SEED coming to MCDC

Construction is underway for a new architectural installation at Manchester Craft & Design Centre


Following a design competition, Manchester Craft & Design Centre (MCDC), working with RIBA North West and its Members, are currently transforming the exhibition space in the iconic former fishmarket in Manchester’s creative Northern Quarter.

A plywood structure called SEED is being designed and constructed using digital production methods, a first for an installation of this size at MCDC. The structure is being pre-fabricated using laser-cutting techniques at Fab Lab Manchester.



SEED being made at Fab Lab


SEED being made at Fab Lab


Family-friendly launch event


The components are being made this week, with construction of the pavilion taking place in the week leading up to the free family-friendly launch event on 21st February 2pm – 5pm.

The exhibition will then run until 10th May 2015, with free entry during MCDC’s usual opening hours.


About SEED


The winning design – SEED, was designed by James Donegan (pictured above at Fab Lab this week), a student at Manchester School of Architecture. James’ elegant, contemporary design is inspired by the mathematical patterns found in nature.




SEED strains up towards the light of MCDC’s glass roof as a budding flower would, responding to the change of seasons which will take place during the period of the exhibition.

For more information visit


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Fab Lab Manchester, Manchester Craft & Design Centre






How to Make Tissue Pom Poms

Easy, pretty paper pom poms to brighten up any room


I’ve seen many beautiful home and bridal photo shoots prettily decorated by cute and colourful pom poms, so with Mother’s Day just around the corner and Spring in the air, I’ve asked our regular craft blogger Hannah from My Craftea Day to put together a tutorial for us so we can all go pom pom crazy!


Over to you Hannah ……

Hannah Wells


I love that pretty pastels are so on trend this Spring / Summer, so much so that I have decorated my own craft room and the studio at the Craftelicious Craft Café with lots of pastel tissue paper pom poms!

They are so easy to make and are perfect for adding a bit of drama or prettiness to any space.



Hang them in your windows, from your ceilings or in front of a mirror.


Craftelicious Craft Studio



You will need


  • Tissue paper – each pom pom requires at least 10-12 layers.
  • Scissors.
  • Thread (you can use coloured thread or invisible thread if you don’t want it to be seen when hung).



Pom pom tutorial


2. Unfold the paper from the pack. Most packs have 5 or 6 sheets in them.

3. Cut the all sheets of paper in half in one go.

4. Place all the layers of paper on top of each other. Fold over about an inch of all of the the paper layers (along the shortest cut edge)

5. Turn the papers over holding onto the turned edge and turn the edge back on itself about an inch again. You are creating a concertina.

6. Continue to concertina the paper until it is all folded.

7 & 8. Take a long piece of thread. Wrap it around the centre of your concertina’d paper and tie it in a knot (you may want to repeat this a few times to ensure it is securely tied around as this is what holds the pom pom together and what you hang it with).

9 & 10. Cut a curve at both ends of the concertina through all the layers.



Pom pom tuturial


You could also cut your edges into a more pointy curve to give a different shape to your pom pom (see image 16.)

11. Carefully start to peel the layers away from themselves towards the thread at the centre of the concertina.

12 & 13. You’ll need to peel half of the layers one way then turn it all over and peel back the other half of the layers towards the centre on the other side.

14. Repeat this with the concertina’d layers on the opposite side until you create a round shape.

15. Carefully fluff up your pom pom

16 & 17. Have a go at making lots of different coloured pom poms! You could also make different sizes by not cutting the paper in half at the beginning but still remember that you need 10-12 sheets to make a good fluffy pom pom!

18. Add some fun and springtime colour to your interiors!



4MCRWomen's Pom Poms album on Photobucket



Enjoy your pom poms!


Hannah x


Photographs: Hannah Wells

You can find Hannah at

Why not pop along to Craftelicious in Chorlton on a Thursday evening and join Hannah at her weekly sewing bee. Details can be found here.



Other articles by Hannah:

Handmade Valentine Cards

Festive brown paper wrapping

How to make a padded Valentine Heart






Home Is in the North

A new interiors event set to launch in vibrant Ancoats


Home is in the North


Home Is In The North, an exciting new interiors shopping event is launching for the very first time at Hallé St. Peters located in up and coming Ancoats, Manchester.

Saturday 26th April 2014, 11am – 4pm.

Built in 1859 at the peak of Ancoats industrial boom, Hallé St. Peters and its historic location will provide the idyllic backdrop to host an eclectic mix of 30 independent designer-makers from across the North who specialise in modernising traditional crafts.


