Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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What to get for the mother who has everything..!

Well she’s already got me, so what more does she need?? haha! But seriously, it’s Mother’s Day on 30th March and I know you’ll all be wanting to shower the women in your life with treats for doing that most difficult job of all. So what can you make and what would you like to buy for your ‘supermum’? I’ve done a little research to make it even easier for you to spoil your mother at the end of the month and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Make your mother a card with a detachable ‘Super Mum’ badge that she can wear all day long! This tutorial from TrimCraft blog shares DIY instructions and even a printable template for the badge so check it out and give it a go for yourself!

mothers day card ideas diy craft

Or how about taking your mum out for a special treat and spending some quality time together? I found some fantastic experience days gifts from IWOOT.com including a decadent lunch cruise on the Thames for two, which sounds like great fun for both of you! And if your mum truly is a ‘supermum’ rushing from one task to the next, perhaps she’d like the chance to unwind and relax during a spa experience? Again, you can go with your mum and have a good catch up while getting pampered!

                       mothers day experience ideas from iwoot

Another DIY idea is to pick up one of those clear plastic photo frames that you can get from pound stores and customise it to create a special family album of photos and scrapbook pages. There’s a fantastic tutorial on the Crafts Unleashed blog which shows you how to create this freestanding photobook below. It would be a perfect homemade gift for Mother’s Day and will show your mum how much you care with all the time and love you’ve put into creating an album of  special memories. Let me know if you give this a go!

 DIY mothers photo album and magazine gift ideas

Finally, for the mother who has everything – why not give her a subscription to a magazine? It’s one of MY favourite things to receive because it’s the gift that keeps on giving – she’ll love getting the magazine delivered to her all year round and will be reminded of your lovely gift each time. Don’t worry if you have no idea what magazines she already reads – simply hop onto the Unique Magazines website (where I have already subscribed to Ethical Consumer magazine!) and find a publication that she won’t have come across before but that fits in with her interests – does she enjoy cooking, crafting, gardening, fashion, pets? There’s something for every taste so check it out.

Let me know if you try out any of these tutorials for Mother’s Day crafts and which gifts you pick out to treat your mother at the end of March. I always find that time runs away with me in March, so I hope to have time to sort out a lovely treat for my own mother and I’m sure there’ll be baking involved – check out my cupcake recipes to make a yummy batch of mum’s favourite cakes!


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The Great British Sewing Bee – My shirt challenge

So do you think it’s the only thing worth watching on TV these days? Are you loving The Great British Sewing Bee like I am? I’m a big fan and it really makes me want to get back behind the sewing machine and start making again! I happily sat and absorbed the first show but didn’t really feel all that inspired to start stitching. HOWEVER, during the second week my imagination sparked into life during the shirt challenge and I knew I wanted to give it a go myself.

In the second episode challenge the contestants could choose two patterned shirts and make them into anything they wanted. There were a lot of skirts and baby dresses made but not much in the way of shirts. I know that the judges wanted to see something innovative but I couldn’t help thinking how simple and cool it would be to swap the arms and collar of one shirt for another. So the idea bubbled away in my mind and I found myself flicking through my husband’s wardrobe to see what items of clothing I could nab for my project.

Great British Sewing Bee episode 2 shirt challenge

Luckily (or sadly, whichever way you look at it) my husband has two shirts that are beyond repair – one has yellow paint splashed down the front and the other is worn away at the collar. Perfect for my project, I say! I’ve photographed the two shirts above before getting to work hacking off the sleeves, collar and pocket of each shirt to get the pieces I needed to create a mix-n-match shirt.

I stitched the grey arms into the white arm holes without checking if I’d put the arms in the correct side (this is why I wouldn’t do at all well on the Sewing Bee – too lazy!) but when I came to check the sleeves – phew – they were in the right place. I’m so jammy! I’d left a little extra of the white collar as a hem to attach the grey collar to but it looked messy after I’d stitched it on with one row of straight stitching so I added a second row which pulled it all together and looked much neater.

Great British Sewing Bee episode 2 shirt challenge finished

Finally, and extra lazily, I stitched the grey pocket on top of the white pocket so now the shirt has a double-layered pocket on the front – so it can hold lots more pens etc – very practical, I reckon! Of course I forced hubby into the shirt and although it looks a bit like Wee Willy Winkie’s nightshirt, it fitted well and I think it looks kinda funky! Anyway, I completed the shirt challenge yesterday – a whole week after the show – just in time for the next episode and the t-shirt challenge to be set. I just need to find a big jersey t-shirt and I’ll be getting started! Have you been making anything from the show? Has it inspired you to stitch your own goodies yet? Let me know :)


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Say goodbye to mouldy paint & my other favourite life hacks

It’s always the same at this time of year. I start looking around at my home after the winter hibernation and realise that it’s time to make some changes. Whether it’s simply an early spring clean or (in my case) tackling a bigger decorating project, this is when I start gathering together my cleaning products, paint and tools and begin using my weekends to update my home. You may remember that I wrote about my horrible damp windows back in the autumn and how I kind-of solved the problem with some thermal blinds. Well, now the condensation has arrived elsewhere – in the bathroom – and has resulted in mouldy, furry and down-right gross bathroom walls. Needless to say this is the area that I’m going to be attacking first! So my life hack number 1 is for clearing mould and flaky paint:

DIY life hack tutorial to get rid of mould flaky bathroom paint

Yes, the damp has got under the paint in the bathroom and big chunks are falling off the walls. Couple this with spots of mould all over the walls and I’ve got one manky bathroom. So here’s how to tackle the mould and stop it coming back – whilst making your walls looks like new again!

1. Scrape off the flaky paint using a cheap stripping knife or a triangular shavehook. Be sure to scrape all the crumbs away, brush down the walls, then vacuum them up so that they don’t stick to the new paint! It will look a lot worse to start with but I promise it’s worth it!

life hacks how to get rid of mould in bathroom

2. Mix up a solution of 2 parts bleach with 10 parts water in a spray bottle (an empty cleaning spray bottle will do) and spritz the bleach water onto the walls to kill the mould. This is exactly the solution you’ll find inside pricey mould-killer products so just mix up your own, but be very careful when spraying because any splashes back on your clothes will bleach them – you might want to wear something old that you don’t mind ruining!

3. Allow this to dry thoroughly (probably overnight while you have a good rest after all tat scraping!) and all the mould will have been killed off. Then paint the walls with two coats of satin soft sheen paint such as diamond eggshell – never use matt – which will resist the condensation in future and any moisture will simply run off the walls or can be easily wiped down with a cloth or old towel.

Simple huh? Not only have you killed the mould and stopped it from coming back, but you’ve also got a nice newly painted room!

DIY life hack tutorial to get rid of mouldy paint

While I was doing my decorating I thought I’d get involved in Most Wanted magazine’s life hacks project to share my top 5 thrifty life hacks with you. So number 1 was getting rid of mouldy paint and here are the rest:

2. If you have rust stains on metal-work (on the car or caravan for example) use a whitening toothpaste on a toothbrush to scrub it off – the whitening toothpaste is a little bit more abrasive than a normal toothpaste and should work a treat!

3. Instead of buying those stick-on masks for French manicures, just wrap an elastic band around the nail to mask off the area above the tip and paint it as normal.

4. Make your own firelighters – used dried orange peel to get a sweet-smelling fire started, or make wax firelighters by putting lint/fluff from the tumble drier into egg boxes and pouring over melted wax and wait for it to set. You only need to use one egg-holder per fire. Lint stuffed inside empty toilet rolls also works great!

5. Clean your make up brushes every month in a homemade solution made from a squirt of hair conditioner, a cup of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Mix this all together then allow the brushes to soak, without rubbing the bristles which might damage them. After half an hour give them a rinse in cold water and allow to air-dry until completely dry.

And here’s the part where you can get involved yourself – there is a competition running on Pinterest, where my fabulous thrifty readers can be in with the chance of winning a £50 voucher for Amazon! So it’d be great if you could share your own life hacks and thrifty projects on Pinterest with the hashtag #VCLifeHacks. Most Wanted lifestyle magazine will pin their favourites onto a dedicated life hacks board and select a winner from there – so share away and best of luck!


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Thrifty fashion ~ DIY winter hat with bow & pom-poms

At this time of year the weather is cold, wet and sometimes snowy, and watching the Winter Olympics has got me thinking about wrapping up warm. So this week my thoughts have turned to making a nice cosy knitted hat to keep my head warm without having to spend a fortune on a trendy hat on the high street. You may already have the skills to be able to knit your own beanie, but I’m a novice knitter so I used a plain grey beanie hat that I already had in my ‘winter-wear’ box. Although it does the job of keeping me warm, it’s not particularly on-trend and, quite frankly, a bit boring for me.  A light-bulb pinged on in my head that I could just add a little knitted bow or a couple of contrasting pom-poms to my hat in order to funk it up and make it unique – and for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought hat! You could pick up a second-hand beanie hat from a charity shop or car boot sale to work your magic on or ask around to see if any of your family have an old one they no longer need that you could upcycle.

You will need: Wool, knitting needles, darning needle, hat, scissors

DIY thrifty fashion knitted bow accessory step by step instructions

To make the bow: Cast on a row of 10 or 12 stitches and continue to knit a length (like a thin scarf) which is approximately the width of your hat. Cast off and fold the length in half. Use the darning needle to stitch the ends together and turn the loop inside out. With the stitched ends in the centre of the bow, wrap a length of wool around the centre to make the middle of the bow and tuck the end in. Use more wool and the darning needle to stitch the bow to the hat. I wanted quite a big bow in a matching colour but you can easily make a smaller bow or recreate it in a brightly coloured wool.

I’d recommend watching a step-by-step video on how to knit this bow, which includes instructions for casting on and off as well as stitching the bow together, which my friend and fellow blogger Laurie’s has made – here’s the link to her knitting tutorial video on YouTube. If you would like to make a smaller bow (just like Laurie has in the video, which can be used as a brooch or hair clip too!) simply reduce the length of the knitting or choose a smaller size of knitting needle.

DIY thrifty fashion pom pom hat step by step

To make the pom-poms: Wrap the wool around your hand until it is thick and puffy. Slide the loop of wool off your hand and wrap a piece of wool around the centre, pulling it tight and knotting it in the middle, leaving the ends trailing. Use the scissors to cut through the looped ends of the pom-pom and fluff it out. Thread the trailing ends of the central piece of wool through the darning needle and stitch it to the hat, either on the top, or use a second pom-pom on the sides to create ‘ears’!

You can use matching wool or contrasting colours for your bows and pom-poms. Let me know if you have a go at making your own DIY woolly embellishments to make unique accessories – and why not give them as gifts to your friends? They will love to receive a personalized hat that no one else will have – plus the amount of time and love you have put into embellishing the hat will show them how much they mean to you!

I am a volunteer DIY blogger for Oxfam and I’m sharing this step-by-step tutorial over on the Oxfam Fashion blog too – plus there are plenty more excellent thrifty fashion projects by all the other lovely Oxfam bloggers so please check it out!


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DIY night in at the movies for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s day fast approaching I’ve come up with a simply DIY gift that you can easily make for your loved ones with time to spare. This gift is a ‘Night in at the Movies’ and includes all the snacks, treats and DVDs that you’d need to enjoy a night in with your favourite person. It’s an ideal gift to give to your partner for Valentine’s day and maybe you can include a couple of action or comedy DVDs that you know the man in your life will enjoy. Or if you’re single you can even make a gift bag up for your bestie and enjoy a girly night in together watching the old classics or the latest rom-com. Either way, you’ll be showing your favourite people just how important they are to you on the most romantic night of the year.

You’ll need: Scissors, small gift bag, double-sided sticky tape or glue, patterned paper or card, candy, microwave popcorn, choice of film.

DIY night in at the movies gift bag

  1. First you all you’ll need to make the bag smaller so that it holds the DVDs better, so what I’ve done is cut the bag in half down the sides and across the bottom.
  2. Use double-sided sticky tape or glue to stick the two pieces of the bag back together by inserting one side inside the other to make it into a thinner bag.
  3. Cut a rectangle of patterned paper or card the same size of the base of the thinner bag and stick it to the base inside to cover the over-lap on the inside.
  4. Just head down to the supermarket and pick up some snacks and candy – and don’t forget the microwave popcorn!

DIY night in at the movies gift bag - great valentines present

5. Pick up your pal’s favourite genre of DVD – maybe an all-time a classic film such as The Wizard of Oz that I’ve included for my best girlfriend.

6.Add all the goodies into the bag and write ‘A night in at the movies’ on the gift tag then hand it over to your Valentine with the promise of a lovely night in together.

This would be a lovely birthday gift for a film-buff or even a mothers’ or fathers’ day present so you can recreate it all year round for your favourite people!


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The countdown to Valentine’s Day begins

Okay, okay I know it’s not Christmas (although looking at the OTT shop displays at this time of year you’d be forgiven for believing otherwise) but I think, in my own selfish way, that Valentines Day is an important gift-giving occasion (hubby, this is a hint for you..!). In fact, it’s the only thing that gets me through January – looking forward to the outpouring of love that February brings. I know I’ve been super-spoilt on my birthday in December and again at Christmas, but I am someone who relies on these special occasions to get the kind of treats that some people buy for themselves all year round. Essentials like bubblebath, books and bed-socks – these are the kind of things that I wait until Valentines, Easter, Birthdays or Christmas for. I don’t buy treats or gifts or anything much for myself during the year and I want my Valentine to spoil me like the sulky little brat I really am! And it goes the other way too. Mr Fairy (hmm, must work on the husband nickname…) doesn’t buy anything much for himself either and I love to buy him treats and goodies. The fact that I went a little overboard with Christmas this year (due to a lot of early buying, wrapping and then forgetting that I’d already bought something) means that there’s not much else on my fella’s wishlist that I can get for him. Plus everyone is strapped for cash at this time of year, am I right?

knitted heart found on a doorknob in cambridge

I saw this knitted heart hanging from a doorknob while walking through Cambridge, so cute!

