Saturday, 23 February 2013

Woodland Animals & Vintage Suitcases

The loose colour scheme for our wedding is orange and brown (and any other autumnal colour I fancy throwing in), and the idea is that there will be some pumpkins lying around, so I thought it would be quite cute to have tiny, bright white woodland creatures dotted around to add a bit of contrast. Woodland creatures also feature on the invitations etc so they aren't completely random, it's all a bit rustic! So I bought a bunch of little plastic toys and spray painted them white (and a few gold). I think they look quite effective. Admittedly some do have 'made in china' on their sides, but that's just the classy kind of look I'm aiming for! 
And the award for the dullest blog image ever goes to... a reel of copper wire is frightfully dull, but it's also very important, it means I can get on with flower making! Hurrah! 
I've also been taking on those vintage suitcases I bought a while ago. Aside from the big rip, the paper inside looked a little like a troubled child's expressive scribble, not exactly cheery. So we raided Paperchase for some bright (and a little bit retro) paper (below). There was some measuring and rulers involved initially, but you can only do so much with bent and warped suitcases, in the end I just had to shove the paper in and try and make it fit. It isn't my neatest work ever, but it will do the job. Both cases look much happier now. I know some people are a bit over suitcases at weddings, but they are so useful, and I think they look neater than a box wrapped in paper with a slot cut out, and more individual than actual little postboxes.

So now it is back to petal making. I have a jar full of cut squares ready for folding, and another jar slowly filling up with folded petals that will then need to be glued... and then the process will undoubtedly start again. Fingers crossed I have enough by October! 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Book Review: Happy Stitch

I'm not much of a textile girl, I can't knit or crochet, and I don't own a sewing machine. All I've ever really managed to do is a bit of basic hand sewing (whilst making fifteen embroidered felt brooches for a hen party last year). So Happy Stitch, with its fun and simple projects, sounds like the ideal book for me.

My first impression was that this was a craft book full of projects to make for children, because the cover is so bright and and fun. It isn't however, it's for ladies that have a penchant for all things cute. It includes thirty felt and fabric projects, all of which are bright, graphic, and bold, and perfect for any sewing beginner. 
Each project offers a full page image of a completed item or two, an introductory paragraph, numbered step-by-step instructions, and a series of corresponding numbered photos. The instructions are very clear but detailed, so you shouldn't be left feeling confused, or with unanswered questions halfway through a project, as you can with some craft books. The accompanying photos are also very clear, with some projects simple enough to follow by looking at the images alone. There is also a huge amount of templates provided at the back of the book, that you can enlarge and use to cut out all the felt pieces you might need for any of the projects. 
Project images seem to mostly feature young adult women, and although I think most projects would appeal to women of a wide age range, there are a couple of items that seem slightly too immature. I'm personally left a little perplexed by the Mini Mushroom Bag, although I imagine my nine year old niece would love it. I'm not sure whether that says more about the book or my personal tastes though, maybe I need to lighten up a little.
The projects cover all sorts of items, from accessories and clothing, to soft toys and homeware. As with most project books, a majority of ideas are winners, and there is only a small number that don't quite hit the mark. For example Jodie's popular Owl Gadget Cozy is both useful and endearing, as are the Mini Softie Keychains. Other items however, such as the Doodle Skirt, feel like it could have been a brilliant idea if the design had been developed a little further. I also felt like the Geometric Wall Hanging was a little under-inspiring, and could have been more effective turned into some kind of contemporary tea cosy or cushion, rather than just a hanging. 
Happy Stitch is packed with lots of different items, which offers great variety, but a couple feel like fillers, and I wonder if rather than trying to fit Jodie's work into another alternative item, it wouldn't have been better to provide more than one design for some more of the items, as with the Softies: Nesting Doll, Fox and Owl. For example I found the Cookout Kitchen Wall Hanging cute and quirky, but I'm not sure I'd make it for my house (I certainly don't have room for it in my kitchen), where as the Dala Horse Wall Hanging that Jodie is currently selling in her Etsy store is gorgeous, and would work in almost any room.
Although it may sound like Im being a little critical, there are also plenty of projects in here that I really, really like. Aside from the Cute Owl Gadget Cosy and the Softies that I've already mentioned, there are also a couple of pretty embroidered Tote Bags (for which there are two designs for you to enlarge and trace at the rear of the book), bold, modern Tulip Placemats and Leaf Table Runner (that I think would look great either in a white minimalist kitchen, or funky playroom), and a Vintage Style Half-Apron (although I would choose different fabrics). 
Happy Stitch is a fantastically fun book, a hit with any girl or lady with a sunny and positive disposition, that doesn't take themselves too seriously. It would be wonderful for anyone fairly new to crafting that would like plenty of achievable tasks to get stuck into. It's a great source for anyone seeking inspiration for making gifts, and would make a great joint read for mums and daughters seeking activities to do together. It would also be very useful for those that need to use up that secret stash of felt that they have been doing nothing with for years; come on, I can't believe that I'm the only one with a stash! 

Happy Stitch
Jodie Rackley

RRP: £14.99 Available from all good booksellers, including: (£11.98)

North Light Books

ISBN-10: 1440318573
ISBN-13: 978-1440318573

Please note that I was given a copy of this book, but was not paid to write this review.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Cup Of Tea & A Catch Up

So it isn't just wedding prep that has been keeping me busy for the first 8 weeks of the year (although that has played a large part), there have been other crafty goings on. My friend Anna was given the green light to move to Australia, so I made a goodbye and good luck card. It's not he most obvious goodbye card, I should probably explain that Anna has Japanese roots, and loves pandas and cherry blossom.
My friend Rachel and her family moved into their very own home for the first time, so I made her a card to celebrate!
My fiance turned 34 so I made him a card. This one was a little ambitious and a tad optimistic. You will be forgiven for not being able to work out what is going on in the middle, but you try cutting out a discworld being held up by elephants, standing on top of a turtle surrounded by stars! Fiance is a big Terry Pratchett fan! 
It was Valentines Day last week, so obviously I made a card for my fiance for that too. As well as Pratchett, he is also a big fan of Professor Brian Cox, and the impression of him made on Channel 4's Very Important People. Apologies for the use naughty words! 
I'm trying to not bake this year because I need to get into my wedding dress. This makes me sad. So far, however, I've failed. I had some dried fruit that needed using up, so I HAD to make Mary Berry's Bara Brith... twice. It was very tasty. I've also set myself a challenge. I received Mary Berry's Baking Bible for Christmas, so to make up for not using it much this year, after we are married I plan to go through the book making every recipe. I won't be setting myself any kind of time limit, as I've worked out that even if I do one a week it could take about 5 years - eek. It's possible that I've bitten off more than I can chew (bah awful food related pun), but I'm determined. I've been through the index, choosing recipes alphabetically, then going back to A, and continuing through until I ran out of letters and recipes. There is going to be a lot of chocolate towards the end! I'm looking forward to it though, I'm going to be facing all those recipes you usually flick by because they look too hard, or don't have a photograph. 
I've had a bit more time to play with polymer. I wanted to make some more animals, but the first attempt led to a whole afternoon of me smooshing clay up and getting a bit hulk like. I did discover the colours below though, and paused mid angry rant, to appreciate how pretty they were. 
Eventually, with fresh eyes, fingers and patience that arrive with a new day, I managed three bears (bears should always come in threes), and a sea lion (you can tell because he has external ear flaps). I still need to finish them, but that will have to wait for now. 
Oopsy it looks like I baked again. Okay this really was the last time I had planned to don a pinny before October 12th! Honest!
My fiance didn't want a normal birthday cake, he isn't a fan of icing and buttercream (weirdo), he didn't even want candles, but he got them anyway (and secretly I think he really liked them). It was a honey and walnut cake, it looked a bit caught, but it tasted fine, I'm putting it down to a high sugar content (sugar and honey). It wasn't burnt it was caramelised! I also baked up some ginger and chocolate snowman cookies: that we had been given as a mix for christmas, but hadn't had time to make, and some snickerdoodles (I may have also baked a second batch of snickerdoodles because we ran out so quickly) ;). 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Rose Heads & Pretty Jars

I've been taking a little break from making flowers over the last week and a half, but there have been other wedding related things going on. Our hessian rose heads arrived from Accents and Petals, they are so effective, I just need to work out how to get them on a stem! 
I have also worked my way through our collection of jars, rewashing and trying to make sure all the glue has been removed, with a little help from my friend bicarbonate of soda. Then I had to cut paper inserts, cutting leaf shapes out for the light to pass through. Oh don't worry, they won't catch fire, we are using LED candles. Fingers suffered a fair bit, all sores and blisters, as each jar took about and hour to cut, ouch! The jars will also need to be finished with a ribbon.