Poppy and Blossom

I’m not going to write much today, just show you how I make my Koala stuffed toys, step by step. You can then have a go yourself, or if you can’t be bothered and desperately want one, you can buy them here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WinterOwls.

To start with, you’ll need some wool fabric, I get mine by upcycling vintage pure wool blankets after throwing them through a hot cycle in the washing machine. You’ll also need some stuffing. When I first started making toys, I used polyester fill, but now I’m using clean washed Merino fleece. It’s eco friendly, but it is more expensive and a little harder to use as stuffing. It tends to jump out of where it has been placed! As well as fabric and stuffing you’ll need some embroidery thread for little details and something fluffy ear like. In the past I’ve used Jumpers, shawls or the fringe of mohair blankets for luxurious ears.

I sew the main outline with a sewing machine, but you could sew up the whole thing by hand easily. I then close the stuffing gap by hand and outline the arms with embroidery thread, once the body has been machine stitched.

You can also gather little scraps of other fabrics, lace or doilies if you want to add accessories to your koalas. Go wild, they love dressing up!

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First cut out your bodies, front and back. Just draw a simple outline and cut around it.

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Choose your front and embroider eyes and mouth. I have sewn on a nose but you can do whatever you like. Hand stitch on any accessories such as collars, buttons, pants etc. Note that here, I’ve shown the front of Poppy and Blossom.

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Next tack on the ears to the front side facing in towards each other and then flip them, so they are facing outwards and you can see what they will look like. I hope that makes sense! You will need to flip them back in, before you sew the two halves together. (They will be covering the eyes when flipped back in)

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Pin the back and front together with the right sides facing inwards. Make sure those ears are tucked in well. Sew around the outside about 1/2 cm in from the edge leaving a 3 cm gap where you would like to put your stuffing in.

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Now turn your koala right side out and remove the tacking from the ears. Use a spoon, chopstick or whatever you have handy to put the stuffing in a bit at a time. When you are happy, hand sew up the opening.

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I like to whip stitch the ears to the head for extra stability and I top stitch the arms to define them, but you don’t have to.

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Finally, make yourself and your koalas Poppy and Blossom, a nice cup of tea. You deserve it.

Eco friendly lantern

At this time of year it’s easy to overspend, perhaps we don’t have anything to spend, or we just want to reuse, rather than add to the clutter in the world. Here is a very quick and easy candle holder to make, that addresses the points above.

All you need is a clean glass jar with the label removed, a paper doily, a piece of wire if you wish to hang your candle, some Mod Podge and a tealight candle.

Simply cut the paper doily in half, paste the Mod Podge on the jar, and place the doily on top, one half on each side of the jar. I chose to put the cut half on the bottom of the jar. Then paste more Mod Podge over the doily. If you want a handle, wrap a piece of wire around the top of the jar and then curve a second piece of wire, put a small loop in each end and attach to the wire already on the jar. And it’s done!

If you don’t have paper doilies you could also use an old book page, tissue paper, or newspaper and make cut outs too. PVA glue can also be used as an alternative to Mod Podge.

Safety warning; the wire handle will get hot when the candle is lit. Somebody, who shall remain nameless, picked up the candle by the handle during the photo shoot and burned her hand…

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The unfortunate stain

Our lovely family Christmas went for three days. We started on Christmas Eve with carols and dinner with my Stepmother and Father. It was a lovely evening but I think our singing, with the exception of our Stepmother, left a lot to be desired. As she teaches singing I think she may have needed a lie down after that experience! On Christmas Day, lunch was spent with my sisters, Mum, Stepfather and little nephews. A lovely feast. On Boxing Day everyone from my husband’s family came to our house for lunch. There were nineteen of us so thankfully the weather was kind and we could eat outside. Lots of eating, laughing and sharing of gifts.

For the last few days we have had no commitments, which has been lovely after the busyness of Christmas. Finally I have had time to do a little craft project that needed doing. On my grey cardigan, in an obvious spot, I splashed coffee on it the second time I wore it. And of course, it stained.

Deciding to rescue it from my gardening clothes pile, I tried out various colours and arrangements of vintage buttons. I liked them all really but ended up choosing a  pastel selection which reminded me of colours popular in the 1950’s. Then I used some embroidery thread and sewed a simple running stitch in a circular pattern. I didn’t try to make the stitches exactly the same size as I wanted it to look hand rather than machine made. The final result looks like a brooch and best of all, no stain. Hopefully, I won’t add further stains to this cardigan as I think there probably is such as thing as too many buttons, but then again, some of you may disagree!

The unfortunate stain

The unfortunate stain

Grey buttons

Grey buttons

A colourful mix

A colourful mix

Blue vintage buttons

The choice made

The choice made

All stitched up

cardigan full shot watermarked

The stain vanquished

Christmas lemons

My Dad says he has everything he needs so he likes to receive edible gifts. For his birthday I made him some lemon butter. My elder son watched longingly as the mixture filled the jar perfectly. So sad, nothing left for him to eat. I promised I would make more soon, so today I fulfilled my promise.

Christmas Day will consist of a large lunch with family, so it will be nice to start the day with a light breakfast of crunchy toast spread with lemon butter and a cup of tea. My lemons have been unusually large this year, I don’t know why, it’s a mystery. A friend described them as radioactive lemons. I hope not!

One of these lemons provided 100 ml of juice, just enough to make a large jar of lemon butter. If you would like to make some you will need:

1 large or 2 small sterilised jars ( I used a recycled jam jar with a pretty lid)

100 ml of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup castor sugar

60 gm butter

Combine the egg yolks and sugar with a whisk and pour into a non-reactive saucepan. Add the lemon zest, juice and butter. Over a medium heat, bring the mixture just to a simmer whilst stirring constantly and then remove from heat. Let cool and spoon into one large or two small sterilised jars. Keep in the fridge for up to one month.

Tip: make sure you don’t  add any of the egg white to the mixture or your lemon butter will have white streaks like mine did the first time I made it (a bit like scrambled eggs)!

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When life gives you lemons

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Radioactive lemons?

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Keep stirring!

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Use a jar with a pretty lid

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Mmmmm

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Or make a pretty cover ( I cheated, I found a pretty vintage piece of linen)

Lemon tea

Tea with lemon

Gran's cup

Gran’s cup

Christmas garland

Yesterday in Melbourne it was hot and sticky.  A perfect day for staying inside and making a quick Christmas garland. We certainly won’t be having real snowflakes here for Christmas so I thought the doily shapes I cut out were a good alternative. I love red and white for Christmas, it’s just so festive. Here’s how I made it if you want to make one too!

You will need:

Old buttons (with reasonably large holes)

An old doily or scraps from one

A few old book or music pages

Embroidery thread, wool or string

A large needle with a big eye

Scissors

First of all cut star shapes from an old book or music pages (mine came from a Mills and Boon book “Outlaw Heart”), not Christmassy but something I didn’t mind chopping up!

Next gather buttons of different sizes but make sure they have big holes so you can thread them easily.

Cut up an old doily (this is a good way to use up a stained one).

Choose your thread for stringing (initially I was going to use Jute or kitchen twine, but my needle eye was too small so I chose red embroidery thread).

Cut your thread longer than you want your finished garland to be so you can tie a knot at one end and/or make loops to hang it by.

Lay out your buttons, paper stars and doily snowflakes in a row until you are pleased with your design and then tie a knot or loop at one end.

Simply thread through buttons, and stitch through doily and star pieces with a little space in between each one. Tie a knot at the end and make a loop if you want one.

Hang up and enjoy your up cycled Christmas Garland!

red plate

Vintage buttons and doily pieces

Christmas doily

Christmas doily

stars watermarked

Don’t look too closely at the text!!!

red buttons watermarked

Red vintage buttons

close up

Threaded up

close up star

Detail

christmas garland

Completed Garland

light

Light up your Christmas

The button hoarder

I have a large glass jar filled to the top with buttons, most of them garnered from charity shops. Some of them are beautiful old Bakelite, glass or simply taken from yesterdays holey clothes. Occasionally, I have been blessed with someone’s old button tin. I don’t want to become a button hoarder, though I perhaps, already am one. I do use them sometimes, I promise.

I love rummaging around in the jar, imagining all the possibilities for these little treasures. A bit like a miser with coins I suppose! All sorts of wonderful things have been created using old buttons. I thought it might be nice to share a very simple necklace I made from some of my collection.

You can easily make one of these necklaces yourself. All you need is a supply of pretty buttons with reasonably  large holes so you can thread them with out too much difficulty.

I layered my buttons in stacks of three, a larger one in the middle and two smaller ones on the outsides so your necklace looks lovely which ever way it hangs. If you have buttons which look lovely from both sides you may not need to layer them, but I quite like the layered look.

Organise the buttons first so you can see how it will look when finished and lay them in a row in the order you want to thread them. To thread the buttons you could use cotton or silk cord, string or anything else you like that will fit through the button holes.

Measure how long you want your necklace and then add some extra length so that you will have enough length to tie a knot and remember that threading through the layered buttons will take up some of the length of the cord. I can’t tell you exactly how much extra length you will need, but remember you can always cut it shorter, but you can’t make it longer! Also, don’t forget that you will need to make it long enough to fit over your head unless you are clever enough to put a clasp on it, so measure generously.

When the necklace is complete, you can add a small dob of glue to the knot so it can’t come undone. I used PVA which dries clear.

This is the first “how to” I have written so my apologies if it is difficult to understand. I have included lots of photos so they will hopefully make things clearer!

Vintage button necklace

Vintage button necklace

Shell and glass vintage buttons

Vintage buttons

Lovely vintage clear button and red flower

Vintage buttons

Shell and clear buttons

Vintage buttons

The finished product