Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children

Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children
Let's Get Making!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Our Happy Halloween!

This year Halloween turned out to be a very last minute affair in our house. With the impending house move we didn't plan our usual party and the boys felt that now they are all teenagers (or nearly), it was time for them to put aside such childish things as dressing up.

This didn't stop me from getting the box of decorations from the loft and decorating our porch on Sunday afternoon ready to welcome trick or treaters the following evening.

I also managed to find some time for a spot of Halloween themed embroidery. I love Mexican Sugar Skulls with their intricate designs and bright colours. I wrote about their origins and use on this blog three years ago. If you'd like to know more click here . This year I had lots of fun using different embroidery stitches to create my own and the shape of the skull suits using an embroidery ring as a frame. It is now hanging on the wall in my workroom.

Yesterday evening when the boys arrived home from school the pumpkins were still uncarved and they had very little interest in turning them in to Jack O' Lanterns until I remembered a top tip from a friend and brought out my secret weapon - a drill!

Yes, it seems power tools are the answer when it comes to pumpkin carving post twelve years of age. Elliot and Theo were more than happy to get involved in making my glitter ball pumpkin. (Isaac was not so keen as he couldn't bear the smell of the pumpkin!) In just over an hour the pumpkins were carved and displayed on the doorstep in all their glowing glory!

We had more trick or treaters than normal this year - and Halloween turned out to be a fun evening after all with just enough sweets left over at the end of the evening to ensure smiley faces all around in our house! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Batty Bats - a Halloween Tutorial

Meet Bertie & Bella!

Due to an impending house move and all of the planning and organisation that goes with it, I have been unable to run Halloween Sewing Workshops this half term.

As I have said many times before, I love Halloween and all of the fun that goes with it. This afternoon I have had a creative burst of activity and taken a break from packing boxes to make this cute pair - Bertie and Bella Batty Bats For Halloween.

They are fun and easy to make and since I can't run a workshop later this week I thought that sharing a Halloween themed tutorial would be the next best thing. Here's how to make them.....

You will need:

  • Small pieces of dark grey/black/grey and white felt
  • Two small black buttons
  • White and black embroidery thread
  • The Batty Bat Template (the print out can be found at the bottom of this tutorial)

Step one:

Make your bat's face: cut two small white felt circles and sew on to the front of one of the body shapes and add two small black buttons. Embroider a mouth and fangs using back stitch and satin stitch - make his expression as crazy as possible!

Step two:

For the wings you can either have single or double thickness. I have cut four wing shapes and stitched two together to make the wings double thickness and less floppy. If you want your wings to flap - cut just two wing shapes and have single thickness.

Step three:

Pin the back and front body shapes together inserting the two wings in to the seams on either side. Sew around the outside edges making sure that you sew through all of the felt layers when you get to the wings. Leave a gap at the bottom of your bats body and add a small amount of soft toy filling. Sew up the remaining gap and your fabulous Halloween bat is complete.

You can add a loop through the top to hang your bat from - perfect for decorating the house this Halloween!

Here's that template:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pocket Pet Cushions - Children's Gallery

We have had a fantastic start to the school year at Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs! We finally got to make our Pocket Pet Cushions!

I began to design these super cute projects back in June. One of the things that I have discovered whilst running Hope & Gloria over the past few years is that children love making projects that involve using soft toy filling and they also love a pocket. We encourage our club members to be as creative as possible and often they will manage to add pockets to projects that didn't originally have them, so there was a tonnes of enthusiasm for our first project of the year. With a cute pet owl or pussycat, monster or mouse what's not to love?

As always our sewing club enthusiasts have been amazing this half term. Considering that many of the children are new to our clubs, the standard of sewing has been incredible. The Hope & Gloria Team would like to say a huge "Well Done" to everyone who joined us and we look forward to seeing you again next half term for our fantastic festive projects!

St Jude's

Suzy Stitch Owl

Owls were one of the first ever projects that we worked on when I began Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs at St Jude's School six years ago.

