Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children

Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children
Happy Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Woodland Wildlife Wall Art Gallery!

A huge well done to all of the brilliant sewing enthusiasts who attended our sewing clubs last half term. Each one of you put an individual spin on the the projects we offered and you should all be very proud of your work.

Here is a selection of what was made in some of our lunchtime and after school clubs - can you spot yours'?

Ascot Heath Junior School

Gorse Ride Junior School (Friday)

Oaklands Primary School (Tuesday)

Harmans Water Primary School

Nine Mile Ride (Thursday)

St Jude's (Monday)

Oaklands (Monday)

St Jude's (Thursday)

St Cuthberts

Winkfield St Mary's

St Ann's Heath (Thursday)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hope & Gloria Valentine's Gallery

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all. Here's a little gallery of sewing projects from Hope & Gloria that are handmade with love.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love Bug Pin Cushion - A Valentine's Day Make

Here's a quick and cute little make - just in time for Valentine's Day. Make them from scraps of fabric and use them as decorations, pin cushions or as a gift to show you care!

Here's how:

Step One

Make a heart shaped template from paper and round off the point at the bottom. Pin it to two layers of dark felt and one of brightly coloured felt, then cut out through all three layers so that all of the hearts are exactly the same size. I have used a dark blue and cerise pink for mine.

Cut a straight line across the bottom of the pink heart approx 2cm from the bottom.

Step two:

Add some spots to your bug using black buttons and use a dark thread to sew on antennae.

Step three:

Place the pink heart on top of one of the blue hearts and secure with a few stitches just below the top middle.

Step four

Pin all three hearts together and sew around the outside using running stitch leaving a small gap on one side for stuffing.

Step five:

Now add soft toy filling. If you are going to use it as a pin cushion it needs to be quite full.

Step six:

Sew up the gap and your love bug is complete. Now all you need to do is decide who to give it to!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 30, 2015

From Start to Start - The Story of A Hope & Gloria Sewing Project

I love my job. I have mentioned this before on a number of occasions but I get to combine so many elements that I love - one of the main areas being design.

I am always surprised when talking to parents of children who attend our sewing clubs to hear that occasionally people assume that the projects we make are from bought in kits. This is in a way a compliment  and lovely to hear because it must mean that everything we do is of a truly professional standard. However, I am incredibly proud of the fact that all Hope & Gloria projects are designed by me and that I get to see them through from the glimmer of an idea to arriving at our sewing clubs to being taken home by our fabulous sewing club members.

A question that comes up frequently is "Where do you get your ideas from?" So with all of this in mind I thought it would be fun to share how things take shape at Hope & Gloria from the first idea through to arrival at our sewing clubs.

For me ideas come from literally anywhere. I may see a picture in a magazine (not necessarily craft related), or an image on greetings card that would work well as an appliqué or embroidery project. It's important to look at what's being sold in shops and online to spot current trends both in terms of the item itself but also the motif that is carries or the pattern on the fabric its made from. You can think about something that is practical and useful to have or something that would be great as a gift.

I was lucky enough to do a lot of sewing and crafting in my childhood and many of the things I made can be updated and children love to make them even now. Of course, the children in our clubs also inspire - they are always delighted to talk about things that they like and would like to make. There are very few designers who get to talk to their target market so frequently and openly so in this respect I count myself very lucky.

This half term our school sewing club projects are "Woodland Wildlife Wall Art". The idea for these cute wall-hangings was formed back in the Summer last year. Teaching over 550 schoolchildren to sew each week means that all of our projects must be planned well in advance and being organised is key. We often have some kind of aappliqué project throughout the course of the year - it's a skill the Hope & Gloria Team love to teach our sewing enthusiasts, so once Wall Art was included on our schedule it was just a matter of choosing a theme.

Woodland creatures have become hugely popular motifs in fashion and interiors. Furry creatures have been appearing on clothing and as home decoration for a while now and the trend still grows.

Sometimes all you have to do is look around you. I love wildlife and nature and the changing of the seasons and we are lucky enough to have some adorable wildlife visiting our garden from time to time such as foxes and squirrels. There's even an owl somewhere locally that I often hear calling at twilight and I still hold out hope of seeing a hedgehog. It was really very easy to choose the Woodland Wildlife theme for our wall art. Next it was a matter of design.

Drawings come first. I like to use graph paper so that I can make sure that the designs are the correct size for the background and where necessary symmetrical. I usually have an idea of what the design should be in my mind's eye. Most of the time they look similar to how I envisage them and sometimes they take a little longer to perfect(!) It's the same with any creative process.

The design challenge that our sewing clubs present is something I love. Encouraging children's creativity is key in Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs. All of our projects must be designed to suit beginners and experienced club members. The projects needs to be simple enough for a beginner to complete and look great but also there has to be scope for more experienced sewing enthusiasts to add their own touches and develop their skills. So not always a straightforward design but a challenge that I enjoy.

Templates then follow on from the drawings. All of the kits that our sewing club leaders deliver to school clubs is also cut out and prepared in house by the Hope & Gloria Production Controller, Sarah.

Each section or tiny feature of one of our projects needs to be accurately cut out and therefore good quality templates to draw around are essential. These are made from good old fashioned card and then kept on file for future use.

Because 550 children a week attend a Hope & Gloria Sewing Club that's at least 550 kits that need to be cut and prepared.  We like to avoid sad faces at our clubs so we also add on an extra 20 - 25% to that number to make sure that everyone gets their first or second choice of project.

I also make up samples of the projects - it's great for children to see what they are heading towards with their projects. That's one for each of our eight sewing club leaders to take in to their school clubs.

Next it's a matter of sorting the kits in to groups. Sarah has to make sure that our sewing club leaders have sufficient stock of everything they will need to make sure that their club members can complete one of the lovely projects in the course of the half term. These are then collected at one of our kit collection mornings which are held before the start of the half term, all looking lovely and ready to guarantee huge smiles from our club members.

The responsibility then passes to our brilliant and enthusiastic sewing clubs leaders who will guide the children through the creative process to the completion of the projects.

So we go from the start of an idea of a project to the start of projects being made. I look forward to sharing some pics of the completed Woodland Wildlife Wall Art with you at the end of this half term.

Time to begin again!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Festive Felt Poinsettia Tutorial

Along with Holly and Mistletoe Poinsettia Plants are synonymous with Christmas. Although not the easiest plant to keep alive (I usually only manage to do this until Boxing Day), their bright red petals bring a fantastic splash of colour indoors during the festive season. 

Since I have researched the origins of the Christmas Wreath this year, I though I'd do the same with Poinsettias and was delighted to discover a truly lovely myth behind the use of these vibrant plants as decoration at Christmas time.

Poinsettias originate from Mexico and South America where they are known as Flor de Noche Buena (Christmas Eve Flower). They became associated with Christmas in the 16th century where legend has it that a poor girl called Maria had nothing to give to the church at Christmas. She was visited by an angel who told her to gather plants and weeds from the roadside to leave at her church altar. The plants were transformed overnight into beautiful Poinsettia flowers and since then they have been associated with Christmas giving. The star shaped flowers are said to represent the star of Bethlehem and the red colour symbolises the blood of Jesus. 

So having found out why we decorate our houses with these flowers I decided to make my own using felt. I have used them to decorate my fabric wreath (as seen in the previous post),but they also look lovely as a decoration when wrapping Christmas gifts. Here's how to make them:

You will need: Red felt, green felt, yellow buttons, thread

Step one:

Cut a circle from the red felt with an 8cm diameter (you can vary the size according to the size of flower you want to make). Make five straight cuts equal in spaced equally arond the circle from the outside edge stopping about 1cm from the centre. 

This will form your petals.

Step two:

Now cut each of your petals in to an equal point shape.

Step three

Fold one of the petals in half and sew a few over stitches along the fold, from the centre to half way along your "petal".

Step four:

When turned over to have the right side facing up the petal should now fold upwards and you can just about see a line formed from the over stitches on the back of the petal - this looks like the lines you will see along the centre of a Poinsettia Petal.

Repeat this process with each of your felt petals.

Step five:

Turn your flower the right side up and sew a yellow button in the centre and add a green felt leaf.

The leaves look fab if you use back stitch to add lines along the centre. 

These simple flowers take no time at all to make and are great for using us scraps of fabric to make a lovely finishing touch with a vintage feel - Happy making Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fabulous Fabric Holiday Wreath

Christmas wreaths are big this year - both in terms of size and popularity. There are all shapes and sizes made from all manner of materials for indoors and outdoors throughout many shops and I have become a fan.

Christmas wreaths or garlands have been around for years - hundreds in fact. Whether naturalistic and made from real woodland finds such as fir, holly and pine cones or kitsch and made from feathers, plastic and even baubles, they adorn the doors of the nation every Christmas time.

I thought I would look in to the origins of the Christmas wreath and as with so many of our festive customs their origins can be found in Paganism. The circular shape represents eternal and ongoing life and nature's survival after the barren Winter. Laurel wreaths were used by the Romans to represent strength and power. The use of holly in these gorgeous decorations is linked to the druids who considered Holly to be a sacred plant maintaining it's rich green colour all year round.

This year we have a white driftwood heart on our front door which is lit by fairy lights woven across it but I thought I would have a go at making my own felt and fabric design to hang indoors using fabric and felt in bright reds and greens inspired by those in traditional Christmas door wreaths. I love the results!

For the base of the wreath I used a polystyrene ring that I bought in our local craft shop. I then wrapped some strips of leftover fabric around it securing on the back with drawing pins. It's a good idea to iron a 1cm fabric seam to give a neat finish as you go and to hide the raw edge underneath.

I have used felt poinsettias as my main decoration. These are very easy to make and also look fabulous as brooches or as special decorative touches when wrapping presents. If you would like to make them, take a look at the tutorial in the next post.

As a finishing touch I have added a luscious red satin ribbon to hang it from. My wreath now hangs in pride of place on my workroom door bringing a splash of festive Hope & Gloria colour to the room - it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sweet Treat Cones - A Festive Felt Tutorial

So the big countdown has begun and we are just a couple of weeks away from Christmas - Hooray!

The build up at Hope & Gloria began in earnest at the end of November when we held our first ever Family Christmas Sewing Workshop. As you know, we cater for a young audience with our school sewing clubs and holiday workshops so it felt very special to welcome an older group of sewing enthusiasts and keen beginners to one of our workshops in amongst our regulars and a few new faces. We were delighted to have grandparents, parents and children joining us for an afternoon of festive sewing, mulled wine and Christmas music playing gently in the background.

It's always a challenge to design projects that are going to work with mixed ability groups and for this workshop the challenge was extended to including projects that adults would also like to make. Thankfully the balance seemed to have been just right and the twenty people that attended left with fabulous handmade decorations, smiles on their faces and many requests for us to add something similar to the Hope & Gloria schedule in the near future - brilliant!

Along with Nordic Star decorations and Fabulous Felt Santas we also made Sweet Treat Cones. These cute decorations look great filled with treats and hanging on a Christmas tree or are a brilliant idea to use instead of party bags. They are also re-usable and can be part of your festive celebrations for years to come. Here's how to make them:

You will need:

  • 1 felt quarter circle, 1 strip of felt 2cm x 20cm,
  • To decorate - choose from beads, buttons, felt shapes, coloured thread to embroider stitches, shapes etc

**To make a template for the quarter circle cut out a large circle from a piece of paper. I used one with a diameter of 40cm but this can be varied depending on how large you want your cones to be, Fold the circle in half and half again to make a quarter then open out and cut along the folds.

Step one:

Decorate the front of the felt quarter circle using colourful stitches, fabric shapes, buttons, ribbon and anything else that looks festive.

Step two:

Fold it in half with the right sides facing and sew small running stitches along the straight edge.

Step three:

Turn it the right way around so that the design is on the ourside.

Step four:

Using a strip of felt or some ribbon as a handle sew the ends in place opposite each other at the top edge of the cone. Buttons make great decoration and will keep the handles place.

Your sweet treat cone is now complete and all you need to do is fill it with delicious Christmas Treats. Enjoy!