Monday, 31 October 2011

Giveaway Winners + A Look Inside My Book


There were an amazing 349 comments on the Stitch Craft Create giveaway! Wow. The two lucky winners (chosen at random) are:

Radish's Mum, who said... OOOOhhh me me me pretty please :-) Am already getting my Christmas projects underway.

and Fay aka Beautifullily, who said... That looks like a gorgeous magazine, would love to win a copy.

Thanks again to the folks at Stitch Craft Create for the giveaway copies!

In other news... you can now "look inside" my book, Super-Cute Felt, over on Amazon UK. I love using this feature when buying craft books online as it enables you to get a much better idea of the mix of projects in a book before you buy it.

You can check out the first and last few pages of my book and if you've got an account with the site you can sign in and click "surprise me" to view more randomly selected pages and get a more detailed look at some of the projects. Hurrah!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Everything is going to be Amazing

Life is a funny old thing.

Five years ago I was unemployed due to long-term illness. I was bored, frustrated and a bit miserable.

That autumn I got the flu and was stuck in bed for a few weeks, and knitted lots of little hats for the Big Knit to keep myself entertained. I enjoyed making them so much that I started looking on the internet for crafty things to make and do, including ideas for felt ornaments that I could sew to give to our friends that Christmas.

While searching I found Flickr, which seemed to be jam packed with people making fantastic things. Lots of people linked to this mysterious thing called Etsy in their Flickr profiles... and wow! there was this whole site where people were selling their handmade things!

I made it my New Year's Resolution to set up my own Etsy shop, and started this blog soon afterwards (mostly because everyone else seemed to have one)...

... and somehow five years later here I am with a full time job designing / making / selling and writing about crafty things, loads of wonderful crafty friends and my very own book!

Basically what I'm trying to say is you never know where life is going to lead you, and what awesome and interesting new adventures are waiting around the corner. With this in mind, and inspired by this design by Olly Moss, my motto during this chaotic and stressful month has been "everything is going to be AMAZING... I'm just not sure exactly how yet!"

And of course, being totally craft obsessed, I couldn't resist turning it into little cross stitch sampler :)


This was a wonderfully theraputic project - first the challenge of getting the lettering just right when I was planning it out on graph paper (okay so there may have been a bit of cussing involved in this stage, but it was hugely satisfying when it was finally finished!) and then all those lovely relaxing hours of stitching.

I'm rather pleased with how it turned out... although I'm thinking that maybe it needs some sort of border added to it to make it look a bit more "finished". What do you think?


I'll be sharing the chart later this week so you can stitch your own optimistic sampler if you fancy one :)

UPDATE: you can download the chart here

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Guest Post: Felt Owl Crafternoon

Today's guest post is by Laura from Betula`Loo, about the fun crafternoon she & some friends had using my felt owl tutorial. Laura says... "I love to make things with paper and fabric. I write a blog and I have a small Etsy shop. As well as craft projects I like to share travel, running & triathlon experiences on my blog."


I have long wanted to host a “Crafternoon” and finally got around to organizing one this autumn. Laura’s stuffed owl project was perfect for our crafting get together – I love anything involving felt and Amy loves anything with owls so this was a great combination. I loved this owl pattern when I first saw it and having a Crafternoon was a great reason to sew one!

We quickly got to work cutting out the paper patterns and picking out which colours of felt to use. This turned out to be the most difficult part! We had lots of colours to choose from and so many combinations were going to look good!


Cutting and sewing the owls took us an evening, including a break for tea and cake. We had wanted to sew the owl brooches too but ran out of time so I sent the girls home with bits of felt and thread so they could sew them at home. (Who doesn’t love leaving a party with a treat bag?) I made my small owl based on the colours of two big owls, as though this is their baby.


The owls all turned out really cute and colourful. Some of us named ours (meet Gertie and Howard) and Lauren added a ribbon hanger to hers so she can hang it in her nursery!


If you’d like to make your own stuffed owl or owl brooch both tutorials can be found on this blog. If you sew your own try taping the pattern pieces to the felt before you cut them out – it’s a lot less fiddly then trying to hold them in place! And then use a little white glue to hold tiny pieces – the ones too small to pin – in place as you sew.

Thanks for the great patterns Laura! They were easy to follow and the owls turned out absolutely adorable.

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Check out Laura's Etsy shop and blog, and visit my free tutorials page for lots of fun projects if you fancy holding a crafternoon of your own.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Guest Post: Learn To Sew - Pillowcase Tutorial

Time for another crafty guest post! Today's post is a great tutorial for sewing your own pillowcases, from Susie of Flower Press.

Susie is based in Sydney, Australia where she her sells her original screenprinted textiles through her business Flower Press. These include tea towels, cushion covers and yardage. She loves textiles, vintage, colour, art, printing, gardening, books and crafting. Lately she's been seeing patterns in her sleep and she's hoping to turn some of these into actual fabric soon!

pillowcase tutorial
pillowcase tutorial
pillowcase tutorial

I'm a big fan of all textiles so I love bed linen and I love to mix and match my prints and patterns. I find pillowcases are a great way to change a look. They are also a wonderfully simple sewing project - simple and a bit addictive. And its a great way to use and admire your stash! I whipped up the gingham case this morning with its vintage sheet trim to test my tutorial, the other cases are made from my Marbles and Triangle Twist fabrics.

When I looked for a tutorial I couldn't find one that had the features I wanted and that was for local sizes, so I've made my own. I hope you find it useful. This pattern has a double thickness cuff, which you can sew in a contrasting print like I have here, and an internal flap to keep the pillow inside hidden. Also a bit of trickiness at the end hides all the seams at the opening and gives a lovely neat finish (photo above).

Pillowcase Tutorial

Fabric

All measurements are in inches as I used my quilting ruler and rotary cutter to cut the pattern pieces. All seams are 1/2 inch unless otherwise stated.

You will need three pattern pieces, Front, Back and Cuff. Measurements below. Keep in mind the final positioning before cutting if your fabrics are directional, like some of mine. I've used measurements for standard Australian pillows (finished size ends up as 28 x 1712) but I've done some research on the standard sizes in the US and UK too, so you can adapt the tutorial to where you live. However, best to check your own pillowcases before you start to see if these are relevant. Its not too hard to adapt if not.

pillowcase table

Method
pillowcase diagram

1.
Cut three pattern pieces - Front, Back and Cuff.

Fold Cuff fabric in half lengthwise, right sides out and press.

2. Lay Front piece of fabric right side up (directional print in final position). Place Cuff fabric with fold on the left on top of the Front piece with right (cut) sides aligned. Pin.

pillowcase tute

3. Sew along seam.

4. If you have an overlocker, overlock or serge the seam. Alternatively zig zag along the raw edge.

pillowcase tute

5. Open out cuff and press flat. Press seam towards Cuff side.

6. Overstitch along cuff fabric (I use my 1/4 inch foot against the fold to get a neat straight seam.

My creation

7. The finished overstitching gives a neat look.

8. Take the back piece and press over a 1/2 inch seam, then turn and press again. Sew. This is the flap hem.

pillowcase tute

9. Take the back piece and lay it down, right side up with the flap hem you've just sewn on the far right. Lay the front, right side down on top of it, left edges aligned and with the cuff fabric on the right.

pillowcase

10. Fold the extra length of the Back piece over the Front piece to form the flap. This is the trickiness which hides this seam in the final pillowcase. Try and make sure it is square and fold hard against the cuff underneath.

pillowcase

11. Pin the seams on the bottom, left and top.

12. Sew around side and bottom edges with 1/2 inch seam and then overlock or zigzag around the raw seam to finish.

pillowcase tute

13. Turn the pillowcase out the right way and voila, all done!

PT13

I hope this tutorial inspires you to make some pillowcases! They would be a great way to add some spring freshness to the house. I bought the gingham for about $3 a metre on special, the vintage is a swap so it doesn't need to be expensive.

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You can buy Susie's designs (including that cute marble print fabric) from her Etsy shop, or read more about her and her work over on her blog.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Giveaway: Stitch Craft Create Magazine

The lovely folks at Stitch Craft Create sent me three copies of the magazine, so that means I've got two to give away! Hurrah :)


The launch issue is totally gorgeous: 130 pages jam-packed with crafty projects for the festive season including wreaths, gift-wrapping ideas, ornaments, stockings, jewellery and cookies. I showed my Christmas-obsessed sister a copy and she ooohed over it for ages!

For your chance to win a copy, just leave a comment on this blog post. I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Leave your comment before 10pm on Sunday 30th October (UK time) and I'll pick two winners at random on Monday 31st October.

Please leave a name or pseudonym - no anonymous comments please! - and include a blog link, Twitter or Etsy username or email address so I can contact you (if I'm unable to contact the winner within two weeks, I will have to pick someone else so please make sure you leave a way for me to get in touch).

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed.

Giant Button Love

I got two lovely bits of button-themed post recently...

First up: the launch issue of Stitch Craft Create, a new magazine from the publishers of Sew Beautiful. It's filled with fresh festive projects, and features the giant buttons I sell in my shops on several of its pages...


My 3inch wooden buttons make an appearance in the "crafter's stocking"...

... and in the fun "Christmas button bash" feature which includes ideas for button-y party invites, food, gift-wrap and decor.


My 5inch wooden buttons also make an appearance in the button party:


You can read more about the launch issue of Stitch Craft Create over on their website. You can find it on newsstands in most craft, hobby and bookstores across the US now, or order a copy online. (If you're not in the US, don't despair! Check out my next post for your chance to win a copy...)

And what was my second bit of button-themed post? One of these babies:


Just look at the size of that button! It's a wooden trivet by German designers Snug Studio, measuring a massive 25cms (10inches) across.

I don't even have a kitchen of my own at the moment & all my other cooking equipment is packed up in boxes but how could I resist such wondrousness? Simply put: I couldn't.


I bought my trivet from their DaWanda shop after spotting it in the DaWanda winter Lovebook but you can also shop from them over on Etsy.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Guest Post: Vintage Love - Clothkits Puppets

Today I'm sharing a post from Nicola of Pouch about Clothkits, a much-loved British company that's recently had a revival. Nicola says... "I love vintage fabric and crafting eco friendly products. Via my online store, I sell a range of vintage fabric bags, purses, accessories and housewares. I also like to blog about vintage finds, my latest crafting project, share interesting eco websites and champion the handmade movement here in the UK and worldwide."

I love these vintage handmade puppets, not just because they are bright and well designed, but because my Mum made them for me and my brother to play with. I am a pretty sentimental person, and these puppets bring back lots of happy memories, particularly of my Mum sewing at the dining table. They are designed by Clothkits and date from late early 1980s. Clothkits was a big part of our childhood, my Mum regularly ordered kits to make clothes for herself and for me. I remember the pre-printed fabric arriving through the post, my Mum would pour over the instructions and then the sewing machine came out...

Alongside clothes, Clothkits also made toys. This set of four puppets features a lion, an elephant, a tiger and a clown. They are bright and chunky and really appeal to small children. So much so that my brother's daughter regularly performs puppet shows at Grandma's house. Now I have my own daughter, she has also grown to love these puppets, either playing with them herself or watching one of the many shows performed by her cousin. My brother's daughter has had us all in stitches with her stories, which mainly revolve around the fact the lion cannot be King of the Jungle because he is wearing a vest. Its amazing how much fun children can have with four simple puppets and lots of imagination...

Clothkits is such a brilliant business model, as it says on their website they sell "well designed clothes without the fuss of paper patterns. All the cutting lines are printed directly on the fabric in a simple format that means even the inexperienced can make garments with ease."

I'm so glad the company has had something of a revival since 2008, it would a shame to lose a business that plays such an important part in my generation's memories. They even have a lovely collection of archive photos uploaded by members of the public on their website. It's worth having a look to see if you recognise anything you wore as a child!

And with the growing popularity of 'make do and mend' and sewing in general, a whole new generation of people are falling in love with the company.

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Visit Nicola's shop to buy cushions, bags and cute lavender animals made with vintage fabric, or check out her blog to read more about her favourite thrifted finds.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Guest Post: DIY Playdough Tutorial

Today's guest post is a tutorial by Zoe from Scented Sweetpeas. Zoe says... "I am a Mum of 3 kiddies who made a New Year’s Resolution in 2010 to get back the creative side of me which I lost when having the kids (well apart from kiddies projects!). This has taken me down many routes from soap making, creating pretty felt things, calligraphy, crochet and sewing. I am also into eco-living and growing things down our allotment, collecting eggs from our chickens and hopefully harvesting our first honey from our bees very soon."

How to make your own playdough


A little while ago I made playdough for my children for the first time ever, why oh why didn’t I try years ago, it was so easy! I have since made it many times so thought I would share the recipe here at Bugs and Fishes by Lupin.


After much searching in books, on the web and chatting to other parents, here is the recipe I found had the best results.

All you need is:

A cup of warm water
A cup of flour
1 teaspoon of oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (found this is the cake making section of Tesco after looking for ages)
1/4 cup of salt
Food colouring

All you need to do is mix these ingredients into a pan and then start to warm it up. If you want to make a couple of different colours of playdough don’t add the colouring just yet but wait until the end.

Keep stirring and it gets really sticky and hard to stir, when nearly all the water has evaporated take it off the heat. Let it cool and then take it out of the pan.


