Credit crunch crafting: raid your cupboards to make a wallhanging

This lovely hanging cost me nothing except for the time it took to make it. The fabric came from a swatch book I was given by a journalist who is sent lots of samples from shops - you don't need to be a journalist to get them, as many shops chuck away sample books regularly (previous season, discounted stock, etc). I asked a shop once and got some amazing swatch books that were going to be thrown away. The key is to ask posh shops as smaller shops might want you to pay for them!

This swatch book is precious to me as it reproduces William Morris' designs. I used to  live opposite the William Morris Gallery in London, I bought that house because it was across the road from this wonderful, free museum not many people know of. The archive of Morris's designs belongs to Sanderson, which sells reproductions for soft furnishings and of course wallpaper.

I found matching ribbon and thread among my stack of sewing materials, the bamboo canes inside the top and bottom of the panel are gardening canes I cleaned up and I had the hooks in my DIY box!

So look inside your cupboards, among your sewing materials and even in your garage, you might find unused materials to make a stunning hanging like mine.

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Jazzing up a jumper the easy way

I have recently read the excellent Reconstructing Clothes for Dummies by Miranda Caroligne Burns and got inspired to look into my wardrobe and dig out something I hardly wear but cannot bear to give away.

This beautiful black jumper was hand knitted and embroidered several years ago but lost its appeal. I don't wear black tops anymore and the wool is scratchy, meaning that in the past I had to wear something underneath. This means it was not suitable as workwear as most offices are stuffy nor for partywear. I only wore it around Christmas time when the weather got really cold.

As the embroidery is really beautiful and the jumper fits me so well, I didn't want to give it away so I kept it folded in a clear sleeve with a bunch of dried lavender to discourage moths.

Our imminent (I hope) relocation means that I need to declutter, so if something is not getting used, it has to go to the charity shop or must be freecycled. I wanted to keep this jumper, so I unstitched the sleeves, then routed around my bags of embellishments to see if I could jazz it up.

I tried to find material that matched the embroidery, which has silks in red, yellow, purple, green, brown and pale blue. I threaded the sleeve with silver and red threads, pulling the red string a bit to curl the opening. A broken garter belt provided the lacy (and racy) collar, while a 1980s corsage that previously decorated an old pair of woollen gloves made a shining centrepiece.

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Make a toy blanket

Making toys is good fun and you can recycle materials in the process. This toy blanket is an easy and satisfying project that requires basic sewing skills.

You only need two small offcuts of fabric (soft cotton or fleecy material), some ribbons, needle and thread (and/or a sewing machine if you have one).

This toy is suitable from birth onwards. If you don’t feel confident making it but love to get one, you can buy a taggies blanket from www.nctshop.co.uk, whose profits go to the NCT (a registered UK charity for parents).

This toy is a great gift for a new baby. I made this for Michela when she was a few months old but she still loves inserting her little fingers in the ribbon hooks (she is two and a half now).

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