Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Build-Up - Day Four

Welcome to Day Four of The Diamond Jubilee Build-Up here on This is Wiss! I hope that you have already been getting some ideas to keep the little people entertained over the coming long bank holiday, but today's post is a beauty.

I am very excited to be able to introduce another fabulous guest blogger. Amy writes her blog No More Disco about her life, her two cute children and her crafting. I 'met' Amy on Twitter and instantly loved her honest and funny tweets. It turned out we have quite a lot in common (but I'm not so sure about the funny green juices!) I digress. Amy has really great ideas for crafts to do with children and I have been wanting to link-up and do something with her for some time, so I was very pleased she said yes to a special Jubilee tutorial for me. I give you Amy...

"Last week when I thought frantically of something different to make to celebrate the jubilee all I could think of was 'crown, crown, crown,' but thanks to a bit of googling I discovered there is to be a pretty monumentous procession of boats down the River Thames, (I knew nothing about this!) and the Queen will be sailing down on a Royal Barge. You can read more about that here. In any case I decided we'd make a boat. Fit for a Queen obviously *ahem*

Constructing the bare bones of the boat wasn't too lengthy but I'd suggest if you are making it with a child under 7 then perhaps having the cardboard structure ready the night before might be helpful. It only takes about 10 minutes. 

I used: 
A cardboard box
Some plain paper & a bit of tissue paper
PVA Glue and a bowl

It's pretty low tech!

I used a fairly thick cardboard left over from the tv box delivered this week. I drew the shape of the bottom of the boat freehand (see wobbly lines) and then made sure there were about 3 inches either side. These will be the sides of the boat so it's really up to you how deep you want it.

Score around the boat's base and fold up the sides and the back of the boat. I had to cut at the front so it folded up nicely.

This is the bit where the selotape comes into it's own.

Cut the shape of the boat in anyway you fancy.

I added two pieces of card vertically with a bit more selotape. This will support the 'deck'

Draw around the base of your boat to make the shape of the deck. Be sure to cut this piece longer than the base and it'll fit really nicely. It doesn't have to be snug, we are going to cover it in wet paper in a minute!

Tape it all up again, I cut a hole in the top for money - long enough for a 50p and about 5mm across.

Mix a bowl of half PVA and half water and then immerse strips of paper one at a time and place them over your boat. Might want to lay that oilcloth down if your children are anything like mine. For reasons best know to herself Ruby put each bit of paper in exactly the same place unless I coaxed her otherwise. A little bit of gentle persuasion, some smoothing and filling myself and we came up with this:

Whilst that dried I got Ruby to count out some pennies....

The whole idea was so that we could compare what 60 pennies looked against 4 pennies. She is 4, the Queen is celebrating 60 years on the throne... do you see what I did there? When I thought about it I realised that the 90 something year old lady next door to me was in her 30's when Elizabeth was crowned. Was she sitting around a kitchen table with her children crafting crowns and decorations? I'll bet she was. It's an amazing amount of time.

We did the whole 'who is the lady on the coin?' discussion and then I discovered two things about this genius comparative exercise. 1) Balancing 60 pennies on top of one another is no mean feat. 2) Ruby couldn't have possibly engaged with something less. She's 4, it was hot, something something 4, something something 60, where's the ice-cream?  was going through her mind. 

Thanks to the heat though we got to paint it up after only an hour in the garden. Some poster paint mixed with the glue did the trick and then it was time to decorate. This couldn't go on for too long however as Ruby declared that 'her legs were tired (!)' and she was going to have to pause in the proceedings.

Now my idea is that they can use this as a bit of a jubilee piƱata. I'm going to encourage (read: force) Ruby to go through my change and put pennies into the money box and once it's full we can bash it up and give the money to charity. I think it's a rather nice idea. That's unless it doesn't go missing again. This morning it was inexplicably gone from the kitchen table and George was playing with it in the lounge. It's remarkably sturdy actually - I'm definitely making papier mache toys again. Cheap and cheerful, they don't have to be perfect and the kids love them.

If you don't make one definitely get involved with the papier mache at some point in the future anyway - it is very satisfying!

*note: the flag in the top picture is just a skewer and a printed union jack from the net. It's pretty easy to puncture the papier mache if it's not too thick. Good luck!"

How cool is that? And I love the Playmobil and young Queen Elizabeth finishing touches. Thank you Amy!

Don't forget to add No More Disco to your reader list if you'd like to see more of that kind of thing, plus lovely photos of Brighton and fab granny squares!

Tomorrow is the last day of my Jubilee event and the fever will be building towards the weekend with some great patriotic recipes! Nom nom nom. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Build-Up - Day Three

Good morning and a special hello to all the new visitors to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you are enjoying the Jubilee event on This is Wiss so far.

It's Day Three already and today I've got a couple of tutorials to help you get into the Jubilee spirit.

Crowning Glory

All the children were asked to wear a crown to nursery today, and although Wiss prefers his one made from gold card and sellotape (no accounting for taste!), I thought I'd show you how I made the felt crowns for the Queen & Country exhibition. 

I did cheat a little by cutting out my felt using a lasercutter, but if you don't have one of these at your disposal then careful cutting with scissors or a scalpel will be just as good. This crown does require some fiddly machine sewing, turning all the corners but it's still very quick to come together.

Start by measuring the head of your intended King or Queen, then add a few centimeters to this to allow for the Velcro overlap. Draw a repeating crown shape as simple or fancy as you wish. 

Washing Line Bunting

This idea is so simple that it's almost not worth a tutorial, but our bunting has been making me smile all week so I thought I should still share it. I love bunting; it's quintessentially British! But it can be a little fiddly to make and I always have a problem with where to hang it. And then I had a brainwave!

While Lewis was napping I cut triangles of red, white and blue card using pinking scissors (but normal scissors will do!) I folded over the top 2cm of each flag and pressed down to make a flap. When he woke up I enlisted his help to hang them on the washing line in our garden. He knows his colours and loved shouting out the name of each one as we hung it up. I used some cute bird pegs to secure them but any peg will do!
Once the washing line is full of bunting make sure you pull it up high so that you don't garrote anyone (I speak from experience!) But that's it. Bunting....done!

Tomorrow's post comes from another special guest, Amy from No More Disco so please don't forget to come back and visit for some more great Jubilee ideas.

I'd love to hear what you have planned for the Jubilee weekend so please leave a comment. Have a great day!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Build-Up Continues - Day Two

Welcome back to Day Two of Jubilee celebrations here on This is Wiss, and I am really excited to introduce the first of my special guest bloggers, Stacie Swift.

I first discovered Stacie's fabulous cards at the Crafty Fox Market earlier this year. I was instantly drawn to the brilliant colours and her original style, and I wasn't the only one: Lewis loved the animals too! Have a look at her etsy shop and you'll fall for the dancing foxes or a sausage dog in a stripey jumper too!

I started following her blog Swift Somethings and was so taken with the downloadable colouring sheets she draws for kids that I asked if she would draw one especially for us. I was over the moon when she agreed! Get your pens and pencils at the ready...

"Hello! I'm Stacie, a freelance illustrator with a penchant for drawing animals in fancy dress! Angela was kind enough to invite me to take part in her Jubilee blog posts after she and Lewis popped along to my stall at the Crafty Fox Market and I'm thrilled to be joining in.

Despite not having little ones of my own just yet, I am a bit of a big kid and so try to produce work that will appeal to children as well as their parents. A new feature on my blog are downloadable colouring and activity sheets - here is a special Jubilee colour in especially for This Is Wiss.

Jubilee Corgis - Colour Me In -

In case colouring in isn't your thing, I thought I'd offer you a little discount in my store too. Just enter the code BUNTING2012 at the checkout to get 25% off until Saturday 2nd June.

Happy Jubilee!
Stacie x "

Thank you so much for being my guest today Stacie!

Both Stacie and I would love to see your finished colouring sheets, so if you would like to share them you could tweet a photo to us: @stacie_swift or @thisiswiss. And remember to add Stacie's blog to your reader list if you'd like to see more animals in party hats (amongst other things!) It's a good read.

I'll be back tomorrow for Day Three with a tutorial for a felt crown, and some super-quick jubilee bunting to get you in the spirit. See you then!

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Jubilee Blog Build-Up - Day One

Welcome to the first day of the Diamond Jubilee Build-Up event, here on This is Wiss. As Jubilee Fever begins to build up to the long bank holiday weekend, you have two choices: detest it or embrace it! If you're doing the latter then this week will be right up your street, and who knows, we may even be able to convert some of the haters too!

It really is hard not to get swept up in all the celebrations, especially if you have children. But regardless of your opinions of the Royal Family, and even if the weather isn't as glorious as it has been lately, we've got TWO bank holidays to look forward to and that's worth a smile, surely?! Over the next five days I will be bringing you some great ideas and inspiration: things to keep the kids amused, fun recipes, crafts and to start us off, a costume.

Day One: A Union Jack Fancy Dress Outfit

It's fancy dress day at Wiss's nursery on Thursday and I'm sure lots of you will also be putting some kind of outfits together for this coming week. We had a 'Princes & Princesses' theme last year for the Royal wedding, but this year it is a little more abstract with a 'Union Jack' theme.

I haven't made any clothes for Wiss for ages so I knew I wanted to make a pair of trousers, and this fabric from Sew La La was perfect! I always use the great tutorial for Kid's Pants from Dana Made It as it is quick to follow, so easy and the trousers are a great fit.

I thought that with such busy trousers the top half of the outfit should be more restrained (plus I wanted to finish the whole costume in a couple of hours!) so I simply drew a shirt and tie onto a plain white t-shirt with a fabric marker pen.
I was aiming for an 'English City Gent with a Twist' * so the perfect finishing touch is a red bowler hat which Wiss surprisingly loves wearing. 

* Not sure if I've managed to pull off the City Gent look convincingly though - maybe more Pet Shop Boys? or a bit Clockwork Orange?

I'd really love to see any outfits that you've been making for the Jubilee, so please leave me a comment or a link below.

Don't forget to pop back tomorrow for Day Two of the Jubilee Build-Up with a very special guest blogger Stacie from Swift Somethings. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Build-Up - 5 Day Blog Event!

A quick post to remind you that I will be running a Diamond Jubilee blog event all next week, leading up to the long bank holiday weekend! Starting tomorrow there will be five daily posts with some great jubilee-inspired ideas, crafts and recipes, plus two fantastic guest bloggers.

Please stop by each day next week to get some inspiration, and meet my very special guests: Stacie Swift and Amy from No More Disco. I can't wait to show you what we've all been up to, all in the name of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, 25 May 2012

New & Improved!

I'm back with the next installment of This is Wiss news!

At the end of last year I sent out a questionnaire to my customers asking them for some feedback on the products they had. I knew I'd have to make a whole new batch of stock this year so thought it would be a good chance to tweak and improve any items if needed.

I asked about each range: how they were using the item, what they particularly liked and what would make it better? I was thrilled with the responses - I was after honest feedback but was over the moon to discover that everyone was actually using their products. That's the real test, right?

The Flannel Monsters seemed to be doing a sterling job, and one mum reported that her daughter would not wash her face with any other flannel!! From feedback at craft fairs, I have added some more faces so look out for these: scary, cheeky, smiley and ....posh? Sounds like the Spice Girls are reforming again!
The Square Hares & Square Bears are proving to be very popular as comforters as well as dribble cloths to chew on. I have been able to source an organic bamboo and cotton velour which is even softer than the terry towelling (though not as absorbent obviously) I will be selling both types alongside each other to gauge which is most popular. I'm also currently tweaking the Hares & Bears design to make them even more attractive to little ones. More when they are made up.

The product that drew the biggest comments were the changing mat and waterproof bags. It seems that everybody is using them in very different ways, and so suggested various improvements to their design. I have added a handle/strap to all of the new waterproof bags now, after someone pointed out that it was hard to carry everything you need to the changing room as well as a two stone toddler!
It also became apparent that some people were happy with only wet bag (usually if you are using disposable nappies), some used two (good for use with washable nappies) while some wanted three!! Taking this on board, I am now selling the sets with either one or two bags and individual bags can also be purchased separately.

The main concern was to keep everything as compact as possible, and it seems everyone was happy with the overall sizes of both the mats and the bags. There was a request for the changing mat to be able to fit into a waterproof bag, but others said they liked to keep the two separate. To accommodate both I have added some extra lines of stitches to the changing mats. These now allow the mat to be folded in either quarters, or sixths as well as giving a little more detail to the design.

Now the final piece of news! I am a big fan of Sell it Mama and love the whole ethos of the events. If you have a child you will know how expensive everything can be, and how little time you actually use most things for. At Sell it Mama you can buy (or sell) good quality second-hand baby and toddler stuff as well as finding new and original items from local small businesses (like me!) Have a look at this post to see some of the bargains I have come away with.

Sell it Mama is branching out and will be in Blackheath, South East London tomorrow 26 May from 1.30pm. Check the website for more information but I will be there selling all the bestsellers, and the new and improved stock too! I'd love to see you there too.

Enjoy the wonderful weekend whatever you are up to and I'll be back with the Jubilee Blog Special on Monday!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Handmade Diamond Jubilee Limited Editions!

As promised, I am back with some very exciting This is Wiss news! (In fact, there was so much news that I'm splitting it into two posts so you don't get overwhelmed!)

Jubilee Fever has struck! Regardless of your royalist beliefs, it's hard not to get carried away by these kind of events when you have children; it's a great opportunity to have fun (and of course, dress up!).

I wanted to make something to give a nod to the occasion so I was honored when I was approached by The Noverre Gallery & Shop who were interested in my Bobby Horses. They are running an exhibition called 'Queen & Country' which invites artists to interpret the title in their own quirky way. I decided to make a strictly limited edition series of 'All the Queen's Horses'.
The Queen's Horses are made from red, navy and grey wool blend felt, with reinforced vintage button eyes and bamboo blended wool for manes. So far, they are not all that different to the standard Bobby Horse but there are a couple of special touches:

Diamond Jubilee 2012 has been lasered onto the handle, along with the edition number for the strict limited run of only twelve horses made. And of course, there are the usual ribbons and bells.

You can't really think about 'Queen and Country' without thinking about a crown either, so I've also made some very simple but cute felt crowns. These are lasered from yellow wool-blend felt before being sewn together with round felt 'jewels'. They are adjustable with either Velcro or elastic to fit all kids' head sizes. Unfortunately, Wiss wasn't a very willing model so I had to enlist the help of someone more compliant!

'Queen and Country' runs at the Noverre Gallery in Norwich from 1 June - 27 August so pop along if you are in the area, it looks like it will be a really interesting exhibition. If you  aren't local to Norwich but would like to purchase either a Queen's Horse or a Crown then please contact me directly on

As Jubilee fever increases I have one more surprise planned - a 5 day blog event leading up to the long weekend! It will run from Monday 29 May - Friday 1 June, with craft ideas, recipes, activities for kids and some wonderful guest bloggers. Please stop by next week for some inspiration and if you're making any Jubilee-related items then I'd love to know about them...

I will be posting again very soon with more news about improvements to existing best-sellers, and an exciting new venue for Sell it Mama this Saturday!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A Wonderful Introduction to Quilting

Last Sunday I discovered a very enjoyable way to pass the hours, especially on a grey and wet day, and learnt a new skill that I can't wait to practice some more. I treated my mum and myself to a day's Introduction to Quilting at Sew Over It in Clapham, London. It was something that we had both wanted to try and we'd get to spend some quality mother-daughter time together too. It's just I kept it secret from Mum until we got outside: she had no idea what we were going to be up to.Surprise!

The day started at 10am in the lovely downstairs space of the shop. There were 5 of us altogether so the class was very relaxed and we all got lots of time and attention from our teacher Kate Sherman. She taught us the Log Cabin style of Quilting, which involves building the pattern from squares and strips of fabric. They provide everything you will need and there is a big box of fabrics to choose from but I had been planning my first quilt for some time so I took along my own selection.
I am making a quilt for Wiss as my first project and when I discovered the Moda Robotics Range I knew it would be perfect. The grey and white with rockets and planets, and the red stars are from that range, and then I mixed in some co-ordinating grey and red cottons. Everyone in the class chose really different colour schemes and patterns but I was amazed by how good the fabrics all looked together, even ones I wouldn't have put alongside each other initially. (If you are in any doubt that clashing patterns can work together then look at this amazing blog I'm a Ginger Monkey. This blog was my main inspiration for wanting to learn to quilt!)

Kate explained how we should get started by cutting squares and strips of our fabrics: I used a rotary cutter for the first time and now wonder how I have got this far without one! Then after some tea and delicious cake (banana loaf for me) we started to lay out the strips and get an idea of what arrangements would look best. You can literally do this for hours so I decided to just plunge straight in. I am terribly impatient at the best of times! The sewing machines are all digital Janomes, and with a cute touch are all named. Mine was called Frank!
There is something very rhythmic and soothing about sewing, pressing, cutting, sewing, pressing, cutting. And then seeing the patterns evolving from all your strips is very satisfying. The main thing seemed to be to be as neat and precise as possible. This is not a million miles away from my day job as a modelmaker so I really got into it. My mum, however, kept declaring "I've gone skew-wiff, Angie!"
We all worked at different speeds but all of us produced finished quilt blocks that could then either form a cushion cover, or a quilt if we wanted a new Work In Progress to tackle! There was more tea and cake in the afternoon (I went for carrot and courgette cake this time) before we were taught the techniques in how to assemble our blocks, make up the quilt sandwich, to actually quilt them together and finally how to bind your finished article. I'm a long way off yet but I'm really looking forward to getting to that stage.

You can see from just these two images how the arrangements of your blocks can create wildly different effects. I'm not decided yet but I know that I'd like to use more of the Robotics Space fabrics, so may introduce a border to each block before they get sewn together. I'll be sure to keep posting with any progress made!

Both my mum and I had a great day and I would thoroughly recommend the class at Sew Over It. Check their Lessons page for all the classes they run. It was a lovely, sociable (and delicious) way to learn a new skill and get inspiration.
I'll be posting again soon with news of New Locations for my This is Wiss stall! New Limited Edition Product Ranges! And some New Improvements to old favourites! Now if I could only discover that elusive 25th hour in each day.... See you again soon!