Ahh it’s nearly time to take down those festive decorations and get your home back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is! Apparently decorations should be taken down by the “12th night”, although there seems to be some confusion over when that is – it’s either the 5th or the 6th January. Either way, the time for sparkly decorations is up – although I say why not leave it til the weekend when you’ve got more time to do it anyway? Or leave up those fairy lights all year, haha!So before everyone packs away their Christmas decs, I wanted to share some photos that my friend Sophia sent me of her caravan decorated for the holidays. Is there anything more lovely than a caravan covered in fairy lights?? To be honest I keep my Christmas lights in my caravan all year round; they’re solar powered so are an excellent cost-free light source! Please admire these pics of Sophia’s 1967 Sprite caravan renovation project all dressed-up for Christmas: We first started chatting when Sophia got in touch to ask where I got the window seals for my own Alpine Sprite caravan. She had just started work on her old 1967 Sprite in the USA and was planning a big revamp of the old camping vehicle. She’d seen my own carvan renovation project on my blog and knew that I’d have some tips to share about the fixtures and fittings for an old Sprite. Continue reading “The 12th Night & a 1967 Sprite caravan decorated for Christmas” »
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 had a lovely surprise this week when I flicked through the winter issue of Oxfam newspaper: my festive wreath project has been featured in the publication! Of course, Oxfam had been in touch earlier this year to ask permission to use my content and, seeing as I’d created it for the Oxfam Fashion blog in the first place, I was happy to oblige.In fact, I was over the moon! It’s amazing to think that my little thrifty project is being printed in a real newspaper and distributed to Oxfam customers, volunteers and donors all around the country. Wow, I’m so chuffed!The feature contains step-by-step photos to show readers how to use scrap fabrics and ends of ribbon to make a funky Christmas wreath. I loved creating this project, enjoyed sharing it on my blog and on the Oxfam website, and now I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s been immortalised in print! Woo!You can find this project and all my other blog posts on my Oxfam blogger profile, and while you’re there, have a look around the Oxfam fashion blog and read all the interesting finds and projects that the other volunteer writers have been working on.
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” »
Today’s blog post is a super-fast DIY project to add a little personality to an off-the-peg high street top. Yes, I’m doing a Primark hack, and I don’t care who knows it! It’s such a quick project that I did it just half an hour before heading out to a party wearing the top. AND I had time to photograph it for you..! Now, that’s quick, eh? Read on to find out how I added a little pizzazz (or should I say pom-poms?) to my new cotton top.I picked up this heart print top from Primark for £6 only a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those oversize tops in breezy cotton so it’s great on hot days, plus it’ll look fab under a cardi for winter too, so I couldn’t resist it. This same top is also available in floral prints, geometric patterns and plenty of different colours, so have a look next time you’re in Primark and grab a couple to play around with at home. I bought the top in a too-small size 8. This is because I didn’t want the top to be ‘too’ blousey and wanted it to sit better on my shoulders. I know that the design is supposed to be oversize, but I preferred how the size 8 fit me and I wanted to add some on-trend side-splits so it didn’t matter if it was a little tight over the hips.While I was out shopping, I also picked up some mini pom-pom trim from the haberdashery. I got 1.5m just in case, but actually 1 metre was more than enough. This cost me £1.65 in total for the trim, and some other colours were even lower in price so I might pop back for a bright yellow soon! I was very excited to turn a standard high street top into something a little more unique so I hurried home to start sewing. Adding splits and pom-poms works well on any cotton or lightweight top, because you don’t have to worry about the stretch of the fabric. Here’s how to do this make-it-your-own project…Step 1. Put on the top and decide where you would like the side splits to come up to. Mark it with a pin, then fold in half down the centre to check that the splits go up to the same point on both sides.
Step 2. Carefully unpick the seam up to this point. I was rather impatient and cut straight through the fabric but if you unpick it, you’ll have a seam allowance on each side which makes turning back a hem easier!
Do you want to give a note of freshness to your home but you don’t have the necessary budget? Don’t worry! With a bit of creativity, some skills, and a bit of guidance you can make some amazing DIY projects that will completely change your home’s interior. And, let’s face it: DIY projects are so much more fun than buying stuff from the store! Even scientists remarked that we love more the things we build with the sweat of our brow. Today we are going to offer several simple tricks that are borderline genius if you think about it. And the best part is that, at the end of each project, you’ll have a more beautiful home without spending a fortune on decorating.
Repurpose old things
Remember those things that you were going to throw out but didn’t get the chance yet? You may want to reconsider some of them. Here are a few ideas that could help with the general décor:
- An old cabinet door can be repurposed as a tray (see above) to serve your friends with delicious goodies when they come over. All you need is a bit of paint and two gorgeous looking handles that you can find in any store. At the end of the day, you’ll have an original tray that looks amazing on the coffee table.
- An old jumper you love but can’t wear anymore because it ‘felted’ in the wash can still be close to you as coasters. All you have to do is find a glass with a wide mouth and a pencil to draw the circle. Simply cut and saw at the edge and voila! You’ve got a set of original coasters that look amazing around the house.
- Got a piece of rope lying around and don’t know what to do with it? Well, you can use it as a support for a bathroom mirror or a big painting. The rope looks amazing on a colored wall and highlights the object that it is supporting.
Tomorrow is one of the most exciting dates in any thrifty blogger’s calendar – 24th June is National Upcycling Day. If you have any plans to do up a piece of furniture or have been pinning sewing ideas on Pinterest for months, tomorrow is the day to start that task! I’ve always got a handful of DIY projects on the go at any one time so it’s a great excuse for me to crack on with them. Plus, if you get started tomorrow, you’ve got the whole weekend to really get stuck into the project and get it finished. Today I’ve created a really simple step-by-step to give your kitchen utensils an easy makeover and I’ve shared how to create your own compact spray-painting ‘studio’. Read on to see what I did…
I love the way that upcycling can help me save money by simply putting in a bit of time and effort to make something old and unwanted into something I can use and love. I’ve renovated an old display cabinet to use in my little vintage caravan, I turned a chest of drawers into a desk, stitched placemats into cushions and even made my own wallpaper from old books. Yes, my blog is full of DIYs and thrifty upcycling projects so I hope you’ll browse around my DIY Interiors category and get some inspiration for money-saving decorating. For National Upcycling Day I’m sharing possibly the fastest and easiest DIY I’ve ever done. For a while now I’ve been pinning photos of kitchen utensils which have been dipped in paint to give them a splash of colour on the handles. I’ve taken inspiration from these projects and have spray painted the handles of my existing wooden spoon collection. There’s probably little need for step-by-step for this thrifty project but here’s what I did just in case you’d like to recreate these colourful utensils at home. Continue reading “A quick kitchen DIY for National Upcycling Day” »
Everybody knows wellington boots are an amazing accessory for any wet day, but unfortunately we tend to find ourselves only wearing them a handful of times throughout the year. As a result of this, especially with the little ones, the next time you go to pop them on they’re too small. Well, if you find this to be the case then don’t worry, you can make yourself some welly planters! What better way to not only add a little fun to your garden, but to recycle too! Here’s a guide on how you can make your wellies into fun little plant pots and add a little extra colour to your garden.
Before you begin making your welly planters, there’s a few things you’ll need:
- Wellington Boots
- A Drill
- Watering Can
- Stones or Pebbles
- Waterproof labels (if you wish to label your plants)
Now you have everything you need, you can get started. Make sure you wash your wellington boots with warm water and a little soap, just to give them a freshen up. Dry them off with an old tea towel and then you’re good to go. You can use new wellington boots if your current ones still fit, that’s up to you, but I’d recommend going rummaging at the carboot sale to pick up a used pair for pennies! Next, remove any insoles or liners that are inside the wellington boots, as we need as much space as we can get.
Hold the wellington from the bottom, sole facing upwards (and use a clamp on a workbench to hold it in place!) while you drill a few small holes around the edges of the boot and a couple on the sole. This will make sure that when you water your plants, the water drains out evenly and the compost will be able to breathe. Fill the bottom of the wellington with some stones or pebbles, this is to weigh the welly down so that if there are any blustery days, your new planter will be less likely to fall over. Also, having stones at the bottom will make it that little bit easier for the water to drain out, as there will be room between the compost and the holes.