How to make a dinosaur tail

Here’s a step by step guide on how to turn an old pair of jeans into a dinosaur tail for your little one.  I keep seeing these tails at UK festivals and I thought I would share how you can make one yourself.  Not just for kids, just increase the sizing for an adult version.  This guide shows how to upcycle your jeans and yellow spikes have been added, but you could use any fabric you like and decorate with spots and for extra glamour, add sequins to your tail.

You will need:

Dino step 1 (2).jpg

  • A pair of jeans or fabric of your choice
  • A contrasting fabric to make the spikes
  • Some stuffing – you could use an old pillow
  • Some ribbon – enough to tie around the waist in a bow
  • Tape measure, pins, needle and thread and a pair of scissors

Step 1 – Cutting out the main tail

Dino step 1 (3).jpg   Dino step 1 (1).jpg   Dino Step2 (1)

Take a trouser leg and cut the hem off.  From that raw edge, I measured 18 inches along and cut straight across the leg.  Then cut diagonally to make a triangular shape (keep the bottom right triangle shown in picture above)

Step 2 – Making the spikes

Dino Step 5 (2)    Dino Step4 (2)

Dino Step 5 (3)

Firstly, cut out the triangles for your spikes.  I used five in my version and the biggest one was 4 inches tall.  You’ll need two sides for each spike.  Pin wrong sides together, sew along two sides and turn right side out.

Step 3 – Add the spikes to the tail body

Dino Step 5 (1)

Turn the body of the tail right sides together.  Insert the spikes as shown.  Sew along the length of the tail to sew the spikes in place.  Leave the short edge of the tail open.

Next, turn the tail out and stuff the tail.

Dino Step 6 (1)

Step 4 – Sewing the ribbon fastenings

Pin the tail closing together and catch the ribbon into the closing. I used two lengths so it could be tied round the waist.  Hand sew along this last bit to close up the tail.

Dino Step 7 (1).jpg

You’re all done!  I hope you have lots of fun making these.  With special thanks to my nephew, Thomas, for modelling my tail!

Dino (2)

For more things to make from jeans and denim clothing, check out my Pinterest board on lots of ideas on how to upcycle them.








Pillowcase Dress

Here’s my guide to turn a pillowcase into a little girls summer dress or nightie.  You don’t need very much to make this and you could get your little one involved in choosing the colours and trim that you add.  If you don’t have a little one to make for, you could make for the charity “Little Dresses for Africa”  who take dress donations and send them to Africa for girls who need them.

You will need:

A pillowcase
3 metres of 1″ ribbon
1 metre of trim (optional)
Tape measure
Needle and thread (or sewing machine)

Step 1 – Cutting out

Lay the pillowcase out flat in front of you with the open end at the top, furthest away from you.

Next, trim the closed end at the bottom, so that you now have an open seam at the bottom end.

Blog Dress (3)

Now fold the pillowcase in half, lengthways, as shown, so the fold is on the left.


The measurements that come next have made a dress that has in fact come up a little big for my niece who is 4 years old.  To make the dress smaller, smaller armholes could be made and more gathering could be added to the front and back panels (see further instructions further on in this blog).  The following gives a sizing idea:


With the folded seam on the left, measure down 2 inches on the right and cut across to the top left point.  Then measure down 5 inches from the top and cut the arm holes.  You’ll end up with two pieces like below.


Open your pillowcase out and it should look like this.


Step 2 – Adding the ribbon

Next you’ll be gathering the front and back panels that will sit across your child’s chest and back.  I took in a gathered pinch every 1.5″, but you could put them closer together so that you end up with a narrower width.

Blog Dress (9)

Pin your gathers into place on the front and back.


Next, cut some ribbon the width of your newly gathered dress and fold over the top to cover the edge of the pillowcase and pin into place.


Now sew along the ribbon on the front and back piece of the dress.

Blog Dress (12)

Your top edges will now look like this.  I’ve used two rows of stitching, but you could do one or a zig-zag in a contrasting colour if you wanted to.

Blog Dress (13)

Step 3 – adding the ribbon ties

Next step is to pin lengths of ribbon over the armholes openings and leave enough length on the ends to tie a bow over the child’s shoulders.  You’ll find this then covers in the raw edges of the front and back panels previously sewn.

Blog Dress (14)

Blog Dress (15)

Step 4 – the hem and trim

All that’s left to do is hem the bottom of the dress.  I added in some pom pom trim too.  But you could leave it plain or add lace or more ribbon.

