Friday, 18 August 2017

8 Easy Paper Crafting Projects

Sometimes you want to spend days, weeks or even months making something detailed and complicated and (eventually) impressive... and other times you just want a quick, crafty fix!

I talk a lot about the joy of felt crafting being quick and easy, but I'm also a big fan of a bit of simple paper crafting. Patterned craft papers make it especially easy to quickly make something fabulous.

Inspired by a fab new range of paper pads stocked by The Village Haberdashery I've put together a blog post with instructions and templates for eight easy paper crafting projects.

I used a marbled pad for my projects, but there are lots of different coordinating patterns to choose from!

You can make greetings cards...

... create envelopes and notecards (DIY envelopes are so much fun to make and send)...

 ... wrap gifts...

... use scraps for colourful gift tags...

... whip up some party decor with classic paper chains...

... or mix and match bunting and garlands...

... make some helpful labels for party treats...

... or use the diagrams included in the blog post to make little gift boxes!

Click here to see all eight paper crafting ideas.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Lovely Lichfield: Exploring Lichfield Cathedral

During my years of travels in the UK and Nice Days Out one of my greatest surprises has been just how much I enjoy exploring churches and cathedrals. I'm not at all religious, spent very little time in churches growing up, and honestly thought I'd find it a bit weird to visit them when sightseeing but - oh! - what interesting buildings they can be!

History and meaning and craftsmanship and beauty and incredible architecture and oh so many details to discover... all crammed into buildings which (more often than not) are free to visit and an oasis of calm in a busy town or city.


A few weeks ago I blogged about my trip to Lichfield, including Erasmus Darwin House and the Cathedral Close. Lichfield's Cathedral was the main reason I'd decided to visit the city and it did not disappoint.


It's an impressive Gothic building with three spires and a vast array of carved figures of kings, queens, and saints - and there's no shortage of interesting things to see inside, as well.


I spent a long time looking round and ended up chatting to several very friendly volunteers who filled me in on some of the building's history and pointed out fascinating things I'd missed.

Naturally (because I'm the world's slowest travel blogger and am only just now blogging about a holiday I took two years ago) I've forgotten pretty much everything they told me but the memory of the beauty of this place and the warm welcome from the volunteers is still a very strong and happy one.

For more info about visiting Lichfield Cathedral click here.

You can read about the rest of my trip to Lichfield (including the charming Cathedral Close) here. I visited Lichfield as a day trip during a week's stay in nearby Birmingham, which I loved. Follow the links to read about Birmingham's excellent architecture, museums, and Jewellery Quarter.

Monday, 14 August 2017

A Year of Wreaths: July Felt Pinwheels Wreath Tutorial

A Year of Wreaths continues!

For July's wreath I made colourful pinwheels, inspired by days spent building sandcastles at the seaside...

These felt pinwheels are so fun and easy to make, I kind of want to make dozens of them from felt and/or paper and stick them everywhere. As well as decorating a summer wreath, they'd make great party decor or gift toppers for summer birthdays.

Click here for the free step by step tutorial on The Village Haberdashery's blog.

Follow the links in the tutorial to find all the individual supplies you'll need in The Village Haberdashery shop - I particularly love those colourful paper straws!

Click here to find all the wreath tutorials in the series.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Colourful World of WALALA X PLAY

Last month I took a trip to Greenwich with a friend to visit a very fun installation: Camille Walala's WALALA X PLAY at NOW Gallery.

WALALA X PLAY is a small maze of mirrors and colourful, patterned spaces - a bright and slightly bonkers space to get lost in and help you rediscover the joy of play.

You might well have seen pictures of this installation popping up in your social media feeds - it's proving so popular that you now need a (free) ticket to visit, and you get just 15 minutes in the space. 

We were lucky to visit a few days after it had opened, and (after a rather overexcited school group had left) had the installation all to ourselves...


The combination of all the different patterns, angled walls, and mirrors creates an almost dream-like effect as you wander through the space... it's such fun! It reminded me a lot of Yayoi Kusama's mirror rooms: a simple idea but a joyful, almost magical thing to experience.


Of course, with all those mirrors and Instagram-friendly patterns this place is selfie heaven! I don't usually take a lot of selfies but I couldn't resist snapping a whole bunch of silly mirror pics... 

Whether you're interested in the installation as art or just as a zeitgeisty Instagram playground WALALA X PLAY is well worth a visit. It runs until 24th September and is free to visit, but make sure to book a ticket well in advance (especially if you're visiting at the weekend). Oh, and remember to wear nice socks because it's a shoe-free zone!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Me and My Book in Prima Makes Magazine (Yay!)

The latest issue of Prima Makes magazine is jam-packed with excellent crafty stuff...

... including (can you spot it on the contents page?)...

... the pear needlebook tutorial from my book, Super-Cute Felt!

It might sound weird given that all the projects from my book have (obviously) already been published in the book itself but it is always deeply thrilling seeing my projects "in print" in magazines like this. 

It's especially awesome because (in my slightly biased opinion) the team at CICO Books did such a great job on the photo styling for Super-Cute Felt, all the pics from it look soooo good (okay, yeah, so I'm extremely biased, but shhhh) they make me extra proud to see my designs in print.

The lovely people at Prima Makes have also included the snazzy new edition of Super-Cute Felt in this issue's craft book round-up...

... and there's a little interview with me, too!

The July 2017 issue of Prima Makes (issue 18) is out now - click here to buy a copy online. The new edition of Super-Cute Felt is available from Amazon or via your favourite local bookshop! You can read more about the book here.

P.S. Click here for the free tutorial for making that cat pincushion, and click here for the free Never Stop Learning embroidery pattern, both featured in my Prima Makes interview.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Lovely Lichfield: The Cathedral Close & Erasmus Darwin House

Whenever I go on holiday to a big city I try to include an out-of-the-city day trip in my plans. For example, the first time I visited Birmingham I also took a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon (so delightful! so much history!) then on my return visit to the city I hopped on a train to nearby Lichfield.

I started my visit by following the local heritage trail, popping into the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum and Lichfield's Museum at St Mary's in the Market Square (regular readers will know how much I love A) a heritage trail and B) little local museums). As well as the museum there's also a little cafe at St Mary's, where I stopped for a cuppa and something sugary (yum).

Now, when I came to blogging about my Lichfield trip I had totally planned on devoting a post to this early part of my day - showing you the church, the market square, the local park, etc - but it was such a grey and miserable morning that all my photos turned out terribly. Dull and depressing and definitely not representative of the actually quite lovely stuff to see in Lichfield. Nobody wants to see that snooze of a blog post.

So, I'm skipping that bit and moving on to the part of the day when the sun came out and cheered up all my pictures (hurrah!).

The weather started to improve just as I reached the cathedral close. Lichfield Cathedral itself is magnificent (and deserves its own blog post another time) but the Close is ridiculously charming.

It was lovely going for a quiet walk around the Close, thinking about all the people who've lived in these houses over the centuries and reminiscing a little about the years I spent living in another cathedral close in another city (many moons ago). 

Just off the Close is Erasmus Darwin House, which was my final stop for the day. Erasmus Darwin was Charles Darwin's grandfather and a doctor, inventor, botanist and poet. If you look closely, you can see him peering out the the window of the house...

Erasmus Darwin was a fascinating and incredibly accomplished man about whom I have to admit I knew very little. The museum really brought him, his ideas, and his inventions to life - I very much enjoyed my visit!

Not a bad view to have from your house, huh?


The museum also has a lovely Herb Garden, which is divided into Mrs Darwin's culinary herb garden and Dr Darwin's medicinal herb garden. All the plants are labelled so you can expand your botanical knowledge... 


... or you can just sit and enjoy the view like I did!

I'll be blogging about Lichfield Cathedral sometime soon (if you're a regular reader you'll know that "soon" is a bit of a flexible term when it comes to my travel blogging, but I promise I'll get there eventually!). In the meantime, you can catch up on my posts about Birmingham's architecture, museums, and Jewellery Quarter, or read about my earlier trip to Stratford-upon-Avon.

For more city break inspo, check out my posts about visiting Manchester and Leeds.