Friday, 4 September 2015

The Crafted Garden... a handy book for today's creative gardener!

There seems to be a craze for green fingered pursuits and plant potting at the moment and we can honestly say, hand on heart, that we've absolutely fallen for it too!
From Cacti potted in geometric concrete pots, macrame holders, terrariums to fresh flower crown wearing... The green stuff has us in a spin wanting to get our fingers into the damp earth and making again!
It's a natural romance and we're falling for this book head over heels!

"Stylish projects inspired by nature"
The Crafted Garden, published by Frances Lincoln offers us a lovely mix of projects and handy tips which will get you growing and making fun & crafty plant based objects ... which you can make for your home or even make as a gift for a friend!

Terrariums can be amazing and easy to look after... and it's a great way to recycle your jars!




There are over 50 projects and some great tips in this book which the author Louise Curley has included to ease and guide you into finding your inner crafty gardener.

Transforming foraged hedgerow jewels and garden finds into beautiful things is something of an art and Louise is happy to share with us her skills through some great step by step tutorials!
 
Easy step by step tutorial will help you create simple, beautiful objects for the home...
And it won't cost you a fortune! Most projects are easily achieved from bits and pieces from your very own garden and craft stash. 
Some things you might want/need to purchase but there's a really good section with suppliers details.
Personally I find there are quite a few on line groups which can be a great resource too so even if you're on a tight budget it shouldn't stop you. 



Lots of people use these social media pages and sites to post materials, items they no longer need or want so are happy to share, give away or sell for a small donation.
Try Face Book, local Free Cycle or S.O.S. (Sell or swap) groups. I've managed to find lots of gardening stuff from seedlings to ceramic pots!

Another thing I like about this book is that it's divided into season's so you can just get out there without having to endlessly plan... I'm quite looking forward to Autumn now, not that I wasn't before... but... because it was a bit of a "meh" summer I wasn't quite ready for it yet! But I am now!!!

Yes, Autumn can be chilly but it also gives us beautiful leaves!!!

Actually getting my hands working alongside with nature will help me feel connected to the seasons again, which lets face it can be a trifle difficult because as the old saying goes "In London you can get the 4 seasons in a day!" so it can get a bit much sometimes!


Not just for eating, these beautiful gourds are also lovely decorations!

A squash vase... simple, beautiful and perfect for an autumnal party!
So whether you're a green fingered god/goddess or a completely useless "Death Fingered Cactus Killer" this awesome book will get you inspired and back in touch with nature again.
*And FYI Death Fingered Cactus Killer you too will be amazed at how easy it is with the aid of this book to grow things... so don't give up!*

It certainly looks like I'll be keeping my copy close as you never know... today we could be in Autumn and tomorrow thrown back into Spring!


Out on the 3rd of September The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley is available to our readers at the discounted price of £13.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99)
telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG355. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. 


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Hello sailor, all hands on deck... our swallow patch tutorial is here!

Summer's left us just like the swallows have left our northern skies.
They've flown south for the winter way too soon but fear not because we too can get some of that good feeling back with this cute sewing tutorial!




I've opted for adding my patches to a cardie mainly because I'm always cold... but these patches also work on shirts, dresses, tote bags or anything that needs cheering up!



Another great idea is to add them to some fabric shoes (you know the ones, those cute traditional Chinese canvas ones) adding some embroidered extra details like a sequined covered heart or some other tattoo inspired designs.
Lets face it... they are an old school tattooed sailor staple but are also quite girlie too which is something I absolutely love.

I'll be making quite a few though I hope I don't over due it with the  birdie theme... bah, who cares, I love them so I'm adding them to lots of stuff... shoes, bags, dresses, hair clips...whatever!
Oh well, could you really have enough?!


The ones pictured were made with scraps of letherette and felt but you can use fabric, felt or even paint the details on with acrylic fabric paint.

*Also a top tip which I found after I wrote up the tutorial is that if you use iron on double sided interfacing that it's even easier to add to your clothing!

To download the instructions and template PDF click "here"
Happy making!


