Monday, 31 December 2012

Bye Bye 2012...and a Happy Sun Handmade Soft Toy

Bye bye 2012...thank you for having seen the blossoming of my creativity, and the birth of this blog. Thank you for allowing me to feel myself again and express my crafty side...
And thanks to the hundreds (or thousands!) of people that have visited the blog so far (last count, 8,600 and something visits...thank you!), I do hope 2013 will bring to you all (and my loved ones, of course)

(i.e. bread, love and creativity)

Now, down to our favourite business...I shall close this year with a post that I hope will inspire you to use your hands a little more and create simple (but lovely), environmentally friendly things for yourselves and your loved ones.

This one is a cute Happy Sun soft toy I made for my new little niece, Ingrid.

Young babies really love staring at faces, so I thought I'd make a happy face for her. My own daughter, when she was a baby, loved also pulling and chewing tags, so I decided to give life to a "Happy Sun" soft toy, using several scraps of fabric to make the tags and, for the face, a soft cotton muslin that had been my daughter's (washed and washed time and time again, so really soft and environmentally friendly).
I added the blue cheeks cutting them out of a piece of microfibre cloth (but you could use any material, I like the microfibre because it's soft and has texture). I stuffed this soft toy with the usual cushion stuffing. However, for my next toys, I'll use pure wool. I have a lovely colleague at work who buys sheep wool and spins it, before knitting her knitwear. She very kindly agreed to give me some of her leftover bits of wool, so on Christmas Eve I decided to clean my first batch of smelly wool in my kitchen. Not much difference with a barn, but in the end I had a bag full of lovely, natural stuffing made out of Jacob wool.

The construction of the Happy Sun soft toy is super-simple.
You'll need scraps of fabric, ribbon, toy stuffing of your choice, and a little bell (optional).
I started with cutting my bits of fabric:
  • Two circles out of the muslin cloth (I used a small side dish plate as a guide);
  • A number of rectangular pieces from the scraps of cotton to make the tags, which I then folded in half. I also used a few pieces of ribbon. The tags will all need to be positioned snugly around the circles, so make sure you take into account their seam allowance when counting how many you'll need. You can always add more as you go if you need, though;
  • Two small circles for the Happy Sun cheeks.

Next step, I embroidered my happy face by machine (but you could do this by hand if you wanted to) and stitched the cheeks on the right side of one of the two muslin cloth circles. See picture at the beginning of the post for an idea of how to do that (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step!).

Then, I sewed a small seam all around three sides of each tag (not the ribbons), and turned the tags inside out to reveal their right sides.
I took my tags, I arranged them and pinned them all around the right side of the soft toy embroidered circle as shown below, so that they would fit snugly, with their open sides one next to the other, and the rest of the tags overlapping as needed.

Then, I sewed all around the edge of the happy face circle to secure the tags to it.

I then put the other muslin circle on top of the first one, right sides facing each other, and sewed a seam all around, leaving a couple of inches gap to allow the toy to be turned inside out and stuffed.

Lastly, after I stuffed the soft toy firmly (and inserted a little bell inside to make a soft jingly sound), I sewed the gap by hand.

Ta-dah!  Soft toy finished and ready to be gifted to a lucky baby!

Happy 2013 everyone!!!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Last minute DYI Christmas Cards

HO HO HO! It is that time of the year again...I don't know you guys, but I found myself with lots to do still, and Christmas is only 10 days away...
If you are super-organised, and have already done everything you had to do (presents, baking, decorations, packing, cards...) then this post may NOT be for you - however, you may get inspired for other occasions, like birthdays. But if you, like me, are a last minute person for most of your life, please read on...

Today I'll tell you how I made some really nice Christmas cards, involving my two-year-old as a little crafty project, in just a few minutes and for very, very little money.

So, you'll need:
  • ordinary paper
  • cards - the size is up to you (you can buy blank ivory cards and envelopes for a few pounds, or you can cut your own cards from A1 card sheets, which will cost less but it's a little more hassle)
  • scissors
  • watercolours and paint brushes 
  • stick glue
  • a child (optional)
I wanted to make delicately coloured paper flowers, so I asked my little monkey to paint whatever she wanted with the watercolours on a piece of plain A4 paper. At the end you'll need a coloured square piece of paper, so you may want to cut it square before you (or your child) paint it. In my case, I cut it after.
This are the sort of things my little monkey paints at the moment:

I let the colours dry and then I cut two squares out of an A4 'painting' . For ordinary-sized cards (A6) you can first cut in half your A4 paper to obtain two paper flower decorations per sheet. I didn't measure anything, I just folded on a diagonal the short side of each piece of rectangular paper, on the long side, like this:
Now I had two colourful, square piece of paper, I folded and cut each of them following the Martha Stewart's paper snowflake tutorial. However, I wanted to make it a little more intricate, I found this paper flower on Pinterest and got inspired by it (apologies, but I can't find the original link):

The basic concept is, after you fold your square in eight as illustrated by the Martha Stewart's tutorial, you can have fun cutting your flower / snowflake the way you want, and be surprised by the results!
(P.S. I loved this technique so much  that I stuck a few paper snowflakes on my kitchen window = instant Christmas feeling)
I cut a few paper flowers like that, then I glued them on the back of my cards, with the centre fold of the paper right in the centre of the fold of the card. Be careful to stick the flower from the centre out, pressing carefully so that it glues flat on the card and doesn't lose its shape. Tip: use a ruler to press it flat; if you use your hands, the glue will get dirty and will stain the card and the flower, plus you won't have the same neat result.

I finished my cards off by writing a greeting message.
Done! Isn't that super-easy and cute?

And since Christmas is very near, let me wish you a bright, cosy, wonderful time with your loved ones - with a special thank to my mum who provided the image below of one of her wonderful cross stitch works.
Lots of love xxx