Happy Easter Lovelies xx
So, here we are, February already and Valentine’s day literally just around the corner. Every year I struggle to be organised with this day and this year is no exception.
As you know, September to Christmas is my absolutely manic time of year and from January until at the very least the end of February I am still dealing with the aftermath of that frantic time. I have only just found a permanent home for my 4 very large boxes of Christmas Decorations which has caused bedlam – nothing new there then! We also launched full-scale into loads of work on the house the very minute all our guests went home but that is another story and a whole load more blog posts.
During last season’s events, I was approached by no less than 3 lovely WI ladies who run groups locally. I was so flattered to be asked to go and talk about myself (really it’s true!) and my creative life and perhaps do a demonstration. My first one was on Wednesday and I thought as Valentine’s day is almost upon us, and I create a lot of heart products, it would be rather lovely to do a tutorial for a pretty Patchwork Heart Valentine Card. The fabulous thing about this is, that it would look even better on fabric or even on a canvas and the process is exactly the same. What a lovely birthday gift it would make for someone special – I would be so touched if someone spent the time to make me one of these and I would keep it forever.
First of all, you need to choose your card. I love to make cards with a lovely scalloped edge and especially as it is Valentine’s day I feel this adds to the Romantic look and feel of this theme. I find it easier to work on it with the card open flat, as it won’t keep ‘bouncing’ open whilst you are working on it which is rather annoying, especially when it is so fiddly and time-consuming.
Secondly, either cut from paper or find a heart shape that works for the front of your card. Remember to allow a little space at the top for either stamping or hand writing your message. If your stamping skills are a little dubious to say the least, (you know who you are!) then do your stamping or message writing now, so that you do not ruin your beautiful card. If you have been on one of my workshops, then frankly you have no excuses whatsoever……….Hmmm.
I have chosen to use one of the wooden heart blanks I make a lot of, as it is the perfect size for my card. I sell a lot of these so if you have bought one from me then draw round the edge very carefully, making sure it is both central and there is room for your message.
Now we are ready to start applying the fabric. I have chosen, rather obviously, red. This is brilliant for using up your little scraps of fabric, of which I have far, far too many. This is just my ‘reds’ department, with a little bit of green sneaked in to the corner but I have a basket like this for each colour and 2 overflowing ones for pink!
The idea is to hand cut each patchwork piece in lots of different fabrics to fit your heart exactly. And no, you cannot cheat and just ‘stick and overlap’ each piece of fabric because it will look like your child has made it – you know I am right.
Here is a pink patchwork bird my now not so ‘little man’ Ben, made for me when he was around 7 and below is a red patchwork elephant Charlotte made for her baby sister when I was in hospital in labour with Ruby, she was 11 at the time. I think they are absolutely adorable, although I am somewhat biased, but I do think you can tell that they have been done by a child.
Try and pick co-ordinating fabrics whereby the ‘tone’ is the same – i.e; don’t put a deep raspberry or burgundy (no-one uses that word anymore but you know what I mean) with a scarlet or bright red unless of course you love it in which case, carry right on! Make sure you have a variety and bear in mind that if you use all different weights of fabric, such as cottons and canvas, it will have a much more uneven look and be a little more rustic. I do tend to use all different weights, generally because I love all the different fabric patterns that I have. I also try to ensure that I have a stronger piece like a dark background with a tiny dot next to a less strong piece such as a flower on a white background. If you follow this throughout, when finished, this will give a far more cohesive and even look. You could also just use say 2 or 3 different fabrics, say blue stripe and blue and white dotty and the simplicity of that design can look stunning. You could also use scraps of ribbon too if they work with your colour scheme. Always remember, it’s whatever makes you smile.
