DIY retro winter village wreath

I’m so inspired by a few bloggers/Instagrammers who are able to live in almost authentic vintage decor. They embody gorgeous retro style in a way I’ve never managed to achieve in my daily life. But to add a little mid-century charm to my home I made this small winter village wreath inspired by this one on the Martha Stewart website.

Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock
The Putz style mini houses take colour inspiration from 50s Americana. The bottle brush trees in teal, gold, silver and white could have been bleached and dyed in the same palette but blend nicely as they were. Glittery details and fristy fake snow make it feel extra festive!
Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock
First things first. I bought this 35cm wide fake wreath from eBay, quite the bargain but I should have gone a bit bigger. I flocked it with fake snow by mixing Daz washing powder with a little water so it had a gloopy thick paste-like texture and slopped it over the branches. I popped it in the airing cupboard until the paste set hard and the pink colour crystals had faded away.
Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock
The houses were made from cardstock printed at home with this very versatile FREE template from Martha Stewart. I actually had a lot of fun with these by mixing and matching the architectural elements and getting inspired to design my own tweaks to the templates.
Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock
I used a scalpel to cut everything out and a pair of scissors for scoring the folds. I mocked a few up first (see above) then I painted each with tester pots of emulsion I had lying around before construction and used pva glue to assemble.
Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock
Adding thick pva glue, spread on the roof before sprinkling glitter in place was the messiest part. In a final bit of inspiration I glued baking parchment behind the windows to appear like panes of glass before gluing each building onto its snowy base, made from packing material William Gee had happened to use in a recent parcel sent to me!!
Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock
I bought a pack of 46 trees of different sizes and colours and arranged them in pairs, adding some to sit alongside the houses. After testing out the placement of everything I glued everything in place and added a hanging ribbon. A bigger base wreath would have meant a more extravagant finished effect but this suits my hallway nicely. In hindsight these coloured trees might have been cuter? But I love the sparkles of mine and I have plenty more for crafting with next year.Christmas,vintage,retro,crafting,crafts,puts,Americana,wreath,flocking,diy, almond rock

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Pretty pots

Hi everyone. A slightly different topic on the blog today but hopefully one that resonates with you. I’m talking about how ceramics is making me feel excited to create in a totally different way!

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

When I think back to how long it took me to start sewing, well into my 20s when I’d been dreaming about it for such a long time it seems ridiculous that I waited. So recently I decided if I wanted to try another skill, I best get on with it. After going on a Hey Clay free taster session last year I finally booked onto a proper course. In a act of risk minimization I went for decorative techniques at Leeds’ Sunken Studios… thinking how bad could that be? We made three dishes using two techniques.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

The two coloured ones used a sgraffito technique and show my ropey artistic skills and the third has red glaze as an inlay in the grooves! That was trickier I must say. They were fired once to seal the under glaze, then a clear glaze goes on before a final trip to the kiln. I picked these up in late September. It was a short but informative session with a group of lovely ladies, and a kind helpful teacher in Rebecca.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

Being creatively fulfilled is something I’ve been talking a bit about at work recently. It gets so mixed up with being good at something creative when it’s really about having an outlet for your ideas and how you can turn them into reality. I am very lucky that I’ve picked up sewing so quickly; in 10 years I’ve made many difficult garments and used tricky fabric and mastered a lot of techniques but there’s still lots to learn and challenge myself with.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

But I missed being a beginner. That fear of trying something new, the risk of being rubbish but not really caring and also being proud of yourself for having a go! There’s a thrill at the beginning of a new project where you don’t exactly know how things will end up and you don’t know if you’re ready for the task.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

It’s so easy to talk yourself out of doing something and either you start to believe you never could do it or you live with regret that you didnt have a go. There are plenty of other things on my dream list that I hope I do one day but I’m happy in the knowledge that I am being creatively challenged.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

I’ve now booked myself a throwing workshop at Sunken Studio so I can have a proper go on a potter’s wheel and live out my Demi Moore fantasies!

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A new hobby?

almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pensSome days at work are extra exciting. This week we’re about to launch a new magazine in a totally new area! Hand lettering has slowly been building over the years with beautiful examples of slogans written in chalkboard pen, brush pens or dip ink pens. I’m so excited to have gotten a copy of the magazine and show you a sneak peek of how you can learn hand lettering at home. Simply Lettering is a brand-new magazine for everyone interested in modern calligraphy, from complete beginners to seasoned experts. Hand lettering has become a huge trend, and is seen everywhere from wedding invitations and personalised gifts, to DIY and home décor.

almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pens

My favourite part Simply Lettering is  how you can master beautiful brush lettering and fancy scripts and use those skills in a wide range of beautiful and practical projects, from cards and gift tags, to bullet journals and planners. It’s fun practicing the letters and easing into the rhythm of the brush strokes. You have to ease off the pressure earlier than you think to create the variation in the letters. If you press too hard you can accidentally make a squeak with your paper, which entertained the cat who was watching me work. I definitely need to give myself space to practice as I was rushing before dinner was ready! Looking through the mag was really motivating though. This was the first time I was inspired to try bullet journalling too! This sweet layout below is one of the included projects.

almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pens

Every issue of Simply Lettering comes with at least 15 step-by-step projects to inspire and delight that would look perfect in your house or will make ideal gifts! Each issue also includes practice sheets to help you master each script and style. You’ll also receive pens and project kits, so you can start creating right away. Issue 1 comes with two brush pens (one black, one grey) with finer nips on the reverse end for adding detail. There’s also plenty of recommendations for other tools to buy and most of them are all on here with a 20% discount for first time customers so it’s a nice way to stock up.

almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pens

The magazine is created by a team of modern calligraphy and journaling experts who design the projects and share beautiful fonts to master every issue, as well as interviews and features with the world’s best most inspiring lettering designers. It was really nice to read about how people are making successful small businesses in stationary, home decor and much more for a creative career path that you can start at home!

I hope you’ve been inspired to take a look. It’s out in all major supermarkets and WHSmiths from Thursday BUT you can pre-order a copy here and get it sent straight to you! You might want to look out for the WHSmith’s special offer with extra brush pens!


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McCall’s 6891 chambray shirtdress

Hello all! I’ve recovered from my extremely busy December and am back with a finished make for myself.

This dress was a rather spontaneous make as I was lucky enough to try on a finished version we had in the office! This meant I quickly worked out the couple of tiny adjustments I’d need to make it fit me. I could then cut out with confidence and whizzed this up in a day. In fact I made the yellow version you’re seeing on the new pattern envelope! We’re now making the designs in UK fabric and reprinting the envelopes. Squeal!!

The pattern is M6891 which is on the front of Love Sewing 63 on sale from tomorrow! It’s double stuffed so you get sizes 8-24 in one envelope and the issue includes tips on collars and cuffs if you haven’t made them before. I love a notched collar and The McCall Pattern Co instructions direct you to make theirs differently to other brands like Simplicity or indie designs.

As normal you position the collar between the facings and shirt neckline, instead of sewing over the seam allowance they ask you to push it out of the way and stop at the seam point marked by a dot, then sew on the other side in the same way. Here’s a diagram to explain a bit more:

This reduces bulk as it means you can grade the seams and trim a bit more freely as the seam allowance isn’t trapped… But this technique seems more beneficial on thicker fabrics like coats really. Unless I’ve missed another reason for this technique.

It’s not a surprise I like this pattern, as retro style shirtdresses are a big proportion of my wardrobe. They’re both smart and casual – perfect! I made view C and love the full skirt. The darts give a nice shape and of course the notched collar has a lovely vintage feel. It needs a reverse button/hole at the waist point for extra security but I can add that any time.

Now of course the Ultimate Shirtdress which is my favourite shirtdress pattern but in truth I’ve never got on with the sleeves. On the McCall’s design the sleeves fit great so maybe I need to try and merge the armscye and sleeve of this pattern with the Sew Over It pattern in the future.

I made the size 10. The bust fits my 36a-cup really nicely so no SBA here. I just adjusted the waist at the side seams to fit my 32″ tummy and the wide flare of the skirt is very roomy on my hips.

You might be wondering about the fabric… well to that I say, “Sewing friends are awesome”. They are especially great at birthday time because they think like a sewist when getting you a present and remember what things you say you like! This gorgeous Robert Kaufman spotty chambray was a gift from the darling Marie! Creative mind behind blog, Marie is such a lovely soul so I highly recommend you follow her inspiring blog/social media accounts and if you run into her at an event you’re guaranteed to leave smiling.

If you clicked into my shirtdress tag you’ll see I now have two spotty Robert Kaufman chambray dresses. Well I actually have a third UFO of Vogue 1102 cut out in the black colourway but I messed up some of the pintucks and have been putting off fixing it for months. Maybe 2019 is the year you’ll see that dress appear.

I’m currently trying to plan some sewing for the coming year. There are some lovely fabrics that have been in my stash for way too long. I’d really like to fix that and not be afraid of making the wrong thing anymore. I have my dressmakers ballgown to make too. Will I see you there?

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Would you try a sewing subscription box?

There are a few different sewing subscription services you might have seen here and there. Like you I was curious what you actually received and Hayley of Sew Hayley Jane was convinced to let me in on the action by sending her November box out for a review!

Plus keep scrolling for a link to a free patchwork stocking project perfect for festive FQs.

Hayley sends you a box of beautifully curated fabric and haberdashery items, everything you need to create lovely homemade creations, from dresses and tops, to quilts, cushions and other homewares. Each month Hayley also shares a blog post of inspiration specific to your box and a youtube video of her stepping through an unboxing!

So what was inside my November Classic box? Well it was Festive Fever time!! My box included:

Choc coins which I’m going to have to hide from the sweet monster who lives in the house with me.

A magnetic doughnut pincushion from Oh Sew Quaint. It’s like a special Christmas doughnut with festive sprinkles!! My favourite thing from the box I have to say.

A range of high quality cotton FQs in nordic style with red and grey prints. Plus 2.5m of white on scandi red floral poplin cotton which is a great amount to get a garment out of or multiple smaller projects.

There was also 2m of white crocheted lace trim which would look lovely on a garment or a home project. And 6 x 15mm floral white buttons with a lovely sheen on them. Matching gutermann thread as well!

There’s lots to work with here and you could make bags, cushions, aprons, child’s clothes or something for yourself. As I have predominantly Christmas themed cottons I had a few ideas for projects.

This sweet tree is from the latest issue of Love Sewing mag and would really work in coordinating Christmas prints.

Similarly this stocking would work really well in mixed fat quarters! And Brucie Bonus, it’s a free download on the Love Sewing site with template and instructions all there for you to try.

Finally if you’re keen on making a Christmas dress how about this beauty from SillyOldSeaDog? Visit the shop for endless Christmas dress inspiration. I’d recommend a classic style like the Sew Over It Grace dress for a vintage look or the Colette Laurel for minimal seam lines.

I think that I’ll use the larger piece of fabric along with the FQs to make a table runner for my Mum as she loves these kinds of traditional prints.

It’s hard to think of negative things to say about the items in the box, they’re all great quality. The main fear may be that you won’t know what you’re going to get each month and if you’re a bit of a control freak about your sewing that will definitely stress you out. But if you generally like the style of the boxes and love surprise post this is really a dream come true!  There are lots of beautiful prints in the boxes that you can see on previous unboxing videos if this Christmas collection is making it difficult to judge what you’d get.

So let’s get into some knitty gritty! The boxes are then sent out around the 8th of each month to arrive within a few days for UK customers, international deliveries may take longer. When you sign up you will create a unique login which will give you greater access to content on the website. Some of the blog posts are available to subscribers only – you lucky ducks. I’ve put the prices below but there’s a super helpful FAQ page to help you decide.

  • The Mini Box costs £20
  • The Classic Box costs £35
  • The Luxury Box costs £65


So why not head over to Hayley’s site to read more, check out people’s boxes with the hashtag sewhayleyjane and check out finished garments with the hashtag sewhayleyjanemakes

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