Monday 27 June 2016

The Sample Sale Has Begun!

All the items in my sample sale have now been listed over at lauralupinsells. There are dozens of felt brooches, decorations and other bits & pieces available - all at bargain prices.

Monday 20 June 2016

Sample Sale: this Sunday!

My clear-out continues!

I've got a big box in my studio filled with projects from some of the books I've worked on. I loved making them but it's time to make some space and send these out to new homes, so I'll be having a sample sale this weekend :)

Here's a peek at a few of the pieces I'll be listing...

Christmas things from 'Tis the Season to be Felt-y.


Garlands from Banners, Buntings, Garlands & Pennants.


A floral ring pillow from Mollie Makes: Weddings.

Woodland animal brooches from Mollie Makes: Woodland Friends.

A space mobile from Craft Camp.

Plus lots of little felt animals and other cuties from Super-Cute Felt Animals (and the accompanying extras!)

I'll be listing everything over on Instagram - at lauralupinsells - this Sunday, 26th June, from 10am (UK time).

If you follow my sale account you'll see everything pop up in your feed as I list them. I'll also be posting a couple of reminders on my main Instagram account - lauralupinhoward - so you'll be able to click over from there.

You can leave a comment on an item to claim it, but if you don't use Instagram don't worry! You'll still be able to browse all the listings, then you can send me a message via my contact form to let me know what you're interested in.

I'll be listing the price and UK postage of each item, but I'll combine the postage for each parcel and only charge what it actually costs to post (in the UK you can send up to 2 kilos second class for just £2.85, hurrah!).

Friday 17 June 2016

50 Small Ideas for Cultivating Kindness, Happiness and Positivity

With the sort of news we've had this week it can be all too easy to think "everything is terrible!", to become overwhelmed with sadness or feel lost at your inability to fix these huge problems.

But there are lots of small, everyday things you can do to be kind to yourself and to others and quietly cultivate goodness and happiness. We can't all go out and save the world, but we can make it a nicer place to live in dozens of tiny ways. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

1. Go outside - gaze at the vastness of the stars, or walk through the grass and appreciate the simple goodness of daisies and ladybirds and leaves and other tiny wonders.

2. Donate something. You don't have to have a huge clear-out and take big bags to the charity shop, you can give away a single CD you never listen to or a dress that's no longer your style. You can even donate your tatty old clothes to H&M for recycling (and for each bag you donate, they give you a £5 voucher).

3. Gift or lend something to a friend - a DVD box set you've finished that you know they'd love, a book you've read that you think would be just their cup of tea. (Bonus: if they do love it, you can get together for a cuppa and chat about how great it was!).

4. Wait and hold a door open for someone.

5. Buy something extra at the supermarket and add it to the box for the local food bank or animal shelter (or whatever other organisation is collecting donated items in store). "3 for the price of 2" offers are especially great for this when they're on non-perishable items - buy two for yourself and give away the third.

6. Do some colouring in. There are so many great colouring books available nowadays, you're sure to find something that appeals to you and there's something incredibly relaxing about getting absorbed in a nice bit of colouring in! You'll also find loads of fabulous free printable colouring pages online, shared by bloggers or posted as freebies to promote new colouring books.

7. Hug your loved ones. I often tell my mum "Oh no! I've just realised! You haven't had a hug for days! It's a hug emergency!" and give her a comically exaggerated bear hug.

8. Cuddle your pets (well... as much as your pets like to be cuddled!).

9. Watch animal videos on YouTube. I highly recommend videos of dogs having pool parties.

10. Read some of those cheesy lists on sites like Buzzfeed called things like "These 24 Stories Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity!" that make you (well, me, anyway) happy cry at how wonderful people can be.

11. Plant something and watch it grow.

12. Support a local or independent business. The Just a Card campaign points out how even small purchases really matter to indie businesses and how you don't need a huge budget to be able to support them. Buy just a card from that lovely gallery or craft fair, one small treat from the farmers market, one item off your grocery list from a local shop instead of the supermarket, etc. You can also support the makers and writers and artists whose work you love by recommending them to friends or re-tweeting (or otherwise sharing) their posts about new products or special sale offers.

13. Give up your seat on the Tube (or the rush hour train home) for someone who needs it.

14. Re-read a beloved book or your favourite poetry. You could also watch your favourite film or a lovely cosy TV show (my top tip: Due South, funny and sweet and filled with kindness and friendship). When you've worked your way through your faves, ask your friends what their favourites are.

