DIY: reusable waxed cloth food wraps

We are all trying to do our bit to reduce plastic waste, and the kitchen is one area where you can make plenty of changes. Cling film can easily be eradicated from regular use by replacing it with waxed food wraps. You can buy these now from various retailers, but Juliet Bawden is here to show us how to make our own, allowing you to choose any fabric design you like - and I think you’ll agree, it looks much prettier than cling film ever did!

DIY wax cloth food wrap project

You will need:

  • Closely woven cotton fabric, similar to a bed sheet in feel. We got ours from Cloth and Candy

  • Wax - either grated from a large block or you can buy wax pellets on line.

  • Baking parchment

  • A flat baking tray

  • Pinking shears

  • Flat decorators paint brush

  • Tape measure

  • Paper scissors

make your own reusable wax food wrap
  1. Use the bowl or vessel you wish to cover as a template and draw around leaving an extra two centimetres on each side. Cut out the fabric with pinking shears so you won’t have to hem the fabric.

make your own reusable food wrap

2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, then place the fabric on top and sprinkle the wax evenly on the fabric.

DIY wax food wrap

3. Place in a low temperature oven, approx. 100°C, and watch the fabric through the oven door until the wax melts into the cloth, this should take between five and ten minutes. Remove carefully and use a paintbrush to spread the wax, covering any parts of the fabric where the wax may not have penetrated.

how to make a waxed cloth food wrap

4. Hang the fabric up to dry. Once the cloth is dry it will still feel slightly sticky and waxy but that is the nature of the beast. You can make cloths for specific containers or larger pieces which can be multi-purpose and could wrap items such as loaves of bread or pieces of fruit.

waxed cloth food wrap - make your own

Wash your wraps after use in cool water with some gentle soap and leave to dry.

Photography: Antonia Attwood

Make: A Floral Hoop

Pretty foliage and greenery can make for a stunning focal point at any celebration. Whether it’s an extravagant wedding feature or a simple summer garden party, flowers are always the most striking way to create a memorable focal point. Marianne of Frances and Rose and photographer Kathryn Taylor share a wonderfully simple way to create your own handcrafted floral hoop which can add that touch of pretty creativity to any occasion.


You will you need:

  • A Hula hoop (a children’s hula hoop is perfect!)
  • Green stem tape
  • 26 gram reel of green wire
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon for the finish
  • Foliage/ flowers – a mixed bucket of around 50-70 stems, if using foraged foliage make sure to condition them properly to prevent it from wilting.
DIY tutorial - flower hoop decoration for weddings

Flower Preparation: To condition foraged foliage and prevent them from wilting, cut the stems at an angle and make a straight cut vertically to create a slight split. Place the stems into a pan of boiling water for around 30 seconds, or until they stop releasing bubbles, and then immediately plunge into a separate bucket of cold water to cool. Leave them in there for one hour. A good tip to remember is that flowers with stronger, waxier leaves tend to work better than softer, floppier leaves for this particular project.

If you are decorating for a special occasion you can also source local, lovingly grown cut blooms from the ‘Flowers From the Farm’ organization. This is a collaboration of growers and florists based throughout the UK who sell freshly cut flowers by the bucket!

To find your nearest British flower farmer see their website and make your handmade arrangements something truly unique:


1. Take the floral stem tape and wrap around the entire hoop so you have a totally green base to work from. This will give the hoop grip for the flowers and an even backdrop. Plastic hoops can be very slippery so if possible a wooden or bamboo hoop is a great alternative.  

2. To start with, take your scissors and cut a collection of stems. You can make them as long or as short as you wish. However prepare these in advance before the next step.

Make a floral hoop decoration - summer party styling
DIY project - Floral wreath using a hula hoop

3. Take your wire and secure it by winding it tightly at the starting point of your hoop. A good tip is to twist it a couple of times to build security. Leave the reel attached at this stage, don’t cut the wire!

