Friday 30 April 2010

How To: Felt Raincloud Brooch

As promised - here's a tutorial to make your own sparkly raincloud brooch!

I made mine in two different colourways, one white cloud with pale blue raindrops and one darker, stormy grey cloud with dark blue raindrops:

To make your own clouds you will need:

- a needle, a pin, scissors, and the template at the bottom of this post
- white or grey felt to make the cloud and blue felt to make the raindrops
- thread to match the two colours you choose
- embroidery thread to match your raindrops
- a large needle to sew the embroidery thread
- silver and blue round sequins
- a brooch clasp or safety pin

First, cut out your pattern pieces using the templates provided. Each piece of the brooch is made from a "sandwich" of three felt layers, the middle layer is the smallest so it's hidden when you sew them all together.


Using embroidery thread, sew your small raindrop pieces to your small cloud piece (this structure will be the filling in your sandwich). Knot your thread and make one stitch in one of the raindrops, starting from the bottom and sewing upwards. Then leave a bit of embroidery thread "loose" between your raindrop and cloud so the raindrop can dangle freely, and sew it securely to the cloud. Repeat this for your other two raindrops, hanging your middle drop slightly lower than the others.


Now it's time to add your sequins onto the "front" felt pieces. I used silver sequins on my white/light blue cloud and a mix of silver and blue sequins on my grey/dark blue cloud. You might find it helpful to arrange the sequins on one cloud shape or your paper pattern as a guide and then gradually transfer them to the final shape as you sew. Use three stitches for each sequin, and thread that matches the felt you're sewing them onto.

Take your remaining cloud shape, turn it over and sew a brooch clasp onto the back using a double thickness of matching thread (alternatively you can use a safety pin and a scrap of felt - for info on how to do this please see this post).

Using thread that matches your cloud, sew the back piece (with clasp) onto the middle piece. I used long stitches on the inside (which won't be visible when the brooch is finished) and shorter stitches on the outside (visible on the back of the brooch)

Now it's sandwich-making time. Start with your raindrops - they can be a bit fiddly! Use a couple of small stitches to secure the small middle piece to the plain back piece (as you just did with the cloud), this will make it much easier to sew all three pieces together neatly. Then then add the sequinned front piece to your sandwich and use whip stitch to sew all three layers together. Finish your stitches on the back where they will be less visible.

Finally, put your sequinned cloud shape in place and use whip stitch to sew your cloud sandwich together (again, use matching thread and finish on the back).

Double-click on the image below to view the template & print it. If you print the template at 100% your raincloud 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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Thursday 29 April 2010

Dahlia love

Two blog posts in one day! What madness.

I'd meant to sign off from the internet after my last post, and then I discovered this totally gorgeous tutorial for a dahlia corsage via Twitter...

(Photo by Megan Reardon)

... and felt compelled to make one immediately!

I stitched my flower instead of glueing it, and used quite a soft piece of felt (one of the 30% wool blend colours I sell in my shops) and it ended up a little lopsided / adapted from the original but I'm still rather in love with it. I'll definitely be revisiting the tutorial for future birthday gifts.

Poppy winners + a new tutorial

Thanks so much to everyone who entered this month's giveaway! The three winners were picked at random and are...

Fiona, who said: Oooh another chance to win one of your lovely brooches. I'd love a red one if I win.

Toby Tea Cosy, who said: Poppy red, we're I lucky enough to be chosen, they're all just gorgeous! x

and Sparkle Pants Girl, who said: I have been eyeing them for a some time now. I can't decide between red or white. Ooooh, red it will have to be!

In other news... I've been working on a new brooch tutorial inspired by April showers:

Come back tomorrow for the full project :)

Tuesday 27 April 2010

WIP Challenge - week 2

My workbox-clearing challenge continues, and last week was all about poppies:

Whilst sewing on all those beads I've been listening to some recordings from Librivox. I discovered Librivox (an archive of free audiobooks from the public domain) after one of my lovely blog readers recommended it, and I'm a total convert. So many great books to listen to, and all for free! Gosh, I love the internet.

Monday 26 April 2010

Knitting Club

As regular readers will know, I like knitting but I'm not very good at it. I've never managed more than simple projects like scarves and blankets, but I dream of learning new fancy stitches, knitting things from "proper" patterns and swapping tips with other knitters.

So imagine how delighted I was to hear from my former boss that she's starting a weekly knitting group! The Gloucester Cathedral Knitting Club will be meeting in the Cathedral's coffee shop on Wednesday afternoons from 2-4pm (first session: Wed 5th May).

