A year of embroidery

A few weeks ago I entered a competition from mygirlthursday to win patterns from Lucky Jackson’s ‘365 Lucky Days’ embroidery challenge and unbelievably I won, I never win anything, and I’m so pleased because the patterns are beautiful. I’ve not started making yet having already got four craft projects on the go, but I have started collecting some pretty fabrics in preparation (floral of course).

Lucky has challenged herself to create a hand embroidered art work every day for one year. You can see all her daily creations on her blog. They’re all beautiful, the fabrics, the colours and the style – I’m slightly in awe of the creativity it must take to come up with something different every day; here are some of my favourites!

Images taken from Lucky Jackson's blog


Oxfam - the big bra hunt

This weekend I spent a few hours sorting through my wardrobe, trying to get rid of all the clothes I don’t wear. I’m your typical ‘I’ve got loads of clothes but nothing to wear’ kind of girl and since seeing the gorgeous outfit posts of many a fashion blogger I’ve decided something must be done, firstly by getting rid of the items I will never wear again. I’ll admit this didn’t go particularly well, but I did discover something interesting in the process. So I’ve got a question for you...

What do you do with your old bras?
Sorry if that’s a bit personal, but while I give lots of unwanted clothes to charity I never considered giving them my unwanted bras. Until of course my friend (who I’d rung for impartial advice over the white mini skirt that’s been languishing in my wardrobe since university) mentioned Oxfam’s latest campaign ‘The Big Bra Hunt’.

Basically Oxfam want your unwanted bras- either to sell in their UK stores (I guess lots of others like me assumed bras were a no-go for charity shops) or to send to West Africa, where bras are difficult and costly to manufacture. Women from ‘Frip Ethique’ will then sell the bras at clothing markets, providing a valuable source of income for themselves and providing their customers with difficult to come by bras. All the details are on Oxfam’s website as well as a store locator to help find your nearest donation point.
I’ve found three that will be making their way to my local store this weekend (as well as the white mini skirt) to contribute to the one million that Oxfam hope to receive during April. How many unwanted bras are hiding at the back of your draws?

Image taken from Oxfam's website


Butterfly necklace – a how to

This is a really simple how to, it’s so easy in fact that I got it right first time, which never happens! I actually saw a post about shrink plastic jewellery a while ago and although the end result looked great I was slightly put off by how difficult it sounded. I hadn’t even heard of shrink plastic then, nor did I own the required heat gun (to be honest as an amateur crafter I wasn’t even sure what a heat gun was, could a hair dryer be used? Or the boyfriend’s soldering iron, that gets pretty hot?). But I was determined not to let that stop me. After a quick google it turned out an oven would do the job of a heat gun and I found these shrink plastic sheets on amazon for under £2, bargain! So for that price I figured I might as well give it a go and I’m glad I did!
You will need:
Shrink plastic
Permanent maker
Coloured pencils
Oven pre heated to 175C
Necklace chain
Firstly, decide on a design. I went for a butterfly and printed a pretty design from google images or if you’re feeling really creative design your own! Then trace your design onto the rough side of the plastic using a fine permanent pen. I then used a yellow colouring pencil on some of the design, but could leave it plain if you prefer.

Next cut round the design, if you will be adding it to jewellery hole punch a hole in the top of the plastic (when doing this I was worried that the hole would look too big, but it really does shrink!)

Then line a baking tray with tin foil and place in the centre of a pre heated oven at 175C. The packaging says to leave for a few minutes while it curls up - this only took seconds in my oven, so keep an eye on it! Wait until it lies flat then remove from oven and hold it flat under a book (the argos catalogue is always a favourite with me) for a few minutes.
If you compare with the image above you can see it really does shrink, to less than half its size! You can now attach to a necklace using pliers and a jump ring. I used an old necklace, removed a charm I didn’t like and replaced with the new shrink plastic one, easy!
I love the necklace and have already received a few compliments. What do you think?
I also created another butterfly to use as a decoration for a birthday card, which was very popular too.


Quick fix cupcake decorations

Last week I was asked to bake cupcakes for a party, it was rather last minute and typically during a seven day working week. So I barely had time to make the cupcakes, let alone craft some pretty sugar icing shapes to decorate them. But, in a rush round the local tesco I managed to find some cute Wafer Daisies and Sugar Butterflies from Dr. Oetker. They come in pretty pastel colours and were only a few pounds, I love the mix and match effect of using the daisies and butterflies; perfect for spring!  Next time I need cupcake decorations in a rush I’ll definitely be going back to these, they tasted good and the wafer daisies didn’t go soggy after a few hours, which I was worrying about.

I also discovered a bit of a top tip when icing the cakes. In my lack of spare time I made the icing and then left it in the fridge overnight, knowing I wouldn’t have time to make the icing and decorate them before work. The chilled icing was so much easier to use with the icing bag and seemed to keep its shape much better, has anyone else found this? I think I’ll be doing it that way again!


Inspired by the countryside

Last week I blogged about David Hockey’s latest exhibition and his beautiful collection of paintings from his local area in Yorkshire, it reminded me that one of my resolutions was to explore my local area, particularly the countryside. So on Good Friday I ventured up to Chanctonbury Ring, once an Iron Age hill fort, it’s now known locally for its stunning views across Sussex (although you have to make it up a rather tough hill first!). I love the pictures and will try and go back in summer, autumn and winter to see how the views and trees change.

The walk up...

The view at the top...

I’m also thinking about starting a regular feature with photographs of my favourite local views, what do you think?  


A day in London with David Hockney

On Monday I rediscovered my love for art and painting, thanks to David Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Picture’ exhibition at the Royal Academy. We were lucky enough to book tickets a few months ago (and therefore didn’t have to wait in the 3 hour queue outside) and since I had heard nothing but good things about the exhibition, I was relieved to find the reviews were right. It was brilliant. The exhibition displays a few of his earlier works but the main rooms are filled with landscapes of Yorkshire, mostly created within the last few years. His impressionist style is evident in his series of acrylics, water colours and ipad drawings, which all focus on a particular view of the landscape and how it changes with the seasons, through weather, lighting and nature. All his paintings are beautiful and some are so large they take up an entire wall, so much so that whilst surrounded by trees and fields you almost forget you are in a gallery, you could easily be spending a few hours in the countryside!  

Unfortunately you couldn’t take photos inside, so here’s one from the paper guide and a link to a video of Hockney talking about the exhibition. I’d really recommend it, even with the queuing time but it’s due to close on the 9th April so you’ve not got long!

Whilst in London we also (completely by accident) happened to see the changing of the guards, which felt very patriotic, and had a stroll though St James’s Park, where I felt inspired to take a few photographs of the flowers and trees in the hope of finding the time to start painting again...


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