Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gorgeous Christmas Fabric

I love the brightly-coloured Christmas motifs on this Christmas-themed fabric. I bought it from a shop called Candleberry Country in a small town called Yarragon, about an hour from Melbourne, Australia.

Candleberry Country is a wonderful shop - it is filled with fabrics, sewing patterns and supplies, patchwork quilts, handmade items, and much more. It is well worth a visit, or you can order online too from the Candleberry Country website

I'm not yet sure what I'll use the fabric for. I might cut it up and use individual motifs to make Christmas cards. I haven't yet used fabric for card making, so it would be good to experiment. I bought a fat quarter of the fabric for A$6 - a little more than I would normally pay but I was in the mood to treat myself!

Does anyone have any other ideas for using this fabric?

Yarragon is a wonderful place to visit if you like arts and crafts. You can read more about our visit on my other blog, Moving to Australia on a 457 visa.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm Back!

Sorry for the long absence from posting on this blog. I've just moved from Sydney to a small town in Victoria and so have had little time for blogging recently. In fact, I didn't have Internet access for over three weeks and so didn't even have the chance to catch up with all your blogs during that time. A big thank you to those of you who have continued to visit Crafts on a Budget and drop Entrecards in my absence. Your support is very much appreciated.

Now that things are slowly getting back to normal, I'll hopefully get back to posting on a more regular basis. I've also started writing 'Moving to Australia on a 457 Visa', a new blog about my new life in small town Australia, moving to Australia, settling here, and living and working in Australia.

I'm also planning to hold another giveaway in the near future, so watch this space...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Buy Nothing Challenge - Week 4 to the end of August

This final period of the challenge covered two weekends and, as usual, our spending outside the rules occured on weekends:
  • $12 on train tickets and $12 on drinks in a cafe for a little trip out on Saturday, making a total of $24. I was quite pleased with this, though, because I normally spend much more on such a day out. We even went in a toy shop with the children and did not spend anything, which is a major achievement!
  • $12 on swimming for the four of us at the local pool on Sunday.
  • On the following Saturday, we went to a local fair and took $30 spending money with us. We spent all of it on rides, food and a craft activity for my daughter. We all enjoyed the afternoon. We could have spent a lot more money but taking along just $30 was a great way of prioritising our spending.
  • On the final Sunday of August, we stayed at home and spent nothing! I just thought I'd mention it as this is a major achievement for us at the weekend!!

I've also managed to reduce our weekly grocery bill so that it is now just under $200 per week, so I'm happy with that too.

The challenge was very worthwhile. I found the first two weeks difficult, but, as time went on, I found it much easier. I think that it's important to give yourself at least three or four weeks to get into the habit of elminating your unnecessary spending.

A few other things I found that helped were:

  • Staying away from the shopping centre. If I go into the shopping centre, it is inevitable that I will spend money, especially if my daughter is with me.
  • Having little or no cash in my purse. It sounds obvious but, if you don't have any cash on you, you can't spend it! I used to spend about $20 during the week on bits and pieces. Since doing the challenge, I have ensured that I only have a dollar or two in my purse and therefore I've saved more than $80 this month just on cutting out the unnecessary extra spending.

Circumstances dictate that we'll have to continue with these frugal habits into September, but I don't feel so bad about it. I've learned a lot from the challenge and I hope that I'll be able to continue on this frugal path once our financial circumstances change, so that we'll be able to start saving again.

Sorry I haven't posted any craft articles recently. I have meant to, but a lot has been going on in my life that has taken priority. Watch this space for some more craft-related posts soon!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award

Wow! I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded the Superior Scribbler Award by Glynis of New Scribbles from Glynis Smy. Thank you, Glynis - you made my day! It is an extra special award because it is the first blogging award I've received for Crafts on a Budget!

Here are the rules for the Superior Scribbler award:
  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I would like to pass this award onto five bloggers who have inspired me to be creative, thrifty or both! They are (in no particular order):

I find many other blogs inspiring, so please don't be disappointed if I haven't chosen yours this time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weeks Two and Three of the Buy Nothing Challenge, August 2009

Gosh, August is going by so quickly - I can't believe that the third week is over already! So much is going on in my life at the moment that I didn't have time to post last week, so I'm writing here about the last two weeks of the Buy Nothing for August 2009 Challenge.

Week 2

In week 2 of the Buy Nothing Challenge, I was aiming to spend no money at all outside the rules. I almost achieved this. The only spending outside the rules was:

  • A total of A$27.50 on Sunday Funday train tickets and a Chinese meal before going to the circus at the Sydney Exhibition Centre. We were very generously given the circus tickets, so we were fortunate enough to have a great family afternoon/early evening out on a tight budget. We went with some friends who introduced us to a great value place to eat Chinese food - the food court on the edge of Sydney's Chinatown. I would highly recommend it - we spent just under A$20 on a selection of delicious Chinese dishes, including curried beef that was so tender that it melted in your mouth!

Week 3

Week 3 didn't go quite as well. We didn't spend money on anything outside the rules on Monday to Friday, but, once again, the weekend proved difficult. However, I did sell a couple of things on eBay, making a total of A$62, which helped to boost our funds a little. Our spending outside the rules was:

  • A$12 on food and drink in McDonalds on Saturday. The children got extremely bored in the house and so I took them to McDonalds down the road where there is an indoor play area. Of course, they wanted food and drink as well (even though we'd already had lunch!) but I guess A$12 was not too much to pay for a couple of hours' entertainment.

  • It was a glorious sunny day on Sunday and we took advantage of it by going to one of our favourite places - Woy Woy on the central coast, north of Sydney. We ended up spending more than we intended - A$7.50 on the train fare (we can resist the Sunday Fun Day offer of A2.50 per person to anywhere in the Sydney area if you are traveling with children!), A$12 on drinks in our favorite cafe in Woy Woy, A$8 on ice cream, and A$30 on takeaway fish and chips - it was such a beautiful day that we ended up staying later than we planned and so had fish and chips there. Total spending for the day was A$57.50.

As for the grocery shopping, it has been at A$200 for each of the past two weeks. Next week, I'm aiming to reduce it to below A$200!

Progress Report

What am I learning about saving money from this challenge? First of all, that frugality is a habit. The longer I am on the challenge, the easier it seems to be to restrain myself from spending money unnecessarily. I'm glad therefore that the challenge lasts for a month, rather than a week or two - I think that it will help me to put good long-term habits in place.

I'm also realizing that we need a have a monthly budget for family days out at the weekend. We enjoy these times together as a family and the fact that we've not given them up during the challenge shows how important they are for us. After August is over, I will set a future monthly budget based on our spending on these days out during the month of August.

I find it much easier not to spend money on week days (Monday to Friday) than at the weekend. It wasn't too difficult to eliminate such temptations to spend money as going to the shopping centre after picking my daughter up from school and visiting a coffee shop with my son while my daughter was at school. I think I'll be able to keep up such habits after the challenge is over.

So, onto the last week or so of the challenge...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Week One of the Buy Nothing Challenge, August 2009

Week one of the Buy Nothing Challenge for August 2009 is at an end. I don't think I've done too badly this week but I have had some spending outside the limits of the challenge. Here is a round-up of my spending on items other than food and bills:
  • The dental check-up. Unfortunately, the check-up revealed that I do need further treatment, which I can't afford at the moment. I hope that the problem doesn't get a lot worse before I can afford the treatment.
  • A day out on a budget - total spending was A$27.50 for our family of four. Last Sunday was a glorious day and we decided to take advantage of the sunshine by heading for a beautiful place called Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney. We spent a total of A$7.50 on Sunday Funday train tickets, ate our packed lunch and fruit, had a nice walk, the children played in a park and then we spent A$20 on ice creams and a plate of chips (French fries).
  • Postage for couple of handmade cards and a handmade note book for my friend in the UK, whose birthday is next week.
  • Oh yes, I almost forgot - I also spent A$29 on a pay-as-you-go credit for my mobile phone. I didn't upload it until I definitely needed to make a call and, since it is valid for a month after you upload, I saved a little money on the days on which I was out of credit. As we don't have a home phone, our mobiles are essential.

I employed a few strategies to stop myself spending money this week:

  • I had to visit the shopping centre to go to the post office but I went there just a short time before I had to pick my daughter up from school. That meant that I had just enough time to go to the post office and walk back to school before pick-up time and so I didn't have any time to browse in shops. I had thought of going after school but I knew that children + shopping centres = spending money, no matter how hard you try!!
  • Often the hardest times to avoid spending money is when my daughter is bored, so this week, she went with one of her friends to the local park. We took along some food that I already had in the house and the girls enjoyed an afternoon tea in the fresh air.
  • Today (Saturday), my daughter has a friend coming around and the girls are going to make cookies using ingredients that I already have.

Although I didn't do too badly last week, I want to try harder this coming week. I am aiming to spend no money on anything outside of the rules. I'd also like to reduce our weekly grocery bill further. In the past few months, I've already reduced it from A$250-280 per week to A$200-220. I would like to reduce it to A$180-200 (and possibily further) but I don't know how as I'm being as frugal as I possibly can at the moment. I'll have a look on the Internet and see if I can find some tips.

I'd be interested to hear how other people on the challenge are doing. I'll be visiting Crunchy Chicken later to find out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Buy Nothing Challenge for August 2009

I have joined the Buy Nothing Challenge for August 2009 being hosted at Crunchy Chicken. The rules are to spend as little money as possible in August by not spending anything on:

* New clothes
* New gadgets
* New furniture or housewares
* Salon services
* Makeup
* Tools
* Whatever else people buy

I don't think that this will be too difficult as I've been trying to save as much money as possible for a few months now, as we knew that my husband's contract was coming to an end.

This week, as kind of a practice for the challenge, I tried to spend as little as possible. I did, however, do a little spending outside the rules above:
  • I paid A$33 for haircuts for myself and my daughter - we both badly needed them and I went to the cheapest salon in town - it is also a very good salon and I'm very pleased with the results.
  • On Monday, I took my daughter to the food court for lunch. It was the last day of the school holidays here in Australia, so I thought that we would have a little treat and I knew that it would be the last time we would eat lunch out for a while.
  • Today, I have an appointment with the dentist for a check-up. Although I could have cancelled this appointment, I regard it as essential spending to avoid any small problem getting worse and requiring much more expensive and extensive treatment, leading to such dental dramas as happened to me earlier on this year. I just hope that I don't need any more treatment as I can't afford it at the moment.

Apart from that, all I have spent money on this week is food/groceries and bills. Why do the bills all seem to arrive at once? In the past week, we have had to pay the gas, electricity and water bills!

I think the most difficult times not to spend money will be the weekends. I'm trying to avoid going out and spending money by planning some activities to do at home. There are several craft projects that I have in mind, so watch this space.

Crafts are a great way to pass the time if you don't have much money...and, as I try to show, you don't have to spend much on materials. I'm feeling inspired already, but I must visit the dentist first!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Transform an Old Cereal Box Into a Stylish Magazine Holder

Do you have heaps of magazines that need to be organized and tidied away? Do you eat breakfast cereal? Why not recycle your empty cereal boxes by transforming them into magazine holders? Creating original and stylish magazine holders using only a few easy-to-find materials is a simple craft project that children and adults alike can enjoy.

You will need:

1 large old breakfast cereal packet
paper glue
scotch tape
self-adhesive book backing, wrapping paper, or other coverings or decorations (see step nine below)

1. Cut the top flaps off the cereal box, so that the top is completely open.
2. Reinforce the bottom of the cereal packet by affixing scotch tape to the sealed down flaps inside the box, if necessary.
3. Starting from one of the top corners of the box, measure approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) along the top edge of the front of the box and mark this point with pencil.
4. Measure and mark the same distance along the top edge of the back of the box, so that the marks are directly opposite each other.
5. Go to the opposite top corner to the top corner from which you began your measurements in steps 3 and 4, and draw a straight horizontal line across the width of the packet (on the side of the packet, not on the front or the back), about two-thirds of the way down from the top.
6. Using a ruler, draw a straight diagonal line from the mark at the top of the front of the box to the end of the line on the side of the packet. The diagonal line should be seen on the front of the packet.
7. Do the same on the back of the cereal packet.
8. Carefully cut along the diagonal lines on the front and back of the box, and then cut across the straight line on the side of the packet. Your cereal box should now look like the cereal box in the photo above.
9. Your magazine holder is now ready to cover and decorate. There are many ways in which you can do this. Here are some ideas:
Cover the magazine holder with self-adhesive book backing;
Glue on wrapping paper;
Cover with white paper and make a collage on top using pictures cut from magazines;
Cut out letters of the alphabet from a magazine, print them out from your computer or use alphabet stickers to label the spine of the magazine holder with the name of the magazine that it will hold;
Cover the magazine holder with fabric or felt for an individual look.

Once you have mastered the art of transforming cereal boxes into magazine holders, you will no longer need to throw away your old cereal boxes and you will no longer need to buy magazine holders. You will save money, the environment will benefit, and you will gain the satisfaction of having transformed trash into something stylish and functional.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Source of Free Knitting Patterns...and more!

Source: Lion Brand Downloadable Cards

I was recently looking on the Internet for a free knitting pattern for placemats and I came across the Lion Brand Yarn website. As well as several free knitting patterns for placemats, there are many more free knitting, crochet and craft patterns. In order to gain access to the free patterns, you need to subscribe to the website, which is free. You can also choose to receive the e-newsletter, which informs you of special offers on Lion Brand Yarn, new patterns and so on. I decided to subscribe and have found the e-newsletter to be interesting reading.

As far as the placemats are concerned, I chose this simple design for the picnic placemat set. I then bought some green and yellow cotton yarn on sale in my local discount store for just A$2.00 per ball. Now all I have to do is find the time to make the placemats! It is an ideal project for sitting in front of the TV and knitting on the cold winter evenings here in Australia as the placemats are knitted solely in garter stitch.

Another great thing about the Lion Brand Yarn website is that it also offers free e-cards and printable cards on yarn-related themes. They are ideal for sending to fellow knitters, crocheters and other yarn lovers. I especially like the knitting Mona Lisa one (pictured above)! You can browse through all the yarn-related cards here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

And the Winner is.....

First of all, a very big thank you to everyone who entered the summer card giveaway. I've just drawn the winner at and the winning number was:

Number 19 - ChinkyGirLMeL of ChinkyMel's Corner

Congratulations Mel! I'll ask for your postal address via your blog.

Commisserations to everyone who didn't win - I hope that you're not too disappointed. Look out for more giveaways here soon!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Handmade Summer Card Giveaway!

To celebrate the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, I thought that it would be fun to have a little giveaway on Crafts on a Budget!

This is a card that I made to celebrate some of the good things about summer! It would be ideal to send to a friend or relative, especially someone who is going on a long summer vacation or who is looking forward to the summer for a special reason.

The card is blank inside for your own message and it comes with a matching envelope. The card and the envelope will be protected inside a cellophane bag.

Entry to the giveaway is open to anyone living anywhere in the world. The card will be sent by Australia Post if you live in Australia and by airmail if you live outside Australia.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. If you would like a second entry, please write a blog post about this giveaway and then leave another comment with a link to your blog post.

The closing date for this giveaway is midnight on Friday, June 6 2009 (US West Coast time). The winner will be chosen by using the random number generator at on Saturday June 7 2009 and the winner's name will then be posted on Crafts on a Budget. I will contact the winner to ask for the mailing address details.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

At Last! The Random Stripes Sweater is Finished!

Here is the sweater that I knitted for my daughter using a free knitting pattern for a random stripes pullover.

I am very pleased with the result. I like the way that the cuffs and the neckline curl up slightly. It makes a nice alternative to ribbed cuffs and edges.

Although my daughter saw me knitting this jumper, I was careful not to let her see me sewing it up, so the finished product was a surprise for her! She was delighted with it and it looks very good on her. It will be a good addition to her winter wardrobe!

I would highly recommend this free knitting pattern. You can create your own colour scheme and use up leftover yarn, if you wish.

I left a larger gap at the neck than that recommended in the pattern as I know that my daughter has a large head and sometimes has difficulty in pulling sweaters over her head. When she tried it on, we found out that the gap I had left was perfect for her. So, if you make this sweater, I would recommend measuring the gap required before sewing up the shoulders.

I am so pleased that I've finally finished this jumper - it took me about a year to complete, due to a lack of free time! I think I'll do a couple of short knitting projects next before embarking upon my next large project.

You can find out the total cost of this project and a little bit more about the design on my previous blog post - Autumn is the time to start knitting in Australia.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Download Free Quick and Easy Knitting Patterns from the Internet

There are so many free knitting patterns on the Internet that you need never buy a knitting pattern again! Here is a selection of websites with some quick and easy knitting patterns that are free to download.

Frugal Haus has a wide range of free knitting and crochet patterns, from hats to baby toys to dishcloths. Many of the items can be knitted with scraps of leftover yarn. I like the pin cushion and the corner book mark.

Find a whole list of easy knitting and crochet patterns on . You can knit a bandana for your dog, a bib for your baby, or some cute slippers for yourself.

All Free Crafts has some excellent ideas for knitting projects. I like the idea of knitting a beaded bracelet or a shopping bag knitted from old plastic grocery bags – that’s a great recycling idea!

A scarf is always easy to knit. You will be spoiled for choice on Knitting Pattern Central’s scarves page.

Do you have any favourite websites for downloading free knitting patterns?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sydney Opera House Cross Stitch

I bought this cross stitch kit from a shop in a small town in the Hunter Valley, the wine region north of Sydney, over 12 years ago, when we visited Sydney, Australia, on holiday for the first time.

At that time, in the 1990s, I was very much into cross stitch. I enjoyed completing this project as the Sydney Opera House is a building that I love. It was quite straightforward to complete because only eight colours are used.

It's strange that we ended up living in Sydney many years later! A couple of days ago, we walked along Circular Quay as the sun was setting in a pink sky. The Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour all looked extremely beautful in the setting sun. A few couples were having their wedding photographs taken there - how wonderful would it be to have this fantastic view as the background to your wedding photographs!

Budget details: The kit only cost a few dollars as it was in the 'clearance' basket. I bought the frame from a discount store, so the total cost was probably less than A$10 (about 5 British Pounds or US$7).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Recycle Paper and Card to Make Cute Little Notebooks

This weekend, after my dramas at the dentist, I was looking for a quick and easy craft project to lift my spirits. I decided to follow this Paint Sample Notebook Tutorial to make a couple of cute little notebooks.

As I didn't have any paint sample cards, I used a piece of blue card that had been part of a mailing I received during the week and piece of pink card left over from another craft project.

The tutorial was very easy to follow. I used pieces of scrap paper that were blank on both sides. The most time-consuming part of the creation process was cutting the pieces of paper down to the correct size. Once I had one piece of paper of the correct size, I used it as a template for cutting out the other pieces of paper.

The tutorial suggests using 20 sheets of paper in each notebook, but I used only 10, as I don't have a heavy duty stapler. My normal stapler coped with stapling 10 sheets to the card but I don't think it would have coped with 20.

I decorated the notebook with a few bits and pieces hanging around in my craft box. I cut out a frangipani flower from a piece of paper and stuck on a string of pink flowers at the bottom. As a finishing touch, I added the word 'notes' in stickers.

My daughter decorated the pink notebook, adding fairy stickers and her name and age! She then practiced her writing inside and challenged me to a few games of noughts and crosses!

I love the notebooks we made. They would be very useful to tuck inside your handbag (purse). I'm going to make some more and give them as extra gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

This is such a quick and easy craft project - anyone can do it! And, you don't need to buy any materials - just use up paper, card and decorations that you have lying around. You are recycling whilst creating something beautiful and useful!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Autumn is the Time to Start Knitting in Australia!

You know that autumn (fall) has arrived in Australia when you see balls of soft, brightly coloured yarn and knitting needles beginning to appear in the discount stores.

It was about this time last year that my daughter saw some nice pink and white yarn on sale and asked if I would knit her a sweater. So, I bought the yarn and looked on the Internet for a free pattern.

I wanted something that was quick and easy to knit, as I didn't want to concentrate too much while knitting and relaxing in front of the TV. I decided on this free pattern for a random stripes pullover knitted only in stocking stitch (knit one row, purl one row).

We changed the pattern a little - instead of stripes of three rows for each colour, we decided to alternate wider pink stripes of six rows per stripe with narrower white stripes of three row per stripe.

What I like about this pattern is that it is very adaptable. You could use up all of your left-over yarn and make a rainbow striped sweater for a little girl or boy, or you could knit the whole sweater in just one colour.

A year on, I'm close to finishing this sweater! I just have to finish the second sleeve and sew the whole thing up. I'll post a photo of it when it's finished. Hopefully, it will be ready for my daughter to wear when the weather gets colder...and, yes, it does get cold enough to wear a sweater in the autumn and winter in Sydney, Australia!

Budget details: I bought four balls of yarn from a discount store for a total of A$8 (and I will probably have at least one and a half balls left over). Two sets of knitting needles cost A$4, so the total cost of knitting this jumper was just A$12! That's about US$8.50 or 5.75 UK pounds.

Going back to this year, I was tempted to buy some new yarn for a new knitting project but, at the moment, I'm not sure what I'll make. I'll have a look on the Internet for a free pattern and then buy the correct amount of yarn.

