December 21st, 2014

Hobbycraft paint your own wood decorations

Hobbycraft plain wood decorations | Growing Spaces

Hobbycraft gingerbread man decoration | Growing SpacesWhen Hobbycraft sent me a selection of their paint your own wood Christmas decorations, they were immediately hijacked by the twins, who were adamant that the decorating duties should be all theirs. Given their level of enthusiasm, we made ‘Christmas decoration making’ one of their advent activities this week, and they had an absolute ball. With a load of craft materials at their disposal, including felt tips, PVA glue, glitter, googly eyes, tissue paper and fabric and ribbon offcuts we left them to it, and they were so chuffed with their finished decorations.

Hobbycraft wooden Christmas decorations | Growing SpacesAnd that lovely tree they’re hanging on? That’s from Hobbycraft too and I couldn’t believe it when I checked the price and discovered it’s only £20. Admittedly up close it’s a plasticky version of the paper trig trees that I adore, but I think it’s fantastic value and it currently has pride of place on our kitchen island (complete with the homemade decs).

Hobbycraft reindeer decoration | Growing Spaces

Disclaimer: I was sent the above items from Hobbycraft free of charge for this post

December 20th, 2014

Styling the Seasons: December

: Styling the Seasons, by Apartment Apothecary and Lotts and Lots :
“Reflect the change of seasons and show those changes in your own home, by styling any surface (shelf, dining table, mantelpiece) with something you like to reflect the new month and what it means to you”

December Styling the Seasons | Growing SpacesI’ve loved taking part in Katy and Charlotte’s ‘Styling the Seasons’ challenge since they launched it in September, and the afternoon I spent at Liberty with a roomful of talented bloggers last month was a perfect way to celebrate its success. We knew before we went along that we’d be Christmas crafting with Liberty’s Tana Lawn cotton, and as my sewing skills are basic to say the least,  I wanted to find a no-sew project that I could work on for the afternoon.

I decided to go for a plaited garland – I chose three fabric designs  and then tore strips of the cotton (ripping Liberty fabric whilst sat in a beautiful wood-panelled room at the heart of Liberty felt pretty irreverent I have to admit!). I plaited these and then threaded the plait through an offcut of copper pipe (yes, the pipe cutter strikes again) before forming a loop (like a paper chain) which I secured in place with some florist’s wire.

Plaited garland detail | Growing Spaces

Liberty fabric plaited garland | Growing SpacesEach loop was linked together with a piece of the copper pipe, and at each end I tied some lengths of the fabric unplaited, so that the beautiful fabric patterns were more visible.

Log candleholder | Growing SpacesAll of my Christmas craft projects this year have involved copper in some form, so I wanted to use this element to unify my Styling the Seasons post this month. I sprayed a simple Ikea bottle vase with some copper spray paint from Plasti-Kote, and used my trusty snail tape to add a touch of copper to the bottom of some white pillar candles. I’ve made a few different copper garlands to go on our tree – the one here was just circles punched out of copper card, folded in half and glued over a length of string.

I also need to give my five-year-old daughter Ez a styling assistant credit for these photographs! She was very patient with my faffing while it was just the two of us at home this morning, and she helped me out by pressing the shutter button for most of the shots above. Thanks Ez x

December 19th, 2014

Succulent festive hanging decoration

Blinged up succulents | Growing Spaces
Christmas succulents | Growing Spaces

Senecio cephalophorus + copper leaf/fine copper glitter + a touch of PVA glue + coir seedling pot = living hanging decorations for your Christmas tree or festive branches

Succulent hanging decoration | Growing Spaces

December 18th, 2014

{make it} DIY lavender bags for teachers’ gifts

DIY teachers gifts | Growing SpacesSorry for the radio silence. I started December all cocky about all the fantastic crafts and posts I had planned for the blog, and then a combination of a lastminute work project (extra work is always good news for a freelancer) and the general chaos of Christmas meant the usual holiday mayhem took over and I’ve been battling to stay afloat ever since.

Tomorrow is the last day of term. I can’t believe the twins have done a whole term of school already, but at the same time I’m finding it hard to think back to what life was like before they started school. For Christmas, I knew that I wanted to make gifts for their teachers ourselves, so we’ve opted for a bit of a joint effort. Artwork by the children, and sewing by me.

DIY teachers lavender bags | Growing SpacesI bought some fabric pens back in the summer, and when I saw how much fun the kids had drawing with them, I made a mental note to remember them come Christmas time. I decided that we’d make lavender bags for the teachers, and this is how we did it…

1. Cut out squares of fabric (two squares per bag), and get the kids to draw on pictures and messages with the fabric pens.
2. Iron the squares to set the paint, and then pin each pair together, painted sides facing. Sew them, leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance, all the way round (you can use a machine or hand sew them), making sure to leave an opening on the last edge.
3. Turn the bags the right way out, fill each bag with dried lavender, and then sew up the gap.
4. Edge the bags with blanket stitch using embroidery thread (I’ve recently taught myself to do blanket stitch from this tutorial).

Homemade teachers gifts | Growing SpacesI’m really pleased with how these have turned out – they were easy to do and are a lovely, personal gift. And even though the twins aren’t keen on the lavender smell (!), they’re really proud of what they’ve made them themselves and can’t wait to give them to their teachers tomorrow.

DIY lavender bag gift for teachers - Growing Spaces

December 7th, 2014

{Make it} DIY copper pipe Christmas tree decoration

Copper pipe Christmas decoration | Growing SpacesWe don’t have our Christmas tree yet (I’m getting impatient, but will hold out for another week or so), but that hasn’t stopped me making some new tree decorations. I wanted to continue the copper theme of my homemade decorations (the copper pipe advent calendar, and papercut wreath) – and copper pipe is definitely my craft material du jour right now.

DIY tree decoration from copper pipe | Growing SpacesIt’s easy to make this cute hanging decoration yourself…

1. Use a pipe cutter to cut 11 1cm pieces of 15mm copper pipe.
2. Tie each row together using thin cotton string or embroidery thread (you could also use wire but I found thread easier) – so one row of two pieces, one row of three pieces and one row of four pieces.
3. Then tie the rows together in the same way to form a tree shape, finishing with a single piece at the bottom as a trunk.
4. Use an offcut of fabric (this is Liberty’s Tana Lawn cotton left from the Crafting the Seasons afternoon) to tie a loop for hanging to the top piece of pipe.

Christmas tree decoration DIY | Growing Spaces

DIY copper pipe tree dec | Growing SpacesI have to admit that tying all the pieces of pipe together was fiddly, but I got quicker once I got into the rhythm, and the repetition was actually quite soothing after a while. I’ve made three so far, and want to keep going so that they’re ready to go on our tree next weekend.

This week is all about handmade festive decorations on Growing Spaces. I hope to have a few more DIYs to share with you, as well as a round up of decorations I’ve seen and loved from around the web, so please do visit again soon! And if you’re in need of more Christmas inspiration in the meantime, I’m constantly pinning to my ‘for Christmas’ Pinterest board, so do come and join me over there.

Growing Spaces copper pipe Christmas tree dec

December 4th, 2014

5 Simple paper wreaths

I love the simplicity of all five of these DIY paper wreaths, that are each equally striking. And the best bit is that they’re kid-friendly crafts too – I reckon the twins’ top choice would be drawing round their hands and cutting them out. I love making something with the kids that becomes part of our Christmas traditions – evoking memories when it’s unpacked each year. Click the link below each image for the full tutorial.
paint card leaves

styleathomePaint card wreath
Source: Style At Home

brown paper holly leaves

thepinkcouchBrown paper holly leaf wreath
Source: The Pink Couch

kids handprints

mynameissnickerdoodleHandprint wreath
Source: My Name Is Snickerdoodle

paper cup wreath

twigandthistleSimple paper cup wreath
Source: Twig and Thistle

easy paper strips

mermagPaper strip wreath
Source: Mermag

December 2nd, 2014

{I love} Jennie Maizels alphabet patches

Need more gin | Growing Spaces
It must have been a stressful week when the email popped into my inbox asking me if I’d like to work on a little “pimp your cushion” project using these fab alphabet patches from Jennie Maizels, because my thoughts immediately turned to gin! I’m betting that this message will be very apt in the run up to Christmas. I plan to use it to place my drinks order and I’ll hold it up and wave it at my husband when my glass needs refilling.

Jenny Maizels clothes plasters | Growing Spaces
The patches (£1.99 each) are super easy to apply. All you have to do is iron them on – mine took a bit more time than the 10-15 seconds that the instructions suggested, but they are firmly in place now. If they come loose, you can either iron them a bit more, or add a couple of stitches to secure them. They’re brilliant for personalising plain clothes (or even to pimp up canvas plimsolls), or to patch up holes. I’d love to use them on school trousers, but I’m not sure they’d pass as regulation uniform unfortunately!

Clothes plasters by Jenny Maizels | Growing Spaces
As well as the alphabet patches, Jennie has a great range of other designs, including the winged heart I’ve also used on my cushion. They’re bold, bright and fun, and I can think of all sorts of projects that I’d like to use them for. I’ve still got some patches that I’m holding back for a festive craft to be revealed in a couple of weeks, so watch this space…


Disclosure: I was given these clothes plasters free of charge for use in this post


December 1st, 2014

While I was walking..

Charting the weeks through our walks to school
Frosty morning | Growing Spaces

There’s been a change in our morning school run. We have one child on a bike, one on a scooter, and now – instead of me jogging along to keep up – I have my own scooter! I scoot with the kids to school and leave my scooter there, as I can’t quite get over the self-consciousness of scooting without the kids in tow. And those walks home offer a little window of quietness, where I can appreciate the slower pace and catch my breath after the inevitable chaos and frantic activity that marks the start of our day.

I listened to episodes of the podcast Serial for a second time, in order to try to fill the gap left by the week’s break for Thanksgiving. I’m completely hooked on this story, and there’s so much information in every episode that listening back is a good way to pick up on things I may have missed first time around.
I looked at how beautiful everything was on the clear and frosty morning early in the week, pushing through the bushes that line the footpath to be rewarded with a stunning view (picture above).
I pondered how easy it is to take life, and the people in it, for granted, and how much family really means to me. Loss is painful;  it makes you stop and question what’s really important, and reminds you to make the most of what (and who) you have.

November 30th, 2014

{Make it} DIY papercut Christmas wreath

Metallic papercut Christmas wreath | Growing SpacesIt’s the first Sunday in Advent, and while I’m definitely not ready to put our tree up (ours doesn’t go up until mid December at the absolute earliest), I do think a festive wreath is a lovely addition to the front door anytime during Advent. My neighbour always has a seasonal wreath up – Christmas, Spring, Easter, Summer, Autumn – and I love her tradition.

Having pinned a number of papercut wreaths to my ‘for Christmas’ pinterest board recently, I decided that I’d make the most of my fantastic Cricut Mini, to create one myself. I chose a simple branch design that reminds me of eucalyptus (Fern 2 from the Serenade cartridge) and cut out a number of them using white, silver and copper card. I wrapped grey felt around a simple polystyrene wreath base, and then pinned the branches on with basic sewing pins, making sure to overlap the leaves to hide the ends.

Paper leaf Christmas wreath | Growing SpacesThe loop for hanging is made from copper slug tape (it’s supposed to repel slugs in the garden!) – this stuff is brilliant, and I’m definitely going to be using it for more craft projects.

Papercut leaf wreath | Growing SpacesThe papercut leaves curled up slightly when I peeled them off the Cricut mat, and I love the depth this adds to the finished wreath. If I didn’t have my Cricut machine, I’d choose a simpler shape such as holly leaves to cut by hand. I think these would look just as effective layered up like this, especially if you gently fold each leaf down the middle so that they have a 3D effect.

Festive wreaths will be the focus here this week, so visit again in a couple of days for a round-up of my favourite DIY wreaths from across the web, including ideas for adults and for kids to try at home. And because you can’t beat a traditional foliage wreath, I’ll include some tips for making your own at the end of the week. I’m already counting down the days to this year’s wreath-making workshop with my friend Sarah from Poppy & Peonies. Happy Advent all!

DIY papercut Christmas wreath | Growing Spaces

November 29th, 2014

Styling the Seasons: November

: Styling the Seasons, by Apartment Apothecary and Lotts and Lots :
“Reflect the change of seasons and show those changes in your own home, by styling any surface (shelf, dining table, mantelpiece) with something you like to reflect the new month and what it means to you

Styling the Seasons November | Growing SpacesCutting it pretty close to the wire to get this month’s Styling the Seasons post up, but I was determined not to miss a month, and grabbed a spare ten minutes this morning (still in my dressing gown!) to style up the shelf in our family craft area.

November has really whizzed by in a blur. I’ve been busy with work, plus helping to organise the school winter fair, and there’s been other family stuff going on, too. Time to just chill out and potter has been minimal, if non-existent, but this year I knew I wanted to share lots of Christmas crafts and ideas on Growing Spaces, so planning out my festive content has been a must.

I’ve styled  up my shelf with some of the things I’ll be using in the coming month’s craft projects, including copper pipe (which I’ve already put to use in my homemade advent calendar), a wreath (I’ll be focusing on wreaths here next week with a DIY and my pick of the web), and some of the beautiful Tana Lawn cotton from Liberty, which I was so lucky to get to play with on the Crafting the Seasons crafternoon that Katy and Charlotte hosted at Liberty earlier this month. That was a real highlight of this month and I loved hanging out with: Lou Littlegreenshed | Jeska Lobster and Swan | Lisa Betty and Walter | Sarah-Lou Lapin Blu  | Hannah Hannah in the House | Tamsyn The Villa on Mount Pleasant | Ruth The Planned Adventure | Soumaya Made By Molu  | Melanie  Geoffrey and Grace | Jo The Only Place | Laura Circle of Pine Trees | Alexis Something I Made. So if you love Christmas as much as me, please pop by here lots throughout December, and you’ll be able to see what I made with that Liberty fabric in my December Styling the Seasons post.Copper pipe pieces | Growing Spaces

November styling the seasons | Growing Spaces

Christmas craft bits | Growing Spaces


While you’re here, I hope you don’t mind me asking a favour? I’m beyond thrilled to have been named as a finalist in the lifestyle category in the Bloggers’ Lounge Blogger of the Year Awards. Now I’ve made the final, it’s all down to votes, so if you’d like to make my day, please vote for me here. Thanks a million x

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