Wednesday, 9 August 2017

DIY Wash Mitts

Just like most crafters, I try to make everything and every new craft is an opportunity for more explorations and, above all, more money to go out loading up with all the deliciousness that the new craft offers.

The latest craze to have a seed planted in my more than fertile imagination is soap making. Chemistry orientated and quite beautifully varied, I am intrigued about making something that looks yum but will not tempt me to eat it. A strange way to enter another craft dimension but there you go.

So I have ordered a book or two and while I wait and then plan the equipment needed, I thought about my love of crocheting and what I could do with it. Like all crafters, I love a new idea.

In Germany, face washers are usual in a small bag form that you put your hand into. This is typically efficient and a great way to get clean. It is also good for not having to chase a face washer all over the place (maybe that is just me).

Everyone should try a German style wash mitt at least once!

Now I will ask you to bear with me here. I am not a crochet pattern writer  but rest assured, this is super easy and I am sure that you will know what to do. If not, please email or leave a comment and I will do my absolute best to help.

Okay, there are two very basic stitches used here, double crochet (UK) or single crochet (US) and half treble (UK) or half double (US). 

The idea that I had was to make a face washer that was a gentle sort and for that one I have used Drops Muskat cotton yarn. But then I thought about exfoliating too and decided that we could also make an exfoliating mitt with the same pattern but using a different yarn. So heading to the garden section, I have chosen a sisal for one and hemp for another which gives two versions of scratchy. I would think twice about using these two on your face but it certainly does the job elsewhere and you emerge from your ablutions tingling and ready to face the world.

So, to begin, for the cotton, use a #4 (UK) 6.00 mm J/10 (US) hook and chain between 30 and 40. It has to fit over your hand without stretching or falling off. 
Here is what it looks like on mine....

Goldilocks crochet, not to loose and not too tight.

Join the chain to a circle with a slip stitch and then crochet about 6 rows of double crochet UK (single crochet US). In the photo above, I have already done this. 

A few rows like this makes a nice edge to the mitt.

Now swap to a half treble (half double) stitch and keep crocheting in a spiral round until you have a mitt about qqqcm (qqq) long. 

It all goes a lot quicker once you swap stitches.

The end is open so turn it inside out carefully and close the bottom with slip stitches. Fasten the yarn end off and weave the end in
And there we go! A wash mitt.

I have added a leather tab with a brass Chicago screw to keep it fresh and modern

I love the addition of the leather tab. I found a job lot of leather scraps on eBay and cut strips from that.

The sisal and hemp ones are made to the same (so called!) pattern. 

I found a variegated  hemp on Amazon which looks nice when made up. The leather tab sets it off perfectly.

Hemp is just a little less abrasive than sisal but I still wouldn't use it on your face. Feet are a tinglingly different story.

I know that my Chicago screws are technically inside out (the flat surface is the 'best' one) but I like this better.
To be ultra thrifty, you can make a smaller version (and that is what I have done with the sisal version) and add a drawstring and bead toggle at the top and fill it with soap odds and ends. This one is especially good after gardening and the sisal really scrubs the dirt out of your hands.
Tough love mitt!

We need a softening lotion to finish don't we? this space. Oh and don't forget to make some soap with me. That is coming soon too.

Soap coming soon.....

Love and hugs

Monday, 17 July 2017

Tropical Crush Pot Holder

I have a stonking huge crush on all things tropical at the moment - not alone either I believe. Millions of people who should know much better are running around with flamingo images and pineapples on everything. Toucans have began a resurgence and you cannot go anywhere at all without seeing a banana leaf on something. Bliss!

Well I was nosing around on Amazon the other day (as you do) and I found this fabric....tell me that it isn't the fabbest thing...

I made something special for my monthly column in Pretty Patches magazine but I was still in the mood for the tropics with added pink.

A bit time poor at the moment with a new book due at the publishers last Friday (I made it), I thought that a pot holder was just the things and of course this delicious fabric might just be calling out for watermelon applique.

So let's get on with it then shall we. What do we need?

-about a fat quarter of fabric
- about a fat quarter of wadding. I am using #279 80/20 cotton mix wadding by Vlieseline. This is a great project for all of those saved off cuts.
-bias binding enough to go around the pot holder
-scraps of pink, green and white fabrics - here again, get that scrap basket out and go diving.
-coordinating threads for quilting and applique
-glue stick, removable marker and your usual sewing needs including a darning for for free motion embroidery (FME)

TIP: you could use wool felt for the applique motif too.

Righto, firstly, cut two squares from your fabric about 23 cm x 23 cm (9" sq.).
Lay them onto a piece of wadding and quilt both with a random wavy pattern like this....

Trim the wadding back to the size of the original squares and then round the corners (easier to bind with no mitring to be done on the corners. You're welcome)....

Put one aside for the back and then using the template, cut a piece of watermelon from your scraps....

Cut a big piece of pink first and glue it on at a rakish angle...
This is just a wonky half circle. I was going to make a template but I thought, nah, we can do this freehand!

Then add the white....

Use the pink half to make a template for the other two pieces. And then the green rind.....

Now embroider them with appropriate colours....

Add some pips too. Draw them with water soluble marker first and then go around them a couple of times with with some black thread....

Neaten all of the thread ends and then pin the two squares wadding to wadding and join them by zig zagging around the edge....

Bind the edge. 

You can add a hanging loop if you want to as well.

Well off now to make cool drinks with flamingo ice cube stirrers in them, gaze at my pot holder and pretend that I am in Mauritius. I need to get out more....maybe Mauritius....... 
Lol not going to happen with the mountain of work on my desk.

Break over, thank you for stopping by and I will see you next time.