Here are a few resources you might find helpful...
Iron on fusable interface fabric: www.cottonpatch.co.uk
Wool felt: www.bloomingfelt.co.uk
Although I've used a basic running stitch it doesn't mean you can't embellish your patches with other stitches:

Friday, 26 June 2015

Get ready for the heatwave!!!

In the mid 1990's me and a fellow work mate discovered a bar in Soho called the Big Easy which made the most amazing iced cocktails.
This was our pre "hitting the town" place which we visited almost every Friday night and it was there that we fell in love with the Frozen Margarita!

Fresh, zingy, fruity and strong without being a knock out... it has just enough tequila to get you started for a long night of dancing!
I'm sure most people will have at least heard of frozen Margaritas, that's if they haven't ever tried one in one guise or another, but it's a classic which is a favourite in our house.
It's not only a thirst quenching frozen fruit based beverage but I'm sure it also counts as two of your five a day healthy eating fruit and veg deal! OK it's got watermelon and lime but it's got alcohol too so it's as healthy as it can be... and you know what they say "all things in moderation"!
So if you enjoy a little snifter but don't want to be legless then this is the one for you.
Please remember to drink responsibly and especially during a heatwaves you'll also need to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
This is also a great party alternative for anyone who doesn't drink but likes a pretty alcohol free cocktail to sip! 



Frozen Watermelon Margarita Cocktail recipe...though you can make all sorts of varieties including strawberry which is also delicious!

What you'll need:
A hand or cup blender
Ice cream maker / or a large heavy plastic container which is freezer safe and a fork

Ingredients:
Watermelon
Lime (about 4 if you are making a large jug for plenty of friends)
Sugar syrup -add 2 table spoons of sugar to 3 tablespoons of boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved and leave to cool.
Tequila
Rock salt (I used fleur de sel as it has a softer taste but it's still nice and salty!)
Still water




Instructions:
In a large cup place your chopped and deseeded watermelon and the juice of one lime, blend until smooth. I used a large wedge about 400grams of watermelon which will be enough to make enough granita for a large jug. Though please make sure it fits the capacity of your ice cream maker.
Add the cool sugar syrup and stir well. I purposely haven't added too much sugar as the watermelon I had was already nice and sweet!

Place the watermelon juice into the ice cream maker and follow instructions -you should have a granita setting or instructions in your product manual that will tell you how to do this.
On my ice cream maker it took only 10 minutes.
If you haven't one then follow instruction as above but place your watermelon juice in a large plastic container. Place in freezer, remove every couple of hours and using a fork lift up the frozen watermelon juice to form fluffy ice crystals until it's the consistency of a granita. This will take a little work but it's worth it!!!

Once your granita is ready and you're ready to make your cocktail place 1 measure of tequila per person/serving, the remaining fresh lime juice and top up with cold still water in a large jug and mix. The water will loosen the mix so it's ready to drink but don't water it down too much as you're looking for something that will slowly melt but is nice and thick too.

Take your cocktail glasses and gently squeeze a cut lime segment around the rim of your glass.
In a small plate place enough rock salt to coat a few glasses, turn your cocktail glass upside down and twist over the salt. The lime juice will serves as a glaze and will hold the salt to the glass. Even if you are having a virgin Margarita the salt is still a must... it really does help bring out the natural sweetness of the watermelon!
Pour into your cocktail glass, decorate with a couple of frozen raspberries, a sprig of mint and some cocktail umbrellas or colourful straws.
Cheers!




Friday, 24 April 2015

The fashion Revolution!

So today's the day when we ask "Who made my clothes"?
On the 24th of April 2013 an earth shattering event took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Over 2500 garment workers lost their lives in over crowded, unsafe, and illegal working conditions in a factory complex known as Rana Plaza.
These lives were not the only ones lost as countless others who depended on the wages of these workers also paid a heavy price!
Many families were left without the sole bread winner so the number of victims is in fact far higher then the actual body count.

Photo ©FashRev

The organisation Fashion Revolution has marked the day through a campaign which invites consumers through social media to ask high street shops and clothing labels:
"Who made my clothes?"

Supermodel Lilly Cole asks the question #whomademyclothes ©FashRev
Posting a photo on Instagram/Twitter might seem frivolous but in fact it's been working pretty well. So how does asking a simple question change anything? After the Rana Plaza disaster it was through social media that companies like Matalan were pressured by the public to do something about it and they did! Because of it they offered some compensation to workers and it was achieved through social media by everyday consumers like you and me... though we do think more can and should be done!
Asking questions, being interested and engaged with the world can only be good so... remember use the hastag: #whomademyclothes and tag your favourite clothing brands. Even if you don't get a response it doesn't mean that it hasn't been seen! The object of this campaign is not only to demand a change in how things are run in the garment industry but also to promote thought and discussion.

Because we've always believed in demanding fair wages and safe working conditions for garment workers this is a campaign we passionately support.
You may recall that Craft Guerrilla was born primarily because of this and our first campaign back in 2008 was to "wage war against mass produced tatt" which was our way of highlighting the exploitation and reminding consumers the cost of cheap mass produced goods.


©FashRev. Workers in Soko Kenya...

So two years on and we are still waiting to see real and lasting changes for garment workers in countries like Bangladesh.
We know that it's going to be a long road but we're positive that things can and will change! Plus with your actions and passion for making we're sure it will be a worthwhile endeavour.
Though on a final note I'd like to add that I do not boycott these labels and companies but in stead I do ask them questions and pressure them to take a stand and implement changes where needed which will better conditions for everyone involved.
I really don't think that solely boycotting is the answer, I mean we don't want to take anyone out of a job but we do want workers to have safe, clean, humane conditions and fair wages.

By making a few items, mending what you already own, up cycling, recycling clothing and buying your new clothing from ethical brands then you will be changing things with the best weapon you posses: your wallet!

Here today Here Tomorrow. London. ©FashRev


This year I decided that I'd be making more and buying less cheap fashion...
Here's my "afternoon skirt" -named because it literally should only take about 3 hours to make- as a project to remind myself of the work that goes into making a garment!
If you'd like to make your own you can find the full tutorial here:
www.blogforbettersewing.com




 


For more info on how you can be involved and check if there are any events in your country please go to the Fashion Revolution web site:
www.fashionrevolution.org

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Feeling fruity!

So that's it, finally spring has sprung and that means summer is on its way!
Aw man, the prospect of warmer weather, eating beautiful and bright summer fruit and the option to wear only one layer has made me giddy with excitement  though it's also made me think about accessories that I can wear to liven up my wardrobe staples.
Instead of spending a fortune on new clobber this summer I'm going to recycle, remake, create a few key pieces which I can mix and match and wear confidently with the knowledge that I'm not adding to the huge global problem (waste, unfair/ unsafe conditions and exploitation in the textile industry etc. etc. etc)....

Though this a very little gesture it can also be a step in the right direction. We definitely need to make do and buy less.
And because of that I came up with this cute little diy tutorial which I think looks just fab with my stripey top and will fit with other bits and bobs I already have in my wardrobe!
Plus as it's also made from fabric scraps that means no wastage here!

I think it looks pretty good with stripes, block colours and/or patterns too...What do you think, how will you wear yours?




So why watermelons?

A) they are very of the moment (hooray finally!!!) and B) watermelons are one of my favourite all time fruits so if you are a lover of the ruby red, super juicy, super sweet sphere of gorgeousness... then join me in wearing it with pride!

What you'll need:

*fabric
*felt (red/pink & green)
*interfacing
*ribbon
*thread & embroidery thread though you can opt to use a fabric pen (Black)
*a bright yellow bead -or a button
*pins, sewing needle and scissors
*sewing machine -though you can use fusible fabric if you don't fancy sewing it.

How to make it:

Step 1: 
Print out the pattern and cut as indicated... you'll need 2 x red felt shapes, 2 x green felt shapes and 2 x pink fabric shapes which should be backed with interfacing


Step 2: 
Embroider the watermelon seeds or use a fabric pen to draw these on...

embroidered
drawn on with a black fabric friendly pen



*This is your front and the back... The shapes will be layered over each other so you'll notice they are slightly different sizes. Though you can trim if you need to...



Step 3: 
Pin into place and sew... I've used a black thread so you can see what I'm doing but if you want a super neat look you'll need to use red and green thread as needed...
You can also use fusible fabric if you don't want to see any stitching or if you haven't a sewing machine at hand.



Step 4: 
Overlap slightly the edges of the middle of the collar. Check in the mirror to see how it sits on your neck/chest. Sew a few stitches so they (the two segments) are kept in position. Finish off with a bead.
*I've used a bright yellow bead to give it a little extra cute umpf BUT you can leave it plain or use a button instead...



Step 5:
Sew on the ribbon to the reverse of the collar on both outer edges of your collar. This is your fastening.
Note: I've dabbed a bit of fabric glue on the edge of the ribbon to stop it from fraying but you can use metal chain, chunky plastic chain or even a leather thong with a lobster claw fastener.
(Also see the post make notes on the print out pattern!)


Step 6:
Tie around your neck and wear it like a fruit loving chicka!
I would have gone for the whole Carmen d'Miranda look but I'm saving that for summer...
Hum, what about a fruity head piece for our next tutorial? Now there's a great idea!



P.S. And you don't have to stop there, you can adapt this tutorial to make many fruity based collars! So think of any fruit which can be segmented like:
Apples, pears, lemons, oranges or even a couple of mini bananas would look awesome so just go for it.
Now you're set to make fun accessories which are totally Tutti Frutti!

Share your creations with us on twitter, tag us (@craftguerrilla) and post with the hashtag #CraftLovers and we'll re-tweet your amazing handy work!


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hop to it... Easter is just around the corner!

You'll know by now that I'm not a girlie-girl kind of girl so when I think of Easter and the Easter bunny my version has to be that of a black furred bad boy with a basket full of jewelled like eggs made of chocolate... very, very dark chocolate!




So for my first Easter tutorial I thought about making some ears... and yes, you guessed it they are black, though shock horror there is also pink glitter too!

Ha, OK so maybe I'm not that much of an anti-girlie girl after all but hey you can make your very own alternative bunny ears too by following my easy tutorial with your choice of colours.
Yes, pink glitter is optional!
Though I think a flash of colour is always great -it adds just the right amount of style!- having a solely black pair with black glitter will also look amazing!


This is what you'll need to make bunny ears just like mine:
Paper for pattern (for the ears)
black & pink felt
PVA or fabric glue
double sided sticky tape
glitter glue
fabric tape or ribbon
scissors
hair band
black thread, pins & a sewing needle



Step 1:
Add a section of double sided sticky tale to both ends of your hair band.
 Note: you can also add some to the middle for extra security....



Take some black ribbon or fabric tape and begin by folding over the base then wrapping over at a slight angle...




Continue to wrap the hair band completely until you've reached the other end...



You'll find that you might have to add an extra bit of tape or a dab of glue when you've reached the end. Fold over the tape to achieve a really nice and neat finish.


Step 2: 
Draw and Cut a bunny ear shape on some paper, then pin onto the black felt. Cut 2 shapes.
Cut 2 smaller shapes in pink - you can use a different colour! This will be the inside of your bunny ear.



Step 3:
Use some PVA or fabric glue and paste the back of the pink felt. Press firmly onto the black felt. Leave to dry for a bit.
Note: You can machine sew it on instead if you don't want to use glue. 



Step 4:
Take some glitter glue and generously cover the pink felt. Allow to dry completely.


Step 5:
Dab a tiny bit of glue on middle of the base of the pink felt and gently fold it inwards so it gives the ear a more natural shape.

Step 6:
Place a strip of double sided sticky tape on the base of the inside edge of the black felt ear shape.







Step 7:
Fold the base with the sticky tape over the hair band. Press tightly but gently so to glue it into place.



Step 8:
Sew the pinched area together to keep it together and also the base of the felt to the hair band.



Step 9:
You might want to give them a little jiggle on the back and sew a few stitches so they sit properly on the hair band...



And hey presto....

That's it!






Wear your Hare Band with pride, like a rockin' Easter Bunny!!!



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