Monday, 31 March 2014

Giveaway: Mollie Makes: Weddings

Remember I blogged about the fab new wedding-themed book from Mollie Makes? Well, I've got a copy to give away! Hurrah! 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/190939730X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=190939730X&linkCode=as2&tag=bugandfis-21

Obviously this would be a great book to add to your shelves if you (or someone you know) are planning a wedding but, as I said in my earlier blog post... "apart from a very few projects (like the button bouquet) all the designs in the book could be easily adapted for other things - e.g you could use the flower designs from my ring pillow to make colourful flower brooches, and many of the decorations would look great at any party. If you like your crafts pretty & romantic, you'll find lots to love in this book."

Please note: this giveaway is only open to people who live in the UK and Ireland.

Just leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win. Leave your comment before 10pm on Sunday 6th April, and I'll pick the winner at random on Monday 7th April. I'll then pass the winner's details to the publishers so they can send out the copy of the book.

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 & to have a contact email visible 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.

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed.

Mollie Makes: Weddings is published by Collins & Brown. It's available from the publisher's online shop, Amazon UK, and The Book Depository. The US edition (published by Interweave) is also available from Amazon USA.

[PS the Amazon and Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Springing Forward

If you've visited my Etsy or Big Cartel shops this week you'll have seen that I've been taking a short break.

It's been a busy week, with a jam-packed Nice Day Out in London, then a trip to Manchester (for my first proper holiday in years, hurrah!) and now lots of designing and typing and sewing as I catch up with emails etc and work on some projects with looming deadlines.


My shops will both re-open on Tuesday (1st April) (how is it almost April already???) and I'll be blogging about my recent travels as soon as I get a chance to sort through the photos. I've been to lots of awesome places this week, I can't wait to share them with you guys!

Obviously it's never too fun to get back to work after some time off, but I feel really refreshed by my break and excited about the stuff I've got planned for the next couple of months.


Here on the blog I've got some awesome guest posts lined up, lots of new tutorials in-progress, a whole bunch of cool craft books to review and there'll be some giveaways too! I'm also really looking forward to the next crafty tutorial link-up in May (this time the theme is flowers - check out this post for all the details).

Behind the scenes I'm working on a bunch of fun projects for different books and magazines which I'm delighted to be contributing too - I've got to keep them secret for the moment but I will of course share details as soon as I'm allowed to!


I'm also determined to schedule some more Nice Days Out now that the weather's getting warmer... especially as lots of the National Trust properties I can get into with my Art Pass are re-opening after their winter closures and there's a whole bunch of exhibitions in London that I'd like to see before they end.

As I'm sure I've talked about before, I've been finding it so rewarding to schedule proper time off instead of working every day (even if just for a little bit) like I used to. Okay so sometimes it doesn't quite work out and I work long days for two weeks straight but most of the time the prospect of going somewhere nice / seeing an exhibition I really want to see / etc proves to be a great incentive for me to get my act together and get my tasks for the week finished... or just to force me to take some time off instead of being a bad boss and making myself work all the time and never switch off.

Having resolved to have 50 Nice Days Out this year (plus two short breaks) is working very well for me, as it's roughly one a week but I can fit them in as and when it suits me. I'm going to be trying the same "system" with Making Days to "force" myself to make more time in my schedule for being creative and working on new designs.

Oh, and I've also bought a ticket to this year's Blognix which should be fun! :)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Putting Photos in Albums

Does putting photos in photo albums count as a creative task?


It's been keeping me entertained on quiet evenings this spring, anyway. When I was flipping through my old albums over Christmas I found a lot of photos which teenage and student me thought were worth sticking in an album but which 30-something me really wasn't too impressed with, so I'm re-organising them a bit.

One of the great things about using old-fashioned photo albums and photo corners is the ability to chop up your photos to remove the boring bits and fit more images onto a page, collage-style. I had quite a lot of albums so condensing my collection will save me quite a bit of shelf space and make flipping through them much more interesting (instead of thinking How many more pages of this??). Luckily the same range of albums I was using for my photos 15+ years ago is still in production!

I'm very grateful to my younger self for having been organised enough to put all the photos into albums though (even though I'm now re-doing them years later) because without my captions for each photo I'd have a very hard time remembering everyone's names from school and University! Ah, the perils of getting older.

Once I've sorted out all my old photos I'm going to finally get some of my digital photos printed out and added to my albums so I can enjoy them instead of just having them gathering virtual dust on my hard drive. I loved the photo book I put together of my crafting photos, but I'm happy sticking with old-fashioned photo albums for my personal pics... for now, anyway!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Forgotten Fabric: Experiments with Spoonflower

A friend recently reminded me that several years ago I got some fabric printed with Spoonflower and never did anything with it! Or even blogged about it! Oops.

Wanna see what I had printed? (Better late than never, right??)


I didn't have a particular plan in mind for these prints, I was experimenting to see how some of my clearer, brighter product photos would print out on fabric with an eye to maybe making some kits, patches or quick-to-sew ornaments / lavender sachets / etc. As you can see, I got as far as getting some swatches printed and then test-sewing some fabric birds and that was it. Tsk tsk.

I definitely need to think of something to finally use these swatches for!

Getting them out and looking at them has also made me want to try getting some other things printed, especially now Spoonflower offer custom-printing for more than just fabric. Hmm...

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Trip to Bristol (ish) - Winford & Weston-Super-Mare

Remember the weekend trip to Bristol I took earlier this month? Well, after spending Saturday wandering round central Bristol I headed out of the city and spent Sunday in Somerset. 
 
I spent the night on my crafty chum Lisa's (very comfy!) sofa and in the morning, we went for a walk around her village...

  

... and went to the village shop.

 

Then we drove to Weston-Super-Mare to meet up with our friend Nicola for our first get-together in about three years. I'd never been to Weston before so it was great to go for a walk around town and along the beachfront, although the weather was a bit miserable!

 
 

The summer attractions were all looking a little sad and empty...


... but there were quite a few people out for a walk with their (happy and excited but very windswept) dogs.

 

Lisa, Nicola and I have been friends for years (after meeting via Etsy sometime in 2007, 2008?) so it was great to chat about life and Etsy and crafting and generally catch up over a cuppa or three!


Can you tell how chilly it was from the photo? :)

Monday, 24 March 2014

Tools & Materials

I post a lot of photos of scraps of felt and colourful threads but I use a whole bunch of different supplies and tools when I make stuff.

Here's a list of some of the things I've been crafting with this week:

Felt
Thread
Embroidery thread (floss)
Needles & Pins
Scissors (for cutting paper, embroidery and fabric)
Pinking shears
A pencil, pencil sharpener and eraser
A biro and pad of paper
White paper for sketching
An iron and ironing board
Interfacing
Stuffing
Tissue paper (for drawing embroidery patterns)
A ruler and tape measure
A fine black liner for drawing template sheets
An air-erasable fabric marker
Ribbons
A tea towel
A compass
A stapler and staples
Mini pegs (clothespins)
Bakers twine
Yarn
Scrap card
Sticky tape
Buttons
A glue gun
Pipe cleaners
Washi tape
A die-cutting machine
And lots of colourful felt beads


What have you been crafting with? :)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Rainbows

The view out of my studio window looked like this on Friday afternoon:

 

I haven't seen a full rainbow in years. So nice. If you look closely at the picture you'll see there was a faint second rainbow too :)

Quite delightful, and perfect timing as just that morning I'd been working on a rainbow-themed project!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Guest Post: Tutorial: Cosmetic Bag with Patchwork & Appliqué

Today I'm sharing a Guest Post from Liz of Brighter Sides.


This is a tutorial for a lightweight, medium/large size cosmetic bag. The striped patchwork background gives the bag surface more interest and variation but still lets the appliquéd heart motif stand out. I wanted a fun, bright bag to suit the Japanese daisy print.


The bag has a waterproof interior and the outside is constructed from cotton fabrics of similar weights. The structure is very simple- it's a rectangle with squared corners (flat bottom). Both front and bag panels have been given structure with interfacing and padding.

Tools and Supplies:

- Sewing Machine
- Sewing Scissors or Rotary Cutter
- Ruler
- Fabric Marker, Chalk, Pencil etc
- Pins
- Steam Iron & Ironing Board
- Heart Template (draw your own onto cardboard, or get a free-to-use template online.)
- OPTIONAL: Little scissors for snipping thread ends.
- Cutting mat (if using rotary cutter)

Materials:


- Two similar colours/shades of cotton fabric for the front panel. You will be sewing strips together to make one patchwork rectangle 9 1/2 x 8 inches (24.1 x 20.3cm). If you are planning to use one of these fabrics for the back panel as well, make sure you have enough to accommodate this.

-  9 1/2 x 8 inch (24.1 x 20.3cm) rectangle of another fabric for back panel. You could pick one of the cotton fabrics you're using for the patchwork, or pick a different cotton fabric.

- Two squares of fabric cut to approximately 6x6 inches (15.24 x 15.24cm). These will become your two heart appliqués. You probably want these two fabrics to complement each other and also stand out from your background fabrics.

- One 9" (approx. 23cm) plastic zip
- Two rectangles 9 1/2 x 8 inches  (24.1 x 20.3cm) of a waterproof fabric (for the lining)
- Two rectangles 9 1/2 x 8" (24.1 x 20.3cm) of sew in fleece (for the padding)
- Two rectangles 9 1/2 x 8" (24.1 x 20.3cm) of medium weight fusible interfacing
- Cotton or Polyester Thread

To make the bag:

1. Have all your materials prepared and to hand. Iron fabrics.

2.  Cut 7 strips in total of your front panel fabrics: 3 of one, 4 of the other. Each strip should be 1 7/8" x 8" (4.8cm x 20.3cm). The width measurement includes 1/4 seam allowance on both long edges of your strips. When this is all sewn together your panel will become the right width.

3.  Sew your strips together, one long edge to another with 1/4 (0.6cm) seam allowance. The second photo below shows how your finished patchwork piece will look when turned right side up.

4. Take the patchwork piece to the iron, with wrong sides of the patchwork panel facing up. Carefully press all seam allowances to one side, or press open as I have here.


5. Iron on your interfacing, following the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Now for your appliqué! Iron on your interfacing onto both your appliqué squares. Draw around your template on the reverse of these pieces, then cut out.

7. Find the centre of your patchwork panel and pin your larger fabric heart at this point. I've pinned both hearts down (seen in the fourth photo below) before any sewing, but it's probably easier to pin and sew one, then pin and sew the other.


8. Set your machine to a zigzag stitch. Make sure it's threaded with the appropriate thread.

9. Position your front panel with the pinned appliqué under your presser foot. Lower your needle with the hand wheel just outside the edge of your appliqué.

10. Zigzag around the perimeter. You can stop stitching at any point to lift the foot and rearrange the angle of the fabric to help you. Just make sure the needle is in the down position and on the outer edge of your shape.

When you get all the way around, backstitch about 1/8 " (0.3cm) back over where you started sewing.

11. Do the same with your smaller heart, pinning or just placing it in the centre and zigzagging around the perimeter.


12. Sew your fleece pieces onto the reverse of your front and back panels.

To do this, pin them and sew around the edges (inside your allocated 1/4" (0.6cm) seam allowance) with your machine's longest straight stitch. This will stop them shifting around annoyingly as you sew all the layers of the bag up later on.

13. Time to attach the zip. Lay your front panel down face up. Then, place your zip face down across the top edge of this panel. Line it up roughly. Place one of your lining pieces down on top, and carefully pin through the lining, zip and front panel.


14. Using your zipper foot (these feet usually come with your machine), sew across the top, close to the edge of the zipper teeth. I've only used a standard foot here as my zipper foot isn't very good.


15. Flip it out and give it a gentle iron

16. Now place your back panel right side up. On top of this place your front panel face down, then your remaining lining piece (with your label sewn on if you're using one) face down.



17. Sew across the top, again stitching close to one edge of the zipper teeth.

18. Open this out.

19. Iron either side of zip. Do this on the main fabric side and then flip over to press the lining side.

20. Topstitch each side of the zip, very close to the edge.

Open up the zip around 3/4 of the way down, so you can turn the bag right side out later.

