Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Make your own Christmas star from an old  pallete

I make no secret of the fact that we both absolutely love Christmas. Everything about it from welcoming the family back for a feast of fun and merriment to putting up the Christmas decorations. A Christmas without decorations is unthinkable in my view … but they don’t have to cost the earth.

We were in John Lewis a few weeks back and spotted a delightful wooden Christmas tree made from what appeared to be scrap wood.

So it got me to thinking I might have a go at making my own by recycling an old pallet I had hanging around. On closer inspection the wood was sound and was weathered over time to a silver patina … a bit like oak when it’s been exposed to the weather.

If you want to have a go at making your own you’re going to need a regular old palette which you can pick up from your local builders merchant or building site. Most builders I know are more than happy to get rid of them. But do ask as some have to go back to the suppliers.

You’ll also need a length of 1\2 inch dowel approximately 30 inches long which you can get from any of the major DIY stores. This is for the stalk that runs up the middle.

Make your own shabby chic wooden Christmas tree from an old pallete

All this from one old palette

You’re also going to need a few basic tools like a hand saw (table saw would be quicker) some regular wood glue, a drill and a large drill bit capable of drilling a hole to take the dowel.

The construction is pretty basic. All you need to remember is this is shabby chic which basically means it doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact we’re looking for anything other than perfect.

If you take a closer look at the pics you’ll see the element’s that make up the tree are:

  • Two base sections glued together with a simple half lap joint
  • A central stem made from the 1\2 inch dowel
  • Spacer blocks for in between the branches. (2 x 2 inch pieces cut from the longer pieces of the pallet)
  • A bunch of branches made from thin strips of inch and a half pallet wood
Learn how to make your own shabby chic wooden Christmas tree

Learn how to make your own shabby chic wooden Christmas tree

It really doesn’t matter in which order the pieces are made. This is how I approached the construction of my tree.

  1. Prepare two pieces of timber 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches by 18 inches for the stand of the tree.
  2. Mark a line in the centre of each piece and measure an inch and a quarter back on either side from this centre point. The gap is the exact width of the other piece that will form the half lap. (If you’re not sure what a half lap is the internet is full of videos that show exactly how it’s done)
  3. To add a little style to the stand add a taper from the middle to the outside. To do this measure from the top of the piece and put a pencil mark a quarter of an inch down at each end
  4. Draw a line from the mid section we marked earlier to this mark. This should produce a gradual taper. Do the same on all four ends of the stand and you’ll have a nice taper on all four sides.
  5. Cut a half lap on each piece making sure you cut on the top of the stand and not on the bottom as I did with my first attempt!
  6. Next drill a hole in the centre of the top section of the stand ready to take the dowel and glue the two pieces of the half lap and leave to dry.
  7. Prepare the branches by sawing a series of strips about an inch and half wide and approximately 3mm thick. The longest lengths are 24 inches and the shortest at the top are around 3 inches. You don’t need to be too accurate just so long as you make plenty of branches as you’re going to need around 30 pieces in total. Also bear in mind looking at the tree the branches get shorter as you make your way up the tree. To make it easier I made a triangle template from MDF of the shape I wanted and used this as a guide for the width of the branches. I then took each strip and cut it to the width of the shape. Each section has 3-4 branches and is separated by a small spacer. Also another tip is to make plenty of spare branches!
  8. Find the mid point of each branch and drill a half inch hole through the centre for the dowel.
  9. Now the fun bit … start building your tree by simply sliding the branches and spacers onto the stem in whatever configuration you fancy.
  10. Finally finish your tree with a little white paint to give it that Chrismassy feel, or alternatively you could leave it natural. As you’ll see from the pics I rather over did it with the spray can and wish I’d left more of the wood natural. I’m going to make another one and the plan is to leave it natural.

Hey presto you have your own shabby chic Christmas tree! And all from an old redundant palette. Not bad eh!

How to make your own Christmas tree from wood

If you fancy having a go please send us your pics as we’d love to see how you get on.

Best wishes,

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners







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For those of you that follow us on a regular basis will know we’re expanding our back garden plant nursery.

Well it’s been raining today which is has brought out the best in the plants and so I thought I’d share a few pics. All these plants started life as softwood cuttings in June 2012 and 2013 and have produced these wonderful looking plants. I’m not sure why I sound so surprised, but it still amazes me you can grow all these wonderful plants for virtually no outlay.

How To Start Your Own Plant Business

How to start your own nursery

We’ve also been busy over the weekend with our new building project. I’ll post more detail around the construction methods next week but wanted to share a few pics with those of you that are following our progress.

Hope your Easter weekend was a good one!

