Designer focus: Jennie Atkinson

This week, we've been chatting to the lovely & very talented knitwear designer Jennie Atkinson - as part of our Designer Focus series of interviews....

Jennie's just published her new book, A Handknit Romance - filled with beautifully shaped & finished creations. We've got a copy here at TMS HQ & it's filled with camisoles, cardies, tops, skirts & accessories - all with a timeless elegant feel. When she's not busy designing beautiful vintage knitting books, she also designs for Rowan, Vogue Knitting and The Knitter. You can download some of her past knitting patterns over at The Making Spot.  Naturally we wanted to find out where she gets her ideas!...

Fall in love with vintage knitting patterns

There's something about vintage knitting patterns - a friend of ours (Mim from Simply Knitting) collects old pattern books, and we love it when she comes into work sporting her latest knitted-creations. We don't know if it's the classic, tailored shapes or the lace detailing, but when it comes to knitwear design, it seems travelling back through the decades results in timeless knits. So we were SERIOUSLY chuffed to see  Jennie Atkinson has a new book out, filled with 22 vintage-style designs to knit. Swoooon... Read more.

Vintage romance knitting patterns by Jennie Atkinson

Our Mollie debut

Mollie Makes coverOooh we're thrilled to bits as one of our patterns has been featured in Mollie Makes this month - happy days! We're so chuffed to see our cross stitch kitties pattern - Flopsy, Topsy & Mop - starring in their news pages. Especially as our editor Zoe stitched the original set in this photo!

Mollie is one of our biggest craft crushes... hop on over to their blog for all sorts of lovely ideas to make & treasure. Or to nab a copy, check out Mollie's digital edition or why treat yourself and subscribe!

Flopsy, Topsy & Mop

7 ways to craft it vintage

We've noticed a trend across the craftiverse in using old books, maps or sheets of music for papercraft projects. We do love a spot of paper play and love looking back for inspiration for our future making projects. But while we love the vintage look, we're a bit squeamish when it comes to atcually cutting up old our beloved old books... It just feels a bit wrong! So we've scoured our projects over on The Making Spot to round up our favourite ways to give your crafting an antique feel that vintage-fans will love. Read more to discover 7 easy vintage craft ideas...

Vintage craft ideas

Heart map valentines card

Our adventures in die-cutting continue! Here's our latest handmade card creation - an alternative valentines card is an ode to travel lovers. It's inspired by all the lovely things we're seeing on Pinterest with vintage maps and books. This the result of a cake'n'craft night - baking and card making while listening to old movies music. Our challenge was to make a card some new super-skinny dies we've discovered - Sizzix Framelits. They create really ornate paper-cut-style details. Read on to find out how to make your own version. For more ideas like this, click on over to Sizzix to download their free project sheets or try more valentines card ideas from The Making Spot's designers.

Vintage map heart valentines card

Tutorial: how to make 3D paper stars

This week we've learned how to turn old pages from books, sheet music and maps into vintage decorations, so we thought we'd share the love and show you how too! We do love a spot of 3D paper play, and with the holiday season upon us this is a great quick project to knock up in a lunch hour or evening - make some to add some twinkle to your own tree or whip up a batch for last-minute personalised stocking fillers.

Make a quick vintage decoration with our step-by-step tutorial

Click 'read more' to see our full  step-by-step guide tutorial for how to make a 3D paper star.  Or click on over to our main site for more Handmade decoration projects. Thanks to my friend Jo from Computer Arts magazine for the recipe. She learnt it off her mum - proving our theory that all the best craft skills are those passed down to us from our friends and family! 

3 ways to cross stitch - country-style!

Lately I've become a bit obsessed with queing up my next cross stitch projects - I've got about 4 on the go at the mo - a secret gift (more details later!), some plastic canvas Christmas decorations, a metallic set of Christmas cards and a 2-year-old (now nearly complete) birth sampler.

So naturally I'm already on the hunt for my next-stitch project. Luckily I've just discovered one of our designers over on The Making Spot - Annette Eriksson - has zillions of cross stitch kits & charts over on her chock-a-block site She's got some great shabby chic stitching projects with a vintage feel.

Here's 3 few of my favourites..

1. Stitch your own santa sacks...

Stitch-up sweet 3D kittens

Meet Flopsy, Topsy & Mop! I cross stitched this trio of feline friends when they made their grand debut in Cross Stitcher magazine. This cute set of cats by Diane Machin are one of my favourite cross stitch projects from the magazine that I've stitched over the years. I love them for their vintage feel and the fact they were really quick to stitch up - I like to mix up the pace of my stitching projects so that some are decade-long marathons while others, like this one, can be completed in an evening.

I recall stitching them fondly for two main reasons. Firstly they were my first every project where I stitched on to linen. At first I was a bit daunted but I've since gained confindence and got to grips with stitching on linen and evenweave - now I much prefer it to aida as the fabic is softer and stitches have a lovely vintage feel.

Secondly they're memorable to me as I cross stitched them while commuting into London on the Met line tube last summer (there's nothing like a spot of train-stitching to get people staring!). I used to have a long journey to work so would help the time pass by bringing my latest cross stitch project with me. These cat charts were an odd one to stitch as you stitch each cat on a flat piece of linen so it's hard to picture them once made up! But so worth it when you're done and have sewn them up into 3D toys. Now they sit on my desk here in The Making Spot offices and make me smile whenever I look at them.

If you fancy creating your own versions of Topsy, Flopsy & Mop,  I'm happy to reveal you can now download the cross stitch chart to stitch up your own set (along with instructions for making them up your kittens) over on The Making Spot.

Papercraft party ideas with a vintage twist

As a card maker who loves any excuse to play with paper, I’ve become a bit hooked on looking up handmade party ideas from the craftisphere. Pink Cherry Mama is one of my favourite sources of inspiration.  Pink Cherry’s Etsy store specialises in batch-made party craft ideas with a vintage feel… from lovely antique luggage tags to sumptuous stamped projects with a grungy feel. Check out these Happy Halloween toppers (they come in a trick or treat version too). Stamped spiders with gem bodies = shabby chic meets spooky treat!


Give garlands some paper TLC

String up antique-style garlands using cut up maps

Paper play doesn’t come more perfectly formed than these geometric, handmade garland ideas from Reading-based recycler & papercrafter Bookity on Etsy. All you need to make your own are a few strips of paper & some string, but I love how Bookity has taken a simple concept – paper shapes strung into garlands – to grow a striking set of geometric garlands for all occasions. 

This Handmade paper hearts maps garland – the really cool thing about this one is you get to personalise it by choosing the places that the map strips are cut from. (check out the poetry book-based variety on this idea too – although only for those who can put aside any squeamish thoughts about chopping up their beloved paperbacks!)