Open for Art 2016

Open for Art 2016

I bloomin’ love jelly.

Nope, I’m not talking about the pink wobbly stuff you have with ice-cream, (although that definitely has it’s place on the party table) I’m talking about Reading’s awesome arts organisation.

The wonderful jelly hosts all sorts of amazing arty events in Reading, including Open for Art which is running from Friday 1 July to Sunday 3 July.

OFA2016

It’s the third year of Open for Art, and this year is bigger and brighter than ever as it’s also celebrating Reading Year of Culture 2016.

Kicking off with an artists breakfast at the Pentahotel at 8am with Sir John Madejski himself, the weekend will see arts trails, crafty events, and even a rave for the under 10s.

The full programme is available to download over here but I thought I’d pick out a few highlights in case, like me, you look at it and go ‘I want to go to everything!’

  • The Artists’ Trail. The lovely photos of art you can see between each event below are a small selection of the awesome work which will be on display as part of the artists trail. You can download a map here and weave your way around town. There’s also a public art trail, a tree trail and a heritage trail which are all explained on the map.
Curiouser by Tim Wilson
Curiouser No. 7 by gooey eye
  • Room. The Open for Art HQ for the weekend is going to be the old Waterstones building in the Oracle, which is going to be transformed into an exhibition space featuring the work of 180 children from five different schools across Reading. They’ve been working with seven artists to create a room per school – including all the wallpaper, vases, chandeliers and wall hangings – and you can check out all the different rooms which will be brought together at Waterstones. Cool huh? You’ll also be able to see a room made by the seven artists – who include Emma Bradbury, an awesome textile artist.
Cley Beach by Emily Gillmor
Cley Beach by Emily Gillmor
  • An Evening of Vintage Glamour. This is taking place at Electric Hairdressing on Friday 1 July, from 6pm-8pm, and will see Reading’s retro experts Alexandra Vintage hosting a night of vintage fashion, hair styling, make-up demos, fizz, discounts, music and cake. Tickets are £15.
Sculpture by Sadie Brockbank
Sculpture by Sadie Brockbank
  • Abigail’s Party. Mike Leigh’s classic film has inspired Milk bar to get all retro for a night of specially created cocktails and music from Demis Roussos. Entry is free, and there’s a prize for the best dressed (think chiffon and flares!). The party is on Friday 1 July from 8pm.
By Neil Horne
By Neil Horne
  • Sitelines presents Walking: Holding. This sounds totally amazing. It’s a performance piece, created by Rosanna Cade which sees one audience member at a time walking down the street holding hands with different people from the local area of all different ages, sexes and appearances. You can just imagine the kind of public reaction it will get. A fascinating social experiment, and well worth paying £5 for. It’s on Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm and you can book at readingarts.com.
Thumbs Down by Matthew Potts
Thumbs Down by Matthew Potts
  • Workshop: Rave and the Under 10s Rave. The Rave workshop will be taking place at RYND on Sat 2 July from 12.3opm-2pm, followed by the Under 10s Rave at 3pm. Parents and children under 10 will be making instruments, and practising dance moves before strutting their stuff with glow sticks at the rave.

There’s also a mini artisan food market, a cultural heritage trail, a tree drawing workshop, the return of the Open Air Art Challenge and loads more talks and workshops. It’s well worth taking a look at the programme, and you never know, you might just discover a hidden art talent which you never knew you had!

Totally addicted to crochet

Totally addicted to crochet

Hello, my name is Caz, and I am a crochet addict.

Somewhere in the last three weeks, I’ve moved from slightly lapsed knitter, into total crochet obsessive. Like Meghan Trainor might say, I’m all about that crochet.

I wrote a post about how I’d sort of taught myself to crochet using the wonderful wisdom of Bella Coco on YouTube, but since then it’s been like a yarn-bombed runaway train.

It started like this…

All my pretty squares
All my pretty squares

And then I got into fancy colour combinations….

Three colours! You wouldn't believe the excitement when I nailed this one.
Three colours! You wouldn’t believe the excitement when I nailed this one.

And then I sort of got carried away and was crocheting all the time. Like, even before work.

It's an addiction people!!
It’s an addiction people!!

The thing I love about crochet, is that a finished granny square happens really quickly once you know how, and the pattern looks pretty, even if it’s quite a basic stitch. My plan now is to crochet at least one square a week while Ben & I are saving for our house deposit, and then by the time we actually move in we’ll have an awesome bedspread or sofa blanket.

I know some people think granny squares are quite old-fashioned, but I absolutely love the effect they have when they’re all put together, looking very handmade but very lovely all at the same time.

Although crochet may have stolen by affections over the last few weeks, I did pick up the knitting needles today to start a new project. It’s going to be a present so I’m keeping it under wraps for now, but I’ll share photos when it’s been given to the recipient.

Now you must excuse me, it’s been at least an hour since I had my crochet hook out and I’m starting to have palpitations about it.

Make Reading: The 12 Days of Christmas

Make Reading: The 12 Days of Christmas

I had my first mulled wine of the year last week (yum!) and it was a warm, cosy, and slightly boozy, hint of all the festive fun to come in the next few weeks.

Mmmm
Mmmm mulled wine

There is so much happening in the next month and I can’t wait for the endless mince pies, carols, sparkly lights, mulled wines, gingerbread lattes, turkey dinners, crackers and Christmas jumpers that it’s bound to bring.

In Reading we’re super lucky with all the festive fun there is going on. The mulled wine was from a little ski-lodge style shack which has popped up at The Oracle riverside (check it out for cute little wooden booths and warm mulled wine), and the Christmas lights went on yesterday so it all looks rather lovely.

And there’s the excitement of Make Reading: The 12 Days of Christmas.

MKE_RDG_facebook profile 2015

Make Reading is run by awesome arts charity Jelly, who are always doing amazing, fun, crafty things.

Running at Jackson’s from 25th November to 6th December, The 12 Days of Christmas, will include a pop up shop filled with gorgeous handmade items from local crafters, retro sweets, vintage treats and knitwear. (Who doesn’t love winter knitwear?!).

Vintage loveliness
Vintage loveliness

There’s also a Santa experience for younger visitors which is being run by Bezerk Productions and Spirited Events from 4-6 December, an evening of festive browsing, fizz, nibbles and advice from Alexandra Vintage, and a night of stories from artist Lisa-Marie Gibbs called Cambodia, cooking and cocktails.

'It's Santa, I know him!'
‘It’s Santa, I know him!’

Without a doubt, the thing I’m most excited about is the craft workshops which Jelly is running across the 12 days. There’s everything from beaded jewellery, to animated Christmas cards and luxury wreaths. I’m signed up to a Christmas cross stitch workshop and I absolutely cannot wait.

If you’re local to Reading I’d heartily recommend checking out www.jelly.org.uk and popping in to join in the festive fun. It’s going to be a brilliant few weeks in the town, and just think, there’s Christmas day at the end of it all too!

Creative coasters with Snapfish UK

Creative coasters with Snapfish UK

Having been to two weddings this year, and with two more coming up, I’m always on the look out for little momentos and gifts to help capture the special moments of the day.

So when Snapfish UK invited me to try out their new creative coasters service I knew immediately I was going to go for a wedding theme.

Although photo coasters have been around for a while, there’s so much more you can do with them than just putting a family photo on, and one of the things I wanted to do with my coasters was to play with the idea of capturing all those little ‘extras’ that make up a wedding, like the flowers and cake.

Luckily I’d taken a few of those kind of shots at Kate’s wedding this summer, so I built those into the set of six coasters, like so:

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The Floral coaster

I love the way the flowers are slightly abstract, but when put with the rest of the coasters (where you can see Kate holding her bouquet), it all creates a strong theme.

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Bride & Groom coaster

The process for creating the coasters is pretty straight forward. You just create, or log into your Snapfish account, and then upload the photos you want to use. You then begin the coaster project, and select your photos. You get the chance to move them around and make sure they’re within the square nicely, and then you click submit and you’re done!

The Cake Coaster
The Cake Coaster

I did have a little trouble with the quality of photos, as when I pulled photos from Facebook they tended not to be high-res enough. It made my choice a little limited, as I had to go with just the photos I’d taken and one was a bit dark, but the overall set looked really nice.

Next time I think I’d plan ahead before the wedding and look out for the ‘quirky’ photo opportunities, like place names for the Bride & Groom at the wedding breakfast, a shot of their wedding rings, the Bride’s shoes, details on the dress etc… to  create a really unique set.

The second set I decided to create for Lori’s wedding were more traditional, using some of the professional photos taken on the day.