I always start in the middle and work outwards. I tend to cut a few first, into little squares or rectangles and see how they gel together. Use little tiny ‘snips’, embroidery or very small scissors. Once you have quite a few cut and you are happy with the ‘flow’ of the colours then stick those down. You may need to lightly trim the edges so they sit neatly side by side. You are not necessarily aiming for them all to be the same size, just no overlapping and nice straight edges on the middle pieces of fabric. If a fabric piece overlaps slightly once glued, gently nudge it with your fingernail or something like scissors or the wrong end of your brush to move it over a millimetre or two so it lays nice and straight. Don’t put too much glue out at once, as you will soon realise, it is very time-consuming and the glue dries out.
Use a nice little flat bristled brush if you have one as it will be much easier to paste with. I tend to use this very sticky glue a lot as it is fab but any PVA glue is absolutely fine. Do not put too much glue on – use just a thin layer – as you do not want to soak the card as it will want to warp and bend. If that happens, keep it flat and put a book or heavy object on it whilst it dries.
I should make you very aware at this point, that it is far too easy to get lost into a rather lovely creative little world and you really could take all day to play around with the positioning of your little squares. It really is rather therapeutic and is now being widely recognised as such, especially when recovering from illness.
Once you get to the edges, place your fabric square onto your card and draw a pencil line onto the fabric so you know where to cut. Try to be as neat as you can but don’t fret too much if you struggle, as we will be putting a trim around the edge to hide any rather dubious cutting!
You will inevitably be left with some teeny tiny gaps which are minuscule to cut, as you can see on the bottom of my heart. Try to use fabrics which are a contrast to the pieces used around them as otherwise they will just blend in. You are best to apply the glue to the card when you do these and you may well need to get the tweezers out!! However, if you really cannot cope with these teeny areas then you could always colour them in with pen, however, practice really does make perfect.
Once your, now rather beautiful looking heart is complete, it is time to add a trim around the edge to finish it off. You really can use anything for this but one of the easiest trims to use is ric rac. Firstly, it is quite widely available in a large amount of scrumptious colours and indeed widths, secondly, due to the fact that it is ‘wavy’, it not only adds interest and depth but it is easy to bend and shape, particularly along the curved edges. It probably goes without saying that I have rather a lot of it so, after just a teensy amount of deliberation as to quite which tone of red I was going to use, out came the narrow crimson ric rac.
Again, start at the top in the centre and try to cut a nice mitred edge (as you would find on the corner of a picture frame) so that when you have gone right round your heart and you join the trim at the top it will sit nicely together. Whatever you do, do not cut at this stage, what you feel is the right length of trim, as it is far too easy to cut it too short, only realising when it is too late!
You might wish to change your brush at this stage, as your nice flat one will probably be too big. Choose a little pointed brush head no wider than your trim. Only glue approximately 2cms at a time, as the fabric trim will readily absorb the glue and dry really quickly, causing you to re-glue. When you lift the trim to glue the next section, hold the part you have just glued down with one or two fingers as it will want to lift. Again, do not use too much glue as it will squeeze out the sides. Try not to get it onto the card.
When you get to the bottom point of the heart you can either bend the trim into a v-shape and carry on or, if it does not sit well like this and the back is the same as the front, you can bend it back on itself so you are effectively now using the back as I have done.
Once finished, you can decide if you would like to add a little embellishment such as a button or a flower etc. Remember, if you are creating this as a card and you wish to post it, don’t choose an embellishment that is too high. I have chosen a tiny sparkly flower.
Finally, choose what, if any, message you would like to stamp or write on the top – or indeed wherever else you would like your message to appear. After deliberating over these stamps, as much as I love the top large stamp, I felt it was too fussy and would have detracted from the patchwork heart. Less is more!
So there you have it, I so want to make a pink one on fabric and put it in a little frame but alas, I must move rapidly on to Mother’s Day and Easter.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the lovely WI ladies for having me. I was a little nervous that they may not find it interesting but I need not have worried, as they listened avidly and lots of sweet and delightful ladies came up to me afterwards and told me how fascinating they found my talk and demonstration. I could have stayed and chatted for ages………..Hmmm……..nothing new there then.
I am booked in to do another talk and demonstration to make little Handmade Christmas Trees in the Autumn with another group and I can’t wait!
I would really love to see your creations and see what you think.
Happy Valentines Day.
For those of you that don’t know it is that time of year again where I have a huge Open House / Christmas Sale.
I open up my house to all my lovely customers and to the delightful people who I have met at fairs and events throughout the year and to whoever else would like to come.
As always, I will have 2 rooms full of my handmade items, lots of fabulous scarves – most of them £6.99, pretty jewellery – most of it under £10, loads of fabric remnants – much of it Vintage Laura Ashley, Cath Kidston and Designers Guild and lots of other lovely things too including some Vintage goods.
This year it will be held over 2 days at the end of next week – the location and opening times are detailed below:
Fri 18th Nov – 9am – 5pm
Sat 19th Nov – 10am – 5pm
Glos, GL55 6ED
Hope to see you there – friends, family and children are welcome.
A large majority of the projects we have done in this house have been designed to precision around us and our needs as a family, and our hallway is no exception. Being a family of 5, we have a large amount of coats, shoes, hats & scarves and general paraphernalia that most families have.
When we made the decision to knock through from our snug to our kitchen to make one large room, I had to make a very important decision as to which doorway to keep. Both doors lead off from the hallway but the original kitchen door was a little nearer to the front door by a couple of metres and I guess easier access and would be the ‘logical’ one to keep. If we kept that one, it would mean a shorter journey into the kitchen which is always a plus, particularly if you are loaded up with shopping. However, we do have double doors leading from outside into the kitchen from the Aga/cupboards end, which can be, and indeed are, used for that purpose.
This picture, taken one Easter, shows the front door on the left of the photo and the original kitchen door on the right – as you can see, it would have been more logical to keep this one.
The other access which was the original Snug doorway, was also semi-opposite the stairs and I don’t know why, but it just seemed so much more hassle to ‘go that way’ when entering the new kitchen space. We could also have put a small piece of furniture in that area of the hallway if we had blocked up the Snug doorway.
I also had to consider our kitchen table position, our kitchen seating/chill/play area and our current and future fridge/freezer and furniture – dressers etc., – locations as well. I should possibly mention at this point that when we purchased our house, it was originally designed as a holiday cottage with disabled access and did not even have a proper entrance or doorway into the kitchen from the hall. We did therefore have to build one, which was all beautifully done and finished, but we will just brush that thought right on under the carpet (or sisal!) shall we, as I could not allow that to influence my decision.
I really gave this many hours of thought and planning, especially as it would impact on so many areas of our main living spaces and, you know me, much to Mr Chandeliers utter despair, I am never one to ‘just go with anything because it seems logical’ or indeed because it would undo building work we have beautifully done and finished. So, after much deliberation, lots of sketches, detailed drawings, measuring and general faffing about which Mr Chandelier finds both amusing and tiresome in equal measure, I decided to block in the original kitchen doorway………you so knew that was coming didn’t you!
One of the biggest deciding factors for me, was that it did of course mean we could have a giant coat and shoe cupboard, although if we had given that space to the kitchen it would have meant a fabulous recess for a giant fridge/freezer or indeed a wider table area or numerous other things which I won’t go into. However, with our coat and shoe collections growing by the day and the fact that we could no longer keep a large proportion of our coats on the back of the Snug door as the snug would no longer exist, the thought of such wonderful Hallway order won me over. I did however realise at this point, that it was going to be quite a painful process to bring my ‘grand cupboard’ to fruition…….Hmmm……..we started it last year and have still not quite finished.
The biggest issue was ‘shoehorning’ – yes really – all that stuff in, and not just the physical act of squishing it in there, but the fact that it really needed to be functional and easy to get to everything because, as I am sure those of you with children (especially teenagers) will appreciate, it is hard enough to get them to do any kind of clearing up as it is, let alone if there is any kind of hassle attached. We originally had a lovely old ‘merchant’s chest’ and each family member had one large drawer – lined with oilcloth – for their shoes and footwear and a small drawer for hats, scarves and gloves. This left a couple of drawers for Ruby’s pram blankets and other Baby bits and pieces. There was however, one member of the family who had far more than could ever fit in there (42 pairs of shoes at last count and 12 pairs of boots plus trainers and so on!) but that is a whole other story with a whole other cupboard and I don’t think we need to both shame and highlight that person do we?!
