Monthly Archives: May 2019

A Bag – for Buttons!

A few years back I remember picking up a plain calico bag that was in the sale at Hobbycraft.  They usually have bins with sale items near the tills and I succumbed!  It’s been in its packet at the bottom of my basket ever since though as I couldn’t decide what to do with it.

Well, last week I decided to have a go at making some rhubarb and date chutney as we have rhubarb in the garden that needed using up.  (The recipe didn’t say how many jars it would make and I ended up with 8 altogether which is about 6 more than I was expecting – fingers crossed it tastes good!)  Anyway, I knew that I’d be using quite a few red onions, and I also remembered from my afternoon with the lovely Annie on Skye last year, that you can use onion skins for dyeing wool and fabric.  So, with that in mind I made sure I kept all my onion skins to one side after my chutney making marathon.

I found some really helpful instructions on line, followed them to the letter, and was really pleased with the results.  It’s a very simple process and I’m keen to experiment with other natural dyes too now.

Basically, you pop your skins into a large cooking pot (stainless steel or enamel but NOT aluminium), cover them with water, bring to the boil and let them simmer for about an hour.

 

 

 

While the skins are working their magic, pop your bag in the sink in some hot water to soak.

 

 

Once the hour is up, remove the onion skins, take your bag out of the sink and squeeze as much of the water out of it as possible before placing it carefully into the dyebath.

 

 

Use a wooden spoon to make sure all of the bag is submerged in the dye.

 

 

Heat the dye gently for about an hour again and keep moving the bag to ensure all of the fabric gets covered.  After an hour turn off the heat and let the fabric cool.  Once cool you can remove the fabric, but you can also leave it for longer (and even overnight) if you’d like to achieve a slightly darker colour.

 

When you do take your bag out of the dye you’ll need to rinse it in cold water until the water runs clear.  You can then hang it out to dry or pop it over the radiator.

 

I was actually rather pleased with the final colour of the bag (which is closer to the photo above than those below), but still wanted to jazz it up a bit.  In the end I decided to sew on some buttons (I’m sure my button tin is magic – no matter how many I use the tin always seems to be full!)  I selected lots of small buttons and set to work.

I wrote my slogan – Bee Kind – on some translucent baking parchment so that I could position it on the bag to see what it would look like.  I then wrote the words directly onto the bag using a washable pen.  These are great dressmaking tools – you can write on fabric but the writing will disappear as soon as you wash it – very handy indeed!

It was then simply a matter of picking out buttons at random and sewing them on to form the letters.  This took quite a bit of time, and was a little fiddly as I had to keep making sure the bag handles didn’t get in the way, so I did it whilst watching a few episodes of A House Through Time which I can highly recommend!

I’ll definitely be experimenting with more natural dyes and might try a t-shirt next maybe.  In the meantime, I have a lovely colourful bag to add to my collection!

 

 

Mini Noticeboard

I’m definitely one of those people who keep things in ‘safe places’.  You know the places I mean?  They seem a really good idea at the time, but when it comes to actually finding the receipt or piece of paper you need, somehow you can’t quite remember where you put them!

 

What could be better then than a little mini noticeboard so I can clip receipts etc in full view.  I had a few of these mdf mini boards left over from a workshop a few years ago, so thought I’d have a go at decorating one.

 

I had a root around my paper and card stash and found a lovely piece of thin card with a pattern and wording I really liked.

I placed the board onto a piece of baking paper and drew around it, making sure I marked where the holes were too.  I was then able to draw the exact shape I wanted onto the baking paper and cut it out.  Because the baking paper is translucent, it’s easy to place it over the card and position it so that you get it exactly where you want it before drawing around the edges and cutting out the card.

 

I used double sided sticky tape on the back of the card to attach it to the board.

 

 

I thought a couple of buttons might be a nice addition, so had a little play around with various colours and shapes before deciding on two yellow flower buttons (which I attached with small pieces of double sided tape).

 

I then used a gold gel pen to work my way around the edges of the card to give it a bit of definition.

 

 

 

Next it was time to add the two little pegs.  They came in a mini jar and I thought about leaving them as they were (plain wood) but then had a go colouring them in using the gold gel pen.

 

 

I used double sided tape again to attach the pegs to the board, making sure I spaced them evenly apart and the board was almost finished.

 

I was tempted to use some twine to hang the board but settled for a nice piece of yellow ribbon from my stash in the end.  It was just a case of threading it through the holes and knotting it at the back and hey presto, one mini noticeboard!

 

Wedding Drawers

I still have a few bits and pieces left over from my wedding last June, including these gorgeous serviettes.  Like lots of other things, they’ve been living in a basket until I could decide what to do with them.

Well, last week it came to me!

 

 

Now that I’m finally managing to reduce my stash, I’ve been moving things around in my craft room and realised that I could do with some drawers under my desk (an old kitchen table).  We’d recently visited Orange Box North East, a furniture collection and redistribution community interest company where I found a small set of drawers that would go perfectly in the space, and they only cost me £8.  I wanted to use the serviettes to decorate them.

 

Once I got the drawers home, I gave them a good wipe down, but other than that there was no preparation needed.

