craft · homemaking


Painted jar vases

The prospect of painting a kitchen is a daunting one.

With seemingly endless cupboard doors, handles, nooks and crannies to sand, coat and recoat, the mother lode of mental discipline is required to remain on task without flinging the brush in the air and dialling a tradesman.

Fortunately, mammoth tasks have inbuilt motivators. As small sections take shape, like giant jigsaws, the puzzler is gradually fed clues to the total picture. That urge to see the completed vista mobilizes a further sift through the box – and another lick of paint. While my current internal mantra is to ‘eat this mammoth one bite at a time’, some instant gratification is required. Spying empty glass jars near the drooling paint can, meant today, some new vases were born.

painted passata jar vase

And being that it is daffodil season here right now, there is no better time to create something simple and understated for them to sing in.

The beauty of jars is that they come in all shapes, so choose yours with its resident in mind. A short squat vessel is perfect for herbs, while a tall slim bottle will display your single bloom with elegance. Don’t buy paint, I’m sure you have an old tin lurking from a long distant refurbishment. Give it a shake and prize off the lid. Away you go and coat as many little receptacles as you wish. Mine needed two good coats with plenty of drying time in between.

So scrape out that last bit of marmalade and retrieve that passata bottle from the recycling box, and before the day is through you may not have consumed your entire elephant, but you sure will have something pretty to look at while you contemplate the next bite.

cosy space

Postscript: and at the end of a paint splattered day, how lovely it was to retire to a cosy corner and be cheered by daffodils and hellebores in their new homes.



Twitter purses

With the vast majority of our social networking taking place on-line these days, it’s nice to occasionally log off and devote some time to developing deeper social connection. In our complex web of daily human interaction, opportunities arise that require more concrete acknowledgment of others than simply a ‘thumbs-up like’ or a :). Some eye contact, some heartfelt words and a handmade gift will lift the spirits of another to far greater heights than any clicked icon will ever manage.

It might be a cake taken into a neighbour, some freshly cut herbs brought in to a work colleague or a collection of recent photos with a note put into the post to a distant relative. Whatever it is, you can be sure that the gesture will be remembered, well after the form is no longer. For me, these zippered twitter purses seem as good a token as any to make this happen – little pouches to contain and release good wishes to the owner from their grateful maker.

Twitter purse pieces

To gather your own flock of twitter purses to acknowledge the goodwill of others, you simply need an afternoon and the following steps:

  1. To create a purse the size of these birdies, you will need 4 pieces of fabric measuring 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches – 1 front piece, 1 back piece and 2 inner lining pieces. You will also need a 5 inch zipper and some matching thread. (see above) If you want a larger size, cut your fabric to the desired dimensions and simply buy a longer zip, remembering it needs to be 1/2 inch shorter that the fabric pieces.
  2. Twelve 22 will walk you beautifully through the process of inserting the zipper and finishing the purse – I used 1/4 inch seam allowances for mine.
  3. Press your finished purse carefully and pop some tissue paper inside to give the purse form if it is to be gifted.

Twitter zippered purses

Postscript: My feeling is, that the recipient of your twitter purse will receive more gratitude from you than any line of 140 characters could ever convey.



lavender sachets

Often the charm of individual graphics are lost in the overall ‘busyness’ of beautifully designed fabrics. This can have its advantages though. If ever you have spent time gazing at curtains or upholstered furniture, and suddenly a creature materialises that you may have looked at and not seen on so many occasions, it can seem like a reward for your patient observation. So it was for me, when a second inspection of a leftover remnant from our cushion covers revealed hidden gems. And as such, that was how lavender sachets came to be this week.

four lavender sachets

Maybe some sachets need to ‘come to be’ in your home too. If so, when you have settled on your piece of fabric, it is a matter of deciding what size to cut your shapes. Mine measured 5 x 5 1/2 inches, simply because they were the best dimensions to capture my images. Once you have your shape measured and cut all you need do is:

  1. Cut a backing piece from plain fabric to the same dimensions.
  2. Pin both pieces right sides facing and sew around the two sides and top edges.
  3. Turn your sachet to the right side and press under 1/4 inch of the open edge.
  4. Fill with lavender.
  5. Hand sew the bottom edge closed.

