Exciting News!…The Handmade Fair

My week went a little off course in the most amazing way this week when Boffin drew my attention to an appeal by Kirstie Allsopp via Facebook for volunteers to help with her project “The Handmade Fair” at Hampton Court Palace.

I applied on Thursday Evening and by Friday teatime I had a place to help on all three days!


Excited does not even begin to cover it!

The motto of the event is:


Join us for a day of making beautiful things
Indulge yourself in our craft banquet workshops
Learn from Britain’s best artisans
Shop from hand-picked craft sellers

This is a credo I can get behind and not only is the UK’s favourite celebrity crafter Kirstie Allsopp going to be there but there are workshops and talks by people like Annie Sloane, Cath Kidston and Kaffe Fassett, to name a few!

I get my assignment on Monday (where I will being working, what workshops I will be helping with) and I can’t wait! (And I get to wear a PINK Hi Vis vest!).


Review: Heat ‘N’ Bond Iron On Vinyl

I had the fabric I wanted to use to make a cushion for our kitchen pew but I really wanted to make it durable and easy to clean so I chose to buy some of Heat ‘N’ Bond’s Iron On Transparent Vinyl (I bought it in gloss. It is available in matte as well but I couldn’t find it in a local stockist at the time).

Heat 'N' Bond Iron On Vinyl Review - 6

As it was my first time using it I thought you might like to hear my thoughts.  I would like to point out that I paid for all the materials in this post and it is not sponsored in any way.

The product is supposed to provide an alternative to store bought Oil Cloths and PVC Coated Fabrics so that you can have the convenience of a permanent wipe clean and waterproof finish on your choice of fabric.  The packaging says that it is sewable with either a non-stick foot or a normal one on your sewing machine.

At £10.00 – £13.00 for 1.8m (2 yards) it isn’t cheap.  I bought mine from my local Hobbycraft but I notice that you can get it through Amazon now.  I would also by it in Matte if I was to buy it again (personal preference) but that wasn’t available to me at the time.

I was a bit ambitious for my first project using it as my cushion was 1.6m long and I had a LOT of scope for disaster.  However I was pleasantly surprised.

The instructions are very simple and clear.  There is also a downloadable PDF on Thermoweb’s internet site if you feel the need to double check it.I followed the instructions to the letter apart from one thing.

Because I was using such a long piece I didn’t have any on the backing paper to place in between the iron and the vinyl at first so I tried to use a clean dry tea towel.  It didn’t work brilliantly so at the first opportunity I cut some of the backing paper free and used that – MUCH better!

I would really like it if they put a spare piece of backing paper into the package so that you could use it for ironing if you were using the whole roll.

Definitely don’t skip the ironing both sides of the piece stage to secure the adhesive as adhesion can be patchy up until this point.

I thought I would have a nightmare getting the backing sheet off of the vinyl without creases and bubble (any body else spent forever getting “sticky backed plastic” on without these problems?!) but I spread the fabric width ways over my ironing board and started by rolling back the backing paper about 3 inches all the way across. I positioned it and then continued slowly and steadily from there.

Not a crease or a bubble!  I was amazingly easy.  It could have been beginners luck but I was impressed.

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When it came to pinning up and getting ready for sewing the fabric was slightly stiffer than ordinary Oil Cloth but it didn’t make it awkward to manipulate for what I was doing.  I was pretty much only sewing straight lines but the box corners were no harder than normal because of the vinyl.

I only put vinyl on the one side because I wanted to have a “posh” side for when we have company so there is the possibility that having both sides coated would have made it trickier as well.

I used a normal (and not even new) machine needle to sew it (and my normal sewing machine foot) and it went through just as if it was normal fabric.  Even when putting the zip in it did not make it any more awkward and my normal zipper foot worked perfectly.

I used normal dressmaking sewing thread (a polyester one) which seems to hold up just fine.

At the end of the making process the vinyl was still securely adhered to it’s surface and it had gained no nasty scratches or creases.  It has stood up similarly well to it’s first few days of wear and tear but only time will tell.

Heat 'N'Bond Iron On Vinyl Review-2

All in all I am definitely planning to use this product again and would definitely recommend it.  The pro’s outweigh the con’s by a long way and as long as it wears well I cannot see the down side.

The Creative Blog Hop Post

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by my friend, ex-colleague and fellow blogger Janet of “Fairy Thoughts” to take part in the Creative Blog Hop. This is my entry into that distinguished company and I hope it lives up to it’s pedigree as I have spent the last couple of weeks being torn between being insanely excited and flattered and absolutely terrified!

What is the Creative Blog Hop?

Well it is a way of being introduced lots of creative bloggers that you might not have heard of and possibly finding more kindred spirits, sharing inspiration and creativity.  We get given questions we have to answer so you can get to know us better and I have actually found that answering them has made a few things clearer in my own head as well (bonus!)

Anyway, on with the show…

Magpie Logo

Hi to any newbies,  I’m Nicki, and I blog here at “Il Magpie Miscellanea Di S” ( The Magpie’s Miscellany) – Like my “frock”?!


