Toadstool Curio Blog
The home of an ecclectic range of paper, digital, fabric and yarn crafts, plus a few mixed media projects to spice things up a bit!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Magical Land of Oz

I am in love with the range of Wizard of Oz papers from Grapic 45. My children love the film, so I had to have every paper in the range. I think that the vintage look co-ordinates well with my recent blog freebie of bingo cards, so I have started crafting with them together. This is the first project I have made from the combination. It is a collage-style card, but also doubles as the cover for a desk calendar for a friend's christmas gift.

To make the two small panels featuring Dorothy and the Wizard, I cut the images from one of the Graphic 45 sheets then liberally applied glossy accents. When completely dry, I crumpled the glossy paper to crack the glaze. I then rubbed distressing ink into the cracks to highlight them.

The ruby coloured flower with the emerald centre is, of course, made using the Tim Holtz Tattered Florals die. Liquid pearls were used to highlight the centre of the petals. I made it to resemble the poppies in the Graphic 45 image, which I also brushed with liquid pearls. I mounted the various elements onto a background of gingham paper to go with the Dorothy theme and added a red and white tab with ruby ribbon bow.

Using fabric Mod Podge, I layered the ruby velvet ribbon on the card and ruffled it to add more texture. I made a 'badge' from the Oz 'logo' and added another emerald gem. The whole thing was then generously spritzed with ranger bronze perfect pearls mist.

I made calendar pages to co-ordinate with this cover and fastened it all together with more velvet ruby coloured ribbon.

I would like to enter this calendar card into a couple of blog challenges:
Charisma Cardz 'cuties' challenge. Dorothy is a cutie isn't she?
Papertake Weekly's 'When is a card not a card...'

That's me finished now. I have to be in hospital by 7am in the morning for my operation. I may not be up to actual crafting for a little while as I may not be able to get out of bed to get to my craft stash (sooo frustrating when your head is full of ideas!!), but I will be working on digital goodies and more digital layouts for an album I am trying to finish by Christmas.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Freebie - Naughty or Nice?

In the hope that I'll be on the 'nice' list compiled by the jolly fella, I thought I would post a freebie here that I have made for my cards and projects this Christmas. Having said that, it is so cold in my house today that I think the lump of coal delivered to naughty children could come in handy...

When I have finished a project using 'the list', I'll post that here too, but in the meantime, I am sure you'll have lots of great ideas to make use of this fun printable. Resize it, recolour it as you wish. I just ask that when you copy it, that you leave me a comment and consider following my blog. I am aiming to post regular freebies and that way you won't miss any.

You are welcome to post details of my freebies on your blog, but please direct people here to download them for themselves.

I'd love to see what you do with it. If you post details about a project using 'the list' on your blog, please send me a link and I'll show it here too.

I'm having my next operation in a couple of days, so wish me luck! I guess I wont be able to stand at all for a while afterwards, which means lots of time at the computer, so watch out for more printables soon.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Freebie - Anyone for Bingo?

A few years ago, when Bingo cards became popular in scrapbooks, particularly in digi layouts, I made a few different types for my own for use in my papercraft projects. I use them on cards, layouts, gift vouchers, mini books, etc. Maybe because I love playing bingo, but also because I love collecting and using real ephemera or fake ephemera if the real thing isn't available.

I am not a regular gambler and am not keen on online bingo or playing at giant bingo halls, but I do love a game of 'housey housey' at amusement arcades and holiday parks. I have very fond memories of playing bingo with my grandmother on precious trips to the seaside. Not for the prizes, but just the sheer thrill of the chance of winning and frantically trying to keep up with checking off the numbers. I even got my husband hooked on it when we went on holiday to Malta about ten years ago. We used to return to the same town every year as we love the country so much. One of the real treats was playing a nightly game of bingo at the hotel after dinner. We are passed the age of going clubbing and don't like pubs, so it was an ideal night out for us before a walk along the seashore and an hour visiting the tourist shops to browse local crafts and souvenirs.

Anyway, I was working on another project using one of my bingo cards and thought I would share with you. If you would like to download it, just copy the picture and use as you wish. I just ask that you leave me a comment and consider following my blog. If you would like to share with a friend, or on your own blog, please use the link to this post and they can copy the file themselves.

When I've finished the project using the card, I'll add that here too. I've also got a few more freebies to share over the next few days as I finish editing them and tidying up the edges. I hope you'll visit again and download them too.

Here are a few slight variations for you too. Just save to your pc and use as you wish.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A Note of Thanks

As many of you will know, I had an accident back in June and that, combined with complicated health problems, means that I am unable to walk more than a few steps. This means that I am unable to either walk or drive my children home from school. This past week they have been collected by a new neighbour of ours who also has children at the same school. Usually, Claire would drive to pick her son up, but with her own three children in the car, she would be unable to pick my two up as she only has a 5-seat car. Because of this, Claire kindly walked to collect them each day, even though on Friday her son was not going home at the same time as my children, she still made the journey to collect Oliver and Purdey.
This has saved us a small fortune this week in childcare (plus it means that the our two monkeys came home straight after school rather than moaning about going to after school club). Claire would not accept anything for this enormous favour, so I have made her a little gift box and 6 notecards to express our gratitude. I don't usually do miniature, but it made sense as a gift to give mini notelet sized cards.
All six cards feature Pollycraft digi stamps and paper from my varied stash. The images are coloured with Promarkers and Flex Markers and then die cut with a selection of Nellies, Nestabilties and Lifestyle dies. The edges are distressed with the obligatory Ranger corduroy distressing ink and there has been a fair bit of sanding going on. There is also glitter, mica mist and stickles galore, both on the box and the cards. I made the envelopes as the cards are an odd size. I have used lick and stick envelope glue so that there is no need to use ds tape. They are still drying on my craft table, I am just hoping they will be dry soon so that I can package them up in order for the children to deliver them to Claire in the morning, along with a lovely bunch of peach coloured roses.
I would like to enter my project (which has taken about 15 hours to make!) into the following challenges:
Pollycraft's Anything Goes
The Pink Elephant's TPE123 Distressing
Papertake Weekly Challenge's Anything Goes (plus a bit of bling)

I just hope this loads as I am having hideous internet connection problems, compounded by IE8 crashing every time I try to load a page. I am using Google Chrome to try to overcome it, but still have an internet connection at the pace of a snail!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Take One - Part 3

Firstly, apologies for the TERRIBLE photos of the layouts.

