Frugal Living

Cheap and easy, family friendly recipes that can be made in bulk, repurposing ideas, make not waste projects, cheap and easy ideas for things to make for your home and children.

Free gift at

Spend £20 or more at to receive an exclusive free 'Mum-to-Be on Board' car sign...

Free gift at
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, March 01, 2011 1:12 PM

Crafty warmth


Nestling under the duvet on a chilly winter's night with a great book, a mug of cocoa and a hot water bottle to toast your feet … Top textile designer Lisa Stickley shows you how to keep snug

Things you need

Medium weight cotton (I have recycled an old soft cotton curtain) for the main body, cut to size (see template below, where each square represents 5cm x 5cm).

4oz polyester wadding, cut 2cm smaller than the main body all the way round (see template – cut 1 front piece and 2 back pieces).

light weight fabric (cotton calico is ideal) for the lining, cut to the size (see template – cut 1 front piece and 2 back pieces).

1m length of bias binding (2.5cm wide)

What to do

Bond the panels and wadding

Lay the front outer fabric piece right side down on the ironing board. Lay the front wadding piece on top and then the front lining piece on top of that, rather like making a sandwich. With a hot iron, press the sandwich pile so it flattens the wadding slightly and loosely bonds the three layers together. Repeat for the two back pieces.

Add the bias binding

Cut two lengths of bias binding to slightly longer than the width of the back pieces. Fold these pieces of bias binding in half lengthwise. Slot one binding strip onto each of the straight edges of the back pieces. Pin in place. Stitch the bias binding in place, trapping all three layers neatly together. Backstitch at the start and finish to fasten the seam.

Join the panels

With right sides facing, lay the top back panel on to the front panel so the top edges line up. Then lay the bottom back panel on top of this so the two back panels overlap in the middle and the bottom edges of the back and front panels line up. Pin in place through all the layers. Starting at the bottom edge, stitch all the way with a 2cm seam allowance. For extra strength, backstitch a couple of times when sewing over the bound edges of the top and bottom back panels. Backstitch at the start and finish to fasten the seam.

Fill the cover with the hottie

Turn the hot-water bottle cover right side out, pushing out all the corners. boil the kettle, fill your hot-water bottle and slip it into the cover.


• Made At Home by Lisa Stickley is published by Quadrille, priced £16.99. Buy a copy from the Guardian Book Store. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Crafty warmth
Posted by OneProudMomma at Friday, November 12, 2010 6:25 PM

A crash course in shoemaking


Can a craft novice make a wearable pair of shoes, from scratch, in just one day? Rachel Dixon attends an ethical shoemaking workshop in Devon to find out

"It's so stressful!" "I've got a headache from concentrating so hard!" "My hand's cramping up from gripping the knife so tightly!" We might have been a tense team of surgeons, embarked on an all-day operation. In actual fact, we were a group of women learning to make shoes. And it was exhausting.

I am not the crafty type. I admire those who are, and I find their exploits inspirational - but not quite inspirational enough to have a go myself. There always seems to be something better to do (sorry, crafters). But then I was invited on a shoemaking workshop in Devon, and what, I thought, could be better than spending a relaxing day learning a new skill in a converted mill by the river Dart? Little did I know that "relaxing" would not be quite the right word.

The workshops are run by Green Shoes, a Devon-based company that makes all of its shoes, sandals and boots by hand, using traditional methods and sustainable materials. The company was set up in the 1970s, but has since shed its hippy image and moved seamlessly into the design-conscious 21st century. While ethics remain at the forefront of the business, style matters more than ever - a collaboration with designer Lu Flux even led to Green Shoes walking down the catwalk at London fashion week in February.

But back to the workshop. The first job for the novice shoemaker is to pick a style to recreate. This is no easy job for the footwearphile: two of us spent a good hour cooing over the shoes and trying them all on. Then there's the colour, from boring black to daring gold, or even a wacky multicoloured shoe. Then the material: leather, eco-tan leather or vegan faux-leather? Finally, the sole - to wedge, or not to wedge? I was torn between the brogue-like Teasel shoe and the crossed-lace Willow shoe, but eventually I plumped for a dark brown gladiator-style sandal in soft eco-leather. It looked stylish, comfortable and, hopefully, easy to make.

Alison Hastie, the co-founder of Green Shoes, was on hand to guide us through the shoemaking process, as was Becky Marshall, a young designer/maker (all the staff are involved with every aspect of the business, unlike most shoe companies where the workers have been de-skilled). Our first job was draw out the pattern and cut out the leather pieces. This was incredibly nerve-wracking - I didn't want to make a mess and waste the precious leather - but got easier as I grew in confidence. Besides, any lumps and bumps caused by shaky hands could be snipped into shape with sharp scissors later.

Then the shoemaking was underway in earnest, as we lined, glued, stitched and steamed; made holes, soles and buckles. Stamping the holes in the straps was especially satisfying, as was riveting on the buckles and pounding the last into the shoes with a hammer. We paused for lunch and the odd biscuit break, but otherwise worked solidly from 10am-6pm.

And as we worked, we talked. There were a handful of women on the course (no men), from the unskilled - me - to the hardcore crafter. All abilities were catered for, with extra guidance given to those who needed it - also me. I had rather a lot of help with the big, scary sewing machine, while others merrily stitched away without a second thought. We were all there for different reasons: birthday present; charity auction prize; new challenge.

As 6 o'clock struck, we put the finishing touches on our handiwork. Everyone congratulated everyone else and told each other how pleased they must be, while looking pleased as punch themselves. I couldn't believe how well my sandals had turned out. I insisted on wearing them straight away, even rolling my jeans up to better show them off. I stayed that way all evening, during drinks and dinner in Totnes, much to my boyfriend's embarrassment. That night I slept more soundly than I had in weeks, despite being in a tent on rather hard ground. I think it was the exhaustion of a difficult job well done, though it could have been the wine.

In the days that followed, I willed friends to compliment me on my new shoes, so I could smugly inform them that I had made them myself. Several did, and were gratifyingly astonished. The warm glow of achievement stayed with me a long time, and I had an inkling of why so many people are part of the 'make your own' movement. I've even tried a couple of little craft projects myself, such as converting a badly fitting dress into a well-fitting skirt.

But the main thing I took away from the day was a greater appreciation of traditional shoemakers. I now know what a lot of skill and hard work goes into each and every pair.

The lowdown

The next shoemaking workshops will take place at Green Shoes in Buckfastleigh, Devon, on 25 September, 30 October and 20 November. A one-day course costs £175, and a two-day bootmaking course is £350. Visit, call 01364 644036, or email for more information.

More traditional British shoemakers

Bill Bird Shoes
Bespoke leather footwear for people with fitting and walking difficulties, handmade in the Cotswolds.

Brodequin Shoemakers
Handmade leather footwear and bags, designed and made to order in Teignmouth, Devon.

Handmade leather shoes made to order in Totnes, Devon.

Vegan shoes, handmade to order in the north-east of England.

Galloway Footwear
Shoes and clogs made by hand in a small, family-run workshop in Scotland.

James Taylor & Son
Handmade shoes from English oak bark-tanned leather.

John Cornforth
Made-to-measure, handsewn men's shoes from British and Italian leather.

Phil Howard
Traditional British clogs and leatherwork, handmade in Stockport.

Simple Way
Handmade in the north-east by a small family business.

• Additional research by Niamh Griffin © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

A crash course in shoemaking

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:17 AM

Cabbage can beat period pain... and other home remedies that really work


These natural remedies may have some medical credence, according to a new book by Rob Hicks, a GP and hospital doctor.

Cabbage can beat period pain... and other home remedies that really work

The remedies in the article are extracted from the following book

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:09 AM

How to deal with mounting debt

It isn't just the Duchess of York who is struggling with debt and taking steps to avoid bankruptcy.

How to deal with mounting debt

Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, August 10, 2010 6:05 AM

The war on weeds


Stop weeds wreaking havoc on your allotment, says Alys Fowler. Some can go on the compost heap, and some make a tasty lunch ...

The war on weeds
Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:38 PM

How to make a zip-up purse


Turn leftover fabric into a neat little purse. It's quick, easy and economical, says Perri Lewis

Sometimes I just want to whip something up in half an hour, rather than slave over a project for weeks on end. So what's the best thing to make? For me, it's those little fabric purses that you'd pay a tenner for if you bought one from Accessorize. It puts small and otherwise useless fabric pieces to good use, and it's a brilliant stand-by gift for a lovely lady of any age.

You've got plenty of variations on the standard instructions all over the interweb: this one on the CRAFT blog has a zip on the side; this one on Skip To My Lou is lined; and U Handbag's tutorial has a rather neat travel card pouch on the side.

However, I reckon this method is the quickest and easiest. Using upholstery fabric means that your purse will be sturdier and more hardwearing than if you used cotton (although, of course, you can use whatever non-stretchy fabric you fancy), and cutting it with pinking shears means you don't have to worry about hemming and neat seams and all that fiddly stuff. And if you've never had the confidence to sew in a zip before, this is a cracking little project to start off with.

What it costs

I forked out £30 for my pinking shears because I wanted to invest in a decent pair, but you can pick them up for £9.99 in Argos. A short plastic zip can be bought for about a pound if you go to a market stall, or around £2.50 from a high-street haberdashery. I used scraps of upholstery fabric, left over from some bunting I made for my mum, using one of my last tutorials. It was originally £7 a metre from John Lewis.

What you need

Upholstery fabric
Pinking shears
Sewing machine, zipper foot and thread/needle and thread
Embellishments: buttons, sequins etc to decorate (optional)

What to do

1. Buy a zip that is as long as you want your purse to be wide, or a little longer (you can shorten a zip easily using this tutorial).

2. Cut your fabric using pinking shears. You need two pieces that are the same size. The width should be 2cm longer than the zip, and the height 2cm longer than you want the final purse to be.

3. On one piece of fabric, fold one long side over 1cm and iron the fold in place.

4. Pin one long side of the zip to the edge you just folded. The fabric should be about 2mm from the zip's teeth.

5. Sew the zip in place (using a zipper foot if you have a machine, or using a strong needle and thread and a backstitch if you don't).

6. Repeat steps three, four and five with the other piece of fabric. When laid flat, your purse will look like a zip with a piece of fabric sewn on either side.

7. Do the zip up. Position the purse so the right sides of the fabric are facing. Pin them together. Make sure the tops of the two pieces of fabric are aligned so the purse is nice and neat when you sew it up.

8. Sew down each side of the fabric, 1cm from the edge. Unzip the zip.

9. Sew the long bottom shut, again, 1cm from the edge.

10. Turn the purse the right way round. Use a chopstick or pencil to poke the corners out (if they don't make a nice right angle, chop the corner off the inside seam).

11. Decorate if you fancy (and have the time).

• Perri blogs about making stuff at © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to make a zip-up purse
Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:37 PM

Make your own table linen


Appliqué is an easy way to completely transform a plain, vintage tablecloth into something contemporary and stylish

Appliqué is an easy way to completely transform a plain, vintage tablecloth into something contemporary and stylish, and at the same time cover up any stains! You could also use a vintage linen or heavy cotton sheet – I used an embroidered Swiss cotton sheet which was in perfect condition and wonderfully heavy. If you want to start with new fabric, organic cotton sheeting is ideal – it is extra wide, 2.85m/112in., so you can easily buy a piece big enough for even the largest dining table.

What you need

A hand sewing kit
Safety pins
Items to use as circle templates – plates, jars, CDs
Large piece of organic cotton, vintage tablecloth or vintage sheet
Scraps of medium-weight, washable fabrics which don't fray too much
Embroidery threads

Note: You may prefer to iron lightweight interfacing onto the fabric scraps before cutting them out. It stops the fabrics from fraying and wrinkling

How to make it

1. Pre-wash the base fabric and all the scraps you use for this project as you don't want colours running in the wash. Also use a dye grabber when you wash, to catch any excess. Wash and iron the tablecloth/sheet/fabric. Mark any stains with safety pins so you can easily find them to cover with appliqué. If you are using new fabric, cut to the required size and hem all the edges.

2. Cut circles from medium-weight fabrics in a range of different sizes, from 6-20cm/21/2-8in. I used about 60 for this project. Spread out the cloth and pin the circles in a nice arrangement over the cloth, covering any stains if necessary. Pin in place, again using safety pins.

3. Starting at one side of the cloth, sew the circles down. Sew around the edges of each circle using either slipstitch (a) or blanket stitch (b). Slipstitch is much faster, so it depends how long you are prepared to work on the tablecloth! Tack or use more pins if required and smooth out each circle to ensure it doesn't wrinkle as you sew. Press when all the appliqués are attached.

It is quick and easy to make vintage linen napkins to match by sewing just a few small circles onto one corner of each napkin.

Buy Sew Eco: Sewing Sustainable and Re-Used Materials at the Guardian bookshop © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Make your own table linen
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, July 20, 2010 10:45 AM

How To Upholster A Cheap Chair


Reupholstery and a little TLC can transform a cheap chair into a statement piece of furniture. In this extract from Revive!, a new book on recycled interiors, Jacqueline Mulvaney shows you how

Try working with a piece of furniture that you find at an auction house or junk shop. When I talk about furniture picked up at auction, I'm not talking antiques. Consult your telephone directory to find a saleroom in a small town rather than one in a big city, which can be a lot pricier. Most sales have preview days, and it's worth having a browse and looking closely at any pieces that catch your eye.

Check for basic soundness: is it fit for purpose, is it riddled with woodworm, is it more trouble than it's worth?

I have found a wooden-framed chair with a back and seat that need replacing. The chair is a lovely shape and will work well with my other furniture. It's not an old piece, cost just £8, and as it only needs stripping and small areas of fabric replacing it's perfect in terms of time.

Obviously, if you are feeling brave and have the time you might well want to try something more ambitious. If you decide to use a chair, try to find a chair with a removable seat.

What you need

Old chair
Paint stripper
Rubber gloves
Furniture wax or limewax
Tracing paper or pattern paper
Upholstery tacks
Sewing machine
Embroidery thread
Textile or craft adhesive
Staple gun (optional)

What to do: Stripping and cleaning

Before I strip and clean the chair I'm going to remove the pieces of fabric so I can use them as patterns. The chair has been coated with a thick, dark varnish and is generally a bit grubby. I'm using a product called Nitromors, which is a powerful paint stripper. If you are going to use a substance such as this you need to work outside or with very good ventilation. Wear a mask and rubber gloves, keep it away from pets and children and try not to splash it on your skin. Just follow the instructions and you'll be fine.

I'm going to wax my chair once I've finished removing the old varnish; this will bring out the grain and protect the wood. You can also limewax your piece; this will stain your furniture slightly and give it a chalky appearance. Limewax can be purchased from most good DIY stores or picture framers.


Try to use the existing upholstery as patterns for your new cover. Think about the type of fabric you are going to choose. I want this chair to be functional rather than merely decorative, so delicate fabrics won't work. As the areas to be recovered aren't huge I'm going to treat myself and buy some fabric. This is cheating, I know, but the website I'm going to use to source my fabric specialises in reclaimed fabrics. It's run by a lady called Donna Flower who is incredibly knowledgable, her website is a pleasure to use and she is constantly adding new fabrics. As I only need a metre of fabric and the chair was so cheap I think I can justify this little diversion.


Using tracing paper or pattern paper make yourself a pattern. Cut out your shapes from your selected fabric. I need to ensure that I cut sufficient material to allow me to pull it taut over the chair frame, but I don't need to hem the fabric because any uneven edges will be hidden by the trim.

My next step is to replace the seat cover and back of my chair. Starting with the chair back I am going to secure the fabric with upholstery tacks. As the tacks are visible I'm going to create a trim to cover this edge.


Taking a bundle of ribbon, I'm going to join a variety of lengths and widths to make enough to fit around the fabric on the back.

When you have the desired length of trim, set your sewing machine to embroidery mode. Using contrasting machine embroidery thread, stitch a trailing motif along the length of your ribbon. Don't feel you have to use an embroidery hoop for this; any distortion created through stitching will add rather than detract from your final trim. Using a good quality textile or craft adhesive, stick your finished trim in place. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

Fitting the seat cover requires the fabric to be stretched tightly across the pad making certain that the corners are neat. If the seat is removable, then take it out first. Pin the fabric in place as you work before tacking the fabric in place on the underside. The new seat can now be replaced. If you want to you can use a staple gun to secure the new fabric to the base. It's sometimes easier to get a tighter, more professional finish if you staple rather than tack. You should now have a unique piece of furniture which is both useful and lovely.

• Revive! Inspired Interiors from Recycled Materials is published on 10 May © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to reupholster a cheap chair
Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, July 18, 2010 12:01 PM

Tea Cosy Craft


Brighten up the breakfast table with a handcrafted tea cosy. Top textile designer Lisa Stickley shows you how

Tea, cake and a little Herbie Hancock on the radio in the background are all particular favourites of mine. This is a nice easy project to ensure that your tea will be steamy hot even after the cake is gone!

What you need

1 sheet of paper or newspaper, A3 or larger

2 semicircular pieces of mediumweight cotton for main body (I have used a damask)

2 semi-circular pieces of lightweight cotton for lining

1 rectangular piece of cotton for loop, 4cm x 10cm or thereabouts

2 semi-circular pieces of 4oz polyester wadding for insulation

What to do

Click here to download some helpful illustrations (pdf)

Step one: Cut out the pieces

To make sure the cosy fits, lay your teapot on its side on to a large piece of paper. Draw a semicircle around the teapot, adding an extra 5cm on all sides to make the pattern for the main body and lining. To cut out an even shape, fold the semi-circle down the centre lengthwise and use the best drawn line as the cutting guide. Using this paper pattern, cut out the fabric for the main body and lining. Cut the wadding 4cm smaller than the template all the way round.

Step two: Make the loop

Fold a 1cm hem on each long side of the fabric piece and press. Fold the fabric down the middle lengthwise so the two turned edges meet. Press and pin. Stitch along the open side, stitching as close to the edge as possible for a neat finish. Backstitch at the start and finish to fasten the seam. Stitch the same line along the opposite side to finish the loop.

Step three: Make the main body

Place the two main body pieces right sides together. Fold the prepared loop in half and sandwich it between the two main body pieces at the centre top, with the raw edges of the loop in line with the raw edges of the main body. Pin in place. Pin the two body pieces together along the curved edge. Stitch together with a 5mm seam allowance, catching the loop into the seam as you sew. Fold a 1cm hem over to the wrong side around the base and press, but don't stitch this just yet. Turn the tea cosy right side out.

Step four: Make the lining

Place the two lining pieces right sides together. Pin in place along the curved edge. Stitch together with a 5mm seam allowance. Press. Fold a 2cm hem over to the wrong side around the base and press, but don't stitch this just yet.

Step five: Finish the tea cosy

With wrong sides together, slot the lining inside the main body. On each side sandwich a cut piece of wadding in between the main body and lining and flatten into place. Pin the base of the main body to the lining, making sure the pressed hem is neatly lined up and any stray bits of wadding are tucked in. Stitch the base together all the way around, stitching as close to the edge of the hem as possible for a neat finish.

Put the kettle on for a cup of tea, and I recommend a generous slice of angel cake!

• Made At Home by Lisa Stickley is published by Quadrille, priced £16.99. Buy a copy from the Guardian Book Store. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Tea cosy craft
Posted by OneProudMomma at Friday, June 18, 2010 10:40 AM

How to embellish an outfit on the cheap.


Embellishment is bang on trend right now. Work the style on a budget by making your own bows and roses, with a little help from Perri Lewis

There are some things that I assume everyone can make given a needle and thread and a spare 15 minutes. Not so, it seems. Simple bows allude even the most handy of my friends, and as for fabric roses (you know the ones I mean - a quick rummage around the high street and you'll find plenty stuck on brooches, hair bands and all manner of accessories) - I know far too many people who have forked out far too much for them to spruce up an outfit when they could have just whipped one up for themselves.

So if you'd rather save a few pennies for ice-creams this summer, master these two basics and you can play around embellishing everything from bags to bikinis with just a few scraps of fabric. And if you're an old hand at all this, what other simple projects would you suggest for beginners who want to renovate their summer wardrobes?

How to make a basic bow

What you need

Small piece of fabric
A needle and thread
Clip/brooch back (optional)
Adhesive (for use on fabric and metal, optional)

What to do

1. Cut a long strip of fabric twice as wide and twice and tall as you want the final bow to be.

2. With the fabric right side down, fold the long top edge in to the middle. Pin it in place.

3. Fold the long bottom edge in to the middle. Pin it in place.

4. Fold one of the short edges in to the middle. Pin it in place.

5. Fold the other short edge in to the middle. Pin in place again.

6. Thread a needle with two strands of thread and sew two lines of running stitches. If you want a super-large bow, you may need to use two strands of thread rather than one.

7. Pull one end of the threads to gather.

8. Tie a knot in the end to keep the fabric gathered in place.

9. To make the middle, cut a small strip of fabric. Fold one long edge in to the middle (as in step two), then fold the other edge up to meet it. Iron to keep the fold in place. Wrap this around the centre of your bow and stitch in place.

Optional extra: Rose clip/brooch

I sewed my bow on to a clip, or you could glue it on with an adhesive that will stick both fabric and metal. You can do the same with a brooch back to make a brooch.

How to make a simple rose

What you need

Small piece of fabric
A needle and thread
Netting (optional)
Hair band (optional)

What to do

1. Cut a long strip of fabric - the longer the piece, the fuller the rose will be.

2. Fold the fabric in half lengthways. Pin in place.

3. Sew a running stitch along the bottom edge of the strip. As with the bow, for a big rose, use two strands of thread.

4. Gather the fabric up in sections along the strip (this will make the rose look better in the end).

5. Wrap this strip around and around itself to create the rose, either stitching the layers together as you go, or once you're happy with the result.

Optional extra: Rose headband

Before I wrapped the rose up (step five), I cut a piece of netting that was the same size and sewed it on to the strip. I then wrapped it up, sewing after I was happy with the shape, and added an extra piece of netting on the bottom to cover my messy stitches. I sewed this on to a gold hair band I found in Asda for a rather tasty three-for-a-pound.

• Perri writes about making stuff at © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to embellish an outfit on the cheap
Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, June 13, 2010 11:56 AM

How to make slippers from jeans


If your favourite jeans have seen better days, turn them into some stylish slippers. The doyenne of denim, Nancy Minsky, shows you how

I am the Jean Girl - I patch, mend and refashion denim in all kinds of special ways. Handcrafting old jeans, with style and imagination, can give your wardrobe a burst of fresh fashion without the designer expense.

The appealingly soft textures and faded colours of worn denim make it the perfect fabric to sew into "new" things. So yank those long-forgotten jeans out from the back of your closet and discover what you can create!

If you have intermediate sewing skills then you can easily stitch yourself a pair of proper denim slippers. When you're finished, slip your feet into these soft, soothing slippers and pad around your home feeling lovely and comfy. Or just put your feet up and glow with satisfaction while you gaze at your resourceful - and chic - handiwork.

What you need

Pair of old, cast-off jeans
25cm wadding
25cm iron-on fusing
Piece of thin cardboard (not the corrugated type), about 30x30cm
Two pattern pieces
Around 60cm ribbon (I've used pink and white gingham)
Blue thread (choose a shade that matches your denim)
Straight pins
Pencil/tailor's chalk
Needle and thread/sewing machine

What to do

Step one: Prepare the pattern

Print out the pattern pieces and enlarge to the right size. To check the size, stand barefoot on the sole pattern. The edge of the pattern should extend about 2cm beyond your foot.

Step two: Cut the denim

• Cut the legs off your jeans and cut them open along the inside seam. Lay them flat on the table.

• Using the pattern, cut one sole piece and one upper piece from one of the legs. Worn denim has many colour variations. Use your favorite shades of blue, especially for the top upper, which will be the most visible. Draw on the stitching lines using a pencil or tailor's chalk. Turn the paper pattern over, then cut one more of each piece from the same leg. Mark with pencil or tailor's chalk as before.

• Repeat this last step using the other jean leg. You'll now have eight pieces of denim. For a more professional look, cut the pieces so that your left and right slippers are a good colour match.

Step three: Cut the other pattern pieces

• Using the paper patterns, cut two pieces of the sole and two pieces of the upper out of the wadding.

• Again, using the paper patterns, cut the same four pieces out of the iron-on fusing.

• Using just the sole pattern, cut two pieces from the cardboard. These now need to be trimmed, so they are 1.5cm smaller than the pattern all the way around.

• Now to get organised: put all your left pieces into one pile and all the right pieces into another pile.

Step 4: Sew the upper

• Start with the left upper. Place the left denim upper piece on to a flat surface, right side down. Following instructions on the fusing packet, iron it to the wrong side of this denim piece.

• Take the wadding and sandwich it between the two denim pieces - the right side of the denim pieces should face out. Pin these three pieces together.

• Temporarily sew these pieces together using long, easily-removable stitches (this is called "basting"). Remove the pins, then stitch all around the perimeter, 1.5cm from the edge, as marked in figure A.

• Sew a running stitch (red thread in figure A) on the toe, as marked on the pattern (later it will be pulled to form gathers.)

• Repeat all of this with the right upper.

Step five: Prepare the sole

• Start with the left sole. Place the left denim sole piece on to a flat surface, right side down. Following instructions on the fusing packet, iron it to the wrong side of this denim piece.

• Stitch a running stitch on the toes of both denim sole pieces as marked on the pattern and figure B (later they will be pulled to form gathers.)

Step six: Sew the upper to the sole

• This step is rather cumbersome, but don't despair - it all works out and in the end you'll have a durable and comfortable slipper.

• Start with the left slipper. Lay the wadding on the table and align the denim sole on top (the upper one), right side facing up.

• Align the upper on top, right side facing up, as noted with blue thread in figure C. Pin and baste together.

• Align the other denim sole on top, with the fusing facing up.

• Pin, baste (those temporary stitches), remove pins and stitch around the 1.5cm seam allowance, as marked in figure D. Back stitch and knot thread ends.

• Remove the basting, and clip and trim the seam allowance.

• Turn the sole right-side out, wiggling it through the toe.

• Take something long (I used a chopstick, but the end of a pencil or even a pair of scissors will also work well), slip it inside, and nudge the seam into a nice smooth edge.

• Slide the cardboard inside, between the lower sole and the wadding. If it's a squeeze to slip the cardboard inside, fold it a bit. Don't worry, it will flatten out and will still be supportive.

• Repeat with the right sole.

Step seven: Finish the toe

• Starting with the left foot, pull the running stitches you added earlier on the sole so it curls naturally around the cardboard toe. Knot the ends of the thread so that it stays in place.

• Pull the running stitches on the upper so it matches the shape of sole.

• Tuck the seam allowance inside the toe and hand-stitch the toe closed with little neat backstitches.

• Repeat with the right foot.

Step eight: Adorn your slippers

• Cut the ribbon into four pieces of equal length.

• Pin two pieces on the left slipper front, about 6.5cm apart with a 1.5cm fold back. Hand-stitch in place along the folded edge, following figure E.

• Tie into a snug bow.

• Cut the ribbon ends at a diagonal.

• Repeat with the right slipper.

• Knot all threads securely.

• Alternatively, adorn them with feathers and beads, pretty buttons, different fabric mixes or fabric flowers. Search through your sewing basket to find the right combination that reflects your personal style.

More information

Visit Nancy's website where you can find her blogs, 21centurydressmakers and jeanrepair; read about her eco-chic DIY book filled with denim clothes and accessories; and download her fabulous monthly fashion screensavers. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to make slippers from jeans
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, May 18, 2010 12:02 PM

Tea Towel Watch.


Trendy tea towels are wasted on the dishes. Product designer Andy Murray explains how to turn one into a watch instead

Everyone has tea towels in the kitchen drawer, perhaps from a holiday in Spain, a wet weekend visit to a castle, or even a stylish present from a design-conscious friend. Some tea towels are so quirky, or such good quality, that it's a shame to hide them away. I've made a collection of handmade, personal items from tea towels, including bags, wallets and belts. The instructions below explain how to make a watch - I hope you're inspired to give it a go!

What you need

An old but working watch face
A tea towel with a hem around the edges
Sharp scissors
Pen or pencil
A 30cm ruler
Fabric glue
Clothes pegs
Popper studs (from a good craft shop)

Getting started

Set all the things you are going to need on a large flat surface, such as the kitchen table. Lay out the tea towel face down, making sure there are no creases.

Step one

• Measure the watch pin.
• Measure the watch face.
• Decide how wide you want the strap. It's up to you, as long as it's the same size or bigger than the pins.
• Mark out on the tea towel the width of strap you want, three times, adding a 1cm hem around each edge.
• Measure your wrist, then make the strap 5cm longer.

Step two

• Draw out the strap on the tea towel. Draw it three times, as it's going to be folded over three times for strength.
• Add a 1cm hem to the edges if there are not any on the original tea towel.

Step three

• Glue along the long hem on all necessary edges.

• Fold 1cm hems towards the centre.

Step four

• Glue along the top edge.
• Fold along line the top dotted line (see picture, left).
• Glue along the bottom edge, fold along the lower dotted line, so the top and bottom edge meet.
• Hold in place with clothes pegs and leave to dry.

Step five

• Mark out the watch face holder.
• The width is 4mm smaller than the watch pins.
• Cut out double this width, as it's going to be folded over.
• The length is about 10cm, but alter if needed.

Step six

• Glue along the edges, folding towards the centre.
• Make sure the width is still smaller than the pins.
• Glue and fold 1cm of each edge.
• Leave to dry, holding in place with clothes pegs.

Step seven

• Position the watch face in the place you would like it on the face holder (with the tea towel pattern facing the same way as the watch face).
• Attach the face, clipping the pins in place.

Step eight

• Glue the face holder in the centre of the strap.

• Hold in place with clothes pegs and leave to dry.

Step nine

• Using pop studs, glue them in a position that fits your wrist.

• To make it more secure, try sewing the studs on, or try different ways of fixing.

Step 10

• Leave to dry before wearing.
• Ensure fasteners are attached before wearing to ensure the watch doesn't fall off.

Why not try ...?

• Using different sections of the tea towels to create interesting straps.
• Finding unique tea towels to make your watch more personal.
• Stitching parts on to add detail.
• Using different fastening methods.

More tea towel projects can be found in Andy's book, Made by, £8.95 at Find more of Andy's design work at © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Crafty chap
Posted by OneProudMomma at Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:59 AM