4. Separately create small bunches of 3-4 stems. Hold them together in one hand and place them parallel to the hoop. Simply follow by wrapping the wire around each floral bundle three to four times to hold strongly in place. 

5. Make the next bundle and lay it over the last with the stems in the same direction. You should aim for the new leaves to cover the stems of the previously secured bundle. Again wrap each floral collection approximately three to four times.

Make a floral decoration using a hula hoop

6. Continue this process the entire way around. Try to plan out your flowers as you go but don’t be afraid to get creative. Create clusters using flowers alongside simple greenery that will add beautiful contrast and balance to your design as it grows around the hoop. For this example we built the greenery and flowers around two thirds and then left space for the addition of a classic green velvet ribbon as a finishing touch.

DIY floral hoop decoration
Floral hoop decoration - using British grown flowers

Flower Tips: If you are hoping to use a lot of flowers, it is recommended to make your floral feature as close to the event as possible to avoid wilting. Stronger stemmed flowers or even dried flowers like hydrangeas or helichrysum can make the most beautifully diverse arrangement that will also last the course. If you are really keen on using garden roses and other soft flowers out or water for any length of time, florist test tubes wired into the design can help to keep them plump and in bloom for longer. And why not get a bit experimental. Sturdy fruit tree branches such as apple tree springs or even hardy herbs can add texture and fragrance to your party piece as well as much needed structure and strength.

Learn with Frances & Rose: If you fancy learning more about how to make floral hoops, crowns or bouquets using home grown, seasonal British flowers, Marianne of Frances & Rose holds group and 121 workshops from her studio in the heart of the Peak District.

To find out more go to or @francesandrose on Instagram.

Photography: Kathryn Taylor - follow on Instagram: @hello_kathryntaylor

floral hoop DIY

MAKE: a driftwood clothes rail

Open clothes storage is becoming more and more popular with stylish clothes rails being favoured over bulky wardrobes which can often leave your clothes smelling fusty. In our SS17 issue, the home tour with Britt and Sander from Daily Poetry showed how they'd used simple black metal rails and a bookcase to store their clothing - simple but effective (see here

DIY project - make a branch clothes rail

Today we are sharing a DIY project from new book Woodworking on how to make your own branch clothes rail for next to nothing. Apart from some lengths of leather and a few inexpensive tools, you'll just need to invest some time sourcing a suitable piece of wood and then creating and installing it - resulting in a totally unique way to store and display your wardrobe.  


  • 1 piece of driftwood, approx. 140cm (55 inches) in length. Consider the thickness of the stick as it must be suitable for your chosen hangers.
  • 2 pieces of leather, approx. 3cm (1¼ inches) wide and 5m (16½ feet) long (the length will depend on the height of your ceiling). Natural leather is hard to cut, so we tend to ask our local leather merchant to cut it for us
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper (#150) 
  • Leather hole punch
  • 2 x 1cm (½ inch) copper or brass nails/studs for each strap
  • Hand saw
  • 2 x strong screws (for attaching wardrobe (closet) to the ceiling)
  • Ruler
  • Electric (hand-held) drill
driftwood clothes hanger - DIY
make a driftwood clothes rail

STEP 01 - Comb your nearest beach for a suitable piece of driftwood, then leave your chosen wood to dry out in the sun.

STEP 02 - Use the sandpaper to clean and polish the rough edges. Run the sandpaper along the stick to make sure there are no splinters or small rough knots.

creating a branch clothes hanger with leather straps

STEP 03 - Using the saw, cut the stick to your desired length. The maximum length would be 150cm (59 inches), to ensure the stick is strong enough.

STEP 04 - Using the leather hole punch, prepare two holes in the leather around 1cm (¹⁄³ inch) inside the edge of the strap and 25cm (10 inches) from the end. You could even ask your leather merchant to cut the holes. Hammer the copper or brass nails or studs into place.

wood and leather clothes hanger

STEP 05 - Loop the leather straps around each end of your chosen branch.

STEP 06 - Check the exact measurement between the two leather straps and mark the two spots on the ceiling where the straps will be attached. Drill holes in the ceiling for the screws and attach the straps to the ceiling.

driftwood clothes rail - DIY project

The branch could literally be hung using any material: rope, rough twine, coarse fabric, even an old fine silk scarf. You can hang it next to a wall as a sort of separate closet, but it also works beautifully as a room divider. And while it’s perfect for holding your clothes in the bedroom, you could also use it as an installation for pots and pans over your kitchen sink, swapping the clothes hangers with some beautiful vintage meat hooks from a butcher. 

If this has got you in the mood for trying your hand working with wood a bit more, then do check out this book - Woodworking by Andrea Brugi and Samina Langholz. Published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group (£20). Out 22nd March 2018. Pre order now.

DIY Make your own driftwood clothes rail

WIN a We Are Knitters blanket kit

We absolutely love collaborating with cool brands that we love and think you will love too. In the new issue we teamed up with We Are Knitters and Melody Hoffman to showcase a couple of We Are Knitters gorgeous knitting kits. We opted for two kits from their homeware range, but you can also pick from their cosy garments range, perfect for whipping up some great Christmas gifts or just to keep yourself snug this winter.

We Are Knitters collaboration

Even if you are a knitting novice, never fear, as the kits provide you with everything you need to give it a whirl, and they are categorised into skill levels so you can start off easy and progress if you wish. To celebrate our collaboration the lovely folk of We Are Knitters are offering one 91 Magazine reader the chance to win the sleepy blanket kit as featured in the magazine! The kit is worth £99 and the winner will be able to select their preferred colour of wool. 

We Are Knitters giveaway

So, to be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is enter your details below. A winner will be drawn at random after the closing date which is 8th November 2017. Please see below for further terms and conditions. 

Name *

Terms and Conditions

1. Only entries made before the closing date - 8th November 2017 will be valid. 

2. The winner will be selected at random and will be notified via the email address they provided shortly after the closing date. 

3. The winner will have until 24th November 2017 to respond with their chosen wool colour and delivery address. If a reply is not received by this date, they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen. 

4. No cash alternative. 

5. The giveaway is open to worldwide entries. 

6. By entering the giveaway and providing your email address you are giving permission to be added to the mailing lists of both 91 Magazine and We are Knitters. Your details will not be shared with any further third parties. 

This post was sponsored by We Are Knitters. Images by Melody Hoffman for 91 Magazine.  

3 mini projects with Nancy Straughan fabric

Our AW17 issue arrives at 91 HQ tomorrow! If you were quick off the mark and were one of the first 200 people to order a copy you will also receive a 40cm x 40cm piece of fabric, designed by Nancy Straughan. It will be a lucky dip as to which pattern you will receive, but they are all really beautiful, so we hope you will love what you get inside your envelope. We urge you to use your creativity to turn your piece of fabric into something lovely, but here are a few ideas to get you started! 

fabric gift tags idea

FABRIC GIFT TAGS - A gift is always made that little bit extra special with beautiful wrapping, and fabric gift tags are a great way to add an element of tactility and luxury. These are SO easy to make. Lay a rectangle of fabric atop some thick paper or card, and cut both to the same size. Use craft glue to stick the fabric to the card, and allow to dry. Use pinking shears to trim to size with a zig-zag edge which looks great & also stops the fabric fraying. Fold the tag in half lengthways and use sharp scissors to cut a small hole to feed your string or ribbon through. Add a sprig of eucalyptus for perfectly stylish Christmas wrapping. You should be able to make approx 8-12 tags with your square of fabric, depending on the size you go for. 

