April 29, 2011

In homage to the Royal Wedding...,

I got up this morning and popped my wedding frock on!

Well, when I say popped, it was more of a wriggling, husband yanking it up, breathing in, sucking the old tummy in and hoping for the best as the zip went up (it has been untouched since 1997!).  And it did indeed zip up, it's fine when I'm stood up, but sitting down is another matter!

I have to admit to not being a royalist, but we will no doubt watch a bit of the wedding, reminisce about watching Charles & Diana back in 1981 and critiscise all the outfits, hats and hairdo's, then end up outside in the street with all the neighbours for an impromptu street party.

Anyone going to join me and fling on their wedding dress?, what was yours like??

April 27, 2011

The eyes have it...

I tend to do the eyes on all of my Softies the same.  A circle of felt attached with a very small (1/4" wide) button.  In the book, at the back there is a list of resources, and these are the buttons which I use,

But, there are a number of ways to stitch the eyes if you don't have any of those buttons to hand...

A small circle of felt attached with an embroidered french knot, 

also a small circle of fabric again, attached with a french knot will work, although to prevent the fabric from fraying, I'd dab some glue or fray check on the edge.

Another way is to embroider the whole eye.  This one is made by satin stitching a circle (I drew a border with an air erasable pen first), then sewing a french knot in the center.

Similarly, you can stitch a circle using darning stitch (seen in more detail here), and again embroider a french knot in the centre.

The stitched eyes are also safer if you are making a Softie for a child as there's nothing to come off and be swallowed!

I tried one with a bead, but it kind of stuck out from the base fabric a little too much.  Hopefully these ideas will be helpful if you find the buttons hard to get hold of.  Let me know if you can think of any other ways!

Don't forget to leave a comment on my previous post to win a copy of the book.  And follow the rest of the blog tour, 
tuesday 26th april - i heart linen - Rashida has made toadstools!
wednesday 27th april - sometimes crafter - that's today
thursday 28th april - plush you 
friday 29th april - allsorts

April 24, 2011

Title's too long to write...,

  It's the Countryside Softies, book blog tour, book giveaway, live web chat, plus retro Owl post!

Have you been following the tour?  So far it's been to Australia, USA, USA again, the UK, back to Aus, the off to Finland.  Today it's my turn, so, let's get down to business ::

1. Have you got the book?, if not, you can get it either from here or a signed copy direct from me on Etsy.

2. Leave a comment on this post by midnight (GMT) on Friday 29th April, and you will be in with a chance to win a copy.  You can also win a copy at every stop on the book tour and don't forget there is nothing to stop you commenting on every post so you go into every draw.

3. All the book winners will then move onto a separate draw to win the Robin Softie.

4. If you have got the book, please do join the Countryside Softies Flickr group and post your creations.

5. There's also the Lucykate Crafts... Facebook group as another way of keeping up to date with design news etc...

6. This evening (as in easter Sunday), I will be here online from 9pm (GMT), see down at the bottom of the blog, there is a Wibiya bar, click the 'join chat' icon and sign in, this will open up a chat room box which is where I will be (not literally, but you know what I mean)

Don't worry about me being a 'billy no mates' for my web chat.  When I say I'll be here live, it will involve sitting by the computer with my feet up, a bit of sewing on the go, a (large) glass of Pimms and an easter egg with the chat box open.

Talking of sewing, remember my hankering for all things retro, Lucienne Day-ish, and the fabrics which I bought?  Well, here is the result.  Taking a motif from the atomic design era,

and we have eyes,

add a little embroidered cross hatching for a crest, 

and we have an Owl.  A retro Owl.

Although once I'd finished, I wished I'd used greens and browns instead.  Guess that's my sewing for this evening sorted!

Well, if you're around later, I'll see you for the crafty web chat, if not, the there's the rest of the tour to follow, continuing tomorrow with the lovely Manda...

monday 25th april - treefall design 
tuesday 26th april - i heart linen 
wednesday 27th april - sometimes crafter 
thursday 28th april - plush you 
friday 29th april - allsorts

April 21, 2011

When is an Otter, not an Otter?

When I was designing the patterns for the book, on the whole they came together very easily.  I guess my 12 years with Coats Crafts UK came in handy here.  There is a knack to putting together a project which is intended to be made by other people, and when I'm doing the sewing part, in the back of my mind I'm making note of how straight forward it is on the basis of if I'm finding it hard to work, then I need to think of a simpler way.

It's not that I'm dumbing down the projects (which, as an aside, I did find the recent 'dumbing down of quilting' debate really interesting, that's a blog post all in itself, maybe next week when the kids are back at school), it's more a case of designing in a way that can be easy to explain in words, in a way that appeals and looks achievable to both novice and more experienced sewers, and in a way that brings each animal to life with a quirky character while retaining some realism.

The Otter was the one I struggled with the most.  It was because of him, the decision was made to code each project with a guide (easy, moderate, slightly tricky).  He's 'slightly tricky'.  Not because the Otter is hard to make, it's just he has more separate body parts, so there is more to join together which means it'll take a bit longer to complete.   When I first began designing him, I went for a horizontal body position,

which once I'd finished, decided didn't work.  He just didn't look Otter-like enough, his face was too narrow which made him look too ratty.  This version has been living on Lucy's bed ever since.

