Friday, 9 November 2012

Make do and mend... bringing black jeans back to life

After watching Kirstie's new series "Vintage Home" and realising that I do a reasonable amount of "making and mending" I thought I would share with you my tips and tricks for making things go a little bit further and lasting a little bit longer !

So, the inspiration for my first post came from the fact that my sister had asked me to re-dye her black jeans, something I have been doing to my own jeans for quite some time, as I'm sure many of you will know, a good pair of jeans can be hard to come by.

To do this, you can either dye by hand (messy!) or dye by washing machine (much easier and I have never had a problem so far with the colour staying around and ruining my other clothes).  This is what the jeans looked like before... a lovely faded shade of black...

You then take some Dylon Wash and Dye (available from large supermarkets or general "sell just about everything stores").  They do a whole range of colours to suit your needs, for this project I bought velvet black"

Then basically, in a nut shell the instructions are:

  1. Clear washing machine of any lint/fluff etc
  2. Add the dye to the washing machine followed by dry garment (for intense colour change like this one, only put one item in, the more items you add the less dye there is per garment)
  3. Set washing machine to 40 degree wash without any detergent or fabric softener in
  4. Once cycle has finished, wash with usual detergent and softener for another 40 degree wash (obviously check instructions fully for garments that can't be washed at 40)
  5. Dry the garment on an airir or line, don't tumble dry
  6. Clean the washing machine by running another 40 degree cycle without detergent before using it for your normal laundry.

And this was the finished result...

Not bad, £6 for the dye to revive a sad grey pair of jeans into almost new, much cheaper than buying new jeans!

Until next time...

Amanda xx

Mexican Hot Chocolate...... yummy!!

As the nights (and days) are getting colder I realised it was that time of year again to make a big batch of Mexican hot chocolate.  After making it, I thought I should share it with you all as it truly does warm you up....

As I don't have a food processor of my own I asked my lovely Mum if I could borrow hers as grating chocolate by hand takes a loooooong time!  So I've made her a little jar of it as a thank you (will be giving it to her tomorrow).

So here's the recipe for making 2 yummy cups of hot chocolate:

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 125g of dark chocolate (or a mix of dark and milk like I did) - finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Heat the milk and sugar, when sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat
  • Add in the chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne pepper until the chocolate has melted
  • Bring back up to a simmer for 3 minutes
  • Sieve mixture before pouring into pre-heated cups
  • Enjoy!

If you want to make a bulk batch for yourself or as presents then all you do is scale up the measurements of the chocolate, sugar and cinnamon and add to jars and decorate. 

Don't add the cayenne pepper until you make it as it gets lost in all of the ingredients and you don't get that kick.  Also, don't add the vanilla essence to the bulk mix as it just makes it wet.  So you can either buy these to go with your hot chocolate gift or leave it if you know that your recipient has a well stocked spice and baking cupboard! 

Finally, add the method for making to the jar and voila..... Yummy Mexican hot chocolate

Until next time...

Amanda xx

Thursday, 30 August 2012

All things photography...

Hello again!

I know this is my craft blog, but I wanted to talk a bit about photography... As some of you may already know, photography is a passion of mine, something I share with H2B.  Because of this we have set up a facebook page where we can share our favourite pictures, a sort of online portfolio but not as formal! 

I'd love for you all to have a wonder over and have a look, we will be continually adding pictures to it as we grow our "portfolio" and experience.  To keep it simple we've called it "Photography by Amanda and James"

Here's a sneak peek of some of the pictures we've added so far....

So as you can see, a mix of photos!

We'll also be starting up the photography challenge submissions again as we let that one slide a little bit.

Until next time...

Amanda xx

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A crafty bank holiday

Hello all,

So I hope you all had a great bank holiday weekend, I am loving the fact that it's already half way through the week and that it's now nearly the weekend :) 

Our weekend was spent with old friends and started with a damp but fun BBQ (what did we expect?!  No one books a BBQ for bank hol weekend, it is destined to rain!!)  However, on Sunday I had a go at some new crafts with "K" whilst the boys played golf.  Here's what we tried:

Book binding

Using some very detailed (and a tad confusing at times) instructions from Pinterest we created a hand bound fabric covered notepad each using some very pretty fabric I picked up in the Liberty's off cuts bin (love that place!) and decorated the outside

I have to admint, not bad for a first attempt... look forward to making more!

Glass engraving

After seeing a post by a fellow blogger The Pea Pod on glass engraved tea light holders I just had to give it a go and after seeing her designs thought it would be great if I could make 40 for our wedding next year (hmmmm!)

So I purchased an engraver and attempted my first "simple" dandelion design.  NB - need to buy some safety specs!!  This is the result.....

I think need I need to practice first before I attempt the more complicated designs for the wedding.

But anyway, it was good fun and kick started me back into trying new crafts and look forward to whatever I try next.

What crafts have you tried or shall I try next?!  Answers below greatly appreciated!!

Until next time...

Amanda xx

Buy Handmade Gifts..... for Weddings

I know it's drawing to the end of the summer wedding season, but I have come across so many great handmade gifts for weddings I just had to share them!

Button guest tree by Button Junction - £35 

"His and Hers" foot pegs by Jigsaw Wooden Products - £14

Pair of eartheware clay magnets by Wotnot Pig Ceramics - £10

Personalised Mouse Doorstop by Velvet Paws - £18

Antique Dictionairy Bespoke Art by Wall Envy Art - £25.75

Bridal Charm by Betty's Glamour Box - £25

Personalised "Penguins in Love" by Pen and Stitch - £22

Bespoke Wooden Map Letters by Bombus - £13

Personalised Wedding Slate by Letterfest Engraving - £14

Alphabet Wine Bottle Stopper by Letteroom - £13.95 (per letter)

There are loads of gorgeous gifts out there, but these are the ones that caught my eye! 

Until next time...

Amanda xx

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cushion Covers

Hello All,

Hope you've all been enjoying the sunshine!  I took a break from over heating to do something I have been meaning to for AGES......  make new cushion covers.  So I decided while I was making them to photograph what I was doing and create a step by step guide.

This is to make a 56cm square envelope cushion cover with the front fabric being different to the back.....

What you need:

- 58cm x 58cm of front fabric (upholstry fabric was used)
- Two pieces of back fabric (thick cotton/poly blend was used) measuring 58cm x 41 cm
- Pins
- Tailors chalk or pencil
- Tape measure
- Matching thread
- Cushion pad
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing machine (or you can hand sew!)


1.  Be organised and get all of your bits together.

2.  Measure and mark out your fabric using a tape measure and tailors chalk.

 3.  Cut out your fabric using fabric scissors (best not to use scissors that have cut paper as these tend to be blunter and therefore don't give as clean a cut).

4. With the backing fabric, on the longest side you need to create a neat edge as this will be on show.  To do this, fold over 1cm of fabric and then fold it over again by 1cm, pin in place.

5.  Then head over to the sewing machine and stitch this hem in place. 

NB - I used a straight stitch and a chocolate brown thread to contrast against the blue.

6.  Time to construct the cushion cover.  Place one of the backing pieces on top of the front fabric, you want the sides that will be showing on the cushion at the end to be facing each other (this is known as right side together).

 7.  And pin together.

8.  Do the same for the second pieces of backing fabric

9.   You will now have an "inside out" cushion cover, so turn it back the right way and tada......

NB - should have maybe ironed the fabric first!!

You may have noticed in the first pic (and if you didn't how many of you scrolled back to the top!?) there were some buttons, the plan had been to finish the back off with buttons, but having a 10cm overlap for the "envelope" made me think it wasn't needed so I've come up with another use for them!

So there we have it, my finished cushion cover, only 6 more to make haha!


Happy crafting everyone!

Until next time...

Amanda xx

Friday, 10 August 2012

A bit quiet...

