Scarves to Cushions (Take 2) and Wish Me Bon Voyage!

Second Cushion Header

This week is pretty busy so I have contented myself with finishing of the second of the pair of cushions from our old University scarves.  This one used to be Boffin’s.  I must admit that I do love the feel of them with the leather wing chair. It makes me think of academic libraries and old fashioned men’s clubs :-)

Second Cushion-2

If you want to know how I made these, take a look at my first post “Scarves to Cushions” for a tutorial!

We are off on holiday at the end of this week so this is my last post until we return.  Wish me Bon Voyage and I wish you all happy crafting x

My Holiday Bathrobe – An Attempt at Simplicity Pattern 1562

Holiday Bathrobe-2


I hardly ever sew clothes.  It doesn’t interest me that much and I don’t have the patience to fiddle with fits and finish that you see demonstrated so beautifully on “The Great British Sewing Bee”.  However I had been looking for a lightweight bathrobe to pack and take on holiday for YEARS with no success.  The ones I found were either so flimsy I felt exposed or didn’t fold or roll small enough to pack successfully.

We often go camping and have to walk to the shower block.  If you are in a hot climate and wearing skimpy pyjamas I, for one, don’t want to flash everyone on my stumbling way to the sinks!

In desperation I was flicking through the pattern books at my (then) job one day I found Simplicity 1562.  It said “easy to sew” on the packet.  It was unisex which meant it wouldn’t be a skimpy cut and there was a special offer on at the time.

Simplicity 1562

That was it I bought three remnants of poly-cotton dress fabric, two of the same fabric and one of a contrasting trim and got cracking.

The instructions are easy to follow.  I chose a large size for comfort.  I did find that the result was VERY long and had to trim quite a bit off of the bottom (although I am fairly average height)  Because I used remnants I did have to do a bit of fancy foot work to have enough fabric for the sleeve trims.  You can’t see it in the photos but the purple facing actually continues all the way down the inside of both sides of the front.

Holiday Bathrobe-1

I am sure a professional tailor would pick it to pieces (the sleeves not being perfectly aligned to the shoulders, the bodge job on the sleeve trims, the list goes on) but it works.  All faults were definitely due to the seamstress and not the pattern.  In fact I would use the pattern again for a winter dressing gown and I have never made a piece of clothing twice.

I wear it and I am happy with it.  I don’t feel exposed on camp site and I still like the excuse to wear the cute fabric that I would wear in everyday clothes.  Lots more happy camping for years to come!

My Eight Crafting Essentials

Everyone who makes stuff has things that help them they CANNOT live without.  I’m sure you have some.

In case you hadn’t figured it out I am not the most patient crafter.  I like to see progress and this means not undertaking many things that are too fiddly.  Most of my favourite crafting things are things that save me time and/or effort. (I hasten to add that anything I recommend in this post I have bought and paid for.  I have no sponsors or advertisers at this time.  It is just my personal opinion).

  1. PVA Glue – Most of the crafting world is mad about “Mod Podge” and although it is good I find that good old PVA glue does most of the same stuff and is a fraction of the price!  Your remember this stuff, my primary school teachers used to call it “Marvin” for some reason.  Its the one that is still great fun to peel off of your fingers when dry.Stag-1
  2. Spray Paint – I first fell in love with this stuff whilst at University where we used it for model making.  That was made for cars NOW it’s available for all surfaces in all finishes. My favourites tend to be the Rustoleum range and the Plastikote range which which paint everything, including the kitchen sink! It is easy to use, gives a lovely finish and quick to dry.Paint
  3. A rotary cutter – Despite two years working in a fabric and habadashery shop I do not cut fabric in the straightest of lines.  A rotary cutter (plus a quilting ruler and a self healing cutting mat) removes that problem  It saves the wrist and I make the blades last longer by periodically cutting tin foil with them.
  4. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – I am a recent convert to this after using it to paint an old nest of tables.  It applies nicely to pretty much any surface and you don’t need to sand before applying it.  As you will find all over the internet there are loads of ways to apply it, distress it and generally make it look gorgeous in a myriad of styles!Annie Sloan Chalk Paint-1
  5. My Bosch PMF 190E Multifunction Power Tool. – I referred to this in Sunday’s post “Five Things Learnt About Up-cycling Pallets”.  It is a God-send. It is a detail sander, It has a plunge cut saw (useful for cutting nails on pallets or making rebates for hinges) and a segment saw (useful for cutting across planks ready to remove them from a pallet!Bosch Multi Tool-1
  6. Free versions of software – I have downloaded and use Open Office and Serif Draw Plus Starter.  I also use free on-line software PicMonkey to edit photos.  You just can’t afford to buy everything and these truncated versions do pretty much everything I want.
  7. Fabric Remnants – Nearly all the fabrics I use are remnants I do have to be careful though as some shops sell “remnants” that when you stop and work it out are actually the same price as you would pay for the same quantity off of the roll!Medal-2
  8. My Camera – I have a second hand Nikon D70 that I love.  I would be completely lost without it.  I only have the kit lens that came with it and no external flash.  I do have a Tripod (a gift from a wonderful friend) and a remote control shutter trigger that was part of the deal when I bought it.Someone's trying to keep me quiet!-2

What are your essentials?  The things that just make your crafting life a pleasure?  I would love to know so I can try them!

Five Lessons Learnt About Up-cycling Pallets

Inspired by Pinterest (how many well intentioned crafting misadventures start with those words I wonder?) I have decided to build a garden bench for our garden using as a base two old kitchen chairs I bought at our local rubbish tip for £10.00 the pair.

