Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children

Hope & Gloria - Sewing Inspiration for Children
Inspired By The Colours Of Autumn

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Funky Pumpkin Patch Tutorial

When I think of Halloween, like most people, I think pumpkins. Huge, plump, round cheerful orange ones with cut out scary faces.

Last Friday I went to the Taste of Autumn Food Festival at RHS Wisley. As well as eating lots of delicious food samples my friends and I were amazed by the fabulous displays of pumpkins and gourds. These beautiful autumnal displays were placed all around the gardens and we were surprised to see how many varieties there are available not to mention the spectrum of colour to be found amongst this particular type of food.

Pretty impressive pumpkins

So last weekend, inspired by these fabulous displays I decided to make ,my own pumpkin patch. I found suitable fabric lurking in the bottom of a box which once upon a time was destined for a brightly coloured quilt. As with so many things the quilt never happened but I love what has grown in it's place....

If you would like to make a pumpkin patch of your own in time for Halloween - this is how you do it:

You will need:

Patterned cotton fabric and some green felt.

Step one:

As a rule the length of the fabric should be twice the width. For my pumpkins I used fabric measuring 15 x 30 cm

Step two:

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides facing and sew along the outside edge opposite the fold secure with a finishing knot at the end.

Step three:

Sew along the bottom edge using running stitch.

Step four:

Now pull the thread so that the fabric gathers along the bottom edge. Pull it tight and secure with a firm knot.

Step five:

Turn it inside out so that the patterned side of the fabric is now on the outside and sew a row of running stitch all around the top approx 1/2cm from the edge. Do not tie a finishing knot at this stage.

Step six:

Now add plenty of stuffing. Then as with the bottom edge pull the thread so that it gathers around the stuffing. Pull tight and secure with a finishing knot.

Step seven:

Now it's time to make the ridges around the outside of the pumpkin. This can be tricky and you should use a long needle and strong thread. Children will need help from an adult.
Pass your needle through the centre of the pumpkin. Squeezing it tight at the top and bottom to squash the stuffing will enable you to pass the needle through more easily.
Once the needle comes out of the centre at the bottom of the pumpkin, pull the thread through and wrap it tightly around the outside edge. Pass the needle through the middle once again and repeat wrapping the thread tightly around the pumpkin a quarter of the way around the sphere.
Repeat as many times as desired to form the ridges all the way around the outside.

Your pumpkin should now look something like this.

Step eight:

Cut a leaf shape from your green felt and sew it on to the top of your pumpkin

So now that you've finished your funky pumpkin there is only one thing left to do - make more and create your very own pumpkin patch just in time for 31st October! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Colours of Autumn

Wow, it has been a busy few weeks at Hope & Gloria HQ. We have launched eight clubs in six new schools, we now welcome 500 children a week at our clubs and the Hope & Gloria team has expanded to eight members. So all in all time for creating and sewing has been in short supply.

During this hectic period the Indian summer has left us and Autumn has arrived in all of its glory. Colder temperatures aside there are so many fabulous things to love about the Autumn - colour being one of them. Every Autumn I bore my boys by pointing out beautiful shades of autumnal colour on trees on our school run. From time to time they express vague enthusiasm and I am grateful that they are keen to humour their Mum.

It is of course the changing of the season that has inspired my latest wall art design. Last weekend we went for a family walk through the woods near Virginia Water Lake. The trees are just about on the turn displaying some fabulous colour but aren't quite yet in their full autumnal glory. We found fabulous toadstools on the ground and watched squirrels busily burying acorns. All of these feature in the wall art design.

Toadstools near Virginia Water Lake

The Autumn design follows on from the Summer Garden Wall Art  that I made earlier this year.

When designing for Hope & Gloria sewing clubs I tend to use a range of brightly coloured felt and fabric which our sewing club members love so much, so it was great to work with a different palette for this new project. The colours used echo those that we see outside at this time of year but I have also added texture to make it more interesting.

The hedgehogs and squirrel are made from felted lambswool jumpers and the leaves are made from scraps of fabric I had left over from a quilting project.

