Monday 30 May 2011

Sew a little love: Homemade Lantern Tutorial

Sew a little love: Homemade Lantern Tutorial: "If there is one thing that Julie Andrews should have mentioned alongside 'Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens', it's flickering candl..."

Homemade Lantern Tutorial

If there is one thing that Julie Andrews should have mentioned alongside 'Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens', it's flickering candlelight! It's definitely one of my favourite things. Whether it's used to brighten up a cold, dark, gloomy winter's night, or to lend magic sparkle to a late balmy summer's evening, it's something I couldn't imagine life without! I'm sure I could climb my own Everest if I had collected all the wax that have brightened up our dinner times, bath times, special occasions and non-occasions!

Now, I for one think that tea lights are just delightful placed in little lanterns, and hanging from tree branches when entertaining. They create beautiful ambience when dotted around the garden. (Care should be taken however when doing this, as to avoid setting your magnolia alight!) I would like to share this very simple idea with you for creating lanterns from empty glass jars.

You will need:
  • Empty, clean glass jars, labels removed. Any size or shape of your choice.
  • Wire (You can use recycled wire coat hangers, but the thicker the wire, the harder it is to manipulate. Thinner varieties can be obtained from your local DIY store or builder's merchant's.)
  • Magic Motifs (These are sticky double-sided transfers that come in a range of different designs. )
  • Glitter powder in a colour of your choice. I have used sparkly white as this looks really pretty in     candlelight!
  • Lace, ribbon
  • Tools, such as pliers and wire cutters
  • Simply rub your Magic Motif design onto the jar in the desired location, and peel back the backing paper to leave a sticky print on the jar.
  • Now pour some glitter over your design, and shake off the excess. Voila!
  • Another option is to use lace instead of the Magic Motifs. Simply sew a piece of lace around the jar. The easiest way is to measure around the jar. This will be the finished length of your lace jacket. Cut some lace, adding about a cm as your seam allowance either side. Fold the ribbon in half, right sides together, sew on your 1cm seam allowance, turn inside out, and 'hey presto!' Pull over your jar.
  • All you have to do now is cut two pieces of wire. Twist the first around the top of the jar, just resting in the grooves. Make a handle with the second by shaping it as shown in the picture below. Hook it all together, and you're done.

  • If you want you can now add a bit of colour with some ribbon, or add some interest with some decorative fabric shapes, beads, or metal butterflies. Use whatever grabs your imagination!

I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial, and feel inspired to try it yourself. Drop me a comment below to let me know how you get on. Happy crafting!

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Nifty Thrifting Tips

'Thrifting' seems to be one of those buzz words at the moment, often surfacing in blogs and conversation. I for one am passionate about this trend that seems to be cropping up everywhere. To be thrifty means 'to be cautious and wise with money', according to my little Collins Gem dictionary. Now, my other half might disagree with me here, but I do try to apply this principle when it comes to the old purse strings. After all, I have discovered that the joy I experience from discovering a real find in the most unlikely of places is equal if not greater than just purchasing a new item off a high street shelf. There is also something special about choosing something that has already lived a life, however long it may have been, and to breathe new life into it.

Now, I don't claim to be an expert when it comes to the art of thrifting, but I thought I'd share some of my experiences with you, and hopefully this will inspire you to have a go at it if you haven't already. I can ramble on forever about this passion of mine, but I abide by a few simple rules and will start by sharing those with you.

Rule no. 1: Know the hot spots! The best places to bag a bargain are charity shops, bootsales, garage sales, estate sales, newspaper sales, and DO NOT underestimate the yellow skip on the side of the road. These often yield unexpected treasures. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure! Swallow your pride and dig! (You might want to ask first if this would be okay! Politeness and a bit of charm goes a long way!)

Rule no. 2: Dress for the occasion. Going shopping in my books is always an occasion! However, when going thrifting you might want to consider something other than heels. Comfy flat shoes are best for doing all those miles in, and a nice shopper bag is a must. We all want to save on using all those plastic bags, right? I went thrifting this weekend, and this is what I wore.

Plimsolls are my favourite! I feel like I can run a marathon in them! The fabric shopper bag can fold up small in my handbag until such time as I find that 'I can't live without it' item. As for the rest, well it was comfy and practical! (Ooh, I also had to sport my new red lips and nails. The lipstick is from Boots, and I love it! At a mere £1.99 it's a snip! Part of the Natural Collection. The nail varnish was a gift from a friend, Rimmel 60 second, and yes, it does really dry in 60 seconds flat!)

Rule no 3: Have a game plan! Shop with a clear idea of what you're looking for. If you find it, great! If you don't, let it be. Do not feel obliged to make a purchase in fear of going home empty handed. Surely the shops will still be there next week! For example, I have been looking out for one or two little things for some time now, and often I've had to resign myself to the fact that one day I will stumble upon it. Good things come to those who wait, don't they? And today I found it!

I have been looking for a little deer since December, at a price that I was willing to pay. Today is the 22nd of May, and I've finally found one for a song. (No, I didn't really have to sing for it, but I think if I had to they would have paid ME to keep quiet, to take it and LEAVE! Hee-hee...)

Rule no. 4: Go early! This tip seems so obvious, but I can't stress it enough! If you have those extra few minutes tucked up in bed, you WILL lose out on the catch of the day! Quality items at bootsales get snatched up very quickly, so be quick. Early bird catches the worm!

Rule no. 5: Think outside the box. If you're too set in your ways you might lose out on that wonderful find that could be something lovely. If you see an item you like, and it's not quite perfect, think of ways to make it perfect for you. I found this picture in a charity shop and liked elements of it. The frame however was too bright for my liking (gold), and it looked too new. I prefer things that are a little rough around the edges. I painted the frame in a white distressed finish, and, wait for it...I took sandpaper to the canvas to rough it up a bit! Voila!

Talking about thinking outside of the box...I needed some new food storage containers for leftovers as mine always seem to go AWOL. (I have a feeling if I was to dig in my kidlet's sandpit, I might unearth at least a few, but I'm no geologist!) So, when I saw these in a thrift shop I was delighted, as they're a lot more fun than the bland clear plastics on offer in the supermarket, and they were as cheap as chips, and in mint condition!

Rule no. 6: If in doubt, walk away. This action of walking away from something you're not sure of, doesn't only apply to choosing a husband! Hee-hee...If you like something, but you're not entirely sure whether to cough up your hard-earned cash, walk away. This action will either prompt you to go back, because you really cannot imagine losing out on such a good find, or make you forget all about it! In this instance you really didn't need it, and saved yourself some pennies. Here is something I walked away from today, but went back for! A beautiful Wedgwood flower pot, perfect for housing the little fern a relative gave me last week.

Well, these are a few of the tips that seem to work for me. Thrifting is so much fun, and I'd love to hear from you if you have any handy hints, pearls of wisdom, or experiences you'd like to share. I'll leave you with a few images of my thrifty finds. Ta-ra for now!

Thrifted finds



Thursday 19 May 2011

Sew overdue!

It has been an awfully long time since I grabbed hold of the old blogging pen, but life and it's daily grind just got the better of me for a brief while. I'm trying to restore balance by making more time for making, and I feel like I've tried to make up for it this past week! I have made quite a few new bits to satisfy my appetite for dressing up every nook and cranny of our home, and I thought I'd share some of them with you.

It all started with THE dresser...For so long now I have hankered after a Welsh dresser for the living room, and the hinting, sighing and eBay trawling has finally paid off. Hubby treated me (although he says it's for me, I think he wanted and liked it just as much) to this beauty, a beautifully restored and painted piece of history.

Needless to say, I couldn't wait to deck it out with a few of my favourite things! I finally have a special place for my vintage tea sets, a place where I can admire them every day. Well, I thought that I possessed enough earthly treasures to grace the shelves of my newly acquired  friend, and I probably do, but, like a blushing bride,  I wanted to add something new to sit alongside the old, borrowed and blue...I might give the blue a miss as we don't want to mess with the colour scheme of red and cream too much!  I decided to reach for my fabric scraps box, and stitched a few bits together to pop into an embroidery loop, and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. It's no Sistine chapel of the quilting world, it's naive and simple, but I like it!

And well, what would a dresser be without a heart to inject some loving perspective? I just love hearts, and was inspired by one featured on Flickr by bailiewickdesigns. I had a go at making one using an old doilie and some linen, and hey presto!

I was on a bit of a roll, and decided that the monstrosity of two white radiators anchored to my living room and landing walls, were in desperate need of a make-over...well, it ended up more of a cover up, but then, isn't that what a make-over is in most cases, just a very clever cover up? I'm rambling now. Here is what I did.

I sewed two covers to hang over the radiators. This idea was born out of necessity more than a light-bulb moment. The paint on one radiator is peeling off, and I needed a quick way to hide it from curious little toddler fingers which are all too tempted to pick away at it like a baby baboon at it's fleas! Well, so far, so good. And, another paint job can sit on the shelf until I can be bothered to do it!

Talking about a cover-up, it didn't quite stop with the central heating bug bears! My sewing friend, the dear Elna that has brought me many happy hours of creative pleasure, also needed a little coat to hide under, as it rests in prime view in my living room. I decided to make a cover for it to blend it into the existing chaos of my craft corner....Ta-da!

Now, I'm somewhat taken aback by my own industrious endeavours this week, but I'm pleased that I have managed to complete some projects that have been left on the back burner for way too long. I had two matte black candlesticks which cried out for some shabby chicness. After some not-so-thorough sanding and a few licks of paint, they now have pride of place on THE dresser. I'm chuffed to bits!

A few jolly jazzed up jars sit happily alongside these, ready to cheer up a gloomy British evening with some cheerful candlelight  flickers.

So, a week and approximately two spools of  Gutermann cotton later, I'm a happy gal bitten by the bug of business, aiming to sew more, and to share more. Do check in and share your thoughts. Would love to hear from you!