subscription box

Fundi Box – No Sew Tote Bag

I’ve just signed up to a new subscription box (surprise, surprise!) called Fundi Box (https://www.fundibox.co.uk/). It’s all about celebrating and support African crafts and small businesses. Each box will contain a craft for you to make inspired by Africa, plus a special gift from an artisan.

Included in the box was:

  • Canvas fabric x2
  • African fabric x2
  • Leather straps x2
  • Chicago screws
  • Fabric glue
  • Wooden lollipop stick
  • Artisan gift

The artisan gift included in this first month’s box was a beautiful fabric covered notebook made by Neema Crafts (https://www.neemacrafts.com/), a not-for-profit organisation helping to train and employ people with disabilities in Tanzania. I thought it was a nice touch that the name of the person who made it was written on the label. It makes it really personal and brings you closer to the artisan. My notebook was made by Eliza. 

The project was to make a no sew tote bag. I love this idea as not everyone has a sewing machine at home and it’s such a simple process to create something both beautiful and practical. The African fabric was used to give the bag a pop of colour and pattern. Prior to receiving the kit Comfort, the lady who set up Fundi Box, emailed to ask which pattern I would like for my bag. It was great being given the choice!

The instructions were easy to follow and the bag was finished so quickly. The instructions to iron the edge of the canvas and to make holes for the handles weren’t really needed as the canvas came with the fold and the holes already in place. My only other issue with the kit was that I ran out of glue half way through! I didn’t feel like I was putting loads on and tried to copy the amounts shown in the pictures, but I guess I used more than I thought as I didn’t have enough to finish. I have some fabric glue in my craft cupboard so I used that to finish my bag, but I would have been a bit disappointed if I hadn’t had any in stock!

The straps were super easy to attach too. You needed a screwdriver to tighten them up, but I honestly think that if you didn’t have one you probably could have tightened them with just your fingers. 

The end result is great and I can’t wait to take it out shopping! I think Fundi Box is a great idea. There are so many crafts and artisans out there who don’t get enough recognition and this subscription box brings them to people’s attention. It’s a fantastic way to support not just small businesses, but black-owned businesses in particular. I am very much looking forward to the next box!

craft kit

Floral Modern Embroidery

Last year when I went to Creatival in Manchester I met the lovely Kirsty of Kirsty Freeman Design (https://kirstyfreemandesign.co.uk/), who makes and sells embroidered art, home décor and accessories, and embroidery kits. The subject of her work mainly focuses around animals and nature. When lockdown started this year I knew it would be a difficult time for small businesses so, knowing that workshops and art exhibitions would be out for a while, I went trawling the internet for craft kits so that I could keep blogging about the things I love and support small businesses at the same time! I remembered seeing on Kirsty’s Instagram that she had some kits for sale so I checked out her website and ordered myself the ‘Dark Grey Floral’ kit. It cost £20 including shipping to the UK.

Included in the box was:

  • Grey linen with pre-stitched outline
  • Embroidery needle
  • Beading needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Seed beads
  • Variety of thread and yarn

Also included were the instructions which were in three parts; the written instructions telling you what to do in each section, the step-by-step for each stitch and finally there was instructions on how to finish your hoop when you had completed the embroidery. There was also a numbered diagram showing the sections and large colour photograph of the completed piece for reference. Overall I thought that the whole pack was very comprehensive and thorough.

The written instructions were laid out in a table showing the stitch type, thread type and bead type for each numbered section. It reminded me of a paint by numbers, just with thread instead of paint! In fact, the whole project actually reminded me of an art class I did when I was at school where we had to fill in an outline with different pencil marks. The stitches in this project weren’t just the usual satin stitch, back stitch etc that you find in the majority of kits, but patterns and textures that Kirsty had put together to create a modern and visually interesting piece of embroidery. I like to think that I am quite good at embroidery and have done a fair amount of it over the years, but this project really pushed me to have a go at a different style and think about the arrangement of stitches. Some of the stitches I actually found quite challenging because they required a certain amount of spatial awareness, which isn’t something I excel at!