The Mr & Mrs coaster
The Mr & Mrs coaster
The full set
The full coaster set

I think my favourite is the photo in the front left, as it’s a really lovely composition.

Overall I’m really pleased with both sets, and at £9.99 for six, it’s a nice little present to gift the Bride & Groom after the wedding to help them remember their day.

I was given a voucher by Snapfish to try out their creative coaster service but all opinions are my own.

 

 

Review: Mink & Stone – Design your own jewellery online

My lovely Mink & Stone bracelet - designed by me!
My lovely Mink & Stone bracelet – designed by me!

One of the things I love most about crafting is the ability to make something which is entirely your own.

Even when you’re following a pattern you can add little details like buttons and ribbons which make it a truly unique piece of work.

And there’s something lovely about wearing something which has come from your own imagination. Like this bracelet from Mink & Stone which I designed myself (so proud!).

My creation :)
My creation 🙂

When Mink & Stone invited me to review their website I absolutely jumped at the chance. They’re based in London and are a company which let you design jewellery online which they then make and ship out to you. It’s a really innovative idea and definitely appealed to the crafter in me.

The process is really easy, and so much fun too. It felt like being at a craft workshop with boxes of beads to choose from, only everything is virtual. Very 21st century!

You create an account and then browse the huge selection of beads. You can save beads into different trays, which helps you group them into different colours or styles, and there’s also some collections like Boho Chic and Bridal which can help if you’re not sure where to start.

You then go into the ‘design your own jewellery section’ where you pick the chain you want, either a bracelet or necklaces of different lengths, and start dragging and dropping your beads on.

My virtual bracelet
My virtual bracelet

This was my favourite bit as you start to see your design come to life, and there’s even a little ‘clink’ sound when you drop your beads on which is a lovely little detail! You can save patterns too which makes life easier if you’re creating a really long piece, and it’s easy to shuffle beads around or remove them if you change your mind.

I had a few different trays of beads on the go but ended up choosing some autumnal colours as it just seemed right with the changing seasons. I also loved the flower beads and knew I wanted to include them.

Had to take a bracelet selfie!
Had to take a bracelet selfie!

The beads have different prices so it’s absolutely possible to keep track and make a bracelet for under £10, or to get carried away (like I did!) and end up with something a bit more extravagant.

When you’re finished you can ‘publish’ your item which means it’s then public and people can buy it if they want to. (You can see mine here). At the checkout you’re also asked if you have a Twitter handle and then Mink & Stone tweet you a photo of your finished bracelet before they ship it, which I thought was a nice touch.

And then it’s the excitement of it arriving! I’d ticked the ‘gift wrapping’ box at checkout, which was no extra cost, and so my bracelet arrived looking all lovely like this:

The bracelet was wrapped in yellow tissue paper and then popped in a little jewellery bag
The bracelet was wrapped in yellow tissue paper and then popped in a little jewellery bag

It was a nice treat to find it on the door mat after work and really exciting to see my design brought to life. Having been a bridesmaid a couple of times this year, it also made me think that Mink & Stone would be a great gift as part of a wedding, as you can really make it personal.

And that’s really the best thing about it. You get to wear something that’s a bit more special than something off the shelf, and there’s that little burst of pride, because you designed it all by yourself.

I was given a gift voucher to review Mink & Stone but all views are my own.

The Big Knit 2015 with Innocent Smoothie and Age UK

The Big Knit 2015 with Innocent Smoothie and Age UK
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Stripes for a minuscule zebra?

If there’s one thing you’ll know from my little old blog – it’s that I blooming love a craft.

And even better than that is a craft which does a little bit of good for the world.

The Innocent Smoothie Big Knit campaign runs every winter with thousands of people all over the country clicking their knitting needles together to make these fellas:

Tiny hats for tiny cats
Tiny hats for tiny cats

All the knitters of the world (maybe not all the knitters, but definitely enough to fill several large circus tents), send their little hats to Innocent HQ by December 11, and they then sit on the top of smoothies in stores in February, making them look all cheerful. And the best bit? For each hat-wearing smoothie sold Innocent donates 25p to Age UK.

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Little woolly hats for small pink bats

Last year the wonderful campaign raised a whopping £215,000 which is enough to pay for 10, 755 older people to have a day (and a hot lunch) at a local Age UK Centre or for 21,511 essential Winter Warmth packs while help keep vulnerable older people safe and warm through winter.

A small hat for a shrunken skiing llama
A small hat for a shrunken skiing llama

I may love sitting in front of Bake Off making fun hats to share on Instagram but what I love more is the thought that I’m contributing, even if it’s just in a tiny way, to a campaign which will help put a smile on the face of, or a blanket around, someone who really needs an extra bit of warmth this winter.

An elf warmer
An elf warmer

I’ve been supporting the Big Knit on Broadsheet Boutique since 2009 when I wrote this post marvelling at the brilliance of the hat clad smoothie I’d picked up in town. Over the years I’ve roped in my lovely Mum who is a total knitting ninja and has helped make lots and lots of hats, (some of which you can see in this post here). She’s already on the case this year and here’s a few of her awesome creations:

My Mum's lovely hats (not for her to wear, that would be silly)
My Mum’s lovely hats (not for her to wear, obvs)

I also learnt my knitting skills from my Mum (thanks!), and this is the first year I’ve actually been able to fire off hat after hat by myself (without having to ask for untangling help every five seconds!).

Since last winter my equally lovely sister Cat has also taken up knitting and so she’s become the third member of our Big Knit team this year. Here are some of her colourful creations so far:

Cat's hats - it rhymes!
Cat’s hats – it rhymes!

It’s actually getting a bit competitive, with text messages and Facebook posts comparing how many we’ve made. Who knows maybe you’ll have to dig each of us out of a pile of woolly hats by December. Let’s hope so!

The Handmade Fair 2015

The Handmade Fair 2015

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Craft days don’t get much better than visiting The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court, meeting craft queen Kirstie Allsopp and spending seven hours making and buying awesome things.

Meeting the lovely Kirstie!
Meeting the lovely Kirstie!

Yesterday was a whirlwind of flowers, paper pom poms, fabric, thread, netting, and wool, and it was amazing.

Which way to the crafts?
To the crafting!

After going to the first Handmade Fair last year and having an amazing day with some of my best friends, I was so excited when I got an email telling me I’d won a pair of tickets after entering a competition on the Handmade Fair website.

But my lucky streak didn’t stop there. A few days later I saw a competition the Handmade Fair was running on Twitter where you had to tweet a photo of something you’d made with the hashtag #lovehandmade to be in with a chance of meeting Kirstie at the fair. I tweeted a collage of my corsage, the guinea pig, and my tea dress and practically squealed with excitement when I got a message saying I’d been shortlisted and would be meeting Kirstie to show her my make.

Fast forward to Saturday morning when Cat and I arrived at the press and bloggers lounge to meet the three other competition winners. (You can check all their amazing makes out on Twitter at @onemancrochet @AnnaIntnational and @HoppsyD).

The competition winners
The competition winners

Kirstie arrived in a golf buggy decorated with bunting (love it!), and we all had a chat about our different makes. I think we were all a little in awe of One Man Crochet who made the amazing outfit above. It took two months to create, which is pretty impressive craft dedication. One Man Crochet was named the very worthy winner but we all had our tickets upgraded to VIP as a runner’s up prize which was such a wonderful surprise!

Woop!
Woop!

After the meet and greet Cat and I went to check out the VIP lounge. Our VIP tickets got us a goody bag, access to the lounge and a glass of bubbles which was such a treat.

These were the bits in my goody bag. I can't wait to try making the felt robbin!
These were the bits in my goody bag. I can’t wait to try making the felt robbin!

There was complimentary tea and coffee in the lounge so we grabbed a cuppa to calm down after all the excitement!

Inside the lounge, which was a huge marquee with tables and a champagne bar
Inside the lounge, which was a huge marquee with tables and a champagne bar

While we were in there we noticed some tables were being laid out with craft materials so being nosy we went over to ask what was happening and were told it was going to be an embroidery session and anyone in the tent could join in. So naturally we took a seat and got ready to craft!

My hoop and material ready for the embroidery session
My hoop and material ready for the embroidery session

The workshop was being led by the lovely ladies from the Crafternoon Cabaret Club who run events in London pairing up craft sessions with performances by cabaret and comedy performers. It sounds like the perfect afternoon and I will definitely be checking it out at some point in the near future.

