Saturday 30 April 2011

Happy Corners

Oh lovely homes on design blogs and in magazines, how stylish and perfect you are! And how depressing it is to compare you to my own humble little flat! (does anyone else feel like this when reading design blogs?)

However, I am determined to stop wishing my flat was design-blog-perfect (which, let's face it, it never will be) but instead to celebrate all the small things in it which make me happy. Here are a few corners making me smile at the moment...

Pictures on the walls next to where I work at the kitchen table:

Working in the kitchen is not very glamorous (piles of washing up = not inspiring!) but these pictures always make me happy.

(Let's not mention all the other prints I've had for years and still not got round to framing and/or deciding where to display them. Shhh...)

Much beloved bedroom drawers:

I fell in love with the chest of drawers on the right after seeing it in a charity shop near my old flat in Bristol (despite at the time living in a fully furnished flat with no room for extra furniture!). It fits perfectly under our very slopey ceilings, magically matches the giant wardrobe that was here when we moved in, and we managed to find the drawers on the left in a Gloucester charity shop on our first furniture shopping trip. Hurrah!

Atomic coat hooks:
Love these. They're usually hidden under more coats than that though!

A vintage corner:

I blogged about this corner last year when I "temporarily" hung up these curtains... naturally, they're still there. I thought the boyfriend would hate them but he (amazingly) said he quite liked them and they're so gorgeous I don't want to take them down just yet :)

Bunting on the spare bed:

I made the felt bunting for a tutorial and it ended up (totally by accident) being the perfect size to hang on the end of the spare bed. The rest of the spare room is usually a big mess, but the bed + bright blankets + bunting = lovely.

And one more - beloved vintage suitcases:

I love storing things in vintage suitcases, they're so much more fun than boring boxes.

The bright teal suitcase was a bargain charity shop find, and is currently full of fabric. The brown suitcase belonged to my grandmother and is full of things that need mending... it also doubles as a doorstop!

Now, I just need to remember how happy these corners make me and try not to worry about too much all the bits inbetween ... and all the housework which hasn't been done because I was too busy sewing ;)

P.S. apologies to anyone who got this post twice in their blog reader. Technology & I are having issues today!

Giveaway Winners: Sew, Making + Find it, Make it

Time to announce the winners of this month's giveaways! The winners were picked at random.

The winner of the copy of Find it, Make it is Mikayla who said... "I work with children and would love to win this book to share it with them!"

And the winner of the copies of Sew & Making is Cassandra who was the very last person to comment before the deadline (great timing!). She said... "A little late to the party...but not too late thankfully! These magazines look great. I bet there are oodles of interesting things inside. :)"

Thanks to everyone who entered, and for all your comments during book week - I hope you all enjoyed it xxx

Friday 29 April 2011

Two Dozen Poppies

I took some time off work over the long Easter weekend, but though I can manage to switch the laptop off and avoid checking my emails etc too often I find it much harder to stop sewing... especially when watching TV in the evenings.

After so many years of crafting in front of the TV it just feels weird watching telly without stitching something at the same time! So I picked a nice relaxing sewing project for the weekend and gradually created a whole field of poppies:

These poppies will become brooches and hairbands but for the moment they're just sitting in my wip box looking pretty :)

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

Monday 25 April 2011

Giveaway: Sew + Making

As promised, another giveaway! Not a craft book this time, but two crafty magazines instead :)

I'm having a big clearout at the moment as I don't have room to keep all my crafty stuff... and I'd much rather these magazines went to a loving crafty home than got recycled!

One lucky commenter will win both magazines: the launch issue of trendy UK crafts magazine "Making" (published Nov/Dec) and the December issue of Sew Magazine (issue #17) which is jam packed with sewing projects, including a dress pattern.

As always, I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Just leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win! (If you're reading this on my Facebook page please click through to my blog to leave your comment on the original post).

Leave your comment before 10pm on Friday 29th April and
I'll pick a winner at random on Saturday 30th.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a link or email address so I can contact you, or make sure to come back to see if you got picked.

