Saturday, 30 April 2016

Elephants :: Fabric

This month's selection of elephants was inspired by the safari print fabric I picked up on my trip to Hong Kong at the start of March plus my current obsession with sewing. Most animal and elephant print fabrics you see around are designed for children so I looked at a selection of more grown up designs.

Embellished Elephant :: Fabric print elephant selection

1 :: This fabric is called 'serengeti' and isn't really a children's design but still has some of the sense of fun of some of those designs.
2 :: The single colour way on this design makes it stand out from some of the others. Combined with the geometric shapes gives it a different edge.
3 :: The black and gold of this upholstery fabric gives it a sophisticated edge. I'm not sure you'd want a sofa or curtains in this design but it would make an interesting feature on some cushions.
4 :: This is another upholstery fabric that I can see in a grand sitting room on a chaise-longs.
5 :: I can imagine making a summer dress out of this fabric, the palm trees give it an exotic feel.
6 :: This is probably the most nursery like design that I've picked for this selection but I think the monochrome silhouettes make it a little more grown up.
7 :: The rows all have a different motif in this design which give a great safari feel without being too overpowering.
8 :: It's a bit difficult to see on this image but the elephants all have text on them with gives this design a more grown up edge.
9 :: The combination of elephant shapes and zebra prints make this fabric stand out.

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, 26 March 2016

Elephants :: Lights

I've been looking for a lamp for my hallway table, and got slightly distracted when I spotted an elephant table lamp. This is what prompted this month's collection of elephants.

1. This elephant reminds me of my cat sitting waiting patiently for his dinner!
2. The print on this lampshade is very grown up compared to some of the printed shades I saw.
3. The trunk of this elephant supports the shade and pops out the top. I particularly love the way the ear is designed on this one.
4. This lamp would be perfect for a gender neutral nursery.
5. These stacking porcelain style elephants would work well in a colonial inspired sitting room.
6. Another bedside table lamp, this time with more a more rounded friendly design.
7. This design is actually painted onto the base to give a lovely finish.
8. I love this lamp and bet it shines beautiful patterns over the wall.
9. This is a cute plug in night light that would look great in any nursery.

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.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Out and about :: Hong Kong Temples

There are temples everywhere in Hong Kong. You can be just walking down a street and there is a little one by the side of the road.

What I love about these Chinese Buddhist temples is the colour, that and the fact they really don't seem to mind you taking photos unlike some of the places of worship I've visited on my European travels.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures that I took in Hong Kong temples as inspiration for my crafting.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Out and about :: Hong Kong Sham Shai Po

I've been working on a project at my day job that involved travelling to a conference last week in Hong Kong. After the conference I tacked on a few days holiday.

Hong Kong was never one of those places on my 'must visit' list but I really enjoyed it. Because of it's colonial past it is a very easy place to travel around as English is widely spoken.

While I was there I couldn't pass up a trip to the Garment District - Sham Shai Po. It's really easy to get to - about half a dozen stops on the MTR red line from central.

Take exit A2 then walk a couple of blocks until you get to Ki Lung Street. When I went on a Friday morning there was a small market between the MTR exit and Ki Lung Street.

Ki Lung Street is the street with fabric shops and fabric stalls.

I only walked down a couple of blocks that was enough to fill my bag. Mostly from this shop ...

Also along Ki Lung Street there are shops selling leather.

There was a lot of cheap polyester around but I haven't yet graduated to sewing with slippery fabrics so I left them alone.

The other surrounding streets have ribbons, buttons, beads etc.

This wonderful blog covers everything you need to know about the garment district, how to find it and what is on offer.

At the time I visited the exchange rate was about £1 = HK$10.5
This is my haul - going clockwise from top left:
  • Black chinese style floral fabric good quality cotton HK$50 per yard 
  • Black floral cotton lawn HK$40 per yard
  • Safari print canvas (since when have kangaroos been safari animals?) HK$25 off cut
  • Chinese style fabric in blue and red/black HK$35 per yard
  • Blue / purple repeating horizontal panels HK$5 (YES 50p!) per yard 
  • Blue floral fabric draped cotton/polyester mix HK$40 per yard

I walked back to the MTR station a slightly different way and unintentionally came across bead shops. I didn't want to add to my stash but I couldn't help it ... most of this was just HK$10 or less per pack.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Out and about :: Tate Modern

I don't know where the first two months of the year have gone. Back in mid January I paid a visit to the Tate Modern. It had been a while since my last visit mainly because it is just too popular for its own good. The paid for exhibitions are just sooooo expensive and once you've forked out a small fortune you then have to queue to get past those people who've splashed out even more cash for an audio guide as they stand RIGHT IN THE WAY of the little boards that tell you the title of the work, artist etc. And then there are the people who come and stand in front of you...

I work for a large company. The kind of large company that does its bit to support the arts (although maybe not for much longer with the current share price). This means that every so often we are offered the chance to apply for a pass to visit a private view at the Tate Modern. I haven't done this before but when the opportunity popped up to see the current Alexander Calder exhibition I was there signing up within 6 minutes of being notified. 

Source ::
The private view was a much more civilised experience with the galleries much less crowded. Although there were still people with poor gallery etiquette and someone let some children in, I very much enjoyed the private view experience.

So how about the art? I've been a long time admirer of Calder's work - ever since my big trip around the world 15 years ago. His work has a wonderful calmness about it. But I've never seen more than one or two of his pieces together. This exhibition was an exploration of his life's work and you could really see the evolution from his early works through to his most famous mobile sculptures.

The early wire sculpture pieces were just stunning. The wire face sculptures casting a mangled shadow behind them were complex but simple at the same time. The circus figures where you could trace the line of the wire and see how it had been created from one length. My favourite piece was the elephant (of course!). Photographs just don't do justice to the 3 dimensional nature of the work.

Source ::
We also went to The World Goes Pop exhibition (now closed).

Source ::
For me it was rather underwhelming. The aim was to explore the fact that the Pop Art movement wasn't just confined to Britain and the US. And that was the problem, there just weren't any of those blockbuster Pop Art pieces to tempt you through the rooms. But maybe putting these pieces next to those would have just showcased how brilliant they were. There were a couple of interesting pieces, including the one on the banner. I'm just glad I didn't pay to see this one.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Embellished :: Oscars 2016

I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by this years collection of Ocsar frocks, in terms of their embellishments but here are the ones worthy of a mention ...

1. Cate Blanchett :: I wasn't sure about the overall dress but the floral embellishments were interesting
2. Brie Larson :: it's all about the beaded belt on this dress
3. Kevin Hart :: when a bloke with an embellished tux makes my montage ...
4. Jennifer Garner :: she always has great dresses, the hint of beadwork is beautiful on this dress
5. Alicia Vikander :: she has the Oscar, she has Michael Fassbender so it really annoys me that she also picked a lovely embellished dress too. PS her Mum's dress is beautiful too.
6. Saoirse Ronan :: emerald green sequin, by the way did anyone else thing this was a more sparkly version of Kiera's dress in Atonment?
7. Maria Menounos :: beaded shell patterns on this dress
8. Julianne Moore :: a little beaded detail goes a long way
9. Naomi Watts :: the embellished detail on this dress is mermaid like

All pictures are sourced from The Daily Mail (I know - but they always have the best red carpet coverage).

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Elephants :: Planters

I love having house plants around and do my best not to kill them! Most of them are in plain white ceramic pots, but I may sneak one of these elephant planters into my collection after spotting these on Pinterest.

1. The colour of this planter is just beautiful, it would look great with a plant with pink flowers.
2. This is such simple form giving the merest hint of elephant.
3. This one looks a bit like a plastic toy, not my colour but it does draw the eye.
4. I love the trunk forming the third leg of this pot and the cute smile on its face.
5. This terracotta planter nestles nicely into its surrounding and looks great against green foliage.
6. These colours just pop and the orange in particular contrasts so well with the succulent.
7. A similar design but a subtler colour than the previous picture, the sheen of the blue gives it a mystical appearance.
8. The patterns on this planter highlight the key features of its form.
9. An unusual head only wall planter deadline, the pink plant contracts beautifully with the shade of the planter.

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, 30 January 2016

Elephants :: Cross Stitch

When I received the December Lucky Dip Club box I was thrilled that it included a cute cross stitch kit by Tea and Crafting. I haven't cross stitches for years, but was an avid cross stitcher in my youth, spending my pocket money on cross stitch magazines and supplies. Subsequently I graduated to other crafts but cross stitch is such a fun and easy craft to do. To celebrate my return to cross stitching here are some elephant cross stitch patterns I found on Pinterest this month.

Cross stitch elephants college :: Embellished Elephant

1. The simple geometric outline is very effective in this pattern.
2. This colourful floral elephant is beautiful and very intricate.
3. Another geometric design but this one makes use of a range of colours to create a real impact.
4. The repeating design is very unusual and would work well on a cushion cover.
5. Large cross stitches make up this simple design.
6. Another intricate design creating a beautiful elephanty effect.
7. This pattern filled elephant could be created using a range of colourways to suite any room.
8. I love the water spray patter that fills the interior of this elephant and calf.
9. A cute elephant family pattern that would be perfect for a nursery wall.

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.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Review :: Make Arcade Felt Cactus

Back in November I headed to Brick Lane to Renegade Craft Fair. While I think it is a brilliant event, I found it stiflingly hot and very busy. I potentially may have possibly perhaps drunk a little bit too much the night before which may not have contributed to my general feeling of well being and may have impacted my enjoyment of my trip. All I'll say is don't drink and shop.

Anyway, the purpose of that little story, apart from the cautionary tale, is that while I was there I picked up a felt cactus kit from the Make Arcade. I bought it for myself as a treat but when my other half was struggling to figure out what to get me for Christmas he bought off me so he could wrap it and give it to me as a Christmas present. Yep I'm a very understanding girlfriend, no I don't ever get bought flowers.

So despite purchasing it a couple of months ago. I only actually had it in my possession since the big day and only started making the cactus after all the familial duties that come with Christmas had been completed.

The Make Arcade Felt Cactus Kit Review :: Embellished Elephant
Photo: The Make Arcade

So enough about me. What do I think about the kit?

The kit comes in a plain card box with a colourful slip cover. The packaging and instructions were professionally printed on good quality paper. The instructions included all the templates for the project and these were colour coded so it was obvious which shapes you'd need to cut out of each colour of felt. However, the instructions were folded in order to fit into the box and that meant it was difficult to get the templates to lie flat.

The steps were easy to follow but I interpreted the instruction to "stuff well" a bit too literally and ran out of stuffing after 4 of the 6 parts. I had to unstuff and then restuff with a more moderate amount in each. The instructions were a bit brief when it came to stitching on the flower i.e. it didn't give you any tips about how best to go about this - but I figured it out based on the picture on the cover.

Overall I really enjoyed making it. I've worked with felt before but haven't made anything in 3D which was partly why I picked this kit of all of the ones they have available. The kit was well put together and I think the price was good for quality of the kit and the end make. Because the templates are printed on good quality paper it also felt like it was something you could replicate again just by buying a little more felt.

I'd recommend buying this kit if you are new to working with felt, new to stitching in 3D or just love cacti!

Here's my finished make. Finally one plant I can't kill by forgetting to water it.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Free pattern :: Crochet teardrop earrings

One of the first craft blogs I discovered was Un Jardin de Hilo. Sadly Olivia no longer blogs there, but it's pages are still a wonderful source of crochet inspiration and some tutorials and free patterns are available too. Inspired by this Olivia's creations, I've designed my own pattern for some crochet teardop earrings.

Materials ::
Thin thread, I used two strands of embroidery thread. (Thread of a different thickness will alter the finished size of the earrings)
2 x Earring hooks, I used silver plate
6 x Wire headpins, I used silver plate
8 x Beads, I used some silver plate rectangular tubes from my stash

Tools ::
Small gauge crochet hook appropriate for your thread, I used 1.5mm
Wire cutters
Small round nose pliers 

Notes/abbreviations :: 
ch :: chain
sc :: single crochet (UK dc :: double crochet)
dc :: double crochet (UK tr :: treble crochet)
hdc :: half double crochet (UK htr :: half treble crochet)
tr :: treble crochet (UK dtr :: double treble crochet)
sl :: slip stitch

Crochet Teardrop Pattern (US crochet terms) ::
Please note the pictures shown here are using a thicker yarn to allow you to see the stitches more easily.

Round 1 :: Make 6sc into a magic circle, sl st into first sc. Pull the loose end tight to close the hole at the centre of the piece.

Crochet :: Magic loop :: Embellished ElephantCrochet :: Teardrop earrings round 1 :: Embellished Elephant

Round 2 :: ch 1, 2sc in each sc around, sl into first sc (12 st)

Crochet :: Teardrop earrings round 2 :: Embellished Elephant

Round 3 :: ch 1, 2sc in each sc around, sl into first sc (24 st)

Crochet :: Teardrop Earrings round 3 :: Embellished Elephant

Round 4 :: ch 1, sc in each of the next 4 sts, hdc in each of next 3 sts, dc in each of the next 3 sts, 2tr in each of the next 3 sts, dc in each of the next 3 sts, hdc in each of next 3 sts, sc in each of the next 4, sl st in first sc. Fasten.

Crochet :: Teardrop earrings round 4 :: Embellished Elephant

How to put together the earrings ::
1 :: Crochet two teardrop shapes.
2 :: Sew in all the loose ends and trim any excess thread.
3 :: Using the round nose pliers, open the loop on each earring wire sideways.

Teardrop earring :: opening an earring wire :: Embellished Elephant

4 :: Thread the crochet teardrop onto the earring wire, making sure that the side facing forward matches (there will a a slight but subtle difference between each side of the crochet teardrop).
5 :: Carefully close the loop on the earring wires and check that the crochet hangs the same way on both earrings, adjusting if necessary.
6 :: Thread the beads on to the headpin wires, as shown in the picture, leaving about 0.5-1cm to create the loop, cut off any excess wire with the wire cutters.

Adding beads to wire headpin :: Embellished Elephant

7 :: Using the round nose pliers create a loop on each headpin.

Creating a wire loop :: Embellished ElephantBeads on headlines with wire loops :: Embellished Elehant

8 :: Open each loop sideways and pass through the crochet teardrop.
9 :: Carefully close each loop and check that the beads hang the same way on both earrings, adjusting if necessary.

Crochet teardrop earring :: Embellished Elephant

A much simplified version of this post previously appeared on my old blog

Creative Commons Licence
What this symbol means is that you are free to use and share this pattern as long as you attribute me as the original creator.  Don't use this pattern or items you make from this pattern for commercial gain (unless you contact me first).

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Review :: Paper gems free kit

I'm a bit behind in my free kit crafting and reviews but with a nice long break between Christmas and New Year, rain outside and Mollie Makes issue 62 popping through the door I thought I'd get stuck into that free kit first designed by Mini Eco.

I have to admit that I'm not really a paper crafter but it is always fun to try something new.

The kit itself is fairly basic, just comprising of a wooden template and some pieces of paper (approx a  quarter sheet of A4 each). There are few things that you need to locate from your craft stash to complete the project, which is usual for Mollie Makes kits and they are things that most people will have available - pencil, ruler, glue, scissors, needle (or compass). The instructions didn't list that you might need a mat or something else to lean on to prevent scratching your table top when scoring (and that isn't obvious from the pictures either).

Drawing round the template and cutting out are fairly straightforward. The scoring of the lines was less so as it was difficult at first to know how hard to score to allow for a crisp fold. On my first couple of gems I scored a bit too hard and had to do some patching on the reverse side with tape. Folding was a little tricky especially at the top, and I found the accuracy of the scoring greatly affected how easy it was to fold the top part crisply.

Gluing was the most difficult bit. That might be partly down to my glue (supermarket pritt stick) but also just getting the last panel glued was tricky as you had two tabs that needed sticking in place at the same time. In the end I perfected a kind of glue and pinch method to make sure each panel stuck well. The needle can also be used to help manipulate the last tabs in place. You can't really spot the slightly dodgy sticking in this picture!

Mollie Makes paper gems free kit review :: Embellished Elephant

The picture on the instructions page showed a garland made from the paper gems but there was no hint about how best to construct this. I made mine into a garland by selecting some thin hemp cord that I had in my stash, threading this onto a sharp needle and carefully piercing through opposite sides about 5mm from the top point of the gem.

Mollie Makes paper gems free kit review :: Embellished Elephant

Overall I enjoyed making this free kit and the template makes it easy to replicate this project again using paper from your own stash (Tiger has a great selection if you don't have a stash!)

Monday, 11 January 2016

Embellished :: Golden Globes 2016 dresses

It's awards season again! And that means gawping at all the fabulous frocks on the red carpet. Many of the dresses at this years Golden Globes went for details such as cut outs or pleats. There were a couple of fully sequinned stunners worn by Julianne Moore and Olivia Wilde but the ones I've selected below are those with embellished details rather than full on sparkle. 

