Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Looking Back

One of the very best things about blogging, and taking pictures of all my crafty projects is being able to look back over the months gone by and see just what I've been doing with my time!

Here's 2008 in pictures (two photos per month) .... click on it to view it larger, or follow the links to the individual photos:1. Crafting 365, day 140 - finishing some brooches and starting some others, 2. Crafting 365, day 160 - Violets, 3. Crafting 365, day 173 - pink teacups, 4. Crafting 365, day 184 - Tasty Cakes, 5. C365, day 207 - Rainclouds, 6. 365 / 212 - 320 pieces of Felt, 7. C365, day 233 - little felt rainbows, 8. C365, day 234 - Catching Up, 9. Floral Hairbands (Crafting 365 day 260), 10. Catching up: days 238-242 : a field of poppies, 11. Corsages (Crafting 365, day 269), 12. Masks (C365/275), 13. Secret Swap: sent, 14. Flower-y Hair, 15. Tiny Trees and Crafty Cakes (C365, day 326), 16. Needlework (C365, days 332-5), 17. Snowy Owl!, 18. Birds! - Crafting 365, day 365, 19. Ornithology, 20. Ribbon Heaven!, 21. British Vogue..., 22. Pompom Parcels, 23. Snowflake Curtain, 24. First Batch Finished...

2008 has had its ups and downs for me - over a month without the internet, meeting Doctor Who, totally failing at my Design A Day project (partly due to internet troubles but mostly just due to life getting in the way ... very inspiring while it lasted though and I will definitely be revisiting the suggestions in the new year!), completing my Crafting 365 project (albeit a little late), all sorts of lovely features (including my first appearance in real live magazines) making lots and lots and lots of stuff (see above!) plus all the other things that've gone on inbetween.

I am incredibly pleased with the progress of my little business and this blog during 2008. Looking back at what I was making and selling a year ago, I feel like my crafty universe has completely transformed - and taken over the house in the process, as my boyfriend would no doubt point out!

2008 has been a year of huge inspiration, so many crafty projects & schemes, and more felt than you can shake a stick at. The support of the crafting community (my lovely fellow Etsy sellers, all my lovely blog readers and Flickr friends, plus all my wonderful customers of course!) has been invaluable in giving me feedback, confidence-boosts and good advice. Basically you make it possible for me to carry on doing this and I love you all.

I will stop gushing now, but basically: hurrah for 2008, and here's to a super-crafty 2009!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Bird-themed Treasure

Look what I found under the bed in the spare room!
How could I have forgotten about this? All those different charming birds! All those delicious bright colours!It is basically 100% amazing and has just been lying neglected in a suitcase.
My boyfriend reminded me that it was he who spotted this in a local charity shop and that I actually needed persuading to buy it. I can't imagine myself doing anything other than clutching it to me immediately and demanding we buy it no matter the cost (it actually only cost £2: bargain!), and definitely cannot countenance putting it back under the bed.
But what to do with it? Frame the four large cards, maybe? Any suggestions for framing them, or other things I might do with them and the loose lotto cards would be very gratefully received.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Secret Knitting

Today we have been framing and hanging pictures. I got an awesome "It's Nice to be Nice" print for Christmas (by the lovely Hazel Nicholls and available here if you're interested) and looking for a frame for that somehow led to me turning out all sorts of cupboards and boxes and folders for pictures, postcards and prints that I've been meaning to frame for ages. It's turned into a bit of a saga even though we're only being cheapo post-students and using clip frames for everything ... but it's so satisfying to have all our pictures out on display and so lovely to be filling up boring blank walls with colour.

No pictures of our pictures to show you, so instead here's another secret gift - a blanket I finally finished just in time for Christmas after foolishly declaring it "almost finished" way back in August! Dreadful dark blurry photo but you get the idea...
You can see my original scribbley sketch here if you're interested in that sort of thing. Nothing fancy, but I love the bright colours!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Secret Sewing

Now that Christmas is over, presents have been opened and surprises can no longer be spoiled... here are a couple of badges I made as gifts this year:
A sweet and simple donkey silhouette for someone who dreams of owning an orchard and two donkeys ... ... and a replica of the Penguin Books logo to adorn the jacket of a Penguin nut. Not the most original things I've ever made, I know, but I put a lot of love into the stitching and they seem to have been well-received! The little Penguin badge in particular was rather fiddly - very satisfying when it was finished, and totally worth it to make the badge a wearable size.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Felty Goodness!

We're still enjoying being lazy and pottering about after a lovely Christmas, but I have managed to get some packs of mini felt squares parceled up and listed over on Etsy and Folksy
I've got plenty in stock, so if they sell out don't worry there will be more relisted as soon as I check my email! If you'd like me to reserve you a pack, or to set up a listing for more than one pack please send me a message on Etsy or Folksy and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Off to eat a few more mince pies now... nom nom nom...

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas!

I hope you all have a lovely day, whether you're doing Christmassy things or not...
We're particularly looking forward to the Christmas episode of Doctor Who - my sisters have even made a Doctor Who themed cake this year, with marzipan Daleks! My mum kindly sent a photo:
How awesome is that?

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Last Minute Sewing...

... more lavender sachets, ready to give to friends this afternoon! As you can see, I'm still in love with that Cath Kidston-ish "modern country pastels" look, and rocking the polka dot buttons. I'm rather falling in love with ric rac too...

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Beating the Winter Blues...

... with reds and greens and pinks and purples and a whole rainbow of colours!
I got a big order of felt in from my suppliers yesterday and had a huge amount of fun playing around with colours: just the ticket for a grey, dark day. What did I come up with? Well, you'll see after Christmas but the above photo is a big clue :)

PS now my felt has arrived I will be restocking the packs of mini squares as soon as possible. They'll probably reappear in my shops at the end of December, but I'll announce their return here on my blog.

Monday, 22 December 2008

A Christmas Corner

I have to admit that I'm getting quite excited about Christmas this year, and am loving all the cheerful touches round our house... even the messy piles of giftwrap and ribbon have been making me smile! Tragic, huh?

Of course it's so dark these days that taking pictures of any of this is almost impossible, but I have done my best to take some snaps of our Christmas tree as I think the Christmas corner of our lounge is looking rather nice at the moment:The presents are all standing on the top of our electric piano - pushed back against the wall to make room for the tree, and draped in a lovely vintage bedspread for a bit of colour - and the tree itself is on a table that I've covered in a big bit of mustard yellow brocade from my fabric stash (plus some strings of silver stars for a bit of sparkle). Here's what it looks like on cosy evenings:Our tree is rather minimalist, just a few sparkly bits plus those lovely bird ornaments I bought the other day... Next year I hope to be a bit more organised and have a crazy all-felt Christmas tree, with felt garlands and felt baubles and felt squirrel ornaments and all sorts of felt festivity, but this year we're keeping things super-simple ... though I might make a gold star for the top!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Phew!

Today is the recommended last posting day for Christmas (first class mail within the UK) and I've just got back from the Post Office and posting my final bundle of parcels for the year! I'll still be taking orders in my shops, but anything ordered during the holidays will get posted in the first week of January to give me a bit of a break and time to relax over Christmas.I feel quite worn out after packing so many parcels... and I still have some presents of my own that still need wrapping. Actually, I still have some presents that need making (including some more of those lavender sachets) so there's plenty to keep me busy even on holiday, even without including all the stuff I'm working on ready for 2009! (More on this coming soon...)

Friday, 19 December 2008

Early Christmas Presents...

I have received some lovely things this week... firstly I got an amazing surprise parcel all the way from Japan, jam-packed with goodies:
Then one of my boyfriend's singing pupils (to whom we gave a bundle of felt for Christmas) popped round to bring us a Christmas card and she had sewn me some lovely things:
And finally - a Christmas gift to myself - check out the awesome bird ornaments I got from the RSPB this year (also available in National Trust shops, apparently) ...
... such an ace addition to my tree, and I love the little raffia nests they came nestled in! Thanks to WeeBirdy for featuring those and reminding me I needed to order some. We finally decorated our tree yesterday (just a few things still to make and add to it) - I'll try to take a picture of the birdies in situ sometime soon.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Secret Treats

