Monday, 9 December 2013

Charity Patchwork Quilt - Only Kids Aloud South Africa Patchwork Project

photo og various Kaffe Fasset striped quilting fabrics

Earlier this year, Cape Town Opera invited the Only Kids Aloud choir from Wales to come to South Africa next April to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of democracy and the end of apartheid. As the world mourns Nelson Mandela, the preparations for next year's celebrations are especially poignant. 

Only Kids Aloud singing Mahler with Marinnsky Orchestra
Only Kids Aloud is an all-Wales children’s choir, sponsored through the Wales Millenium Centre, and working with the Only Men Aloud choir. My son is one of the 70 children, aged from 9 to 13,  from across Wales who were selected from over 400 entrants to form the 2013-14 choir. 

While some of the chosen choir members, like my son, are fairly experienced singers, others are new to singing and performing on a stage, and many have never been away from home before. Only Kids Aloud is a fantastic development opportunity for children from across Wales – “broadening their horizons through performing” as well as encouraging young people to continue the great choral tradition of Wales.   

Only Kids Aloud Choir filmed for Olympic Opening Ceremony

My son was also a member of the previous year's choir who sang in St Petersburg, Russia, and for the London Olympics opening ceremony - an amazing experience for an 11 year old.    

Although the exact details of the South Africa visit haven’t been finalised,  the choir will be singing in two concerts in Cape Town with Bryn Terfel and will be taking a brand new song specially written as a gift for the South African nation. It is hoped they will also visit a township and sing with local young people - but whatever they do, I know they will do Wales proud - bringing the Land of Song to the Rainbow Nation.

Kaffe Fasset fabric for the charity quilt
To help raise funds for this Wales Millenium Centre project, I am designing and creating a patchwork quilt that brings together elements of both Wales and South Africa. 

I am still working out the pattern - but it it will be an unique one off design in at least a large lap size. 

I've already bought the fabric - I'm intending to use these glorious Kaffe Fasset African Stripes fabrics around a strong geometric central panel that will feature hand quilted motifs based on traditional Welsh quilting patterns.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Old Button Swop Number 3 - Glaspirations and Stitchers Anon

Earlier this year I took part in a crafting blog tour and decided my post would be a call for crafters to take part in a swop. I had interest from lots of really talented craftpeople from jewellers to patchworkers to painters.  And they work with such gorgeous different materials too including wool, vintage silk, felt and glass.

Today is the story of two crafters from two Celtic nations very close to my heart - Glasspirations from North Wales and Stitchers Anon from Ireland. 

Red and green christmas tree glass dish by Glasspirations
Christmas tree glass dish by Tracey for Gaynor
Tracey from Glasspirations created this stunning Christmas Tree fired glass dish for Gaynor. 

Gaynor said she loves anything made from the heart and this little trinket dish certainly fits that brief. Tracey had to do a number of firings to create this beautiful dish - I just love the sparkly green of the tree and the fine gold garland. 

I think it really works with the red and white candy cane background and the little gold flecks are like a golden snow storm. 

Gaynor just loved her glass dish and I know how she felt. I bought myself some of Tracey's glass last year  - a black and white soap dish - and I can honestly say is is beautifully created and arrived so nicely packaged.

Glasspirations Butterfly Coasters

You'll find loads of lovely gifts for yourself or a loved one on Glasspirations website - I just love these stunning butterfly coasters. 

And if you want to find out more about how Tracey creates her fantasic pieces, have a look at the Glassy Lady's blog.  You can also find Glasspirations on Facebook and on Twitter

Green and Red Christmas Tree Patchwork Runner by Stitchers Anon
Christmas Runner from Gaynor to Tracey

For the return swop Gaynor from Stitchers Anon made this beautiful Christmas wall hanging or runner for Tracey.   

Originally from Zimbabwe, Tracey loves cats and green and gets her inspiration from nature. 

Gaynor pulled together some gorgeous christmassy prints to make this stunning patchwork piece. The centrepiece is a lovely green Christmas tree on a strong red and green background. I love the way Gaynor has added the nordic style borders - they frame the centre beautifully and the trees and leaves add to the nature theme.  

Tracey was thrilled with her gift, which can be used either as a table runner or as a wall hanging - Gaynor cleverly added two triangular pockets on the back for a wooden rod or wire hanger. And she popped a cute crochet robin too in the parcel too. 

Gaynor is talented in loads of different craft areas - she loves to knit, cross stitch, embroider, quilt, sew, draw and paint, write and now designs cross stitch charts. Wow! You can see just some of her creations from 2013 on Stitchers Anon blog as well as find some gorgeous ready made Christmas stockings for sale. 

