Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A Super Dooper Supermarket Challenge


A couple of weeks ago, I had cause to visit our local supermarket in an effort to find a 'pleasingly warm' duvet for our daughter in her new, small double, I'm-too-cool-for-school bed in her new, look-at-me attic room.  The attic is a good couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the house during the colder months, so I plumped for a 13.5 tog one, assuming it would keep her toasty and cosy on cold, early spring nights such as these.  However, after two nights of broken sleep interrupted by the Girl coming downstairs with her hair plastered to her head and PJs sticking to her body, I decided a slightly lighter quilt might be the order of the day.

I had assumed (wrongly) that finding a 10.5 tog duvet would be a walk in the park - after all, every supermarket sell duvets. Well, yes they do. But not 10.5 tog ones in early spring, it would seem. Which is why I found myself with 10 minutes on my hands as one of the supermarket assistants in the vomit green outfits (you know where I am now, right?), bless her, ferreted away in the storeroom trying in vain to find a 10.5 tog duvet for me.

Whilst waiting I decided to have a quick wander around the homes section of said supermarket, and as I browsed I found myself, as often happens, looking at various items for sale, marvelling that people would pay some of the prices when they could get something similar at the Cancer Research shop up the road for a quarter of the cost, but also looking at some items and wondering what I could do with them to make them better or different.  Could I customise them?  Could they be used for a purpose other than that which they were produced for?

And it got me thinking (it's never good to have too much time to think. But I blame the supermarket for not stocking 10.5 tog duvets in early spring). I suspect that those who are new to, or unfamiliar with, crafting wrongly assume that in order to make something - be it sewing, papercraft or whatever - you must have the all the right tools, fabrics bought especially to be used for the purpose of crafting, or specialist paper.  In reality, however, some of the best crafts and craft projects are borne of having a scrap of material lying around, or some beautiful wrapping paper, and making it into something completely different.  Thinking outside the crafting box I suppose.  Equally, sometimes the assumption is that you need to spend a lot of money on materials when in fact (I hope I've proved in previous posts) craft projects can be completed for just a few pennies and a little imagination.

Anyway, I digress.  As I was walking around the supermarket I came up with an idea - to take photos of items on sale in the store, and suggest ways that you can make something completely different with them.  So here we go: the Comfy Marmalade Super Dooper Supermarket Challenge!

TEA TOWELS
A tea towel is a tea towel is a tea towel, right? Well, not necessarily. I found these lovely tea towels for £4 for 3, which I thought was pretty good value.




For me, however, they're too lovely to use to dry dishes. In fact I've never understood why tea towels are usually insipid, pale colours, as they show off the staining and ingrained dirt far too easily.  Cotton tea towels are great for craft projects, and these particular ones would be amazing as cushion covers.  They're ideal as they're hemmed all the way around, which means you don't have to hem your material during the making of the cushion cover.  Here's what you do:

Lie the tea towel facing up. Take one short side and bring it to the middle of the towel, about 5cm further than the centre. Take the other short side and bring it to the middle as well, overlapping the one you've just placed by around 10cm. Pin along the two outer edges of the towel and sew them (ideally using a sewing machine, but if you don't have one just hand sew it). You want to sew in as straight a line as possible, as close to the hemmed edges of the towel as you can. Once you've done this, turn the tea towel inside out.  You now have a cushion cover! If you can't find a cushion to fit, buy a mega-cheap sheet, cut it to size with a 1cm seam, sew all around it leaving a gap for stuffing, turn it right side out and then stuff it with toy stuffing or stuffing from another cushion. Sew up the gap and pop it into your new cushion cover.




Here's one I made a year or so ago from a MissPrint tea towel I bought online - the buttons are decorative by the way.




PICTURE FRAMES
You can pick up picture frames really cheaply in lots of supermarkets and larger stores, and pound stores and charity shops too. I choose the ones that are wooden and plain - no bevels or ridges.  A lovely way of personalising frames - and a great way of getting the kids involved in your crafts - is to decoupage them. Decoupage is the art or craft of decorating objects with paper cut-outs.  It's cheap and cheerful, sometimes messy but always good fun.

All you need is some scraps of paper and some PVA glue (the lovely stuff you can paint on your fingers and pull off when it's dry!). I usually use books bought for next to nothing from charity shops, or pages from free in-store magazines.  Look for colourful images, big words, eye-catching illustrations - all will work well.  Tear the pages, don't cut them, as it gives a softer finish.  Working on a bit of the frame at a time, cover the frame with a layer of glue and then randomly stick on the paper, covering it with a coat of glue as you go.  It needs to be as haphazard as possible - layer the images over each other, fill in the spaces with more pieces and, when you're done, leave it to dry.  Once dry, give it a couple of extra coats of the glue, which acts as a varnish / sealant.  Now you can put a lovely picture of the kids in the frame, or draw a picture or cross-stitch something and pop it in for a relative.

Here’s a mirror frame I decoupaged for the Boy when he was little - see if you can recognise the theme…


Yup, Charlie & Lola, still one of our favourite ever children's programmes.


And here's a frame the Girl made when she was really little for her Daddy - she did the picture inside too, and it's been on display ever since as her Daddy can't bear to let it out of his sight!



COOKIE CUTTERS
They come in all shapes, designs and sizes, and can be used in a variety of crafty ways. 



Take a wooden coat hanger, attach a length of sewing thread or invisible thread to each cutter and then attach it to the hanger, to make a lovely mobile for a child.  The metal cutters shine beautifully when placed next to a light, and the plastic ones look really retro and colourful. Or, in a similar fashion, make some 3D bunting to hang in a kids' room. Better still, get some cheap LED fairy lights, attach one to the reverse of each of the metallic cutters at the top using clear tape, and you've got some unique and atmospheric lighting.


Here are some other ideas for alternate uses for common-or-garden items that can be found in supermarkets:


Wooden clothes pegs
Take an old picture frame (the larger the better); discard the glass and backing. Stretch a length of string or ribbon to the reverse of the frame, securing it with glue or strong tape. Stretch it as tight as you can. Pop the clothes pegs randomly on to the string and use them to hang children's pictures or favourite photographs to them. You could paint the pegs in funky colours too.



Wrapping paper
Has all manner of uses - back exercise books with it, use it to make paper stars as per my instructions in a previous post (see here for more details), use it for decoupage… the possibilities are endless.



I also buy the paper gift bags if I see any with a funky design - I use them as a mount for photos in frames - it makes a change from the dull cream coloured ones and works especially well with black and white photos or simple prints. These two are particularly gorgeous...


Wooden mug tree
Paint it, varnish it and use it to hold keys, necklaces, trinkets in a kids room etc.




Old tins and packaging
These make wonderful craft materials for children. We have a trug of empty packaging that we add to and keep for when we get the crafting bug, or for when homework calls for a model or some creativity.  Do make sure that any tin edges are smooth though, and use the ones with the 'ring pull' type lids. I showed you these planters I made last time - they're just wrapped in offcuts of paper but they look so lovely. I think each tin contained spaghetti hoops and cost 29p!




Toothbrush holders
Use for storing pens in kids rooms and on your desk.




Glow sticks
I haven't found anything to make with them, but they make fantastic toys in the bath, especially on darker winter evenings. Crack the sticks, throw them in the bath and turn the lights off - the kids love them. Pop some music on, chuck in some bubble bath and you've got a party!




Crockery
Supermarkets tend to sell crockery in individual pieces, rather than as a set.  Some are really pretty and can be utilised to hold jewellery and trinkets, keys etc. I use this one (which you can still buy in Tesco) to hold my collection of rings.


Paper party cups
When teamed with some inexpensive LED fairy lights, these make a fantastic display. Health and Safety disclaimer: make sure you use LED lights that don't heat up. Also, choose paper cups with a design that will work if the cup is hanging upside down. Pierce a small hole in the bottom of each cup, in the centre. Poke an LED bulb in the hole, and hang.  These look fantastic in a child's room, or at a party.




Paper party plates
You can make a brilliant hanging ball with a pack of paper plates and a stapler. Honest. Take a look at this paper plate ball over at Cook and Craft Me Crazy You could use colourful plates, plain white, or get the kids to colour or paint some before you staple.


So the next time you're waiting on a member of staff to find you a 10.5 tog duvet, take a wander around the store, flick your creative switch and see if you can come up with some crafty ideas for everyday items. And if you have any ideas already, do let me know about them.

Bye for now xx

PS: apologies for the photo quality in some of these pictures. Trying to surreptitiously take photos in a supermarket ain't easy.
PPS: this post and blog are not sponsored in any way, shape or form by the supermarkets mentioned or detailed in this post - they just happen to be our nearest stores! 


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