Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Owl Cupcake Toppers

Felt Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Our local schools break up for their half-term holiday on Friday, with all next week off.  It's been a long eight weeks since the start of term back in September and both students and teachers are ready for a well earned rest.

Alice has now joined her brother at secondary school and it was a very successful transition, due to the efforts of her lovely form tutor and subject teachers.  George went into Year Ten and has stayed with the same great tutor for the fourth year running.

As a little thank you for all their help and care in making the first half term so painless, the children and I stitched up some cute cupcake toppers for both tutors.

George also helped out with the design of the packaging and on the back is one of my favourite seasonal quotes;

 'Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower' Albert Camus

The yummy frosted cupcakes were purchased in Sainsburys and the ones pictured only just made it through the photo shoot before they were polished off by some very willing 'helpers'.  I'm now putting off buying replacements until the last minute, hopefully avoiding further temptation!

We're off to Barcelona for a few days next week and when we return it will be almost time for our Halloween party, so it should be a lovely break for the children.  If you're on holiday too, enjoy!

Monday, 20 October 2014

How to Style Cheap Plastic Skeletons

Give your decorations a cool new look!

The quick tutorial I'm sharing with you today is not only the most straightforward of my Halloween DIYs - it's also one of my favourites.  I took inexpensive plastic decorations and instantly gave them a great new look, simply by the application of a little heat!

Take a look at these guys - Don't they look debonair in their casually cool poses!

They actually started out as cheap hanging decorations bought from my local supermarket, and are just the kind of thing you find in any pound or dollar store.  The little chap below has yet to be subjected to the magic;


So to place boring skeletons into far more interesting poses, simply heat with a hot air gun and gently manipulate into place.  The process doesn't even need any extra photos, it really is that easy!

 Go and turn up the heat!

Monday, 13 October 2014

From Plastic Clock to Perfect Cloche!

Halloween Cloche Tutorial

Our Halloween theme this year is 'Victorian Gothic' so, not surprisingly, bell jars, cloches, apothecary jars and other weird and wonderful curiosities all feature prominently.  

We've collected lots of great items but something exciting happens when 'treasures' are placed under glass, as they instantly become even more special!  Our displayed specimens also have authentic looking museum labels, which I created in a gorgeous copperplate script, adding to the Victorian curiosities feel.  

I love cloches and bell jars but found them shockingly expensive in the shops and I needed loads to transform our home into the abode of a slightly eccentric Victorian family, so I set about making my own.  I've already shared a tutorial on the smaller cloches, two of which you can see on either side of the top hat wearing skull.  They looked great, but I also wanted a few taller ones for our larger exhibits so when I found a (very) kitsch plastic dome clock at my local car boot fair I knew I had struck thrifting gold!  I subsequently found another six, paying between 50p and £1.00 for each, leading to my next Halloween Craft DIY;

Thrifted dome clock
Small handle or knob
Spray paint 
Dremel or drill

Firstly remove the clock itself as only the base and dome are needed.  Simply turn the clock over and unscrew, retaining the removed parts for a later project.    

The next step is to cover the holes left from the clock with a circle of acetate.  I upcycled mine from the clear window commonly found in packaging.  It needs to be the same size as the inner circle on the base.  Stick into place and then spray paint black.

If your dome is plastic rather than glass, drill a hole in the top and attach a small cabinet handle.  Mine was originally a rather bright brass colour so I sprayed it black to perfectly match the base.

That's it........

...from plastic clock to perfect cloche!

What will you display in yours?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sewing World Magazine ~ SewforSoul Feature

Nifty Needles, October 2014

October's Sewing World Magazine is in shops now and features another SewforSoul project;

A little linen needlecase stitched up in cute navy and red dotty fabrics  

The sewing notions fabric is Makower's 'Sew Retro Montage' and it was purchased from the lovely Lucy over at Secret Garden Quilting.  The needlecase can be personalised by picking out different colours from the Sew Retro fabric and then stitching the applique in matching shades.  You could also embroider a name instead of the 'Needles' wording, making a very thoughtful Christmas gift for a fellow stitcher.  This baby blue version was made for Jude and regular SewforSoul readers might recognise it from this post.

Like many of my projects it features my favourite raw edge applique and free motion machine embroidery techniques.

There's a useful internal pocket running the length of the case, perfect for holding a few stitching essentials;

If you're going to be stitching your own 'Niffy Needles Case', then do consider paying  Secret Garden Quilting a visit.  It's a small business independently run by Lucy who holds regular pop-up shops in local village halls, as well as the online store, but she is hoping to eventually open up on her local high street.  Postage and packaging starts at just £1.95 and is free for spends over £50!  I love visiting little quilting stores and unless we all support small businesses then the future will only see large multi-nationals attempting to cater to our stitching needs.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Halloween DIY Printed Candles

Steampunk Inspired Tutorial

As well as my usual stitching, I'm also busy preparing for George's Halloween birthday party.  I kept my eyes open throughout the Summer car boot sale season for anything fitting our Victorian Gothic / Steampunk theme and now have lots of lovely upcycling projects to share over the next few weeks!

Firstly we want the house to be candlelit for the dinner but I was taken aback by the price of pillar candles in the shops, so they were a definite on my 'booting hit-list', (provided they cost 20p or less!)  Luckily I found plenty but, having been purchased secondhand, they were all different sizes and varying shades of white and cream. Some of them were also warped, presumably having being displayed on sunny windowsills, and all were rather grubby.   They were therefore in desperate need of a revamp and here are the results;

Steampunk Inspired Candles

I had already designed the party invitations and the artwork I used was also perfect for this project.  Having the same strong images running throughout creates unity, and a gives far more stylish and glamorous feel than you would expect from a thrifted event!

Easy DIY Printed Candle Tutorial

The candles were super easy to produce and cost mere pennies using materials you probably already have;

Inkjet printer or ink-pad and stamps 
Tissue paper
Printer paper
Glue stick

An uninspiring grubby start!

The first step is to transfer your chosen images to the tissue paper.  If you have suitable Halloween stamps simply use these, otherwise a quick search of the internet will throw up hundreds of possibilities!

I was using printed images, so cut down a sheet of tissue paper to the same size as a regular sheet of copier paper.  My tissue was upcycled from gift packaging so I also gave it a quick press with my iron before securing it to the copier paper with a tiny dab of glue in each corner.  Both sheets were then feed thorough the printer in the usual manner.

Here they come!

Now cut out the printed images, trimming closely to the outlines.  Depending on the sharpness of your scissors it might be easier to achieve this whilst the tissue is still backed with the thicker printer paper.

The final stage is to fix the trimmed images to the candle fronts using the heat from your hairdryer.  Another quick dab of glue stick prevents an image from fluttering off in the warm air before it's fully fused!

As the hairdryer heats up the candle, the edges of the tissue paper magically disappear, sinking gently into the molten wax. In the above photo you can just make out the tissue edge around the skeleton's right hand and leg but in another second or two they'll be gone!

All finished

Halloween Gothic Candles 

I've made over thirty of them but here are just two making their debut in this year's 'Glamorous Gothic' mantel display.  

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Appliqued Hot Water Bottle Cover

 Upcycled Wool Sweater

September's Cuddly Buddly Design Team Challenge is entitled 'Teenage Christmas' and it proved to be just the nudge I needed to start my festive stitching.  I decided to make an appliqued hot water bottle cover using a Benetton vintage cashmere sweater, which cost me just 20p 'ready felted' (shrunk!) from my local car boot sale;  

I then downloaded and resized this 'Santa Sitting' digi stamp so that his face filled the front of my cover and got stitching. 

Pure wool felt is bliss to sew with as it doesn't fray and feels super expensive.  It's also ridiculously easy to make - Simply throw a 'hand wash only' woollen jumper into your machine on a hot wash.  Heck, I've even sometimes created it by mistake!

For a complete cuteness overload, gently rouge dear old Father Christmas's cheeks with a red colouring pencil.

 The back of the case features a simple overlapping envelope closure, in the style of a pillow case.  

This was such an easy project to make but it looks looks and feels so much more expensive than the usual polyester 'knitted' covers that the shops are full of at Christmas.  I have written a simple step-by-step tutorial over at the Cuddly Buddly Blog and don't forget that 'Pound Stores' sell hot water bottles nice and cheaply should you want to make your own.

Digital stamps are perfect for applique and you could even make a matching card for a real 'Wow Factor'.  Just have a look at this stunning example;

It was made by the very talented Wendy over at Crazy4FlowersCards, her whole blog is full of fantastic creations and well worth a visit.

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Caravan Heart Applique

Cuddly Buddly Design Team

It's almost time for September's Design Team Challenge over at Cuddly Buddly and I suddenly realised that I hadn't even blogged August's!  Summer always seems to push blogging into the background as I would much rather be outside in the fresh air than sat inside in front of a computer screen.

Anyway, the theme was 'Thank you' and I stitched up a little appliqued 'Thanks for the Memories' hanging linen heart.  The weather has now taken a turn for the worst and it feels almost autumnal, so I would happily indulge myself with dreaming of British summers spent in a cute little caravan!  I based the applique on this digital stamp which costs just 99p from the Cuddly Buddly store.

It was a quick project to stitch up and I used the same basic pattern as I created for this owl hanging heart which you can read about here.

I'm also intending to stitch up some Christmas versions, as I love to see decorations created in classic linen hanging from the tree!

In the meantime there's a full  tutorial over at Cuddly Buddly, with easy step-by-step photos, so you can get stitching one of your own.