Teach Yourself Vector Graphics

I taught myself to create these creepy treats in an afternoon. Try it for yourself!

Welcome back! I put out new content every Wednesday, focusing on whatever is distracting me at the the time.

As a dedicated dabbler-in-everything, I find distraction is the best method for working towards better mental health. I dream up new hobbies I want to dabble in every day. The nice thing about having a blog is that I have somewhere to share my doodles, dabbles, and daydreams – even if I never do them again, I can at least share my progress for a fellow novice to stumble upon. I hope what such a person would get from this is to realise that if I can do it, then they can do it.

What are vector graphics?


From Wiki: Vector graphics are computer graphics images that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes.

The main difference between vector and raster graphics is that raster graphics are composed of pixels, while vector graphics are composed of paths. A raster graphic, such as a gif or jpeg, is an array of pixels of various colors, which together form an image. Vector graphics are best for printing since it is composed of a series of mathematical curves. As a result vector graphics print crisply even when they are enlarged. (GeeksforGeeks)

Ankit Jain, GeeksforGeeks


I hope the author doesn’t mind me quoting them, but they’ve explained it so simply that even I understood it (or gained a basic overview). Please click the links to learn about them in more depth – it’s an interesting read.

For now, onto the creativity!

Doughnut, minus cute-face.

Teach Yourself Vector Artwork

Vector graphics are amazing because you can create clean, crisp, beautiful images which can be scaled up or down with ease and printed in multiple sizes without ever deteriorating in quality. You can create multi-purpose artwork to use on a variety of print or digital materials, or you can even sell your own artwork for use on other people’s products.

Once you’ve gotten used to the basics, you can create basically anything you want. If you can make it out of shapes, then you can create it.

Tools

You will need a computer fast enough to not die on you while you’re creating, and an amazing and completely free piece of graphics software called Inkscape.
There is of course Photoshop and other expensive bits of kit, but if you’re new to this then you won’t want to shell out hundreds of pounds or dollars for what could be something you merely dabble in from time to time.

Inkscape is universally acknowledged as a fantastic (free!) bit of kit which people often choose over the expensive alternatives, not just because it’s free, but because they love to use it.

You can get Inkscape here.

After that, all you need is time, eagerness, and:

Tutorials


The easiest way to get to grips with your first piece of vector artwork is to follow a step-by-step tutorial in the art style you’re hoping to go for.

I was attracted to this amazing video by Logos by Nick on Youtube.

The above doughnut was created after I followed this tutorial! That doughnut was my very first piece of vector artwork. There are hundreds of tutorials out there, but this one was fast, fluid, and easy to follow. I even felt confident enough to add my own accents, such as the eyes and mouth, to give it some character.

If you take a look at the cute-face lollipop next to it, you will see the creation I made on my own directly after creating the step-by-step doughnut. I was amazed how fast I picked it up, and I was able to give my little doughnut buddy a creepy cute-face friend.

I didn’t touch Inkscape much again for the next year (because of personal crap) but when I picked it up again, it didn’t take long for me to get used to it.

I created two characters of mine, Meloncholy & Charlotte, who I dreamed up about 10 years ago at university. They were the subjects of many hand-drawn cartoons and poems.
(Copyright Ashleigh Condon)

What I learned

Aside from the technical skills involved in developing a piece of vector artwork, there’s a lot to learn about perspectives and the way we put images together.

For example, that doughnut appears to be a ring with a whole in the middle, correct? But it isn’t. It’s a white circle on top of a beige circle. Those bites out of the side of the doughnut are simply layers of circles detracted from two other layers of circles at different intervals to reveal those layers, thus making it look like a bite.

This might sound obvious and simple, but the beauty of vector artwork is that it’s all about the illusion.

You are not drawing. You are building up layers of shapes and manipulating how those shapes appear.

This means you can create absolutely anything as long as you can imagine it as a series of shapes.

Nifty, eh?

I hate to sound like Neil Buchanan (and by hate, I mean love), but try it yourself!

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Christmas Angel Quilling

Welcome to my blog! I put out new posts every Wednesday about crafts, life, health, and poetry.

Right now all I care about is winding up work and have a lovely week off for Christmas. There will be booze and there will be baking and, oh god, there will be sweets.

This weekend my boyfriend and I are having our own little Christmas day (or weekend rather) and we’ll be exchanging our gifts and just having a lovely time. Then we’ll be spending Christmas day with our respective families. I insisted, actually, because we’re buying a house next year (all being well) and I’d like one more chance to be a kid before I go 50/50 on a property for the first time. It’s a scary step – but I am very excited.

Having experienced a lot of illness and hospital stays in the last few years (as well as other issues), I’ve lived with family and relied on them for a lot of support – I’ll be devastated to leave them. However, I will not be going far – no farther than drop-in distance for a cup of tea. It’s my partner who will be making a huge life-change and moving his business to be with me, so here’s hoping it all goes smoothly once we’ve started the ball rolling.

So it’s because I’ve got such a big year planned ahead that I’ll be 100% slobbing it in my jammies this year, being a big child, which is what I do best.

Angel quilling

Have you ever tried this craft? My brother introduced me to it – there seems to be hundreds of ways to quill and so many different crafts to come up with. My brother and I made some angels together, which was fiddly work at first, but it’s one of those things that becomes a lot easier once you’ve found your rhythm.

If you didn’t know: quilling is an art/craft which involves rolling, bending, or manipulating thin strips of paper into intricate designs or figures.

My first impression was that this is an amazingly economical hobby – as Fanny Cradock would say, ‘This won’t stretch your purse’.

Now there are millions of ways to do this and so many different designs, so have a look online or Youtube to find something you like. We made little finger-poppet angels, but once you have the basic figure made, you can create anything.

This isn’t a step-by-step or anything, but I just wanted to show you something cute I tried out recently. I would recommend a Youtube tutorial to get the technique down.

To make angels or little figures, you will need:

– Thin strips of paper from an A4 sheet (around 5mm) in desired colours
– PVA glue
– Quilling needle
– Scissors

Body
The body of these angels is made up of a small cone of quilled papers, about the size of a large thimble (to pop over your fingers!). You’ll need to glue about 8 strips end-to-end, allow to dry, and then coil together into a standard wheel with the quilling needle. Glue the end to the wheel to prevent it unravelling. Next, you need to gently push it in from the middle and keep going until it forms a cone shape. Do this very gently indeed – if you slip-up then the wheel will unravel and you’ll have to start again.

Once you have the shape down, smear a small amount of pva glue inside it, covering it all, and leave it to dry in its shape.

Head
Using the same technique as above, you’re going to make two wheels of 5 strips and push them out gently, just until you’ve made two little domes. Glue the inside of these, leave to dry, and then you can glue them together – now you have a little globe for a head.

Arms
These are just one strip of paper each, but be careful: small and fiddly = easy to fluff up. Push these tiny wheels out into little cones for the arms, glue inside, and leave.

Once all these are dry, you now have your basic figures. You can make these into anything now – a little santa, elves, angels – little devils, even. Fairys? Why not.

I think Quilling usually results in angels and fairies purely because people can make such beautiful wing designs.

Wings
For simple wings, make one larger wheel and four smaller ones. Before gluing the end of your strip down to the body of the wheel, let it unravel a little – you’ll see the strips separating. Before it goes too far (and once it is the desired size), pinch it between your thumb and forefinger and glue it in shape – this will make a tear-drop shape. One large teardrop + three smaller teardrops = one very cute wing.
8 tear drops in total will make a nice, small set of pretty wings – but you can make these as big and elaborate as you like. You can also look up the different spiral techniques and find some really intricate ideas if that’s your thing.

Me? I keep it simple.
Glue these pieces gently together, allow to dry, and then glue in between any bits you might have missed. Once dry, you can glue these to the body of your angel – try to use glue that’s been out for 15 mins or so so that it’s tackier and easier to mount wings onto and keep them in place without slipping off while they dry.

Glue on your head and arms and you are good to go! All your angel needs is a wig and maybe a halo. You can fashion a hair-do by quilling just the tips of the strips to make flicky-hair (as pictured) or coil a wheel to make a bun, but there will be much more exciting ideas online – play around and see what you can come up with.

Once you get in the swing of things, you can make some adorable paper figures which, once dry, are actually quite sturdy – and even better, if you make them the way I’ve detailed above, you can pop them on your fingers and make ’em dance.

Cute idea, huh?

As Neil Buchanan would say: why don’t you try it out for yourself?

This is a great craft to do with kids, but again, very fiddly – for little ones, maybe make the bodies first and then let them decorate and play.

My next blog will be due on Christmas day – I’m not sure what I’ll be posting yet, but I promise it’ll be festive, so please subscribe if you’d like to see more from me. I put out new blogs every Wednesday.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Chocolate Yule Log in an Hour

Welcome back! I put out new blogs every Wednesday.

Continuing our Christmas crafting (or baking!) seeing as it ’tis the season, I give you: the lazygirl chocolate yule log.
I just made that up, but it works.

My boyfriend and I desperately wanted to bake something last Sunday evening, but only the little express stores were open and it was raining, so we dug about in the cupboards, hoping that we’d had ingredients for yule log. And we did! The only thing we were worried about missing was a bar of chocolate, and lo and behold, he found some vegan chocolate he’d bought to try ages ago, having never bothered to eat it. Happy days!

We decided to make chocolate buttercream rather than ganache, and it worked out lovely. We spliced two recipes together: one for sponge, and one for the buttercream.

This was so quick to make that you could definitely do this in an hour if you have all your ingredients ready. The only delay is the cooling, but with such a thin sponge, it took hardly any time at all (and you can of course shove it in the freezer for 10 minutes – trust me, it gets the job done)

You will need:

Icing

  • 100g chocolate
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar (and more to dust)
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

Sponge

Combine your ingredients with a spatula and whip with an electric whisk if you have one, before transferring it into a 33cm x 23cm dish lined with grease proof paper. This will create an inch thick rectangle of sponge. Bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

(Mary Berry’s recipe states 8-10 mins, but it wasn’t nearly done for me and needed double the time)

No butter! This mostly-egg recipe ensures that the sponge is flexible enough to roll over and yet strong enough not to crumble apart. All very clever.

Once it’s cooked, let it cool for a few minutes. Turn the cake out onto another sheet of grease proof paper and peel off the backing. Next, score a line 2.5cm in, lengthways, along one long edge of the cake. Use this to fold it over on itself in a swiss-roll shape. Pull the grease proof paper over with the first roll and let it roll inside. This will help you unfurl it later when you want to add the filling.

Leave it to cool in this rolled shape.

Next, make your icing. Start with gently combining your softened butter with the icing sugar. Add in your cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate in your preferred manner (in a bowl within a pan of boiling water, or in the microwave at 20 sec intervals) and add this to the mix, folding it all in together. The mix will start feeling a bit stiff and claggy – use the milk to smooth it out and give it some moisture.

Once your cake is cooled, you can unfurl it and start smoothing liberal amounts of buttercream inside it, coating the lot, before rolling it back up again and pasting buttercream on top. You can use a fork to create streaks like bark, add holly, whatever you like – me? I was happy to dust it with icing sugar and eat the thing.

So there you have it! The world’s laziest yule log.

Quick, easy, and definitely yummy – we scoffed this while watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

You could make this Vegan by using egg replacer/oil, vegan chocolate, vegan milk, and vegan butter – though if you’re vegan, you’ll have all this down already and won’t need me to advise you.

I hope you enjoyed that tasty little treat! See you next time – I put new blogs up every Wednesday about crafts, hobbies, writing, health – my life, really.

How to Make a Christmas Wreath (easy)

Welcome back to my blog! I put up new posts every Wednesday.

As it’s officially CHRISTMAS SEASON WAHOOOOOO! I thought I’d talk about a lovely wreath-making workshop I went to. Me and some of the girls from work had a great time making these wreaths (and I’m pleased to say the prosecco was flowing) so I’d definitely recommend an evening like this if you have one going locally.

These were made at a local florist near work. We paid £40 each and the space, materials, tutor, and bubbly were all supplied – you just had to bring yourself!

So here we go – I’m about to clumsily pass on the wisdom.

I’m going to call these the wrap-and-go wreaths, because that’s literally how it’s done – you just wrap the thing and go.

I say these are “easy”, but they’re easy once you’ve got your materials and wreath ring ordered in, and once you’ve wired your decorations – these bits were done for us. I have wired leaves etc before for my autumn candle holder craft here, but I have to say I was grateful not to have to do it again, as it’s fiddly.

This method is only for the metal ring methods – if you’re using an oasis ring, that won’t work here because the wrapping technique would simply crush the oasis into dust.

