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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Conscious gift giving

I have a couple of birthday’s coming up in June and I like to get gifts that go further. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and last year discovered the Woodland Trust will plant a tree for almost any occasion. You can then visit your tree and enjoy the tranquil woodland surroundings (take a look here: link) Your recipient will receive a certificate with your own personal message on and a map to their tree.

This year I still have good causes in mind but with the added benefit of supporting small businesses. Below are some of my discoveries to suit all budgets.

I know many people who would love to receive a hand-picked beauty bundle and when I came across LanglochBotanics I was pleased to see that many of their products are vegan-friendly. Not only that, the business is a social enterprise and products are made by volunteers who have experienced hardship in their lives and are gaining work experience and training. Lanloch Farm is pesticide-free and ingredients are all natural, with herbs grown and processed on the farm.

I’ve got my eye on the bitter orange & lemon lip balm and the rosemary & mint soap. There are 5 soaps so choose from and 6 lip balms. I can imagine getting a soap and a lip balm and putting it in a little kraft paper bag as an eco-friendly gift for someone special.

Price range: £3-£3.50

Visit LanglochBotanics here: link

 

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Lemon balm & calendula soap

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My next pick supports the charity ‘Made With Hope’ which supports children living in poverty in Tanzania. I’m a hippy at heart so this bracelet from AkelaRose Jewellery with the combo of vibrant turquoise and peace charm really appealed to me. As someone with a slim frame I often find bracelets too big for me and end up having to reassemble them smaller. The great thing about this item is that it can be made to a size of your choice for no extra cost. Choose from XS all the way through to XXL.

Price range: £15

Visit AkelaRose Jewellery here: link

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I thought the idea behind this next jewellery collection was really clever. The ‘Share a Hug’ creations by Posh Totty Designs are unique and would make a really thoughtful gift for a special woman in your life. £5 from the sale of the adjustable ring gets donated to ‘Women for Women International’ and 100% of profits from the personalised gold necklace. Various quality materials are available.

Price range: £27-£450

You can visit Posh Totty Designs here: link

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I’m a self confessed stationery addict and compulsive list-writer, so I had to include this next item from Paper High. These albums are made using recycled paper and sari material and can be used as a photo album, sketchbook, or notebook. I can imagine filling this with photos of good memories and giving it to a close family member of friend. The paper is made from cotton left over from the huge garment industry in India by a charity that supports women’s education ad social standing in rural Rajasthan villages.

Price range: £26.95

You can visit Paper High here: link

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If like me you have some birthdays coming up why not consider getting a gift with extra impact? My three go-to places online for handmade, unique gifts are etsy, folksy, and Not on the high street. It’s also worth checking whether your favourite charities have online shops. WWF, BornFree and The National Trust all have a variety of new items that help fund their work.

 

 

Monthly tutorial: Halloween treat bag

Halloween is coming up so this month I’ll be showing you how to sew your own mini drawstring treat bag. As my blog followers will know I’m a huge fan of recycling/upcycling material (take a look at my eco wear: link) so when I was given a stash of random bits of material I was keen to get stuck in and get sewing again. I hand-sew all my items as I like the control and the feeling that i’m really engaging with what I’m doing. I also feel that hand sewing can be therapeutic due to the repetitive motion and concentration it requires but this bag can be done using a sewing machine if you don’t have much time. Some materials are easier to work with than others. Generally speaking thinner cotton fabric is quite easy to work with. The spiderweb material I used had a lycra-esque quality to it which made it difficult to work with, for this tutorial I recommend sticking to non stretchy fabrics.

You will need:

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♦ A cutting mat (optional but useful!)

♦ Fabric scissors

♦ Fabric marker/pencil

♦ Pins

♦ Sewing needle

♦ Cotton thread (in colours matching your material)

♦ A piece of material measuring at least 32 x 18 cm

♦ A piece of contrasting material measuring at least 32 x 8cm

♦ 2 pieces of ribbon approx. 32cm

Step 1

You’re going to need to cut out two pieces of material for the main part of your treat bag. Using a fabric marker/pencil, mark out two rectangles measuring 16 x 18 cm and cut out.

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Step 2

For your casing you’ll need to cut out two rectangles measuring 16 x 8cm.

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Step 3

To give a neat edge, fold shorter ends of your casing over 1cm and pin in place before sewing. I used basic backstitch.

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Step 4

Pin your larger pieces of fabric together around three edges (2 long edges,1 short) with the wrong sides facing. Sew with 1cm seam allowance and turn the right way.

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Step 5

Take your casing pieces and fold in half so you can see the neat side of your stitching. At this point if you have time it’s good to press your pieces with an iron but as I had limited time I skipped this step. It just makes your material more well behaved and neat. Pin your folded pieces to the top of your bag (raw edges at the top)

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Step 6

It’s up to you how far down you wanht to sew, the further down you sew the less of the contrasting material you’ll be able to see and bear in mind you’ll need to be able to get your ribbon through. As I had a gap at the top of my material where the spiderweb pattern stopped I chose to sew quite low down, just above half way but anything 1cm or over is fine (providing you can fit your ribbon through).

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Step 7

Turn your casing in. This is also a good time to press your material to keep your joins/edges crisp. Please remember that some fabrics can only be pressed at a very low heat though! Stretchy fabrics can actually melt. If you’re using cotton as recommended this isn’t a problem.

Step 8

Attach a safety pin to the end of your ribbon and feed it through the gap you’ve made with the casing.

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And there you have it, your own unique Halloween treat bag! This pattern is so versatile, it can be used for any occasion, including Christmas and birthdays. You can alter the sizes to make a smaller or larger bag and is a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Monthly tutorial: Scrap daffodil brooch

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Here in Cymru we’re celebrating Saint David’s Day, so as promised I’m bringing you a special Saint David’s Day tutorial. Today I’m going to show you how to make a unique daffodil brooch, using just scraps of fabric and a brooch back.

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  • Yellow/orange/green fabric scraps
  • Matching cotton
  • A small sewing needle
  • A brooch back (You can find these in Hobbycraft, independent craft shops and on Amazon)
  • Fabric scissors

If using thin fabric:

  • Iron-on interfacing (available in craft/sewing shops and online)
  • Iron on adhesive (Therm-o-web, fuse-a-web etc, again available in craft/sewing shops and online)

method

 

 

 

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Start by drawing out your templates. The template for the centre of your daffodil (the spiky part) should be around double the width of the bottom of your petal template, as shown in the diagram. The good thing about this project is that you don’t have to obsess too much about measurements. The template for the centre of my daffodil was approx. 7.5cm width and 6cm in height. My petals were approx. 3.5cm in width with a peak of around 5.5cm. The leaf can bee free-hand.

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Cut your template pieces out.

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With pencil or fabric marker/chalk draw around each template and cut the shapes out. You will need to cut 10 petals, 4 leaves, and 2 centres.

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If you’re using a very ‘sturdy’ material which will hold shape well (such as felt sheets) you can skip this and the next step. If you’re using up your cotton scraps as I am, you’ll need to draw around your templates and cut out the same amount as in the previous step. Interfacing will make your fabric much more sturdy. Be sure to read the pack, as some interfacing is sew-on.

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Draw around your templates and cut out 2 leaves, 1 centre, 5 petals, and follow the instructions on the iron-on adhesive pack to stick all your pieces together, until you’re left with 5 complete petals, 2 leaves, and one centre. Don’t worry too much about precision, as we’ll be trimming the uneven edges before moving on to the next step. (NB: be very careful not to melt iron-on adhesive on to your iron! – I learnt the hard way a few years ago)

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Once you’ve trimmed any uneven edges, bring the two sides on the base of the petal together, one slightly overlapping the other, to form a slight trumpet shape.

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Sew a few little stitches to secure. Do this for all of your petals.

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Now for the centre of your daffodil. Slightly over-lap one side, and secure with a pin. Use matching cotton to sew along the edge.

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Once you’ve got you tube shape, pinch the bottom part of the tube together and secure with a few stitches.

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Now we need to attach the petals to the centre. This can be a bit tricky, so I recommend using the shortest needle you can, and allow yourself more cotton than you actually need, just to allow you some ‘manoeuvre’ space. You’re just putting  a few stitches through your petal and centre, up along the line where you’ve stitched your petal sides together.

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Repeat the above step until all of your petals are attached.

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Now our flower is complete, it’s time to work on the leaves. Just to get the leaves in the position you want, put a simple cross stitch in the centre of your crossed-over leaves.

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Take your brooch back and attach it securely to your leaves.

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Attach your flower to your leaves. You can use this step to make your brooch back even more stable; sew carefully through the centre of your daffodil, going in and out of the brooch holes each time.

 

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