Make a show-off paper flower!

I feel slightly guilty. I’m a Facebook virgin, and someone kindly showed me these paper flowers on Facebook and I promptly made one, but now have no clue how to find the original person and honour them!!!
Anyway, these are very simple…..you can make one too.
 
 
You need brightly coloured crepe paper. I found mine wasn’t quite as thick as I expected and therefore didn’t have as much stretch as I’d have liked.
You also need a glue gun and a paper plate.
 
 
Cut petal shapes from double paper. Pinch them together at the base.
 
 
When you’ve made a batch, glue gun them all around the paper plate.
 
 
Then make another batch of petals in the same way but smaller this time. Glue them to the plate but a little nearer the centre.
 
 
I used pale yellow crepe paper for the centre of my flower. I cut a pile ( maybe 8) of circles and used a small dot of glue in the centre between each layer, so they all stay together.  Then started cutting inwards but not all the way.
 
 
When you’ve cut all the way round, separate the ‘stamens’ gently but in random fashion direct-wise.
 
 
Separate all the large petals gently, easing them inwards and glue the stamens into the centre. Suddenly, everything comes together and looks rather fabulous. I might just try making a smaller one as a gift topper…..because it would be daft not to, in my world! Fripping fabulous!!!!

Never buy another gift bag!

 
 
Why should you spend a small fortune on gift bags? When you’ve got a spare hour and some leftover, beautiful gift wrap, like this one from EMILY BURNINGHAM, you can make a small stash of them in different sizes.
 
 
I used an empty cereal box ( I love these!!!) but can can use any box you have handy. Fold your paper over a little at the top of your bag. Then fold the paper round the box ( neatly but not too tight as you’ll have to ease it out later!) secure the overlap with a glue stick and leave a few minutes for it to stick properly.
 
 
At the base, secure exactly as you would a normal parcel end. Neatly and with glue stick again, or a glue gun.
 
 
Ease the box out.
 
 
There will be obvious creased folds at the sides of the bag from where it fitted around the box. Crease these more obviously most of the way down.
 
 
 
 
Carefully encourage the bag to fold flat ( useful for storage)
 
 
 
I punched a single hole on each side at the top of the bag but you could do two holes each side, if you were making a larger bag.
 
 
My lovely gift bag, all ready for someone’s birthday gift. The Emily Burningham paper is exceptionally beautiful and very good quality. Expect to see more! Find Gift Frippery on Instagram, twitter and Facebook.

What’s in your attic?

I was tidying up the other day and headed into the attic. I had ( I’m embarrassed to say) come across a few boxes of Christmas cards that weren’t needed last year and were still hanging out on the stairs waiting for a reunion with the wrapping paper and baubles!!

Moving swiftly on, I got distracted in the attic, and happened upon some wallpaper leftovers that we used when wallpaper was last in fashion and that was 20 years ago!! I’ve noticed some lovely wallpaper in shop displays recently, bright, modern, quirky, beautiful. Pattern is most definitely back!

I popped into a couple of the shops and they gave me offcuts to play with. If you follow @GiftFrippery on Instagram you’ll see my mini series on ‘Wallpaper as Wrapping’. It’s been fun.

Wallpaper is strong so you can get a great wrap especially on bigger items. It varies in thickness and the slightly thinner stuff is easier to get round corners.

So, check out your attic and see what’s lurking up there.

I have The Bristol Curtain Shop and Whittakerwells in Bristol to thank for the paper I tried out.

 

Call me a dinosaur….

I’ve always been one to drag my heels with social media. Call me a dinosaur but I get a buzz from interacting with real people not a screen.

When I first had a website to showcase my gift wrapping business, I really thought that was enough. I was done!

Then I added a blog so people could see little step by step tutorials and get a bit of inspiration. Job done! So I thought…..

My sons thought Twitter would suit me because my text replies are short and sweet e.g.

Son ‘ will you be in tonight?’

Me ‘yep’

So you can see they were correct, I don’t have the problem most people have of not having enough characters. I embraced Twitter instantly and it’s served me well. I have had all sorts of opportunities that have come directly from Twitter. Twitter and I were, and perhaps still are, a match made in heaven.

Then one day, at a workshop with eight lovely ladies, I was begged to showcase all my wrapping on Instagram. I resisted……obviously. Eventually though I caved in and thought I’d just give a try. Guess what? I got beyond mere flirting with IG ……it became a whole new love affair. Who’d have thought?

I know all this will make you think I’m very cool and down with the kids BUT IM NOT!

Everyone else in the world is on Facebook. I’m trying to embrace Facebook but do you know, I’ve barely got as far as a luke warm cuddle. I’m not feeling it. I’m still not quite seeing the point when I’m doing the other stuff…so if you’re on Facebook please connect to Gift Frippery I’ll be pleased to make some friends. And do bear with me…. it could take a while!

Valentines Day is on the way!

Valentines Day is on the way!

Perhaps you give flashy gifts? Perhaps you give small tokens of love! Perhaps you create your own gifts.

Either way, you can choose gorgeous wrappings….

Or you can make your own and have a relaxing time while you’re doing it!

Cut a shape into a potato and stand it on absorbent paper, cut side down, so it dries off a bit and therefore your printing will be sharper.

You can even involve the little ones in your life! Mistakes and smudges don’t really matter, it all adds to the charm. Don’t feel you have to stick with red and white. Go with what you fancy and do some Easter wrapping while you’re at it!

Happy New Year!

Daily Mail
Professional gift wrapper Amanda White. December 18 2016.

Was 2016 a marvellous year? I can’t pretend it was ALL marvellous, like many of you it had its ups and downs, some plain sailing and some bumps. Most of the bumps were health related with the extended family. All the marvellous bits were also connected with family….. A new baby on the way  for my lovely son and his girlfriend. An art show in New York for my youngest son and his partner. And a visit over Christmas from my daughter and her family ( from Australia). Having all my family under my roof is a rare treat these days as they all grow up, fly the nest and establish their own lives. Celebrating a rather big birthday, I spent three weeks in India (see earlier blog post) which was fascinating and I long to go back.

So it’s with delight that I’m accepting new challenges with Gift Frippery! One such opportunity arrived with very little notice…. Filming for the Daily Mail online , see the links on page 1 of the website. As I love presenting anyway, I don’t find it daunting, I really enjoy it!

I give many demonstrations to groups and I gave one at a lovely Welsh WI group. They applauded every wrap and invited me to join their festive supper. At the end of the evening they stood and sung me out!!! Yes really, there were some good voices in the hall that night.

I’ve also been invited to help an independent shop offer a gift wrapping service to their customers. I’ll enjoy that, I know, as I’ve done this a couple of times before.

I joined a networking group in Bristol, see earlier blog post, and I love it. I’ve found one that I feel comfortable with and realise how important that is. If you’re going to join one, make sure it’s the right one for you!

So my work starts next week attending an Expert Series workshop with @shcsocialmedia. It will help me find my unique place in the market and use my personality to grow my business.

Watch this space!

 

One of the best things I did in 2016!

One of the best things I did in 2016!

Browsing on Twitter a few weeks ago brought unexpected pleasure. Ben, from @caringinbristol, was tweeting and asking for gift wrapping help. GIFT WRAPPING HELP????? That’s got my name on it, I thought, let’s find out more.

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So, Caring in Bristol, is a local charity that helps homeless people in Bristol all year round. We do think of people less fortunate than ourselves at Christmas but it should really be all year. Ben and I had a chat and I volunteered to help. Bristol Energy offered the use of a space on the waterfront in central Bristol. It’s a hive of activity there complete with an artisan market.

So his plan was to offer gift wrapping in return for donations to the cause. It’s a brilliant and positive and happy way to raise funds. The first day we did a lot of prep to set the following weekends wrappers up. The general public are very good and people were making small donations even if they didn’t have anything for us to wrap!

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It will be interesting to see how much they raise.

Ben and I did a lot of chatting, he’s passionate about the cause, and Caring in Bristol will be my chosen charity in 2017. Ben has big ideas for next years wrapping event, he ll need volunteers again and I’m going to help him organise it. Watch this space.

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Pretty bits of loveliness from your own garden.

Pretty bits of loveliness from your own garden.

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I came back from a long weekend in Vienna to find ,what on a first glance , looked like a sorry, dried out vase of flowers. They were quite literally dried out though. I had picked them a week before from my garden. There’s few flowers left at this time of year but it may still be possible to rescue hydrangea heads.

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Snip the individual flowers off and when completely dry, try the following.

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I held the flower with old tweezers and gave it a quick spread with fast grab glue and immediately dunked it into glitter. The glitter I chose was quite fine and it was white. I spayed randomly, definitely not evenly. It gives the look of frost.

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I obviously needed to try this out on a gift wrap immediately. Chose plain brown paper or I’ve used my own hand printed paper ,which has a natural seed pod design.

Frankly I couldn’t be happier with my dead flowers!!! What’s not to love!

Chocolate Takeover!

Chocolate Takeover!

Sounds like a wonderful thing in my life and indeed it is. This whole year I have collaborated with @shcsocialmedia #cnwm and provided wrapped after lunch chocolates at their networking event. This was a lovely opportunity to share what I do in a more memorable way. I talk about my business and then give everyone a small wrapped gift of chocolate. These are discerning ladies so it’s always quality chocolate and, as you would expect …….beautifully wrapped.

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The networking is held in a small vintage shop called @heartfeltvintage , look out for them on Instagram and Twitter. Whilst we’re sharing ideas and helping each other, we are surrounded by gorgeous vintage wedding gowns and whilst I found it a little distracting to start with I love it now. You can imagine us all sitting there making our outfit wish lists if we were to get married all over again!!

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The great thing about this small group is people get to know you and tell you things about yourself you didn’t realise or they sometimes see you and your business in a different light. For example when I asked ‘ is £5 an acceptable amount for you to pay to have a very special present gift wrapped?’ I expected a quick show of hands telling me yes. I didn’t expect a whole debate, with people saying I have especially lovely creative ideas with my gift wrapping that people would be very very happy to pay for. I felt a little overwhelmed by all the compliments actually as I always excuse my business as being the light entertainment!!

Anyway this resulted in my agreeing to make prices for different levels of wrapping ….there will be a new page on this website soon. In the meantime as I’ve had a lot of practise, let me show you how to make a humble bar of chocolate look great!

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Chocolate!

Chocolate!

Well, not just any old chocolate, but beautifully wrapped chocolate. Fourteen bars of it!

Don’t worry I’m not that greedy, each month I wrap after dinner chocolate for a small networking group who meet in the most delicious looking vintage shop in Bristol.

When I say vintage shop, in case any of you are thinking fusty, musty, stinky shabby etc etc…….this shop is gorgeous gowns, and bags all prettily presented around small French cafe style tables and chairs. So, it’s networking with an experience.

Some times I find it hard to concentrate when a particular handbag is calling my name!!!

Anyway, I was thinking about this shop and it’s lovely dresses….even wedding dresses… That I decided to uses magazine photos of real brides as wrapping. And then I added real bows and tiny flowers to embellish. They all look so pretty!

With thanks to @hfeltvintage @shcsocialmedia @rocknrollbride @waitrose. Do give them all a follow on Twitter , you’ll find me there too @giftfrippery

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Paper Making In India

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Who’d have thought that when I went to India the holiday would get gate crashed by the Royals… Kate and Will?

I certainly didn’t expect it but it was rather entertaining to have them in our hotel.

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India had been top of my wish list for years and it certainly did not disappoint. The colours hit you the minute you step out of the airport. The colours mostly coming from the saris. Beautiful. The sounds also hit you at the same time. The traffic is full on and so are the horns beeping! And the smells….of food, spices, garlic, onion, curry and all the sweet treats Indian people love so much. It’s a feast for the senses that’s for sure.

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I had a small wish list of things to buy. One of the things were bracelets. Not ordinary bangles that you can buy in lots of places but the glass bangles that make an exquisite tinkling sound. They were quite difficult to find but I did! They’d never be sold in the UK because of health and safety and I’m not sure I’ll wear them often either, but I feel like I found treasure that may not be around much longer. Even when I went shopping I managed to find lovely frescoes. I had a photo here because I loved the colours.

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This has to be a top moment! Not your usual tourist spot, but I asked the driver to take me to a paper factory. They hand make the paper and I was like a kid in a sweet shop! I ordered loads to ship back to the UK which I will be selling and using at workshops. Beautiful stuff. At one point on the walk around the factory, I heard lots of banging upstairs so the Manager took us up to see what was happening.

All the women were whacking damp paper with a brush (like a dustpan and brush) to texture the paper. Obviously I asked to join in. They were astonished enough to see a blonde haired, white face in the factory, let alone one that wanted to join in. By the time I’d finished doing my paper, they were laughing and pointing out the bits I’d missed! Money can’t buy experiences like that.and it was more interesting to spend one day doing this instead of seeing yet another red, sandstone fort! Jaipur….I will return.

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And finally, me in a dress which a colleague of my husband had sent to the hotel for me. How kind, how lovely….just like every Indian person I met!

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Gift Wrapping in fast speed on Made In Bristol TV!!

I know, it was like magic when I saw how quickly I wrapped that bottle!!

Of course, it wasn’t really really magic, but that’s the wonder of fast forward isn’t it? I quite see myself as Julie Andrews in the tidy the bedroom scene, clicking her fingers and getting the job done. Having spruced up and tidied the kitchen where the filming was taking place, I decided to put a couple of Christmassy bits around the room. At 10 am the camera man arrived and set up the lights and camera. I talked Jamie (the presenter) through the plan of action and he explained how and what would work well on camera. I wasn’t too daunted as I have done a little TV and radio work before. In fact I really enjoyed myself.

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The filming probably took about two hours. Luckily Id made mince pies the day before. Id forgotten how hungry young men can be!

Jamie brought along a jumper, a football and a bottle. None of these were actual Christmas presents which was a shame. He was a fast learner though so I have no doubt he will recreating some of the wrapping. I taught Jamie to use the glue gun. I know its not exactly rocket science but what impressed me was he was so clean with it. Half the people who use the glue guns at workshops get glue all over the place.

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Top Tips for Christmas Wrapping.

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1. Try and pick a plain colour wrapping paper…. Even brown paper or white.

2. Not everything needs a bow. Make a bright red paper windmill instead or a pompom. Tie bells on or fresh ivy.

3. If you love glitter have it on the tags and ribbons, so that the bulk of the paper can be recycled.

4. You don’t have to use normal paper. Try tin foil or glossy black bin liners. For huge presents good quality paper table cloths are brilliant. Put small presents in tin cans and embellish.

5. My personal hate is cheap twirling ribbon that’s tied in a knot, with two little curls that have had scissors run down them! Aaaaagh! I prefer real ribbon ,however, if your budget only allows for the twirling ribbon have thirty two tumbling curls not just two!

