Craft Rocks: Health and Safety with a funky Finnish twist

Craft enthusiast Jo Burgess explores the world of needlecraft in this exclusive column for Mr X Stitch!

One of my favourite places to visit is Helsinki, a beautiful city, full of lovely people. Everyone seems to have a glint in their eye and a passion for fun. On top of that, they love a bit of craft.

We went one Christmas and squeezed in a huge design fair featuring amazing Finnish creations from original makers, the traditional Christmas market in the main square, and what they called the “Women’s Market” which was a lovely craft fair featuring more traditional Finnish makes. On top of that they have a design district, and a huge fabric shop called Eurokangas which is an essential stop on any trip.

But what really caught my eye as we walked around the city in the darkness of December was that almost everyone had a reflective emblem of some sort hanging off their coat so they could be seen more easily by cars. I really wanted to buy one but only seemed to see ones which were aimed at children, or beautifully artistic ones aimed at adults which were quite pricey.

So you know where this is going… I decided to make one of my own.

I ordered some reflective fabric off eBay. I bought a metre of it for £7.50. I barely used £1 worth in this project so have lots left to play with. Firstly I went back in time and pulled out my… wait for it… Spirograph. What a fab toy from yesteryear. Hands up who had one! Hands up who still misses it!

Fabulous toy from my youth, endless possibilities in craft!

I ironed some interfacing onto the back of my fabric to make it stiff, then I drew a shape I liked onto the fabric with the Spirograph and started to stitch it. I used Spirograph outline number 96 and insert 52. I used hole number 6 and drew a flower. The holes in the outside circle are to pin it down but I didn’t do that, I just went for it. It’s best to practice on some paper first, it took me a while to get back into the swing of how Spirograph works. It seemed much easier to manipulate as a kid who didn’t think about it so much 🙂

Craft Rocks: Health and Safety with a funky Finnish twist
Exciting – Spirograph in action!

I was pretty pleased with the final result as I stitched it…

Craft Rocks: Health and Safety with a funky Finnish twist
Stitching the Spirograph flower
Craft Rocks: Health and Safety with a funky Finnish twist
The finished Spirograph flower

When I had finished stitching the flower I used a mug as a template to cut a circle around the stitched piece, and cut another blank piece of fabric the same size. I then stitched them together slowly using the sewing machine and inserting a piece of ribbon to hang it from. I didn’t stuff it as the Finnish ones lie flat, presumably to be wider and larger for reflections.

I then added a keyring fixing I bought off eBay and there you go. Fashionable reflective Finnish safety with a retro toy look. I’ll be hanging it on my coat later today.

Craft Rocks: Health and Safety with a funky Finnish twist
The finished product reflecting and ready to hang on my coat to keep me safe

Our Finnish friend told us they are encouraged to wear the reflectors from a early age and that they are becoming more fashionable these days. As a result they are now available in a variety of shapes and sizes. I think they are a fantastic idea. Whether we realise it or not, most of us wear dark coats and are almost invisible walking across a road in the evening. If we all wore a reflector it would certainly brighten things up – like it does in Finland.

The possibilities for this are endless – what shape would you make yours? Do you have a Finnish one? I’d love to see a photo if you do.

Project costs:

  • Fabric: £1
  • Ribbon: 10p
  • Keyring: 15p
  • Total: £1.25 and safe

Best music to sew reflective fabric to: Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon (it’s easier to avoid them with a reflector)

Best cake for this craft: Tiikerikkakku (A Finnish Tiger Cake, does not contain tiger…)