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Craftiness, Thrifty

Easy Toddler Wings Craft

8 November, 2012

When I was a wee tike I was selected as part of the Royal Ballet Help the Poor South London Kiddies Scheme. It meant being bustled off each week to a cold, scary big hall and leaping from corner to corner and getting told off for not leaping gracefully enough by older ballerinas. I didn’t really like it much (what an ungrateful Beneficiary of Good Will!) and didn’t last very long. But before I had my last tussle with Mum about whether I could give up this opportunity I did get to perform in the Royal Opera House dressed as a giant chicken.

Despite being a rubbish, ungrateful ballerina I can remember being so proud on that stage, and feeling so full of fancy, so unlike my clumsy self, I felt that even my leaping met the grade, as a flapped my way from stage left to stage right.  I think I was probably the last child out of my suit.

There is something about wings, even those wings of the inelegant chicken, that makes a child’s imagination soar.

After seeing some images of a child in wings on the internet a few times, I decided I had to give this craft a crack and discovered just how irresistibly easy it is and what delight they provoke in children!


It was such a simple craft, anyone could manage it with just some scraps of fabric and a sewing machine. It did take a while cutting out all those reams of looping feathers, and it is fairly monotonous sewing the lines – but I am sure you all have a much higher boredom threshold than me!   I used up some upholstery samples, so I had fantastic, bold colours but really just too heavy for tiny arms to happily flap for hours.

How to:

  • You need a base that reflect the arm length of the child. I did 30 cm x 30 cm (for a 1-2 year old, would fit up to 3)  and cut a loose curve between them.
  • I then cut lots of loopy strands, beginning at 36 cm and getting smaller as you sew up into the corner.
  • My strands were  around 5 cm wide, but these could be any width- wider if you are lazier than me and want less strands or much less wide if you would like lots and lots of feathery layers.
  • Best to leave a loop hanging off each end and then cut the loop smaller once you are all done.
  • I just sewed straight along the top of each strand from corner to corner, wriggling and doing tiny tucks as I went to accommodate the curve for the first one or two longer strands. For the short strands you can zip straight along.
  • I then laid them out to make a half circle and so I could easily imagine where the ribbon needed to go.
  • I then attached a long piece ribbon to the pointy corner of each wing, with a few centimetres between them, so that could go around the neck with a nice bow.
  • I left the bottom corner to just hang, and tied a smaller bit of ribbon on the far end corners to tie around the ribbon.
  • Hope that all makes sense!

As you can see, I didn’t use the ideal fabric and my cuts are wonky but it still turned out okay! Such a forgiving craft, my absolute favourite kind.

I made two pairs to send to my two toddler nephews in New Zealand. It is hard finding crafty  present ideas for toddlers and children so I was REALLY happy when my sister-in-law sent a video of her darling boy having a major giggle, flapping about and dancing to Adele. These are now my present of choice for every child!!

Craftiness, Thrifty

Ten new uses for old lace

23 October, 2012

I love old lace, I gather reams of it whenever I visit car boot sales. I simply can’t say no. Fortunately there are a million and one craft projects you can create with lace, so even when I am buried beneath it, gasping through the intricate florals, I will be squawking  “Lace! More Lace!”

Here are some of the things I have whipped up, and some of the things I have plans for. Click the links to be taken through to the How-To’s and Tutorials.

1- Perfect rosettes. The picture above are some lace rosettles on a flapper-style head band I made for a favourite little rascal I know. Lace is quite forgiving and looks beautiful even if your rose is a bit haphazard!

2- Classy lightbulbs. Simply spraypainting through lace onto normal old lightbulbs just makes the most beautiful thing – and  imagine the shadow they cast! I spied this on Pinterest and it went straight on my “15 minute craft” board.

3- Encase it in resin. A little bit of resin goes along way in my books! I love encasing bits and pieces in resin – it is so easy but looks pretty pro. I love the look of this little snippet of lace, I  turned it into a delightful keyringby simply rilling a tiny hole in the corner- but it could easily be turned into some jewelry.

