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the best way to give a gift?

15 Jun

The truth is that right now I’m in Cornwall and nowhere near my desk (I sincerely hope this is the truth), but with the wonders of modern technology, I’ve scheduled this post so that you all know that I’m never too far away… muahahaha. No, but really, there are so many things to share, it seemed simply bad form to skidaddle for five days without sending some sort of virtual postcard. This postcard includes something very useful thanks to the creative miss w Creative Miss W – she’s posted on her blog a fantastic video that shows you how to transform a scarf into a bag in seconds, without sewing a single seam. Hallelujah. I mean, I love to sew, but we live in a world of instant and disposable products – it’s good to know that we can have this a little at home too! As my mother says, life’s too short to stuff a tomato.

This is my attempt at the scarf-bag transformation. Please forgive the poor photography – I only have so many hands. The actual bag, I promise, is incredibly cute. What a fabulous way this would be to wrap a gift. There are so many scarfs in charity shops it seems, and I’ve always thought that they’re so pretty, but haven’t known what I could use them for. Dilemma sorted. Thanks Miss W!

Looking forward to sharing a real postcard of Cornwall with you all, and maybe, just maybe (the sewer lives in constant hope) some exciting crafting finds… You never know when fate will land a new tool/fabric/technique on the doorstep.


rule-breaking bunting

13 Jun

I am incredibly excited. Not only am I off to the heavenly Cornwall tomorrow for a cheeky break with the boy-o, I’m also celebrating my birthday this week and getting wasted (sorry, having a party) on Saturday to bring in the new year of my life. I’m just throwing a small do at my house centring around a nice meal (food and drink will ALWAYS take centre stage in my abode). But I still want to make some home-made decorations, and today I’ve had a go at making a little bunting…

The best thing about this bunting is that I’ve finally found a use for these old bedsheets that I took from my mum’s airing cupboard. I love the pattern on them but they just haven’t worked well for patchwork quilts – the fabric crinkles instantly which makes cutting neat squares far too time-consuming.

Now, thanks to the tip-off from baby bandito, I did have access to a wonderfully detailed, beautifully put together tutorial on how to make bunting. It really is a gem of a tutorial. Do take a look if you’re interested.

But me being me (the word ‘lazy’ doesn’t begin to capture it), I just decided to take a quick glance over the tutorial, and then try my luck with some good old-fashioned slapdashedness. The outcome is pretty cool I think – it certainly lifts my living room (but the alcohol will also surely help with this!). Et voila, the three rules that I proudly trampled over:

– No need for a triangle template, I just used my eyes and corrected for any differences at the sewing machine

– I didn’t bother using bias binding, just hemmed on both sides the stretch of fabric that holds the triangles together

– A ruler, an iron, coordinating thread? Not for me thanks – I’ll just tell my guests that any mistakes (I prefer ‘unique touches’) were wholly intended. But honestly, I don’t understand our (the sewing community) constant demand for colour-matching fabric and thread. I love it when thread is a different colour and stands out – particularly if it’s something fun like bunting. Is this just me??

the scissors are right here…

11 Jun

After prodding from some readers (gratefully received! thank you magic and drudgery and the creative miss w) I have made my craft belt! I am incredibly proud of it – I know exactly where my scissors are for the first time ever – but I have to admit that it is most certainly a triumph for slapdash sewing. I do think this blog should be renamed ‘the slapdash sewer’ – I never realised before starting the blog just how lazy I really am.

The tutorial from Kerri-made that I’d all advised you to follow turned out to be a little harder than I’d at first thought. And the thing is, this craft belt is not a gift for anyone. For me, it just needs to be an item that functions and is durable. So, hands up – I’m guilty, I turfed the instructions from that tutorial out the window and went for a bit of my good old friend intuition.

I think it worked – I hope you agree. It’s a cute little belt, with different fabric pockets (something that greatly pleases the patchwork quilter in me who constantly wonders about the poor little, often chucked, scraps of fabric left at the end of any big sewing project). Here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Cut two 1 metre-long lengths of fabric and hem them so that no loose edges of fabric are left.

Step 2. Cut a rectangle of fabric (c. 20 cm by 60 cm, but play this part by ear.. or eye) and hem around the edge.