I then added a little glitter to mine, you can never have too much sparkle in your life :-) (make sure you use edible cake glitter for this!).


You can then knead in the food colouring if you did not add this at the first stage. You can cut it into as many pieces as you like dependent on how many colours you want to make. I cut mine in to two so that my little girl could learn 2 new colours - I think 4 at once would just confuse her brain. I also used paste food colouring that I bought off e-bay to make cakes with, it is edible so is safe.

Here are the red and blue balls I made.


Just store them in an airtight container. My children (and I :-)), no matter how old, love playing with this. Be warned however, make sure your little ones don't eat it too much of it. My middle child loved to taste everything, once when she was at pre-school she came home and pooed bright green for 2 days - when I asked what had she eaten she replied 'playdough', when I asked why they hadn't stopped her she replied 'I hid under the table to eat it' :-). It is quite salty so I am surprised it didn't make her ill.

Really do give this a go if you have little ones, I wish I had tried it so much sooner!


Recently I posted about how I am really enjoying creating gifts rather than buying them and used this recipe to create a present for a friend’s child.

My friend has 4 kiddies so I know she doesn't want toys/gifts that fill the house :-) I had a little brain-wave (very rare in my brain and I was surprised it didn't hurt :-)) to use 1 of the many coffee jars I had been saving for something (not sure what but they are too nice the throw out) as a jar to keep some of this sparkly playdough in.

I made two balls of this sparkly playdough for my friends little boy and then decorated the jar with stars. I added a little label in the shape of a rocket with a note on the back saying 'Arthur's Cosmic Playdough'.


You could give this gift on its own or with some cookie or playdough cutters and a bit of oilcloth as a playdough mat. You could also adapt it for girly girls with pink playdough and a girly theme.

This was a real hit, he really loved it and his Mum was chuffed too as it doesn't take up much room and keeps him amused for ages :-)

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Visit Zoe's blog, or check out her Facebook page where she sells lots of pretty felt things.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Guest Post: Mini Fabric Banner Tutorial

Today's post is a tutorial for making cute mini bunting, from Nancy who runs an Etsy shop called goshery (gosh - ery). Nancy loves paper and spends her free time making mini albums, embellishments, gift tags, cards and other paper goods to sell in her shop. She also enjoys writing a blog about her craft projects and her life in a small town in Minnesota.


Today I'm going to walk you through the steps to make a fabric banner like the one shown above, which is included in the Oh Boy mini album kit for sale in my shop. You could certainly add more fabric pieces to make the banner longer depending on how you will use it, but I don't think it would be a good idea to have less than three pieces.

For this project you will need the following:
  • fabric
  • banner template
  • thread
  • needle
  • ribbon
  • scissor
  • buttons (optional)

Start by gathering some fabric to use; in this case I'm using some recycled denim. You will also need a template to use to cut out your shapes. I found a template online for a banner, but it was much larger than I wanted. I used a copy machine to shrink the image to about the size I wanted, then trimmed it down a bit until it was just the right size. You could also free hand cut a template.

Once you have your template ready trace it onto the back size of the fabric and then cut out the pieces. In my case I was making 20 banners with 3 pieces on each banner so I had to cut out 60 pieces.


If you are using patterned fabric you might just want to leave it as it, but in my case I wanted to add some colorful buttons so I sewed them onto each piece. It helps if you have a good movie to watch while you do this!


Chose a ribbon that works well with your fabric and cut it to the appropriate length. I layed my three denim pieces down and then layed the ribbon on top of them and cut to a length I thought would work well for my project. I planned to pin the pieces to the ribbon, but that turned out to be unnecessary and extra work. Instead I just lined the ribbon up with the top of the fabric piece and held it in place.

I used a single strand of thread that I doubled up so I didn't have a knot in the back. Start in the back and pull the needle through but not all the way, then when you push your needle back through pass the needle through the loop in the back to secure the thread. As I sewed I moved my thumb along to guide the needle and held the ribbon tight to the fabric.


Once the first piece is sewn on lay the ribbon on top of the second piece, making sure the corners of the two pieces are touching. Then sew on the second piece and repeat the steps to sewn on the third piece (continue if you are making a longer banner).

One thing I learned as I was busy sewing is that I really would like to have a thimble. Who would have thought I would ever say that??!! It would be useful because my pointer finger already has many little puncture marks and I'm only half done sewing my banners.


This is a fun project that makes a great accent on a scrapbook page and I'm sure would look cute on a card too.

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Visit Nancy's SHOP to check out her range of paper goods, and read more about her crafty projects over on her BLOG.

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