Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snowy Owl Ornaments

Last night I finished lots of snowy owls - some brooches and some (new!) ornaments:


My mum has already requested one for Christmas (she's got a whole collection of my felt birdies), but I'll be listing the rest in my Etsy and Folksy shops this afternoon.

Monday, 29 November 2010

How To: Giant Button Brooch

Need a quick and easy gift idea this Christmas? Try making button brooches!


These brooches would make great gifts for your crafty friends, or cute stocking stuffers for older children. You could also use them as gift toppers for larger presents.

You will need:
- a very large button (I used 5cm/2inch plastic ones)
- felt matching the button colour
- matching sewing thread
- matching embroidery thread
- a brooch clasp or safety pin
- paper, a pencil, some scissors
- a sewing needle, a large needle (to sew the embroidery thread) and sewing scissors

1) Draw round your button with a pencil. Cut it out, and trim a few mms around the edge so you end up with a circle slightly smaller than your button. Use this as a template to cut out three or four circles from the felt (you'll need the extra circle if your felt is thin or not very stiff).

2) Place two of the circles at the back of the button, and sew the button onto them using a large needle and a length of embroidery thread.


3) Sew a brooch clasp or safety pin onto the remaining one or two felt circles. Finally, place the back circles (with the clasp) on top of the front circles (with the button at the bottom) and use matching sewing thread to sew all the felt layers together, whip stitching around the edges.


This tutorial is for non-commercial use only. Please feel free to borrow photos if you want to blog about any of my projects but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Gift Wrap Idea: Baubles & Bells

Add some serious sparkle to your gifts by using baubles and bells as gift-toppers!




This is a great way to dress up the plainest of parcels and really make them stand out - the baubles in particular add a real wow factor. And of course, and unlike store-bought gift bows these can be used over and over again to decorate gifts or can be re-used in decorating or crafting afterwards.

For the smaller gift I used 2cm silver bells (currently available in my supplies shop!) and lovely red gingham ribbon for a traditional festive feel. For the larger gift I used sparkly white yarn and a selection of bright plastic Christmas baubles bought from a charity shop. The charity shops near us are full of cheap second hand baubles at this time of year. Buy them in mix-and-match colours and a variety of shapes and sizes.

First tie yarn or ribbon round your gift. I used brown kraft paper for mine (I adore brown paper parcels) but you can use any gift wrap that co-ordinates with your chosen baubles or bells.

 
 
Next thread three baubles or bells onto the loose ribbon ends (I think trios work perfectly for this but you can use as many as you like) and tie the ends together and knot them underneath the baubles/bells so they're well secured. Then trim any exess yarn/ribbon and sit back and admire your handiwork!

 



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 post on your site. Thanks!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

And The Winners Are...

... SyaAz who wins goodie bag #2 (which seems to have been very popular!)


... and Stephanie, who commented later so wins goodie bag #1


I'll be in touch with you both very soon :)

Thanks to everyone who entered! x

Friday, 26 November 2010

Gift Wrap Idea: Yarn Plaits

I often use yarn instead of ribbon to decorate my gifts, but this year I thought I'd do something slightly different with it and made plaited (braided) ties:



The ties are super-easy to make, and though they do take time you can make lots while watching TV one evening and it's a very relaxing process. They're also a great way to use up leftover yarn from any knitting projects you've been working on during the year, so you can clear out your stash at the same time. If you're not a knitter but really want to give these a try, ask a knitting friend or relative for some of their leftover yarn - if they're anything like me they'll have tons of the stuff in loads of colours.

You can use any colours you fancy, to match your wrapping paper or just some nice colour combinations from the yarn in your stash. I chose festive colours - a red, green and natural brown mix, and a pepperminty red, white and turquoise mix (the white yarn has a slight sparkle to it, which is rather awesome, though it doesn't really show in the photos).



 

I used three colours per plait, and two strands of double knitting yarn in each colour to make a nice thick plait that's still thin enough to use as a ribbon without any problems.


 

I found that 100-120cms was about as long as I could cut the yarn before it became unmanagable when plaiting it. Because of this, the ties work best for smaller gifts but you could also use two ties for wrapping a larger present.

Knot the six strands together at one end, plait them until you run out of yarn (not too tight!) and knot them again to secure the plait. Then trim the ends neatly.


 

I found that my finished plaits were about 20% shorter than the yarn I started with but yours may differ depending how tightly you plait the yarn and how thick it is. It's worth taking a note of this percentage if you can in case you want to make a plait of a certain length and need to calculate how much yarn you'll need.


 

To use the ties, simply tie them round your gifts like normal ribbons. Knot them simply, or tie the loose ends in a bow.


 
 

The plaits also look great when topped with pompoms (click HERE for a guide to using pompoms to decorate your gifts) - make pompoms from the same yarn you use to make the plaits. Just one pompom looks fab, but three looks amazing!