I gathered together my serviettes, pva/water glue and brush.   Now most decent quality serviettes are 3-ply, ie they’re made up of 3 layers, with only the outer layer being decorated.  When using serviettes for decoupage, you only need the top layer which is really thin.  I found that the bottom layer came away quite easily, but it was slightly trickier to remove the middle plain white layer which seemed to be attached to the patterned outer layer.  In the end I realised that if I ripped these two layers together, then the bottom one would come away slightly allowing me to lift it up and gently pull it away leaving me with the patterned outer layer that I wanted.  I worked my way through the pile until I’d separated all of the layers, and put the white bits to one side as I’m sure there must be something I can do with them (but I’m not quite sure what just yet!)

Next I divided up the patterned layers and worked out how many I could afford to use on each section of the drawers.  I didn’t want to find I’d only got a few left, but still had quite a bit to cover.  I had more of the pink ones than the yellow ones, so decided to just use pink for the drawers themselves, but to use a mixture of pink and yellow for the main shell of the drawers.

Once I knew how many I had to work with, I ripped the serviettes up roughly and mixed in the two designs so that I could just pick them up at random as I worked.  The principle is really simple.  Making sure you don’t use too much glue so that the paper becomes soggy and rips, glue your first piece of paper onto your surface and use your brush to carefully brush it flat and remove any air bubbles and as many of the wrinkles as you can.

 

Continue adding a piece at a time, overlapping them carefully as you go.

There are lots of tutorials showing how to decoupage without wrinkles in your work, but to be honest it’s quite fiddly to do (especially with thin serviettes).  Personally I like the wrinkled look, but if you want yours perfectly flat then I recommend you start with a smaller project and be prepared to take it nice and slow until you perfect the technique.

With practice you’ll realise how much glue to spread on the surface and how much to put on the top of your paper.  You’re aiming for enough so that the piece sticks, but not too much that it rips or moves about which can be really frustrating.  You’ll soon get the hang of it!

Continue working your way over all of the surfaces, remembering to cover all of the bits that will be on view when the drawers are pulled open too.

A larger item like these drawers will take a few days to do, but it’s really therapeutic and thoroughly enjoyable.  Just make sure you take your time, and keep looking over each of the surfaces to make sure you haven’t missed a bit!  Once everywhere is covered, go over the whole thing again with your pva glue to give it a good finish.

Now I’ve got no excuse not to sort out all my paperwork!!

 

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

Since I started my 52 project I’ve used up a few bits and pieces from my ribbon stash, but I’m still left with a big box of oddments that I’ve collected over the years.  It was time that some of them found a new home!

I decided to have a little search on Pinterest for ribbon crafts (not recommended unless you want to come away with ideas for ten other projects that you’re desperate to start too!) and saw a rather lovely ribbon wreath.  As luck would have it I had 2 polystyrene wreaths in my stash and I chose the larger of the two for this project.

 

 

I sorted through all my ribbon and chose a selection of colours that I thought went nicely together.  I then ironed them all and laid them out on the table next to the wreath and my glue gun.

 

 

The idea is nice and simple.  Take your first length of ribbon and glue one end to the back of the wreath.  You then wrap the ribbon around and around making sure you pull it tight and that it overlaps the previous strip of ribbon to ensure there are no gaps at all.

So long as you pull the ribbon nice and tight you’ll only need to glue the beginning and end of each piece of ribbon.  Work your way around the wreath making sure to overlap the ribbon as you go.

Once my wreath was complete I was really chuffed with the colours, but felt that it lacked something to finish it off.

I thought about using it as a picture frame perhaps, but reckoned that the wreath itself was too colourful and would detract from any photo I put behind it.

 

In the end I decided to crochet some flowers and leaves from cotton yarn and glued those on one side.  You don’t even have to sew in the ends if you’re going to glue them, you can just tie them together and snip them !  If you’d like to have a go yourself, there are lots of suitable free patterns on the Attic24 site.

 

 

And there you have it!

I’m about to start sorting out the garden shed, so I can turn it into a mini workspace, and think that might be the ideal place for this new addition to my ever growing wreath collection!

 

 

Let There Be Light!

Well this has to be possibly my quickest project to date!

 

A little while ago we’d been looking to replace the very old lampshade at the top of the stairs (by ‘very old’ I  mean that it wouldn’t have been out of place in the Beamish museum!) However, I really struggled to find anything I liked that didn’t cost a fortune.  In the end I settled for a plain cream shade that was just £4 from Wilko.  Every time I went upstairs I wondered what I could do to liven it up a little, and then remembered a lampshade I’d seen at the lovely Vintage Powder Room and Tea Shop in Whitley Bay – isn’t it gorgeous?!

 

 

Now that I had a plan, I took down the shade and spread out some of my button stash on the kitchen table to see what I could make use of.  Then I plugged in my trusty glue gun!

 

 

 

Whilst I love the totally random, ‘full on’ look of the Vintage Powder Room’s shade, I decided to go for something a little more subtle and opted to decorate the bottom of the shade only.  I measured the circumference so that I could work out how far apart to space my buttons (and check that I’d have enough of the design I chose too).

To help me space the buttons out, I made use of my sewing gauge which was ideal for the job.  The glue gun took no time at all to heat up and then it was simply a case of sticking the buttons on, one at a time, trying not to burn myself with the hot glue!  I decided to space some lovely wooden floral heart buttons out first, and once they were all in place I went back round again adding in some plain wooden hearts.

I may yet take it down again and add a few more buttons, but for now I’m really pleased! 🙂