Friday, 29 January 2010

I Love My Local Post Office...

... especially when they give us free mugs:The boyfriend (a.k.a my postal assistant) came home with these yesterday after posting a big pile of parcels. We post so much stuff that they gave us one each - his'n'hers mugs to drink tea in at the end of a long afternoon packing and posting.

Postal geek that I am, I think they're rather snazzy!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

How To: Felt Owl Brooch

After showing you the sneak peek at this cute little guy yesterday I just had to sit down in my tea break this afternoon and write up the tutorial for how to make your own :)


If you've been reading my blog since it started you may recognise him as he's based on an old & now discontinued design I used to sell in my Etsy shop a few years ago. I keep seeing owls popping up all over the place at the moment so it seemed like a good time to dig out my old pattern!

To make your owl brooch you will need:

- a needle, a pin, scissors, and the template at the bottom of this post
- two colours of felt to make the owl's body and wings (I used a dark chestnut brown and ginger)
- thread to match these two colours
- scraps of black, white and orange felt
- black, white and orange thread
- a brooch clasp or safety pin

Optional: polyester stuffing

1. Pin the owl body template to the felt you want to use and cut around it. Repeat this so you have two matching body pieces (a front and a back piece). Then cut out two wing pieces from the other colour you've chosen using the wing template. As the wing pieces are quite small you may find it easier, instead of using a pin, to just hold the template in place as you cut around it.

2. Cut out a small orange triangle to be a beak, and two small white circles & two tiny black circles to be the eyes. If you have difficulty cutting out the small circles try cutting a square slightly bigger than the size you want and then trimming it down to make a circle. You could also use black beads for the pupils.

 

3. Position the wings on one of the body shapes and sew them in place using matching thread and a simple running stitch.

 

4. Arrange the owl's beak and eyes until you're happy with their position then sew them in place. I used three orange stitches (one at each point of the triangle) for the beak, a couple of black stitches in the centre of each pupil, and even white stitches around the eyes.

 

5. Put that to one side, and get the plain "back" body piece. Sew a brooch clasp or safety pin to it using a double thickness of brown thread (I forgot to take a photo of this stage, sorry!).

6. Now hold the front and back pieces together and sew them together using more brown thread and a whip stitch. Start from "inside" the two pieces just below one wing and work round the edge, taking extra care to make your stitches neat over the wings as this is when they'll be most visible...



... then when you've sewn all the way round finish your stitches at the back of the brooch, and you've finished!

 

If you'd like a fat owl instead of a flat owl: when you reach the bottom of the second wing stop stitching and use the opening to stuff your owl with polyester stuffing (use a pencil to poke the stuffing into all the corners).
 

When the owl is as fat as you want it, continue your whip stitches to close up the opening.

Here are some fat owls I made earlier!


 

Double click the template below to view full size and print:

If you print the template at 100% your owl will be the same size as mine. Cutting and sewing some of the small pieces for this design can be a bit fiddly - to make the shapes easier to work with (or if you just fancy making a larger owl!) print the template at a larger size.

This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many owls 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!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Taking some pictures

We had a teeny tiny bit of sunshine this afternoon - wonderful!

Especially as I got to snap lots of "in progress" photos for some new tutorials coming soon...

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Felty goodness back in stock

I've been gradually re-opening my shops this weekend and catching up with my emails - I'm never completely up to date with my email but it's nice to have my inbox vaguely under control again!

I'm also busy sorting out a big box of supplies, and making up lots of bundles of felt squares. All these goodies are now back in stock on my website and in my Etsy and Folksy shops (if the pack you want isn't listed just let me know!)

Packs of embroidery thread:
Mini felt squares packs, giant rainbows and pick and mix felt:
Plus two of my most popular felt packs, a bright mix and lovely soft pastels:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New blogs on my radar...

A couple of times a week I like to sit with a cuppa and browse a few of my favourite craft and design blogs - and to click a few links and discover new sites & lots of awesome people making amazing things.