I like to bake biscuits for my friends and neighbours at Christmas but this year I have been both a bit ill and a bit busy and decided to sew lots of lavender sachets instead... I've been sewing them on evenings when I've been spaced out and in need of something relaxing to do, and it's nice getting them done in advance instead of relying on having the time and energy for a two day baking marathon! I've been making lots of the little squares, most with a heart on one side with ribbon and button details. Here are the first batch, front and back:
It is immensely satisfying seeing them all in a pile like that, but already ten of these have been wrapped and given as presents. These ones are some of my favourites so far...I especially love the little polka dot button in the middle of the heart, it just looks too cute and is making me want to sew buttons on everything...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Snaps from The Small Gallery

I don't get over to Hereford as often as I'd like to, but thanks to some excellent networking done by my mother-in-law (who always wears one of my brooches on her coat) I currently have some of my work on sale there in a lovely little gallery called The Small Gallery.

The gallery is "a textile and artisan yarn gallery, showing small scale textile work and selling yarns for artists and knitters", located next to bead and fabric shops and a lovely vegetarian cafe 5 minutes from Hereford Cathedral.

My long-suffering boyfriend borrowed my camera when visiting his mother this weekend and took a few snaps for me of my work in-situ in the shop...
... and in the window alongside some yummy knitted cakes:

Monday, 15 December 2008

An Exhibition

The latest Paper'n'Stitch exhibition starts today - and I'm in it!
Paper'n'Stitch is "an exhibition space for fine art, handmade and vintage shops", where each exhibitor gets their own little "shop" displaying up to 20 of their products... which then directs you to their Etsy or other retail shop when you hit the "buy" button.

The shops taking part change monthly (the current exhibition runs until 18th January), and like a little catalogue it's a quick and easy way of discovering new designers and makers.

I recognise a few of my Etsy favourites in this month's participants, including Cicada Studio and Leanne Graeff but have also discovered lots of new treasures....

Snowflake Cross Stitch by Atlantic Treefox:

Plaid & Floral Cushion by Enhabiten:

Plus this deliciously stylish Octagon Cushion by PLYtextiles:
Oh, and rather excitingly, if you take a moment to register with the paper'n'stitch site you can vote for your favourite exhibitor and the shop with the most votes gets a month free on the site and $150! Second place winner gets a free month plus $50! What fun!

If you fancy voting for me, you can do so by clicking on the heart icon at the top of my shopfront.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Gift Wrap Ideas #7: Wallpaper

With Christmas just around the corner, I've been wrapping some more presents... this time making use of a roll of leftover wallpaper I bought in a charity shop.

 
The wallpaper I've used is a "paintable textured vinyl", a fantastic combination of super-plain and simple (that crisp white) and really ornate and detailed (the textured pattern). It's especially great for wrapping large boxes - your parcels end up looking a bit like big slabs of Christmas cake! I added some red yarn and a tag for a bit of contrasting colour.

 

I made the tag by sticking some red wrapping paper to a bit of spare card, and then cutting out and applying a small detail of the wallpaper pattern with ordinary prittstick. As the wallpaper is quite thick you can cut out quite intricate patterns without the paper ripping or becoming too fragile to handle.

 

If you've got a bit of time - say, when you're relaxing watching the telly in the evening - you can use this decorative idea for your parcels themselves for a very bespoke look.


 

Please feel free to borrow one or two photos 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Sponsorship

UPDATED June 2010

I'm currently accepting new sponsor ads on my blog!

I'm looking to promote independent artists, crafters and supply shops with their own distinct styles, professional products and presentation, and a love of colour. Please do check out my current sponsor shops to get a feel for the quality and aesthetic I am interested in.

Ads on my blog are currently £7.50 per month or £17.50 for 3 consecutive months, for a 200×120 pixel ad. I can only accept ads of this size, and no animated ads. Payment is via Paypal (I'll send you an invoice if you're interested).

I add any new sponsors at the beginning of each month. Ads are rotated throughout the month for fairness and I'm happy to swap over your ad image at any time to match special promotions etc.

My blog has a regular following, with over 2,500 subscribers, but I also get a lot of new visitors finding me through links from other sites and search engines. Over the past 6 months approx 51% of my traffic has been new visits.

