Suddenly we have more spare time on our hands again. To fight the boredom, keep busy, and prepare for Christmas without breaking the bank in lockdown, it’s time to get crafty.
Since winning The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2 last year, my passion for making things has become almost a full-time job. It was also a lifeline during the first lockdown. Pinning, cutting, hemming and stitching fabrics provided an escape from the news and kept me calm.
It would be easy to get sucked into feeling fearful again. Instead, I’m going to get my craft box out — and I’d love you to do the same.
The internet makes picking up new skills surprisingly easy, even when you’re stuck at home. An impressive number of crafters generously share their skills and tips online — many with video tutorials which you can pause or rewind as you go along.
Juliet Uzor (pictured), the winner of The Great British Sewing Bee, has created a list of fun activities to keep you busy during the new lockdown
And while some people splash out on fancy gadgets, many projects simply involve recycling items you already have at home.
For children, crafting not only passes the time but builds positive memories to be shared for years to come. Easy activities like scrapbooking together, hand-making Christmas cards or world class university turning previous years’ cards into gift tags are a great way to start.
So here are 20 fun, easy and creative crafting ideas — one for every day left of lockdown . . .
1. Pom-pom wreath
Use leftover wool to make different-sized pom-poms, then attach to a ring of cardboard to make a bright, cheerful Christmas wreath. For how to make a simple pom-pom, visit sewyeah.co.uk or @sewyeah on Instagram.
This colourful pom pom wreath with brighten up your door ahead of the festive season
2. Stylish headband
Sewing your own fashionable hair accessory is easy — all you need is stretchy fabric (an old T-shirt will do), a plain plastic headband and basic sewing machine skills. See Juliet Uzor’s tutorial at youtu.be/OQ8Bu83FkKM.
3. Soap making
Great as a gift, learn to make different coloured, naturally scented bars with the Soap Making Kit, £20, hobbycraft.co.uk.
4. Macramé plant hanger
Learn the basics of macramé and create a plant holder with a kit and online course from maker’s platform Yodomo.co, £14.99.
5. Embellished wellies
Make a splash by turning boring wellies into works of art. The trick is to draw your designs with permanent paint pens, such as Posca Paint Markers, from £12.99 for four, amazon.co.uk, which won’t wash off in the rain.
Using permanent paint pens will keep the deigns on your embellished wellies looking fresh even after testing them in muddy puddles
6. Pen tidy
Give an empty tin can a useful new lease of life using fabric scraps and a few dabs of a strong glue such as Gorilla Contact Adhesive Clear (£6.25, amazon.co.uk). For a free tutorial, visit 7. Gingerbread people
Dress your gingerbread men and women to impress by cutting out little Christmas jumpers for them from fondant icing (try Renshaw Ready To Roll Icing, £2, hobbycraft.co.uk). Then use runny icing — made with icing sugar and water — to decorate the woollies with piped snowflake patterns and other details.
The fun part about these gingerbread men is dressing them up in winter clothing using icing
8. Pipe cleaner wands
children will love these super-simple magic wands. Start by threading a handful of beads onto a pipe cleaner (£2.95 for 120, Bakerross.co.uk), then bend the beaded section into a circle for the head of the wand. Next, twist another pipe cleaner around the circle to make the points of a star. Finally, thread more beads onto the rest of the pipe cleaner to make the wand handle.
9. Beeswax wraps
Recycle fabric to make reusable, zero-waste food wraps to use instead of foil and clingfilm. There is a how-to guide at hobbycraft.co.uk/ideas/decor-hobbies/how-to-make-bees-wax-wraps. Buy the beeswax and pine resin needed to make them at baldwins.co.uk.
Beeswax wraps, which can be used in place of foil and clingfilm, can be made using recycled fabric
10. Upcycled vase
Refashion an old vase by sectioning off with masking tape, then painting with sample pots of multi-purpose paint, such as Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch, £1.80 for 20ml, dunelm.com. For pattern ideas, visit makeityours.co.uk.
11. Quilling heart
Paper-curling technique quilling is a lovely way to create art or special cards. All you need is glue, cocktail sticks and coloured paper. Make a cute heart design by following the free tutorial at emilydawe.com/post/paper-quilling-a-heart.
This incredible heart picture was created by curling coloured pieces of paper
12. Sew a facemask
Make a facemask with leftover fabric, elastic and a sewing machine. Far more stylish than a disposable. See: hobbycraft.co.uk/ideas/sewing/ how-to-make-a-face-mask.
13. Stencilled stools
Brighten up wooden stools and chairs using chalk paint (try anniesloan.com) and stencils, such as those by nicolettetabram.co.uk, from £7.99.
An easy way to brigthen up bland or boring stools is to stencil bright and intricate designs onto them
Attach three pipe cleaners together in a line and connect the ends to form a hoop. Wind several more around the hoop to give it strength. Now weave wool around the hoop to make a spiderweb effect. Then add feathers, beads and homemade wool tassels to more lengths of wool and tie them so they dangle underneath your dreamcatcher.
15. Felt tip calligraphy
Calligraphy is easy with brush-style felt tip pens. Learn with Brush Lettering, by Rebecca Cahill Roots (Batsford Ltd), £11.65, amazon.co.uk. Use your new skills on cards and gift tags.
Learning calligraphy with brush-style felt-tip pens will come in handy when it comes to writing card gifts and tags
16. Candle making
Why buy expensive scented candles when you can make your own? Candle Making kit, £30, hobbycraft.co.uk, contains enough for three candles.
17. Advent calendar
Create your own advent calendar with house-shaped boxes to print out and make. Download a pattern for £12 at emilydawe.com/shop, then print the boxes on paper or card, cut them out, fold and stick together. Alternatively, a ready printed kit costs £20. Fill with chocolates or make-up — but start early.
Another activity suggested was to create your very own advent calendar (pictured)
18. Window art
Whether you choose festive stars and holly leaves, or let the children doodle, drawing on windows with white liquid chalk markers (from £3.49, ryman.co.uk) is great fun and your designs will simply wipe off with a wet soapy cloth afterwards.
19. Pretty plant pots
Transform plain terracotta pots by drawing designs and patterns with white paint or paint marker pens, such as Posca Paint Markers, £12.99 for four, amazon.co.uk.
Drawings and patterns help to brighten up these standard plant pots and add an element of character
20. Potato-print paper
Save money — and the environment — by printing your own patterns on to brown parcel paper using humble potatoes. Cut a potato in half, then cut or score a design — such as stars for Christmas or balloons for birthdays — into the flat side to make a stamper. Dip it in any kind of paint then press it all over your paper to create your design. For more paint projects, visit anniesloan.com.
Juliet Uzor hosts the un:CUT crafting podcast. Her tips and tutorials can be found at sewsonatural.com, on her YouTube channel, and on Instagram at @julietuzor_
Interview by Jenny Wood