Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Christmas Crafting: Felt Gingerbread Houses Tutorial

I love Christmas crafts!

I've shared lots of free festive tutorials here on my blog over the years (click here to visit my tutorial archive and see them all) and I'm always itching to start sewing Christmas-themed things as soon as autumn rolls round.

I'm sure there are some of you who will be frowning slightly at this - "surely it's too early to be thinking about Christmas?", you mutter to yourself - but as every crafter knows there's never enough hours in the day to work on your creative projects... and the festive season will be here before you know it!

So, in the coming weeks, as Christmas approaches, I'll be sharing a dozen different projects for you to get your Christmas craft on (kind of a Twelve Days of Christmas Crafting, but without having anything to do with that song). Some of them will be new projects, some of them twists and variations on old projects, all of them will be festive and fun.

Those of you who like to start your Christmas crafting early can get stitching, and anyone who prefers to wait until December to think about "the C word" will find lots of fun projects waiting for them here on my blog when they're ready to get stuck in.

Soooo.... to kick off the series, how about making a felt gingerbread house! 

 felt gingerbread house

This project is a Christmas version of the felt houses tutorial I shared a couple of years ago.

felt houses

When I first stitched these little felt houses I thought to myself "ooh, these would make such cute gingerbread houses"... and I was totally right!

felt gingerbread house

To make a felt gingerbread house or two (or even a whole village of little felt houses), use the patterns and instructions in the felt houses tutorial but stick to a gingerbread-themed colour palette: ginger/brown felt for the house itself and white felt for the roof, door, windows and other details.

I used red sequins and embroidery thread to embellish my house, and joined the whole thing together with blanket stitch and white embroidery thread.

Your finished house(s) would look great propped up on a bookshelf or a mantlepiece, or you could add a loop of ribbon to turn each house into a Christmas ornament - perfect for hanging on large trees or from a hook or a door knob.

felt gingerbread house
felt gingerbread house

Click here to view the step by step tutorial and the free templates for making all the felt houses.

For lots more Christmas craft ideas, visit my free tutorial archive.  

felt gingerbread houses tutorial

Monday, 17 September 2018

Exploring Oxford: Lincoln College & the Bodleian Library

Watching the first episode of A Discovery of Witches last week reminded me that it's been ages since I've blogged about a bit of Oxford!

One of the pleasures of visiting Oxford is recognising bits of it from your favourite books, films, and TV shows - it tends to feature less as a backdrop and more as a character in its own right, and (just like your favourite characters) it's very easy to fall in love with. Then once you've visited the city, you gleefully spot references to colleges you've visited or scenes set in rooms you've stood in and it makes you love the place even more (or is it just me who thinks "OOH, I'VE BEEN THERE!" when I spot places I've visited on my travels?).

With so many scenes in the first episode of A Discovery of Witches set in the Bodleian library, that had to be what I blogged about today. (If you're watching the show or have read the books, you may also enjoy my earlier post about All Souls - vampire Matthew's college).

The Bodleian (nicknamed "The Bod" by Oxford scholars) is named after Sir Thomas Bodley, who founded the library at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. (That fine fellow above sadly isn't Sir Thomas, but is in fact William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, a former Chancellor of the University).

I've not yet been on a full tour of the old library, but I love wandering through the quadrangles - looking up at the windows, and thinking about all the people who have walked through all the doors and archways over the centuries. 

The Bodleian does a very nice line in doors that something interesting and/or magical could be happening behind, though I expect what mostly happens behind these doors is a lot of reading of old books.

Even if you've never heard of the Bodleian, you'll probably recognise the neighbouring building: the Divinity School. This space, with its elaborate vaulted ceiling and 455 roof bosses, was originally built in the 1400s for lectures, exams and discussions on theology. A pretty fancy classroom, huh?

It's just as fabulous on the outside...

... and Convocation House next door is not too shabby, either! This room was built in the 17th century as the meeting place for the ruling body of the University.

Just over the road from the Bodleian is Lincoln College. Founded by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1427, the full name of the college is "The College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints', Lincoln, in the University of Oxford"... which is a bit of a mouthful for everyday use!

Lincoln College is free to visit (click here for visiting times and more info) and has all the classic, charming features of an Oxford college: grand buildings, quiet quads, magnificent creepers, intruiging staircases, and little windows giving tantalising glimpses of the academic lives within.

Plus, of course, the kinds of quirky little architectural details that I love!

You can get a virtual tour of Lincoln College here (including lots of spaces that are off-limits to visitors), and see some lovely 360 degree views of the college here.

I'll share some more Oxford snaps soon!

Click here to read all my "Exploring Oxford" posts so far, or click here to browse my entire archive of travel posts.

Friday, 14 September 2018

New: Letters from Lupin

This autumn I'm starting something new: a happy snail mail club I'm calling Letters from Lupin.

Social media and blogging can be great, and I'm loving sending out my regular(ish) email newsletters, but I think nothing quite beats a piece of proper post.

