The Hen Do that my Ladies Made

I’ve always liked the saying “Life is what you make of it”. Partly for the actual sentiment of seeing your life however you want to, but mostly for the crafty pun in there. Making stuff (food, knitwear, drawings) is how I make my life. When it came to my Hen Do, it wasn’t just what I made of it, it was what all my ladies made of it.

Now I wasn’t your typical Hen. I didn’t fancy a big night out with ‘L’ plates and willy-shaped paraphernalia. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I can see the funny side of a willy straw, I mean, who can’t? They’re funny from every angle!  I just wanted something else. Luckily I had the world’s best Maid of Honour ever in the history of life, weddings and bridesmaids, who got exactly what I wanted and planned the best Hen Do for me with all my ladies.

hen fascinators

(Photo taken by Lucie Nash)

We made fascinators! That’s right, I had a crafty Hen Do, boo-yah! A lady came to the house with all the things you need to make pretty little head adornments and we were on fire. It was great seeing my friends from all the different parts of my life all getting on so well. And we made some fantastic fascinators. But that’s not all, I spent the afternoon surrounded by all kinds of food, copious amounts of baked goods and my favourite girls. It was epic. It was a feat of co-ordination, communication and cake-ination. We had chocolate cake, mini cupcakes to dip in icing and toppings, shortbread, flapjack, madeleines, cupcakes, glittery scones, rice crispy cakes, blinis and posh sandwiches and a huge cake of light and creamy loveliness from Patisserie Valerie (and I’ve probably missed some bits along the way too).


(Photo taken by Jan Smith)

That’s still not all. How do you decorate such an affair? How about giant paper pom poms (perfect to be used at the wedding as well), paper bunting, tiny crackers and tea caddies sporting white roses? Sounds perfect right? It was. It was exactly the mix of classy and cute that I’d had my heart set on, and it was what Anna and all my ladies made. So thank you, every last one of you, for baking, making and being involved in my wonderful Hen Do. It pays to think outside the box.

Of course it descended into drunken ramblings, but if the bride isn’t drunk on her Hen Do, something’s gone terribly wrong. The icing on the cake (see what I did there?) for me, was seeing the fascinators on the day itself, don’t they look stunning?

fasc 1

(Photo taken by Amy Bride)

fasc 2

(Photo courtesy of Louise Smith)

fasc 3

(Photo taken by Amy Bride)

It really was the Hen Do that we made of it, and I loved it.

The Wedding We Made (part 2)

Flowers and weddings go together like pasta and cheese, gin and tonic and chocolate and my mouth. But beautiful displays and bouquets can end up being a costly endeavour. I had always loved the idea of artificial flowers, of being able to keep my bridal bouquet forever. But when I saw that people were starting to make bouquets out of brooches, doorknobs and just about anything else you could dream of, fake flowers transformed into a chance to get creative and the crafter in me was itching to give these unusual options a go.


(Photo taken by Amy Bride)

I quickly found a simple template for a flower, cut out two sizes and sewed them together with a button (oh how I love a button). I made around five in an hour and thought – bloody hell this is fantastic, bring it on! I showed them to Steven who was equally impressed and the handmade flowers were officially part of the wedding plan. And then Steven got his hands on them…

I may have mentioned before that my significant other can sew better than me. Depending on my mood this makes me simultaneously ashamed and filled with pride. So when mere moments of snipping, placing and sewing created the most perfect felt rosebud you have ever seen I was jealous and delighted in equal parts. At first he was tasked with the job of making me an entire bouquet of felt rosebuds all by himself, but eventually I discovered that it was not, in fact, rocket science, and I could, in fact, do it too and so I helped a bit and spread the skills around.

With rosebuds made by my nearest and dearest, ribbon roses adding a touch of glamour, and some vintage brooches that belonged to my nana, my bouquet blossomed into the beauty it is, even to this day, proudly displayed in my living room.


(Photo taken by Yellow Door Photography)

Whilst the bouquet was a subdued haze of cream and red, the centrepieces were rather more off piste. In amongst knitted and felt flowers, there was a cardigan tie, a sequined sleeve and various other oddments that had taken up residence in my sewing box and were miraculously transformed at the hands of my genius spouse. I envy the way he can see what something could become with a bit of work, no matter how uninspiring and unloved it may look.

table centres

(Photo taken by Katherine Smith)

With nine rosebud buttonholes finishing off our floral creations, we were delighted with how they all turned out. I think it truly sunk in how successful they were when I saw guests choosing their favourites, and keeping them as a memento of the day. You’ve got to be doing something right if people want to take things home with them!


(Photo taken by Yellow Door Photography)

So I’m sure some of you are wondering if this really helped in our budget conscious wedding. Well…drum roll please! All in all our flowers cost us less than £50, and we will never see flowers like them at another wedding. They were 100% us and will be forever!

The Wedding We Made (part 1)

I was going to write just one post about the wedding, but once I got started, I soon realised it could quickly become a novel. So instead, it’ll be a series of posts (most likely until I get bored) interspersed with other crafty yumminess to keep you gripped and enthralled. Just let me believe that you are gripped and enthralled, even though you’re probably not, for my sanity.

There’s something magical about weddings that goes beyond love and commitment and all those smushy things. So much time, effort and money goes into celebrating the special couple, that the day becomes an entity in it’s own right. We felt that was especially true on our big day, because so much of it was hand made or crafted by the people closest to us. What originally started out as ways to make the most of the little funds we had, quickly became the best parts of our wedding. Every last bit of the day was us, to the core.


(Photo by Yellow Door photography)

It all started with the invitations. We always wanted to make our own invitations, to make sure we had complete control over the final look. Steven is quite the dab hand at coming up with interesting ideas, and after various incarnations of folded card that were always too fussy, too amateurish or too time consuming, he struck gold.

When he suggested little fabric envelopes with each guest’s name embroidered onto the front, I just couldn’t imagine it any other way. Enter an extremely talented sister-in-law with a whizzy sewing machine and ceaseless patience and the dream became a reality.


(Photo taken by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie)

Each guest or family group got their very own personalised envelope to keep forever. Handily, they are the perfect size for bank and ID cards (ever the practicalities with me!) so they still serve a purpose now the wedding is over. We printed the details on cards from Vista print and even built a website…which promptly failed and led to plenty of emails and texts. Yes, we thought we were being clever and no, we didn’t think it all the way through. Everyone made it on the day though, so we clearly did alright.


(Photo taken by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie)

We even had our own invitations with our names on, because, you know, we didn’t want to feel left out.

Everyone was thrilled by the invites, and we are so grateful to Mandy for taking the time, effort and skill to make them for us. They were such a conversation starter and gift in their own right that a few people didn’t even realise the wedding details were inside. I have never seen invitations like these before, or since, and I will be very surprised if I ever do. They are simple, elegant and timeless and we couldn’t have wished for anything better.

If you were as impressed as we were with these mad embroidery skills, Emelbee also do t-shirts, jumpers and other embroidery magic. Get in touch if you are interested!

Sew exciting!

Hello my lovely readers!

So term starts back today, with alot of mixed feelings!  I thought I would ignore all my nerves about exams and starting new modules by writing a blog post.  That’s productive right?  Hmmm…

So sewing.  As I mentioned I got a beautiful sewing machine for Christmas (thank you Santa ;-P).  It’s purple and pretty straight forward to use and I already miss it.  There is no room for it in my uni house so unfortunately it currently lives in my wardrobe back home.  I just hope it’s not too lonely – it does have my clothes and wool stash for company at least.  But I digress.  I have finally used a sewing machine, and with some success too!

I mentioned previously that I had big plans to make napkin rings.  Well, as big as plans can get for such a small project.  I bought the fabric and cut some of it up and then got distracted, probably by something shiny.  But now I have made real progress.  The strips of fabric were finally all sheared one evening and I was ready to go.

Until I discovered that setting up a sewing machine is bloody complicated!!  Sitting in the afternoon twilight (almost) with mother dearest explaining it to me I couldn’t help but panic a wee bit.  It’s all loop this here and thread that there and wind it round your head four times and do a rain dance and you are done!  Well, not exactly, but that’s how it felt.  All the while I kept thinking “If threading the thing is this hard, how tricksy is it going to be to actually use?”

The answer was not tricksy at all.  Once you’ve faffed around for half an hour you just press a peddle!  Exactly my kind of thing.  So I practised on some scrap and was very tickled by all the different kinds of stitch (some of them look a bit like heart rate moniters tee hee) and had my faith utterly restored.

So the next day I decided to tackle a real sewing project.  And I was determined to do it properly.  I pinned all the pieces together, then I tacked them together (this is a very loose stitch that just holds things together temporarily) and then I got sewing.  I even ironed all of the pieces first, and I don’t even iron my clothes!  I thought I was doing quite well, though I was too scared to go full speed with the peddle.  Sometimes the machine growled at me when I went to slow but I was determined not to be rushed!

The first two seams are wonky to say the least.  But I had 12 strips of fabric to sew together and that means 11 seams.  Now 2 wonky and 9 straight is pretty good going in my book.  I am a very happy bunny indeed.

Like I said, term has started again and I am seperated from my sewing machine :-(.  But as soon as we are reunited I will be backing those bad boys and finishing them up royal!  And then, my dears, I will give you some pretty pictures too ooh/scoff at depending on your opinion of my handiwork.

It’s sew exciting!

P.S. Fair Isle update:  I have chosen the wool I am going to use…green, red and purple…good combo I think…but they have yet to leap onto my needles…soon, I promise.

A not-so-crafty Christmas

I mentioned before that most Christmasses, I make the majority of presents for people.  It’s much more personal and unique, and sometimes it’s a more afordable option too.  But it does take time.  And this Christmas, I only gave 1 hand made present.

It actually feels strange to me.  I made a felt toy of a digimon (Terriermon, to be exact, for anyone who cares) for my fiance, and that’s it.  Last year, I spent my evenings leading up to Christmas knitting tree decorations.  I even ventured into my fiance’s world of clay to make some little ducks (I came back out of that world quite quickly because it was scary and made my hands feel weird).  But this year my evenings were spent proofreading for the university paper, struggling through Ancient Greek translations or cramming chocolate in my face.  None of these things are conducive to creativity.

The only other thing I made was Christmas Chutney.  This is a really delicious recipe that I am toying with giving you all, despite the fact that it’s well and truly after Christmas now.  But I forgot that I’d made it.  So no one got it.  It’s still sitting in the garage waiting to be distributed.  Thankfully, it’s a very patient chutney so all is well so far.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying people presents.  All of my family were thrilled with the gifts they recieved this year.  Some of them may have even preferred their shop bought wonders (although I hope they can at least appreciate what I’ve made in the past!)  It just didn’t really feel right for me, that I had only made one present.

This one present was particularly difficult though.  I made the digimon quite small, and my minute hand sewing skills are hampered by my impatience so it took a lot longer than I’d expected.  Originally my fiance was going to get other hand made beauties, but those will now have to wait until his birthday in the summer.  I wasn’t even particularly thrilled with the result!  I thought he was wonky and weird but my fiance loves him so that point is well and truly moot.

So along with all of my other goals for the coming year, (making bread, attempting fair isle knitting and learning to sew – I did get a sewing machine for christmas so be prepared for LOTS of sewing posts!) I want to get back to making gifts.  It’s personal, it’s thrifty and hey, I miss it.

Epic Paper Snowflake

Well dear readers, it is time for my first step-by-step guide on making something lovely yourselves.  As it is only 4 days until Christmas (YAY!) I thought a last minute festive decoration wouldn’t go amiss.  So here is how to make the world’s best paper snowflake.

My mum showed me how to make this last weekend.  She had learnt it from another friend and has since showed tons of other people, so lets share the wealth a little further and all make this gorgeous thing.  If you have standard plain white paper in the house, this is absolutely free and yet so effective!

First off, here’s a little photo to show you what you will be making:












































Made with Love

There’s been a bit of resurgence for hand made things lately.  Kirstie Allsop has made it her mission in life to spread the knowledge of the wonder that is home-made items and I for one couldn’t agree with her more.

For years, I’ve hand-made the majority of the gifts I’ve given.  It takes quite a long time, a large dose of effort and more patience than I admittedly have but people love it.

The difference between giving a shop bought trinket, and something you’ve made with your own two hands is perfectly clear on the recipient’s face.  Unless someone really, really wants a specific item from a shop, 9 times out of 10, home made will be appreciated more.  Trust me, I’ve seen it myself.

My crafty endeavours are currently quite limited.  I knit obsessively and always have something on the go on my needles.  This meant that one Christmas everyone got knitted hats, gloves and wrist warmers.  I still get excited and proud when I see my family and friends wearing the things I’ve made for them.

I also cross stitch but until recently I didn’t really give cross stitch as gifts.  It lends itself to framed samplers most of all and that doesn’t appeal to everyone.  But last year mini cross stitches became squishy baubles for very lucky Christmas trees and dangly bits of loveliness for lonely door knobs.  They might sound like tat but they really do cheer up a bland door.

In the past I have done drawings and paitings and soft pastels but my skills there are seriously limited.  Random moments of inspiration have created some quite attractive things but nothing spectaclar and with a talented artist for a fiance my attempts seem to pale in comparison.

That is the extent of my creativity.  But not for long.  I am determined to learn how to sew.  Clearly I know how to thread a needle and put two peices of fabric together.  What I mean is actually make something from just a reel of something pretty.  I have an embarrassing tendency towards the furiously angry when it comes to sewing – my needle never wants to stay threaded, I think even more so because it knows how annoyed I get.  Horses can smell fear, needles can smell impatience.

I was given a book of quilting projects for my birthday in the summer and I even invested (ahem less than £2 – offcuts I love you!) in some fabric to make napkin rings.  I cut out one of the 4 different fabrics before I ran out of steam.  I tell everyone that uni and reading and essays get in the way but a lot of it is fear too.

So I ask you to come on the journey with me.  By next Christmas I am determined to be giving out home made SEWN gifts.  Hopefully with the aid of a sewing machine I may or may not get this December 25th…