tilly makes & bakes

Always striving to achieve a state of domestic bliss!


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Festive jar lights

These little jam jar tea light holders are such a quick and easy craft idea for this time of year. I made these last year and just found the pictures I took. I made these with 7 year old children and they loved how easy they were to make and yet how effective they looked once finished.

We used star shaped stickers, snowflake die cuts made with a simple hole puncher, white tissue paper stuck on with pva glue, ribbons and craft wire to decorate. Don’t they just get you in a Christmassy mood?!


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In with the old…

I found these lovely photo frames and vintage bottles in a second hand shop today. They were a total bargain and I am so excited to do something with them. I especially love the golden frame. I’m thinking the frames would look lovely with some vintage pieces of wallpaper to match other soft furnishings.

The bottles lend themselves to all sorts of projects such as spraypainting them in bright colours (turquoise? yellow?) with enamel paint. There are loads of ideas for using old jars and glass bottles here.

Alternatively, filled with a bit of home made blackcurrant brandy, these would make beautiful Christmas gifts. Hmmmm!


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And the festive sewing begins…

Last year I made a personalised stocking for my Hannah. I started off with a shop bought felt stocking kit and just sewed the pieced together by hand, adding little personalised touches and embroidering her name on. This is a photo showing some of the pieces before sewing them all together.

I was so pleased with the end result- not bad for a first attempt, don’t you think? I got hooked on the embroidery as it was so easy and quick to do. Running out of time, I used a shop bought felt stocking and embroidered my nephew’s name onto that. It literally took me about 30 minutes to do.

Felt is really easy to work with, especially for a beginner like me and if you don’t have a sewing machine to hand. I actually taught myself some simple stitches using this children’s craft book. It has simple illustrations, clear step by step instructions and some lovely ideas for projects.

Naturally, I need to make one of these for my baby girl’s first Christmas this year. I have all my materials ready to go and am just waiting for a bit of peace and quiet to get going… I am hoping i will be able to make a start this weekend.

Fabric sample for the pocket

I am going for a different fabric for the pocket this time to make the stockings for the girls a bit more individual. I just love this material from Emma Bridgewater. The design is called “Joy”. I thought the little holly leaves and berries are very fitting for my little girl. Can you guess what her name is?

Looking forward to spending many happy hours stitching this thing together in the run up to Christmas.

And who knows, maybe I will find one of these under the tree this year?

I have been a very good girl, after all!


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Ding dong merrily on high

I start obsessing about Christmas at around about the end of August each year. It is now early November and my plans and ideas are going into overdrive!

In my opinion, a well wrapped gift is one that you are afraid to open so as not to damage the precious paper and decorations it was oh so carefully encased in. Today I managed to find some really simple, stylish and eco friendly wrapping ideas using brown packing paper and brown paper bags. After a quick trawl on ebay I got everything I will need and spent just under a tenner. Not only will I be able to involve my older daughter in printing some wrapping paper using Christmas cookie cutters,  my presents will just look so expensive and special. Oh I just can’t wait to get those pressies wrapped (err, yes i have got some Christmas presents already).

Some of the goodies I will be using are brown paper lunch bags, rolls of brown packing pape,r gold candy stripe paper bags, white die cut snowflake shapes, cookie cutters, acrylic paints in gold, silver and white, ribbons to match.

I will be using these images for inspiration:

Christmas wrap

Christmas wrap (Photo credit: Gemma Garner)

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String

(Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

How many sleeps til Christmas?


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3 years of birthday cakes

My older daughter turned a whole 3 years old in the middle of October…where has that time gone? (a popular saying with parents the world over).

So far, I have been committed to making her a home baked birthday cake every year and I intend to carry this tradition on until she asks me to stop. Maybe never?? My husband thinks I’m mad when I spend hours baking, carving shapes out of cake and decorating them whilst working up a sweat in a hot kitchen. Why not just buy a perfectly good cake, save time and probably spend less money?

The answer is that to me, a home made birthday cake is more than simply butter, sugar, eggs and flour. To me, it’s…well, love!

So whilst reminiscing about the last 3 years, here is a gallery of my creations thus far. I wonder what she will be into next year…!

First birthday- a mouse cake.

A joint first birthday cake for my daughter and her little friends.

For her second birthday I made a giant cupcake which was red on the inside.

The big THREE- a Peppa Pig cake.


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Tea time canvas

The other day I had a few hours without the kids on a Saturday and it felt like pure and utter luxury! Those kinds of days don’t some along too often now. So, apart from doing a little happy dance, I also managed to finally make a wall canvas to brighten up my big little girls’ bedroom. There was just one wall that was still lacking a bit of interest. I gathered a canvas, a few leftover wall stickers to match the theme in her room, a piece of gingham fabric, acrylic paints and a few other bits and bobs and got going. This is the end result:

I am really pleased with how it turned out and my little madam likes it. You could easily do this with any theme or leftover bits and pieces.

I think it’s important to stick to just 2 or 3 main colours, otherwise your canvas can easily end up looking far too busy. This is especially the case when using lots of different textures and materials as I did here. Initially, I had sage green bunting pieces but then decided it was too much and in the end I stuck with just pink and blue as the main colours. I can recommend laying out a design first so you can see how it will look, rather than randomly sticking on bits straight away. Talking about colours, make sure you always mix, mix, mix your own shades of paint!! I can’t remember a time when i have ever used paint straight from the tube. Even just a drop of white can soften down a colour to exactly the right shade. A bit of brown always tones down any colour which would otherwise be too bright. In order to get your background colour nice and even, use a clean dishwashing sponge to wipe the paint on.

Apart from adding interest to my little one’s room, making this canvas was sooo relaxing and therapeutic. I love it when you get completely engrossed in a little project and just for an hour or two the most important decision you have to make is, “Pink bunting or green bunting?”.