Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Monday, 24 August 2015

That Sinking Feeling...

Last night, just as I was about to go to sleep my husband showed me something he'd seen on the Guardian website:

Felt Campervan by Lucy Sparrow

Grace's Favours Original Felt VW Cuddly Campervan

That was my first thought.

Well, that's me done for.

That was my second thought.

Bloody Hell... why can't I be an 'artist' and be featured in the Guardian?

That was my third thought.

And then I calmed down a bit.

Lucy Sparrow is a designer/artist/maker/call her what you will that I came across for the first time last year when she set up an empty shop front to make it into a felt filled corner shop:

Felt Food made for The Corner Shop by Lucy Sparrow as part of the Folksy Interview
Everyone from the Daily Mail to Etsy and Folksy wrote about it, so it was hard to miss and of course, knowing my love of felt, lots of friends and family sent me links.

And for the most part, when my jealousy is under control, I am very pleased for Lucy and impressed by what's she's achieved... but the Campervan.... that left me feeling not so pleased.

I know I don't have the monopoly on making felt campervans and whilst I believe I was the first person to create cuddly campervans (as I did extensive research before I made my first one and found none like it out there in internetland - I first talked about them here in 2012) I cannot stop anyone else from making the same iconic vehicle in felt.

But when someone much more famous and well regarded makes them... well, that feels a bit worrying.

Although I know mine are original and very popular, does the fact that Lucy Sparrow has had her's featured in the Guardian make mine less.... I can't even find the right word... worthy? Interesting to customers? Original? Creative?

No, of course not. But it is hard to feel cheerful when you see something that mirrors your most popular item, being promoted in the popular press, created by someone else.

I suppose the one saving grace is that unless Lucy is planning to make them to order and personalise them, my shop is still the go-to place for the original personalised Cuddly Campervan!

Felt Cuddly Campervans by Grace's Favours

And now that I've got all that out there I feel ok about it all again.

But it is hard to keep the green eyed monster at bay sometimes!

Friday, 14 August 2015

A Hard Decision....

I have come to a hard decision.

Last year I started introducing sewing patterns into my shop and the idea was that I would split my time between creating sewing patterns and making made to order items:

However, since March 2014 I have only created 14 new patterns.... that's roughly 1 a month.

If I want to take make my mark on the sewing industry as a pattern designer I am going to need to make more than 1 pattern a month, or at the very least, make sure that the patterns I am offering are far more in depth than I have the time for at the moment.

So while we've been on holiday for the last 3 weeks I have been wondering how to change the status quo as all my gorgeous customers have been keeping me mightily busy with their made to order purchases!

So I have decided to remove a large proportion of my made to order listings from my Etsy Shop and now have the following sections:

So in the Made To Order sections we now have the Campervans (the big cuddly ones and the mini ones) Baby Mobiles (which currently includes the Mini Campervans and Airplanes but will be extended in due course) Framed Pictures (because I love making them) and the Poppies which I make and donate part of the profits to the Royal British Legion.

I know that this will come as a shock to some of my gorgeous customers and I am really sorry about that, but as the shop was in Vacation Mode for a couple of weeks, I took the opportunity to revamp the shop and this will give me more time to create new patterns and hopefully next year to start offering Sew Your Own Kits.

If there is anything that we were offering as a Made to Order item that you would like to purchase, I will honour all the old items and their prices until the end of September. To order any of these, you can email me at simmi@gracesfavours.co.uk

Thank you all for your continued support, comments and love. Simmi xxx

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

How to polish sea glass (and get rid of the salt)

Whilst we're on holiday I wanted to collect some shells and sea glass from the beaches of Wexford so as to make a picture of a beach scene when we get home.

I've been collecting shells from our Wexford holidays for the last 10 years, but I am determined to get something actually made with them this year!!

I have in mind a felted beach scene in a box frame with the shells and small pebbles at the bottom of the frame.... however, whether I manage to actually make it remains to be seen!

Now, for the sea glass. I've seen some amazing things (Pictures & jewellery mainly) made from sea glass but I've never really managed to find much. But this week we went to a stonier beach (we usually favour the beautiful sandy beaches that are so wonderful around here) and my husband and one of his cousins' sons were brilliant at spotting the sea glass. So I came home with this little collection:

But I'm not keen on the salt residue left on them, obscuring the gorgeous colours and natural shininess of the glass.

So first I washed them in plain water... they looked fine and shiny, until they dried out. And then the salt returned. So next I tried soaking them in lemon juice.... thinking that the acid in the lemon would strip away the salt. But still no luck:


So finally I thought I'd try the other thing that was nudging at the back of my mind... oil. The only oil I could readily find at my Mother-In-Law's was olive oil, so I put a small amount onto a couple of pieces of kitchen roll and rubbed the sea glass over the patches of oil.

And, once dry.... voila!


The piece I'm most keen on is the piece of safety glass, which is the one with the metal (Iron?) inside the glass, to toughen it. I think the sea glass will be made into a separate picture... hopefully of a fish if I can organise the pieces into a fishy shape!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Wet Felting Course

Aaarrrrrggggg! Summer Holidays!

Ahem. Sorry.... just had to get that off my chest! I have been trying to write this post for 2 weeks now, but everytime I settle down to it, some little person comes in and needs a drink, some food, an argument dispute settling, etc!

BUT.... a couple of weeks ago I went on a wet felting course at our local Art Space centre run by a fab lady called Lizzie. Now, I've been wanting to try wet felting for ages, so I was SO excited.

In the course description, along with the supplies we needed to bring (towels, plastic bags & lunch) it said we could choose between making a hat, a bag or a pair of slippers... all 3D felt items, with no sewing involved. Now we're talking. I really hadn't got a clue how the 3D shapes were made so I spent all week changing my mind what I wanted to make.

When we got there (there were 7 of us taking the class) Lizzie explained a bit about felting, the materials used, how to get started, etc. So initially we all made a single strand of felt. I wanted to turn mine into something, so I made two little ones as bracelets for Seren & Patrick. Once I understood the principles behind how the roving tops felt together I tried making some beads and then I made myself a bracelet, which I added some sparkly thread to when I got home. The sunset felt below was a practice piece, which I added some silk threads to, but I wasn't keen on the end result, so I'm going to use the side that doesn't have the silk threads.

Then we moved onto making soft felt (which is what the sunset coloured piece in the pic above is) this is roving which has been felted a small amount, so you could still pull the fibers apart. The reason for making this was to cut out some shapes from the soft felt, to be added to our final 3D piece. If you over felt the soft felt piece then it won't felt into the final piece as all the fibers will have meshed together too firmly.

The top left and bottom right pieces in the collage above show the soft felt and the other two pics, show how the soft felt is used in the final piece.

Here is my heart, cut out from the soft felt and added to my bowl (which was the 3D piece I finally settled upon)

So to add the soft felt to the bowl (mid felting) I had to place it on the side I wanted it to end up (which had to be the bottom otherwise the hole for the bowl would have been cut into the heart) and add a few bits of roving around the edges of the heart and then carry on the felting process. I think it looks rather like a tutu at that point!

And finally, after a lot of rolling, soapy water and with slightly achy arms, here is my finished bowl!

I really really really enjoyed the course and have decided that I'm going to attempt to make some felt pictures with the kids... they'll have to be fairly abstract but I think they'll love it!

Now, obviously I've not gone through the whole felting process here, but if I can get the kids ones to resemble something recognisable I will do a tutorial on it.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

How to: Apple Plushie Teacher Thank You Gift Tutorial

I know, I know... it's the end of term next week, you're racing to try and get everything done before the little darlings embark on a 6 week loooooooooong summer holiday and if you're anything like me, you've just realised you need to give half a dozen Teachers & TA's a little thank you present next week!

Well, these cute plushie Apples are just the thing... they don't take long to make, you could do 2 or 3 in an evening and they look so cute!

You will need:

- Apple coloured felts (I've used a pillarbox red, a maroon and an emerald green)
- Matching embroidery thread
- 2 brads per Apple (or you could use sequins, black beads or even small felt circles)
- Black embroidery thread for the mouth
- Brown felt & embroidery thread for the stalk
- Green (if possibly a different shade to the green of your apple) felt and a contrasting green embroidery thread
- Sparkly material (I got mine from Paper-and-String who do all sorts of lovely felts too)
- Scissors, pins and the paper pattern (available at the end of the tutorial)
- Toy stuffing or felt scraps for stuffing.


1. Cut out 2 felt apple shapes & 2 sparkly cheeks. Position your cheeks, smile and eyes. Mark in the eyes and the smile with a pencil or a disappearing ink pen.

2. Sew on the sparkly cheeks using a corresponding thread colour (I used a silver sparkly thread, but you could just use a single strand of a pale coloured cotton thread) then insert the brads for eyes, covering up your pencil marks and stitch a smiling back stitch mouth using 2 strands of black embroidery thread.

3. Cut out 2 brown felt stalks and 2 green felt leaves. Back stitch around the stalks, using 2 strands of matching embroidery thread. For the leaves, I used a running stitch up the stem and then filled in the gaps coming back down and branching out for the leaves. It doesn't really matter how the back ends up looking as you won't see it.

4. Pin the leaf and the stalk in between the 2 apple pieces, making sure enough of both the stem and the leaf are going to be caught in the stitching.

5. Using 2 strands of a matching embroidery thread, back stitch around the apple, starting from the right hand side, so you get the stalk and leaf caught in early on. stop stitching when you have about an inch gap left.

6. Stuff your apple with toy stuffing or if you don't have any you could use felt scraps and when it's reasonably plump (don't give into temptation and over stuff!) back stitch up the hole closed and you are done!

Well done! You have an Apple Plushie!

For my kids teachers I think I'll attach a ribbon to the back of the stalk so they can be hung up, but you could sew a safety pin or a brooch back onto your Apple so it could be worn on clothes, hat or a bag.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and as always I'd love to see any that you make. I would like to ask that you respect the copyright and only make these as gifts, not to sell for profit. Please do not reproduce this tutorial in it's entirety and please link back to this page if you reference it elsewhere.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Doing something you love

Last week I took a few days off from 'work' and created 2 things, for different people, just because.... and do you know what? I LOVE it!!

First I made a Mummy & Baby VW Campervan:

I really really enjoyed makin this for a customer who is about to have a baby... It just seemed like such a cute idea! It's kind of like a VW Campervan Russian Doll idea - I am going to try a whole rainbow of them getting bigger and bigger one day!

The second thing I made, was a bowl for my Mum for her birthday. This was a real treat for me because I didn't have to try and make it look 'like' anything. Everything else I do... The campervans, the R2D2 costumes, animal masks, etc all have to look like the thing they are supposed to be, but this bowl and it's decor could be anything  I liked.... oh the freedom!

I made the bowl from extra thick stiffened felt, which I then wrapped in the normal felt I use. Then I needle felted some decorations to the inside of each side piece and made some paisley decorations to sew onto the outsides.

Then I sewed the 4 sides to the base and to each other. And voila!

The bowl is not something I'd make to sell as it took far too long to create for the money I'd be able to charge, but I loved making it as a one off!

If there was enough interest it could appear in my patterns section of the shop.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

New Patterns & Tutorials

I've been a bit AWOL recently... partly because of our gorgeous new puppy who is causing as much havoc in the house as a new baby would, but also because I've had a bit of writer's block.

However I'm coming out of the other side of that with a couple of exciting new things.

I'm going to be putting the pattern for the Mini VW Campervans on sale next week:

VW Mini Campervans in Rainbow Colours

And also the Plushie Rainbows:

Plushie Cuddly Rainbow

I'm also working on a tutorial, which will also be done as a video and put on my You Tube channel for a Rainbow Heart Brooch, but I haven't got a pic of that to share with you just yet!

In the meantime you can have a mooch through my Etsy Shop for other sewing patterns.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

New Puppy... Anyone tell me what she is?

I've been a tad quite in recent weeks... the reasons are twofold.

I was supposed to be taking part in a VW Festival this weekend, so I shut up shop in mid May and knuckled down to some hard work. I made quite a lot of stock but then got totally sidetracked by the arrival of this little beauty!

She is absolutely gorgeous and a total distraction!

