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!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Guest Tutorial - How to Make Gift Bags from Upcycled Greetings Cards

I was approached a couple of days ago by a lovely chap who wanted to know if I'd be interested in hosting a guest tutorial written by a friend of his... it was a really nice surprise to find that my blog is starting to get found amongst all the other fantastic craft blogs out there :-)

So, here for your delectation (and I will DEFINITELY be saving all our birthday cards from now on!) is the Tara's great tutorial:

If you’re anything like me you will have stacks of old greeting cards gathering dust in the back of a cupboard or under your bed. And let’s face it you are never going to read them again so why not do something useful with them and create a gift bag? It’s easy so let’s get started.

What you need:
Selection of old greetings cards
Template (I used the one from this site)
Ribbon/bottons (optional) 

Print the template out on A3 paper or larger depending on the size you want your bag/box to be. If you want to make a box you will need all the tabs but tabs H and G aren’t necessary for a gift bag.

Decide on the theme of you bag/box and discard any cards or sections of a card that can’t be used. 

Cut around the template and lay on a flat surface. Make a note of the measurements for each section and then use those measurements to cut out accurate shapes from the cards. Make the side pieces (D) an extra 1cm wider so you can fold them later on. Choose your designs carefully, particularly for sections B, C and both D’s because these will be visible once the bag/box is finished.

Take both side pieces (D) and fold them in half vertically. This will form the crease in the side of the gift bag. Draw two lines at each end, forming a triangle. Use scissors to score these lines.

 Lay all the card pieces facedown and carefully begin to attach them together using Cellotape. Try not to overlap the pieces. Instead allow several layers of Cellotape to join the sides together. The flexibility of the Cellotape will allow all the pieces to fold easily.

 Once all sections are joined the bag/box will begin to take shape. Put Cellotable or glue on tab A and fold it over, attaching the sides together, forming an open ended box. If you are making a box avoid gluing this end tab because it forms the opening of the box; instead just close both ends instead using tabs E, F, G and H.

Close the bottom (and the top if you are making a box) using Cellotape or glue. You now have your gift bag. Fold the sides to make the bag a better shape.

Use the holepunch to make holes for the handles, which you can make from ribbon. I plaited ribbon but this isn’t necessary. Feed the ribbon through the holes or attach with a stapler. 

Note: If you don’t have any ribbon you can use another greeting card to make beads. Draw vertical lines on an opened card – gradually getting wider. Cut along the lines and then roll from the wider end. Use glue or Cellotape to attach the thin end to the coil. This effect creates a bead like shape and you can feed these onto string.

You can tidy up the bag and hide any Cellotape that might be visible by adding extra detail like ribbon or buttons.

Tag – This part is the easy bit. Find a card with something pretty on, cut out the section you want, hole punch just one hole and make a loop using ribbon or string.
Attach the tag to the bag and then all you need is a present to fill it and a greeting card. You can even buy these without leaving the house – just visit a site like Hallmark and get personalised greeting cards to go with your personalised bags!


 And there you have one gorgeous handmade gift bag! I'm so glad Tara decided to share this fab tutorial with us - I hope it inspires some creative pressies this summer :-)

If you want to get in touch with Tara, you can find her on Twitter - Tara West

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Designing Soft Toys

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks... I've been making VW Campervans like there's no tomorrow, which has been fun as I feel like I've pretty much perfected the process now (sod's law says I won't have another one to make for a while now!)

I've also been toying with the idea (you'll get to the pun in a mo!) of trying my hand at designing teddy bears and other cuddly toys (now see it? Sorry!). I started with making a teddy bear from a Funky Friends Factory pattern for my son, who LOVES his 'Bear' as you can see:

Bear now goes everywhere, including to play on Daddy's 'Pooter!

Then a friend asked me to make her one:

And now my daughter wants one... so things are going bear-y well... sorry, I promise to stop with the puns now!

But I've not yet braved designing my own... I will, soon, honest! In the mean time, I'm going to continue to get a feel for how best to get the limbs all together and sewn into the body without an arm & a leg ending up in the wrong place!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Union Jack Swap - Great Minds!

Well, I got home today to find a lovely looking parcel with my name on it:

Inside were these lovely goodies:

What was really funny was that I had sent the following items to Cybele (including a familiar looking brooch!):

Notice anything similar in the two packages??? (Cybele & I had both made each other a Union Jack pincushion, almost exactly the same size!)

The only difference being that because Cybele is Dutch, I put the Dutch flag on the back of her pincushion so she could choose which she wanted to see:

What a well matched pair we were :-)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Jubilee Brooch Tutorial

I hope everyone had a wonderful Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend - we certainly did... we saw friends galore and went to the beach (the fantastic Barry Island, home of Gavin & Stacey's Welsh contingent!) and generally enjoyed being at home & chilling out.

Now a while back you might remember I mentioned I was taking part in the Popular Craft's magazine's Union Jack Swap and as my swap was sent off on Saturday, it should hopefully have arrived by now, which means I'm pretty safe in showing you the tutorial I made for one of the bits - A Union Jack inspired felt flower brooch.

This is the first tutorial I've done, so bear with me!

The materials you'll need are all laid out above (except for the brooch back & the button which I forgot to photograph).

  • Blue felt - 2 X" squares
  • Red felt - 1 X" square
  • White felt - 1 X" square
  • white embroidery thread
  • blue embroidery thread
  • small union jack button (or a suitably coloured button of your choice)
  • needle
  • scissors
  • pins
  • templates (which you'll find at the end of the tutorial)

 Cut out each of the three flower sizes you want to use and pin them onto the squares of felt, the largest flower onto the blue felt, the medium onto the white felt and the smallest onto the red felt square.

Once cut out, layer all three pieces together like this:

Then start sewing, from the back of the blue layer, bringing the needle up in the centre of the red layer (your stitches in the centre will be hidden by the button)
 You then want to sew through all three layers with your thread making the shape of the white parts of a Union Jack flag:

Then you can add your button to the centre of the red layer, hiding your white centre stitches. As those with sharpe eyes will see I've aligned the button so the Union Jack lines up with my white stitches - you don't have to be that OCD unless you really want to!

Then you need to sew the second layer of blue to the brooch (to hide all your white stitches and to add stability) I find the easiest way to do this is to leave the blue square whole and cut round it after sewing. I used a simple whip stitch all the way round:

When you come to a bit where the white layer overlaps the blue, you can just fold back the white petal and sew underneath it, like this:

The back will look like this - you can hardly see the blue stitches as the colour matches up nicely.

The sew your brooch back in place making sure to place it so that when pinned to your top/bag/coat the Union Jack is straight and being careful not to sew through more than just the back layer so your blue thread doesn't show on the front of the brooch:

Then cut round out the flower shape (being careful not to cut too close to your stitches) and voila!:

Here are the flower templates - I used the two templates on the top line and the pointed flower shape:
Flower Templates

This tutorial is for personal use only, please do not sell items made using the templates and please do not reproduce all or part of the tutorial without prior consent. Thank you for your understanding.

If you would like to buy one of these brooches (any colour combination) please visit my Etsy shop.

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