Monday, 17 November 2014

Christmas craft tutorial link-up

Following on from my tutorial for a recycled jumper stocking the other day, there's been a whole lot of chistmas crafty goodness going on out there in the blogosphere!  Laura over at Bugs and Fishes managed to co-ordinate a huge number of crafty bloggers in a christmas tutorial link-up, and here are the results....  a heck of a lot of festive crafty know-how, from stitchery to cakery - there's something for everyone here.

So without further ado, here are all the links and the projects...

Mosaic 1
Mini Teddy Bed - Grace's Favours

Shiny Reindeer Embroidered Hoop Art - Candyfloss Ramparts

Teeny Tiny Snowman Pendant - i ManuFatti

Nativity Bunting Tutorial - Hoogally

Floating Pompom Garland - RetroDelicious

Printable Colouring-In Snowflake Labels - It's Organised

Blackwork Pleated Heart - Carina's Craftblog

Patchwork Christmas Bauble - Made by Mrs M

Mosaic 2
Upcycled Jumper Christmas Stocking with Robin Appliqué - Halcyon Threads

Felt Christmas Mouse Ornament - Molly & Mama

First Flake, Snowflake Ornament - Betz White
Gingerbread House Ornament - Shiny Happy World
Mod Winter Table Runner - Tumus / Little Red Thread
Shabby Christmas Denim Heart - Cocojude

Fairy Lights Christmas Cake - Cupcakery
Washi Tape & Button Christmas Card - The Lilac Linnet

Mosaic 3

Christmas Card String & Pegs - Fizzi Jayne Makes
Felt Christmas Stocking - Vicky Myers Creations
Felt Holiday Wreath - The Felt Store
Penguin Pocket Friend or Ornament - Lulu & Celeste
Saint Nick Ornaments - Homemade at My Place

Modern Felt Advent Calendar - Hugs are Fun

Felt Christmas Ornaments - Marc's Treasure Basket

So, if you fancy getting your Christmas craft-on, click on the links above, pour yourself a glass of mulled wine, crack open the mince pies and get festive!

Kate x

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tutorial - Christmas stocking from recycled jumper

This tutorial is part of a blogging christmas craft link-up organised by the lovely Laura over at Bugs and Fishes.  I'll be posting links to all the other crafty tutorials later this week - if last year's link up is anything to go by there'll be a whole lot of christmas crafty goodness getting blogged about in the next few days!

You may remember that amongst my christmas stitchery last year, I ran up a stocking out of one of PLH's old jumpers.  I thought I'd share a tutorial for how to make one, this time with a festive robin design appliqued with a little free-motion embroidery.   It's a great way to upcycle an old woolen jumper "accidentally" shrunken and felted in the wash - maybe a good use for any unwanted (whoops) christmas jumpers!  And if you don't have a jumper you're ready to part with, the charity shops are a great source of no-longer-loved wooly pulleys. 

Gather your materials
  • Felted woolen jumper - needs to be high wool content.  Felt it by popping it in the washing machine on a hot wash
  • Printed stocking template 1 
  • Printed stocking template 2
  • Printed stocking template 3 (stick the three together to create the whole template)
  • Printed robin template
  • Fabric for lining (approx 1/2m)
  • Fabric for stocking top (20" x 3.5" strip)
  • Bondaweb
  • Fabric scraps for robin and branch in red, brown, white and green
  • Ribbon for the tag
  • Black machine embroidery thread (normal thread will do)
  • Co-ordinating thread for jumper and lining

Gather your equipment

  • Iron
  • Sewing Machine
  • Darning foot
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Needle
  • Rotary cutter and mat (optional)
  • Ruler

Step 1
Iron your felted jumper to flatten it out, then pin on the stocking template, going through both the front and the back of the jumper.  Cut around the pattern to give you the front (A) and the back (B) outer pieces for the stocking. 

My jumper was not large enough to yield the front and back pieces, so I incorporated the V-neck of the jumper and filled the gap with fabric from the sleeve.  I actually rather like the effect!

Step 2
Iron the lining fabric then fold in half and pin on the stocking template.  Cut out to give you the front (C) and back (D) pieces for the lining.

Step 3
Using the robin template, trace the outlines for each of the robin pieces, branch and leaves with gaps between each section.  Roughly cut each tracing out.

Step 4
Iron the bondaweb tracings on to the wrong side of the fabric scraps.  Use brown for the robin back/wing/tail section, red for the face/breast section and white for the belly.  Cut carefully around the tracings - you now have all the sections for your applique.

Step 5
Peel the back off the bondaweb then carefully arrange the tracings on to the right side of piece A (front outer) of the stocking.  Once you are happy with the position iron into place.

