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Grow, forage, cook: a Christmas hamper

19 Nov

If there’s a better present in the world than a hamper at Christmas, I’ve yet to come across it.

Oh, wait, I do know of a better one: a homemade hamper, stuffed to bursting with delicious goodies made over the previous 12 months. (Note to readers: please do feel free to read this as a hint, if you’ve been umming and ahhing about what to get me for Christmas, ha ha…)

This year, as you may have seen, I’ve been busy with a new series, Grow, forage, cook, with my lovely friend Laura (of Circle of Pine Trees). We’ve been sharing recipes, ideas and inspiration for homegrown, foraged and seasonal food.

So, for the middle of November, it seemed like a pretty good idea to put together a Christmas hamper using some of our favourite makes.

Homemade Christmas hamper from Wolves in London

The perfect Christmas present? A homemade hamper, stuffed with homegrown goodness…

Come, take a look and see what’s inside…

Well, marmalade is a staple for any hamper, in my opinion. Laura and I, both being bloggers, are naturally Seville Orange marmalade makers (yes, they actually make you sign a contract when you get a blog: you have to promise to make some marmalade and some elderflower cordial before you’re allowed to publish your first post…)

I usually follow a recipe in my ancient Good Housekeeping cookbook. Laura goes by the Riverford recipe to make her equally delicious looking batches.

Homemade jams in a Christmas hamper | Wolves in London

I only have small jars of marmalade to give away, because I’ve already scoffed the rest…

But preserving doesn’t stop there in a hamper, for me. Oh no! I think I am possibly a little addicted to making jams and chutneys, so I’ll be putting in a jar of each of the following:

Spicy plum chutney

Apple and sage jelly (this is my favourite, favourite ever preserve…)

Pumpkin chutney

Blackberry and apple jam

Homemade apple and sage jelly in a Christmas hamper | Wolves in London

Apple and sage jelly: the king of all preserves.

Then you’ll need something to eat with all those chutneys and jams. A few homemade biscuits is a good start. I’ve included some absolutely amazing ginger biscuits, following Laura’s recipe for ginger snaps.

These were unbelievably tasty, and I had a hard time keeping these six biscuits out of ravening maws for long enough to photograph them…

Homemade ginger biscuits in a Christmas hamper | Wolves in London

A little parcel of delicious biccies

Homemade ginger biscuits

A few seconds later, there was just a little pile of crumbs…

If ginger’s not your thing, you could also try the even more festive white chocolate and cranberry cookies.

And then on to the cabbage:

Pickled red cabbage

Cabbage haters, look away now

Now, I know what you’re going to say about my inclusion of pickled cabbage. Cabbage? For a present? For Christmas? My sole rejoinder: if you’re friends with someone who wouldn’t, secretly, love to consume a jar of pickled red cabbage on a winter’s evening, then you should probably stop being friends with them.

I haven’t actually posted a recipe for this on the blog (yet!) but I shall get on the case forthwith. ‘Til then, you can find plenty of different versions with a quick Google.

Homemade cherry vodka in a Christmas hamper

I never get over how much I love the colour of this stuff

Then for the booze. I’ve made some morello cherry vodka, this year, which will certainly be going in, along with some of last year’s blackberry and apple vodka.

Sadly, my haul of damsons from my Dad’s garden was left in the footwell of a hot car, but had they survived I would definitely be adding a bottle of Laura’s amazing damson gin.

Food and drink complete, a few little festive touches to adorn the hamper. I’ve followed Laura’s tutorials for some pinecone firelighters and this lovely orange peel garland to adorn the wicker basket.

Pine cone firelighters in a Christmas hamper

I dried these out in the oven and they smelt amazing…

Homemade orange peel star garland in a Christmas hamper

String this across the lid, or just along the front of the hamper for a suitably festive added extra…

Oh; a word on presentation. It is absolutely key in my opinion when giving homemade presents.

I spent a ridiculously long time once making some chocolate truffles, only to give them away in a Tupperware box. In fact, an old Indian takeaway box at that. I don’t think the recipient can have had any idea that I had lovingly concocted them over the course of a few days.

Homemade looks caring and loving if it’s dressed up prettily. Otherwise, it can just look a bit slapdash and unthinking. (“Oh, shucks, I forgot I was seeing so-and-so today and I haven’t got them a present. Let’s just bung them a jar of this year’s marmalade from the larder, still sticky on the sides and with a scrawl of identification on a peeling old label…”)

The labels I’ve used here are downloaded from the World Label website (free, fillable templates designed by Cathe Holden are available here: Apothecary labels). For the text, I’ve used a free font called Jane Austen. (Available from Da Font here: Jane Austen font.) And I’ve got to say, I’m pretty happy with the way it all looks!

Actually, I should have really covered all those mismatched lids with a nice circle of pretty fabric but, hey, hindsight is a wonderful thing…

So there you have it! A very first Grow, forage, cook Christmas hamper, full of delectable treats (in my humble opinion).

