Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Monday 31 March 2014

A crafty challenge - with fabric from Hillarys Blinds

If you remember, I was recently sent some lovely fabric by Hillarys Blinds as part of a competition to design and make a craft item from a 100 x 100 cm piece of fabric chosen from one of their fabulous Country Retreat fabrics.

Fabricswatches -hub -FINAL
I chose the Wild Poppies Vermillion design and have had such fun over the last week or so making things with it.

I love a challenge so I decided to see how many items I could make from the square metre of fabric. I also decided to have a go at making or crafting things I had never made before and to use recycled materials wherever possible in addition to the sample of Country Retreat fabric I was sent (ambitious, or what!)

I have written here  and  here  about my efforts so far; this post tells you more and reveals what I managed to make. So read on...

As I looked at the very lovely fabric, the design of the flowers simply begged me do something involving a frame and paint.  So I decided to mount some of it in a frame and hang it as a picture. I selected and cut out some of the fabric and mounted it onto canvas using pva glue. When that had dried I began by adding some gold fabric paint as a colourwash over the cream background.

Mounted and waiting for inspiration

Once that had dried I then used a selection of fabric paints and metallic acrylic paints, which I got from the Scrapstore some time ago, to change the colours and alter and (hopefully) enhance the fabrics. I wanted to end up with some original artwork which reflected and echoed the pattern on the soft furnishing item I also planned to make from the fabric (but more of that later on).

The fabric before I got to work
 and after

(colours are not this orange really, I am afraid it is the artificial lighting)

I also did two smaller pictures and experimented with altering the background colour using fabric paints as well as adding paint to the surface of the fabric.

I reused some old frames from prints I found in a charity shop to add the final touches to the "paintings" I had made.

Having satisfied my painting urge I went back to playing with the fabric. I used a kit I had previously found in a charity shop from a craft magazine (Mollie Makes) which contained the materials to make a small metal clasped purse. I used "my" fabric rather than the one in the kit, and after choosing a striking flower from the design and cutting it out of the fabric, a bit of hand sewing and gluing of the clasp produced this.
Small change purse

Next I decided to make a slightly larger, zipped purse. I have put in a few zips on skirts (many years ago!) but have never made a lined purse like this. No pressure then!


The size of purse I wanted to make was dictated by the recycled small zip I had to use - so I cut out the fabric and recycled liner freehand to fit it and then put in the zip by hand, as it was a bit small and fiddly to do on the machine. I also like hand sewing! After a bit of thought and head scratching and looking around online, I worked out what to do next to sew up the liner and fabric so they would end up how I wanted it. I did actually get this bit wrong a couple of times, but that is what a seam ripper is for.

I put the right sides of the liner and patterned fabrics together (as above) and stitched around the hem.

 ...leaving a small gap in the liner to turn it all " right way round" by pulling the whole lot through the liner hole. Which is harder than it sounds!  I then hand sewed up the inner hole in the liner and stuffed the liner inside the purse having turned it the right way round.

I knew I also wanted to make a cushion and a tote bag from the material and looking at my fabric, I could see I would have around an A4 sized piece left over.

After a bit of thought I decided to make an A5 notebook cover.

I cut out the fabric so it was slightly larger than an opened out A5 hardback book and hemmed all around the edge - I used a 1 cm seam allowance.  I then folded the top and bottom over the book cover to mark where to stitch and then made a small pocket to slip the edge of the cover in each end.

Here are the notebook, metal clasp and zipped top purse waiting to be finished off. Lots of loose threads to tidy up and lots on the floor, the rug, the cats, me...

 I felt flushed with success at my efforts so far :) So I decided  to have a go at a simple envelope type cushion cover. I looked at a pillowcase and worked out how to make it and got cutting. I used a cushion pad I already had, free hand cut a rectangle of material slightly larger and then hemmed all around it.

I then turned over one end to make a pocket and pinned it , then with the rest of the fabric right side to right side I hemmed around three sides ( not the opening side, of course!) 

 Cushion waiting to have the ends sewn in, with the fabric pocket for the pad now hidden inside at the top.

I had planned to have just enough material left over to make a small tote bag which would hold a magazine and purse, phone etc. I cut two strips for the handles and hemmed them all around, folded them wrong side to wrong side and stitched along one side as close to the edge as possible.

Bag handles

I made a simple bag shape by hemming the rectangle of fabric all round, folding it in half lengthwise and then right side to right side stitching the two long sides. I attached the handles and squared off the bottom of the bag inside by stitching across the corners. I then attached the handles to the inside at the top.

 After all this flurry of activity I had some very small scraps of fabric left over - about 20 cm x 20 cm. I had to think very hard what to make with them.

 But I did use them up :)


  So - the big reveal! How many items did I manage to make from a metre square of fabric?

A cushion

Tote bag, notebook and zipped purse

Large framed painting on fabric,  next to cushion to show size


A very small fabric chicken :)

Small framed paintings on fabric

Collection of things I made

Large painted fabric

From a square metre of Country Retreat Wild Poppies Vermillion fabric I ended up making 

A cushion (35 x 30 cm)

A tote bag (30 x 40 cm)

An A5 notebook cover

A small clasp purse

A small zippered purse

1 large (35 x25 cm) painting

2  small (15 x 11 cm) paintings

and a very small chicken !


and I have two fabric scraps left over measuring about 10 cm x 3 cm which I might turn into bookmarks...

I really enjoyed making items for this competition - I must thank Hillarys for sending me the georgeous fabric to work with - I have no idea if I have satisifed the competition rules as I don't really think I have done anything "original" - all the techniques I have employed are all "out there" somewhere, but regardless of that I have really enjoyed myself. Everything I have made (apart from the chicken) was the first time I had tried to make that particular craft item.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you :) Not sure if that was really the point, but I had some fun :)

  2. Fantastic, I love this post. You did very well and got the most out of the fabric. I hope you win.

    1. MQ I would LOVE to win! But looking at some of the other entries I think it is unlikely - but still I had fun, for free and have some things to use and show for it , so in a way I have already won :)

  3. very impressed, especially loved the bag, notebook and purse :)

    1. I like the cushion, notebook and bag most - and the larger painting as I really spent a lot of thought on that and love using paint - I don't paint very often and really do enjoy it when I do :)

  4. Brilliant work well done, you should win just for being so creative, love the painting I would happily give it house room.

  5. Naturally I love the chicken. :) But I really like how each of the paintings have a different look yet complement the others. Nice!


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.