While we worked on our embroidery hoop designs we listened to the musical comedy genius of Tricity Vogue who was hilarious and fun and sang a song about cats. (What more could you want from a cabaret act eh?). Cat also won a free download of Tricity’s album after guessing correctly that she was playing music from Star Wars.

We both really enjoyed the session and were pretty darn pleased with our finished designs!

I went for a twee little teacup design
I went for a twee little teacup design
Cat went for a '6' to hang in her classroom at work
Cat went for a ‘6’ to hang in her classroom at work

Then it was time for our pre-booked wedding fascinator session. I’d had a brilliant fascinator workshop for a hen do earlier this year and Cat fancied giving it a go after hearing about that one.

Materials for our fascinators
Materials for our fascinators

It was a little bit rushed as we only had an hour to try and get through everything. Our tutor tried her best but she seemed a little frantic as she was trying to explain things really quickly. We had a good go at the birdcage netting, and actually the finished results look okay in the photos!

Cat's birdcage veil
Cat’s birdcage veil
My rather springy veil!
An expression which says ‘I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing right now!’

There wasn’t any time for adding decorations but we did have ribbon and buttons on the table and were invited to take them home to finish off. Cat and I are planning to get together some time to turn them into more impressive creations!

After that it was food time, and there are loads of awesome street food trucks around with everything from wood fired pizza to churros. We went for some French inspired goodness with raclette and poutine (so good!)

Skiing anyone?
Skiing anyone?
Epic poutine
Epic poutine

Next up was shopping! The Handmade Fair has two shopping villages packed with all sorts of wonderful stalls, plus an Artisan Market Place, an Annie Sloan tent, a Mollie Makes tent (the fair is held in association with Mollie Makes), a Janome sewing masterclass area and a Hobbycraft tent (they sponsor the fair).

Lovely little felt decorations!
Lovely little felt decorations!
A cake at the Fiona Cairns stall
A cake at the Fiona Cairns stall
The awesome paint tin wall at Annie Sloan
The awesome paint tin wall at Annie Sloan
An afternoon tea tent
An afternoon tea tent

One of the things I bought was a tote bag from Reloved magazine which had two issues and some craft accessories in, all for £5. I’m looking forward to having a look at the mag this evening.

My Reloved goodies
My Reloved goodies

We also both bought a lucky dip bag from another stall for £2 which had some fab ribbon in. I’ve got all the trimmings now, I just need a project to put them on!

I think the black ribbon would be great on a denim dress
I think the black ribbon would be great on a denim dress

After wandering and shopping we headed to our final workshop of the day, epic garlands with paper makers Peach Blossom.

This was only a 25 minute session so it was a real whistle stop tour, where we turned pieces of crepe paper and ribbon into four different garlands.

From this...
From this…
To this!
To this!

Although the designs were quite simple it gave me lots of ideas to take away. On a bigger scale, and with the right colour scheme, these could make lovely decorations for hen parties or weddings.

Finishing the day in a whirl of crepe paper we went to the Hobbycraft tent to buy pom pom makers (they are the most genius contraption!), and then headed home, very, very happy, after an absolutely wonderful day.

And the first thing I did when I got home? Took out the knitting needles and started a new project of course.

Just horsing around

Just horsing around

Seeing my niece and nephews charging up and down the garden dressed as cowboys and pulling on the reins of their homemade hobby horses brought a big smile to my face on Saturday.

The hitching post and the hobby horses made for the nieces, nephews and friends' children
The hobby horses tied to their hitching post (and with hay which the kids loved trying to feed them, SO cute!)

After quite a few weeks of planning, Ben’s western themed 30th birthday arrived, and the hobby horses met their new owners.

The horses came out of a bit of pre-party Google searching by Ben. He originally stumbled across this post which looked amazing but involved cutting lots of pattern pieces and assembling everything from scratch. With just a few weeks to go and five horses to make it didn’t look possible. Then I found this epic blog post over on Red Ted Art and project hobby horse was back on!

A finished horse!
A finished horse!

The base of the horse’s head is a sock, and we went to Sports Direct in Reading to buy loads of football socks, thinking they would stretch into a good sized horse. They worked really well, and the colours were quite fun too. Our wooden sticks came from B&Q and the bias binding and wool came from John Lewis, although I ended up raiding my fabric trunk for some extra colours. I also used bits of material I had left over from other projects for the eyes and ears and bought some soft toy filling for the stuffing.

You should definitely check out Red Ted Art’s blog post for the full tutorial, but here’s a rough guide on how my horses came together.

The first step was to make a ball filled with stuffing to go on the end of the stick, which stops the stick poking through the sock.

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It almost looks like it has tiny ears already!

You then make a groove a little way down the stick, which helps when you come to tie it together. (That was a Ben job!)

Getting groovy
Getting groovy

The next step is to stuff the sock up to the heel, poke the stick in, and stuff around the ball so it’s all nice and snug. You then tie off the bottom with a piece of string which goes into the groove to make it extra tight. In the tutorial over on Red Ted Art she notes some people chose to glue everything together.

I think I would add a splodge of glue next time as I had to do two emergency hobby horse repairs during the party when the heads came off the stick. (And trust me, becoming an impromptu vet after a few G&Ts is not the easiest of things!).

It's starting to look like a horse...kind of.
It’s starting to look like a horse…kind of.

Once you’ve got your base, it’s all about the details. I worked with the ears first, which were a bit tricky to fasten on as you want them to stand up nicely. The ears were made of three triangles which were machine stitched together and then attached by hand sewing. It was all a bit fiddly but we got there in the end! Ben also did a lot of the cutting out which made things go a little quicker!

Listen up...
We swapped the fabric in the middle so each set of ears was different

The eyes were just made out of felt, and were pinned on and then hand-stitched in place.

Everything is pinned in place before hand-sewing
Everything is pinned in place before hand-sewing

After the ears and eyes are in place you can arrange your bias binding. I ironed mine in half before pinning and sewing. The bias binding is the perfect thickness for the reins when folded in half, and it held up okay when the kids were charging round too! (Phew!).

The bias binding is pressed and then hand-sewn
The bias binding is pressed and then hand-sewn

At this point the sock starts to look like an actual horse (albeit a rather funky coloured one!) but there’s something missing….the mane! Ben was a star here and did all the prep work so I could just whizz through the last stage.

First the wool is wrapped around a piece of card, and secured with masking tape.

It doesn't look much like a mane yet...
It doesn’t look much like a mane yet…

You then slide it off the card (with the tape keeping things in place) and machine sew down the middle. I did three lines down just to make sure it was sturdy. Then you pin it to the horse.

Everything pinned in place
Everything pinned in place

The hair is then handsewn to the horse down the middle (again I did this three times) before you cut all the loops so the wool falls as individual strands of hair. I went through and ruffled the hair up in the middle too so you don’t end up seeing the lines of stitching.

And then you have your horses!

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We kept tucking the finished horses behind the sofa and gradually it grew into a little stable!

It probably took about 2.5 hours per horse, and they’re really fun to make. You could mix and match all sorts of colour and fabric combinations which keeps each horse really unique.

The kids (and grown ups!) seemed to enjoy running around with them, which was so lovely to see, and the very best thing was the text I got from my sister in law after they’d left the party saying: ‘The horses were a hit!! Kids went to bed cuddling theirs’. That’s what handmade gifts are all about.

Making flower corsages with The Crafty Lass

Making flower corsages with The Crafty Lass

There’s something very cool, and slightly embarrassing, about wearing something you’ve made.

When someone says ‘I love your skirt/dress/top’ I kind of going ‘ahthanksitwasreallyeasytomake’ in big long burst of a sentence, without really thinking about what I’m saying.

I think it’s because it feels a bit arrogant to go ‘yep, I made this, all by myself, with my two podgy little hands, and I’m super proud!’.

But secretly you do feel proud, because it’s so lovely to have your crafts admired by other people.

And that happened on Friday when I wore my corsage to the pre-wedding meal of one of my best friends.

My little corsage!
My little corsage!

I’d pinned it to my white cardigan to add a splash of colour and when a few friends said they liked it, I did a little beam on the inside.

The corsage came from a workshop I did with The Crafty Lass last week. It was organised through work, and we spent two hours on a Tuesday evening learning how to make fabric flowers. Totally perfect for me.

Paula had a good range of fabric to choose from and I loved this pink, floral piece, which was a vintage pillowcase!
Paula had a good range of fabric to choose from and I loved this pink, floral piece, which was actually a vintage pillowcase!

The Crafty Lass is Paula and the story of how the company came about is so lovely. When Paula got married she decided to make her own flowers to decorate the church, and to serve as corsages for the bridal party.

