Tag Archive | bella clarke

Upcycling jumpers into cushion covers (DIY)

At least once a year I will go through my clothes and put the items that I don’t wear any more in a bin bag & store them in the loft. I’ll then get my bag from the previous clear out and go through the items in there. The items will then go into three piles: clothes that I want to wear again; Clothes for the charity shop; and clothes for upcycling. This time around I found a lot of clothes that I wanted to upcycle & so I thought it might be fun to do a little DIY blog.

One of the jumpers that I found was a Primark purchase from a while back that I don’t believe I ever wore because firstly: it’s not really my style; and secondly it’s most certainly not my size (I’m a UK 10-12, it was a UK 6)- I think I must have been having a bad shopping day. Ordinarily I would probably give away an unworn item to a friend or a charity shop, but because baby is on the way I thought it would be nice to make something for the nursery. It would be really easy to cut along the seam and make a simple but cute blanket, but I already have my baby blanket that my nan knitted me, and so I decided to make a cushion cover. As always: if you do decide to make this please let me know how you got on & feel free to ask me any questions if you need anything clarifying. Good luck!! 😀

What you’ll need:

  • One old jumper (for this bow design I used a roll neck knitted jumper)
  • A needle & thread in a similar colour to your jumper (a sewing machine may make some parts easier, but you will need to hand stitch certain parts – I chose to hand stitch throughout)
  • A square cushion pad, roughly the same size as the body of your jumper.
  • Pins
  • Fabric scissors
  • Buttons or a Zip (optional)

Step by step:

  1. Lay your jumper flat on the bed & turn inside-out.
  2. Take your fabric scissors & cut along the neck seam to separate the roll neck from the rest of the jumper.
  3. Pin a straight line from shoulder to shoulder & stitch just bellow this line & turn jumper right side out.
  4. Cut along the seam of your roll neck to open it into a rectangular shape of cloth.
  5. Pin down the three edges that you have cut & securely stitch a hem (the top of the roll neck will already be hemmed.)
  6. Pin a straight line down the centre of your jumper to establish a middle point.
  7. Bring the right sleeve to the centre point (it should cross the body of your jumper diagonally) and stitch to the front of the jumper (be careful not to sew through both sides) cut off any excess material & discard.
  8. Bring the left sleeve to the same centre point and pin a straight line (parallel to the top) across the sleeve – your left sleeve should be pinned in line with the bottom of your right sleeve & the excess sleeve should be hanging straight down, there should be enough excess sleeve to allow you to fold upwards & create the centre of the bow shape.
  9. When you are happy with the placement stitch just bellow where you pinned.
  10. Fold your strip of material made from the roll neck in half along the shorter edges & roughly pin so that you have a thinner rectangle shape (make sure that you fold the material so that the edges you previously hemmed are on the inside & hidden.)
  11. Find the middle of the material then – only at this center point – sew the two edges together. Now when you unpin the long edge you should be able to see the shape of a bow forming. 
  12. Place the material on top of both sleeves, ensuring that the center point that you sewed together earlier is exactly on your pinned center line & just above the sewed line of your left sleeve.
  13. Pin the four corners down into place (make sure all of your seams are touching the body of the jumper, so that they remain hidden). When you’re happy with the placement: sew the four corners down. 
  14. Create pleats in the bow by making an “m” shape with the center material. An easy way to achieve this is to place one hand under the bow and the other on top & press down. When you have the desired pleat: secure by sewing the middle point down.
  15. Bring the left sleeve over the top of your bow to create the centre, pin & sew down – the neatest way is to ensure that you pull the sleeve under & around the bow.
  16. To ensure that you get a bow shape that stays looking like a bow: pin & stitch any area that you feel needs to be secured, but don’t sew around the entire bow as this will stop the material from stretching correctly.
  17. Remove all pins & finish by adding either a zip or buttons to the bottom of the jumper. Or if you would prefer a simpler solution: stuff with your chosen pad & stitch closed. Fluff up & enjoy.



Baking Kanelbullar (cinnamon buns)

I did a bit of baking today because every Thursday George works until 8PM and after all the clothes washing I didn’t fancy using the rest of the day to clean (yepp, I am slowly becoming a 60’s housewife). When we were preparing for Swedish Christmas I excitedly told him that we were going to make Saffron Buns and his reply was something along the lines of “cool, when are you going to start making cinnamon buns?”

Needless to say they’re a firm favourite of his and as they’re not a Christmas treat we didn’t make any and he was gutted. So as I am a trainee domestic goddess I decided to surprise him and make some today. He’s not home yet so I have some more free time alone and I thought it might be nice to blog the recipe & instructions incase someone might like to try them for themselves, I think they’re perfect with a cuppa. Good luck if you do try them & I would love to know what you thought & how you got on.

What You’ll need:

For the dough: 

  • 150 g – Butter
  • 500 ml – Milk (I use semi-skimmed – 1.8% fat)
  • 50 g – Fresh Yeast
  • 1 tsp – Salt
  • 100 g – Sugar
  • 875 g – Plain White Flour
  • 2 tsp Cardamon – shelled and ground (optional)

For the Filling:

  • 100 g – Butter
  • 100 g – Caster Sugar
  • 2 – 4 tbs – Ground Cinnamon

For the Glaze:

  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • Pearl Sugar (also known as Nib Sugar)

Tools & Utensils:

  • Scales
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Pestle & Mortar (If including cardamon)
  • Saucepan
  • Thermometer
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Whisk with Bread Hooks (or wooden spoon if preferred)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Fork or Small Whisk for egg
  • Knife for buttering & slicing
  • Glazing Brush
  • Cupcake Cases (aprox 50)


Step by Step:

  1. Remove cardamon from pods & grind to a fine powder.
  2. Melt butter on a low heat, when all melted add milk, remove mixture from heat when it reaches 37 degrees Celsius & pour into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Rub yeast between forefinger & thumb to break down into a fine crumb, add to mixing bowl.
  4. Add rest of ingredients (save a small amount of the flower for later) & mix well until all ingredients are combined & dough becomes shiny.
  5. Place a tea towel over the mixing bowl and allow to prove for 30 minutes.
  6. While dough is proving remove butter from fridge to soften & arrange cases onto baking trays.
  7. Sprinkle flour onto work surface & split dough in half & knead one section and roll into a rectangle shape (aprox 25X50 cm).
  8. Spread half of the butter onto the dough (as your would a slice of bread) and sprinkle over half of the sugar & cinnamon.
  9. Starting at the longer end roll into a cylinder.
  10. Cut into roughly 24 cylinder shapes & place into cupcake cases – allow to prove for a further 30 minutes under a tea towel.
  11. While proving turn oven on to 225 degrees Celsius & beat egg for glaze.
  12. When proved: brush on egg and sprinkle over pearl sugar.
  13. Place one baking sheet at a time on middle shelf of oven & allow to cook for 7-8 minutes until golden brown.
  14. Allow to cool on a wire rack & enjoy.

2013 – Getting Organised.

Happy New Year Everyone!!! I hope you all had an amazing night welcoming in the new year & I hope you all have fond memories of 2012 that you’ll carry with you forever. 

I make a new years resolution every year: I can barely ever remember what they were by the end of the year and I’m sure I’ve never kept one, but I love thinking ahead and choosing something that I believe will challenge me, or shape me into a better person. Usually I have no trouble thinking of something, so come midnight I will have my optimistic and naive resolution ready to write somewhere and promise to keep. This year my mind was utterly blank.

As I’ve mentioned in my past posts there are so many special things happening this year. I feel excited by everything that is going to happen & yet I don’t remember a past year ever having such high expectations put on it before it has even began. I am utterly terrified by the prospect that this may be “the biggest year of my life” to date & because of that I couldn’t think of any one thing that would be fitting for my resolution. So instead I decided to take some time to make a list of things that I hope I will be able to do in 2013 that go beyond my usual “no stupid haircuts this year”.

In 2013 I will:

Buy a house. This one might seem like a bit of a cheat because it’s already on the cards, but I feel that it’s important to include because if I don’t put in the time & effort that it takes to organise everything it cannot happen. There are so many things that can go wrong when buying a house & it’s become almost a part time job over seeing all the different stages.

Continue to post on my blog. This is super important to me, I’m really enjoying taking time out to write about things that I love & things that I’m doing or going through. I feel so lucky to have some spare time on my hands at the moment & posting on my blog has really quickly become something I look forward to doing. It’s almost become an online diary, I don’t know where it might lead but for now I’m enjoying rambling for rambling’s sake.

Be a good mum. I nearly didn’t include this one because it”s such a broad subject & no one can be a “good” parent in everyone’s eyes. But it’s something I want more that anything, so rather than not including it I’ve decided that I will probably write a separate post on it at some point this week.

Appreciate the little things. I always love the days where me and George just sit in front of the TV or go for a walk, & I love nights at the pub with friends, & spending Sundays with my family. I sometimes forget how special those days are.

