Saturday, 30 January 2016

Elephants :: Cross Stitch

When I received the December Lucky Dip Club box I was thrilled that it included a cute cross stitch kit by Tea and Crafting. I haven't cross stitches for years, but was an avid cross stitcher in my youth, spending my pocket money on cross stitch magazines and supplies. Subsequently I graduated to other crafts but cross stitch is such a fun and easy craft to do. To celebrate my return to cross stitching here are some elephant cross stitch patterns I found on Pinterest this month.

Cross stitch elephants college :: Embellished Elephant

1. The simple geometric outline is very effective in this pattern.
2. This colourful floral elephant is beautiful and very intricate.
3. Another geometric design but this one makes use of a range of colours to create a real impact.
4. The repeating design is very unusual and would work well on a cushion cover.
5. Large cross stitches make up this simple design.
6. Another intricate design creating a beautiful elephanty effect.
7. This pattern filled elephant could be created using a range of colourways to suite any room.
8. I love the water spray patter that fills the interior of this elephant and calf.
9. A cute elephant family pattern that would be perfect for a nursery wall.

For more elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.
All links above are to Pinterest as some of the items pictured may no longer be available at their original link.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Review :: Make Arcade Felt Cactus

Back in November I headed to Brick Lane to Renegade Craft Fair. While I think it is a brilliant event, I found it stiflingly hot and very busy. I potentially may have possibly perhaps drunk a little bit too much the night before which may not have contributed to my general feeling of well being and may have impacted my enjoyment of my trip. All I'll say is don't drink and shop.

Anyway, the purpose of that little story, apart from the cautionary tale, is that while I was there I picked up a felt cactus kit from the Make Arcade. I bought it for myself as a treat but when my other half was struggling to figure out what to get me for Christmas he bought off me so he could wrap it and give it to me as a Christmas present. Yep I'm a very understanding girlfriend, no I don't ever get bought flowers.

So despite purchasing it a couple of months ago. I only actually had it in my possession since the big day and only started making the cactus after all the familial duties that come with Christmas had been completed.

The Make Arcade Felt Cactus Kit Review :: Embellished Elephant
Photo: The Make Arcade

So enough about me. What do I think about the kit?

The kit comes in a plain card box with a colourful slip cover. The packaging and instructions were professionally printed on good quality paper. The instructions included all the templates for the project and these were colour coded so it was obvious which shapes you'd need to cut out of each colour of felt. However, the instructions were folded in order to fit into the box and that meant it was difficult to get the templates to lie flat.

The steps were easy to follow but I interpreted the instruction to "stuff well" a bit too literally and ran out of stuffing after 4 of the 6 parts. I had to unstuff and then restuff with a more moderate amount in each. The instructions were a bit brief when it came to stitching on the flower i.e. it didn't give you any tips about how best to go about this - but I figured it out based on the picture on the cover.

Overall I really enjoyed making it. I've worked with felt before but haven't made anything in 3D which was partly why I picked this kit of all of the ones they have available. The kit was well put together and I think the price was good for quality of the kit and the end make. Because the templates are printed on good quality paper it also felt like it was something you could replicate again just by buying a little more felt.

I'd recommend buying this kit if you are new to working with felt, new to stitching in 3D or just love cacti!

Here's my finished make. Finally one plant I can't kill by forgetting to water it.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Free pattern :: Crochet teardrop earrings

One of the first craft blogs I discovered was Un Jardin de Hilo. Sadly Olivia no longer blogs there, but it's pages are still a wonderful source of crochet inspiration and some tutorials and free patterns are available too. Inspired by this Olivia's creations, I've designed my own pattern for some crochet teardop earrings.

Materials ::
Thin thread, I used two strands of embroidery thread. (Thread of a different thickness will alter the finished size of the earrings)
2 x Earring hooks, I used silver plate
6 x Wire headpins, I used silver plate
8 x Beads, I used some silver plate rectangular tubes from my stash

Tools ::
Small gauge crochet hook appropriate for your thread, I used 1.5mm
Wire cutters
Small round nose pliers 

Notes/abbreviations :: 
ch :: chain
sc :: single crochet (UK dc :: double crochet)
dc :: double crochet (UK tr :: treble crochet)
hdc :: half double crochet (UK htr :: half treble crochet)
tr :: treble crochet (UK dtr :: double treble crochet)
sl :: slip stitch

Crochet Teardrop Pattern (US crochet terms) ::
Please note the pictures shown here are using a thicker yarn to allow you to see the stitches more easily.

