These are uncertain and difficult times, which is why it’s more important than ever to spread joy and lift spirits where we can. It’s been wonderful, and so heartening, to see how people are turning to art for comfort and to send love and support to others.

Recently, it was reported that families have been painting rainbows to put in their windows, to cheer up their neighbours.

If you’ve been doing this, or anything similar, we would love to see your efforts – post your pictures on social media and tag us: @thecraftshows on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

With schools being closed, it can be a challenge to think of ways to keep the kids entertained and happy. We are going to be curating some ideas for craft projects that can help to keep boredom at bay for little ones. 

At ICHF Events, we’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community, and how we can use this time to connect with people in new and creative ways. We’ve started the hashtag #CoCrafters, for anyone to add to their tweets should they wish to connect with other craft lovers. We’re on Twitter throughout the day, asking to see your latest craft projects and just generally checking in.

Last night, Helen from Mindful Crafts did a very special Facebook Live takeover (go back and watch here), where she taught us how to crochet a beautiful rose. We plan to keep hosting these weekly demos on Tuesday evenings at 7pm. It’s a great way to learn a new skill, while connecting with others.

We’ve also created a Facebook group, where we will be encouraging the sharing of interesting crafty content. You can join here!  

The group is in its early days but will be a great place to meet and chat to fellow crafters and get inspiration for new projects.

We are passionate about getting the nation crafting and, in times like these, having a creative hobby that promotes mindfulness and stress relief is so valuable.

If you have any suggestions for how we can best serve you, the crafting community, we would love to hear them. Perhaps you have a burning craft question or need help with a project. Get in touch with us on social media, or in the group – just think of us as your craft agony aunt!

Stay well and keep crafting. We’re all in this together.

Julie from Sum of their Stories has very kindly hopped on the blog this week, to show us how to make these fun, lightweight tassel earrings by upcycling scraps of denim.

To make your own Blue Jeans Tassel Earrings you will need:

  • 2 pieces of dark blue denim 4″ x 3″ (10cm x 7.5cm)
  • 2 pieces of light blue denim ¾” x 3” (2cm x 7.5cm)
  • 2 earring wires
  • Sewing thread and a sharp needle

You need to cut the pieces of dark denim so the white threads are going horizontal and the blue threads are vertical. You are going to pull the white threads out to leave a blue tassel.

Using a needle, fray the dark denim pieces by removing the horizontal white thread, its easiest to remove just a few threads at a time. This is easy to do but quite time consuming. I recommend doing this on a tray on your lap as you watch tv!

Stop when you have approx. 1” (2.5cm) of fabric remaining.

Using doubled up sewing thread sew an earring wire to the top corner of your frayed denim piece.

Roll the fabric as tightly as you can and then stitch it to secure the tassel.

Take a small piece of light denim and wrap it around the top of the tassel and then secure with a few more stitches.

That’s it, your Blue Jean Tassel Earrings are finished.

They are super light for their size and perfect for summer.

This is the second time that I’ve made tassel earring using scraps of denim, you can find the other version on my blog.

Hi, I’m Julie from Sum of their Stories and I’m so happy to be here today to show you how easy and fun it is to make mini notebooks. They are great for popping in your pocket or handbag for jotting down ideas, they’d make fun stocking fillers or would be fun to pop into party bags. They would be a fun craft activity for a children’s party and young teens could make these easily for all their friends.

For these little books I used scrap book paper from one of those stacks of co-ordinating colours and patterns. The paper is actually more like a light card which makes it perfect for making notebooks.

If you use A4 printer paper to make the pages as I have then your mini notebook will end up 7.5cm x 11cm.

What you need:
• Scrapbook paper
• A4 Printer paper
• Embroidery thread
• Beads
• A guillotine
• A ruler
• A sharp needle with a large eye
• A lump of Blu Tack
• Clothes pegs

 

First make a stack of pages. Take 2 sheets of printer paper, lay them on the table landscape and fold in half. Just press the halfway point at the top with your finger to mark it. Cut in half using the guillotine, use the little pressed fold mark to find the centre. Stack up the pieces and repeat. You’ll have 8 pieces of paper, all ¼ A4.

 

 

 

 

 

Fold these sheets in half. The edge will be a bit uneven, just straighten that up on the guillotine.

Cut a piece of scrapbook paper just a fraction bigger than your stack of pages then fold it in half.

