Got it? Use it!

In my last post, I wrote about my desire to stop buying so much ‘stuff’, including craft ‘stuff’. Like many people, in the post-Christmas period I feel the need to consume less, and I don’t only mean food.

Helping me keep on the straight and narrow is the 64 Million Artists’ January Challenge. As they say on their website, “Each day in January we’ll send you a short creative challenge to do. It will only take 5 or 10 minutes to complete, it’s free and any materials you need should be easy to find (a pen, paper, random junk in your recycling bin, a sense of humour, etc). The challenge might be writing a poem or drawing a picture, or it might be thinking your way around a problem or going on a mini-adventure.”

I’ve completed each of the daily challenges, so far, and I haven’t had to buy a single item. All I’ve used is my phone (to draw, play music, and take photos); a box, canned food and some recycling (to make a castle); and pen and paper.

A paper snowflake.
The challenge on Day 10 was to spend a few minutes creating something using only one sheet of A4 paper.

People are sharing their makes on Twitter via #TheJanuaryChallenge and #64MillionArtists

There’s still time to sign up for the challenge, as it’ll go on throughout January. I’m loving it, and so would encourage you to give it a go. Actually, I’m not sure what I’m going to do come February 1st!




Waste not want not

I’m a sucker for a craft project. If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that. I’ve watched a couple of the episodes of the most recent Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas series, so far, and I’ve been inspired. It’s a great programme. But, as I was watching, I noticed I was making ‘must purchase’ lists for new projects. One list was for making a Christmas diorama as featured in one episode; I was all for buying miniature Christmas trees, tiny skiers and a weeny ski lift. Another list contained items required for making hand painted tree baubles (featured in another of the episodes). Then, mid list, I had an epiphany. Why was I planning to trek round shops spending money when I have so much stuff at home already? By ‘stuff’ I mean stacks of wool, boxes of ribbons, bags of scrap fabric, a tool box full of card making stuff, masses of embroidery floss – the list goes on and on. I really don’t need to consume more. There’s enough consumerism in the world already.

As much as I want to start a million new projects, because I want to learn new skills and have different crafting adventures, I’m going to focus on projects which can utilise the stuff I have in storage.

In the lead-up to Christmas I have loved reading Louise Walker’s Scrapvent tweets. Louise took on the challenge of using scraps of wool to knit up tree decorations. I admire the no waste approach and she made beautiful decs, which you can see here.

Here’s hoping I can avoid temptation and a follow a ‘waste not want not’ path over the next few months.



Woolly gifts


I am a teeny bit obsessed with knitting covers for jars. It’s so easy, (as long as you can knit garter stitch), and the end results are cute. All you need is:

  • A ball of wool
  • Knitting needles
  • Some thread and a sewing needle (to sew together the two ends of the knitted strip)
  • Some double sided tape (to stick the cover to the jar)
  • An empty and clean coffee jar, (or jam jar), with the labels removed.

You can decorate the jars, (like in the photos above and below), by adding buttons, iron-on or sew-on motifs, ribbon, or scraps of fabric.


The decorated jars can be given as gifts, or filled to give as care packages (you could fill them with wrapped sweets and chocolates, or sewing items, or travel-size toiletries). Add a tag which lists the contents.

The jar with the cactus motif on it, pictured above, sits on my mantelpiece with two LED candles in it, to throw out soft light on a dark night. I have another jar on my dressing table, which I use to store make up, and I’m in the middle of making another in which I’ll store buttons.

If you don’t knit, you could make a jar cover from fabric.

It’s an easy craft to try, which doesn’t cost a lot of money (I often buy the wool from charity shops), and it’s satisfying to a see an old coffee jar, that may otherwise have ended up in landfill, being used again.

Having spent so long working with coffee and jam jars, I’ve started to think about using them for other projects. I’m getting the urge to try to make a diorama (something I haven’t done before) and a quick Google search tells me it is possible to make them in jars. It must be very tricky to do, as the access is so limited, and I should probably start with something more simple, like a metal tin. Then again, the idea of positioning tiny weeny figures in a jar, using some kind of craft tweezers and craft glue, does appeal to me. An alpine scene is coming into my mind…

Happy crafting!





Hard pressed

Did you press flowers as a child? I didn’t. All I wanted to do when I was at primary school was go to dance class and Brownies, read library books, dress up dolls and read fashion magazines. Yep, read fashion magazines. I used pretend I owned a boutique, adding up imaginary customer’s purchases on an adding machine, handing out receipts. So, in truth, flower pressing wasn’t on my radar.

I’ve read in a couple of magazines that herbariums are becoming a fashionable way to decorate the home. Not surprising really, given the current botanical trend. I wouldn’t know where to start with creating a proper herbarium, and so I thought I’d start with this kit, bought from Oxfam for a bargain price.



Ok, I know what you’re thinking… that’s a kit designed for small children. You’re right. For me, using products aimed at children is a good way to get into craft I haven’t tried before. The instructions are straight forward, jargon free, and usually include diagrams!

It’s a great kit, containing everything that’s needed (apart from the flowers, obviously).


I’m lucky enough to have a garden and so I picked a few tiny flowers and leaves, (I’m no gardener and couldn’t tell you what type of flora/ foliage; they’re probably weeds). Whatever they are they’re tucked away in here.


The instructions say to leave small flowers a week, then check they’re completely dried out. Fingers crossed they’ll come out ok. I’ll let you know!




