Saturday, 22 November 2014

Loving Christmas Pot Holder and Cute Snowflake Pebbles

I still cannot get enough of winter and I am so in a Christmas mood at the moment. Because it is Christmas, this is another double whammy blog with some super cute painted pebbles too!

Here are the images that are holding me captive at the moment...

I am also learning to crochet (I have been at it for just over two weeks and I am teaching myself so please be kind!). I wanted to make something really different this time and combine some of my favourite things. I love heart motifs and I love my crocheting so far and I am so into felt cutouts - one look at my elderly potholder in the kitchen and the answer suggested itself!

Here it is.....

And here are the pebbles....

Nordic inspiration, beautiful greys and the most perfect reds combining to make a very quick make which is easy too and very functional. The pebbles have a northern vibe too and the red and white theme features although you could do blue and white too.

Let's start with one thing at a time though. We will begin with the pot holder.

You will need to gather these supplies:
-a nice heavy yarn for the crochet bit. I used Wendy serenity super -chunky in a grey marl. Tarmac is the name that you are looking for.
a bit of red yarn for the edge.
-a square of red felt
-a wooden button
-a wooden button slightly larger than the red one
- a piece of red and white gingham fabric
-small piece of red ribbon
-pinking shears - mine are scalloped
-glue stick
-fray stopper
-water soluble marker
-perle 5 cotton: white
-Your usual sewing supplies.

Start with the crochet bit. I made a chain of 20 (expert crocheters please forgive me for this method of pattern writing- trust me, we will look back on this one day and laugh). The next bit was to crochet rows with double crochet (UK) or single crochet (US) until a square of roughly 19cm is achieved.

Take the red wool next and make a blanket stitch around the outside. This doesn't have to be super perfect as we are going for a rustic look but don't make it it messy. Block the square next by wetting it thoroughly and then squeezing the excess water out into a towel (don't rub though because we don't want felt). Shape it into a square and pin until it is dry. I used a computer mouse mat for this and then put it into the airing cupboard overnight. This is what it looks like so far....

It needs a little something though...a red heart is just the ticket! So, enter the heart diagram! 

When you print it off, it needs to be about 13 cm across the widest part. Transfer it to your fabric with the water soluble marker and cut the heart out. Lightly glue it to the felt square with the glue stick. 

We are going to leave the edges raw on this project but there are lots of alternatives if you want to take them. I am using a perle cotton in white to sew the heart on with a simple running stitch. But let's not get too far ahead! The first job is to pink around the edges of the felt....

To do this, simply follow the contours of the heart and try to get the pattern to match so that you don't have choppy bits.

Now lightly glue the heart motif to the crochet square using the glue stick. I am putting the button and the ribbon hanger in the corner so my heart will be on the diagonal....

Hold the image down with the flat of your hand to slightly warm and set the glue. This removes the need for pins so that you don't have unsightly marks. 
Here is what we have now....

As you can see, the stitching is quite subtle which is fine because to isn't supposed to be the feature in this case.
Cut a piece of ribbon about 15cm and then treat the ends with fray stopper. Tack it to the corner of the square and then sew the button on securely over the top....

I did add a small edelweiss flower to the heart too. Edelweiss is not a Christmas flower despite it being all over the place most of the time. It blooms in the summertime but I am a bit homesick and it looked so right...

Now it is the turn of the pebbles. Here they are again...

Now don't worry if you have never painted before. Firstly, you don't need very much kit so if you are buying from scratch, you will not break the bank. Secondly, the techniques are very simple. 
Here is the collection of what you will need to find....

You can see some unpolished river pebbles, some acrylic paint; I am using DecoArt Santa Red. You need some white paint (Snow White) and a couple of brushes. I have DecoArt Traditions 3/0 liner and a #12 flat brush. I also have  a stylus for making dots. To finish, I have some DecoArt Matt varnish to protect your masterpiece.

Firstly, paint the stones red and allow to dry. You may have to do this more than once. Allow to dry between coats. Use the #12 flat brush.

Now draw a snowflake design with a pencil onto the pebble. Here is an idea of the progression of the snowflake....

Start with the cross (liner) and add another over the top. This will be painted in white with the liner. Now you can use the stylus to make dots. To make a dot, dip the stylus into the paint and dab it onto the pebble. Repeat. Play with the sizes of the dots (brush or stylus) and remember that no two snowflakes are the same. Here are some variations...

Now varnish the pebbles with the matte varnish and the #12 brush and arrange them into a bowl or place them around the house to add bright spots for Christmas. I have carried the Nordic vibe a little further with a chunky crochet mat in grey marl. Add some wood with bark on to complement the look.

Well that was a long one! Thanks for staying with me and I hope that you all found something really nice to do with these Christmas crafts.

'Till next time...

Debbie xxx

Friday, 14 November 2014

Let It Snow!

Boy do I love the winter! Strictly speaking, we are not quite there yet but I am going to risk this one a little earlier and all the other snow bunnies out there will forgive me I am sure!

This has all come about after our recent hols in beautiful Hampshire. We rented a 16th century house and stayed for a week. Gorgeous!

And Christmas has come to our house in the form of some goodies from Sizzix! I have a new Big Shot now and many new dies to road test for you so we will be seeing lots of these in the coming weeks.

And why wait? I am going to use this wonderful kit right now!

Today we are making a banner with a pretty snowflake and some lettering. This is something that can adorn your house until springtime - in blues, grey and white, it doesn't scream Christmas at everyone so it will not be out of place in the dark months after our yule fest.

Here is a sneak preview....

This one couldn't be more straightforward to make and using a Sizzix Big Shot die cutter makes the lettering a breeze too. so what will we need?

You will need: 
a 40cm x 30cm  piece of plain grey fabric (linen or similar for some texture)
40cm x 30cm plain backing fabric
some white felt squares
a piece of blue felt
a small scrap of patterned fabric
dark blue perle 8 cotton
pale blue and white sequins
pale blue or grey sewing thread
pale blue grosgrain bow
fray stopper
dremel hot glue gun
sizzix big shot die cutting machine
snowflake  template
sizzix lollipop shadow letter die set
20cm pale blue grosgrain ribbon
30cm long stick with the bark still on
water soluble marker
glue stick

Seam allowance has been added already.

Okay so here we go. First of all, take the grey fabric and the plain backing and cut a pennant. Start with a rectangle 38cm x 25cm and then, with your water soluble marker, measure halfway across (12.5cm) the bottom and make a mark. Measure 10cm up on each side from the bottom and make a mark there too. This forms the point. 

Cut the point. You now have two pieces of fabric, the front and the back. Put the back aside for now.
Here is the pennant ready to be embellished...

Use the lollipop shadow die set to cut the letters to spell 'let', 'it' and 'snow' from the white felt. Put the letters aside.

Here is a template for your snowflake. 

Print it off (the size should be 7.5cm across the widest part. Trace around it onto your fabric scrap with the water soluble maker and then cut out. Use the glue stick to adhere the fabric snowflake to the piece of blue felt.

Position the snowflake in the centre of the pennant and adhere with the glue stick. Next, take some sequins and your hand sewing thread and sew the sequins onto the snowflake and the snowflake to the pennant at the same time.

Now take the letters that you cut earlier and position them around the snowflake so that they look pleasing - they can be straight, curved or higgledy piggledy. Hot glue them on...

So what is the difference between hot glue and a glue stick? A glue stick doesn't form a strong bond so it is better backed up with thread. use it when you want to anchor something when sewing which may be too small or awkward for pins. Hot glue can be used alone and no stitching is needed.  There you go! Mystery solved!

Take some more sequins and sew them at random like falling snowflakes around the central motif...

You will need some hanging tabs too so those go next. measure in 5 cm from each top corner and use about 12 cm of ribbon for each tab. Sew the tabs on by machine.

Now take the backing fabric and with the tabs tucked in and the fabrics right sides together, pin all around. Machine sew leaving a small gap for turning out. Clip across the corners to reduce bulk and tun out through the gap. Slip stitch the gap closed.

Thread a needle with the blue perle cotton and make a running stitch about 1/2 cm in from the edge, carefully rolling the side so that none of the backing fabric is visible.
Take  your grosgrain bow and treat the ends with fray stopper. Sew it to the point of the banner....

It is time to hang it up now. Choose a rustic stick about the thickness of your thumb or even thicker for a nice statement and thread it through the tabs. I like birch for this if I can get it. Tie some twine to the stick to hang. Keep it all looking rugged. The rough look of the wood, twine and linen contrast really nicely with sparkly refinement of the sequins.

Oh, by the way, I am not sure if you know but the best way to get creases out of linen is to spritz it with a very fine mist of water. You could iron until doomsday and scorch it before the creases go. A mist of water relaxes the fabric and the creases just vanish!

I couldn't get the right stick so I chose one which was pretty close and painted it white with one of DecoArt Americana's wonderful chalky paint finishes. I used lace which is an off white. Just give it a coat and allow to dry well before putting everything together.

Well here it is again hopefully if we all hang these out together, it will be a sure bet for a lovely white Christmas!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Dont' forget the competition running all this month; join my site and you can win a stamp set. The winner will be announced in my first blog for December. Here is what you can win...

Love and hugs

Debbie xxx

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Farewell Autumn Blog Giveaway

Hey there crafting friends!

Just for today, I want to do something different. I had a great response to my labels tutorial a couple of weeks ago - check it out in the archives under Autumn Pretties on this very page.

I thought that it might be nice to say farewell to the Autumn with a bit of a giveaway for you.

I have a beautiful set of stamps by Viva Decor and I would love for one of you to have them. They feature ten wonderful frames and this is just right for making your own tags and then adding dates and names in the middle. Here they are....

So how do you enter the draw? Easy peasy! All you have to do is join my site as a member (hit the blue Join This Site button in the top right column) during the month of November 2014 and your name will be chosen at random from that list. I will announce the winner on my first post in December. If you have any problems at all, let me know and I will help you out.

These stamps are a great addition to any paper crafting stash but sewists should consider them too as my labels tute shows. They are elegant and beautiful and super useful.

Join me and good luck!

Thanks for stopping by and see you next time.

Debbie xxx

Friday, 17 October 2014

Autumn Pretties, a special gnome and some homemade labels for your sewing.

A lot of people ask me all the time, why I left Australia and moved to England. 

Well there are many reasons and I may just get around to telling them all one day. For now, reason #267845 is the changes in the seasons. 

Where I lived in Australia, you could look out of the window at any time of the year and it would look the same! Have a look....

Nice landscape if you like that sort of thing but with none of the glories of Autumn that we get here in the Northern Hemisphere. And don't even get me started about the beauty of snow!

Now this is what I love! I have never liked gum trees anyway so I don't miss them. I love this colourful barometer of the seasons, I love the mushrooms in the woods and the closing of the year. Great crafting weather too and that is what we are all about so let's get on with it!

Firstly though, in the spirit of Autumn, I have been doing some felting and I came up with this little chap....

He is sitting on a piece of birch wood which my friend gave me (thanks Neil) and looks very in keeping with the time of year. I am still decorating the house and it is becoming transformed gradually. My gnome is perfect for a secret corner of a bookshelf. However, I digress!

I had a fantastic response from my fabric stamp tutorial and someone told me during the week that people buy labels and tags to put on their sewing projects! Oh no! This is so not necessary. Do you want to know how to make them yourself? Well read on! And before you do, here is a picture of what we are doing.....

First of all, you will need some plain cotton twill tape in various sizes, some white and some cream. This is really cheap and it comes in a few widths. Don't use bias binding which isn't the same and will give poor results. Get a Ranger Archival stamp pad in jet black and a selection of stamps. You guessed it...because it is Autumn, I am going to concentrate on Autumn themes. Some fray stopper is vital too and a sharp pair of scissors.

Finally, and this bit is purely optional, if you want to colour your labels, grab a few different shades of Tim Holtz Distress Markers and an ordinary #3 round paint brush. Here is the stash...

You can make either individual labels or a longer ribbon type. I will show you both.

Individual ones start with cutting the cotton tape to size and then treating the raw edges with fray stopper. This is important as this tape frays easily and quickly, taking your artwork with it so don't skip this step. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions. I got mine here.

If you are anything like me, the tape will be crunched up from being squashed into a way-too-small box so it would benefit from being shown an iron occasionally. Don't skip this step because the fabric behaves so much better if it is flat.

Now for the fun bit! Choose your stamp. This can be anything at all and I am only using Autumn ones because of the time of year. 
Consider the width of the tape when you choose a stamp. And look for a nice clear image stamp without too much extra detail. The tape has a little texture and it may not work out for you. If in doubt, practice!

As you can see, the stamps look very good and almost like printed labels. As I said though, some work better than others. You could possibly consider investing in a small alphabet and numbers stamp set too and then you can add your name, the season and a date to the work. The longer tape is simply an appropriate design repeated as much as you think is right.

But what about colour? For an item which is not going to be washed (the Distress Markers are water soluble ink), you can colour the stamps. Undo the pen at the brush end and tint the area not quite going all the way to the edge. Have a look at the heart...

As you can see, the colour is a little harsh. take the round brush and wet it. Lightly brush over the colour until it begins to 'melt'....

Better already! Don't go quite to the edge because of bleeding over the line....remember to colour in nicely! Now blot with a clean tissue while wet...

See how much softer the colour goes when blotted? The longer tape is good in bags and things like that. Here is the interior of a bag which is off to one of my magazines.

It lifts the whole project and makes it look very professional yet artisan. I like the idea of a bag that says hello to you when you open the flap!

You can get quite fancy with the colours too by the way. I used about three random Autumn colours on this tape and then blended them with the brush and water. It looks kinda neat!

Some practice and some inspiration means that you can create just about anything that you like. Here is the whole collection...

Sometimes stamps come free with a magazine and non papercrafters might give them away.... or even throw them away (shock, horror)! DON'T!!! Keep them and make them work for you!

Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope that this tutorial adds another useful angle to your work.
Love and Hugs

Debbie xxx