craft kit

Ann’s Orchard – Red Macaw Beadwork

This Red Macaw beadwork kit from Ann’s Orchard is the second kit I bought from The Stitch Festival. Although I used to work with beads a lot as a jeweller, I haven’t used them much in my textile work so when I saw this kit I was really excited. There were loads of designs to choose from on the stand, and the website has even more to offer, not just beadwork, but embroidery, cross stitch, and tapestry kits as well as supplies.

Included in the kit was:

• Seed beads
• Beading canvas
• Embroidery thread
• White sewing thread
• Tapestry needle
• Beading needle
• Card and envelope

I picked the macaw because I thought it was a vibrant fun design, but not too big for an introduction to beadwork. The packaging for this kit was very streamlined with the cover for the kit also doubling up as the pattern and colour chart. The instructions were designed to cover all the kits of this type, rather than specifically this macaw kit so there wasn’t a step-by-step guide on how to complete the design. However, the instructions were really clear on how to start, the order to do things in (beads first, then background), how to follow the chart and how to do the stitches, both with and without the beads. The most useful part I found was how to attach the first bead by looping the thread through itself, without having to tie any knots. It kept the back of the canvas really neat and tidy.

I actually wasn’t expecting the aperture card and envelope to be included in the pack. I thought it was just the materials to do the beading and I would need to frame or mount it myself so it was a nice surprise to find it inside. At first I was thinking I would frame it to hang on the wall and the card would have been useful as a mount, but I really liked the idea of giving it as a gift so I made up the card and gave it to my mum.

I thought that beadwork would be quite a slow, laborious process, but once I got started it was easy to get into a rhythm of following the pattern, picking up the beads and sewing them on. I finished the beadwork section in a few hours and it was actually the needlepoint embroidery background that took the longest to complete. Every time I have done beading in my textile work I always enjoy it and want to include it in my work more. I think it gives such a great textural quality to the work.

I’m very tempted to spend some more money on the Ann’s Orchard website in the near future, there’s some great looking kits available!

subscription box

Craftiosity – Painted Stained Glass Craft Kit

Last month’s Craftiosity box was a painted stained glass kit. The box was inspired by Kew Gardens and the beautiful glass houses and foliage found there. I’ve always wanted to have a go at stained glass at home as the real thing is a bit more complicated.

Included in the kit was:

• Arch-shaped glass
• Black relief liner
• Green glass paint
• Paintbrush
• Toothpicks
• Paper template

The process of painting the design was very easy but there was a lot of drying time involved to ensure you didn’t smudge any of the lines. The black liner was easy to use and after a little practice I was able to get a thinner and thicker line. I did have some trouble tidying up some of my mistakes though! I must have missed the window for using the toothpicks to tidy up the lines because it was either too wet so I smudged it or too dry and wouldn’t move.

The green glass paint was quite versatile in terms of varying the shade, getting a darker colour by layering it up on the leaves, or spreading it out to get a more transparent effect. I also liked the use of watered down liner to create the wood effect bench that the pot is sitting on.

The stained glass effect was so easy to achieve with the relief liner and glass paint. It was a lovely project to do at home and would make a great gift, or a nice ornament for a sunny window in your home.

craft kit

Wild & Green – Sacred Heart Hoop

The first craft kit that I’ve completed from my visit to The Stitch Festival is the Sacred Heart Hoop from Wild & Green. Wild & Green are a monthly craft subscription company, but they also sell each month’s project as a stand-alone kit as well. The monthly cost of the subscription is £24.99. Although a lot of the projects are textile based there are other projects available too.

The Sacred Heart Hoop project is an appliqué embroidery design including some beadwork. Included in the kit was:

• Felt sheets x4 (white, black, red, blue)
• Patterned cotton fabric
• Embroidery hoop
• Needle
• Pins
• Embroidery thread x3 (gold, blue, red)
• Pompom trim
• Gold seed beads
• Red sequins
• String
• Embroidery scissors
• PVA glue
• White gel pen
• Pencil
• Paper templates

The instructions were easy to follow and included clear photographs showing how to lay out the design and what kind of stitches were used. I did feel that some prior knowledge of basic sewing skills were needed to complete this project, although there were some illustrations of the stitches as well. My only other niggle was that the instructions said to use four pins to hold the felt piece in place but only two were provided with the kit, so a basic sewing kit would also be useful for completing this project. However if you are a regular craft kit subscriber like me you do tend to accumulate things like this!

