Cushion covers – two ways

Hello again! It’s been a while but I’ve not stopped making things I promise!

My recent creative obsession – because that’s how it happens isn’t it?! Is making cushion covers for my Etsy shop. I finally got around to making the cherry blossom themed felt fronted cushion cover I had been planning for months and months.

Here it is! I’m really pleased with it, it’s turned out almost exactly as I’d imagined.

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The other type of cushion cover I’ve been working on is patchwork. I’ve been doing patchwork for years now, ever since my mum taught me as a child. My style has always been pretty scrappy, not worrying too much about corners meeting or fussy pattern placement. However the past two weeks I have been giving a neater, more controlled type of patchwork a go, and I’ve got to say it’s really worth taking the extra time and care.

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The patchwork panel on the front of these cushions was hand sewn using the english paper pieces method, the border, back panel and side seams were machine sewn. I used an envelope opening style on the back so that the cushion covers can be removed easily and washed.

My natural love of all things blue and green really shows through in my colour choices for these cushions. I plan to make some more in other colours next as I know that not everyone shares my love for ocean colours!

I’d love to know what you think of my cushion covers, or what your current crafting obsession happens to be. Thanks for reading!

Embroidered Song Lyrics

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Just a quick post today as I wanted to share a piece of embroidery I finished recently featuring some of my favourite song lyrics.

This hoop was mostly worked on whilst we were stuck in bank holiday Monday traffic on the way back from a long weekend in beautiful Croyde. I love crafts that I can take with me anywhere and work on when I happen to have some time to fill, embroidery is perfect for this.

I had been thinking about embroidering my favourite song lyrics for a few weeks and had always planned to print out the lyrics in a pretty script, trace them onto the fabric and then sew over them so that the letters were uniform in shape and size. However when I found myself stuck in traffic with a needle, hoop, fabric and thread I couldn’t resist giving it a go freehand.

For this piece I used a heather grey cotton and embroidered it using variegated blue and green cotton threads. I finished the hoop neatly on the back with a piece of green felt stitched to the excess fabric pulled through the wooden hoop.

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The lyrics ‘I had too much to dream last night …’ are from one of my favourite songs of all time by the Electric Prunes. I have listed the hoop on my Etsy shop so maybe someone else who loves the song as much as me would like it hanging in their house too.

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My hope is that this will be the first in a series of embroidered designs featuring song lyrics, although next time I will print and trace the lyrics in an attractive font rather than my wonky handwriting. I know I want to do a few lyrics from Radiohead songs, but I’d love to know what lyrics you think would look good made into hoop art?!

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A Project Just For Me – Bunting

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Hello! Just a quick post today to share a little project I have been working on just for me. When you make things to sell and to give as gifts all the time it is so important to find the time to do small just for fun projects for yourself every now and then.

This bunting is made from fabrics I have had in my stash for a long time, I was saving them for that perfect project that never really came along. Having recently decided I must start using my stash before buying more fabric I decided to make aprons to sell on Etsy. I couldn’t bring myself to use every last inch of these special fabrics for the aprons though, and decided to keep a small bit back to make myself some bunting. I have been making bunting for years, mostly as gifts and sometimes to sell but I had never gotten around to making myself some. It feels really great to have finally done it and the bunting definitely brightens up our spare room/craft room nicely.

As I knew I would be hanging this bunting flat against a wall I only made the flags one sided, this left more fabric spare for other projects too. I simply cut triangles of each fabric, hemmed the edges and attached them to some ribbon. A simple project but very satisfying!

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Now that I’ve used some of my fabric stash I feel it might just be ok to buy some more … I hope I’m not the only one who has to really force themselves to use their treasured fabrics rather than just squirrelling them away for that elusive perfect project?

 

Machine Sewn Baby Blanket

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my plans for the two weeks off work I had over Easter, in that post I mentioned hoping to finish a baby blanket I have been working on and today I have finally finished it!

This is the first baby blanket I have ever made using my sewing machine, the previous blankets have been hand sewn. It was a much quicker process but it’s safe to say I need some more practice with cutting accurately and machine sewing neatly as my blanket has turned out pretty messy looking in places.

I started by choosing some cute fabrics and cutting them into strips, I chose strips because it would be quicker and simpler than triangles for instance but slightly more visually interesting than simple squares.

The next stage was working out order and placement for my quilt.

Once I had come up with a design I liked, I methodically piled up my strips of fabric and stored them in piles labelled by row so that I knew what order to sew them together in.

Then I got started sewing the strips together, once each strip in each row were joined I ironed the fabric and joined all the rows together.

