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.

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Makerly – Chain Maille Jewellery

I’ve been making some chain maille jewellery, courtesy of last month’s Makerly kit. I’ve tried my hand before at chain maille jewellery and I have to admit that it’s not my favourite form of jewellery making, however I do have to give my respect to those that do it regularly as it is a very fiddly technique!

Included in the kit was:

  • Silver jump rings (various sizes)
  • Blue and green jump rings
  • Pliers
  • Lobster claw clasps
  • Earring wires
  • Blue and green seed beads
  • Charms
  • Jump ring tool

I was very taken with the jump ring tool. I have been making jewellery for a very long time and have been on many courses including my diploma and have never seen this kind of tool before! I usually use two pairs of pliers to open and close my jump rings, but this can result in pulling them out of shape. The tool included in the kit was a ring worn on the index finger of your non-dominant hand and used in conjunction with the pliers to open and close the jump rings in the correct way. I will definitely be making use of it in my future jewellery projects.

There are lots of practical uses for chain maille, the most obvious being for armour, but nowadays it is used for making things such as cut resistant gloves for butchers and even shark resistant wet suits for divers. The instruction book had a short section about the history of chain maille before introducing three decorative ways to connect the jump rings together. The first, and easiest, was the shaggy loops chain using the decorative green rings hanging off a central silver chain to create a pair of earrings.

The second was the orbital vipera berus, which involved creating a chain using the blue rings and looping the larger silver rings through them. I definitely think I made some mistakes with this one as when I was finished it didn’t sit nicely, but I couldn’t face taking it all apart again to fix them! I also made a basic chain with the smallest rings to create a necklace using a lobster claw clasp.

Lastly was the stepping stones chain. Although this was the hardest it was my favourite once I got into a rhythm with making it and was my favourite design once it was complete. However, it did take me a long time and was very fiddly as you had to link a lot of rings together and it required lots of concentration. I made this chain long enough to create a bracelet and used a lobster claw clasp to complete it.

The kit also included seed beads and charms to add to the designs, but I preferred them plain and I didn’t have enough enthusiasm for the craft to create more pieces with extra bits added. I’m sure I will find another project to use them in! Although it’s not a craft I will be taking up any time soon I always enjoy having a go at something a bit different and I can see myself wearing the bracelet.

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Craft Box Club – Bargello Tea Lights

I’m still playing catch up with all my subscription boxes, but I feel like I’m getting there at last! I’ve just finished the latest from Craft Box Club; another eco-friendly project creating Bargello tea light holders. 

Included in the box was:

  • Glass jars x3
  • Jute ribbons x3
  • Soy tea lights x3
  • Blue yarn
  • Green yarn
  • Yellow yarn
  • Needle
  • Needle threader

I really like the use of the jute ribbon as the canvas. It’s loose weave is perfect for doing the long stitches of Bargello to create a uniform pattern. At the link for the video guide there was also a step-by-step picture process included with written instructions, plus the stitch pattern for the triangle shapes. The video was well paced and showed how to do both the stitches used clearly. I liked that it showed how to use the needle threader at the beginning as well. For this project I did prefer the photos to follow rather than the video.

The only deviation I made from the instructions was sewing the ends of the jute ribbon together. In the video the ends were sewn together around the jar to ensure the correct fit, but I found this a bit tricky so instead I measured the ribbon around the jar and folded it to mark where I needed to place my stitches.

This was such a great project to have on the go if you don’t have the time to dedicate to a sit-down-for-hours project. Although it looks like quite a simple craft it does take longer than you think it will. I completed mine in several sessions over the course of a week. I just left it on the table and picked it up whenever I had a spare half hour, which I think was a good way to do it as the Bargello stitch can be a bit repetitive. The end result is another lovely eco-friendly piece of home décor! 

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Craftiosity – Marbled Candle Holder

I haven’t done any marbling for a little while so I was quite excited about the Craftiosity marbled candle holder kit! I thought it was a really clever idea to add a unique design to a something that would make a great centrepiece for a table or mantelpiece.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden candle holder
  • White acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Marbling tray
  • Marbling inks x2 (black and blue)
  • Disposable gloves

The first step was to paint the candle holder with the white acrylic paint to act as a base for the ink and also to be the third colour of the marbling pattern. The actual making time for this project is actually quite quick but there is quite a bit of drying time involved too. The instructions said that the paint would be dry after 30 minutes, but I actually left mine overnight because I had other jobs to get on with, which made it quite a good project to fit in between other things. I was also painting another project at the same time (see my next blog post!) so it was quite good to have this to alternate with!

Once the paint was dry it was time to get marbling. Using the marbling tray filled two thirds with water you could create your design using drops of the inks. I actually added some extra drops after I swirled my inks with the end of the paint brush but I think I used too much in the end because my finished candle holder took a very long time to dry. Restraint is definitely key here and I think it would still have made a nice pattern, I was just a bit over enthusiastic!

