Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Penblwydd Hapus i Katryn

Yn y bore, bydd Katryn yn chwech a hoffwn ddymuno iddi penblwydd hapus iawn. Dwi’n drist iawn na allaf fod gyda hi eleni ond rwy’n siwr ei bod yn mynd i gael diwrnod gwych a byddaf yn gweld hi wyr yn fuan.
Llawer a llawer o gariad, Katryn. xxxx

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stitched Christmas Trees with Year 10

I only had a single lesson (35 minutes) with Year 10 today so I chose to make one of my simplest cards with them. They all did very well with several completing the stitched Christmas tree on gold or silver card, mounting it on black paper before gluing it onto a white card and embellishing with a holographic star. I don’t have any photos of the actual cards but they are based on the following design, which is one of my own…


I produced a powerpoint to talk them through making the stitched tree so I thought I’d also share the instructions on here for anyone that’s interested. I originally made the template by drawing a triangle and measuring equally spaced holes on each side with the left hand side holes sitting in the middle of those on the right hand side. To place the trunk in the correct place I constructed an angle bisector to be as accurate as possible but measuring would be fine for anyone that’s not an over enthusiastic Maths teacher!

This triangle has significantly less holes than the ones that Year 10 completed today but there are enough to understand the general principle and get the hang of the pattern.



Starting in the bottom left hand hole ensures that the pattern is as easy as possible to follow so cellotape your thread to the back of the card and stitch as shown here. Out on the right, in on the left.

Now come back out on the left hand side one hole up and stitch back to the original hole on the right hand side. This is the pattern that you follow for the whole design, on the back you move up one hole on the same side and on the front you stitch across to the hole that you’ve already used.

image image



Once you’ve reached the top you can go back to the bottom and stitch the final two parts to make the trunk. So simple but also incredibly effective I think.

They seemed to enjoy the activity, many of them stayed well into break to finish it. One noted that this was like a “knit & natter” session, they really are old before their time! I also had a request to do the string art with them later in the year, which I blogged about in the summer when I did it with my current Year 11s. I really do love spreading my enthusiasm for crafting!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas cushion

After the weekend’s failures I felt I needed to get back on the horse and get back into my comfort zone making a cushion. However, I am an ambitious person so I thought I’d have a go at beading onto my fabric before making it into a dinky little cushion…

I used a beaded snowflake design from Stitching Cards which I pinned to my fabric before beginning the beading by hand. This took a couple of hours or so but the worst job was yet to come…


Unfortunately I had not thought this through thoroughly enough. My paper was fairly thick and tearing it off the fabric proved very tricky. In the end I had to wet the paper to make any progress and did split one thread in the process of removing the paper. After patching it up and pulling the damp fabric tight the piece looked like this:


The following day I chose another fabric with which to border and back my little cushion. I’m really pleased with the end result although it is probably quite fragile. It’s roughly 16cm square and makes the perfect present for someone special.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Note to self: learn to walk before you attempt to run!

Today has been a big fat FAIL!!! However, I live and learn…
This morning I set about creating a (vaguely Christmassy) hanging which I had carefully planned last night whilst David was out a Christmas party. I know I shouldn’t but I do love nights in alone when I can do as I please. Anyway, I digress. I had taken inspiration from a lovely book that I have on Embroidery on Paper (click the title for link to the book). The design that I liked was a hanging of three hearts embellished with embroidery and beads. I decided to make a similar piece but creating three patchwork hearts and embellishing them with seasonal things such as bells and snow flakes.
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So, after an early start (couldn’t sleep) and a lot of cleaning in the kitchen I set about making it. David didn’t surface until after one this afternoon and I’d just about finished it by then but this had been an ambitious project and I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the result. It turns out that getting the hearts perfect is not very easy at all. I’m quite tempted to have a go at Kirstie Allsopp’s way of creating fabric hearts using the much much simpler method of using some kind of wonderweb type material. I shall investigate further at a later date. Here’s a closer look at the three separate hearts below…
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Disappointment number one!
Then, this evening I attempted to make a Christmas patchwork star. I carefully designed it, making sure that the angles were all exactly 45 degrees and thinking about the order in which I was going to stitch the eight pieces together.
It was all going very well. I cut out the pieces from some great fabric (from Ikea of course) and made the patchwork star before attaching it to my cream fabric to create the back of the star that I intended to stuff.
This is where the story ends. After stitching it together and trying to turn it right side out it became obvious that the points were almost impossible to turn because I’d stitched them too tightly. The pattern was just too small and fiddly. It went in the bin! Walk before you can run, Suzanne!! Next time I’ll try another cushion I think!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Shhh, don’t show or tell Mum