The super talented SJ at Little Musings (amongst other places) has challenged us with 'Take One', where she invites us to take a good long look at some of our previous scrap layouts, choose one element that we love and use that element on a new piece of work. What an amazing idea! Over at her blog, SJ has fortnightly videos on the Take One challenge, giving hints and inspiration to anyone who wants to play along. The thread can also be found at UK Scrappers, where SJ regularly gives us great inspiration, freebies and allround crafting enthusiasm.

I decided to join in the challenge with one of my favourite techniques. I just love laying vellum over photos and adding detail on them. The layout I took my inspiration from was one I made for an album for my aunt and uncle (who sadly died from cancer a year ago tomorrow - you'll never be forgotten Uncle Ken!). The photo wasn't the greatest quality, which is why I overlaid the photo with vellum in the first place.

The second layout features my beautiful neighbour Laraine on her wedding day. I added the sheer vellum overlay and, I don't know why, but I started doodling with the white pen (that hardly ever leaves my hand) and this was the result! I just love it! If it wasn't so weird having a photo of my neighbour in my house, I would put this on my wall.

So, thanks SJ. I have really enjoyed this challenge and hope to join in next time. I already have another element in mind, but can I cheat and use a digital next time??

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Jules' Blog Candy

What is better than Trick or Treat candy? Crafty Blog Candy, that's what!! The lovely and talented Jules is offering blog candy. What a sweetie (sweetie, get it? Ha, ha I'm just so funny - not!!).

Do stop by Jules' blog and have a look at her gorgeous crafty projects. She has some really great ideas that I'm sure you'll love.

Just for fun, I thought I'd add a pic of two of my halloween monsters a couple of years ago. Now, is that a big pumpkin, or did my children shrink?

Oh, and by the way, who forgot to feed the pole dancer?

Don't forget, in my previous post I have a freebie for you to download!

Happy Halloween

Mwa, ha, ha, haaaaaa

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Freebie No. 1

I have a little freebie for you. Some sentiments in the style of tickets. I am still stuck on this trend for using tickets, real or 'faux'. One of the things I compulsively hoard is tickets (plane, boat, theatre... you get the picture), so quite appropriate that I use them a lot on my craft projects.

This file is saved at 150 dpi, so is fine for home printing at upto A4. I've put 24 on a sheet to make it easier to print loads in one go, saving cardstock and effort!They are mostly in black and white, a few coloured. Mostly straightforward birthday, with a 'happy anniversary', 'just for you', 'with love' and 'good friend' thrown in for good measure. I'll make some others for different occasions when I get a chance - it is nearly midnight and I might turn into a (Halloween) pumpkin if I don't think about going to bed soon.

The tickets look cool printed onto biscuit or kraft coloured card stock (even the coloured ones). You can resize them, crop them to print just a few, recolour them etc. Use them as you wish! Oh, if you can't be bothered to curve the corners by hand and don't have a ticket punch, a cropodile will nibble the corners nicely if printed at 100%.

I'd be grateful if you would leave me a comment and become a follower (way down at the bottom of the page). That way, I'll know you've stopped by and you'll know when I make up the next freebie. Please feel feel to post a link to this page on your blog, rather than sharing the JPEG. Thank you.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Paper Bag Recycling

I recently placed another order with one of my favourite companies, Riky and Nina, who sell the most gorgeous little gifts, craft supplies (their paper tapes are sooo pretty), stationery, accessories and so much more! As usual, my order came beautifully wrapped in a paper bag, this time it was a lovely vintage newspaper print paper bag. Last time, it was a bag printed with muted dusky pink and red roses.

As I love paper and hate to throw it straight into the recycling sack, I always try to find another use for it. These paper bags were crying out to be made into something crafty, so I set to work. I had a couple of blog challenges in mind (what a surprise I hear you gasp!). The current challenge at Crafty Ribbons is 'Bingo'. I love this challenge! You choose a line of three items from the bingo board and have to use those three elements in your project. I chose the line featuring flowers, punches/dies and ribbon. I also had the 'To the Letter' challenge at the Craft Den's Anything Goes challenge blog. For my letters (the sentiment doesn't count), I have the newsprint and also the wire tag tie, which says 'Tied Together With Love'.

The card has 5 main papers layered up, with punched borders of Bazzill and some lovely threaded ribbon across the middle. I die cut layers using good old trusty nestabilities, added a sentiment based on SJ's freebie template and finished the tag with a wire bag closing tie. As usual, I did a bit of doodling with a white gel pen, sanded the Bazzill and used Tim Holtz distress ink on the edges of the layers. The whole thing is mounted on some biscuit card stock to make a card measuring up at a rather large 19x24cm.

Finally, back to where this post started. The paper bags! I made the flower from a few layers of printed vellum and paper bags, die cut with my spiral blossoms Spellbinder die. I then liberally doused it with glossy accents and tipped glass floristry beads in the centre whilst the glossy accents was wet. It is hard to see in the photo, but the combo of glossy accents and vellum on top of the printed paper bag make the flower look like glass. I love it! I'll certainly be making more - just as soon as I stock up on more glossy accents. I think I emptied it all onto this flower (oops!). Oh, and just as soon as my next order comes from Riky and Nina to restock my pretty paper bag stash of course!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

About Face

Another blog challenge, another excuse to blog about a recently made card. I love doodling and having a go at manga-style drawings. I'm not great at it, but it's fun and keeps me out of trouble! I like to use them on my cards, and this is one of the finished projects.

I would like to enter my card into this week's OCCC 'Fabulous Faces' challenge. I think it fits the bill! The talented team at Our Creative Corner's challenge blog have set the bar to a very high level, so there is sure to be plenty to inspire you on the site.

Anything Goes - part 3

My third and final project for this week's Charisma Cardz 'Anything Goes' blog challenge is an unusual one for me. It is a scrapbook page that I made for an album for some friends celebrating their first anniversary. The page features a little pencil drawing I did of the pair of them in the garden of their wedding venue (cooling Castle Barn near Rochester in Kent). I wasn't at the wedding, so the sketch is from a photograph taken by their niece. I used the actual photo in a layout on the facing page, but kept this page simple so that the drawing was centre stage. I don't know why I did it really, I am not very good at drawing, the whim just took over me and I decided that I would give it a go. I have added a close-up of the sketch, so those of you who are gifted artists can moan to yourselves about the terrible drawing odd perspective.

