Friday, June 23, 2017

Barn Owl Pincushion

One of my very first pincushions had an owl on it and I haven't made any other owl ones since but recently I decided to work on another one in a different design.  I did my drawings as usual using my bird book for reference.  This is a barred owl which seems to me to be the owl shape that everyone thinks of when you say "owl".  


I cut out all the felt pieces and stitched the branch and then put it down and left it because it just didn't feel right.  When I came back to it a few days later I realized that it was the owl that was bothering me and I went back to the bird book and found myself drawn to the barn owl.  

I see barn owls sometimes.  I live in a town but there are hills, farmland and wild open spaces all around the town.  I've even seen barn owls late at night flying across the road near a piece of open land in the middle of town.  It is pretty startling to catch one in your headlights.  My daughter works at a horse barn out in the countryside and in the Fall and Winter I see lots of owls when I drive to pick her up in the dark evenings.  It always feels like a privilege, like they've allowed themselves to be seen.  


As soon as I made the decision to switch to a barn owl, the stitching came together smoothly. 


I've made a few of these now and they sell as soon as I list them.  I need to make some more.  Sometimes it would be nice to have just a few more hours in each day!






Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sequins

I order most of the sequins I use from an Etsy shop in Australia called Pretty Craft Things.  That makes it sound like I use sequins all the time, I don't, but I do like them on special Christmas and Thanksgiving items, like the felt pumpkins below.  Look at that gorgeous sparkle!  Some are a solid color and others like these little cup shaped flowers are iridescent. 




It has been really hot here this week so I am trying to ignore that by making these little felt pumpkins.  These can be hung on a cupboard door knob (I hang one on my china cabinet door in the Fall), draped on the neck of a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, or used as napkin rings.  I also hang several on some tall sticks that I cut from a tree in the garden once the leaves have fallen and put in a wooden vase on the mantel.  


I've also made a few as custom items with a child's name on who has a Fall birthday.  They then become special personalized Christmas ornaments.  I use hand dyed wool felt for the pumpkins because it has such a nice texture and some pieces have a pattern too.  I get all my lovely soft hand dyed wool felt from fellow Etsy shop, Quilting Acres.  I have a pile of pumpkins to photograph and list and some more to finish up.  












Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pretty crocheted doilies and vintage style pinucushions

I recently purchased this bundle of little crocheted doilies in various shades of cream and white.  They range in size from about 2.5inches to 4inches and are really pretty.  The second I saw them in another Etsy shop, my brain was playing with all kinds of ideas for using them.  Search on Pinterest for doily craft ideas and you'll see lots of cool things people are making with doilies.  



I wanted to use them for making needle books and pincushions.  Part of the fun of making a new design is auditioning felt colors.  I really liked the combination below but in the end I didn't end up using the orange flowers.  They just seemed a bit too loud for this project.  


Once I made my color choices, I cut out flowers and leaves and started stitching.  



Below are the almost finished pincushions waiting for stuffing.  I usually try and save up a bunch and then find something good on Netflix and sit and stuff them and finish stitching the openings closed.



As I was choosing the color palettes the blue and mustard one was my least favorite but when the details were added, the blue needle book and pincushion became my favorite!  I was trying to go for a soft, vintage feel and I think this color combo really worked well.  









I've still got a bunch more doilies and a few slightly larger ones too and I have some different ideas for those.  These pincushions and needle books are all available in my Etsy shop.









Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Eating gluten free is not a life style choice in our house.  The tiniest trace of gluten makes my husband very sick.  I try to eat gluten free as much as possible because I have arthritis and feel better when I eat this way.  Over the last few years I've got to grips with gluten free baking except for making bread.  I've tried a few times with limited success.  

But today I made these gluten free hot cross buns because it is that time of year and I had a recipe I wanted to try.  


Gluten free breads are usually quite disappointing but these are wonderful.  They have a great texture and taste of warm spices and raisins.  Best of all, each bite feels like proper bread in your mouth.  They aren't even hard to make but they do take some time.  


As with all gluten free bread doughs the actual dough is very wet but I was easily able to shape these with some extra flour on my board and hands.  They took about an hour and a half to double in size and they smelled incredible as they were baking, yeasty and spicy.  


The recipe called for grated lemon zest and grated orange zest but I only had lemons.  This is a Meyer lemon from my garden.  These are a cross between a lemon and those little oranges so the flavor was perfect for this recipe.  I also switched out currants for golden raisins and coconut sugar for regular sugar because those are things I had in my cupboard.


The recipe can be found here on the Gluten Free On A Shoestring blog.  It doesn't require any strange ingredients and I used my own flour blend made from brown rice flour, oat flour, white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch.  We ate some with a cup of tea, I've stored some for tomorrow and put a couple in the freezer to see how they fare.  One thing is for sure, they won't last long!












Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring

It's been a long time since I've written because life is busy just now.  Then it was Winter and now it is Spring already and my allergies are in full bloom.  I picked the flowers below from my garden yesterday.  Everything is green, flowering, pretty and laden with pollen. 


I've been working hard on custom orders for my Etsy shop and I am teaching a costume design class again this year.  Here is the newest pincushion in my shop.  

I was inspired by the idea of an impossible stack of pretty pastel macarons on a white tea plate with some fresh flowers for a garnish.  These colors feel perfect for the season. The pincushion top is navy blue which makes all these lovely pastel colors really pop.  




Lots of french knots make up the special filling for these macarons.  I used a variegated thread when I had one which was the right color.  



Around the side of the pincushion, I embroidered "Oh la la".  My french grandmother used to say this frequently and we always knew what she meant by her tone.  Usually there were many more "la la's" plus accompanying hand gestures and the classic Gallic shrug!  

I'm really enjoying these colors together.  I kept one of these finished pincushions out on my work table for a few days so I could enjoy looking at it but it is now back in the box to keep it safe and clean.  



Here are some more garden flowers on my mantel, safely out of reach of my flower-eating cat!  





Saturday, January 21, 2017

How To Make A Felt Cactus

Felt cacti are all over the internet, you can't browse Pinterest without seeing them and for good reason.  They are so very cute.  My reason for making some is that I have a demented cat who insists on eating any and all plants or cut flowers I bring into the house.   


For this project you need

a tiny terra-cotta plant pot (mine are 1.5inches in diameter and came from Hobby Lobby) 
green wool felt and some bright colored wool felt (for the little flower)
paper and really sharp scissors
embroidery thread and needle
polyfil
hot glue gun   


Make a paper pattern for your cactus.  The shape below will give a nice round shape but you can make it taller if you like.  The bottom portion of the paper pattern is the diameter of the flowerpot so I know it will fit snugly.  Pin this to your green felt and cut out 6 pieces.  


Take 2 of your green felt pieces and stitch all around the curved edge, leaving the bottom open.  You could do this on a sewing machine but I love the look of hand stitching.  Repeat with the 4 remaining green pieces. 


You should have three round shapes which need to be put on top of each other with all the edges matching.  Stitch straight up the middle as shown below.  There are lots of layers here but wool felt is easy to stitch.  I drew a guide line with a fine permanent market so my stitch line stayed straight.  



This is what you should end up with. 



Now it's time for stuffing.  This is probably the trickiest part as the holes at the bottom are pretty small.  Using something like a chop stick, push stuffing up inside the sections of the cactus.  I used a good amount of stuffing and made my cacti firm because they will be used as pincushions but you can make them as firm as you like.  Want a squishy cactus?   Go for it!  It is exciting to watch it take shape.  When your cactus is stuffed, cut out some bright colored felt for the flower.  I cut three shades of pink for this flower and stitched the three layers together before stitching the flower to the top of the cactus.  It's a bit fiddly but not difficult.  



Finally heat up your glue gun and when it's ready, put a good amount of glue around the inside of the flower pot.  Push the cactus down into the pot until it is where you want it to be.  


Smile, how could you not?