The second incarnation in an upright position, I felt, worked much better.

Have you been following the book tour??

So far, at Whip Up there's the pond pattern, a lovely review from Bari J (how pretty is her blog??), and interview with me by Scott at Blue Nickel Studio's where I use the words 'numb nut', you'll have to go read the interview to find out why, and today there is a very sweet review at Fat Quarterly.  Don't forget to leave a comment on the blogs taking part to be in with a chance of winning a copy of the book and also going through to the draw for the Robin softie.

Follow the rest of the tour here ::

friday 22nd april - ric-rac 

saturday 23rd april - syko 
sunday 24th april - lucykate crafts (that's me, web chat 9pm UK time)

monday 25th april - treefall design 
tuesday 26th april - i heart linen 
wednesday 27th april - sometimes crafter 
thursday 28th april - plush you 
friday 29th april - allsorts

ps, I'm going to try and do a trial run of the web chat this evening (as in UK evening), so if you're around on Twitter later, I'll be after some volunteers! 

April 18, 2011

Pond pattern,

The book blog tour starts today at Whip Up, with a brand new and exclusive free pattern to make the pond which will go with any of the Riverside Softies from the book.  So hop on over there, all the instructions and templates are on my guest post.
Next stop for the book tour tomorrow is...  the wonderfully talented Bari J.

April 13, 2011

Blog book tour...,

The book had it's UK launch on Monday at the London Book Fair, so I guess it's time to go global with the blog book tour! 

monday 18th april - whip up 
tuesday 19th april - bari j 
wednesday 20th april - blue nickel studios 
thursday 21st april - fat quarterly
friday 22nd april - ric-rac 

saturday 23rd april - syko 
sunday 24th april - lucykate crafts (that's me!)

monday 25th april - treefall design 
tuesday 26th april - i heart linen 
wednesday 27th april - sometimes crafter 
thursday 28th april - plush you 
friday 29th april - allsorts  

At each stop along the way, there is a book giveaway, plus all of the book winners will then go on into a separate draw and win this...

the Robin Softie from the book.

As the tour is running over Easter, I'm doing Easter Sunday and am (if it works, am going to have to give it a trial run!) hoping to try something a bit different.  At 9pm BST, see the Wibiya bar down at the bottom of the blog ↓↓↓, there is a 'join chat' section.  Click on that and a chat room box opens up.  I'll be online for a live webchat to talk about blogging and writing a book, so pop by if you have any questions (or Easter chocolate to share!)

The tour starts at Whip Up with a brand new tutorial, something extra to go with any of the riverside Softies from the book, so look out for that on Monday.

April 12, 2011


I've found some fabric!

As mentioned in this post, I had been on the look out for fabrics with a retro theme.  One pattern I have always found to be synonymous with the 1950's, alongside Lucienne Day's prints is crosshatch.  Before Orla Kiely came along, I always equated crosshatch patterning with those old fashioned formica kitchen surfaces.  Alexander Henry's 'in the kitchen' range was ideal.  I got mine from Fabricshack as they have a half price shipping deal on at the moment, for overseas shipping (like me, I'm in the UK) they are doing $7 (that's about £4.20) for a flat fee priority envelope, which will fit in roughly 9 yards of fabric!  Very good price if you ask me.  I threw in some teeny tiny zoo too, it's cute!

Unlike many of my craft blogging friends, I have quite a small stash of fabrics that I work from,

and some of these have been acquired from clothing.  Things run a bit differently when it comes to felted wool though...

this is just my collection of off white, cream and beige.  I keep thinking I should put together some scrap packs of it to sell on Etsy just so the shelf stops bowing under the weight!

April 7, 2011

Brown cap,

All 4 Toadstools finished and off to the London Book Fair.

Thank you for all the fabric feedback, I've found some suitable prints which are on their way, yay!

Next stop, is Blog Book Tour.  Coming up soon, will be posting the list of where and when shortly but there are 2 weeks worth of interviews, reviews, giveaways and new tutorials to look forward to.  While others are chilling and chocolate eating over Easter, I'm going to be busy, busy busy!

April 1, 2011

Digging deep,

I've been asked by C&T Publishing to make 4 models from the book for the London Book Fair which is coming up very soon.  So, armed with my book (because I'd forgotten how to make them!), I made a start on a batch of Toadstools.  All the original models made for the patterns in the book use realistic colours, ie, the Toadstool is red, so I decided this time It would be interesting to have a good old root around in the bottom of my fabric box and make use of some of the ones I have, but don't often use.

I really like how this one turned out.

I also need some help.  I have an idea for some new designs and am on the hunt for some specific fabric.  What I'm after is, I suppose what you would describe as retro looking.  1950's/1960's ish, Lucienne Day in style, but I need patterns on a small scale.  I work small, so large scale prints don't work as well as small scale ones.  I've been scouring Etsy, Ebay, even Spoonflower, but have so far not found anything quite right.  Reprodepot used to have the kind of thing I'm after but their site is closed at the moment.  These days, I use so many recycled fabrics from clothing, I'm a bit out of the loop when it comes to internet fabric shopping!  If anything comes to mind, leave a link in a comment and I'll check it out.  Thanks.