Monday, 16 October 2017

Gift Wrapping from Your Garden: Lavender, Hydrangeas & Leaves

My gift-wrapping series continues with three ideas for decorating your gifts with bits and pieces from your garden. You've got to take care when transporting gifts topped with cuttings, to ensure they don't get damaged, but it'll be worth it for the "oooh!"s they elicit.

Lavender & Washi Tape. 

If you've got a lavender bush in your garden, you'll know you end up with a lot of cuttings when you trim it at the end of summer! Dried lavender smells amazing and the stems look lovely... so why not use them to decorate your gifts?

I rescued some stems from last year's cuttings pile and trimmed them with scissors, laying them out across the parcels to plan my arrangement.

Tear strips of washi tape (I used a lovely pink polkadot design) and stick them to the parcel at various angles - leaving space to add the final piece of tape in a moment.

Arrange the lavender pieces, then carefully stick down the final piece of tape, pressing the tape flush around the stems to hold them firmly in place.


I have been slightly obsessed with hydrangeas lately (I blame Instagram, honestly). My mum's hydrangeas were such an eye-popping bright pink at the height of summer, then faded into these irresistibly lovely, soft tones. You could use a clipping from a hydrangea bush for gift-wrapping during the summer, of course, but I think this is a great way to make the most of your hydrangeas in autumn, when the blooms are beginning to fade but still have a lot of charm to them.

One hydrangea bloom makes for a spectacular gift topper. Cut a smallish bloom (one that you can lay on its side) with a few inches of stem. Position it on your parcel and stick it in place with a couple of strips of pretty washi tape. Super easy, but really rather gorgeous. I think the faded tones look particularly lovely with the brown paper I like to use for my gift wrapping.

You can also use the larger blooms as gift toppers - they look amaaaaazing.


To make use of one of the larger blooms, you'll need to cut the stem short so it will sit flat on top of the parcel. Cut two long pieces of bakers twine (or other string, narrow ribbon, etc). Tie the pieces of twine to the top of the hydrangea stem, at right angles from each other (the way hydrangea flowers grow out from the main stem makes it very easy to secure the twine). Place the bloom in the centre of the parcel and wrap the four ends of the wind around, knotting them securely underneath, then trim any excess twine.

Tip: set the parcel on its side as you tie the knots underneath, so you can keep two hands free for the knots and not squish the hydrangea beneath the parcel. Alternatively, get someone else to help out and hold the parcel as you secure the twine.

Painted Leaves. 

My third nature-inspired gift wrapping project is all about leaves.

I love the texture of these leaves and the contrast of the crisp white shapes against the brown paper - though you can, of course, use any colour paint you want. You could also paint several smaller leaves and arrange them in a row, or use a marker to carefully write a message or name on the painted leaf like a tag.

I used white acrylic craft paint to paint my leaves. I painted several coats on each side, leaving the leaves to dry between coats. The paint helps the leaves keep their shape but they're still quite delicate, so take care when working with them!

Position the leaves on top of your parcels and attach them by wrapping round and round with white sewing thread, creating a subtle stripey effect. For leaves without stems, you could alternatively use double-sided tape or craft glue to attach the leaves - but bear in mind the leaf's 3D shape will mean only parts of the leaf will be touching the paper, so make sure to add your adhesive at those points.

Psst! You'll find lots more creative gift wrapping ideas in my archive of free crafty tutorials (scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find card and gift wrap ideas below the Christmas tutorials).

Sunday, 15 October 2017

More Decluttering = More Stuff for Sale!

I've added a few more things to my Instagram sale, including...

... a white perspex bird brooch:

... a gigantic (25cm) wooden button (actually a trivet / cheese board, but I think this would also make fab craft room decor):

... and some felt mice and cheese brooches:

There are also lots of craft supplies still available...

... plus some craft books...

... and some decorative bits and bobs as well.

Click here to see all the available listings, with more info and photos

You can leave a comment on an item to claim it, but if you don't use Instagram don't worry! If you see things you want to purchase, just send me a message via my contact form to let me know what you're interested in.

I've listed the price and UK postage of each item, but I'll combine the postage for each parcel and only charge what it actually costs to post (in the UK you can send a shoebox sized parcel weighing up to 2 kilos second class for just £2.90).

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

August & September in Pictures: Colourful Threads, a Happy Cat and a Tricky Selfie

Time to look back at some of the stuff I got up to in August and September!

My August involved colourful threads (shout out to Instagram genius Sara Tasker of Me & Orla and her put-your-phone-in-your-teeth-and-take-a-photo-with-the-timer photo technique - a bit awkward, but you can't argue with the results!)...


... and more muted ones, as I started to dream about Autumn.

I bought lots of books (it's awesome living in a town with a bookshop again, but not so great for my bank balance)...

... ooohed over some rather fabulous scaffolding...

and went on a photo walk organised by Instagramers Bristol (super fun!).

I blogged about the books I've been reading and finally had an excuse to share this deliciously yellow pic from the spring (the Boston Tea Party breakfast was just as delicious as that yellow looks!)...

