Sunday 31 May 2015

On Instagram in May

I can hardly believe that it's the last day of May- just where is the time going this year? May was a lovely month with lots of sunshine. I like to make the most of it and spend lots of time outside at this time of year- stitching in the garden with a cup of tea and some homemade cake is my favourite thing! Here's a look back at what else I got up to in May, through my Instagram photos...

Back in this post I shared the How To to make these Liberty fabric scrap, heart shaped shoe clips. It was finally warm enough for me to wear them this month- it takes a lot to remove me from my boots!

Jewellery making at lunchtimes at the day job

Usually I do most craft fairs in the winter months but this year I'm trying to do more throughout the year. I've joined the Made in Colchester Collective (more on this soon) and I'm now taking part in regular events with them.

I lined these vintage suitcases to use as props at craft fairs- I'm so pleased with how they turned out!

Sharing new jewellery packaging ideas

I bought a selection of beautiful Fenella 2ply yarn by Susan Crawford to use in some new fair isle jewellery designs. It's been a bit of a hectic month and I haven't been able to get on with it as much as I would have liked, so watch this space, hopefully next month I'll be able to share some finished designs!

I bought a woolly jumper in a charity shop that had suffered a felting accident! I though it would be perfect for How To projects, but first I used a small piece to create my Workshop Planner. One of my big goals for this year is to create a regular workshop programme, so this is my first step

Nelson cat is only too happy to lend a paw when I'm crafting!

Enjoying the sun! He's got such a cute fluffy tummy

Baking! Making ginger cake and enjoying tea, cake and crafting in the garden. Check out the flip flops, it was such a hot day!

When I was younger I absolutely loved S Club 7. I saw them when I was 13 and I was so happy to get the chance to see them again at the 02 in London earlier in the month. It took me back to being 13 again!

The garden has been looking lovely and there have been plenty of walks in the countryside in May

An evening walk by the river. I love living near the water

Family time... A steam fair came to town and Mr Writer, my sister, my niece and I had a great afternoon- this is my sister and my niece on the carousel.

Hope you all had a lovely May. You can follow me on Instagram here, I'd love to follow you too!

Wednesday 27 May 2015

What To Take To a Craft Fair- Essential Craft Fair Kit!

A lovely friend did her first craft fair recently and she asked me what she should take, so I thought I'd share my essential craft fair kit! These are items that I find invaluable to have on hand at a craft fair. I have a wheelie suitcase that I use just to transport my work to craft fairs and this kit lives in there permanently so it's always ready for the next fair. 

My essential craft fair kit...

  1. Notebook- for keeping note of sales, custom orders, etc
  2. Pen
  3. Business Cards
  4. Needle and thread- I've not had to use them yet but you never know!
  5. Pins
  6. Scissors
  7. Pegs of different sizes- these always come in handy 
  8. Hang tags in different sizes
  9. String/twine
  10. Double sided tape
  11. Selotape
  12. Bags for your items
  13. Washi tape/stickers to seal the bags
  14. Tablecloth
  15. Signage for your table- I use my knitted name bunting
  16. Display stands and props
  17. Mailing list sign up form
  18. Something to work on- you may not always get the chance but I find that making your products whilst at a craft fair provokes interest in your work, it's a good use of time and as I find it hard to keep still, it keeps my hands busy!
  19. Suitcase/bags/ to transport your work to the fair. I have a dedicated wheelie suitcase that I use for this
  20. A change float
  21. Your inventory of products- I always practice my table layout so I know what products to take with me. I take extras to top up the stand with if I make a sale
  22. Drinks and snacks- it may not always be possible to leave your stand so I always take supplies
  23. A friend to help! 
Hope to chat to you at a craft fair soon!

Sunday 24 May 2015

Small Project Challenge- Lining Vintage Suitcases!

For my Small Project Challenge in May I spent a really fun morning lining two vintage suitcases to use to display my jewellery at craft fairs! If you're a new reader, find out about the Small Project Challenge here- it's one way I'm working towards my goal of being more organised this year!

Quite some time ago I decopatched these display stands, but I felt that it was time for a new look (it's funny how our ideas evolve). Having used a vintage suitcase as a prop for a jewellery photoshoot, I have had this idea in mind for some time, so it was the perfect project as part of the Small Project Challenge!

I bought the suitcases on ebay- they are a bit battered in places but I think this adds to the vintage look! I find it fascinating to think of the stories these cases could tell- who they might have belonged to and the places they have been

I picked up this remnant of vintage style fabric that I thought would make a pretty backdrop for display

I cut a piece of fabric for each side and set to work gluing them into the case, over the top of the existing paper lining, letting the edges overlap to trim when dry. I used an all purpose strong craft glue for one of the cases and when this ran out I used PVA for the other case- both worked equally as well

I allowed the glue to dry completely and then trimmed away the excess fabric, before attaching grosgrain ribbon around the top of the case to hide the raw fabric edges. I started off using my glue gun to attach the ribbon, but I didn't think this was giving a neat enough finish, so I changed to using double sided tape

My cases had their first outing at The Warner Textile Archive Textile Fair last weekend and I was pleased to receive many complements on the cases!

I lined the whole of the case to give me more display options but I also made a fabric covered cardboard "shelf" to give some height to the display. I used pegs and bakers twine to hang some brooches on the lids of the cases

I'm so pleased with the look of the revamped cases and also to have given these vintage pieces a new lease of life!

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Recipe- Rhubarb Tarts

I know that Rhubarb is the Marmite of the fruit world, but I love it ( love Marmite too!). It's in season right now and I'm enjoying finding new ways to cook with it- here is my recipe for Rhubarb Tarts...


Ready rolled puff pastry sheet, aprox 400g rhubarb, 5 tablespoons sugar (or to taste), 3 balls of stem ginger, small amount of golden syrup or honey, to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees


1) Unroll the puff pastry sheet. The sheets come self rolled in grease proof paper- so handy as you then don't need to flour your work surface. Cut into eight pieces

2) Wash the rhubarb and cut into 2cm pieces. Finely chop the stem ginger and add to a small saucepan with the rhubarb, sugar and a small splash of water

3) On a low heat, stew the rhubarb and ginger, stirring regularly so the sugar doesn't burn. After 10-15 minutes, or when the rhubarb has softened, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly

4) Without cutting all the way through, use a knife to score a 1cm border around each pastry rectangle- this allows the edges of the pastry to rise, Prick the inner rectangles all over with a fork

5) Add a small drizzle of golden syrup or honey to each inner pastry rectangle

6)  Strain off any liquid and divide the rhubarb between the pastry rectangles, placing within the border

7) When I make these again I will beat an egg to brush the edges of the pastry to give a more golden appearance when baked. Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden

Lovely served hot with ice cream or custard, or cold with a cup of tea. If you love rhubarb, what are your favourite rhubarb recipes?

I've now made an entire set of table ware- check out my how tos for placemats made from an up-cycled top, coasters made from old CDs and lace and napkins made from tea towels and pompom trim. Happy making and baking!

Sunday 17 May 2015

How To... Up-Cycle a Top To Make Fabric Placemats

This thrifty How To for fabric placemats is a lovely way to use fabric from an old top or dress. Sometimes you love the fabric from a particular item of clothing so much that you don't want to part with it, although you'll never wear it again- this is a way up-cycle it to keep forever! Happy Making!

1) You will need

An old top or dress (I cut two placemats from one top), backing fabric (I used an old dress), sewing needles and thread to match the fabric, pins, paper, pen and ruler to make the template, fabric scissors, beads, sequins or other trimmings of your choice. Mine were taken from my top

This fabric is such summery print that the placemats are putting me in the mood for breakfast in the garden and summer garden parties! Depending on the garments you use, you may have some fabric left over- I'm saving mine for more projects.

2) Decide the size you'd like your placemats to be. Mine are 38cmx30cm. Cut a piece of paper to this size, allowing a 1cm seam allowance

3) Pin the template to your top/dress and cut a piece for the front of your placemat and a piece from the backing material

4) Place right sides together and pin and tack the pieces together, leaving a gap of aprox 10cm for turning through. I  leave a gap in the tacking to remind myself not to stitch all the way round, have done it many times!

5) Allowing a 1cm seam allowance, using a straight stitch, stitch all the way round the placemats (leaving the 10cm gap for turning). Stitch the loose ends in and then cut the excess fabric away from the corners, close to the stitching and on the diagonal- this will make the corners sharper when you turn the placemat through. Trim the seam allowance down to aprox 5mm

6) Turn the placemat through. Ease out the corners with a pin and press

7) If I were to make these again, before stitching the pieces together I would first stitch on any embellishments- I got to this point and realised I'd forgotten to do this, so stitching the pieces on was a bit trickier! I removed beads and sequins from the top and used them to embellish two corners of the placemats, stitching them on with gold thread

8) Use ladder stitch to invisibly close the open gap- check out this You Tube video for a tutorial on how to stitch ladder stitch. Press, covered with a tea towel to protect the embellishments

Happy making and enjoying your up-cycled top for many more years to come. Check out my How To to make the coasters using old cds and lace and napkins made from tea towels and pom pom trim to make a whole set of table accessories.

I'll be sharing the recipe for these Rhubarb Tarts on Wednesday, until then, have a lovely week!

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Crafty Discoveries

Back in March I shared these Crafty Discoveries. I'd like this to become a regular series so today I'm sharing my latest finds!

Needle Grabbers

I first heard these described as a "smokers patch"- looking at them it's easy to see why! They're so simple, just a disc of thin rubber, but they are very handy for pulling/pushing your needle through tough materials such as leather, or lots of layers when quilting. Thimbles don't work well for me as I find you can't feel what you're doing, so these have been perfect for saving my thumbs!

Customised Rubber Name Stamp from The English Stamp Company

Such a useful item to have, ideal for customising packaging and giving your branding a personal touch. I ordered mine from The English Stamp Company- there were many sizes and fonts to choose from and quick delivery too. I've been using mine to customise packaging hang tags alongside the self adhesive lace tape

Self Adhesive Lace Tape

I've seen self adhesive tape in lots of craft stores lately and I treated myself to a reel (can't resist a bit of lace!). We've all been there, getting in a tangle with ribbons and double sided tape- this saves lots of hassle. I've been using it on hang tags as part of my packaging, but it would look just as lovely as decoration on wedding invitations, gifts, stationary or bunting- it has lots of applications! I've seen it in many colours too. Love it!

Have you made any crafty discoveries lately? Please do share the crafty love so we can all check them out too!