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Welcome Back

In today’s post a  tutorial for how to create a Desk top calendar. There are PDF’s at the end, for you to print your own calendar and a video to show you how it all comes together.

Desktop Calendar

Desktop Calendar

 

You Will Need

12 x 12″ Cardstock Patterned or plain if you wish to stamp your own designs on.

Decorative papers, main images I used Joanna Sheen’s COuntry Diary of an Edwardian Lady CD

Calendar, see downloads in the links section.

Method

Calendar Templates

Basic Calendar – Original. This is a modern yet classic font, which will compliment most styles of project.

Basic Calendar – Oriental Style This is an oriental style font which will compliment Eastern projects.

Basic Calendar – Elegant Style Font. This is a classic style font, it suits the Edwardian Lady themes and would work well with Anna Griffin styles too.

Why not ‘collect’ all three. These templates are for personal use, you are welcome to create projects using them for gifts or as completed projects to sell. If you use these templates for projects you publish in print or online, please link back to me here.

Would love to hear what you think of these, and to see your finished calendars :)

Links

Joanna Sheen. This is Joanna Sheen’s website, she has a selection of CDs you could use for your calendars

Joanna Sheen Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady CD. Direct link to the CD, which I used in the project.

Be sure to check back here next Friday, this theme will continue in a tutorial series to make a gift complete gift set.

Gift Box Tutorial plus video

Greeting Card & Gif t Tag Tutorial plus video

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Me and my sewing Machine - Book by Kate Haxell

Me and my sewing Machine - Book by Kate Haxell

  • Title: Me and My Sewing Machine A Beginner’s Guide
  • Author: Kate Haxell
  • Publisher: Apple Press
  • ISBN: 978-1-84543-353-6

My Reason for Buying

Remember when you got your first car and started to learn how to drive? You can imagine the possibilities, know where you want to go etc but have no idea about quite how to go about it. That’s me and my sewing machine :) I’ve got ideas about what I’d like to make and a few books on how to make things, but I thought to get the most from my machine it would be a good idea to find out how to use it properly, rather than doing it damage by using it incorrectly. That’s why I was interested in getting this book. I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

  • Introduction
  • My Sewing Machine
  • Getting Ready to Sew
  • Seams Simple
  • Hemmed In
  • Fastened Up
  • Around the Corner
  • On The Edge
  • Fancy That
  • Make me, Make me

Pros/Cons

Pros

It’s a good-looking book, fun and full of really useful pictures. The author has a really approachable style of writing, that is informative without being intimidating. As the author says this is an introduction to sewing, it’s not trying to tell you how to do dressmaking! A lot of other books are very intimidating to new sewers and can get too far into the subject and be overwhelming.

Cons

Haven’t got any.

Value for Money

Excellent, this is a must have book  for a new sewer! It maybe isn’t as comprehensive as other books around, but it isn’t as intimidating either.

Would I buy it Again?

At the time of writing, I haven’t yet bought it, I’m reviewing a library book ;) (budget restraints and all that). This is definitely going on the wish list though. I NEED this book

Summing up

Superb book, I love it! I’ve been practicing some of the techniques in this book and its going really well. The tutorials are really well explained with useful photos along the way.  At the back of the book are some projects, its personal preference as to if you like them or not, I’m not keen on the clothing one’s myself but the soft furnishings look nice and the shopper bag I’ve made and looks wonderful. I even modified it a bit to my own dimensions and it all worked great, and is my best bag yet.

Tote Bag #3

Tote Bag #3

If you or someone you know has inherited a sewing machine and is bewildered by it, get them this book! It’s really approachable and has excellent advice to get you enjoying your sewing machine and sewing.

Links

Me and My Sewing Machine by Kate Haxell on Amazon

I couldn’t find a blog for Kate Haxell, if you read this review and know she has one, do leave me a link to it in the comments. I’d love to leave a link to her in the review too.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

After spending time making wonderful handmade cards, wouldn’t it be nice to finish the package with a co-ordinating tag? In last weeks video I showed how to make a selection of tag bases, in today’s post I’d like to share a tutorial for how to decorate those tags for your gifts. If you missed last weeks film, check out the links at the end of the article.

