Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lavender Harvest, Lavender Heart

I've been a bit quiet in blogland this week. Though there are a whole bunch of things I want to share with you guys, this week has been super-busy and in the times I've been home, I've just wanted to chill.

Anyway. For all you Americans out there, happy Thanksgiving! :)

And now on with the post :) 

A few weeks ago I harvested some lavender from the front garden! I’ve seen some awesome lavender crafts online so felt spoilt for choice over what to do with it!

Eventually I decided to pick the most obvious choice: lavender pillows!

This is what I came up with:

I decided upon heart shaped lavender pillows, and made use of a mixture of techniques that I wrote about in my fabric heart and scented heart tutorials.

After cutting the lavender, I tied it in a bundle and placed it upside down in a paper bag on the boiler...and forgot about it for three weeks.

Once I remembered again, I spent some time removing the buds from the stalks. This turned out to be quite messy, despite having put newspaper down! 

Since these little pillows are a gift, I wanted to make them look a bit more special than something made with fabric scraps!
I used a combination of dupion silk and some lovely bird motif curtain fabric (I previously used some to make cushions). I thought that an all-blue heart would have looked too plain next to the others, so I appliquéd part of the motif from the cream fabric before sewing the heart.

Filling the hearts with lavender was fairly difficult! I ended up cutting a corner from a magazine insert and using it as a tiny scoop!

Filling these with lavender took longer than all the cutting, sewing and appliqué!
Hopefully the lovely lady I made these for will like them! :)

Will be linking up at the parties in the side bar!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tutorial: Doily Glasses Case

Well, I couldn’t stop at a phone case when it came to doilies.
I made a matching sunglasses case:

Again, it was something I needed! My awesome sunnies (hand-me-downs from my Mum) did come with a case, but the lining was breaking up--every time I took the sunglasses out, they were covered in bits of black dust!

The sunglasses case turned out to be much easier to make than the matching phone case, though the method is pretty similar!

Here’s an easy-peasy sunglasses case tutorial.

Time needed: approx 20 mins (excluding glue drying time)

You’ll need:
Old, flat sunglasses case that fits your sunglasses
Doily (or doilies)
Fabric glue

1. Draw around the sunglasses case onto the interfacing and cut out leaving 1cm seam allowance. (As with the phone case, I cut two layers of sew-in interfacing to get the desired thickness).

2. Cut a piece of fabric and lining the same size, using the interfacing as a guide. Iron the interfacing to the back of the fabric if using that type.

3. Make a sandwich with the lining, fabric and interfacing, ensuring the fabric is in the middle.

4. Sew around the edge of the sandwich, leaving a few inches gap along one edge.

5. Clip the corners and turn the case the right way around. Fold in the un-sewn edge and sew right along that edge, including around the corners. (I forgot to take a picture of this part, sorry!). This side will be the mouth of the case.

6. Fold the case in half with the edge you just sewed on one end. Pin the other sides and opposite end together and sew. 

7. Glue on a doily and you’re done!

This will probably be my last doily craft for now, until I get my hands on more! 

Will be linking up at all the usual link parties, found in the side bar :)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Photography Challenge Week #17

The theme for the Photography Challenge over at A Step in the Journey this week was someone you love.

Originally I was going to cheat and photograph one of the cats!
But I decided to pester an actual person this time around! And who else fits the category better than my very own Mum?!
Here she is in all her very patient smiley loveliness!

She didn't really want her picture taken! This is what she did when I first waved my camera in her direction:

As you can see, my Mum is lovely and silly! She wanted to hide her face because she feels tired, but I think she looks lovely as always!
Wish I'd had the chance to con her into playing model for me properly (rather than a couple of impromptu photos).

It's getting to that point in the year where my camera wants to use the flash whatever the time of day. This is fine if it's a still life, but not so good for a person or animal!

There are a whole bunch of awesome photographs by others at the link party on A Step in the Journey. And it's not too late to join in! :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

What I Wore... #6

Back at its usual Wednesday spot...I tried a bit harder this week! Unfortunately I still haven't figured out a good place for taking pictures. Boooo.

First up, my favourite outfit of the week.

Tuesday 15th November
Jacket: Second hand
Shirt: H&M
Jumper: Happit
Leggings: Matalan
Boots: New Look

Today I woke up wanting to go for an androgynous/tomboy look! The velvety blazer came from a second hand clothes shop in Brighton (calling it 'retro' might have been pushing it a bit) back when I was at college. I stupidly cut off the buttons from the cuffs and now wish I hadn't, since they got pilfered from the button box for a sock puppet (which probably got binned...gah)
Still, I love the jacket and love that we've got suitable weather for wearing it!

Here come the rest...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

10 Tips for How to Save on Shopping (and 3 for free clothes)

It never hurts to budget, or to try to save a little money here and there. In this economic climate, we never know what is just around the corner, and who doesn’t like reading their bank statement to find they have more money at the end of the month than they expected?! 

I can’t say much for saving on utilities and suchlike, since I live with my parents and they make those decisions. But when it comes to shopping, I have much more experience!
Just the other day, Mum and I did a grocery shop in Tesco and managed to cut down our bill by a whole £40 in multi-buy savings and coupons!

So here are 10 tips for how to save money on shopping, followed by a few tips for getting free clothes! These are all pretty obvious, but can be easy to forget when you’re rushing around with other things on your mind!

  1. Watch out for offers especially on luxuries and perishables! Offers are a double-edged sword. Basically, it’s only worth taking advantage of them for perishables you know you’ll use before their eat-by date, and non perishables you use frequently.
    e.g. we passed up on the 2-for-1 on bags of baking potatoes (they’d go bad before we ate them all) but we took advantage of the 2-for-1 on toothpaste.
    Offers are there to encourage you to spend more. Don’t do 3-for-2 if you only went in for 1--or none.

  2. Compare Prices. This ties in with offers. In a supermarket, you might assume that the larger pack is better value than the smaller packs. This isn’t always the case, especially when offers are concerned! In the UK, supermarket shelves have the price per unit (or 100g, 1kg etc) printed in small type on the labels. All you have to do is read this and compare with the different sizes to find what gets you the best deal!
    e.g. 800g mayonnaise for £3.69; 400g mayonnaise on offer at 2 for £3--you get the same amount for less by buying two smaller jars (and can use those jars for crafting once they’re empty!) Since mayo doesn’t go off quickly, one jar can be stored whilst the other is enjoyed!

  3. Buy what you need. This is the most obvious one but I am so guilty of buying things I want. I have a wardrobe bursting with clothes to prove it. With clothes shopping, the answer is not to do it unless you have a specific item to buy. But we all love to browse and admire! I try to use a rule when clothes shopping: if it won’t go with at least four items from the wardrobe, don’t buy it.
    When shopping for food, buying what you need relates to the first tip again! Make a list and stick to it.

  4. Judge more expensive goods by the use you’ll get out of them. When it comes to clothing, especially coats and footwear, opt for a classic style rather than a high-fashion option that will be ‘outdated’ next year.
    e.g. A winter coat costs £80. You’ll wear it for the next 5-10 years, which will cost you £8-£16 per year. Assuming winter runs from November to January, that’s just 9p-17p pence per day.

  5. Buying cheap goods isn’t necessarily a ‘false economy’ (some cheap goods are excellent quality!) but is definitely a retail trap! It’s all too easy to buy something because it’s ‘only £1’. But ‘Only £1’ can quickly become ‘only a fiver’ and before you know it, that £20 note you broke into is all gone!

  6. Don’t be led by technology. Again, look at whether you need something, and the monetary repercussions of buying something new.
    e.g. Computers. You cannot completely future-proof your PC. Technology advances fast and eventually, your PC will be outdated. Opt for something that does what you need it to do--don't buy a gaming PC with a loads of memory, a meaty processor and incredible graphics if you only use your computer to check email and write letters.

  7. Get a loyalty card but don’t spend money solely to earn points. Loyalty cards can be a great way of earning yourself a little discount! They’re free to sign up for, all you do is hand your card over at the checkout. Shop as you would normally and watch those points add up! Sometimes loyalty card holders also get extra coupons and offers not available to other shoppers.

  8. Look out for free shipping deals. A number of online (and some high street) retailers offer free shipping with purchases over a certain amount, or for a set period. Leading up to Christmas, this is great if you plan to buy several gifts on one website.

  9. Join mailing lists for places you buy from to hear about the offers first—but don’t spend just because something is a bargain. Similarly to loyalty cards, mailing list recipients sometimes receive discount codes!

  10. Check voucher/discount/deals web sites and voucher codes!  If you’re looking to buy something online, it’s a good idea to have a quick search on a voucher code site to see if there are any offers that will shave a few pennies or pounds off your purchase!
    Free magazines from shops/supermarkets, including Christmas gift guides, can include vouchers and discount codes. Most of the vouchers in the picture above came from free magazines!

I am doing my Christmas shopping using the above tips. So far I have saved just over £50 thanks to free shipping, money off, coupons, voucher codes and special offers!

Great websites for money savers:
    • Hot UK Deals lists vouchers, deals and offers available in the UK
    • Voucher Codes (self explanatory)
    • Groupon provides daily deals on gifts, house wares, holidays, experiences etc. Includes local and national offers. (UK site | US site)
    • Wowcher is pretty much the same as Groupon
    • Good To Know has a whole section of their site dedicated to money saving tips and tricks, along with voucher codes.
    • Money Saving Expert has excellently researched information on topics ranging from mortgages and broadband to shopping and travel. And voucher codes.

And how would you like clothes for free?
Wouldn’t we all?!

  • Have a clothes-swap party with your friends and/or family. It’s a great way to get new things and any unwanted clothes could be donated to charity.

  • Alternatively, wait for a family member to clear out their wardrobe ;) Little sister #1 does this a lot, so I occasionally gain things from her! (My most recent hand-me-down haul comprised of four tops, two of them barely worn!)

  • Customise something that you don’t wear into something you will—if you try to only use things from your craft stash, this means free clothes! There are hundreds of clothes customisation tutorials on the internet; it’s just a case of checking Pinterest or Google to see what you find!

Of course, I’m not suggesting any of us turn into Ebenezer Scrooge or spend all our time cutting out coupons! But I’ve found these to be easy ways of saving some money and I hope you do, too! :)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Various Notes & Some Pictures

Since there are a few little bits and pieces to write about here, I thought I'd stick them all under the same post!

To start off, I had an email today from Amy at A Home, Made, who chose me as one of 14 to receive the Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks Amy! :)
Click the link to check out all the other blogs that Amy nominated!
I've already done the Versatile Blogger Award back in August but these things are always appreciated! :D
Since I'm lazy, here's August's post with some info and bloggers I passed the award on to.

Also popping into my inbox this week have been emails saying that a couple of my posts had been featured!

First off, my Pumpkin & Red Pepper Soup was featured by Mindie over at Bacon Time With The Hungry Hungry Hypo (best blog name ever!)
Then I found out that Mauren at Release Me Create featured my Display Case in her Top 5 Freshest Projects of the Week!

Thank you ladies! :)

I have been neglecting this blog a little recently, in favour of NaNoWriMo, which I wrote about at the end of last month. How is everyone doing with that?
I reached 50,000 words on the 9th, and finished my novel yesterday! Hence I am behind on everything but at least I'm finished. Now I can focus back on crafting and making Christmas presents!

Now here are a couple of pictures that I've been waiting to share!

Roses in one of the village cafes. This place has a true shabby chic feel to it and sells cute cakes!

Here is the ceiling, at the door:

I love it! This branch rests in a vase and is fixed to the wall and ceiling so it doesn't fall. I like that it gives the appearance of nature invading, or drinking tea outside rather than indoors.

And here's the tea :) I wanted to steal their table cloth!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

What I Wore...#5

Several days late with this post! NaNoWriMo has been far too much of a Wednesday night is when Kirstie's Handmade Britain is on (anyone else watch that?) so for an hour every Wednesday night I am glue to the television! Actually this Wednesday I was writing and watching Kirstie, so whilst my novel characters were faced with peril I was giggling at Kirstie's flower arranging mishap. Awesome show :)

But rambling aside, here are some outfits.
I was really lazy with dressing this week. Again starting with my favourite outfit.

Wednesday 9th November
Vest top (worn underneath): Jack Wills (hand-me-down from sister #1)
Jumper: Happit
Jeggings: George at Asda

The jumper from Happit was originally from Dorothy Perkins, I think (Happit sold their own goods but also sold ex stock from other shops). It's lovely and soft, and the perfect length for my taste! I bought one in grey, too, and looking back wish I'd bought more since they were only £4 each!

Moving on, here's the rest of the week:

Friday, 11 November 2011

Tutorial: Doily Phone Case

Following my doily display head, here comes another doily craft!

