Monday, 31 January 2011

Tutorial: Button Badge Heart Picture

Button Badge Heart Picture by Brigitte Herod
£175 at Rockett St George
(Also check out the Scrabble LOVE YOU Picture, £59)

 Much as I love Brigitte Herrod’s ingenious ‘Button Badge Heart Picture’, I’m far from able to afford the £175 price tag.

So I got out my huge collection of badges and worked out how to make my own for free!
 My version; cost: free
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Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial for how to make a button badge heart picture of your very own.
You can either make a temporary version or a permanent version, depending on whether or not you want to reuse the badges!

Time needed: 1-2 hours

You’ll need:
Large selection of badges (try ebay for job lots)
Paper/card/board for background
Blu-tack (for temporary version)
Glue gun (for permanent version)
Frame (optional)

 1. Lightly draw a heart shape onto your background (I used a page from an A3 canvas paper pad). It doesn’t have to be perfect because you’ll adjust the shape as you go. 

2. Decide how you want to set out your badges. Start by setting some around the edge of the heart and then fill up the space inside. 

3. Stick the badges to the background. If using blu-tack, use a decent-sized piece on the pin of each badge. In cases where the badges overlap, stick a bit of blu-tack to the underside rim and affix the badge to the badge(s) it overlaps with. Work in a similar fashion if using a glue gun.

4. Once you’re finished, check all badges are attached securely and frame or display as wished.

  • If making this as a gift, include badges that are personal or hold special memories--a favourite animal, cartoon character or beverage, badges from trips out, etc.
  • Experiment with colour and patterns. This could be the background or the badges e.g. outline the heart with all red badges and fill the inside with black and white badges, or glue old newspaper to some board to great a more interesting background.
  • If you don’t have enough badges, why not try something else? Buttons, bottle caps, even jam jar lids could make a stunning alternative.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Valentine's Décor

The online world is brimming with Valentine's-related things, from prints and tins to tea cosies and cushions!

Here's a look at what is on offer at three fantastic online stores that provide everything you need to decorate your pad for Valentine's Day.

Bold & Noble

What they sell: Beautiful hand-pulled screen prints. Each one comes in a choice of colours and is printed on 100% recycled card--so your wall art is environmentally friendly! Their prints fit into standard off-the-shelf frames, meaning you won't have the extra hassle or expense of having a special frame made for your print. 
Bold & Noble offers a wide selection of prints featuring animals, text, maps, mottos and more! I particularly love their Hedgerow and Birds A-Z prints. 
The web site provides several pictures of each print--both in and out of a frame, plus a detailed close-up. 
Bold & Noble also take commissions--their web site displays an impressive selection of work made for publication.

Pictured above: My Heart in Raspberry sorbet (also available in Duck egg blue), and Love in Poppy red (also in Candy pink). These prints are priced at £43 + P&P.

Rockett St George


What they sell: Fabulous and funky housewares! Rockett St George sells everything from the big (such as their Skull & Rose Tub Chair £545) to the small (I love the Coloured Cupcake Tea Light Holders, £14.99) to the teeny-tiny (check out their Lace Tape, £6.50). In short, Rockett St George provides everything you might possibly need for your home--and they make it kitschi, original and whimsical. I could easily devote an entire blog post to listing all the things I love on this site! 
Alongside the wallpaper, lighting, curtains, cushions, furniture and countless other knick-knacks, Rockett St George also sells a selection of jewellery, handbags, accessories and stationery--they even have their own Food Hall!
A company that clearly has its finger on the pulse, Rockett St George have put together a section on their web site devoted to Valentines Day, so you don't even have to trawl around for ideas. 

Pictured above: The Kiss Cushion by Naomi Ryder, £55, and the Dynamo Label Printer-inspired Love You Love You Love You Print, £25

Not On The High

What they sell: A better question would be 'what don't they sell'! Browse this site and you'll find a huge choice of housewares, womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, accessories, toys, games, cosmetics and gifts--this is a one-stop online shop that will satisfy all your needs (except for groceries!)
Like Rockett St George, Not On The High has a whole section of Valentine's gifts to help save you time finding the right thing for your special someone. 
The style of their products ranges from vintage to kitsch to modern and arty. Their bath & body products look absolutely divine whilst their brightly coloureed recycled paper heart bunting (£11) provides a greener way of setting some Valentine's atmosphere in even the mundanest of settings. 
Not On The Hight also offer some personalised goods, such as this handpainted love heart (£28)
Rather than being one big online store, everything on the site comes from one of about 1,600 small businesses supported by Not On The High

Pictured above: Heart bowl and nibble dish set, £33 (includes a bowl, 3 dip dishes & spoons plus a tray) and Gingham heart tea cosy, £30 (various colours).

Friday, 28 January 2011


I've had these hearts for ages; my Nanny received them as part of floral displays and gave them to me (along with a black cat, which isn't quite seasonal!) 
They're easily removable from the sticks, and with Valentine's day being in just over two weeks I think it's about time I did something with them! 

These are too cute to shove away into a cupboard--so watch this space to see what I decide to do with them!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Tutorial: Key To Your Heart Necklace

Valentine's Day is only three weeks away, and this cute necklace is perfect for wearing on a date, giving as a gift, or just to get into the Valentines Day spirit!

This short tutorial explains how to make your own Valentine's Day necklace.

Time needed: 15-30 minutes

You'll need:
Silver chain
Jump rings
Necklace clasp
Small heart buckle or similar for centre
Silver key and heart charms (mine came from the card-making section of the 99p store)
Red droplet beads

1. Cut a piece of ribbon slightly larger than the size of your/the recipient's neck. Thread on the heart buckle.

2. Fix some chain onto the back of the buckle (you'll cut it to length in a moment).

3. Thread the greek springs onto the ends of the ribbon and close them. The ribbon I used was rather thin so I pulled it all the way through the springs then knotted the ends for extra security! Attach the necklace clasp to the loop of the springs.

4. Cut the chain to length so that its a little longer than the ribbon (as in the first picture) and attach to the loop part of the greek springs.

5. Fix the charms and beads to the chain, alternating them along the front half of the necklace.

6. Have a happy Valentine's Day!

Also, check out this Rose Caged necklace:

This was made using a Christmas decoration, which I fixed a loop and chain to. I put an artificial rose inside and wrapped smaller, wire-stemmed paper roses (from the haberdashery section) around random bars of the cage.
This necklace is rather large--something for the more flamboyant among us!

Clear Out!

The New Year is a time for fresh starts, clean slates, and new beginnings. It’s also the perfect time for having a clear out--sorting out your belongings, getting rid of what you don’t want and making space for whatever the coming year might bring.

Sorting this way is not only good for making space, but it can also be very therapeutic.

But it can also be difficult--especially if you happen to be a hoarder like me! It’s very easy to get tired, to look at a cupboard of belongings and think, ‘Why bother?’

We may already be more than three weeks into 2011 but it’s not too late!

Here’s some tips I’ve picked up from experience:

1. Make a list of each separate place you want to tidy (e.g. closet, chest of drawers, under-stairs cupboard). It might look long, but if you’re able to cross things off the list more often, it’s easier to feel productive!

2. Work at your own pace: don’t rush yourself to finish a task within a set time, because some things will take longer than others. If you get tired, give yourself a break.

3. Be mercenary. Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of things--old unfinished projects, trinkets from past holidays, and so on. It’s very easy to hold on to things simply because you are used to owning them.

4. Question yourself. This point is related to the previous one, but questioning yourself about belongings helps to separate what you really want/need from everything else. Ask yourself: Why do I have this? Why am I still holding onto this? Do I want this? Do I need this?

5. Organise unwanted things as you sort them (I learned this the hard way!). For example, sort things into boxes for charity/ebay/a garage sale/friends/recycling/rubbish. If you do this as you sort, you won’t need to re-sort it again before getting rid of it!

6. Put on some music to keep your spirits up--tidying and sorting is easier to focus on with a good album on the stereo!

7. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Tutorial: Scout Badge Rosette Brooch

Got some old Scout badges but don't know what to do with them? Why not reuse them by making one of these upcycled brooches? 
This is another tutorial that could potentially cost nothing (which is what it cost me!) particularly if you like to recycle old ribbon and findings.

