Wednesday, 30 May 2012

I was determined this week to get my blog post up by the end of Wednesday, my original intended day. I did get slightly sidetracked making fabric covered buttons (guide below), and listing more gorgeous items on my website, www.simplydivinethings.co.uk, but I got here before noon!

After losing my crafting mojo last week, I have now bounced back with a vengeance, starting several projects all at once. I have also been looking at new ways to use up my fabric scraps stash (that seems to be taking over my lounge! I cannot wait to get my own craft room when we move house, and have better storage too because I don't have any space left.

Before I go into more detail about my makes this week, I would like to mention a farm we visited (me, my other half and my four year old son) on Sunday. It was the perfect day for being outdoors because of the weather, so we went to St Leonards Farm www.stleonardsfarm.com which is near Bradford, West Yorkshire. It was a fantastic day. We had a picnic in the sunshine where there was a small playground, a wooden bridge over a stream, and a paddling area. I fell in love with the baby rabbits, that you can hold, along with a guinea pig, and this gorgeous kid (of the goat variety) who was convinced my finger was a dummy and insisted on suckling on it every time I held my hand out! It even tried to get out to reach me! It even had stumps where it's horns would grow. I wanted to take it home with me! There were cute lambs, four billy goats gruff with a bridge over a footpath with a painting of a troll underneath, a barn full of hay to play in, horses, meercats, ride on tractors and more. I could have stayed a week with those animals! It was really hands on.Definitely a recommendation if you are near or in Yorkshire.

On to crafts. First, I would like to share with you my attempt at fabric covered buttons. I've wanted to try this for ages now, but have never got round to it. I toyed with the idea of buying a kit but after looking round, I found that they were pricey for what you got. I have hundreds of buttons, so I decided to to use those, and this is how.

You will need:


Any buttons, not just flat ones
Small fabric circles, just under double the diameter of the buttons chosen
Needle and thread (great for using small scraps of thread as it will be hidden)


Instructions:


1. Using a small running stitch, sew round the edge of the circle, all the way round and pull to gather slightly.











2. Place your button in the middle and pull the thread really tight, so the fabric wraps round the button, and secure in place.











3. Use buttons, by either locating the holes by pushing a needle through, sewing through the 
fabric on the back or gluing.












How easy is that? And it uses up tiny bits of fabric. I can't believe I didn't do this sooner. Given my latest cushion making obsession, I should have as they will look brilliant with these buttons.













Speaking of cushions, I now have seven on the go. Most are just waiting to be run through the sewing machine, and some are awaiting appliques to be sewn on. I was given a lightweight jumper in aqua blue that is made from super soft fabric that I will never wear, so that is going to become a cushion too. I think I will probably make a flower to put on the front of it and finish with a fabric covered button. I'm really getting into upcycling lately, and I'm finding it easier to look at everything in a new light before throwing it in the bin. There are some things I've had to part with because I don't have enough time to make it all. As I upcycle, I intend to share my wares on here.

Yesterday I placed another order with Cath Kidston. Yipee! I have order in Boat for a picture and also some tiles (fantastic for a bathroom), and another eight fat quarters, which the actual designs will be a surprise. I'm so excited for the delivery to arrive!











I have also got some Cath Kidston Classic Rose fabric in white. This is extremely rare, but looks fantastic as a picture, and I have it in blue on tiles too. I have been unable to get any more blue, so the tiles are very limited in quantity. I am also offering the white on tiles too. This is about as shabby chic as your kitchen or bathroom could possibly get! Both designs are available at www.simplydivinethings.co.uk from £9.95 each for the tiles and from £5 each for the pictures. I also have a full set of four tiles as pictured, available for only £29.85 (25% off). There is only one set available.

Today I have been really busy making some new pictures too. This is Clarke and Clarke Abigail in sage, and I think it looks gorgeous as a picture. I may have to make one of these for my own house.