And if you or someone you know loves cross stitch, you can find lots of designs on Stitchers Anon blog or Facebook page. 

Many of the charts are free for personal use although Gaynor also sells some patterns such as this lovely Christmas scene. They would make fantastic Christmas gifts. A percentage of each sale goes to cancer support and research charities. 

I'm sure you'll agree that both Gaynor and Tracey both designed and created fantastic swop gifts for each other. And I'm just really amazed that they both came up with a Chritsmas Tree design withought knowing the other was doing the same. Obviously perfect swop partners.   

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Old Button Swop Number 2 - Beaded Bazzar and Pat (A Craftfest Christmas Blog Stop)

As Craftfest starts, it feels a little surreal to be the first stop on a Blog Stop again.  Earlier this year I was the Stop Number 1 Creative Crafting Blog Tour.  And here I am first stop on Craftfest Blog Tour. Not sure why I'm number one again - maybe I was the first to put my hand up, or maybe it was luck of the draw. It certainly wasn't alphabetical as The Old Button usually comes somewhat down that list. Whatever the reason, I'm delighted as I can tell you the story of the Old Button Swop journey. 

Logos of Blog Tours

My Creative Crafting blog stop in August was all about The Old Button Swop - asking if crafters wanted to be paired up to swop hand-crafted makes with each other. It was a great journey - I had lots of interest from some old crafting friends and some new ones, and in the end I had a few pairs of talented crafters all signed up.

Long blue and clear glass bead necklace with silver cats.
Beaded necklace by Joy for Pat
Not sure if it is coincidence or some very clever planning on my part, but one of the ladies featured in this Craftfest Blog Stop is Joy - who is the fabulous Craftfest Red Team Leader and I'm in the Red Team this time! 
Joy from Beaded Bazaar made this gorgeous necklace for Pat who lives in California. Pat loves anything British, cats, antique, Victorian things, pastels or darks.  

Well I think this Victorian style pastel necklace with beautiful beads and cute little silver cats sure hits the spot. And Pat thinks so too - she loved it. 

And just look at the pretty wrapping too. Beautifully gift wrapped.   

Beaded Bazaar on Wow Thank You

Of course as a Craftfest Team Leader, you'd expect to find Joy on Craftfest - where she showcases some of her necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and jewellry sets, including this fabulous Wood Paper and Acrylic Bead Necklace which is available for sale through Beaded Bazaar's Craftfest stall

Joy also takes commissions to create something based around your ideas.  You can see more of her work at Beaded Bazaar on Wow Thank You and you can find out what she's up to by liking her Facebook page or following her on Twitter.

Joy is a tireless promoter who supports lots of Craftfesters - newcomers and old hands alike - on the Creative Connections forum pages as well as sharing hundreds of pictures and links each week for many crafters on the Creative Connections Facebook page. I really don't know how she does it all.  

One snowflake and eight heart decorations
Christmas decorations by Pat for Joy

Joy's swop partner was Pat - one of two swop crafters from the US. Joy had said she loves surprises but if Pat needed inspiration, she loves traditional Christmas colours at Christmas. So Pat made Joy a lovely collection of hand made Christmas decorations in stunning red and white.   

White crochet snowflake with red seed beads
The beautiful crocheted snowflake is in really snowy white and is edged in tiny red seed beads - a perfect touch for Joy who loves beads. 

Red felt heart Christmas decorations

And the cute little red felt hearts have been decorated with hearts, dots, wreaths and little branches. 

Perfect traditional Christmas colours. And Joy was delighted with all her little decorations.

Pat isn't on Craftfest so I can't share any more of her hand crafted makes with you. But as you can see from these lovely gifts, she really enjoys her crafting.   

So two very happy ladies. Another very successful swop. 

Next time I'll be telling Tracy and Gaynor's story.

And earlier this month I told you the story of Kristen and Helen who swopped a pair of hand knitted gloves and an arts pastels carry case - you can read their story here - The Old Button Swop Number 1 - Pastelesta and Strombolitwo

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Old Button Swop Number 1 - Pastelesta and Strombolitwo

Earlier this year, I was the first stop on the first ever Creative Crafting Blog Tour which linked together a whole host of crafters on a 16 day non stop tour.

For my blog stop, I decided to host a craft Swop and invited crafters to sign up - I would pair people up and they would swop hand-made gifts - and I would share the stories and photos with you. You can read all about The Old Button Swop on my blog tour post.

There was lots of interest and in the end I received full details from 7 great crafters,and with me too, that made 4 pairs. So without further ado - here is the first of the swops!  Pastelesta and Stombolitwo. Two great names that sound amazing together - and I did do the pairing randomly, honest!