I wanted to make something useful, and since I upgraded my phone not too long ago, I needed a new phone cover! There are many available in the shops, but most fit permanently onto the phone--all I wanted was a little pouch to protect it when I'm carrying it in my bag or pocket.

This was simple to put together, so read on for a suits-all-phones tutorial!

Time needed: approx. 20-30 mins (excluding glue-drying time; longer if you screw up like I did first time around!)

You’ll need:
Your phone
Doily (or doilies)
Fabric glue
Sewing machine

1. Fold the interfacing in half and put your phone on top (fold at the bottom). Cut around it, leaving a couple of centimetres around the edge.
I cut two layers of sew-in interfacing since the fabric I chose was quite thin, and I didn’t have suitable iron-on interfacing!

2. Cut the same shape out of the fabric and lining. Iron the interfacing to the fabric if using the iron-on type.

3. Fold the fabric and interfacing around the phone, fabric on the inside, and pin up either side, leaving enough space to slide the phone out easily.

4. Sew the place you pinned and trim down the seams. Turn the case around the right way.

5. Decide the placement for the doily and glue on, following the instructions on the glue. I had to leave mine to dry for 30 minutes, which gave ample time to move on to the lining...

6. Follow steps 3-4 for the lining, but leave the little pouch with the seams on the outside rather than turning it the ‘right’ way.

7. Once the glue has dried on the outside of the case, slip the lining inside and fold over the top of the outer and lining inside. Pin down evenly.

8. This is the point where I bodged up multiple times! I had to unpick stitching so often that I almost had to start all over again! Sew along the top of the case to finish. Due to my bodge-job, I did two lines of stitching, but I think it looks okay!

My phone is nicely snug in its new case :) Now I can sling it in my bag and not worry about scratching up the screen. Whilst I use a screen protector and a plastic case, I feel it’s much better protected in a pouch.

What kind of phone do you guys use? Do you use a protective case, or do you keep the phone as it came out of the box? 

I made a sunglasses case to match this case; check back soon to see it!


Photography Challenge Week #16

I am so late with this one! Since the beginning of the month, I've been deeply engrossed in writing for NaNoWriMo and kind of forgot everything else. On the plus side, I've probably lost a few pounds from the junk food I've been too busy to eat ;)

Anyway, the theme for week 16 at the photography challenge over at A Step in the Journey was something you made.

Here's my shot, which doubles up as a teaser for the next tutorial I'll be posting!

Phone case

I don't have anything constructive to say about this week! There were plenty of things I could have photographed but some have already made an appearance here and others would have taken a lot of effort to unpack and set up for photographing. 
So you get a sneaky peek at my phone case instead :)

Will probably post the tutorial a little later. The 'What I Wore' post that was missing on Wednesday will probably go up tomorrow...provided that novel doesn't take over my life again!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Display Case and Assemblage

Okay so this is something I’ve wanted to share for a while, but with so many other little projects going on, this one got pushed back again and again. Luckily it’s turned into a handy little post to fall back on whilst I’m up to my eyeballs with volunteering and writing for NaNoWriMo. (I only wrote 2,000 words today, which is appalling compared to the first few days!)

So! A few weeks ago I yielded this awesome display case from a local charity shop, for the princely sum of £1.50. I took it home, intending to fill it with Stuff:

At first, I decided to opt for a natural, autumnal look. I braved the breeze and headed out into the back garden to grab what bits and pieces nature had to offer.
I also threw in some beads and cord, and some pine cones and conkers that I’d picked up on the way home.

And I ended up with this:

I opted not to use the feather or the green beads for this one. Neither quite fit: the feather didn’t match the ‘flora’ theme and the green beads were too bright. The green from the tree would go brown over time and still fit in with the rest of the contents.

Or would have done, had I not decided I didn’t like it enough and turfed it all out again!

Next I came up with this one, which I think is my favourite:

For this I used all the old cottons and scissors from the vintage sewing box I blogged about a while ago, along with some cardboard reels of cotton from a pound shop sewing kit.
Didn’t realise until editing the pictures that one of the thimbles slipped out of place...

Anyway. Again(!) I had the urge to switch everything around. I was really doing a lot of playing about with this case. Back in school I loved when we did an ‘assemblage’ project and remembering this I became desperate to make lots of little displays!

