Tag Archives: craft

52 Weeks Later …

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know all about my 52 and Thrifty Too! project 🙂  If not, then all you need to know is that last year I set myself the challenge of making 52 projects in 52 weeks.  The idea was to try and use up items from my rather large stash of craft materials!  If I didn’t have something I needed, I gave myself a budget of £52 for any other bits and bobs as required, but that was to last me the whole year.

  

Well, I finally manged to complete the challenge!  It’s been a really interesting process and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.  Over the year I’ve tried my hand at different techniques and I’ve made a wide range of items including a pair of curtains, an apron from an old tea towel, a mobile featuring gift tags from my wedding, several wreaths, a French knitting mat, a Liberty project bag, some handmade paper and much more besides.

 

I was surprised by how much I already had that I could make use of, and when I totted up how much I’d spent it came to only £31.93 (which included buying a set of drawers and some paint) meaning that the average cost of each project was only 61p!

Every single one of the 52 projects is detailed in the blog so you can see exactly how I made them.  I hope you enjoy reading about them all and please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, or leave me a comment 🙂

 

I’m enjoying a few weeks off now but am already thinking about another project for later in the year.  Watch this space …

Embroidery Thread Purse

 

I was lucky enough to be given a big box full of fabric bits and pieces recently, one of which was this gorgeous piece of thick woollen fabric (it would have made a gorgeous coat!).  The piece in my box had one straight end which had obviously been cut, whilst the opposite end was the natural selvage and it had a beautiful ruffle effect to it.

The shape and size of the material lent itself beautifully to a small bag or purse, so I set about finding some suitable lining fabric and a couple of buttons.

 

 

I hand stitched the lining in place so that it wouldn’t show up on the front of the bag.

 

 

 

Once the lining was done, I used 2 strands of embroidery thread to sew up the sides using a large, decorative blanket stitch.

 

 

All that was left was to sew on two buttons for decorations, and then pop some press studs under the buttons to close the purse.

   

I think this purse could very well be the new home for my embroidery thread stash!

Paper Bag Noticeboard

My latest project used up some of my ribbon stash and an old copy of Booktime.

These paper bags are so easy to make and are a great way of using up old magazines.  If you have any old gift bags you can take one apart and use it as a template, or simply follow the method below which I discovered here.

 

Take your piece of paper (any size) and fold over a small ‘hem’ along one of the long edges.  This will be the top of your bag (this stage is optional really, but it reinforces the top of the bag where you’re going to punch holes).

Next you mark the centre of your paper and fold the right side and then the left side into the middle so they meet exactly.  Tape the edges.

With the back of the bag facing you fold over the bottom of the bag (as much or as little as you like) then open out each of the sides as in the photo above.

 

Next you fold the bottom half of the base up to the middle and then do the same with the top half.  Tape the join.

 

 

All that’s left to do now is to punch holes at the top and thread your ribbon through.

Thread your ribbon so the two ends are at the front.  You can either glue them together and glue your bow on to cover the join, or do what I did and sew them.  It’s really quick and is nice and secure.

 

Make as many of these bags as you likes, all different sizes

 

 

 

You can use the bags as gift bags for presents, or you can pin them to a notice board and use them to keep your receipts, tickets, bits and pieces etc in.

You could make the bags stronger by putting reinforcement rings around the holes, and popping a piece of cardboard cut to size inside the bag so it sits snuggly on the base.

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

 

Bee Happy!

At last year’s Yarndale festival in Skipton I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by the amazingly talented Jaki Bogg, learning how to make what she referred to as ‘rip and stitch’ brooches.  I’d seen quite a few of these kinds of brooch on Pinterest and was keen to have a go myself – you’ve probably seen them – they tend to feature little sayings or quotes on them and feature a lovely decorative kilt pin.

Needless to say, I didn’t get my brooch finished during the workshop, but brought everything home to finish off at my leisure.  I’ve come across the bits on several occasions over the last few months and I every time I saw them I thought, ‘I really must finished that brooch off’ but somehow never quite got round to it!

 

This is what I brought home with me – the basis of the brooch, along with a small selection of old cotton fabric, a button and some bits of embroidery thread.

 

 

 

When I spread everything out on the table, I remembered that I wasn’t entirely happy with what I’d done so far which is possibly why it’s lain in my basket for so long!  Basically, the brooch consists of a firm-ish piece of wadding cut to whatever shape and size you fancy and then covered in fabric.  I’d attached my fabric using a series of running stitches but I hadn’t stretched it out carefully enough and the bottom section of my brooch wouldn’t lie flat.   To rectify this I simply unpicked the stitches along the bottom and made a better job of spreading out the fabric this time before I sewed another row of running stitches to hold it in place.