Fingerless knitted gloves for Helen from by Kristen
Kristen from Pastelesta made these fantastic fingerless knitted gloves for Helen.  Helen had said that she loves textures, natural & found, cats and wild critters, Islamic patterns, Istanbul and Italy, by the sea.

I love how Kristen combined some of Helen's favourite things into these gloves - the gorgeous sea-green colour and wave design combined with the lovely texture of the natural wool.  Helen was delighted with her lovely gloves - saying they would be very useful.

Pastelesta on Etsy

Kristen is a very talented artist and paints portraits of of pets or people in pastel or pencil. 

Helen's parcel also included a couple of Kristen's card prints - like this lovely print of a Siamese cat, which is available for sale at Pastelesta on Etsy.

As well as a range of ready printed cards, notelets and prints, you can also commission a portait of one of your loved ones or pets. You can find out more about Kristen's work by liking Pastelesta on Facebook.

Art Pastels Carry Case for Kristen by Helen
For her return swop, Helen from Strombolitwo made Kristen a brilliant art pastels carry case.

Kristen's thought her swop was beautiful and she loved the little roses, saying it was very thoughtful of Helen to think of making her a pastel carrier.

As well as recognising Kristen's passion for art, Helen also picked up some things that inspire Kristen - the lovely natural texture of the fabric and the retro style roses made from vintage kimono silk.
Strombolitwo on Etsy

Through Strombolitwo, Helen designs and makes exclusive and individual accessories for men and women from upcycled vintage kimono silk.

As well as beautiful cases and purses like this treasure clutch purse that is available to buy at Strombolitwo on Etsy, Helen's designs include necklaces, men's ties and mobile phone covers. 

You can find out more about Helen's work by following Strombolitwo on Twitter.

And you can also see more of Pastelesta and Stombolitwo at Craftfest - a virtual craft extravagaza  which you will find at Creative Connections between the 16th and 23rd November 2013.

I am so pleased that both Helen and Kristen both enjoyed making and receiving their lovely swop gifts. In my next post, I'll share the stories of swop partners Joy and Pat.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Something Old....Something Blue - a Get Crafty Wedding Challenge

Wedding heart made from bluebell coloured indian silk and cotton guipure lace
Something Old.... Something New
This month is the 18 year anniversary of starting to make my wedding dress. A weird date to share I know, but it's all in a good cause.

I was asked to make something for a Design Team challenge with the theme of weddings. So, I'd decided to make a wedding heart using the traditional wedding rhyme as my theme.

"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in your shoe."  

Something old was easy - I used left over fabric offcuts from my own wedding - many years ago.  The floral lace was from my dress - I used this gorgeous guipure lace as an overlay to my bodice - and as it is slightly stretchy, it worked really well when I over-stuffed the heart to give it a really plump look. Around the outside of the heart, I hand sewed a remnant of the simple cotton lace trim I'd used to hide the machined hem of my dress - (I didn't feel I could cope with a blind hem as it had a huge train!)

I managed something new by using new stuffing, and something blue was simple too. I made the heart out of the lovely bluebell Indian silk I used for the bridesmades dresses - it is a really unusual shade - it was a perfect match for the blue dress worn by my mum but came out rather more lilac in the photo album we had printed! I nagged the photographer to double check her originals but had to admit defeat when all my friends' photos had the same colour.

But I really struggled with the other parts of the rhyme - something borrowed and the silver sixpence

I had worn a silver sixpence in my shoe - it was special - a coin dated with my own birth year that I'd borrowed from a friend. But I'd given it back and although my son had a sixpence in his coin collection, he point blank refused to let me have it for this project. Scuppered.

So thinking laterally, I used one of the silver buttons from the waistcoat I'd made for my soon-to-be husband. It looks a little like a silver sixpence, and you could say I "borrowed it" as I doubt I'll be sewing it back on!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Goodbye to Summer (Blog Tour)

Yesterday was the end of this summer's Blog Tour. I've been following the bus as it tours round some really talented makers.

I'm really sad it is all over but it was brilliant to see so many fantastic crafty blogs - I shall be popping into regularly to find out what they are up to.

Thank you so much Anna at Creative Crafting and we are looking forward to the next one!

So picking up from where I left off last time, here is a run through of the last week at the Creative Crafting Blog Tour. If you've missed any of the earlier stops,  I've listed them all on last week's post.

First up is a fabulous Christmas story on from Lilly My Cat - had a cute little Scandinavian Christmas Elf tutorial. I'm just itching to make one.

