Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

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


Inspiration challenge – here’s what we made in July & the new theme for August

We’ve had another fantastic month of sunshine in July but the hot weather didn’t lure our regular inspiration challengers away from their projects. Here’s a catch up on what we made this month on the theme of Maneki Neko – Lucky Cats.

inspiration challenges for July maneki neko

1. Andy Greenacre from art blog AndyGtheArtist tells me that he spotted this Kokeshi doll painting kit in a charity shop at the start of the month and immediately thought of the Inspiration Challenge. He snapped it up and set to work transforming the blank wooden doll into a lovely oriental friendship doll using the paints provided in the kit. He tells me it was a quick and easy project (thanks to quick drying paint and hot weather!) and he is pleased with the results, having never really painted 3D objects in the past.

inspiration challenge for july andy greenacre kokeshi friendship doll maneki neko lucky cats

2. Lucy from LucyLovesYa blog went the whole hog and got a tattoo! She was planning a new tattoo of this oriental Kokeshi Doll prior to the challenge being announced and realised that it would be the ideal contribution to the Inspiration Challenge this month. So while I don’t expect you all to rush out and get tattoos, this is a pretty funky creative project and one that I probably won’t ever be able to top (ouch!). I just hope it doesn’t hurt too much Lucy!

3. The lovely Will from Abakhan fabrics made his second-ever sewing project for the inspiration challenge – making an envelope clutch bag from oriental fabric. The bag isn’t quite finished yet, so I’m keeping  my fingers crossed that Will finishes off his new project and I hope to be able to share a photo of it soon!

july inspiration challenge maneki neko embroidery by katy ella betsy boo

4. Katy from EllaBetsyBoo (check out her shop on Etsy) embroidered this Maneki Neko design one of her two-year-old’s t-shirts, based on a template she found on Pinterest; “I really enjoyed trawling Pinterest and Etsy for ideas, and it’s the first time I’ve stitched freehand without following a pattern. It was fun choosing threads and styling it a bit!”. I think this is a fantastic way to update a t-shirt and I have just got some new embroidery hoops from wholeport, so I think I’d like to give this technique a go soon!

5. Seeing as this month’s theme was a total self-indulgence of my favourite things, I had no trouble in deciding to make Maneki Neko t-shirt that I have not been able to stop wearing since! I found this cute cartoon drawing of a lucky cat holding a fish online (by Articubone) and printed it onto t-shirt transfer paper. This sounds like a much easier process than it actually was, due to my printer breaking half way through and the paper continually getting jammed in the machine. But once I’d used my in-laws’ printer to get it printed, it was a pretty simple process. I followed the instructions to cut the image down leaving a 5mm border and ironed it onto a plain t-shirt. After only a few minutes of ironing and cooling, I had a brand-new t-shirt with my favourite maneki neko (with a similar colouring to my cat Muffin) on it!

Step 4 Oxfam Fashion DIY Printed T-shirt

And I hope you haven’t forgotten that this month there was a prize to be won from online gift shop. Joanie has very kindly donated a prize of one of these small ceramic lucky cats below (I have actually bought one of these from Joanie in the past and they are just lovely!) and a super-cute maneki-neko purse. The winner has been drawn by from all the projects received in July and the winner is number 4 – Katy :) Congratulations!

july inspiration challenge prize from joanies gifts

And now it’s the summer break and what better excuse to join in with the Inspiration Challenge?! How about getting the children involved too while they are on their school holidays? Why not take your projects outside this month and enjoy the warm weather while it’s here – grab a picnic blanket, your crafting weapons of choice, and some SPF cream and get to work on this month’s new challenge theme: vintage wedding dress. Lucy has kindly sent in this photo (below) of her vintage wedding dress and bolero as the starting inspiration for August’s challenge – very appropriate seeing as we are at the height of wedding season and I’m celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary this month so I’m already feeling all wedding-y! So get thinking about what you might make around the theme of vintage wedding dresses and let me know how you’re getting on with your projects – tweet me all month at @CassiefairyTutu and send me your finished items at the end of August. This month we have been offered a lovely little prize from Abakhan – the amazing online haberdashery and fabric shop – check out their website now and I’ll share the prize details with you a littler later in the month!

inspiration challenge for august 2013 vintage wedding dress from lucylovesya blog

I hope you have a lovely summer and happy creating! :)


A special prize from Joanie’s Gifts for July’s Inspiration Challenge

If you’re a long-term follower of my blog, you’ll know how much I love lucky cats and oriental design, so it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve chosen my collection of lucky animals as the starting point for July’s Inspiration Challenge. And I’m delighted to say that the lovely Joanie from Joanie’s Gifts shop has offered a prize for this month’s challenge!

inspiration challenges for July maneki neko

Joanie owns a fabulous online gift shop which retails very reasonably priced handmade treats, fashion accessories and interior design items. Whether you’re looking for a wedding present, birthday gift or something unique for yourself, you’ll be sure to find something amazing in her shop – I’ve personally never failed to find what I’m looking for on her site – from greetings cards to jewellery!

And most appropriately Joanie specialises in oriental gifts and, in fact,  my tiny little lucky cat above came from Joanie’s Gifts! She has very kindly offered to give a prize of a small lucky cat and a lucky cat purse to one lucky contributor to this month’s Inspiration Challenge! All contributions will be put into a draw and the winner will be chosen at random on the 1st August 2013. So check out what we made last month, and have a think about what YOU could make this month!

Anyone can join in – just tweet me with your progress and send me your projects by email to or on Twitter to @CassiefairyTutu by the end of July 2013. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly crafted item – it’s just for fun, a chance to try something new and a good excuse to get creative over the summer holidays – plus you might win Joanie’s lovely prize!