Time needed: 15-20 minutes

You’ll need:
Scout badge
Broad ribbon (I used about 11" of 1-1.5" ribbon)
Brooch back
Needle & thread
Multipurpose glue
Glue gun (optional)
Beads or similar (optional)

1. Make a couple of stitches in the end of the ribbon at one edge, leaving a couple of inches of thread at the beginning.

2. Stitch along the edge of the ribbon with a running stitch, gathering as you go.

3. At the back of the rosette, tie the ends in a knot with the loose thread you left in step 1.

4. Stitch along the two ends of ribbon (because they are on the back of the rosette, the stitches won’t show). If necessary, catch the outer corners of the ribbon with the last stitches so that they don’t show at the front and cut off any excess ribbon.
At this point, embellish your Scout badge if you are doing so. (I stitched a border of small faux pearls around one but any small and lightweight embellishment should work)

5. Cover the back of your Scout badge with multipurpose glue and stick to the front of the rosette. 

6. Sew or glue (using hot glue) the brooch back to the reverse. 

 A selection of Scout badge brooches + rosette brooches
The top left was embellished with beads; 
the purple brooch used thinner, more tightly-gathered ribbon.

Suggestions for alternatives: use buttons or similar in place of Scout badges; add in ribbon at the back for more of a trophy rosette look; gather together broader or thinner ribbon for a variation of looks, or pin another brooch to the centre of the rosette!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Charity Shops: Hidden Treasures Within!

This is an edited version of 'Charity Shops: Unexpected Treasures Within', originally posted on thefabulouscake@LJ

You may have passed charity shops by without a second glance, believing them to be full of bobbled knitwear and frumpy polyester dresses. You may have stopped for a moment to eye the chipped knick-knacks in distaste before going on your way.
But as you walk on by, you could be leaving behind a hidden treasure.

 Recent charity shop finds

Each and every charity shop is a goldmine in waiting for someone.
From the outside they may well look boring and full of quite rightfully unwanted tat, but once inside you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Coming up after the jump: why charity shops are so great, plus shopping tips.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Crafting on the Cheap

A fabric or craft store may well be a one-stop shop if you have a crafty project in mind, but what with the credit crunch and Christmas, everyone is feeling the pinch.
Sometimes, it’s kinder on the purse strings to seek out cheaper, alternative sources for non-specialist craft items.

This little guide looks at where to buy these cheap craft supplies--and the occasional unique gem!

Charity shops
Good for: buttons, fabric, wool, beads (usually in form of jewellery!), zips (check they work before buying), retro paper patterns, miscellaneous embellishments
Notes: Remember to check out the bedding and curtains for fabrics too. If you’re feeling cheeky, ask in charity shops if they have any broken jewellery you can take off their hands in exchange for a small donation!

Pound shops/discount stores
Good for: card, artificial flowers, sewing kits, ribbon, trims, miscellaneous embellishments, reels of cotton, card-making supplies, beads (sometimes in the form of jewellery), findings boxes.
Notes: The Works has a fantastic selection of ribbon/trim/embellishments for card & jewellery-making at 99p/pack (99p Stores also sell them!) Pale-coloured artificial flowers can be painted another colour with watered-down acrylics.

Jumble sales/car boot sales
Good for: everything--especially buttons and old jewellery you could break up.
Notes: Never be afraid to haggle (but don't be rude--if the seller says no, ask for their best price!)

Good for: almost anything, if you’re lucky!
Notes: Family and friends are handy to ask if you’re looking for something in particular. But remember, they may well require payment! (My nanny is a constant provider of ribbon, broken necklaces, buttons and the occasional zip from her collection. She’s awesome.)

Other suggestions
  • Save excess fabric, trim and ribbon from projects!
  • Ditto card
  • Ribbon from classy boxes of chocolates is also worth keeping.
Extra tips
  • Be aware of normal retail prices--that way you know what you’re saving! (And also if something is overpriced.)
  • Shop around. Some places are cheaper than others. Just because you find something in a pound shop doesn’t mean you won’t find the same thing down the road for 79p!
  • Build up a stash of creative bits and pieces. Then when you find yourself needing something, lo and behold, it’s there!
cheap craft supplies
All the items in the image above have been bought/gained cheaply--
Silver-coloured charms: 99p Store
Glue and plastic box: Poundland
Broken faux-pearl necklaces: Charity shop
Beads: Charity shop/from family member 
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