Monday, 30 January 2012

A Sneak Peek + A Special Offer

Today there was just enough sunshine to finish and photograph a couple more projects that I should (hopefully) have ready to share with you later this week.

Here's a sneak peek at one of them - when I was framing it in the mini embroidery hoop, I needed something to help hold all the felt in place while the glue dried and this little jar of mustard was the perfect size:


I thought you might also like to know that there's a special offer running in my Etsy shop this week - buy three things from my sale section and get the cheapest item free! You get a bargain, I get more room in my shop for exciting new things... it's win win :)

You can either buy three things and I'll refund the price of the cheapest item, or buy two and leave me a note during checkout to say which listing you'd like as your third item. The offer ends at midnight UK time this Saturday (4th Feb) and only applies to items marked on sale in my Etsy shop. Click here to check out all the goodies in my Etsy sale section.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

DIY Mini Envelope Valentine

This is a very simple project but I rather like it! It's a similar idea to the Valentine's garland I posted yesterday...


... a Valentine's Day card with a little semi-transparent envelope on the front, into which you can tuck a folded love letter, or the tickets you've bought to a concert/play/exhibition/etc for a romantic Valentine's surprise.

You could also make one for your anniversary, or use it as a more personal way to present a gift card you've bought a couple as a wedding gift. 


1. Cut out a red heart from felt, paper or card using the heart template from this tutorial.

2. Stick the heart onto the front of a mini glassine envelope using double-sided tape. Make sure you leave enough room at the top of the envelope to fold it over.


If you can't get hold of any glassine envelopes, you could make your own see-through envelope using tracing paper. Search online for an envelope template you like, cut and fold the tracing paper to form the envelope and stick it together with double-sided tape.

3. Insert the love letter / tickets / gift card / etc into the envelope.

If you don't want to fold important tickets to fit the envelope (or, like me, you're a bit fussy and don't like how the colour of them clashes with the rest of the card) use a photocopier or a scanner to make a black and white copy of the ticket and add that to the envelope instead.

4. Fold over the top of the envelope, and position it roughly in the centre of your blank card - I used bright red card, but white would also look great and make the red heart stand out even more. Then stick the envelope in position with a piece of patterned washi tape (Japanese masking tape), torn at each end.


Please note: this tutorial is for non-commercial use only. You may borrow one or two photos if you want to blog about my projects but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce entire tutorials on your site. Thanks!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

DIY Valentine Love Notes Garland

Today's tutorial is a Valentine's garland, made with mini envelopes.


It's a variation on the advent garland I made a couple of years ago...


... but instead of having an envelope for each day leading up until Christmas, there's an envelope for the first 14 days of February, each one with a little love note or other special something tucked inside.

To make the garland, you will need:

- 14 mini envelopes
- washi tape (Japanese masking tape) & pretty doilies, or patterned paper, cute stickers, etc, basically anything you fancy using to decorate the envelopes
- red felt and the heart template from this tutorial
- glue and double-sided tape for securing all your decorative details in place
- scissors and a pen (I used one with red ink)
- mini pegs and a length of twine, ribbon or cord for displaying the envelopes as a garland

1) Cut out 14 hearts from red felt 

2) Decorate the front of each envelope with washi tape, doilies or other pretty things. 

I cut strips of tape that were slightly longer than the envelope, then turned the envelope over and trimmed the excess tape with scissors.


To stick the doilies, I placed the doily face down on a piece of scrap paper and carefully dabbed it with a glue stick, covering only the area I'd need with glue. I then carefully peeled the doily from the paper, lightly positioned it on the envelope and pressed down to secure it in place.


3) Then use double-sided tape to stick a felt heart in the centre of each envelope, and write the dates Feb 1st to Feb 14th (or just the numbers 1 - 14) on the envelopes. 





4) Write a little love note or choose other special bits and pieces to tuck in each envelope - a copy of a special photo, maybe, or little gifts... or you could write a longer love letter and cut it into 14 pieces, so it can be assembled piece by piece over the 14 days ... or, if you're planning a special evening or trip for Valentine's Day you could put in 13 clues to what you're doing / where you're going, and then on Valentine's Day itself write a note revealing your plans


5) Finally, use the mini pegs and twine / cord to display the garland. 



Please note: this tutorial is for non-commercial use only. You may borrow one or two photos if you want to blog about my projects but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce entire tutorials on your site. Thanks!

Like doilies? Why not decorate your gifts with doilies, or use a whole pack to make a pretty doily curtain to add to your spring decor?.

Friday, 27 January 2012

DIY "Owl Always Love You" Valentine's Day Card

I've been working on a few Valentine-themed projects this week, and will be posting them gradually over the next week or so. I hope you'll enjoy them! :)

First up, a cute card for Valentine's day (or your anniversary), featuring two owls, a heart, and a very silly pun...


You can make this with felt, like I did, or use coloured paper if you prefer. The owls are made using the templates from my owl brooch tutorial, then I just drew a heart the size I needed to fit in the gap, cut it out, and used that as the heart template when cutting out my felt. 

If you're using paper, turn your templates over and draw around them onto the back of your chosen paper with a sharp pencil, then when you turn the cut out shapes over all your pencil lines will be hidden. 

Position the pieces on the card one by one and carefully glue them in place with a glue stick. You can use goggly eyes (glue these in place with a small dab of craft glue) or cut out white paper circles and draw the pupils on with black marker / felt tip pen (perhaps drawing them slightly off-centre to make it look like the owls are looking at each other). 


If you're using felt, pin or hold the templates in place to cut out all the pieces. You could sew the wings, beaks and eyes in position (as seen in steps 3 + 4 of the brooch tutorial, sewing a small piece of felt or a black bead for each pupil), or just use craft glue to attach the wings and beak and pairs of goggly eyes. 

Position the owls and the heart onto the card how you want them, and then stick them in place with small pieces of double sided tape - craft glue would also work, but it can distort the card slightly.

Finally, write "owl always love you" or your own choice of message underneath the owls in your best handwriting. You may find it helpful to write it in pencil first to help you get the words centred nicely, then just erase the pencil marks once the ink has completely dried. If you've used paper for your owls you could also draw a few extra details on them if you wanted, like feathers on their bellies or wings. 


Please note: this tutorial is for non-commercial use only. You may borrow one or two photos if you want to blog about my projects but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce entire tutorials on your site. Thanks!

Love owls? Check out my plush owl tutorial

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Rainbow Ribbon

Check out the yummy, colourful ribbons that arrived yesterday!


I'll mostly be using them to tie the colour-themed felt bundles I sell in my shops, but they'll be a useful addition to my supplies stash too.

It was quite hard to resist the urge to buy a reel of every colour available, but I was strong :)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Red and Blue

A quick snap of some work in progress this week...


... lots of red poppies which will become brooches and headbands.

I love those blue Dorcas pin tins. I've got two of them, this one was a hand-me-down from my mother and the other (which is the same design, just larger) was my grandmother's. Very special things.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Another Old Project

You've probably noticed a bit of an "old works-in-progress" theme developing on my blog this month...

I've been sorting through lots of boxes over the past few weeks - decluttering a bit, re-organising all my crafty stuff so I can store it neatly in my new studio, and taking a long hard look at neglected old projects to work out how best to breathe new crafty life into them.


These stripey fabric panels were in the same under-the-spare-bed suitcase as the half-finished quilt.

I made them when I was about 18 I think, and they may have been planned as cushions or perhaps just textile-y bits of art to decorate my room, who knows? I remember making them, but not what I was actually making them for!


There's three of them - a large blue one (about 56cm / 22inches wide) and two smaller white and pink ones (33cm / 13 inches wide). Each piece is a plain bit of fabric, decorated with strips of fabric, ribbons, trimmings, beads, buttons, pieces of felt and other crafty stuff, all hand stitched in place to form a stripe-y pattern.


The blue and white one also includes stripes made from bubble-wrap and a piece of j-cloth, which I think my 18 year old self probably thought was really really cool. 

I probably pulled the same face looking at those particular sections as my mother no doubt did all those years ago when I waved it at her enthusiastically. Ah, I'm getting so old!


As with the old quilt, I have a whole bundle of mixed emotions about these and am very unsure about what (if anything) I should do with them. I'm going to put them aside and think about it for a while, but any suggestions would be very welcome :)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Simple Squares

I'm still spending a lot of my evenings watching rubbish telly & doing some knitting.

I've mainly been knitting blanket squares in basic garter stitch which is really not the world's most fascinating craft project but totally perfect for those times when you just need to switch your brain off for a few hours after work and totally relax.

I've been knitting my daily sky blanket square...


... and also working on a knitting project that has been "in progress" for at least 10 years. 

I knitted a couple of blankets many years ago and I'm not sure if I knitted too many squares, or had decided to start a third blanket, or what other mysterious plan was going through my head, but basically I ended up with a few dozen squares which became another one of those "random craft projects that Laura has had stashed under her bed since she was a teenager". 

Last year I started knitting up all the random balls of double-knit yarn in my stash into squares to match the old ones. The general plan is to use up the random yarn, and then buy a few extra balls in coordinating colours, and (eventually) end up with a finished blanket or two. 

Most of the squares are the same size, and will become one blanket...


... but there are also a few smaller ones knitted from slightly lighter weight yarn, which will be another blanket (which seems destined to be quite bright and cheerful based on the colours knitted up thus far!)...


... and a few much larger ones which my teenage self seems to have knitted on larger needles to the rest of the squares (I'd like to give myself the benefit of the doubt and say this was deliberate but it probably wasn't). I did briefly contemplate knitting three blankets but then I thought that might drive me a bit insane, so instead I'll be unravelling these few larger squares and re-knitting them on smaller needles:


Here's a snap of the crate in which I'm keeping the in-progress squares and soon-to-be-knitted balls of yarn:


The small squares in the bag are tiny moss stitch squares I'm knitting with all the leftover bits of yarn that are too small to be knitted into the larger squares. I don't know what I'm going to use them all for, but waste not want not, right?


Friday, 20 January 2012

Tax Time

This week has mostly been filled with spreadsheets as I've been finishing my accounts. So boring!

My brain feels a little broken now, but normal crafty service should be resumed shortly :)

In the meantime, here's a quick snap of my assistant "helping" me print out some paperwork...


Monday, 16 January 2012

I Need More Walls

I've begun the long process of umming and aahing and arranging and rearranging that will end (eventually) with me having lots of lovely pictures on the walls in my bedroom and new studio space...

I got out all my artwork at the weekend, spread most of the smaller pieces out across my studio floor and spent a lazy few hours sorting them by colour, thinking about possible arrangements and measuring the unframed prints and posters ready for some frame-shopping.


These slightly blurry photos were taken for reference so I won't have to spread them all out on the floor like this again!


They are basically photographic evidence that Etsy is a very dangerous place - most of my "proper" art (not just postcards and pages from old books or magazines that I couldn't resist framing) has been bought via Etsy. I am forever finding awesome new artists on there to add to my "favourites", and as you can see I've already got more prints than I know what to do with. Oh well :)


(If you click on the photos you can see them on Flickr, where I've added some notes with the artists names in case people see something they like... if there's something I've not labelled, just give me a shout!)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Crafty Projects for Valentine's Day

Whether you're planning a really romantic day on Feburary 14th, or just fancy some cute heart-themed crafting, hopefully you'll find a bit of creative inspiration in this project round-up from my tutorial archive...

Sew some felt heart brooches (these would also make sweet hair clips!)


 Embroider a romantic wall hanging with a faux woodgrain design:
 

Sew little felt heart ornaments - these would look very cute in candy colours, maybe hanging from some spring twigs in a vase.


Make a cute pillow (cushion) decorated with a heart and lots of colourful buttons:


(This project was originally designed for weddings, as a ring-bearer pillow, but if you just leave off the ribbon it makes a cute mini pillow to add to your decor. Instead of sewing a strip of felt at the back for carrying the pillow, sew a square or rectangle sewn along three sides to make a little pocket and tuck in a love note or other special message before giving it as a gift)

Sew felt lavender sachets decorated with a heart on one side (using the template from this tutorial) and pretty ribbons and buttons on the other:



Make sweet and simple Valentine's cards or invites to a Valentine's Day party decorated with felt hearts (great for using up scraps leftover from other projects!) ...


... or hearts cut from pictures in magazines, sheet music or other patterned papers:


You can also add hearts to your gift wrapping:




Hosting a Valentine's Day party? Here are a few more ideas that could be easily adapted to fit the theme...

Use large sugar paper (construction paper) hearts instead of butterflies to make a pretty paper doily curtain or mobile:



Add little felt hearts to this felt bunting project to make a Valentine's decoration you can use year after year:


Or use hearts cut from coloured card instead of the butterflies in this tutorial to make napkin rings and cake toppers (the napkin rings would look extra cute if you cut a scalloped edge around the heart, as seen in this tutorial).



P.S. if you're planning some Valentine-inspired crafting, my Valentine's Felt Packs are now back in my Etsy shop :)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

An Almost-Quilt

While sorting out a stash of random crafty bits and bobs that have lived in a suitcase under the spare bed for many years, I found a project so old that I'd almost entirely forgotten about it: a half-finished quilt!


I started making this quilt when I first started University about 10 years ago, using whatever cheap fabric I could get my hands on at the time and not really having a clue what I was doing - just cutting up bits of fabric and sewing them together rather haphazardly.

(During my student days I also knitted scarves, started a literary society, formed a baking club in my student hall, and hosted colouring-in sessions & Trivial Pursuit parties. Such wild times! Haha.)


The quilt top is about three-quarters finished (all hand stitched!), but there's still a huge amount of work still left to do.

Plus the fabrics are likely all different fibre blends and some pre-washed and some not (which is probably a disaster waiting to happen) and - perhaps most importantly - I think it's rather hideous so I've not got a huge amount of incentive to finish it.



But the thought of (gasp) just throwing it away makes me shudder, so finished it must be.

I'm thinking perhaps about making it slightly smaller than originally planned (abandoning those un-sewn squares) and maybe using a grass-stain friendly fabric for the backing so I could use it as a picnic blanket??

I've got so many other works-in-progress on the go at the moment that I won't be getting to this one any time soon, but it would be nice to come up with a plan so that I can get stitching when I do have time for it, and not end up with it still stashed in a box somewhere in another 10 years time!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Cosy Sisters

I knitted scarves for my sisters this Christmas... 

They got a long loop scarf each, knitted from fluffy faux-mohair yarn. One in black, and one in cloudy-blue...


... (the blue scarf can be seen in-progress here). I also knitted a third one for myself in a bright peacock-ish green. It is very very cosy but a ridiculously difficult colour to photograph! 

Then the moss green cowl I was knitting for myself turned out to have too high a wool content for me to wear it happily (when will I learn?) so instead it ended up being two cowls, one for each sister :)


Monday, 9 January 2012

Works in Progress

I've started my sky blanket! So much fun. 


The weather is so changeable at the moment that the sky can look totally different within five minutes, so I'm looking out of the window / up at the sky at midday each day and using the weather at that moment as my guide for the day's colours. It's fascinating how many creative choices are involved in translating the English weather into a mere two colours.

I've been noting down my colour choices on my calendar (a pretty one I got free with the craft magazine Mollie Makes at the end of last year) so I can knit the squares in the evening, and (most importantly) keep track of what square matches what day so I'll sew them together in the right order!

I'm definitely in the mood for knitting at the moment. I'm still quite tired after the busy Christmas season, and am spending my evenings curled up on the sofa watching lots of TV and doing some simple knitting. 

My current project is a black scarf - basic garter stitch on big chunky needles, using one strand of soft faux-mohair yarn. Black is always a pain to work with in bad light, but this is so easy to knit that I barely need to look at it (bonus: I can read the subtitles while watching Borgen and still keep knitting, hurrah!) It's very light and fluffy, and quite wide but I'm not sure how long it will end up being yet.


Work-wise I'm mostly doing admin at the moment (yawn), but I have made a start on the slow process of getting restocked after Christmas - beginning with a pile of poppy brooches.


I've also been making some progress on those knitted cushion covers.

The new one is almost finished (all the squares sewn together, all the ends woven in). The two older ones (the pink and the blue) also needed a bit of work as when I first made them I rather short-sightedly stitched the cushion inserts inside them without any way of removing the covers for washing... They've now been unpicked & washed, and all three covers are getting a row of little snap fasteners along one edge so they can easily be removed in the future.


As if I hadn't already sewn in enough yarn ends this week (oh my gosh, so many bits of yarn), I've started sewing in the ends of this stripe-y something that was lurking in my WIP box...


 ... and I've come up with a project for using six of the remaining eight blanket squares leftover from making the knitted cushions. I'm sewing them together in matching pairs...


... then lining them in matching acrylic felt and adding a mini zip...


... to make little coin purses. I've just finished one so far, it was a bit of a "don't measure or plan, just sort of wing it" job, but it turned out quite nicely and the end result is pretty darn cute if I do say so myself. I popped a few of my business cards in this one to add a sense of scale for the photo, but when they're finished the three purses are destined to be gifts for my two sisters and for my mum (who, of course, will get first dibs). 


Now I just need to come up with a plan for the final two non-matching squares. Hmm...

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