• Country craft

    Wind a woolly heart decoration

    by  • 08/01/2017 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    While away a winter evening by using wool oddments and remnants to make country-style heart decorations, a tactile addition to table settings.

    Begin by cutting heart shapes from a sheet of thick card – our hearts measured about 5cm across. Next, start winding wool around the heart shape, taking care to catch the end as you wind the wool to secure. Continue to wind the wool until the whole card is covered and you have achieved a generously padded look. Snip and tuck the wool end into the back of the decoration by pushing in with a bodkin.

    If desired, you can add an extra element by winding a few more loops of wool in a contrasting colour around the decoration, tucking in the loose ends as before. We used the hearts to create napkin ties by stitching on to string with a sprig of rosemary.

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    Present festive bottles in pretty tea towels

    by  • 18/12/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Bottles are notoriously tricky to wrap. Rather than sticking them in a plain bottle bag, why not opt for this clever tea towel packaging tip? A two-for-one gift idea that’s just as easy to do and looks so stylish! Here’s how…

    Lay the tea towel face down and put the bottle centrally on top (choose heavier cotton or linen tea towels for a luxurious look; Jazz striped tea towel, £10:99 for 2, Linen Me, Jingle Bells tea towel, £10, Plum & Ashby). Draw the middle points of the side edges of the tea towel to the bottle and secure with sticky tape. Cut a length of string ready to use. Use both hands to draw the front and back of the tea towel up and around the bottle, carefully shaping any folds for neatness.

    Hold in place with one hand and wrap the piece of string around the bottle neck to keep the ends of the tea towel in place and tie off. Take your choice of decorative twine, ribbon or string and wrap around the bottle top, knotting off at the back. Finish with a label featuring printed wood decorations.

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    Give gifts in hand-stitched parcels

    by  • 11/12/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Make the wrapping just as exciting as the present itself with a cute hand-stitched parcel. We show you how…

    Begin by wrapping your gift in bubble wrap or tissue paper to prevent sharp edges tearing the wrapping paper. Place your wrapping paper face down and put the gift on top. Draw the desired shape around, allowing enough extra space to fit around the gift and for the stitches. Cut out an and use as a template to cut another shape to match.

    Using a bodkin, thread with string or twine and begin to stitch the shapes together, around 2cm in from the edge, leaving a long thread end at the start. When halfway around, insert the gift then continue to stitch. When complete, tie off the ends in a knot or bow and add a hand-stamped label. For extra detail, insert a layer of decorative paper cut just larger than the template.

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    Craft a pinecone kissing ball

    by  • 04/12/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Originating from days gone by when festive foliage was hung above a door to welcome guests, kissing balls are easy to make with a little patience. Here’s how…

    Begin with a large polystyrene ball. Push a piece of thick wire through the centre (a similar gauge to coat-hanger wire is suitable), then been and trim off the ends with some wire cutters to create a loop at either end. Thread one end with a loop of string. Take the pine cones and begin to attach to the ball with a glue gun, spreading the glue so the cones attach to each other as well as to the ball for stability. Cover any gaps with berries or foliage, such as holly, gluing in place as before. Finally, attach a ribbon bow to the top before hanging up.

    Hang in the porch for a rustic statement. To make it extra special, you could add miniature bells to bring the sound of Christmas into the garden as the ball sways in the wind.

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    Hang a twinkling festive lantern

    by  • 27/11/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Lights, glitter, pine cones and sparkling baubles all come together to create a pretty decoration idea for the porch this Christmas…

    To start, apply a small amount of PVA glue to the pine cones, then sprinkle over some glitter and leave to one side to dry. Place battery-operated LED copper wire lights inside some brass lanterns, then layer up with the baubles and cones to create the desired effect. Hang the lanterns from holders, either inside your home or near your front door to welcome visitors!


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    See on-stand demonstrations at our Christmas show

    by  • 23/11/2016 • Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments


    The Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show (25-27 Nov at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire) is only days away and we’re readying ourselves for a weekend of creativity, with on-stand demonstrations from the inspirational talent behind the UK’s finest boutique brands…

    Have a go at pheasant feather painting (above, top), a technique created and developed by artist Clare Brownlow, having stumbled across it at her parents’ kitchen table in Norfolk. She had forgotten to pack any art supplies so, in a quiet moment, decided to take up a pheasant feather from her father’s stash and, using his fountain pen ink, put ‘quill’ to paper!

    Enjoy quick-make wreath demonstrations with florist Kate Healy, founder of florist Rhubarb & Roses. She’ll be on hand with her team, demonstrating how to use dried fruits, foliage, cones and berries to create your own festive woodland foliage (above, bottom left).

