Blog, Makes

Make your own Christmas Crackers

I originally designed and made these crackers for Coast magazine.

Crackers date back to the 1840’s. They were supposed to have been invented by a sweet manufacturer, Tom Smith, who came up with the idea as a way of promoting his bon-bon sweets, that were having a bit of a slump at the time.

My crackers have been designed with a coastal Christmas theme in mind, but you could create crackers for different events, such as a wedding, christening or birthday. For these designs I took photos of fabrics and sweet wrappers and enlarged them to create the scale I wanted. You could do this too, of even draw your own design on paper. There are lots of copyright free images to be found on the internet. You will need the design to fit onto an A4 piece of paper. I bought the cracker snaps on line, but everything else should be very easy to find. You can make paper hats from tissue paper and of course write your own jokes. The jokes can be created for different members of your family or particular friends. I put some tiny old fashioned Christmas decorations in my crackers. You could do the same or add balloons and sweets.

You will need

Piece of A4 Card for each cracker, Piece of A4 paper printed with a design, Cutting mat, Scalpel, Paper scissors, Clear tape, Double sided tape, Ruler, Pencil, Cracker snaps, Sweets, paper hats and tiny toys and decorations

Step 1

Cut a strip off the card so that it measures 16cm x 29.7cm.

Lay the card horizontally, starting from the right hand side measure in from the edge 6cm both top and bottom of the card. Draw a line between the pencil dots. Repeat at 8cm and 10 cm in from the edge. Repeat on the left hand side of the card. Score and fold as shown in image.

Step 2

Where the narrow folded edges are, mark out evenly spaced triangles. Make sure that there is a bridge between each triangle. Using the paper scissor cut out the triangles. Open out the card and you will have two rows of diamonds.

Step 3

Roll the card horizontally to form a long narrow cracker shaped tube. Using sticky tape, attach one side onto the other. Cut the A4 paper into three strips 2 x 6cms wide and 1 x 9.5cm wide. Using double sided tape stick the paper onto the three sections of the card tube.

Step 4

Push the cracker snap into the cracker, and secure it with a bit of tape to stop it falling out. Tie string or twine round one end of the cracker and then fill the cracker with sweets decorations toys etc or even your own jokes. Tie up the other end of the cracker.

Blog, Makes

Need somewhere to stack the Christmas presents? Make a coffee table from a wooden pallet.

This is such an inexpensive, quick and easy project to make. It would make a great Christmas present too.

All you need is a wooden pallet, sandpaper, 4 castors, screw driver, paint brush, white primer/undercoat, top colour in emulsion or satinwood.

Step 1 Sand off any rough bits from the pallet.

Step 2 Paint onto the bare wood using an undercoat/primer .

Step 3 Once the paint is dry, go over it with the top coat. We chose a pale scandi inspired blue.

Step 4 Screw the castors onto the underside of the four corners of your new table.

Blog, Makes

Quince Jelly fit for a Queen

I was recently given some enormous, if somewhat bruised, windfall quinces. So as a great lover of cheese I decided to make some quince jelly,  sometimes  known as quince cheese. Suffice to say as soon as I wanted to make the jelly I couldn’t find a recipe. Then I found buried amongst all my other cookery books a slim volume called   WI Book of Jams and other preserves written by Pat Hesketh and published in 1984.  It has over 100 recipes tried and tested by the women’s institute.

So I turn to the page for Quince Cheese, on the same and facing page were recipes for cumberland rum butter, apple butter, marrow orange cream and bramble cheese. Fruit butters are a softer consistency than cheeses and are usually spiced and should be hermetically sealed. They are usually served as a spread. Cheeses are cooked to a stiff consistency and set in small moulds so that they   can be turned out for serving and cut into wedges.

Quince Cheese 

500g quinces chopped into roughly 1cm pieces

500g sugar

water

Instructions 

  1. Wash the quinces and cut up into pieces
  2. Place in a pan and barely cover with water.
  3. Cover and cook until reduced to a pulp.
  4. Pour through a sieve and weigh the liquid. (discard what is left in the sieve).To each 500g of liquid add 500g of sugar.
  5. Cook over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
  6. Continue cooking until a thick consistency is obtained.
  7. When a spoon is drawn across the base of the pan, it should leave a clean line.
  8. Pour into prepared moulds. I used small glass pots used for ‘Gu’.
  9. Make some fabric tops by cutting out circles with pinking shears.
Blog, Makes

Chair makeover using Vintage Tapestries

Materials

Annie Sloan paint in Provence and Aubusson, Annie Sloan furniture wax, Old tapestries, Thread, Paper to make a pattern, Upholstery tacks, Decorative upholstery nails, chair to upholster

A chair in need of a makeover

Equipment A cotton rag, Sandpaper Paint brush, Needle-nosed pliers, Pins, Paper Cutting Scissors , Dressmaking scissors, Sewing machine, Iron and ironing board, Small pin hammer

Instructions

1. Using the needle-nosed pliers prize out any old upholstery nails and tacks. Carefully remove the fabric and pin the pieces, right side up, on the paper and draw round them and then cut out to make a pattern. Cut out the patterns.

2. Place the tapestries on the chair and arrange and re-arrange until you are happy with the composition. When you are happy, create sections of tapestry patchwork by machine stitching oblongs onto one another. Iron all the seams flat.