Will you be making any foodie presents this year? Is there anything I’ve missed out that really deserves a place in its wicker belly? Do leave me a comment and let me know: I’m always on the hunt for lovely new recipes and lovely new ideas!

And, finally, don’t forget to keep tagging your makes with #growforagecook on instagram and twitter. This month will be the last round-up we’re sharing until the Spring time, as Grow, forage, cook goes into hibernation for the winter months, so please do share anything before then! We’ve loved the little glimpse we’ve had so far into your winter / Christmas preparations…

Make your own Christmas

8 Nov

So Halloween has been and gone, bonfire night is over, hmmm, I have a feeling something else is coming up? But just what is it? *Scratches head*

Ha ha, just kidding, of course. Christmas looms large on the horizon from about September, usually with the result that I feel super-Christmassy in November and completely over it by the middle of December. And yes, so it is once again, I am feeling all merry and bright right now.

So apologies to those who want to hold onto the festive cheer til December, but I thought I might just do a little round up for the more organised people who’d like to get started making Christmas bits and bobs in good time. (I am not a very organised person and therefore have a tendency to post things like advent calendar DIYs on December 3rd, so forgive me for the repetition but corralling a few past posts together in reasonable time this year seemed wise.)

If you missed them the first time around, here are a few of my past Christmas makes that you might like to try out…

Vintage pictures advent calendar

DIY advent calendar tutorial from Wolves in London

I think this is my very favourite Christmas thing I’ve ever made. Of course I do! It combines vintage images, iron on fabric transfer paper and chocolate. What, my friends, is not to love?!

Full tutorial with free printables here: Wolves in London advent calendar

Air dry clay Christmas tree ornaments

Homemade Christmas decorationsIf your Christmas tree is lacking in polar bears, squirrels and moose (meece?) this is the place to visit. Unbelievably easy to make and you can use any biscuit cutters you have to make whatever shapes your heart (or tree) desires.

Full tutorial here: Christmas tree ornaments

Liberty fabric baubles

Fabric baubles DIY

Liberty fabric looks nice on just about everything. Christmas tree baubles are no exception. No need to say more.

More info here: fabric baubles

Carrot and rhubarb jam

carrot rhubarb jamA jam that tastes like Christmas! I’m not sure if I have ever succeeded in converting anyone to this idea ever, but I shall keep on singing the praises of a sweet carrot jam full of Christmassy spices. One day in the future someone might actually give this recipe a go and find that it’s really pretty good. If you do, please let me know!

Recipe here: carrot and rhubarb jam

Homemade presents

And if it’s inspiration for homemade Christmas presents you’re after, I’ve got a couple of posts that might help there too.

Top 20 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents

Firstly, ever popular on Pinterest despite the really clunky photo that I used when I’d first started this blog and didn’t know much about photography or design, my Top 20 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents.

Okay, the photo is ugly and the actual post is seriously long, but I did go ahead and make most of these presents and I can recommend all of the tutorials wholeheartedly.

17 tutorials for homemade Christmas presentsSecondly, and not at all popular on Pinterest, despite my attempt to make a nice Pinnable image for it, 17 more tutorials for presents. The difference? These are all from my own makes. The lobster necklace is my favourite. I still love that.

And I’d love you even more if you go and pin that image for me, ha ha.

So, there you have it. If you’re feeling festive too and starting to get ready, I hope there is some inspiration here.

And what else are you thinking of making this year? Drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear all your plans…

Woodland Christmas ornaments

23 Dec

Struck down for the past few days with a horrible pre-Christmas lurgy, I’m just popping in to share some photos I finally got round to taking of my air dry clay Christmas tree decorations…

Homemade Christmas decorations

Hoot’s man there’s a moose, loose, about this hoose…

Now, unless mine is the only blog you read, I’m sure you will have seen variations of these at a number of different places. From bloggers who actually give you some inspiration / advice / tutorials at a relevant time so you can still go to the shops, buy the equipment, come home and make the thing before it’s far too late. Ah, not me! Even if you, too, are a late Christmas tree putter-upper, there’s still probably not enough time to start making your own ornaments now.

(And if mine is the only blog you read, thanks so much! You’re my new bestie…)

But still, I was pretty pleased with these, so I thought I’d give you a little view of my new woodland friends anyway.

Homemade Christmas ornaments

Even though he’s just in silhouette, this little squirrel looks quite cheeky, I think…

Homemade Christmas decorations

A Christmas snail.

I used cookie cutters bought from Ikea and just rolled out my clay (purchased from Hobbycraft a few weeks back) and then stamped them in, making a little hole at the top for the red wool.

I’m not entirely sure how sturdy these are, in all honesty. One of the moose (meece?) lost a leg and his nose on his way to be photographed. Poor guy, that’s worse than a bad hair day… So I don’t know if they’re likely to survive til next year. But, unlike the beautiful Habitat glass baubles which have not been taken out of their box this year, I won’t mind in the slightest if the sproglet tears them from the tree and dashes them to the ground…

Homemade Christmas ornaments

The one surviving moose that’s not legless

Incidentally, I did try and take some photos for you of these in situ, dangling cheerily from the tree itself, but the light was all wrong, or the baubles started moving when I wanted to photograph them and, in my under-the-weather state, I got fed up pretty quickly.

And on that cheery note, a Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you’re all happy and healthy and full of seasonal cheer. I’ll be checking out now until the new year, so have wonderful Christmases one and all and a fabulous New Year’s Eve. May the start of 2014 be excellent for each and every one of you…

Sabrina xxx

Christmas crafting

17 Dec

After my frazzled, manic late-night making sessions of last December, I decided not to go for any homemade Christmas presents this year. A rather sensible decision, for me, what with temporarily living at my Mum’s, not having access to any of my supplies or, frankly, much time or energy spare at the moment…

christmas craft supplies

Craft supplies, just waiting to be turned into something wondrous…

Everyone in my family is a bit skint this year, so we all set ourselves a £15 budget per person. All well and good, I thought to myself.

But then, when I started out looking for presents, I discovered (somewhat to my horror) you can’t actually buy that much for £15. One of my sisters requested a bobble hat. I looked in various shops and, nope, I just can’t find a bobble hat for less than £15. So, hey, I might as well knit her one. It seems crazy not to.

I bought my nephew a lovely little £15 polar bear jumper from John Lewis. It’s super cute, but, hmmm, it’s a little bit boring to just give a jumper to a four-month-old, isn’t it? I’ll just whip up a couple of very small little extras to go with it.

And then there’s the tree. Non-breakable decorations are needed this year. I definitely want to make some more fabric baubles for my own tree, as well as a couple of other super simple, super quick things I’ve spotted around the place.

And then stockings. I simply must make a couple of nice things for the stockings – it is, after all, the first Christmas that the sproglet will really remember…

So, somehow, with a week to go til Christmas I’ve got a rather large list of things I want to get made and an ever-growing pile of supplies. It’s just, erm, when do I have any time to make them? Wish me luck!

Related articles:

Liberty fabric baubles

12 Dec

I know, I know, I had you at “Liberty fabric baubles,” didn’t I? There’s not much need to write anything more…

Fabric baubles DIY

A plate of Christmas loveliness

I made up these little beauties a few weeks ago for my sister-in-law who was running a craft stall at a charity fair at the weekend. I’m not sure that nine little baubles will have made much of a dent in terms of making-an-entire-stall’s-worth-of-items-to-sell but, hey, hopefully they filled a small space somewhere.

DIY fabric baubles

The one in the middle is my favourite

I followed a tutorial in the Guardian by Hannah of the wonderful blog Seeds and Stitches, which I first Pinned two Christmases ago and have been meaning to make ever since.

It’s a great, simple, messy, very pleasurable project. The only extra tip I would add is that you need far, far more fabric than you expect, so cut out loads of tiny squares first and then sit down for the glueing part. I seemed to spend most of the evening going to wash the glue off my hands when I discovered I’d run out of fabric mid-bauble for the hundredth time.

I also didn’t worry about hanging them up to dry, just put them on a sheet of greaseproof paper and turned them over at sporadic intervals, which worked fine.

DIY fabric baubles

Oh, laziness, this one wouldn’t stand up on his own to be photographed and instead of searching for some blue tack, I just grabbed a roll of sellotape that was closer to hand… Don’t worry, I haven’t accidentally glued it onto the bottom

DIY fabric baubles

The blue bauble, though, can stand up all on its own

Most of the fabric I’ve used is Liberty scraps, with the exception of the blue and white stripes, which were cut from my old primary school shirt. I felt quite nostalgic sticking it all together…

This weekend, I’m planning on making some more to adorn our very own Christmas tree. I’ve stuck the fabric to some cheap supermarket-bought plastic baubles, so the very best thing about them is that they’re sproglet-proof. Even if he managed to shatter them somehow, any sharp pieces would stay inside all the fabric, which is just the sort of Christmas ornament I need on my tree this year.

DIY fabric baubles

One last lingering look at the lovely baubles…

Related articles:

  • Planning to make more than ornaments? Check out my top 17 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents
  • If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recognise some of the fabric from the original projects. The pink and blue geometric patterns were turned into these egg cosies; the red floral pattern was leftovers from my teapot cosy; and most of the rest is from the (still unfinished) quilt

17 homemade Christmas presents

9 Dec

This time last year, I put together a round up of my top 20 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents that I’d found elsewhere on the web, for the delectation of my lovely readers reader. (Ha! That is actually almost true. I had only been writing the blog for a few weeks and I was so excited that 20 whole people read that post in the first few days!)

