Sunday, 29 August 2010

Christmas stockings

I've been making a ton of stockings lately.

Once I start something I find it hard to switch off and my mind is then racing to try and come up with different but complimentary designs.

Often as fast as I can make things to list on etsy friends or family see them and buy them off me (my Mum bought the Noel one off me today so I'm having to make another tonight!)

I'm going to make some traditional shaped ones but for now I'm loving these long skinny ones as they are very French or Scandinavian in style.   I know it's a matter of taste though - my husband doesn't like these very much - he's obviously more of a traditionalist than I am.

These are all for sale on Etsy right now.

On the subject of Scandinavia it looks like I may be taking my daughter to Lapland to see the 'real' Father Christmas this year.  I took my son when he was younger and it was amazing.  I've wanted to take Lily for the last couple of years but none of her friends wanted to go and it's such a magical day I wanted her to enjoy it with a friend rather that just me.  One of her friends has now decided that she does want to go so we may be flying up to Northern Finland for the day in December!
Watch this space!


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

For the love of Snail Mail - on the hunt for pen-pals

I love writing letters.

I love receiving letters even more.

When I was at school I had three pen-pals through the IYS (International Youth Service) and wrote to them for years.  I don't think the IYS exists any more.

We were given forms to complete and had to choose countries that we were interested in having friends in.

I didn't get to go to America until my honeymoon and always really wanted to so one of my penpals was in San Francisco, one was in Canada and I later had one in Mexico (to help me practise my Spanish). 

I am still in touch with two of them.

A few months ago I was talking to my daughter and her friends about my pen-pals and they loved the idea of writing to kids their own age from another country so we decided to set up a pen-pal club.

Our plan was to first find some pen-pals (more on that in a sec) and then to meet at our house once a month or so and have a little tea party then sit around and write short letters, which I would supervise, and hopefully read the ones that had been sent to them in between.

The penpals would need to be English speaking as in Wales the only other language they learn at their age is Welsh!

We Googled schools in the States as we thought the kids there would like similar music, tv programmes etc and contacted the Principal of one school which we chose at random but she never got back to me.  I fully understand that she was probably just suspicious and cautious so didn't bother trying another school.  No doubt immigration has been informed and I'm on some weirdo list somewhere and will be taken aside for interrogation on my next visit to the States.

However, the girls still want their penpal club.

So basically, can you help?

My daughter and her friends are 8 going on 9 and about to start year 4 next week - I think this is the equivalent of the 3rd grade in the States.

There are 5 girls and their names are Lily, Maddie, Molly, Holli and Alex and they would love to write to a group of friends of around the same age.

I would make sure that the club is kept up with and not abandoned leaving their poor transatlantic friends disappointed.

I'm not a weirdo!  Well, I am a bit but I'm not dangerous.

You've all known me for a while now so know that I have values and morals etc. and love doing fun stuff with my kids.

Whilst I love my computer and how easy it is to make friends all over the world through blogging I do love the thrill of old fashioned snail mail arriving on my doormat (except bills or final demands that is!)  It would also help my daughter with her spelling and she needs a lot of help!

If your daughter and her friends would be interested please let me know - they may make lasting friendships like their Mummy's do on-line - you never know.


And the winner is....

I don't know how to cut and paste the random number generator thingy onto my blog but it chose number 9 - Julia's comment was the 9th

"I would love to spend it on a new light for my had some great ideas!!"

So thank you all who entered and Congratulations to Julia - CSN will be in touch with you soon!


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Last chance to enter my CSN giveaway

This is your last chance to win some money to spend at CSN.
Come on - who wouldn't want one of these gorgeous throws?
Actually, am I able to enter if it's my giveaway?!

Hurry up - you only have just over 2 and a half hours left!

Good luck!


Monday, 23 August 2010

Christmas In August

It seems a bit silly to be making Christmas decorations in August but that's what I've been up to recently.

I've listed these Scandinavian / French style stockings on etsy and plan on making a load of different ones as I have collected a ton of buttons and Christmas ribbons over the years - these look better kept simple with just a little embellishment, I think

Banners were always popular when I had my shop so a friend asked me to make the Noel one for her and I love the simple Swedish feel of the one below - that's the one that will be hanging in my house this year - but not in August!


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Beautiful find - wooden laundry basket

Last night I found the most amazing thing and just had to buy it.
I was swooning when I brought it into the house and my husband was laughing at how childishly excited I could be over an object. 
Please!  Who couldn't fall in love with this:-

A beautiful wooden, linen lined laundry basket

I love the shades and textures of the wood.
I love the colour of the linen liner and the cute little linen ties to attach it to the basket.

I adore the shape on the handles on the side.

