Welcome to The Gingerbread Bunny! I'm Sarah, a textile artist specialising in crochet and felt based in Wigan in the North-West of England.

On my blog, you can find my day-to-day craft adventures and tutorials.

You can find details of my work for sale and workshops on my website - www.thegingerbreadbunny.co.uk

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Just a quick post to wish you all a happy Halloween and to share some crafting. Not mine but Mr Bunny's! He has been busy carving his pumpkin and wanted me to share it with you all!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

All about applique

I am a little bit behind on my textile course updates!  (Ooops - sorry!)  Being half term, my class hasn't been on this week but I am looking forward to learning all about trapunto quilting tomorrow night.  So far we have covered rag rugging, applique (the subject of today's post) and embroidery and cross stitch.  I have to say that I am really enjoying the course and have learnt lots of new techniques, met some fabulous people and have been truly inspired.  One aspect of the course that I am finding really useful and fun is keeping my themed sketch book and I will definitley be applying this strategy to my crafting at home.  It is just such a great way to store ideas and inspiration.

So, on to applique!  Applique is the craft of sewing, or attaching, one piece of fabric to another. The word applique comes from the French, appliquer, which means to put on.  It is a technique which is believed to have been around since people could sew and quite possibly began as a way of patching holes up in clothing.  One of the earliest examples found was in Egypt depicting a ceremonial canopy.  Today applique is a very popular technique used to decorate all manner of items by adding shapes and pictures in contrasting fabrics to the base. 

We learnt the quick and easy way to applique using bondaweb and it is just fantastic!  In class I appliqued a very simple tree shape and it worked really well.  I have also made my bellydancer phone cases from felt, appliquing (is this a word?) the bellydancer onto the base cover.  I don't use bondaweb for these as the felt 'sticks' to itself and doesn't move around when sewing. 

My (very simple) applique tree

I really enjoyed applique and am planning on using this technique to make some Christmas cards for friends and family.  If you haven't given it a go, I really suggest you do!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Christmas Rag Wreath

Colonial Christmas Wreath courtesy of Wormwood_3 on Flickr

Christmas wreaths can be dated back to Roman times and traditionally are seen in Catholic churches during Advent, lighting candles to countdown the Sunday's to Christmas.  I have alwyas loved the wreaths that you see on peoples front doors, all bright and festive with pine cones and fir leaves, but have never been able to have one on my front door as it opens onto the road and I just know it wouldn't last 2 minutes! 

You may recall a few weeks ago I learnt how to rag rug in my night course.  The following week we all shared our work and one lady had created the most gorgeous rag wreath for Christmas.  I absolutley loved it and knew that I wanted to make one to hang in my house as a decoration so I asked her how she had made hers.

To make mine I have used the inside section of an embroidery hoop for my base ( which I bought this for £3.10 from Abakhan)  but you can use any circular base, even an old wire coat hanger bent into shape. 

I then cut my chosen fabric into strips the same length and width using pinking shears to create a pretty, unfrayed edge.  I had to test out a few strips to get the correct length first.  I used 3 different colours which match my Christmas tree and decorations.  The teal fabric is from a set of curtains I bought in a charity shop which have been in my fabric stash for ages, the purple is left over fabric from another project and the pink is from the skirt of my wedding dress! (I got married at Christmas so this is a really nice way to reuse it)

Next I tied the strips of fabric round the hoop, pushing them up next to each other tightly to get that really full effect.  I made sure all the knots where on the same side (the back) to get a really neat finish to the front.  This took me about an hour to do and I randomly grabbed strips rather than having a set pattern to it.

I chose to make a dangle for in the middle of my wreath although you don't really have to!  My dangle is a felt star with a shisha mirror in the middle and then beads stitched on to add a little bit of festive sparkle. 

My finished wreath
 I really enjoyed making the wreath and it is a quick, easy and really effective decoration for Christmas.  I can't wait to put my Christmas decorations up so that I can admire it!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Holiday Happenings!

Half term has arrived!  Hooray!  This half term has been really busy and I don't feel that, on the crafty front, I have managed to get much done so I have lots of crafting planned for this week to make up for it.  Today's post is going to be a quick catch up on what I've been making and what I have planned for the week ahead.

I am still (yes still!) working on my Grandad's knitted ribbed scarf for Christmas.  It is getting there and I am optimistic it will be finished in time (it's a good job I started it back in summer!)  Hopefully, I will get a few more Christmas pressies started this week as there are only 9 weeks to go!

On the topic of Christmas, this week will see the start of some fabulous Christmas card making, a rag rug style wreath for my door and the dreaded Christmas cake.  Last year's Christmas cake was something of a disaster and it ended up in the bin - I do not plan on repeating that this year - and I had to buy a pre-made one from the supermarket which I marzipanned and iced myself.  I'm going to try Delia's recipe this time round which I have heard is really good.
Since the craft fair, I have recieved lots of orders for my handmade goodies.  Last night I delivered two handmade hair accessories for two gorgeous dancers and this morning I completed 2 other orders for finderless mitts (my own design!), flower brooch and a flower pencil topper.  I am off to purchase some more wool, including some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, for some mitts and a hat later on this week.

This morning I started a crochet project for me!  I see many photos of the knitted baktus shawl and have always loved it so I googled crochet baktus shawl and found a pattern.  I am using a beautiful hand dyed yarn I bought from The Woolclip (there is a trip planned for Friday) as I only have 1 ball of the yarn.  The baktus is a great project for those one off hand dyed balls of yarn!  Not only is it a really simple pattern but it shows off the colours in the yarn beautifully. 

I am definitley keeping myself busy this week - keep popping back to see my finished items!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Diary of a Craft Fair Seller

Me and my stall.  I know the banner is a bit wonky but if I'd complained
I think Mr Bunny would have taken the scissors to it!

The day finally arrived today - my first every craft fair as a seller and not as a customer!  This fair has been in my diary since earlier on this year and, rather nicely, it was held at the primary school where I work meaning I knew lots of people and the atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed.  I have to be honest that yesterday I was worried that I would not sell anything but, you will be pleased to know, I sold many things and people even placed orders!

Preparing for the craft fair has been a long and time consuming task.  Making plenty of items to fill the stall, pricing up and preparing my table has taken up most of my spare time for the past month or so.  I had a really clear image in my mind of what I wanted my stall to look like and I was really pleased with it.  My table covering came from Abakhan, the banner was from Vistaprint (free!) and I decorated boxes and a picture stand to co-ordinate.  I am also one of those people who likes prices to be visible so I made sure everything had a price on or near it.  Knowing what and how much to make was tricky to but today has helped me to see the sorts of things that sell well and what to have plenty of in the future - I have come to the conclusion that I need a good range of prices and plenty of the lower priced items. 

This morning I arrived nice and early to set up.  Luckily Mr Bunny had volunteered (??) to help and so he tied the banner up whilst I did the pretty things.  I'm glad I left plenty of time to set up my stall as, despite setting it up on the dining table at home as a practise, it still took me a while to decide where things should go. 

The Cake Queen!  Sarah's cupcakes are delicious -
check her out on Facebook!

All in all the day was a success.  Being in a room with lots of creative people (and gorgeous cupcakes) and having the opportunioty to talk about my crafting was great. Listening to people comments and getting feedback on my items was great.  There where lots of positive points to take away and I am really looking forward to my next fair!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Rag Rugging

Textiles photo courtesy of jeni rodger via Flickr
This week I started an evening class.  I have been searching for an arty course at night school for ages and, at the start of September I was most excited to find that a local high school was offering a 10 week textiles course. Squeal!  So I enrolled and this week saw the start of the course (last week was all about the paperwork!)  Each week I plan to share what I have learnt and any work I produce.

As part of the course I have to choose a theme and keep a sketchbook to inspire my final project, which I have yet to decide on.  After much thought I have chosen trees as I just love them.

This week we learnt about the traditional British craft of rag rugging.  Rag rugging is the process of using strips of fabric, usually old clothes or oddments of fabric, to make a rug using a variety of techniques. 

In Victorian times rugs would be made from old clothing, usually out of necessity to reuse what they had.  These would move around the house until finally they had fallen to bits.  This is why there are very few examples of old rag rugs today although evidence has been found of rag rugs being made and used in Celtic and Viking homes.  It was in America, most recently, that rag rugging was recognised as an art form and now the techniques are used to create not only rugs but cushions and even jewellery. 

There are many different techniques used to rag rug, many being specific to certain parts of England, but generally these are either hooked and prodded.  The hooked technique uses a long strip of fabric and a hook, for example a crochet hook, to hook the fabric through the holes of your base fabric creating a lumpy, bobbly texture.  The prodded technique involves using much smaller pieces of fabric and then poking them through the holes, creating a shaggy texture to the rug.  In the north of England proddy tools where often made form an old dolly peg with one leg sharpened.

Pages from my sketch book.

I think rag rugs are beautiful and Kirsty's Homemade Home TV series inspired me to try out rag rugging using the proddy method.  However, I didn't really like the technique or the effect that I got when I tried it and so abandonded it.  Learning the hooky method has re-inspired me to get rag rugging again- I love it (probably because it is very similar to crochet!)  

My sample for my course is a very simple tree made using 4 different fabrics, to see what effects they would create, and using both the proddy and the hooky techniques.  I am really pleased with the final result. 

My rag rug tree

I am so pleased that I enrolled on the course and am enjoying it so much.  Next week is applique and I can't wait!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A great day out!

What a great day I have had! Given the impromptu heatwave we are currently having in the UK, me and Mr Bunny decided to make the most of it and have a day out to the Lake District. We love the Lakes and usually go to all the touristy places, like Windermere and Keswick, but today we decided to visit some places we haven't been to before, some of them very crafty indeed!

First stop was The Alpaca Centre at Penrith where we got to go and look at the alpacas and miniature donkeys. Next we took a gorgeous drive up to Caldbeck (more about that later). Our final stop, before a rather scenic drive home, was to the beautiful town of Cockermouth where there is a lovely little art shop and plenty of ethnic and handmade shops!

So, onto the main topic of today's post! The village of Caldbeck is north of the A66 between Penrith and Keswick. The drive, once you leave the motorway, is beautiful and the village has a couple of cute crafty type shops as well as a pub.

The main purpose of our visit to Caldbeck was to visit The Woolclip. I first became aware of them at Woolfest as they are the fantastic organisers and had a big presence there. It is a co-operative of women who have skills in knitting, crochet, spinning, felting and other textile crafts. You can find out more about them on their website www.woolclip.com

The shop is situated at Priests Mill, an old water mill, and it shares the building with a fabulous cafe, silversmith and collectables shop. The setting is gorgeous, right next to the river, and they have even yarn bombed the trees! Mr Bunny is now demanding a crocheted spiders web for the house!

The shop is amazing. The original mill features have been maintained and the it has a welcoming and friendly feel about it. You can buy ready made items, such as shawls and socks, as well as the materials to make your own. There is a great range of hand spun and dyed wool in all weights, tops for felting, hooks and needles (some handmade), buttons, drop spindles, books and all manner of other fripperies!

Obviously, I couldn't go all that way and leave empty handed! I bought some beautiful hand dyed kid mohair in purple and turquoise, some 'smidgens' of hand spun yarn and tops for felting, that may come in handy for my textiles course, and the pattern for the spiders web!

It really is a great place to visit. It has great quality items and promotes wool and the handmade. I love the way that like minded women have come together, supporting each other, to create something so wonderful and beautiful and that really does need to be supported!