Pillow talk

Charity shops are great places to find fabric for sewing projects. Recently, I bought a single bed sheet and pillow case in a beautifully delicate white and yellow floral print. The set appeared to be new, or at least in tip top condition, and the whole lot came for far less than a fiver.

My mum’s great at sewing and came up with ideas as to how the material could be used. The pillowcase was the first thing to have been re-purposed; into a retro-style apron, (again, all the work of my mum. I can’t take any credit!).

It turns out aprons are pretty tricky things to photograph when unworn, but you’ll get the idea from the following.

The apron was a birthday present for my friend who is a fellow charity shop lover, re-purposing fan, and baking aficionado.

There was some material left after the apron had been created and the spare fabric has been used for lavender bags.

Another friend of mine buys material from charity shops, which she uses to make bunting. We met volunteering in a charity shop and quickly discovered our shared love of ‘rescuing’ pre-loved clothes and homewares. Check out @handmadetales if you’d like to see some of her creations, (I promise I’m not on commission!).

If, like me, you’re not great at sewing, but come across material you love, you could ask a crafting family member, friend or colleague to turn it into something new. Crafters are always on the lookout for new projects.

Hope you find some treasures out there!


Stitch up

A couple of months back I went to a workshop called Revive Your Clothes, organised by the fabulous Green City. The workshop was timed to coincide with Fashion Revolution Week, and helped to raise awareness of the ‘Who made my clothes’ campaign.

We were asked to arrive at the workshop armed with items of old clothing that we’d like to give a new lease of life. Perhaps rather foolishly I decided to take a pair of new plain white H&M fabric trainers, bought from my local British Red Cross charity shop ages ago. I fancied making them a little more individual.

My mum had found some lovely fabric in a charity shop; black with a green fern print. I decided I’d like to cover the trainer tongues with this, as botanical prints are on trend. It didn’t take long for me to realise it’s really difficult to sew on to this part of a trainer, because it’s tricky to access all areas. Let’s just say I didn’t really think it through!

After I’d finished sewing on the tongues there was a little bit of workshop time left, so I used it to hand embroider the sides of the trainers. All I needed was some embroidery thread and a big needle. I’m not an experienced embroiderer, so didn’t have a plan before I got going. I just started to freestyle! To be honest, when it comes to crafting that’s how I tend to roll. For some reason my brain can’t follow patterns, so I do my own thing.

The end result is far from perfect, so those of you who are good at sewing please don’t view this photo too closely; you’ll be horrified!

Version 2

The thing is, when I wear the trainers the dodgy lining up of the fabric and ropey stitches aren’t that easy to see. I know that must be hard to believe, based on the pic above, but it’s true.

Despite how tricky a project it was, I would try upcycling fabric trainers or shoes again. I’d only do this with shoes bought in a charity shop, because I wouldn’t want to risk messing up an expensive purchase. I know I could go to Primark and get something on the cheap, but I’m trying to avoid the whole ‘fast fashion’ thing.

If you’re good at sewing this would be an easy project for you to try, and the end result will be a pair of shoes that are truly unique.

Next month I’ll be going to Green City’s workshop on natural dyeing and printing. I’ve never done anything like that before but, if I enjoy using those techniques, no doubt I’ll be off to a charity shop soon after, to look for fabric to print or dye.

Tale of two trends

Two trends that seem to be in every magazine at the moment: pom poms and cacti, (separately, I mean. I’m yet to see a pom pom wearing cactus, but you never know…).

I like a bargain. Everybody does. I considered going to Primark to get pom pom’d up, but the ethics around ‘fast fashion’ are bothering me a bit lately, and so I decided against it.

I had a pack of pom poms in my craft kit, bought for a pound over a year ago from John Lewis’ bargain basement section. At the time I had no idea what I’d do with them. Brightly coloured pom poms weren’t a trend at the time (whoever thought they would be?), but I snagged them purely on the basis of their cheapness.

So, this is what I did with them:

1) Upcycled a t-shirt that had been languishing in the back of my wardrobe for years. It took me about ten minutes to hand sew the pom poms on to the pocket. If you sew a lot I’m sure you could do this in a couple of minutes.


2) Embellished a bag that had also been in my wardrobe for years. This was a five minute make; pom poms + fabric glue + bag  = result.


The bag was bought years ago for a wedding, used once and shoved away. I’m pretty sure it came from a charity shop. These kind of basket bags with pom poms are being sold in high street chains for a pretty packet now. I’d rather save the money as I’m pretty sure the trend won’t last beyond the Summer.

Other things you could upcycle with pom poms? Sandals, lightweight scarfs, beach wraps. Just take a look in Accessorise or Monsoon for inspiration. On the homewares front you could add pom poms to the edge of a tablecloth; that’d look great on a patio table.

On to trend number two: Cacti.  I love them. They’re hardy little things, easy to look after, and have a fierce attitude (you’ll see I have a tendency to anthropomorphise pretty much everything).

I have a terrarium at home and a cactus on my desk. The latter came from Urban Outfitters for an eye watering price, but I was weak and couldn’t resist the concrete and copper planter it came in. Having cacti needn’t cost a fortune though. My mum was gifted a little collection of them recently and decided to home them together in one planter. This cheery yellow number was an absolute bargain from a charity shop.


Whilst we’re talking plants and charity shops, this planter came from my local Cancer Research store for less than a fiver.


There you go, a bit of upcycling and charity shop finds in one post. On that subject, I’ll be writing about my attempts to upcycle some fabric trainers I bought in a charity shop, but that’s a tale for another day…