We all completely adore her, Patrick thinks it's hilarious when she licks him as it tickles and Seren thinks she's beautiful but is still a bit wary. To be honest, it's because of Seren being so nervy of dogs that we decided to get one. We thought it would probably help her to overcome her fears. Thankfully Paella (more about the name in a mo!) is a very clam little girl, she's only 4 months old, so still a baby really, but she has the perfect temperament for us,

So, why Paella?

Well, she's come from an English run rescue center in Spain. The Spanish seem to be against spaying dogs and they have a lot of strays, which results in many unwanted pups. Pi and 3 of her litter were dumped on the Rescue Center's doorstep in a bag poor things. Pi was born without a tail, which seems to be a hereditary thing as the Center said they'd had another 4 pups dumped in the same sort of bag six months earlier, one of which had also be born without a tail.

One completely unanswered question (bearing in mind I know very little about dogs!) is what mix of breeds she might be... anyone got any ideas?

But this gorgeous bundle of fun has meant that I've not got anywhere near as much stock made as I would need for a 3 day festival. Which is a real shame as I was really looking forward to it, but I wouldn't have enjoyed this week had I been stressed out about the festival and therefore not making the most of settling Pi in.

So I now have quite a few of the following goodies in stock... A couple of these have been shared before and some are new.

All of these will be added to the Etsy Shop in the next couple of days as I get some spare time!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

And the Felt VW Goodies Winner is..............

I am SO sorry for keeping you all waiting.... my internet decided to go on strike this morning, so I went back to bed too!!

But without further ado... the winner of the Rainbow VW Key Ring and Red VW Campervan Coaster is.....

Well done Rosemary, who said:

"Blue or red both are just so cool.. I've got a 10 year old obsessed with them"

If you get in touch with me Rosemary I'll pop your winnings into the post :-)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day Rainbow VW Campervan Competition

I blogged a couple of months ago about the 6 Weeks of Softies that Sew Mama Sew was holding on their website - it was so choc full of softie love and now they're back with something else fabby.... something that I gather has been running for a while but I only heard about this week.... A Giveaway Day Link Up!

So the idea is that everyone who wants to run a giveaway writes a blog post about their prize, today (May 6th) and then adds the link to the Sew Mama Sew blog which helps us all discover new blogs, chances to win fantastic prizes and hopefully for all the designers, new potential customers.

So here is my Giveaway prize:

It's a VW Campervan Felt Coaster and Key Ring - they are both new designs which I'll be taking with me (in all range of colours) to the VW Festival I'm going to next month - Hurst View DubFest which is near Lymington in the New Forest and runs from 12th - 14th June.

For this giveaway all you need to do is leave me a comment telling me which is your favourite Model and Colour of VW Campervan! (It's a bit of market research to help me make sure I'm taking the most popular styles and colours with me to the festival!)

I'm going to also post this on Facebook and Instagram and you can enter one whichever one you like (but multiple entries won't count)

The giveaway will run until 9am Thursday 14th May (BST) and I'm happy to ship internationally.

Good luck!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

How To: Make a DIY Dog Collar Tutorial

A couple of months ago I was asked to do some work by the London Transport Museum as they were opening a new children's section of the museum and wanted some toy dog puppets as part of their promotions.

Well I had to make 6 or 7 a prototype and this one, which is the only one who looked sensible enough to be finished off, has been claimed by Patrick and named Rosette (Don't ask!!):

Ever since he 'claimed' her, he's been asking me to make her a collar, as I'd made one for Seren's enormous Dog, Kate, last summer (Kate was purchased by Seren, with her own money in a shop in Ireland, while we were on holiday and had to have her own seat in the car on the way back as she is so enormous!)

So I thought I would share the process with you.

You Will Need:

Tape Measure
Felt Scraps
Embroidery Thread
Small Piece of Ribbon
Small Piece of Elastic
Needle, pins, scissors
Sewing Machine (optional)


1. Have your dog/cat/teddy/cuddly toy/real animal (?!?!) at the ready

2. Measure your dog loosely round the next

3. My dog's neck size was 20", so I wanted to have 18" of felt and 2 inches of elastic. Patrick had chosen pink, purple and white as his colours, so I have 1.5" of white felt, 5" of dark purple, pink & light purple each and then another 1.5" of white felt, each piece is 1" thick. Lay them out on a larger piece of felt, which will become the back of the collar.

