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5 Stunningly Creative Ways To Wrap Gifts This Christmas

It’s often an afterthought; choosing a unique way to wrap presents at Christmas - But not anymore. Once you’ve finished browsing these 5 creative ways to finish off your gifts this year, the once boring boxes underneath your tree, will never be the same again.

The Cut Out

Inspiration and image credit: HomeEdit
Here’s an extremely quick and easy way to spruce up that plain paper you’ve been hoarding since Xmas ‘13. Simply draw a symmetrical shape onto a piece of card - Think Christmas tree or santa beard. Cut the shape out and fold in half. Use this shape as a template to draw on the reverse of your wrapping paper. Using a craft knife (Or very carefully with scissors), cut along the shape you’ve drawn - NOT along the fold line though! Now simply half fold out the shape to achieve a similar style as below:

Funky Gift Bag Modification

Inspiration and image credit: Fly Fresh Forever
This is the kind of gift wrap that will end up outshining the present! Why not take the gift bag you received from the office secret santa and turn it into an awesome little body shaped bag.
Tip for increased personalisation: Make mini caricatures of your family. Pop on a little cardigan design for your grandad or a peppa pig t-shirt for your young niece.

Vintage Twist - The Artisan Paint Fleck

Inspiration and image credit: Apartment Therapy
We love this simple yet effective way to take simple vintage craft paper and turn it into something striking this christmas
++ It’ll only take 2 minutes to do - Just be careful not to get paint on the carpet!
Simply peg up a large sheet of brown craft paper on the washing line. Take some thinly diluted paint (left over from the side of the house you forgot to paint this summer), and using a sponge or large paint brush, flick the paint across the sheets - Keep it mono-coloured for a classy outcome. You can order a few sheets of brown craft paper here

The All Out Gift Wrapped Extravaganza!

Inspiration and image credit: Karen - The Art Of Doing Stuff
Like a nativity play on a box, our next recommendation is not for the novice - However, if you can pull it off, or just want a cool project this sunday. Then why not try your hand at creating this boxy masterpiece.
Further inspo: How about making an ice-skating pond theme, using a similar design, but adding some blue paint and two black lines for skate tracks.

The Complementary Palette

Inspiration and image credit: Wrap This Up
So how about keeping it simple you ask? - No fear. This following suggestion will make wrapping beautiful presents effortless. Grab yourself a wrapping paper kit from WrapThisUp and take the guess work out of choosing perfectly coordinated paper, twine and tags.
So there you have it; 5 great ways to wrap your presents up this Christmas.
Have you got some ideas to share? Why not comment below with a picture of your gift wrapped masterpiece…

Merry Christmas X
This post was written by Rory Orchard of Wrap This Up!

Crochet Pine Cones (make your own, free pattern!)



I know you all love pinecones, my Pinecone Christmas Decorations posts get hundreds of visitors every day at this time of year.

So when I saw these crochet pinecones, I thought I must drop everything and share them with you. They look great multi-coloured but might be nice in a gold or silver yarn as tree decorations too.

One of those things that has no purpose other than to make you smile!

Do you crochet?  Find the pattern here on the Yarn Freak Blog


Growing Your Handmade Business - get a discount code for this brilliant course


Growing Your Handmade Business
by Cassie Boorn

Creative makers tend to focus all their energy on creating amazing products. They pour their heart and soul into every single item they produce. But having a great product is only half of the battle. You need a great plan for taking your product to market, building a brand around your work, and generating enough sales to reach your individual goals.

Modern Thrive just launched a live online workshop designed to help you build a profitable handmade business. They have brought together three incredible handmade business owners to give you an inside look at how they built their career, and share proven strategies that you can apply to your own business. This program will give you the insight you need to turn your handmade shop into a full-time business.


Everyone who signs up will get the opportunity to learn from these amazing makers:


Lane Huerta is the Founder of LoveLane Studios, an award-winning handmade shop that creates imaginative play-wear for children around the world. Lane began designing and screen printing tea towels, pillows and other home décor and became a veteran of Indie Craft Parade and other artisan craft fairs—but it’s been her imaginative children’s designs that have captured the world’s attention.



In 2014, Etsy.com featured Lovelane’s Play Hard children’s wear on its homepage, and demand for its hand sewn, American-made capes and crowns have soared. Lane and her work have been featured on media platforms across the globe, including The Huffington Post, Today.com, Hooligan’s Magazine, Harper’s Brazil, and ABC World News Tonight. Today the brand employs two team members, hand-prints the line in studio and contracts sewing to local seamstresses. This method of production makes it possible for Lovelane to wholesale to retailers like The Land of Nod and specialty boutiques worldwide.



Jahje Ives is the Founder of Baby Jives Co, a handmade shop that creates mobiles and artwork to inspire wonder and imagination. Her work has been featured on Today’s Parent, HGTV, Martha Stewart Living,  and in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. Baby Jives started as a solo operation run out of an extra room in her home where she made mobiles between naps. 

Now, Jahje works with independent seamstresses and a family run cut-and-sew business to produce her most popular mobiles. This has allowed Jahje to keep up with demand and expand into wholesale, selling to small shops and larger brands like The Land of Nod and West Elm. Jahje shares her story with her more than 60,000 social media followers, allowing her to connect with customers and the maker community.



Dianna Barton is the Founder of Plum and Sparrow. Dianna fell in love with her own Moses Basket after the birth of her first child. She knew she wanted to share this little gem with other mamas, and began searching for something unique, beautiful and one of a kind.

Plum and Sparrow is a supporter of the Fair Trade Federation. It takes an entire village in Africa to make each of their baskets. As one individual harvests the materials, it moves onto the next step where it is delicately colored, after the hand-weaver entwines every piece bringing it all together, finishing it with the leather handle. The intricate design of their products has drawn the attention of leading tastemakers, and landed them coverage on hundreds of national blogs

The live workshop begins November 9th, but you will get lifetime access to all of the content. The program includes (3) hour-long interactive sessions, daily email lessons and a comprehensive workbook. In addition, you will get access to a private community of like-minded handmade business owners.

The workshop is $97 but you can save $30 if you sign up now with discount code “CraftUK.”
(current exchange rate 8/11/16 - £78 but use the discount code and it is £54)



Promote your handmade Christmas decorations



Do you make handmade Christmas decorations, are you making any to sell this year?

Be sure to post your work on my Facebook page Handmade Christmas, just add a picture to the wall and I'll be sharing them all through the run up to Christmas.  A great way to get your work seen by people who love all things festive and handmade.  It's all free promotion, no need to message me, if it's related to Christmas gifts and decorations and it is handmade you can post it.







How to like and network with Facebook pages as your page and not your personal profile


If you aren't already doing so, you need to start networking 'as your page'.  Boosting your fan numbers and Facebook fan page engagement is not just about your own updates.

Choosing great, relevant content to share is essential to keep fans engaged. However, off-page activity is an equally important way of increasing likes and engagement on your fan page and should not be overlooked. You can also find great content to share yourself on other people's fan pages.

Benefits of networking 'as your page'

  • You can start conversations with like minded brands with a similar target audience by commenting on their posts, with potential to develop the relationship further.  For example guest posts/product collaborations/giveaways. 
  • The fans of the pages will see your comments and may be inclined to take a look at your FB page
  • You get a news feed of juicy posts that come from Facebook pages you have liked that your audience may also appreciate
  • You don't have to like pages with your personal profile and clog up your personal news feed
  • It may help with your page being highlighted to a person as a 'suggested page' as Facebook tracks every interaction.


There are three parts to this post, so just to be clear what we're talking about.

  • Liking and commenting as your page on other Facebook pages
  • Liking a page as your page, so it appears in your page newsfeed
  • Accessing your page newsfeed


Liking and commenting on Facebook posts as your page on other pages

Liking and commenting as your page is really straightforward, you simply use the little toggle on the post which shows your profile image and simply switch to the page you want to comment as. Easy peasy!

 
Liking a Facebook page as your page

This is easy too,  but Facebook don't make it really obvious.  Click on the more link and a little dropdown list will appear with the option to 'Like as your page'



You'll be able to select which page you want to like it as next and then you're done.


The important part after you have liked lots of relevant pages you can network with is to head to your page feed.

Now, where do I find my liked as page newsfeed?

There is a link in the left hand side bar of your personal Facebook feed which says 'pages feed'.  This is not it!  This shows you pages you have liked as your personal profile - www.facebook.com/pages/feed - so it cuts out all the stuff from your sister and that girl you used to know when you were 6 ;)

Instead, navigate to your Facebook page home page and in the right hand side column there will be an option to 'see pages feed' which is what we are after!

www.facebook.com/yourpagenamehere/pages_feed/

The link will look like this, just replace 'yournamehere' with your page name.  Itt sadly doesn't work with other peoples pages which would be really useful!  You can see what another page likes by looking in the bottom right hand corner of their home page, the link will bring up a list with buttons next to the names of the pages for you to like / unlike.  If you click 'like' on these you'll be liking as your personal profile - you need to go to the actual page.

It's a good idea to add this Facebook page news feed link to a bookmark on your tool bar so you can really quickly start networking next time you are at your desk with 15 mins to spare.

How to find pages to network with on Facebook

You can use this method in my post all about suggested pages here - where i show you how to find the pages that facebook tells people are similar to your page, or other peoples pages - it's a lovely fall-down-a-rabbit-hole way of finding pages to like as your page.

