Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Introducing: Mom Crafts

I've got a fun new book to show you guys today: Mom Crafts: DIY Crafts for the Expectant Mom.

It features 20 projects to make for new babies and their expectant parents... including three projects designed and stitched by me!

The book includes projects to knit, embroider and sew (hand sewing and machine sewing). The "Mom" section includes a maternity pillow, a nursing bag and a lavender eye pillow. The "Baby" section includes burp cloths, bins and that adorable strawberry hat and booties. Then the "Nursery" section includes lots of decorative items to brighten up the nursery and celebrate the new arrival.

My three projects all involve felt, of course! (You'd probably guessed that, hadn't you?)

There's a night sky mobile to hang over the crib.

Then there's colourful and customisable hoop art (look, it's baby me! wasn't I cute?), which you can make with felt or some simple embroidery.

My favourite project of the three though has to be the whale pillow/cushion which doubles as a photo prop for marking those important milestones!

I showed my dad this book and pointed out my projects and he said "You made a baby? Just for a book? How much were they paying you???", haha.

Seriously though, how cute are these little people? Such sweet pictures!

Mom Crafts is published by Lark Crafts. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and lots of other bookshops. Please note: The Amazon and Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links.

It's always a joy working on projects for Lark Crafts titles - I've contributed to quite a few over the years! Do you have any of these? :)

Sew Sweet CreaturesBanners, Buntings, Garlands & Pennants

Craft CampSewn Together

Doodle Stitching: The Holiday Motif Collection'Tis the Season to be Felt-y

Heart-Felt HolidaysFelt-o-ween

Stash Happy: FeltFa La La La Felt

Saturday, 25 March 2017

5 Free Felt Fruit Sewing Tutorials

I hope you guys have enjoyed the series of free felt fruit tutorials I've shared over the past couple of months!

Felt faux fruit

I thought it would be helpful to collect the links to all 5 tutorials so you can bookmark and find them easily for future crafting. Do let me know if you make any of these - or the whole set! :)

The fruit would look awesome displayed together in a bowl, and individual pieces would make cute ornaments or pincushions. You could also adapt the tutorials to make fun stuff like kiwi slice brooches.

Please note that the finished felt fruit is intended for decorative use only - it is not a toy and should be kept well out of reach of young children.

Felt faux fruit

1. Apple & Pear.

Felt apples and pear

2. Apple & Orange Slices.

 Felt apple slices
Felt orange slices

3. Strawberries.

Felt strawberries

4. Watermelon Slice.

Felt watermelon slice

5. Kiwi Fruit.

Felt kiwi fruit

Want more free tutorials? Visit my crafty tutorial archive.

For even more crafty goodness, check out my books: Super-Cute Felt and Super-Cute Felt Animals.

Free DIY felt fruit sewing tutorials

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Visiting Birmingham: Gorgeous Architecture (and Owls!)

When it comes to travel blogging, I am definitely a tortoise rather than a hare. I go on nice days out and the occasional holiday, I take a bunch of photos with good blogging intentions... then the photos sit on my laptop for weeks, months and sometimes years before seeing the light of day.

I don't see this as a bad thing, really. I'm not on a deadline, after all! I go places for fun, I take photos for fun and then at some point I'll probably blog about what I got up to. No pressure, just blogging about stuff when I feel like it. The only downside is that sometimes it's a bit weird starting a post with "Sooo, I went on holiday two years ago and I'm finally blogging about it! Woohoo!" Ah well.

If you don't like reading about what I got up to on my travels two years ago you should probably stop reading this post right now, because Guess What I'm Finally Blogging About Today? Haha.


In 2014 I went to the Blognix blogging conference in Birmingham and built a mini holiday around it, exploring Birmingham and going on a delightful day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. I enjoyed my brief visit to the city so much (and, let's be honest here, the cheap hotel prices!) that I decided to go back for a longer visit in the summer of 2015.

