Print your own wrapping paper

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most satisfying.

print your own wrapping paper
Why not?

I always find it really hard to find nice wrapping paper – and when I do, I’m then completely shocked at the cost of it. You frequently pay a fiver just to buy some paper to put a present in that will immediately get thrown into the bin once it’s unwrapped. (Don’t even get me started on the cost of cards…)

I used to get round the problem by saving wrapping paper on presents given to me and then reusing it. Now, I still think this is a good idea in principle (just think of the trees, man) but I fear not many others agree with me, and I end up looking like a bit of a cheapskate when friends unwrap presents and find old bits of sellotape still stuck to the inside of the twice used wrapping paper.

But while I was printing out nice images on paper to make my homemade gift box, it suddenly occurred to me that it would also be eminently possible to simply use the paper to wrap presents in the normal way as well.

So ever since then, if I have a small present to give someone, I just find a nice image and print it off to use as wrapping paper.

Print your own wrapping paper
Who wouldn’t want a present wrapped in camels? Or hats? Or leaves?

You couldn’t get a simpler how to than this…

1. Find an image you like. There is a wealth of images that are copyright free and available to use on sites like the Graphics Fairy, Vintage Printable and Clip Art etc.

If you like the ones I’ve used; my camel is from Clip Art etc, my leaves are from the Graphics Fairy and my hats are from Vintage Printable.

2. If the image you like is just a small one (like my camel) you can copy and paste a few onto one page. I use Powerpoint to do this (a deeply embarrassing confession, I know…) If the image is already as you want it, you can skip straight ahead to:

3. Print the image!

4. Wrap up present.

Homemade leaf wrapping paper
This leaf wrapping paper is my favourite of them all

I couldn’t resist adding my little teapot gift tag again, which you might recognise from my experiments with shrink plastic. (Well, I say I “couldn’t resist” adding it, it would be slightly more accurate to say that it was still sewn onto the ribbon which I decided to use and it seemed a lot easier to re-use it than cut it off…)

Homemade leaf wrapping paper
The image is particularly beautiful: a depiction of various different identified leaves

I should say, unless you’ve got an industrial size printer (or utilise one in your office, a trick I used to do a lot until I found myself on maternity leave) you’re obviously only going to get an A4 sheet out of this, which is only big enough for quite small presents.

As the printer paper is a lot thicker than usual wrapping paper, this also works a lot better on square shaped presents, where you can fold in straight lines.

The environmentalist in me wants to print the wrapping paper onto the reverse side of all the various junk mail we get, with endless offers of estate agents wanting to sell our house. However, I suspect that adds a cheapskate element to any present that would be even greater than re-using some other wrapping paper.

Homemade hat wrapping paper
I’ve only just realised I clearly have a thing for different artefacts all labelled. Instead of leaves, this time hats

{Regular readers will notice absolutely nothing new in this photo above. I’ve used the hat image before as an envelope liner when I was making my own bookplates. And there’s also a how to for stamping your own gift tags.}

So, there you have it. Simple, cheap and an infinite number of options to create absolutely any wrapping paper that you can think of… This really was one of those “why didn’t I think of that before?” moments.

Related articles:

  • If you want to hand create all of your wrapping needs, check out my tutorials on stamping your own gift labels, making your own gift box and making shrink plastic gift tags. Now, if I could just figure out how to weave my own ribbons from spider’s thread I’d never need to go to the shops again…
  • That’s the wrapping paper sorted, but what about the presents? I’ve got various articles and ideas for homemade presents in my category called, wait for it, homemade presents.
  • For more wrapping ideas, take a look at my Pinterest board Wrap it up

Linking this up at  Serenity Now, the Shabby Nest, Beyond the Picket Fence, the Shabby Creek Cottage, Skip to my Lou, Sew Can Do and the Graphics Fairy.


Beautiful letterpress business cards

Just dropping in very quickly this morning to show you a few pictures of these little beauties:

Letterpress business cards
I feel like I’m coming over all American Psycho, but look at that lovely thick card!

What is that heavenly thing of wonder? I hear you ask. Is it the latest exhibit at the Tate? Is it the winner of the Turner prize? Is it a new work by Hockney?

Prepare to be amazed, dear readers. It’s none other than my brand new business card. (Oh. You already saw that from the post title, did you?)

Letterpress business cards
My sister had tied them up with this baker’s twine for me. Heaven! (Then she’d put them in one her dog poo bags, so the initial impression wasn’t quite as good…)

As I was going to the Pinterest party last night, I thought it might be a good idea to have some cards I could hand out to other bloggers.

I’d love to claim any sort of contribution to the beauty of this end result, but sadly (or, perhaps, fortunately) I had no hand in it.

The wonderfully talented Paola Zakimi, who made the amazing wolf girl on my banner, also created this great logo for me. (If you haven’t already, do take a look at Paola’s Etsy shop Holli, she has some gorgeous illustrations for sale.)

Letterpress business card
The same logo you can see on my About page, this time in printed form

And my sister (the same one whose wedding invitations I showed you before) had a Letterpress plate made up with the design and printed them out for me. (She also takes commissions, so if you want some nice cards yourself, just get in touch and I’ll put you in contact.)

You can just see the indentations of the press if you look closely…

Letterpress business card
Okay, I confess, I just like looking at these from every angle

Since they didn’t have contact details on, I bought myself a little Dormy printing kit, which had great reviews on Amazon. I thought I could easily print all my contact info onto the back of the cards.

I set up two different options for printing; one with just the website, one with more contact info.

Letter stamp
It reminds me of the old cinema signs, where you can replace the film title letter by letter

Then I tried and tried over and over to get a good result with the stamp. Hmmmm. Not so much.

The larger plate with all the info was a complete disaster. But I managed to get a (just about) acceptable result with the website address alone.

Wolves in London stamps
A little bit of subliminal messaging going on here…

After all that practicing, the ink didn’t dry in time for me to take them with me, so I ended up only taking the plain cards. (In fact, it’s still not dry this morning…)

But, if it ever sets, the idea is I’ll have a card with a gorgeous front and an informative back. Like this:

Letterpress business cards
Okay, the front is way better than the back, but I think I can just about get away with the shonky printing of the web address. Can’t I?

And how many of these beauteous items did I give out all night?


Letterpress business cards
Business cards: tick. Now to just set up the actual business…

Still, a business card is a step closer to a fully fledged business, isn’t it?

Related articles:

Brighton: a plethora of pattern

When I was down in Brighton over the weekend, it seemed as if everywhere I went I saw amazing patterns, embedded into the everyday fabric of the city.

I don’t know whether it was just that I was on holiday, so was looking around me with a little more interest and leisure than I normally do, or whether Brighton really has a lot more glorious patterns than London. (Okay, so I do know the answer to that, it’s clearly the first one, but it’s much nicer to think about an amazing city of patterns…)

I’m really fascinated by pattern at the moment. What with this whole fabric designing malarkey, I’m spending more time than usual noticing the way things are laid out, the geometric repeats of patterns and how you can take inspiration from all sorts of unlikely everyday objects to create really beautiful images.

Here, then, are some favourites that I spotted while we were away.

Mosaic floor, Brighton museum
I’d love to give you a bit of background history on this floor, but I’m afraid all I know about it is that it’s pretty…

We only made a brief visit to the Art Museum, but I had time to admire (and photograph) its mosaic floors (above) and tiled walls (below).

Tiled wall, Brighton museum
Stunning, aren’t they. Plus a little reflection of me for your added viewing pleasure

It wasn’t just in the museums and galleries I spotted nice patterns though. Oh no! Even Brighton’s car parks are beautiful. On the way to use the loo in Debenhams, I was temporarily stopped in my tracks to admire this pattern of sunlight coming through the grid on the side of the car park:

Sunlight in car park
You know, in London, we don’t have beautiful things like car parks.

But, let’s face it, you don’t go to Brighton to admire the car parks. Out on the beach, there was plenty of opportunity to photograph the floor as well.

Beach path
Wood and pebbles, especially lovely patterns

The pebble beach was edged with pathways made of wood. Some new, as above, some older, as below.

Beach path, Brighton
Pebbles and older wood: even better

The paths going through the middle of the beach were equally appealing:

Beach path, Brighton
Have you seen enough photos of different combinations of wood and pebbles yet?

As was this series of steps leading to the beach:

Paving slabs, bricks and wood. Not necessarily a combination I would normally think of as beautiful

And finally, out on the pier, a little more weathered wood…

Brighton pier
As I took the photo, the sea was glittering away through the cracks

…and is there, anywhere, a more glorious sight than white railings and a turquoise sea?

Brighton pier railings
Mmmmm, heavenly view

On a completely unrelated note, I’m off to the Pinterest UK party this evening up in King’s Cross. I was contacted by Pinterest a few weeks ago to ask if I wanted to come along, in a move that felt a little akin to your favourite band when you were younger noticing how much time you’d spend staring at their poster on the ceiling and deciding to ask you to come to tea.

(I have an idea that Pinterest has set up an algorithm that looked at the accounts of bloggers and correlated how much time they were wasting usefully pinning projects they are really going to make one day on Pinterest and then invited the most hopelessly addicted to come and meet them.)

I think somewhere in my subconscious the word “party” has struck terror though. Not having been out a huge amount since having the little sproglet, it’s a while since I’ve been to a party. Let alone one where I won’t actually know a single person. My body, in response, has behaved as that of an 18-year-old going on a date. I have a spot on my top lip. I got really sunburnt yesterday. I cut my ankle just now while shaving my legs.

So, if you’re going along too, and you see someone with a tomato red face, limping along unaccustomed to their heels, a smear of unnoticed baby sick down their back, blood dripping down one ankle and a huge throbbing spot on their upper lip, come over and say hi. That’ll be me.

Related articles:

A weekend by the sea

I’m full of the joys of Spring this morning. Over the weekend, we went all Graham Greene, and headed down to the seaside at Brighton.

Brighton Rock sign
Brighton Rock

(Actually, ignore the Graham Greene reference, we did nothing even remotely approaching the sinister activities of Brighton Rock. Honest.)

I was there for my sister’s hen party, but the baby and partner sneaked down too on Saturday evening, so we had a few family days afterwards pootling along the seafront and window shopping in the Lanes.

The weather was unbelievably glorious. Blue skies, sunshine, a breeze off the sea to keep you cool.

Here’s a little pictorial evidence of our time…

Brighton pier
Sun, sea and Brighton pier. What more could you want? (Maybe a sandy beach)

The pier was everything I had expected: fairground rides, doughnut shops, arcades, music blaring out, flags flying. It’s the English seaside experience of the 1930s, still going strong today. I loved it.

West pier, Brighton
The burnt out shell of West pier, to the left of the photo

Our hotel was directly opposite the old, West pier, that burnt down in 2003. Now, the carcass of the pier and the metal rods that supported it are all that remain. The shell looks rather stunning, sitting out there in the sea, and the old metal supports look almost like an art installment sticking up in the beach…

Beach art, Brighton
Where there’s a beach, there’s beach art…

Further down the beach, is an actual metal beach sculpture, which I thought was equally glorious…

Shellfish stall, Brighton beach
Despite the promising “we pack to take home” sign, I wasn’t convinced that prawns or jellied eels would survive a car journey in the heat back to London. And at 9am on Monday morning, I wasn’t in the mood to eat any at the time. A decision I rather regret now…

…though not quite as glorious as this shellfish stall…

Prawn sculptue, Brighton
A human sized prawn. Surely the stuff of nightmares

…which also had its very own bit of beach art. A giant sculpture of a prawn.

Oversized prawns aren’t the only oddities in Brighton, of course, as it’s the home to the fabulously bizarre Royal Pavilion.

Brighton pavilion
Not quite the quintessential Regency period architecture

The pavilion was created for the Prince Regent, George Prince of Wales (who gives his name to the Regency period and architecture). Started in 1787, it wasn’t fully completed until 1823 and is a fabulously un-English building, taking inspiration instead from Indian, Chinese and Islamic architecture.

Brighton pavilion
It’s hard to resist the urge to walk under that arch…

History lessons finished, we ducked into the Brighton Museum…

Brighton Museum
Just by the pavilion is the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

…but we couldn’t spend too long indoors, when outside the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the trees were in bloom.

In the museum, and everywhere we went, I spotted a lot of glorious patterns in everyday objects, which I’m going to post here as well. But I think that can wait until tomorrow, since this is already a galumphingly long post. (Update, you can see them here: a plethora of pattern.)

Just time for one more photo. Because Brighton wouldn’t be Brighton without these:

Brighton seagull
They have no fear, these seagulls. I was standing right next to him and I think I was more wary…

Ta ta till tomorrow. Enjoy the sun.

Related articles:

  • Hardly the same kettle of fish, but you can see my photos of Hong Kong if you feel like an armchair jaunt a bit further afield.

A fiddly little project

Looking for something to do while you watch the TV this evening that’s really fiddly, will make you cross and leave you with an imperfect result?

