Saturday, 25 July 2015

Unashamedly Self Promoting Post......A New Blog Endeavour

Hey everyone.  Yes, I am here to unashamedly plug my new Blog, lol.  But don't worry, my Crafting Blog is still here and will stay here until someone tells me to clear off, lol.  I'm not giving up on Crafting, even if this blog has seemed a little sparse lately.  But I do have some Craft Giveaways coming up shortly.  I have them all sorted and bagged up, ready for me to take photos of the goodies to show you, or should I show the goodies in a video?  Any preferences?  Either way, that's all I need to do and then I can get them posted up here.

Anywhoodles, I digress.  My new Blog is just me, writing......silly stuff.......serious stuff....ok not-so-serious stuff, I can never be truly serious, random thoughts, daft stories and adventures......and whatever else comes into my noggin.

I know a lot of you are just here for Crafting and I appreciate each and every one of you and that's perfectly ok if you only like my crafting.  There is no pressure or obligation to join this new blog, honestly.  But if you just so happen to like my writing style and think you could stomach a bit more of my waffling, be it random waffling and not craft related, well then you might like my new Blog.  It's called "Random Ramblings of a Cynic".  Just click on the name or HERE and it will take you straight to my new and random Blog.

If you would like to follow, I'd love to have you.  Please don't expect too much of me though, teehee.  I am not a writer, I just enjoy doing it, lol.  And just because I enjoy doing it doesn't mean I'll be any good at it either, lol.  I may tell silly stories or discuss random thoughts that just spill out of my head.  I may engage you in a good debate or ask for your feedback on a specific subject or problem.  If a subject is more adult themed (nothing saucy!!) and I think I need to give notice, it will be in BIG LETTERS at the start of the Post.  But I doubt there will be much Parental Guidance recommended, lol.  But the main emphasis of this new Blog is just to have FUN!  I have silly stories to share, a sometimes strange life and stranger brain in which my points of view and thoughts are a little, shall we say.....skeewiff sometimes.  You might like how I write, think, describe things.......or you might hate it and want to shake me into normality.......and good luck trying, teehee.  But I hope that the new Blog is a place where we can engage in some good conversation, sit and relax and have a cup of tea/coffee (whisky?) and laugh together at my latest and greatest antics or skewed points of view on whatever topic I have on my mind.

Now, at the moment there is only my opening "Hello" post.  But I have more posts in the pipeline but my Hello is there to get you started and give you an idea of what I might write, what my writing style is sort of like and a taster of what hopefully is to come.  I can't promise I'll write every week or even every month.  But I promise I will write and hopefully be as engaging and entertaining as I can muster.  I hope to see you there.

Toodles Noodles......Lee aka Crafty Loops xx

Friday, 19 June 2015

Hilary's Craft Competition 2015 - My Handmade Rag Doll Entry

Rag Doll hand made and designed by Crafty Loops, June 2015
A bit more detail of the dress, with the rag doll's hair behind her shoulders
Look at her pretty wee dress as she's standing.  So cute.

Isn't the wee dress pretty?  The fabric is called Daisy Pistachio from Hilary's.
Hey Folks.  When Hillary's recently contacted me and asked me would I like to take part in their Craft Competition I of course said yes.  How could I not?  Just take a look at that fabric I was given to make my project with, its called Daisy Pistachio.  So of course I said yes.  If you'd like to read about the Competition please click HERE.

As you all know, I haven't been sewing long.  In fact, since I've had my sewing machine, this project will be my 3rd sewing machine project ever.  So I'm a little nervous to say the least.  So, I sat thinking long and hard about just how I could do this beautiful piece of fabric justice.  And then I thought....."AH HA!".....I have been wanting to make my Auntie Fiona a fabric doll and when I saw the fabric I'd chosen from Hilary's, I knew it was the perfect fabric for this doll.  There is a story behind this gift so bare with me, lol.

When I was around 10 years old, my Auntie Fiona decided to leave our little corner of Northern Ireland for pastures new in Malta.  To say I was going to miss her was an understatement.  It broke my little 10 year old heart.  My wee Mammy and I went to her apartment to help pack up her things.  She gave me her black and white posters from her bedroom wall and asked me to "look after them" for her.  When her apartment was pretty much all boxed up, we sat on her living room floor, picnic style having ordered a takeaway from around the corner.  I remember that night vividly, right down to the plastic red topped salt shaker my aunt had to borrow from the Chinese Takeaway as she had no salt left in her apartment, lol.  Well, the time came for my Aunt to leave Northern Ireland and off she went to begin her new life in Malta.  I wrote to her every few weeks and when it came to her birthday, I wanted to make her something special.  Now remember, I was probably only 10 years old at this stage, I didn't have a sewing machine and certainly didn't have any sewing skills at all.  But I decided to make her a Pot Pourri Doll.  Yes, you read that correctly, a pot pourri doll, lol.  I basically took a piece of fabric, cut and hand sewed it into some form of doll shape and stuffed it full of smelly Pot Pourri.  It wasn't a very pretty looking thing, needless to say.  But, being a 10 year old little girl, I was so pleased with it.  I wrapped it up, placed it in an envelope and off I went to the Post Office to send the little Pot Pourri doll on its long journey to Malta.  Of course, with it being a lumpy bumpy smelly thing in an envelope, Customs were a bit suspicious about the package and opened it up to make sure I wasn't sending anything dodgy, disguised as a handmade doll, lol.  Anyway, it eventually arrived with my aunt who was so delighted with it.  She phoned me to let me know it had arrived and how much she loved it.  Of course, I was so overjoyed and beaming from ear to ear.  Obviously years went by and the little doll never really entered my head again.  I assumed that after a certain amount of time passed, that the doll would have eventually lost its pot pourri smell and sooner or later would have made its way into the bin......after all, its was a dodgy hand sewn doll stuffed with Pot Pourri, lol.  But, that was not the case.  Many years later when my Aunt decided to leave Malta and come back home, there she was on a flight home with her young daughter, her luggage........and the Pot Pourri doll I had made her.  That doll is now 25 years old, and to say it is in a bit of a state would be putting it politely, lol.  But she had kept it all those years, even though it is a little worse for wear now.

Here is a photo of the now very old 25+ year old doll that I made, way back when....
Anyway, I thought it was time for a doll upgrade so decided I wanted to make my Auntie Fiona a new doll to replace the one I had made her all those years ago.  Hopefully this doll will be made a little better and won't be filled with smelly old pot pourri or have a strange odour to it, lol.  Thanks to Hillary's, I have been able to make my aunt a much more appropriate looking doll, that doesn't contain 25 year old, mouldy Pot Pourri, lol.  Here is what I have created, using the beautiful fabric provided to me by Hillary's.  I hope you like it and I certainly hope my aunt likes it too.
In order to repeat history to a degree, I felt this doll had to be entirely made by me from scratch, just like the good ole days.  So no pre-made template or ready made doll body was used.  I made everything myself.  I drew a quick sketch of the dolls body on some good old printer paper.  I cut out the doll shape and this became the template for my dolls body and dress.  I pinned the template to some soft, buttermilk type fabric I had in my stash and cut out my doll shape, leaving a bit of room around it for seam allowance.
Once I had the basic doll shape cut out, it was just a matter of putting the doll together (she says like some sort of expert....Puhh!).  I sewed around the perimeter of the torso and limbs, leaving a sizeable gap unsewn so I could stuff the doll with doll stuffing.  I used a straight stitch as well as a zig zap stitch to help prevent fraying as the material from my stash tended to fray.  So I wanted the stitching to hold up well once I stuffed the doll, etc.
It's Aliveeeeeee!  Well, nearly, teehee.
I stuffed the doll with the toy stuffing and closed up the gaps.  I then sewed the arms and legs onto the doll.  She is already beginning to take shape.  Isn't she pretty?
Now for the fun part. Dressing the doll.  Remember the rough template I drew for making the doll?  I used it for making the doll's dress....no patterns here people.  Remember......I'm a very big novice to sewing, lol.  Obviously because the doll has mass and volume and a great big wad of stuffing in her, the template was going to be a bit too small.  So I simply added a few inches to the initial template and it worked out great with a bit of clever adjusting.  I cut the lovely Daisy Pistachio fabric that Hilary's supplied me with and whizzed it through my sewing machine.  I gathered the dress in at the waist to give it a bit more shape and volume.  I kept the front of the dress pretty flat with the sides having the volume from the gathering.
I added this lovely gold trimmed lace and gold ribbon from my stash to embellish the dress.  I think the gold colour really compliments this Daisy Pistachio fabric from Hilary's.
And of course, no dress is complete without some bling.  The green belt bling is actually an earring that I had in my stash.  I think I bought it from Primark's.  The little bling around her neck was another stash staple.  You might be able to just catch the glistening gold in the lace trim. The dress was so much fun to make.  This fabric is so playful and colourful.
Now, the big job......the dolls hair.  This was the most time consuming part of the doll but honestly, it was completely worth it in my opinion.  Boy was that a big job though.  Each strand was hand torn pieces of fabric as I wanted that frayed look on the 'hair strands', rather than straight cut, regimented lines.  I wanted this Rag Doll to look, well, raggy. I also added various beautiful narrow laces and trims to add texture and interest to the dolls hair.  I had to hand sew each and every little bundles of the hair onto the dolls head in rows.  I think there is around 4-5 rows of hair with about 6-8 bundles of hair (maybe more) in each row. 
The hair is so big, raggy and textured.  I think it looks gorgeous.  But you can tell me what you think.  Sadly the photo isn't showing all the layers of laces and trims.  But I added gold, green and grey eye-lash trims to match the colours in the fabric.  It's layered throughout the hair and is stunning when looking at it in real life.  Sorry I couldn't pick that up better in the photos.
And then the pretty little face.  I used some Mica Powders to give her little blushing cheeks.  Every little rag doll needs blushing cheeks, lol. The rest as you can probably tell, was badly drawn on by me, lol.
A photo of the completed Rag Doll with her hair down around her face.
And a photo with her hair behind her shoulders with a nice clear view of the pretty Daisy Pistachio fabric dress in all its embellished glory.
And the doll is complete.  A special thank you to Hilary's for kindly asking me to participate and for sending me such pretty fabric to play with.  The Competitors entries are really incredible and so professional looking.....and then there is my wee rag doll, lol.  The final will be down to 10 entries and then through Social Media and a decision made by Hilary's Competition Judges, the Winner will be announced.  So, if I'm lucky enough to make it to the final 10, I may need your help to get me some votes by Pinning, Liking and sharing through Social Media.  However, I have to get to the final 10 though and the entries from everyone else are amazing. The competition is pretty tough and my sewing skills are pretty limited, teehee.  But I can only keep my fingers crossed, lol.  Have a look here to see all the Competitors entries.  Wish me luck!

Toodles Noodles.......Crafty Loops (aka Lee) xx

Friday, 29 May 2015

Guest Book Wedding Album



I am the worst kind of person.....to quote a certain English accented toodler called Stewie (all Family Guy fans will know.....if you truly are a fan, lol).  My Brother is married almost 2 years and I STILL haven't showed everything I made for his Wedding.  I'm terrible.  But because I had so much to make and as you know, when it comes to weddings a lot of things are left pretty much to a week or a few days beforehand, I was a little under pressure.....and Numb-nuts here forgot to take detailed photos of everything made to share on her blog.  Sure I took some fleeting photos just before they were about to leave my door....but really Lee, what kind of a Blogger doesn't take proper blog photos?  I've disappointed myself...tutt, tutt, tutt!  I am such a numpty.

Whilst I tried to salvage photos from here, there and everywhere, I wrote a post with everything I used for the Wedding with links to where I bought everything.  But I didn't have all the proper photos.  The post ended up being pretty long because I did everything paper related for their wedding and I didn't want to bore you all with my ramblings, especially considering I didn't take decent photos.  Oh and yes, his Wedding Invitations were gorgeous if I do say so myself.....did I take proper photos that weren't done in the spare of the moment?  No, of course not.  But I will try and sort something out to show you those soon.  In the meantime, I may show bits and pieces every so often to show you the items I actually do have photos for, even if they aren't the best quality **Smacks oneself on the forehead**.

I made the Guest book for their wedding and this is how it turned out.
I was overjoyed with the Guest Book.  I think it turned out so well.  Karen didn't want anything too plastered or over the top girlie.  Just elegant and modern.  I think I achieved that ok.  After much Pinterest browsing for some inspiration, this is what I made for them. Sorry you can't quite make out the colour, but that embossed card is a deep purple colour.  I used my Zutter Bind-It-All to bind the book using Antique Gold coloured 3/4 inch O-wires.  
This purple card and embossing folder was used throughout the Wedding Stationery and other items (using Sizzix Swirly vines with hearts embossing folder) and Ivory pearlescent paper with a hint of gold in it.  I printed the purple hearts motif to either side of the "Guest Book" section, as that motif was also a running theme throughout the Wedding Stationery.  This was covered with white Bookbinding Skivertex.
The inside page was simple and again kept to their colour (deep purple & gold) scheme and heart design.  Again I'm sorry the colour is so bad on the photos.  I used the same deep purple cardstock from PDA card and crafts. I decided not to add gems or pearls to the corners of the inner page's thank you note as I didn't want them restricting the albums ability to close properly or making pearl sized dents on the cover page, so the inside cover was not embellished at all.
I added this beautiful Guipure lace down the side, along with some flat backed pearl trim.  I added all the individual flat back diamontes onto the front of the book also.  Although they were self-adhesive, I was aware that this book would be handled a lot throughout the wedding day and beyond. So I didn't really trust the self adhesion on the diamontes.  Therefore, I added a little bit of Glossy Accents to them also and those gems were going nowhere, lol.
 To protect the first writing page from smudges or marks, I added a piece of light purple vellum to the book.
Again the Guest Book carried on the heart theme and the same font was used throughout the wedding.  I kept the actual book very simple with plenty of pages and lines for people to write on.  The pages are actually 300gsm super smooth cardstock which was nice and sturdy to write on.  I want this book to last.
And as always, that's it from me folks.  Apologies for only showing the Wedding items now.  But I will eventually get around to showing everything.....or as much as everything as I can manage to salvage from rough and ready photos, lol.  Any questions, just give me a shout.

Toodles Noodles......Loops (aka Lee) xx

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Ruby Slippers Video Tutorial


It's an oldie but a goodie.  You know those days when you are randomly going through your laptop, looking at old videos and photos and then you come across a half edited video from 3 years ago that you forgot to post?  No?  Is that just me?  Well, that is what happened here.  I forgot to post the tutorial on how I made these Ruby Slippers shoes.....almost 3 years ago.  So without further ado.....and waffling much more, because it could end up being another year before this is posted.....here is the video of how I created a pair of ruby slippers for my wee Skin and Blister (that's good ole Cockney rhyme for Sister).



And as always, that is it from me today Folks.  Hope to see you around my Blog neighbourhood soon.  Any questions, please leave in the comment section below and I will do my best to help you.

Toodles Noodles.......Loops (Lee) xx


Sunday, 26 April 2015

Just because it's handmade, doesn't mean it's cheap

This is going to be a bit of a different post.  I have no creations to share, no crafty altered project, new flowers or new sewing items to share.  This post is in support of all creative people out there and a little "heads up"so to speak to all non-crafter's that request we make something for them.

Now don't get me wrong, there was no incident that lead me to write this post.  I haven't been given an unreasonable request or asked to make anything for someone.  It is just something I have been thinking about lately, particularly since I've become really interested in sewing lately and was glued to my laptop watching The Great British Sewing Bee.  For example, I always assumed sewing was a cheaper alternative to buying your own clothes.  Boy was I wrong.  With shops popping up like Primark, H&M and Forever 21, it is almost impossible to personally make yourself an outfit cheaper than what these companies charge for their clothing.  In fact it will most definitely cost 3-4 times more for materials alone than what you could buy pre-made in the aforementioned shops and that's before factoring in your time and effort for making the item.  But then, with homemade items you are putting a great deal of time and effort into your unique pieces of art so you know that the quality of the item is not only impeccably well made but is also a unique one off creation.  So although it may cost more to sew your own items, the quality does shine in comparison to "off the rack" clothes.  And this is not just relevant to sewing, it covers all crafts.  And let's face it, I dabble in a bit of everything.  What am I?  A Bookbinder? An altered artist? A flower maker?  A Sewer?  Mixed Media Artist?  What?  Just what am I??  I like to think that I am a Jack of All Trades (and Master of none, teehee).

But I digress.  I think the reason I wanted to write this post was to make all the Non-Crafty people out there realise and appreciate that just because something is handmade, does not mean it is automatically cheaper for you to buy.  I know for sure that there are crafter's out there that sell their handmade cards and in most circumstances are happy enough to just cover the cost of materials (just about) and don't think of giving themselves anything for the time they've spent designing and creating those cards.  As Crafter's and artistic people, we are extremely generous and in most cases are just happy to make an item for friends or family.  If my sister ever found out just how much it cost to make her that quilt for Christmas, she would kick my arse, lol.  And I won't even go near the subject of my Brother's Wedding stationery because he too would be kicking me and my butt does not need multiple kickings from my younger siblings.......so I'll never tellllllllll, heehee.  Simply because anything I have ever made for anyone close to me has been about making them happy, regardless of what it costs me.

