Tag Archives: A Beautiful Mess

Make It Yourself

As you may have noticed (or not!) I have had a bit of a rearrange of my categories and menu. I’ve made a new category (and archive page) for posts where you could make the things yourself – like my tutorial for making a tote bag and how to make a running armband: Make It.

I thought I’d write this quick post to let you know all the ones I’ve written before, which are now in the archive. I’ll be checking through them to make sure they all have comprehensive enough instructions for you to follow. Let me know if you spot anything that needs better instructions.

I’m hoping to add new posts of crafty, and thrifty things you can make yourself. I love sharing things I’ve made, but I want to encourage other people to make things too.

You can make food shopping/ planning less painful (well, I find it less painful!) with this meal planner pinboard.


Make your very own Doc Brown costume from Back To The Future – though it might be too late now it’s not 2015 any more 😦

Finished 2

One of my favourite ever makes, A Beautiful Mess’s Felt Allotment, could be made for any kid in your life – and, in fact, I kinda want one myself!


Do you know a kid with a favourite show or book? Why not make them a cushion with the character on, like my Sarah and Duck cushion?


Have you set a New Year’s Resolution to take up jogging (or another kind of exercise)? Make yourself an armband to hold your phone so you can listen to chunes while you work out!


Ah, the tote bag. If you’re living in the England, then what better way to avoid the new plastic bag charge than by making up a bunch of tote bags?


I made these tea cup candles a while ago, and I plan to make more as they’re so cute!

Tea Cup Candle

If you know someone who recently had a baby, but don’t really know what to get them, why not applique some animals or flowers or letters or anything at all on some babygrows? Clothes are always a useful gift and this way they’re a bit more personal!


I made this Polaroid camera case for a friend of mine a while ago, and the principles could be transferred to any camera. Of course, not everyone will probably like an anatomical heart adorning it…….

Polaroid Camera Case

This has to be one of the easiest makes ever – you just need a clock kit from ebay! And a vinyl record, of course.


For one of my many friends who likes BBC’s Sherlock I made this Kindle cover – it’s got silhouettes on one side and the purple shirt of sex and John’s cabled jumper on the other side!

Finished 1

If you don’t fancy making a cushion for a kiddie, you could make a wall hanging instead, like this one of Norman The Slug With A Silly Shell!


My First Scrapbook


Hey you guys, I made a scrapbook! Well, it’s more of a photo album really, but it involved cutting and sticking, so it kinda counts as a scrapbook, right? As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I love A Beautiful Mess (I have their photo book and made their felt allotment). They do quite a bit of scrapbooking/ making photo albums and it inspired me to have a go myself, as a present for my dad who just turned 65. I’m also researching my dad’s family tree, so this gave me a chance to scrapbook some of the things I’ve found out from doing that.

I tried to keep it relatively cheap as I didn’t know if it would really work, so I was prepared to buy a different present if necessary! I went to Paperchase and ogled all of their stationery – is it just me that loves stationery? I feel like if I had unlimited money, my house would be full of lovely stationery that I was always scared to use!

Anyway, back to Paperchase. I bought some coloured paper, this scrapbook, and then I bought some photo paper from Rymans (50 sheets of matt photo paper) and these cute stamps from John Lewis. I already had some coloured pencils and nice pens, which was lucky because I didn’t end up using most of them! I use double sided sticky tape to stick on the paper and photos as it seemed like the most durable and quickest way to stick everything in. I considered glue, but worried the paper would go all wrinkley! (is that a word?!)


My family and my dad’s family doesn’t seem to be one that takes loads of pictures – something I’m trying to remedy, but I still always forget to take many pictures at get-togethers, or even in every day life. Do you find the same?

Because I knew there wouldn’t be loads and loads of photos, I recruited my whole family, and particularly my mum (thanks, mummy!) to send me all the photos they had so that I would have a good spread from my dad’s whole life. It took me a while to format all the pictures to get them to look clear and to fit the most economically on the paper as I didn’t have unlimited paper! I used an ordinary printer, and was pretty pleased with how the pictures turned out. Scrapbook-2

It took a loooooong time to cut them all out! I ended up with more pictures than I thought I would too, so that was a bonus.

Because this was a present for my dad, I don’t think I went as crazy with the designs of each page as I could have – but I’ll definitely experiment more next time (when/if I make another scrapbook/ photo album).

This is the front page – passport photos through the ages! I used the stamps to label things and  like how they look a bit uneven in places, like an old typewriter would. Scrapbook-3

The above small photo on the left, and the below picture of him just out of the bath are the only 2 baby pictures we have of my dad. Which is quite crazy when I compare that to my nephew and niece (who is only a couple of weeks old, awww!) who are already way better documented. I guess that’s just the age we live in – and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be able to document all the little moments and not just the ‘special occasions’ as was probably the case 20, 30, 50 years ago.

