Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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A new DIY craft for me – cardmaking & embossing

I’ve just tried out a craft that I’d never attempted before – card making. Aside from making cards when I was a child and a feeble attempt at making a homemade card for my husband when I ran out of time to get to the shops, I’ve never even had a go at ‘proper’ card-making so when the opportunity to review an embossing machine presented itself, I thought that now would be a good time to learn a new craft. So I was rather excited when a parcel full of cardmaking goodies arrived and I took myself off to the caravan to try out my new kit.

The product that I’m using is a Sizzix Texture Boutique beginners kit (great for me then!) which is a card embossing machine that can be found in the die-cutting machines section of the Hobbycraft website. It uses patterned plastic ‘folders’ to imprint a design onto card by pressing it through  roller inside the machine. There is everything you’d need to get started inside this kit, including cards and envelopes, greetings transfers, three embossing folders and even a pack of embossing card in different colours and a square of sandpaper. For a while I couldn’t work out why on earth there was sandpaper in the pack of card, but once I’d read the label I realised that once the card had been embossed with a pattern the raised design could be rubbed with the sandpaper to lighten the embossed areas and make the print more obvious.

I embossed the largest folder pattern onto a ready-folded white card to create a background print, then I chose piece of green card to emboss the medium-sized design. It was a simple process of placing the card inside the folder and putting the folder between the two black embossing places. This embossing ‘sandwich’ was fed into the machine and the handle turned with practically no resistance to roll the plate through the machine and press the design into the card. I repeated the process one more time on a small piece of purple card using the smallest folder. The card crinkled a little as it went through the machine and I now realised that I should have cut it down to size before putting into the folder. It didn’t effect the embossed design though and I just cut it down afterwards instead! When I put the card together I decided to lightly sand the purple piece of card to make the flower pattern more prominent.

After this first attempt I thought I should try something a little more adventurous and used an embossing folder that wasn’t part of the kit – you can easily buy extra embossing folders with different designs from Hobbycraft but watch out for the sizes as this machine can easily emboss the 4.25 x 5.5 inch card I was using but anything wider wouldn’t fit between the embossing plates! I had a Kirstie Allsop vintage rose design pack to try out which included one large folder to make a pattern on the background of the card along with a thin folder 1 inch x 5.5 inches which I used to decorate a strip of card to layer on top. I added a blue piece embossed using the original folder then layered up striped washi tape and a gingham washi button to finish off my card design. I’m still deliberating which greeting to transfer onto the card!

Finally, I wondered what would happen if I attempted to emboss an envelope and I gave it a go, using the biggest embossing folder from the original Sizzix kit. I think it looks rather good, and it ended up with a pattern on both sides so it might be hard to write an address on, but for a hand-delivered greetings card it would be a nice touch!

My overall impression of this kit was positive – it was easy to use (and let’s face it, for a beginner like me, it’d have to be!), required no physical effort to press the cards and gave pleasing results in a super-fast time. I think these two cards probably took me half an hour to make and that’s with unpacking the kit, reading the instructions and trying to figure out where there was sandpaper in the pack! I reckon that now I’m a ‘pro’ (yes, my two attempts makes me a professional embosser now!) I would be able to emboss and decorate greetings cards within minutes. I felt like I was making something with my own two hands, but without it being a chore; in fact, it was rather fun!

Let me know if you’re an avid card-maker and whether you would use a machine like this. Perhaps you already have an embossing machine and fancy sharing your card creations with me? What do you use sandpaper for?? Get in touch my email or tweet me @Cassiefairy.

diy pin up girl cushion sewing tutorial


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My DIY pin-up girl cushion sewing project

Since the end of The Great British Sewing Bee I’ve stepped away from my sewing machine and for some reason have struggled to think up ideas for creative projects. I think I was just SO inspired by the Sewing Bee that when I no longer had that regular reminder to get sewing nor that weekly prompt for a sewing challenge that I completely forgot to get on with it. So my sewing machine has been neglected and has gathered a thin layer of dust since last month and I keep glancing at it with a guilty look in my eye. I didn’t mean to dump it, it just kind of happened – we drifted apart and I’m just as sad about it as the machine is…

Anyway, the good news is that I’ve finally broken my sewing drought and have made a cushion. It might not be the most challenging of projects but at least I’m sewing again and that can only be a good thing. It only took me about an hour because I was trying to do it in super-fast time before hubby came home from work one evening. I needed to get the cushion completed in secret because it was going to be a gift for hubby’s birthday. Not kind of gift you’d expect a very manly concrete-handling man like my husband would want for his birthday, but he’d spotted a similar cushion online and really took a shine to it for his ‘man cave’ office chair. Ok, maybe it was the fabric that he took a shine to – it IS a pattern that includes pin-up girls, nude, in foliage. Maybe that was it.

diy alexander henry mirage pin up girl fabric

So I searched out the exact fabric online – it was Alexander Henry MIRAGE Fabric in navy and I ordered two fat quarters of it – enough to make a pair of cushions. I chose a navy velvet for the back of the cushion and for the piping around the edge. When the fabric arrived I realised that most of the pattern was across the centre of the fat quarter so I decided to make a rectangular cushion rather than square, to get more of the pin-up girls on the cushion! I bought a couple of last season’s cushion designs reduced to £1 in Dunelm that were this rectangular shape and removed the covers so that I just had cushion pads left - this is probably the cheapest way to get cushion fillings; just buy any cushions that are reduced or secondhand from a charity shop or carboot sale then discard (or reuse elsewhere) the covers!

sewing

I first inserted a zip along the bottom of both fabric pieces and zipped it together before making a thin line of piping by wrapping a strip of the velvet around the cord. I layered the piping in-between the pin-up fabric front and the velvet back with the right sides facing and straight stitched all the way round the cushion. At this point, I realised that I’d completely zipped up the zip so I couldn’t turn the cushion the right side out! Luckily I could feel whether the zipper head was and eased it back a little while it was still inside the cushion and managed to make enough of a gap to reach in and unzip it completely – phew!

diy pin up girl cushion sewing tutorial

I popped the new pin-up girl cushion cover onto the cushion pad and done! One gift (that hubby loved) all sewn up!


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Make your own funky wrapping paper

I love giving gifts – even more than I like receiving them, believe it or not! – and part of the enjoyment is finding the perfect way to wrap and decorate the presents to make them extra special. I’ve been spending lots of time with my printer, trying out ways of making my own wrapping paper, and although it’s easy enough to print out images onto plain paper, the A4 size just isn’t big enough for most of the gifts I want to wrap, plus I’d like a nicer quality of paper that’s thick enough to wrap a gift without tearing on the corners!

diy wrapping paper tutorial and printable I looked in my stationary drawer and worked out a way to make larger pieces of wrapping that can still fit through the printer – using envelopes! I’ve got some A4 sized brown envelopes and I realised that I could cut off the sealed edge and the bottom flap in order to create an A3 piece of paper when it’s opened out. I folded it back on itself so that the envelope was inside out with the smooth side inwards. This way it can easily be printed on by feeding it into my A4 printer, printing on one side and then turning the piece over and feeding it back in to print on the other side.

I’ve used some of hubby’s drawings, which I’ve scanned into the computer and duplicated the images over and over on one piece of A4 using Publisher. You can use clipart or free printables that you can find online or if you’d like to use these same images I can send you the file – just drop me an email cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk for the free printable! These images look great on the rustic brown paper and remind me of childhood school days, but any images can be printed in this same way onto white envelopes too, plus some envelopes are a coloured inside, which would give you a different background effect for your homemade wrapping paper. I know it’s obvious now - but I didn’t think of it at the time! – any coloured A3 paper can be folded in half and printed on one side before turning over to print on the second side. This gives you plenty of paper to wrap around your gifts and you can join two pieces of A3 wrapping paper together for bigger gifts if needed.

What do you think of my homemade wrapping paper? Hubby was pretty pleased with it for his birthday gifts, especially because they are his drawings, but also because of the time and effort I’d put into making the paper. You can use images that your child has drawn to make wrapping paper for your family, or you could use photographs of the recipient to decorate the paper – if you can imagine it, you can do it!


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What to get for the mother who has everything..!

Well she’s already got me, so what more does she need?? haha! But seriously, it’s Mother’s Day on 30th March and I know you’ll all be wanting to shower the women in your life with treats for doing that most difficult job of all. So what can you make and what would you like to buy for your ‘supermum’? I’ve done a little research to make it even easier for you to spoil your mother at the end of the month and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Make your mother a card with a detachable ‘Super Mum’ badge that she can wear all day long! This tutorial from TrimCraft blog shares DIY instructions and even a printable template for the badge so check it out and give it a go for yourself!

DIY mothers day card and jewellery gift ideas

To make it the most special Mother’s Day yet, visit the Swag website to find a sparkly treat for your mother such as this Pandora bangle from the Mother’s Day collection or Diamonfire’s special cubic zirconia heart locket necklace above.

Or how about taking your mum out for a special treat and spending some quality time together? I found some fantastic experience days gifts from IWOOT.com including a decadent lunch cruise on the Thames for two, which sounds like great fun for both of you! And if your mum truly is a ‘supermum’ rushing from one task to the next, perhaps she’d like the chance to unwind and relax during a spa experience? Again, you can go with your mum and have a good catch up while getting pampered!

                       mothers day experience ideas from iwoot

Another DIY idea is to pick up one of those clear plastic photo frames that you can get from pound stores and customise it to create a special family album of photos and scrapbook pages. There’s a fantastic tutorial on the Crafts Unleashed blog which shows you how to create this freestanding photobook below. It would be a perfect homemade gift for Mother’s Day and will show your mum how much you care with all the time and love you’ve put into creating an album of  special memories. Let me know if you give this a go!

 DIY mothers photo album and magazine gift ideas

Finally, for the mother who has everything – why not give her a subscription to a magazine? It’s one of MY favourite things to receive because it’s the gift that keeps on giving – she’ll love getting the magazine delivered to her all year round and will be reminded of your lovely gift each time. Don’t worry if you have no idea what magazines she already reads – simply hop onto the Unique Magazines website (where I have already subscribed to Ethical Consumer magazine!) and find a publication that she won’t have come across before but that fits in with her interests – does she enjoy cooking, crafting, gardening, fashion, pets? There’s something for every taste so check it out.

Let me know if you try out any of these tutorials for Mother’s Day crafts and which gifts you pick out to treat your mother at the end of March. I always find that time runs away with me in March, so I hope to have time to sort out a lovely treat for my own mother and I’m sure there’ll be baking involved – check out my cupcake recipes to make a yummy batch of mum’s favourite cakes!


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Sewing Bee inspired baby onesie

It’s been a week of children’s clothing challenges on The Great British Sewing Bee – first the cute dungarees (that I am bursting to make for my nephew!) followed by the task to turn a pillowcase, children’s jumper and trousers into a fancy dress costume for the little ‘uns. As you probably know, fancy dress is my forte and I would have relished this challenge. In my mind, the first thought was to create a tiny pirate’s costume for my nephew just as Cerina did (and won the challenge with!) and my second option was an angel outfit and the white pillowcase would be perfect for this. Over the previous weeks there have been a few little outfits appearing and it has inspired me to share my little baby-grow project with you.

I didn’t actually make the baby-grow itself and I’m not sure that I’d trust my haphazard sewing against baby-soft skin, so I’ve simply upcycled a bought baby-grow with a t-shirt transfer. I used t-shirt transfer paper that you can print directly on to using a computer printer at home and I designed this tiny ‘He started it’ slogan using Publisher on my laptop. It is a baby-grow for my little niece and I decided that no matter whether it was her father or her uncle holding my her, one of them would definitely have started it because she’s too much of a little princess to get into trouble! I’ve used the same type of transfer paper to print a lucky cat image onto one of my old tops – check out the blog post here. The only thing to remember when using t-shirt transfer paper is that you must print the text in reverse so that it appears the right way round after it has been transferred onto the fabric.

personalised baby grow printing

If you want to print your own t-shirts or children’s clothes it’s best to follow the instructions on the pack of transfer paper that you’re using so I followed the directions to trim closely around the image or text and put into position on the fabric before pressing with an iron. The pack will guide you on how long to apply the heat to the transfer – too little time will result in the transfer peeling off and too long will discolour the print. The transfer paper usually recommends that the transfer is allowed to cool down completely before it is peeled off so I carefully lifted one corner after about 5 minutes cooling time and the backing paper peeled off easily. Sometimes the transfer needs additional treatment to seal it but it depends on the type of transfer paper you’ve used.

And there you have it – a custom-made slogan t-shirt or onesie for the children in your life, made in super-fast time!