Blog Dress (16).jpg

Blog Dress (1).jpg

Sew up the hem and trim and Ta Da!,  your dress is finished.  Special thanks to my niece, Connie for modelling the finished dress for this blog.

Blog Dress - finished

For more ideas on upcycling and customising clothes, check out my Pinterest Board, ‘Customizing‘.

See also another blog post I wrote on how to upcycle a shirt into a children’s dress here.  (Connie was younger then!!!!)

Upcycle image








5 Upcycling ideas for Easter

Here’s my round up of five Easter projects to do with the kids – and of course, they all have an upcycling twist!  Projects to use up fabric scraps, toilet rolls, jam jars and tin cans are all here…

1. Fabric Easter Basket

Take some scraps of fabric and some piping and you’ve got yourself the only two things you’ll need to make these gorgeous baskets.  Full instructions are here.

Fabric basket

2. Upcycled Planters

These are baked bean tins, painted and then planted up.  The link is actually for a Christmas plant, but you could swap with daffodils for example for a more seasonal look.  Paint the cans with pastel colours, to keep it more Spring like.  These would make a lovely gift if you’re visiting someone for the Easter break – something a bit more personal and less fattening than chocolate!  Instructions for these here.

tin can planters

3. Gift Jars

Use the same paint to paint some jam jars.  A bunny silhouette has been used here, so the chocolate inside can be seen through the panel.  Chalk paint is best for this project.  Full instructions here.

gift jars.jpg

4. Toilet Roll Chicks

A great one to make with the kids.  The instructions on this link say to use yellow card, but I think this would work just as well with recycled toilet rolls.  Here’s the link for the step by step guide here.

Toilet roll chicks

5. Bunny Bunting

Got some spare wool lying about?  It could be used to make mini pom poms and this simple bunting.  Templates and instructions are all here.

Bunny bunting.jpg


For hundreds of Spring and Easter craft ideas, check out my Pinterest boards:

Handmade Easter

Easter Egg Decorating

Happy Easter to you and your families xxx

easter eggs


Taking stock…

Brace yourselves, I’m going to start boasting…

I did some sums the other day, on the amount of fabric I have used over the last couple of years.  Fabric that would otherwise have ended up in the skip and ultimately been incinerated or ended up in landfill.  Each month, I fill up my car boot with fabric offcuts, kindly given to me by a local sofa company.  It’s a perfect arrangement: I get some amazing swoon-tastic fabrics and they don’t have to pay for a skip!

Anyway, each month my car boot is full to bursting and I’ve been doing that for two years now.  So the geek in me as worked out the volume of my car boot, multiplied it by the weight of that fabric in each pick up, times the number of picks ups…..and I have worked out that I have saved at least 3 tonnes of fabric from being wasted!!!!

3 tonnes!!!!

When you google that – that weight is the equivalent to nearly two cars; or four cows; or six grand pianos; or thirty kangaroos!!!!  You get the idea.

3 tonnes

I’m rather proud of that.  And that’s not taking into account the donations of fabric I’ve had from friends and family or the amount of coffee sacks I’ve used too.  Coffee sacks that come from another local company – these get turned into wreaths, cushions, pouffes, tote bags etc.

Apparently a double-decker bus weighs around 13 tonnes, so I’ve got a way to go before I reach that graphic!!!  I wonder how many tonnes would reach the height of the Empire State Building*…

You can see what I make with all this material on my website: Delaney Designs

I also collect lots of ways to upcycle on my Pinterest Board.

I’m passionate about recycling and love to share ways of re-using, rather than throwing away.  This year I plan to write a blog every month on upcycling ideas, so don’t forget to subscribe.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day. x
*turns on Google for height of Empire State Building


8 ways to use less plastic

Thanks to David Attenborough and his team, the recent TV series of ‘Planet Earth II’ has helped draw attention to the plight of our oceans drowning in plastic and the damage it does to the wildlife and ultimately our planet.   David and this weeks news headlines have called on us to ditch using the plastic, but how do we use less?

Here’s eight ways to get you started:

1. Use refillable stainless steel bottles for your water

“Here in the UK, the average household uses 480 plastic bottles a year, but only recycles 270 of them – meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling. This means that nationally, of the over 35 million plastic bottles being used every day in the UK, nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren’t being put out for recycling.

If just one in ten Brits refilled once a week, we’d have 340 million less plastic bottles a year in circulation!”  Re-Fill

Better to use something refillable, like a stainless steel bottle.  Many venues around the UK are bringing back traditional water fountains and there’s an app you can download to find your nearest re-fill stop.  See ‘Re-Fill’ for more information.