Make an easy cushion cover

35cm x 35cm CUSHION COVER - Your square of fabric is just the right size to make a 35cm x 35cm cushion cover. Pick a plain coordinating fabric for the back of this simple envelope cover. Cut your Nancy Straughan piece of fabric to 38cm squared, and then the two pieces from your backing fabric at 38cm x 31cm and 38cm x 20cm. It helps to make a template from paper (brown or wrapping paper is best) and then pin your fabric to the paper and cut out. Sew a seam along one of the long edges of both of the backing pieces (ideally on a sewing machine) which will be the opening for the cover, then place the front and back pieces right sides facing together. Then sew around all four edges. Turn your cushion cover the right way out, and add a cushion pad!

fabric pennant diy

FABRIC PENNANT - Add some pattern to your walls with these mini fabric pennants, or make lots to create a garland. Simply cut out the flag shape from your fabric and sew a hem around each edge, leaving a channel along the top edge. You can use a thin piece of wooden dowling to feed through the channel, or simply thread through some string or twine to hang. 

That's just a few simple ideas for transforming your fabric square, but we'd LOVE to see what you do with yours! Please share pics via Instagram with the hashtag #91magXnancystraughan and we *may* award a prize to our favourite! 

If you haven't ordered your copy of our AW17 issue yet, then I'm afraid you have missed out on this little gift, but do check out Nancy's beautiful range of fabrics on her website and of course make sure to order your mag asap! ;) 

Thanks again to Nancy Straughan for providing 200 pieces of fabric as our gift to the first 200 pre-orders of 91 Magazine AW17. 

3 mini projects for using up fabric scraps

MAKE: Shooting star printed cushion

As much as we LOVE to shop here at 91, we also enjoy making our own home accessories once in a while, especially if they turn out as beautifully as this cushion cover designed by Joy Jolliffe (owner of Random Retail). Thankfully Joy isn't keeping this one to herself, today she shares a tutorial for creating your very own version of this beauty for your sofa or dining chairs. Take it away Joy! 

The inspiration for this idea began with torn paper. The snowflake designs that we all made when we were children can be a good starting point for pattern ideas. I also have a small collection of vintage wooden set squares and it was their straight edges and triangular shapes that suggested the idea for a geometric design. Celtic designs and patterned tiles are also great inspiration for this type of look.

You will need: 

  • 2 pieces cartridge paper A2 size
  • 3 pieces lightweight card A2 size
  • Sheet of tracing paper
  • Cutting mat
  • Metal Ruler
  • Scalpel
  • Pencil
  • Mark and Erase Pen
  • Small sponge pieces
  • Printing inks
  • Masking Tape
  • Cushion cover or fabric to make own 40cm x 40cm

1. Fold a square piece of paper (that measures the same size as your cushion cover) into quarters and draw your geometric design out as above left. Cut out carefully with a scalpel. Unfold the paper.


2. Cut the paper into 4 quarters and then reassembled the pieces to make a different pattern. Use the pattern pieces as a guide and draw the shapes onto a large sheet of paper. I mirror imaged the shapes that had been sliced through the middle. I liked the star shape that had originally formed in the middle of the design and decided instead to add one to each quarter making the design more dynamic. (see below)

3. Next you need to decide which colours you will use and where. Keep it simple with two or three colours. By reverse tracing transfer each colour group onto three separate pieces of card and cut out each stencil ready for printing. It's important to cut small matching holes in the corner of each stencil - this gives you registration points to ensure the 2nd and 3rd stencils are positioned correctly.

** SPONGEING TECHNIQUE TIP ** For this design I used a sponge to transfer the ink onto the fabric. It’s a good idea to practice on a spare piece of fabric before starting on your cushion. Dab the sponge onto the ink and then dab off onto a clean part of the plate before applying the inked sponge to the stencil. That way you can build the colour gradually and avoid blobs and blots.

** PRINTING ON READY MADE CUSHION TIPS ** If you are printing onto a ready made cushion cover, arrange your design so that it avoids seams or zips/closures/overlaps. It’s always best to print onto a flat surface. Additionally, if using a ready made cushion cover, place a sheet of paper inside between the front and the back. This ensures ink doesn’t spread to the back during printing.

4. Tape your cushion cover or fabric onto a lightly padded surface. Tape the first stencil into position and using the Mark & Erase pen mark the 4 corner registration dots onto your fabric, then start spongeing on your ink.

