Ohio Star Patchwork Cushion

I am a big fan of patchwork and really enjoy making cushions from this easy but gorgeous pattern. It is definitely all down to the fabrics you choose that determines how cool this cushion can end up looking, so I would say take the time to pick colours and patterns that really work together. Here is a simple step by step guide on how to make the Ohio Star;

  • This block is based on a nine patch (3×3 grid) and is composed of triangles and squares
  • Decide on the size of your grid. If you are working on a 12″ block this will be made up of 9  4″ x 4″ squares
  • Two templates are needed – a square and a triangle that is 1/4 of that square
  • Add grain line and “Ohio Star” to templates
  • Place templates on the wrong side of chosen fabric (lining up straight grain) and draw around with a sharp pencil
  • 4 squares and 16 triangles will be needed in total
  • Cut out adding a 1/4″ seam allowance, by eye, on all sides of each shape. Place shapes in order.
  • Pin sets of two triangles and stitch along pencil line. Press seams open
  • Pin two sets of triangles together to form a square. Stitch and press seams open
  • Sew the block together, first into three rows then stitch rows together


  • Decide on the finished width of sashing – add 1/2″ for seams
  • Measure the size of your patchwork square
  • Cut sashing for for the top and bottom using the the measurements from one side of the pattern to the other and stitch in place. Press seams to sashing
  • Measure the length from top to bottom including the sashing you have already sewn and cut two stripes. Sew in place and press seams to sashing.

Quilt “Sandwich”

  • Place the patchwork block on the wadding and cut it 1/4″ bigger
  • Place the wadding on the backing cotton fabric and cut out
  • Tack all three layers together


  • Always start quilting from the centre of the work
  • Thread can be matching or a contrast
  • The purpose of quilting is to hold the three layers  together and it can be decorative as well
  • Start by either quilting a motif in the centre or quilt a line about 1/4″ within the square
  • Quilt within some of the triangles and all four of the outer squares
  • Quilt a line 1/4″ from the inner edge of the sashing


  • Cut a backing fabric the same size as the cushion front
  • Stitch a seam using 1/4″ seam allowance, gently round the corners. Stitch the line a second time for added strength
  • Clip the corners and turn right side out. Stuff with cushion pad
  • Slip stitch the opening

Saving Ercol

Restoring old furniture is fantastic! It’s so easy to do, especially when you find a piece of furniture that just needs a little bit if TLC. We spotted this hidden gem rummaging through Brighton Car Boot Market and couldn’t believe our luck when we noticed it was an Ercol Drop Leaf Table. After a little bit of early morning haggling, we walked away with it for £35 and no idea how it would fit in the car. Suddenly driving a mini wasn’t such a smart idea.

Physically the table was fine, just years of grime and even the odd wax crayon marking. With wood like this it’s best not to sand it too harshly, otherwise you’ll damage the grain. All this table required was a fair bit of elbow grease and a handful of wire wool. I took the table top apart so  it was easier to manage and got to work rubbing the table down. It’s amazing how quickly the wood comes back to life with very little effort.

To finish I used a simple Teak oil, which you can purchase at most hardware stores for a clean finish. You can apply with a brush, but I used a lint free cloth and rubbed on three coats. It came our brilliantly – now all we need to decide is where to keep it.

Yummy Chocolate Oreo Cup Cakes

Whilst Chris is definitely the Chef in this partnership, I want my forte to be Baking. So I have challenged myself to bake at least 1 new recipe a month. This is my first; Yummy Chocolate Oreo Cup Cakes. I was inspired by a recipe on goodtoknow, and put my own spin on it. I have to admit they tasted quite good!

Ingredients (makes 12)
For the chocolate cupcakes:

  • 100g plain flower
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼tsp of vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 600g icing sugar sifted
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 100ml whole milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) gas 3.
  2. Put flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder, salt and butter in a free-standing mixer with paddle attachment. Mix together until you have a sandy consistency. I don’t own a mixer, but managed to mix the ingredients with my hands, it produced the same results.
  3. Whisk milk, egg and vanilla in a jug. Slowly pour half into the mixture, beat to combine and then turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps. Again, if like me you don’t own a mixer you can use a wooden mixing spoon. You just need to be ready for a sore arm…
  4. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and pour in the remaining mixture. Continue to mix for a couple of mins. Do not over mix.
  5. Spoon mixture into the 12 cases and cook for 20 mins.
  6. For the chocolate buttercream: Beat icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a free-standing mixer on a medium speed. Turn down to a low speed and add milk gradually, once mixed turn up to a high speed again and beat for approx 5 mins and mixture is light and fluffy. This was a bit harder to achieve by hand, but through sheer determination I ended up with some gorgeous, and am proud to say, fluffy  buttercream icing.
  7. Use a piping bag and metal nozzle to pipe onto top of cooled cupcakes.
  8. Decorate with double chocolate Oreo’s or with whatever you fancy.

Fixie Racer Conversion


I’ve always fancied the idea of a fixie and thought why not give an old clapped out racer a new lease of life. I found an old Dawes racer at the Brighton YMCA who have a load of old bikes. They recycle all old bikes forgotten, and left locked up around Brighton. I was specifically looking for a 70′s racer as has a rear drop which allows me to add tension to the chain. The newer bikes don’t seem to have this.

Screwdrivers, Allen Keys, Cone Wrenches, Cable Cutting tool, Plyers, Crank Puller, Socket Wrench and a Hammer. I found a really good bike tool set from Halfords for under £20 which had everything I needed, plus some tools I’ve never worked out or will probably ever need!

Stripping the bike
The bike was incredibly rusty and greasy so it took ages to try get the parks apart. I started with the easy stuff like cables, brakes, wheels etc. The part I got really stuck on was removung the crank. You’ll need a special tool for this called a crank puller. Don’t use a hammer as it will do more damage than good and the tool was under £10. Watch this video for tips on how to remove it.

Removing a bike crank with a crank puller

Once I got all the parts taken off the bike it was time to clean the frame up before spraying it. There was a fair bit of rust which I had to get off and stripped as much paint off as possible. You can look to get it stripped down through sandblasting for a really clean finish, but I thought as this was first fixie re-build I wanted to keep the costs down. It took ages but I managed to get it as smooth a possible.

To start the spraying I used grey primer for the base coat, which was a spray tin available from any car body shop. Most of the tips I found were to use many light coats, side to side spraying and not to do it close. I sprayed the bike outside as there was little wind or rain, below is an example of the forks with the full primer undercoat. After it dried I used a gloss black as the final coat. Again, I used many coats to build up the final finish and then left the finished parts to harden in a hot shed for a week.

Putting it all back together

I think this probably took the longest amount of time, in no part due to the work, but mostly because I’d misplaced all the parts and they took ages to clean the old grease off. I managed to source new rims from Ebay and installed two options on the rear. A fixed gear and a normal single gear. The idea is to just switch the wheel around if you want want it fixed or not.





I found some classic pedals with brown leather straps to match the old school brown bar tape. They’re all from the Old Bicycle shop, check out their site if you’re looking for rare bike parts.

This was a great weekend project, and made me feel like I was kid again mucking around with my old bike parts. Highly recommended!

View a gallery of the fixie project – Photo Gallery 


Make Stuff. Be Happy | Food & Lifestyle Blog

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