Depending upon the rigidity of your felted jumper, you may wish to use bondaweb to attach a square of fabric to the wrong side of the stocking front where you will be appliqueing.  This will stabilise the fabric and make the free-motion embroidery much easier.

Step 6
Change the foot on your sewing machine to a darning foot, then lower the feed dog and thread with black machine embroidery thread (or just black thread).  You are now ready to carefully free-motion embroider twice around the edge of each applique piece.  If you are new to this technique then try it out first on some scraps before committing to your stocking, and take it slow!

Step 7
Stitch the robin’s beak, eye, wing and legs, then admire your work!

Step 8
Press the fabric you have selected for the stocking top (trim), then (using a rotary cutter and mat if you have one) cut two strips of 10” by 3.5”.

Step 9
Press a seam of 1/4” towards the wrong sides.  Pin the strips right side up, onto the right sides of pieces A and B, with the raw edge lined up with the top of the stocking pieces.  Then topstitch into place just inside of the pressed seam.  There is no need to secure the top at this point as it will be secured in the next stages.  Trim the excess in line with the stocking edges.

Step 10
Take stocking pieces A and C (front outer and front inner), place right side together and stitch along the top (seam allowance 1cm).  Press open, seams towards the jumper section.
Step 10
Take stocking pieces B and D (back outer and back inner), place right side together and stitch along the top (seam allowance 1cm).  Press open, seams towards the jumper section.

Step 11
Take pieces AC and DE and place right sides together, placing the ribbon for the tag in the seam at the top right-hand side.  Pin around the edges, leaving a gap big enough to get your hand through at the bottom of the stocking lining.  I mark this with double pins so I don’t accidentally stitch it closed!
Step 12
Starting at the base of the lining (by one of the double pins), stitch all the way around the edges until you reach the other double pins, with a seam allowance of 1cm.  Backstitch a couple of times either side of the gap.

Step 13
Cut notches into the seams around the curved sections.
Step 14
Turn the stocking all the way through using the hand-sized gap and push out towards the seams.
Step 15
Using a whip stitch sew up the gap at the base of the lining.

Step 16
Finally, turn the lining inside the stocking and straighten it all out.  Then hang it up and wait for father Christmas!

I hope that you enjoy making your own recycled jumper stocking; if you have any questions please do get in touch using the comments below!

Please note - this tutorial is intended for personal use only and is not to be used to create items for sale.

Click here for all the other tutorials in the link-up.

Kate x

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn leaves garland - tutorial

I just love autumn - the chilly mornings, getting my jumpers out and best of all the leaves.   The colours and the crunch, and the simply amazing transformation they undergo - such a change from that bright spring green that burst forth all those months ago.
There's a whole load of amazing ideas for using autumn leave for your home on Pinterest, and the other day I came across this Martha Stewart one posted on Facebook.  This calls for bleached beeswax and a double boiler - not exactly everyday items in my home; I do however have a few burnt out candles.  Here's how I did it:

Gather your supplies:
  • Leaves (dry off with paper towel)
  • Wax (end of candles works fine)
  • Saucepan and pyrex-type bowl
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Gardening wire (for wreath)
Making the Garland:
1. Chop up the candle remains and melt in a bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water.
2.  Once all the wax has melted, dip the leaves in one at a time, shaking off any excess wax.  They dry within a few seconds enough to place them down, but you could hang them to dry using pegs if you want.
3.  Once you have your waxed leaves, take a needle and thread and carefully string together to create a pretty autumnal garland.
4.  Hang the garland and admire your handiwork!

I also made a little wreath to hang at the window - the light shining through the leave looks amazing!
1.  Make a circle with gardening wire, winding the wire around approximately 4 times to create gaps to poke things through (sorry, no pics of this bit). 
2.  Arrange the leaves around the wire frame, poking the stems through then securing with thread.  

3.  Create a long loop of thread then hang from your window (or anywhere else!).

Kate x

Monday, 29 September 2014

The resurrection of extinct birds

Three weeks of preparation and excitement, researching the sad tales of extinct birds, sketching, procrastinating and preparing, then Friday 26th September had arrived.   I took my sewing machine, scrap bag and stitchy paraphernalia along to The Forge in Camden to be the “artist in residence” for Day 1 of the Ghosts of Gone Birds live art studio as part of the Camden Migration Festival.
To be precise I dropped my stuff off the night before - what a sight met my eyes!  The RSPB bird hide from Coquet Island had arrived just a couple of hours earlier and with the aid of hacksaws and hammers Wes, the RSPB warden, was in the process of supervising re-constructing  it in the studio.  It was a little chaotic, but I was assured as I left that all would be well in the morning…
…And well it most certainly was, a beautiful structure (it’s a copy of the lighthouse on Coquet Island) and is furnished with a clam-shaped stove to keep out those Northumbria chills and a disco ball in lieu of a lighthouse lamp.  The perfect place for visitors to twitch artists resurrecting extinct birds and a great place for a quick coffee break!

In all my preparation, I had no idea just how many birds I would be able to resurrect over the course of the day.  As the day wore on, I found more and more species coming to life under the needle of my sewing machine.  The afternoon's work was set to a cacophony of near-extinct bird calls, and as the light faded outside, The Old Dance School septet picked up their instruments for a soundtrack of mesmerising modern folk from the stage below. 

In 14 hours I managed 10 species of extinct bird, brought back to life in stitch.  Exhilarating, exciting and exhausting; it was an amazing day and I’m pretty proud to have been involved in such an relevant and creative project in an incredibly vibrant venue.  There are a few i-phone snaps of my work for the day here; I’ll post more over the next couple of weeks, along with the stories of these gone birds.

Don’t forget, there’s another 11 artists involved in the live art studio; you can go along to the Forge in Camden any day until the 6th October and see one of them resurrecting more extinct birds.  There's also loads of music, poetry and other cultural happenings all related to the theme of avian and human migration.  All the artwork is for sale and will be displayed at The Forge until the end of October.  Follow the link below for details.
Competition Winner!!!
Drumroll please…
The winner of the inaugural Halcyon Threads giveaway is….
Katie Fuller
Well done Katie!

Kate x

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Migration Massacre

As you well know, much of my time over the last three weeks has been taken up thinking on the subject extinction.  I've been struck by just how many of our bird species have literally been hunted to extinction.  Man with gun versus feathered fragile life; it is not hard to see how easily avian life is snuffed out when faced with shotgun pellets.  

Sadly the senseless stories of human hunting birds towards extinction are not confined to the history books.  With the Hen Harrier on the brink of national extinction, as a british national I find it hard to sling mud at the practices of other nations, but the bi-annual slaughter of migrating birds in Malta really does beggar belief.  Every spring and autumn maltese guns let loose against the many thousands of birds that migrate across the island, a largely illegal but unregulated massacre.  

Many of the species shot down are protected, but the hunting lobby in Malta carries a lot of political sway and prosecutions are extremely rare.  In the last couple of weeks alone 2 white storks were killed.  The maltese government have thankfully bowed to international pressure and temporarily closed the current hunting season until 10th October, which should allow a safe passage to many of the migrating birds, unless that too is breached.  Violence by Maltese hunters the other day does nothing to engender confidence that the law will be respected.
A very quick and rough impression of a White Stork
You can read more on this topic on the Birdlife Malta website.

Kate x

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

In the frame

I haven't had much time for blogging over the last week or so, between researching extinct birds and getting my stuff together for the Ghosts of Gone Birds live art studio at the Forge in Camden this Friday (oh, and looking after an energetic toddler) there hasn't been much time.  Yes, that's this friday, in just 2 days time - oh so excited!  
I've said it before but I'll say it again - I'm going to be resurrecting as many extinct birds in stitch as I can during the course of the day.  People will be able to watch me work through a rather awesome RSPB bird hide, which has been transported down from Coquet Island in Northumberland and reconstructed in the studio.  Not only does the hide look a darn sight snazzier than your average twitching hidey hole, it has a disco ball.  Oh yes, a disco ball.  So no excuses, if you're around the London area between Friday 26th September and Sunday 5th October you really should pop into The Forge in Camden and take a twitch at one of the 11 artists that will be getting busy bringing those long-gone birds back from extinction.

As well as deciding which birds I'd like to stitch, I've been trying to work out the best way to present the artwork and how to frame it.  I was lucky enough to meet Caroline from Sea-Saw Designs whilst at the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival a couple of weeks ago.  In need of a little cheese relief, I took a wander around the craft tent and was struck by her wonderful breezy seaside designs - check these out...
You can see more of Caroline's work on her facebook page.  We got chatting and she very kindly gave me all kinds of hints and tips about framing textiles, which I have put into practice ahead of Friday's event.  The pigeon is now framed...
 And a very quick and dirty picture of a White Stork that I bashed out the other day (to practice on some new linen)...
More about the White Stork in tomorrow's blog post.  For now I'd better get back to the last bits of packing...
I did have a minor deviation from the world of extinct birds last night in order to stitch a quick bag big enough to carry my frames on Friday...
Oooh, and before I forget, here's my new business card - a little bit of a rush job if I'm honest but I'm pretty happy with the result.
Right, that's it, I really am off to do something productive now!

Kate x