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Spring 2022 Craftpod

The long awaited Spring Craftpod is here! Even though the subscription is quarterly with one box per season, the wait between the Winter and Spring boxes always seems the longest, although that may just have something to do with the weather! As usual there were two lovely seasonal projects to complete; the Sweet Violet glasses case, and the Little Lamb soft sculpture.

Included in the kit was:

• Embroidery thread x6 (dark green, light green, dark purple, light purple, black, white)
• Black linen
• Interfacing
• Calico
• Wadding
• Transfer paper
• White felt
• Pink felt
• White wool fleece
• Pipe cleaners x2
• Black elastic
• Wooden button
• Needle
• Pins
• Paper template
• Herb garden notebook and postcard
• Teabag

Although the Little Lamb soft sculpture looked difficult as it was so small I would say that the glasses case project was the more complex of the two as you had to ensure all the layers were in the right order when sewing them together. There were two design options that you could choose from to embroider onto the case, but as I like to give everything a go I decided to do both designs, one on each side of the case. The instructions included in the box were for the sweet violet design, which was probably the more complicated of the two. The instructions for the herb garden design were available on the Craftpod blog which was easy to find via the website. The designs were transferred from the paper template to the black linen fabric using the white transfer paper which worked well, but you did have to be careful not to handle it too much otherwise it would fade and eventually rub off.

The Little Lamb sculpture was quite fiddly as the pieces were so small, requiring delicate stitching. The actual piecing together of the body parts was straightforward though, especially if you took your time at the cutting stage. I found this quite a quick project to complete and I liked the use of the pipe cleaners to fill the legs and give structure and support to the sculpture to enable it to stand freely.

I’m definitely in the mood for Spring now I’ve completed these projects and I’m even ready to head into Summer with my new sunglasses case!

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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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Craftpod – Autumn 2021

The autumn Craftpod has arrived containing two projects, both giving out very seasonal vibes! The larger project is usually my favourite in this subscription box, but this quarter the smaller mini hoops project definitely won top spot for me. The designs were just so cute and fun to sew.

Included in the box was: 

  • Printed fabric
  • Plain fabric
  • Embroidery threads x5 (dark brown, light brown, red, yellow, white)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Superglue
  • Mini embroidery hoop frames kit
  • Rose hip enamel pin
  • Teabag

Although the mini autumn embroideries seem like the secondary project in the box I decided to do them first as you needed the large embroidery hoop for sewing the designs and I knew I wouldn’t want to take the larger project back out of the hoop once it was finished. The mini embroideries were my favourite part of this box. They weren’t so small that they were fiddly and they were quick to complete. The designs are simple but very effective. I also love the tiny embroidery hoops, I just need to decide what to turn them into. The instructions have lots of suggestions such as tree decorations, adding to chain to turn them into necklaces, adding brooch backs, or just displaying them on the wall. I like the idea of displaying them as tiny artwork, but I also quite like the idea of turning them into keyrings.

The larger project was embellishing the pre-printed design with a range of stitches. Whilst I liked the design and especially enjoyed creating the trunks of the silver birch trees, I felt that it was quite a simplistic project. I have come to think of Craftpod as a subscription box for embroidery lovers who are more advanced than beginner level, but this felt quite basic compared to other projects I have completed from their boxes. When I first saw a picture of the design I thought that the layers were going to be built up with appliqué, which would have added an extra dimension to the project and I was slightly disappointed when I realised that the design was already printed onto the fabric.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the box overall and both the projects were great for doing in front of the TV in the evenings. I think I am slightly addicted to the mini embroidery hoops and might just have to do some designs of my own! I find autumn to be a particularly inspirational time of year so now is the perfect time.

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Craftpod – Wild Rose and Strawberry Embroidery

I’ve been enjoying the summer Craftpod this week with two lovely projects to complete; the wild rose and strawberry embroidery, and the Liberty fabric bookmark.

Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Printed fabric
  • Liberty fabric
  • Interfacing
  • Embroidery thread x7 
  • Card bookmark template
  • Notebook
  • Postcard
  • Teabag

One of my favourite things about Craftpod is that the projects always seem to have a very tranquil vibe and the wild rose and strawberry embroidery definitely made me think of lying in a sunny meadow, picking and eating wild strawberries straight from the bushes…or maybe that’s just wishful thinking as we’ve been having such dreadful weather so far this summer! Either way, this was a really relaxing embroidery to complete, especially the larger wild roses as you could really get into a rhythm with the stitches. The majority of the piece was completed in statin stitch, but I liked the use of the French knots for the centres of the flowers to give a different texture and the long and short stitch for the strawberries gave them a nice raised effect.

