Clare Willcocks

Clare Willcocks: April 2014

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Free motion sewing tutorial: how to make a bowl

Yesterday I had the opportunity to gate crash a meeting of the Embroiderer's Guild in Paignton with my Mum.

Armed with sewing machines, threads and embroidery hoops, about 20 of us came along for a sewing tutorial given this week by my Auntie Liz (aka LimeGreenLizzie). It was a free motion sewing tutorial to make one of these delicate little bowls.

free motion sewing

I've put together a tutorial below if you'd like to make one yourself. They're extremely simple so a perfect sewing project for beginners.

Free motion sewing: bowl

#1 - Prepare the embroidery hoop

Fit a piece of water soluble plastic into your embroidery hoop. You can buy soluble plastic laundry bags which are perfect for this. They dissolve in warm water, leaving behind the stitching.

Draw around a bowl or another circular object with a pen onto the soluble plastic.

#2 - Attach the free motion foot

Fit the free motion quilting foot to your sewing machine and select the threads you would like to use. I went for plain cotton to practise with, but sparkly threads give a beautiful shimmery effect. I've used cream cotton for the bobbin and navy for the top colour.

#3 - Stitch a foundation

Slide the embroidery hoop under the foot of your sewing machine and begin to sew. To give your bowl integrity when the soluble plastic is dissolved, the stitching needs to overlap, but you can do this in any pattern you choose.

I started this one by stitching from the centre to the outside line all around the circle.

I've been experimenting with videos so here's one which shows the stitching in progress.

You should end up with something like this.

It's a good idea to sew around the edge of your circle to stop it all falling apart.

#4 - Stitch into your circle

You can decorate your circle however you like. Think about colour and what you want to see on the outside and inside of your bowl.

I turned my circle over when I stitched into it again so that the thread colours were inversed. This video shows how to stitch little circles all over it.

I then added a few more spirals in cream in the centre of some of the circles. This is what I ended up with.

#5 - Cut the circle out

Once you're happy with the design of your bowl, cut the circle out of the soluble plastic. You can save the offcuts for another project as they can be wet slightly at the edges and stuck back together to form a larger sheet.

#6 - Dissolve the plastic

Wash the soluble plastic away in warm water. Don't be too thorough because, when dissolved, the plastic becomes gluey and will give your bowl a bit of structure when it's dry.

#7 - Mould your bowl

Gently mould the circle over a bowl or other rounded shape. If you'd like it to have a flat bottom, make sure the thing you're moulding it around also has a flat base!

Leave it to dry in a warm place. If you're impatient (like me) a hairdryer works a treat!

#8 - Admire your wonderful creation

Gently prise your bowl off the mould. It should be stiff enough to remain bowl shaped.

Here's a little video to show how mine turned out. I got a bit carried away with the music feature of the video editing software here, so I apologise in advance!

There are many, many different techniques you can use to make your bowl individual. Stitch different patterns, use two layers of soluble plastic with fabric in between to trap between stitches, add embellishments when you've finished - the possibilities are endless!

I'm sharing this tutorial on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Be different Act normal, Tatertots and Jello, Sunny Simple Life and Lamb Around.

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Monday, 21 April 2014

Bank holiday biro pen drawings

In true lazy bank holiday fashion I've left it until now to write this week's post. It's going to be a short one as I'm exhausted from the weekend's antics!

The weather was amazing for our two night camping trip to Gwithian, Cornwall, even though it was a little cold in the evenings and in the wind.

As the waves were good on Friday, I sat on the beach and did a bit of drawing while Sam went surfing. The sun was shining so I found a sheltered spot next to some mussel-covered rocks which made for an interesting drawing subject. This is a biro sketch which took about 45 minutes.

ballpoint pen drawing

This is the group of mussels I was drawing. Excuse the fuzziness, some numpty ( put a fingerprint on the lens right at the beginning of the weekend and made all the pictures cloudy.

biro pen drawings

The rock was covered from top to bottom with mussels making wet, squelchy noises the whole time I was drawing.

pen and ink drawings

The beach itself was beautiful and only a five minute walk over the dunes from Gwithian Farm campsite where we were staying. Backed by grassy dunes, the golden sand stretches for as far as the eye can see. This photo really doesn't do it justice.

Gwithian beach

We went to St. Ives on Saturday which was really pretty, if a bit busy with tourists! It's not hard to see why everyone loves it though; numerous gorgeous beaches, lots of pretty boutiques and galleries and enough pasty shops and cafés to try a new one each day for weeks!

Porthgwidden beach, St Ives

The wind came along with the sun on Saturday though, so instead of getting blown to bits on the beach after our trip to St. Ives, I stayed on the campsite to do some sketching while Sam surfed.

I didn't get too far with this ballpoint pen drawing, but you get the idea!

ballpoint pen drawings

ballpoint pen drawings

ballpoint pen drawings

I had a play with paper when we got back. This is a silhouette I cut of Sam's head. Pretty good fit, eh?

I'm sharing today's post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Sunny Simple Life and Manon Popje's Illustrations.

