Monday, 30 April 2012

Distractions

This blog, my sewing pile, my inbox and the rest of my "to do" list have all been a bit neglected this week due to some family stuff. I haven't even got around to updating the shipping charges in my shops yet! Oops.

I'm hoping to get back to my usual slightly irregular blogging schedule very soon but apologies in advance if posts are a bit sparse for the next couple of weeks.

I've not done much crafting this week, but I've done a bit of simple knitting and am keeping up to date with my sky blanket. These are today's colours...


... after a week of grey, rainy skies it's very nice to see a bit of bright blue back in the mix.

Oh and great news, Heart-Felt Holidays (which includes 6 projects designed by me) is now in stock on Amazon UK. Hurrah!


Browsing craft books on Amazon this weekend I was also delighted to see that my book, Super-Cute Felt, has been given some lovely reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon USA... and check out this customer image of a needlebook made from one of the patterns in the book! It's always so ace seeing what people have been making from my book.

P.S. if you've bought Super-Cute Felt or any of the books featuring some of my projects - like Heart-Felt Holidays, or Fa La La La Felt - and can spare the time to leave a review on Amazon, it would be much appreciated :)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Super-Cute Felt Giveaway Winner

A bit later than planned, it's finally time to announce the winner of the copy of my book, Super-Cute Felt.


The winner is: Saraccino, who said... Oh, I would love to get your book! :)


P.S. thanks for all the kind comments about my book, everyone xx

P.P.S. a quick heads up, Royal Mail postage prices will be going up early next week so I'll be updating my shipping charges in all my shops this weekend. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

How To: Felt Cloud Mobile

We've had lots of "April Showers" this week, so it seemed like a good time to share a tutorial for making a fun felt rain-cloud mobile. It's a perfect craft project for a rainy afternoon! 


There's two versions to choose from...

A happy cloud with cute button raindrops:



Or a sparkly cloud decorated with lots of sequins:



Or you can skip the decoration completely and make a simple mobile from plain felt shapes. (I decorated one side of my mobile with a smiley face & buttons, and the other side with sequins).

To make your mobile you will need...
- the templates provided at the bottom of this post
- turquoise or other blue felt to make raindrops
- grey or white felt for the cloud
- matching blue and grey/white sewing thread
- white or light blue ribbon
- polyester stuffing or felt/fabric scraps
- sewing scissors, pins, a needle

- for the happy cloud you will also need pretty blue buttons, black or navy blue embroidery thread/floss and a large needle
- for the sparkly cloud you will also need turquoise or other blue sequins, and a selection of silver sequins

1) Use the templates provided to cut out two cloud shapes from grey or white felt, and lots of blue raindrops. You'll need two teardrop-shaped pieces for each raindrop you want on your mobile (I cut out 14 shapes to make 7 raindrops).



2) Decorate one cloud shape - this will become the front of your mobile.

For the happy cloud, cut out two small blue circles to form the eyes and sew them in place with a couple of small stitches of dark embroidery thread/floss (black or navy blue). Use more of the embroidery thread to backstitch a smile. You could sew the smile freehand or draw it on in pencil first and then sew over the pencil line.

For the sparkly cloud, just sew on lots of silver sequins. You could use all one size and shape, or an assortment like I have, and use as many or as few sequins as you like in whatever arrangement you fancy! Use grey or white thread and three stitches per sequin. 

If you want to plan out the sequin arrangement before you sew them in place, lay out your sequins on the second felt cloud shape or the cloud template and transfer them to the first cloud shape one by one as you sew them in place. 


3) Decorate half your raindrops - either with blue buttons or blue sequins. Use matching blue thread to sew them in place, using three stitches per sequin and two or three stitches with double thickness thread per button.




4) Cut a length of narrow blue or white ribbon, fold it over to form a loop and sew it in place to the back of your decorated cloud piece using thread to match the felt cloud. I used 6mm wide ribbon & cut a piece of ribbon approx 32cms long.

Use whip stitches and sew slightly into the felt instead of all the way through it so your stitches don't show through on the front. Alternatively you can sew the ribbon loop to the undecorated backing cloud piece - make sure you sew it to the side which will be hidden when the two cloud shapes are sewn together!



5) Then cut three pieces of ribbon to sew your raindrops onto (I cut three 25cm lengths of ribbon). Make sure you include enough so your ribbon can overlap onto the felt cloud shape!

Arrange the raindrops how you want them, and then sew them in place along the ribbon. First sew the ribbon to one raindrop shape using thread to match the raindrops. As with sewing the loop to the cloud, use whip stitch sewing into the felt instead of through it.


Then put the second raindrop shape in place and sew them together by whip stitching around the edge with more matching thread. Finish your stitching as neatly as possible at the back of the raindrop, then move onto the next raindrop...



6) You should now have three strands of ribbon, with felt raindrops sewn onto them. Pin the ribbons in place so they're hanging from the bottom of one of your cloud pieces. It doesn't matter which cloud piece you sew them to, just make sure the decorate side of the raindrops is facing towards the side which will be the front of your mobile.


Sew the ribbons in place with whip stitch, remove the pins and trim any excess.



7) Put the front and back cloud pieces together so the "right" sides are facing outwards (i.e. the sides you want visible when the mobile is finished) and pin them together. Use matching white or grey thread to whip stitch around the edges (or use blanket stitch if you prefer) leaving a gap large enough for adding the stuffing in the next step.



8) Stuff the cloud lightly with polyester stuffing or small scraps of felt or fabric - just enough to give the cloud a nice shape without becoming overstuffed. I added small pieces of stuffing bit by bit to make sure each curve of the cloud had a bit of padding in it, and to ensure the cloud was evenly stuffed.

Then sew up the hole with more whip stitching (or blanket stitching) and finish your stitches neatly at the back. And you're finished!



Remember that all mobiles should be hung well out of reach of young children, and that if you hang your mobile in direct sunlight the felt will fade over time.

Double click the template / click to open it in a new tab / or click here in order to view it full size and print. To print the templates full size, make sure to set the image to print at 100% and your page to be "landscape".


This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many mobiles as you like for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don't make any for sale. It's okay to borrow a few 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 or sell it in any form. Thanks!

Like clouds but want to make something slightly smaller? Try this tutorial for a raincloud brooch.

Giveaway Winner: Zodiac Felties

It's time to announce the winner of the copy of Zodiac Felties which I reviewed last week.


The winner is...

Emma, who said: "Looking at the other comments, it seems I'm the first Sagittarius to enter! Lovely book :-)"

Thanks to everyone who entered! Remember there's still time to enter the giveaway to win a copy of my book, Super-Cute Felt.


P.S. Hello Janey Millar! You left a comment on the Sewing Made Simple giveaway asking about how to cut out neat felt shapes, but I couldn't find a way to get in touch with you to reply so I hope you see this. Please check out this post (and all the comments) about cutting out small felt shapes, hopefully you'll find it helpful but do let me know if you have any more questions :)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Sky Blanket, Days 1-106

I finally managed to get a snap of the whole of my in-progress sky blanket at the weekend!

My sky blanket is based on Lea Redmond's sky scarf project. I'm knitting a square a day for (almost) a year, based on the colour of the sky at midday.

Here's all the squares up to (and including) the one for April 15th:


The squares go horizontally, left to right along each long row (like the days on a calendar). I'm just holding it this way round in the photo cos it's easier! The first square is in the top right hand corner. 

I'm writing the sky colours on my calandar each day, and then marking all the squares off on this chart as I sew them on.

The squares are very quick and easy to knit but there are SO MANY ends to weave in as each square is knitted with two strands of yarn so the colours can be blended together ... so that's 4 ends per square and several hundred sewn in so far!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Blog Love: LovePaperFish

My crafty chum Kirsty of LovePaperFish had her email hacked last month by some very nasty people, and lost all access to her blog as a result! Eek! Such a horrid thing to happen :(

(Here's a pic of Kirsty & me -with the lovely Lu Summers in the middle- at the Festival of Quilts last summer)


If you're a fan of all things crafty and felt-y you may well have visited Kirsty's blog before or bought something from her website or from one of her Etsy shops (I always recommend her as a supplier of awesome felt balls & colourful buttons). 


