Hello, ahoy-hoy and welcome.
If you're visiting from shimelle.com, it's lovely to see you. Stick around, I have things to share. If we're old pals, well it's lovely to see you, too. Once you've finished reading here, you might want to skip on over to Shimelle's blog and read my guest post on five ways to make your own alphabet letters. These are mostly for paper projects - cards, scrapbook layouts and such - but my apparent inability to keep away from needles means there's also a bit of stitching involved.
The stripy 'hello' is actually a couched length of yarn, worked over a hand-lettered word. You can find a simple, traceable template here if you want to make something similar, or - of course - try a different word of your own. If you're not confident with your cursive, look around for a suitable handwriting-style font to use as your template.
Couching is really straightforward. It uses small, straight stitches to hold yarn, thread or cord in place on the surface of your project. Have a look at this quick stitch-guide, or a YouTube tutorial like this one, if you haven't tried it before. Although you'll need to be careful not to tear thinner sheets of paper, it's totally possible to work it on cards and scrapbook pages as well as fabric projects. If you give it a go, I'd love to see how it turns out.
Don't forget to click over and check out all five lettering ideas at shimelle.com, including an alternate version of this project. If you've already been there, you are, of course, very welcome to stay here and have a look around instead. There are lots more paper projects, tutorials, DIY ideas and you can also help yourself to some free downloads and printables.
Palette Pingpong this week is inspired by two of my favourite people. First of all - and as almost-always - Gabrielle, who challenged me with the prettiest of pictures. Sadly, I'm not sure my palette quite does justice to the gentle, dainty nature of the original image (you can find it over at Gabrielle's blog):
Comparing and contrasting, I think it's the tiny amounts of colour, plus the warm neutrals in the challenge picture which look so lovely. Bigger patches of those same colours somehow don't have the same impact. Bearing that in mind, I made a print-at-home poster, inspired by a conversation with my sister last week.
Mwah-ha-ha. And so on.
Spill me some beans in the comments below. I am both nosy and secretly less frosty than you might think.
Carving your own stamps from household erasers is much easier than you might think. It’s a slightly more sophisticated take on the classic classroom art of potato-stamping. But unlike potatoes (which are a lot trickier to cut smoothly in half than most children’s craft books will admit) erasers offer a completely flat surface which is perfect for creating stamped impressions. You can use them to carve all sorts of designs, from simple solid shapes to more detailed pictures, words and line-drawings. The fact that erasers – without wanting to cast even more aspersions on les spuds - won’t shrivel up and start to rot after a day or two means your stamps will last much longer, too.
Tools of the trade
:: Large, flat plain erasers
:: A fine marker pen or sharp pencil
:: A craft knife
:: Inkpads or acrylic paint
:: A surface to stamp on (e.g. paper, card or fabric)
Step by step
1. Decide on a simple design and draw it on the surface of your eraser with a pencil or fine marker pen. (If you’re not confident drawing freehand or just want some extra inspiration, try printing out clip-art shapes or images from a picture font.)
5. hen you’ve finished, your design should be raised above the remaining part of the eraser. Don’t worry if the cut-away pieces around the edges look messy – as long as your design has a good, smooth outline, it will stamp perfectly.
Shaped erasers are a quick and super-easy alternative to carving your own. There are all sorts of cute designs available, and you can stamp with them just as you would with a hand-carved version.
Once you get a little more confident at carving your own designs, you might want to try adding more detail. To do this, you’ll ideally need to invest in a lino-cutting tool. I found mine at a local art shop for just a few pounds, but a quick Google search gives you plenty of online options, too.
Using the finest tip on the tool, it’s quite simple to trace over the outline of a drawing to create something like this:
NB. Don’t forget words will appear as a mirror image when you stamp. To avoid a carving disaster, write them onto plain paper first, flip it over and then trace onto the surface of your eraser.
You can also use the lino-cutter to carve away the inner parts of a design (i.e. areas you wouldn’t be able to trim with a craft knife), again creating a slightly more complicated image.
Obviously, craft knives are very sharp, and the same is true of lino-cutting tools. If you’re not happy for your children to use them, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an activity like this – you’ll just need to work on it together. They can draw out the shapes and designs, you can take care of the tricky cutting and carving part, and they can take over again when it comes to creating inky impressions with the finished stamps.
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.
YOU WILL NEED:
Scraps of fabric and/or felt
Fusible webbing (e.g. BondaWeb, Heat'n'Bond, WonderUnder)
Iron and ironing board
Erasable fabric pen (optional)
Buttons (for flower appliqué only)
STEP-BY-STEP | Pirate t-shirt
:: 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.
:: 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.
I'm hoping to have a couple of Easter-themed projects to share later this week, but in the meantime, if you'd like to add some easy seasonal decor to your home, I have two words for you.
The more properly titled rabbit garlands are in the shop now, and if you order this week, you'll get two sheets of bonus bunnies to go along with the kit. You can also use the rabbits to make Easter cards (as below), or add them to scrapbooking layouts, like this one by my talented and very lovely friend, Julie.
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.
It feels like I've been banging on about spring for weeks, but today it's officially here. Hurrah! My inner geek wishes you a happy vernal equinox, while my outer and rather more shallow lover-of-pretty-stuff would like to point you towards a project I put together for the Hambly blog last week.
Like this one.
The step-by-step instructions for both the flowers and the garland are over on the Hambly blog right now.
In the comments underneath the project, Leigh (you didn't leave a link or email address, so I can't get back to you directly I'm sorry, Leigh!) left a message asking where to buy Hambly supplies in the UK. As it's a problem I have too, I thought I'd share a couple of sources, along with a general plea to UK shops to start stocking more - the new lines are so gorgeous, it would be . . . well, maybe not criminal, but most definitely tragical not to.
:: Sarah's Cards - one of my favourite UK papercraft shops has a small selection of Hambly overlays, including the Frames Wallpaper, similar to the paper used in this project. (I think a sheet of the yellow overlay may well fall into my cart the next time I go shopping...)
:: The Craftz Boutique - this is probably the biggest selection you'll find in an online, UK-based store. They have over ten pages of papers, overlays and rub-ons, from both older and more recent lines. I'm really hoping they'll pick up some of the new releases - they seem the most likely bet at the moment.
:: The Eternal Maker - I mostly use this shop for their amazing selection of fabrics, and always seem to forget they do a few paper-y things, too. One of those things is Hambly, and although it's only a handful of items, it's a good handful.
:: Craft Island - I think one of the newer paper shops around, but I've used them a couple of times, and they seem great. Again, they don't have a huge Hambly selection, but there are some really good pieces (hello, moustaches), including washi tape.
:: Hambly shop - you can buy directly from Hambly, and have your order shipped internationally. Buying products from US websites often works out to be just as cost-effective as shopping within the UK. It obviously depends on the exchange rate at any given point, but even taking the additional shipping costs into account, it's an option worth considering. Bear in mind you may have to pay customs/import charges if you're ordering over £15-worth of product (find out more here), but that is pounds, and not dollars, which gives you a little more leeway. Scrapbook.com, Emma's Paperie and Two Peas also have good amounts of Hambly which they're prepared to ship internationally.
I really hope that helps, whether you're Leigh or anyone else shopping for Hambly in the UK. You'll only need the smallest amounts to make a happy spring garland of your own, and I've got a couple more projects later in the week which should help any leftover supplies go even further.
In order to make things up to you, I have a very happy little printable today, but first, le palette. Gabs challenged me with a beautiful shot, which in turn led to this:
And because it's nice to celebrate good things like longer days, warmer weather, blossoming trees and longer days (did I mention the longer days already? Oh daylight, how you cheer my soul...), I have a pretty set of notecards for you.
There are four different patterned cards and four printable sentiments, so you can mix and match them, however you prefer. Choose from 'thanks a million', 'dear friend', 'ahoy-hoy' (my favourite way of saying hello) and 'happy mother's day'. It's next Sunday here in the UK but, being the fabulous and grateful child you are, you already knew that, right?
You can download each of the cards separately - pink plaid, retro flowers, grey chevron and coral scallops - plus the labels here. Snip out your chosen sentiment, fold the ends back on themselves and then use a tiny amount of adhesive (a glue stick will do) to fix to the front of your folded card. Really easy and - I hope - the perfect way to spread a little spring cheer.
PS. If you want even more cheer and/or good stuff, head over to Gabrielle's shop, the green gables, and help yourself to 75% off her super-pretty kitchenware. Spring cleaning, ho!
I could launch into the post with all kinds of smart-arsery and obscure references to Doctor Who, but I'm not going to. Instead, let's just settle on 'my job is awesome'. Because seriously, how many people get to make things like this and call it work?
It's a Compost Dalek.
Lift off the top half, drop your kitchen scraps inside and when it's full, transport to the compost bin outside. It's mostly made from household items and leftovers, including plastic cartons, cardboard, cocktail sticks and toothpaste lids, which makes it even more eco-friendly, and probably on a budgetary par with the original BBC-built Daleks.
The full project is featured in the current issue of Aquila magazine, as well as on my personal list of Things I Have Made Which Might Be Useful In The Quest For World Domination (Always Assuming People Are Prepared To Overlook The Fact It's Less Than A Foot Tall).