Here’s the final one I made, using a ‘metallics’ theme:

This display was probably the most fun, since I got to throw in lots of interesting objects I had floating around! 

I may end up staining the wood a darker colour, since I think dark wood gives more of a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ feel, which is what I’m after!

For now, here is one final assemblage I put together. It lies beyond this box…

Just a plain old cigarette box, bought from a charity shop, right?
Open the lid, and you have this:

This happened of its own accord really! I’d been planning to use the box for assemblage and had been keeping things in it that I’d use. I began to line up the little bottles and the corks, then threw in some tiny crystals. Suddenly my little box had a jewelled beach-like theme! For good measure, I filled the clear bottle with more crystals.

Putting together a neat-looking display in a case or box is easy. It’s basically home décor on a tiny scale! So long as you take into account colour, size, shape and theme, you’re all good!

I haven’t decided upon a permanent theme for the display case yet. Since I don’t have my own mantel to decorate, the case might become my answer to that! 

Now over to you. What do you think is integral to creating an interesting and eye-catching display? 
Do you have a particular way you like to display things?

Linking up along with all the creative people at the link parties listed in the side bar! :)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Photography Challenge Week #15

Just a quick little post this week, since NaNoWriMo is calling!

The theme for week 15 of the photography challenge at A Step in the Journey was your shoes.

I love shoes, and was looking forward to the theme, filled with ideas...then I forgot all about it until this morning, when Laura Beth's reminder email popped up in my inbox. Oops.

Anyway. 'Let's get some shoes. Let's party.'

Sorry, couldn't help the Kelly quote!

What I Wore... #4

Eek, okay, so I nearly forgot about this today!

Aside from a couple of lazy days, I think I did well this week. I broke out some old clothes that I'd previously customised or made, and also wore some of the jewellery I've posted tutes for in the past!

As a change from the past couple of weeks, I'm going to put my favourite outfit of the week first.

Of course, me being me, that would be what I wore on Halloween...

Monday 31st October
Jacket: Can't remember
Shirt: New Look
Jabot: Handmade
Corset: Corsets Boulevard on ebay (cheap but excellent quality)
Skirt: Ebay
Boots: Pleaser
Earrings: H&M, customised
Rings: Octopus/MK One/random shop in Looe

No closeup of the rings because I forgot. I love this skirt, because it's so unusual--obviously handmade. It's a little big on me so I don't wear it often. What's super about this skirt is that the eyes glow in the dark!

The rest of the week I'll put in chronological order. Here comes another outfit I quite like, though the picture isn't that good ):

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Animal Hood

So yesterday evening, I heard about the 'Pinterest Challenge' over at Young House Love. (I read about it on A Step  in the Journey, a blog totally worth following!) The idea is basically to stop just pinning stuff and actually make some.

After popping over and reading about it, I thought, 'Awesome idea, I should participate!'

Then I realised when the creators of the challenge were posting the fruits of their labour, and the link party: today.

'Eek!' went I. But I'd already decided to do it. I trawled all the lovely things I've pinned in search of something I can make in a day. And I refound this, which I pinned just recently:

(I don't know why that source link won't centre. Blogger doesn't like me right now.)

I love the original, the moment I saw it I thought, "I have to make one!" (or two or three...). Then I did that naughty thing: I pinned it and did nothing.

Cue today, I abandoned all thought of NaNoWriMo, dragged out some fabrics and got sewing!
So here is mine:

This was a great stash-busting project as I was able to break into some of my huge collection of fabrics! I've had the fake fur for years--I bought it from Trago Mills whilst on holiday and (since it was cheap) bought rather a lot. I don't even remember why I thought I'd need that much; so far it's made two furry claw scarves, the above hood, some cat ear hair clips and been used to customise a jumper. And there's still some left! The gingham was originally destined to be a skirt or dress, but I never got around to making it, and the vinyl is leftover from a costume.

I had a few issues with the pockets! They ended up pretty deep...which is okay for me, since I have long fingers and long arms, and like to bury my hands right inside pockets :)

Wish I'd heard of the Pinterest Challenge sooner, it would have been fun to get more crafts done!

Anyway. The lovely people that came up with the challenge have made some fantastic stuff. Check out their posts here:
Young House Love
Bower Power
Ana White
House of Earnest

Now I suppose I should get on with NaNoWriMo...
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