21. Pin your whole bag piece so that the lining sides are right sides together and the outer is also right sides together. Your zipper should then be lying sideways in the middle.

Pin around all sides. Note: the main bulk of the zipper should be sitting towards the lining side. Pay attention when pinning, especially at the zip ends so that they are properly aligned. 

22. Start sewing up your bag! You'll need to leave a gap in the lining of about 4" (approx. 10cm) to turn your bag right side out after this step. I recommend starting sewing on the bottom edge of the lining, right after where your gap will be. Sew around the perimeter.

23. Your bag should now look like the second photo below. Have a look at my stitch line, including where I've left the gap in the lining side. You have to squint a bit- sorry for the blurry photo!

24. You now need to square all four corners of the bag before turning it right side out. You have to pinch each corner so the seam lays in the middle and the ends look triangular as shown. Pin through the seam. Mark down 1 1/4" (3.2cm) in from the point as shown.

25. With all four corners pinned and marked, sew across the line on each.


Now trim the little triangles outside your stitch line off, leaving 1/4 " (0.6cm) of raw edge.

26. Reveal your bag!

Turn right side out, bringing the bag through the gap you left in the lining. Shuffle everything around a bit. Then give your new make up bag a press (take care when pressing the waterproof fabric) and sew the gap in the lining shut. Do this by tucking the raw edges back under 1/4" (0.6cm) and slip stitch, or machine sew close to the edge.

Your finished bag will look like this:


This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it to make as many cosmetic pouches 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 link back to the original source, and do not reproduce the entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!

-------

Liz is a twenty-something crafter from the East of England. She recently opened an Etsy shop under the name Brighter Sides and keeps updates of her crafting and other bits and pieces at www.brightersidesaccessories.blogspot.co.uk.

Fancy taking part in my (now fortnightly) Guest Post series? Click here for more info.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Lots of Places to Buy Giant Buttons!

Back when I used to sell craft supplies, I sold some giant wooden buttons which were always very popular. I sold 8cm (3 inch) ones which were cool, and huge 12.5 cm (5 inch) ones which were just plain awesome: 


Buttons this big can be quite hard to find! So, now that I longer sell them I've put together a list of other places you can buy oversized buttons... some for crafting and others just for fun :)

(Unless otherwise noted, the shops in this list are based in the UK).

Overspill sells 8.5cm (3.5 inch) wooden buttons.

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/56084984/enormous-wooden-button

Love Craft sell 8cm wooden buttons.

Wool & Buttons sell 7cm wooden buttons that are handmade in Yorkshire (choose from oak, sycamore, laburnum and cherry!).

Big Fish (one of my current sponsors) sell 8.5 cm (3 inch) plastic buttons in lots of different colours.

 http://www.etsy.com/shop/BigFish/search?search_query=giant+buttons&order=date_desc&view_type=gallery&ref=shop_search

Textile Garden sell 8cm (3 inch) and 12.5cm (5 inch) wooden buttons.

http://www.textilegarden.com/X3%20wood,%20glass%20&%20imitation%20glass%207.htm

You can also buy 8cm or 12cm wooden buttons from my former wholesaler, Bits and Bats (I'd recommend ringing to check if the buttons you want are in stock as they weren't always available). 

Want even bigger buttons?

Keal Concepts on Etsy custom make handmade wooden buttons up to 11 inches.

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/164555107/big-beautiful-handmade-wooden-buttons

Cold Creek Brewing sell handmade giant wooden buttons (and giant wooden needles!) up to a massive 17 inches. They're based in the US but international shipping is available.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/coldcreekbrewing?section_id=10893648

How about some button-shaped homewares?

Wood Power (based in Latvia) sells handmade button shaped wooden coasters (11cm).

Wood Paper Scissors also sells wooden button coasters, handmade from oak (13.5cm) (as well as a very fun wooden bourbon biscuit!)

http://www.etsy.com/listing/182424464/the-big-button-coaster-solid-oak-drinks

Sew Kidding sells colourful silicone button coasters (8.7 cm).

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/180739863/giant-large-big-buttons-silicone-buttons

(These are also available from Berylune).

Shigeki Yamamoto sell fun handmade wall hooks shaped like buttons (15cm) (they're based in Germany but ship internationally).

http://en.dawanda.com/product/46040270-Knopf-Knopf-haken-braun-blauer-Faden

Snug Studio sells handmade wooden boards / trivets shaped like buttons I have one of these, it's great (and a massive 24 cm).

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78023942/snugbutton

Snug Studio are based in Germany but ship worldwide. I've also spotted their button boards for sale at UK-based Berylune.

And IKEA sell a set of 3 giant buttons for decorating your walls (25 and 28 cm). They also sell a colourful button-themed rug!

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/60233775/

Or you could make your own giant buttons...

... make a giant wooden button
... convert a round wooden tray into a button tray
... convert a round wooden cheese board into a button board
... or make cardboard giant buttons for a sewing party.


If you've spotted any other huge buttons for sale, do leave a link in the comments!

Update:  Daisymoon Designs sell MDF buttons in 3 sizes, up to approx 29 cm. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Creative Chaos

Crikey, the past few days have been hectic.My working day finished at 2am last night!

Okay, so I was sitting up watching DVDs and doing lots of sewing which isn't quite as bad as sitting at the laptop until the wee small hours but still, ugh. I will definitely be getting to bed earlier tonight.

I'm also going to be tidying up my workspace as it currently looks a little... chaotic.

My desk:


My studio:

The sofa:


The living room floor:

Monday, 17 March 2014

14 Awesome Free Paper Flower Tutorials

Inspired by the guest post I shared earlier this month - 10 Tips for Creating a DIY Wedding - today I'm sharing a round-up of links to 14 fabulous free tutorials for making paper flowers.

These would, of course, all be great as part of the decor at a wedding, but they'd also be gorgeous additions to summer parties, or a longer-lasting and made-with-love alternative to giving a gift of flowers for Mother's Day or a friend's birthday (especially if you have a friend who suffers from hayfever!). 

1. Paper Rose Wedding Bouquet - Lia Griffith. These gorgeous roses would make an amazing bouquet but they'd also look great displayed in a vase or just as individual stems.


2. Crepe Anenomes - Craftberry Bush. So pretty!

3. Giant Paper Flowers - Hostess with the Mostess. The flower wall in this post is amazing, but just a few oversized flowers would make a great statement on the wall or as table centres. 

4. Paper Hyacinths - Aunt Peaches. Perfect for springtime.


5. Coffee Filter Flowers - Design*Sponge. Simple materials, gorgeous result.

6. Giant Paper Peony Piñatas- Corner Blog. This is a labour intensive project but the result is quite spectacular. I'm not sure I could bear to smash it up after all that work, though!

7. Paper Flowers - A Beautiful Mess. Another rose-like project with a how-to video and a lovely display idea, too. 


8. Tissue Paper Flowers - Rust & Sunshine. Super simple to make, with helpful instructions for creating different flower shapes.

9. Giant Paper Roses - Green Wedding Shoes. These giant crepe paper blooms are completely fabulous. I was going to make some for my sister's wedding but didn't because I am a terrible person and let work push crafting off my schedule! Tsk tsk. Bad sister. 

10. Paper Daffodil - The House that Lars Built. Another great spring flower tutorial with really clear step-by-step photos.

11. Crepe Paper Flower Bouquet - Oh Happy Day. I love the colours used for this cheerful bouquet.

 

12. Cherry Blossoms - Creations by Kara. This one's for all you minimalists: simple tissue paper blossoms on bare branches.

13. Paper Chrysanthemums - Decora Recicla Imagina. So, so lovely. This tutorial is in Spanish but the pictures are very clear (plus there's always Google Translate).

14. Easy Paper Punch Flowers - Damask Love. A really useful guide to making a bunch of different flowers from using popular craft punches.



Getting your craft on for your wedding? Check out 10 Tips for Creating a DIY Wedding... and the latest book in the Mollie Makes series, Mollie Makes: Weddings (which includes a felt flower project designed by me!)

P.S. If you've got a blog and you're a fan of all things floral, maybe you fancy joining in with our fun tutorial link-up this May? Check out this post for all the details.

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