15. Volunteer your time. Regular voluntary work is amazing, but if you can't manage that there are always one-off events like fairs and other fundraisers that people are looking for extra help with. Keep an eye out in your local paper for charities and other groups looking for volunteers, or check the websites of organisations like Oxfam for upcoming events.

16. Be understanding, forgiving and kind when dealing with other people. "When we see someone else kick a vending machine for no visible reason, we assume they are "an angry person".  But when you yourself kick the vending machine, it's because the bus was late, the train was early, your report is overdue, and now the damned vending machine has eaten your lunch money for the second day in a row."

17. Bake a cake or some biscuits and surprise your friends, neighbours or coworkers. Write a list of the ingredients so people with allergies or other dietary restrictions will know if they can eat what you've made.

18. Put some music on and do some housework - cleaning up your living space can be a great mood-booster. I like challenging myself to see how much I can get done in a certain amount of time (half an hour, one side of a record, etc).

19. Tick a task off your To Do list that you've been putting off for ages. Finally getting it done will make you feel great!

20. Bite your tongue when you want to say something bitchy or snarky, in person or online. Let the moment pass.

21. Make a home for nature in your garden (or on your balcony) and help birds, bees, butterflies and more.

22. Put your small change in the charity box at the till when you shop, or save it up for the next time you visit your local free museum.

23. When you're travelling, offer to help someone up or down stairs with a pram or heavy suitcase.  

24. Tell someone you appreciate them, send a thank you card or just say "hey, I don't say this enough but you make me laugh! I'm so glad we're friends!"

25. Turn off your ad-blocker for your favourite websites. If you can afford to, subscribe to your favourite publications instead of just enjoying all their free content.

26. Sign a petition for a cause you care about, or write a letter to support a campaign - check the websites of groups like Amnesty International, Water Aid, Oxfam, etc for ways you can get involved in their campaigning.

27.Get some exercise! You can start small: get up out of your chair and stretch, go for a walk, take the stairs instead of the escalator, etc. 

28. Give directions. I am really bad at directions (I can never remember where anything is or what the names of roads are, even when I walk down them every other day) but I keep a small map of central London in my bag so I can help lost tourists who want directions to Harrods or to know which Tube to get to Buckingham Palace - they're always so happy you helped them.

29. Expand your horizons by learning about people, places and things outside of your experience. Go to the library and borrow a book on something interesting, or go to a museum and fill your brain with fascinating new facts and stories. My skill set is definitely located firmly in the arts, but I love visiting museums about science and technology or watching documentaries about things like space exploration. "My goodness, science is amazing! All these brilliant people discovering all these amazing things! So amazing!!", I find it overwhelmingly impressive in the best possible way.

30. Offer to help friends when you know they're ill or going through a busy or stressful time. Something simple like popping to the shops for someone is easy to do (especially if you're doing your own shopping at the same time) but can make a big difference to someone housebound or with a zillion things on their To Do list.

31. Turn off the news, log out of your social media - take a break from the constant flow of news (good and bad) and anything that makes you stressed, inspires FOMO or encourages feelings of inadequacy. Nothing bad is going to happen if you're out of the loop for a little while.

32. Don't compare your inside to someone else's outside, and remember that everyone - everyone - no matter how "perfect" their life appears to be on the outside has worries and stress and problems that you never get to hear about. Remembering this is a great way to be kind to yourself (and not set yourself impossibly high standards that "everyone else" seems to be meeting) but also to be kind to other people (because you never know what someone else is going through behind the scenes).

33. Choose a goal you want to work towards, and dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to making it happen. Daily challenges are great for this - maybe try a daily drawing if you want to make more room in your schedule for art, or improving your sketches. Don't beat yourself up if you skip a day here and there - life gets in the way sometimes and that's okay! At the moment I'm trying to read for half an hour in bed each morning before I get up. I've been amazed by how many books I've been getting through and it's a lovely way to start my day.

34. Offer to babysit for friends with kids so they can have a night out, or just an afternoon off to catch up with those jobs they never have time for.

35. Feed the birds - set up a bird feeder in your garden, or go to your local river and feed the ducks something healthy. Watch the birds. Repeat.

36. Treat waiters and waitresses, shop assistants, and baristas how you'd want to be treated if you did those jobs. Be polite, smile, tip where appropriate! This sounds like the most obvious thing but it's amazing how many people treat people in service jobs like we treat Google, demanding what we want without a please or thank you.

