Monday, 28 December 2015

Popular Posts of 2015

Well here we are again, the end of ANOTHER year - wow! Last year I really enjoyed looking back at what had been my most popular posts of the year so though it would be fun to do again.

1) I was quite surprised at this but the most popular post this year was the Adipose Cushion I made for my nephew's birthday. It's such a niche Doctor Who thing, I guess there are a lot of Who fans out there (of course there are - best TV show ever! Except maybe Downton Abbey, it's a tie)
adipose cushion tutorial

2) I made these little felt heart brooches and key rings back in February. They are easy to make and great for using up little bits and pieces of lace, ribbon and other trimmings that are too good to throw away.

3) This geometric gold DIY art was next popular. I had a few issues with this project and made it much harder for myself than I needed to. However I am happy with the end result and I wake up every morning and look at it (it hangs on the wall directly opposite the bed!)
DIY art gold geometric

4) I really enjoyed making this cluster drop necklace. The funny thing was it turned out quite differently from the idea in my head originally - better thankfully! (and it's red, I love red)

5) I made this little crocheted house and turned it into a card for a friend who loves all things craft related. Links to the free pattern are in the post.
granny square house

6) Next was an idea I had seen on pinterest, I think everyone has seen this, dividing up your drawers to organise your stuff better. Cereal boxes and sample bits of wall paper was all it took. I don't think I could manage without them now, this was definitely one of the most practical things I did this year.
drawer organisation

7) Succulents are still really popular house plants and I have a few that are REALLY easy to take cutting from, that's making plants for free - who doesn't like free stuff?
succulent plants taking cuttings

8) Making toys from kids drawings, sounds simple enough right? NO, it's really not! However it was fun and the toys are much loved so worth the effort. Impossible to give a tutorial for as every one would be unique so here I just shared a few tips that I picked up along the way.
how to make toys from children's drawings

9) I keep my make up brushes and mascara in this little gold heart pot, it started it's life full of a popular brand of chocolate spread. 
gold heart pot

10) Lastly my absolute favourite project of the whole year, our Wall of Wisdom. Hard to photograph to show it off well, this is a collection of quotes and sayings in our little downstairs toilet. Everyone who visits and uses the facilities comments on how much fun it is. We have quotes from everyone from Shakespeare to Dumbledore. Wise words from Star Wars, Doctor Who and Winnie the Pooh along side traditional expressions and saying.
displaying quotes as art

Happy New Year
Wishing you every good thing for 2016

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Friday, 18 December 2015

Crocheted Holly Garland

This might be a bit late to share for this year, but could be perfect for next year! A crocheted holly garland, my last Pinterest Challenge for 2015.
holly leaf garland crochet with link to free pattern
I fell over a free pattern to make holly leaves on pinterest a while ago. The link took me to an amazing blog that I'm pretty sure most crocheters already know (if you don't then you are in for a treat) Attic24

I found the written pattern a bit confusing to start with, but the super talented Lucy from Attic24 has provided brilliant clear step by step photos so with my ipad on my lap I was able to make a whole heap of holly leaves with some green yarn from my stash.

I used some green DK yarn and a 3mm hook, I think this could be a case of use what you have and it will probably be fine. Each leaf only takes about 15 minutes once you get the hang of them so you can afford to experiment.
Crocheted Holly leaf garland
Once I had 10 leaves I attached them to a chain. To do this I chained about 36 cm (14") then held 2 leaves at an angle to one another and slip stitched through both. I did 2 slip stitches as I found this helped to hold the leaves at an angle. Then I chained another 10cm (4") and repeated with another 2 leaves and so on. I finished off with another 36cm (14") chain. 

I blocked the garland, experts will be able to see I'm not especially good at blocking but in my defence this was a yarn which had been knitted up into a mistake before and frogged so it was a bit wavy! 
Basically to block you just wet the whole thing then pinned it out flat on a thick towel doubled up and leave it to dry.
crochet holly leaves with button berries
I finished it off with a red button stitched on the join of each pair of leaves.
Crochet Holly leaf garland

You can make a garland as long as you like with this pattern, the leaves could be different shades of green to use up your yarn stash, you could make little red pom poms to use instead of buttons, or circles of felt.
I also think just one leaf with a plain card gift tag would be SO sweet on a present (I might do that next year, this year I've made these paper napkin poinsettias for gift wrapping) 

December pinterest challenge
Don't forget to check out the other Pinterest inspired projects from these other amazing blogs, just follow the links below.

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Granny Square Stash Buster Blanket

Whoop Whoop, I've finished it! My long term crochet blanket project is done and just in time to give as a Christmas gift.
I started this stash buster blanket project about 2 years ago, maybe even longer. I have picked it up and done a bit whenever I've not had something else on the go that I can get on with of an evening if I'm watching TV. I like to crochet or knit when the telly is on, it feels like less of a waste of time!
I feel very happy to have made such a lovely bright blanket without spending much money at all. However I am surprised that my stash doesn't seem to be any smaller....not sure how that works!
I shared some photos of this as an ongoing work in progress back in April 2014.
Most of the yarn I used is UK Double Knitting, which I believe is something like a light worsted, the thickness varied slightly as yarn does but it all evened out in the end. I used a 4.5mm hook (although it is possible a few squares where made with a 4mm hook - the big problem with long term projects!)

I cannot tell you how much yarn I used, it really is all my left over bits and pieces, except for the sparkly grey which joins all the central squares. I brought 3 100g balls for that. Originally I planned for the whole thing to be with the grey but when the 3rd ball ran out I found I had quite a bit of black in my stash so gave it a border of black instead of buying more.

The whole thing is made from granny square rounds, joined with the "join as you go method", no sewing the squares together - bonus!

For a border to finish it off nicely I did 4 rounds of UK trebles (that's US doubles) As you can see in the photos I just joined a new colour as the last one ran out, I like how this adds to the "stash buster" effect.

This blanket was inspired by this bea-u-ti-ful blanket from One Dog Woof.
photo courtesy of One Dog Woof
I pinned this when I first started using pinterest, it's just so pretty! ChiWei from One Dog Woof has a brilliant step by step tutorial on how to do this "join as you go" method. This was a really game changer for me, I was always a bit rubbish at getting the tension right when sewing crochet squares together.
The person we're giving this to is not on the internet so I'm quite safe sharing photos of it here. The other handmade Christmas gifts we are giving this year will have to wait so as not to spoil any surprises! 
Actually it looks quite nice on our sofa... maybe I need to start another one to keep! 
You might also be interested in:
Diamond STitch Crochet Baby Blanket
Diamond Stitch Crochet Baby Blanket
BasketWeave Cowl
Basketweave Cowl
Rainbow Heart Garland
Rainbow Heart Garland
I can make you that hat
I can make you that hat
I'll be linking up to all these great link parties, why not go and have a look!

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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Easy Paper Serviette Poinsettias

These pretty poinsettias are so easy to make from red paper serviettes or napkins.
Easy paper napkin poinsettias
I'm over at The Pinning Mama again today with a simple tutorial showing how to make pretty poinsettias from paper serviettes. I have no idea why I always seem to choose a project to share on The Pinning Mama which involves a transatlantic translation issue! Serviettes or Napkins - what do you call them where you are? I've always called them serviettes, I think a napkin is a very fancy damask thing you'd find in an episode of Downton Abbey! I gather though that, for all my US friends, these paper party thingumajigs are known as napkins.
Luckily the poinsettias are easier to make than the vocabulary is to work out.
paper serviette poinsettia

Pop over here to see how to rustle up a bunch in no time at all.

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Monday, 30 November 2015

A Little Tribute to Pearl part 3

30th November was my Nan Pearl's birthday, so today I'm sharing something she made a really long time ago that I still have today.
My nan was one of the thriftiest people I've ever known, she kept things "just in case" and was the absolute queen of make do and mend.
This basket is one that she made for me when I was really little. It's made from a cardboard box, covered in fabric.
I love the authentic 1970's vintage fabric.
The inside is lined too and finished with some quite random large blue wool stitches.
I've been trying to work out how it is made. The base, both inside and out is machine stitched to a long strip of fabric which forms the sides. I assume she then folded the top edge and hand stitched that, then covered the join with the lace.
The big ol' blue stitches must be to keep the lining base attached to the cardboard.
It also has two very handy handles, two long loops of fabric that are hand stitched into place on the base and at the top edge.
When I was little I kept dolls clothes in it, then later on fabric, ribbon and lace.
My daughter used to keep her Barbie's and all their clothes in there when she was small, now as you can see she uses it for her bags.