If you live in Australia, take a look in your local discount store for yarn at great prices at this time of year. If you knit throughout the year, now is definitely the best time to stock up!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Making a New Baby Card from Cut-Price Craft Materials

Last Saturday, I had an unexpectedly interesting day, which I wrote about on my Life in Australia blog. What I didn't mention is that my daughter and I also visited our local craft store and searched through the 'reduced price' basket. We selected a baby card making kit for A$1.99 (on the right hand side of the photo) and a pack of ribbons with embellishments for just A$0.99, as we wanted to make a card to welcome our friends' new baby girl into the world.

My daughter and I sat down to make the card on Sunday morning. Although there were card blanks included in the card making pack, we used a square-shaped, neutral-coloured card blank that we already had.

We chose the pink and purple pram embellishment from the card making kit as the centrepiece of our design. We stuck it onto a square of pink card and then stuck sticky pads to the reverse side of the card in the centre and at each of the four corners. We then peeled off the adhesive backing and stuck the pink card to the centre of the card blank, giving it a slightly raised appearance.

Next, we decided to use the 'baby girl' embellishment with ribbon already attached. There was a self-adhesive pad on the back of the embellishement, so it was easy to fix this to the top of the card at the centre. We stuck three sticky pads to the back of the ribbon - one roughly half way between the embellishment and the edge of the card, another at the edge of the card, and the third on the inside of the card to secure the overlapping ribbon. We then repeated this for the other side of the ribbon, securing the overlapping ribbon on the back of the card.

We chose another of the ribbon embellishments - this time with the word 'cute' in the centre and affixed it to the bottom of the card in the same way.

As a finishing touch, we thought it would be nice to add a few sparkly pink decorations to the empty space on either side of the centrepiece. We used one round pink jewel in the centre with a flower above and below it, sticking them directly to the card blank with glue. These decorations came from the card making kit.

It didn't take long to make - probably less than an hour - and we were very pleased with the result. The good thing is that we still have enough materials left over to make at least two other baby girl cards, so each card will cost less than A$1.00.

Next time you are in your local craft store, have a look through the 'bargain basket' and see what materials you can find for your crafts on a budget!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Make a Beautiful Birthday Card in One Hour

You will need:
  • 1 card blank (or card cut and folded to make a card)
  • One or two pieces of paper for the background (optional)
  • The letters, H, A, P, P, Y in capitals cut out from a magazine or printed out from your computer
  • The word 'birthday' cut out or printed out
  • Small pieces of card in different colours
  • Small lengths of ribbon in different colours
  • 6 small sequins
  • 1 or 2 other embellishments, such as hearts or flowers (optional)
  • glue pen
  • sticky dots - these are available from your local craft shop or online from eBay or other craft retailers

Cost: US$0-5 (or perhaps a bit more if you have to buy many of the materials)

  1. Glue the background paper to the front of the card
  2. Tear off (or cut off with a wavy edge) a small amount of different paper in contrasting colours and glue it across the centre of the card
  3. If you wish, you can omit steps one and two and just have a plain background
  4. Glue the letters, H, A, P, P, and Y onto different coloured pieces of card.
  5. Cut out squares of card around the letters - the edges don't all have to be straight, they can be slightly sloping (see the picture)
  6. Glue a sequin to each letter in a different place
  7. Cut five small lengths of ribbon and fold each in half
  8. Peel off one side of a sticky dot and affix to the back of one of the letters, near the bottom.
  9. Peel off one side of another sticky dot and fix it to the end of the folded ribbon but do not cover all of the sticky dot with the ribbon (so that it will also stick to the card).
  10. Fix this sticky dot to the back of the letter, near to the top
  11. Peel off the other side of the backing from both sticky dots and carefully affix to the middle of the card
  12. Repeat steps 8 to 11 for each of the five letters
  13. Stick the word 'Birthday' to a piece of card and cut out a rectangle shape
  14. Stick a sequin to the rectangle
  15. Cut out two small lengths of ribbon and affix them to the back of the rectangle with a sticky dot (as above), so that the ribbon is just peeping out from side of the rectangle
  16. Affix the whole of the rectangle to the bottom of the card with 3 or 4 sticky dots
  17. Use sticky dots to affix other embellishments to the card, such as hearts or flowers, if you wish.

It may sound complicated but it really isn't. I admit that I made this card from a kit, so I had all of the materials to hand, but it took me less than an hour to make and I enjoyed it immensely. It was a nice, relaxing activity.

