Category Archives: Sewing

Tutorial – the Oma tote bag and yarn pouch

Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

Last year I had my first pattern published in a magazine called ‘Love Sewing Australia’.  I decided that, with the cooler weather approaching, it was time to share it with you.  The pattern is for a tote bag with a matching Yarn bag (to carry wool for knitting or crochet projects) but can be adapted to many uses.

For those of you who don’t know the story, my grandmother, Oma, is now 99 years old.  Last year, when she was turning 98, she asked if I could make her a new bag that she could use to carry her glasses, her water bottle, her cushion (she is tiny!) and other important things.  Her instructions were that the bag was not to be an ‘old lady bag’.  I mused over this for a while, then made this bag for her.

Oma bag|a little bird made me

The original Oma bag

My Oma spent many hours teaching me to sew, to embroider, and to enjoy other handcrafts when I was young, so dedicating this pattern to her was a small way of showing her how grateful I am that she contributed to my love of making!

My beautiful grandmother, Oma, on her 99th birthday.

My beautiful grandmother, Oma, on her 99th birthday.

Intro:

This project shows you how to upcycle that old worn out pair of jeans into a gorgeous bag that you can use for going to the office, on a weekend adventure, or to the shops.  The accessory yarn bag is perfect for knitting or crocheting on the go, with your yarn accessible but protected from dust and dirt, and from escaping and rolling across the floor of the bus, train, classroom or office.

Top tips:

Using the pockets of your jeans as a feature on the outside of your yarn bag adds a useful outer pocket that can also hold your phone, crochet hooks or a small pair of scissors.

The seam allowances in this project are 0.5cm.  If you are more comfortable with wider seam allowances the project will still work, as long as you are consistent and use the same seam allowance on all seams.

Fusible fleece is often sold without instructions on how to attach it.  To attach your fleece, heat your iron to the temperature appropriate for the fabric that you are attaching the fleece to.  Lay the fleece on the ironing board, with the glue dots facing up, then lay the fabric you are attaching on top of the fleece, covering the fleece completely, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Lay a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top of the two layers and using your iron, begin in the middle of the piece and iron out towards the corners using a slow steady motion.  You will need to repeat this a couple of times to ensure that the fleece has adhered well.  Do not rest the iron in one spot for too long as you may scorch your fabric.  Don’t let the fleece touch your iron as it will make a sticky mess of your iron plate.  Let it cool before sewing the now fused fleece and fabric.

Materials

Outer

1 pair denim jeans, or  0.5m of denim, canvas or decorator weight fabric

0.25 m feature fabric (quilting cotton is used here)

Lining

0.5m quilting cotton, homespun or broadcloth

36cm Vilene H640 fusible fleece

A zip that is at least 30cm long.

A piece of stiff interfacing 9cm x 28cm

Tools

Iron

Sewing Machine (Zip foot optional)

Ruler

A rotary cutter and mat is useful but not essential.

 

Dimensions

Oma Tote – Base 25cm wide x 10cm deep.  Bag 30 cm long x 34 cm wide.  Straps 54cm long x 4cm wide.

Yarn Bag – 23cm x 23cm

 

Cutting

Repurposing Denim jeans

To prepare your denim jeans for repurposing, cut the inner leg seam on both legs, then up the front centre seam and around the zip.  This will enable you to lay your fabric out flat and assess which pieces are most suitable for use.  Check wear around knees, the seat, and the inner thigh.  This does not mean that you can’t use the fabric, but you may need to add reinforcing with fusible interfacing.

If your fabric has a stretch to it, it is useful to have the grain across the width of the pieces you cut to increase stability.

 

Denim Pieces

Bottom – 35.5cm x 12.5cm (2)

Top –  35.5cm x 6.5cm (2)

Straps –9cm x 50cm (2)

Internal pockets 20cm x 25cm (1) and 10cm x 25cm (1).

Base – 18cm x 28cm (1)

Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1) (NB. I included the back pocket of the jeans within the square which adds both a feature, and a useful pocket to the outside of the yarn carrier.)

Lining fabric

Lining cotton – 35.5cm x 35.5cm (2)

Yarn bag lining – 24cm x 24cm (2).  (NB you may need to join some fabric together in order to create the lining pieces but this will not affect the bag.)

Feature fabric

Bag – 35.5cm x 19cm (2)

Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1)

Fusible fleece interfacing

Bag – 34 cm x 34 cm (2)

General Instructions – Yarn Bag

This is a pouch that will carry two balls/skeins of yarn with openings to allow you to use the yarn while protecting it from dust, dirt etc.  A bag like this means that you can crochet or knit wherever it suits you!

1. The first step is to insert your zip. A zip foot is useful for this, but not necessary.   Take your square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip.  The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other.  Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side.  Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim.  This is often described as a zip sandwich.  Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge 0.5cm from the edge.

Oma Tote and yarn Bag|a little bird made me

The Zip sandwich – denim, zip and lining

Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

  1. Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down. Repeat the same step with the feature fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip.
  2. Using an iron press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat.Oma Tote and yarn Bag|a little bird made me By topstitching along the edge of the seam, the lining won’t get caught in the zip when you are using the bag. To do this measure 2.5cm from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop 2.5cm from the other end.  (If you sew across the whole edge of the zip you will not be able to create neat corners when you put the sides of the bag together.)  Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.
  3. Now you will create the yarn feeding holes in your bag. Measure and mark with chalk or a sewing marker  two points on the lining on the feature fabric side of the bag that are 7.5cm from each edge, and  5cm from the zip and fabric seam.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made meThese are the starting points for your buttonholes.  Using your preferred technique for making a button hole, make two buttonholes that start at those points and are 1.5cm long.

 

  1. In order to assemble the yarn bag you should open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip. Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the outer fabric together and match up their edges.  This won’t look nice and flat and neat due to the buttonholes, but is still very manageable given the amount of fabric involved.  The teeth of the zip should be facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.

 

  1. You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about 5 cm below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining. When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric up a bit so that instead of sewing in a straight line you feel as if you are sewing a curve.  This is to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

 

  1. Once you have sewn the edges of the bag, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed. Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.

 

  1. Then turn your bag inside out, or outside in, so that the outer fabric is facing out and the lining is tucked in the bag. It will be a little wriggly due to the buttonholes, but it will happen without too much commotion.  Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly.  A chopstick is very handy for both operations.  Then either handstitch the side seam in the yarn bag closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.

 

  1. You can now place your yarn in the bag, with the ends poking out through the buttonholes, so that you can use your yarn without the balls rolling away across the floor of the train, bus or lounge that you are in. If you are likely to use more than two colours at a time you could place a third buttonhole in the bag to allow for three colours.

 

General Instructions – Oma Tote

  1. The first step in creating your tote is to piece together the fabric for the outside of the bag. Pin the long edge of one bottom piece of denim (35.5cm x 12.5cm) to the long edge of a piece of the feature fabric (35.5cm x19cm) with the right sides together.  Sew a 0.5 cm seam along this edge then press the seam down towards the denim piece, and top stitch along the denim piece about 0.5cm from the seam.  You can choose to use a coloured thread to make a feature of the stitching, and may like to add a second line of stitching 1 cm parallel to the first line to give it a nice finish.  I used white thread here, so it blends into the denim and can only be seen subtly.

 

  1. Then pin the long edge of the top piece of denim (35.5cm x 6.5cm) to the long edge of the feature fabric with the right sides together and sew them together with a 0.5 cm seam. Again, press the seam towards the denim piece and top stitch on the denim 0.5 cm from the seam.

