Friday 30 November 2012

The End of Book Month: Giveaway Winners

As Book Month comes to an end, it's time to announce some lucky winners!

The winner of the copy of The Needlecraft Stitch Directory is...

Kay, who said "Yes please, it would make a great early Christmas present for me."

And the winners of the copies of Martha Stewart's Crafts for All Occasions are...

Inka, who said "Thanks for the opportunity to get this book! I'd love to have one :)"

and SMILE factory,who said "I love craft books! Thank you for a chance! :)"

I've got a whole bunch of crafty books that I've still not reviewed (too many books and not enough time!) so there'll be a review or two popping up over the coming months... but I hope you guys have enjoyed the crazy flurry of reviewing that was Book Month!

I have to admit it can be tricky to come up with useful things to say about craft books sometimes beyond "this is a nice book with nice crafts in it" but I do try to make my reviews as useful as possible. I hope you've found them helpful and maybe discovered a book or two to add to your Christmas wish list?

You can find links to all my crafty book reviews HERE.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Free Tutorial from Christmas Crafting In No Time: Pompom Decorations

As I mentioned yesterday, today I've got a lovely free project to share with you guys from Christmas Crafting In No Time by Clare Youngs - pompom decorations!

Templates for the decorations are included at the bottom of this post. If you've never made pompoms before, you may find this tutorial helpful.

Pom-poms are enormous fun to make and a great way to introduce children to craft. These decorations have a homespun, folky appeal, but are brought bang up to date by using cool colors in cream, pale blue, and green. Pom-poms in bright colors also make a lovely addition to gift-wrapped presents.

Cream wool yarn
Air-erasable pen or dressmaker’s pencil
Scraps of felt
Cream embroidery floss (thread)
Embroidery needle
Pom-pom trimming in matching color
Felt balls in matching and contrasting colors
Sewing needle and matching thread

1. These instructions are for the heart-shaped decoration. To make the other shapes, use different combinations of pom-poms and felt pieces. Make some pom-poms using cream yarn. For the heart-shaped decoration, make a small pom-pom, approx. 3⁄4 in. (2cm) in diameter or use pom-poms from a length of trimming.

2. Copy the heart template on page 163 and cut out two heart shapes from felt.

3. Use an air-erasable pen or a dressmaker’s pencil to draw the embroidery design on one felt heart, following the guidelines on the template.

4. Using embroidery floss (thread), embroider the design on one of the hearts.

5. On the other felt heart, pin the pom-pom trimming to the inside of the heart, all around the edge. Sew in position with small stitches and matching thread.

6. Thread a small pom-pom taken from some trimming onto some embroidery floss (thread) and thread on a felt ball. Take a couple of small stitches (without going all the way through the felt) across the heart with the pom-pom trimmed edge. Bring the needle out at the top of the heart.

7. Thread on some more felt balls or homemade pom -poms. Take the needle back down through the last pom-pom on the thread, leaving a loop to hang the decoration. Secure the thread.

8. Place the embroidered heart shape on the back heart shape, wrong sides facing. Sew together with small stitches all around the edge.

To print the templates - right click on the image and select to view it in another window or tab, then click again (if necessary) to view them full size and print.

Christmas Crafting in No Time by Clare Youngs is published by Cico books at £14.99 and is available from all good bookshops. All images are © Cico Books

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Book Review: Christmas Crafting In No Time

Time for the final book review of Book Month! I hope you've enjoyed the reviews & that you've seen a book or two that appeals to you :)

I was pretty sure that I'd like Christmas Crafting In No Time by Clare Youngs before I even saw a copy of it, as I loved her previous book in the series, Papercrafting In No Time and also loved another of Clare's books, Scandinavian Needlecraft.

And guess what, I was right! I love this book and I want to make so many of the things in it.

Christmas Crafting In No Time is the same size as the Papercrafting... book: it's a large book with 170+ pages and 50 different projects. It includes a really wide mix of different crafts: papercrafting, sewing, clay modelling, working with tin, papier mache, printing, baking, cooking, candle making... plus other projects like glueing twigs together to make a reindeer.


