Monthly Archives: February 2019

Blowing In The Wind

If you remember way back when I was preparing for my wedding last June, I wanted to make bunting from all of the lovely tags our guests had hung on the Wedding Wish Tree.  Well, the months have passed and when I came to look at them all again the other day I realised that I’d already made 2 different lots of bunting for my Project 52 – one crochet and one sewn – so thought I’d try something different instead.

 

 

 

There were a couple of dozen tags to be displayed altogether, so I toyed with the idea of some kind of mobile.  Hanging up some washing the next day I came across the 2 basic metal coat hangers that had held my husband’s wedding suit when it came back from the dry cleaners.  Immediately I was transported back to my childhood and those fabulous advent candle mobiles that they always made on Blue Peter every year – do you know the ones I mean?

Well, that decided it.  Using my jewellery tools, I cut off the hook from one of the coat hangers and managed to carefully untwist what was left of the top, before sliding it inside the other hanger, and twisting the remains of the top around the base of the other hook.   Next I secured the twisted ends with sellotape, and also taped the part where the two hangers overlapped to make sure they would stay in place.   I then used the pliers to carefully bend the remaining hook over into a loop so that I would be able to use it to hang the mobile.   Hopefully the photos will help make sense of this process!

 

I wanted to cover the metal, so I had a dig around in my ribbon stash.  I ended up with 2 different ribbons which I wrapped around the metal so that it was all covered.  I was quite rough and ready doing this as I wanted a rustic look, so I didn’t mind the odd bump!

 

 

When I got to the end, a simple blob of glue held the two ends in place and I popped a peg on for a while until the glue had dried.

 

 

 

The tags themselves already had bits of lovely string on them so it was an easy job to loop them around the mobile.  I spent a bit of time deciding which to put on each spoke of the mobile as there was a selection of different designs and I tried to spread them out evenly.  Something was missing though, so I thought back to my wedding and honeymoon and came up with the idea of adding in some maps of the various places that we visited.  I decided to go for 10 places altogether, making 5 double sided hearts (one to go on each of the corners and another in the centre).

To cut out the maps, I made a heart template from greaseproof paper that I could place onto my atlas to be certain I was including exactly the right places!  I decided that in order for the hearts to hang well the paper maps would need to be attached to some fabric to give them a bit of stiffness, and I found some felt that I thought would be ideal.  I didn’t have enough of the same colour so ended up with 3 different purples/pinks.

I had a little experiment sewing the paper hearts onto a scrap felt heart, but it was really difficult to keep the paper still as I was sewing, and obviously I couldn’t pin them in place as that would leave pin marks in the paper.  In the end I sewed the paper hearts onto the larger pieces of felt and then cut out heart shapes around them and this worked much better!

 

 

Once the maps were sewn to the felt and the heart shapes cut (using pinking shears to give a pretty edging), I put 2 hearts back to back and sewed them together to make them double sided.  Then it was just a case of adding ribbon to enable them to hang from the mobile.  To do this I cut ribbon to the right length and hung it over the wire then hand sewed it to the heart.

 

 

 

To hang the mobile I found an old hook with a screw fixing.

 

 

 

 

I wandered the house looking for the best place to put it and settled on the bottom of the banister in the hallway.  I’m really chuffed with the final result and get to walk past such lovely memories every day!

 

Now You See It, Now You Don’t!

I must admit that I have a bit of a reputation in my family for occasionally losing things.  Personally I prefer to think of it as putting things in safe places but then forgetting where those safe places are until way after I need whatever it is I’m looking for!

Anyway, I seemed to have misplaced the rather lovely silver brooch that came with a grey knitted hat I bought from Accessorize a few years ago, so when I came across a pack of brooch pins, I thought I’d have a go at making a replacement.

Having just finished a couple of crochet flower workshops, I thought flowers would be perfect for my new brooch, so set about digging in my yarn stash.  In the end I decided on this gorgeous King Cole Curiosity Tweed leftover from a shawl I knitted a while ago.  The full cake had lots of colours in it, but I was left with 2 here, so the obvious choice was to make one flower in the dark petrol blue shade, and one in the paler blue.

Some of my favourite flower patterns are from the wonderful Attic 24 website which has really comprehensive instructions with plenty of photographs to help you on your way.  I opted for the pretty flowers that you can find in Lucy’s Jolly Chunky bag pattern (this was the bag that ended up being a bed for Coco the chihuahua back in Project 17!)

 

To end up with a 3d effect I wanted to lay one of the flowers on top of the other, so needed one to be smaller than the other.  To achieve this, I simply used different sized hooks – a 4mm for the large flower and a 3mm for the smaller one and they came out really well.

 

 

Once I had my 2 flowers, it was time to layer them up and find just the right button to sew on.  The button needs to be sewn through both flowers to secure them together.

 

 

When you’ve sewn the button on, there’s no need to cut the thread, just use it to sew on the brooch pin on the back, making sure it’s nice and secure.

And there you have it – one flower brooch all ready to pin on whatever you fancy.  Now I just need to remember where I put my hat!

 

 

 

 

9 into 1 – with no remainder!