It would be great to hear your suggestions for August’s Inspiration Challenge theme so please email with your ideas or photos for next month. Happy making!

Other Inspiration Challenge articles


My Maneki Neko obession – The ultimate must-have fabric…

Can you believe your eyes..? That’s right… Maneki Neko print fabric! Have all my Christmases come at once?! I can tell you right now that I NEED this lucky cat fabric. The only thing stopping me is that it is a fairly small piece (you can tell by the tape-measure at the sides), and is fairly highly priced… and would it really go with my retro-inspired living room design?  I’m going to umm and ahh over it for a while and figure out what I could use it for – any ideas, anyone? leave me a comment below :)

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My little Maneki Neko obsession – a new addition to the family from @JoaniesGifts

You may remember that last month I had a lot of birthdays to buy for and I’d decided to get organised and buy online for all the birthdays and events that were approaching. That was the first time that I came across JoaniesGifts which has fast become one of my favourite gift shops!

Not only does it stock one of my favourite homewares brands East of India, but also the website has just had a fantastic makeover with tons of new gift product ranges and more features added including gift vouchers (yes please!) and my favourite new feature “wish-lists” so that I can save my favourite items and share with my family so I know I’ll get something lovely for my birthday teehee!

And you may remember that I loved all the oriental gifts but especially I loved the cute lucky cats that Joanie sells… so I might have chosen a new member for my lucky animal family – and here he is – my cute chubby ceramic maneki neko! I love him; he looks so happy and he’s definitely the baby of the family!

But of course, now I’ve spotted another lucky animal on the website that I’m desperate to get my hands on – I love Joanie’s new range of lucky owls (pictured top) – again they are really cute & happy and great quality, so I’m creating a wish list which mainly contains lucky owls! And great news – Joanie is giving 20% off for all Facebook likers so that’s even better! :)


I love to shop online & here’s my latest find – JoaniesGifts!

Do you have a particular time of year when all birthdays, anniversaries and christenings all come at once? As if everyone you know had conspired to be born at the same time and hold all their weddings at once?! Well I’m fast approaching that time of year and I’ve decided to be well organised this year to get everything bought and wrapped well ahead of time!

So I took myself and my trusty laptop off to a cosy corner and started shopping around for unique gifts online – no getting stuck in traffic or paying for parking for me ha! I found that a quick search through Google brought up the big companies, but I wanted to find something different, and support other small UK businesses like myself. So I headed to google and checked out who my friends were following and hey presto! I found this amazing gift website 

It has amazing ranges of gifts that are handily categorised into occasions (I found the Father’s Day section particularly useful a couple of weeks ago!) and even greetings cards too – practically a one-stop-shop for everything I needed to get all at once! This UK-based quirky gift shop is run by Joanie who initially set up the gift shop to sell her all the pretty oriental gifts and over the years her product range has grown into an eclectic mix of handmade items, and popular brands such as cute shabby chic homewares from East of India and UK designed Gorjuss bags and accessories.

One of the most amazing things I found on this site was Cards That Grow – greetings cards made from recycled paper, soy-based inks and organic pigments, that actually grow into flowers when planted! Essentially a card and a bunch of flowers in one – Awesome for my green-fingered family!

As you probably remember, I go a little crazy for all things oriental and in this site I have finally found a UK supplier of my favourite lucky cats ‘Maneki Neko’ (here’s my blog post!) and they are so reasonably priced that I think I’m going to have to treat myself during my next shopping trip to JoaniesGifts! I hope you’ll check it out for yourself, and I hope my husband takes note of my wish list for EVERYTHING in the oriental gifts category!


My little Maneki Neko obsession…

I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement when I say I love these lucky cats! My love of all things kitsch has been well documented over the years (I think it started when I was 16 and began to choose my own decor!) and I’ve been admiring these tacky plastic cats in takeaway restaurants for ageees.

Little did I know that owning one would be so easy – no adoption process, no shipping from some far-flung asian land, nope – just a quick browse on the internet brought up a plethora of these cheeky little kitties that I could buy right here in the UK.

My first Maneki Neko cat was bought for me by my husband for my birthday and it was garish-gold, plastic-y and – best of all – solar-powered! How tacky is that?!! But he’s my special cat (called lucky) and he waves at me all day long thanks to that solar panel. And sometimes, when I look at him at night – and he’s not waving already his little paw – he starts up waving at me. And this really scared me! After the first couple of times he did it, I thought it through and (although convinced that he could see that I was looking at him) I realised that it was probably more likely that the light from my lamp must reflect off my face and therefore, when I turn towards the lucky cat I bounce some light towards him and start up his solar-powered paw.

I watched the ‘Catwoman’ documentary by Joanna Lumley recently and the lucky lady got to visit the home of Maneki Neko and see hundreds of these little lovelies as well as hear the ‘legend’ of this lucky cat. Apparently the story goes that a wealthy nobleman was sheltering under a tree near Gotoku-ji temple in Western Tokyo during a thunderstorm. The lord saw the temple’s cat beckoning to him and followed; a moment later the tree was struck by lightning. The wealthy lord believed that the cat had saved his life and became friends with the poor priest and the temple became prosperous. When the cat died, supposedly the first Maneki Neko was made in his honor. There are many other stories of the legend of the lucky cat, but all around the theme of the cat bringing wealth, safety and happiness. So that can’t be bad can it?!

My husband has since bought me a large ceramic lucky cat while he was away for work in Preston (don’t worry, it’s still very glittery and tacky!) and I’ve even picked up a lucky gold pig money box. I don’t want to get too carried away with this collection, but I’ve got my eye on this chubby little fella and some Maneki Neko fabric too!


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