Arm-ageddon

This whole arm problem is really starting to get to me now.  The constant pain is just exhausting.  Whilst the physiotherapy and acupuncture have improved the tennis elbow symptoms, it seems those symptoms were disguising other elbow pain.  It feels like I’m taking one step forward and two steps back.  On the plus side, I am getting to be a dab hand at ‘mousing’ with my left hand.  To avoid having a similar problem with my left arm, I’ve purchased an ergonomic left-handed mouse.  Aside from having to switch around the left and right buttons to be the same as a right-handed mouse, it’s been really easy and comfortable to use.

Anyway, I’ve really been missing crafting and crafting is one of the things I would do to de-stress.  I figured that not crafting hasn’t improved my arm situation so I may as well do a bit and de-stress myself.  A large box of Stampin’ Up! goodies was delivered this week and I was keen to get playing with some new stuff.  I was conscious that I didn’t want to be doing too much and making my arm lots worse so I went for a simple, quick festive project – a Christmas tree garland.

I used a new set from the Autumn/Winter catalogue, Perfectly Plaid with the matching tree punch.

I cut a 2½” strip each of real red, old olive and thick whisper white card.  This was enough for 6 trees of each colour.  After using my Embossing Buddy, I stamped one of the trees with Versamark, applied gold embossing powder and heat set it.  I then punched the trees out.

Using glue dots, I attached each tree to a length of ribbon, spacing the trees about 2½” apart.

The finished garland is about 1.1m long but could easily be extended either by increasing the spacing or making more trees.  I’ve attached this one to our mantlepiece but it’d also look great in place of ribbon on a gift.  This was a quick little project which took me about 20 minutes and it satisfied my crafting mojo.

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

 

 

Botanical Bliss Tags

Still no real improvement in my arm this week so, yet again, no crafting but here’s a little project I did a few weeks ago. 

Romantic themes aren’t usually my crafting style but I seem to have inadvertently gone all romantic with these tags this week! The Botanical Bliss tags dies consist of 3 tag toppers, 2 edge cutters and a leafy branch.  There’s also a coordinating stamp set which has some useful sentiments.  I was immediately drawn to the birds, thinking they’d look great silhouetted against an inked sky.  However, since I’ve done a lot of silhouettes lately, I decided to challenge myself with the flower instead.

Rather than a straight forward strung tag, I wanted to try a folded tag.  The dies are designed to be used on 2” wide strips of card for tags or bookmarks.  As I wanted my card to fold, I needed the card to extend either side of the die so my card was 3” x 5½” in Bushing Bride.  I marked a pencil line at 2¾” and also marked the edges of the cutting lines on the die.  The lines on the die were lined up with the pencil line and the whole thing was run through the Big Shot.

I scored along the pencil line to the edge of the cut out and then erased the pencil line.

The card was then folded at the edges, making the cut area stand up.

I wanted the flower to stand out and also have a little more strength so I cut another flower from Very Vanilla.  The bottom edge of this flower was then cut out using one of the edge dies in the set.

My cutting plates had marked the card quite badly so I ran it through the Scripty EF before sticking the VV flower on the front.

I decorated the front with a sentiment, some hessian ribbon and a branch cut from gold glimmer paper.

This is how the back looks, with the cut out.  I used an old background stamp for the writing on the right-hand tag.  I think this one would make lovely place name settings for a wedding or party.  You could write guest’s menu choices on the inside.

For my second design with this flower die, I thought I’d just do a normal strung tag.  I cut the design out of a 2” strip of Crumb Cake card and then drew around the top on a piece of Very Vanilla and fussy cut the shape.  I marked in pencil where the edges of the flower and leaves were and added a little colour with sponge daubers.

The tag was finished by using the Scripty EF again, some gold branches and Old Olive ribbon.

Lastly, I wondered how the flower would look with inlaid pieces.  The flower was cut out of Blushing Bride, inlaid with Very Vanilla petals and Old Olive leaves and mounted on Crumb Cake folded tag base.  Gold branches and hessian ribbon complete the look.

So there you have it –  3 different looks from one die.  My next challenge will be to use this die to make some cards.  Watch this space!