If you make an afternoon of it, you will finish up with lots of sachets – some to keep and others to gift.

The whole business of producing a pile of lavender sachets is a rewarding one. Employing skerricks of treasured fabrics with limited yardage for little else, does good things for the soul. Spending an afternoon in lavender infused surroundings does likewise. And that sense of productive satisfaction settling within as the finished articles stack together, that intrinsic reward humans seek, which cannot be purchased but only experienced from a job well done, is the unanticipated by-product of this simple process.

lavender sachet ingredients

Postscript: with a special day on the horizon, it may be opportune to have some set aside for those treasured maternal figures who like these hidden gems, often blend into the background of our busy lives and really deserve the spotlight.



tomato cushion

Whilst others are resting on their laurels, we are resting on our tomatoes right now.

If you cast your mind back to this post you may remember the lovely bowl of tomatoes as the featured image. Not wanting to hide my snaps away in a darkened drawer, but having very little vacant wall space these days, the search was on to unearth a new way to keep this appealing image in my field of view. So how about a scatter cushion?

tomatoes in a bowl cushion cover

If you too have treasured images that you wish to keep in the spotlight, the simplest way to go about this is to have the snap of your choice printed onto fabric. Then it’s just a matter of finding a coordinating remnant to back it with and a cushion insert to give it the final shape.

Due to the nature of this household ie pets and children, it was essential that I added a zipper to mine, as it will be spending a considerable measure of its life rotating in the washing machine. Don’t be discouraged if your sewing confidence is not up to zippers right now, four straight seams is all you need, and maybe choose a low traffic area for your creation to reside.

tomato cushion supplies

Postscript: should you be interested in placing an invisible zipper in the base, here is a brilliant tutorial that will get you exactly the result you are after.



freeform patches

If for no apparent reason, the desire to combine colour takes hold, then patches are an ideal way to express this –  from both a time and cost-effective viewpoint.

As one season merges into the next, so does the desire to take on a different set of activities. What was viewed only a matter of weeks ago through a blaze of brilliant heat as an onerous task, now in the crisp morning freshness appears as one to be harnessed with relish. As our Autumn days are settling into place, energy once depleted by soaring temperatures has been restored. I am moving into my inventive phase right now, which I feel certain is triggered by this seasonal change. The desire to create has once again taken hold, and so a series of patches have been born.

patch on the back of the jacket

Layering colours and securing them with thread that introduces a further hue, is a very satisfying way of passing time. As you cut and match, compare and contrast, a multitude of impressions pass through the mind – and none of them relate to shopping lists, drycleaners or dishwashing liquid.

Patches are simple to build:

  • cut a freeform shape from felt
  • cut a smaller freeform shape from a printed fabric scrap that will fit within the felt shape.
  • overstitch the printed fabric onto the felt shape.
  • blanket stitch around the edge of your felt piece.

Once your patch is complete, the decision to be made is where it will reside. Mine spend time on my denim jackets, sometimes on a satchel and once on a cushion. (Small stitches with fine cotton are best to attach with).

Why should the trees have all the fun with colour?

bird on my jacket

craft · personal style


Small pieces of stitching are usually enough to satisfy creative urges without becoming overwhelming projects that slip into the ‘will finish some day’ box.

Heart pins fit the bill. Creativity is assuaged in the selection of fabric and thread colour, and size ensures the piece makes it to completion. Pinning one onto a denim jacket or a canvas satchel, is quite gratifying – you have endorsed your look with your own logo.

Make yours by:

heart pin ingredients

  1. Cutting two large heart shapes from felt (I used old felted jumpers) and one small heart from a scrap of coordinating cotton fabric. These templates are perfect.
  2. Using a contrasting thread (stranded cotton is available in a myriad of colours) blanket stitch your cotton heart onto the front of one of the felt hearts.
  3. Sew a brooch pin (or safety-pin) to the back of the second felt heart.
  4. Place both felt hearts (blank sides together) and using a second contrasting thread, blanket stitch your way around the edges, so both are attached.
  5. If your heart is to be gifted, cut some coloured card into squares, pin on your heart and slip into a plastic bag.

Postscript: See if you can stop at one.