Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Date For Your Diary

I'm doing a book-signing, woohoo!

I'll be selling and signing copies of my books (Super-Cute Felt and Super-Cute Felt Animals) at the Craft Coop shop in Maidenhead (Berkshire, UK) on Saturday 14th December.

The Craft Coop Shop

The Craft Coop shop is a fab pop-up shop filled with lots of handmade goodness - the perfect place to find lots of Christmas gifts!

I'll be there from 10-1 and 2-5... if you're in the area, please do pop along and say hi :)

Friday, 29 November 2013

How To: Cross Stitch Snow Globe Ornament

After stitching my snow globe pattern, I decided that I wanted to turn it into a Christmas decoration. I'd not left enough fabric around the outside to frame it in a small embroidery hoop so I stitched it into a felt bauble instead.

 

The easiest way to make your own cross stitch snow globe ornaments would be to stitch onto plastic instead of fabric canvas then cut out the shape, add a ribbon loop and back it with a piece of white felt... but I thought it was worth writing up instructions for how I made my felt bauble in case you fancied making one too. You can follow these steps to turn any small cross stitch design into an ornament!

 

To make your ornament you will need...

- your cross stitched design (you can find the snow globe chart here)
- felt in your chosen shade, plus matching sewing thread and narrow ribbon
- white sewing thread
- a compass or something you can draw round to create the bauble template
- a ruler, some paper and a pencil for drawing the template
- tracing paper
- polyester or other toy stuffing (optional)
- sewing scissors (embroidery scissors are ideal), a needle, pins

To make the ornament...

1. Place a piece of tracing paper on top of your finished cross stitch design, and trace around the edge of the design, following it as closely as possible. Then draw a second line a few mms around the outside, to create a line that frames the shape of your cross stitching. Cut around this second (outer) line so you've got a tracing paper shape slightly larger than your design.


2. Create a bauble template by drawing a circle the size you want (I used one approx. 4 inches across) and adding 3 straight lines to create the top of the bauble. Use this paper template to cut out two felt bauble shapes.

3. Draw around the bauble template to create a second template. Position your tracing paper shape in the middle of the new template and draw around it. Then carefully cut out this inner shape, creating a template that's a bauble shape with a hole in it. This is the template for the piece of felt that will frame your stitched design. Carefully pin the template to some felt and cut it out.

You will now have three pieces of felt that look something like this:

 

4. Trim away the excess fabric from around your cross stitch design - you should probably leave more fabric than shown in this photo, I got a bit over-enthusiastic!


5. Place the cross stitch design on one of the felt bauble shapes. Place the framing felt shape (the bauble with the hole in the middle of it) on top, and use it to carefully line up the design so it's in just the right position. Set aside the framing shape and pin the cross stitch design to the backing felt.


6. Use white sewing thread and small whip stitches to sew the cross stitch design to the felt, removing the pins as you sew around the edge.


7. Place the framing felt piece in position and pin it in place. Use whip stitches in matching sewing thread to sew around the inner edge of the felt "frame", removing the pins as you sew. I had to tug the felt slightly to get the frame to be super-neat around the snow globe, so the felt was slightly stretched.


I turned the bauble shape over once I'd finished sewing, and trimmed away any of the framing felt which was then sticking out beyond the original (backing) bauble shape. There wasn't much to trim away, but neatening it up at this stage is important as it needs to still be a neat circle and also needs to match the final piece of felt added in the next steps.

8. Cut a length of narrow ribbon (approx 5 or 6 inches long) and fold it over to create a loop. Use matching sewing thread and whip stitches to sew the ribbon ends to the top of the third bauble shape. Sew the ribbon to the front of the shape and take care to sew into the felt not through it. This piece will become the back of the bauble.


9. Place the front and back bauble pieces together, and sew around the edge with blanket stitch (or whip stitch) and matching sewing thread. If you want a flat bauble, sew all the way around it and finish your stitching neatly at the back. If you want a stuffed bauble like mine, sew most of the way round and leave a gap for adding stuffing.


10. Lightly stuff the bauble, then sew up the remaining gap with more blanket stitches (or whip stitches). Finish your stitching neatly at the back.

 

The back of your stuffed bauble should now like this:


And the front will look something like this:


These instructions are intended for non-commercial use - please don't use them to make and sell snow globe baubles, or sell copies of the instructions themselves. 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!