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

 

 

 

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments

You may recall my post back in February when I had started my set of the 12 Days of Christmas felt ornaments stating that I had started early in the hope that I might get them all finished in time for Christmas?  Well, I’ve finished them already – shock, horror!!  I’m completely amazed myself to be honest.  I think the main reason for this success is because the pattern is so well written it makes it easy and the ornaments are sooooo cute that as soon as one was finished, I immediately wanted to move on to making the next!  Whilst it’s the 12 days, there are actually 15 ornaments as the partridge has a pear, the goose has an egg and Mr. Leaping has a heart, bless him!  Well, the song is about true love after all.  In case you’re thinking I’ve gone completely doolally and numbered the last 4 wrongly, there are several variations of the carol; these ornaments are based on the original carol from 1780.

Firstly, and unusually for me, I did what the pattern said and purchased wool blend felt.  I have a stash of acrylic felt but the pattern specifically said that you wouldn’t get good results without using wool or wool blend felt.  I can see now how that might happen as the edges are whip stitched with a tiny seam so the acrylic felt probably wouldn’t have held.  The absolute most important step was to preshrink the felt which was done by soaking each sheet in cold water for a few minutes then placing on a towel, lightly pressing to remove excess water then leaving to dry naturally.  Each 12” piece shrunk by at least an inch so the pieces would have been all sorts of shapes had I skipped this step.

My drying rainbow tree of felt

The designer recommends using the catchily titled Sulky™ Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy, now renamed to Sulky™ Printable Stick ‘n’ Stitch.  I got mine from Amazon from a US craft shop but there are craft shops in the UK selling it now.  This stuff is absolute GENIUS! After printing out the pattern on normal paper and checking that the print was scaled properly by using the handy measure guide on the pattern, you just put in the sheet of Sulky™ and print.  All of the pieces required are printed and it’s simply a case of rough cutting around them and removing the backing to adhere them to the felt colour of your choice.

The embroidery is designed to be the star of the show so the pattern encourages you to choose contrasting floss that really stands out.  I found choosing the felt and floss colours to be one of the hardest jobs.  My threads were a bit of a mess, all bundled up together in an old wash bag so I treated myself to a floss organiser, complete with thread bobbins.  This made my floss selection process a lot easier I can tell you.

Next job was to sew the embroidery.  It’s mainly back stitch, a bit of running stitch and lots of French knots.  I used to hate French knots and did substitute some with seed beads for the first few but I guess I became better at them with all that practice and I don’t mind them at all now.  Once the embroidery was complete, the pieces were carefully cut out…

…then soaked for 15-20 minutes in cold water to dissolve the stabiliser and then left to dry face up on a dry towel.

One day, when I was feeling particularly brave and artistic(!) I decided to try my hand at making the heads for days 8-12.  The pattern offers great tips for eye and mouth placement.  After lightly drawing the features with a pencil, I then coloured them in with fabric marker pens.  These were great as they didn’t bleed into the wooden beads at all so the images are really crisp.

Shrunken heads!

The construction is largely the same in that all pieces are sewn with wrong sides together using a whip stitch and matching floss.  Depending on the ornament, interfacing, cardboard, pipe cleaners, wooden beads, fabric markers and cocktail sticks may be needed in addition to fibre stuffing and fabric glue.  The instructions for constructing the ornaments are really clear and easy to follow.

So, a mere 2½ months after I began, the whole gang is finished.  Woohoo! And here they are…

A closer look at Days 1-4…

Days 5-8…

Days 9-12…

Even the backs look  great too!

I’m now working on a storage box for the ornaments as they are too precious to be thrown in with the rest of the Christmas decs.  Watch this space for that post!

These ornaments are a bit fiddly to make at times but not so much so that it put me off finishing.  In fact, I’ve enjoyed making them so much, I’m going to make another set in a more limited colour palette.

If you like the look of these you can find out more on Larissa’s website, where there are links to her shop to buy the patterns together with lots of tips, techniques and colour scheme ideas.  There are also lots of inspiring colour palettes on Instagram at #twelvedaysornaments and #mmmcrafts.

www.mmmcrafts.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Crochet, Cards and….Christmas!

This week has involved a veritable feast of crafts!

Firstly, it was my Mum-in-Law’s birthday.   Despite her saying that she didn’t need anything, you can’t not get anything for your nearest and dearest.  I crocheted a blanket for her from a pattern called Rosslyn by Helen Shrimpton….

….and made her a set of birthday cards.

Next was her actual birthday card which was inspired by another SU! demonstrator from Mituso Crafts who kindly shared a YouTube video on how to make a pop-up wiper card without using any dies for the mechanism.