There began a project of huge scale, where she made thousands of petals and ended up giving her wedding the loveliest handmade touch.

Now Paula is teaching others how to make fabric flowers through The Crafty Lass.

The process is quite simple, and there are so many different combinations and possibilities for what you can make. There are a few links to different tutorials in a post over on The Crafty Blog Stalker website which give you an idea of the different flowers you can do.

The first step is to cut out the circles which will make your petals
The first step is to cut out the circles which will make your petals

You start with a base circle and then cut a series of big circles and little circles which you fold like a cone to make the petals. The petals are sewn to the base in a circle (like the little wedges on a Trivial Pursuit board) and gradually build up to make a flower.

Depending on what shape you cut you can create different flowers and all of our group decided to go for quite a simple zig zag outer edge which made a flower a little like a Chrysanthemum.

After sewing on the petals you can add a button to the centre (I thought this gave it a vintage look) and then leaves or ribbons to make it more rosette-like. I added green and pink ribbons, a little bit of lace, and a skinny glittery gold ribbon to match the button in the middle.

After than you add a square of felt to the back to hide everything away neatly, and sew on your pin badge.

A little square of felt works wonders to hide any messing sewing!
A little square of felt works wonders to hide any messy sewing!

And that’s really all there is to it. It is quite a delicate process and it’s all hand-stitched so it did take about two hours to make one flower. Imagine how long it must have taken Paula to make all the flowers for her wedding!

The finished corsage!
The finished corsage!

The evening was absolutely fantastic (check out Paula’s blog post on the event here) and I’d recommend The Crafty Lass workshops to both experienced crafters and newcomers. And anyone who does give it a go, and decides to wear their corsage proudly on their cardigan, will know that happy feeling when someone asks where you got it from.

The Crafty Hen

The Crafty Hen

This year I have the absolute joy of not only seeing three of my best friends walk down the aisle but being there beside them as a bridesmaid.

As you’ll know from this post I love a wedding. The thing I love most is all the little touches which make each one unique – the personalised love hearts which echo the proposal, the little tissue in ribbon ‘for your tears of joy’, giving the bouquet to the couple who have been married the longest…I could go on.

But there are also so many other things which make weddings awesome. The dresses, the flowers, the cake and, of course, the hen do! Which brings me, in an ever so smooth link, to the Crafty Hen.

fascinator4

Last weekend I went to Lori’s hen do, a 1920s spectacular in Cambridge. We danced the Charleston in an awesome dance class, we shook and stirred up some Cosmos in a cocktail making session, and, best of all for any lover of crafting, we made our own fascinators.

Our three hour session was run by two lovely ladies from The Crafty Hen. We met them in All Bar One where they laid out all their feathers, ribbons, trinkets and netting.

A treasure trove of trinkets!
A treasure trove of trinkets!

We took it in turns to go up and select our materials, with the experts on hand for advice, and a few example pictures for inspiration.

Let the crafting begin!
Let the crafting begin!

There wasn’t a tutorial as such, but it was pretty straight forward, with lots of pinning and hand-sewing. The netting was a little tricksy, and you can see from the photos it’s not that neat, but we were up against the clock so I figured I could always neaten it up later. (There was a proper Great British Sewing Bee adrenaline rush to get finished at the end!)

Luckily the Crafty Hens had a mannequin on hand for help!
Luckily the Crafty Hens had a mannequin on hand for help!

I decided to go for quite neutral colours so I could hopefully wear my fascinator with various different outfits, and I found an awesome pink gem stone to go in the middle. Every girl needs a bit of bling right?

My finished fascinator, complete with bling!
My finished fascinator, complete with bling!

It was so lovely just having a natter with all the hens while we crafted, and we all stopped for lunch half way through to refuel before powering through to get finished.

The finished fascinators were all so different and all of them looked brilliant.

The bride-to-be's lovely fascinator!
The bride-to-be’s lovely fascinator!

Mine ended up looking a bit 1930s/1940s in style, totally accidental but I kind of like it!

My finished creation
My finished creation

A craft activity is such an awesome idea for a hen party. It brings everyone together and is a great way to get to know the other hens, while making something fabulous to take home.

So much fun
So much fun

And it started off what was an absolutely fantastic weekend. I can already tell the year of weddings is going to be a very good year indeed.