 

  1. Repeat this with the denim and feature fabric for the other side of the bag.

 

  1. You now have two pieces measuring 35.5cm x 35.5cm. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me. Place your squares of fusible fleece (34cm x 34cm) onto the wrong side of each piece, and apply following the manufacturer’s instructions. My tip on the way to attach the fleece is that when you are preparing the fabric and fleece for ironing, you should check that the fleece is on the bottom, with the glue dots facing up, then the fabric is on top, with the wrong side facing the fleece, and then a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top.  This will help to ensure that the fleece is well adhered to the fabric.  The fleece is smaller than the outer piece to reduce the bulk of your seams.
  1. Once the fleece is attached, place these two pieces together with their right sides facing each other, and match the seams on each side and pin them in place. Sew from the top edge of the top denim down the side, across the bottom and back up the other side with a 0.5 cm seam.
  1. Now you are going to make the corners of the bag. With the fleece side still facing out, fold the bottom corner of the bag  so that the bottom seam and the side seam are lined up over each other, and the sides of the bag are pushed out into a triangle shape.  Pin this corner in place. Measure a point 4cm (1.5 inches)from the point of the corner along the seam, and then mark a line across the bag that should measure 8cm (3 inches). Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made meRepeat this with the remaining corner and then sew a seam, reinforcing with a second row of stitches, along the marked line.  Trim the excess fabric so that a seam allowance of about 1cm is left.
  1. This is the time to make and insert the base of the bag. Adding a base gives your bag some stability, without too much rigidity. Take your base piece of denim and fold it in half width wise so that you have a piece 9cm x 28cm.  Insert your stiff interfacing inside the folded piece and either fuse it, or simply sew it in place.  I used a fusible interfacing, and then zigzagged around the edges to hold everything in place. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

 

  1. To insert the base line it up along the base of your bag so that the ends slightly overlap your corner seams. Attach the base to one corner of the bag by sewing through the existing corner seam, and the base so that the base is connected at the corner of the bag.  Then, ensuring that you have the base flush with the bottom of the bag, repeat the same method on the other side of the bag.  Trim away the excess from both the base and the seam allowance of the corner seams, and then turn your bag so that the outer fabric is facing out.  Using your fingers crease the edges of your corners so that the base sits neatly in the bottom of the bag.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag |a little bird made me

 

  1. To make the straps fold each piece with the right sides together across it’s width so that you have two pieces that are 4cm x 50cm. Stitch along the long edge of each piece with a 0.5cm seam, then iron the seam allowance open.  Turn the straps inside out and press them so that the seam is along the middle of the strap.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me Top stitch along each side of the strap 0.5cm from the edge, and, if you are using a feature colour thread, add a second row of stitching to create a nice finish.
  1. At the top of the bag use pins to mark a spot 10cm from each edge of the bag so that you have two spots on each side of the bag. Take one strap and pin it to the top edge of one side of the bag so that the seam of the strap is facing out, and the end of the strap is extending slightly past the top of the bag.  The strap will appear to be upside down.  Ensuring that the strap is not twisted (which is where having the seam to follow is useful) pin the end of the strap to the second point on that side of the bag in the same way as the first.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me Repeat this on the other side of the bag, then stitch the straps in place just under 0.5cm from the top edge of the bag.
  1. In order to prepare the lining you need to first prepare your inner pockets.  Take the piece of denim that you have cut to be 20cm x 25cm and fold in half with right sides together, so that it measures 20cm x 12.5cm.  Sew around the three edges of the rectangle, leaving a gap of  about 10 cm to enable turning in the right way.  Clip the corners, turn it inside out,  and press the seams so that the opening seam is tucked inside the pocket.  Take one piece of the lining fabric, and pin the pocket to the lining so that the centre of the pocket aligns with the centre of the fabric, 8cm from the top of the lining piece.  Sew the three side of the pocket to the lining, adding some reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket on both side.  Sew a line from the bottom to the top of the pocket half way across the pocket, adding the reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket.Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

 

