In my experience, kids love sewing and get so much out of learning to stitch something with their own hands. It's great for their concentration, creativity and confidence and, as a parent or caregiver, it's a great way to get them off their screens for a bit and enjoy some time together. So, I was delighted to be asked to review the new book by Trixi Symonds and Deborah Fisher called 'Sewing Simple Softies with 17 Amazing Designers', published by Schiffer Books. Trixi is the founder of Sew a Softie, which aims to inspire people and community organisations to sew with kids. Deborah Fisher is a well known author of sewing books, so together they make the perfect duo to bring this book to life.
The book is a collection of projects from fantastic contemporary designers from around the world. It's bright and fun and really accessible, even for kids and adults who have never sewn anything before. Each project has clear step-by-step instructions and lots of photos. All the stitches and techniques can be easily learnt and it comes with a great how-to section, with links to videos showing the basic stitches used. So clever!
The projects are really cute - from Bluey the Koala to a cuddly sandwich (by the wonderful Mollie Johanson), and a delightful circus pincushion (I'm planning to make this with my little one first!). Most of the projects are made of felt but there are also some that used recycled materials, like the giant tomato pillow, which is a great way to re-use an old jumper.
I would say that the projects are most likely to appeal to kids aged 8-12, and perhaps younger more dextrous children could manage them too with some help. I love that the focus is on enjoyment not perfection, and encouraging kids to get creative with customising the designs to make them their own.
For those times when it's tricky to come up with ideas to get started, this book will provide inspiration to have a go and will enable kids to build their skills and have fun while sewing. Hopefully they will then become life-long stitchers!
If you'd like to make your own Edgar, we have a brand new kit, which contains all the materials and instructions you need, including a super easy way to cut out your pattern pieces without having to transfer the design onto the felt. The kit comes in a box to store your heirloom treasure as well as a sweet postcard, in case you want to send Edgar to someone special.
Getting started with embroidery is super easy as you don’t need very much to have a go and stitch something beautiful. The best bit is that the supplies are not expensive and are usually small enough to take wherever you go (roll on holidays!). With these essential materials and tools you’ll be good to go.
Choosing your Fabric
Although you can embroider on almost any fabric, some work better than others. When you’re getting started it’s best to avoid stretchy fabrics – cottons and linens work really well and come in a rainbow of colours. Our favourites are Kona cotton and Essex Linen. If you are looking for a different texture, 100% wool felt is also lovely to embroider on and, unlike acrylic felts, it holds stiches beautifully.
Choosing a hoop
It’s not essential to us an embroidery hoop but it does help to keep your fabric taut while you’re stitching and allows you to have better control of your needle. You can get wooden or plastic ones, in lots of shapes and sizes. A great hoop for starting out is a 7” wooden one, and you can use it to frame your masterpiece when you’ve finished!
There are lots of different threads to choose from but don’t be tempted to buy cheap bundles because these are prone to tangling and are not always colourfast. Starting with DMC stranded cotton embroidery thread is great. It comes in around 400 colours. It’s made up of 6 strands which you can separate, so you can stitch thick or thin lines. A popular choice to use for embroidery is 2 strands. If you want to keep things simple, choose perle cotton – it’s not divisible but is lovely and smooth and great for beginners.
Embroidery needles have sharp points and a large eye, making them easier to thread. They come in a variety of thicknesses (the higher the number the thinner the needle). It’s a good idea to get a mixed pack so you can see which you prefer and works best for your style of embroidery. Size 5 works well for stranded or perle cotton. If you’re planning to do any knotted stitches it’s handy to have some Milliner’s needles. These are the same width from eye to tip making it much easier for a knot to pass through the needle. For woven or threaded stitches, tapestry needles are useful as they have blunt ends so won’t snag your thread.
Embroidery scissors have small sharp blades so you can snip small strands of thread. If you get a good quality pair and remember to only use them on thread and fabric they will give you years of service. Be warned though, collecting embroidery scissors can become addictive!
You can carefully draw your design directly onto fabric using a pencil but the lines can be difficult to remove. There are some specialist supplies which make this process easier – such as wipe off pens (where the ink disappears with a spray of water), chalk pencils (great for darker fabrics) or iron-on transfer pens, which are a great way to get a detailed design onto fabric.