Get Organised. This is a running theme throughout my life right now & something I had never previously put that highly on the list of things I find important. Now, I understand that without being organised the things that I want to do will probably not happen. This is my main resolution & without it I don’t think any of my others would be possible. I will probably write a separate post about this too, because I have so much to say, and lots of great tips that I have learnt, and if I write them all down I may find them easier to do.

And that’s it: 5 things that I hope to be able to do in 2013. It all seems so simple now that it’s written down, but I know that it’s going to be easier said than done & I can’t use the excuse I’ve forgotten what I said I wanted to do, because it’s right here for the world to see. Do you have a new years resolution? Do you ever manage to stick to them?

I hope you have an amazing 2013 & let me know what your resolutions are in the comments bellow & maybe we can encourage each other to keep them. Good luck & Happy New Year again. 

Get ready with me – New Years Eve

It’s nearly 2013!!! It’s going to be a massive year for our family so I’m really excited to start it.

I love getting ready for New Years eve & I tend to make a bit more effort than usual, mostly because there tend to be a fair amount of cameras around. I wanted some sparkle in my makeup (of corse) but I didn’t want to go over the top so I decided on a subtle gold smokey eye & gold nails. Gold pigments look really lovely on blue eyes & I think this look could be great for any night out, not just New Years so I wanted to take some photos & make a Step-By-Step guide to the look, to help you recreate it if you fancy. What ever you’re doing tonight I hope you have fun seeing in 2013! Happy New Year!!! 

Products I used:


Eyes: Urban Decay Primer Potion http://tinyurl.com/ckwz9lj

Barry M Dazzle Dust (100 & 101) http://tinyurl.com/bcvsjff

Bobbi Brown Gel Liner (Black Ink) http://tinyurl.com/2w36fn3

L’oreal Volume Million Lashes (Extra-Black) http://tinyurl.com/44bm25h

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers http://tinyurl.com/7t2qlw5

Face: Mac Face & Body Foundation (C1) http://tinyurl.com/cb4rbwl

Vichy Dermablend Foundation (15 Opal) http://tinyurl.com/cknowos

YSL Touche Eclat (2 Luminous Ivory) http://tinyurl.com/d7b7yn5

Arbonne Blusher (Dusty Rose & Merlot) http://tinyurl.com/bnznv9g

Nails: Barry M Nail Varnish (Gold Glitter) http://tinyurl.com/c262e7o

Midwife Appointment (25 weeks) & New Webpage Design

I’m writing this after spending the last few hours designing and uploading a new look for my webpage and my brain is a little fried. I actually started designing the new page before this blog and was intending on making the blog look as similar to my website as possible. But after looking through the available templates on here it became clear that would be easier to do it the other way around so yeahhhh…. here’s the new website: http://www.bellaclarke.co.uk
I wanted to do a really quick update on how my midwife appointment went yesterday. For those of you who don’t know(I had no clue): you see the Midwife A LOT in your first pregnancy. This was the first time I went without George which felt a bit odd because we both love being able to hear baby’s heartbeat, but as each meeting is so similar it seems silly to drag him out of work every time.
My midwife’s name is Sarah, she’s really lovely and always fashionably late which means I get to catch up on reading trashy mags in the waiting room. Each meeting starts with her testing my wee sample (this was actually the first time I remembered to bring one.. peeing in a pot is never really that high on my list of things to remember) and checking my blood pressure, both were fine. We then chat about a million different things (one of the main reasons she’s always running late) and I lay down ready to hear babys heartbeat, only this time she also brings over a measuring tape as well, and after prodding my stomach a little she tells me baby is 26cm long.
I cannot express quite how much this shocked me, not the fact that baby is 26cm, but the fact she could measure my baby from outside my stomach. Any time that I try and get an idea of where it’s laying my tummy just feels like one rather large football so I give up. MIND BLOWN! Anyway, 26cm is normal so baby is cooking well, and the heartbeat was good too, so that was that. 
I know it probably seems a little sad, but I really look forward to my midwife appointments. Everything seems so much more real when someone else is telling you about your baby. I still find myself waking up in the morning sometimes wondering why my tummy’s dancing all over the place and then having an: “oh yeaaaah, there’s a baby in there” moment. It’s not that I forget, as such, it’s more the fact that it takes me a little while to “step out of” my dreams. You know how sometimes if you’re staying in another place you wake up wondering where you are? I have that every morning. Basically my sleep resembles a coma.
Anyway, rambling, sorry… The midwife appointment went well, and to celebrate me and George had fish & chips. You can’t beat a good fish and chips.