Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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Homemade upcycled gifts – How to make a memory bear using baby clothes

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.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-16homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-1I 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.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-17 homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-3I 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.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-12homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-2homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-15 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.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-14 homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-19homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-4I 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!homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-7

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Wooo I’ve been featured in Sew Style magazine!

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!sew-magazine-style-and-home-homewares-handmade-stitching-sewing-feature-cassiefairy sew-magazine-style-and-home-homewares-handmade-stitching-sewing-feature-cassiefairy-page-2Check out the Sew Style website for plenty of sewing tips and project inspirations.

 


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DIY project – How to sew a campervan playhouse

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.caravan campervan playhouse playroom den wendyhouse sewing project diy step by step tutorial_-3 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.caravan campervan playhouse playroom den wendyhouse sewing project diy step by step tutorial_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.caravan campervan playhouse playroom den wendyhouse sewing project diy step by step tutorial_-4

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My mini kitchen makeover – DIY peg bag sewing project + carrier bag dispenser

I’ve been working on turning my tiny kitchen into a more habitable room for a couple of months now and if you’ve been following my progress you’ll know just how miniature my kitchen actually is! Firstly, I chose a bright colour scheme inspired by the Great British seaside and, in particular, my visit to Southwold Pier. After painting the room a refreshing coastal duck-egg blue, I enlisted my husband’s help to hang a new blind and put up  some extra storage solutions including a retro display unit and a bathroom cabinet. After adding a bright new rug and trying out some magnetic chalkboard paint on the walls, the mini kitchen makeover was almost complete. So today I’m sharing the kitchen sewing projects that I’ve just finished; a peg bag made from a small coat hanger, and a carrier bag dispenser.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-21diy-interior-design-small-kitchen-makeover-accessories-seaside-colours-3 When I got my small custom-made roman blind from Blinds-Supermarket.co.uk, I also picked up a length of matching Clarke and Clarke fabric in the same sugar stripe pattern. I knew that I wanted to create some sewing projects for the kitchen so it made sense to track down the same fabric to create a coordinated look throughout the room. It’s important not to use too many patterns in a small space as it can easily become over-busy so sticking to just the one type fabric makes the room feel less cluttered and more ‘pulled together’.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holderdiy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-12The most essential project for me was a peg bag. I’ve actually been storing my pegs in an oven glove for the past 3 years and it’s not been ideal, to say the least! It was such a simple project to do, so I really don’t know why I hadn’t already made one, but at least I’ve made one now. I used the striped fabric, plain white sheeting, white thread and a coat hanger to create the peg bag and here’s how I did it:diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-21. Place a small hanger (a child’s hanger works best, although I’ve used a hanger that came with some swimwear for my project) on back of the fabric at approximately the height that you’d like the bag to be. Draw around the top of the hanger to get the right slope of the top edge and then cut out two of these ‘house’ shapes from the fabric.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-32. Fold the fabric down by 1cm across the top of the ‘point’ at the top of each piece and hem. Cut one of the pieces in half – this will be the front piece and will provide the opening to store the pegs in. Hem both of the cut edges with a straight stitch to neaten.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-4diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-53. If you’d like to include the word ‘pegs’ on the front of your peg bag, simply cut the letters out of white fabric and stitch onto the top section of the front of the bag before joining the bag together.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-6diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-74. Line up the top edges with right sides of the fabric together and sew around the top, leaving the hemmed opening at the point. Next, place the hemmed bottom piece up against the top piece and match the pattern if you can. Pin and sew around all three sides at the bottom of the bag.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-8diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-95. At this point I used a zig-zag stitch around all the edges to prevent fraying. Then turn the bag right side out and slip in the coat hanger. The hang is ideal for hanging the peg bag in your kitchen or utility room and for hanging on the washing line while you’re hanging out clothes.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-10 diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-11diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-21 Continue reading “My mini kitchen makeover – DIY peg bag sewing project + carrier bag dispenser” »


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My first attampt a knitting an ombre scarf…

I don’t know whether it’s the weather, or the darker evenings, or just the fast approaching Winter but for whatever reason, I’ve had the urge to knit. DIY homemade ombre scarf using chunky alpaca wool-2

I’ve tried knitting in the past but never really progressed beyond a knitted bow that my friend Laurie taught me to make using her YouTube tutorial but this year I want to try a bigger project. Or perhaps I should say longer project. It’s not going to be a super-challenging knitting project (I’m still too novice for that!) but I want to at least knit one complete scarf.

DIY homemade ombre scarf using chunky alpaca wool

I’m hoping this will become a Christmas gift for my husband and it will go well with the knitwear gift that I’m planning to treat him to for Christmas – there’s a new range in Debenhams by my favourite TV hero Patrick Grant. Yes, the tasty judge of The Great British Sewing Bee has created a fabulous collection of men’s knitwear, shirts and tailoring so I’m hoping to be able to snap up a festive fairisle jumper for my husband for Christmas, that’s if they don’t all sell out before then!

DIY homemade ombre scarf using chunky alpaca wool-3

So although I’m not brave enough to tackle fairisle pattern just yet, I will be attempting to make an ombre scarf. I’m hoping that the pattern will be straight lines (simple enough even for me!) and the colours will do all the work – creating a gradient effect by using 3 different colours of wool. I also chose this chunky knit because it is super-soft alpaca wool and will look great knitted into a chunky, manly style. Well, that’s the theory anyway!

DIY homemade ombre scarf using chunky alpaca wool-4

I’ll keep you updated with my progress via photos on my Instagram @Cassiefairy and let you know how I get on with my first big knitting project. Wish me luck!


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My ‘new’ vintage dress ~ the repairs

It’s taken a little longer than I’d hoped, but my vintage dress is finally fixed!

My retro tortoiseshell cat’s eye sunglasses are from Sunglass Junkie and shoes from New Look

It was mostly down to my laziness over the summer holidays that delayed the repairs but I spent an evening at my sewing machine this week and cracked on with it. My second excuse for the delay is that there was actually more to do to the dress than I’d initially thought. I knew that the sides needed to be repaired – both were split under the arms – but the length and the front of the dress were an altogether more difficult project that I’d imagined. Here are my photos of the ‘easy’ repair, when I ran a simple straight stitch up the sides of the dress and along the arms to rejoin the split seams:

The front of the dress was slightly harder to manage: I didn’t like how the fabric rolled over at the front and no amount of pressing would make it lie flat, so I thought that a little bit of understitching would solve the problem. Unfortunately, the fabric continued to roll outwards even after I’d understitched it, so I tried to re-hem the edge altogether. Again, the fabric rolled out and looked untidy, so I decided that there was only one thing for it: stitch the wrap front to the internal vest so that it became one piece. Thankfully, this worked and now the wrap front lies flat and looks tidy!

Changing the length of the dress was really rather straightforward, once I’d got my head around it! I liked the pattern along the existing hem and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to made a nice job of taking it up and re-hemming the skirt. So I decided to take it up at the waistband instead. I bravely (or stupidly?!) chopped the skirt off the dress at the waistband and shortened the top of the skirt by 3 inches all round. I then pinned the skirt inside the top section, with right sides together, and stitched all the way around the skirt to reattach it.

Thankfully the elasticated waistband helped to ease the skirt into the top and it is now a knee-length dress on me and looks much nicer! Here’s a photo of before the chop and the length afterwards:

So my bargain buy at the Americana Day might have taken me a bit of time and a lot of head-scratching to repair, but now that it’s finished I m delighted! I’m sure I will get a lot of use out of this dress, and because of the dark colour, I think it will be a year-round outfit so I look forward to wearing it with tights and boots this winter too!

 I still can’t believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!


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My little vintage caravan project ~ the first thing I’ve made in my new sewing room

This is a big moment for me – I’m sharing the first sewing project I’ve done in my little vintage caravan after starting the project to makeover the old retro van into my new sewing studio. I’m still quite far off finishing my ‘office’ but I’ve got a table and somewhere to sit now, so there’s no reason why I can’t start sewing out there as planned!

I’ve borrowed hubby’s loooong outdoor extension lead so now I’ve got electricity and I can at least plug in my sewing machine and have the radio on while I work. I will need to sort out a better and more weather-proof electrics for the caravan if I want to use it over the winter (which I’m sure will result in another dull-but-necessary blog post!) but for now, the roll-out extension cable does the job. So this is the first sewing project I worked on last week – an appliqué tulip design.

cassiefairys applique tulip project for amanda addison creative crafting

After setting so many inspiration challenges of my own, I wanted to join in with Amanda Addison’s craft challenge, which I learnt about during the Creative Crafting blog tour over the summer. She set the challenge to use her tulip design and appliqué it onto anything we like. I started with a piece of gingham and a tiny scrap of red fabric and soon decided that I wanted to create an appliquéd picture that I could frame and hang in the caravan in the future. I used zig-zag stitch over the edges and chose a contrasting pink thread to outline the petals.

I was happy with the finished image and sent a photo of it to Amanda. There were lots of other crafters joining in with the challenge with a variety of results – adding the tulip design to jeans, cushions and even a tray! She has shared some of the projects on her website, so please check out her blog post  and you can even get the tulip design pattern for yourself and add it to your own craft items in the future. And don’t forget that this month’s inspiration challenge theme for my own blog is ‘apples’ so check out the challenge blog post and join in by making something crafty!

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

I’m pleased to make my first item in my caravan ‘studio’ and I can’t wait to carry on crafting after I build my work surface. Now that I’ve started working in the caravan, I’ve realised that I desperately need some storage solutions – somewhere to put my fabric, equipment and craft supplies, so I’m going to keep an eye out for a desk, some free-standing shelves and storage boxes. I’m sure there will be another caravan update soon, so come back when you get the chance!  🙂

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