The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: September 2015

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Handmade Fair - Mollie Makes Mash Up - Totes, Wearable

The Super Theatre at The Handmade Fair

On Saturday I visited The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace and spent the day looking at all things handmade. The first session I attended was the Mollie Makes Mash Up at the Super Theatre tent. Inside a large big top tent a huge audience of passionate crafters watched Jamie 'Mr X Stitch' Chalmers take on Lisa Comfort in a crafty challenge. Their task was to each take a plain calico tote bag sold from Hobbycraft and to transform it into something to wear. With a basic Brother sewing machine available to use and 45 minutes, the battle commenced.

Both Jamie and Lisa had chosen to create an apron, I thought it was a great choice of a wearable item as it can be made into any style and shape. Using the tote as their blank canvas they both started by unpicking the seams of the tote and then each went off into their own styles of making. Whilst they were making their aprons we could see what they were doing on the screen behind them and the close ups being filmed.

Sewing at The Handmade Fair

Jamie had some fun at the start by saying he was making two items, a bandana and an apron and tied a spare piece of his calico bag round his head. Lisa joined in and added a pretty piece of ribbon to her hair do too.

The concept of the mash-up was really intriguing, throughout the session it became really clear how distinct both makers are in their style and approach to handmade. Jamie decided his apron was going to have a punk feel and Lisa’s an element of precision and her signature vintage style. Over the 45 minutes the pair entertained us, talking through what they were making, telling us a few techniques, and we got to find out more about them, their businesses and their personalities too.

The Handmade Fair Mollie Makes Mash up

Jamie created a punk style lap apron, it was almost like a utility belt, he dismantled the entire tote with an unpicker and stitched on front pockets to his apron. He hadn't had a lot of experience with a sewing machine before but managed to create a great wearable piece. The apron was embellished with typography and statements using Tulip fabric pens and was roughly hemmed to finish it off and give it a distressed punk craft feel. The lettering he created on the front of the apron was impressive for the time he had and the idea of combining wording on a worn item using different styles of typography was a really interesting and different concept.

The Handmade Fair Mollie Mash up

Lisa unpicked the majority of the tote and cleverly used one of the handles of the tote bag as the strap of the apron that goes over your neck. Lisa talked us through that she was using a box pleat and gathering to create the look she wanted. Using a mix of off the cuff sewing with no pins, and then precision pinning for the box pleat and gathering, she whipped up an impressive and pretty apron, using ribbons to add trimmings and covering up a few of the seams. The ribbons used were bright and sourced from India and added a great addition to the apron. Lisa finished her item so neatly, pressing and positioning her item initially on a mannequin to tidy up and check that the ends were trimmed and tidy.

Lisa and Jamie with finished aprons at The Handmade Fair

It was a really entertaining session, with lots of laughter and was something I thoroughly enjoyed watching. The way the mash-up was set up and filmed so that each of their items as they made them  close up, gave you a small peak into their day to day world of handmade and just how each of them are very skilled in their own way and have a very different approach to making. At the end of the 45 minutes we took a vote to say whose item was our favourite, the vote was really close but Lisa won overall with her pretty traditional apron that she named 'Pinelope' (a clever name suggestion from the audience!).

The Mollie Makes Mash Up showed me how much you could make in the time given and how much one item can be transformed into something completely different with a creative approach. During the session I saw a clever mix of different approaches and styles to the task both Lisa and Jamie had in front of them. I will try to remember the way they both approached the task to inspire me next time I sit in front of my sewing machine. With lots of focus and determination and my sewing station set up I wonder what I could create in 45 minutes? I think after seeing this I may give it a go!

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

I'm going to The Handmade Fair

The countdown has started and in two weeks time I will be heading to The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace. For a second year Kirstie Allsopp and the Handmade Team have created a three day event bringing together designers and artisans, to teach and sell craft products in a stunning location. I love the idea of attending a huge crafting event that isn't just about shopping, the focus is about learning, trying new crafts during hands-on sessions and meeting the people behind the best of handmade. Take a look at this lovely video showing highlights from The Handmade Fair in 2014, watching this I get a giddy with excitement.

For me The Handmade Fair feels like a crafters dream event and I'm really excited to be going and being surrounded by others who share my handmade passion. I'm heading over on the Saturday and have selected the Full Experience ticket, giving me the chance to attend the three interactive craft areas, the Super Theatre, a Skills Workshop and a Grand Makes session, as well as having access to delicious food and the boutique shopping village. When you book your Full Experience ticket you get to choose from a huge variety of sessions to attend. There's such a wide mix of options to choose from it has taken me a little time to decide which sessions to go to!

