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!
With Christmas fast approaching, my latest DIY project is a rather festive one indeed. Yes, I’ve got my trusty glue gun out again and I’ve been busy attaching pom-poms to anything that stays still! Since decorating the Christmas tree, I decided that my mantlepiece was looking rather empty and after a bit of pondering, I came up with these ‘snow’ letters to dress the top of the fireplace. And yes, I filmed the whole process so that I could make a step-by-step video to show you how it’s done. And I’ve been thinking of all of you who don’t necessarily have space for a tree, because these snowy letters only take up the space of a mantlepiece or shelf yet it still makes for a rather impressive and imposing display. This decoration project can be made any size (depending on what kind of craft letters you find) and any colour – just change the spray paint and pom-pom colours to make a bright red SANTA sign or even a sparkly pink ‘LOVE’ display for Valentine’s Day early next year. Multicoloured pom-pom letters could be used to make a birthday celebration display or why not make a glitzy metallic “2017” sign for your New Year’s Eve party?! Click on the video below to view the step-by-step guide.
To make this project you will need:
- Large craft letters – I got mine from Hobbycraft for £4 each, but I’ve seen cardboard letters for just £1 in The Range.
- A glue gun and glue sticks – I use the Bostik DIY glue gun because it’s made for DIY projects and is therefore sturdier than a craft glue gun. The Bostik all-purpose glue sticks were a budget refill pack at just £2.84. The cheapest price I could find on glue guns and refills was at the UK Tool Centre – take a look & put one on your Christmas list!
- White spray primer (or coloured spray paint if you prefer) – I used Plastikote 2500 primer in white (also ordered from UK Tool Centre, so if you’re buying tools for Christmas, use discount code UKTO6OFF80 for £6 off an £80 order.)
- Cotton wool – I picked up a large bag of cotton wool balls from Superdrug for 75p
- Various sizes and types of pom-poms – The teeny tiny pom-poms came from Etsy and I got the iridescent pom-poms from The Range £1.50 for a pack of 80, and a pack of 40 is available in Poundland too.
- Optional extras – Miniature trees and figures – I tracked mine down (excuse the pun) in a model railway shop.
- Snow spray and glittery faux snow (from Poundland or similar).
It’s a really quick and easy project to do too – the thing that takes the longest time is waiting for the paint to dry. Which, in fact, doesn’t even take that long. I’ve shared the step-by-step guide on my YouTube channel today so you can see just how easy the process is. I’ve even included a time lapse of all the pom-pom gluing so that you can see how the letters can be built up with lots of different layers and sizes of pom-poms. It was actually great fun to make this decoration, and having the glue gun make it super-easy. I wouldn’t like to tackle the project without one – I think that I’d get in a right muddle with superglue! I really enjoy sitting down to make something with my own hands and I’m thrilled that, with a little bit of effort, I’ve got a Christmas decoration in my home that no-one else has. That is, until you all follow this tutorial and make it for yourselves! Hope you’ve enjoyed looking through all the photos I took at each stage, and don’t forget to check out the video on YouTube for the full step-by-step instructions (and please give me a subscribe if you like it!). Let me know how you get on with this project and please tag me in your photos @Cassiefairy if you have a go at making this Christmas mantlepiece display for yourself! Here are some more pics – enjoy!
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.
I know you’re all thinking about Christmas shopping by now. Well, I’m ready to get started on my annual gift hunt – I’ve even bought the wrapping paper! In my search for special gifts and thrifty treats I stumbled upon Discovered. This online marketplace recommended to me and I’m glad I took the time to check it out.
Like Etsy but connecting you with craftspeople all over the world, this online marketplace lists finely crafted gifts and homewares. You can discover handmade products by artisans from emerging countries such as India, Morocco and South Africa. But the main difference is that Discovered takes the idea of Fairtrade one step further; you can buy handicrafts direct from the maker.
The artisans on Discovered design, create and sell beautiful accessories, bags, jewellery and home decoration items. Every product that is sold on Discovered has its own, unique story and you won’t just find it in any other store. In addition, for every item they sell the artisans will receive a fair price because the supply chain is shortened; from the maker, via Discovered and to you.
Whether you’re planning a wedding or like the idea of having a fancy birthday party, I think that a vintage theme is perfect for summer events. When I visited the Glemham Hall vintage wedding fair I was struck by how many of the decorating ideas would work perfectly well for a garden party or a wedding anniversary. Even an afternoon tea with friends could be elevated to a special gathering with just a few vintage-inspired touches. Today I’m sharing some of the photos I took at the event and I hope it’ll help provide a little inspiration when you come to plan your own wedding, baby shower or anniversary party. Adopting a vintage theme can also be a thrifty way to throw a party, as none of the elements needs to match – in fact, the more mismatched your china is, the better! Cobbling together some old jars and tins out of the attic, filling them with pretty blooms and hanging a length of floral bunting is more than enough decoration to hint at a bygone party theme.
In terms of entertainment, I love the idea of using an old record player to provide the background music while you enjoy the party. A cracking record of old songs is a charming soundtrack to a vintage party and you can still buy vinyl records at very low prices in charity shops or at car boot sales. Finding a record player might be more tricky, but ask around your friends and family to see if someone has one stashed away that you could borrow for the day. Failing that, it is possible to hire vintage record players, and even ancient gramophones!
If you’re planning a summer party but want to stick to a budget, how can you get a pulled-together chic look for only a few pounds? Well, if you’re up for a little DIY then adopting a ‘shabby chic’ style will do the trick. Your party decor can be as quirky as you like and, because you’ll be making most of the decorations yourself, it’s surprisingly affordable too. Whether you’re planning a wedding, a vintage hen party, a pretty birthday party or simply a summer gathering with friends, adopting a shabby chic theme makes it easy to plan special event with few resources. Read on to find out how…Tables and chairs
A shabby chic scheme calls for a lot of mixing and matching, so if you can borrow tables and chairs from friends, all the better. You may already have a house full of shabby chic furniture but even if you don’t have any chairs at all, you can unify those you’ve borrowed to create a cohesive look for the party. If your friends aren’t too keen on your idea to spray paint all their chairs white(!), simply decorate the backs of the chairs instead. Unify the different shapes by using the same colour fabric on each chair, hanging the linens down to cover at least two-thirds of the legs. Layering different shades of white is a nice way to keep the palette neutral without being too uniform.
Wherever quilting supplies are sold, you can usually find packets of fabric with complementary colours and patterns. If these are too expensive, just get your ideas from the pre-mixed packs and buy some patterned fabrics individually. For a less whimsical feel, again go with layered shades of white: mixing cottons, linens, and ribbon. Cut them into uniform strips of about 2 inches wide and tie them to the backs of chairs. Quantity is key here: really fill the backs or it will look like an afterthought. Tie the strips horizontally with the ends coming out the middle to create a long ruffle or tie vertically and gather them in the middle with a bow or flower.
If you’ve chosen really colourful fabrics, you’ll want a little less colour in the centrepiece, so you could go with simple greenery. Alternatively, white chairs beg to be paired with colourful flowers. Some classic shabby chic centrepiece basics would be birdcages, lanterns, or white ceramic pitchers. If you have a little craftiness in your DNA (and have the time!) cover aluminium cans with patterned paper, tie ribbon around them, and fill with peonies. Cheaper flowers can be bought from supermarkets and you could choose the most ‘blossomy’ stems so you’ll need fewer flowers to fill vases. Carnations (which are cool again these days!), Sweet Williams and scented stocks all fill a lot of space and don’t cost too much. Alternatively, pick your own flowers from the garden; daffodils in spring, foxgloves in June and hydrangea in August-September. If you want variety but don’t want it to look too ‘over the top’, mix up different types of flowers but use the same holders on each table.
Organising a party that has an underlying theme to it can be a pretty difficult thing to do at the best of times, but if you are aiming to provide food that fits this theme then the task gets even tougher. The enduring popularity of the James Bond franchise, and the recent release of its latest smash hit – Spectre – have led to more people organising Bond themed parties. This lets people dress as 007 himself, or Bond girls, and enjoy casino themed foods – but how do you go about preparing these?
Jam-filled playing card biscuits
It is not hard to see how these would be the perfect edible addition to a James Bond casino themed party and the great thing about them is that they are perfect for guests of all ages. Create the dough by sifting sugar into your bowl and beating together with lemon zest and butter until it is fluffy in consistency. At this point beat in egg yolk, salt and flour, before rolling the dough out and cutting it into roughly 7-inch rectangles. These should be frozen for half an hour minimum before being cut down to rectangles of around 2 inches each and baked for ten minutes. Once they have cooled, you cut the card symbols into them using cookie cutters and add the red or black jam to create the finished cards.
It’s all about love this Valentine’s weekend and I wanted to do something special for my husband. We’re being especially frugal this year (saving for a home of our own) so there won’t be any lavish nights or holidays to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. But that doesn’t mean it will pass by unnoticed. Instead, I’ve made my own Valentine’s card for him (see my easy card-making DIY post here) and I created a memories box packed full of photos last week (see the making-of video here). I still wanted to celebrate the occasion so I surprised him with an “I Heart NY” party!I wanted it to be a ‘big’ night in without spending a fortune so I decided that the best way to surprise hubby was to bring a party into our living room and get everything ready while he was at work this Friday. I put up USA flag bunting and a string of light-bulb fairy lights, then sprinkled red-white-and-blue star confetti everywhere. New York is somewhere that my husband and I have always wanted to travel to but have never found the spare cash to be able to go yet, so I thought it would be the perfect Valentine’s treat to bring The Big Apple to him instead. Plus, there’s hearts involved (okay, an I Heart NY t-shirts to be exact!) so that make’s it romantic too.I gathered together all our favourite films set in New York, such as You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally and, of course, all the Sex and the City films. I wonder if I could have got away with putting on the SATC box set?? On the TV is Sleepless in Seattle, when the Empire State Building lights up with a red heart on Valentine’s Day. What a moment! All I needed was a big tub of popcorn and some US candy bars (oh yes, those are pretzel M&Ms, hurrah!) and we were all set to enjoy a romantic film night.
This would also be a great night-in with the girls, especially with all the chick-flick movies I’ve got lined up! So consider throwing an “I Heart NY” party for your friend’s hen party or birthday too! And don’t forget it’s “Galentine’s Day” tomorrow too! Check out my blog post about hosting a Galentine’s party for your besties, plus some delicious flavoured hot-chocolate recipes.
In terms of eats, I cooked up Continue reading “Party ideas for a big night in – I heart NY” »
No, it’s not too late to show someone you care about them this Valentine’s Day. You’ve still got time to post a card to that special person, you just need to get hold of a card. No time to run out to the shops? No problem! I’ve come up with a super-simple DIY project to make your own Valentine’s card. No craft skills needed, honest!It’s as easy as typing out a message on your computer and hitting print. I used Publisher to create my design, so pretty much everyone will have this programme on their PC. But don’t worry if you haven’t got publisher; Photoshop or even a Word document would work equally well. Just pay attention to the page size, as you’ll want it to be a cute little A6 card (similar to a 6×4 photo size) once it’s printed.You can print your design onto A4 card and cut it in half before folding to A6 size, or if you don’t have any card to hard use one piece of thick A4 paper folded in half and glued down to add stability so that your card will at least stand up. got a card-backed document envelope somewhere in the office? This will do too! Even an empty cereal box will be fine to print on, as long as you cover up the Crunchy Nut image on the other side with a layer of paper! Once you’ve got your paper or card ready, you only need to Continue reading “Design & print your own DIY cards for Valentine’s Day, birthdays & more” »
When you’ve not got much time and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, the quickest and easiest option is to shop for gifts online. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re not putting any thought or effort into choosing a treat for your favourite person. Oh no, there are plenty of simply gorgeous gifts online that you just can’t get anywhere else and I’d love to show you what I mean…First up, I wanted to show you some of the unique gifts available on Etsy. As each item is hand-crafted or vintage, you can be sure that your other-half won’t have come across the gift before and it will be a true surprise. Okay, sometimes items are handmade to order, which adds a little extra time to the ordering process and it might have to be a Valentine’s Day ‘promise’ rather than something they can unwrap on the day. But who wouldn’t want to be given a note that reads “I’ve bought you a handmade gold pendant”?! I personally love all the textile crafts you can find on Etsy and these are some of my favourite heart-motif goodies.
I love love love Maria Allen jewellery and this is one of her gorgeous Valentine’s Day designs. My bestie gave me an amazing personalised locket from Maria Allen for my birthday a couple of years ago and it’s my most cherished piece of jewellery. I can almost guarantee that this would be a winning gift for Valentine’s Day so feel free to use this blog post to drop a huge hint to your hubby ladies!And of course, it wouldn’t be valentine’s day without a beautiful bouquet of roses! Listen up hubby! There’s still plenty of time to order a bouquet online at Blossoming Gifts (where I got these sugar-pink blooms from). Ordering flowers online don’t have to be an expensive venture either; these bouquets are stunning yet not over-priced, starting at just £11.99. You can also find potted roses, lilies and orchids that will live on beyond Valentine’s day, plus many bouquets comes with a free gift, such as a box of chocolates or teddy bear. Plus you can save 33% on selected bouquets by using the discount code “BGIFTS33”, bonus! I was very impressed when the bouquet was Continue reading “Breathtaking Valentine’s Day gifts + save 33% on flowers!” »