So if you are trying to woo someone this Valentines Day or if you just want to cheer up your partner after a rotten grey January you might want to read on. Because once again it has snuck up on me and I really DO want to give my husband a lovely Valentines Day but what do I do with less than week to go? What shall we all do for Valentines Day? Here are some of the treats that you can make yourself at home and the links to the tutorial pages on my blog:

valentines day craft sewing card with stitched lettering and heart motif

Make a hand-stitched card for your valentine – this is the one I made for my husband last year

red love heart nails for valentines day nail art polish

Paint your nails with a cute hear design – here’s my mini-tutorial on how to get the perfect heart shape

Jam tart heart cake recipe valentines day

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach (or mine for that matter) – Here’s my recipe for love heart jam tarts

And finally, what about Valentine’s Day activities or that special night out? We have spent a bit of time doing research online this week to try to find somewhere to have a proper Valentine’s date – something that we’ve never done before. Of course we’ve spent time together on Valentine’s Day but have never gone out for one of those 3-courses-Valentines-special meals that all the resturants nearby are advertising. However, I think we might have to scratch that idea because all of the ‘special offers’ I’ve come across would mean spending a small fortune and quite frankly I’d rather buy a new gate for the back garden. So I am taking my own advice about free and cheap date ideas for Valentine’s Day and beyond that I published on the blog last year – check it out here  and hopefully I’ll be doing one of these ideas this year!

Lastly, if you want to communicate your feelings towards your Valentine in more ways than one, here’s a little video from the Makaton Charity, which has been helping me to learn Makaton over the past couple of years, showing the signs for boyfriend, girlfriend, cuddle, date, surprise, friends, February and much more – I can’t believe I didn’t know the sign for ‘kiss’ until I watched it!

I


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My year of thrifty retail & DIY fashion

I have amazing news and I’ve already been yelling it all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+ so if you haven’t already heard my screeches from where you are here it is again: I’VE BEEN SHORTLISTED IN THE NATIONAL UK BLOG AWARDS 2014! When I saw all the other amazing nominees in the Retail and Fashion category I could never have dared to believe that I might be shortlisted, but results are in and the announcement has been made – and my little blog has made it into the top 10 in the country! The finalists will be judged by industry professionals Carli Palmer from House of Fraser and Melanie Killilnea from Hotter Shoes – and I’m so excited to think that they could be looking at my blog right now. This has got me thinking about the past year on my blog and all of the thrifty shopping, fashion and DIY posts I’ve done now that I’m approaching my 1000th blog post and I wanted to take a nostalgic look back over the year with you – so here goes:

A recent early morning walk in the frost resulted in a mini fashion-shoot using blogger & stylist Sasha Bowman’s La Mere layering technique and gave me the chance to show off my new Brag Vintage find!

Again, snow was the inspiration behind my winter outfit post in which I proudly wore my new size 10 H&M coat that I never would have fitted into the year before and a cute Apricot dress. There’s really nothing better than being out in the cold while snuggled up with a hot drink.

At Christmas I let you all know what I’d be wearing with some snaps of my birthday/Christmas dress from La Redoute, my homemade snood infinity scarf and the festive jumper I made myself with just a bag of pom-poms and a needle – just two of the many of DIY outfit posts that I’ve written for Oxfam Fashion.

You’ll probably remember how terrified I was about attending the Company Style Blog Awards last year – what on earth would I wear to go into a room full of über-stylish fashionistas? And after a lot of deliberation here on the blog, I decided on an Apricot and New Look outfit combined with some car-boot sale bargains and borrowed accessories.

And then came my nemesis – the emerald green dress that I made myself – remember how long it took me to get going on the project, how scary it was to cut into the fabric, how many adjustments I needed to make to the pattern? Thankfully it turned out great in the end and sparked an interesting discussion about Sew-It-Yourself. Plus I now have a custom-made dress hanging in my wardrobe!

To date there have been 128 weeks of Tuesday Shoesday posts discussing footwear trends and weekly DIY posts on making your own accessories for yourself (and for the home too!) and adjusting your thrifted clothing to fit. I’ve also enjoyed sharing the new season trends and focussing on fashion week favourites – including how to get the look for less – the most important thing is saving money for us all through sensible shopping! Of course, there are tons more posts than I can mention here – we’d be here all day! – but please have browse through my categories on my sidebar to check out more shopping, fashion, sewing, trend and bargain-hunting articles for yourself.

I hope that you’ve all been enjoying reading my blog and have got some ideas that you’ve used yourself. But most importantly I want to say a massive THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for voting for my little blog to be shortlisted in the National UK Blog Awards, you can’t imagine what it means to me but you can be sure that the smile on my face is gigantic right now! :D

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