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Fabric flowers

Nowadays, a crafter is rarely just a sewist or a crocheter or a knitter – we may have several creative pursuits that satisfy different aspects of our personality. I love the speed and engineering element of sewing. But I also love the portability and flexibility of crochet. I’m also an enthusiastic knitter, a keen baker, a big fan of patterned paper and origami, a passionate cook, an occasional gardener, a keen puzzler, and much more.

I think it’s natural to feel yourself pulled towards a particular craft and away from others – in the past year, I’ve certainly felt pulled towards crochet and away from sewing. And I missed sewing. So I decided to take action, to give myself more sewing projects by becoming a contributor to The Sewing Directory.

I’m delighted to say that my first project is now live on the website – in fact, it’s not just one project but five! I put together a tutorial for making five different fabric flowers – you can see it here. There are so many different ways to make flowers out of fabric, it was hard to choose just five! So I took the selfish route and made the ones that I wanted.

As you might know, I’m getting married in April (this year!) so a lot of my making time is now devoted to crafting for the wedding. One of the items I’ve made is a wrap out of ivory chiffon, for me to wear on the day. I’d never sewn with chiffon before and to be honest, I totally ruined the first metre length I bought! It was only £3 per metre though so I just bought another metre. But that left me with a ruined metre, full of puckers and pulls, which I didn’t want to go to waste. So I decided to use it to make a gathered flower, which I’ll use somewhere on the day:

Chiffon flower

Chiffon flower

This became Flower 1 of 5, and I enjoyed the gathering technique so much that I made another one using a patterned green cotton fabric and attached it to a pipe cleaner stem – simple but pretty!

Flower 1 in cotton

Flower 1 in cotton

For Flower 2, I thought I’d try a simple technique that I’d seen around but never tried myself – chain piecing folded triangles of fabric. It worked really well, apart from the hole in the middle which has to be covered up – to make it a little more 3D, I stuffed the flower centre. Then I attached it to a barbecue skewer to form a stem – perfect for a little vase:

Flower 2 in pot

Flower 2 in pot

For Flower 3, I tried a technique that I’d seen during my time on Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine – it’s a clever way of joining a fabric flower shape to a piece of fusible web. The resulting appliqué flower is flat and ready to fuse onto another fabric. I decided to use it to brighten up this dress – remember it from this post?

Flower 3 on dress

Flower 3 on dress

After making this one, I felt confident enough to cut out a flower shape from another fabric and create a ready-to-fuse appliqué flower out of it. This particular flower shape is a little bit odd, but the technique is neat!

Before and after

Appliqué flower: before and after

For Flower 4, I went back to my stash and found some spare organza (also a wedding purchase) – this seemed a good choice for making flowers. This time, I cut the fabric into petals and had a little too much fun using a candle to shape them (I think maybe there’s a pyromaniac lurking in all of us):

Organza flower

Organza flower

And finally, Flower 5 is just a gathered and layered tube, which I’ve done before, but they’re so simple and satisfying to make:

Flower 5 gathered tube

Flower 5 gathered tube

I made these during the dull days of December and they really brightened up the place, without taking up much time. If you’d like to make any of these flowers, just check out my free tutorials on The Sewing Directory – and look out for some more of my free sewing projects on the website soon…

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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Sewing

 

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Make: Easy bunting

Today’s post is all about brightening up dark hallways, with super-easy tassels, pompoms and fringing – in the shape of this cute bunting I made back in July for Simply Crochet magazine…

Tassel bunting

Tassel bunting

Below is the free pattern to make this bunting – and it only involves the tiniest bit of crocheting so anyone can make it!

The only conditions are:
• Please don’t claim the design as your own.
• Please only make this bunting for your own personal use, NOT to make any money out of it.
• Please let me know if you make the bunting! Thank you 🙂

You will need
DK cotton yarn (or any yarn) in three different colours (I used Rowan Handknit Cotton DK, 100% cotton, 50g/85m, 1 ball of each: Blue John (365), Bee (364), Florence (350), Ecru (251))
A 4mm (US G/6) hook
Spare cardboard
Standard-size fork
One stitch marker
Tapestry needle

Measurements
Bunting string measures approx 2.5m
Tassels measure approx 7cm long, 1.5cm wide
Medium pompoms measure approx 4cm in diameter
Small pompoms measure approx 3cm in diameter
Tiny pompoms measure approx 1.5cm in diameter

Notes
You can adjust the length of the bunting to suit you. Make the tassels, pompoms and fringing in any size you like, and add as many as you like, using any combination of colours. Dig into your stash and see what you can find!

Make the tassels
Cut a piece of cardboard measuring 5cm wide and 7cm long. Make a 1cm cut on one of the short ends of the card.

Tie a knot in one end of your yarn and secure it around the slot. Wrap the yarn around the length of the card to the thickness you require. If you’d like to use more than one colour, knot the yarns together at the base of the card and carry on wrapping around.

Cut a small length of yarn and thread onto a needle. Pass the needle under the yarn wraps at the top of the cardboard and tie the two ends in a knot to secure. Cut through the bottom wraps of the tassel and snip off the starting knot.

