Thursday, 30 January 2014

How To: Felt Spring Leaves Brooch

As promised, I've got a leafy tutorial to share with you guys today: how to make a brooch decorated with a trio of felt leaves.


These brooches are a slightly updated version of a design I used to sell in my shop years ago. They're quite quick and easy to make but I think they look rather stylish!

 

I've sewn my brooches in spring greens, but you could use orange/red/yellow on a brown background to make an autumnal version. Here's a crafty flashback to some I made many moons ago:


To make one green leaf brooch you will need:

The templates provided at the bottom of this post
Dark green felt
Three lighter shades of green felt (one for each leaf shape)
Dark green sewing thread
Brooch clasp
Pins and a sewing needle
Sewing scissors (embroidery scissors are perfect for cutting out small shapes)

 


1. Use the templates provided to cut out the following felt pieces: two dark green circles and three leaves, each in a different shade of green.

 

2. Hold or pin the three leaves onto one of the felt circles, and sew them in position with backstitch and dark green thread. I stitched the central (straight or slightly curving) lines first to secure each leaf then added the outer stitching.

Be careful when positioning the leaves that the inside edge (as marked on the template) of each leaf is on the inside as the leaves are not symmetrical.


3. Decorate the leaves with more backstitching. I stitched four or five lines on each side of the leaves, varying their position slightly to create an organic look. This is a time when slightly wonky stitching looks great!


Your leaves should now look something like this:

 

4. Add a brooch clasp to the second (undecorated) circle. Use a double thickness of dark green sewing thread to sew the clasp securely in place, slightly above the centre of the circle.

 

5. Place the two circles together (wrong sides together), so the leaves are positioned how you want them. Use more dark green thread and sew around the edge of the circle with running stitch, flush with the outside edge of the leaves. Finish your stitching neatly at the back. 

 


Your finished brooch will look something like this:

 


Click here to view the template sheet in another tab or window. Make sure you're viewing the image at full size, then print it at 100%.


This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it to make as many leafy brooches 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!

Want more leaf-themed craft projects? Try this simple leaf card, or get crafty with these leaf templates.
 
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

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Grey Days, Bright Felt

Ugh, the weather is seriously miserable today - dark, grey skies and lots of rain.

Luckily there's lots of sunny colour in my work-in-progress pile to help cheer me up!


Just delicious.

Here are a couple of other snaps from projects I'm working on at the moment...

... some scraps left over from a brainstorming / prototype-sewing session:


... and one of the upturned-tin-lids I'm using for my in-progress projects:


I hope you like the look of the leaves on the right, as they'll be making an appearance tomorrow as a little tutorial :)

Monday, 27 January 2014

Signed Copies of My Books - Last Few Available!

I'm down to the last few copies of my books - Super-Cute Felt & Super-Cute Felt Animals.


Obviously you'll still be able to buy copies from "all good bookshops" but if you want to buy a signed copy direct from me now's your last chance to grab one as I'm not planning on getting more in stock.

The remaining copies are available at bargain prices - just £8.50, or £7.50 if the copy has some slight damage (see the individual listings for details).

You can find them in my shop, HERE and you can read more about the books and get a peek at some of the projects HERE.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The British Library, St Pancras & A Walk Along the Thames

This week's Nice Day Out started out at the British Library.


 

It was just a short visit - just time to have a quick look round and check out an exhibition I was interested in about childrens book illustrations. I definitely need to remember to come back here for a longer visit because mmm... so many lovely books...

Right next to the British Library is St Pancras station & hotel, famous for its Victorian architecture:

 

Pretty fancy, huh?

Then I got the Tube to St Pauls...

 

... walked across the Millennium Bridge...

 

... and went to Tate Modern to meet the lovely Laura from LauraFallulah. I've known Laura for years online, through Etsy etc, it was really nice to finally meet up for a proper chat! 

 

After a cuppa and a bite to eat at the Tate, we went next door to the Bankside Gallery:

 


There was a lovely exhibition of small prints and paintings on when we visited, including some prints by Angie Lewin whose work I've only ever seen before in reproductions as notecards, etc. The shop here has a great selection of notecards and other nice bits and pieces, it's definitely on my list for future birthday-card buying!

