Search This Blog


Welcome to the Toadstool Cottage Crafts blog.

Hi I'm Pip and this is my blog about the behind the scenes goings on of my business - Toadstool Cottage Crafts. I've always loved craft and sewing but last year I thought I'd see if I could make it into a business.

This blog is a way of sharing my journey with you the ups and downs the successes and disasters (and there have been a few!). I know it will at least give you something to laugh at, but hope it will provide you with tips and inspiration for your own craft endeavours! If you have a question or something to say just leave me a comment.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Owl and the P̶u̶s̶s̶y̶c̶a̶t̶ Elephant.

I have just completed my first commission - how exciting is that?

I'm not sure how excited you are, but I am very excited, it makes me feel really special and I am very proud.

Apparently in Brazil there is a tradition of giving small presents to friends and family when they come to visit your new-born. Fancy having to think about this as well as having to think about giving birth! So glad I am not from Brazil.

I was asked to make some fragrant pouches themed on animals or birds

The one thing that I can't do - well actually there are hundreds of things that I can't do, but the one that is relevant here - is draw. I can copy but I have absolutely no ability to draw. So I trawled through the internet, searched through various books, took inspiration from here and there and mushed (that's a good word) it all up and came up with some ideas and lots of sketches.

I tweaked a bit here and there and changed the sizes and finished off with some chubby little baby owls with sleeping eyes. I then traced out all the different areas for the different fabrics, body, tummy, eyes and beak. I do think they are rather gorgeous.


I really enjoyed mixing and matching the fabrics and the ribbons and coordinating the embroidery floss for the eyes - I know, simple things - but it was fun!

The original order was for around 15 to 20, so I made 21. Why? I don't know, but I did.

These are the chosen 15.


I had to resort to buying the 'aromatic dried lavender buds'  from the internet, I searched and searched locally but no one stocked it, not even the garden centres! The lavender I choose was being sold by weight - who knows the weight of lavender required to stuff an owl's tummy?

Obviously I don't because I do have quite a considerable amount left over!

Fast forward several days and I went into town, probably just for a coffee, but I'm really glad I went because the Elephant Parade was in the shopping precincts. Check out the website to see the beautiful elephants and for all sorts of information. I think I have a bit of a soft spot for elephants, I have always wanted a baby elephant in the back garden - but my husband won't let me have one! How mean is that?

The elephants were gorgeous, they were so colourful and vibrant and then I had a flash of inspiration, I rarely get these flashes, but I decided to make some elephants to use up my remaining lavender - who knows the weight of  lavender required to stuff an elephant's tummy????


I still seem to have a considerable amount of lavender left over so next time I really think I need a bigger animal. I may try some woolly mammoths ....

If you pop along to my new Etsy shop you will see a few of the Owls and Elephants.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Shall I tidy? Shall I craft?

I always like to have more than one project on the go at once, now I have two theories for why I do this

1. I am so intelligent that I become easily bored and distracted.  

2. I simply cannot finish one thing before I start another.

My house therefore is full of dozens and dozens of half-finished projects so my tidying regime (which is usually non-existent) consists of putting everything away into plastic carrier bags and moving them to another room – basically out of sight, out of mind.

You should try it, it works really well!

Eventually I get sick of all the carrier bags and decide to tidy them away properly – now generally what happens is that I am so excited about what I find in the bags…

’Wow! I’ve been looking for this for weeks’…

‘I forgot I even bought these! …
that I never actually empty all the bags and put everything away properly because I get distracted by what I have found! And so the cycle begins all over again!

This last week I tried to tidy away some bags, but it just didn’t work because in the second bag I opened I found a stash of felt….

Shall I tidy?  

Shall I craft?

Shall I tidy?

Shall I craft?

Decisions, decisions…I just don’t know.

I’m sorry to say that the tidying lost out… I did some crafting instead!

Look what I made.

They are really simple to make and very therapeutic – I find anything to do with toadstools therapeutic; I think it is because they are so cute!
This is not a tutorial as such; this is just what I did to give you an idea of how it's done!

First I drew a picture of a toadstool, and then I separated it into the red top and the cream/ beige (maybe even mushroom) coloured stalk. I extended the stalk a little so that I could push it up inside the red top.

I cut 2 tops and 2 stalks (one front and one back) from felt, cut a length of ribbon and found some white buttons.

I used matching embroidery threads to sew my toadstool, but you could use any thread.

First I sewed the two stalks together (one front and one back), I chose to do blanket stitch but you could use running stitches or over sew the edges.

Then I sewed the buttons onto the tops, I put three buttons on one piece – the front, and two buttons onto the other piece – the back. If you sew the buttons on before you sew the two pieces together then all the starting and finishing stitches are hidden inside the toadstool top. Very clever!

I then placed the front and back tops together, sandwiching the ribbon loop at the top and pushed the stalk into place at the bottom, holding everything together I sewed around the edge of the top.

Finishing it all off with a key ring slipped through the ribbon loop and there you have it a beautiful toadstool key ring.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Opening an Etsy shop – How difficult can it be?

I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time but have been worried about what to write for my first blog. First impressions count and I want to make a good one, make people think I know what I am talking about, know what I’m doing.
Opening an Etsy shop – How difficult can it be?
A friend very kindly invited me to use her link to open my first Etsy shop – what could be easier, a million people have already done it….
I have been sitting here in front of my laptop all day (such a good job I have nothing else to do!) 
 I have Googled and Googled, and now I have about 12 different tabs open all giving me the inside information I need to know, the hints and tips, the dummies guide etc.
I am ready.
I open up Etsy and fall at the first hurdle.
What is the difference between my username and my shop name??
Several tabs later I choose my username and try again.
No, that doesn’t work as my chosen username is not available, about 6 attempts later and I have a username!
Onwards and upwards as they say, and I click to enter my shop name, no problems here I mean I know what my shop name is I trade under it at all the craft fairs, I have my own website etc. etc.  However it is too long for Etsy!!
 After another 20 minutes of frustration I have come up with a shortened alternative and this time it is accepted. By now it is dark and I need to put the lights on so I can actually see the keys on my laptop as the glow from the screen is no longer sufficient. I decide to log out of Etsy, put the lights on, close the curtains, feed the dog and have a cup of coffee.
Returning with a little more enthusiasm I search out my friend’s e mail and click on her link. Oh dear. The link takes me to the ‘opening a shop’ screen and there it tells me something along the lines of – You can’t use this link because you already have a shop!
I need to use the link because it gives me some free listings but more importantly it gives my friend some free listings and I can’t lose those for her, so I decide to contact Etsy and ask for their help to reinstate the link. After scrolling through all sorts of Frequently Asked Questions – funnily enough there was not a single one that was relevant to my problem! - I eventually get to the send an email option. I explain my stupidity and ask for their help, press the send button and whoops there is a problem.
 Please wait a while and then refresh this page.
I wait and then refresh and nothing.
So I wait and then refresh and still nothing.
Again I wait and then refresh and again still nothing.
Finally the page reopens and the option to send an email is presented to me, so I retype my email and send it again. But still there is a problem and I have to refresh the page another two times.
Now some of you may already be ahead of me….but in the end I checked my emails and yes you’ve guessed correctly there I have  7 emails from Etsy saying thank you for your enquiry, we will be in touch.
So now I am waiting…and in the meantime I thought I would start my blog!