Friday, 30 May 2014

From Jean Jeanie to Golden Brown - Upcycled Denim Patchwork Picnic Rug

Upcycled patchwork Picnic Rug
One of the articles in the Summer 2014 edition of Creative Crafting magazine is a tutorial I wrote to make a picnic rug or small patchwork quilt from completely recycled materials.

I just love working with pre-loved denim jeans - they are so soft, especially the vintage styles from Levis, Wranger and Lee. But denim is a really heavy fabric and can be difficult to machine quilt in one piece. So it's perfect for a quilt as you go technique such as rag quilting.
Previous denim rag quilt in reds and blues

I made my first denim rag quilt a couple of years ago, combining checked shirts in reds and blues with old jeans. I used a simple chequerboard design, alternating red and blue patches against denim patches cut from jeans in a similar mid blue tone. 

In keeping with the eco theme, I used bamboo wadding - a fantastic soft low loft batting wadding that is so easy to machine and hand quilt. Bamboo is a very eco resource - it grows very quickly and doesn't need the same chemicals as cotton to grow and process.

Perfect for picnics
For this new quilt tutorial, I used the same technique for the central panel. I chose denim for both dark and light jeans this tiime and added patches of recycled sarong fabrics from vintage garments and offcuts from the manufacturing of new sarongs. 

The indonesian batik sarong prints are just gorgeous - traditional floral, leafy and designs in gold, brown, navy, cream and blues. I think they are stunning against the denim.

This time I chose green wadding - made from recycled plastic bottles. Again very easy to quilt, and washes and dries brilliantly - perfect for a picnic rug!  

I decided to add straight solid pieced denim borders made from patches that included some denim seams - giving extra strength to the rug and adding extra texture. And finished off with a pieced binding from more sarong offcuts. 

If you'd like to have a go at making this picnic rug for yourself and would like instructions, you'll find the full tutorial on
the Summer edition of Creative Crafting - you can buy a download or order a printed copy by clicking this link.

So why Jean Jeanie and Golden Brown the post title?  As well as the link to the golden brown sarong prints and the old denim jeans, these were two of my favourite songs from my pre teen years and at college - and I think this quilt is just perfect for those teenage years in between!

And if you fancy buying the original, it's for sale through any of my online shops. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Starlight....Starbright: Sparkling Jewellery from the Craftfest Blue Team

My third blog post showcasing the Blue Team stalls on Craftfest features the jewellery stalls. I wasn't sure what to call this post - I wanted to include sparkling or twinkling, but inspiration was slow in coming.

Then it struck me when I looked at my first jewellery stall - Seren Bach - which is welsh for little star.
Starlight.. Starbright it would be. 

Star Pendant from Seren Bach Silver
This beautiful Star Pendant by Seren Bach Silver is a one off piece - 3 solid silver stars, each with a different finish and highlighted with a sparkling rhinestone.

Seren Bach is located on the edge of the Brecon Beacon National Park - not too far from me on the South Wales coast. I'll have to wave over the mountains.

Each piece is unique and I just love the way the jewellery is photographed on welsh slate.

You can see more of Seren Bach Silver's jewellery by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Pearl and crystal Bracelet from The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen's Freshwater Pearl & Crystal Hand Knitted Bracelet reminds me of the Milky Way.

It is so light and airy and the pearls and crystals glisten and glow just like the stars in our own galaxy.   

You can see more of The Little Red Hen's work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Fire Pendant from Beads Braids and Bows
And of course, although the stars we see in our night sky may appear silver white, there are many different types and colours.

This stunning Swarovski Fire Opal crystal pendant from Beads Braids And Bows reminds me of the Red Giants and of course our own special yellow star - the Sun.

The colours go beautifully together - really warming.

You can see more of Beads Braids and Bows work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Quartz Bracelet from Silvers Nature

This beautiful white and rose quartz bracelet from Silvers Nature looks like it has its own stars glowing from within it, but is really the way the light bounces off the frosted surface.

It reminded me of the moon - which of course lights up our night sky because of the reflection of the starlight from our sun.

I love the un-earthliness of this piece and the little silver purse charm add a really cute finishing touch. 

You can see more of Silvers Nature's jewellery by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

So, I've now shared everyone from Team Blue - check out If I were a child, what would I choose and Beautiful brilliant blues for the other stalls. I do hope you've enjoyed seeing them, as well as browsing the other stalls taking part in Craftfest this May.

You can find all of the Craftfest stalls by clicking on this link to the Creative Connections website.

And please pop back tomorrow for my special post for the CRAFTFest Blog Tour where I'll be doing a giveaway from The Old Button.   See you then.

Friday, 23 May 2014

If I Were a Child - What Would I Choose from Craftfest Blue Team Stalls

CRAFTfest starts tomorrow so here is a previews from a few more stalls from the Brilliant Blue Team.

To celebrate the start our half term, today's theme is If I were a Child - what would I choose ......

Cat Mosaic by Juesaics

What child wouldn't love this stunning cat mosaic from Juesaics in their bedroom or playroom?

The colours are just brilliant, and the cat is simply, yet perfectly, pictured sitting on the wall.  And just look at the yellow sun - hope your half term has some sunny days.

You can see more Juesaics by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Lego Soap from Gifts by Little Miss

I just love lego. Even though my son is now a teenager he still asks for lego in his Christmas stocking - and yes I usually try and get to play with it even though his models get more complicated every year.

These gorgeous Lego Brick Soaps from Gifts by Little Miss are just fantastic - perhaps I should ask for them in my Christmas stocking - it's never too early!

You can see more Gifts by Little Miss by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Ceramic wall plaque by Jelly Bean Pottery

Remember doing pottery at school?  Mine never looked anything as amazing as this.

The colours are great together and I love how the pattern swirls around in loops and make overlapping shapes. 

Just hang up one of Jilly Bean Pottery's fantastic ceramic plaques - they are sure to inspire lots of young artists.

You can see more of Jelly Bean Pottery's work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Beano Notebook from The Shed

Beano - how absolutely spiffing. This fantastic wooden book from The Shed has been decoupaged with images from a vintage Beano comic.

There are lots of pages inside - perfect for drawing, making notes, or even making your own comic - I used to love doing that as a child.

I'm guessing this would be a perfect father's day gift - if the kids can bear to part with it.  

You can see more of The Shed's upcycled and vintage style gifts by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Purple Knitted Hat from Emily's Funky Knits
This gorgeous hand knitted hat is by Emily's Funky Knits. I think the colours are so pretty - I love the graduation from purple through lilac to green - then lilac again. 

And I think the little pom pom flower is really cute. Girls had better watch out incase mum decides to borrow it!

You can see more of Emily's Funky Knits by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Child's Apron from The Old Button

And finally I'd like to share with you one of my apron designs - little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf - I just love this fabric.

Well, I hope you had as much fun browsing these fab makes as I did choosing what to share.There are lots more stalls over at CRAFTFEST- just click on this link to go to the Creative Connections website.

I'll be back tomorrow with some glittering jewellery stalls from the CRAFTfest Blue Team.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Beautiful Brilliant Blues from CRAFTfest

With the spring CRAFTfest event just around the corner, I've been taking a look round some of the other stalls in the same team as me - the Beautiful, Brilliant Blue Team!

There are lots of gorgeous hand crafted makes already filling up the stalls - I've selected a handful of blue themed items from a few of the Blue Team stalls to share today. And if you fancy a look round more of their work, just click on any of the links to take you straight to their craftfest stalls.

Hand crafted trinket box with blue and purple flag inlay
Flag Design Trinket Box by Norfolk Woodcrafts

Oh my goodness, this stunning cherry veneered trinket box by Norfolk Woodcrafts is so beautiful.

The flag design top is veneered with green,blue and purple dyed birdseye maple veneers. The colours are just so vibrant and you can still see the lovely woodgrain. 

You can see more of Norfolk Woodcrafts work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Cola Creations - Blue Pattern Tile Coasters

These beautiful blue pattern tile coasters from Cola Creations remind me of blue delft pottery - gorgeous colours. I just love blue and white.

Each coaster in this set of four has a different design, and is backed with felt to protect your surfaces.

You can see more of Cola Creations work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Bathroom Plaque by Bizzie Me

Next up is this very pretty Butterfly plaque from Bizzie Me.

