I’ve mentioned this before, but I really object to some of the crazy prices shops charge for kids clothing and as much as I love to splash out on the odd bit of handmade loveliness, I try and avoid lining big coporations pockets by paying £20 for a toddler t-shirt that cost about £2 to manufacture, especially when I can pick up a multi-pack of four for £10.50 and then spend a couple of weeks happily experimenting with ways to customise them.


Pinterest is full of tutorials that show you how to use simple stuff that you may already have at home to turn plain tees into something special, but do the methods actually work? I decided to use my last multi-pack to try some of the ideas and to try some simple ones of my own and report back on the success or faliures of the ideas…



This is my default option for customising, but for this one I tried to use the simplest template I had to hand – a cookie cutter! The two different star shapes were achieved by drawing round the outside and the inside of the cookie cutter on to heat and bond. The fabric I used was a small sample pack of fabric from Trouve Vintage which I got in a goodie bag from a blogger conference (Blogtacular, I think) I used the Heat N Bond to affix the stars to the t-shirt, then used blanket stitch to sew them down. I then hand stitched round each star with embroidery thread.

I’m not the fastest hand stitcher, so it took me an hour to do all of them, but I was sitting in front of the TV, so quite happy! I think the results of a little time on the machine and by hand produced a simple but professional looking tee and I was happy with the result. I have a youtube tutorial which walks through the principle of using Heat N Bond to applique t-shirts here.

Dip Dye with chalk paint


According to the tutorial on her website (which I followed to the letter) you can use Annie Sloan’s chalk paint to dip dye fabric. I doubled the recommended one tablespoon of paint to one litre of water to increase the strength of the blue I used and loved the results. I decided to be cautious and used both a hot tumble drier and a hot iron to seal the colour, but when I chucked it in the washing machine (without detergent) all the paint came out! The tutorial does say (rather confusingly) that if you increase the amount of paint you use you can experience more fade, but I had no trace of colour left at all!

I started again with a packet of Dylon navy dye and this time achieved the permanent results I wanted. The dipped effect looked so much like the sea that I couldn’t resist adding some appropriate applique text using felt. As felt doesn’t fray you don’t have to use a stitch that encloses the edges of the letters, so I sewed with a straight stitch instead.

Kawaii Sharpie t-shirt


This tutorial here talks through using a Sharpie pen to draw your own custom images on a t-shirt which seemed like a great budget idea. I decided to create a Kawaii style cat face which I drew on to paper and traced on to the t-shirt using a light box. As recommended in the tutorial I did dots marking key points on the image first, then drew on the lines afterwards.


This second step is more tricky as the fabric can pull under the pen, but I got there in the end and created quite a pleasing result. Like the chalk paint you are advised to seal the ink by placing it in a hot tumble drier or under an iron. I haven’t washed it yet (I’ll update when I do) but I have seen a few people commenting that despite sealing the t-shirt their designs did fade after repeated washing, so if I try this again I think I’ll invest in a fabric pen that’s made for the job!

I also added some Kawaii style heart elbow patches which I made out of the white felt material. The hearts were also cut from cookie cutters.

Peter Pan collar and pockets


I looked at a few tutorials for Peter Pan collars, but decided to try this one as it meant only adding the collar at the front of the t-shirt. The freehand drawing was relatively easy. I initially tried knit (jersey) fabric as advised, but found the collar wouldn’t lay flat, so redid it in cotton. The size of the neck and the lack of collar at the back meant it was still big enough to fit over my daughter’s head even without any stretch at the front.

The pockets I drew freehand too and cut out four pieces of fabric from the template. The only problem with these is that I managed to attach them slightly wonkily. It does annoy me, but I’m also conscious that it won’t be easy to spot when she’s wearing it and she’ll probably have grown out of it by the spring.

Trying the different methods was a fun process with only a couple of disappointments. I’m definitely going to buy some fabric pens to repeat the Kawaii style idea and Theo has some further dip-dyeing planned for half-term so I’m sure they’ll be further customising to come.

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I don’t know what it is with me and varnish this week, but it’s almost like I’m wandering round the house looking for wooden things to cover in paint! This week’s second makeover is my childhood high chair which has been in the family for many years and is currently used by Theo.

