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!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

How to Make a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket Costume for World Book Day

Who loves Charlie & The Chocolate Factory?

Who knew that this year is the centenary of Road Dahl?

He was born on September 13 1916 and so to mark his 100th Birthday I've created this Charlie & The Chocolate Factory dressing up costume!

AHA! I hear you exclaim. She promised to show us this back in FEBRUARY when the costume was originally made for Patrick (Aged 5) to wear to school and it's taken till August to get round to posting it - I know and I'm sorry! My bad.

So here's the finished costume on a VERY excited Patrick:

You Will Need:

Large rectangle of thick felt - size according to the person you are making the costume for.
Large rectangle of gold felt (same size as thick felt)
Large piece of gold material (at least 2" larger than thick felt)
Black felt for lettering
Iron on fusible interfacing (bondaweb or similar)
4 pieces of elastic for shoulder & waist straps
muslin cloth or cotton cloth for ironing
Sewing Machine
Fabric pen or tailor's chalk
Lots and lots and lots more pins!

How To:

1. Iron the fusible interfacing onto black felt, trace around the letters (the wrong way round) and cut out. Then iron the black felt letters onto the gold material according to the bondaweb instructions. For mine, it's simply, peel off the paper backing and iron on a hot setting with steam for 10 - 15 seconds on each piece. Make sure you use a cotton muslin or cloth on top of the felt & gold material as you don't want to cause iron marks on the shiny material.

2. If you have a really large piece of gold material then you can cut it into a rectangle after the letters are ironed in place. But if you have a piece of material already cut to size, make sure you center the letters on it. I held the gold material up against Patrick to make sure it wasn't too big/too small.

3. Take a large piece of thick felt and cut it to a rectangle 2 inches smaller than the gold material.

4. Pin the gold material onto the felt rectangle and tuck the excess behind the felt. Pin all the way round.

5. Realise that you needed to center your words to the middle of the rectangle... unpin and re-position. Then repin! D'oh!

6. Tack the gold fabric into place using a needle and long stitches. You will be removing these tacking stitches later, so make them large so they're easier to remove.

7. Cut a piece of gold felt to the same size and pin this onto the back of your gold material & thick felt piece. You now have 3 layers.

8. Machine stitch the 3 layers together, with the 4 pieces of elastic slipped in between the layers - 2 at the shoulders and two for the waist. To work out where these should go, hold the 'ticket' up to your wearer and mark with a fabric pen or chalk onto the gold felt.

9. Cut another piece of the thick felt and another slightly larger piece of the gold felt. Pin the gold felt in place over the thick felt, with the edges tucked under at the back. Machine stitch these together.

10. Finally, line up the front and back piece of the ticket (on against your wearer if you have another pair of hands to help you, or you can lay them down flat on the table/clean floor!) and pin the 4 pieces of elastic into place on the back piece of the ticket. Stitch these on by hand, making sure you go over them a couple of times or by machine, but the whole costume might be a bit unwieldy by then to manage on the machine.

And Ta-Daaaa! You have a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket Costume and hopefully a very happy little (or big!) wearer!

I'd love to see any pictures you take from making this costume - or any of our other patterns!

Visit our Tutorials page for more ideas and makes.

Monday, 8 August 2016

How To: Felt Weaving - Rainbow Drinks Coaster Tutorial

Happy Summer Holidays!

We're currently enjoying a couple of weeks staying with the grandparents in Ireland, so beaches, lots of being spoiled by Nanny and board games contests are predicted in our futures!

While we're here, I wanted to share a tutorial with you for the 'Thank You' gifts the kids made for their teachers this year - Rainbow Felt Woven Coasters.

This is a great craft for kids of all ages and abilities as you can tailor the challenge to suit their capabilities. As we were short on time (having, as always, left the present making till the last week of term!) I did most of the hard work prep and the kids did the assembly.

You Will Need:

A square paper template (about 5" x 5")
1 piece of felt for the base
5 strips of coloured felts (about 0.75" wide and twice as long as as the square)
A heavy book.


1. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut 6 straight lines from top to bottom in your base piece of felt, starting 0.75" down from the top and stopping 0.75" from the bottom. Starting with the red piece (if you are using the same colours we did - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green & Blue/Purple) weave the red felt strip in and out of the base piece.

2. Continue with each felt strip, alternating under and over so you have a chequer board look. Wiggle each strip up tight to the one above so that all the strips fit into the base piece. Make sure you have a good length overhanging at each end.

3. Trim the ends, so that on both sides the felt strips match up to the base piece.

4. Add a dot of glue to the end of each strip to secure the felt in place to the base piece. Weigh the coasters down with a heavy book while the glue dries. (Preferably leave overnight) As you can see by the picture below, we tried to keep the ends in place with clips, but it leaves dents in the felt once dried, so the book technique was dreamed up after the first two coasters were made.

5. Wander off and leave Mummy to do all the clearing up!!

Hope you like this one - a great one to try with the kids over the holidays and good for stash busting!

We'd love to see any pictures of things you make from our tutorials, so please do send them to us at: simmi@gracesfavours.co.uk

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
Small amount of stuffing
Templates at the end of this tutorial


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!


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!

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