I'm really looking forward to it. In a moment of super-keenness I even got a book on knitting out of the library at the weekend which I hope will prove as helpful as it looks:

Have you ever joined a knitting group? I'd love to hear your experiences... And, of course, if you're in the area on Wednesdays and fancy a bit of knitting do come along!

Friday 23 April 2010

Flower Sale

All this lovely spring weather has inspired me to do some spring cleaning in my shops. Lots of my Eco Flower brooches and hair combs are now on sale over in my Etsy shop:

All my Eco Flowers were created using felt made from recycled plastic bottles, and each one is topped with a vintage button from my stash. Grab a bargain and help me make room for some new designs!

UPDATE: My large felt flower design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns:

Thursday 22 April 2010

Pink Shoes!

I am in love with my new shoes:

I feel like a total girl for blogging about shoes (and pink ones, at that!) but they are making me smile a lot this week. I'm really tempted to treat myself to the matching turquoise pair...

Wednesday 21 April 2010

April Giveaway - Poppies!

It's time for this month's giveaway! Hurrah!

This month there's three chances to win as I'm giving away THREE large poppy brooches.

The large poppies are a new version of one of my favourite designs* and are available in red, pink and white. Each brooch measures 3 inches / 8 cms across and will look lovely pinned to a jacket, sweater or summer dress (I've got a white one pinned to my spring jacket at the moment).

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me which colour you would like if you win. I've got lots available in each of the three colours, so each winner will get the colour of their choice :)

Leave your comment before 10pm (UK time) on Wednesday 28th April and I'll pick the three winners at random on Thursday. I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter.

EDIT: comments for this giveaway are now closed.

*I've still got some of the old version available... they're on sale at a bargain price here.

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Number Crunching

I've been busy working on my accounts today. YAWN.

Day-to-day I write everything in my accounts book by hand and then I'm supposed to type it all up at the end of each month in a nice neat spreadsheet, print it out and file it neatly with that month's receipts ready to do my tax return. If I actually got round to doing this every month it would be a perfect system!

In reality, I end up having a massive paperwork blitz this time each year to catch up on all the months I've missed. It's very dull, but it's quite nice looking back over the past year and getting an "overview" of all my business ups and downs.

Along with my accounts I've got a few other admin tasks on my to do list at the moment - including sorting through all the photos on my computer (oh my goodness what a mess those are in!) and gradually re-taking photos of my older designs, like the sunflower brooches above.

I'm hoping to get as much admin as possible out of the way before the warmer summer weather arrives and I start wanting to go on picnics and to spend my afternoons reading PG Wodehouse novels in the sunshine instead of stuck at a computer...

UPDATE: My sunflower design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Monday 19 April 2010

Political Crafting

My boyfriend is very involved with the local Liberal Democrats and currently has election fever!

So I have been making him some political badges to wear on his coat...

... one in the shape of the Lib Dem logo:

... and one embroidered with "I agree with Nick", which has apparently become an unofficial Liberal Democrat slogan after Gordon Brown said it (about the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg) so many times during last week's debate:

Sunday 18 April 2010

WIP Challenge, days 2-7

I've had a really busy week filled with admin and other non-crafty things. Very dull!

Working on my works-in-progress challenge through the week has made a very nice change from all the boring (but oh so important) businessy tasks that have filled my to do lists.

I've only managed to finish a few things... a couple of poppy bracelets, some moustaches and a cherry blossom hairband ...

... but I've been working on lots more! :)

Honestly, whose idea was it to cut out all those poppies and moustaches, eh? Oh, wait, it was my idea, wasn't it? Sigh.

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! (and will soon be joined by my cherry blossom design, too!) Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Saturday 17 April 2010

Abstract circles

Gosh I've been such a lazy blogger this week. Many apologies :)

Normal service will be resumed shortly but in the meantime here's a quick snap of what I've been working on this week - lots of abstract circles for a custom mobile. Love all those yummy colours!

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Spring colour for my stash

I've been stocking up on lots of supplies this week, and while buying lots of much more sensible things I just couldn't resist treating myself to this giant roll of polkadot ribbon...

... and this yummy felt trim:

I'm going to use the ribbon to tie up bundles of felt and orders that need giftwrapping, but I've got no idea what I could use the trim for (it was just too gorgeous to resist!). It's about 20cm wide and I've got a couple of metres of it so there's lots to play with... Any ideas?

Monday 12 April 2010

Clearing out my workbox, day 1

I got totally absorbed in my WIP challenge yesterday and ended up with a big pile of finished bits and pieces... wonderful feeling!