Decorating your tags for gifts

Decorating your tags

You Will Need

  • A4 Card stock, plain or decorative
  • Cutting Mat
  • Craft knife
  • Metal Ruler
  • Rubber stamps to match/co-ordinate with your card design
  • Inks
  • Cut n dry foam (optional)
  • Crop A Dile or other hole punch
  • Thread or ribbon in co-ordinating colours.
  • Corner rounder
  • Cuttlebug & Embossing folders (optional)

Method

  • Cut your A4 cardstock to 4 1/8″ x 2 1/4″. You will get ten tags this size from A4 card
  • To add decorative panels to your base tags, trim 1/4″ from one short side and one long side
  • Using the grid on your cutting mat as a guide trim off the corners from the two top edges of your cardstock panel, to correspond to the base tag.
  • If you wish to ink, stamp and layer card onto your tag, do this next.
  • Stamp your images and greeting onto the back panel of the tag, and attach them.
  • Finally use your hole punch to punch a hole at the top of the tag, and use pretty ribbon or baker’s Twine for a retro style to finish your tag.

Optional Extra’s

  • Add dimension or highlight colours by matting your finished tag on to coloured or metallic cardstock.
  • Create a boarder to your tag by running metallic pen around the edges of your tag.
  • If you are short on time, print decorative papers or designs from your computer and layer those on to heavier card.
  • For fancy shaped tags, cut your base tag using Spellbinder dies, or your favorite die design. Create your decorative layer and layer to write on from a smaller sized die.

Add your personal message to the back of your tag, including who the gift is for and who it is from ;)

Links

Quick & Easy Tags; Part 1   In this film I showed how to create your base tags. Which are the one’s I decorated in today’s film.

I hope you have enjoyed this film and project. Do leave me a comment to let me know what you think. Have you made tags with this tutorial?  Add a link to your finished tags with your comment, it would be nice to see what you make.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back   

In today’s post I will be reviewing;   

Anna Griffin Clear Stamps; Christmas set 2010

Anna Griffin Clear Stamps; Christmas set 2010

Anna Griffin Clear Stamps; Flourishes set

Anna Griffin Clear Stamps; Flourishes set

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Anna Griffin Clear stamps

Reason For Buying

I have been a big fan of Anna Griffin’s wood mounted stamps for many years now. However they are very difficult to get in the UK. A few years ago I discovered that the shopping channel QVC occasionally stocked Anna Griffin stamps and other products. Now I kep an eye out for her products on there. At first I was wary of buying clear stamps as some other brands I’d tried were not very good, but I trusted Anna and felt sure she wouldn’t risk her good reputation with poor quality stamps. Here are the results of my purchases of many of the Clear stamps by Anna Griffin through QVC   

Pros/Cons

Pros   

  • Ease of use. Positioning is SOO much easier with clear stamps.
  • Good quality image. Be gentle with these stamps, you don’t need much pressure to get a perfect image.
  • Storage! These kinds of stamps take up much less space than their wood mounted versions.
  • With pigment ink these stamps work perfectly every time. They will accept dye ink, it takes some practise to get a perfect image but you can do it.

Cons   

The only downside is you don’t get the pretty coloured image on the back of the stamp,  just a printed sheet with the stamp design printed in black. It would be nice if the printed sheet still had some colouring tips, by which I mean a coloured in image, as some of Anna’s later wood stamps had.   

Build Quality

Excellent! Be gentle with the stamps, as they are a little more delicate than red rubber, so don’t rip em off the backing sheet. Tease them off, as some can be more intricate, especially the frames. This kind of stamp is great if you have dexterity issues (like me). When you stamp your image you don’t need to press anywhere near as hard as you used to with wood mounted stamps.   

Value for Money

Excellent!! You get whole ranges of stamps in a single sheet. It’s nice to have coordinating collections like these. They work as stand alone stamps but also combine with earlier sets which gives you so much scope to design.   

Would I buy them Again?

Definitely! I have even bought designs that I already had as wood mounted stamps, in their clear versions. In some cases they were a different size, but mainly for the positioning options that the clear stamps give you.   