Then we went for a walk along the Thames, down to the Westminster Bridge and then back along the other side of the river before having another cuppa and heading homewards.

 



It was a bit of a grey day as you can see from the photos, but not too cold and it didn't rain once, hurrah!

Friday, 24 January 2014

My 7 Year Blog Anniversary (!)

This time seven years ago I'd had a blog for a whole week. 1685 blog posts later... and here I am, still blogging!

In my first post I wrote "I'm hoping this [writing a blog] will encourage me to make more stuff..."

Given that I now design and make and write about crafty stuff for a living, I'd say that's a mission well accomplished :)

Here are just a few of the things I made that first year:


Blogging helped kickstart my creativity, especially when I began my Crafting 365 Project to do something crafty and take a photo of it each day for a year. Making stuff every day (and getting excited about making things and sharing them on my blog) definitely helped me become a Featured Seller on Etsy that year, which was a huge thing for my baby business.

Taking lots of photos for my blog has really improved my photography skills, and the challenge of taking interesting photos of my work so I could blog about has resulted in some great pics and, in turn, some exciting features.

Blogging also got me started writing craft tutorials, and reviewing craft books... which has led to my blog getting mentioned on / linked to from all sorts of amazing blogs and websites. It's also led to me writing craft books of my own which is something I still sometimes have to pinch myself about to believe it actually happened.  

Plus being part of this crafty blogging community for seven years has been pretty darn awesome!

Thanks so much for all your support, folks xxx

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sketching

Here's a quick snap of my desk today:


Well - part of my desk, anyway. There's been lots of sketching going on, and erasing of messy pencil lines!

If you look closely, you'll see that I really really need to buy a new pencil eraser :)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Book Review: X-Stitch

Having just finished a cross-stitch project, when I went to pick a book to review for this week it just had to be a cross-stitchy one!

The book I picked? X-Stitch: cross-stitch projects to make a statement by Sarah Fordham.


Sarah is a lovely lady who makes great cross-stitched stuff (I've met her a couple of times at shows/fairs & have admired the fun designs in her shop for years), I was quite delighted when I heard she was working on a book... and the finished product is pretty darn awesome.

X-Stitch is divided into 5 chapters: Getting Started (lots of useful info about tools, materials, how to cross-stitch, etc), Cross-Stitch Charts (lots of cool motifs to stitch, from a mermaid, a wolf and a jackalope to a pocketwatch, a dinosaur and a row of bloodshot eyeballs... plus a choice of alphabets), Very Easy Projects (including hair bobbles, patches and a greetings card), Easy Projects (including coasters, a gadget case an eye mask) & Trickier Projects (including customised clothing and a watch strap).


The "how to" text at the start of the book is informative and also a fun read - e.g. when Sarah talks about needing a sewing box as part of your cross-stitching equipment she writes "For a long time I had all of my threads shoved into an old shoe box, but I am now the proud owner of a novelty house-shaped sewing box. I love it to bits and it is huge so I can fit everything in there. The downside is that I am still a messy pig."

 

Each project has clear step by step instructions, with step-by-step photos and lots of tips to help you along the way / suggest ways you could vary the project to give it your own twist.

 

I love the cross-stitch style lettering used in the book, and the kitschy presentation of the finished projects - photographed on backgrounds of retro flowers, kittens and puppies. I mean, how can you not love a craft book with a page like this in it??


There are lots of small motifs in here that would be great for making gifts for the girls and guys in your life - it's great to see a craft book that isn't just full of "girly" motifs.

The designs I'm most likely to stitch for myself are the butterfly and barn owl (I adore that owl) ...

 

 

... and I'm feeling inspired to try customising a pair of shoes or a jumper with a bit of cross-stitch.


As well as including lots of different motifs and project ideas, Sarah's helpfully written some tips on creating your own cross-stitch designs... and at the back of the book there are some pages which are printed with graph paper in sizes to match different sizes of aida so you can photocopy them and then design to the same scale as the finished piece. So useful!


I'd definitely recommend this book if you're a fan of modern cross-stitch designs and want some new things to stitch, or if you've never tried cross-stitch before and fancy giving it a try.

