What do you get for your niece and nephew when you’re the coolest aunt in the world? Why, handmade teddy bears, of course! It’s a project that has been six months in the making and now the bears are finally wrapped up and flying across the sea to reach the little ones in Ireland in time for Christmas. Now, I’m not saying that it took me six months to actually sew the bears – the making part is quite a simple process (thanks to the new teddy bear pattern I used) – it was all the planning that went into the project that took some time and I’ll tell you why.I wanted to make a keepsake teddy bear for each child, so I wanted them to be personalised in some way. When I first opened up the pattern I could see that it would be easy to make the pattern pieces fit into items of my niece and nephew’s clothing. What better way to make a personalised gift, and to upcycle old clothing at the same time, than to reuse their baby clothes to make them a teddy bear? I asked their parents if they had any of their tiny outfits left, and luckily they did. I asked for non-stretchy items (which are easier to sew) and it wasn’t long before a bag of baby clothes arrived. I got the newly launched Charlie teddy bear pattern from Amazing Craft and studied the instructions from front to back before getting started. There’s only a handful of pattern pieces and the construction seemed so much more straightforward than bear patterns I’ve used in the past. I was eager to get started and see just how the pattern worked. I’m pleased to report that this is the most simple-to-use set of instructions, and having fewer pattern pieces meant much less tacking, pinning and fiddling. I whizzed up the arms and legs in no time at all. The body is the only piece that has any darts in it, and even then there’s only two small darts so it’s really uncomplicated to construct. I guess the pattern does what it says on the cover – it truly is ‘bear making for beginners’ and it couldn’t be easier to follow. It’s available as printed instructions (which I got, at £6.99) or as a digital download to print at home for only £4.99. The little trousers were the perfect base to make the arms and legs of the teddies – the linen fabric wasn’t at all stretchy and I could make a feature out of the details on the trousers. I positioned the pattern pieces so that my niece’s bear would have the spotty trim from the trousers around the outside of the paws, and my nephew’s bear has tiny pockets on the legs. I could even reuse the lining of my nephew’s trousers to make a soft inner arm, and I added little monster designs from his tiny t-shirt to make contrasting paws and feet. I used a floral baby-grow to make the insides my of niece’s bear’s arms and even the bears’ ears have a patterned underside. I wanted the bears to be safe for the little ones to carry around, so I got some safety eyes and plastic safety joints from Amazing Craft. This means that the head, arms and legs are poseable and the eyes can’t be bitten off because they pop together and clamp into place. In fact, I couldn’t even get the joints apart again if I tried! My tip for using these is to get the position of the arms and legs right first time, because you won’t be able to take them off again if they’re in the wrong place, so double-check the position before pushing the joints together. Soaking the joints in hot water for a minute will make them a littler easier to pop together. The plastic joints are also safe to go in the washing machine, which is good news because we all know how mucky kid’s teddies get!
I had a lovely surprise this week when I flicked through the winter issue of Oxfam newspaper: my festive wreath project has been featured in the publication! Of course, Oxfam had been in touch earlier this year to ask permission to use my content and, seeing as I’d created it for the Oxfam Fashion blog in the first place, I was happy to oblige.In fact, I was over the moon! It’s amazing to think that my little thrifty project is being printed in a real newspaper and distributed to Oxfam customers, volunteers and donors all around the country. Wow, I’m so chuffed!The feature contains step-by-step photos to show readers how to use scrap fabrics and ends of ribbon to make a funky Christmas wreath. I loved creating this project, enjoyed sharing it on my blog and on the Oxfam website, and now I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s been immortalised in print! Woo!You can find this project and all my other blog posts on my Oxfam blogger profile, and while you’re there, have a look around the Oxfam fashion blog and read all the interesting finds and projects that the other volunteer writers have been working on.
Over the past month I’ve been busier than an elf in Santas workshop – yes, I’ve been DIYing lots of festive projects ready to share with you on the blog this December. And what better way to kick off the month than with a simple gift project – a felt camera case.This easy-sew project lets you create a custom-made case for your specific camera, with no difficult measuring or pattern-making. In fact, it couldn’t be easier – you simply lie the camera on the piece of felt, pin the pouch in place and stitch it up!I use straight stitch throughout the project so this can easily be done by hand or on a sewing machine. The fastening is sticky-backed velcro dots so no need to make a difficult button-hole, and the button I stitch onto the front flap is purely decorative, so you could even give this step a miss if you want to make the project even easier.All you need to make this quick and easy project is a piece of felt, pins, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), a button, velcro dots, a ruler and scissors. All the instructions are on the video so have a watch and pause (or rewind) the tutorial whenever you need to. And once you’ve got the basics, you can easily adapt this case to fit other things too; ipads, make-up, mobile phones and so on.
