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Following through

After posting my list of gadget tutorials on Friday I was a bit inspired, and finally made a cover for my iPad!  I have owned it for about 6 months, without any cover on it, so this was very overdue.

And then because the pattern that I designed worked well, I made a few more!

These ones have all been delivered to the Shop Handmade where I stock my products, but I plan to make more this week that will then be stocked in my Etsy shop.  I made some to fit the iPad Air, and some to fit the iPad mini, so my next task is making some to fit the other iPads.  I love technology but why do they have to change the size slightly every time they release a new model?  Then again – it does give designers a chance to make new products each time, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain!

It felt good to be back sewing again.  Before I could get back to work I had to clean up the room.  It had become a dumping ground for anything extra in the lead up to our trip, so required some cleaning out, and tidying up.  I should have taken some before shots so that you can appreciate how amazing the after shots are!

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In the process I decided that it was time to be a little ruthless with my scrap boxes.  I suspect it was the result of my childhood training but I find it hard to throw away scraps of fabric – they can always be used in some sort of project, and so many of my scraps are from just delicious prints.  However 4 boxes of scraps was getting a bit ridiculous, particularly when I have so many larger pieces of fabric these days.  I was feeing resolute but guilty, and posted on Facebook about my decision.  And voilà – problem solved.  A friend who makes beads will take my scraps and make fabric beads from them!  Much better than throwing them away!

Cleaning up my room also meant that I had room to put away all the new fabric I bought in Hawaii, plus some more that arrived from Spoonflower too.  And that meant I could finally sit and catch up on custom orders.  The first was a library bag for a young woman in Grade 4.  She enjoyed picking her own fabrics and I am thrilled with the way her combination turned out.

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Over the weekend I also made up a custom order for a nappy (diaper) bag.  I am very happy with the way it turned out.  The fabric was chosen by the customer from Spoonflower, so is different from what I might have chosen myself, but it came together really well and completely suited her style.  I have a couple more custom orders to complete, and then can get back to designing.

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It is definitely time for some new bags – all that gorgeous fabric is sitting there tempting me!  I also need to update my Etsy shop – I have a couple of boxes of bags at home that are not listed there yet!  Time to get organised!

I hope that your week has started well, and that you have found time to do things that you enjoy!

 

 

Lining and strap detail of the lap top bag

Friday Finds – a list of tutorials on DIY gadget covers

Hooray – I have decided to re-start my Friday Finds posts.  This means that I provide a list of tutorials that you can use to make your own handmade whatevers.  (That is a technical term we bloggers use.)

Today I am cheating a little.  In my monthly newsletter (have you subscribed yet?  Why not!  Go on – over there on the right hand side!) for this month I included a list of links to tutorials for making iPad, lap-top and other gadget covers.  I was motivated to do this after I made my own laptop bag for my new laptop, affectionately named Reeba Toshiba.  I have roadtested the bag a few times now and am very happy with it.

Lap-top bag from re-purposed denim, leather and cotton

Front of my Lap-top bag from re-purposed denim, leather and cotton

 

 

 

 

Back of the lap top bag

Back of the lap top bag

Lining and strap detail of the lap top bag

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I plan to prepare a tutorial so that you can make your own, but in the meantime wanted to share some of the tutorials that I have gathered to gain ideas and inspiration on how to make your own gadget covers.

Tablet covers

A felt envelope case with a difference Purl Bee adapts to gadgets of different shapes and sizes.

Nancy’s Notions has a tutorial for making an Ipad cover that folds over the tablet to protect it.

A great tutorial that can be adjusted to fit a variety of tablets and gadgets is found in a guest post by Lindsay from Inspiring Creations on U-Create.

Jessi from Practically Functional has a tutorial for making an iPad stand and cover using a hard cover from a binder folder.

A different take on making a cover from a book is found on the V Spot blog in their free tutorial.

Creative Home Expressions has a tutorial on how to make a sleeve for a Kindle that closes with a loop and button.

Sew for Home have a pattern for an iPad or tablet case with a difference - it has pockets and room to carry a mobile phone along with the tablet. 

Dollarstore Crafts have a tutorial on making a gadget cover from a pair of old jeans.  (And you know how much I love repurposing denim!)  

