Tuesday, 1 August 2017

and the winner is....

Thank you to everyone who has entered the #CraftBlogClub giveaway to win a copy of Jenniffer Taylor's book, Girl With A Sewing Machine.

All the entries have been put into the List Randomiser on Random.org and the winner is.....

(drum roll)

.... Claire Davies!

Congratulations Claire!  Please email me your details via craftblogclub@gmail.com and I will send you this great book.

Sorry if you haven't won but don't worry, you can find Jenniffer's book here.

Before you go, don't forget you can join our #CraftBlogClub every Tuesday 7-8pm on Twitter.

P.S. The amazon link is affiliated.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Blogtacular 2017....

Blogtacular 2017
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
Last month I attended Blogtacular for the first time and it was amazing!  So before I tell you all about the weekend, what is Blogtacular? 
"Blogtacular is the place for people whose hearts beat with creativity to come together to meet, share and inspire."
It's not just for bloggers, it's for small businesses/entrepreneurs that have an online presence.

The past few years I read everyone's posts about Blogtacular and wishing I had been there but I was put off by the price.  The more I read about it and how people go year after year I decided to take the plunge and invest in myself and I am so glad I did. It is worth every single penny and this is why....

My tribe 
This was the ethos of the event, the creative community. The goody bag says it all....
Goody bag my tribe
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
It was great being with creative people who get you and understand when you say you're a blogger, no explanation needed! 

Meeting lots of like minded people was definitely a highlight for me.  I got to meet people who I admire and follow on social media as well as catch up with friends I already know and make new ones.

There were lots of opportunities to socialise on the day of the conference but they also had fringe events on the Friday which were a great way to get to know people.  There were simultaneous photowalks and a videowalk across London. I went on the photowalk in East London around Shoreditch, there'll be another blog post with all my photos from this but in the meantime you can check out the hashtag #Blogtacularphotowalkeast on Instagram.

On Friday night there was a get together at West Elm which if you have not been is an amazing shop selling unique furniture and home decor.  This was a time to chat, mingle and drink unicorn smoothies! I actually didn't get to try the smoothie as there was a huge queue for them so I stuck to the cider that was on offer, that's more my thing anyway.

Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular

There were opportunities to discuss various topics in groups.
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular

Unicorn smoothie!
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
It was an early 8:30am start on the day of the conference but we were welcomed with pastries and decent coffee, this was a good sign that it was going to be a good day! 

There were three sessions of workshops with a choice of four for each one but I didn't miss out, all of the sessions were filmed so we can access them at a later date. What a relief as it was hard to choose but before the workshops we were welcomed with a keynote by Natalie Lue....
Natalie Lue ~ @baggagereclaim / @natlue
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
Natalie delivered lots of positive messages and shared her pearls of wisdom....
"Creativity can't be controlled. Be open, let it go!"
"Take Action - Nothing is Perfect"
"Your Plan is not THE Plan"
A moment of clarity and reassurance came when Natalie started talking about how nothing is linear. "By doing A then B and C does not mean X,Y and Z will happen". This is so true, it can be so frustrating when you do all the right things and the outcome you planned for doesn't happen!  It's just the way it is sometimes and it happens to everyone at some point.

Natalie's address has made me really look at what I want from my business not what I think I should be doing.  I need to believe more in what I do. 

What impressed me about all the speakers was they inspired and shared their knowledge without a sales pitch or talking about themselves. The sessions were jam packed with useful information.


My first session was creative writing, can you tell?!
Greta Solomon ~ @greta_solomon / @Greta.Solomon
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
Greta shared brilliant techniques to use and we had an opportunity to practice them in the session.  This was helpful for any type of writing and will help me find my style as well as help with product descriptions.

Next up for me was storytelling through Instagram...

Katy English ~ @MissKatyEnglish / @misskatyenglish
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
This has made me take a step back and look at my overall brand and how I communicate with you all across social media. It turns out I don't need to put everything on Instagram!  By sticking to 2 or 3 themes not only is my feed consistent but it's easier to manage. Everything else can go on stories which I have been using a lot more since.

The other workshop I chose to attend was on self doubt....

Sas Petherick ~ @saspetherick
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
“Self doubt has absolutely nothing to do with your capability”.
OMG! This workshop was designed for me! I am frequently consumed by self doubt which can lead to anxiety.  Sas's thoughts on self doubt were so insightful and the exercises she took us through really helped me understand what my fears and self doubt mean. 

The group was great as everyone was sharing their stories and fears (even I had a go on the microphone!). It turns out I'm not alone in the self doubt camp.  I'm thinking of doing a post dedicated to this, what do you think?

Closing Keynote was by Emma Gannon.....

Emma Gannon ~ @emmagannon / @emmagannonuk
Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
Emma talked about the current climate and how blogging is not just about the blog anymore. It’s about creating a platform, and using that platform for other things. 

We are a generation of more than one skill, Emma is a Blogger / Podcaster / Author, I'm a Designer / Maker / Blogger / Small Business owner, what are you?

Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
Attention to detail

I loved the attention to detail, the amount of hard work and thought that was put in to make sure it was a quality, enjoyable event.  Even in the run up to the event the emails, Twitter chats and blog posts made me feel less nervous as a newbie and I knew what to expect.  

The venue was decorated by the talented B of Pop Pop Papier.  She filled the space with colourful balloons and streamers that were Intasgram-tastic! It even gave me the opportunity to finally update my profile picture. 

Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular

Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular

The food was amazing! Lets just take a minute to appreciate these amazing chocolate puddings we had at lunch....

Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular

Image (c) Amber-Rose Photography / Blogtacular
I would never make a food blogger because I eat everything before taking any photos so you'll have to trust me on this, the food was amazing and there was plenty of it for breakfast, lunch and breaks.

We were even provided notebooks (this will make it easier to find my notes to refer back to in the future instead of trying to work out which notebook they are in!). My notebook was designed by Katie Moody and Cakes with Faces designed the other one, her website is worth checking out especially this t-shirt which I now own.

As we left we got a goody bag, the print was designed by Judy Andrews ad look at the goodies we got inside....

Goodies by Hello MemoCraftiosityCrafty Fox Market & Shopping with SoulTwin PinesBaking Time ClubCult Vision and A Spoonful of Sugar Co alongside a Blogtacular planning notepad.
There was also a beautiful biscuit by Honeywell Bakes, and chocolate by Chococo,but they got eaten on the train on the way home, I told you I'd make a terrible food blogger!

I think this was the right event at the right time for me. I want to grow creatively as well as grow my business but I haven't felt confident to take the exciting but unknown path. The overall experience made me realise that I've given myself too many parameters to live and work by, but screw that!  It's time to go forth and chase those dreams.

Hopefully you are still with me, it's a lengthy post but I couldn't leave anything out!  
I can't wait for Blogtacular 2018, will I see you there?

This post contains photos by Amber-Rose Photography who were the professional photographers of the event and Blogtacular who have kindly allowed attendees to use them. I have credited the images that are not mine.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Girl With A Sewing Machine Book Giveaway....

A Girl With A Sewing Machine Giveaway

We're very excited at #CraftBlogClub HQ, Jenniffer Taylor and her publishers have kindly given us a copy of her new book to give away!  

This is a great book for beginners and anyone who is looking to improve their sewing skills. By the end of this book you will have a greater understanding of garment construction which will unleash your creativity and the ability to create your own unique wardrobe. You can read my full review here.

There are a number of ways you can enter this giveaway and the best part is each one will be counted as one entry, so do all three and you will be entered three times!

1. Please leave a comment below about why you would love to win this book
2. Share this post on Twitter, tagging @craftblogclub and using the hashtag #CBCgiveaway
3. Give the #CraftBlogClub Facebook page a like and leave a comment on the giveaway post on why you'd love to win, or like one of the other comments.

Deadline for entries is 31st July at 11:59pm (BST)

The winner will be picked at random using random.org and will be announced during the Twitter chat on 1st August at 7pm (BST) as well as on this blog and on Facebook.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Book Review ~ Girl With a Sewing Machine By Jenniffer Taylor

Girl With A Sewing Machine by Jenniffer Taylor Book Review

I was so excited when I received Jenniffer's debut book, Girl With A Sewing Machine.  If you do not recognise the name let me tell you a little bit about Jenniffer....  Her sewing journey started with her wedding dress, yep she began with a small project?!?! This created a love affair with sewing and thanks to her hubby secretly applying she was a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee. Now you can find her on the Sewing Quarter channel, teaching workshops and creating a #sewingrevolution! #CraftBlogClub has also had the privilege of her being a guest host and taking part in the upcycling challenge.