5. When you have stencilled all of the 1st colour, remove the stencil carefully. Leave your fabric to dry, preferably in situ. Using your registration holes and marks, tape the 2nd stencil into place and apply the 2nd colour.

6. Repeat the last step with your 3rd colour to complete the design. Allow to dry, then either stitch your fabric to make up the cushion cover, or simply pop in a cushion pad if you used a ready made cover. 


Design and tutorial by Joy Jolliffe of Random Retail. Find more of Joy's printing designs and techniques in her book Print it!

All photography by Holly Jolliffe

WIN £150 to spend with We Are Knitters

As well as a shared love for interiors and creative living, it turns out that nearly all of the 91 Magazine team have a passion for all things yarn. Our sub editor Kath is a whizz with both knitting needles and a crochet hook, designing patterns as part of her work, while Lucy, our designer, is a general craft genius, but in particular hosts weaving workshops around the country. Myself and deputy editor Laura both enjoy a knitting project to unwind away from the computer screen. 

It's true that knitting is a skill that you need to acquire, but it's not a difficult one, and with the abundance of online tutorials these days it's even easier to learn the basics in an evening. If you are unsure of what to make, or what type of wool and needles you'd need, then We Are Knitters are the perfect place to discover some gorgeous projects both to wear and to accessorise your home with. Their kits range from beginner level to advanced and come with everything you need to get knitting straight away. 

As design lovers here at 91, we are naturally drawn to their super stylish branding (very Instagram-able!), the lovely wooden needles and the beautiful yarn colours available. I am currently making the Dudo scarf which uses The Meri Wool in salmon pink - the perfect accessory for a nippy spring day I think. 


Whether you're a seasoned knitter or a complete novice, we think you'll be excited to hear that we have teamed up with We Are Knitters to offer one 91 Magazine blog reader the chance to win £150 to spend on their website! That should get you 2-3 of their kits to try out, or if you are an advanced knitter you could stock up your yarn supplies very well indeed! We are loving the 'sprinkle' version of the Meri Wool above. They also offer crochet and macramé kits too, so you could try out a few different crafts if 2017 really is your year of learning new things!

The giveaway is open to UK based readers only, and the closing date is 10th March 2017. A winner will be selected at random and We Are Knitters will contact you directly if you are the lucky one. Do pop over to the We Are Knitters website to have a browse at what you might be able to bag yourself!

Simply CLICK HERE to enter.  

Right, I'm off to snuggle up and carry on with that scarf! Good Luck readers! x

This post has been sponsored by We are Knitters. All images and opinions are those of Caroline Rowland, editor of 91 Magazine. 

Make: Valentine's Wreath

Whatever your thoughts on Valentines Day, here at 91 we've got something for everyone. Last week we shared a tutorial to make these earthy homemade candles, a heartfelt gift made by your own fair hands. Today it is time for a little bit of kitsch, a burst of colour and a chance to let the world know you're in love! 91 stylist Laura Sawyer shows us how to make a fun Valentines wreath...

Photo: Richard Clatworthy  Props:  French Love Poems: £9.99 / True Love Valentine’s Card (in Gold Glitter): £4.50 / Ville Fleur Cup & Saucer: £14 Stockist:

Photo: Richard Clatworthy

Props:  French Love Poems: £9.99 / True Love Valentine’s Card (in Gold Glitter): £4.50 / Ville Fleur Cup & Saucer: £14 Stockist:

With Christmas now a distant memory, it's been a while since our doors have been adorned. They're probably feeling in need of some new season accessories just as much as we are. 

A Valentine's Day wreath hanging on the door will let Cupid know you're looking for love or thank Eros for bringing you your Valentine. 

I personally have rather fallen for this super kitsch decoration and have chosen to hang it inside my house with some Valentine's Day accessories. 