*** This giveaway is now closed ***

Sunday 24 April 2011

Book Review & Giveaway: Find it, Make it

Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of Clare Youngs - I've reviewed her books Papercrafting in no time and Scandinavian Needlecraft in recent months and loved them both. So I was really interested to see her new kids craft book Find it, Make it.

I don't have kids (or neices or nephews either...) but I grew up making things and tried to judge this book based on whether or not I thought my younger self would have wanted it for Christmas :)

Find it, Make it contains "35 step-by-step projects using found and natural materials". The book starts with a section called "getting ready", about what you'll need for the projects, and at the back there's a useful chart of items to collect on your walks / from your garden.

The projects themselves are divided into "play and display" (a pressed flower picture, letters made from painted twigs, a shell wind chime), "playtime" (twig boats, handmade paper with leaves and flowers in it), "gift ideas and jewellery"(a slate brooch, printed giftwrap, and an amazing ice bowl full of flowers), "colourful characters" and "amazing animals" (herb head flower pots, pinecone bugs, and a sweet pebble owl family).

Each project includes a list of suggested materials, any extra "words of wisdom" about working with or preparing the materials and step-by-step instructions, each of which is illustrated with a how-to photo showing a child doing that step. Any templates needed are included in the back, and are all full size. Very helpfully, child-friendly instructions are also included for how to copy the templates out of the book.

There's a bit of talk in the book about how "green" these projects are, but really I think this is quite an old fashioned (in a good way) craft book - a book to get kids exploring the outdoors to find materials, and then giving them lots of ideas for making fun crafty things with what they find.

You could sneak in a lot of facts about the natural world while working on projects from this book with your kids, and using found materials plus basic crafty supplies like glue and paint and ribbon makes the projects very inexpensive. I think my younger self would have had a lot of fun with this book in the Easter and summer holidays... but as I'm a bit old for it now I'm giving away my review copy, which is a lovely hardback. Hurrah!

Just leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win. (If you're reading this on my Facebook page please click through to my blog to leave your comment on the original post).

As always, I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Leave your comment before 10pm on Friday 29th April and I'll pick a winner at random on Saturday 30th.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a link or email address so I can contact you.

P.S. there's going to be another crafty giveaway tomorrow :)

Find it, Make it is available from CICO Books, 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]

*** This giveaway is now closed ***

Saturday 23 April 2011

Book Review: Fun with Stitching

Fun with Stitching by Fiona Goble (published by New Holland Publishers) contains "35 cute sewing projects to turn everyday items into works of art"... but I think a clearer description of its contents would be that it contains 35 cute embroidery patterns with lots of project suggestions to get you inspired to start stitching.

The book starts with a guide to the materials and tools you'll need to embroider the designs, a guide to basic embroidery stitches and three different methods you can use to transfer the patterns onto your chosen fabric.

Most of the book is taken up with the 35 embroidery projects - each cute motif is photographed stitched onto a suggested fabric item, e.g. a design featuring a whisk, spatula and slotted spoon is stitched onto a teatowel, a sleeping kitten is stitched onto the pocket of some kids pajamas.

There's an owl, a little toadstool house, a skipping girl, a caravan, a smiling sun and raincloud, clothes hanging on a washing line, a little boy walking a dog, a sailboat, and lots more...

All the projects have cute titles like "let them eat cake", "the cat's whiskers" and "elephants on parade" which I think definitely adds to the fun factor. The bullet points in the instructions are also shaped to look like little buttons, which is a very sweet detail, and all the embroidery patterns are full size which is always a good thing!

Each project page includes step by step instructions on how to stitch the design onto the item shown, how to add any embellishments, and suggestions for other items you could sew the design onto.

When I first flicked through this book I was a bit disappointed that it just seemed to contain embroidery patterns... but at the back there's a guide to stitching a few of the items shown so you can decorate your own: a table mat, a cotton bag, a cushion cover, a fabric lined knitting box, a child's apron and a doorstop. No templates are included in this section, but there are measurements and diagrams so you can create your own templates, plus step by step instructions on how to sew the projects.