The cover says it's a no-fuss guide and that's what I love about this book the most, the get stuck in and sew!  Being a self taught seamstress there is no jargon with a no nonsense approach.

The book is great for beginners, it takes you through what essential kit you need and it goes through fabric terms and seam finishes, so lots of information to get you started.

Jenniffer is known for her upcyling, so there are lots of upcycling projects, craft projects and embellishment ideas to customise clothing.  These are fun projects for anyone looking for inspiration but if you don't feel confident in sewing these projects are a great way to dip your toe in and build up your skills before making garments.

When it comes to making clothes there are no patterns with the book instead Jenniffer shows you how to make clothes from scratch using the garments you already own and using your basic body measurements.  There are photos to show you exactly where to measure, which is helpful as not everyone knows where there true waist is. 

How to take accurate body measurements

There are some great projects that are different to what you'd see in most dressmaking books, so if you like Jenniffer's style you'll love these projects.  The whole book has easy step by step instructions with great photos and top tips throughout.

You will learn lots of different skills including construction techniques, drafting a pattern direct to fabric, machine and sewing techniques as well as changing necklines, sewing pockets, using garments to draft a pattern, altering patterns, basic fitting techniques and draping techniques. I think I've captured everything! 

I think it's a great book for beginners and anyone who is looking to improve their skills. By the end of this book you will have a greater understanding of garment construction which will unleash your creativity and the ability to create your own unique wardrobe.

Girl with a Sewing Machine is an Amazon #1 Best Seller check it out along with all the reviews over here 

I can't decide what to make first, maybe this top?....

summer top by Jenniffer Taylor

You can follow Jenniffer and her #Sewingrevolution....

Disclaimer: This book was kindly given to me by the publishers, Search Press, in exchange for a review.  I have not been paid for this review and all the views and opinions are my own.
The Amazon links in this post are affiliated.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Day out at the Sewing, Stitching & Hobbycrafts show....

Last month I had a lovely day out at the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts show at the Excel.  The organiser's had invited me along to the bloggers' brunch where the talented Helen McKenna showed us how to make embroidered brooches using vintage fabric. This is my (second) attempt....

Embroidered brooch using vinatge fabric

Helen also had a stand at the show, look at these shoes she created inspired by A Midsummer's Night Dream....

The show is small compared to the one at the NEC (that's huge!).  Going on the Thursday instead of the weekend meant it was less busy and easy to get around.

I saw an amazing textile designer Louise Mabbs who used bright colours so her stand really stood out....

I'm not a quilter so I was in awe of her work and the detail. It looked really complex and I imagine taking a LOT of time and patience.

There were various inspiring exhibitions including one by the Quilter's Guild on the theme "The Living World". Here are a couple of my favourites....

A Selection of Tulips by Carol Dowsett.

Stratified Sunflowers by Sabi Westoby

Another display that stood out was "A cardigan for Cardigan!"

The 5m wide Aberteifi Cardigan is a collaborative work of art by local talent that took over nine months by the people of Cardigan to celebrate 900 years of the town's heritage. Around 300 people of all ages and abilities contributed to the cardigan.  Knitters had complete freedom to create their own pattern and shapes.  It took stitchers six weeks to make up the cardigan.

Romford WI marked their 25th Annversary with this map....

The costumes from the film the King's Speech were also on display....

I'm on a tight budget but I did buy a few things, I couldn't leave empty handed!....

I treated myself to some textile markers, more storage for my dies and a bunting die set. Also a flamingo wooden block which came in a pretty bag, this can be used on fabric or in papercraft.

Events like these are great for inspiration and shopping, a lot of stalls offer exclusive deals. The organisers have a lot of shows coming up throughout the year across the UK. You can check them out here.  Workshops book up fast at these events so I advise booking them before you go.  

I was kindly invited to the Bloggers Brunch by the organisers of the event, the views and opinions are my own and I have not been paid for writing this post.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Create a work of art using up your crafty stash....