6. A squishy gift needs a solid base eg. Sit a teddy bear on a silver cake board then swoosh it up in cellophane. A soft item of clothing eg. A jumper will need a rectangle of cardboard tucked inside to give it more body before you wrap it.

7.  If you have loads of leftover pieces of paper from previous years …group your gifts into families, so each family has coordinating gifts. You can even put a band of fancy paper over very basic paper.

Most people coming to my workshops need inspiration. Why not book your own workshop with me next year when the pressures off and then when next Christmas arrives you’ll be organised, able and inspired!?

I earned my Brownie knitting badge!

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And Yes, I did earn my Brownie sewing badge. It was quite an achievement for me. My mother and sister are both excellent at sewing. At this time we were living in Singapore and they used to go to pattern making classes and sewing classes etc. me? Well I was was still earning Brownie badges. Last year my Mum gave me the above rainbow coloured binka sewing and the brightly two toned pot holder which I’d made. I was shocked that she’d kept it all that time. Maybe she had a hunch that sewing wouldn’t be my favourite thing in life.

Actually, I don’t mind a bit of hand sewing as long as I can freestyle. I cannot bear to follow patterns EVER!!

So when #craftblogclub came up with this idea to share our first crafts I knew these examples were definitely among the first. With the knitting I liked to make my Sindy doll things but always did it secretly. Reason? My mum would try and guide me to do it correctly and because she was so exacting and clever…… it actually put me off.

I can’t wait to read everyone else’s blog post about their early crafts!

Amanda

Collecting Pine Cones

I’ve been collecting pine/ fir cones pretty much all my life! What do you do with them all, I hear you ask.

Initially I collected them for doing crafts or creating nature tables with my primary school class. Then I used them as decoration in my own home. I always use them to make natural firefighters (there’s a post on this blog somewhere). And I’ve used them endlessly to create decoration on gifts.

Now, I fancied ringing the changes. I still want to use them on gifts but look different somehow. So I tried bleaching them! It was a complete experiment that seems to have worked. Whilst they didn’t turn a bright frosty white (which to be honest is what I was expecting) they’ve turned a creamy white. They’re lighter, softer more subtle than I expected. I like it. Ive obviously rethought the wrapping idea too. Here’s how I did it….

1. You’ll see from the picture I threw in a mixture of fir cones, a couple of gum nuts (collected in Australia) and a few of those little acorn cups.

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2. I put this assortment into an old bowl and carefully poured over the bleach. I used cheap thin bleach and only watered it down very slightly.

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3. The bleach went almost instantly brown and yucky. I put a bowl over the top to try and control the fir cones and keep them submerged! I left them for 48 hours.

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4. In my conservatory I laid them out to dry on kitchen towel. The conservatory is warm and bright and seemed like the best place to allow the for cones to dry thoroughly and gradually open back up ( this took a few days). If you’re loving the circular kitchen paper it was sent to me courtesy of Ora products.

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5. As you can see, the smaller fir cones and the acorn cups were the most successful. I will definitely be decorating some gifts soon with these. Just out of interest, surprisingly, they don’t smell of bleach!

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Summer Wrap

Summer Gift Wrapping

It may surprise you when I say Alexander McQueen inspired me!

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I was at the Hay on Wye literary festival when I spotted this book by him. I didn’t buy it but I couldn’t resist taking this photo which I needed as a prompt. See the way the bodice is ruched with flowers tucked in it ……….

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Pleat some plain paper, I had blank newsprint to hand so used that to experiment with. I didn’t get this wrap right first time, so you may be advised to have your first attempt with old paper.

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Fold paper around your box but have the edge on the top. Slightly and gently ease the pleats a little open.

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Tuck some artificial flowers in the gap and choose some ribbon to coordinate. My ribbon was actually bias binding.

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Here are two identical birthday presents I’ve wrapped for friends but as you can see, depending on how you trim it they can look quite different.

Are You Crafty?

Are you crafty?

In a small way, or a big way, if you are crafting you’re contributing to the UKs craft boom.

Figures by the Craft Council have shown that in, 2014, there were 11620 craft businesses in the UK with…….43000 employees! Wow!

How incredible.. With sites like Etsy and Folksy showcasing edgier crafts and no lavender bags in site, it would seem this is the way forward.

Previous generations may have been stopped in their tracks because for many it’s simply not viable to have a real shop. But nowadays, with a virtual shop, like Etsy or Folksy, the worlds your oyster. Quite literally!

Our world in general is increasingly virtual and perhaps people’s love of creating with their hands is a reaction to that. Maybe it’s natural to want to know the provenance of bought things. The Antiques Road Show have been banging on about provenance for donkeys years but now people have generally become concerned. Was this T shirt made in a sweat shop? Is my food locally sourced?

And now, with crafts, who made this, who created it, can we know something about the maker.

Just as this is all happening, the importance of making things could be threatened. Art is no longer being taught in many schools. The number of art/ craft related GCSEs being taken has fallen by 25 per cent in the last five years. The number of art related subjects in higher education fell by 46 per cent. Many of us are guilty of pressuring our children towards academic success, could this be why in later life they decide to turn to creative hobbies or part time opportunities?

Handmade is a joy and any of us are lucky enough to be able to embrace it. What better thn choosing to buy a lovely friend a gift that was hand made with love and thought.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all twee and nostalgic either, today’s crafts are edgy and boundary pushing. The more high streets are becoming identical the bigger the opportunity is for craftspeople and their individuality.

Here are some such people!

Oodlesofcraft.com

Littlesquish.co.uk

Fizzijaynemakes.com

Icyhandmade (on Etsy)

Funblueplaques.co.uk

Thelittlesoapkitchen.com

I interviewed the lovely Victoria from www.littlesquish.co.uk

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1. Victoria, what was your first career? Why did you leave?

My first career was as a primary school teacher. I always thought it’d be my only career! I’d wanted to be a teacher since I was 5.

I left once my maternity leave ended after the birth of my first daughter. I was told I was infertile, so that coupled with a difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth meant that I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could. I didn’t want someone else to raise her.

2. Tell me about your second career and why you made the switch and chose this business?

I never really made a conscious decision to start a new career, it just evolved over time. I taught myself to sew so that I could make my daughter some dresses. I had lots of lovely feedback and after a year or so (once my second daughter arrived) I decided to take the plunge and start off with a Facebook page. 

Since then I’ve written sewing tutorials for Love Sewing, taken on a couple of wholesalers and started screen-printing onto clothes too!

3. Were you art at school?

I would never have considered myself arty at school. I still don’t. I was always good at English, and was never encouraged by anyone to pursue creative things. My teachers always pushed me to get good results in more academic subjects and I never enjoyed art because I wasn’t “good” at it.

4. A lot of your clothing line is handmade, do you think that’s important to your customers? Do you employ any other people?

I think handmade is becoming increasingly important to a lot of people. People are beginning to think more about where their clothes come from and the ethics behind their production. I also think people increasingly want to buy things that have had some heart and soul put into them, things they can hand down through their families.

5. Are most of your sales made online or by face to face sales? Which platforms do you use to sell your work?

No, although my lovely husband does help me out sometimes where he can (he can’t sew!). It’s amazing when I stop to think about it: I source materials; come up with designs; produce garments; deal with advertising; take and edit my photos; keep my website updated; write blog posts; manage multiple social media accounts; sort out shipping and deal with customer service… It’s no wonder I’m so tired!

All of my sales have been online, I’ve never attended any craft markets as I’d never find the time to fit in the preparation around my family! I sell primarily through my own website, but also through Etsy and All By Mama. I recently had two online retailers place wholesale orders too, which was fantastic!

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Do you own a lot of shoes?

Do You Own Lots of Shoes?

In my case, the answer would have to be YES!

So when a conversation between myself (@GiftFrippery)  and @fizzijayne developed on Twitter about a new #craftblogclub challenge, shoes sprung to mind!

Goodness only knows why I get these crazy ideas but that night all the #craftblogclub members started tweeting about how to upcycle old shoes. In fact, because we have so many skills between us @fizzijayne decided to extend the summer challenge to upcycling something from your wardrobe.

I felt I must upcycle a shoe! Obviously!!!! So, I hunted under the bed and along the wardrobe floor but decided I like all my shoes too much, and therefore ended up at my local charity shop to buy some! The assistants in the shop were really helpful but quite bewildered when I told them that the shoe didn’t have to fit and the colour didn’t matter. In the end I had to explain my plan to them ! Eventually, we decided that this large sized, leather clog type of shoe might work.

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I made a pattern of the top of the shoe using paper before cutting this pretty summery fabric to fit.  I glue gunned it into position.

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Next I glue gunned some colourful buttons (from the Gift Frippery stash) down the front of the shoe.

The final part of this project was to line the shoe with a sandwich bag, filled with earth and plant it with succulents. I had an aloe Vera so used that. Obscure an plastic and earth with pebbles. These also help support the plant and VOILA!!!!!

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A very special thank you to the ladies at St Peters Hospice charity shop on North View, Bristol.

They are so cheerful and helpful and they decorate the shop beautifully.

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Make your own gift wrapping paper

This is as cheap as it comes as far as gift wrapping paper goes!

Cover your area with old newspaper or something as you lol be using water. The cheapest paper is usually blank newsprint paper or the sort you’re fishmonger or butcher might use!

Laying a sheet of this out, I gave it a ‘wash’ of water using a thick brush. Be quite gentle doing this or the water might tear.

Then using a medium size child’s paintbrush and poster paint (oh yes! I’m not to proud to steal from the children!) softly place the brush along the wet paper. As you can see I did mine in stripes which then run into each other. You may find the clean paper starts to dry out. If this happened put another wash of water on before adding more paint colours.

Because the paper is so cheap, you can afford to play around with colour combinations.

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Here are some dear little leaf shaped tags I made. (Read the tutorial here)

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At the same time I also made some hearts. I wrapped the gift and found some ombré ribbon from my stash which went perfectly. I made two loops around the gift and glue gunned it on the underside. I then embellished with an artificial orchid and the white heart shaped tag.

I was asked to wrap this gift ( chocolates) as a thank you to the staff of a care home. Hope they enjoyed them!

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Cut Stitch and blog my way to £1000??

 

Hillarys crafts competition.

Hilary’s invited me to do just that. They are a large fabric company so offered me a selection of fabric and I chose Safi Turquoise. It’s obviously a turquoise colour with a huge leafy pattern on it.
I was definitely inspired by my surroundings…. I took my fabric away for the weekend to the Pembrokeshire coast.

1st idea
I took a large empty tin, sat it on the fabric, and carefully pleated it up in position and glued in on the inside. Take care to get your pleats straight and also evenly spaced.then style it. I put summery bits and bobs in. Shells, a wooden seagull, pebbles etc.

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2nd idea

Windmills!

Take a square of cardboard, a large one in my case. Fold it diagonally, both ways and cut two thirds of the way down each diagonal towards the centre.

Glue your fabric to one side.

Then make the fold over to the centre with each fin of the windmill. You can glue this or use a paper pin. The next step is optional, but I covered a piece of card with the fabric to finish off the centre. I made a few of these and they’re great decoration for a summer party.

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Find out more here … http://www.hillarys.co.uk/inspiration/2015/05/hillarys-craft-competition-2015/

The Outlaw Craft Fair

I wore a microphone, like Madonna!

Yes, it’s true! We had a huge craft fair in Bristol last week. The Outlaw Craft Fair took over the Passenger Shed at Temple Meads. I was delighted to have been asked to give a gift wrapping demonstration and a couple of workshops.

The design and layout (all natural wood chairs and buckets of flowers) delighted me. The stands had lots of room, not crammed in, and the quality of the crafts was superb. There were workshops, a make and take theatre and the demo area which was complete with large screens so you could see the detail. A large cafe area had the best selection of cake in the world.

Even though I was working there, I felt like I’d had a lovely day out, learned some new things ( how to make a terrarium?) and eaten new things (Homity pie?).

The Outlaw Craft Fair will be back next year so why not join in?

I met with Twitter friends

@TheArtTroupe

@girlandbird

@zoehewettdesign

@19alexandraroad

So nice to put a face to a name

Amanda

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DIY Gift tags with air dry clay

Sometimes, with the best will in the world, there’s not time to put in that extra special effort required. There’s plenty of things life throws at you which get in the way! So , like other people might bake in batches and put some in the freezer to impress on another day…… I sometime create in batches so I then have a stash. So, heres how to make a stash of gift tags, to put that hand crafted touch to the simplest gift wrapping.

1. Gather the bits you need. Sharp knife, wooden cutting board, nonstick baking sheet, white air dry clay. Cut off a slice of clay and leave this rest in an air tight bag.

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2 Roll out the clay to roughly the thickness of a £1 coin. You can use a rolling pin or a glass bottle to do this. At this stage you can print into the clay. I had big ideas about printing into it with wool but my attempt was a bit of a craft fail. Perhaps I’d try again with some knitting done in a cotton yarn which might be firmer.

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3 I hadn’t imagined laying vintage lace on the clay and rolling over it would work as well as it did. I was thrilled with the result. It looked pretty on the heart shapes I made. I also tried printing with rubber stamps….this worked. And then I tried with some fir leaves from the garden , that was easy and successful. Yay!

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4 After printing, cut the required shape. I used cookie cutters for mine. I tried flower shapes but didn’t like them, they always seemed a bit hefty! Leaves and hearts were gorgeous! While the clay is still fresh make a hole where you want your ribbon to go later.

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5. Move your shapes carefully to your nonstick sheet, and dry over 48 hours, tuning each night and morning so they dry evenly. When completely dry you can gently sand the fuzzy edges.

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6. Thread with ribbon . I chose white. I now have a batch of hand made gift tags which will go with any colour wrapping I do.

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I tried two types of clay but my favourite was ,by far, Das.

Piñata Frill

This is fun for an Easter table runner.

You need about four layers of tissue paper, slightly different widths. The narrower widths on top. Cut straight down the centre lengthwise and move paper slightly, so as you gradually lay your Duck Tape along the length it sticks to each layer. Make the runner a suitable length for your Easter display or Easter dining table. Give the sides lots of tiny snips all the way down the length and include each layer. These should be fluffed up a bit!

 

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Quick Easter Table Centre

So, you’ve only got two seconds and you’re guests are arriving!

You like things looking pretty but you have no time!

Here’s a cute table centre. A few fluffy chicks running around miniature fairy eggcups (made from Duck Tape) with little chocolate eggs in.

No instructions necessary!

 

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Easter Wrapping with Duck Tape

So,  you’ve bought a few Easter eggs to sprinkle around but on Easter Sunday when the family are around you’d like it to look as though you’d gone the extra mile and put your creative head on!

