Category Archives: Handy Hankers

Homemade Baby Blankets

The big gap in posts was because I was busy creating a little person but a few months on I’ve got my hanker back and so it is fitting to recommence with a baby related hanker!

Inspired by the quirky baby blankets I wrote about by Carousel Belle I decided to try to make my own. How hard could it be? Well certainly harder than hitting ‘Add to Basket’, but not too hard. I may have lost a few hours looking at colourful cottons and soft plush fabrics on Plush Addict and hanging around my local fabric shop. But eventually I chose retro lions;

baby blanket lion

Colourful pigs; and baby blanket pigs

Faux cow hide to match the nursery wallpaper.

baby blanket cow

I sewed the two pieces of fabric together wrong sides facing leaving a small gap so I could turn them right side out and sewed up the edge. I had a bit of an issue with the plush fabric stretching in the machine so had to redo some of the stitching to correct the wonkiness. They’re certainly not professional quality but I’m pleased with how they turned out and the cow one is a bit of a favourite with baby already.

Plush Addict have gorgeous fabrics and some good value remnant packs to start out with if you fancy having a go.

Tagged , , ,

Fashion Antidote

At school, sewing machines scared me. I was certain my fingers were going to be punctured by the needle going up and down in a blur, so all my concentration was spent on making sure that didn’t happen and unfortunately not on my sewing. But after having several quotes recently for loose chair covers, cushions and curtains, I decided that I should get over this fear and learn how to use a sewing machine so I can make things myself.

I looked at several courses held across London and considered The Thrifty Stitcher in Stoke Newington and Saturday Sewing Session in Chelsea but decided on one run by Fashion Antidote just off Brick Lane. I chose the One Day Intensive Sewing Class because I thought it looked the most thorough and covered a lot for the price of £95 and also because I’m a tad impatient and there was a class the following week.

Fashion Antidote LogoAs I walked up the stairs of Fashion Antidote’s compact studio the sound of sewing machines clacking and the smell of ironing greeted me. There were two courses going on that day, the 1 Day Intensive Class and the Skills Training Programme, a professional standard course for people wanting to get into the fashion industry, and so it was a nice bustling environment in which to learn.

Our tutor Josefine Wing was clearly very skilled (she runs Mint Siren, a lingerie and accessories label) and quickly got the six of us beginners on the course comfortable with the sewing machines. We spent the morning going through the parts of the sewing machines, how to set up the machines,  wind the bobbin and sew basic stitches. Then we spent the rest of the day making a small skirt out of calico so that we could learn all the elements including how to sew different seams, darts, insert a waistband, a pocket, attach a concealed zip and at the end of the day we went through the basics of patterns.

My finished practice skirt

Josefine was really helpful in recommending where to buy fabric and which sewing machine to buy and with her help, along with the lovely ladies in John Lewis, I chose a good all round sewing machine that I’m very happy with and find easy to use. The Singer 160 Anniversary Sewing Machine did tempt me with its good looks but the price helped restrain me from buying it.

Singer 160 Anniversary Sewing Machine

I really enjoyed Fashion Antidote’s course and at the end of the busy day was rather pleased with my skirt and, although it’s too small to wear, I marked all the seams and stitches so I can refer back to it to refresh my memory. I felt so confident with my sewing ability afterwards that I was able to come home and make a little dress for my god-daughter.

If you sew, what have you made recently?

Tagged , , , , ,

Knitted Baby Blanket

After I knitted my first scarf a few months back, I had a hanker to make something a little more challenging. My friends and their daughter are staying with us this week, so a couple of months ago I thought I’d try to make a baby blanket for her first birthday.

As it was to be the third thing I’ve knitted, I was looking for a basic pattern that looked a little fancier than it was. After a bit of searching I found a pattern by The Wooly Knitter on Etsy called Bethan  that only requires knit and purl stitches but has a more complicated looking texture.

Susan in Mrs Moon helped me choose Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn, a cotton and wool mix in a gorgeous dark pink called Jelly Bean that you can stick in the wash and even in the tumble dryer (on a low heat).

So I set about knitting and was quite pleased with myself until I made a mistake a quarter of the way through. I kept knitting convincing myself that it wouldn’t be noticeable but it turned out it was very noticeable so, after trying and failing to fix it, I ended up unravelling it all and starting again.

With this little set-back I was rather behind schedule so have spent the last two weeks knitting frantically trying to get it finished in time. My husband has started affectionately referring to me as ‘the claw’, but despite the repetitive strain injury I’m quite chuffed with the finished blanket.

My hand knitted Bethan Baby Blanket

On one side is a wave pattern and on the other a woven pattern.

My attempt at The Wooly Knitter's Bethan Baby Blanket

And here is the little lady snuggling up to it with her milk on her birthday.

The finished blanket

Any recommendations on what I can knit next?

Tagged , , ,

Light Up, Light Up!

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last month or so, we’ve had a few sad weeks and I wasn’t hankering for anything that I could share with you here. But I’ve finally got my hanker back.

It feels like we’ve been decorating our bedroom for months, it started off as 1970s hideousness. Brown carpet, huge brown fitted wardrobes with smoked mirrored doors to make it even darker, gold spotlights, peach vertical hanging blinds, leaded windows that made you momentarily think you were in prison upon waking and an Artex ceiling. To make it more brown we had some beautiful but massive teak Lombok furniture that my husband brought with him when we moved in together.

We wanted rid of the brown and in its place a clean white room with navy and red accents. So once the ceiling had been skimmed, the double glazing replaced and the wardrobes removed we could think about the colour scheme. I had in mind chevrons or zig zags. (Don’t know the difference between a chevron and a zig zag? Discover it here). But after looking in all my usual places and more I couldn’t find any zig zag or chevron fabric in the UK that was just one colour on white, the few I found were a mish-mash of colours. It was while reading about Natasha’s wedding fabric on Writer Reader Baker Bride that I discovered Spoonflower, unlike Natasha I didn’t create my own fabric design but I did find the zig zags I was looking for.

Bias Zig Zag Navy on White by RuthiePearl at Spoonflower

In my excitement at ordering samples, I totally missed that Spoonflower are based in the US and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks had passed that I looked back at the website and found out. So it did restrict how much I ordered as I wasn’t sure if Her Majesty’s boys at Revenue & Customs might whack a little extra on when it arrived in the UK. But when my three yards arrived less than two weeks later it came straight to my door.

The fabric was for lampshades, I wanted two small shades over the bed instead of bedside lamps and a big lampshade in the centre of the room. As I’d never tried making lampshades before I bought two small kits from Needcraft and thought I’d make them first to figure out how to do it and then bought the parts to make a big drum shade 70cm in diameter. They were surprisingly easy to make, if a little fiddly getting the fabric on straight. It reminded me of covering my school books with sticky-backed plastic as a kid.

My homemade lampshades trio

Talking of school, I made the schoolgirl error of cutting the fabric for the small lampshades from the wrong edge of the fabric which meant I didn’t quite have enough for the big one and had to fill it in with a patch, which caused a fair amount of swearing at the time, but you can hardly tell now it’s up.

What do you think?

If you’re wondering how to make a lampshade you can watch a video here.

Tagged , , , ,

DIY Baby Tail

Since writing about baby tails I’ve found a handy version for any of you hankering after the mermaid one but unwilling or unable to pay the £70 price tag.

Mermaid Cocoon Knitting Pattern - 4aSong

Order the knitting pattern from Etsy seller 4aSong and knit your own mermaid baby tail cocoon (or ask someone nicely to knit it for you) for $4 plus the cost of the yarn.

4aSong have plenty of other sweet patterns, admittedly not all very practical, there are lots of novelty ones for photo shoots. But this one would keep little legs warm out and about in the buggy or during a daytime nap.

If any of you give this a try I’d love to hear how you get on…

Tagged , , ,

Not Just For Grannies

When I was six or seven my granny taught me to knit. I wasn’t very good at it and would just knit one long thing and because I always forgot how to cast off I’d end up leaving it unfinished. But my granny knitted really well and always had a bag or cardigan on the go and would knit us amazing things like Scooby Doo and Super Ted toys, she would put pencils in their arms and legs to make them straight which would often poke you when you cuddled them, but on the plus side could come in handy for some impromptu drawing. They lasted so brilliantly I passed them on to my daughter and even though she’s too old for them now, they can get passed down to the next baby in the family.

I was thinking how nice it would be to make things to pass down through the family or to give as special gifts for friends’ babies, so I Googled knitting lessons and the first one that came up was Mrs Moon who, it turns out, are just down the road from me. The beginners knitting patterns on the website looked so impressive that I booked a Beginners Knitting class.

Sisters Karen and Susan opened Mrs Moon in 2009 and they’ve got some beautiful pattern books and yarn. In the shop they display a few samples they’ve made from the patterns so you can see what the finished product should look like. They also have a really gorgeous array of buttons.

Karen led the beginners knitting class at the back of the shop and it was nice and cosy with me and just one other person so I got lots of one-to-one help with casting on, knitting, purling and casting off. I was very chuffed with the little square of knitting I had created and amazed at how it all came back to me, I had been convinced I’d forgotten the lot. So, full of excitement, I chose some yarn and knitting needles with the help of Susan so I could go off and knit a scarf.

My Knitted Scarf - TheHankerer

I’ve been a bit under the weather this week but that means that I finished my scarf in just two sessions (and caught up on everything that I had recorded that I’m not allowed to watch if anyone else is in the room – One Born Every Minute, Masterchef etc.).

I popped back today for some red wool for a snood, I know it’s the wrong season but I don’t trust the British weather.

To be honest, when I mentioned that I was going to learn to knit I got more than a little teasing about it. I went along to this class thinking I’d be really rubbish and that it might be a waste of time but I really enjoyed it. I’m going to do a couple more easy patterns and then I think I’ll go along to another of their classes so I can make something a bit trickier. Karen and Susan are so friendly and helpful and got me really excited about learning something new. Pop over to their website and have a look, if you order online before 1pm they ship your order the same day.

To find a knitting course near you look at the list on the UK Hand Knitting Association website.

Have you got any knitting stories?

Tagged , , , , ,

Suitcase Shelves

I was online looking for shelves and I stumbled across these beautiful vintage suitcase shelves by Quirks By Annie. I think they’re awesome.

Vintage Suitacase Shelves by Quirks by Annie

They are $100 which I think is quite reasonable but unfortunately for me they are all the way in California. Shipping to the UK is £35 and if a customs charge is applicable it could get expensive. I’m not that handy but I’m hankering after them, I wonder how hard it could be to make some?

If you’re wondering too, there’s quite a few tutorials online but I thought this one looked the most easy to follow.

Tagged , , ,

Animals Stampede

Our spare bedroom was in need of some love. The brown and yellow patterned carpet had seen better days, the peach vertical office blinds were a) peach and b) not in an office and there was scary 1970s doll wallpaper in one corner where we had taken out the built-in wardrobe to make more space. It needed to be de-uglyed.

We currently use it as a spare room but at some point in the future we might want to put a little person in there. Given that decorating makes me quite angry (a case of big ideas coupled with inadequate decorating skills) I didn’t want to decorate it twice, so wanted something that would work as a spare bedroom or as a nursery.

I have been hankering after the Florence Broadhurst wallpaper design ‘Horses Stampede’ from Places & Spaces for about eight years now.

Stampeding Horses by Florence Broadhurst

It comes in quite a few different colour ways and coordinating fabric (John Lewis sells cushions) but when I saw the £220 price tag I realised I’ll probably still be hankering after it in another eight years.

Instead we settled on stampeding cows.

Iltavilli wallpaper by Brewers

This wallpaper from Brewers Marimekko 2 collection is still not cheap but we only needed one roll as it’s a wider width than normal. It’s good quality and thick enough that the edges don’t tear when wet with paste. My dad is a Wallpapering Master but even with his help we took some time lining up the design as it’s so busy, but it was worth it as you can’t see any of the joins. Each cow is slightly different and the hand-drawn feeling is really nice. It also comes with a bright background in either pink or green if you’re feeling bold.

Once the cows were on the wall I felt the urge to paint some of the cow’s noses pale pink to add a bit of colour, but instead of ruining the new wallpaper bought a bright yellow throw in the sale and added some bright cushions.

Our Spare Bedroom

To save some money we decided I’d try my hand at fitting the carpet. A carpet offcut cost us £50 from our local carpet shop and after some You Tube tutorials I got stuck in. It was much easier than I expected. Considering this was a first attempt and I did it on my own, although not perfect, I am quite proud! It probaly saved us around £100, which paid for the wallpaper, paste and tools.

We just need some curtains now…

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: