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Craftiosity – Winter Felt Wreath

I had so much crafting to do before Christmas that I just couldn’t fit it all in! As we are still in the ‘Christmas period’ I think it’s ok to still be posting wreaths, especially one as nice as this from the December Craftiosity box (https://craftiosity.co.uk/).

Included in the box was:

  • Felt sheets x4 (orange, ivory, light green, dark green)
  • Embroidery thread x4 (orange, green, white, gold)
  • Metal wreath base
  • Needle
  • Paper template
  • Christmas gift of gold flecked baker’s twine

Wreaths, fruit, felt and embroidery seem to be very much the trend of the season, based on what I’ve been making over the last few weeks and this snowberry and orange slice wreath certainly fits the bill. Ever since I saw this kit on Instagram I’ve been looking forward to making the orange slices! The kit was very straightforward to put together, and each step had some great techniques to try. I thought that wrapping the metal hoop in strips of felt to attach the components to was a great idea, and I particularly liked creating the snowberries using a running stitch to gather the circle of felt together. Filling them with off-cuts of the felt was a neat way to use up the scraps and create less waste.

The orange slices were the most time-consuming part. The segments were created using long and short stitch and there were three slices to do, with six segments on each. I’m not really sure how long they took me as I sat and did them in front of the TV, but I do know that I love the result! My only issue was that I ran out of embroidery thread after making only two of the slices. I’m not sure why as I followed the instructions, but I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the third slice. I looked into buying the thread online, which was easy enough to find on Love Crafts (https://www.lovecrafts.com/en-gb/), but before I bought it I decided to check in my sewing box. I have done a lot of kits and have a lot of leftover thread so I rummaged through and miraculously found a skein that was almost identical in colour to the original thread! It is ever so slightly lighter, but I don’t think it notices at all now that they are all attached the to hoop. Once I’d finished the final slice with my found thread I then added the finishing gold touches.

Once I had all the components and the hoop prepared I could then decide on the placement and sew it all together. Although this wreath didn’t quite get made in time for this Christmas I will look forward to hanging it up in my home next year! 

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MakeBox – Partridge in a Pear Wreath

The Christmas box is my favourite MakeBox this year (https://www.makebox.co/)! The theme is a ‘Partridge in a Pear Wreath’, and the finished product is gorgeous. I particularly love the pears, they are really satisfying to make and look so effective. I like the traditional style of the decoration as well. I think this kit appeals to me as well because I like working with felt. It’s such a versatile and forgiving material.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden partridge shape
  • Felt sheets x5 (marl green, dark green, white, faun and brown)
  • Stuffing
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Embroidery thread
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Copper wreath base
  • Red felt balls
  • Wire
  • Paper templates

The instruction book was very well put together with guidance on how to do whip stitch and the dos and don’ts of using a glue gun at the beginning. It then went through how to make each of the elements and finally how to assemble them all together. As I mentioned above I just love the pears. They came together so nicely and look surprisingly realistic! 

I actually decided to skip about through the instructions. I know from previous experience that you can lose a lot of glue by having the glue gun on all the time whilst you are busy doing other things, so I decided to prep everything else first and then have a big glueing session. I cut out all the pattern pieces, stitched my pears and cut all my wire before turning on the gun. I found this a really productive way to work and actually got it all assembled pretty quickly!

Having said that I love this kit, I do still have a negative to talk about. I don’t like saying negative things because I know how hard the people who create these craft kits work, but I also want to give an honest review. Not for the first time with MakeBox I found myself short of materials. There was not enough wire to make the kit as stated in the instructions. Each leaf and flower was glued onto a 15cm long piece of wire, you were then supposed to attach the leaves to another central piece of wire (x2) and then use two further lengths of wire to attach the branches to the wreath base. I actually ran out of wire cutting the pieces for my flowers and had to cut two in half to create four shorter lengths. I thought maybe I just got a mis-measured coil of wire, but in the instruction booklet it clearly states that a 5 metre length of wire is included. Being pedantic, I went through the instructions and added up all the lengths it asks you to cut. It totals 6 metres and 40 centimetres. None of this actually matters to me because I just twisted the leaves together, leaving out the central wire and then wound the whole branch around the wreath base, which was a bit trickier but not a problem. What I find frustrating about this is that firstly there are people out there who are not as experienced at crafting and may not know what to do to be able to complete their project without the extra wire and secondly, this is not a cheap subscription box, it’s a high quality brand. All the materials are excellent quality and the finished products are always gorgeous, which makes it all the more disappointing when you are short of one of the materials because someone didn’t bother to work out how much was needed, or there is an error in the instruction booklet that could have been avoided with proof reading or a beta test. 

Despite this annoyance I still enjoyed making the project and would make it again if I could find more marl green felt! The wreath is a truly beautiful Christmas decoration that I will be getting out year after year to hang in my home. 

There was in fact enough extra materials to make not one, but two more pears to turn into tree decorations. If you follow me on Instagram (@theinquisitivebee) you will know that I have been doing several projects over the Christmas period that have resulted in my tree being absolutely laden with ornaments, but it makes me smile every time I look at it! I have so many now that I think next year I might need two trees!

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Craftiosity – Brush Lettering Baubles

Two more decorations for my Christmas tree with the November Craftiosity kit (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! Using brush lettering pens to decorate wooden baubles, it had a bit of a Nordic feel to me. 

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden spindle bauble
  • Wooden diamond bauble
  • Brush letter pens x3 (black, red, green)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Lettering guide

This project took me around 1.5 hours to complete. I started off practising the writing I was going to do on the spindle bauble. I was glad that I had recently done the workshop on faux calligraphy as it set me up really nicely for my lettering. As before you had to remember that upstrokes were thin and downstrokes were thick. It’s quite a strange way of writing and the temptation is to try and do the whole word in one go, but actually you get a much better result if you do one letter at a time and just make them look joined up! I also measured the gap on the bauble where I would be writing and drew some guidelines for myself so I could practice writing the letters to the correct size.

After practising the writing it was then time to decorate the baubles, starting with the white paint and then embellishing with the red and green brush pens. I followed the pattern provided in the instructions, but I think you could be as creative as you like with this. I like the foliage theme though as it has a real Christmas feel in those colours. 

Once they were all decorated and the paint was dry it was time to add the lettering I had practiced. I drew it on in pencil first to make sure I spaced it out nicely and then went over in the black brush pen. There were some surfaces on the bauble where the wood had been cut in a certain way which meant that the pens bled slightly, which makes it look a bit messy, but once they are up on the tree you really can’t notice from a distance.

This was such a simple craft, but so effective in its results. The baubles have a really rustic, traditional feel to them, which is always nice at Christmas time!

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Christmas Charity Craft Afternoon

So, this is my crafty weekend: part two! Last weekend as well as making my polymer clay baubles, I also spent the afternoon crafting with a bunch of lovely people over Zoom to raise money for St Christopher’s Hospice. My friend Laura and her mum Ruth run this amazing open house every year to raise money for charity, but of course this year they couldn’t do it in real life so they organised it via Zoom instead. 

The afternoon started at 2pm and ran throughout the afternoon with five workshops taking place, all hosted by different people. The running order was: baking Christmas cookies; calligraphy and wooden tree ornaments; festive origami, beeswax wraps and cocktail making.

I thought that they set the event up really well, with the cost of your ‘ticket’ being the donation to the charity and then you could also order packs of materials for each workshop to be delivered prior to the event. I decided to only attend two of the workshops, calligraphy and origami. 

Included in my pack of materials was:

  • Wooden discs (with pre-drilled holes)
  • Twine
  • Cards and envelopes
  • Calligraphy template
  • Carbon paper
  • Origami paper

In addition to this I needed acrylics paints, a paintbrush, a fineliner, and a metallic pen. The first session was the calligraphy, which was actually a kind of cheat’s calligraphy to achieve the effect of the more modern writing style, but without have to use a pen and ink. Laura ran this workshop and she guided us through the process so well. We began by painting our wooden discs so they would have time to dry, and then she talked us through the writing style, how to create the thick and thin lines with just a normal pen and how to leave a tail on each letter so that the writing looks joined up. We then had a play around with drawing and colouring some little wreaths and decorative motifs and Laura showed us some techniques to create the impression of leaves and pinecones with just a few lines. We also had a go at transferring the text using carbon paper, which is great if you aren’t so confident with the writing style at first. 

I did a design on one of my cards with a wreath and ‘Seasons Greetings’ written in the centre. I was so happy with how it looked aside from the fact that I smudged it because I am 1) left-handed and 2) too impatient to wait for it to dry before rubbing out my guidelines! 

Lastly we moved on to our wooden discs, which we decorated using the variety of skills we had just learnt. I did a couple with words and a couple with just initials and decorated them with little leaves and stars. I absolutely love these and want to order some more discs so I can make them for everybody! They already have pride of place on my tree.

