You might remember my mentioning I went on a little trip to Germany recently? I went a-visiting a wonderful little family who I miss very much. Capitalising on their crafty house guest there were some birthday preparations to be done. So aside from baking over 70 cupcakes (very popular little chap) there was the small matter of inviting other little people to come and eat them.
They were throwing a garden party with lots of traditional German party games, I really wish I’d have stuck around a bit longer to join in! So Mr Freddie and I crafted some invites that were fun and festive and will adapt to any theme or themeless party you’ve got going on.
You will need
A4 Card/thick paper (one per guest and an extra for the birthday boy/girl)
Draw round the template onto each piece of card and cut out a hat for each guest, not forgetting one for the birthday boy or girl.
Use a hole punch or something sharp poke holes in each hat (as marked on the template).
Using an open pair of scissors and a ruler score along the dotted line to create a flap.
Decorate! Use your (or your child’s) imagination, Freds and I used foam shapes, stickers and glitter that mummy already had in stock. We also cut some shapes out from the left over card so as not to waste anything.
You can use whatever you can get your hands on, cut outs from old magazines/buttons/feathers/draw pictures or each child’s name. Your only limit is the attention span of the child in question!
(don’t decorate the flap)
Cut two lengths of string for each hat. Use the child you already have in stock to get an idea of length, you need to be able to tie a bow under their chins. Doing it this way rather than one loop means they are adjustable for each guest.
Add the party details on the other side and voila! Your hats are ready to give out. Each guest is in charge of assembling their hat and bringing it with them to the party (worth having one or two spare just in case!)
To stick together just glue the flap (with the hat right side up) and stick underneath the opposite edge.
Yo. Another Monday, another blog from me. It’s sort of a cheat really, as it’s a spin off from this present I made for my friend Beth a few months ago. I made one for each week she was away travelling, I hope she’s having as much fun reading them as I had writing them. I MISS her.
I’ve been reflecting a whole lot lately on what wonderful friends I have. Beth is truly one of life’s diamonds (I promise I’m not usually this cheesy).
So if you have a special someone in your life, take a moment to make them a little love letter and let them know how much they are valued.
You will need
Large pieces of pretty card/paper (mine are scrapbook sheets 12″x 12″)
Something round/set of compasses
The outpourings of your heart
Using a piece of plain paper/newspaper/greaseproof the same size as your proper paper, make a heart template.
I did this by folding the template paper in half and drawing a circle to almost full width. Then use a ruler and draw a line from the edge of the circle towards the fold to make a point.
Cut out and unfold. Voila.
Draw round the template on your nice paper/card. Don’t be a peasant – use pencil.
Cut out as many as you need. I appreciate for you guys this might just be one, not everyone fancies their friends as much as I do.
Turn the heart around so the point is facing away from you, and fold the sides in. You might want to use the scissor blades to score the lines first if you are using thicker stock.
Fold the domed bits up to make the bottom of the envelope. Finally, fold the point down to make the flap.
A disclaimer for this step is to practice on the template version first so you have the right dimensions, to make sure your envelope doesn’t have any gaps. You’ll see what I mean.
I folded strips of A4 and stuck one section to the back of the heart so it kind of pulls out. You might prefer to write straight onto the it if your paper doesn’t have such busy patterns.
I stuck a button on each of mine to close them.
Enjoy telling people the people you love that they are great!
Well hi. Apologies for being MIA, sometimes the blog falls victim to life’s unpredictability, but I’m back, and thanks for sticking with it.
I had a birthday recently, so in honour of my stepping over the early-mid twenties boundary *weeps silently* I have devised an excellent little make to help your gifts stand out from the crowd. You can make a load of these up in one go so that you have a good stock of supplies to whip out at a moment’s notice.
You will need
Cheerful patterned paper
Some plain card or paper
Strong quick drying glue
Cut your paper into long strips.
The width is up to you, but bear in mind it will be the radius of your tag. I found the thicker the strip, the longer it needs to be to work (I didn’t deserve my Maths GCSE for not knowing that instinctually) so you may need to tape two strips together if you want big tags.
All will become clear.
Fold the strips into a concertina (one bit forward, one back, just like in primary school when you made paper fans).
Stick together the two ends of each strip so that you have the star shape type things above.
Pick up your stars and push the top edges into the middle to make these circular flowery fan things.
Put a small dab of strong glue on the centre and hold until stuck (I mean super glue really, I have zero patience for anything else, and glue burns to prove it). On that note, be careful it doesn’t drip all the way through the middle while you’re holding it – unless you want a charming new finger accessory.
Stick a button over the join in the middle.
Find something circular that matches the size of your tags (or use a set of compasses). You want the circle to be a bit smaller than the tag itself.
Cut said circles out from plain coloured card and use a hole punch to make, well, a hole.
Loop a short length of ribbon through the hole.
Stick the card disks to the backs of the tags using double sided tape or glue.
Write your meaningful and heartfelt congratulations that the birthday person is still alive on the reverse.
Affix to gift.
Smugly produce your beautifully tagged gift at the appropriate moment.
This weekend I decided to make a book. It was pretty satisfying holding the finished product, so I definitely encourage you to have a go, even if you never write in it, just put it on a shelf and admire it, that’s what I’m doing at the moment. It was pretty cheap too and will keep you busy for a while (January budget strikes again – you might even have all the ingredients!)
You will need:
A sheet of thick card (this will be your cover)
Good quality paper/thin card (at least 28 sheets)
Fabric/Adhesive fabric roll
Nice quality paper for inside cover
Craft knife and cutting mat (ideally, but scissors will work too)
Needle and thread
Depending on the size of your thick piece of card you may need to trim your paper sheets. I bought my card from The Range, and it’s artists’ backing board so it came in standard sizes. I got A4, and then realised once I got home that the inside paper was A4 too. Error. You need to cut a spine from your cardboard, so whatever goes inside needs to be smaller to begin with.
Fortunately I have a paper trimmer left over from my A level Art days. So I cut my inside sheets to 25cm x 19cm.
Then you need to score all your sheets in the middle so you get a clean fold. Don’t use the craft knife for this or chances are you’ll slice straight through. Regular scissors are good.
Stick a bit of music on, you’ll be here a little while.
Fold fold fold.
Put your folded paper into four or more equal size booklets, you need at least four. The number of sheets of paper you need will depend on the thickness of it and the number of pages you want. I’ll let you figure that out. As you can see, I used different pastel coloured papers; take advantage of it being made from scratch and mix it up a little. You could do each booklet in a different colour or alternate them more regularly like I did.
Poke at least five holes through the fold of each booklet with a needle. Make sure you do this over a blob of blu-tac in true Blue Peter style.
Sew each booklet together using a double threaded needle. You will need a big knot at the end of your thread to stop it from pulling through on your first stitch. I used backstitch and went over mine twice to make it super strong. (If you aren’t sure how to back stitch then have a little google, don’t shy away now…you can do it)
You will see that the non-fold edges of your booklet don’t line up because they are tucked inside each other. Now, you can leave it like that and just have a jagged (whatever the word is for the opposite to spine), but mine was fairly bad, as I used really thick paper – it was basically card.
So, top tip for you if you don’t own a guollutine (99% of people in the world)…use a bread knife! I know it sounds silly, but after hacking away for ages at the first one with a craft knife to the point where I just couldn’t get a straight edge for the life of me, I was beginning to wish I hadn’t bothered.
Then, eureka moment! Got myself set up on the chopping board with a ruler as the guide and it all ended happily ever after…well…still not quite perfect, but a heck of a lot better than the first one.
Once your booklets are all sewn and trimmed, hold together with a bulldog clip at the top and bottom, ensuring the spines are level.
