[D.I.Y. Tutorial] Making felt swirl brooches

MbM_DIY-Tutorial_Jan_1-webWell folks, as my new years resolution, I’ve told myself that I would be extra organised with my blogposts on here and to do so I will be scheduling weekly and monthly posts in the hope that they are easier to accomplish even when things get a little too manic on the work/life front. After doing quite a bit of festive crafting last year, I think it prompted me to raise the game a bit and start getting more done….especially when it’s the one thing that keeps me sane! So, my first 2014 mission is to provide you with weekly DIY inspiration in the form of tutorials and it will take place every Wednesdays as a kind of ‘mid-week refresher’ so that it gives us all the spur of creativity we need! The intention is that all of the tutorials are my own but if I do have that odd week were for whatever reason I am unable to deliver, then I will see that I find you inspiration from other fellow crafters I admire. Sounds like a plan…..or is it more a challenge? Hmm ;)

Anyhoo, these felt brooches are super easy to make and I started making them after finding some leftover scraps of felt from when I made the Notebook Sleeve as a Christmas gift for my father-in-law. Rather than chucking them away, I decided they could be turned into something…..and the results were far better than expected where you end up with some pretty nifty (and professional looking) brooches! So, here’s what you will need:

Materials:

  • Crafting felt – you can buy these from any craft stores and even online
  • Scissors / Stanley knife – to cut out the strips of felt
  • Glue – any good crafting glue that works on fabric or better yet, glue gun for extra strength!
  • Brooch pins – preferably with a flat backing bit to it so that it stays on more rigidly.

MbM_DIY-Tutorial_Jan_2-web

Instructions:

  1. Cut out 1cm width strips of felt from your chosen colours and then roll each strip tightly into these little swirls. You can dictate how big you want them from how much of the felt you use up. I made an assorted bunch of sizes so when it came to making the smaller ones, I just cut the strip to my desired length. This can be done prior to rolling or while rolling. to secure the end of the strip, use any good craft glue for fabric or glue gun. I used the latter which gives a much sturdier finish.
  2. Once you’ve made up all the swirls, roughly place them next to each other to configure your desired pattern, or just play it by ear as you are gluing them together. Again, use the glue to fasten it all together in place – just be sure to do this part neatly as you wouldn’t want any strands of glue visible on the ‘good side’ i.e. the side that will be exposed. To ensure that the back of the felt swirls is nice and flat, use the worktop as guidance but obviously make sure you don’t leave it there for it to get stuck to the surface! The glue gun would be perfect here as it helps reinforce the joints a lot better and dries a lot quicker as long as you apply a thin coat without burning yourself! Leave it to cool and set for a couple of mins.
  3. Once your felt swirls have cooled and set, place it on another scrap piece of felt, slightly bigger than your design and with the ‘good side’ facing up. This will become your backing piece onto which the brooch clip will be fastened to and it acts as another piece of reinforcement! Try to use a subtle colour for this piece or one that was predominately used in your swirls so that it blends in and discreet – you don’t want it to distract from the main swirly pieces. Now, to get the exact shape to fit your design, trace around the design with any kind of pen (one that wont leak into the material)
  4. Then cut out the backing piece and stick it onto the reverse side of your felt swirls using your glue. Press down onto it gently but firmly so that the it sits flush with the edges of the swirls. Again, try to be neat when doing this so that you keep the brooch from any unwanted signs of dried glue because felt does show this and it doesn’t look pretty! Once dry, take the brooch pin (with the flat backing to it) and add a dollop of glue onto it before fastening it firmly onto the back of the felt piece. Do check that you are happy with the pin alignment before you fix it to the back i.e. its the right way round so that when you wear your brooch it sits correctly.

Et Voila! You have you’re very own bespoke brooch ready to wear! It took me about 20-30mins to make this brooch up and really pleased with how well it turned out for such a simple method so there’s nothing stopping you making your own little version. And what I love about this technique is that the designs are endless….you can create headpieces, pendants, earrings, and any kind of embellishment really. So go dig out some felt and try this DIY project out! And if you give it a go, then I would LOVE to see what you come up with so please do post a photo of your final piece on my Facebook Page and tagging it with #craftingwithmolu  – that way I can have a nosey and perhaps even pick out a favourite for a little surprise treat? Now if that aint an incentive to get you crafting then I don’t know what is! ;)

Happy crafting folks!!! And do remember to share your images!!! x x

MbM_DIY-Tutorial_Jan_7-web  [Image Credit: ©Made by Molu]

Brooch beautiful!

