Re-useful #5: pallet project the third

I knew that I needed to build some planters for my saffron crocus corms, and had seen a few different pallet planters on pinterest that had given me a some ideas.The pallets I received were all different sizes and designs, so the first thing I did was to sort them into piles according to their type. This informed my final designs.

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I decided to use the heaviest pallets with curved edges for my planters. They looked like this:

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First thing I did was to cut out the middle section:

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Set that aside for later. Now, use plates to fasten the two end pieces together. I used rectangles on either end, and corners on the middle centre, two each top and bottom:

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Now attach your lining. I tried two different styles here, one hessian sacking, the other landscaping fabric I dug up from my allotment. I prefer the landscaping fabric overall, as the hessian doesn’t seem particularly sturdy.

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You can use whatever you have to hand here – small screws, nails or upholstery tacks, or easiest of all, a staple gun if you have one! I don’t, so used a combination of screws and nails, as came to hand!

Now go back to that middle bit and cut away two of the crossbars. You can measure and cut these to size, or do as I did, attach first and saw to size afterwards for a perfect fit!

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Use long screws to attach these to the top-most ends. These should trap your lining as well as making the whole structure sturdier.

Now, the rest is optional, but I added additional structure into the ends of my last planter:

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I also used a couple of old leather belts to make handles on each end, as these will be easier to move to the front gates once they are in bloom!

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Then I used the stencil font on word to print out the words SAFFRON CROCUS onto plain paper. I attached a couple of strips of wide double-sided tape to the back before using my exacto knife to cut them out:

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 This made it especially easy to spray paint the planters, as the double-sided tape adhered to the wood.

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And there you have it! Oh, and that leftover piece from the middle? Ideal for raising plan pots off the ground to deter slugs and protect a little from ground frosts.

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Felt-inspiration

On Boxing Day we all embarked on a family walk. Halfway down the drive, Dapper pointed out the roots of a huge, old tree, overlooking the pond. The tree was tilting over, and the roots starting to lift from the ground.

The tree had to come down that very afternoon – or risk ripping up the entire driveway! It was quite an exciting spectacle! It fell into the pond with an almighty splash, creating waves of water that lapped into the meadow. It was left there for the time being, and soon became a favourite roost for the ducks.

Last week, the winch finally came to lift the tree from the pond. It had disturbed the natural balance of the water, and needed to be removed, although some larger branches were left behind for the ducks, moorhens and heron to enjoy. Dragged out into the meadow, it quickly dried in the hot sun. Dapper and I took the boys out to inspect the remains.

I was amazed by just how much the dried pondweed resembled felted wool and fibres! It was utterly beautiful, and naturally, I took a bazillion photos. Here are some of my favourites!

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40 minute stash-buster: tea-towel organiser

I’m sure I’m not the only person who spent Easter have a jolly good sort-out. Amongst other things, I found a stack of tea towels, set aside as just too nice to be used to dry dishes, and amongst them were a pair of Hope and Greenwood tea towels I was given as a gift. As I wondered what I could use them other than dish-drying, inspiration struck.

Since the boys arrived, we have constantly found ourselves scrabbling to find a handy home for their shoes, socks, hats, bubbles – general outdoorsy bits and bobs, as well as our own slippers, my gardening gloves, welly socks, etc etc etc. I thought an organiser to hand beside the front door would answer all our needs, and look pretty to boot!

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To make your own, you will need:

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2 tea towels and some doweling or cane cut to size. You don’t have to have two identical tea towels – one plain for the back and a patterned front would work nicely!

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Scissors, cotton, some cord or ribbon, pins, and not shown: a tape measure/ruler and sewing machine.

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Begin by unpicking the top of your backing towel. If you have two identical towels, check the size, and use the slightly narrower of the two for the back.

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Once you’ve unpicked the top, fold the hem back over the cane, and pin in place. Machine across, leaving the ends open to slide the cane through.

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Now, measure your top tea towel and divide into three roughly equal sections. If, like mine, your towels have a pattern that looks better divided up slightly unevenly, go for it! Unless you’re making your divider for a particular purpose, in which case you’ll need to stick strictly to your measurements.

Unpick the side and bottom seams – leave the top in place. Hem the top of the two lower sections.

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Measure and mark the base tea towel with three equal sections, line up the three sections you’ve cut and hemmed, and fold downwards to pin in place. Sew with two rows of machine stitch approx. 1/4″ apart.

Now pin the side seams and machine top-stitch up both sides. Where you’ve unpicked the seams you should find you’ve a pressed-under edge, which will give you a neat finish. You should also have bought yourself a little give for the pockets – line up the edges at this point and don’t worry about the top lying flat against the back.

Now measure across the tea towel and split into three again (or, again, more/less if you have a different or particular use in mind). Machine top-stitch up each of the two dividing lines to create three pockets for each section.

Finally, push your dowel through the seamed top. If you’re using dowel you may want to drill a couple of holes to feed your cord through for a professional finish, or create grooves with a file to hold your cord in place. I used cane, and used a hand saw to create a split in either end, then slid the cord through before knotting.

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And voila – one organiser!

I think this is great for storing the odds and ends we need daily by the front door, but it could also be used in pretty much any room in the house…

  • Hang it on the back of the bathroom door to hold toiletries or make-up…
  • Or in the kitchen to hold your most-used cooking utensils.
  • Make one for a new mum, to hang on the cot end/cot-top-changer for nappies and paraphernalia…
  • Or use a single tea towel, fold up the bottom and weight the top to create a handy remote-control store.
  • Hang one in a wardrobe to keep your flip-flops and ballet-flats in pairs…
  • Or to hold rolled-up belts, socks and ties.
  • Make one for a crafter to hold their haberdashery goods…
  • Or for a knitter, with dedicated pockets to hold needles, yarn and patterns.
  • Use twine in place of cord and make one for a gardener to hang in the shed holding their twine, secateurs, gloves, a trowel and hand-fork, seed packets, a dibber…
  • Or find a tea towel with a herb theme and make double pockets to hold seed packets alongside herb plants – could be hung outside or inside depending on space, for a handy vertical kitchen herb garden!

Let me know how you would use it!

Mother’s Day makes

Yes, I know that Mother’s Day was a little while back, but although I began planning this project in February, I didn’t get started until the week after Mother’s Day. I had good intentions… but you know what they say about those!

CIMG9338I may have been a little slow to start because the initial planning stages required the application of trigonometry. It has been a long time since GCSE maths, but a quick google refreshed my memory that the diameter of a circle could be calculated by the circumference ÷ π. Which was much simpler than I remember it!

My Mum had been pinning knitter’s totes like a woman obsessed, and turning up weekly at ours with a carrier bag of wool and needles, so I knew exactly what I wanted to make. But I also knew from my own experience that I wanted to tweak things a little, to make one unlike any I’d seen online.

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See that second tote? That slips in to the top of the large tote holding your current project’s ball of wool. All the remaining wool for your project sits neatly underneath, untangled and out of harm’s way until needed…

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There are a few tweaks I’ll need to make before selling these – I’d like to make it maybe an inch taller and check my measurements, as the taller pockets don’t line up perfectly at the seam. But otherwise, I’m chuffed to bits with this project! And I think Mummy was too.

30 minute stash-busting shoe bag

BEFORE:

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Our shoe shelves are a good idea in theory. When we first put them up with our shoes neatly aligned, they looked smart. But we all know that shoes don’t stay neatly aligned – they get taken off and chucked, unceremoniously wherever they’ll stay put without sliding onto the floor. They get pulled from the bottom of the pile, without a care for those piled atop them or where they might end up. In short, they look something of a mess.

30 minutes and a patchwork of upholstery fabric from my stash later, and I have a soft fabric bag, suspended from the shelves above by ribbons, to  hold all of my slippers, sandals and ballet shoes neatly out of sight. I could have quilted this to give it more structure, or used card or plastic to stiffen it, but I wanted something I can chuck into the washing machine without worrying too much about it. Because shoes get mucky, y’know?

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Job done!

Over the rainbow!

I have wanted these rainbow-coloured storage baskets from Jojo Maman Bebe since the moment I first saw them. They have been on the baby wishlist since before the boys were born, whilst I have waited patiently for them to enter each sale over the last year, only to be disappointed. And still I have refused to spend £45 on toy storage just because, well, it’s pretty!

But then, thanks to my new addiction to pinterest, I stumbled across this completely divine basket tutorial:

And I thought to myself, hang on – perhaps I could make these instead?

My first attempt used too many different weight wools, proved once again that I really struggle to follow patterns, and left me with a floppy, misshapen basket which I was delighted to discover was the perfect fit to line my yarn WIP basket. No more catching on errant wicker = result, albeit not the intended…

My second attempt worked out much better as I worked by feel rather than following the tutorial to the letter, but I was still getting a slight step in my rings. Probably of no concern to anyone but me, and a good way to use up some extra balls of wool I had lying about from a previous project, this basket is now in use storing some of the twins’ cuddly toy collection.

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The handles still didn’t seem secure enough to withstand baby paws, but I had had an idea to fix that. After two practice rounds, I finally felt ready to tackle the rainbow!

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The wool for these cost me £25.06 from local online yarnery The Wool Warehouse, plus they took a couple of evenings to make, BUT I got three of a similar, useful size out of this, rather than three odd sizes that might have proved too big or small for purpose.

CIMG9279I have enough yarn left for at least one more basket, should I need it. I made the lining and handles from my stash – bits left over from the book sling, in fact, with the fab dinosaur pattern. I can’t resist a dinosaur!

I used two strands of Stylecraft Special chunky held together in Lipstick, Camel*, Lemon, Meadow, Aster, Royal and Lavender. I would have like to use Patons Fab Big, as my practice rounds had shown that this created a lovely, firm structure, but they didn’t have the colours I was looking for – in fact, I was surprised how difficult it proved to get hold of brightly coloured  super chunky wools. Most seem to be quite neutral, tweedy colours – perfect for blankets or cowls, but no fun at all for a baby’s room!

CIMG9278I think these would be a great way to turn old t-shirts-turned-yarn into storage for the kids – perhaps a good use for some of those threadbare fitted jersey cot sheets? And plarn versions would be really great for storing outdoor water-play or sand box toys in the shed, or even for sorting the recycling…

Not worth £45, perhaps, but most certainly worth the effort!

*The camel, was actually a bit too beigey for the rainbow, so I swapped in some coral merino dk I had left from a previous project, holding 4 strands instead of 2.

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March: the month that found me

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Blouse: New Look; skirt: F&F; shoes: Primark; cardigan: South via Ebay; belt: Topshop

This month has been a pretty big one for me. Building up to self-employment has been something of a rollercoaster, exciting and terrifying in equal measure. But whether co-incidentally or relatedly, March has also been a major turning point in my post-natal life. It has seen the first time in a very long time that I have really felt myself again.

Many new mothers feel “lost” in their first year of motherhood, and I have certainly felt this way. I became “Mummy” so completely, and to everyone around me, that I haven’t seen “Caroline” in what feels an eternity. But last weekend, my Mummy and I went to the NEC for the Sewing for Pleasure/Hobbycrafts/Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch show. I had been shopping on the Friday and picked up a new blouse (not my usual style, I know, but I just fell in love with it!) and blow-dried my hair properly for the first time in over a year. I felt good when I arrived, and after a day of browsing crafty goodies I felt truly inspired. I learned to tat lace, and came home buzzing with ideas and positivity.

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I also came home with a tatting kit, some felt, some hessian for a rag rug, a rainbow of felting wool, a load of ribbon and lots of frankly gorgeous fabrics for kiddly clothes which I can’t wait to get started with! And Mummy bought me a big ball of the most gorgeous yarn with which to knit my first scarf when she teaches me to knit (again!) this week.

That evening, sitting in the conservatory eating dinner beside my husband, I looked up and saw my reflection in the glass. I was amazed to see myself looking back: not the tired, puffy face I have grown accustomed to avoiding eye contact with over the last year, but a glimmer of someone I recognised from a few years back. I don’t know whether it was the result of the boys hitting that 1 year corrected age marker, getting a bit of my old craft mojo back, giving up the commute and taking control of my own work schedule, or a combination of the lot all in line with the equinox… All I know for sure is that something clicked back into place. And I felt good.

In related news, I have now had my wedding ring on for 2 months solid. This has not been possible since before the boys arrived, when my fingers became swollen sausages with irritable skin. Woohoo!