Anyhow, those of my three diverse projects, from three different crafts to enter into the challenge. I hope you like them! I know I have enjoyed browsing through the fab projects at Charisma Cardz. Pay them a visit. I am sure you will love them too.

Anything Goes - part 2

My second project for this week's Charisma Cardz 'Anything Goes' blog challenge is my most recent bunch of hand sewn hair clips, made from felt scraps left over from the batch of whimsy dolls I made last Christmas. I really love these and have to actually put my little basket of scraps away otherwise I would continue making them until our house is overrun with hair clips! Atleast my daughter and I have long hair, so can make use of them! Sewing them by hand is really theraputic and I enjoy the fact that they are made with such tiny scraps that would otherwise be thrown away.

Anything Goes

As you will know by now, I am hooked on Blog Challenges. I am still relatively new to them, but love them all the same. Some challenges have prizes, others do not. Sometimes entries are judged on skill, artistic/crafty talent etc. and some blogs use random selection to choose winners. I just love the fun of entering whatever the outcome.

This week's challenge over at Charisma Cardz is 'Anything Goes' and they really do mean anything! Not just papercraft projects, but anything crafty! I love lots of different crafts and always have several projects on the go. This week's challenge gives me an excuse to post piccies of 3 of my finished projects, one knitted, one sewn and, for good measure, a scrap layout including a sketch (that is, a pencil drawing as opposed to the meaning of 'sketch' as a diagram for a design layout). In order to enter them all into the challenge, each project must be posted separately, so I will give each it's own little bit of bloggy space.

The knitted project, as you can see, is a sweet little pair of baby shoes knitted in bamboo yarn from Rowan, modelled by my son at 2 days old! I love making them and have made many, many pairs for all of my children and for friends too. I love this pair, because of their simplicity. I have made far fancier pairs, with cabling and so on, but I actually love the garter stitch side out, with the smooth stocking stitch inwards for the baby's comfort.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Best Witches

When surfing through Lifestyle Crafts' website (formerly Quickutz) recently, I saw a really cute Halloween card. Here is my own version, a straight forward, no-excuses 'card lift'. I used a bat background image from Linda Tieu at Back to Paper. I drew the witches legs myself and drew in the text before colouring it with Promarkers and highlighting with white gel pen. I used a few types of green and orange papers and some 'pumpkin' ribbon and orange buttons to finish it off.

Just a bit of fun, but atleast my daughter approves!

Spooky Goings On

This week, my children (well, two of them, my 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter) have been in a frenzy of Halloween excitement. I've never really paid it much attention myself, but their excitement is quite infectious. My daughter asks me about 5 times a day how many days left until 31st! I am not keen on them 'Trick or Treating' though as I know that many people do not 'support' Halloween for a variety of reasons and would feel uncomfortable opening their door to hoards of unfamiliar children on the trail of chocolate and sweets.

I am happy for them to carve a pumpkin - in a happy face though as we also have a 2 year old son and I am trying to keep the event as 'unscary' as possible. Our pumpkin is usually more about the autumn harvest than celebrating anything spooky. We'll let them dress up too, but in fairly benign costumes (most likely as a princess and Batman, rather than gore or horror - they are only little!), but instead of Trick or Treating, I have suggested that they visit the neighbours we know to deliver an edible gift. I'll warn the neighbours to expect them though. Our son has Asperger's syndrome and I know that he will not cope very well if every door he knocks goes unanswered!

My parents usually host a small gathering for all of their grandchildren at Halloween, complete with apple bobbing and eating doughnuts off of a string. This year, they are unable to host it as my Gran is very ill and they are visiting the hospital every day. Instead, I think my Mum is buying up half the confectionery aisle at the supermarket for the Grandchildren to share. I think my children will have enough sweets from them that they certainly won't need to Trick or Treat!

As we'll will be delivering little treats to our neighbours, my daughter told me firmly that I needed to make cards as well. I've made a few as I would never hear the end of it otherwise! I have to say that I have enjoyed it though, even if I am a bit of a Halloween humbug! In my defense, it comes from being at a birthday party on Halloween when I was 6 years old and the outside of the house was pelted with eggs and flour bombs as we left the party to go home. I know now that it was just mindless yobs who attacked a party of little children, but I was terrified at the time.

Anyway, on to the important bit of my rambling post - the card! It is made using the cute L'il Spook digi stamp from Pollycraft. Instead of my usual Promarkers, coloured this one with Aquamarkers and Stampin' Up! watercolour pens. I added doodling with a Letraset fineliner in black and a white gel pen. I layered the image on to textured yellow card cut using my lovely new Grand Nestabilities (I know I keep saying it, but I love large cards and large dies!). Again, I doodled stitching around the edge of the die cut. I made an A5 base card from purple card and covered the front in strips of patterned papers. I punched a star border along one edge of each strip and overlaid each one on the layer below so that the 'holes' revealed the colour below. I ruffled the edges of each strip a little bit to add texture too. The card was finished of with a double cross-over wrap of yellow elastic, a little green tag and a trio of yellow buttons.

Unusually for me, I would like to enter my card into a few challenges this week. Pollycraft's 'Spooky Goings On', Crafty Boots 'Autumn or Halloween', Daisy Doodles 'Halloween', Crafty Cardmakers 'Cute with a dark twist', Paper Creations Ink 'Halloween' and Top Tip Tuesday 'Trick or treat'. I only usually enter one at a time, but thought I would go mad today!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Girls, Girls, Girls!

Girls, Girls, Girls! That's the title of this week's challenge on the wonderful Pollycraft challenge blog. Cazza has set this week's fun challenge and has inspired me with her fab creation (as ever!!). The prize is sponsored by Sew Sweet who have a really great online shop for those of us who love to sew as well as play with paper.

As I had to make a card for a friend's birthday this week (hi Melissa - happy 21st!!), I thought I would also use it as my entry into the challenge. I am almost twice Melissa's age, so I guess our tastes are quite different. I hope she likes it.