I love to craft and have never limited myself to one type of craft, I couldn’t if I tried (hence nicknaming myself “The Magpie”)! I use my blog to share my crafting adventures with anyone who is interested and to remind me to enjoy my life and creativity.

What am I working on now?

Like any crafter worth their salt I have many UFO’s (Un-Finished Objects) lying around.  They currently include a bench from two dining room chairs and pallet wood….

Two Chair Pallet Garden Bench-2

Crocheted seat covers for my kitchen chairs (Which may never be finished as they have discontinued the yarn colour I was using for my main colour and I can’t find any stock anywhere!)…


A cushion for our kitchen pew…


(Notice a theme emerging here?)

Up-cycling some wall sconces that I found in a French Flea Market whilst on holiday…

Wall Sconces-2

I could go on but it would probably get boring quite quickly!

How does my work differ from others in my genre?…

Probably in that I don’t consider myself a master of any one craft.  I sew, knit, crochet, cut, hammer, drill, fold, glue, print, mould, and probably quite a few other things I haven’t thought of!

The second point in which I differ is that I love to encourage people to try anything they like the look of.  I love to share what I know and have knowledge shared with me. If I can save anyone some heartache or frustration through sharing what I have done right or wrong that makes me happy!

I love doing this so much that recently I have gathered my courage and am hosting some crafting evenings locally where people can come along and try new things.  The first is happening in mid October and I am excited and terrified at the same time!

Why do I create what I do?

If I’m honest, often because I need or want it.  Despite moving into our house nearly ten years ago we hadn’t done much in the way of DIY or decorating until fairly recently, mainly because I used to be a teacher and every spare bit of time and energy went into that.

I love the William Morris quote “Have nothing in your home that you do know know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.  That’s what I want for my home.

Beautiful doesn’t mean “new” to me.  It took me a long time to figure out what was “me” and now I try to embrace it. If I see something I love I will re-paint, polish or do what ever I can to bring it to life.  Some things are still beyond me (welding?!) but I hope one day to be able to take on any challenge for something I love.

How does my creative process work?

I collect fragments of ideas from all over the place, magazines, Pinterest, life and merge them together to fulfil a need or a desire.  That’s another reason I consider myself a magpie.  Sometimes I change ideas a little, sometimes a lot.  If I don’t know how to do something I find the answer somehow and that was another reason I was drawn to blogging and the communities that form here.

Sometimes I sketch things out, sometimes I build little “mock ups” to test bits and pieces and sometimes I have to confess to “winging it” (I do work full time as well and time is at a premium!).  I just love to create and most of the time the ideas pop in (unless I am too tired, you wouldn’t like me when I’m tired, I don’t do it well!).

Well, that’s a little about me.  If you are interested in learning more or becoming a Magpie too you can find out more about me, get in touch or check out some of my favourite posts;

Passing the Flame…

I am passing on the baton to two very talented, crafty ladies who I have been lucky enough to get to know recently

First Up is Justine from Little Dove Creations, here is what she has to say about herself:-

Justine - Little Dove Creations

“I was born and raised in Surf City, USA; otherwise known as Huntington Beach, California… and yada yada, a lot of events happened in my life and I got married in 2007 at the ripe old age of 21 to a man I’d known for less than a year that I met on a blind date, no less. And it’s been WONDERFUL, seriously, I consider myself very blessed.

When our first child was born in 2010 (our son and little dove, hence my blog’s name) it really inspired my crafting to take off. Clothes, blankets, toys… you name it and I probably tried it. It began as a place where I shared (and sometimes sold) the creations I made for my little man, but has since become a place where I share all things crafty and D.I.Y., everything that helps make my house into my home. My husband Mike and I have since added two more kiddos to the mix, our little miss and our little lady. Chasing after three kids, remodelling our 1980’s home, and trying to find other creative outlets to help keep me sane can be challenging, but I can’t complain, life is good! :)”

My second gorgeous nominee is Anne Marie from Crunchy, Crafty and Highly Caffeinated (an not just because we have similar haircuts ;-) ).

Anne Marie- Crunchy Crafty

“HI! I’m Anne Marie from Crunchy, Crafty, and Highly Caffeinated. I blog about my crafting adventures, different recipes that I try, reviews of different companies and services that I love, and whatever strikes my caffeinated self!

I have always been a creative person. I would read, write, and doodle all the time as a kid, but it wasn’t until college when I discovered my love of creating things. I was a theatre major and a sorority girl so I spent a lot of time creating set pieces, props, and gifts for all sorts for my sisters.

My love of cooking and my foodie wannabe status came much later on. I found myself a stay at home mom with two little kids and an even littler budget, so I started seeking out and creating new recipes. It was so rewarding to make rolls, or pie, or the Thanksgiving turkey and find them well received. Now that I am a Full Time Working Mom of 3 kids I try to cooke more meals that can be transported to the office for my lunches, though I still love pie…and cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes?!