37. Recycle! Check your local council's website to see what you can recycle and where.

38. Leave a comment on a blog post you've enjoyed or found useful (bloggers love comments!)

39. Make a positive playlist, play it loud and dance and sing along.

40. Look online for some free printable artwork to decorate your work or living space. Pinterest is a great place to search for pretty printables of all kinds - try searching for "free printable poster" or "free art printable" and you'll find hundreds of lovely designs to choose from.

41. Send someone a surprise postcard (proper post is always great, and surprise post is even better), or write an email to an old friend.

42. Have a long bubble bath, let your toes get really wrinkly as you unwind and soak away your stress.

43. Compliment someone's outfit, shoes, or amazing dyed hair. "Wow, I love your shoes!" "That is a fantastic coat!" is a great thing to hear from a passing stranger. Don't be creepy though, and avoid complimenting someone at the start of, say, a train journey where they'll be sitting next to you awkwardly for the next 30 minutes :)

44. Ring your elderly relatives, send them a letter or a card or some photos, or (even better) arrange to visit.

45. Have a cuppa with an elderly neighbour - tell them your news and let them tell you stories - or just stop to chat if you pass them in the street.

46. Buy someone flowers (or pick some from your garden) to cheer them up.

47. Take the time to sit and really look at something you love - a painting in a museum, a favourite view. Look at the details and think about what you love about it.

48. Get plenty of sleep. The world is always harder to handle when you're tired. I've been paying attention this year to all the things that get in the way of me getting enough sleep, and doing my best to make changes accordingly. No internet after a certain time in the evening (the temptation to sit up late clicking from link to link is just too strong), no telly after a certain time too - especially when watching a great box set ("just another episode!), and so on.

49. Help your older neighbours or relatives with physical chores like gardening that they might be struggling with.

And last but by no means least...

50. Make something, just for fun or as a gift for someone else. The process of making can be incredibly relaxing and meditative and there's nothing quite like the quiet satisfaction of creating something.

P.S. This isn't the usual stuff I tend to blog about, but I just needed to get this out of my brain and into a blog post. Many thanks to everyone who suggested things when I tweeted about this xxx

Monday 13 June 2016

My Insta-sale is now live!

I had a busy day yesterday getting all my destashed and decluttered bits and bobs listed over at lauralupinsells, and sorting out the first batch of invoices for the sold items.

If you missed the flurry of listings yesterday, don't be sad! There are still dozens of things available, including...

Craft supplies like... vintage buttons:

... beads:

... fabric: paint:

... and postage stamps:

Handmade things like... felt crowns:

... coasters:

... brooches:

... and pompom gift-wrapping packs:

Plus other lovely things like... tea towels:

... wrapping paper:

... colouring books:

... art prints:

... and more!

Head to lauralupinsells to see all the details! The UK postage shown for each item is for it posted solo. I'll combine postage for items bought together - you can send a shoebox sized parcel weighing up to 2kg by 2nd class post for just £2.85 in the UK, so most packages won't cost more than this to send (yay!). If you're elsewhere in the world, let me know your country and I'll check the postage for you :)

Leave a comment below the item(s) you're interested in, or send me a message via my contact form.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Destashing & Decluttering Sale: Starts Tomorrow!

I've been having a big clear-out over the past few weeks and have collected a couple of boxes full of stuff in need of new homes!

There are crafty supplies (fabric, buttons, felt, crayons, envelopes, thread, glass paint, books and more) and lots of other lovely things like art prints, magazines, wrapping paper, colouring books, tea towels and brooches.

I'm also selling some of my old designs, and some bargain samples that were stitched for my blog - felt brooches and ornaments, felt coasters and several embroidered pieces.

I'll be listing everything over on Instagram - at lauralupinsells - tomorrow from 10am (UK time).

If you follow my sale account you'll see everything pop up in your feed as I list them. I'll also be posting a couple of reminders on my main Instagram account - lauralupinhoward - so you'll be able to click over from there.

You can leave a comment on an item to claim it, but if you don't use Instagram don't worry! You'll still be able to browse all the listings, then you can send me a message on Twitter or Facebook or via my contact form to let me know what you're interested in.

I'll be listing the price and postage of each item, but I'll combine the postage for each parcel and only charge what it actually costs to post (in the UK you can send up to 2 kilos second class for just £2.85, hurrah!)

See you tomorrow :)

Wednesday 8 June 2016

How to: Make a Felt Biscuits Mug Mat

Cheer up your tea break with this colourful mug mat, decorated with a woven pattern of ribbons and a trio of fun felt biscuits. Bigger than a standard coaster, this mat has plenty of room for some tasty biccies as well as your cup of tea or coffee.

This project originally appeared in docrafts Creativity magazine last spring, and was made using supplies from the docrafts range including lots of pretty Anita's ribbons.