Whilst the embroidery was a slow, mindful project, I found the Liberty fabric bookmark a nice quick make to fit into a Sunday afternoon. I think the whole project only took me about an hour to an hour and a half to finish. The interfacing was ironed on to the back of the fabric and then the shapes for the bookmark cut out using the card template. The two sides were sewn together with blanket stitch and then a hole was cut and blanket stitched ready for the tassel.

I found the instructions for making the tassel really clear, although I wish I’d used a slightly longer piece of thread for tying up the top of the tassel than the instructions recommended. I also found that the suggested metre of thread didn’t give enough body to my tassel so I added a second metre, but to be honest I could have used more. Now I need to give my Kindle a rest and find a real book to read so I can use my new bookmark!

I was actually a bit sad when all the projects in this box were over because I was enjoying them so much. Autumn feels a long way off still before the next Craftpod arrives, but I definitely don’t want to wish the summer away and I hope we get some sunshine to enjoy before that!

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Craftpod – Summer Meadow Embroidery

A bit of a summer throw back, especially as I know the Autumn Craftpod will shortly be on its way, but I really enjoyed doing this summer meadow embroidery kit. I think the Craftpod kits (https://www.craftpod.co.uk/) might be my favourites because, although they are always embroidery based, I always feel as though I’m doing something new or different. I also like that they are quarterly rather than monthly. Whilst I love getting monthly treats in the post it can get a little overwhelming trying to keep up with all the projects!

Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Square calico x1
  • Rectangular calico x2
  • Rectangular green fabric x2
  • Zip
  • Embroidery threads
  • Pins
  • Needle
  • Cotton thread
  • Paper template
  • Cardboard bobbins
  • Inspirational postcard
  • Bird needle threader
  • Chamomile teabag

There were two projects included in this box; a summer meadow embroidery hoop and an embroidery zip pouch. I started with the hoop which was made up of a floral arrangement inspired by a summer walk in the countryside. Included in the design were chamomile flowers, wild carrots, cornflowers, ferns and lavender. The Craftpod embroidery projects always push me to improve my skills, especially as they are often worked with one strand of embroidery thread. In this project I learned three new stitches. I had done chain stitch before, but this one was done with a method I hadn’t tried so it was great to give that a go. The other two, whipped stitch and bullion stitch, I had never tried before. The whipped stitch was really easy, but it gave the stems more of the 3D effect than plain back or split stitch. The bullion stitch was also quite 3D, but a little more complicated and prone to tangling. I had a few goes on a spare bit of fabric before committing to it on the real thing, but despite a couple of wobbles I think the overall effect is brilliant. I’d love to learn more 3D embroidery techniques as it really brings a piece to life.

The second project was the one I was really interested in! I haven’t put a zip in anything since I was at school so I was really looking forward to re-learning how to do that. I think I sewed a little close to the zip as a bit of the fabric keeps getting caught when I do it up, but it’s a good lesson for next time. You could choose to have the calico or the green on the outside of the pouch and I chose the green as I liked it better, but it meant you couldn’t trace the design onto the fabric before embroidering, so it had to be free hand. This was good as you could do something a little different to the original design, but I think I could have used an outline for my flowers as I felt they came out a bit small! As I’ve mentioned before I like to make useful items so this pouch really appealed to me. It can be used for anything from make-up to pencils or even used as a small clutch bag.

I’m really looking forward to the Autumn Craftpod arriving, especially from the sneak peeks that have been appearing on their Instagram, so I can’t wait for it to drop through my front door!

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Artful – Spring 2020

I recently subscribed to another crafty box (I know, I know, it’s a problem!) called Artful (https://artful.co.uk/). This is a quarterly box focusing on art materials and encouraging people to experiment and play with them to expand their skill set or just to get more creative. I unwittingly signed up for the first ever box without realising that they were such a new company. I saw an advert on Facebook, who obviously have me all figured out because I was very interested and decided to check out their website. Each box will be created in collaboration with an artist who will have an input into the materials that are included and offer projects to get you started. You can either sign up for the quarterly subscription at £35 a month or the annual subscription at £120 a year. The only difference is that you save £5 per box with the annual option.