X-Stitch is published by GMC Publications Ltd. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: GMC sent me a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Thinking About Spring

I've been thinking about spring - or rather, more specifically, about spring-themed craft projects.

I've got a few ideas in progress, which involve sugar paper (construction paper) hearts...


... and green felt...

 

... although not at the same time!

P.S. The last few handmade pieces in my shop (teapot rosette brooches & swan masks) are now reduced to just £1 each. Grab a bargain and help me make room for some fun new things :) Update: these have now been sold! There are still some bargain copies of my books available though, along with some destash craft supplies: find them HERE.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Finished!

I finished my cross stitch project - hurrah!


Let's not talk about how ridiculously long it's taken me to get round to finishing this, okay? :)

Want to stitch your own reminder to stop faffing about and just get on with it? You can find the chart here.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Pearls at the V&A, and The Wallace Collection

For my third Nice Day Out of 2014 I went to London again - this time on a Sunday so I could catch an earlier (and delightfully quiet) train and really make the most of the day. I had planned to catch the Tube to South Kensington but when I got to Paddington it was lovely and sunny so I decided to walk.

It was a bit chilly (you can see the frost in the photos), but totally worth it - it turns out that a stroll through Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park is a great way to start the day! I started at the Italian Gardens (which I visited back in August)... 

 

... then walked through Hyde Park, past the Henry Moore arch (which frames a view of Kensington Palace)...


... until I reached the recently-opened Serpentine Sackler Gallery. Since it was just before 10am (when the gallery opens for the day) I took a short stroll by the Serpentine, which was looking pretty gorgeous in the sunshine.

 

Just after 10 it was time to take a peek at the gallery's current exhibition - Jake & Dinos Chapman: Come and See (caution if you're clicking on that link: the Chapman brothers' work is very dark and grisly!) I'm not sure I was in the best mood for this, all chilled out after my stroll through nature, but never mind.

 

Then I walked over the bridge...

 

...  wandered past the Serpentine Gallery to revisit Rock on Top of Another Rock, then walked down Exhibition Road to the V&A.

 
 
 

I went to the Pearls exhibition which I'd meant to see back in December and which is about to close. I'm glad I managed to it as it's a lovely exhibition, with lots of beautiful bits of jewellery to oooh over and lots of interesting stuff about the history of pearls as jewellery and their different meanings and fashions through the years.

Still in the mood to ooh over sparkly things, I popped to the V&A's jewellery gallery before I left. So very many lovely shiny things!

After the V&A I hopped on the Tube to Embankment & went to the Mall Galleries (via a coffee shop for a spot of lunch).

 

I picked up a "what's on" leaflet at the Mall Galleries in December and have a whole bunch of exhibitions earmarked for future visits as they a) look great and b) are free for me to see thanks to the magic of my Art Pass. This time round I saw the Society of Designer Craftsman exhibition (gorgeous textiles, glass, ceramics, furniture, altered books, all sorts of great stuff) and the Artists & Illustrators Annual Exhibition (also very nice).

After that I needed to go to Oxford Street to return something I bought before Christmas and - even though it was now decidedly un-sunny - I walked again instead of taking the Tube.

 

It was especially interesting walking up Regent Street - I'd never walked along the whole street before and hadn't seen how it curves fabulously at the bottom!
 

Finally, I went to Manchester Square...

 

... to the Wallace Collection, which is somewhere I can't believe I've never been before as it's so close to Oxford Street and free to get in!

 

Visiting the Wallace Collection is a cross between visiting a fancy historic house (with lots of amazing wallpaper, chandeliers, furniture and a ton of bronze-gilt bling on mirrors, candlesticks, clocks, etc) and visiting an art gallery or museum, as it houses the collection of the former owners.

The house itself is well worth seeing and there's also lots of great art (including a bunch of famous and fabulous paintings) and interesting objects (including several rooms of arms and armour). I think I probably spent half my visit with my mouth open, gawping at it all, and I'm already planning to come back for another visit when the Great Gallery re-opens this autumn. Fancy a peek at the house and artworks? You can take an online tour here.

After all that it was definitely time to head home and put my feet up!