Woodland Christmas ornaments

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

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

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

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

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!


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

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


  • 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

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

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

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.


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.

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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.

Christmas knitting

The last few weeks in the run up to Christmas were filled with hectic present making. I ask you, what sort of moron decides it’s a good idea to make Christmas presents for every member of their family, when they have a four-month-old baby and a partner who is working late every evening? Oh. This sort of moron, it seems.

My Christmas good cheer was a little lacking, it has to be said, in the face of the crazed present making attempts. I would have thrown in the towel half way through, except I thought the people who landed homemade presents would be jealous of the people who got bought presents that would have been nicer.

Anyway, as is so often the case, despite despair during the making stage, I was pretty pleased with the end results once it was all finished.

Next year, though, I plan to avoid the late nights, strops at the sewing machine, cricks in the back, callouses on the fingers and general Grinch-like mood that started to appear when I realised I simply couldn’t finish everything on time, by saving the homemade presents for birthdays, so I just need to make something for one person at a time.

(I had briefly flirted with the idea of starting straightaway on next Christmas this January and trying to make one present a month in 2013 so I had a big stash by December time. Then I realised I didn’t want to be that person…)

All that said, I was pretty chuffed with the actual results of most of the presents I made, so I thought I’d share some details, photos and tutorials here over the next few weeks.

To begin with, a few pictures of my favourite part: the Christmas knitting. Ah, I love a bit of knitting and managed to rustle up three knitted presents that were finished on time. (Though there is a final one still on the needles.)

There must be something about Christmas and cabling that go together in my subconscious because I realise now that all of these are cabled patterns. What can I say? Snug and toasty always appeals in December.

If you like the look of these, I’ve put links to my Ravelry project pages for more information, as well as links direct to the patterns.

Hot water bottle cosy

Knitted hot water bottle cosyI am most delighted with this little cutie from all my festive knitting. Simple cable pattern and I tied a white ribbon on the top as well (but didn’t photograph that for some reason). It knit up really quickly and looked nice and professional by the time it was finished. Though there is often a pleasing “homemade” look when something is, erm, homemade, I do like things to look as if you could buy them in the shops as well. Or at least, not like they could have been made by a five-year-old. This definitely passed both those tests.

If you fancy trying out a hot water bottle cover, I did make a few modifications to the written pattern, see my Ravelry hot water bottle cosy page for more info.

The pattern is available for free on Ravelry and is by Christiana.

“Bella’s mittens” for my sister

Bella's mittens knit by Wolves in London
There was another one, of course, but my other hand was busy taking the photo

I thought these mittens were quite awesome and should keep my sister’s hands warm when she’s out walking her dog. I hadn’t seen the sort of horseshoe cable pattern before but loved the end result. The wool isn’t the most glamorous (it’s quite a cheap acrylic one that I’d had in my stash for a while as I was trying not to buy any new yarn for these presents) but the colour is lovely and quite heritagey and it’ll be easy to wash too. Oh and I’d made her a teapot cosy in the same wool a few years ago, so as an added bonus she can be matching to her tea cosy, ha ha. Always essential.

More pics on my Ravelry Bella’s mittens page. The pattern is available for free and is by Marielle Henault.

I’d had this pattern saved in my Ravelry queue for quite a while now (and mentioned it as one of my planned projects to make in my Top 20 tutorials for Christmas presents) so I was delighted these turned out so well.

Cabled hat for my other (soon-to-be) sister-in-law

Slouchy cable hat
A little snap of me modelling the cable hat

I knit this cabled slouchy hat in a nice aran weight wool in a sort of sea blue colour, picked up at my local wool shop.  (Incidentally, when I say “sea blue” I mean UK sea blue, not tropical sea blue. It’s a lovely deep grey-blue that looks like it could sit moodily at the bottom of some English cliffs.) The colour is stunning, but I did actually mess up the cables a bit, so they’re not quite in the right places. That’ll teach me not to bother to look at the pattern after the first repeat. I’m not overwhelmingly happy with it, as a result, but I didn’t have time to frog and re-knit. This was definitely my biggest knit disappointment, as I’d spent a while trying to choose the perfect pattern and the perfect yarn, only to knit in a far from perfect way. Sigh.

More info on my Ravelry page for this Star crossed slouchy beret and again this pattern by Natalie Larson is available for free on Ravelry.

Man present: homemade paperweights

It turns out, it’s really simple to make your own paperweights. Or, more accurately, it’s really simple to insert your own pictures into some pre-made paperweights for a brilliant personalised present. I always struggle to come up with good homemade presents for men, so this is particularly pleasing as you can put in any images you want and personalise it for whoever you’re giving it to…

I first tried this for my partner’s birthday and I was really pleased with the results. As was he. So pleased, that we decided to make some more for Christmas presents.

It’s a really simple and quick process, but I thought I’d share a quick tutorial, anyway, in the hope it might inspire someone out there somewhere across the online ether…

Homemade paperweight tutorialHere’s what you need and how to do it:


  • Glass paperweights with a recess. I’ve used these 70mm round paperweights, which are the best value ones I can find online in the UK.
  • Some graphics (or photos). I am crazy on free vintage graphics at the moment and my favourite sites to find them are The Graphics Fairy, Clip Art ETC, Vintage Printable and the NY Public Library digital archives. Warning: you could lose hours of your day browsing these sites. For this set of paperweights, I’ve used some old scientific images (found on Clip Art ETC) which show the life cycle of the asparagus beetle. Love the images, love the title even more…
  • Printer
  • Scissors

What to do

1. Unpackage your paperweight kit, which will have three parts: the glass paperweight with recess, a green bit of felt with sticky back and a cardboard circle. Check whether the cardboard circle provided fits the recess perfectly. If it does, brilliant, you can use this to draw an outline for your image. But, I’ve found with most of the kits I’ve used that the circle is either marginally too small or too big. If this is the case, draw a circle round the recess under the paperweight for the exact size you will want your image to be.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
All the pieces from the paperweight kit, shiny and new and ready to be assembled

2. Print out your image onto some scrap paper. Position a paperweight over the top to check whether the image is the right size. At this point, you will probably need to re-size the images a bit to make them perfect.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
Paperweight positioned over trial image. I realise this photo isn’t the ideal illustration here as the image is actually a perfect fit, but you catch my point anyway. If it doesn’t fit so perfectly, re-size until it does…

3. Once you’ve got it just how you want it, make a final print onto some good paper.

4. Cut round the image carefully and put it inside the recess, facing outwards.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
Paperweight plus image

5. The circle of card goes on next, with the felt on top. As mentioned, the card might not be a perfect fit, so if it’s too big trim to size and put it in. If it’s too small, try and position it in the centre of the recess, but don’t worry too much, once the felt goes on top it holds it all in place. (I’m sure you weren’t worrying that much, anyway, it’s hardly a catastrophe to have a slightly small piece of card.)

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
All lined up

6. Check, from the front, that everything is lined up as it should. All being well, peel off the back of the green felt…

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
Peeling back the felt

7 …and stick it on.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
Almost there, can you take the excitement?

8. Tadaaaa, all finished:

Homemade paperweights tutorial from Wolves in London
Finished paperweight with picture in place. I’m not sure whether this part of the life cycle is the death part and that’s why the beetle is on his back, or whether this is just illustrating his underside for fun.

If you get the same kits that I did, they also come with quite a nice box to put the paperweights inside. I am all about presentation at the moment, so I love a rather swanky looking red box to display the finished product.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
Looking all swanky and professional, my asparagus beetle paperweight lies nestled in his red box

I even made a nice little label to set off the red box, using the free vintage labels from the World Label blog.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
Great label. Even if I do say so myself

And here’s the full set, from the start of the life cycle to the end:

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London
A to E, the whole life cycle of my new favourite beetle in paperweight form

If you have a go at making some, do post a comment and let me know how you get on and, most importantly, what excellent images you find to put inside…

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