Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Up-cycled paper basket

I found this really funky paper basket tutorial on the Design Sponge blog last week and I couldn't wait to try it out. Using scrap brown packaging paper you sew long strips of paper that are then woven into a neat little basket to store your bits and bobs.

Unfortunately I don't get packages that require excessive amounts of brown packaging paper, but I do have hoarding tendencies so I managed to dig out an old roll of lining wall paper that we kept - still there form the previous owner of our house. And it was sutiably yellowing in places!

Here are my efforts - now housing my crochet project!

If you keep things sometimes, not entirely sure why, when or what you'll use it for,  then this is a great way to use some of those supplies up. I'm still holding out for something to use all my old tissue paper for, there is only so many presents you can wrap in scrunched up old tissue paper without people thinking your a little bit stingey!

Monday, 27 February 2012

(Hand knitted) Sock it to me

From farmers ‘cushioning the insides of their hide boots with felt’ in 700 BC to hand knitted fragments, recognizable as a sock found in Syria in 200 AD, there are many references to the humble sock throughout history. 

Some argue that knitting made its way to Europe from the Middle East. Early knitted cotton fragments were found in Spain from 1275, which at that time was held by the Arabs, and had ‘Allah’ knitted into them. At that time it was the Islamic world that had wide spread literacy, not the Europeans. Also cotton was much easier to come by in the Middle East. The Europeans are more likely to have used wool or linen. Also we knit right to left, just like how Arabic is written, further adding to the argument. Knitty has a more in-depth article about this.

Regardless of its exact origins knitting has been a wide spread craft for centuries and has hugely developed and advanced in terms of materials, colours and techniques, especially when it come to knitting socks. 

I love these patterns - sort of Scandinavian style
This is a yarn stash from Carole Knits - and I though I was bad!
Such a gorgeous pattern! from Sock Yarn Shop

Little did I know how obsessed people can become with knitting socks until I joined a local knitting group and just about everyone was knitting or had knitted a pair of socks at some point. The clincher was when one of my new knitting buddies said she only ever wore knitted socks that I realised this was something that I had to try. 

So a trip to my local knitting treasure trove Fibre Flurry to pick up some supplies and I was ready to go! 

Despite my pattern being titled 'simple sock pattern', at the time it really felt like anything but simple! I've had to figure out how to knit in the round, and with 5 needles!,  dropped stitches, managed to end up with a few holes and unfortunately my tension isn't quite consistent - I think it all just adds to the charm, at least that what I'm telling myself. But with a lot of help from my sock expert knitting friends, a little perseverance (once I've started something I really have to finish it no matter what) and determination I have finally finished my first sock!! 

Even with all its imperfections (the stripes didn't really end up as stripy as I'd hoped) I'm still pleased with it. When I tried it on my foot really did feel warmer instantly, so I can't wait to get the other one finished too!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress

If you have ever heard of Oliver + S children's patterns then you'll know how totally gorgeous they are! Beautifully designed by Lisel Gibson who originally trained in New York, these stylish patterns have become popular all over the world from Australia to Norway and of course, the UK. 
Despite not having an sprogies of my own I just could't resist getting one when I went to the Knitting and Stitching show last year! I choose the super cute birthday party dress pattern.

I've been admiring the beautiful packaging for a few months and last week I decided to stitch it up. 

 I chose this light weight cotton flower print which I think worked really well...

 ...and little wooden buttons for the tab and back fastenings. 

 The pattern was so easy to use, everything all lining up perfectly so its got a neat slick finish to it. I've made up size 6-12 months but age range goes up to 12 on some patterns. 
Now I just need to find an ickle little person to fit into it!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Heart screen printed tote bag - step by step pictures too!

Despite being just over a week of the month of love left I thought I'd share this post from the past about this hand screen printed bag I made last year. It has a 3 colour heart design and you can see how I got there with these step by step pictures. 

First of all I cut out the stencils - 3 for each colour.  

Getting all three stencils to line up was the tricky bit so I used this special fabric pen to draw round where I wanted each set of hearts to be. 

Then I ended up with purple hearts on my design. The ink fades when exposed to sunlight so I needn't worry about marker being all over my fabric! This picture shows the last stage of stencil so it was crucial for this one to line up so that the hearts didn't touch each other. 

I then looked through the screen to see where the hearts were. Using the squeegee the paint was forced through the screen - only to the areas exposed by the stencil. 

This is the completed print. I takes about 24 hours to dry then needs a good hot iron to seal the paint onto the fabric. 

I had pre cut my fabric to the size and shape to make a tote bag. 

The handles were reinforced with this 'cross in a box' stitching to make it extra strong for carrying heavy shopping. 

I also used this patterned bias binging to hide my raw seam edges inside to give it a neater finish. 

Its really handy for all sort of things and folds away easily in my hand bag too. I made 6 prints in total so have extra ones spare. I'm thinking of joining the 'giveaway gang' so if you would like to win this hand screen printed bag full of goodies then leave me a comment and keep an eye on the blog for further details!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Furniture re-vamp - decoupage postage stamp cabinet

Transforming a cheap charity shop find into an amazing unique piece of furniture is hugely satisfying. I love to make something old into something new. A few years ago I learned to how re-upholster chairs and caught the bug of furniture revamp. Here are a few of my past projects - before and after....

Upholstery can be quite technical at times. The dining chair that I revamped (pictured above) was completed using traditional techniques - right down to re-using the original horse hair for a firm but comfortable base! But furniture revamp doesn't need to be difficult. A lick of paint and and a block of sand paper can give a rustic look. A few months ago I found an old chair on the street and dolled it up over a weekend...

It's been a while since I've put my painting clothes on and a few weeks ago I found this little bedside table for only £5 in a local charity shop! I had been inspired by the vintage and antique shops I had visited in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the year and couldn't wait to get started on it. 
 I loved the little rose door knob too!

It got a couple of coats of white primer first.....

 I used Annie Sloan chalk pain and then took a bit of sand paper to the corners and edges for a rustic and worn look.  

I then looked out my old stamp collection from my childhood - yeah I was a cool kid! I used to be in the royal mail stamp club and they would send you all sorts of stuff. I had a whole stash of colourful stamps from all over the world. Who knew they would be so useful?!

So I laid out the order of all the stamps....

 Then stuck them all down with decoupage glue....

And here is the finished cabinet....

I added a little gold leaf around the rim too...

 A close up of some of my favourite stamps. The decoupage glue and varnish give a lovely smooth finish that's water repellant too. 

And thats how you get from shabby to chic in the world of furniture revamp! 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines crochet hearts

As its the big day today and in keeping with the Valentines theme of this month I thought I'd share this great quick tutorial I found on how to crochet a heart from the Little Birdie Secrets Blog.

You could use these versatile hearts for loads of decorate a card, embellish a purse or bag or even make a few a stitch them onto a cushion cover.

I decided to make a little bag charm with mine and added some wooden beads to give a bit more weight.

It only takes a few minutes to hook 'em up and is a great way to use up an scrap yarn you have so get hooking!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Rag dolls and scrap mice

I think that there is something so nostalgic about handmade toys. Last year I helped clear out my parents attic, which was packed full of just about everything from my childhood. My Mum has squirrel tendencies, it seems. Me and my sister found all sorts of stuff in there....old school books, little shoes, journals, toys, toys and more toys. 

Yeap...I was one lucky kid! I had so many toys, and there they all were covered in dust and a bit faded. I had cuddly bears, little polly pockets, a giant tea cup that was a house...the list goes on. Then I found Diane, the rag doll my Mum had made for me. I flippin' loved that doll. I made little outfits for her, fed her, put her to bed...she went everywhere in her hay day! And out of all the toys that were unearthed that day she was defiantly on the keep pile.

She even had sweet little leather shoes!

The little mice cover project from this months Mollie Makes reminded me of my rag doll. 

I decided to make the mamma mouse and it was great to make something that used up all my scraps and really satisfying to have a cute little mouse at the end. Now I just need to find a little person to give her to. 

It got me thinking about handmade toys in general. So much of what we buy from food to clothes and toys now just ends up in the bin, but having something that is handmade, especially when shard between family and friends has a value you can't put a price on. 

Do you have a favourite toy from your childhood thats handmade? Or would you like to make something for your own little ones? When I open up my new crafty venue in the summer time I want to make sure that the workshops I have on offer are what my customers would love to make. Would you like to see toy making on the programme? If so I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.....

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sublime Stitching Sushi napkins

Have you seen the Sublime Stitching range by Texas based stitcher extraordinary Jenny Hart? After trying embroidery for the first time in 2000, Jenny has been revolutionasing the stitching world since with her alternative approach to embroidery patterns. All you have to do is pick the 'theme' that you want to stitch from a huge range including classics like the tattoo alphabet and craftopia to scooter babe, roller derby and vintage lamps. Or maybe something completely different like vital organs!? Whatever you fancy...there is something for everyone, with over 50 choices!

When I visited the hugely popular Make Lounge in London last year I spotted these cool crafty packs and snapped up the sushi themed one. Each pack comes as a sheet of hot iron transfers. So you just cut out the image you want and then iron it onto the fabric you want to stitch. It gives you an easy pattern to stitch round so you end up with a lovely little stitched image.

I decided to stitch my sushi onto napkins. I LOVE sushi, and after going to a sushi making lesson for my birthday a few years ago with the amazing Kumiko Haton in her Glasgow home, I make my own sushi quite often.... though it would be good to have some matching napkins!? Using some white cotton linen I had I cut out 4, 45x45cm squares. I finished off the edges and neatened them with mitered corners.

I then choose my designs and ironed on the transfers to the corner of my napkins and I was ready to go! This is a fantastic website giving really clear instructions with pictures of how to do just about every embroidery stitch you could ever want.

I used mostly used simple backstitch but also satin stitch and a few french knots. Here are my finished designs....