This year though, oh frabjous day, I thought I’d put together a round up of some homemade presents from my very own blog posts, sharing some of my favourite presents that I’ve made over the past 12 months.

17 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents

Not all of these are my own tutorials, but all link to a tutorial for you to follow, so I hope there is some inspiration here for anyone planning on making some presents in this fine month of December. So, without further ado, here are my top 17 homemade Christmas presents…

For vintage lovers

A huge fan of a vintage or retro image myself, I’ve made a fair few things using some (copyright-free) vintage pics over the past year. These are the ones I’ve been most pleased with

1. Lobster necklace

Shrink plastic lobster necklace

Who wouldn’t want a pink vintage lobster strung around their neck?

This was my first experiment with shrink plastic and, I’ve got to say, I was pretty chuffed with the results. He’s rather spectacular, isn’t he? I also made some rather lovely shrink plastic teapots, which would work brilliantly as tags for presents…

Check out the full tutorial here: shrink plastic lobster necklace

2. Home-printed bookplates

Print your own bookplates

Looking at this photo, I’m reminded that I want to make some more of these for myself…

This was a gift from Christmas last year and one I was really delighted with. It takes no time at all to print out all the bookplates, but I think the (slightly time-consuming) additions of the little envelopes really added to the cute factor.

Read more: print your own bookplates

3. Homemade paperweights

Make your own paperweights

This is a little asparagus beetle caterpillar, ready for his transformation

A slightly cheat “do it yourself” because really all you do is buy a kit and add your own images. I’ve made these with the bugs, above, and also with a whole bunch of other vintage images…

Read more: check out my tutorial or have a look at some other suggestions for pictures that work well

Stocking fillers

All of these are pretty quick to make and small enough to fit into a stocking. Ideal for the homemade touch if you don’t have time to go the full hog on bigger presents…

4. Moustache mugs

DIY moustache mugs

What a fine selection of facial hair

Okay, okay, the moustache thing is a bit overdone by now, but these mugs are still pretty amusing to me. (It’s like she’s got a big moustache when she drinks tea, ha ha ha...)

Of course, you could also use the same method to create any artistic mug you fancy, or let your children have a go with some different coloured pens to make an artwork for Granny.

Read more: moustache mugs

5. Soap

Homemade soap

Lavender soap, complete with actual lavender

Of all the presents I’ve ever given people, my homemade soaps have got the best feedback (and requests for replacements when they’ve run out…) Using a melt and pour soap base, these are straightforward to make, but still give you that pleasing mad scientist feeling as you stir them all together.

Read more: homemade soaps

6. Business card holders

Homemade business card holder

I like the octopus one best

For the loveable executive in your life… …what better than some homemade business card holders?! I’ve got to admit, since I made myself one it has seen very, very little action — but then I really must start carrying my business cards around and handing them out a little bit more. Again, this is a quick project, perfect for when you’re half paying attention to something on TV.

Read more: business card holders

7. Plastic bag stuffer

Plastic bag holder

The world’s sexiest present

If you thought the business card holders were a prosaic present, let me introduce you to the plastic bag stuffer! Sexy? No. Romantic? No. Thoughtful? Erm, perhaps. Useful? Very!

The thing is, buying something like this in the shops costs a ridiculous amount of money and it’s really, really easy to make with some beautiful fabric. But, I reckon, don’t give this to someone unless you know they have a plastic bag mountain hidden in a drawer or cupboard. This is the sort of  present that could see you on the receiving end of a pair of socks the following year if given to the wrong recipient.

Read more: plastic bag stuffer

8. Felt food

Felt fried breakfast

Anyone for bacon?

Erm, what can I say about this? It’s a fairly weird present, I know, perhaps better suited to children with a toy kitchen, but this felt breakfast really pleases me. Those little yellow yolks on the eggs, the curly bacon, the bright red tomato. Visually, it’s rather glorious.

Read more: felt fry up

9. Egg cosies

Egg cosy tutorial

Yum, yum, eggs you can actually eat

Infinitely more practical than a felt breakfast, these egg cosies can keep your actual eggs warm and toasty on a winter morning. Also good for getting the most out of scraps of beautiful fabric…

Read more: egg cosies

If you’ve got a bit more time…

Ideally, if you were making these presents, you would have started a while ago. But, hey, I’m only posting this today so you couldn’t have known… If you’ve a fair of time before the big day, these would make lovely presents though.

10. Hot water bottle cover

Knitted hot water bottle cover

Just add a ribbon round the neck for some extra flair

This might take you a couple of evenings to knit, but it’s a really nice pattern and very simple to follow. I was delighted with the way it looked at the end and (as is the way with every present I make for someone else that I really like) have been meaning to make a version for myself ever since. It never happens, of course, because there is always another present to make for someone else first…

Read more: knitted hot water bottle cover

11. Apple and blackberry vodka

Blackberry vodka

Oh this is a sight for sore eyes!

Not that this takes a long time to make, but it takes a long time to get really tasty. If you knew a patient person (it’s not me) you could make up a bottle of this now and tell them not to drink it for a year. Otherwise, make up some bottles now, and save until next Christmas for giving out…

Read more: apple and blackberry vodka

12. Dog draught excluder

Dog draught excluder

Woof woof

I was umming and ahhing about including this, since I don’t have a (non-photocopied) version of this pattern to point you towards. But, this dog draught excluder is so amazing that I couldn’t resist including it. If you’re good at sewing, you could probably take one look at it and figure out how to make it. It’s just two main pieces for the body, plus a garter at the top of the head (and the ears, of course)…

Head over to the main post for more pictures: dog draught excluder

For babies

There’s something almost irresistible about making presents for babies. From their cute little tiny person clothes to lovely snuggly soft blankets for keeping them toastie and warm, there’s an almost infinite option of things to make you super broody while you whip them up.

Of all the presents I’ve made this past year, the large majority have been for little people. These are my faves:

13. Knitted blanket

Shale baby blanket

Looks so complicated, knits up really easily…

I knitted this for the sproglet while I was pregnant, working my way through a few rows every evening. It’s called the shale baby blanket and is one of the few patterns I’ve ever paid for. Worth every penny though, because it’s utterly gorgeous. The finished result looks really complicated, but it’s actually only four rows to remember so is quite a relaxing knit…

See more: shale baby blanket

14. Baby bibs

Baby bib tutorial

I couldn’t resist this 1950s cowboy fabric…

If there’s one thing every six-month old baby needs it’s a lot of bibs. I made this pattern myself (not that it is hugely complicated, ha ha) and the bibs are all backed with velour, for easy post-meal mouth wiping.

Best of all, it’s super easy to make so you could whip up a little bundle very quickly for a last minute present.

Get the (free) pdf pattern and step-by-step tutorial here: baby bibs

15. Printed babygrows

Home printed babygrow

The one on the far left looks a little evil, doesn’t she?

If you’ve visited here before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of using iron on transfer paper to add images to fabric. This works particularly well, I think, with babygrows, which can look adorable with an extra embellishment. This matryoshka is one of my favourites…

Check out the matryoshka babygrow or take a look at my tutorial for transferring prints to fabric

16. Quilted burp cloth

Homemade quilted burp cloth

Yet more 1950s fabric. Don’t you love it, though?

There’s no denying that little babies are cute. But there’s also no denying that they are very vomitous. Very, very, very vomitous sometimes. I sewed a burp cloth before the sproglet was born and it’s fair to say it’s seen a bit of use in the intervening year or so. This isn’t the most glamorous present, it can’t be denied, but it’s a super useful one. Perhaps pair with some bibs or babygrows to up the cuteness quotient…

Read more: quilted burp cloth

17. Baby trousers

Homemade baby trousers

Stomp, stomp, stomp go the elephants

I’ve saved the best til last with the baby pressies. I’ve made a few pairs of these baby trousers now and I think they are utterly gorgeous and great for showcasing a nice fabric. These red elephant ones are my most preferred.

Read more: a trio of teeny, tiny trousers

Related articles:

What better way to finish off a handmade present, than with some lovely handmade wrapping. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

DIY advent calendar

29 Nov

DIY advent calendar tutorial from Wolves in London

I’m a complete curmudgeon when it comes to advance Christmas preparations.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Christmas. Just not in September. (Or August, October or November, for that matter…) And, as we all know, September is generally the time you start seeing Christmas bits and pieces popping up.

The first few times you tut to yourself in whatever giant multinational supermarket you happen to have popped into, “Tch, Christmas cards and advent calendars and it’s still September. Idiots.”

But, before you know it, the insidious pan pipe Christmas Carol music has crept into your brain and you’re feeling all Winter Wonderlandy and tinselly. And then, bamm, the middle of November hits, all of your Christmas joy has been used up already and you’re yearning for your next summer holiday.

So every year, I guard myself carefully against any Christmas thoughts at all until it’s December.

And so it is, that I have just, a few days in advance, allowed myself to think about making an advent calendar. And this is it.

DIY advent calendar

What’s not to love? Tiny little bags filled with chocolate and some vintage Christmas images

Lots of gorgeous little numbered bags stuffed full with chocolate and decorated with jolly vintage pictures, all found on the wonderful Graphics Fairy website. Here are a few of my favourites:

DIY advent calendar

I love the little gingerbread house for December 6th

If you’re a late preparer like me, and would like to make yourself one, I’ve put all of my images into a pdf and there are some really straightforward instructions below.

So, joyeux Noel, all. May the mulled wine drinking and mince pie eating officially begin!

Supplies:

DIY advent calendar

Scissors, bags, transfer paper

  • Small drawstring bags, approx. 9cm x 7cm. (I ordered mine through eBay ages ago, mistakenly getting a size that was too small for our wedding favours. Luckily, they were perfect for this purpose…)
  • This pdf template with all the images and dates
  • Some iron on transfer paper for pale fabric
  • An iron and scissors

What to do:

  1. Print out the pdf onto the iron on transfer paper. (The numbers and images are backwards, but don’t worry, this is as they should be!)
  2. Cut round the images leaving a small border of a few millimetres around the outside of each one.
  3. Position an image, face down, onto a bag.

    DIY advent calendar with vintage image

    Use the grid on the back to make sure the picture is straight

  4. Cover a wooden board (or your table) with a tea towel and, with the iron at its hottest setting, but the steam turned off, iron over the image for about 90 seconds. Make sure you cover the edges and especially any corners. (You can’t use a normal ironing board, because it’s too soft for the iron to really press the image onto the fabric.)

    Making an advent calendar

    Nice tea towel, isn’t it?

  5. Leave the transfer until it’s dry (you can iron on another one in the meantime)
  6. Carefully peel off the backing and tadaaa, you have a lovely little bag
    DIY advent calendar

    Start at a corner and gently pull the backing off

    DIY advent calendar

    Bag one, finished. Only 23 to go…

  7. Stuff with a chocolate, tiny presents or diamonds. Whatever floats your boat.

    diy advent calendar

    The perfect size for a Lindt Lindor, aka, the best chocolate ever created

  8. Repeat until all bags are finished and then hang somewhere festively…
    DIY advent calendar

    A lovely pile waiting for a treat

    DIY advent calendar

    I think they’d look very nice strung from a Christmas tree too

    homemade advent calendar

    Or use a bit of washi tape to hang them from the fireplace…

    DIY advent calendar

    Ah, just one more photo, so you can see this nice reindeer

If you want a bit more info on the process, check out my step-by-step tutorial for ironing images onto fabric, or my tips and hints for getting the best results.

I’m a traditionalist with advent calendars and only go up to December 24th, but I’ve included a 25 in there too for any of you newfangled crazy modernists out there.

Hope you enjoy this and do leave me a comment if you make one yourself.

Related articles:

  • I know that there must be lots of people out there waaaaaay more organised than me, because the round-up I put together last year for the top 20 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents has been getting lots of interest in the past few months

Box of delights: gift box template and tutorial

25 Feb

Waaaay back in December I told you about some homemade soaps I made for Christmas presents. I said I had great plans for the packaging, which I was planning on sharing if they came off.

Well, I’m sure you’ve hardly been able to concentrate in 2013 for wondering, nay, worrying if it all came together in the end. Perhaps you took my silence on the matter as a bad sign. You feared, I am sure, some packaging catastrophe had occurred, the memory of which was so upsetting for me, I couldn’t bear to re-live it on my blog. (“It’s a safe place,” you wanted to reassure me, “you can share anything here…”)

Worry not, though, my boxes came off a treat – better than I could have hoped.  My wait was just because I wanted to pester my partner into helping me get a template for them into pdf form to share with you all… (I’m a bit of a thicko when it comes to any sort of design work on the computer, so even this basic use of lines was a bit beyond me…)

So this was the final result:

Handmade box template

A ribbon and a personalised label: my go-to wrapping favourites

Attractive, no?

I’d tried a few other templates I’d seen first, but none worked properly for the size of my soaps.

So I drew the dimensions I wanted on a piece of A4 and, a bit of head-scratching later, realised that you actually only needed to make four straight cuts to create a box and decided to just make my own. Away I went…

I bought some nice ocean coloured card to make the box with and used one of my favourite vintage labels, which are free to download at the World Label blog. Obviously, the ribbon was the final touch…

But back to the present day. Two months later, with the template finally ready to share, I tested it out by making a second box.  For this one, I used a sheet of A4 printed one side with this gorgeous feather image, from the Graphics Fairy blog, and on the other with my template.

All went well! So the suspense is finally over and the tutorial and template follow, in case you’ve got a hankering to make your own gift box too…

Gift box template and tutorial

Supplies

  • A printer
  • A piece of A4 card or paper. As the side you print the template on will form the inside of the box, you could use some coloured card, or simply print a nice design onto the other side of the paper.
  • Glue or sellotape
  • This pdf gift box template

What to do

Step 1. Print out the template onto the blank side of your A4 sheet of paper or card.  Most printers automatically put a border around the outside, so select “Actual size” as your print setting.

Box template

Of course, you won’t have two separate sheets of paper, I’m just demonstrating both sides…

Box template

The template so complicated I couldn’t transfer it to the computer on my own. Ahem.

Step 2: Cut along the thick black lines marked with scissors (you could have figured that out on your own, couldn’t you?)

Make your own gift box

Snip, snip, snip

Step 3: Fold all of the dotted lines inwards, so the fold is towards you.