2. Get your milk delivered by the milkman

Milk cartons are made from a mixture of cardboard, plastic and aluminum.  This means they are difficult to recycle.  Whereas a glass bottle can be returned and re-used time and time again.

Click here to find out more about milk delivery.

3. Use a bag for life, instead of a plastic bag

According to reports (Guardian Jul 2017), there has been an 83% reduction in single-use carrier bag sales since the instruction of a 5p charge in England.  If you haven’t already, get some bags stuffed in your handbag/manbag/car boot and then you’ll always have them handy.

4. Use a bamboo toothbrush

Stats claim that we use billions of plastic toothbrushes every year.  Next time, you’re due to replace your toothbrush, try switching to bamboo.

Bamboo is a natural plant based material which, at the end of its life, is totally biodegradable and can even be composted.  Look for the brands that have a ‘Nylon4’ bristle, which is also biodegradable.

Keep your old plastic toothbrushes in your cleaning cupboard – I find them particularly useful for cleaning shower grouting or difficult spots in the oven!

5. Store left overs in glass jars instead of plastic bags or cling film

Easy this one.  Everytime you use up a pot of marmalade, keep the jar for storage for left overs.

6. Take a re-usable cup for your take away coffee

“We throw away 7 million coffee cups a day and less than 1% are currently recycled”

So called disposable coffee cups are difficult to recycle as they are made up of different layers of materials and there are only a handful of recycling centres that can recycle them.

Keep a re-usable cup with you for when you’re next picking up your takeaway coffee.  Many coffee shops offer a discount if you’re re-using a cup or offer extra reward stamps.

If you’re in London, keep your eyes peeled for Hubbub’s ‘Square Mile Challenge’ – special collection points for coffee cups, where the cups will be recycled.

7.  Say no to plastic straws

Do you need a plastic straw in that gin and tonic?!  Anytime you’re in a bar, restaurant or hotel, make sure you ask them to remove the straw.  Hopefully, the more we ask them to remove it, the more they’ll get the message.  Weatherspoons have just announced (Jan 2018) that they will be removing plastic straws from their pub chains – that’s a whopping 70 million straws saved by them alone.

8. Skip the plastic produce bags

Another easy one.  Go for the fruit and veg that are not in the plastic pre-packed options, but go for the loose offering instead.  Yes, your apples might roll around your trolley, but why do they need to go in a plastic bag?!!


For further information on ways to upcycle, check out my Pinterest boards.  A couple, in particular, are relevant to this article…

If you find you have a cupboard full of plastic bags, this board has a collection of ways to recycle them.  Ways to upcycle plastic bags

If you do end up using a disposable coffee cup – don’t bin it, re-use it.  Loads of ideas here: Ways to upcycle coffee cups



10 Upcycled Halloween Decor Ideas

Having a Halloween party?  Want to decorate your party space?  Here are some bargain bucket, but effective ideas to get you started.  All using and upcycling bits and bobs from around the house.

1. Ghost Wind Sock

Take a grocery tin, paint it.  Add strips of paper for the tail and let the wind do the rest!
Credit: Chicken Scratch NY

Halloween 1 ghost windsock

2. Mummy Jam Jars

Wrap some jam jars in bandages, add some googly eyes and a little night light and voila!
Credit: Veggie Mumma

Halloween 2 Mummy Jam Jars

3. Cardboard Tombstones

This one will take a bit more work, but full instructions are here to help.

Halloween 3 cardboard tombstones

4. Bin Bag Spiders Web

This step by step guide shows you how to cut black bin bags and turn them into a spiders web to adorn your party space!

Halloween 4 Bin bag spiders web

5. Flowerpot Spiders

A great way to make some spiders for the garden – thanks Creative Green Living!

Halloween 5 - Flowerpot Spiders

6. Tissue Box Monsters

White triangles of paper for the teeth and little cups or egg boxes for the eyes.  A great one to do with the kids.  You could use them as a treats pot.

Halloween 6 - Tissue Box Monsters

7. Paper plate eyeballs

Add the red ribbon/string for a blood shot look. Guidance here.

Halloween 7 - Paperplate eyeballs

8. Milk Jug Ghosts

Take your plastic milk jugs, draw some Halloween faces and add battery night lights or string of Christmas lights.  Very effective and no rotting pumpkins!