Out came my drawings and in came the start of a major search for containers/baskets/boxes which would bring my drawings to life. As always, the biggest problem was the measurements for all of these things had to be very precise and I knew it would, and indeed it did, take a lot of searching to find what I needed. Fortunately for me, and my family, especially Mr C, we are all very patient and as we have lived in chaos for what seems like forever, what is another few months between friends……….or family! The only problem was Mr Chandelier did constantly keep asking me for measurements as he wanted to know the exact location of the shelves and the rail so I did really need to find my ‘storage vessels’ so we could move forward.
Now you know how much I love Christmas and whilst on a visit to one of my local fabulous garden centres, I found these rather gorgeous faux fur baskets with leather type handles. My mind started ticking somewhat, actually it was almost exploding, and after being in there for hours – even little Ruby who loves looking at all the Christmas loveliness with me for ages was wanting to go home – therein began the start of what the garden centre genuinely thought was a major ‘faux fur fetish’. It started with I think, just one rectangular basket in two different sizes in a scrumptious grey/brown faux fur and ended with me going back there about 5 or 6 times, with an incredibly patient and helpful lady called Elllie phoning round other branches. I think I have now ended up with around 18 different fur baskets in different shapes and sizes and 2 colours (I know you’re thinking ‘fur fetish’ and I did wonder myself!) However, once they came home, they seemed to fill up ludicrously quickly and they started sneaking off to other rooms. Both ‘my girls’ have sweet little cream ones as laundry baskets – you see, you are starting to understand now aren’t you – they are really cute and extremely useful!
Fortunately, I could just about squish 5 large baskets in a row on the first bottom shelf. There is one for each person for hats, scarves and gloves and as each basket is so much bigger than the original small drawer we all had, they can also accommodate other garments such as waterproofs for Ruby’s outdoor wet play and so much more. The next shelf up then has Ruby’s ‘coat cardigans’ in one fur basket and her baby blankets in the other.
I now also have a Packing & Sending parcels Department, a Paper & carrier bag Department and an Outdoor Lantern & Tea light Department – I mean come on, is that cool or what? It just brings me such order to my frantic life when I need to mail something, or find a bag, although I do agree it is a tad spoilt to have an Outdoor Lantern & Tea Light Department but really, they do ‘need’ to go somewhere! As you can see, I can also fit the outdoor garden chair and bench cushions in there too which is just brilliant. I will probably move them up to the top shelf soon, now that Autumn has arrived, as they won’t be used until next spring. This means that the Packing Department can come down and with Christmas rapidly approaching, this makes more sense over winter.
This just left the final, but biggest hurdle – what to do with all the shoes? I had always thought, even before the cupboard was built, that the ‘Drona’ boxes you can see sitting on the floor would be perfect, but quickly realised that because in due course we plan to put doors on our cupboard, the frame would be in the way and not allow me to have the 5 boxes for each family member that I needed. Although they would just squish in, they would be a nightmare to manoeuvre in and out to get to the shoes.
I then subsequently spent many hours searching and looking for a solution. I had finally resigned myself to having some bespoke wooden boxes on wheels made to my spec, when one day Mr Chandelier asked me a really simple question that made me rethink things. It was a typical ‘completely innocent man comment’ which had I not been in such an ‘open minded mood’ could have easily got an ‘are you actually an alien type look!’ You want to know now don’t you? Ok, he simply asked “Why do all the shoe boxes have to be on the same row?” Hmmm……………where do I start, space, practicality, it’s not aesthetically pleasing or simply – it’s just plain wrong! But, really, why – especially when I was struggling to fit them all in and, each box needed to be pretty spacious as we all had a fair few pairs of shoes and footwear to accommodate. I pondered his question for a few days and resigned myself to the fact that right now, it would be sensible to not be so pedantic about the visual aspect of my scrumptious cupboard and go with one box on the shelf, however much it ‘jars’ with me!
So, we decided that as he has the least amount of shoes, Mr Chandelier would have the shoe box on the shelf and not the floor and off to the ‘Kingdom of Storage’ (namely Ikea) we went.
We purchased 6 of the Drona boxes in the most perfect taupe colour, which incredibly, totally matches the hallway woodwork which is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Archive. See how perfect they are for the shoes – they fit loads of pairs in too. We initially bought 6 so we could have 1 to spare, thinking that the children might ruin them but once they were built, I thought it looked better visually to put 2 on the shelf so used the spare one for cushions. However, at just £2.50 each, I think we could cope if we needed to replace one or two!
Now they were fine to pull in and out on the sisal flooring but, fully loaded (some more than others!), although they were ok, because of the weight they were harder to push in straight and I couldn’t have that could I. So I asked Mr Chandelier to cut some squares of hardboard for the floor boxes and we silicone glued them on to the bottom of each box, with the shiny side of the hardboard facing the floor, so that when you pull each shoe box out, the shiny hardboard slides rather nicely on the sisal. If we ever change the flooring to tiles, then I will rethink and probably put fabric – Ooh we could even have fur – omg – underneath instead.
Since the cupboard has been finished, something absolutely shocking and unbelievable has happened that I never envisaged – all the children actually put their shoes away ……….Without being hounded…………Every Day…………Omg…………Incredible…….. I can assure you it has nothing to do with ‘the look‘ they get when they come in! Sooo hope it continues.
The final job is to make the doors, a feat in itself, as there was a lot that need to be thought about. They have been well and truly started……….Hmmm…….Christmas maybe?……It’s on ‘the list‘……but it’s a very long one……..Watch this space!
Where do you keep all your coats, hats and shoes – do you have a special cupboard or are they all over the place, a bit like ours were……….I would love to know.
I have just added these gorgeous Large 30cm high Letters to my Etsy shop today.
I have been making rather a lot of these lately and have lots more different designs to photograph and then add to my shop, including lots more floral ones and the most adorable Vintage Style letters I have designed for children’s rooms with little wooden stars and bunnies added to them.
I really can’t wait to share them with you but right now I definitely do not have enough hours in my day!
Firstly, I have this Cotswolds Vintage and Handmade Fair I am frantically making stock for. I have only ever been as a customer in the past and have always spent lots of money on the genuinely fabulous stalls they have. It is predominantly Vintage with some Handmade stalls whose goods all have a Vintage style. I will of course be sharing that style with my handmade products, which is mostly my style anyway, and I will also have some Vintage pieces with me too. I will also take some Vintage Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston fabrics with me to sell, probably as fat quarters and will try to have some of the new Creative Kits ready to take that I am currently designing and creating. I am really looking forward to it and, as a shopper, I can’t recommend it highly enough – I just hope I get a chance to shop too!
I am also running a few painting and distressing workshops right now and it is of course the wonderful Summer holidays and I am trying to prepare for a holiday. Added to that Prince Chandelier Ben, my 18 year old is, under my constant supervision, painting all the outside windows and doors on our cottage. He has actually been working for Mr Chandelier and I for several years and is doing an excellent job and I am just about managing to keep any teenage tantrums at bay (phew!). I am also doing numerous different house refurbishment jobs around the house, as is Mr Chandelier, and I am trying to help him as well as doing my own stuff, kind of running between the two of them, Princess Chandelier Charlotte and my Littlest Chandelier Ruby Blue, who are thankfully being as good as gold……..Hmmm…..so hope I haven’t spoken too soon……don’t read this out loud!
Lots to share with you soon, including some fabulous makeovers, scrumptious new products and exciting new workshops coming up.
So where shall I start? Hmmm, Hobbycraft I think.
All their Gutermann sewing threads are half price at present so I felt it would be a little rude not to purchase a few reels as I do go in there a lot and I can’t not buy anything at all can I? (Shh don’t tell Mr Chandelier as he would probably be utterly horrified at that statement!).
I will also admit to being just a little bit seduced by the sparkly threads shimmering in the sunlight calling for me to take them home! Also, at £1.55 instead of £3.10 for the sparkly threads and just 77p instead of £1.55 for the non sparklies they were a bargain.
Another half price product that I purchased was this fat quarter bundle in pinks and purples. They are by Kirstie Allsopp and were reduced from £11.00 – which I would not have paid as I only really loved the floral ones – down to £5.50 which worked for me. If each fabric had been available by the metre, I would have happily paid more and bought bigger quantities of the 2 florals but they aren’t available by the metre, so half price worked for me. Although as you know, I have thousands of different fabrics, I am a little lacking in my purple and lilac departments so they had to come home with me! I think they are going to stop selling her fabrics which is why they are half price.
In the same purple and lilac vein, I did have to purchase this rather lovely ‘Violet Marguerites’ (what a fab name) fat quarter which, to be honest doesn’t really belong on this post as it was certainly not cheap at £6.00 but it is gorgeous and I kept looking at it every time I went in and as I so need more of this colour I bought it.
Still in Hobbycraft, I bought some of these little heart embellishments for just £1.00 a pack. I do have them in lots of different colours but I had white and not cream so I needed cream ones too. They are shimmery on one side and matt on the other which is perfect I always work with both.
I also had to have this tiny tray of little wooden shapes which have birds and birdhouses, hearts and flowers and watering cans and butterflies. They were just £2.00 for the whole pack which is brilliant value.
I did also genuinely need these Hemline little lilac heart buttons as I made an angel garland the other day and was searching for small lilac heart shapes and struggled to find lots of choices. Hard to believe I know, with all my materials, but true! At £2.00 for 17 they weren’t that cheap but I needed them.
Talking of Dunelm, I bet you don’t associate them with Fabric and Craft Supplies do you? Well the sad part is that they did used to have a fab craft department selling all sorts of supplies from artists brushes to ribbons, from paper craft products to beads and sequins and much more in-between. I presume it didn’t sell well for them as they have stopped doing most of it however, they do have a fabric department with good prices on the fabrics that they do sell. They do quite a good selection of oilcloth too.
They also have fabulous reductions on sale fabrics and I really only purchased this Newport fabric in Hibis (pink) because it was half price. It was reduced from £10.99 per metre to £5.50 but I only purchased half a metre for £2.75 as I like, but don’t totally love, the colour. However, I do absolutely love it in the faded blue, so I also bought half a metre in that colourway too. The only thing to bear in mind with Dunelm fabrics is that they only sell in half metre lengths so you cannot have for example, 3/4 metre, which is marginally annoying but do keep an eye out for remnants as I have bought quite a few in the past and they are brilliant value.
Even though, as I said above, they have stopped selling a lot of craft materials they do still have a very good habadashery department which again, is fairly priced, and has a good selection of trimmings, cottons, glues, ribbons and buttons etc., far more than you would expect, so hunt down those aisles!
Moving on to The Range, these paper flowers above, in pretty pinks and lilacs are £1.00 per pack, which is what most of their craft materials are, but I thought these were faulty as a lot of the gold flower centres are missing. However I bought them in blues too and they are the same so I figured that was probably how they were meant to be. I also tend to change or add to the centres when I create anyway so it doesn’t really matter to me, but if you are bothered don’t buy these.
Finally on to The Works, this three pack of Glitter craft tapes, (like washi tape) is excellent value at £1.50 for all three.
I will confess to perhaps buying a little more than appears on this page but sometimes I get home and literally tear my new materials open straight away as I just can’t wait to ‘play’. I also buy materials from Antique Fairs and Sales and Boot Fairs and anywhere else my magpie eye spots something pretty or sparkly!
What craft supplies and materials have you bought lately? Were they bargains or didn’t you care as ‘you just had to have them!’