Monday, 27 May 2013

Promises, twisting wire & the Mini Beaded Crown

Well I did promise the crown would follow so here it is and you still have time to make one (or two...) before the Coronation!  

Part of my inspiration came from the crown on this gorgeous vintage embroidery sampler that was taken from HM Queen Elizabeth's first Christmas broadcast in 1952 where she paid tribute to her late father and asked that people pray for her on her Coronation Day the following June (1953).  I don't know who worked the sampler but the stitches are absolute quality.

So, back to the project.  You will need some seed beads, thin wire and pliers and the key to it all is really twisting the wire and tucking it neatly 'inside' the crown so it doesn't show as you work.

To start with you will need to cut a longish length of wire - around a 12" ruler type length should do it.  Thread 18 x red seed beads onto one side of the wire and thread through the other side of wire as well (like below...)

Pull the wire ends tight so it looks like this...

Then thread on another 18 x red seed beads (with both ends of wire threaded through as before) and pull tight until you have a sort of 'figure of 8' shape ... 

Squash so one circlet sits on top the other.  Wind one of the wire ends around the two beaded circlets to secure them together...

...then trim the end neatly and thread 7 x white seed beads, 1 x red seed bead, 7 x white seed beads onto the other wire end.. 

Bend the beaded wire over to the opposite side of the crown base and wrap the wire end around the circlets to secure.  Trim the end neatly.

Attach a new length of wire at the top of the crown (next to the red seed bead in the center).  Thread 7 x white seed beads onto one side of wire and secure to the circlet base.

Then add 7 x white seed beads to the other side of the wire and repeat as before..

Continue beading the wire (add another piece if necessary) to make the final pair of beaded wire stems then finish them off by twisting together, adding some blue seed beads to make a little loop then giving a final twist & trim (try to tuck any ends underneath so they don't show) 

Ta-dah your little crown is ready! What will you do with yours?  If you make another one and add an earring finding to the loop on the top...'ll have a right royal pair of earrings!

                                 Happy Regal Making!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Retro-posting, Her Maj & wearable bunting!

how to make a beaded bunting necklace
This is a bit of a retro-post as I've been a good girl trying to rest my hand a bit since those jabs and staying away from anything that involves too much effort on the knuckle joints.  I'm glad to report that they are looking much more settled now so it was all worthwhile!

I've been doing a bit of light crafting and have made up the project I wanted to show you pre-jabs, that was inspired by a lovely day out (see the bunting necklace in the picture above) and I've just finished another one  - the little beaded crown - which will fit nicely with the up-coming celebrations for HM Queen Elizabeth II's coronation anniversary!

My inspiration started after a walk about a local village, more recently famous for it's racing track, called Castle Combe.  It's on the edge of the Cotswolds and you can see lots of the famous Cotswold Stone in the rows of pretty little cottages..
Castle Coombe Village

I believe that there was once a hill fort which was used by the Britons, Saxons and later, the Romans to protect  'The Fosse Way' (a long Roman Road that ran from Exeter to Lincoln) and that it was the Normans who would later built more of an actual 'Castle'.  Sadly, all that can be seen now is a vague outline or what's commonly called an earthwork

There's a good couple of public houses in which to have a nice Sunday lunch (and yes, we did..nom nom!) plus an old market cross around which the village was built and the obligatory Medieval village Church...
medieval church in castle combe

One of the things I love most about old places like this is simply looking at all the interesting little features such as this old door bell pull (spot the studded door too!) I bet the bell on the other end was loud...

And I wonder what the people who peeked through these ancient looking, time worn window frames saw...

This lantern looks more modern to me but is still quite in keeping with the overall look I guess.....

It's also one of the few places you'll go nowadays where there is someone selling their homemade wares in front of their house with just an 'honesty box' for payment - in this case lots of scrummy looking cakes...
(I think it was the flag on this house that triggered my bunting idea!)

Right at the bottom of the village the road goes over a bridge by some old weavers cottages...
Castle Coombe Village By Brook
You can see why the village has been used as film locations in the past!

Then the bridge goes over the 'By Brook' which was used to power the mills of the prosperous wool industry era in the Middle Ages....
Castle Coombe Village By Brook

There's a magnificent Manor House (hotel) built in the 14th Century and of course, just outside the main hub you'll find that famous race track which was built in the 1950s (just after Silverstone) It's all very traditional and all in all I can recommend it as a very pretty place to potter about on a sunny day!

I'm afraid I'm still a little slow typing things up so the crown tutorial will have to follow later, but would you like to see how I made the 'village bunting' style necklace...?
How to make a beaded bunting necklace

You would?  Ok here goes...

First gather your bits 'n' pieces such as selection of pliers, some tiger tail, thin jewellery wire, crystal beads, seed beads, small spacer beads, crimps, crimp covers and a trigger clasp (oh - and a couple of clips to hold the beads on the necklace while you are working will come in very handy!)
beaded bunting necklace step by step instructions

Start by cutting a long length of fine 0.2mm beading wire (around 16-18cm should do it but this will ultimately depend on your seed bead size).  Slide a single seed bead onto the middle of the piece of wire then secure it by passing the wire back through it once.  
wire and beads
 Next, thread 2 x seed beads onto one side of the wire and thread the other side of wire through from the opposite direction as show above. 

Pull both wire ends firmly so that the beads end up sitting above the single seed bead nice & neat as shown below...
beading with seed beads and wire

On the next 'row' add 3 x seed beads to the wire as before, then pull the wire ends to sit them on top the stack...

Continue in the same way, adding 4 x seed beads then 5 x seed beads on the next couple of rows...

And finally make a row of 6 x seed beads.  By now you should have a nice little seed bead 'flag' shape as pictured below...

At EACH end of this last row, thread the wire through the last bead to secure it...

Now make lots more little flags in the colours of your choosing (I made 3 of each in red, white & blue)...
how to make seed bead flags

When you have made all your flags, use round nose pliers to coil ALL the long wire ends (you may need to trim them if they are a bit too long)....
beaded flag

Now they are ready, cut a piece of tiger tail (around 18-20cm for a shorter necklace) and thread it through one coiled loop of the first beaded 'flag'...

Add 6 x seed beads onto the wire then thread through the other loop on the other side of the flag...

Add a crystal bead between each flag as you continue to work and add all the little flags to the length of tiger tail (remember you can use the clips to stop the beads falling off the ends of the tiger tail - it really helps!)

Make sure you add enough extra seed beads on each side of the necklace wire to make it the correct length for you, then add the endings to *finish off (see the two pictures below).
*To finish the necklace ends thread the following onto the ends of the tiger tail: a crimp bead, spacer bead, wire guardian - then thread the tiger tail back down through each one and pull to tighten.  Squash the crimp bead and hide with a crimp cover then add your trigger clasp & a large jump ring to attach it to. Always thread the end of the tiger tail back down through the first few beads before trimming it.

All you need to do now is wear it with pride on 2nd June!

                    Happy Anniversary of your Coronation Ma'am :-)
addicted to making tutorial

....and Happy Making to all of you xxx

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Saving The Min & Machine Embroidery Experiments (part 1)

This isn't quite the post I was going to write today but I am, how shall we say... a little 'compromised' ?

I was going to write about a lovely day trip we had at the weekend and a little project inspired by it but, after a visit to 'The Min' yesterday ('The Min' being an affectionate name for The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath)  and a couple of steroid injections in my arthritical knuckles I can't really make what I was going to make so that one will have to wait until later.

The Min is a really wonderful old building with such history and an ongoing record of excellence.  I have had several family members receive treatment there and, in recent years, have also been sent for treatment myself.  Sadly, there is currently a big shadow over its future & survival which you can read all about here and I would also be ever so grateful if you can pop over here to sign the petition that has been organised to try and help 'Save the Min' (please do... it would be such a shame for us to loose this national treasure - and please share the links too - thanks)

I didn't actually know I was going to get injected beforehand and had happily browsed round the shops, buying this sweet little ball of primrose yellow wool (ready for yet another project idea I'd had...) 

but unfortunately this is what happens when I try to work with wool and a hand support..... (plus I am supposed to be resting my hand for the next day or so. Hmm.)

Anyway, I decided to look upon it as a crafting challenge and think about what I could do with one hand out of action (so to speak) and so long as I didn't need to grip, press, or use any real pressure it would probably be OK.  So, I thought, how about a bit of machine embroidery....

I've not done lots of this craft before but could remember the general set up for the sewing machine which is basically to set your tension to zero and also the smallest stitch possible.

Then remove the normal 'foot'... (you can put on a special darning/embroidery foot if you have one)

Then cover the 'dogs' (tracks that move the material through - on some machines you can push a button to drop them down) and pull the thread up through as you would normally..

You also need an embroidery hoop (I tried several hoop sizes and found the middle one the best)...

Once your hoop has fabric in it you actually work on the reverse side to usual and need to slide it under the needle and foot attachment 'stem' 

Next, you pull up the bottom thread and hold it with the top thread while you make the first stitch and then you are away.... 

...and I really mean 'away' if you are a bit heavy with the pedal ( me!!)

I started out with a single line of wibbly wobbly text just so I could practise moving the hoop around. And some wibbly wobbly doodles....

Then I tried going over and over some text to 'thicken' it.. ..

     (you don't half get some knotty messes on the back at times!)

I do quite like that effect so practised a bit more...

hmmm..  not so good but getting better towards the last word ;-)

...and then I practised a bit more. Quite honestly I think the key to it is LOTS of practise and using a thicker fabric (mine was quite thin so puckered easily). Practise, practise, practise... until you have had enough for the day.  I got to a rather-messy-but-starting-to-get-better-looking-bit-of-text before I decided to finish up.

It has to be said that I do not accept defeat easily and decided to tidy up that  rather-messy-but-starting-to-get-better-looking-bit-of-text and rummaged around for my 'stitch ripper' (yes, I could only find my broken one but needs must....)

I discovered that if you remove the messy, squiggly lines and trim the odd ends off that it starts too look a little bit more 'passable' and you can then go back over some bits if needed.

Ok, I know... not super fantastic but remember I was compromised with a cumbersome hand support too (what gratuitous excuse mongering!)

Anyway, finally,  I gave it a press with the iron and... well...I'll let you rate it yourself.

                                 (all tips gratefully received!)

I will be trying this again sometime.
I think. 

What crafting I am going to do tomorrow to get my fix I have no idea - hope you're having better luck with whatever you are making!