Tag Archives: crafts

Liberty Patchwork Curtains


For a while now I’d been looking for some curtains for the small window at the top of the stairs, but couldn’t find any I liked the look of.  I didn’t have any large pieces of fabric in my stash either, so hit upon the idea of using my Liberty stash to make some patchwork curtains instead.




Once I’d measured the existing curtains, it really was just a case of sewing my stash fabric together until I had 2 pieces the right size.  I started out thinking about which pieces to put with which, but I ended up going for a random design as there were just so many bits of fabric and I didn’t really have the room to lay them all out and experiment.


I made sure that I pressed all the hems open as I went along to make sure the curtains would lie flat.




Once the patchwork fabric was the right size for the curtains, I hemmed it and sewed some tape (which I had to buy) along the top.






It was then time to gather them to size, pop on the hooks and hey presto!

I wasn’t sure about whether to line the curtains or not, but I’ve got two large cotton sheets waiting in the wings in case they’re needed for the job 🙂

Rag Rug Wreath

I first learnt the traditional craft of proggy mat making about ten years ago when I attended a course to make a proggy Christmas tree which was great fun.  Since then I’ve had a go at hooky mat making and rag rugging too.  They’re all great ways of using up scrap fabric and really easy to learn – just make sure you wear an apron as you’ll get covered in little bits of hessian as you work!


I’d starting making this particular rag rug wreath last year, but since then it had lain abandoned in my WIPs pile.   It was lovely to come across such bright fabric, particularly when the weather outside was so miserable!


Ragged Life have produced an excellent blog post that takes you through all the steps of making your very own hessian wreath, but it’s beautifully simple to do.  Basically, you want to draw a large circle on your hessian (I used a dinner plate to draw around).  You then need a smaller circle inside this one (a smaller plate!) and the space in between the two is where you’ll be doing your rag rugging.   Leave a good hem all the way around your wreath and tack the seams as it will fray terribly otherwise.


Next you need to make a smaller circle still, right  in the centre of the hessian, and it’s useful to stitch all around this to stop it from fraying as you’ll be cutting here later.  (In the photo to the left you can see the thick black line which is where I need to rag rug up to).

I used a selection of different cotton fabrics for my wreath, but you can use whatever you have to hand really.  The cotton frayed a bit but to me that just adds to the rustic look of the wreath.  Cutting it on the bias will reduce the fraying though.

To rag rug a piece of your fabric you hold it behind the hessian, push your rugging tool through the hessian from the front to the back and use the hook to grab hold of your fabric and bring one end of it through to the front.  You then repeat this procedure to bring the other end of your fabric piece to the front of your work, leaving a gap of about 3 holes in between.


You’ll see from the back of the work that you don’t need to fill all of the hessian in.  The fabric flays out on the front and covers the holes so you don’t need to worry too much about where you place the pieces.  Hessian is a very forgiving fabric to work with!

Once you’ve filled in all the space between the two largest circles, you’re ready to attach the hessian to the backing.  To make the backing you need some strong cardboard (I used an old packing box in the garage).  The backing needs to be exactly the same size as the wreath.


Now it’s time to cut out the very centre circle of plain hessian and make a few snips up toward the rag rugging, being careful not to cut into your fabric.



Place the cardboard backing onto the wrong side of the rag rugging and work your way around, stapling the hessian into place as you go.  Make sure you pull it tight.  If you don’t have a staple gun, you can open up an ordinary stapler and use that.



If you like, you can attach a felt backing to the wreath to cover up the staples and the cut hessian, or you can simply attach a piece of ribbon and hang it up ready to be admired!





If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about the history of these traditional crafts, there’s a really handy guide to proggy and hooky produced by the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead here.  It even includes details of how to make your own frame if you fancy having a go at a larger mat.




And Here’s One I Started Earlier …

When I came across this piece of sewing the other day, I realised with shame that it was almost four years since I started it!
I was going to make a label for Coco’s food jar and I started it whilst on holiday down in Wiltshire.  I’d bought some scraps of fabric from a charity shop and hand embroidered ‘Coco’s food’ on a piece of cream linen type fabric before hand stitching that to the larger patterned piece using blanket stitch.

Since then, the sewing has lived at the bottom of a basket until the other day when I decided it was time to finish it!

As you can probably see from the photo above, I’d managed to sew the cream linen on lopsided so the first job was to cut the patterned fabric nice and square.  I then set about finding a suitable backing fabric that I could attach the patterned fabric to and that was long enough to go almost around Coco’s food jar.  I ended up with a rather nice purple material that had small flowers on it.

Once I’d cut this to size I folded over and ironed a small hem all the way around, before sewing all the hems down on the machine.  I’d made sure that the fabric almost joined at the back of the jar, but not quite.  This was so that I could add some elastic that would enable me to pop the label on and off the jar easily in case it needed washing.


After that I placed the multicoloured fabric in the centre of the purple fabric and sewed it in place.


All that remained now was to attach 3 pieces of elastic to the back.  Because the pieces of elastic were so small I just hand sewed them in place on the inside of the label.

And there you have it – one finished piece of sewing and a much prettier food jar for Coco!


Handmade Paper

For a long time now I’ve been meaning to have a go at making paper.  My lovely Dad bought me a deckle and mould a couple of years ago and i finally got the chance to put them into practice over the weekend.  If you don’t happen to have a deckle and mould (and I suspect not many people will!) then you can make your own quite cheaply using picture frames.

Handmade paper is a great way of recycling used paper – non-glossy, without too much black ink on it is what you’re after.  Unfortunately recycled paper isn’t suitable as the fibres are too short and won’t gel together particularly well to form new paper.

Once you’ve collected the paper you’re going to use you need to tear it into thin strips or simply shred it if you’ve got access to a shredder.

It then needs to soak in a bowl of cold water overnight so the fibres soak up as much water as possible.

You’re now ready to start the messy process of making the paper itself, so it’s a good idea to get everything organised.

You’ll need a pile of newspapers on the table, covered with an old towel.  This is going to be where you’ll place your sheets of handmade paper as they come out of the mould (you’ll need plenty of tea towels too – one to lay over each piece of paper to soak up the water).

Next to the towel covered pile of newspapers you need a large container into which you pour cold water to a depth of about 2 inches (it’s better to have too little water than too much as you can always add water later).

Now it’s time to prepare your shredded paper that’s been soaking.  Squeeze a few handfuls out, pop them in the food processor, cover with water and blitz until they form a paste.

Transfer this paste to the shallow water bath on your table and give it a stir.  Repeat the above stages until you’ve turned all your shredded paper into paste and stirred it all in the water bath.

At this stage you can add glitter, scraps of yarn, or dried flowers to the mixture and stir them in carefully.

You’re now ready to make paper!  Holding the mould so that the net section is nearest to you pop the deckle on top of the mould.  The deckle will give you a nice neat edge to your paper.  Holding both the deckle and mould together, slide them into the water bath at an angle of about 45 degrees and gently scoop up some of the water pulp.  Gently withdraw the deckle and mould making sure the pulp is evenly distributed on the netting.  If you give it a little shake as you pull it out of the bath this will help.  Make sure all the water has drained through the netting (if you tilt the deckle and mould the water should drain out of the corner).  It’s really important that your water bath is big enough.  Mine was only just large enough and it was quite a struggle to get the pulp onto the deckle, but it was the largest container I could find.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for something larger that I can use for my next batch!



Lift off the deckle and place a clean tea towel on top of the layer of pulp which will become your paper.  Carefully flip it over onto the pile of newspapers on your table.  If you rub your fingers over the netting then the paper should start to come away from the mould and stick to the tea towel instead.  You can then pop another clean tea towel on top and get on with making your second sheet.  Continue in this way until you’ve used up all of the pulp, layering up your sheets of paper with tea towels between them as you go.


To get as much water out of your paper as possible, pop a chopping board and a heavy pan on top of the pile of papers to weigh them down and leave for a good half hour.



Once the half hour’s up, you can remove the pan etc and take off the top cloth.  You’ll find that the handmade paper sticks to the tea towels.  What you do next is to hang the tea towels, with the paper attached to them, and leave them to dry overnight or longer (mine took two nights).

You should then be able to carefully peel away your handmade paper and give the sheets a gentle iron if the edges have curled up.

I’m definitely going to experiment with adding different bits to the pulp and I might try putting tea bags in the water bath to see if it will give my paper a sepia colour!






Embroidered Flower Paper

Last summer I had great fun making some gorgeous flower paper with the lovely Annie from Dragonfly Studio in Skye.  If you look back to Project 9 you can see exactly how I made the paper, but basically we layered up flowers and leaves between sheets of good quality paper, tied them all together and left them to soak in a basin of water and vinegar for as long as possible.


The result was a wonderful selection of subtle coloured paper with the imprints of what we’d pressed.  Certain foliage worked better than others, but I ended up with a good stash of paper for future projects.



At the time Annie had mentioned the possibility of sewing onto the paper, so I thought I’d have a go at that.


Once I’d chosen my paper, I looked through my embroidery thread collection and picked out a few complimentary colours that I thought would work well.  There was a pale blueish tint to a couple of the flowers, along with browns and greens too, so I selected a few thread options and laid them on the table where I was working so that I could place them on the paper to see which ones worked best.



I knew I’d have to be really careful as the paper would rip easily, and the stitches would have to be fairly well spaced apart or a hole would form if the needle marks were too closer to each other.

The aim was to subtly enhance the shapes of the foliage by stitching along the out edges to highlight certain parts of the picture.  You can see below that I used a selection of chain stitch, running stitch, whipped running stitch and blanket stitch.


All that I need now is to find a frame for the picture and it’ll be ready to hang.


For the moment though, it’s resting on the mantle place so I can keep looking at it in case I decide it needs a little more adding to it.  The hardest part is definitely knowing when enough is enough!


A Bee Tree

There is a wonderful Pass It On Skills group where I live.  They organise all sorts of free sessions for local folk from short story writing to beginner’s Spanish – I really must get along to Cake Club soon!  For Knit In Public day (June 8th), they’ve organised a session at a local park and we’re going to knit bees to hang on a tree to promote the plight of these amazing creatures.

I thought I’d better get some practice in, so set about making some bees as well as some colourful butterflies to keep them company.  There are lots of free patterns on line, but the best bee pattern I could find was by the wonderful Attic 24.  The French knots used for the eyes were quite tricky because of the size of the bees, and tiny beads would work well if you have any.

As for the butterflies, they were a joy to crochet too.  I made 2 using acrylic double knitting yarn, and 2 using cotton (they’re the slightly smaller ones in the photos).  You can find the pattern, by Re-Made by Sam here.


They crochet up in just 3 rounds then you fold them over and tie a row of chain stitches to hold them together.



Once I’d crocheted my bees and butterflies, I needed somewhere for them to live.

I remembered I have my advent poetry tree in the garage and thought that would be ideal. (In case you’re wondering what an advent poetry tree i, every day during advent my lovely husband writes me a little poem and pins it to the tree which is just a few twigs bound together with twine).


In order to hang them, I sewed a loop of ribbon onto the back of them.  It was then just a case of showing them their new home!




For Hands That Do Dishes

I’ve seen so many posts recently about cotton dishcloths that I thought it was about time I made some myself!

There are dozens of patterns available, but basically you’re looking for a simple square.  I thought I’d try 2 crocheted and 2 knitted dishcloths and the plan is to see which is the most efficient.

As far as the crocheted cloths went, I made the first one using the corner to corner pattern and the second was rows of half treble stitches with some different coloured stripes thrown in for added interest!  Just use the hook size recommended for your yarn, and make the cloths as big or small as you like.

Once the squares were finished I put a border around them both to finish them off.  On the half treble square I went all the way around the edges working a double crochet in each stitch (3 in each of the corner stitches).  This is easy on the top and bottom of the square where you have individual stitches to work into, but the right and left sides are slightly trickier because here you’re working into the end of the rows.  Basically you’re just looking to space your stitches out evenly so don’t worry too much about being really precise.

With the corner to corner square I worked a 2 round border.  For the first round, I joined my yarn in one of the chain spaces produced in between each of the treble clusters.  I then worked 2 chain stitches followed by a slip stitch into the next chain space and continued this all the way around the square.  For the second round I worked one double crochet, one half treble and one double crochet into each of the chain links formed on the first round.


For the knitted dishcloths I followed free patterns I found on-line.  You can find them here and here.  They were both really enjoyable to knit and worked up nice and quickly.


Now all that remains is to give them all a try and see which one works best!

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!!