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

Archive for October, 2014

Hand Knitted Socks

I have started knitting this season’s first pair of socks! I have got to the foot section of the first one, so it shouldn’t be too long before I have a pair fit to be worn!

Hand Knitted Socks (2)

I really love the super-cheerful colours in this yarn, they will be very happy socks! being someone who spends a lot of time outdoors I searched for years to find a decent pair of warm socks. Even buying so called ‘thermal’ socks I would still have frozen toes in the cold weather.

About ten years ago taught myself to knit ‘in the round’, and made my first pair of hand knitted socks- I finally had a warm pair of socks! Alpaca yarn seems to be the softest and warmest choice for socks (apparently the hair fibres are hollow, thus trapping air, resulting in a very effective form of insulation), but for slightly more hard wearing socks (that are still very cosy in the cold) sheep’s wool with a very small amount of polyester in the yarn does the job.

Hand Knitted Socks (1)

I enjoy knitting all sorts of things, but I think that the socks, gloves and hats that I have knitted over the past few have been the most rewarding projects, even though they only see the light of day during the coldest part of the year. Fingerless gloves or mittens are also great stash busting projects, ideal for using up any left over sock yarn!

Monday Mood Board

Lately I have been making sure that I take notice of the lovely flowers that are still left in the garden (despite it being late October!). After a spell of late summer weather, the days are just starting to feel autumnal here in Devon, but many of the garden flowers are still blooming, and the trees still have a fair covering of leaves. The rose bushes and fuschias in particular are still covered in flowers, and it feels like such a treat to still have so much colour in the garden at this time of year.

Mood Board (Flowers)

The collection of floral-styled objects in the picture above include vintage brooches and buttons, some silk flowers, a bunch of small paper roses, a turquoise and carnelian bracelet, and a small picture that I painted a few years ago (although I’ve never been sure that the colours of the vintage frame go with the black background that I used in the painting…?!).

A bit of Embroidered Upcycling

I love the old pieces of vintage and antique hand embroidered linen that I have come across (…yes, some of them have ended up in my stash..!), and it is amazing to think about the huge amount of time some of the larger and more intricate items must have taken to make. I enjoy doing some embroidery myself, but generally don’t want to commit to a mammoth project: I also like using embroidery in less traditional projects.

I have a some lovely vintage rosettes that I have used in a few projects, and they seem a nice way to display a small piece of embroidery. Combining that with a friend who likes cocker spaniels, and voila, an idea for a handmade present!

Spaniel Embroidered Rosette

The upcycled rosette was a quick and easy project: once the embroidery was finished, I removed the cardboard centre from the rosette, and cut a new one of the same size. I then wrapped the embroidery around the new cardboard centre, and glued the edges of the fabric to the back. Next I glued the embroidery-covered cardboard centre on to the front of the rosette. The final task was to attach a circle of decorative paper to the back of the rosette, and write on a message to the recipient.

P.S. I’m not spoiling any surprises by posting this project, as the friend has already received the gift!

Monday Mood Board

It is easy to stop looking closely at the things that you see everyday, and living near the sea I know that I sometimes take it for granted. Lately though the sea- and particularly its colours and wide horizons- have been providing me with some inspiration. The beaches and the sea are constantly changing, in different lights and with every tide, so there is always something new to look at.

 Flowers by the Sea

Spaniel on Beach

Starfish Scetch

Estuary 2014


Unusual Upcycled Craft Storage

I came across a small box of unused glass test tubes at a car boot fair (I’m starting to think that there can’t be many things that you couldn’t find at a car boot sale…!), and have been thinking of ways to upcycle them into a form of craft storage.

Test Tube Pencil Pots

The tubes are very light weight, so as long as they aren’t filled with anything too heavy then Washi tape seems to be an effective way of attaching them to the wall.

As with the vintage silver trophies that I use to store pens and pencils (see this post), the shape does limit their uses, but they make an eye-catching display when filled with something colourful!

 Dice in Test Tubes

For some more of my posts on DIY craft storage see here, here and here.


Since posting the Apple Pincushion Paperweight DIY on Sunday, I have been admiring the wide range of pincushion designs out there on the web. Here are a few of my favourites…

I spotted the stylish picture frame pincushions below on the Craftaholics Anonymous website. It’s a simple idea but an attractive, fresh take on the good old pincushion.

how to make pin cushion

The sweet mouse below is featured as a free sewing pattern on the All About You website.

Mouse pin cushion free sewing pattern for a pincushion quick craft ideas allaboutyou.com

The super-cute crocheted cactus below is from PipAraPip, which includes a tutorial.

Crochet cactus pattern

I love the owl pincushions below (from Quilt Magazine), it is such a simple but effective design.

The fluffy hedgehog below is from maker*land, where there is a full tutorial so you can make one of your very own!

How cute is this Hello Kitty pincushion from the Sew 4 Home website (shown below)?! I particularly like pincushions where the pins become part of the overall design (e.g. the whiskers on Kitty, and the pins are also integral to the cactus and hedgehog pincushion designs above).


Monday Mood Board

Singer 4

Today I am feeling inspired by my vintage (almost antique) manual Singer Sewing Machine. I haven’t used it for a little while, but I have a few projects planed that it will be perfect for!

Singer 2    Singer 3

I also have a modern electric John Lewis sewing machine, which I love, but nothing beats the sound and feel of the old Singer… The Singer is also a thing of beauty which looks  good as well as being useful, something the modern sewing machines don’t quite match up to (the beauty bit that is; electric machines are obviously extremely useful, and a lot faster than the old manual and treddle machines!).


I have collected a fairly extensive range of original Singer Sewing Machine feet and attachments (the old, ‘Simanco’ labelled ones): I think they invented an attachment to do almost anything apart from bake a cake! I have big, complicated feet for anything from producing ruffles, pin tucks or pleats (yes, those are recognised as three separate functions!) to darning, sewing buttonholes and attaching lace. The largest and most technical-looking foot is the one for producing a zigzag stitch- it seems amazing now, but the early machines couldn’t move the position of the needle to sew the common zigzag stitch, so a foot was invented that moved the fabric from side to side instead!

I have spent many hours trying to work out what various Singer Sewing Machine feet and attachments are, and how they work!

Apple Pincushion Paperweight DIY

Apple Pincushion or paperwight (a)

This week I needed to make a present for a friend who is relatively new to sewing, but very enthusiastic (yay, another convert!). I decided on a pincushion, and after spending time digging out all of my scraps of green coloured fabrics and trying to choose two, I thought red would look better. The leaves and stalk are made from felt.

Although the apple looks a little fiddly, it is actually quite a simple project, and a great one for upcycling small pieces of vintage fabric (I can’t be the only one with miscellaneous small pieces of treasured fabrics saved… at least, I hope it’s not just me!).


  • Two different patterned cotton fabrics
  • Green and brown felt
  • Sewing thread- I used white for sewing together the apple, and brown for the stalk.
  • Contrasting embroidery thread for the veins on the leaf- I used an old gold/ochre colour.
  • Paper pattern pieces: a rectangle for the stalk, a leaf shape, and an ellipse for the apple (this piece is shown in the picture above).
  • Toy stuffing and dry, uncooked rice.

Because the apple is relatively small, I used rice to give it weight, so that the finished pincushion would stay put when being used, and so that it can also be used as a paperweight (always useful when pattern cutting!).

Apple pincushion materials

First cut out all of the pieces: one brown felt rectangle for the stalk, two green felt leaves (I used two different shades of felt), and six apple pieces (three in each of the two different fabrics). The template for the six apple pieces was calculated by deciding the finished height of the apple, and the finished circumference/girth of the apple : each piece is then the total finished height x one sixth of the total finished circumference/girth.

First I sewed together all of the apple pieces, leaving a gap for stuffing. I stuffed the apple with rice, putting a little toy stuffing at the top and bottom to soften the shape.

After stuffing I sewed the gap closed, and sewed a thread through the ‘core’ from the top of the apple to the bottom, to give it a more apple-like shape.

The stem was formed by rolling up a rectangle of brown felt, and then winding brown thread around it in a spiral to maintain the shape. The thread was then sewn through the bottom of the stalk, and was used to attach the stalk to the apple.

The leaf was formed by joining two leaf-shaped pieces of felt together using a small amount of glue (this keeps both pieces neatly in place for the next step), and then using a contrasting thread to embroider veins on the leaf. The final step was to sew the leaf to the apple.

Ta Da… one Apple Pincushion Paperweight!

Apple Pincushion or paperwight (b)

Monday Mood Board

I have been doing some experimenting with embroidery on paper, and have enjoyed mixing the two mediums of paper and textiles. Here are some of the experiments in my sketchbook, as you can see they aren’t all finished yet!

Bird Embroidery on Paper (a)

Bird Embroidery on Paper (b)

Bamboo Plant Embroidery on Paper.

The Seaside

Budleigh Sept 14(1)

Over the last few weeks here in Devon often the days have started off quite misty, and then become sunny as the haze lifts (being on the coast we get a lot of mist!). These photographs were taken at Budleigh Salterton last week, when Mum and I decided to head up the coast to go for a walk there. The beach can feel really wild and exposed when the winter weather sets in, but as you can see here it was looking very inviting in the hazy sunshine!

Budleigh Sept 14(b)

Budleigh Sept 14(c)

Budleigh Sept 14(d)

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