For those who don’t know me as well, I have a huge love for brooches (well, any form of jewellery really!) which is probably on par with my love for shoes and bags! Anyway, in this case, these are regarded more like collectibles; some presented as gifts, others are heirlooms, vintage finds or bought from designer-makers who I’ve come across over the recent years. As you can see below, it’s quite an eclectic mix (and these are just a selected few from my growing collection!) that I’d sport depending on my mood or the type of occasion. I think if my paternal grandmother was around to see this, she’d be quite pleased to know I take after her! :) She loved brooches and I guess that’s probably where I’ve got it from! I must try and dig some more up as there are some lovely vintage ones that are worth sharing!BROOCHES_1-WEBBROOCHES_2-WEBThis is one of the most cherished brooches which my husband bought from me before we got married and I wore it as my something ‘old’ for our wedding. And coincidentally it went beautifully with my Indian outfit! This is a 1960s brooch which he bought from Rhinestones Jewellers in Dublin – now here’s one store I could totally lose myself for hours!!

[Behind the scenes] And Smile

_IHC4219e-WEB

This month’s featured illustrator and designer is the lovely Viktorija of And Smile – if you haven’t come across her work before then you’re bound to have on here via my post on We Make London’s first Camden market or on my Facebook page , Twitter or Instagram! She’s the remarkable talent behind those cute and whimsical illustrative brooches, earrings and greeting cards…..and as you’ve probably guessed right – I’m a huge fan of her goodies (I think I have like 7 pieces already!) which you’ll find on my blazers and coats depending on my mood ;) My most recent purchase was Mr. Jacques who I bought to wear out to Paris in August ;) Anyway, a few weeks after my first order through her Etsy store, I had the delightful chance of meeting her at the Camden Markets. We had a good ol’ natter that afternoon in the miserably cold weather and soon became buddies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Anyway, here’s what she has to say:

1. Hello!! Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? My name is Viktorija and I was born and bred in Latvia. I’ve always loved to draw and make things with my hands so when I had to choose a career path I decided to study Illustration and came to UK to do that. I fell in love with the country and after graduating from uni I moved to the fabulous city of London! I never thought of becoming a designer-maker, it just happened naturally, somehow.

2. How did you come about setting up And Smile? And what is the story behind the name? One of my friends was setting up a pop-up shop of up-cycled furniture and handmade home wares in Hampstead Heath and asked if he could sell some of my prints. I was incredibly happy and very inspired from that which led me to update my little Etsy shop (that had been empty for couple of years!). After the prints I added some postcards, and after that came brooches and found myself unable to stop making and listing things on there. I was thinking long and hard (words don’t come easy to me) about the name and finally came up with And Smile – it’s pretty much is what it says on the tin! I would love people to smile when they see, wear and use my little goodies!

3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? I think (or I would like to think) that these five words are: cute, quirky, fun, (a little) weird and happy.

4. I absolutely adore your work having bought a few goodies already (yep, I’m a die-hard fan!) What’s the main source of inspiration for your illustrations? Thank you! So glad to know you like the goodies! My main source of inspiration would be imaginary friends, little animals dressed up in tweed jackets, the amazing city of London where you can find everything and anything you want to know, see, hear, feel or taste! _IHC4163e-WEB _IHC4184e-WEB

5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? usually have a vague idea of want I want to create and then I live with it for a while. It slowly grows and develops in my head and then I try to put it into sketches and see where it takes me from there! Whether the item becomes a new brooch or a series of postcards (or something else) I decide along the way.

6. How long would one your products take from inception to completion? It’s a really hard question. Sometimes I’m really slow and it would take me couple of months to nurture the idea and find the right way to produce it and then other times I could create it in couple of days! Or I have an overload of ideas and I would do all in couple of hours from coming up with an idea to executing it! AndSmile_QuoteWEB

7. Is there any craft/art medium besides illustrations that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? I would love to know more about different printing methods (like wood print, letterpress and screen printing). I did some basic screen printing and lino cuts but I am fascinated by traditional methods and would love to try them at some point.

8. You seem to be doing extremely well with orders coming in 24/7 in what is a booming craft and design industry! Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? Haha, you are very kind to say so. I think my brooches and cards were lucky enough to find new owners and I’m extremely happy about it! It is competitive world but every single designer-maker is doing something unique and different and by offering more choice we (craft and design industry) are more likely to attract people with different tastes. I really hope it works that way and we can change the world (in a long perspective of course!). …..And I didn’t answer your question (oops). As to breaking in into this competitive world, I am not too sure whether I broke into it but I see it more of a journey of hard work, dedication and creativity.

_IHC6278e-WEB

9. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? Three tips would be: Enjoy what you do, make sure you take time off and be nice to people!

10. What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? I enjoy all parts of it, creating, packing, selling. But of course I love when people get back to me saying that they love the product (I especially love the photos they send!). I enjoy working on personal commissions be it a portrait, print, brooch or designing wedding invitations. I am always on a look for exciting things to draw/make and try. It’s something I run on the side but pretty much 9-22! I’m very bad at taking time off or knowing when to stop working (I do procrastinate as well, don’t worry!). Recently I quit my part-time day job (with no back up plan) and from beginning of July it will be my full-time business, along with illustration. So I will be available for commissions and collaborations.

11. Of your current range of work, what piece would you pick out as your favourite? It’s hard to say as all my creations are equal to me but if I have to choose it would be Mr. Jacques and Frida brooches, I wear them the most! il_fullxfull.417781250_5u4t-WEB _IHC8435e-WEB il_fullxfull.394940033_oxh9-WEB

12. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? I love finding new or revisiting well known book stores, stationery stores, galleries and parks. I love eating and cooking, walking around London and discovering new places.

13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I am about to read Great Gatsby, I haven’t seen the film and looking forward to read the book and watch the film. :) I’m always following what’s happening on It’s Nice That – they are endless source of inspiration.

14. Name three things you just could not live without? I definitely would be able to live without those things but I would be a little sadder without them: Washi tapes, Instagram and avocado.

15. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I love all the creations from these three super talented ladies!
Pauline from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BenuShop
Jonna from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jonnasaarinen
Sabine from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SGerthDesigns

16. What would we expect from And Smile in the future? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? You can expect a lot more original drawings, prints and new brooches of course! I will be at Camden Lock market on 5th and 19th of July with We Make London. And more, I will post the dates and places on my Facebook page.

Thank you Viktorija for taking your time out to share your story with us and for the amazing photos provided by Maksim Kalanep! (FYI – I’m super envious of that great workspace of yours!!) It really is inspiring to hear more about yourself and the journey you’ve made to be where you are in this industry! I look forward to seeing more of your super fabulous work and of course catching up over some fun summer cocktails later in July! :D So there you have it folks – you must visit Viktorija’s Etsy shop or even pop along to the We Make London’s Camden markets held every 1st and 3rd Friday of the months, if you’re in London! Otherwise do follow her on facebook, twitter or instagram for more of her creative antics! xx
CONTACT-ME-textWEB

[Our D.I.Y. Wedding] Bridesmaids’ bling

Having chosen a more ‘western’ style dress for the bridesmaids, it was essential that I had them customised someway to add that ‘eastern’ touch so it reflected my ‘east-meets-west’ theme. To achieve this elegant fusion of both cultures, I knew the dresses needed to be teamed up with Indian embellishments and accessories –  a combination of gold detailing and pops of bright colours. With that in mind I rummaged through numerous haberdasheries, vintage markets and jewellery shops across London, picking up tons of inspiration and a bunch of assorted sparkled goodies to go with it…..I was in my element! And it sure brought out the inner magpie I never knew existed! :D

I decided to make an embellished brooch that the girls could simply affix to their dresses on the morning of the wedding. With my bridesmaids based in three different places prior to the wedding (London, Glasgow and Cleveland, Ohio!), it seemed the most practical option.  The brooch was made up of three segments of coloured stones which I had dismantled from what was once a bracelet. These were carefully secured using the glue-gun onto a 4cm x 7cm piece of cobalt blue felt fabric that matched perfectly with the dress and fitted beautifully in the center of the ruffled detail of the bust area where the one shouldered strap had once been attached. Its all about customising what you’ve got………..”make, do and mend” as they say! :)

MbM_Our-Wedding_accessories_1-(web)Next up was the tikka – a traditionally Indian piece of jewellery worn on the head by women during festivities including weddings – which I decided to make myself for the girls by using an assortment of  beads and stones (some taken from other jewellery), linking them up with gold wire,with the help of my faithful pliers, and finally fastening it onto a gold chain that was cut to measure (about 8-10cm in length). All that multiplied by three…..et voila! :) I got these, the brooches, and their earrings (these were bought!) wrapped up in cute individual little parcels which I presented to my lovely ladies, along with their bangles and flowers, on the morning of the wedding.

Once I get hold of our professional photos, I shall post a few up so you can see how it all came together on the day!! I do hope you like what you see! :)