Friday, 29 August 2014

Celebrating Michael Jackson in Cross Stitch

I am a life-long Michael Jackson fan, but I don't actually have much of MJ memorabilia on display around the house. However, I recently decided to make something to celebrate his life, and have on permanent display in my craft room.

Since I cannot paint, I decided to cross stitch - this was only my first major cross stitch project, and one tip I can give you if you are a beginner too - cross stitching is quite a slow craft, so choose a subject that you really love to make, as you will be spending a LOT of time cross stitching it before it is actually completed.

Therefore Michael Jackson was a perfect subject for me to learn to cross stitch. I found this pattern free on a website (sorry can't remember where) and armed with a 14 count white Aida, several skeins of black embroidery floss, I was off. I decided to double the "squares" (where each cross stitch covers 4 squares on the Aida) and stitch with all strands of the embroidery floss to make the picture large so it fits a 10"x8" frame.

Celebrating Michael Jackson in Cross Stitch
Celebrating Michael Jackson in Cross Stitch
I am very happy with the result, and my cross stitched Michael Jackson picture now proudly sits on a top shelf in my craft room, looking down on me. Today, on what would have been Michael Jackson's birthday, I'd like to believe that he is looking down peacefully on his fans and smiling with one of his beautifully brilliant smiles. Happy Birthday, MJ!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Scruffy Little Cat Absolutely Adorable Birthday Card

Today I'd like to share my latest birthday card made for one of my daughters.

This one is made using a Scruffy Little Cat "Amy" stamp from Crafters Companion, which I got via Create and Craft TV when it was originally launched, and it is coloured in with Spectrum Noir pens ("Absolutely Adorable" sentiment was on the same stamp). This is only my second attempt at making a card with a Scruffy Little Cat stamp.
Crafters Companion Spectrum Noir Scruffy Little Cat Birthday Card
Absolutely Adorable Amy Scruffy Little Cat
It is mounted on an embossed Centura Pearl card (both also available from Crafters Companion) and a Spellbinders die cut frame. The finishing touches included Parchment butterfly (embossed with Stamps by Chloe glitter), embossed Parchment quilled flower (again, from Crafters Companion) and a simple organza ribbon bow.
Crafters Companion Spectrum Noir Scruffy Little Cat Birthday Card
Coloured with Spectrum Noir Pens Birthday Card
The Spectrum Noir Pens used:
Hair: TN2, TN1
Skin: FS2, FS4, FS6
Dress: TB1, TB2
Cupcake, Bag & Bottle PP1, PP2, and IB1

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fimo Clay modeling fun

Today we've been having fun with the kids learning how to do clay modeling.
Fimo Soft Clay
Mummy, Daddy and Baby Bear

After starting with normal play dough, we moved onto cheap modeling clay from a pound shop.
The results were ok, we've made some Despicable me Minions, frogs and general random stuff, but I like to save kids' crafts (a mother can't just chuck it away, can she?), so we've moved onto polymer clay so it can't be baked in the oven.

I got a few Fimo soft clay kits from a local The Range shop at a bargain price, and off we went. It says it's a "soft clay" but it is still quite hard, if you compare it to some air drying clay, which seems like butter. On a plus side, it makes less mess than play dough so I love it already...

Anyway, we did some flowers, butterflies, love hearts - the usual, and some creations were better than others. We still have a few Fimo soft clay kits left - princesses and fairies, but I feel we need more practice on cheap play dough before we give it a go.

However, one kit I really fell in love with - the family of bears. Out of one kit we managed to make mummy bear, daddy bear and a baby, and still quite a lot of pink and white clay left. They are so cute that I just HAD to share them - and they're even more cuter for the fact that they were made by my 10 year old daughter - she's got a natural gift, I think. I especially love the daddy bear.
Fimo Soft Clay
Cute first attempt at Clay modeling

I don't think I can match her skills, but I am keen to learn to make more things with Fimo clay - I'm hoping to make some flowers and other simple stuff to go onto cards.  

Friday, 8 August 2014

Loom Bands Craze Summer 2014

Summer 2014 is officially loom bands crazy, and if you can't beat them - join them. I have resisted the craze as long as I could, but in the end, since we're having yet another stay-at-home vacation, I've invested in a several looms and literally thousands of loom bands. But the truth is you only need a couple of forks, and it probably is much easier than using the looms.

The kids are spending hours on YouTube searching for best tutorials, not just bracelets, but 3D mini toys and bag charms  - so far we like OlgaCrafts best, as sometimes talk-free tutorials are the easiest to follow.

At the end of the day, the technique for making loom band bracelets are very similar to loom knitting, so once you've mastered the "hooking over" then you can knit anything. I am partial to flower designs, so I have joined the kids in doing a few starburst bracelets. Making loom band bracelets is surprisingly fun, and highly addictive! Each one took me just over an hour so that's about a day's work here:

Starburst Loom Bracelet

Hmm, which colour should I wear today?
I predict this loom band summer craze will last awhile, and I bet there will be lots of Christmas Decorations made this year out of loom bands.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Christmas Wreath from Book Pages

Christmas Wreath from Book Pages

I sew those tutorials on how to make wreaths from paper, and specifically, from old book pages, and I just had to make one - it's perfect Christmas decoration, both for modern and traditional houses. 

