December 31, 2009

Get Stuffed...,

Volume 3 is out now, available here. It's full of lovely softies, including my softie shoes.

Thank you to everyone who visits Lucykate Crafts for all your support throughout 2009.

See you in 2010!

December 28, 2009

If you got any money for christmas...,

you may be tempted by this,

"Sew it All" is a new American sewing magazine by the people behind Sew News. There are projects by fellow UK designer, Janet Clare, and US designer extraordinaire, Alicia Paulson to name but a few, and also there is me!

It's a really simple idea for homemade napkin rings to spruce up your dinner table.

The leaf motif is aimed at a beginner level, the flower being more suited to a more advanced stitcher. There are lots of lovely projects in the magazine, some even available to download from their website. Happy Stitching!

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas,

Christmas Day is almost here,

Christmas Eve is almost over, and so is my husband's birthday.

He turned 40 today,

Here's to our first white christmas in years!

December 23, 2009


I feel a bit embarrassed about how such a relatively small amount of snow can bring the UK to a halt, just after last christmas, Alastair went to Seattle, and drove to Spokane through real snow.

In comparison, what we have here is a light dusting! Still, it has been icy enough to give some icicles on the studio in the garden...,

deep enough for some sledging...,

but cold enough to not want to stay out in it too long, and head home for some tea instead.

Now, we have a party to prepare for. More importantly than the 25th, Alastair is 40 on Christmas Eve!

December 17, 2009

Warm & wooly,

It is beginning to get round the school playground about what it is I do, which is great, (there are far worse rumors that could be going around!) particularly when Mum's from school hand me bags of unwanted woolens. One such bag, contained a tiny pink cardigan, which belonged to the baby sister (called Lucy) of one of my Lucy's classmates. It seemed such a shame for this cardigan's life to end (it was from Boden, after all) so I decided to make something by way of a thank you for all the jumpers. Armed with Betz's 'Warm Fuzzies' book, (incidentally, I much prefer the American cover and title to the UK version), and using the scrapwork pillow (page 28) as inspiration, scissors in hand, I got chopping.

I went quite simple with the design, piecing just a couple of rectangles together for the front, with an appliqued row of circles from the cardigan (it's so tiny, there's not much of it to use) and buttons.

The back has an envelope opening with a random flower on it. I was distracted watching Jamie online, in particular his bubble & squeak recipe (episode 3), and went a bit wonky with my stitching, rather then unpicking, the flower hides the mishap rather nicely.

This is the only gift I have made this christmas, everything else has arrived in a box from Amazon. Sounds very unexciting, I know, but anyone who has read this blog for a while now will know, I have had my fingers burnt in the past with handmade gifts, and have learnt a hard lesson. The people who matter (and they know who they are), get the odd handmade thing all year round, but I've said it before, and I'll say it again, please make sure your own efforts are not as sadly misplaced as mine were.

Besides, I can't make roller skates or Spongebob lego anyway!

December 14, 2009

Easy peasy (no sewing involved!), cotton reel & holly ornament...,

The other day, I had some bits & bobs on my desk, and 20 minutes to spare while I was waiting till it was time to head off to my son's first school nativity play (he was a sheep!). After fiddling around with the felt, came up with this idea. These are just so quick and easy to make, how can you not give them a go! All you need are-

cotton reels
selection of green felt
some small red felted balls (you can get these ready made, or even use a bit of cotton wool, painted or dyed with food colouring, or just wrap a bit of red wool yarn into a ball)

1. Cut some holly leaf shapes from the green felt, each about 1 1/2 inches (or 3cm) long,

2. Poke the ends of 2 or 3 of the leaves, into the middle of a cotton reel, and using the tip of the scissors, squeeze in a small, red felt ball to hold everything in place.

And that's it!, all done. No sewing, no glue, so after christmas they can easily be taken apart and you can have the cotton reels back.

Make as many as you want, if your cotton reels are bigger, just make the leaf size larger to match. Think I might make some all in white next!

December 4, 2009

The Christmas Tree Softie tutorial,

There are many, many Softie Tree patterns out there to choose from, and here is my version. This is going to be a long post as there are lots of step by step photo's, so let's get started!.

To make one Softie Tree, you will need -

2 fabric rectangles 22 x 15 cm, these can either be in one fabric, or made up with a variety as I have done (see photo below)
a felt circle, 7.5 cm diameter (this will become the base)
a card circle, 7 cm diameter (card from a cereal box is fine)
2 squares of felt 5 x 5 cm (for the star)
selection of buttons, various sizes and colours
embroidery thread (I have used red Pearl Cotton 8)
sewing needle, scissors, pins, pencil, sewing machine is optional
stuffing & a smallish pebble (to weight the tree)
paper, a square 5 x 5 cm, and a rectangle 12.5 x 19 cm
chop stick (also optional)

First, fold the large paper rectangle in half lengthways, draw a diagonal line from one corner to another, and cut down the line. Open it out, and you will have your paper tree template. Place the fabric rectangles face together, and pin on the template. Cut out the tree shape, adding an additional 1 cm of fabric to the bottom (see photo below).

Remove the paper template (and keep so you can make more tree's later), pin the fabric together and sew down each side, 0.5 cm in from edge (you can do this on a sewing machine or by hand using backstitch), then turn your tree the right way round. You can use a chop stick to push out the point of the tree if it is a bit fiddly. Turn the additional 1 cm hem inwards to hide the fraying edge. I have added a 'Lucykate Crafts...' label, you won't need to do this, as you know the rules, tutorials are for personal use only, and not to be used commercially!

Stuff the tree, lastly, adding a pebble wrapped in the stuffing inside the base to give it weight so it doesn't topple over. Pop the card circle in the base and,

position the felt circle over the top, sew in place using straight stitches.

Now it's time to add some buttons as decoration,

you can add as many as you like.

Now, take the paper square, and draw on a star shape, cut out to make your star template. Use this to cut the first star from the felt, then use the felt star as the template to cut out the second, this way they both match.

Pin the 2 stars together, and begin to sew round the edge to join the two using blanket stitch. When you get to the last part of the star, place it over the tip of the tree.
Continue to sew the blanket stitch, one side of the star at a time, taking care to make sure you attaching the star to the tree with each stitch. Complete one side of the star, then turn the tree over, and stitch the same on the other.

Then you are done!, it would be very easy to alter the dimensions of the tutorial and make your tree larger or smaller if you wanted to.

Please feel free to join the Lucykate Crafts... pattern pieces Flickr group to show off your trees, and there is also a Flickr group totally dedicated to tree softies. If you are on the look out for more christmas tutorials, there is always my robin from last year, or the love letter could be adapted to make a christmas card, and should you feel inclined to wear a pair of leggings on your head, then make an Elf hat, it will look a little less silly!

There is also a whole month of christmassy projects appearing at UK Handmade, the first is here.

Happy Stitching!

November 30, 2009

Get your stuffing at the ready...,'s almost December, and this year's christmas tutorial is on it's way!

November 26, 2009

Cross stitch,

I've noticed recently quite a few craft bloggers, mainly Hillary, getting into cross stitch. When I think back to the years (12 in total, I think) spent designing cross stitch day in, day out, I wonder exactly how many cross stitch designs I must have completed. I have no idea.

For those who are newer to this blog, my first job after leaving University was as a Needlecraft Designer for Coats Crafts UK, chances are any cross stitch, tapestry or embroidery kit with an 'Anchor' brand label made between 1994 and 2006, I will, to a varying degree, have been involved with the design.

There are some of my designs still around,

the Owl was probably the best selling kit I ever did, and once designs retire from the range, they quite often pop up again in magazines.

I left Coats when we relocated from one part of the UK to another, my parting gift was this little gem.

One of my first designs for Coats was a set of 3 miniature victorian style stitchettes, one was of a bath, one was a jug and bowl, and the third was of a toilet. Two were discontinued after a couple of seasons, but the toilet remained for a good few years. Once it was also discontinued, it became my ambition to get a loo back in there,

and 'flush flush' is still in the range today!

Edited to add - No, I didn't stitch any of these designs, Coats have a team of outworkers who do all the sewing. The design team churn out designs at such a fast rate, there was no time for any cross stitch!

November 20, 2009

Pom poms,

I don't enjoy making pom-poms, it hurts my fingers. But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.


So on that note, I'm off to clean the toilets, both of them!

November 12, 2009


As primarily a softie maker, I quite often have leftover bits, pieces, and softie limbs. Some I just throw out, while others give the impression that they could actually have a second lease of life as something else.

This was a trial run, so didn't get used for the final piece. It's been sat on my desk all week,

...while I ponder what I could do with it. It's fringed felted wool, with a piece of wire running down the centre (which can come out if need be).

Any ideas?

November 4, 2009

It's far too early for the 'C' word...,

...isn't it! But having been handed a (rather long) Christmas list by Lucy, an idea began floating around in my head. We've just started watching season 4 of The Wire on DVD, so I was after a bit of light hand sewing to do in front of the TV. There are quite a few patterns available on the internet for stuffed trees, but I decided in the end to adapt my own by altering the vase I make for the flower stems.

And, here they are,

also, inspired by the tree print fabric picked up at the Festival of Quilts this year.

I do need to come up with a christmasy tutorial for this year, are the tree's too obvious?

I can tell others are thinking of Christmas already too from my blog stats, the Elf hat tutorial is getting quite a few hits, as it does every year. That was the first tutorial I ever did and quite basic compared to how I would do one now.

Still, I bet there are a fair few kids wearing Elf hats made out of leggings on their heads for the school christmas play!

November 1, 2009

The bag and the bunny...,

A while ago I asked for help with ideas for a christening gift I had been asked to make, well, in the end, I kind of adapted the book bag idea, into a toy bag inspired by Stephanie's one, using the Beatrix Potter prints from my fabric stash.

It all begins with a rabbit softie,

the back of the bag has 'Beatrix' embroidered on it as the little girl it is for is called Beatrix,

the rabbit lives in a pocket on the front,

and the bag is lined with the Beatrix Potter prints.

It's gone off to the christening today, so bye bye bunny!

October 25, 2009

Softies on show...,

I know I'll probably get some rather odd hits via google with that blog post title, but it is true, there are indeed 'Softies on Show'!

This is my work on display in our local museum,

which I mentioned in my last post.

We all nipped down last Saturday for the opening, and I met a blog reader there, who had seen my post and made the trip and came along, (waves - hello!)

There was lots more to write, but if truth be known, I am feeling a bit sick.  I accompanied Lucy to her best friends birthday party today and ate far to much of the chocolate fountain (what's a girl to do when you are stood right next to it and a tray of strawberries!), so am going to fire the sewing machine up and do a bit of sewing instead.  Will be back in a few days with some more softies, now I have cleared a bit of space due to the exhibition, there is finally room for some new creations!

October 15, 2009

Production line,

Sorry, I disappeared!  Each day seems to have passed with a 'must do a blog post today' plan, but other things kept getting in the way.  Then I've been ill too, .  There has been a little light sewing, a few cotton reels rolling off the production line,

a satisfying bit of machine embroidery,

and all put together ready to go off to the local museum for a small craft exhibition I'm involved in.

The private view is on Saturday, but I can nip down tomorrow and see everything set up, and hopefully photograph it too.

So, I'm off to put my pj's on and watch another episode of The Wire on dvd with Al, we're up to series 3.  It's taken a while, bit am quite into it now!