Category Archives: News

Bee Happy!

At last year’s Yarndale festival in Skipton I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by the amazingly talented Jaki Bogg, learning how to make what she referred to as ‘rip and stitch’ brooches.  I’d seen quite a few of these kinds of brooch on Pinterest and was keen to have a go myself – you’ve probably seen them – they tend to feature little sayings or quotes on them and feature a lovely decorative kilt pin.

Needless to say, I didn’t get my brooch finished during the workshop, but brought everything home to finish off at my leisure.  I’ve come across the bits on several occasions over the last few months and I every time I saw them I thought, ‘I really must finished that brooch off’ but somehow never quite got round to it!

 

This is what I brought home with me – the basis of the brooch, along with a small selection of old cotton fabric, a button and some bits of embroidery thread.

 

 

 

When I spread everything out on the table, I remembered that I wasn’t entirely happy with what I’d done so far which is possibly why it’s lain in my basket for so long!  Basically, the brooch consists of a firm-ish piece of wadding cut to whatever shape and size you fancy and then covered in fabric.  I’d attached my fabric using a series of running stitches but I hadn’t stretched it out carefully enough and the bottom section of my brooch wouldn’t lie flat.   To rectify this I simply unpicked the stitches along the bottom and made a better job of spreading out the fabric this time before I sewed another row of running stitches to hold it in place.

During the workshop I’d attached 2 small pieces of ripped cotton on the top section of the brooch using a small running stitch interspersed with cross stitch, and I’d sewn on a button.   Now it was just a case of deciding what to put on next!

I experimented with some ribbon from my stash but decided that the neat edges didn’t really go with the ripped, more rustic style of the brooch (when you rip rather than cut fabric, you get a lovely rough edge). Instead I decided on a piece of rather lovely tie dyed effect fabric which I ripped into a narrow rectangle.  I pinned this in place and popped one of my remaining bee charms on to see what that would look like.

While I was making up my mind about the bee, I decided to stitch my wording onto the brooch and it didn’t take me long to decide on ‘Bee happy’!  Using small stitches, I back-stitched the letters through all the layers of the brooch so that the bottom half of the tie dyed fabric was secured in place too.  I then tried placing the bee charm at the top and a button at the bottom to see what that would look like, and was suitably pleased with the result.

Once I’d sewn both the charm and the button in place, the tie dye fabric was nice and secure without the need for any additional stitches which was great.

At this point, the front was all finished, so it was now a case of fixing the kilt pin in place before tidying up the back.

I wrapped a piece of plain cotton over the hook side of the pin, then sewed a row of small back stitches all the way along as close to the pin as possible.  Once I’d secured the fabric to the pin, I could place it on the back of the brooch, right at the top and pin it in place.

The final step was to back the brooch to hide all the loose ends of thread and to secure the pin in position.  I placed the largest piece of cotton under the brooch and cut all the way around leaving a good sized hem allowance of about 2cms.  I then folded the hem over, and held it in place as I worked my way around attaching the backing to the brooch with a series of tiny stitches.

And there you have it – one ‘Bee happy’ brooch to brighten up a coat or a bag maybe, or even to hang on the wall as a little mini pendant – the choice is yours!

 

 

 

From Peg Loom to Leg Room!

Well I think my yarn stash must be magic – it seems no matter how much of the stuff I use, I still have bags of wool hiding under my table!

This time I thought I ought to use up some of the chunky wool I have, so I decided to make 2 little mats to go in the back of the car.

 

My lovely Dad had made me a little peg loom a while ago, so when Harry went out the other night I sat myself down in front of the telly and set to.

 

 

Peg loom weaving is wonderfully easy to do, and very therapeutic.  A small loom like mine fits nicely on your lap and you work with the weaving away from you so that it covers your legs as you go (all will become clear!)

To start, you need to thread each of the pegs in the loom with a long piece of yarn.  I used a darning needle to get my yarn through the holes and made sure that the yarn was plenty longer than the size I wanted my finished mat to be (this is to allow extra yarn to tie off the ends and make tassels).  You’ll end up with 2 strands of yarn hanging down from each peg and these are known as the warp threads.

Once your loom is set up, pop it on your knee, make sure you have a bag of yarn and a cup of tea to hand, tune in to Poirot, and you’re ready for the off!