The book is divided into five chapters: decorations, cards and gift wrap, cooking for Christmas, gifts and table decorations. There's a short guide to embroidery stitches at the back of the book, and each project includes detailed step-by step instructions with an easy to follow illustration for almost every step. There's a mix of easier / quicker projects and more detailed / time-consuming / advanced projects to choose from.

I like how in the cooking section, you're given instructions not just in making the items themselves but also in presenting them for gift-giving, so you could actually apply them to other cooked/baked gifts as well (I especially love the mini baubles tied to that jar of quince jelly - such a simple idea but so nice)

Some of my favourite designs from the book include these reindeer cards made with layered tissue paper...

... this "paper patchwork" gift-wrapping idea...


... and this yummy winter throw:

There are a couple of projects in the book which are similar to designs in Clare's previous books, but there are no actual direct repeats just instances where she's made a similar project but used a different motif.

For example, Scandinavian Needlecraft also includes stockings with embroidered designs in a similar style but the designs themselves are new ones (and actually in this instance I think the similarity is a bonus as you could mix and match the designs from the two books quite well to decorate Christmas stockings or other items like cushions).

These are the stockings in Christmas Crafting In No Time ...

... and these are the ones in Scandinavian Needlecraft. See what I mean? Similar (especially the snowflakes) but not a repeat. Plus they are so gorgeous!

Finally, the only niggle I had with Papercrafting... was that most of the templates in the back of the book needed enlarging (even most of the small ones needed enlarging by 125%), so I was really pleased to see that almost all of the templates in this book are full size!

Christmas Crafting In No Time is published by CICO Books. RRP £14.99. It's available from 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]

P.S. Rather awesomely, I've got one of the projects from this book to share with you guys tomorrow! Yay!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Lieblingsstücke aus Filz

My bookshelf has a rather exciting new addition... the German edition of my book!

It's called Lieblingsstücke aus Filz & it's a lovely chunky hardback:

It's slightly surreal seeing all the projects I'd written translated into another language, but quite exciting!

It's also lots of fun seeing what all the projects are called auf Deutsch :)

Monday 26 November 2012

Vintage Glass Christmas Ornaments

Look at these lovelies!

I borrowed them from my mum to use as props for a couple of photos, and couldn't resist taking a few snaps just of the ornaments themselves as they're just so gorgeous.

I love how the boxes have the original prices still on them. 35p!

If you're a fan of vintage baubles, you might like these super pretty free printable ornament gift tags from Little Paper Dog:

Those tags would make sweet ornaments, don't you think? Or you could make some felt baubles with this ornament tutorial which I shared last year.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Current Works in Progress

Wanna see some of the stuff I've been working on recently?

I've been sewing something very colourful using these pretty supplies...

... and doing a bit of research (and lots of sketching) for something new.

I've also been sewing a couple of sets of gingerbread cookie ornaments using the patterns from my book, Super-Cute Felt. These are going to be Christmas gifts for my sisters (they asked me to make them, so I'm not spoiling a surprise by posting this photo, don't worry!).

And I've made a start on finally finishing one of my oldest WIPs - a quilt I started making back when I was a student, about 10 years ago. All the squares are hand stitched and I'm planning on hand quilting it too, so there's lots of hours of work still to go!

Saturday 24 November 2012

Giveaway: Martha Stewart's Crafts for All Occasions

As I mentioned when I reviewed it yesterday, the publishers of Martha Stewart's Crafts for All Occasions  are giving away two copies!

Please note that this giveaway is open to UK residents only.

Want to enter? Just leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win. Leave your comment before 10pm on Thursday 29th November, and I'll pick two winners at random on Friday 30th November.

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 or the either of the people I pick turns out not to be from the UK then I will pick someone else.

Apparently some people are having problem leaving comments on my blog at the moment. If you're unable to leave a comment here on my blog, you can enter via my shop's contact form instead. Please make sure you say which giveaway you're entering! 

Update: this giveaway is now closed.

Friday 23 November 2012

Book Review: Martha Stewart's Crafts for All Occasions

Martha Stewart's Crafts for All Occasions contains a massive 225 projects covering a whole host of occasions: New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas.

