Monday, 31 December 2012

DIY photo frame upcycle

I'm really excited to have written my first ever guest post, do pop over to claireabellemakes to have a look at my easy photo frame upcycle.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Reflections on 2012

Back in January I made some resolutions for the year ahead, how did I get on?

1) Apply for a shop window exhibition with Changing Spaces -  Well 2012 was the year that crafting took over my life while painting only got a very small look in. I've barely picked up my paint brushes in the past 12 months but I did get some new brushes for Christmas so no excuses for 2013. While I didn't apply for an exhibition space I did set up my Etsy shop and even made my first sales.  

2) Hold my shop window exhibition and host a private view
- Since I didn't hold an exhibition I couldn't really have a private view, but a private it view is just an excuse for a party, right? So with a rather tenuous link, in August I joined the Etsy craft party and met some brilliant local crafty people. We had drinks and nibbles and got creative, even better than a private view.

2) Blog more often - I definitely did this!!! It took a few months to get going but I certainly picked up the pace in 2012. My blog moved house in June  and I actually began to share it with other people. I started to get a better grasp of how Twitter works and I have enjoyed meeting some of my Twitter friends in real life.

4) Reach 100 ‘likes’ on facebook
- Erm...not quite, I haven't been very good at sharing or using my facebook page and have instead focused on Twitter but if you'd like to help me out in that respect pop on over.

5) Visit an exhibition or craft fair at least once a month for a boost of inspiration and motivation - Probably not, but then I wasn't keeping a very good record. An improvement on the previous year though. I went to the wonderful David Hockney exhibition in April and blogged about it here. I also visited lots of Open Studios and managed a few craft fairs. 

craftypainter: 2012 highlights

Other things that happened in no particular order, some crafty and some not....
  • I joined a brand new WI group in Cambridge and then went even further and joined the Committee taking over the blog for Cam City WI. I was really nervous about going along to the first open meeting but I'm so glad I did, it's been a great way to meet lots of new people. 
  • I reached my 50 runs at Cambridge parkrun and was rewarded with my wonderful 50 club t-shirt. Also on running, I ran 201.2km during March to raise money for the NSPCC. I've been taking things pretty easy over the past few months but am looking forward to gearing up for half-marathon training in the new year. 
  • I finally finished the year long project of re-upholstering two 1960's Parker Knoll arm chairs, see how they turned out!!
  • I held my first ever giveaway to celebrate the new Make and Craft Magazine
  • I entered my first craft swap.
  •  I joined Pinterest and Hellocotton (perfect ways to lose an entire evening!)
What was your highlight of 2012? 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Crafting with Ro

Some weeks ago now, I spent a Saturday afternoon with my friend Ro. Usually this means an exhausting day of shopping but this time we decided on a quieter afternoon of crafting and tea drinking. First of Ro gave me a needle-felted owl decoration made in my favourite colours. 

I hadn't even heard of needle felting until I discovered the wonderful blog of Mrs Plop. I love trying new crafts and like to work out how things are made so that I can have a go myself, but I had no idea how needle-felting worked. Ro gave me a quick demo with the most vicious looking needle I have ever seen (a slightly serrated triple pronged scary thing) and then I had a go myself.

You start with a piece of felting fleece and roll it into a very basic shape, you then stab it repeatedly with the scary needle which binds the fibres together. Somehow I managed not to injure myself and I made this cute robin. Not quite in the same league as Mrs Plop, but I'm pretty pleased with my first attempt.
Ro was on a mission to use up fabric scraps from her stash and set to work making a quilt while I drank lots of tea and admired the handy work. By the end of the afternoon Ro was well on the way to having completed three squares and by the time I got home she had finished nine!
I'm in the processes of saving up pieces of my favourite fabrics from my stash to make my first ever quilt and I really love the design that Ro chose as it's a great way to use up thin strips of fabric and the colours are wonderful!

Here is Ro's finished quilt!

Have you discovered any new crafts recently?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Crafty Creatives Box 5

Hurrah it's that time again when the Crafty Creatives box arrives on our doorsteps (or rather in my case at the local sorting office!). This month I've tried to get stuck in straight away to show you my makes from the box rather than just talking about the contents. I hope you find some of these ideas useful!

cratypainter: Crafty Creatives art card
Here's a quick breakdown of the Nostalgic theme box contents (the art card this month has a beautiful illustration by Jo Askey):
  • The kit: a crochet mouse
  • Printed fabric
  • 1.5m festive ribbon
  • Vintage style Alice in Wonderland postcard
  • Jingle bells
  • 3 carousel pendants
  • Mini tea cup and saucer
  • 2 card layers
  • 2 wreath rings
  • Wooden girl and bunny
  • Edging scissors
  • Bunch of cinnamon sticks
  • Sheet of Christmas scraps
First up I got started on the mini wreath rings, using just thin strips of fabric about an inch wide I got wrapping, once I had wrapped all the way around I tied some ribbon tightly to hold in place, adding the carousel charms and finishing off with a bow. 

craftypainter: mini Christmas wreaths
Next I used some of the Christmas ribbon to make these festive gift tags. The strips are glued onto ready-made plain tags using the wonderful Fabri-tac glue from Box 1 (actually I'm on my third bottle already). Once dry the ends are snipped off and the glue prevents any fraying.

craftypainter: Christmas gift tags

I glued the cup and saucer together to make a cute little charm (I just need to get my hands on a simple silver bracelet to attach it to).

craftypainter: tea cup charm

And then I got started on the crochet mouse, perfect activity for my day off when I needed some distracting. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster, I think the instructions were written in US terms and I've only used British but once converted it was really straight forward, here he is with the Candy cat. 

craftypainter: Craty Creatives kit - crochet mouse
Finally, I strung the little jingle bells onto some 3mm ribbon to make a jingly festive garland. I glued the end of the ribbon first and rolled it to make it pointy so that I could thread the bells on. Once finished I snipped of the glued end and knotted it to stop the bells coming off. I distanced them equally along the length (about 3m) and the ribbon is just think enough that the bells stay in place without any knots.

craftypainter: bell garland

Of course I haven't used everything yet but I do have some plans... the cinnamon sticks will be made in to decorations with slices of dried orange and ribbon, and the beautiful wooden girl and bunny will become tree decorations and I think the printed fabric will look great as part of a quilt.
craftypainter: Crafty Creative Box 5
I'd love to hear your ideas for any of the items or let me know what you have made with the things in your box.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

DIY Upcycled Coasters

I've wanted to do a proper craft DIY for ages and have one in the pipeline for a rug made from recycled t-shirts (it's taking months to make though so no DIY post just yet!)

craftypainter: Up-cycled coasters
This one uses the same technique as the t-shirt rug but takes a fraction on the time, although we are still talking a few hours for a full set of coasters.

You will need old cotton shirts or something similar (I used pijama bottoms!)
Tape measure
Needle and thread
Safety pin
Lots of pins
Sewing machine

Start by cutting the material in to strips approximately 3cm wide. Take three strips of different lengths and join them together at one end with a few tacking stitches, these don't have to be perfect as they wont show later on.
craftypainter: DIY upcycled coasters
Begin braiding the three strips and once you reach an end it's time to join the next strip, by using different lengths at the start you can stagger the joins, otherwise you may end up with a bulky section.  Joining the strips is super easy but tricky to explain. Here goes....

Cut a small slit in to the ends of the strips to be joined. I'll call them A and B (where B is the new strip that need to be added). Thread the cut end of strip B through the slit in A, then bring the tale of B through the slit in B and pull all the way through. Gently work both strips until they are neatly secured together.

craftypainter: DIY upcycled coasters

Carry on braiding (and adding new strips when needed) until you have approximately 120cm of braid with a couple of centimetres spare. Secure the end of the braid with the safety pin for now.

On a flat surface begin to coil the braid around making sure to tuck the starting end underneith. Use plenty of pins to hold everything in place and stop with about 10cm of braid to coil.

craftypainter: DIY upcycled coasters
Carefully un-do the last section of braid and taking one of the ends, flaten out the material and pin in on the bottom. With the remaining two strips twist them together and pin into place to finish off the coil.
craftypainter: DIY upcycled coasters
For the back of the coaster, cut a circle of fabric with 0.5cm allowance. Cut small slits 2cm apart all the way around the edge. Pin the slited circle to the back of the coaster tucking in the edges all the way round.

craftypainter: DIY upcycled coasters
Using a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine stitch from the centre in a spiral along the edges of the braid in order to join them together. I find this bit really tricky as it can be hard to see where to stitch, just take it slowly especially at the start.
craftypainter: DIY upcycled coasters
Finally add a straight stitch around the edge of the backing fabric to neaten it off! Then just make a few more and give them away as house-warming or Christmas presents (or keep them for yourself!)

I hope all of that makes sense but if there are any questions please let me know.