1.Fair enough! I’m here to save the day. I’ve been playing with Duck Tape. More specifically, the Ducklings range. Preppy Plaid, Pink, Chrome, High Impact, MOD Dot, Green and Cool Cheetah.

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It was stickier than I ever thought possible! And my first thought had been to weave with it. A flash of inspiration made this possible. I’d recently been to my local pound shop and bought a few of those non- stick baking sheets and they worked like a dream.

2 I started by laying the chosen design (how very Missoni) side by side onto the baking sheet.

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3 Gradually, by pulling up every other strip I was able to sly a bright green strip across. Lay the strips back down and pull the others up etc. this would have been completely impossible without the baking sheet, such is the strength of Duck Tape.

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4 Eventually, with the weave completed, I lifted the whole taped area up and laid it on a sheet of paper.

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5 I rolled this into a cone shape and filled it with shredded paper and coloured Easter eggs. It’s a funky look and great for those who have really grown out of Easter eggs but still love them (18-99 year olds!)

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Not More Pom-poms!!

I decided I just had to make a few more pom-poms! I like a few ready to stick on to last minute gifts that I may not want to decorate with bows.

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The quickest and easiest method is to wrap wool around your hand. As you can see I used two different shades of lovely thick wool.

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Slip the wool carefully from your hand and knot it around the centre. Once secure, you can start snipping the loops at each side. Then even up the pompom if needed.

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Then get some crazy colours and start all over again!!!

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Bring Your Children’s Picture to Life!

Wouldn’t it be great I’d this actually could really come true? 

Of course it can’t but I’ve experimented with the next best thing.

1. I asked my friend to get her children drawing characters /people. So, Marnie (aged 4) and Fraser (aged 2) came up with these drawings. I instantly thought Marnies was very cute and Fraser’s was a challenge!

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2 I drew the basic shape onto a double layer of felt to give it some body and then planned the details. Because felt clings, it’s easy to position and reposition the individual eyes etc. it would have been easy to cut the buttons, on Marnie’s character perfectly but I didn’t, I really had to remind myself to keep as near as possible to what the had drawn.

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3. After the planning and positioning stage, you could either glue the pieces or sew the pieces on. I was experimenting when I did this ,so I glued. Plus, I had a deadline!!!! This was a #craftblogclub challenge to learn or try a new skill.

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When I posted the characters to the children I included their original drawings, so they could be reminded of them. This is what their Mum said about their reaction:

” They were so excited to receive their packages in the post. They couldn’t quite believe that their drawings had come to life. They both struggled to understand how it had happened!”

                      MAGIC!! 

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Petal Power & Mother’s Day

Summer  is on the way, as are birthdays and Mothers’ Day. So plenty of gorgeous wrapping to be getting on with! I’ve been experimenting with fabric flowers lately and they lend themselves well to embellishing gifts.

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I already had this beautiful, sheer fabric. It was one of those purchases where I had no clue what to do with it at first (2 years!) I ironed on some adhesive backing paper, bought from a local haberdashery shop. I went a bit mad and did loads but then spent a happy evening snipping them out, in front of the television. I store them in an envelope to keep them flat until ready for use.

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At a recent workshop, we all made cones shapes from wallpaper and embellished them with the flowers. What I liked about this was the ‘artistic license’ and they all turned  out slightly differently. Look!

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I also decorated a couple of presents,later, for my Mum. I think she’ll love them!

 

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What to make with leftover wallpaper.

It occurred to me that I may not be the only person in the world with bits of leftover wallpaper hoarded away. Maybe it’s a back up in case of an emergency fix in a newly decorated room, or perhaps it’s from your sample selection before you made your final choice.

I decided to dig out some of mine and craft a few things. I was also sent some from ‘Off The Wall’ (more of them later.)

You could also look back to previous blog posts’ DIY paper bags’ on this site or indeed the ‘Make and Do Envelopes with Gift Frippery’ on the Laura Ashley blog.

I made a zig zag book!

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I know a lot of other crafters who do these. It’s fairly obvious how to and very simple to do. Tou can choose how many pages you want to include and that will probably depend on what you’re going to use it for. They would be perfect for photographs, sketches, recipes etc. Don’t feel you have to have each cover matching either. As you can see I used two patterns from ‘Off the Wall.’ It’s a wallpaper boutique! Yes, (shriek!!) a BOUTIQUE! They only sell paper from independent UK designers and we love supporting those type of businesses ,right? They sell this paper BY THE METRE!! Yes, I know I’m shouting at you but I don’t want you to miss that bit, it’s really good for crafters and upcycling projects. I’ve certainly never heard of this before but it’s great if you love unusual ,good quality paper but don’t want a whole roll.

 

I made wallpaper bunting!

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I’m in a temporary kitchen as my Twitter followers know. I was thinking about my lighting options when my thoughts went off at a tangent. I drew some old style lampshades, cut them out and made them double sided. You’ll see lots of different brands of wallpaper in this mixture.

I made  Wallpaper Cones.

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Roll  some wallpaper into a cone shape and voila! you have a receptacle for a gift. I turned the top down to close it and sealed it with a fabric butterfly. This wallpaper is from ‘Off the Wall’ once again. They have such gorgeous subtle shades. Instructions for making a cone are in the video which I’ve made on the home page. Ideas for decorating cones are coming soon.

I’ve made teeny tiny  envelopes!

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Last, but not least, I made tiny envelope shapes but left the top piece flat. The other three corners fold into a central point. These three points should then have a hole punched in each of them. Thread some ribbon through them and tie in a bow and decorate with artificial flowers and leaves. Simple ,but perfect on a card or as a present topper.

Off The Wall have a challenge for crafters running through March and April. Follow them on Twitter (and me) and tag your teets with #OneMetreChallenge. The details are HERE

They call it a celebration of creativity…..so why not join in the fun?

 

Great Interior Design Show winner…. Martin Holland!

The Great Interior Design Show 2014

three interior designers are given a budget of £1000 to renovate rooms in one house. The winner of each heat progresses to the next round.

Martin Holland decided to test his abilities to the limit when he got involved with the show. He transformed everything from a fisherman’s cottage in Brixham, houseboats in Hampton Court, 1960s housing, tenements and……..a stately home!

i was thrilled when Martin, who is just as friendly and helpful as he appeared on the show, agreed to be interviewed. Enjoy reading it…..he’s special!

 

1. Tea or coffee?

Coffee every time. I struggle to function without that first cup of the day. Just a plain Americano always does the job for me.

2. Which week on the programme was the most difficult for you?

Hmmmmm that’s a tough one. The whole experience was such a rollercoaster of emotions. There were incredible highs and then times when I really struggled due to tiredness and trying to juggle my day job and life at home with doing the show whilst always wanting to do my best and push myself even further. I think for me, the most difficult and yet the most rewarding was the final at the Calendar House in Cumbria. I was exhausted by that point in the competition but having got that far I was so desperate to win I knew I had to pull out all the stops. I think that’s what kept me going!

3. What were your dreams as a child?

As a child I always dreamed of doing something creative like acting or being a designer. I loved being on stage throughout most of my school life and even considered going to a performing arts school but was always put off by the uncertainty of the industry. You really have to be the best of the best of the best to succeed in that world and make a name for yourself. I’m the sort of person who plans everything and goes for the safe option which offers security so doing the competition really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and that’s never a bad thing! I always want to be the best at whatever I do and give it my all which is something that’s followed me throughout my life and I think that came across on the show.

4. I think you’d enjoy the work of artists www. mcgilvarywhite.com . Do you keep a contact book of all your favourite/ most useful go-to people?

What fantastic artists! I particularly like the Lego self-portraits! I tend not to keep a contact book as such as I find social media, such as Twitter, a brilliant resource for making contact with people and keeping up to date with what they’re doing. I’ve met some fantastic people through Twitter. All of my key contacts are stored on my phone so there only ever a call, text or email away. 

5. Do you find it difficult to switch off? Is your brain constantly buzzing with ideas?

Life is so busy at the moment that I’m finding I have to really plan my time and schedule everything down to the last hour otherwise things start to get on top of me. I’m still doing a full time job whilst our new Interior Design business is taking off. And on top of that I also run a Scenery and Costume hire business with my partner Mark. We’re also about to move house which is no easy thing in itself so there’s lots happening! Finding time to unwind and relax is a MUST at the moment.

6. If I came to your house what would I find in your fridge?

I love to cook but surprisingly my fridge is often lacking in food. I tend to buy as I need so things are always fresh. However, there are two things that will always be found in my fridge. The first is cheese. We absolutely love cheese of any kind but I tend to save it for weekends as a treat. The other thing that can always be found in there is a bottle of gin, lemons and tonic water (another weekend treat, although they do occasionally slip into mid-week evenings!) 

7. Your tweet , after winning, said that your head hurt a bit but you were on top of the world and excited. How did you celebrate?

On the night of the final we organised a gathering at a local venue in Nottingham and had food and drinks whilst watching the show with friends, family and work colleagues. I was so nice to have everyone I love and care about there to share the experience with me. I didn’t particularly drink a lot that evening, until we got home and then we cracked open a bottle of champagne and sat on the sofa to take it all in!

8. What’s in store so far for 2015?

2015 has been incredibly busy so far! We’ve been inundated with interest on our website and have a host of potential clients wanting to work with us. It’s now a case of working through these, meeting each person and turning these into actual projects. We’re potentially working at a homes and gardens show in the spring which we’re both very excited about and we’re currently working with sofa.com offering design consultations to their customers which has proven to be very popular and great fun for us!

9. I believe you’ve recently moved. Are you redesigning the whole house?????

We’ve been packing our house up and moving things out for a while now but the big day isn’t for another couple of weeks. Our new home is, to quote Daniel Hopwood a ‘design disaster’. It’s a 1930’s style property but has an interior that’s a relic from the 1970’s. Cork tiled walls, swirly carpets and a 200ft garden that’s been covered from top to bottom in concrete slabs! So we’ve definitely got our work cut out but we’re both really looking forward to it!

10. You were such a pleasure to watch on GIDC, I Loved your work. Please share your links. Thank you!

It’s been such a brilliant experience. If people would like to follow us or get in contact then please do. We love to hear what people thought about the show and all of those interior design dilemmas out there!

www.martinmarkdesign.com

Twitter – @MartinMarkDsgn   

 

I’ve also included the link to our scenery and costume hire business for those that are interested.

 

www.glitterpantomimes.com

Make Your Own Butter

I have no kitchen at the moment. We’re knocking down walls, ceilings and taking up floors to make a wonderful new space. In time, it will perfect to hold small workshops in. I’m so excited! In the meantime, I can’t cook. I have created a temporary kitchen in a room which has a sink. All I have is a kettle, a slow cooker and a microwave. I didn’t appreciate the fact that some days I’m completely without electricity!

Its been a bit of an education as I hate microwaves. I’ve never spent anytime in the ready meal aisle of my supermarket. I really had no idea that you could buy rice ,in a pouch, that you can ‘ping’ for a few seconds and it’s done. Who knew? Certainly not me!

I imagine all this non-cooking is perhaps what brought butter making to mind. It’s so easy, you should try it!

As a gift (oh yes, there’s obviously a link to gift wrapping) it’s been incredibly well received. Probably more well received than the wine we’ve also taken to friends. Everyone is intrigued and wants to know how to do it, so I’m going to share the details with you.

 

1. Buy any tubs of double cream.Use a bowl that is MUCH bigger than the quantity of cream.

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2. I used a hand held electric whisk but some of you may have flashier appliances. Whisk until it becomes stiff.

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3. Continue whisking. Whilst it is in fact damp and creamy, it appears like dry scrambled egg! Suddenly ‘water’ starts splattering out of it. This is actually the whey/ buttermilk . I shielded the wall from the splattering with a clean tea towel.

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4. Tip the contents of the bowl onto a sieve lined in muslin. Most of the liquid will run out. Then rinse your butter under the cold water tap until the water runs clear and this means all the whey has rinsed off. By rinsing it means your butter will last up to a week instead of 24 hours. Gather the ends of the muslin together and squeeze…….more water will come out and the butter will form a lump.

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5.Hey presto! You have butter. Shape it however you like. I rolled mine into a sausage and cut thick slices. Each slice was wrapped very simply in grease proof paper and tied with bakers twine. I think it would also be lovely to tuck a piece of Rosemary under the twine.

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i have since been experimenting with flavours. Herbs, chilli etc. Once wrapped, this butter freezes reall well. So I popped it all in the freezer and just take it out to give people as and when.

i honestly urge you to give this a go. Everyone thinks it’s such an unusual gift and they really appreciate it.

What do you make? Have you got a very simple gift idea that has been very well received?

Lauren Laverne learns to gift wrap!

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I know it seems highly unlikely that Lauren Laverne and I would ever meet. But amazingly, that is exactly what happened before Christmas.

For those of you who don’t know her, here it is in a nutshell. She is a radio DJ, a television presenter, an author, a singer …..

Shes very beautiful, young, intelligent and has a lovely sense of humour. By this alone, she made both my sons think I was the coolest mum EVER! (For a short period of time)

American Express had commissionened a PR company,in London, to create short videos of the ten most interesting activities to do before Christmas. I was delighted they had asked me to be one of those activities. The videos were then pitched to a number of broadsheets. Friends told me they’ve since seen it in the Guardian and the Independent newspapers.

Number 1 son insisted on driving me to the appointed hotel and number 2 met us there to assist with bags (allegedly). Lauren gave them her time and chatted freely, she’s very natural and ordinary. The boys were quietly thrilled! Although it was winter time, the PR company had dressed the room to look like Christmas. It was a smallish room in a Dickensian hotel and we had a roaring fire. On top of this we had lots of lighting, a camera crew, the PR girls, Lauren and myself. It was BOILING in there!

At first I simply had packed what I’d been told to pack. Then the last minute information started getting emailed to me. No logos on anything etc, no branding on show. So, I repacked. Then I had 48 hours to mull it over. I packed what the PR people had requested and a lot of other stuff that I thought would look bright, colourful and fun on the footage. More than anything I wanted to tempt Lauren to be genuinely intrigued by something I’d brought along. I’m so glad I went with my instinct because that’s what we went with on the day too!

The crew filmed a relaxed chat between Lauren and I, whilst she was learning to make a felt bow. I say really natural, but we had been asked not to use the word ‘Christmas’ and we were having to pepper our conversation with all the alternatives, which of course is not quite so natural when Christmas is part of your culture and it did make me laugh a few times.

I feel really lucky to have had the experience and hopefully that won’t be the last one!