One of the best ways to find pages to network with is to just delve in and start browsing for Facebook pages on certain subjects.  Think laterally and ask yourself.

PLEASE DON'T BE A SPAMMER. Actually get involved in the conversations people are having and never copy and paste comments... ever.

Have fun!


Make a pretty rose from autumn leaves



Make a pretty rose from autumn leaves.  

I'm planning on trying to make these with the huge quantity of dropped sycamore leaveas in my garden. If you extended the stem with some wire you could create a whole vase full and they should last a good few weeks before they become very brittle.  I found these pics here


Here's a video to show you exactly how they're made if you fancy having a go yourself.



I also spotted this pretty bouquet idea on Pinterest and added it to my Craft Life board.



DIY Hot Chilli Sauce


At the beginning of the year I planted chillies in my greenhouse and over the last month they have been ripening to a beautiful bright red (read my tips for growing chillies

With more than enough for cooking, I decided to make a hot chilli sauce because I add hot sauce to so many dishes, it's quite addictive.


Here you can see the chilli plants growing amongst a sea of basil - the smell is amazing.  they're growing in a wicking bed which means I don't need to worry about watering too often.  You can find out how to make your own on a recent post of mine - DIY Wicking Beds




I was recently sent this pack of Posca paint pens to review and I knew exactly what they would be perfect for - labelling the glass jars for my hot chilli sauce!



The jars look fab! Sadly though I used far too many chillies and as a result the first batch I made with just white wine vinegar mixed with roasted onions and chillies was practically inedible it was so hot, so I've cut it down with tomatoes to a hot and then even more tomatoes for a medium hot.

I'm going to dry the next pick of chillies and make chilli salt - another of my favourites.


I've put lots in the freezer as the sauce doesn't have a really long shelf life.  Any advice on making sauce that will last for a year would be much appreciated as if it's the very hot stuff you only use a little at a time so a bottle can easily last a few months.



The jars look great, I particularly like the little cheap herb and spice jars from Poundland (2 for £1).

The paint pens worked beautifully on the glass jars, the only problem was trying to keep them away from the kids who wanted to decorate practically everything!

Find out more about these pens on the Uniball website - Posca Paint Pens


Fun Sewing Quiz!


I just got sent a link to this fun sewing quiz by the team at Terry's Fabrics - they've got a big selection of curtain fabrics, so well worth a look if you're on the hunt for new curtains. I really dislike sewing large curtains, it a bit overwhelming -  but love the finished article (and how much money I save!) so it's a love hate relationship...  just 3 rooms left to go in my house - and I need a blind for my office...  it's all on a never ending to do list.  Plus with left over curtain fabric you can sew bags, cushions and all sorts.

Anyway - here's the quiz, be sure to comment with your score! I scored 11 out of 15 but some of the film ones were sheer guess work - can you beat me? Probably!

The Sewing Quiz by Terry's Fabrics




3 Mindful Colouring Books to Give Away - worth £9.99 each!



Do you like colouring books!  I have 3 beautiful mindful colouring books to give away, all illustrated by the talented artist Georgie Woolridge

See entry details at the end of this post





Illustrated byGeorgie Woolridge and published by Modern Books, RRP £9.99 each

Mindful Colouring Books

Mindful colouring is a way of escaping stress and slowing down a bit.  It's a lovely way to relax, unlike picking up a book you don't need to concentrate much, you can just pick up a pencil and start colouring away.  


Georgie has created 3 beautiful books with illustrations and descriptions, Animals, Birds and Waterlife.  I've been colouring in little tree frogs in her animals book - I just had a vibe they should be orange with aqua marine spots!

It might seem a little odd to see grown ups happily colouring in, but it's actually very soothing - you're only concern is which illustration to colour in next and which colours to choose. 


Way better as a method of relaxation than watching mind numbing TV or playing candy crush, it gives you permission to just think and clear your mind. It's a little like many repetitive crafts in that way. My daughter has also taken to it, her frog is looking great :)

I have a slightly weird completely natural obsession with pencils (I really do want to own a pencil shop!) so my medium of choice is the traditional watercolour pencil but you can get some lovely art pens and I do like any excuse to go to a stationery shop.

You can order Birds, Waterlife and Animals online on www.amazon.co.uk or by telephone to the publisher’s warehouse, by calling 01256 302 692. For more information, please visit: www.modern-books.co.uk.

How to Enter!

To enter and win all 3 books just head to my Facebook Page here Craft Blog UK for the competition post and like and comment on the post - I'll pick a winner on Friday!

Will post to UK addresses only via Modern Books.

The health benefits of sewing infographic

Brilliant infographic! Find out all the ways in which sewing can improve your health.

