When my previous manager and mentor announced she was leaving I knew I had to make something to show my appreciation and thank her for all the support and guidance she had given me. I have now (January 2018) been doing my current job for nearly two years but prior to that, anxiety and an acute fear of failure meant that I stayed in a “temporary” job for 8 years because it was comfortable and I was good at it. This lady helped me take the plunge, be brave and work towards achieving my potential.
The item I chose to customise for her leaving gift was a jute shopping bag – reusable shopping bags for the win! I still had a few crochet roses left over from a previous experiment so finished off the rest of the colours in a pack of Lion Brand Bonbons – there are loads of different colourways, the one I used is full of neons and beautiful brights. I’d been planning to crochet a rose in each of the eight colours for ages but never managed to get all of them finished at once before they got pinched for other projects. The pattern I used was a very simple one – you crochet a long undulating strip which is rolled up and stitched into a spiral. I did have to make some of the flowers slightly smaller – yarn previously used for other projects and all that… I combined the flowers with a monogrammed applique patch in cotton fabric and felt. I loved the end result – very bright and cheerful!
Materials: Jute Bag from Hobbycraft, Lion Brand Bonbons yarn pack in Crayons, Pattern from Summer Homestyle pull out from Mollie Makes Issue 40
My son loves cows. Not just a little bit – it’s bordering on obssession. In a way I feel partially responsible. My parents have a holiday home in Normandy, France. It’s a converted farm house and is adjacent to a working dairy farm. The President lorry turns up once a week to collect the milk to turn it into camembert – it’s all very lovely! However, we visited for a few weeks in August 2015 when he was just over a year old and it all began from there! Everytime my son was restless or upset or needing calming down we took him to see the cows and he became captivated by the majesty of these gentle giants. So it made sense that his 2nd birthday card would be cow themed!
Embroidery and applique again and very similar to the one I made for my daughter a few months earlier – hey, if something works and all that! It’s a very simple design but an effective one. The fabric in the background was from a local stationery shop who were selling fat quarters for £1.00 – I think this was designed as a Christmas fabric but I really liked the geometric pattern. Although I always say it, I do like embroidery but only ever seem to do it for birthday cards – I really must make the effort to do more!
I have always tried to made time to hand-make my Mum a Mother’s Day card. They are usually floral in theme and although I’ve tried many different crafts I usually end up coming back to embroidery. I could probably say something sentimental about my Mum having taught me to sew as a kid (which she did) but I do really like embroidery and feel that I don’t do it enough anymore so it’s always a nice excuse!
This year it was all about the retro fabrics! A while ago I bought a massive bag of paper pieced hexies from a charity shop for the bargainous sum of £3.50 – there must be around 200 of them, all cut out and stitched on to their little bits of newspaper. It was obviously a real labour of love for someone and even included the template made from cereal box card marked with “Don’t throw away!”. Some of the hexies have also been made up into a cushion-ish size piece although the combination of fabrics is a bit odd, to say the least. At some point I plan on using the whole lot to create something – I’ve seen some interesting patterns for little patchwork bags and purses and there are definitely enough hexies to make up some of the traditional 7 shape flower blocks but that’s a project for another time, when I have a whole lot more time on my hands!
The fabric that the hexies have been made from is an eclectic mix – so many different colours, materials, patterns and all of an era (mainly 80s I reckon) – so when I was looking for some fabric to use for my applique and embroidery Mother’s Day Card I was spoilt for choice! I went for a simple pale blue and green floral, a shiny teal chintz and a fabulous lime, turquoise and brown striped pattern. I cut out eight flower shapes and back stitched the outlines of the centres and the petals. For the background, I used a grass coloured piece of felt which I’d stitched stems and stalks on to before attaching the flowers. I chain stitched around the aperture of the card to secure the felt in place. It’s something of an experiment as I don’t like using glue which always seems to buckle the card and the double sided tape that I’ve used previously never seems to last very long before it starts to come away. A quick and simple make – I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out.
