Archive for the ‘diy craft projects’ Category

halloween how-to: pumpkin party mask

October 16, 2013  in diy craft projects

Halloween pumpkin mask project by Sania Pell - Photo by Julia Bostock

With Halloween only two weeks away, the Marie-Chantal team asked me to write this little project for their blog on how to make one of the props I created for their autumn/winter photo shoot. The photos are by Julia Bostock.

This friendly pumpkin mask is the perfect Halloween accessory that can be used again year after year. It is easy to make and can be used as a costume mask, a shadow puppet or simply as a decoration for a Halloween party. They are especially good for children who don’t enjoy having their face painted.

Materials required:

A4 size card about 1mm thick (around 400gsm) – it needs to be stiff, but if the card is too thick it can be difficult to cut through.

Cutting mat or board

Scalpel or craft knife


Dowling rod

Gaffer/Elephant tape

Emulsion paint

Flat paintbrush

Download the template PDF

Step 1: Print out the template at A4 size and trace the shape of the pumpkin onto the back of the card in pencil.

Step 2: Using a sharp scalpel or craft knife, cut out the shape of the pumpkin, the eyes, nose and mouth.

Step 3: Paint both sides of the card and leave to dry. I painted them dark grey as shadow puppets for the shoot, but you could paint them the traditional orange or whatever colour you like. It may require 2-3 coats each side. Leave them plain or let your children decorate them further if they wish.

Step 4: Attach dowling rod to the back of the pumpkin with gaffer tape or wide masking tape as a handle. Ensure the rod is long enough to hold comfortably with the mask in front of your or your child’s face. If you want it double-sided, cut out and paint a second pumpkin and glue or double-sided tape it to the other one, sandwiching the rod between them.

Step 5: Have fun at your Halloween party!

Halloween pumpkin mask project by Sania Pell - Photo by Julia Bostock

You can read the original post and more about Marie-Chantal over on the Marie-Chantal blog.

My children are already getting excited about dressing up and going trick or treating. It’s time to stock up on sweets I think.

Have fun!

Photos: Julia Bostock


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homemade gift – liberty print candle

March 6, 2013  in diy craft projects, homemade

Homemade Liberty print candle by Sania Pell

A few weeks ago I was asked by the lovely team at Liberty to come up with an easy-to-make Mother’s day gift for the Liberty blog, so I adapted a project and wrapped glass candles with a selection of Liberty print fabrics. Although Mother’s Day in the UK is only a few days away, you still have time to make this as it is quick to do.

This is a really simple idea to turn a plain candle into something unique and special. One of these patterned treats, wrapped in tissue in a beautifully decorated box, makes the perfect mother’s day gift. Choose your mother’s favourite colours and a beautiful Liberty print to make a gift she will love and display with pride.

You will need:

Glass candle, Liberty Print fabric and ribbon

Double-sided tape, fabric scissors, a pencil and ruler

For the gift box:

Plain cardboard box with lid, swing tag, Liberty print fabric and ribbon

Emulsion paint and small flat brush about 3cms wide

Scissors, needle and thread, bondaweb and an iron

Homemade Liberty print wrapped candles by Sania Pell

To make the candle

Measure the height of the candle and cut your fabric at least 3cm shorter than this height to give at least a 1.5cm gap at the top of the glass and the bottom. To measure the circumference, wind some thread around the candle adding a 1cm overlap for the cross-over at the back, then stretch it out and use it as your guide for your length. Draw this long rectangle lightly, but visible in pencil onto the reverse of the fabric and cut out carefully.

Stick double-sided tape along both short edges on the wrong fabric side. Stick the first side straight to the glass, then wrap the fabric around the glass and stick the other side down with an overlap of fabric, ensuring your fabric is straight and taut and that there is at least a 1.5 cms gap at the top. Snip any stray threads off.

Cut a ribbon to the correct length and wrap it around the middle, tying with a bow, or wrap a strip around the bottom of the candle using double-sided tape at both ends of the ribbon to fix.

Homemade Liberty print gift box and tags by Sania Pell

To make the packaging:

Paint the box with emulsion paint in one of your mother’s favourite colours, outside and inside until covered. This could take two coats.

Add some detail to a tag using a piece of Liberty wrapping paper fixed to the bottom with double-sided tape and write or stamp on your mother’s name or initials.

To make the fabric leaves, iron bondaweb onto the reverse of some Liberty fabric then iron a plain fabric to the other side. Cut out a leaf shape either by hand or by pinning a real leaf onto the fabric and cutting around it using it as a template. Stitch these fabric leaves to either end of the ribbon you will tie around the box.