Laptop covers and bags

A tutorial on Curbly uses placemats to make a laptop cover. 

On the Handmade Wagon you will find a tutorial for a laptop case that has a gusset (you know – a seperate piece that goes around the sides).

The Crafty Kitty has a tutorial for making an organice canvas laptop sleeve that closes with a button and loop.

Craft Habit has a tutorial to make a lap top bag with a strap.

Other lists

If you haven’t found something that you love in any of these links, then you can have a look at the list I have gather on my Pinterest board – Gadget Cases DIY or look at these lists that other sites have put together.

Sew Mama Sew – Gifts for gadget lovers

Shelterness – 15 Really cool DIY iPad covers

Topinspired – Top 10 DIY Laptop/iPad Sleeves

BuzzFeed – 28 Adorable DIY Gadget cases

I hope that you find something that inspires you to make your own case!

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A break, a tropical adventure and a catch up

I think that this has been my longest time between posts.  Ironic really that it happened at a time when I was busy due in large part to the very fact that I am a blogger.  But in fact all the social media, events, and trying to move into self-employed mode meant that I was overwhelmed with obligations, short on time, and juggling furiously.  And the blog got dropped (along with folding and sorting clean laundry, baking, grocery shopping and leg shaving).

And while I was off running around like a mad woman with hairy legs and rumpled clothes I realised that the chicks and I all needed a break, not from blogging, but from the busy times, from the cold, from the stress of school, doctor’s appointments, moving between houses, and adjusting to new parameters in life.  So I did something quite spontaneous, a little bit radical, and slightly financially reckless, and booked a trip to Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach!

Waikiki Beach!

 

The view from our balcony each day!

The view from our balcony each day!

One week later the chicks and I were in the sun, with sand between our toes, and with crystal clear waters to swim in on Waikiki beach.  We had a week there and have returned feeling refreshed, recharged and all those other ‘re-’ words.

Swimming at the Kuhio Park end of Waikiki Beach in the clear water.

Swimming at the Kuhio Park end of Waikiki Beach in the clear water.

It was wonderful!  We swam at the beach and in the pool most days, went snorkelling together at Hanauma Bay (where I was able to surprise my children with the fact that I have a lot of experience snorkelling thanks to growing up in PNG), explored fabric shops and did a bit of clothes shopping.  We had no plan and just went with what we felt like each day.  It was just what we needed.  The TV did not get turned on, we ate fairly simply during the day and found mainly suitable restaurants that served gluten free food for the girls at night, and all unwound.  We returned home with an extra suitcase to accommodate all the fabric, freezer paper and Lego that was bought.  (Yep, we have our crafty and nerdy priorities right!)

Freezer paper supplies purchased!

Freezer paper supplies purchased!

It was hard to have to sit by the pool, sipping a cocktail and watching the children swim.  (do you believe me?)

It was hard to have to sit by the pool, sipping a cocktail and watching the children swim. (do you believe me?)

A poolside cocktail?  Yes thank you!

A poolside cocktail? Yes thank you!

Hanauma Bay, Oahu.  It is a bay formed from an ancient volcano crater with a beautiful reef teaming with tropical fish.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu. It is a bay formed from an ancient volcano crater with a beautiful reef teaming with tropical fish.

The beach at Hanauma Bay, Oahu

The beach at Hanauma Bay, Oahu

So many things happened that made me stop and reflect, and tickled that part of me that is used to writing things down, and I realised that it was time to pick up the blog again.  And to take it back to the things that are important to me – sewing, family, and growing a business to sustain both of those passions!

Playing in the sand on Waikiki beach.

Playing in the sand on Waikiki beach.

Snorkelling fun at Waikiki.

Snorkelling fun at Waikiki.

I have really enjoyed the scheduled events of the Human Brochure experience, but now that the official discovery events are over I am looking forward to continuing my role in the process at my own pace and in my own way.  One of the lovely benefits that has come from the experience is that I am far more aware of what is available to enjoy in my own town, and have a lovely network of new friends to enjoy it with.  I am going to keep my detailed recording of it for the official blog though and keep this blog for me!

If you are a regular reader you will know that I love to write, and write and write.  So you might be worried that I am going to give you a blow by blow of the last three weeks…..but you don’t need to worry.  Highlights of the trip are about as detailed as it will get!