During the workshop I’d attached 2 small pieces of ripped cotton on the top section of the brooch using a small running stitch interspersed with cross stitch, and I’d sewn on a button.   Now it was just a case of deciding what to put on next!

I experimented with some ribbon from my stash but decided that the neat edges didn’t really go with the ripped, more rustic style of the brooch (when you rip rather than cut fabric, you get a lovely rough edge). Instead I decided on a piece of rather lovely tie dyed effect fabric which I ripped into a narrow rectangle.  I pinned this in place and popped one of my remaining bee charms on to see what that would look like.

While I was making up my mind about the bee, I decided to stitch my wording onto the brooch and it didn’t take me long to decide on ‘Bee happy’!  Using small stitches, I back-stitched the letters through all the layers of the brooch so that the bottom half of the tie dyed fabric was secured in place too.  I then tried placing the bee charm at the top and a button at the bottom to see what that would look like, and was suitably pleased with the result.

Once I’d sewn both the charm and the button in place, the tie dye fabric was nice and secure without the need for any additional stitches which was great.

At this point, the front was all finished, so it was now a case of fixing the kilt pin in place before tidying up the back.

I wrapped a piece of plain cotton over the hook side of the pin, then sewed a row of small back stitches all the way along as close to the pin as possible.  Once I’d secured the fabric to the pin, I could place it on the back of the brooch, right at the top and pin it in place.

The final step was to back the brooch to hide all the loose ends of thread and to secure the pin in position.  I placed the largest piece of cotton under the brooch and cut all the way around leaving a good sized hem allowance of about 2cms.  I then folded the hem over, and held it in place as I worked my way around attaching the backing to the brooch with a series of tiny stitches.

And there you have it – one ‘Bee happy’ brooch to brighten up a coat or a bag maybe, or even to hang on the wall as a little mini pendant – the choice is yours!

 

 

 

I Want to Ride my Bicycle!

Well we’ve had a few promising days weather wise recently and it got me thinking about getting out on my bike again!  I then remembered that I’d made a start on some rather lovely bike decorations that I’d discovered in this gorgeous book by Shara Ballard and published by David&Charles

 

The project I particularly liked was the bike spoke decoration and after a bit of digging around in boxes I managed to find the pieces that I’d already crocheted using 4ply cotton in a variety of different colours. The book provides patterns for some rather lovely shapes and I just had to make sure I’d made enough of each of them to complete the design.

 

Once I was happy with all the pieces I’d crocheted, it was a case of laying them out on the table and checking how they would fit together.   It took a little experimenting to see what looked best where, but when I’d decided on the final positioning I had to sew them together – this was simply a case of a few stitches at the places where the pieces met.

 

To make the spoke decoration rigid and weather proof, it needed to be varnished, and acrylic  varnish was recommended.   I decided that I’d better do a proper job and bought some spray varnish which I thought would be ideal.  I turned a tray upside down and placed a piece of clingfilm over it.  I then laid the crocheted pieces on top before I started the varnishing – that way they wouldn’t all stick to the tray and I could turn them over once they were dry and do the other side.  I soon discovered however that perhaps the spray varnish wasn’t the best option for use with cotton as I needed multiple coats before it was anywhere near rigid.  In the end I reverted to my trusty pva/glue mixture which worked perfectly – typical!!

Once the spoke decoration was rigid and dry, it was time to fix it to the back wheel of my bike.  To do this, I needed some plastic cable ties.   These I got from Wickes for the princely sum of 99p!  They were much longer than I needed, but it was an easy job to trim the ends once I’d fastened the decoration to the wheel spokes.  I ended up using 8 ties in the end to make sure it was firmly in place.

All in all this was a really satisfying project.  It’s been great to complete another of my WIPS (Works In Progress!) and I’m just waiting for the next sunny day now to get back out again on the bike.  I may even have a go at a few more of the lovely projects in the book!

Valentine Buttons

After a recent framed proggy heart workshop, I was left with a white box frame just begging for some kind of picture to liven it up!   I’ve fancied having a try at a button picture for a while now so I got out my jars of buttons and set to work thinking about a design that might be suitable.

 

After a bit of a play around I decided on a H and a B (for my husband Harry and me) and had a go at sketching out a design.  I used greaseproof paper which I could fold in half then half again to make sure the initials would fit in exactly the right position.

 

 

So far so good, but when I traced the initials onto a piece of card and started to place buttons along the outline of the letters, I soon realised that it just wasn’t going to look good at all!  I loved the 2 heart buttons, but unfortunately even the smallest round buttons in my stash were just too big, so the end result just looked a bit  naff really!