As a British crafter, Martha Stewart is one of those figures of whom I'm aware but not overly familiar. I see some of her projects popping up on blogs and Pinterest from time to time, and I bought some issues of Martha Stewart Living many years ago when I lived near a Borders with a great magazine section but that's about it. Mostly I just remember being slightly frustrated after falling in love with recipes which required ingredients that just aren't available in British supermarkets!

So the fact that "portions" of the book are apparently republished from the magazine and are available on her website isn't really something that bothers me as I'm coming to these designs pretty fresh. (My general ignorance of the world of Martha Stewart also means I have no idea what proportion of the book are repeats, sorry!)

All the projects in the book are pretty gorgeous to look at, with top notch photography and styling. It was very hard to choose just a few projects to photograph for this review, which is always a good sign I think.

Even the chapter headings are lovely - this leafy one is especially swoon-worthy:

The book is a smallish, chunky hardback - 350 pages long and about 24cms (9 1/2 inches) high and the 225 project ideas it contains vary in complexity from simple creative ideas (illustrated with a single photo of the finished item) all the way to detailed tutorials with step by step photos.

There are an assortment of ideas for seasonal flower arrangements (like making a spring bouquet look like a nest), and for festive details like these place cards...

... plus suggestions for gift wrapping, like embellishing leaves with metallic paint and glitter to decorate Christmas parcels...

... and lots of simple crafty ideas like adding little felt hearts to a shirt, and making chains of tissue paper hearts to decorate the table:

Then there are slightly more complicated (but still very accessible) tutorials like making map coasters, a flower pop up card and embroidered Christmas cards...

... and more time-consuming projects like making embroidered Valentines or decoupage eggs:

The 4th of July section is a bit irrelevant for the UK market (and I guess for most places outside of the USA?). The Halloween section might have been a few years ago too, but it's become a lot more popular to have Halloween parties and go trick or treating here in recent years. There's a guide to pumpkin carving and lots of cute projects that would be great for a Halloween party, like these papier mache pumpkins:

Most of the Thanksgiving section is just autumnal projects, but there are a few things a UK-based crafter would be likely to skip over like paper pilgrim hats.

A lot of the projects require very specific craft supplies, the sort of things that are usually available from big box craft stores like Hobbycraft. For example, one of the Halloween ideas is to cover cardboard skulls with glitter - you're gonna need some cardboard skulls for that! Some of the projects are more adaptable though, e.g. these butterfly basket place cards on the surface would require you to buy a table's worth of artificial butterflies and mini baskets, but you could get a similar effect with cut-out paper butterflies and pretty teacups.

There are a few projects which seemed a tad on the bonkers side to me, e.g. wrapping eggs with thread would be an easy way to make me go completely insane (though I guess if you're a really patient person, the end result would be rather lovely). Some of the supplies seem a bit mad too - one of the decorating ideas involves "100 stalks of wheat"! Is this something that's readily available in stores in the US?? Because I wouldn't have a clue where you'd buy something like that here in the UK!

Usually I check what sizes the templates are, but there are actually no templates or patterns in this book. Instead, all the templates, patterns and clip art needed for the projects are available online (the book includes the URL where they're located on the Martha Stewart website). So instead of photocopying or tracing from the back of the book, you download and print what you need.

I actually think this is quite a neat idea, as as long as you've got access to the internet and a printer it'd be more convenient to download and print a PDF than faff about enlarging a pattern at a copy shop. I do worry a little about the book's longevity though, as will the online resources still be there in 5 or 10 years time when you get the book down from the shelf? I'd love to know what you guys think about this way of doing things!

Martha Stewart's Crafts for all Occasions is published by David & Charles. RRP £19.99. It's available from Amazon UK, RUCraft, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.  The US edition of this book - Martha Stewart's Handmade Holiday Crafts - is available on Amazon USA.

[Disclaimer: David & Charles sent me a free review copy of this book,and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]

The lovely people at David and Charles are giving away copies of Martha Stewart's Crafts for all Occasions to two of my UK-based readers. Yay! Come back tomorrow for the giveaway!