Excellent! Then I’ve got the perfect thing…

DIY fabric covered buttons
These three buttons at the front are made with some scraps of Liberty fabrics, left over from the quilt I’m making my sister.

I spent last Saturday night watching The Voice (it’s not that good this year, is it?) and swearing throughout my second attempt at making fabric covered buttons.

I only recently discovered that covering buttons with your own choice of fabric was something it was possible to do. When I first came across the little kits you can get, I had what I thought was a Eureka! moment.

Because I want to make my own fabrics, and make things with those fabrics, I’m likely to have leftovers of scraps and small pieces. So, of course, the ability to use them for buttons seemed like the perfect situation. “Why doesn’t everyone do this?” I thought to myself, slightly smugly, marveling at my own genius and brilliance.

Fabric covered buttons
Do you like the formica table my buttons are on? It was in our house when we moved in, used as a kitchen table, but I’ve appropriated it for my craft table now…

So I ordered some of the relevant buttons. And tried to put them together a few weeks ago. No joy. Turned out you need a little stamping tool too. So I ordered that as well and felt convinced I was really on my way to a genius creation.

So, there I was on Saturday, full kit in hand: two parts to the buttons, the button stamping tool, scissors and some scraps of fabric.

In theory, it’s a doddle to put them together. You cut a circle of fabric, centre your button onto it, stick it in the button stamping tool, put the back on, then use the other side of the tool to click it into place. I watched YouTube videos. It was quite clearly going to be ridiculously easy.

Except. I’d bought the smallest size of buttons. (I don’t understand sizes and weights so I never have a clue what’s going to turn up when I order something online, it’s frequently too big or too small. I have a bag of stuffing in the spare bedroom that could probably make about 1,000 soft toys. I was only making one…)

With the smallest size of buttons, everything gets really, really fiddly. You need to have the button centred perfectly onto the fabric, otherwise the fabric will slip out of one side of the button, or the back won’t click into place if you’ve got a bit of excess fabric in another place.

I’m not the most patient person in the world for fiddly work and this made me swear quite a lot.

So I only made seven buttons.

Fabric covered buttons
Buttons buttons buttons

They do look cute from the front though, don’t they?

From the back, as you can see, the fabric isn’t perfectly in place though. Grrrrrrr.

Fabric covered buttons
Urgh, horrible back which didn’t work properly

I’m going to order a bigger size of button now. I’ll let you know if I have better luck.

Related articles

Linking this up at Serenity Now, the Shabby Nest, the Shabby Creek Cottage and Beyond the Picket Fence. Head over to see what others have been up to this week.

Lusting after sheds

One of the things that appealed to us hugely when we bought our new house was the size of the garden.

Countryside dwellers and non-UK readers, look away now (or at least keep your derisive snort of laughter quiet enough so I can’t hear it…) For our garden is a whopping 60ft long. Sure, it’s only 14ft wide, but in London, a 60ft garden is akin to owning a field in other parts.

The garden is also what an estate agent would (and did) call “mature and established” – there are some 65-year-old fruit trees espaliered down one side (the providers of our apple and plum bounty last Autumn) as well as a plethora of rhododendrons, covered in lichen, some slightly past-their-best rose bushes, a pond that seems to offer forth a never-ending supply of dead frogs and the biggest greenhouse known to man.

Some of these features I love; some I need to work with; some I plan to pull out and replace.

It’s a pretty straightforward vista at the moment: long and narrow, with a central path, central washing line and bare boundary on one side only enhancing its rectangular attributes.

I’m hoping to learn enough on my Wednesday horticulture course to be able to judiciously rearrange the plants to a more naturalistic arrangement.

But, plants schmants, because the plan I simply can’t get out of my head at the moment, is the one to put a shed somewhere either at the end or mid point of the garden. I bloody love sheds. And when I say “shed” I really mean something a bit more implausible like a Romany caravan / beach hut / treehouse…

Here’s a little taster of some of my favourites I’ve seen for sale. I can’t settle on which one I love the most right now. Disclaimer: I won’t be held responsible if you start waking at night, after seeing these pictures, puzzling over whether it’s possible to dismantle a romany caravan in order to take it through your house, or whether a beach hut would really look incongruous in an urban setting.

Rustic treehouse from the treehouse company
Swoon. Photo from the Treehouse company

First up, the rustic treehouse from the Treehouse Company. I’m not entirely sure that it gets any better than this. The roof! The door! The balcony! And most of all: the plants in pots all around it! (Sorry that the photo quality isn’t great though…)

I have a suspicion that this is outrageously expensive, given that there are no prices on the website. But, really, it’d be worth selling all my other possessions in order to have this beauty at the bottom of the garden, wouldn’t it? Who needs clothes, anyway?

John Shields studio
Blue and white shed heaven. Photo from Shields buildings

This is more of a traditional garden shed, though I say that in the way that a diamond is more of a traditional lump of rock.

It’s from John Shields woodwork. Just think of all the amazing things you could make if you had a studio like that in the garden.

Beach hut
Perfect to change into your swimming clothes for a dip in the dead frog pond.
Photo from Keops Log Cabins

I saw this beach hut on the TV programme George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces (still available on 4od, for any UK small space obsessives who missed it). To be honest, I’m a little torn on this one. In one respect, I sort of love its jauntiness. But equally, I think it may just be a little naff.

It’s available from Keops Interlock Log Cabins.

Its big plus point is that it’s self-assembly, so we could easily take the constituent parts through the house and into the garden to build it ourselves. Unlike…

Reading gypsy caravan
For sale from the Gypsy Caravan Company. Imagine the romance of having this in your garden

Yes, I know it’s hugely impractical, but what I really, really want is a Romany caravan in my garden. You can find all sorts of amazing second hand beauties for sale online, like this one from the Gypsy Caravan Company.

I don’t know how we would get it into the garden, I don’t think there’s really space for it, I’m absolutely certain we can’t afford one, but I simply can’t get these gorgeous caravans out of my mind.

When I was growing up, we lived near to Roald Dahl’s house in Great Missenden and I used to love driving past and seeing his caravan at the end of his garden. I feel pretty, one hundred per cent certain that if we were also to have a caravan in our garden, I would use it for writing children’s books that would become so popular we’d easily recoup the absolutely insane amount of money we would have spent buying the caravan. Because that’s how it works, isn’t it? (If you’ve not seen his caravan, check it out on my Pinterest page here: Roald Dahl caravan. It’s incredible…)

Ivy covered shed
Green and clean lines. Photo by John Sutton photography

Finally, and more practically, my most recent discovery is this amazing ivy covered shed studio, from a San Francisco garden. It won an award in 2010 for residential design from the American Society of Landscape Architects and you can read all about it on their website.

Something similar to this would make a great focal point at the end of my garden.

So tell me, dear readers, which should I go for? (And please say the Romany caravan because, in case you hadn’t guessed, that’s my favourite. But my partner is vetoing it because he says it doesn’t belong in a city garden. What’s his favourite, you ask? The beach hut.)

Related articles:

Beetles and fish and lobsters, oh my!

In which I feel some disappointment that my design skills aren’t quite as faultless as I thought…

You know the saying: the work of a budding fabric designer is never done.

Buoyed by the success of my teapot fabric, I went straight back to Spoonflower to experiment with some different designs.

With the teapots, I loved the simplicity of the repeat combined with the more ornate vintage illustration. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I thought to myself. So, I dug out some more of my favourite vintage images and tried them out with a similar layout.

Satisfied with my efforts, I ordered swatches of the 15 new designs I’d tried, all printed out on one giant piece of fabric.

The Spoonflower parcel arrived through through the post last week. I could hardly contain my excitement as I ripped into the (ever beautiful) packaging. And this is how it looks:

Fabric swatch designs
I think this would actually make a really fun play mat…

Firstly, please excuse the lack of ironing before photographing it.

But, I was a bit disappointed with this batch. I’d been really pleased with them looking at them on the computer screen, but once I saw them printed out onto the actual fabric, so many of them didn’t seem to work.

The scales are off in quite a few designs: the images too large or not enough white space between them.

Some of the colours didn’t work as well as I hoped.

Some of the images didn’t look great in fabric form.

And some of them I just couldn’t imagine ever having anything to sew with a fabric with those designs.

Overall, I was just not feeling enough love for this batch to bother heading for the iron…

Now, don’t examine that photo too closely, please, as I will show you some close-ups of the ones that worked a bit better, or which only need minor alterations to look more appealing.

My favourite, over all, is this octopus fabric:

Octopus fabric by Wolves in London

I did it in two different options, blue on white and reversed with white on blue:

Octopus fabric
Like an octopus X-ray

I think these would be amazingly cute as a little pair of baby boy trousers. Or perhaps a sun hat. Or, gender stereotyping aside, a nice summer skirt for a girl…

The octopus image was from the NYPL digital archive from a plate in an 1809 French book about zoology: octopus image.

Next up, these glorious bright red fish managed to cheer me up from my slight doldrums:

Red fish fabric
Is it giving you a headache?

They’re seriously jolly, aren’t they? The fish is a smelt, apparently, and I got the image from the brilliant website Old Book Illustrations: smelt.

Continuing the nautical theme, you might recognise the lobster in this fabric:

Lobster fabric
This lobster always makes me think of Dali

He’s the same one I used to make my lobster necklace. I adore him (he’s from the Graphics Fairy: lobster image here). But, I don’t think this layout has done him many favours. I think I’ll try again, with alternate rows facing in different directions. And maybe a little more white space around him.

Like this little crab (also from Old Book Illustrations):

Crab fabric
Every time I look at this, I just think “crabs” – that’s not ideal, is it?

He looked awful in yellow, as you can see on the left of the picture, but the simple black image is quite appealing to me. But what could anyone possibly make with a fabric covered in crabs? Any ideas?

Finally, a non-nautical fabric, but in a similar theme to the crabs, these little beetles:

Squash bug fabric
Squash bug fabric. Good for Halloween. Good for anything else though?

This is, apparently, a squash bug, which I also found from Old Book Illustrations. I tried him in turquoise as well, but I’m not sure how well that worked.

So a definite mixed bag. If I was marking myself, I think it’d be a C+. Plenty of room for improvement. Back to the drawing board with these.

Counting sheep: the art of sleep

Sleep’s been on my mind a lot recently. I haven’t been getting any. I miss it.

Vintage image child sleeping
This looks like a very nice night to me indeed… I think this image would be lovely printed onto a baby’s sleepsuit as well. Watch this space, I might well get round to it one day…

It’s down to the baby.

I try not to witter on too much about baby things on this blog.

I know how tedious it is to listen to parents of babies tell you every last detail about their sleeping / eating / pooing routine as if this were a topic of conversation that you, too, would find just as enthralling. And you feign interest with an “oh really” and tilt of the head as they tell you how their baby’s pooing face differs from its thinking face, but secretly your brain has switched off long ago and is thinking of all that lovely vodka you can drink as a non-parent, and all those late nights you can enjoy, followed by long, luxurious lie-ins the next day.

So, I won’t bore you with all the baby sleeping details, except to say: he’s not.

But my lack of sleep has led me to think longingly about it and search out these rather gorgeous sleep related prints and products, which I’ll share with you instead of details as to how many times I’ve been up in the night.

Sleep. It’s beautiful, I tell you.

Go to Sleep!

Go to sleep poster
Yes indeed, go to sleep!

I love this Go to Sleep! poster. It’s a Letterpress print, from the Etsy shop Type A Press. I’m all over anything Letterpressed or screen printed at the moment, especially if it uses nice typography. So, really, this couldn’t be more appealing.

(I don’t actually know the song it’s referencing, though. Instead, going round my head is “Go to sleep little baby” as sung in O Brother Where Art Thou? Love that song.)

You can buy it here: Go to Sleep poster.

Japanese Baby Song

Japanese baby song
You didn’t think I’d have a post like this without some vintage images, did you? Of course not, you know me too well for that.

This slightly angry Japanese Baby Song print is from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, one of my favourite places online to lose a couple of hours…

The baby and the mother both look a bit cross to me, but the surrounding illustration is just beautiful.

Sleeping fox cushion

Sleeping fox cushion
I feel sleepy just looking at this pair

Far more relaxing is this sleeping fox cushion from Etsy shop Erinnies. Another delicious shop with loads of lovely screen printed products. If you like this sort of thing as much as I do, I recommend a browse.

You can buy the cushion here: sleeping fox pillow.

Good night, sleep tight poster

Good night, sleep tight poster
Beautiful, isn’t it?

Another hand printed poster from Etsy, this is from the shop Roll & Tumble Press.

I’m not sure which I like more, the poster itself (that is the moon illustration from all my childhood books, I’m sure) or the vintage ephemera styling the front of the photo. Oh, to own that clock!

You can buy the poster, though sadly not the other bits and bobs, from Etsy here: Good night, sleep tight poster.

