craft kit

Stitch Club – Badger Shelfie

Earlier this year Stitch Club released their new Shelfie animals as PDF patterns and I’ve been waiting patiently ever since for the full kits to be released, mainly because I’m lazy and don’t want to source my own materials! Well, now they are here and I ordered one straight away! They are cleverly designed to sit independently on the edge of a shelf, table, or any other flat surface, hence the name.

Included in the box was:

  • Felt sheets x3 (grey marl, black, white)
  • Stuffing
  • Embroidery threads x3 (grey, black, white)
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Freezer paper templates

There was a choice of four animals: badger, fox, hare, or llama. I was torn between the badger and the llama because they looked like they had the most embellishments to sew but in the end I decided on the badger; I am a Hufflepuff after all!

I’ve never used freezer paper to cut out patterns before. It irons on to the fabric rather than being pinned on like standard paper pattern pieces and can be used more than once. I found that when it worked it was great, but when it didn’t quite stick properly it was a bit annoying especially when half way through cutting something out. I definitely think it was better for the smaller pieces though, which can be tricky to cut out using paper and pins.

The best part of the project was creating the front of the badger by building up the layers of felt to create the head and tummy and stitching on the features like the paws and nose. The patterns pieces fit together really well and sewing the front and the back together was really easy. I chose to use blanket stitch, but there was the option to use whip stitch or running stitch instead, all of which were explained in the ‘Learn to Sew with Felt’ booklet along with lots of other useful information about cutting felt, using freezer paper, and using embroidery thread.

The part that took the longest was the stuffing because it’s really important to ensure that all the small parts like the nose and ear are properly filled. To achieve this you need to feed in very small amounts of stuffing at a time, pushing them all the way in with the help of something like a pencil. When I first started the stuffing process I thought there was no way I would use all of the stuffing provided, but I used every last scrap in the end!

The kit cost £19.50, which I think is very reasonable for the amount and quality of materials, plus the great design of the product. I was expecting to pay anywhere between £25-£35 for this kit when I saw it had been released and I think it would be worth that. I’m very pleased with my badger sitting up on the shelf, but now I’m thinking that I might need his other animal friends too…

craft kit · subscription box

Inner Canvas – Autumnus

Embroidering on to organza and other transparent fabrics is quite a big trend at the moment so when I saw the Inner Canvas ‘Autumnus’ box I knew I had to try it out. The two main projects in this box were a classic arrangement of autumnal nature (toadstools, leaves, and acorns), stitched onto avocado dyed fabric, and a moth stitched onto organza.

Included in the kit was:

  • Avocado dyed calico
  • Organza
  • 20cm embroidery hoop
  • 15cm embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread x7
  • Needle
  • Black seed beads
  • Rhinestones x2
  • Mini embroidery hoop keyring kit
  • Paper templates
  • Carbon paper
  • Care package (tea lights x2, teabag)

Links to a video tutorial for each project were emailed including a basic stitch guide. Nadia, the lady behind Inner Canvas, has a very calm and soothing voice and explains and demonstrates each step very clearly. For the majority of my stitching I followed the guide in the printed instructions, but for a few stitches such as the use of fly stitch for one of the leaves and turkey stitch for the moth’s mane I watched the video as it was much easier to understand how these were done seeing someone else do them, rather than just trying to figure it out from the picture in the book.

Most of the stitches were worked in the full six strands of the thread unless otherwise indicated on the pattern, which is quite unusual as most embroidery projects tend to use a maximum of three at a time, but I quite liked working big for a change! It meant that the pieces were completed quite quickly and kept it fun, instead of painstaking. I did the autumn arrangement first before moving on to the moth.

Stitching on organza wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The weave is slightly more open than on the calico and you must be careful not to pull too hard otherwise it can tear. The main thing to keep in mind is that the back must be kept as neat as the front because any stray threads will show through, ruining the effect. There were great instructions for finishing off the piece as well. Usually you would just use a running stitch to gather in the back of the embroidery, but obviously this would be visible from the front, so the sides had to be glued into the hoop before the excess at the back was trimmed off completely.

Last but not least was the bonus mini project, an embroidery hoop keyring. Tiny designs of each element from the autumn hoop were included on the paper templates and your chosen design was stitched onto an off-cut of the avocado dyed fabric before being glued into the mini hoop and turned into a keyring using the kit provided. 