Watch The Video Here

 

 

#craftblogclub secret santa

Back in November 2014, at our usual Twitter meeting of #craftblogclub on a Tuesday evening, someone suggested doing a secret Santa gift as we had done the previous year. I’m sure we all signed up immediately! We are all creators and makers. Many of us don’t sell anything we just enjoy creating. I have to say the original ethos of #craftblogclub was not to advertise your business. It’s evolved into a really sociable, mature-minded, caring environment. I’m not able to ‘attend’ every week and some weeks are much quieter than others but it never matters. They’re a lovely bunch of ladies….. Yes so far, I believe, there’s no men.

So, I don’t really knit or sew or illustrate so I got to work hand printing some wrapping paper for the lovely @kay_o

I think she loved it ,her write up over on kaygetscrafty.wordpress.com. Is wonderful.

i was really delighted to receive my #secret Santa gift from @IcySedgewick. You can read about the details on her blog (Dec 30) www.icysedgwick.com I was really excited to receive a gift from her because I’m always seeing pictures of her knitting on Twitter. She’s one clever lady! I can’t knit, so to have someone knit me a gift was very special indeed. Those of you who know me will also see that the colours are amongst my favourites too.

When did I open it? I lasted all the way to Christmas Eve and then treated myself. Have I worn them yet? You betcha!,,,

 

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NEDay crafts chat with Gift Frippery

The lovely Vicky, from NEDay Crafts, was the friendliest and most supportive tweeter I came across when I started out on Twitter , about 18 months ago. So, it’s only right she should feature in my occasional interview series. Vicky has a wealth of experience to share and her great message is to encourage children away from computers and steer them into having fun with creativity instead. Essentially, Vicky and I are both Blue Peter style mums!

 

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1.Tea or coffee?

Both as it happens – I love to start and finish the day with a lovely mug of tea, but cant live without my coffee during the day

 

2.What do you like to do to relax at the end of a busy day?

A lovely relaxing bath, cuddles with my two children and maybe an odd glass of red wine

 

3.You use social media for your business. Which ones do you prefer?

I am huge Twitter and Pinterest fan – Both equally good for my business and fun too

 

4.Never work with children and animals we hear. Yet you and your lovely daughter do sometimes …tell us about it.

Haha yes – Although we never work with animals, we do work with lots of children. Ellie and myself love encouraging creativity through workshops and activities and the children love it so much.

 

5.If you work from home for a whole day how do you keep on track? Do you timetable yourself?

It has taken me several years to get into a proper routine – Lots of discipline is needed when working from home so that you are not drawn too much into social media conversations or emails. Working from home is so beneficial to my business so much prefer it to a “stuffy office space” but I do have to keep a strict timetable. I have a hand painted chalk board on my wall in my craft studio which has my work schedule listed and update it regularly to keep me on track

 

6.You used to work as a nurse. How do you think creativity would help in a hospital setting?

Creativity is really important in hospitals, although  the NHS cuts have affected this massively over recent years.  Two years ago I was asked to donate some craft supplies to Royal London Hospital as they loved my business , but didn’t have the budgets to buy them. I kindly donated a few crafty things for the childrens ward as I knew it was much needed for the hospital and they were so grateful for that.  Its such a shame that creative resources or needed, but many hospitals have not budgets to pay for them

 

7. You’re obviously a great fan of creativity in schools, but what about children in their own home.  It seems to me you miss out as a child if you’re parents don’t consider themselves creative.

I am a firm believer that being creative should happen at home as well as school. It doesn’t have to be messy or cost alot of money either. Simple paper making crafts , paper cutting and even colouring  pages  are great for children’s fingers and helps their dexterity

 

8.Marmite! Love it or hate it?

Yuck I really hate it  (sorry)

 

 9.What lovely project are you working on at the moment?

Well after a busy summer of activities and workshops, I am currently working on a few children craft designs for clients ,  as well as planning for new craft workshops (Halloween and of course Christmas) . I am already getting bookings for next year too, so things are pretty busy at the minute.

I have also just launched a creative children campaign so hoping to encourage more children to get creative both here in the UK and overseas

 

10.Share your  links (instagram website etc etc)

 

Website : www.nedaycrafts.com

Twitter :  @nedaycrafts

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/NEDay-Crafts-Events-Limited

Pinterest :   http://www.pinterest.com/nedaycrafts

Instagram : http://instagram.com/nedaycrafts

Rubbish at wrapping? WHSmith and Gift Frippery to the rescue!

Once upon a time, I’d still be wrapping on Christmas Eve, feeling stressed, with three children buzzing about . No matter how old my children became the still insisted they believed in Santa. My daughter is now 30 years old and still ‘believes’! This came about because many years ago I happened to say you only got Christmas stockings if you believed in Father Christmas!

So things had to change. One year I deliberately invited all our neighbours for drinks on Christmas Eve, 6-8pm.
This was such a good plan because I made sure everything was wrapped and ready, the house was clean and tidy and the mulled wine was in the slow cooker (oh YES! Slow cooker is perfect for mulling wine). When the neighbours went home I still had a considerable part of the evening to actually relax, watch a film etc. It worked so well we’ve done it ever since.

So, I can’t tell you how happy I was when WHSmith contacted me at the end of October. They’re really chuffed with their Christmas range and asked me to review it. The range is extensive and has coordinating ribbon and tags with which you can mix and match. I’ve picked out some of my favourites to work with and may well be tweeting other examples too. Follow me on Twitter @GiftFrippery so you don’t miss out!

I only ever review products occasionally, and I’m make sure they’re relevant to my business and therefore probably of interest to my readers. And here’s the thing……I only tell the truth! My pet hate is paper which isn’t strong, which you end up putting your fingers through as you wrap. (This did not happen…Yay!) Also, stick on shiny bows that aren’t sticky enough! (These are…Yay!)

So hopefully, between WHSmith and myself we’ll inspire you before the main event!

Noodle Box

1. I love the shape of noodle boxes so bought some new ones (on line) and decided to treat it splendidly! Carefully remove the handles and you’ll find the whole box unfolds.

2. Select some paper. I chose the mistletoe paper from the range. It needs to be large enough to fit the flattened box on to.

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3. Using a glue stick I stuck the outer side of the box to the wrong side of the paper and then carefully trimmed all the way around the box.

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4. Gently remake the box, encouraging the folds in all the original places. Replace the handles with care. I had to use a skewer to redo the holes. I also added some gold ribbons which match the paper. The beauty of the noodle box wrap is that you can make them in advance and then just stick down the lid at the time you put your gift inside.

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Tetrapacks (for want of a better word!)

1. The underside of all the WHSmith wrapping paper is helpfully marked with a grid. I don’t usually measure anything but this paper is perfect for the tetrapacks because you need a square.

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2. Fold two opposite sides of your square into the middle, overlapping them slightly. Glue stick them down. You should have created a flattened tube.

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3. Fold the end up. Snip off each side of the end so it’s angled inwards. Trim the inner layer and glue the outer end layer down. It should lay nice and flat on the main body of the tube.

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4. Now for the other end. Open your tube/bag the other way to create an interesting shape. I have no idea what this is mathematically speaking so I call it a tetrapack. Please leave a comment if you know. Remember to slip your gift inside at this point and then repeat step 3 with this end of the package.

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5. Once you have the hang of this…….it’s addictive! You can vary the size but should know that the very big ones don’t hold their shape quite as well, and this is more suitable for light weight gifts (such as money or vouchers) I picked out all the retro looking paper from the WHSmiths selection for these.

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Milly

 1. I called this wrap Milly because this is an actual gift for an actual little girl called Milly! The toy packaging  has a indentation on the front so to make it easier to wrap I simply laid a piece of card over the front which gives it some body and firmness.

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2.I went BRIGHT with my choice of paper and OVER THE TOP with the embellishments. I’m not keen on twirling ribbon in general but there is a time and a place. Children love it and it can look exciting. Trust me when I say it will never look exciting with two sad wisps that you’ve run your kitchen scissors down!!!!! Don’t do two…..do twenty-two! You need it to look abundant not sad.

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Jess’ Presents.

 

1.  This is called Jess’ presents  because they really are for a young lady called Jess! She apparently loves macaroons or at least she loves the colour of them! I couldn’t keep my hands off WHSmiths lovely natural range any longer. I wrapped the two boxes then chose the saddle-stitch ribbon because it’s perfect. Real ribbon whilst lovely can be a bit pricey so a good tip is to take it only one way around the parcel. I used the shiny Christmas tree paper to create a little fan. Just pleat the paper and the punch a hole through one end and securing it.

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2.  The other present for Jess is tied with the rather gorgeous paper raffia. I used natural and red raffia together. The bow was a revelation. Those who know me well, know I hate shop bought shiny bows. These were lovely and papery and matt. I really loved them and what’s more, they stuck well too.

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Crackers!

 

1.  I usually make my own crackers at Christmas. You could use the same technique to create a gift package though. Put three identical cardboard tubes end to end across the paper. (I know! I know! Yes they are loo rolls!) Only glue down the centre one as you will eventually remove the other two. I used some matt red plain paper I already had. (This is great for using up small pieces of paper.) Cut your paper to size and stick all along the length. Pop your gift into the centre cardboard tube. Edge the outer tubes out slightly, not all the way. Twist gently in the gap you’ve just created between the tubes.

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2.  I used the lovely cream ribbon (honestly, even the spools are lovely!)WHSmiths had sneaked a few embellishments into my selection pack and I loved these holly leaves. They are self adhesive (no seriously….VERY self adhesive) so using them is as easy as pie.

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3.  The result? Gorgeous! Don’t just think of crackers as crackers. They are great for small presents too.

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Awkward shape.

 

1.   If you have a really awkward shape a whoosh of cellophane is easy and looks splendid! I dressed this up in stunning spotty ribbon .

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2.   Take a moment to drool over the rest of the selection too.

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Hampers.

 

       1. A lovely crate (from gadsby.co.uk) was the base for my hamper. I put straw in the bottom of it to keep the gifts stable. This is actually a present for my Mum , who always says she doesn’t want anything! So I’ve got her lots of little treats but want to wrap them up individually so she has plenty to open.

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       2. She will adore this paper……such a gorgeous colour. So, wrap your presents but position them weight-wise (to keep a balance) and make sure if you’re using different papers they are mixed up.

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       3. Once full (actually, I couldn’t fit the honey in, don’t tell my Mum but I’m keeping it!)Tug at the straw to pull it up a bit between the gifts. This will protect them but look nice too.

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       4.Nothing like a swoosh of cellophane to catch the light and make someone feel special!

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Find out more using the links below!

http://www.whsmith.co.uk/offers/cards-gifts-and-party/christmas-wrapping-paper-multibuy-03×00132

http://blog.whsmith.co.uk/take-a-sneak-peek-at-our-luxury-christmas-wrapping-paper-looks/

 

Embroidery on hoops

1. Over the past few years when driving through France I’ve been aware that their huge electricity pylons which march across the land resemble either cats or dogs! Have you ever noticed it? You will do now. Each year I’ve tried to take a few photographs with varying degrees of success.

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2. As followers will know , my lovely bestie, Anne, and I always have a holiday project. So, this year we embroidered the pylons onto hoops. It was a bit of a wacky idea. I used 100 year old French linen sheets. Luckily I had the www.macgilvarywhite.com artists visiting this year so they kindly drew the images for me. Do visit their website and be ahead of the game…these artists WILL make it I’m sure.

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3. The actual stitching was simple enough, we just followed the lines, making long or short stitches where we saw fit. Although Anne and I probably were stitching and enjoying the local wine at the same time, all seems to have turned out well!

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4.I still need to trim them, but they will remain in their hoops. It seems an obvious frame. My plan is to hang them together in a large group on a wall in my little French village house (currently a renovation project) Follow me on pinterest or instagram to see what will probably be our slow progress!

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Perri Lewis chats with Gift Frippery!

Perri is a bit of a legend in my world. Her crafting and handmade love is a lifestyle choice rather than just a hobby. She’s written a book (on my Christmas list!) ‘Material World’. She’s a very busy bee though, a sometimes journalist, author, editor and currently creative director of Mastered. Mastered is an on-demand fashion education programme.

I’m feel very honoured to chat with Perri .

 

1 Tea or coffee?

Always tea. Usually peppermint. I don’t like coffee, which it lucky because everyone I know is always trying to drink less. 

 

2 You love everything creative, do you belong to a cool WI or any craft groups?

I don’t! I’ve never had enough time to do something like that. I was always too busy writing about the craft movement than actually enjoying it. 

 

3 ’The Modern Craft Bible’ was incredibly well received , do you have plans for other books?

Thank you! There’s no books planned just yet, but if I get the right idea I’d love to do another one. Especially a novel. I’ve never understood why people would rather write fiction than non-fiction – there’s so much awesome stuff going on in real life, why make it up? But as my job gets more stressful, I can certainly see the benefits of escaping in to a world you’ve created.

 

4 There seems to be far fewer male crafters than women. Why do you think this might be?

It’s such a traditionally female activity and the memories of that don’t go away easily. Fortunately there are some incredible male crafters using this to great effect, playing on stereotypes and tradition – think Mr X Stitch, Ben Venom etc etc.

5 Did you craft as a child? What was the first thing you remember making? (I knitted a lime green and coral pot holder for Brownies!!)

I did. I remember making a cross stitched thank you card from a kit my Nana had bought me. The next time I saw her she brought it back and showed me where I could improve it. I learnt a hell of a lot about making from both my Gran and my Nana.

 

6 You have rubbed shoulders or at least virtually with the good and the great of the art/ craft world. Who do you rate?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to do so! Being a journalists means you can invite people for coffee under the guise of wanting to interview them (even if really you’re just hoping they’ll be your friend). There are so many people doing amazing things, but I definitely rate Sian of Crafty Fox for creating a really great series of markets, as well as a series of talks to help the designers who sell at her fairs. I also admire the drive of Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It (she’s just opened a new space in Islington), the ideas of the Mollie Makes team and Sam Wingate’s ability to bridge the artist/designer-maker gap so well. 

 

7 Do you do your own crafting in front of the television? What kind of programmes do you like?

I do a little embroidery in front of the TV, but nothing too complicated as I get too distracted. I’m a sucker for US cop shows. NCIS, Law and Order, CSI – I love them all. 

 

8 Marmite! Love it or hate it?

Hate it. Except on Twiglets. I can handle it in that very minute form.

 

9You’ve recently been married. Congratulations! Did you actually make or craft anything for your own wedding?

Thank you! When we got engaged I’d just finished the book and I swore there was no way I’d make anything for the wedding. Fast forward 14 months and I was making origami cranes (we had about a 1000), paper flowers (we had hundreds), gold leaves and much, much more. It was a lot of effort, but totally worth it in the end.

 

10 Share your links (website etc)

There’s more about what I do in Real Life a perrilewis.co.uk. I (very occasionally) blog at MakeAndDoWithPerri.wordpress.com, I tweet at @perrilewis, and share pictures I love at Instagram.com/perriclarelewis and Pinterest.com/perrilewis

DIY paper bags

1 In order to make your own paper bags you can print the whole sheet of paper first or create the bag and then stamp your design onto it.

