Wednesday, 31 August 2011

How to make a footstool

With the weather turning colder the thought of packing up the garden furniture and turning the heating thermostat up a few notches can be depressing but how about if we turn your living room into a cosy little idyll with a jaunty footstool.
Footstools can be really expensive but there is something just so decedent about putting your feet up whilst you sip a cup of earl grey. This month’s project will show you how to make your very own footstool in no time at all and for only a few pounds.

You will need:
Your essential kit

A piece of MDF or fairly thick wood this is to form your footstool base, which will be approximately sixteen inches across (I used an old kitchen cupboard I rescued from a skip)
Four wooden bun feet. Mine came from a broken TV console I found at the local tip but you can buy them from DIY stores and also on ebay for about £4
A drill
A jigsaw
Wood Primer
Black paint and brushes
Foam (I used a cheep mattress topper but you could use the inside of an old settee cushion or buy foam pieces from a craft shop)
Screws and screwdriver
A metre of fabric (this will be used to cover the stool so pick a fabric you really like, maybe use an old table cloth or piece of curtain. Charity shops are great for these)
String and pencil
Craft mount spray
Wood glue
Drawing pins
Heavy duty staple gun
Safety goggles and dust mask
Table clamp
Tape Measure
Begin by priming your wooden feet and your wood. Regular readers of my how to features will know I’m a big fan of priming. It may seem like extra work but when using off cuts of wood or reclaiming things from old furniture it really helps to ensure that your coloured paint takes well and doesn’t flake.
Lashing of primer

Once this has dried tie a piece of string to your pencil, use your drawing pin to secure it to the middle of your piece of wood and use it to draw a perfect circle. Alternatively you can always draw around a large plate or even a plant pot.
Draw a perfect circle

Clamp your piece of wood onto either your workbench or table. Always clamp so the wood is not directly under the bench, otherwise you could end up cutting through the bench as well. It’s really important that your wood is clamped correctly, as you don’t want it to slip. Wear a dust mask when doing this as the dust gets everywhere and use safety goggles in case of flying debris. It may not look cool but it’s really important.
Jigsaw action

Use your jigsaw to cut following the circle shape you have drawn on.
Now you have your wooden circle, which will form your footstool base. Use it as a template to cut your foam. Cut three pieces to the exact size of the base and cut one piece approx one and a half times larger.
Cut out your foam discs

Take your wood base and drill four holes in it where you want the feet to be attached. Remember not to place the feet too near the edge as you will need room to staple your fabric on later
Drill holes in the base

Squirt a dollop of wood glue on the top of each wooden foot. Then screw in the feet onto the base using screws and a screwdriver. The wood glue will ensure the feet are nice and secure and don’t go loose.
Attach the feet

Paint the base and feet in a nice glossy colour so they all match and look like one unit.
Paint the base

Whilst this is drying cut your fabric about three inches larger than your biggest foam disc. This will ensure you have enough material to fold under the base when you go to attach it.

Cut out your fabric

Once your base is dry use spray mount to stick the foam discs onto the top. Do this outside if you can and wear your dust mask. Spray each piece and layer them to create a nice squashy cushion. 
Spray mount your faom onto the base
Attach the largest piece of foam last and then use your stable gun to pleat the foam around the edges-rather like making the crust of a pie. This will cover the filling and create a nice domed shape.

I heart my staple gun

Repeat this technique with your piece of fabric. Cover the whole thing and neatly pleat the edges all the way round, securing underneath with a staple as you go. Remember I chose a round shape but you could easily make this a square. You can cover with fabric, faux leather or even fake fur and for a real antique effect use a button coverer to quilt your stool.
Cover with your fabric

Now its time to put your feet up on your brand new footstool and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Voila! A footstool made by your own fair hand

Good luck and please please e-mail in photos when you make this or any other of Betty Pampers How to projects you make at home. I would love to see them and remember the next time you see some old junk don’t just tip it, get inspired and upcycle it into something wonderful.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Crafting Events: Crafting Over Cocktails

Traditionally when you think of a “crafter” you envisage someone working alone, perhaps in a cosy workshop with nothing for company except the radio. For many undertaking a craft project is a wonderful way to carve out some “me” time and tune out the white noise of everyday life.
Intructions were supplied as part of the workshop