I assembled the rest of the materials I thought I would need thus.

Two Chair Pallet Garden Bench-1a

Loads of people seem to be using old pallets for wood for their project and we had one that our bathroom tiles were delivered on so I decided to use this.  Boffin and I took it apart last weekend.  This is where I learned my first lesson.

Lesson #1 -

Taking pallets apart whilst keeping the timber in one piece is both HARD work and tricky.  I used a crow-bar, claw hammer and my trusty (and much loved) Bosch PMF 190E to take it apart. Which leads me onto lesson 2.

 Lesson #2 -

Unless you’re a much better woman than me (which you may well be!) you only save around 80% of the timber.  The rest splits and splinters no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

 Lesson #3 -

You are probably going to need more pallets than you think.  I went and asked politely at the wine warehouse opposite my office (I know, there are a million jokes there ;-) ) for another pallet.

 Lesson #4 -

The materials may be cheap or free but it will probably cost you a couple of replacement blades for your power saw of choice. I ended up sawing through some of the nails in order to get as much of the wood off in one piece as possible and it is hell on the blades.

Lesson #5 -

Time.  I spent the first 90 minutes of Saturday putting together the frame of the bench with the wood that we had got from the pallet the previous week

Two Chair Palet Garden Bench-2

I spent the next four hours (and a trip to the local DIY shop for more blades) getting the second pallet apart in more or less one piece!  I was so shattered by the time I finished I had to take a break!

I finished the day feeling shattered and a bit discouraged.  A good nights sleep has taken care of the discouragement but now I’m hunting for the time to finish this before we go on holiday in two weeks time!

Any advice about working with pallets gratefully received and if anyone has a way to slot a few more workable hours into the day I’d be grateful too!

What should my wheelbarrow grow?

A Christmas gift from a friend has had a customised paint job and is ready for some pretty flowers.

White Painted Wheelbarrow Planter-1

What shall I plant?  My main criteria are purple and easy to care for.  The spot where the barrow will be gets sun for about quarter of the day and shade for the rest.

Come on friends, suggestions by any means you care to use please!

P.S. The paint was Cuprinol’s Garden Shades.  Nice to work with and an attractive finish!

DIY French-Style Door Fingerplates

Plates Header 2

I am really excited with this project and completely thrilled how this turned out!

We fitted a new restaurant style swinging door to our kitchen recently but it was missing the finishing touch of some funky finger plates to stop it getting dirty finger prints everywhere.

I looked all over the internet, DIY stores and Ebay and I couldn’t find anything I really liked without shipping it from America at huge cost.  Then we discovered these floral beauties in a local antique/bric-a-brac shop for £1.00 the pair!


Whilst they are quite pretty, they are not really my style but they were a complete bargain so I started thinking what I could do with them.  I didn’t want huge amounts of fuss and bother and so one thought sprang to mind…spray paint!

Looking around for inspiration I stumbled across one of my holiday photos from last year.


I have always loved French enamel street signs (this one means “broken neck road”!) and thought that a touch a French chic might be just what was needed.

Step One:

I wanted a white base and the floral transfers would have show through.  I bought this paint in matt white, night blue and a clear top coat.


As luck would have it the rain stayed away and I put the plates inside a box we had left over from our new kitchen clock to avoid me spraying the lawn white!.

Tip; make sure the wind is behind you, spray outdoors if at all possible and it is also a good idea to wear a face mask as the fumes are pretty strong!


I sprayed several coats of the white (enough to empty the can) using long smooth movements across the entire piece.  Lots of thin coats are better than thick ones for the finish.  The white did not completely cover the pattern but it was enough for an undercoat where only parts of it would show through.

The lid of the clock box came in really handy for keeping insects and bits of leaf off of the wet paint whilst it dried.

Step Two:

After the white paint was completely dry (around four hours).  I used card making stickers to mask off a simple border and the words “Bonjour” and “Au Revoir”.  I used a strip of masking tape to line up the letters so they were (almost) straight!


The scalpel or a pair of tweezers were essential as the stickers are pretty delicate and can distort if you don’t take your time.

Finally they were ready for the blue stage.


Step Three:

Using the blue spray paint in the same way I added about four coats of the night blue and again left it to dry



Step Four:

I left the paint for around eight hours before trying to remove the stickers.  I used the tip of the scalpel to lift the edges and just in case I had to cut the paint layer in order to lift it without wrecking the paint.

However it was easier than I expected and the stickers came away easily with no damage!  The paint had crept under the adhesive in a couple of spots but it was easily scraped gently away with the tip of the scalpel.



Step Five:

I then sprayed four or five coats of the transparent top coat onto it because I realised that these plates were going to take a lot of abuse from people going in and out of the kitchen all the time.

This time I left them a full twenty-four hours to dry.

Step Six:



I LOVE the result, it makes me smile every time I go through the door!  What do you think a little bit of Oh La La?!  What else could be done with other ones if I can find them?

In fact I am so chuffed with this project I am going to show it off a bit around the Interweb.  I’m linking up to Remodelaholic’s Anonymous  and Make It and Love It! link parties!


What for? Wifi!

In my quest to make out library/guest room more welcoming I notices on Pinterest that a lot of people were making signs displaying their home Wifi code so that visitors could easily access and use it.  I didn’t want something too functional looking though.

Well, you can see what I came up with below (excuse the pixelated code, I didn’t really want to broadcast that!).


I used one of my photographs from holiday last year and PicMonkey (free on-line graphics software, with a sense of humour, you have to try it!) to make the graphic.

Now onto my next dilemma, what colour to paint the walls!