Hidden in my Liberty stash was this rather lovely 9 patch cushion kit by Alice Caroline.  There are some absolutely stunning kits and other bits and pieces on her website (I particularly love the Tree of Life quilt) so it’s definitely worth taking a look – I defy you not to be tempted!

Now I haven’t actually done much patchwork before, and what I have done was a good few years ago.  However I bought some new cushions for the front room at Christmas and was keen to add to my burgeoning collection!  The kit comes with full instructions and everything you need apart from sewing cotton and the cushion pad itself which I bought for £4 from Dunelm.  The fabric is all beautiful Liberty designs and already cut to the right size.

Obviously if you want to use material you already have, you can make your squares any size you like, so long as they’re all identical, and that’s really important if you want nice straight edges and seams that match up.  The best way to cut them to size is using a rotary cutter and a quilting board and ruler.

The 9 patch design is probably one of the easiest patchwork patterns to start with, and this cushion features a basic envelope style back too, so there’s no zip involved either, making it an ideal project for a beginner.

As always, the fun comes in experimenting with fabric choices and deciding where you’re going to put the various pieces.  I had a good play about before deciding on the final layout for the 9 pieces.  Once you’ve made your mind up, it’s simply a case of sewing the top left square to the top middle square (right sides together), then sewing the top right square to the strip of 2 squares you’ve created (using 1/4 inch seams throughout) You repeat this with the middle and bottom rows so that you end up with 3 strips of fabric.  You can then iron the seams open.

Guess what?  Next you sew the 3 strips together so that you end up with one large square – easy eh?!  The trick however is making sure that all your seams line up.  I had to undo one of mine as the seams were out (you can see what I mean in the photo below).

Once you’re happy with the seams, you can iron them all open and you’re ready to tackle the back of the cushion.  The envelope opening is beautifully simple.  You need 2 rectangular pieces of fabric that will overlap by a good few inches allowing you to slide your cushion pad in and cover it up again.  You’ll need to hem one of the long edges on one of the rectangles, then do the same on the other (photo below left).

To complete the cushion, place one of the back pieces on to the front of the cushion (right sides together) then place the other back piece so that it lines up with the side of the cushion front and overlaps the other back piece (photo above right).  Pin or tack the back pieces to the front, then seam all the way around (again with a quarter inch seam).

In order to make the corners nice and sharp, trim them quite close to the seam, turn the cushion the right way round, then using a knife gently push the corners out.

 

In the photo on the right I’ve popped my needle case in the opening that overlapping the 2 back pieces creates so that you can see how you’ll be able to slide your cushion pad in.

 

 

All it needs now is a cushion pad inside, a little fluffing up and it’s ready for inspection by Coco!

 

 

 

I Want to Ride my Bicycle!

Well we’ve had a few promising days weather wise recently and it got me thinking about getting out on my bike again!  I then remembered that I’d made a start on some rather lovely bike decorations that I’d discovered in this gorgeous book by Shara Ballard and published by David&Charles

 

The project I particularly liked was the bike spoke decoration and after a bit of digging around in boxes I managed to find the pieces that I’d already crocheted using 4ply cotton in a variety of different colours. The book provides patterns for some rather lovely shapes and I just had to make sure I’d made enough of each of them to complete the design.

 

Once I was happy with all the pieces I’d crocheted, it was a case of laying them out on the table and checking how they would fit together.   It took a little experimenting to see what looked best where, but when I’d decided on the final positioning I had to sew them together – this was simply a case of a few stitches at the places where the pieces met.

 

To make the spoke decoration rigid and weather proof, it needed to be varnished, and acrylic  varnish was recommended.   I decided that I’d better do a proper job and bought some spray varnish which I thought would be ideal.  I turned a tray upside down and placed a piece of clingfilm over it.  I then laid the crocheted pieces on top before I started the varnishing – that way they wouldn’t all stick to the tray and I could turn them over once they were dry and do the other side.  I soon discovered however that perhaps the spray varnish wasn’t the best option for use with cotton as I needed multiple coats before it was anywhere near rigid.  In the end I reverted to my trusty pva/glue mixture which worked perfectly – typical!!

Once the spoke decoration was rigid and dry, it was time to fix it to the back wheel of my bike.  To do this, I needed some plastic cable ties.   These I got from Wickes for the princely sum of 99p!  They were much longer than I needed, but it was an easy job to trim the ends once I’d fastened the decoration to the wheel spokes.  I ended up using 8 ties in the end to make sure it was firmly in place.

All in all this was a really satisfying project.  It’s been great to complete another of my WIPS (Works In Progress!) and I’m just waiting for the next sunny day now to get back out again on the bike.  I may even have a go at a few more of the lovely projects in the book!

Valentine Buttons

After a recent framed proggy heart workshop, I was left with a white box frame just begging for some kind of picture to liven it up!   I’ve fancied having a try at a button picture for a while now so I got out my jars of buttons and set to work thinking about a design that might be suitable.

 

After a bit of a play around I decided on a H and a B (for my husband Harry and me) and had a go at sketching out a design.  I used greaseproof paper which I could fold in half then half again to make sure the initials would fit in exactly the right position.

 

 

So far so good, but when I traced the initials onto a piece of card and started to place buttons along the outline of the letters, I soon realised that it just wasn’t going to look good at all!  I loved the 2 heart buttons, but unfortunately even the smallest round buttons in my stash were just too big, so the end result just looked a bit  naff really!

 

So it was back to the drawing board ,,,

Looking at the frame again, and the actual amount of space available, I realised that a simple shape would look best and, with Valentine’s Day looming, a heart seemed the obvious choice.

On another sheet of greaseproof paper I drew a simple heart shape, making sure it fitted neatly inside the mount and, once I was happy with the shape and size, I traced it onto a piece of plain white card.

The next step was to experiment by simply placing a variety of buttons on the heart to see what it would look like before I started gluing them in place.   When this was done, I carefully slid all the buttons over to the left of my heart outline (as in the photo above on the right).  Then I put a bit of UHU glue on the lower part of the heart and gradually moved the buttons across one at a time, pressing them into place as I went.  The glue stayed wet for a while, so it was still possible to slide them around a bit if I wanted to change the design a little to get the best fit.

Once all the buttons were stuck down, I put a sheet of old cardboard on top, then a pile of heavy books on top of that, just to make sure they all stayed in place and also to flatten out the card as the glue had made it buckle slightly.  The next morning the heart was dry, nicely flat and all ready to sellotape to the back of the mount and pop into the frame!

And there you have it, one Valentine’s Button Picture!

 

 

A Paper Bracelet


Well, working my way through my stash has meant that I’ve gradually been able to organise my craft room a little better – although it’s still a long way from finished!  Sorting through a set of drawers I came across some A4 sheets of paper that I’d marbled a few years ago, but never done anything with. It took me a little while to decide what to do with them, but I thought I’d have a go at making some jewellery and I plumped for a bracelet.  I chose 2 designs with a similar colourway and found a sheet of handmade pale lemon paper too which I thought might go quite nicely so added that in as well.

There are lots of on-line tutorials explaining how to make paper beads, but it’s really, really easy to do.  First you decide on how wide you want each of your beads to be – I went for 2cm across.   Next you mark the back of each sheet of paper with cutting lines so that each strip is the desired width at the base and rises to a point at the top (see the photo).  So basically you’re looking to cut out long, thin triangles 🙂

 

 

Once you’ve cut out your strips, it’s time to turn them into beads.  To do this you need a thin knitting needle or skewer and you simply wrap the paper around as tightly as you can, starting from the wide base.  Try and keep the paper perpendicular to the needle so that you end up with a nicely balanced bead and you don’t get the paper veering off to one side of the bead.  Once you’ve wound most of the paper round, and you’re just left with the thin point, paste the point with some pva/water mixture and continue wrapping it around the needle until it’s all gone.  You can then transfer this bead onto another needle to keep it out of the way and let it dry.  Continue in this way, until you have as many beads as you need.  At this point you can paint them all with a couple of coats of pva/water just to strengthen them.

If you remember, as well as my two marbled sheets, I also chose a sheet of handmade paper, but when I started to work with it I found it ripped too easily, so in the end I opted to just use the 2 marbled sheets.  By all means have a good experiment with different types of paper.  These beads would be great made from old magazines or the dozens of take away leaflets that seem to be posted through the door every week!

Once your beads are all dry they’re ready to use.  I dug out some wooden beads to add to my bracelet and had a play around with positioning before I threaded a combination of paper and wooden beads onto a length of invisible thread.  You can have fun experimenting with different combinations before you commit yourself to the final design.

As soon as you’ve made your mind up, you need to fasten off the ends.  If you wanted to make things easier for yourself, you could avoid this stage by simply threading your beads through some elastic thread.  You would then just need to tie the ends and make sure the knot was hidden inside one of the beads.  However, if you want to be a little more sophisticated you will need some jewellery ‘findings’ (basically all the metal bits that enable you to finish off your piece and make it close and stay closed).

You’ll need a clasp, one or two small jump rings and two calottes.  The calottes are tiny shell like pieces that you open out.  There is a small hole in the centre of them, so the idea is that you slip the end of your thread through, tie a good few knots in the thread, then hide the knots in the clasp part of the calotte.  You can simply close the two sides together to hide the knot, or you can add a dab of glue before you close it up just to make sure.  You can then snip off any extra thread that’s poking out of the calotte.  Once you’ve put a calotte on each end, your bracelet is secure and the beads won’t fall off.

You now need to attach a jump ring to one end and a clasp to the other end, in order to be able to fasten your bracelet.  The jump rings have a small cut in them so that you can hold either side of the cut with a pair of pliers, move one pair forwards and the other backwards to open up a slight gap.  Once you have a little gap you can slide the clasp through, then take up your pliers and reverse the procedure to close up the gap thereby securing the clasp.

And here’s the finished result!

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in having a go at any more jewellery projects, there’s a great introduction to jewellery making produced by Beads Unlimited, and I’d love to see photos of anything you make 🙂