All the motifs in this book are very cute, and not too complicated so they'd be quick and easy to stitch - great for beginners or for more experienced stitchers who just want small motifs to decorate a gift, or sewing projects that don't involve a huge time commitment.

I think this would be a perfect book for anyone with an eye for all things cute, or for anyone with kids or other young relatives they want to stitch things for, especially as there's a good mix of "girly" designs (e.g. an adorable fairy) and more boy-friendly motifs (e.g. a sailboat and a truck).

Slightly off topic - when looking up this book on Amazon I was interested to discover that Fiona Goble also wrote Knit Your Own Royal Wedding, which has been getting so much press lately! (psst - if you like the look of the knitted wedding, the Guardian have a free pattern to knit your own corgi, HERE). Clearly a very talented crafty lady!

Fun with Stitching is published by New Holland Publishers, RRP £12.99. The lovely people at New Holland are offering my UK readers a 20% discount and free postage and packaging if you buy the book direct from their website. Hurrah!

Enter the code Bugs for your 20% discount and free P&P. Offer valid until 31st December 2011 to UK residents only.Fun with Stitching is also available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: New Holland Publishers sent me a free copy of this book to review. The Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]

Thursday 21 April 2011

Book Review: The Crafter's Companion

A couple of years ago, one of the women I used to work with (before I quit my "day job") gave me a copy of The Crafters Companion as a present. It came out in 2006 so it's probably old news to a lot of you, but it's so different from the other craft books on my bookshelves that I thought it was worth a mention in book week!

The Crafter's Companion (edited by Anna Torborg, and published by Snowbooks) is subtitled "tips, tales and patterns from a community of creative minds", and that sentence is a pretty good guide to the balance of the content in the book.

If you just want a craft book to teach you how to make stuff I think you'd find this book quite disappointing. There are some simple sewing patterns in the back of the book but most of the designs featured in the photos throughout the book (including the two on the front cover) are not included in the patterns section.

Even the ones which are included are a bit frustrating - e.g. I love the little elephant pouch (which is one of the more complex projects) but it's photographed in the book with matching lion and monkey pouches, for which no patterns are included.

The main focus of the book is instead on the crafty lives of the 17 bloggers featured, with photos of their crafts, inspiration boards and workspaces, and interviews discussing why they create, what inspires them and where they work.

The workspace photos are great - the photo quality varies but I think this actually gives the book a "realness" to it that you can never get in books with exquisitely styled professional photography - but the real goodness is in the interviews which are so interesting and inspiring, especially the sections on "why I create".

Some of the bloggers featured are still blogging regularly, and others have moved on to other things but this book is still an enjoyable snapshot of our crafty community - a craft book to read and re-read.

If you're interested in this book there's a great interview with the editor Anna over on Craftypod
about the crafty blogging community and how the book came to be written. If you've got a copy yourself, I'd love to know what you think of it! And if you've bought/read any crafty books with a similar interview-focus please do mention them in the comments :)

The Crafter's Companion is available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA. [Disclaimer: these are affiliate links]

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Book Review: Cute & Easy Crochet

I have to admit that don't know how to crochet, but after being sent a copy of Cute & Easy Crochet I am itching to learn.

Cute & Easy Crochet is written by Nicki Trench and published by CICO Books. It starts with a guide to "crochet know-how" and includes 35 projects divided into three sections: starting out, practice makes perfect, and confident crocheting.

The projects include blankets, cushions and scarves, coffee & tea cosies and things like baby bibs, slippers and bears. Each individual project is labelled as either a "beginner", "improver" or "enthusiast" level, so it's really clear which are the tricker projects within each section and a beginner like me would be able to select super easy projects when starting out and gradually develop my skill level.

The book has a soft vintage country cottage feel to it, which isn't a look I always love but there's nothing too old fashioned or twee, the colour combinations are all very yummy, and when I showed this book to the ladies at my knitting club there was much oohing and ahhing! I particularly like the stripey cafetiere cosy and this yummy blanket which I'm delighted to see is marked as a beginner project:

One of the lovely ladies at my knitting group has kindly promised to teach me the basics so - fingers crossed - I shall be crocheting squares in no time...

