Monday, 29 July 2013

Felt hamsters

Mollie Makes frequently has really cute small felt animals and I always want to make them but have never had any ideas of what to do with them all before. A few weeks ago I had the idea of making loads of different animals and then displaying them in an old wooden printers tray or something similar. These sweet hamsters were featured in issue 5 of Mollie Makes. I thought these hamsters were so cute and couldn't resist making them first, I love the chubby cheeks of the middle hamster and the cute details like the bow and flower on the others.
I'm now in the process of making felt seal pups and a whole pack of dogs...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Fashion Friday: New season trends A/W 13

The new season collections have arrived and as ever there are a multitude of trends to choose from. Quite often I find I have at least one item of my wardrobe that fits in with a new season trend just because there are so many (trends that is, my wardrobe doesn't fill a whole room!). I know a lot of people say they never keep up with fashion trends because they don't want to end up looking like a fashion victim, but really its hard to ignore them. Most new season trends will filter down to high street stores and you'll find yourself wearing a version of a trend without even knowing. I like to keep up to date to know what's in store for the season. Saying that, I'm never a fan of all trends, so I'll skip over punk, excessive use of feathers and the like here. This is my pick of the best A/W 13 trends, which is your favourite?
Every season without fail there is a new skirt length. The A/W 13 skirt length is just below the knee, most skirt styles qualify but circle skirts are seen in abundance throughout the collections. I think this skirt length and style is so flattering and much more preferable and wearable than last season's minis, sometimes less is not always more.

Antonio Marras
Roksanda Ilincic
This season's colours are blue and pink. Pink comes in all shades but blue focuses particularly on navy. Pink is particularly seductive and feminine when used for woolly outerwear in a pale shade.

Dark florals are seen throughout many collections in different forms this season. Large or small scale prints, whatever type of flower, when set against a dark background you're ready for A/W 13. This is the best way to include florals within your A/W wardrobe, the dark mood fits in perfectly with gloomy winter weather. Undoubtedly my favourite trend of A/W 13,  dark florals have already started to work their way into my wardrobe.

Antonio Marras

Once again, for A/W 13 oversized coats are in, but take this trend cautiously. Although cosy, you don't want to end up looking lost in your coat, the best remedy is to cinch in the waist with a skinny belt. Make a feature of it and use an unusual statement belt. Although I like this trend on the catwalk, I'll be sticking to my classic trench this season.
Antonio Marras

Dolce & Gabbana
You name the style, whatever it is, this season it will likely come highly embellished. Dresses glisten with gems arranged in elaborate patterns, beads overload fabrics and sleek separates include detailed embroidery. These are the kind of garments that are best appreciated up close.


Antonio Marras
Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana

There's a lot of fur scattered around this season, it seems the 1920s influence has not worn off yet. Fur features in many of the collections in a variety of colours and animal prints. A/W 13 sees fur in the form of extravagant fur coats or subtle trims. I personally love a bit of fur trim, particularly fur collars and cuffs on a coat. A word of caution though; go easy on the Dalmatian print fur - remember Cruella De Vil?

Roksanda Ilincic
Nina Ricci

Of course, there are many more trends and many more garments from a wide variety of different designers that include these trends...we are spoilt for choice!

Dior, Mulberry, Roksanda Ilincic, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Nina Ricci images from -
Antonio Marras images from -

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Super sized granny square

In my recent tidy up I cleared off my desk, it ended up looking a lot better because it was so packed full of stuff it wasn't much use for anything. However, I decided that it needed something extra to cover all the bare wood that left the desk looking quite empty. So I super sized the versatile granny square to create an interesting and textured table covering. I added a scalloped crochet edge, which is definitely my favourite crochet edging, I use it on almost everything. I used up some balls of wool I already had in my stash, I always tend to mix cream or white with other colours because I find it pulls together different colours nicely. In this case I used graduating shades of purple starting with the lightest in the middle. I interspersed cream coloured yarn between the purples and added a white border around the edge which I think gives the effect of a lace trim.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Italian holiday

