Friday, 31 October 2008

A Peek into my Workbox

I've been working on lots of odds and ends this week whilst trying to take it easy...
... I've not finished all that much, but I've been cutting out bits of this and sewing bits of that and keeping myself quietly entertained in the process.

I'm also gradually trying to empty my "ready to list" box, filling up my Etsy, Folksy and DaWanda shops with lots of new things, and generally trying to get organised for the run up to Christmas: stocking up on envelopes, making sure my shops look how I want them to, etc etc.

I still have lots of things left on my 'to do' list - including posting the rest of the Christmas crafting tutorials - but I'm having to work through them a little more slowly at the moment! Please bear with me :)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

First Impressions

Yesterday I was flattered to find my items included in these two stunning treasury selections on Etsy's front page ...
(Double click on each image if you want to see it larger).

I've read a lot of divided opinion about the Etsy front page and the items chosen for it, but it's rare that I see a front page I don't find interesting and well put-together and super selections like these make for a fantastic first impression that has much more impact (I think) than the more random selections on other crafty sales sites.

DaWanda has recently changed its front page set-up and it's much improved, and though I think it's a bit busy and still lacks that POW that Etsy's often has the navigation guides are much clearer. Similarly, the navigation bits on the Folksy front page are fab, lovely and simple tabbed sections and a nice big clear search bar... but that wow factor is currently still lacking. It will be interesting to see what changes are made as the site develops!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

More Inspiration in the Post

I'm still feeling a bit poorly but luckily still getting lovely, inspiring supplies in the post to cheer me up... today the Postie brought me some of the goodies from BigFish I was drooling over last week, including these amazing felt beads:

Monday, 27 October 2008

Filing some Felt

I'm trying out a new way of storing my "in use" pile of felt pieces, filing them away by colour...
Definitely much neater than my previous solution which was just to carry them all round in an unmanageable heap!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

An Industrious Invalid

I'm a bit poorly this weekend, not properly ill (thankfully!) but generally feeling a little under the weather. Rather rubbish, especially as I've had to abandon all my plans in favour of curling up on the sofa doing some simple sewing. My lovely boyfriend went out and bought me this to keep me entertained:
Hurrah! I shall be working my way through it whilst sewing simple things from my wip box (there is always something that needs working on!) and making up some parcels of felt squares as I've almost run out.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Patterns in the Post

The lovely fabric I ordered from Summersville arrived today -- beautifully wrapped and looking even nicer in real life than in the fab product photos! Just the right size pieces for small projects or adding cute details to larger things. My brain is whirring with ideas already...

Friday, 24 October 2008

Felt Ornament How-To #3: Christmas Puddings

Today, a guide to making yummy felt Christmas Puddings!


You will need...

A sewing needle
Some pins
Brown, white, dark green and red felt + matching sewing thread
Ribbon of your choice (I used a narrow black ribbon)
Sewing/fabric scissors

1. First cut out your pattern shapes and use them to cut out one white icing shape, one red berry shape, two green holly shapes and two brown pudding shapes. Then cut a length of ribbon at least 5 inches (12 cms) long.

 

2. Fold the ribbon over to form a loop and sew it securely to one of the brown pudding pieces like this:

 

This piece will be the front of your ornament. There's no need to use brown thread to match the felt as all your stitches will be hidden.

3. Next, pin the white "icing" piece to the front of the ornament (so the ribbon ends will be on the inside) and sew it in place using white thread:

 

4. Now you need to position your holly and berries - lay them out on the ornament and rearrange them until you are happy with their position. The holly leaves should overlap slightly and meet under where the ribbon emerges from the top of the ornament. When you are happy, put the red berry to one side and stitch the holly leaves in place using dark green thread. Most of your stitches should be where the leaves overlap - these will be hidden by your berry - but you also need to sew one long stitch along each leaf to hold it in place:

 

Remember not to sew this stitch right up to the edge of the pudding as you will need to be able to fold the leaves back slightly to sew the ornament together in a moment.

5. All that remains now is to sew the pudding together and add the red berry. You can either sew the berry on and then sew the front and back pieces of the ornament together... or do it the other way round, leaving the berry until last. The latter option will leave a few red stitches showing on the back of the ornament but it makes sewing the ornament together a bit less fiddly.

Whichever way you choose, sew the berry on with a large X shape of red thread to make a nice decorative touch (make sure you place it over all your holly stitching!).

 

To sew the front and back pieces of your pudding together, first use white thread to sew around the iced section - fold the holly leaves back carefull and take care to sew over your earlier stitches to keep it neat.

 

Then finish the ornament by sewing the brown edge with matching brown thread.

 

VARIATIONS: Try adding black sequins, seed beads or maybe tiny circles of black felt to the brown pudding to represent fruit! You could also use a small red button instead of red felt as a quirky holly berry. This design would also make a fun Christmas brooch - skip the ribbon and instead sew a brooch back or safety pin to the backing piece of felt to make a sweet gift.

 

Please note: this tutorial is NOT for commercial use. You can make as many of these ornaments as you like (they make great gifts!) but please don't sell them 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 ornaments please let me know - I'd love to hear how it went & would adore to see pictures!

Double click on the image to view/print the pattern sheet full size:

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ornaments in Situ

Gosh I have been so busy today! Just time for a quick update on this post - pictures of the new and very sparkly Christmas display in the gift shop currently selling some of my ornaments:
As you can see, my robins have been joined by some of the designs I made for my blog tutorials - this is what happens when you show your blog to people!

PS the next ornament tutorial will be posted tomorrow...

PPS I will be listing some sets of these ornaments in my shops this coming week in case you want to buy some instead of making them yourself :)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Ribbony Goodness, part 2

A real treat for the eyes today... the wonderful wall of ribbon at my local cake shop.
As I mentioned yesterday this place is pretty incredible and worth a visit even if you never needed to bake a cake in your life. If you live nowhere near Gloucestershire definitely investigate your own local cake-supplies shops... you never know what crafty goodness you might find! Here are some of the yummy ribbons I couldn't resist this week:
I'm particularly loving that pink stripe and the red ribbon with the little hearts - so subtly adorable! I also treated myself to some truly lush paper cake ribbons which will make amazing additions to my gift-wrapping stash.
The fat silver trim was only 50p a metre and the very narrow ones only 20p (including that fab robins egg blue). Bargain. They will look so chic on simple brown paper parcels, very luxe and terribly on trend with that paper lace look. I'll be doing a few giftwrapping tutorials later in the year with ideas for giftwrap, tags, and parcel decoration and all this trim will definitely be making an appearance.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Ribbony Goodness

Today I have been buying ribbon. I popped to my local cake-decorating supplies shop to buy sensible ribbon supplies and came away with an assortment of fancy patterned lovelies that cried out "buy me! buy me!" despite not yet having a project assigned to them... I'll post a picture soon (it's far too dark now) and hopefully they'll inspire me to make some fun new designs! :)

Oh, and yes you did read that right: I did say cake-decorating supplies shop. My local one not only sells the most amazing array of baking paraphernalia I've ever laid eyes on but also has a whole wall of gorgeous ribbons in all imaginable colours and sizes. I take all my ribbon-requiring projects there, they have colours to match almost anything and much more choice than my small local haberdashers.

Thinking of ribbon though, I wanted to mention the lovely Etsy supplies shop BigFish whose brightly coloured selections of crafty supplies currently have me drooling and thinking of projects to justify their purchase (though, lets be honest now, I don't normally need an excuse to buy craft supplies!). Run by the creative brain behind PaperFish and SnowFish- a fellow felt crafter and kindred spirit as we both just adore colour! - BigFish is jam packed with yumminess like these lush spotty and stripey ribbons...
... cute gingham buttons...
... funky fairtrade felt balls ...
... and generally more brightly coloured crafting goodness than you can shake a stick at!If you spot some of her supplies turning up in my own items in future do not be surprised - those felt balls in particular are calling out to me rather loudly!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Felt Ornament How-To # 2: Baubles


 
Thanks to the guys at WhipUp for giving my first ornament tutorial a mention! & of course hello to anyone discovering my blog from there :)

Today's how-to is for a super-simple design with almost endless possibilities! It's so simple, you don't even need a pattern but you will need...

A sewing needle
Some pins
Assorted colours of felt (though you can get away with 1 colour)
Matching sewing thread
Sewing/fabric scissors
A piece of paper, a pencil, and something circular to draw round
Ribbon, sequins, buttons, ricrac, any decorative odds and ends you can lay your hands on!