I would definitely consider myself a messy crafter, not just by the state of my desk but also because I love getting out paints, inks and using lots of different mediums together and they usually end up all over my hands!  I have always used whatever I have, mixing medias, to create the look and effect I want.  In the last year I've noticed mixed media is becoming more popular and if you've not tried it this is why I think you should....
  • There are no rules.
  • You don't need to be able to draw or consider yourself an artist.
  • Many materials = endless techniques
  • Encourages risk taking and not worrying about the end result
  • Multiple materials can inspire new ideas
  • Anything goes, so collect everything!
  • It's FUN!!!
To get you started I am going to show you a great way to use up your crafty stash and create a piece of mixed media art....

how to create a piece of art using up your craft stash

What you need
  • Box canvas. You can get these quite cheaply. I got a pack from Wilkos
  • Gesso, white or black
  • Acrylic paint, choose co-ordinating colours of your choice.  I recommend 3 or 4 but remember there are no rules! You can also use tester pots or left over emulsion to co-ordinate with your home decor
  • Paint brushes and sponges
  • Embellishments from your crafty stash, anything goes. It doesn't matter what colour they are. This is a great time to use the bits and bobs you don't really like or you'll never use.
  • Strong PVA or a hot glue gun
  • Texture paste
  • Stencil of your choice
  • Palette knife
  • Gilding wax
To get started I placed a stencil on the canvas and spread the texture paste over it with a palette knife. I wasn't concerned about it being smooth, the aim is to add texture.  If you don't have texture paste or stencils you can miss this step.

Applying texture paste using stencils onto canvas

Next arrange your buttons, ribbons, wooden embellishments, any random bits and bobs you have collected on to the canvas. It doesn't matter what colours they are or if they clash because they won't stay like that. Once you are happy with the arrangement glue them down securely with a strong PVA or glue gun.  You can also use your glue gun to create patterns and add texture.

canvas with floral embellishments and tecture paste

If you are using the texture paste you can stencil over some embellishments as well like I have done with this ribbon.

Once the glue has dried go over everything with white gesso.  This will prime the various surfaces of the embellishments, paste and canvas so they can take the paint.  Without gesso, the paint would soak into porous surfaces and/or dull the colours of your paint if the original surface is dark. Gesso is not opaque so you will still see some of the colour peeping through.

white on white canvas art

You may like this effect, if so you can stop here. Or if you want a more 'white on white' effect then paint again with white acrylic paint.

Both gesso and acrylic paint may not cling very well to shiny or plastic items, but that's OK, I have a solution for that further on. Just paint over what you can.

Now, with your acrylic paints in various colours here are some options as to what you could do next....

With a dry brush add colour to highlight details.  If you don't like the streaks of the dry brush just add a little water to your brush.

Go lightly with the paint, you can always add more but it's harder to take it away.  However if you have over worked any areas use the gesso to calm it down and blend.

I only used 2 colours in this piece which were inspired by the embellishments used.

To highlight areas, and to cover the buttons that wouldn't completely cover with the paint, I used silver gilding wax.  I love this stuff!  It can really make a piece pop and it covers the areas that the paint couldn't.

For this next one I created I used a lot more colour....

After painting with white gesso, I applied a base coat in the palest colour roughly with a brush.

I used sponges in the next step to get a different finish. I added orange and green paints and went back over areas with the pale colour to add depth and help blend the colours.  I just kept adding colour until I was happy with how it looked.

I used the gesso again to highlight areas and added wooden words found in my stash to finish it.

You can also use gesso in black which is what I used for this one....

Canvas using black gesso

I followed the same process of stencilling then painting with black gesso and I used metallic acrylic paint and applied it with a dry brush allowing some of the black to still show through.

Pebeo metallic paints over black gesso

I highlighted areas with gilding wax

Pebeo gilding wax over metallic paints and black gesso

I then added Aged Copper Frantage to add even more texture and give it an aged look. This works like embossing powder (you can check out my tutorial on embossing powder here). I roughly added a Versamark ink pad over areas I wanted the frantage to be and sprinkled the powder over these areas.  I wasn't worried about it being neat or if the powder went in other areas. Using a heat tool I heat embossed the frantage powder and then repeated this 2 or 3 times in areas so it was thicker in different areas.

Mixed media art using Frantage, gilding wax and acrylic paints

This is definitely my favourite!  Different colours are more prominent depending on the light and angle due to shine and texture of the paints, gilding wax and frantage.

Here you have three very different looking pieces of art using up my stash.  What do you think?

If you create a piece of art inspired by this tutorial I'd love to see it so please tag me on social media.

This tutorial is for non-commercial use only. You can make for yourself, gifts or to raise funds for a charity but please don't make any to sell for profit.

If you want to blog about this project, remember to credit me and link back to this blog. Please ask permission before using my photography and please do not reproduce my entire tutorial.  Thank you