55. Word Bird

It has been a hectic week so far.  I realised this morning that I didn’t have a make ready to publish so decided to take an hour out this afternoon to get one ready.  I enjoyed making this so much that I forgot to take photographs at each stage and totally lost track of time. That must be a sign of a good make.

The directions for this make are by Ann Ellis in the January/February 2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors

I started by roughly drawing a body, wing and beak shape on cardboard as Ann suggests.

Then I cut the shapes out:

and this is where I got lost in a dream of tissue paper and glue and forgot to take any more photographs.

The steps are very simple: tear up tissue paper, stick it to the body, wing and beak. Then embellish.

Attach the finished bird to a skewer or other handy stick and admire.

January 26, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Paper, recycled. 3 comments.

54. Lion Hat – guest post by Sierra Lima November

This is a guest post from Sierra Lima November

This Christmas, I decided to make all the presents to give to my friends and family.  This spilled over into January. Some time ago, my brother had a Lion Hat which got lost/given away, so I decided to make one to replace it for his birthday.

Here’s how I made it.

1. First I got my brother’s girlfriend to measure his head.  She did a great job of measuring while he was asleep.

2.  Then I got a pattern from the excellent website www.fleecefun.com and thought about how I could modify it to make the Lion Hat I wanted to make.  The pattern itself can be found at http://www.fleecefun.com/halloween-hat-pack.html .

3.  I then had to decide whether the Lion had more bear-like ears or more cat-like. With the help of one of my son’s toys, I decided they were more bear-like.

4.  Then cutting the pieces.  I added for the lion some triangles of felt for the mane.

5. I then sewed all the layers together

6. Then I pinned and sewed the bottom, which was actually really cool as it made the mane stand up.

7. The final hat….

Thank you so much to www.fleecefun.com   for the original pattern – it is amazing and so easy to make and for allowing me to post this with my modifications!

Here is the hat in action on the slopes in France

January 18, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Fabric. Leave a comment.

53. Decorated Coat Hanger

This make has been languishing at the bottom of my makes basket for a year.  I picked it up many times and then always decided to wait until I got some Mod Podge.  As some very dear people gave me some, I was able to try it out.  It’s great and I think there will be a lot more makes with it in the year to come.

You may have noticed a new button on my blog to the top and right of this post – Pinterest. This is a virtual pinboard where you can save things you find around the web.  It is absorbing and truly fascinating to look at other people’s pinboards and discover all kinds of useful and interesting stuff.  So if you feel like having a look around, just click the button.

This make starts with an old wooden coat hanger and some recycled tissue paper that was way too beautiful to throw away.

I cut the shape of the hanger out of the tissue paper, leaving some extra paper to fold over the top and bottom.  I cut notches to fit it around the bends.

Then I glued it down with Mod Podge and repeated the procedure for the other side.

Once the paper was all stuck down and dry, I cut out some words and stuck them on too. Then I covered the whole lot with another layer of Mod Podge.

(Thank you  Kelly Rae Roberts for the inspiration).

January 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Paper, recycled. Leave a comment.

More Makes for 2012

I’ve had so much fun making something new every week in 2011 that I’ve decided to keep going.  I’m not promising something completely new every week but neither will any make be exactly the same as any that have gone before.  I hope you’ll continue reading, commenting and experimenting along with me.

January 3, 2012. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

52. Hopes and Wishes Chest

And here we are at the last post of the made by pin year.  I’ve made it…or rather, I’ve made a year’s worth.

This last make is a Hope and Wishes Chest for the new year.

I bought some blank chest shaped boxes.  (I learned my lesson from the very first make – an attempt at making a box!)


I found that it if you aren’t going to paint these, it is best to cover them with very thin paper.

I used specially bought paper for the middle one above and it was too thick to stick down smoothly, especially over the curves.  The left hand one is covered with used stamps from around the world and the one on the right is covered in a replica of the very first copy of the Times of London.  ( I think this one is the most effective).