I really liked the use of patterned fabric as the background for the design as it added extra interest. I also liked the combination of appliqué and beading to give the design texture and dimension. Metallic thread can be tricky to handle, but it always gives a nice finish to a piece once you’ve mastered it. The other part I enjoyed was adding the pompom trim to the edge of the embroidery hoop. I never think to decorate the hoop in that way and make it part of the artwork so it was nice to do something a bit different.

The theme of the kit is inspired by Mexican art and the use of the heart within the art work. The bright colours and shapes really celebrate that theme and are joyful to look at. The use of the metallic threads, beads and sequins give the piece a special luxury feel as well.

These projects are worth a look at if you are interested in art inspired craft projects. They offer something a bit different to other kits in the market and the fact you can choose to either subscribe or buy as a one-off is a real bonus to me. I bought two kits from the lovely Rachel at The Stitch Festival and having finished this one already I’m excited to start the next one!

craft kit

Cosy Craft Club – Black Work Mandala Succulents

This black work embroidery kit is another one I purchased as a one-off through Cosy Craft Club (who also do subscriptions), put together by Purple Rose Embroidery. Black work is a counted form of embroidery using Aida fabric and geometric patterns to build up the design, in this case a mandala style succulent. Although traditionally worked in black thread other colours can be used and the term is nowadays used to refer to the technique, rather than the colour of thread.

Included in the kit was:

  • Aida fabric
  • Wooden embroidery hoop
  • Needles x2
  • Black embroidery thread
  • Gold embroidery thread
  • Magnetic needle minder

The project was worked in four stages; the outline, the geometric designs, the gold highlights, and the background. I’ve been keen to try this technique for a while as I’ve seen a lot of examples of it on social media. The results look incredibly intricate, however once you break them down to their component parts the process is actually fairly simple. The ‘cheat sheet’ included in the instructions does a good job of explaining how to start, the basic stitch you will need, and breaking down the patterns into basic shapes. 

There are three designs included in the instructions for a small, medium and large design. I decided to do the large one as the embroidery hoop was big enough and I like to give myself a challenge! Although the design looks great in just black I really liked the addition of the gold highlights and background design. They really bring the piece to life and add a touch of luxury.

The only negatives in this kit for me were a lack of instructions on how to finish a hoop. I already know how to do this, but this kit would be achievable for a less experienced embroiderer so it would be helpful to have some details about finishing the hoop at the back, especially given the amount of work put into the design. The other thing that would have been helpful is a photograph of the finished design. The template obviously showed all the stitches, but sometimes its good to have a photo for reference too. 

This is not a quick craft. Finishing this hoop took me a long time. I would recommend good lighting, good eyesight and a lot of patience for this type of embroidery. The geometric designs are made up of very small stitches and worked in a single strand of thread. Although it took a long time to complete I did really enjoy doing it and I’m really proud of the finished piece as I put so much hard work into it.   

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Craft Box Club – Cross Stitch Buttons

This month’s kit from Craft Box Club was a cute little project using cross stitch designs to create wearable art. The green leafy theme made me feel as though Spring is on the way, despite the wet and windy weather outside! 

Included in the box was:

  • Aida
  • Embroidery thread x2 (light green, dark green)
  • Brooch pins x3
  • Wooden button backs x3
  • Mini embroidery hoop
  • Waxed cotton cord
  • Needle
  • Needle threader
  • Glue
  • Wooden lolly stick
  • Cotton wool

There was also a paper pattern for each of the four cross stitch designs as well as the link to the online instructions and video. I find it really helpful that there are written/photo instructions as it can be frustrating to try to make along with a video and have to keep pausing and rewinding bits. However, having the video as well is useful in understanding how to do more complicated techniques.

Although sewing each of the designs took some time as cross stitch can be quite a slow process, the overall project was very straightforward. After sewing the designs there were three wooden disc blanks to use to create the buttons, which needed the brooch pins glueing on the backs before attaching the sewn designs using a simple running stitch to gather the fabric around the wooden disc. The fourth design was used to make a necklace using the mini embroidery hoop and waxed cotton cord. It was a bit unclear what the cotton wool was for. I thought it was used to pad out the buttons, but this wasn’t mentioned in the instructions or the video. 

I thought this was a really cute project that would be easy for any level of crafter, including beginner, to complete. As always it was eco friendly with no plastic at all and the green theme had me thinking of nature whilst I was sewing away! 

subscription box

Craftiosity – Himalayan Salt Soap

I don’t know where the time is going but it seems to be slipping away from me at the moment because I feel like I’m getting a new subscription box through the door every other day and I just don’t seem to have the time to keep up with them all! I have definitely skipped a few, but they are all waiting for me down my shed and I’m hoping one day I’ll have a chance to try them all out. The most recent one I’ve received from Craftiosity is their kit to make Himalayan salt soap. 

Included in the kit was:

  • Melt and Pour soap base
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • Lavender fragrance oil
  • Wooden lolly stick

To make the soap all you really need is a microwave and a sharp knife. The easiest thing about this kit was that there was no need for special moulds to pour the soap into. The aim was to make blocks of soap, so the Melt and Pour base was melted and set in the original tub it came in, with the addition of the Himalayan salt as an exfoliator. There was also the option of adding the lavender fragrance oil, but I’m not too keen on the scent of lavender so I left it out of mine. If you had other scents at home you could easily use them instead.

Layering the Himalayan salt was the trickiest part as you had to add it in bit by bit and then wait for a skin to form on the top of the liquid soap before adding the next layer to prevent it all from sinking to the bottom. My distribution wasn’t as good as the pictures in the instructions but I did achieve a partial layering effect and I think with some more practice I could get better results.

The other part that required some careful judgement was deciding when it was set enough to cut. You didn’t want it to still be liquid but it also needed to be soft enough to be easy to cut. I liked the idea of wrapping the blocks in baking parchment ready to give as gifts.

I’m always amazed at how easy it is to make soap, although it’s a fairly long process including the setting time it’s always very rewarding. As usual from Craftiosity the instructions were clear and the photos helpful. They are already promoting their next box on social media so I shall look forward to receiving that, probably sooner than I think!

craft kit · subscription box

Cosy Craft Club – Alice and Stars Enamel Jewellery

I heard about Cosy Craft Club on Instagram and started following them as I liked the look of their kits. They do offer a monthly subscription, but I decided to buy a couple of kits as a one off to get a feel for their style. It looks as though Cosy Craft Club collaborates with a maker each month to put a kit together. The first kit I’ve tried is the current kit for this month – enamel jewellery, created by Alice and Stars. I was really excited about this as I’ve done enamelling before as part of my jewellery diploma, but had got it into my head that you needed a kiln. It turns out that this is not the case and all that’s required is a normal kitchen oven!

Included in the kit was:

  • Enamelling powder x5 (green, blue, white, pink, red)
  • Wooden spatula
  • Bunting flag copper blanks x5
  • Round disc steel blank
  • Sieve
  • Chain
  • Jump rings
  • Clasps

I was amazed at how quick and easy this craft was to do, with instant results. The enamelling part was so quick, using the wooden spatula to transfer the powder into the sieve and then creating a nice even layer of powder on the blanks. I liked how easy it was to create interesting effects as well like an ombré. I also played around with using paper to mask areas of the blanks to create lines, but I enjoyed the ombré too much to keep them like that! Once the designs were done they only needed ten minutes maximum in the oven.

The second part of the kit was to turn the enamelled pieces into jewellery. There was enough chain, jump rings and clasps to make a necklace with the bunting and a bracelet with the disc. The instructions for both parts of the kit were easy to follow. There weren’t any pictures of the process included, however I didn’t find this a problem. On Cosy Craft Club’s Instagram there were plenty of videos and pictures showing the process and ideas for designs.

There are lots of kits available on the website covering a range of crafts. The main kits cost between £24-£30, although there are some mini kits available for less. The monthly subscription is £24 and it looks as though you would get a good variety of crafts coming through your door each month.

subscription box

Makerly – Zentangle Cushion Cover

This polar bear cushion cover from Makerly inspired by the practise of Zentangle is suitably wintry for this frosty weather we are having at the moment. Zentangle is a combination of art and meditation by focusing on the formation of patterns. It made this a really mindful project to complete as well as being inspiration for creating designs for future projects by taking the same principle of filling each section of the design with a different pattern.

Included in the box was:

  • Cushion cover
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Transfer paper
  • Paper template
  • Selection of threads including embroidery thread, metallic thread, waxed cotton thread, acrylic yarn, and sewing thread

I had a couple of issues with this project but nothing that couldn’t be overcome. The polar bear design was quite large to fill the space on the cushion cover, however the sheet of transfer paper included in the kit was quite small, which meant that you had to move it over halfway through transferring the design to the cushion cover. Although this wasn’t too tricky, it did feel a bit awkward and I was worried about making sure the design was lined up properly. It was a problem that could easily have been resolved by having a piece of transfer paper just a bit larger. The other issue I found was that the design rubbed off the cushion cover quite quickly and I had to redraw it a few times with some tailors chalk to make sure my sewing didn’t go wonky. This was mainly for the leaf design and the face.

I liked how many different stitches were used in the design and how you could make such effective patterns with even the most basic straight stitch. The instructions for each stitch were clearly written out and the photographs were helpful too. I also thought it was great that there were so many suggestions for patterns included in the instructions outside of the ones used in the main design. This project really allowed for a lot of individuality and opportunity to make it your own. 

There wasn’t a cushion insert included in the kit. I have temporarily filled mine with stuffing, but I will order a proper insert for it as I think that will really finish it off nicely. I like the idea of using Zentangle to inspire designs with each section being a different pattern and the use of different threads for each one gives the piece a lovely texture and highlights the different areas, even though they are all in shades of white and cream.

subscription box

Winter Owl Craftpod

Starting the crafting year with my favourite of all the subscription boxes I’ve tried, it’s Craftpod of course! The Winter box this year is no exception delivering three lovely projects to complete. The theme of the box is owls, with the major project being an appliqué embroidery of an owl soaring through a cold starry sky. The second project is an owl shaped case for a pair of embroidery scissors, and lastly a paper garland to cut out and hang in your home.

Included in the box was:

  • Felt (navy, white, beige, brown)
  • Calico
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Embroidery thread x6 (white, ginger, pale brown, dark brown, yellow, green)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Needle
  • Card pictures (to cut out for garland)
  • Twine
  • Mini wooden pegs

I started the appliqué embroidery first as it looked like the most complicated and time-consuming piece. I really like the composition of the design and it’s quite different to other pieces I’ve sewn. Although the owl was strengthened with the iron-on interfacing it was definitely the trickiest part of the project as the edges still frayed a lot when the initial border was sewn round to keep it in place. Once this was completed it did get a lot easier to manage, and of course it eventually gives the owl his feathery look. I liked the use of the interfacing on the back of the felt to get an accurate crescent for the moon and also the dusting of tiny stitches around it to give it its glow.

The scissor case was a much quicker project which I did all in one evening. Once the cutting out and sewing the feathery details on the front panel were done then the rest was just construction. The instructions were really easy to follow and I especially like the way the eyes were done. It’s a much safer way to carry my scissors around, rather than just loose in my bag!

The paper garland was a fun little project which took all of ten minutes to cut out the images and peg them to the twine. I felt like this box kept me entertained and occupied for many evenings of enjoyment. As always I’m looking forward to seeing what the spring box brings in a few months!

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Happy New Craft!

I can’t believe another year has whizzed by and we are already in 2022! Of course not all of 2021 was plain sailing because every year has it’s ups and downs, but from a crafting perspective I feel like I’ve achieved so much. Scrolling back through my blog I’m amazed at how many craft projects I completed!

I tried several new crafts that I’ve never tried before such as natural dyeing with turmeric and marigolds, and embroidering on organza, but my top new craft of the year definitely has to be latch hook. I had planned to do an online class with Tea and Crafting, but it was delayed and in the meantime I did a latch hook from the Makerly subscription box. I absolutely loved it straight away and was so excited when the Tea and Crafting online class finally happened. It was so great to craft along with other people, even via Zoom. I made one of the biggest and most creative pieces I’ve ever made, and I’ve been latch hooking ever since.

My favourite individual piece from a kit last year had to be the wild rose and strawberry embroidery from Craftpod. There was something so wonderful about the colours and composition of the piece and it was so therapeutic to sew. Every time I look at it I feel joyful and summery.

Although I didn’t make it to any real-life workshops, I did go to several exhibitions and events throughout the year, which was very exciting following the lockdown of 2020. Starting with the Unravel Festival of Yarn I also attended exhibitions for Sophie Taeuber-Arp, David Hockney, and Paula Rego, as well as the Summer Exhibition at the RA. All of these trips were so inspiring, to see all these artists working in different mediums to achieve amazing work. I particularly liked the inclusion of textiles into the Summer Exhibition, it made me feel like my own work has worth and recognition as a true art form.

The biggest thing for me in 2021 was starting a Textiles diploma at Morley College. I began in September and the first term has been packed with so much learning. From back-to-basics techniques like drawing and the importance of conducting primary research to inform your decisions in your own work, to trying so many different textile techniques like mark making, machine embroidery, hand embroidery, felt-making, backstrap weaving, sublimation printing, screen printing, 3D structures, and shibori clamp dyeing. I’m so looking forward to starting back to school for the upcoming term. We will be focusing on fewer subjects, but more in depth including screen printing, machine knitting, and conceptual headwear. 

I can’t wait to see all the crafts I’ll do and the things I’ll learn in 2022. Wishing you all a fabulous year too!