I definitely want to try embroidery on organza again. It gives such a great effect once it’s finished and I can’t wait to hang my moth up on the wall!

craft kit

Paraffle Needle Painting

I recently started following Paraffle Embroidery on Instagram when they showed up under one of the craft hashtags I follow because I really liked the stylistic design of their animal embroideries, especially the sloth! When I saw that they had released a needle painting kit in such a cute size and design I had to get it. There were two colours ways for this orange slice design, navy blue or pink; I chose the navy as I thought the stitched orange looked more striking against the darker colour.

The kit cost £17.50 and included:

  • 3 inch embroidery hoop
  • Needle
  • Embroidery thread x4 (yellow, orange, white, brown)
  • Navy blue fabric
  • White carbon paper
  • Paper template

I really like carbon paper for transferring designs onto fabric as you can usually get a lot of detail and any lines that you don’t stitch over will eventually fade away or be rubbed off as you work so there’s no need to wash them away as you have to do with a fabric pen.

I have done needle painting before, but I’m always keen to practice my technique as it can be a tricky one to get right, especially blending colours like in this project. I’m also always interested to see how other people do it in case I can pick up any tips to improve my own work. The instruction booklet included with this kit was great. It broke down the steps into sections with detailed text explaining which stitches to use, the placement for them, and how your work should look when you’ve finished that step, along with clear photographs. It was especially good at explaining how to achieve the blending technique that gives the painted effect. There was also a useful section at the back for basic sewing skills like starting and tying off and how to do the stitches.

This little kit was perfect for doing in the evenings in front of the TV. It’s small size meant that it wasn’t heavy to hold up and whilst it still required concentration, the repetitive nature of each orange segment meant that you didn’t need to keep referring to the instructions and could get into a rhythm of sewing. It would make a great gift for someone who was fairly new to sewing and wanted to improve their skills.

craft kit

Keep Going Embroidery

I think the inspirational message to ‘Keep Going’ on this paint-by-numbers style embroidery was very relevant as this was quite a labour intensive project all completed in the same stitch! This embroidery kit is one of many positive, uplifting kits available from Hello! Hooray! I’ve been wanting to try out some negative space embroidery for a while and this was a really nice project to work on in front of the TV every evening.

Included in the kit was: 

  • Printed fabric
  • Embroidery threads
  • Length of white cotton thread
  • Embroidery hoops x2

I actually bought it a while ago but didn’t get around to starting it and then when I came to do it I realised that the instructions were sent digitally and the link had timed out because I left it for too long. I contacted Clare, the lovely lady behind the brand, via Instagram and asked very sheepishly if she wouldn’t mind sending it to me again. I thought I might not get a quick reply as it was the summer holidays, but she responded to me the same day and sent the link again as soon as I confirmed my email address, which I was very grateful for. Such a fantastic example of excellent customer service from a small independent business that you would never get from a big company; another excellent reason to shop small!

I thought the numbering system on the pattern and the thread holders worked really well, with each group of three diamonds being made up of a light, medium, and dark shade of the same colour. It was really easy to follow and I did all the diamonds of one colour before moving onto the next colour. Satin stitch was used in a really effective way to create the 3D effect of the pattern.

The project was worked in a larger hoop before being transferred to the smaller blue hoop to finish it off. I thought this was great as it meant you didn’t have to keep moving the fabric around in the hoop to complete the whole design (although some of the outer most diamonds were a bit over the edge of the hoop and required a bit of fabric wriggling to complete), plus you got a spare hoop for another project once it was finished! Putting the finished piece into a slightly smaller hoop meant that the design ran all the way off the edge of the final presentation, which gave a really polished look to the whole thing. 

The white cotton thread was used for running stitch around the edge of the fabric to pull it in and finish it off at the back, as is fairly standard for embroidery hoops. You could stitch or glue another piece of fabric to hide the back of your stitches if you wanted as well. 

I really enjoyed this kit, it was nice to see the pattern start to emerge as I completed each diamond and I like the effect of the bright colours against the negative space of the words. I think I will have to create my own negative space design now. I also like to have a project that I can pick up and put down as needed and this one was especially good for that as each diamond was quite small so you could do as much or as little as you wanted in one sitting.

craft kit

Inner Canvas – Abstractus

As you probably know I am currently subscribed to quite a few monthly craft boxes and have been considering cancelling some and swapping them for others to make sure I’m trying out a variety of things and not just getting stuck in a rut. It’s hard to cancel any of them though as I’m always excited to see what will come next and I do feel as though I’m sampling a good range of crafts. However, on the hunt for new craft subscription boxes I came across Inner Canvas. I had a look at the website and scrolled through the past boxes to see what kinds of things were included. Most of the crafts I had tried before, but the designs looked unique and the kits looked well curated. The thing that made me do a happy dance was that you could buy past kits on a one off basis! I love it when subscription box services do this as it means you can dip in and out of the kits without committing to a full subscription, which comes with the danger of receiving crafts you aren’t that interested in. I have several boxes stacked up down in my studio that I haven’t got around to making because I’m just not that excited about the contents.

I was attracted to Inner Canvas via Instagram where Nadia, the lady who runs the show, was posting about their latest box, an embroidery entitled ‘Abstractus’. The design is inspired by geodes and features embellishments of Czech glass beads and Aventurine beads – a semi-precious gemstone.  

Included in the kit was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Aventurine gemstones
  • Czech glass beads
  • Calico fabric
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Beading needle
  • Carbon paper
  • Paper template
  • Metal keyring blank
  • Metal hook (for hanging embroidery)
  • Care package (tealights and a tea bag)

Also included was a ‘Therapist Approved’ journal that included some self-reflective exercises to help reduce anxiety and improve the mindfulness associated with crafting and creativity. I haven’t had a chance to complete any of the exercises yet (to be honest I find crafting mindful enough), but they do look good and a journal is included with every kit.

The instructions that came with the kit were quite basic, just a paper template for transferring the design over to the fabric using the carbon paper and a photograph of the finished piece with a key to show which stitch and colour embroidery thread, or beads should go in which section. The photograph was really clear and easy to use. More detailed instructions were provided via a video link sent in an email. I was really impressed with the video, the steps were demonstrated well and the voiceover was well-paced and easy to understand. Although I already know how to do the two stitches I thought the step-by-step instructions showed how to do them both clearly, especially the two options for getting the satin stitch to go round a curve, which is sometimes tricky for beginners to get to grips with. 

There was a second instructional video for the bonus keyring project that was just as well created as the main video. The keyring was made first so you could ensure you would have enough fabric for both projects and it was nice to have a practice go at the satin stitch and attaching the beads before moving onto the main one.

I thought the design of the embroidery was really unique and I liked how you could really feel where the inspiration came from. I was also impressed at how what is a fairly simple design using only two stitches and the addition of the beads can have such an impact as a finished piece. It just goes to show that less definitely can be more!

I thoroughly enjoyed this craft kit and am keen to see what projects Inner Canvas bring out in the future. I will definitely be keeping an eye on their Instagram feed and will be ordering any kits that look exciting. I have already ordered another of their past kits, the Abstract Air Dry Clay Ceramic kit. I’m hoping to get the chance to have a play around with that one very soon as it’s been a while since I did any clay work and I’m hoping that I will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed this one.

craft kit

Wild Floss Embroidery

I’m always on the look out for new craft kits to try and I actually saw this Wild Floss embroidery kit advertised on Facebook. I took a look at their Instagram account and Etsy shop and thought that the kits looked really different to the usual embroidery kits that I’ve seen.

The kit includes:

  • 6” wooden embroidery hoop
  • Fabric
  • Needle
  • Needle threader
  • Variety of yarns
  • Water soluble fabric

I actually didn’t realise that there was a sheet of water soluble fabric at first because it was all wrapped up inside the embroidery fabric. In the end I didn’t use it as it felt a bit plasticky and I thought it would annoy me as I stitched through it. I stuck to the age old technique of tracing the design onto the fabric by holding it up to a window to help the design show through. I don’t have a water soluble pen as the instructions suggested using so I used a pencil. The pencil didn’t show up that well on the fabric so after I made the first tracing I went over it back at the table where I could press more heavily with my pencil and used the paper template as a guide to fill in the blanks myself.

There were instructions for four types of stitches; running stitch, straight/satin stitch, seed stitch, and French knots. I thought the diagrams and descriptions for each stitch were well written and easy to follow. However, I wasn’t really sure why the seed stitch instructions were there as it wasn’t used at all in the design and to create the same effect as the example photo I actually used back stitch rather than running stitch for some of the sections. I did really like the technique for finishing the hoop off at the back. I have never seen it done like this before. The messy back was hidden by layering another piece of fabric behind the main fabric before securing them both in the hoop and then glueing it all in place at the back. It gives it a very tidy, finished look.

Although there were lots of different types of yarn included in the kit, I did feel as though I had to be a bit careful which ones I used for various sections as there were only a couple of strands of each type included and I didn’t want to run out halfway through a section. That did actually happen in one of the French knot sections, but it doesn’t really matter because nobody would know once it is finished. I think that is the beauty of a kit like this. Although there is a design and a pattern, you don’t necessarily need to follow that pattern if you don’t want to. It allows for creativity and freedom to make something completely unique. 

I was attracted to this kit because of the different textures and types of yarn used to complete the design. I really like tactile art pieces, particularly textiles, that make the viewer want to touch them. With this piece I also really like how the thicker yarns give the design differing heights as well. My favourite part is the section that looks a bit like cauliflower! 

I don’t think I would recommend this kit to a beginner sewer, but I would definitely recommend it to a more experienced embroiderer who was looking to expand their creativity and try out familiar stitches with new materials. I’m very pleased with my finished piece, it makes me think of a coral reef where lots of strange sea creatures are lurking!

craft kit · workshop

Print Club London – Screen Printing Kit

On Thursday evening last week I attended a fab online workshop to learn screen printing. I ordered a screen printing kit via The Indytute website (https://www.indytute.com/), which was designed by Print Club London (https://printclublondon.com/). The Indytute offers fab craft kits along with other home experiences and I quite often browse the website if I’m looking for something a little different to try. I decided to try this one as I saw them advertising it on Instagram along with a free workshop worth £20. The kit itself costs £54.95, so I thought this was a great opportunity!

Included in the kit was:

  • Wood framed screen
  • Squeegee
  • Black fabric ink
  • Wooden spatulas x2
  • Vinyl templates

You had to provide your own fabric to print on and they recommended t-shirts, tote bags or tea towels. I found a tote bag which was blank on one side that I didn’t mind experimenting with, so I just used that. The vinyl templates provided in the kit were great. There was one with a blank rectangle which could be used to create a design of your own choice or there were loads of pre-cut shapes to choose from including a speech bubble, the alphabet, stars and other cosmic shapes. I had actually had a migraine on the day of the workshop so thought I would just watch the demo and then log off, but once I was there I decided to join in. The workshop was hosted by Vicky from Bristol Print Collective (https://www.bristolprintcollective.com/) who ran through how to do each stage of the screen printing process before we all tried out our own designs whilst she was on hand for any questions or troubleshooting. 

I decided to keep my design quite basic to start with using the speech bubble and some letters. It was important to remember to create the design back to front on the outside of the screen so that when you placed it over your work with the inside facing up, the word would be spelt the right way round. I had a trial go on some paper before I moved onto the tote bag. 

I found that as the design was quite large it was harder to flood it with the ink before pulling the final print onto the chosen surface. I think this led to me over-inking as I didn’t want to have any gaps and on both my paper trial and the final print on my tote I did get a bit of ink squeezing out the edge of my design. I’m so pleased with how clearly the letters came out though.

I’m glad I made the effort to craft along with everyone else even though I wasn’t feeling great. It was loads of fun and so easy to do. I can see how you could get quite addicted to printing onto things! The only rubbish bit was washing everything up at the end!

craft kit · subscription box

Craftiosity – Herringbone Marquetry Clock

This month’s Craftiosity kit was brilliant and like nothing I’ve ever tried before (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! I’d seen lots of pictures on Instagram of the kit before I received and opened it and really loved the look of the clock, but I thought it looked fiddly and like it involved a lot of sanding. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Included in the box was:

  • Wood veneer sheets x3
  • Wooden clock face
  • Clock hands and mechanism
  • Double sided tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Wooden bird tags (just for fun!)
  • Inspirational postcards

The project was divided into two main parts: cutting up the wood veneer into rectangles, and creating the herringbone pattern on the clock face. The first part of the project was a little repetitive, marking out the correct measurements and applying the double sided tape, but I’ve never worked with wood veneer before and was surprised by how brittle it was, but also how easy it was to just cut with scissors too. Once all the pieces were cut and sanded to ensure straight edges with no splinters it was time to start assembling the pattern.

This was the part I enjoyed the most. It was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, particularly around the edges trying to fill in the small gaps with offcuts, whilst still maintaining the pattern with the three different types of wood. The clock mechanism was easy to set up as well, just inserting it from the back and then adding the hands in the correct order: hour, minute and second. All that was needed after that was a battery! 

I had so much fun doing this project and it only took a couple of hours at most. The result is great quality and looks like it should have taken much longer to achieve. In addition there was loads of the wood veneer left over to create something else. I like the idea of getting another clock face to decorate as a gift for someone, but Craftiosity also suggest a box or a picture frame and also trying different patterns as well. It’s always great when craft kits are generous with the supplies included because it means that if you enjoy the craft enough to want to do it again you have enough materials to keep going as it can be daunting sourcing your own materials when you first get into a craft. Now I just have to find somewhere to hang my new clock… 

craft kit

Taken by the Wind

I started following Hello Bargello! (hellobargello.com) on Instagram last year and really liked the vintage designs they were producing for their craft kits. Bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery using geometric designs made with upright stitches. The patterns have a very 70s feel to them and Brett Bara, the founder of Hello Bargello!, started modernising the patterns and creating her kits after falling in love with the technique when she found several vintage books on the subject.

