Felt animals

Hey there!

Several months ago I posted a crafty update where I talked about learning to crochet. The first thing I crocheted was a unicorn, which not only proved to be one of my most popular Instagram posts but also received a few requests for unicorns.

After making one, I got bored of using the same pattern and decided to try making a unicorn in a different way. After a bit of searching on Pinterest, I decided to give felt unicorns a go – I’ve previously sewed with felt in the past and really enjoy using it. I found this excellent free tutorial and pattern which I used as a starting point. However, I didn’t want to make any old unicorn. As the friend receiving the unicorn is a huge Aston Villa fan, I decided to make a Villacorn! (Obviously I’m not a football or CCFC fan!)

Here’s the final result:

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I didn’t want to leave her wife and son out, so I made them Villa-themed animals for them too. Her wife loves penguins so I made a Villaguin:

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And for their dinosaur-loving son, there was only one choice. A Villasaurus:

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And here they are together:

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As you can see I also knitted and crocheted pieces for the animals and I really like the effect of mixed media.

The recipients were also really happy with the results. I definitely plan to make more felt creations in the future πŸ™‚

 

 

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Surprise Crispy Cakes

It was my birthday recently so of course I had to bake something to take into work in lieu of a birthday cake. My original idea ended into caketastrophe so it over to plan b. And it didn’t actually involve any baking at all! I decided to make crispy cakes… but with a surprise twist πŸ˜‰

Firstly I gathered all my ingredients together for a photoshoot:

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For this recipe you’ll need milk chocolate (It doesn’t have to be super expensive – the Galaxy was on offer! It just needs to be chocolate that you like eating.) You’ll also need some kind crispy rice cereal or corn flakes if you prefer, plus sprinkles for decoration and the surprise ingredient: popping candy! You can find it in the same aisle as the cake decorating ingredients.

Back to the tutorial! I then broke up the chocolate and put it in a microwave-safe bowl.

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I melted the chocolate in 30-second bursts, stirring after each one because I didn’t want to burn it. Burnt chocolate is not nice at all! It actually only took a minute in total but depending on how hot your kitchen is or how powerful your microwave is, it could take longer. Once melted, the chocolate will look like this:

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Then it was time to add the popping candy!

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The sound the popping candy made when it hit the chocolate was magical! Once I was happy with the amount of popping candy, I poured it into the chocolate:

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I then stirred it all together until all the cereal was coated:

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I then lined a couple of cupcake tins with paper cases (this makes 24 cupcakes) and spooned the mixture into the cases:

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I then added sprinkles to decorate and popped the cakes into the fridge for a few hours. Although if it’s winter, you could just leave them in a cool place for a few hours instead.

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And here’s the finished result:

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These crispy cakes worked out really well. I wasn’t sure if the popping candy would work and although it wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, it certainly enhanced the experience of eating crispy cakes!

And if you really want to surprise people….

…don’t tell your colleagues about the popping candy before they eat them! πŸ˜‰

Fleur: squares and stripes quilt

Bonjour!

I’ve finished my second quilt! Although it’s actually the eighth one I started – I’m a bit of a serial quilt starter πŸ˜‰ This was another birthday present but this time for my friend LJ.

The first challenge was finding the right fabric as I wanted to find a fat quarter pack which reflected LJ’s taste, style and personality. Luckily Hobbycraft had just the ticket. I found this beautiful pack for Β£7:

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I bought two packs and decided to use the print on the far left for the binding as it incorporated all the other prints.

It took me a while to decide on a design because I wanted something different to RE’s quilt but at the same time it needed to be simple so it wouldn’t take an eternity to make and I would be less likely to cock it up. πŸ˜€ I eventually settled on a version of this “Crossing Paths” quilt by the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

I started by washing and drying my fabric, followed by cutting all my fat quarters into 2.5-inch strips – including the ones for the binding. I then decided the order I would like the strips to be in and sewed them together like so:

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Following Jenny’s tutorial I then sewed the top and bottom strip together to form a tube:

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Then I cut each tube into 2.5-inch strips:

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I then had to unpick one seam in all 80 2.5-inch tubes, unpicking a different seam each time to get the desired effect:

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Pretty, non? It was then a case of sewing them all together. I ended up with 16 blocks in total – four rows of four blocks. However, I didn’t want to make a square quilt so I cut some 2.5-inch strips from a white polycotton sheet I’d bought to make a different quilt to add in between each row:

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I think the white really helped to make the printed fabric pop, plus it didn’t matter if my squares didn’t quite line up from row to row πŸ˜‰ Here’s the finished quilt top – apologies for the late-night blurry photo:

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It was then time to get quilting. I decided to just do stitch-in-the-ditch quilting between each of the white rows because I was short on time, energy and was using a brushed cotton sheet as wadding so it doesn’t needed to be quilted as much as traditional wadding.

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I used some of the leftover polycotton sheet from RE’s quilt as the backing. I think the colours worked really well together:

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Before binding the quilt, I made a quick label in the same way I made the one on RE’s quilt:

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I then made the binding using the fat quarter print I’d put aside at the beginning, again in the same way as I did for RE’s quilt and rolled it up so I could take a photo for the blog πŸ˜‰

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I then sewed the binding onto the quilt. Here’s an action shot:

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I decided to machine bind my quilt to save time, so I sewed it onto the back and then pulled it around to the front. If you were finishing the binding by hand you’d do it the other way round.

And here’s the final result:

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LJ was really chuffed with it and so was I!

Here are a few of the details:

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Now it’s just a matter of finishing the other six quilts…

…or should I start a new one instead? πŸ˜‰

 

 

Crafty Update

Hello!

It’s been a very busy few months for me but I’ve still managed to fit some craft projects in. I’ve also been trying my hand at a new craft: crochet. For years, I just couldn’t get my head around how to crochet but I was inspired by watching my very talented colleagues crocheting beautiful blankets over lunch, then I saw a cute unicorn crochet kit in Simply Crochet magazine and decided to bite the bullet. After a few false starts, here’s the final result:

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She’s called Delilah and now has pride of place on my desk!

I then set my sights on a trying a simple baby blanket in a treble crochet stitch. I didn’t use a pattern – just did a chain of about 90 stitches and went from there. Although it’s a bit on the wonky side, I’m pretty chuffed with the results:

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I’ve even started another one…it makes me think of pigs in blankets but it will (hopefully) be too big to do this soon:

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I’ve not just been crocheting though! I have also indulged in some hand embroidery. Another colleague is getting married, so I found the perfect excuse to indulge in my favourite craft. After having a nose around on Pinterest for some inspiration, I worked out my design and got sewing…here’s the final result:

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I loved the initials carved into a tree concept (thanks Pinterest!) so I decided to make this basis for my design:

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As it’s a spring wedding it just had to be blossom! Plus I can use all sorts of blossom-related puns like “love in bloom” and “blooming lovely” πŸ˜‰ The French knots took ages but it was so worth itΒ  – I love the effect:

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I finished it off with some love birds on the swing:

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I’m pretty pleased with my recent projects, although I really wish I had more time and energy to craft. The pesky full-time job does make it difficult! πŸ˜‰

Until next time x

Allons-y: my first ever quilt

Hello there!

I’ve officially become a quilter! I finally finished my first ever quilt although I broke most of the quilting rules so the Quilting Police might want to look away now…

I’ve been dreaming about making quilts for several years – in fact I’ve started several but never actually got further than a completed quilt top before now. Long story short, I decided to make my friend RE a quilt for her birthday as I’d promised to make her one at some point and couldn’t think of anything else to get her because was so close to Christmas – she’s one of these annoying people with a birthday in January πŸ˜‰ I started looking for fabric and found this lovely fat quarter pack from Hobbycraft:

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As soon as I saw this fabric I knew it would be perfect for my friend: a bit whimsical, a bit geeky and a lot of fun. In a bid to keep things simple, I decided that the quilt top would simply be 5-inch squares and bought two bundles which would be enough to make the quilt top and binding. I decided to prewash all the fabric for the quilt so it wouldn’t shrink after I’d made it. If you’re going to do this, I recommend trimming the edges with pinking shears first to stop them fraying.

Keeping the stripe print back to use as binding. I cut the remaining fat quarters into 5-inch squares. If you get your cuts right, you should be able to get 12 5-inch squares out of one fat quarter with a few leftover pieces to add to your stash. If you mess up and only get 11 squares out of your first fat quarter, ending up with 119 instead of 120 because you are an idiot, you can simply reduce the size of your quilt to compensate for this. Nobody will ever know…unless you write about it on your public blog! πŸ˜‰

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Once I’d cut out all my squares, I laid them out on my quilt wall (aka my sofabed) until I was happy with the design. I wanted a random design but my need for things to be just so meant that I didn’t want any squares of the same design to touch each other. This is the result complete with Christmassy pyjamas and socks…in Janaury:

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I then set about sewing my squares together in rows. I used a ΒΌish seam (the distance from my needle to the edge of the foot was more-or-less ΒΌ inch).

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When sewing the rows together, I kept alternating the direction, i.e. sew down one row then turn it round and sew up the next. All the quilting pros say you need to do this to stop the quilt bowing and mine didn’t bow so it must have worked! It was then time to make the quilt sandwich. For the backing I used half of a flat polycotton sheet from Dunelm Mill. Instead of using traditional wadding I decided to use a brushed cotton sheet – it was a lot cheaper and doesn’t need to be quilted as much. I bought a huge king size one which is enough for a few quilts of this size. Here’s my rather wonky quilt sandwich:

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I used safety pins to hold the sandwich together while I quilted it, I probably should have used more but I was getting bored and wanted to get on with the quilt.