Everything I do is fueled with caffeine. With a full time job, blog, 2 podcasts, 3 kids and a husband the caffeine is a requirement. I enjoy the whole spectrum (coffee, Red Bull, tea) it all just depends on my mood. However, I do live and die by the Pumpkin Spice Latte! Every year they come out around my birthday and I consider them a birthday present to me from Starbucks ;-)”.

Good Luck Ladies, I can’t wait to read your entries! xxx

Displaying My Wares…

I have butterflies in my tummy this week because I am taking the plunge and finally offering some organised crafting evenings to paying customers (gulp!)

I order to do that I wanted to show off a display of the kind of things they could make if they came along.  I needed a display of some sort and it had to meet quite a few criteria:

  • Portable
  • Robust
  • Quick and easy to set up.
  • Attractive (of course), but not take attention away from the product.
  • Flexible
  • Cheap or free!

A couple of months ago I rescued a wooden wine crate from the bin of the wine warehouse next door to where I work (I know, lucky girl on both counts!) and I have been saving it until inspiration hit me.

After a quick trawl of Pinterest (Any excuse ;-)) inspiration struck in combining a number of the things I had seen in my travels.

I waxed the crate using Annie Sloan clear wax and drilled holes at appropriate intervals to hold dowel rod and…

Wine Crate Display Collage

I cut a back board from left over mount board (used during making my “Typographic Kitchen Wall Art”) so the colour of that can be changed whenever I like and voilà!  Total cost £3.65 (for the dowel rod)!

Linking this up to The Turquoise Home’s “Work it Wednesday”.

Autumn Felt Garland

We have a Hazel branch in our living room that I decorate depending on the season.  With the start of September tomorrow I was feeling the need for something Autumnal but quick and easy.  This is what I came up with…

Autumn Garland Header

I sewed the leaves in a higgledy piggledy order to give the illusion of them falling from the trees, deliberately  using autumnal colours and templates found from the internet.

Autumn Garland-2

Autumn Garland-4

I am chuffed with the effect but when I came to tidy up I discovered that the I had missed the oak leaves out entirely!

Autumn Garland-3

Oh well, better luck next time!

Linking up this week to Hand-Made Monday, It’s Overflowing’s Grateful Heart Link Up and The Turquoise Home’s “Work it Wednesday”.

Warming Your Welcome (with free printable)

House Warming Labels Header

When it comes to house-warming gifts I am often at a loss.  I am no cook and if it is not a first home most people have the things that they really need and distinct tastes that you have to try and guess at!

Then I stumbled across a wonderful pin that showed a simple (and usually very welcome) gift idea with an amusing twist.  My brain started twisting and turning and in no time I expanded the repertoire to four gift ideas in the same vein, each with their own (admittedly fairly cringe-worthy) pun.

The labels are spaced so that you can use an ordinary two hole punch to punch the holes in them (with a handy centre line to line the centre of the punch up with) and there is space to write on the back of them.

If you want to use the labels yourself for your own house-warming gifts please feel free to download them- Housewarming Labels from Il Magpie

To use the labels, simply print them and trim off the extra along each side of the label.

House Warming Labels-6

Then fold the strip in half and glue together.

House Warming Labels-7

Line each of the centre lines up with the hole punch centre line in turn and punch.

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Thread ribbon or cord through and tie!

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Happy house-warming!

Linking up this week to I Heart Naptime’s “Link Party Palooza”.

Now Crafter, sail thou forth, to craft and travel

Travel Crafting Header

(Firstly apologies to Walt Whitman but “Now Voyager” is one of my favourite films and in light of this famous photo of Bette Davis and her stand-in on set I thought it was appropriate!).


Photo Credit: http://vickielester.com (original photo credit unknown but happy to credit if anyone knows!)

Photo Credit: http://vickielester.com (original photo credit unknown but happy to credit if anyone knows!)

We are away this weekend visiting family in Suffolk.  I hate feeling that hours as a car passenger (or a passenger on any vehicle) are wasted but I suffer with travel sickness and so cannot read or look at a computer screen.

In this journey I have started using some leftover Sirdar “Baby Bamboo” yarn to make granny squares for a seat cover for the craft room chair.  I love the bright colours and it should be a cheerful addition.

I can crochet and knit in the car provided that it doesn’t require much pattern reading or keeping track of stitches.  I am very grateful for that as it means I can while away my time and still notice what is going on around me, but this journey set me thinking.  What other crafts might be travel compatible?

We have a much loved camper van (named “Basil”) so I hope to travel a lot and I have started a Pinterest board to pin any and all ideas I can find for things to do whilst I’m on the move.  I am happy to make this a group board so if you want to pin anything to it just get in touch!

I’ll leave you with a few images from our trip to Southwold today to stir the wanderlust in you…

Travel Crafting-2 Travel Crafting-3 Travel Crafting-4 Travel Crafting-5 Travel Crafting-6

Linking up this week to “Handmade Monday” and the “Do Not Fear” Linky Party.