Health Benefits of Sewing
Health Benefits of Sewing by Terrys Fabrics.

Chickens! #folksyfriday

I haven't written a Folksy Friday for ages.  This week the theme is chickens, I absolutely love keeping chickens, I'm currently getting 28 eggs a week (that's a lot of eggs to use up) I get a great deal of pleasure just watching them scratch about - they're very happy!


There are lots of sellers on Folksy who make gifts perfect for chicken keepers like me - I've chosen a few of my favourites.


Rocking Chicken by Wobblywood 

Chicken Brooch by Claire Gent


Chicken Print - New Country Girl


Hen - Lavender Scented Keyring - The Peacock Emporium


Hen & Chick Card - The Free Range




Try the best British craft marketplace for free!


Folksy is a brilliant place to sell your work as a designer / maker based in Britain.  It's a 100% British, 100% handmade market place.  No vintage, no re-sellers allowed.  You can sell craft supplies too!

This weekend is a brilliant opportunity to test this market place for free - 20 free listings and it's free to open a shop!

Read more here on the Folksy Blog - Try Folksy for free!  and if you miss the offer this weekend, you can still try Folksy for free as you automatically get 3 free listings when you open a new shop!





The benefits of planting in a wicking bed



The growing season is well and truly underway, in this post I wanted to share details of our latest gardening project, making a DIY wicking bed. I've also listed off the benefits of creating wicking beds or wicking pots.


The area we wanted to transform was this scruffy bit of space behind our greenhouse.  It actually gets lots of sun (through the glass) and is a bit of a heat trap. I'm always looking at spaces I can use for edibles.

Making a wicking bed

This is the plan we decided on - an L-shaped wicking bed and a screen to hide the other messy half behind the greenhouse until that get's transformed into raspberry cages next year.

What is a wicking bed?

Glad you asked, I didn't know until recently either!



A wicking bed is a raised growing bed which has a waterproof lining.  The lining holds a reservoir of water beneath the soil and through capillary action, water is drawn up into the soil.

To make our beds we used decking boards we picked up from Homebase as they are nice and rigid, we painted them to make sure they are protected and last until we're 107 and can't face another french bean, although they're probably fine without it.



To keep the tank topped up and the soil nice and moist, you have a pipe with holes in which runs through the bottom of the bed to distribute water.  The pipe is surrounded by gravel and then the whole lot is covered by a weed proof membrane.

As you can see in the diagram, our wicking bed is connected to a down-pipe from a gutter on our greenhouse, we're making use of every drop of rainwater we can.  There's an overflow pipe to ensure it never gets too full.


The principle behind this wicking bed is really adaptable.

I've also made wicking pots from old chicken feed buckets.  It's the same thing except you just need to drill a hole a few inches from the base of the bucket, then fill with gravel, line with weedproof membrane, add a pipe and fill with compost...    and plants.

We're very excited to see the results of this new wicking bed and the pots. It looks great but the real test is whether we get a bumper crop of beans.  So far I've planted courgettes, french beans, broad beans and dwarf beans - I'm going to plant winter and summer squash at the end to grow up the trellis (fingers crossed)



What are the benefits of a wicking bed?

1. They are water efficient, the water doesn't evaporate off the top and you don't need as much to get to the important part of the plant - the roots - because you are watering from the bottom up.

2. You don't need to water as often, in fact they are effectively self watering, although they may need topping up a little more often in very dry spells. 

3. If you do have lots of rain the soil will drain quickly because of the gravel and the overflow - it's a bit like a french drain system in this way.

4. There is no guess work - you water until the overflow pipe tells you to stop, you know it's topped up enough and no water is wasted.

5. Fertilisers and nutrients are not washed away through top watering.  You can just add in your feed direct to the resevoir and hungry plants will suck it all up directly from the roots....  happy plants! No wasted fertisliser.

6. Weeding is virtually eliminated as you can mulch over with bark chippings, seeds and weeds like wet surfaces to get growing in and this bed is dryer at the top.

7.  The top layer is dryer, so there is less chance of mould.  

8. You'll be able to crack open a beer and say "I made that!"

I'll update you on how successful it really is based on the above list!

Before and After - from scrappy space to productive veg garden.



We added a frame for the bean canes so they lean forward, it's supposed to be easier to collect the beans this way (gravity makes them dangle out and down) and gave us the opportunity to hang baskets of marigolds to distract the aphids and attract the bees.


Marigolds! 


My cute/lazy greenhouse companion, Bramble :)



Courgette's are ready for planting out! The one on the left is grown from seed by me, courgette on the right from seed by my Aunt... hopefully they'll both be winners but the competition is on!


Happy gardening - any questions about wicking beds or wicking pots, just let me know :)

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