, including these pieces cut from wallpaper samples:
EDIT: this is the sort of thing I was making - just simple little thankyou notes to include with my orders.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Packaging and Parcels (C365, days 321&322)

Apologies for the lack of a blog post yesterday - I was planning a quiet evening of emails and blogging and other internet-y things in the evening but the boyfriend reminded me we had people coming round to dinner! Oops :)

The day before, I'd spent my evening cutting out some pictures to use for making thankyou notes (to send out with my shop orders) - this lot are taken from a 1950s childrens book, some seriously cute pictures!
Then before I was reminded about dinner, yesterday afternoon I devoted myself to packing up some orders:
(The silver packets are felt bundles wrapped in tissue paper, in case you wondered!). My week doesn't have enough of a pattern to it to have fixed shipping days, so I end up doing a bit of packaging here and a bit of posting there but I am becoming increasingly organised with my shipping system. Over the past year I have turned into a serious "postal science" nerd, boring everyone with the correct way to address mail, "interesting" (to no-one but me) facts about customs regulations, and learning exactly the right time to go to the Post Office to avoid queues (not foolproof but spot on 90% of the time).

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Argh!

This afternoon when I got back from work, I took about 200 photos and then sat down to drink a nice cup of tea and edit them all ready for use in my listings... "That's weird", I thought. "Why hasn't the camera focused properly in these?" After investigating I discovered a huge smudge on the lens! Argh! About 190 of the pictures had to be deleted straight away and now the light has gone. I was being so efficient (for once) and I have been foiled! Most annoying.

Some of the pics I have been able to salvage are some I took of my necklaces modelled, like these:Eventually I'd like to have shots of all my accessories (hairbands, brooches, necklaces) modelled by someone, they're so much nicer to look at than endless pictures of my hand! With the necklaces in particular I also think it's really useful to see what they look like on - they can look so different from when they lie flat - and they work very well for in instant idea of scale.

Before I go off and kick something in frustration at the smudging, here's last night's crafting 365 pic: slightly out of focus poppies...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Time Out (C365, days 313 to 319)

I don't like to go on about it, because it's really rather dull but I'm often not very well. After long periods of ill health in the past, I'm gradually starting to get better but it's a long process with many a frustrating stumble backwards and every so often I have to just drop what I'm doing and get some serious rest: which is what happened last week!

Luckily for me, there's always something crafty I can be working on even when I'm ill (in fact being ill and not able to get a "proper job" was what started me building up a crafty business in the first place). So, as well as working my way through a whole box set of Doctor Who (courtesy of my lovely boyfriend) here's what I spent last week working on:A big batch of bluetit brooches almost finished and an assortment of poppies that I can attack with seed beads one afternoon in the near future, and turn into brooches, bracelets, necklaces and hairbands. Not much, but still something! I might have to sew really simple things, or sew them really slowly, but I'm still actively making stuff and it's always awesome to have something positive and productive to show from otherwise "lost" days. I like to think I am crafting myself better :)

In other news, I've finally started taking photos of all the new stuff I made a few weeks ago - it will all get listed soon, I swear! Here are a couple of the items "coming soon" - an oak leaf hairband and an abstract hairband that a Flickr friend described as "a tiny hat" which I love. Who needs fascinators when you can have a tiny hat?

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Back Tomorrow

Some of you may have noticed I've been missing from the blog universe for a few days. I've been a bit ill, and in order to get better quicker I have been neglecting my blog, my emails, all kinds of work and hiding in my house doing nothing to get some proper rest. I'm feeling better now, so I'll be taking some pics of my invalid craftiness and doing a proper blog update tomorrow... see you soon! xxx

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Remembering Things

I am very forgetful. Take pictures, edit them, Flickr them, blog them - it is less of a surprise when I forget these, much more surprising when I actually remember! Yesterday is a good example: I remembered the first three but fell at the last (blog-shaped) hurdle.

Here's the forgotten 365 pic, full of exciting new things:
I had a nice little session going through my piles of sketches, testing out some ideas. They need a bit of reworking (different colours or detailing) but I'm generally quite happy with them for some first attempts. The little tree came directly out of my sewing session, as I liked the look of the leafy branch so much that I couldn't resist trying a whole little tree. Here's a better picture of it:
Then last night it was back to making batches, of moustaches this time. I do love my moustaches (they just come to life when people try them on) but gosh they are made with such dull colours. I do love a nice bit of rainbow colour therapy when I'm sewing (pink! turquoise! orange! green! etc) and brown, grey and beige just aren't in the same league. Great telly to watch while sewing though - BBC3 are repeating the whole of this season of Doctor Who! Excellent nerdish treats.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Lovely Features

Last night I started work on some more bird masks...
I've been finishing them today, and pottering about the house feeling a bit stuck indoors as we've had a workman in (sent by the landlord to fill in a hole in the wall - yes, really). I have been greatly cheered up though by a couple of lovely features. First up, my tea addict brooch got a kind mention by Anna, and then the sweet people at Folksy have made me one of their featured sellers! They have three sellers featured at the moment (myself, spugmeistress and sally) , and we rotate at random on their homepage and also at the side of some pages, tis very interesting (well, interesting to me at any rate!). They also included my violets brooch as one of their "top picks": The site is still only teeny tiny, but I'm still dead chuffed to have been picked. Folksy is awesome. Spread the word!

Also pretty awesome, did you see the new Dawanda widget I put up over there? ---> Fancy, fancy pants.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Teeny Piles of Felt (C365, day 309)

Today we are cleaning the house. My life is very glamorous.

So, quickly, here's yesterday's crafty snap:... as you may guess, I've been cutting out pieces to make cherry blossoms. I didn't have much time to be crafty yesterday, but a little bit of prep work never hurt: it's great to have lots of pieces all cut out and ready to sew.

In other news, I hit 1000 items sold over in my Etsy shop yesterday! Very exciting stuff. Huge thanks to everyone who's bought stuff from me to make that number happen & to everyone who has sent messages of congratulations. I know it's only a number, but I feel very loved nevertheless.

Still exciting, but very different: I'll soon have a little shop set up with my wares for sale in good old British pounds, hurrah! I'll add a proper sidebar link to it when it's looking more presentable (it's a bit empty at the moment) but you can take a peek here if you like. The host site - Folksy - just went live last week. They're in beta (the testing phase) at the moment, prior to a proper launch "later this summer", but it's already looking very user-friendly and generally very promising. I do love Etsy (and am increasingly smitten by the charms of Dawanda) but it's fab to have something UK-based that looks so good!

PS here's a better (much less blurry) picture of all those flowers in my hair (snapped by the lovely Esther - cheers love!) :

Saturday, 12 July 2008

How To: Felt Flower Hairpins

Yesterday (day 308) my crafty task was making lots of felt flower hairpins ready for our evening out. I was wearing a flame red dress with a floral print and wanted something really bold for my hair to match it... so I thought, why not make something out of felt? Here's the finished product, stuck fairly at random into a bun:[You can see a better picture here!] I think they looked pretty effective, and they'd work really well pinned into a looser hairstyle too. They're a very quick project, and very affordable for the amount of impact you get. To make your own, you'll need:
- a couple of sheets of felt to match your outfit (I used two 9x9 inch squares of red wool-mix felt, but obviously you'll need more or less felt depending how many flowers you want to make)
- a small piece of contrasting felt to use as the centres of the flowers (I used brown to match my dress & for a dark poppy-ish look)
- sewing thread to match the flower centres (matching thread means you can be as messy as you like with your sewing and it won't show!)
- a pack of kirbygrip hairpins
- a sewing needle and some scissors, and some pins and paper for pattern-making

You'll be making two types of flowers - large layered ones (for lots of impact) and small ones to add a bit of extra detail and fill in awkward spaces. You can make as many of each as you like.To make the large flowers, you'll need three layers of your main felt. I cut all my flowers out freehand in a bit of a rush, but if you want to make a pattern you can. The back layer will be the largest (seven petals) the middle layer slightly smaller (six petals) and the front layer smaller still (five petals) so you can offset the petals for a great layered effect. Draw all three together like this, then trace over each shape and cut it out and there you have your main pattern:
Pin the pattern pieces to your felt and get cutting! Now you need the centre of your flower. For this, cut out a circle of your contrasting colour (you can draw round something circular and make a pattern if you like, or cut freehand) and then cut a series of small triangles out of it, like this:
Put all four pieces together so the flower is how you want it, and sew them together right in the centre, starting and finishing on the back of your flower so you can hide your knots and finishing off. I used about 8 stitches to hold each flower together - it doesn't take much as the felt is so light.Then get your hairgrip, lay it on the back of the flower and sew it on tightly. The joy of this is that the back will always be hidden against your hair so you can be as messy as you like. You might want to experiment with the angle of the hairgrip - mine were destined to be stuck in a bun so it didn't matter, but if you're clipping the flowers flat into your hair you'll need the clips to be the right way up, etc.
Then: that's it! Finished. You can make as many flowers as you like, and the small / single layered flowers are made in the same way just, you know, only using one small flower shape.If any of that made no sense, please do let me know by leaving a comment. This is my very first how to and very hastily written! :)

Anyone is very welcome to make as many of these flowers as they like, but please don't sell them (this tutorial is NOT for commercial use) or reproduce my tutorial anywhere without my permission. If you give it a mention, please do link back to the original page & if you make the flowers please let me know - I'd love to hear how it went & would adore to see pictures!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Yesterday it was so dark and so wet and so miserable. I did my best to fight it with sunny yellow felt (preparing to make sunflowers) but it continued to rain...Today though there has been at least a small bit of sunshine. And my swap partner got her parcel, hurrah! Here's what I sent - a little cherry blossom trio brooch:

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Social Sewing and Secret Swaps (C365/305)

Last night we went round to a neighbour's house for drinks and a nice friendly chitchat, so I took a little sewing kit with me and worked on some bluetits while we nattered...
It is still raining a lot here, very miserable. Lovely cheerful post this morning though: my secret swap parcel arrived! A gorgeous tea-cosy and terribly Cath Kidston pot holder from MadebyCara:Lushness. Check out the sweet tag that was attached to the wrapping, too - a little bundle of sweet supplies and a very friendly note (though my name's not actually Lucy, hehe), those buttons match the spotty fabric so well:
Thanks so much to Cara and also to ColdCell for organising the swapping! I just hope my secret swap partner likes what I've sent! *crosses fingers*

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Busy Behind the Scenes

I have been busy doing very dull admin-y things, sending emails, filing, tidying up, rearranging stock, planning things, etc and neglecting to blog! I have been sewing things too, and tinkering about with my plants a little. Here's one of my current faves - a tiny home grown jade plant growing in a teacup I inherited from my grandmother:

Monday, 7 July 2008

Making Things Grow

Last night's crafting is mostly a secret cos I made my secret swap item - very late, as the swap was supposed to happen at the end of June! Oops. I am a very bad swapper, but hopefully my secret swap partner will forgive me...

I also cut out a few bits and pieces ready for sewing them today, including pieces to make Bluetits:
In other news, I have been getting seriously overexcited today having spotted my very first courgette growing out on the balcony:
The whole balcony is looking pretty lush at the moment, it's rather pleasing, and I've even managed to grow some more lupins which was a total surprise. I tried to grow some from seed last year, but next door's cat sat on the seedlings and killed them all (I have never seen a cat look so smug). I re-used the soil to plant up spring bulbs and was very pleasantly surprised to see the lupins doing their best to grow again!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

An English Summer

It is absolutely chucking it down with rain outside (as it has been all weekend) and it's making me very glad to be stuck indoors with lots of sewing to do! Not great weather to take photos in, but luckily it was quite sunny for an hour or two yesterday morning and I managed to take a few product shots and also (finally) get some pictures taken of my beard disguises being modelled (this is what happens to you if you owe me a favour...) :
It was actually so sunny outside that when I tried to take pics of myself modelling one of the necklaces I made with all those circles (well half of them anyway) I ended up scowling into the sun rather too much (less "fierce" and more "slightly frightening) so a dark and grainy indoor shot will have to do: In half decent light, this is the full necklace:
The black cord is elastic, to make it easy to take on and off. I rather like the collar effect - it's not shown off very well on my t-shirt but it would look ace with something with a scooped neckline. And then this is the necklace I made with the rest of the circles - the've been sewn onto a long loop of ribbon, very dangly and fun: The observant amongst you will notice that I skipped a day's blogging (sorry about that). I was going to write about those necklaces yesterday evening but we went to a BBQ instead (an indoor one, obviously, given the rain!) and then afterwards I watched Doctor Who and did some sewing and forgot all about it (oops). I didn't actually get that much sewn during Doctor Who because I was a bit absorbed in the excitement of the finale (literally can't wait for the Christmas episode now...) but I did manage to get a few teacup brooches sewn and to try them out in blue which I've wanted to test out for aaages and just not got round to it...

Friday, 4 July 2008

Rainbow Circles (C365, 300)

Hurrah for hitting day 300 of my Crafting 365 project! It's so awesome to think I've spent 300 days crafting (and most of those blogging about it, too). I know I've fallen off the crafty wagon a couple of times & I've had a few enforced absences from this blogging lark (no internet, no camera, etc) but boy does it feel good to hit that big number.

My task for day 300? Sleepily cutting out lots of circles which are destined to be muddled up and sewn into one big circle-y necklace:
Another big number is in sight: I'm only 12 items away from 1000 items sold in my little Etsy store. I am genuinely planning a small party for when this occurs, and the buyer of my lucky 1000th item will be getting a whole parcel of presents in celebration. Big numbers always make me smile (Flickr stats and shop hearts and blog views and things like that really help me build up confidence in my work) but hitting 4 digits? That will be pretty special.

(Someone hurry up and buy 12 things already! Haha)

In other news: I have finally started taking proper product shots of all the new items I've been building up over the past few weeks... Expect lots of shop updates over the weekend. I may go a bit goggle-eyed staring at the computer screen for so long, but I am itching to get those babies listed... Here's another shot of things to come - lots of yummy fat pincushions:
Oh, and check out the awesome sewing scissors my mother-in-law bought for me in Paris: scissors in the shape of a bird! Fantastic stuff:

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