Wrap your candle in complementary coloured tissue paper and place inside the box. Tie with ribbon and add your swing tag.

Happy Mother's Day - Sania Pell

You can read my post on the fab Liberty blog here and peruse the range of Liberty print fabrics.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day and I hope your mums like their gifts.

If you like this project then and there are more of my diy craft projects here. Each of my books also contains 50 craft projects.


*Please remember never to leave a burning candle unattended.


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graphic printer’s tray project

February 7, 2013  in books, diy craft projects

Printer's tray artwork project by Sania Pell

For some of the projects in my book The Homemade Home for Children, I made several variations but there just wasn’t space to show them all within the book. So I thought it would be interesting to show you some of the ones that we didn’t photograph for the book. They are extensions of the projects, helping to show how the basic idea can be taken and interpreted in different ways to create unique items for your home. Shown here is a variation of the Graphic Box project on pages 158 and 159 of the book and even though it was meant for small children, I really like the monochrome graphic quality and modernist feel and would be happy to have it on display anywhere in my house. This version hasn’t been seen anywhere before so thought I would take some photos and share it on my blog.

Graphic Box project from the Homemade Home for Children by Sania Pell

Graphic Box project from the Homemade Home for Children by Sania Pell

I had bought the old printer’s trays years ago from an antiques market in Greenwich, just because I liked it and thought I would use it at some point. I painted it white, inset some vintage map graphics into the back of holes and painted some wooden pieces in different shapes, taken from an old children’s game, and stuck them in with sticky pads so they were raised away from the back. I painted it in the simple black and white colour scheme as babies react well to monochrome visuals.

Graphic Box project from Sania Pell's The Homemade Home for Children book

The large printer’s tray that features in the book was bought at my local car boot sale and I photographed this too below. The idea for was to create teaching aids that you would be happy to have on the wall and keep for future generations. I also made one for colours which is shown in the book and there is also another version that looks like a little house in the introduction pages if you have a copy of the book to flick through.

Graphic Box project from Sania Pell's The Homemade Home for Children book

Graphic Box project © Sania Pell from The Homemade Home for Children book

I wanted this project to show how you can make an attractive, unusual and unique item that will inspire children’s learning and look great hanging on the wall or placed on a shelf. I hope it succeeds.

If you haven’t got a copy of the book you can see some examples of the type of projects I created here.

Happy making
Sania  x

The Homemade Home for Children is published by CICO Books and available now at Amazon UK and Amazon US.


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my pop baubles in grazia magazine

December 14, 2012  in diy craft projects, homemade, news

Disco pop baubles by Sania Pell in Grazia magazine

I had the pleasure of being asked by Grazia magazine’s Rachel Loos to be part of their Christmas special, in a feature on their favourite bloggers’ crafty Christmas ideas. I was asked if I could come up with and create a bauble idea and, as is my way, I created lots of variations of the same idea for the photo shoot and thought I would share them with you. I worked with photographer Chris Tubbs on the shoot for the magazine but I also I took a few snaps at home that you can see below, they are so easy to make why not give them a go yourself?

Homemade Christmas baubles by Sania Pell

Homemade neon sparkle baubles by Sania Pell

Homemade sequin Christmas bauble by Sania Pell

As it was Grazia, I wanted to break away from the traditional Christmas colours and give my baubles a fashion edge as well as a seasonal feel. Using basic plain glass baubles as my starting point I combined disco sparkle in the form of glitter and sequins in silvers and greys, with Pop-inspired fluorescent neon paint and ribbon made from strips of some of my favourite fashion fabrics by Liberty. In others I tipped tiny beads topped by ribbon from VV Rouleaux and applied embossed black and white messages giving them a kind of disco/80s/punky feel.

Neon sequin and bead Christmas baubles by Sania Pell

Pink neon and glitter Christmas bauble by Sania Pell

Neon disco pop glitter baubles by Sania Pell

The Dymo message tape and labelmakers can be bought from places like WH Smiths and is a fun way of encorporating messages on all sorts of things like labels for jam jars of collected treasures or name tags on gifts.

Glitter and bead Christmas baubles by Sania Pell

Dymo message Christmas baubles by Sania Pell

Homemade Christmas baubles by Sania Pell

I was quoted in Grazia saying “I like taking something plain and giving it a twist” and that is really my approach to making and creating as well as for interiors and styling.

Homemade Happy Christmas baubles by Sania Pell

The great thing about making your own decorations is you can choose colour combinations that work with your Christmas theme and interior style, and change things around each year if you wish. With plain glass baubles you can use whatever beads, sequins and ribbons you have to create unique and personal decorations that will catch your guests’ eyes when they visit over the festive holidays.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone.

