DIY etched jar tutorial

Etched glass jar tutorial | Seeds and Stitches

Hannah here: It's been a little while since we had guest post here on the ol' blog so we are chuffed to present this etched glass jar tutorial from the ace Alexis from Something I Made. Alexis has used this technique to make Marmalade jars, but you can use them to make any preserve jars, or scented candles, button jars, odds and sods jars etc. Over to Alexis!

We are jar hoarders! Saving up any jars we can either for our own produce, marmalade or chutney or to pass on to other prolific jam-makers in our family. 

I had been thinking for a while that it would be good to have a go at etching some labels onto some of our stash for this years marmalade. (I say 'this years' as if we always make it - which we don't; but we do fully INTEND to make it - which is almost the same thing!)

 You can buy glass etching cream online - you only need a tiny pot as a little cream goes a long way. I got some Armour Etch which worked brilliantly.  

You could just paint it freehand straight onto your jars but I decided to make some stencils - the blurb I got recommended using blue peters old favourite - sticky backed plastic - but I found that tricky cut so I used some multipurpose labels from our local stationery shop instead which worked just fine. 

You have to wear rubber gloves to use the cream but the process really couldn't be simpler - such an easy and satisfying craft! You only leave the cream on for a minute so it's great for impatient people like me.

As well as the writing I also did a few generic shapes which I etched onto the jars so they can be used for anything else over the year. I'm tempted to do all our store cupboard jars and I think our family *might* be receiving some custom etched jars for presents... I might just have found my favourite craft activity ever.

Materials:

  • Old jars
  • Armour Etch glass etching cream
  • Rubber gloves
  • Multipurpose sticky labels
  • Printer
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler

Process:

  1. First make your stencil. either draw a freehand font onto the label or choose a nice font. Print these onto your labels. 
  2. Using a craft knife carefully cut out your letters
  3. Stick the sticker onto the jar
  4. Apply glass etching cream and follow instructions
  5. Remove sticker
  6. Fill jar with preserves, hot wax to make a candle, spices, buttons etc etc. 
Etched Glass jar tutorial | Seeds and Stitches blog
Etched Glass jar tutorial | Seeds and Stitches blog
Etched Glass jar tutorial | Seeds and Stitches blog

I didn't get this tutorial in time for my marmalade making last month sadly, but we used our trusty BBC recipe and it turned out great in all it's tangy deliciousness, yet again. 

Seville orange marmalade making | Seeds and Stitches blog
Seville orange marmalade making | Seeds and Stitches blog
Seville orange marmalade making | Seeds and Stitches blog
Seville orange marmalade making | Seeds and Stitches blog

March's Sunday Supplement: 10 wonderful things to make, do and celebrate in the month ahead.

(She's singing to the crocusses!)

(She's singing to the crocusses!)

Morning all! This is an excerpt from our Seeds and Stitches Sunday Supplement. March! The month of spring! What a glorious month this is. The ground is already teeming with new life, evidenced in the delicate cups of the crocuses shyly opening toward the sun, and the hanging heads of snowdrops bobbing in the wind. Daffodils are starting to bloom and the bird song is starting to intensify by a few decibels in the garden too. If you manage to catch the sun in a windless moment, it feels gently warm on your face, a sweet promise of what’s to come.

Here are 10 wonderful things to make, do and celebrate in the month ahead!

  1. March is the month that spring officially arrives in the UK and it’s a great cause for celebration! Decorate with locally grown spring flowers and bulbs. Have a digging party with friends in the garden or allotment and prepare the ground. Repay the favour by providing brunch/lunch/dinner/booze/all of the above, or just have a spring party for the hell of it. We can’t think of a better reason for a party, can you?
  2. Start planting! Hurray! Most flowers and vegetables can be started indoors this month, ready to be transplanted outside in the next couple of months.
  3. Go on a daffodil walk  visit the snowdrops in the woods, note the abundance of cyclamen and acolytes and seek out the crocuses too. (The Crocuses at Kew look gorgeous!) 
  4. March means Mothers Day. Make or bake something handmade to show your appreciation for your mum, granny or someone who has been a ‘mum’ to you. Davina has a sweet DIY mothers day idea over on the blog this month to use children's drawings to make earrings!
  5. Alternatively for Mothers day this year, focus on experiences rather than things. Spa days and afternoon teas are pretty much exclusively marketed to mums at this time of year and they’re wonderful things to do, but also kinda boring and a bit sexist. Consider something a little different. Book tickets to an interesting talk, gig or show. Buy a membership to the National Trust, or take a spring picnic and go for a walk up a mountain.
  6. March also means International Women’s Day. Get together with your female friends to celebrate and raise awareness of gender inequality. Watch a film that passes The Bechdel Film Test. Have a discussion about what feminism means to you. Identify some practical actions you can take.
  7. Spring is so exciting for young children! Go flower spotting with them and help them to make little pebble walls around fragile spring flowers. Read books and sing songs about Spring. 
  8. Start preparing for Easter! Make Easter decorations, collect branches for an Easter tree, practice baking an Easter ring bread.
  9. Go to WOW festival! Eeek it’s this month! Davina and I will have a craft stall there on the Sunday, so come say hi!
  10. Make a pussy willow wreath for the front door

Psst, this is just part of the Sunday Supplement that is emailed out on the first sunday of the month, to subscribe, click the link in the side bar!

A (scary!) new thing we’re doing: Club Milk

Elfie and Frankie dancing, photo by Wild Fox Portraits | Seeds and Stitches blog

Hannah here. Davina and I have wanted to run events of all sorts since we started blogging together. We both love celebrations of any kind and the idea of actually interacting with people (rather than our laptops!). We are super chuffed to be working on something really exciting with our friend Jo from Hope & Hops. She’s a stellar events planner and we’re combining our skills to put on our first joint event (eek!), a family disco called Club Milk. It is basically our dream event. There’ll be a proper DJ playing wicked music thats not too loud, a bar and lots of sensory neon things for the kids to play with. There will also be a chill out space, feeding area, changing area, buggy park and healthy snacks. It’s in a lovely big space, and (I'm really excited about this bit!) there will be side rooms offering  free parent and baby yoga sessions, a sensory story telling time and an ace Photo Booth. I’m styling the event and making all the decor.  EEEEK!

Frankie dancing

Davina and I both love dancing, and especially with our kids. In fact, having kids has taught us the sheer joy of dancing, for no other reason than just ‘cause. Frankie loves, and I mean LOVES it. She insists that I join her at least three times a day. Any music, any time, any place. And that girl has some serious moves, guys. She likes the music that Dave and I like, especially live music, but it’s really difficult to find live music or gigs where kids are welcome. Festivals are a notable exception but they’re mostly in the summer, quite infrequent and somewhat expensive. So we’re hoping to rectify that with Club Milk. I am half incredibly excited about it and half pee my pants scared about it.

It’ll be in the centre of Faversham (5 mins walk down the high street from the station)  on Saturday 14th March from 3-5.30. Tickets are 7 quid and you can get all the details and ticket info on the Facebook Page . This is also where we will be celebrating Frankie’s third birthday! THREE! So you’re totally all invited! 

London types, this would make a lovely day trip. Pop to Whitstable or Margate for the morning, have some fish and chips on the beach then head to Faversham (10 minutes away) for the afternoon?! Local friends, you have no excuse ;) Let us know if you'll be joining us so we know to look out for you! 

Happy Friday folks! 

A Beginner's Guide to Cloth Nappies and Wipes

Davina here - Both Hannah and I are big fans of cloth nappies and wipes and have used them for all our girls. I will be honest and tell you that I don’t just LOVE reusable nappies because they are better for the environment, mean your child will potty train sooner and save us money (especially now we are using them the second time round) but I also love them because of the way they look!! I love the bright bold colours and patterns and the fact that in the summer time they can be worn alone and look amazingly cute! 