Halle St Peter's Ancoats


The Exhibitors


From intricate wirework, surface pattern design, lustre glazed ceramics, bespoke upcycled lighting, fine art illustration and ideas etched in glass, many of the talented exhibitors are united and inspired by the industrial North.

Taking inspiration from key Manchester landmarks, is surface pattern designer Annabel Perrin who used the contemporary architecture of Salford Quays to create her ‘Imperial’ geometric pattern used in her cushions, footstools and fabrics.

Annabel Perin cushions


Continuing the ‘Industrial Chic’ trend is bespoke lighting designer, Richard Linford of Greymoose Designs with his upcycled lighting collection that experiments with camera tripods, sturdy steel basins modernised with colourful braided lighting cords.


Grey Moose Designs Industrial Style spot lamp


For a full exhibitor list click here.


Future Design Showcase


Home Is in the North, will also be launching ‘The Future Design Showcase’ in partnership with Manchester Craft and Design Centre, Northern Quarter concept store Fig & Sparrow and online market place What I Always Wanted.

The area has been created as a support network to give emerging artists and makers the unique opportunity to meet potential stockists in person and seek advice and guidance about building their brand.


Interactive Workshops


There is a full schedule of complimentary interactive workshops, demos and seminars taking place throughout the day. Highlights include a ‘Create Your Own Art’ workshop with interiors blogger, Kimberley Hughes of Swoonworthy, who will also be sharing her trend predictions for 2014 during a 30 minute seminar.


Home Is …… Where?


An event which brings together a collective of unusual and creative designer / makers requires an innovative approach to marketing. Therefore, to support and promote the launch of Home Is in the North, founder and creator Rachael Adams has commissioned a unique and conceptual collection of images entitled ‘Home Is… Where? ‘

Drawing on interior themes such as:

  • Waterside View
  • Industrial Living
  • Rustic Woodlands
  • Opulent Luxury
  • Suburban Independence

Five pop-up rooms were installed in five various locations within Manchester city centre and Chorlton, to explore the concept of modern home.

Whether you live in a semi-detached house in the suburbs or a converted church, hospital, mill, canal boat or even tree house, there are lots of exciting new trends that can transform even the most generic blank canvas.


Waterside View at Castlefield Basin


Home is - industrial

Photography – Stella Photography.

Interior Credits – Lisa Watson Quilts, Anthony Hughes, Greymoose Designs, Ink Inc, Manchester Mosaics, Natalie Laura Ellen Designs, Annabel Perrin Textiles, Northern Letters, Eclectic Chair, Claire Murray Designs.



Industrial Living at Greengate Square


Home Is in the North Greengate Square

Photography – Stella Photography.

Interior Credits –  Lisa Watson Quilts, Anthony Hughes, Greymoose Designs, Ink Inc, Manchester Mosaics, Natalie Laura Ellen Designs, Annabel Perrin Textiles, Sarah Evelyn Marsh, Eclectic Chair.



Opulent Luxury at Hallé St. Peters


Home Is in the North, Halle St Peter's

Photography – Stella Photography.

Interior Credits – Lisa Watson Quilts, Anthony Hughes, Greymoose Designs, Ink Inc, Manchester Mosaics, Natalie Laura Ellen Designs, Annabel Perrin Textiles, Sarah Evelyn Marsh, Eclectic Chair, Oh Bother Design, Charlotte Nash Textiles, Northern Letters, Claire Murray Designs.



Rustic Woodlands at Chorlton Ees


Home Is in the North, Chorlton Ees, Gary Lomas

Photography – Garry Lomas.

Interior Credits – Lomas & Lomas, Manchester Mosaics, Natalie Laura Ellen Designs, Eclectic Chair, Oh Bother Design, Charlotte Nash Textiles, Northern Letters.



Suburban Independence on Beech Road in Chorlton


Home Is in the North, Beech Road, Chorlton

Photography – Garry Lomas.

Interior Credits – Lomas & Lomas, Eclectic Chair, Northern Letters, Natalie Laura Ellen Designs.


Whether you are looking to spruce up your home this Spring, take part in a DIY tutorial or get invaluable advice from our event partners, Home Is in the North will be by far one of the better ways to enjoy your Saturday!




Buy your tickets


For £3.00 advance tickets visit Eventbrite and Skiddle. Excludes booking fee.

Advance ticket holders will receive a free copy of our Home Is zine.

Tickets on the door. Adults £4.00. Children Under 15 Free.

To see a full list of exhibitors and more information visit


Twitter: @HomeIsEvent



Competition Time



To celebrate the launch of Home Is in the North, we’ve got a beautiful lampshade from Home Is in the North exhibitor Lomas&Lomas.

