Wednesday 29 February 2012

Scraps and Rosettes

On Monday I watched The Illusionist (which A made me blub and B made me want to start planning a trip to Edinburgh!) and cut out some felt shapes ready for sewing some bluetit brooches and auricula brooches. Even the leftover scraps look rather lovely:

Yesterday (Tuesday) I'd been planning on taking a trip into London to visit the V&A for a bit of inspiration but I wasn't feeling too well so had to postpone it in favour of a restful day on the sofa. Boo.

To cheer myself up I decided to have an impromptu "making day" and to work on a new design... The end result? Rosette brooches for champion tea drinkers:

Naturally, I drank lots of mugs of tea while working on these!

Each one will be decorated with a cute teapot-shaped button...

... and they'll be available in four colourways, hopefully sometime soon. I'll keep you updated!

P.S. talking of re-arranged plans, I'll draw the giveaway winners tomorrow :)

Monday 27 February 2012

How To Cut out Small Felt Shapes

One of the questions I get asked most often is "do you have any tips for cutting out small and fiddly felt shapes?"... I've written about it before in my guide to designing and making your own felt brooches, but I thought it would be helpful to have a separate post about it.

I always recommend buying a pair of embroidery scissors for felt crafting. The small, sharp blades make it much easier to cut out small or intricate shapes.

These are the scissors I use in my work - you can see how much smaller the blades are on the two pairs of embroidery scissors compared to the standard sewing scissors.

I sell a smaller pair of stork embroidery scissors in my shop. If you're going to be doing a large amount of cutting, you might want to invest in a pair with comfy handles (I bought mine from John Lewis).

I always roughly trim any excess felt around the paper pattern piece before I start cutting the shape - I find a small piece of felt is much easier to manoeuvre.

Hold the pattern piece in place against the felt between your thumb and fingers while you cut around the pattern.

Cutting out small or fiddly shapes can be tricky, so go slowly, turning the felt & pattern piece in your hand as you cut.

If the shape is really fiddly and/or if you're using a nice colour or some lovely felt you don't want to waste, you might want to practice on some unwanted scraps to get the hang of it before you cut out the shape for real.

Please do share any of your own tips in the comments :)

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Sunday 26 February 2012

Weekend Sewing

UPDATE: you'll find a tutorial for sewing barn owl masks and lots more fun felt masks for Halloween and costume parties over on my Patreon page.

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This weekend I'm working on lots of felt masks...

... foxes, barn owls, wolves and swans.

I've been making them gradually over the past few weeks, doing a bit of sewing here and there in between other tasks on my to do list. It's quite nice when you have lots of "almost finished" things like this, as finishing a big heap of things all in one afternoon feels rather splendid!

All the new designs I blogged about the other day have now been added to my Etsy shop, along with a spring oak leaf brooch which I made recently while restocking my spring leaf headbands. Click here to have a browse. All the bargain prototype pieces can be found here.

Friday 24 February 2012

New Things + a Nice Mention

I'll be adding lots of new things to my Etsy shop this weekend - hurrah!

There are lots of new spring flower brooches...

Pale yellow primroses:

And burgundy auriculas:

When I work on new designs I often end up with a few prototypes where I've tried out slightly different stitching/colours/etc before finalising the design. These will be listed at bargain prices, so keep your eyes peeled :)

There's also a new cherry blossom headband, with three pink flowers sewn on a long ribbon. This is an extra-fancy version of the elastic headbands with single cherry blossoms which are already available in my shops - for parties and summer weddings, or just for people who like their hair accessories to make a bit more of a statement!

As with the spring flowers, there are a couple of cherry blossom prototypes which will be listed at special prices... including a very fancy headband with five pretty cherry blossoms. 

I've also been playing around with a few forget-me-not designs. There's a mini brooch with a trio of forget-me-nots...

... and a sweet headband too:

Finally, there are a couple of owl masks. These have been in my "work in progress" box for months and months so it's very satisfying to have them finally finished to share with you!

This was my prototype design...

... and this is the almost-finalised design that I'll be adding to all my shops just as soon as I can get hold of some more of that light brown embroidery thread!

All these new pieces will be popping up in my Etsy shop over the next few days, just as soon as I can get them all listed. Remember, if you mention my blog during checkout when ordering anything from my shops this month your order will ship with a free gift.

In other news... my book got a mention in the 250th issue of Cross Stitcher magazine which came out this week. Yay!

Cross Stitcher are having lots of cool giveaways to celebrate their 250th issue (and 20 years of cross stitch goodness), visit their blog for all the details.

UPDATE: My primrose design is now available as a sewing pattern! (And the cherry blossom pattern is coming soon!) Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Thursday 23 February 2012

Making Day

I've decided to try and make Thursdays a dedicated "making day" - a special space in my week dedicated to brainstorming new crafty projects, trying out ideas and sewing new designs.

Here are a couple of very quick snaps from my first making day, today:

I'm looking forward to next Thursday already!

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Giveaway: Felt Bundles

As promised, here's another fun crafty giveaway!

Today's giveaway prize comes from Claire of fab blog Heart Handmade UK, who was having a spring clean of her supplies stash and has kindly donated a big pile of colourful felt for me to share with my fellow felt-obsessed readers because she is lovely :)

Do check out Heart Handmade UK, which is "jam packed with craft inspiration, interior design inspiration, crafty tutorials, giveaways and sew alongs"... and visit Claire's Etsy shop where she sells pretty vintage fabrics and other crafty bits and bobs. 