It's very simple - take a paper plate, and cut squares out of the pages, roll them into tubes, glue on - I ended up with 3 rows, to add fullness. Add a bit of string (I used white yarn) and hang it. It would have been easier if I had a glue gun, but I only had PVC glue to hand so it took a while. I finished it off with a crochet flower. I think it looked rather nice - in fact we ended up keeping it up on the wall long after Christmas was gone...
Christmas Wreath from Book Pages
Simple but effective handmade Christmas decoration


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sewing Patchwork Baby Blanket

Sewing Patchwork Baby Blanket

I decided to learn some patchwork. As usual, I don't start with easy projects - I seem to make my life difficult and go for the more difficult or advanced patterns, not for a beginner. Oh, well. I really fancy learning to sew a start-type patchwork, for my little star. I drew up a patter on a paper, did some measurements and off I went - the result was a patchwork star, albeit not a perfect one. In my eyes, it was perfect. The size of the block was about 16", and I padded it up with some cabin log style patchwork around it. I used up about 4 fat quarters (with lots of leftovers). I cheated a bit in terms of quilting it, as I used some old blanket to put this cotton patchwork block on top of it, and just quilted around the edges.
Sewing Patchwork Baby Blanket
 He was more than happy, throughout the winter, in his pushchair, covered with his star patchwork blanket.
Sewing Patchwork Baby Blanket

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases

Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases

What is the best sewing project to start learning sewing on - pillowcases of course! But I did not want to do just any "old" pillowcases - I decided to make personalised patchwork pillowcase for each of my daughters. I got a meter of fabric from a local fabric store (I think this butterfly design is by Clark & Clark). The fabric was already in "patchwork" style, but I cut it up, and it was just enough to make these four pillows, and I used plain pink fabric for the backing. I did not follow any particular pattern - just fitted the pieces to fill layout to make a patchwork square to fit the pillow size. Each pillowcase was embroidered with their name and a chosen picture (a perfect excuse to try out my birthday present - Laura Ashley Brother Innov-is 2200 sewing / embroidery machine). I think I'd have trouble picking my favourite pillowcase now -they all turned out to be unique, just like their owner :)
Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases
Same fabric, different results
Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases
Pretty Ballerina

Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases
Pussy Cat & Butterflies

Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases
All you need is LOVE

Sewing Patchwork Pillowcases
You can never have too many butterflies. Or Love Hearts.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Sewing Little Girl Dresses - With Sleeves

Sewing Little Girl Dresses

After having learned to sew some soft toys, and a simple pillow dress, I've decided to learn to sew dresses. Since I did not want to waste expensive fabric, we went to a thrift shop and got some double bed covers - there's plenty of fabric to learn to sew from that and the fabric pattern look interesting to be made into a dress. The dress pattern was from Simplicity range, and the dresses are made from largest size 6 and size 4, to fit my two middle daughters. Don't they look cute in their matching dresses?
Sewing Little Girl Dresses
Pretty in Pink

The pattern was easy enough to follow although I had to refer to YouTube for instructions on sleeves easing - that bit took me the longest. I finished the dresses off with some decorative stitching and ric rac ribbons, in pink of course. I'm not sure I would let them out in a real world in these dresses but they're more than perfect for garden play. Next time, I may be brave enough to try "proper" fabric....in fact I think I may have to learn to do a prom dress pretty soon.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sewing Prom Dress from Free Dress Sewing Tutorial

Sewing Prom Dress from Free Dress Sewing Tutorial

I still consider myself a sewing beginner. I can count the number of dresses I have made so far on only one hand. But, my oldest DD was not discouraged by my lack of experience - she asked me to sew her a prom dress. OK so it's not a "real prom", only graduating from the primary school, but at this age, any excuse to dress up is good enough.
Sewing Prom Dress from Free Dress Sewing Tutorial

I was really struggling to find any suitable easy dress patterns online, and time was quickly running out, so we started to panic. Shop-bought dress was not an option. Fortunately, as if by heaven's intervention, this tutorial from SewMammaSew landed in my Facebook page news feed - perfect! This was exactly what I had in mind. Although it is not exactly a prom dress tutorial, more like a baby doll twirl top, it is easily adaptable and can be made into a dress.

I followed the sizing for 9-10yrs old but adapted it as follows - bodice was 16" instead of 8", and skirt length was 36" and 30" wide (as that's all I had in the fabric). I did not have Clover gathering tape, so used normal gathering stitch on the sewing machine. I have also added a 3" wide belt, made from the same fabric. I don't know what type of fabric it was, as it was a bargain find in a thrift shop, but it measured 60" by 59" and it was just enough to make this dress.
Sewing Prom Dress from Free Dress Sewing Tutorial

Before I attempted the "real thing", I made a trial run with some spare cotton fabric first - so in the end she ended up with 2 dresses - one casual and one special occasion. They each took about a day to make.
Sewing Prom Dress from Free Dress Sewing Tutorial

I think she's pretty happy with them both, but looked particularly stunning on her actual prom day.


So if you're new to sewing, try this pattern - I am really happy with the result, and the baby doll twirl top pattern is perfect to adapt and adjust to your own measurements (and even make it into a prom dress :) ) and the instructions are easy to follow. And I especially love that there is no sewing zips or buttons - I am yet to attempt any patterns that involve zips.

Little Princess Birthday Card

Last year we started a "family tradition" of making handmade birthday cards for each other. With five children's birthdays throughout the year, we certainly have plenty of opportunities for making them! Today is my little princess's 3rd birthday, but I've been busy knitting her a teddy bear, and I have run out of time to make one (I cheated and made it on Serif's CraftsArtist so she still had one made by me, but that's not "totally" handmade, is it?)

So I have let my 9 yr old daughter lose with my crafting stash, and asked her to make a birthday card for her little sister all by herself, from scratch, completely unsupervised. This is her result:

OK, I may have helped a little bit - the stamp is from Crafter's Companion Angelica range, the flower is from Spellbinders, but the rest is all her doing. I am especially proud of her colouring with Spectrum Noir pens - it just shows you anybody can learn with the right tools!

Spectrum Noir pens used:
Hair: GB2, GB8
Skin: TN1, TN2
Dress: TB1, TB2, TB3