Objects old, vintage, hand made or upcyled, and old techniques with a modern twist

Archive for September, 2014

Monday Mood Board

Hand knitted socks & gloves

Although we have had some lovely warm and sunny weather here in England over the last few weeks, the evenings are starting to draw in, and the leaves are starting to fall- the arrival of autumn always makes me want to KNIT! The socks and fingerless mittens shown here are those that I made last year (and yes, all the socks and gloves do have matching pairs!): hand-knitted socks and gloves are always far warmer than anything from the shops, particularly if you use a yarn with some alpaca wool (like the fingerless mittens shown here).

 The patterns were all my own, and in fact the fingerless glove pattern came about as a result of being challenged to make something from a single ball of yarn, for a local yarn shop. Being given a craft challenge by someone else is always fun, and single-ball projects are a good way to work through the inevitable odd balls of yarn in the knitting stash!

I am currently trying to decide what my first autumn knitting project will be…

Hand knitted socks

Small Zipped Purse

This is only a small project, but a nice and easy make that can be finished in an evening- I hope you like it!

Small Zip Purse


The finished item measures 5.5 x 3 inches (14 x 8cm), and is the ideal size to use as a purse, as a small pencil-case to keep in your handbag, or as a container to keep jewellery safe and clean when travelling. This is an ideal stash-busting project, as only small amounts of fabric are required- which also means that you could use a piece of vintage fabric, or up-cycle material from a previous incarnation!

Zip purse materials

As you can see from the above picture, the materials needed are:

  • Fabric for the purse outer layer
  • Fabric for the purse lining
  • 1 x zipper
  • Thread
  • Two lengths of fabric piping trim (optional)

The purse can be made in any size, but don’t forget to add a seam allowance. The purse shown here required a 5inch (15cm) long zipper, and I also added a 3inch (8cm) length of piping to each end (which was attached when the seams were being sewn).

zip purse making

The lining and outer were each made from one piece of fabric, with the bottom edge (the side opposite the zipper) being where the fabric was folded in half. Folding a single piece of fabric cuts down on the sewing time an produces a smooth finish, but doesn’t work so well if the pattern on your fabric has a ‘right way up’!

First I sewed together the side seams of the lining fabric; I then did the same with the outer fabric, inserting the flat side of the piping between the two layers of fabric as I sewed. I cut notches along the raw edges to stop fraying (this can be done quickly with pinking shears).

I then turned the outer piece the correct way out, and after ironing the seam allowances back, I inserted the lining into the outer purse layer, with the ‘wrong’ side of one layer lying against the ‘wrong’ side of the other layer.

The final task was to insert the zipper, pin it in position, and then sew it in place- I did this by hand (I actually sewed the whole project by hand, but a sewing machine would make faster work of the side seams) as the purse has quite a small opening.

I have one last thing to do: I want to make a ‘pull’ to attach to the zipper, but haven’t yet decided whether I want to make a red leather one, or attach a large coloured bead. Decisions, decisions…!

Small Zip Purse

Wire Peacock Craft Project

I’ve seen a few amazing large animal sculptures made from willow and/or wire over the last few years, and have admired the skill of the artists. I found that some coiled lengths of copper wire had been bet out of shape in the bottom of a drawer, so decided to do a bit of free-style modelling with it: I had been working on some peacock feather jewellery designs in my sketchbook, hence the choice of this bird.

Wire Peacock

The peacock sculpture is only 4 inches high (so very far from life-sized!), and not as proficient as the animals made by professionals, but it has found a happy home sitting on a shelf in my workshop. The long feet were required to keep it standing upright!

The wire peacock is a relatively quick and easy crafty make, and a great way of up-cycling lengths of wire from other projects. The small blue and green glass seed beads used in the tail were ones I already had, and I used two different thicknesses of wire as that was what I had to hand.  To make this peacock I used:

  • 1mm diameter copper wire
  • 0.8mm diameter copper wire
  • Snipe (pointed) nosed pliers
  • Tin snips to cut the wire (don’t ruin your best scissors cutting wire!)
  • A few glass beads

It would be interesting to try making a small sculpture like this combining two different colours of wire, or using more unusual objects to embellish it.

  Peacock sketchbook page

Peacock scetchbook page 1

Monday Mood Board

Here are a few beautiful pieces of antique and vintage lace: as you can see, one appears to have been a sample piece for a shop, and has a label attached which describes the lace and lists the price- this is the only piece I have ever found with any information attached, which makes it interesting as well as beautiful.

Vintage Lace

Vintage, Upcycled Craft Storage

The start of the new school year at the beginning of September has meant that there has been a lot of lovely new stationery in the shops! There have been some excellent bargains, and having picked up a big set of new marker pens, I wanted to display their lovely colours rather than shut them away in a drawer. I have collected a few antique and vintage silver-plated trophies which I use for a variety of ‘display’ purposes, e.g. to hold small house plants/small handfuls of coloured glass baubles/etc. So, Ah ha! I thought- they could be used as pen pots to decorate my desk!

