Tuesday 30 March 2010

Show and Tell, part four

I'm very pleased to say that it's show and tell time again! These posts are my space to show off some of the awesome things my customers make with felt and other supplies bought from my shops.

Fiona of TizDuster put her pastel felt to great use making these birds as a gift for a new baby:

Tiffany of Bogleface used her felt for the eyes on this fun range of monster baby bibs:

Albena of Albenaben made this spring flower brooch with bright felt colours:

Secdus decorated this sweet laundry hanger with pretty pastel felt shades:

And Leah of Sewbox used felt, embroidery thread and ric rac from my shop and a pattern from Sew Hip to make this adorable elephant as a baby shower gift:

Want to show off what you've been making? Get in touch! You can read all the show and tell posts here.

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

Monday 29 March 2010

Butterfly Napkin Rings

The spring issue of UK Handmade is now available - and it includes a tutorial for butterfly napkin rings, designed by yours truly. I had so much fun making these, and it gave me a great excuse to use some vintage china and eat some french fancies (nom nom).

The tutorial shows you how to make napkin rings...

... but you could also use the butterflies as pretty cake toppers or sandwich labels ...

... or to add some extra sweetness to your table decorations:

You can read the spring issue of UK Handmade here, and find my project on page 34.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Business cards

After several years of selling online I have finally had some proper business cards made to send out with my orders! Hurrah!

Having ordered a few really high quality cards from Moo earlier this month to test out which images worked best, I fell in love with the riot of colour in this image...

... and ordered a big batch from another printing company. Moo cards are great but they're not really a cost effective option for me as I send out so many parcels. I got my new cards from 123Print and though they're not quite as perfect as the Moo cards (& I might experiment with different weights of card / different finishes in future) they do the job very well.

Today was a parcel packing day so I took a quick snap of one of my new cards in action, tucked into a bundle of pastel felt with one of my handmade thank-you notes. I always include a little handwritten note with my orders and make the cards myself whenever I have the time.

I'm loving the extra bit of colour the cards add to my parcels and - fingers crossed - hopefully some of my customers will keep the cards for future reference or use them to pass my details on to friends, etc instead of just recycling them!

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Spring Threads

I'm working on a custom order today that involves these colours...

Sewing with bright colours like this makes me so happy!

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Heritage Crafts

I blogged a few weeks ago about how excited I was to see the first episode of "Mastercrafts", a BBC series all about traditional British crafts. I've continued to enjoy this series as it's progressed and I really hope they make a second series!

Have you been watching it? Did you have a favourite episode? I found the episodes on stonemasonry and stained glass particularly fascinating as I used to work in a Cathedral. But as someone who works with textiles my favourite was (predictably) the weaving episode, not least because it's given me so much respect for weavers!

With traditional crafts on the brain, I was delighted to discover the Disappearing Acts series over on The Guardian. It's a series of articles and audio slideshows (slideshows with a voiceover reading the relevant article) featuring traditional trades which are nowadays rarely practised and in some cases are in serious risk of dying out.

The articles themselves are really interesting and some of the images are just wonderful. I'm really looking forward to working through them all during many tea breaks. If you want some serious jaw-dropping crafty eye candy start with this slideshow about stucco.

If you want to read more about British heritage crafts and how to support them, the Heritage Crafts Association is a great place to start.

Monday 22 March 2010

Spring flower giveaway: winner

Thanks so much to everyone who entered this month's giveaway - it was so great hearing all your stories about all the cute Mother's Day craftiness you and your kids have made!

The winner of the brooch (picked at random) is violetrose17 who said:

"I made a lot of drawings and such for my mom when I was younger - but I am most proud of a pair of hedgehogs I sewed for her this past year. She loves them!"

Sunday 21 March 2010

Finished Goldfinches

I've been doing lots of tinkering with my online shops this weekend, adding a few items, editing a few descriptions and translating lots of my DaWanda listings into German. I've also been taking advantage of the spring sunshine to retake a few product photos that got lost when my hard-drive died last year. Lots of bits and pieces of admin, basically! Dull, but very necessary.

When I was taking photos I couldn't resist taking a quick snap of lots of finished Goldfinch brooches all lined up before I packed them away...

Saturday 20 March 2010

The joys of springtime

Spring has well and truly sprung here in the UK! It's a bit chilly and overcast today, but we've had a couple of weeks of gorgeous sunshine and blue skies which has been very welcome after such a cold winter.

The change in the light is wonderful (not least because it makes it so much easier to take photos!) but mostly I love the arrival of spring because it gets me thinking about colour.

I want to wear all the bright colourful patterned things in my wardrobe after a winter bundled up in black and dark woollen sweaters... and the vibrant colours of the spring flowers provide lots of inspiration when I'm crafting.

We don't have a garden to enjoy, but these hyacinths are currently making my whole house smell quite delicious!

Friday 19 March 2010

All lined up

I spent yesterday afternoon listening to a Hercule Poirot audiobook and doing lots of sewing - really lovely after a week filled with emails and packing and admin and other non-creative stuff.