Sorry we've been a bit quiet of late, it's been busy busy busy with work and wedding planning!  I'll try and be better at keeping the blog updated, especially as I have new crafts up my sleeve and crafters to interview!

So, what have we been up to...... 


Well, the photography has been going well.....

We (H2B and I) have also photographed two stunning weddings this summer

We have also joined Flickr and will be adding our photographs onto there as we build our portfolio...

Escape to the Country

I had a lovely few days in the countryside with family, it's nice to escape the hustle and bustle of London...

And swapping it for this...

Water Lily Wishes
We've taken a break from craft fairs for the time being as things are pretty busy, so we're focusing on our online sales at the moment.  We still have our SUMMER SALE going on over on our Facebook Page.

We're also now selling our cards and photography prints on Folksy - so please stop by and have a look, the collection is small at the moment but is sure to grow.

In other news...

The wedding plans are going well, I've bought my dress and am soooo excited to wear it!! I had a lovely day with my Mum picking it, and the fact that we both misted up shows it is the right one! 

We have been beavering away making the save the dates and these will be winging their way to our guests very soon.  

Plans are moving forward with accommodation, transport and flowers nearly sorted and have started the search for dresses for my two beautiful bridesmaids.  

All in all, a happy bride to be!

Until next time (and I promise not to leave it so long)

Amanda x

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Featuring... The Sherbet Patch

Wow, do I have another talented crafter for you today…. The “Sherbet Patch” is someone I came across on the good old Book of Face.  I just love her creations and can see one of them winging their way to someone this Christmas, either that or I will just be treating myself!

So, drum roll please……  Here is “The Sherbet Patch”…..

Water Lily Wishes interview

Q.  Let’s start with a little bit about you…

Hello!  My name is Sarah, and my craft site is called ‘’The Sherbet Patch,’’ The Sherbet Patch sells quirky, handmade fabric items, with a definite leaning towards owls.

I have always been interested in textile design and crafts, and one of my earliest crafting memories is making mini dolls, by stuffing old nylon tights with bits of rag. My grandma was a painter, a sewer and an embroiderer and my mum was a keen knitter for as long as I can remember,  

I studied textile design in the 80’s at Horsham School of Art, but was never as focused as I should have been. I was distracted by dreams of travel and took a year out, where I fell in love with Kibbutz and Israel, and never continued on to university. 

Over the past 25 years I have continually dabbled with various crafts, both as a hobby and selling through local craft fairs. However, it wasn’t until last year that circumstances intervened and what used to be a ‘’hobby job’’ has become my primary source of income; I love what I do.  I miss the guaranteed paycheque at the end of each month, but my quality of life is better.

Q.  Your fabric items are adorable, I especially love the owl cushion and that they all have their own character.  How do you name them and where do you get your inspiration from?

Thank you! The owl cushion was the first item I designed for The Sherbet Patch.  My very first owl remains nameless to this day, but has pride of place on a chair in my front room.  He has paisley wings on a fleecy body and will be named Hector from this day forth.

I started naming the owls a few months ago, as each one has a different character depending on the fabric used.  I think of the owls as quite retro in design, with a 70’s influence. I was inspired by a 1970’s floral Humpty~Dumpty that my mum made me.

To compliment the retro feel I went for old fashioned, traditional names, like Humphrey and Douglas. Many of the floral owls have a vintage feel to them, so I took inspiration from traditional flowers and herbs, such as Basil, Petunia and Blossom.

Q.  Can you describe your typical working day?

My typical working day....

On a typical working day I would get up at 8.30am and work through the morning. I use the afternoon to catch up on day to day activities, then start sewing again in the evening.  I have been known to work through till daylight if I get carried away, but I’m trying to curb that habit as I make mistakes.

Working from home is something I have struggled with. It is very difficult to have structure when I am distracted by the kettle, the computer, the television. It is too easy to stay too long in bed when there is no need for an alarm clock.  I struggled with defining the boundaries between work and home, still do, but I am improving.

