Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Bunny Dance

One of my favorite TV shows is 'So You Think You Can Dance' - I watch it entranced with a huge grin on my face. I, on the other hand, am no a dancer - I've been known to clear whole dance floors by lurching into scary Footloose types of body shaking after a few too many glasses of wine ... but lets not recount those moments.

Did you know that the bunnies in the Rachael Rabbit workshop like to dance? (but unfortunately they are not as delicate as dear Grace.) So after attending Vanessa's Tea Party - in their matching bunny print dresses - they have decided to burn off the yummy and beautiful cakes (yes they sampled all four!) with some dancing in the garden.

Though it is little known, bunnies are very good at maypole dancing ... cue the music ...
... it gets crowded weaving in and out ...
... someone looks like she is having fun flying around the maypole ...
... an aerial action shot ...
... coming to the end of the ribbons - doesn't the maypole look pretty!
Well done ladies - how about a line up for a big round of applause?
Well that wasn't quite the angle I was thinking of - but your tails are so wonderful and fluffy. (Why do bunny tails make me quite so happy?)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One big Blooper and other bits

I'm not a very competitive person - the fact that I really don't mind losing a race or a game of Monopoly or dominoes endlessly confuses my husband (of determined A-type personality). But I've finally found something I can win hands down ... the prize of 'biggest craft blooper'. I was reading Lucy Kate Craft's this morning and her post inspired me to share this wonderful and spectacular blooper with you.

The big blooper occurred during my second felting experiment (the first was a success) instead of just using the felting needles - for this process you needle your wool to shape and then massage very hot soapy water around the shape to shrink it further. The felt is stuffed and wrapped around a pipe cleaner skeleton. So here is Super Bunny waiting to be shrunk - he looks cute no? With great potential?
And so I added the water ... hot soapy water and I massaged and hoped ... and it all went horribly wrong.
I think I can safely say that I killed Super Bunny. Poor Super Bunny went for a little visit to the dustbin after he had stopped dripping everywhere. Did I win the prize of 'biggest craft blooper'? What is your worst crafting blooper?

I have signed up for Vanessa's tea party on Saturday. I have some new knitted bunnies in the workshop and they are currently bickering (loudly) over what dresses they want made for the occasion! Bunnies can be so bossy!
On a completely unrelated note - I recently found Wordle - have you played with this? I rather liked the word collage it produced for me. Quite apt for me don't you think!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Introducing the Cupcake Crew and a Cupcake Tutorial

I'm so happy we have such a great bunch of people in the cupcake and tea swap (I hope I haven't forgotten anyone!) ...
And now, as requested, a little Cupcake Tutorial:
What you need:
1 x 5 ½” circle of felt
1 x 6 ½” circle of soft white cotton or flannel or something similar
some beads and or other decorations
cotton and needle for sewing
Small amount of polyfil or alternative stuffing
Optional:
Some pretty cotton material (a bright small print is better)
Fabric glue – I like Aleene’s Original Tacky glue
  1. If you have chosen to use a cotton fabric print as the outside of your cupcake case - glue your circles of felt to the pretty cotton material – remember to use enough glue and make sure you spread the glue right to the edge of the felt. Put to the side to dry a little (don’t let it dry too long as this might make the felt too stiff to work with).
  2. Sew a loose stitch along the outside of your 6 1/2 “ circle of cotton or flannel (I actually used some material I still had left over from the fake pashmina from Hong Kong.) Pull your thread to gather the edges of the circle ...... then stuff and sew shut. If you want to add a cherry to the top of your cupcake do this now – I tied a messy knot using red yarn.
  3. Once your glue is dry-ish cut out your felt circle OR you can use a brightly colored plain felt. Mark on the inside of the circle about ½ inch down a dot 16 times. Run a stitch through each dot.
  4. Pull your thread gathering the felt circle – do this slowly and encourage the felt to fold as you go.
  5. Pop your stuffed circle inside your wavy cupcake case and tie off the cupcake case thread. Adjust the cupcake case to make the folds even. I found that the end of a knitting needle was helpful here – but a chopstick or something similar would also work.
  6. Secure your cupcake to the cupcake cup using small stitches on the inside of the cupcake case.
  7. Now all there is left to do is decorate your cupcake with a selection of sparkles or anything you fancy. You might also want to run a thread from the top to the bottom to make sure your cake does not bulge too much ...… but the decoration and tweaking is all personal taste.
Now I have to go and make my cupcake themed goodie for the swap ... and no more talk of cupcakes for a while (unless I eat one and it is so good I have to share the sugary news with you!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cupcake and Tea Crafts

I have been rather obsessed with cupcake and tea thoughts over the weekend and I am very excited that people are signing up for the Cupcake and Tea Swap!

I am in the process of trying to create a cotton rabbit pattern that is simple (clean lines) and easy to make - sweet to look at is a desired factor too! Here is version 1 (I'm now working on version 3 - the ears sit up much more now.) I would love to hear your thoughts on what could be improved, changed, tweaked etc ... but for the purpose of the cupcake and tea theme - this little bunny has baked a cupcake for you.
Talking of cupcakes - I recently purchased Warm Fuzzies by Betz White and learnt how to make her adorable cupcakes. The book is rather delicious - although my only frustration is that the needed supply of adorable, soft and beautifully colored wool jumpers is rather on the short side in my little work room.
Due to the lack of desired supplies I set about making my own cupcakes ... with scrap material, a circle of felt and the odd bead or two - I'm still refining the pattern for this (they are so easy and quick to make) but I quite like the folded cupcake cup.
I also got over excited and made a teapot cosy too - which is odd - as I do not drink tea and do not own a tea pot ... but I felt the urge and Bernie obliged.
We are due thunderstorms all day today - which is great for the sunflowers - but it feels like a 'stay inside and knit' day today ... knitted cupcakes perhaps?

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Tooth Fairy and Tagged

I made a Tooth Fairy Pillowcase (as dreamed about in my Pillowcase Tutorial.) I really love it - it is crisp, white and simple. It was really difficult to get a photograph to show just how sweet it is. There is a little pocket - disguised as a letter to the Tooth Fairy - so you have somewhere to put the baby tooth and somewhere she can leave her gift. As a child I got 20p piece for each tooth - what did you get??
And I used gold and silver thread for all the applique - so she shimmers a little ...
... but I based her on the most famous of all the fairies - Tinkerbell - I hope this wasn't cheating too much.

I've also been tagged by Julie of Little Cotton Rabbits and Dyan of Flower Childe Cottage so here I go ... I hope I'm not too dull!

What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was working in London as a secretary for a bank. My husband was actually my boss - and it all sounds a bit of a naughty office romance - and no one believes us that nothing happened until I had actually left that job. I still giggle at how it all worked out. We have now been together since 2001 and now married for 3+ years.

Five Things on My To-Do List for today:
1. Weed the vegetable patch.
2. Practice the piano more - I'm a lazy student.
3. Try and focus on rabbit crafts rather than getting distracted by my new love of pillowcases.
4. Write more. Write anything ...
5. Spend more time with my husband - which is impossible because he is always at work!

Snacks I Enjoy:
An apple that has been icy chilled by the fridge. (In my tummy now!)
Cheese - any sort - but if it is with fig jam - all the better.
Peanut M&M’s - I hide the wrappers from my husband ;-)
Kashi Go Lean Honey & Almond Crunchy cereal with yogurt - yum.
Is Diet Coke a food group? I do hope so!

Things I Would Do if I Were a Billionaire:
Adopt a rescue donkey (I really want a pet donkey as well as a rabbit)
Set up a charitable trust
Maybe buy one pair of very expensive shoes
Buy a Fiat 500 ... preferably with a sunroof and bright yellow.

Places I have Lived:
Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire (UK) and New York (US)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrate with me with Cupcakes and Tea?

This idea was inspired by Kathy of Lizzie Jane who said it was a shame we couldn't get together for cupcakes and tea.

1 year ago today I left full time employment to concentrate on my love of making things. I have absolutely no regrets and now practically no income but I don't think I could ever go back to working in an office again. My biggest thank you has to go to my husband who has supported me (quite literally as well as emotionally) but I also want to really thank anyone who has ever left a comment on my blog or sent me a lovely e-mail. The support and encouragement has meant more to me than words can express.

I think it is a pity (and really amazing) that we (in the crafting blog-o-sphere) are so spread out across the world - and that distance prevents us from getting together on occasion for a yummy cupcake and tea. I can't imagine the amount of cooing and aahing we would do over each others work - the endless conversations about the latest 'it' craft technique - the ideas we would come up with - not to mention the support and encouragement!

So to celebrate my anniversary I am inviting you to join me for a 'Cupcakes and Tea' swap. If you would like to join in please send me an email to rachael@rachaelrabbit.com with the following information;
1. name
2. email address
3. postal address
4. website/blog details (if you have one)
5. favorite color
Sign up by June 20th, and I will send you your swap partners information by the following Monday. Your cupcake themed craft item will need to be made and sent (with your favorite type of tea) by Friday 25th July, so that gives you over a month of crafting time. Please make your cupcake goody out of anything BUT food! Here are some ideas from flickr ....
1. Felt Cupcake Ornament, 2. Holiday Swirl Cupcake Ornaments, 3. felt club: cupcake from sew darn cute, 4. felt cupcake, 5. felt cupcake birthday card/pin, 6. Glass Cupcake Earrings, 7. cupcake, 8. Handpainted CupcakePlaque, 9. Scatoline #1, 10. cupcake pins, 11. petit four pin cushion, 12. cakes, 13. Cupcake Pillow (front), 14. Chocolate, Ms. Darcy's Knitted Cupcakes, 15. Strawberry Swirl Cupcake, 16. Birthday Cupcake - knitted

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tutorial: Simple Pillowcase

When my sister was here I was telling her that I had lots of material but I had a 'creative block' - and I wasn't sure what to do with it all - or what to make next. She suggested I should be ruthless with my fabric and get rid of anything I knew I was never going to use. I haven't done that yet (I'm still in 'must not waste a scrap' mode) but today I did visit my favorite fabric store in the city to get some inspiration and once there it was hard not to be naughty.
While I was there I spotted this very happy looking lady.
I know my sister loves cows - but really - what to make with such a gaudy green? I was stumped. So I asked for help and a pillow case was suggested ... fantastic! The pillowcase will make a great accessory for my sister's cow themed "pasture bedtime" PJ's AND it can remain hidden from public life so that people are not blinded by that lime green! (The City Quilter actually had a free pattern for a pillowcase - but I must be super dumb as I didn't fully understand it - so here is my own and I don't mean to post so many 'lessons' but I wanted to share how super quick this was.)

Tutorial: Simple Pillowcase (measures 20" x 31")
All you need is - 1 piece of fabric (40 1/2" x 35 3/4") and cotton for sewing.
Use 1/4" seams.

1) Along one of the 40 1/2" edges press a 1/2" fold. Then fold over another 4" press and pin.
2) Sew long the 4" fold - I made two straight lines here. The wrong side looks like this ...
- and the right side looks like this.
But I think you could do almost anything here - add a decorative stitch, ric rac, ribbon ..... endless possibilities!
3) Fold your material in half (wrong side out - your material should now measure 31 1/4" x 20 1/4") and sew shut. Reinforce the seam with an overlock stitch.
4) Turn right side out and press.

And that is it - in less than 30 mins a pillowcase! A personalized pillowcase filled with love (if a bit lime green). But who will test it's performance?
This little man thinks it is comfy enough so off to the post office it goes. I just can't wait to make more now ... so easy ... so simple and I think (if made in a pair and in a different fabric of course) they would make a fabulous housewarming gift. I'm also thinking an applique tooth fairy themed pillowcase would be super cute for little ones too ... my sister has obviously given me far too many ideas ... the creative block might be officially over for now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Short (and Fluffy) Tale of Courage

What is that furry ball of fluff in the tree? It seems to be shaking with fear ....
Me: What is the matter furry one?

Fluff Ball: I am scared of the world and unsure of myself.

Me: Well the world can be a scary place sometimes but you shouldn't let that hold you back. You should be out playing in the garden rather than hiding up a tree. Why are you unsure of yourself?

Fluff Ball: I am not sure if I am a strange rabbit as I have large feet - or a teddy bear because I am so soft and cuddly - or a lion because of my soft chocolate mane.
Me: Well I don't think you are a rabbit because you don't have a big fluffy tail or big ears. And I don't think you are a teddy bear because you have a soft chocolate mane. So you must be a very fluffy and cuddly lion.

Fluffy Lion: I don't feel like a lion at all - I still feel rather scared.

At which point I ran to the sewing machine to make a present for this rather nervous lion and I told him about a young girl called Dorothy who also met a rather scared and cuddly lion and she took him to a special place where he found courage. The lion knew that he had found courage because he was given a shiny medal!

Me: Would you like this medal of courage? Perhaps it will make you feel braver? and then you can enjoy the garden rather than hiding in a tree.
Fluffy Lion: Thank you - that is so kind. Oh look at the medal - how it sits on my soft furry chest. I feel very special and very brave.
So the brave (and very furry) lion lounged in the garden (rather than hiding in a tree) letting out the odd soft and happy growl.
I vow never to use 'fun fur' again ;-) (Although he is far cuter than the pictures convey ... so never say never!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tutorial: Potato Printing

This post was supposed to be 'Crafting with Sister #3' but my husband came up with the better offer of kayaking on the lake - so I was left to play with potatoes by myself!

I can't remember how or when I learnt to print with potatoes ... but it is something I have loved doing since I was tiny - I've made pictures, wrapping paper, cards ... and now I am going to attempt to make bunny themed goodies with some items I have ordered from Dharma Trading (discovered via Angry Chicken).

I used to draw on the potato with a pen and then cut around the shape - the shape was never perfect so I thought I would try and make a potato stamp using cookie cutters. So grab a potato and come print with me ....

1) Find a large potato and cut it into large chunks.
2) Sort through your cookie cutters and find a small one that will fit on your potato. Push the cookie cutter well into the potato.
3) Pull the cookie cutter out and carefully cut away the potato around the shape - the cookie cutter will have made a very clean cut which will make it easier.
4) Practice your printing .... get a scrap piece of cloth, fabric paints and a flat plate (or a flat surface you can put paint on.) Experiment with different amounts of paint, colors, shapes and patterns until you perfect your potato stamping technique!
Your potatoes might dry out overnight - but the wonderful thing about using the cookie cutter for the shape is that you can remake the potato stamp to the exact size - the potatoes are also great for your compost heap! Now I'm just waiting for my package from Dharma Trading so I can get going and create something wonderful (or awful) ... I'm still battling with my frustrating fluffy lump to make that 'wonderful' too!

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