Making a sequin necklace

A while ago I saw this tutorial on Pinterest for making a sequin bangle. I really liked the look of all those sequins stacked up together and thought I’d try making a necklace using the same technique! Here is what I made:

sequin necklace DIY

I’m not going to post a detailed how-to here since I used very basic jewellery making techniques to make my necklaces, but do let me know if you want one!

The original blog post used cup sequins strung onto wire and shaped into a bangle shape. I didn’t realise she used cup sequins until after I had bought a load of flat sequins! (very cheap from a shop in Sham Shui Po) Oops. I think that the cup sequins stack together better than the flat sequins, but I still like the look that I managed to achieve.

mint green and white sequin necklace

Another difference to the original tutorial is that I strung the sequins on flexible multi-strand beading wire, rather than standard wire, to allow the necklace to drape well. I started out by stringing the sequins one at a time (VERY slow!) but quickly got bored. I realised that a much quicker way was to stack a bunch of sequins between my forefinger and thumb and then roll them gently to line them all up so you can then just thread your wire through the middle.

I was originally thinking of putting a bead on each end of my sequin string, but then I thought that a spiral copper cone would be quite fun! I’ve not made one before but I’ve seen various tutorials that use a pencil tip to create the cone shape. I wasn’t sure whether to start my cone at the tip or the bottom but I found it easier to make the cone shape from the tip down, by using pliers to hold the end of the wire cone against the tip of the mechanical pencil I was using. I had a few goes, and used the best two on my necklace. I have to admit that it’s very difficult to make a nice even, tightly curled cone! It’s certainly made me realise how much work I’m going to have to put in if I want to be really good at wire work…

sequin necklace with copper wire cones

One thing to note is that the base of the cone is slightly angled because there is a wire sticking out, and this makes your cone angled against the sequins. Maybe you could trim the end of the wire on your cone at an angle to reduce this.

Also, your cone won’t naturally stay central because it has a big open end. To get around this you could either make the end of the cone slightly bigger than your sequins, so the cone fits over the end of your sequin string, or thread a small bead onto your beading wire before you thread the cone on so that the bead fits inside your cone (and is hidden). I did mine the second way, using a large seed bead.

I was really pleased with how the cones look on the necklace!

silver and copper stacked sequin necklace

Anyway, I was having so much fun that I made another sequin necklace! This time I strung my sequins onto a short, straight piece of 0.6mm (22ga) wire.

mini stack sequin necklace

Again, I wanted to do something with each end of the sequin stack. This time I made a little flat copper wire spiral, which was actually really easy to do. Just make a small loop with some round nose pliers, and then continue winding your wire around the loop, holding the spiral flat with pliers as you go.

sequin necklace with copper wire spiral

I finished off each end of the wire with a wire-wrapped loop, threading the loop through the end of a piece of chain before wrapping the wire round. Again, because the wire wrapped loop finishes with a piece of wire sticking out, it makes the end of the sequins slightly angled. You could trim the end of the wire at an angle to minimise this, although it would be quite fiddly.

I think I prefer the other necklace, but the little cylinder-type pendant is quite nice!

green and white sequin stack pendant

What do you think? Do you have a favourite? Do you like the look of the stacked sequins? Do let me know if you have a go at this yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Paper strip heart garland

After making a garland of 30’s for my husband’s birthday last year (mentioned here) and then a 3D paper star Christmas garland, I really wanted to make another garland which could stay up in our apartment all year round! I saw some beautiful paper strip heart garlands on Pinterest (such as from here) and decided that was exactly what I wanted to do myself. I’ve seen them made from books, comics or maps, but I used some plain and patterned paper that I already had.

paper strip heart garland

Aren’t they pretty?!

To make this, all you will need is some paper, a ruler and a pencil to mark your strip widths, scissors or a cutting knife to cut your paper into strips, and a stapler. You could use paper strips instead of sheets of paper to make this a very quick craft.

Firstly, I cut my paper into strips 1″ wide and then I had to choose the length. I had seen some hearts which used 4″, 6″ and 8″ length strips but I felt like that made the insides too small. So I made a trial heart with 5″, 6.5″ and 8″ length strips. I quite liked it but I wanted bigger hearts as they were going to hang from the ceiling.

This is the trial heart:

yellow paper heart

To make my heart bigger, I used 6″, 8″ and 10″ length strips instead. You need 2 strips of each length for one heart. I used plain coloured paper with some scrapbook patterned paper for the inside of the hearts. I thought that the plain paper might look a bit boring so I drew a pattern on the outside strips with a white pen. I cut my strips from A4 paper, and the cut-off from the 8″ strip was just the right length for a hanging piece! (it was something like 3″ in length)

paper strips for heart garland

Once your strips are ready, all you have to do is to line up the ends of the strips and staple them together, and then bring the free ends round to make the heart shape and line up those ends together and staple them together too. A word of warning: if your paper is only patterned on one side, check very carefully which way round the strips are before stapling. I had to take apart at least 2 hearts and re-do them because I got this wrong!

I also punched a small hole in the hanging piece to hang it on some ribbon. And there you are, a finished heart!

scrapbook paper heart

paper strip heart

Of course, I wanted a garland so I didn’t stop at one… (I made 10 in the end)

coloured paper hearts

pretty pastel hearts

And here is the garland all hung up :)

pastel colours paper strip garland

heart garland hanging

green blue yellow paper hearts

I’m really pleased with it, and it was so easy to make. If you already had paper strips ready to use and you didn’t decorate them by hand, you could whip up a long garland in half an hour! Let me know if you have a go at one yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Easy home-made baby toys

There are so many baby toys in the shops, but as any mum will realise, babies are often more interested in the packaging or random kitchen implement that you’ve left lying around! You can channel this by making some of your own baby toys from things you might have lying around your house, or if not, easy and cheap to find in the shops (if I can find it in Hong Kong, then it can’t be that hard to come by!). There are so many ideas for making baby toys online – you can scour Pinterest or google to find them. I can’t remember where most of my ideas came from, but I’ve included references where I do know.

Here are some things that I’ve made for my own children. I hope you find inspiration to find some things to entertain your own babies with! (or you could make some for other babies that you know…)

Hanging toys

These were the first things that I made, and they comprised woolly pompoms and balls of tin foil.

I made some pompoms before the twins were born and blogged about how to do so here, and I hung these from their activity centre for them to bat at (note: these come apart pretty easily so keep them out of grabbing distance – mine are now almost completely demolished!).

The tin foil balls were the ones that caught their eye the most though, they took quite a bashing! I just scrunched up a large piece of foil into a ball and wrapped some string around it to hang it with. The foil balls did fall out of the string sometimes so you might want to try other ways of attaching the string – perhaps you could glue it inside somehow?

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You can see the pompoms and foil in the middle of this photo, although they’re a little blurred. I forget how small the twins were once upon a time!

Discovery bottles

These are so easy to make and my twins still play with them at 15 months. All you need to do is find some plastic bottles and put interesting things inside them. Here are some of the things that I have put inside our discovery bottles:

  • Beads of different sizes and colours (note: my twins didn’t like this when they were really little because it’s actually very noisy when shaken, but they love it now!)
  • Pipe cleaners, some curled into twirls
  • Little pompoms (bought from a stationary store)
  • Coloured rice

Discovery bottles baby toys

The easiest way that I found to make the coloured rice was to squirt a small amount of hand sanitiser into an old margarine tube, mix with a fairly generous amount of food colouring, and add enough rice so that it was all covered and there was no hand sanitiser left at the bottom. You really don’t need much hand sanitiser for this at all.

I got the idea for the discovery bottles here and they have lots of ideas for other things to put in the bottles too! I can’t find the website I used before for the rice colouring, but this one does the same thing.

Glitter bottle

These are everywhere online, they are sometimes called calm bottles or time out bottles. I ended up looking at a few different websites before I made mine so I can’t give a reference, but they’re really easy to make. A little side note: many people make them with mason jars or other glass jars but obviously that wouldn’t work for babies, so I just used a plastic bottle with relatively smooth sides so you can see the glitter easily.

To make mine, I filled the bottle most of the way up with fairly hot tap water. (Note: I tried using hot boiled water from the kettle but it melted the bottle! Do not try this!) Then I squeezed in two small tubes of glitter glue and poured in some additional loose glitter. I also added some CLEAR glue (again, I know by trial and error that white glue does not miraculously go clear in warm water and you end up with a foggy mess!) which slows the movement of the glitter in the bottle – the more glue you add, the slower the glitter settles. And finally, I added some food colouring.

The reason the water needs to be hot(ish) is to break up the glitter glue. I found that it clumped a bit to start with but after a couple of hours there were no more clumps even though my water wasn’t that hot to start with. If you’re not using glitter glue, you can just use clear glue and loose glitter, and you then don’t need to use hot water, it can be cold.

Here is my green glitter beauty!

Green glitter bottle

And here it is when the glitter has settled…

Glitter settled glitter bottle

I made mine in a fairly large 750ml bottle, which makes it quite heavy for the twins to lift and carry (although they still do) – I’d recommend using a smaller bottle, less than 500ml if possible, if you’re giving this to babies to play with.