4- Gorgeous plant pots. Amazing what a small strip of lace can do to a boring old planter. Suddenly a gift of bulbs in a pot is taken to a lush new level, with just lick or two of homemade mod podge.

5- New t-shirts. I love making small adjustments to things in my wardrobe. Once I get some time I am going to add new life to my old tees with a touch of lace. I did it to my first DIY baby-sling too- turning it from a plain black number to something a bit, er, kinda saucy.

6- A no-sew skirt Kids love dressing up, and parents love it if the dressing up box is packed with bargainous, easy to make items, no?  Enter the no-sew lace skirt by the thrifty Missie Lizzie.

7- Handy bowl This bowl is just 15 sloppy minutes of making and you have a vessel that is tough and pretty.

8- Elegant pegs With just two minutes and a slick of home made mod podge you can upcycle some pegs. We use pegs for hanging all sorts; cards, photos, leaves we have collected.  (I also just got sent decorated pegs with strips of magnet on the back for the fridge- how genius is that?!)

9- Upcycled Scarf. I tend to keep my scarves for years (when I have managed to not leave them on the bus) so this idea of adding lace to the ends massively appeals to me, giving a bit of pizazz to a scarf you’ve had for yonks. And it looks stunning, hey?

10- And, finally… Snazzy slippers I made these slippers out of the armpit of a jumper I felted, they were so, so simple but the trim of vintage lace makes them look just a little bit fancier.

Have you made or spotted a new use for old lace? This is merely ten out of a whole UNIVERSE of ideas, so do share…

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Craftiness

Tiny Resin Collage Craft (using just an old ice tray)

18 October, 2012

You know that old ditty “when in doubt, get the resin out”? I adhere to that in a big way.

I might have a little tiny trinket, a word from an old book, an image from a retro children’s book, or even a scrap of fabric, that I just love and want to show the world –  for me the solution is nearly always encasing it in resin.

It takes almost no skill and can be done on one of those days when you are completely lacking in creativity and nearly always turns out with a pro-looking sheen.

At the moment I am using up my Gedeo Crystal Resin, but soon will be moving on to try out a more eco version.

The key thing is to follow your instructions carefully and MIX IT TOGETHER REALLY WELL – UNTIL IT IS CLEAR AGAIN. (This is in caps because it is so critical, the only thing that will ruin it really, as it won’t set,  and then you’ll probably cry.)

I use the flexible ice tray, and fill them up to the level that I want my thing to be. I used a star mold last time, and made a scrabble letter pencil end and a tiny deer necklace.

This time I kept it plain, and filled every compartment in the tray with little papery experiments. I had someone in mind for every single one.

I popped them out after 24 hours – it is easier to get them out the quicker you do it. A couple I left in for a week and they were tough cookies, determined to stay in the tray.

Once out I drilled little holes into them, using the tiniest drill bit I have. I still need to sand the edges of them- I was kind of hoping these snaps would be a little more forgiving, mwhaha!

Some of them I made into key rings.

Some into a necklace.

I used a variety of papers- an old cowboy comic and a little piece from an old book.

I used some scraps of sewing fabric and cut up a few segments of a photo I’d taken of a million flying seagulls.

Easy Resin Craft

I couldn’t resist putting a bit of lace in, and I love how it came out, and then this little kids book image. These are my faves.

Others I have not quite made up my mind what to make them into, even though I know exactly who they are for.

What do you think? Any ideas for these tiny little collages?

Craftiness, Thrifty

Homemade Mod Podge Recipe 2017 – Don’t be hoodwinked!

19 September, 2012

I’m so glad you made it here! There are lots of dubious homemade mod podge recipes out there but this is the one that is perfectly proportioned! The one handed down from crafting whizz to crafting whizz, and now here it is, in your very hands! I first posted this recipe many moons ago (six years ago!) when I was living in London. These days we live in a yurt in New Zealand (seriously!) and I still use this homemade mod podge recipe every single day. I use this homemade mod podge on DIY projects like relining my drawers with beautiful old wall paper, everyday crafts with my daughters and the collage artworks I love to whip up.