... revealed August's slightly over-the-top wreath design for A Year of Wreaths (ice cream! and sparkles! and hearts! and emojis! oh my!)...

... and hung out with this fella, who was very happy to finally be exploring his new garden after weeks of stress, travel, and being kept indoors because of my parents cross-country move (just look at his little face!).

September started with a messy desk, as I worked on some projects for the Village Haberdashery.

I totally fell in love with the colours of these cards & envelopes from their shop, while working on some paper crafting projects. Aren't they just dreamy?

I shared some of the very many photos I took of the gorgeous branch of VV Rouleaux that opened recently in Bath (so much colour, oh my goodness)...


... blogged about a very fancy, very exciting trip to Bristol...

... and bought a whole bunch of nostalgic stamps for my letters.

I laughed myself silly trying to take photos of myself modelling the owl mask from my latest tutorial - it turns out it's very difficult taking selfies when you can't see your phone cos you're not wearing your glasses!

Oh, and - as if one themed Instagram account wasn't enough - I decided to start a new Instagram account for sharing the photos I take on my day trips to (wonderful) Bristol: Bristol My Beating Heart (and yes, I am very proud of that pun, thank you).

For more colourful, crafty updates you can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.     

Monday, 9 October 2017

Crafty Gift Wrapping Ideas: Pompoms, Buttons, Feathers & Beads

Last year I set myself a (perhaps slightly overambitious) creative challenge: to come up with 100 creative gift wrapping ideas. I managed the first ten quite quickly in a flurry of enthusiasm... then I packed up all my stuff and moved across the country and got busy with home renovations and completely forgot about my challenge! Oops.

Back when I started the challenge I'd thought "I'll just do this as an Instagram thing! Have some fun, take some pictures, maybe do some quick round-up blog posts! I won't worry about blogging about it properly!"... but you know, looking back at it, I'm annoyed that I didn't take a bit of extra time to blog about it properly. Instagram and Twitter and so on can be a lot of fun, but they're so fleeting.

(I've been doing monthly(ish) blog posts featuring my Instagram pics for this very reason - it's fun sharing photos on Instagram, etc, but blogging about them feels a bit more permanent, like putting photos in an album, something to look back on in future years).

So, I'm finally going to start blogging about this project properly! I've got last year's ideas to catch up on and then I'll blog about the remaining 90 (!!) ideas sporadically, as and when I get round to, you know, actually coming up with them (this may take me a while).

To kick things off, here's four ways you can use crafty supplies to jazz up your gift wrapping. I like to use brown paper for wrapping my gifts as it makes a nice simple base onto which you can put as much colour and general loveliness as you want, but you guys can (of course) use any gift wrap you fancy as your "base" to start with...


Pompoms are awesome: so colourful, so fluffy, so fun! You can buy big bags of these from the kids section of craft shops, in loads of great colours.

Brown paper parcels decorated with colourful pompoms

Three large pompoms in a row look great, and just one large pompom would look great stuck to a small gift. With smaller pompoms you can arrange them in a colourful line across your parcel or stick them at random.

I just stuck pompoms to the top of my parcels, but you could stick them on the sides as well for ultimate fluffiness.

Brown paper parcels decorated with colourful pompoms

I used double-sided sticky tape to attach my pompoms to the paper. Double-sided tape is easy to use (stick the tape to the paper then the pompom on top) but it doesn't hold the pompoms very firmly - it'd be fine if, say, you were wrapping a gift and putting it on the breakfast table to be opened on a birthday morning, but not great if you were carrying a parcel to a birthday party and lost a bunch of pompoms along the way!

For a firmer hold, you can use craft glue but remember that wet glue might seep through the paper, so only use it for packages in boxes or ones wrapped in plastic (e.g. some bubblewrap) so the item inside won't get damaged.

You could also make a string of pompoms to wrap around your gift (see the bottom right of the photos, above). Use a large, sharp sewing needle to thread lots of pompoms on a piece of embroidery thread then wrap the thread round and round the parcel, positioning the pompoms nicely. I secured the ends of my thread with pieces of sticky tape.


This wrapping idea is super colourful, and the gift wrapping is actually a second (small) gift, as the beads can be kept and re-used once the parcel is opened. I used some gorgeous painted wooden beads, but bright plastic ones would look awesome too. 

A brown paper parcel wrapped with yarn and colourful wooden beads

String lots of large beads onto a long piece of yarn - yarn is perfect for this as the fibres help keep the beads in place. I love this extra fluffy yarn, it's a great colour and the fluffiness adds another interesting texture to the parcel. If you don't knit, you could use string or embroidery thread instead... or just ask a knitter you know if they have any leftover bits of yarn going spare!

To decorate the gift, secure one end of the yarn to the bottom of the parcel with a piece of tape then wind it round and round and round - positioning the beads so they sit along the top of the parcel only. Once you're happy with how it looks, cut the yarn and secure the end underneath the parcel with another piece of tape.