To start, you simply weave your first colour in front and behind each of the pegs in turn.  When you come to the end of a row, bring the yarn round the last peg and continue the pattern.  Keep going for as many rows as you want with this colour.  Once you’re ready to change, get to the end of a row, trim the old yarn (leaving a nice long end to weave in), and attach your new colour with a slip knot just like in the picture above.  You’re now ready for the off again, making sure that  you keep the ‘in front then behind’ pattern correct as you go.  For neatness always change colour at the same edge of your loom.

 

As you weave, your work will progress up to the top of the pegs.  Once you’ve got to this stage, it’s time to clear the pegs to allow you to continue.

 

 

You do this by carefully lifting up one peg at a time from its hole, pushing the weaving down the warp threads and replacing the empty peg back into its hole.

Your work will slide safely down the warp threads and you just have to push it back up again once all the pegs are back in their holes.  You’re reading to continue weaving.  Repeat this process until your work reaches the required length.

To finish your work, take it off the pegs but don’t push it back up this time.  Instead make sure you leave a good 6 inches of warp thread showing and then snip the warp close to the pegs to remove them.  You should now have your weaving with long warp threads on either end.

 

In order to secure your weaving, you’ll need to knot tassels at either end.  To do this you take one warp thread from one channel, and one from the channel next to it, then knot them together (see the two single threads in the photo)

 

Do this at both ends of the weaving, then trim the tassels to whatever length you like.

All that’s left to do then is to weave in the loose ends on the back of the mat.

 

Once I finished my first mat, I made another the same size and they now have pride of place in the rear footwells in my car 🙂

 

Spring has Sprung

I’ve made quite a few different crocheted flowers over the previous few months, but this latest project to make a Spring wreath saw me crocheting a daffodil which I’ve never attempted before!  I had some polystyrene wreath bases (which I’d used at Christmas) but thought if I was going to make a Spring wreath, then the twig one I had would be more appropriate.

 

The patterns I used all came from the Simply Crochet magazine 2019 Calendar.  The calendar features four stunning wreaths all designed by Kate Eastwood who has a wonderful book out  – Crocheted Wreaths and Garlands which I can highly recommend if you fancy treating yourself!

 

Obviously you could use any flower and leaf patterns, lots of which are freely available with detailed instructions on the attic 24 webpage.

 

Once you’ve decided on your chosen wreath base, it’s simply a case of setting to work and crocheting a selection of flowers and leaves (or you could knit them if you preferred, or sew them from felt or scraps of fabric).

 

 

 

Once I’d made a few, I placed them on the wreath and experimented with various positions.  If I liked the arrangement then I took a photo of it so that I’d be able to replicate it if I moved them about a bit to try other positions.

 

 

 

  

Keep going until you have enough to complete the wreath.  Remember, that you don’t have to fill it in completely if you don’t want to, a few strategically placed flowers can look really effective, but do have a good play around until you’re happy with how it looks (and remember to leave space to pop a ribbon on so  you can hang the wreath).

 

To attach the flowers and leaves I decided to use the glue gun, so it really couldn’t have been easier.  However, once they’re stuck then they’re stuck, so make sure you’re happy with the arrangement before you glue!

 

 

The final flourish was to add a daffodil head to the front of the ribbon – eh voila!

Memory Bracelet

If you’ve ever fancied having a go at jewellery making, then a memory bracelet is definitely a great place to start – they’re sooo easy to make!

 

 

 

 

Memory wire is so called because it’s manufactured to keep its coiled shape, making it ideal for bracelets.  It comes in one long coiled piece which you can cut to size, and I opted for four coils for my bracelet.

 

 

 

 

 

Once cut to size, you need to close up one end of your wire to stop the beads falling off.  To do this you need to carefully bend the end over to form a loop.   Before I completely bent the end, I added in a little bee charm, then closed the loop completely, securing the bee inside the loop.

 

 

 

Now you’re ready for the fun part!  It really is just a case of threading your beads through the wire and letting them fall to the end.  You can opt for a strict pattern, or go for a more random approach as I did.  I chose a selection of mainly blue and green beads in different shapes and sizes and put them on the table (on a foam mat to stop them rolling around everywhere).