After a half hour break Jenny then led us in the origami where we made little paper Santas. They were super cute! She talked us through each stage of folding and had prepared several pieces of the origami paper with the next lot of folds drawn on them in pen, so we could clearly see where we were meant to be folding. Once we had all made one Santa, Jenny went through the process again a bit faster so we could all follow along and make a second one now we knew what we were doing. Once they had been folded we could then draw on little faces. There were five pieces of paper included, so plenty to practice on, but of course you can use any kind of paper for origami, so you could make a whole army of Santas!

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops I attended. It was such a lovely atmosphere with Christmas music playing in the background and everyone crafting together. Fingers crossed that next year we can do it in real life again! 

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Makerly – Reindeer Doorstop

This month’s Makerly box (https://www.makerlycrafts.com/) was very festive indeed – a reindeer doorstop! The tartan fabric alone just screams Christmas!  It’s a great seasonal ornament and is so simple to make.

Included in the box was:

  • Tartan fabric
  • Gingerbread felt sheets x2
  • Stuffing
  • Ribbon
  • Needles
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Bells
  • Eyes
  • Pom-poms
  • Paper template
  • Berry and elderflower teabag

I started off by cutting out all the fabric pieces using the paper templates. The instructions said to leave a one inch seam allowance around each piece, which I thought was quite big, considering some of the pieces were quite small. I made the ears first and after I had sewed the tartan and felt pieces together I trimmed around the edge before turning them right side out, otherwise they would have been too bulky. I then moved onto the arms and once again trimmed the seam allowance down, however this time when I turned it out the seam split apart and I ended up with a hole in the arm as the fabric had just frayed away down to the stitches. I found the whole time I was sewing that the tartan fabric was fraying and it was quite difficult and slippery to work with. I had enough spare material to cut new arm pieces and from then on I didn’t trim down the seam allowance, even though this made it quite tricky when turning the pieces out.

Once all the smaller pieces were sewn together they could then be sewn into the body. After pinning them in place between the two body pieces it was just a case of sewing around. I thought this part would be tricky as the limbs, ears and antlers made it bulky and I was worried about them moving around, but it was actually really straightforward. Once the body was turned out I could really see my reindeer taking shape.

Before stuffing and sewing up the reindeer I added the face using the safety eyes, which are so easy to use as they just press together and they feel so secure, and sewing on a pom-pom nose. There was a choice of brown, red or green pom-poms for the nose. I decided to go with brown as I thought he was jazzy enough with his tartan body! 

After the face was on it was time to stuff! The top half was filled with stuffing and the bottom half was filled with rice. The instructions suggested rice, seeds, dry beans or sand; anything to give it some weight to be able to hold a door open. I raided my kitchen cupboards and found an old pack of brown rice that we had obviously had one serving out of and decided we didn’t like, so I used it to fill up my reindeer! 

With all the stuffing in it was time to sew up the bottom. The instructions suggested whip stitch, but I decided to use ladder stitch as I think it gives a neater finish. Lastly I added the ribbon and bell for a finishing touch! He looks so lovely and friendly that I might have to find a door for him to hold open all year and not just at Christmas!

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Tea and Crafting – Polymer Clay Baubles

I had a super crafty weekend! I attended online workshops on both Saturday and Sunday and it was such a lovely way to spend my time, especially getting to hang out with other crafty people. I feel like I made so much this weekend, so I’m only going to talk about one of the workshops today: polymer clay Christmas baubles with Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/). 

I’ve done several workshops with Jane from Tea and Crafting, both in real life and online. She is such a fantastic host and is so great at talking through and demonstrating each instruction. I also love how enthusiastic she gets about what everyone has made! As this was an online workshop everyone was sent a pack of materials in advance. This is all included in the cost of the workshop, which was £38 plus shipping (£2.99). Included in the parcel was:

  • Fimo polymer clay x4 (white, red, blue, and yellow)
  • Polystyrene balls x3
  • Lolly sticks x2
  • Bauble hangers with caps x3

We did two different pattern techniques, marbling and terrazzo. We spent a little while conditioning the clay with our hands to get it warm and pliable before we could begin using it and once it was soft we could then start to create our patterns. We started with the marbling, rolling the clay into sausages and then twisting them around each other to create the effect. The lolly sticks were used for rolling out the clay to the right thickness. Once the clay was rolled out to the right size it could then be wrapped around the polystyrene bauble. Jane showed us how to trim away the excess and smooth over any holes to ensure there were no extra thick parts as this would affect the baking time. 

The terrazzo style was super easy too. Before creating the pattern we took some time to create some new colours by blending the colours together, I made green and purple. I also blended some yellow and red, but I didn’t add quite enough yellow for it to be as orange as I would have liked! Once this was done we could then roll them out into super thin sausages before cutting off tiny amounts, which were then placed all over the base colour, creating the terrazzo effect when it was rolled out. 

For my last bauble I just rolled all the colours I had together to make a super colourful marbled one! It was so much fun to see everyone else’s creations, everyone had such different colour combinations and styles. I was really glad that I attended the workshop and didn’t just try it out by myself at home, because Jane was able to tell us the exact temperature and timings for baking our baubles in the oven. If you don’t get this right then you risk the polystyrene balls melting inside! I also wouldn’t have known to allow them to cool down in the oven and would have just taken them straight out!

I think community is so important to the crafting world and it’s always so great to craft along with others. I can’t wait to get back to it in real life, but in the meantime I have another Tea and Crafting workshop coming up this week and I absolutely can’t wait! 

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Sugar Plum Fairy MakeBox

This weekend I’ve been making the Sugar Plum Fairy for the top of my Christmas tree from the December MakeBox (https://www.makebox.co/). I was really looking forward to this box as I’m quite a big fan of festive things. The fairy is a lovely product, although I did have a few tricky moments whilst making it along the way!

Included in the box was:

  • Pink linen
  • White canvas fabric
  • Tulle
  • Silver glitter felt sheet
  • Embroidery threads
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Stuffing
  • Ball of yarn
  • Fabric glue
  • Dowel rod
  • Pins
  • Needle
  • Pattern
  • Fairy card

My first problem came right at the beginning of my make! I drew out the pattern pieces on my fabric, without realising that I needed to leave a larger space around each section until a few steps later when it came to cutting out the pieces and the instructions said to allow a 1cm seam allowance around each bit. As I’d already embroidered the face by that point I couldn’t move that, but luckily there was enough fabric for me to redraw the other pattern pieces, so it wasn’t the end of the world!

I decided to draw my own face to embroider to make it more personal. I used the back of the pattern piece to draw my design so that I could ensure that the features were in the right place. The main thing I changed was the mouth to make it more smiley. The original design was a bit too pouty for me! There was also the option to embroider painted nails onto the fairy’s hands but I left them off; I didn’t feel like my fairy was the sort to paint her nails!

The next step was to create the bodice of the dress using a piece of the pink linen. The paper pattern for this part, the shoulders and the star were missing out of my kit, but Hannah, the lovely owner of MakeBox had emailed earlier in the month to say that some naughty elves had left some of the pattern pieces out when packing so she had emailed a printable version out to all the subscribers. The bodice was created with two layers of the linen stitched together and then turned inside out to create a neat neckline. This was then stitched to the body.

Once this was done it was then finally time to cut out the pattern pieces! I cut them out (with the 1cm seam allowance) and then stitched round each one using a running stitch and leaving the ends open. Then I had to turn them all right side out. That was when I felt like the fairy was really starting to come together. After stuffing each of the pieces I then sewed them together to create the doll. 

Then it was time to dress her. I created a skirt out of the rest of the pink linen, lined with two layers of tulle. The piece of tulle provided in the kit was slightly too short, which was a bit annoying, but I adjusted the length of the linen and it didn’t matter too much in the end as the skirt is made up of a lot of material in order to create the pleats. Once I had gathered the pleats around the waist of the fairy and sewed it in place I then used the glitter felt to make a belt to hide the seam. I also used the glitter felt to make the shoulders of her dress. Both of these were supposed to be stuck on with fabric glue, but unfortunately I could not get it to stick, even though I held it in place for ages. In the end I stitched them on, which I think will probably be more secure overall, especially as I’d like to keep her and use her in years to come each Christmas. 

Next came the bit I was looking forward to the most: the hair! I had to measure out twenty lengths of yarn and sew it onto the back of the head. Then I took each section round to the front and sewed that in place too. Lastly I created the bun. I played around a bit for the best way to style it and eventually used a thin hair band to get it to stay in place, which I hid with another length of yarn. The hair is definitely my favourite part of the fairy, although I wouldn’t say no to having a dress like her’s either! 

Lastly, the finishing touches. Sewing the sparkly wings to her back and making the wand. The star was again supposed to be glued to the stick, but it just wouldn’t hold for me so I whip stitched round the edge instead. I don’t think it looks too bad, especially once she’s on the tree.

Although I had a couple of little hiccups along the way it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be solved and overall this was such an enjoyable project to make a beautiful keepsake which can be used for years to come and even passed down to future generations.

I ran out of energy to embroider my fairy card, but I will definitely do it before Christmas. There was also a naming certificate for your fairy inside the box and in case you were wondering, I called my fairy Beatrix.