Halloween 8 Milk Jug Faces

9. Toilet Roll Bats

Great as little favour boxes or suspend with string to decorate the walls.
Credit: Practically Functional

Halloween 9 - Loo Roll Bats

10. Juice Carton Haunted House

Ingenious – take some juice cartons, cut out windows and paint.
Here’s the step by step guide care of ‘Choose Cartons’

Halloween 10 - Juice Carton Haunted House


More Ideas

Halloween - More Ideas

For more handmade halloween ideas, including pumpkin carving templates, party food inspiration and other crafts, check out my Pinterest page ‘Handmade Halloween’

Halloween - Fancy Dress

For DIY fancy dress ideas, check out this amazing collection, including loads made from a simple cardboard box!

Happy Halloween!



Upcycle a shirt to a dress


The joy of turning something unwanted into something new is so satisfying and I wanted to share with you a really easy sewing project with you.  Sewing!  Before you sigh and switch over, reminded of disastrous classes at school, I promise this is an easy project to start with – you don’t even need a sewing machine, you can do this by hand with a simple running stitch.

So here’s my step by step guide  to turn a shirt into a toddler dress.

You will need

  • x1 gentleman’s shirt – a thick cotton shirt will be robust for summer, or go for a corduroy one for an autumnal pinafore dress
  • A toddler dress, to use as a template
  • Needle and thread – if you have a sewing machine it will, of course, be quicker
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Optional – extra fabric to make embellishments and decorations for the dress

Step 1 – Preparation

toddler dress onto shirt.jpg

Lay your existing dress over the shirt, making sure you line up the buttons down the middle of the dress.  Allowing for a seam, check that the top button will then form the top of the new dress when it is sewn together.  Pin the dress to the shirt into position, so it stays in place for cutting out.

Step 2 – Cutting Out

Allowing a 2cm seam, cut out the shirt to the same shape as the dress.

cut out.jpg

cut out2.jpg

There was a pocket on the front of the shirt I used, which I removed and I ended up covering up later with a flower embellishment.  But if your shirt has a pocket, you can always keep it, to make your project simple.

Don’t worry about raggedy edges (like mine!) – you’ll be making hems that will mean the edges will become neat at the end.


Step 3 – Pinning and sewing together

Next, lay the two pieces of the cut out shirt, right sides together.

right sides together.jpg

Now pin the dress in the following places: up the two sides and across the top of the shoulder.  Sew a running stitch (by hand or with the sewing machine) along where  you have pinned.

pin together.jpg

Step 4 – Hems and ironing

Next job is to hem the remaining edges.

  1.  Along the bottom of the dress
  2.  Around the arm holes
  3.  Around the neck


I folded the fabric twice over itself to give a nice neat finish.  Pin into place and sew a running stitch to hold the hems into place.

Iron out the seams and press out the hems on your new dress.

iron out seams.jpg

Step 5 – Adding decoration (optional)

I got carried away and made a flower decoration for the front of the dress – to cover up the pocket I removed.  To make the flower:

  • Cut out three pieces of contrasting fabric as shown
  • Layer them up and make a running stitch around the edges
  • Add a button for the centre

flower cut out.jpg       flower stack.jpg

Experiment with other embellishments: buttons into shapes; applique pictures; sew on badges; add ribbon or lace trim etc.

finished dress.jpg

Step 6 – Wearing and enjoying your creation

Ta da!  Your dress is ready.  Great on it’s own as a cool summer dress.  Or team with a T-shirt and/or leggings/tights for cooler weather.

Connie model

(Special thanks to my model, my niece Connie!)


More ideas

For more ideas on upcycling and customising clothes, see my board called ‘Customise’ on my Pinterest page:



7 Fathers Day Gifts In A Jar


There are loads of handmade ideas of Fathers Days gifts around, but I especially love the upcycled versions.   Whilst having a look on Pinterest, I’ve found lots of inspiration that include re-using a coffee jar or a jam jar – here’s my round up of ways to reuse the jar and fill it with goodies perfect for your Dad on Fathers Day.  Great projects you can do with the kids too (maybe with supervision on the cocktail one!)

1. Dad’s Stache

Fathers Day - Dads stache

This is so simple – take a jar, add the label and fill it with your Dad’s favourite sweets.  You can download and print the labels here. (c/o ‘”)

2. Cocktail Jar

Fathers Day - Cocktail Jar

Fill the jar with ingredients to make the perfect cocktail.  You can buy miniature bottles of alcohol in the supermarket.  Add to it some mixer cans to make his favourite cocktail.  Throw in some bar snacks/nibbles too and he’s all sorted!  Drink responsibly folks!

