Saturday, 4 February 2012

recent projects

A needle felted fairy-toadstool and a hand sewn bunny made from an old mohair jumper for my daughter's birthday....

A pair of "minions" for a friend's twins....

A needle felted hare made for the sake of it....
(now less ghostly with a brown coat; need to take pics!)

And a baby-sized tutu as a birthday present for a friend's gorgeous one-year old, modelled by my ever so glam son!

I thought I hadn't made much over the past month but it seems I underestimated myself! I'm now itching to play with the Fimo my sister bought me for my birthday but am working long nights for the next couple of days so will be unable to create anything else until Tuesday....

Friday, 3 February 2012

Nutty Rocky Road

There's something ever so moreish about the combination of salty peanut butter and sweet chocolate. This recipe is ridiculously quick and simple to make and satisfies that naughty treat craving for a bit. Why, yes, it IS rather naughty but you won't be making it every day will you... If you have a nut allergy obviously don't use the peanut butter; you can replace it with tahini paste if you are not allergic to sesame seeds, otherwise just add a bit more chocolate and it will be plain old non-nutty Rocky Road!


150g chocolate - approximately half dark half milk
25g butter
Generous heaped tblsp of golden syrup
Generous heaped tblsp of crunchy peanut butter
6 or 7 crushed digestive biscuits
Generous handful of chopped dried fruit
Generous handful of either mini marshmallows or chopped up big ones

Pop the chocolate, butter, syrup and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave on full for 1 minute. Stir. If it isn't fully melted then put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds; this should be enough.

Add the dried fruit, crushed biscuits and the mini marshmalloows to the bowl and mix together thoroughly.

Pour the whole lot into a cake tin and refrigerate until firm.

To remove from the tin; hold it upside down & run warm water over the underside of the cake tin until the Rocky Road will rotate in the tin. Turn it out onto a plate, chop into bits & enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Ultimate Cookie Recipe

I don't think anybody could dislike this cookie recipe; it makes fantastic, coffe-shop-sized cookies that are crisp on the outside yet soft and slightly squidgey on the inside. It was passed to me by a friend who got it from one of her friends and I have made it so often that it is now second nature. Be warned, though, the cookies will magically disappear! It is perfectly acceptable to make the dough as below and freeze half before cooking...

Ingredients (makes 24 great big squidgey cookies.....)

6oz softened butter or margerine
6oz caster sugar
6oz soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
12oz SR flour
a 200g bar of chocolate chopped into chunks. I usually use 250g for luck **

**NB you could replace some of the chocolate with dried fruit, fudge or similar. The fudge will melt & spread but I think we can live with slightly messy looking cookies can't we. You could use chocolate chips but they seem a bit on the small side to me; I like my chocolate chunky! When I'm chopping my chocolate I find it easiest to leave the bar whole, lie it on a chopping board and cut the bar lengthways then widthways like this;

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 *C, grease and line your baking trays

2. Beat butter/ marge & sugar together until creamy;

3. Beat in the egg and vanilla thoroughtly;


4. Sift in flour & fold in until combined;

5. Stir in the chocolate chunks (I used white chocolate & strawberry and milk chocolate this time around!);

6. Bake heaped dessertspoonfuls 6 to a tray for 10-12 minutes (they spread out quite a bit and should be only very slightly golden when they are done. they will sink down & go flat but that's the plan;

7. Leave the cookies to cool a little bit before lifting them onto a cooling rack or they will break apart.

8. Try not to eat them all at once.... OK just ONE more then....

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Super simple tulle bow / flower

I waxed somewhat lyrical about the joys of the tutu in my last post, however tutus really aren't all that tulle has to offer this world of crafting, goodness me no. Along with the project-of-the-37-tutus I also made 37 matching tulle hair accessories....

I've been itching to share these with somebody because they are SO unbelievably simple to make that you could easily do this with children if they are old enough to follow a few instructions... In fact the idea came to me one night as I was dozing and thinking of things I remember making as a little girl and tissue paper flowers - made by folding layers if tissue together before opening them out - emerged from my memory. "what if I made them with tulle" was my immediate thought as I was trying to think of a way to make hair accessories to match the tutus.

Oh I just HAD to try it out as soon as possible but the tulle was safely ensconced under our bed, which needs to be lifted up to access the storage underneath, and my husband was asleep and might be mildly perturbed at bring inverted suddenly in his sleep at 11.30 at night... So I waited not so patiently (and had a good deal of trouble getting to sleep that night too) desperate to try out my idea and show it to the lovely dance instructor who had entrusted me with project tutu. It not only worked but she loved them and they became a part of the whole project and those little 4-6-year-olds looked unbearably adorable in them, which is the way of little girls of course. So here is how to make one yourself ;;

Supplies needed;

  • 4 small rectangles of tulle in contrasting colours cut approximately 14 x 20cm (this is a rough guide - you could use more layers or larger/ smaller rectangles) 
  • Some yarn/ ribbon or similar
  • A hair clip or bobby pin to attach it to


Stack the rectangles of tulle together, alternating the colours (the light is so bad at the moment that the colours look very odd in these pictures so I apologise in advance. The background is bright white paper if you can believe it!!)

Fold the stack about 2cm from the end along the shorter side.

Fold it under 2cm along the same side, then fold it over by 2cm.

 Repeat until you have a little fan of tulle. 

Securely tie the tulle fan directly in the centre using the yarn/ ribbon- you could leave it like this in a neat little bow if you wanted

At this point I like to snip the corners of the stack to make it a bit more fluffy, though this isn't essential.