  1. The second pocket is to assist with holding knitting needles. Take the piece of denim that you cut to be 10cm x 25cm, fold in half so that it measures 5 cm x 25cm and, using the same method as the first pocket, attach the pocket to the second piece of lining fabric.  I attached mine so that it was in the centre of the bag, 5cm from the top.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me You may decide to have the pocket more to the side so that long needles don’t interfere with the straps.  In that case you could attach it 5cm from the top, and 7cm from the side.
  1. With the two right sides of the lining facing each other, sew down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Using the same technique as the outer bag create the corner of the bag to measure 8cm across.
  1. To assemble the bag place the outer bag inside the lining, so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each, the tops of the two pieces are aligned, and the side seams of the outer and inner bags are aligned. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag |a little bird made meAfter pinning the two pieces together sew around the top edge of the bag 0.5cm from the edge, leaving a gap between the two straps on one side in order to be able to turn the bag inside out.  Sew an extra row or two of stitching over each strap to reinforce these points.  Turn the bag inside out, tuck the lining inside the bag, fold the edges of the opening inside the seam and press the seam.  Finish the bag by top stitching around the edge of the bag to close the gap and create a neat finish to the bag.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made meCongratulations!!

I would love to see any bags that you make using this pattern – tagging me on Instgram is a great way to share your photos!  (@alittlebirdmademe).

Now I am off to sit in front of the fire and warm my toes for a while!

 

The rest of my ‘month in the life’ photo challenge

A couple of weeks back I shared the first half of my ‘month in the life’ photo challenge that I was completing with prompts from the lovely Jess from Create and Thrive on Instagram.  I am proud (and quite amazed) to say that I posted every single day for the month of August!  Without further ado, here is the remainder of my photos!

I enjoyed sharing a bit of ‘me’ and my business through this process – I hope to do it again next year!  If you would like to follow me on Instagram you can find me @alittlebirdmademe.

A sale!!

The last few weeks have been full of all sorts of news, decisions and sewing.  I was laid low with a virus for a while which, while making it impossible for me to do anything, did give me lots of thinking time!  One of the results is a sale in my (slightly neglected) Etsy shop – 50% off any purchase over $10 between now and 14 September 2014 by entering the code SEPT2014 at checkout.

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After the sale I will launch fresh new products, so watch this space!!

I have had to make the heart-breaking decision not to hold a stall at the upcoming Handmade Markets in October.  I love selling at the markets, interacting with customers, getting a feel for what is working with my creations and what isn’t.  But to do that I would need to be creating and sewing flat out for the next month, and that isn’t possible while I am working to stabilize things for my children.  (If anyone ever says glibly that kids are fine and adapt to divorce easily please feel free to punch them in the nose from me!  5 years on and there are still new challenges on a regular basis.)  However it means time to work on new products without rushing, time to build up stock for the Christmas markets, and time to think about how we are living our life.  All good things to be working on and thinking about!

Today was Father’s Day here in Australia, so there has been much activity making in preparation for it.  In addition to the wallets I designed to be ready for gift purchases, I also thought that these ‘man-bags’ might be fun,

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and then spent some time playing around with a design for coin purse key rings, with a card carrying pocket.  I have been using the garment leather I bought from Fabric.com and it is sewing beautifully.

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I also finished preparing the pattern to make this lunch bag, sandwich wrap and snack bag set for the magazine ‘Love Sewing Australia’.  I got quite a bit of positive feedback when I posted it on my Facebook page, so will be making a few to sell in the next few weeks.

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I have also been experimenting in my free time.  I had a 24 hour period of no children this weekend, and while several of my friends thought I would be out partying (!!) in fact I used the time to try to work out how to put a zippered top in my messenger bag pattern.  I am not quite there yet, but think I have worked out how I want it to go in…..   after two hours, quite a bit of unpicking, some mild cussing, and a few light-bulb moments!  Hopefully I can share the story soon!

I hope that you have been having a good week.  The Spring weather has started here, with occasional days like today when you just want to bask in the sunshine, followed by days when you wonder whether winter has returned!  But that little promise of Spring is enough to see me booking a camping trip for October, and starting to think about gardening, mowing, and being outside more!