This is a great way to wrap a gift for a crafty friend - you can never have too many buttons, right??

Button gift wrapped parcels surrounded by lots of buttons

Plastic buttons stick brilliantly with double sided tape. You could stick them at random across the parcel, or stick them in a row down the centre (like the row of pompoms).

For a really fancy look, mark out simple designs with small buttons (or big buttons on a large parcel). I chose a heart, but initials would also look great. Plan the button arrangement first, laying them out on your desk or a piece of paper then transferring them one by one to the top of the parcel and sticking them in place.

The double sided tape will leave a slightly sticky residue on the buttons, but they can easily be cleaned then re-used for more gift wrapping or other crafty projects.


Another kids craft favourite, bright feathers are great for quick, easy, colourful gift wrapping. This idea definitely works best with a totally flat surface to work with, like a book or a gift in a box.

A brown paper parcel decorated with a rainbow of bright feathers

Use a dab of craft glue to hold each feather in place - remember that the glue could seep through the paper so use this for a gifts in boxes or wrapped in plastic (bubblewrap, etc) so they won't get damaged by the glue.

I arranged my bright feathers in colour order but you could choose feathers that are all the same colour to co-ordinate with colourful gift wrap, or mix and match colours. The bigger your parcel, of course, the more feathers you can add.

Want more crafty gift wrapping ideas?  Check out my archive of free crafty tutorials (scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find card and gift wrap ideas below the Christmas tutorials).

Friday, 6 October 2017

Childhood Treasures: Handmade Dolls Clothes

When my mother was a little girl, she had two special dolls: Chloe and Emily. Chloe was bought for my mum, and Emily had been my grandmother's doll when she was a little girl. Later they were both passed down to me and my sisters, and we played with them and dressed them in a lot of the same clothes my mother and grandmother had.

We were sorting through a box of old dolls clothes and other bits and bobs recently (deciding what to keep for my niece and nephew to play with, what to send to the charity shop, and so on) and I couldn't resist taking some photos of the loveliest handmade things to share with you guys!

My grandmother made this dress for Emily, using off-cuts from the outfits she made for my mum and her brother. "I had shorts and a blouse in that fabric", my mum says.  Aren't those tiny pockets adorable? You've got to love a dress with pockets.

Then here's Emily's silky pajamas, complete with pretty lace trim. I have very vivid memories of dressing Emily in these pajamas to "put her to bed" at night!

As well as Chloe and Emily, my mum had a few other smaller dolls which didn't survive to be passed down to us - but their clothes lasted and we used them to dress our modern plastic dolls.

My grandmother made this dress (with pockets and super cute piping details) for a doll my mother's aunt sent her from Canada. 

This outfit belonged to the same doll, but my mum isn't sure if it's one of her mother's creations. She remembers having some clothes in a very similar fabric as a kid, though, so chances are these were sewn by my grandmother from more dressmaking offcuts.

These clothes were sewn by my grandmother from a kit, for another small doll. Maybe someone in your family bought the same kit and stitched these, too?

Chloe had some handmade dresses too, of course!
A pretty yellow dress and matching knickers (love that collar)...

... and a floral print dress, with a stylish waistband:

When I was a baby, my mum knitted me this cardigan and matching hat, mittens and booties... and when I outgrew them, they were inherited by Chloe! I spent many happy hours dressing Chloe in these, buttoning and unbuttoning those buttons to get her ready for all kinds of adventures.

Finally, what did Chloe wear when we tucked her in at night? Not a chic pair of pajamas like Emily, but a sweet floral nightdress.

My mum took Chloe with her to boarding school - she had a homemade nightie in this floral fabric and a matching blue dressing gown, so my grandmother made a matching set for Chloe! How adorable is that?

Fancy reading about more of my childhood treasures? I've also blogged about Sylvanian Families (and the handmade furniture and other things we made for them as kids), my shell collection, my badge collection, my sticker album, my eraser collection, Fuzzy Felt, Keypers, lots of puzzles and games, some of my most beloved childhood books, and a bear I stitched for my sister when I was eight.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A (Quick!) Trip to Burnham-on-Sea

Yesterday we spent a couple of hours in Burnham-on-Sea, which is just down the coast from my new seaside hometown.


We walked along the esplanade (it was quite windy, but we're used to that in Weston!), browsed the local charity shops, had a very tasty lunch (with some seriously delicious chips) in a local cafe then headed homewards. Not exactly the world's longest Nice Day Out but a fun one all the same.


I think I'm starting to develop a bit of a "thing" for seaside towns.

The wide open space of the beaches! The bright colours of ice cream shops and amusement arcades and stalls selling buckets & spades! The faded loveliness of Victorian streetlamps and shelters! The wonderfully worn surfaces from all that wind and salt water! The mid-season buzz and the off-season quiet!

I particularly loved this wall...

... the gorgeous turquoise blue of the lamps in this little park...

... and the little boats in these windows (plus the fact that houses in Burnham-on-Sea appear to have eyebrows!).