Rock me to sleep print

Rock me to sleep poster
Play your gentle soothing lullaby again, Mama

I just had to include this vintage poster because I thought it was so hilarious. “Rock me to sleep, Mother.” No wonder the children aren’t sleeping when the mother sits around at the piano like this. I’m sure they’re all up until midnight eating sugar straight from the bag. What a brilliantly chaotic mother this woman appears to be.

Image found again through NYPL digital gallery.

Sleeping dachshund necklace

Sleeping dog necklace
If you feel like something was missing in your life, it was most probably this: a sleeping dachshund necklace

Finally, as someone who thought it was a good idea to make a lobster necklace, this item pleases me deeply. A necklace, with a sleeping dachshund on it, made in bronze. What more is there to say?!

This is by Anna Siivonen, also available from Etsy: sleeping dachshund necklace.

Related articles:

  • I was moaning about my lack of sleep a few weeks ago as well, but using it as an excuse to share some vintage book covers.
  • I’ve got a whole category for vintage images if you’d like to see some more of them.
  • And over on my tutorials page you can see a few projects I’ve made using vintage images.

A new house

Meet Mabel.

Toilet paper doll
Mabel greets you and says she’s pleased to meet you

Mabel scares the crap out of me.

You can see why, can’t you?

scary doll
This look is just absolutely terrifying…

For the last seven months, Mabel has been sitting on top of the cabinet above the sink in my bathroom.  Under her skirts, she’s been keeping her treasured belongings safe:

medicated loo paper
What’s that under your skirt? Oh…

But this morning, I’m taking Mabel off to the charity shop. It’s a momentous occasion and I thought it fitting to photograph her before she goes.

Mabel is the very last remnant of the previous owners still left in my house. (Well, apart from all their decoration, wallpaper, tiles and such like, anyway. Perhaps I should say she is the last possession.)

We moved here last September, to a house that had clearly been someone’s home for a very long time.

On the one hand, it was the perfect opportunity for us. A classic “fixer-upper”.

The house hadn’t been updated for a good while, at least 50 years. There’s no central heating (yes, I know, we picked the absolute worst Winter to go without central heating, with the temperature still at “fricking freezing” even in April), there’s no shower, there’s no dishwasher, there’s nothing, in fact, that you could call a “mod con.”

So we get to start afresh and do it up exactly as we like. It’s a massive project and I love nothing more than a project.

But on the other hand, it’s also quite sad. The couple who lived here before had been here for 65 years. Raised their family here. Watched their children grow up and move out. Filled the house with their possessions. Possessions like Mabel.

When we moved in, the man had just died and we were buying the house from his children. So we said it was fine to leave any furniture, possessions or anything they didn’t want to have to clear out.

We slightly regretted having said that, after we moved all our furniture in and there literally wasn’t enough space for everything.

But over the last seven months, we’ve sorted through things, got rid of bits and pieces, earmarked the things we want to try and keep and find a new home for (well, retain their old home, really) among our own possessions.

And now, Mabel, and her old-fashioned loo roll, are the last things to go.  Sure, we’ve got a phenomenal amount of renovation and work to do still, but once Mabel’s gone that marks the point from which the house holds only our possessions.

Which is nice for us, but the end of the line for the previous inhabitants.

We never knew the family, but I’ve felt as if we’ve got to know them a little. From all the 1950s furniture left here; from the choice of flowers planted in the back garden, and the fruit trees espaliered against the wall; from the pack of photographs we found that had slipped behind a cabinet, showing them sitting in the garden in the summer, surrounded by blooming flowers; from the neighbours who stopped, aghast, to tell me off when we cut down the giant cactus in the front garden; from the stories they told about how the man used to give miniature cactus plant cuttings to the local school children; from the floral wallpapers, a different one in every room and the rolls of spares we found in the attic.

I’d like to think that we’ll be here that long as well, a fixture in the community at the ends of our lives, our children reluctantly selling our house and the neighbours reminiscing fondly about us. But, you know what, I suspect it’s unlikely. We’ll probably move on in a few years, tempted by the lure of the countryside or a bigger house or the chance to live abroad…

So goodbye Mabel, may the charity shop treat you well.

Charity shop pile
Mabel in the charity shop pile by the door. Also, a little peek of one (just one) of our many floral wallpapers

And may you find a new home among people who don’t think you’re half as creepy as I do.

A bundle of bibs

Remember when I made the little sproglet a set of carrot clothes in celebration of National Carrot Day a few months ago? And how I broke my sewing machine making the first of four planned bibs?

