Christina Sparkle

  1. Cotton Anniversary Ideas


    Today is our second wedding anniversary! Woohoo! That means almost 9 years in total. Wowzers. Second wedding anniversary is considered the cotton anniversary so here’s some of the things I’ve been considering as a cotton anniversary gift. Cotton seems like the perfect excuse for a DIY or craft gift, I tried to combine that idea with Andy’s love for maps and my love for initials/type which resulted in lots of ideas to choose from.

    1 Cotton Candy necklace // 2 Cross stitch portrait // 3 Map fabric // 4 Embroidered art // 5 Personalised cushion cover // 6 Embroidered map hoops


  2. What to do with your wedding stuff after your wedding


    This coming week is our second wedding anniversary which means our wedding was, like, AGES AGO, and I really should stop going on about it now but there are a few of things I wasn’t able to find advice on anywhere else on the interwebs that I thought I might share my advice for. Number one being what to do with all the wedding paraphanalia after the wedding.

    Once the big day was over we had a couple of big boxes of leftovers (as well as all the glorious photos from family/friends and the official photographer). This included: a bag full of ribbons from our backdrops; scraps of fabric from my dress and the bridesmaids dresses; all the lovely notes and cards people sent us;  all of the left over favours, menu cards and order of service cards; chalk boards and frames and way way more.

    These were all things we had crafted ourselves especially for the wedding, they were the tangible elements to the whole day. I didn’t want to throw them away, but also I didn’t want them to stay stuck in a box to be forgotton forever. So, here’s what we did with some of them:

    1. Give away framed photos as gifts

    Our wedding was at the end of August, we got our photos back about a 8 weeks later, just in time to print them for Christmas. Now, we were aware that this could be seen as the biggest ego trip ever but we tried to be a little balanced and chose to give photo gifts to only our close family members who we were pretty confident would have liked a nice set of photos from the day.

    We gave framed photos as Christmas gifts to our parents and grandparents, alongside more personal gifts and in all situations we gave one large photo which featured the gift reciever (e.g. Grandparents got a whole family photo with uncles, aunties, cousins and all) and a smaller photo of just Andy and I. My mum actually felt that two wasn’t enough and ended up with about 10 photos. We also gave Andy’s parents access to all of the digital photo files so they could print as many as they would like for themselves. Perhaps we underestimated how many photos our family really wanted?

    We bought the frames inexpensively from Ikea. I always buy white frames for everything because I think a frame should be almost invisible to let the photgraphy or art shine out. These frames have just enough detail to be cute, but not too ornate.


    2. Make a scrapbook

    What better way to keep all of the cards and guest notes than in a scrapbook? I tried to fit all of the cards in the scrapbook but there were just too many to keep the scrapbook in decent shape so I created a wedding card book (with ribbon from the backdrops) for all of the cards that couldn’t fit. Now we have a lovely way to save the cards and notes forever.

    Our scrapbook also features all of the printed material I designed for the wedding including save the date cards, invitations, orders of service and menu cards. I’ve ordered them in the scrapbook as you would receive them and included the envelopes and paper bags to try and display them as our guests would have seen them.

    Once the wedding stuff was all in Andy used the rest of the scrapbook pages for our honeymoon. There are plane tickets, Ubahn tickets, museum tickets and more to document everything we got up to in Berlin.


    3. Frame original artwork

    All of the printed material I designed for the wedding featured a beautiful illustration of Andy and I by my talented wifey Taynee Tinsley. I printed this out onto card and it makes a stunning, personalised artwork for our walls.

    I’m really big on personalised artwork in the home. Of course, it doesn’t have to be images ourselves, but concert posters, DIY artwork and crafts all make lovely additions to a home and make sure we look after them very carefully because they are so personal.


    4. Frame anything else you possibly can

    Continuing on the personalised artwork, I also framed a scrap of the patterned fabric that the bridesmaids wore (pink and green, of course!) and the button badges that we had as favours for our guests. These haven’t made it up onto the wall yet, I just need to find the right house with the right nook for them but I’m happy to keep them until then.

    I also wanted to frame the scrabble tiles that Andy had on his cufflinks but unfortunately one went missing – I’m hoping to pick up a replacement when I can at a charity shop or vintage fair, one day!


    5. Make a sillhouette

    This idea I found in the Young House Love book that Andy bought for me the Christmas after our wedding. The book offers instructions to do this with paper and scissors but I went with the second option to make it in Photoshop. I’m sure most people could do a better job then I have but hopefully you get the idea!

    The original photo was taken by our friend Sandra at the ceremony. She was able to shoot a different perspective while our official photographer was at the front for our first kiss as a married couple. It makes the perfect shot for a silhouette image, and another personalised artwork for our wall.


    6. Print a wedding album

    Yes, this is quite obvious, but in fact we didn’t do this till over a year after our wedding. I think we were still recovering physically, mentally and financially and time just flew by. Having all the photos as digital files also meant we were quite spoiled and barely noticed that we didn’t have a physical copy.

    A friend recommended Albelli‘s website who produce beautiful photo books. I downloaded the app and spent a week of evenings choosing from the layouts that Albelli provide to produce awesome results.

    We have kept a large version of the album for best, along with our scrapbook and other keepsakes. Again, we gave smaller versions to parents and grandparents, my sister even asked for her own copy which I wasn’t expecting (‘m sure she has probably drawn mustaches on all the photos). I also have a small version for myself to pop in my bag if I happen to visit friends or relatives that we haven’t seen since the big day. People still ask to see photos now, after almost two years.



    Why did I not think of this before? I love this so much! Any photos that you have in a succession will all make the perfect animation such as the first kiss, walking away, bouquet toss (do people still do that?). I used Photoshop’s Animation panel in frame view because I’m old and for me that is the easiest way I know to make animated gifs.

    Can you spot the moment when Andy’s mum puts confetti down my cleavage?!



    All of these ideas have really helped to make sure the small details of our wedding won’t be forgotton. I love seeing our personalised artwork around the house and knowing we have some beautiful keepsakes forever.

    Of course, we do still have lots more things we could be doing something with. I gave one of the ribbon backdrops to Taynee for her kiddies to play with, and I’m sure I should have those beautiful chalk signs up on my walls. Here’s some more ideas that I haven’t done yet: make a ribbon canopy over our bed, make ribbon artwork, turn our wedding song or reading into personalised art.

    I’m really interested in doing something with the remainder of my wedding dress fabric but I’m not sure what yet. Perhaps a blouse? In fact, as have started dressmaking recently perhaps that’s not such a pie in the sky idea…


  3. Wardrobe remake: day dress


    This week I have remade one of my wardrobe favourites, a go-to dress for so many occasions. I bought the original dress in New Look, for about £15 last summer just before a trip to Berlin and I intended to use it as summer dress. In reality I have worn it for parties, to work and so many days at home working at my computer. It is comfortable, easy to wear and a very flexible piece in my wardrobe. Unfortunately, it is also has pilling, it is cheaply made (the facing refuses to stay put), it is too tight across the bust and it is too short – there is no way I could wear it without leggings, it constantly rides up when I’m sat down.

    photo 1

    A couple of weeks ago my Granny picked up this fabric for me from The Fabric Guild in Leicester. I’m not sure what fabric it is exactly but it is medium weight and has some stretch to it which hopefully means it will be comfortable to wear.

    I set to use the fabric to make a replacement for a dress, and to hopefully find success when making a Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I have tried to make a Megan dress before, but it’s too big and I want to adjust it. Hopefully making the new one to the right size will help me to adjust the first one I made.

    photo 2

    I also decided to make this new dress with a lining to improve the quality, and hopefully the longevity. Basically, I made two dresses – one in the patterned fabric, and one in a lining fabric. I used a few Youtube videos to help with the sewing together of the two dresses, in the end I have joined the dresses at the sleeves, neckline and along the back seam. It did take a few attempts to get this right, especially as the lining fabric would get caught up in the machine but the result feels great.I even managed to sew the seam allowances to the lining help make sure that the lining doesn’t show when it is worn.

    photo 3

    I made the skirt in a size smaller than the top in order to better fit my measurements. The stretch of the fabric meant that with a few extra pins I was able to stretch the skirt pieces slightly to meet the bust pieces. This has definitely produced a better quality dress with a much better shape and length for me. I still have some bagginess at my chest so I might try to create some darts at the neckline like the original. I’ve worn it once so far and got lots of compliments. I’m not sure it will replace the original for flexibility, the lining and longer length makes it feel a lot more formal, but I am super happy with the result and love the fact that I’ve been able to recreate one of my wardrobe favourites.


  4. Friend Like Me

    Two videos this week because The Black Dog has taken away one of the best comedians, possibly one of the best entertainers of all time. Robin Williams had such a large presence in my childhood, both Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire were huge family favourites in my house, I must have watched them both a hundred times.

    It’s so sad that Robin Williams is now gone from all of our lives, way before his time. I wish all the love on his family and friends right now and hope that his tragic death causes a wider awareness of depression and prompts people to donate their time and money towards supporting people who often can see no way out. I hope that if anyone out there feels the presence of the Black Dog that you will reach out. Please, please get help before it is too late.


  5. Gousto Organic Recipes


    A few weeks ago my friend sent me a link to Gousto, an organic food box service. I had used Riverford before, but we didn’t always use the veggies that they sent (especially in the summer) so we stopped after a year or so. Gousto has a different service in that you pick the specific recipes you’d like to try, they then send all of the ingredients you’ll need to make the dish.

    I love this idea because we get to try brand new recipes and they only send just enough for two (or four) so there is no waste. I hate it when sauces go off in the fridge, or when we throw veggies away that haven’t been used quickly enough. I read a statistic recently that in UK we throw away a third of our food, that idea haunts me and I’m determined to try and be less wasteful.

    My friend had a 50% off voucher code which meant we got three delicious meals for £20. We also get to keep the recipe cards so that we can make the new recipes again and again – I found that the ingredients were really easy to find, and just a more creative way to use things that we often get already.