Great news! I’ve been featured in the current issue of Sew Style magazine! When one of the writers from this fantastic magazine got in touch back in the summer I was really excited. I happily answered all her interview questions and even emailed over a couple of photos from my blog, just in case! Thankfully, the magazine decided to include me in their handmade home feature, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name was first on the page! SO exciting!
I’d been included in the homewares round-up along with four talented bloggers, instagrammers and Etsy creators. The article is all about stitching soft furnishings for the home and it was really interesting to read about all the the other makers’ decorating adventures and home inspirations. Below are the full-size pages from the magazine so that you can have a read through. I hope that everyone finds it as interesting as I do to read through each of these crafters’ interviews too! Check out the Sew Style website for plenty of sewing tips and project inspirations.
Finding the perfect style to suit your everyday life can be difficult, especially when you need to save money. Whether you work in an office, as a shop assistant or are a student most people like to put a little effort into their daily outfits, with an increasing amount of cash being handed over to get the latest trends. However, it is likely that a new £50 sweater is made in the same factory that produces a £10 version. This does make you wonder if it is truly worth it to splash the cash on an item with a label. So, just what are the thrifty tricks to create the ultimate look without breaking the bank?
Let us start with the basics. You only need a few items in your wardrobe to be able to create a variety of gorgeous looks. A white shirt, for example, can be styled from something plain to a head-turning top. The clue is to be creative with your accessories as they are a lot cheaper than clothes, so are ideal for being a thrifty fashionista. A leather belt and a chunky necklace go a long way with a white shirt to create a great multi-purpose look. It’s great as a working daytime look suit or could be made more casual with jeans and boots for a girls’ night out.
Another factor to be considered on the journey to crafting a thrifty look is choosing where to shop. Charity shops and supermarket clothing isles can be a treasure trove of fashion goodness. You never know when you will find a bargain buy so keep on the lookout for when you’re getting your food shopping! I found a fantastic vintage section in my local charity shop and all of the items were priced at less-than high street prices. Plus the money goes to a good cause so that’s a great place to start when you’re looking for a few unique items to funk up your basics. Plenty of thrifty resale sites (such as Depop, Gumtree and Shpock) keep popping up on the web so browse these sites to find bargain fashion buys.
Today’s blog post is a super-fast DIY project to add a little personality to an off-the-peg high street top. Yes, I’m doing a Primark hack, and I don’t care who knows it! It’s such a quick project that I did it just half an hour before heading out to a party wearing the top. AND I had time to photograph it for you..! Now, that’s quick, eh? Read on to find out how I added a little pizzazz (or should I say pom-poms?) to my new cotton top.I picked up this heart print top from Primark for £6 only a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those oversize tops in breezy cotton so it’s great on hot days, plus it’ll look fab under a cardi for winter too, so I couldn’t resist it. This same top is also available in floral prints, geometric patterns and plenty of different colours, so have a look next time you’re in Primark and grab a couple to play around with at home. I bought the top in a too-small size 8. This is because I didn’t want the top to be ‘too’ blousey and wanted it to sit better on my shoulders. I know that the design is supposed to be oversize, but I preferred how the size 8 fit me and I wanted to add some on-trend side-splits so it didn’t matter if it was a little tight over the hips.While I was out shopping, I also picked up some mini pom-pom trim from the haberdashery. I got 1.5m just in case, but actually 1 metre was more than enough. This cost me £1.65 in total for the trim, and some other colours were even lower in price so I might pop back for a bright yellow soon! I was very excited to turn a standard high street top into something a little more unique so I hurried home to start sewing. Adding splits and pom-poms works well on any cotton or lightweight top, because you don’t have to worry about the stretch of the fabric. Here’s how to do this make-it-your-own project…Step 1. Put on the top and decide where you would like the side splits to come up to. Mark it with a pin, then fold in half down the centre to check that the splits go up to the same point on both sides.
Step 2. Carefully unpick the seam up to this point. I was rather impatient and cut straight through the fabric but if you unpick it, you’ll have a seam allowance on each side which makes turning back a hem easier!
I’m taking glamping to the next level. Yes, I’m talking about camping indoors. Okay, maybe this playden for the little ones isn’t quite waterproof, so it’s not really festival-friendly. And it’s more a playhouse than a stayhouse. Even so, it’s something that my nephew really wanted – his very own campervan, just like daddy. One sunny afternoon I set about making a mini-version of a VW camper especially for him, and actually stitched it up in my own caravan workshop. How many caravans went into making this playhouse? At least two! Read on to find out how to make a mini camper den for your children, your friend’s little ones or your nephews and nieces.
The campervan den is actually a table cover. Its frame is created by the dining table so the first step is to take the measurements of the table you’re planning to use. It could be a fold out picnic table, a 8 person dining table, whatever kind of table you have at home is fine, as long as the kids can sit underneath it. The table will determine the side of the playhouse you’ll be able to make so measure the top and each side so that you have the measurements you’ll need to cut out a cover from fabric. I used the measurements to make a paper template of all four sides and the top. I then divided the sides into thirds, cutting the top section out of strong white fabric, and the bottom two-thirds from green canvas. The top was the same white fabric and I simply cut one of the longer sizes in half to create a door entrance. If you want to create a VW campervan effect on the front of the cover, cut a ‘V’ shape at the bottom of the white fabric to extend into the green area. I drew the symbol on the fabric using a permanent pen, but you could sew on the shape at this stage if you prefer.Use a cereal box to make a template for rounded window holes. When you’re happy with the size of the windows, trace two holes onto the front white piece of fabric, two on the side piece, one on each ‘door’ and one window on the back piece. Cut out the holes and then – the fun part – I used some sparkly silver tulle to cover the windows.
Did you spot this news on my Twitter feed earlier this week? I’ve been tweeting and instagraming all week long because I’m just SO excited to be featured on one of my favourite sites. When Cut Out + Keep got in touch to invite me to be their Crafty Superstar, I was literally bouncing around at my desk!I sent over my signed photo as soon as I could and I loved every minute of the interview process – I felt like such a star! I couldn’t wait for ‘my’ week as Crafty Superstar and for my DIY projects to be shared with all their readers. You can check out my interview and see 4 of my crafts on the site right now.
Cut Out + Keep are sharing my thrifty projects every day this week. My pom-pom DIY has already gone live on Monday, as has my no-sew t-shirt on Tuesday. My distressed chair upcycling project was featured on Wednesday and I’m yet to see what’s going live today – I find it really exciting when I get a notification ping through that another of my projects has been published!I love visiting Cut Out + Keep for plenty of inspiration for recipes, sewing ideas, craft projects and furniture DIYs. I’ve even been inspired to try to learn to knit (you know, something more technical than just straight rows!) thanks to their knitting and crochet section. It’s like Pinterest but with real crafters. No everyone on the site has a blog or is a pro, it’s just a very welcoming community of enthusiastic makers who want to share their latest projects. Amazing stuff.I’m SO thrilled to join so many other fantastic crafters in the Crafty Superstars hall of fame and I still can’t really believe that Cut Out + Keep picked me to feature! Please check out my Crafty Superstar page if you get a chance and follow along with all 7 days of my projects as they are published. And do let me know what you think!
ESo we’re already in the middle of a lovely 4-day break over Easter and I thought I’d better share a quick round up of all my Easter-related blog posts for you. I really feel like I have lots of spare time over Easter and it allows me to make some easy weekend craft projects and lets me spend time creating something fun with the little ones. I’ve made some simple Easter pudding recipes that would be great for Easter lunch, and some classic cornflake cakes you can make with the kids too. Get your crafting stuff together, pull on that apron and start creating! Here’s some inspiration for you to get started:
What do you think of these quick and easy DIY projects and recipe ideas? Check out each of the step-by-step tutorials by clicking on the pink links above. What do you like to do over the Easter weekend? I hope you all have a lovely break and I’ll catch up with you next week!
What are your plans for the weekend? Not all that busy? Well I’ve just found out about something that I’d love you to get involved with. A series of special events is taking place in and around London this weekend and, if you’re anything like me, I think you’d love to go to some (or all!) of it. Yes, if you’re a thrifty-minded soul with a love of fashion (and all things earth-friendy) I know you’re going to love this… So, what on earth am I talking about? Well, this weekend the social change charity Hubbub are teaming up with the fabulous gang at Rags Revival to host a series of re-fashion events. Any idea what that means? I had no clue until I started looking into it; the re-fashion events are a social experiment to encourage and help people extend the life of their clothes, through a series of exciting workshops and fun clothes-swapping events. The events will take place across the weekends of 23rd and 24th January as well as the 30th and 31st January 2016 and, best of all, the experiment is a success and enough people head to these fun activities, the re-fashion events will be rolled out nationally. The fact that 1/3 of our wardrobes remain unworn is one of those ‘urban myths’ yet Hubbub has confirmed that it’s true! According to new research from Hubbub the underused clothing lurking in our wardrobes is worth £30billion, and that’s a figure that has really shocked this thrifty gal! I admit, I too have a few things in my wardrobe that I never wear so why am I hanging on to them when someone else could be enjoying them? I honestly don’t know! A clothes-swapping event would be ideal for having a clear out and getting some new outfits for the new year without exchanging cash. That’s especially brilliant considering that payday still feels far away!