There are also a few fun touches such as the googly eyes peering out of the hole in the tree trunk - a nod to Halloween, which will be the inspiration for my next Autumn projects. I am looking forward sharing these shortly but in the meantime I thoroughly recommend a walk in your local woods to find your Autumn inspiration.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gulliver Ipad Case

So, we are lucky enough to be having an "Indian Summer" here in the UK. It must be about 23 degrees outside at the moment and I really need to turn my thoughts to designing the Christmas Hope & Gloria Sewing projects. However, the clement weather is making this next to impossible this afternoon.

I can't help but turn my thoughts back to the fabulous summer holiday we had in Cornwall this year. To me there is nowhere lovelier than the dramatic Cornish coast and we were lucky enough to spend a week there this summer. It was an action packed week as there is so much to see and do in this fabulous county - watching international surfing contests on the north coast, jumping in the waves and off harbour walls in to the sea on the Lizard peninsula, as well as a delicious Cornish Pastie and an ice cream or two(!). As a family we all left wanting more and can't wait to return at the next available opportunity.

Of course Cornwall also has plenty of these little fellas - the British Seagull.

This particular one was stalking our picnic which we ate in Boscastle Harbour. The boys were a little bit intimidated by it's audacity and the size of its beak. They can still remember a seagull diving down to steal a pastie from my hand in St Ives just a few years ago and thought we were going to have a repeat of the episode. I am happy to report that we didn't and seagulls became the inspiration for my final Summer inspired project before moving on to Halloween and Christmas.

The case began life as a lambswool sweater. I machine felted it and cut it to size. You can see that the flap was once the ribbing from the bottom of the jumper. While I was in Cornwall I began to form a seagull applique design and was searching for an idea of what to put it on. The greys of the gull blend really well with the grey tone of the blue wool and the yellow beak and legs are a good contrast and so the idea of the ipad cover was formed.

It is lined with a linen mix spotty fabric and fastens with a stud fastener. The rustic wooden button on the front cover echoes driftwood.

It was the Virginia Water Village Show this weekend and my ipad case seemed like an ideal entry for the "Something New From Something Old" category. I am delighted to report that it won first prize!

Now about Christmas.......

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Egham Royal Show - Feeling Like A Winner!

It's been pretty quiet on the blogging front over the past couple of weeks. However, please don't think I haven't been busy.

This summer I decided to do something that I have never done before - enter a handicraft competition.

I am not sure why the time was right this year as I have thought about it on numerous occasions in the past but never found the time or the courage to throw my creations out there for third party scrutiny and judging. So this weekend I took the bull by the horns and submitted three entries in to the Egham Royal Show.

We first visited the Egham Royal Show as a family about four years ago. It always falls on the August Bank Holiday weekend and since then we haven't been around. Knowing that we would be around this year I thought I'd give it a go.

 Excuse me while I give an advertisement for the show but it really is a fabulous day out for all of the family. There is something for everyone - even for the hard to please Richardson clan. This year I was able to indulge my love of flowers and handicrafts in the horticulture tent, whilst the boys admired model boats and aeroplanes, not to mention the guns on the Royal Marine Stall. There were classic cars for Giles to dream about and we could all come together to admire the cute piglets in the livestock marquee and the very clever sheep dogs in the dog agility competition.

So this year I decided to enter three items in to three categories:

My vintage inspired hand quilted cushion complete with home made lavender scented cushion pad.

A cross stitch that kept me occupied whilst on hols.

and my 100% designed by me Summer Garden Fabric Wall Art.

I have to say that I am most proud of the wall art. It's an idea that has been forming in my mind for a long time and it was made over the course of a week this August. Just like a real garden, my Summer garden grew before my eyes and I wasn't sure how it would look and come together as a design until the point that I knew it couldn't grow any further. 

A number of techniques went in to the design - various fabric flowers, felt flowers, applique and embroidery. I added detailing by including mini-beasts and insects amongst the florals. It was described by the judges as a "great show piece using lots of different techniques", which I consider to be praise indeed. I am delighted to have received second place in the judging of the "other handicraft techniques" category and feel very proud that my hard work and ideas were rewarded in this way.

I learnt a lot from entering the show. It was fascinating to look at the prize winners in the various categories and to try to work out what the judges were looking for. Next year I shall begin to plan my entries much earlier. If I had the chance all over again I would add more quilting to the cushion and I plan to begin a cross-stitch project much earlier so that it can be on a much greater scale - I already have a few ideas forming and can't wait to get going. I think these competitions could become addictive!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Laundry Room Mission

Thankfully life is too short to match pairs of socks, well as far as I am concerned it is. Unfortunately, this seems to be the opinion of the four men in my life and the shelf in our laundry room is disappearing under a sea of socks which is added to each time the tumble dryer is emptied. It has become a Mexican stand off of sorts in our house. 

Call me lazy if you will, but I am perfectly happy with my solution - my fabric sock box/tidy. The men in the household can head to the same place to retrieve their socks but now they are kept tidily in one place instead of being strewn across the room.

This is my second project from the list of summer "to-dos". It is made from spare fabric so didn't cost anything extra to make and the label is embroidered on to a scrap of aida. It is both pretty and functional and I for one am feeling like a highly organised domestic goddess (sort of....). Happy Friday Everyone. xx

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Summer Challenge

It's no secret that I am addicted to fabric. I can't actually walk out of a fabric shop without a bag in hand with at least a couple of half metres of patterned fabric inside it. I have been trying to wean myself off fabric by not visiting too many fabric shops and avoiding looking online for the past couple of months.

Now that the Summer Holidays are here and I have a little more free time I have had to stare my addiction in the face by tidying my workroom. The result being that I have discovered so much spare fabric that I am really not sure what to do with it. Cottons, polycottons, and curtain fabric in a whole fabulous spectrum of colour and pattern have been sitting in plastic storage boxes large and small in my workroom - some of them for up to two years or more.

As a parent I am often setting my children challenges - these range from academic (finish a book or progress a level in maths), to keeping your room tidy for more than one day(!) So this summer I have set myself a personal challenge. I am sure you can hazard a guess at what it is - yes, to use up some (not all as I couldn't possibly empty those boxes within four weeks), and put that fabric to good use.

There are also many patterns I have wanted to try and ideas for projects that I have wanted to make that my Summer resolution is to complete as many as possible before I have to return to full time work at the end of August.

So here is my first Summer project - This Years Beach Bag. This beach hut fabric is adorable and I love seaside themed home decor, however, I always feel that it when it comes to interiors coastal themed fabric works better if you live near the coast. It's just a personal preference and I wouldn't necessarily choose to have seaside themed accessories or fabric around the home. That doesn't stop me loving it and the fabric works perfectly for this bag with the deck chair stripe cotton lining. I can't wait to use it for bathing costumes and beach towels when we hit the beach this year!

Now, to plan the next project....

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs - Our Wonderful Year!

So the summer hols have arrived at last. It has been a long half term and anyone with school age children knows just how frantic it can be towards the end of the school year. Along with sports days, swimming galas and parent assemblies there are also numerous parties to attend and teachers' gifts to make/buy.

At Hope & Gloria it is also time for us to reflect on the past twelve months and all of the brilliant things that the children have achieved in our sewing clubs.

A couple of weeks ago I did an assembly for children at a school where we are launching a new after school club in September. I wanted to illustrate what a school year looks like in our clubs. Children were invited to stand at the front and hold up our projects from September through to the end of the school year in July. The idea was to show them the variety of projects they can make and the skills they will learn throughout the course of the year. For me it was a bit of a trip down memory lane as it is so easy to be caught in the here and now and forget all that our fabulous sewing enthusiasts have achieved over the past 12 months.

So here is our review of the year. All of the Hope & Gloria Team have had a truly wonderful year and thoroughly enjoyed working with the lovely children in our school clubs and workshops. We can't show all of the projects that have been made but here is a selection. All of our club members should be very proud of everything they have done - you are brilliant and we look forward to seeing you in September. Until then, "Happy Summer!"