4. Either by hand or by machine, sew the ends of each felt piece to the backing - I chose to use a zigzag stitch with black thread. If you are sewing by hand a running stitch or back stitch would do fine.

5. Pin the elastic into one end of the collar, between the white felt at the top and the beige felt at the bottom. Then sew from the other end (leaving that end open) along the long side, across the elastic, making sure it's sewn in securely and back down the other long side. Leave the remaining short end open for the moment. Now cut away the excess backing felt, so you are left with only the 1" thick strip of double layer felt.

6. If you want to add a bone with a name on to your collar, this is the stage. So on another piece of felt embroider your dog's name and then cut around the name, shaping the felt into a bone shape. Pin this bone shape to another piece of felt and cut around that. Sandwich the ribbon in between the two bone pieces and sew round the outsides of the bone, I used a pale pink thread and a running stitch - it just needs to keep the bones together & keep the ribbon in place. Then thread the collar through the ribbon.

7. Finally thread the elastic into the open end of the collar and sew the end closed.

And you will have one dog collar, all ready to be worn! (And in my case, one VERY happy little boy!)

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. If you would like to reference it or link back, please feel free to borrow a couple of pictures, as long as you link back to this post, but please do not reissue the whole tutorial without prior permission.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bargains Galore - Things You Can Find In A Charity Shop

Do you like Charity Shops?

My Outlaws (as I affectionately refer to my lovely gorgeous In-Laws!) have been staying with us and they do like a mooch around a charity shop and as their designated driver I like to be obliging.

Well, luckily for them the towns near us are choc-full of charity shops, so off we headed, each day for a little explore.

I went with them not really expecting to find anything I really wanted, but was poking around in some baskets hidden away in one, when I came across loads, and I really do me LOADS of skeins of embroidery thread and little reels of coloured cottons.

The skeins were marked up as being 50p each and I had over 20 so I was expecting them to charge me at least £10 which was still a bargain as they were all brand new.... but they ummed and ahhed over someone buying so many and tried to charge me £3!!! For all that!?! I was gobsmacked and said £5 at least (I know, the normal practice when haggling is to try and get the seller to come down in price, not go up!) so we settled there in the end - I came out feeling like I'd got a great bargain (which of course I had, as anyone know regularly buys large amounts of thread will know) and they felt they'd been over paid, which I guess probably doesn't happen very often... so we were all happy.

Oh and my Outlaws bought (over the 2 weeks):

- 1 handbag
- 4 ladies tops
- 1 walking stick
- 1 glass dish
- 2 girls' dresses
- 1 ladies' coat
and 3 childrens' books!

Think we all did quite well!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Behind the Scenes: Making Mini Campervan Mobiles

Do you ever try and set yourself targets to beat whilst doing something boring? I do... such as,

'Last time I had to draw around and cut out 24 small 1/3 of a triangle funny shapes it took me 35 minutes....' (for the Celtic Knotwork Penny Rug Pattern)

These funny little bits made up the trinity knots on my new Celtic Knotwork Pattern
'So next time I'm going to try and do it in 30 minutes'

Well, that's the kind of bet I have with myself when I'm doing something repetitive, so this morning, when I had to cut out and sew up 12 mini Campervan bodies, I wanted to see how long it would take me to sew up 5 (the number I use for the baby mobiles I make:

So I paused to quickly take an action shot (to make the post more interesting!)

And off I went.

13 miniutes, to sew up 5 mini campervan carcasses.

6 pauses in the 13 minutes:

1 to take a pic
1 to refill the bobbin
4 to umpire in rows between the children... despite there being 3 other adults in the house it seems it's still my job to stop whatever I'm doing and run in to prevent WW3 taking place in the playroom over who's turn it is with the remote control/barbie and her horse/the loom band gizmo/etc!!!

So, now that's my target to beat for next time!

And finally... a gratuitous shot of my messy desk, my gorgeous Benedict Cumberbatch calendar and the drama I had to pause on BBC iPlayer as otherwise I'd have done no sewing at all!!!

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