Thursday, 30 October 2014

Messy Making

This week I've been busy behind the scenes - working on some secret projects with a looming deadline.

Since I can't show you what I'm working on, I thought I'd share some snaps of the creative chaos happening in my studio right now...carefully cropped to hide the projects themselves, of course!

Top of this morning's To Do list = tidying up a bit so I've got space to do some more making :)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Book Review: Fresh Prints

Oh my goodness, I am such a bad blogger, you guys. I've got a whole stack of lovely craft books in my "to review" pile and I've not reviewed any of them! Tsk tsk. I am determined to be a better blogger and share all this crafty goodness with you all, so you'll be seeing a few reviews popping up over the coming weeks. I hope you'll find some new books that take your fancy :)

First up: Fresh Prints by Christine Leech. 

Fresh Prints is another beautiful book in Quadrille's "Simple Makes" series which (among other titles) also includes two other books by Christine which I reviewed last year: Felt Sew Good and Scissors, Paper, Craft.

This time round (as you have probably guessed from the title) the focus is on printing projects. Quadrille's books are always gorgeous, and Christine is such a talented, creative lady that I am quite, quite jealous of all her ace ideas... and let me tell you, this book does not disappoint. All the projects in this book are fresh and fun and creative and have been beautifully presented.

Fresh Prints is all about block printing - using different objects as printing blocks. The 25 projects are divided into chapters by technique: "printing with found objects" and "lazy lino prints", with a small final chapter of "other printing techniques".

The book begins with informative, helpful sections on the tools and equipment you'll need, how to mix colours, getting the right ink consistency, printing tips and a step by step guide to making and using a "lazy lino" block (a printing block made with foam sheets which are apparently cheaper and easier to work with than real lino blocks).

Then it's on to the projects, each with clear step by step instructions and photos. As with the previous books in this series I had great difficulty picking out just a few projects to snap and share with you guys!

I especially loved this gorgeous feather cushion...


... and this fun ricrac-printed scarf.

Tools used for printing include leaves, feathers, bottle caps, a potato masher, buttons, sweet potatoes, lace doilies, a rolling pin, a knitted sweater and cookie cutters... which are used with household bleach in one project to create these wonderful patterned towels: 

The book includes printing on things like greetings cards, notebooks, teatowels and cushions and t-shirts, plus more unusual surfaces like lampshades, shoes, and even an umbrella! So much fun.


There are templates provided for all the projects in the "lazy lino" section, and it's great to see that most of the templates are included at full size.

This is a really lovely book. If you're looking for complex projects or a comprehensive guide to different printing techniques then a book in a series called "Simple Makes" is, as you might imagine, probably not going to be the book for you! But if you've never tried printing before or you want some ideas for fun and accessible printing projects this would make a great addition to your bookshelf.

You could also put together a fab "introduction to printing" kit as a special gift for a friend or loved one this Christmas by combining this book with some of the ink and tools recommended by Christine.

Fresh Prints is published by Quadrille. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

Please note: Quadrille sent me a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book depository links in this post are affiliate links.

Monday, 27 October 2014

More New Embroidery Stitches

My "learn some fun new embroidery stitches" project continues...

I spent a wonderfully relaxing evening last week working my way through some more of the stitches from The Needlecraft Stitch Directory. I'd really recommend this book if you're interested in learning some new stitches, I've found the step by step diagrams and instructions very clear and easy to follow.

I was quite excited to try some stitches that involved two different shades of thread:

Some of these were definitely more successful than others... but look how fancy they are! 

There are still lots more embroidery stitches in the book for me to try, but I think I'm going to have to set aside an afternoon or two to work on them as they're starting to get a bit too complicated for my slightly-sleepy-at-the-end-of-the-workday brain to cope with :)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

How To: Felt Candy Corn Plush

After making some felt candy corn ornaments I couldn't resist scaling up the pattern and making some GIANT CANDY CORN :)

I stitched a big mama candy corn and a baby candy corn. A giant candy corn or a whole family of them would make great decorations for Halloween, propped up on a bookcase or tucked among the cushions on your sofa.

They're dead easy to sew - and I've even re-sized the templates for you so you can just print them out and start sewing. Hurrah!


To make the plush candy corn, you'll need to refer to the candy corn ornament tutorial.

Follow steps 1 & 2, cutting out the pieces and sewing them to some backing felt.

At step 3, instead of adding seed beads for the eyes you'll need to add black felt eyes. Sew these in place with black sewing thread and whip stitch. Sew the smile with black embroidery thread (floss). I used three strands of six-stranded thread.

Follow steps 4 & 5 to cut out the candy corn shape and cut a backing shape. If you want you could make the back match the front (minus the face!) but using plain felt saves you lots of time.

Skip step 6 as you don't need to add a ribbon.

Then follow steps 7 & 8 to sew up the candy corn and stuff it. I used blanket stitch for sewing the larger versions of the candy corn as it gives a neat finish, but you could stick with whip stitch if you prefer.

And that's it! One giant plush candy corn, ready to spread some cuteness this Halloween.

Click here for template sheet 1 and here for template sheet 2. Make sure you're viewing them at full size, then print them at 100%.

This tutorial is for personal use only: you can use it to make as many felt candy corn as you want for yourself or as gifts, but please don't make any for sale. You may borrow a couple of photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to this page on my blog, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial / share my templates on your site. Thanks!

P.S. You'll find lots more free felt tutorials in my crafty tutorial archive!


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