He has been asking for it to be painted red since he was old enough to speak, so I thought I’d finally grant him his wish, except that as soon as I said I’d spray it red he added another condition. He now wanted it red and pink!


Fortunately his two tone colour request is bang on trend and there are loads of inspiring ideas on Pinterest for how you can colour furniture using two shades of paint, although I have to admit I have only seen it done using sharply contrasting colours and never with spray paint. I decided to see it the latter was even possible…

dipdye-collageL to R HGTV Magazine / Casa De Lewis / 551 East

So here’s what the chair looked like pre-makeover. Well loved, but in need of TLC…


I sanded it down and used masking tape to cover the parts of the chair I wanted to be pink, then I sprayed it with Novasol Pinty Plus in Flame Red RAL 3000. The key to using spray paint successfully is to be patient and apply several light layers building up as you go.

The Pinty Plus Evolution paint dries almost instantly so you don’t have to be very patient. The biggest problem I have is applying a coat and then getting distracted and forgetting to apply the next one!

A few coats down the line I removed the masking tape and reapplied it (and a blanket) to the painted section.


This second step was not straight forward and although using spray paint for the main body was easy and gave a lovely finish, using spray paint for the “dipped” parts was more tricky! The masking tape lifted off some of the red paint and the pink paint sneaked into places where you wouldn’t think it was possible for it to get to, so the finish is not perfect.


However because the Evolution paint colours are RAL colours finding a small pot of matching colour to touch up small bits with a brush should be straight forward. You can see the whole transformation in the short video below and please if you like the video, consider subscribing to my channel or leaving a comment on youtube. It’s really appreciated.

This makeover was made possible by my continuing relationship with novasolspray.co.uk


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Today I want to share with you a really exciting makeover which took place at our home last week. Some of you will have seen me sharing photos of tester pots on my facebook page, so after all the teasing, it’s time for the reveal, but first a little back story…

When we did the big extension and remodel works of our house two years ago the plan had always been to buy a wooden door and paint it, but the day it was delivered all pristine and fresh, people started telling me it would be a crime to cover up the wood and that we should varnish it instead. So against my better judgement I listened to them and I really shouldn’t have…

front door makeover

Despite the fact we used the second-most expensive weatherproof outdoor varnish we could find the door started to deteriorate really quickly.

Parts of the wood started turning black within months and within two years you could see parts where the varnish had worn off completely, it was quite soul destroying having a house we’d done a load of work on which looked so tatty so quickly. This wasn’t what I expected a brand new door to look like only two years down the line!


So, for the last few months we’ve been debating getting it painted. With Jim only around at weekends and me with my hands full with a baby, we felt we needed to get someone in to do it for us, otherwise there was a real risk our time constraints would mean we’d bodge it up even more.

Fortunately we found a lovely decorator who was able to fit in three half days of work over three separate days and was happy to take the job on. He’s done work for my parents so we knew we were in safe hands. The time between him quoting, us saying yes and him starting work went by alarmingly quickly and one minute it was a theoretical idea, the next we were picking paint colours! On Thursday the week before last he sent me a text to say he could start work the following week and the next day we collected tester pots for colours.

It had originally been our plan to paint the door red, but my lovely creative friend Robyn who blogs at The Little Woman Pretends suggested we try teal or mustard. The tester pots were a disaster! Nothing like the colours on the Dulux chart and I started to panic! On the Saturday I had a school reunion and sharing my paint woes, a friend suggested we try Little Greene. The upshot of which was that I ended up leaving the reunion early to drive to Brewers to get a colour chart and three tester pots before they closed at 5pm!


I came home with three pots, Turquoise Blue, Marine Blue and Celestial Blue. The latter was way to pale and looked almost white so we were down to two choices. As always I had been collecting images on a Pinterest board to help with my decision making and as I started to narrow down the colours we liked, two photos in particular became a big influence…


The darker teal on the left is from Christina at thediymommy.com and the paler one comes from the RC Wiley blog. In the end Christina’s lovely Canadian home swayed us and we decided to go for Marine Blue. I am so happy by how great the result looks…


To keep costs down we had been planning to keep the inside of the door varnished, but the outside looks so good I think an interior makoever is next on our list. We’ll do the frame white again, but the inside of the door will be painted in the Little Greene Turquoise Blue that was our second choice.