The final stage was picking a fabric to use for the border and back of the quilt, as well as some wadding. I chose 100% cotton wadding as the blanket is for a baby, it’s so soft and easy to sew with I think I will use 100% cotton for all my quilts now. The colour I chose for the border was not what I originally wanted, I was hoping to find a green cotton that matched the green background of the fabric with a mushroom pattern. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a green that was suitable so I picked a bright teal instead that picks up on the teal in a few of the other fabrics. I usually use a patterned fabric for the back of my quilts but this time the main patchwork fabrics are so bright, loud and busy with pattern I wanted to tone down the overall feel of the quilt by using a plain cotton.

So here is my finished quilt, as I said before, I am not 100% happy with it as quite a few of the corners don’t meet properly and the whole thing has a slightly messy, rushed feel. I did learn a lot though and despite the messiness I am still looking forward to giving the quilt to my cousin for her new baby when he or she arrives in the summer. A handmade gift (especially one you have put a lot of time into) is always appreciated and loved, I’d rather give a slightly messy looking quilt to a loved one than a present bought in a shop any day!

Now that this quilt is finished I am looking forward to starting a new one and working harder on accurate cutting and neat machine sewing! If any of you make quilts or any form of patchwork I’d love to see it!

Finally Framed – Needle Felted Animal Portraits

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Well my two weeks off work are over, it went too quickly as it always does but I do feel I used the time well. One thing I did not do during my time off was blogging, that is not surprising to me as I never feel like even turning on my laptop during my free time. Due to the nature of my job I get some quiet moments whilst waiting for students to turn up etc. where I can blog and edit photos at work. So apologies for the two weeks of quiet on this blog, I promise I will get around to sharing all the creative things I’ve been doing recently over the next couple of weeks.

One project I am very glad to have finished during my time off is my needle felted animal portraits. I shared them in my last post so you may have seen them before, but they were unfinished as they were waiting for the perfect little frames. I had spent a few hours roaming my local charity shops and junk shops looking for tiny old picture frames that would suit these novelty portraits of a fox and a badger wearing human clothes. Unfortunately these frames of the perfect size turned out to be another of those items that you find all the time when you don’t need them but as soon as you do, they are nowhere to be found.

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Luckily a friend came to the rescue, giving me two wooden frames of the perfect size. They didn’t have the old look I was hoping for and they seemed a little plain for my dapper looking dressed up animals so I painted them a golden colour and then rubbed gold gilding wax over the top to give the frames a kind of gold leaf effect. I am very pleased with how the frames have turned out, they work well with the texture of the felted animal portraits and best of all they cost me nothing due to the kindness of my friend.

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I have listed these two on my Etsy shop but to be honest with you, I would not mind at all if they didn’t sell and I had to keep hold of them! I’d like to try making a few more and creating a series of animal portraits, what animal do you think I should try next?

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Easter holidays are finally here!

As I am lucky enough to work in education today is the start of two weeks off for me, to say I’m excited is an understatement! I have so many ideas of projects I’d like to do, places I’d like to go and people I’d like to see during these two weeks but the main way I want to use my time is to finish some work in progress projects that have been building up. I thought it might be nice to share some of the projects I’d like to get on with during my two weeks. I’m sure I will be more motivated to get them finished if I’ve told you all about them.

These little needle felted animal portraits are actually finished, but my aim for the Easter holidays is to find cute little vintage picture frames for them. I’m very excited to see them all framed up, I think they will look great! I made these little guys much in the same way as my needle felted animal ornaments, except these were needle felted onto small pieces of pre-felt and made flat rather than 3D. The fox is wearing a needle felted suit jacket but the badger’s shirt and tie are made from shop bought craft felt, it was loads of fun experimenting with making these animal portraits and I’m definitely going to make more!

In comparison to the needle felted animal portraits, this is a project which I have literally only just started. These fabric strips will be made into a patchwork baby blanket for my cousin’s baby, due in July. I have made a few baby blankets before but in the past have kept each blanket to just one colour scheme with different patterns, this time I wanted to try a more multi-colored theme with coordinating patterned fabric. This fabric was purchased at the Craft 4 Crafters fair we went to last month in Exeter, I really love the cute woodland theme, the mushroom print is my favourite! Unlike my other baby blankets which have been hand sewn, I will be machine sewing this quilt. I’m looking forward to getting to know my new sewing machine better and increasing my quilting skills. I adore making things for babies and can’t wait to make things for my own little ones sometime in the future.

This patchwork quilt is a project I have been working on for years, that’s not even an exaggeration .. it really has been years. I am using the english paper pieces method and hand sewing the whole thing which is part of the reason it has taken me so long, the other part is that I keep running out of money to buy more fabric. However I can finally say I am nearly finished with this quilt! I am sewing a border at the moment, using a pretty floral fabric in shades of ivory, pink and blue.

I hope to have finished the border in the next week or so and can then move onto picking backing fabric and wadding, exciting! I have learnt a lot whilst making this quilt so I will definitely write a big post about it when it is finally finished. That will be a good day.

The final project I’d like to share with you today is this apron that I finished sewing this week. A couple of years ago I made aprons as Christmas gifts for lots of people and it was so successful I have decided to make a few for my Etsy shop too. This is the first one I’ve made, I love the combination of subtle heather grey fabric with the bold psychedelic paisley deer print. Although this apron is finished I need to iron and photograph it properly and then list it on Etsy. Hopefully I can get that done during my time off and maybe even make some more aprons. My mind is full of fun fabric and print combinations I’m dying to try!

I’d love to know what you all have planned for Easter? As well as these crafty goals I am hoping to spend lots of time with friends and family and of course, eat my weight in chocolate eggs!

My first Etsy custom order…

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Sorry it’s been a little quiet around here for a week or so, I’ve been pretty busy with work, quality time with friends and family and lots of making things. I must work harder on making time for blog posts!

Something pretty exciting happened the other day, I received my first ever custom order on Etsy! A lovely lady called Pamela told me she loved the seascape design felt fronted cushion I had on my site, but wanted 2 larger versions. I was more than happy to have a go at making these for her and just this morning I got them finished! You can have a look at my original seascape felt cushion in this post.

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Making two matching pieces of felt was tricky, it meant carefully measuring out pieces of each colour used so as not to include too much of one and make them look too different from each other. I had also not worked on a sheet of felt this large before, Pamela wanted her finished cushions to be 45cm squares which meant starting the wet felting process with squares of over 60cm. If I am going to continue to create felt pieces of this size I will have to find myself a new work space as none of my surfaces were big enough to roll the large felt sheets comfortably. Attempting to work out how large to start the felt sheet to allow for shrinkage during the wet felting process was another challenge that thankfully turned out ok.

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Despite these challenges making this custom order was a brilliant experience for me and one I hope to have the chance to repeat regularly. Being paid to create has always been a dream of mine and this week I got to live that dream a little bit, it felt great!

I am still new to Etsy and the world of selling handmade items but I am really enjoying learning as I go along and this custom order has definitely boosted my confidence. If you have any advice/words of wisdom/amusing anecdotes about selling your handmade items I’d love to hear them!

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I’ve been making …

Just a quick post today to share a few of the things I’ve been making this past week. I have been feeling really inspired lately and my new working hours mean that I have a good amount of free time to be able to get on with personal projects. It feels so great to be going through a phase where I can turn ideas into actual finished items quickly as sometimes it can take forever!

I finally got round to turning a couple of handmade felt pieces into cushion covers, they are felt on the front and plain cotton on the back like my last felt fronted cushion, you can find my tutorial for making these here. I think the sea-scape cushion is my favourite, I nearly kept it for myself but I have decided to list both cushions on Etsy.

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I had a day off work yesterday as I’ve hurt my back, I’m definitely getting old! This unexpected free time meant that I could sit and give embroidery a proper go. I haven’t really tried embroidery before but I found working on both of these plant themed pieces so relaxing, I’ll definitely be doing more! I’ve decided to pop these in my Etsy shop too, just to see what happens, you can have a look at the Etsy shop here.

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Watercolour painting is another art form I have not done much of, but I’ve always been a huge fan of the way it looks. So I have decided to take the time to teach myself, probably using youtube tutorials, any recommendations of good ones would be great! These are just little scrappy tests I did one afternoon, my technique could certainly use some work but the main thing is I enjoyed doing it. I’m very excited to push myself out of my comfort zone creatively and learn a new skill.

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I’ve also been slowly working away on my 70’s inspired floral patchwork blanket, a project I have been working on for a couple of years now. I am pleased to say it is finally nearing completion! The english paper piecing method is slow but I think the blanket will be beautiful when it’s finished, I plan to share it with you soon.

That’s all for today, I hope you enjoyed seeing a little update of my creative activities. And thanks so much for reading, this blog really pushes me to find inspiration and finish the projects I start!

Needle Felted Succulent DIY

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Just a quick post today to show you how I made this cute little needle felted succulent. This little guy is also available to buy from my Etsy site. Take a look at our Etsy shop here. I plan to try making a few other types of needle felted houseplants, more succulent varieties and some cactus would definitely be fun!

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For this project I used some wool roving I was given by a friend, it is coarser than the corriedale or merino tops that I usually use so it felted really quickly but it was a funny mix of blue-ish greens so all the leaves came out a slightly different colour!

Anyway, here’s how to do it:

Start by rolling some wool roving into a rough ball-like shape. The amount of wool you use will decide the ultimate size of your leaf, you will get the hang of using the right amount of wool for your desired size after some practice.

