Sunday 27 November 2011

Felt and Bead Christmas Tree Decoration Tutorial

This idea and tutorial owes a great deal to Karen Jinks and the UK Handmade magazine (Winter Issue 2011).  There you will find a wonderful tutorial for a pine tree Christmas decoration.

Each year, at my work (which is an after-school club for children aged 4 to 11) the children make Christmas tree decorations.  I introduced sewing to the club with great success as the children are full of enthusiasm and great ideas.  Last year we made felt Christmas trees  and baubles with sewn on beads.  As we have many of the same children, I wanted something a little different.  I also have to think that this is something that has to be made by 4 year olds as well as the older children.

I saw the felt pine cone decoration and it stuck in my head.  But the thought of having to cut out all those flower shapes did fill me with dread.  So what could I think of to make a simpler but effective decoration?  And so this is is - the felt Christmas Tree decoration.  And if you go look at the pine cone decoration, you will see how much debt I am in to Karen for this.

I enlisted the help of my daughter to make this. Isn't it interesting how difficult it is for children to find the middle of something?  Still her tree turned out better than my try.


About 7 triangles of felt. Each one will be slightly bigger than the one before (it doesn't have to be green - there are lovely felt colours out there and also many homes now have pink or red or black trees)
One large bead or bell (the bell I have used is a bit bigger than I wanted but it is the only size they had in my local shop)
Embroidery thread
Needle to thread

Thread your choice of embroidery thread through the bell (or bead) and then thread both ends through the needle again.

Thread through the middle of the largest triangle.

Then thread your choice of bead on top.

Continue in this way until you have threaded all the triangles and beads on.

Finish with a bead on top. Then knot the thread so you can hang it on the tree.

Thank you Mary.

Mary couldn't wait to hang it on her Christmas tree.

I tired a version using triangles cut out with my pinking shears.

And at the bottom I used a big bead from a necklace I had cut up.

I am looking forward to the children at my work trying it out.  I will try and get a photo of their creations for you to see.

And if you make any then please let me know.

Don't forget to check out the original pine cone decoration at the UK Handmade magazine.  UK Handmade is a great place for UK based artists, designers and makers to get help, meet others and promote their works. So go and look here

Friday 25 November 2011

Books I love - 'On Hitler's Mountain'

Irmgard Hunt was born in Nazi German in 1934, in Berchtesgaden a village next to Hitler's headquarters.  As a toddler she was photographed sat upon Hitler's knee. At that time both she and her parent's were fervent supporters of Hitler and the Nazi regime.

With the advent of war and as she grew older, Irmgard came to question this belief.

This is a lovely book.  It is wonderful to read of life in a mountain village as it changes due to war and the deprivations of defeat.  It is interesting to read of the insights of life in Germany at that time, as seen through the eyes of a growing child and young woman.

As someone born in England in the late 1960s, Nazi Germany and Hitler to me are, obviously, hate figures. To people in my country and my generation it is not always easy to understand how Hitler and the Nazis could rise to power and how the ordinary people in Germany and Austria could be accepting of it all at that time.

Therefore I found this such an insight into that time.  Not all Germans were supporters of Hitler and some that were soon changed their minds.

I do recommend this book.

On Hitler's Mountain by Irmgard Hunt. Published in 2005 by Atlantic Books, London.  My copy was borrowed from the library. 

Thursday 24 November 2011

Going Promotin' , Going Promotin'

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to our friends from and in the USA.

I am having a special promotion this weekend. So starting from Black Friday 25th November, to Cyber Monday 28th November - I will be offering FREE SHIPPING on everything in my etsy shop.

Plus if you make a purchase over that weekend I will send you a coupon code to get discounts off further purchases int he future.  It could be 5%, it could be 25% - it will be a surprise.

Shop now at Bigbluebed.

The title of this post should be sung along to the tune of 'Going Courtin' from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Old Portsmouth - Exercises in Fire Rescue

On Saturday we went to a Christmas Fair in City Cathedral, Old Portsmouth.  Afterwards we decided to walk along the front.  Old Portsmouth is one of my favourite places.  It used to be rough and ready and not a place you would want to go to at night (unless you were a certain type of person looking for certain things). Ok, I am talking about a couple of hundred years ago.

Now it is a very desirable place in Portsmouth.

My Great Aunt used to live in one of the houses there (before the area became expensive), and we have visited it lots.  I got had my wedding reception there too.

If you walk along from Southsea along the front, it is a lovely walk.

On Saturday we were lucky enough to catch some firemen doing an exercise.  They extended the ladder very very high.

Then swung it over the walls to the beach.

And on the other side they picked up an 'injured' person to take them to safety.

It was all very interesting.  These, by the way, are the  Hot Walls.  People come to sunbathe and in the middle on November, there were a couple of men in down tot heir bathers trying to get the sun.  Believe me, you are lucky I did not take a photo of that!

Friday 18 November 2011

Work in Progress - Crochet

At the moment I am working on something from a book that I am reviewing.

I have been crocheting for about 2 years but only ever do a bit now and again. So I forget what to do nearly every time and have to look it up.  I am more of a natural knitter, I think.  However, I am enjoying making this.

It is probably difficult to tell what it is yet. Any ideas?

WIP - crochet

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Custom Dorset Button Hair Clips

A while ago I told you about a custom order I was doing. I couldn't show the photo then as they had not been received but now that they have...

My lovely customer asked for a colour that I did not have in stock at that moment but she was happy for me to surprise her but she did like orange and another colour I had mentioned.

So I decided to experiment and chose 3 colours. DMC embroidery thread has 6 strands. I took 2 strands from each of the colours to make a new 6 strand custom colour.   Mrs Lovely was very happy and I am too.   The colours remind me of Autumn.

I have done a mix like this before and will do again.

Remember - I do custom buttons, by themselves or on clips, so do let me know if you fancy something. 

Places I love - Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

Sometimes you go back to a much beloved childhood favourite place, and it is a big disappointment.  Not this time!  I haven't been to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for years and years.  I think we used to call it Singleton but that is the name of the village next to it.

You visit Weald and Downland and it is almost like stepping back in time.  There are houses and buildings saved and moved to the museum, from the 13th to 19th century. All set in lovely countryside, with woods and a pond.

A view over the village. There are other houses dotted about the site.

We went this time because they had a Christmas Craft Market. All over the site were lots of stalls with lovely people selling their wares.

We visited the houses, and peered into their nooks and crannies and talked about them with the wonderful guides that were there.

There was one house, and I am sorry but I have forgotten which, where two ladies were baking bread.  Although when we popped in they were still kneading.  It was a lovely sunny day and we went into this room which at first appeared pitch black.  You thought 'how can anyone live and work in such a dim light' but after a while your eyes adjusted and it seemed so nice after the glary bulb lighting we have at home (I know I would say different if I had to sew in such a light).

My very modern girl in front of a lovely cottage.
Then in another the fire was lit and I thought I could happily sit in the wooden chair watching the fire all day.

My sister and I agreed that we would move into one of the cottages if we could.  For the summer months anyway!

My daughter enjoyed herself having her face painted and doing some painting herself.

It was lovely to see all the dogs too as we are all great dog lovers.

I have to admit that although there was a lovely atmosphere, I would go again in a quieter time when I could appreciate the houses a bit more because although we could look in the ones nearer the wood, the ones in the main square were packed full of people.  And a word of advice, if you go to the Craft Fair next year  please go early as it does get packed later on and you will have a wait for parking too (we went early and saw lots of people queuing to come in as we left).   However, it was wonderfully organised and a great day.

I bought some flour that was milled in Lurgashall Mill, on the site.

I also bought home some leaflets with details of courses. You can also see them on the website here.  I think I would happily do any of those courses.

I hope to do back soon and visit.  

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Products I love - Braille Christmas Cards

As soon as I saw these cards I knew I wanted to tell the world! They are so beautiful - visually and tactually. Perfect for those sighted people wanting to send a card to a blind or partially sighted friend and vice versa. Basically they look good and they feel good. 

Christmas Braille Greeting Card
The example above says 'Xmas'. There are other messages available and you can also ask for something else. The cards are also available in aluminium but I love this rich copper.

Available from ggsarts on etsy. 

So do go and check out their shop and see the whole range available. Simply beautiful.

Friday 11 November 2011

Following the Pink and Green Theme

Day 9 of Make a Day (Wednesday)
My pink and green hair snaps proved popular. I had a darker version of both colours and decided to make another pair using those. The buttons are also different as I have done one more row of the inner colour mainly because I forgot how many rows I did in the original ones.

pink and green snaps version2 007

Day 10 Thursday
I thought I would continue the theme of pink and green and make a beaded button. I have made these before in the bigger sizes but this is the first one in the tiny buttons. The middle colour looks redder in this photo which gives it a Christmas feel.  I might stick this on a hair clip. I am still deciding.
pink and green snaps version2 005

You can see the size of the little beaded button in this photo where it sits next to hair clips using the bigger ring.
pink and green snaps version 2 and beaded button

I also have been thinking about making new tags for items I send out. In tidying my fabrics I found this one and decided this will do very nicely for my first ones.

 I embroidered the 'Bigbluebed' on a ribbon some time ago using left over bits of embroidery thread. I thought that people could use bits of the tags in their own projects if they wish. I can see that the one on the left is over embellished, so I will just keep to the simple looking ones like on the right perhaps with one button.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Jellyfish & Buttons

Day Seven (Monday 7th November 2011) - Making failure.  We left the house for the morning and went to town for Christmas present browsing. This was so our lovely plumber could put in the new radiator.  Our flat is tiny and 3 people in it would have been a nightmare.   In the evening I had an annoying headache and  made nothing. Sorry but I am not going to overly worry as there will be days when I can do nothing.

Day Eight - Rushed about this morning.  On our shopping trip yesterday I bought a voucher for my niece's 18th birthday.  My husband forgot to take it out of his bag and it went to work with him.  So I had to do a trip to get it back and give it to my niece.

 In the between times - I moved my sewing things from my daughter's bedroom where I dumped ..I mean stored them, back to lounge.

I also practised making this jellyfish in a bottle as I wanted to do it with the children at my work.

This is a really good thing to make.  The children enjoyed making them. Water everywhere. I still have blue fingers from the food colouring.  Great fun.

In the evening I made some Dorset Button Hair Clips.  I love playing with colour and seeing what would look good. I was going to make them with two different shades of green but then I found the pink!  I love pink and green.  A bit shocking and some may hate them. But I love them. They are now in my etsy shop.

I will try the two greens another time.  

Sunday 6 November 2011

Day Six & Snowy Dogs

Today was a day of moving more stuff around.  I try to do little sewing during the weekends so I can devote myself to my daughter who of course is quite happy playing by herself.  But I like to be around just in case.

I have found that I can happily sit and sew in the evenings now. It will be even nicer when the room is warmed by our lovely new radiator. Which I hope will be tomorrow night.

All I managed to do today was practise bow making as I have been asked to make some bow hair clips.

At lunchtime we went to MacDonald's. This is not something we regularly do but they are giving away Tintin toys with their Happy Meals and my daughter is a huge fan.  We saw the movie during Half term and she loved it.  She also loves Snowy and because of this she has a collection of Snowy dogs.  She took some photos this afternoon and as she is asleep, I cannot ask her permission but I will sneak in one shot.

I had been meaning to write less about myself but this make a day challenge means I am constantly talking baout things I make.  So to make the blog more interesting I will start to let you know of some of my favourite makers.

The plumber will be here in the morning and the radiator fitting will probably take all day so I will not get much pc time, or even sewing time.  I will have to rely on having ideas. 

Day Four & Five - buttons and more Tweed Loveliness

Yesterday (Day 4 Friday)  I had to spend lots of time moving sewing accouterments, yarn, fabric and lots of other things into my daughter's room.  We are having a new radiator put in our lounge on Monday so I have to make sure there is room for it.  We still have lots to move (*cries*).

So I did not get any sewing done until the evening when I made 3 little buttons in mustard yellow thread.

Although I did not do a lot of sewing, I was quite creative in other ways.  After seeing other people's newsletters I thought I would restart mine. So the November issue has gone out but I can still send you one.  You can sign up if you look over to the right at the top of this blog page or pop over to here and fill out the form.

Day 5 (Saturday)

Today was also a sew in the evening day.  I made another little button to finish the set of 4 mustard yellows.  I love that colour so also made a bigger pair and made them into hair clips.

Then since I had the hair clips out I decided to make some buttons to go on them, using the tweed fabric you have been seeing so much on my blog and in my shop, and on my facebook, and my flickr....I love it (which you might be able to tell!).

These little buttons are so easy to do. I will be talking about them, and other covered buttons, in the next issue of the Crafteroo magazine (the current issue is still available to read and download from here).  I might give you a little tutorial here on this blog soon.

So back to furniture moving I go.

Friday 4 November 2011

Day 4

My sewing machine was behaving very badly ( a poor worker does blame her tools!) which meant that I got nothing made that I had planned.  However, I did make an order.  I cannot show you until the person receives it. When she does I will post the photo.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Day Three

Despite a bad night, I managed to finish off the teal flower headband, despite the thread on my sewing machine breaking.

Also during a break in the rain, I popped downstairs and took some photos of the shoe clips that I made yesterday. This time modelled on a pair of shoes.

It was the city organised bonfire night and fireworks this evening. We had a long walk there and back. But it was worth it for the lovely display. My feet are aching whilst I sit here and write this though.

See you tomorrow. 

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Day Two

Day Two of my challenge to try and make something every day.

As promised yesterday, I finished the other shoe clip so now have a pair which is always useful if you have two feet, or at least two shoes.

I would have made another hair band but found I didn't have the correct colour thread. I have cut the fabric out ready and bought some thread on the way to work.

Plans for tomorrow are to finish the teal flower which is cut out ready and waiting.  Maybe make a pair of shoe clips.  We will see.