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paper cutting and photos of Bude

On Sunday I mentioned I would be back during the week with another post - well, here I am!

Paper cutting

I've been working on a commission which is to be given as a wedding present. The couple have lots of interests which I've represented as images hidden within the piece. I've blurred the names in the photo below just in case they should stumble across it!

paper cutting

I'm thoroughly enjoying working on this one, right from drawing out the design on the reverse of the card to cutting it out bit by bit. Every evening this week has involved at least an hour of paper cutting and there's still some way to go.

paper cutting

I find it very therapeutic and if you want to have a go yourself, it's really not a very expensive or difficult hobby to start. Be warned though, it's very addictive.

I did a bit of research and found that the best blades for paper cutting are Swann Milton number 10A or 11. I went for number 11 as they've got a slightly narrower point but accidently bought a cheaper brand. 100 blades in fact! They seem to be doing the trick at the moment though.

There are a variety of paper cutting templates available to buy online if you're a little hesitant to draw your own. However, I recommend just doodling some patterns to start with and cutting them out to see how they look. You'll soon find out if they're too intricate!

The strings on this violin were tricky to cut. Having already got quite far into the paper cut I didn't want to slip and make a mistake at such a crucial point!

paper cutting art

Another paper cutting art project I'm working on is for our own wall. Trawling through a car boot sale the other week (don't you just love car boot sales?) we found a vertical box frame with five squares cut out of the mount. It originally had dried flowers in, but I had other ideas.

This collage will form the background for five little paper cut hearts which I hope to raise up slightly to give a 3D paper cut effect. I don't know how this will work at the moment but the inspiration came to me in a dream (really!) in which Simon Cowell was on a bus handing out awards for abstract art projects! If it's got his stamp of approval I'm sure it'll be a success.

paper collage from magazines

These are the little hearts I've cut so far, I'm not sure whether to make the other two slightly different or go for a uniform look for all five.

paper cutting art

Simon Cowell and paper cut hearts aside, we couldn't pass up on the chance to enjoy some of the lovely sunshine at the weekend.

We went to the pretty little town of Bude for a walk, browse of the surf shops and the inevitable coffee and cake.

I often take lots of photos which end up getting dusty in some distant corner of my hard drive, so I thought I'd share these with you.

This is the aforementioned tea, a view from the breakwater across to the fantastic sea pool, and the river which runs from the town to the sea.

Bude, Cornwall
I've got a thing about boats, so this little composition of boats, buoys, sand and cliffs really floated my boat. Haha.

Bude, Cornwall

Another one for good measure. 

Bude, Cornwall

Something else I find very aesthetically pleasing is rusty old objects. I must have hundreds of photos which, at the time, I had visions of drawing but never did. So here's another to add to the collection and one which I have actually drawn before, a rusty winch.

Bude, Cornwall
The last photos in this visual extravaganza are these, a few more snaps from around Bude.

Bude, Cornwall
If you've enjoyed reading this, please 'like' my Facebook page Clare Willcocks Art or subscribe using one of the buttons on the right to see future posts :)

PS. If you would like to order a paper cut, I do take commissions. Please get in touch to discuss what you're looking for - no pressure to go ahead if you decide it's not for you!

Today I'm sharing this post on the following blogs: The Seasoned Homemaker, Free Pretty Things for You, Savvy Southern Style and Knotted Cotton.

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Simple handbag: flower appliqué tutorial

At the end of my last post I had cut out some fabric ready to make a handbag using the Phoebe Bag free pattern found on Pinterest.

This is what it looks like with all the pieces assembled!

I love the shape, it's just what I was looking for; slightly rounded bottom corners, a narrower top, a perfect length shoulder strap and a neat fastening.

Rebeka Lambert's tutorial for the Phoebe Bag was so easy to follow, with clear step-by-step instructions and a printable pattern - I'd highly recommend it.

I did make a few changes. The interfacing I used was quite padded and I also included two inner layers of lining fabric to stiffen it. I like that it holds its shape without collapsing.

My auntie kindly showed me how to appliqué the flowers as she's been making them as brooches. I thought I'd share the process with you because they really are simple and look so cheerful on a bag like this. This is, of course, not the only way to go about appliqué but it worked for me!

Flower appliqué tutorial


#1 - Select your scraps

Probably the most difficult bit of the whole process - deciding which colours to use together! I rifled through the scraps box for a good half an hour wavering between pastel shades and bright patterns before deciding on the latter.

#2 - Draw your flowers

Draw out your flowers on the non sticky side of a piece of fusible interfacing such as Vilene. The stiffness of the interfacing depends on what you intend to do with your appliqué flowers. Mine was quite thin but could have done with being a bit thicker.

Once you're happy with your flower shapes, cut them out but don't cut right up to the lines. A circle around the flower will do. Iron them on to the wrong side of your chosen scraps. To avoid the iron getting sticky, use another piece of spare fabric on top of the interfacing as you iron.