Lots of flower brooches and hair combs made from recycled felt (leftovers from a big batch I made last year), plus some battenburg brooches:
Lots and lots of "butterfly flowers" - I cut out the pieces for these a while ago, and stitched them together yesterday:
And I finally finished some of those necklaces! I need to buy more ribbon before I can finish the rest but I'll be gradually be adding them all (along with the eco flowers and battenburg brooches) over in my Etsy shop this week.

UPDATE: My large felt flower design is now available as a sewing pattern! (The pattern for the other flower brooches, and the flower necklaces, is coming soon too!) Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns:

Sunday 11 April 2010

A workbox challenge!

I mentioned yesterday my bad habit of starting things and then getting distracted, moving onto other things and leaving projects half-finished in my workbox for months (and sometimes even years).

Well, I've decided to try to break this habit - and to do so I've set myself a challenge to finish every single project in my WIP boxes!

I'm hoping that blogging about it will help me stick with it, and instead of constantly feeling a bit guilty about all these bits and pieces I've never got around to finishing I'll have a clean crafty slate ready to start lots of fun new things.

I've been making a start today... beginning with some long-neglected battenburg brooches:

Saturday 10 April 2010

Better late than never...

Back in January I started work on some necklaces, and half-finished a whole pile of them in lots of yummy colours...

... and then (rather typically) I got distracted by some new project or other and they've been sitting in a box ever since. Tsk tsk.

Anyway, I've started work on them again this weekend, and have been happily sewing on lots of beads whilst listening to spy thrillers on the radio and enjoying the sunshine. It's a lovely relaxing task and I'm determined to get them all (finally!) finished this week. I hope you will all nag me about it if I get distracted again :)

Friday 9 April 2010

New things

There's lots of new stuff in my Etsy shop today...

New versions of an old favourite - large poppy brooches, now with more beads:

New butterfly headbands, which are making me feel so summer-y! The butterflies are native British species:

Plus a new (and one of a kind) a BIG flower brooch made with luxurious 100% wool felt:

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! (And the pattern for that big flower brooch is coming soon, too!)Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Thursday 8 April 2010

Hello from Rob

I've got a lovely work experience student helping me out this week, and today he's going to do a guest post while I put my feet up and have a cuppa! Enjoy :)


Hello everyone! My name is Rob Jones, I'm on my second year of illustration at the University of Gloucestershire and I have recently been getting work experience in the world of crafts! I've already been at Stuffed Nonsense with Bex and El, who make really nice toys and were very kind for letting me get in the way in their shop for a couple of days!

And now for the last two days I have been working with Laura , I have learnt so much about crafts in this time by annoying her with my many many questions and helping out where I can, Laura runs an amazing business and is also a very busy person so I would like to thank her for taking the time to help me over the last two days :)

The animals that have been posted are my first attempt at handstitching toys, they are pretty much the starting point of my final major project which is going to be based on British eccentricity, they are also helping towards my first stop motion animation which is a very scary thought!

Anyway.. all of my development will be on my blog at some point soon so I look forward to any comments if anyone finds it interesting :) - rob

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Vintage florals

When my sister came to visit at the weekend she came bearing gifts, including some vintage fabric in a fabulous floral print:

How lush is that? No idea what I might make with it yet, but it's a lovely addition to my stash. I never seem to find the time to do "proper" sewing, but that doesn't stop me hoarding fabric for endless future projects.

Monday 5 April 2010

Easter Treats

I hope you all had a lovely Easter!

We didn't do much, but my sister came to visit which was very nice. We enjoyed the sunshine, watched the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who (I thought it was pretty good - and I was quite a big fan of David Tennant), and ate some lovely chocolate.

I adore the packaging from the eggs the boyfriend got me...

... he bought them to be eco-friendly (no plastic wrap for these eggs) but I love those colours and that pattern is just lovely. The chocolate was rather yummy too :)

Thursday 1 April 2010

A workbox update

As you may have noticed from my shop announcements, I'm taking a few days off from "shop stuff" over the long Easter weekend. We're not doing anything special but as the Post Office will be closed anyway it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a break from packing and posting and all the other admin that goes along with this online selling lark.

I won't be taking a break from crafting though, that would just be too weird!

First thing on my crafty to do list? Finishing these forget-me-not brooches:

As well as cutting out all those tiny forget-me-nots & enjoying the rhythm of sewing all those tiny stitches, this week I've been making lilac flower headbands (I love making those little felt buttons!), more snowy owl brooches , and finishing an extra-large flower brooch which will be making an appearance in my Etsy shop sometime soon.

Have you got anything planned this weekend? Will you be doing anything crafty?