A different creative project each week…from children's parties to sewing curtains

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Fabric Notice Board

Fabric notice board

This is a cheap and quick way to make an attractive notice board. 

You will need:
a sheet of wadding
a piece of fabric 
a canvas board (or a sheet of MDF)
some buttons
a staplegun or tacs 
some fabric tape


I began by cutting my wadding to the same size as my board, then my fabric slightly larger. My canvas isn't very deep, but you must ensure that when pulled tight can stretch around all sides to the back and be pinned easily.

I then tacked the corners over the wadding and the board and once all four corners were tacked I then did the sides. At this point my husband suggested I use a staple gun instead, which actually would have been a much easier way of securing the fabric.

Here is the finished corner. By folding the corners in first you are able to achieve a much cleaner line.

If you have too much fabric then you can trim it off or tuck it under to neaten it up. This is not essential and no-one will see it anyway!

Now you are ready to start laying on the fabric tape. I measured out the gaps I wanted between my tape and pinned the tape in place along the back rim of the canvas.

You can see I have gone diagonally, but I have seen lots of horizontal and vertical ones which work just as well and are probably easier to align.

By pinning the tape tightly you achieve a more luxurious feel to your board, especially when you go to put the buttons on.
Once all the tape is in place you can decorate your board. You may want to leave it plain or you can sew buttons through the tape. 

I used a thick cotton thread and a large needle to thread through the canvas, wadding, material and tape to sew these buttons on. It is much easier than it sounds and personally I think it is the buttons which make the whole thing look finished.

If you don't want to sew you can easily glue-gun the buttons on, though it doesn't give the same puffed out look that sewing creates.

This project took me less than an hour, and it would have taken even less had I listened to my husband and used a staple-gun!

If you are interested in coming to a class to make one of these then please let me know as we will be running a session in the next few months.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Children's Crayon Case

This is an idea I have seen in lots of craft fairs and it is something I have often thought is relatively easy and yet they seem particularly over priced.

In this weeks blog I am showing you how easy it is to make this simple roll up crayon case for a handbag which promises to keep the children happy for hours.

If you are not a needleworker but want to have a go, this is a really simple project to start with, and cost under £1.50 in materials.

Firstly I found this delightful piece of material, cut it (23cm-19cm) then folded each edge under and sewed it onto some felt leaving a small margin of felt around the outside.Once you have hemmed around the edge, turn it over and fold up one side 7cms and sew down the sides over the top of the hems you already sewed.

Most fabric shops will sell fabric in 10cm lengths. You can pick up some delightful pieces of material, I particularly like Lexi Loves and their beautiful range.

Depending on how thick your crayons are mark out with pins the sections you want. It is worth using the crayons to fit into pocket so you can see exactly how much space each one will need. Once you have done this make sure they are equal, then turn the whole thing over and use the pins you are already using to fix a length of ribbon to the back.

My mistake was not putting the ribbon down the centre of the back, instead I put it across the middle of the pocket section.

Turn it back over and sew from the bottom of the pocket to the top of the pocket along the pinned lines. Do make sure you only sew the ribbon on two of the lines (you may need to fold the ribbon away whilst sewing the rest of the lines.

And so here is the finished product. It rolls up and ties up for easy access and looks really cute. The children have been quite taken with it, and in terms of an easy project this is definitely it!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Springtime Wreath

Springtime Wreath

I am a big fan of Christmas and almost everything that goes with it, so I was quite sad to take down our Christmas wreath which has decorated the front door so beautifully for the last month or two.

As the front door now looks so plain I decided to make a springtime wreath to welcome anyone who braves coming into our mad house!
This is a fun, and relatively easy project for you to do with school age children (my girls are 6 and 7 and enjoyed helping) or on your own!

I used a polystyrene ring that I bought for £1.39 at Craft Mill, a glue-gun and felt sheets.

I cut out circles of the felt (approx. 10cm diameter) and then cut a spiral into the middle leaving a small circle shape in the middle. This cut does not have to be accurate, and you can vary the size of the roses by cutting the spiral tighter to make a wider rose.

