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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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MakeBox – Bee Bold

A nice familiar craft to start the year from MakeBox (https://www.makebox.co/). This Bee Bold embroidery kit featured their signature bee emblem and a second hoop with a botanical rainbow, which feels like a hopeful and positive way to kick off January.

Included in the box was:

  • 7 inch embroidery hoop
  • 6 inch embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread x5 (pink, black, yellow, green, blue)
  • Linen
  • Felt
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Carbon paper
  • Paper pattern
  • Bee Bold postcard

After cutting the linen in half to fit both the hoops, the paper patterns were transferred onto the fabric using carbon paper. I started with the smaller design of the bee, mainly because that’s what was first in the instruction book! I liked the ‘sketching’ style of the black back stitch around the wings and legs, leaving the focus for the floral design inside the shape of the body. The 3D effect roses were a big part of both designs too giving a nice textural feeling along with the use of French knots.

I particularly liked the use of chain stitch to create the rainbow. I thought it was a really clever way to fill in the stripes using a fairly under used stitch, without resorting to satin stitch which, whilst I love it, can become a bit arduous over large areas. Again, by placing each row of chain stitch so closely together it gives the piece a nice textural quality. 

The hoops were backed with felt stitched on around the edge of the linen which had been tucked in the back. Although I think it is nice to cover the back of a piece so that the messy side is hidden it’s not really my preferred way of backing. I actually prefer to glue the felt on as I feel like this achieves a neater finish over all. 

There were the usual problems with the instruction booklet with some photographs obviously in the wrong place as they did not match up with the numbered instruction, and the colours on the colour chart for the rainbow did not match the photograph of the finished piece. Of course this doesn’t actually matter because you can do the colour placement in any way you like, but when they are on pages next to each other it really jumps out at me. I always try to imagine I am a beginner working my way through the instruction book and how helpful I would find it. I know I have said this before but I’m always so surprised that for a company that values quality and customer service, they are always let down with their printed material.

Lastly there was the Bee Bold postcard to stitch. I punched holes where it was indicated with my needle first and then used the left over thread to decorate it. Another cute addition for my inspiration wall!

The finished pieces are lovely as usual and I always enjoy the variations on design and themes even within the same craft. I’ve just seen a hint on Instagram of what will be in the March MakeBox and it looks pretty exciting, but first there’s candle making in February to look forward to!

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Craftpod: Spring 2019

I’ve signed up to Craftpod (http://www.craftpod.co.uk), a quarterly creative subscription box. Each of the boxes is inspired by the seasons and usually nature themed. They are mainly focused around embroidery and felting projects. You can either buy each box as it comes out (£23) or subscribe for the whole year (£84). Extra shipping costs are also charged on top of this. I decided to go for the yearly subscription so I could try out all the seasons.

I started my subscription with the Spring 2019 box and was very excited to receive it though the post. It was small enough to fit through the letter box, without needing to be signed for.

Inside the box was:

• An embroidery hoop
• Various coloured embroidery thread
• Fabric: calico, linen, felt and interfacing
• Fleece stuffing
• A packet containing a needle and some pins
• Paper templates
• Artwork that inspired the box
• Stickers of the artwork
• A lemongrass, ginger and citrus teabag!

There were two projects to complete, both with clear step-by-step instructions and photographs of each stage. The larger project used the embroidery hoop, fabric and thread to create an appliqué picture inspired by the artwork Blackbird’s Nest by Gordy Wright. The project was created by building up layers of fabric and adding texture and detail using the thread. It was really satisfying to see the image progress as I added each layer. Some of the stitching was quite fiddly, particularly the positioning and sizing of the blackbird’s eye and also the grass at the bottom of the frame as you had to remove the frame and replace it for each stitch so it looked as though the grass was growing from below the frame. The final result does look good so I think making the effort to get it right was worth it.

The smaller project was a felt pin cushion with small embroidered plants around the edge. This didn’t take me long to finish at all and the result is not only cute but useful too! It was made from three pieces of felt. I embroidered the side piece first. Some ideas for decoration were included on the pattern. The three pieces were then attached together to create the shape and filled with rice and the fleece stuffing. It said in the instructions that you can buy proper beans for filling pin cushions to create the weight at the bottom, but rice or lentils would also be fine. As I already had some rice in the cupboard I decided to go with that!

I haven’t done any embroidery since I was at school so when I first got it all out the box I wasn’t sure I was going to make a very good job of it, but I found the instructions really easy to follow and the pictures were nice and clear so it was easy to just copy what they had done if I wasn’t sure about something. Once I got started a lot of the stitches came back to me (just like riding a bike I suppose!), but I think even if I were a complete beginner I would have been able to complete both these projects. On the Craftpod blog there is a post called Botanical Stitch Practice which does have images and basic instructions, however it was a few posts back so I had to click through several other posts to reach it. I found it quicker to just type ‘botanical stitch practice craftpod’ into Google and it came up straight away. Although the guide is fairly useful it didn’t have all the stitches required for this box, such as blanket stitch. If you are new to embroidery or need a reminder on how to do some of the stitches I found it helpful to watch some of the videos on YouTube where you can watch someone demonstrate the stitches and talk through each step.

The only thing I was slightly disappointed about was that the interfacing I was sent was not long enough for the branch template. I managed to get it to fit by placing it diagonally only to find that the brown linen provided wasn’t big enough either. In the end it didn’t matter because even with a shortened pattern there was still enough fabric to stretch across the frame, I was just a bit surprised at this oversight as the box as a whole was clearly well planned and thoughtfully put together.

Overall I really enjoyed these projects and I will look forward to the Summer 2019 box dropping through my door!