Q.  And what’s your favourite item you’ve made so far?

My favourite item is constantly changing, but my current favourite is Amaryllis, (pictured below).  Amaryllis is an owl cushion made using a vibrant, Amy Butler print fabric called ‘’Disco Flowers’’ that I fell instantly in love with. I think she has a very 70’s feel to her.

The Sherbet Patch

Q.  If someone was starting out in the craft business world, what piece of advice would you give them?

Never underestimate the cost of making an item. It is very easy to underestimate the real cost of craft items, particularly when you factor in postage, packing, etc.

Q.  How can people get in touch with you?

Phone – 01792 390014

Q.  Other than textiles, are there any other crafts you dabble in or would love to have a go at?

Mosaics.  I used to mosaic mirrors for the garden, and paving slabs with old china.      There is something very satisfying about taking a hammer to a pillowcase of china. Teapot lids look particularly good as the focal point in a paisley.

Q.  So, time for the random question…. What would be your dream holiday?

Looking out at the rainy welsh drought, I would say anywhere hot!  I have always wanted to go to India. I love photography, and the vibrancy, the colours, the contrast between dusty, crowded cities and rural villages appeals to me.

Q.  And finally, what does 2012 hold for you? 

2012. I am hoping to have a website up and running, to continue to develop “The Sherbet Patch” and maybe – just maybe – a holiday!

Thank you so much, it has been a pleasure hearing a bit about the world of “The Sherbet Patch” (great name by the way!) and I hope you get to go on holiday soon!

I think you should all pop over to The Sherbet Patch’s Facebook page and say hello and have a look at the other creations, remember to say where you were sent from!

Until next time…

Amanda x

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Featuring... Sue Bulmer, Artist

So here we are again with another talented person I have come across in my crafting journey, this time it is Sue Bulmer, an artist I came across on a LinkedIn group (have to love social networking!) and I thought her designs were absolutely stunning.  So without further ado....

Sue Bulmer

Q.  Let’s start with a little bit about you…

Well, my name is Sue Bulmer and I’m an artist from the North East of England but living in Nottinghamshire in a little cottage with my lovely husband and dog. Originally I trained in Pharmacy but came back to my artistic roots in 2007 when I embarked on a part time Foundation Course in Art and Design. Since then I have been exploring working in many different media, print, paint, textiles, to name but a few, developing my style and ideas.

I took part in a Creative Business course in 2010 where I got to work with an amazing group of designers and from there my idea for my creative business took shape. I began to concentrate on my ink illustrations and have been building up my portfolio and stockists since the beginning of 2011. I’ve taken part in several exhibitions in the UK and I launched my current collection at BCTF in April 2012.

I love working part time for myself, it’s extremely rewarding, hard work but fulfilling and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Sue Bulmer

Q.  Your designs are stunning, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I got my original inspiration for my bird illustrations from the chickens my parents own, when I was sat sketching them one day. Ideas developed and grew and became what is my current collection ‘Birds of a Feather’. I also get inspired from getting out and about and always take a sketchbook or camera with me to record what I see. From topiary trees to my own garden, and even inside in my kitchen, I’m always on the look out for interesting things to draw, and ideas seem to stem from initial sketches. I love the creative process and looking back to see how ideas develop and grow organically into the final product or piece.

I also get inspiration from my family, and the relationships I have with the nearest and dearest in my life have influenced my recent work. Song lyrics, phrases and sayings also help to shape my work, and sometimes the titles of my illustrations can be as important as the actual image.

Q.  Can you describe your typical working day?

Thursdays and Fridays are my two studio days and they are the days in the week I look forward to the most. I usually plan what I need to do after I finish my day job on Wednesday evening so I know what I need to get done in the next two days. I find that having less time to spend running a creative business definitely makes me be more focused, I need to make the most of my time and having my task list really does help.