Included in the box is:

  • A5 sketchbook
  • Posca pens x4 (green, turquoise, pink, orange)
  • 3H pencil
  • Tombow dual brush pen x2 (grey, black)
  • Tombow hard brush pen
  • Tombow Mono twin marker
  • Eraser
  • Artful magazine

As part of the subscription you also get three free months of premier membership with Skillshare (usually £13 a month or £84 a year). This is good because the first project is a video based tutorial which you can find on Skillshare at the link provided in the magazine. Just something to note; when signing up you have to input your card details and you will be billed in three months time unless you remember to cancel your subscription. I’m happy to sign up because I was planning on having a look at Skillshare (https://www.skillshare.com/) anyway so I will just let mine continue, although I will probably forget and be confused why £84 has been taken out of my account at the end of July!

The magazine is full of inspiration. It starts by outlining the materials included and an interview with the featured artist. This issue it is author and illustrator Mike Lowery. The interview covers his career and inspirations and then continues focusing on the first project. After this there are two more projects to complete using the materials in the box. The rest of the magazine is dedicated features on a wide range of various artists from ceramicists to chefs and everything in between. 

Before starting any of the projects I decided to have a go with each of the materials in my new sketchbook so I could see how they felt to draw with. I started off by writing the name of each pen and then drawing some lines so I could get a feel for how each one flowed. On the following page I tested out the Posca pens, drawing lines and a square of each colour. I was surprised by how fluid they were and I accidentally lifted the page too soon causing two of the colours to run together because they hadn’t dried completely. On the next page I decided to try mixing the materials together. I started by drawing some basic shapes with the Posca pens and then used a variety of the finer pens to draw details over the top. Each one had a different effect over the top of the colour, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t.

Project one was map making. The video of Mike Lowery featured on Skillshare shows how to create an illustrated map. It’s actually broken down into eight short videos taking you on a step by step guide for how to create your map from researching your chosen location, sketching and colouring your map and finally to adding the details with the Tombow brush pen. I really liked that the video was broken down into short tutorials. It meant that you could watch one and then complete the step before moving on to the next one without having to pause or rewind if you missed something. The longest video is just under seven minutes, so it’s the perfect project to complete in stages if you are a bit short on time. I chose to draw a map of the first time my husband and I went on a cruise. It was a cruise around the Mediterranean/Aegean, although I have called it our Mediterranean Adventure! We had such an amazing time and really enjoyed being able to see the highlights of each place we visited and now we have been once we know there are a few places we would like to return to and explore more thoroughly. Mike suggests that you don’t have to do a map of somewhere you have already been, you could gather information about a place you have been dreaming of visiting and create your own sightseeing wish list in the form of a map. I really like this idea and might have to give it a go next time we are planning a trip…soon I hope! I like the stylised feel of the map because it takes away the pressure of it having to be perfect. The only thing I added to mine was the blue roofs of the Santorini buildings. I used a sharpie for the colour as it just didn’t seem right to have them any other colour. 

Project two and three were both focused on the Posca pens, which lets face it, are the most fun things in the box! Project two was decorating terracotta flower pots. Although they suggest in the magazine that you can pick these up cheaply I didn’t want to go out to get some and I also didn’t want to buy them online as I thought they would take forever to come at the moment, so I phoned my parents and got them to rummage around in their shed to see if they could find any! They did have a few knocking around so they said I could have them and very kindly dropped them off on my doorstep. Don’t worry, we observed all the social distancing rules! The terracotta pots were very easy to draw on and the colours looked so vibrant. Some of the lighter colours needed a couple of coats to get a nice even covering.

Project three was drawing on glass. In the magazine they had mason jars and they got three creatives to make their own designs for inspiration. I didn’t have any mason jars but I did have some old Nutella jars which I was saving because I’m a hoarder and in the words of my wise dad “You never know when you might need it!”. Anyway, I decided to decorate them and now they are done I think they would make great tea light holders. I actually copied one of the the designs from the magazine, the stylised rainbows, because I really like it and I’ve seen loads of things done in this style recently so I wanted to have a go at it myself. 

I had a lot of fun with this box. It was something really different to my usual crafting and gave me the opportunity to try out some new things, some of which I’ve been looking at for a while but was too scared to invest the money in them in case I was rubbish at using them! I’m really intrigued to see what the next box holds. Artful also features a daily drawing challenge on their Instagram (@artfulbox) if you are looking for some prompts to practice your drawing.