Wednesday 31 August 2011

Learn to Quilt: Winner

The winner of the copy of Learn to Quilt is...

... davybidosa, who said "This would be OH so helpfull! thanks for the wonderful chance"

It was great reading all your comments - fantastic to see so many people excited about making their first quilt & it's nice to know it's not just me who feels a bit lost / unsure where to start in the big wide world of quilting! :)

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Simple Sewing

Thanks to some pesky moths, one of my woolly sweaters now has a row of little holes in it! Very annoying.

Luckily it was the only woollen garment being stored in that particular cupboard, but in case the moths decide to go hunting for more delicious knitwear to nibble on I've been speedily sewing a stash of lavender sachets to keep them at bay.

Dried lavender from my mother's garden + some bits of old pillowcases found in my scrap box + a few hours watching old movies = lots of simple sachets to stick in cupboards, drawers and suitcases under the bed. I've also sewn a couple with ribbon loops attached so I can hang them in my wardrobe.

They're very plain and functional but I quite like them that way, possibly because it's really satisfying using up old scraps like this (waste not, want not, right?), or perhaps just because they're so different to the normal colourful things I sew.

Monday 29 August 2011

Knit Knit Knit

After a few months being a bit (a lot) obsessed with crochet, the urge to knit is creeping back in... perhaps it's the weather?

I'm not knitting anything fancy, just using up odd balls of yarn to knit squares which will - eventually, one day, far far in the future - become a blanket or two.

I've just finished knitting with the lilac yarn, and am currently working my way through the bright pink. Yum. Next up: a ball of that lovely not-quite-jade, not-quite-turquoise colour.

Saturday 27 August 2011

How To: Oak Leaf Yarn Wreath

Today I'm sharing a tutorial for how to make your own yarn-wrapped oak leaf wreath. It feels a little bit weird posting an autumn (fall) craft project in August, but as I'm sure all my UK-based readers will agree it definitely feels like autumn at the moment!

This project originally appeared in the Autumn 2010 issue of UK Handmade, a fantastic free online magazine celebrating the UK craft scene.

The oak leaf wreath is decorated with a yummy autumnal shade of yarn and oak leaves cut from paper or felt.

To make your own wreath you will need:

- Either a ready-made wreath base from a craft store, or some corrugated cardboard, two plates, a pen or pencil and some scissors
- A ball of yarn
- Gold or brown paper, or brown felt
- A darning needle and sewing scissors
- Oak leaves to draw around, or the oak leaf templates at the bottom of this post

1) First you need to make the base for your wreath. Use a large dinner plate to draw a circle onto a piece of stiff corrugated card, then use a small plate to draw a second circle in the centre of the larger one. Use a pair of scissors to carefully poke a hole in the centre of the card and, starting from the hole outwards, cut out the middle circle until you’re left with a doughnut shaped piece of card. If you're using a store-bought wreath shape you can skip this step!

2) Now you need to hide that boring base with some lovely yarn. Choose yarn in a rich, autumnal shade and remember that the chunkier your yarn the less time you’ll have to spend wrapping your wreath.

Make a few small balls of your chosen yarn – these will be much easier to thread round your wreath shape than one large ball, and you want you can use two or three strands of yarn at a time to make the yarn-wrapping stage even quicker

3 ) Tape or the loose end of the first ball to what will become the back of your wreath (or just tie it tightly to secure it to the wreath) and gradually wrap the yarn round and round and round the card until you run out of yarn.

Tie the end of the first ball and the start of the second together (so the knot is hidden at the back of the wreath) and continue wrapping. Keep doing this until your wreath is evenly covered in yarn and none of the wreath base can be seen peeking through.

Tie the final end of yarn into the back of the wreath and trim any loose pieces.

4) Set aside your wreath for the moment and print and cut out the oak leaf templates provided (alternatively you can collect your own oak leaves to use as templates, or use other leaves that grown in your part of the world).

Using your leaf templates, draw an assortment of leaf shapes onto gold paper and cut them out. If you can’t find any gold paper, you can always use gold spray paint to decorate plain brown paper leaves or leave them as they are for a more natural, rustic look. You could also use brown felt, or a mix of autumnal leafy shades.

5) Now it’s time to decorate the wreath. Cut a length of the same yarn you used to wrap the wreath and knot the end onto the back of the wreath.

Using a darning needle make a small stitch at into the base of yarn wrapped around the card where you want to position your first leaf and then make one long stitch down the bottom half of the leaf. Your stitch should start and end at the back of the leaf. Finish by making another small stitch in the base of yarn to help keep the leaf in place.

Repeat this process with each leaf shape, gradually layering the leaves on top of each other as you work your way down the side of the wreath. You will use several lengths of yarn doing this, as before tie the final ends of the yarn into the back of the wreath and trim any loose pieces so they are not visible.