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Start to stab your wool with your needle felting needle repeatedly, turning the wool over regularly so that it mats together evenly. Once the wool has started to mat together, begin to focus on a top and a bottom side, creating a flatter shape.

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Create a pointed leaf shape by focusing your stabbing on the two top edges. Don’t forget to work the top and bottom evenly, as well as working on all edges from time to time to create a smooth, neat, well constructed leaf shape. When you are happy with your leaf, move onto another one! You will need to make leaves of all different sizes to create your succulent.

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When you have made enough leaves (I made about 20) it is time to build your succulent. Sorry there are no photos of this stage, I got carried away and completely forgot to document this part. I’m also not sure that I built my succulent and attached it to the pot  in the most sensible way, you may well have a better idea than me of how to do it, but here’s what I did:

I turned a small amount of wool into a rough, flat base and beginning with my four biggest leaves, positioned them on top and attached them by stabbing them a few times. I repeated this step with each of my next leaves, working in fours and decreasing in size as I went along, attaching them at first to my wool base, and then also to the other leaves underneath. I added a small ball of wool roving to the middle of the succulent so that I had something to attach the smallest top leaves to.

When my succulent was attached together I put some toy filling in the small plant pot I was using (I used a metal one but a tiny terracotta pot would look cute too) and then covered it with some green craft felt, glueing the edges into the pot with super glue. This looked a little like a green cushion inside my pot. I then positioned my succulent on top of the felt with some super glue in the middle and stabbed the lowest leaves into the craft felt with my needle a few times to secure it into the pot and it was done!

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Phew! That was a tricky one to describe, I hope it made some sense? Like I said, I’m sure you can figure out a much simpler way to attach the felted succulent to the tiny plant pot. My way was complete guesswork and hard to describe but I’m pleased to say my little succulent is firmly attached to his new silver pot home.

It was so much fun to combine two of my favourite things – felting and succulents! What do you think of my little needle felt creation? Would you give it a go? I’d love to see pictures if you do.

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Photography Backdrop DIY

 

DSC_0042As someone who tries to regularly update a blog and sell on Etsy I know the importance of great photography to capture viewers attention and attract customers to your items. However for a long time I really have put no effort at all into my blog or product photography. To make matters worse I have a degree in photography and I work in a college photography studio. There really is no excuse for my laziness when it comes to the standard of the images I put online, I could easily bring items into work and use the studio set up there to create professional looking images, and I could have used the photographic knowledge I built up over years of studying to improve the photos I took for this blog at home but for some reason I haven’t.

Unfortunately when you have studied a subject for a long time, you can easily lose your passion for it. Equally when you work each day in an environment it can be hard to muster enthusiasm for using that environment to it’s full potential. I have wanted to focus on making and creating rather than improving the photos of the things I make and create.

Having recently decided that it is time to change all of this, I set out to make a set of simple bright photography backdrops that I could use easily at home to photograph small items for my Etsy shop and this blog. I was inspired by this post from A beautiful Mess to create a whitewashed wooden board backdrop.

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Want to know how I made this whitewashed wood photography backdrop? read on, it’s so simple!

Once again having a father who is a carpenter came in handy: he gave me a few offcuts of MDF with a smooth white finish on each side. One sheet I will be keeping plain white. For the other sheet, I bought 5 sheets of soft wood cladding from a local DIY store and used them to create a wooden plank effect.

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First I glued each piece of the cladding together, then I added some wood glue to the MDF and placed my assembled cladding onto the wooden board.

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I then firmly secured the cladding to the board using nails along the edges. The 5 planks of soft wood cladding I bought just happened to be the same width as my MDF board so I did not have to cut them. They are however much longer than my board, but I decided rather than cutting them down to size to keep the extra length as it will give me more room to photograph my subject.

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Once the wood glue was dry I used a tester pot of white fence paint to give the boards a bright, white finish. The test pot managed about two coats before running out, leaving my with a whitewash effect that is bright and white enough, while still showing some wood grain and texture underneath.

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I am very pleased with the outcome of this simple DIY, I can place my backdrop in whichever room has the best natural light at the time and switch between white wooden boards as a base or as a background, using the plain white MDF board as well. This is essential in a house like mine that is often very dark, the darkness has really been holding me back lately in terms of photography for Etsy and this blog, I’m so glad I’ve found a solution!

The added texture that the planks of soft wood give add some detail and interest to the images, whilst the bright white keeps it fresh and avoids distracting the eye from the subject of the image.

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The whole thing cost less that £5 too, which is always a winner with me! I’d like to try tiling one of the other boards with some simple but pretty tile next, more options for backdrops with texture can only be a good thing!

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What tips and tricks do you use for taking photos at home? I’d love to hear!