Things that fascinated me in Hawaii:

- the fact that so many shop keepers wanted to know where my husband was.  One lady said ‘oh is he at home working to pay for the trip?’.  I just smiled and said, he is at home working, and left it at that, because the children were there and I didn’t want to start the whole ‘I’m a single mother’ thing.  But I haven’t been asked that in Australia more than twice that I can remember.

- my lack of TV watching worked against me when the TV show Hawaii 5-0 was being filmed in and around our hotel and I had no idea who the famous actors were and who were the staff!

- my kids weren’t interested in watching ‘American TV’ or wanting to try out ‘American candy’ like my siblings and I were when we had our first trip to America 30 years ago.  Then I realised that they already see the shows that interest them, and can buy all the ‘American candy’ in our local store at home.  The glamorous foreignness of the USA has diminished dramatically over the last 30 years with globalisation making such things commonplace.

- reading on-line reviews is just as misleading there as it can be here!  I was trying to work out which were the best fabric stores for me to visit on our trip, as I knew that the kids were not going to be able to cope with more than one or two, so I turned to the internet and found all sorts of reviews on various sites.

Fabric Mart

Fabric Mart

One of the shops, Fabric Mart, had a long series of reviews talking about how rude the staff were, and how bad the shop was, etc, but it still seemed to be one worth visiting.  Another was said to have good staff but too expensive stock.  I discussed this with the chicks in deciding which one to go to, catching a taxi, and decided to try Fabric Mart, and just deal with any rudeness of the staff.

More tropical prints at Fabric Mart

More tropical prints at Fabric Mart

Of course the staff were not at all rude, and were in fact very helpful on many levels.  Which was lovely until my boy said, just as I was finishing my transactions “There is very good service here.  I don’t know why people said that there was bad service here.  These people are very nice and are going a really good job” and a bit more to the effect that the bad reviews were unjustified.  As I tried to shush him the ladies behind the counter laughed and chuckled and I realised that they had the right attitude.  They knew that their store was there to serve a particular part of the market (seriously – if you need any tropical print fabric they are the people to see) and weren’t bothered by the small mindedness of the reviewers.  And I learnt a lesson about sharing such comments with my children!

Tropical prints at Fabric Mart

Tropical prints at Fabric Mart

What now?  I have returned with arm-loads of fabric, lots of ideas, and some vague, half thought out designs for new bags.  I am trying to balance working on my contract work of admin and advertising, being available for the family, and leaving myself time to create.  I have some ideas about how I am going to manage it all, so will share the progress as I go!

My fabric shopping!

My fabric shopping!

In the meantime, it is nice to be back – both at home, and here on the blog. I hope that you have been well!

More human brochuring!

Last week I made an attempt at keeping up with blogging about all the amazing adventures that I have been having during the ‘discovery phase’ of being part of the ‘human brochure’ for Canberra.  And now I am behind again!  The human brochure blog is up and running, so I will put my detailed posts in there, and instead share my personal highlights here!

Last Friday night we were invited to attend a restaurant called Poacher’s Pantry, which is about 20 minutes outside Canberra, for an evening hosted by a group called Poacher’s Way.  This is a group of businesses who have joined together to promote the food, wine and tourism of the region.  This is one of those places that I have always heard about….. and never been to.

The delightful line up of Eden Road wines - all of them quite delicious!

The delightful line up of Eden Road wines – all of them quite delicious!

The delight of not just attending, but attending with all of the Poacher’s Way group represented was infectious!  I didn’t get to see and taste everything on offer because there was just so much goodness to be had – but did managed to strike up a conversation with one of the most flirtatious members of the group who happened to be offering tastings of his wine.  So I tasted the full range…… and it was a very good range!  I am going to have to do a cellar door visit to Eden Road Wines to sample a few more I suspect!

There were beautiful handmade chocolates, beautiful baked goods and cheese, suitably firey chilli oils, a dessert garden that included chocolate ‘soil’, delicious duck pancakes, and a coffee cocktail that was superb!  The baristas from one of Canberra’s great coffee houses, Two before Ten, prepared a cocktail using cold brewed coffee (steeped for 18 hours), freshly squeezed Granny Smith apple juice, and tequila.  (They told us that they came up with it while messing around one day.  Sure……)  Anyway – it was a beautiful and surprisingly fine blend of flavours!

The '101' cocktail from Two Before Ten baristas

The ’101′ cocktail from Two Before Ten baristas

We had to be ushered out in the end as I think we would have stayed for hours otherwise!  Adding it to the list of places to go back to under my own steam!

The next event that I made it to was an evening at the newest brewery to open in Canberra, Bentspoke Brewery.  I am not a big beer drinker, but thought a tour would be interesting.  It wasn’t just interesting – I learnt a lot about making beer, and cider, and was educated on how to properly taste beer!  One of the beers has oregano added to it, rather than a sweet herb, and it was light, fragrant and delicious!  The cider, however, was the winner.  Made with local apples it was made with brewers yeast so that the fermentation process didn’t remove all the sugar and flavour, so had no added sugar or concentrate – and was crisp, fresh and tasty!  (Oh – and the bar snacks were amongst the most delicious I have ever tasted!)

On Saturday I spent the whole day hanging out with the humans from the ‘Family Fun’ group and being shown around Canberra looking at ‘family fun’ options.  The first stop was the Australian Institute of sport where we were able to access parts of the AIS that aren’t on the ‘normal’ tour.  That was quite interesting.  We were told that a particular swimming pool as a high tech as they come.

Hi tech pool at the Australian Institute of Sport

Hi tech pool at the Australian Institute of Sport

The delightful Tom Edgar with one of our 'humans' Jemma, who is a good sport too!

The delightful Tom Edgar with one of our ‘humans’ Jemma, who is a good sport too!

I was internally scoffing because really, how high tech can a pool be?  Turns out it can be very high tech.  Oops!  In addition to all sorts of interesting things around how the water is filtered (using diatomaceous earth), and the length of the pool can be adjusted, it is also fitted with underground cameras and cameras that run on tracks along the bottom of the pool, which mean that 3D images can be created of the swimmers so that they and their coaches can study their stroke, etc, to see what can be improved.  Pretty fascinating!  We also got to watch the Commonwealth games gymnasts training, see fencing, basketball, and to hang out with a very cool, and very tall, olympic volley ball player, Tom Edgar.  And the icing on the cake?  They gave us water bottles full of water!!

The miniature figure on the toilet with a newspaper!

The miniature figure on the toilet with a newspaper!

The rest of the day was not quite as exciting as we re-visited Cockington Green and the Dinosaur Museum.  However it was good to see things in daylight and to be able to look without children to chase – and I did manage to get a better picture of the figure on the toilet that I wrote about, plus Freddy Kruger and Jason from Friday the 13th (I was corrected about my confusion over horror movies!!)

Freddy and Jason duelling it out in the sunlight

Freddy and Jason duelling it out in the sunlight

We also went to Questacon, the National Science Museum.  I have been there many time, but not recently and it was interesting to see new exhibits and to see old favourites.  Our guides conducted experiments for us – including spraying our tongues with food colouring so that we could see our taste buds to determine if we were supertasters or not.  Mine was strangely close to my hair colour!

Blue tongued Aussie?

Blue tongued Aussie?

There are a few more events to attend, and I am looking forward to them, but am also looking forward to focussing here on my normal posts about life in the nest and sewing!

If you are interested in reading my more detailed posts on my ‘human’ experiences around Canberra, and those of my fellow ‘humans’ then check out the website – Human Brochure.

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Real stuff

Although I have plenty more to tell you about and share with you about my human brochure experience (which continues to be quite awesome) it is time to return to regular programming and talk about sewing, or not sewing, family, growing, learning, etc. All the fun stuff that makes being alive interesting!

The last two weeks have been a bit tumultuous in the nest.  We tried a change in the boy’s medication and it was less than successful.  While we seem to be back on the right path now, it has been a rough road for him, the school, and the family.  He has been at home with me most days for the last fortnight, and has needed a lot of support.  And that means very little sewing.  I have custom orders cut out and ready to go…. but haven’t quite got to the machine.  Luckily I am keeping an eye on all my time lines and don’t think any of them will be late……. if all goes to plan! Instead of sewing he and I have built some impressive indoor forts.

The first indoor 'fort', including bedroom area.  (Lasted one day)

The first indoor ‘fort’, including bedroom area. (Lasted one day)

 

 

Second indoor fort built with better engineering, having learnt from the first.  This on had 'office spaces' and has lasted 5 days so far.  (Its days are now numbered.)

Second indoor fort built with better engineering, having learnt from the first. This one has ‘office spaces’ and has lasted 5 days so far. (Its days are now numbered.)

However, once again, the stress and trauma have provided life lessons and room for growth. I was very stressed, and felt under pressure in dealing with the boy’s father, worrying about my inability to work (and therefore earn income), and not being able to keep up with other commitments.  I let it get to me, and felt that the sky was falling.  Strangely enough this was not helping the situation at all.  (Yes you can imagine me rolling my eyes at my self at this point.)  Unfortunately I let the eldest chick (the one who carries all our worries on her shoulders despite my best efforts) see my stress, and become a part of it.  It has weighed heavily on her when I have calmed down and moved on.  Big lesson there about not catastrophizing, and keeping some perspective!

I also sat down with the boy and talked to him about how he and I needed to work together to help each other to find a way through these problems.  It gave him and I a new perspective, and we have spent the last two days celebrating the good in each other, and helping each other to deal with things going wrong. He has been coaching me in kicking a football (so supportive and encouraging with his non-sporty mother) and I have been helping him with strategies to stay calm when he feels frustrated. Between the two of us we have had some good days.  The house is chaotic, I have done no work, and I am behind in all sorts of things, but my stress levels are much lower, and he is much happier.  Big reminders for me about focussing on the important stuff, and letting go of the small stuff.

Through all of this there have been some wonderful moments.  I had a meeting with one of the owners of Handmade Canberra (you know – the place where I sell my bags and bibs, the people who organise the markets that I attend, and the place I rave about) and have agreed to do some work for them.  A bit of admin work, background stuff, and advertising pieces.  All ‘stuff’ that I enjoy, and a nice little piece of steady work to help balance the books with the bank!  I am very excited about the possibilities that this work will bring, and working with these lovely ladies, so am doing little happy dances up and down on the inside!  Plus it still leaves me time to sew, to grow my business and have flexibility to be with my family when they need me.

I was also fortunate enough to accompany the eldest chick on her interview to attend the high school that we have chosen for her.  She spoke with poise, grace, intelligence and a nice level of humour.  The principal who was interviewing her was warm, intelligent and caring.  I am hopeful that our application will be successful as I think this school will be very good for her.

The artist in residence has attended her first school camp this week and returned dishevelled, tired and very happy with her adventures!

I also made it to one human brochure experience at a new boutique brewery that I will write about in more detail soon, but which was a delightful experience (and this from someone who doesn’t really drink beer).

Two beers and one apple cider as part of our taste testing and experience at Bentspoke Brewery - more to come on this!

Two beers and one apple cider as part of our taste testing and experience at Bentspoke Brewery – more to come on this!

 

Spherical sculpture outside the National Gallery of Australia

Spherical sculpture outside the National Gallery of Australia

Then tonight I was able to have a last minute RSVP to an amazing experience at the National Gallery of Australia in an outdoor installation called ‘Within Without’ by James Turrell.  We had a talk from the curator, with background on the artist, the installation, etc, then were able to watch dusk through the skyscape.

The top of the entrance to the Within Without installation.  You enter a stoop, then the skyscape chamber.  Beautiful!

The top of the entrance to the Within Without installation. You enter a stoop, then the skyscape chamber. Beautiful!

Walking into the installation "Within Without" at the National Gallery of Australia.

Walking into the installation “Within Without” at the National Gallery of Australia.

The gardens and ponds surrounding the Within Without installation are beautiful pieces of art in their own right.  With ducks.

The gardens and ponds surrounding the Within Without installation are beautiful pieces of art in their own right. With ducks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to do more research on this installation and then write more about it, as this will rate as one of the best visual experiences I have had in my life.  Photos don’t do the experience justice – it is something that you need to see for yourself.  It was calm, peaceful and moving.  Just what I needed to help recentre myself.

While this week has been less than fun on many levels, it has also shown me that my decision to forgo a big salary and ambitious career, and to instead be self employed and not very wealthy, but to have the flexibility to have time with my family, to support them, and to make a new path for us was the right one.  Now if I can just manage some sewing……..