Supplies

1 metal wreath ring
Damp moss/vines/twigs/fur (for the base)
Blue spruce/fir branches
Sprigs of holly
Bay leaf branches
Twine
Scissors
Small garden secateurs
Copper wire or florist’s wire

Decorations
Ribbons
Cinnamon sticks
Pine cones
Dried oranges

These were all purchased via the florist’s supplier, so I would imagine you’d need to order these in via either your local florist, garden center, or online. This is the hardest part, because I’ve never bought sprigs of blue fir and holly online – have you?!

You can of course use dried or artificial foliage if you wanted. Oh, and I’m told that decorations such as dried oranges and cinnamon can be bought at Poundland, of all places, as well as Amazon – so look around.

Method

We began with pre-mossed wreath frames, but you’ll need to make your base. Tie your twine to the frame in a simple knot and stuff the moss in the frame and wrap it as you go. If you click the wreath frame link above, the Hobbeycraft website actually shows you some pictures of this method. Pack the moss in thick so you have something spongey for everything else to rest against. Tie it off when you’re done.

Once you’ve created a solid frame to build on, you can begin building the body of your wreath.

Tie twine to the outside edge of your frame and knot it (as you did before). Next, gather together a bunch of your supplies – take a big sprig of fir, bay leaf branch, and holly branch, and hold them together in a bunch so they layer up. You’re going to manipulate these around the shape of the wreath frame in one go – not layer by layer, branch by branch. If they’re too long or need trimming, then use your secateurs to adjust them.

This was the best part, actually, because I was expecting to have to wire up each individual sprig and place it in the frame – nope, not the case. You are literally going to grab the foliage and wrap it together as one lot in a binding process.

Start binding your bunches

Place your bunch of bay, fir, and holly roughly where you want them to start (I went round clockwise) and then start wrapping the twine around it. I don’t mean in a blanket-stitch type method – we’re talking two wraps round per bunch here – don’t worry about it feeling loose because you can pull it tight at the end. Weave the twine between the leaves and secure it against the frame – remember you can tidy this up later. If you can hide the twine, great – if you can’t, then oh well, that’s part of the rustic design, right?

Once you’re done, pull it tight, and move on to the next bunch – you want to layer this under the previous one and go around in the same direction. Do this until you come full circle and you will have a basic wreath of fir, bay, and holly! Tie off your twine and tweak away at the leaves until you’re happy with how it all lays together.

You can use big bunches, thin bunches, whatever – it’s your wreath. The thicker the foliage, the bigger and more impressive the wreath.

If you want more holly on top or want to add any accents, you can do this by tying on more twine and going around the frame the opposite way (anti-clockwise) to keep it symmetrical, or until you are happy that you’ve filled any gaps.

Now you have a basic green wreath – you’re halfway there!

Now you can decorate with your cinnamon, pine cones, and dried oranges – which all smell amazing, by the way. You will need to wire these. Get yourself some copper wire or florist’s wire and twist it neatly around your decorations, leaving a long ‘tail’ of wire at the end. You can see the cinnamon is wired in mine – you can wrap the wire around in a loop like that, or you can wire just around the bottom. What’s important is the tail, because that’s your hook.

I chose to place mine in neat bunches of three and clustered them together (see pics), but you can do yours your own way. You can also use whatever decorations you prefer – we used natural accents, but you could have baubles and ribbons if you wanted.

Simply thread the tail of the wire through your foliage and out the other side of your frame. Turn the tail in on itself and tuck it back up and through the frame and foliage again. They should be hooked on securely but not so tightly that they have no wobble-room.

Your final touch is to add a bow – these can go at the top, bottom, side of your wreath – wherever! It’s yours!

I used a glittery hessian material and wrapped it in a bow around the bottom half of my wreath, leaving the tails to dangle.

And there you have it – you have created a wreath.

Are you as surprised as I am about how simple the process was? I mean you literally just tie on your twine, wrap it around the big layers of fir, bay, and holly, tie it off and bam – it’s all on there. Easy. No fiddly wiring of each individual sprig for hours on end! You just wrap and go.

The great thing about wreaths and their materials is that it’s very difficult to go wrong. Providing you wrap them around the frame in the same direction, the wild and full nature of wreath design lends itself beautifully to hiding any clumsiness or mistakes.

Voila!


Once you’ve learned this simple wrapping method, you can make all kinds of wreaths of all different sizes – get creative and see what you come up with!

I hope you enjoyed that. If you’d like to see more, please subscribe – I put out new content every Wednesday.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

How to Make a Pine Cone Christmas Tree

& other stories.
Welcome (back) to my blog! I put out new posts every Wednesday.

I thought I would lighten the mood a little with some crafts this week. I’m one of those very impatient people who loves to do crafts but doesn’t much fancy anything too taxing or time-consuming; not unless it’s something I intend to take up as a hobby.

If you’re like me and like to have a quick fix when it comes to popular new crafts, then you’ll like this one: a Christmas tree made out of a pine cone.

But first

I told you I’d showcase my Mookychick poem to you, didn’t I?

Click here to read my poem, ‘Weight’, on the Mookychick website!


Well here it is! I’m very proud to see it on the front page. I hope you enjoy my poem and, if you click my author profile, that you enjoy my photo too. I could’ve just used a photo of my face, but I thought ‘Nah – let’s use the one with the squirrel’.

But back to pine cone Christmas trees!

You must have seen these going around Facebook and the like. I’m sure people have been making these for years and years, but crafts go in fads and currently this one seems quite popular.

Not only do they look extremely cute and adorable and Christmassy, but they looked pretty easy to do – so I gave it a go.

And, like most things that look easy, this was actually a little more fiddly and time-consuming than I bargained for. If you want to make an impressive, intricate, painstakingly painted and detailed piece of art then you’ll need a good magnifying glass, tweezers, and a lot of time to dedicate to the ~ finesse ~ that you’ll ultimately want to achieve.

Or, you could be like me and just chuck something together, see what works, and have fun with it.

You can make these absolutely any way you want and with whatever decorations you want – that’s the cool part. You can make several of these and no two should look the same. You could make mini pine cone trees for all occasions!

Tools I used

Superglue
Hot glue gun
1 x fabulous pine cone (try to find a tree shape – mine was a bit narrow)
Florist wire
Oasis
Crepe paper
Red meshy fabric stuff
Li’l baubles (I snipped them off a length of Christmas tree beads)
An angel for the top (a Christmas tree decoration cut in half)
Scissors

Method

First I washed any residue off my pine cone and dried it thoroughly. You might want to do this a day or two before you start crafting, because I think this has an effect on how well the glue sticks to it.

(If you are painting your pine cone, do this first before putting it on the base for obvious reasons!)

Next I got started on my base. I cut a small thick square of oasis and wrapped this with red crepe paper. I glued it down with superglue (this will stick more to you than anything else – beware!) in a parcel-fashion. After that I wrapped around my red mesh, which looked to me like a nice rustic touch to give it a bit of warmth, and glued that down too.

Now you have a base, you need to wire your cone. I used florist’s wire, but I would recommend a thicker piece of wire (maybe jewelry wire or copper wire), because mine bent and was too soft. I wired my cone by weaving or wrapping it around the spines at the base and forming four hooks of bent wire. I used these to stab into the base and keep the cone sturdy. The flexibility of the wire came in handy here because it allows you to make adjustments.

In the future, I would likely buy some mini plant pots to make a sturdier bed for the oasis, but this method works just fine.

You may find it hard to get the wire through your crepe paper or fabric, so think about that when you choose your materials. I personally just stabbed and prayed.
I wrapped some crepe paper around the base to hide the join, and hey-presto.

Now you have a cute base with your pine cone on top! It’s time to decorate.

I first began the dull and arduous process of superglueing each tiny bead onto each spine of my pine cone. Not only did I have to hold it firmly in place for ages, but the things were sticking to my fingers more than anything else.

I switched to my hot glue gun and oh baby, all that changed! The cooling of the glue once applied happens so quickly that you can start dotting on your beads here, there, and everywhere, and they’ll be set in 10 seconds. I very much recommend using a glue gun for speed and ease of use.

I turned my cone upside down to apply these, but ideally you would probably balance them on the tip of each spine. I could not be bothered with this – I’m all about the instant fun with these projects.

At this point you will realise how stringy the glue from a glue-gun can be, and it’ll look like you have cobwebs all over your tree. Never fear, for these come off easily – and if you were making a Halloween pine cone tree, these stringy bits could actually look really awesome.

Lastly, I cut a decorative angel in half and glued them to the top.

There we have it! A very simplistic pine cone Christmas tree. I think even the simplest designs look very sweet indeed and would make a great crafting project with your kids – just be very careful with the glue gun, because these get very hot.

With lots of time, effort, and imagination, you could make some incredible looking decorations out of pine cone Christmas trees.

I hope you enjoyed that.

If you’d like to see more of my crafting attempts or book recommendations or musings on health-related topics, then please subscribe. I put out new content every Wednesday.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

How to Dye Your Clothes

Hubble bubble…

Welcome to my blog; I put out new posts every Wednesday.

Today I’m going to show you how you can dye your own clothes in an easy and cost-effective way.

There are massive benefits to the environment when you fix or dye your clothes to renew their energy. Imagine if we just transformed our clothes into something new, rather than throw them out and waste them? Vivienne Westwood says that we should “buy less” by paying more – but you can buy fewer clothes *and* save your money by rejuvenating your old ones.

This is an especially great way to make your clothes feel truly yours. Have you ever paid a bit too much for an item of clothing and realised – just a little too late – that you’re just not feeling it? Whether fashion is important to you or not, I do believe our clothes tell a story about who we are and where we are in our minds.

I’ll give you an example: Just a couple of years ago, I was known around the office for my “femme-fatale dress sense”. I kid you not. And those aren’t even my words – more than a few times, I was told I had a “1940s vibe”. It was probably more to do with my obsession with pencil skirts, platform heels, and bobby pins. I was putting out an ultra-feminine image which, at the time, made me feel powerful. It didn’t help that I worked in a huge office building at the time, full of pretty people, and I was “just an admin”. Psychologically, I probably felt I had something to prove – not just in terms of job performance or climbing the career ladder, but in my appearance too. I lived by the mantra: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have“.

2016. Colour-coordination eluded me. A bit “extra” for the office environment, no?

As things have changed for me, different styles of dress make me feel powerful. I now feel better in my Dr Marten boots and a thick black dress. I’m competing less and feeling stronger with both feet on the ground. It’s better this way, though I don’t regret my time in skirts and heels – I still had my offbeat, slightly awkward sense of style. That’ll never die! (dye?)

With that in mind, I’ve been going back to my DIY roots. As a teenage goth in platforms and dreadlocks, I am old-hat at adapting clothes. I fondly remember sharp pins pinging all over the dining room as I sewed lace onto my umbrella, and breaking the needle as I haphazardly sewed directly over the metal struts in the canopy. Pin-studs played a big role in my youth too, as did brooches, badges and odd accoutrements.

Dyeing, however, is new to me. The following is a guide on my first go with Rit dye.

This is not a sponsored post and you are encouraged to use whatever dyes you think are best.

I bought a coat and a dress from a charity shop – the coat was in a ‘new’ condition, £5, 100% cotton, in a cream leopard print design. The label was H&M.
The dress was another charity shop find, 100% polyester, £3. Polyester is a problem, but I’ll get to that later. Cream leopard print design (again!).

The dyes cost between £7-£10 each – not too much for a hobby or a one-off!

I used Rit all-purpose dye in Dark Green for my leopard-print coat and used the “bucket method” as per their instruction on the website. I also used their colour-stay dye fixative formula.

This method worked a dream.

I used a huge black plastic bin, which I washed out beforehand as it was probably a spider’s paradise (sorry speedies). Then I followed the bucket method step-by-step, using hot water from the hose pipe, some dish soap, and some salt. I used a length of wood for stirring, as – my god – that dye gets everywhere.

I plonked the whole lot in and stirred for about 40 minutes, watching it turn from cream to a subtle dark green.
I believe these dyes are non-toxic, as the instructions say you can pour these away in the drain like normal, and you can even use these dyes in your washing machine.

It needed a lot of swimming space, because although this is a fairly thin jacket, the stiffer material does require more space to flow freely through the dye, absorbing it evenly.

I washed it out several times with warm water until it ran fairly clear. Then I soaked it in another tub of fresh warm water and the colour-stay fixative.

I rinsed that out, hung it up on a hanger, and left it to dry overnight. I was absolutely overjoyed with the results! The dye left a subtle, dried-out sort of colour, which was perfect for me because while I love bold colours, I didn’t want it to offend the eyes.
You can see the result here:

A muted dark green that doesn’t assault your eyes – I love it.

Then came the polyester dress.

The dreaded polyester

This did not go so well, for one reason which should have been obvious after reading the website: Polyester does not like dyeing.

While I was hoping to achieve a midnight navy blue, I ended up with a soft pastel shade.
Now, if that’s what you were looking for, then I guess you could call that a success – but unfortunately, I wasn’t, and I do not wear baby blue.

Even with the Rit dye for synthetics, the Polyester fabric just wasn’t going to take on that depth of colour.

Still, this was my first try with a synthetic dyes and I’m happy to share the result with you.

I used the Rit synthetics dye in Midnight Navy, and followed the recommended stove-top method. I also used salt, dish soap, and more colour-stay fixative.

This actually felt a lot trickier because, let me tell you, getting a huge pot of water to a rolling-boil on an electric “stove” was practically impossible. However, this level of heat is required to get the colour to take to the fabric, and needs to be kept consistently at that level throughout the dyeing process.

I plonked in my whole bottle of Midnight Navy with the salt and dish soap and stirred that Mother for a good 40 minutes, feeling like the fourth witch in Hocus Pocus.

Unfortunately, I could tell that it wasn’t going quite dark enough, and I soon realised I wasn’t going to get a great result. Sad times.

Still, I persevered!

Once the dress dried, I was left with a sort of baby-blue-grey. Some research taught me where I went wrong with the fabric, and I noted for the future: never buy polyester. Or at least, don’t bother trying to dye it. You can see the result here:

A grey failure. Sad times.

On a plus (sized) note, I actually tried this dress on and found I didn’t like the way it fit me! So even if it had worked out, I would have been forced to send this dress back to the charity shop, or perhaps sell it on Ebay. I was hoping it would fall in a more boxy-shape like so many of my other dresses, but it clung around the hips and wrecked the look I was going for. That’s not to say it looked bad at all, but it just wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

So I guess some things just aren’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of fun trying. As they say, you win some, you lose some.

Overall, what do I think of Rit dyes?

For a subtle look, ease of use, and price – I’d say go for it. However, don’t expect bold results.

I hope this inspires you to give clothes-dyeing a go yourself.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

DIY Autumn Candle Holder

You need this.

Because obviously you need this. Don’t argue.

I made this using a tutorial I followed in a beautiful book called Dried Flower Arranging. I bought this at WH Smiths for £9.99 on a 2-for-1. You can find it on Amazon by clicking the link – enjoy it! (This is not a sponsored post – this is my actual life here, folks)

I thought the book looked gorgeously autumnal and pagan, so obviously I was all over that. It includes techniques for styling all kinds of arrangements whilst being simple and straightforward, as well as Christmassy biz, so it’s my kind of book.

Supplies I used:

Materials:
– Flower pots, charity shop, £1.50 each
– Oasis, The Range, £1.25 each
– Fallen leaves/thistles/conkers, free! (Collect a massive pile of these)
– Ribbon, about £1
– Pot pourri, about £2.99
– Candles, about £1.99 each
– Misc scissors, cutters, bendy wire

This isn’t a how-to exactly; I’m just showing off what I made. I’ll give you the gist of it though:

(Bonus points for the Golden Girls boxset in the background)

Stack the bottom of your plant-pot with paper or hay (hay looks amazing), then stuff in your block of oasis. I used a standard block of oasis for artificial flowers, cut it in half, and then shaved off the corners until it fit. You want this oasis to stick out the top of the pot so that all your decorations stick out and look full and luxurious. Slope the corners to give it some dimension. Use the paper/hay/tissue to pack it in tight around the sides.

Next you need to wire your candle, or glue it in place with superglue. I wired mine to keep it sturdy. This involved taping around the base of the candle with sellotape, and then attaching hooks of wire (just a short length of wire bent-double) all around the base with more tape. Squash these gently down onto the oasis to hook it in nicely, and then cover the wire loops with a decorative ribbon (or whatever you like really; it’s your life mate).

This is how mine turned out. Cute, eh?

You now have a base pot, oasis, and candle – now go crazy with your decorations!

I used thin wire to bunch leaves together, and a small scalpel to drill holes into conkers and thread a piece of wire in. I hated it at the time, but in hindsight, I’m dead proud of it.

This is harder than it looks and can get tedious at times (especially if you’re a faddist like myself and get bored after approximately 30 seconds), but persevere – you’ll end up with something totally unique and, best of all, it’s got your little stamp on it.

My boyfriend described this craft as, “Something you’d find in the Next home department with a ridiculously high price tag”. I think he’s saying it looks like overpriced tat – and I like that. I’ll take that.

I hope you enjoyed that little glimpse into my world.