Now pop on over to Handmade Monday and check out the other lovely blogs!!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Autumn in a nut shell

I haven't been very good recently at keeping up with all of the blog posts that I want to write. I've been so busy spending my evenings crafting that I have struggled to keep up to date on blogging and some posts have fallen by the way side. So instead of stressing about it I've decided to write one post to round up everything I've missed and then I can move on. It also means I'll be able to share some of things that would never have made it in to a blog post of their very own. I'm not a huge fan of really long wordy blog posts so I'll try and keep it succinct but we are going all the way back to September!!!


Autumn treasures from around the garden.

craftypainter:Autumn Garden
In September I opened my Etsy shop and in October I made my first sales of gift tags and Christmas decorations.  It's really exciting to think that people are prepared to pay real money for the things I make and means I can buy more ribbon and fabric!!
craftypainter: craftypainterShop on Etsy
I also made these up-cycled coasters made from old shirts cut in to strips and braided, and I have a tutorial that I WILL finish writing soon so you can make some too...
craftypainter: Up-cycled coasters
At the end of September, The Mike and I went to stay for a few days with his parents.  On our first day by the sea, we cycled down to the beach and I came home with a bag full of treasure!!  I just love the bright orange shells although I haven't decided what to do with them. Perhaps another driftwood mobile?

 craftypainer: beach treasure
I had a 10km race coming up and had done no training so I needed to do some cramming. I ran to the beach every morning before breakfast, it was chilly but beautiful!
craftypainter: Hill Head beach


While trawling the Internet to try and find new ways of using some of my button stash I came across an idea for making a button garland.  For this one I was trying to use up some of my plainer coloured buttons, the garland is made with crochet chain stitch and every few stitches a button is worked in to the chain. I have a tutorial for this coming soon too!!!

I also worked out a way to use up all my tiny felt scraps by stitching them together to make pretty felt brooches.
craftypainter: October makes

At the start of half term I went to IKEA with my friend Ro, I was looking for inspiration for sorting out my craft supplies but only came home with a few bits and pieces (I was very restrained). However, I did spot this idea for decorating a lamp shade with strips of fabric, great for using up scraps!

craftypainter: Ikea scrappy lamp

At the end of half-term I went for a beach day to Wells in Norfolk with my mum and her dog, Zebedee. Half-term beach trips are a bit of a tradition although it's been a couple of years since we last made it. It was freezing and I didn't wear enough clothes but it was a beautiful day and despite the chill the beach was packed and there was an amazing atmosphere.

craftypainter: Wells beach and woods
I didn't bring home too many many treasures this time, but there were one of two special finds. The spikey sea urchin, and whelk shell that is broken down the middle were my favourite finds. Although the sea urchin is now in the garden because it smells.

So that's it, September and October all wrapped up (although I seem to have left myself with two more posts to write!)

Happy autumn everyone! (Or is it Winter now?)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Crafting with Katie

craftypainter: Bunting

My friend Katie is getting married next year and her preparations are well underway. As part of her wedding theme Katie wanted to make some bunting and asked me to give her a hand. Last Thursday we managed to get ourselves organised for some after work crafting.

Katie had a lovely bundle of Cath Kidston fat quarters and we decided to choose three patterns for the bunting with two different sizes of flags.

craftypainter: Cath Kidston fabric for bunting
There was minor craft fail when I accidentally screwed up our paper templates and threw them away: it was only on my second search through the bin that I found them. We flattened them out and got cutting, pinning and stitching our triangles of fabric together. Katie hadn't used a sewing machine since school but did a brilliant job of stitching along the lines and we ended up with lots of beautiful flags.
craftypainter: bunting flags

The trickiest bit by far was pinning the flags into position along the bias tape, the flags wouldn't stay in place while we pinned!!
craftypainter: bunting
After about 3 hours, a few pinning injuries and plenty of Pringles & dip the beautiful wedding bunting was finished!!  
craftypainter: Bunting in Cath Kidston prints
What craft projects have got up to recently? If you've been blogging about them share your links!!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

I love this cake and I have been desperate to share the recipe for ages. I had the joy of making (and eating) it again yesterday for a family gathering to celebrate my cousin Hazel's birthday so it seemed like the perfect time to get a cake post written up. It's super yummy and really easy as it's measured in cups and all the ingredients are just stirred together in one bowl. Oh, and of course it's also vegan!!

I love recipes that use cups as it means I get to use my wonderful baking bowls; they were a present from my friend Ro and are super cute and practical!

If you haven't tried vegan baking before this is a great place to start as there an no tricky ingredients to get hold of. The recipe is based on the Pineapple Upside-down Cake from the Vegan Society but instead of melting sugar with margarine, which is a bit too greasy, I use the juice from the pineapples, with the sugar and reduce it down to a syrup while at the same time caramelising the pineapple rings.

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 435g tin pineapple rings in own juice
  • natural colour glace cherries 
  • 2 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup rapeseed oil
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Empty the pineapple rings and juice into a frying pan and add the ½ cup brown sugar. Simmer over a medium heat until the juice has reduced to a syrup and the pineapple rings have started to caramelise, then leave to cool. 
  • Grease a 10” spring form cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper. Place a sheet of tin foil underneath and turn up the edges in case of any leaks. Arrange the pineapple rings in the bottom of the tin and put a cherry in the centre of each ring. Pour over the leftover syrup. 
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the rapeseed oil, soya milk,  applesauce and vanilla essence; stir well until all the ingredients are combined. 
  • Pour the cake mixture over the pineapple rings and bake for 50-60 minutes. 
  • Allow to cool before removing the outer ring on the cake tin, then turn out the cake on to a plate before gently removing the base and the baking paper.   
  • Enjoy with a big cup of tea!!
There is usually an extra pineapple ring to snack on while the cake is baking and the bonus of a vegan cake mixture is that you can eat as much of it raw as you like!

Have you tried vegan baking or have you got a favourite vegan cake recipe? Let me know if you give this one a try; I'm taling my cake and a cup of tead over to link up with Handmade Monday, come and have a look...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Crafty Creatives Box 4

I just love writing about the Crafty Creatives boxes and since people seem to like reading them (box 3 was my most popular post ever!) I thought it would be nice to keep going for the time being even if I am a little late.

So Box 4 arrived last week with a perfect theme for the time of year and with time to get some crafting done before the end of the month. The bat stamp on the box was a brilliant clue to the spooky Gothic theme.
 craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 4 Contents
The spooky art card from Carrion House was created especially for the box and the contents list on the back revealed:
  • The CC Kit - a masquerade mask
  • 3 large purple resin flower beads
  • 1 large silver winged pendant
  • 1 glass cabochon with Gothic frame setting
  • 8 mini skull beads
  • 10 silver studs
  • 2m each of satin and organza ribbon
  • vintage Gothic and Halloween pictures
  • 2 Gothic windows
  • 50cm strip of spider web mesh
  • 2 decorative ring blanks
  • a bundle of cruelty free feathers
  • 2 mini Gothic keys
  • a fat quarter of black lace
  • 50cm black non-woven fabric
  • Halloween sprinkles
I love the ribbon (of course) and the fabrics but there are so many things in the box that I have never used before which is really exciting and challenging. The giant purple buttons would look great on a chunky knit cushion but I have no idea yet what to do with the winged pendant. While I'm not a big fan when it comes to skulls I just love the bright colours of these mini beads and they are quite cute really. The Gothic windows will also take a little thinking about though...

I haven't got round to finishing the kit yet, because it's one that takes a little time (leaving to dry overnight), but will be perfect for Halloween parties! 
craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 4 Kit
I did however manage to find a few minutes to put together some quick makes to create this braided ribbon charm bracelet with a key fastening.
craftypainter: Braided ribbon key charm bracelet by craftypainter
And after a dig through my craft cupboard I found this cute ladybird which once belonged on my favourite ever pair of shoes, sadly the shoes are in need of repairs which are a little beyond me but I cannot bear to get rid of them.
craftypainter: Ladybird rind by craftypainter
What have you made with your Box 4 contents? If you've blogged about the box too, leave me you link!

Monday, 15 October 2012

And the winner is...

Actually before I announce the winner of the Make & Craft blog tour giveaway, I want to say a massive thank you to Make & Craft magazine for organising the blog tour and for allowing me to be a part of it. It has been a brilliant way to discover some new craft blogs and of course with every stop on the tour there was the chance to win a brilliant craft book thanks to Search Press. Some of the giveaways are still open so check out the list on the Make & Craft blog in case you missed any.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway, it was really exciting to host my first ever giveaway and I loved reading all the comments!!

As there was a manageable number of entries I decided to do things the old fashioned way and put all the names in a hat. 

