Monday, 30 June 2014

I Like Big Buttons and I Cannot Lie!

To be honest I like all buttons- big ones, small ones, shiny ones, matt ones, shank backed, two-holed, four-holed, you name it and I'll probably like it.
Nice, oversized buttons are fab for embellishing items such as bags, knitwear and cushions. Also, all you have to do is glue a brooch finding on the back and you have yourself a super quick, delectable accessory!
Whilst shop bought buttons work wonderfully well,and I have quite a few that are now brooches, it's still not quite the same as making your own button. 
I do enjoy making my own big, feature buttons using air-dry clay, polymer clay or epoxy putty.

Below are a couple of examples of previously made ones. I like to use nail varnish and enamel paint to finish them off.

For this one I used terracotta coloured, air-dry clay with red nail varnish which I have only applied to the top surface. After I cut the basic shape and holes, I left it to dry in a shallow bowl to make it nice and curved, unfortunately that doesn't really come across well in the photograph.
These ones were made with white, air-drying clay with nail varnish and enamel paint to highlight the letters- see the link below on how to make your own.
This is an epoxy putty button, textured using lace netting and impressed with a star-shaped cutter before using various nail varnishes to highlight once set.
Below are glazed, ceramic clay but they require the use of a pottery kiln so are not so simple and unless you're super lucky enough to have a ceramic kiln at home (sadly I'm not lucky enough but, happily, I do have a local pottery club). Similar designs are achievable with the above materials though.

As you can see it can be simple to achieve a wide variety of results.

This previous post from August last year included a tutorial to make a teapot shaped magnet using air dry clay. You can use the same steps to make buttons by using your desired shape cookie-cutter, e.g. circular, and something to make two or four holes. I prefer something that actually cuts the hole instead of poking it as this displaces the clay. By cutting it, the result is much neater, i.e. using a small tube rather than something pointy- for example the barrel of a pen or lid versus a knitting needle.
Once the clay has dried/cured it can be decorated as desired. All that's left is to glue a brooch finding on the back and attach it to your favourite top/blazer/whatever and you're all set! (Although sometimes I add thread to the holes and sometimes I don't- depends on my mood I guess.)

Until next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x

Monday, 16 June 2014

Feathered Hairband

My friend asked me if I would make her a feather and bead hair-band to wear to an upcoming wedding. Err crafting with feathers and beads? Definitely count me in!
As it was going to be a case of trial and error I thought I would document how I got on and perhaps it would help if you wanted to make one.

My friend sent me this photograph to show me the sort of thing she was after but she she wanted it with black beads....
I decided to use white goose feathers and a plain, silver coloured, metal hair-band (rather than wrapping it with ribbon as in the picture and my friend was happy with that). Also I decided to do it all by sewing rather than gluing, I have been let down by glue in the past (glue, how could you?) and just felt sewing would be more secure.
Firstly I trimmed and stripped the feathers to the size I wanted as they were quite big. I wanted them to be about 8cm long so cut the shaft and stripped the barbs from the end (here's a link to a diagram of the parts of the feather courtesy of Ducks and Clucks I also tried to curve the feather slightly with varying degrees of success. I did this by running my fingernail along the shaft on the underside of each feather, sort of like the way you can curl plastic ribbon with scissors. This also made some "rotate" a bit but once sewn in place this wasn't to much of a problem (it's not really visible in the photograph).
I cut white fleece material into 2 triangular shapes with rounded corners. Originally I wanted to use white felt but the only felt I had was 4mm thick and that was far too thick. I think a thin felt would be ideal.

Also, I planned to use a plain metal hair-band but I then found one with a small flower design on the side and thought this would help hold the feather section in place due to not wanting to use glue. To be honest I think maybe a plain one would have been easier in the long run as the flowers got in the way for the later sewing. If you decide to make one I suggest using a plain band and glue the top triangle to the top of the band then sewing over it. Anyway I sewed the top triangle to the hair-band- narrower end facing down, with the bottom approximately 2cm above the ear.
It was then a case of sewing the feathers on. I started in the top right corner and worked leftwards. I stitched each feather about four times by stitching over the shaft, I then covered the stitches with the barbs of the next feather and worked along like this.
With the last feather in the row I only did three stitches missing the stitch near the top so that the first feather on the row below would cover the stitches, this row worked left to right. I carried on in this fashion until all the triangle was covered with feathers, mine took approximately 40 feathers. Don't worry too much about the bottom corner being very neat as this will be covered with beads.
I used 2 different types of beads and just sewed them on randomly closely together, roughly in a triangle.
(I must admit that I did sew the tips of an extra feather to each side of the beads to make it fuller but didn't photograph this sorry.)
All that was left was to sew the second triangle to the first underneath the hair-band, I whip stitched them together.
I think is something that looks better in person than in a photograph but my friend was happy with it and that makes me happy!
They're not the best photographs as well sorry.
Let me know what you think. Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

What's the time Mr Owl?

I've got a bit of a thing for owls and so was delighted to take part in a bird of prey experience with my hubby recently. This involved a few different species of owls- Barn Owls, an Eagle Owl and my personal favourite a Southern White-Faced Owl called Furby, who was just too cute for words.
Due to my fondness for owls and all things owly, my sister gave me a gorgeous watch, with an owl on the face, the Christmas before last which I love! I wear it so much I've worn a way part of the strap and I thought rather than buy a new one I would try crochet one.
I decided to used embroidery cotton and a fine hook (1.5mm) to make the strap "fabric" nice and tight.
I started by joining the cotton (DMC colour 708) using double crochet (dc) straight to the strap bar, as if the bar was a previous row, and continued with dc. It was only four stitches per row and was simply a case of 1dc in each dc with a turning chain at the end of each row. 
Originally I was thinking of reusing the buckle but I thought why use a buckle when you can use a button! At the end of the side to have the button I created a rounded end by chaining 1, skipping the first dc, doing 1 half treble in the next 2dc, chaining 1 and slip stitching into the last dc. I chose a little two-holed, mother of pearl button. I then used the end of the cotton to attach the button and sewed the end in.
On the end of other strap I chained 6, attached to the 4th dc of the previous row, then crocheted 10dc into the chain space, slip stitch into the last dc of the last row, I then made sure it was the correct size for the button to fit through and sewed the end in with a needle.
All done!
I found one skein was just the right amount, in fact I had just over 30cm left.
I'm so happy with the result and if possible love the watch even more!?
Until next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x