Something that makes you smile when you find it on your doormat (unlike the usual boring junk mail and stressful bills). Something to read over breakfast or when you get back from work, without getting sucked into mindless scrolling and FOMO and all those side-effects of social media. An actual piece of paper to hold in your hand then pin on your wall, or use as a bookmark, or stick in a real scrapbook.

So, I'm starting a fun snail mail club! For each month you sign up, you will receive:

ONE postcard, handwritten by me and featuring my seaside hometown or somewhere nice I've visited recently.

ONE letter, handwritten then photocopied, with lots of chatty updates about what I've been up to lately (kind of a cross between an old-fashioned letter and a zine!).

And ONE card, either made and/or designed by me or just a lovely card I wanted to share, with a handwritten note inside.

Your three bits of post will be spread out throughout the month, to the address you provide during the checkout process. If you want your post sent to a different name or address, just send me a message! If you sign up before October 1st, your happy post will be sent out in October.

You can buy one month or three months of happy post from my newly re-opened Big Cartel shop, or subscribe via the button below for a rolling subscription. 

Letters from Lupin

I'm really excited by the possibilities of this club, and I hope you guys will be too!

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

More Felt Christmas Ornaments Finished!

I'm on a mission to finish my crafty UFOs (UnFinished Objects) this year, and my current spare time project is finishing a set of Christmas ornaments I bought as a kit several years ago.

I finished the first batch of ornaments this summer (click here to see them!), and have just finished another four:

Aren't they cute? The patterns are by Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy, and I just adore them. They're large ornaments with lots of detail to sew on each one, but I'm working my way through them all slowly...

The Nestled Child ornament is so sweet - I particularly love the sleeping kitty! It's a bit tricky to photograph as that string of beads only hangs properly when the ornament is hung up, but I'm sure you get the idea of how it'll look.

Most of Alicia's ornaments are double-sided, with the back being a mirror image of the front. It can be a bit tricky making sure the front and back sections line up perfectly, so if you make some of these do take care when assembling the pieces!

I had particular trouble getting the Western Bluebird pieces lined up to match (I think I stitched one piece slightly wrong and it threw the whole shape off) but the finished ornament turned out great.

I'd never heard of this bird before making this ornament, but it's rather lovely! (You guys know how much I love birds of any kind).

The Hot Cocoa Cup was really fun to sew, with that pretty embroidery pattern to stitch (embroidery is always so relaxing!) then a nice simple shape to assemble.

I didn't used to be a hot chocolate person, but I started drinking it in cafes on my winter walks this year and I think that's a habit that's gonna continue - it's just so warm and comforting! It would be even nicer in a pretty cup like this.

Then my final ornament from this batch is the Ice Skate, which is one of my all time faves from Alicia's Christmas designs.

The embroidered design on the sock! The laces! That perfect red pompom! So good.

I've got just four more ornaments to finish then the whole set will be complete. I'm a bit wary of typing this in case it jinxes it, but... I feel like I might actually get these all finished in time for Christmas! Fingers crossed.

Want to stitch these ornaments yourself? Click here for Alicia's lovely ornament patterns.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Weston-super-Mare in Pictures: April, May & June 2018

I love living by the seaside, and spend as much time as possible going for walks along the beach and around the town. I'm really enjoying exploring my new home town and seeing how it changes with the seasons!

I have an Instagram account where I share photos from my walks, and I'm also putting together a quarterly round up of my favourite pictures here on my blog. I was on a blogging break back in July (when I'd originally planned to post this) but now it's finally time to look back at my fave pics from April, May and June. With autumn rapidly creeping in, I really enjoyed looking back through my photos to put together this post and I hope you'll enjoy them too...

April started off a little grey, but at least it had stopped snowing... and the grey didn't last long! We've had so much sunshine this summer that my camera roll has been absolutely bursting with blue skies.

I have to admit though that I rather adore a long walk on a misty grey day. There's something weirdly appealing about how bleak and empty the beach can be during the off-season, and it makes for a wonderfully quiet walk. I've missed it a little during the hot and busy tourist season!

I made the most of spring while it lasted, with lots of visits to see the bluebells at Uphill...

... walks along the beach...

... and regular strolls up the cowslip-and-orchid-covered hill (later the buttercup-covered hill!) to the old church.

Then in June I got slightly sunburned going on lots of longer-than-expected walks around town, photographing the local architecture and other bits and bobs that caught my eye. I really need to remember to always take extra suncream on walks like this, as there's always another tempting street to go down and another new path to follow.


There's no shortage of charming houses and interesting architectural details here in Weston: I have a crush on so many of the local buildings but this one is definitely in my top ten:

Taking nice photos and sharing them online is fun, of course, but I particularly like how the act of taking photos is making me really look at the place that I live. The shapes and the colours and all the little details it would be so easy to overlook.


It's been a fun challenge photographing some of Weston's summer events, too. I loved the classic car show at Grove Park...

... and the hot air balloons on the beach were an absolute joy. The balloon launch was a wonderful little taster of a new event coming to Weston's seafront this autumn - I'm really looking forward to it!

Fancy some more seaside snaps? Follow me on Instagram for regular (ish) updates from Weston-super-Mare.

You can also explore my travel archive for lots more pics from around the UK.