There are three bundles of felt up for grabs...

... each bundle is slightly different, but contains about 11 wool blend felt squares, 9 synthetic felt sheets (including some eco friendly felt made from plastic bottles), and a large piece of brown synthetic felt. Lots of felt, with lots and lots of possibilities! 

Three lucky winners will each win one of the bundles. 

Just leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win! I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Leave your comment before 10pm on Tuesday 28th February, and I'll pick three winners at random on Wednesday 29th February. 

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a blog link, Twitter username, Etsy 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.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Giveaway: Fluffy Yarn

Remember the long loopy scarves I knitted for my sisters at Christmas?

Well, I've got lots of that fluffy faux-mohair (100% acrylic) yarn leftover and - as there's a limit to the amount of fluffy scarves I can knit for my friends and family - I thought it would be fun to share some with you guys :)

I'm giving away one set of cloudy blue yarn...

... and one set of black yarn:

My scarves were knitted in basic garter stitch, knitting two strands of yarn together to make one thick strand. I used very chunky needles (needle size 000 / 15 / 10mm) and cast on about 15 stitches and then just kept knitting until the scarf was as long as I wanted. Then I cast off and stitched the ends together to form a twisted loop (like this). Easy!

If you'd like to knit your own loop scarf or have something else you fancy making from the fluffy yarn, leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win. Remember to say which colour you'd prefer! 

I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Leave your comment before 10pm on Tuesday 28th February, and I'll pick two winners at random on Wednesday 29th February. 

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a blog link, Twitter username, Etsy 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. 

P.S. pop back tomorrow for another crafty giveaway...

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed.

Monday 20 February 2012

Bargain Bits and Bobs

It was sunny yesterday - hurrah!

Sunshine is always nice (especially when you're knitting a sky blanket and you're getting a bit bored with day after day of grey skies) but it's especially welcome when you've got a big pile of things you want to get photographed and added to your shops.

I've been having a bit of a crafty clear-out and there are lots of "destash" bargains to be had.

Over on my website you will find... (you may need to scroll down a bit)...

A bundle of embroidery thread (floss), just 67 skeins instead of the 72 I normally sell in a pack together... listed at a bargain price. Update: Sold

A set of 10 black buttons. I used to sell these and thought they'd sold out... but I found this one last pack at the bottom of a box. Yay! Update: Sold

A button covering tool that works perfectly, but which I'm selling cheap because it's not neatly attached to its  original packaging like it should be. Update: Sold.

Packs of plastic combs for decorating how you fancy:

A set of three plastic headbands. Update: Sold.

Rainbow packs of elastic headbands:

And some sets of giant wooden buttons which I consider to be "seconds" - they don't measure up to my normal quality standards so I don't want to sell them full price, but they are still pretty cool buttons! Update: the giant buttons listed on my website have now sold

Over in my Etsy shop, there are more sets of bargain buttons...

Two bargain packs of felt squares which are also "seconds" - squares with small holes punched down one edge, or with a small mark on them, or which are not quite the 9x9 inch size they should be. Update: both packs have now sold

And two big bundles of elastic headbands for people who want to make lots of hair accessories. Update: both packs have now sold

Remember, if you mention my blog during checkout this month your order will be posted with a free gift :)

Sunday 19 February 2012

A Rainbow of Embroidery Thread

I finished winding all my embroidery thread onto those cardboard bobbins...

Next came the fun part: sorting it into colour order to make an embroidery thread rainbow!

The rainbow is pretty (oh so pretty!) but also practical as I can see at a glance what colours I've got in my stash.

If you fancy organising your own embroidery thread stash, I've added some boxes to the craft supplies section on my website. There are large boxes...

... and small ones too:

Each box comes with lots of card bobbins for winding your thread, but I've also got packs of card and plastic bobbins you can buy separately if you fancy organising your threads neatly but already have a box to keep them in.

Over in my Etsy shop you can buy sets of boxes + embroidery thread: a large box & 72 skeins of thread, or a small box and 36 skeins of thread. Here's one I wound earlier:

Friday 17 February 2012

Celebrating Five Years of Blogging!

January 16th was my FIVE YEAR blog anniversary! Wow.

I wrote a note to myself before Christmas to remind me to do something in January to celebrate my blog-iversary... and then lost the note in a pile of paperwork. I just found it again yesterday, a month late. Oops.

Oh well, better late than never, right? :)

Since starting this blog I've written over 1,200 posts and shared over 60 crafty tutorials. My most popular post? Definitely my felt butterfly mobile tutorial (although the paper snowflake curtain comes a close second).

I don't have stats from the very start of my blog back in 2007, but (according to Google Analytics) from December 2008 until yesterday my blog has had 1,052,728 visits, 585,671 unique visitors, and 2,588,332 pageviews. Oh my actual gosh.

I could waffle on for hours about how much I enjoy blogging and how much it has changed my life, but basically I love you guys, you are awesome. Thank you SO much for reading, for linking to my blog, etc, and for all your kind comments over the years.

To celebrate my five years of blogging, if you mention my blog while ordering anything from my website, Etsy shop, Folksy shop or DaWanda shop this month I'll include a free gift with your order. This offer ends at midnight UK time on 29th February 2012. If you miss the box to leave a comment during the checkout process don't worry, just send me an email straight afterwards.