Hand painted and featuring a little Bathroom sign, this is just perfect for hanging on a bathroom door.

This one is painted in a beautiful blue which caught my eye for the blue themed blog, but BizzieMe can do them in any colour and with any text.

You can see more of BizzieMe's work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Heartfelt - Beach Huts Blue

Because summer is coming and today is such a gloriously sunny day with bright blue skies, I couldn't resist adding in this beach hut canvas from Heartfelt.

The blue felt background is such a striking shade which really sets off the two cute beach huts. And I just love the cute little buttons. 

You can see more of Heartfelt's work by clicking on this link to their Craftfest stall.

Teenagers Reversible Bunting - Recycled Denim and Metal Links

And finally today, while we are on the blue theme - I'd like to share one of my new ideas - Teenagers Reversible Bunting from recycled denim jeans. Each flag is made from denim cut from a different pair of jeans and has gorgeous effects from the fading and original seam stitching.

But this is bunting with a difference - the flags are linked together by metal eyelets and jump rings - you can string them up in your own pattern, including reversing some to show the brown striped fabric on the other side.

I'm hoping to do a tutorial on this bunting later this year.

I'll be back soon with some more stalls from The Blue CRAFTfest Team. Until then, I hope you have a beautiful day.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Only Kids Aloud from Wales debut new song in Cape Town to celebrate 20 years of Democracy

My son is flying back in today from Cape Town, South Africa. He and about 70 other children from South Wales are part of a children's chorus called Only Kids Aloud who were invited to sing with  Bryn Terfel and the Cape Town Opera as part of Africa-UK arts and culture season to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid rule and the establishment of democracy in South Africa.

OKA Chorus delighted to have arrived in Cape Town

They flew out almost a week ago - over 16,000 miles round trip via Dubai - and taking 2 days to get there (and two more to get back). It's incredible how these young people managed to rehearse, meet local children, do a bit of sightseeing, see a load of penguins, chat to local VIPs and the members of the Cape Town Opera.....AND perform brilliantly in two amazing concerts in just 3 days. All with huge smiles on their faces. The resilience of the young!

OKA Chorus outside Wales Millennium Centre
A Wales Millennium Centre programme working with Tim Rhys Evans and Only Men Aloud, the Only Kids Aloud chorus brings together boys and girls aged from 9 to 13 from all parts of Wales.

I love that the chorus is very inclusive - you didn't have to be part of a particular school or performing group - anyone could audition. It didn't matter what style of singing they liked or how experienced they were - some sang a classical song from singing exams or a Welsh traditional song they had learnt through school, while others performed something from a musical, or sang their favourite pop song they had practiced in their bedroom.

Rehearsing with Bryn Terfel in Cape Town
But they all have one thing in common - they love to sing. And sing they do - keeping the Welsh choral tradition alive and kicking. They sing lots of different styles in lots of different languages, including Welsh, English, Latin and Italian, as well as a little Afrikaans for this trip.

The children sang with Bryn Terfel in South Africa, and performed the world premiere of Spirit of Hope - a piece that was specially written by Welsh composer Paul Maelor as a gift from the people of Wales to the people of South Africa.

They will also be singing this at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in July - so I'll get a chance to hear it for myself.

This is the second Only Kids Aloud chorus - my son was lucky to be chosen for the first one too. They performed in St Petersburg, Russia, as well as recording the Welsh contribution to the Olympic Games opening ceremony - remember the kids singing on the beach?

He will be too old to re-audition if they have a third chorus - the children must be under 14 when they audition - but I am really keen to help the chorus continue in future years so that many more young people can come together in song, meet new friends and learn new skills. And maybe have some amazing life changing experiences like this one.

As part of an ongoing fund raising for the Wales Millennium Centre Only Kids Aloud Chorus, I'm doing a Charity Patchwork Quilt that brings together traditional Welsh quilting techniques with patchwork borders inspired by South Africa and Nelson Mandela's fight for democracy.

I'm off now to get down to Cardiff to pick him up. They have had a long and difficult trip back - with some rather dramatic press coverage on their return - Children from Welsh Choir taken ill on Heathrow flight.  All is well - a few children were slightly unwell but they are all now fit to travel and are on the bus home. I'm expecting they'll need a lot of sleep before going back to school tomorrow!