paper source

DIY Bags from anything!

DIY gift bags made from calendar pages

Ok, not quite anything.  but certainly from old calendars, newspapers and potato-chip tubes.

Last weekend I riffled through our overflowing recycling pile and extracted some paper to play with, experimenting with my sewing machine.  My favourite are these vibrant gift bags, made by simply stitching together two pages from last year’s calendar;


The local supermarket weekly newspaper becomes a single-use tote or gift bag when stitched on two sides and adorned with ribbon-scrap handles..

DIY recycled newspaper tote

And a souvenir from our recent trip to Cape Town – a free weekly mag from the winelands – becomes a fun bag too!

DIY book from old magazines

And finally Pringles tubes covered in leftover gift-wrap become handy packages for cookies, sweets or half-bottles of Valentine’s champagne (I write that in case my husband is reading; what is a blog for, if not to drop heavy marital hints?)



To make calendar bags…

If you still have last year’s calendar lying around (ours was from here),  separate and trim the pages and then stitch two of them together on your sewing machine, using a basic running stitch and staying as close to the edges as you can.  Make sure both picture-sides are facing out, to avoid gifting someone the insight of your carefully-detailed family events for the entire month of June 2019.  Use a hole punch to make holes at the top and thread through scraps of ribbon or string to make handles.  You could also add a pocket to the outside of the bag (to hold a gift card for example) by stitching on a square of card before you sew the two sides together.

To make newspaper or magazine bags…

These are less sturdy (despite my styling above, I don’t recommend using them for the weekly shop), but they’re great fun.  Try using a foreign language newspaper, or a glossy magazine  – they’re the perfect size and weight to hold a book or other lightweight gift.  Open up your newspaper and remove any staples, and keep just a few layers of the pages. You can fold the top over to make a cuff as I did with the Waitrose newspaper, or just leave them as is.  Stitch around the sides as before (make sure you leave the top open, of course..), and then you can either stitch on ribbon handles or use a hole punch and eyelets as above.

For the gift tube..

Take an empty Pringles tin (I’m afraid this craft may require you to eat a tube of Pringles first; consider it a display of your commitment to the muse), then roll it over a sheet of giftwrap to work out the dimensions of the paper you need.  Cut out the paper, paste it around the tube using watered-down white glue and then punch holes for handles when dry.  Don’t be alarmed by the drying process by the way, in which the paper will look awful.  By the morning it will be beautiful.

p.s. from the archives; book vases, stitched vessels and altered envelopes

Happy Thursday!

handbag logo

Home for the Holidays

With just six Big Sleeps ’til Christmas, anticipation is running high in our household. We flung open our doors last Sunday to family and friends, and this for us marked the start of the festivities (and compelled us to complete the holiday decor!).  We have a couple more days of work to get through, but the house at least is ready and adorned; today let me give you a quick tour in lieu of being able to actually invite you over for a glass of mulled wine…

Holiday house Christmas bike

Remember this delivery bike from Easter?  I’ve decked it out for Christmas, using an old fruit crate which I sprayed black, tucking in a faux Christmas tree draped in inexpensive, hardy baubles.  A simple wreath is tied to the basket frame, and I used one of these paper placemats mounted on card stock to make the welcoming holiday sign.  I wired a stock of old red lightbulbs (a car-boot sale find) and draped them over the frame, before clipping on an IKEA lantern at the back.  I bought of stash of these and have used them liberally throughout the house this year, following the Anthropologie adage that anything used in excess can look quite cool…  The bike sits outside in the lane when we’re expecting guests; rain permitting, of course.

In the hallway, an old sledge carries enticing looking parcels, which are actually old cardboard boxes wrapped in wall-lining paper and tied with ribbon.  I’ve borrowed the reindeer skin from our bathroom to add more Nordic style.  The sledge is lit by a paper tree, which I’ve hung with parcels of magic reindeer food (last year’s recipe is here), and which are given to small visitors when they leave.

Holiday House Entryway

Holiday House Reindeer Food

The Fir lady from last week is now complete and has taken up residence in a quiet corner of the kitchen, where she is shown to best advantage and unlikely to get underfoot;

Fir Lady

More parcels and lanterns add to the festive effect…

Fir Lady for Christmas

The biggest Christmas display is in our long and open hallway which runs the length of the house; I wanted something that would catch your eye as you walk in, but also look interesting as you come down the stairs, or glimpse it through the kitchen doorway.  It’s on the main thoroughfare to the bathroom, so tends to stop people in their tracks as they pause to examine the various bits and pieces….

Holiday house Christmas hallway

Let’s start at the bottom; I placed a large trunk on top of our hall table, then filled a picnic hamper with straw and tucked in two festive geese, which in previous years have been left to totter along landings at Christmas, or have perched on shelves.  They look slightly curious or alarmed, as if they know they are heading for the oven; but it also has the effect of looking a little like a hot air balloon basket, which may give them cause for hope of escape..

Christmas Geese in a Basket

On top of the case is an old wooden ladder which is usually covered in paint and dust, but for now is hung with more interesting accents and decorations.  Tucked underneath is an old typewriter, with a couple of robins perched atop it, pecking at the keys;

Festive hallway display

And a carol is typed out, for those who peer closely enough…

Christmas typewriter

Arranged on the ladder are various natural decorations like twig balls and giant seed pods, into which I’ve placed baubles as if they’ve just burst open to reveal them;

Festive montage

…and remember the book folding post?  I’ve used a couple of the books I made to add another dimension to the display;

folded decorations I

folded decorations II

More garden bits and pieces are arranged on top of a zinc pedestal which normally lives on the patio, including a driftwood wreath and wooden stars;

Garden decorations for Christmas

And further down the table, an old vegetable crate is turned on its side on a stool to create a winter forest scene, using animals from Harry’s Ark and tiny bristle trees.

Crate nativity

A wicker basket is perched atop the ladder with a small tree trimmed with battery LED lights (we click it on in the evenings), and this is the view as you head down the stairs;

Holiday scene from the stairs


It’s a constantly evolving display as items are borrowed and replaced, or others are added; but it’s quirky and makes me smile.  In other rooms we have the Christmas tree as usual, and other, more traditional decor; this is just a taste of something a little different, to ring in the changes. I hope you enjoyed it too!

I’ll be back a couple more times before Christmas with last-minute cookie gifts, printable Santa telegrams and some wrapping ideas.  It’s ho ho ho all the way now I’m afraid; there’s no place for the Grinch here…

Kate x

Festive delivery bike