I have used one of Paula's amazing digi stamps from Pollycraft- Cherry Kisses Li'l Miss Attitude. Not because Melissa has attitude, but because the gorgeous Cherry Kisses girl has beautiful curls just like Melissa. I envy those natural curls!

As usual, I have made a large card - this one is 8x8. I have coloured the image with a mix of pencils and promarkers and mounted it on a panel cut using one of my new Grand Spellbinders super-large dies (thank you, wonderful husband!). The lovely bright butterfly paper is from Echo Park and the russet-red flower burst behind is from one of my favourite paper stacks - the Green Stack from DCWV. The muted green cotton lace is from American Crafts and the flowers are Primas with some glass floristry beads glued in the centre. The sentiment is based on a blank top-note shape from SJ at
Little Musings, which I added my own words, texture and colour to.

These colours are far from my comfort zone, but I wanted something really bright and cheery, not pink and fluffy. Melissa has had a tough year. She is a super hard-working single mum at just 21 years old, juggling caring for her toddler, working full-time and running her houshold. She is my carer and nothing is too much trouble for her. I look forward to her daily visits, which is why I decided on a bright zingy colour palette to bring a bit of cheer and colour to her day.

I hope she likes the card and has a fab birthday.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Craft Supplies Sale!!

I have had an Etsy shop for a little while now, but have never sold any craft supplies, only handmades. It's about time I cleared out some of my stash to make way for all of the beautiful crafty items I have been given for my birthday (which isn't actually until Monday 24th!).

Ebay fees are pretty high these days for 'amateur' sellers, so I thought I would list some of my crafty stash on Etsy instead (far cheaper fees!) in the hope that I can rehome it and make a little money along the way...

If you would like to pop over to my Etsy store to see what I have on offer, I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

In Stitches

Sometimes it is good to send people a card as a way of letting them know that they are in your thoughts. More personal than the usual text or email. Certainly nicer through your letterbox than a credit card bill or road tax reminder!

I came across some old photos recently and I thought I would send a copy to a friend to remind her of old times and to let her know she is in my thoughts. Rather than just emailing them or posting them on their own, I have made a card which will help them to stay uncreased in the post.

This week's Charisma Cardz challenge has the theme of 'In Stitches', which can be real or faux and I am a fan of both. My card has real zig zag stitching across the paper to highlight the 'remember' sentiment, but I chose to make it quite random-looking to fit the style of the distressed paper. I also sewed the purple button onto the ribbon bow rather than just glueing it. I scrunched some damp felt and left it to dry overnight to wrinkle it before hand-cutting rough circles to make a couple of pink flowers. I stitched a pearly button on to the centre to hold the layers together as felt is a bit tricky to glue.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Shapely Card

My daughter is 5 years old. She has a boyfriend. It must be serious, they have been going steady for about 6 months now! She says she loves him because he is so handsome and sweet (which indeed he is!). Ahh, cute!! They are in the same class at infants school, so they see each other most weekdays, but rarely at weekends or in the hols.

Imagine my surprise then when she came home from school last week soooo excited saying 'Now I can see my boyfriend every single day'. 'How is that?', I asked her. Well, it's because his family have moved into the house across the street! Sounds like one of those cutesie teenage movies where the girl falls for the boy next door!

So, I needed to make a 'new home' card for his family. I never need much of an excuse to make a card and it is good to have a reason to make something other than birthday or Christmas cards.

And here it is...

I am really pleased with the mixture of curvy and angular shapes in the scallops and the houses, plus the roadway that I made in photoshop. I used offcuts from the punched scallops to make cloud-like shapes and made up a top-note shaped sentiment. With all of these shapes in mind, I would like to enter this card into the Papertake Weekly Challenge which is themed 'Get in Shape'.

I made a co-ordinating envelope as it is a very large card and I didn't have any ready-mades that fitted the bill. I added co-ordinating paper inside the card with an overprinted sentiment and more scallops just to tie it all together. I just love this ditsy daisy style paper from the very elegant Pink Petticoat. Even better is the fact that it is a digi paper, which means I can print as much as I need in a huge range of colours. I confess to sneaking it into as many projects as possible, along with their gorgeous apple and pear papers and the fab 'Grannies Wallpaper', all available in the same co-ordinating shades.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Aprons, Pinnies and Cover-Ups

I'm not sure why, but another of my favourite things is an apron. I have quite a few, mostly handmade. I have the traditional pinafore type, wrap-overs, tabards and 1940's inspired cover-ups. There is something quite personal about giving an apron (either handmade or shop bought) as a gift. It shows that you care about the person, that you know the sorts of things they like to do and that they like to stay clean while doing it!

Here are just a couple of aprons I have made recently. The red one was for a friend of mine who also loves to craft. I made a wrap over style with pockets for storing odds and ends whilst she is working. It is embellished with ribbons, yo-yos and buttons because she loves them as much as I do.

I made the ice-cream patterned pinnie for my daughter's 6 year old friend. It is made from beautiful quilting cottons, retro ice-cream print for a bit of humour, plus lots of pieces of Moda's Wonderland jellyroll just because it is so pretty and picks up on the ice-cream colours. I had fun with this one, using ruching, patchwork, fabric flowers, buttons and ribbon trim. I used satin ribbon for the ties to make it easy for little fingers to undo.

I have also made aprons for my son and his friends, so that they can wear it whilst playing the Nintendo DS consoles. They have a pocket to keep game cards in and a larger pocket to store the console in when taking a break. I made these from black and white checked print combined with New York Yellow Cab prints and another version featuring aliens and starscapes. I also made aprons for gardeners which I sold at a Christmas craft fayre. Maybe I am not alone in my liking for this most practical of garments?

One of My Favourite Things

I love bags, but in recent years, I have moved away from leather and leather-styles to softer fabric bags. Maybe it is because they tend to be larger and I am generally carrying a ton of baby stuff with me whenever I leave the house, but I think it is most probably because I just love fabrics.

I love making bags and have tried all sorts of patterns and designs of my own, but for a quick and easy handmade gift, I keep coming back to the simple, chuck it all in, bucket-style bag.