I love these lampshades – I have two!


Sparrow Grey & Blue Lamps


The lampshade is handmade with a Sparrow design, created from a photograph of the humble Sparrow and inspired by 1960s wallpaper patterns. As the lampshades are printed in the Lomas&Lomas studio it means clients can pick any colour-way they wish to suit their interior. Colour shown Blue/Grey.


All we want to know is which is your favourite pop-up room from the photoshoot?

Me – I love Suburban Independence on Beech Road in Chorlton!

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

Good luck!


Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Garry Lomas, Stella Photography, Annabel Perrin, Greymoose Designs


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Monday 14th April 2014.

The winner must be present to collect their prize from Home Is in the North, Hallé St. Peter’s, Ancoats, Manchester (between 11am – 4pm Saturday 26th April 2014).

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Monday 14th April 2014. The winners will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions and loquax. If you are a lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.


Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

The Independent Interiors Show – win a house hamper (3rd September 2013). Winner Nichola Gill.

Indulge Fragrance Boutique – win bottles of perfume (8th September 2013). Winners Gillian Shiels, Leanne Williams, Julie Ward.

Creamline Dairies / Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast – win a Saturday Cookshop course with a celebrity chef (18th September 2013). Winner Sara Perry.

The Lounge Gallery – win a Michelle Keeling necklace (22nd September 2013). Winner Alison Ferrara.

The Perfect Princess Party – win a Princess fancy dress outfit (14th October 2013). Winner Emma Wolski.

MINILAND Manchester – win a family day pass to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester (6th November 2013). Winner Andrea Lloyd.

New trends Christmas decorations – win a John Lewis Christmas 2013 teddy (11th November 2013). Winner Rachael Barratt.

Luxurious home products – win a throw from Linen Loft (15th November 2013). Winner Chris Fletcher.

Personalised Christmas Gifts – win a personalised mug from Photobox (18th November 2013). Winners Katrina Steward, Nicola McConnell.

Bathroom makeover – win a selection of pamper products (14th January 2014). Winner Georgina Jacobs.

Travelling with Kids – win Cryin Air travel packs (22nd January 2014). Winner Lily Bowers.

Farmhouse Breakfast Week – win a breakfast hamper (27th January 2014). Winner Janet Rumley.

Easy Valentine Heart Cookies – win heart shape cookie cutters (3rd February 2014). Winner Donna Lawton.

Black Dog branches into fashion – win a designer t-shirt (5th February 2014)

Interview with Rianna Phillips – win a designer mini pouch (11th February). Winner Laura Vitty.




Thank you so much to everyone who entered our competition. The winner is Beatrice Henderson.





Handmade Valentine Cards

Express your love by getting crafty


Let’s face it, anyone can go into a shop and buy a Valentine card. But a handmade card which you’ve spent time and thought on is priceless.

We asked crafting queen Hannah from My Craftea Day to come up with an easy tutorial for us ……. but that wasn’t a tough enough assignment for her, so she came up with two!


Handmade Valentine Cards



Over to you Hannah ……

Hannah Wells


If you’re anything like me it’s sometimes hard to find that perfect ‘off the shelf’ card that says exactly how you feel about your Valentine.

In fact I find that some of them say too much or just things that I don’t relate to!

Nothing shows how much you love someone like putting time and effort into making them a handmade gift or card.


Sewn Hearts Card – What I Used



handmade card equipment


  • Sewing machine and thread or needle and thread
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Blue tack
  • Blank card and envelope
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pins (optional)
  • Fabrics – I used felt and a mixture of printed cottons. Felt is great as it doesn’t fray but printed cottons are good for adding interest and more detail to your design and look more delicate.
  • Masking tape or washi tape (optional)



Handmade Heart Card 1


On a piece of paper draw one side of a heart shape.

Fold the paper at the points where your pencil lines end.

Cut through the folded paper along your drawn line this makes sure that your heart shape is even on both sides.

To make a card with one heart – either pin the heart template in place on your fabric or draw a line around the template and cut around it.


Making a Handmade Heart Card


Open your card and remember that you will be working on the right hand side of the fold. With a pencil and ruler mark halfway between the fold line and the right hand edge of the card at both the top and bottom of card. You can rub this out later


How to make Handmade Heart Card


Place your fabric heart onto the card and with the ruler line up the centre dip and bottom point of the heart with your pencil marks.

Put a very small piece of clean blue tack behind each side of the heart to secure it in place whilst you sew. This can be removed later.

If you are using a sewing machine to sew your heart down, line the needle up with the pencil mark. Put the foot down and then stick a strip of masking or washi tape onto the sewing machine bed lined up with the right hand edge of the card. This gives you a guideline to follow so that you sew in straight line!