What you'll need: 

  • Artificial flowers
  • Scissors
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Wire 
  • Tape
  • Optional additions: Pink paint / Paint brush /Paper flowers / Anthropologie Valentine's Kit / Cherub decorations / Birds / Rosette / Ribbon / Valentine's messages

How to make: 

1. Prepare all the materials you wish to add. I found some little cherubs on eBay so painted them pink. The rosette was a jumble sale find - I replaced the centre with a Valentines message. I cut the flower stems shorter also. 

2. Bend your coat hanger into a heart shape by pulling the bottom down from the middle to create the point and pushing the hanger part down towards the point. Then alter to make a neat shape. 

3. With your first flower, wrap the wire stem around the coat hanger. Do the same with the next flower, keeping it close to the first.  

4. Continue this around the hanger keeping the flowers tight to each other and varying the direction the flowers are pointing. 

5. Once you have a full wreath of roses it's time to start adding your accessories. This is the fun bit - the more the better I say! I made the arrow with a cute kit from Anthropologie, then I added birds, cherubs, paper flowers, stickers, ribbon, a rosette and a LOVE note. Use wire and/or tape to secure these to your wreath. 

Photo: Richard Clatworthy

Photo: Richard Clatworthy

6. Once you've added all of your adornments your wreath is ready to hang by it's own built in hanger!

Happy Valentines Day readers! We love you all! xxx

Images by Richard Clatworthy and Laura Sawyer

Make: DIY Valentines candles

A handmade gift always feels so much more heartfelt doesn't it?! Today Kitty and Nathan Kleyn show us how to make homemade candles, perfect for your loved ones at this time of year, or whenever you feel the need to let them know they are special to you. 

St Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the shops are spilling out with their heart-shaped chocolates and flowers for “that someone special.” However, we see the day as another chance to share it with all the special someones in our lives, because to us, it isn’t about buying one another a box of chocolates to prove, “I love you.” It’s about sharing the love and taking the opportunity to tell those who are dear to us just how much they matter. So today we’re sharing a really easy DIY to make some candles which we’ll be giving to those who light up our life when Valentine’s Day rolls around.

You will need:

  • Soy wax flakes
  • Pre-waxed candle wicks

  • Containers for your candles (these can be anything from old jam jars to teacups!)

  • Essential oils to fragrance your candle

  • A heat-proof bowl

  • Ice-lolly sticks or a pencil

  • Scissors

How to: 

1. Make sure that any dirt or dust has been cleaned out of your chosen containers. We’re using old flower pots so have had to scrub extra hard to get the last remnants of soil out!

2. Measure your required wick length. We recommend you leave about 3-4 inches (7cm) extra at this stage. You will need to secure this to the bottom of your container either with super glue, a hot glue gun or by using a dab of your melted wax in the next step.

3. Fill your containers with the wax flakes to measure how much you will need. Then boil a pan of water and place the wax flakes into a heat-resistant bowl to sit on top of the pan. This will gently melt your flakes into liquid wax.

4. Once your wax has fully melted, take it off the pan and leave it to sit for 10 minutes so it cools down slightly. Then mix in a few drops of your essential oils (we picked ylang-ylang and rosewood to mix together for our candles). Add more drops for a stronger scent if you fancy. It is very important you do not do this whilst you are melting your wax as the essential oil will just burn off and not infuse your wax with a scent.

5. Make sure your oil is completely mixed in and then carefully pour your wax into your containers. Your heatproof bowl may still be hot, so you may need a tea towel or oven gloves.

6. Whilst your wax cools and solidifies, you will need to secure your wicks in place. We used ice-lolly sticks but you can also tie them around a pencil, pen or skewer.

7. Once they have cooled, you may find you want to top them up slightly so just repeat the last few steps with a smaller quantity of wax. Otherwise, it’s now time to snip the wicks - leave about 2cm for them to start burning with.

Now simply light and enjoy! They are a lovely gift to yourself too so why not make a batch and keep some for yourself? When giving to a loved one, make sure to present your candle beautifully - perhaps wrap in brown paper, add some raffia and a sprig of greenery.

