Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I am not a bargaining chip

I have written a version of this countless times in my head in the past nine months. On the train. When I'm walking Blake. Or doing the dishes. But usually, it is during many, many sleepless hours at night. I don't know if I've said everything I want to say, but now that we're only a week away from the Article 50 shotgun being triggered, I feel like it is about time I do put all this into words.

For almost nine months, since June 23rd, my life has been in limbo. At first I was dumbfounded that so many people in Britain were so ill informed and/or believed the Leave campaign's xenophobic lies that they would vote to leave the EU. Sure, there are nuisances to being part of the EU, but on the whole, the good far outweighs the bad.

The second emotion was feeling unsafe. Where we live had one of the highest percentages of leave votes, almost 73 percent. So almost three quarters of everyone I'd pass on the street basically wants me out. That's how it felt. I was worried about speaking Danish in public.

Or just speaking in public, period. Although I've lived here since August 2005, I still have an accent. Which some people have commented on in the past. Although they can't quite place it: German? South African? New Zealand? Polish? Dutch?

A man was killed shortly after the referendum, apparently just because he was Polish. A Swedish woman had abuse shouted at her because she had the nerve of speaking Swedish in public to her children. People have been telling their children not to speak their native language in public.

I know, it's only a minority of people who would behave like that. But it still scares me. Would I be next?

But that fear is nothing compared to the thing I hadn't even considered before the referendum - maybe because I thought that surely most people would vote remain?

My life here is based on the right to live and work in another EU country. But since the referendum, no one can/will tell me, and the 3 million other EU citizens, what my rights will be once Britain leaves the EU.

This keeps me awake at night. Whenever there is a new 'development' in the Brexit disaster, I am unable to hold my shit together. There are tears. Proper ugly crying. I don't mind telling you that.

Please don't tell me "it will be ok" or "it won't as bad as you think". Or "don't worry, of course *you* will be allowed to stay." Me as opposed to whom? What makes me a special case?

But please don't say any of those (well meaning) things because it's not helping. And: you don't know what us going to happen. No one does.

There is a thing called Permanent Residency. Have you heard of it? Yeah, me neither until some time last year. You can apply for it once you've lived in the UK for five years. It's not a requirement, as an EU citizen you don't need it. For now.

Applying for PR is a daunting prospect. It is an 80+ page document and you have to provide all kinds of paperwork to back up the application. To be honest, I've not looked into it properly yet. I'm going to spare myself the panic attacks about maybe not having the right documentation until the day it is necessary to do so.

You have to pay to apply. Which I'm happy to do if I knew it would mean some peace of mind. But guess what? Lots of people are applying for PR now. Do you think they're hiring extra people to go through those applications? I doubt it. So the applications may not be considered as carefully as they should. That is worrying.

This is people's lives. People who have been here for years. 10, 20, 50 years. People who have married English people. Had children. Worked for decades and paid taxes as good 'citizens'. But it feels like that is all worth exactly nothing to the government.

They refuse to make a clear statement that we are still welcome and valued members of this society. We are bargaining chips. Chattel.

For nine months we have lived with this uncertainty. This mental torture. Those sleepless nights. Leaving the room to hide our tears when the talk turns to the cursed referendum.

Consider this. 3 million EU citizens. Let's say half of us came here or stayed because we fell in love with a UK citizens. Now that uncertainty directly affects 4.5 million people. Some of those people have children. Let's say that's half a million children. Now it's 5 million people who are directly affected. Let's add the parents and siblings of the UK partners. 2 million maybe? That takes it to 7 million people who are directly affected or have close family members who are.

Nine months and the government is refusing to give us any assurances.

Maybe it will be ok. We don't know. But don't tell us it will be ok. It won't assure us that our lives in the UK are secure. Children are scared that their families will be split up. That one, or both, of their parents will be forced to leave. The grown ups are worried about this too.

You can be sure that this affects someone you know or come into contact with on a regular basis.

The Spanish doctor who performed heart surgery on your dad. She may be wondering if the uncertainty is worth sticking around for. That cute Italian barista who flirts with you? Him too. And countless other people in the hotel and restaurant and hospitality business.

Your daughter's favourite professor at Uni? Maybe she's a Dane like me. Your best friend's husband, the Dutch architect who built a tree house for your kids? Your French yoga teacher?

The people who are packing fruit and veg that you buy at the supermarket. Jobs that few British people are applying for. Who's going to pick fruits and pack peppers if the Slovenian worker goes back to Slovenia or decides it's better to get a job in Spain?

Hey, the wetter is better there anyway, right? Just ask your parents or your neighbour who has relocated there to enjoy their retirement. They're referred to as expats, but EU citizens in the UK are 'migrants'. Why the difference in terminology? Both have moved to another country to look for a better life. Double standards.

It is inhuman to leave us hanging like this.

In 2003 I fell in love with an English guy. In 2005 I moved here to be with him. In 2008 we got married. All I want is to live in our little house with the blossom tree, with Tony and Blake. Is it really too much to ask to have certainty that we can keep doing that?

Or if we can't keep doing that, let us know now so we can make different plans for the future. Because right now it feels like the future is in suspended animation. Like we have no agency in our own lives.

On Saturday, there is going to be a march to Parliament on this very topic in London. Did you know? Now that you do, will you go? Will you stand up for me and my fellow EU citizens? We are your neighbours and we need your support. We need you to tell the government that this is not right.

So many people went to the Women's March, it was amazing to follow. If half the people who turned out for the one in London came along on Saturday, that would be a fantastic turnout. Will you come along? Spend a few hours asking the government to give us basic human rights? And stop the Brexit disaster (I know, that's unlikely to happen..)

I'm worried for the future. What will happen if I can't stay? How will Tony and I stay together? Denmark isn't an option, sadly. Denmark has a very Draconian attitude to immigrants. Even EU ones. Even if the EU partner is married to a Dane. And with the UK out of the EU it would be even more difficult. Especially since I've not lived in Denmark for a long time. It's not uncommon for Dane+foreigner couples to live in Sweden for years.

I'm so worried that we'll be forced to live apart because of this. And don't tell me it it won't come to that. Because you.don't.know.

Please come to the march in London on Saturday and demand that the government stop treating us like bargaining chips. Come and demand that they give a clear message about our futures once Article 50 has been triggered.

We just want to live our lives with the people we love in the country that has become home without fearing that that life will be ripped away from us. That's not so unreasonable, is it?


PS. If you voted to leave, please refrain from leaving comments that defend your choice or are argumentative in any way. My feelings are not up for debate and to be honest I find the Leave vote indefensible.


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Throwback Thursday :: One Month Ago

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
This time one month ago, I was high up in the air, somewhere over Canda I think, on my way to visit my sister in California. It seems kinda crazy that it's already that long ago!

And it was straight back to work on my book when I got back - well, after a couple of days of unpacking/washing and generally getting over the jetlag!

It was a wonderful trip and I have lots of photos to share. But not today, here's just a taster. In a few weeks I'll have a bit more time on my hands to look though my photos, reminisce about the trip and edit the photos.

Niece and nephew and my sister

Oranges in my sister's garden

Calistoga geyser

Napa Valley

Napa Valley

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

San Francisco suggestions?


On Thursday, I am off to visit my sister in California. YAY! I haven't seen her since September 2012! Thank goodness for Skype!

My sister lives in Napa, but we're going down to San Francisco one day, maybe two, who knows. I was wondering if any of you who are reading this might have some suggestions for places to go in SF.

I'm interested in folk art and/or quirky museums or galleries. Craft/fabric shops of course. And also vegan food. So...any suggestions? :-)

Also, vegan food in Napa/Sonoma area and Sacramento.

Thank you!! xo Carina

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fabric Shop Tip :: Stoff & Stil

Fabric from Stof & Stil
Have you heard of the Danish fabric shop Stoff & Stil? It's pretty great. I go there every time I visit my parents. It's only a ten minute drive from their house, which is great. Not so great for my bank balance, perhaps! ;-)

Anyway, a bunch of sewing bloggers were invited to visit Stoff & Stil in Denmark. Not me, obvs, I'm not a 'proper' sewing blogger. :-) But I thought I'd alert you to the fact that The Fold Line has a post about it and there's a 15% off discount in the post. Check it out here. And I'd give you my opinion on the shop (actually, it's a chain of shops), since I've spent considerable amounts of time there fondling the fabrics over the years. ;-)

Stoff & Stil have a really great selection, both for apparel (not that this haven't-really-begun-yet clothes sewist has much experience with that side of things!), home dec fabrics, patchwork fabric and yarn plus all your haberdashery desires.

They have a lot of cotton fabrics which are not in the patchwork category that can absolutely be used to make quilt tops. And quilt backs! A lot of the fabrics have graphic designs, think triangles, circles, lines etc. And florals are pretty big too.

Fabric from Stof & Stil
One thing I particularly buy from Stoff & Stil is their solid colour 'Cotton canvas'. Despite the name, it is actually quite lightweight, almost similar to some quilting cottons. In fact, when I make quilts, I use the cotton canvas just as well as Kona cotton for example. I probably wouldn't use it for piecing really small blocks or where you have lots of seams meeting, but other than that, I really like it for quilt tops. It comes in loads of colours, more than 60 and at £4.15 per metre it is really affordable. Especially considering that it's 140cm wide!

Oh and check out the 'Design pieces' category! It is mainly panels printed with various cool and contemporary designs that you can use for cushions or totes or whatever. At a quick glance: a monstera leaf, owls, bears and a flamingo.

The 'Kids fabrics' category is also worth a look, lots of animal prints and geometrics, fruits, plants and happy colours.

Shipping from Denmark may at first glance seem kinda pricey, £7 or £9 depending on the option you select. However, the fabrics are cheaper than in the UK. For example, the dedicated patchwork fabrics are £7.75 per metre. And a lot of the fabrics are wider than one metre, usually 130-140 cm wide so you're getting great value for the money!

Below are a few fabrics I've bought in the past couple of years, the two on the right I bought in April last year. The photo at the top of the post shows fabrics from a few years ago.
Fabric from Stof & Stil

I'm not affiliated with them in any way and this is not a sponsored post or anything - but if anyone at Stoff & Stil fancy sending me some fabric, I won't say no. ;-)

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Five Friday Favourites :: January 27

Five Friday Favourites
I have to admit that the past couple of weeks I haven't felt like there were that many things, big or small, to celebrate enough to make up a post of five favourites. But it's important to keep looking out for those things. Even if they are small and fleeting. So here goes.

To my surprise, I have found that going to the gym isn't completely awful, as I found it when I've tried it previously. I'd always find excuses not to go. Not this time. I want to go. Atleast on Sunday mornings when it's fairly quiet. When we go on a week day evening it is packed. Especially now, after New Year's when everyone has a resolution. They'll go away soon enough. I hope so, anyway, so week days won't feel so claustrophobic.

A nice new pen. I've been looking for a pen that has a good line. It is relatively thick, but depending on the pressure and the angle you apply, the thickness changes. I like that. It gives the writing/drawing more personality. This new pen is the Uni-Ball Air Rollerball pen in case you're curious. (I bought it from Cultpens - at the time of writing, they have it on offer, 3 for 2, just FYI. This is *not* sponsored, I just happen to like the pen AND Cultpens.)

Frosty morning
On Monday morning we woke up to a frost covered winter wonderland. Blake and I went for a long morning walk to admire the fairy dustings on trees and leaves. We came home with rosy cheeks (me) and chilly paws (not me).

I found out that there's a new vegan shop in London, a supermarket even, it's called Green Bay and it's in North End Road. I have to go there! And there's a pizza place nearby that sells vegan pizza, most go there too!

Blake has an Instagram account, of course he does. You can't be a cute dog and not have an IG account, right? ;-) It's not just us posting pictures of Blake, though, we follow other dogs too and you know what? Pictures of cute dogs = happiness boost. I recommend following IG accounts for dogs, it makes me happier. :-)

I hope you have a good weekend. xo

Frosty morning

Frosty morning
Bonus favourite: I love these sempervivums in our front garden. We didn't plant them, a couple of them just appeared one day. I am letting them spread as much as they like. I may even plant some different types. Don't they look beautiful covered in frost? :-)


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WIP :: Australia Quilt

Australia quilt
Remember the Texas quilts I made for my niece and nephew?

As soon as I finished them, I knew I wanted to make another one. For no particular reason, I decided to do Australia. It has an interesting, and recognizable, shape so it's a good one to simplify in this way.

Australia quilt
I wanted to only use fabrics from my stash, that was the original plan. But then I decided that this project would be perfect for the beautiful Blueberry Park fabrics I've been hoarding saving for a special project. And I didn't quite have enough of the background colour, so I had to order a bit extra. Still, it's mostly from my stash, so mission accomplished, I think. :-)

The centre of the design is Uluru (Ayer's Rock). Because these quilts have a centre that the design radiates from, it didn't make sense to use Sydney as the centre. It's on the coast, so the whole design would be lop sided.

And I quite like the idea that the centre is a place that was important way before Europeans arrived in Australia.

I'm pondering how to quilt this. Maybe I'll just do straight lines, longitudes and latitudes...

Australia quilt
Allow me to get a bit quilt-geeky for a moment. Just look how neatly those points meet in the centre. That's far from always the case for me! ;-)




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Friday, January 13, 2017

Five Friday Favourites :: January 13

Five Friday Favourites
This week... at first I couldn't really think of any favourites, because I felt like I've not done anything or listened to or watched anything interesting. But of course, the whole point of this exercise is to look at bit closer and appreciate things AND notice when you appreciate things. If that distinction makes sense?

So first up is the London Modern Quilt Guild, LMQG for short. We have a monthly meeting, usually on the first Sunday of the month, which I went to on Sunday. On the way home on the train, I got to thinking how happy I am that I joined the group. And how much I look forward to the meetings.

Their talents are many and varied, and I am really quite in awe of their skills. But the best thing is the wonderful accepting attitude towards any quilt that you want to show (or bag or knitting). LMQG is part of the larger organisation called the Modern Quilt Guild, but and I don't know what other groups are like, but I feel like there isn't a dogmatic attitude towards what people bring to show and tell at the meetings. Yes, it's 'modern' but everyone appreciate the work that goes into any quilt. And I love that. Plus, it's a lovely gang of ladies. If you're interested in (modern) quilting and you're near London, do join us! :-)

Do you know about Bandcamp? It's a site where people can indie publish their music, of all types. You can listen to the music for free and if you want you can buy a song or album. Often, you can set your own price and sometimes there's a minimum price. It's also kinda like a social network for music, you can follow people (me) and discover music through them and I think you can even buy music for them from their wishlist.

I have been listening to the Sketches album by Sergey Akhunov as played by Polina Osetinskaya and Ilya Hoffman. It is beautiful and dreamy and moody piano and viola.

Blake in the snow
Last night it snowed! It's probably 6-7 years since we last had proper snow - meaning, snow that actually settles and stays overnight. It's all gone now, sadly. We walked Blake in the snow last night and he LOVED it! Unfortunately, it was too dark to video it but it was hilarious! He was running around, rolling in the snow, chasing snowballs. He was so excite. He may never have seen snow before, there certainly hasn't been any while he's been with us. We reckon he's around 7ish years old, so it could be that this was his first experience of it.

We walked over to the field this morning, I thought he'd have another happy run around, but it was bitterly cold so we had to come back without further snow-frolicking. Fingers crossed we'll have more snow this winter. :-)

Speaking of Blake, he tried another new thing last weekend: doggy daycare! We weren't sure how he'd react to that, being left on his own in a strange place. But he enjoyed it as far as we could tell, he was certainly filthy from playing outside! And the staff said he was good as gold, so that's promising.

It's good to know that we can take him there so we can go out for the day without worrying about getting back home within a few hours so he can be let outside.

At the weekend, I finally bought veggies from the market that rolls into Grays on Friday and Saturday. I've been meaning to do that for ages, but we don't always go 'down town' and I kept forgetting etc etc. I got four beautiful red peppers and almost a kilo of tomatoes on the vine for just £2. Definitely going to do that again! I don't know where those veggies came from but I'd assume it's somewhere close-ish - instead of being flown in from Spain or whatever. :-)

Have a lovely weekend, friends! xo Carina

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Pattern :: Bird Song

Bird Song embroidery pattern
In March 2014, this pattern, Bird Song, was in Australian Homespun magazine. It was my intention to put it in my shop as well, but that just never happened. I found the embroidery yesterday when I was going through some of my old embroideries and decided that I really should do something about that!

So here it is! Bird Song. A 'sheet' of music with little birds and a large bird soaring off the music. In the original idea, the little birds were the notes, but it didn't quite work, so instead they are hiding in between.

At first, I didn't like doing all that satin stitch in black, but eventually I did find a rhythm and it was almost meditative. Thinking back on it, I remember that I was working on this while we were in the middle of moving from our old flat to ourhouse. We stayed with Tony's parents for a couple of weeks. It was very hot, right in the middle of summer in 2013. I remember getting up very early to sit outside with my embroidery while it was still cool. Surrounded by the pretty flowers in my inlaws' garden and listening to the birds singing, very appropriately!

As I'm writing this, the conditions are much different: grey, dark skies with freezing rain. They say we'll get snow later - I'll believe it when I see it! Nice to have something warmer to think about.

Bird Song is in all my shops: polkaandbloom.com (please use this link if shopping from UK/EU), Etsy and Payhip. :-)

Bird Song embroidery pattern



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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Finished Project :: Tamara Quilt

Tamara quilt
I realised I've not actually shared photos of the finished Tamara quilt. It is named for Tamara Kate because the inspiration for it came one of the fabrics in her Origami Oasis collection (see below).

Doing half square triangles on point was a bit of a pain, I have to admit. And for a couple of the fabrics, which are directional, I should have kept this orientation in mind, because they are at a 90° angle. But nevermind.

The overall effect is exactly what I was going for. Big and bold, lots of colour and showing off some of my favourite fabrics. No one is going to complain about the direction of the prints when they are snuggling under the quilt. ;-)

I only started the quilt two years ago and finally quilted it a couple of months ago! Quilts do not have a quick turnaround in this house! Or atleast they didn't when my studio was out of commission because of water damage.

But now I have the studio back so I should be able to finish things quicker. Especially since trying a new-to-me method of basting quilts. We don't have any quilt-basting floor space so that has made basting quite difficult.

I'd heard about basting on a table, using clamps to hold the quilt taut. I decided to give it a go with this quilt and it worked great. It would have worked even better if I had taken the time to iron the top and back properly, but hey-ho. The quilt is done and it's already in use by humans and dog. Blake really likes to make a nest in any quilt!

Origami oasis fabric

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Five Friday Favourites :: January 6

Five Friday Favourites
I have been thinking about gratitude journals lately, they seem to come up in blogs I read and podcasts I listen to. At the end of the day, write down the things you are grateful for, it's supposed to make you happier. And I'm sure it does. But, knowing myself, I suck at doing a daily thing. So instead I'm going to try a weekly thing, which is this: Five Friday Favourites. It's like giving a gold star to five things that I'm grateful for or something that inspired me. Anything that was a positive thing in my life that week.

So even if I'm not writing it down every day, it will be at the back of my mind to notice things so I can blog about them each week. That's the theory, anyway. It'd be lovely if you'd join me - that might help me stick to it as well! What were your favourites this week?

Here are mine:

I recently came across the Nerdist podcast. They talk to celebrities like Metallica, Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Schwimmer, Alison Janney etc etc. It is funny and insightful about art, life and creativity. The two episodes where they talk to Tom Hanks get an extra gold star. They made me laugh like I haven't laughed since June.

A film called Film called Pride. Synopsis from IMDB: "U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984." This is a true story. Both moving and thought provoking. It looks at the stereotypes we have about other people and shows that you can be friends despite, seemingly, being very different. People are people.

You say you want a revolution at the V&A. I actually saw this a couple of weeks ago, but it made quite an impression. It's an exhibition about the second half of the 1960s and it was very interesting. And quite moving too.

Oh Comely magazine
Oh Comely magazine. This magazine isn't like other magazines. It is beautifully written - you can tell they delight in words, and the photos and other illustrations are lovely too. It is not a glitzy, in your face magazine. It is a take-your-time magazine. You don't want to rush through it. Read an article or two a day. Savour the words and the pictures they form in your mind.

Wintery walk with Blake this morning. No snow, but everything was covered in frost, creating interesting patterns and making the grass crunch underfoot. We chased each other across the field while the sun rose and our breath hung in the air like miniature clouds.

Bonus favourite: finding a (vegan) chocolate bar I forgot I had! :-)



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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reuse Idea :: Christmas Cards

Christmas card recycling
We packed away our Christmas decorations yesterday. Even had a bit of a re-shuffle, so now everything fits into four large plastic boxes. Instead of several smaller plastic boxes, a couple of cardboard boxes and one of those big blue IKEA bags. Four boxes, so much quicker to get it back in the loft! Which is very good, because Blake goes kinda crazy when Tony gets in the loft, he has even tried climbing the ladder a couple of times!

It feels so good to have the house back to normal. I love Christmas and the decorations but it does add extra stuff, so it's nice when they all go away, Especially the living room seems a lot bigger once the tree comes down.

Of course, there's also the matter of the Christmas cards to deal with. We never actually manage to get them to somewhere that takes them for charity recycling, so instead of just putting them in the recycling bin, we re-use them. No, we don't re-send them, that would be odd! ;-)

Christmas card recycling
We have an annual 'cut Christmas cards into gift tags' session. We take a good look at the cards and cut out any imagery or words that have a good size for gift tags. Some of them are cut with scissors and for others we use this paper punch I have. It's round with a scalloped edge. That in itself feels very festive I think.

Sometimes I even use a paper punch to make the corners nice and rounded, fancy! Punch a hole in each card so it can be attached with string or ribbon.

Christmas card recycling
Of course, much of a Christmas card that can't be used as a gift tag, so other years that's just gone in the recycling bin. But this year I had a light bulb idea: use them to make hexie templates for EPP!

I got one of those clever 1" hexie punches* a couple of years ago so making the hexie templates is a doddle. You can cut them by hand of course, it just takes a bit more time.

So if you're planning a big hexagon project, put those Christmas cards to good use!


*1" hexagon squeeze punch from Fiskars - I think it's the one in large.


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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year! Plus 2017 calendar download



It is time to say farewell to 2016. I am SO ready for that. I don't think there has ever been a year that I've been so glad to see the back off. Of course, wonderful things happened, but they all seem to have been overshadowed by awful and unsettling events. So. Fare-thee-well, 2016. I will not remember you with much fondness. Hopefully 2017 will be better. If only a wee bit better.

This time of year, I like to sit down quietly and reflect on life and stuff, but I've just not had the time, so it will have to be next week. Once life goes back to normal. Maybe I'll pick a word for the year. Maybe not. I think that is probably only useful if you actually 'check in' with the word and your intentions behind it? Instead of picking an aspirational word and then forgetting about it by January 10th. :-)

I am going to print out my calendar for 2017 and put some nice things in it. Like my visit to see my sister in just over five weeks!! SO excited! You can download a copy of the calendar too, if you like. I used some drawings of flowers I made to decorate it. Although I left a few pages without the decoration so you can fill it in yourself. With a drawing or maybe a quote. Or a bunch of swearwords, depending on how the year is moving along. ;-)

Happy New Year, friends! I hope your 2017 will be filled with good people and wonderful times.

xoxo Carina




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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tutorial :: Button Heart

Button Heart Tutorial
I have a Christmas-y tutorial for you, to make a little heart with a button. It is inspired by the woven hearts that are so common in Denmark at Christmas time. But made a little differently.

It's a fairly quick and easy thing to make and you probably already have all the materials in your craft stash. It's a nice stash-buster project because you don't need large pieces of fabric. So go raid that scrap bag

I put the template and tutorial together in a handy PDF for you to download and you can find that right here. :-)

I love the snowman in the fabric on the left, so cute. It's some fabric my mum gave me a few years ago. It's probably long since out of print, but I wish I could get some more of it. :-)

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