 

Pottering along

I have been tagged in a blog-along thingy to write about why I write.  This is not the post that will address that.  However thinking about the blog, my business and how it all fits together has been bubbling away in my mind.  When I started the blog I worried that I posted too often and bombarded my followers.  Now I feel that I have abandoned my blog, and my readers.  I have been reflecting on why this has happened and realised that writing here at some point shifted from something that I loved to do, that was like therapy, to something that I had to do but couldn’t seem to find time for.

I have decided that I want to rediscover some of the joy I had from blogging, so will try to post little bits and pieces more regularly.  I think I have also been trying to balance not writing about all the hard stuff in my life, and when things are really hard it means that I don’t write at all.    This, then, is a quick snapshot of what is happening in my life at the moment, with little bits of the hard stuff included.

After years of juggling a high pressured career, and being an organised single parent, and having a neat and tidy home, cared for garden, and an organised house, now that I am home full time I seem to run late for everything, never catch up on folding and sorting the laundry, have truly dirty floors, and forget important dates on a regular basis.  I don’t seem to have time to blog, to sew, to bake, to hang out with my friends, and yet I am allegedly a ‘lady of leisure’!  Now part of it is getting sucked into the vortex of the internet and losing time that way.  But there is more to it than that.  I suspect it is going to take me a while to adjust to this whole concept of creating my own structure, rather than responding to the structure of an office job.

I am setting myself small targets this week.  First of all to clear the back order of custom orders that I have.  Then to spend a day working through the house from front to back and returning it to order and cleanliness.  (I almost added five more things to the list, but if I can do these two I will be very happy!)

A custom order that has been waiting for a while to be made!

A custom order that has been waiting for a while to be made!

I am also back to wondering about the ‘scope’ for my business.  After deciding that I would focus on bags and accessories I find myself making bibs, doing a custom order for bunting, making up heat packs stencilled for another custom order, cushion covers for yet another, whipping up a pillowcase for another, and generally drifting back to making anything that comes along.  This might be contributing to my feeling of being overwhelmed!  I can’t make everything that exists under the sun, no matter how much I want to!  What I can do is choose my scope, and stick to it, and make those things really well.  (Gee – did that sound like a pep talk to you? )

Custom ordered appliqued bunting.  (I love the colours she chose!)

Custom ordered appliqued bunting. (I love the colours she chose!)

Bags and accessories and bibs.  That is a broad category.  It is enough.  This might be my new mantra!

On the topic of bags I can share that I designed and made a laptop bag for my eldest chick earlier in the week.  She has her own laptop now, in preparation for starting high school next year, and in moving between her father’s house and mine it has looked a big too naked and vulnerable being carried in her arms!  I decided that she needed something that reflected a bit of her personality, but could also grow with her.  This is the end result!

The front of the laptop bag showing the detail on the flap, and the red leather base.

The front of the laptop bag showing the detail on the flap, and the red leather base.

Under the flap you see the lining, and another handy pocket!

Under the flap you see the lining, and another handy pocket!

The back of the bag has another pocket, plus a bit of personalisation.

The back of the bag has another pocket, plus a bit of personalisation.

I have had some great feedback on the bag and am thinking that adding this style to my bag range is worth a try.

I can also update you about further developments for the artist in residence.  After her successful appearance at the exhibition, and being approached to sell her painting, this week she had one of her drawings appear in our local newspaper to launch a survey of the Gang-Gang – a native bird that is the faunal emblem for Canberra.  Needless to say she is thrilled and I couldn’t be prouder.  I am going to have to start recording a portfolio for her!

Gang-gang

Gang-gang

My beautiful boy is still struggling with school, and with coping that anything that changes the direction that he thinks he is following, but we have managed to have one fantastic day this week, and a couple of good recoveries from incidents.  The good moments, or days, make the not-so-good ones easier to cope with.  He is now living with me 100%, after some changes in his father’s life meant that it was best to change our care arrangements.  I shared on Facebook that I was fortunate to have him living with me, then added that I am not trying to be a hero, or downplay how difficult it is to parent him, but if I don’t see myself as fortunate I will probably break.

