Wednesday, 30 July 2014

5 minute tutorial...

We all know about the amazing insect repellent properties of eucalyptus oil so here's a quick and simple 5 minute tutorial to help add a little greenery to your craft room -or anywhere else in your home!- and also to help keep those pesky insects at bay using fresh leaves!
But you don't have to use these as repellents either as they also make cute green bunting.
I like to add them to my home to give it a fresh look plus however subtle the smell of English Eucalyptus it does definitely permeate a soft forest smell to the room.

I also like to use these up once they are dry in winter to burn over charcoal to help aid breathing once the cold & flu season get going!
My nan was a sage old woman who used to harvest eucalyptus leaves in the Northern forests of Portugal for drying in the sun over summer and to have handy once the sniffle season began. See I was listening and paying attention to you Nana Adelaide!

Eucalyptus leaf bunting and Stefanos Rokos print...

For the green bunting you'll need...
A few fresh eucalyptus leaves
cotton sewing thread
sewing needle

Here's how...
Clean your leaves making sure they are free from bugs and larva eggs. Don't wash as you'll remove the natural oils but use instead a clean paper towel or a little soft brush which will help remove dust and mites.

Take a piece of thread -approximately the size of your intended green bunting- and thread through a needle.

Pierce each leaf until you have the desired amount.

Make sure to knot each end so they don't fall off and also to create a point for tacking into place. Otherwise use washi tape to stick your bunting to your chosen location....
It also looks pretty on walls as subtle party bunting!!!

I've added mine to my craft room as I've tried pretty much everything to help ward off moths. It's now under control but I hope these and their powerful aroma will keep them off my beautiful cottons and linens!

Or use as decoration...

For the bouquet you'll need...
Stems/branches of fresh eucalyptus -As we don't have a garden of our own we used some from a kindly neighbour but please ask before you chop any down!
Pretty ribbon

Here's how...
Pretty simple really! Remove smaller leaves from the end of the branch. Take a nice ribbon or some twine and tie together into a pleasing bouquet. I put mine on the bed frame as we've had a few mosquitoes...with any luck this should help keep them at bay!

You can use other leaves and greenery like rosemary, lavender or any ever green shrub/leaves you fancy! This pretty Evergreen bunting is just so pretty... can't wait to make some more!

That's it... and to be honest it's actually less then 5 minutes but...hey who's keeping time right?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

As easy as folding paper!

With the school holidays quickly creeping up on us we're often left searching for alternative ways to keeping the younger members of the family entertained and engaged. If you'd rather have your kids learning a craft skill instead of sitting in front of an iPad or TV screen then this might be the book for you!
Not only is "Origami 365" perfect for your kiddos but it's also pretty fab for adults too. Believe me it's got tons of stuff that both I and my partner will be making. I'm already treating some fabric with wallpaper glue to make flowers for a festival headpiece. That project I will be posting very soon on the blog so keep an eye out for that!

In this book, Taro Yaguchi, founder of Taro's Origami Studio and master of the fold, shares his unique "Kyu" System with us.
Not dissimilar to the the colour coded levels often associated with mastery in the field of martial arts you'll successfully learn the basic folds and bases where you'll be rewarded with passage to the next level. You'll be an Origami Black Belt in no time... or actually according to the "Kyu" System you'll be an Origami Red Belt in no time!

Origami can be used as a way to reward your little ones too... complete a task, make an origami piece and get a star on the behavioural wall chart which is good news all round!
Now I'm no expert on child rearing but having 7 nieces and nephews I have had lots of experience when it comes to finding interesting ways to keep them engaged and off the naughty step!
Having so much free time and not always the best summer weather can prove a chore when it comes to keeping the younger individuals in the family happy and content. So what better way is there to keep them entertained then by making something both you and they will enjoy?
But it's not necessarily something you might want to use just as a "treat" it's also a really amazing thing to learn as Origami can help explore creativity, problem solving and promote patience. But lets move away from the kids' angle and look at the book as a whole...

This book contains a brief history of the ancient art of paper folding as well as 12 projects which are clearly illustrated and are easy to achieve without the use of complicated jargon, fiddly tools or expensive materials.
You'll also find a selection of specific key folds and base forms that provide a foundation for the development of origami skills ranging from "the book fold" to the "outside reverse fold". If that means nothing to you... fear not, it's all explained and you'll be talking like an Origami master by the end of that chapter.

The book itself comes in a lovely presentation box set which also includes 365 pieces of beautifully designed origami papers in three different sizes, hence the title... yup, you'll have enough paper to last a whole year. Though I'm not sure I'd keep to the daily quota it's definitely a book I'll revisit time and time again.
If you too would like to get your crafty mittens on this book then please order via us to get a very special offer:
To order your copy of Origami 365  (9781937994525) for £14. including p&p** telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code APG171.   

**Please note that orders from outside the UK will incur an different p&p charge. 

And hey presto, lovely flowers!!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Here comes the sewing revolution!

Last Thursday Craft Guerrilla were invited to a very special sneaky preview at "Drink Shop Do" to check out the all new Oekaki Renaissance Toyota domestic sewing machine.
It's not often that I gush about a particular piece of crafting kit but last week I fell in love with a sewing machine.
Yes, a gorgeous, well designed, intuitive, new -not quite on the market yet!- Toyota sewing machine has stolen my heart.
Though its' main target audience is the free hand embroiderer it also performs as a normal sewing machine... so you can stitch up a dress and then add some embellishments too!
An added bonus is that you can also tack stitch a garment before committing to the stitch so your projects will be finished quicker and more accurately.
For me this is a very handy and welcome feature as normally I pretty much bypass the tack stitching and go straight onto the sewing bit. I know, I'm an inherently lazy positive person when it comes to sewing and though I do it time and time again I still fall into the trap of thinking it'll be fine which in reality means I end up unpicking everything anyway because cutting corners never works!

The new Oekaki sewing machine!

And so what's the fuss and what's so different about this sewing machine you ask?
Well after an initial run through by the experts we sat at the machine and... woosh, we were off!
I was pretty hesitant about the pedal issue but that quickly became second nature.
The difference and main advantage of this machine is that rather then using the foot pedal for speed you are actually using that same pedal for stitch width! This allows you to embroider in different widths on one section without having to fiddle with settings. It takes time to master but it can be super accurate and liberating. Just needs a little bit of patience and practice!
I know, sounds weird using the pedal in a totally different way from usual but far from it. It's not all haphazard as you can set the stitch width on the control panel.

I think Sanna fell in love too... could hardly get her off the machine, not even with the promise of cocktails!

After a few tentative tries we quickly got the hang of it though I think I would need more then a quick 5 minutes to get to the point of actually embroidering monograms and designs like those made and demoed by the amazing experts. Sanna did an amazing job... embroidered, stitched, appliquéd and even managed to make her childhood monogram. But she was pretty much born on a sewing machine!

A few examples by Anne which she made using the Oekaki machine...

and here's Anne Griffiths, the lady herself showing her amazing stitched panel!

One of those talented experts was Anne Griffiths a textile designer who was there showcasing her amazing work. Unfortunately we arrived too late to hear her talk about her work but we were totally blown away by what she achieved with this machine.
It looked like it had been embroidered by hand but it wasn't as she assured us. On closer inspection it had the telltale signs of a machine made piece but it also still had the hand made look about it. I guess it's a sympathetic marriage of both but it did look effectively and realistically hand made... and in a way it is. A bit like the difference between an adobe© illustrator drawing and a pencil drawing. Look at it as a tool which gives the same results -or very close!- in a fraction of the time!
If it helps manage my already busy time then I'm all for it. The possibilities are endless and I'm already thinking how this amazing sewing machine could make my toy making more efficient and less time consuming.

For a first go I think we did quite well though Sanna did much better then me but then again...she is a clever panda!

What this machine does is allow people to become stitch artists. One thing I always found "unlikable" about the preset embroidery machines was the actual fact that the hand made element was lost. It always looks so sterile and machine made. Almost too perfect!
BUT... The Oekaki machine takes that all back. It's pretty much just like drawing with thread... and that makes me very happy!!! Actually Oekaki means to draw. I love drawing and sewing so I'm very happy to see that this technology is being spear headed by some very clever people. So it's a big thumbs up from me as it includes three of my favourite things rolled into one: Tech, sewing and drawing!

A fellow guest made the most amazing piece...and it was her first go ever at free hand machine embroidery! Wow, lady...that's awesome!!!

The actual product design is nice too... perfectly modern, minimalist, light -it's so easy to carry which makes it super portable!-and also with a selection of colours to chose from. I think were I to purchase one that I'd be stuck as all three colours would suit my craft room decor. Choices are red, black and a beautiful green teal. Maybe when we get our studios again we can get one of each?! It also includes a starter pack so you can get immediate inspiration and tuition via a DVD. The on line resources are pretty good too as the website is packed with filmed tutorials, project ideas and templates.

Erm, for a first attempt it's not too bad!
The Oekaki does all the normal things a sewing machine does and more like having the super self threading feature. So easy... especially if like me you always forget to wear your glasses!
The other positive it has is a self adjusting glide foot so if you were stitching a pair of jeans for example -ah yes it also sews up to 12 layers of fabric so denim is a doddle!!!- the foot effortlessly drives over the chunky seems without stopping, clogging or getting stuck on the thick fabric.
I was very impressed and can't wait to see what else Toyota come up with in the future. This my friends is the beginning of a sewing revolution and I for one am ready to wave the Oekaki free hand machine embroidered flag!

Easy and versatile... a perfect piece of kit for any stitcher!

If you'd like to see more about this machine then head over to the web site. There are lots of tutorials, tips and previews plus a lot more techical info:

The R.R.P. for the Oekaki Renaissance is £599/€649.
However anyone reserving the machine before the release in July will receive the greatly discounted price of £349/€399! Visit the Toyota website for more info and to reserve your machine!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Picture perfect social media!

We can't all be Henri Cartier-Bresson but we can but try! For those bloggers that rely on images to tell their stories then this fantastic little book can help make the difference between having a blog that has a few dozen readers and a blog that becomes essential reading for hundreds of followers!
You see there are a ton of blogs out there and it's pretty hard keeping readers engaged and interested.

Picture Perfect Social Media gives you the confidence to stand out in an ever evolving, competitive blogosphere. The Internet is a vast and fickle thing as you know, so listen up people... the reality is that you need to up your game and what better way to do so then by making your blog a lifestyle destination!
A Handbook for Styling Perfect Photos for Posting, Blogging and all your social media needs!

Whether you're blogging about your home made cakes or documenting your globe trotting adventures having great complementary photos can increase your web traffic flow as well as reach as many new readers as possible and keep those returning coming back for more.

What the author and photographer Jennifer Young manages to do is prove that you don't need to be a professional stylist to add beautiful, captivating and unique visuals to your blog.
Tapping in on years of experience we're offered simple and direct instruction on how to achieve brilliant compositions, stunning images and even let in on a few trade secrets too. This book has plenty of great examples and easy to follow tutorials including practical things like d.i.y. light boxes to help you achieve the best products shots to retouching and recalibrating images on photoshop (other photo editing programs available!) .


I know I'm not the worlds' best photographer but I'm neither the worst though I'd like to improve my skills!
You see, I know what I should be doing but I also know that I'm far too lazy to sit and read through a huge camera instruction booklet so I tend to just point, snap and hope for the best!

This is the manual I'm yet to read... and why I usually reach for my phone to snap photos!
But this book has simplified it all as it neither blinds you with science nor confuses you with hard to understand tech jargon plus it's less taxing to read then a bulky manual.
However it's far from basic... it's absolutely packed with amazing and useful information. It leaves you with the feeling that you needn't hire a photographer to achieve such great results and that you can do it yourself. Result!
Another bonus is that the actual book size is small enough to take with you on your outings should you need to refer to it... slips straight in to a hand bag, tote or camera bag!

One of the pages from the book...

edited with a smart phone app...

While Section One covers key photography issues relevant to blogs and offers a guide to understanding your camera the chapters in Section Two focus on  a few popular subjects like food, travel, fashion and home interiors plus it has a section including styling tips and advice from other prolific bloggers. Oh yes, and how could I forget, it also features one of my favourite subjects... pets!

Another page from the book... and I'm playing around with filters!

The third and final chapter looks at the technical side which I can happily say is not overly complicated but actually very simple and put into layman's terms which suits me fine!

One of the subjects: Travel photography! 
So if you thought "DPI" and "PDF" were acronyms the kids were using on text messages then fear not as it's all neatly explained!
You'll come away with a better understanding of certain technical terms without feeling completely  overwhelmed. Photographic editing programs aren't done in a secret code nor are they purposely put into mysterious languages but it helps knowing what certain things mean and learning to use them is a doddle with this book!
Believe me, even though I have a good knowledge of acronyms I actually used to think "LOL" meant "Lots Of Love" so not judging you one little bit on whether you speak the program lingo or not

Playing around with apps to get a better looking image can add interest to the photo...

...though the original is amazing and not even my phone with or without filters/apps will do it justice!

Whether you're using a mobile phone camera or a fancy DSLR this book focuses on stylistic and compositional tricks that can help you get the best shots with your existing equipment.
No need to spend a fortune on a new camera... besides Cartier-Bresson had a very basic Leica (and his photos were awesome!) and with a guide like Jennifer you won't fail in adding a certain beauty to your social media projects... she is after all a very accomplished and talented artist in her own right.

A photo from one of the pages of the book... please note that I've played around with filters to illustrate what you can do with a phone camera... and not saying it's great but it's fun trying!

If you'd like to take advantage of the special offer for our readers then order your copy of Picture Perfect Social Media (9781845435509) for £10.00* only then call 01903828503 and quote offer code APG170.

*including postage and packaging

Thursday, 12 June 2014

5 minute tutorial...

I love a good charity shop find and this little egg cup was just too sweet to resist!
As it looked back at me from the charity shop shelves I thought to myself  "Really, do I need you?" but in fact it prompted me into a challenge. What could I make which would be useful, pretty, yet super quick to make? Besides for 30p I couldn't walk away. And my purchase goes to help a charity so a huge "win" all round.

As I took it to the till in my head I was already thinking about how I could make it into something else... I mean I don't normally eat boiled eggs but I couldn't resist it's unusual mix of ceramic and wood.
Well egg cup you made me think outside the egg box and I came up with a very quick but handy tutorial which can be used on other bits of crockery too. The principal is the same. Tea cups, jam jars, coffee cups, little terracotta pots. All can be made into useful pincushions!
Yes, it's safe to say that I have a huge soft spot for pincushions. As you'll find this is not the first tutorial for making pincushions but hey... It's just one of those things that I can't get enough of! It's something so common yet not everyone will have one -and if they do they definitely will need another!- plus it's a great way to start you on your merry way into up-cycling not to mention that it also makes a great gift for anyone. I've said that before, haven't I? Ah yes, gift giving is a blast though I think I might keep mine for now but I'm sure I can find someone who'll absolutely love pincushions as much as I do!

In 5 minutes this is what you can make!!!

To make this egg-celent pincushion...this is what you'll need:
• An egg cup
• Cotton fabric- we used the smallest piece from our off cut bag
• Sewing needle & thread
• Card board
• Ric-rac or any ribbon- be as fancy as you like! Another great alternative is a pom pom trim which takes this to a whole new level of kitsch!
• Stuffing

Here's the making bit...

Step one - cut a small card board circle. This should be smaller then the circumference of your egg cup so it fits neatly inside. You don't want it to sit too close to the base nor the top but somewhere half way in...

Step two - cut a large circle of your fabric (about the size of a tumbler glass) and use a running stitch around the edge of your circle -about 2 cm in- to form a puff which will make your pin cushion.

Step three - when you reach the end pull the thread to form a puff but leave enough of an opening to add the stuffing...
Your fabric circle should now resemble a pouch...

Step four - Fill with enough stuffing to form a plump puff, add the card board circle over the stuffing and pull tightly so to form a tight puff and to keep the card in place. It also serves as a barrier so the needles//pins don't get lost in the puff nor come out the other side! Knot the thread securely into place.

Don't over stuff but make sure it's plump!

Pull and knot firmly!

You should have something like this...



Step five - Check the puff// pin cushion fits your egg cup!

Next form a loop with the ric-rac and stitch onto the edge of the puff. Stitch the remaining ric-rac around the edge to make it look pretty! *p.s. you can add extra details like a little button, a bow etc. Totally up to you! Also I realise I haven't done it but cut a smaller circle from your fabric and tack stitch to the back of the puff so it's super neat! I shall be adding this to mine later...

tabtastic... this will make it easier to pull off the pincushion top!

I used ric-rac but you can use lace, ribbon or leave it plain!

Step six - Add a few bits to the inside like spare buttons, safety pins, thimble, a tape measure etc.

Choose bits you use like buttons, pins and a tape measure... you can also fit a pair of folding mini scissors...

Note: The little loop tab is to help remove your pin cushion away from the egg cup!

And there you have it! That's it. It's very easy and super cute. Plus it can be done in no time though if you take a little longer don't worry... it probably just means that you're enjoying the making process so relax and give in to the craft!!!

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