If you saw this project in the magazine, or remember me blogging about it you might remember that the final version had fewer ribbons. I rather like this super-stripey version but if you'd prefer something simpler, just leave off some of the ribbons :)

You could also stitch the felt biscuits to other things, or just add a circle of plain felt and a brooch clasp to the back to make biscuit brooches!

You will need:

- the templates provided
- light brown, dark brown and red felt (for the biscuits)
- pale blue felt
- canvas or other cream fabric
- assorted coordinating ribbons
- a ruler
- a pencil
- sewing thread to match all the felt, fabric and ribbons
- a sewing needle and pins
- sewing scissors 

To make the mug mat:

1. Use a ruler and pencil to mark a rectangle in the centre of a piece of canvas (or other fabric) measuring 11.5 x 16cm. Trim the fabric to leave a 2 or 3 cm seam allowance around the rectangle then fold and press the fabric to the size of the rectangle. Pin the edges then sew them with small running stitches and matching cream thread. Remove the pins.

2.  Cut a piece of pale blue felt measuring 7 x 16cm. Place the felt and the canvas together,  right sides facing, and join them together with a line of small whip stitches along one edge. Take care not to sew your stitches too tight! Then carefully press the seam open with your fingers so you now have a single flat rectangle, part fabric and part felt.

Tip: if you'd like to make the whole mat from felt, just cut a rectangle of felt measuring 11.5 x 16 cm in step one and attach this to the blue felt in step two.  

3. Cut up to 12 pieces of ribbon in a selection of colours – each approximately 22 cm long. To create the mat pictured use Anita's ribbons in deep purple, fuchsia, soothing blue, lilac mist, radiant red and turquoise. Plan the arrangement you'd like, laying the ribbons out on the mat.

The mat pictured has four horizontal and eight vertical ribbons, but you might want to use more or fewer ribbons depending on how wide they are and how busy you'd like your finished design to be.

4. Pin then tack the ribbons in position on the mat, as pictured. If you're covering the whole of the fabric with ribbons (as pictured), start with the far right vertical ribbon which covers the join between the canvas and felt.

Space the ribbons evenly, weaving them together in an over/under pattern where they cross. Once all the ribbons are tacked in place, remove the pins.


5. Use matching threads and tiny whip stitches (or small running stitches) to sew the ribbons in place. Sew along both edges of the ribbons, removing the large tacking stitches gradually as they’re no longer needed.

6. Make the felt biscuits using the templates provided and following steps A, B and C, below. Pin the three biscuits in place as pictured, then sew them to the mat with whip stitch and matching threads.

7. Cut a piece of pale blue felt measuring 16 x 18.5cm.  Pin the felt to the back of the mat and trim any excess felt if necessary. Sew the edges together with pale blue thread and whip stitch, removing the pins as you sew.

To make the felt biscuits:

A.  To make the choc chip cookie: Cut a pale brown biscuit shape then cut some dark brown felt “chips” freehand. Sew the chips onto the cookie at random using whip stitch and dark brown thread.

B. To make the jam sandwich: Cut a pale brown biscuit shape and a red jam shape. Sew the “jam” in the centre with matching whip stitches. Then decorate the biscuit with a pattern of long stitches in light brown embroidery thread.

C. To make the chocolate biscuit: Cut a dark brown biscuit shape. Decorate with lines of lighter brown embroidery thread, sewing lines of backstitch to create a lattice pattern.

Tip: for easy-to-sew embroidery thread, just use half the strands! Take care not to pull your stitches too tight and pucker the felt.


Click here to view the template sheet, make sure you're viewing it full size then print it at 100%.

This tutorial is for personal use only: you can use it to stitch as many felt biscuits or mug mats as you want for yourself or as gifts, but please don't make any for sale. You may borrow a photo or two 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 post or share the pattern itself on your site. Thanks!

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Monday 6 June 2016

May in Pictures: Secret Sewing, a Vintage Funfair, Mini Blanket Squares, and Royal Ice Cream

Time for another round-up of pics from my Instagram feed. What did I get up to in May?

At the start of the month it was straight back to work after my trip to Northumberland, as I had a couple of looming deadlines. These are some of the leftovers from a few hours hard stitching. One pair of scissors is for cutting paper, another for fabric and another for threads and small pieces of felt.

It can be frustrating not being able to share what I'm making, but at least I can show you some of the yummy supplies I've been using! Working on a couple of embroidered pieces means choosing just the right shades of thread (floss) - luckily I have lots to choose from:


One project involved this cheerful rainbow of felt, floss and thread.