Now, in lots of ways I am a hand clapping optimist. I find it really hard to imagine the worst case scenario and always think everything is going to work out, which is often to my detriment. In other ways I am a doubting cynic. When it comes to brands and their promises I am more dubious then Scooby doo smoking doobies in dubiousville.  When a grand claim is made of a product my mind screams “LIES, ALL DAMN LIES!” like some kind of crossed witch.

There are some exceptions:

  • Helmans mayonnaise (no other will do. I can eat this with a spoon for lunch.)

Ummmm.

Okay, actually, I think that is it on my list.

So when I first heard about crafting super power that is Mod Podge I tried to ignore the screamy witch and find out exactly what it is that makes Mod Podge such a delight. First of all I began by trying to find out what Mod Podge is.Wanna know what it is, basically?

Watered down PVA glue.

That’s: Homemade Mod Podge is PVA glue with water in it.

PVA (that you can buy in bulk for a few quid) with water (free)

But people are paying heaps for this crafting Must Have, to do things like decoupage and scrapbooking, that people have done for years with watered down PVA. PVA is also known as Elmer’s glue or woodowrking glue or simply white crafting glue. It is gluggy and sticky and thick and perfect.

I kind of think the people of Mod Podge are trying to fox us all a little bit.

Oh well. Now we know, eh?

Homemade Mod Podge - the actual recipeHomemade Mod Podge Recipe

To make a jar of fake / homemade Mod Podge you need 1 cup of glue and 1/3 cup of water.  These proportions are perfect – don’t mess with them. Other internet recipes for homemade Mod Podge abound but they are TOO WEAK. Beware! Shake really well  and use as you would Mod Podge. To make it gloss add 2 table spoons of water based varnish or to make the sparkly add super fine glitter.

What to make

You can make ANYTHING with this stuff – it is the business! I craft left, right and center with my trusty jar of homemade mod podge!

Decoupage – mod podge is traditionally used to decoupage. This stuff works just as well.
Scrap booking – it is perfect.
Sealing – fling a bit of this over a freshly painted canvas or a craft to seal it all in.

I have even made hardcore DIY recycled flooring with mod podge and paper as the base!

Recently I wanted to try making some decorated pegs. I made some Christmas pegs with ribbon and scrabble tiles in this way but found cutting the fabric and getting it to not fray really tricky. Using homemade Mod Podge on fabric turns it into a paper like substance and makes cutting out fabric a real breeze – perfect for a peg craft, thanks.

Just give the little scraps of fabric a good soaking then leave them to dry as flat as you can. Then snip them up. It is truly ace and made making these pegs so easy. And if you are like me and keep every snippet of beautiful material than this is the PERFECT use!

I used some navy polka dots and even a bit of lace, so simple and quick (excuse the late-at-night in mid-winter photography!)


Does it yellow?
I have been using this for several years and it hasn’t yellowed. Beyond “several years” I can’t answer as I haven’t been making it for ages. However, my gut feeling is that people have been decoupaging for EVER, without things yellowing- and mod podge didn’t actually exist until quite recently. So, yeah.

I made retro fabric bird garland using this technique and transformed some rubbish old tins.
Is it waterproof?
You can make it waterproof by adding varnish to it. However, if you really want something waterproof, hardcore, then I would say you need to use varnish. Not mod podge at all. (Remember Mod Podge isn’t waterproof unless you select the waterproof option too.)

What do you think? Are you a Mod Podge Die Hard? Or are you generally happy with the fake/ home made versions of things?

The best place online to buy PVA is undoubtedly my affiliate chums Yellow Moon. You can get 1 litre bottles or 5 litre bottles and it never goes off.  They also have almost every possible craft thing you have dreamed of. It is a crafter’s paradise.

*sings* I’ve been spending most my years living in the crafter’s paradiiiiiise… power in the money… money in the power… minute after a minute…. hour after hour…

Sorry. Totally carried away with my 1990’s rapping there.

Tell me about the project you are whipping up with your homemade mod podge!

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Thanks for reading!

Upcycle Bread Bin

 

Beautiful Clean Shampoo Free hair

Feminism

Boobs are brilliant, but not news

19 September, 2012

Honestly, I LOVE breasts.

