May 23, 2013

Pin it Forward UK

My post today is all about Pinterest.  If you haven't already discovered Pinterest, why not?!!  Pinterest has been around since about 2010, and although it is accessible worldwide, the reason behind this push for the UK is there are some developments (new language and location settings) which will just make it more user friendly for the UK audience.  There are 300 bloggers taking part, and a big thank you to Antonia of Tidy Away Today for introducing my Pinterest post today.

Before Pinterest began, for a long while I had been after a kind of online pinboard for images.  I'd tried using Flick 'favorites', but that wasn't quite right, tried using Tumblr, but that wasn't quite right either.  I've always been in the habit of collecting images for inspiration.  When I worked as a designer for Coats Crafts UK, they had literally only just got the first computers in the design studio.  This was also before Google was created, so all our research was done the old fashioned way via magazines, books, wrapping papers, greetings cards etc.  I had folders full of ideas I collected and referred to constantly.  Pinterest was exactly what I had been looking for all these years.  And now, the first thing I do after taking the kids to school is check my Pinterest feed.

I have lots of boards, some I refer to daily, like style (so I at least look slightly human on the school run) and garden ideas (given we've been revamping our back garden at home).  But my all time favorite, is soft sculpture,

this one is my go-to place when I'm sewing, this is where all my favorite things live!

If you'd like to follow me, I am here, or if you're not already pinning, follow the registration link.

To continue on the Pin it Forward UK journey, please visit Rosie at DIYcouture who is showcasing this intriguing board 'we shall not cease from exploration', you can read up on the background behind this board here.

Happy Pinning!

May 15, 2013

tricks of the trade #2...

Following on from my previous post around this subject, this time I'm going to show you what I do with my ends of embroidery thread while I'm sewing a Softie. 

When I'm sewing, I often have a few different colours on the go, which rather then tying off, I'll thread through to the back in case I need that colour again.

But obviously, these thread are not going to be where I want them to be, when I come to use them again.  So how do I get from one place to another?  I simply use the needle to literally, snake the thread around the inside of the Softie.

Begin by waggling the thread to make the hole in the fabric slightly larger, then pull the thread hard in one direction to create a gap right next to it, feed the needle carefully though this same hole.  

Take the needle back out where you want it next to go, and gently pull on the thread.

Once the thread is pulled through completely the hole kind of magically disappears, it has now moved to the new position ready to continue the applique or repeat this process to move it further.

A simple process, but this is something I get asked a lot, so I hope that explains how I go about it when I'm sewing.

Something else I must mention is, hop on over to Cut Out & Keep which is a FAB resource for project tutorials, I am a Crafty Superstar this week, yay!  There is an interview and a project a day too.

May 7, 2013

from Pinterest to the garden...

I am taking part in a scheme called 'Pin-it-Forward' later this month to celebrate the official UK launch of Pinterest, (yes, I know here in the UK we can already use Pinterest, all will be explained in my official post on the 23rd), and as I was deciding which of my boards I was going to post about, realised I have over 1,600 images pinned.  It would be an interesting exercise to see how many of those images I actually refer to and made use of.

Only a few weeks ago, I came across this on Pinterest, someone I follow had pinned it so it featured in my feed, I followed the link to it's original source (which is where you can read up on how they were made), and decided to have a go myself.  

Mine are a bit smaller than the originals (although I love the idea of making a really big one with a wok!), I used enamel camping bowls at £1.50 each, red spray paint was £3.50, white enamel paint was £1.50 and the tree branches came from the garden.  I sprayed the bowls red (they were blue), and the kids did the white spots for me.
(the bunting and the bamboo wind chime both came from Ebay)

Al thinks they look a bit daft, but he's out voted as both me and the kids think they're rather cute!

May 5, 2013

Stitch Zakka,

I am in a new book which is coming out soon,

trying not to give too much away, the projects involve a bit of this,

and a little bit if that. 

The book is out in June.

May 2, 2013

tricks of the trade #1...

A while ago I made two short films which are uploaded to You Tube, one of those films, the free motion embroidery one has had over 160,000 views.  I keep meaning to make another, this time showing how I stuff a softie.  The reasoning for this is that I am quite brutal when it comes to getting that stuffing in, there's lots of banging and bashing it on a table top involved to shape it, and poking with a stick, which is what brings me to the point of this post, tricks of the trade #1...


  I find that all artists and designers always have certain tools they love, and I do love my stuffer sticks.  Except this one is not really a stuffer stick, it's a chop stick!

Now, you can buy proper bona fide stuffer sticks,

 (my Harry Potter wand)

and I do have one, except mine wasn't bought, I pinched it. 

When I worked for Coats Crafts UK (I can tell this story now as I haven't worked there for a good few years now!), one thing that did bug me was their reluctance to try anything new.  Ideas would be put forward at the product development meetings only to be met with a negative reaction, that was until one of our competitors came out with something similar.  Imagine the scene : an idea that had been pitched for a while :  Rag Doll kits, 'Oh no, couldn't possibly do that, too complicated/expensive'.  That was until a company called the Little Experience came out with a range, then the reaction was 'We should be doing these, why aren't we doing these?'.  Err, well we could have been doing them if you'd listened to your design team!

The story rolls on, as happens in most in-house design studios, we then have to go and purchase one of the competitor products for manufacturing analysis.  Inside said kit, was exhibit A, the stuffer stick, which eventually fell into my bag and made it's way home.  While this particular stuffer stick is very nice, has been extremely useful over the years, and also doubles as a wand occasionally, I do tend to revert back to my trusty old chop stick (which was also 'acquired', this time from a chinese restaurant), and this is why...

Stuffer sticks are used to get the stuffing into all the little nooks and crannies of a softie.  I use the end to push small chunks of stuffing in one at a time.  The chop stick is thinner than the stuffer stick, but despite that, it seems to retain it's strength, which is good as even when I'm being really rough with it, it doesn't feel like it's going to break. 

I also find the little square end it has very useful.  Quite often when I'm stuffing softies, I'll get issues like the one above, a stubborn crease which will just not go.  The most effective way to rectify this, 

is to take a small piece of stuffing,

and gently push it into place, over the existing stuffing, to fill out the crease with the square end.  The chop stick works better for me in this instance, as the pointed end of the stuffer stick is too fine and pokes straight through the stuffing I'm trying to get in, and the flat end is too wide as it tends to move not only the extra stuffing, but also what is already inside, which is exactly what I don't want it to do having already spent time shaping it.

So, that's it, a post all about sticks!  Just to finish off, here's oops of the week...

I made two right ears, ...oops!