I then covered all of the paper with acrylic medium gel and left to dry.

After 24 hours, I printed, cut out and stuck on some words to the outside and a map to the inside of the lid.

This is when I discovered that the layer of paper had made the lids too thick to close over the bases easily. I remedied this by rubbing a candle over the parts that close which allowed them to open and close a lot easier.

I used them as gift boxes and hope they might be used to store the recipients hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

Happy New Year everyone!

January 2, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Paper, recycled. 4 comments.

51. Fabric Bag With Lots of Pockets

I cleared out my fabric stash cupboard this week and found quite a few projects that were started but not finished. Fortunately, not as many as there were at the beginning of the year and not all of them are mine. However, when I tried to give them back to their creators, they were all returned with, ‘oh, you can finish it or make it into something’ Some even denied having anything to do with them. (Could this be next year’s blog?)

This week’s make was a project I started ages ago.  I was going to make a matching cushion for some curtains I had made. You can tell how long ago this project was started by the fact that the curtains were put on freecycle last year and are long gone.

I still like the fabric and as I’d already quilted a huge piece of it, I decided to make it into a bag with lots of pockets.  It might be useful as a diaper/nappy bag or for lugging around crafting bits and pieces. The piece I’ve started with is a rectangle measuring 92cm x 41cm.

So, I finished the quilting off then added a pocket to the inside.  For this I folded a piece of contrasting fabric 25cm x 25cm in half, and sewed it to the inside of the bag along 3 sides. I then made this into 2 pockets by stitching along its height with contrasting thread.

Then I started to make the pockets on the outside.  This turned out to be a bit trial and error as I was making up how to do it as I went along.

For a large front pocket, the yellow one below, I used 2 squares of fabric 25cm x 25cm.  Sewed them right sides together on 3 sides, turned them right side out and sewed the top closed with contrasting stitching.

Then I made a run of pockets around the bottom of the bag using  a strip of the main fabric, 106cm x 40cm. I folded the strip in half lengthwise and placed the open edges along the bottom of the bag.  As this strip is slightly wider than the bag, I pinned it in place so that the pockets stuck out a bit like pouches. Hopefully this will mean that it will hold bulky items. At the front, I made a pleat in the strip in the hope that it might lie flat when nothing is in that pocket.

I then sewed the strip to the main part of the bag attaching it at the sides and bottom.

(The pocket didn’t lie flat so I slipped a piece of elastic into the top fold.)

I made the straps by using two strips of fabric folded over some batting and then stitching along the length.

I also used an old duffle coat toggle to the front and crocheted a strip of yarn as a loop fastening.

I was going to add this to the blog as make number 46 but have decided to give it to one of my lovely daughters so will save this make and publish it after Christmas.  As it is now Friday, I’m going to have to make something very quickly to get it in for this week.

December 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Fabric. Leave a comment.

50. Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake

Make number 50 already!  I can’t believe the year has gone so fast.

This week I’ve made Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake.  I don’t remember where the recipe came from originally but I’ve been making this version for at least 10 years.

It serves 10-12 and you will need a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. (Or as I’ve done this year, 2 x 20cm regular cake tins)

  • 450g of nuts (I use hazelnuts and walnuts.  This year I didn’t have quite enough so made up the balance with pecans)
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 5 drops of vanilla essence
  • 65ml brandy
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 large orange
  • Unsalted butter and breadcrumbs to prepare the tin/s.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.  Line the cake tin with greaseproof or baking parchment, then lightly grease this with a little unsalted butter.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Like this:

Whiz nuts and chocolate in a food processor or liquidiser until they are finely chopped but not ground. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, butter and sugar.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and then blend them in a little at a time to the mixture.

Add the finely chopped orange zest.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff peaks and then fold these into the mixture gently a little at a time.

Pour mixture into one or two already prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins for two tins or around 75 mins for one tin.  Test the cake by sticking a cocktail stick in the centre.  If it comes out without cake mix on it, the cakes are ready. (It will likely have melted chocolate on it, that is ok).

Rest the cakes for a five minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can either store the well wrapped cakes in the fridge for 2 weeks or freeze them.

Dust with icing sugar and its ready.

December 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Food & Drink. Leave a comment.

49. Christmas Gift Tags

This week’s make is super fast and a great way to keep the kids busy in the days running up to Christmas.

We’ve done this for as long as I remember in our house and it’s a great way to use old Christmas cards.

Cut up the fronts from old cards into gift size shapes, punch a hole in the corner and add a ribbon or as I’ve done here a piece of rafia.

December 15, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

48. The Best Fudge Ever

I think all the makes from now until the end will be suitable as gifts as I’m busy, busy, busy making things for friends and family for Christmas.

This week I’ve made fudge.

This recipe uses:

  • 125g butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk (410g)
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

1. Heat butter, milk and cream together in a large, heavy saucepan until it just starts to boil.

2. Turn the heat right down while you stir in the two sugars.

3. Turn the heat up again and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Keep stirring or it will stick and burn to the pan.  Boil it for about 25 minutes until it is roughly this colour:

4. You can test if it is ready to set in two ways.  (There may be more but these are the ones I use.) Either pull the spoon across the bottom of the pan and if it makes the mixture part so you can see the bottom of the pan it is done. Or, drop a small amount into a dish of cold water.  If it forms a soft ball that, if you push with your finger and it wrinkles, it is ready.  I’ve tried to take some pictures of this below.

Sorry, the second one is a little out of focus.

5. When it is ready, take it off the heat and beat in the vanilla essence.

6. Pour into the baking tray and leave to set.


7. After about 30 mins, cut the fudge into small squares – this is easy done when the fudge is still not completely set.

8. When it is set, remove from the tray, place into small cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon.

December 8, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Food & Drink. 2 comments.

47. Tartan Tote Bag

I’ve finished even closer to the wire with this week’s make.  Well, in truth, it has taken me 2 weeks as I have had to wait while ebay delivered me some brown canvas.

This make came about when I saw the price of some very trendy tote bags in one of the most popular stores for teenagers in the UK. Almost £50 is way too much for a fabric bag in my book so I set about making one.

The tartan in this bag was a remnant that had made its way into my fabric stash after my mum made herself a skirt in the early 70s. Yes, I keep fabric that long! I’m very pleased to find a good use for it at last.

I started by cutting a rectangle of tartan and a similar sized rectangle of lining then sewing them together along what would be the top edge of the bag.

I then cut another piece of tartan and matching piece of lining to make a front pocket.  I attached it at the top of the pocket and then folded it down about 1 cm so that the tartan folds over slightly.  I then sewed almost all the way round the remaining 3 sides, leaving a small gap to turn it right side out.  After turning and pressing, I attached it to the front of the bag with a row of top stitching.

And this is where I had to stop until the brown canvas arrived.

It also gave me some time to figure out how to finish the bag.

I cut two long, rectangular strips of canvas and folded and pressed the long sides in to make the handles.

I then folded them in half and started to topstitch along the edge.

And this is where the fun began…just after I took the photograph above, my trusty Singer sewing machine, that I bought in 1978, decided to quit.  Smoke billowed from its motor but luckily I was able to turn it off before any flames engulfed my precious bag handles.

My mum came to the rescue and has given me her machine to finish it off.  Thank you, mum!

After a bit of bobbin shenanigans and some oiling, the machine worked well (and is much smoother and quieter than mine ever was, I guess sewing machine technology has improved somewhat since 1978).

I attached the canvas to the bottom of the bag.

Sewed the handles on, added a small rectangle of canvas to the front pocket and closed the side seams.

Here it is.

December 2, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Fabric. 2 comments.

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