Before I post the winner of last week's Mollie Makes Christmas book giveaway, I thought you might like a quick behind-the-scenes look at how one of the other projects from the book went from sketch to end result. The finger puppets are a winter-y version of the animal set here, made in super-soft wool felt from one of my favourite fabric shops, the Eternal Maker.
The whole Polar Pals project (including templates) is in the Mollie Makes book, and if your name is . . .
. . . then hurrah! Drop me an email with your address details, Victoria, and a free copy will be on its way to you very soon.
Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment. Only being able to pick a single winner is always a sad thing, but by way of compensation, the very nice people at Love Crafts are offering a voucher code to anyone who'd like to snag their own copy of the book. Enter 'MollieLoves' at the checkout and you can buy it for just £7.00. Hopefully it goes without saying that if you make any of the projects, I'd love to see how they turn out, and if you're still using that Santa bag in July, well that's a picture I'd like to see, too.
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be asked if I'd like to contribute a couple of ideas to a new book. Mollie Makes Christmas is filled with the best collection of projects, including a beautiful paper Christmas tree, vintage fabric stockings and a knitted Santa kit, complete with woolly mince pie, beer and carrots. Sadly, none of those things were made by me, but this thing here was:
It may look like a Christmas shopping bag but, sneakily, it's an everyday-including-Christmas shopping bag. The inside is lined with a non-festive print, which means you can choose to hide the stitched Santa design away inside for the other eleven months of the year. Or not. If you want to tote him around the supermarket in midsummer . . . well, I'm not here to judge.
So, the reason I'm sharing this here - apart from the fact the book is published today - is because the splendid people at Collins & Brown have offered me an extra copy to give away to one of you. To win, all you need to do is head over to their website, Love Crafts, and sign up to receive the monthly newsletter. There's plenty of other stuff to check out on the site, too (you can learn to knit your own cat, for goodness sake), but before you get completely distracted, make sure to come back here and leave a comment so I know you've signed up. I'll then select a winner at random this time next week (entries close at midnight on Thursday 11th October).
Father's Day this year happens on the 17th June, exactly one month from today. My dad doesn't really hold with such celebrations, but - sshh, don't tell - he was definitely the person I had in mind when I made a set of five fatherly cards for this month's issue of PaperCraft Inspirations.
You can find the templates for three of them over at the PI blog now (full instructions and finished cards are in the issue), and there's also a fun little add-on project which I'll make sure to share here in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, and because it's not Father's Day just yet, I'm quite safe to randomly say, Dad - you're amazing and I love you heaps.
It's been a while since I've done one of these, so I thought a little revisit of a favourite project from last year was in order. As much as I enjoyed making these easy appliqué t-shirts, I loved seeing my nephew wearing the pirate version even more, especially as he's super-fussy about his clothes. When it comes to job satisfaction, there's nothing quite as good the approval of a discerning 5-year-old.
These simple appliqué t-shirts can be made for children of any age, using either a new, inexpensive tee or an older one in need of a quick makeover. The details are made from scraps of fabric and felt in colours of your choice, and the very basic stitches make it a perfect project for beginners. Older children should be able to give it a go with minimum supervision (and maybe have fun adding their own extra details) while younger ones will need a little more help, but will hopefully learn some great new skills.
The idea can also be adapted to work on other items, e.g. jeans, jackets, bags, hats, cushions, etc.. and if you have something in your own wardrobe that needs a quick update, there's no reason you can't join in with the stitching, too.
:: Print out the pirate templates (skull, bones and eyepatch) and then trace onto the paper side of fusible webbing. Roughly cut out each piece of webbing, leaving a small border outside your drawn outlines.
:: Iron the three pieces onto the reverse of your chosen fabrics. I used a different print for each one, but you might prefer to have matching skull and crossbones with just the eyepatch in a contrasting print or colour.
:: Cut out the three pieces, snipping through fabric and webbing, and this time following the drawn outlines precisely. (Don't worry if 'precise' is tricky for little hands - neatness isn't the primary objective here, and the templates are pretty forgiving).
:: Peel the paper backing off each shape and position on your t-shirt. Once you're happy with the way they look, carefully iron to fix in place.
:: Take a length of embroidery thread in a shade to match the skull fabric, and separate it so you're only stitching with 2 or 3 of the six strands (this makes it much easier for beginners to handle and also gives a smoother, flatter finish). Knot the end and start sewing simple running stitches around the outside edge of the skull. They can be as neat or as messy as you like (or can manage!). If you run out of thread, secure the end at the back of your work, and carry on stitching with a new piece.
:: Sew around the outside of the eye socket, the nose, the crossed bones and the curved part of the eye patch in the same way.
:: Using pencil (which will wash out later) or an erasable fabric marker, draw a line diagonally across the head to mark a 'strap' for the eye patch. Draw a curved line at the bottom of the skull to mark the mouth.
:: Sew along the strap line, using backstitch. (I used the full six strands of thread for this to create a slightly thicker line, but it would work just as well with 2 or 3 if you find that easier).
:: Sew along the mouth line, again using backstitch. Add some big single stitches going across the mouth line at random intervals.
:: Run the iron over your finished applique one more time, and it's then ready to wear.
STEP-BY-STEP | Flower t-shirt
:: Print out the flower templates (petals, centres and leaves) and then trace onto the paper side of fusible webbing. Roughly cut out each piece of webbing, leaving a small border outside your drawn outlines.
:: Iron the pieces onto the reverse of your chosen fabrics. I made two totally different flowers, but you might prefer to go for a matching pair.
:: Cut out all pieces, snipping through fabric and webbing, and this time following the drawn outlines precisely. (Don't worry if 'precise' is tricky for little hands - neatness isn't the primary objective here, and the templates are pretty forgiving).
:: Peel the paper backing off the petal and centre pieces and position on your t-shirt (set the leaves aside for now). Once you're happy with the way they look, carefully iron to fix in place.
:: Take a length of embroidery thread in a contrasting colour, and separate it so you're only stitching with 2 or 3 of the six strands (this makes it much easier for beginners to handle and also gives a smoother, flatter finish). Knot the end and start sewing simple running stitches across the flower petals and in towards the centre. The stitches can be as neat or as messy as you like (or can manage!). If you run out of thread, secure the end at the back of your work, and carry on stitching with a new piece.
:: When you've stitched across all of the petals, sew a button in the centre of each flower.
:: Using pencil (which will wash out later) or an erasable fabric marker, draw a a straight line beneath each flower as a stem.
:: Sew along each stem, using backstitch. (I used four strands of thread for this to create a slightly thicker line, but it would work just as well with 2 or 3, as before).
:: Peel the paper backing off the leaf pieces you cut out earlier and position them along the stem. You can add as many or as few leaves as you like. Iron into place, and then sew along the centre of each one, using running stitch again.
:: Iron your finished applique one more time, and it's ready to wear.
If you're a parent, you know how this goes, but please obviously ensure children are supervised and very careful when using sharp scissors, needles and most especially a hot iron. If in any doubt, you might prefer to do the cutting out and ironing stages yourself.
:: Appliqué is the perfect way to cover up stains or marks on clothing which no amount of washing will get rid of (marker-pen, bleach, etc..), and can also be used to disguise small holes or rips.
:: Don't forget, girls can be pirates, too! Choose pretty floral patterns or softer colours to give the template a more feminine look, and try stitching a bow to the top of the skull as a cute finishing touch. Similarly, fabric and stitching projects aren't just for girls - basic sewing skills are useful for boys too, and a fun pirate-themed project like this could be just the thing to change their mind about what is often perceived as a girls-only activity.
:: If you're not an especially confident stitcher yourself, or need to refresh your skills, you can find a step-by-step guide to the basics over at one of my favourite blogs, Wild Olive. The post on starting/strands and this one on running/backstitch will probably be the most useful, and the guide also includes alternative instructions for left-handers.
:: The templates and ideas here are really just a starting point. You can apply the same basic principles to all sorts of different pictures and shapes. Start by sketching out your idea, trying to keep details relatively simple, and then break it down into component parts. Trace each one onto fusible webbing, and apply as described above. If you're not confident about drawing your own designs, search online for suitable clip-art images or find simple, traceable pictures in your child's favourite colouring book.
In the last couple of months, both of my parents have accidentally retired. My dad had been pondering the whens and hows of it for around 18 months, when circumstances contrived to make it happen a little sooner than planned. It's possible he over-egged the telling once it was finally decided (even my birthday card this year included the phrase 'have I told you I'm retired?'), which should hopefully go a little way to explaining the inspiration behind the 'happy retirement' card I made for him.
It seems like he set a trend, because a few weeks ago, my mum also joined the retirement party earlier than expected. She's gone for the keeping-ridiculously-busy approach to it so far, rather than my dad's share-it-and-share-it-again option.
I, meanwhile, have gone for butterflies and flowers on retirement card no.2, plus a little wish for (lots of) happy days.
Despite the simplicity of this project, it actually took me an age to put together this week. Spray painting glass jars and bottles outdoors, in between the heaviest and most determined of downpours? Not the best idea. If you fancy giving it a go yourself, don't be an impatient idiot like me. Hold out for a dry day instead, and everything else should be easy-breezy.
You can find a quick step-by-step tutorial over at the Hambly blog, and in case you were wondering (you wouldn't be the first), all of the photos are in colour; it's just the glassware and the wallpaper background which are in black and white.
A couple of months ago, I put together ten cards for a feature in PaperCraft Inspirations. All of them featured sentiments based on song titles - a Truly, Madly, Deeply wedding card, an Isn't She Lovely new baby greeting, and so on. There were a few which didn't quite make the cut (Every Day I Love You Less And Less, Shoplifters Of The World Unite), but . . . you know, maybe one day.
For now, though, you can find and download the whole feature over at The Making Spot website for free. As in, it won't even cost you sixpence to get all ten songs wedged in your brain for hours on end.
So, if you were going to pick out a song to inspire a card, what would it be?
PS. Despite the feature mentioning soupy old Rose Royce, you know and I know the only worthy version of Wishing On A Star is the Paul Weller one, right? Just to be clear.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought some yellow wool felt from one of my favourite online fabric shops. You can never quite tell how colours are going to compare in real life to the shade you see on screen, but in this case it was even prettier than I'd expected and, as everyone knows, the newer and prettier something is, the sooner you have to do something with it.
So, I did.
The pattern on top is a Hambly overlay, and I love the contrast between the glossy, printed acetate and super-soft felt. If you want to make something similar, it's really simple.
:: Draw and cut out a collar-shaped template (just one will do - you can flip it over to cut out the opposite side).
:: Trace around it, twice onto felt and twice onto the overlay. Cut out all four pieces, trimming just inside your marked lines so you don't have to worry about erasing them.
:: Make small holes in the top and centre points of each piece, using a needle.
:: Place the overlay pieces on top of the felt and thread a single jump ring through all of the centre holes to join them together.
:: Add two more jump rings through the top holes - one on each half of the collar - and add a length of chain before you squeeze the rings shut.
:: Finish off by tying a length of ribbon through the centre jump ring to decorate.
And that's it - one collar-style necklace, ready to wear.
Remember how much I enjoyed taking the Sketch Challenge last month? We've been playing along again over at the Hambly Blog, this time for the March challenge. Although I found it a little bit trickier than February's version (lesson learned: scale is a Very Important Thing when you're making a card instead of a layout), I'm secretly, actually, slightly-annoyingly-smugly happy with how it turned out.
. . . and you can see how everyone else interpreted it over at the blog, along with details on how to join in and win some fancy-shmancy prizes. Plus the chance to feel secretly, actually, slightly-annoyingly-smugly happy.