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What to do with spare fabric

Fabric covered box (c) Ella Johnston

I’ve been designing fabric patterns and have ordered lots of my handprinted leaf design in blue from my Spoonflower shop to craft with. So, after making cushions, lampshades and using it to revamp some little steps I have (more about that later), I’ve got an excess of little bits and pieces.

So what to do? Well I’ve got a lovely set of wooden boxes from and I’ve used my blue and white material to cover these little numbers with. They are really easy to do – simply measure your fabric to fit the box, brush the boxes with PVA and place the fabric so it bonds with the glue, mitring the folds and snipping away any spare bits of fabric as you go.

Here’s the result. These containers are great for those little fiddly household items. I use this box to keep my tea-lights in when I’m not using them and it sits pride of place on my sideboard in the dining room.

Fabric covered box (c) Ella Johnston

Fabric covered box (c) Ella Johnston

Fabric covered box (c) Ella Johnston

Fabric covered box (c) Ella Johnston

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How to organise your craft materials – Part 1

Organise your craft materials part one’m not a woman who spends loads of money on handbags and shoes. I’m not even that much of a voracious clothes buyer. No, I spend pretty much all my disposable income on art and craft materials. Here’s how I organise mine.

As I have so much equipment, I need to organise it in two ways. One, as general put it away and keep things neat and tidy when I’m not using it (more of that later). Two, the things for ‘live work’ – stuff I need as I’m working.

Organise your art and craft equipment

As I mentioned beforeI have an abundance of black Faber Castell India ink PITT artist pens in various nib sizes, plus a load of drawing pencils and probably more scalpels than a woman needs. All of which as an illustrator I need to hand – and all of which I have a habit of mislaying if I don’t have a home for them!

As I’m currently working on my stamped designs as well as my ongoing drawing practice, I have a lot of little fiddly items that I really can’t misplace. There are messy ink pads (in specific colours), scalpel blades and my collection of hand-carved stamps (true one-offs that I really, really don’t want to lose).

These tricky-to-store bits and pieces need a home, and in true crafty fashion I’ve done a bit of upcycling and personalising when it comes to go-to craft room storage.

Organise your craft materials

All the pens and brushes I’ve got on the go, plus my bookbinding tools, are all stored easily to hand in little tins covered with my red heart fabric. Tins make for great storage – they hold so much, I can see what’s in them and access them easily, plus you can line them up in row to look uniform.

Organise your craft equipment

My little inky items live in an old chocolate treats tin that is also covered in my red and white fabric. I love using these round containers: you can stack them up for easy organising and you can pop a lid on them to keep everything concealed. I have lots of these in my craft room, either painted or covered in paper and fabric (I’ve been known to colour code these for stamps, floristry stuff, threads and fabric scraps etc).

Organise your craft materials’s easy to cover both types of tin too. I love a bit of decoupage. You simply use a tape measure to work out the circumference and the height, then cut your fabric to these dimensions (I’ve used pinking sheers for this). Then simply cover the tin with strong PVA glue and wrap around to cover the side. For the lidded tin I’ve cut out sections of fabric and layered these over the lid. I’ve then covered all the containers with PVA to seal the fabric and act as a varnish.

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Easy garden furniture refurb with Americana Decor

Simple garden furniture update decoration at with DecoArt Americana Decor

Last Sunday I got to spend time in our little garden while doing some quick garden furniture maintenance. As you can see above, the folding chairs we’ve had for well over a decade have taken the force of some dismal British winters – and summers, for that matter – first on our London balcony and then here in Wivenhoe. Of course we should have moved them indoors when it rained – but when it rained it was rainy, so we didn’t venture outside. In winter we’d forget about them. Surely we’re not the only ones!

I recently got hold of some really rather lovely Chalky Finish paint from Americana Decor. It’s a matte chalk paint that doesn’t need priming or wood to be sanded down before using – perfect to upgrade an old piece of furniture when you’re short on time (or perhaps just a little lazy). To protect the surface the quick-drying paint is finished with a choice of waxes and varnishes. It really was so simple to apply.

Simple garden furniture update decoration at with DecoArt Americana Decor Simple garden furniture update decoration at with DecoArt Americana DecorSimple garden furniture update decoration at with DecoArt Americana DecorSimple garden furniture update decoration at with DecoArt Americana DecorSimple garden furniture update decoration at with DecoArt Americana DecorThe chair was finished in less than a couple of hours– which left me free to enjoy the late-afternoon sunshine.

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Learning the art of Shibori


It’s always great to learn new craft techniques – especially when they can be put to good use on home and fashion makes. I recently got to grips with the art of Shibori, an ancient Japanese dying technique, during a workshop at White House Arts in Cambridge.

Japanese printing

I went to the one-day workshop with my mum and my sister and we had a go at two Shibori dying methods; Arashi and Itajime.

Arashi shibori is also known as pole-wrapping shibori. You wrap your cloth around a pole (which looks like a large section of plastic industrial piping), then tightly bind it by wrapping a thin cord up and down the pole. Once the cord is secured, you scrunch the cloth up the pole and sink it into the dye. Arashi is the Japanese word for storm – and that’s a pretty accurate description of the kind of effect you get from this particular type of printing. As you can see above in the first picture in this post and in the photograph here:


Itajime shibori is what is known as a shaped-resist technique. This means that an object is placed over the folded fabric (for example, a piece of wood) which be used to form a ‘resist’ that stops the dye making contact with the material. Because the fabric is folded (this can be done in many ways) the end result is a gorgeous geometric design that would look great on bedding and other homewares.

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