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!
Shopping for Christmas gifts need not be an expensive activity, in fact it it an opportunity for a having little thrifty fun. It’s often the case that the best presents are not very expensive, but are chock full of sentimental feelings; something that can help to bring up funny memories and remind you of beloved relatives. So instead of shopping for new items, see what you already have at home that might made a charming gift with just a little tweaking. Upcycled milk crates and wine boxes work well to form makeshift hampers, and you only need a couple of mason jars to create everything from wall sconces to air fresheners. Here are three things that everyone needs but that you can create by hand.
The patchwork poncho
If you have loads of old clothes that are too worn to give away to the charity shops, but yet you can’t stomach the thought of just throwing them out, this next project is just for you. Being able to sew a throw pillow would be an accomplishment for most, but the patchwork poncho is even easier to make. The idea is to take as many different colored squares of fabric from old shirts, pillow cases, winter jumpers and any other clothing you don’t want. If you remember to sew all of the patches on the same side, your stitch work can be ‘rustic’ but your poncho will still look chic.
The denim shoulder bag Continue reading “Guest Post – 3 Handmade Christmas gift ideas” »
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.
I’m not even going to say the ‘C’ word yet but I know that many of you are already planning – and buying – your seasonal gifts. In fact, I’m heading out to the high street tomorrow to gather some stocking fillers myself so I know that (if you’re at all like me) you’re already making a shopping list. And possibly checking it twice. Which is why I wanted to jump in feet first today with an idea for what to get ‘the person who has everything’.
Photo credit: Oxfam GB
My answer is; nothing. I’m not being rude, but what I tend to find these days is that everyone gets whatever they want for themselves all year round, so they don’t really need anything in particular. On top of this, we’ve all got limited space in our homes. I know how sad it makes me to receive a big generous gift when I don’t have anywhere to put it. I’m not ungrateful, I love the present, but I have like, literally nowhere to keep it. I have to store so many things ‘for later’ because I just don’t have the room at the moment.
So my solution is a simple one; buy something for someone else instead. I’m talking about charity gifts and, as an Oxfam blogger, I wanted to share details of their festive packages in case you’re already looking for a secret santa present for someone who already has plenty of everything. There are lots of Oxfam charity gift ideas on the website (starting at just £5) but I’m just going to mention my top two today – a pile of poo and a goat.
Photo credit: Oxfam GB
Imagine giving someone a pile of poo for Christmas – it would be the talk of the office as a secret santa gift, wouldn’t it?! I love the tongue-in-cheek nature of the gift, but it’s a whole lot more helpful than the name makes out. The gift is a 100% natural mix of manure and organic fertilizer so that someone can grow their own vegetables and feed their family. It also includes training on how to plant crops so that they are more successful in growing food. This means that the family will have a more varied diet, their health will improve with regular meals and they can sell any excess produce to raise money for other things, such as sending their children to school. Amazing what a pile of poo can do, isn’t it?
I can’t believe that it’s been a whole week since this book launched and I’m only now telling you about it. I’ve had my eyes on it for weeks and have been eagerly awaiting it’s release. Teaser tweets and Instagram posts by Max have got my excitement for this book bubbling up to a dangerous level. Combine that with my already OTT love of thriftiness and DIYing, and you’ve got one giddy girl on your hands. So you can imagine how quickly I tore open the packaging of my book delivery last weekend.Thankfully, it book itself didn’t disappoint. I knew it would full of Max’s trademark industrial projects and thrifty flips, but I didn’t realise just how comprehensive it would be. This isn’t just a ‘look at this pretty room’ design book. Oh no. It’s full of practical advice and step-by-step, photo-by-photo tutorials. It’s so detailed that even I feel confident about removing a drum from an old washing machine and turning it into an illuminated side table.With techniques for measuring and cutting, drilling and sanding, wiring and finishing, Max teaches you all the DIY skills you need to know in order to complete the projects in the book. If you want to know what a nylock nut is, Max’ll tell you. I thought I was alright at a bit of DIY. Good, even. But it turns out that there’s so much more I can learn. Thank goodness I’ve got this book to teach me the tricks of the trade. They don’t call me thrifty for nothin’ and if I’m going to upcycle, I’m darn well going to learn how to do it properly (and safely!).
Just before the book launched last week I had the opportunity to ask the author some probing questions so that I could share his answers with you today: Continue reading “Book Review + Interview – Upcycling by Max McMurdo” »
Did you ever read ‘The Christmas Book’ as a child? I am reading it right now! I’ve been treated to a couple of pre-Christmas gifts so that I could enjoy them before the big day, and this vintage book was one of my Christmas eve presents. I’ve taken some quick snaps to show you just how quaint and traditional this retro publication is!I’ve tried to research the book and have come up with the following information; It’s published by Juvenile Productions Ltd in London, designed and printed in England and dates back to the 1950s. I’ve found it listed on The Enid Blyton Society website, and one of the festive tales in the book is by Enid Blyton herself – ‘The Christmas Bicycle. The book is a collection of festive short stories for children and other authors include; Michael Lisle with ‘The Christmas Chicken’ story, Helen J. Wright with ‘ The Old Lantern’, John Hornby with ‘The Secret Camp’ and David A. Vick with ‘The Christmas Rescue’.There are also adorable activities suggested in the book, such as tracing around an illustration of Father Christmas to make a ‘Santa Claus on Snowshoes’ decoration, Christmas card idea, a silver chain project and crafting ‘The Snowman’s Cottage’. I’d love to experience Christmas eve just like a 1950s child and have a go at making some skiing Santa decorations myself! The Christmas Book is littered with gorgeous illustrations by G. Higham. Each story is illustrated, small comic strips entertain young readers and puzzle pictures offer brain-teasing fun. The illustrations alone were enough to get me flicking through the book and I’d love to scan them to recreate the images in my future festive decorating. Legends and stories of Christmas are told throughout the book and children can learn about festive events in other countries too – this book must have been quite an education in the 50s!
While reading this gorgeous vintage book, I’ve been snacking on a lovely gift of mini Lindt Christmas figures including Father Christmas, a cute snowman and, of course, the Lindt bear! I love to enjoy a cheeky chocolate or two on Christmas eve to get me in the mood for the big day tomorrow! I’ve also been treated to a gorgeous new jumper from Damart. I ‘needed’ to have this Christmas gift a little early because it’s ideal for me to wear to my Christmas eve gathering with family. It’s super-soft and the rich ruby red colour is perfect for the holidays. Add a little sparkle to the mix and you’ve got a winning Christmas jumper! I’m going to pop it on right now, and probably won’t take it off for the whole season 😉Have you opened any early pre-Christmas gifts today? What treats did you enjoy? And did you ever read The Christmas Book as a child? Let me know what you’re getting up to today and what you think of my early gifts by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.
As you can probably guess, I’m taking some time off over Christmas so I thought I would share a few festive photos from my Instagram account during this time Hope you’re having a great Christmas!
Have you ever thought that you’d like to create something a little different for a special someone this Christmas? Do you want to make a personalised gift but don’t have the time (or skills!) to be able to craft something yourself? I certainly fall into this category but even so, I wanted to create a gift that means something more for the special people in my life and I found just the place!
Last week I wrote about gifts for the guys, followed by a quick gifts for your pets post, but this weekend I’m tackling one of the more tricky gift guides: gifts for the girls. This is basically what I want for Christmas, which I hope will give you some inspiration for the ladies in your life when you head out to the shops!
I don’t dare suggest personal gifts such as perfume or beauty products, as every woman has their own preferences, instead my gift guide is a mixture of pretty things, lovely dresses and, of course, sparkly shoes – so there really should be something for everyone. Lets hope so!