Tag Archives: craft

Finding vintage images

26 Jun

Finding vintage images: a guide to 5 handy sources | Wolves in London

If you’ve visited me here at Wolves in London before (hello! if you haven’t, nice to meet you!) you’ll know I am a huge fan of beautiful old illustrations.

There is something so wonderfully evocative about a good vintage image. Perhaps it’s the delicate detail of some drawings that transports you back to a world of explorers and inventors and the collector’s drawer. Perhaps it’s the romance of a perfectly depicted rose. Or perhaps I’m just a sucker for good old fashioned nostalgia, which pictures like these have in abundance.

At any rate, I use vintage images all the time. From everything such as making my own wrapping paper or soap packaging, to weird lobster jewellery and even our wedding invitations and wedding favours.

(I have plans in the pipeline to open an Etsy shop soon, selling babygrows and T-shirts with some of my favourite images on the front. Watch this space to see if I can get off my arse and do it…)

In the meantime, it occurred to me that it might be useful to share some of the websites I use to find all those wonderful vintage pictures in the first place.

Here, then, are my five favourite blogs and websites that catalogue hundreds of copyright free vintage images:

1. The Graphics Fairy

Vintage pears

Vintage pears found on the Graphics Fairy site

If I’m looking for a new image, the Graphics Fairy blog is inevitably the first place I visit.

Completely eclectic, the website is packed with a phenomenal range of images in loads of different styles of loads of different subjects. You can run a search to find images of specific things, but it’s much more fun to just lose yourself for hours browsing the different categories.

All images are copyright free and fine to use both for your own use or to sell commercially…

Especially good for:

Everything! This really is my number one site. Great for black and white images as well as colour. There’s also a host of reader’s projects (my lobster necklace was once featured here) as well as hints, tips and DIYs if you’re looking for inspiration with what to do with all this fabulous imagery.

 Projects I’ve made:

DIY advent calendar

Vintage images advent calendar

Most of my projects use Graphics Fairy images somewhere or other. My vintage advent calendar was made entirely with images I’d found here.

2. Vintage Printable

Ladybirds from Vintage Printable

Ladybirds from Vintage Printable

I’ve got to say, I always find Vintage Printable a little frustrating to navigate, but persevere for it is definitely worth it for some of the wonderfully weird things you can find. I especially love the illustrations of collections, like the ladybirds above. This is definitely a site for browsing and wondering what amazing thing you’ll stumble across, rather than one for carrying out specific searches.

Especially good for:

Plates from books, colour images and unusual things you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Projects I’ve made:

Homemade hat wrapping paper

Not a great photo, but I still think this wrapping paper is better than loads you can buy…

The hat print is one of my favourite images I’ve ever come across, which I used as an envelope liner for my homeprinted book plates and again for my home printed wrapping paper.

3. Clip Art Etc

Boarfish illustration

The boarfish! From Clip Art Etc

Looking for some weird and wonderful old-fashioned black and white images of animals or fish? Look no further! I scour this site — set up as an educational resource for the university of South Florida — on a regular basis. The images are available copyright free and you can use them for any personal projects without charge. If you want to use them for anything commercial, you can pay a one off fee that allows you to reproduce the image as many times as you like and in any way you like…

They also run the equally wonderful Maps Etc, which has hundreds of historic maps.

Especially good for:

Clip Art, obviously. All line-drawn black and white illustrations. The animals and plants sections are my favourite, but there are some great quirky scientific images as well.

Projects I’ve made:

Homeprinted babygrow

Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

I love the carrot illustration that I used in the babygrow I made the sproglet.

4. Botanicus

Orange botanical vintage image

Oranges from Botanicus

Botanicus is a new one for me, and I am yet to fully explore everything inside the site. Another one that is pretty difficult to navigate, but the website contains complete editions of lots of antique botanical books, including the plates — which is where you find the wonderful images.

To find your way around, you need to select the book you want (choosing by title or author) and then take a look on the left hand side in the box called “pages” — click on ones that say “plate” or “illustration.”  A good starting place is Koehler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, the book that contains this orange illustration above.

It’s also slightly complicated to figure out how to download the images. On the right hand side of the image is a box full of arrows, to help you scroll around and zoom the image. Click on the one that looks like this: ↓ and then right click on the image to save.

It’s a bit of a faff, yes, but it is worth it for some of the illustrations, which are truly stunning.

Especially good for:

Er, botanicals!

Projects I’ve made:

None, so far, but once I’ve explored the site a bit more, I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more vintage botanical prints from here in future projects.

I also think these would all look wonderful printed and framed for the wall, so once we’ve finally decorated the house I plan on festooning the walls with some of these images.

5. Old Book Illustrations

Oh I truly love this site! Old Book Illustrations is nowhere near as extensive as the others, containing only a few categories with a few choice images in each one. But the images themselves are, without fail, stunning and stunningly quirky. And, as you might have noticed, I love me a bit of quirk.

The site says that all images are copyright free and can be used for personal or commercial purposes.

Especially good for:

Black and white images. Once again, the animals and plants categories are my favourites. The French subtitles to the images make them especially appealing to me…

Projects I’ve made:

Screen print acetate

F is for fish

The smelt (a fish, doncha know) that I used in my F is for Fish screen printing attempts last year was from Old Book Illustrations. I loved it so much, I used it again on some of my Spoonflower fabric.

And that’s it! My five favourite sites. I hope it helps if you’re on the search for an old graphic anytime soon.

And if you think there are some amazing ones that I’ve missed off, please do drop me a note in the comments. I always love to add to the list…

Related articles:

  • I pin all my favourite images over on my Free Graphics board on Pinterest, so if you can’t be bothered to trawl all these sites yourself, just follow me over there for my pick of the bunch!

Pretty soap packaging

9 Jun

Since moving back to our house after the builders moved out, we’ve only succeeded in getting two rooms anywhere near a finished condition.

The kitchen has a single coat of paint up on the walls, but that at least makes it look better than everywhere else where the bare plaster sings out in all its beigey drabness.

The bathroom is, actually, almost entirely finished. Tiling done. Walls painted. Bath, shower, sink in place. Glorious custom made wood shelf fitted around the sink. The only things left on the to do list are fixing a bath panel and painting the window frame.

Vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

Good enough for an interiors magazine! Well, maybe not…

And so it is, in this one little oasis of properly decorated living that I decided it was absolutely imperative that everything looks incredibly beautiful and ready to be photographed by an interiors magazine. (Ahem, sort of…)

Even the soaps.

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

Soaps and a rose. Because we all keep roses with our soaps…

I’ve got a bunch of soaps that I made a while ago (there’s a tutorial here, if you’re inclined to do the same: homemade soaps), which had been relegated to living in a brown paper bag in our bedroom, because they weren’t packaged as beautifully enough to be out on display. (And yes, I do know how that makes me sound and, trust me, it’s even weirder given that the rest of our house is a complete sh*t heap… But there’s something about the sparkling new shower and lovely tiled floor that just cries out for matchingly lovely accessorising.)

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

Another view, same subjects: soap, rose, lovely soap dish

I won’t insult your intelligence by giving you a step by step how to tutorial. Clearly, all I have done is print off some nice vintage images, wrap up the soaps and tie them up in garden string.

If you’d like to do the same, the images I’ve used are this vintage lavender illustration from the Graphics Fairy and these amazing floral cigar cards.

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

The soap dish is new too. i rather love it.

I’m pretty pleased with them. Pleased enough that they are now allowed to sit in my glass soap jar, in full view on the shelf.

I know, I know, it’s time to get on with painting the walls now…

PS If you follow me on instagram, you will have seen that I was originally trying to shoot these soaps alongside some lavender, in one my first ever attempts at photo styling. (Oh, I find it so hard!)

The lavender was just too dark alongside the soap parcels, though, and I couldn’t get the colours to be right for both at once. But in case you were here, just looking for some lavender photos, here’s one of it sans soap, but looking rather glorious.

Lavender | Wolves in London

Beautiful lavender

 Related articles:

 

The original ickle trousers

6 Jun

Sometimes you come across a craft pattern so great you can’t help but make it time and again.

Sure, you think you to yourself, I could try out a different pattern this time round. I could make something new that I’ve not made before. In fact I probably should try out something new. Who knows? It might be better.

But you know, all along, that you’re going to whip up another version exactly the same as the others because you just can’t resist its charms. And you’re only likely to be disappointed if the new pattern doesn’t turn out as well…

Home sewn baby trousers | Wolves in London

Very very little baby trousers

So it is with the Made by Rae pattern for newborn baby “pants” (or trousers, to me and all other UK folk). Quick, simple and oh-so-very cute when finished, I made three of these for my friend Laura’s third baby and then another pair for my sister’s son.

Unpacking the sproglet’s newborn baby clothes a few weeks ago, in preparation for the new babe’s arrival, I came across the original two pairs.

Sewn almost two years ago now, these were my first foray into sewing with a sewing machine for many, many years. They were also my first time of making something that I had found through Pinterest, back when I used to pin craft projects imagining I actually was going to get round to making them all.

Sewn before the sproglet was born (and before this blog was born too) they almost seem to represent a different lifetime.

The grey stripy version was from an old shirt of my Dad’s, which I then appropriated at the age of 16, when wearing old too-large men’s shirts that you most likely bought in a charity shop was, briefly, the height of fashion.

Grey stripy baby trousers | Wolves in London

Ah this fabric brings back memories!

The blue striped version was made from my old primary school shirt, that was knocking around in a cupboard for some reason. (Ahem, that reason being that I am a hoarder.)

Blue stripy baby trousers, home sewn | Wolves in London

They look a bit like chef’s trousers, don’t they?

So, all in all, lots of memories stitched into these tiny trews. I can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can put them on the new babe too.

A boy’s favourite things

24 Apr

I’m the oldest of four siblings, all born within six years of each other.

(Looking back now, with the experience of having my own family, I wonder how on earth my Mum coped without having a serious breakdown, or running off with a Greek waiter at least once in my childhood. But, to the best of my knowledge, she never did…)

I don’t remember my next sister or brother being born, but I do, very clearly, remember the excitement I felt at my youngest sister’s birth. Or, more accurately, the excitement I felt about the fact that she brought me a present when she arrived. And not just any present, oh no, this was a ballerina Sindy doll… …one that my parents had already told me I wasn’t allowed to have.

Ha ha, parents, take that, it’s me and my new sister together against the world!

Ballerina Sindy from the 1980s

This delightful lady would win you round to any disruptive new sibling… (NB, not a photo of my *actual* doll who will have been given away to charity at least 20 years ago, but just a photo I nicked off the internet.)

Personal memories aside, I’ve been given advice by almost everyone I know with more than one child to buy the older sibling a present “from the new baby” as a softener and I’m certainly not above bribery to try and make everyone get along.

So the sproglet has been purchased a couple of new books; one about both doggies and counting, which are two of his absolute favourite things in the world. And last night I finally got around to making him some T-shirts with some more of his favourite things on the front, following my usual method (see more info at my fabric transfer tutorial).

This is they, photographed against the bare plaster walls of our bedroom, shortly before being wrapped.

Homemade dog T-shirt | Wolves in London

The dog print is my favourite. The image is from the Graphics Fairy website (here: vintage dog pic). There’s something so comical about waddling little dogs with long bodies, isn’t there?

Dachshund T-shirt | Wolves in London

The “R for rhinocerous” is from this amazing vintage alphabet I found at Rook No 17, with which I have also planned many, many other projects, but not quite got round to making any of them yet…

Homemade rhinocerous T-shirt | Wolves in London

Yes, it’s just possible that the sproglet’s actual name starts with an R.

Here’s the full alphabet in all its glory as well:

Vintage alphabet

Click on image to go straight to the site for download

Finally, this circus elephant image is also from the Graphics Fairy: circus elephant.

Homemade circus elephant T-shirt | Wolves in London

There is a whole selection of circus animals from the same series, again I have had something planned to make with all of these for ages, but once again not got round to it. I did, however, use the giraffe a while ago on another T-shirt as a present for a first birthday.

Homemade giraffe T-shirt | Wolves in London

Remember her?

So, hopefully these will appease the sproglet just a little when he suddenly has to share his Mum and Dad with a milk-guzzling interloper. Fingers crossed, at any rate…

Related articles:

  • You can find all my vintage image pics saved on my Pinterest board Free graphics.

A finished baby blanket

14 Apr

As I mentioned in my last post, I managed to summon up a burst of knitting energy recently and finish off the blanket that I started about three months ago for the impending new arrival (aka sproglet mi).

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London

I’m loving this snuggly blanket a lot…

After sewing in all the ends (oh, such a tedious process, I always put it off and off and off for days…) and blocking overnight, I took a few photos this morning.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London

A little close up of the pattern

A few knitting notes for anyone who might be interested… The pattern is the heirloom blanket by Madeline Tosh. (Costs $4 for an instant download on Ravlery. Well worth it, in my opinion.) It’s the second time I’ve made it and I think it’s a lovely pattern; difficult enough to keep you interested, simple enough to memorise.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London

Just showing off my neat edges…

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London

…and my neat stitches

The yarn is Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino and sadly you can’t reach into your computer screen to give the blanket a stroke because it is soooo deliciously soft and stretchy and generally just the perfect thing for putting against a newborn’s skin.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London

Sooo soft and squishy.

Full project details over on Ravelry as always: Blanket for bump.

In other knitting-related info, thanks so much for everyone’s comments and advice on my quandary in my last post. You made me realise that, yes, I really did feel like knitting something and I cast on that very evening. In fact, a bit of a knitting frenzy has since ensued and I am half way through the project already. Will share more details and photos once it’s finished and given away!

Related articles:

  • This blanket was the first thing I’d cast on for a while, back when I started it, and reminded me exactly why it is I love knitting: the joy of knitting.

 

Homemade baby presents; a quandary

10 Apr

Can you give my weary brain a little help this fine spring morning?

I’m having a quandary about what to make for the imminent arrival of my future niecephew (tbc) and could use some advice…

When my sister had her first baby, last summer, I put together a lovely little box full of homemade goodies: a blanket that I’d been knitting for the previous four months or so, some homemade baby trousers and some homeprinted babygrows.

In five weeks or so, my brother is having his first baby and I’d like to do something similar for them. Only problem is, in, oooh, two weeks or so, I am also having a baby (yeah, yeah, I know I’ve mentioned it a million times before) and my recent knitting has been dedicated to a blanket for him. (Which is, as of yesterday, finally finished. I’ll share some pictures after the weekend…)

So, I’ve got (probably) a few weeks of late pregnancy brain fug and lack of crafting mojo to work on something now, followed by a few weeks of new baby brain fug and, I suspect, no time at all for any crafting, mojo absent or otherwise.

So, what I’m after is a quick make, but still of something really special. Does such a thing exist?!

I trawled my Pinterest board, I could make that, to see what had inspired me in the past and this is the shortlist. Does anyone have any advice on these projects? Or any suggestions for something completely different? I’ve been pondering over this for so long now, I could have made something really nice in the meantime!

Seven homemade baby presents

Click on any of the photos below to go through to the tutorials…

1. Purl Bee big bottom baby trousers

Purl Bee baby trousers

The cutest thing ever?

These trousers from the Purl Bee are just too adorable, aren’t they? I have some really lovely fabrics in my stash so I could almost certainly make these without having to go to the shops. In fact, I think I must certainly have a go at these, irrespective of anything else I decide to make…

2.Rainbow blanket from the Purl Bee

Purl Bee baby blanket

So colourful. So perfect for a boy or girl…

I am still tempted to go for a knitted blanket, but making sure I pick something simple and quick. I’ve long admired this simple block colour blanket, also from the Purl Bee, and am tempted to try and make one with four rainbow colours (red, yellow, green and blue) and then add a border around the edge in cream.

But, two concerns: is knitting that much garter stitch going to be so boring that I can’t bear to pick up the needles? And, am I simply setting myself up for a sure and certain failure in trying to knit in a blanket in two weeks? Hummmm…

3. Fabric stacking blocks

Homemade stacking blocks

Every baby needs a lighthouse

These stacking blocks from the Shabby Home blog have been sitting on my Pinterest board for about two years now I think. I absolutely love them: the long teetering lighthouse, the nautical stripes, the hint of Italian (“mare” means sea) that every cultured baby should surely have in their toybox…

Potential issue: is this one of those projects that looks quite simple, but actually takes a long time to make? I have a sort of feeling that I could be spending hours trying to get the perfect pointed corners.

4. Squishy bunny toy

Homemade bunny

He’s squidgy, he’s a bunny, he’s red and striped. What’s not to like?

Then, of course, I could go for a homemade toy (or two). I love this little squidgy red-tummied bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe. Why haven’t I simply started making one already? I’m just never quite convinced that toys are the perfect new baby present. I know the sproglet has accumulated a lot of toys over the 21 months of his life so far and maybe it is better to give something a little more useful???

5. Little puppy

Homemade puppy

Woof woof

Then again, this little scrap fabric puppy is almost irresistible, isn’t he? And would surely keep a child company from babyhood all the way through to… …well, who knows how old?

6. Yoked knitted cardigan

Yoked cardigan

Love these big red buttons

Back to the knits though. Maybe I should still aim for something with the knitting needles (easier to pick up and put down and work on little by little when I have time and energy in the evenings) but just focus on something a bit smaller than a blanket? This cardigan is really gorgeous, and if I knit it in a neutral colour like grey, I could always add buttons to make it more feminine / masculine after the baby’s arrival. Again, I already have wool in my stash I could use for this too. And the pattern is available on Ravelry as an instant download.

7. Homeprinted babygrows

Homeprinted babygrow

Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

This is the only one I am sure about. I will definitely be making some homeprinted babygrows, with an appropriate picture on the front, once the baby has been born. (I’m kind of hoping they have a girl and call her something like Rose or Violet, so I can use some lovely botanical images…) Check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric for more info.

Well, even as I’ve been writing this, I’ve been vacillating wildly between all the different choices so, please, any suggestions to help my indecisive brain would be much appreciated!

Related articles:

Various other baby projects I’ve made are:

The joy of knitting

20 Feb

Now that my exams are over, I am itching to tackle my gigantically long to do list. And the very first thing at the top of the list is to knit a blanket for the impending arrival of sproglet number two…

Knitted blanket beginnings

Fresh on the needles. Ahhh, the relaxation of some good knitting…

What with one thing and another* I’ve hardly done any knitting for almost a year. I managed to whip up a bobble hat for my sister for Christmas, but, I have to confess, really disliked the whole process. I used cheap wool (we had a fixed budget for presents last year, I’m not just a total stinge-bag) that was horrible to knit with, on needles that were too small and from about the second round in already knew I wasn’t happy with how the end result was going to look, but had no time to frog and start again on a better pattern.

So it was, I had rather forgotten about the absolute joy of knitting.

This new project is made from some really nice Sublime yarn in a merino cashmere silk mix with a mellow taupey-mushroomy-grey colour. The wool is stretchy and soft and feels lovely, so I’m enjoying knitting every single stitch.

Sublime wool

Sublime in name, sublime in knitability

The pattern, Heirloom by Madeline Tosh, is one I have knitted before and that I know will look good when finished. It’s complicated enough to keep me interested, but not so difficult I worry about going wrong or checking the pattern all the time.

Knitting a blanket

Three repeats down, 24 to go…

But most of all, there is a huge pleasure in being able to quickly get my needles out and knit a few rows here and there when the sproglet is napping or temporarily distracted by Rastamouse. I had forgotten the enjoyment of a craft you can easily pick up and put down without having to get endless supplies out (or clear them away at the end).  One where the pleasure isn’t just in hurrying up and getting to the end result (being impatient, I tend to feel that way about most things) but in just slowly enjoying the making process.

Knitting a blanket

It’s going to be lovely when it’s finished.

So, knitting, welcome back to my life. It’s good to see you again…

As ever, project details for this are over on Ravelry if you want to see more: Blanket for the bump.

*Things = the exhaustion of pregnancy combined with looking after a toddler, revising for exams, not living in our house and trying to oversee a building renovation from far too far away…

Related articles:

  • I was more on the ball with knitting this time last year. Take a look at some knitted goods I made for Christmas presents or this rather nice lace scarf
  • If you’re after more inspiration for baby knitting, or baby presents in general, I put together a nice little homemade gift box for my nephew in the summer. Which, of course, also included a knitted blanket.

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
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