Thursday, 31 December 2015

Elephants -- Patchwork plushies

Plushies is only a term I've really become familiar with since I started reading While She Naps - to me these will always be called soft toys ...

Anyway here are my favourite elephants I've found on Pinterest on this theme.

1. I love the Indian inspired colours used in this elephant - if you go to the blog post you can see some close ups of the embroidery between each fabric piece
2. Not much patchwork going on here but I just loved the colours - there is a great tutorial on the blog this picture is from
3. A flat elephant but I just love the ears and trunk
4. The bright red lining of the ear and under carriage make this elephant stand out 
5. The inspiration for this selection - Abby Glassenberg design (While She Naps)
6. Crazy colours and embellishments make this elephant stand out 
7. Not strictly patchwork, but the applique on this elephant is just beautiful 
8. More red inner ears this time using floral prints
9. Knitted patchwork elephant - looks like it would be a difficult knit but beautiful

For more elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.
All links above are to Pinterest as some of the items pictured may no longer be available at their original link.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Elephants -- Tea pots

This month I spotted these wonderful elephant tea pots on Pinterest. Aren't elephants just the perfect shape for a teapot? There was such a range of beautiful designs, here are some of the favourites that I found.

1. This reminds me of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz
2. Just add a couple of ears to any teapot and you have yourself an elephant
3. Love the shape that creates the face and the rider who makes the lid handle
4. A vintage 1930s tea pot, the pinks contrast so beautifully with the main colour
5. The colour of this one is just gorgeous and has such a cute face too
6. Such ornate metal work on this tea pot
7. Love the trunk shape on this one - so different to the others
8. The texture on this tea pot gives it a real elephanty feel
9. Another vintage tea pot, this time from the 1950s, love the kitsch design - comes with elephant sugar bowl, milk jug and cups

For more elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.
All links above are to Pinterest as a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Customise a tote bag tutorial

With the new 5p plastic bag tax in England, carrying around a tote bag or two will need to become a habit for many people. I've take my own bags to my supermarket shop for the past 5 years or so and seem to have accumulated tote bags in the same way I used to acquire plastic ones. All kinds of companies seem to be wanting to give away free canvas bags with their logo printed on them. I always take them as I know I can customise them with my own designs.

Last year I took one such free tote bag and added my own embellishment. Inspired by the colour of the daffodils I bought from Lidl and the flowering tree in my garden that just looks so jolly, especially when the sun I decided to do this by adding some crocheted sunflowers.


Here's how:

Starting with the free bag, I measured and cut a piece of felt to the size needed to cover the advertisement printed on the bag.

Free tote bag

Then I pinned and stitched the felt in place using crochet cotton.

Felt covering advertisement on tote bag

Felt covering advertisement on tote bag

Next step was to make the flowers. The pattern I used was one I found on Pinterest. The original design is by Sonia Karen.

The yarn I used for this project was a mixture of anchor crochet cotton I bought from the this shop on ebay (as I've not been able to find anywhere local that stocks crochet cotton), cross stitch thread that I had left over from a teenage cross stitching phase, and 3 strands of standard sewing thread held together. Across these different sources I found a good range of sunflower colours.

As the thread I was using was generally quite thin I used a 1mm crochet hook.

Ten sunflowers later I figured I had enough to achieve what I was aiming for. The sunflowers were a bit curly round the edges so I 'blocked' them. Being a self taught knitter and crocheter I hadn't ever tried this before. I followed a this blocking tutorial.

Blocking crochet sunflowers

The result gave slightly flatter sunflowers than I had started with, but maybe because of the thin cotton I had used (or my technique?) they still had a hint of curl. I arranged them on the felt balancing position and colours.

Pinning crochet sunflowers

So the final step was to stitch them onto the felt cover. I first stitched the centre of the flower to the felt using the tail of the crochet cotton.

Sewing on crochet sunflowers

Then I lightly stitched each petal in place.

Sewing on crochet sunflowers

And here is the finished bag. Something to brighten up my shopping trips.

Finished crochet sunflower tote bag

A version of this post first appeared on my old blog.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Second Handmade Fair

Last year I went on the Friday and arrived just after it opened. This year I went on the Sunday and arrived at about midday (due to booking on workshops taking place later in the day). However, at that time the shopping tents were heaving and with the narrow gaps between some of the stalls it was just impossible to get to see very much.

My first session in the Super Theatre was on craft photography with Lyndsey James which was just excellent and I hope to put the tips into practice soon.

Then I went to the block printing grand make.

My final workshop was the last session of the day so between the Grand Make and Workshop I got a chance to shop. It was much quieter at this time so I picked up a few purchases.

Given the name of this blog I just had to buy this Elephant block for printing.

On it's own this doesn't look like much, but fill it with sparkly beads and it looks great. Purchased from Totally Beads.

When I saw these fat quarters on the Fabric Fox stall I knew I had to buy them. My initial though was to make some small purses with beaded/embroidered detail to fit in with the silvery printed pattern.

Last year I picked up a few small packs of vintage bits and pieces and I couldn't resist buying some more this year.

I bought a little pack of Christmas shapes from Artcuts last year that I made in to tree decorations. I couldn't resist this cross stitch pendant this year,

The final workshop was needle felting. I picked this workshop as there have been a few needle felting projects in Mollie Makes over the time I've been a subscriber and I've never tried this craft so I thought I'd give it a go.

I was very pleased with the finished object and I've already given it another go with a Hobbycraft kit I bought.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Jam jar pin cushions

I recycle as much as I can, but glass jars get put to one side for other uses - mostly crafting. Back in February I covered a couple of jars with crochet to store my craft supplies.

The stockpile of empty jars was growing, as was the mess on my craft table so I set about making some glass jar pincushions.

I used this tutorial as my guide. The pincushions on the lids give easy access, whilst the jars are great for storing crafty bits and pieces such as seam rippers and tape measures.

Jam jar pin cushions

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Elephants -- Halloween

And what is a more elephanty theme than Halloween!?! To be honest I'd prepared a whole different set of elephants for this month, but when I went to schedule the post and saw the last Saturday of October was Halloween, I knew I just had to have a look on Pinterest to see whether 'Halloween Elephants' threw up any search results.

And guess what, it did...

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but if you're on Pinterest you can't help but get a glimpse of some very creative Halloween costumes and pumpkin art, which is what my selection below is made up from.

1. Take 6 pumpkins of different sizes and a knife and you can make yourself a pumpkin elephant
2. If you don't want a full on Halloween costume, try this arm puppet made using a couple of paper plates and a leg from a pair of grey tights
3. These felt masks are wonderfully detailed - there are loads of plain elephant masks on Pinterest but this is just beautiful
4. Who knew you could get yourself an elephant trick or treat caddy?
5. There are a few elephant costumes around, but this seemed the most sophisticated!
6. I'm not quite sure of the purpose of this, but hey it's an elephant with a Pumpkin head (for some reason this is giving me a bit of a flashback to watching this as a kid)
7. When you absolutely positively need to embarrass your kid in 20 years time
8. Very cute and intricate carving, but surely carving a pumpkin is supposed to produce something scary?
9. Dogs have to embrace Halloween too

For more elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.

All links above are to Pinterest as a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Bilbao inspiration

Our summer holiday was spent travelling from Biarritz to San Sebastian to Bilbao and finally Santillana del Mar and Santander. I've been wanting to go to Bilbao for ages to go to the Guggenheim and San Sebastian for the food both were inspiring.

Whenever I travel I get inspired by what I see. I have notebooks full from a round the world trip from spending hours in museums in Bilbao it was the architecture that inspired me.

The Guggenheim Bilbao reminded me of silver beading such as this piece that I started a couple of years ago.

This floral puppy sculpture by Jeff Koons at the Guggenheim Bilbao reminded me of a patchwork toy such as Abby Glassenberg's patchwork elephant. I do love the random nature of the colours and made me want to experiment further with the beaded patchwork design that you can see a glimpse of in the header for my blog.

This building is on the opposite river bank to the Guggenheim, a bit closer to the old town. The colourful windows were beautiful and the white stone a great contrast to the bright blue cloudless sky. It got me thinking about bright and colourful crochet blankets such as the one below from According to Matt.

Opposite the entrance to the funicular railway was this mish-mash of a building. Art Deco, Moorish and modern architecture all in one space. The art deco curves reminded me of the beading on 1920s flappers dresses such as the one shown below.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Knitted dresses

I like knitting (although I prefer crochet). And at this time of year, for the past few years, I've dusted off my knitting needles and started work on Christmas pressies for one or both nieces.

Last year I made this dress - Meredith knitting pattern (Ravelry link). I originally printed it off when it was a free pattern on Let's Knit Magazine website. It's now available as a paid for download from the author.