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

http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.htmlhttp://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Winter Snow Globe - Free Cross Stitch Pattern!

Regular readers may remember that last winter I designed my first non-text-based cross stitch pattern: a snow globe with snow-capped mountains, a little cabin and some fir trees.


There was a lot of trial and error involved in the design process, but it was very enjoyable solving the problems of how to turn the picture in my head into a little pixelated, stitched picture... and I was so pleased with how it turned out!

I totally meant to draw up a neat version of the chart to share with you guys, but (as I couldn't mention at the time) I was busy working on my new book and I just didn't have the time to get it sorted out. Boo.

11 months later, I have finally drawn up the chart so you can stitch your own cross stitch snow globe. Yay!


You can find the chart and a few notes at the bottom of this post. The chart should be pretty simple to follow if you look at a photo of the finished piece - I've marked all the outlines and main shapes, you just need to fill in the blocks of colour as shown in the photos. I hope the notes will all make sense, but if there's something you're not sure about, please do leave a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!


I haven't included suggested thread colours, as I just used some random shades from my stash but you will need: silver or light grey (the metallic silver thread looks great but it is a total pain to stitch with!), white for the snow, sky blue (this should be dark enough that the white "snowflakes" stand out clearly), brown for the cabin and the tree trunks, and green for the tree branches.

I stitched my snow globe on 14 count Aida, and used half strands of embroidery thread for all the cross stitching (e.g. three strands of six-stranded thread). I also used a single strand of black thread for the outline of the door and the window frame.

Click here to view the chart in another window/tab, and print it at 100%.


This cross stitch pattern is for non commercial use only: stitch as many snow globes as you like as gifts, but please don't make any for sale or sell the chart itself. If you blog about this project, please don't post the full size chart on your site and remember to credit me and link back to my blog or this post. Thanks!

Want some more festive craft ideas? Check out my archive of Christmas Tutorials.

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

http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.htmlhttp://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Projects in Progress

Fancy a peek at some of the things I've been working on today?

Little triangles:



The back of some stitching:


Scraps:

 

And blanket stitches:

 

I am really in love with blanket stitch at the moment! It's just so deliciously neat.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Few Days Off

This time of year it is almost impossible to escape getting some horrid cold or other winter bug and - alas! - it was my turn to get sick at the end of last week. Nothing too horrid, thankfully, but definitely requiring a few days off to rest and get well.

I thought "great! I can put my feet up and get some relaxing crafting done!" but actually in the end there was a lot more time spent snoozing, and staring into space and watching comforting DVDs than there was spent working on crafty projects. I did make a little bit of progress with my current cross stitch and knitting projects, but not much!


I haven't managed to fit a Nice Day Out into my schedule for a couple of weeks thanks to a deadline and the aforementioned germs, but luckily felt much more chipper in time to have a lovely day in London yesterday. I'm obviously still feeling a little foggy-brained, though, as I forgot to take my camera! Oops.

I zipped around a few museums and galleries with an old friend, whom I last saw a couple of years ago so we had lots to catch up on in between chatting about the art, etc.


Among other places, we visited Tate Britain which was my favourite gallery to visit as a teenager. I was really looking forward to seeing the new staircase (which is pretty gorgeous), and the new chronological galleries where you walk through 500 years of British art. I really liked the mix of work on display - lots of my old faves mixed in with some really interesting pieces I'd not seen before - but I have to admit to feeling rather frustrated by the curatorial choice not to include the usual paragraph or two of info about each piece.

Overall it felt a bit like trying to read Shakespeare with no footnotes - it was interesting but baffling and I felt like there was a lot of information I was missing out on which would have helped me understand / appreciate / engage with some of the pieces a lot more fully. I do get the idea of letting people just look at a work of art without being "told" what it's "about" but I definitely prefer the usual approach of having a bit of info to read if you want to! Ah well.

In other news: I'm working on some Christmas tutorials which I'm hoping to have ready to share with you guys soon... please keep your fingers crossed for some nice sunny weather so I can get all the step-by-step photos taken :)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Book Review: Make Me I'm Yours... Cushions

Today I'm reviewing Make Me I'm Yours... Cushions, which is a small hardback book in the same series as this Christmas craft book I reviewed last year.

