26. Craft Cupboard Stage 3 - Storage

It's finished! There's not much to add except some photos to show you how I used kitchen and bathroom accessories to store my craft bits and pieces.

On this door I used two wire spice racks from Ikea. We removed the handle and reattached it to the bottom of the rack so it could be used for ribbons.  In between the spice racks is a magnetic knife holder with magnetic spice tins, also from Ikea.

For storage inside the cupboard I used glass candy jars and vintage tins.

On the other door we used a toothbrush holder from Bunnings to hold paintbrushes, and cup hooks to hang scissors, a ruler, and an embroidery hoop. A bulldog clip is used to hold patterns and loose pieces of paper.

Now for a breakdown of the costs!

Cupboard - Free
Wallpaper samples - Free
Primer undercoat $24.00
Taubmans enamel topcoat $29.95
Leftover white enamel paint - Free
Stencil book $2
Brushes $2.50
Shelves - $8 plus $2 for them to be cut to size 
Shelf brackets $8
Spice racks, magnetic knife rack, spice jars, all from Ikea $30
Cup hooks and toothbrush holder from Bunnings $15
Clip for pattern $3

I hope the past three posts have inspired you to think outside the square when it comes to storing your craft.

25. Craft Cupboard Stage 2 - Paint!

Big moment - I finally got to slap some paint onto my cupboard. I've been researching what products would be best and I ended up buying Zinsser Odourless Primer. I'm so glad I did! One quick coat covered up the dark stain of the wood and made the job so much easier. In the past I've been too cheap to buy undercoat but it was so worth the $24.00 price tag. And I only used a small amount so it'll be good for future projects.

Once the undercoat was dry it was time to paint.

I chose Taubmans 'Blue Attraction' water based enamel with a satin finish for the job. I wanted a colour that was reminiscent of 1950s pastels and this soft turquoise colour worked perfectly. I was inspired by a piece of fabric that I found on Kelani Fabric called Central Park by Kate Spain.

After one application - pretty good coverage thanks to the undercoat.

Once the whole thing had 2 - 3 coats of paint I left it to dry overnight then sanded back some of the corners and edges to give it a worn distressed look.  I watched loads of YouTube clips on furniture distressing and most of them involved hurling a chain or a pair of pliers to damage the paint. I didn't want my cupboard to look too obviously distressed so I went easy on the sandpaper and just took a wee bit off.

Next up it was time for the stencil. I bought a wildflower stencil book on bookdepository for around $2 a while back.

Painting on the stencil is a job for a perfectionist pedantic type.. so I got my husband to do it!

I wanted the stencils to be a bit faded and worn so after dabbing on the white paint with a brush he dried it with a hair dryer then wiped off some of the paint with a damp cloth.

And here she is....

From this:

To this:

Total costs so far:

Cupboard - Free
Wallpaper samples - Free
Primer undercoat $24.00
Taubmans enamel topcoat $29.95
Leftover white enamel paint - Free
Stencil book $2
Brushes $2.50

Both paints have over 3/4 left so they'll be used for other projects.

Make sure you check back next week for my post on pimping out the inside. I can't wait to put all of the little storage bits and pieces I've been collecting to use.

Family Heirlooms

One of my most treasured possessions is a scruffy little book of poetry that once sat on my Poppa's bookshelf. The story goes that he used to read the poems aloud to my dad and uncles when they were boys and while he read, he would doodle in the margins.  Whenever I look through that book I remember everything I truly loved about my dear old Poppa. The way he used to whistle. Poppa sitting on his chair at six in the morning in his robe and slippers listening to crackly weather reports on the radio.  The way he used to call me 'Becca'.  That little green book has followed me throughout my many moves, from Wellington to Auckland and back, and now over the sea to Australia.  It means everything to me because it encapsulates all of the wonderful things I remember about him. His intellect and sharp wit, his lyrical voice and gift for storytelling, and his sense of mischievousness and fun.

Recently when I was back in New Zealand, my sister, mum, and I went to visit my Nana for a morning of chatter, looking through old photographs, and Nana's date loaf.  What a gift that Nana has kept all of her photographs from the time she was a girl until now. We oohed and aahed over Nana in her twenties, splendid in a smart 1940s suit and hat as she walked arm in arm with a group of girlfriends, a wide smile on her lips.  Poppa on his honeymoon looking young and handsome as he sat on a rocky shore proudly displaying a neat row of fish that he'd caught. Nana on the beach in the 1950s in a polka dot swimming costume, hair blowing wild, three small boys playing in the sand nearby.

While we were sipping tea my sister reminded Nana of a comment she had made about her wedding dress a while ago. Apparently she mentioned that she might throw it away, because she hadn't looked at it since her wedding day and it was taking up room. Those present at the time (God bless you!) shrieked in horror and told her to keep it for me, because if anyone would love and treasure it, I would.

As we opened the tissue that was so carefully wrapped over 60 years ago, my Nana told us the story of her engagement and wedding day.  She said that she had to save to buy the lace for the dress and used rations, because you couldn't just go and buy that amount of lace in those days. She made it herself on her future mother in law's hand powered sewing machine. And it's beautiful.