Some facts about Cloth Nappies:
According to a government report published by the Environment Agency in October 2008 reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies. Paper (disposable) nappies often take up to 200 years to degrade and its estimated that each baby will use 4,000!

6 Tips on how to make Reusable Nappies even greener:

  1. Invest in an energy-efficient washing machine.
  2. Line dry nappies rather than relying on the tumble dryer.
  3. Buy used washable nappies - this will save you money too and make the most of the nappies. I am using mine for a second time now with Bonnie and they are just as good as new.
  4. Reuse your nappies for second and third etc child.
  5. Wash all nappies at the same time and use lower washing temperatures. I wash mine at 30 degrees, which many people are shocked by but they come out smelling and looking clean.
  6. Choose greener nappy liners - if you use nappy liners in your washable nappies, try to choose washable, biodegradable or compostable versions. I use biodegradable Ultra liners.

What equipment you need for cloth nappies and wipes:

  • Cloth Nappies
  • Liners (optional)
  • Large wet bag for storing used nappies
  • Travel wet bag
  • Cloth wet wipes (optional)
  • Colourful Muslin cloths (optional - see No Nappy Time)
  • Leg warmers (optional - see No Nappy Time)
  • Flask (optional - see cloth wipes and DIY Baby Bum cleanser)
  • Bowl (optional see cloth wipes)
  • Marigold tea (optional - see cloth wipes and DIY Baby Bum cleanser)
  • Coconut oil - great for sore bums!

Choosing your cloth nappy brand:
There are so many cloth nappies on the market and so many different types - all in ones and two parts that require waterproof wraps. Many councils run free talks on cloth nappies, where you can see different variations of nappies and discuss pros and cons of each type. Some councils will also give you a finical contribution towards your cloth nappies. Lewisham gave me £30. We went for Fuzzibunz because they are all in one nappies so less fuss and I love the bold plain colours. 

12 Tips on using Cloth Nappies:

  1. If you choose a ‘One Size’ nappies it may take a few trails to get the sizing right and you will know if not fitting correctly as your baby will have leaks.
  2. Change nappies regularly to avoid leaking - I change mine every 2.5-3 hours (because of this we use paper nappies at night so not to wake Bonnie up by changing her nappy)
  3. Consider using washable paper liners. If your baby does a poo then the liners catch a lot of it and you simply flush it down the loo! But if they only do a wee then you wash it and reuse it - brilliant.
  4. Store all the dirty nappies in a special nappy wet bag that when full you simply load into the washing machine so you don’t have to touch soiled nappies. (if you use nappies that have inserts you need to remove inserts before placing in wet bag. 
  5. Don’t use fabric softener as it also clogs up your cloth nappies and stops them from being absorbent.
  6. Use an environmentally safe washing laundry liquid and only half what you would normally use to stop clogging up of nappies.
  7. Don’t hang your nappies on direct heat if they have elastic in them (heat damages elastic)
  8. Encourage your baby to poo out of the nappies to avoid washing. See No Nappy Time.
  9. When out and about use a small travel wet bag for dirty nappies
  10. Use shower to spray poo off nappies before putting in wet bag (or soak them). 
  11. If you do get any stains on nappies then place in direct sunshine to remove stains. 
  12. Don’t use nappy creams as these will clog up your cloth nappies and stop them from being absorbent (see DIY Bum Cleanser)

Using Cloth Wipes:
I have to admit that I didn’t use reusable wet wipes with Elfie - I just thought it was too much effort when using cloth nappies and too much washing in a small flat but I am using them with Bonnie and love them! She is 12 weeks old now and I haven’t bought a single pack of wet wipes and I wish I’d known how easy they were to use with Elfie. They are particularly easy to use if you are using cloth nappies as you just throw the dirty ones in with dirty nappies and wash them all together. I also take advantage of having to ‘wet’ them myself and use warm water - warm flannel to clean your baby’s bum - how nice!

So firstly a bit about disposable wipes:
I always thought they were made from paper but after reading Green Living Tips on wet wipes I learnt that they are actually made from silk, cotton, polyester, wool, rayon, polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene – or a mixture. The cheaper the wipes the more chance they are made mainly from plastic - meaning they too take years and years to degrade in our landfills. The cleaning products that are used contain a range of chemicals, which may not be bad for humans but can be toxic for land ecosystems. 

4 Tips on using Cloth Wipes:

  1. Most cloth wipe manufactures suggest keeping your wipes damp in a container similar to plastic tupperware but I find they quickly go a bit smelly if you do this and like to keep them dry and wet them when I need to.
  2. I like to use warm water as I think its nicer for the baby especially in the winter months. If you don’t have your baby changer next to sink (like I don’t) use a flask of hot water and simply poor how much you need to dampen a wipe into a bowl. This will mean the bowl is empty once the wipe is wet and therefore ready for next use. (if cleaning a poo then wash bowl afterwards just to be safe).
  3. Make the wipes smell nice by adding some essential oil to the water (either in tub or in flask)
  4. After use simply put in dirty nappy bag or if soiled then soak and spray excess poo of with shower. 

DIY Calendula bum cleanser:
Calendula is renowned for being good for nappy rash and is the oil from marigold flowers. You are recommended not to use nappy creams with cloth nappies as they clog the nappies up and stop them being so absorbent. But what you can do is make you own Calendula cleaning solution by simply making marigold tea (you can buy this from health food shops or tea merchants). If you like the flask idea then poor it into a flask when still hot and it will make the wipe nice and warm too and well as bing good for preventing nappy rash.

No Nappy Time:
Cloth nappies are quite chunky and do feel damp on babies’ skin unlike disable nappies that use chemicals to stay dry. Because of this I’ve always thought it was important to give babies No Nappy Time, which essentially means time to play with no nappies on to let their bums breathe. We do this at least twice a day. I always let Bonnie have no nappy time on a mat on the floor when I shower and before her bath time. She loves the freedom and her bum seems to love it too. In the winter you can use baby leg warmers to keep their legs warm and always put a muslin cloth underneath bum to catch wee and poos. If you do this religiously like me you may also notice that they will save up their poos for this time and this will mean less nappies to clean! Hurray! And I think its also really nice for them not to have poo nappies and helps with early potty training. 

Tip for No Nappy Time: 
Use colured muslin clothes and wash with nappies. Save white ones for burping and that way you know which ones have been washed with nappies and therefore which ones not to use to clean baby sick up with from their mouth!

We hope this information is useful and if you have any tips we'd love to hear them so please do add a comment.

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A photoshoot with Wild Fox Portraits, and a plea for unisex kids clothes.

Elfie in Boys and Girls + Clarks, shoot by Wild Fox Portraits for Seeds and Stitches blog.

Hannah here: Last week, we got to hang out with Davina and her girls. We made pancakes, crafted some cards with the kids, talked shop in 30 second snippets, watched Elfie and Frankie play ever so sweetly together, broke up a few fights and drank countless cups of tea. My mister came to take some photo’s of us all for the blog, as we haven’t got any of us together. He recently launched a side business- Wild Fox Portraits- taking natural, non-posed family photography and we thought it would be nice to capture our girls together. 

Ellie and Frankie in Boys and Girls + Clarks shoot by Wild Fox Portraits for Seeds and Stitches blog.

We decked them out in some sweet gear and kicks from two brands we work with, Boys and Girls and Clarks. 