As I have been thinking about making myself a new bag, I thought I would share a few snaps of some of the large bucket bags I have made recently. I have used some gorgeous cotton prints (Michael Miller, Cath Kidston, Amy Butler, Moda included), usually using a contrasting lining, also of 100% cotton. If I am using the lighter weight cottons, such as gorgeous quilting fabrics or lovely Liberty lawn prints, I always make sure I have strengthened the bag with a heavy duty interlining. If using cotton duck or similar, such as the Cath Kidston range, I generally just use an equal quality lining, but always double stitch the seams.

Another bag I like to make is the messenger-style, also from 100% cotton. Now that I am using a wheelchair, having an open topped bag is not really great as far as security is concerned. My bag has to go on the back of my chair, so I need to have a flap or fastening to make sure no-one can easily dip their hand in the bag. A wide velcro fastening is a good idea, as it is noisy to open and would get my attention. Perhaps I could just put some of my collection of jingle bells inside the flap, in the same way cat owners attach bells to the little kitties' collars to warn off neighbourhood birdies! An adjustable strap is useful so that it is long enough to go diagonally over my body, but can be shortened when hanging on the handles of the chair. I think I will make a co-ordinating set of one large bag for the back of my chair to hold todller and family essentials (juice, nappies, kitchen sink etc) and a smaller one to wear across my shoulder whilst sitting in the chair. This keeps my hands free to push the wheels, but still means that my phone, purse and medication are within easy reach and are kept safe. My wheelchair is black and grey, so I think muted tones will work best (if I have to use a wheelchair for now, I may atleast be co-ordinated!). I have some black denim and some black and white polka dots fabric. I think a couple of fabric roses made from grey zips and a little felt, a few buttons and some ribbon ties will finish the look. I have just bought myself a new black winter coat. I think I might have to make some matching zipper roses as a brooch for the coat too. A girl can never have too many accessories!

Fancy Folds

I love to make fancy shaped and folded cards but worry that if I send it to someone who is not a card-maker, that they won't understand the design or know how to display it. I have thought that if I batch made the cards, I could use a photo of the finished card to put on the cello packaging as an explanation, but I never really make more than one of the same design. Not even when I am making a hundred cards for our school PTA fundraisers. The joy of crafting for me is that each card is different. I hate repetitive crafting, unless it is for a special event such as a wedding invitation commission. When I do make fancy folded cards, I generally make them for people that we can give the card to in person. For example, my daughter went to her friend's birthday party recently and I made her a side stepper card with additional waterfall mechanism on the main panel. Because my daughter was giving her friend the card at the party, I made an acetate gift box adorned with ribbons to transport the card. Not exactly post-box friendly!

I have also made this rather unusual 4 panel stepper fancy folded card for my identical twin nieces' 2nd birthday. It uses Pollycraft Twiddly Wings images, which I cut and placed, after colouring with Promarkers and Sakura pens, onto a mixture of papers over my super-wide stepper base. I added acetate sheets above the steps for the fairy girls to sit on and to give the illusion of elements floating above the main card. Lots of doodling, gems and glitter were added to make the card appeal to twin toddlers. This definitely requires hand-delivery as it is 50cm wide and most certainly is not up to withstanding the postal system.

This week's Monday challenge at Incy Wincy Designs is for any project which includes folds. Believe me, there were a number of folds used to create this card. Not just for the steps, but on secret little opening panels behind some of the characters and also inside the structure. I hope the twins like it. If you haven't visited Incy Wincy Designs before, do pay them a visit for some great ideas. The challenge is sponsored by Karen's Doodles. This is the first time I have visited Karen's site and I love it! Really well-drawn whimsical digis at great download prices. Another site I am starting a wish list on...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Cause for Celebration

As I have mentioned here previously, I have been working on an album for some friends who married last year. Unfortunately, I have only managed hasty snaps of the pages as they are too large to scan in and I have yet to ask my resident expert to photograph them for me.

This page is quite masculine deliberately because it features the groom's sons. I wanted to lighten it slightly with an injection of my theme colours, so I chose to add texture and colour at the same time with lots of different ribbons. I tied the colours in again with flocking on all of the stamped areas (stamps from Stampin' Up!). The scalloped edge paper is from Papermania. The celebrate wording is printed onto Safmat from Letraset and the paper behind the photograph is from Papermania's capsule collection. It isn't clear on my poor photo, but I have embossed around the image and around the medallion stamp which adds detail without clutter.

I would like to submit this layout as an entry into Crafty Ribbons' challenge this week. They have a great prize of an autumnal tones ribbon bundle, which I would love to win and use of my humble crafting projects.

So Many Cuppas

Although I enjoy a cup of tea and have been a stay-at-home mum for 7 years, I don't think I have ever crept above an average of 2 cups of tea or coffee a day, even though I am never more than a few steps from the teapot. Until now that is. Even through the sleep deprived early months with each of my babies, I didn't resort to much caffeine. Most probably because every time I boiled the kettle, I started doing something else and didn't get around to making the drink. If I did make it, I didn't get chance to drink it. Since my accident earlier this year, I have been spoilt by the carers who come in to look after me at home. I have a cup of tea made for me by each carer at each visit, as well as having a flask of coffee, so my average is most definitely above 2 now.

With so much tea, it seems only fitting that I show you my tea cosy. I love this project. I made it with left overs of some fuschia Rowan chunky yarn, which I used to make cardigans, hats and scarves for my daughter, twin nieces and their teddies. I also made fingerless gloves and a snood for myself, so have made thoroughly good use of the large batch that I bought in a John Lewis sale.

I would like to enter my project into the current Crafty Ribbons blog challenge, anything goes. I have been browsing their store, compiling a huge wish list as I am a real ribbon horder. Just like buttons, I am addicted to ribbons as they feature in so many crafts. You can never have too much!

I think one of the reasons I love ribbon and trimmings so much is that my Grandad was a manager at a company which manufactured trimmings, and long after he died, my Nana still had a large suitcase of ends-of-line and new product samples from his company. As she taught me to sew, I was sometimes allowed to use some of her trimmings supply and still now I think of those times when I am rummaging through my own collection, much of which is vintage in origin.

I bought quite a lot of the polka dot gross grain ribbon that I used in this project. I have it in lots of colours and widths and will be sad when it is all gone. I have used in lots of projects, from cards, scrap layouts and hair slides to embellishments on clothing, vintage-inspired aprons and steam punk style brooches. I also have it holding up a heart-shaped hanging that I made for my craft space and have garnished one of my scrap tote bags with it. Spots and ribbon, what's not to like?