Arranging old tapestries on the chair

3. Pin the paper pattens onto the wrong side of the tapestry patchwork, allowing at least a 5cm (2inch) seam allowance all the way round each piece. Lay the sewn patchwork on the chair and check you are happy with it before cutting it out.

4. Paint the Provence paint onto the wooden parts of the chair and leave to dry. Paint the Aubusson over the Provence and leave to dry. Sand back parts of the second colour. To finish the paint work, rub in wax with a cotton cloth,

The finished paint result after painting with Provence and Aubusson on top then sanded back

5.  Pin each section of the tapestry onto the chair. Start attaching the pieces using the upholstery tacks. Start with the front of the chair. Begin in the middle and work outwards, stretching and pulling as you go. Apply a tack every 3cm(11/4in). Pull the fabric so it is as taut as possible before you put in the tacks. When you have reached one end, go back to the middle and start again, working in the opposite direction.

6. Repeat the process to attach the other patchwork tapestry pieces on the chair front and then the chair back. Always work from a centre point outwards, applying tacks in one direction and then the opposite direction, so that you don’t get twisting and distortion. Check that you are happy with your work and make adjustments as necessary.

Decorative upholstery nails on top of the tacks.

To finish hammer the decorative upholstery nails down the sides at the back of the chair, covering the tacks you previously hammered in.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Makes

With Oxfam encouraging us to buy second hand and to recycle this month, I am posting a review of the book I wrote in 2011. The Shirt Off His Back. A book full of ideas to re-love and upcycle old shirts.

by Juliet Bawden and photographed by Caroline Arber

This book review first appeared on the Sewing Directory web site and was written by Fiona Pullen

This innovative up-cycling book makes use of a material we all have around us – Men’s shirts. Those of us with men in the house will undoubtedly have, no longer, used shirts lurking at the back of wardrobes. Those who don’t have a shirt-wearing male to acquire shirts from can pick them up fairly cheap from the charity shop. Plus of course there is no reason why women’s shirts can’t be used for these projects either.


The projects in this book are cleverly catagorized by type of shirt used to make them: businessmen’s shirts, creative men’s shirts, outdoorsy men’s shirts and sporty men’s shirts. The projects include soft toys, quilted duvet cover, a beach bag, storage boxes, and a pretty peg bag and they make use of the whole of the shirt including, cuffs, collars and buttons.


The instructions for each project are set over several pages with large step by step photos to guide you as well as a photo of the finished project plus any templates you need are at the rear of the book. The book is easy to follow and would be suitable for all levels of experience.

Published by Jacqui Small

Blog, Makes

During Oxfam’s month of buying only second hand, why not up cycle an old jumper to create a new cushion? Here I show how I re-loved a giddy goat sweater to create a cushion.

Goat Jumper

I loved this “Joseph” sweater, I bought it second hand  when my daughter was a baby. I had worn it to death and washed and washed it. In the end it was so felted I got a very talented lady to knit me a new one and I made a cushion out of the original.

You will need

1 Sweater

Sewing machine

Thread

Scissors

Seam unpicker

needle and wool

Old cushion pad

Instructions

  1. Using the seam un-picker, open up the side seams.
    4 unstitch side seams.JPG
  2. Cut two rectangles from the front and the back of the sweater, and with right sides facing,  pin and then using a 1 cm seam allowance , sew them together round 3 sides. Leave what was the bottom of the sweater open, as they are neat edges.
    6 sew sides seams together .jpg
  3. Turn the cover through, insert the cushion pad, close with an over sew stitch.
    8 Put cushion pad  inside and sew open seam .jpg

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Makes, Uncategorized

Oxfam urges shoppers not to buy new clothes for a month. So this September I show you how to up cycle, preloved garments, starting with a Smoking Cap.

Second Hand September aims to raise awareness of fashion’s environmental impact

Create a twenty first century version of a nineteenth century, Smoking Cap from an up-cycled 1980’s jacket. I made this for my brother who loved wearing smoking caps. Here it is modelled by the beautiful Elsa.

2C2A7330

The embroidery on the Jacket was beautiful but the style was somehow lacking. So I chose to turn it into, what used to be called, a Smoking Cap. This is in essence a pill box shaped hat often with a central tassel.

jacket

You will need

Old lined jacket

Tape measure

Pen and paper

Sewing machine

Pins

Thread

Scissors

Thin wadding

Calico

Optional a tassel

Instructions .We made a pattern with the crown, top of the hat having a 18cm diameter. The brim of the hat is 8cm deep x 59.5 cm long including the seam allowances. Cut a paper pattern and then cut a calico pattern and sew the calico brim onto the calico top. Try it on for size and adjust as needed. It should be a little bigger than the finished hat, as the finished hat as a layer of wadding in it.

hat pattern

Cut the jacket into pieces and then lay the pattern pieces on them so they use up the best parts of the pattern. Pin and cut out the pattern pieces. Remember to add more seam allowance if you need to make a join.

pin band onto fabric.jpg

Cut the interfacing so that it is slightly smaller than the pattern pieces. Pin it onto the wrong side of the hat’s crown and brimSew the wadding onto the brim. Pin the crown onto the brim, and sew them together, including the wadding around the crownpin top side.jpg

Using the jacket lining, make a lining for the hat as you did the one from calico. With wrong sides together, and the bottom edges turned under to neaten, sew the lining  into the

.sew wadding into the top piece.jpg

outside cap. Sew a tassel into the centre of the cap.

2C2A7323

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