Hillarys Blind Country Craft Competition

My fabric has arrived .. but what to make?  On searching for other people who have already posted images of their makes on blogs, I have found a gorgeous re-upholstered chair and cushion, a dress, a purse and a bag.  Maybe I could think of something slightly more adventurous. The fabric itself is so much better than it appeared on line.  I chose the Calluna Amethyst and it is gorgeous.  The colours on the Hillarys website do it no justice.  The hues of amethyst and aubergine against the cream and old gold are beautiful.  It’s a huge temptation to just turn it into cushions for the bedroom – which having just finished painting needs some aubergine/purple detailing.  The fabric weave is very reminiscent of linen with its uneven slubs, which would give it an added textural dimension when hung in a window as a blind.  The looseness of the weave also gives it a lovely  bias stretch, which kind of led me to my decision about what to make with the fabric. It just so happened that after I put the fabric down on my desk, I append to put a pile of paper on top of it, and on the top of the pile was a pattern for an item I’ve been meaning to make for a very long time, but have never found quite the right fabric.  So I think this fabric might have chosen what it wanted to be without any input from me.

Sometimes the fabric chooses what it wants to be ...

If you fancy creating something crafty from this or one of the other great new fabrics in the Hillarys Country Retreat Range, you can find all the details on the Hillarys Website

8th March 2014 – The competition deadline of the 31st is now this month and I have finally found some time to get on with my craft creation.  I decided what I was going to make last month, but life and work always seem to get in the way of the fun stuff .. so by way of an update .. here is the story so far I did decide to make a puppet, a simplified sock puppet with arms.  I’ve never made a puppet before, but with all the fuss at the moment with the new Muppet movie coming out it seemed like a good time to give puppet making a try.  I bought a pattern some years ago from Project Puppet, and have varied the head shape to make it more reptile like, as I thought the fabric pattern looked quite like snake scales. Puppet Head shapes, darted on one side

First thing to do was to cut the puppet head and stitch in a dart that will form the dome of the head. I’ve used the most densely patterned section of the fabric as I really liked its bold and busy feel.

Mouth plate cut from purple felt

Then I cut the mouth plates one from purple felt, which you will see when the puppet opens it’s mouth, and another from stiff card which give the mouth structure.

Head stitched together, with mouth plate inserted

Once the head was sewn together, getting the mouth plate stitched in correctly was quite difficult, on the third attempt I got it in and flat so that the mouth moves properly.  So now it’s onto the puppet body.

Body and head stitched together

The body is made up of two long rhombus shapes, again I used the busiest part of the fabric to match the fabric I had used for the head.  I also used a decorative stitch along the bottom of the body, as I knew it would be on show.  The body was then stitched to the head to form the main part of the puppet. I then added some polyester stuffing to the face and under the chin and it’s beginning to take shape. Then there was a brief hiatus in puppet making whilst I finished re-decorating my house in order to sell it.

27th March 2014 – My armless puppet had been lying in my current project box for a couple of weeks when I got an email from Hillarys Blinds reminding me that the competition deadline was very soon.  Right better get a wiggle on and get her finished.  The next thing to do was her arms.

Arms stitched and stuffed

The arms were quite fiddly to make.  The fabric is folded right sided together, and then stitched along the outlines which I had drawn.  I used a very small stitch so that when the arms were turned right side out there would be less possibility of the fabric fraying and the seams popping opening.  The loose weave and irregular slubs of this fabric are part of it’s beauty, but for delicate work like this, very careful short stitching was needed.  Again the arms were stuffed with polyester fibre fill, leaving gaps at joint points link the wrist, elbow and fingers so that the arms weren’t rigid.  The two rods you can see inserted into the arms in the right hand picture are actually knitting needles. So what does this baby look like now with her arms attached….

Head stuffed and arms rods inserted

She’s nearly there …… Now that the puppet is together the fabric pattern now seems to me to be more like an someone who is covered in paint, an artist who has been working so hard on their piece, that they haven’t noticed that they are now daubed with more paint more than their canvas is.  I think I might be making a very tiny beret for the puppet!

31st March 2014 – Okay so today is deadline day, I’m not usually one to leave things to the very last minute, but selling my flat and looking for a new home has really set me back this week.  There is still quite a lot to do on the puppet, not least the eyes, which according to The Muppet Workshop book of puppets, should be the very last thing you do.  So as I am making a girl puppet, my next decision was her hair.  As she is to be an artist, I thought her hair should be wild and slightly crazy and was reminded of Emma Thompson’s character Sybil Trelawney in the Harry Potter films. I tried various wools and marabou before I decided on two different wools that picked out the aubergine and amethyst from the Calluna Amethyst fabric. What hair to wear?

I wound the wool around a 15cm square of cardboard to make large loops so that once the hair was stitched into place I would be able to ‘mess it up’ to give the puppet the crazy hair I was after.

Loopy hair made by wrapping wool around a piece of box cardboard

After the addition of more loops of wool hair underneath the first hairline around the face, I had enough to start making a messy do. With the hair done, the only thing left to make were her eyes.

Hair stitched in

Her eyes are actually 4cm diameter polystyrene balls cut in half.  Onto these I stuck a strip of deep red dupion silk to edge the eye, and then cut some purple eye lashes from card.  Finally I stuck on a half circle of the Calluna Amethyst.  I really wan’t sure how to do her pupils.  Many of the eyes on the Muppet puppets are black dots, but black dots just didn’t look right,  so I cut two small circles from some light purple cotton, pushed them and a sequin onto a dressmaking pin and hey presto her eyes were done.  They eyes themselves were stuck onto the puppet using a strong glue.

Puppet eyes

So how does she looks all finished? with of course the tiny beret I mentioned earlier.

Finished puppet, the abstract artist with her work Finished puppet Finished puppet, the artist with her work

As a first experience of puppet making this has been quite a learning curve, but having a competition deadline has really spurred me on, to get the puppet finished.  The gorgeous Calluna Amethyst fabric has been the inspiration for this puppet, influencing everything from the colour of her hair and eyes through to her actual character and name – Calluna Amethyst-Blind.

14th April 2014 I think the only way to describe my surprise at winning the Hillary’s Blinds Country Craft Competition would be gob smacked. I happened to be checking my emails in the car park outside Hobbycraft in Watford and to my utter surprise there was the email telling me I had won. The temptation to dash into Hobbycraft and spend all of my prize money was pretty overwhelming, but I managed to restrain myself to three balls of wool and and a sheet of daler board. Making Calluna was a brilliant experience, made even better by knowing that the judges thought she was as great as I do, and having looked through the Pinterest board set up by Hillary’s, I had some very stiff competition. Thank you to the judges at Hillary’s and to everyone who has read this blog post and sent me lovely comments.




Hillarys Blinds – Country Retreat fabric range

Minerva Crafts – 4cm polystyrene balls

Minerva Crafts – Multicoloured wool for hair



13 thoughts on “Hillarys Blind Country Craft Competition

  1. Well done. Love the puppet. I wouldn’t look to see what other people had done until after I had finished my entry so you were braver than me.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I felt I needed to see what other people had made early on to make sure I didn’t make the same thing. It was quite intimidating though, as there were already so many really great makes that had been blogged about. Px

    1. It wouldn’t have occurred to me either unless I had accidentally put the pattern and the fabric together. In my head puppets are always made from ‘muppet fleece’, which they mention on project puppet – is this what you use?

  2. congratulations, a very worthy winner, and I loved her too from the pintrest board. I say go spend in Hobby craft, a great place to enjoy your winnings!

    1. Thank you, the puppet only used up a quarter of the 1m square of fabric, so it could be made from left over fabric scraps. After making the puppet I’ve still got enough left to make the patchwork cushions, that I had originally thought about making for the competition. Px

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