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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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?
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
I now have a large selection including some much larger clock faces too which would look fun in the base of a circular tray.
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.
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.
A quick and simple idea for a little bit of fun at tea time. Now where’s the biscuit tin?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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