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2.I used the whole width of the roll of paper but if you want a smaller bag you can cut it down. Put the paper proper side down and fold the lengths of the edges towards the centre but the need to overlap slightly. Run glue stick down the centre back and secure the bottom likewise. Once glued, fold the base up and stick into position.

 

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3. I neatened the top with pinking shears just for added interest, The top can then be folded towards the front or back as you like. Once you have made the fold punch either one or two holes in it. You can then embellish it by threading ribbon through. Which bags do you like best?
I also really like them made with plain kraft paper.

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Sarah Moore talks to Gift Frippery

It was a huge honour that Sarah squeezed a moment into her busy schedule to have a chat. We’ve all seen her on the television and many of us have read her gorgeous books but I wanted to find out a little bit more about her. Sarah is the first of a mini series of interviews. Here we go!

 

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1 Tea or coffee?

One big bucket of organic coffee made with about a pint of frothy organic milk. Caroline Zoob beautiful large cup. Anything else and I get a bit stress!

2 You were crowned winner of  BBC2’s The Great Interior Design Challenge. In the challenges, you were pushed quite far from your vintage comfort zone. Were you surprised at your own ability?

I used to design kit and service equipment for a big London Event company. Lovely glossy stuff made out of perspex or spray painted sheets of metal. Big white banquettes topped with funky cushions. Hanging installations and galvanised ducting:  so floral and old fashioned was not always my style. What was really surprising was how much easier it was to do stuff when you didn’t have to run a house, look after three children, do the school pick ups and everything else that comes with running your own business. The whole process was really inspiring and it was great to dig deep and find out that i had ideas and solutions to cope with most things. 

3 What did you do when you first left school?

I trained as a chef and set up my own business in London, cooking for companies and in peoples homes. I then did ten very busy years running a big team of chefs cooking in London’s leading venues and big party places. Lots of fun, great team work. 16 hour shifts day after day and night after night. It really helped me when I was filming back to back for five weeks doing the GIDC. I was used to being on location, used to running a team and not tired out be a long days work. I didn’t really want to win, but I didn’t want to go home before the series ended filming.  

4 You’ve just moved house! I love every picture I’ve seen of your new place. Do you intend to hold more workshops now you have all that space?

Lots of potential projects: I just can’t decide what to do first: We have space for workshops and masterclasses. I love the idea of having a winter market with a stall in every stable. First priorities are making it safe and sound as it is a bit of a wreck and there are holes in the roof in a couple of places and it just needs about a weeks worth of dusting just to remove all of the cobwebs from the barns. 

5 Fabric is clearly a real favourite with you. What’s the story? When did this love affair with fabric start?

It has been such a gradual process and it stills comes as quite a surprise that I have quite so many folded up little pieces of floral fabric. My first purchase was a lot in the local auction where I grew up. I was about 20 and bought a country houses’s linen collection. We still use the tablecloths and sheets and i have cut up the doilies for projects and pieces over the years. The big blowsy floral stuff is like an addiction. I like lots of colour and lots of pattern and more always seems better. I am a third generation hoarder along with my late grandmother and uncle; We like the things we like and we like to have LOTS of them. 

 

6 Be honest! What does your table/ desk look like? Are you in the messy camp or the tidy camp?

Super tidy please: I can put off really working for a whole day or week if the studio needs to be tidy. Nothing pleases me more than pots of scissors, boxes of ready made stock and piles of very neatly colour matched fabric. 

7 Marmite! Love it or hate it?

Big love for marmite. The children ask for a normal amount of marmite so they don’t get a thick brown slick on their toast.

8 What’s is the first thing you ever remember sewing as a child?

I made my teddies some clothes and I had lots of binka that I used to make into bookmarks and tiny purses for presents for my family. They were not sophisticated and my mother still laughs at my self taught methods.

9 You’re a busy lady. What’s your favourite way to unwind at the end of a busy day? Mojito?

I love a cocktail, but rarely drink if i have a tomorrow that involves children, work or having to do anything. I have only two speeds: full on or asleep. I love a quick nap though, and often get sent to bed at the weekend for half an hour if i am looking like I won’t make it through the night if we are going out late. I still really love cooking so having friends over is a great way to unwind. And as I used to cook professionally i feel that there is no pressure to cook impressively. I can cook dinner for several thousand if I need to, but people tend to get the best Bolognese I can make or a really good chicken casserole unless it is a special occasion. I have a few TV programs that I really like too: Mad Men, salvage Hunters, Grand designs and a few others and one chilled beer end most days.

 

10 Please share your links (website etc)

www.sarahmoorehome.co.uk or you can find us on twitter @SMvintage or instagram sarahmoorevintage or Facebook at Sarah Moore Vintage.

Acorns! Autumn! Winter!

That title made it sound like I was keen for autumn/winter to arrive….let’s put that straight…I’M NOT!
I love spring when everything is bursting forth and I love summer, my favourite season. Usually I get quite depressed when autumn rears it’s head, but this year the leaves are turning colour as the United Kingdom is basking in temperatures of 25 degrees C and the skies are blue. So I’ve been out enjoying the sun , walking and collecting acorn cups but resisting conkers for the children to discover.

1. I collected some acorn cups in France this year and then more recently some in England. They do seem quite different….the French ones are smoother…what can I say??
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2. My favourites are the ones where there are a few on a tiny branch. They are very sweet. I found quite a few of these in Bristol after a night of high winds. I stripped the leaves off very carefully and left them spread out to dry on a sunny window sill.

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3. Using my glue gun, I stuck a very small amount of natural sheep’s wool to the inside of the acorn cup. You don’t need much at all. I used shades of red and orange. Then I needle-felted it in. This takes a while but is really, really simple. I watched a U tube video. Needle it gradually into an acorn shape.
I’m a COMPLETE beginner and if I can do this ….you can!

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4.I found this was a great sit-in-front-of-the-television activity to do. As fast as I’ve made them, I’ve been adorning gifts with them!
Collect them now and they’ll be ready for autumn/winter gifts.

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Christmas sssshhhh!

I know! I know! I apologise, but Gift Frippery HQ Christmas is arriving! There are articles for magazines being created and photographed. There are workshops being booked in lovely places like the botanic gardens and National Trust properties the ever faithful adult education service plus some new venues this year. One such place is Prema, a community arts establishment on the outskirts of Bristol. Have a browse at all the lovely things they’ve got on offer www.prema.org.uk

I’m also going to be offering a few dates for small workshops (4 people) at my  home.

A new idea I have brewing, is to offer pop-up crafternoons in work places, cafes etc. If you know of anyone who might be interested please let me know. It’s all about spreading the word.

On that note, There is the most wonderful magazine called Pretty Nostalgic. Everything about it and the people who run it is wholesome and  ethical. I was therefore thrilled when they asked me to contribute to their Christmas issue! Everything I will be doing is on their them of making do and not needing to buy everything new. If you’ve ever attended a Gift Frippery workshop you’ll already know that this is a bit of a running theme anyway.

And another new venture is working alongside Relish Events. Michaela attended one of my workshops in early summer and has now asked me to help with the decorative side of two event coming up pre Christmas! Without giving anything away I think I can say one is the Mary Howard sale at Hullavington  and the other is an evening event at Bristol Grammar School.

I LOVE doing what I do but it always great when new opportunities come along too.

What about you? How early do you start preparing for your own Christmas? I bet some of you have already got a few presents tucked away……

Coffee Filter Paper Flowers

I’d often heard /seen pictures of the finished article but had never tried to make flowers from coffee filter papers before. But hey, you know me! This is a quick and easy tutorial in how I did it…….there may be a better way, but this worked for me.

 

1. Take one filter paper (FP) and draw a floral, petal shape onto it. The petal, as you can see, doesn’t have to be a particular shape and feel free to experiment.

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2. Cut the shape out. Repeat a few times.

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3.Open up the FP and gradually roll it around the pointy end of a knitting needle, pleating it as you go. I secured it with Scotch tape.

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4.Mix up some dye. I used food colouring. You can water it down or mix colours together to get the desired shade. Be aware though most coffee filter papers are slightly brown when you start which alters the shade.

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5Dip your flower into the colour turning it carefully until the dye has travelled up to the top. Don’t worry if your flower gets a little squashed as it’ll look a bit more natural when it’s dried.

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6. I let my flowers drip dry. The best place to do this would be outside. Failing that, please make sure you use an old tray to protect the surface under them, as they dry.

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7. Tadaa!!! So pleased with the end result. Holding the base of the flower, gently and slowly ease the flower off the knitting needle. Scotch tape holds very securely.

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8. Once you start you won’t want to stop!!!!!

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Thinking Outside the Box

I kept seeing beautiful photos on Twitter from a company called @blossomsugarart. They were pictures of the most beautiful cakes, big show-off cakes! It became apparent that they didn’t make the cakes but supplied all the necessary equipment.

Now a quick aside before you start thinking I’m going to start a new business……don’t be ridiculous! Have you tried my cooking?

1.Blossom Sugar Art make ingenious little moulds for making the roses etc for the cakes. I asked them if they thought it might work with paper and they sent me some moulds to try my idea out. I was beyond excited about this experiment and I tell you folks, IT DOES WORK!

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2. I made a mixture of PVE glue and water.I cut up tissue paper so the pieces were larger than the mould itself. I always started with a dry piece of tissue then worked it into the mould with a small paintbrush dipped in the glue mix. I then added another piece, same again. When I’d done three layers I put a final piece of tissue on but didn’t work it with the brush. You want this top layer to be dry too.

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3 &4 Press the lid of the mould down slowly and carefully. Apply firmish pressure. Gently ease the mould out. I found if I was careful enough I could do this without waiting for it to dry fully. Leave it to dry completely and then trim around the flower shape.

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5. I was wrapping a present for my sister-in-law so I wrapped in brown paper and folded the final flap so it looked a bit like a clutch bag.

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6. Then, my favourite bit, all the embellishing! I used my glue gun to stick the flowers on.

 

So, thank you, Blossom Sugar Art for letting me try this idea out. The moulds are even packed to take on holiday in case of crafting time. They should really come with a warning……incredibly addictive!!

Gift wrapping with fabric

As you know I love paper. I REALLY love paper!

However, at my workshops, I’m often asked about wrapping with fabric. Sometimes I do wrap in fabric but I wrap with instinct rather than a system. I then embellish, of course. Around Christmas, gifts can look pretty amazing in a three-wise-men sort of way. Wrapped in fabric and adorned with ornaments.

Wrapping gifts in fabric probably started in Japan. The Japanese love the ceremony and the giving and receiving of gifts. For them, there are rules which apply for different items. So, the wrapping of money, for instance, would be different to the wrapping of a kimono or incense. The style of wrapping would vary according to the occasion as well. What is more, the relationship between giver and receiver and the season must all be taken into consideration.

They say, just as you would help a friend into their coat carefully so a gift should be wrapped tenderly. How lovely is that?

If all that sounds complicated there are companies nowadays who make wrapping in fabric a whole lot easier, for example Wrag Wrap, who are based in Devon.

They discovered that an astonishing 8000 tonnes of Christmas wrapping paper is thrown away each year. So they created a wrapping  system, which I was very interested to see. It can be used over and over again, and their fabric is modern and fresh. So if you don’t feel like sewing the edges on a mountain of fabrics this could be your answer…

1.Wrag Wrap’s Crackle Wrap works like paper and sounds like it too!

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2. The Stretch Wrap is very cleverly designed for odd and difficult shapes.

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3. There are also gift bags and bottle bags.

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Do look on their website www.wragwrap.com to read about Festi-Wraps. I love the idea of these as they have been re-purposed from discarded tents left behind after the summer 2013 music festivals of Glastonbury and Latitude……..how cool is that?

Cellophane or True cellophane?

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I use cellophane. By the mile!

It features in every workshop I teach, every demonstration I give and it is a wonderfully flexible wrapping material. It twinkles, catches the light and looks pretty……..what’s not to love?

A few years ago I was asked to deliver an eco-friendly gift wrapping workshop. I already use brown kraft paper and recyclable brown boxes so I started researching cellophane. It comes from the word ‘cellulose’ which is from plants and therefore organic and eco-friendly I hoped. Of course ,nothing so pretty is as simple as that! I found the information rather confusing and, in the end, just avoided using it altogether in that workshop.

Recently, I started thinking about it again and continued my research. I feel the eco message is growing (Bristol is hot on it!) especially in the craft world.

Here’s what I learned.

It seems the majority of ordinary cellophane (BOPP)comes in huge quantities from China, USA, Turkey and Italy. It has a low manufacturing cost and is essentially a plastic. It is actually biodegradable when exposed to heat or UV radiation from sunlight, eventually.

Now, let me introduce you to the new cello on the block!! TRUE cellophane (cellulose/ natural) is made from wood pulp and cotton. It’s 100% biodegradable and is more eco-friendly. Frankly, this is what I feel I should be striving to use.

I’ve been speaking with an incredibly helpful company called ‘Film Products Ltd.’ (No, not in the Brad Pitt way!!) I’ve been checking the prices and ,yes, it is a bit more expensive but all their woodpulp is from the UK. They have a great environmental policy statement which really reassures you they are a company with ‘heart’.

So, is there any difference when I use it in wrapping? I put it to the test.

1. The texture is a dream. It feels very slightly thicker which I love.

2.The colours seem to have a depth to them.

3.It’s breathable, which would be good if I was wrapping  eg.  plants.

4.It has an amazing ability to fold. When you fold ordinary BOPP cellophane it springs apart. When you fold true cellophane it has a dead fold characteristic. This also makes for neater wrapping.

5.It has to be said that BOPP cello has  more (plasticky) shine and true cello has what I would call subtle gloss.

Can I just say this?

If BOPP is lemonade then true cellophane is champagne!

I want to thank Film Products Ltd because without them I wouldn’t have understood the difference. They’ve been very patient with all my questions. They have a sister company called Orchid Krafts which I’m now interested in because of the brown kraft paper but that might be a whole new post.

 

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Have you missed me?

Blog experts say that you should never apologise on your blog…..but I’m going to ignore their advice and do it anyway!

As you know already I was helping my daughter in Australia while her first baby , Milly , was born. What a treat that was. I arrived home and earlier this week my mother had a stroke and was rushed into hospital. Whilst we’re concerned for her she seems to be progressing well but I’ve had to juggle visiting her and caring for my stepdad (91), and of course, running my own home.

You’ll therefore forgive me when I say blogging has had to take a back seat…and yet I have so many exciting projects to share. I’ve also been sent some lovely crafty things to review. Obviously it will all take time and will gradually unroll as time permits.

Bear with me, it will be worth the wait!!!

Message from Australia Part2

I just googled which day Julie Andrews was born and it’s October 1st 1935………..AND IT’S A TUESDAY!!!!!! We’re all Tuesday girls!

Message from Australia

I’ve been in Perth, Australia, for 6 weeks. Not a holiday as such….I’ve been playing Mary Poppins in my daughter’s life! She has just had her first baby, Milly Rose. So I had a supportive ‘job’ to do. I am being called ‘Poppins’ instead of Granny, so I had to live up to my name.

I swept in (Poppins always sweeps in I feel) to their lives, supporting them, attending the birth (what an honour), cooking, cleaning, shopping, sewing and the best part….entertaining Milly. Babies don’t just sleep and feed, they need bobbing. I’ve always been an expert bobber of babies. Perhaps I should have been called Bobbins! No, that wouldn’t do because my skills are far more diverse as children get older.

For example I can make Play dough, so instead of a measly little pot you can have a mountain. I can tap dance, which is amazing entertainment at tea time (especially if you don’t love the food). I’m word perfect in all the songs from Mary Poppins (goes without saying really).When I make sandwiches for children I do them in fun shapes. And the list goes on…….

Now, I don’t remember Mary Poppins doing sewing but I did plenty…made frilly curtains, cot covers, highchair cushions, play mats etc. I do enjoy making things as long as they’re fun and I don’t have to follow a pattern. Some of the smaller crafts may even appear on this blog at some point.

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Thursday’s child has far to go

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child works hard for a living

But the child that is born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Do you remember that rhyme, and which one are you? Is it true?

I was born on a Tuesday, so was my daughter Hayley, and so was Milly. Now I’m wondering if Julie Andrews was too, might have to google it!

Swatch Buddies

My most useful new craft tool. Let’s hear it for……..Swatch Buddies!

 

1.       I’m having a new kitchen fitted this summer. My existing one is now 17 years old and fading  fast. When I say fading….I  mean falling apart. When the swanky new kitchen is installed I won’t be able to leave all my crafting bits and bobs lying around. I will , however, just need a few bits to hand. I decided to upcycle this old Lloyd Loom baby basket my mum used 50 years ago for my brother! Where it used to contain cotton wool, cream, talc etc it will be featuring sticky tape, glue, ribbons and scissors in it’s new life.

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2.       I used some lovely French blue chalk style emulsion paint from Craig and Rose at B&Q to paint the outside, two coats. When it had dried for 24 hours, I rubbed Annie Sloan soft wax into all the painted areas.  I didn’t want to paint the inside, I wanted to use some sort of paper.

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3.       Off I went to the shops armed with my Swatch Buddies so I could match paint to paper etc. The girls serving me in Hobbycraft LOVED them!

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4.       I cut my chosen paper , from Hobbycraft, to fit the base and lids and glued it with PVA. When it was dry I also used a watered down PVA as a seal on the paper. I then set about gently buffing the waxed outside which results in a soft sheen.

 

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Swatch Buddies are reusable plastic pieces that fan out. They arrive with stickers on which you can stick material, paper etc. They are small and neat to pop in your bag when shopping. I can see a million applications for Swatch Buddies for anyone who loves crafts, arts, sewing, interiors etc. When I’m using them for gift wrapping purchases there’s plenty of space for ribbons too! I love the fact that you can remove the traces of past projects when you’re  finished.

These Swatch Buddies haven’t hit the shops yet, you heard about them here first!!

Hantex will soon have the list of stockists on the website   www.hantex.co.uk

Gift Frippery Filming…Continued

Filming Gift Frippery

 

I promised to share a clip of the filming with you so here it is. If you remember, in an earlier post ,I explained that two students from  the University of the West of England were in their final year of a journalism degree. They asked if they could film Gift Frippery as part of a final project.

Here’s the link: Click Here To Watch

I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

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Emma from Frugally Peachy nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Obviously it was a  wonderful surprise and I’m feeling chuffed! I always aim to inspire others to have a little go at a crafty  project . As regular readers know it could be gift wrapping but I dabble in lots of other crafts too.

So here are the rules.

1.       You thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

2.       Nominate other bloggers and let them know. Provide a link in your post.

3.       Write 7 facts about yourself.

4.       Display the Very Inspiring Blog Badge on your blog AND on this post.

So, let’s  get started on the facts!

1.I was born in Hong Kong

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2.When I arrived at college to study art, I switched and studied Contemporary Dance for three years. I actually have a pair of Darcy Bussell’s ballet shoes, framed and on the wall.

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3.I read A LOT. My favourite  authors are Amy Tan and Lisa See. I’m always drawn to their books because of their frequent connection to China.

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4.Every time I see something good at the theatre I come away wishing I’d been in it!

5.I’ve lived in and visited lots of countries but still in pride of place ,at the top of my wish list ,is India.

6.I would love to be a television presenter. I have had one programme made about me and my crafting and for a couple of years I did a weekly guest spot on the local radio station. I really loved it!

7.I absolutely can’t bear snakes and worms and THAT is why I will not eat spaghetti!

 And now for the really important bit…..a few bloggers who I nominate:

Icy from icysedgewick.com

Vicky from nedaycrafts.com

Jo from slummysinglemummy.com

Faye from fayedicker.com

Katie from katiegetscrafty.com

Do try reading their blogs. They aren’t all crafts……you’ve got an interesting selection there. Enjoy!

Ski Trip To Meribel

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Mistletoe, mistletoe, nothing but mistletoe all through the journey to the Alps. The French always seem to kiss a lot…saying hello…saying goodbye…any excuse really it might seem. Clearly, they are natural kissers and don’t require mistletoe to encourage it!

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As we arrived snow was falling ,all around us…..just like in the song! It carried on snowing all day , all night and all the next day, resulting in fresh perfect snow. The rest of the week featured blue skies and sunshine.

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Before we left Bristol, I’d been reading about pine tea. As those of you who regularly read this blog know, I love foraging. So I went off on a beautiful walk and picked three different types of pine. I made three different teas and sampled them. I definitely preferred it with a tiny bit of honey added and the fine needled pine tasted better in my opinion. if I’m really really honest though, I probably won’t make it again! I might experiment with an invigorating pine bath/ shower though. Watch this space.

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The next day I hired my skis. It was established a long time ago that I really don’t  ‘do’ height or speed. So downhill skiing is no longer a sensible option. I do cross country or ,as they say in France, ski du fond. The skis are about half the width or normal skis and you ski in narrow tracks which are machine-made. In Austria, where I first learned to cross country ski ,they are really hot on the etiquette. In France ,in general, I’ve found people quite unfussy about small children rolling around and skipping about ON THE TRACKS. And don’t get me started on dogs. They run around the tracks whenever they please. This does make it difficult for the skiers, because the compacted snow collapses and the track no longer exists. On the plus side, it’s a full body workout like no other, and the route will usually take you through woodland and into areas with stunning views. I highly recommend it!

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It became so sunny and warm by the end of our week that icicles were dropping from the roof into the snow.

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I’m sure you’re wondering if I did any crafting? Of course I did.  (Some I can’t reveal yet.) I took my new  pompom makers with me and perfected the art.

 

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Easter Cake Box

1.       People are always asking me where I get my inspiration from. In this instance I was waiting to pay at the supermarket checkout! My eyes happened upon a picture of a chocolate cake! When I got back home ,this is what happened next…….

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2.       I used an old Turkish Delight box, left over from Christmas. You could paint it, but I just covered it in dark cardboard to cover the writing.

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3.       Wielding my glue gun, I began ruching /gluing with brown ribbon around the outer edge of the lid. As I worked my way to the centre, I tried looping the ribbon more randomly which gave the inner section a bit more height. (if I were to do this project again ,I would use a mixture of sheer and satin ribbon on the top)

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4.       Around the side of the lower box, I put brown ribbon and overlayed it with a lighter one. Luckily, I happened to have some which had  ‘chocolat’ printed on it, which was perfect.

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5.       I filled the box with wood shavings and popped foil covered eggs in it.

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6.       Voila! Here’s the finished gift for my Mum at Easter. Ironically it was my Mum who gave me the empty box in the first place saying ‘ I’m sure you’ll think of something to do with this’. Wonder if she’ll recognise it! You could use camembert boxes etc

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Easter Nest

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1. I used one of my many small Chinese bowls as my mould for this project, covering it in cling wrap before I started. This protects the bowl and makes it easier to remove.

2. Using slightly watered down PVA glue, I started the distinctly messy attempt of putting MDF shavings onto the bowl and left it overnight to dry.

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3. I gradually built up the layers. It’s wise to raise the bowl up so that it doesn’t stick to the newspaper.

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4. When it’s feeling pretty dry to the touch, gently remove the bowl. Mine took a bit of encouragement! Leave cling and wrap in place for a bit longer though until the bowl has almost dried out on the inside.

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5. Finally, I removed all the cling wrap and popped a mini doily in the nest , trailing a few pieces of vintage style lace in it and filled it up with foil covered mini chocolate eggs. I’m spending Easter weekend with my best friend ,Anne, and thought this would be a sweet surprise for her on Easter Sunday. You might be wondering where to get MDF shavings. I was actually having new wardrobes built and rescued some before the carpenter cleared up. This might be an expensive way to get MDF shavings so you could use shredded paper or card instead.

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A natural looking gift wrapping.

A. I needed to wrap a gift for a friend. Because it came boxed makes the wrapping easy but therefore, it’s all the more reason to go to town!

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B.I wrapped the box in some gorgeous handmade paper I picked up in Kyoto. I trimmed it in personalised ribbon from The Little Soap Kitchen. They are such a helpful company and their ribbon is lovely quality (and you know I’m quite fussy about my ribbon!).

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C.I positioned a piece of driftwood. It was a lovely shape and had been worn smooth by the waves and bleached by the sun…..and collected by me, in a cove in Pembrokeshire.

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D. My friends at Blooming Felt had inspired this gift wrapping by sending me these felt pebbles. They are in gorgeous shades and really tactile. I wanted to create a natural and organic look…….and here it is.

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Filming Gift Frippery!

Well, it had to happen (only joking of course) but I was needed for filming!

At one of my Christmas workshops I met a lovely young lady called Claire. She had caught two buses across town in order to get to the workshop on spectacularly cold and wintry day.
Claire is in her final year at the University of the West of England, studying Journalism.
Recently she asked me if a Gift Frippery workshop could feature in her final project. Claire and her friend Rachel have joined forces to produce a ‘news story’. In this instance with an angle towards half term and Easter activities. They will cover TV and online. The different activities may cater for children or adults, might be new hobbies or courses etc.
I’m part of their TV section. They’re presenting three activities , one is Gift Frippery, because it’s different and can be done in any weather. It’s also good for lots of ages and is very visual and therefore should make for interesting TV.

I hope our afternoon filming has given the girls plenty to edit and work on. We did two wraps, one was vintage looking and the other had a spring theme.
Just wanted to share this with you first and of course, watch out for the little film when I get it, it will go straight on the blog.

Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition.

Yes, Hillarys Blinds are all about fabric and usually I may not have been tempted as there are a million and one people out there all better than me at sewing! However, the small print said craft. I saw this as my calling!
I was immediately intrigued that you are only given 100 x100 cm of fabric. So the limited quantity made the challenge better in a way. I had no idea what I might do but I had to get my fabric sent . I chose from one of four designs from the Country Retreat range of fabric, eventually settling on Calluna. Calluna features abstract brushstrokes which capture the abstract texture of moorland heather.
I now had some words drifting about in my subconscious….nature, flowers, country, informal, retreat, craft, and fabric. It’s only now I come to blogging my story with Calluna that I realise all these initial words and thoughts came together in what I created….interesting!

100 x 100cm is not much fabric. Certainly not enough to transform a room with curtains or cover a chair etc. I decided to create some smaller touches which could liven up a room or give it a breath of fresh air. This is what most of us need , most of the time. I squeezed FOUR little projects from my piece of fabric and they are all in keeping with the words that came to me in the beginning.

Leaves on Twigs.
I’m lucky enough to have a big twisted hazel shrub in my garden. I decided to take a pretty big piece of it and position in my room. The next step was to use fresh leaves as templates and cut them out of my Calluna fabric. I sprayed them (in a plastic tray) with fabric stiffener. Mine was called ‘Stiffen Stuff’. Such is the quality of the fabric it took a fair bit to soak them. Make sure with thick fabric you do both sides. I then draped them over a wooden spoon handle to suggest the natural shaping of leaves. I did this in the evening, a few leaves at a time and in the morning they’d be dry.

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When I’d prepared enough leaves I glue gunned a piece of wire to the back of the leaf leaving a stem. I used normal green paper covered garden wire.

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The final step was to wire the Calluna leaves to the twisted hazel…

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Mirror
My next thought was originally a large photo frame but when I was searching in the attic I cam across this rather lovely old oval mirror. I painted it with whatever I had to hand….in this instance it was Inka Gold purple metal paint. The mirror isn’t metal but the paint still worked. I chose purple because I didn’t particularly want the frame to show, I wanted it to blend in with the fabric.

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I cut four 100cm long strips of my fabric making sure they were just slightly wider than the mirror’s frame.. I sewed the fabric together so I had one very long strip and then I frayed the edges. This softens the look and keeps it natural.
I gathered the fabric by doing running stitch all down one side. I gathered it enough to fir the mirror and started glue gunning it into position. I finished off with some tiny vintage style flowers. These came on a stem and I deconstructed it (pulled it apart!!!)

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Stool
My first thought was to make a cushion but I thought a three legged stool would fit in better with my relaxed country theme. There’s only one stool in the house…so I found it! Now, what ever made me think of it I’ll never know but I thought a shower cap might fit it (it did!) and therefore I could use the shower cap as a pattern. It was practically perfect but I extended the circle of fabric to allow for a deeper frill.
My sewing machine chose to jam at this point so I managed by hand. I pinned and sewed a circle of tape into which I would thread the elastic.

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I left the edge of the frill raw and slightly frayed to match the mirror. I then got inspired by an unexpected surge of warmth and afternoon sunshine and took my final photograph outdoors.

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Pots!
Oh yes! Not one to be beaten, I had an annoyingly small and awkwardly shaped piece of fabric left. It stared at me from my kitchen table for two full days. In the end, I felt a bit sorry for it so tried a little experiment. As far as you’re concerned it’s going to be a bit like Marmite….love it or hate it!
I found three small objects, a small glass, a Chinese bowl, and a cylindrical plastic container for herbs. I used the last of my fabric stiffener to soak the fabric, secured the pleating with elastic bands and left them to dry. I put them upside down on empty wine bottles because I didn’t want the points of fabric to droop.

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The following day I was able to embellish them with three different shades of vintage velvet ribbon and tiny leaves and flowers. When I see them in a little group of three I really rather love them!

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So, in conclusion, did I have a plan, did I have a clue what I was doing ???? No, not really until I got going. I let the ideas evolve slowly. I’d like to think I might have inspired the true crafters among you to play with fabric more, rather than be stifled with set patterns to follow. I think the fact you’re not an expert in something can make you more creative.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone at Hillarys Blinds. It felt quite daring to go in for a competition and then blog about it because now you’ll all know how well I do /don’t do!!! But, I’ll tell you something, I’ve REALLY enjoyed the experience.
Fingers crossed!

Find Out More about the competition here!!

#post circle

Aaagh!!! I told you all about this recently and today guess what dropped through my door! Yes exactly, now I’m feeling the pressure, I MUST get myself organised and send something off!

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Gift Frippery interview with Freelance Bristol Mum

I’m feeling pretty important because I’ve been interviewed by the lovely Faye Dicker of Bristol Freelance Mum for one of her podcasts.
Faye and I met at Women outside the Box Business Club, where we are both members. It was one of those lucky meetings where we happened to choose seats next to each other.
Faye spent many years with BBC Radio before she branched out on her own. I used to be a part time radio presenter for Star radio in Bristol, so I was more than up for the challenge! Initially, we planned to record the podcast after our networking meeting, then thought, weather permitting we’d amble around St. Nicholas market with all the sights, sounds and smells (lunch!)
I knew there were haberdashery and ribbon shops there…..and, let’s face it, that’s all I need.
Faye is a brilliant interviewer. I just felt like I was having a chat with a friend. I think the end result reflects this. You can go to my Press page and listen to the podcast. I would love you to leave your comments when you’ve listened.

 
Listen To The Podcast Here

Making a toy box

1. WBC are a company who specialise in Gift and Hamper packaging. They have an amazing selection over at wbc.co.uk

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2.They sent me two hampers. The larger of the two I decided to transform into a toy box. I was trying to think of something out of the ordinary because they are often used for food or toiletries.

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3. I had some gorgeous fabric by Zoffany already in my stash. It features vintage style alphabet pictures and is called ‘Battledoor’. I chose trimming that I felt would blend and lift the colours in the fabric.

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4. First step was to cover the leather look straps with grosgrain deep red ribbon, carefully avoiding the Velcro closings. I then topped it with yellow ric rac securing a bell at one end.

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5.As I stuck the ric rac on I left enough room for the bell to hang freely ,so it would tinkle each time the toy box would open. The yellow bells I had were huge ones but you would of course have to make sure the child was a suitable age. An alternative would be a pompom.

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6.I sewed a bag to go into the box and line it. It fitted loosely and I glued it at the top just below the brown edge of the hamper. I put a little pouch of the fabric, featuring Punch ,the jester, to brighten things up and give a clue to what might be inside. Punch also features bells which links to the fastenings on the box.

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Here’s the toy box in all it’s glory! Full of lovely colourful toys. It has huge appeal, even for adults, as it’s practical, fun and tasteful!

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#PostCircle

I recently heard about #PostCircle on Twitter. I was intrigued enough to want to find out a bit more. It has been set up by Anna, http://miss-beatrix.blogspot.co.uk/p/post-circle.html
It is basically a group of people who value snail mail in these fast and furious times. Let’s face it, it’s rare to get a lovely handwritten note or letter these days. So this is for people who love to send and receive lovely post…..just because!
You are placed randomly into a group of around six people. These people might have similar interests but not necessarily and they could be all different ages . The idea is every time you receive post you send out some post. This keeps the whole project moving. You can post to whoever you want within your own group.
Your post can be pretty much anything eg. a full blown letter, some crafty bits, a post card, a photograph, a cuddly toy. The thought is in the giving not the cost.
So, I’ve just been given my group, so am quite excited. First things first though, what shall I send in the post???????
I would love you all to make some suggestions please.

Wrap a box with Blooming Felt!

1.Blooming Felt are a fun company. I discovered them on Twitter and now know they should be one of your first stops for all wool felt and craft supplies ,as well as ribbons and buttons.They sent me all sorts of things to play with but this first project is done with one huge button!

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2.They sent this oversized lime green button and I decided to use it to trim a gift.

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I wrapped the box in some lilac photo copy paper I had and secured it with some silk pleated grape coloured ribbon. I threaded it through the button before tying it in a knot. The ribbon is wide and it wasn’t necessary to tie a bow.

3. Tadaaaa!!!! So simple yet so effective!

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Hampers

Hampers usually look really appealing. I packed 12 myself for a company before Christmas. They were food hampers and the biggest challenge was sitting the products in snugly but making them balance. You can’t have all the heavy stuff on one side, for example. It is relatively easy to make them look terrific, though at Christmas.
And that’s my point! Everybody associates hampers with Christmas. Just like they associate hampers with food and more occasionally, toiletries.
Why? Who knows! To be honest I wouldn’t have thought to explore this theme further if the lovely Bobby from WBC hadn’t sent two, to me. Their website is a dream of all things to do with packaging and well worth a browse, wbc.co.uk

1.The cleverest thing about these hampers is they fold flat. Completely! Which means if you decide to bulk buy or stock them they don’t take up much space, like a traditional hamper would. I wanted to decorate them So, the first one I did had a ballet theme. Here we go!

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2.I put some pink (of course) netting inside. Not too neatly ….so there was plenty of gathers and enough length to spill right over and down the front and sides, like a skirt. I glued it in place at the top, inside edge.

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3.I pleated a length of plain white ribbon and stitched it .This was glued on the brown faux leather straps on the top of the hamper.

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4. Check the length of the ‘ skirt’ of netting and trim where needed. I then wrapped 4 lengths of narrow white ribbon around the entire hamper, over the skirt, and finished with a bow at the front.

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5. Where the pleated ribbon finished ,I glued a butterflies to the straps of the hamper as a finishing touch.

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6. Now all I needed was a ballerina!
All ballerinas have a treasure trove of goodies to store and Nia is no exception. She is 9 years old but has been dancing since she was three. She instantly likes the netting and the butterflies, then takes great delight in arranging all her things inside the hamper.
When I tell Nia she can keep the hamper she goes off with a hop, skip and a pirouette!!!

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Gift wrap with love xxxxxx

A very sweet and simple idea.

I created a pouch/envelope by folding some white  A4 paper . It would be great for popping a voucher in.

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I cut out two red hearts and a length of red twisted paper twine.

Using a glue gun I stuck one end of the twine under a heart.

Next I stuck the hearts in position but was careful only to put a spot of glue in the centre of the heart and not near the edges.

The twine can then be wound around the hearts to seal your envelope (with love!!!)

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Print your own Valentine wrapping paper

Sometimes it’s nice to add a touch of creativity to your gifts. This is a very cheap and cheerful way to do so!

Take a cork and draw a heart onto the smooth end.

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Carefully cut away any of the cork which is not the heart motif, so it stands proud.

Mix some paint up and start printing.

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Cork is a natural material so your hearts will not all be the same and will not be perfect. Do not, therefore, try to make anything other than a random pattern as this will lend to it’s charm.

Guest blog for NEDay Crafts.com

I was delighted to be asked to do this guest blog for Vicky at NEDay Crafts. A lovely lady, who actually waited about 6 weeks until I was free to do it because we originally discussed in that run up to Christmas when I’m very busy.
If you’d like to read the article and ‘how to’ hop straight over to her amazing site.
http://nedaycrafts.com/gift-wrapping-tastic-time

Procrastination

I am guilty of this, as many of you will be.
If I have a big project and a deadline, It would be done the day before the deadline not the month or week before. That’s not to say there was no thought going on, or ideas evolving in my mind.
I’m not a LAZY person, far from it. However, I do think if your business is a creative one, you need time for ideas to come to fruition and you need to feed your creative brain. That might take place on a walk (nature is great for this) or an art gallery, or meeting a fellow freelancer to bounce ideas around. People approach work in a different way.
I can have a big project looming and still be on Twitter! BUT that’s not particularly social for me, it’s more gentle networking. I reckon that’s true for most of the Twitterati.
Once all my ideas/methods are gathered, I can really concentrate and knock out the projects. Yesterday, three projects got finished and sent. It’s because I had a self imposed deadline. I had my son with a couple of free hours to take my photographs….so I had to be ready…..and I was!
Now, off to meet friends for lunch. #feedingmycreativebrainliterally!

Ribbon Roses

If you are wrapping a Valentine or Mother’s Day gift try embellishing with some of these roses.

You need about 50 cm of wired ribbon in your chosen colour.

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Thread A bead onto a length of wire (I used paper covered wire. This will become your stem.

Start carefully gathering the ribbon into the centre of it’s wire, working along one side only.

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Starting at one end start wrapping your gathered ribbon around the bead. Keep going until you have formed a rose of your liking. The final length of wire gets wrapped around the stem.\

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Embellish yourgift.

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UK Industrial Tapes Ltd /Stix 2 Anything

A goody bag and a half arrived for me to review today!
As well as some dinky cellophane bags and gorgeous satin ribbon which I’ll obviously be using soon, Stix2 Anything sent me some really interesting products.
The mini craft dots are great for embellishments on cards and tags. I was surprised at the strength of them. I experimented sticking some googly eyes on to paper. I reckon they’d be okay for small pompoms too.

All Occasion Gift Dots are clear sticky discs. I felt they could be useful for securing tags, closing bags but probably not as good for embellishments.

Next was the new product! The Stix2 Pick up Pencil. This is SUCH a clever idea for card makers. It’s like a normal pencil but instead of having lead running through it there’s rubbery stuff. It’s not sticky and yet, all manner of things stick to it! Things like sequins, gems etc. Really, really clever….one of those tools that will probably become an essential!

Finally, I played with the Stix2 Anything Tape Runner. I left this til last, if I’m honest, because it didn’t look tempting. Not visually, I just didn’t think it would be useful in my work. Yet having used it, I can say IT IS AMAZING!!!
It will be great for demonstrations when I need an instant neat glue line. It’s high tack, impressively so, it will be great for cards, tags, scrapbooking, mounting photographs and embellishing your gift wrapping! The list goes on!

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Gift Envelopes

Gift Envelopes

 

Sometimes we have such a small gift it’s too small to wrap. Rather than hunt around for a box try making some gorgeous and stylish envelopes. You could put a ‘promise’ in their of a massage, a babysit, a meal out or a meal cooked etc.

Here are the easy steps to create….

 

1.       I bought this lovely pack of paper from Hobbycraft, very recently.  It  is  current stock, so if you also love it you’ll still be able to purchase some.

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2.       I selected my favourite sheets from the selection and then looked in my craft room to see what lining paper I had which would match , blend or even clash! I went with this turquoise shade.

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3.       To keep things very simple, I used an old envelope, which I carefully opened up, as my template. Next, I drew around it to make the shape on my special paper.

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4.       Having cut around it carefully I folded it just as the original was folded. Then I made another shape (but slightly smaller ) from my lining paper.

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5.         I  held   it in position with a glue stick. I also glued the envelope into shape. This envelope could be posted to someone with an address sticker on the front. Or alternatively, you could pop your small gift /voucher inside and tie it with a coordinating ribbon. You could even make a set of these envelopes and give them as a gift!

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Product Review for Scotch Tape.

I live and die by double sided tape!
The Scotch D.S. tape is especially good for gift wrapping demonstrations when I need to cut tape quickly to secure paper and I don’t want to fiddle around taking backing tape off. Ideally, I’d like this to be on a monster roll that I can put on a weighted stand.

Scotch Gift Wrap Tape is used like normal tape but the clever thing is it’s made with a satin finish that shows less than normal tape. I hadn’t used this before so was interested to see that the finish is far less glossy. It’s a dream to use if you can’t get along with D.S. tape.

Now for the Scotch Pop Up Tape dispenser. I had never used one of these before. it’s ingenious in it’s design but wearing it takes a bit of getting used to. It’s normal tape and so convenient.

Scotch Magic Tape looks white but is practically invisible when stuck down. It doesn’t turn yellow either! The best thing is you can write on it. So, if you want to label things or add messages, I can see this would work well. I think the crafters among you will come up with all sorts of applications for it.

My only suggestion to @Scotch is that once the selection of reels are on the dispensers and off the cardboard it would be helpful to know, at a glance, which is which!
I know what I’ll do……..I’ll label each dispenser with my Magic Tape!!!!

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Corporate Gift Wrapping

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Corporate Gift Wrapping.

 

A small company in Bristol that make the most incredible and beautiful cakes, approached me to do some gift wrapping for them (halimajafaricakeartistry.com ) Do take the time to visit Halima’s website but prepare to be amazed.

 

I jumped at the chance to get involved. She had taken orders for 12 small basket-style hampers of freshly baked goodies. Being freshly baked translated into last minute wrapping for me. I used Halima’s colours of red and white.

 

When you wrap hampers of any sort ,not only must it look visually right the basket must be weighted. You can’t have all the heavy goods on one side. So ,the positioning took a while, then I had to wedge the goods in place with shredded paper. I used a cherry red rather than the duller more traditional Christmas red. Each basket was pleated up with cellophane and adorned with the red checked  bow. The finishing touch was a white, snowflake shaped cookie cutter which was tied below each bow.

 

The final thing each time, was Halima’s business card (gorgeous pictures of cakes on) which had the name of the recipients written on the back. The disappointing thing was Halima had punched a hole already and every single card (and therefore picture of cake) was upside down! I don’t expect anyone else noticed but next year ………

 

Wrapping Flowers

Wrapping flowers.

 

Whenever I buy flowers for a friend I like to rewrap them if they come in cellophane. Sometimes ,I use brown paper (as well you know!) but I wanted something rather different this time. I bought a bunch of bright red tulips and they ,in themselves, were enough to make your heart sing! I cut a square of paper from an old map and added a layer of red tissue paper. I chose red because of all the red lines on the map itself. There were also green areas of land on the map so I chose some soft green paper raffia to make my bow.

Now stretch this idea further, what could you use instead of the vintage map? You could use a piste map for ski loving friends. The other day , I saw a free map of all the Burlesque places and activities in London , which just proves really you are only limited by your imagination!! The list could go on and on!

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Craft Blog Secret Santa Club

#Craft Blog Club Secret Santa

 

I join in with #craftblogclub on Twitter every Tuesday evening. There’s a really nice mix of people doing a really interesting mix of crafts. Before it started a few months ago Emma from @livepeachy and I exchanged a few tweets about whether it could work and if others would be interested. It seemed like a great idea and the purpose ,we decided, was not to be selling our goods. It was to discuss things.

Emma has taken it from strength to strength , we have topics we discuss, have projects,  show works-in-progress, ask advice and, inevitably, go off on a million tangents! Last week #craftblogclub was even trending!!! There’s success!

 

For December  (a very busy time for crafters) our project was to make a secret Santa gift and Emma told us to whom we were to send it. I struggled to decide what to do. Many of these people do knitting, sewing, painting etc. In the end I decided to print sheets of wrapping paper. I have these lovely replica rollers from Bavaria. A lady found the original ones in a market and decided to have them remade. I have bought most of her designs and it’s taught in my latest  and greatest workshop. It’s completely addictive and so much fun!

 

I received my secret Santa at just the right time. I was putting the finishing touches to my decorations for Christmas when my parcel arrived. In it was a garland which I could add to my existing one, on the stairs, and beef it up a bit. Look at the picture and you’ll see it came ready embellished with cinnamon, red and white glass candy canes and the sweetest red and white toadstools imaginable.

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Greeniversity

I’ve been contacted via Twitter about Greeniversity. It’s an exciting new project which is countrywide. They’ve asked me to run some workshops / demonstrations in the Bristol area. The emphasis on being green!
This rather suits me, as people who have attended my workshops will know. I often use brown paper or plain white so it can be recycled. I only put twinkly bits on the embellishments which can be lifted off and put on someone else’s gift. We’re exploring possibilities at the moment….watch this space!

Make your own wrapping paper.

This is a lovely craft to be doing pre Christmas. I bought my rollers about a year ago having read an article about a lady called Clare Bosanquet. She visited Romania and happened upon the paint rollers in a market. The rollers had been used for over a hundred years in Romania to print on wall as well as fabric. She bought ALL of them and had them recreated. I’ve bought quite a few different designs and find printing wrapping paper almost addictive! I an now offering a print your own wrapping paper workshop alongside the others.

1.I am using normal matt emulsion paint (in primrose in this case) and loading the sponge which in turn will coat the roller with the design on.

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2. Roll carefully all the way along your paper.I am using brown Kraft paper.

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3Here is a close up of the pattern…fir trees and reindeer. I think it would look even lovelier in white paint on brown.

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4. This is another pattern which features birds. It was just drying on the back of a chair!

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Hallowe’en

I’ve never really ‘done’ Hallowe’en always considering it a very American thing. Since joining #craftblogclub on Twitter on Tuesday evenings, I’ve had to embrace it!
Each month we are given a challenge ,by Emma, our lovely host. This month we had to learn a new craft and have a Hallowe’en theme.
I dreaded it because to me, everything you see along Hallwe’en lines (in shops etc) tends to be really cheap and tacky. There’s a good reason for it, of course, it only needs to last one night.
So, without much thought I used a florist ring and created a cobweb using jewellery wire . It’s straightforward and took less than an hour and yet it almost looks like jewellery/sculpture. I’m really happy with it actually. In fact, I don’t even have it now it’s already gone to a huge admirer (not of me obviously…of the cobweb!!!)

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Would you give your Mother cabbage for Christmas?

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Is their such a thing as a budget friendly Christmas?

Possibly! If you are a  slightly creative sort and you are prepared early enough.

Largely, people are time-short these days and in that mad run up to Christmas they are dashing about, working even harder than usual, playing catch up in order to have some family time and a proper break over Christmas. Those people do not have time to do and make all the things that you may be good at. What you create may not be that clever, it can be simple but beautifully presented.

 

Do you cook, bake, make relishes or pickles?

Do you sew? Are there small gifts you could start to make now? Spectacle cases, book marks, needle cases, pin cushions?

Do you create? Can you make a door wreath, a door handle decoration, a table centre, Christmas crackers or winter pot pourri?

This week I made pickled cabbage. You know…chop red cabbage, salt it, rinse it, put it in a jar and cover it with vinegar and pickling spices. I only made one jar. Later that day, my Mum arrived. This is what she said  ‘Oh my goodness! You’ve made pickled cabbage. I LOVE pickled cabbage!’

There’s one person who might enjoy a little hamper of home made goodies this year. At first I thought it was really funny I was even considering giving my Mother cabbage for Christmas….but now I seriously am (maybe with a few extras!)

So, onto the presentation. If you’ve handmade something, I feel that should be reflected in the wrapping. If it’s food related, I like to keep the wrapping natural. Think brown paper, raffia, matt ribbons and brown luggage tags.

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#Frippery Friday

Are you on Twitter? There’s something new happening every Friday, in the run up to Christmas. Anyone can tweet me a picture of a gift wrap they’ve done. It doesn’t have to be astonishing so don’t worry….it might be the colours you’ve put together that take my fancy . My favourite one will receive a little frippery prize in the post. Every week you can have another go even if you’ve already won before.

Go on, give it a whirl, it’s a bit of fun for my Twitter friends!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I decided to write this post, because I get asked this question all the time.

An immediate response would be ‘I don’t really  know.’

I’ve given it some thought though and obviously a lot of ideas are not completely original because something you’ve seen in a magazine, Pinterest etc has triggered the thought process. This is not necessarily a conscious thing either. I’ve worked out I am completely drawn in by colour. That is the main thing for me.

Whilst I am naturally a ‘cool’ colour person (pink, lilac, blue, etc) sometimes I gift wrap in earthy shades if I know the recipient will love ‘warm’ tones( mustard, nutmeg, stone, orange.) It’s a challenge. If in doubt or if I want a fresh idea, I look to nature.

As I write this ,my garden is just leaving summer’s last blooms behind, about to shrug off those leaves and brighten up with berries and frost, cobwebs and earth. That last sentence is full of colours! If nature put to shades or colours together then I know it will work in my gift wrapping or embellishments and fripperies.

Italian themed present

Today, I’m off to mooch around a barn which a friend has just bought.

I don’t know about you, but I always love to see the ‘ before’ as well as the ‘after’. I know my friend will decorate it beautifully. She is a party girl and very sociable but also loves making a home a home, and she loves cooking. So wanting to take a little gift with me I decided to take something for her kitchen.

I bought some rather posh pasta and some truffle oil. I wrapped both in brown paper for a rustic look and tied  them up with raffia. That was enough embellishment for the bottle (not pictured), but I wanted to stick these ridiculous felt pastas I’d made the other evening ,on the gift. I’d seen the felt pasta a few times in the past but this was the first time I tried it. I think it looks crazy…….but then so is my friend!!

 

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Baby present

Such lovely news ! My niece had a baby girl. She came for lunch with me and the new little one, Kitty! You, of course, will be wishing I was blogging about Kitty but I’m not. I want to tell you about the gift wrap (obviously!)

I’d bought Kitty a funky little coat. Of course, clothing always makes for a squishy present to wrap. I had this wonderful Tiffany coloured paper. Admittedly there were rather big folds underneath which I covered with a swathe of  pink tulle. I tied a knot on the top rather than a bow so that I could use the peg idea for the tag.

 

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Twitter competition

I follow @Ryman on Twitter because it’s connected to #SBS and I’m always  hoping Theo Paphitos  will spot my business and let me win!!

Half way through my craft room move (see last post) @Ryman did a competition for the messiest desk and the tidiest desk. Mine was looking horrendous as usual, so I took a photo and entered the competition quickly before I could change my mind. They’ve contacted me and said I’m going to get a small prize for being the first entry!! Obviously as thrilling as that is I’m really hoping for the big prize. Will keep you posted!!!

Moving My Craft Room.

Minimalist? Certainly not! It’s not even in my vocabulary! Yet ,as I made the decision to move my craft room ,I sort of wished I was one. No chance.

So, the major effort began….and it’s not over yet.

When I first moved into my original craft room, I picked my favourite room in the house…it’s all sloping ceilings  and quaint windows and up on the attic level. Then,  I realised how impractical it was. It’s so quaint that with all my ‘stuff’ in there,  there wasn’t  room to swing a cat. (not that I have one, or would wish to swing one either.) So, I have had to drag what I need downstairs to the kitchen table and then it takes a superhuman effort to take it back (3 floors).

It got me thinking that my son, who lives nearby, doesn’t need his room. You save the children’s rooms forever in case it upsets them, don’t you?  But, he actually  helped me start moving the craft stuff yesterday into his old, enormous room. It’s so big that I could even have two more Ikea shelf units in there. There’s room for a table so I can do every thing in one room …bliss! People have been admiring the painted drawers. They came completely free from my local post office when it moved to smaller premises. Right place, right time!

If you turn up at my door, please knock VERY LOUDLY because I’ll be three floors up fripperising things!!!

It’s not finished yet, a bit of a work in progress……but from the photos you can see how bad it was, and you can see the one tidy corner I’ve created so far. Long may it last!

 

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Can you tweet too much?

Well, probably yes, in my case! I only started with Twitter about 8 weeks ago. At first I was just following people and doing the odd tweet myself and the people started following me. Lovely. Then I went on holiday for almost four weeks. I decided to experiment with Twitter. I didn’t blog or do anything else for my business I just tweeted. A lot. On a  few days apparently I did 30 tweets! I didn’t realise that a retweet for someone else counted as a tweet. Then I read that the optimum number of tweets is 3 per day. I’ve calmed down since I came home because I’m busy with workshops, pinterest, guest blogging and magazine articles.

So, did it help my business? Well, I went from  100 plus  followers to well over 400. And within the 400 there’s quite a few magazines etc and it led to articles immediately. So, for raising your profile and opening opportunities I’d say yes it helped. I would also say I won’t ever do it to that degree again. I usually read 4 or 5 books on holiday and I read half a book. Maybe it wasn’t a very good book /maybe I was a Twitter addict!

A new workshop!

The lovely Halima Jafari and I are offering a combined workshop this year where you decorate a beautiful Christmas cake (trust me it will be GORGEOUS!) and then have lunch and do some beautiful wrapping. What a lovely way to spend a day! All the details are on the workshop page of the website.

The holidays are over!

Yes that’s right. My long, long holiday in France (4 weeks this year) is over. It was amazing to have that long…..very restful. I say restful, but I did do plenty of things.

My favourite thing to do on holiday is browse around the French markets. Somehow all their broquante stuff is just what I need to decorate my little house there. It certainly isn’t antique stuff so I’d probably describe most of it as vintage. It’s great rooting through it all, hoping to find a treasure or two. This year became the year of the vintage champagne bucket. I don’t own a vase there and thought it would be so cool to put flowers in a champagne bucket. Can’t go wrong at 5 euros!

Twitter

Many of you know I’ve become an enthusiastic Tweeter. (@GiftFrippery) Please find me and follow if you’re interested in thoughts, gift wrapping, crafts and bridal craft ideas and occasional other things that take my fancy!

I’ve just Tweeted that whilst I’m on holiday I’m going to be planning my Twitter launch of Frippery Friday! I’d really value any small suggestions of things that could be featured.

Thank you in advance!

Frida Kahlo style necklace!

There’s such a heat wave at the moment it’s inspired me to make a really summery necklace. It’s very simple to make. A length of brightly coloured ribbon and a few silk flowers in bright colours. You could sew this but I used the glue gun.

1. Tie a length of ribbon on yourself to get required length for necklace. Then I hung my necklace ribbon from some kitchen cupboard knobs so it would hang correctly when worn. This gives a truer impression than when you create it flat on a table.

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2.Select your flowers and choose the order based on size and colour.

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3.Start by gluing / sewing the middle flower at the bottom on the ribbon and start working outwards.

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4. You will find that because of the weight of the flowers the necklace will twist a bit. I glued some flowers to the back of the ribbon too. This helped to cover the ribbon and counteract the twist.

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5. Keep adding flowers until you get the fullness desired.

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6.Hey presto! This is flouncy enough for me. I love the colours and this will be great for summer holidays fun.

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Let me know what you think and if you make one send your pictures in.

Pop Up Shop

I’ve been doing a lot of writing since my daughter has gone back to Australia. Wedding fever turned into washing fever…you know how it is, sheets, towels from a million visitors. Luckily the weather has been so amazing, it’s been easier than usual to catch up. There are remnants of the wedding. Obviously all the hard work in the garden is still paying off and the bunting and tea light  tea cups on stakes still make my heart skip when I go outside.

Since I started Tweeting about 6 weeks ago I’ve been approached my quite a few people who are interested in featuring me in magazines, online blogs and possibly a new local TV station.

The latest round up are Filofax, Fab Women in Business, Guardian Small Business. Bishopston Voice, Clifton Life, County Weddings magazine will all be in September. It’s all opening up in a very exciting way.

I’ve been thinking for a few years that I would love to have a pop up shop for one day only where I would wrap one gift per person and they could make a donation to the charity of my choice. I’m interested to know what you think? Would it work?

Filming With the Amazings

I met Paul, the camera man and Laura from Boho Weddings today. You can tell from the mess on the table Laura and I had plenty to talk about and we came up with loads of colourful, fun ideas to dress the table if you’re a bride who loves boho style. Watch this space. When filming is completed we will run a introductory snippet on this blog!

 

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Morning Post!

It’s so lovely to get surprises in the post, isn’t it? AND I did! Thank you to Cloth magazine who gave me a generous £30 voucher to spend on trimmings of the frippery type! The issue of Cloth magazine I’m in is out today!

Guardian Small Business Network.

The Guardian Small Business Network is part of The Guardian website. An article about Gift Frippery will go live on the site tomorrow. Feel free to browse

www.guardian.co.uk/small-business-network

Looking forward to it!

Is it possible to start a business with £100?

Well I did, and now I’m blogging about it, not here because this is a craft blog, but here…

http://fabwomeninbusiness-events.com/is-it-really-possible-to-start-a-business-with-100-share-your-start-up-story-gift-frippery/

It’s on going!!

Edgy wedding button holes

The groom loved the idea of shot gun cartridge button holes. It was an idea I’d seen on Pinterest many moons ago. When you have a destination wedding ,fresh flowers are tricky to arrange so I used artificial roses. I pushed oasis into the empty shotgun cartridge. I wound rough twine around it which would secure it (with the aid of a pin to the suit lapel). Then I added the flower and greenery and finished it off with a smart bow.

This type of button hole was very popular with the lads!

 

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Diy bridal bouquet

1. Using a selection of cotton lawn, linen, raw silk etc in various shades of cream and ivory I started forming flowers in my hand and then securing with some rather large stitches to anchor the shape.

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2.I used a kitchen whisk as the base!!! It seemed the right shape with a little pulling to round it a bit. I covered all of it in florist tape.

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3. I made a huge selection of the flowers and with my trusty glue gun started to secure them to the whisk. Who’d have thought!!

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4. Here you can see the almost completed whisk.

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5.I used the glue gun again to secure the satin ribbon I wound around the handle.

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6.Here’s a close up of the lovely sentiment ribbon I used for the final bit of trimming….it dangled down from the handle.

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7. And here comes the bride! My lovely daughter. She called her bouquet  ‘my whisk’ all day and she loved it.

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