Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children

Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children
It's Most Wonderful Time of The Year! Merry Christmas!

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!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Funky Pumpkin Patch Tutorial


When I think of Halloween, like most people, I think pumpkins. Huge, plump, round cheerful orange ones with cut out scary faces.

Last Friday I went to the Taste of Autumn Food Festival at RHS Wisley. As well as eating lots of delicious food samples my friends and I were amazed by the fabulous displays of pumpkins and gourds. These beautiful autumnal displays were placed all around the gardens and we were surprised to see how many varieties there are available not to mention the spectrum of colour to be found amongst this particular type of food.




Pretty impressive pumpkins

So last weekend, inspired by these fabulous displays I decided to make ,my own pumpkin patch. I found suitable fabric lurking in the bottom of a box which once upon a time was destined for a brightly coloured quilt. As with so many things the quilt never happened but I love what has grown in it's place....



If you would like to make a pumpkin patch of your own in time for Halloween - this is how you do it:

You will need:

Patterned cotton fabric and some green felt.

Step one:


As a rule the length of the fabric should be twice the width. For my pumpkins I used fabric measuring 15 x 30 cm

Step two:


Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides facing and sew along the outside edge opposite the fold secure with a finishing knot at the end.

Step three:


Sew along the bottom edge using running stitch.

Step four:


Now pull the thread so that the fabric gathers along the bottom edge. Pull it tight and secure with a firm knot.

Step five:

Turn it inside out so that the patterned side of the fabric is now on the outside and sew a row of running stitch all around the top approx 1/2cm from the edge. Do not tie a finishing knot at this stage.

Step six:


Now add plenty of stuffing. Then as with the bottom edge pull the thread so that it gathers around the stuffing. Pull tight and secure with a finishing knot.

Step seven:


Now it's time to make the ridges around the outside of the pumpkin. This can be tricky and you should use a long needle and strong thread. Children will need help from an adult.
Pass your needle through the centre of the pumpkin. Squeezing it tight at the top and bottom to squash the stuffing will enable you to pass the needle through more easily.
Once the needle comes out of the centre at the bottom of the pumpkin, pull the thread through and wrap it tightly around the outside edge. Pass the needle through the middle once again and repeat wrapping the thread tightly around the pumpkin a quarter of the way around the sphere.
Repeat as many times as desired to form the ridges all the way around the outside.


Your pumpkin should now look something like this.

Step eight:


Cut a leaf shape from your green felt and sew it on to the top of your pumpkin



So now that you've finished your funky pumpkin there is only one thing left to do - make more and create your very own pumpkin patch just in time for 31st October! Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Colours of Autumn


Wow, it has been a busy few weeks at Hope & Gloria HQ. We have launched eight clubs in six new schools, we now welcome 500 children a week at our clubs and the Hope & Gloria team has expanded to eight members. So all in all time for creating and sewing has been in short supply.

During this hectic period the Indian summer has left us and Autumn has arrived in all of its glory. Colder temperatures aside there are so many fabulous things to love about the Autumn - colour being one of them. Every Autumn I bore my boys by pointing out beautiful shades of autumnal colour on trees on our school run. From time to time they express vague enthusiasm and I am grateful that they are keen to humour their Mum.

It is of course the changing of the season that has inspired my latest wall art design. Last weekend we went for a family walk through the woods near Virginia Water Lake. The trees are just about on the turn displaying some fabulous colour but aren't quite yet in their full autumnal glory. We found fabulous toadstools on the ground and watched squirrels busily burying acorns. All of these feature in the wall art design.


Toadstools near Virginia Water Lake


The Autumn design follows on from the Summer Garden Wall Art  that I made earlier this year.




When designing for Hope & Gloria sewing clubs I tend to use a range of brightly coloured felt and fabric which our sewing club members love so much, so it was great to work with a different palette for this new project. The colours used echo those that we see outside at this time of year but I have also added texture to make it more interesting.



The hedgehogs and squirrel are made from felted lambswool jumpers and the leaves are made from scraps of fabric I had left over from a quilting project.

There are also a few fun touches such as the googly eyes peering out of the hole in the tree trunk - a nod to Halloween, which will be the inspiration for my next Autumn projects. I am looking forward sharing these shortly but in the meantime I thoroughly recommend a walk in your local woods to find your Autumn inspiration.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gulliver Ipad Case



So, we are lucky enough to be having an "Indian Summer" here in the UK. It must be about 23 degrees outside at the moment and I really need to turn my thoughts to designing the Christmas Hope & Gloria Sewing projects. However, the clement weather is making this next to impossible this afternoon.

I can't help but turn my thoughts back to the fabulous summer holiday we had in Cornwall this year. To me there is nowhere lovelier than the dramatic Cornish coast and we were lucky enough to spend a week there this summer. It was an action packed week as there is so much to see and do in this fabulous county - watching international surfing contests on the north coast, jumping in the waves and off harbour walls in to the sea on the Lizard peninsula, as well as a delicious Cornish Pastie and an ice cream or two(!). As a family we all left wanting more and can't wait to return at the next available opportunity.

Of course Cornwall also has plenty of these little fellas - the British Seagull.


This particular one was stalking our picnic which we ate in Boscastle Harbour. The boys were a little bit intimidated by it's audacity and the size of its beak. They can still remember a seagull diving down to steal a pastie from my hand in St Ives just a few years ago and thought we were going to have a repeat of the episode. I am happy to report that we didn't and seagulls became the inspiration for my final Summer inspired project before moving on to Halloween and Christmas.


The case began life as a lambswool sweater. I machine felted it and cut it to size. You can see that the flap was once the ribbing from the bottom of the jumper. While I was in Cornwall I began to form a seagull applique design and was searching for an idea of what to put it on. The greys of the gull blend really well with the grey tone of the blue wool and the yellow beak and legs are a good contrast and so the idea of the ipad cover was formed.


It is lined with a linen mix spotty fabric and fastens with a stud fastener. The rustic wooden button on the front cover echoes driftwood.


It was the Virginia Water Village Show this weekend and my ipad case seemed like an ideal entry for the "Something New From Something Old" category. I am delighted to report that it won first prize!

Now about Christmas.......

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Egham Royal Show - Feeling Like A Winner!



It's been pretty quiet on the blogging front over the past couple of weeks. However, please don't think I haven't been busy.

This summer I decided to do something that I have never done before - enter a handicraft competition.

I am not sure why the time was right this year as I have thought about it on numerous occasions in the past but never found the time or the courage to throw my creations out there for third party scrutiny and judging. So this weekend I took the bull by the horns and submitted three entries in to the Egham Royal Show.

We first visited the Egham Royal Show as a family about four years ago. It always falls on the August Bank Holiday weekend and since then we haven't been around. Knowing that we would be around this year I thought I'd give it a go.

 Excuse me while I give an advertisement for the show but it really is a fabulous day out for all of the family. There is something for everyone - even for the hard to please Richardson clan. This year I was able to indulge my love of flowers and handicrafts in the horticulture tent, whilst the boys admired model boats and aeroplanes, not to mention the guns on the Royal Marine Stall. There were classic cars for Giles to dream about and we could all come together to admire the cute piglets in the livestock marquee and the very clever sheep dogs in the dog agility competition.

So this year I decided to enter three items in to three categories:


My vintage inspired hand quilted cushion complete with home made lavender scented cushion pad.


A cross stitch that kept me occupied whilst on hols.

and my 100% designed by me Summer Garden Fabric Wall Art.

I have to say that I am most proud of the wall art. It's an idea that has been forming in my mind for a long time and it was made over the course of a week this August. Just like a real garden, my Summer garden grew before my eyes and I wasn't sure how it would look and come together as a design until the point that I knew it couldn't grow any further. 

A number of techniques went in to the design - various fabric flowers, felt flowers, applique and embroidery. I added detailing by including mini-beasts and insects amongst the florals. It was described by the judges as a "great show piece using lots of different techniques", which I consider to be praise indeed. I am delighted to have received second place in the judging of the "other handicraft techniques" category and feel very proud that my hard work and ideas were rewarded in this way.

I learnt a lot from entering the show. It was fascinating to look at the prize winners in the various categories and to try to work out what the judges were looking for. Next year I shall begin to plan my entries much earlier. If I had the chance all over again I would add more quilting to the cushion and I plan to begin a cross-stitch project much earlier so that it can be on a much greater scale - I already have a few ideas forming and can't wait to get going. I think these competitions could become addictive!