So here we are.  Pottering along with life, trying to work out how to survive financially, caring for my children, and having a creative brain that is in constant overdrive with new ideas of things to make.  I am pretty lucky really!

I hope that you are having a good week.

Friday Finds: A list of DIY gifts for Father’s Day

While I am informed that ‘handmade is the new black’, the joy of handmade has not spread to the men in our lives as much as the women and children. Today’s list, however, is set to change that! I have gathered together a list of links to free patterns to make a wide variety of things that will all be well received by the men in your life. Remember – handmade doesn’t mean poor quality – it means high quality because it is imbued with the love of the person making the gift!

Father’s Day is a day to reflect on the men in our lives – our fathers, grandfathers, and the fathers of our children.  I am very lucky to have known both my grandfathers, and to still have my father.  I have memories of dancing on my Opa’s shoes in the lounge room, and of my Pop taking us for outings to the only ice-cream parlour in Auckland at the time (because as an American he missed ice-cream parlours).  My Dad is truly one of the good guys.  He provides me with love and support, humour and wisdom as he has always.  I am always grateful that I am his daughter, so Father’s Day is a special day in my life each year.

As you all know, sewing is my ‘thing’ so the first part of this list are ideas that are for sewn gifts for men.
First up – a hat! I love the styling of this pattern for a men’s flat cap from aboutgoodness.com.

Another idea is an apron for Dad.  I have used this pattern from Purl Bee and really like the way that the strap is adjustable so it can fit a multitude of sizes.  When I made an apron with this pattern for a family member I used printable fabric to print a picture of the children holding a sign with her name and made the pocket from that.

Last Christmas I made my father a sun hat using this pattern from April Cobb.  The pattern is a good basic one, and you can personalise it with your choice of fabrics.  I had to include some orange in the one for my Dad because he is from The Netherlands!

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Another idea that I am keen to make myself is this tutorial for an iPhone/iPad stand from the lovely Michelle at Factotum of the Arts.

If you are a fan of making bags like me, then a cargo duffle bag is a great personal gift that he will get a lot of use from.  Noodlehead has the free pattern for this bag on her site.

For a ‘metro’ Dad in your life, Sew4Home has a pattern for this ‘Metro Bag‘.

For a Dad who likes a nice hankie, Purl Bee has a detailed tutorial on how to create a rolled-hem Hankie.

Another simple to make but thoughtful gift is a coffee cup cozy.  Hawaiian Paperdoll shares a great pattern on her site.

Another idea, and one that I have been playing with myself, is making Dad a wallet.  A nice simple pattern for a wallet is found on Allisa Jacobs website.

For those of you who like to crochet here is a list for you!

The manly man hat by Green Dragonfly is a great pattern!

I also like this ripple afghan in ‘manly’ colours (whatever ‘manly’ colours are!) from Lion Brand Yarn.

If Dad likes a bit of Dr Who or Star Wars, then Moogly has a great collection of patterns for crocheting a great range of gifts with these themes.

  Star Wars on MooglyDoctor Who Crochet Patterns - all free! Grab your hooks and allons-y! Dr Who on Moogly

Or you might like to make Dad his own Death Star Cushion with this pattern from Pops de Milk.

I plan to make these Opa House Slippers for my own Dad one day……  The pattern is on Ravelry.

Of course Dad could always use a new gadget cover – and there is a great list of free patterns in this post I prepared a couple of weeks ago – DIY Gadget covers.

As usual there are many other great lists of gifts that you can make for Father’s Day.  If you are interested in seeing more lists, or other ideas, you might like to look at the Pinterest board I have created as a place to store these ideas, appropriately titled “Gifts for Men“!

The most important thing to remember though, is that if you make a gift with love, you pass your love with the gift.

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!

 

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!