Cute & Easy Crochet is available from CICO Books, 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]

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Book Week!

Being self-employed I don't get proper "days off" over the long Easter weekend, but as the post office will be closed I do have an excuse to put my feet up!

I've got a big pile of books I want to nose through this weekend, so it seemed like a perfect time to have a book week here on the blog.

I'll be sharing my thoughts on an assortment of lovely craft books, and there'll be a couple of giveaways at the end of the week too :)

Monday 18 April 2011

A Royal Wedding Sampler, Stitched

This morning I was delighted to find a link in my inbox to this post on KJ's blog Let's Go Fly A Kite about how she taught herself cross stitch... and chose my Royal Wedding sampler as her third project.

She used the design to make a mini cushion (pillow), doesn't it look fantastic?

It is always so thrilling seeing photos of things people have made using my free tutorials. If you ever want to share pics of your finished projects, please do leave me a message here on the blog or send me an email to mail [at!] lupinhandmade [dot!] com

Friday 15 April 2011

A Place for Everything

I don't know about you, but I always have a gazillion works in progress lying about the place.

I've been using upturned box lids and pretty vintage trays to store my WIPs for years, but I've never had a proper place to keep them so I just end up with trays of felt sitting on tabletops, etc. which isn't really ideal, especially in a small flat!

I'm still using the trays as portable workspaces (especially when sewing on the sofa in the evenings) but I'm now using a collection of large cardboard boxes to keep my WIPs in. They used to have A3 paper in them, so they're pretty large - perfect for storing lots of projects!

They're exactly the right size to fit neatly on top of my large crafty storage boxes...

... and the third one sits comfortably on the very narrow shelf in this bookcase.

It's great being able to tidy them all away neatly at the end of the day. Just a small change but I hope it will make a big difference in helping me control my crafty chaos :)

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Texture + Teapots

My works-in-progress are, er, progressing!

Textured corsages are being beaded...

... and pink & purple teapot badges are now available from my Etsy and Folksy shops.

Monday 11 April 2011

In my workbox

Here are a few things I'm working on at the moment...

Flower garden crowns:

I'm making about half a dozen crowns, each one is a different shade of green and has a different trio of flowers. The crowns & the embroidered flowers are made from eco felt (recycled from plastic bottles).

Beaded corsages:

I'm making these flowers using some of the needlefelted felt I bought before Christmas. I'm hoping the soft, thick felt will result in lovely textured flowers with a more 3D effect than my usual designs... fingers crossed!

And (last but by no means least) teapot badges:

Cute teapot buttons + felt + embroidery thread (floss) = badges for tea lovers.

I've had these buttons in my stash for simply ages and thought it was high time I used them! I found some cute tea-themed charms I'd forgotten about, too, so expect quite a few tea-obsessed designs in the next few weeks :)

Sunday 10 April 2011

Sorting Colours

My "in use" felt stash has been getting a bit chaotic lately so this week I tipped them all onto the kitchen table and sorted them out neatly by colour...

... I'm sure it won't be long before they're all muddled up again though!

Saturday 9 April 2011

Layered Flowers

New in my Etsy shop - a quartet of layered felt flower brooches:

All the flowers are made up of lots of individual hand-cut petals, sewn together to make large corsages and topped with a cluster of seed beads. The larger flowers are a massive 5 inches (12.5 cms) across.

The orange and purple flowers are made from synthetic craft felt...

... and the pink and turquoise flowers are made from a couple of sheets of super thick handmade felt I bought last year. I didn't buy much of the handmade felt, so there's only one of each flower available.

The texture of the felt is gorgeous, and it creates a completely different look from the standard craft felt.

My favourite is definitely the turquoise flower - I'm really pleased with how nice the silver beads look against the bright turquoise blue.

Turquoise is one of my favourite colours. I probably use it too often but it's so hard not to be drawn to the colours I love when crafting and buying supplies!

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