Apart from the occasional day when I end up feeling a bit talentless by comparison (a feeling perfectly captured by Gemma Correll in her drawing "the perils of being an illustrator with access to the internet") I love these blog-browsing sessions, and it's so exciting discovering a new blog you want to bookmark and come back to again and again.

As well as following the personal blogs of various artists and crafters I'm really enjoying reading about crafting in general. Three of my recent faves are:

1) Crafting an MBA - described as "business thinking for designers and makers" this blog is a new project from Megan Auman whose personal blog is always a great, honest read about her crafty business and creative life. Worth a read: this post about "Etsy and the culture of cheap" has kicked off a really interesting discussion about Etsy, handmade and shoppers' ideas about how much things "should" cost.

2) Make & Meaning - I'm not sure if this technically counts as a blog but it's worth a mention anyway. Loads of bloggers are contributing articles to this site, all about issues to do with making stuff and the ins and outs and ups and downs of the creative life. Worth a read: I've enjoyed most of the articles so far but I really love the ones with lots of comments, some of the discussions being prompted make for great reading!

3) Craftypod - this is one of those sites I can't believe I've never stumbled upon before. Great craft book reviews and other crafty stuff, plus fortnightly podcasts which I mentioned briefly earlier this week. Podcasts! About crafting! Great stuff. Worth a listen: I though this podcast about a former Etsy top-seller selling her business and downsizing after self-confessed "burn out" was really interesting.

Sometimes though it's just nice to look at pictures...

I'm loving Lisa Congdon's A Collection a Day blog documenting real and imaginary collections, and Lu Summers' project to make a mixed media "sketch" every day for a year. Rather predictably my favourite piece of Lu's so far is one with a teapot in it:

Have you discovered any great blogs lately? Do share! :)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Things in my workbox #3

I'm doing my best to try and "switch off" from work this week so I can concentrate on getting well. Anyone who is self-employed will know how hard this can be, as there are always so many tasks shouting for your attention and so many creative projects which you're itching to get started.

I'm keeping my laptop switched off as much as possible and have packed all my work stuff away... but I can't stop myself wanting to make stuff! My name is Laura, and I'm a craft addict. Ha ha.

My whole business developed from all the sewing I did to keep myself entertained while I was ill and stuck watching rubbish TV for days on end and I always have a stash of nice simple crafty tasks which I can do (slowly!) when I'm feeling under the weather.

Today's bit of convalescent crafting? Starting to sew beads on the felt necklaces sitting in my workbox...

Monday, 18 January 2010

Q & A

There's an interview with me over on the DaWanda blog today - all about my creative process and running my DaWanda shop. You can read the interview here.

I often get emails from people asking questions about felt crafting and my crafty business, so I wondered if you guys have any questions you want to ask me :)

If you'd like to ask me a question just leave a comment on this post and I'll write up the answers over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Things in my workbox #2

After making my fancy cocktail hat I adapted the design slightly to make some "statement" necklaces using some lovely shades of 100% wool felt and there's a whole pile of them sitting half-finished in my workbox:Each necklace will be one-of-a-kind, some light summery shades on white backgrounds and some richer jewel colours on black backgrounds. The flowers all need lots of beads added for a bit of sparkle, which should keep me busy for a while.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Things in my workbox #1

Thanks for all the well-wishes, everyone :)

I've been listening to lots of fantastic crafty podcasts, working my way through a box set of Doctor Who and generally taking it easy, and I'm gradually starting to feel a little more human.

Over the next few days I'll be sharing some quick snaps of things I've been working on recently & which will be making an appearance in my shops once I get back on my feet.

First up, large layered flower brooches - these have been in my workbox for simply ages while I ummed and aahhed about which colours to use for embroidery thread and buttons. It's lovely seeing them finally taking shape! (And yes, that is an upturned biscuit tin lid. They make such fantastic portable workspaces).

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Closing Up Shop

I had planned to blog about butterflies today as a lovely parcel of them arrived in the post, destined to become lots of pretty butterfly flower hairbands and brooches like these:

Unfortunately, in a bit of spectacularly bad timing I've managed to get ill - just when I'd been hoping to get back to work after my Christmas break! Sigh.