I like making cards because you can get a quick result. With so many other crafts, it takes several sessions to complete a project, but, with card making, you can complete one or more cards in one craft session.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Instructions for a No-Sew Fleece Blanket

This is so easy, you can do it watching TV or talking on the phone. The kids can help, and you can use this same method to make snuggly pillows to match. Get the fleece on sale, and it just doesn’t get better!Instructions for a No-Sew Fleece Blanket, Jan 2009

While surfing the Internet today, I found these instructions for making a warm, snuggly polar fleece blanket from one and a half to two yards of material - and you don't even need to be able to sew!

I'm not sure how much polar fleece material costs, but, the chances are that you will be able to find some reduced in price in the January sales, so this project won't cost you much money.

I plan to hunt down some cut price polar fleece material and make this blanket just in time for winter to arrive in Australia.

If it is already winter in your part of the world, you could make this quickly and easily and snuggle up underneath it! Or, you could give it as a gift to someone who would truly appreciate a little extra warmth in the midst of the winter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Transform a Fabric Remnant into a Pillowcase Using Basic Sewing Skills

You will need:

Fabric remnant large enough to make into a pillowcase
Sewing needle and cotton (or a sewing machine, if you have one)

Cost: US$0-5

  1. Fold the material once widthwise, so that you have a rectangular shape (you may need to adapt this if your remnant is a different shape, perhaps by folding it lengthwise or cutting out two identical rectangles of fabric)
  2. With right sides together, pin each of the long sides of the fabric together (and one of the short sides if you have two rectangles of material).
  3. Using back stitch, sew each of these seams.
  4. Turn the fabric to the right side and fold down to the wrong side of the material approximately four inches of material on each side of the open side.
  5. Iron both of the folds to the wrong side of the material.
  6. Pin and sew across one of the folded down sides and leave the other one open to form the flap of the pillowcase.
  7. Neaten the edges of the seams, so that they don’t fray.
  8. Insert a pillow and you have a fantastic new pillowcase!

My daughter spotted a lovely remnant of material covered with fairies, butterflies and flowers in our local fabric shop. She asked me if I could make it into a pillowcase for her. Although I don’t have a sewing machine and hadn’t done any sewing in years, I thought, “Why not!” The remnant looked as if it was large enough to make a pillowcase, so I bought it for A$3.

When I got home and measured the material against a pillow, I realized that, although the width was fine, it wasn’t long enough. So, not to be defeated, I cut a piece off a remnant of calico that I had bought at the same time, and sewed it to the fairy fabric, so that it was long enough to make a pillowcase. As you can see from the photograph, you cannot see the calico from the front of the pillowcase.

It only took me about four hours to make this pillowcase by hand and I’m not a fast sewer by any means. It would be much faster with a sewing machine.

Look out for material that would appeal to someone on your gift list and sew him or her a pillowcase too!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions for Thrifty Crafters

In these times of economic difficulties, it is good to know that there are still ways in which we can enjoy our creative hobbies without spending a lot of money. As we start a New Year, here are some resolutions for budget-conscious crafters:

1. Collect as many materials as possible for recycling in your craft projects, without going mad and cluttering up your house with all kinds of rubbish that should go straight into the recycling bin! I used to be guilty of saving too many things “just in case.” Now, I am much more selective in the things I keep. For example, I kept a Christmas advertising brochure that came into my mailbox because it included some beautiful photographs and some elegant lettering that I thought I could use for card making, scrap booking or collages.

2. Use the Internet to find free patterns, instructions and materials for each of your projects. The Internet is a fabulous free resource for crafters. I try to exploit it as much as possible, gaining endless inspiration for my projects.

3. Look for materials at bargain prices but don’t stockpile them, just because they are a bargain. As I am frequently guilty of this, I have decided that I will only buy materials for three projects that I haven’t yet started. Even if I see an absolute bargain, I still won’t buy it, if I already have enough material on hand for three future projects.

4. Visit your favourite craft store just once a month (or less often) and set a budget for each visit. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend too much money. If possible, try to arrange your visits at the times when the craft store has a sale on. I have signed up for the e-newsletter of my favourite craft store, so that I can always be informed of their sales.

5. Make time for your craft projects. This resolution really doesn’t have anything to do with being thrifty but reminds us that we should schedule in time for the activities that we enjoy. There are many craft projects that I would like to start but my time is limited. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to set aside just one evening per week to focus solely on my craft projects.

Let’s hope that 2009 is a year in which we are all inspired to create many beautiful things!
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