Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Easter Chicken Bean Bag Tutorial

Cute Stitched Easter Chicks to Juggle or Chuck!

How do you fancy making some chickens for your Easter Sport's Day?
 Be careful though, they seem to breed quickly!

A friend's Mum needed some chicken bean-bags for an Easter Activity Day she runs at her local church.  Now when I say 'needed' she actually just requested square bags, but these quilted chickens are much more fun for the little ones!  If you want to make your own, just follow the step by step instructions below.

Pyramid Beanbag Tutorial


Fabric, wadding (batting), scraps of red and yellow felt, small black buttons, dried rice or beans

Firstly mark out your rectangles onto your choice of fabric.  I made mine 12 cm by 18 cm.

As you can see in the picture, I decided to quilt my rectangles so that my finished chickens would hold their shape better.  If you prefer a quicker option, just iron some heavyweight interfacing onto the reverse of your fabric.

The next step is to attach the eyes, beak, comb and wattle.  The eyes are two small black buttons and the other features are simple shapes cut out of scraps of yellow and red felt.  One eye is hidden behind the felt pieces in the pictures.
I placed the parts by eye rather than measuring, this makes each chicken just that little bit different!

One little point to watch out for is not to catch the comb in your right hand seam when you sew the chicken up. I pinned mine out of the way to avoid the risk of this happening.  You can see what I mean more clearly in the picture below;

Once you have stitched on the eyes and are happy with the placement of your felt pieces simply fold your rectangle in half and sew along the top and right hand side.  Then turn out and use a blunt object to push out the corners.  You should now have something that looks like this;

Now here comes the clever bit.  We are going to stitch up the last seam so that the chicken becomes a lovely pyramid shape.  This 3-D shape is achieved by matching the top seam to the middle of the bottom of the chicken.  This sounds a little complicated but is very easy.  A picture speaks a thousand words so hopefully this will make it clear;

You can either then either machine stitch this seam or hand sew it.  If you are using a machine, don't forget to  leave a gap so that you can add the dried rice or beans!   

I used a machine, added the rice and then just had a small opening to slip-stitch closed.

All done!

Easter Decorations

Our Easter Preparations

Here is a sneak peek at some more of our Easter creations.  

Firstly an altered mint tin which is for a party favour.  It is painted, stamped and decoupaged.  The shapes were cut using my favourite Easter 'Quickutz' dies.  In the background you can see some decoupage eggs which started out as cheap polystyrene ones from the pound store.  I then painted them with emulsion and applied motifs cut from paper napkins/serviettes.  A bit fiddly, but the effect is brilliant, as they look like hand-painted creations!

Next is a little gift bag sewn with felt shapes cut using my trusty Sizzix machine.  I have also stitched about 15 personalised versions which you may have spotted in an earlier post.

Easter Trees

So far I have put up the trees in the family room and dining room, so now just the lounge to go!

Family room

Dining room

I made many of the hanging eggs, these ones feature free motion machine embroidery and raw edge applique;

I designed and quilted a wall hanging in matching colours, it was my first ever attempt, so don't be too critical!  

And finally some cones I made for our God-children which are waiting to be filled by the Easter Bunny!


Easter Sunday

I didn't manage to take many pictures on the day itself - Too busy getting the table set and lunch ready for a total of 31 guests.  We normally have between 40-50, but Easter was so cold this year I felt we should have less as the weather wasn't conducive to having people sit in the garden.

 We did consider placing some of the girls around the kitchen table to give the rest of us a bit more room.  In the end we decided against it and just shifted out a couple of sofas as we felt it would be a greater act of family and community for us all to be together.

If you look carefully at the above picture you can see Mr.Larkin and bad kitty in the family room making the most of the last few minutes of quiet before the fun began!

Alice was in charge of seating and we had made some very simple place cards so that people stuck to her plan.  The cards actually looked really good, but the glitter and inking details haven't been picked up all that well by the camera. 

The outside of the house wasn't left out - I took this tree......

..and painted and decorated it.

The 'Crown of Thorns' made its debut this year.

Everyone was very well behaved and so a little guest made an appearance.  Here 'he' is in my study being got ready. One threw oneself into the role and the method acting was worthy of an Oscar.  The only down side being that all alcohol had been given up for Lent and so Mr. Bunny was a little happy from the wine at the table.  As a result almost every guest got a present and a kiss, although I'm pleased to say the Priest escaped the kissing part!

All the children and women received a 'proper' present, but the men got a bag of mixed chocolate nuts and raisins packaged with an Easter theme!

I hope you all had a very Happy Easter shared with those you love xx

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Wooden Easter Garland Tutorial

Recycled Bunting

Our local supermarket was selling off their 'Mothering Sunday' items at a 70% discount.  I bought some wooden (actually it was MDF, despite what the label said!) bunting which I repainted and covered so now we have a new "Easter Blessings" garland;

At the moment it is hung over the piano, but will have to be moved later as I have another project in mind for this space!  

As usual it was a simple project and if you don't have any suitable MDF then thick cardboard (chipboard) would make an excellent substitute.  Before I started I simply painted over the existing 'flags' as they were three different colours.  I could probably have left them as they were because they were going to be covered in paper, but I wanted the edges to all be the same.

Gather your supplies;

I used my painted flags, Sizzix Machine, alphabet dies, papers, glue, chalks, ribbon, sandpaper and a drill.

