Sunday, 20 March 2016

Hammered Leatherworks - DIY Kit Review

It's March and I've made something... This one was terribly easy but it still totally counts! 

I have been itching to get my hands on one of these DIY Hammered Leatherworks kits for a while now, and found one in my letterbox this month with thanks to the Maker's Mailer.

Hammered Leatherworks DIY Kit Review

Hammered Leatherworks is based in Western Australia and is run by husband and wife team Adam and Bec. They make DIY leather kits which range from the little pouch that I made, to pencil cases, to more intricate purses, wallets and even handbags.

Each kit has four different coloured leather options, and all their leather is sustainably sourced.

Without further ado, here is my unbiased, unpaid and unaffiliated review of the Hammered Leatherworks Leather Hipster Pouch Kit.

The Good

Sustainably and ethically sourced leather, a big tick from me for this.

Free how to videos, along with little tips on the Hammered Leatherworks website. While all the instructions are in the box, it's nice to watch a little video so you can be certain you get it right!

Everything you need is in the box (apart from scissors, but I think everyone has scissors right?)

The finished product is very sweet and durable. (and doesn't look dodgy, even though I'm no 'sewer')

Crafting in the great outdoors... with technology!

The Not So Good

I'm still very much on task with reducing my waste, and unfortunately, the contents of the box came in a plastic bag. It's not over packaged with bits you don't need, just the plastic, oh the plastic.

However I have found when ordering things online from small businesses, they are extremely obliging in packaging things without plastic if you ask, I'm sure Hammered Leatherworks would be just as obliging.

Check out that stitching

Things That Would Have Helped Me

I would have loved the ability or option to personalise it somehow.

I did have some issues trying to watch the videos back on my phone, so perhaps just a few pictures online with a basic 'how to' would've helped me. This would also help people who don't have the plug-in or have issues accessing online videos for one reason or another.

Hey Hip Pouch

All Up

I had fun making the hipster pouch, something a bit different for me. While my input was pretty minimal with this particular kit, I still feel pretty stoked with it. 

I would love to try another more intricate kit, and have heard through the grapevine that they are looking at making kits for mobile phone cases. I'll be first in line for one of those!

You can purchase a Hammered Leatherworks kit directly from their website, they also have a list of stockists, so you can pop on into a store near you and pick one up if you want to get started right away!

Do you have a favourite DIY kit?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Hats for Aleshia

What I think I love most about the handmade community, is the generosity and willingness to support each other, and a good cause.

A few months ago I bid in an auction for a lovely sock doll, made by the incredibly talented (and lovely) Mim from Sew in the Moment. I didn't win the item in question, however I still wanted to support the cause.

Aleshia the Snow Beauty by Sew in the Moment

The cause was #hatsforaleshia. Started by Mel Leggiero from Dainty and Divine. Mel started Hats for Aleshia on the 1st of January 2016, with the goal to raise $1000 for
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) research, she had to quickly readjust this goal after reaching it in just 2 weeks! The new goal is now to raise $5000.

Mel's niece Aleshia was diagnosed with TSC as a baby.

Aleshia (now 7) with Aleshia the Snow Beauty
The winner of the auction then gifted the doll to Aleshia

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, or TSC, is a rare genetic condition, sadly without a cure. TSC causes benign tumours to grow in the brain and on other vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, eyes, lungs and skin. Symptoms include; seizures, developmental delays, behavioural problems, skin abnormalities and kidney disease to name a few.

Mel had been wanting to do something for a while to raise money for research, but didn’t know what. She didn't like simply asking for money, instead she preferred the idea of giving something back, in return for a contribution. 

Some of the hats for #hatsforaleshia

Last winter, Mel made some crochet hats for her daughters (4 and 5) and there was a lot of interest in them. Late last year she had the idea to make hats and charge for them, with 100% of the sales to go to TSC research. Since starting, Mel has been overwhelmed and inspired by the interest and the challenge that has arisen from this fundraiser.

Tags by The Little Card Boutique
She's garnered more support from the handmade community. The Little Card Boutique donated the sweetest bamboo tags for Mel to attach to the hats.

Aleshia is now in grade 2 of Primary School. She is a lovable little girl who loves the Collingwood football club and Captain America. She has a great outlook on life and has an enormous amount of courage and strength. She is Mel's little hero.

The tally for #hatsforaleshia currently stands at 51 hats made and $2100 raised, If you'd like to order a hat, or make a donation, you can contact Mel via Instagram or her website Dainty and Divine. You can also donate directly at the 'Give everything, But up' page (this is where all funds for #hatsforaleshia will be donated)

I have personally ordered some of Mel's hats, and I can tell you first hand, that they are absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Waste free 5th Birthday Party

Felix had originally asked for a superhero party, however, without any prompting from me, decided he'd like a 'Nature Birthday' instead. What followed was a lovely afternoon tea in the backyard, and keeping it waste free, was actually very easy.

A nature birthday cake! Easy

We didn't invite a cast of thousands, this made it easier to begin with. Guests numbered 13 including kids and not including the 5 of us. For those who did attend, along with the (e)invitation, we included a note requesting no waste or low waste gifts along with a brief explanation.

The guests took on the spirit wonderfully. Books and gifts wrapped in newspaper, handmade cloth bags and hand decorated paper. On the day, his favourite gift was a terracotta pot and some plants that he immediately decided he needed to plant. 

The cake (banana) I was able to bake in my amazing silver anodised cake pan from Silverwood. I didn't line it, merely greased with a little butter and sprinkled with flour (actually Felix helped with this bit) and the cake came out fine, no waste there.

Mud Pies
Decorating the cake, I used fondant flowers and rice paper butterflies I already had on hand. However these things can be purchased from cake decorating stores loose and you can take along your own packaging to pick and choose. 

The inedible decorations and candles were wiped clean afterwards and popped back into my jar of cake decorations. I have a reusable piping bag, and the ingredients either came from bulk or recyclable packaging.

I made 'mud pie' chocolate brownies in my Tupperware tuppcakes moulds. No waste there.

An easy waste free spread
Sausage rolls baked in the oven on my reusable Tupperware baking sheet.

We had fruit and put out the compost bin for the scraps.

All food and drink was served in our crockery. No soft drinks or juices, just water and beer or wine from recyclable glass bottles. 

If I had organised myself a little more ahead, I could've made reusable napkins, however everyone seemed ok just washing their hands or just wiping them on their clothes (mainly the children!)

For the party favours / activities we cut up and stamped an egg carton with the kid's names on each little cup. My dad helped out with this one and dutifully stamped away. We then filled a tub with some seed raising mix we had in the shed and let the kids plant some seeds to take home. It kept them out of trouble for a little while, I think they were mostly happy just to run about playing in the great outdoors though.

Personalised thank you gift

Do you think you'd ever attempt a waste free kids party?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Craftsy; Crochet Class Review

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm not really on par with crochet. I somehow managed to hook my way through making a pear, a cake and an apple, however I'm still not entirely sure how!

A pear in progress

Possibly almost 8 months ago now, I got myself an online Craftsy crochet class to try out. It's been sitting on the inter-web waiting for me until now.

I have looked at online classes in the past, I even signed up to sew school online. I started this so diligently, and then life and things went a little pear-shaped. Sew School is still on my 'to do' list and I will get there.

For now though, here is my frank, unbiased and unpaid and unaffiliated review of 'Improve your crochet; essential techniques' by Edie Eckman

Craftsy - Logo from website

The Good

It's there forever! It didn't matter that I got it way back when, there's no expiry date on a Craftsy Course. So you can watch it as many times as you want. You can watch the same bits over again and save some bits for later.

It's filmed very clearly and separated into easy to follow segments.

The materials sheets; They supply conversions, patterns and instructions that Edie uses in the tutorials.

The Not So Good

I looked at the classes available, and as a novice crocheter, I though this was the best course to help me go further. It turns out, it wasn't really the course for me.

I got a little lost in navigating the actual site. It took me a little while to get used to the navigation for the videos which seemed to change if I went from desktop to a mobile device. There is a short video showing you (very quickly) how to navigate through, however it wasn't easy to locate.

The terms!! I'm already so confused with crochet terms and most of the patterns I work from are UK and this one is all done in US terms (they do supply a conversion chart in the class notes.)

I did make a few small samples during the course
However I completely misplaced them! So no pictures

Things That Would Have Helped Me

I personally would have benefited from a class that taught me how to create one single thing using crochet from start to finish, illustrating the techniques along the way. Even if it was just a good old granny square! That way I could have understood much more about how the techniques could be used when making other projects.

Something else I would've found helpful, would have been little subtitles converting terms into UK patterns, for example, If Edie was saying "work a double crochet" A subtitle would come up on the screen 'UK Triple Crochet'.

All Up

If I were more competent with crochet, I think this would have been much more useful to me at the first run through. That being said, I know it will be useful in the future, and after going through the whole thing, I now know what's covered.

It's gotten me interested in getting the crochet hook out again, and once I'm a bit more steady with it all, I'll certainly be taking another peak at Improve your crochet; essential techniques.

Still not entirely sure how I managed this fella!


If you are thinking of doing a Craftsy Class, I would recommend it. However before choosing one, my tips would be;

- Take advantage of all the information Craftsy provides, for each course. They cover frequently asked questions, what materials you will need, as well as ratings and reviews.

- See if you can borrow books from the library or read items online written by the person who is taking the course you are looking at, you can find out more under 'The instructor' on the course info page.

- Under 'Help' find the little video that shows you how to navigate through a lesson.


Have you completed any online craft courses that you would recommend?