Ideally I’d get up about 7.30am and take my dog for a walk or a run and then be in the studio by about 9.00ish with a cup of tea and my iPod, as I love listening to music or the radio while I’m in the studio. I’d check through my emails first thing to make sure I’m up to date with my communications and then start to tackle the list of jobs for the day. These could range from paperwork and accounts, to collecting work from the framers, ordering supplies (although I try to get these jobs done in evenings during the week), putting orders together, researching new galleries, fairs and shows, filling applications in and sending them off etc. I thought I would spend all of my days drawing and sketching but the reality at the moment is that I only spend about 40% of my time doing that at the moment as I’ve been catching up with post-trade fair orders.

I usually break for lunch around 1ish although sometimes I get that carried away I don’t end up realising I’m hungry until tea time and I will spend the afternoon working on commissions, orders, doing a bit of social networking as well, and usually having a creative catch up with my sister over the phone at some point during the day.

I’ve recently been lucky enough to have been chosen to take part in a pilot Mentoring Scheme through Design Factory so I’ll be spending some of my time over the next six months working with a mentor and developing my work. I had my first meeting last week and I’m feeling very inspired, positive and enthused about taking my business forward. It’s a great opportunity and I want to make sure I make the most of it so watch this space…

Q.  And what’s your favourite design you’ve done so far?

I think my favourite design I’ve done so far would have to be Truly, Madly, Deeply. I got the initial idea of the topiary when I was out for the day with my mam at Thorpe Perrow in Yorkshire, I saw these funky chunky unusual trees and thought ‘they just have to feature in my next piece’. Also the title for the design is taken from one of my favourite films, it makes me cry every time but I just love it, Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson singing ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’… just lovely!

Sue Bulmer

Q.  You did a great series of blog posts about exhibiting at a trade show (visit by clicking here)  What was the key piece of advice you were given when you first started out as an artist?

Oh blimey, good question. I can’t remember!! I can’t really remember anyone giving me advice when I decided to take my art up again, as I think everyone thought I was just pursuing it as a hobby, until it grew into something a bit more. I do recall someone saying that if it made me happy then I should give it go. If I had to give someone one piece of advice it would be that if you believe in yourself and your work you really can make things happen with a bit of grit and determination.

Q.  How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter – @sooziebee71
Website –

Q.  Other than your art, illustrations and textiles, are there any other crafts you dabble in or would love to have a go at?

I definitely want to do some screen printing this year, my parents bought me a screen printing day as a present for my last birthday so I need to get that booked soon. I’m looking forward to printing some of my images in colour so this should be an ideal way of making that happen. I also want to do some mono printing as well, after a fab sketchbook peeks interview on my blog inspired me to get my inks out. And I’m also working on developing a range of kitchen ware this summer, so watch this space… it’s coming soon!!

Q.  So, time for the random question…. What would be your dream holiday?

My ideal holiday would be to spend time with my husband and dog somewhere quiet, fairly isolated, peaceful, dog-friendly, and sunny with good walking, breath-taking scenery and a beach or two thrown in for good measure (and a pic-nic!)… the west coast of Scotland without the midges!

Q.  And finally, what does 2012 hold for you?

Well, it’s been great so far with my first trade fair and new stockists to add to my list, so I’m hoping for more of the same. I want to steadily grow my business with the help of the mentoring scheme, show my work at a couple of the bigger selling shows (you can see me at Melbourne Arts Festival in September) and just continue to love what I do and be happy!!

That's great, thank you Sue.  I think you should all go and take a peek at her work! 

Until next time...

Amanda x 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Craft fair photos and a big summer sale...

So, last weekend was our craft fair at Spitalfields Market.  It was a lovely day and so many great stalls, the weather even stayed dry for us! 

Here are some pictures from the day...

As I come across more crafts I realised that I needed to have a sort out in order to make space for exciting new materials.  As a result, I have a whole box of goodies that I am going to be selling in a big SUMMER SALE!!!

I will be adding some card designs to the sale too over the next few days, but to start you off, why not head over to our FB page to see what crafting goodies you could pick up at fantastic prices (click here for the link straight to the album)

Some of the things you can find are:

So what are you waiting for - get your craft on and buy some goodies!! Sales are first come first serve!

Until next time...

Amanda xx