Then I just helped myself, picking up beads at random.  I did however try and make sure I didn’t have 2 of the same next to each other (although this did happen once or twice and that was fine).  Every now and then, make sure the beads are pushed down to the end so there are no gaps, and just keep going until you’ve almost filled the wire.  Once you get close to the end, you’ll need to make another loop to secure the other end.  Again, I popped in a little bee charm to make both ends identical.

By the way, a great way to get cheap beads is to buy jewellery from charity shops.  You can often pick up some lovely bracelets and necklaces and re-use the beads and clasps too.

And there you have it – one memory bracelet.  What  could be easier?!

 

 

All Washed Up!

One of my favourite projects to date has definitely been the apron that I made from a tea towel, so I thought I’d have a go at upcycling another one in the drawer too (they actually came together in a set from Morrisons)

I’ve made a few projects for the living room recently – bunting for the fireplace, Coco’s basket that sits in the corner by the rocking chair, plus my 2 latest cushions, so I thought I’d continue the theme by turning the tea towel into a simple mini throw with a crocheted edging for the sofa.

 

There were 2 parts to the edging – a blanket stitch worked in embroidery thread, followed by a row of crochet stitches to make the decorative edge.

Using a water erasable pen, I marked tiny dots every 2cms along the hem of the tea towel to show me where I would need to make my stitches.

 

The next part was choosing what colour to make the edging.  I needed embroidery thread and cotton, so I laid all the possible suspects out on the tea towel to help me make my choice.  In the end I plumped for a deep purple.

 

 

Using the embroidery thread, I worked a blanket stitch all the way around all four sides of the tea towel using the dots as a guide.  This gave me a nice loop along the edges into which I could work the crochet stitches.

 

 

Using a 4ply cotton and a 3mm hook, I worked 1 double crochet, 1 half treble, 2 trebles, 1 half treble and 1 double crochet into each loop produced by the blanket stitch.  When I got to the corner, I worked 1 double crochet, 1 half treble, 6 trebles, 1 half treble and 1 double crochet to ensure there were enough stitches to go around both sides of the corner and lie flat.

 

A gentle hand wash got rid of the dots, and then it was simply a case of sewing in the loose ends and deciding which chair to put it on!

 

Like Hilda Ogden Loves Nosing

One of the things I’m loving about my 52 and Thrifty Too! project is that I’m finally getting to finish lots of WIPs that have lain for months (and sometimes years) in my stash.  This little embroidery started life four years ago on a holiday in the rather lovely village of Honeystreet, near Malborough in Wiltshire.

 

It’s a copy of one of Harry’s poems, and reads:

Like curtains love closing
Like models love posing
Like Hilda Ogden loves nosing
So do I love you!

I hand sewed the words freehand on a piece of linen cloth I had using 2 strands of embroidery thread.  The letters were worked in back stitch with french knots for the punctuation and dots on the i’s.  At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with the embroidery, but just enjoyed making it and added to it using what I had with me on holiday.

 

Once I’d finished the words, I folded over the edges of the white linen and centred it onto a piece of Liberty fabric.  I then hand sewed a piece of ribbon on top of the join.   Next I folded over the edges of the Liberty fabric which I then placed onto the teal background and sewed all the way around it with a decorative blanket stitch.  The last thing I did was to add a button to each of the four corners.

This was as far as I got on holiday, and the embroidery has been at the bottom of a basket since then!

When I rediscovered it recently I thought about turning it into a wall hanging, but in the end plumped for another cushion to add to my collection (or should that be obsession!)  After a rummage through my Liberty stash I realised I didn’t have enough of the same fabric to create the front and back of the cushion, so opted instead for 3 different patterns which you can see above.

To save a bit of money I was going to take the cushion pad out of one of the existing cushions on the sofa, but when I removed the cover the pad definitely looked the worse for wear, so instead I spent £1.75 of my budget to buy a new one.  The size of the pad was 45cm x 45cm so when I cut the fabric for the front I cut a 48cm x 48cm square (to allow for 1.5cm seams).   I also opted for another envelope back so cut out 2 rectangles 48cm x 34cm.  This would leave enough of an overlap to get the cushion pad in, but ensure both pieces would lie flat once the pad was safely inside.

 

 

Once I’d cut the fabric for the front of the cushion, I cut the rectangular teal fabric into a square shape, folded over the edges, centred it on the cushion front and used a decorative blanket stitch to attach it in place.

 

 

Now that my cushion front was complete, it was time to prepare the back.  To do this, I needed to hem the inside edges of both back pieces.  It was then simply a case of overlapping the back pieces and placing them snug against the front (right sides together) then sewing all the way around the square.

 

Once completed, I trimmed the seams and snipped the four corners before turning the cushion cover the right side out and pushing out the corners to make them as sharp as possible.

 

 

You can see the finished front and back of the cushion cover below:

 

And here’s what it looks like with the cushion pad inside and on the sofa!

 

A Project of Note!

I’m one of those crafters who likes to keep notes on what I’m doing.  If I’m knitting or crocheting then I always like to have a notebook handy to jot down where I am in the pattern in case I get interrupted.   My preferred size for craft notebooks is A6 as these fit nicely into project bags and are easy to carry around with me.

 

As you can imagine, I go through notebooks quite quickly so I thought I’d make one for my next project to show you how easy it is!  I came across this gorgeous turquoise textured paper under my craft table – I found it in a Paperchase sale about 3 years ago and I’ve still got about 4 big sheets of it left (I’ve no idea why I bought so much!), so decided to use it to make the cover of the notebook.

 

I’ve got small supplies of good quality white and cream paper left in my stash, so decided to go for white.  I always like to add a bit of interest to my notebooks though and add in other handmade papers, so set out seeing what else I could find that would fit in with the turquoise cover.  Once I’d decided on what I was going to use, I cut it all to size using my guillotine and carefully folded each piece in half.  I then experimented with the order in which I wanted the patterned pages and plain paper pages to appear.

As well as using patterned paper, you can jazz up your plain paper too – I opted to decorate the edge of one of the pieces using a pretty tulip stamp, and another by simply cutting a thin strip of patterned paper and gluing it down flush with the edge.

 

I also decided to use one of my ceramic buttons that been in my tin for a few years now and sew it onto the front cover.

 

 

 

So, once you’ve cut all your paper to size, folded it and decided what order you’d like it to appear in your notebook, it’s time to sew it together.

Now I always buy my bookbinding tools from The Vintage Paper Company and they have a really lovely guide to making a simple book here if you’d like to have a go, but I’ll try and explain my method below with the help of some photos.

You need to make yourself a stitching template out of stiff card that’s the same length as your book, and on which you’ve marked the centre point of the book, as well as 2 cms from the top and bottom (or wherever you want your stitch to finish.

Next, you push all the papers right into the cover so that they sit flush, and hold them in place with 2 small bulldog clips (or pegs etc) – one on each side.  Now you need to place your book inside a really thick book or pile of magazines (an old telephone directory is ideal for this if you have one).  Slide the template inside the book, right in the centre, and using an awl push right through all the layers into the book or phone directory below in the 3 places marked on the template.  You want to make sure your tool goes all the way through so you have 3 good holes to thread your needle through.

Keeping the clips in place, it’s now time for the sewing.  Thread a nice long length of thread (ideally a waxed linen bookbinding thread is perfect as it’s nice and strong, but you could use embroidery thread or any other thick thread you have).

I like to start my stitch on the inside of the book, but some folk prefer to start from the outside.  Here’s how I do it:

  1. From the inside of the book, push the needle through the centre hole to the outside
  2. Insert the needle from the outside into the bottom hole and bring it through to the inside.
  3. Insert the needle from the inside into the top hole and take it through to the outside.
  4. Insert the needle from the outside back into the centre hole.
  5. Ensure that the two ends of your thread end up on either side of the central stitch on the inside of your book.
  6. Pull the ends tightly and turn the book over to check that the thread is lying flush with the book on the outside.
  7. Make a double knot and trim the ends.  I like to leave a good inch and make a feature of the knot.

If you start your stitch from the outside, then the knot will end up on the outside too, so it’s just a case of which you prefer really.

If you were making a larger book, you could work 2 smaller  pamphlet stitches on the spine rather that one larger one, but again, that’s up to you.

 

Once the stitching is finished, you can remove the clips and there you have it – one unique notebook all ready to be filled with lots more crafting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!