We eventually want to build a small extension to the back of our house to hold a tiny mudroom - enough for coats, shoes and dog bed - and a laundry room.

When that day comes this basket will have pride of place on the counter top to hold all my freshly dried items. 

Until then it's holding some cottong batting and my burlap fabric which I am working with at the moment.  Resting on the top is a sneak peek of my latest project - French number inspired burlap coasters - they are waiting for some linen bias tape to arrive to go around the edges - or should I use black to match the numbers?  Let me know what you think!

Oh - are you wondering where I got this fantastic find - a flea market (no - we don't have those in the UK unfortunately), an antique shop...?

...Home Sense actually (which is just TKMaxx for the home).
£12.99 with a smaller size available for £9.99.
I'm going back today for a big one for my sis and a small one for my Mum.

I may just get the small one too and make a label for it - "Single Sock Support Group"!


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

My turn for a CSN giveaway

I'm so excited....
the lovely people at CSN have given me £50, $50 or €50 to giveaway to one lucky reader, depending on which part of the world you are in.  CSN have great online stores where you can find everything from furniture to cookware to rugs to lights - the list goes on.

Here are just a few things that have got me lusting after them:

These stunning Dash and Albert throws - currently for sale at $58 so one of you lucky people could grab one for just $8

or how about one of these

This gorgeous chrome light fitting for just £54.99 (or just £4.99 to 'you')

or this beauty - an old school style light fitting for £103.99 but you could pick it up for just over half that amount

CSN have so many websites and so many gorgeous things to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming - probably less overwhelming if you have 50 smackeroos to spend there though!

So here's what you have to do:

1.  Become a follower or let me know if you are already one (1 comment)
2.  Leave a comment telling me what you would spend your money on - links to some of the websites below (1 comment)
3.  Blog about this giveaway or add a link to your sidebar (1 comment)

Giveaway will end a week from today (UK time) at midnight on Tuesday 24th August 
Winner will be announced on Wednesday

Good luck!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Painted photo frame

I can't seem to go for more than a couple of days without a project.

I recently bought a couple of photoframes to put on the beadboard wall behind my desk.  They were really shabby and a lovely shade of grey which was almost turquoise.  When I tried them in place yesterday they didn't look right so I had to rummage around to see if I could come up with something else.  I found a creamy distressed frame I had bought in TKMaxx a few months ago.  I hadn't known where I would put it but liked the shape of the frame plus it was made from reclaimed wood so had a nice rough look to it.

It was a pale creamy colour and I wanted it quite a turqoisey aqua colour so mixed up several shades of blue, green, grey and white.  I had to paint it three times remixing the paint each time until I got a colour I liked.  I sanded between coats and after the final coat sanded loads of the paint right off so it looks quite distressed.  I then covered it in a dark oak wax which I rubbed into the exposed area's of the wood and then rubbed it all off polishing the whole frame at the same time.

For some reason in these photos the shade is wrong - it looks quite blue in the photos but in real life is actually very green/turqoise/aqua.  I've got very poor natural light in my study area so that must be it.

A pretty white hydrangea from my garden sitting in a Bonne Maman jam jar we brought back from France pretties it up even more.

I absolutely love how it turned out and how it's brought some much needed gorgeous colour to my otherwise white/off white study area.

And I turned a picture of my babies (both smiling at the same time which is a rareity) into sepia and printed it off to go in the frame. 

My study area is now a much nicer place to be.  This is probably a bad idea as I spend way too much time trawling through blogs as it is!


Friday, 13 August 2010

Grain sack pillows

No more faking it for me!
At least not for the last couple of days - here's my first batch of real grain sack pillows.

I just love them - the fabric really is so soft and full of character. 
I really want a few for my lounge but can't justify the expense at the moment.
All are for sale in my etsy shop.

I will treat myself to a few soon though.

I'm torn at the moment though as I would normally go for pillows / cushions with a little red in them for my living room but am really drawn to the square blue one. 

I'm going to have to sit on it for a bit (no pun intended) before I make a choice.

Both my kids were out with friends today so I have sewed all day as I've been selling loads in my etsy shop lately so have made copies of several of the most popular cushion and cut others ready to be sewn so that I'm prepared.  Back to work next week unfortunately!  Now I need a trip to Ikea to buy yet more plastic storage boxes to keep all the ready made pillows in.

My living room and dining room are completely covered in Burlap dust and scraps of linen and grain sacks.  I'd better crack on and clean it so I can have a nice relaxing weekend. 


First though I need to go outside and try and see some shooting stars.
Last night we saw loads due to the meteor shower and apparently it's going to go on for the next couple of days.  I was so excited as I've never seen one before.  My husband has seen loads as he often goes fishing late at night but last night's dozen or so were my first.  All the kids in my and the neighbouring street were outside in their PJ's and dressing gowns and we set up benches for them all to sit on with their blankets.  It was so much fun - this is the kind of thing they will always remember.  I did think I'd have a bad neck this morning from standing with my head tilted up for so long last night but I think the head bent forward over a sewing machine today has put it back to normal.

CSN GIVEAWAY coming soon

I'll be having a giveaway sponsored by CSN soon and will try to give details over the next couple of days.  At the moment I am still trawling through their multitude of websites - once you start you can't stop!  Keep an eyeout for this giveaway and hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Easy peasy Danish number tags

Yesterday I gave my craft supplies cupboard a good sorting and clearing out - I wish this was a 'once in a blue moon' kind of project but for me it seems to be something I have to do quite regularly.  My shelves are overflowing and even though my clear boxes are all labelled sometimes it's easier to pop something anywhere and put it away later (or not!).

Anyway in this cupboard are also catalogues from companies whose products I either sold in my old shop or who I intended to buy from when funds allowed.  These got a good clearing out too as I intend to keep my business as Etsy and Christmas house party based so won't be buying from a lot of them.  I kept one or two for inspiration and particulary one from a Danish company who I never got round to ordering from - I had a few French and Belgian suppliers but overseas minimum orders tend to be pretty high so I could only order from one or two at a time.

The catalogue was 3 years old now but they had such lovely things. 
I came across this picture of number tags and although I would love the original (probably enamelled) version thought I could probably make a similar card version of these myself.

I printed out numbers from my computer in a font I liked then drew a line around the edges with a template I had made out of laminated plastic and then made a second template which was slightly larger and used an embossing tool to mark around the edges.  I then cut the cards out and just brushed the edges with a dark brown ink pad.

I think they look quite similar to the originals and for next to nothing in terms of cost am quite pleased with them.

You could play around with fonts and colours and use craft papers with patterns on etc.  A very quick and simple project.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Look what came in the post today - Vintage Grain Sacks

I have been longing for some grain sacks for ages but they are so expensive (in the UK anyway) so I've been putting off buying some - until now.

A UK supplier sent me photo's of a load she was bringing back from Hungary that week so I went for it and ordered some and they arrived today.

They are absolutely gorgeous - you can really see the age and character in them.

I can't wait to make some pillows out of them.  I'm going to sew every inch by hand as I prefer to sew by hand and feel that the stitches are stronger than by machine.

I am, as we speak (type), re-organising my craft cupboards to accommodate them so they have a lovely place to sit and wait to be used.

Is it nuts to be in love with a piece of fabric?  Am I alone?
I doubt it!


Monday, 9 August 2010

More cute things to do with linen

Twist thick wire into a heart shape.
Sew a tube of linen and turn inside out.
Thread wire through linen and sew closed.
Hang from rustic twine.

You can even use it to display a couple of small photos from a wooden clothes peg.

So cute (my son and the heart!)


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Linen ruffle table runner

Somebody stop me!
I'm a girl on a mission at the moment - my sewing machine has been brought down from the attic and has sewn more in the last week than in the 10 years or so that I've owned it!

Yesterday I started a table runner.  I used a roll of brown paper to use as my template - this was really easy to do as I just laid one edge of the brown paper against the edge of the table - marked out my width and followed the lines on the brown paper to cut.  When I finished I folded the paper over to make sure it was the same width all the way.  Then I laid the paper on top of the fabric and drew around the sides - the runner is longer than my table so I just slid the fabric along and kept drawing.  Cut 2cm around my marked fabric for hemming - pinned this piece to a second piece and stitched down both long sides.  Turned it inside out and pressed it. 

We then went out for dinner with two of my oldest and best friends from school and their husbands (they all live in England so we don't get a chance to do this often) and had a great meal and a really good time.

We got home about 11.30 so we watched two episodes of the new series of Rules of Engagement which we had recorded (I love that show) then Pat fell asleep due to the amount of wine and beer he had consumed so I went back to my sewing as any sane person does at half 12 in the morning!

I then made two ruffles by folding a piece of linen in half and hemming up one side then I pinned ruffles in place until I had enough to fit inside the open ends.  Unpinned, turned inside out and hemmed the other side then turned 'outside in!' and pinned the ruffles in place again.  Made sure it fit then sewed across the top of the ruffles.  Turned the open ends of the runner inside and placed the ruffle inside and stitched along the outside.  Repeat!

This was pretty easy but because of it's size was quite labour intensive and messy - I had to keep moving things from my table to the ironing board to the floor....depending on what I needed to do next. 

Until recently I had never made a ruffle - now they are becoming a bit of an obsession!


Saturday, 7 August 2010

White linen everywhere

The crazy eyed guy in the photo below is my 6ft 3 baby brother - the gorgeous girl is my sister and the fat lump is me!

My brother has a really cool job as a yachtsman sailing rich people all over the mediterranean but sometimes the far east or the carribean - SO jealous

Anyway earlier this year he phoned me from Goa stating that he was in a market and there were loads of silks for sale and would I like some.  I have to say I'm not really a silk person so I said no.  Then, a couple of weeks later he phoned me from Cairo and said that he had a guide who could show him where to get linen - I jumped at this.  A few weeks later two huge boxes arrived - I was expecting a few metres of linen but he had sent me 50 metres of white linen, 25 metres of Egyptian cotton and 25 metres of some strange fabric which I won't be using!  I was so excited. 

The amount of fabric was overwhelming and it has been sitting in my guest bedroom closet waiting for me to decide what to do with it.  While I am off work my plan is to make some simple white linen panels for my guest bedroom as at the moment there are no curtains (drapes) there.  Well there are but they are extremely long Ikea curtains which my sister lent me which are simply folded over the pole and tied at the bottom!

In the meantime I decided to make a pilow out of it as the linen is so soft and drapey - it's gorgeous.  I've never attempted a ruffle around the edge of a pillow before and I found it really fiddly and difficult but it ended up looking ok.

This one is for sale here and I now can't wait to use up all this lovely linen. 
I'm going to have a go at making table runners this weekend as the linen is so soft it would really drape nicely over the edge of a table.

Have a great weekend.


Monday, 2 August 2010

Life laundry and Etsy update

We've had lovely weather today so the children have been playing outside the whole day leaving me to have a day of sorting and organising. 

I've gone through old craft supplies which I seem to build up to ridiculous amounts and made a few chalkboard tags which I listed on etsy.  I think they are quite cute and could be used on tables or for gifts. 

I also listed some craft supplies I will never get round to using on ebay along with some of my children's old clothes (the nice things like Mini Boden, Room Seven and Oilily usually sell well - oddly surfwear doesn't go for much on ebay so I'm better off selling those in a car boot sale). 

I cleared out my spare bedroom closet (the room now looks like a bombsite but at least the cupboard is empty ready for re-organising).  We have a double cupboard in that room with only one door which makes it difficult to store and access things.  My husband has agreed to open up the space to fit double doors and to fit shelves one half and have hanging space for guests in the other half.  This also gives me a chance to clear out a lot of stuff I no longer want or need so I now also have a car boot sale pile building up in one corner.

I hate how stuff mounts up so much and feel that the more clutter I have in my house the more cluttered my mind becomes.  I definitely need a life laundry. 

Does anyone have any tips on how to de-clutter my house and my life and to help me get more organised?  Please!!


Sunday, 1 August 2010

Hand stamped ribbon

I'm off for the next two weeks with the children and we are lucky enough to live right next to a forest so if the weather is good they like nothing more than to play with the neighbouring kids.  This means that I can get on with some crafting without feeling any guilt at not taking them anywhere.

I am really trying to knuckle down and make as much stock for my Christmas parties as possible so that I'm not rushing around last minute.  I've also mentioned before that as well as some of my favourites which sell year after year - such as painted wooden hearts with a child's name painted on it (as people keep having children I get to keep making these hearts!) - I try to come up with new things every year.

Not everything I make is to my taste but I do know what will sell so sometimes make things just because I know they will sell (and to use up supplies).

I tend to stock pile supplies and a while ago I found some bobbins/cotton reels which were too cheap to pass up.  I knew they would come in handy.  I gave them three coats of white paint and originally had the idea of mod podging some Christmas paper to them but this didn't look right.  I then saw some lovely white ribbon with red stars on it online and I thought this would look lovely as I could make decorations to look like old ribbon bobbins.  However, the ribbon was £4.00 for three metres and £6.95 postage.  Not on your nelly, I thought!  So I decided to have a go at making my own.

I bought two packs of cotton binding tape at £1.15 per pack...

...then I drew a star shape on the end of one of my daughter's many pencils which have a rubber/eraser on the end.  I cut around the star with a craft knife and used it to stamp stars along the cotton tape.

It doesn't look as nice as the one I wanted to buy but at a fraction of the cost it does the job I wanted.

I know this is a really basis and easy craft idea but I thought I would share it in case, by any chance, there are any others out there who have never thought of doing this.  Tip: I tried both fabric paint and craft ink and the ink works best as the paint gives more of an outline of a star.

Here we go - two dozen ribbony bobbiny things - like I said, nothing fancy but I only plan on selling them for a pound each so am sure they will sell fairly quickly.