The fastest way to make yourself some room in a crowded tourist spot in London is to do something a bit weird. I suggest making cloth dolls in public. Works a treat.
A while ago I asked you to challenge me to make cloth dolls in public/slash weird places. And Helen who shares her work on her blog Dollz and Thingz asked me to make dolls at 84 Charing Cross Road. At the time it seemed like a pretty random address to me, but it turns out there is a book of the same name.
And a movie starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.
Here is what Wikipedia had to say about 84 Charing Cross Road:
84 Charing Cross Road is a 1970 book by Helene Hanff, later made into a stage play, television play and film, about the twenty-year correspondence between her and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers located at the eponymous address in London, England.
Hanff, in search of obscure classics and British literature titles she had been unable to find in New York City, noticed an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature and first contacted the shop in 1949, and it fell to Doel to fulfill her requests. In time, a long-distance friendship evolved, not only between the two, but between Hanff and other staff members as well, with an exchange of Christmas packages, birthday gifts, and food parcels to compensate for post-World War II food shortages in England. Their letters included discussions about topics as diverse as the sermons of John Donne, how to make Yorkshire Pudding, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the coronation of Elizabeth II.
Hanff postponed visiting her English friends until too late; Doel died in December 1968 from peritonitis from a burst appendix, and the bookshop eventually closed. Hanff did finally visit Charing Cross Road and the empty but still standing shop in the summer of 1971, a trip recorded in her 1973 book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. A circular brass plaque on the building that now stands on the shop's former site acknowledges the story.
So I made my way to the site, stood in front of the plaque and made dolls. I had a whack of doll heads to baste together, so I did it at 84 Charing Cross Road. It didn't faze the passing Londoners one bit, but we may have scared off some tourists.
From here we made our way through Trafalgar Square and cut through Horse Guards Parade. It was outside Winston Churchill's War Rooms where we spotted a celebrity. Hint: He is American and stars in a hit hour long comedy show. He is a "big" celebrity. Any guesses?
Thanks to Helen for this original idea for a bout of Extreme Doll Making. I've got several more Extreme Doll Making locations to reveal, but in the meantime, does anyone else have any suggestions? Leave a comment and suggest a location or activity for me to do while making dolls and I'll link to your blog in the post.
While there are a plethora of lampshade makeover tutorials, I decided to focus this week's Freebie Friday round-up of lamp tutorials on really innovative lamp creations. Check out some of these amazing tutorials. As always, just click the link to read the tutorial.
Martha Stewart featured this truly innovative acorn lamp tutorial Hint: it involves a balloon.
Tutto Bella created a DIY photo lantern tutorial.
Craft Bang Boom shared a tutorial to make a lamp from old photographic slides.
Or similarly use old cassette tapes to make a lamp, as shared by Heather on Dollar Store Crafts.
If you like that square lamp look than check out this square lamp tutorial written by an Instructables user using recycled materials.
If you are feeling more spherical than square, check out this lamp tutorial written by Jenni on Craft Tutorials - it uses cocktail umbrellas!
Kate Pruitt wrote a tutorial featured on Design Sponge that turned a regular hanger and an item of clothing into a lamp - check out the Droog-style lamp tutorial.
Also on Design Sponge, Brenna shared a tutorial to make a paper letter lamp. Very cool.
If you want the space saving of a wall mounted lamp, check out this super cheap DIY pom-pom lamp tutorial from Ruffles and Stuff.
Paper, Plate and Plane featured a tutorial on making a heart wall lamp.
Turn a book into a bedside reading lamp with the below video and this tutorial featured on Grathio Labs:
If you fancy designing your own lamp, you must read these helpful tips from Heather at Dollar Store Crafts where she explains how to use a clip light kit.
Of course, if you are like me, primarily a cloth doll maker, you may want to make a doll that is a lamp. One pattern that I personally have and love, both for its simplicity and its ingenious design is Julie McCullogh's Firefly Lamp Doll. The pattern isn't free but you can see it here: Magic Threads Patterns - MT - Firefly Lights - PATTERN ONLY.
Feeling inspired - go on, light up your life!
There are so many great warm weather inspired tutorials out there at the minute. Here are a few:
Fill your drawers with the scent of lavender by stitching up these strawberry sachets with a tutorial from Country Living.
Mrs. Priss shares a tutorial to make decorative felt pinwheels that are ever so cute.
Destri at the Motherhuddle shared a simple but fabulous flip-flop make-over tutorial.
Simple Simon & Co. shares a fab tutorial to make camp stools for kids out of PVC pipe and canvas. Genius!
Readymade has a truly green idea for making a summer seat - sprout your own, by making a grass sofa in your garden.
If you want to craft out in the sun, then try this sun print pillow tutorial from Martha Stewart.
If the summer is all about the beach for you then check out this Beachcomber Bag tutorial from Two Little Hooligans.
Ellie at Bustle and Sew gives you a free pattern to make a Beside the Seaside applique.
Kyla from Funky Polkadot Giraffe was featured recently on Tatertots and Jello where she shared a beach poncho tutorial suitable for your little surfers and sea urchins.
If the summer means travelling to you, then check out this travel organiser tutorial from My Patchwork.
Suzanne at Just Another Hang Up shared a tutorial to make an adorable bunting adorned make-up bag.
To organise your summer road trips this travel car caddy tutorial from Sew4Home is just the thing.
So wherever your summer takes you, you can craft the perfect season in style.
You can certainly tell it is wedding season here in Britain. Every weekend, wedding guests can be seen walking around London in their wedding finest - summery dresses, teetering heels and fascinators abound. After the Royal wedding, even North Americans seem to have caught the British fascination with fascinators, so I thought I'd share a few tutorials to help you make a fascinator yourself.
Disney Family Fun shared this tutorial to make a fascinator.
Mary Janes and Galoshes shares a wedding perfect feather and tulle fascinator tutorial.
Nicole Smith at Craft Stylish shared a tutorial to make a feather headband style fascinator.
Make a zipper rose fascinator hat with Cut out and Keep user Outsapop Trashion.
Corvus Tristis shared a tutorial to make a floral and feather fascinator.
Linda Permann wrote this tutorial at Craft Stylish on making a very sweet floral headpiece.
Michaels featured this feather and flower headband tutorial.
Shayla Fish shared this feather fascinator tutorial.
This felt flower headband tutorial by British blogger Laura of Bugs and Fishes by Lupin would be more suitable for everyday wear.
Interestingly, most of the fascinator tutorials I found were designed by Americans and so were slightly more conservative than the styles we see and wear here in Britain, but this DIY fascinator tutorial from the Guardian has a slightly more British feel to it. Slightly quirky. If you want to see just how quirky hats and fascinators can get, check out this slideshow from Lady's Day at Ascot. Millinery madness, my friends.
Threadbanger shares a video tutorial below to make a feathered headpiece:
So if you have an event coming up where you can rock the fascinator look, why not make it yourself?
I've started to play a little game. I like to work on my cloth dolls in public places. An activity which is particularly fun in London. Londoners do notice that weird things are going on around them, but they try desperately to pretend that they don't. I once saw a man wearing only a t-shirt and white Y-front underwear with thick black lines painted onto his calves walk boldly down a London street and everyone made like he was just another commuter on his way to work. "Nothing strange here", said everyone's body language.
Once when I was taking a course with Patti Culea at Rainbow Silks in Great Missenden I ended up stuffing my doll on the train journey from London to Great Missenden. One man kept peering over his newspaper to try and make out what I was doing. Eventually, I took one of the doll's little hands and waved at him. He dived behind his paper, never to be seen from again. I love messing with the uninitiated.
So I was trying to think of an unlikely place to make cloth dolls. Somewhere that is the antithesis of making cloth dolls.
I ended up making a cloth doll at an England rugby game at Twickenham Stadium. Hard men and soft dolls - yup, nothing more opposite than that.
For the record, England lost. But my cloth doll is done. Score on that one.
Here's what we'll do, you suggest a weird place for me to make cloth dolls and so long as it isn't illegal, indecent or going to threaten my safety or that of others, I'm up for it. So don't ask me to make cloth dolls while tightrope walking outside the front door of Number 10 Downing Street while naked, cause I'm not doing it.
But if there is somewhere in London you've always wanted to go, leave me a comment and I'll go there and take a picture of me making a doll. Or maybe you just want to see if I'll stuff a doll head in the middle of the produce section of a supermarket.
Go on dare me.
I have been looking at the store bought pillows on my sofa (I know, I know, I need to rectify that) and have been thinking that they need an update. I have been in love with Betz White's tutorial to make these cosy pillows from repurposed jumpers (sweaters in North America), but they seem a bit too warm and toasty for summer, so I went on a hunt for summery pillow tutorials and look what I found.
Make a Mod Peacock Pillow with this tutorial from Positively Splendid as featured on Tatertots and Jello.
Amy at Positively Splendid also shares this fabulously summery pillow tutorial for cushions "freshly squeezed".
Sew4Home shares a tutorial to make these very girlie pillows in a wee and large size.
Make It Lovely shares a tutorial to make a sand and sea pillow, inspired by the beach.
Martha Stewart featured a tutorial that uses sea shells to print fabric for pillows.
If you'd just as soon spend your summer lying back on the grass and counting clouds instead of beach combing, these cotton and minky cloud pillows featured on Sew4Home could be just perfect for you.
Martha Stewart featured this tutorial that gives you a taster of traditional Hawaiin quilting with this summery floral quilted pillow.
Little Birdie Secrets featured this tutorial from ICandy Handmade to make a bright multi colour ruched pillow that just screams summer to me.
Cluck, Cluck Sew has a great tutorial for these sprocket pillows - these are more than just your basic square pillows and oh so fresh.
If you are too hip to be square, try making these triangle pillows with a tutorial from Sew4Home. These have that boho summer chic thing going on, I think.
Get your doodle on with this doodled pillow tutorial created by Alisa Burke as featured on Sew Mama Sew.
The Swell Life has an amazing tutorial to make these typeset pillows using die-cut letters as stencils to dye the most funky pillows that would make great throw cushions year-round.
If you want more summer sewing ideas, check out Sew Sunny Homestyle . Tone Finnanger brings her usual flare for simplicity and style to this collection of projects that include a lovely footstool pillow, throw cushions, softies, dolls, hand bags and home accessories. There are seaside, garden and lavender inspired projects. This book is one of the more jam-packed of Tone Finnanger's books and is worth having on your book shelf even if all you do is drool all over it: