Saturday, 25 April 2015

London Craft Week

Have you heard about London Craft Week?

It's the craft world's answer to Fashion Week - "a new annual event which showcases exceptional craftsmanship through a journey-of-discovery programme featuring hidden workshops, celebrated makers, other lesser known makers and highly specialised skills alongside famous shops, galleries and luxury brands."

The first London Craft Week is just over a week away and it looks completely amazing. Running from 6th-10th May, there will be a programme of demonstrations, workshops, exhibitions, tours, open studios and talks across the city (some free, some ticketed).

The events will be showcasing and celebrating the craft skills of watchmakers, tailors, jewellers, fashion and textile designers, bootmakers, engravers, hat makers, perfumers, glassblowers, ceramacists, print makers, costumiers, weavers, silversmiths, gun makers, bookbinders... and more!

Even the programme itself is gorgeous - gold pages and maps? Yum.

I am soooo looking forward to this!

Fancy going along yourself? Click here for more info about London Craft Week and to view the full programme of events.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Exploring Chiswick House & Gardens

Back when spring was only just, er, springing, I headed to west London to visit Chiswick House & Gardens for a relaxing and delightfully sunny Nice Day Out.

The house itself (completed in 1729) is small but interesting - it was created by the third Earl of Burlington as a space to display his collections and entertain his friends. It's also one of the places that's free to visit if you have an Art Pass. Hurrah! 


The free-entry-with-my-Art-Pass was what took me to Chiswick in the first place, as I'm trying to make the most of my Art Fund membership, but honestly I think the real delight here is the gardens (which are free to visit, whether you have an Art Pass or not).

There are about 65 acres of grounds to explore, with lots of interesting things to see along the way. Created in the 1700s, the garden was (apparently) the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement, when formal gardens gave way to an idealised version of nature filled with picturesque views. More recently, the gardens were the location for two promo videos shot by the Beatles in 1966.

It was lovely to wander round the gardens, enjoying the first signs of spring...


... and the ornamental buildings, statues and other curiosities dotted around the faux-natural landscape.

A waterfall! A temple! A pretty bridge across a lake!

The lake itself was rather lovely...

... and buzzing with birds, on and around the water...


... including a family of loudly honking Egyptian Geese and their fluffy goslings.


Here's that temple again, and an obelisk (just what every garden needs), in an ampitheatre-shaped garden that was originally filled with potted orange trees creating a faux Mediterranean grove.


It was quite delightful strolling round the grounds and discovering new and interesting objects round each corner. There are statues of the great and the good, lots of urns...


... some sphinxes, a pair of rather cowardly-looking lions...


... and a statue of a naked lady stuck on top of a column who I thought looked a bit like she's having one of those "finding yourself naked in public" nightmares and is hoping she wakes up soon!

There are also some more formal sections of the garden, lots of interesting paths to wander down and plenty of wooded areas being enjoyed by lots of locals and their dogs. You could play a pretty good game of "dog breed bingo" here I think, I saw so many different types of dogs in one afternoon!

Dotted around the grounds are fun picture frames, with some interesting facts about that corner of the garden and a reproduction of an old photo or painting showing how the view looked many years ago.  These are helpfully marked on the visitor map (click here to view the PDF) along with the main sights to look out for as you explore the gardens.

After a visit to the house, a long walk round the gardens, and some tasty food in the cafe (which is pretty busy at the weekends so be prepared to queue or take a picnic!) I made a final stop: visiting the magnificent greenhouse to see the collection of Camellias. Click here to see my post about the Camellia Festival.

Then it was time to head home and start planning my next Nice Day Out...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Free Flower Embroidery Pattern

Today I'm sharing the embroidery pattern for the flowers I stitched recently - scroll down to the bottom of this post for the free pattern!


My flowers were stitched in (and are shown photographed in) 6 inch embroidery hoops. To stitch each flower I used half strands of embroidery thread / floss (i.e. 3 strands from 6 stranded thread) and stitched the whole design in backstitch, sewing small stitches around the curves.

I chose a plain backing fabric, holding the pattern and fabric up to the light (I secured them both to a window using washi tape!) and tracing the design onto the fabric with a sharp pencil. If you're stitching on dark fabric or on felt, use tissue paper as shown in this project.

I stitched two versions of the flower. One simply follows the pattern as it's drawn. I used olive green thread for the leaves and dark plum thread for the flower outline, with a dusky rose pink for the inner line and a salmon pink for the flower centre.

For the other version I stitched the pattern then filled in the shapes with freehand lines of backstitch.

I used two shades of coral to sew the flower outlines, then filled in the petals with lines of peach. Similarly, I stitched the leaf outlines with a leafy green then used a lighter spring green to fill them. The stamens are stitched with a light, bright orange - I worried at first that this orange didn't stand out clearly enough from the backround stitches but actually now I'm very happy with the finished result. 

Which version will you stitch? :)

Click here to view the pattern, then print it at 100%. I've included a scale line so you can see if your pattern has printed out at the "correct" size, but of course you can enlarge or reduce the pattern if you prefer.

This embroidery pattern is for non commercial use only: you can use it to stitch as many flowers as you want for yourself or as gifts, but please don't make any for sale. You may borrow a few photos 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!

P.S. Fancy making a felt version of this flower? Click here for the tutorial

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tea and Felt Biscuits

On the way back from the Post Office the other day I picked up a copy of the current issue of Creativity magazine, which includes a tea-and-biscuits themed project designed by me:

Bigger than an ordinary coaster, this colourful mug mat has plenty of room for your mug of tea (or coffee) and your biscuits of choice.

The mat is made from canvas and felt, and decorated with pretty woven ribbons and fun felt biscuits. The biccies were especially fun to sew! Of course, I had to eat lots of biscuits while working on this project - purely for research purposes, you understand :)

I'm looking forward to flicking through the rest of the mag during a teabreak... and deciding what to make with this month's cute cover gifts. Hmm...

Can't find docrafts Creativity Magazine in your local newsagent? You can subscribe here or buy individual issues here.


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