Make your own gift box

Fold, fold, fold

When you’re finished, it will look something like this:

Make your own gift box

Creased and crumpled and almost there…

On the two long sides, you now have an overlap at the left and right hand corners:

Make your own gift box

But what to do about those overlapping edges? Hmmmm…

Step 4: Fold the long side flaps towards you at a right angle for each of the four corners

Make your own gift box, free template

Aha! Fold the edges inwards, to create the corner

And the whole thing will look like this:

Make your own gift box

Not quite there, but it’s starting to take shape…

Step 5: Lift the short side flaps up and insert the long side corners underneath them.

Handmade gift box template and tutorial

Fold them under the short end flap

Homemade gift box template and tutorial

Hold in place.

Homemade gift box template and tutorial

Fold the short flap over the top…

Step 6: You now have your basic box, though the inside flaps are a bit, well, flappy still:

Homemade gift box tutorial and template

Confession, I left my box looking like this. But I know you’re less slapdash than me, so we’ll move onto step 7…

Step 7: Glue or sellotape into position.

Make your own guft box: template and tutorial

Since I didn’t actually glue my sides in place, I’m just pretending to use the Pritt Stick here

Which gives you nice crisp corners

Make your own gift box

Nice crisp corners

Step 8: Turn over and you’ve finished the top of your box!

Homemade box lid

Tadaaaa!

Step 9: Take a moment, if you like, to admire the lovely details of your chosen images.

Box lid detail, make your own gift box

Of course, this isn’t a step at all, I just wanted to show you a close up of this gorgeous design

Step 10: Repeat all the same steps on a piece of plain paper for the bottom of the box, and place the top over it…

Make your own guft boxes: template and tutorial from Wolves in London

Top and bottom together

Make your own gift box: template and tutorial

The finished box. I know this looks pretty much the same as the photo in step 8, but if you peer really closely, you can just see a sliver of the white box bottom underneath…

This template will make a box of 19x10x3cm, but of course you could alter the dimensions and make a box of any size you need.

Enjoy! And if you do make up one of these, do post a comment to let me know how it goes…

Related articles

Update: I’m chuffed that this was chosen as a feature at the following blogs:

mop it up mondays feature

Stamp your own gift tags

27 Jan

Stamp your own gift tagsI realised when I sat down to write this post that I’ve been playing rather fast and loose with the word “vintage” these past few years.

You see, I was going to call the article, “Create your own vintage gift tags” – which is clearly an utter nonsense.

That’s the whole point of vintage: you can’t “create” it now. It’s old. Vintage even.

When I was growing up, the word vintage meant a classic that’s stood the test of time. Usually something at least one hundred years old and widely recognised as being of a particular quality. Now, it can mean anything from not-brand-new to even something that’s not old but displays a certain kind of aesthetic (generally, I would say, anything that harks back to the era from the 1920s to the 1950s).

I remember when I first heard someone use the word vintage in its current guise. I guess it was a decade or so ago. I asked a friend where her dress was from and she replied, “Oh, it’s vintage.”

I have to admit, I slightly snickered to myself, thinking this was a rather poncey way of saying second-hand, or, from the charity shop. (Not that there’s anything wrong with buying clothes from the charity shop, of course. As a teenager in the ‘90s, I grew up with the idea that a good find from a charity shop gave one the necessary cachet. All my favourite bands went out of their way to look as if they were wearing a creation from the bargain bin at Oxfam, and to ape Pulp, Blur, Elastic et al, I spent most weekends trawling through those bins myself…)

Now, of course, I use it in that sense all the time myself. For my wedding later this year, I’m looking for a “vintage” wedding dress. I was delighted with a “vintage” hat box I received as a present at Christmas. And even on this very blog, I’ve spent far too much time extolling the virtues of “vintage images” I’ve found – when really I just mean old.

So I’m going to try my best to use the word correctly from now on. A vintage car must be an old Rolls Royce, not a beat-up 20-year-old Skoda. A vintage dress must be a Chanel number, not a two-year-old Primark dress found on a rail in the Salvation Army shop. And a vintage gift tag? Hmmm, perhaps some stunning design by Fortnums from the 1920s, but not something I’m making myself. Not yet, anyway. Maybe in 50 years my grandchildren will discover my gift tags in an old hat box and declare them to be true vintage… But most likely, they’ll be picked up with the recycling this week.

Anyway, vintage rant over, back to the subject of this post: stamping your own gift tags. (I suppose I could have gone with “utilitarian gift tags” if I really needed an adjective…)

I’ve seen buff brown tags printed with simple designs all over the place recently, from Etsy to Cox and Cox.

Trouble was, I didn’t really want to pay those prices for something that is by nature pretty disposable. Plus, it’s always more fun to have a crack yourself.

So, that’s exactly what I did…

After a bit of research, I bought these alphabet stamps from Amazon.

The reviews for them were pretty bad – everyone said that it was really hard to line them up properly and that you often saw smudges of ink from the corners of the stamp. But, luckily that slightly shonky approach was exactly what I was looking for…

I thought the box was attractive and the price pretty good too, at £14.99 for the whole set with upper and lower case as well as the punctuation.