You can set your stitch length to whatever length you like but practice on a piece of card first! I used length 4. Start sewing off the top edge of the card all the way through to the bottom. Snip your ends of thread.

If you are hand sewing just simply try and sew in a straight line!


How to make Handmade Heart Card


Remove the blue tack and fold over the heart side to make the loose edges stand away from the card to give a 3D effect.


Handmade Valentine Card


Add your valentines message inside!


Making Handmade Valentine Card


Try different design combinations and use different fabrics to create a more interesting design.

Just make sure when you are sewing one heart that you move any others out of the way to avoid stitching them down by mistake!


Handmade Valentine Card



Thumb Print Heart Card – What I Used


To make the most unique and one of a kind valentines card that’s also easy and quick you will need:

  • Your thumb or finger!
  • Red ink pad
  • A blank card and envelope
  • A piece of paper to practice on


This card can never be replicated by anyone else as it uses your finger prints! If you are making an anonymous card though be prepared that the receiver may be able to track you down (the ink stained thumbs could be a give away!) so make sure you are sending it to someone you truly love!!

You might want to practice the instructions below onto a piece of paper first and when you feel you’ve perfected the technique move onto the final card.


Thumb print heart card



Press your thumb or finger into the ink pad.

Remember to work on the card with the fold line to the left and the opening edge on the right. In a slightly off centre position on the card and with your thumb facing away from you press down in a diagonal direction towards the fold line top left corner. (you could always use a ruler and pencil to mark the exact centre point before you start or just do it by eye).

Twist the card upside down so that the fold is on your right and the open edge is on your left. Reload your thumb with ink. With your thumb pointing back towards you, press it down  onto the card diagonally towards the open edge bottom corner, slightly crossing over the first print.


Handmade thumb print Valentine Card


You should have created a heart! Again you can try different designs with lots of hearts all over the card or even put some on the envelope! Or try with your other fingers to get different sized hearts.

Write your valentines message inside and S.W.A.L.K!

Don’t forget, if there’s no one you want to send a card to this year you could always make them for yourself as they are just quite pretty to look at anyway!




Hannah x


Photographs: Hannah Wells

You can find Hannah at



Other articles by Hannah:

Festive brown paper wrapping

How to make a padded Valentine Heart







How to – padded Valentine heart

How to make a gorgeous decorative hanging heart


It’s a long, long time since I did any sewing. I used to love making things when I was little – but somehow this creative part of me went into hibernation and never really woke up again.

So when I learned about My Craftea Day’s Sewing Bee at Craftelicious in Chorlton, I decided to give it a whirl to see if I could remember one end of a needle from another.


Craftelicious Chorlton


Other members of our group were already working on their own projects, so I had a crack at one of Hannah’s (from My Craftea Day) sewing kits. A decorative padded hanging heart seemed like a good choice with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.


Valentine padded heart


The kit came with the fabric already cut into a heart shape. But you could always sketch the shape out on a piece of paper beforehand to use as a template, pin it to your fabric and cut round.


  • Pin the two pieces of fabric together with the two right sides on the inside – making sure that your looped ribbon is sandwiched in between with the ends poking out of the top of your heart.
  • Sew the two pieces together either using a sewing machine or by hand using a back stitch.
  • Don’t sew all the way round – leave a gap so that you can turn your heart right side out and stuff it.
  • Taking care not to cut through your stitches, make small slits from the edge of fabric so that it sits smoothly when you turn it inside out. Don’t make cuts in the fabric where you’ve left the gap.
  • Carefully turn your heart inside out (trying not to sound like a Spandau Ballet single).
  • Fill your heart full of wadding and carefully fold the edges of fabric in the gap inside and stitch up the hole.

It was at this point that I realised that instead of starting on page 1 of my instructions, I’d started on page 2, so none of my embellishment had been sewn on the front of the heart with the ends neatly tucked inside the seams.

After pronouncing myself a stupid c*ck – I sewed all the lace and ribbon together and with a simple running stitch along the top where the thread was pulled tight, made a pretty little corsage. The finishing touch was a cute little button. Disaster averted!


Making a corsage

Lace & ribbon corsage


Decorative padded padded heart for Valentine's Day


Decorative padded padded heart for Valentine's Day


Two hours absolutely flew by. I’d forgotten how much I love to sew and was delighted to see that I’d not lost my nimble needle skills.

A Sewing Bee is a great way to get back into the swing of things – the company was great, there was ample space to spread out (one member of the group was working on a pair of curtains), Hannah was on hand to help with any tricky bits and there was tea and cake. But most of all there was calm which allowed you to focus on the job in hand and switch off from the distractions of everyday life.


My Craftea Day Sewing Bee’s are every Thursday (6.30pm – 8.30pm) at Craftelicious, 127 Oswald Rd Chorlton M21 9GE. There is a £5.00 charge to cover the hire of the room.

For more information contact Hannah


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples









Festive brown paper wrapping

Have yourself a thrifty little Christmas with this homemade pretty rustic wrapping paper ‘How-To’


Ever received a beautifully wrapped gift and then handed yours over wincing while mumbling that your neighbour’s two year old insisted on helping you wrap it?

Gift wrap envy? Just how do you pull off the perfectly wrapped present this Christmas?

Hannah Wells


We asked craft expert and new guest blogger Hannah Wells from My Craftea Day to come up with some pretty but thrifty ways to wrap your gifts.


Over to you Hannah ……

There are some gorgeous wrapping papers out there this year but I’m going to show you how to transform brown paper into festive, pretty and unique wrappings.


Its a chance to create ‘one off’ designs and will show that you have put as much care into wrapping their present as you did choosing their gift!


What I used


Making festive brown paper


  • Brown paper
  • Luggage tags and blank heart shaped brown card tags
  • Various festive rubber stamps (or potato and knife if creating own stamp!)
  • Ink stamp pad in red
  • Glitter glue
  • Scissors
  • Stripy string
  • Brown parcel string
  • Doilies (mini ones for smaller gifts, larger ones for bigger gifts!)
  • Bells
  • Washi tapes
  • Clear sticky tape
  • Metallic sparkly ribbon
  • Iron
  • Weights to help when wrapping (I used a candle and some paint bottles!)



Making festive brown paper


Unwrap and roll out your brown paper. You can either cut it to the size of the gift you are wrapping or work on a longer length of paper and cut later.

Iron the paper flat to make it easier to work with.



Making festive brown paper


Lay the paper flat on a table and weight it down at the corners



Making festive brown paper


Using a rubber stamp and ink pad press the stamp into the ink and onto the paper in a random format – if your present is small stamp your design closer together on the paper so you get to see more of it when wrapped.

Don’t forget to keep loading the stamp with ink either every time you stamp or every other – if you want a faded look then don’t reapply as often!


Making festive brown paper


You could cut your own pattern into a potato for a truly original design and then use either the ink stamp or paints to stamp your design.


Ink should dry quite quickly, paint will take longer.


Making festive brown paper


You could also use wooden shapes to create a pattern. I bought these in a pack from hobby craft that I’ve used to make decorations with!

I had a few left over so tried them using glitter glue instead of ink.  Put a thin layer on using a spatula and press onto the paper.  I left mine over night to dry but it probably only needs half an hour.




It’s a great way to create a sparkly more glamorous look to your brown paper!


Making festive brown paper


You could even wrap the present first and then using your finger dot little circles of the glitter glue over the parcel-be careful not to smudge!

Play around, have fun and be creative creating different print layouts on each piece of paper you have cut!

I used snowflakes, gingerbread men and star shaped stamps but you can buy so many different designs of stamps, get them custom made or make your own using the potato method!


Making festive brown paper


To continue the glamour theme stamp a brown parcel luggage label with the glitter glue


Making festive brown paper


Tie your parcel with a glittery metallic ribbon in the traditional tying technique and knot in the centre of the front of the present.


Making festive brown paper


Thread one the ribbon ends through the hole of the label.


Making festive brown paper


Tie in a bow!


Making festive brown paper


Snip the ends of the ribbon at an angle to prevent fraying.



Adding the extra little details


This year I’m decorating our house and tree in a scandi / nordic / handcrafted theme so I will be definitely making more of the hand stamped snow flakes and ginger bread men papers and won’t use so much sparkle.

To make the parcels look more interesting though I have being playing around with different decorations such as stripy strings, bells, heart shaped tags and doilies!

I absolutely love doilies! They add a vintage feel but also look like big snowflakes! Heres how to incorporate extra little details into your present wrapping.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Wrap your present with one of your stamped papers.

Place a small doily over one edge of your parcel and hold in place – you could put a small piece of scotch tape over the edges to secure if you find it too fiddly to keep in place.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Tie your parcel with brown parcel string in the traditional tying technique and knot in the centre of the front of the present.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Stamp a tag with the same stamp you used on the paper – I’ve used a brown card heart tag here.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Thread one of the string ends through the hole of the tag


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Thread a bell onto the string end. I bought these bells on eBay.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Tie the string ends into a bow and snip any excess string from the ends


Scandi Christmas wrapping


For this ginger bread man stamped paper I used red and white stripey string which I bought in hobby craft (you can probably tell by now I spend a lot of time and money in there!)

I stamped the luggage tag and threaded it and tied a bow as before. I think this looks really cute and nice for children’s gifts!



Washi tape


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Finally washi tape!!

This is my favourite sticky tape of all time. You can buy so many gorgeous designs that can make any parcels and envelopes look more exciting. I’ve even upcycled tinned cans with it to use as desk tidies but thats for another ‘How-to’!

Here I wrapped my parcel in plain brown paper.

I used three different designs of washi tape in matching colours. Just place the end of the washi at the starting point and guide it round where you want to stick it – it was fairly easy on this cylindrical pressie!

You can measure the distances from each end of the present to get it looking even or just wing it and see what design you can create if you don’t!


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Use it on your tags too!


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Use a little washi tape to secure either end of the parcel.

I stuck two pieces overlapping in a cross on here. I’ve tied this parcel with the stripy string again to keep the colours to a minimum as there is quite a lot going on!

Thread your tag onto the string and tie in a bow as the method before.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Et Voila!

Lots of pretty and interesting ways to wrap with brown parcel paper – I would love to be able to say that that’s all my wrapping done for this year but I’ve not even finished buying all my gifts yet!!



Have a crafty Christmas!


Hannah x


Photographs: Hannah Wells

You can find Hannah at














Felt Christmas tree decorations

Easy tutorial for Christmas decorations


My Christmas tree is like a map of my life. I’ve got ornaments inherited from my parents, baubles and nik-naks picked up from holidays and momentos from talented designers and makers snaffled from countless markets.

And of course I’ve got the occasional piece made by yours truly!

We asked our regular craft blogger Charlie to put together a ‘how-to’ easy tutorial for a little something to hang on your tree this Christmas.


Over to you Charlie ……



It’s time for our last tutorial of the year.

I’ve chosen something perfectly festive for you -  it’s a great one to do with the kids if you get the opportunity. One for those long days when they’re off school and are getting a little giddy and counting sleeps until Santa visits.

This tutorial features a Christmas tree, but there are lots of possibilities –  stars, bells, holly, snowmen, elves, stockings, even Santa himself if you’re feeling ambitious.


And to add a lovely Christmassy scent, I added a cinnamon stick for the trunk. You could easily pop in a couple of cloves, or some toy stuffing scented with pine oil – perfect if like me you have an artificial tree.


You will need


  • Felt in a suitable colour
  • Ribbon
  • Buttons
  • Fabric glue or needle and thread
  • Glitter or sparkly thread



Felt Christmas Tree decoration


  • To start with, choose your shape, draw it on some card and cut it out. Now you have yourself a reusable template.
  • Using your template, trace the shape onto the felt, and cut it out. For each ornament you will need two pieces.
  • Match up the pieces, and select a suitable piece of cinnamon for your trunk – but don’t stick it together yet!
  • Selecting one side, decorate it. I used ribbon and sparkly crochet thread for the ‘tinsel’ and buttons for the baubles.
  • Stitch or glue these into place – you may find stitching the buttons a little more secure.
  • Once dry or once the stitching is secure, add the ribbon or thread to hang it up with. Again, stitch or glue into place.
  • I used a gold button to cover the stitching and in place of a star.
  •  Finally, match up the back piece and the cinnamon stick and glue or stitch into place.



Felt Christmas Tree decoration


Ta-da! There you have it, one homemade decoration for your Christmas tree. Have a go, crack out the glitter and experiment.

And don’t forget to let me know how you get on!


Charlie x


Photographs: Charlie Hooson-Sykes

Charlie writes her own personal blog – Gin Fuelled Blue Stocking and is also programme secretary for the Manchester WI.


Other articles by Charlie:

How to jazz up an old jumper

Rorschach Print T-Shirt

Easy Fabric Brooch Turotial



Woman’s Weekly Live

Film Review – Now is Good

Craft events this Autumn

Christmas Crafting – top tips

Garter Stitch Mug Cosy Pattern

Top Tips for a Homemade Christmas

New Year – get crafting

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show











Five pumpkin carving tutorials

 Top tips for the ultimate scary pumpkin


This is our pumpkin – in fact we’ve grown three of them on our allotment in Sale. They’re not very big – but they’re big enough and boy, even with a small one you still get a serious amount of veg.




I’ve made vats of pumpkin soup, I’ve toasted the seeds for a healthy snack and I’ve made beef and pumpkin curry. I’ve yet to tackle pumpkin pie, but it’s on the cards!


Pumpkin Pie


But if I want to try and do something rather special for Halloween in the carving department …. well I’m a bit clueless!



Scary carved pumpkin


Scary carved pumpkins


I’ve got pumpkin envy!

So I’ve taken to the internet and found my five favourite pumpkin carving tutorials. Now I feel fully tooled up, I just need to decide which one to go for (insert chilling Halloween cackle!)



1. Basic tips for carving a scary pumpkin face


Learn the basics, from cleaning out your pumpkin, to marking on the design and carving a scary face. Well worth a watch.




 2. Tips for painting & prolonging your pumpkin!


I’d fast forward through the irritating bit at the beginning with the pretend corner store! What this tutorial does bring to the Halloween party is soaking it in bleach, rubbing it with vaseline, a power drill and painting it to look like a bat!





3. Pumpkins and power drills


Extreme over use of the term “Boom!” and “Pumpkin poker!” and the power drill only kicks in right at the end which is slightly disappointing. But you do get a rather nice witch lantern …. “BOOOOM!”





4. How to carve a 3D pumpkin


Come with me into Kenny’s workshop! Kenny lets the pumpkin tell him where it’s face is! It’s a very cool pumpkin!





5. Zombie carvings and the worlds largest pumpkin


I think this would test even the most dedicated pumpkin carver – but while this 1,818.50 llb beauty may be too much for most, for Ray Villafane it’s a walk in the park – or New York’s Botanical Garden to be precise. Watch and be impressed!





So there you go! Which one will you choose?


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: indigoprime on Flickr, Matt Mercer on Flickr, Two Short Planks on Flickr. Alison Staples













How to jazz up an old jumper

There’s life in your old clothes yet


I’m on the cusp of turning on the heating! Which means it’s time to root out all my cardigans and jumpers. If you’re a bit bored of your woollies, then here’s a great idea for how to jazz up your jumpers and cardigans.

Our resident crafty guest blogger Charlie has dived for her button box with this quick and easy upcycling tutorial.


Over to you Charlie ……

It looks like summer has deserted us, and we need to dig out our autumn wardrobe – jumpers, cardigans, all those light woolies, ready for the cooler days.

Whilst I’d all love to spend money on new knits, I’m still feeling the pinch, but I want to get the embellished look that’s in all the shops.

I just don’t want to spend £30.00 on a new cardigan, so I’ve raided my craft box and picked two knits from the wardrobe.


I’m going to show you how to give an old jumper and an old cardigan a new lease of life, for a fraction of the cost.

And more importantly, nobody else will have one quite the same.


 You will need


  • A knit, or top that needs updating – it can be old, but should still be in good condition
  • Needle and matching colour thread
  • Embellishments – I’ve used matching buttons, but beads or sequins would work just as well.
  • Clear some space at the kitchen table, dining table or living room floor. You need to start by laying the garment out flat.


How to jazz up a jumper


As you can see I have lots of blue buttons, of different sizes, different shapes and different tones of blue. I want to position these on the shoulders – a key look this season.

  • Split the coloured buttons as evenly as possible into two. I have some that are the same button, so I’ll keep the split as even as possible, but I’m happy for it to be asymmetrical.
  •  Position the embellishments – in my case, I’ve positioned some of the larger buttons around the shoulder line in a triangle. As you are positioning them, this is a rough guide.
  • Then, grab your phone and take a photo. This will help you remember where you’ve positioned your buttons for later. If you don’t mind it being more freestyle, then don’t worry about this bit.
  • Start sewing. If you prefer, you could just tack the buttons in place with a couple of stitches first, but I dived straight in.
  • Keep going, referring back to your photograph if you need to, or change things as you go, it’s your design.
  • When you’re happy with the results – then you’re done.


How to jazz up a jumper


There are lots of variations you can do, this is with an old cardigan and some contrasting colours.


 Cardigan with button embellishments


 Cardigan with button embellishments


Wear it, buy yourself a pint and enjoy – and don’t forget to let us know if you have a go!


Charlie x


Photographs: Charlie Hooson-Sykes

Charlie writes her own personal blog – Gin Fuelled Blue Stocking and is also programme secretary for the Manchester WI.


Other articles by Charlie:

Rorschach Print T-Shirt

Easy Fabric Brooch Turotial



Woman’s Weekly Live

Film Review – Now is Good

Craft events this Autumn

Christmas Crafting – top tips

Garter Stitch Mug Cosy Pattern

Top Tips for a Homemade Christmas

New Year – get crafting

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show













Contemporary Christmas gifts

Shop for handmade, individual gifts in the comfort of your own home with The Lounge Gallery


Those of you who came to our event An Oasis in the City back in July will remember Manchester designer / maker Michelle Keeling and her beautiful contemporary glass jewellery and homeware.

Enterprising Michelle is now offering the perfect alternative to high street stress this Christmas with her mobile contemporary craft gallery.

This October Michelle is launching The Lounge Gallery, offering you the chance to shop from the comfort of your own home, whilst enjoying a sociable evening with friends and family.

Sound interesting?


Over to you Michelle ……

In a nutshell, The Lounge Gallery is an opportunity to have a host of contemporary craft makers, from jewellery and textiles to glass and ceramics, brought to your home, to enable you and your friends to find something different this Christmas – maybe even over a glass of wine or two!

I have sourced a distinctive collection of work that I think will suit all tastes and pockets, and I can transform any lounge, dining room or even a kitchen into a stylish gallery.


Contemporary gift items


The venture came about after exhibiting my own glass work for the last eight years, inevitably meeting lots of other makers, and learning about their craft practices.

I’ve also worked as a freelance curator for the UK’s largest exhibition of contemporary glass, The British Glass Biennale, so The Lounge Gallery brings together the two sides of my creative practice.


Michelle Keeling glass


I enjoy the curating side of my work, because it is great to do something that introduces contemporary craft to a public audience.

With so much mass production on offer on the high street, I think people are becoming more concerned with finding something different – there is an appeal to knowing that something has been created by hand here in the UK.

Jo Lavelle silver and oxidised silver rings

That said, sometimes a gallery environment can be intimidating if you are looking for contemporary craft for the first time.

Hopefully The Lounge Gallery will make those first steps fun and accessible.

It really is as simple as it sounds.

I will be available to help you organise your event, supplying stylishly designed invites to send to your guests and bringing the display needed for the transformation.

All you need to offer is a bit of space.

With my experience, even your kitchen worktops can become a stylish display.


Host a Lounge Gallery Party


Think you don’t know enough people?!

It’s likely you’ll know four or five people who you could invite. They in turn can bring one friend with them, and you have already got a good gathering.

There are rewards too. You automatically get a £10.00 voucher towards something of your choice, just for hosting an event and this will increase depending on sales.


So what type of work can you expect from The Lounge Gallery? 


I have sourced a great selection of pieces, from fun and affordable ceramics, to statement jewellery pieces made from guitar strings, and everything in between.

I have been mindful when looking for work of selecting items that could make great Christmas presents, in addition to bringing contemporary pieces for the home.


Competition Time


We’ve got a beautiful Michelle Keeling handmade glass necklace (value £40.00) to give away to one lucky reader.

All we want to know is if you could own something handmade, what would it be and why?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

So don’t be shy – tell us what handmade item you’d love!

Good luck and I look forward to bringing The Lounge Gallery to your home soon.


Michelle x


For more information visit


Tel: 07966 425 904


The Lounge Gallery Flyer Front


The Lounge Gallery Flyer Back


Photographs: Assymetric Necklace by DeeLyn Design; Blob Bird Batman & Robin Mug by Helen Russell Creations; Silver & Oxidised Silver Rings by Jo Lavelle; Paperwork Bowls by Hannah Lobley; Glass Brooch by Michelle Keeling Glass; Bib by Parsnip & Bramble.

This blog is produced in collaboration with our friend Michelle Keeling Glass. We occasionally publish blogs funded by commercial partners.


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Friday 11th October 2013.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Friday 11th October 2013. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.


Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

Favourite wine – win tickets to see The Three Wine Men (10th March 2013). Winners Petra Hora, Julie Fisher, Ruth Houlihan.

Real Nappy Week – win a selection of real nappies (16th April 2013). Winner Sarah Fisher.

Stylish Summer Homes – win Next home goodies (6th June 2013). Winner Ann Calland.

Lady Boys of Bangkok – win tickets (8th June 2013). Winners Rachel Fisher, Catherine Anderson.

The Cruise Show – win tickets (14th July 2013). Winners Kathy Cakebread, Karen Mckend, Claire Kelly.

Sushi Making Masterclass – win a sushi making kit (30th July 2013). Winner Sarah Plant.

Cocktails & Dreams – win a cocktail making masterclass at Lock 91 (29th August 2013). Winner Nicola Robinson.

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show – win tickets (1st September 2013). Winners Claire Jackson, Pauline Rendell, Joanna Arthur, Fran Morgan, Liz Ferguson, Michelle Smith, Dil Price, Pam Gregory, Linda Weatherley
























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