Over the years they have featured as design choices for our sewing club members and I am still surprised by their popularity. This half term we made pocket pet cushions and the owls were just as popular as the other pocket pets on offer to make. Why wouldn't they be? After all these adorable birds have such appealing faces and shapes and they fit in so well with this time of the year with the fabulous Autumn colours to be found in the woodlands.

Suzy Stitch Owl began life as an old lambswool sweater that I had felted a while ago and was sitting around in one of my fabric stashes. "Something Old From Something New" was one of the categories at the Virginia Water Show in September and I had intended to make an owl from the sweater to enter in to the competition but as with many things, I never got around to it.

After an incredibly busy start to the school year at our sewing clubs, last weekend I finally began time to begin work on this project. Once the basic shape had been cut and I was cutting out the feathers and wings I began to think about using stitches as decoration and I decided that I could use the feathers to showcase a range of simple embroidery techniques and then I came upon the idea to use my owl as a teaching aid in my sewing clubs.

One of the many aims we have at Hope & Gloria is to teach children new stitches and introduce simple embroidery. Children always respond really well to a good visual to learn from and I am hoping that this is what Suzy Stich Owl will prove to be.

She features nine different types of decorative stitches on the feathers on her chest and star stitches on her wings. The wings are sewn on and edged in blanket stitch, the eyes sewn on with over stitch and the beak with back stitch. There is so much creativity to be had from just a needle and thread and this is what Suzy Stitch Owl is all about.

Many of the ladies from the Hope & Gloria Team will also be working on stitch owls to use as teaching aids and I am really looking forward to seeing how many of these stitches are being used by our clever and creative sewing club members by the end of the school year.

Happy sewing!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Show Time!

It is nearly a month since the Virginia Water Village Show. I have been meaning to post all about this lovely event for the past three weeks but the start of a very busy school year has meant I have been caught up in other things.

However, before I turn my attention fully to Autumn inspired projects and of course, Christmas, I thought I'd share why I love this type of event - the village show....

As I have driven around the local area and further afield this summer I have spotted so many signs for local village shows and I wonder whether the resurgence in popularity for handicrafts and all things vintage has led to a rise in the number of village shows. From here in Ascot to Cornwall during the summer, I have spotted lots of opportunities for gardeners, bakers, jam-makers and handcrafters to show off their skills and their wares.

For the last two years I have entered and won prizes for my knitted and stitched projects in the craft sections of the Egham Royal Show and The Chertsey Show - both of them fairly large in scale and a great day out for the family. This year Summer holiday plans meant that we were away at the time of shows but I was lucky enough to be around to enter The Virginia Water Village Show. This is a much smaller event but it perfectly embodies what a local gardening and craft show is all about.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't love winning prizes for my makes but there are so many other reasons to get involved in these events. They really do bring the community together. There are competition sections for old and young across lots of different gardening, cooking and crafting categories, so there is something to attract all family members across the generations. They provide an opportunity for local experts to showcase their skills and hopefully inspire others to take up a new hobby. There is also invariably a tearoom at a village show, so they are also the perfect opportunity to relax and make new friends over a cuppa.

This year I was delighted to win first prize in the craft section, but I was even more delighted to put my £1 winnings to use by buying this turban squash (modelled here by Theo), from the fruit and veg stall.

We were also given a fantastic recipe for Turban Squash Soup by the lovely lady from the stall, and following a quick trip in to the supermarket on the way home to buy ingredients we made soup to have as a starter with our dinner. Brilliant! There's nearly a whole year until next summer's shows but there is no time like the present to get making. I thoroughly recommend giving it a go!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Quilt Show!

Last month I spent a fantastic morning at The Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. My Mum lives in Solihull so I was able to leave my three boys with their Nan rather than dragging them around what is pretty close to three teenage boys' idea of hell. (Thanks Mum!)

It wasn't the first time I'd visited the show but I have to say that this year I was blown away by the incredible artistry and creativity not to mention amazing skills that were on display in the form of quilts. The women, men and craft groups that work to produce these beautiful works of art are truly inspiring. Here are just a few of my favourites that I was lucky enough to view:

Scenes from Shakespeare featuring Meerkat Characters - how cool?

I have been to quilting courses in the past and one thing I know is that quilting takes time. These beautiful quilts must have taken ages to make but wow! the results are stunning.

One day, when I no longer run a busy business and my children are grown up and independent I plan to spend a lot of time quilting. I am not sure I could ever produce amazing results like those at the Festival of Quilts but I look forward to giving it a go.

In the meantime, here is this Summer's quilted project. I have managed to fit it in in-between holidays to Spain, Cornwall and Swtizerland (I have been very lucky this year), days out with the family and planning school projects for September. It pales in comparison to some of the quilts I saw at the show but I love the theme and fabrics used and had lots of fun making it.

The British seaside was my inspiration. I adore beach huts and love the thought of owning one one day. How idyllic would it be to sit and watch the waves with a cup of tea working on a latest craft project? I can dream.... I have used a Dresden Plate design for the sun in the top left hand corner and I like my subtle cloud shapes above the beach huts. The candy colours were lovely to work with and I have used candy pink and blue stripe and polka dot fabric to create a patchwork backing. The bright and cheerful yellow buttons echo the bright yellow sun on the front.

I think this cushion will be my burst of summer sunshine indoors when the days get shorter. While I was at the Festival of Quilts I couldn't help but buy more fabric (the choice is amazing). I can't help thinking it may be time to make an Autumn cushion to go with this summer one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Hols, Summer Makes, So Far.

I adore summer. There are many reasons why I love this time of the year. I am lucky that my job, on the whole, fits in around school term times which means I have the same holidays as my children. The six week summer break (seven this year!), gives us time together as well as time to relax and have a few adventures.

It also gives me time to work on projects that have been in the back of my mind throughout the year. Most of my year is spent designing for Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs which I adore, but the summer break means I can work on ideas and designs that are more complex or I can indulge in other textile crafts that I love such as crochet or knitting.

Since school finished I have been pretty busy and I thought I'd share my summer makes so far.

My sister has recently re-decorated my eight year old niece's bedroom and asked if I could make some vintage style bunting to add to the decoration. I always have gingham fabric to hand (it's one of my favourites and works brilliantly in patchwork), and it worked perfectly with the lovely blue and pink floral fabric that I bought earlier this year. Rather than adding another pattern to the design I decided to personalise the bunting - pink felt letters hand stitched on to cream calico. I am delighted to report that Freya loves it and it now decorates her fabulous bedroom.

At the very start of the hols we headed off to Spain for a family holiday. We go there every year and one of the many things that I love about where we stay is the fact that there is no Wi-Fi. This means that the boys have to be resourceful in terms of keeping themselves occupied (much to their horror), which usually involves spending hours I the pool and even book reading(!)

To keep me occupied this year I bought my first colouring book and pencils. I have to say I didn't get very far with this and it did make me accept that I prefer my craft to be of the textile variety. Thankfully, I also had a fab Nancy Nicolson Embroidery Kit that I'd bought months ago. The week in Spain gave me plenty of time to get stitching and I found it very therapeutic to just practice my embroidery stitches following someone else's design for a change. I took some of my own threads instead of using those supplied with the kit simply because I prefer to work in bright colours. I was really pleased with the results:

My crochet adventures continue and I am currently joining together seventy granny squares in to a blanket that I hope to finish before the end of the summer and I have finished edging my first ever crochet blanket that I began back in March.

Considering it's the first crochet blanket I've made I am really pleased with the results. I chose colours that I don't normally work with (normally I choose bold and bright ones), and I like the way they work together.

I look forward to sharing blanket number two with you when it's finished (hopefully before the end of the summer hols).

Finally, inspired by Rio 2016 and all of the gorgeous tropical designs and prints that are everywhere this summer yesterday afternoon I decided to make my Totally Tropical Pin Cushions. I think I am becoming a little obsessed with pin cushions (see my previous post), but I love these bold bright and cheerful designs and they will definitely bring a touch of summer magic to my sewing clubs next year!

I am looking forward to sharing more makes with you throughout the summer break. Wishing you sunshine whatever you are making!