This blog is all about remaking and upcycling. Making old things into new. This dress however, will be one of the things that I will leave well alone. It will be given to my daughter one day. And when I give it to her I'll tell her about a dental nurse who met a dentist one day in the late 1940s. And how they got married, and made a wonderful life together.

24. Patchwork Bedspread

I recently flew home to New Zealand for a long weekend of child-free relaxation. There were brunches, there was a massage, there was a movie and a glass of wine, and there was mum's lamb roast. All wonderful luxuries that I enjoyed every moment of.  The best part of the weekend though was this gorgeous patchwork bedspread. Mum and my sis made it for me based on the design in Kelly Dousts's book The Crafty Minx and I absolutely love it.

If like me, you love quilts but lack the patience for all of that perfect cutting of squares, then this bedspread is the project for you. It's a basic envelope design - the back is a plain sheet (mine is Queen size) and the front is a series of squares sewn together. The bottom has ties to keep it all closed. At home we call this sort of bedding a duvet. Here in Australia, it's a doona.  They're easy to make and easily removed for washing, and the best part of this project is that you can make it out of your fabric scraps and favourite vintage pieces. Because the squares are small it makes it affordable to splash out on a small amount of that designer print you can't stop thinking about.

To make one of these bedspreads choose your size and buy a good quality plain flat sheet for the bottom. Measure it and work out how many squares you want to use and how big they'll need to be. Drawing a diagram can often help.  Now that you know how many squares you need you can think about whether you want to use a limited palette of colour or go for it with all of those bits of fabric you've been saving up.

Once you have your squares cut out, lay them out on a large table or the floor and have a play with the design.  To sew them it's easier to do the horizontal strips first and then sew them all together being sure to match the seams. Press/iron after each seam that you sew. When you have your front piece completed sew it to the back (right sides together) leaving an opening down the bottom. Sew your ties - these could be rectangles of scraps of your fabrics, ribbons, or you could use buttons.

For more detailed step by step instructions see The Crafty Minx by Kelly Doust.

Happy crafting everyone and thank you mum and sis!

23. Craft Cupboard Stage 1 - Wallpaper Collage

Time to realise the Craft Cupboard dream! In June we had our council clean up collection and across the road from our house I spotted this 1930s cabinet. It was in a pretty sorry state.

It was only after we got it inside that I realised that it's almost exactly like the craft cupboard I have as my dream storage space on my Craft Cupboard Page. Since then I've been researching different paint techniques and storage options and today I made a start on my craft cupboard restoration.

I found some vintage wallpaper books (also in the council clean up) and I decided to use them to do a patchwork collage on the back wall.

I cut out squares of different sizes, making sure to keep my colour palette limited to blue, yellow, and white.

Once I had a pile of squares I glued them onto the back of the cabinet, starting with the largest pieces first. I kept the shiny silvery coloured ones to add as the top layer.

The wallpaper pieces were prepasted but unfortunately the glue no longer worked since they were so old. I used PVA first and then a glue stick to stick down any stray edges.

This technique can be used on any furniture, it would look great on the front of a chest of drawers or on a table top and then covered with a sheet of glass or even varnished.

So far my costs are at $0.00.

Check back next week for stage 2!

22. Tablecloth Pouffe

Remember the tablecloth I found at a thrift store a while back? Last night I transformed it into this pouffe. It looks more complicated than it is - the sewing part is all straight lines and the tufting/button is really simple as long as you have the right tools.  When I was growing up we had a pouffe made out of multi coloured wedges of vinyl. It's still at my mums place now - it's a favourite with the grand kids for watching TV or sitting down for a snack. Only we didn't call it a pouffe. In my family it's known as "The Humpty" and no-one knows why!
Whatever you want to call them, these nifty little pieces of furniture are making a big comeback. They're perfect for propping up tired feet or for a little person to sit on to watch movies. With winter closing in around us now is the perfect time to spend an afternoon in front of the sewing machine making this very satisfying little number.

Cost: Under $30
Time: An afternoon


1 large vintage tablecloth in linen or other thick and durable fabric. Mine was 1.25m square and I fit all of my pieces in with some left over.

500g hobby fill stuffing - $7

2 large buttons $4

1 long upholstery or mattress repair needle $3

2 metal washers, slightly smaller than the buttons .50c

Upholstery thread or fishing line $3

Normal thread, sewing machine, scissors, pins

Here we go...

The first step is resizing and printing your template for the wedges that make up the pouffe. I followed the tutorial on Design Sponge where there is a PDF template. I inserted the image into Word and re sized it before printing it.

Cut out 24 wedges out of your fabric.  Design Sponge recommends cutting 24 wedges out of muslin and sandwiching them onto the back of the fabric to prevent stretching. I didn't bother as I felt that my fabric was durable enough but it is worth considering if you have a lighter fabric.

Once you have your 24 wedges lay them out in two circles of 12 wedges each and have a play with placement and design.

There is an excellent series of images and instructions on how to make the pouffe on the Design Sponge Tutorial.  I doubt I could explain it any better so I won't repeat them all here.

Sewing the wedges together was a bit monotonous for a "make it up as you go along" person like me, but I just love the end result.  Slightly bigger pouffes would look fantastic in an outdoor living area as outside cushions.  I can also see them looking great in a kids room made of bright fabrics with big plastic buttons.

Have fun everyone and enjoy the coming weekend!

Cowgirl Party

For my daughter's 5th birthday she wanted to be a cowgirl. We invited 26 of her friends and hired a community hall where we held a Cowgirl & Cowboy Dance. This party was done on a really tight budget of $120 AUD. It was held between 4pm - 6pm which meant we could give the kids a decent amount of food rather than lots of little bits and  pieces. I find this works out to be cheaper and a lot easier! About an hour into the party we provided american hotdogs, popcorn, and corn chips.

Western themed cake made by my sister

Cheap plastic horses and icing cacti 

Me standing next to my 'Wanted' poster - we made one for
each family member and guest.
Mine was for Naggin and Yellin - don't you know it!

The party table: flannel backed table cloths, aluminium pie plates, raffia "hay"
recycled tins with marshmallows on sticks, and plastic miniature horses.

Hobby Horses for Cowgirls to ride on

The hall was $45 to hire for the day

A tee pee I made out of a calico remnant and some broom handles.

One large calico sheet painted by my husband and some western themed cut outs stuck on
made for a great backdrop for photos and dancing.

Wanted Posters

Welcome sign made from old piece of timber and some paint

The birthday girl

Howdy Partner

Party in progress!

Circus Party on a Budget

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post and I've been missing creating and writing here! I've been to NZ for a long weekend, organising a community knitting project for Stitches for Sisters, and organising my daughter's 7th birthday party.

My daughter is like me in many ways. She loves to plan, and party planning is just about as good as it gets. She's been thinking about her July birthday party since Christmas. One great thing is that she has very definite ideas about themes so we always have something exciting to organise every year. This year she decided she wanted a circus party. Circus/Carnival was such a fun theme to play around with and the party yesterday was a big success.

Sadly (I'm still quite devastated about this) the SD card in our camera corrupted yesterday of all days and we've lost all of the photos of the decorations and tables. You'll have to use your imagination a bit here to compensate for the lack of images. There's a short video below but unfortunately it was AFTER the carnage so the table is all messy. Of course none of this matters to anyone other than me but it still irks.

One of the big challenges is creating a magical themed party on a budget. This is our run down of expenses, I hope this gives you some ideas for your next party!

Hall hire from the city council $11 per hour

Tables - Red tablecloths from Uncle Bills with circus runner from Paper Eskimo, total $16

Yellow clown plastic bunting $2.40 from Uncle Bills

Dress up Photo Booth - wigs, hats, glasses $20


Plastic shot glasses with red jelly $3

Popcorn boxes $6 with homemade popcorn $2

Circus cupcake baking cups $5 with home made cupcakes

Mini hotdogs - small mini bread rolls $8 for 24 plus 2 packets of mini hotdog sausages $5

Mini chocolate bars with  home made circus wrappers $7.50

Water bottles $8 for 24 pack with home made Circus labels - we put a pen next to them and a place to write their name on the bottle which eliminated any lost drinks or sharing
Lollies in glass candy jars which I collected from Op shops $10 for 2


The day began with a circus themed treasure hunt around the grounds outside the hall. We set up 6 clues where the kids had to find things like circus animals hiding in the grass, a red nose, a circus ticket, and a toy lion.  It was a great way to begin the party because it got all of the kids excited and working together.

We wanted to do a carnival type game where the kids had to throw a ball at a tower of cans. We saw a plastic set at Spotlight for $24 and decided to make our own. We collected tins and removed the labels then covered them in red and white striped paper and stuck on some foam stars. This kids loved this game (especially the boys) and was only around $3 to make.

The biggest hit of the day was the face painting table. We bought some cheap mirrors ($3 each) and some face painting kits ($12 for 3 palettes and 2 sets of crayons). We stuck up some pictures of clown faces for inspiration and left them to it. We planned on booking a face painter but they were all around $180 so our DIY table was much cheaper, and really fun.

I used one of my 2nd hand glass jars for a "guess how many in the jar" game. I filled the jar with mini marshmallows then the kids wrote down their name and their guess. At the end of the party we gave the jar to the child who had the closest guess.

We also hired a toy library ring toss game - I highly recommend toy library outdoor toys for birthday parties. A small membership fee is much cheaper than buying a pile of toys you only want for one day.

On the courtyard we set up some skipping ropes and hula hoops which were also well used by all the kids.

Prizes were cheap party toys which I put into cellophane bags ($3.95 for 20) and pinned to a pinboard that I bought from an Op shop for $4. The kids chose which toy they wanted after the treasure hunt.


We downloaded some old style circus music from itunes for $11 which really set the mood for the party.

Overall it was a great afternoon in the winter sunshine and the kids had lots of fun.


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