After dunking both sides into the marble pattern on the surface of the water and making sure that all the sides of the candle holder were covered and that it didn’t touch the bottom of the tray, all that was left to do was to let it dry. As I mentioned, mine took a little while to dry completely, but now it is done it looks great. I love with marbling that you never quite get the same design twice so every piece is completely unique. 

I also liked the suggestion of using the inks to marble some paper as well and experimenting with different patterns. It’s always nice to have ideas of what to do with the leftover supplies from craft kits. Now I just need to buy some candles to go in my nice new holder! 

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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.

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Craft Box Club – Macrame Semilunar

Quite a quick craft this week from Craft Box Club – a macrame semilunar with a bonus keyring project. I’m really glad I’ve done some macrame recently, especially learning the double half hitch which made up the main body of this project!

Included in the box was:

  • Macrame twine – white
  • Macrame twine – forest green
  • Wooden dowel
  • Macrame comb
  • Keyring clip

The instructions say you will also need scissors but you will need a length of string as well to hang the dowel from. The instruction video for this one is great. All the knots are shown slowly and repeated so that you can see them clearly. I paused and rewound the video several times to make sure I was doing it correctly. I think for this project the video was definitely better than the pictures, although the pictures were still useful. With macrame I much prefer to see the knot being created, rather than just a picture or description. It helps me to understand the structure of the knot a lot better.

Both the projects were really quick to complete. The semilunar was much smaller than I thought it was going to be from the pictures I had seen prior to receiving the kit, but I think that was a good thing because it wasn’t too repetitive and I quite enjoyed making something fairly small for a change! 

I thought the addition of the keyring was great too. It was a good chance to use a couple more different knots; a square knot and a gathering knot. There was a separate instructional video for this project and again was clear and slow enough that you could craft along with it.

Although it’s nice to get involved in a longer project I do enjoy completing something a little quicker every now and then. It gives a nice sense of achievement and satisfaction for only a couple of hours of work.

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!

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Craftiosity – Embroidered Moon Tea Towel

Back to embroidery for me this week with the moon tea towel from Craftiosity. I really like the idea behind the design of this embroidery of the waxing moon representing a period of building energy and achieving goals. Nice to have a reminder of this in the kitchen whilst I’m doing the washing up!

Included in the kit was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Cotton tea towel
  • Embroidery thread x4 (dark grey, mid blue, light blue, dusky pink)
  • Needle
  • Paper template
  • Inspirational postcards

The template was used to trace the design lightly onto the tea towel using a pencil and a dotted line rather than a solid line for the clouds as they wouldn’t be filled in completely. The instructions said to only trace the clouds first and then put the outline of the moon and foliage in later, but I doubted my ability to line up the pattern again so I just traced it all at once!

I really liked the use of the different stitches and coloured thread to fill the clouds. It was quite repetitive doing the seed stitch, cross stitch and French knots, but in a mindful and meditative way. I tied off the thread after doing each little grey star as I didn’t want to waste the thread and I didn’t want the stitches on the back to show through to the front. 

The moon was stitched in satin stitch using all six strands of the thread and the leaves were meant to be the same, but I felt as though I didn’t have enough left to complete them so I changed to only using three strands for the leaves. As the area of the leaves was a lot smaller than the moon it didn’t really make a difference to the overall look. 

I’m looking forward to using this and having it hanging in my kitchen, inspiring me to grow and work towards me goals!

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Makerly – Soap and Sugar Scrub

I always think that soap making will be complicated even though I’ve done it before, but it’s actually so easy as this month’s Makerly box has proved to me once again! The kit was to make mini soaps and sugar scrubs flavoured with lavender and Chai tea.

Included in the kit was:

  • Melt and pour soap base
  • Coconut oil
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Lavender
  • Chai teabags
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Plastic moulds
  • Gift tags
  • String

I made the soap first, melting it in the microwave in short bursts until it was completely runny. I actually had to reheat it because I had trouble taking the lid off the essential oil and it started to congeal! The instructions did say to work fast and I should have prepped everything in advance, but it did take me by surprise just how quickly it started to set. I used the lavender oil and flowers for the first batch of soap and the Chai tea for the second batch. I was expecting it to fill all the moulds as shown in the picture, but mine mixture didn’t quite stretch that far.

Conversely there was so much sugar scrub mixture that I had to set it in several batches! I made up the mixture whilst the soap was setting in the fridge, which only took about 15 minutes. I melted the coconut oil in the microwave and mixed it with both sugars along with the lavender for the first batch and the tea for the second batch. This took me longer than I expected. There was so much of each mixture that in total I filled, set, and emptied the moulds three times!