Place the stack of pages inside the cover, lining up the centre fold and then hold it in place with clothes pegs.

Place the ruler along the fold line and using the needle mark little holes at 1cm, 4cm, 7cm and 10cm.

Place the lump of Blu Tack under the papers and poke the needle right through where you’ve marked, making sure it goes right into the Blu Tack. The Blu Tack will stop the card and paper from creasing. It’s a trick I use a lot when papercrafting, you can see more about it here.

Take a 50cm length of embroidery thread and sew the book pages together in the order shown in the photographs. Start at the top, going in from the outside and leaving a long tail end. Once you have stitched the spine you can remove the pegs.

Tie the ends together right up against the top hole, thread 2 or 3 beads onto both threads and then tie a double knot to secure them. Trim the ends and using the needle comb out the embroidery thread strands to make a bit of a tassel.

That’s it, your mini notebook is finished. It’s a lot easier to make these than it sounds. Once you have made one you’ll want to make lots more.

The countdown to Christmas is well underway so why not get creative and glam up your presents this year? Follow Craft Invader’s simple steps below to create the most fabulous recycled gift bow.

  1. Save colourful paper offcuts and magazines to recycle into colourful gift bows.
  2. Cut the paper you have selected into strips 2cms wide.
  3. For each gift bow you will need 3 strips of paper at their full length to make the outer rosette. 2 or 3 more pieces 2cm shorter than the first for the inner rosette, plus a short length for the centre.
  4. Staple each strip into a loop, then glue the loops together to make a rosette.
  5. Finally, roll a tube of paper and stick it in the middle of the bow to finish, and that’s it!

Recycled Gift Bow

Where does your love of sewing come from and how did you get started?

I’ve been making things and hand sewing for a long time, but have been dressmaking for about 3 ½ years now. It was the Great British Sewing Bee that got me started on my actual dressmaking; my mom had always told me about how she used to make clothes for her and her sister but we never got around to actually doing any dressmaking together. When the sewing bee started, it sparked something in me and I felt like I could do it if all these people could too! Now my mom has got me making things for her – this is a picture of us both wearing something I’ve made. 

What’s the first item of clothing you made?

The first item I made was a purple circle skirt, but it was too big, so I cut it and tried to take it in – big mistake! The zip was also supposed to be invisible… I have no idea why I didn’t just unpick it! I might have made the Colette Sorbetto top next which I was over the moon with, but my favourite thing that I was much happier with was the Colette Hawthorne dress. Looking back on it now, it was too big, the waistline was too low and I had tucks in the join of the skirt & bodice. I’d actually like to go back to that dress now I know what I’m doing! 

How about the most advanced?

The most advanced thing I’ve made is definitely my Kelly Anorak. I love this coat and am so proud of it. It took a long time (and a lot of money…!) but I couldn’t be happier with it. I’m just sad that the weather has got so much nicer now – I want to wear it all the time!

How much of your wardrobe is handmade?

I’d say 98% of the clothes I wear regularly are handmade. I’ve got a real problem with being able to let things go though, so there’s still lots of ready to wear stuff just hanging up in there. I still have to tackle jeans; once I’ve conquered those then my handmade rotation will almost be 100%!

I’ve got plenty of t-shirts and jumpers I wear all the time, and lots of dresses that get worn to work.

In this picture, the right hand side is all handmade, with the left hand stuff all being ready to wear. I really don’t wear much of this stuff at all, maybe it’s time to try my hand at refashioning!

Where do you look for inspiration, and of course patterns and fabric?

Inspiration is a tricky one; I really hate “trends” and tend to stray away from what is on the high street. When I first started sewing I would make most new patterns that came out, but now I know what suits me and what I enjoy making too, so those are the things I stick to. Instagram is my big place to get inspiration though if I’m going to look anywhere, there are some amazingly talented people on there! 

Go on, tell us how big is your fabric stash?

It sounds unbelievable but I think I’ve got less than 30m – which really isn’t much at all! I’ve had some fabric for a couple of years. One of my favourite pieces is this beautiful green wool that I bought from Birmingham Rag Market – I’ve got big skirt-based plans for this but haven’t found the right pattern yet! 

How have you styled your sewing space?

My sewing space is somewhere that needs a lot of work at the moment which makes me really sad!  We moved into our house in July last year and we’ve prioritised shared spaces, so the downstairs really. My sewing room is in a prime location in the loft conversion, so I’ve technically got sewing floor – even though it’s the only room up there, haha! I’ve got a few things on the walls to make it a bit more “me” including some cross stitches I’ve done, a lovely print I had for my birthday last year, and some fun postcards from Paperchase. I need a new floor in there, and a lick of paint on the walls so nothing too major – it will get there in the end!

You also knit and crochet – how do you find time to fit it all in?

I’m really fortunate in my job that I can start and finish really early, so I’m home most days between 4pm and 4:30pm, this leaves me with loads of time to cram everything in! I love a good box set so I tend to do my knitting/crocheting while I’m curled up under the quilt I made. We’ll ignore the fact I sometimes fall asleep there because I’m so cosy! Weekends are for sewing, which is made even easier as my boyfriend is out for the majority of the day on Sunday playing American football so I get all day to myself!

Your blog at www.rachagainstthesewingmachine.co.uk is incredibly popular – do you have any big plans for taking it even further?

Aaah thanks! I’m surprised anyone still reads it, my posts are so sporadic! Haha. I’d love to do more with it, I think collaborations with other bloggers are probably where I’d like to head. I should start by blogging more though I think!

What would your advice to anyone looking to get started in dressmaking be? And how about makers new to blogging?

My main advice is just to go for it. I felt quite vulnerable when I started blogging; you’re putting quite a lot of yourself out there and hope that people like what you see. The first time you get some interaction from a reader is such a wonderful moment!

Dressmaking has opened up a whole other life for me. It sounds so crazy but I was quite lonely before and didn’t have much to do, my boyfriend worked weekends and til 10:30pm on evenings so not only did it keep me occupied during these times, but I have made some of my best friends through dressmaking/Instagram connections. Now there’s not a month that goes by without me seeing someone I have met through the sewing community. These people really are the friendliest, most welcoming bunch and we’re always after new members of the sewing gang!

See more of Rachel’s great makes at www.rachagainstthesewingmachine.co.uk

 

 

I’m Sally aka The Yorkshire Sewist and today I’m showing you my Autumn and Winter Pattern Picks. There are a lot of lovely colours coming out for this season and I’ve paired up some fabrics and patterns that may tempt you.

First up is the fantastic free pattern The Plantain T-shirt from Deer and Doe.

It is a fitted T-Shirt at the shoulders and bust then flaring at the hips, with optional elbow patches. Short, long or 3/4 sleeves are included in the pattern. It caters for a range of sizes which is great.

I’d recommend lightweight jersey knit (cotton, rayon, linen, wool) with 40% to 50% stretch.

Next up is Made by Jacks Mum – Penelope Pinafore – a relaxed pinafore dress. It has either tie straps or traditional buckles. There are FIVE pockets for hiding all of your things. There are two lengths – mini to sit above the knee and midi to cover the knee. A back split can be added to both lengths.

There is a matching child pattern called the Penny Pinny.

This pattern is designed for medium weight woven fabrics such as corduroy, denim or linen.

Ellie and Mac – Be Creative Hoodie Pattern – This Hoodie Pattern is comfortable, stylish and definitely a must-have. It features hood or cowl, short sleeves or long sleeves, piping option and colour-block style. You can make this in many fun ways – who doesn’t love a good hoodie? There is also a kid’s version too! This hoodie is designed to be made using 4-way stretch fabrics with 50% stretch.

Tilly and The Buttons Ness Skirt – This is a classic fly front skirt pattern. It looks stylish all year round, but especially made up in a nice Corduroy for Autumn/Winter. The straight skirt has a shaped waistband and curved back yoke for a flattering fit.

Choose from mini version or below-the-knee hemline with centre front split. Details inspired by denim include a zip fly front, topstitched mock felled seams, belt loops, all important in-seam pockets, plus optional back pockets for stashing your essentials. To be bang on trend you could convert the zip fly to a full length button planket skirt.

Experimental Space Casey Sweater – It’s a pretty pullover sweater with button details at the neck, long shaped cuffs and comfortable deep pockets. I recently saw this pattern when I went to Sewbrum and it’s a nice jumper with great details. I’ve got this pattern and will be sewing my own up shortly!

So there you go folks, my Autumn and Winter Pattern Picks with a few fabric recommendations. Happy Sewing!