I would also like to share this week another guide for using up scraps. I have long hair, and really like girly things to put in it (excluding scrunchies that remind me of when I was very young!), so making hair grips like these at http://justcallmechris.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/diy-bobby-pins.html is perfect for me. I already know how to do the covered buttons, and I have grips with the flat plate on the end, so I was thinking about gluing the button to the hair pin (using E6000), and then covering it. Gorgeous for summer, and the other one I'm going to try is different flowers with a felt circle on the back, that can be slid onto a regular kirby grip. One grip, several flowers and a simple pick and mix system depending on my mood/outfit for the day. I'll keep you posted on that one!

Last of all, I have been advised that Cath Kidston have lots of lovely things for the Jubilee weekend, as well as different things happening in their stores. If, like me, you daren't step inside her stores for fear of sending every penny you have, here is a lovely Jubilee link for you.

Cath Kidston (UK)

Kirsty x

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Feeling hot hot hot

Oh my gosh, this weather! It's absolutely gorgeous and I can't even go out in it with a chaperone to take me. That makes me very sad indeed.On a plus note, it was my birthday yesterday and I simply had to share with you what me boyfriend and his sister got me. Not only did I get an absolutely stunning Cath Kidston handbag from my boyfriend (he knows me so well), but his sister bought another gorgeous shabby chic bag. The best bit is, they match. So I have one for all my large business things (for when I'm better and can go places) and I have one for my purse etc. I also got a Boofle pen, Boofle shopper bag, and a Boofle compact mirror, to keep me new bag. Needless to say I was very very happy with these gifts.

Birthday aside, I have had a few busy days and a few "can't do anything" days. My pain levels have been high and just as I thought I was starting to recover (I woke up yesterday morning feeling slightly better), I ripped some ligaments while climbing the stairs yesterday. Now I'm in agony all over again and I'm reaching my limit for coping with being disabled.
One thing I did manage to do was get my sewing machine out last Saturday. I really paid the price with pain, but it meant I sewed three cushions and two pillowcases.

Two of the cushions were made from Prestigious Textiles Maple in cinnamon. You might have noticed how much I love this fabric from working with it in the past. It's such fantastic quality and the print is amazing. I did them with a simple press fastener on the back as I didn't have enough fabric to do an envelope closure. These cushions were for my sisters birthday (the person I made the photo collage for) and she got the yesterday. Here's the text I received from her "OMG!!! I love the cushions!". Job well done me thinks.


The other cushion was made from left over nursery rhyme fabric that I had from pictures. I found I had just enough to make a 16" x 16" patchwork style cover, and I lined it with off white polycotton. I really like how it's turned out and it would make a fantastic addition to a nursery, perhaps in a chair to rest your arm on while feeding baby? Unfortunately the pictures have turned sideways, but you get the jist.

The pillowcases were probably one of the most thrifty ideas I've ever had. I have been struggling to find curtains to fit my bedroom window because it's long but quite narrow. For a long time now I've had a plain cream blackout up and a blind. I found some curtains I really liked, but I was struggling with bedding. I find the problem with red being that if there is a colour mis-match it can clash. I also found patterned bedding extremely expensive for king size. So I bought 90" x 90" curtains and plain cream bedding. One curtain has gone up and the other was cut up! Ta da! New, matching, bedding! At a fraction of the cost too. I've never even tried to make pillowcases in my life, but they were really easy. I think I underestimate my skills.

I have also started bracelet making with fabric scraps. These are two I've done so far. One with a press fastener and one that has enough stretch to just slide on. The first two I made were cream and blue and I love wearing them. They are what I would deem to be my style because they're a little but different but still really pretty. I have decided to list them on Ebay at 99p (stores.ebay.co.uk/simplydivinethings) which for the time taken to make is an absolute bargain!
I have made the decision to stop making personalised fabric bookmarks and find other ways to use up my millions of scraps. I'm hoping to put together some bracelet and necklace sets and I might even have a go at earrings to match too. I will also be putting some quilters packs together with precut squares.