PS: if any of you wanted to be extra helpful, you could go and lay on a beach for me and tell me what it was like? I am sure that would be almost as good as going myself.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Upcylced Can Planters with Recycled Plants!

I have been looking at my tin cans with a very beady eye of late. We eat quite a lot of tinned vegetables like beans and tomatoes and the bin  fills up rapidly with the cans.

Nothing special about these cans - everyone can get their hands on some and you have already paid for them!

So I thought that a double whammy might be the way to go, reuse and upcycle the cans and at the same time reuse and upcycle some plants to put into them.

Bit of a difference!

I have been doing a bit of seed saving too and have managed to coax some chilli seeds into life and also a lemon! Very excited about the lemon.

The lavender got pruned too and the cuttings are sprouting.

So this is an extra quick make. You need to find some cans, remove the label and wash them. Here in the UK, cans with a ring pull are best because they do not have a sharp edge on the top.

Start with clean cans

I have used some pretty paper to cover them and some hot glue to keep it in place.

You can also decorate with die cut letters. Have a look at THIS to see how I do them.

Loooove my Sizzix courier font dies. You will be seeing them a lot!

Or maybe wrap with jute twine if you think that it is all a bit plain.

As if this paper could be called plain!

Plant your saved seeds and be very happy that not much has had to be sourced new for this one!

These are perfect on a sunny window. Think herbs as suitable occupants and think how they will add oomph to you kitchen.

Of course, you can used them for other things too like pencils and anything else that might be rolling around your desk

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope that you have enjoyed this (for me) rather short and sweet post.
See you next time!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Lovely Liberty

My regular readers will know by now that I love it when things are beautiful and practical. Sometimes these things can be shabby and a bit faded and well used (I am trying not to say old here...) but they are still beautiful. Think of old leather bags and wooden things. I think that you see what I mean!

And I have found that it is possible to live beautifully when I have diy in my life. I can control my world because money stops being such a big factor when you have the skills to do something yourself.

 I know that we see images of perfection on ads all around us every day. Social Media is full to the brim with people trying to convince us that they have a perfect life. But do you know what? It isn't actually that hard to move towards this loveliness. Change one thing in your environment every day. Maybe buy a houseplant for a dull corner of your room. Tidy each night before you go to bed so that you wake up to a more serene room. Make yourself something to change the way you feel about the morning.

That is actually my point (trust me I do have one) for this week's offering to you. I have a beautiful cup and saucer and I drink pink tea from it. It is a Twinings strawberry and raspberry one and it is bliss! It is just sweet enough so it doesn't need sugar and it stops my cravings for other sweet things.

I have found that if I use a cafetiere with three tea bags in, I can have about four cups. Practical. It fits on my desk better than a round teapot too. Also practical. But do you know what? My cafetiere is UGLY! Functional but not summery enough. I know, more middle class problems. 

Not the worst thing in the world. Just not quite right for the current mood.

Well, that is the one thing that I will change today. Make that cafetiere less ugly until I can find one that I love to go with my cup and until I can justify the purchase.

No business hanging out with my pretty cup and saucer!
It would possibly be easier just to go and buy a new one right now. I could click away from here and have something beautiful delivered in a day or two. But why would I do that? The one that I have has nothing wrong with it and it would be a bit wasteful to get a new one just because. 

So in the spirit of not spending a huge amount of money and making this better, I am going to make it a little coat. From Liberty scraps. And I shall show you what I do so that you can make one thing in your life better too.

What do we need then?
A few pretty scraps of fabric. I am using the quintessentially English Liberty lawns which are from They have a wonderful range and you can buy scrap bags (I know right!) which are the most exciting thing because you never know what you will get.
F8th of fabric for the lining. Liberty again!
F8th of wadding. I am using Thermolam by Vlieseline
a pretty button
Some elastic or cord
a label or similar to anchor the cord
bias binding
Your usual sewing needs 

Righto, let's begin be measuring the cafetiere. I want my cover to go around the whole thing and just meet in the handle section. So measure around and add 1 cm (3/8 in). Measure the height and add the same. This will give you a comfortable amount to trim away. You now have a rectangle.

Take the wadding and draw (with a soluble marker), the rectangle that you just measured. This will give you the height and the width plus the extra.
The idea now is to 'colour this in' with the liberty strips. Cut the first strip. It can be as wide as you like but it must be long enough to cover the width of the rectangle like this....

Place the first strip on face up and then channel quilt it.Cut another random strip and this time, lay it over the first with the right sides together and sew the right hand seam...

Unfold the strip. Press it lightly and then channel quilt it too....

Keep going until you have the whole rectangle coloured in....

You could put the backing fabric on at the same time and do the whole thing in one step but I don't like that because you end up with a lot of messy lines on the back from adding the strips. Because this is such a small make,  it will be fine like this.

Redraw your rectangle now, cut the front out and round the corners...

Fit it onto your cafetiere (or whatever) and trim if needed. When you are happy, round the corners with something like a small cup and attach the backing fabric.
Bind with your chosen binding....

Great use for scraps too precious to throw away.

The rounded corners make binding a breeze - no mitring!
To keep it in place, add the button to one side and the elastic or cord to the other...

I have used a snippet of bright gold bias binding because gold is sort of having a moment right now.

And that's actually it! Go and put that kettle on and grab your current read. I am working my way through Jean Plaidy's Tudor series at the moment. 

LOVE Tudor history!
These are out of print but you can find them on Amazon or at a market. I love the way the story rolls along, taking the reader with it. I cannot tell you how many times I have read these since I found them in high school and I will continue to do so because they are my firm favourites. 

I would love to meet Anne Boleyn's ghost just so I could tell her that I believed her and that she was treated awfully.

Well thank you for visiting today and now go out into your world and find something to make prettier. See you next time!

Love and Hugs