Thursday, 24 December 2020

Fireplace for Shoebox Sitting room

Shoebox fireplace

It's taken a while...but now the shoebox kitchen has been updated, it's time to move onto the sitting room, and a fireplace seemed a good place to start. This one is made from a stock cube box - it's a good size for an average sized shoebox, but look out for other small boxes in the recycling that might do the job. The same method would apply whatever you're using.

The other things you'll need are:
Sheet of plain paper
Craft glue/glue stick
Tissue paper (red, orange, yellow. All or what you have, for the fire)
Small garden twigs
Small piece of cereal box card
Fine black pen (felt or gel)
Nail scissors or similar (to be used by an adult)

1. First, draw around the box, lining up a long edge with the edge of the paper. Make sure you give yourself enough of a margin either side, to cover the sides and wrap around to the back of the box.

Draw an arch for the fire opening in the middle of the rectangle you've drawn. Either do this freehand, or make a template (fold some paper or thin card, draw half an arch on the fold, and open up)

Cut out the arch shape. See picture below.

2. Place the paper on top of the box, lining up the sides, and draw around the arch on the card so it's easy to see. Pierce through the card with nail scissors or something similar (to be done by an adult) and cut around the OUTSIDE of the arch - you want this arch to be bigger than the paper one, so it isn't visible when the box is covered. This means it doesn't matter if the card cutting is a bit rough, because you won't see it.

Paint the inside of the box black and then glue on the paper front, lining up the edges, smoothing as you go, wrapping around the sides and the back. Either use a very thin layer of craft glue or rub glue stick over the box. It's good to use a glue stick when sticking on paper with little ones - it's less messy and easier to get a smoother, less rumply finish.

For the mantlepiece, just cut a piece of paper the length of the fireplace and about twice the width. Fold it in half lengthways and shorten one of the sides by about a half, cutting straight across. This will be the shorter overhang. Glue the wider side on top of the fireplace. 

3. Glue some small twigs together to make the base of the fire and use tissue paper for the flames. We've cut the tissue paper different sizes, then twisted it at the bottom before gluing to the twigs, but simply scrunching small pieces of tissue paper together works really well too. It's nice to have all three colours, but if you don't that's fine.

4. For the base of the fireplace, the hearth, cut a rectangular piece of cereal box card that's at least as long as the fireplace and about 3cm/1in. wider.

Paint it grey, or maybe try a marble effect? Load your brush with white paint then dab it into a tiny bit of black, you're looking for a dappled, swirly mix of white, grey and (not too much) black.

5. Leave the fireplace as it is, or paint it any colour you like. We made two, to see how they'd look in the sitting room. We tried a marble effect on one and I drew a simple design with a black pen on the other. 

6. We went for this one in the end. 
More furniture on the way!


Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Pick up a Penguin pattern! #sewasoftie

Penguin decoration

I love a tree decoration, we are coming down with them! Every year I'm surprised by the sheer number of baubles and ornaments that come out of the Christmas box, but there's always room for more don't you think??

Lovely Trixi from @sewasoftie has organised a festive Sew a Softie this Christmas and I'm so happy to be joining in. She's on a mission to get kids and parents sewing, and Instagram has been festooned with fabulous easy projects, to try to tempt those who haven't tried before to give it a go.

This penguin is quite small, but the sewing is straightforward - help needed with pinning the bottom of the penguin and turning it inside-out.

You will need:

Black felt

White felt

Yellow felt (for feet and beak)

Coloured felt (for hat)


Embroidery thread or thin yarn

Fabric glue

Craft pompoms (optional)

String or yarn 

1. First of all, cut out the three pieces from the pattern you'll find HERE. Pin to the felt, and carefully cut around the shapes.

Line up an edge of the white felt with one edge of the black felt. Pin, and on the white felt, draw a pencil line about 1/2-1cm (1/4in.) in from the edge, to help as a guide for sewing. Thread your needle (we used black thread because it was easier to see), and start sewing about 1/2cm (1/4in.) along from the start of the pencil line. You could do running stitch, but back stitch makes a stronger, less visible seam, and the penguin is quite small, so doesn't take too long to do. Finish sewing and fasten off about 1/2cm before the end of the pencil line.  

2. Take the pins out and line the other edge of the white felt with the edge of the black felt. Pin again and draw another sewing guideline in pencil. Mirror what you did on the other side with the sewing.

3. Now the slightly more tricky part - you want the white front piece to be right in the middle, so there's a small fold of black either side, roughly the same size. When it looks right, open the seams near the bottom and flatten and pin.
Draw a line across again if you want, about 1/2cm/1cm from the edge, and carefully sew across the bottom of your penguin.

4. Trim the bottom a little before turning inside-out. This can be fiddly, but using the handle of a wooden spoon works well. Press the bottom seam on the end of the handle, and carefully pull and feed the rest of the penguin body down, over the handle end, until it's the right way around. Use your pencil to push out the corners. 

5. You only need a very small amount of stuffing, your penguin should be more flat than round - use the pencil to push the stuffing down to the bottom corners.

6. For the hat, fold the felt piece in half and sew up the side seam (use a pencil line as a guide again, if you want). This time, make a starting stitch that loops over the bottom edge, so there's no gap, and fasten off about 1/2cm from the top. 

7. With the same thread and needle, do running stitch around the top of the hat, about 1/2cm or so from the top edge. Pull it tight and fasten off.

8. Turn the hat round the right way. We embroidered a simple snowflake shape on the front of the hat, but you could also glue on something sparkly, like a sequin, or just leave it plain.

9. Thread a needle with the string or yarn you're using to hang up your little penguin decoration, and push it through the top of the hat from underneath, and then loop it back down again. Take the needle off, bring the ends of the string together and tie a knot. Pull the knot up, inside the hat.

10. Check the hat fits on the penguin's head - you might need to trim the black and white felt a little. When you're happy, glue on. We found the easiest way was to brush glue inside the top part of the hat - just don't get it too near the bottom edge, you don't any glue bits to be visible on the penguin. 

11. Use black embroidery thread or thin black yarn to sew on eyes. Use French knots or make a few small stitches on top of each other. 

Cut out a small triangle for a beak from yellow felt and two small semi-circles for feet. Use only a tiny dot of glue on the beak to glue it right under the eyes, and only a thin layer on the feet too.

If you have any among your craft supplies, glue a little pompom on top of the hat.