Buttons

These were a big hit! I just bought large buttons (as big as I could find) in different colours from a button shop in Sham Shui Po (THE place to buy all things haberdashery in Hong Kong). The twins loved to play with them, bang them together and against anything else, drop them so they made a spinning noise on the floor (like a coin does), or watch while I spun them. It was fun trying to make as many spin at the same time as possible! Sadly, these had to go away when the twins got bigger because their mouths grew enough that they could fit the whole button in their mouths and would walk around like that! I hope they’ll come out again soon when they stop putting everything in their mouths.

Big buttons as toys

I got the idea for the buttons from one of the Babycentre emails, which features activities to do with your babies every week.

Ribbons

This was a bit of free thinking on my part, but partly based on some props used at a music class I go to with the twins. I had some hair bands lying around and bought some cheap brightly coloured ribbon (again, in Sham Shui Po) and just tied long lengths of ribbon to the hair bands. I tied simple knots in the ends of the ribbons to help stop fraying, but I’ve since bought a lighter which I now use to seal the ends of ribbons. I assumed that I would put the hair bands on their wrists, but they just like waving them around in their hands instead!

Ribbon pom poms

I also tied long lengths of doubled-up ribbons into a plait. I just did it for a fun thing to do, but Isobel quite likes playing with it.

Ribbon plait

Something else that I’ve seen at the same music class is that they sellotaped long lengths of ribbon to the end of a chopstick to make a streamer. I fancy doing this myself!

I’m sure there are many other toys you can make with ribbons, just let your imagination go wild!

Water play tray

I got this idea from this website. They used plastic milk bottle tops but I didn’t have any (for some reason the milk here comes in tetrapaks instead) so I used large jam jar lids instead. Also, I used a large oven tray on the floor rather than the high chair tray. My twins didn’t really get the idea of bashing the lids around the water so they float, but they did enjoy taking them out and trying to eat them. And also splashing the water all over the floor. This activity is best to do on a hard floor rather than carpet! As I said, my twins didn’t really get what was going on, but it did entertain them for 10-20 minutes so that gets a thumbs up in my book :)

Some other things that I’ve wanted to make but haven’t got round to yet…

Baby treasure baskets – basically find a basket or container and put things in that your baby will find interesting. Lots of ideas of what to put in on this website

Sensory bag for baby – looks like fun!

Rainbow spaghetti – colourful sensory play

Post the blocks – my twins are at an age now (15 months) where they just love to put things in things and take them out so I think they would love this. It probably isn’t very suitable for babies under 1 year as they won’t have the co-ordination, but you will know what your baby is and isn’t willing to try

Block painting – I’ve not tried much in the way of ‘art’ yet with my twins but this is something I’d love to try soon! I saw somewhere the idea of using plain yoghurt with food colouring in instead of paint if your baby likes to put everything in their mouths, which I think is a great idea!

Update: I have pinned many more things you can make or do with babies on my Activities for Babies Pinterest board – take a look if you’re looking for more inspiration!

Let me know if you have any other great ideas for easy to make baby toys. I’m sure the ideas must be endless!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

3D paper star Christmas garland

Our Christmas decorations this year are a fairly minimal affair. For a start, we don’t have a tree because the twins would just pull it over and try to eat it! (I’m very much looking forward to the time when they don’t put everything in their mouths) All decorations have to be out of their reach, so we hung some tinsel over the picture frames and we have some baubles hanging from the ceiling. And I decided that what we really needed was a pretty garland! After looking at some of my pins on Pinterest, I decided to go with a garland of 3D paper stars.

3D Christmas paper star garland - Little Koo

I used this tutorial for my stars (mine are a little less blingy than theirs!), and I made my stars from large sheets of fairly heavy plain red and green coloured paper. I wouldn’t say I have much to add to the tutorial, other than the fact that I scored all the folds before folding them because I found it difficult to accurately fold otherwise (although it might be easier with thinner paper).

Papercraft 3D stars - Little Koo

I made my stars as big as I could, which meant the template just fitted onto a sheet of A4 paper. When I was glueing the back pieces together, I thought that I would overlap the two sides as much as possible, but I found this made a very pointy star, and it actually looked better when the sides were about halfway across each other. I used tacky (PVA) glue to stick the back pieces together and held them in place with paper clips while they were drying. N.B. make sure your star is the right way out when you start glueing – I didn’t realise this with the first one I made and ended up with an inverted star!

3D Christmas paper stars - Little Koo

I stamped gold and silver motifs onto the stars before folding them, but you can’t really see it all that well. Oh well!

