Hello and welcome to I’m a wife, mom, granny and maker.  I started this blog in 2011 in order to complete my huge pile of UFPs (Unfinished Projects).  I finished many of them but also started a lot and the pile hasn’t really diminished. Join me and follow my progress or get in touch with the stories about your own UFPs.

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).

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.

25. Paper bag Made From a Comic

Another busy week at work so I was looking for something very quick and easy as a make and mistakenly thought a paper bag would fit the bill. I had several tries at this, this is the one that worked!  The bag is made just like wrapping a gift but leaving one end open.

I had some lovely heavy paper that was originally a poster that came free with a newspaper.

The picture above shows it cut in half with the top folded over about 1cm and glued down.

I then found a large heavy book and folded the paper around it. Folded over the edge again and glued it down.

Next I tucked in the base just like wrapping a present and glued it closed.  Standing the book upright on top of the glued paper held it all together while it dried.

I then sharpened the creased edges of the bag and  used a two hole punch to make holes for the ribbon on both sides of the bag.

I mentioned at the beginning that it was third time lucky for this make. Here are the first two efforts:

The first one I tried to make following instructions on a you tube video…disaster!

And this one looks good but would hold nothing of any weight at all as the bottom of the bag was made like this:

Cutting slits in each corner and then folding the bottom in.

I will get some card and strengthen this one but not today – I’m all bagged out.

20. Renewing Some Old Chairs

Several batches of Elderflower Cordial made since last week’s post so not much time for any other makes. However, I have managed to renew some old chairs so I think I’ll make them post number 20.

These chairs have been languishing in our shed and badly needed some tlc.  We bought them in the mid 1980s from Habitat and despite having had their legs chewed by a couple of enthusiastic puppies they are still sound – apart from needing to be recovered.

I started by using an allen key to take the seats off the frames.

The next step was to remove the staples that held the old covers in place.

I started to do this using a screwdriver but then husband intervened (as usually happens when I produce a screwdriver – a terrifying prospect for an avid do-it-yourselfer). He produced a special ‘get staples out of wood’ tool which was much more efficient at the job.

Next step was to cut the fabric that I chose for the covers.  Once again another piece from my stash – this blog has been a wonderful way to reduce the mountain of fabric that has been growing in our spare room!

I used a piece of bright turquoise, thick cotton fabric – about gabardine weight.  I placed the seats upside down on the fabric and cut out the shape allowing enough to wrap over the top and fix to the underside.

I then wrapped the fabric over the seat and folded it at the corners like I was wrapping a present and stapled it in place remembering to leave the holes where the bolts fitted exposed.

Once I’d stapled around the whole seat, I re-attached it to the frame and had a new looking chair. I really must paint over the chew marks!

19. Elderflower Cordial

The observant amongst you may have noticed that I’ve skipped from number 17 to number 19 in the list of makes for this year.  That is because I made a mistake and have two number 17s – oops.

Elderflower cordial one of the best of the late spring/early summer drinks.  I made several versions of this last year using different recipes and am using the most successful for this post.  This cordial is a favourite of our family, especially when mixed with sparkling water and ice on a hot summer day.  The only downside is that the season for elderflowers is short and I find it nearly impossible to keep up production with the speed at which it is drunk in our house!

The elderflowers started appearing on the trees in our area last week so time to get to the shops to buy the rest of the ingredients: sugar (caster is best); lemons and citric acid.  The first 2 of these are easy to come by, citric acid not so much.  Last year it was scarce but this year it is even more difficult to get hold of.

My first stop to find some was the pharmacy section of our local Sainsburys. ‘No, we are out of stock. No, we won’t be getting more soon.  We only get what we are sent and can’t order more. Yes, we know there is a call for it at this time of year, lots of people have been asking for it.’

Second stop was a small branch of Boots in our village. ‘No, we don’t stock this anymore. It can be abused.’ I was curious and in answer to my query the assistant whispered, ‘bombs’. She suggested I try the health food store in the village when I reassured her that all I wanted to make was elderflower cordial.

Third time lucky, ‘Squirrels‘ our local health food store stocked it in its home brew section. I mentioned to the friendly assistant what Boots had said – she was surprised but also told me she had heard of other ways in which it was abused.  I had no idea that this simple ingredient would be in such demand.  I think I’ll stock up before it becomes a banned substance altogether!

On to the recipe.  This is what you will need:

20 heads of elderflowers

1.5 litres water

1.4 kg caster sugar

2 lemons- preferably unwaxed and sliced thinly

50g citric acid

Shake the elderflowers to remove any little bugs, rinse under the tap and place in a large bowl.

Add the sliced lemons to the bowl.

Now put the water into a large pan, add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.

Once boiled, remove from the heat and add the citric acid. It will fizz up a bit so make sure you are using a big enough pan.

Add the syrup mixture to the bowl of elderflowers and lemons.

Cover with a clean tea towel and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

The next day get ready to bottle the cordial.  We drink shop bought elderflower cordial during the rest of the year so I’ve been saving the bottles but you can use just about any screw top glass bottle.  You will also need a couple of jugs, a ladle, some muslin (I’ve heard some people use a J cloth – I use a jelly-making fine mesh bag) and a funnel.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 1/140C/275F/. Wash the bottles in hot soapy water, rinse and drain. Place the bottles in the oven for at least 30 minutes. (Use oven gloves to remove them from the oven.)

While the bottles are in the oven, boil a kettle and scald the jugs, funnel, ladle, muslin and bottle tops.

Once the bottles are sterilised, place the funnel inside the first one and the muslin inside one of the jugs. Ladle the elderflower mixture into the muslin and then when the jug is full, rest the muslin in the other jug and  transfer the cordial to the bottles, screwing the tops on as each is filled. (I say this as I’ve swiped a full but uncapped bottle off the counter with my arm before now).

The bottles will keep in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 months.  It will freeze too (but not in a glass bottle!).

More Year Long Creative Projects

365: A Daily Creativity Journal
Noah Scalin’s book offers 365 project prompts to kick start your creativity, plus plenty of room for journaling, sketching, and jotting down ideas. Learn how to choose your subject and document your work, and see examples from other artists and crafters who took the 365 challenge. In addition, master new techniques to incorporate into your projects, including quilling, clay-making, paper pop-up engineering, and more.

His blog,  Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life offers even more inspiring, year long creative projects and is featuring madebypin this week : )  thank you, Noah!

17. Needle Felted Purse

This make came about because I wanted to make something special for a dear friend’s daughter’s 21st birthday. I’ve been waiting to post this until today as this is her birthday and I wanted to make sure that she opened it before she read how to make it!

I learned how to needle felt from Val who also showed me how to make paper. So far I’ve made many brooches and a couple of pictures but I wanted to make Lily something new and different.

I started off with a piece of soft felt roughly 48cm x 24cm.

Then using a needle felting tool I felted in some ‘Oliver Twist Silk Fibres’ (I bought these from Rainbow Silks – a treasure trove of beautiful creative supplies in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire – it’s next door to the Roald Dahl Museum if you want to make a day of it. They also do mail order if a trip isn’t possible.)

After I got the fibres in place, I sewed on some yarn and beads. (Scroll down for a picture.)

Once the decoration was all in place I cut a piece of lining fabric slightly larger than the piece of felt all the way around the rectangle.

For this purse I found a piece of beautiful, fine cotton Liberty print in my stash.

I pinned the lining to the felt, right sides together so that the lining would show slightly on the two shorter sides.

I then sewed the lining to the felt around 3 sides (the two longer sides and the short side just below the felted design). After turning right side out,  I closed the fourth edge by folding the lining over the felt slightly and hemming in place.

I then folded the fabric in three making a purse with flap and sewed up the sides of the purse part.

I used velcro to close the flap to the purse part.

At this point, I looked at the purse and thought, ‘This isn’t what I had in mind for Lily. Start again!’

I used black felt this time and followed the colours of the lining for the felting and beading.  I also added a label inside with her name and today’s date that I printed on fabric using Bubble Jet Set (more of this technique to come).

Happy birthday Lily!

Fund Raiser for Japan

Made4Aid are supporting a concert and fund raiser for the victims of the Japanese earthquake at Harrow School on Sunday 15th May.

I’ve donated some of the more successful makes from this blog and some of the brooches from my shop to Made4Aid who will be selling them at the concert. If you are in the area please go along and support this special cause.

More details here.

14. Spice Bleachers

This make is a little unusual, some (like husband) might even say ‘weird’.  But it has solved a problem in my kitchen cupboard and is made from recycled materials, so it makes me happy.

I’m not the tallest of people and our kitchen wall cupboards have been built by and for giants.  Consequently, I can’t see things that get pushed to the back and have wasted many minutes looking for specific herbs and spices, think we’ve run out, buy some more and then push those to the back too.

Then I had an idea…Herb and Spice Bleachers.  So now they are all stacked in rows of increasing height and are easily found.

I’d spent a few weeks trying to find suitable containers or boxes that I could build some bleachers with and at last, this week, hit upon the ideal thing. An empty cling film box. I then set about looking for more of similar that I could use.  Luckily, my mum had just finished off some foil and also cleared out her cupboard and provided me with several more boxes. Thanks mum!

Here is what you will need (ignore some of the things in the photograph, I found after I started that I didn’t need glue and a brush).

Empty paper/film/foil boxes (keep the cardboard tube inside as it gives them some stability)

Masking tape

Clear sticky tape

Old food/recipe magazine

Double sided sticky pads (I got mine in the Pound Shop)

Take any sharp cutting pieces off the boxes or fold the top over them.

Stick the boxes together with masking tape.

If the box doesn’t have a strong cardboard inner tube then stuff it with crumpled newspaper or some of the magazine pages.

Before you cover each box, check how they will fit together in your cupboard.

Next choose some interesting pages from the magazine and cover each box like you are wrapping a gift. Sticking the paper down with clear sticky tape.

Unless you have a really large magazine, you will need to overlap the pages.

Starting at the back of the bleachers stick the boxes together with the double sided sticky pads…or if you don’t have these use sticky tape.

Place inside your cupboard and add the herbs and spices.

My very funny daughter added some props when I wasn’t looking:

Michael McIntyre talks about his herbs and spices – this is hilarious!