You could alternatively glue the leaves in place, or if you're using a polystyrene wreath base you could use pretty pins to stick your leaves into the base.

6) Finally, use another length of yarn (or a piece of co-ordinating ribbon) to hang the wreath in place. Please note that the wreath is not waterproof, so you'll need to hang it indoors or on a porch where it will be well sheltered from the elements!

This wreath would also look lovely made in a springtime colourway - just use green paper or felt for the leaves instead of brown or gold, and use a bright and cheerful shade of yarn.

Here's a template for some leaves, including a selection of oak leaves in different sizes. Click on the image to view it, then click again to view it full size and print.

This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many wreaths and leaf-themed things 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 25 August 2011

Stockings for Craft Hope

Have you heard about Craft Hope? They describe themselves as "a love inspired project designed to share handmade crafts with those who need them. It is our hope to combine our love for crafting and desire to help others into a project to make a difference around the world."

For their current project (Project 14) they're collecting homemade stockings for some of the 12,000 families that lost everything when tornadoes struck the southeastern US. The stockings will be added to holiday boxes being put together by a local charity who will distribute them to the families in November.

If you fancy making a stocking (or several) for this project, you can find all the important info about the project, the stocking requirements and the deadline HERE.

If you need some stocking inspiration, the lovely people at Lark Books are giving away three stocking projects from recent and upcoming books... including my stocking project from Fa La La La Felt!

You can download the stocking patterns HERE.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Giveaway: Learn to Quilt

Two giveaways in one month? I am spoiling you, really I am :)

One lucky reader will win a copy of Learn to Quilt by Sharon Chambers, a beginners guide to quilt making.

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!

Leave your comment before 10pm on Tuesday 30th August and
I'll pick a winner at random on Wednesday 31sth August.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym - no anonymous comments please! - and leave a blog link, Twitter username or email address so I can contact you (if I'm unable to contact the winner within two weeks, I will pick someone else).

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed.

Book Review: Learn to Quilt

With quilting on the brain after my visit to the Festival of Quilts earlier this month, now seemed the perfect time to review a book about learning to make quilts!
Learn to Quilt
by Sharon Chambers looks like a perfect book for people like me who are new to the wonderful world of quilting but are itching to get started.

The 96 page book begins with an introduction to the equipment you'll need and basic quilting techniques. Then it works through 13 different quilt projects, interspersed with guides to the different techniques you'll need for making the quilts - rotary cutting, working with triangles, foundation piecing, binding, etc.

Each quilt project and "how to" guide includes clear step-by-step photos, illustrations or diagrams and the text is dotted with useful tips learned by Susan during her years sewing quilts and teaching quilting workshops.

This isn't the sort of craft book I'd buy to oooh over the photos and get inspired by the fabrics and colour combinations, but it's definitely one I'd want by my side as I tackled my first few quilting projects.

Learn to Quilt
is published by New Holland Publishers, RRP £7.99. 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.
Enter the code Bugs for your 20% discount and free P&P. Offer valid until 31st December 2011 to UK residents only.
Learn to Quilt 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]

P.S. New Holland accidentally sent me two copies of this book, so I've got one to give away! Hurrah! Check out the next post for details.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

All Stocked Up

I am not going to run out of brooch bars for a while...

... and now have no excuse not to get these brooches finished immediately!

Monday 22 August 2011

Festival of Quilts 2011

As promised, here's a (much longer!) post about the Festival of Quilts.

I have to admit to knowing very little about quilts and the wonderful world of quilting (I have never made a quilt in my life) but after seeing so many fab quilting projects on other peoples blogs lately I've been very tempted by it.

Then I heard people mentioning this mysterious thing called "FoQ", found out more about it and could not resist buying a ticket. I'm very glad I did, because it was quite wonderful!

If you've never been before, The Festival of Quilts is a mix of exhibition spaces (displaying quilts and other textile pieces) and retail spaces (selling fabric, thread, buttons, felt, embroidery patterns, books, magazines, stitched wares by an array of designer/makers and all manner of other crafty goodness). Oh, and there are classes and talks too though I didn't go to any of those.

Here are just a few of the quilts which caught my eye...

Stars and hexagons quilt by Lu Summers of Summersville (made using her own screenprinted fabrics)
Huge quilted flowers:

Teacups quilt! Complete with panels made from old tablecloths, 3D teacups, ring marks and (if you look closely at the bottom there) brown seed beads spilling out of a torn "teabag".

One of the competition winners. The detail and bright colours in this = amazing.

A lovely traditional quilt - I loved the pattern and fabrics used in this.

A knitted quilt! Knitted pieces, stitched together in the log cabin style and quilted. So many hours must have gone into this...