Step 3. Sew each length from Step 1 to the top of the rectangle, beginning from half way along. You will end up with the lengths sewn to the top of the hemmed rectangle, and two extensions of fabric from the top of the rectangle that will tie at the back. Ta da – you have the basic part of your fabric belt. Now for the pockets…

Step 4. If you want to be really quick and slapdash about it, just cut some rectangles and squares of varied fabric (or even better, find scraps) and sew these onto the rectangle of the belt – no hemming, nothing. If they’re the kind of fabric that doesn’t fray, this’ll work just fine, and let’s be honest, it’s a craft belt, not a dress for the Oscars red carpet. If you want to be a little tidier, then make the pockets by…

Step 4b (for tidier pockets). Doubling up the pockets for the material (so that there are two pieces cut to the same shape and size). Hem one side of these fabric patches. On all the other sides, sew the fabric patches together inside out, so that when you turn them inside out, you end up with a stand-alone pocket with a hemmed top. Sew this to the rectangle of the craft belt.

Step 5. You might like, as I did, to have a larger pocket at the front, with two slimmer pockets either side. For the large front pocket, you can add detailing by sewing a line down the middle to create different pockets. It all depends on what you want to keep in your craft belt.

And there we go. The craft belt is made. And you are ready to start crafting. Which is good news for me because I have soooo much to do this weekend. I’ve just signed up for a craft fair in Swindon, which I’m incredibly excited about, but this will mean really going to town with my inventory and increasing it by about 500%! I can’t wait to get started – especially as I visited a junk shop just a couple of days and got the most incredible amount of stash for just £6. The joys of upcycling! I can’t wait to show you some of the things I’m working on… and hopefully I’ll be ten times more efficient because of the craft belt.


p.s. I’ve posted some new pictures of me wearing the maxi dress I made a week or so ago that I think show it off a little better. Please excuse the vanity.

oh crap… where are the scissors?

6 Jun

I don’t have much room to work in when I’m crafting. Things are a bit of a tight squeeze. One of the major downsides of working in amongst so much bloody stuff (are crafters hoarders by nature?) is that you end up losing stuff constantly. To be fair, I can’t completely blame the space I’m working in – this is also a character trait.

me: where are my scissors…. oops, there they are.

me 2 mins later: oh no. where have they gone now?

This is why I need to make myself a craft belt. Then when I’m not cutting, or threading, or sewing, I can put my tools ON ME. Safe and sound. And then I found this tutorial. Amazing – my woes are sorted. Well, they will be as soon as I’m back home, with my sewing machine (hallelujah! This sewing only by hand is starting to get me down), and I can design a beautiful pleated craft belt. If I haven’t blogged with a picture of me in a craft belt within a week, please prod and poke me until I come up with the goods!

A new bag in less than an hour…

5 Jun

So I’m leaving Australia in about 48 hours and returning to a British summer (that apparently, rather untypically, is baking hot). This might mean that a beach bag is no longer an essential for me, but I’ve decided to leave my sister with a beach bag made from the fabric left over from the maxi dress I made a week ago.

This is such a simple design and can work with all different types of fabric, but my recommendation would be something with a little bit of give – nothing too heavy or stiff. Having said that, you want something a little durable if it’s going to achieve the first priority of any good bag – to not break and drop all your stuff out of the bottom! That’s happened to me and it was no fun!

1. Right, the first step is to cut two equally sized ovals from the fabric – the exact shape and design is up to you.

2. Then, using a saucepan lid as your template, cut out a circle from each side.

3. This bit is up to you, but I hemmed all of the loose edges, so that I wouldn’t be caught out by any fraying.

4. I sewed the two sides together along the outside of the ovals, and then within the top semi-circle of the inside circle.

5. Again up to you, but I reinforced the bottom of the bag (as the fabric is quite flimsy and I was handsewing my way around) by sewing loops in and out of the edge.

6. Finally, for a bit of detail, I wound a long piece of the fabric around the handle of the bag. This bundles the fabric together, making it look a little tigther. I then used a running stitch to keep this piece of fabric in place.

And there you have it. A bag to make you proud at the beach.  The beauty of this design is that a) it’s speedy, especially if you have a sewing machine and b) you can customise or change any part of it that you like. You’ll end up with something quite special… though maybe you’d have to ask my sister whether she agrees!