Saturday 31 August 2013

Lots of Copies of Super-Cute Felt Animals

A lovely parcel arrived yesterday - a box full of copies of my new book:

I am probably a bit biased, but I think the spine is pretty adorable!

Some copies have already been snaffled by my folks, but the rest will be available (signed by me) in my shop after the official UK publication date (12th September). I'll be sure to post here on my blog when they're available to buy :)


In the meantime, these copies will be living on my bookshelves where I can gaze at them lovingly.

Another nice thing - my new book got it's first press mention: a little review in the latest issue of fab craft mag Mollie Makes (#31).

Many thanks to the lovely people who let me know they'd spotted my book in here xxx

Kind people letting me know they've spotted my work featured in magazines, etc, is often the only way I find out about it so if you happen to spy my new book mentioned somewhere please do let me know (you can leave a comment here on my blog, or give me a shout via my Facebook page or my Twitter account) and I will love you forever (well, maybe not, but it will be much appreciated!).

Thursday 29 August 2013

Book Review: ReCraft

It's time for a book review!

Today I'm reviewing ReCraft: How to Turn Second-hand Stuff into Beautiful Things for your Home, Family and Friends by Sarah Duchars and Sarah Marks (the founders of Buttonbag).

The book begins with an introduction to Buttonbag (who make and sell a range of craft & sewing kits for children) and the philosophy behind ReCraft. They write about how making new things from old, second-hand items can be fun and thrifty and eco-friendly but how it can also spark your creativity: "ReCraft means asking 'what can I turn this into? rather than 'what do I need to make this?'"

They also talk about materials, and how "a second-hand shirt is the ReCrafter's best friend", with a double-page spread of projects from the book that they made from old shirts (though a lot of these projects could be made with any fabric like a pretty vintage sheet or pillowcase). The second-hand shirt is a great example of how charity shops and jumble sales are great sources of cheap-as-chips fabric for your crafty projects, and how if your supplies aren't expensive you're free try out new skills or to really experiment instead of worrying about wasting precious pieces of special fabric.


There's a short guide to the basic supplies and sewing techniques you'll need to attempt the projects, then the 50 projects in the book are divided into categories: Toys, Baby Stuff, Family, Friends, and Home.

Friends is mostly jewellery and accessories (bags, button necklaces, fingerless gloves, etc). Family & Home are both a mix of small gift-y things and homewares - with things like aprons, a lego clock, cushion-covers and jam jar candles under Family and projects like record bowls, decoupage tables, covered notebooks and Christmas decorations under Home.

All the projects are rated to show the level of skill/difficulty involved - from projects where you only need basic skills, to projects where you may need to use a sewing machine, to projects that involve more complicated techniques.

Some of the projects are more detailed with step-by-step instructions (illustrated) and templates provided in the back of the book (if required) others are more like "crafty ideas" with just a photo of the finished item and a paragraph of text about how to make it.

There are several projects where the only photo of the finished item is in the introduction to the chapter - the project page itself just being illustrated with a drawing of the finished piece.

I have to admit that I like craft books that have lots of inspiring, eye-candy photos in them, so I would have preferred to see more photos and fewer illustrations especially as some of the projects aren't shown as finished items at all, just illustrated.

As for the projects themselves I think there's a very nice mix of designs in this book. There are quick and simple crafty ideas but also bigger, more detailed projects... things you could make as gifts for a whole mix of different age groups.... and though there are some projects you've probably seen elsewhere (like making button necklaces or fabric bunting or record bowls) there are some really fun, fresh ideas in there too, like the lego clock and these super cute "hoodlets" (I especially love the dragon one!).

Importantly for a book that's based on going down to your local charity shop and making stuff from your finds, most of the projects are either made from easy-to-source materials or can be adapted slightly to make use of what you can find. The only project that stuck out a bit for me was the idea for rescuing and restoring an old deckchair. I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever seen a deckchair in a charity shop! (Maybe they're really common finds if you live near the seaside??)

I think if you're the sort of person who can't bear to throw old stuff away in case you can make something from it, if you're a fan of the recent trend for "upcycling" or you're a teen or student who wants to make affordable, fun things to decorate your room or as gifts for family and friends you'll find lots to love about this book.

