Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A Trip to Liverpool: Pier Head & The Three Graces

My slow travel blogging continues!

Over the next few weeks I've got lots of photos to share with you from my trip to Liverpool... which may have happened over two years ago but is still well worth blogging about, because Liverpool is pretty awesome.

Holidaying in England in the spring is always a bit of a gamble weather-wise, but you can get some excellent hotel deals and if it chucks it down with rain it just means you (well, I) end up spending more time in museums and cafes which is really no great hardship (regular readers will know how much time I already spend in museums on my trips, rain or no rain).

I was really lucky with my Liverpool trip though, the weather was completely glorious and I got to spend a lot of time going for walks around the city and swooning over the architecture.

The most famous building in Liverpool has got to be the Royal Liver Building (even I'd heard of that and I knew next-to-nothing about Liverpool before I visited). This is one of the "Three Graces" on the city's waterfront: the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building (both pictured above), and the Port of Liverpool Building (below).

This is a rather fabulous trio! They create a very striking and impressive skyline, and if you look closer there are loads of interesting decorative details to reward your attention.


The Three Graces are located on Pier Head, which was the landing site for passenger ships travelling to or from Liverpool - including liners crossing the Atlantic. Your first impression of England would definitely be a good one if Liverpool's waterfront was the first thing you saw! You can still catch a ferry from here, albeit to much more local destinations.

There's a fabulous mix of old and new on Pier Head. The way totally different styles of architecture nestle up against each other is one of my favourite things about cities. One of the newest buildings is the Museum of Liverpool, which opened in 2011 (pictured on the left, below). 


The museum is free to visit and, as you might guess from the name, tells the story of Liverpool and its people. I particularly enjoyed the galleries devoted to Liverpool as a global city, and the city's overhead railway. So many fascinating things, all very thoughtfully displayed.

Also on Pier Head you'll find the Church of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas...

... if you walk along the waterfront, make sure you look up to see the church's ship-shaped weather vane and (of course) the two famous Liver Birds on the Royal Liver Building.


It feels a bit weird to write that you "loved" a memorial to a disaster, but I was very struck by this one: the memorial to the "Engine room heroes" of the Titanic.

Apparently this was the first monument in the UK to depict "the working man" and has been rededicated to include all those who died in maritime engine rooms in World War One, as well as the 244 engineers who died on the Titanic. The inscription reads "The brave do not die, their deeds live for ever and call upon us to emulate their courage and devotion to duty."

If you're familiar with the details of the Titanic story, you might be surprised to see a memorial in Liverpool (since the ship sailed from Southampton) but it turns out the White Star Line (which owned the doomed liner) was founded in, and based in Liverpool.

Just round the corner from the Three Graces is the wonderfully stripey Albion House which was built as the headquarters of the White Star Line.

Looking this building up for this blog post I discovered that it's now "a 64 bedroom luxury Titanic-themed hotel" which I honestly find deeply weird. The Titanic disaster is a very interesting, famous bit of history but I'm not sure I'd want to stay in a horrible-maritime-disaster-themed hotel - how about you?

That's enough Liverpool snaps for now... I'll be sharing lots more sometime soon!

For more slow travel blogging jam-packed with museum visits and swooning over architecture, why not read about my trips to Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Faux Leather Mini Notebook Tutorial

The second of my vegan leather craft tutorials is up on the Village Haberdashery's blog: a step by step guide to making a mini notebook with a faux leather cover.

These mini notebooks would make fab gifts - and great stocking fillers. (Have you started thinking about your Christmas gifting yet??? Because I totally have - the 25th of December seems to creep up faster every year!).

Click here for the free tutorial.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

More Crafty Destashing... and a New Newsletter!

I'm having another crafty clearout!

A whole bunch of stuff has sold already, but there are still lots of bits and pieces available (sorry for not giving you guys a heads up this time round - it was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing inspired by a sudden urge to declutter).

Colourful card...


... old postage stamps...


 ... double-sided crepe paper...


... a vintage pillowcase...


... snowflake buttons...


... embroidery threads...


... beads...


... and more! I've also got a few things left over from the last sale, including some bargain craft books:


Click here to see all the available listings, with more info and photos

You can leave a comment on an item to claim it, but if you don't use Instagram don't worry! If you see things you want to purchase, just send me a message via my contact form to let me know what you're interested in.

I've listed 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 a shoebox sized parcel weighing up to 2 kilos second class for just £2.90).

IN OTHER NEWS, I am finally (after literally years of meaning to get round to it) starting a weekly newsletter.

It won't be a flashy, sales-y thing with lots of embedded pictures and fancy formatting, just an email with updates on stuff I've been making, doing, and blogging about lately... plus links to interesting stuff I've been reading, inspiring Instagram accounts, cool tutorials, etc. Sometimes it'll be long and chatty when I've got lots of stuff to share, sometimes short and sweet.

The first newsletter goes out on Friday. Click here to sign up!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Faux Leather Star Headband Tutorial

Have you ever made anything from faux leather? I hadn't until recently, when the folks at The Village Haberdashery sent me a pack to get crafty with. It turns out to be very fun stuff - and vegan-friendly, too!

I've designed four easy tutorials for things to make with faux leather, which will be popping up on the Village Haberdashery blog in the coming weeks. Click here for the first tutorial: a guide to making a shiny star headband.

Faux Leather Star Headband

This tutorial is perfect for using one of the metallic faux leather sheets...

Star Headband

... isn't that gold just delicious? (I never can resist shiny things).

Gold metallic vegan leather stars

You'll find the free step by step tutorial HERE and the faux leather packs HERE.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Gift Wrapping with Yarn & Embroidery Thread

Today's gift wrapping ideas are all about yarn and colourful threads.


This is a really fun way to use up leftover yarn from your knitting and crochet projects! It works best for small parcels (so you can use up shorter scraps) but if you've got whole balls of yarn left over you can wrap larger gifts this way as well.

For this project I selected some colours from my stash that went together (fresh blues and greens, and bright pinks and purples), then tied lots of yarn pieces of around a couple of small parcels to form bands of colour.


Use one length of yarn to test out how long a piece you need to reach around the parcel and tie the yarn securely, then use this bit of yarn as a size guide when cutting the other pieces. Add the yarn pieces gradually, mixing the colours to create a pattern or a nice blend of shades.

Position the yarn so it's all in a neat block in the centre of the package then trim any excess yarn so the underneath of the parcel is nice and neat. You may also want to add a bit of sticky tape to the bottom of the parcel to hold the strands in place if you'll be transporting the parcel.

Woven Threads.

This idea is a lot more subtle than some of my gift wrapping suggestions, but I kinda love it anyway.

For this look, you'll need some embroidery thread (or yarn or narrow ribbons). I used two colours but you could use all one colour or combine lots of different shades (e.g. if you're using bits of yarn or thread left over from other projects).

Cut a length of thread and tie it horizontally across the parcel, with the knot hidden underneath. Trim any excess thread and secure the knot in place with a piece of sticky tape. Repeat to create several horizontal lines across the parcel. If you're using ribbon, secure each end of the ribbon with sticky tape instead of knotting it so the ribbon lies totally flat against the parcel.

Then repeat this process with the second colour, creating vertical lines. This time, weave the thread between the horizontal threads (over, under, over, under, and so on) before securing it. Ta-da! One woven parcel.

Want more gift wrapping ideas?  Check out my archive of free crafty tutorials - scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find card and gift wrap ideas below the Christmas tutorials.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A Year of Wreaths: October Cosy Cat Felt Wreath

A Year of Wreaths continues!

Cosy Cat Felt Wreath

October's wreath is for all you Cat Ladies (or Cat Gentlemen), as it features a cute sleeping kitty. I love this little guy and I hope you will too.

Cat Lady Felt Wreath Tutorial
Cat Lady Felt Wreath

You'll find the free step by step cat wreath tutorial over on The Village Haberdashery's blog.

Click here to buy the October wreath kit, or follow the links in the tutorial to find all the individual supplies you'll need in The Village Haberdashery shop.

Click here to find all the wreath tutorials in the series.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

9 Free Halloween Craft Tutorials

Are you planning some Halloween crafting? Here are nine ideas from my free tutorial archive you might enjoy...

1. Eyeball buttons. These are great for giving an old cardigan a spooky twist! You could also sew them in other places too - eyeballs are the perfect Halloween accessory, you know.

Felt eyeball buttons
 Eyeball button cardigan for Halloween

2. Sew some cute little felt candy corn ornaments...

Cute felt candy corn ornaments
... or 3. Make a giant plush candy corn!

Felt candy corn

4. If you prefer your Halloween decor more chic than cute, why not make some candy corn inspired geometric Halloween coasters?

Geometric coasters for Halloween

5. Dress up as an owl with this fun felt owl mask.

Felt owl mask
 Felt owl mask

6. Disguise yourself with a felt moustache.

Felt moustache disguises

7. Turn any outfit into a Halloween costume with a sparkly dripping wound brooch.

Felt dripping wound brooch

8. Make a fun Halloween card to send to your friends (includes instructions for how to turn your drawing into an e-card!).