 

The blurb on the cover says it includes "over 15 cushion making projects" but actually at my count it's more like 12 with some variations - for example, two co-ordinating designs or a project that's made up of two items (e.g. a pillowcase and matching duvet cover). As well as sofa cushions and pillows the book also includes designs for lavender sachets and pincushions.

 

The projects are divided into three sections: Sofa So Good, Georgeous Gifts & And So To bed. The projects are a mix of different styles, some pretty, some cute, some bold and geometric, which is great if you like a bit of variety!


Each project has step by step instructions and illustrations or photos and there's a detailed techniques and templates section at the back of the book with information about all the materials and skills you need to make everything in the book - for example: applique, cross stitch, machine embroidery and beading. Each project also includes a helpful techniques list so you can see at a glance what skills are needed and can easily look them up in the techniques section.

Some of the smaller projects are nice and would make great gift ideas but I was most interested in the larger cushion projects in this book. I love the back of this apple cushion (and that row of mis-matched buttons)...

 

... these pretty butterfly cushions...

 

... and these matching moon and sunshine cushions just slay me they are so, so adorable.




If you're looking for a book with a specific design aesthetic or which goes into detail about a particular technique this isn't the book for you... but if you like a craft book that has a mix of different styles and will help you learn and test out a range of different sewing skills then this little book is worth a try!

Make Me I'm Yours... Cushions is published by David & Charles. RRP £9.99. It's available from Stitch Craft Create, Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

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

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Gift Ideas for Bird Lovers, from the RSPB

Regular readers will know I love birds... so, when someone from the RSPB got in touch and asked if I'd mention their shop on my blog I said I'd be happy to!

I've chosen a selection of bird-themed gifts, but do make sure to check out their full range (much of which features British birds and wildlife). 

First up, some lovely mugs and a biscuit tin for cheering up tea-time. The owl mug is part of a range of wildlife-themed homewares which I have been seriously pining after for months (I'm not sure I can justify buying another mug, especially as I'm trying to cut down on my tea-drinking... maybe some cake tins? or a shopping bag?)


 

  

Next, the most adorable purses ever. These kids clasp purses are so fabulous - I am quite tempted to buy one for myself (maybe the bluetit?) and add a longer strap.

 



One of my favourite things the RSPB sells is their range of singing soft toys - gorgeous, cuddly birds that "sing" when you give them a squeeze. I also love the Bird Bingo game (illustrated by Christine Berrie) and the charming woodpecker doorstop

 



Finally, not quite a gift idea but definitely appropriate for Christmas: sweet little bird ornaments. I have a couple of sets of these that I bought from the RSPB shop several years ago, they're always much admired when I put them on the tree.


Friday, 22 November 2013

Where to Buy 3 Inch Embroidery Hoops in the UK

I used to sell some awesome 3 inch wooden embroidery hoops in my shops...


... they were perfect for making little crafty ornaments, or framing mini embroidery projects like this embroidered heart.


But now I've quit selling craft supplies I no longer sell them.... so where else can you buy them? I get asked this by former customers and also wanted to know myself, for when my remaining stash of mini hoops runs out!

Here are some UK-based online shops I've found that currently sell 3 inch embroidery hoops:

Blooming Felt (one of my current sponsors) sells 3 and 4 inch embroidery hoops

Paper and String sell 3 inch wooden embroidery hoops

The Bellwether (one of my current sponsors) sells 3 inch and 4 inch wooden hoops

Hobbycraft sell 3 inch flexible faux woodgrain hoops (I used to sell these too once upon a time, they are pretty cute!).

And Overspill on Etsy sells 3 inch plastic embroidery hoops, and some even smaller hoops too! 

Big Fish on Etsy (one of my current sponsors) also now stocks 3 inch wooden embroidery hoops.

Bits and Bats (a haberdashery wholesaler) also sell 3 inch wooden hoops.

And for really small hoops, try Dandelyne on Etsy who sells handmade hoops that are a tiny 1.6 and 2.2 inches. 


If you've found any other shops (in the UK or elsewhere) that stock mini embroidery hoops please do leave a link in the comments :)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Renegade Craft Fair

The weekend before last, I had a nice day out in East London... at the Renegade Craft Fair.

I really enjoyed visiting Renegade last year and was really looking forward to it, especially when I saw how many of my favourite designer/makers were going to be selling their wares.

So I caught the train into London and got the Tube to Liverpool Street...