ReCraft is published by Frances Lincoln Ltd. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

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

Wednesday 28 August 2013

A Few Things I'm Working On...

This week I've been sewing some felt owl masks that have been in my work-in-progress box for a while...


... winding some embroidery threads so I can add them to my main thread stash....

... packaging up and labelling some finished pieces...

... re-organising & tidying my packaging supplies...


... finishing sewing-together my slightly random blanket...


... making a start on weaving in the ends...

... working on a new layout for my Book Reviews page (when it's finished it'll look like my Crafty Tutorials page with lots of neat little thumbnails)...


... and choosing walls in my studio to hang some prints.

I've also ordered some copies of my new book, Super-Cute Felt Animals so I can offer signed copies in my shop in a few weeks time (my mum wants a copy too!).

The official UK publication date is September 12th but rather excitingly, copies of Super-Cute Felt Animals are already available over at Amazon! After months and months of working on this book & then keeping its contents a secret, it's so thrilling that copies of it are heading out into the world. I am so excited and nervous to hear what people think of it!

P.S. You can find a sneak peek at some of the projects from the book here.  

P.PS. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

What are your Favourite Craft Blogs?

So, I need some new crafty blogs to read on my teabreaks...

I'd love to know what blogs you guys recommend - please leave a comment on this post and let me know your favourites! Oh, and if you have a blog of your own do include the link to that too :)

Sunday 25 August 2013

How To: Felt Crowns

UPDATE: this project is now available as part of my Patreon pattern library.

Click here to find the Felt Crowns Tutorial and to sign up to my Patreon. 

Subscribers get full access to a growing library of PDF patterns and tutorials, and emails whenever new projects are added. You can unsubscribe at any time. 


Fancy making some felt crowns? These are great for fancy dress parties and Halloween, birthday parties, dressing up sessions and for any other occasion when you fancy wearing a crown and pretending to be a king or queen, a princess or a prince.


There are two designs - a basic crown and a slightly more detailed "princess" crown. You can follow the colour schemes shown, or choose any colours you want when making your crown. You could also personalise the crown, for example by adding an embroidered initial in the central circle, or adding extra detail to it with decorative embroidery, sequins or pretty buttons.


The instructions in this tutorial are for making a crown that will fit an adult or older teen. If you're making a crown for a younger child, use shorter lengths of elastic (and print the template sheet at a slightly smaller size if needed). If you're making it for a young child, make sure to sew all the pieces on very securely, avoid using choking hazards like buttons, and always supervise them when they wear the crown.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Victoria Embankment Gardens & The National Galleries

For this week's nice day out, I went up to London again. I was a little tired & didn't quite feel up to exploring lots of new places, so I decided to revisit some places & galleries I've been to before. First stop, the Victoria Embankment & Cleopatra's Needle.


Then I had a relaxing walk through the Victoria Embankment Gardens...

... I've had a lot of impromptu picnic lunches here over the years on my way in or out of central London, but I've never walked the whole length of the gardens or paid much attention to the statues and memorials dotted throughout them. It was very nice to take the time to stop and look at everything closely, to read all the inscriptions...


... and discover things like the fact that this gate at the edge of the gardens marks where the bank of the Thames used to be before the Embankment was built.

Then I walked to Trafalgar Square - looking at Nelson's Column, of course, ...

... but also taking time to look at all the interesting architecture around the square...


... and cracking bits of street furniture, like these intricate street lamps:

I went to a little exhibition of contemporary Inuit art at the Canada House Gallery which was rather interesting (I loved the sculptures).

Then I got out of the rain & went to The National Gallery for lunch (they sell some amaaaazing cakes)...


... and for a look at some of my favourite paintings. I've been to the National Gallery a lot over the years - one of the great pleasures of free galleries/museums is being able to go back again and again to revisit your favourite displays. And, of course, discovering new favourites on each visit!

Finally I went to visit some more old favourites at the National Portrait Gallery - the Early Tudors & Elizabethans galleries - & to see the pictures in this year's BP Portrait Award exhibition.

Excellent stuff all round.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Another Blanket-In-Progress

I've made a start on task #5 on my Crafty To Do List: sewing a bunch of knitted squares together to make a blanket.

This blanket has been a work in progress for YEARS - I actually knitted some of these squares way back when I was a teenager. In person you can really tell which ones they are, the knitting is so uneven! It's nice to know that my knitting skills have improved over the years, even if I still stick to pretty simple projects.

Since last January I've been gradually using up yarn from my stash to knit more matching-sized squares, and now I've finally got around to laying all the squares out on the floor, planning an arrangement, taking a photo of them...

... and then using the (rather terrible, but still useful) photo as a guide to sew the squares together in the right order. The colours are slightly random, but they don't look too bad together and no matter how the finished blanket looks it'll still come in handy for keeping cosy on the sofa in the winter.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

80s Child: Badges

I've been sorting through lots of boxes as part of my Less 365 project (trying to clear out / declutter / give away one thing a day for a year) and I found my childhood badge collection!

I've often read (on the sort of blogs that are pro-minimalism & anti-clutter) that you should take photos of sentimental items and then get rid of the objects themselves, because who needs them? And to be honest I thought this was a bit bonkers. What is wrong with keeping something that has sentimental value, and reminds you of special times, places or people?? For myself, at least, looking through photos of special, sentimental items I used to own would just make me sad about giving them away! 

But actually, looking through some of the collections of things I aquired in my childhood (what is it about kids and collecting things?) I can see the usefulness of this recording-the-object-in-a-photo idea. I can take a photo as a record of / celebration of the whole collection, and then clear out all the badges (or erasers or shells or whatever else I accumulated as a kid) that no longer have a strong emotional tug. For example, I am absolutely keeping the badge with a badger, hedge & bridge on it (made by my friend Rosemary for our very nerdy reading & spelling club) but do I need/want badges about not littering? No, I do not.

Did you have a badge collection as a kid? Or did you collect other things?

P.S. if you fancy it, you can also check out this old post about my sticker collection :)

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Forget-Me-Not Brooches & a Raincloud Mobile

Thanks to me finishing a batch of them at the weekend... forget-me-not brooches are now back in my shops! You can find them in my Big Cartel shop & in my Etsy shop.

This batch has slightly different colour leaves to the previous ones I've made (a mossy green instead of a spring green), for the simple reason that I cut them out from the wrong colour felt! Oops. I think they still look great though!

I've also added a felt cloud mobile to my Etsy shop. This is the sample I stiched for my raincloud mobile tutorial. If you liked the tutorial but don't fancy sewing your own cloud, now's your chance :)

Monday 19 August 2013

Getting Stuff Ticked off Lists

Remember that big list of crafty things I needed / wanted to get finished?

I've already finished #2 (making pompoms for little knitted hats), #6 (using up my stash of leftover yarn to knit more little hats and moss stitch squares), #14 (finishing a couple of owl masks), #15 (finishing a swan mask) and #20 (sewing eyes on lots of felt owls)... and I managed to tick a few more things off the list this weekend... with the help of my furry assistant!


I've been gradually working on #13 (sewing lots of felt birds) over the past few weeks and finished the very last batch yesterday - some bluetit brooches. I also finished some cherry blossom and forget-me-not brooches (#16 & #17).

I crossed #12 (altering the sleeves of a vintage dress) off the list very quickly after trying the dress on and deciding that actually I don't like the fit any more & am pretty unlikely to actually wear it... so instead of spending ages altering it I've just added it to the charity shop pile. Life is far too short to faff about altering dresses you're probably not actually going to wear!

I also finished weaving in all the ends for my leftover-sky-blanket-yarn blanket (#4) and I have (finally!) almost finished my sky blanket (#3). I just need to weave in about half a dozen more yarn ends, and then sew on the button I bought to mark where the year begins. 

Here's the last heap of yarn ends trimmed from the blankets...

... and here are both the blankets, waiting for me to add that button:


You can see how much chunkier the original sky blanket is compared to the one I've knitted from the leftover yarn!

Oh, and I've also finished prepping the 13 free tutorials I'll be sharing as part of my book launch next month. It feels great to have got all those tasks ticked off & have all the posts scheduled and ready to go!