Homemade vegetable baby bibs
Cabbages and courgettes, carrots and toadstools, helping your baby learn his veggies since 2013…

Well, the breakage turned out to be terminal, which was sad for my machine, but quite delightful for me as it gave me the excuse to buy myself a new one. (Footnote 1)

And, oh my god, do I love my new machine.

It’s a Janome DC3050 (recommended to me by Laura, blogger and photographer extraordinaire from Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows and Circle of Pine Trees). And, oh, the things it can do!

[If you’re already up with the latest sewing machine capabilities then please excuse me while I share my wonder at a newfangledness you already know about. You might want to meet me a few paragraphs down right about where the next photo is…] [For extra clarification by “latest” I probably mean as recently as just post invention of the loom.]

But, for those who are still here: it has auto tension! It has a thread cutter! It has computerised settings! It can sew a button hole for me! (This I’ve not yet tested, but I am imagining myself going downstairs to put the kettle on, while my lovely new sewing machine makes the button hole, and perhaps finishes off the rest of the garment for me, while I’m gone…) It has more stitches than I even knew existed, let alone have a clue how to use! And, perhaps least excitingly as a function, but best for my sewing, it has speed settings.

Sewing machine
My sewing machine in action. What a handsome beast! (I’m not actually sewing the bibs in this photo, though, but the egg cosies I made before Easter from the Liberty fabric I got from Mollie Makes.)

Speed settings have made sewing a curve a whole new experience. I whack the machine onto slow and find I can sew the most stunning curves you’ve ever seen. Turned out, all it took for my sewing skills to improve was to stop trying to go at the fastest speed imaginable, but just take my time to actually sew well instead. Hooda thunk?

So, now I have this wonderful new machine, I’m picking up the big unfinished sewing pile. It’s got various things for other people in it. Big things. Like a quilt that was for my sister for Christmas. And a first birthday present for a friend we visited in Ireland three weeks ago.

So, of course, the first thing I attempted was by far the least pressing: the incomplete bibs.

I’m working on getting my bib pattern into pdf form (footnote 2) so I can write it up here with a tutorial, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a few pictures of the seven bibs I’ve made.

I did three in some nice colourful fabrics.

Homemade tortoise baby bib
Lovely tortoises all over the bib

The tortoise fabric is called Tortoise Grass and is by Urban Zoologie. I think this is my favourite bib. There’s something about the fabric design that just works well in bib form.

Homemade Very Hungry Caterpillar bib
“On Saturday he ate through…”

The ever-appealing Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric is by Andover fabrics. It’s stocked in various places (I have a feeling I bought mine from eBay, but it was a while ago, so I can’t be sure…)

Homemade baby bib
Snails and trees and owls, oh my!

This rather gorgeous fabric with trees and snails is from Critter Community and is called Bermuda (I think that’s the right way round. It might be called Critter Community and be from the Bermuda collection perhaps). Whichever, it’s by Robert Kaufman fabrics.

The other four bibs were made from an old white shirt, with images ironed onto the front. (If you want to know more about doing this, check out my tutorial for ironing printed images to fabric…)

Homemade cabbage baby bib
Of cabbages and kings

I think this cabbage is my favourite of these bibs. The image is from Clip Art etc: cabbage image.

Homemade carrot baby bib
A carrot top for my carrot top (ha ha, that’s a brilliant joke that you’d have adored if I’d told you in advance that my baby is ginger…)

The carrots (as I mentioned last time) are from the Graphics Fairy, here: carrot image.

Homemade courgette bib
Lovely courgettes

The courgettes are also from the Graphics Fairy: courgette image. Though, I have to say, I think this image works least well on the bibs: the shape just seems wrong with the bib shape. It’d be great used as a pickling label as suggested though…

Homemade mushroom baby bib
It just needs a little gnome sitting on top to complete the whole look

And the little red mushroom is as well: mushroom image.

So, seven extra bibs should see us through, ooooh, an extra day and a half before we have to run the washing machine. Now it’s onto the important stuff. Next stop the first birthday present…

Footnote 1: Don’t feel too sad for my broken, unloved machine though. It went to a new home through Freecycle, probably to someone who will love and nurture it back to life and then treat it far better than I ever did.

Footnote 2: For “working on” read instead “asking my boyfriend to sort it out for me…”

Related articles

I’m linking this project up at I heart naptime, Serenity Now, the Shabby Nest, the Shabby Creek Cottage, Beyond the Picket Fence and Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy. Head over to see what others have made this week.