Thank you for this straightforward DIY Kitty and Nathan! We're off to gather containers and get wax melting! Check out Kitty and Nathan's photographic diary, Searching for Tomorrow - we love this post about befriending deer

Make: Paper Wisteria

Stylist Laura Sawyer shares the secret of how to recreate the gorgeous paper wisteria that she made for our launch party earlier in the summer. Over to you, Laura!

Image by Jemma Watts

Image by Jemma Watts

Back in June this year I participated in the 91 Magazine launch party at Anthropologie by running a paper wisteria workshop.  We used bright coloured paper for a fun summery feel, and the results were hung from branches at the crafting table.

This later inspired me to create a white paper  wisteria  display for an event I was styling at a London hotel, so I thought I would share this version with you, as the white  wisteria  would work perfectly for a wedding or a winter display.  

I hung my wisteria drops from a suspended white branch, but you could easily place branches adorned with  your paper wisteria  in a vase as we did at the 91 launch.

This is a very simple and soothing craft activity. Here's how to do it...

Paper Wisteria 

 You will need:  

 -Tissue paper – all one colour or a mix  


 -Thread (nylon thread works well)


1.  Cut tissue paper into squares

2. Cut squares into balloon shapes.

3. Twist end of balloon shape around thumb.

4. Thread petal from the curved side.

5. Continue adding petals onto thread.

6. Tie off end of thread into a loop. Continue making strings of petal and hang them to display.

Project and styling: Laura Sawyer

Photography:  Richard Clatworthy


Make: Embossed cards

In this age of computers, iPads and smart phones , it is often said that 'print is dead' - but here at 91 HQ we say NO! Beautifully printed magazines and paper goods are having a huge resurgence - the antithesis of the digital world - people want to feel and smell the paper while reading something inspiring, and everyone loves to get something beautiful through their letterbox, right?! We stand testament to that following the feedback since our first print issue - thank you so much for all your comments and pictures! (have you ordered yours yet?!)

So today we are thrilled to have textile and homeware designer Nancy Straughan here to share with us a beautiful papery project for making your own embossed cards - so you can not only send your loved ones a handwritten note, it will be crafted by your own fair hands too! And, who would have thought embossing was so easy?! Nancy also shares with us a lovely description of how to write the perfect letter - lets keep that almost forgotten art alive! Over to you Nancy.... 

Sometimes its the simplest design that looks the most beautiful and embossing is as simple as it gets. Embossed greetings cards can be spotted in fancy stationers and I always lust after them. I've always been a fan of embossed stationery, I actually have a metal stamp so that I can emboss papers with my monogram and I love using it. There's something very classic about simple embossed cards and this DIY will show you how simple it is to emboss your own stationery at home.

There's no fancy or expensive equipment, just a few items that you probably already have in your home. This craft is pretty addictive, I guarantee that soon you'll be embossing every paper item you can lay your hands on!

What you need:

  • any assortment of soft papers cut down to your desired card size. You can also use pre-bought blank cards
  • thick cardstock (to create the template)
  • a design
  • xacto knife
  • cutting mat
  • scissors
  • a mechanical pencil
  • a teaspoon

 1. Draw our a simple design onto the thick cardstock, try to choose a silhouette. If it's your first go try something simple like a heart or a star. 

 2. Cut out the inside of your design out with your xacto knife. Take your time with this. If knives make you nervous or you are doing this project with children scissors can work too.

 3. Place the template on the front of the card. You will actually be doing the embossing from the inside of the card. Make sure that you design is aligned properly where you want it before you begin to emboss. 

 4. Gently run over the surface of the inside of your card with the end of a spoon and as if my magic the edges of your design will start to appear!

 5. Keep rubbing over the design getting in all the corners and edges. Don't stop until you are sure that your design has been properly rubbed and therefore embossed. Your design should be very clearly visible once you have done all that rubbing. 

 6. Turn your card over and voila! You now have a hand embossed card!

 This technique can also be used on envelopes, gift tags, wrapping paper and lots more paper products. If you're going to send this card to someone have a read of my letter writing tips below. 

Letter Writing 101

 Date the letter. If you're taking the trouble to write a letter by hand, it's nice to add a date on the top left corner of the paper. This way the recipient can look back and reminisce.

 Greet the person with a "Dear", "Hello" or a more intimate "Dearest". Be sure to end your greeting with a comma. It is also formally correct to begin the body of the letter on the next line.

 The first paragraph of a friendly letter is usually warm and lighthearted. It's a way to set the tone of the letter, letting the recipient know that what's to follow. You can use the first paragraph to inquire more deeply about the recipient's life.

 Now it's time to get to the meat of the letter, your purpose for writing it. Do you want to get back in touch with a long lost friend, express to someone that you are missing them, or thank them for helping you out in some way?

 Write a final paragraph sending your friend or loved one best wishes. The last paragraph is usually lighter in tone than the body, but it should match the general feel of the entire letter. 

The closing you choose should be in keeping with the feel of your letter, whether it is traditional or more casual in tone. Like the salutation, it should be determined by your relationship with the recipient. Follow the closing by signing your name.

Lovely Nancy! Thank you for sharing! 

Check out Nancy's blog for more DIY ideas and creative inspiration. 

91 Loves... modern hoop embroidery

We love ALL sorts of crafts here at 91, but we particularly love to see traditional crafts brought right up to date for the 21st century. We've focussed on weaving and cross-stitch on here before and today we want to highlight hoop embroidery and show that it is a super cool craft to have a go at, and not hugely difficult to learn either! We thought we'd pick out some of our favourite makers whose work has inspired us to grab a hoop, needle and thread and start stitching!

Image via  Sew and Saunders

Sew and Saunders is one of our favourite UK based embroidery designers, with lots of her work inspired by current botanical trends. We love the simplicity of this leafy design, the use of one colour giving it a chic contemporary vibe. 

Image via  Miss Katiuska

Image via Miss Katiuska

It's also the simplicity we love about Spain based maker Miss Katiuska's work and the use of a modern font in this particular example. Plus, we love the monochromatic palette with a dash of pastels thrown in. She also sells kits via her Etsy shop to get your started. 

Image via  Cinder and Honey

If bold, bright colour is more your bag, then these beautiful butterfly designs by Canadian Cinder and Honey are perfect. It is actually the PDF patterns that embroidery artist Caitlin, sells via her Etsy shop, so you can dive straight in and replicate these at home!  

Megan Eckman of Studio MME started her business as she wanted to offer 'approachable embroidery for modern stitchers' - and her graphic designs inspired by landscapes and landmarks are certainly a far cry from chintzy florals and country cottage scenes our grandmothers might have stitched! She sells kits, pre printed fabrics and PDFs via her US based Etsy shop so you can easily stitch yourself a Rocky Mountain scene or the Statue of Liberty!

Megan in fact shared one of her fun projects in our Craft Special which published back in 2014. Follow her party animal pattern here

Another US maker whose stitching makes us swoon is Stephanie Lapre. Again it's the graphic and monochromatic designs that gives her work a contemporary edge. Her Etsy shop is currently closed while she restocks, but you can follow her lovely Instagram feed for updates. 

Image via  Sarah K Benning

Image via Sarah K Benning

It is American fibre artist Sarah K Benning who bucks the trend for simplicity through her beautifully intricate designs depicting mainly potted plants. The circular scenes are almost like mini paintings there is so much detail included. Sarah is now based in Menorca, Spain, and her Etsy shop is dedicated to a fun monthly subscription project where subscribers receive a new design each month to work on.

We love how so many of these embroidery artists are working to make their craft inclusive, offering patterns, kits and projects for keen stitchers to get involved with. Plus, it's such an affordable craft - embroidery floss, a small piece of cotton and a hoop and off you go! We'd love to hear if you've given embroidery a go, or have got inspired by these lovely pieces of work.