Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Print your own tote bag

Hi all! Laura here, with a little tutorial for you all...

For a while now, its seemed like tote bags are all the rage. Every time I walk around town I spy one with a quirky illustration or bold slogan. For something, at its essence, so simple, creating one of my own has always felt a little beyond my abilities. After all, not many people have screenprinting facilities at their disposal!

All is not lost however, as Ive discovered a nifty little technique which achieves the same result, but with a fraction of the kit – and Im about to share it with you all today. Lets get started shall we?
You will need:

• A plain canvas tote bag
• Fabric paint in a contrasting colour to your bag (Ive used a beige bag with black paint here, but a black bag with white paint would look fantastic!)
• A computer and a printer
• A scalpel and cutting mat
• An ironing board and iron
• A sponge or paint brush

And the secret ingredient?

• Freezer Paper – you can pick this up at large hobby stores (though our US friends can buy it easily with their groceries)

1. First off you need to pick your image. Id advise choosing something that wont be too complicate to cut out. I chose an ampersand (bit of an obsession of mine – Im a bit of a typography geek!). If you, like me, choose a letter, dont worry about any areas within your image you dont want to print – this isnt like stenciling, these can easily accommodated, fear not!

2. Once you have your image, measure your bag and print out a version that sits nicely within this size. For your average tote bag, something roughly A4 size is perfect. Make sure your image is a nice high contrast one, youll be tracing it later so youll need to be able to see it clearly.

3. Next, place your printed version on the cutting mat underneath an equally sized piece of freezer paper (with the waxed side facing down). Use your print out as a template to cut out your image from the freezer paper with the scalpel.

4.  Right! Thats the fiddly bit over with. Now its time to position your freezer paper template where you want it on your bag. Then, with your iron on a non-steam setting, press the paper onto the fabric. Youll notice that its sticking to your bag – go over all the edge to make sure there are no bits left unstuck. If there are any bits within your image that you want to block out (like the inner loops of my ampersand), you can iron them on separately now.

5. All stuck? Time to paint! It goes without saying that at this stage, you need to be pretty careful as any fabric paint that gets on your clothing is staying put! Take your sponge and dab on the paint evenly till all the areas within the template are covered. If youre using a dark colour, I sometimes find it helpful to put a bit of card or wood in the bag to stop any excess paint bleeding through to the other side.

6. Now we play the waiting game. If youre impatient like me, you can speed things up a little bit with a hairdryer though.

7. Once your paint is completely dry, unpick an edge of your template and start to peel your template away. Your beautifully customised tote bag is all ready!

And its that easy! I created mine in less than an hour – near-instant craft satisfaction. Why not run up a batch as presents or personalise them with family members initials? The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Craft Hunting in Berlin

Hi all,

A few short weeks ago I took the boy to Berlin for his birthday. It was a bit of a big one ('30') and I had spent a long time trying to figure out what might be his perfect holiday location with the following things I know and love about my boy: weird food, good beer, meat, Lego, action, zombies, comfy beds... you get the picture. Anywho, Berlin catered pretty well for all of these, and after a few flights to get there (sadly no longer flying direct from Newcastle!) we arrived and had an awesome 3 nights and 4 days there!

Berlin is a fantastic city, and the week before Christmas it was cold but beautiful, lit up with lots of Christmassy lights and hot gluhwein! Not an alterior motive, just taking advantage of our time in Berlin, we did a little bit of crafty shopping. I say 'we', he very generously allowed me to go have a little wander around the local area looking for a wool shop I'd seen mentioned in a magazine. 

So, finally getting to the point of today's blog post, to help out anyone else who is looking for some crafting fun times on a trip to Berlin. This is by no means everything, just what we managed to find! We were staying at the fantastical Michelberger Hotel, on the East side of Berlin, near the East Side Gallery - very much recommended for all who enjoy a good ol' hipster hotel!

These were my three favourite little places we found:

  1.  Fabric shop on Simon Dach Strasse, nearest Metro Warschauer St. 
This was an awesome little shop - only very small but crammed with lovely patterned fabric of the kind I never see in craft shops near me, but am convinced would be incredibly popular! Lots of sweet animals and various different crazy images. There were also some lovely English speaking staff who had a long chat with me about how difficult it is to find good fabric containing images of dancing pink sparkly rabbits... Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. The shop was fairly small so no inside photos, but scroll down to see some of the lovely fabric I got, especially love the polar bears!

Shop front

2. Wollen, nearest metro Warschauer St.

This is the place I had read about and had gone to find when found the fabric shop, and many other fun things in between. It was pretty awesome, with a lovely range of wool in vibrant colours, which is what I always struggle to find. Very cool little shop, they also seem to run knitting classes, although being there such a short time and with a birthday boy, not really the order of the day. Bought some beautiful extra fine merino wool to make in to a very special gift for a very special friend. Not to be revealed for another 5 and a bit months...

Loved the tree!

Difficult to see here but there was a wool wrapped cord on the light, very  hip.
3. Bead shop Tukadu, nearest Metro was Hackescher Markt.

We found this place while following a trip advisor walking tour of graffiti and public art starting in Hackesher Markt via the trip advisor app - it worked very well and we saw some things I'd never seen before, and took us to the best gallery we have been to in ages!

Anyway, the bead shop was all kinds of awesome, again the kind of place I would love to live round the corner from. Everything arranged by colour, lots of different kinds of beads, sizes and styles so we were more than a bit overwhelmed. I ended up buying some blue and gold beads, inspired by how they were layed out in the shop and looking fantastic. The only thing that was a bit lacking was chains to make your jewellery with, and the woman running the place wasn't that helpful, but I still had lots of fun!

My little haul, the only thing that I bought that hasn't yet been 'actioned', anad is sitting beside me  now!
There you go, I've been fairly restrained with pictures, as we had many, many, many photos of the rest of the holiday, and so here are a sneaky two crafty related pictures before I say goodbye!




Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Granny Crochet Blanket

Hi all,

It's been a little while since my last post; Christmas, birthdays, holidays and weddings all crammed in to a short three week period! Anywho, I was just posting some images to my Mum about my upcoming wedding, and realised I hadn't put anything up on here about the blanket I made my Mum for Christmas.

Last year, when just beginning to crochet I made a blanket for my sister. I'd told my Mum I'd started crocheting and she'd found it quite funny, quite 70's! But then she seemed to regret that when Claire got something not her! So this year, after several fairly big hints I started on this one.
Wool basket, full of wool!

This is my favourite blanket I've ever made, very sad to see it go - BUT I know it has gone to a good home and will be appreciated. Sadly no photos of it in it's new home, but I'll try update when I get some!

Ta da! All done, and below all packed ready to be wrapped :) One day, after this wedding business is all over i think I might make me one!

Love Ali

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