A Logstore Made from an Old Shed

Last Spring I dismantled the old garden shed I had inherited when I bought the house.  The roof and floor were completely rotten but the side that was closest to the neighbour’s fence had been sheltered from the elements and some of the wood was still in usable condition.  I stacked it at the bottom of the garden and set to renovating the house.

As part of my mission to live a more sustainable life I had a wood burning stove installed in September.  I stacked my wood supply on an old kitchen door and used the old shed door to keep the rain off as best I could, with some waterproof sheeting at the edges and in the gaps which were exposed.  The downside to this was that some of the wood got soggy and mildewed as the air could not circulate properly.

make a logstore from an old shed
My Logstore Homemade from an Old Shed

This Spring, while tidying up the bottom of my garden, I came up with the idea of upcyling the old shed and building a logstore with the saved wood.  After looking at a youtube video, I realised that the door, sawn in half across the middle, would make the perfect base.  I removed the slats and cut some of the old side posts to length to create a grid for the wood to lie across and to allow the air to come in from underneath.  I also added a couple of pieces of post at right angles at each corner under the frame, so that it is standing another 3″ higher off the ground to help keep the wood dry. Then I made frames for the side panels from other posts, while reusing the wooden slats on both the side panels and across the back.  The other half of the door was used for the roof.  I left the slats on this to keep the rain out, but cut the front posts down in height and set the door directly on the front cross spar so that the roof is slightly pitched and the rain can run off.

Reusing the old door frame has made the log store really sturdy.  Let’s hope that by the time the autumn arrives I will have managed to acquire a stock of wood and that it will be dry enough to burn!  If you are a seasoned wood burner and have some great tips, please leave your comments below to share with others starting out on the journey of working with nature.  Have you ever made anything from an old shed?

My Eco Home

My new home is a project and a half:  An older, 17th century stone cottage in need of a lot of TLC.  It stood empty for about a year and had been seriously neglected prior to that. The cobwebs would have made Miss Haversham green with envy.  It does have great potential, though, and I am busy renovating with a view to creating  a quirky yet stylish living space and at the same time a healthy home.

One big attraction to the property in spite of it’s rundown state, is the fact that it predates the use of modern, building materials.  I am a great lover of green low impact living and this enables me to keep my carbon footprint low and the amount of chemicals in the home to an absolute minimum by using eco-friendly organic lime based natural paint and plaster to repair and update. Auro natural paints, decorating and finishing products are fantastic and easy to order online, with fast delivery.

By using natural materials I aim to keep embedded energy values as low as possible.  Stripped back style is one that really appeals to me, with elements of ‘industrial’ thrown in, and Country Living’s Special Edition Modern Rustic Magazine, Issue 2, has been one of my sources of inspiration.

Where to start? Using the Permaculture principles enabled me to come out of overwhelm and start to take some action. Principle 9, Small and Slow Solutions, was my starting point: moving in and making gradual changes would enable me to keep costs to a minimum as I had been living in rented accommodation while looking for a project. It didn’t take long to decide that the 80’s style gas fire needed to go, to be replaced by a traditional log burner.

log burner in gunmetal grey
Log Burner in Gunmetal Grey

Continue reading “My Eco Home”

How to Make a Simple Shopping Bag

Grey striped ticking shopping bag
Sytlish Shopping Bag in Grey Striped Ticking

Whether you are just starting out and learning to sew or just love making things with fabric, making a simple bag is a fun way to spend a wet afternoon.

Unless your lifestyle is totally Zen you are bound to have something around the house that lends itself to recycling or more correctly, upcycling.  Tea towels for example are excellent, or old pillow cases, sheets or duvet covers, as long as the fabric is strong and still in good order.  Old cushion covers can also be good candidates.  We’ve used old jeans, too.

To make a tote bag 17″ deep x 15″ wide (43 x 38cm), you will need:

2 pieces of fabric 18″ x 16″ (46 x 40cm), this includes seam allowance

2 long strips of fabric for straps, 20″ (51cm) long x 3 1/2″ (9cm) wide

Sewing cotton

Grey Striped Ticking for Shopping Bag
Edge the Grey Striped Ticking pieces and pin together

Begin by edging the two pieces of fabric if it is likely to fray, either with a zigzag stitch or an overlock stitch if your machine has one.  Pin the two pieces right sides together.  Sew down the sides and across the bottom, leaving top edges open.

Side seams for Grey Striped Ticking Shopping Bag
Press seams open

Press seams open.  We’ve used Grey Striped Ticking for the front of the bag and a plain white canvas for the back.

Bottom corner edge for grey striped ticking shopping bag
Pin the seams together

In each of the corners match the side seam with the bottom seam creating a point.  Pin in place.

Stitch securely across the corner at right angles   Cut off excess fabric and seal edges.  This gives the bag a greater carrying capacity as it will accommodate larger items more easily

Top edge of grey striped ticking shopping bag
Fold in 1″, press and sew

At the top of the bag, turn 1″ to the inside, press and stitch into place, about 1/2″ from the edge

Making the straps for Grey Striped Ticking shopping bag
Fold in the rough edges and press, then fold together and pin, then sew in place

Make straps.  Fold in 1″ along the whole length of the long edge and press. Repeat this for the other side, leaving a small gap in the middle so there is no overlap when the two sides are folded together. Fold, press again, pin and sew in place.  Oversew ends or press under 1/2″ to get a clean edge.

