Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand.....

Alice loves fingerless gloves and my Mum was looking for 'easy to transport' knitting projects which she could take to hospital appointments to while away waiting times.  A match made in heaven!  We turned to the internet for inspiration and found this wonderful picture, post and pattern from the very talented Laura over at Pickin' and Throwin'.  

Alice calls them her 'Hugs and Kisses' mittens, as here in the UK people often sign off Birthday cards with a series of 'XOXOXO's' which are then known as hugs and kisses!

She wanted a chunky grey wool and Granny got started immediately.  She must be a quick worker as they were on Alice's hands within a week, including postal time!

Mum was a little disappointed that the dappled grey colour slightly obscured Laura's lovely cable design but the upside is that the shadings should also prevent the mitts from needing a wash after every wearing!

Thanks Granny xxx

Monday, 20 January 2014

Plastic Eggs ~ Napkin Decoupage Tutorial

Using PVA is much 'cheeper' than Mod Podge!

Last Friday I received an email from the rather marvellous 'Style at Home' magazine asking me about my plans for the Easter Bank Holiday.  'Blimey' I thought 'Christmas was only a fortnight ago!'.  Jen and her team have to work months ahead in order to meet the tight deadlines required to get the magazine onto the shelves for all us eager readers.  Still, that email gave me the little push I needed to start thinking about Spring and Easter projects.  I am planning to make 30 personalised and embroidered linen egg cosies as gifts for the guests at our annual party, which we hold after Mass on Easter Sunday.  I am still mulling over designs in my head (read procrastinating), so I grabbed my scissors and PVA glue and placed all thoughts of stitching aside.

Instead I decided to 'age' these unattractive plastic eggs.  We have bags of them left over from the egg hunts which the children used to enjoy when they were younger.  

 Most of the children in our social group are reaching the teenage years and an egg hunt is 'too young' for them.  So after lunch on Easter Sunday we either go for or a walk or have a retro sports day.  They're not too old for egg and spoon, sack and three-legged races!

The plastic eggs are now surplus to requirements so I got creative with an old book of quotations and some paper napkins and this is what I ended up with....

Antique Eggs!

 I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but I am really pleased with them.  They remind me of gorgeous Victorian botanical prints and book plates.  They were quite time consuming to produce, but the process was actually very easy and I am already dreaming about displaying batches of them under glass cloches and hurricane vases on the dinner table.

They cost next to nothing to produce and if you are a keen crafter you will probably already have all the supplies you need.  I used plastic eggs (obviously), book pages, watered down PVA glue, brown paint and some pretty paper dinner serviettes.


I didn't prepare the eggs in any way at all, I didn't even bother gluing the two halves together and they worked perfectly, so grab your bits and pieces and jump straight in.

The first step was to stick on a layer of plain paper, I used some blank pages from the front of the book, onto to eggs using watered down PVA glue.  You don't need to worry about the exact ratio of glue to water, just aim for the consistency of very thin single cream.  I felt this first layer was necessary as the eggs were such lurid colours.  I guess you could just add more than one layer of printed book pages, but I didn't want too much print showing through.  Make sure you tear the paper rather than cutting it as this gives the pieces softer edges which blend into each other better when pasted down.

I worked in a little production line so that whilst one layer was drying I got started on the next egg.  I found that if I tried to stick too many paper strips onto an egg in one go I just ended up in a sticky mess!  I used an old, yellowed book of quotations, but if you don't have a suitable book to hand just use newspaper.

Once all the layers were completely dry, it was time to get creative with the paper napkins. I used botanical and butterfly themed versions.

Cut out your chosen image from the napkins, being sure to trim the design as closely as possible. Then separate the layers and, using the top ply only, smooth into place on your egg using more of the watered down PVA glue.  I used my finger for this part of the process as I found I had more control this way rather than using a paint brush.

 To complete the aging process I brushed some watered down brown poster paint over the eggs before quickly wiping off any excess.  A final coat of the PVA mixture will seal your finished final design and then you can simply sit back and admire your handiwork!


Monday, 13 January 2014

Baby Bunting Appliqued Garland

Personalised Flags with Appliqué

During the Christmas holidays we received the much awaited news that Alice's godmother had given birth to her second beautiful daughter and so I got straight down to some special stitching to mark this happy occasion.

The new arrival was a very bouncing 11lb 6oz and is pictured here with her proud big sister

I first met her Mummy when she was still at primary school and her mother was the landlord of the house whose floor I was sleeping on whilst the purchase of my own house went through.  I sometimes find it hard to believe that she is now all grown up and that over twenty years have slipped by.  She and her lovely husband are both engineers and spent the first part of their married life working out in Abu Dhabi but are now back in the UK.  Easier for visiting family and friends I guess, but not quite as warm!

I have just finished stitching each of the girls a string of personalised fabric bunting in coordinating pastel colours.  As ever the material is upcycled, this time I have used a piece of well laundered fabric which was originally a 'Next' duvet cover.  The years of washing have left it with a lovely soft 'shabby chic' feel!

Bunting is always well received as a gift and is pretty easy to make.  Even better it uses very little fabric especially if you alternate your flags/pennants when you mark them out.  You can even back the triangles with plain fabric if you are using a more expensive fabric for the front pieces.

Having cut out my flags, I then traced the necessary letters onto fusible web.  I used a font reminiscent of an American college alphabet as I felt the girls would be less likely to outgrow these later.  If you are having a go yourself don't forget to reverse your letters when you trace them onto the iron-on web, you won't believe how many times I have made this rookie mistake!

I created each set in the same colour palette so that they wouldn't clash if they were hung together.

Both sets are shown in these pictures, so the letters are mixed up.  In reality the owl bunting has all the teal letters and the butterfly features the pink.

Both the letters and the motifs were applied using fusible web (bondaweb) and then I simply highlighted the details by machine stitching around them with black thread.  The picture below shows the butterflies before and after the stitching has been added.

The bias-binding was made from an old pillowcase and I used a scrap of the same fabric for the owls' tummy, which really pulled the whole design together.

My first project of this year, thanks for joining me and visit again soon xx

If you go down to the woods today.....

Family time

It's hard to believe that today is the children's first Monday of school since 2013!  Christmas and the New Year seem like a dim and distant memory, so I thought I would post a couple of snaps from the holidays before I get back to my stitching.  

If you look carefully at the following picture you can just make out a lake glinting behind the trees.  We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a nature reserve, ancient woodland, river, lakes and a stunning English Heritage site with breathtaking ruins. 

The girls had each been given a 'crossbow' for Christmas and had a wonderful time ambushing their brothers.

 If you go down to the woods today.............

Meeting these two might just give you that 'big surprise'!