Cute Halloween Card
9. Finally, invite all your pals to your Halloween party with these easy-to-make invitations. You could also use these templates to make a cute Halloween garland.

Halloween Party Invitations
Follow the links to find all the tutorials. Happy crafting!

You'll find eight more of my Halloween craft tutorials in Felt-o-ween: 40 scary-cute projects to celebrate Halloween - including a vampire, graveyard cupcake toppers, skull bows and more! (I am a teeny bit biased but I adore this book: so much felt-y Halloween goodness!). Felt-o-ween is available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, The Book Depository and many other bookshops, you can read more about the book and take a peek at my projects here. (Disclosure: those links to Amazon & The Book Depository are affiliate links).

Cover of Felt-o-ween

For more Halloween craft ideas, visit my Halloween Pinterest board!

And for lots more crafty ideas to keep you busy after Halloween, visit my tutorial archive or check out my books: Super-Cute Felt and Super-Cute Felt Animals.

 Cover of Super-Cute Felt by Laura Howard

P.S. Thinking ahead for Christmas? Check out my free Christmas Ornament Tutorials.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Gift Wrapping from Your Garden: Lavender, Hydrangeas & Leaves

My gift-wrapping series continues with three ideas for decorating your gifts with bits and pieces from your garden. You've got to take care when transporting gifts topped with cuttings, to ensure they don't get damaged, but it'll be worth it for the "oooh!"s they elicit.

Lavender & Washi Tape. 

If you've got a lavender bush in your garden, you'll know you end up with a lot of cuttings when you trim it at the end of summer! Dried lavender smells amazing and the stems look lovely... so why not use them to decorate your gifts?

I rescued some stems from last year's cuttings pile and trimmed them with scissors, laying them out across the parcels to plan my arrangement.

Tear strips of washi tape (I used a lovely pink polkadot design) and stick them to the parcel at various angles - leaving space to add the final piece of tape in a moment.

Arrange the lavender pieces, then carefully stick down the final piece of tape, pressing the tape flush around the stems to hold them firmly in place.


I have been slightly obsessed with hydrangeas lately (I blame Instagram, honestly). My mum's hydrangeas were such an eye-popping bright pink at the height of summer, then faded into these irresistibly lovely, soft tones. You could use a clipping from a hydrangea bush for gift-wrapping during the summer, of course, but I think this is a great way to make the most of your hydrangeas in autumn, when the blooms are beginning to fade but still have a lot of charm to them.

One hydrangea bloom makes for a spectacular gift topper. Cut a smallish bloom (one that you can lay on its side) with a few inches of stem. Position it on your parcel and stick it in place with a couple of strips of pretty washi tape. Super easy, but really rather gorgeous. I think the faded tones look particularly lovely with the brown paper I like to use for my gift wrapping.

You can also use the larger blooms as gift toppers - they look amaaaaazing.


To make use of one of the larger blooms, you'll need to cut the stem short so it will sit flat on top of the parcel. Cut two long pieces of bakers twine (or other string, narrow ribbon, etc). Tie the pieces of twine to the top of the hydrangea stem, at right angles from each other (the way hydrangea flowers grow out from the main stem makes it very easy to secure the twine). Place the bloom in the centre of the parcel and wrap the four ends of the wind around, knotting them securely underneath, then trim any excess twine.

Tip: set the parcel on its side as you tie the knots underneath, so you can keep two hands free for the knots and not squish the hydrangea beneath the parcel. Alternatively, get someone else to help out and hold the parcel as you secure the twine.

Painted Leaves. 

My third nature-inspired gift wrapping project is all about leaves.

I love the texture of these leaves and the contrast of the crisp white shapes against the brown paper - though you can, of course, use any colour paint you want. You could also paint several smaller leaves and arrange them in a row, or use a marker to carefully write a message or name on the painted leaf like a tag.

I used white acrylic craft paint to paint my leaves. I painted several coats on each side, leaving the leaves to dry between coats. The paint helps the leaves keep their shape but they're still quite delicate, so take care when working with them!

Position the leaves on top of your parcels and attach them by wrapping round and round with white sewing thread, creating a subtle stripey effect. For leaves without stems, you could alternatively use double-sided tape or craft glue to attach the leaves - but bear in mind the leaf's 3D shape will mean only parts of the leaf will be touching the paper, so make sure to add your adhesive at those points.

Psst! You'll find lots more creative gift wrapping ideas in my archive of free crafty tutorials (scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find card and gift wrap ideas below the Christmas tutorials).