Spring Rag Wreath


rag wreathWho says garlands are just for Christmas?

Packing up the remains of Christmas always makes me sad, and as I was packing up the door hanger thing, I thought, well why not make another wreath? There are dozens of ideas on pinterest and elsewhere in internet land and I’ve noticed when watching American stuff on telly that they often have wreaths on their doors and not just as Christmas. So if our American friends can, why can’t I bring a little bit of America to my corner of Norfolk? It’s certainly no worse than flaky FBI agents yelling at us to “lock stuff down” through our televisions.

I did consider getting some plastic flowers and attaching them to a willow wreath, but I couldn’t find the wreath, I think it’s in the loft somewhere along with a wasps nest and piles of old tat. So I opted for a rag wreath.

On having a rummage, I found that I had quite a lot of scraps of fresh, zingy green too small to do anything with. I cut the scraps into strips 2cm wide and between 10cm and 20cm long. It didn’t look like enough to make a wreath so I had another rummage and found some bits of lace and broderie anglaise. I cut those up too and added them to my pile.

To make the hoop I found some garden wire and twisted it into a circle. To hold the ends I wrapped some masking take around them. This also provided a marker so I didn’t forget where the top was.

I started off with some plain green fabric strips, tying them onto the ring and spacing them out evenly. I then chose some other strips and tied those on in the spaces. And that was pretty much it! I just kept going until I ran out of strips, making sure that the different fabrics were evenly spaced out. I then tied on the lace and broderie anglaise where there were gaps. There are enough strips on the ring to hold them all in place.

The hook stuck out quite a long way when I hung the wreath on it so I tied a piece of green ribbon around it to disguise it a bit.

Boy 1′s friends mum admired it when she came round to pick friend up last week. She said it brightened up our alleyway and asked if she’d missed something! It was all very easy to do, it used up some odds and ends of fabric that were too small to do much else with and it only took me a couple of hours to make.

Have any others of you made a garland for your door? I’d love to see them!


Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted in How to..., Other Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stashbusting Bags and Other Bits and Pieces

A few weeks ago I joined a Facebook group called stashbusting something or other. It’s been started by the lady who writes the Cation Designs blog http://cationdesigns.blogspot.co.uk/ I’m not doing it right though! I’ve got a pile of fabric and projects either not finished or not started, which I’m working my way through, but I have also bought more fabric. Sshh don’t tell anyone!

Here are some projects that I have completed recently.

Tie Backs

tie backs

Apologies for the horrible photo. There is a white wall behind that window and I don’t know how to work my camera. It must be possible to get rid of the glare but I have no idea how!

This was a nice, quick project to use up a small amount of red and white Amy Butler fabric I had left over from something else. They are reversible and the piping effect was achieved using some red bias binding, also left over from another project. I had the d rings already and the hooks are just some cheapy things with sticky backs that I got from our local hardware store. Now when I go downstairs there is a pocket of prettiness at the bottom! There are not nearly enough of these in my house, but I’m working on it.

Drawstring Bags

toy bags

These are brilliant for using up leftover fabric! We had the usual problem after Christmas of new toys and nowhere to put them, so I made a couple of these bags to contain some of the new toys and I have plans to make some more! They were very easy, just a long rectangle of fabric folded in half, sides sewn up, casing at the top for the ribbon and voila! Mess contained! I also made a little bag for one of the boys’ friends who had a birthday party not long after Christmas. The boys gave her some lego and I decided that her parents would probably appreciate it if she also had somewhere to put her half built models. We were eating round unfinished lego models for several weeks after Christmas because the boys had left them on the table and there was nowhere else to put them.

The only problem is where to put the bags, so I am considering putting some hooks up in the playroom at boy height. I actually found some hooks while I was having a sort out, so this might be a way of using those too.

Toddler Dungarees

IMG_1217I’ve had these on the go for a while. Boy 4 took his first steps a few days before Christmas and he is still growing unbelievably fast. I wanted to make him some dungarees that were roomy and comfortable and warm. I found the fabric on Ebay. It’s a beautiful, soft, brushed cotton and I’ve used some jersey (not nearly as stretchy as I was expecting, thankfully!) to line them. I’ve also made him a pair of trousers and I am planning to make a couple of tops with the rest of the jersey. I used a pattern here, it was a nice Burda one with several patterns in one, with a cute little boy on the front.

My Tardis Bag

tardis bag 1Who doesn’t love a new bag? I decided I needed a new one. The bag I was using was a tiny little thing from Primark, it barely had room for my purse and my phone, never mind anything else. I’ve never been one for the huge mummy bags, I have no idea what people fill them up with! A couple of nappies and some wipes and I am good to go! Unfortunately there was no room in the Primark bag for these, or my lovely new diary, or my kindle, so If I needed these too I had to use a bigger bag, but I couldn’t wear them like I could the Primark one, which made things awkward, especially on the bus.

The design of the bag is similar to a blue and white paisley one I made a while ago. This one is bigger and I have since learnt how to square off the corners to give it more shape. The main body of the bag is two rectangles sewn together at the bottom and at the sides and gathered at the top. This is what makes it tardis like, because it expands depending on how much stuff is in it.

The main part of the bag is attached to a band. The size of this was determined by the size of my diary as this was the chunkiest thing I was going to be putting in it.

The straps are attached using lobster clasps and d rings. A magnetic snap keeps it closed.

I did actually buy more fabric for this, rather than using up stuff I already had. I needed it to be waterproof, so the fabric is ripstop and it is lined with cotton fused with interfacing to make it hard wearing.

tardis bag 2See how pretty the inside is! I wanted it to be a treat every time every time I had to rummage in there for something. And actually, standing at the bus stop yesterday in the pouring rain trying to find my ticket in amongst the baby wipes, diary, receipts, tissues and letters from school, it was.

Happy crafting x




Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fruit Garland and Decorations Instructions

fruit garland 1

So we’re into December and Christmas preparations are well under way. We’re really not get-it-all-organised-in-October people so there’s still a fair bit to do, but the tree is up some presents have been bought, the cake has been baked and I’ve made a list :) I have also managed to make some stuff, despite Boy 4 still being a clingy little limpet/ mad button presser/ tornado and the fairies that are supposed to clean up my house, well, are not.

fruitA couple of weeks ago to I managed to get myself sufficiently organised to start drying fruit to make garlands and decorations with. These things are gorgeous, they smell amazing and they make a lovely alternative to tinsel and mass produced plastic tat. It is also a good way to use up left over oranges, lemons and limes if you accidently bought too many in the run-up to Christmas. It will keep, so you can reuse for several years to come. I made a dried fruit garland last year and when I opened the decorations box I was met with a lovely citrus smell. The orange slices had also hardened over the year and it wasn’t mouldy at all!

Here are my dried fruit garland instructions

You will need: citrus fruit (I used oranges,lemonspredried fruit and limes), an oven, raffia or string, a darning needle or wire and a skewer, ribbon.

You may also want to add pine cones and cinnamon sticks.

The first stage is to dehydrate your oranges, lemons and limes. There are a number of ways of doing this, but I have found that the easiest and quickest way is in the oven. Cut the fruit into slices not more than half a cm thick. If you start at the stalk end and cut across the segments, you will get a lovely stained glass window effect and also an area in the middle for threading. Put them in the oven straight onto the rack, don’t bother with a baking sheet as this will allow the warm air in the oven to get to both sides of the fruit and it will dry quicker. Put the oven on about 100 degrees c, no hotter. Remember that you are drying the fruit out, not cooking it!orange slice

It will take between 2 and 4 hours for the slices to dry, depending on the thickness of the slices. The thinner the slices, the quicker they will dry. If they are not totally dry, it doesn’t matter, you can always put them on a sunny windowsill or next to a radiator to finish drying them out.

To dry whole clementines or satsumas, lemons and limes, leaving the top and bottom of the fruit intact, make a cut at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, then at 9 and 3 o’clock and then half way between those, so you that you have eight slits evenly spaced out around the fruit. Stick a skewer or a darning needle through it from top to bottom. Put it in the oven straight on the rack as before.

Tips for making a dried fruit garland:

  • Thinner slices dry faster.
  • Drying whole fruit it takes longer than the slices. Small fruit dries quicker (I used clementines, but lemons and limes might also work well).
  • A lot of juice will come out and may well end up on your kitchen floor, so putting down some pre-emptive tea towels or some kitchen towel to catch it might be an idea.
  • Once dry the fruit keeps for ages. However, do not be tempted to store almost dry fruit in a tin and then put the tin next to a radiator. It will go mouldy, as some of mine did when I did this.
  • Put a skewer through the middle of the whole fruit and the slices as soon as you get it out of the oven, while it is still soft.
  • Fruit that is not quite dry can be left out do dry out naturally.

The 2nd stage is to make the citrus fruit decorations. For the simple tree (or wherever you like!)

Children can do this too although you might want t make the holes for them first.

Children can do this too although you might want t make the holes for them first.

decoration, take several strands of raffia and fold in half. Knot the ends together. Thread the loopy end through a satsuma and then through several slices of orange, lemon and lime. I used six slices. Tie a ribbon bow around the knot at the bottom, between the satsuma and the slices, and above the slices. Hang it up and enjoy the lovely smell!fruit in window



For the citrus fruit garland, take 3 dried satsumas. Fold several strands of raffia in half, thread through the satsuma and knot the ends. You need enough of a loop each side of the satsuma to thread some ribbon through. Sort your slices of orange, lemon and lime into piles of seven. You will need six piles. Smaller slices will look better at the top and bottom of the piles and larger slices in the middle. Thread a

Dried satsumas threaded onto raffia

Dried satsumas threaded onto raffia

doubled over loop of raffia through the centre of each slice in the first pile and knot as for the satsumas. Repeat for the rest of the piles.

You should now have 3 satsumas each on a raffia with loops at either end, and 6 bunches of seven dried fruit slices, threaded onto raffia with a loop at either end.

Choose the largest satsuma. This will be the central fruit in the garland. On either side of the satsuma put a fruit pile that you have threaded onto raffia. Using the raffia loops on either side, tie them together with ribbon. On the other side of the fruit piles, add the satsumas, then another fruit pile. Your fruit garland is almost complete!

To finish it off, add some ribbon or twine to the final loops at either end. You can now hang it up or give it to somebody as an unusual gift!

fruit garland 2

Posted in Christmas, How to... | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to Make Bunting Tutorial

bunting hedgeI haven’t posted for ever again, this time it’s because I’ve had so many projects on the go I’ve been waiting to actually complete something so that I can write about it. First of all there were the little outfits I made for Boys 3 and 4 for their dedication. I finished them last week and they wore them on Sunday. More about these another time! I was making a dress to wear for their dedication too, but I didn’t manage to finish it. There’s another dress I’m making from a pattern that came with a magazine. The bits are cut out but that’s as far as I’ve got. I’m making a hood for Boy 4′s buggy and another dress for Dress a Girl Around the World. I’ve also got the stuff to make some cushions for the boys’s room and I needed to make some bunting, also for last weekend, for a party to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.

Most of these projects I have not finished and some of them I have not even started. But the bunting I did manage to complete, and it was very easy and quick (especially as I had help cutting out the triangles :) ) so I’m going to show you howin this little bunting tutorial!

The top edge was 20cm and the line down the middle was also 20cm. I joined the top edges to the end of the vertical line to make a triangle.

The top edge was 20cm and the line down the middle was also 20cm. I joined the top edges to the end of the vertical line to make a triangle.

First of all make a template. Draw a line 20cm long onto a piece of card. I used an old cereal box. Find the middle and draw another line at right angles to the first line. Join the ends of the first line to the end of the second line and hey! One triangle! Probably an isoceles triangle but I’m not sure :).

Secondly choose your fabric. I used six different designs of polycotton.

Thirdly iron on some interfacing to stop the fabric from fraying. Some people don’t bother with this and use pinking shears instead. My pinking shears however are of the “safety” variety, i.e. very blunt, and although they would probably leave lovely zigzags in butter, they would not cut fabric.

Next, using your template,

One pointy end down, one pointy end up. Geddit?

draw some triangles onto the fabric. They should tessellate, so they fit together

nicely reducing wastage. If you have a lot to make, cut strips 20cm wide and then draw on the triangles, like a zigzag, see?

One pointy end down, one pointy end up. Geddit?

Now cut them out! When you have cut them out you may want to decide on an order for your triangles or you might want to attach them randomly. If you decide on a particular order, remember that when you are sewing them on, you will be starting at the right hand end of the finished bunting, so the flags will need to be in right to left order as opposed to left to right.

Now you’re ready to sew! Take a piece of bias binding and a triangle. Leave some tape free at each end so you have enough to tie your bunting to something. If you are an inexperienced sewist or a perfectionist, you may wish to pin your triangles on first. Attach the triangles right side to wrong side of the bias tape, so that both wrong sides are face up. I allowed about 5cm between each triangle and about 15cm of spare tape at each end.

That’s pretty much it! Easy peasy!! The possibilities are almost endless, colours, themes, personalised with applique letters or pictures…  I have plans to make some for the kitchen when I get around to decorating it, some for my sons’ bedroom, some personalised bunting for Boy 4 and some for Christmas. Also one of our guests said she had been thinking about making some for her daughters’ bedroom and felt inspired to have a go!

bunting party

If you make some bunting, please tell me! I’d love to see it!

Ps if you don’t want to make your own, I’d be happy to make some for you :). Message me with your requirements and I’ll see what I can do! Prices start at £2 a metre ;)


Posted in How to..., Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baby Boy Dungarees


It had been a while since I had made anything clothes-wise for the boys. I think the last things I made for them were probably the dino hats. Boy 4 is growing alarming quickly, he’d been too big for most of the 3-6 months clothes since he was about four months, and he is now seven months. Husband finally had a rootle about in the loft for the next set of boxes last weekend. Unfortunately we only have a step ladder and he’d put most of the boxes where he couldn’t reach them. So poor Boy 4 has five babygroes, a couple of pairs of trousers and some t shirts.

Thankfully, while having a rummage (I’m always in the middle of a sort-out ;) ), I found a Simplicity pattern for some baby boy dungarees that I had bought when Boy 1 was about the age that Boy 4 is now. I quite like to make my own patterns despite having no training in this area and I felt a bit of a fraud even considering using a commercial pattern, but you know what folks? I’m tired, Boy 4 is almost crawling (so wriggling and rolling and grabbing everything in sight!) and if it’s good enough for the Great British Sewing Bee, well it’s good enough for me. Using a ready made pattern meant that Boy 4 would get his dungarees sooner, they would probably fit and probably not look daft and I would not end up ruining fabric that cost almost £10 a metre :0

Anyway, using a commercial pattern doesn’t mean necessarily following it to the letter. My motto for playing the piano is “thump out the tune and make the rest up” and this same attitude could be applied to making stuff from bought patterns.

I only made a few small changes in the end.

Firstly, my sewing machine doesn’t do button holes so I added two loops of elastic instead.button detail

Secondly, I really, really abhor facings. Hardly any clothes I buy have them and the ones that do require ironing, which I do not do. A much neater finish can be achieved with bias binding or a lining. I opted for a contrasting lining, inspired by the dungarees on this lovely blog The Crafty Kitty .

Thirdly, I didn’t want to applique any of the weirdness the pattern people suggested. Dungarees need a pocket. Unfortunately I put it a little bit to low and the pocket is on Boy 4′s tummy instead of his chest.pocket detail

Lastly, the dungarees didn’t need the elastic. They fitted perfectly well without it, which saved me some brain-ache how I was going to attach the elastic between the outer fabric and the lining.

I considered changing the shape of the back but decided it was too much of a faff. I wasn’t sure about the shape of the front either but I felt in the end that curves were probably easier to get neat with a lining than pointy corners.

I’m quite pleased with the results! There’s some growing room but they fit him and he looks comfy. Two more pairs are currently in the cutting out stage and I am contemplating making him some warmer ones in the autumn. I might have to size them up a bit though if he keeps growing at the same rate!


Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment