Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Craftfulness

Mend yourself by making things

By Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin

Published by Quercus books

As somebody who is a craft author and maker of many years, when I saw the title and strap line of this book it resonated with me. 

In the introduction the authors, both makers, describe how they realized that craft is their therapy.

‘ Working with my hands to make a thing-whether it’s a sketchbook or a piece of weaving or drawing –fulfils some essential function of me. It feels predestined, it’s a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not having a project on the go. There would be a hole in my life, a sense that there is something I should be doing. When I’m making I am focused, resolved, connected to the work I am shaping. Afterwards I feel refreshed, invigorated even, and always more energetic for what is going on around me. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m making, I can do all the other things being alive requires of me. I equate my daily craft practice with, if anything, meditation.” Azru Tahsin, editor, crafter and one of the authors of this book.

         The co-author Rosemary Davidson describes being surround with materials from which to make as a small child. Her grandmother was a seamstress and so Rosemary had access to beads feather and threads from a very early age.

“When I’m making I have room to think. And to do my daydreaming.” she says.

         Neither woman wishes to set up a business crafting things so they wondered why do they craft. This book comes up with some very plausible of the answers.

         ‘ We make things because we enjoy it and because our crafts make us feel better. It is when we return to our sewing, knitting, bookbinding or weaving that we achieve moments of calm. When our energy is low, making something energizes us. Making reaches into the place where ideas are sparked and where problems are resolved.’

          The authors admit that they are not craft experts, or feel particularly ‘artistic’ in the conventional sense of the word. They both work as freelance editors, but it is by being menders, dabblers and gung-ho experimenters that they are convinced there are health benefits to be had by practicing as often as possible a craft that inspires and challenges.

‘Through making and mending things, we contend that you are also potentially making and mending yourself’.

 The book is divided into three sections. The first, and for me the most fascinating part, explores what is meant by creativity and the importance of craft in our lives. The authors explore the latest research on how working with your hands and making things can have a huge impact on your mental well-being and happiness.

         The second section of the book deals with how to deal with negativity, how to stretch your imagination and flex your fingers.   The final part of the book has a projects section that gives techniques for a number of crafts including weaving on a frame, knitting, drawing making a simple clay pot and darning and mending. There is lots of helpful advise including inspirational web sites and a recommended reading list.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want a fun sewing book with a difference? CHLOE TELLS YOU HOW TO SEW

I have been reviewing practical books for over 25 years and used to review for the magazine Inspirations back in the day. I think it is a pity that books are now sold in the same way as other items, such as clothes and groceries, with a short shelf life. With the Great British Sewing Bee being very much on our minds I think this book deserves a second look, it is fun, practical and original.

Textile artist Chloe Owens http://chloeowens.com/is inspired by all things vintage, and much of her work is made from 1960’s fabrics. She is also a lover of annuals, that she read as a child. Their brightly coloured illustrations, and instructions mixed in with activities, puzzles and games has been a major influence in the design of this book.

Make a headdress – great for a summer festival

Instead of a run of the mill craft book, Chloe has ingeniously made an annual complete with games: follow the thread, strings and needles, lotto.

Cat basket with a difference

 Included are translations of rhyming slang, for example: Bangers- “bangers and mash” (sausages and mashed potato)=cash. As with the best of annuals it has many illustrators, so that each project is almost like a mini book in its own right. Each project starts with a witty heading or a pun, so a reclaimed chair is called ‘The best seat in the house’.

‘She’s a pin board wizard’ pin board is taken from the song of the same name from The Who’s ‘Tommy’ album. Many of the projects are written as if a friend or animal has made them and so they take the comic book form in both layout and story line. The result of all this is a very busy looking, book of fun.

How to re-upholster a sewing box to make a cat bed

I like the way Chloe writes, her instructions are clear and she encourages you to have a go! This is a hip book, full of diverse projects, and lovely photographs by the late Claire Richardson. Projects range from felt biscuits to soft toy animals, a very cute baby dress and some furniture projects and home accessories. Amongst my favourite projects is “A must have for the modern man”, the deluxe felt beard, now with optional moustache. I am not sure if I will be sporting it just yet but when the chilly autumn winds blow you never know.

Make your own winter warmer -a beard

by Chloe Owens  http://chloeowens.com/Published by Cico Books http://www.rylandpeters.com/ourshop/craft at £14.99

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Make your own bathroom shelves using Rust-Oluem paints!

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You will need –

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  1. Ensure the surfaces to be painted are clean, dry and free from grease and contaminants.
  2. Using pliers, remove staples from the outer edges of the boxes.Colour_wash-how_to-2-800x800-1
  3. Give each wine crate a light coat of Rust-Oleum Colour Wash (we used Cloud Blue and Mint Sorbet) and leave this to dry.Colour_wash-how_to-3-800x800-1
  4. Screw the boxes together, alternating colours.Colour_wash-how_to-4-800x800-1

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Turn your old blankets into Christmas Stockings

Make these lovely recycled Christmas stockings from an old blanket or jumper and decorate with easy blanket stitch and pom poms

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You will need

  • Old blanket or jumper
  • Scissors
  • Paper and pencil
  • Pins
  • Pinking shears
  • Tapestry needle
  • Caron Simply Soft yarn in Neon Orange, Neon Green, Neon Pink and Burgundy, £4.95 each
  • Cardboard
  1. Draw a boot shape onto paper and cut out. Fold your blanket or jumper in half, then pin on the paper pattern cut out using pinking shears.
  1. Sew the two boot shapes together around the edges, wrong sides together, using blanket stitch – and remember to leave the top unstitched. There are lots of YouTube videos that teach blanket stitch – don’t worry, it’s easy! Sew running stitch around the top of the boot on both sides.
  1. Make a plait from wool and fold it in half to make a hanging loop. Sew onto the top of the boot on the side with the heel. Make the pom poms (use two doughnut shapes of cardboard to do this, exactly like you remember as a kid!) and attach to the stocking with yarn as a final flourish.

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Create your own pillow cases using liberty fabric

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Liberty lawn is soft beautiful fabric, perfect for a place to lay your head. I have chosen very pretty liberty prints from Sew Box an on line fabric supplier. I bought white and light coloured cotton lace from http://www.craftysewer.com I dyed the lace using http://www.dylon.co.uk hand dyes. However if you don’t want to do this, http://www.craftyribbons.com

have Etienne a French cotton deep coloured cotton lace.

You will need

Liberty lawn from http://www.sewbox.co.uk/

I used

LTL03634042A  Danjo

LTL03632019J Betsy Pink

LTL03633037A Margaret Annie

A pillow -case from which to copy the measurements

Lace

Sewing thread

Tape measure

Dress making pins

Instructions

  1. Measure the pillow-case add 1cm seam allowance to each side.
  2. Measure the depth of the flap and add seam allowance to each side.
  3. Cut a front and a back in one fabric and cut a flap in a contrast fabric.
  4. Neaten one long side of the flap by turning under 0.5cm and the same again, sew with a running stitch.
  5. Sew one piece of trim along the neatened edge of the flap. With right sides together, sew the flap onto one narrow side of the back piece of fabric. Press the seam flat.
  6. Turn under and under again one narrow side of the, pillowcase, front fabric. Press, pin and sew on a piece of lace.
  7. With right sides facing, pin the pillow case front to the pillowcase back so that the front opening reaches up to where the flap is. Sew with a running stitch.
  8. Fold the flap over, where you have just sewn so that the front of the flap faces the wrong side of the pillow front. Pin the sides of the flap to the sides of the pillow and sew with a running stitch. Turn through so that the fabric is the correct way round.

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Repaint and decoupage an old wooden chair

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A boring wooden chair can have new life breathed into it for very little money but lots of imagination, with a mixture of painting, some good photocopied images and a bit of sticking.

You will need

Wooden chair

Paint brush

Photocopy paper

Pencil

Tangerine Twist paint from Dulux 3 x £1 tester pots at B&Q

PVA glue

Paint brush

Sand paper

Scissors

Blue tack

 

Instructions

  1. Sand the chair
  2. Paint the chair and leave to dry
  3. Find copyright free designs on the internet, enlarge and photocopy the designs
  4. Cut out the shapes
  5. Blue tack the images into position on the chair. When you are happy with composition stick into place using PVA glue.
  6. Paint on coats of PVA varnish to give a good finish to the chair.

Tips

Instead of buying new paint, use what you have in the house and mix colours to create something new and interesting. This is a great way of using left over paints.

Before photo –

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Orange Chair Detail copyOrange Chair Back copy

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Create your own African print pouffe

POUFFE

 

I loved the idea of making a pouffe from African batik style fabric. So wacky and at the same time the perfect item to lift the look of a staid room. Batik is very popular in the South West London in areas such as Tooting and Brixton but you can also buy it in markets in the East of London and Paris.

You will need:

African batik fabrics available in London market stalls 2m

Orange fabric for the base 80cm

Calico 2m

Hook and loop tape 1packet

Water-soluble pen

Beanbag filling I large bag

Pins, needles and thread

Scissors

Paper for pattern

Note:

The instructions for the outer and the calico inner bag are the same. I made the outer part first and then the inner. I used 1cm seam allowance throughout.

 

Make your pattern.

  1. The top piece should be a circle with a 25 1/4 ins (64cm) diameter. This includes a 1cm seam allowance. Draw the circle onto paper and use this to cut the top of the lining and the top of the calico liner.
  2. Cut the paper circle in half and add 4cm strip of paper along each straight edge. Use this pattern to cut two bottom pieces for the outer and the calico liner.
  3. The sides of the pouffee are made up from sections that are 13ins (33cm) from top to bottom including seam allowance . The width of each section will depend on the pieces of fabric you have. The finished piece will be about 80in plus seam allowance. The amount of seam allowance will be dependent on the number of panels used.

 

Instructions

1.Use the patterns to cut out all the pieces from the calico and the African Batik fabrics. I used the large motif that was perfect for the top of the pouffe. I decided to piece together lots of different designs to make the side. As the base is not seen, I used some plain orange fabric.

2.First make base with the hook and loop tape opening for the top fabric. On both base pieces turn the straight edge under by 1cm then turn again by 3cm. Sew down, then pin and sew strips of hook and loop tape along both sides.

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3.Press the hook and loop tape edges together then machine sew the ends of the seams closed.

3 sew hook and loop on top of one side and wrong side of other

4.With right sides facing, using a 1cm seam allowance pin sew together the sidepieces.

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5 Press the seams open so you have a continuous smooth side panel.

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6.With right sides facing, pin and sew the sides to first the top and then the base making a drum shape. Turn through the gap so it is right side facing out.

6 pin the sides to the top6 with a running stitch sew the top to the sides.

7.To make the liner, repeat the process with the calico. Put the calico liner inside the fabric cover, then fill with polystyrene beads.

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Tip

Fold and mark the fabric for the top, base and sides into eighths. When you come to pin on the sides, match up the pen marks on the top and base.

 

Stockists

Hook and loop tape, Water Soluble Pen

http://www.korbond.co.uk/ korbond.co.uk/

 

Beanbag Filling

http://www.homecrafts.co.uk/

 

DETAIL

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