Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Christmas Baking....

Felt Sugar Cookie and Gingerbread Tutorial

At the moment it seems as though much of the UK has become obsessed with all things cuisine due to the enormous popularity of 'The Great British Bake Off'.  Mr Larkin and the children have succumbed to the lure and can be found glued to the television screen whenever it's on. I thought I had managed to resist but even I have found my thoughts turning to baking, but for me it's baking with felt!

At the moment I am thinking about my Christmas sewing as I like to stitch gifts for our family and closest friends.  Last year it was appliqued bunting and patchwork stockings, but this year I thought I might create little ornaments to hang on the tree.  However, my inspiration is lacking as this year's theme seems to be......Baking.....and I don't do that!  

Still even I can appreciate the fantastic skill needed to produce delights such as these;

 And then I had my theme - Felt Gingerbread! So I had a little nose around Pinterest to get me started and found these super examples;

But I wouldn't be happy making direct copies of other people's work, so I spent much of today designing my first felt Christmas gingerbread biscuit.......

There are a couple of things I'm not happy with but hopefully by the time I've designed a snowman, bell, stocking, tree, star and elf I'll have ironed out my faults!

The process was actually pretty simple and whilst there are still elements which need 'tweeking' the basic design  worked, so I thought I would share it with you.

The first step is to cut your felt shapes and using a dab of white glue fix them in place

I then machine stitched around each element (one line of red still to do in the picture!)

I then added a few sparkling beads and sequins to represent sugar crystals  

 The eyes are french knots, although seed beads would also be cute

I stitched a thin strip of matching ginger felt between the top and bottom layers to give the cookie a nice 3-D effect before stuffing them but I actually think I could miss this step out and just sew the top and bottom together.  I'm also going to oversew the seams on the next one rather than blanket stitching them.

The cookies would also benefit from having their design nearer the edge of the gingerbread so that it looks more like 'flood icing'.  This is obviously a simple change to make, I'll just cut a smaller brown felt circle.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cushion Love

I'm back in 'Style at Home' magazine!

This month's Style at Home magazine is all about cushion love and it's available in store now...

....and I designed and stitched one of the cushions featured in its pages!

 Jennifer, the editor, had asked me back in the summer if I might be interested in being involved with the issue and my answer was, of course, a resounding "Yes, Yes, Yes!" .  Well, the very next day, I received an exciting package in the post;

It contained a plain faux silk cushion cover, return postage and some very lovely and extremely generous 'Hobbycraft' vouchers.

I immediately got busy designing and making my cushion cover.  The woodland theme remains very popular this season and so keeping this in mind, I came up with a Stag's head silhouette but added a modern twist with a "Hello Deer" pun on the reverse.  

Style at Home have also featured my design on their Facebook page, so do pop over and have a look;

The design brief took me out of my usual comfort zone as I don't normally work with faux silk as I really prefer linen, cotton and wool.  However, conveniently enough, the pair of linen curtains which I recently bought from the local car-boot sale to upcycle for my tea cosies and journal covers had wide faux silk pin-tucked borders in various colours which proved perfect for this project.  In fact, I have now been converted to the pleasures of 'silk' especially with Christmas coming up and I have a couple of projects in the pipeline which I will be blogging in the form of tutorials over the next few weeks.  Keep coming back as they'll be fairly straight forward to sew and perfect for seasonal gifts!

Finally, don't forget to treat yourself to this month's Style at Home, it's perfect value at just £1.99

Friday, 4 October 2013

What a guy!

Appliqued Music Journal

George is part of a production of 'Guys and Dolls' this week.  It is a school performance and they're famous for the fabulous quality of their shows.  It's been a very demanding rehearsal schedule, with after school sessions for the last year, as well as all day Sunday for the past three weeks.  Now if this sounds a lot for the children, just think what it must be like for the teachers - No wonder they only put on a show once every three years!   We therefore really wanted to show our appreciation to the main staff involved and so I've been stitching a couple of personalised journals.  

Our children attend a Catholic school and as we also go to Mass in the same parish there is an overlap between school, home and church.  We are blessed with a beautiful church family, they have teachers who are their god-parents and we've shared so many holidays and wonderful times together in a large group since they were babies.  The upshot of this is that I was not reliant on George attempting to describe what the Head of Music looked like for this journal cover.  However, I'm still not actually convinced that I have captured Mr GB's likeness as, whilst he is perhaps a 'little thinning' on top, in real life he has quite a boyish charm going on!  Just think Matthew, you only have to wait ten or fifteen years before you grow into your journal cover!

The design was hand-drawn and all the pieces individually cut before being attached to the main fabric with fusible web.  I then used a pencil to gently mark the facial features before 'free-style' machine stitching the whole design with black thread.

The design was completed with the recipient's name and a very obvious pun based on the name of the show!


The second gift was a little more difficult as it was for a teacher I haven't yet met, so I therefore decided against attempting another likeness and instead stitched a cute teacher owl.  

The multi-coloured fabric was cut from a little girl's dress by British designer Jasper Conran. It was a car-boot sale buy last weekend and was just 50p, it's also going to be perfect for Easter egg appliques.  The dress featured a very full skirt so offered up yards of gorgeous material.

The little shape you can see in the top right corner is a matching mirror compact.  I was sewing late into the night to get this second journal finished so the photos were taken in very poor light, the colours and weave look much nicer in real life - Honest!