Saturday 27 February 2010

A peek at my process

There have been some really fascinating posts about "process" in creative blog land recently, with lots of designers sharing how they take a sketch or a doodle and end up with a finished pattern/print/illustration.

It reminded me of this old photo I took a couple of years ago when I was designing my bluetit brooches. Like most of my designs, my birds started out as some very quick sketches on a bit of scrap paper (I've got a whole folder full of odd scraps of paper covered in all kinds of scribblings!)

In this case, I was doodling ideas for how to draw robins for my Christmas range, and the more "realistic" design gave me the idea to try other bird species. With the help of some bird books, I did a rough sketch of a bluetit with colour annotations and rooted around in my felt stash for the matching colours.

I then re-drew the design more neatly and the size I wanted my brooch to be. I'm not that confident at drawing, so it sometimes takes me many, many attempts before I get my drawing looking the way I want it (and some designs never get to that point) but this design came together quite quickly and I got the bluetit looking a) enough like a real bluetit and b) quite cute and fat which is how bluetits are in my head!

Finally I traced over each part of my drawing to create paper patterns for each colour block, used the pattern pieces to cut out the various felt pieces and stitched together a prototype.
There's a huge difference between the simple line drawing and the finished design. One of the best things about working with felt is how quick and easy it is to test out a design - it's quicker and easier for me to cut out the pieces and sew a brooch together to see how it looks than to colour in a drawing to test out how the colours and shapes look.

Sometimes designs I like as a drawing just don't work when they're sewn and other times the colours aren't quite right. It's rare that I make a design that doesn't get a bit of tweaking in its final version, even if it's just a few stitches. In this case I chose a lighter background colour for my finished design.The Bluetit brooch is still one of my favourites and he's been joined by lots of other birdies over the past couple of years :)

Want to read some of the process posts that inspired this one? Check out these posts by Cicada Daydream, Treasuring, Daisy Janie, Jenean Morrison, Stephanie Corfee, Jezze, A Little Hut, Betz White and Tula Pink

Friday 26 February 2010

Show and Tell, part three

As promised... more pictures from my lovely customers of things they've been making with felt from my shops!

Véronique of VerteAdelie used the felt to make pretty pinwheel necklaces:
Stephanie of NaturallyHeartFelt has been making needlebooks, felt-covered notebooks and embellished tote bags:
Judit of Fércművek made a whole army of pastel bunnies:
Amy of Cooking, Cakes & Children helped her daughter make this fab ornament at Christmas:
And Ruth of NiceDayDesigns has been making loads of stuff, including custom appliqued t-shirts and cute pincushions:
As I said before, if you've bought felt or other supplies from me and want to show off what you've been making please do get in touch. It really is awesome to find out what all those bundles of felt turn into!

P.S. please respect the work of my customers as you do mine, and don't copy their designs :)

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Show and Tell, part two

Last autumn I did a show and tell post featuring some of the great things my customers have been making... and since then I've been sent loads of lovely pictures! So many in fact that I'm going to have to do two posts this week to catch up. First up...

Barby of Morning Glory Workshop has been using the felt to make tiny clothes for her adorable needle felted mice:
Susan of Fat Hen and Flo made fun owl craft kits for kids and felt hats for her Flo dolls:
Beverley of RubyReloved is busy making flower brooches and these incredibly detailed cocktail hats:
Daniela of Ananaw made a whole range of pretty butterfly brooches in bright colours:
And Julie of SprinklesOnTop has been making lots of layered floral hair accessories:
More customer photos coming later this week!

If you'd like your photos to be included in a future Show and Tell post, please do get in touch...

P.S. please respect the work of my customers as you do mine, and don't copy their designs :)

Tuesday 23 February 2010

A kaleidoscope of butterflies

I've been working on a new project involving lots of butterflies...... but I'm keeping it a secret for the moment.

In the meantime, I've got a whole collection of butterfly themed tutorials here on my blog if you fancy doing some butterfly themed crafting of your own:

A felt butterfly mobile
A pretty doily & butterfly curtain
Butterfly brooches
And butterflies to add to spring gifts
I rather like butterflies. Can you tell? :)

P.S. Subscribe to my newsletter for a monthly free pattern and visit my crafty tutorial archive for lots more free projects.

Visit my shop to buy my printable PDF sewing patterns:

Saturday 20 February 2010

A New Birdie

This little birdie is a bit of a departure from my usual subject of British garden birds...
... a bright red cardinal stitched last night while I watched some rubbish telly.

He was a special request from a customer, but I'm thinking about making some more to add to my shops as I think he's quite a cutie!

Thursday 18 February 2010

Listen while you work

I listen to a lot of Agatha Christie audiobooks while I do my sewing... so I was delighted when the boyfriend brought back this haul from a recent charity shop visit.I know it makes me a bit of an old lady, but they make such a great soundtrack for an afternoon of peaceful sewing.

I like listening to the radio too (especially things like Raymond Chandler adaptations on BBC7) and also do some simpler sewing on the sofa in the evenings in front of the telly.

Do you listen to the radio or watch TV while you craft?

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Restocking Rainbows

My flat is currently covered in felt thanks to a big order that arrived by courier this morning... lots of lovely colour to play with!

All 60 colours of felt are now back in stock, along with all my themed felt packs...
... plus lots of those awesome 8cm wooden buttons. Hurrah!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

The A4 Draw

Yesterday I treated myself to a ticket for The A4 Draw, an art raffle giving you "the chance to win an A4 piece of work by established artists, designers and illustrators, as well as graphic design students from South Essex College".
I think this is a really fun idea, and everyone has contributed really great pieces.

I particularly love these trees by Alice Stevenson...
... and this owl by student Sophie Evans:
The funds raised will go towards the students' graduate exhibitions this summer, and winners will be drawn at random in early March. Tickets cost £4, and available here.

Monday 15 February 2010

February giveaway: the winners

Many thanks to everyone who entered this month's giveaway!

The winners - chosen at random - are:

northernknitter who said... "Hmm the cute heart would tickle my fancy this cool February evening :)"

and Sarah who said... "Love both the brooches so if I'm lucky enough to win I would love a surprise xxx"

Leave me a comment with your email address ladies (this won't be published) and I'll be in touch.

Remember if you've not been lucky enough to win you can still make your own owl brooch or heart brooch by following my tutorials... and of course there'll be another fun giveaway next month!

Sunday 14 February 2010


The BBC launched a new series this week called Mastercrafts. It's all about traditional crafts: weaving, thatching, metalwork, stonemasonry, stained glass and wood craft. The first episode - featuring green wood craft - was shown on Friday (and is currently available on the BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK).

The basic format of the show is that three people take part in an intensive six week course, being taught their craft by a skilled mentor. Meanwhile presenter Monty Don meets other people working in the craft today and chats about the historical significance of the skills they're learning. In the green wood episode the mentor was Guy Mallinson (who runs several woodcraft courses) and they met a chairmaker, a boat builder, a team restoring an old barn and showed traditional, sustainable woodland management.

Of course, just learning about all this stuff isn't enough so there's an added "competition" element - which apprentice is the best? who is falling behind? who has the skills to win the best chair competition? etc etc, which all feels a little forced and "made for TV" but does highlight how some people have a natural aptitude for the crafts & how it might look easy but it really isn't.

I really enjoyed the first episode and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series - especially the episode on weaving which my blogging buddy Momtazbh took part in. It's always great to see people making stuff on telly, and fantastic to see a real emphasis on skills.

As someone who (like many designer/makers) regularly has to defend her prices I also loved the discussion about pricing which took part in this first episode. Meeting super talented chairmaker David Saltmarsh they mentioned that his chairs start at around £700 - the sort of figure that makes people say things like "How much?? I can get a chair at IKEA for £20!" - but went on to explain that at least 50 hours work goes into making one chair, that he aims to earn "about £10 an hour" for his work and that like many other craftsmen he doesn't make a full time living at his craft (he also runs a small farm).

You can read all about how David makes his chairs here on his website and also view the chairs he currently has for sale.

UPDATE - to celebrate the launch of the Mastercrafts series & the publication of the supporting book, RUBooks are running a competition to win a woodland workshop course with Guy Mallinson! If you're in the UK click here to enter before 25th March.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Finishing Touches

There are lots of almost finished batches of things sitting in my workbox at the moment. Tonight I'll be finishing these lovelies...

Pink cherry blossoms ready to be sewn onto headbands:
Plus a pile of felt cameras waiting for their final details:

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Lots of layers

New in my Etsy shop - a large layered flower brooch (almost 4 inches across) topped with a cute homemade felt button:

This design has been lurking in my "in progress" box for ages so it's lovely to get it finally finished, photographed and in the shop.

I've made two of them, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to part with the second one. It would look sooo nice on the lapel of my winter coat...

Monday 8 February 2010

Button Love

I am so in love with these - at a massive 8cms wide they're the biggest buttons I've ever seen!I'm keeping a couple for myself as I just can't resist their gigantic buttony awesomeness, and the rest have been added to my craft supplies shop. UPDATE: wow, they sold out already! If you'd like your own button, fear not - I should have some more back in stock in a couple of weeks time :)

In other supply shop news... wooden embroidery hoops are now available in a choice of sizes: mini 3 inch hoops and (new!) 4 inch hoops.
You can buy them individually from my website or in packs of 3 or 6 over in my Etsy shop.

Saturday 6 February 2010

February Giveaway - twice the fun

I completely failed to do a giveaway last month (thanks to being distracted by snow and illness and assorted other things) so this month I'm giving away two things to make up for it :)

This month's prizes are the brooches featured in my recent tutorials, a cute brown owl brooch...
... and a sweet heart brooch:
To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post saying which brooch you'd like if you win: the heart or the owl.

Leave your comment before midnight (UK time) on Sunday 14th February and I'll pick two winners at random on Monday 15th Feb. I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please) and be sure to come back next week to see if you got picked. Good luck!

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed.

Friday 5 February 2010

How To: Felt Heart Brooch

As promised, here's a sweet project for Valentine's Day... inspired by the colours in my Valentines felt squares pack.

To make this heart brooch you will need:

- a needle, a pin, scissors, and a heart shape (draw your own or print the template at the bottom of this post)
- red, purple, pink and white felt
- white and purple thread
- a brooch clasp or safety pin

1. Pin the heart template to the red felt, and cut around it. Remove the pin and place the red heart on the pink felt, pin it in place and carefully cut around the heart leaving a border of pink "framing" it. Remove the pin, and repeat this process using the pink heart as a template on the purple felt. You'll now have three felt hearts, each one slightly larger than the last.

2. Use the largest (purple) heart as a template to cut out an identical piece - this will become the back of your brooch


3. Take one of your purple heart shapes, and pin it to the white felt. Carefully cut a scalloped edge around the heart, cutting right up to the edge of the purple felt and taking care to make the semi-circles similar sizes. I practised this on a scrap piece of felt before I started as it can be a little fiddly, but luckily it still looks cute even when it comes out a bit irregular!


4. Now layer all your felt pieces (apart from your "back" purple heart) so all the shapes are neatly framed, and pin them together. Using white thread and a simple running stitch, sew them all together - start from the bottom point of the red heart, and make sure you leave a few millimetres between your stitches and the edge of the red felt.


5. Take your remaining felt piece (the second purple heart) and sew a brooch clasp or safety pin to it using a double thickness of purple thread.


6. Finally, hold the front and back pieces together making sure that the hearts match up (use the scalloped edge as a guide - if they're all visible your back piece is in the right place). Using more purple thread, slowly sew the front and back sections of your brooch together, following the edges of the purple hearts. If you keep as close to the pink heart shape as possible this will help to help keep your stitches hidden.


Double click the template below to view full size and print. If you print the template at 100% your brooch will be the same size as mine.

This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many brooches as you like for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don't make any for sale. Please feel free to borrow 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!

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