After meeting one deadline, I got to stretch my legs and blow out the cobwebs with a happy morning spent exploring Bristol (one of my very favourite places). There's always interesting street art to see in Bristol!

I also went to see an exhibition at the city museum, and visited a really gorgeous little church: St John the Baptist, which is known locally as St John on the Wall because it's built into the old city walls. I lived in Bristol for years but had never been inside this church before - it's no longer used for services but it's opened by volunteers so visitors can look round. I loved this fading rose on one of the outer walls:
That weekend Carters Steam Fair was in town, which proved a perfect post-deadline treat. Carters is a vintage travelling funfair - all the equipment they use (the rides, caravans, lorries, etc) has been lovingly restored and beautifully hand-painted. It's a really magical experience! Click here to see where the fair will be visiting this summer.


With those deadlines met, I had a bit more spare time for crafting in the evenings and devoted some time to working on my happy rainbow blanket

Having nearly finished the blanket I was itching to start something new. I have approximately a gazillion projects already in progress, you understand, but I cannot resist the siren song of a new project! This vintage pattern (from a 1950s craft magazine) was originally designed for use with tapestry wool, but I'm thinking about using a mix of felt and embroidery to make something really colourful. I just need to pick a colour palette... decisions, decisions...

Now that I'd finished knitting the rainbow blanket squares, I also needed a new go-to easy project to pick up at the end of a long day when I want something simple and relaxing to work on. So, I've started knitting the many, many white squares I'll need to complete my mini patchwork blanket. Someone on Instagram commented that this looks like a T-Rex and you know, I totally see it!

My resolution to send more Proper Post is going well. I couldn't resist this sheet of cute postage stamps to cheer up my letters. These animal shapes are designed to fold over the edge of an envelope so they look like they're clinging on. Super cute, huh? These will be so much fun to send (and, I hope, to receive!).


In the middle of the month I had a super busy Nice Day Out in London with a friend. We went to so many places! And saw so much cool stuff! I'll be blogging about all the awesomeness we saw another time (sooooo much awesomeness) but I couldn't resist sharing a few snaps. London is filled with so much amazing stuff.


I also took an impromptu trip to nearby Windsor to visit Windsor Castle with my dad. As local(ish) residents we get into the Castle for free, but my dad hadn't been for years and years. Windsor is always a gorgeous place to visit, and we arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard ceremony (complete with bagpipes!). Before heading home, we treated ourselves to some ice cream and I was delighted by how fancy the tub was (just look at that gold! plus: ice cream from royal cows!).

My dad laughed at me a lot for taking this photo :)

In the evenings I continued to work on finishing my happy rainbow blanket, and I finally finished sewing in all the yarn ends! Hurrah! I am beyond thrilled with the finished blanket and really need to try and get it photographed asap so I can share some pics with you all. Blankets are such a pain to photograph - I am used to making and photographing much smaller things! - but I will get it sorted soon, I swear.

Now that my rainbow blanket is finished my go-to relaxing project is my mini squares blanket (the one with the colourful chart, above). I have a LOT of white squares to knit before this baby is finished but - luckily - the joy of this project is the process. Simple, repetitive knitting (and then sewing, when the squares get joined together and all those ends get woven in) is just the ticket at the end of a long, busy day. I switch my brain off and let my hands get making!


Instagram - and blogging, and all the other places we share our crafty photos online - is so often about the carefully curated photograph. Take the mess out of shot, artfully arrange things, crop and edit carefully. So it was lovely to see the #DSCandid hashtag pop up in my feed - a challenge from Grace Bonney of Design Sponge to share an unedited, honest photo from your creative life.

So, I took a photo of the view from my desk of my slightly overcrowded studio/office. Lately my space has been serving as a bedroom, laundry room, TV room and storage space for DIY supplies, packing materials and lots of kids toys rescued from our attic. It's also where my niece sleeps when we're babysitting. I still have space to work and make stuff, just a lot less than usual! :)

Right at the end of the month my making was focused on flowers, specifically poppies:

If you're a long-term reader of my blog you'll recognise this design as one I used to sell in my shops. I've been meaning to get the pattern written up for simply ages, and have finally made a start on doing so...


... with a furry fellow keeping me company while I work!

Then BAM it was June!* 2016 is going by so fast it is slightly scary.

Wanna follow me on Instagram? I'm lauralupinhoward over there!

*I also took part in a "Day in the Life" challenge at the end of May... but I'll blog about that another time because, frankly, this post is long enough already :)

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