Please do check out her brand new blog & show her some love by leaving her a comment, following her blog, linking to her new blog in your blog sidebar, etc, anything you can do to help kickstart her new blogging adventure :)


(All photos in this post have been borrowed from Kirsty's blog).

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Giveaway: Super-Cute Felt

I hope you guys have enjoyed my slightly extended "book week"!

To finish off this book-themed fortnight, I thought it would be nice to do a giveaway for my own book, Super-Cute Felt which was published last autumn. 


The book contains 35 cute felt projects, all designed by me.

I may be a teeny bit biased (haha!) but I love this book! :)

It includes small projects (like pansy hair clips) and large projects (like a toadstool hot water bottle cover) in four sections: accessories, gifts, homewares and celebrations. Each project has illustrated, step-by-step instructions, there's also a short guide to materials, equipment and techniques at the start of the book, and most of the templates are full size (hurrah!).

Here are a few of my favourite projects...

A lion coffee cosy:


A hedgehog phone case:


A snowglobe doorhanger:



And cat, mice and cheese puppets:


I'm giving away one signed copy of Super-Cute Felt, and (because I love you guys) I'm happy to post it internationally so anyone can enter.

For your chance to win, just leave a comment on this post before 10pm on Tuesday 24th April. I'll pick a winner at random on Wednesday 25th April.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a blog link, Twitter username, Etsy username or email address so I can contact you. If I'm unable to contact the winner within two weeks, I will pick someone else.

Update: this giveaway is now closed.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Book Review: The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

Are you a fan of Liberty fabrics? If you are, then the pictures of today's book - The Liberty Book of Home Sewing - will probably make you say "oooh" a few times.



It's a gorgeous looking hardback with a fabric-bound cover, embossed silver lettering for the title, double-page spreads of Liberty prints dividing the chapters, and lots of smartly styled photos.



There's a short introduction that covers the the history of Liberty fabrics, and there's a guide to the fabrics used throughout the book at the back providing a bit of information about the patterns and giving you all their names.


There are 25 sewing projects - each with step by step illustrated instructions - and a few pages on basic sewing techniques at the back of the book.  The templates for the very small projects (like a fabric corsage) need enlarging and the others are drawn out on a grid for you to draw out onto paper at the sizes shown.


Most of the projects are the standard "sewing basics" you find in other "home sewing books" (an apron, a blind, some cushions, etc), just made up in lovely Liberty fabrics and presented with photos that could be straight out of a glossy interiors magazine.


There's also a no-sew project to make a "keepsake board" which is a nice idea but I'm not sure how relevant it is in a book with "home sewing" in the title...

... and this peacock pincushion which is gorgeous but I'm not sure how well it would work if you couldn't find (or afford) the exact fabric used:



Overall, this book feels a bit like a sewing book trying to be a coffee table book, if you know what I mean, it's a little bit of both.

If you want a glossy coffee table book with lots of info about Liberty fabrics, or a sewing book with exciting new project ideas or lots of detailed information for beginners, then you might be a bit disappointed. But if  you love Liberty prints and the style of the photos in this book and want some relatively simple sewing projects to work on, then you'll probably find this a very lovely, inspiring book both to flick through and to sew from.


The Liberty Book of Home Sewing is published by Quadrille. RRP £20. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: Quadrille sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click on them and then make a purchase I get a very small % as a referral fee.]

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Book Review: Sew it, Stuff it

Today I'm reviewing Sew It, Stuff It by Rob Merrett, which includes 24 soft toy designs to sew from fabric.


This book has been in my "to review" pile for a while... when it first arrived I took it along to my old knitting club to see what everyone thought of it, and it was a big hit, especially with the ladies who love to make special presents for their grandchildren.


Not having kids myself (or any nieces or nephews) I feel a bit out of touch with the sort of toys kids like, but there seems to be a nice mix of designs in this book. The toys are divided into five sections: toys for babies, toys for the nursery, "activity" toys, animals and dolls.


Lots of the designs have a slightly retro feel to them - there are some "traditional" dolls & some animals that remind me of picture books from the 1970s - but the book also hits several recent trends on the head with an owl and a trio of little Matryoshka dolls.