Ideas for cocktail mixes:

  • Cuba Libra – Rum miniature and Coca Cola
  • Mojito – Rum miniature and Tonic Water, lime and mint
  • Baileys and iced coffee
  • Gin and tonic
  • Moscow Mule – Vodka, lime and ginger beer

3. Tea Lover

Fathers Day - Tea Jar

If your Dad is a tea drinker, why not treat him to some loose leaf tea.  But he’ll need a mini tea strainer – I’ve found an affordable one here.  Add to it his favourite biscuits for dunking and you’re onto a winner.  Or maybe get the kids to help bake a batch of his favourite biscuits for an even more personal touch.

4. Coffee Lover

Fathers Day - Coffee.jpg

Or if he’s a coffee connoisseur, here’s a coffee version.  Add some of his favourite coffee pods, or a bag of ground coffee.  You could also add some mini syrups to flavour his coffee – I found ‘Monin’ make minature ones here.  Finally, add in some Biscotti biscuits to complete the treat.

5. Allotment/Gardener

Fathers Day - Allotment Jar

For all the gardeners or allotment tenders, how about a jar filled with some goodies to treat your Dad.  Include some new gardening gloves, hand balm, and if he’s growing his own, how about some vegetable seeds.

To make your own hand balm, click here.  Or if you’re not that way inclined, just buy some!

6. BBQ Lover

Fathers Day - BBQ jar

Perhaps your Dad reckons he’s the best barbecue chef in town!  I found this recipe for a barbeque rub c/o, but there’s loads out there if you google.  This one is great for ribs, pork or chicken – simply rub into the meat 20 mins before grilling.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Multiply up the recipe to fill the jar.  Add a wooden spoon or scoop to the outside.  Printable labels available here. (c/o http://www.kristendukephotography)

7. Movie Lover

Fathers Day - Movie Jar

Add to the jar raw popping corn which you can buy in all supermarkets.

To cook popcorn, add oil to the saucepan and put on a medium to high heat.  Add a couple of kernals to the pan to test that it’s ready for popping. As soon as it does pop, add enough corn to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add a lid and keep shaking the pan to avoid it sticking.

You could also add to the jar gift, some pre-mixed flavour sprinkles.  How about salt and chilli powder or sugar and cinnamon.

More information:

Fathers Day - More info

For loads more handmade Fathers Day ideas, check out my Pinterest board here.

For details on how to sterilise your jar, click here.

After you’ve given your jar present, why not re-use the jar again and turn them into little night lights for the garden.  Add a tea light candle to the bottom of the jar for little a twinkly glow.











Weekend Project

How to upcycle pallets to a sofa


My first blog – woohoo!  With a bank holiday weekend coming up, I thought it would be good timing to kick off this upcycling journey with a big one.  But don’t be put off, this is definitely something you could put together in a weekend.  We were looking for a corner sofa for our garden, but found the standard sets from garden centres were a bit pricey.  Searching around on Pinterest for outdoor furniture, I came across lots of inspirational pictures of furniture made from pallets.  This is a step by step guide for our version, but there are links to other ideas at the bottom of this article.

You will need:

  • x9 pallets (we got ours from Ebay, they cost peanuts and are free to collect if you find some locally)
  • lots of wood screws (an electric screwdriver will save your arm and alot of swearing!)
  • outdoor paint
  • Sponge for cushions (I bought made to measure sponge from E Foam)
  • Fabric to cover the cushion pads (To continue the upcycling theme, you could use old bed sheets or curtains.  For waterproof covers, you could use shower curtains)

Step 1 – Cut your pallets to size

Pallets - step 1

You could simply stack x3 pallets on top of each other to make the base, but we didn’t want the seat to be as deep.  We also didn’t need a back as our sofa is nestled into the corner of the house, so the walls have become the back of the seat.

Step 2 – Edge the front of the pallets

Pallets - step 2

We wanted to use the off cuts to edge the seating, but you could leave the pallets stacked as they are.

Step 3 – Paint

Pallets - step3

We used Cuprinol outdoor paint in a dark colour, but there are some fantastic colours available.  Also French Chic have just started to make outdoor paint – check out their ‘Al Fresco’ range of environmentally friendly paints.

Step 4 – Cushions (optional)

Pallets - step 4

If sewing is not your thing, instead of making full on sofa pads, you could just use scatter cushions and blankets to make your seating comfy and cosy.
My upcycled coffee sack scatter cushions are available on my website Delaney Designs.

Oh and the coffee table was made using four apple crates turned on their sides!  Add some candles and fairy lights and there you have it – a homemade, upcycled corner sofa for your garden.

More info:

Pallets - other ideas

  • For more inspirational pictures of pallet sofas, check out my Pinterest page ‘Outdoor Rooms
  • For ideas of other things to make with pallets, click here: ‘Pallets Upcycled