Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Creating a Mixed Media Collage with a Group

So a while back a friend of mine, who works for the wonderful charity Art Space asked me if I would run some sessions that Art Space hold for adults with early onset dementia. The sessions are part of the MindSCAPE Project, which is an exciting 4 year Big Lottery funded project for the Forest of Dean.
The project is designed for people living with dementia, their families and carers, and has been developed to enable people to reconnect back to the landscape, through a regular series of meetings and workshops at Bracelands Adventure Centre, near Coleford and throughout the Forest of Dean.
I decided that we would, as a group make a large wall hanging, using mixed media (paper, felt, cotton & inks) and a variety of applique methods - stamping, gluing and stitching.
The sessions I ran were held over 6 weeks (one class every other Tuesday) and as the theme was nature, I chose to get the group making a large flower.
This was one of my example pieces:
Each person (or pair if more assistance was needed) had a petal template (which were likened to hot air balloon shapes, so watch out for that next time!) and a host of smaller nature inspired templates that I'd drawn for them. They then got creative!
In the first session, most people spend their time going through the materials and papers, choosing colours and patterns that they liked, cutting out their petal and their smaller images and starting to glue them in place:
Then the middle and last weeks, at their own pace, each person, or couple, got onto the fun part of making their petal really stand out. We had some special ink stampers, some googly eyes and 3D bug stickers, lots of stitching, especially by the men who'd mostly not done any sewing before.

A couple of the chaps didn't have the fine motor skills needed for working with the patterned fabrics and chose to do some stamping instead to decorate their petals. With some help they both achieved some wonderfully creative work:

Ultimately the whole group did such amazing petals and when they were all put together, they looked fantastic!
We had more petals than I originally expected, but it didn't matter, they all worked so well together. I'm over the moon for the group at how great it looks.
I took it home and stitched down the petals that had so far just been glued down. I also wanted to add a date to the piece, so I made a yellow centre for the flower and stitched 'MINDSCAPE 2016' on it. To give it a bit of a 3D element I also stuffed the center. The last thing to do was to add a dowel rod at the top so it can be hung up in it's new home at ArtSpace.

The group all said they'd really enjoyed the sessions and as if to prove it, they've invited me back to run some wet felting sessions next Spring! I can't wait!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Sew A Softie Day Tutorial - How to Start Sewing With Kids

Welcome to Grace's Favours' Sew a Softie Day Tutorial for 2016!

If you've stumbled across this post, you may not be aware of the Sew a Softie Day movement. There's a wee post about it here but in a nutshell, it's the brain child of Trixi Symonds who authors the Coloured Buttons blog and she's also the author of the book Sew Together, Grow Together.

Because kids generally love sewing and to stop it from becoming a lost art, Trixi decided to create Sew a Softie Day (the inaugural day is officially on July 16th 2016) and in the run up, for a host of bloggers to post tutorials and inspirational projects to help get people started.

I decided to get my kids involved as they both love sewing, they've both grown up seeing me sew almost every day and from a very young age, have been shown the basics.

I asked Seren (7.5 yrs) to draw an outline of her chosen animal (a cat) and we decided we could use it for Patrick's (big 5 yrs - that's how he puts it as he's almost 6!) dog too.

Based on what Seren drew, I created a pattern for them, with pointy ears for her cat and floppy ears for his dog.

To make a similar animal you will need:

- fleece or felt
- stuffing
- embroidery thread to mach your material (we used pearl cotton as it's not stranded so gets less tangled than the 6 stranded embroidery thread)
- 2 buttons for the eyes
- black thread for the mouth and nose
- pins, scissors and a pencil

How we did it:

1. The kids pinned their paper pattern pieces to two layers of fleece.

2. Then they drew around the animal shape (minus the ears) with a pencil onto the fleece.


3. Next they pinned around their drawn shape (we pinned on the outside of the shape so that they would have a seam allowance and wouldn't cut too near to the line they'd drawn)

4. Then they both cut out their body shapes.


 5. Using 1 strand of pearl embroidery cotton in the same colour as their fleece, I showed Seren and Patrick how to do running stitch and they stitched round their shape, leaving a gap between the legs of their animal for stuffing. Patrick got bored about half way through this step and had me take over, but Seren carried on and really enjoyed herself. Patrick came back and started each of the next steps, but didn't want to finish any of them, which is fine as you need to keep children engaged, but if you make them finish it they won't find it fun.


6. Then we carefully clipped nearer to the lines, so that the seams weren't too bulky and turned them right side out, through the gap we'd left.

7. We lightly stuffed each limb and firmly stuffed the head. Then I drew a line across each limb and showed the kids how to do back stitch. Seren and back stitch really hit it off and she was going great with it. Patrick had a go and got the feel for it and then wanted to watch me sew the rest up.


8. Then we stuffed the body, not too firmly as we didn't want a fat cat or dog and I showed Seren how to do a ladder stitch to close up the hole. If you want to see a video of how to ladder stitch, there's one on my You Tube channel here.

9. Then we drew a nose and mouth onto our animals using the pencil and with some black thread we stitched these details on.

10. The kids then had fun rummaging through my extensive button collection and chose the buttons they wanted to use for the eyes, which I then sewed on for both animals as this was a bit tricky once they were sewn up.

11. The last step, which somehow I didn't get a photo of, was choosing the material for the ears (Seren used the same and Patrick used part of an old Christmas onsie that didn't fit him anymore!) and we used the pattern based on Seren's drawing to cut out 4 ear pieces. We repeated the same process as for the body - draw around them, then pin 2 layers together, outside your lines so that they didn't cut too close to the line. Then we running stitched the ears up, leaving them open at the bottom and turned them the right side out and ladder stitched them to the top of the head.


And voila!! We have two very happy children with their handmade cat and dog!


They were so pleased with themselves, especially Seren who did almost the entire thing on her own! (Although she did say afterwards that she thought her cat looked slightly like a pig!!)



I haven't done a pattern as half the fun was getting them to draw the animal they wanted.

The whole process took us about 3 hours from start to finish with a break for lunch, so if you were teaching a group it would probably take 2-3 sessions depending on what age the children were and how long each session runs for.

I loved doing this with my kids... I even managed to control my urge to get everything looking perfect... the whole idea is for them to be in control - gulp!

I've loved reading everyone else's posts for Sew a Softie Day and I hope you get some inspiration from them.

Here's the list again, so you can discover some other ideas:

July 1

July 2
Maggy Woodley http://www.redtedart.com

July 3

July 4

July 5

July 6
Sandi Sawa Hazlewood http://craftyplanner.com/blog/

July 7

July 8
Stephanie Woodson http://swoodsonsays.com

July 9

July 10

July 11

July 12

July 13

July 14

July 15

July 16
Angie Wilson http://gnomeangel.com

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Creating my First Quiet Book

You have no idea how excited I am writing this post!

A while ago a friend asked me if I could make her a couple of quiet books. I had to do a bit of research as although I had come across some on Pinterest I hadn't really looked into how much work went into them.

A couple of weeks later and here is my finished Quiet Book! I'm so pleased to report that my lovely customer is thrilled with it (almost more than the children she teaches, who it was intended for!)



The first page has shapes, with velcro, for colour association and shape matching.
The second & third pages work together - a washing machine, with a velcro door, which has a basket full of washing on top of it. You can take the washing out of the basket, put it in the machine and then on the third page, peg it out on the line or put it in the basket.


The next page is my favourite - the ladybird, which has a zip pocket, containing 6 black spots, which can be poppered onto the ladybird's body.
The next page is Rapunzel's tower and her hair needs plaiting and tying up.
The spotty page has a trainer with laces to be threaded through eyelets and then done up in a bow.
The baby page has a nappy with poppers which can be done up and then you can play peek-a-boo with the blankie.


The last page has flowers & hearts Noughts and Crosses which attach with velcro.



And because you can't get a proper feel for activity books until you see them in action, here's a video I shot of me playing with it!



I'm now making my second one and I'll be back to share it soon!

I'm also writing up patterns for each page, which will be available in my Etsy shop soon!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Sew A Softie Day is Coming to a Blog Near You!

Hello, my poor neglected blog!

I'm sorry for leaving you alone for so long.

But I'm back with some exciting news.... We're taking part in Sew A Softie Day!


Sew A Softie Day is the brainchild of Trixi Symonds of Coloured Buttons and is all about celebrating the art of sewing with children across the globe. For young sewers (sewists?) the easiest thing to start with is a simple 2D softie, like the yellow strechy men I made a couple of years ago, you can find the tutorial for them here



I'm going to be joining in the fun on Monday 11th July with a simple pattern which can be a cat or a dog (as my kids couldn't agree on what they wanted to make!).

Here's a list of the amazingly talented bloggers taking part (I'm really awed to be included!):

July 1

July 2
Maggy Woodley http://www.redtedart.com

July 3

July 4

July 5

July 6
Sandi Sawa Hazlewood http://craftyplanner.com/blog/

July 7

July 8
Stephanie Woodson http://swoodsonsays.com

July 9

July 10

July 11

July 12

July 13

July 14

July 15

July 16
Angie Wilson http://gnomeangel.com

The first couple of tutorials are already live, so go and have a nosey... don't forget to get your craft stash ready!

Check back here in a few days for our tutorial.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

To Publish a Book of Penny Rug Patterns... Or Not?

First up let me say 'Sorry' for not being around much.

I can't even blame it on being too busy for a lot of this year as my business has been really slow to pick up this year. Last month (April) was much better, but Jan - Mar - GAH! Hopeless was not the word.

I've learnt by now that there isn't necessarily much rhyme or reason as to why some months are quieter than others in retail trade. I know January is always going to be quiet as people are spent out over Christmas. But previous years for me, Feb and March have been booming year, whereas this year, just not so much at all.

Anyway. That has given me some time to think. And while it would have been a great time to get blogging, I rather lost my blogging mo-jo for a while there.

But I think I'm back now! I've got a head brimming with ideas and as soon as my current commission is out of the way (2 quiet books that a lovely customer has ordered and I thought I'd make the patterns up too as I go) I'm going to be hot on the blogging trail again.

As I was saying... the space has given me some time to think and I've been wondering about a book.

Probably a self published book, of penny rug patterns.

I quite like the idea of a penny rug for each month and then at the end of the year, if you wanted to, they could be sewn together to make a quilt or a wall hanging or a table runner.

As you can see I've not quite ironed out all the details yet. But one of the patterns that was an idea for the book, was this Stars and Stripes Eagle Penny Rug:


Because Penny Rugs are so popular in the States, I thought this would be a perfect pattern for the book, but then I realised I wanted the book to have a theme (more of that later) and this wouldn't fit in, so I decided to release it on it's own.

It's now available in my Etsy and Craftsy shops.

Now, the reason for the post title? Well. Writing a book is a lot of work. That's ok, I can cope with that. But the amount that you'd sell it for? Well that's a lot less than the individual patterns would make. I'm kinda ok with that, after all, you are committing money up front for a bunch of patterns. But the cut in potential profits is so much that I wonder if, from a purely profit point of view, it wouldn't be better to sell them all separately and with a discount if a certain number were purchased together. But then that doesn't tie in so well with the idea that at the end of the book they could all be combined to make one item.

I'm still torn.

For now I'm going to keep on sleeping on it and I'll let you know when I make a decision... but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Pretty Pretty Unicorns

An idea has been floating around my head for a while now and today I finally put aside some time to get working on it... amid the chaos of the kids being on their Easter hols no less!

So the first version looked like this:


Which is pretty cute right?

But it didn't look quite perfect so I had another play... this time in blue:


What changed?

Erm... not a lot, the mane is longer and much more luxurious... and the face is a bit fuller. But I think it makes all the difference.

Yes, I might be a bit of a perfectionist!

These guys will be making their way into the Etsy Shop over the next day or two, so keep your eyes peeled.

Friday, 18 March 2016

How To - Felt Easter Peeps Bunnies Tutorial

Being from the UK peeps aren't something I'd ever come across before, but I've seen loads of crafty peeps tutorials this year so I ordered some of the little marshmallow bunnies for my little bunnies for their Easter Egg Hunt and I thought I'd make some felt peeps too.



These are dead easy to make and would make a lovely alternative to chocolate. Or to have with chocolate!

You will need:

Felt in your chosen peep colour
Matching embroidery thread
Scrap of black felt & black thread
Scissors
Needle
Small amount of stuffing
Templates at the end of this tutorial

Instructions:

1. Cut out 2 peep bodies and 1 length of felt 1/2 inch (0.75cm) wide and 16 inches (40cm) long (and two small black eyes, one small black nose - not shown as there's always something I forget to photograph at the beginning!)



2. Using 1 strand of corresponding embroidery thread, starting on the body of the peep, whip stitch the long strip to the body.



3. Once you've gone all the way round, cut off any excess from the length of felt and stitch the ends together.



4. Next take your 3 small circles of black felt and stitch them onto the peep body in the same positions as in the picture.



5. Whip stitch the other body piece onto the long length of felt. Stop before you get to the end so there's a space for adding the stuffing.



6. Stuff the peep firmly but not so he's bulging! Whip stitch closed the hole and sit back and admire your work!



You can make these little fellas in any colours you like and they will be loved for many Easters to come I'm sure of it!


Template:


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

I'm Struggling.

I am very aware that I've not posted much in the last couple of months.

I find it really hard in winter to motivate myself to do things like researching topics for blog posts, or creating tutorials, or being interesting.

I feel rather like I'm here talking to myself anyway and so no-one will notice if I just sneak off quietly and don't post. I get into the mindset where I just want to snuggle down on my sofa, with endless tea, Chocolate, biccies and cake. It doesn't help that I desperately want to lose some weight but guess what? I can't motivate myself to leave the Damn biscuit tin alone! I am my own worst enemy. And so I've gone fron week to week thinking I'll blog this week and never quite getting round to it.

But that's not really fair on those of you crazy lovelies who do read my blog and actually want to listen to me rambling on!

So just for you few, I will try and be a bit more consistent.

We've just had the Feb half term here in the UK and whilst in a way I was hoping for snow (yeah, some hope!) We actually had beautiful weather and were able to spend quite a bit of time outside. For once I didn't spent half the week wishing they were back at school already and we had a really nice time. One thing the kids did which they LOVED was Go Ape. Have you heard of it? It's a tree top adventure. Originally just built for adults they've recently opened a kids one near us.

I wasn't brave enough to go up with them (and frankly I felt far too fat to be trussed up in a harness!) So I let the other adults in the group go up and I took photos! Great 😀


One thing I did manage to get done this week was creating these cute little Easter Pocket Pals


They're available in my Etsy shop and also my Folksy shop

And here's a behind the scenes shot of their official photoshoot!


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Handmade Dog Hat


Happy 1st Birthday!!!

It's our not-so-little Pup's birthday today... she's totally unimpressed by turning 1 as you can see:



Her Birthday Hat was made up yesterday and has a felty number 1, two bones and a paw print on it!

Bless her little furry feet... she's now fast asleep under my desk (on my feet!) after a lovely morning romping through the forest with her doggy friends.

It's a dog's life, eh?

Monday, 11 January 2016

New Patterns

I have been rather remiss with my blog recently - in trying to do what all the books *and well known blogs* tell you and 'write great content' or 'write about topics your readers really want to read about' I've ummmmed and ahhhhed about what on earth to write about and consequently written nothing at all!

But. While the content might not be what's considered 'great'... I do have some lovely piccies to show you!

These first 4 are all PDF Patterns and can be found in my Etsy and Craftsy Shops

Mandala Penny Rug Pattern

Spooky Haunted House Wall Hanging

Rainbows & Wellies Penny Rug Pattern

Christmas Tree Gift Box & Ornament Pattern
Then there is also the first of my Sew Your Own Kits, which I have also released as a PDF Pattern:

Sew Your Own VW Campervan Kit

VW Campervan Ornament PDF Pattern

If you'd like to find any of these in the shop, click on the caption under the relevant photo and it'll take you straight to that listing.

I will hopefully be back with some more wordage next time!!

PS. Do you remember that post I wrote about Penny Rugs a while back? No? And you have no idea what a Penny Rug is? Then have a read HERE xx

Sunday, 20 December 2015

A little bit of Christmas crafting

I've been very quiet on all fronts recently.  I think I might have had flu. You know the proper, can't get out of bed, feel like utter crap, but still have to get the kids to school and walk the dog?

Anyway, it has FINALLY lifted after about 3 weeks and I'm ready to get back to some craftiness... just in time for not having any time to do anything much as the kids have broken up for Christmas and there's loads going on!

But I have managed to sneak out of the village kids' Christmas party with Seren as she's knackered, so we're scootched up on the sofa watching the Fantastic Mr Fox and I'm making up a name banner.


I've also just tried to take a pic of the cool bauble display my gorgeous husband put up this morning, but as I can't get up off the sofa (one Seren laying across me!) I'm sure I could take it from a better angle later.


I will try and get back before Christmas as I am making something very special and new to me, a mantle scarf for my Mum!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

How To Make an Easy Felt Christmas Ornament - Sew Your Own Tutorial

Hello lovelies!

Hope you're all feeling nice and Christmassy? In my last post I recounted our Christmas Crafternoon and I've got Carols playing on the radio so I'm feeling really festive!

I've got a Christmas Ornament tutorial for you today:


You Will Need:

A scrap of felt 2" x 2" for the smaller circle
2 pieces of felt 3" x 3" for the larger circle and the backing circle
Embroidery thread in a range of colours
A sequin and bead per ornament
Small length of ribbon
Scissors, needle, pins
Circle templates - you can either use the ones at the end of the tutorial or draw around whatever comes to hand. Mine are 2" for the smaller circle and 2.5" for the larger circle.

Instructions:


1. Cut out 1 small circle & 2 larger circles. On the smaller circle lightly mark out a circle about 1" in diameter with a pencil (you won't see this once you are finished) and using the template, the points where the white embroidery thread comes together.

2. Stitch on the white pattern, using 2 strands of embroidery thread.

3. Draw another slightly smaller circle with your pencil and then add the grey stitches, in between the white pattern.

4. Using 2 strands of maroon embroidery thread add a french knot between each grey stitch.

5. Add your sequin and bead. To hide the thread, bring your needle up through the centre of the sequin and then thread on the bead, then take the needle back down through the hole in the sequin.

6. Add a circle of running stitch, going in and out of the white pattern with 2 strands of bright red embroidery thread. Then sandwich your ribbon between the two red felt circles and using 4 strands of pale green embroidery thread, blanket stitch around the outside of the ornament.

Et Voila! You have an ornament all ready for your tree!

Here's the Circles template:



I have used colours in my ornaments that compliment the Christmas Trees I've just created using my new pattern (available in my Etsy Shop) which I had great fun putting together and will be used to make all the Teacher and T.A. gifts for my kids this year.


Happy Sewing!

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