Country Living (UK)

A STITCH IN TIME

Turn charming flea-market finds into Scandi-style makes

- Words by christiane bellstedt myers photograph­s by caroline arber

Fabric bunting

Nothing says ‘celebratio­n’ better than row upon row of bunting fluttering in the breeze. It is an establishe­d form of decoration in most countries, especially at weddings, which present a lot of scope for imaginativ­e ideas. Many bridal couples wish to give a small token of appreciati­on to those who have joined them for their day. These little floral pouches provide a decorative element during the event and can be filled with a take-home gift as the guests leave. Simply remove the peg that holds the pouch and take it away. They can be filled with flowers, sweets or another treat as a memento of the day.

YOU WILL NEED

Friction pen Pieces of old plain quilt Scissors Needle and matching thread Cord or ribbon Pieces of floral fabric Wooden pegs

1 Draw as many triangular bunting pieces as you need onto pieces of quilt. Cut out.

2 Fold over the top of each bunting piece and stitch along close to the fabric edge to create a small channel. Thread a length of cord or ribbon through each one.

3 Collect several floral fabrics to create a variety of simple pouches of different shapes and sizes – see left for the ones I used. By not having a uniform shape, the bunting is visually interestin­g and pleasing to the eye.

4 Cut out your shapes and sew right sides together, leaving the top open. You could also stitch different fabrics together in a patchwork.

5 Turn right side out and press neatly.

6 These are now ready to be pegged onto the cord or ribbon of the bunting and filled with your choice of gift – avoid using anything too heavy.

Hanging tin vase

Surprise loved ones with a beautiful posy of seasonal blooms hanging from their front door handle. Traditiona­lly, these would have been delivered to friends and family on the first day of May. I think it is a lovely tradition, and one that can be used for other special days, too, such as Mother’s Day, birthdays or anniversar­ies.

YOU WILL NEED

Tin can, washed and labels removed (including the glue) Cream-coloured water-based eggshell paint Paintbrush Tape measure Piece of old lace fabric Scissors Needle and thread in matching tone to the lace Flowers of your choice

1 Make sure your tin can is clean and dry. Then carefully paint it inside and out with an even layer of paint. Leave to dry completely.

2 Measure the circumfere­nce and double the height of your can and cut a piece of lace fabric to wrap around it, so it covers the entire circumfere­nce (and folds over to create a loose ‘skirt’).

3 Using a needle and thread, sew the two ends of the lace fabric together, so the tin slips into the fabric sleeve but doesn’t fall through (you want it to fit fairly tightly).

4 Cut a strip of fabric and shape into a hanging loop. Sew this to the top of the fabric sleeve where the seam is. Pull the sleeve over the can, fill with a little water and add the blooms ready to gift.

This is a lovely tradition that can be used for special days

Gathering the tools needed to complete simple gardening jobs is always the first tick on my list. As any gardener knows, it’s useful to have more than two hands. This prompted me to create an apron especially for outdoors with pockets to hold secateurs and plant labels but also a pocket with a hole in for string. The pocket holds the ball of string and the end can then be pulled through the hole and cut to any desired length with ease.

YOU WILL NEED

Length of strong reversible fabric (approximat­ely 76cm x 43cm) Needle and matching thread Embroidery scissors 204cm strong woven ribbon for the apron ties Small piece of red gingham fabric (20cm x 5cm)

1 Start by folding and stitching a double hem about 1cm along each side of the fabric. Fold the bottom half of the fabric up to create a pocket that is 23cm deep. Sew down both sides, leaving the long edge open at the top. Sew a seam down the pocket to create two sections. I sewed one 13cm from one edge, which is perfect for a pair of secateurs.

2 Using sharp embroidery scissors, cut a small hole in the larger pocket, making sure it is just wide enough for a piece of string. Sew around the edge of the hole using buttonhole stitch.

3 Cut the woven ribbon to create two 102cm lengths. Sew a length in place to each side of the apron at the top edge.

4 With the gingham fabric, fold and press the short sides by 5mm. Fold each long edge in towards the centre and fold in half lengthways to hide the raw edges. Stitch it closed. You will be left with a piece of fabric resembling a thick ribbon. Fold in half and attach to the outside of the apron to create a loop to hang things through, such as a cloth, as seen above.

Lavender pillow

The thought of re-using a much-loved and worn quilt to make something delicate and charming in this throwaway world is very pleasing to me. It is also lovely to give as a present. I made one for my mother’s 85th birthday and included little pockets where I placed small notes for her to find.

YOU WILL NEED

Piece of old quilt Backing fabric Embroidery thread Needle and matching thread Scraps of fabric Buttons Toy stuffing Pins Dried lavender Scissors

1 Decide on the size you would like your lavender pillow to be. Cut a piece from the old quilt to this size, adding 1cm on all edges for seam allowance. Cut the backing fabric to the same size.

2 Using two strands of embroidery thread, stitch simple designs such as flowers, hearts and cross-stitch motifs onto the quilt. I also added buttons and scraps of fabric cut into squares.

3 Once you’re happy with your design, pin the backing fabric to the quilt piece, right sides together. Stitch the pieces together with a 1cm seam allowance, leaving a gap at one short end. Turn the pillow right side out.

4 Fill the pillow with dried lavender. I added a little stuffing, too, to give it a better shape, especially in the corners, but it is up to you.

5 Turn the edges under at the opening and slip-stitch the opening closed. Shake the pillow to distribute the lavender.

Button jars

Collection­s of old buttons can be found at every flea market or thrift shop. There was a time when nothing was thrown away, the thinking being that, in time, they would be needed once again. While admiring my button collection, I wondered how I could use them so I could admire them on display and this was the result.

YOU WILL NEED Buttons Old jars Flowers

1 Pour a handful of clean buttons into each old jar. You only need to fill a couple of inches in each.

2 Add clean water and a few seasonal blooms and that’s it. These are lovely displayed in small groups – a quick and simple project.

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