Felted Rocks……

Yesterday I showed you how I make my little rocks ready for felting. There are lots of videos on the net showing you how to wet felt, that is how I learnt. Not half as difficult as I first thought. Just takes some time, but not alot of concentration, which is good sometimes!

Here are 5 finished rocks. I wet felted them, left them in the airing cupboard overnight to dry and now they are ready for decorating with some embroidery and lots of beads! They have turned out approx 3″ long, 2″ wide and 1″ deep. Plenty of room for lots of mini decoration. I used 4 layers of alpaca wool and tiny (and I mean tiny wisps, so it goes along way) amounts of coloured wool roving. As they have ployester wadding and pebbles inside I saved on using up too much of my precious wool. They are not as heavy or hard as stone, but they do have weight to them and once the decoration is on will look like a proper felted rock. And having more room to manoeuvre a needle, underneath the felt, will make it easier to embroider onto. Now I just have to decide what to put on them!!!!!

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From Little Pebbles A Felted Rock!

Since trying out wet felting and looking at other peoples on the net, I found the craze of rock felting. Some people are also incorporating embroidery onto the felted rocks. As I have loads of raw wool ready for felting I thought I would give it a go. Although I live near a beach it is quite a walk away, and having the cattery I don’t really have time, or the inclination to go hunting for rocks on the beach and then having to carry them home. So I made a rock out of wadding to see if the felting on it would work. It did, the felt tightened up the wadding so it became firm, it was just like a rock except it didn’t have any weight to it, which makes the proper felted rocks so unique. So this was my next experiment, how to get the weight without a rock. My mother has loads of lovely gravel in her garden, and my friend has a gravel driveway!!!! Most of it is little smooth pebbles. Ideal for this project.

You will need:

Pebbles, any size or shape, just make sure there are no sharp edges, (these ones are about an inch big). Cheap polyester wadding, I use 2oz wadding, any kind of wool or cotton and scissors.

Wash and dry your pebbles. Weigh a handful so you get approx 3oz, this will make a rock the size of a bar of soap when felted.

Tear off a small strip of the wadding and wrap the pebbles, make sure they are completely covered.

Wrap some wool around the little pebble parcel, tightly, and tie with a knot. (Don’t worry about the colour of wool it won’t show through once you get felting).

The pebbles shouldn’t be able to move around in the parcel.

Next take your little parcel and with another piece of wadding wrap it up like you did before. You don’t need alot of the wadding, just to give it one layer of cover.

Tie this parcel up the same, but not too tightly.

So now you have a nice sized, weighted rock made from little pebbles ready for wet felting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy Cat Shelf Sitter

Not having my workshop anymore has made me do alot more hand sewing for my crafts. I do miss my big table that I used to cut out on and have my sewing machine set up all the time. Never mind it gives me an excuse to go back to doing crazy patchwork.

This past time is just what it says, passes the time but really quickly as it is so enjoyable. You can use all of your little bits that you probably thought would never see the light of day again but kept hold of just in case i.e that lonely button, half a dozen beads, odds and ends of embroidery silk.

I have just made this, well not today, it has been over the last couple of weeks, whilst waiting for licences, insurances etc for the cattery.

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Only measures 6″ x 4″ so not really alot of fabric to cover with all of your embroidery stitches and bits!

I will be doing a tutorial shortly if you would like to have a go. This is a little shelf sitter for my bedroom but you could sew on a hanging ribbon, make it bigger and use as a posh pillow or frame it and hang on the wall.

My finished paper mache storage boxes, at last!!

It wasn’t until I received a message from a reader to say that I had shown the start of my storage boxes but hadn’t shown how they look now that they are finished. I must apologise, this project was in my blog in April!! So here is the update as to how they look (I did finish them in June, honestly!)

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This is how they looked in the beginning. just recycled cardboard and masking tape.

For my paper mache I used small pieces of brown Kraft paper and a 1:1 water diluted PVA glue. The boxes were covered, inside and out, with about 3 layers of the paper mache (leaving to completely dry between each layer). They were then painted, inside and out, with a household matt white paint. I needed to do two coats of this to make sure the Kraft paper was covered and the finished boxes looked white. Then came the final coat of household satin paint. I love satin paint, it isn’t as shiny as the gloss and is alot easier to paint with.

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They didn’t finish as hard as I thought they would by using the PVA glue, I should probably have done it the old fashioned way and used a flour/water paste mix for the mache. But they still serve their purpose and I have gained alot more storage room on the shelves, and it looks alot neater than before.

I carried on with the recycling ethos and made labels for each box. To do this I printed a label with a design, stuck it onto a piece of recycled cardboard and covered it with transparent plastic. To attach the labels to the boxes I used gold coloured split paper pins.

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And this is how they ended up.

SAM_2033I had been looking at the price and sizes of storage boxes, none of them would have fitted my shelves or looked as neat, or been practically free!!

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

I love, love my computer and printer for my crafts, not just for designing and printing out patterns but for printing on to lots of other stuff too including fabric.

My printer is a cheap Epson S21 inkjet that has lasted me for years and is happy with compatible inks so I can save money there. Here are some tips that I gleaned when putting fabric through it:

Hanging fabric hearts with printed poem and picture

I love to include poetry in some of my fabric projects but I don’t really enjoy embroidery, it’s too slow, and my writing is not that pretty so I won’t use fabric pens. Looking at all the fonts I have on my computer I wanted to use some of them.

There are lots of websites that give instructions on how to print on fabric. Apparently pigment ink (expensive) is washable, top loaders are better as fabric doesn’t get stuck and mess up your printer etc. etc……I would recommend that you have a look first as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your printer.

BUT

The way I do it with my top loader inkjet printer is:

Materials needed:

Cotton fabric (I use plain off white bed sheets)

Carpet tape, it is nice and wide (or strong double sided tape)

A4 Printer card (I use 60gms)

Directions

Cut the  fabric about 1″ smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. (I make a template from old cardboard so I can just draw around it onto the fabric, alot quicker than trying to measure each piece)

Give the fabric a good iron so that there aren’t any creases

Place carpet tape or double sided tape onto the back of the fabric, cut away any excess tape as this will stick to the rollers in your printer. Cover the whole of the fabric piece with the tape and not just round the edges, the fabric will stretch between the tape as it goes through the printer if it is not all stuck down.

Peel off the tape backing and carefully stick the fabric to printer card (60gsm), there should not be any creases or any loose ends of fabric as these may get caught in the printer rollers.

Get your pattern or picture organised on your computer and print a practice piece to make sure that it will print onto the area of your fabric.

Use the printer as you would if you were printing a normal page, don’t chnage any printing settings i.e to glossy paper etc.

When you are happy with the placement place your fabric covered card into your printer and print!!!!

Vintage Lady and butterflies were printed onto fabric and used in this collaged wall hanging.

Unfortunately by using the cheaper inkjet ink the fabric is not washable, but most of my projects are pincushions, wallhangings or things that wouldn’t normally be washed anyway. I have tried heat sealing the ink with a hot iron and microwave, or rinsing it in vinegar etc but the ink still seems to fade or wash out completely. But for what I want it for, this method is ideal and easy and a lot cheaper than buying the fabric sheets made for the printer.

You can buy products to help make the ink waterproof just put in your search Printing on Fabric.

I also make my own patterned fabric for small projects like appliqué or patchwork (again, that are not going to be washed), there are lots of scrapbook backing papers free on the net, print them onto plain fabric, some of them are very pretty. Sites that sell household wall paper also have swatches of the papers, copy and paste them onto your programme (I use Word for everything, so simple) resize it to fit a page and print, perhaps you could find the wallpaper that matches your room and make some decorations i.e bunting. Or use one of your photographs to include in a fabric project. There are thousands of ideas out there for using this, I could go on forever, but I think there is enough to think about on this subject already!

 

My Hand Made Bag Bases Using Recycled Plastic Milk Bottles!!

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I have done alot of research on bag bases. Read almost everything on how people make their own. From cardboard, to wood to childrens hard back book covers, most of these have a separate fabric sleeve and have to be removed if you want to wash the fabric bag. I wanted mine to be part of the bag and able to put them through the washing machine without any worry of them distorting or melting away. You can buy the bag bases, I have never tried them, I am trying to stick to my ‘recycled’ ethos, and that includes not spending money when I don’t have to!!!
So this is my version of a stable, washable bag base for my hand made fabric bags.

Materials:
2 plastic milk bottles I find the big 6 pint ones give you more flattish plastic
1 piece of polyester wadding
sewing machine
needle and thread
Fabric to cover
How to do it:

My bag bases ended up being around 8″ x 4″

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So I cut the top off the milk bottles, with a craft knife, and the base. Cut down the seam and flattened it out. Because the bottles are shaped while being heated you will not be able to get them completely flat, But the next step will help a little.
Cut out the shape and size you will need x 2, and round off the corners.

At this stage check that the base will fit snugly in the bottom of your bag, once you are happy with the size go to the next step.

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Cut a piece of the fabric that you want to cover the base with, approx 1″ larger all round

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Place the two pieces of plastic together and with your sewing machine stitch 3 lines across the longest part. Your machine should take it OK if you go slowly, and gently push the plastic along, as the feed dogs on your machine may slip.

(Yes you can put thin soft plastic, like this, through your machine, just don’t try to push it through too much as you may break your needle. I have used drink cans,  on my machine and lots of other wierd and wonderful things!!!!)

Next, place the wadding on top of the stitched plastic base and run through the sewing machine once more stitching once down the centre. This will stop the wadding from moving in the base of your bag.

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As you can see you don’t have to be that neat, no one will see it once the bag is finished.

The next step is to cover the plastic base. Take the piece of fabric you have for the base and tack, or baste all round the edge.

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Place the plastic base, wadding side down, onto the fabric

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Pull your stitches, as though you are making a yoyo. and tie a knot so that the fabric is tight around the base.

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You can now slip stitch the base into place at the bottom of the lining of your bag.

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This is how the bottom will look when you are finished. It is sturdy and washable and won’t distort, and didn’t cost anything. It is soft enough not to leave a bruise on your hips!!!! but stable enough to give a nice flat bottom to the bag when it is full of all your bits and pieces.

SAM_2120If you have any questions please let me know and I will try to answer them asap.

Perfect DIY Quilted Fabric Tutorial

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My first ever piece of perfect machine quilting

Having tried quilting many years ago on my sewing machine I gave up. I don’t have a walking foot on my machine and I definitely don’t have the patience to do it by hand. Because I use recycled sheets and quilt covers in my crafts I am always trying to find ways to give the fabric more substance especially for my bags. Trying to do quilting was very frustrating always puckering and never looked professional.
After doing some research and watching some wonderful Thai ladies making quilted fabric I gave it a go. Even though it does take some time and a lot of thread, I have never enjoyed a project so much. It was very relaxing and guaranteed a perfect result, even my sewing machine seemed to be singing as it was only asked to do straight lines.

Materials needed:
2 layers of cotton fabric, if you have a project in mind for your quilted fabric cut your fabric at least 1″ larger than your pattern piece.

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This is a pattern piece for one of my bags, I will cut down the quilted fabric when it is finished. As you quilt, the size of your fabric will shrink slightly, so keep this in mind when you start to quilt.

1 layer of polyester wadding
Dark thread for tacking
Thread for quilting
Fabric pen, this was the best thing that I invested in. It cost £3.75 but is perfect for drawing the quilting lines on the fabric and completely rinses out in cold water.
Scissors, Needle
Ruler
Sewing machine, any machine will do this project.

Place the lining, right side down on your board, then the wadding, then your main fabric right side up to make your quilt sandwich.

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Quilt Sandwich

With a hot and steamy iron press these three layers together. This is what I like about the wadding, it will compress down, from being thick and spongy, to a nice flat and slightly stiff fabric and feel just like an expensive interfacing, just don’t get it on your iron as it will stick to it!

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First set of tacking stitches

Next draw lines, using the fabric pen and ruler, across the length of the fabric, I used the width of my ruler which was about 1″. On a flat surface, and using a dark thread tack, or baste as they say in the US, along each line. Don’t try and do it by holding the fabric as it will pucker and move about, a lot! And just relax and enjoy and imagine what your finished project is going to look like.

Once you have tacked all the lines take the fabric pen and ruler and draw lines across the width of the fabric making a grid, and tack all of these!! I was surprised how quickly I got all of this done, you don’t have to be neat and just follow the lines and day dream!!

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First set of lines to sew using the sewing machine. You could do them all by hand if you really wanted to!

Your fabric will now be stable enough to go through the sewing machine without any problems at all.

To make the quilted pattern I drew more lines, with the fabric pen, diagonally across the fabric using the width of my ruler, approx 1″.

As I just wanted straight lines in my quilting I didn’t have to change any feet or setting on my machine, I just change the stitch width to medium, you don’t want the stitching to be too tight as you are going to be sewing through 3 layers of fabric. You can use any colour thread, I chose a cream to match the fabric background.

Now just sew along each line, making sure to cut away the excess thread at the end of each line so it doesn’t get caught up.

When you have finished those lines, take the fabric pen and ruler again and draw the last set of lines diagonally the other way, to make diamond shapes and sew them. Your fabric should end up looking like this

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The back and front before the tacking stitches have been removed.

When you have finished sewing all of the lines take out all of the tacking stitches. If you have a fabric pen like mine you will need to rinse the fabric in cold water to remove the pen lines, make sure you read the instructions on the pen. And don’t be tempted to iron your fabric before you have got rid of the pen lines as some of these pens will stain the fabric when heat is applied.

(Note: I also found this out with the cheap oil based tailor chalks, so don’t iron until all of the markings have been washed out!)

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The back after ironing.

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The front after ironing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it beautiful?? The fabric has been washed, all the pen lines have disappeared, just like magic, it has been ironed, and look no puckers, perfectly flat and ready to be made into my next bag.