‘Taken by the Wind’ is the latest kit and it included:

  • Skeins of tapestry wool x 11
  • Needlepoint canvas
  • Tapestry needle

I found the instruction book very well laid out with a double page spread of how to do the basic Bargello stitch and other tips and tricks, followed by the instructions and pattern chart to complete the kit. The instructions were very thorough including measurements for where to start the design from the edge of the canvas and which section to start with. The pattern was divided into squares like the canvas, but all the lines started to make my eyes go funny and it was quite tricky to read at times, especially where two similar colours met. I found it much easier to follow once I started using a ruler to mark my place and moving it across as I completed each stitch.

Although there were a couple of places where I went wrong, it didn’t really matter as it’s an abstract piece and could easily be sorted out along the way by adjusting the length of other stitches. I really love the design of this piece as it reminds of visiting the Grand Canyon and I can totally understand why it was named ‘Taken by the Wind’. 

As I mentioned, I have been following Hello Bargello! online for a while but haven’t purchased anything from them before now as I’ve been a little put off by the price. This kit costs $48 (around £37 at the current exchange rate) and considering the minimal materials involved it seems like a lot to me. In addition to this is the shipping cost, which is obviously higher as it’s coming from America, plus I also had to pay a customs fee on it too. I actually used a $5 discount code that they were promoting on Instagram, but even with this I paid a total of £59.72 for this kit. If Bargello looks like something you want to get into I would recommend sourcing the materials yourself from UK suppliers as Hello Bargello! has their patterns for sale as downloadable PDFs for $12-$18 (approx £9-£14) depending on the size and complexity of the design. There are also plenty of videos on the website demonstrating how to do Bargello. 

Aside from the cost I found this a very enjoyable kit. As it’s divided up into sections its easy to put down and pick up again whenever you have a moment to craft, but I actually sat and finished the majority of it in one day because I was enjoying myself so much and only stopped because my back and arms were aching! It seems pretty addictive once you get started!

craft kit · subscription box

Craftiosity – Paper Flower Bouquet

The theme for the July Craftiosity box (https://craftiosity.co.uk/) was a paper flower bouquet. I have to say that I wasn’t very excited about this project as I have made paper flowers quite recently, however once I opened the box I found that rather than tissue paper these flowers were made with card, so although the process was very similar it was nice to work with a different material to produce a different effect in the end product.

Included in the box was:

  • Sheets of coloured A5 paper
  • Paper templates
  • Wire stems
  • Stamens
  • Florist tape
  • Glue stick
  • Vase

I really liked the addition of the vase in the kit as I often wonder how to display my craft projects and this provides the perfect solution!

There were four types of flowers to make: eucalyptus, anemone, craspedia, and tulip. All of the flowers followed the same basic process of cutting out the leaves and petals using the template, wrapping the stem with florist tape and then using the tape to attach the various components of each flower, with some help from the glue. Of course each flower had slightly different methods within that process to achieve the right effect. 

I had no trouble at all with the first three flowers, however I really struggled with the tulips. To start with the instructions said to make two flowers out of the white glitter paper but I just couldn’t find a way to fit all the petal templates onto one sheet of paper in order to cut out the correct amount of petals for each flower. In the end I just cut out enough for one and then cut the second set from some of the pale pink left over from the anemones. In the end I might as well not have bothered because I had to abandon the making of the tulips. I don’t often leave craft projects unfinished as I like to see things through to the end once I’ve started them, but I just could not get the petals to sit correctly, to meet at the top or glue together. I don’t know if it’s just the hot weather we’ve been having but I found the whole thing extremely frustrating and spent so much time manoeuvring the petals to try and get them to behave that they started to rip at the base where they were attached to the stem, so in the end I thought it would be best to leave them. After all, crafting is supposed to be good for your mental health and this was just making me cross! I have saved all the bits so hopefully I will be able to come back to them at a later date when I’m feeling a bit more patient, and the weather is cooler!

One thing I did like about this project was the way that the flowers were put together. The flowers and leaves either had small holes cut into them to slot straight onto the stem or they were held in place with the florist tape, so there was minimal waiting for glue to dry. I particularly liked the craspedias which, although fiddly, were certainly satisfying to put together, creating that little ball of yellow from strips of paper.

Overall I enjoyed this project and am really pleased with my little vase of flowers sitting on the dining table, which I don’t have to remember to water!