Posts tagged ‘crappy crafting’

December 24, 2015

A very fruity Christmas

After the runaway train mayhem of me trying to teach Jane Garvey how to sew on Woman’s Hour earlier this year, BBC Radio 4 saw fit to reunite the double act, so I went over to Jane’s house and we tried to make Christmas decorations out of dried fruit. Frankly I showed little aptitude for fruit sculpting, but I had Great Fun Trying. You can hear it here, if you want to throw together some fruity decorations in time for Christmas.

There’s one last episode of The Allusionist for 2015, in which I tackle some of the listeners’ requests for etymology and word advice:

And I’ve just finished the biggest editing job of the year: the annual Best of Answer Me This compilation. Assembling the montage of drunk, plaintive and misbegotten voicemails is my favourite task every year. Here are a couple from years past:

April 6, 2015

krappy krafting: kimono

Today, I had the ridiculous joy of appearing on Woman’s Hour‘s craft special. They asked me to teach Jane Garvey how to sew something on air; as the shops are presently full of diaphanous kimono-style bed-jackety garments, I decided we’d make our own, using three vintage square scarves from my ever-expanding collection (a few months ago I did try to count them, but stopped at 70).

I worship Jane Garvey, but ‘interest in craft’ is not one of her strong points. Watching her wield huge scissors and adopt the unconventional ‘Look, no hands!’ approach to machine sewing, I felt like a novice lion tamer on my first job.

Click here to hear the programme, and click the photo below to zoom in on the tutorial for making one of these very simple garments. I promise they are a lot more straightforward than we made them sound.

kimono tutorial Woman's Hour

Here’s one I made earlier, flapping about in a high wind. There are French horns on the front, medieval men on horseback on the sleeves, and a massive striped Z on the back.


November 28, 2013

The Peckham table

Here’s an easy DIY furniture hack you can do:

• STEP 1. Step into your time machine and move to Peckham from 2004 to 2006.

• STEP 2. On the corner of Bellenden Road and Chadwick Road is a junk shop with some excellent furniture outside (don’t go inside, because it absolutely reeks of dog piss). Buy a large wooden toolbox for £5, because soon that junk shop will be replaced by a key-cutters that does not smell of urine, but is otherwise nothing to be excited about.

• STEP 3. Note how people flytip the good stuff by the big tree at the corner of Chadwick Road and Lyndhurst Way. One night, pick up a black footstool. Rest your feet on it for several years until it starts leaking yellow foam all over the floor.

• STEP 4. Return to the present day.

• STEP 5. Remove the remaining foam and shreds of upholstery from the stool’s top, avoiding all the rusty nails because you don’t want to contract a blood disease.

• STEP 6. Sand the stool legs, then paint with emulsion – I used two coats of Habitat’s Kingfisher. Finish with clear varnish.

• STEP 7. Plonk the toolbox on top.

• STEP 8. Plonk other things on top of your new side-table.

Peckham table

November 29, 2012

crappy crafting: sock gloves

It’s cold in here. Too cold even to type. Fortunately, just about uncold enough to grasp scissors and socks, cut ten holes, and lo –


Even when they’re just made out of an old pair of Primark socks, wearing elbow-length gloves is very fancy. I feel like George Peppard’s cougar ‘decorator’ in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

March 15, 2012

Button it

A very basic bit of making this week:
old buttons + earring backs + Superglue = earrings

All components made by somebody else (I don’t fancy my chances at brewing my own Superglue), so my role was about as creative as assembling flatpack furniture. But, I’m going to a wedding on Saturday which promises to be very spangly, and I needed some mock jewels in a hurry.

Living in Crystal Palace, I have a magnificent source for old buttons: the Haynes Lane Market. Tucked away behind the Sainsburys, it is the kind of place that is virtually extinct now, a scaled down combination of the dear departed Kensington Market (now a PC World) and Greenwich outdoor market (now a boarded-up building site). In summation, it is a two-storey treasure trove of random old shit.

If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, withdraw a fistful of cash then pop in there for a rummage. There are so few places remaining where in one sweep you can snap up 1960s teapots, Georgian fishknives, Deee-Lite shoes and Arctic Explorer outfits for Ken dolls; so let’s support them while they’re still in business.