Kirsty suggests working through the piece methodically and one of the ways she recommends is by thread. I found this was the best way for me as it meant I could keep my needles threaded until I’d finished all the sections in that colour. As the sections are listed numerically and not by thread type I did start to get a bit confused, but I found crossing off each section as I went along, both on the instructions and on the diagram, to be really helpful.  

I particularly liked the diagrams of each different stitch. I thought they showed how to do the stitches very well with clear pictures showing where the needle would come out and go back in to the fabric. I haven’t done much beading before so I quite enjoyed having a go of that, the only thing I would say though is that the beading needle does have a very small eye. You are only using the thinnest thread with it and it didn’t give me any trouble, but if you struggle with threading needles generally then using a needle threader might be a good idea with this one.

This is quite small work and requires quite a bit of focus. I did a lot of mine in one sitting, but I think it would have been better to do it over a longer period of time with more breaks for my eyes and my back. As it is split into sections it would be a good project to come back to whenever you have a spare half an hour or so, especially as each section is quite small and can be completed fairly quickly.

The finishing instructions showed how to gather the fabric behind the hoop, but there were other suggestions for what to do with it, including presenting it in a square frame or turning it into a cushion. I have gathered my fabric behind for now, but I haven’t cut the excess off as I like the idea of turning it into a cushion at some point in the future when I get some fabric for the back.

Whenever I do embroidery I’m reminded just how much I enjoy it. I have another couple of embroidery kits waiting for me so I think I might have to get started on them now as well! Watch this space…

Uncategorized

Creatival Manchester

On Thursday last week I travelled all the way up to Manchester for Creatival (https://www.thecreativebusinessnetwork.com/creativalmanchester2019.html), a one day conference for creative people. It was a long day but I had a great time! Creatival started life in Exeter but launched it’s second venue in Manchester this year and was run by a collaboration between the original founder, Helen, and Megan, the founder of Curated Makers, which champions northern makers and artists (https://www.curatedmakers.co.uk/).

The conference took place in the stunning Manchester Hall. It was all on one floor and it worked really well with the room layout for each of the different sessions. As well as the plenary and workshop rooms there was also a hub for networking including a few exhibitor stands including Mollie Makes (http://www.molliemakes.com/) and Folksy (https://folksy.com/). This was also where the lunch and coffee was served during the breaks.

There was a pretty packed schedule starting at 9:00am and running until 5:45pm after which the bar opened, including one free drink! The stand out speaker of the day for me was Leona Thrift-ola (check her out on Instagram @indie_roller). She’s something of a rock star in creative industry circles, having run several businesses herself and since taken the step into supporting other independent business owners, giving guidance, advice and mentoring. She mainly talked about her new book which is coming out soon and discussed the main ideas behind it. I came away from her talk feeling like I’d really gained some valuable insight into the ins and outs of running a business, and like she was really rooting for me, even though we’ve never met! Other great speakers included Ingrid Fernandez from Dec and Dash Legal Consulting and Athena Cauley-Yu from Meticulous Ink. My only disappointments were that the workshop sessions were too short, I felt like there was still more to discuss when it ended and also that I couldn’t attend all of them. There were three workshop options but because of the way the itinerary was structured it meant that you could only choose two.

Q&A panel at the end of the day. (L-R: Lucy – Lucy & Yak; Yvette Streeter – Editor, Mollie Makes; Leona Thrift-ola; Athena Cayley-Yu – Meticulous Ink)

The chance to network was so great as well. There was plenty of opportunities to mingle throughout the day and I managed to speak to several people from whom I received some great advice and encouragement. It was wonderful to be amongst so many like-minded creative people and to feel that we were all there working towards the same goal, no matter what stage we were at in our journey.

The other perk of the day was the amazing swag bag we each received! It was packed full of goodies from brooches, socks and soap to notepads, magazines and discount codes. And one can never have too many tote bags!