Lie the bow down and pull the top layer of tulle away from the others on both sides of the bow (these pictures were taken without the corners snipped off but you get the idea!)

Continue with the remaining layers of tulle so none of the layers are lying flat together- it is now more like a flower or Pom Pom and not remotely like a bow

  Attach to your hair clip/ hair band/ hat/ brooch... Whatever you like really! You don't have to use tulle but it holds the pom pom shape better than others; you could perhaps layer the tulle with other fabrics - the possibilities are endless.

Have fun!

Monday, 12 December 2011

How to make a simple knotted tutu

First I should make something clear; I love tutus. There is something so very appealing about their pretty, floaty, colourful nature that makes me adore making them. This made making 37 of them for my darling daughter and her fellow little dancers to wear for their recent dance show a bit more bearable and less of a slog than it might otherwise have been but I must confess to being pleased to get the black & white/ black & orange combo out of the way enabling me to focus on other projects... like more tutus but in different colours!

Seriously though, it's super simple to make a tutu once you know how and I'm going to add my own to the many, many tutorials out there. You don't have to do any sewing at all if you don't want to, it's that easy. Here goes!

What to buy;

First you will need to acquire elastic or ribbon for a waistband and enough tulle in your selected colours. How much tulle you will need depends on the size of the recipient and how fluffy you would like the tutu to be. For a small child you will need approximately 2-3m of tulle, for an adult sized tutu you will need 6-8m of it. Tulle usually comes in 54 inch or 60 inch widths, which is spot on for an adult tutu; for a child's tutu I would cut the tulle so it is half as wide.

I like to use at least two colours. Having a couple of similar coulours and a contrasting one adds nice depth to the tutu


You will need to cut the tulle into 2-3 inch wide strips. the narrower the strips the fluffier the tutu will be but if you cut the strips less than 2 inches wide it won't really make a difference other than being more time consuming.

If you are using elastic as a waistband fasten it in a circle so that it fits snugly around the waist, stretching only very slightly. You can knot it or sew it just make sure it is securely fastened and will not come undone. If you use ribbon as a waistband mark the waist measurement lightly on the ribbon so you know what size you are aiming for (this could be by tying a bit of thread around it in two places) making sure you have a reasonable length on either end for tying the tutu on. tie in a bow just beyond the marks.

I usually find the best place to put the waistband while I am attaching the strips of tulle is on the legs of a chair that is resting upside-down on another chair. A chair back will also do - the waistband needs to be held slightly taut.

Assembling the tutu

Hold one strip of tulle in the middle, with the ends together.
Fold the middle of the tulle over & behind the waistband.
Thread both ends through the loop formed by the middle of the strip.
Pull the ends until the loop is tight around the waistband.
This sounds more complicated than it is - it's really simple - so I've made a couple of (very!) simple diagrams to clarify what I mean - the movement of the middle of the tulle is shown by green & the ends by red.....

& this is the strip pulled tight;
 You can see why I have had to illustrate this; the pictures I took to try to clarify it didn't really help!

Repeat these steps with your different colours (try out different combinations of your colour choices over a smaller area until you are happy with your pattern) until the entire waistband is covered by knots of tulle. Then squash them together and add a few more strips! When it is finished the tutu should look something like this;

If you have used ribbon as a waistband knot the ends of the ribbon around the tulle knots at the very end so that they don't slip off and you are done; easy peasy!

have fun!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Salt dough decorations

Wow it's the 7th of December already! I have been crocheting and felting away in my spare time like a busy little bee and have made Lyra a pretty hat, an e-reader cover for my dad, a couple of felted brooches and more significantly some absolutely stunning salt-dough decorations with my children. It's amazing how something so simple can be so effective and give us all so much pleasure. Though there are countless tutorials out there here's my contribution;


1 cup table salt
2 cups plain flour
1 cup cold water

Preheat the oven to a very low heat; 100-125*C

1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl

2. Add the water gradually, mixing as you go, until the mix forms a soft dough. If its a bit sticky don't panic just add a little more flour until it looks right; a soft, smooth dough that you can knead. I don't usually usa all of the water.

3. Roll out on a floured surface until it is even and about half a centimetre thick and cut into festive shapes. Lay these out on a baking tray

4. Place in the oven and bake for 3 to 3.5 hours until they are dried out. Leave to cool.
5. Decorate in beautiful colours, using ample glitter and sequins. Leave to dry.
6. To make the decorations last longer you can laquer or varnish the decorations. They can keep for years this way if you store them in a dry place.

And here you can see the finished masterpieces my lovely family made;

Monday, 28 November 2011


Well I can barely believe that this month is rapidly approaching its end... & I have barely started the whole business of making things for Christmas presents; my 2-year-old Logan has the Viking helmet & mini Viking from the previous post, I have felted a toadstool brooch for my sister and I have done the complicated bit of a crochet hat for Lyra; my 4-year-old princess. She wants me to make her a Rapunzel tower... How?! It may need to be a birthday present as I still have presents to make for my other sister, her boyfriend and my parents. The Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holidays lists are a wealth of information & ideas for this; I just hope I can get as much made as I would like to. I also have a tutu to make for my best friend and a matching (but different colour!) Viking hat for her little boy who is Logan's friend; the tutu shouldn't take long; I just need to get the tulle & get myself sorted. I wonder if I should be setting myself targets?! OK I'll try to get the tulle ordered tomorrow morning & will aim to finish Lyra's hat tomorrow night... Then I'll aim to get fabric cut out for one of my sewn present (possibly e-reader cover for dad first) by the end of the week so I can sew it together this weekend... Pictures to follow!