I decided to annotate the pages a little, using a red ink pen – you can’t really see it, but below it says ‘bath time’. This page also has a copy of his birth certificate on it. I wish I had included his parents’ marriage certificate too, but I remembered too late! He didn’t know when his parents got married, so it was cool to be able to tell him when I’d ordered a copy of their marriage certificate (did I mention I’m a family history nerd!?). It turns out they got married 2 months before he was born……..Scrapbook-4

When my dad was, i think about 2, he moved to India with his parents as his dad worked for the World Health Organisation, which is pretty cool! He lived there until he was 8 or 10 – he thinks he came back and went again. I need to do some more research about their time in India, but I don’t really know where to start!


I think my favourite photo is the one below of him sitting on the window sill, he just looks so cute and smiley! I decided to cut out an India to make the page look a bit more interesting. Scrapbook-5

My dad also lived in New Zealand for a few years as a teenager – he’s led a pretty cool life, really! Again, I cut out a New Zealand in coloured paper for some interest!

This is his school certificate, which qualified him to go to university at the age of 16, he’s a clever man, my dad. He would have only been able to study agriculture, but still….

I mounted some of the pictures and pages onto coloured paper to make it look a bit less samey – I tried to choose the colour of paper based on what looked nice with a particular photo/ document. Scrapbook-8

This is the only surviving photo of his uni band, Dead Sheep. On the podium thing in the photo is a poster, which I copied bigger. Unfortunately another document I was missing was his degree certificate. Bum. Scrapbook-9

So we skip from university to meeting my mum, when he was about 28/29. Aw, they look so young! But also kind of not young – do you ever think that your parents look older than you do at the same age you are now? Just me? Maybe it’s the clothes?Scrapbook-10

This is a page of wedding pictures – I love the top left one of them gazing lovingly into the distance – lol engagement photos! And the picture at the bottom of my dad with my mum’s dad is lovely. My mum was a couple of weeks off her 21st birthday when they got married, in case you think she looks reeeeeaaaaly young – she was!Scrapbook-11

I made a page for my brother, who was very cute when he was little.Scrapbook-12

And a page for me and my sister – we’re twins and there aren’t tonnes of photos of us, so I thought we could share a page. Check out the names our parents gave us all – each a mouthful in its own way! Scrapbook-13

As I mentioned above, my dad is pretty clever (he has an IQ that would allow him into MENSA!) and he used to be in a quiz team at his work and they won (I’m not sure what league/ competition) every year between 1982 and 1989 except 1985. Not bad!Scrapbook-14


The slightly higher graduation photo is from my mum’s graduation for her OU degree. This was about 5/6 years ago and it was a really moving day to be there. My sister and I had already graduated but there was something about seeing people from all ages and backgrounds who had worked hard for years and years to earn their degrees that seemed more impressive somehow – they hadn’t had the advantage that I had, to study full time and with no responsibilities for other people or having to fully financially support myself. Sorry to be so schmaltzy!  Scrapbook-15

My sister got married in 2011 and that’s probably the last big family gathering we’ve had, so I included some pictures from that. Below are my dad and me giving our speeches – it was pretty cool that as chief (and only) bridesmaid I got to make a speech, and not just the father of the bride and best man. My speech was pretty ace, if I say so myself – the wedding had a tea theme, because who doesn’t like tea (weirdos, that’s who!) so my speech had lots of tea puns in it.

Also, my sister made my dress and hers – I didn’t take any photos of the other wedding pages unfortunately, so I can’t show you the dress, but it was pretty awesome!Scrapbook-16

Because my sister and her husband had some pages, I thought me and The Boyfriend (Ben) should have a page. We had to take this photo specially, because there are basically no photos of the 2 of us, after 3 1/2 years! See what I mean about having to take more photos of the everyday?!Scrapbook-17

One thing my dad is (quite rightly) proud of is being an amazing blood donor – he has given 76 times and has only now stopped for health reasons. I have sort of tried to take over his mantle (though I wish I’d started sooner – but better late than never) and have now donated 4 times, the latest one being this Wednesday (which you’ll know if you follow my instagram). I feared I would faint and it would be really embarrassing, but so far, I’ve been fine! You should try it if you’ve never been! Scrapbook-18

And this is my adorable nephew – I love the top picture! And his name is Teddy, so the bottom picture is very apt! He’s the kid I made the dungarees and Sarah and Duck cushion for. Since making this book, my sister has had her second baby, a girl, so there are some blank pages in the back of the book which I left so I could fill them in with pictures of Alice and any other things that happen – like other engagements/ weddings/ babies.
Scrapbook-19Have you ever give scrapbooking a go? Would you if not? I did enjoy it, but it was a bit more time consuming that I thought it would be, so I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time as you document a month or year in your life. Also, I’d like to have a go with some more jazzy, interesting pages!