 

So it was back to the drawing board ,,,

Looking at the frame again, and the actual amount of space available, I realised that a simple shape would look best and, with Valentine’s Day looming, a heart seemed the obvious choice.

On another sheet of greaseproof paper I drew a simple heart shape, making sure it fitted neatly inside the mount and, once I was happy with the shape and size, I traced it onto a piece of plain white card.

The next step was to experiment by simply placing a variety of buttons on the heart to see what it would look like before I started gluing them in place.   When this was done, I carefully slid all the buttons over to the left of my heart outline (as in the photo above on the right).  Then I put a bit of UHU glue on the lower part of the heart and gradually moved the buttons across one at a time, pressing them into place as I went.  The glue stayed wet for a while, so it was still possible to slide them around a bit if I wanted to change the design a little to get the best fit.

Once all the buttons were stuck down, I put a sheet of old cardboard on top, then a pile of heavy books on top of that, just to make sure they all stayed in place and also to flatten out the card as the glue had made it buckle slightly.  The next morning the heart was dry, nicely flat and all ready to sellotape to the back of the mount and pop into the frame!

And there you have it, one Valentine’s Button Picture!

 

 

A Paper Bracelet


Well, working my way through my stash has meant that I’ve gradually been able to organise my craft room a little better – although it’s still a long way from finished!  Sorting through a set of drawers I came across some A4 sheets of paper that I’d marbled a few years ago, but never done anything with. It took me a little while to decide what to do with them, but I thought I’d have a go at making some jewellery and I plumped for a bracelet.  I chose 2 designs with a similar colourway and found a sheet of handmade pale lemon paper too which I thought might go quite nicely so added that in as well.

There are lots of on-line tutorials explaining how to make paper beads, but it’s really, really easy to do.  First you decide on how wide you want each of your beads to be – I went for 2cm across.   Next you mark the back of each sheet of paper with cutting lines so that each strip is the desired width at the base and rises to a point at the top (see the photo).  So basically you’re looking to cut out long, thin triangles 🙂

 

 

Once you’ve cut out your strips, it’s time to turn them into beads.  To do this you need a thin knitting needle or skewer and you simply wrap the paper around as tightly as you can, starting from the wide base.  Try and keep the paper perpendicular to the needle so that you end up with a nicely balanced bead and you don’t get the paper veering off to one side of the bead.  Once you’ve wound most of the paper round, and you’re just left with the thin point, paste the point with some pva/water mixture and continue wrapping it around the needle until it’s all gone.  You can then transfer this bead onto another needle to keep it out of the way and let it dry.  Continue in this way, until you have as many beads as you need.  At this point you can paint them all with a couple of coats of pva/water just to strengthen them.

If you remember, as well as my two marbled sheets, I also chose a sheet of handmade paper, but when I started to work with it I found it ripped too easily, so in the end I opted to just use the 2 marbled sheets.  By all means have a good experiment with different types of paper.  These beads would be great made from old magazines or the dozens of take away leaflets that seem to be posted through the door every week!

Once your beads are all dry they’re ready to use.  I dug out some wooden beads to add to my bracelet and had a play around with positioning before I threaded a combination of paper and wooden beads onto a length of invisible thread.  You can have fun experimenting with different combinations before you commit yourself to the final design.

As soon as you’ve made your mind up, you need to fasten off the ends.  If you wanted to make things easier for yourself, you could avoid this stage by simply threading your beads through some elastic thread.  You would then just need to tie the ends and make sure the knot was hidden inside one of the beads.  However, if you want to be a little more sophisticated you will need some jewellery ‘findings’ (basically all the metal bits that enable you to finish off your piece and make it close and stay closed).

You’ll need a clasp, one or two small jump rings and two calottes.  The calottes are tiny shell like pieces that you open out.  There is a small hole in the centre of them, so the idea is that you slip the end of your thread through, tie a good few knots in the thread, then hide the knots in the clasp part of the calotte.  You can simply close the two sides together to hide the knot, or you can add a dab of glue before you close it up just to make sure.  You can then snip off any extra thread that’s poking out of the calotte.  Once you’ve put a calotte on each end, your bracelet is secure and the beads won’t fall off.

You now need to attach a jump ring to one end and a clasp to the other end, in order to be able to fasten your bracelet.  The jump rings have a small cut in them so that you can hold either side of the cut with a pair of pliers, move one pair forwards and the other backwards to open up a slight gap.  Once you have a little gap you can slide the clasp through, then take up your pliers and reverse the procedure to close up the gap thereby securing the clasp.

And here’s the finished result!

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in having a go at any more jewellery projects, there’s a great introduction to jewellery making produced by Beads Unlimited, and I’d love to see photos of anything you make 🙂