#3 - Cut out your appliqué flowers

Once your interfacing is securely stuck on, you can cut out the flowers with fabric scissors. Here are mine all lined up on the arm of the chair. I chose to do a variety of sizes, but you can keep them all the same, or vary the shape and style.

#4 - Cut out the centres

Repeat steps two and three but this time with circles for the centre of the flowers. I used the same fabric as the lining of my bag to bring the design together.

Place the centres in the middle of the flowers ready to sew.

#5 - Sew the centres

I think that this is where ironing them on with Bondaweb may have been useful to keep them in place, but it wasn't too difficult without it.

Using the free motion foot on your sewing machine, sew on the centres in a contrasting colour. I've used black here. Lower the feed dogs when using the free motion foot to allow you to freely move the fabric around. You needn't turn the fabric, but instead direct the needle around the edge of the circle by moving it forwards, backwards and side to side smoothly. It reminds me of using an Etch A Sketch!

I stitched once around the centres at this stage.

#6 - Arrange your flowers

Place the flowers on your fabric where you'd like them to be sewn. I've arranged mine on the front piece of my bag. Play around with the arrangement until you've got it exactly how you want it. I had originally thought I'd sew the flowers over one another in a bunch, but it didn't look quite right when I tried it.

You can pin or tack on the flowers to keep them in position while you sew the others.

#7 - Sew on the flowers

If you haven't used a particularly stiff interfacing, you may need to put something underneath to stop the machine bunching the fabric as you sew. A tear away stabilizer should do the trick. It's a bit like paper and, as the name suggests, just tears away from the underside of the fabric once you've stitched on your appliqué.

I sewed twice around the edge of my flowers, and then once more around the middle as they'd already been stitched once.

Don't they look pretty!

You can then use your appliqued fabric to make up whatever project you're working on.

I'm so pleased with my lovely flower bag!

This isn't all I've been working on this weekend, I'll be back later in the week with some photos of our sunny walk and some half-finished projects!

Feel free to pin from this post on Pinterest and a little share on Facebook would make my day :D

I'm sharing today's post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Be Different Act Normal and Tatertots and Jello.

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Cute Easter egg decorating ideas and creative highlights of my week

As schools have broken up for Easter now, it seems like a good time to begin getting stuck into a few Easter crafts. A while ago I blew out some eggs, leaving the shells to decorate. This little bunny was inspired by a sheep I saw on Pinterest. It's so simple to do so it makes a great Easter craft for children. The hardest part is blowing the egg out - it takes a lot of puff! There's a printable worksheet here if you'd like to try it yourself.

I like him because he stands up on his own. He's now taken pride of place on my desk at work.

Here's the little sheep that inspired me, the Pinterest link takes you to this webpage, but I'm not sure who to credit the design or photo to.

Easter eggs decoration idea
I think I'll attempt something a little more elaborate with the remaining eggs - I'd like to try cutting sections out but I'm not sure how easy that will be. Does anyone have some other Easter egg decorating ideas they could recommend?

It was Sam's birthday in the week so we went out for meal to East the Water, West the Orient, an oriental restaurant just down the road. It serves a variety of different style food - Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai - and everything we tried was delicious. I ended up taking some home in a doggy bag which made a very yummy lunch the next day!

I baked Sam a birthday cake, but as you can see, cake decorating is not my strong point.

Luckily the taste was its redeeming feature!

I spent Saturday with my Mum at Trago Mills. For those of you who don't know it, it's a huge shop selling everything you could possibly need and a lot more. They've got a well-stocked haberdashery section where Mum helped me pick out some fabric to sew some more bags.

After a lot of deliberation and several laps of the fabric aisles, we settled on these.

The spotty fabric is to be lined with the red cotton and I'll applique the canvas on the right and line it with the dainty little hearts.

I can't wait to get started, but before I do, I'm trying out a few more bag designs in some left over fabric I already had. The pieces are all cut out ready to go and I've begun cutting out fabric scraps for the applique.

I'm using the free 'Phoebe' bag pattern by Rebeka Lambert. I just love the curved top and fastening, and the neat look of the finished bag.

Mum and I visited my auntie yesterday who makes beautiful fabric pieces, from bags and brooches to wall hangings and textured quilts. Any visit to her house always leaves me feeling very inspired, even more so when I walk out with a huge stash of scraps that she's given me! Her website, Lime Green Lizzie, showcases some of her work, but photos on the screen really don't do it justice.

Yesterday she showed us some beautiful stitched flower brooches she made which have provided the inspiration for the appliqué for this latest bag. Fingers crossed mine turn out as well as my auntie's!

I'll leave you with this biro sketch I've been working on. It's been a while since I've done some drawing, but this has reminded me how relaxing it is.

I chose buttons as my subject matter as I just love them! I'll have to start scouring charity shops to build up a stash as I don't own any at the moment and it would be great to have a good variety to dip into when embellishing projects.

This was drawn using an ordinary black biro and gently hatching to build up layers of depth.

Perhaps I'll finish it, perhaps not.

Today I'm linking up on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Lamb Around, Manon Popje's Illustrations, Tatertots and Jello and Be Different Act Normal.

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