I’ve spent the day making a Christmas present for Mum so that she has something to open to go with her M&S vouchers. It took about five hours I think but I wasn’t really counting.
Like yesterday, I began by deciding on the design of my patchwork piece and determining the best order in which to stitch the pieces together.
After a little battle with my sewing machine I managed to complete the patchwork and backed it with cream material just as I would a cushion, leaving the bottom edge open to be turned the right way around.
Using the same cream material I then set about making a simple shopping bag to mount the patchwork on. I made everything, even the handles. By far the hardest part of this project was mounting it onto the bag. I don’t think I’ve ever actually stitched with both my right and left hands together before! It was very fiddly.
I am generally very pleased with the result and I think Mum will love it but the small imperfection when closing up the bottom edge of the patchwork will niggle at me. Having said that, it looks worse on the photo than in real life. Anyway, here’s the finished item and remember, shhhhhhh, don’t show or tell Mum!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Patchwork Tortoise

I was supposed to come home and go straight to bed today. I have had a week of disturbed sleep and wanted to catch up. Well, it’s now well past my normal bedtime, I’m listening to Graham Norton and feel in need of sharing what I’ve been doing instead of looking after myself this evening.
I desperately need to get on and try to patch up Mum’s trousers before I see her next weekend but I wanted to get on and finish Nan’s presents first. I’ve decided to give her the patchwork cushion that I made a few weeks ago as well as the cross-stitch, which I am still yet to frame. However, I wasn’t very happy with the finish on the back of the cushion so I have made a very basic pillow out of one of David’s old t-shirts and slipped that inside. This means that Nan can remove the pillow and wash the case if needed. A much better idea than having stuffed it directly and haphazardly stitching up the back.
Next I wanted to try a rather more challenging patchwork piece. Again, it’s really not perfect and it took me a while to work out in what order I should stitch the patches together but it’s definitely good enough. I have no idea what she’ll do with it but I think Nan will like it. I’ve recycled trimmings from a dress, two of David’s old shirts and one of my old bras on this little critter!
I drew a pattern on the computer initially and then cut each of the pieces out of my chosen fabric. I used the machine to stitch the patches together, which worked quite well, even with such an irregular pattern. I then made a head, tail and four legs before stitching it all together and stuffing it. I wish I’d stuffed the head more but it’s way too late now!!
Anyway, here’s my pattern…
I suppose I could have kept it quite a bit simpler, 11 pieces on the shell may have been excessively complicated. Nothing wrong with a touch of ambition though ;¬)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stitched fabric card

Tuesdays are fast becoming my weekly crafting night. I don’t really feel like working in the evening after Year 7 have sapped all of my energy in the afternoon so crafting is my only option.

This week I needed to make a birthday card for Neil (whose birthday is today and hence the delay in posting, just in case he spotted my networked blog news feed on facebook). I thought I’d have a go at something completely different. I cut a couple of motifs from some of my trusty ikea fabric and stitched them directly onto card adding the odd bead to embellish them. You can’t really see my stitches and I wonder whether using a contrasting thread so that you could see them might have added something to the overall design but there is always next time!

So, happy birthday Neil…


Monday, 14 November 2011

Christmas Cross-stitch

My fabulous Nan is one of those incredibly difficult people to buy presents for. She’s diabetic and has skin that’s irritated by just about everything. She can’t keep plants alive and thinks that flowers are a complete waste of money. On top of that, I’m not that keen on giving vouchers for Christmas to anyone other than Mum – we always have a day out to spend them together, which makes it so much better! So, every birthday and Christmas presents a dilemma. I’ve now come to the conclusion that the very best thing that I can do is to make things for her. She really does mean the world to me so the idea of spending about three weekends working on these pieces doesn’t phase me. She’s worth every single moment.

I’m intending to make two small, simple patchwork cushions (like the ones in my last post) to adorn her sofa over the next couple of weeks. In addition, I spent this weekend completing a cross-stitch for her. My friend, Steph, gave me this kit a few years ago having decided that she wasn’t too keen on it. I started it from scratch on some left over fabric. The kit’s designed for 16 count canvas but I’ve done it on 14 I think so it’s a little more sparse than intended. I’m used to stitching on 18 holes per inch with hundreds of colours these days so it seemed pretty simple to be honest. Having said that, it did take me the whole weekend. I’m going to mount and frame it in a simple 6 by 4 inch frame then she can get it out every Christmas to celebrate the festive season.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sewing machine heaven

Amongst writing 24 reports and checking over the odd UCAS application this weekend I’ve spent just a few hours on the big kite project and have been busy on the sewing machine. It’s just possible that I’m becoming a little obsessed and will have to invest in a much better sewing machine in the not so distant future. The one I have is a total beginners machine from John Lewis, can only handle thin material and doesn’t do anything clever but I can still have fun with it!

I should probably admit that the idea to crack out the sewing machine and try doing something other than hemming came from watching Kirstie Allsopp’s Homemade Britain last weekend and then again on Wednesday. She’s too enthusiastic for David but I really like this programme and only wish I’d started watching it from the beginning of the series. The cushion that Kirstie made on Wednesday was amazing and convinced me to have a go at making my first ever patchwork cushion. One day I’ll make one to rival Kirstie’s best in show creation. My patchwork is definitely not perfect. The corners don’t meet exactly at the centre and the border’s not exactly the same width all the way around but I’m learning all the time and this is my first attempt after all…


Yesterday I was chatting to Dad on the phone when spotted a picture of a fabric hippopotamus on my notebook that I thought I’d attempt to copy and make my own stuffed hippo. I have made a mistake by doing the whole lot in the same material because it’s hard to distinguish the head from the body but again, I’m learning, and I am generally happy with the result. David says he can’t take the fabric seriously so I think he’ll like my cushion better when he eventually makes it home tonight.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Crafting after a long day at work

Tuesday’s are my only full teaching day, with three tutorials and a supermarket shop too I was pretty exhausted this evening. I always need something to do to keep me busy though so I thought I’d have a go at using up some of that spare stuffing I mentioned a few days ago and have a go at improving my skills on the sewing machine. If I’m ever going to make a quilt on it I need some experience doing things other than hemming. So, I fished about on the internet for a while looking for inspiration and stumbled across a fantastic blog New Green Mama and Jen’s Hootie the Upcycled Owl. It’s a gorgeous soft toy made with some great fabrics. I suspect Hootie is much bigger than my version but I’m really rather pleased with mine. David’s not sure about my eclectic fabrics from ikea but, ah well, it makes a great computer buddy for him!
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Monday, 31 October 2011

On to the background – hurrah!

After 85 hours of hard work I finished the red kite itself on Saturday…


I then somehow found another 5 hours on Sunday (neglecting all the school work that I probably should have been doing but hell I’m still on holiday!) to devote to beginning the stunning background…


The colours look a bit washed out in this photograph but I assure you that they are vivid and beautiful in real life. Good enough to get a very big “WOW” from David when he got home at any rate! I think my best guess for the completed piece is still 120 hours but we shall have to wait and see.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Crafting with Katryn

I’ve had a lovely half term holiday with Katryn. She was very good at humouring me and trying out lots of crafts that were quite new to her, and one that was new to me too.
P1040893 On our first morning, Katryn found my beads and decided that she’d like to make some ear-rings for her Mum. Sarah was surprised that they were actually quite pretty!
Next job was a touch of marbling. We played around with this a couple of times and decided that it definitely looks best if you only use a couple of different inks at a time. P1040903
P1040890 We spent the day in Hyde Park and took a quick trip to John Lewis on Oxford Street where Katryn bought a princess Hama bead kit. That evening she spent ages putting the beads on the pegboard only to pull the whole lot on top of herself and have to start again! More care required!!
On Monday we made this sock bunny that came in kit form from John Lewis. It’s from a company called Sock Creatures. Having had a quick look at their website I like all of the other creatures better but nevermind! We made this for Great Nan who was 87 that day. The kit came with an insane amount of stuffing so I’m looking forward to making my own toys in the future. Katryn was a great help cutting things out and helping me with the sewing machine.
P1040901 On the topic of Nan’s birthday we decorated her a cake and as you can see, we found time to do a little face painting too…
It was John’s 30th birthday this week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there to help him celebrate but Katryn and I made him this card and sent it to John via David. P1040902
P1040915 Back in Wales we organised a party to cheer Mum up. We made a gorgeous banner, tissue paper balloons, party hats, paper flowers, a board game and a pass the parcel. It was great fun!!
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Sunday, 16 October 2011

75 hours 40 minutes and one other tiny craft

Can you get RSI in your thumbs? I’ve often wondered this after a weekend stitching but after a good night’s sleep they always seem to ache a lot less. Anyway, I’ve managed to devote another 11 hours to the wonderful kite this weekend, bringing me to 75 hours and 40 minutes worth of work on this piece…


I don’t normally pick up my pace on a piece until it’s nearing it’s completion, which this one is not. I’m quite impressed with my own motivation this time. However, I have Katryn here next weekend so I’m going to have to put it away for a week or two now.

I just about had time to do one other small craft piece yesterday for hubby’s 30th. The stitching that holds the three pieces together could do with thicker thread but it did take less than 20 minutes to complete so I can’t complain!


Marbled Cards

When I was much younger, I used to mess around with cheap paints trying to marble but this is the first time that I’ve ever owned and used my own marbling inks. I decided to treat myself when placing an order for my Brownies from Crafty Crocodiles. I’ve used them a couple of times now and really have to praise their service. They dispatch and delivery much faster than other large online craft retailers that we’ve used and the quality is great considering they’re significantly cheaper than competitors.

Anyway, down to the marbling… I’ve definitely not perfected the skill yet but you basically fill a bowl with clean water, drip the inks in one drop at a time and mix it up. I tried using a bamboo skewer to mix them up at first but that didn’t work so I ended up blowing the surface of the water to create the marbled effect. Next, drop the paper in, lift out and allow to dry. Simple!

P1040863    P1040862

I used quite thick paper to try to avoid it curling up when drying, which seems to have worked thankfully. I have then made a couple of the marbled pieces into simple cards to celebrate a couple of birthdays this week. The numbers are raised off the cards using small sticky foam pads. I’m sure I’ll get better at the marbling and I think I may generally avoid using the black because I think it just makes the papers look dirty but for now…

Happy birthday Paul and David!!!


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Am I half way through yet???

After another 8 hours stitching this weekend I’ve made it to a total of 64 and a half hours working on my red kite now. Whilst David was away I decided which bird cross-stitch I’d like to do next but that seems to be a very long way off at the moment. I have some easier kits stashed away that I think I might do first. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the current state of play…


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Happy Birthday Archie

Penblwydd Hapus i Archie!!!

My sister’s really not a fan of handmade cards but she’s going to have to lump it this year. I forgot to buy one at Sainsburys so hastily put this together on Tuesday for my gorgeous nephew who turns 1 today.

Wishing the whole family a lovely day and sending lots of love and cuddles…


Monday, 3 October 2011

Use of a different framer…

My laptop has returned so I’m feeling inclined to blog again. Whilst David’s been away I’ve done a few more hours of kiting but that’s not what I’m going to share today. I was up in Wales this weekend and finally saw the results of the cross-stitch that I’d taken up there to be framed for Archie. Up until this piece I’ve had everything framed at Frames in Loughton. I do find their service very good but they are a little expensive so I thought I’d try somewhere different.

Mum had spotted a new framers open up in Chirk (actually moved from elsewhere I think) so we popped in. I was really impressed with the framer, Michael Hill, who was very professional and knowledgeable. He had a huge range of frames and other options, including some amazing artists glass. I opted for conservation glass (high UV protection) for this piece, which kept the costs just below Frames. I was tempted by the expensive stuff but it’s so amazing that a tiny mark of highlighter pen on the canvas shone like a beacon! I’ll definitely opt for it when I finally get my red kite framed.

The colours aren’t wonderful in my photo but the frame was a perfect match for one of the reds in the cross-stitch. He did such a good job that I wanted to share his work and highly recommend him. He’s certainly earned my return custom. See what you think…


Thanks to Katryn for holding it up for me!

Should you have anything that needs framing and are within reach of Chirk in North Wales give him a try. He’s open 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday…

Compton Framers, 10 Station Avenue, Chirk. LL14 5LS.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Never any time in September

September is always a big month for me and unfortunately the only thing I get time to do at weekends is craft numerous UCAS references for my form whilst evenings are filled with marking until I find a routine that suits me better. So far this month I have found the odd hour to devote to the cross-stitch kite but I’m now getting really frustrated that I don’t have time for any other projects. I’ve satisfied myself with a little hemming this morning before I head out for a day of sailing!
As a Mathematics enthusiast, I regularly read Plus Magazine, which is a fantastic online publication. When browsing the site the other day, I stumbled across a review for a book that looks brilliant and was swiftly added to my Amazon wish list. I met the woman who’s written the review at a conference at Murray Edwards College back in July. If only I’d known she were a crafter – our conversation would have been much more varied!
Click the picture below to read more…
I have six more early deadline references to write in the next few days then I might just be able to do something about my urge to get crafting again. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Exciting update on kite as head is complete!

This may not actually be an “exciting” update for many but I’m thrilled to have completed the red kite’s head after 51 hours and 30 minutes of work. I think the head is absolutely beautiful and well worth sharing.


It’s worth noting at this point that one of the unusual things about these kits by X-stitch birds is that they are created entirely of full cross-stitches. No half stitches, no three-quarter stitches and absolutely no back-stitch. Considering this simplicity in pattern, I think you’d have to agree, the result is stunning.

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