Beautiful (if I do say so myself). Very intricate lace pattern at the top and bottom of the dress makes it look very girly. But it took me several unravellings and re-starts to get that lace section.

My top tip for dealing with a complex lace pattern is to add a stitch marker between every repeat and studiously count each repeat on each row to ensure you keep the correct number of stitches.

This year I picked a much more clean, classic and straightforward design - the River Dress by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne (Ravelry link).

Photo: Nadia Crétin-Léchenne
The challenge with this pattern was the way it is written. Instructions were basic such as "After 19 raglan increases, there's 58 stitches for the front", but raglan increases with a pattern on the front isn't that easy, or at least it wasn't that easy for me.

My top tip for stitching a pattern with basic instructions is to translate it into instructions you can follow row by row. It takes time, but not as much time as restarting the project every time you identify that you've gone wrong. In the case of this pattern I wrote out row by row the number of stitches for the front, back and two sleeves. I also knitted a swatch of the wave pattern so I could practice it.

It's growing nicely.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

York inspiration

An Easter trip to York led me to discover the beautiful quilt museum and take some inspiration from the gorgeous quilts as well as from the city itself.

York Minster rising above the roof tops.

Spring cygnets.

Source: The Times

The quilt museum is set in the upstairs of an old hall which is a wonderful space. The museum had three exhibitions on when I visited:
  • All shapes and sizes which included a range of modern and vintage quilts
  • 'Chinese whispers' - the concept of this was that one quilter was given a photo as inspiration to make a quilt, when that quilt was finished they quilter took a photo of their finished item to send to the next quilter and so on
  • Voices from the Inside which was fascinating exhibition of quilts created by prisoners

There is also a great shop in the quilt museum, I bought a Japanese style Sashiko quilting kit. I've stitched the design on the sashiko cotton and it looks great.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Elephants -- Stationery

During March I've been taking part in a daily instagram challenge. Day 29 (tomorrow) is stationery. So this months celebration of elephants have stationery in mind ...

1. Elephant tape dispenser, I picked up one very similar to this from Tiger
2. Elephant scissors, love these scissors but why not make the tusks the scissor blades?
3. Wooden elephant ruler (in the full size photo you can see the tail too)
4. There are loads of elephant pencil toppers, including those you can't make yourself, but I liked the design of these ones
5. Elephant pencil case, it seems you can pick this up for 59p, bargain!
6. Elephant dung note pad. I visited Sri Lanka in 2012, which included a visit to the elephant sanctuary and a visit to the elephant dung paper factory, I bought several notepads similar to this one
7. Elephant paper clips, elevating the humble paper lip
8. Elephant pencil holder, you could combine this with elephant pencil toppers for elephant overload
9. Everyone loves washi tape, so why not elephant washi tape.

For more images elephants in art and craft visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.

All links above are to Pinterest as a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cross stitch brooch

When I saw what the free gift was for Mollie Makes 51 I was very excited. I'd see similar kits on the internet and had thought about buying.

I didn't want to follow any of the suggested patterns and wanted a colour palette that was more me. So I headed to my stash of threads and embroidery floss and picked out some colours.

I started by stitching the middle section in dark blue and then experimented with the different shapes I could make either side of it.

Below you can see a couple of examples of designs suggested by the magazine.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Embroidered bear

Mollie Makes 50 came with an adorable bear with an embroidered tummy.
I actually really enjoyed stitching this kit and improving my embroidery skills. It was a shame that on the basked the printed detail came through a bit too much - I perhaps should have used an additional floss to give it a bit more body but I was following the instructions.

My finished bear.

Details of his tummy. It's a shame you can see the cream fabric showing through in places.

This is what he should have looked like.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Back in September I bought a copy of Edward's Menagerie which has rapidly become my favourite craft book. Of the animals featured in the book, Samuel the koala now lives with my niece Charlotte, Bridget now lives with the daughter of some friends. Since then I've restocked the shelf with a few more animals ready to gift to friend's kids.

Blake the Orang-Utan.

Emma the Rabbit.

Fiona the Panda.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Seville inspiration

Spending some time in the sun during a British winter is highly recommended. Seville is a beautiful place and full of inspiration for my crafting.

Wooden carved and painted door in the Alcazar.

Inlaid tiles with intricate pattern and great use of colour.

Matador outfit from the Bullring Museum.

Roman Road at Italica, love the shapes and texture of the stone.