Now you roll the outside of the spiral round and round until you reach the centre when you should have a small circle of felt left to glue onto the bottom of the rose. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a small dap of glue held the whole rose in place.

Then, on the bottom of the rose I put another dap of glue and stuck it onto my polystyrene wreath. This process is relatively easy, and apart from the glue-gun was perfect for the children (and some of my willing visitors) to pick up. What is time consuming is to complete the large number of roses you need to cover the wreath. This is a 25cm wide wreath and it has just over 100 roses on it. There are ways to decrease this number, namely doing bigger roses, which you do with larger circles of felt.

My final tip is to build up your wreath by adding the same colour rose to different parts of the wreath. This has the massive benefit of knowing your wreath is well balanced with the colours you have chosen.
This is my finished Springtime Wreath, and here are two others that were much less time consuming to make. One is made out of wool that I wrapped around the wreath. It took 5 minutes to make and needed no gluing. And the other wreath is my Autumn Wreath which I made from strips of felt that I overlapped and stuck onto the back of the polystyrene wreath - this one took about an hour.

This post is dedicated to my good friend, and the inspiration behind this post - Cathy Hodges!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Crayon Art

This was one of the most fun projects I have ever done and so I consequently made three! In fact, when I say 'I', I really mean my children, because they were so impressed that they wanted to do it!

Here is how I made this piece of art...

I bought this long canvas from The Works for £1.99, and using a pack of crayons that I had in the back of a draw set about creating some art!

Firstly I laid all the colours out across the top of the canvas to make sure I had enough. I wanted the colours to blend into each other, so  I worked through the colours of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

Whilst I am pleased with how mine has turned out, with subsequent canvas's I didn't keep the colours in this order (see below) and the effect is just as dramatic.

Once I had ordered the crayons I glued them onto the edge of the canvas with a glue gun. The children helped me with every other part of this project, but due to the heat of the gun I insisted on doing this part.

You can see here that I am gluing along the edge of the crayon rather than gluing the canvas.

Now we are ready for the fun part.

I covered the floor (and the walls need covering too), and let the children loose with my hairdryer.

It was set on a hot, but slow speed, and after 30 seconds of the heat being applied to the crayons they begin to melt. I encouraged the children to concentrate on one area of crayons at a time.

You can do this on a short canvas or a long one, and in order to make the crayons drip further you just keep the heat on longer. Once you want the drips to stop you simply remove the heat from the crayons.

I do have to warn you that they can splatter onto the surrounding area and so it is important that you cover the area. I used a bin liner.

This was one of the most fun projects I have ever done with the children. It completely grasped their imaginations and they had so much fun 'melting' things.

Friday, 11 January 2013

First Aid Pouch

These are the confessions of a terrible mother: My sweet girl Jessie ran eagerly out of school on Monday only to trip and fall cutting her hand. I offered her cuddles and kisses but the only thing that was going to comfort her was a plaster (Band-aid for you Americans) to stop the gush (ok, slight exageration) of blood.

It was as if she knew that this was the one thing I couldn't provide, and so sheepishly I made my way over to a much better mother than me and begged and borrowed a plaster from her. Drama over!

In the mean time I decided not to get caught out again and make a little pouch to keep in my handbag with plasters, Calpol and anything else a small child might suddenly need. Here is how I did it.

Here you can see I have cut out a rectangle of fabric 20cm-25cms and a 18cm-23cm piece of felt. Felt is an easy fabric to use as backing as it makes the fabric feel more luxurious and it doesn't fray.
I cut out a small emergency cross from white and red felt that I tacked onto the fabric layer 4cm from the top with white embroidery thread. You could use any design on the front of your bag - glasses for a glasses case, coins for a purse etc.

I have never sewed a zip before and was interested to see how it would go. I tucked under the top 1cm of the bag and pinned it to the top of the felt and to one side of the zip (see picture), and then used my sewing machine to sew the whole length - you could easily hand sew this instead.

Then fold the felt up to the zip and then the fabric. You will need to fold under the spare 1cm of fabric under the felt and pin it to the other side of the open zip. Then with a little bit of sewing machine gymnastics (or you can hand sew) join the three layers up. This was the trickiest part, and I now understand why zips are longer then they need to be as it allows the sewer to flexibly move the machine around the zip.

Finally sew down the sides and cut of the extra felt. You can do this as I did by folding the fabric under itself and sewing down the sides, or you could flip the whole lot inside out, sew it either side and then turn it out.

Either way, I am sure you will have lots of fun, and the possibilities are endless for creating lovely little bags for you or presents for your friends.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Ruth's Ruffled Birthday Cake

I am reluctantly posting my first weeks challenge...decorating a cake for my dear friend Ruth.

I am only reluctant because I do not want you to think this is a blog just about cakes, instead it is about a different creative challenge each week.

However I had no say in when Ruth was born, and so here is my offering for this week. All that said I had lots of fun learning to make this cake and I am quite pleased with the final piece.

Here is how I made it...

Ruth is rather keen on white chocolate and so I surfed the net and found an achievable recipe from Nigella Lawson called White Chocolate Mud Cake and set to make four round sponges.  Whilst nigella's recipe is divine, this could just have easily been made with regular sponge cakes and butter icing.
The four cakes are piled high layered with raspberry jam and then covered over with Nigella's sticky white chocolate ganache.

I am sure this cake would not be as dramatic if the cake was not so tall, so four layers works well.

You can see my white plate on this photo. It is actually an icing turn-table which I purchased at The Works for a few pounds. It not only lends itself to easy icing, but also doubles up as a good presentation plate.

I used a pack of white roll out icing that I divided into six equal sizes and coloured varying shades of purple leaving one block totally white.

Then I rolled out each shade and cut into two long strips. Then using my thumb and finger pinched down one of the sides making the ruffled effect you can see in the second photo.

Now that the icing is ruffled I slowly stuck them onto the sticky ganache which acts as glue. I started at the bottom with the darker coloured icing and worked round and round the cake. The cake is finally finished at the top with a round piece of icing that is slightly larger than the cake that I pinch around to give another ruffled layer and fed over the top of the cake to cover the top layer of icing.

This was the first time I have tried this, and it took me 40 minutes to dye all the icing and decorate the entire cake, which isn't long at all.

I like the fact that you don't have to be too precise in order to get quite a dramatic effect.

Definitely one to try at home and let me know how you get on...

Happy Birthday lovely Ruth!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Jack's Pirate Party

Our youngest son, Jack, was five last month. He wanted to celebrate with the boys from his class by having a pirate party.

I sent out these pirate masks as invites for the 15 boys. I bought the masks in a pound shop (8 for £1) and wrote the details on the back and it meant the children had something to wear to the party if they didn't already have a pirate costume.

We played loads of games including the treasure hunt. I was not convinced that 4 and 5 year old boys would have the patience to participate in a detailed treasure hunt, so instead I drew a picture of the room we were in and cut up the map into 20 pieces that I hid around the room. The children played a game to find all the pieces and as they did our older children put together the puzzle to reveal where the treasure was.

Here is Jack with his Chocolate Pirate Cake. I made it with two chocolate loaf tin cakes which I glued together with chocolate butter icing. I then carved out the shape of a boat and used the left over cake to build up the top deck at the front and back of the boat. 

I covered the entire cake with more chocolate butter icing and then rolled out a huge sheet of chocolate brown roll-out icing (you can buy from any good cake decorating shop) and laid it over the cake. Slowly I pinched in the front and back of the ship and moulded the icing to look like a ship. I used the same chocolate roll-out icing to make the deck rails and the port holes.

Then I laid the whole ship on a plate covered with blue butter icing. Where my edges on the bottom of the cake are not so clean I simply covered up with waves of the blue icing! Finally the sails are made from paper and cooking rods, with a little plastic figure to set the cake off!

I tried to make these cupcakes into mini sailing ships. I used cake-pop sticks and drew this simple scull and cross bones on some black paper to make the sails.

This is the the boys enjoying their 'grog' (Ribena in J20 bottles that I recycle for every party!)
These are marshmallows that I dipped in Candy Melts (Hobbycraft for £2.99 a bag) and drew on pirate details with a black icing pen. They went down a treat!