Friday, 26 June 2015

Get ready for the heatwave!!!

In the mid 1990's me and a fellow work mate discovered a bar in Soho called the Big Easy which made the most amazing iced cocktails.
This was our pre "hitting the town" place which we visited almost every Friday night and it was there that we fell in love with the Frozen Margarita!

Fresh, zingy, fruity and strong without being a knock out... it has just enough tequila to get you started for a long night of dancing!
I'm sure most people will have at least heard of frozen Margaritas, that's if they haven't ever tried one in one guise or another, but it's a classic which is a favourite in our house.
It's not only a thirst quenching frozen fruit based beverage but I'm sure it also counts as two of your five a day healthy eating fruit and veg deal! OK it's got watermelon and lime but it's got alcohol too so it's as healthy as it can be... and you know what they say "all things in moderation"!
So if you enjoy a little snifter but don't want to be legless then this is the one for you.
Please remember to drink responsibly and especially during a heatwaves you'll also need to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
This is also a great party alternative for anyone who doesn't drink but likes a pretty alcohol free cocktail to sip! 



Frozen Watermelon Margarita Cocktail recipe...though you can make all sorts of varieties including strawberry which is also delicious!

What you'll need:
A hand or cup blender
Ice cream maker / or a large heavy plastic container which is freezer safe and a fork

Ingredients:
Watermelon
Lime (about 4 if you are making a large jug for plenty of friends)
Sugar syrup -add 2 table spoons of sugar to 3 tablespoons of boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved and leave to cool.
Tequila
Rock salt (I used fleur de sel as it has a softer taste but it's still nice and salty!)
Still water




Instructions:
In a large cup place your chopped and deseeded watermelon and the juice of one lime, blend until smooth. I used a large wedge about 400grams of watermelon which will be enough to make enough granita for a large jug. Though please make sure it fits the capacity of your ice cream maker.
Add the cool sugar syrup and stir well. I purposely haven't added too much sugar as the watermelon I had was already nice and sweet!

Place the watermelon juice into the ice cream maker and follow instructions -you should have a granita setting or instructions in your product manual that will tell you how to do this.
On my ice cream maker it took only 10 minutes.
If you haven't one then follow instruction as above but place your watermelon juice in a large plastic container. Place in freezer, remove every couple of hours and using a fork lift up the frozen watermelon juice to form fluffy ice crystals until it's the consistency of a granita. This will take a little work but it's worth it!!!

Once your granita is ready and you're ready to make your cocktail place 1 measure of tequila per person/serving, the remaining fresh lime juice and top up with cold still water in a large jug and mix. The water will loosen the mix so it's ready to drink but don't water it down too much as you're looking for something that will slowly melt but is nice and thick too.

Take your cocktail glasses and gently squeeze a cut lime segment around the rim of your glass.
In a small plate place enough rock salt to coat a few glasses, turn your cocktail glass upside down and twist over the salt. The lime juice will serves as a glaze and will hold the salt to the glass. Even if you are having a virgin Margarita the salt is still a must... it really does help bring out the natural sweetness of the watermelon!
Pour into your cocktail glass, decorate with a couple of frozen raspberries, a sprig of mint and some cocktail umbrellas or colourful straws.
Cheers!




Friday, 24 April 2015

The fashion Revolution!

So today's the day when we ask "Who made my clothes"?
On the 24th of April 2013 an earth shattering event took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Over 2500 garment workers lost their lives in over crowded, unsafe, and illegal working conditions in a factory complex known as Rana Plaza.
These lives were not the only ones lost as countless others who depended on the wages of these workers also paid a heavy price!
Many families were left without the sole bread winner so the number of victims is in fact far higher then the actual body count.

Photo ©FashRev

The organisation Fashion Revolution has marked the day through a campaign which invites consumers through social media to ask high street shops and clothing labels:
"Who made my clothes?"

Supermodel Lilly Cole asks the question #whomademyclothes ©FashRev
Posting a photo on Instagram/Twitter might seem frivolous but in fact it's been working pretty well. So how does asking a simple question change anything? After the Rana Plaza disaster it was through social media that companies like Matalan were pressured by the public to do something about it and they did! Because of it they offered some compensation to workers and it was achieved through social media by everyday consumers like you and me... though we do think more can and should be done!
Asking questions, being interested and engaged with the world can only be good so... remember use the hastag: #whomademyclothes and tag your favourite clothing brands. Even if you don't get a response it doesn't mean that it hasn't been seen! The object of this campaign is not only to demand a change in how things are run in the garment industry but also to promote thought and discussion.

Because we've always believed in demanding fair wages and safe working conditions for garment workers this is a campaign we passionately support.
You may recall that Craft Guerrilla was born primarily because of this and our first campaign back in 2008 was to "wage war against mass produced tatt" which was our way of highlighting the exploitation and reminding consumers the cost of cheap mass produced goods.


©FashRev. Workers in Soko Kenya...

So two years on and we are still waiting to see real and lasting changes for garment workers in countries like Bangladesh.
We know that it's going to be a long road but we're positive that things can and will change! Plus with your actions and passion for making we're sure it will be a worthwhile endeavour.
Though on a final note I'd like to add that I do not boycott these labels and companies but in stead I do ask them questions and pressure them to take a stand and implement changes where needed which will better conditions for everyone involved.
I really don't think that solely boycotting is the answer, I mean we don't want to take anyone out of a job but we do want workers to have safe, clean, humane conditions and fair wages.

By making a few items, mending what you already own, up cycling, recycling clothing and buying your new clothing from ethical brands then you will be changing things with the best weapon you posses: your wallet!

Here today Here Tomorrow. London. ©FashRev


This year I decided that I'd be making more and buying less cheap fashion...
Here's my "afternoon skirt" -named because it literally should only take about 3 hours to make- as a project to remind myself of the work that goes into making a garment!
If you'd like to make your own you can find the full tutorial here:
www.blogforbettersewing.com




 


For more info on how you can be involved and check if there are any events in your country please go to the Fashion Revolution web site:
www.fashionrevolution.org

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Feeling fruity!

So that's it, finally spring has sprung and that means summer is on its way!
Aw man, the prospect of warmer weather, eating beautiful and bright summer fruit and the option to wear only one layer has made me giddy with excitement  though it's also made me think about accessories that I can wear to liven up my wardrobe staples.
Instead of spending a fortune on new clobber this summer I'm going to recycle, remake, create a few key pieces which I can mix and match and wear confidently with the knowledge that I'm not adding to the huge global problem (waste, unfair/ unsafe conditions and exploitation in the textile industry etc. etc. etc)....

Though this a very little gesture it can also be a step in the right direction. We definitely need to make do and buy less.
And because of that I came up with this cute little diy tutorial which I think looks just fab with my stripey top and will fit with other bits and bobs I already have in my wardrobe!
Plus as it's also made from fabric scraps that means no wastage here!

I think it looks pretty good with stripes, block colours and/or patterns too...What do you think, how will you wear yours?




So why watermelons?

A) they are very of the moment (hooray finally!!!) and B) watermelons are one of my favourite all time fruits so if you are a lover of the ruby red, super juicy, super sweet sphere of gorgeousness... then join me in wearing it with pride!

What you'll need:

*fabric
*felt (red/pink & green)
*interfacing
*ribbon
*thread & embroidery thread though you can opt to use a fabric pen (Black)
*a bright yellow bead -or a button
*pins, sewing needle and scissors
*sewing machine -though you can use fusible fabric if you don't fancy sewing it.

How to make it:

Step 1: 
Print out the pattern and cut as indicated... you'll need 2 x red felt shapes, 2 x green felt shapes and 2 x pink fabric shapes which should be backed with interfacing


Step 2: 
Embroider the watermelon seeds or use a fabric pen to draw these on...

embroidered
drawn on with a black fabric friendly pen



*This is your front and the back... The shapes will be layered over each other so you'll notice they are slightly different sizes. Though you can trim if you need to...



Step 3: 
Pin into place and sew... I've used a black thread so you can see what I'm doing but if you want a super neat look you'll need to use red and green thread as needed...
You can also use fusible fabric if you don't want to see any stitching or if you haven't a sewing machine at hand.



Step 4: 
Overlap slightly the edges of the middle of the collar. Check in the mirror to see how it sits on your neck/chest. Sew a few stitches so they (the two segments) are kept in position. Finish off with a bead.
*I've used a bright yellow bead to give it a little extra cute umpf BUT you can leave it plain or use a button instead...



Step 5:
Sew on the ribbon to the reverse of the collar on both outer edges of your collar. This is your fastening.
Note: I've dabbed a bit of fabric glue on the edge of the ribbon to stop it from fraying but you can use metal chain, chunky plastic chain or even a leather thong with a lobster claw fastener.
(Also see the post make notes on the print out pattern!)


Step 6:
Tie around your neck and wear it like a fruit loving chicka!
I would have gone for the whole Carmen d'Miranda look but I'm saving that for summer...
Hum, what about a fruity head piece for our next tutorial? Now there's a great idea!



P.S. And you don't have to stop there, you can adapt this tutorial to make many fruity based collars! So think of any fruit which can be segmented like:
Apples, pears, lemons, oranges or even a couple of mini bananas would look awesome so just go for it.
Now you're set to make fun accessories which are totally Tutti Frutti!

Share your creations with us on twitter, tag us (@craftguerrilla) and post with the hashtag #CraftLovers and we'll re-tweet your amazing handy work!


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hop to it... Easter is just around the corner!

You'll know by now that I'm not a girlie-girl kind of girl so when I think of Easter and the Easter bunny my version has to be that of a black furred bad boy with a basket full of jewelled like eggs made of chocolate... very, very dark chocolate!




So for my first Easter tutorial I thought about making some ears... and yes, you guessed it they are black, though shock horror there is also pink glitter too!

Ha, OK so maybe I'm not that much of an anti-girlie girl after all but hey you can make your very own alternative bunny ears too by following my easy tutorial with your choice of colours.
Yes, pink glitter is optional!
Though I think a flash of colour is always great -it adds just the right amount of style!- having a solely black pair with black glitter will also look amazing!


This is what you'll need to make bunny ears just like mine:
Paper for pattern (for the ears)
black & pink felt
PVA or fabric glue
double sided sticky tape
glitter glue
fabric tape or ribbon
scissors
hair band
black thread, pins & a sewing needle



Step 1:
Add a section of double sided sticky tale to both ends of your hair band.
 Note: you can also add some to the middle for extra security....



Take some black ribbon or fabric tape and begin by folding over the base then wrapping over at a slight angle...




Continue to wrap the hair band completely until you've reached the other end...



You'll find that you might have to add an extra bit of tape or a dab of glue when you've reached the end. Fold over the tape to achieve a really nice and neat finish.


Step 2: 
Draw and Cut a bunny ear shape on some paper, then pin onto the black felt. Cut 2 shapes.
Cut 2 smaller shapes in pink - you can use a different colour! This will be the inside of your bunny ear.



Step 3:
Use some PVA or fabric glue and paste the back of the pink felt. Press firmly onto the black felt. Leave to dry for a bit.
Note: You can machine sew it on instead if you don't want to use glue. 



Step 4:
Take some glitter glue and generously cover the pink felt. Allow to dry completely.


Step 5:
Dab a tiny bit of glue on middle of the base of the pink felt and gently fold it inwards so it gives the ear a more natural shape.

Step 6:
Place a strip of double sided sticky tape on the base of the inside edge of the black felt ear shape.







Step 7:
Fold the base with the sticky tape over the hair band. Press tightly but gently so to glue it into place.



Step 8:
Sew the pinched area together to keep it together and also the base of the felt to the hair band.



Step 9:
You might want to give them a little jiggle on the back and sew a few stitches so they sit properly on the hair band...



And hey presto....

That's it!






Wear your Hare Band with pride, like a rockin' Easter Bunny!!!



X

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Cut Out + Keep: Around the USA in 50 craft projects!

I had the privilege to meet Cat and Tom a while ago on the London craft scene. What struck me straight away was their amazing love not just for each other but also for the whole hand made movement!




This young couple is the driving force behind the on-line community Cut out + Keep and their immense talent and energy has made it a huge success not just with UK audiences but globally too!
Cat Morley started Cut Out + Keep as her craft blog while still at university.
In 2007, with her partner Tom Waddington, she turned the blog into a community website.
Their website receives a million visitors a month and now keeps them both busy full time.
I'm a huge fan of their web site so hearing the news that they had written a book filled me with great excitement!


Cat and Tom...  cute as a button and super talented too!
"Cut Out + Keep: Around the USA in 50 Craft Projects" is a more then just a craft tutorial book though... it's also a nifty travel guide and we absolutely loved reading it! 
Inspired by the extraordinary history and culture of this enormous and interesting country Cat and Tom created a selection of step-by-step projects which showcase the singularity of each state. There are also tons of recommendations of quirky places to visit too, plus plenty of photographs which add a lovely personal touch. You really get the sense that these two had a great time exploring and coming up with their project ideas. 

The USA divided in to easy to digest sections...





But it's not simply a diary of their hand made road trip through the States but also a great insight on their fun loving and warm personalities... plus the projects are easily achieved by anyone due to the clear and concise instructions.

The projects cover a full range of craft disciplines from knitting, jewellery making, paper crafting to even some Kitsch Americana inspired food recipes like the UFO cake pops. 
I can just imagine them camping out in Roswell holding a tray of welcoming treats waiting for our extra terrestrial friends to land!

Roswell inspired cake pops... just one of the quirky projects you can make too!

The premise of this book is pretty much my perfect idea of a great American adventure story!
It's Jack Kerouac meets Martha Stewart and if you were thinking of going on a great crafty adventure then this book will be an awesome companion!
I'm so proud of them and what they achieved here... and I love that they had such an amazing adventure.
They truly are an inspiring pair and I hope they continue offering such great projects like this book. Maybe on the next trip they can bring me along... I'd be a great roadie!


Are we back in Kansas Toto? Cute Dorothy shoe tutorial... I really have to try this one!


I love the personal touches... the tourist snaps and the intros to each section... it's pretty much like we were there with Cat and Tom!

"Around the USA in 50 projects" is a Laurence King title, published in February 2015.
You can buy it here! 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Guerrilla Bars, food for busy crafters on the go!!!

OK so how much fun would life be if we couldn't sometimes enjoy a little bit of what's "bad" for us?
Not very, hence why I added some chocolate to this otherwise very healthy recipe.
Well chocolate, especially dark chocolate, isn't really bad for you but if you add milk or white chocolate then you are adding extra sugars so that's what makes it "not so healthy" but we truly believe that a little bit of what's bad for you can also be good for you!

To make these Guerrilla Bars you'll need a few ingredients which you may have already in your pantry because of course fighting the war on tat is hard work so I'm sure you're larder is well stocked with edible ammo!
We know you need lots of energy to carry out your amazing tasks so we've used ingredients which are known for their slow release energy properties but also feel free to add your own twist to our recipe and... we're sure you'll love these as they'll keep you sustained during your crafty endeavours.
Enjoy craft lovers!

*For example you can add other ingredients like:
dried cranberries, dessicated coconut, raisins, other dried fruits or nuts of your choice, chocolate nibs (another super food) plus an extra yummy addition is to forgo the seed topping but instead add a layer of chocolate ganache. Ha, that's quite delicious but as you can see from our photos we've been good!!!



To make our Guerrilla bars you'll need...




  • 100 g  unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 50 g light brown sugar - note: feel free to cut back on the sugar and add less if you want a super healthy bar! Maybe add some naturally sweet fruit instead...
  • 3 tbsp clear honey *for vegans use dandelion syrup or golden syrup
  • grated zest of 1 orange 
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 100 g dried stoned dates, chopped
  • 40 g walnut pieces
  • 40g chopped almonds
  • 250g porridge oats
  • 2 TBS hemp seeds
  • generous handful of dark chocolate chips- or push the boat out and add a mix of milk and white chocolate chips if you're feeling super naughty!
  • 30 g black sesame seed (for topping) or any seeds you like - pumpkin, sunflower, etc.
 
Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF // gas mark 4). Lightly grease a shallow non-stick baking tin. I've used a 20 cm (8 in) square tin.
  2. Place the butter, oil, sugar, honey, and orange zest and juice in a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dates, almonds, walnuts and hemp seeds. Then stir in the oats, making sure they are evenly coated with the butter mixture. 
  4. Leave to cool slightly and gently mix in the chocolate chips.
  5. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down firmly and evenly. 
  6. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds (or your seeds of choice) over the top and press down again so they are slightly embedded in the surface.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until deep golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin, then mark out 16 pieces on the top surface with a sharp knife. Once cooled completely and still in the tin cut along the marked lines.

NOTE: Don't be tempted to cut while still hot as it will crumble! Believe me I know through greedy experience!
You can keep these beauties for up to a week in an airtight container... though I doubt they'll make it past a day or so. I bet they'll be eaten before you can finish your yarn bombing!!!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Beyond the wood shed at the bottom of the garden...

Out this February,  Shed Decor by Sally Coulthard is the latest inspirational title from Jacqui Small Publishing Group.




To say that Sheds are solely the domain of men folk, spiders and broken lawn mowers would be an outdated statement.
No longer are they the final resting place of rusty old tools, musty damp wood or simply a space to find solace, sheds have now become stylish and usable extension of the home!


The love of sheds is something we in the UK are no strangers to but with the help of this amazing book you can have an outdoor space which will be the envy of all your friends and neighbours, plus it can give you an awesome extra living space you and the whole family can enjoy!
Whether you choose to use it as a guest bed room, a kid's play room, office or even a sewing/ craft room - Ha, would you have guessed that was my favourite idea?- you know that you'll be able to achieve greatness with this book there by your side to guide you.

I love the way the book is sectioned into chapters from a range of styles, case studies, essentials featuring products, resources and a large but comprehensive directory.
And the photography is pretty cool too. There's a nice, cozy and friendly style to it. Even the more "minimalist" sheds look inviting and achievable. After drooling pouring through the book I realised that I actually could do with having a collection of sheds and not just the one as they are all just too beautiful! How can I choose just one style? But there's the beauty of this book... it does offer a great selection but it also helps focus your own interior design preferences through valuable and realistic advice and case studies... and that is really helpful!
There's also a nice chapter with handy tips on using lighting, up-cycling & choosing furniture, walls, floors and textiles so making your shed into a palace will be an easy task!!!


Sally Coulthard is the amazing author behind this book. She has written extensively about characterful homes and is a contributor to quite a few publications including Country Living Magazine and BBC Good Homes. 

A dab hand at using salvaged materials, she has a cool and eclectic eye and her natural talent at matching diverse elements is evident as she confidently adds personality to small spaces.
I've been so inspired by this book that I'm actually thinking of ditching city life and moving to the country to live in a shed! OK maybe not. I'm sure I could just get a flat with a garden with a shed which will mean I can finally have a craft hut! You see... I am after all a city dweller and sheds are the perfect solution for adding valuable space in urban settings.

So if you'd like to join me in the shed revolution changing sad wooden slated boxes into beautiful dwellings then the first step would be to get your peepers wrapped around this awesome book...
it's fab and it really does leave you with the sense that creating a gorgeous shed is easy! Especially with such great inspirational help...






For our blog readers and fellow shed lovers there's a special discount just for you lot!
Order using this code to receive your discount:

To order Shed Decor at the discounted price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG285. 
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.