After making a mock-up of the mechanism to check I could make it work(!) I set to work stamping and colouring in frogs.  At this stage, I didn’t really have a design as such in mind, but I knew I’d need a few frogs!

The front gives nothing away about what’s inside.

This is the inside once it’s opened.

And this is the card in action!

Second this week was the start of the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee.  I LOVE watching this programme.  I’m not sure that having a limited time restriction would make the creating quite as enjoyable for me. I like to get started, shilly-shally about a bit, get distracted doing something else entirely, and then go back to what I was doing in the first place!  Anyway, it’s very apparent there’s a very talented bunch on the programme this year and I look forward to seeing what they create in the coming weeks. So, it got me thinking about sewing and whilst it’s not clothing, it is a sewing project that I’d planned to create this year in time for Christmas.  The project is hand embroidered ornaments depicting the song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and I figure I’ve got 9 months to get them all done – now that’s my kind of timescale!!  There are 15 decorations as it’s only one per day plus a few extras (like the pear), not 12 lords a-leaping etc. as I’m certain that making 78 would put me well into my ‘I’ve had enough of this project’ zone!  The patterns are by Larissa Holland and are not cheap but they are comprehensive, very well written and the designs are beautiful.   A full blog post will be forthcoming later in the year but for now I have completed the First Day: the partridge and the pear.

The reverse side is not patterned but does have the day number embroidered in a lovely font.

The third thing this week was, of course, Valentine’s Day.  Mr. L Loves Valentine’s Day and had requested a few hours’ access to my craft room and some supplies.  He made a really cool pop-up card, with a design which he cut out with a craft knife, and bought me a lovely bottle of fizz.  I stamped a card for him using the Baby Bear set and pyrographed a fun little sign for his man cave.

 

 

 

Links:

Helen Shrimpton: https://crystalsandcrochet.com/

Mitosu Crafts:http://mitosustampin.blogspot.com/

Mmmcrafts: https://mmmcrafts.blogspot.com/

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

Team Training with Inspiring Inkin’

To be a demonstrator with Stampin’ Up!, you have to join another demonstrator’s team.  You can join any team you fancy within your worldwide geographical area but I joined a local demonstrator, Amanda Fowler of Inspiring Inkin’ (http://www.inspiringinkin.com) as I’d enjoyed many of Amanda’s videos on YouTube and I like to support local businesses where I can.

We have online training once a month via Facebook Live but there are a few in person training days where you get to meet other members of the team, get new ideas and try out new products, chat, eat cake and craft together, which makes a nice change as crafting tends to be a solitary occupation.

A common, but optional, activity at this kind of event is Team Swaps.  This involves making a card front to swap with other demonstrators, thereby getting new ideas for a stamp set you own or seeing a new set that may have escaped your notice!  I decided to repeat my old favourite of the ombre sunset and Dandelion Wishes card front and, whilst watching the Masters snooker, spent a very pleasant couple of hours ink blending 25 card fronts.  I then stamped the image together with the sentiment, then heat embossed them with clear powder.  The Stamparatus is invaluable for this kind of mass production.  A sticker with the ‘recipe’ is put on the back should anyone want to CASE (Copy And Share Everything) your design.  Here are my swaps.  Can you spot the slight oops moment? I inked the panel upside down – I have no idea how I managed it!!

These are the swaps I received from my fellow demonstrators – such a talented bunch!

Amanda also had a Demonstrator’s Choice competition whereby you make any project using anything, but if SU! sell it (like ribbon, card etc.) you have to use it but anything they don’t sell can also be used.  I decided to make a Lighted Bethlehem 3D frame as I’d made a few of these for Christmas presents and they had all been well received.  I was chuffed to bits to be voted the winner especially as there was very strong competition.  Here’s my frame with lights off…

….and lights on.

For this, I won a stamp set and was also lucky enough to win another one in the raffle too.

Whilst the day is called a training day, that is a rather formal term and it’s actually a lot of fun.  Amanda provides a number of projects for the team to complete although I didn’t get to finish all of them.  Here’s what I did complete.

We also had a couple of demonstrations of techniques and new product lines and a very interesting presentation on bullet journaling, or Bujo as it’s apparently known!  This really piqued my interest and I’m going to investigate this further, particularly as I may be able to combine it with my challenge to myself for this year, to learn hand/brush lettering – so that I’m not totally dependent on stamp sets for my sentiments!!

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!