I've closed my shops temporarily so I can properly put my feet up and focus on getting well. Fingers crossed I'll be back to my usual crafty shenanigans in a week or so - I'm rather looking forward to convalescing on the sofa with some old movies and a box of sewing...

The boyfriend & I are still hoping to get all outstanding orders packed and posted this week but if I owe you an email please bear with me.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Bags of Sparkles

I'm busy packing up parcels, catching up with the "backlog" from my time off. The boyfriend will be making lots of trips to the Post Office this week!

Just time for a quick snap of some very sparkly post that arrived this morning...... lots of yummy seed beads ready to be sewn onto brooches and hairbands and some other felty things lurking in my work-in-progress boxes.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Pigeon Post

We've not been getting much post lately thanks to all this winter weather. I'm waiting for a few supply orders (so I can get everything restocked after Christmas) and other assorted bits and pieces.

One bit of nice post that has arrived is a little something I treated myself to as a post-Christmas present, this gorgeous poster from Edinburgh-based artist Alice Melvin.

As always with my art purchases, I've got no idea where it's going to go but I just couldn't resist its loveliness.

With more cold weather forecast I've got my fingers crossed that I'll be able to get to the Post Office next week (and that it'll actually be open!) when I'm supposed to be resuming shipping orders after my Christmas break. I'm hoping to have everything shipped by the end of the week but if there are snow-related delays and you're expecting a parcel from me I'll be in touch :)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Works in Progress

I'm determined to start the year with a tidy workspace, and have gradually been working through all my crafty gubbins trying to get organised.

Today's task: sorting out my slightly chaotic "in progress" boxes crammed with half-finished projects, assorted experiments that have yet to see the light of day and a few exciting new things I'm working on.

All the bits and pieces had started to teeter precariously on trays and spread over tabletops and get quite muddled so it's a very nice change having them all neat and tidy for once and packed away in boxes...... the only problem now is what to finish first!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Snow! (plus a sale update)

After weeks of serious snow envy (everyone seemed to have snow except us) it has finally snowed in Gloucester! Hurrah!

I've got my fingers crossed for more & am hoping to get out to take some pics tomorrow... in the meantime here's a quick snap from last year:When I've not been staring out of the window at the slightly hypnotic snowflakes I've been tinkering with my website - adding all my recent tutorials, updating my press page - ordering some supplies, trying to catch up with my emails, and putting off doing my accounts!

I've also added my large oak leaf hairbands (available in green and brown) to my spring sale.

Monday, 4 January 2010

December Giveaway Results

I'm having a very lazy day today, watching lots of episodes of Miss Marple and not doing much else... but I have remembered to pick a winner for last month's giveaway. Hurrah!
The winner (picked at random) is andrea_s_nelson who said " It is all so lovely! I would adore the Circles Pin Cushion in Pink & Gray."

Leave me a blog comment with your email address Andrea (it won't be published) and I'll be in touch.
Thanks to everyone who entered. It was lots of fun hearing which item you'd pick if you won! :)

Remember there'll be another giveaway later this month...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Crafty Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone :)

2010 is off to a good start so far with lots of good telly (Agatha Christie and Doctor Who) good food, kind words and perhaps most importantly lovely lazy afternoons curled up on the sofa tinkering with new felt things.

As you may guess from my colour palette I'm already dreaming of spring...
Much as I'd like to wish away the cold (brr!) I do love this time of year. With the wonderful exhausting madness that is the "Christmas shopping season" out of the way (so many parcels to pack! and so many shipping deadlines to meet!) I've got a chance to catch my breath, put my feet up and think big thoughts about my schemes for the year to come.

I've got a big to do list for 2010, lots of things I want to try and lots of ideas in my sketchbooks, but I've decided that my main crafty resolution for this year is to maintain a balance between my crafty life and my crafty business. I want to develop my little business without becoming a one woman sweatshop, and to make sure I keep on making things just for fun and to feed my soul as well as my bank account.

Have you made any crafty resolutions this year? Are there any crafts you're determined to try or projects you've sworn to finish?

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