Summing up

Don’t think all clear stamps are created equal, they aren’t. Anna Griffin clear stamps are excellent quality, keep them out of the sun and stored nicely and they will last you a long time. You get all the quality of Anna’s wooden stamps in a more versatile medium and one that is easier to store. If you haven’t got a set yet…why not? If you love Anna’s style they are definitely worth it. Anna has even designed binders to help you store your stamps.  

Links

Anna Griffin’s Website   

Anna Griffin’s Blog   

QVC UK   

QVC.com   

HSN.com If you are based in the USA you can find Anna’s products on there too. (The do not ship to the UK from there though)   

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon   

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Book; Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam

Book; Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam

  • Title; The Bag Making Bible
  • Author; Lisa Lam
  • Publisher; David & Charles
  • ISBN: 13:978-0-7153-3624-3
  • ISBN: 10:0-7153-3624-X
  • RRP: £14.99 (at time of writting)

My Reason for buying

Having received a sewing machine for my birthday in June, and making my first couple of tote bags, I was hooked. I have another book on making bags but Lisa’s book looked like it went into a lot more detail, regarding choosing materials and options for closures and handles. I’ve been reading Lisa’s blog for a little while and looked forward to her book being published.

Contents

  • Foreword by Amy Butler
  • Introduction
  • Basic Equipment
  • The Sewing Machine
  • Anatomy of a Bag
  • 1: Getting Started
  • 2: Choosing Fabrics
  • 3: Structure and Reinforcement
  • 4: Linings
  • 5: Closures
  • 6: Handles and Straps
  • 7: Pockets
  • 8: Edgings and Trimmings

At the back of the book are details about suppliers, more about the author Lisa Lam and a pattern sheet.

Pros/Cons

Pros

Each of the chapter sections go into details about a different features of a bag, these are FANTASTIC. They have a list of each of the options that are going to be described in the chapter, the benefits of each and suggested uses of which styles work best with different options. There are pictures on the opposite page to give examples about what is being described as well. The chapter then goes on to have really detailed step by step directions for every option mentioned. They are superb and if you are new to sewing, you can still follow them and apply them to simpler projects you already create if you find the projects within the book beyond your current skills.

Each section is colour coded, which makes it quick to find things if you are using this book for reference.

There is a comprehensive suppliers section at the back of the book, which will help you find the tools and items needed for the projects, if you don’t have a sewing shop near you.

Cons

The one thing that lets this book down from the point of view of someone new to sewing, is the placement of the projects within the book. If they were all placed at the back of the book then referencing techniques from different sections around the book would be fine. If the project at the end of the section used only techniques shown so far, again it would be fine. As it is, there is a project at the end of each section, but the projects often refer to techniques from sections further on as well as what has been covered so far. The references do quote the page numbers of the techniques needed, but if you are new to sewing this is very confusing and to be honest, I gave up trying to follow the project instructions at this point. In fairness to Lisa, the book does say in the introduction that it is aimed toward the more confident bag maker. I continued to read the rest of the book, without the projects and I’ve learned lots!

Value for Money

This book is very much worth the £14.99. A good reference book for bag makers of all levels.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes

Summing up

I’m really glad I bought this book, and I’ve learnt so much. This is one for me to grow into, as I am still very new to sewing. I am going to practice the techniques shown and add them to more basic bags, which is my current skill level. Once I am more used to my machine and the techniques then I’ll have a go at some of Lisa’s designs.

If you are totally new to sewing, the book I reviewed previously Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes, is a much simpler place to start. If however you have been sewing a while and want to get into making bags, or to include really impressive features and finishes to your existing projects then Lisa’s book is for you.

Newbies, still buy this book for the impressive tutorials on choosing fabrics, linings, interfacings as well as how to incorporate more details into your simpler projects, that you already like to make. I’ve added a pocket to my latest tote and want to tackle the concealed top edge zip to a later project.

My skill level is still at ‘Sew What Bags’ but Lisa’s Bag Making Bible is a must have book, for moving forward and getting more professional looks to future bags.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back 

In today’s post I will be reviewing; 

Knitting For Dummies

Knitting For Dummies

  • Title: Knitting for Dummies
  • Author: Pam Allen, Tracy L. Barr, Shannon Okey
  • Publisher: Wiley Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN: 978-0-470-28747-7

My Reason for Buying

My wonderful mother taught me basic knitting; Cast on and off, increase and decrease, stocking stitch and pearl, but sadly she died when I was still young and it wasn’t until recently that I have been interested in giving knitting another go. I have a neighbour who has been wonderful, helping me when I get stuck but I thought it was about time that I got a book to help me through the basics and tell me what to do when I mess up. This book covered a lot and looked ideal.  I tell you all this, as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;) 

Contents

  • Part 1; Getting Ready to Knit.Three chapters on what you need to start knitting
  • Part 2; Knitting Primer. Six chapters covering the basic stitches and what to do if it goes wrong
  • Part 3; Techniques for the More Experienced Knitter. Four chapters of more complex stitches to take you further
  • Part 4; Making Garments; Five chapters on the ins and outs of sweaters and some project patterns to try them out.
  • Part 5; The Part of Tens; one chapter on easing aches and pains then another with ten knitting projects and gift ideas.
  • Part 6; Appendixes; One section including more stitches and effects, and one with a host of links to knitting resources. 

Pros/Cons

Pros 

  • Gets you started if you haven’t knitted before
  • Teaches you lots of different stitch patterns
  • Guides to the different needles, and yarns available and charts for comparing needles.
  • Plenty of patterns to try out the techniques you learn along the way
  • How to sort things out when it all goes a bit wrong ;)

Cons 

These are really just niggles, nothing to put you off buying, just niggles. 

  • A spiral bound or hard backed version of this book would have been nice. It would make it easier to keep the book open as you learn a technique.
  • The only images of the finished projects from the books patterns, are at the centre of the book. The picture links to the chapter where you can find the pattern, but it would have been nice to have a reference image or where to find its image, next to the pattern. See page ‘X’ for example. The finished project images are full colour, which is nice.
  • Terminology differences. This book is American, so the terms used are American. For example in the UK a stitch known as Stocking stitch is refered to as Stockinette. If you are using vintage or UK patterns and are totally new to knitting this could cause some confusion. BUT if you buy patterns from Etsy and USA companies then you should be fine. Those with even minimal knitting experience will recognize the knitting stitch shown by its image diagram. So it’s not as major a problem as it first sounds.

Value for Money

Excellent! This book covers the core skills needed to start knitting, then takes you further for the more advanced knitter. A valuable resource for knitters of all abilities. 

Would I buy it Again?

Totally! 

Summing up

This book has been excellent and I wouldn’t be without it. Don’t be put off by the occasional differences in terms, if you are buying well-known brands of patterns or patterns from Etsy, it is likely that the book will use the terms you will find in those anyway. You will recognise the stitch patters from the illustrations if not the names. Buy this book for handy reference, but If you are a visual learner, do check out You Tube tutorials as they will help back up what you are trying to learn. If you have even the  tiniest experience of knitting this book will really help you progress. 

Links

Knitting for Dummies; on Amazon I’ve been reviewing the second edition, published 2008 

My fave knitting tutor on You Tube; Knitting Tips by Judy 

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon 

Billie :)

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Welcome Back   

Last month I shared a few pictures of the Card Storage Journal, that I made using a Bind It All. Today I would like to share a tutorial of how it was made. It would make a perfect gift for friends and family.   

Card Storage Journal; Cover

Card Storage Journal; Cover

You Will Need

  • Mat Board/Chip Board etc
  • Bind It All and 1″ O wires OR Crop A Dile and Binder Rings
  • Ribbon
  • Decorative Papers
  • White cardstock; I used 160 gsm card from Rymans
  • Cream/Ivory coloured cardstock 160 gsm
  • Glue Stick
  • 12 Envelopes
  • Tim Holtz School Days stamp set
  • Dye inks; I used Distress ink but you could use Adirondack Dye ink
  • Versafine Ink in Sepia
  • Alphabet set; I used; Making Memories; Rummage
  • Calendar Stamps; I used Making Memories Calendar Set
  • Distressing Tool

Card Storage Journal; Materials   

Method

  • Cut matt board cover boards to the same HEIGHT as your envelopes, and 1/8th inch wider than the envelopes.
  • Cover the boards with the decorative paper and allow to dry. For a ribbon closure, add this before you apply the end paper (inside cover paper).
Card Storage Journal; Cover Boards

Card Storage Journal; Cover Boards

  • On the white card, stamp the lined paper design from Tim Holtz Schools Days stamp set, using the (grey) Distress ink. Repeat this until you have 12 of the little pages.
  • Use an Edge Distresser to distress or fray the edges of your pages. Use your favorite colours of ink to distress the pages further and then heat set to dry inks.
Card Storage Journal; Distress inks used on inside pages

Card Storage Journal; Distress inks used on inside pages

Card Storage Journal; month pages

Card Storage Journal; month pages

  • Use the Alphabet stamps to stamp a month onto the top of each page of the lined paper; January, February etc. Set aside to dry.

For the decorative panel 

  • Cut a strip of cream card to slightly smaller than you envelopes. Colour using Dye inks and stamp background using the Anna Griffin background stamp. Edge with dye ink for depth.
Card Storage Journal; Decorative Panel

Card Storage Journal; Decorative Panel

  • Create a set of tabs from cream coloured cardstock, fold them in half and stamp a month on each one.
Card Storage Journal; Month Tabs

Card Storage Journal; Month Tabs

  • Attach a tab to each envelope and then add the decorative panel on top to hide the join.
Card Storage Journal; Month Tabs

Card Storage Journal; Month Tabs and decorative pannel

  • Make a Binding Template [see instructions below] and punch holes into each of your envelopes and cover boards.
  • Glue a month page to each envelope, allow glue to dry before continuing.
  • Cut a length of O wire to fit your punched holes
  • Layer your book up as you would like it to appear once bound. Take the FRONT cover page and (pretend it’s already bound for a moment) and fold the front cover around to the back of the book. Insert your O wires into your punched holes and use the Bind It All to close the wire.
Card Storage Journal;

Card Storage Journal; Binding the book

This is a great way to keep cards together and not forget birthdays and special occasions. Write names and dates on the front of each envelope on the lined paper you made, to keep track of upcoming events. When you buy or make cards, just pop them into the appropriate envelope, ready to go.   

Making a Binding Template 

Measurements will vary depending upon your size of envelope, so I have kept the instructions generic so they can be used by everyone.   

  • Cut a piece of cardstock to the same size as your envelopes.
  • Place your cardstock on top of your envelope.Measure down from the top of the envelope to where the edge of the closed envelope flap comes too. Mark this distance on your card stock.
Binding Template for Card Storage Joural

Binding Template for Card Storage Journal

  

  • Draw another line at the bottom of your cardstock the same distance from the bottom, as the top line was from the top. You now punch your holes between these two marks.
  • Punch first set of holes to just below the first line on the cardstock.
  • Move the setting guide to ‘B’ continuous and punch till you reach the next line.You now have a guide to place on the top of each envelope and cover board as you punch it, this ensures everything will line up nicely at the end of the project.

  

Binding Template for Card Storage Joural

Binding Template for Card Storage Joural

If you don’t have a Bind It All machine

Make a punching guide using a Crop A Dile, again so that all your envelopes and covers will align at the end of the project. Connect your journal using Binder Rings; 

Optional Extra’s

  • Add an extra envelope to the back of the book to keep a list of addresses in.
  • Add a pocket to the inside cover to hold stamps 
Card Storage Journal; Inside Cover

Card Storage Journal; Inside Cover

  

So there you have it, it takes a while to make but I think the results are worth it. If you are making more than one, you can easily have a bit of a production line going. Do the inking and stamping parts while waiting for covers to dry etc. It would be lovely to see your results if you have a go at this project. Feel free to change the stamps and images to suit your own favourite styles.  This would make a great present for all ages and genders, hope you have a go and will share your results.  

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon   

Billie :)  

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