• Mary Jane

Bluebells in the woods

If you go down to the woods at Severndroog Castle in Greenwich (South East London) sometime during April, you'll find a carpet of magical bluebells. The sight of these dainty flowers which herald spring all over the UK, is always welcome, especially after a harsh winter when they somehow manage to lift the spirits with their wash of hazy colour.

These gorgeous blooms with their delicately nodding heads were my inspiration when asked to create a special project for Severndroog's Midsummer Fayre which starts over the bank holiday. Delving into the archives, I researched vintage flower making techniques and designed this pretty felt brooch. It's reminiscent of some of the jewellery made during the 1940's when make-do and mend was the order of the day. Simple, inexpensive materials were used in the most imaginative of ways to create vibrant accessories which brightened up the rather drab wartime wardrobe. If you fancy having a go at making my WW2/Severndroog inspired bluebell brooch then read on!

You'll need:

The pattern below

Blue and green felt squares in a couple of different shades

Small sharp scissors

Pinking shears (optional)

A few pins

Needle and thread (in blue and green to match your felt)

A small piece of narrow wire and some pliers

Double sided stamens (find them on the internet or make your own from yellow felt - see below)

A brooch back or safety pin

Clear glue

Sewing machine (optional)

How to make your bluebell brooch

First of all draw and cut out these three pattern pieces from paper - two leaves and a little rectangle for the flowers. The leaves are about 2cm wide in the middle and narrower towards the top and bottom. Also cut out two stem pieces from green felt (they should measure around 12.5cm long x 2cm wide).

Fold each stem piece in half length-ways and sew down one side to create a narrow tube just a few millimetres wide. You can either sew by hand using tiny stitches or use the sewing machine, whichever you prefer. Trim the edges neatly. Next, using the pliers, cut a length of narrow wire (a little longer than the stem) and bend each end over to make it safe. insert it into one long stem. Cut the other stem in half (no wire needed in this one).

Using the pattern, cut out four large leaves and two smaller leaves in various shades of green felt. Cut them out in pairs and sew each pair together down the middle (again either by hand or using the machine). Lay to one side and then cut out five of the little rectangles in blue felt for the bells. If you have pinking shears use them to cut one side of each rectangle to create a zig zag edge.

Prepare the five bells by folding each rectangle in two and whip-stitching the side edge together as shown. Lay to one side and move onto the stamens.

Sew two stamens to both ends of each short stem, and to one end of the long stem catching the wire at the same time so it's secure. If you don't have stamens, don't worry....just use a little piece of yellow felt rolled up to create a home-made stamen as illustrated below.

You can see it works just as well!

Now take a bell and do a tiny running stitch around the bottom inserting it over one set of stamens and securing in place.

Put the other bells over the remaining stamens - that's five altogether. Pop your finger into each bell to open up the cup shape.

Now you can assemble the brooch.

Bend over the top of the long stem and fold a short stem in two sewing it just below the top of the first flower. Sew the second short stem in place just under it. Try to arrange the bells so that the joins are positioned towards the back - but don't worry too much if they odd join shows. It's make-do-and mend after all!

When you've positioned all the bells, then you can start arranging the leaves.

Place the first large leaf at the back of the stem and sew it into place.

Then build up your bluebell by sticking the next two leaves into position with clear glue.

Try to leave the leaves free at the top so the flower doesn't look too rigid.

Finally sew a brooch back or safety pin to the top third of the bluebell making sure you sew it to the wired part of the flower so it doesn't flop around. Pin your brooch in place and celebrate midsummer!

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