    Mother and daughter duo Michelle and Stephanie of Witts Design use their hand-dyed and screen-printed textiles to create the most beautiful home accessories. Together they’ll show you how to make unique baubles and wreathes (above, bottom right) – the perfect gift for family and friends.

    Feeling inspired? There’s plenty more to see and do throughout the weekend, including block printing with Yateley Papers, needle felting with Mosney Mill and landscape painting with Cathy Mcclymont – phew!

    Not booked yet? Click here to buy your tickets online.

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    Craft a twiggy heart wreath

    by  • 20/11/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    ready_160811_chi_hunguponchristmas_-shot_04_00_12778162_123026232Wreathes are a must for every country home at Christmas, and this heart shape version is easy to recreate. We made ours with stripped willow for a rustic touch, which needs a good soak for a couple of days to make it pliable. Either place in a bath weighed down or buy a special soaking bag.

    Taking four strips of soaked willow, arrange so the thickest ends are together and bind with twine or wreath wire. Tie again about 30cm along the length. Divide and bend the strips to make a heart shape, using the image as a guide, then secure at the base of the heart. The remaining willow ends create an attractive ‘tail’.

    To shape these together, use a temporary tie which can be removed when the willow has dried out. We added some ivy and berries threaded and tied on the wire to make circles, and then we tied on a glass bauble. Hang up with ribbon or attach with twine to the top of the wreath.

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    Craft a rustic berry branch

    by  • 13/11/2016 • Country craft • 1 Comment


    Bring a festive look to doorways, gates and porches with rustic dangling decorations this year. We love these berry branches, it’s such a simple idea that children can get involved, too.

    Create the berry hearts and circles by threading the berries on to wire. Bend the wire into a heart shape, following the image as a guide, then fashion a small loop at the top of the decoration before cutting the excess wire with wire cutters. Thread the loop on to twine, string or decorative ribbon. Hang up a long branch horizontally where the decoration is to be displayed and tie up the hearts along it.

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    Learn the art of Shibori

    by  • 06/11/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Painting expert Annie Sloan introduces us to Shibori, the ancient Japanese art of dyeing fabric to make patterns, with this striking step-by-step lampshade project taken from her new book Annie Sloan Paints Everything (£14.99, CICO Books)…

    • You will need:
    • Small project pot of Chalk Paint® in Napoleonic Blue
    • A generous piece of vintage linen
    • Large glass bowl
    • Pitcher of water
    • Mixing stick
    • Iron and ironing board

    1 Put approximately one tablespoon of Napoleonic Blue into the glass bowl. Pour in the water and use the mixing stick to stir well, making sure the paint isn’t sitting at the bottom of the bowl.
    *Top tip: do a test patch on some spare fabric to check the colour and add more paint if you need to make it stronger.


    2 Concertina the fabric by folding one way, turning the fabric over, then folding the fabric back on itself. The bigger the fold, the bolder the pattern will be.

    3 Concertina-fold the fabric again, but this time into triangles. Fold and then turn the fabric over and fold on the other side. Repeat until you have a complete triangle and tuck in any loose edges.


    4 Before you dip the fabric, make sure the paint has not settled at the bottom of the bowl. If it has, then stir again to mix. Dip the first edge of the folded fabric in the dye and hold for a second until the dye seeps into the fabric. You need to keep the centre of the fabric white.
    *Note: the paint mix will continue to absorb a little after you take out the fabric.


    5 Repeat this step for the other two sides of the triangle. Make sure there is still some undyed fabric left in the centre otherwise there will be little or no pattern.

    6 Open up the fabric immediately to see the pattern and hang it up to dry. Once dry, iron the fabric on a warm setting to set the colour.


    For instructions on making up the lampshade, visit anniesloan.com/techniques

    Extracted from Annie Sloan Paints Everything by Annie Sloan, published by CICO Books. Photography by Christopher Drake © CICO Books.

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    Pick a pretty place setting

    by  • 30/10/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Looking for an original place setting idea? Make the most of in-season apples and carve them into pretty miniature vases to display place-name cards for guests. We used typewriter-style alphabet stamps (£10 for 64, Hobbycraft) for a retro, rustic look.

    Start by using a metal fruit corer to create a small hole in the top of each apple – position the corer above the stem area and gently carve out the centre to create a circular hole. Take a small brush and wipe around the inside with a little lemon juice to avoid the flesh going brown. Push in a small piece of aluminium foil to line the hole (be sure to avoid making any holes in the foil), pressing it into the sides before trimming in line with the top of the apple. Fill with a little water, then arrange flowers and berries inside. Finally, add a stamped place-name card held on fine-gauge wire twisted into a circle using pliers.


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