A happy handmade Mother’s Day

Today was Mother’s Day and my family have excelled themselves. My breakfast in bed (croissants – might regret that when I get back in bed tonight) was accompanied by lots of cards and gifts from my kids.

There were all kinds of handmade items they had made in school and at their Guides and Beavers groups.

At this point I realised there were some lovely aromas drifting up from the kitchen. On investigation I discovered they had been busy baking – chocolate brownies and peanut butter cookies (gluten free of course).

How awesome is that!!

We had an afternoon out at the beautiful Holmes Place in Clitheroe, home of Bowland Brewery. I love this place, especially when Crafty Vintage are in town and I get to spend time looking at all the beautiful handmade products on offer.

We finished our day off with a walk in the woods and home in time for brownies and Formula 1.

A great day – thank you to my lovely family!

Rock and Sew

One of the prompts from the #Marchmeetthemaker Instagram challenge I’m taking part in was your favourite make.

I used a photo from my most recent custom order – a tiny 10cm high Paul Stanley doll who had gone to join his equally tiny Jon Bon Jovi friend.

Sometimes people ask me to make variations of my existing makes – a different colour hair, adding a name to the front of a doll’s outfit and I really enjoy being able to give people the opportunity to have things just the way they want them – how good would it be if high street shops could change the colour of that otherwise perfect outfit.

However what I really love is when someone gets in touch and asks me to make something completely new. When I first get an enquiry I find myself immediately coming up with ideas, then I have to try and get them down on paper. Sometimes just drawing out the concept can help me see how it would work (or not) in reality.

sketches

From the sketches I can narrow down what I’m going to do and develop paper patterns for the doll. Then its time to get sewing! There are times that my plans don’t quite work out, these dolls are much smaller than my usual makes so working with the denim and leather I used for their clothes became a lot harder than it would in a larger size, but that’s all part of the challenge.

Once they are made then its time to show the pictures to the customer, and that’s when my nerves kick in. My dolls are not exact images of a person or character – after all I’m creating a felt doll not a photograph – so they are my interpretation. When I come to send off the photos I always worry that the customer might have a different interpretation. Its always good to hear that they are pleased with what I have done.

Ive made so many custom orders in the past and haven’t taken any decent photographs before I post them off so I always make sure they have their photo shoot before they are packaged up.

So what would you ask for if you were ordering a custom doll of your own?

Lavender love in a half-empty nest

Its been a big week in our house, in fact the build-up to this week rivalled the pre-Christmas anticipation. My increasingly not-so-little girl has grown into a getting-bigger-by-the-day 10 year old, and this week she has gone away. All week. Without us.

She has gone with her classmates for a week long residential at an outdoor activity centre for 5 whole days of outdoor adventures and challenges, all taking place it turns out in pretty much sub-zero temperatures.

She was utterly excited to be going and couldn’t wait to go kayaking, rock climbing, caving and all the rest of it. We have had daily updates from the teacher with loads of pictures and it seems they are all having an amazing time. However I couldn’t help wondering if, as she got into bed on that first night away, she might miss home at least a little bit.

So before she went I made her a little gift and I managed to sneak it into her suitcase as she was leaving, along with a card from us and a handmade card from her little brother.

Sometimes she finds it hard to get to sleep and I worried that lying in a strange bed surrounded by giggly friends that might be even more difficult so in the rare moments she wasn’t looking I made her a quick lavender heart pillow to keep in her bed. It was really quick and easy to make and you can rustle one up yourself if you have a few simple items.

I started by making my own paper patterns. I wanted it to be heart-shaped so I folded paper in half and drew one side of a heart then cut it out so it would be symmetrical. I also drew and cut out a simple ‘L’ to add her initial to the front of the heart.

pattern pieces

I used felt to make the pillow – two pieces of red felt for the heart itself and a small piece of purple (her favourite colour) for the letter. Make sure the pieces for the heart are larger than the pattern piece – approximately 1 inch bigger all the way round than the pattern itself. I started by cutting the letter shape out of the felt and then stitched it with a simple running stitch onto the middle of one of the pieces of red felt. I used my sewing machine but it could be done just as easily by hand.

Once the letter was attached I pinned the heart pattern to the top piece of red felt (making sure the letter would sit in the correct place on the heart when finished) and then pinned the two felt pieces together. Again I used my sewing machine to stitch the two pieces together, using the pattern piece as a guide for my sewing.

Once I had sewn almost the whole heart together I stopped and filled the middle of the heart with a mixture of toy stuffing and lavender, stuffing it through the un-sewn gap until it was full enough. Once I had enough filling in I continued sewing until the gap was closed.

unfinished heart

I then trimmed all the way around the heart, leaving a border of around 1cm of felt as evenly as possible. Then I worked all the way around the edge cutting into the felt with small embroidery scissors to make a fringed effect around the edge.

And that was it – a little handmade piece of home to help her get some well-earned sleep each night.