Use the PVA to glue to a scrap of fabric as shown above. If you don’t have spare fabric (I cut up an old pillow case) then a piece of paper will work too, it just won’t be quite so strong.
I used some double sided tape to hem the edges of the fabric at the top and bottom. Leave enough scrap on either side to secure it to the cover well later. There’s no need to hem the long edges as they will be completely covered.
Set aside to dry thoroughly. Overnight if you can.
Time to make the cover!
Measure the width of your booklet spines, mark out a strip of card the same width for the spine of the cover.
Then mark out larger pieces for the front and back covers. These should be a centimetre wider than your booklet width and 2cm longer than the height.
Using a craft knife and ruler for best results, carefully trim cover pieces and discard any excess card.
Size up the fabric allowing for at least 2-3cm around the edges of the whole height and width when laid out as above. Add a little space either side of your spine as shown above.
Now, a note about the material. I got this roll of adhesive fabric that just made this bit so wonderfully easy. It’s like sticky back plastic without the angst, you just peel off the white bit and it sticks really nicely to the card. It was £4.50 for a roll in HobbyCraft, and will cover two books this size with some left over to cover a set of matching pencils or something.
If you are using regular fabric you just need to give it a generous covering in PVA and be more patient waiting for it to dry before moving on.
Trim the corners to avoid excess bulk, use fairly wide angles so that all the corners get properly covered. There’s no need for a huge amount of precision here.
Stick the edges down, being sure to pull tight for a nice sharp finish. If you’re using PVA leave to dry.
Line up the spine of your booklet with the cover spine. Stick the paper or fabric flaps to the cover. DO NOT stick the spine itself down or you won’t be able to open the pages properly.
I used double sided tape for this, and that seems to hold really well and eliminates drying time. Again, PVA will work for this too, so just go with what you’ve got available.
Cut two pieces of card or heavy paper for the inside covers. If this is nice and thick it will cover a world of sins! Also, it’s worth getting hold of something attractive as it adds that little extra when you open it.
This should basically be the same size as one of your folded pages from earlier, so mine was 25cm x 19cm.
Score and fold (score on the outside of the fold so you won’t see it on the end product).
Stick the inside covers to the book. Again I used double sided tape, if you use PVA for this be careful not to overdo it as your paper will bubble.
Stick to the booklet first, lining it up perfectly with the outside page. Then lift your cover to a 45 degree angle and attach there as well. Close the book and press down. If using PVA leave cover open to dry.
A little close up of the paper I used.
Give yourself a pat on the back, you just made a BOOK.
Let me take you on a journey. It all starts back in 2006 when Pa and I first went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. This becomes an annual event.
Fast forward to 2013, and I visit a marvellous German zoo. The Germans sure know how to do a zoo. I walk into a dark room and floor to ceiling there’s all these manatees just gazing back through the glass, floating and grinning. (I’m sure they were grinning). And I just stand there super impressed by how insane they are, so friendly looking that they are both the ugliest and cutest thing in the world. I could have stayed there all day (and not just because it was 36C outside and my skin is almost see-through) That tank of manatees was like a giant lava lamp. I mean, what?
December rolls round and we hit the exhibit, and behold, this glorious photo by Douglas Seifert. By now I’m in love. (officially this is a dugong not a manatee, but I’m no marine biologist, these things are just as wonderful)
Travelling Companions by Douglas Seifert (USA)
And now to the present day. I’ve started a blog and I’m planning projects. I think about potential subjects. I have to say, if any animals are owning the craft scene right now it’s whales and foxes. If you don’t believe me just search Pinterest for DIY whale/fox. They are in VOGUE. But I’m not the only one who watched Black Fish right? And I’m even more sure I’m not the only one with a conspiracy theory about the urban takeover being planned by our furry orange friends.
Manatees would never.
So I present to you Sea Cow Stamps. We’re setting a new trend here folks go with me on this.
Along with the above justifications, it’s no secret January is rough on the financials. So this little postlet is a little something you can do for about £3, or 50p if you already have a pad of ink somewhere in the recesses of your crafting supplies.
You will need:
A sheet of craft foam
An ink pad
Something to stick your stamp to
Craft knife and cutting mat/Scissors
Draw your design onto the foam with a pencil, try not to press too hard or you will alter the texture of your stamp.
Just draw it how you want to see it stamped in the end…don’t worry if you have a few tries, just remember which line you want to cut. I modelled mine on this snap I found on google images, I find it sometimes helpsto have a reference point.
If you’re doing this with kids try to encourage them to avoid fiddly lines etc, as you’re going to end up being the guy carving the foam all afternoon not them…
Cut out your design with a craft knife or scissors. Either is fine.
Pop your shape out of the foam and flip over. This is your chance to neaten up, I used nail scissors for accuracy. If you’re doing lines and facial features spend a little time on this bit. The pencil free side is the one you will be applying ink to.
I discovered that everything I had cut was a lot more obvious when I stamped, so don’t worry if your lines look a bit thin, you can always take more away, but you can’t put it back. It’s sort of like a haircut in that way…
Stick your shapes onto something, pencil side down (remember they need to be back to front because you’re going to flip it over).
The more solid a base the better really. I decided to do this a couple of days after bin day and there was only newspaper and toilet roll in the recycling bin. So I pinched the box from my dad’s muesli (you’re welcome dad). Honestly? This was less than ideal. The flatter and firmer your base is, the less ink you will get transferring that isn’t part of your picture, and the better force you will have to stamp with.
If you know someone handy, ask them to chop you some wood pieces. I plan on migrating these chaps over to wood at some point, I just need to get myself a saw, which I’m sure will be music to boyfriend’s ears…I’m not clumsy AT ALL.
This is fun. My advice – cover the table in newspaper and have a few practice goes before you go for the real thing. You’ll find if your stamps are as big as mine you need to put the stamp on some newspaper, turn the pad over and sort of dab it on, quite liberally.
Use the side of your fist to rub the stamp onto your card. Sometimes they come out better than others, I’m still yet to get exactly what I want, so just enjoy it.
If you want to do lots of different colours start with the lightest first and wipe off any excess ink with a baby wipe between colours.
I made cards with mine, see below, but I also have plans to put the whole scene together on some brown paper for gift wrap at some point, and I’m sure there’s a whole load of other things to decorate too.
I also plan to digitise my little buddies so you can print them and use them for your own. But I need to be waaay better than I am at graphics software before that happens, so I’m afraid it may take a little while.
The best thing about this project is that you can make a full set of your own stationary. Check out the envelope below. I made a speech bubble for the address, and popped the little guy on the back.
If anyone is curious about the text on the cards above, and is UK based, I got the alphabet stamps from The Range. They do loads of little alphabet blocks with different fonts and THEY ARE ONLY 99p EACH. They are my Pokemon. Literally, never go to HobbyCraft again.
Have a wonderful week chaps.
DISCLAIMER: I reserve the right to make fox or whale themed crafts in the future.
I don’t know about you but I’m always taken by surprise when New Year rolls around, I’m so distracted by Christmas it’s a bit ‘oh! there you are’ on NYE.
If your experience is anything like mine you’ll need a make which is easy on the budget and low hassle. I present to you cut out party hats.
You will need:
A4 coloured card/paper (one sheet per hat)
Glue/Double sided tape
Cut a corner off your sheet, at a 45 degree angle. Don’t worry if you don’t have a protractor – just fold a scrap piece of paper to a point on one of the corners and use as a guide.
Make the first fold by matching your cut edge to the top edge of the paper. Essentially making a point from that wide angle you just created.
Fold at least twice more. My paper was quite thick so this is as far as mine would go without forcing it, but feel free to keep folding.
Find the shortest edge going across your hat, and cut the excess off at this point.
Unfold to check your curve is ok, if not neaten any points with scissors.
Fold back up and make your cuts. This is generally easier with paper but then if you over cut you weaken your hat so keep a good balance!
Make sure you keep a line at the bottom in tact so you can add your string and wear your hat.
Unfold and survey your masterpiece.
Iron this flat or leave under a heavy box/book for a few hours. The thinner your paper/card the more of your creases you will get out, but don’t worry too much, you won’t really notice on the finished item.
Retrieve that discarded corner from earlier, and cut a strip from the longest edge.
Cover in glue or double sided tape and assemble your hat. I then cut a second strip and stuck inside to strengthen the hold.
Bit of a Blue Peter moment here…place bit of blu tac/banana under your hat edge and use something sharp to make a hole. Repeat on opposite side.
Now, I had some elastic lying around. If you do too, measure it under your chin and round the sides of your head, but make sure to cut it slightly shorter than this distance so that there’s some pull to keep it in place. Push through the hole and tie a knot on the inside.
If you don’t have elastic do not despair; string or thin wool will work too, you can just do two long strips and tie in a bow under your chin.
Three and a bit years ago I stumbled across a marvellous young lady called Anna. She gave me the inspiration to start a new Christmas tradition. I implore you to do the same, there is very little as satisfying as creating a freestanding gingerbread structure – and I won’t lie, it helps that you have a year in between to recover and block out all the royal icing acrobatics it took you to get there.
Apologies in advance for some of the slightly odd measurements below, the recipe is a bit inbred at this stage. Original credit goes to Anna, but I’m not convinced she would still want ownership given my Canadian to English translations and elaboration on the method (I lost the original).
Things you need:
Plain flour: 1lb 10.5 oz/750g/5 cups
Soft light brown sugar: 5oz/140g/1 cup
Unsalted butter: 7oz/200g/1 cup
Treacle: 5 tbsp
Golden syrup: 8 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Ground ginger: 2 tsp
Cinnamon: 2 tsp
Nutmeg: 1 tsp
Royal icing: probably 2 boxes
A lot of sweets
A base (I used an upturned tray)
Patience: a generous glug
Draw out your design on greaseproof paper. I did write down the dimensions of mine but I suspect it ended up in the recycling with a flurry of lists and post-it notes, but it is relatively straightforward maths.
Measure your baking trays and base first. I hope that doesn’t sound too obvious, I’ve had to go back to the drawing board before now, after realising to my disappointment that I don’t own industrial equipment.
When drawing the chimney, draw it directly onto the roof so that it is definitely at the right angle to put on your house later (see photo above left). Don’t forget you need two little rectangles as well, one the same height as the short edge, and one the same as the longer side – they should be the same width.
Draw the front and sides first so you can take the measurements for your roof from those, make sure you add a little for overhang etc.
Mark x2 or x1 and something to identify the pieces on each – they have a tendency to become unrecognisable at some stage.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. You will need a large bowl.
Put butter, golden syrup, treacle and sugar into a saucepan and gently heat until sugar has melted.
Beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl and mix into flour mixture. Alternatively you can mix them with the treacle and syrup at an earlier stage and not heat these with the butter.
Pour in butter and treacle mixture.
Stir wet ingredients into dry. Place bowl outside or in the fridge until completely cool.
Dust a large work surface thoroughly with plain flour. Take a third to half of the mixture and mould into a ball.
Sprinkle dough and rolling pin with more flour and roll out. Make sure you keep turning the dough to keep it as square as possible. You want it to be about 5mm thick.
Grease baking trays well and then cut out all your shapes.
A tip with the larger pieces is to define the rough shape and then transfer to baking tray, in order to finish cutting once it’s on the tray. This will stop it stretching when you move it, as it’s fairly important to keep the edges as straight as possible. Of course, if your baking trays hate you as much as mine do, then they will warp themselves in the heat of the oven just to mock you.
When cutting out the chimney, flip the template over so that you can have pieces with right sides facing out all around.
Keep rolling and cutting until you have all the pieces you need.
If you want a stained glass window effect then put some boiled sweets in a sandwich bag and pound them to dust with a rolling pin. This takes a bit of welly, so best to do it at a sociable hour to keep the neighbours happy…sorry Audrey…
Fill your window gaps with the crushed sweets.
The bottom-right photo shows you my fatal mistake. For any pieces with windows like these, put greaseproof on the tray first. Otherwise you might have a spot of bother removing it due to its size, fragility, and your patience levels…more on that later.
Bake the pieces in the oven at gas mark 4/180 C/350 F.
Keep an eye on them, as different pieces will bake at different speeds, from 10 mins to 25! It’s always better to go a bit over than under though, as you can cover the darker areas in sweets, but nothing can hide/save a caved in roof because the biscuit was too soft. Having said that, my sister did prop my first roof up with a gingerbread dinosaur when I had that exact problem, so all is never lost.
Stay tuned! I will be posting a guide to assembling and decorating later this week.
When it comes to Christmas I’m still a massive kid. Waking up in the morning and realising there’s a choccie waiting downstairs is just about enough for me to drag myself out of bed on dark winter mornings.
There’s a problem though right? Advent calendars are either ridiculously pricey, or really rubbish quality. So here’s a way round that. It keeps the kids (or you) busy all afternoon and is actually something worth getting out of bed for.
Things you need:
Egg Box (or two)
Box of your favourite chocs
Glitter/Wrapping Paper/Bits to decorate with
Prepare your egg box. I got mine from a local café where they use a heck of a lot of eggs. These ones are the best because the raised bits are level with the side of the box.
If you aren’t lucky enough to find someone who uses these, you just need to get two 12 packs of eggs (ask your neighbours/colleagues to save them). You will need to chop the raised dividing things so that they are level with the box. Keep the first box in tact, cut the second in two and stick the egg holding section into the lid of the first.
Me? I just had to snip off a line of 6 so I had my 24. It’s definitely worth trying to get hold of one of these.
Tip all of your chocolates out, and choose your favourite 24. There’s loads of offers on these at the moment, the ones I used were £2 a box. I’m afraid I didn’t count how many there are, but I got two to be safe and they would have easily done two calendars. There might be a bit of compromise needed if you have two little ones! I got to choose all the best ones just for me.
You could also buy a block of chocolate/box of malteasers and wrap individual portions in tinfoil.
Fill your egg box, trying to make sure the sweets don’t go above the top of the highest points. A bit of extra twisting and poking required.
Put a dab of glue on each of the divider thingys. Cover with two sheets of tissue, making sure that there’s enough overlapping the sides for turning under later.
Make sure to press the tissue down on each spot of glue, you don’t want to be ripping two days off accidentally. It’s ok if it seeps through a bit.
Set to one side to dry; no need to worry about the loose tissue around the edge for now.
Unfold the chocolate box (or use a cereal box instead if you went along the malteaser route). Find something that’s smaller than the egg gap to draw round. Make sure you have 24 and cut them out. If you are doing this with very small people you may want to do this part in advance.
Plonk yourself down in front of a Christmas film with a box of glitter and pens and let your imagination run wild. The best thing about these is that any age or ability can do one and it doesn’t matter what it looks like, Christmas is meant to be a bit kitsch!
Who doesn’t still love a bit of glitter at Christmas?! A cocktail stick will help you keep numbers really neat.
For any little ones (or bigger ones) who don’t like drawing or experimenting, wrapping paper is quick, easy, and effective.
Turn over your egg box and secure the overlapping tissue to the bottom – great practice for all that present wrapping in a few weeks.
Use PVA to stick all your circles to the spaces above the chocolates. I also decided to stick some buttons and ribbons to mine.