On Saturday night we arrived back from our holiday in Italy. We stayed near Marina Della Lobra which is a small town near Sorrento. We visited quite a few places including Capri, Ravello, Sorrento again and Herculaneum as well as some smaller towns. It was so hot again everyday, although it's not much cooler in the UK at the moment. Marina Della Lobra had a small harbour and a few shops and restaurants and we enjoyed walking the short distance along a coastal path to a little restaurant. We were even given a small complimentary taste of Limcello one night which is a speciality in Southern Italy and was described in a guide book we bought as basically pure alcohol with a lemon taste added and it wasn't far wrong - it was so strong! As I did last year I thought I'd show you the souvenirs I brought back.
Last year I spotted a lovely Venetian glass watch in a jewellery shop in Sorrento but I was unsure about buying it at the time. When we decided to go back to a similar area of Italy this year I knew I had to buy the watch this time. Luckily they still had them and I chose a watch with a silvery blue strap, I love the glass flowers around the face. From Sorrento I also bought a lightweight scarf from a shop called Antica Sartoria, I have been looking for a long lightweight scarf for ages so I can wear it in the Pussybow Knot style as shown in the Ted Baker scarf boutique.
When we were waiting in the airport for the flight home, my sister and I went to look in a clothing shop called Silvian Heach. We thought the clothes would be really expensive as most of the clothing in Italy is but the prices actually weren't too bad and there was a brilliant sale on from which I bought this cardigan. It is very fine and has a beautiful pattern in the knit on the front, it also features a small bow on the back with S and H in diamantes at each end of the bow. The colour is one I wouldn't normally choose but it goes beautifully with many tops in my wardrobe and I like to buy items which are unlike the garments I have already got.

Finally I just had to show you the best holiday snap, it's a bit blurry but I couldn't resist sharing it with you. Italian driving can be a bit crazy - we saw this man riding on his scooter with his dog in Ravello!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Holiday time!

I forgot to say in my post earlier that I'm heading off to Italy tomorrow for a week, so I will be taking a break from blogging for that time. I hope you are all enjoying their summer whatever you are doing and if you are going on holiday have a brilliant time; let me know about what you get up to, I'd love to hear. If you are a jewellery maker you can keep yourself busy while I'm away by making the collar style necklace tutorial I published on Thursday. See you soon, in the meantime enjoy the sunshine!

Fashion Friday: Hello new season Ted

At 12.00 last Wednesday I sat at my laptop eagerly anticipating the start of the live streaming of the Ted Baker A/W 13 collection. If you missed it you can watch the catwalk show here on the new Ted Baker blog. I was not disappointed, as I knew I wouldn't be.
Below are just some of the items from the new season collection, new items keep appearing on the website so keep your eyes on it! I am absolutely in love with the new season prints especially the 'Oil painting' print which is the dark floral print and the 'timeless romantic' print which is the light pink floral print. I also tend to swing towards collections for A/W which include lighter colours, who said you have to wear only dark colours in Winter?
Of course the charm is in the finishing touches, just look at that jewelled collar on the white shirt, could it get any better? If you own any Ted Baker items you may have noticed that on the label there is always a different quote or saying which really defines Ted Baker as a standout label and enforces the brand's own description of themselves as 'no ordinary designer label'. It is these touches that really make me love Ted Baker clothing.
My next Ted Baker investment is the lovely floral print t-shirt and then the timeless romantic print jumper and yes, investment is how I justify buys from Ted Baker! They are investment pieces, so well made, in beautiful fabrics and prints with exquisite detailing. Worth keeping for a lifetime.


 Images from

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tutorial: Collar style necklace

I know I don't get round to doing tutorials very often and I should do more but I never seem to find the time. Either that or I'm halfway through making something and think I should have made a tutorial out of it! So here's a collar style necklace tutorial to make up for it...

You will need:
  • A selection of beads - I used four different types of beads, you will need an even number of each different type of beads plus one for the extender chain if you add this part
  • A charm
  • Pliers - round nose, chain nose, flat nose and wire cutters
  • A ring sizing rod, or something else round
  • 16 gauge craft wire
  • Metal block and hammer
  • Crimps
  • Chain
  • Clasp
  • Silk cord, available from Bijoux Beads
  • Two medium sized folding crimps
  • Jump rings
  • Split ring if you don't add the extender chain
  • Sharp scissors
  • Clear beading thread
Lets get started...