On to the next - Amanda Addison - and its back to summer. or should I say spring - with a great Tulip Crazy Craft Competition. I'll be having a go at this too!

Ok, so maybe I won't be having a go at what Cassiefairy is up to. Not that I don't want to - I'd really really love one - but I've nowhere to put a refurbished vintage caravan workshop! Wow - what a project - I'll be keeping an slightly green eye on her progress.

Next up was Bridgit's Bell with some gorgeous little peg dolls all dressed up in lovely wool felt. And guess what, she got some great little Kings and Angels - just perfect for Christmas!

Which brings us to yesterday's blog stop. Silent Companions little bears are pretty gorgeous when first made. But wait until you see how they insist on having their own personalities.....

Well, that is it for this time. I'm off on a little holiday and am looking forward to a bit of sun, relaxation and inspiration.

Before I go - I haven't forgotten my Christmas swop from my own Blog Tour post. If you've signed up, can you message me on my Facebook page so I can contact you easier when I get back. Don't worry if you are not on Facebook - I'll pick you up from your blog or google account.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Creative Crafting Blog Tours - I'm running for the bus

Hiya all. I thought August was supposed to be a quiet month. You know - wind down, enjoy the lovely weather, catch up on some reading. And do some sewing!

No chance - my day job is really hectic. A public finance accountant by background, in recent years I've got involved in developing the skills of finance staff working in the NHS in Wales and I'm getting more involved in some wider public sector staff development projects with local authorities, police and fire services and Welsh Government.

I'm in the middle of developing a website for finance staff development and I'm looking at using social media - twitter, blogging etc - to find better ways of getting the students and younger members of staff involved. Can I say a huge thank you to everyone who is a part of the Creative Connections community - all the IT & social media promotion skills I learned helpoing out at Craftfest are paying huge dividends in my new role.  

Creative Connections logo for Blog Stop Tour
So, between work commitments, holiday visits to family, auditions for the kids and a couple of big commissions, I've barely had time to enjoy the fantastic Creative Crafting Blog Tours.

Well, today is a ME day. I'm going to make some aprons and start on some Christmas makes. And order some fabric for patchwork quilts I'm going to make in September. But before then, I've been catching up with the blog stops I missed. I've had a great couple of hours - there are some great stories and lots of offers and giveaways - which I think are open until the end of August.

If like me, you've missed a couple, the list so far is - in reverse order ...... (just click on the name to go to the blog.)

  Pastelesta - amazing drawing of German Shepherd dog and a giveaway

  Berrybakewell - fantastic crochet tutorial and a giveaway

  Beaded Bazaar - gorgeous new jewelry ideas and a giveaway

  Personal Space Interiors - great picnic accessories, a delicious fruit flan recipe and a discount voucher

  Arlenes Crafts - brilliant embroidery app update and a giveaway

  Glasspirations - beautiful fused glass hot off the kiln - and a giveaway
  Stitchers Anon - clever cross stitching and lots of giveaways

  Vicky Myers Creations - great recycled shirt drawstring bag and giveaway

  Susses Spindehjrne - huge love of spinning and a giveaway

  Loopys Place - pretty recycled bag tutorial and a giveaway

Close up of embroidered felt snowman by The Old Button
Detail from Christmas Stocking by The Old Button

My own blog stop was Blog Tour Number 1 - back on the 1st of August where I suggested the idea of a Christmas Swop - where crafters would be paired up and make each other a gift that showcases their talent and skill.

I have had loads of interest which is really exciting. I am currently making a list (and checking it twice) and will be in touch with everyone shortly to get contact details from you and give you the info you need to get started.

I was originally looking for up to 10 swappers - which we've got - but I'm happy to add on a few more - so don't feel you've missed the bus. Either comment here or on the original post.

So now I've caught the bus up, I'm looking forward to reading more blog stop posts over the next week or so. Hope you can join me. You can find out where the other stops are on Creative Crafting Blog Tour list or check out Joy's daily status updates on Creative Connections Facebook page.

PS Accountants in the NHS are nothing like those nasty creatures portrayed on the TV programmes such as Casualty. We do a brilliant job trying to balance getting the best value from the public purse at the same time as helping clinicians provide the best care for patients. OK, off my soap box now!

Picture of child actor Ioan Lloyd appearing as Sam Turner in Casualty TV programme
Ioan Lloyd as Sam Turner in Casualty

PPS - I've nothing against Casualty - I love it. In fact my son even appeared on it a couple of years back. If you fancy taking a look, you can watch a short video clip by following this link.
BBC Casualty Series 25 - Deception

Although I'd love it more if they offered him another job........

Bring back Miriam Turner .... and her step grandson!