 

 

 

Where does your love of creating come from?

I think it certainly comes from my family. My father was a painter and worked with wood, my mother was a dressmaker, embroiderer and exceptional knitter, in her spare time. I have pieces made by my grandfather too, who was also a talented woodworker, and an amazing model ship made by a great grandfather. So I was lucky to grow up in a creative atmosphere where drawing, painting and making things was quite the norm, and happened every day. However I can’t knit and have no talent for accurate woodwork!

 

You were a ceramicist for 20 years – how and why did you move to mixed media and textiles?

I went to art college to do my Foundation course when I was 24, after a few ‘proper’ jobs, none of which I liked in any way! I had intended to do a degree in textiles, but became involved in ceramics instead. I made ceramics at home and from a studio in a busy craft centre for 20 years, and have taught ceramics for longer, but through those years I still loved textiles and made as many stitched pieces as I could. I was a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild and an avid reader of textile magazines and books.

When I left the craft centre studio to work from home again I decided to take a break for a week or two, as the years at the craft centre had been fairly intense. During that time I started to stitch appliqued pictures and that was that; I didn’t go back to producing ceramics professionally, but switched my practice to textiles. I didn’t make a definite decision, it just happened. I still can’t explain it to myself or anyone else, I imagine the time was just right, but it was the start of one of the best periods in my life. That was in 2003.

 

If you had to make do with just 5 crafting materials what would you choose?

Calico, acrylic paints, acrylic inks, threads and beads.

 

What are your influences?

My influences are landscape, museums, particularly natural history collections, observation of the natural world, science, architecture, interior design, painting and ancient and contemporary artefacts.

 

What makers inspire you?

Four favourite inspirational potters are Lucie Rie, Elizabeth Fritsch, Ron Nagle and Fiona Salazar.

Some of the textile artists I admire are Eleri Mills, Marta Rogoyska, Michael Brennand-Wood, Matthew Harris, Karen Nicol and Inge Hueber.

I’m inspired too by painters; particularly Peter Doig, Ivon Hitchens, Patrick Heron, Eric Ravilious, John Piper, and David Hockney. I saw the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern recently and that has been wonderfully inspiring.

 

 

 

   

 

Getting started in the craft arena

I hear a lot that people would like to start crafting.  They see things that people make and think “I would like to be more creative”, but sadly don’t think they are able or even know where to start.

My tip is to find a local craft course or travel further a field if you can and just have a go at something that catches your eye.  With craft courses, classes and workshops, you will have a dedicated tutor with all the knowledge you need to guide you through to complete a project.  If that class wasn’t for you, try other things and you are likely to find something that you like.

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Give a lacklustre table a new lease of life using decoupage. This technique requires minimum supplies and spend yet affords beautiful results – prepare to get addicted! You can decoupage any wooden item, so feel free to apply this tutorial to that tired looking standard lamp or junk shop jewellery box find.

You will need:

Old rags (for cleaning)

Fine sandpaper (only needed if your table/item isn’t smooth)

Decoupage papers – ours were from www.decopatchme.co.uk

Scissors

Decoupage glue varnish – our was from www.decopatchme.co.uk

Decoupage brush (a clean paintbrush works too)

 

 

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If you love to cook and bake with the kids why not make them an apron of their own? A cheap and easy project that you’ll complete in less than half an hour…

You will nee

A tea towel (cotton or linen is best)

2 meters of  ribbon

Needle and thread / Sewing machine

Sewing pins

Scissors

Tape measure

Iron & Ironing board

 

Instructions

1) Cut off any labels from the tea towel and iron. Fold the tea towel in half, length ways and so the inside is facing out. Fold to make a crease.

 

2) Measure 4 inches from the top of both tea towel edges. Fold the edge over from the half way crease and iron the crease in on both sides.

 

3) Trim the excess fabric, leaving a seam allowance of 1/2 inch and pin.

 

4) Cut two pieces of ribbon measuring 21 inches and one measuring 24 inches.

 

5) Insert your two longer pieces of ribbon into the seams at the bottom of your fold. Pin and then sew the seam, incorporating the ribbon.

 

6) Pin the remaining piece of ribbon at the neck of the apron, leaving two inches of ribbon running down the far sides for strength. Sew into place.

 

Now you’re ready to gift the apron and show your apprentice a thing or two in the kitchen!