Working at the same time as the capelet (although not literally – that would be mad crazy skills!) I made a string of tiny bunting using washi tape and baker’s twine. My collection of washi tape expands on a regular basis, much to my husband’s dismay, so it’s nice to have used some of it to create something so pretty. I think I may have a problem (read addiction) but all the different tapes are so beautiful I find it almost impossible to resist… I created it as part of the decorations for my daughter’s birthday party – but more of that later!
My daughter was born the day after Valentine’s day so February is always a challenge for me craft wise. I’ve therefore this week, also completed my husband’s Valentine’s card. It’s been inspired by one of the many free Mollie Makes kits I’ve received over the years, all nautical and sailor tattoo themed but good fun. The background is a piece of my son’s trousers that were so completely mud-stained at the knees that I haven’t been able to get them clean – put to good use here!
The party decorations / preparations were completed in time and I’m pleased to say, met the incredibly high expectations of my daughter! She had been bugging me for ages to make her a tiger outfit. I compromised by making an A-line tunic from tiger print fleece fabric. It turned out much better than I expected. I bought a metre of fabric which I folded in half. I cut a neckline and sleeve holes then sewed up each side on the sewing machine. I added a floral bias binding trim around the neck to finish it off. Matching tiger ears sewn onto a headband completed the look. The tiger theme continued with the birthday card – a simple embroidery design using felt and more recycled trouser fabric for the background. I made tiger cupcakes and a tiger themed big cake – many, many tigers but I do as I am told! I also crafted a happy birthday plaque type thing – 3D letters, or more accurately words, fashioned from leftover packaging cardboard, covered in phone directory pages (an invaluable source of papier mache paper over the years!), all finished off with coloured tissue paper. I feel this particular decoration will be used and re-used for many birthdays to come!
After a failed experiment using some retro Emu Coolspun yarn that I was gifted from my friend’s great aunt I went on to make another pair of crocheted hi-tops for a friend’s new baby. I also crocheted a baby rabbit which I’m really pleased with as I designed it myself (read completely winged it!). I put the lessons learned from the little alien to good use and plumped for crochet rather than knitting. This was mainly done as I felt I could finish the whole thing much more quickly but also I could make it in the round without the faff of double pointed needles (which I am still vaguely scared of). I’ve always found sewing up seams incredibly difficult to master and it’s even more tricky when using sock yarn – it was one of the things I didn’t like about the alien. I think I also fixed the issues I had with the proportions and the head to body ratio.
Shortly after the first rabbit I moved swiftly on to the second one which I made for my nephew. In a bid to be more organised, I’m writing down the pattern as I go along so I can recreate it properly!
So here goes…
ch4 and ss into 1st chain to join.
Round 1: 12tr into round (12 sts)
Round 2: 2tr into each st (24 sts)
Round 3: 1tr in first stitch, 2 tr in second stitch – repeat all the way round (36sts)
Round 4: 1dc into back loop only (36sts)
Rounds 5 – 9: 1tr in each stitch (36sts)
Round 10: tr2tog, 1tr – repeat all the way round (24sts)
Round 11: dc2tog all the way round (12sts)
Stuff body at this point
Round 12: 2dc into each st (24sts)
Rounds 13 – 15: 1tr in each st (24sts)
Round 16: dc2tog, 1dc – repeat all the way round (12sts)
Round 17: dc2tog all the way round (6sts)
Round 18: dc2tog all the way round (3sts)
Fasten off and use tail of yarn to pull final stitches tight. Sew in ends.
I attached little ears and a felt face and tail and I also put a little bell into each of my rabbits when I stuffed the body. It doesn’t make much noise as the toy stuffing muffles it but it jingles a little bit. Rabbit number two is pictured here with it’s own matching hi-tops and also “the blanket” – a pure labour of love to be discussed at a later date!
