Crafty Blogs

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Creative Pay-It-Forward

At the beginning of January an interesting meme seemed to be spreading rapidly across Facebook. It went something like this:

"2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward: The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift! Made by me! Said gift may be written, drawn, baked or some combination thereof. There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their FB status"

I don't normally share memes, but this one seemed like a great opportunity to make some little presents for my friends and to share my crafting with people who weren't customers. I shared it and got four responses, but like a lot of people I then had to think for a while about what I would make. Two of the people who took up the offer were living overseas (one in the US, one in France) so I decided it would have to be something fairly small to cut down on shipping costs. The text I'd posted said it would be something "written, drawn, baked or some combination thereof" but would anyone mind if I sewed something? I decided it wouldn't be cheating, not really, and set to work on some tiny Lucky Ladybird charms.

One of my friends loved my salmon roe coin purse, so I decided to make him a smiley keyring that would remind him of it.

Not everyone loves sushi as much as I do, I'm clear on that, but something everyone does love is a biscuit or a cookie!

Jammie Dodger and Bourbon Biscuits for friends in the UK, Oreo cookie for my friend in America. These guys were a lot of fun to make, if a little fiddly. The Oreo in particular took a long time to embroider!

While the meme was spreading I signed up to be the recipient of a couple of gifts too, so some time in 2013 I should be receiving some interesting handmade items in return. I can't wait!

Did anyone else sign up for Creative Pay-It-Forward? What did you give, what did you receive?
It's still early in the year, so there's still time to share the meme if you like the idea.

Have fun, stay lucky

LL xx

Fox Face Fused-Plastic Placemats

For fans of my famous coiled plastic bag baskets this is another great recycling project to use up all your spare plastic bags. I was reading a post by One Crafty Place about sewing your own animal face placemats and it occurred to me that almost all the plastic bags we collect are orange - the perfect colour for fox fur! I am crazy about foxes at the moment and something told me that fox placemats would make the perfect addition to our kitchen table.

Before you get started I recommend you watch this instructional video from Etsy about plastic bag fusing. It sums up very well how the bags need to be heated smoothly and evenly, and also emphasises the safety aspects of the technique!

You will need:
  • (Per placemat) 2 orange bags, 2 white bags and 1 black. Use the kind of thin plastic bags that supermarkets provide for free
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Craft glue
  • Sewing machine and white and black thread

Lay each plastic bag out flat and cut off the handles. These can be thrown away. Cut along the bottom edge of the bag as well where the bag is sealed together, removing a small strip. You can now open the bag out into a wide plastic tube. If you're using a patterned bag you should now turn the tube inside-out. If you don't do this then when you start ironing you create a big mess!

Smooth the tube out flat and fold in half. Fold in half again to make a neat rectangle just smaller than the size of an A4 piece of paper.
Heat your iron to a medium-hot setting. Place your folded plastic bag on an ironing board with one piece of paper below it (to protect the board) and one piece of paper above it (to protect the iron). You can use brown paper for this or printer paper, but make sure the paper is bigger than the plastic so nothing gets messy. Open a window to keep your work area well ventilated.

Keeping the plastic safely sandwiched between the layers of paper begin to iron evenly. Iron in smooth even strokes for 15 seconds on one side, flip the whole thing over and repeat. Do this two or three times. You are aiming to fuse the plastic into a smooth sheet. When you peel back the paper you may see bubbles, which indicates that the plastic hasn't fused completely. Sandwich it in paper again and repeat until it is smooth.

You will notice that the plastic shrinks as it heats. To make the base of the placemat you will need to fuse two orange plastic bags separately and then glue them together using craft glue. Leave to dry for a couple of hours and then, using a sheet of paper as a template, trim the edges to make them straight and uniform.
Two fused 'bags'. Glue the long edges together with an overlap of about half an inch
Trim to make approximately A4 in size

Print this pattern out at A4 size:

Fuse two plain white plastic bags and, when they're cool and safe to touch, trim each bag into a curved cheek piece using the pattern above as a template. Arrange the cheek pieces on the base and glue them into place. They should overlap slightly. Allow them to dry fully, at least a couple of hours, before reinforcing with your sewing machine. Set the machine to a zig-zag stitch and, using white thread, sew just inside the edge of each cheek piece as well as down the middle where they

Position the cheek pieces and glue into place

Set to zig-zag stitch

Sew the cheek pieces to reinforce

Fuse one black plastic bag as before and cut two eyes and a nose from it using the template above. One black plastic bag should be more than enough to make eyes and noses for a set of four placemats. As with the cheek pieces these should be glued into position and, when dry, sewn either by hand or with a sewing machine using black thread.

Here is my kitchen table complete with fox mats, fox cushion and even a fox handbag, and so the obsession continues!

Plastic bag fusing takes quite a lot of practice, so don't lose patience if your first attempts don't work out as planned. Be careful with the iron, and make sure you ventilate your work space well. Many thanks to One Crafty Place for the inspiration. Good luck and stay crafty!

LL xx

Saturday, 19 January 2013

23 Questions

Life been pretty quiet since Christmas, I've just been catching up on some old craft projects, applying for jobs and putting together the next issue of Cassiopeia. There are plenty of tutorials coming including more plastic bag crafts and a guide to making a celebration quilt, but in the mean time here's a little more about me, courtesy of the lovely Make do and Mend

1. Do you have a middle name?
I didn't used to, by which I mean I wasn't given one when I was born, so I always felt a little left out. When I got married I decided to take my maiden name as my middle name. My husband's middle name is a surname, so it just seemed to fit!

2. What is your favourite drink?
Tea, hands down.

3. Who is your all time favourite musician/band?
The Magnetic Fields. If you haven't heard of them check them out here. Funny, dark, lyrically brilliant.

4. What is your job?
I don't have one at the moment (hence the job applications) but I'm hoping to get a job in marketing or copywriting.

5. What is your dream job?
What I do now, only being paid for it! I love editing and writing and I'd love to be a professional writer.

6. What is your favourite song at the moment?
The new gypsy style reworking of 'The Beginning of the Twist' by The Futureheads. I challenge anyone not to dance when this is playing!

7. What would you name your kids or next pets?
There are loads of girls' names I love, flower names like Poppy and Daisy, or cute names like Maisy and Milly. Boys' names I have no idea about!

8. Do you participate in any sports, if so which?
I like swimming, but I'm not competitive at all.

9. Favourite book?
Milan Kundera's 'Immortality', with Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities' coming a close second.

10. Favourite colour?

11. Favourite animal?
The red panda. I also love foxes, owls and reindeer.

12. Favourite holiday?
Our honeymoon to the Isles of Scilly. I hope we'll go back some day!

13. Where would you like to go on holiday?
Canada to visit friends or Japan to do touristy things (like the Ghibli museum)

14. What countries have you visited?
Ireland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Beguim, The Netherlands, Swizerland, The Czech Republic, Italy, Greece and China.

15. Do you speak any other languages?
Shamefully no.

16. Do you have siblings?
One brother.

17. What is your favourite shop?
Haberdasheries or comic book shops.

18. Favourite restaurant – what do you order?
Sushi restaurants - inari nigiri (tofu pockets)

19. Did you like school, what was your favourite subject?
I loved school and was the archetypal teacher's pet. English was by far my favourite subject and still is.

20. Favourite blogger?
I love my friends' blogs best, Dreyma, Eminance Graisse I'm thinking of you.

21. Favourite movie?
For relaxation probably 'Funny Face' or 'Harvey'. For brain food 'The Fountain'.

22. Favourite TV show?
Adventure Time!

23. What is most valuable piece of advice you have ever been given?
Be the change you want to see in the world.