 

... then walked through Spitalfields to Brick Lane, where the fair was being held.


Last year the fair was held earlier in the year (in September) and we were having a crazy Indian Summer and wandering round in t-shirts... and this year it was very cold and rather miserable - I took all those photos from under my umbrella!


Inside the venue, the fair was huge and super busy! There were so many talented makers and artists selling so many seriously awesome things, I felt slightly in awe of how much creative talent there is in the UK. I also feared for the state of my bank balance because oh my goodness there was so much great stuff.

I wandered round looking at all the stalls, picked up lots of business cards for future online shopping and then treated myself to a few cards - I am trying not to buy too much "stuff" at the moment as I'm trying to declutter, but you always need nice stationery, right? :)


I discovered a whole bunch of new-to-me sellers, including Scout Editions (I am kicking myself for not buying a set of these bird postcards or a box of these charming What To Pack cards)...


... Telegramme Studio (whose set of retro Christmas cards were too delicious to resist - those baubles! and that snowglobe! Swoon! I am not sure I am going to be able to part with all of these this Christmas) ...


... and Mister Peebles whose David Meowie print is just too adorable.

 

It was lovely to meet Jenny McCabe, who sells gorgeous hand printed textiles and whose book Handprint and Make Your Own Bags is in my "to review" pile at the moment.

 

It was also great to see stalls from makers I've bought from on Etsy in the past, including Mrs Eliot Books...

 

... and Paper Moon whose stall I totally missed on my way back round the fair to do some shopping (I am super annoyed at myself for this as her Christmas cards were so completely delighful!)


And I got to say hi to lots of lovely crafty ladies I know through blogging/ Twitter / Etsy / etc...

Genevieve from Floss & Mischief - who sells awesome cross stitch kits and patterns. I met up with Genevieve for a cuppa after last year's Renegade Fair so it was especially nice to see her back this year, but with a stall this time round!


Bex, who is one half of Stuffed Nonsense who kindly invited me to their craft night in Cheltenham years ago to which I never went because I am the worst (sorry guys!). Stuffed Nonsense currently make fab textile jewellery and recently opened a shop in Cheltenham called By The Yard where they sell work by lots of designers and makers and run crafty workshops. 
 

Claire from The Bellwether, who sells brilliant (and sometimes quite spicy) cross stitch samplers and kits as well as cool stitching supplies (one of these cross stitch pendant blanks has been on my wish list for aaages).


Marceline from Asking For Trouble, whose work is always completely adorable whether it's wrapping paper or badges or postcards or brooches....


Sarah from Magasin, who sells ace cross stitch jewellery and whose awesome cross stitch book X-Stitch is on my "to review" pile at the moment.

 

Kim from Finest Imaginary who sells awesome laser cut jewellery including this completely brilliant polar collection.


And Debbie from Ladysnail whose illustration-based work always makes me smile so much!


As well as stalls for shopping, there was also a photo booth and lots of crafty workshops... including a felt-y workshop to promote Jane Bull's book Crafty Creatures (another title in my "to review" pile - I have so many books I need to share with you guys!)...

 

... and workshops run by the team behind the Mollie Makes books. I have to admit that it was a little surreal rounding a corner and seeing the parrots I made for Mollie Makes: Feathered Friends hanging on the wall!

 

It was also nice to chat to Camilla from Folksy (I am pressing "pause" on my Folksy shop for a while as I'm taking a break from selling handmade things, but it's great to see this fab UK venue thriving - the new store fronts that are being rolled out at the moment look great!)...


... and to meet Perri who is yet another lovely lady whose great craft book (Material World) I need to review (note to self: get on and review a bunch of craft books!). Perri is currently working for The Amazings, who create online craft classes.

 

And as if that wasn't enough crafty goodness for the day, I bumped into super-crafter Momtaz and we had a lovely long chat about making, blogging, etc, over some very yummy cake in a local cafe.

Wanna see the cards I bought? Modernist Postcards from Mrs Eliot Books, sunshine & cat cards from Ladysnail, Where There's Tea There's Hope card from Lovely Sweet William, mittens card from Finest Imaginary and Christmas cards from Telegramme. So much loveliness!


If there's another Renegade Fair in London next year, I will be there with bells on. I really recommend it if you're in the area and if not, it'd make a great excuse to go to London for the day!  :)