I don't have a shop or craft to make a living.  If someone wants me to make them something that's fair enough, I will gladly do it.   But there is a difference between making gifts for friends and family and making items to sell whether it is to help fund your crafting endeavours or actually help earn you some living money.  Making things to sell is a completely different ball game from making items as gifts.  I think a lot of creative people, crafter's and artists are almost afraid to insult a customer by charging the appropriate amount of money for their work and therefore end up undercharging.  I think of it this way......if a customer wanted to buy off the shelf, generic items that everyone can have then, they would have done so.  If a customer comes to you asking to have an item handmade, its because they want something unique and of a certain standard of quality.  Therefore, they are willing to pay for exactly that.  If you are embarrassed or shy about charging for your work and do not charge the appropriate amount to include your time spent, designing and creating the item for that person then you are setting a precedent for yourself and that is when people will take advantage of you.  Because you have underestimated yourself and your work, they will inevitably expect you to do the job for cheap because that is how you've priced your work.  And lets face it, we all love a bargain so no customer is going to tell you that you've undercut yourself.  It's not the purchaser's fault persay simply because they don't know what it costs to make the item.  You haven't told them or charged them appropriately to not only include your inventory costs but also your time spent.  You are entitled to a wage too you know, lol.  So what does that say about us as Crafter's and Creative People?  By not pricing your items and work accordingly to include your own precious time, you are basically belittling the work you do and not giving yourself the respect you have wholeheartedly worked for and deserve.  You need to be confident in your work and be able to say "I am an artist and if you want my unique piece of hand made art, it is going to cost you".  And I'm not saying to charge £20 for a card or extort money from customers.  I am merely saying, give yourself the respect you deserve for the time and effort you have put into your work and don't just charge for materials alone.

So, if someone comes to you and wants you to make something handmade should it be a dress or a box of birthday invitations, you have to be willing to tell that person that not only will you be charging for your costs but your time also.  If they want a uniquely handmade item then they are going to have to be willing to pay for it.  And in most cases, the fact that that person has come to you in the first place means they are genuinely wanting something unique and handmade.  So in most situations they will completely respect that you have a right to earn and not do things for cost alone and they'll happily pay your fee.  But there will always be those people who will want a lot of product for virtually no money.  And these are the people you need to weed out of your life.  If those buyers are not willing to pay then they are not respecting you and the work you do.  You should never be willing to lower your prices and your worth to meet their tight purse strings.  Non-Crafter's need to realise that handmade does not equate to inexpensively made.  In fact handmade means more time, thought, and work has gone into that item than any item you could ever buy off a shelf.

Therefore......my advice to all Crafter's and Artists who sell their wares - be fair to yourselves.  Allow yourself to earn money as you've been the one who has spent the time on your customer's project.  A plumber wouldn't fix your sink and only charge for the parts.  He or she would charge for their time.  So you have just as much right to charge for your time too.

And Non-Crafter's and Customers - please don't expect something for nothing.  You are asking to have something made for you because you obviously want something uniquely designed to your specifications.  Therefore please respect the Artist and understand that handmade does not mean it will cost nothing.  Afford the Artist the respect they deserve.  They have as much right to earn a living as anyone else.

I hope this didn't end up being a preachy post folks, that was not my intention.  It was just some thoughts in my head spilling out onto my blog, lol.  I hope if anything this post will make Artists and Customers alike respect and appreciate the industry of Arts and Crafts and give those Artists and Crafters the recognition and respect they work so hard for.  But likewise, maybe help Artists and Crafters realise that if they don't educate Customers and show them just how much work actually goes into a hand crafted item, that the customer can't be blamed if they aren't aware of what items cost and tend to expect a lot for very little in return.

That's it from me for now folks.  I'll have something that is maybe a little lighter on the reading front next time, teehee.  I hope I haven't bored you, lol.  Have fun all my Crafty friends.

Until next time....Toodles Noodles.......Loops  (aka, Lee xx)