There’s nothing better on a grey and drizzly Saturday afternoon than spending time with friends – chatting, snacking, and making things! My friend Felicity and I like to tackle new craft projects, and when Norfolk Libraries decided to mark the 2018 Armistice Centenary with a handmade poppy to represent each fallen Norfolk soldier we really wanted to take part.
The poppies can be made from any material you like – felt, wool, paper, card, fabric, or we’ve even had stained glass ones donated. The only stipulations are that they have to be made by hand and we need 15,500 of them before November 11th, 2018. So we decided to have a go!
We had a browse through Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library’s fantastic craft section in search of inspiration and patterns to follow. We were spoilt for choice, but settled on some patterns that required felt and card to start with. The books we chose were: Felt Sew Good by Christine Leech, Everything Oz by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech, and How to Decorate and Embellish Your Fabrics by Laurie Wisbrun. We stocked up on felt and card in red, black and green, bought some black buttons, and prepared ourselves with scissors, needles and thread, and glue.
To ease ourselves in to the crafternoon we started with a simple pattern from “Felt Sew Good.” This just required two dog bone-shaped pieces of red felt, one leaf-shaped piece of green felt, and a black button. We layered the felt pieces on top of each other creating a poppy shape, added the leaf to the back, and the button in the centre, sewed it all together, and we had our first poppy! We were soon making lots of these, and if you’re not handy with the needle and thread you can easily glue the pieces in place.
Next we tried some card folding, with a poppy pattern from “Everything Oz.” This one was a little bit more fiddly, requiring careful cutting, folding, stapling, and gluing. But the instructions in the book were clear with good photos, so we could follow along easily. These card poppies were a bit labour intensive, but looked great when finished.
Finally we went back to the felt, and tried a more elaborate poppy based on a felt flower pattern in “How to Decorate and Embellish Your Fabrics.” We had to cut out the petals by eye as there was no pattern to photocopy and cut out. For the poppy’s centre we cut a long strip of black felt, cut it into a fringe, rolled it up, and sewed it to the middle of the poppy. This one looked great, but did take a long time and is definitely one for the slightly more advanced crafter!
After trying a few different patterns Felicity and I decided that the simple felt poppy from “Felt Sew Good” was the easiest and quickest to produce. The book had lots of different felt flower patterns to try, so you could experiment and make some different styles.
We had lots of fun making these poppies, felt pleased to be taking part in a meaningful craft project, and were pretty happy with our afternoon’s work – thirteen poppies down, 15,487 to go…!
If you’d like to have a go and contribute some handmade poppies, have a look at the project page here and look out for the big launch in November this year.
Rachel Willis – Community Librarian for Local Studies