Yesterday I had a clear out with tiles and coasters. I've got loads that I've used as samples and they are taking up lots of room so I have decided to sell them at a reduced price. This means the tiles are £7.95 each, and the coaster sets are £9.95 each. They are available on my website www.simplydivinethings.co.uk or in my ebay store stores.ebay.co.uk/simplydivinethings. They are very limited in quantity.
Something else that's a bit of a rarity is Cath Kidston's Classic Rose. I got hold of some in blue a few months back but it's nearly gone and I cannot get anymore. It's a huge shame because the tiles in this design look absolutely gorgeous. I have been able to get some in white though so I am offering both pictures and tiles in this print. There aren't many though and I should imagine once they've gone, that's it!

I haven't had chance to look for craft how to guides. I have bought a new book though called Sewing in No Time by Emma Hardy. I've flicked through it and it is exactly what I wanted. It's fantastic and I can't wait to try the different things in it and I will share some of the ideas in it too. I have also found some new fabric websites. I love coming across the ones that are normally on page 328 of Google because there are so many! It's those ones you get the best products from (and usually service too). They are www.thecurtainfactoryoutlet.co.uk and www.thefabricloft.co.uk.

Another short one this week I'm afraid. I need to crack on with the washing (with a lot of help from my brilliant four year old son!) and I've started some more Thomas The Tank Engine cushions, this time with Percy on them. I would like to get them finished today and start on some others. I make them in batches. I cut, pin and tack them and once I have a few I get the sewing machine out and off I go!

Have a great week and enjoy the sun. Happy crafting :-)

Kirsty x

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Feeling a bit bananas

I will start this week with another recipe I have tried out. I was indeed feeling bananas last Thursday, especially when I had four of the things that were overly ripe and desperately needed eating up. I began a search for a banana cake loaf, and found this one on the BBC Good Food website.

Ingredients

225g plain flour
140g caster sugar
100g Butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
2tsp baking powder
4 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 egg, lightly whisked
585g walnuts (optional)
50ml milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4
Grease a large 2lb loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper (or two 1lb tins)
Cream the butter and sugar.
Stir in the egg until thoroughly combined.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix well.
Stir in the bananas and add walnuts if using.
Pour into loaf tin/s and gently tap the tin/s on the work surface to remove air bubbles. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a a skewer comes out clean.
Serve warm with cream or ice cream, or allow to cool.

It will keep for two days in a cake tin or can be frozen for up to a month.

I found the resulting cake to be extremely sticky and very sweet. If anything, next time I make it I would only use three bananas, or find a recipe that requires more flour and less sugar. I think a teaspoon of cinnamon would go nicely too. I actually got two small loaf cakes from the mixture as I don't have a large tin. I still baked them at the same temperature and for the same length of time.


Last Sunday I went to the White Rose Centre in Leeds to get some birthday presents (it is usually best if I am kept away from all shops that sell anything to do with crafts!). I went into the Disney store for a present for my two year old niece. Not only am I in a daze every single time I enter these stores, but I also have this overwhelming urge to spend lots of money (on myself!). I left with a Tangled bowl, plate, cutlery and cup. I had to take a picture of the carrier bag to show you, because it is brilliant! I am never parting with it, ever.









I also bought a present for my step mum and then got home and realised I had no wrapping paper. One thing I do have an abundance of is fabric and ribbon, so how's this for upcycling. Fabric wrapping! The recipient should get it today so I hope she likes it.







On Tuesday I found out about some books available at The Book People. Ten Julia Donaldson books for £9.99! I am a huge fan of her books and The Gruffalo is probably the most widely known story. I simply had to buy them, along with a cupcake making book, a Stickman jigsaw and another sewing book. I'll let you know more about the craft ones next week.


Because I have started yet another cushion this week, my other half got to listen to me chuntering away when I messed up the lengths I was cutting. He piped up, "is that so you can do your letterbox closing?". Oh boy did I laugh! He meant envelope, but at least it shows he tries, and to be fair, he does know a lot of the fabric types and names that I'm always going on about! This cushion has a nursery rhyme theme and has lines and pictures from Hey Diddle Diddle, Little Bo Peep, There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, and a few others. It will match these pictures that you can buy at http://www.simplydivinethings.co.uk/nursery-rhymes-71-c.asp.

This weeks crafting how to comes from an American website, craftzine.com. It is a drawer or desk organiser made from upcycled plastic drinks bottles. It is also great for using up bit of felt.. I have been saying to my other half that I should start trying to upcycle more. Clothes rarely get thrown out in this house as I can use fabric, buttens, zips etc, but nothing else.



You will need:

4+ empty and washed out 2L plastic drinks bottles (they used 6)
Paint suitable for use on plastic, such as acrylic or model spray paint
Felt in a colour that co-ordinates
Plastic glue (E6000 doesn't work and removes the paint
Old newspaper
Utility knife and strong scissors
Craft glue, such as PVA
Paper clips

1. Cut around 3 inches from the bottom off the bottles. This place may vary depending on the contour of the bottle as you will need a steady hand. Use the knife to make the first cut so you can get your scissors in. It is important you take your time with this bit.

2. Standing the ends upside down on newspaper, paint the outsides completely with your chosen paint. Don't forget to work in a ventilated area. Allow to dry completely.

3. Using the craft glue, wrap around the top of each container with 3/8" wide felt, so it covers the top completely and is folded over each side. Hold in place with paper clips while it dries.

4. Glue the pots together in whatever formation you want. This will probably depend on where you want it to go.

5. Allow to dry and fill them with your crafting bits!

This guide was done by Diane Gilleland of www.craftypod.com, although I have reworded it to make it relevant to UK crafters.

That's it for this week. Enjoy your crafting :-)

Kirsty x

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Busy, busy, and more busy, but still time for biscuits!

I must start this week by apologising for last weeks post. It was rushed, I'll admit. This week I am setting aside an appropriate amount of time to share my week with you, despite being incredibly busy with orders (but that's a good thing!)

I have managed to fit a huge array of things into the last few days, including the entirety of Sunday over in York, watching my son run around the National Railway Museum shouting "Look, it's got massive wheels!" and "Look, another big train!" and on the way home, "When are we going again?". Kids! As you can tell, he loved it, and that was enough to put smiles on the faces of myself and other half. Personally, I was gutted that the ice cream cafe was shut!! 

On Tuesday afternoon, I was well enough to bake. I absolutely love baking and used to do it 1-2 times a week before the accident. It's one of the things I miss the most. I made cinnamon biscuits and I drew hearts on top in red icing. They didn't last very long at all! I didn't get a photo, but I will share the recipe, because you absolutely have to try them! They're from a children's baking book called Baking With Tiny Tots by Becky Johnson. It's a fantastic book and is easy to get hold of. My son was given it as a present this year, so we haven't done much together in it due to my illness, but once I am better it will become a regular thing to do together.

Ingredients

275g Self raising flour plus extra for dusting
100g Light brown sugar (I used light muscavado)
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
75g soft butter

Instructions

Sift into a bowl the flour, mix with sugar and cinnamon.

Add butter and using fingers, turn into a crumb type mixture.

Add egg and Golden Syrup and mix thoroughly.

Allow the mixture to chill for one hour in the fridge.

Heat oven to 170 degrees centigrade gas 3 1/2 and roll out dough onto a well floured surface to around 1cm thick. Cut desired shapes out and place onto a baking sheet, lined with greaseproof paper. I just did circles and rolled the mixture into balls before flattening with my hand.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until just turning brown on top. Allow to cool and decorate with icing if you wish.

So simple and so scrummy!

Another craft I have got involved in this week, was brooch making. The brooches were felt strawberries. I made three and was inspired to do them as they were a freebie with Craftseller. They were the first freebie I have made and I decided to get a subscription to the magazine. At £1 for the first three issues, I would be mad not to! I am hunting around for more craft subscriptions. I tend to not make the things in the publications but the inspiration is fantastic.

I am on the lookout for a decent clasp purse pattern. I have the metal frame but have been putting off the making as it looks so darned complicated. I will pluck up the courage to try it this week, I promise!

Last week I had two wooden birdhouse key holders and clocks arrive, just waiting for my mark to be put on them. So I did. Here they are, the left painted in blue and green, and finished with hardened Clarke and Clarke Bird Trail, the right one is whitewashed and green, finished with hardened Cath Kidston Hampton Rose. I think they look absolutely brilliant, but then I would! They are both available to buy at http://www.simplydivinethings.co.uk/key-holders-100-c.asp, but hurry, there's only one of each.