Next, also bought through Amazon, I got 50 tags for £1.61 and a black ink stamp for £2.33.

Once all of my supplies arrived, it was just a question of stamping the messages.

You can use these for whatever occasion you want.

So they’d be as perfect for Valentine’s Day in a few weeks…

Stamp your own gift tags for Valentine's Day

…as they would for a birthday…

Happy Birthday gift tag

…or to welcome a new arrival…

Stamp your own gift tags

…spread Christmas cheer…

Stamp your own gift tags

…or celebrate a wedding…

Wedding hand stamped gift tag

I love that you can personalise for the recipient as well, adding in people’s names or perhaps significant dates:

Stamp the wedding date onto your homemade gift tag

So there you have it. Easy to make gift tags.

I’ll leave it for you to decide if they’re “vintage” or not. And, hey, at least we’ve all stopped saying “shabby chic”.

By the way, if you like the camel wrapping paper I’ve used in the top image, check back here in a few weeks, as I’m planning on sharing a pdf for some print-it-yourself wrapping paper (vintage-style, ha ha). And if you’d like more inspiration for beautifully wrapped presents, have a look at my Pinterest board Wrap it up.

Related articles:

This project is linked up at Made by You Monday at Skip to my Lou. Head over there to see what others have been up to this week…

Moustache mugs, a perfect man present

21 Jan

Moustache mug set tutorial from Wolves in London

When I embarked on the whole homemade Christmas plan last year, the one person I was really worried about making something for was my brother.

I find him hard enough to buy for every single birthday and Christmas as it is. With all of the products available to buy in all of the shops that exist in all of London all of the time, I still struggle to find a present to buy him when the gift-giving seasons roll round.

So how on earth was I going to choose what to make for him, when my options suddenly became limited to something I was actually capable of producing?

I read through hundreds of lists on craft blogs outlining the top homemade presents for men, I scoured Pinterest, I made my eyes square checking endless pages of Google listings and couldn’t come up with a single thing that might appeal to him.

And then, I came across this homemade moustache mug on The Tortoise and the Hare blog. Bingo!

I really dig this mug. It’s funny and oh, as Grazia would say, totally OTM, dahlings (that’s “of the moment” for those who don’t devour women’s weeklies with quite the zest I have for reading celeb gossip and looking at expensive clothes on super-skinny people who haven’t had babies. Unless they’re Miranda Kerr, of course, who has had a baby and is yet still unbelievably skinny. And frequently featured in Grazia).

But, back to the moustache mugs. This was the perfect present for my brother and, even better, looked really easy to make. It didn’t take much brainpower on my part to decide to take it to the next level and create a whole set.

Make your own moustache mugs

The full set; another view so you can see each mug in all its hairy gloriousness

Here’s what I did.

Supplies:

Not much needed for this at all:

  • Mugs, bought from my local pound shop for £1.25 each. (Is that misleading advertising that they didn’t come in at under a quid???)
  • Porcelain painter pen. (I bought mine from eBay for £2.75 plus postage costs.)

What to do:

  1. Find some moustache images you like the look of on Google images, or if you’re a bit more arty than I am, just imagine some in your head.
  2. Either print out the image, or draw your own moustache ideas onto paper
  3. Cut them out and position them on the mugs with a small bit of blu-tack
  4. Check you’re happy with the position (you probably want to hold the mug up to your face at this point, to make sure you’ve got the maximum amusement factor when drinking)
  5. Draw round the templates in pencil (this will show up faintly on the mug, but is easily erased if you want to make changes)
  6. Use the porcelain pen to draw the pencil outline and then colour in the inside
  7. Leave it to dry and then repeat as many times as needed to get a good thick colour. (I did mine three times each.)

I also filled each mug in the set with smaller presents.

Make your own moustache mugs

The plastic catapult alien at the front was a particular hit

Two had little toy shop toys (he’s 30 next June, but still loved the racing bug, some exploding caps and a balloon car), one had some bergamot and coconut skin salve that I made following this tutorial, packaged as “Manly skin barrier cream,” and one had a T-shirt printed with a motorbike design (I followed my own tutorial for transferring prints to fabric).

Perfect! A quick, easy and amusing present, that you can customize in hundreds of different ways.

So tell me, what moustaches would you use on your mugs? And what other presents would you fill them with?

I’m thinking this could work well for Valentine’s Day too, with the mugs filled with love hearts, or Herschey’s kisses, or the fabulous Italian equivalent, Baci…

Do post a comment if you’ve been inspired and let me know what you made.

Related articles:

This post is linked up from the following link parties. Do go and check out what others have been up to this week! Easy Living Mom, Katie’s Nesting Spot, Glued to my Crafts, Skip to my Lou, Project Inspire, The Shabby Nest.

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