So today I'm remembering a very thrifty and creative lady who taught me loads.

If you'd like to see more to explain the name Sum of their Stories or see the other makes from those that I grew up with you can find them here.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Textilbox Giveaway

Do you want the good news or the bad new first? The good news is I have a great giveaway for you from the lovely people at Textilbox.US The bad news is it's only open to people in the USA.
Textilbox.US is a DIY creative sewing box delivered to your door. Each box includes the pattern, materials and step-by-step instructions. It's a wonderful way for novice and intermediates to improve their sewing skills, while creating a practical novelty gift.

As I'm in the UK I've not been able to try out a box and share how I've got on with it, they don't deliver here (yet...) but just because I can't have one doesn't mean you shouldn't!

The idea of a box that contains everything you need to make something both pretty and practical seems like such a good idea to me. People who have been sewing for years generally have a big ol' stash of bits and pieces collected over time. If you are a newbie though it can be off putting to think you have to go out and buy loads of things to make a simple project. If it's all in the box - problem solved!
What's on offer here is a Holiday Texilbox which they promise me will be with you before Christmas. The Holiday Texilbox will also include a DIY bonus decorative gift from Simple Stories
For a chance to win the Holiday Texilbox just enter using the Rafflecopter below, there are several ways to enter and you can do them all if you like.

And as a small bonus, if you are not the lucky winner people in the USA and Canada can still get a 10% discount off a, just email:
mention Sum of their Stories and they will send you a discount code.
I'll be in touch with the lucky winner after the draw closes on 6th December and will pass your name and email address on to Textilbox.US so they can contact you to arrange to send your prize to you. 
Good luck, and remember (sadly) this draw is only open to people in the USA.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Update: Textilboxes are available in France and Spain and Textilbox.US do post out to Canada as well

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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Wooden Christmas Gift Tags

Last year I made some gift tags for all the family that they will be able to use as tree ornaments for years to come.
Personalised Wooden Christmas Gift Tags
wooden gift tags keepsakes
To make them you will need:
  • Wooden Hanging Hearts or shaped gift tags
  • Christmas Scrapbook paper
  • Alphabet stickers or punches (I used my QuicKutz Squeeze)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Bakers twine or cord
  • A needle

I found these little packs of heart shaped wooden tags on sale last October in the wedding section of our local Hobbycraft shop.
I guess wedding season was over so they were marked right down to 50p per pack of 4. Amazon have a few similar ones available here and here

How to cover wooden gift tags with scrapbook papers
  1. Place your scrapbook paper face down and draw round the wooden tag shape
  2. Cut it out
  3. Brush a layer of Mod Podge over the wooden shape
  4. Apply the scrapbook paper shape, smooth, then brush over another layer of glue. 
  5. Cut out the letters needed for the names of your loved ones
  6. Glue the names on and give the whole thing another layer of Mod Podge to seal. Pierce through the paper where the hanging hole is with the needle and leave to dry
Wooden gift tags and Christmas tree ornaments
Then just use cord or bakers twine to attach them to your gifts
Wooden Christmas Gift Tag keepsakes
If you want to, you could glue paper to both sides, maybe add a square of note paper on the other side so you can write a message. 
Or you could print a Christmassy quote or message on the computer and glue that on the reverse. 

I spent a while choosing papers I thought each person would especially like from scraps I have kept over the years. They all hung their hearts on their tree as soon as they had finished opening their presents which was lovely - I like a busy, crowded Christmas tree!
You might also be interested in:
Festive Mirror Fun
Festive Mirror Fun
Scrabble Christmas Sign
Christmas Scrabble Sign
Gift Boxes from old cards
Gift Boxes from Old Cards
Christmas Pudding Chocolate Buttons
Christmas Pudding Chocolate Buttons
I'll be linking up at all these great link parties, pop over and have a little look round at all the lovely ideas.

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