Other than some wall tile orders and various picture orders including one in the new Clarke and Clarke English Rose, I have not made much else. I have an ever expanding to do list still, which now includes more cushions in fabric I have found! I am still working on the bits and bobs cushion, which i coming along nicely but slowly. At this rate, the charge for time to make it will be too high to sell it! Or maybe that's an excuse to keep it. I do still have mountains of fabric I can't bear to get rid of, so I'm still making my way through it all, coming up with new makes.


www.simplydivinethings.co.uk has collected 21 votes towards becoming a Great Britain Great. Please help us build on that by casting your vote at http://www.thegreatexhibition2012.co.uk/greats/simply-divine-things and support British manufacturing. We're super proud of our Made in Great Britain stamp.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Simply Divine Things has been nominated!

Hi all. Well have I got some news for everyone this week, and I've got the challenging task of fitting it all in without writing a massive essay! I have been so busy every day, and I apologise that my blog is late up.

I'll start with the best news of the week. Simply Divine Things has been nominated to win the Great Britain Great 2012 award. To give you an idea of how huge this is, other people nominated are JLS and One Direction (obviously in a different category). We have two "Greats". The company and the wall tiles. Please help us to won by voting for us. The company link is http://www.thegreatexhibition2012.co.uk/greats/simply-divine-things and the tile link is http://www.thegreatexhibition2012.co.uk/greats/simply-divine-tiles. Voting is free and really easy. If you have a Facebook account you don't even have to register, just a couple of clicks. I will really appreciate your help.

Next piece of news I simply must share is that I received an amazing delivery yesterday. I had ordered in some new fabrics from Clarke and Clarke and they are amazing!

I've got Abigail in slate blue and sage. This has a "hand painted" floral print on it and that's why it caught my eye. This style is really in this season for homewares and it makes fantastic pictures. It's girly and homely and it really reaches the shabby chic expectations without even batting an eyelid. Watch this space for wall tiles coming in this design soon.

Then I ordered some more Bird Trail in chintz, seafoam and grey. By far the most popular design I sell for pictures and wall tiles and it's easy to see why. It's got so much going on in the print and an array of carefully coordinated colours.

I made a picture from the Bird Trail in seafoam and I also ordered in Scotties in taupe/duckegg for a picture too. They both look amazing and Scotties has just gone up in the favorite ranks.

Last of all, I decided to get a classic into my collection with English Rose in Chintz. I adore this timeless print. It's so pretty and I can't wait to make a picture with it. I will be making wall tiles with it too.


In made this week I have completed a fully stuffed 12" x 12" Peppa Pig one. It has a lovely picture of George the Pirate, and again, it's all hand sewn. All this hand sewing has greatly improved my speed and accuracy to the point that my mum thought this cushion was machine sewn! In the pipeline this week, I still have the bits and bobs cushion (that baby is time consuming!), and some  more cushions in different designs.

 With regard to shopping, I've not done masses, other than business related. I ordered a ears Thomas the Tank Engine train, Hiro from a seller on Ebay. I have searched high and low for this train but I jumped (literally not physically!) for joy when I got it at an absolute bargain price. I also picked up what I thought was another bargain on Ebay. 1kg of cushion stuffing from Treeline Products UK for £7.99 including delivery. Not only cheap but it was advertised to be the best you could get with a lovely bouncy feel. It is rock hard and lumpy. Not suitable for stuffing anything. Of course I messaged the seller to tell of my dismay. Another typical Ebay seller who doesn't care if they have an unhappy customer. Three days in and I have still not had a reply. Clearly not going to sort out their misleading sales patter then. A complete waste of £7.99.

I have bought some fabric in black and red with a flower print to make a bespoke coaster order. The fabric required was only available in pre-cut 4" squares and that has made me think more about patchworking, especially after the success of my two Thomas cushions. I have lots of other fabrics to make cushions from first though!

That's it for this week, short but sweet. I'm off to do some more work on the bits and bobs cushion and get a picture made from the Clarke and Clarke English Rose. Enjoy your weekend!