Monday, 30 September 2013

How To: Make Mini Felt Ducks

To celebrate the launch of my new book, Super-Cute Felt Animals, I'm sharing a collection of free tutorials that you can mix and match with the projects from the book.

This week I'm sharing three mini "extras" that are designed to coordinate with the animals in the "On the Farm" chapter: an apple tree and two ducks.
 

Today's tutorial? Making the cute little ducks! I stitched both my ducks from white felt but you could use light brown felt to make brown ducks - and maybe add some brown embroidery thread (floss) stitching to the wings for a feather effect.


To make the ducks, you will need...
- the template sheet at the bottom of this post
- white felt, 3 ¾ x 4 in (9 x 10 cm)
- a small piece of orange felt
- white and black sewing thread
- 2 black seed beads (size 9/0)
- stuffing & a pencil or other small stuffing tool
- needle, pins & embroidery scissors (great for cutting out small felt shapes!)

1. Use the templates provided to cut out the shapes you need. For the standing duck, cut two white duck (A) shapes, one white wing (A), one orange beak (A) and one orange set of feet. For the swimming duck, cut out two white duck (B) shapes, one white wing (B) and one orange beak (B).

If you want to double up the orange pieces to give them added sturdiness, sew each shape onto a matching piece of felt with orange running stitch, then cut out the second layer after you’ve finished stitching – creating a shape that’s now two layers of felt thick.

2. Position the corresponding wing on one of the duck shapes and sew it in place with white sewing thread, sewing a line of running stitch around the edge of the wing.

 
 

3. Use black sewing thread to add a black seed bead for the duck’s eye, sewing it flat like an O with three or four stitches. Set the front of the duck aside for the moment.

 
 

4. Sew the corresponding beak (and legs, if you’re making the standing duck) into position on the back duck piece, as pictured. Use white sewing thread and whip stitches, sewing into the white felt not through it.


5. Place the front and the back of the duck together, and start sewing the edges together with whip stitch and white sewing thread. Sew up the duck’s neck, around the head and back down the other side of the neck. Then stuff the head and neck. You may need to stuff the head and neck of the swimming duck gradually as you sew down the second side, as the neck is quite narrow.

 

6. Continue sewing around the duck’s body with whip stitch - when making the standing duck, turn the duck back and forth as you sew past the feet to help keep your stitching neat on both sides. Stuff the duck gradually as you sew along the bottom edge, then close up the final gap and finish your stitching neatly at the back.


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


This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it to make as many felt ducks 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!

 

Super Cute-Felt Animals is published by CICO Books, RRP £12.99. It includes 35 fun felt projects, each with illustrated step-by-step instructions. It's available to buy at Amazon UK and Amazon USA and many other bookshops.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Two Cosy Blankets: Finished!

It was nice and sunny yesterday morning so I (finally!) took some photos of the blankets I finished recently. I'm working on a "how to" post for knitting your own sky blanket so you'll have to wait a bit longer for pics of that one, but here's how the other two turned out...

First up, my "random squares" blanket:

 

This one was quite tricky to photograph because some of the colours in it are so dark the auto settings on my camera freak out a bit and make the picture much brighter than it really is... but I got there in the end! It hangs quite a way down one side in the photos simply because the bed is up against the wall - it's actually the perfect size to slightly overhang a single bed on both sides, covering a single duvet nicely.

 

The starting point for this blanket was a pile of squares I knitted when I was a teenager (which was a while ago - I'm in my early 30s now!) and I've spent a couple of years gradually using up leftover balls of double-knit yarn to make more squares to match.

 

I'm really pleased with how it turned out! I was worried about the dark colours looking a bit depressing and/or it looking a bit strange having some very pale squares in the mix, but actually I think the colours look rather fab together.


And second, here's the blanket I knitted from all the yarn I had left over from making my sky blanket:


As you can see, it's smaller than the other blanket and perhaps a little bit too small for the bed, but it'll make a great sitting-on-the-sofa-during-chilly-evenings blanket.

 I do like those colours together!


Believe it or not, I've got yet another blanket in progress - some of the squares I'd knitted in my teens were much smaller than the others and in much brighter colours, so I've been gradually knitting some smaller squares to match those too. I'm up to 47 squares now, so I've still got a way to go but I'll get there eventually. Oh, and I've got a quilt to finish too! Eek!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: Stitched Blooms

When I heard that Carina Envoldsen-Harris (whose &Stitches zine I designed a pattern for last year) was writing a book I was so excited to see the finished product as I've long admired her pretty, colourful embroidery patterns.

The finished book - Stitched Blooms - is out next month and the lovely folks at Lark Crafts have sent me a review copy. Yay!


Isn't the embroidered cover great? Such happy colours!


Stitched Blooms is divided into three main sections: Getting Started, Projects and Motifs.

"Getting Started" covers all the usual "how to" topics you'd expect at the start of an embroidery book, with guides to transfering motifs, choosing your tools and mastering all the stitches required. The diagrams and photos in this section are very clear and Carina goes into lots of detail and provides lots of helpful tips.


There's also a really interesting section on colour theory and how to apply it to choosing colour schemes for tour embroidery projects. As a beginner when it comes to embroidery, I sometimes find it tricky choosing colours for my stitching that I know will look good together and Carina's tips on putting together colour combinations will probably come in useful for other craft projects too. I don't know about you but I often fall back on using my same favourite colours over and over in my sewing - I'll definitely be getting this book off my shelf next time I want to try something new!


"Projects" includes 20 things to make and/or embellish with embroidery. Some of them involve stitching on ready-made items (like a skirt, a duvet cover, a totebag or a pair of mittens)...

 

... and others include templates and instructions for making the items themselves (e.g. a needlebook, an obi belt and a glasses case).

 

There's a nice mix of different types of projects included - homewares, gifts, clothing and accessories - and a mix of sizes too, with some large projects that involve a lot of hand stitching (like an appliqued baby quilt) and some small projects that would be great for beginners (like little embroidery hoop ornaments).

One of my favourite designs is this fun felt Dala horse:


This embroidered shirt is also pretty gorgeous!


There are 33 motifs included in the "Projects" section, all clearly labelled so you can use them to recreate the designs as-stitched-by-Carina...


 ... then in the "Motifs" section there are 267 colourful motifs, divided into types like "minimalist blooms", "leafy blooms" (i.e. leaves!) and "borders and corners". Each page includes a sample motif from that page stitched up so you can get an example of how your finished stitching might look.

 

To be honest this is probably the section of the book that I will use most often - for me, the projects provide some great inspiration for things I could embroider but the pages of motifs are an absolute treasure trove of designs that I can see myself going back to again and again when I want a design to embellish something.

And - mega bonus! - all 300 motifs in the book are included on a CD at the back of the book so you can easily print the designs out at home at any size you want. Super practical.

Stitched Blooms is published by Lark Crafts, RRP $16.95 (USD). It's available for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon USA and many other bookshops.


The nice folks at Lark Crafts have got a copy of the book and some embroidery thread (floss) for me to give away! Woohoo!

One lucky winner will win a copy of the book and a bundle of 7 skeins of thread (floss) - in different colours to those pictured (the photo shows some of Carina's favourite colours).


Just leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win. Leave your comment before 10pm on Friday 4th October, and I'll pick the winners at random on Saturday 5th October. The publishers are happy to send the book + threads internationally, so anyone can enter :)

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and leave a blog link, Twitter username, Etsy username or email address so I can contact you. 

If I'm unable to contact the winner within a week, I will pick someone else. If you're leaving a comment with your Blogger profile, please remember that you need to have your profile set to public for me to be able to get in touch with you. If you have problems leaving a comment here on my blog, you can enter via my shop's contact form instead.

[Disclaimer: Lark Crafts kindly sent me a free review copy of this book and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. I have contributed projects to books published by Lark Crafts but I am always honest when reviewing books on my blog!]

Update: this giveaway is now closed.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

How To: Make Mini Felt Shells

To celebrate the launch of my new book, Super-Cute Felt Animals, I'm sharing a collection of free tutorials that you can mix and match with the projects from the book.

This week's projects coordinate with the animals in the "Under the Sea" chapter... today you can learn how to make two different types of seashell.  You could stick to natural colours or sew a whole set of little shells in different bright colours, decorated with colourful embroidery threads.


To make the shells, you will need...

- the template sheet at the bottom of this post
- cream (or white) felt, approx. 2 x 4 ½ in (5 x 11 cm)
- pale brown felt, approx. 2 ½ x 3 ¼ in (6 x 8 cm)
- a small piece of pale pink felt
- cream (or white), pale brown and pale pink sewing thread
- cream (or white) and light brown embroidery floss (thread)
- stuffing & a pencil or other small stuffing tool
- needles, pins & embroidery scissors (great for cutting out small felt shapes!)


To make the flat shell:

1. Use the templates provided to cut out one of each piece from cream felt.

2. Place the front shell piece on the bottom shell piece, using the back piece as a guide so the front and back of your shell will line up later. Sew the front and bottom pieces together with whip stitch in matching cream sewing thread.

 

3. Cut a length of matching cream embroidery floss and separate half the strands (so for six stranded floss use three strands). Switch to a larger needle if necessary and use the floss to stitch seven lines on the front of the shell, as pictured. Start by sewing the central line and then sew three lines on each side. Sew up to the top of the shell with running stitch and then sew back down again filling in the gaps to create a continuous line of stitching.


4. Place the front and back of the shell together. Use matching cream sewing thread to whip stitch the sides together. Leave a gap at the top of the shell large enough for your finger, stuff the shell and then close up the gap with more whip stitches. Finish your stitching neatly at the back.

 

To make the spiral shell:

1. Use the templates provided to cut out the front and back shell pieces from pale brown felt, and the inside piece from pale pink felt.

2. Place the front shell piece on top of the pink inside piece. Use the back shell piece as a guide to make sure the front and back of your shell will line up neatly. Whip stitch the pieces together with matching pale brown sewing thread.

 

3. Cut a length of pale brown embroidery floss and separate half the strands. Switch to a larger needle if necessary and use the floss to backstitch four curved lines on the shell as pictured. If you don’t feel confident about sewing the curves freehand, draw them onto the felt lightly with a pencil and follow the pencil lines.

 

4. Place the front and back of the shell together, and use matching pale pink sewing thread to whip stitch along the pink felt edge.

 

5. Use matching pale brown sewing thread to whip stitch around the rest of the shell. Start by sewing down towards the point of the shell, and then sew around to the other side leaving a gap at the rounded end of the shell. Stuff the shell and then close up the gap with more whip stitches.


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


This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it to make as many felt shells 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!


Super Cute-Felt Animals is published by CICO Books, RRP £12.99. It includes 35 fun felt projects, each with illustrated step-by-step instructions. It's available to buy at Amazon UK and Amazon USA and many other bookshops.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Another Sunny Day in London: Oxford Street & Liberty

After skipping a week thanks to a horrid cold I was determined to enjoy a Nice Day Out last week and was really looking forward to it, but when the day rolled round I was still feeling a bit sniffly and foggy-headed and also feeling guilty about the stuff on my To Do list that I needed to "catch up" on thanks to being ill. So, I made a "must do" list and worked through it at home that day and then had my day out the day after (Friday instead of Thursday)... but even then, it was sooo tough to make myself actually get out of the house and onto a train.

Each week I look forward to having a nice day trip somewhere but on the day it's so very easy to wake up and feel a bit tired and think "maybe I should just stay at home instead?", or to think "oh my gosh but I've got so much work to do!"

I'm very glad that I've got to "report" to you guys each week about my travels, having that small bit of accountability is really helping me stick with it. Which is lucky because, almost without fail, when I do actually get out of the house and onto a train and start wandering around wherever it is I've gone I have a lovely day and then the next day start work feeling fresh and de-stressed.

So... for my Friday trip I went into London to a) do some shopping and b) enjoy another lovely day of autumn sunshine.

I started with a walk down Oxford Street...
 
 

... from Marble Arch to Oxford Circus. I did a bit of shopping (including a visit to Uniqlo where I got a couple of super cosy faux-fur-lined hoodies to keep me toasty warm in my studio this winter) but mostly window-shopped and looked at nice/interesting bits of architecture.

 

Oxford Street is always so busy, it's not exactly the world's most relaxing place to be but it was nice to be out in the sunshine. I also wandered down a few side streets and in the process found somewhere I've walked past many times but never noticed: St Christopher's Place. The entrance from Oxford Street is really narrow, a tiny alleyway squeezed between two shops...


... but then it widens out into a lovely pedestrianised shopping street full of smart boutique style shops and restaurants and cafes with al fresco dining. It almost feels a bit through-the-wardrobe-and-into-Narnia, it's got such a different feel to it than the rush and noise of Oxford Street. 


Then I had some lunch and went to Liberty which really is like stepping into another, much more magical, world. Such a wonderful building, jam-packed with so very many wonderful things!

 
"No minute ever comes back again. Take heed and see ye nothing do in vain."

I couldn't resist visiting their Christmas shop, despite it only being September (so much sparkly deliciousness plus some pretty awesome life-size furry reindeer). It reminded me that I've had "visit all the Christmas shops in the nice London department stores" on my winter To Do list for years but never got round to it so I shall have to try and fit that in to a Nice Day Out in a couple of months time and really get myself in the mood for the festive season.

Oh, and I was also quite delighted to spot a pile of copies of my first book in their haberdashery department!

Then I walked down Carnaby Street...

 

... bought an icecream and walked to Trafalgar Square, getting a little bit lost a couple of times but not really minding. Just look at that blue sky...


Then I popped into the National Portrait Gallery to visit a couple of their temporary exhibitions (including the brilliant portraits by Jonathan Yeo) and their Tudor galleries (again) because I cannot resist their awesomeness... then I had a cuppa in a nearby cafe and headed home.

Note to self: this Nice Day Out thing is great, Laura, don't be a lazy idiot, don't fret about your To Do list so much, stick with it!!

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