Round 1 :: Make 6sc into a magic circle, sl st into first sc. Pull the loose end tight to close the hole at the centre of the piece.

Crochet :: Magic loop :: Embellished ElephantCrochet :: Teardrop earrings round 1 :: Embellished Elephant

Round 2 :: ch 1, 2sc in each sc around, sl into first sc (12 st)

Crochet :: Teardrop earrings round 2 :: Embellished Elephant

Round 3 :: ch 1, 2sc in each sc around, sl into first sc (24 st)

Crochet :: Teardrop Earrings round 3 :: Embellished Elephant

Round 4 :: ch 1, sc in each of the next 4 sts, hdc in each of next 3 sts, dc in each of the next 3 sts, 2tr in each of the next 3 sts, dc in each of the next 3 sts, hdc in each of next 3 sts, sc in each of the next 4, sl st in first sc. Fasten.

Crochet :: Teardrop earrings round 4 :: Embellished Elephant

How to put together the earrings ::
1 :: Crochet two teardrop shapes.
2 :: Sew in all the loose ends and trim any excess thread.
3 :: Using the round nose pliers, open the loop on each earring wire sideways.

Teardrop earring :: opening an earring wire :: Embellished Elephant

4 :: Thread the crochet teardrop onto the earring wire, making sure that the side facing forward matches (there will a a slight but subtle difference between each side of the crochet teardrop).
5 :: Carefully close the loop on the earring wires and check that the crochet hangs the same way on both earrings, adjusting if necessary.
6 :: Thread the beads on to the headpin wires, as shown in the picture, leaving about 0.5-1cm to create the loop, cut off any excess wire with the wire cutters.

Adding beads to wire headpin :: Embellished Elephant

7 :: Using the round nose pliers create a loop on each headpin.

Creating a wire loop :: Embellished ElephantBeads on headlines with wire loops :: Embellished Elehant

8 :: Open each loop sideways and pass through the crochet teardrop.
9 :: Carefully close each loop and check that the beads hang the same way on both earrings, adjusting if necessary.

Crochet teardrop earring :: Embellished Elephant

A much simplified version of this post previously appeared on my old blog

Creative Commons Licence
What this symbol means is that you are free to use and share this pattern as long as you attribute me as the original creator.  Don't use this pattern or items you make from this pattern for commercial gain (unless you contact me first).

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Review :: Paper gems free kit

I'm a bit behind in my free kit crafting and reviews but with a nice long break between Christmas and New Year, rain outside and Mollie Makes issue 62 popping through the door I thought I'd get stuck into that free kit first designed by Mini Eco.

I have to admit that I'm not really a paper crafter but it is always fun to try something new.

The kit itself is fairly basic, just comprising of a wooden template and some pieces of paper (approx a  quarter sheet of A4 each). There are few things that you need to locate from your craft stash to complete the project, which is usual for Mollie Makes kits and they are things that most people will have available - pencil, ruler, glue, scissors, needle (or compass). The instructions didn't list that you might need a mat or something else to lean on to prevent scratching your table top when scoring (and that isn't obvious from the pictures either).

Drawing round the template and cutting out are fairly straightforward. The scoring of the lines was less so as it was difficult at first to know how hard to score to allow for a crisp fold. On my first couple of gems I scored a bit too hard and had to do some patching on the reverse side with tape. Folding was a little tricky especially at the top, and I found the accuracy of the scoring greatly affected how easy it was to fold the top part crisply.

Gluing was the most difficult bit. That might be partly down to my glue (supermarket pritt stick) but also just getting the last panel glued was tricky as you had two tabs that needed sticking in place at the same time. In the end I perfected a kind of glue and pinch method to make sure each panel stuck well. The needle can also be used to help manipulate the last tabs in place. You can't really spot the slightly dodgy sticking in this picture!

Mollie Makes paper gems free kit review :: Embellished Elephant

The picture on the instructions page showed a garland made from the paper gems but there was no hint about how best to construct this. I made mine into a garland by selecting some thin hemp cord that I had in my stash, threading this onto a sharp needle and carefully piercing through opposite sides about 5mm from the top point of the gem.

Mollie Makes paper gems free kit review :: Embellished Elephant

Overall I enjoyed making this free kit and the template makes it easy to replicate this project again using paper from your own stash (Tiger has a great selection if you don't have a stash!)

Monday, 11 January 2016

Embellished :: Golden Globes 2016 dresses

It's awards season again! And that means gawping at all the fabulous frocks on the red carpet. Many of the dresses at this years Golden Globes went for details such as cut outs or pleats. There were a couple of fully sequinned stunners worn by Julianne Moore and Olivia Wilde but the ones I've selected below are those with embellished details rather than full on sparkle. 

1. Jennifer Lawrence :: this plain red dress just comes alive with the addition of a bit of bling in the form of this necklace by Chopard.
2. Jenna Dewan-Tatum :: the bodice of this Zuhair Murad Couture dress is quite densely embellished moving to a swirly arrangement on the full skirt. The dark blue dress and mix of dark blue and silver embellishment really bring the swirls to life. 
3. Leslie Mann :: embellishment around the waist and going onto the skirt such as this one by Monique Lhuillier was a bit of a theme I saw on this years dresses. This one had a flora and fauna design.
4. Calista Flockhart :: I think this was my favourite dress of the night. The colour is gorgeous and the embellishment on the bodice is just beautiful, designed by Andrew Gn.
5. Kate Bosworth :: I'm not sure I actually like this Dolce&Gabbana creation but you can't deny it's embellished. Elle described it "Malibu sequin mermaid barbie".
6. Amy Adams :: the colour of this Atelier Versace dress is a real head turner but for me this dress is finished off perfectly with beautiful beading around the waist and down the left hand side.
7. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley :: this Atelier Versace gown was another one where the detail of the embellishment was in the skirt. 
8. Natalie Dormer :: I saw this on more than one 'worst dressed' list but the black embellished panel creates a quite unusual neckline on this J. Mendel dress
9. Portia Doubleday :: another dress I saw on the 'worst dressed' lists. I'm not sure if it is actually beaded, it looks it, and reminds me of bead weaving. The dress is by Naeem Khan.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New technique :: Embroidered paper

I saw this really interesting idea on Etsy's blog ages ago about embroidering postcards. As I've mentioned before on this blog I'm a sucker for Tiger stores and have a range of their patterned paper in my craft cupboard.

I picked a floral design that I felt would take to an embroidered overlay and picked out some crochet cotton in some complimentary shades and got stitching.

I used french knots for the centre and straight stitches working from the outside in to give a brick stitch effect.

And here's my finished piece of embroidered paper. I think it looks lovely and the embroidery really stands out from the print and lifts the design at the same time.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Out and about :: Copenhagen

At the start of December I booked myself a weekend away in Copenhagen, for no other reason than I had some time free after finishing work for Christmas on 18th December before having to do things for Christmas.

I'd been once before but that was over a decade ago and since then there has been the Scandi TV revolution. So when I spotted a Killing/Bridge walking tour I booked myself on it (4pm every Saturday). I would have loved to go to the Borgen tour as well but my flight didn't land in time.
I spent a lot of my trip walking because the weather was nice a mild and dry (if you ignore the drizzle on the Saturday early evening which was the only time it rained). In total I walked 25 miles according to the pedometer on my phone!
Here are a few photo highlights from my trip starting with the obligatory picture of Nyhavn...
On Monday more walking, this time along the canal to see the little Mermaid, and then back to the centre via the Rosenborg Palace. The skies were a lovely deep blue early on which made the copper roof of this church really stand out.

No pictures from the tour due to the persistent drizzle making it difficult to see through my glasses let alone take any pictures, but it took us to the west of the central station to the meatpacking district which now houses bars and restaurants. Although I didn't visit any of those places that evening for my dinner I did go to an amazing Vietnamese restaurant close by the train station (and therefore my hotel).

I wandered through the various Christmas markets that were set up but the stalls were all much of a muchness and very commercial, very few handcrafted wares, which was a shame.

I also treated myself to a canal boat tour which was a thankful chance to sit down. I love this pic I took in the Christianshavn area as we passed through on the boat - the different shades of neutral colours are just delightful.

In the evening I headed off to Tivoli gardens. Whilst I'm not an fairground/amusement park kind of person, I did want to see it all lit up in Christmas lights (and I read there was a Christmas market there too) and it did look beautiful all lit up. It also gave me a chance to practice my night time photography.

If there was a Christmas market inside, I didn't find it. But there were plenty of Christmassy decorations about, including a huge tree decorated in gold and bronze decorations which looked lovely with the warm yellowy glow of the fairy lights on it.

I had lunch at one of the (touristy) restaurants off Nyhavn because I was knackered and needed a sit down, but saying that I really enjoyed my herring platter.

So that's a brief tour through my trip to Copenhagen. I did also visit the 3 storey Tiger store on the main shopping street luckily (or unluckily depending on your viewpoint) I didn't have that much space in my bag as I travelled with hand luggage only but I did pick up a couple of Christmas decorations I hadn't spotted in Tigers near me.