 


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!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Butterfly Mobiles

More new things in my Etsy shop this week: pretty butterfly mobiles.


Fans of my tutorials will recognise this design - you can learn how to make your own here. But if you've ever wanted to own one without having to do all that cutting and sewing, now's your chance!
There's one large mobile in rainbow colours, and a selection of mini mobiles with three butterflies each. They're all available here.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Sparkly Flowers

New - lots of sparkly flower brooches!


Each one is made with six layers of soft wool blend felt, with lovely sparkly silver beads in the centre.

I'm hoping to offer these in custom colours next year, but in the meantime there are lots of colour combinations available in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

In My Workbox At The Moment...

... snowy owls, camera ornaments, badgers and a custom poppy brooch:


The owls always look a bit weird until their eyes and beaks get added! Some of them will be brooches and some will be (new!) ornaments for bird lovers and Harry Potter fans.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Christmas Shipping Dates

With Christmas just around the corner, the last recommended posting dates for Airmail are looming - this isn't the most exciting topic for a blog post, I know, but it's very important!


If you're planning on buying something from any of my shops as a Christmas gift, these are the deadlines to get your parcel shipped before the Royal Mail's last posting dates:

3rd December - South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Far East (inc. Japan), Asia, New Zealand and Australia

7th December - USA, Canada and Eastern Europe

10th December - Western Europe

18th December - UK and Channel Islands

I'll still be posting orders until late December, but if you place your order after these dates your parcel will be unlikely to arrive in time for the 25th.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

New Thankyou Notes

I always like to include a little handwritten thankyou note with my shop orders, usually on a homemade mini card. I really enjoy making the cards but as my business grows I'm using more each year and finding less and less time to make them...

So this week I ordered a pack of professionally printed cards that I can use instead:


A whole box of little rainbows! Wonderful stuff.

I hope my customers will like them as much as I do :)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Sew: Blog of the Month

I've been super lucky with press features recently - the boyfriend joked that I'm taking over the crafts section of our local newsagent! :)

This arrived in the post yesterday: the December issue of Sew magazine.


The lovely people at Sew have picked my blog as their "blog of the month" and they were kind enough to send me a free copy of the magazine, as well. Thanks guys!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Vintage Threads

Small treasures:


I love vintage haberdashery, especially anything involving retro typography, so when I was having a tidy up I couldn't resist lining these up and taking a photo to celebrate their loveliness.

Most of these have gorgeous wooden spools, my favourite is the small spool of "service khaki", which is only an inch high.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Lots of free crafty tutorials!

I finally got round to updating my tutorial pages this morning... all my tutorials are now included, with easy quick links and some user-friendly pictures so you can see at a glance what's available.

There's crafty tutorials, including lots of things that would make great Christmas gifts...


... Christmas tutorials...


... and lots of gift-wrap ideas for those finishing touches that make a gift extra special:


I've got lots of ideas for new projects and *fingers crossed* I'll have the time to get some of them written up for the blog over the next few weeks, but that lot should keep you busy in the meantime!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Giveaway: Christmas Gift Bonanza

With Christmas rapidly approaching (eek!) I thought I'd do a special giveaway this month...

... up for grabs are TWO goodie bags, each containing SEVEN felt brooches, to solve lots of your Christmas gift-giving in one fell swoop. Two winners will be chosen, and each will receive one bag.

Goodie Bag #1 contains: neon pink bow brooch, large Battenberg brooch, pink heart rosette brooch, large lilac dotty brooch, daisy brooch, umbrella brooch and large pink cherry blossom brooch.


Goodie Bag #2 contains: marigold brooch, blue teapot brooch, large pink dotty brooch, large pink poppy brooch, orange star rosette brooch, acorn brooch and plush Battenberg brooch.


As always, I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Just leave a comment on this blog post saying which goodie bag you'd like to win! (if the two winners pick the same bag it'll be first come first served).

Leave your comment before 10pm on Friday 26th November and
I'll pick a winner at random on Saturday 27th.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and be sure to come back to see if you got picked. If I'm unable to contact the winner within 1 week, another will be chosen as I'd like to get the parcels in the post as soon as possible so they'll be sure to arrive by Christmas :)

UPDATE: this giveaway has now closed!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Famous Knitters

The new issue of Let's Knit came out on Friday and our knitting group is featured:


When we first set up the club Let's Knit sent us a lovely goodie bag of knitting supplies to get us started - if you're setting up your own group in the UK you can join the Let's Knit Local network HERE.


I've not done much knitting recently (it's so hard to find the time at the moment) but flicking through the projects in the magazine is getting me inspired again, especially the free pattern booklet full of "winter warmers". Please remember to nag me if I don't mention having done some knitting soon!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Book Review: Stitch!

Do you like sewing? And are you a fan of Cath Kidston's vintage-inspired designs?

If you answered "yes" to both of those the publication of this book will make you very happy:



Stitch! by Cath Kidston features 30 needlepoint and cross stitch projects using classic Cath Kidston motifs... and there's a free kit included in the book to make the purse shown on the cover.

The book begins with what looks like a pretty comprehensive "how to" guide to the different needlecraft techniques and materials involved in the book, but it's not just aimed at beginners. The projects range from small things like badges and lavender hearts to "labour of love" projects like a rug and a seat cushion, and each project is rated by difficulty.


Motifs include sailboats, cherries, terriers, a cowboy, stripes and spots, a union jack and lots and lots of florals...

As I said before, I think if you're a crafty Cath Kidston fan you'll love this. If you can't stand her, steer clear!

And for the people who're somewhere inbetween?

Well, I'm not the world's biggest Cath Kidston fan by any means but I do like this book. I think that at their best her designs are a great mix of chintzy/traditional and bright/modern, without being either too old fashioned or too trendy, and this book does that very well.

It feels like a fresh introduction to a traditional craft, and though I might not want to make all the projects in it some of them are really, really lovely, and the motifs featured could be adapted for use in all sorts of sewing projects... and (of course) could be sewn in in any colours you fancy.

Stitch! is published by Quadrille.

(Disclaimer: Quadrille sent me a free review copy of this book, and the product links to Amazon are affiliate links)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Interview in Popular Crafts

The postie brought me lovely post this morning - a copy of the latest issue of Popular Crafts magazine...


It's the Christmas issue, jam-packed with 37 festive crafting projects and oh look - there's an interview with me on page 63 :)


As I mentioned last week it's always exciting seeing things I've made in real, tangible, available-in-newsagents magazines. I love the internet (of course) and I'm always super-delighted with any features I've had in blogs online, etc, but there's always something extra thrilling about having something to put on a shelf and to take home to show your mum.

(It's always dead weird opening a magazine and seeing my own face looking back at me, though!)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kirstie's Homemade Hmmm....

"Hmmm" is mostly how I'm feeling about the new series of Kirstie's Homemade Home that's being shown this month on Channel 4.

I really enjoyed the first series - you can read my original blog post about it HERE if you like - I don't find Kirstie "posh and annoying" like I know a lot of people do, it was exciting to see craftsmen and women showing her how to make stuff (people making things! on the telly!) and it was super refreshing to see a program that presented DIY and vintage shopping as a consumer option with more personality and specialness to it rather than just as a way to save money.

But this series? Hmm.

The first episode (shown last week) felt very underwhelming. Partly I think this is because they've changed the format to Kirstie doing up her own house to the more standard "home makeover" format of helping a nice couple "transform" their house with some telly magic, complete with lots of scenes of Kirstie standing around at antiques markets banging on about how much of a "bargain" this that or the other item was compared to the high street. Yawn.

It was also in a large part because they repeated so many crafts / features from last year: they visited the same reclamation yard as last year, made stained glass with the same stained glass artist, and made book ends with the same blacksmith as last year.

There were some new crafts and crafters featured in thie second episode, and some were great (Angel from Tobias and the Angel teaching Kirstie how to make a patchwork cushion) and some not so great (visiting the same candlemaker as last year to make a rather hideous shell lantern)... but it's still left me feeling a bit "hmm" about it all.

I'm still going to be watching the show every week (because even a teeny bit of crafting on telly is better than none, plus I'm excited to see the lovely Manda teach Kirsty to make a beanbag later in the series!) but I think perhaps I need to admit that from my crafting-obsessed viewpoint I'm not the ideal target audience for a show like this!

If you've missed any episodes this series, the last one and the Christmas specials are all currently available to watch on 4OD and you can see lots of how tos and video clips from the show HERE.

Have you been watching this series? What do you think of it?

Monday, 8 November 2010

Fuzzy Goodness

Oh my goodness I've been busy this week!

I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule soon I promise, but in the meantime please join me in oohing over the cuteness of these mini pompoms:


They're 2cms wide each, so adorable and available from the always awesome Big Fish over on Etsy.

Any ideas for what I should make with them when the madness of this week has passed?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Teeny Snowflakes

Another treat bought on my London shopping trip - adorable mini stamp sets from Muji:


Muji always have the loveliest things for sale at Christmas, it's always so hard to choose what to buy. It took much umming and aaahing to settle on these but a) I thought they would be super useful for decorating gift tags etc b) I've wanted an alphabet stamp kit for ages and c) those teeny snowflakes may possibly be the best thing ever.

Which reminds me, I must make a start on my festive crafting... (how is it November already??)

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