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 don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to hibernate for the whole of the Christmas period. Many of us are finishing work early this week and taking a few days to relax and finish off some festive tasks before the big day arrives. So if you’ve got some time on your hands this week, why not have a go at making some of my festive crafts? All of these projects can be completed within an hour, and you only need a few cheap supplies (that you may already have at home) in order to get started. These are some of my favourite projects I’ve made for my own home, so have a look and let me know if you have a go at making any of these for yourself.I’ve recently just made my first two festive YouTube DIY videos – each is a step-by-step project that can be made in no time at all. First up is my pom-pom ‘SNOW’ sign for the mantlepiece, shelf or windowsill. It’s a cute decoration that isn’t OTT festive, but that has a fun tongue-in-cheek design with tiny skiing figures sliding down the letters. This week I also shared a video that shows you how to add candy cane legs to your chairs. If you’re planning to paint your chairs next year anyway, why not give them a festive design for the coming week and then paint over them again in the new year? Or make a dedicated Santa seat so that he’s got somewhere to rest when he comes down the chimney this weekend 😉I don’t think it’s any secret that I really like pom-pom, so you won’t be surprised to see another snowy decoration project up next. This one is a ‘snow drift’ Christmas wreath for your front door. It has a little penguin skiing down the pom-pom snowballs and looks really cute on my caravan door. I also made another wreath for my caravan using upcycled pieces of clothing, ribbons and fabric. Here’s the step-by-step guide to making this fluffy fabric Christmas wreath so check it out and use up the old scraps of fabric you already have lying around. I’m really chuffed that this project was featured in Oxfam’s Christmas newspaper too!Why not decorate every room in the house with a festive piece of art? I framed up some free printables to make this gallery wall of snowy chalkboard Christmas art. With a printer and some frames, you could have a lovely festive wall to welcome your guests into your home.Make a rustic illuminated christmas basket decoration to brighten up your porch, fireplace or garden. Simply gather nature’s decorations – pine cones, holly and spruce – and add in plenty of sparkly touches to make it look really festive. The basket helps to make your home look more inviting from the outside and can add warmth to an unused fireplace too.If you’re looking for another idea for bringing more fairy lights into your home, how about making my snow-covered kilner jar lanterns? It’s such a simple project and it can be made in minutes, but the group of jars makes for a really impressive display on your sideboard, mantlepiece or even on a bedside table.A couple of years ago I made this snowy garland using pom-poms (again!), faux flowers and hanging decorations. It looks great on a mantlepiece, or you could make it as long as you need in order to drape it down the handrail of your staircase. Use whatever decorations you have to hand and feel free to change the colour combo to red and green or gold and silver.I hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for making a few craft items of your own in time for the big day. And I hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas – this is the best time of the whole holiday for me!
Taking on a home DIY project tends to sound like a lot of fun. There’s certainly a level of satisfaction that you can gain by rolling up your sleeves and getting to work around the house. And if you’re the sort of person who enjoys being productive, you’ll get a lot of fun out of it. It’s also true that a lot of DIY projects that start out this way end up being a bit more tedious and difficult than expected. So I thought it might be nice to discuss a few ways to make DIY a little more reliably enjoyable. In a way, this all depends on the specific task at hand, as well as on your general mood and outlook. But the following tips just might help you to maintain enthusiasm for most of your improvement efforts around the home.1. Educate yourself on the basics
It doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable thing to do, but getting educated on some basic home repair and DIY concepts will help you to have more fun fixing things up. It’s frustrating to get into these kinds of jobs without knowing what you’re doing, so it pays to teach yourself in advance. As a starting point, this list of simple maintenance tips and ideas covers a lot of common jobs that arise around the house. They’re not the most artistic, craft-geared DIY projects, but they’re things that need doing, and if you know how to handle them you’ll be better equipped for a pleasant experience.2. Entertain yourself
Just tackling a DIY job with nothing else going on can sometimes get dull. The clear solution is music, but even then things can get complicated. If a job involves water pipes, woodworking, dust, debris, or paint you won’t want your music devices or headphones anywhere near it. Fortunately, there’s a solution specifically for this problem. This page on heavy-duty radios built for construction sites and similar environments reveals that there is some modern audio equipment made for tough conditions. There are plenty of options, but if you can find a strong, durable radio with Bluetooth that can let you play your music, radio stations, or podcasts you’ll be able to stay entertained no matter what kind of job you’re taking on.
3. Learn To Repurpose Materials
We all know that emerald is Pantone’s colour of the year for 2013 (here’s my blog post about it from January) and although we are 3/4 of the way through the year, this doesn’t mean that the colour is any less on trend. In fact, it’s really coming into its own for the festive season – jewel colours are always popular over Christmas – and the high street shops are packed full of emerald accessories and clothing. I fancied getting a skater dress in emerald ready for all the christmas parties I’ll be going to, but after failing to buy the bonprix dress below (perpetually out of stock) I’ve found that there is a severe lack of my favourite dress shape in the colours I want, so what should I do about it? What would you do? Make one? Okay!
I know it might be a bit of a big project, but I’d love to make myself the ‘perfect’ dress – beautifully flared, fitted to me, with sleeves and a scoop neckline – and in a bright emerald green! And why not? For the first time ever I’ll have a dress that is tailored to fit, rather than buying a size that’s not quite right and having to shorten straps, hem it or stitch the sides to take it in a bit. It’s certainly a challenge but one that I’d like to take on now that I have my own sewing space in my caravan. At least if I leave it hanging around half-made, it won’t be making a mess in my living room – the mess will all be contained within my ‘studio’.
So I hopped onto the Minerva crafts website to choose my ideal fabric for the project. I was toying with the idea of a patterned fabric (so that mistakes wouldn’t show!) but I worried about how this would be affected when using a cut-on-the-bias pattern. And when my eyes settled on the gorgeous green fabric (above) I knew it would be ideal for my custom-made dress. I also picked up an emerald green zip (I bet that would be hard to find anywhere else!) and I chose a Vogue pattern to make a cute party dress. The pattern had the option to use different necklines, different skirts and to add sleeves, so I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of it.
Now that my package of joy has arrived in the post, I’m about to start the process of making my own dress. I’ll take some snaps while I’m doing it and I’ll let you know how I get on. I may need some help so if you see me desperately tweeting for advice on how to add a button-hole, please message me back with any dress-making tips and tricks!
How are you getting on with this month’s inspiration challenge? The theme was antique bears and I’m so excited to see what everyone will come up with – maybe a cross-stitch, a greetings card, scrapbooking page, drawing or anything else crafty or stitchy!
I’m delighted to say that my favourite haberdashery shop Abakhan.co.uk are sponsoring the inspiration challenge again this month and the prize up for grabs is this handy vintage-inspired sewing kit in a gorgeous floral case below. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize from Abakhan, please send me photos of your teddy bear projects before 30th September to email@example.com and the winner will be picked at random (using Random.org)! I’m not judging the projects, so it doesn’t have to be the best item you’ve ever created – it’s just for fun and to see what you can create from the ‘antique bears’ starting point.
I’ve been cracking on with my make already this month (I’m usually a bit last-minute with my projects!) and I’m making a bear for my nephew. It’s his christening next week, so I will need to have completed it by then in order to give it to him as a gift! I got a bear-making book out of the local library and photocopied the patterns in the book, but when I started making the bear, I realised it would be a bit too small so I scaled-up the pattern (in a very haphazard way by drawing a line around the outside!) and I’ve started making the limbs! I’ve used a striped cotton that I bought from the Preston Abakhan store when my nephew was first born last year and I’ve added little blue gingham paws and feet pads! It’s still a work in progress so I’ll show you more during the monthly Inspiration Challenge roundup when the little bear is finished. 🙂
Don’t forget to email me with your projects – good, bad or indifferent! – whenever you have finished them and in the meantime check out Abakhan online for all kinds of fabrics, hobby and craft goodies!
More Inspiration Challenge articles:
- See all Inspiration Challenge articles (cassiefairy.com)
- What we made in August and new theme for September (cassiefairy.com)
- My beach hut cushion + the Inspiration Challenge (cassiefairy.com)
- A special prize from Joanie’s Gifts for July’s Inspiration Challenge (cassiefairy.com)
- A beach hut inspired story by author Amanda Addison (cassiefairy.com)
I had such good fun making my craft projects for the PinAddicts Challenge last month, and I am so pleased to see them included in the blog post for March (above) along with so many other fantastic PinAddict creations! I can’t wait to get stuck into April’s challenge – I think a few baking projects will have to be planned! 😉