1. Jennifer Lawrence :: this plain red dress just comes alive with the addition of a bit of bling in the form of this necklace by Chopard.
2. Jenna Dewan-Tatum :: the bodice of this Zuhair Murad Couture dress is quite densely embellished moving to a swirly arrangement on the full skirt. The dark blue dress and mix of dark blue and silver embellishment really bring the swirls to life. 
3. Leslie Mann :: embellishment around the waist and going onto the skirt such as this one by Monique Lhuillier was a bit of a theme I saw on this years dresses. This one had a flora and fauna design.
4. Calista Flockhart :: I think this was my favourite dress of the night. The colour is gorgeous and the embellishment on the bodice is just beautiful, designed by Andrew Gn.
5. Kate Bosworth :: I'm not sure I actually like this Dolce&Gabbana creation but you can't deny it's embellished. Elle described it "Malibu sequin mermaid barbie".
6. Amy Adams :: the colour of this Atelier Versace dress is a real head turner but for me this dress is finished off perfectly with beautiful beading around the waist and down the left hand side.
7. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley :: this Atelier Versace gown was another one where the detail of the embellishment was in the skirt. 
8. Natalie Dormer :: I saw this on more than one 'worst dressed' list but the black embellished panel creates a quite unusual neckline on this J. Mendel dress
9. Portia Doubleday :: another dress I saw on the 'worst dressed' lists. I'm not sure if it is actually beaded, it looks it, and reminds me of bead weaving. The dress is by Naeem Khan.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New technique :: Embroidered paper

I saw this really interesting idea on Etsy's blog ages ago about embroidering postcards. As I've mentioned before on this blog I'm a sucker for Tiger stores and have a range of their patterned paper in my craft cupboard.

I picked a floral design that I felt would take to an embroidered overlay and picked out some crochet cotton in some complimentary shades and got stitching.

I used french knots for the centre and straight stitches working from the outside in to give a brick stitch effect.

And here's my finished piece of embroidered paper. I think it looks lovely and the embroidery really stands out from the print and lifts the design at the same time.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Out and about :: Copenhagen

At the start of December I booked myself a weekend away in Copenhagen, for no other reason than I had some time free after finishing work for Christmas on 18th December before having to do things for Christmas.

I'd been once before but that was over a decade ago and since then there has been the Scandi TV revolution. So when I spotted a Killing/Bridge walking tour I booked myself on it (4pm every Saturday). I would have loved to go to the Borgen tour as well but my flight didn't land in time.
I spent a lot of my trip walking because the weather was nice a mild and dry (if you ignore the drizzle on the Saturday early evening which was the only time it rained). In total I walked 25 miles according to the pedometer on my phone!
Here are a few photo highlights from my trip starting with the obligatory picture of Nyhavn...
On Monday more walking, this time along the canal to see the little Mermaid, and then back to the centre via the Rosenborg Palace. The skies were a lovely deep blue early on which made the copper roof of this church really stand out.

No pictures from the tour due to the persistent drizzle making it difficult to see through my glasses let alone take any pictures, but it took us to the west of the central station to the meatpacking district which now houses bars and restaurants. Although I didn't visit any of those places that evening for my dinner I did go to an amazing Vietnamese restaurant close by the train station (and therefore my hotel).

I wandered through the various Christmas markets that were set up but the stalls were all much of a muchness and very commercial, very few handcrafted wares, which was a shame.

I also treated myself to a canal boat tour which was a thankful chance to sit down. I love this pic I took in the Christianshavn area as we passed through on the boat - the different shades of neutral colours are just delightful.

In the evening I headed off to Tivoli gardens. Whilst I'm not an fairground/amusement park kind of person, I did want to see it all lit up in Christmas lights (and I read there was a Christmas market there too) and it did look beautiful all lit up. It also gave me a chance to practice my night time photography.

If there was a Christmas market inside, I didn't find it. But there were plenty of Christmassy decorations about, including a huge tree decorated in gold and bronze decorations which looked lovely with the warm yellowy glow of the fairy lights on it.

I had lunch at one of the (touristy) restaurants off Nyhavn because I was knackered and needed a sit down, but saying that I really enjoyed my herring platter.

So that's a brief tour through my trip to Copenhagen. I did also visit the 3 storey Tiger store on the main shopping street luckily (or unluckily depending on your viewpoint) I didn't have that much space in my bag as I travelled with hand luggage only but I did pick up a couple of Christmas decorations I hadn't spotted in Tigers near me.