Blog stats:

Nov 09: 63,000+ page views, 17,000+ unique visitors
Dec 09: 81,000+ page views, 23,000+ unique visitors
Jan 10: 58,000+ page views, 14,000+ unique visitors
Feb 10: 58,000+ page views, 14,000+ unique visitors
Mar 10: 70,000+ page views, 18,000+ unique visitors
Apr 10: 48,000+ page views, 13,000+ unique visitors
May 10: 62,000+ page views, 15,000+ unique visitors

If you think your shop would be a good fit for my blog, and are interested in becoming a sponsor please leave a comment on this post with your email address, website and a quick introduction to your work (posts will not be published) so I can contact you directly.

-----------------------

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a small change to my blog today - the addition of some sponsor ads to help support my daily blogging.

I'll be offering a limited number of ad spaces on a monthly basis, from specially selected businesses which complement my little crafty corner of the internet and which I think you, my lovely readers, might be interested in visiting. The ads will never affect the content of my blog, and sponsors will be no more or less likely to be featured in blog posts.

If you visit any of my sponsors, please do let them know how you found them!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Christmas Bling

All this chic snowflake decorating is all very well, but at Christmas you definitely need a bit of bling: lots of warm rich colours and sparkly stuff to brighten the place up a bit.

With this in mind, I've decorated the second window in our kitchen (the first has a curtain of paper snowflakes) with strings of red and gold circles:


Please excuse the terribly grainy photos of these - it really is incredibly dark here at the moment, which is probably why I'm lusting after shiny sparkly decorations...

I originally just had my cardboard Christmas Star hanging in this window, but it looked a little lonely so I decided to make garlands to match it.

 

I raided our recycling box for lots of empty cardboard boxes (cereal boxes, etc) and cut out lots of circles in different sizes, and then decorated them with red yarn, felt, chocolate coin foil, and an assortment of red and gold christmas wrap - lots of lovely shiny pieces saved from previous years (I am a hoarder, I admit it, but this this is a great project for using up all those small offcuts of giftwrap you get left with after wrapping your presents).

As you can see, I cut out an inner circle from some of the circles to make ring shapes - some of these I glued paper onto both sides, but others I wrapped with red yarn as if making a very skinny pompom: it takes a little while but I really like the effect and I think the yarn makes a great contrast against the super-shiny paper and foil. Felt circles have a similar soft, textured effect.

 

Once I'd made lots of circles, I laid them all out on our kitchen table to arrange them into garlands so I got a nice mix of shapes and colours, and then started putting the strings together.

 

Each garland starts with a bauble at the bottom for a bit of weight (I bought my red and sparkly gold ones from a charity shop, cheap as chips) and then each circle or ring is tied on to the yarn with about an inch gap left between them. I punched holes in most of the circles to do this (using an ordinary holepunch) but used a darning needle to get the yarn through the felt ones.

 

Then I hung them like the snowflake garlands, from the curtain hooks left by our old curtains - you could hang them from a string or use drawing pins to hold them in place, or maybe make a festive mobile from short strands. They spin really nicely and I'm already thinking about ways to adapt this project to spread some bauble bling to other parts of my house...

 


Please feel free to borrow photos 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Better Late Than Never... Right?

I have fallen behind with so many projects this autumn thanks to a string of winter bugs and the general chaos of Christmas, and there are many neglected things sitting in my workbox which I'd hoped to have in my shops a month ago. One of these neglected projects got finished yesterday evening when I was out babysitting for a friend: gingerbread men!

They have now been listed over on Etsy and on Folksy too, but I'm not really expecting to sell any at this late date...

They will make cute additions to our tree though, plus I'm planning on adding unsold Christmas ornaments to my own gifts - tied on to the ribbons with the tag, as a sweet little extra for my friends.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Other People's Presents

Today is the Royal Mail's recommended last posting date for mail to the US so I've been rushing around like a crazy person getting everything packaged up in time to go to the Post Office in an hour or so...