Did you know, when you are breastfeeding, MILK comes out of them?

OMG. That is like some kind of magic.

And then, as if that is not like Mind= Blown enough for you, this other incredible thing happens whereby, if your little one gets a bit crook they communicate this to your boobs and then the milk adapts to produce the right kind of antibodies to fix your sick babe right up.

Come on. You couldn’t MAKE it up.

It’s funny, I have spent most of my life not liking my boobs, they were too big to wear vests without looking skanky, too bouncy to dance and deflected too much from my brain. I spent most of my teenage years thinking I was a bimbo because of my big ‘uns and only when my sister took me aside one day, after I had successfully navigated a team of older teens around the complicated underground of the Czech Republic and said, “Lucy, you know you are not thick, don’t you?”, did I stop allowing my boobs and blondeness to define me.

It is tough being a teenage girl and have a sense of being so much more than your image. Let alone when you are surrounded by the objectification of women in songs, television and films. Let alone being faced with it EVERYDAY in Britain’s most popular newspaper. I remember being on the bus and seeing men “reading” Page 3. I recall jumping on a train trying to ignore the paper tossed on a seat,  folded open on Page 3,  while men passed it with a quick ogle.

You know, I would constantly fold my arms over my breasts  in a subconscious attempt to disguise myself and disassociate myself from such sexualised bodies. (And you are going to think I am distinctly mad now) for I while I used to even TAPE THEM DOWN when clubbing, such a hateful relationship I had with these carnal buoys.

And now, here I am, age 30 and a mother and I love my boobs. I love that they provide food and comfort for my toddler. Having a never ending supply of nutrition on tap is one of the most liberating aspects of mothering. I will skinny dip in secret rivers and nurse on the bus and shower in the changing rooms of the pool completely in the nick.  They aren’t so buoyant, having been tugged and stretched and knelt on by a boisterous toddler. But they are a miracle.

Great as they are, miraculous even, they are not news. I could talk about them all day, press releases sent forth about their healing properties. But bare boobs with the sole purpose of titillating have no public place, least of all in a newspaper. To be gawked at in busy spaces, securing in the minds of menfolk that boobs are for the pleasure of their eyeballs.

For the sake of our teenage girls AND boys, we need to get them out of The Sun. Of course, it is the tip of an iceberg but as all tips are, it is hugely visible and hard to ignore and SURMOUNTABLE. (Are icebergs surmountable?) We can VIABLY CARVE THIS TIP RIGHT OFF. In the last week the No More Page 3 campaign has gathered momentum and signatories are piling up by the second.

Let’s do it.

I have signed the petition. Tweeted the heck out of it. Even got on the old Facebook and shared it. But I wanted to do something just a little bit more bespoke and felt a Craftivist style action would be perfect.

So during Ramona’s nap yesterday I stitched a little banner. 

Then when she woke up we cycled to News International, HQ of The Sun, 3 St Thomas More Square, and left them a little message. Hastily attached with my guilty hands.

It was a bit scary. Full of suits and security guards and we stood out like a sore thumb, Ramona pulling along her little toy dog, making an insanely conspicuous scraping noise that reverberated off the stark buildings. (Oh, cringing in memory. She just kept insisting on dragging it. I’m like “Oh, does doggy need a carry?” “Nooooo mummy.”)  And there was not a single spot to hang it in the square. So the old gate by the entrance way had to do.

So. Boobs. In the paper. What do you reckon? Have you signed, Tweeted and Facebooked? Would love to hear of any other creative actions going down…

Craftiness, Thrifty

DIY lace bowl … in 10 minutes

9 September, 2012

Do you have a constant second hand shopping list floating around your mind at all times? It is almost certainly a waste of brain space (space that for me I suspect could have been used up in the area of knowing how to pronounce certain words)  but it does nurture patience and acceptance as you wander around charity shops and car boot fairs, not finding the things you want but knowing you will one day.

Mine goes something like:

Summer shoes

Vintage Toys

Midwinter Crockery

Retro Glass Jugs

Lexicon word game

Scrabble

Lace

(It goes from the specific to, er, kinda general…)

Any bargainous retro or vintage item

I pick up this stuff time and time again, whenever I see it. Often because I don’t believe a house can ever be too full of the delightful swirls of old crockery but also because I know this stuff will come in handy for craft purposes.  Lexicon and Scrabble are INVALUABLE. (Hmmm. Although I won’t dig out more than £1.50 for them. Invaluable might be a bit too strong a word. Hehe.)

And I have quite few reams of lace. I like to stack it in piles and have crafted a few lovely things out of it- my favourite being this flapper style head band for a friend’s little lass.

A little while ago I found a few tutorials for lace lampshades on Pinterest and, although we are not in need of lampshades as I am whipping these up all the time out of totally obvious things like zips, I wondered if the same principle could be use to craft up some bowls.

Turns out it can. HOORAY!

You need:

Step 1- Blow up a balloon to about the size you want the bowl to be.

Step 2 – Take a strip of lace  – the length needs to go around the balloon and will be the circumference of your bowl. The width will be the side of the bowl. Mine was around 27 inches long and I chose 5 inches in width.

Step 3 – Do a series of cuts, at one inch intervals all along the length, from the bottom up to about 2 inches  from the top. It will be like a flappy thing. (*wishes she had photo of this bit that wasn’t blurry!*)

Step 4 – Dunk this into mod podge.

Step 5- Wrap this around the bottom half of your balloon, overlapping each one inch segment by just a few millimetres. Doing this allows the lace to curve around, without having to have pleats. The bottom rim should be curving under the balloon, leaving an empty bit at base of balloon.

Step 6- Make sure the seam and each overlap is well pushed together.  Be warned, it does all get a bit slippy and slithery and your balloon my try and escape your grasp a bit!

Step 7- Leave it to dry (it should be done in an hour or two if left in a breezy, warm place)

Step 8- Add another layer of Mod Podge and leave to dry again

Step 9- Pop balloon! You should have a fairly sturdy bowl with no bottom!

Step 10-  Tweak it a little, bending it gently in to the right shape, if needed.

Step 11- Cut out a piece of lace to be the bottom. It needs to be whatever shape the balloon happens to have made it! Mine was a kind of small oval.

Step 12- Dunk it into the Mod Podge and place this into the inside of the bowl, covering the hole, pushing it gently onto the existing lace structure. Leave to dry flat on its bottom. (Otherwise you’ll have a wobbly bowl)

Step 13- Give a light coat of varnish around the outside. My varnish dries in an hour, if in warm, breezy place.

Step 14- Give a light coat of varnish throughout the inside. Especially seal off the edges of the bottom piece.

Step 14- If you like the original colour of the lace then VOILA! You are done.

Step 15- If, like me, you used an ancient tin of varnish because you are too stingy to throw it away and it was really yellow, you will need to find a spray can colour you are happy with. I went for neon orange and I LOVE IT!

DONE!

It isn’t perfect, if you were to inspect you would see it was slightly wonky and the seams would be quite obvious but I think the “lacey bowl” effect is nailed.  The overall paint coverage hides a whole load of the little discrepancies.

I am pretty sure, taking out drying time, that the whole thing is done in a matter of moments – possibly one of the quickest crafting up of a bowl ever? Of course, it isn’t water tight, so you cannae eat your cornflakes out of it, but as a vestibule for bits and bobs (of which our household needs many) it is purdy purfick.

I am definately making these again – perhaps as a way of displaying some small crafts I hope to see one day at a fair. (Vague plans, too lazy and flighty to make enough of one thing to purvey!)

It is sitting in my little kitchen pop of orange, underneath some heart palpitatingly beautiful pottery I found at a car booty last week. The pottery, it is called Lord Nelson Gaytime. Honestly. You couldn’t make it up.

Linking up with the magical Liz and the Magpies- celebrators of all things second hand.

And the final shout out for the Charity Shop Blog Hop! Being hosted here this Thursday – come along and link up your charity shop loving posts and get all kinds of blog loving 😀