20 December 2014

Christmas wreath from your garden

A very quick post from me to show you how you can make your own inexpensive Christmas wreath from your very own garden (or the local park if you don't have a garden).

I think I got this idea handed down to me from my mum who I always remember doing this every Christmas. Ever since having my own home I have just always done the same thing and never really thought about doing anything different. She even had to send me pictures of hers this year in order to make me get round to this! Baby has not really given me much time to think about anything for the last 10 days.

The only thing you really need to make this wreath is a wreath form of some sort. Now you can use an oasis wreath which will keep your foliage fresh, but I have always found that it stays fresh for long enough without, and if you use an oasis one you will need to replace every year. My alternative is to use this fake berry wreath which I bought many years ago. The advantage here is I don't have any berries in my garden so it adds some colour, but you can also use willow wreaths or anything else you find in the sales after Christmas which you can re-use year after year.

Now all you need to do is go out into your garden with a pair of snippers or scissors and find yourself some appropriate Christmas foliage. My personal favourites are conifer (like real Christmas trees), ivy (especially if you can get some white and green variegated) and holly, though of course be careful with the holly as it will be sharp, you may need gloves to handle. Essentially you are looking for anything that is still green at this time of year.

Once you have gathered lots of this luscious greenery bring it into the house and start to feed it into your wreath following a directional pattern. I find that this stays in without having to be tied at all as long as you push it into the form far enough. Keep going until your wreath looks lovely and full and there are no gaps.

If you have managed to find something with berries then great, if not you might want to think about tying a couple of baubles on by wrapping wire around the section which you hang on the tree and tying it to the wreath. If you wish, you can add some battery powered fairy lights to the wreath by wrapping them around. You will need to secure the battery pack to the back, but you can do this with wire, or tuck it behind the ribbon used for stringing.

Finally loop a piece of ribbon around your wreath and hang it from your door so everyone can marvel in your festive cheer. 


15 December 2014

Felt Christmas Wreath

Christmas is definitely my most favourite time of the year and I love it when its time to decorate the house. I am one of these people who has to have the Christmas tree near the telly, and often find myself staring at it instead of whatever I am supposed to be watching. I am one of those people who gets excited early and its never too early to start making mince pies or watch Christmas movies.I think the build up to it is just as much fun, if not more than the day itself. I think its just all the family, friends, warmth, nice food etc. I love it all!

Most of our decorations are purchased (some handcrafted though) but one thing I do like to do is make a wreath. If you have had a nose around the blog you might have come across my wedding bouquets which I made using felt. I really loved these and its so nice to still have it to keep. Ever since making them I had an idea to try and make a wreath for Christmas in a similar way but using more Christmas themed colours.

The wreath itself is a polystyrene mold which you can get from anywhere on the net, I think mine was from amazon. And the flowers are made using this technique (youtube link). I hope you like it. I think it is a great little adaptation of the bouquets. Now I just need to think about what other applications I can apply it too!

I hope you are all ready and prepared for Christmas. Do you have any DIY traditions which you would like to share?


12 December 2014

Make your own gift tags using left over wrapping paper

As I said in my previous post, gift tags are expensive! Well here is my very quick tutorial on how to make your own using left over bits of your very own wrapping paper.

Scraps of wrapping paper
Card (plain white is best but feel free to use a cereal box etc)
Glue - spray mount glue works best, but PVA/Modge Podge will suffice
Hole Punch
String/ribbon/yarn etc

Take your piece of card and put your left over wrapping paper over the top. If you are using one piece of paper to cover the whole piece of card then perfect, if not then just lay the scraps down onto the card as neatly as possible to cover as much of the card as possible. For information I have used some of the free papers from one of the Christmas issues of Mollie Makes. They make perfect paper for this little project.

Glue the paper to the card using glue.

Once it has dried using your scissors cut out some nice tag shaped labels out of the card. You can think about using the pattern on the paper to make shapes if you fancy.

Using the hole punch make a hole in one end of the tag and thread through your ribbon.

Ta Da! Gift tags without the extra price tag!

Enjoy, and never feel like you need to be ripped off to have matching gift tags ever again!


8 December 2014

Make your own gift tags - Scandi lino printed tags

I have a real problem with gift tags. They cost a fortune if you want nice ones and you need about 20 packets if your family are anything like mine and wrap EVERYTHING. They are something I never buy when I buy gift wrap because they are so expensive, but then if you don't buy tags you either don't know what belongs to who, or you have to write on the present which just isn't pretty. In that vein I always end up making my own. Mostly just pieces of card with a hole in, but this year we are getting more inventive! 

So using my new found lino cutting skills I designed and made these scandi inspired Christmas tree tags. If you want to have a go at these yourself you just need some lino cutting supplies:
Lino cutting tool
Lino block
Block printing ink
Piece of glass
A spoon or something similar
Some plain card
Hole punch

So all you need to do is draw up your design of choice. Have a look on the internet (or dare I say it... Pinterest) for a bit of inspiration. Think Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes or something much more complicated if you prefer. Then using the lino cutting tools cut out the design. You will need to think in reverse, remember, anything you cut away will be the same colour as the paper and anything you leave raised will be printed in the colour.

Once this is done put some of the ink on your piece of glass, roll it around a bit with the roller and add some ink to the block. Place the block upside down on your piece of card and apply pressure with the back of the spoon (I used scissor handles). Once you are happy you have rubbed over the image remove the block from the card and you should have a pretty little print. Just repeat the print over and over on the card to make many labels. Once they are dry, cut them out, punch a hole and thread your string. It really is that simple.

Or.... if you want to do this at home, and don't want too complicated a design, use a potato and some poster paint! Works just as well, you just won't get to keep your block for next year but is much more accessible for younger hands.

I hope this has inspired you to have a go at making some of your own gift tags instead of spending a fortune on the shop bought ones. Your imagination really is your only limit. I will have a new quick post of Friday to tell you how you can make your own gift tags to match your wrapping paper and very little extra expense. We can't complain at that now can we, I like the idea of thrifting a little at Christmas so you can spend a bit more time on the important things.

5 December 2014

Adventures in Lino Printing - A Christmas Lino Print Workshop

As you may or may not be aware we are now at 38 weeks so this little man is going to make his mark any day now, scary or what! The problem is that I am, to be honest, completely knackared. This means that I am mostly sitting on the sofa under a blanket and a cat and not getting up. Nice for me yes, bad for getting all the things that are in my head done! But despite my lack of ability to move I actually have a few festive type blog posts to write up which is exciting, so expect a little bit of a flurry from me in the next couple of weeks, followed by what will likely be a complete silence for a while as we adjust to our new lives.

So following on from the lino printed baby grow... which wasn't a complete success, I went on a lino cutting Christmas workshop with a friend. Neither of us really needed to do this workshop, its something we have both done before, but it was a nice excuse to get out the house and do something a bit out of the ordinary. I also wanted to have a go at using the new type lino printing blocks, and some proper ink before I dived in and bought myself any more supplies.

The workshop was great and was run by Leanne Narewski who does some lovely prints. We all sat down for two hours, drew up a design, cut out the print and then made either some cards or some print pictures. It was incredible how well everyone's turned out, even for people with little or no experience. Each one was completely unique but just worked so perfectly, I wish I could find a link to show you pictures of more peoples work (you can see my friends on her facebook artist page). Ellen (who you should know by now as my boss) came along with another colleague from work as well and their prints were also gorgeous. I am secretly hoping she is reading this and will post you a picture in the comments!!

So I have now purchased a few more lino cutting supplies so I can make proper Christmas cards with my print block once they all arrive. I have also been making up some gift tags so will show these off to you in a couple of days.

In the grand scheme of things this is actually quiet a cheap hobby to take up, the supplies are really not that expensive to set up. The real issue I had was the cost of the ink, as you want more than one colour, but the bottles are actually huge, and you only need a really small amount so at the end of the day it doesn't end up costing the earth, as long as you are sensible about your colour choices.

I hope you like my little festive bears, I think he is adorable and I love how he can have either a hat or a crown depending on his mood! The hat is a separate mini block so this can be printed in any colour and added after the original print is dry.  

Below is one of Ellen's prints, see how different it is to mine, but still looks amazing! 

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