Colourful Inspiration

Oh no. Another source of inspiration. My brain may just explode! I paid one of my regular visits to the Jellypark challenge blog yesterday and discovered a link to a really great website full of colour palettes for designers, crafters and anyone who loves colour. Design Seeds has page upon page of colour co-ordination ideas, just perfect for overcoming designer's block.

Claire at Jellypark has set this week's challenge based on Design Seeds' colour palettes. I have chosen an oldie-but-a-goodie called 'Color Picked' ~ those of us in the UK, please excuse the American spelling! I think I chose this set because it is based on colours that I like to wear and use in home decorating. I think that the start of autumn also influenced me in the selection of heather hues and sage green. Had the birds left any on my trees, these would be the colours of the plums being harvested this month, but I have watched them munching the fruit all summer long.

Anyway, getting back to the challenge... I have made a card using one of Claire Keay's gorgeous images of a little cutie being transported into the sky by her balloon. The colours were perfect for this challenge, although my experiment of using clear stickles over the top of the decoupaged balloon didn't come out as I had expected. I thought the plum colour of the balloon would show through the clear glue base of the stickles, but the colour has split and become bronzy, but still very pretty. That's inkjet ink for you!

I tore the image edges freehand and layered it up at an angle. The backing paper was originally a burgundy colour with white dots, but I coloured over the top with a shale Promarker to give a two-tone look. I then laboriously pushed out a whole 8x8 sheet of die cut flowers (from a Cosmo Cricket kit) to give an interesting layer in sage green with pinks and plums. It took me almost a whole episode of Casualty to push out those flowers with my trusty pokey tool, but then I do have trouble with my hands and wrists!

I coloured some of the tiny paper flowers with promarkers and kept some plain. I layered them up with bronze brads to add more dimension. The muted sage cotton lace is from American Crafts, finished with two overlaying flower shaped brads in complimetary tones (not sure where they were from - they've been in my stash for about 7 years or so!). The sentiment is actually a white icing rub-on from Quickutz, applied to a small piece of patterned cardstock overlaid on another piece of cardstock printed with script over-coloured with Promarkers - phew! I also added more of the flowers and brads to the side of the sentiment for balance. The sentiment just edges over the side of the rectangular card so that it makes it need an 8x8 envelope.

The tomato pip just above the ribbon is the work of my two year old son Joel who helped my husband with the photography. He was at the side of the card when it was being snapped and he thought that the photos were of him. Aah, bless him! I have removed the pip now, but was mid-way through editing the picture before I spotted it, so it is staying. It also made me laugh, not a frequent occurence when one of my projects gets damaged, but Joel is so cheeky, he gets away with it. He is rarely to be found with clean face or hands, so the card got off lightly with just a tomato pip.

Swirls and Pearls

Swirls and Pearls is the theme of the challenge set by Anita on the Pollycraft challenge blog this week. I have chosen to join in using this great Luna Bitterfrost digi stamp designed by Pollycraft's very talented Paula Lee. I coloured it with Promarkers and Flex Markers, grounding the image with the palest of pinks.

For my swirls, I have chosen paisley with funky skull and crossbones in the middles to represent the posion symbol of whatever Luna is working on. The paisley shapes were cut by hand from a matt-stack (Rock Star by DCWV). I love this image of the scientist as I studied Chemistry and worked as a research chemist before my children were born. Perhaps Luna is a prettier version of me in my lab-coat wearing days, even down to the plaits! Not sure my glasses were quite so funky though, just standard eye-protection! I have given her my colouring too, but her lab coat is most definitely cleaner than mine ever was.

For the pearls element of the challenge, I have used a little artistic licence and used Liquid Pearls instead of actual pearl embellishments. Cheeky, I know, but I think that chemist Luna would approve of the use of a synthetic liquid compound instead of solid pearl embellies, don't you?

The very tactile pin dot paper in muted teal and black is from Papermania's Chatsworth Signature A5 range. This paper has a suede-like feel to it and is really nice to handle. I have used other papers from K & Co's designer 6x6 series to add layers and to make the paper-ribbon stripe behind Luna. The overall card was covered in paisley paper from Papermania. The ribbon tied across the card is from Maya Road. It is so thick, it is actually a little like shoe-lace.

My finishing flourish is the 'fumes' from the top of the test tube. I made this using a piece of pink net fabric which I gathered and threaded onto a safety pin before fastening it to the page. I can't say that I ever worked on anything which gave off nice pink coloured fumes, but it adds to the image!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Not Big On Pink

I love pink. I use a lot of pink in my crafting. I also like to wear pink, but it is nice to take a break sometimes. That's what attracted me to the challenge at Our Creative Corner - a challenge to use blue with a little accent in pink. I have made a card formy husband to thank him for decorating my craft room, oops, I mean our dining room! I guess he is glad I didn't ask for that to be pink!

The card is based on blues with some neutral brown, and just a touch of pink in the stickles glitter glue used to highlight some of the detail on the love birds image. The tiny brads in the flowers are my metal element, with ribbon added for good measure and extra texture.

I really enjoyed playing around with textures making this card, carrying the detail on from the stamped image to the background with the simple use of liquid pearls. It represents the colours in the room, with a similar amount of blue, brown and pink.

I have only recently discovered the work of the ladies over at OCC and I know I will be a regular as their designs are really inspiring.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Embellish Me More

This week's challenge at Crafty Emma's is titled 'Embellish Me More' - a challenge to use at least 4 types of embellishments in a papercraft project. My submission is a 12 x 12 scrapbook page, part of an album I have been making for some friends to celebrate their wedding.

The whole album is based on a theme of black, white and claret. The embellishments I have used have mostly been made by me throughout all the pages. I started by using Photoshop to convert the colour photo to black and white then hand colouring the bouquet using Twinkling H2Os. I overlaid vellum which I patterned with superfine holes around the outline of the bouquet. I attached it using small brads. I cut a scalloped border from white paper and embellished it with tiny claret gems. A vellum sentiment accent was added to the side of the photo and a little bird (Stampin' Up!) on a branch punched from black card to highlight the top right over a scalloped mini page. I made a simple white parchment craft border for the left hand side and a mini version of a wedding dress, also from parchment which I hung on a little hanger that I twisted from purple wire. The page was finished off with a white rub-on title 'beautiful'.

Although the overall effect is quite simple, the parchment work took a long time, so the whole page actually took 12 hours! I am pleased with it though, so it was worth the effort.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Love Banner

As much as I love making cards, I know that the person receiving one is most likely to display it for a week then throw it into the recycling. Sometimes it is nice to make something instead of a card. Something the the recipient might keep. Paper bunting banners are great for this. I have made quite a few for friends and family and most of them are still hanging where they were originally placed, which I take as a real compliment and proof that they like their gift.

The banner in the picture above is for our neighbours and good friends to celebrate their anniversary. I will also cheekily be entering it into this week's Jellypark challenge, Pass it On as I will be 'passing it on' to L & J.

There are so many papers, stamps, embellishments and techniques used in this piece. Stampin' Up!, My Mind's Eye, DCWV, Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen, I-Clings, embellishments from Cardinal Colours and Crafts Superstore among others. Most of the inks are Tsukineko Dew Drop Brilliance as I love the subtle shimmer they give. I also used plenty of clear and pearl UTEE, ribbons and buttons from my stash. The jingle bells are from East of India and the diamante ribbon slider is from American Crafts. The base triangles are cut from mountboard and the holes punch (like a hot knife through butter) with my Cropadile.

I have attached old fashioned picture hooks to the ends of the ribbon as our houses are a pair of Edwardian villas, fully equipped with handily placed picture rails for just such hangings!

Pass It On

This week's challenge at Jellypark is titled 'Pass It On'. Perfect! Any papercraft project made to pass on to someone else, a card, a gift, a 'thank you'. For almost 3 months now, my parents have been looking after our youngest child. Joel is a lively (erm, naughty!) 2 year old who loves to climb, explore and raid my Mum's fridge. Every weekday morning, he is whisked off to my parent's house when my husband leaves for work - I have a disability which is currently making it difficult for me to look after Joel when I am on my own. Joel spends the day at 'Nana and Pop's Daycare' and is picked up after his dinner when my husband trudges his weary way home from work (only to have to come in to look after me, our other two children, the house and, of course, Joel).

My Mum and Dad (Nana and Pops) are going on holiday at the end of this week. Off to the beautifully sunny island of Malta for 2 well deserved weeks of swimming, sight-seeing, good food and relaxation. Every year, they return to the same holiday spot. I love it there too and eagerly await their return with video footage of their hols. This year, they have bought a new handycam in preparation for their trip. I decided to buy them a memory card for the camera as a little 'thank you' from me for everything they have been doing to help us since my accident in June.

When we first took my parents with us to Malta back in 2001, my Dad and I became hooked on snorkelling. The sea is so clear and visibilty is perfect for spotting a whole host of sealife. We have taken plenty of underwater photos between us, but my Dad is keen to film underwater too. Move over Jacques Cousteau! Dad has been searching for a reasonably priced underwater camcorder for some time. The one they picked is great for snorkellers. It can be used underwater, is lightweight and operated with one hand. I hope he returns with lots of footage for me to edit anto DVD. Perhaps I can watch the video whilst listening to seaside sound effects and pretend I am there too, or maybe I should lay in the bath to wtach it, just for the watery effect!

The thank you card was made using one of Claire Keay's beautiful images which I downloaded at Crafts U Print and printed onto matte photo paper. The cloud paper is from Pink Petticoat and the ribbon is from Anita's. I made the simple arch shaped banner and the thank you sentiment in Photoshop, layered up with foam dots. The decoupaged elements of the playground scene are layered with Collall dimensional photo glue. I used more of the cloud paper to make a little tag shaped wallet envelope (easy to whip up with my Martha Stewart Score Board) and attached ribbon to the top. I used the wallet to hold the camcorder memory card, so the card acts as gift wrap too. I slotted the little package behind the top layer of the 'Nana and Pop's' banner and held it temporarily in place with a repositionable glue dot so that it didn't fall out, but also so that when it is removed, it doesn't damage the surface of the card.

My husband delivered the card this morning and my Mum tells me that Dad is already using it to film Joel's naughty antics in their flower and veggie filled garden. Now, if only he would stop sneakily picking their home-grown tomatoes and raiding the fridge... Go on Joel, Pass It On.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How Do You Use Yours?

I have always loved ribbon. I mean, reeeeaally loved ribbon! I use it in crafts of all kinds. I sew with it, make jewellery with it, knit with it and, of course, papercraft with it. Over at Netty's Cards, there is some gorgeous ribbon blog candy up for grabs from Fantastic Ribbons. Annette would just like to know our favourite ways to use ribbons. Do I really have to pick just one?

At the moment, I love randomly pleating them and stapling them to give a 'grunge' effect. I also like inking them up to change the look (Promarkers are great for this). I like to weave them, stamp on them, make flowers with them, knot them, tie them in bows and use them to attach embellishments. I use them to hide seams and glued areas, to add texture and movement and to draw the eye to one particular area.

Is there anything we don't use ribbons for? I look forward to reading what other followers of Annette's blog do with theirs.

What's New Pussycat?

Until I started taking part in papercraft challenges (just 3 weeks ago), I had never made a card using a sketch as the outline idea. I been making cards for 13 years, but have always used my own ideas or used other cards for inspiration, but more in the sense of the overall feel rather than the positioning of the design elements. This is only the third card I have made based on a sketch, but I think I may be hooked!

I am still just finding my feet in entering challenges, so I have only really entered one card in each challenge and used each card for just one challenge so far. With this card, I am going for it - two challenges with one card! I would like to enter this card in Fetch-a-Sketch challenge 6 as well as the Charisma Cardz challenge on the theme of 'inspired by a song'.

The digi stamp of Lil Kitty made me think of the Tom Jones song as soon as I saw it on the Pollycraft site, so when I saw the Charisma Cardz challenge, I knew I had to use it. My daughter loves this image and had to have her own copy to colour too. The stamp is coloured using Promarkers and is mounted on an iridescent scalloped circle, layered onto a ditsy print paper. As with my Alien Adventure card, I have double embossed around the central panel on the white 8x8 card base and infilled with Flexmarker colouring to make the image 'pop'. The scalloped dotty strip is from Polkadoodles 'Double Sprinkle of Kraft' CD. The two scrunched paper flowers are made from scalloped circles cut from the Financial Times, coloured with Promarkers and glazed with silicone glue, which also stiffens them and holds them in shape. The sentiment is stamped onto a chipboard circle and the card is finished off with a circular tab at the top left. Phew! Lots of the detail of this card, such as the double embossing, don't show on the photo, but they make it look 'high quality' close up and hopefully let the recipient know that we care for her very much.

I would like to thank the designers who have set these challenges and, of course, the prize sponsors. You are helping to keep my hands and brain occupied at a very stressful time in my life!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Alien Adventure

Having been working on cards for men this weekend, I thought I would make a card for a younger member of the male gender. This card is for a friend of my son who will soon be 7. It is made with the Stamp Fairy challenge in mind, which, this fortnight, is based on one of their sketches.

The card base is 8x8, so it is actually made from two card sheets joined together with the seam inside disguised by the insert. The central base panel is iridescent paper from Kanban. It is hard to photograph, so the colours don't look as though they go together - but trust me, they do! It is green with a sheen of purple in the right light. I embossed around the outside of this layer and infilled the area with purple Promarker and Sakura gelly roll pens. It doesn't look like it in the photo, but it makes the central panel really stand out against the white border. The scalloped circle was hand-cut with a pair of fancy scissors borrowed from my 5 year old daughter's craft cupboard! Most of the papers are Cosmo Cricket, with a little Papermania thrown in for good measure! The cute alien stamp is, of course, from Stamp Fairy, coloured with Promarkers and Flex Markers with a little doodling using a Letraset 0.5mm drawing pen. The sentiment was stamped onto white card which I inked up to tone in with the alien background layer. The three circles at the top left were cut from a 6x6 paper sheet, accented with Sakura gelly roll and glaze pens then layered up with foam dots. I love the circular foam dots (from The Range) as they are easy to peel and the 'left over' sticky foam is great for giving dimension to larger areas. They are great value too at just 99p per pack. I added lots of doodle detail all over the card and also used very thin strips of paper along my main stripes just for extra dimension and detail without cluttering the overall look of the project.

Creative with Chipboard

Over at Kaboodle Doodles Challenge Blog, challenge 84 this week is to make a papercraft project using chipboard.

My project to enter into the challenge is a cute little autograph book for my niece. The covers are made from chipboard and the front is embellished with a chipboard flower and button, which I painted with paint daubers. The covers are decorated with ice-cream themed paper and the inside pages are decorated with chipboard shapes with a foodie theme (mostly freebies from magazine cover gifts). It is held together using the Bind it All and the wires are decorated with ribbon snips. The embossed metal frame on the front is from Making Memories.

My niece is in her final year at primary school, so I thought it would be nice to give her this so that she can record memories of her school and for her friends to write little messages and draw doodles in. I hope she likes it!

Anything But A Card

This week's challenge from Quirky Crafts is set by Caro and she has chosen Anything But a Card (ABC) as the ABC made her think of her son starting school for the first time. The start of the school year makes me think that I need to start on making Christmas gifts. Handmade gifts deserve handmade packaging, so here is the first of many!

This gift box is made using a recycled plastic cake box from a supermarket. It is so straight forward that it is easy to batch make if you need lots. Unfortunately, it would mean eating lots of cakes to get enough boxes though...

I used a scalloped edge punch to make 2 rows of trim from Bazzill basics for the sides. I cut strips of striped paper to make a decoration and to hide the seams, then topped it with red and white grossgrain ribbon. I made a ribbon flower and a paper flower for the top. Using small paper off cuts and a sentiment stamp, I made a gift tag and washing instructions label (for the hand knitted gloves inside). It was finished off with a simple ribbon bow. The box is made so that it can be opened without damaging it. That way, it can be used again by the recipient. More recycling!

My top tip is to use a really good adhesive as it can be tricky to get the paper to stick to the plastic.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A Card for a Friend

Making cards for men can be tricky. If they have an obvious hobby or interest, that can give you a head start, but there are only so many cards you can make for the same person on the same subject! This card is for a friend's husband. I like the fact that it is quite masculine, but is softened by the ribbons which tie it closed, rather than just being decorative.

The papers are all from my long-held stash. The embossing plate is QuicKutz and the scalloped punch is Woodware. The word 'Friend' is stamped using Versa Fine onto vellum and attached over the ribbon to finish the card.

I would like to enter this into the Stamps R Us challenge, this week entitled 'Friendship'.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Polkadoodles Challenge Week 34

Firstly can I say, I somehow managed to make the colours seem quite garish in this image. The original card and photo are far more tastefully coloured! It seems to be something to do with compressing the image size. Not sure why though.

This week's blog challenge over at the Polkadoodles blog is to use some of Nikky Hall's fab spotty, dotty papers from her great collection of CD's. The choice of papers can be combined with any stamped image and can be for any occasion.

I have made so many cards over thelast year using Nikky's papers and I especially love polka dots. For this challenge, I decided to base my card around the scarecrow digi stamp from Sundae of Seasons as it is one I haven't yet used and I was looking for an autumnal feel The lady scarecrow is teamed with the funky giant spots kraft paper from Double Sprinkles of Kraft CD. As I couldn't resist using some small polka dots in there somewhere, I also used a dotty border from the same CD. I added a little colouring on the scalloped border using Flexmarkers, so that it would tone in with the kraft background.

I wanted the card to be a little different from the others I have made before with the spotty papers, so I decided on an acetate rounded front. I made a simple mechanism so that the card folds out flat into an 8x8 envelope for posting, then the recipient just slots a tab of the acetate into the back of the card to turn it into a dimensional bow front. I used two of Nikky's stamps, the fence and the barrel of apples (also from Sundae of Seasons), coloured them with Promarkers and Flexmarkers before mounting them with foam dots on the outside of the acetate. They are highlighted slightly with some Sakura glaze and stardust pens. The scarecrow herself is mostly coloured using Flexmarkers and is mounted using two layers of sticky pads to make her pop out from the background. The card is finished with one of the Polkadoodles versatile sentiments with a little Sakura glaze over the top.

I think I will recreate this idea with lots of other images as it was actually quite simple once I figured out what I wanted to achieve and how to make it suitable for posting.