If you like this idea have a look at my bauble ideas from last Christmas and my sequin disco vase idea that I posted when I first started this blog.


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making time for christmas

December 5, 2012  in diy craft projects, homemade

Homemade lavender bags by Sania Pell

If you’ve followed my blog since the early days you may know I help each year with my children’s school Christmas fair since my son first started nursery, and this year was no exception. Being part of the school community is a wonderful thing. When the children were little and I stayed at home and looked after my baby daughter, helping at the school gave me a creative outlet and contributed to a community that helped all the school children. Now my children are both at school and I am working much more I have less time to help, but this year I still managed to make a few items for the fair in evenings and spare moments which we sold on the gifts stall at the fair last Saturday. I snapped a few photos in my kitchen of some of the things I had made and thought I would share them.

Homemade lavender bags by Sania Pell

Homemade lavender bags by Sania Pell

Lavender bags are always popular, you can’t help but smell them when you pick them up, and however many we make (and between us we made almost 100 this year), we sell every single one. We sold them as singles or double packs in linen and Liberty print fabric, with a ribbon tied around them. They’re simple to make even if you have basic sewing skills and there are how-to instructions in my first book if it feels daunting. I posted about lavender bags as a great mother’s day gift back in March (see post) but they are perfect Christmas gifts too.

Vintage playing card notebooks by Sania Pell

These little black notebooks were bought from my local Tiger store and I just added some vintage playing cards, bought from a car boot sale, to the front covers with double-sided tape. These are a simpler adaptation of the notebook project in my latest book (see my previous post). Great as a stocking filler with a little pack of coloured pencils.

Vintage playing card notebooks by Sania Pell

Vintage playing card notebooks by Sania Pell

The festive wreaths below are another popular item and look fab hanging from your front door or inside your home. This year I bought heart-shaped basic woven wreaths and decorated them with felt leaves that were cut out and stuck on. To do this pin a real leaf from a tree to your felt and cut around it as accurately as possible. I embellished with ribbons and covered buttons at the top of the wreath and added little birds from DZD. To see another variation of this project see my post with instructions from last year here.

Embellished christmas wreath by Sania Pell

Embellished christmas wreaths by Sania Pell

Embellished christmas wreath by Sania Pell

Lots of parents helped and we also made lots of other items like hair clips and bands, embellished cushions, decorations, jars of sweets and lots of gifts donated by local companies and parents. It was a successful day, we raised money for the school but most importantly it was a lot of fun for children, parents and teachers to all get together on the same day.

Now it’s time to get back to planning our own family Christmas!


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craft project : coat hanger heart

August 31, 2012  in diy craft projects, homemade

coat hanger heart by Sania Pell

coat hanger heart by Sania Pell

Homemade ornaments like this fabric-wrapped coat hanger heart are simple to make and add little touches of personality to a space. I made this whilst on holiday to hang from a nail on an otherwise plain wall in the children’s bedroom in our Croatian holiday home. This is a variation of the technique used in Goldfish Bowl Mobile project from my latest book The Homemade Home for Children and the fabric-wrapped coat hanger project from my first book The Homemade Home, both books have full instructions if you would like to try it at home.

To make: Firmly bend the wire of the coat hanger into a heart shape with your hands. Select thin strips of fabric or pieces of ribbon and secure one end with double-sided tape. Twist the ribbon around the wire, when you have run out start again with another piece using double-sided tape to secure again. Continue until the wire is completely covered.

coat hanger heart art by Sania Pell

I bought the straw hat in the photo from a market stall in the local village, I couldn’t resist changing the ribbon to a grey and white spotty one! The heart-shaped leaf was actually picked straight from a climbing vine growing up a tree by our terrace, such a perfect shape.

A simple, little decoration that helps bring personality and fun to my children’s bedroom.


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quick idea : liberty plant pots

June 5, 2012  in diy craft projects, flowers

sania pell liberty plant pots

Here is a quick idea to update plain and simple terracotta plant pots with paint and fabric. I made these pots for my book launch at Liberty to help personalise and style my corner of the store. Liberty print fabric works well as the ditsy pattern contrasts against the flat paint and it is available in a multitude of colours and variations, plus you only need a little so it is a great idea for using up those remnants you keep hold of.

sania pell liberty print plant pot

The plant pots are easy to make and add a little detail to an otherwise plain vessel. I bought standard-shaped classic terracotta pots in various small sizes from a local independent garden centre, but they are readily available at big stores like B&Q and Homebase and are very reasonably priced. Paint your pot in a colour that fits with your scheme. I used household paint that was easily at hand, some left-over Fired Earth and a Farrow & Ball tester pot, that both happened to be water based emulsion. I gave the pots two coats to give the terracotta a solid covering and left them to dry.

