Thursday, 14 May 2015

Macrame, DIY belts & 1970s retro styling...

macrame materials

Since the building work on our house was completed I've been tasked with planning the decorating and interior styling.  The house is a typical 1970's build - complete with 'serving hatch' between kitchen and dining room which I have not, under any circumstances, let anyone remove (although a previous builder did somehow manage to chop and inch or so off the bottom of the doors so I've still got to work out how to sort it back out!)

serving hatch circa 1970s
Hands off my hatch!

Being a bit of a collector (aka hoarder according to the family) I am also looking forward to mixing the decor plans with being able to display some of my finds.  I also want to give the occasional nod to it's humble summer of '76 beginnings (without overdoing it) so it's great that all things 70's are back on trend because it means there is lots of inspiration in the shops!  I've already got me some flared jeans and a few crochet tassel tops (ooh I'm so retro ;-)) and what I want now is a belt and well, being a crafter, what a fab excuse to get making a DIY macrame one just like they did back in the day! 

I've used simple macrame techniques to make jewellery in the past - I even did a 'Macrame Bead Bracelet' tutorial for YouTube when 'those' (which-shall-not-be-named..) bracelets were popular.   In fact if you watch it you will see how to make basic 'square knots' (plus a few other good tips for adding beads to knotted cords!)  I've kept the rest of the knotting pretty simple on the belt so once you can do a square knot you should find the rest of it pretty easy too.

macrame string crafts
 (quick explanation for the vintage Black & White photos
 - it's not a mistake... I actually thought they made
 the knotting easier to follow this time!

So, to state the obvious,  you need scissors and some string - lots of it!  I cut 5 x 5mt lengths because I didn't want a really wide belt  I also used a couple of old bangles from a junk shop find to secure the strings to - larks head knots are the best way to attach the strings because they are so simply - basically you fold the string in two then, holding the middle like a loop,  thread the tail ends back through itself.

It also helps if you use a bit of tape to secure the work onto the table (unless you already have a proper macrame board of course!) 

Another good tip is to make cardboard 'bobbins' to wrap the long string ends around - it makes for less tangling up!  I wrapped them in their pairs for this project.

Once the strings were sorted, I began to make a square knot around the central 2 strings with the pairs of strings directly either side of it.

I made 5 'whole' square knots in total, in a line down the center strings.

Next I brought the two outer pairs of strings down the outside and, leaving a small gap, I used 2 x 'half' square knots to attach them to the two middle pairs...

1970s style belt

Then I used the same threads to work large square knots across all three middle pairs of strings...

how to make a macrame string belt

After that, the pairs were separated back out and, leaving a small gap,  the two outer pairs of strings were secured to the two middle pairs with 2 x 'half' square knots...

how to make a string belt

After that I began to repeat the pattern (i.e. leave a gap, make 5 square knots etc). Just make it as long as you need to go around your waist or hips.  My belt measured around 83cm not including bangles and tassels so if you want longer be sure to cut longer strings to start with (it's not an exact science!)

Repeat the pattern of knots until it is long enough...

Finish off in true retro style by tying small
 overhand knots in the ends of the tassels...

macrame string belt 1970s
(I decided the bangles were too big so squished
 them into a different shape!)

Oh - one last tip... if you are working on a table like I was, it helps to hold the strings you are knotting around between your knees  ... except maybe when you get a curious, string sniffing little visitor like this..

Enjoy getting knotty :-)

All photographs & text (c) Addicted to Making 2015

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Forget-me-knot Emmeline...

handmade necklace

It's voting day and I couldn't do a blog post without giving a nod to the Suffragettes and Emmeline Pankhurst who fought so hard to get women the vote!  One hundred years ago in 1915 women were increasingly picking up the slack as their men went off to war.  The Suffragettes had pledged their help to the war effort by calling a halt on militancy at the start of WWI, but still they didn't qualify to vote until 1918 (and then only if over 30).  We take it for granted that we can vote today.

Also, here's an update on my progress with pressing those little Forget-me-Knots and the project I left 'cooking'.  It has taken a bit of time to get the microwaving technique working better and not loosing the colour of the flowers when glossing over with dimensional magic but I am getting happier with the results...

how to make a pendant

I've discovered that you need to cover the flowers before adding the glossy stuff - whether with clear tape or acetate - unless you do the colour just disappears.  It's much better if you cover them and it can help to keep them where you want them!

...and with the Suffragettes in mind I decided to string this one onto ribbons in their campaign colours.. white & purple with the background of the pendant already being green!

Also, while I was experimenting, I decided to make a small picture to have on my desk and I had these little wooden frames in one of my craft drawers that had come from a paper crafting stash....

...I popped some little flowers on some backing parchment, sat them behind the frame (which I had painted with some gold paint) and glossed over them.

I then added a piece of wire at the back to get the frame to stand....

and was pretty pleased with the result!  

forgemeknot picture

I can see lots of other uses for this technique now... it might become addictive ;-)

What flowers shall I press next...

All photographs & text (c) Addicted to Making 2015

Friday, 1 May 2015

Forget-me-knots & starting again..

forget me knot flowers

My Dad gave me the Forget-me-knots growing in our garden and I've been waiting for them to reappear. He loved flowers and spent as much time as he could in his garden and was more than happy to share cuttings and seedlings.

forget me knot photograph
Such a totally gorgeous blue colour, some with white or some with yellow centres..

forget-me-knot photograph
Love the way they can also have little light pink or mauve colour flowers..

Spring is a symbolic time of re-awakening and never more so than this year it seems. It's been a fair while since I last wrote but to be honest, the end of last year was tough and I gave priority to family. We lost Dad in November.

I don't want this to be a sad 'poor me' post and things are more settled now but I've missed my little blog. I've missed crafting, I've missed thinking of random projects with historical or folklore themes to put on here. I need to put that right again.  So, I'm starting with the Forget-me-knots - it's the sweetest little unassuming & free-spirited flower and this time of year you can see it everywhere.  It's not fussy where it grows and it will self-seed and create a lovely border if you let it.

forgetmeknot picture

I've had it in my head that I would like to use some pressed Forget-me-knot flowers to make a pendant (..and I guess always have a bit of Dad in it somehow - he had lovely blue eyes when he was young too) but I am a little too impatient to press flowers in a book and wait months like I used to when I was growing up, so I made myself a small microwave book and experimented with how long to 'cook' them for to get them just right.

how to dry flowers

It's a tricky business but eventually they came out looking like this... 

dried forget-me-knot flowers

forget me knot pressed flowers

...however, as I discovered, you can then ruin them instantly when you try to pick them off the tissue!

forget me knot crafts
Carefully does it...

Still... trial & error and lots of patience have prevailed and I eventually had enough to begin experimenting with. First off I lightly glued them onto some paper and used some Mod Podge 'dimensional magic' to create the pendant look.  I was quite excited to see what it would come out like but, alas, the next morning they had all but lost their colour!  

make pressed flower pendant
Where's the colour gone?!

They still look quite pretty and I guess I might still set them in a proper frame but they weren't really the look I was going for.  


So, I have been working on my technique and there is another pendant setting tonight.  

mod podge pendant
will it... won't it...?

If it works I will do another tutorial and make a pendant with it.

To be continued...(wish me luck).

RIP Dad xxx

All photographs & text (c) Addicted to Making 2015