Each product has step-by-step instructions with illustrations, and then at the back of the book there's a techniques section which is referred to throughout.


One of the big selling points of this book is the tear-out patterns section. All the patterns are printed at full size so it's easy to trace the pattern you want and get sewing without having to enlarge patterns at a print shop or your local library, etc. The patterns are also colour-coordinated and include seam-allowances on the templates.


Sew It, Stuff It is published by CICO Books. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: CICO Books sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click on them and then make a purchase I get a very small % as a referral fee.]

Giveaway Winner: Sewing Made Simple

The winner of the copy of Sewing Made Simple is...


... Maria of Dinki Dots who said: "I'd love a chance to win, many thanks!"

Thanks to everyone who entered :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Giveaway: Zodiac Felties

I've got one copy of Zodiac Felties to give away... and because it's a relatively small and light book I'm happy to post it internationally so anyone can enter. Hurrah!


For your chance to win, just leave a comment on this post telling me what star sign you are. Leave your comment before 10pm on Friday 20th April, and I'll pick a winner at random on Saturday 21st April.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a blog link, Twitter username, Etsy username or email address so I can contact you. If I'm unable to contact the winner within two weeks, I will pick someone else.

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Book Review: Zodiac Felties

I loved astrology when I was a teenager (I'm a Gemini, how about you?) so I was quite intrigued when I was a sent a copy of Zodiac Felties by Nicola Tedman & Sarah Skeate.

This is a cute little book that shows you how to sew 15 "astrological characters" - 12 characters based on the signs of the zodiac, plus 4 "planetary felties": the Sun, the Moon, Mars and Venus.


It probably goes without saying that if you think astrology is a load of old nonsense or you've got no idea what star sign you are, then this is probably not the book for you! If all your friends and family are similarly minded, you're probably also not going to have much need for this book as primarily I think you'd use it to make little star sign "mascots" as birthday gifts for other people.

The book actually includes a special page at the back that you can scan  or colour copy to use as a background when making a card to present your felties as gifts, and the small size of the characters mean they could easily be turned into fridge magnets or brooches for gift-giving.


The designs are cute and quirky. Some of the star signs are interpreted quite literally - a lion for Leo, for example...

 
... and others are a bit more more abstract, like this sweet little lady that represents the moon:


There's a few pages at the start of the book explaining how to do all the different stitches, how to stuff the felties and how to use the different types of glue needed for the projects (rubber cement and superglue). The felties are all rated by difficulty (1-4 stars) and each project includes full size templates, a bit of information about the star sign, a detailed materials list...


... a page of step by step instructions and a  page of step by step illustrations.


As the templates are full size it's quite easy to trace them, but if you prefer to scan or photocopy your pattern pieces you'll end up needing to copy 16 pages as the pattern pieces are scattered through the book (appearing on the relevant project page) rather than all together at the end of the book.

The designs are all embellished with things like sequins, mini pearl beads, pearl droplet beads, seed beads, bugle beads, etc. I have quite a reasonable stash of sequins and small beads but there's a lot of stuff required to make these felties which I don't have in my stash including things like "gold metal eye pins" and "brass craft wire" and really specific things like "2 gold leaf-shaped pendant beads, 10mm long" and "1 bronze metallic ring from a toggle fastening, 15mm in diameter". You'll also need jewellery-making tools like round needle-nosed pliers, eyelet pliers and metal snips. Maybe all these things are essential parts of a jewellery-maker's craft stash? I don't know.

Some of the beads and sequins could be substituted for similar things, but many of the other embellishments are pretty central to the design/construction of the felties. They do look lovely, but you may find that you have to do quite a bit of shopping to find all the necessary bits and pieces - this is not a book you can just sit down and craft from with a pile of felt and thread.

Zodiac Felties is published by Ivy Press. RRP £8.99. It's available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, The Book Depository and many other bookshops. 

Like the look of this book? I'm giving away my copy of Zodiac Felties to one lucky crafter... Check back tomorrow for your chance to enter the giveaway :)

[Disclaimer: Ivy Press sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click on them and then make a purchase I get a very small % as a referral fee.]

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