Stamped 3D stars - Little Koo

I think the 3D shape is quite effective for what is a very simple papercraft, especially when the light is not shining directly onto it so some of the sides are in shadow. What do you think?

Christmas garland - Little Koo

Let me know if you have made any of your own Christmas decorations, I’d love to see them!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Handmade calligraphy Christmas cards

I really wanted to make my own Christmas cards this year. Last year the twins were so young that we had barely any time to prepare for Christmas at all, let alone make cards. In fact, we didn’t even post any cards! This year I was resolved to do better.

I had an idea that it would be pretty quick if I created a calligraphy design that I could repeat easily for each card. I chose to write ‘Merry Christmas’ with a couple of swirls and it took me about an hour to fine tune my design. I’m really not very good at swirls! I see so much beautiful swirly calligraphy, but I just don’t seem to be able to design something similar myself at all. I guess it just takes practice.

Anyway, once I had my design sorted, I created the layout and used my light box to see the layout behind the card blank so I could write on the card. I originally was going to use red and green card blanks but when I placed them on the light box I realised that I couldn’t see the guidelines because the card was too thick! So I had to use white card instead. But I do like the combination of white and gold at the moment so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

I used gold and silver Manuscript italic marker pens and the script is my own – it’s a bit of a hybrid between italic and foundational hand!

Once I was up and running, it didn’t take too long to do the 30 or so cards that I wanted. I was really pleased when I laid them all out together, I think they look great!

 

Metallic calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

Gold and white calligraphy Christmas card - Little Koo

I managed to get them them in the post last week so they’re currently winging their way to the UK. I missed the last guaranteed post by quite some way so I hope they turn up sometime in December!

Did you handmake your cards this year? Please share a photo or a link if so, I’d love to see what you came up with!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

DIY wall display

I’ve been thinking for a while about finding something to hang on our wall which could be used to display cards and things. We used to just put them on the coffee table or TV unit but now the twins grab anything like that as soon as they see it and crumple or chew it all up.

Some friends of ours have got something like this, and I was so pleased when I found it online because every time I see theirs I think about getting one myself! It’s pretty reasonably priced too. But unfortunately the shipping to Hong Kong is over double the price of the item!

So I thought I would make something myself. I also thought I would be a total cheapskate and use things I already had to make it! And this is what I made:

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Having now finished it, I think if I did it again I would do it a little differently, so I’ll give you another method for making something like this at the end of this post.

If you want to make it the way I did, you will need:

  • 4 hooks (mine are hooks with Command strips, since we are only renting this place and can’t put too many holes in the walls)
  • Ribbon
  • Needle and thread
  • Pegs

1. Measure out where you are going to put your hooks. I arranged mine in a 40cm square.

2. Attach the hooks to the wall.

3. Make the outside edge of your frame with the ribbon. I looped the ribbon around each hook and sewed a few little stitches on top of one another where the ribbon overlapped at each corner and then sewed the ends together. Doing the corner stitches was the trickiest bit! It was so hard to keep the ribbon as taut as possible whilst holding the ribbon together to make the stitches.

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4. Mark out where you want your criss-cross ribbons to meet at the frame. I decided to mark out roughly thirds.

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5. Cut the ribbon to the correct lengths and sew in place with a few little stitches on top of each other at the ends and where the ribbons cross. I wrapped the ends of the ribbons around the ribbon frame and sewed through all three layers at once. This should help stop the ends of the ribbon fraying.

When sewing these ribbons in place, be sure to keep everything nice and taut without distorting the overall shape.

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6. Use your pegs to attach your items to display (btw, in this photo, you can also see my wire button heart and birthday candles card).

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Aren’t the pegs great! They are the only thing I actually bought for the project, everything else I already had. I got them from Living Plaza for HK$12 (approx. £1) per pack!

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When I was in the middle of this project (which only took me a couple of hours, by the way) I thought it was going to look really rubbish! I just couldn’t get the ribbon nice and taut. However, I did the best I could with it and I’m actually really pleased with the result.

An alternative way of doing a display like this would be to use a wooden picture frame, or make a wooden frame yourself by nailing wood together. You can then attach the ribbon to the back of the frame using drawing pins (thumb tacks), and put the little stitches where the ribbons cross. This is actually what I did to make an earring display that I use on my stall at craft fairs!

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Let me know if you have a go at your own wall display. It’s a great way to remind you of nice things people have sent or things you’ve been to!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Updated – craft supplies in Hong Kong

A while ago I wrote a post on where to buy craft supplies in Hong Kong, and it’s by far my most popular post! Since then I’ve become aware of a whole load of other great sources of art and crafty goods so I’ve added these to that post and totally updated it.

Take a look if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel