Friday, 16 March 2018

Oooh! Warm hugs!

Did you know that most aches and pains are better treated with a warm rice pack? Better than reaching for the tablets although they too have their place.

A real pain to photograph but you will see it better as we go along!

And rice packs are easy to make, take next to no materials and they are great gifts and craft fair sellers too. All good!

Quick to make and great for gifts.

You can fill them with things other than rice but rice is cheap and easily found. It heats in the microwave in 1-2 minutes too and provides the bearer of the aches and pains a wonderfully soothing warm hug. 

REALLY addicted to putting text on things using die cuts.

Wheat is popular and some people like to use dried beans - I favour a smaller particle though because it moulds to your body a bit better and the more of this wonderful warmth in contact with the afflicted part, the better.

I work on my own so I don't have a model but you can see how this is just full enough to curve nicely.

Now I wanted to de-medicalise this make as much as possible! It is supposed to be a bit more fun so make sure you choose some pretty fabrics and then, for the piece de resistance....a bit of fanfare please...we are going to add die cut words to make you smile every time you use it! That last bit is also important because a smile starts the flow of endorphins (feel good chemicals) and they are pain relieving too.

Just what is needed

So what do we need this time?
-30cm strip (12") pretty and light coloured fabric. I am using a gorgeous mustard yellow (the current favourite colour) fabric from the Essentials II collection by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics (Hantex)
-F8th H630 iron on wadding (Vlieseline)
-black iron on fabric or plain black solid fabric and a good quality fabric glue*
-10cm black and white ribbon (Berisfords)
-uncooked rice
-Sizzix Big Shot manual die cutting machine
-Sizzix Bigz XL alphabet die #662707A Cutout by Tim Holtz
- your usual sewing needs.

* make sure that whatever product you choose, it is microwave safe! To use something like an iron on foil could damage your microwave. If in doubt, choose the fabric and glue option. 

Not much needed and no template either!

Right! To business then....
Begin by cutting two rectangles from your fabric 12cm wide x 60cm long (4 3/4" x 23 5/8") and fuse the H630 wadding to the wrong side of each.

This wadding is just enough to make the pad feel luxe and help it to keep its heat too.

Using a round object, round the corners....

The larger your round object, the gentler the curve to sew around!

Now cut out your letters. These can spell anything at all but I have decided on 'ooh Warm hugs!'.

A good die cutting machine is a real must have tool. Put it on your birthday list :-) 

Lay the letters onto one of the interfaced rectangles next so that they are well centred and make sense.

To get the placement right, find the centre of the rectangle and then the centre of the centre word and build from there. If you are not good at getting things straight, go deliberately wonky.

There wasn't actually an exclamation mark in the set so I die cut the I and then just snipped the end off.

When you are happy with the layout, iron or glue the letters on.

Once you have peeled the protective film off the letters, they will be soft and flexible.

Take the little piece of ribbon and fold it in half to make a loop tab and attach it to one end.....

Adore black and white with mustard!

Now with the right sides together, pin and sew the two rectangles, leaving a turning gap on one long side. Clip the edge curves to reduce bulk there...

Careful not to cut the stitches!

Turn out through the gap. Fill 2/3 full with rice and then close the gap.

Don't over fill with rice because ideally for the beneficial effects to be felt, this has to have a lot of contact and if it is too full, it will be a bit too rigid to cover properly.

Don't fill so much that it cannot fit around a curve like a neck or over a knee.

And that's it! I did say simple and fast!

Would make a nice draft excluder too :-)
Thank you for stopping by and I will have something else for you very soon! I am working on some faux pottery effects on upcycled jam jars so that could be the next thing....

I used a few things in this make that are quite special and to find them, here are a few useful addresses...

Vlieseline from  Six Penny Memories - Tel: 01207-565728 and  Lady Sew and Sew, 0162 8890532, ,

Hantex: For further details & stockists information please visit or telephone: 01453 883581.

Sizzix from   0844 499 8181 or 44 (0) 845 345 2277 outside UK

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Creating Faux Rust

Possibly let it ice would be more use :-)
I love faux finishes. Especially when they are easy and quite convincing. And it makes me laugh inwardly that I am creating rust when I remember how long my father spent removing it from things. He wasn't a crafter though!

Sometimes it only needs a little detail...
Well, I am having a bit of an in love moment with rust this Christmas. It is something that you may not have thought of adding to your cards at this time of the year but do bear with me.

It is a lovely textural element.
This is a great upcycling project and do save your cereal boxes for the cardboard. It is the best thing ever. I have done today's demo on a piece of white card stock and I did encounter problems and I did fix them so I will show you that too.

It is quite convincing - I think that my Dad would be getting his steel wool out!
You will need a manual die cutting an embossing machine. I use a Sizzix Big Shot and various embossing folders and dies.

Loving this outdoorsy theme!
I have used DecoArt products to create this rust including a surprise addition which I think that you will like.

Have to have a deer in there somewhere.
Okay, so what do we need to get together for this?
-DecoArt Chalk Finish Medium (this will help to keep the paint very matte)
-DecoArt Patent Leather paint: black
-DecoArt Americana acrylics: payne's grey, russet, georgia clay
-DecoArt Metallic Lustre: black shimmer
You will also need: toothbrush or splatter tool, rags, an older brush, general painting needs

The snow flurry is a great way of making the background details recede.
Before we start, let me introduce the surprise ingredient in this project. Patent Leather paint. That's right! This is a brand new product and it is actually for painting shoes to change their colour. I don't have patent leather shoes so I went exploring with this and I found that it dries shiny (as you would expect) and holds a shape so if you splatter it, when it dries, it holds a shiny splatter shape - perfect for the look of corrosion on metal!

You can see the dried paint in this shot. The first time I used it, I forgot that it was supposed to be shiny and kept looking at it thinking, hmm, shiny equals wet! Duh....
Begin by die cutting and embossing some shapes. I am working on a flat panel which will become the back of a card. I have used plain white card stock for this to see how it would go.
Mix a blob of payne's grey with an equal amount of chalk finish medium and coat the card or shape all over.

I apologise for the appalling photography, it is the time of year here in Europe and there was no natural light!
At this point, I saw that there was a difference between the card boards once they are slightly wet by the water content in the paint even though they felt the same to begin with. Chip board and cereal packet will keep the shape of the embossing pattern. White card will not /(well the one that I had wouldn't). Don't worry though, simply re emboss when the black splatters are dry.

I was working on a few things for this technique. On the flat panel, the splatters will look exactly the same. Watch this space for cards using these shapes too!
So next come the splatters, use the black Patent Leather paint and go in really liberally all over. To get a corroded spot, don't move the splatter tool; concentrate the effect in one spot. This marvellous paint will hold the shape quite well.

If you need to, re emboss at this point. Then go in with russet paint. don't make it a complete coverage this time and be ready with a wet wipe and wipe the paint here and there off the background....

Sorry about the change of motif again (blame the light conditions). But don't worry, the technique is exactly the same.
Next comes georgia clay. This is the one where you will see the embossing relief clearly. Once again, have the wet wipe ready and wipe most of the paint off so that it is really only a highlight.

The technique tip is: paint all over and then wipe the excess off. Knowing what to leave and what to remove is the key and this only takes a bit of practice. If you get it very wrong, simply repaint with the first coat and start again.
The lighter orangey brown really shows the embossing pattern nicely.

Lastly it is time for some finger painting! Rub some of  the Metallic Lustre onto some of the high points of the embossed pattern so that you have a graphite effect...

As you can see, each successive layer has to be slightly less than the previous one so that you don't just paint over the piece completely.

Subtle is the word with this. Go slowly and add more as needed. Be ready with the wet wipe to remove the excess.

As you can see, all of the previous layers are still visible but only here and there.

Have a look at some of the other Christmas shapes that I have been working on and you can see how realistic and versatile it is...

On the poinsettia and the deer, I have only used a general but small scale die. The snowflakes are matching die and embossing folder sets. As you can see, it doesn't matter so if you don't have matching sets. just opt for a small motif with plenty of repeats.

You can see my random embossing choices better here. It is not necessary to emboss but it does give you something to work with.

Here are some more examples of what the effect looks like in the 'wild'...

The rusty look looks really nice with outdoorsy themes and it gives wonderful texture.

and a bit of a close up...

This is a random, small scale embossing folder used on cereal packet card.
and another one..

Deer look great with a random embossing pattern and rusty finish.

Do have a go at this fun technique. You can use it on so many different things. Honestly, cards are only the beginning!
See you next time
love Debs

Friday, 27 October 2017

Wicked & Cruel Halloween Card

Deep and dark Victoriana.
To my eternal disquiet, no country that I have even lived in (Australia and the United Kingdom) or been very close to (Germany) has even done anything with Halloween on the fun scale that America does. Oh yes, US of A, you know how to throw a national party!

Well, I am wondering how to get around this. I love the imagery around Halloween and I love the ideas and the whole thing - except for the over indulgence in sugar as I said in a previous post. Sugar is wicked in a way that a wicked witch can never be!

Where did all that blood come from - the stuff that Victorian penny dreadfuls are made of!
I have decided (my own opinion so please feel free to disagree) that if we do Halloween at all here in the UK, a Victorian baddie must feature. We don't have the witch culture so much but we do have the Victorian poisoner. The Dracula imagery and of course, that eternal favourite of mine, Steampunk which lends itself beautifully from time to time to darker images. 

All very well to point the finger of blame at the raven.
So I am hijacking these things to make a British Halloween card, the way that I interpret what we do. We don't have the house to house trick or treating so much but we do have living history. You can walk through places that look like a living Disneyland. Except they are not. The magic here is very real and the old shops really were old shops and they have been trading since way back when.

Halloween Britisher style - telling the story.

Halloween is real and it is really happening. And here, without further ado folks, is my take on a British Halloween card!

Ink with Tim Holtz Distress Inks and then blend, blend, blend.
I started with a piece of white card stock cut just a bit smaller than needed and inked it with distress inks in old paper, pumice stone and scattered straw with blotches of shabby shutters and crushed olive. Then I blended them together and added a spritz of water.

Next came the blood splatters which was a liberally watered down DecoArt Americana acrylic paint in a suitable red. Make this really watery and flick at random (being prepared for it to go everywhere).

A Christmas stencil was even pressed into active service for the stars in the background! Nothing is off limits!
I embossed the side with a flourish and then highlighted that with wild honey distress ink. Tying it all together is an application of black soot ink on the card edges. Make this a bit random.

Stamps next with three shady looking gentlemen, some words, text and an accusing finger. Ranger archival ink in this in jet black and boy do those foam stamps (for the word Never) work beautifully! They give such a dense saturation of colour!
I had some remnant rubs too for the 13 and oct.

Always be prepared to mix fonts. Here I could not fit the whole word 'nevermore' with the foam stamps so I swapped to a smaller courier font. You still get the idea and nothing is lost.
Time to bring out the dies next and I resurrected  an old favourite raven. It is a great Tim Holtz one (Raven and Scaredy Cat) and  splatter him too. He is just cut from black card stock.

The raven sings 'nevermore' eternally.
The card needed a sentiment of some sort and for inspiration, I used the classic Victorian shop sign idea of two names which could mean something else. In this case, my fictional undertakers Messrs Wicked & Cruel should have rethought the name of their business!

Wicked was cut from a Halloween words die straight onto brown card stock and cruel was actually the Gothic foam stamps again and this time embellished with Ranger Glossy Accents.

The paper on the word background was a little boring so it was a good opportunity to add some more stamps in the steampunk and Halloween style and a bit of silver glitter paper behind the '&' to draw the eye.
I matted the main picture with some grungy brown paper and then the whole lot onto some more grungy brown paper and added some machine stitching as a nod to my day job.

Brown (Tim Holtz would be pleased to know) is an essential feature of Victorian imagery. It is a great default and works well with black.
Finally, Victorian undertakers and the like were awfully fond of black crepe bows on their hats and bits and pieces so I found some faux silk ribbon (bought for making silk roses way back in the day and never used - see I told you not to throw anything away!). It was a nice shade of dark purple which was almost there but a few drops of alcohol ink made it a nice funereal black.

When I dyed the ribbon, I deliberately left some purple bits. The result is quite sinister.
I tied The ribbon in a bow on the side of the card, reminiscent of the crepe mourning bows on hats and carriages.

All of the elements together add up to a sinister story about back alley proprietors and shady goings on behind closed doors. if ever there is a suspicious body to dispose of....Messrs Wicked & Cruel can be relied upon to not ask questions.
The whole card is very Edgar Allen Poeish. His name appears in the top left corner and Nevermore is the utterance of the bird in Poe's narrative poem The Raven.

I love things that tell a story and are full of imagery so this sort of Halloween card is perfect for me!

Don't want to give it away now!
I hope that you like it too and will be inspired to make something dark and dreadful (in a good way!) for Halloween.
This project has used mainly Tim Holtz and Ranger products although I paid for them myself and no requests or payment have been made to me by either company. I use this stuff because I love it!
See you soon!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Autumn is Here - Let's Nest!

The beautiful forest in Norfolk. Seriously, what could be better!?
Boy oh boy do I love this time of the year! One of the main reasons that I left Australia for cooler climes on the other side of the world was the seasons. Bless Oz but you can look out of a window in some places and January looks the same as July. 

Beeches are my favourite. It used to be oaks until I was more exposed to beech forests.
And the seasons are all swapped around - Christmas comes in the high summer and trust me when I say, very few people do the beach barbie thing. No we opt for a traditional roast with all the trimmings in the heat - one of the trimmings is flies.

I have always had a fascination with mushrooms in the wild!
Nasty. No, I want seasons and I want to live where things happen like they should. And now we have one of may favourite times of the year. Autumn!

Oh wow, what a pop of colour
My friends are doing nesty things making jam and chutney and foraging in the hedges for blackberries. Halloween is looming and I am itching to make a Halloween card and I have just the friend to give it to. Halloween is sadly not big over here in England but I still love the imagery.

I think that we have to agree that Norfolk is a bit nice :-) 
I have been making cards and crocheting at night in front of the fire and I have been thinking about warm toasty toes which brings me to felted slippers!

Not begging for Christmas....honest 😀
Now this is a great upcycle make so if you have a woollen jumper or can find one in a charity shop, all you have to do is to machine wash it on the hottest setting  with detergent and it will really shrink down. Throw a couple of tennis balls into the wash and that will help things along. This is the quickest way to make felt. And the hotter the wash the better!

Look at those colours!
I made mine from a beautiful scarf that my Mum made me. I loved the colours and the purest of wool but it really ate my neck. In the end, I had to give up wearing it. So I asked my Mum if she would mind if I made it into something else. Predictably she said yes so I started thinking about slippers.

If you do not have a jumper or a scarf, grab some felting wool (often called by the German name of Filtz wolle) and then either knit or crochet a giant rectangle. Remember that it will shrink a bit and you are better off to have some left over. Then felt your giant rectangle as described above.
This is a very simple pattern and here is the template that I designed. They are cut quite high on the instep because otherwise, they can slip off but don't worry, there is plenty of stretch.

The part of the upper where you put your foot in is cut deliberately small because it is easier and better practice to cut this to fit. It is easier than putting it back I found!
Measure your foot and have a play with the sizing. Please forgive me but I do not have a printer and everyone's feet are a little different anyway so the best way is to have a play and when the pattern fits your feet, it is the right size. This is what I do just in case the computer has done something awful to my sizing! I am a UK size 6 and these fit with some ease.

Looking more like a Norman helmet now!

My scarf wasn't very wide so I cut two uppers and joined them with a zig-zag stitch. If you have more room to work you could just cut on the fold if your fabric isn't too bulky.

My original design was cut too low on the instep so I redrew them higher up. You can cut lower though and because felt doesn't fray, it is up to you how low your go. I just cut an extra piece and secured it into the gap with some cross stitches. These slippers are very forgiving! I have drawn the pattern with the higher cut already there so that you don't have to guess.

Cut the foam interfacing a wee bit smaller than the the leather and wool sole layers. It looks a bit unsightly peeking out from the side of the soles when you are finished.

The soles were a mixture of leather on the bottom, some style-vil foam interfacing (Vlieseline) and then some wool felt for the inner lining.
You don't need to line the slipper itself.

Place the upper onto the sole and then sew the edge. Here again, the felt will not fray and it looks quite nice to have the edges exposed and unfinished. Just give them a trim.

I made a leather layered flower for the instep too- This is a lovely Sizzix die from Tim Holtz (Tattered Florals) and it cuts beautifully through the leather. 

You can see my Frankenstein style stitching where I made the instep higher too. Oh the joys of designing! Any other time, I might have just discarded the uppers but my Mum made me this scarf so every little bit was precious. At least it shows that most mistakes are fixable!

A snowflake button completed the picture.

So toasty toes now and Autumn can throw all of its beauty my way!
I am off to make Halloween cards now.

See you next time