Monday, 21 April 2014

Plastic Canvas Blog Hop - Snowflakes

When Diane of Craftypod put out a call at the start of the year, for bloggers interested in joining in with her 2014 Plastic Canvas Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance. Especially because Diane had completely converted me into a Plastic Canvas fan with her 2013 Blog Hop

There were a few things that I really appreciated about it: 
  • it's incredibly versatile - just look at the variety of projects it's been used for so far in this blog hop.
  • it's ideal to do relaxing on the sofa with your feet up.
  • it's an easy, portable craft - so perfect for doing while watching swimming lessons for instance! 
  • it's very child friendly, if you give it a go and you have young children then they're sure to want to join in - and they can.
We had lots of fun making bunting with it in the Autumn and I've been looking out for a good excuse to try something else with it ever since. But, depending on what you make, it can be quite time consuming. So, since I didn't want to spend hours making just anything for the sake of being in a Blog Hop, I had a wander around my house looking for inspiration on what I'd actually like to make with it. 

At the time, I'd just given this window a bit of post Christmas decoration, but it was looking far too bare and in need of more snowflakes. 

My Eureka moment - Snowflakes! The perfect Plastic Canvas (PC) project for me. Obviously snowflake making was more seasonally appropriate back then in January! But never mind, I'm going to be very organised for next Winter now (and I did do quite a bit of the making watching 'Frozen' with the girls - which made it feel perfectly OK).

To be honest I thought it was going to be very straightforward. I gathered my sheet of PC (7 count), my white wool (thrifted - very cheap way of finding wool for small projects) and a blunt needle with a good big eye. Then I lazily printed up a simple snowflake from an online colouring page site and cut the PC to that shape.

As soon as I started the stitching I realised it wasn't quite as straightforward as I'd thought. The snowflake shape had forced me to cut a lot of the PC sheet at an angle, giving me jagged edges, and holes that were impossible to sew in a neat, uniform way.

It was just a mess.

So I decided I'd better give it all a bit more thought, and I started looking at snowflake shapes in more detail. I found a great web site devoted to all things snowy - Here are some photos of actual, real snowflakes from there.

I have to admit I got all interested in the whole snowflake formation process, they really are amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I have to share it with you too!

'There is no blueprint or genetic code that guides the growth of a snowflake, yet marvelously complex structures appear, quite literally out of thin air. The six arms of a snow crystal all grow independently. But since they grow under the same randomly changing conditions, all six may end up with similar shapes. However the vast majority of snow crystals are not very symmetrical. Near-perfect, symmetrical snow crystals are fun to look at, but they are not common.

The story is pretty simple, really, nicely encapsulated in the diagram above.  And it's even a bit amazing, when you stop to ponder it -- the whole complex, beautiful, symmetrical structure of a snow crystal simply arises spontaneously, quite literally out of thin air, as it tumbles through the clouds.' 

There's lots more on the web site, that's just a few snippets, paraphrased a little, to whet your appetites! Science as well as Plastic Canvas!

There's also a link to a fun site where you can design your own snowflakes online and set them off falling - snowdays. Never mind the children, I had to make a few!

But anyway, back to the PC.

So, I needed to try and avoid cutting across the PC at angles. My snowflakes needed 6 sides but I didn't need to get too hung up on them being perfectly symmetrical, or being any one, particular design. It was time to experiment a bit more.

I started off with this shape.

There are a couple of really useful video clips over at Craftypod, on how to begin/end your stitching and sewing a whip stitch around the edge of your project.  And I also found these stitch tutorials on the lovely blog, Gingerbread Snowflakes, really helpful last year. Embracing the freedom of my 'not completely symmetrical snowflakes forming spontaneously as they tumbled through the clouds', I played around with my stitches.

I've left the little, sticky out bits undone at the moment.

Once I had 3 stitched, I began sewing them together, just with ordinary white cotton now.

And then I switched back to my wool to finish my little sticky out bits, sewing them all together continuously, which helped to stabilise the structure.

I finished it up with an old, glass button in the centre, and here it is:

When we made our bunting back in the Autumn, I was really picky about making sure that none of the PC actually showed at all. But with the snowflakes, I wanted to give them a light and lacey feel, and didn't worry at all about plastic canvas showing - either around the edge or in the middle. Personally, I think it adds to the snowflake effect.

Now I tried a variation. 

The hexagon in the centre helped to stabilise this one.

This one has beads sewn on each of the hexagons, but they're quite difficult to see in a photo.
And then I thought it was time for a different approach and tried cutting the snowflake out in one solid piece. I just snipped away with a pair of sharp, straight, nail scissors, starting at one of the 6 points and working my way around, always making sure I didn't cut across the mini squares. Mine isn't quite symmetrical, but if you did want it to be, then actually drawing your design on your sheet before cutting it would be much more sensible.

I added beads with white cotton again.

And here it is finished.

I'm not so keen on this one, it looks much heavier and not delicate enough to me. Almost like a strange beetle rather than a snowflake. But every snowflake is different so who's to say there can't be a beetle-like one?

One more to go, again a solid, one piece snowflake, but this time trying to make it a little more delicate.

Again it has hard to spot beads sewn into it!

And then to hang them in my window display.

I found them really difficult to photograph, what with the glare and reflection from the window, and the fact that they move around a little, so you'll just have to take my word that they look lovely and are just what was needed there!

I think this thin design was my favourite:

But they are all beautiful in their own way, whether with the sunshine shining through them.

Or into the evening.

The only trouble is that with my new understanding and appreciation of snowflakes, I now think that my finally finished Winter embroidery hoop pictures aren't quite right after all.


The words should perhaps be:

'Every snowflake is different, no snowflake is perfect, every snowflake is amazing and beautiful'

The original was inspired by one of our favourite Wintry children's books, and, in the book, is very much a message about people as much as snowflakes. Perhaps the amended version is an even better message.

Anyway, make sure you have a browse through the other wonderful stops on the Blog Hop, and remember it's continuing all this week. Hope you'll be inspired to give Plastic Canvas a go.



  1. OMG!!! You really did it! Snowflakes! Very cool snowflakes! I loved the tutorial because it was very trial and error based and I think it helps us to overcome our "at first intimidation" when confronted with a whole piece of untouched canvas - just do it and see if it works!!! I went through some of the same steps and revisions while working out my own "entry" - so I am thinking this approach to your tutorial is very helpful. AND I like that you did not (as I did) get all hung up on thinking every single little edge and hole had to disappear under yarn!!! Actually, the pc provides a "crystally" or frosty appearance around the edges!! Got more canvas! Got lots of white thrifted yarn! GOT to play!

  2. Cute snowflakes!!! And I love the bunting, too. :)

  3. I'm a snowflake addict so thanks for the link. I'm working on beaded ones now. I love what you did with the plastic canvas, they look wonderful.

  4. Lovely! I'm working on a snowflake tree topper and several ornaments for a friend for her birthday. Thanks for the link. Be well.

  5. They are beautiful! But please don't wish for it to snow. LOL!!! Jokes aside, you are so talented!


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