Straps for grey striped ticking shopping bag
Adding the straps  to the Shopping Bag

Measure 4 1/2″ in from the side seam and mark either with a pin or chalk.  Place one end of the strap alongside the pin or chalk mark or as close to this measurement as possible matching stripes as shown, and pin.  Repeat for all four straps. Stitch straps to bag with either a box or multiple rows of stitching to make sure the straps are strongly secured.

Press bag to finish.

The possibilities are endless, just let your creativity flow.  Some suggestions:

  • Add you own designs to the front panel, eg embroidery, hand-painted designs, applique, patch pocket from an old pair of jeans, buttons, beads, iron on patches.  It’s easier to do this before making up the bag, so plan your design first if you can. Choose a modern stripe, or if you’re a fan of shabby chic or boho chic go for it.
  • Make the bag bigger or smaller.  You can make it long and narrow, or make the bottom corner sections bigger so the bag becomes wider.
  • The straps can be made narrower or wider, or you can use twisted cord, leather straps, or wooden hoops.
  • If you want to use up lots of small pieces of fabric you can create a patchwork panel in the desired size with a plain back, or use patchwork for both.  Straps can also be made of multiple pieces as long as they are securely stitched and not too bulky.
  • For thinner fabrics you might need to use either double thickness or stitch the lighter fabric to a lining fabric, or you could use iron on vilene to get a firmer result.

Crafting is fun, and carrying your own bag is so much nicer than carrying some brand name around on your arm.  Your bag will last much longer than a plastic bag and will be washable and eco-friendly, too.  Advertise your own creativity, you never know someone might ask you to make one for them, and they make great presents.

Boot fairs can be good places to find odd pieces of fabric or check if your local church or scout troup are planning a garage sale.  You can find patchwork packs in our eBay shop or go to www.designercushionsandthrows.co.uk where we will soon be selling organic linen, cotton and hemp if you want to become more green.

Send in your photos and we can vote for the most creative.

Make a Rag Rug

Rustich Shabby Chic Patchwork Wool Crewel Rug
Rustic Shabby Chic Patchwork Wool Crewel Rug

A while ago I came into possession  of an ex-display hanger of samples of wool crewel fabric in a range of 5 different colourways.  I considered upcycling one piece into a bag, but the heavyweight wool embroidery meant that the cloth was very bulky in places.  Then I remembered a piece of hessian that had been lying at the bottom of a basket for a while.  And an idea was born for a rug and an eco-friendly project.  Here’s how.

First of all make a template  5” x 5” and then cut the fabric up into squares. Alternatively, choose a size that will mean you can cut the maximum amount of squares out across the width of the cloth you have available.  If you have one, use an overlocker to stop the edges from fraying.  If you don’t have a machine, it is not too serious if the fabric you are going to use does not fray too badly as you will be sewing on a backing to give the rug more substance and durability.

Begin by arranging the squares in such a way that the colours and shapes are well distributed across the whole area of the rug giving it some form of cohesion.  When you are satisfied with the layout, begin sewing the squares together a row at a time.  Press all the seams open  in each row either as  you go or all together at the end.  Then begin joining the rows together, matching the seams carefully by placing pins at a vertical angle into the seams so that they stay well matched up and can’t slip or move while sewing together.

Adding a layer of batting
Candlewick bedspread as batting

Next some batting  –  I used part of an old candlewick bedspread.  You could use batting, or curtain interlining, or an old blanket.

Basting the patchwork and batting together
Basting the patchwork and batting together

Baste (or tack) the backing carefully to the patchwork taking care that all the seams remain open.

Stitching the hessian backing in place
Stitching the hessian backing in place

Pin a piece of hessian to the batting side of the work and then baste all three layers together.  Trim off any excess hessian at the edges.   Secure the hessian to the patchwork and batting by sewing through all layers in a large stitch.  You can either sew in straight lines top to bottom or left to right sewing between the joins (stitch in the ditch)  or you can zig zag across.  Ideally start from the centre and work out to the top and bottom  and sides always taking care that there are no folds and smoothing the base fabric (hessian) regularly as necessary.

Bind edges with heavy duty fabric tape or strips of fabric precut to fit, cutting pieces to fit two opposite sides first and once these are in place measuring across the whole width including the border to get the final length for the two remaining side, plus about 1” extra to turn under for a neat edge.

Binding the edges
Bindng the edges

Creating a patchwork is quite a fast way to make a rug and means there are no raw edges which works better for fabrics that fray easily, or that are very soft.  It also great if you’ve got natural fabrics and helps create a healthy home and contributes to low impact living.

Please do share any ideas you have or improvements to the technique above.  It would be lovely to start a discussion and sharing platform for creative ideas and projects.

To read about the Wonders of Wool go to www.designercushionsandthrows.co.uk/blog_page