The Super Theatre is hosted by Kirstie and is a space where she will be bringing together all the talented people she has worked with over the years. Each Super Theatre session demonstrates a particular technique, as well as covering Q and As, hearing about the latest craft trends and expert tips. I'm really looking forward to attending the Mollie Makes Mash up with Jamie 'Mr X Stitch' Chalmers vs Lisa Comfort. It's a going to be a really exciting session seeing the combination of incredible contemporary and vintage craft styles, and real stitching talents, battling it out. I can't wait to hear Lisa's tips and techniques for sewing projects and seeing how they both transform a plain tote bag into a wearable piece!

The Skills Workshops are the opportunity to learn a new skill or perfect one you already have tried and love. There are a huge range of sessions to choose from including fashion accessories, paper crafting, seasonal themed makes, upcycling with Annie Sloan, yarn and textiles, and wedding crafts with Hobby Craft. I've selected the Intermediate Knitting session with Suzie Johnson to make a wrist accessory. I'm really looking forward to this, having just picked up my knitting needles again after a long break I'm hoping that this session will kick start the knitting bug in me once more. With the majority of the skills workshops you get to take away what you have made which is such a great idea and a souvenir of the day.

The Grand Makes tent is a chance to see how in a few minutes you can craft something that you can use in your home, at a party or as a gift. I've selected the Tibetan Poetry Bunting by Big Beautiful Bunting, where I'll learn to print poetry onto a cotton flag, embellish it and then tie it together to create one grand line of bunting! I've never printed onto fabric before and thought it would be a really quirky session to try.

Alongside the sessions there is a boutique shopping village with a huge range of craft supplies and handmade items to buy, the Artisan Marketplace to shop homegrown foods, and lots of options of delicious food and drink to keep the energy levels up during the day. I'm hoping to pick up a few gifts for friends and family whilst shopping and buy some special unique crafty supplies for myself. I will have to set myself a budget as I think the array of shopping options is going to be very tempting!

Going to an event like this should be something you share with a fellow crafter. I'm taking my Mum out for the day, we've never been to anything like this together so I'm really looking forward to it. My Mum first introduced me to and got me excited about making when I was young (take a look at one of my early blog posts to find out about my crafty beginnings) and I can't wait to share the whole experience with her. It will be an extravaganza of learning, crafting, shopping, delicious food and of course cake! I will let you know all about how I get on later this month.

If you fancy coming along why not click on this link to find out more and buy tickets -


Saturday, 5 September 2015

Designing my own patchwork quilt

Quilt blocks

Over the past few months I've been working on my own design for a patchwork quilt. I adore patchwork quilts and love working with and selecting patterned fabric. Making my own patchwork quilt for our home has been on my wish list for some time now. I have made basic patchwork quilts for other people and really enjoyed the process. I wanted to make a more complex patchwork quilt this time and have a sewing project that I have put my heart and soul into that is completely unique and something that would look great in our home.

I'm in the early stages of the quilt project and have so far designed three patchwork quilt blocks, each measuring 12 inches by 12 inches as a finished size. I'm not quite sure what the next phase of this project will be, I may continue to design a few more blocks or I may create a design that works around a central block or design. I want to keep it simple so that I finish the project but I'd love to experiment a little and make it a handmade project that I can be very proud of.

I'm using the Scrumptious fabric range by Bonnie and Camille and have selected the pink, red and mint colours out of the fabric range. I'm taking time to gradually work on this project to create the quilt blocks, sometimes cutting the fabric in a different sitting than the sewing. My favourite part is the sewing and piecing together the design and so far I have made nine 12 inch blocks.

Patchwork quilt blocks

Here are three designs of blocks. I have made three of each design using a mixture of fabrics so that each block looks different.

Patchwork quilt block

Patchwork quilt block

Patchwork quilt block

I have high hopes that this patchwork quilt will be completed by the end of this year. There is a long way to go but I would like to snuggle under this quilt during the winter and have it out in our home to use. I'll keep you updated with my progress.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How to host a handmade baby shower

Where has the summer gone? Today marks the start of Autumn. I really can't believe that September has arrived, somehow August seemed to flash by full of rain and busy times. This coming month is all about handmade for me, it's the start of new projects and completing work in progress. I'm also heading off to The Handmade Fair later this month too.

To kick start the month I wanted to tell you about a handmade baby shower that I hosted at my home for Beth, a close friend of mine. Gathering together some of Beth's best friends one Saturday this summer, we spent an afternoon having a brilliant catch up over food, baby shower games and enjoying quality time together. I have known Beth for many years and she is a really special friend to me. Hosting a handmade baby shower for Beth was my way of saying thank you but also to organise a special get together to celebrate her exciting new phase of life heading into the world of motherhood.

For me both the process of organising a get together and making things are some of my favourite pastimes, so creating a handmade baby shower became a fun project that I really enjoyed and immersed myself in. Having a baby shower meant getting Beth's friends together in one place, choosing great food and drinks, finding a great gift, and decorating the space with handmade touches creating a pretty space and theming the party.  I thought it would be great to share with you how I hosted a handmade baby shower and talk through a few of the key aspects I focused on for the day. I hope they help deliver a little inspiration at the start of this handmade month.

Decorations for baby shower

Planning and organising the baby shower

Planning the baby shower itself, what it would involve and how it would feel, was something that I had been thinking about for a few months. I started scouring the internet for styling ideas and pinning them to a secret board on Pinterest as soon as Beth told me she was pregnant. Armed with lots of ideas I started thinking about those that I knew I could make happen but also those that I knew that Beth would love. I spoke to Beth about organising a get together and we jointly contacted her friends to book in the date and to confirm numbers. With a perfect number of people to fit around my dining room table I then was able to refine the ideas I had for decorating and hosting the day.

As I mentioned some of the planning was carried out early on however most of my favourite ideas for  the day were made the week or so before the baby shower, and a few finishing touches came together the night before and morning of the baby shower. I kept my ideas altogether and organised by creating to do lists, food and supplies shopping lists, and made a separate list of the handmade touches to create for the day.

Choosing a theme

Choosing a theme for the baby shower was so much fun, I had so many different ideas that I could've gone with, however I decided to go with a colour theme that would mean something to Beth. Rather than the typical blue and pink, I went for the colour that I knew Beth would love, the colour of the baby's nursery. Beth and her husband had recently finished decorating the nursery a light teal /mint colour so I knew instantly that this would form the main colour theme for the party alongside white and a few touches of pastel colours. I tried to use the theme throughout, finding balloons and ribbons that could be used to add decorations to the room.

Baby shower decorations

Handmade baby shower decorations

To make the day extra special I really wanted a large portion of the baby shower to be personalised to Beth and to create some handmade elements to make the room feel different and decorated like a party.

I made a woollen pom pom garland in the baby shower theme colours and hung them up over the side board to create a focal point for the room. I used two sizes of Clover pom pom makers and made them whilst watching TV over a few evenings. I wanted make a pom pom garland that Beth could take home at the end of the day and add to the nursery if she wanted to.

banner and pom poms 

I made a little banner using wording ideas that I had seen on Pinterest and hung this below the pom pom garland. I typed up the words, printed them out and mounted them on coloured card and stapled them to the wide mint coloured ribbon, tying pretty bows at the top and bottom. Hanging from a picture hook I positioned it above some pretty Ikea lanterns to create a focal point in the room.

I joined in with the craze for tissue paper pom poms, selecting a range of pastel colours and making them using a few different methods I found online. To enable them to hang down in an attractive way I attached them onto a bamboo cane and secured the cane above our archway that divides the lounge and dining room. I cut out some light blue card into the shape of rain drops to add to the 'shower' theme and strung them together using some white cotton, fixing them to the bamboo cane so that they dangled down into the room. I also made a pom pom and rain drops that I hung from the central light over the dining room table.

Pom Poms

I wanted Beth to have something special to wear on the day and so instead of a making a rosette, I made Beth a 'Mummy to be' above the bump band. It was made with small tissue pom poms attached to a ribbon. I added other ribbons to add a little bit of extra detail and finished it off with a little label that said 'Mummy to be'. If I had known the exact due date I would've added this to the bump band as well. I made the bump band so that it could sit over the bump or be placed round the bump. I placed it at the head of the table for Beth to see when she arrived.

Baby shower - Mummy to be floral band

The colour theme of white and teal/mint came together across the balloons, table settings and decorations throughout the room. I wanted to keep the table simple and so I added a piece of linen as a simple table runner on top of a white table cloth. I bought coloured sheets of paper to brighten up the table and used them as placemats. I added striped napkins on top of the placemats and also tied ribbon onto two Bonne Maman jam jars, adding a tea light into each. For Beth's placemat I also cut out a border of baby feet using my paper punch and scattered the punched shapes onto the table as well as some baby themed table confetti.

Table decorations

As part of the day I wanted everyone to take away a little gift and so I made popcorn. Flavoured with sugar and cinnamon, I added a ladle full into a clear bag for each guest, securing with a small piece of curling ribbon and a label saying 'Ready to pop' as a fun touch.

Decorating with flowers

Alongside the handmade decorations I wanted the room to feel really special. For me adding vases of flowers always adds an extra pretty touch to a room. From a local flower stall I bought white flowers that I thought may work across a variety of vases I had. I bought 3 gladioli, a bunch of lillies, a bunch of gypsophila, a small bunch of stocks and a bunch of lisianthus. On the night before the baby shower I opened up each bunch and arranged the flowers into a few combinations of pretty displays. I placed the stocks into a jug by themselves and added them to the coffee table.

I created a small arrangement in an old mustard jar for the dining room table,

Table flowers

and I made two arrangements for the side board to fit the vases I had available.


Flower arrangment

I positioned the two biggest arrangements on the sideboard to help form a focal point for the room.

Baby Shower decorations 

Food and refreshments

Food is a really important element of any party. Using the numbers of guests as a guide I was able to plan a sit down summer lunch. I wanted it to be simple and so went for two courses, a main buffet course and pudding.

I was very conscious that a number of our friends had a range of dietary requirements, with a vegetarian friend, a dairy and gluten intolerant friend, and Beth's sister getting married a few weeks after the baby shower, I wanted to create a balance of food that everyone could eat. Initially I wanted to have an afternoon tea but decided to simplify this, finding healthy and easy things to make and drafting in some of our friends to bring things to add to the spread.

We had a variety of yummy salads, including a chickpea and roasted pepper salad, a courgette, mint and lentil salad, tomato and mozzarella, as well as a bowl of mixed salad leaves. Alongside the salads we had a mushroom frittata and bread. For the puddings I decided to have a variety of options available, both healthy and a little indulgent. To help save some time I bought a variety of mini cupcakes and gluten free cake slices, I made rainbow fruit skewers and also assembled little pastry cups with lemon curd flavoured creme fraiche topped with summer berries. We also had a side board full of small bowls of chocolates, bon bons and jelly babies for extra sweet snacks.

The drinks for the afternoon included prosecco, baby-friendly 'Celebration Shloer', Fentimans Rose Lemonade, Belvoir elderflower and rose presse and Belvoir elderflower cordial. The rose lemonade was served in small milk bottles with pastel pink striped straws, to work as an additional glass and add to the party vibe.

Cakes for baby shower 

Baby shower puddings


Baby shower activities

Beth's sister sourced some fantastic baby shower activities. There were a variety of activities from blind folded stick the bottle on the baby, to a game called deliver the babies where we had to be blindfolded and pull out the babies from a bowl of sweets. We also played guess the baby body part from baby scans, unscrambled nursery rhymes and a had a speedy word search to complete. They were fun to do especially to keep us all energised after lunch and sparked lots of baby related conversations too. Near the end of the afternoon we all completed message cards for the mum to be and we also had lovely personalised baby shower party bags to takeaway too.

Deciding on a baby shower gift

Instead of buying gifts for the baby, we decided to pool our money together and buy Beth something we knew that she would love. We thought that it would be special for Beth to have a gift of her own, as we knew that she would receive lots of gifts for her new arrival. Beth had spotted a changing bag whilst I was out shopping with her one day and had really loved it. I asked Beth if there were any special items that she would like and she gave me a small wishlist. The bag was listed on there and so we all contributed to the changing bag. I wrapped the bag in some pretty brown paper with yellow spots and added a bow and curling ribbon in a contrasting teal to match the theme.

Baby shower wrapping

Hosting a handmade baby shower at home and spending time crafting baby shower party decorations was so enjoyable. It was a project that really got me thinking and was a chance to create a range of handmade items in quite a short time. I was really pleased with how the afternoon turned out and how the small touches were important to the overall celebration and feel of the day. I hope that some of these ideas may have sparked a few thoughts if you are planning a baby shower or a party in the next few months.

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