Trophy Pen and Pencil Pots

I enjoy giving new life to vintage trophies that have ended up at car boot sales etc, and they sometimes have interesting bits of history engraved on them- the large one in the photo (in the centre) was for the winner of the British India Cup race at the Karachi Yacht Club, and I have a smaller cup given to the winner of the inaugural Hong Kong Grand Prix!

Some of my previous posts on craft storage can be seen here, and here.

Monday Mood Board

Sketchbook Page- Rings 2

This is a page from my sketchbook/scrapbook that I have been working on recently with the subject of ‘rings’ (I’m working out designs to use some gemstones that I bought earlier in the year). Although my ideas book sometimes features pictures of work by other artists (in this case jewellers), they are just there to look at trends, and to get a ‘feeling’ for my work- I always want to create something new and unique, not just copy the (often amazing) work of others!

Vintage Sewing Kit

Vintage sewing kit- pink   Vintage sewing kit- pink2

The vintage sewing kit that I put together last month (the post can be seen here) was well received by the friend it was intended for, so I decided to make another. I thought I’d use a different colour scheme for this one, and as you can see, the friend it was made for likes pink!

The box used for this kit is interesting- it was one of two that I bought in a second hand shop. There is a plaque in the lid of each saying that they are made from elm that formed a part of Waterloo Bridge (and was removed from the bridge during restoration work). The plaques make the boxes just a little more interesting, and the smooth, satin finish to the wood means they are lovely to handle.

What unexpected things you can find when shopping for vintage items!


Monday Mood Board

Vintage Embroidered Fabric 1

Today I have been looking through some of my vintage hand embroidered fabrics- they seem to multiply when I’m not looking! It is amazing how much work has gone into some hand embroidered antique and vintage fabrics, and it’s a shame that they get thrown away if they have a rip or stain. I use damaged pieces in new projects, and am able to cut them up guilt free as they were no longer usable in their original form, even if most of the fabric is undamaged.

It is nice to give a new life to something that was made with such care and skill, upcycling something slightly damaged to make it desirable again!

 Vintage Embroidered Fabric 2

Craft Storage Upcycling DIY

      Rainbow Pot 7

I’ve had a vintage plain cream ceramic pot (with matching lid) sitting on my work bench for a few years now. The pot is a useful size, and being square uses space effectively, but I decided that it looks BORING! Having just bought a set of Sharpie marker pens (at a much-reduced price- yay!), I had been doodling on paper to try out all of the different colours, and then decided to expand the doodling experiment to include this pot!

The project is very easy and only requires:

  1. Permanent marker pens (Sharpie or another brand, but they must be PERMANANT to stop some of the design coming off every time you handle the pot!).
  2. A ceramic pot, of whatever size and shape you fancy. A white or cream pot is ideal, as your lovely design will show up clearly.
  3. Some masking tape- or washi tape or cellotape would do, as it is just to provide a guide for the design.
  4. Nail varnish remover and a cotton bud, for tidying up any mistakes with the pen (not that you’ll make any mistakes of course!).

First, clean and dry your pot thoroughly, so that your pen marks will adhere to the container, and the colours won’t be obscured by mixing with dirt. Next, use some masking tape to mark out a guide for your design. I am going to show you the design I made, so the masking tape was used to mark out the rectangle in which I wanted my design to sit.

Rainbow Pot 1           Rainbow Pot 2

At this point you may like to try out your design and colour combinations out on a piece of paper. As my simple design was made up of a series of parallel lines in rainbow order, the first thing I had to do was lay out all of my pens in the order in which I wanted to use them- I know this sounds really simple, but I did find it a massive help when it came to drawing the design on the pot.

Next I worked out which colour was to be used for the central (longest) diagonal line, and which two colours were to be used for the two corners parallel to the centre line. Then I counted through the pens to work out which two colours would mark out the lines between the central line and the corners. You could measure the pot and then measure and mark out in pencil where you want the lines to go, but I drew them free-hand as I wanted a more relaxed look.

Rainbow Pot 3  Rainbow Pot 4

I then filled in the lines between the initially marked ones. The final step with the pens was to colour in the other two corners (in this case the top right, and bottom left corners).

Finally I peeled off the masking tape, and used a cotton bud dipped in nail varnish remover to tidy up the marks where the ends of a couple of the lines had bled under the tape.The steps above were then repeated on the lid of the pot.

Rainbow Pot 5

When using Sharpie markers on ceramics, the piece can then be baked in the oven to make your design even more durable; if doing this then make sure that the container that you are using is oven-proof, and when the heat is turned off leave the piece in the oven to cool down slowly to avoid cracking.

Rainbow Pot 6

This project has brightened up my workbench, and I now have another unique piece of storage for some of my crafty bits and bobs!

Monday Mood Board

Sketchbook Page- Bright Colours

I thought I’d share a page from my sketch/scrapbook with you; as you can see I’ve been enjoying some bright colours lately! The bits of fabric and paper are from a variety of sources, including artist’s business cards, a giraffe postcard from Paperchase (a lovely stationers in the UK), washi tape, pictures from magazines, and a 1970’s fabric remnant.

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