That summer I spoke to so many people who were going to really glamorous, far-flung destinations for their holidays. "Are you going anywhere nice this year, Laura?" "Um, I'm going to Birmingham". It doesn't sound like the most exciting holiday, does it? But I had a really brilliant time, crammed loads of great stuff into just a few days and I still have lots of things which I'd love to do/see on a future visit.

So.... what did I actually get up to on my trip? Mostly walking around the city oohing over the architecture and other historical bits and pieces, and exploring the city's excellent museums (I love museums so much).

Before my holidays in Birmingham I have to admit that I'd thought of it as a pretty bland place full of concrete. I'd only ever really been to the NEC and to assorted conferences in bland chain hotels and just had this vague impression that it wasn't really an interesting place to visit. Kind of like a bigger version of Slough?

Of course, I could not have been more wrong. Birmingham is amazing: bustling and vibrant and filled with a fantastic and really visually interesting mix of modern and Victorian architecture. When I visited it was also full of owls, for The Big Hoot trail (so much fun!). (Click here to see all the owls I spotted during my trip).

I really enjoyed wandering round the city with a tourist map in my pocket, looking up at all the interesting buildings and spotting places to explore - galleries to pop into, churches to look round, cafes to have a cuppa in, and so on.

When I visited there were some very striking floral displays in the city including this one commemorating the First World War. Lots of the museums had First World War themed exhibitions as well, it was fascinating and moving to read about the local stories from the war.

I always love learning about local history when visiting a new-to-me place: centuries of people and their stories, and how the place has grown and changed over the years. I know not everyone is a fan of museums, but for me a trip to a little local museum (or the local history gallery of the big local museum!) is a really intrinsic part of my holidays. 

I'll be chatting about one of the Birmingham museums I visited in the next post about my trip ... which I promise you won't have to wait two years for! In the meantime, you can read about my previous (very sunny!) trip to Birmingham here. For more city break goodness, click here for my trip to Manchester and here for my trip to Leeds.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Sew Some Felt Fruit! Kiwi Fruit Tutorial

Time for the final project in my felt fruit series: sewing some kiwi fruit halves!

 felt kiwi fruit halves
 felt kiwi fruit

I hope you guys have enjoyed this series - do let me know if you make any felt fruit to decorate your homes! The individual felt projects would look cute sitting on a bookshelf, and if you made all the fruit they'd look fantastic displayed together in a bowl.

Follow the links to find the tutorials for the earlier projects: apples and pear, orange and apple slices, strawberries and watermelon slices.

Please note that the finished felt fruit is intended for decorative use only - it is not a toy and should be kept well out of reach of young children.

felt fruit

This project was originally published in docrafts Creativity magazine and stitched using felt from their Craft Planet range.

 felt kiwi halves
felt kiwi fruit

You will need:

The template sheet provided (see the bottom of this post)
Brown, green and white felt
Matching sewing thread
Black embroidery thread
Toy stuffing
Sewing needles and pins
Sewing scissors

To sew the kiwi fruit: 

1. For each kiwi fruit half, cut out 6 x peel, 1 x kiwi and 1 x kiwi centre in the colours required.

2. Decorate the kiwi shape: add the white centre piece with whip stitch and white sewing thread, sew radiating stitches of white sewing thread, then add small black embroidery thread stitches between the white ones.

3. Sew the peel pieces together with whip stitch and matching sewing thread, then turn them the right side out .

 felt kiwi halves

4.Sew the decorated kiwi shape and the brown peel section together using whip stitch and green thread (to match the kiwi fruit). Sew most of the way round, stuff the kiwi then sew up the gap with more whip stitches.

 felt kiwi fruit

Click here to view the template sheet, make sure you're viewing it full size then print it at 100%. Please note that the finished felt fruit is intended for decorative use only - keep it well out of reach of young children.


This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it to make as many pieces if fruit as you want for yourself or as gifts, but please don't make any for sale. You may borrow a couple of photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to this page on my blog, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial / share my templates on your site. Thanks!

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P.S. Subscribe to my newsletter for a monthly free pattern and visit my crafty tutorial archive for lots more free projects.

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

54 Instagram Hashtags for Colour Lovers

I love colour. The brighter the better!

When I first joined Instagram I loved it but felt a little out of place - so many of the accounts I followed were full of muted and minimal colours: a sea of soft greys and browns and lots of white space.

But of course, there are loads of colour-lovers on Instagram and loads of great hashtags for sharing your colourful photos or finding new colour-filled accounts to follow. So I thought it might be helpful to share some of my faves in a blog post in case other people are struggling to find the colourful side of Instagram.

(Well this post started out as a short list of my faves... and I got a bit carried away! The more colour-focused hashtags the better, right??)

Before I begin - one of the tricky things about colour themed hashtags is that there are two different ways to spell colour (or color). If there are two popular versions of a tag I'll in this list along with the current numbers of photos shared under each, so you can see how they compare. Usually the American spelling is most popular, but not always!

Ready to fill your Instagram feed with colour? Here goes...

1. #ihavethisthingwithcolor (150K) #ihavethisthingwithcolour (16K)

2. #ihavethisthingwithpink (100K)

3. #abmlifeiscolorful (1.5 million)

4. #capturingcolor (16K) #capturingcolour (78K)

5. #colorcolourlovers (123K)

6. #colorventures (283K) #colourventures (4K)

7. #dscolor (825K)

8. #dspink (38K)

9. #livecolorfully (1.4 million) #livecolourfully (60K)

10. #candyminimal (318K)

11. #colormehappy (116K) #colourmehappy (63K)

12. #colorinspiration (114K) #colourinspiration (56K)

13. #colorlove (146K) #colourlove (51K)

14. #colorlover (50K) #colourlover (8K)

15. #colorlovers (28K)  #colourlovers (25K)

16. #colorgram (354K) #colourgram (5K)

17. #dailydoseofcolor (39K) #dailydoseofcolour (1K)

18. #colormyjoy (3K) #colourmyjoy (9K)

19. #colors_ofourlives (225K) #colors_ofourlives (3K)

20. #colorsplash (977K) coloursplash (290K)

21. #brightcolors (386K) #brightcolours (122K)

22. #ilovecolor (102K) #ilovecolour (21K)

23. #coloraddict (37K) #colouraddict (8K)

24. #colorblockvibes (3K)

25. #happycolors (73K) #happycolours (23K)

26. #colorsorganizedneatly (1K)

27. #popyacolor (45K) #popyacolour (411K)

28. #colorhunting (11K) #colourhunting (8K)

29. #colorhunter (10K)

30. #popsofcolor (20K) #popsofcolour (4K)

31. #allthecolors (76K) #allthecolours (36K)

32. #thatcolorproject (193K) #thatcolourproject (1K)

33. #colourmyhome (10K)

34. #colormyworld (46K) #colourmyworld (18K)

35. #coloryourworld (29K) #colouryourworld (23K)

36. #inspirationiscolour (9K)

37. #showusthecolor (9K)

38. #brightcolorsmakemehappy (8K) #brightcoloursmakemehappy (3K)

39. #candycolors (100K) #candycolours (9K)

40. #colorpalette (136K) #colourpalette (69K)

41. #foundpalettes (7K)

42. #huntgramcolor (39K)

43. #colorsplurge (791K)

44. #colorfullycrafted (21K)

45. #howihue (42K)

46. #colormakesmehappy (11K) #colourmakesmehappy (3K)

47. #craftherainbow (60K)

48. #madeitrainbow (2K)

49. #dsrainbow (16K)

50. #my_flatlayrainbow (less than 1K)

51. #iloverainbows (17K)

52. #colorcrush (126K) #colourcrush (20K)

53. #colorexplosion (30K) #colourexplosion (14K)

54. #color_me_minimal (56K)

Know any other great hashtags for colour lovers? Share them in the comments! 

Click here to check out my colourful Instagram account: lauralupinhoward