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!

craft kit

Stitch Club Embroidered Elephant

All this week I’ve had the Nellie the Elephant song stuck in my head because I’ve been making this super cute embroidered elephant from Stitch Club (https://stitchclub.co/)! Stitch Club have just launched their range of make-at-home kits, which they have been promoting for a while on Instagram. They have a really diverse range of kits available from pin cushions, to felt banners, to soft toys, to neck pillows. I think the watermelon neck pillow looks particularly fun and perfect for when you are ready to jet off on holiday again! To help with these projects they also sell crafting supplies such as scissors and fabric pens.

The elephant kit cost £24 and included:

  • Printed cotton-linen blend fabric
  • Plain calico fabric
  • Embroidery threads x5
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Machine thread
  • Sequins
  • Needle
  • Cardboard bobbins x5
  • Pins
  • Stuffing

Also in my box was a gift enamel pin and a lovely note from Jenny, the owner of Stitch Club, to say thank you for being the very first customer on launch day, which made me super happy! I’m always really keen to support small businesses, particularly ones that are just starting out so I’m very pleased to be able to support Jenny and Stitch Club.

I was very impressed with the instruction booklet that came with the kit. At the beginning Jenny explains how the kits are inspired by the classes they teach in primary schools and are suitable for anyone from age nine upwards. I think it’s perfect for adults wanting to teach their children how to sew as it uses eight different stitches and the whole instruction booklet is extremely thorough and has clear instructions throughout, accompanied by photographs and diagrams. Any technical terms that were used were explained fully as well.

The end of the booklet gives some suggestions for how to display your work and includes instructions for how to turn your elephant into a stuffed ornament. I was really excited to use my sewing machine for the first since I got it and I haven’t used one in years so that involved a bit of revision for me, especially when it came to loading the bobbin! To receive the extra materials needed for this stage of the kit (stuffing, machine thread, pins and backing fabric) you had to select this option when ordering the kit, otherwise you would just receive the supplies for the embroidery project. This is highlighted in bold in the description of the product on the website and with the option drop down menu at the top right underneath the picture this should be clear to anyone purchasing this kit.

I thought this was a lovely kit that I enjoyed as an adult and would have loved as a child. The instruction booklet filled with great tips on how to split thread, thread a needle, use an embroidery hoop, as well as the detailed instructions for each different type of stitch was just fabulous and probably one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of working through. I’m certainly tempted by the watermelon neck pillow and I can’t wait to see what kits they bring out in the future!

craft kit

Modern Calligraphy

There’s a huge trend at the moment for modern calligraphy; a style of writing using the basis of traditional copperplate calligraphy, but with the more relaxed and fluid feel. I’ve had a brief go of the traditional style with some pens before, but I thought I would give it a proper try as it’s so popular at the moment. I’ve been thinking about this for a while but I actually ordered a modern calligraphy starter kit by Alice Gabb (http://www.alicegabb.com/) on a whim via the Holly & Co website (https://holly.co/shop/) as I happened to see it pop up on their Instagram and thought, why not?

Included in the kit was:

  • Nibs x2
  • Wooden pen holder
  • Black ink
  • Glass water jar
  • Lettering guide
  • Guide line sheet

Also included was a fold-out with lots of top tips about how to attach the nib to the pen holder, how to load the pen with ink and how to create thin and thick lines. In addition to this was a list of stockists for classes, online tutorials, and stockists for supplies for anyone wanting to take their calligraphy skills further. There weren’t really any more instructions. I was expecting there to be more exercises to work through, but aside from a card showing various marks to practice getting a feel for the pen, there was only really the lettering guide showing how to do capital and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation marks. I was also a bit disappointed that there was no paper included in the kit for either practice or freestyle writing once you had mastered your letters. I used some printer paper to practice mark making on, although the ink bled a little on this, and then found some nice letter-writing paper to write a nice message on using my new found skills. You can purchase another kit directly though Alice Gabb’s website called ‘Calligraphy Starter Kit: The Fanciest Edition’, which costs £55 (the standard kit costs £25). This includes extras such as different nib types, two different pen holders, a pad of paper, and white as well as black ink amongst other things. 

I started off following the practice marks guide sheet before moving onto the letters using the guide line sheet to help. I did an upper and lowercase of each letter, the full lowercase alphabet joined up (although I totally misjudged the space I needed and ended up on a second line!), and the numbers and punctuation. Some of the letters turned out better than others, but like anything, it’s all about practice. 

I had a few more goes of the letters on my mark making paper and then moved onto the fancy letter-writing paper. I think my alignment and spacing still need some work, but overall I’m pretty happy with what I’ve learnt. I found the angle of the pen quite tricky as I’m one of those left-handed people that writes ‘upside down’, so I found it took a lot of concentration to keep my hand in the correct position. I also found that my upward strokes were quite scratchy, even when the pen was freshly loaded with ink. I just couldn’t get it to flow nicely, but perhaps its just another technique that comes with practice. Now I just need to get all this ink off my fingers and remember not to spill it next time!

craft kit

Punch Needle Embroidery Rainbow

I haven’t done any punch needling for ages, so when I saw this new punch needle embroidery kit from The Modern Crafter (https://themoderncrafter.co.uk/) I just had to buy it! I always really enjoy their kits as the designs are well thought through and the materials are always great quality. This kit was £29 with free shipping (UK based, may be more for international).

Included in the kit was:

  • Punch needle embroidery tool
  • Pre-printed fabric
  • Yarn x 3 colours 
  • Embroidery hoop

This particular kit caught my eye because it was punch needle embroidery using a Lavor needle as opposed to the regular Oxford needle. The Lavor tool has three interchangeable needles and is a lot smaller than the Oxford, meaning you can do more detailed and intricate designs with it. The ladies at The Modern Crafter recommend using an Aran weight yarn with the largest size needle and embroidery thread (all six strands) with the other two smaller ones. I am interested in doing some experimenting of my own though to see what other kinds of yarn and thread work well with this tool.

The pre-printed design is a rainbow with a sun using three different coloured yarns, which is also available in the main punch needle range as well. The guide is really useful and contains plenty of information about punch needle generally and how to complete this kit specifically. I thought that the section on threading the needle was particularly good with clear step-by-step photographs. I also really liked the close up photo of the difference between loop and flat stitches and the trouble shooting page at the back that had lots of handy hints.

The project itself was quite quick to complete. It is smaller than the usual punch needle kits with a 6 inch hoop rather than an 8 inch hoop. As with most punch needle projects (and my favourite thing about it) you could see your progress really quickly, which is very satisfying. 

I’m really keen to have another go with the Lavor needle. It produces a lovely texture that is so soft and tactile and you can get in smaller spaces than you can with the ordinary Oxford needle. As soon as I finish typing this I’m going to be ordering some fabric and yarn so I can have another go!

craft kit · subscription box

Craft Box Club – Star String Art

String art is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I’ve seen loads of examples of it online, with people creating these amazing images, so I was pretty excited when the Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) for June landed on my doorstep!

Included in the box was:

  • Block of wood x2
  • Coloured string x7
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Elastic bands
  • Paper templates

As per usual there was the link to the video tutorial as well. The process was a lot simpler than I’d thought in my head and I only had to watch the video once before completing the project as each step was demonstrated very clearly. I think that just seeing the end product and not knowing the process can be a big barrier to people, including me, from trying out new crafts. One of my favourite things about Craft Box Club is that the crafts are always varied and different from crafts that you find in a lot of other subscription boxes, but the instructions are so clear and easy to follow that it’s not off-putting at all. Also, the crafts are usually quick to do, which is great if you only have an hour or so at the weekend to indulge your creativity.

The part of this box that I most enjoyed was hammering in the nails. It was extremely satisfying, although I think I need to work on my technique as some of my nails ended up a bit wonky! You hammered the nails in with the use of the paper template laid over the two pieces of wood. I wasn’t sure why the wood had to be in two parts at first, but due to Adam’s mission to make the boxes as plastic free and sustainable as possible, it explains on the website that the wood is upcycled from locally sourced wooden pallets. Once the nails were all hammered in you could then tear off the paper template ready to start stringing.

The stringing was done in a specific order so that the two pieces of wood held together. The colours were a rainbow theme and the pattern created a star shape in the middle. The thing I like about string art is the patterns that are created, not only using the string but also using the negative spaces between the string, in this case the star. Included in the kit was a paper template showing where each coloured string had to go with each point numbered so you knew which nail to wind it around. I found the diagram very useful as I don’t think I would have been able to follow along with the video.

Finally all that was left to do was string the two pieces of wood together at the back and create a hook for hanging it. This was a very satisfying project to complete, resulting in a cute, rustic wall hanging.