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

Sunday, 12 October 2014

I love Autumn so much!

I have two things for you this time - liver bones for your favourite doggy fur baby and some fabric pumpkins to decorate the house.

Ready? Well here they come! First of all, liver bones...

And then the pumpkin for a Halloween display......

If the pumpkin is your thing, scroll down, it is just underneath the recipe.

But first, let's get baking! These bones are healthy and the dog loves them. Bliss!

Gather these supplies:
225g finely processed chicken liver
4 tablespoons dried herbs
2 eggs
400g (or thereabouts) spelt flour
100g ground hazelnuts. Pulse these to leave some slightly larger pieces.

Find a bone shaped cutter too. They are available all over the place where baking things are to be found. I found mine here.

Now you will notice that I have said or thereabouts when mentioning the flour. Make sure that you have enough on hand to make a dough that doesn't stick to everything like glue. You can add more of this flour until you have the right consistency. Just add a little at a time - you cannot take it out!

Preheat your oven to moderate and line a  tray with baking paper.
Mix all of the ingredients together well until you have a non sticky dough. wrap the dough in clingfilm and then rest it in the fridge for half an hour.

Roll the rested dough out on a well floured surface and then cut the biscuits out with your bone shaped cutter...

As you can see, the bone shaped cutter makes all the difference!

Lay the biscuits onto the prepared tray and then bake for about 30 minutes, slightly longer if you want crisper biscuits. As you can see, mine a quite floury. This is easier to handle and looks nicely artisan. The dog likes it too!

Not a terribly patient person! Well, okay, let's get on with it then Sally!

Cool the biscuits on a baking tray with a strong and established armed guard - one which doesn't include the dog...

The fluff monster is hovering. Keep your cooled biscuits in a sealed tin. A small dog may prefer you to break them up a bit. I include one with Sally's dinner but they make a good treat too.

And that is all there is to it! Now I promised two posts didn't I? It occurred to me the other day while I was walking in the woods that the animals are decorating for Halloween...

This was a reasonably freshly dug burrow and the leaf just set it off beautifully. So. What can we make? I think that pumpkins are just the thing. Made from your favourite fabrics in Autumn colours, they can be made in different sizes and piled up as a display.

Here is what we are aiming for.....

So what do we need? Well for a start, we have to find some fabrics, a stick, some wire and some stuffing. You need a button for the bottom too and a hot glue gun is really handy  - I cannot live without my Dremel.
Make the stick match the size of pumpkin that you are aiming for. Here is the selection that I have come up with...

Halloween things can be a bit grungy and a bit prim so I have opted for muted shades in my fabric selection. My button is brown and the wire is rusty. The stick is a thumb thickness piece of a twisted willow in my garden.
The pumpkin is made from 6 sections like the one in the picture below. You can either make all of the sections different for a patchwork effect or all the same. It is up to you. Here is the basic pattern piece.

You can reduce or enlarge the pattern piece as you like. If you are a beginner, don't go too small because sewing can be a bit of a trial if it is too fiddly.

Cut the sections of the pumpkin from your fabrics and then, with the right sides together, sew the sections. Leave a gap in the top for turning out and for stuffing.

And here is what it looks like turned the right way out.

Half done!

Stuff well and then sew the top closed, leaving just a small (your stick sized) hole in the top. 

As you sew, attach the button to the base and draw the pumpkin in a little to contour the shape. An extra long doll needle is really useful here.

Your pumpkin should look like this now....

And from the bottom...

Prepare the wire next. Cut about 30cm of wire and wind it around a pen, pencil or chopstick like this...

Notice the I have left a little 'tail'. Then pull it off the stick and pull it out, curve it and make it look a little more natural....

Heat the hot glue gun and glue the stalk and the wire into the centre hole. The tail on the wire pokes into the pumpkin.

et voila! We have a pumpkin! Make a pile in different sizes and heap them up for a really nice Autumn display - who says that Christmas has to have it all!

I hope that you have enjoyed this quite long post! Thank you so much for stopping by and don't forget to leave a comment.
Hugs and kisses