1. Gather all your beads and divide the different types of beads into two groups. String each separate group of beads onto the clear beading thread, leave long tails either end and tie a temporary knot at both ends to stop the beads falling off. Then order the bead strings into length from smallest to longest.

2. Next take your 16 gauge craft wire. I just wanted to recommend this wire to you, I get it from Bijoux Beads, its says tarnish resistant and it actually is, something I have found is quite rare. This is the only brand of wire I buy now. The worst thing is spending hours making a wire work necklace and then finding it tarnishes in a few months, its also great for making your own jump rings and eyepins.
Use a ring sizing rod and the handle of a pair of pliers and wrap the wire twice around the handle of the pliers and once around the ring sizing rod. I chose the smallest size of ring on the ring sizing rod but it really doesn't matter what size you make this part, just do whatever size you think is best.

3. Cut the twice wrapped loops down the middle with the wire cutters, this will be quite tough because of the thickness of the wire.
This should leave you with two smaller loops, you can see in the photo above one side of the loops are higher than the other. Don't worry yet about closing the loops completely, this will mostly get flattened out in the next step.

4. Use a hammer and metal block to flatten the wire rings, the wire will kind of spread out and become flatter. This gives the rings a more finished look and nicer handmade look. It also helps the rings to become stronger.

5. You will be left with two smaller and one larger ring, the hammering may cause the rings to open slightly at the join, you can fix this by gently pushing the sides of the rings towards each other slightly past the point where they should meet. The ends should spring back slightly so they do not cross each other but stay close together. If you have a soldering tool you can solder the join for extra security but its not essential.

6. Take the largest ring and one of the pair of the shortest rows of beading and untie the loose knot at one end. Thread a crimp bead onto the end then thread the end through the ring and then back through the crimp bead as shown above.
7. Then push the crimp right up the ring and pull the clear thread tight. Flatten the crimp with chain nosed pliers.

8. Repeat from step 6 three more times with the other strands of beads remembering to order them in terms of length.
9. Then take one of the smaller rings and repeat steps 6 and 7 with the other ends of the strings of beads. You may need to remove some beads from the strands at this point to ensure the length of the strands is correct. Keep holding the necklace up to judge this so you can see how the strands will hang when worn. Note how many beads you removed from each strand so the other side of the necklace will be the same.

10. Repeat from step 6 for the other side of the necklace remembering to remove the same number of beads as the other side. Now the front part of your necklace is complete.

11. Take the silk cord and cut into four equal lengths of 14cm. Take out two medium folding crimps.

12. Thread two of the lengths of silk cord through one of the smaller rings.

13. Gather the ends of the cord tightly together and place inside the folding crimp, hold this with your thumb nail to ensure the ends don't slip, then fold in the ends of the crimp and firmly flatten with flat nosed pliers.
14. Hold the necklace around your neck to test the length, you can decide if you want to add an extension chain for extra length. I decided I would because I felt the necklace was a bit too short and this way you can change the length of it easily when you want to.

15. If you don't want to add an extension chain you can use a clasp and a split ring and attach these to the folding crimps with two small jump rings (shown open in the above photo). If you add the extension chain you will need the two small jump rings and clasp.

16. If you do chose to add the extension chain you can do this with a piece of leftover curb chain with medium sized links that you will be able to put the clasp through to secure the necklace. Attach this with a small jump to one of the folding crimps.

17. Take a leftover bead and head pin and thread the bead onto the headpin, bend the end of the head pin over as shown.

18. Cut the end of the headpin with wire cutters about half a cm away from the bead.

19. Then use round nose pliers to create a loop with the end of the wire.

20. Open this loop and attach to the end of the extension chain. Attach the clasp with the other jump ring to the other folding crimp.

21. Using a small jump ring attach a charm to the larger ring at the centre of the necklace for the perfect finishing touch.
You are done! I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and enjoy wearing your finished necklace, handmade is always best. As always I will happily answer any questions about this tutorial, so if you need to, leave me a message in the comments below this post. I'd love to see your finished versions, you can contact me with a photo on Twitter, @Made_By_Hannah or if you write a blog send me a link to your post about your completed necklace, I'd love to see all the different colour combinations and bead variations you come up with. Happy making, I hope you are enjoying the summer sun and crafting in your garden as I am!