Friday, 9 October 2015

'Tis the Season to Be Felt-y is Out Now!

If you love making stuff from felt and you love Christmas crafting you will LOVE the new book from Lark Crafts: 'Tis the Season to Be Felt-y includes over 40 felt decorations to make for Christmas - ornaments, stockings, wreaths and more!

It's the follow-up to the awesome Fa La La La Felt (which has a special place in my heart as it was the first book to feature my work, way back in 2009) and it includes eight projects designed by me. It was a huge amount of fun working on these designs, I hope you'll love them as much as I do...

First up: Beaded Star Baubles. These are made with felt and fabric and edged with sparkly seed beads. I used bright colours for my baubles (you guys know how much I love bright colours) but you could mix and match any of your favourite shades to make your baubles. 


Next, instead of making a gingerbread house why not sew a whole Gingerbread Village to hang on your tree? These would also look great as a garland, hung from bakers twine or festive ribbon.


I love hanging ornaments from doorknobs at Christmas (ornaments aren't just for the Christmas tree, you know!) These Dangling Star Ornaments would be perfect for that, or for hanging anywhere else you fancy:

Christmas isn't all about presents... but presents are pretty great! This Mini Gifts Garland can be filled with tiny treats, or you can use the pattern to make individual ornaments to hang on the tree:

Then there's a Mistletoe Sprig, for Christmas kisses :)

One of my favourite projects was this Rainbow Star Stocking. Felt comes in so many great colours, this is a great project for using up a whole spectrum from your stash! You can, of course, use fewer colours for the stars - mix and match your faves or just use two contrasting colours for the two layers of stars.

I also loved stitching this Caroling Bird Stocking! Bullfinches are one of my all time favourite birds.

My final design for the book? A set of Cocoa Coasters! Just looking at this photo makes me want to make a hot chocolate, so be warned: sewing these may give you cravings!

Of course there are also lots of projects in this book that weren't designed by me... there are festive felt makes from Mollie Johanson, Lisa Jordan, Aimee Ray, Jodie Rackley and more.

I especially adore these retro ornaments by illustrator Jennifer Jesse...

... and these darling Teacup Ornaments by Kathy Sheldon (I think we all know at least one tea lover who'd love one of those as a Christmas gift!)


'Tis the Season to Be Felt-y is out now and available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK and many other bookshops. Please note: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Visiting a Tiny Island

I'd planned to spend all last week working, but the late September sunshine was just so glorious that it seemed a shame to waste it. So, I squeezed in a couple of mini local trips in between the stuff on my work To Do list

I visited Windsor Castle one morning to take the Conquer the Tower tour, where you can climb the Round Tower (click here for a video about the tour). This was highly entertaining, and the views were wonderful - we could see all the way to the skyscrapers in the City of London!

I also took a short trip to Guards Club Park, which is a small park just 20 minutes walk from my local Post Office. I'd never visited it before but had been meaning to for ages because it a) was a location in one of my all time favourite films, Kind Hearts and Coronets and b) the park includes a tiny island! How cool is that?

Not much remains of the old Guards Club - though the spire from the boathouse was rescued and now sits atop a shelter in the park. The ornate footbridge, built in the late 1800s, was saved and restored by the local Civic Society so you can still use it to cross to Guards Club Island when it's open (the island is closed from December - June to protect nesting birds).

As you walk over the bridge to the island, if you look to your left you can see Maidenhead Bridge (which you might remember from my walk along the river earlier this year).

Looking to your right, you can see the Sounding Arch - one of two arches that make up a railway bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel

The island itself is tiny, narrow and totally lovely! It takes just a couple of minutes to walk from end to end but there are benches to sit on and lots of nice views to enjoy along the way.

This is the view from the island, across to the other side of the river:


And this is the view back to the park from the base of the Sounding Arch:


Guards Club Island was a magical little place to visit! I'm so glad I finally decided to tick it off my "local stuff To Do" list, and I'm very much looking forward to spotting that bridge next time I watch Kind Hearts and Coronets.

P.S. If you ever visit Guards Club Island, make sure you walk along the river to visit Ray Mill Island and its aviary!

Monday, 5 October 2015

I'm Making a Christmas Quilt!

Last autumn I bought some lovely festive fabric to make a quilt for my sister. She loves Christmas and all things cosy, so I thought a Christmas-themed quilt for her sofa would be a nice gift.


I washed the fabric, ironed it, cut it into squares, planned my layout and started sewing.

I'd initially intended to blog about the project as I went along but I decided that I'd rather keep it a secret to make it a special surprise... so I just posted a photo of all the leftover scraps instead (what a tease!)

Here are a couple of terrible photos of the planned layout:

It took a while to get a good balance of all the prints, but I got there in the end!

Hand stitching these squares together turned out to be the perfect project for me last winter. After lots of work deadlines, it was great to put my feet up and relax with some simple, repetetive stitching. I spent many happy hours sewing while watching cheesy made-for-TV Christmas movies - the perfect accompaniment to a festive sewing project.

Of course, hand stitching a quilt takes a lot of time and I (sadly) couldn't spend all my time sitting on the sofa sewing... so I pushed my deadline back to Christmas 2015. I neglected the project a bit for a few months, then picked it back up this summer. Here's how it was looking when I had about six rows totally stitched with six more still to add:

These are dreadful photos, but you can hopefully get a good idea of how the quilt is looking. I just have two more rows of squares to add now, then I can start the actual quilting.

But why am I blogging about this quilt if it's A) a secret and B) not yet finished?

Well, unfortunately it's not a secret any more! I totally forgot to put the quilt out of sight when my sister came to visit last week and while we were chatting in my office she said "oooh... what's that?" and picked it up and lo, the quilty cat was out of the proverbial bag. Oops.

Luckily she likes it! (Phew!) She might not have had the fun surprise of opening a big squishy mystery parcel on Christmas day, but now she can have it to look forward to and I've got a fixed deadline to make sure I get it finished for this Christmas.

Plus: one great thing about it no longer being a secret quilt? I can blog about it! Hurrah! Expect to see lots of quilty progress pics popping up over the coming weeks :)

Friday, 2 October 2015

How To: Make a Starry Skies Brooch

Celebrate the beauty of the night sky with this felt brooch!

With the nights drawing in, it's so lovely walking home on a clear, chilly evening and looking up to see the sky full of stars. This starry skies brooch is easy to make and the silver star sequins will add a bit of sparkle to any outfit.

I made this brooch with supplies from docrafts, using felt and sequins left over from tutorials I'd designed for their magazine, Creativity. The tutorial didn't make it into the magazine, so I'm sharing it with you guys instead! Hurrah!

You will need:
- The templates provided at the bottom of this post.
- White and dark blue felt.
- Matching sewing thread.
- Silver star sequins, no larger than 10 mm across (I used the sequins from this embellishments pack). The smaller the sequins you use, the more stars you'll be able to add to your brooch.
- A brooch clasp.
- Sewing needle and pins.
- Sewing scissors and/or embroidery scissors.

To make the brooch: 

1. Use the templates provided to cut out all the felt pieces. Cut one moon and one sky edging from white felt and cut two ovals from dark blue felt. The ovals will become the sky and the back of the brooch. I recommend using embroidery scissors to cut out the white edging – the small sharp blades are perfect for cutting out detailed shapes.

2. Position the moon on one of the blue ovals, as pictured, and sew it in place with whip stitch and white thread.

3. Decorate the rest of the sky with silver star-shaped sequins, sewing each star in place with five stitches of white thread.

4. Turn over the second blue oval. Sew a brooch clasp to the back using a double thickness of matching blue thread.

5. Place the front and back of the brooch together, making a sandwich with the white felt piece between them. Make sure the two blue ovals line up with each other and that they’re neatly framed by the white felt.

6. Hold the pieces together firmly in one hand. Then sew around the ovals using running stitch and matching blue thread, sewing all three layers together.

Click here to view the template sheet, make sure you're viewing it full size then print it at 100%.

This tutorial is for personal use only: you can use it to stitch as many brooches as you want for yourself or as gifts, but please don't make any for sale. You may borrow the photo 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!

Fancy some more free patterns? Check out my tutorial archive.


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