I always pack everything with care, but at this time of year some of my parcels get a little extra love when my customers want their order shipped direct as a Christmas gift: it's so much fun wrapping other peoples presents!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

I Am Easily Pleased

Today I am dead chuffed to see my own little blog ad joining the sponsors sidebar over on the Paper and Stitch blog where I've been a guest poster lately.
I've never really dipped my toes into advertising before so seeing my hastily knocked-together mini ad is (pathetically) quite exciting! :)

I think I've probably just had a bit too much excitement this week, as my blog stats have been going - quite frankly - a bit mental. Look what happened to my blog visits this week thanks to a rather delightful amount of interest in my giftwrapping tutorials (each yellow bar is a day of the month)
I'm sure talking about your blog stats is like the blogging equivalent of talking about money, but nevermind. The internet it is a crazy, crazy thing.

In other news, it is incredibly dark here at the moment which is a bit depressing but I'm busy working on some more Blue Peterish schemes for decorating the house and cheering the place up a bit. I've also - of course - been doing lots of sewing, including working on a little batch of cherry blossom brooches as I've suddenly sold a bunch of these and almost run out:

Monday, 8 December 2008

Lavender Sachet How To

Today I'd like to share with you some simple ideas for making cute lavender sachets - these make great little gifts and stocking stuffers! If you're not a lavender fan or just can't get hold of any, don't worry: the two designs I'll be showing you can easily be adapted to be mini pincushions or Christmas decorations.


The basic construction process goes something like this:
1 - Cut out all the pieces (pattern sheet has finally been uploaded - see end of post).
2 - Decorate the front (felt) piece of your sachet.
3 - Sew on ribbon if needed.
4 - Fold and press your fabric seams, and pin or loosely stitch them in place.
5 - Sew the felt and fabric together, right sides out, leaving a gap to add lavender or other stuffing.
6 - Stuff the sachet and finish sewing along the seam.

 

I've been making these for my friends and neighbours from felt and fabric, and have been making two basic designs: simple squares and little houses.

Here I've cut out felt pieces for three sachets...


Felt pieces for the front of a little house, a piece of cute house-print fabric for the back, and a matching piece of red ribbon so it can hang as an ornament at Christmas or in someone's wardrobe to ward off moths. You could always use another piece of white felt for the back of your house. I also chose a nice green print fabric, and a matching green felt square, and two co-ordinating felt squares (red and white).

To decorate the little houses, first sew on your red roof and door...

 


... and then embroider little windows -I used a double thickness of ordinary sewing thread for this.

 

Then flip the felt over and sew on your ribbon loop - if your ribbon has a pattern on it, like my little hearts, make sure you sew it on the right way up!

 

The light gave out at this point so here's one I made earlier:


I stitched the felt front and fabric back together with red thread to make the stitches a nice decorative feature - just an ordinary whip stitch but if you wanted to make it look really neat you could use blanket stitch. Stuff it with polyester stuffing instead of lavender and it would make an adorable Christmas ornament! The gorgeous house print fabric I used is the Avenue print from Summersville.

 

The squares are constructed in much the same way - you just skip the ribbon loop. They make a sweet scented addition to a clothes drawer or in-storage coat pocket, and stuffed with polyfill or fabric scraps they can serve as pincushions.

As with the houses, you can make them entirely from felt or use patterned fabric for the backs. You can have a lot of fun playing around with colours and decorative details and make each square slightly different.

When working with fabric, take your colour and decoration cues from the fabric pattern itself - using this Totem print fabric (from Summersville again) I chose a matching bottle green felt and added an appliqued felt detail based on the shapes found in the print:

 
I did something similar with the sachets in the photos at the start of this post - combining co-ordinating turquoise and green felt with a turquoise Totem print for one square, and embroidering one of the houses from the Avenue print for the other.

When using two plain felt squares you can have a good rummage in your crafting stash and use up lots of odds and ends!

I wanted to use some of the lovely woven heart ribbon, and took my cues from this - I decorated one side with a white felt applique heart (using the template from the heart ornaments I posted last month) and the other with a strip of the ribbon and three adorable gingham buttons purchased from BigFish.

 

I've not finished this one yet, but I think the end result will be rather charming!

Update: you can see more lavender sachets I made using these designs HERE and HERE.

Here's the pattern sheet - double click to view full size and print, or draw your own to get them just the size you fancy.
This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many sachets as you like for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don't make any for sale. Please feel free to borrow photos 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!

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