The soap base and coconut oil came in tins which could then be repurposed as gift boxes for the bath time treats, using the gift tags and string to label them. The sugar scrubs definitely need to be stored in a cool place as the coconut oil does have a tendency to melt if it gets too warm. I left some of them in front of a window whilst I was waiting for the others to set and the sun coming through caused them to start to losing their shape and disintegrate a bit, so take care with your sugar scrub storage!

Although I am more drawn towards textile and embroidery based crafts it is always fun to do something a little different for a change. One thing I’ve found about the Makerly craft subscription is that the projects nearly always push me to try something new that is out of my crafting comfort zone, so whilst producing soap and sugar scrubs may not become something I will make a regular habit of I enjoyed my morning dabbling in toiletries!

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MakeBox – Beatrix Bunny Doll

I’ve been really looking forward to this month’s MakeBox (https://www.makebox.co/), the Beatrix Bunny Doll, not only because I love sewing but also because it has an Easter feel to it and I love this time of year! I love all the egg, chick and bunny themed craft projects, along with that feeling of Spring in the air and the sense of hope and positivity it brings, especially this year. I was particularly interested in this box because, whilst I love sewing, it is always nice to have a go at a different kind of sewing aside from embroidery for a change. I did make the Sugar Plum Fairy heirloom style doll from MakeBox a couple of Christmases ago (see my blog on it here) and this was very similar in style.

Included in the box was:

  • Cream poly cotton
  • Vintage floral linen
  • Pink linen
  • Embroidery threads (black and pink)
  • Sewing thread
  • Stuffing
  • Elastic
  • Needles
  • Pins

Before receiving the kit, MakeBox emailed the subscribers with a choice of box, Beatrix Bunny (which I chose) or Bobby Bunny. Each came with a different vintage fabric to make the ears and outfit. The shirt style was different for each of them as well. Since sending out the subscription boxes MakeBox have also introduced Betsy Bunny who is available to buy in their online shop. I actually think I might have chosen Betsy if she had been included in the original choice! 

The first step was to cut out all the pattern pieces from paper and draw them onto the fabric. For some of the pieces it was important to remember to flip them over to make an opposite; to create a left and a right ear for example. The vintage fabric was also quite limited to so you had to lay out the pattern pieces carefully, ensuring that you still had a good seam allowance around each piece.

The sewing began with the head, which was definitely the most complicated part. The instructions said you could either hand sew or machine sew. I thought machine sewing would be quicker but sheer laziness stopped me from getting my sewing machine out (!) so I decided to hand sew it and actually, I’m glad I did. Machine sewing would have been a lot faster for parts of it, but there were some parts that were at such an awkward angle and had so many pins in to keep it in place that I definitely would have struggled with the machine. 

Making the head felt a lot like piecing a jigsaw puzzle together, but after constructing it all and adding the eyes and nose with the embroidery thread I felt really proud of myself!

Moving on to the body was a lot more straightforward. The arms and legs were easy to sew around, although they took me a little while to turn out. I used a pencil to help push the stuffing down to make sure they were well filled. Attaching the arms and legs to the body was a little tricky but only because the limbs made it bulky to sew. The instructions were a little vague in places, like saying to pin the body into place but not actually saying to sew it, however the step-by-step photographs were pretty clear to follow. Once the bottom floral piece had been sewn on the bunny could then be stuffed. I used rice to stuff the bottom so that she sits up nicely. The instructions also suggest lentils could be used as an alternative. The rest of the body was stuffed with toy stuffing like the limbs and head.

Sewing the body to the head was by far the most difficult part. You had to do a whip stitch with the seam allowance tucked inside, add to this the difficult angle and my neckline ended up looking a bit messy. I actually unpicked my first attempt and started again as it was so bad! My second attempt was a little better but still not my finest sewing!

Lastly it was time to make the clothes. This was the part I was most looking forward to. The bloomers were cut out of the pink linen, hemmed and sewn together before sewing elastic into the waistband and legs. The pinafore top was slightly more complicated and I’m glad I measured it around the body before sewing up the seam allowances because it was a very tight fit so I adjusted it to have less seam allowance, but still have a tidy finish. The flounces were fun to do, although my thumb was glad when they were done after pushing the needle through so many layers of material! I decided to alter the way the straps were attached to the top. In the instructions they are attached to the top of the blouse and just tied around the neck, but I thought this looked a bit messy, so I attached them to the side of the neckline and then sewed them in place to the back of the blouse like proper straps. It means my messy head attachment is more visible, but I think it gives it a more finished look overall.

I’m very proud of my finished Beatrix Bunny. She was quite a labour intensive project and took me a long time to complete, but the end result is a lovely toy. Now I just have to decide whether to keep her or give her away!