And handy to have…
To save you from sitting on a needle you put down when you went to make a cuppa, it’s really handy to have a needle minder. These are magnetic so you can attach them to your fabric or hoop and set your needle on top to keep it safe. And they look super cute!
We are so excited that designer Larissa Holland of MmmCrafts has released the third pattern in the 'Twas the Night ornament series - the Little Elves. These join Santa Claus (pattern 1) and Mrs Claus (pattern 2). With all of Larissa's designs the details on these are amazing - the little girl elf has a tiny bag full of letters of Christmas wishes to take to Santa and the boy is writing the naughty and nice list! The pattern instructions are super detailed and these are so much fun to stitch if you have a little stitching experience.
As with the other 'Twas the Night ornaments, with Larissa's blessing we have put together a kit of supplies to make these elves. It doesn't include the pattern, which is only available in the MmmCrafts shop. Because we know that you and your family will want to treasure these very special ornaments, the pack contains our heirloom quality 100% merino wool felt, which is a pleasure to use and can stand the test of time.
You can chose to get just the felt or all the threads, sequins, bells, beads and other tricky to find bits, so you can get going with your making. I hope you love making them as much as I do!
I'm so pleased that we now have supplies kits to make these heirloom Twelve Days' ornaments by designer Larissa Holland of MmmCrafts These incredibly popular patterns are a joy to make and make decorations to be treasured forever.
The downloadable patterns for these are available for purchase at www.mmmcrafts.etsy.com. We have put together the supplies you need to get going. These supplies will make one of each of the 15 ornaments in the the colour version shown in our image here with some left over to make more ornaments. We recommend laying out all the pattern pieces on the felt before starting to make sure the felt is used in the most economical way.
We have 3 options of kits to choose from - felt only, felt and DMC threads or felt, threads and supplies. The supplies you get with the 3rd option are the wooden beads for the heads and hands and the pipe cleaners for bodies. All options have our premium 100% wool felt in 10 beautiful colours. 100% wool felt is an heirloom quality product so your creations will stand the test of time.
To complete the project, it's also very handy to use Sticky Fabri Solvy sabiliser (not essential but highly recommended in the pattern and helps to keep your stitching accurate and cutting precise). You will also need glue, precision scissors, embroidery needles and toy filling (we have polyester or a wool version).You could also add some sparkles - we have lots of beads and sequins to choose from!
The felt colours in our kit from left to right are Chartreuse, Colonel, Sorbet, Strawberry Field, Popeye's Gal, Chai, Blue Moon, Denim and Petroleum. You could of course choose any colour for your ornaments but to make them in the colourway we have put together we used the following colours:
Partridge felt - Denim, Petroleum, Strawberry Field, Colonel
Pear felt - Strawberry Field, Chartreuse, Artichoke
Turtle Dove Felt - Chai, Blue Moon, Chartreuse
French Hen Felt - Artichoke, Strawberry Field, Colonel, Sorbet, Chartreuse
Colly Bird Felt - Popeye's Gal, Chai, Petroleum, Blue Moon
Gold Ring Felt - Colonel, Chartreuse, Blue Moon, Petroleum
Goose a-Laying Felt - Strawberry Field, Blue Moon, Denim, Colonel
Egg Felt - Chai, Artichoke
Swan a-Swimming Felt - Petroleum, Colonel, Blue Moon, Chartreuse, Chai
Maid a-Milking Felt - Chartreuse, Blue Moon, Sorbet, Colonel, Strawberry Field, Petroleum
Drummer Drumming Felt - Blue Moon, Petroleum, Colonel, Popeye's Gal, Chartreuse
Piper Piping Felt - Strawberry Field, Artichoke, Colonel, Chartreuse
Lady Dancing Felt - Denim, Chartreuse, Popeye's Gal, Strawberry Field, Blue Moon
Lord a-Leaping Felt - Artichoke, Sorbet, Chai, Colonel
Heart Felt - Strawberry Field, Sorbet
We just couldn't keep this little fella a secret any longer - please meet Mouse Charming! This is the second character in the Cindermice Sitch-along. Isn't he handsome? No wonder Cindermouse fell for him :)
If you bought the 3 kit bundle in September the kit to make Mouse Charming has been reserved for you and will be sent out on 31st October. Otherwise, we have a limited number of Mouse Charming kits (kit 2) available for sale.
Don't forget, if you want to see how everyone is getting on or if you want to share your photos with us please post them on Instagram - tag them with #cindermicestitchalong to make sure that we see them (you can also tag @whatdelilahdid and @cloudcraft for good measure if you fancy). And, if you submit your photos by 25th December 2015, you'll be in with a chance to win a lovely prize.
I'm so excited to be collaborating with the lovely Sophie Simpson, aka Delilah from 'What Delilah Did', to bring you an exclusive supplies kit for one of the projects in her latest (yet to be released!) book 'Secret Garden'. 'Secret Garden' is Sophie's third book. It's part story book, part counted-embroidery pattern book and it's really magical. There are 15 botanical-themed projects to suit all levels of stitchers. Some of the stitching is on wool felt (hurray!) and others on linen. What I love about it (apart from all the delightful bees, bugs, butterflies and flowers!) is that all the projects are useful and gorgeous - like the Arbour Alphabet Bunting, which I think would be a treasured house warming or Christening gift. If you’d like to have a go at making this beauty we have put together a limited edition supplies kit, containing the goodies you need to make bunting with 4 flags. The instructions for the project (including patterns for every letter of the alphabet) are not in the kit but are exclusive to the book, which you can get in the shop too, either on it’s own or you can save yourself some money by buying the book and kit bundle!
If you fancy trying one of the projects using linen, Sophie has 3 fabulous, limited edition kits available in the What Delilah Did shop.
At last, the Cindermice Stitch-along is here! I've been bursting to tell you all about this since Sophie from What Delilah Did and I started hatching plans for it a few months ago.
Sophie has used her magic again to design 3 gorgeous needlework projects, to hand-stitch 3 beautiful heirloom ornaments. The first in the collection is Cindermouse - the other 2 designs are being kept a surprise for now but will follow the Cinderella theme.
And the best bit? You will be able to stitch-along with Sophie because she has put together video tutorials to take you through all the steps. We are also hoping that stitchers will join us on Instagram and share their progress with #cindermicestitchalong.
The stitch-along will be available as exclusive, limited edition kit boxes, which will be released over the next few months, each of which will contain all the materials you need to make one of the characters. You can subscribe to the whole series or order just one box. You can find them all here. You will also be able buy downloadable patterns from What Delilah Did.
You can find out all the details for the stitch-along here. We really hope you will join us for some stitchy fun and bring a bit of extra magic to the run up to Christmas! x
Bringing with her lots of magic and sparkle, here comes the Fairy Godmouse! I'm totally in love with this little character designed by What Dellilah Did for the Cindermice stitch-along. Kits to make this little mouse are now on sale, but be quick because they are limited and are selling fast!
It's been so much fun seeing Cindermice pop up all over the world on Instagram. If you want to see how everyone is getting on or if you'd like to share your photos please use #cindermicestitchalong. And, if you submit your photos by 25th December 2015, you'll be in with a chance to win a very special prize!
Over the last few months I've been working with Sophie Simpson at What Delilah Did on another exciting project. The details are under wraps until the launch date on 1st September but I promise that it is worth waiting for! If you are keen to hear more you can register for updates here. 11 days to go!
There were so many people who were disappointed to have missed out on the limited edition Cindermice kits last year that I'm so pleased that we are bringing them back again for this Christmas. And this year they are dressed in fabulous new clothes!
Sophie Simpson, the designer and author behind 'What Delilah Did' has used her magic to update her gorgeous Cindermice designs to give a new twist to these gorgeous needlework projects. There are 3 heirloom ornaments to hand-stitch with a Cinderella theme - there's Cindermouse, Mouse Charming and the Fairy Godmouse!
And the best bit? You will be able to stitch-along with Sophie because she has put together video tutorials to take you through all the steps. We are also hoping that stitchers will join us again on Instagram and share their progress with #cindermicestitchalong.
The kits are available for pr-order now, and will be shipped on 21st October.
You can find out all the details for the stitch-along here. We really hope you will join us for some stitchy fun and extra magic to your festive season!