    Usually the price is £40 which I don’t think we could justify on a regular basis however, if you eat out or get take away food more than once a week then this could be a more cost effective option for you. We’re going to stick to getting them whenever we can get a good discount code.

    Here’s some pics of what you get in the box…





    Our box arrived a little battered, luckily most things were fine inside, the Tamarind paste had escaped a little bit, but that was it. Inside is all the veggies on one side and all the refridgerated goods on the other wrapped in an ice pack and recyclable packing material. We even got some cute freebies in the shape of a hessian bag and a strawberry lemonade tea bag.

    At the top is a photo of the Harissa Feta with Aubergine and here is the Root Vegetable Curry. The portion sizes are quite big. We bought the box for two and each meal gave us enough for a large dinner each and leftovers for one lunch too.


    I forgot to take a pic of the Pad Thai Noodles – I’m not one who usually takes photos of my food, I’m usually so hungry I just dig right in! The Pad Thai was delicious though, possibly one of the best ways to cook Tofu that I’ve ever eaten.

    If you would like to try the Gousto boxes head over to their website and take a look at the recipes they have this week – if you’re not sure take a look again next week, they change the recipes all the time. I have a 50% discount code to share with all first time orders so leave a comment below if you’d like to get a box for £20 yourself and I’ll email it over.


  6. Mathilde Blouse


    A couple of weeks ago Tilly Walnes announced a sale on all of her shop items to try and shift some stock ready for a studio move. Of course, I couldn’t leave that offer to just go by, so I picked up all three of her patterns that aren’t included in the Love at First Stitch book.

    The first of the patterns that I have tackled is the Mathilde Blouse which was quite tricky again, I get the impression that blouse patterns in general are quite tricky. It involves pleats, a yoke and button holes. All of which I hadn’t learned yet. It also features French seams, which I had tried before, and sleeves which I decided not to do because they’re just not my style.

    I bought the white polka dot fabric on Milton Keynes market in a pre-cut 5 yard bundle for £5. A great bargain. I don’t know for certain what the fabric is, I suspect a polycotton, but it is probably a little more sheer than I would have liked, especially because I only have black camis to wear underneath. It’s hard to argue at £1 per yard though!


    The pleats were tricky to get right, I don’t think mine are as straight or even as they should be but overall I’m quite pleased with the result. I really love the buttons down the back too. I originally added some smaller buttons that I had at home already but they were just too small and the blouse kept popping open when I tried it on. I swapped the buttons for some new buttons that I bought from Hobbycraft in a mixed mixed button jar.

    The next pattern I’m planning to tackle is the Miette skirt, probably in red or green. I also have the Megan dress to take in, I’m just a little too scared about that.


  7. Rude – Magic

    The reaction to this has been mixed, people seems to either love or really dislike it. Personally, I love anything with a ska or reggae feel so it’s a win for me. I will admit the official video for this is really not good, but this acoustic version on Bondi Beach is just perfect for Summer.


  8. DIY Bow Garland


    I’m loving this bow garland tutorial. I love bunting and garlands anyway and this would look just beautiful in a bedroom or above a dessert table at a party. But for maximum effect, have two birds carry it in their beaks above your head as you go about your daily errands.


  9. Floral Clemence Skirt


    I did plan for my next make to be the Megan Dress from Love at First Stitch, and I did make it, but it’s too big. I’m really not sure how to take it in but I’m going to try. Hopefully I’ll post about my attempts soon.

    Moving on from the Megan dress and the Delphine Skirt that were both too big, I decided to soldier on to the Clemence Skirt. This skirt doesn’t actually have a pattern that is measured in sizes, you make your own pattern. Measure your waist and hips and cut according to your own personal measurements following Tilly’s calculations. Much better for me it seems!

    The fabric is from CallyCo in Cambridge, the lady in there was absolutely lovely and so helpful. They have a very beautiful range and I saw some designs that were stunning, but my budget didn’t stretch to everything that I saw. I’m saving up to buy more soon.

    My fabric wasn’t actually wide enough for the full skirt that Tilly’s calculations plan for but it turns out, that’s OK. My skirt just isn’t as full as it would have been. The gathering that is required to create the fullness of the skirt does take some patience to get right. I found it was hard to get the balance right when smoothing out the gathers so they are even, but keeping the correct length for the waist band. I got there in the end.

    I love the final result – it’s actually more flowery than I would usually go for – but the fabric just looked so beautiful in the shop. Plus, it’s pink and green which is all that matters to me. My mum said I look like Sandra Dee in the skirt, which is a huge win in my book.


    After I had been to CallyCo I popped in to John Lewis to buy some embroidery floss, they were having a huge sale on vintage-style fabrics which again were hard to leave. I bought some graphic black and white fabric (of course!) which I’m not sure what I’m going to do with yet.

    On the same day I also picked up a bargain at the Cambridge market from The Little Fabric Stall, four metres of red polka dot cotton at a fantastic price. I’m hoping to use that when I begin a sewing class with Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing. Here’s a pic of all the fabric drying after the first wash (please excuse the grotty carpet in our rental property!).