It doesn't have to be like this though and for those who enjoy sharing what they are working on social networking has made it much easier to “meet up” with like-minded individuals who share your hobbies. Crafters have been remarkably adept at changing with the times. Websites have sprung up, on-line forums exist and even crafters who specialise in fairly traditional arts casually refer to tit bits they have picked up on twitter or on the creative crafting site. So its no great surprise that there is an increased demand for social events, which include a craft element. Taking the world of cyber socialising and replacing our avatars with real people.
I’d seen a few of these events advertised and was quite intrigued. As I associate my hobbies with that pleasurable time when the rest of the world sleeps and I can be totally alone with my projects I wasn’t sure I liked the idea but a few friends had attended a local event and had been very enthusiastic.  So a few weeks ago I headed to a craft night in Liverpool. The premise was that we would be taught how to make lanterns whilst sitting in a trendy cafĂ©, catching up with old friends and perhaps making a few new ones along the way.
My Cupcake themed lantern

I’m always excited to learn new things and as I did my hair and make up I thought how a few years ago I would have been making the same effort for a night of cocktails. Either crafting has become trendy or I am a young fogey (don’t answer that)
The night itself was surprisingly popular. I had gone along with four friends and when we arrived there were at least another twenty girls already seated with drinks, ready for the tutorial.

So what about the nuts and bolts of learning a new skill in a “girls night out “ type atmosphere. The demonstration on how to make a variety of lanterns wasn’t terribly thorough and even though I consider myself quite adept at turning my hand to new disciplines I wasn’t particularly clear what to do. The saving grace though was that detailed handouts were on each table so we were able to quickly work out what we needed to do and go and load up on materials, which were all, piled high on a supply table.
Claire with her lovely green lantern
Maybe it was the company I was with or the pot of delicious apple and cherry tea I was able to buy from the bar but having arrived sceptical about social crafting I absolutely loved the experience of making lovely items whilst catching up with friends. Having all opted to glass paint old jam jars it was wonderful to see how different each of our finished lanterns were. One friend Helen decorated hers with red hearts and fashioned a clever little tea light holder using copper wire whilst another Claire went for a delicate green palette and a distinctly vintage flavour. For mine I decided to make a lantern for my little girl so using a little bit of decoupage decorated my lantern with pictures of cupcakes and a pale pink glass paint wash.
Social Crafting is fun

In terms of really digging deep and learning all there is to know about a particular craft these classes probably leave a lot to be desired but for a fun creative social experience meeting like minded people I highly recommend them and skipping home carrying my new lantern I had the lovely warm feeling you get from a good night out with none of the hangover the next morning.


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Friday, 26 August 2011

Princess birthday cake recipe

Making someone a birthday cake is a great  way to let them know you care. Yes its easy enough to buy one but to spend time and energy creating something just for one person is lovely. If you are having to watch your budget making somene a birthday cake can act as a great gift and the sillier the cake the better. My favourite book for cake making inspiration is an old one by Jane Asher called "Jane Ashers Party cakes" My mum (who is the best cake maker ever) used it a lot for inspiration and has now pased it to me. I used some of her idaes when I made this birthday cake for my little girls birthday.

This may be out of print but of you can get a copy its great

So here is how I made a classic princess Birthday cake. I have made at least two versions of this for my daughter and one for a good freinds birthday last year. Its so easy.
I began by baking a sponge cake. I always follow a recipe using buttermilk as it makes for a slightly firmer cake which is helpful if you are going to be loading  a cake with icing. I don't have a round mould  so used a pyrex dish-the end cake doesnt look that promising  but I figure thats why god invented Royal icing-Ive filled it with jam-bish bash bosh

The cake in all its undecorated glory

You can buy dolls which are specifically made for these type of cakes but I just stuck one of my daughters dolls in the centre and having painted the cake with warm apricot jam to act as glue I put the icing on (I used royal icing)-I've made the icing look like folds of fabric by overlaping it

Cover the dolls chest with icing to help create a dress

Once the icing covers the whole cake and Ive fashiond a top for the doll I painted the icing pink with watered down pink food colouring
Add caption

I chose a petal pink colour for the dress

Once its all covered I left it to dry for about an hour
Dry little dolly cake

I have made a magic wand from an old cake decoration which was used on my wedding cake-see being a horder isnt all bad

Add a little magic (wand)

Using a darker shade of pink I iced a lattice effect on front of the dress
darker pink detaling on the front of the dress

I added sugar roses to the bottom of dress and stuck jelly beans on so they look like jewels

How I love sugar roses

I then added the Happy Birthday decoration, more roses and  candles oh and as the whole thing just wasnt looking camp enough for my tastes and my little girl is obsessed with My Little Pony at the moment I also added flying pink horses and a jaunty flapper style head dress for the doll.

Ta-da-The completed cake


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Vintage Holiday Make Up

As all lovers of the vintage look will testify trying to pull off the perfect 40's and 50's hair and make up when on holiday can be very difficult indeed. Whilst most people would tell us to relax and just go with the flow if red lipstick and a pale face are your signature look it just feels wrong to start wearing khaki shorts and a shiny face. But how to wear a look which will survive the heat yet also channel your inner siren. Here's how I tacked this dilemma in the Florida heat a few weeks ago.
My essential holiday make up kit

Make Up
Before starting to apply my make up I put a high factor clear sunscreen on my face. I allowed this a good ten minutes to dry.I use one by Clarins which is particuarly good under makeup and has a nice high sun factor (us vintage gals don't do freckles)
Clarins Sunscreen protects and wont leave you shiny

As foundation tends to sweat off and powder can just look too caked in the heat I swapped my usual porcelain toned foundation and concealer for mineral versions. I used the Elf brand of both in their "fair" shade.I can not rave about Elf's Mineral range enough. its so cheep and yet so easy to use with a flawless finish. Mineral powder does take some getting used to and you do need a proper brush but once you master it its a great alternative to liquid make up especially in environments which make you "glow"
Mineral Powder in fair-helping me stay pale and interesting 

Rather than applying powder blusher to my face on top of the mineral make up I used Benefits Posie Tint. I just love this product. One or two dabs on each cheek make you look like you have had your cheeks pinched and is perfect for that English rose blush.
Posie Tint offering "slight fever" cheeks

In very hot environments I totally forgo my usual eyeshadow, even with primer I find it sits in the creases. Instead I make my liquid eyeliner do all the work. I'm currently using  a brilliant bargain brand I stumbled on in Superdrug. its by a company called 2True (bad name but hey you can't have everything) The liner is called effortless eyeliner. Its definitely one of the best budget liquid eyeliners I have used in a long time. The black is really strong and the felt tip style end makes application really easy. For this holiday look I have made my flicks quite strong.
2True eyeliner-sounds like a bad Spandu ballet song but works a treat

For mascara I used the Momma of mazzys Maybelline The Colossal Volume express. I am always trying out new mascaras and like a guilty wife coming creeping back to Maybelline after flirting with lesser products. This mascara gives you long thick eyelashes but without the clumping you get with so many other products.Top tip- always do your lipstick before you apply your mascara it allows your eyeliner to properly dry and means you don't get those annoying blobs.
maybe its Maybelline-oh definitely

Maxfactor Liptint-like a felt tip pen for lips

For lips I refuse to don anything other than red, yes even on holiday. If you want to lighten up a little you could channel a more orangey tone maybe something like Revlon's fire and  ice but as I am wearing less make up than usual I really wanted my lips to "pop". I always not only line my lips with lip liner but also colour them in completely so that even if my lipstick wears off after eating and drinking I don't get that awful eighties line.As I find lip pencil quite drying I'm currently using Max factors Lipfinity lasting tint instead. As a lipstick this is quite poor but as a lip liner its great. I finished off with what you already know I think is the best lipstick on the market today Rockalily in Rockette.
Rockalily-the queen of lippys

Vintage hair
Getting your hair to stay in any sort of rolled or curl in the heat is very difficult. I think the easiest way to get big hair is to cheat and use a hairpiece. For my holiday hair I simply victory rolled my fringe and sprayed it within an inch of its life with Elnett (quite simply the best hairspray on the market) and slicked back any flyaways with some bodyshop hair shine (smells so yummy of coconut)
Ive got a lovely bunch of coconuts
the Jessica Simpson Hairwrap-Mines in brown
I then tied my hair into a small bun on the crown with a hairband. Once this was done I applied a  hair wrap (small fake hair piece) on the top which is by Jessica Simpson (yes the Jessica Simpson of "Tuna" fame who knew ) these wraps are fab for giving a big bun/beehive shape yet are also really light so not too hot to wear in the heat like some hair pieces.
Roller Ball scents dib dab

Finally I always use scents in a roller ball when its hot. This way I can perfume the insides of my elbows, back of my knees everywhere that might get too hot.Ive got a lovely set of these by Juicy Couture which are travel sized so perfect to take in your suitcase.
Juicy Coutures Rollerball set-perfect holiday scents
And here is the finished look.Light enough to survive the boiling Florida heat but i still feel like me-not a scrunchie or bumbag in sight-Hurrah


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