Advent Challenge: Day 23 – Gatefold Poinsettias

Day 23: Gatefold Poinsettias

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In the blog post I wrote about the craft fair at the NEC that I went to, I mentioned a lovely paper flower punch and embosser kit that I bought there. You create the flower shape with the punch, then put the flower into the embosser, squish it down, and when you take it out it’s shaped and embossed beautifully. This card was made using that little kit. I’m particularly pleased with the flower centres – once again, I’m glad I never throw away my leftover bits of cross-stitch thread!

To make this card:

  • Punch 6 light red and 6 dark red flowers, and emboss each one.
  • Thread a needle with 6 strands of yellow cross-stitch thread. Tie all the strands into a knot about 1/2 cm from the end. Don’t worry if they’re not all the same length as you can trim them.
  • Use the needle to punch a hole through the centre of a light red flower first, then a dark red one. Pull the thread so that the knot lies at the front of the flower.
  • Cut the threads at about 1/2 cm  behind the flower and use a small strip of double sided tape to secure it.
  • Repeat this for each flower.
  • Once you have 6 flowers, attach them to the front of a small gatefold card using the double sided tape that is also securing the thread. Mount three in the bottom left corner, and three in the top right.
  • Cut two squares of pearlescent card, a dark red one to fit within the gap between the flowers, and a light red one just slightly smaller. Attach together with double sided tape.
  • Again with double sided tape, attach the red square to the left ‘gate’ of the card so that it is central and overlaps the right ‘gate’.
  • Finally, place a gold greeting peel-off in the centre of the red square to finish.

This sounds quite a complicated card to make, but as long as you have the punch & embosser it’s actually very straightforward. It’s also a great one to do whilst watching telly or – *gasp* – conversing with your husband ( 😉 ) as punching and embossing the flowers takes minimal attention, and you can easily get carried away and make loads.

A – Z challenge: X is for…

X is for X-stitch. Okay, I know I’m cheating a bit, but let’s face it, we’re limited here!

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I’ve already posted bits and pieces about cross stitch in my ‘L is for…’ post. But I thought I’d introduce you to how I got started cross stitching. It actually pre-dates my card making by a good five years. In 2000 I was living in New Zealand, and visited a place in Kerikeri called Kemp House. It’s the oldest wooden structure in New Zealand and was built in 1822, at a time when many ladies did embroidery, and made samplers. I saw a cross stitch sampler bookmark kit for sale, and thought it would be fun to have a go at. Being a kit, it came with everything I needed to create the bookmark: the Aida band, coloured threads, needle, pattern, and instructions.

I found it very relaxing to do, and it was lovely to watch the design take shape. As I knew nothing about cross stitch before picking this kit up, there are a few mistakes in it. One of the key things when trying to keep your cross stitch looking neat and tidy is to always have the upper stitch of the cross going in the same direction. This is a lot easier to do when doing a long run of one colour as you can do a line of top-left-to-bottom-right stitches, then go back over with all the top-right-to-bottom-left ones. This also helps to keep the back of the cross stitch neat too.

Of course, once I’d finished the design I was given I still wanted to do more, so I ended up stitching my own name near the bottom too. I’m never one just to follow instructions to the letter!

Since completing this bookmark (which as you can see has been very well used!) I have done several other cross stitches, although almost always from a kit. I’ve made the odd thing using patterns from magazines, but I always find it tricky getting the right colours. Most cross stitch thread colours are numbered, and as I’m a cheapskate I refuse to buy the specific colour I need, preferring to make do with what I have in stock. This is fine if the colours contrast, but if you need to use three different shades of brown for example, it can get awkward!

Since my crazy rush completing my parents Christmas present last year, I haven’t done another big cross stitch project. However, I love doing them, and have found some great (and cheap!) little kits in Hobbycraft that start from about 99p and are perfect for Christmas or birthday cards. They can be completed in a day or two (or a week or two, depending on your level of commitment!), and look very sweet. I’m currently doing one for my mother-in-laws birthday. Which reminds me, as her birthday is in a few days, I’d best get it back out again!

A – Z challenge: L is for…

L is for labour of love.

I am a great one for ‘projects’. I am less of a one for ‘creating a realistic timescale’. As a result, I do tend to panic at the last minute, and end up rushing. Sometimes this doesn’t have any repercussions, more often it does. The Christmas before last I gave myself a cross-stitch project, to make for my parents for Christmas. I bought the kit in plenty of time (it may even have been the previous April), and started out with great intentions. I began the cross stitch early, and was happy with my progress. Then, for some reason, I stopped doing it. Knowing me, I probably found something else new and shiny to play with, and did that instead. So the cross-stitch got left. And left. And then suddenly it was mid-November, and with no other present options in place for my parents, I decided I had to get on with it. As I had so little time left I had to devote my entire attention to it. I took it everywhere with me, doing a few rows at any opportunity – at lunch time at work, at soft play with my son, at home in the evening. It was getting very close to the deadline, but I was finally doing the border around the edge, the last stretch as it were. As I neared the end of the fourth side, I started to realise that the pattern wasn’t going to match up. I checked back and discovered that early on in that side of the border I’d made a mistake. An annoying simple one – I’d just done a single stitch instead of a double one. I was left trying to decide what to do – unpick about 2 hours work and redo it, or just make up the extra stitch at the end. I confess that in the end I decided to leave the mistake in. I just couldn’t face unpicking all that work, especially when I was so close to the end. However, had I have had more time, I would probably have made sure it was perfect (although having had more time I probably wouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place either). In the end I think I had a day or two spare before I had to get it wrapped. Oh yes, and I also had to source and purchase a frame for it too, and those last days were spent in a flurry of ironing it, straightening it, and swearing at it when it wouldn’t go in the frame level.

In the end, the mistake didn’t matter. Neither my parents, my aunt, uncle or cousins could spot it, even when I told them where it was.

Usually I’d put a picture of the final result here, but it’s at my parents house, proudly displayed on their wall (good job too, the amount of effort I put into it!), and that’s 200 miles away. So instead, I’ll leave you with another cross-stitch labour of love that I did, my first in fact. Another kit, this one without a deadline, and so was completed calmly and correctly!

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UPDATE! my dad has kindly emailled me a picture of the cross-stitch I did for him and mum. Tell me if you can spot the mistake!

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The beginning

Well, I have a blog. Although I have told my friends I don’t have time for one, they seem to think I do. So here I am.
With this blog, I’m hoping to share some of my craft projects, tips and techniques, and show you my finished products too.
My main love is paper-craft. I make handmade cards, I scrapbook, and I have recently started making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). I enjoy cross-stitch too, so you may get to see some of that!
I will try to keep this blog to all things crafty, but if you want to get to know the non-craft side of me, please follow me on Twitter: @catrad. I’m sure there’s a way of creating a proper link there, but I have no technical ability whatsoever, so that can wait for another day.
Please leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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