I was working on goldfinch brooches and white & peach cherry blossoms which will become brooches and hairbands.

Whenever I make things in batches, I always line them up neatly. It gives me a real sense of progress as I work down the row adding the next felt shape, etc, and I love seeing them all lined up finished before I pack them away in my storage boxes.

I'll be sewing these onto brooch backs and hairbands this afternoon then it's on to the next thing in my wip box...

Wednesday 17 March 2010

A parliament of owls

I'm always thrilled to see what people have been making using my tutorials, so you can imagine how pleased I was yesterday to discover not one but two lovely photos of owls made using my felt owl brooch tutorial.

I love this photo taken by Farfalla Gialla of her owl:Such a nice setting and I love his button eyes!

And I'm amazed at how many different owls Mavi of Septiembre has been making! They look fantastic all together:

Sunday 14 March 2010

March Giveaway - Spring Flower Brooch

Happy Mother's Day to all you UK mums! And of course much love and virtual hugs to my own mum! :)

My mum is a big fan of my blog, and when she found this old Mother's Day card I made many years ago she suggested it would be a great thing to share on my blog...

I used to make lots of cards using felt and sometimes stitched little felt pictures like this which I then stuck to card with lots of craft glue. I'd forgotten about this one - it's lovely to rediscover it.

As well as being Mother's Day, it's also time for this month's giveaway!

This month I'm giving away the flower brooch I made for yesterday's tutorial. It's just over 3 inches (8cms) wide and full of springtime cheerfulness! Keep it for yourself or give it to your mum :)

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me about something you made for your mum when you were little or (if you're now a mum yourself) something sweet your kids have made for you.

Leave your comment before midnight (UK time) on Sunday 21st March and I'll pick the winner at random on Monday 22nd March. I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter.

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

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed!

Saturday 13 March 2010

How To: design and make a felt brooch

This is a slightly unusual "how to" as it's not just a tutorial for making the flower brooch shown in the pictures but more a beginner's guide to making things with felt, which will cover lots of things I get asked by my blog readers and customers who buy packs of felt squares from my shops.

If you're new to felt crafting, I hope you find it useful and it inspires you to get sewing!

The first step when designing a brooch or anything else is to get doodling. You don't have to be a great artist to design brooches that are your own original creation (and copying other peoples designs is never cool).

I decided to make a flower brooch so I started out drawing lots of different flower shapes.

Once you get a rough design that you like, the next step is to turn that doodle into a pencil drawing of how you want your brooch to look. I often draw and redraw things half a dozen times before I get them how I want them. For this design I wanted a symmetrical flower so I used rulers and circle templates to help me keep the petals the same lengths.

When you've got a sketch that you're happy with, use a black fine liner to draw in the final lines over your pencil scribblings. I added an extra circle and some detailing on the outer petals at this point as I thought the flower needed a bit of extra detail. Never be afraid to tweak your design as you go along or to try out two different versions to test how they will look!

The black pen lines help finalise your design but they are also a great help with the next step - tracing over your drawing to create your pattern pieces. Take a piece of plain white paper, place it over your drawing and trace each shape involved in your design. When you've drawn all your pattern pieces, cut them out.

Now you have the fun part of choosing colours! You could do a drawing of your design and colour it in to plan out colour combinations beforehand but I think there's nothing quite like seeing the real live felt colours together. I wanted to use satsuma orange felt as an accent colour in my flower, but when I cut the pieces out and laid them on top of each other as I'd designed I realised I wanted more orange visible, so I changed the design slightly.

Cutting out small fiddly felt pieces can be tricky, so take your time! I recommend buying a pair of embroidery scissors, the small blades make it much easier to cut out small shapes.

Pin larger shapes in place, and hold very small pieces in place against the felt between your thumb and fingers while you cut around the pattern. I always roughly cut off any excess felt around the pattern piece to make it easier to cut round fiddly shapes.

Now it's time to sew your pieces together. There are lots of guides to different stitches on the internet... but some things to think about are how the stitches will add to the pattern and texture of your design, and whether you want to use matching thread (thread the same colour as the felt you're stitching) or contrasting thread (to create extra decorative details).

I stitched my flower onto a backing piece of black felt. The wool blend felt I use and sell in my shops is lovely and soft but this softness means an extra layer for added sturdiness is sometimes needed.

Having finished the front of your brooch, you need a matching back piece to sew your clasp to and to hide your stitches. Use your brooch as a template to cut out a piece that exactly matches.

Turn the backing piece over (so the side which will be the back of your finished brooch is facing upwards) and use a double thickness of sewing thread to sew on a brooch clasp. If you don't have any clasps you can use a safety pin. Use a small piece of felt sewn over the fixed bar of the pin and a crisscross pattern of stitches to sew the safety pin in place - I've used bright felt and thread here to show this clearly:

Finally, sew the front and back pieces of your brooch together (I used a running stitch in black thread around the black edge) and finish your stitches neatly at the back. Then start wearing your brooch and start planning more fun felt things to make with your stash!

P.S. is there anything I've missed from this beginner's guide? Let me know in the comments :)

P.P.S. Making stuff from your own patterns is great, but if you'd like to sew the flower featured in this tutorial fear not! Double click on this image to print out the pattern pieces (print at 100% to make a flower the same size as mine). I think this design is a great one for experimenting with colours and the use of different stitches.
This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many flower 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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Friday 12 March 2010

New prints for my walls

I've discovered so many amazing artists since first joining Etsy that my favourites list is always full of prints on my wishlist and my house is starting to overflow with awesome art.

The newest additions to my collection arrived in the post today - lovely prints by Dee Beale.

I've been umming and aahing about which print to buy from her shop for ages... and eventually I decided that I just couldn't choose so I treated myself to three to celebrate my recent Etsy milestone.

Sleeping Foxes...
... Snowy Owls...
... and Nordic Blue Hares:
(All photos borrowed from Dee's shop as I've not had a chance to properly unpack my prints yet).

I still can't decide which is my favourite, they're all just so lovely!

Thursday 11 March 2010

Price changes

Because of recent changes to the UK £ / US $ exchange rate I've lowered lots of prices over in my Etsy shop today... hurrah! Felty bargains galore.

As an international Etsy seller I have to tweak all my dollar prices every once in a while (oh how it sucks when I have to put them up!). I really wish there was a quicker way to adjust prices than to slowly edit every single listing in my shop one by one but I got there in the end. A cup of tea (or two) and a nice bit of Agatha Christie on tape helped a lot :)

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Wednesday workspace

Wow, this is turning into a busy week! Just time today for a quick snap of my current workspace, a.k.a. our coffee table.

In progress at the moment: goldfinches, coal tits, badgers and white cherry blossoms.

I'm trying really hard to keep the house tidy at the moment and pack all my sewing back into tins and boxes at the end of each sewing session but it doesn't always work out like that!

Sunday 7 March 2010

Postcard packs for sale!

I've had such a great response to my cards that I've decided to list a pack of three rainbow postcards (& three white envelopes) over in my Etsy shop:
If they prove popular I'll be adding them to my other shops, and I might offer some more postcard packs too... Please do let me know what you think, and if there are any of my photos (or designs from my shops) that you'd like to see as postcards!

Saturday 6 March 2010

Moo Cards

I treated myself to some lovely cards from Moo this week. I bought some business cards with my blog, website, email, etc info on the back...
... and some really glossy postcards which I'm going to use as notecards.
I'm really pleased with how they turned out (the colours look fantastic) and I can't wait to start sending them to people.

Friday 5 March 2010


I sold my 3,000th item through my Etsy shop yesterday!

I am so amazed and delighted to have reached such a big milestone, and I can't quite believe I've posted so many parcels.

To celebrate, I'll be including a FREE GIFT with all orders plus giving 10% OFF all orders over $20 (excluding shipping).

EDIT: this offer has now ended.

Many, many thanks to all my lovely customers who have helped me reach this milestone and turn this felt lark into my "day job". I love you all xxx

Thanks also to all my blog readers - it's so wonderful having a space to share my creative ups and downs and your feedback is always appreciated!

P.S. Slightly off topic but my internet died yesterday so I didn't get a chance to mention this then... cardinal brooches and snowy owl brooches are now available in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Snowy Owls

Last night I made a trio of snowy owl brooches:
The story behind these is a pretty typical one for me - I made a snowy owl brooch over a year ago as a thank-you gift, thought about developing the design and maybe doing a range of owls, did some quick drawings ... then put them away and forgot about them.

Then last night I felt in the mood to work on something new, rummaged through my stash of doodles for inspiration and found my owl sketches. I spent a very happy evening sketching and re-sketching lots of different owls, and ended up with a couple of designs that still need some tweaking plus some finished snowy owls which I just adore. They look how I wanted them to look when I first started sketching, and I think that's all I can really ever hope for!

I'll be adding them to the shops tomorrow, and hopefully it'll take me a lot less than a year to get my next owl design finished...

Monday 1 March 2010

Make do and mend

Tis the season to do some spring cleaning, and I'm starting with the contents of my wardrobe.

I'm trying to be really ruthless and admit to myself that I haven't actually worn that dress for 5 years, that this cardigan while once lovely is now 10 years old & looking its age, and that the crazy sweater bought on a whim really does just make me look a bit crazy.

The really fun part of clearing out clothes is, of course, that you're making room for lots of lovely new ones! But I'm also trying to mend & alter all the things that just need a bit of TLC or have hemlines that make me feel rather frumpy.

My mending pile is normally very neglected - partly because there's always something more fun to be sewn than some boring old buttons, and partly because I'm really not very good at it. There was much cussing yesterday as I was sewing on buttons and turning up hems, but it was worth it in the end.

It's especially nice to have my much loved vintage coat restored to its full 14-buttoned glory after shedding so many buttons during the winter...
Over the next few weeks I'll be dredging up memories of skills learned in G.C.S.E. Textiles, checking some sewing books out of the library & tackling those alterations. Most challenging will be a vintage dress with a broken zip which I never wore much as a dress but which I'm hoping will make a lovely new skirt. I'll let you know how it goes!