Yarn used: Rabbit One and matching Hi-Tops – Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter DK in Archie (shade 166). Rabbit Two and matching Hi-Tops – stripes of King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK in
shades 1643 Pale Mint, 518 Ice Blue, 635 Lawn Green, 533 Green, 525 Cobalt, 609 Glacier, 524 Damson and 637 Saffran
Hi-Top pattern from Mollie Makes, see earlier post for full details.
A quick make for my not so baby boy who turns one next week. I’m relatively happy with the execution – a few imperfections but on the whole it turned out as planned. I love the idea of building blocks and really wanted to try and get some sort of 3-D effect going – it sort of works if you squint but you can definitely get the idea!
On his actual birthday, we also introduced my son to the delights of chocolate fudge icing. Instead of a traditional birthday cake, I decided to make a dozen teddy bear face buns. Very easy to decorate, chocolate fudge icing “roughed up” with a knife then chocolate buttons added for the features with piped eyes and smiles. He definitely enjoyed it to say the very least!
My Mum turns 60 this year and for her birthday card, I’m thinking felt embroidery, possibly fruit and flowers with textures and 3-D. My problem is that I’ve made so many cards for my Mum over the years that I don’t want to repeat myself but I’m procrastinating to the point of running out of time.
So I have a vague design now. I need to check and order supplies and get my arse in gear next. Nothing like a bit of pressure to get motivated!
Right so all the pieces have been cut out. The idea is that there are four layers of felt for the background with cut-out leaf shapes which show the layers beneath. The base layer is a very pale blue with shades of green on top. Having thought that I wouldn’t have the felt colours in my stash, it’s actually the embroidery thread that I’m short of. I’ve decided to blanket stitch the leaves in the colour of the layer below so need pale blue, lime green and a grass colour. I’m still in two minds about the flower embroidery. I’ve gone for 2 red and 1 turquoise flower all with yellow centres. I think I might go with white embroidery for the petals and yellow for the centres. I also have a plan for the centres – a chain stitch flower slightly off centre with French knots filling in the space.
And finished. Once I’d started making up the flowers, I realised that the centres were too big to actually fit on to the flowers themselves so I rejigged the design a little. I’m really pleased with it and it was well received so all good. It was nice to do embroidery again after so long and it got my creative head going with loads of new ideas…
Another distraction has arisen in the form of a fancy dress costume for my daughter. I’ve just put the finishing touches to her scarecrow costume for a Nursery Harvest Festival.
Hessian patched jeans, a “straw” (curling ribbon and raffia) trimmed top with matching cuffs, all topped off with a floral hessian headband. I have to point out that this was all achieved in an evening so I feel a bit like a supermum!
I had grand plans for a Cliff based decoupage project for February but plans changed. I went to a friend’s baby shower a few weeks ago where we spent a lovely afternoon drinking tea, eating cake and crafting decoupage building blocks for her new baby. I loved the idea and brought home a set of 4 wooden blocks but unfortunately Cliff’s choice of pose for February doesn’t fit with what I have in mind so decoupage will be postponed until March.
I have developed quite an obsession with embroidered photographs recently. There are so many amazing ones online and I’ve been itching to have a go – so step forward February Cliff, the time is now! I cut out Cliff’s face and put it over a piece of cotton fabric within an embroidery hoop. I decided that using cloth behind the paper would strengthen the whole thing and protect the paper from tearing. Picking up on colours from Cliff’s shirt and tie, I chose three shades of purple embroidery cotton and used single strands to embroider a series of geometric star and jewel shapes. I pierced the holes for each small design as I went along so I had an idea of what I was doing but it was (as most of my projects are) made up as I went along!
I’m particularly pleased with the starburst design round the eye! To finish off I did a running stitch around the edge of the cotton and pulled it in so the cotton was tidied round the back. I used double sided tape to secure the paper and attached another piece of cotton on the reverse to hide the back of the work. All in all a enjoyable and satisfying addition to the Cliff Craft Challenge – roll on March 2016!