Monthly Archives: June 2016

Happy Upcycling Day

It’s Britain’s second National Upcycling Day!

The desire to be  innovative  and environmentally consciousness has led to upcycling in nearly all areas of life.  The “Upcycling Revolution” is the result of a desire to contribute positively to our planet and also be the owner of a unique, one of a kind product unlike any other. This has led to a shift back to handmade artisan craftsmanship.

40% of Brits say they have tried their hand at upcycling and a further 1 in 5 upcycle on a regular basis according to research carried out by classified website Gumtree. However, 40 per cent who don’t upcycle say the biggest obstacle to upcycling is not feeling creative enough, whilst a third don’t know what to upcycle. There are however,  lots of blogs and also workshops to help you. In my area  (Sheffield 11) please get in touch about upcycling workshops.

It is amazing what a lick of paint or varnish and a needle and thread can achieve! Sometimes a power tool can be put to good use too.

And if you don’t want to upcycle your own stuff, then why not give or sell it to someone else and avoid landfill?


Recycling Vs Upcycling?

Recycling is the process of taking waste, generally consumer materials – plastic, paper, metal or glass – breaking it down and turning it into a reusable product.


Upcycling involves turning an unwanted product into a better quality product. It’s about prolonging  a products life, but also the desire for bespoke items. For example, when we had small children, and our shower cubical started to leak, we moved the shower cubicle to the garden rather than the tip, where on its side it was a safe large cold frame for plants, but with reinforced glass, we didn’t have to worry about our children’s footballs causeing unsafe broken glass.


There are also a plethera of other terms that can really be used interchangably: restoring, reclaiming, remaking, repurposing, reusing, reviving… Let me know if you can think of others, especially if they begin with the letter r.

I love making things from the lovely hardwearing fabric of denim jeans (which may just be outgrown or have a stain or wear in one place) and men’s shirts.

My Upcycled Apron: made from a pair of jeans and a shirt

My Upcycled Apron: made from a pair of jeans and a shirt

These are available to purchase


I also love getting around moth holes in woollen clothes by “fulling”- washing at a high temperature to shrink them . I can then use them as the batting in a quilt, as in my Bronte Challenge Quilt 

I can also turn them into a different garment, as with the wool tunic I made for an upcycled garment challenge.

I would love to here about how you save money and get creative with upcycling, on any day of the year.


An English Summer – Cheers!

An English summer, sunshine and rain means plants grow including meadows and elder.

Both in my studio and in the kitchen I have been getting summery.

The garden certainly neaded some attention this week, but today I am able to relax and enjoy a refreshing glass of elderflower cordial.



Look out for the creamy white elderflowers. Go out prepared with some scissors and bags for collecting. Something to help lower the branches can help  harvesting these slightly scented flowers which can tend to grow high up.


Since this is the only time of year they can be found, it is worth collecting a good number of heads to make a large batch of cordial concentrate. This can be frozen  to be enjoyed throughout the year!


Home Coaching Elderflower Cordial 1

Once home put 2½ kg white sugar (either granulated or caster) and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat.

Pare the zest from 2 unwaxed lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons.

Give the elderflowers a gentle swish around in cold water to loosen any dirt or bugs. Gently shake cut off any leaves and stem and  transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and 85g citric acid (from chemists)

Home Coaching Elderflower Cordial 2

Stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.

Home Coaching Elderflower Cordial 3

Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Alternatively set up a jelly bag. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through.

Leave to drain ...

Leave to drain …

Discard the bits left in the towel/jelly bag. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

There are lots of different recipes, some are to be found in this Telegraph article

In my studio I have been able to celebrate summer, even during rain. I have been using the faux chenille technique to create a summer meadow panel.

 Faux Chenille Meadow

Faux Chenille Meadow

This is an easy technique and I suggest it to help practice straight line sewing on a sewing machine.

It is a great way to use fabric which you don’t know how else to use, such as bright, garish fabric designs! In this meadow there is a bright yellow printed scarf as well as a plain orange fabric and layers of sheer green fabric. These were all pinned securely onto a base fabric. I chose to vary the width of my stitching lines and have some a little wavy. I wanted a meadow rather than imaculate lawn effect!

You need a slash rotary cutter which can usually be got for less than £10. This allows you to cut through all the fabric layers except for the base one. There is an offer on one from stuff4craftsebay also have one.

You then need to get rough, with your slashed fabric. I use a suede brush which I find works well, but rubbing and washing also help to fluff open the layers –  so you get to see glimses of the different fabric layers.

I would love to see your faux chenille projects.

If you would like to have a go, then this is an option at several of the textile art workshops I have planned. All forthcoming workshops I am doing are listed on my textile art facebook page.

I hope you get chance to get outside to enjoy your summer, and hopefully walk in a meadow, maybe finding some elderflowers.

Home Coaching Wild Flowers