sania pell liberty pot

To create a strip around the top, wrap your fabric around the circumference to mark the length then cut a strip of fabric slightly longer than circumference by the height of the lip of the flower pot. Stick double-sided tape onto the reverse and stick straight onto the lip of the flower pot, overlapping slightly at the end. Using tape also means you can remove the fabric and re-use it, or change it to another fabric.

sania pell plant pot project

I also cut out some small motifs directly from the patterned fabric. To do this, iron bondaweb to the reverse of the fabric to prevent fraying and then cut out the motif with small, sharp fabric scissors. Using a paint brush and pva glue paint the glue onto the reverse and carefully stick into place. You could have just one motif or continue the pattern all the way around. These are really suitable for inside use only (though may be ok outside for a dry summer). Don’t forget to place them on a saucer though before watering the plants as these type of pots tend to have drainage holes in the bottom.

sania pell liberty plant pots

I photographed them recently in the Curiosity Cabinet project from my new book The Homemade Home for Children, which hangs on the wall in my daughter’s bedroom. The pots and vases in the background create a trompe l’oil effect – a little trick to the eye.

This is just a small, fun way to update something ordinary that can make your house unique to you.

If you like this idea, you may also like my fabric wrapped vases.


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silver lining

April 19, 2012  in diy craft projects, homemade

cloud brooch by sania pell

This is a favourite brooch of mine that I made and wore at the Decorate book launch last year in April. I was intending on wearing a high street brooch I had bought from Hoss (a favourite store of mine), but decided the day before the launch that I should wear one that I had made rather than bought. So I got busy and made this little felt cloud brooch. The silver scissors and heart key charms were lucky finds at Sunbury antiques fair in Kempton and are little surprises amongst the glistening silver beads of rain. The scissors open and shut and are really quite special.

cloud brooch by Sania Pell

There is an embroidered felt brooch project in my new book and the rain cloud motif also features in a project too. Both projects have full step-by-step instructions on how to make them if you want to try this at home. If you love jewellery you might also like this post.

cloud brooch by Sania Pell

Wearing a homemade brooch on your clothing is something that people always notice, and, as I wrote in my first book, there is nothing like the feeling you get when someone remarks how much they like something and you can reply “I made it”.


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gift idea : homemade lavender bags

March 14, 2012  in diy craft projects, homemade

lavender bags by Sania Pell

With Mother’s Day around the corner I thought I would share a simple idea that makes a perfect gift for mum – the ever-popular lavender bag. These little bags are simple to make, smell gorgeous and will add a but of fun and colour to any drawer or wardrobe. Who wouldn’t like to receive a homemade bundle of these?

lavender bags by Sania Pell

All you need to do is cut two same-sized square pieces of fabric (mine are about 12cm wide), place them back-to back inside out and sew them together almost all the way around. Then turn them the right way out and fill with dried lavender through the gap you have left open. Sew the gap up and there you have it! I especially like Liberty print fabrics for lavender bags but linens, stripes and spots work well too. You only see one side facing up when in your draw so use your favourite fabric on one side with a plain reverse. (And yes, that’s a little Liberty suitcase too!)

lavender bags by Sania Pell

lavender bags by Sania Pell

Use remnants of fabric you have at home and play around. Match the sides or contrast them, try patterned with plain, bright with muted. Whatever you fancy or think the lucky recipient may like. All of the lavender bags I photographed here were made with offcuts of fabric and donated ribbons and lavender. They were made by myself and other mum’s from my son’s school class, to sell as gifts at the school fair to help raise money. They are a variation of the project in my book – The Homemade Home – which has a full, step-by-step illustrated guide if you would like clear instructions on how to make them.

lavender bags by Sania Pell

lavender bag detail by Sania Pell

The bags below are my favourites and I ended up buying them back at the school fair as I couldn’t bear to part with them. I made them with a small piece cut from a length of gorgeous Liberty fabric that was given to me by my friend Holly Becker. It was the fabric we chose as the table runner at our table styling demonstration with Leslie Shewring, for Holly’s Decorate book launch at the Liberty store in London.

lavender bags by Sania Pell

lavender bag gift by Sania Pell

A bundle of three lavender bags, made by you for your mum, tied up with a pretty ribbon and placed in a simple gift box with a personalised tag. A sweet gift that costs little but means a lot.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.


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time for tea

February 29, 2012  in diy craft projects, vintage finds

clock face coaster by sania pell

Over the last year I seem to have collected a rather large selection of old watch and clock faces from car boot sales and fairs. I love their graphic quality and can’t resist them, using them in projects, displays and as ornaments. Following on from my wristwatch post and the purchase of a new graphic tea cup while in Whitstable, it occurred to me that the larger ones could become a perfect coaster for my new cup and protect the surface of my freshly painted kitchen table.

clock faces by sania pell

I now have a large selection including some much larger clock faces too which would look fun in the base of a circular tray.

clock face coaster by sania pell

blossom by sania pell

This time of year is my favourite for flowers, with beautiful new blossom available in my local florist. I couldn’t help but include it in the photos.

clock face coaster by sania pell

My pretty, striped new cup is a ‘tea bowl’ by ceramacist Vicky Hageman and was recently purchased from Frank in Whitstable, Kent – a little memento of our visit. In the top photo the sugar bowl is from Arne Jacobsen‘s Cylinda Line series by Stelton and the small spoon was from Muji. My well-used Ikea kitchen table that they are sitting on has been refreshed in Farrow & Ball No.46 Downpipe grey. The little milk jug in the image below is from Priscilla Carluccio’s Few and Far, a lovely store which is sadly closing.

clock face coaster by sania pell

A quick and simple idea for a little bit of fun at tea time. Now where’s the biscuit tin?


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homemade vintage candle

January 13, 2012  in diy craft projects, homemade

vintage tart tin candle

This is a simple idea I had that is easy to do and gave a result that I found pleasing – a candle made with common tea lights and a vintage tart tin.

On my monthly car boot sale trips I had been buying various old baking trays, pots and jars for use as props in my Sugar/Spice shoot with Uli Schade. After the shoot I left them out on display in my studio to see if they inspired any ideas for what to do with them, rather than hide them away in one of my cupboards.

I love the rich patina of the old, weathered cooking equipment and and the implied history this gives them. How old are they and how many times have they been used? Who were the cooks that used them? What did they bake and who was it for? These kind of questions always get my mind whirring imagining the answers to the life they had led.

vintage tart tins

As I was looking in one of my kitchen cupboards one day I saw a bag of Ikea tea light candles and that sparked the idea to turn these vintage tins into candles.

candle by sania pell

I took three of the Ikea tea lights and pushed the solid wax blocks out of their thin metal casings and then pulled out the wicks by their metal disks. I placed the wax cylinders next to each other in one of the vintage tart tins, then placed it on the smallest of my gas cooker rings and melted them on a very low heat. When they had fully melted I turned off the flame, placed the wicks with the metal discs at the bottom into the desired position, leaving equal space between them, and then left it to cool. The wax hardened and I was left with a new simple candle.

homemade vintage tart tin candle by Sania Pell

This idea could be extended to a whole tray of muffin tins with one melted tea light per compartment to make a great centrepiece to a table. The base may need felt, cork or wood under it to protect the surface it sits on and, as with all flames, never leave them unattended.

When the candles have been used up, the tin can be refilled in the same way to make another candle to enjoy.

Simple little lights to warm up these cool, dark winter evenings.


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message in a bauble

December 23, 2011  in diy craft projects, homemade

photo by Uli Schade

As Christmas is almost upon us I wanted to share the last few photographs of my collaboration with photographer Uli Schade. This is another simple idea to update plain glass baubles.

photo by Uli Schade

We finely shredded pages from an old book using a guillotine to cut between the lines of printed text, creating slivers of paper that we simply coiled into the baubles after removing the top. You could use scissors or a craft knife with a metal ruler on a cutting board to cut strips too and tweezers can help position them within the bauble. If you don’t have an old book then you could photocopy or print out your favourite carol or a passage from a Christmas-themed story book instead.

photo by Uli Schade

I also collected a few natural objects from the woodland floor on a walk with my family: pine cones, acorns and dried leaves that I sprayed a matt off white colour as additional festive decorations.

Wrapping gifts in a creative way makes a gift feel extra special for the lucky recipient and will look wonderful on display in your home until to is time to give the gift. Beautiful old metal cake tins like this one make wonderful, unique boxes for gifts with their tarnished silver patina. Keep an eye out for them at flea markets and car boot sales.

photo by Uli Schade

First I wrapped around the box with cotton ribbon.  I then wrapped a twig in strips of Liberty fabric, attached with double sided tape. Beads were glued in place and stitched on like berries. Japanese paper was cut into leaf shapes and folded to imitate the texture of real leaves and a sprayed leaf was added too.

photo by Uli Schade

And that just about wraps up my creative Christmas collaboration with Uli Schade. We hope you like the ideas and the photographs and have fun making this holiday season.


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