Cut another length of yarn and wrap it tightly around the tassel, approx 2cm from the top, to form the head. Thread the yarn end onto a needle and insert it down inside the head wraps. Trim the end to the same length as the tassel. Trim the ends of the tassel to neaten the edges.

Make one tassel in yellow, one in orange and two in blue.

Make the medium pompoms
Draw a ring onto a piece of cardboard, 5cm in diameter, with a hole in the centre that’s 2cm in diameter.

Wind your yarn into tiny balls that are small enough to push through the narrow hole at the centre of your cardboard rings.

Hold the two cardboard rings together and wrap your yarn around them, threading it through the centre and working all around the cardboard until it’s covered by several layers of yarn.

Once the rings are covered, insert a pair of scissors between the two pieces of card and carefully cut the yarn around the edge of the rings. Try to ensure none of the yarn slips out of position as you do this.

Cut a separate length of yarn and knot it tightly around the middle of the bundle of yarn between the two rings. Ease the rings off the pompom and fluff up the yarn. Trim any uneven bits with scissors.

Make one medium pompom in yellow, one in orange and one in blue.
Trim into a spherical shape, approx 4cm in diameter.

Make the small pompoms
Use a standard fork to make the small pompoms. Wrap the yarn around the outer edge of all four prongs of the fork, the prongs should be approx 3cm apart. Then knot a length of yarn around the middle of the wraps. Cut into the loops on both sides and then trim into a spherical shape.
Make two small pompoms in yellow, two in orange and two in blue.
Trim into a spherical shape, approx 3cm in diameter.

Make the tiny pompoms
Use a standard fork to make the tiny pompoms. Wrap the yarn around three prongs of the fork, the prongs should be approx 1.5cm apart. Then tie a length of yarn around the middle of the wraps. Cut into the loops on both sides and then trim into a spherical shape. Make four tiny pompoms in yellow, four in orange and four in blue.
Trim into a spherical shape, approx 1.5cm in diameter.

Make the bunting string
Using Ecru and a 4mm hook, make a chain the length that you’d like your bunting to be. Fasten off and weave in ends.Then sew the tassels, medium pompoms and small pompoms in place onto the chain length.

This is what I did: Using Ecru and a 4mm hook, ch6, ss to first ch (to form hanging loop), ch50, join blue tassel in the last chain you made, ch25, join small orange pompom, ch25, join medium yellow pompom, ch25, join small blue pompom, ch25, join orange tassel, ch25, join small yellow pompom, ch25, join medium blue pompom, ch25, join small orange pompom, ch25, join yellow tassel, ch25, join small blue pompom, ch25, join medium orange pompom, ch25, join small yellow pompom, ch25, join blue tassel, ch50, place marker, ch6, ss to marked chain (to form other hanging loop). Remove marker. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Make the fringing
Cut eight lengths of Ecru yarn, approx 13cm long.
Take one length of yarn and fold it in half. Count 8 chains to the right of where you attached the blue tassel.
In the 9th chain, attach the first length of fringing yarn. To do this, insert a 4mm hook into the chain, loop the yarn length over the hook and pull back through the fabric. Pull the yarn through to make a loop next to the hook. Pass the ends of the yarn through this loop. Pull tight to secure.
Attach the remaining 7 lengths of fringing yarn in the next 7 chains.

Repeat this process in each gap between the pompoms and tassels (12 areas of fringing altogether).
Trim any uneven lengths of yarn for a neat finish.

Sew the 12 tiny pompoms to the bunting string, positioning each one at the centre of each fringing area. Attach the tiny yellow pompoms between the blue and orange decorations, the tiny blue pompoms between the yellow and orange decorations, and the tiny orange pompoms between the yellow and blue decorations.

Weave in any remaining ends and hang up.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Crochet, Other Crafts

 

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My super man

With the weather turning warmer recently, I’ve remembered how much I love shorts. My other half lives in shorts during the summer so he decided to get some new shorts recently, ready for the summer. We went shopping together and he struggled to find a pair that were the right fit and the length that he likes. There was a pair he liked but they were too long, so I offered to take them up for him.

Fortunately, this went well (and actually turned out to be good practise for taking up my own trousers!), and I felt confident enough to try making a brand new pair of shorts for him, using the Superman fabric that’s still hanging around in my stash.

Superman shorts

Superman shorts

The fabric is a very light cotton and quite see-through, so after some discussion, we agreed that they’d become pyjama shorts, rather than outdoor shorts.

So I traced over an existing pair of his pyjama shorts and used these shapes as templates. There was surprisingly little sewing to do, and the hardest part was working with the pattern of fist-pumping Superman motifs and getting it to look ok in a sensitive area of his anatomy…

The waistband was also tricky – we had quite a few fittings to get the elastic to be not too loose, not too tight, but juuust right.

Anyway, now that they’re done, he’s worn them a few times, but doesn’t want to risk ruining them by wearing them too much. I think that’s a good thing… isn’t it?

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Sewing

 

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Baby blanket

My cousin is expecting a baby in the first week of June, so I’ve been busy crocheting a baby blanket as a gift. Here it is finished…

Baby blanket is finished!

Baby blanket is finished!

It’s not particularly complicated, just some large, colourful squares of treble crochet (double crochet in the US), with contrasting double crochet edgings (single crochet in the US). The squares were joined in white with a double crochet seam, and the whole thing edged with more double crochet stitches.

Once that was done, it looked good, but I wanted to make it a bit more stimulating for baby and add a bit more character.

So I added the shapes, in bright yarn colours. The extra dimension is that I added something noisy underneath each shape!

Baby blanket top row

Baby blanket top row

On the top row, the red triangle has a crinkly plastic bag underneath it. Under the yellow circle is a little key inside a very slim, round memento holder (intended for scrapbooking) – it makes a satisfying rattle when you shake it!

Baby blanket bottom row

Baby blanket bottom row

On the bottom row, there’s a little bag full of seed beads underneath the green square, which sounds a bit like a maraca. At the centre of the cream flower, I attached a little bell very firmly – the jangle noise is very pretty and hopefully means my cousin will always be able to find it in the baby bag!

My hope is that they’ll be able use this when they’re out and about, either as a light cover-up (all the yarns are cotton) or a mini play mat to keep baby amused. Fingers crossed…

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Crochet

 

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Super-size crochet

I had the idea recently that I could create my own chunky yarn, by putting together a handful of yarns from my stash – perfect for some super-sized knitting or crochet.

I’d never done this before and to be honest, I wasn’t convinced that it would work. I’ve been pleasantly surprised though, by making this lovely little basket:

Bowl

Basket

Let’s back up a bit and start from the beginning. To make my yarn, I chose 8 balls of DK yarn that I didn’t mind ruining. I put them together to form a yarn that was around 1cm wide. I chose cotton-based yarns that would hopefully make something fairly sturdy. I also decided to stick to shades of one colour – I went for blue, which is not one of my favourite colours, but the combination created a gorgeous variegated look.

Now I had my yarn, I decided to crochet with it rather than knitting with it, because I figured that would create a firmer fabric. A chunky yarn obviously needs a chunky hook, so I was really pleased to be able to use my 15mm hook for the very first time!

I started by making a circle, to see how it went. It was a bit of workout to wield such a large hook and yarn, made up of 8 very slippery little strands! But the fabric it made was just brilliant. It’s soft yet firm and holds its shape really well.

I stopped at around 25cm in diameter (partly because it was around midnight!) and pondered over whether to continue growing the circle outwards to make a round rug, or grow it upwards to make a basket.

Eventually, I decided that a basket would be more useful and practical for me, and after a few upward rounds, the basket was big enough to hold the yarn I was using! Neat 🙂

I was determined to use up as much of the yarn as possible, so I kept going upward until two of the yarns ran out. At this point, it was a little too high to hold its shape so I folded it over, which worked well. And it means the bowl is flexible so it can grow to hold as much yarn as it needs to…

Bowl filled with yarn

Bowl filled with yarn

There’s still some leftover yarn from the project, so I’m now making some jolly little circles to decorate it with.

The stash-busting potential of doing this is great and I’m really excited about what sort of yarn colour I can create next, and what to make with it. Homewares are the obvious makes, but I’m also wondering about a chunky scarf, hat or slippers… any ideas?

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Crochet, Knitting

 

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Hug Me

Children are given so many toys, especially nowadays. And yet, most tend to have a particular favourite that they cherish over all the others. When I was a child, my absolute favourite toy was my teddy called ‘Hug Me’.

We were having a clear out in the attic recently and I found him! He’s a little bit battered (and stained), but even so, just one look at him brought back so many happy memories and made me feel all warm and gooey.

Here he is:

Hug Me

Hug Me

His neck needs a bit of sewing up, but this has always been a particularly fragile area – I remember my mum sewing up his neck several times, which was quite traumatic because it meant being without him overnight!

He was called ‘Hug Me’ for obvious reasons (the writing on his little sailor T-shirt) and he was a gift from my cousin Sally Anne when I was born, so I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t with me. I think she may have made him from a kit or in a special class at school – she was quite young herself when she made it (maybe 8 or 9) so he’s far from being symmetric, but I always liked that he wasn’t perfect.

He’s made of a very smooth cotton fabric, which feels cool when you first touch it, but gets warm and snuggly after hugging him for a while. And that’s mostly what I remember doing with him – hugging him and carrying him around with me, his head gently resting on my shoulder (maybe that’s why his neck was so fragile?).

It’s amazing to think just how much I loved this little teddy, and even more surprising for me is that my love for him hasn’t faded – he still means so much to me.

I’ve decided that he’s not going back in the attic – instead, I’ve given him a special place to sit in my craft room, so he can watch what I’m doing. Maybe… hopefully… he’ll help me while I’m crafting little teddies and other creatures for my nieces and other children in the family, who might love these teddies as much as I’ve loved Hug Me…

Do you have a story to share about your favourite childhood toy?

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Sewing

 

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