Our makeover of the front of our house isn’t quite complete. You may have noticed that the path that leads to it is in a terrible state, so we are plotting some DIY work for  when Jim is on leave, which may involve completing the deck area under our veranda and/or laying a gravel path to the door.

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  • October 17, 2016 - 4:36 pm

    Pamela | Life With Munchers - Ohh now that is stunning! I’m so glad you went for that colour out the 2, as that was my fav! It looks fantastic. You’ve made me want to start a door board now on pinterest…just so I can pin it! xxReplyCancel

  • October 17, 2016 - 4:52 pm

    Robyn - Oh I love it!!! Its so deep & luxurious. But still warm & inviting. It was the right choice I think.ReplyCancel

  • October 18, 2016 - 7:35 pm

    Wow what a fab colour choice xx - Wow what a fab colour choice xxReplyCancel

  • October 18, 2016 - 9:01 pm

    Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations - Oh my Clare… I LOVE IT! You so made the right call there… And I think there’s something about the Autumn oranges against it that just totally make it pop! Beautiful!!ReplyCancel

  • October 19, 2016 - 1:02 pm

    Morgana - What a beautiful colour! Our front door is in desperate need of a whole lot of TLC so you’ve really inspired me to get on with it and choose some colours. All I need to do now is convince my colour averse husband to go with my ideas..! xxReplyCancel

Let’s be frank, at this time of year gardens are not terribly exciting or photogenic, but having documented our work through the summer I want to keep track of what we are doing even as we enter into autumn and the season of bare beds and dormant growth.

In September we cleared out the spent summer crops from our window boxes and pots and started thinking ahead to winter growing. Although I’m not an experienced vegetable grower, Theo is so enthusiastic about growing food to eat that I want to try and keep up the momentum. So out went the beans and in came some seeds for early-producing peas and Lambs Lettuce, along with some seedlings for brocolli


The Lambs Lettuce has gone in our window boxes (which in case you missed it, we use because they are high enough to be rabbit proof!) under some plastic covers which I found in the depths of the shed. The first tentative growth has just started to poke its head above the soil, 10 days after we planted them.


Our pea seeds have been planted under plastic bottle cloches and haven’t done anything yet, although we aren’t expecting to be able to eat them till about March…


On our last garden centre trip, Theo also spotted some brocolli seedlings which apparently will be good to eat in 5 weeks. We are about 10 days in and they look almost exactly the same as when we brought them home, so although Theo is enthusiastically counting down till when he can eat them, I’m not feeling terribly hopeful.


One summer crop which has taken its time to produce, but I think is just about ready finally are our snack cucumbers. Another Theo spot, these are teeny tiny cucumbers which you are supposed to eat whole. Having not grown them before I really have no idea quite how small they are supposed to be when you harvest them, but this is them today…


We have also added a blueberry plant to Theo’s collection of pots, this is another one we’ll be waiting a while for. It won’t produce till the end of next summer, but it’ll be lovely when it does. Blueberry plants seem to be rather “in” at the moment and several places are selling them in twos or threes so that you can have a long season of fruit spread out across varities.


Another recent addition to the garden were a couple of Griselina shrubs which I bought from our local farm shop. They are supposed to be particularly good for coastal locations so we have planted them near our seaward boundary. Unfortunately planting anything in our garden is always less than straightforward.

The land next to us which is now a nature reserve, has been at times a brick yard and a small scale tip. We’re not quite sure the part that our garden played in this, but digging down always involves a few surprises and a small hole can turn into an hour long project. Here’s a look at what I found when I dug a hole for two Griselina plants. The plastic flower pot is to give you an idea of how big the hole I was trying to dig was…not big at all!


The third hole I tried to dig resulted in an even more tricky result. A dead end essentially! Solid concrete a few inches down… I have no idea what it is, or was.


But to end on a positive note, here’s a photo of a lovely plant which I bought in the sale corner of our garden centre. It looked pretty dead when I saw it, but I googled the name and thought it might be promising and a few months on it is beautiful…. just don’t ask me what it’s called because I’ve forgotten already!


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Earlier this year we were introduced to the brilliant National Trust 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4 books. They are full of simple but wonderful childhood milestones that kids need to tick off their list. Some of them we had done already, but some we have set out specifically to achieve.

Over the summer a lovely neighbour of ours took Theo and I on a twilight bat walk with bat detectors so we could complete the “night-time nature walk” page and for Theo’s birthday we asked Jim’s dad to buy him a kite so we could introduce him to the thrill of flying one…and tick off that challenge too.


We didn’t have to wait too long for a windy day or have to travel too far for a spot to fly the kite. West Wittering beach is a short drive from us and East Head, the National Trust owned sandy spit at the end, is a lovely place to spend the morning and secluded enough that we didn’t have to worry about Theo crashing the kite into anyone.


We’d also recently been invited to try out some of Aldi’s new Mamia 100% Organic range of baby and toddler foods, so we took a hamper of snacks with us to keep the children entertained. I had worried that the Stage 1 fruit purees might be too young for Alice (who turns 1 in a couple of weeks) but as it turns out she is now able to experience the pouches in a new way by feeding herself with the contents, in fact they proved to be very useful later that week when she was teething, tired and grumpy and sachets were an excellent quick way to get healthy food into her.


Also in our package were a couple of bags of mini rice cakes and an Apple & Blackcurrant drink (recommended from 6 months) which Theo really enjoyed, though I have to say the container was quite enormous and we ended up bringing it home half full. Smaller ones of these would be really handy for days out.


The kite flying was a great success, there were no collisions and only two crashes to the ground towards the end when we weren’t paying attention as much as we should have! The kite came out of it unscathed and was very easy to fly.

We were also impressed by the new additions to the Mamia range, in particular (as you would expect from Aldi!) the fruit pouches are very competitively priced (from 59p) and handy to keep in the cupboard as a very easy transportable snack. We will be getting a few more to keep in stock next time I’m in store.

If you’re interested Theo’s ‘easy to fly’ kids kite was from Amazon. It’s currently out of stock, but this one is very similar. The new range of Mamia baby and toddler food is available from Aldi, with puree pouches for 59p (with a box of 5 for £1.79)  apple and blackcurrant drink for 85p and rice cakes for 65p.

This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia

  • October 10, 2016 - 11:41 am

    Liz Burton - Kite flying is on our list too, and I love the look of that one. We need one for the camper van!ReplyCancel

    • October 10, 2016 - 12:50 pm

      claremansell@mac.com - We need a campervan to go with the kite – I think your position could be cheaper! :-)ReplyCancel

  • October 10, 2016 - 1:32 pm

    Sandra - Looks like you had a fabulous day. You can’t beat a day at the beach with a kite at this time of year. I always manage to get the string tangled!ReplyCancel

  • October 10, 2016 - 7:14 pm

    Kirsty - What a great way to get everyone outside and in the fresh air. We live near the Downs and they have a huge kite festival on the hills. I keep meaning to go up there and fly a kite. It’s such a lovely thing to do with the kids. Great that you had easy and healthy snacks too.ReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2016 - 9:27 am

    Nichola - Globalmouse - I love Aldi, they are such brilliant value but really good quality too. I really like the sound of that bat walk too, I’d love to do that.ReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2016 - 11:13 am

    JuggleMum, Nadine Hill - I love your family photo at the end – looks like you had an awesome day out, it’s nice to get the kids outdoors. Plus I liked the title of the National Trust book: 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4 – it reminded me of a book I read as a teenager – Adrian Mole. I bet you are too young to remember that one!!! xReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2016 - 11:55 am

    Michelle Twin Mum - It’s years since I’ve been to the Witterings but I always loved them so I really must go back but the traffic at Chichester puts me off going it as a day trip. Maybe we should go now, out of season. Mich xReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2016 - 1:09 pm

    Mary Louise - Your photographs are so beautiful and i love your picnic hamper too.
    Your post reminded me of a kite we have been waiting to use. A great excuse for some family time xReplyCancel

  • October 11, 2016 - 7:21 pm

    Kate Williams - That looks like a lovely day out – I keep meaning to take my kids kite flying so thanks for the reminder!ReplyCancel

  • October 12, 2016 - 7:11 am

    Kara - I haven’t been to west wittering for years, looks like you had a fun day out and that looks like a great range of productsReplyCancel

  • October 14, 2016 - 1:05 pm

    Sonia - It looks lovely there, we love kite flying xReplyCancel