Best wishes,

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners








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Kindle Bags - The Rural Gardener

For those of you that may not have been to my blog before my other passion outside of gardening is quilting … it keeps me going during the winter months when the garden is sleeping and I find it totally relaxing.

This week I’ve been making my own Kindle Bag. They are really simple to make and  just the right size to store a Kindle or an iPad.

Kindle Sacks

I try to use recycled material where possible as it  just makes sense to give something a new lease of life. But I’m a sucker for gorgeous material, in particular anything with farmyard animals.

Home made Kindle Bags

A bit cheeky I know … but I’d love to know what you think?

Very best wishes,

Rural Gardener

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CRAFTSMITHS Craft Fair in Amesbury on the 26th November, Christmas Gifts, Christmas Gift Ideas

I am supporting the Craftsmiths Craft Fair in Amesbury this year.  It’s all happening next Saturday  November 26th. Lots of beautiful Christmas gift ideas, and all hand made by the stallholders. I don’t know about you, but I always find some real gems at Craft Fairs.

John and I will be there with our hand made gifts and crafts, so do drop in if you’re in the area.

Christmas Gift Ideas

Best wishes,

Rural Gardener

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Ideas for xmas gifts - Lavender pin cushions

Ideas for xmas gifts - Mini Lavender cushions

Lavender pin cushion

Ideas for xmas gifts - Lavender pin cushion

If you’re stuck for Christmas pressies why not have a go at making your own lavender cushions, alternatively leave the lavender out if you don’t like the smell and swap for cotton wool or wadding.

I thought I might try and sell a few … what do you think?

Best wishes


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Why not have a go at making a Christmas decoration for a friend this year.

Xmas decorations for free!

Last Christmas we had a go at making our own Christmas decorations out of recycled materials which turned out to be loads of fun as we tried desperately to make something that vagualey resembled a reindeer.

All you need to make your own are a few basic tools and some flat pieces of old board. If you don’t have anything around the house, head to your local reclamation yard and buy a couple of old floor boards.  You need to select half decent boards, preferably without any nails or holes if possible, and not too thick.  Half – three quarters of an inch thick board will do just fine.

They’re really simple to make and once you have a basic design each one  should take about an hour to make.

First find yourself a design and then draw it to the size you want on a piece of paper.  Then take a pencil and trace around the template onto your board.  In this example I’m making an Angel which will be symmetrical.

christmas angel

First I outline half of the shape on a sheet of A4, then I cut out the shape and position it on a piece of board.  Next I draw around the shape and when one half is complete flip it over and draw round the opposite side.

I’ve gone for a more traditional shape to my angel but don’t be afraid to use your imagination.

Next,  saw around the outside of the your shape trying to stay just outside the lines so you have a little bit left to sand back to the final shape. You can either use a fret saw, or if you’re lucky enough to know someone with a band saw you can always ask them to cut your shapes out for you.

When you’re happy with your final shape take any spare paint you have, or as I prefer, buy a small sampler pot of natural paint (we used Farrow and Ball as we had some left over from the build) and give it a couple of coats in your favourite Christmas colour.

Home made xmas decorationsThey look great around the house and make the perfect gift as you head round to friends and family on Christmas Eve.

Home made Xmas tree decoration

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Hand made cushion and bedspread

There is much to be done in the garden during the Winter but I have to say I do tend to leave the garden to it’s own devices much of the time.  Of course there are the leaves to contend with which I collect only when they have all fallen, that way I only have to do the job once.  The rest of the time I’m pruning or tending to the cuttings in the Polytunnel in readiness for my first
plant sale next April.

When I can’t get into the garden I turn to my other passion, Quilting.

Hand made quilt bedspread

My first Sampler Quilt

This Christmas I’ve decided to make all my own presents for my family and friends. I’m sure they’ll appreciate them just as much.
Also when I was in the supermarket a few weeks ago I was about to buy my children an Advent Calender (it’s tradition … even though they are adults now) but I thought why don’t I make them this year. They can hang from any wall just the same as the cardboard variety.

Hand made advent calendar

Christmas is just around the corner

I thought it would be a nice idea for them to pass them on to their own children when the time comes.  It’s still very much work in progress but I plan to add pockets on each of the advent days and insert a special secret Christmas gift.

Hand made key ringI’ve been quilting on and off for about 10 years and made lots of bed covers, cushion covers and wall hangings, but recently I’ve taken to making a few smaller items for presents, like these neat little key rings.

I’m planning my next project at the moment, a bed spread that tells the story of the garden and how it came together.  Should be fun!

If you’d like to know more about quilting please feel free to drop me a note and I’d be glad to help you get started.

Best wishes,


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