1. First up you need to make your basic bauble pattern. To do this find something circular, eg a drinking glass, and draw round it. Then at the top of the circle draw a rectangle with a semicircle on top of it, like this:

 

(you can leave off the semicircle if you prefer). Cut these out and you're ready to go! You can easily make an assortment of different sized patterns for variety or to suit different locations. We only ever have a tiny Christmas tree so our ornaments have to be small, but the bigger your bauble the more decoration you can put on them. Pin your pattern to your choice of felt and cut out two pieces (a front and a back) for each bauble:
 

2. Choose a piece of ribbon to be the hanging loop for your ornament. The type of ribbon you choose will depend on the size of your bauble, but you need it to be at least 5 inches (12 cms) long. I chose a narrow red ribbon for my small black bauble (to stand out clearly from the black) and used a bit of sparkly silver ribbon left over from some parcel-wrapping for my large burgundy bauble. Fold your ribbon over to form a loop and sew the two cut ends to the inside of one of your pieces so that the ribbon seems to be emerging from the shape at the top...

 

... remember to use matching thread!

3. Now flip this piece over and you've got the front of your bauble ready to decorate (if you're worried about your stitches looking messy you can sew the ribbon to the back piece instead).

4. How you decorate it will depend on your stash of crafty supplies and the size of the bauble you're working with but there are two basic methods to choose from.

One of the easiest (and most sparkly!) methods is to just cover the whole circle shape with sequins, either a mix or all one colour, for some serious Christmas bling. Use three stitches to secure each sequin - if you're using all the same colour sequins you can match your thread to them (eg I used white when sewing silver sequins), but if you're using a mixed bag try using thread that matches the felt you're sewing them to so the stitches you use become part of the decorative detail themselves. On a large bauble you could perhaps use buttons instead.

 

The second method is based on stripes. At its most basic this means sewing a small strip of ribbon or line of sequins onto a small bauble, but with a bit of imagination you can create some really fab looking designs packed with detail. You can use anything to make your stripes - ribbons, ricrac, embroidery thread, sequins, lace, strips of patterned fabric, or even strips of coloured felt. Here's how I decorated my large bauble...

I layered two pieces of bright ribbon to create a lovely stripey effect, pinning them in place and making sure to leave enough length to tuck the ends "inside" the bauble neatly without pulling too tightly and distorting the shape. A narrow patterned ribbon on top of a wider plain one would look great!

 

I stitched them in place with matching thread, but you could try contrasting thread for a bit more detail.

 

Then I added some sequins. It's always a good idea to lay these out in a row to test how many will fit before you start sewing and discover you've run out of space! If you want to test out a complicated design of sequins, ribbons, ricrac etc remember that you have your backing bauble shape to hand: you can lay all your items out on that and remove them one at a time to sew to the real thing. Another couple of tips for sewing the sequins: just use two stitches, so the stitches themselves form a line (this looks lovely and neat) and always start with the middle sequin to get in nicely centred.

 

5. After you've finished all your embellishments, all that remains is to sew the front and back of your baubles together. Pin the front and the back so they're exactly how you want them, then sew all around the outside and secure with a knot at the back of your bauble. Then sit back and admire your work :)

Please note: this tutorial is NOT intended for commercial use. You can make as many of these ornaments as you like (they make great gifts!) but please don't sell them 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 ornaments please let me know - I'd love to hear how it went & would adore to see pictures!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Sewing Station

I've been busy sewing lots of Christmas ornaments - and writing those tutorials. The second one will be posted very soon but in the meantime here's a quick snap of where I'm working today (in the corner of our kitchen) ... quite tidy for me!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Felt Ornament How-To #1: Stars and Hearts

I just couldn't wait to begin these tutorials, so here's the first one to get you started...


You will need...

A sewing needle
Some pins
Assorted colours of felt (at least 2 colours for this project)
Matching sewing thread
Co-ordinating narrow ribbon
Sewing/fabric scissors

1. First cut out your pattern. You can use my pattern sheet or draw your own simple shapes (cookie cutters make great templates).

2. Pick your colours. This ornament is based on simple contrasting colours: I chose red and white but you could pick any two to match your Christmas theme or make an assortment in lots of bright shades.

3. Pin the pattern to your first colour and cut it out.

 

4. Remove the pattern, put it to one side and pin the felt shape to the second colour - remember to leave space to cut a border round it! Then, using a contrasting colour sewing thread (I used red to match my background colour) sew the shape to the backing felt.

 

 This stitching will act as a decorative detail so try to get the stitches as even as possible. If you're worried about it you can always use a matching thread like I did here:

 

5. Now remove the pin and carefully cut round your shape, leaving a border of the backing colour to "frame" it: I cut mine quite narrow, but a wider border makes for a bigger bolder ornament. Remember: if you're not sure it's always best to cut a bit extra, as you can always trim some off if you're not happy with it at this stage.

 

6. You now have the front of your ornament. Use it as a template to cut out another piece of your backing felt the same size (this will be the back of the ornament).

7. Pick a piece of ribbon - I use simple narrow ribbons for my decorations but you could try wider pieces (the larger the ornament, the bigger the ribbon you can use) patterned ribbon, ricrac, or even knitting yarn or string: anything you're happy sewing with!

8. Cut a piece about 5 inches (12 cms) long. Fold it over to form a loop and sew the two cut ends to the inside of your backing piece of felt at the top like this:

 

When you put the front and back of your ornament together the messy ends of the ribbon should now be hidden between them. Use thread that matches your backing felt to help hide your stitches.

9. Now you're ready to sew your ornament together. Pin the front and the back so they're exactly how you want them, with the ribbon emerging from the top. Then, starting from the ribbon sew all around the outside "border" in matching thread, as close to the central shape as possible (again, this keeps your stitches hidden) ... and you've finished!

 

 VARIATIONS: As discussed above, you can use different colours and ribbons to great effect with this simple pattern. Any simple shape can be used - dig around in your cookie cutter drawer to see what you can find, or sketch your own patterns. I've added an 8 point star template to the pattern sheet for you to try. You could also make larger and more colourful ornaments by adding extra layers - repeat stages 4, 5 & 6 to create more elaborate layered designs.



Please note: this tutorial is NOT for commercial use. You can make as many of these ornaments as you like (they make great gifts!) but please don't sell them 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 ornaments please let me know - I'd love to hear how it went & would adore to see pictures!

Pattern sheet (double click to view full size and print)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Oooh Shiny...

I've been sewing some more Christmas decorations and making a start on writing up my tutorials. It's keeping me happily busy - anything that lets me play around with sparkly sequins is fine with me!
In the meantime, I'm chuffed to see that my featured seller bit has reappeared over on Folksy - I was featured before they even had an archive to put the features in, so now I have a whole new one. How lovely!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ornament Experiments

I mentioned "a fun new crafty project" yesterday and if anyone was paying attention they may have wondered what it was.... Well, I'll let you in on the secret: in a couple of weeks I'll be posting a set of simple Christmas ornament tutorials. Christmas craftiness for one and all! Hurrah!
Last night I made a start on sewing some prototype designs to use as examples and had lots of fun sketching and trying out a few ideas. Apart from accidentally giving the snowman, gingerbread man and dove navy blue eyes ('cause I'd muddled up my blue and black sequins! oops) I think they turned out quite well. I'll post them in a series starting as soon as I've got all my instructions sorted out...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Nights are Drawing In...

... and I keep getting caught unawares: unable to take photos 'cause I've left it too late in the day and it's dark already! This blogging lark and the demands of my almost daily photo taking means that along with switching to porridge for breakfast and warm jumpers, I'm going to have to adjust to taking photos earlier in the day and at different windows to catch the right kind of light.

This is an interesting addition to my autumnal routine-changes and also a long winded excuse for why I have nothing to show and tell today! I'll be back tomorrow with news of a fun crafty project but in the meantime please read this fab little article about how moustaches are terribly on trend, darling. Check out the 'staches at Vivienne Westwood! Awesome.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Slightly Different Every Time

One of the many pleasures of handmade things is that when you make a batch of the "same" design each version comes out slightly different with a special charm all of its own...I notice the differences particularly when I'm making birds and other little creatures, as each one ends up with a slightly different character or personality. Well, in my mind they do at least :)

As you may have guessed, I am still bird-obsessed and making lots of robins. Some will be brooches and others ornaments, accessories for you and your Christmas tree:

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