Make It: Felt Allotment

OMG you guys, this might be my favourite thing I’ve ever made (how many times have I said this?!)! You know how I like to make presents for kids? Well, for Christmas this year I decided to make my friend’s daughter (who I made Norman and the Travel Match Game for), a fabric allotment, which I saw on A Beautiful Mess. She is now 3 1/2 (and with a brand new, very cute little brother) and this seemed like an age appropriate gift. Also, my friend has been teaching her daughter where food comes from and they’ve grown some things together, so this seemed like a brilliant indoors version of that. Just so you know, this is going to be a really long, picture heavy post! Sorry, not sorry!

Planting-Game-37This is my ‘before’ picture: a cardboard box (from Oxford University Press to be specific), lots of colours of felt (mostly left over from my Sarah and Duck cushion) and some brown jersey.

Planting-Game-1I decided to trim down the box as it seemed a little deep for small arms. My box was 47cm x 34cm x 14cm. A little bit of trial and error – i.e. making one soil ‘sausage’ wrong – told me that the size of my rectangles of jersey had to be 40cm x 42cm. The 40cm was to fill the 34cm width of the book, with some extra length for the seam allowances and the depth needed on the ends. The way I worked out the other measurement was to work out the length divided by 4, as that’s how many soil sausages I was making, (11.75) and make a mark. Then I used my tape measure to make a loop to fill the space up to the mark at 11.75cm, to find out the diameter of the sausage, adding a little more for seam allowance – I hope that makes sense?!

Planting-Game-2I then sewed the 40cm sides together to make a tube and then ran a loose running stitch around both ends, pulling it tight and tying it off. I did have to sew some extra hand stitches in each end to make sure it stayed closed and was tightly sealed, ready for the stuffing. I used a whole bag of stuffing (from John Lewis) on the soil, so beware that unless your box is a lot smaller than mine, you’ll probably need 2 bags of stuffing.

Planting-Game-4It looks like that episode of The Simpsons when Homer eats a really sour sweet!

Planting-Game-3The ABM instructions tell you to paint the box to make it look like soil, but I had loads of jersey left over – I bought a metre and only used a small amount for the soil sausages – so I decided to cover the box with the rest of the jersey as I knew I wouldn’t use it for anything else.

Planting-Game-5I found I didn’t need to stick the jersey down at all as it just stayed on its own in the middle.

And this is what the garden looks like with all the soil in!

Planting-Game-6Out of the veg (and fruit) in the ABM version, I made the beetroot and carrots. You can read on their post how they made them – I basically copied them, but with a couple of things I altered, such as the sizing. I also had a think about other root vegetable and decided to make leeks, radishes, onions and potatoes.


I made the beetroot from 5 1/2″ circles as dictated by the size of felt I had. I drew around a mug I had because it happened to be the right size.


I also couldn’t find any pipe cleaners in any of my local shops, as ABM suggest for stiffening the leaves, so I had the brain wave to buy some bendy hair rollers. It’s fairly easy to slip off the little hats on each end of the roller and slide the wire out. They came in 2 lengths, though I used only the long ones in the beetroots.

Planting-Game-7I copied Katie’s instructions on ABM and stitched the contrast stitching on the leaves and I enclosed the wire in the beetroot coloured felt. I realised my beetroots are a bit rounder than they maybe should be.

HINT: The closer you cut out the triangles into the middle of the circle, the more pointy the shape ends up – if you don’t cut deep enough into the middle, they end up quite round.

Planting-Game-11I made 2 beetroots, again dictated by how much felt I had.


My carrots were 5″ long and 5″ wide at the top of the triangle. I copied ABM for how to make the carrots, so you can have a look there for step-by-step instructions.

Planting-Game-10Planting-Game-9I made 3 carrots in total.


When I made my Sarah and Duck cushion, I ordered a load of felt from ebay, including a pack of lots of different greens as I was planning to put some trees on the cushion (but ran out of time and space!). It was a good job I had so much green, as well as other colours, when it came to making all the veg.

I gathered 3 shades of green which I thought matched a leek – each of the pieces was 5-6cm x 22cm:

Planting-Game-12Then I sewed the 3 pieces together, then cut it all in half to make 2 leeks, so each leek was 11cm wide:

Planting-Game-13I decided to make the leeks looks like actual leeks, with those layers at the top which are kind of loose and peeling off.

I cut some little rectangles (1.5  -2cm x 5cm) and placed them on the top:

Planting-Game-14The I sewed them on, continuing the stitching down to the white layer, to show the lines/ veins on the leek:

Planting-Game-15I then added another layer of rectangles on the top and more stitching.

Planting-Game-16I then sewed the long sides together, right sides together and turned them right side out, to make 2 leek tubes.

Planting-Game-18Once they were sewn into tubes, I could measure the diameter of the circles needed for each end – one green for the top and one white for the bottom. I sewed the green end on, underneath the loose layers at the top, so it was a bit fiddley, then stuffed the leek and sewed on the white end, by hand.

Planting-Game-21I have to say, the leeks are possibly my favourites.


I felt like potatoes were a necessary addition to any allotment.

I made these in a similar way to the beetroots, but with an oval instead of a circle and I used 2 per potato, kind of like a tailor’s ham. I divided the piece of felt I had into 4, making them 10.5cm x 14.7cm, and rounded off the edges.

I then snipped a triangle out of each corner of each oval:

Planting-Game-23I got the feeling that these were not going to look super like potatoes, so I got a potato out of our cupboard and noticed that they have all kinds of marks on them. I got out one of my felt tips and tried my best to make a piece of felt look like a potato……

Planting-Game-24Kind of successful.

I then sewed each of the little triangles, right sides together:

Planting-Game-25Then I put two of these halves together, right sides together and sewed them together all around the edge, leaving a gap to turn it the right side out and stuff it through.

Planting-Game-26They kind of look like potatoes, when finished – enough that the kid knew they were potatoes, anyway!


The onions started life like several of the other veg – as circles, this time 14cm in diameter.

Planting-Game-28I then cut the triangles out in 4 places, cutting quite close to the middle.

Planting-Game-29Like on the leek, I sewed lines of stitching to look like the veins/ lines on onions. I sewed several likes into the centre, on each chunk of felt. This took a while!

Planting-Game-30I then sewed together each triangle, right sides together, and then ran a line of loose running stitches around the top to gather it. I stuffed it, then gathered the stitches, tying it off and sewing a few stitches through the ends to make sure it was really secure. They ended up quite small, but that kind of fits with the relative size of all the vegetables.


The radishes are pretty much the same as the beetroots, but a little smaller. The circles I cut were 10cm in diameter, with the triangles cut out and then sewn together.

Planting-Game-32The leaves on a radish look a bit different from the beetroots and are a different shade of green. The stalks also don’t have the coloured part on, so I cut extra strips of green to cover the wire I threaded in to make the stalks stand up.

Planting-Game-33I slotted 2 stalks into each radish and then sewed the top shut, sewing through the stalks to secure them in place. I made 2 radishes in total.


I had plans to make some parsnips and maybe some other root vegetables, but ran out of time and also, you know, forgot.

But the number of things I made was perfect to fill the box.


I made this over about 3 weekends, working on one vegetable at a time. It was quite nice to work on small things that don’t have zips or buttonholes! Also, this was pretty thrifty as I had the felt already and got a box free from my old work, and only had to buy the jersey and the stuffing.

This is probably the present I’ve been most excited to give away! My friends and I always get together in January to have a second Christmas, and this year we all flew to Aberdeen, where my friend with the daughter now lives. I decided to courier the box up as I wouldn’t have been able to take it on the plane and it took more days to arrive than I feared – I thought at one point it had gotten lost. But then it did arrive and I almost opened it myself I was so excited! I definitely like making and giving presents to small people! Do you like making presents for kids? Or for other people?

Book: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book

If you haven’t already discovered the blog A Beautiful Mess, you should check it out now. It’s written by 2 sisters and has posts on crafts, fashion, interior design and recipes. And it looks great – it’s part of the reason I’ve been trying to improve the look of my blog, all-be-it very slowly!

The other thing about A Beautiful Mess, is they love photography and have written a book of tips for taking good photographs: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book. It’s already out in American but doesn’t come out until November in the UK, so I ordered a copy of it from American because I didn’t want to wait!


As you could hopefully tell from the photos in my previous post, on my first Grainline Studio Scout Tee, I’ve been trying out some of their tips. Some of them are so simple, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of them before! I’ve been trying to find good places to take the photos of the clothes I make, and I had never thought of sticking some fabric to the wall to make the backdrop more interesting! I’m still going to try to hunt around my neighbourhood for good walls/ fences/ doors but for now, and while it’s too cold to go outside anyway, I can take pictures indoors that don’t all have to have a boring white wall behind them!


I also think I’ll give the paper backdrop a try when photographing food.


I really like this blackboard paint backdrop idea, it looks really good – especially with these particular cakes!


I also tried some of their tips on photographing a collection. I spent ages trying to take a good picture of some of my wool, but I think it’s quite difficult to photograph wool! Maybe I need more practice….


There are loads more technical tips (like focusing on something unexpected or how to use filters and lighting) and artistic tips (like how to style people and use colours) and a section in the back about what to use your printed photos for. I’m going to carry on practicing and hopefully my pictures will improve! You can check out the blog for loads more photography tips too.