How To…Make a Dahlia Cushion

Finished Dahlia pillow lifestyle photo

Dahlias were super popular this year, I noticed. And I can’t say I blame anyone who delighted in them on Instagram (I saw and posted a lot of Dahlia pictures this summer!). They truly are a wonderful flower with their gorgeous pompom heads and bright colours. As we move into autumn though, it’s nice to remember those beautiful blooms in a more muted and seasonal tone.

I’ve picked this mint colour to go with my bedroom makeover (the Mr is sanding as we speak, and I’ll be posting all about it as soon as it’s all done) You can pick any colour you like, of course; maybe you want to keep the summer colours going as we head through the colder months, maybe you want to bring a pop of colour to an otherwise plain room. No matter what your intentions, you’ll be sure to love this cute and easy little cushion.

Sewing supplies for Dahlia pillow

You will need:

          Quite a bit of felt. I bought 2m off a 180cm roll, which was too much. About half a metre will be adequate. 

          About half a metre of lightweight interfacing to stop the felt stretching

          Sewing thread

          A 9”/23cm zipper

          A 30cm diameter round cushion pad (I choose one filled with feathers because I love feather pillows, but you can go synthetic if you prefer)

 

First of all, you’ll need to cut out your circles to make those lovely petals. You can use a die cutting machine if you’ve got one, or draw around cookie cutters, or use a compass and pencil, but either way you’ll need to cut:

          38 x 3” circles

          10 x 2.5” circles

          10 1.75” circles

and cut each of those circles exactly in half to make all your petals. I made a paper pattern and then cut them out in twos

 Dahlia cushion front and petals

You’ll also need to cut out a 32cm (12.75”) circle of felt for the front. For the back, fold the front piece in half and add 2cm to the new straight edge and cut two.

To give the cushion that lovely depth, you’ll need to cut a gusset that is 96cm x 6cm.

Iron the interfacing onto the front, backs and gusset of your cushion and then, using a compass filled with either a dressmakers marker or tailor’s chalk, draw seven concentric circles at 26cm, 23 cm, 20cm, 17cm, 13cm, 9.5cm and 6cm. This will be where you put your petals.

Pin 16 of your largest semi-circles to the outer line. Overlapping them by about 2cm means you’ll get a good fit. Then use a sewing machine (or you can sew them by hand) stitch them in place using a 5mm seam allowance. Make sure you’ve managed to get all the petals and haven’t veered off.

Felt dahlia cushion how to

Use another 16 of those largest petals on the next line. This time, you’ll need to overlap them by an extra half centimetre to make sure they all fit. Make sure you align them like you would bricks though, with an overlap so you don’t just have rows of petals going into the centre. Pin and sew in place in the same way as before except use a 3mm seam allowance for this and the next ones (you can mark this on your sewing machine foot with a fine whiteboard marker or Sharpie.

Repeat a further three times on the next three lines using 16 for the first line, 14 for the fourth line and 13 for the last line (you’ll have one left over, which you don’t need). Again, overlap by an extra half centimetre each time and make sure you’re staggering the petals so it looks like a gorgeous flower.

Felt Dahlia cushion how to

Move on to the next size petals and pin 13 of these to the sixth marked circle, overlapping by around 4cm this time.

Onto the seventh circle and this time you’ll need seven of these medium semi circles, overlapping them by about 3cm.

The last bit is super fun – overlap the small semi circles by about a third in a line together and stitch them together using the half centimetre seam allowance again. Then coil it up on itself and you’ll have the centre of the flower. Secure it to itself with a few anchoring stitches and then hand stitch it to the middle of your cushion so it fills the gap. Ta-dah, the front of the cushion is finished. The hardest bit is over.

Felt dahlia cushion how toFelt Dahlia pillow close-up

Next, move on to the gusset (gusset is such a horrible word, don’t yout think?!). As this cushion is made of felt, it might distort and stretch as we sew the round circles to the straight edge, so to avoid too much of that, you need to stay stitch about a quarter of an inch from the edge down both long sides. Don’t make it any wider than this, or you’ll be able to see it after you’ve sewn your seams. Beginning and ending 1cm from each end, sew the two short sides together. In starting and finishing 1cm from the ends, you’ve saved yourself two notches – huzzah! You’ll now need to clip into the seam allowance to about the stay stitching, certainly no more than a 1cm or you’ll have holes in your gusset (see?! Such a horrible word!).

Then, pin your gusset to your front, easing the fabric as required to make sure you get a good, even fit. Don’t rush this bit, or the sewing as a good neat edge will really make a difference. When you sew this seam, use a 1cm seam allowance and just sew a few stitches at time before you adjust the material to make sure you’re still going even. Keep going all the way around the circle.

In to the final straight now!

Dahlia cushion felt

Pin the back pieces together along that straight edge. Baste on the machine, then go back and sew 4.5cm at each end of the seam and insert your zipper in between these two short seams.

REMEMBER TO OPEN THE ZIP ONCE IT’S IN! Otherwise, you’ll have a hell of a job getting the cushion back in the right way again.

Using the same method as before, sew the other clipped gusset edge to the back of the cushion and sew, nice and slowly, until it’s all attached and then pull the front of the cushion through the zipper. Push the cushion pad into the cushion and you are done my friend. One Dahlia cushion to see you through the winter. Beautiful.

E xx

What I Made…In August

Wow – August has been a busy and crafty month for me. I posted at the beginning of this month about why I’d been so quiet and uncreative recently. So the month of August has been full of making and I’ve loved every second.

Lion and Zebra Crochet Comforters

First up – these two cute comforters from Issue 69 of Mollie Makes. Designed by the excellent The Merino Mermaid, this lion and zebra duo will go brilliantly in the nursery when it’s all finished (and I can’t wait for that reveal!). They were so much fun to make – and it’s even more fun with projects like this when the Lovely Mister asks me what I’m doing and I say “making a zebra’s arm”. The look on his face is priceless!

Grey and Orange Fox Baby Clothes

Then I made this gorgeous mini baby layette in this foxy grey fabric I bought from my new favourite online fabric shop Maud’s Fabric Finds. The little leggings and the bib are a great design from H and Sammi of one of my favourite blogs Live It. Love It. Make It that featured in Mollie Makes and the romper and hat are from Green Bee Patterns. I’m so used to making adult sized things for myself that it was a bit of a shock sewing binding on those little neck lines.

Lions Baby clothes

I loved the patterns so much that I made a second set out of this equally gorgeous lion fabric from the same place as the foxes. It was so much quicker the second time round and I completed this layette in an afternoon.

Coconut and Raspberry Tart

It wasn’t all about the baby makes this month though. I was both inspired by and excited by the prospect of the return of The Great British Bake Off and I made these cute coconut and raspberry tarts that went down an absolute treat at work.

And finally, my big project: this Lions and Tigers and Bears blanket inspired by The Wizard of Oz. Here’s a little peak but I think he deserves his own blog post, which will be coming later this week.

Lions and Tigers and Bears Crochet blanket

So, what have I got planned for September? Well, I don’t think I’ll match the output from August but I have got some plans up my sleeve. I want to make a rug for the nursery but I’ve also got some excellent product designs in my head for my shop, which I’ll be starting on when my new computer arrives.

What did you make in August? And what are your plans for September?

 

Welcome Back Bake Off! Coconut and Raspberry Tarts

As summer time draws to a close, that can only mean one thing – BAKE OFF! And to celebrate the return of the BBC’s iconic baking show tonight, I’ve made these raspberry and coconut tarts. With the right amount of fruitiness and the creamy decadence of coconut, you can almost (almost!) forgive the weather for washing away most of summer. These are really easy to make so you can be sitting in the garden in a cardi and under a brolli, sipping a mojito and eating a summer tart in the rain in no time at all. This recipe also makes a tonne of cake, so you’ve got some to share with colleagues/friends/household pets without losing out yourself.

 

Raspberry and Coconut Tarts

Makes 24

1 pack Tesco Dessert Pastry mix

Tesco squeezy raspberry jam

100g butter

100g golden caster sugar (or just regular if you’ve not got golden)

2 large eggs

110g self-raising flour

100g desiccated coconut

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/190*C fan
  2. First of all, make the pastry according to the pack instructions (basically lobbing it in a bowl and mixing in 90ml of cold water. You honestly can’t mess it up)
  3. Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry. Use a pastry cutter or a glass to cut 24 rounds, re-rolling as necessary, and pop one in each hole of a shallow cupcake/patty tin. If you only have one tin, put the rest of the discs on a plate in a single layer and cover with clingfilm.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar
  5. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour each time and beat in
  6. Fold in the remaining flour and the desiccated coconut
  7. Squeezer about half a teaspoon of jam into the bottom of each of the pastry shells
  8. Top the jam with the cake mix. You can fill quite high as it’s quite a thick mixture but you’ll probably have a bit left over, so don’t worry about over-filling
  9. Put the tray in the middle of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 mins. When a skewer comes out clean, the tops are golden and firm and the pastry crisp, they’re done. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack
  10. If you’re re-using the cake tin, run it under the cold tap for a few seconds to cool it and then bake the second batch as above

2016-08-21 17.31.07

I ate mine (not all of them) with a nice cup of Rose Lemonade tea from Taylor’s of Harrogate. Not sure that raspberries and roses really go, but it was pretty tasty and nice and summery. Just what I needed as I looked out of the kitchen window at horizontal rain! I’ll be making these tarts again into the early autumn, and maybe longer, to remind me of summer holidays when the clouds and rain become too tedious. A good balance with the comfort food I love so much in winter!

 

What’s your favourite summer recipe?

YAY for Crochyay


Oh my god, I was so excited to see a new subscription box for crochet fans in Mollie Makes last month. I immediately signed up to the Crochyay website to know when the very first one would go on sale – there was no way I was missing out. I’m a big fan of craft subscription boxes and have had a few in the past (but format changes and an out of control craft stash meant I had to unsubscribe with a heavy heart) and I was really excited to see one that is craft specific.

The email saying they were on sale came through while I was on the bus to work. Terrified they’d sell out immediately, I did some very risky online shopping using 4G and promptly changing my PayPal password when I got to work! Totally worth it though.

All I had to do then was sit and wait for it to arrive. It actually arrived before I was expecting, and, as usual, I missed the parcel so had to go out in the rain to collect it on Saturday morning, thinking it was something else and boring. I almost squealed when I saw that beautiful black and white striped box!

Well, what was inside? Dear reader, DELIGHTS are what are inside.

 

 

I couldn’t believe just what was included – great quality yarns and hooks, quirky accessories and a beautiful booklet with instructions to make an icecream. There’s even a project bag! I’d definitely say this was worth the money – some craft subscription boxes I know of scrimp on quality of what they send, but not so from Crochyay boxes.

I can’t wait to get started on the projects and sign up for the subscription (probably with another PayPal password change!). If you want to join the queue (behind me of course!) you can do so here.

 

Taking A Step Back

At the beginning of this year, I desperately wanted to be a better blogger. I love blogging, and I love sharing creativity and I resolved to blog once a week. Well, dear reader, you may have noticed that I did not manage that. I talked about failure in a post back in January. I may not have managed to blog every week, but I certainly haven’t failed. And let me tell you why.

New baby

First of all, the reason for my writing absence. Very excitingly, come December, the Mr and I will have our own little rocker. Being pregnant is no picnic – I was never sick but some on going health problems were exacerbated and can’t be treated, I was blisteringly, cripplingly tired all of the time. My creativity evaporated, my mind elsewhere and foggy. I lost my confidence blogging and making. I didn’t read a single word of a magazine or book for weeks; no craft was picked up in the evening as I favoured curling up under a blanket and sleeping. All my energy – physical, mental, emotional and creative – was going inwards, growing (with the help of a LOT of meat!) our little wriggler. At 21 weeks pregnant and with 133 more days to go to due date, I’ve been making things for the baby and planning: planning our futures, our furniture, our finances, my life one big Gantt chart on Project Baby. But I’ve also been really able to take a step back and figure out what I want for my blog and my business. I thoroughly recommend Alyssa from Clarise Crafts who did my rebrand, which I think really suits my own style. I want to focus on the things that really matter to me:

  • Supporting small businesses
  • Sharing a passion for craft and making
  • Getting out and enjoying the world around me

So, whilst there will be the odd mention of babies, this isn’t turning into a mummy blog, but will continue to feature craft, creativity and all things pretty. I hope you’ll join me!

New Beginnings Quote

Terrarium Making with Moss & Clover

My Terrarium 1

Last week, I told you all about the cocktails I tried at the Birdhouse Tea Company in Sheffield. I mentioned that there was terrarium making too and, as a person who has killed many a supplement, this was what I was really there for.

IMG_2529

Succulents, I’ve always been told, are easy to look after and very hardy. “You can’t kill them” my mother squawed at me, “they’re so easy to keep alive” my friends told me. Yet my living room became a graveyard to these popular little plants and I was all for giving up hope of having a Pinterest worthy window ledge full of succulents in various shapes and colours and geometric terrariums on every end table. But Emma from Moss & Clover has restored my faith and told me what I have been doing wrong at the Birdhouse Tea Company Tea Cocktails and Tea Cup Terrarium class I went on recently. So, if you want to create a home full of green and pleasant desert plants, read on dear friend.

IMG_2527

 First of all, what I was doing wrong. Watering. I was watering too much, at the wrong times and in the wrong places. What a nit! Here are three rules for watering your succulents.

1.       Don’t water them from September to March

2.       Don’t get water on the leaves

3.       Only water them once a month until the soil is just moist and definitely don’t leave them standing in water or let the soil get sopping.

Succulents 1

 As desert dwellers (and largely without spikes – spikes belong to their popular cousins the cactus), succulents like it warm and they like it sunny. They also like to spend summer outside, so once all danger of frost has gone, you can send them on a little holiday to your garden where they will bask in any sunlight we get. If you want to keep them in a little corner of the house that isn’t very light, all is not lost – just make sure they get to go on a window ledge every now and again to get the sun on them. Or you can try ferns, which also don’t require much water (you spray them rather than water them) and don’t need much light as ground living forest folk shaded by canopies of trees.

IMG_2527

 So, feeling more confident about your abilities to keep a succulent alive for the years it’s meant to live? Me too! And here’s the tea cup terrarium I made, also easy-peasy lemon-squeezy – a centimetre of charcoal on the bottom, a centimetre of proper cactus compost (from the garden centre, inexpensive, and doesn’t go off so lasts ages), a couple of succulents (gently squeeze the roots and get rid of some of the compost there) placed on top, more cactus compost around it, a few stones (you can get proper terrarium ones or buy aquarium stones from pet shops), a bit of special moss and Bob’s your uncle, a tea cup terrarium. I used an Echiveria and a Senecio in mine, and there are some pictures below of other varieties so you can impress all your friends with your green-fingered knowledge.

My Terrarium 2

 I loved making this terrarium, and it’s fair to say I’m now obsessed with them. If you know someone who loves these teeny green gardens, here are some gifts I think they might like:

Ohnorachio makes these mini terrarium kits:

Picture courtesy of OhNoRachio
Picture courtesy of OhNoRachio

Kim makes these itty-bitty and super-cute terrarium necklaces and pin badges

Finest Imaginary

And there’s this lovely notebook from Emma Allard SmithEmma Allard

I’d love to see your Succulents and terrariums. Tag me in your Twitter and Instagram: @elm_rocks.

Tea Cocktails at Birdhouse Tea Company

Mirror 3On Wednesday night I made a short hop to Sheffield to enjoy an evening of tea cocktails and terrarium making at the Birdhouse Tea Company, based in the pretty suburb of Nether Edge. The aroma of tea as I walked in was lovely – it smelt kind of mulled and spicy but not at all over-powering, just really delicate. The shop is airy and light with wonderful displays of tea accoutrements and a snug adorned with Nikki McWilliams biscuit cushions (cos what’s a cup of tea without a biscuit, right?). The company is run by a mother daughter team and Becky and her mum were on hand to serve up cocktails and answer all our questions on tea (there were lots of questions about tea). Becky shared the recipes with us, and I’ve linked to each of the teas used that you can also buy online in the Birdhouse Tea Company shop.

Rhubarb Blini 1aThe first cocktail we had was a delectably pink rhubarb blini. This cocktail was quite sweet due to the sugar syrup used to make it, but was refreshing with the addition of prosecco. To make a rhubarb tea sugar syrup, all you need to do is brew a cup of Birdhouse Tea Company rhubarb tea and mix it one part tea with two parts sugar. You then heat this and reduce it down to about a third of its original volume and leave it to cool. Pop a bit in the bottom of a champagne flute, top up with Prosecco et voila, true Yorkshire awesomeness and perfect for a wedding.

Early Grey G&T a

Also great for the wedding season is the Earl Grey G&T. This was made by cold brewing the orangey flavoured Earl Grey with gin – just pop a couple of scoops of the loose leaf tea into some gin and leave it to steep. It gets better the longer you leave it, but a couple of hours will do it. You then strain it and use as you would your regular gin to make this refreshing summery drink. As the tea is cold brewed, it makes it taste a bit sweeter, which was perfect for me as I’m not usually a fan of Earl Grey.

Jasmine Cocktail a

Next out was a Jasmine Pearl cocktail. Jasmine Pearls are a mixture of jasmine, green tea and the purest and most indulgent form of tea – white tea. The botanicals are rolled together to make the most fragrant beads that make a really exotic tasting brew. Becky added the pearls to cold filtered water and, after steeping, mixed it with gin and elderflower cordial and served it in champagne flutes over ice.

Chai Rum and Coke a

Becky used a Chai tea to add a twist to the traditional dark rum and coke. The loose leaf Chai was added to the rum and the spices worked together to create a really deep, fragrant flavour. It was certainly one of my favourites!

Lapsang Old Fashioned 1a

I also really enjoyed the Lapsang Old Fashioned. I’m very partial to a whiskey, and this twist on the Old Fashioned – a sugar cube with orange bitters in the bottom of a glass, a wedge of orange or orange rind and a good measure of smoky whiskey – was gorgeous. Lapsang tea is also quite smoky in flavour and it really added to the peaty flavours of the whiskey. Definitely one for me to try at home!

Of course, cocktails don’t need to be alcoholic, and there are plenty of refreshing drinks to be made using these versatile teas without a drop of liquor passing your lips. One such drink to try was the Strawberry Lace lemonade. Made by adding ice cubes of rebrewed Strawberry Lace tea (you can rebrew the leaves after having a cuppa to make ice cubes in any flavour – great for cocktail making!) to regular lemonade and serving in a jug with ice, this drink had a really deep pink colour and was very tasty and sweet. Again, this would be great for a wedding and I think would prove very popular indeed with younger guests as well as the designated drivers.

After all those cocktails, we got to learn all about succulents and made our own tea cup terrariums, which I’ll be posting about very soon.

#StationeryLoversXmas – my parcel

Stationery Swap1At the back end of last year, I organised the #StationeryLoversXmas swap. You can read the introductory post here but today I thought I’d share with you the lovely goodies Hayley from Highway29 sent me.

Hayley is based in Canada having recently moved there from Wales. I really liked how the collection of the stationery she sent me was kind of themed to outdoors and wilderness. Because I’m about three, I do find poo and toilet humour funny. I think any adult who doesn’t is lying. So I was very excited by this scribble pad adorned with the emblematic moose of Canada. It’s made from moose crap! How cool is that?

Poo Paper

I also love the set of stickers, which have a real autumnal theme with lots of lovely phrases for scrapbooking and card marking. I was also sent some very useful blackboard stickers and some chalk for labelling things and I plan to use them when I have my craft area reorganisation hopefully very soon.

The greetings card is to be sent to my friend who is very shortly moving to Rome in Italy. Brilliantly, the Mr and I will be there in a couple of weeks so we’re planning a meet-up, which will be great.

My collection of washi tapes is ever growing and I really like how these two tapes match. They’ll be really good for some Easter cards I’m planning to send to my family this year.

IMG_1697

If you want to see what others got in the #StationeryLoversXmas, just search that hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Did you take part in any Secret Santas last year?

 

P.S. I promised a competition, and a competition you will have! I’m just trying to finalise the technicalities and then it will be live. Stay tuned!

 

Setting Goals & a Shaky Start

A person drawing and pointing at a Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action chalk illustration

I posted on New Year’s Day about resolutions. I hope you’re doing all right on your resolutions so far! I wanted to post a bit today about setting goals for yourself as I find that these can really help with keeping resolutions.

No matter what your goal, whether it’s to stop smoking or to learn to play the guitar, you need to plan and you need to give yourself measuring points. Having never had to give up smoking, I’m not really qualified to help there (but if you’re planning to, head here!) so let’s say your goal is to learn the guitar. So unless you’re a genius, there’s no point in saying you’ll be Mark Tremonti by the end of the year (and if you are a genius, I hate you) so start small. A more realistic goal is perhaps to learn a new chord a week and practise progressions between the ones you’ve learnt. And then of course you can practise different strumming rhythms and play your new chords to them. Before you know it, you’ll be able to play a whole song!

Goal Setting QuoteIt’s worth pointing out here that sharing goals is a great way to help you achieve them. I once worked a job where sharing your goals was career suicide – saying you wanted something meant some cretin with too much time on their hands would do everything they could to stop that happening. Hopefully, none of you work in a similar job (and if you do, perhaps your goal should be to find a new job!) and luckily for me, I now work in a much more healthy environment. So, a few months ago I happened to mention that I wanted to improve my maths and do more analytical work in my job with a view to becoming an actual analyst. I say ‘happened to mention’ – it really was just that, a chance chat at a conference with my boss who I rarely see in person as I’m in the satellite office. By the end of our very short conversation, she had introduced me to an analyst who agreed to meet me to discuss routes into the profession. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And whilst this is toe curlingly awkward sometimes, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without asking someone whose blog I read to be my business mentor (and who is now a friend); I also probably wouldn’t have made the move from London to Leeds.

And, even better, if people know about your goals, you’re accountable. And we all need that sometimes, don’t we? Ever told a colleague that you’re cutting back on biscuits only to be gagging for one at eleven? Yes? Well, that colleague may have gently reminded you that you were cutting down on sugar and that may have stopped you eating that biscuit. Telling someone you’re running a 5K race in July will make sacking off that run much more difficult, because then you’ve got to deal with other people knowing you’re not doing the race.

Goal Setting Make Things HappenIt’s also worth mentioning that it’s not the end of the world if you fall behind on goals. After three weeks of illness, I’m already behind with my goals for the new year. But, there’s still another 51 weeks of the year to go, so I’ve not failed yet! You need to look after yourself to succeed, and burning the candle at both ends leads to nothing but an early bed time.

If you’ve got a genuine reason, like you’ve hurt yourself or discover you don’t like playing guitar, that’s fine! But sometimes we all need a little help with keeping to our goals. So, let’s tell each other shall we, and help each other out. One of my goals is to learn Spanish and be able to have a simple conversation by June. Come on then; what are yours?

 

Happy New Year! Making Resolutions

Well, well, well. Happy New Year rockers! I hope you’re not suffering too much from the excesses of last night. As usual, I stayed in, put on my pyjamas and watched the telly, and went to bed around ten past midnight, once the fireworks had stopped and the last notes of Auld Lang Syne had been sung.

Consequently I’m feeling rather chipper this morning and my mind is full of all my resolutions. Now, before you stop reading and declare that resolutions are a waste of time, hear me out. We make resolutions every day – I’ll bet the first words out of your mouth this morning were a croaked and rancid ‘never again’ – but a new year is a great time to do something different and make a change. Resolutions should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Monitored. I think the most important aspects are that resolutions are Achievable and Realistic. We must accept that some things are beyond our control and that this is not failure. If you resolve to run a 10K in March but you injure your knee, you haven’t failed you just need a new SMART resolution. These are new year resolutions, so if you resolve to be better with money when you always spend what you’ve got, you need to start small. Resolve to take lunch to work for a week rather than buying it in; take £20 out of the cash machine for your night out and leave your cards at home; start small!

My resolutioaloh

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...