Black and white quilt with circles of richly textured & incredibly detailed colour embroidery. Gorgeous.

A detail from a quilt made as a series of panels. This quilt makes me want to make an embroidery sampler RIGHT NOW.

A memory quilt about the quilter's teenage son's travels in his gap year. There was a map of his journey in the centre and then the rest of the quilt was covered in extracts from his emails home during the year. (Apologies for the very blurry photo - my camera is rubbish!)

I was also very pleased to get a chance to see Lu Summers' Portholes quilt (which won its category at last year's Festival) as it was displayed on the Fat Quarterly stand...

... and I got to meet lots of lovely crafty people, including Lu (Summersville) and Kirsty (Love PaperFish)...

... plus Katy (I'm a Ginger Monkey) and Ruth Singer.

I was also delighted to discover the work of Janet Clare...

... who sells gorgeous embroidery and applique patterns over in her Etsy shop including (be still my beating heart!) two sets of patterns for making quilts appliqued with British birds.

I didn't do much shopping - though I wrote down a lot of shop names to visit later when I've got the funds and/or a specific sewing project in mind - but I did treat myself to some wooden flower buttons and some super cute mini ric rac.

I've included some standard sized ric rac in the photo so you can see just how tiny the mini ric rac is. I bought the buttons & ric rac from different stands, but I was clearly in the mood for those colours that day, huh?

All in all: total textile overload! I'm already planning to go back again next year, maybe for two days as there was just so much to see.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Swoonworthy Product Styling

Having treated myself to a Cath Kidston bag last month in their sale, this month I received their new catalogue in the post.

I've mentioned before that I'm not the world's biggest Cath Kidston fan, but I found myself "ooohing" over their British Birds design and this gorgeous product shoot in an old library:

You can view the catalogue (including the rest of the delicious library photoshoot) HERE.

Friday 19 August 2011

Taking a Short Break

September is looming, and there are lots of things on my "to do before the end of summer" list which haven't yet got done. So, I'm taking a short break to concentrate on getting some admin, etc out of the way and to work on a few new projects for the autumn. I'll still be blogging and answering emails etc but I won't be posting any parcels next week.

Any orders from my shops placed between 21st-28th August will be shipped when I get back to work on the 29th August. If you want anything posted before then, please get your order in today or tomorrow!

And just because a blog post without a picture feels very weird, here's a snap of some almost-finished brooches lined up and waiting for the postie to deliver a new supply of brooch bars:

Wednesday 17 August 2011


I am very definitely a "cat person", so - even though we don't currently have a cat of our own - I just had to buy this fantastic poster by What Katie Does:

It's inspired by vintage advertising, and lists all the health benefits of cat ownership in classic Victorian style.

Want your own wonder-cat poster? You can buy them HERE.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

A Barn Owl

UPDATE: want to sew your own felt barn owl mask? You'll find templates and a step by step tutorial over on my Patreon page.  
Subscribe to get instant access to a growing library of PDF embroidery patterns and craft tutorials, and updates when I add something new!

Ooh look, something new: a barn owl mask!
I've had this design in my head for simply ages so it was very satisfying to get the pattern drafted, the felt colours chosen and the stitching finished.
There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you've finally got a design "just right" and how you pictured it in your head!
The owl mask is available from my Etsy shop.

Monday 15 August 2011

Festival of Quilts

I took a trip to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last week and it was AMAZING.

So many interesting quilts, so much stitchy, textiley goodness to see and buy... and I got to meet lots of lovely crafty people including Kirsty of LovePaperFish, and Lu of Summersville whose fantastic quilt we're posing in front of in this pic:

(thanks to Kirsty for the photo)

I'll be writing a longer post about FOQ sometime soon, but in the meantime you can see lots of pics over on Kirsty's blog HERE.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Crafty Bits and Bobs + Giveaway Winner

Thanks to a clearout of my craft supplies stash there's an assortment of new crafty bits and pieces available in my supplies shops this week.

Over on my website there are...

.... lots of little cardboard boxes, perfect for gift-wrapping homemade jewellery:

... a bundle of 29 random skeins of embroidery threads leftover from other projects and listed at a bargain price (UPDATE: these have now sold)

... and a roll of lovely yellow felt trim: (UPDATE: this has now sold)

And in my Etsy shop you can find...

... four embroidery hoops in a fab "faux bois" design (UPDATE: these have now sold)

... and a set of 36 feather butterflies in bright rainbow colours (UPDATE: these have now sold)

In other news: the winner of the felt buttons is...

... Molly Laurel who said... "I was just going to comment about how great the buttons are! :)"

Thanks to everyone who entered! It was awesome to read all your comments and know I'm not the only one who is bonkers about buttons!