 My glamorous assistant revealed the winner!!
Congratulations to Linda Rumsey who is the lucky winner of my giveaway book Handbook of Sewing Stitches. I'll contact you through the Make & Craft website to find out where you would like me to send the lovely book!!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Make & Craft Magazine Blog Tour and Book Giveaway

Welcome to today's stop on the Make & Craft Blog Tour and thank you to Amy for yesterday's super post!! If you've been following the tour so far you'll know that the first issue of Make & Craft Magazine goes on sale on the 12th October. There are lots of options for subscription available on the Make and Craft Website including 3 digital issues for just £1. There's also a monthly book club on the Make and Craft forum where new books will be discussed each month! As if all of this wasn't exciting enough, every blog on the tour has a copy of a craft book to giveaway, more on that later...

For the benefit of first time visitors I'm a painter and crafter who loves sewing and making accessories, cushions and decorations (and blogging about it all).  I recently opened my Etsy shop and you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Hellocotton.

I thought I'd join the party and celebrate the launch of the new magazine with a simple DIY to get us all in the mood for a bit of crafting. Here's some no-sew scrappy bunting, made from up-cycled materials.

You will need:
Some old shirts, pajamas or any other non-stretchy cotton fabric
Tape measure

Cut (or tear) the fabric in to strips approx 5cm x 40cm.

craftypainter: no-sew scrappy bunting DIY
If using patterned fabric, like I did, begin by folding the strip into thirds along it's length so that the pattern remains on show (1).  Fold the strip in half and lay under the string (2), pull the tails of the strip through the loop to form a knot a bit like a neck tie (3). You may need to work the fabric a little to get it neat (4).
craftypainter: no-sew scrappy bunting DIY
Keep adding strips evenly spaced until you have reached your desired length (or used up all the materials) and space the strips evenly along the string.
craftypainter: no-sew scrappy bunting DIY
 And that's it!! Super easy for emergency party bunting!!
Now for the giveaway... To celebrate the launch of the new magazine, Make & Craft have teamed up with Search Press and given me a copy of Lorna Knight's Handbook of Sewing Stitches (RRP £9.99; ISBN 9781844488124) to give away to one of my readers.

An invaluable resource for sewers of all abilities, this guide offers practical help with all of the essential hand- and machine-sewing techniques, from stitches and fastenings to fabrics and seams. 

This is a brilliant book jam packed with 250 pages sewing techniques including hand stitches, machine stitches and decorative stitches and is really well illustrated. The book also has a textile directory which includes advice on working with all kinds of fabrics.

To get your hands on this great little book simply register as a member on the Make and Craft Website and leave me a comment below. One reader will be chosen at random on the 14th October. If you're not lucky enough to win this handy book you can find it on the Search Press website. Order by phone on 01892 510850 quoting “Make and Craft Blog Tour” and Search Press will give you free postage and packaging.

And finally hop on over to knitnrun4sanity tomorrow for the next stop on the Make & Craft Magazine Launch Party Tour!! If you 've missed any of the previous stops on the tour you can find the full list here!

Thank you to first timers and regular readers for stopping by and good luck everyone!!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Popular Crafts Strawberry Swap

I signed up for my second craft swap earlier this month with Popular Crafts Magazine and this time the theme was strawberries. You can see my first adventure in to the world of craft swaps here.

This time I was paired up with fellow crafty blogger ValeryAnne, she blogs all about her makes over at It's an Alien Life. We were both really pleased to be paired together as we had lots in common and both love bright colours!!

I decided to make some cute strawberry decorations and fabric brooch using strawberry print fabrics.  I struggled a bit with the treat as ValeryAnne told me that she can't eat strawberries so that ruled out anything edible. In the end I found some mini washi-tapes; although not strawberry themed I'm sure that they will be put to good use. I'm really pleased with how the decorations turned out and will be making some more for the Christmas tree!
 Popular Crafts Strawberry Swaps by craftypainter

In return I received two strawberry print and turquoise cushion covers, I love the fat little bird on the larger cushion! There was also a cute felt cupcake with a strawberry on top and a fabric covered box which contained a treat of two bars of strawberry white chocolate!! I've already put the box to good use as storage for my sticker collection.

craftypainter: Popular Crafts Strawberry Swap
The Strawberry swap was the last one from Popular Crafts as the magazine is finishing. Fear not however, as the brand new Make & Craft magazine is launching on the 12th of October and with it comes a new craft swap. The same rules apply; you make something relevant to the theme and buy a £3 treat.  The theme for the first issue is home decorations and you can sign up on the Make & Craft website!

To celebrate the launch of the new magazine Make & Craft have organised a tour of craft blogs, a list of all the blogs taking part can be found on the Make & Craft blog and every one has a copy of a craft book to give away. Stop by next Thursday when I'll be hosting the tour for the day and will be giving away a copy of a great little craft book!

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