Boys and Girls are a unisex, Fairtrade and organic kids clothes brands. They tick literally all of our boxes, and consistently come out with some brilliantly designed stuff.  We were also invited to work with Clarks too, and Davina and I separately chose the same pair of shoes in different colours for our girls! We love the shoes and they are really well made but they are actually in the boys department. This led to an interesting and productive email exchange with Clarks. We have passed on our feedback to the Clarks bosses that it isn’t necessary to gender kids shoes. They listened. There is a groundswell of opinion that supports this view. We gently pointed them in the direction of the brilliant #LetToysBeToys, campaign,  the postscript obviously being #LetShoesBeShoes. We explained that we are still happy to work with them because the shoes are  good quality, fit our kids growing feet really well, will last for as long as their feet fit into them and are very pass-on-able (yeah made it up) to other boys or girls in future. But it was important to us that they heard our feedback. 

Ellie and Frankie in Boys and Girls + Clarks, photography by Wild Fox Portraits for Seeds and Stitches blog.

Why unisex?

We choose gender neutral kids clothes for our girls every day. Well, actually they like to dress themselves which we smile through gritted teeth about,  but we make sure the choices in their wardrobes are pretty unisex. Neither of us are opposed to girly clothes; on the contrary; we love a bit of glitter and glamour with the best of them, and so do our girls, but we strongly feel that restricting women and girls only to pink princess, overly made up,  frilly crap is not only intensely boring but damaging too. Marketers are very very clever at making young girls believe that they need to fit into a pink princess box that pleases society. This box is based mostly on how girls look, and there is a plethora of horrible social ills as a result. Individual cases of kids books containing only male characters, or science sets being advertised as boys toys, or princess symbols blazoned across girls clothing, can easily be dismissed as inconsequential. But, like individual drops in an ocean, put them together and it amounts to a pretty frightening tidal wave of ‘You Must Conform’ pressure’ on our kids . 

Elfie, Bonnie and Frankie in Boys and Girls + Clarks, photography by Wild Fox Portraits | Seeds and Stitches blog.

So yes. It does matter to us that our girls feel able to choose whatever they want to wear, and actually, that what they wear and how they look is really not that important anyway. Practically we try to model this behaviour to them in how we dress and talk about our appearance, honour their autonomy in what they want to wear, keep TV (and it’s inherent advertising) to a minimum and we also make sure that as much as possible they feel able to dress and behave in a way that isn’t dictated by kids marketers. Which brings us neatly back to gender neutral kids clothes.  Gothenburg was full of amazing gender neutral kids clothes that were also made from organic or recycled fabrics and it made me feel a bit sad about the state of things in the UK. Shops, clothes, books, toys, and even nappies for goodness sake, seem to be hyper-gendered. WHY aren’t more companies promoting gender neutral kids stuff?!

Elfie, Bonnie and Frankie in Boys and Girls + Clarks, photography by Wild Fox Portraits | Seeds and Stitches blog.

Actually I know the answer to that. It suits them very nicely that most high street shops are highly segregated into boys and girls departments.  If parents buy pink toys, clothes, and books for girls and blue toys, clothes, and books for boys,  it means if parents have other kids of different genders, then they will probably feel they have to buy a whole new set of clothes, toys and books for them. This is not only bad for the planet, but bad for our wallets too, and encourages kids down a highly consumerist path.  Having kids doesn’t have to be horribly expensive if you can resist the lure of the marketers. We aren’t claiming to be perfect in all the ways we list above but we are conscious of it and take tiny steps every day to try to resist it. Including filling our kids wardrobe with a good choice of well made gender neutral clothes.

Crafting with the kids, photography by Wild Fox Portraits | Seeds and Stitches blog.

What started as a post about some nice photo’s and some wicked kids clothes and shoes has turned into quite the rant. Oh well, there you go. What are your favourite gender neutral kids clothes brands? We are always on the look out for more so please let us know in the comments.

To celebrate the launch of Wild Fox Portraits my mister is giving away of a free shoot (!!!) in a giveaway over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. He is also running a 20% Mothers day discount throughout March too, so if you fancy some nice family shots, get in touch with him. They’d make a sweeeet Mothers day gift, eh?

Photography by Wild Fox Portraits | Seeds and Stitches blog.

Post in collaboration with Boys & Girls and Clarks, and in gratitude to Wild Fox Portraits.