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I opted for “stitch in the ditch” quilting which is where you quilt along the seam lines. I just quilted along the horizontal seams because my vertical ones didn’t always match up and unlike wadding, I didn’t need to quilt the sheet as much – just enough to keep everything together.

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I started in the middle and worked my way out to keep my quilting as even as possible. It was starting to look a lot more like a quilt now. I then trimmed the excess backing and wadding to the same size as the quilt top.

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The only things left to make were the binding and the label. I used some of the border from the flat brushed cotton sheet to make the label:

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I then folded it in half, right sides together and sewed the sides up.

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I then trimmed the seam allowance, turned it right-side out and pressed it.

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I left the bottom edge raw because I attached it under the binding. Speaking of binding, this was the final step in the process. I started by cutting the remaining fat quarters into 2.5-inch strips. I think I ended up with 18 in total.

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I then sewed the strips together in a long line – I just used straight seams because I didn’t want to mess up the stripes but you should really use bias seams to spread out the bulk then ironed the binding in half.

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I then forgot to take photos until after I’d finished the binding! It took me a couple of attempts to get the binding right and it was still quite wonky in places! If you’ve never made binding before I would definitely recommend thisΒ binding tutorial and this machine binding tutorial.

Here’s some of the finished binding:

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With the binding finished, my quilt was done! Here’s the final result – complete with fabulous Christmas bear socks πŸ˜‰

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Here are a few close-ups:

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Despite its wonkiness, I’m really pleased with the final result and my friend loved it too. I also can’t wait to move onto my next quilting project! Stay tuned πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

More Embroidered Travel Wallets

A few weeks before heading to New York on holiday, I decided that it would be an excellent idea to embroider travel wallets for myself and my friend RE, who came to NYC with me, resulting in some frantic sewing on my part πŸ˜‰ I wasn’t 100% happy with the wallets I bought from Amazon so I decided to shop around. I found these wallets on Ebay for just under Β£10 each. According the label they are genuine leather and they were definitely much easier to sew (using sharp needle helped too!) The seam down the centre did cause some issues when thinking of designs because it split the front into two sections. I decided to keep the stitches simpler this time, using only backstitches and running stitches but I think the results are still very effective. Unfortunately the wallets were a bit fiddly to open and close but still useful for keeping all our important documents and loose change together! πŸ™‚

For RE’s wallet, I decided to do something involving outer space because she’s a big fan of programmes like Doctor Who and is always up for an adventure. Obviously this is an artistic impression of Earth and a rocket πŸ˜‰

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Choosing what to stitch for myself was really hard! In the end I decided the most fitting thing would be a snail, which I’ve been doodling on cards etc. for over a decade and it’s sort of become my trademark.

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The travel wallets definitely enjoyed their trip to the Big Apple and I expect they’ll be going on many more adventures in the future!

Embroidered Travel Wallets

I love embroidery because it gives me the freedom to be as creative as I want…plus it’s an excuse to watch loads of rubbish telly while I sew πŸ˜‰

When my good friends KG and LJ said they were going on holiday to Venice, I wanted to make them something for it especially since it was LJ’s first ever holiday outside of the UK. I decided to make them each a personalised travel wallet which would tick both the pretty and practical boxes. I found these black fake leather wallets for Β£6 each on Amazon:

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Not bad for the price! I also love that they are lockable too. I decided to use green for KG’s wallet as that’s her favourite colour and coral/orange/yellow for LJ because they’re all colours she likes to wear.

It took me a while to decide on a design – it had to be simple and not take too long to stitch because I only had about 2 weeks before their holiday! Eventually I decided an aeroplane would work best so I looked online for a picture of a vintage-style plane to use which took ages because I’m so fussy πŸ˜‰ When I finally found a plane I liked, I resized it in Word, printed it off, cut it out and traced it onto the wallets:

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Stitching was easier said than done because there was a layer of cardboard in between the fabric. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have a sharp enough needle. Typically I found all the sharp needles after I finished! I started off by backstitching the outline:

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I wanted the wallets to be versions of a theme to add some more individuality to them, so I started by having the planes face in different directions, I also stitched different patterns inside the planes. I did a cross stitch pattern for KG and a chevron-style pattern for LJ:

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I wanted to add a third layer of colour to the design, so I looped a lighter shade of green across KG’s wallet and added a smaller yellow chevron onto LJ’s one:

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To finish the design, I used a running stitch to create pale blue vapour trails:

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Before I show you the final designs, I thought you might want to see what the back of the stitching looked like. The layer of cardboard meant that the majority of the stitching was between that and the top layer of fabric. This meant that I didn’t need to cover the inside to hide the stitching because there were only a few knots:

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Here are the final designs:

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Despite the blurry photos, I’m really chuffed with the results. Both KG and LJ were thrilled when I gave them the wallets – hopefully they found them really useful too! I now wish I had my own personalised one rather than the one I bought a few years ago, so I suppose that’ll be my next project πŸ˜‰