Friday 13 May 2016

Pipsqueaks... I've never 'felt' like this before....

I received 'Pipsqueaks: Itsy-Bitsy Felt Creations to Stitch and Love' by Sally Dixon at Christmas. It was a book I had been looking into buying as I'd hoped it would help my hand stitching skills. I have enjoyed working with felt before as it does not fray, it is easy to sew and it gives a lovely finish. 16 years ago I was making felt puppets designed by a friend for a school project, I made baubles a few years ago for Christmas cards and I have used it for basic applique, but what I still hadn't done was make anything 3D and I hoped this book would help.

I instantly made a list of things to make and then found Sally as one of the designers to follow when I joined Twitter. I was very excited when she said she was looking for bloggers to join her blog tour and even more excited when I was accepted. I am very lucky to be on a list of such lovely blogs and to be able to offer a copy of Pipsqueaks as a *competition prize*. Details of the other blogs on the tour and the competition can be found below. I did receive a review copy of the ebook for taking part and would like to thank CT Publishing for providing the competition prize as well.

The other benefit of being part of the tour is that I got to talk to the lovely Sally Dixon who told me all about her Shetland connections. Her Great Great Grandparents lived in Yell and her Great Grandad was Daniel Mouat, born in Aywick, Yell, before moving to Australia (via the Glasgow police force). I have not found my connection yet but I am pretty sure I could despite the 130 year gap. Aywick has today found its place on the Shetland map for being the best stocked rural shop in Shetland - and they sell sewing supplies too! Thanks to this information I have named my little mouse "Danny O' Yell".

Danny was created especially for this post as I feel the tour deserved something a little different.... I had a lot of fun doing it and learned a lot. I have to thank my lovely patient husband for helping me set up the lighting and teaching me about the settings on my two year old camera - he also introduced me to the free Monkeyjam software to make the magic happen.

Danny O' Yell Stop Motion Mouse

The mouse was one of the more complicated projects with a surprising number of pieces - I didn't help myself either as I put it together in a slightly different order to make a better video (Sorry Sally...). I adore the whiskers and that fantastic little jacket is an inspired way to add arms without creating complicated and potentially messy joins. The shape of the head is also very clever. I think I made his arms a bit long (again working with the video) but his namesake Daniel was known for weight lifting in Glasgow so I will just pretend it is intentional - felt does stretch after all.

My first project from the book were these the elephants - I just made the biggest size for three little girls in their favourite colours. I think the beauty of the patterns is that they have so much detail despite their size. I love the little hearts on the back and the use of some patterned cotton to make the ears. The gusset inserted in the underside allows them to stand and gave me my first fully 3D felt project. I did not have any ribbon small enough so I finger crocheted some co-ordinating embroidery thread for the tails which worked well as it gave a little tassel at the end. They went down very well and I got requests for more.

Three Elephants For Three Little Ladies

As the book was a gift from my Mum I decided to make her something out of it. For reasons I am not entirely sure of I decided it was a great idea to make the Duck billed platypus for her Mother's Day card. It was fun and different and probably not what she expected (although after years of my crafting creations she is hard to shock!) The design for the platypus is inspired and the way the feet are inserted is very clever. I did not make the sleeping bag for this one but I am sure I will in the future.

Duck Billed Platypus

I had gained the confidence to experiment a little and add to the designs. My niece loves dogs so I decided to make her the two brooches out of the book. I then decided to add my own little Scotty dog design using the same process. Again the detail makes it, as I had not considered using little hearts to cover my badge backs. I love the expressions that form as you sew a face - it is always as much of a surprise to me as it is to the recipient. It made a really fun card and I hope that my niece has found places for all of the brooches. I will attempt a husky next (watch this space!).

Dachshund brooch
Scottie Dog Brooch
Bull Terrier Brooch

I couldn't resist making some of the earrings, as the smallest projects in the book it seemed like a challenge I should embrace and I love them. They are so much fun and have a lot of detail - I sat for most of an evening beading and embroidering pips, criss-cross waffle patterns and ice cream sauce. If I am honest I had to re-do a waffle cone and cut another strawberry top but with pieces so small it really doesn't matter. I spent the following evening at the craft group I go to entertaining the lovely ladies with my tiny projects. They are fun, colourful and hopefully popular accessories - my only regret is that I haven't get round to making myself a pair yet.

Utterly Pipsqueaks earings

The book is beautifully laid out, it has detailed information on felt selection and technique and an array of wonderful little projects. They do not take a long time to make and can be done in an evening with a big mug of tea (optional). They can take quite a bit of concentration but that is all part of the fun. The steps have clear photos and well written instructions. Each project has different challenges from gusset insertion to cutting tiny pieces which adds to the variety in the book. It is a fantastic way to explore hand sewing as it takes very little investment. Even if you did not have a well stocked craft room, or even a craft room at all (!?), then a multi pack of felt, thread and beads with a sharp pair of scissors would get you quite far. If I was using this book for an older child I would be tempted to enlarge the patterns slightly as suggested.

Here are the scheduled blog stops for the tour:

11 th May 2016: C&T Publishing (Concord, California, U.S.A.)

11 th May 2016: We Bloom Here - Margaret Bloom (San Francisco Bay, California, U.S.A.)

12 th May 2016: My Handmade Adventure - Karen Wasson (Melbourne, Australia)

13 th May 2016: 60 Degrees of Inspiration - Joanne Riley (Shetland Isles, Scotland, UK):

14 th May 2016: Buttonsy - Anna Day (London, England, UK)

15 th May 2016: Madeit (Lennox Head, Australia)

16 th May 2016: Sally Dixon Creations - Sally Dixon (Adelaide, Australia)

To enter the competition just leave me a comment on this blog post and a winner will be selected at random on the 23rd May 2016. You can enter on each stop of the blog tour so it is worth visiting all of the other blogs too. If you are in America you will receive a paper copy of the book, if you live elsewhere then it will be an e-book.

Happy stitching