The first step is to draw around the flags onto the reverse of your paper. I chose a vintage style paisley pattern as I wanted it to look 'shabby chic'.  Place your flags alternate ways so that you don't waste paper.  You can see what I mean in this picture;

You then need to stick your cut out triangles onto your flags.  A little tip, to give your work a professional finish, is to sand the edges of your flags once the glue has dried.  This makes it look as though the papers have always been covering the triangles and have not just been stuck on!  I also chose to ink the edges of my triangles after sanding to make them look a little more 'aged'.

Next I drilled two holes into each triangle so that I could thread the whole banner onto ribbon ready for hanging.  I actually should have done the drilling before I stuck on the paper as this would saved me a lot of time spent tidying up the holes!  I also added a little bit of sparkle with the addition of some Stickles (a brand of glitter glue).

It took a lot of work to get those holes neat!

The final task was to cut out the message 'Easter Blessings' using my little Sizzix Machine and some lovely dark green card stock.  If you don't have a die cutter then just use alphabet stickers or rub-ons.  These can often be picked up at discount book shops or even 'Pound' stores.  

All that was then left to do was just to use a large darning needle and thread ribbon through the drilled holes.  

I'll try to get a 'proper' picture of the whole banner once I get some decent light.  We've been thrust back into winter at present and I didn't fancy going outside in the snow - Apologies!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

We celebrated Mothering Sunday in the UK today.  I received two beautiful cards and some lovely presents.  Alice had saved me one of her chocolates from Christmas;

Whilst George made me a brooch;

We then went out for a walk

At times the sun shone..

Whilst at others it didn't!

We'd made some vegetable chilli soup before we left, so returned to that and freshly baked bread - Bliss!

We then settled down to watch a heartwarming family film about a lonely boy who makes a Christmas wish for a friend of his very own.  His dream comes true when his teddy comes to life.  What an adorable idea for a film.

Have you watched 'Ted' with Mark Wahlberg.  Next time I guess we need to read the synopsis a little more carefully! 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Religous Easter Eggs - Clay Birds' Egg Tutorial

Stamped and Speckled Easter Eggs

Our Easter preparations are continuing and here's a little peak at what we have been crafting this week. 

We've had a great time creating these adorable devotional speckled eggs!

Not only do they look lovely, they are also really tactile.  I think this is a result of the matt paint in gentle colours and stamped letters providing an 'embossed' look.  They just beg you to reach out and stroke them!

This project was a real family affair and here is a little 'how to guide', should you be inspired to give it a go with your own brood!  

Speckled Birds' Eggs Clay Tutorial

Grab your supplies

I used air-drying clay as it is really cheap and can be purchased in 'discount' book shops such as 'The Works'.  I've had this pack years and according to the sticky label it cost me just £1.50.  You could also use a polymer clay such as Sculpey or Fimo which bakes in the oven.  These might be slightly easier to work, but the packs are small and cost rather more!  You will also need foil, rolling pin, paint, alphabet stamps, paint brushes, tooth brush and a fine permanent pen.

Getting creative

Firstly, fashion a foil base which you will then cover with the clay.  Doing this helps the eggs to dry much quicker.  It also makes them lighter and helps the clay go further (gotta watch those pennies!)

Some of our eggs are rather round, but that's okay nature can be a little random too!  The best foil egg maker in our house was Alice.  

It is worth taking your time at this stage if you want your eggs to be perfect.......although they could just become 'pebbles' of course!

Next roll out a lump of clay roughly the circumference of your foil egg.

Now wrap the clay around one of your foil eggs......

....and then smooth it out so that it is as 'egg-like' as possible.  We had a mini production line going at this stage in our kitchen and whilst Antonia was wrapping I was smoothing.  George was busy at the same time writing a list of 'words to inspire'.

We had intended making personalised eggs to use as table settings, but the children didn't want to give them away.  I still think they would have looked fantastic on the Easter table, but hey it's a democracy in this house!

Once you're happy with the shape of your eggs emboss them with suitable words or names of your choice (whilst still wet), using rubber alphabet stamps.  We deliberately stamped some of ours in a slightly 'wonkey' manner as we wanted them to be oh so shabby chic.  You could of course stamp yours in straight lines! 

Once the eggs are dry simply paint them.  We used tester pots of emulsion (vinyl) paint in lots of yummy pastel shades.  When the paint is dry you will need to trace over the letters in a colour of your choice.  I think either brown or black work best.

This makes the words really 'pop', although they will tone down once you speckle them.  You could paint over the letters and then wipe off the excess, but I found it easiest to use a permanent fine-liner.

All 'fine lined' and ready to be speckled!

The final task is simply to use a toothbrush and paint to flick those all important speckles onto your eggs.  This is quite messy, so move into the garden or use lots of newspaper!  It is probably also a good idea to practice your speckling technique on some scrap paper before attempting your eggs.  Any mistakes however can just be wiped off using a piece of damp kitchen paper or wet-wipe.  I actually find it a good idea to wipe over the first application of speckles as this blends them in nicely and also tones in the black permanent pen.

You're just stand back and admire your work! 

Use them to bring the message of Easter into your home this year

All these eggs for £1.50.......cheep cheep!

I had to go with the last pun, it's such an eggcellent yolk......

Hopefully this tutorial contained enough eggsplanation and has inspired you to now make your own xx