Two steps forward, one step back

My small start back into sewing went quite well last week.  I made a few more iPad covers, remembered (well – was reminded) that I still ‘owed’ my kids a few promised sewn projects, and started developing some new designs.

One of the products that I want to develop is a man’s wallet.  (I also want to make a woman’s wallet/purse but with Father’s Day around the corner thought that the men’s products had to take priority!)  I played around with some ideas and then made this prototype.

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I put it up on my Facebook page and asked for feedback.  Quite a few of my lovely female followers responded, with many of them commenting that it needed a closure of some description.  There were also comments on fabric, leather, colour etc, but I am not too concerned about those as simply making items with different combinations addresses that issue.  However I was concerned about the fastening issue, so I put a post on my personal Facebook profile, asking for input from males on the question of fasteners on wallets.  The first response was ‘No fastener for me. If you need one of those you’re not a man.’  And the following 40+ responses followed that pattern, except for one friend who responded that he had a fastener, then read the other comments and made various ‘manly’ statements to reclaim his manhood.  The respondents were of varied ages, educations, locations, backgrounds etc, so I think this is a fairly definitive indication that men do not like fasteners on their wallets!   I will tinker a bit with the design and hope to make some more this week, and will be sure to label the wallets as ‘man approved’ so that the women buying them don’t think they should have a fastener!

I also put out some feelers on whether people preferred baby bibs to fasten on the back or the side.  The responses were mixed, so I have decided for my next range of bibs to do a bit of both!  This was a custom order, but I plan to make a few more, and make some square ones with teether chews.

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I then had a great Saturday afternoon and produced a Kindle cover, shoulder bag, and library bag for my chicks (finally!!)

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The shoulder bag as a work in progress

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Kindle cover

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Library bag for the boy using the fabric he chose some weeks ago.

My steps forward were going well.  But I feel like I am going backwards this week.  The boy only managed to last 40 minutes at school today.  Last week he was there most days for between one and two hours, so I had some time to get things done.  This week, although we have only just started, I am feeling much more dejected about my ability to sew, to earn a living on my own terms, and to keep everything afloat.  I have finally decided to apply for some government benefits to help out.  While part of me feels grateful that the services are there, the other part of me is falling into a deep well of self pity wondering how I went from high-flying lawyer to government benefits.  Of course I know the logical answers – parenting a child with special needs means a change of course – but it is still sucking the energy out of me.    My mission this week, then, is that, in between filling out many, many, many forms, and organising my financial records for my tax return, I will find time to make things that are fun, and will re-energise me.

One of my ideas is to make a few more stencilled bags.  I made these two over the weekend as gifts, and enjoyed it, so a few more will be fun!

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I have also been playing with ideas for handwarmers and road tested a couple  with my boy and his friend yesterday – and received positive feedback from them, so will try to make a few more – sure to get me up and going!

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Right.  Here I go, off to get re-energized and move forward again!

 

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Friday Finds – a list of tutorials for making a crocheted floor rug

In the process of making the crocheted floor rug for my daughters’ room from recycled t-shirt yarn (also known as ‘tarn’ and by the brand name ‘zpagetti’) I found a pile of patterns to draw inspiration from.  I am now slightly stalled in the process of making a rug for my son’s room, so hope that by revisiting those tutorials to share with you I might kick start myself back into action!

Making T-shirt yarn

Tutorial on Mollie Makes – how to make t-shirt yarn

Clear diagram on the interestingly named Fuck Yeah Craft site – making t-shirt yarn

Video and instructions on ReleveDesign – how to cut continuous t-shirt yarn

Polka Dot Pineapple – Tutorial on making t-shirt yarn

Making rugs

Upcycle magazine – How to make an Upcycled Crochet Rug

NobleKnits Knitting Blog – How to crochet a Rag Rug tutorial

Eclectic Me – Who said Grannys don’t look good in denim?  (tutorial for a denim crocheted floor rug)

Impatiently Crafty – Round Crochet Rag Rug tutorial

Flight of the Pook has created a vlog series on Great Big Fat Crochet.

King Soliet – detailed post and lots of ideas on making Upcycled Crochet Rug

Sugar Bee Crafts – Rag Rug Tutorial

Bauta Witch has a tutorial for creating a crocheted rug, that includes lighting!  There is an English translation at the bottom of the post.

This Ripple rug pattern on the Sweet and Knit blog is written in Spanish, but is easily translated and results in a gorgeous floor rug.

It has worked!  I am off to pick up the hook again – and hopefully have some photos of the finished product before too long!

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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!