Tag Archives: bag

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!

 

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

Wrapping up the year

This year has flown by!  I swear that as I get older, time speeds up and the year seems to have only just settled into it’s routine when it finishes!

My absence from the blog has been longer than usual.  Sometimes life gets so busy that something has to give – in this case it was my blog, and my business.  Not forever, just for a short time while other things work themselves out.

The big news is that as I am writing this I am taking a break from packing up my house.  I know!  You turn your back for one minute and all of a sudden I am moving house!    And that is part of the reason for the blog break – a whirlwind of decision making, house preparation, house hunting, etc has been occurring over the last few months.  With my significant drop in income this year, and some complications that saw me have my children live with me almost full time (no complaints here) my finances took a dive and it was time to say good bye to the ‘executive style house’ in the ‘good suburb’ and look at different options for my chicks and I.  Fast forward a few weeks and my parents (who live overseas) were visiting, and helping prepare my house for sale.  One thing lead to another and now they are moving to Australia (again) and coming to live with the chicks and I on a new property that we have bought together.  Again – I know!  Huge changes!

The new property is about 20 minutes from where we live now, and is in the country.  Yep – we are going to be ‘farmers’.  Well, not really – it is only 20 acres and the land around here isn’t particularly fertile, so we won’t be primary producers, but will have lots of room for animals as pets, room to run, ride (bikes), play, etc.  There are two houses on the property so my parents will have one, and the chicks and I the other.  The ‘big house’ as we are calling it is truly big – I have choices about which room I will use as my sewing studio, and the chicks will all have space for desks in their rooms.  The chicks will attend the same schools as they would have if we had not moved, but will catch the bus a bit more (it goes past our driveway).

A sneak peek of the front garden at the new house

A sneak peek of the front garden at the new house

2015 is looking very exciting as a result.  With my parents in residence I will be able to work more, earn more, develop my business more, and still continue to support my chicks.  The possibilities are endless!

Wrapping up this year and all that has happened would result in a blog post of thousands of words.  2014 has been eventful, to say the least.  A few brief highlights instead then:

  • The Human Brochure that I am part of is definitely a highlight.  I have met some wonderful people, seen amazing things, and been exposed to parts of my town that I didn’t know about.
  • Finishing up my career as a public servant was momentous, but right.  No longer being defined by my profession has been liberating, and I have enjoyed discovering more about myself and my strengths throughout the process.
  • Creating beautiful things continues to give me immense joy and my confidence grows on a daily basis.
  • My eldest chick has finished primary school and heads off to high school next year!
  • Selling my house has been emotional but is the right decision.

On the downside there have been some of the toughest times this year.  My previously reasonably amicable relationship with my ex-husband is now gone, and I have had to make some really hard calls about what is good for my children.  Adjusting my life to parenting a child with special needs has been a long process that has challenged me on every level.  I have been exhausted for a large part of the year.

But overall, looking at the good, the bad and the very ugly, this year has had more highs than lows, and I am finishing on a good note.

To entertain your eyes, a brief selection of some of my recent sewing projects follows – custom orders, Christmas presents, and new ideas.   I hope that this year is ending on a good note for you too, and that 2015 brings new adventures and excitement and love and laughter for you all.

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The Aftermath

My house is quiet and peaceful, the sun is shining, and the next two weeks are stretching out in front of me in a sea of unplanned possibility. What a treat!

I hope that your Christmas celebrations were full of joy. I was very fortunate and am happy to report that my day was just lovely. Our Christmas Eve celebrations with our friends went well and both desserts were successes! (More to follow on that soon!) The chicks were well behaved, and reminded me about leaving food for Santa, hanging stockings, etc. The boy gave me an early Christmas present, including a drum roll to announce it, by not just tidying his bedroom, but making his bed, arranging all his soft toys in lines on the bed, his shoes in his cupboard and putting his dirty clothes in the basket. It might sound like a small thing, but he was so excited to be doing such a good job and to have done it so well, that it was a gorgeous gift!

We read the Nativity story and talked about what it must have been like for the shepherds to see a heavenly host of angels singing and how freaked out they must have been (I love the perspective of children!). And then I had my second special gift – an uninterrupted night of sleep, with no children trying to wake me until 6.30am! I managed to stay in bed until 6.45am which makes it officially a two hour better sleep-in than last year! We had a lovely morning with presents, sharing, Lego building, Wii playing and laughing before I took them to their father’s house where they spent the afternoon and evening in great happiness. I spent the afternoon and early evening with friends at their house and had the most delightfully relaxing, happy day. Nothing overboard in food (although the Christmas trifle was a thing of great beauty and taste!) or alcohol (although a few champagnes were enjoyed a lot) and just lovely time being with friends. I talked to my parents on the phone for an hour and received the reports of the day for the rest of my family who were gathered in New Zealand and was happy to hear that they also had a lovely day.

Which means that gifts have been delivered, and the few that I remembered to photograph can now be shared! After I made the boy a hat for his birthday Mum commented that a hat would be a nice present for my father, and that if it could incorporate some orange, in honour of his Dutch heritage, that would be great. So this is the result! He informs me that it is a snug fit, which suits him as it won’t blow off easily.

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My parents have recently acquired a campervan/motorhome and are very excited about the trips they will do in it. The chicks and I decided that we needed to make some gifts for the motorhome, so we used some of the middle chick’s new fruity fabric design and made placemats and a tea towel for the van. We had also wanted to make them some cushion covers for the van but time constraints meant that I only managed to make one – but I think it is pretty cute, so will have to try for another one to match it for them!

caravan

I also made a present for my grandmother, Oma.  She will be 98 in February.  She has 10 children, about 24  grandchildren, and (I think) 23 great-grandchildren.  She was never very tall but she shrinks further every year, and yet her heart, her energy, her love for us all, and her sharp mind, never shrinks.  When I was talking to my ex-husband about having a second child he was worried whether we could love another child as much as we loved our first one.  I was able to illustrate that love is not finite by using Oma as an example.  Each of her 10 children knew that they were loved, and that she knew them as an individual, not as one of a group.   So when she requested a bag to carry when she is going out to play cards or mah-jong, or on a day trip I was delighted.  Then I heard her instructions were that it was not to be an ‘old-lady bag’ and she would like something in pinks and blues, with short handles, and I was further delighted, because that very statement sums up my Oma.  She doesn’t want an ‘old-lady’ bag, because she still doesn’t feel like an old lady.  So this is what I made for her, and what my parents delivered to her earlier in the week on my behalf.

Omabag

I am told that she likes it (which makes me very happy) and when I posted the image on my facebook page I received a lot of positive feedback, so I am thinking of making a few more in this style and calling them the “Oma bag”!

The aftermath of Christmas can often be a let down, but for me, having kept our Christmas simple, it is just lovely.  I am pottering around the house tidying up, putting the children’s presents that they left here in their rooms for their return, deciding which leftover dessert I will have for lunch (so, so bad I know!) and reading some books that Santa brought me.

Now – before I sign off I have to share the desserts that I made.  I have no photographs (of course!) but do have recipe links to share.  The first was Salted butter caramel ice-cream.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  It is soooooo good.  Although it required a bit of standing at the stove stirring and worrying about whether I was going to burn the caramel, by following the instructions it turned out well and was declared a hit by adults, and two of the chicks.  (Which meant more for the adults!)  The recipe is by David Lebovitz and includes a link to tips on making caramel – great, clear instructions, and with a delicious result!

Of course, the recipe calls for 5 egg yolks, so that meant that I had 5 egg whites to use.  The solution?  The traditional Australian/New Zealand (there is great debate about which country it belongs to) dessert – Pavlova.  The crispy outer meringue with the gooey inside, whipped cream on top, and fresh fruit (mango and passionfruit in our case) on top of that, is a favourite in our household.  The recipe that I use, and that has never failed me, is by Donna Hay.

I have one slice of pavlova left, half a tub of the salted caramel icecream and a serving of the trifle made by Mrs B for our lunch yesterday.  The best bit?  I don’t have to share it with anyone!!

I hope that your Christmas aftermath is a relaxing happy one and that are also enjoying some delicious leftovers as you spend time doing things that you like.

 

Explosions and goo – a science party!

Today heralded the middle chick’s birthday party. She and I decided, with the help of Pinterest, to have a mad scientist’s party. I am exhausted, but she reports that it was the best party ever, and her friends were all very excited by it all. The preparations involved a trip to Costco at midday on Saturday – a mistake I will NEVER make again. However this morning, a bizarre thing happened, and we were ready for the guests to arrive half an hour before the appointed time. This has never happened before! The difference this time? The three chicks helped. Yes – you read correctly. They helped! There was assistance galore from the two girls, and even a modicum of following instructions from the boy. It truly was miraculous!

The explosions I hear you ask?

I warned the little scientists that the nature of experiments meant that some might not work. The first experiment – making elephant toothpaste – was a bit of a fizzer. But not in the way that we expected. Instead of our mixture foaming up and out of the bottle, it slowly fizzed and rose over half an hours, then slowly subsided. A good lesson in not always succeeding! We used the instructions from Preschool Powol Packets but don’t be dissuaded by the fact that ours didn’t work – I was using 3% hydrogen peroxide and they recommended at least 6%.

Next we made time bombs – vinegar and water in a bag, then added baking soda in a folded piece of paper towel, sealed it and waited. We probably went a bit overboard on the papertowel so they took a while – but the suspense was delicious! And they DID explode!  We found the instructions at Geeks Raising Geeks .

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To counteract the delayed gratification experiment, the next one involved instant effects. The ingredients? Diet Coke and Mentos. I read about this on a number of sites after the middle chick requested it. The main trick with this one is to get the original Mentos, and drop them in at the same time if possible. We made a paper tube and had a piece of paper that was pulled out to drop the Mentos in. On the first go we used 4 Mentos. Second time round we used 10. For the third bottle we used 14. Each time the eruption was larger with more Mentos. The kids loved it – smiles, amazement and delight!

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Eruption number 2 (10 Mentos)

After a bit of refuelling with snacks the next experiment was making bouncy rubber balls. No photos unfortunately but they did enjoy the sticky-ness that turned into bouncing balls. Only a couple of failed experiments with this – the birthday girl and my boy – one had the mixture too dry and the other too wet! The recipe for these was from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas.

The final experiment? Making their own “Lava Lamps”. We found the instructions at SL Smith Photography. The ingredient that made them bubble was Alka Seltzer. I had planned to send them home with a tablet each to show their families but they had so much fun doing it at the party that the tablets were all used up. I suspect that any brand of fizzing or effervescent tablet would work. Again there was much oohing and aahing.
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Lots of fun and only a bit exhausting for the hostess! Luckily my beautiful friend Ms C stayed to assist with the festivities – what a godsend! Although it went well I think it might be a while before I decide to host another party at home!

The rest of the week has been a return to our routine. I have been back at work and the chicks back at school. The boy has had a good week – the strategies that the school and I agreed on appear to have worked so far. With the good weather they have all been riding to and from school with Miss N supervising – it took a few days for them to settle down for her, but now they seem to have it sorted. I have enjoyed the return to my office and my team. It is busy, but having had my time to rest, I have been able to jump back in with energy.

I did manage a little bit of sewing still – the bag that I posted earlier in the week, plus a few little zipped pouches using laminated cotton for the outer. Then, thanks to the request for a pattern from the lovely Meredithe at Pomegranate and Chintz I decide to make another cross body bag but to photograph each step so that I can write a tutorial for it for you! The photos are done – now I need to sit down and write the instructions!

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Hopefully later in the week……. However before that can happen I will need to buy a new keyboard – after the party one of the chicks helped themselves to some of the lemonade we had purchased for an experiment that wasn’t performed (inflating balloons by tipping ‘Nerds’ into soft drink) and spilt some on the keyboard. The result several hours later? A ‘d’ key and ‘k’ key that are sticking (I have spent most of this post backspacing after each word ending in ‘d’!!

I hope that you are all safe and well. There are terrible bushfires in New South Wales and more weather that will create difficulties for the fire fighters, so my prayers are with them all, and with those who have lost their homes already this week. It is a very early start to our fire season, so I am very grateful that my father did clean my gutters a couple of weeks ago! Thanks Dad!!

Be safe everyone.

The holiday is over. The chicks are back in the nest, ready to return to school tomorrow. While I am delighted that they are back, healthy and happy, I did like my little break while they were away! The chance to only worry about me was truly like a holiday. So today we are back to the usual Sunday night routine. The eldest chick has baked cookies for their morning tea at school this week, the clean laundry pile is threatening to hide half the family room, and I am turning my head to the week ahead and trying to recall what I want to share about the week just past.
One thing that I can report is that we have returned to Geocaching after a long, unintentional break. I introduced one of my colleagues to it a couple of weeks ago. He took his family away on holiday and found 23 caches in one week. After one year we were only sitting on 46! Being the competitive creature that I am…..that was enough to spur me on. So while on the road trip to collect the chicks yesterday we found three (and searched in vain for a fourth). Today we went for a walk, with some friends, up the mountain that we live on and found three more. Given that there was a threat of snow and the temperature didn’t get above 6 degrees C, you might start to get a picture of how determined I am to keep ahead of him!! We haven’t stayed true to our aim of achieving 365 this year, but staying ahead of him should keep us going for a while! One of the caches we found yesterday was a delight. It contained ‘licences’ including the laminating pouches for them. The chicks are so proud to now be licensed as follows:

I do hereby grant myself permission to use multi-million dollar military satellites to find hidden Tupperware.  Furthermore I certify that this license is issued in accordance with no known legal requirements in any jurisdiction whatsoever.  This license expires with its owner.

My plan for the time while the children were away was to sew, sew, sew. Although I don’t regret the things I did do (a story for another day) I didn’t get to sew very much. So I set myself a target, (and told my Facebook followers to make myself accountable) that I had to make one colourful bag this weekend. I have done it! And once again I feel like my groove is coming back as a result!

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The return of my chicks has been a little confronting in some respects. I have debated writing about this for a while, but think that to not do so leaves an unexplained gap. Everything in our life is so intertwined and so much results from the issues of my chick, that I think it is better to write about it than to not.

Having a diagnosis for my chick with ‘issues’ just before they went away means that I have had time to think about the implications, to research the options, and to contemplate it all in isolation. It also meant that I have had time to doubt the diagnosis, to think that maybe we (me, teachers, doctors, etc) have all been over-reacting and that I haven’t tried enough, or used enough strategies, or been a good enough parent, or, or, or……… But upon their return, with my eyes wider open, I can see that the professionals are right. My boy, who I describe as all boy, who is always on the go…..is really always on the go. He climbs the door-frames, can’t sit still on the couch, can’t play without talking non-stop, can’t shift his focus to listen to me, including to stop stepping out in front of cars on the road. He gets one idea in his head and can’t be shifted from it, and he moves, non-stop, even in his sleep. My boy, my beautiful boy, who comes into bed in the morning and answers my question of ‘what are you doing’ with “Coming to sleep with you Mummy because I love you”, my boy who loves hugs, and animals, and his family and his friends, my boy has Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder. There. I have said it out loud.

I love him. I love him with my whole being. But he exhausts me. And I am still not sure how I have managed to care for him for nearly 7 years without realising that this was more than a behavioural reaction to his father’s absence, or because I work full time, or because he went to daycare, or because he has anxiety issues, or because his diet needs improving, or, or, or…… That this is biological, and not a minor glitch.

So, after struggling for 20 months, he has started on the prescribed medication today. I was so scared. I thought it would change my boy and stop him being the boy that I know and love. But I need to give him a chance to sit in class for a whole day. To not be labelled the ‘bad’ kid. To learn and succeed. With much trepidation I started……….and nothing happened!! We are starting on a low dose and building, in accordance with the doctor’s instructions, so I expect that there will be some gradual effects. However after being so worried and feeling so guilty and alone this morning, it was almost a disappointment that there was no effect! Talk about a very silly mother! I will persevere and keep loving him and advocating for him and trying to balance his needs against those of his sisters who have suffered so much as a result of the issues we have faced over the last year or two. And I will keep sewing, and making things, and staying as calm as possible. He has a long life ahead of him and we have much to do in order to ensure that it is a good and happy life. I predict many, many bags being sewn over the next few years!!

This week starts off with the hope of things to come, of great opportunities, of colour and creativity, and of love and strength. In other words, back to normal in the nest! I hope that you have a wonderful start to your week, wherever you are.

Friday Finds – a list of 23 free tutorials and patterns to make Messenger Bags

I have decided that today is a good day to make a list of the patterns for Messenger Bags that I have collected. I love messenger bags – they can be as informal and hippie, or formal and suitable for office attire as you like. It all depends on the fabric that you choose and the attitude with which you wear it! They are great as nappy (or diaper if you are American) bags, good for students, for travelling, and for carrying a large amount of ‘stuff’, if yours is anything like mine! They are good for slinging across your body when you are on your bike, or need to be hands free, and can have as many pockets as you like.

I also like the fact that a messenger bag lends itself beautifully to different forms of decoration. You can add applique, feature fabrics, and stand out linings. There are so many options!

Here is the first one I ever made, based on the great pattern by Larissa at mmmcraft.  It was a birthday gift for my beautiful mother, a year ago!

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This is the one that I currently use, and that often features in my photos as my ‘mascot’ when I travel!

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This is one that I have currently listed in my shop, made using my own pattern (which I will one day draw up a tutorial for!! Hmmmm…. how many weeks in a row do you think I will make that promise before I actually write up the tutorial??).

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And here is the list of tutorials for you to try, so that you can make a great messenger bag of your own, to reflect your own style!

Basic Messenger Bag – mmmcrafts

Messenger Bag – No Time to Sew 

Mens Shirt Messenger Bag – Crafty CPA

Messenger Bag – Alida Makes 

CMB1Push the Envelope – Weekend Designer

Patternless Messenger Bag – Fabricworm 

Messenger Bag – Obsessive Crafting Disorder

Messenger Bag – All People Quilt

Laminated Messenger Bag – Sew Can Do

Sun Sea Patchwork Messenger Bag – Sew Mama Sew 

Messenger Bag – Emmi Grace and Me

Messenger Bag – Blue Bird Baby New messenger bag tutorial!!

Messenger Bag with Zip Top – Heart of Mary

Reversible Messenger Bag – Crazy Little Projects

Boxy Messenger Bag – Pick Up Some Creativity

32 Minute Messenger Bag – Diary of a Quilter 

Tote to Messenger Bag Tutorial – Betz White

A little birdie told me Messenger Bag – Mommy by Day Crafter by Night

Not so Big Messenger Bag – Sew Sweetness

Messenger Bag Tutorial – Crazy Little Projects

Kids Messenger Bag – Zaaberry

DSC_1963Messenger Bag with ipad pocket – New Green Mama

Please do let me know if you use any of the patterns, and how you go!!

Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

Inspiration and Quirkiness

So much to report this weekend!! I have spent the last two days having lightbulbs pop in my mind – such a buzz!

The Right Brain Creative Business planning course, facilitated by Mikaela Danvers from Canberra Creatives was an incredible experience. I highly recommend participating in one of these courses if you are a creative type and want to map out a plan to build, establish or develop a business. Those of us there had goals ranging from having a first sale online to building a business with a 6 figure turnover. We came from quite diverse business endeavours and yet found so many links between our visions! (I now know who to go to in order to have a logo designed, stationery designed, children’s parties catered for, items upcycled, jewellery individually designed, photographs taken, and my overall health coached!!)

There were some amazing activities throughout the day that had my brain popping with ideas, then refining them, examining them, brainstorming with the group and filtering out the gems. Just the suggestions from the group alone have given me practical ideas for streamlining my processes, outsourcing other parts, and planning new ‘lines’. I have started to build the visual depiction of the vision that I have formed through this process but it is very much a work in progress at this point. The first part of it is here – in my first ever Instagram post! (Another product of the encouragement of my fellow workshoppers!) (If you want to follow me on Instagram then you will find me at #alittlebirdmademe !!)

I have some activities that I have assigned myself for the next couple of weeks, and will be accountable to the group, so will share my progress with you as I go (without too much boring detail!) I have to do a lot of research into my market, my competitors, my aspirational point, etc. So much fun to be had!

The other lovely part of this is that I have been able to share my excitement/vision/buzz with friends and family over the last day and they have added to my knowledge banks. One with a suggestion for a new product (that is so logical I can’t believe I never thought of it!!), another with some added material and mantras to include (such a great inner circle advisor!) and my parents with wonderful encouragement to just keep playing with the ideas and enjoying the journey. One of the biggest benefits in this process, and some other activities over the last week, has been a journey of self-discovery and self-affirmation. Being reminded of my strengths, my unique values and what makes me stand out from the crowd has been a joyous journey.

One of my discoveries that I am adopting as an affirmation is that being ‘quirky’ is a compliment. Standing out for being ‘different’ is a gift, not a burden to be carried, in this case. I am happily embracing my quirkiness and celebrating my differences – these are the things that will help me stand out from others in identifying my perfect customer and my marketing strategies.

Phew! After all the brainstorming and excitement of yesterday, followed by dinner, lunch and then afternoon tea with friends to allow for de-briefing, no sewing occurred. And that is okay. However I do have a photo of a bag I finished a few days ago to share with you. This one, and the Dr Who bag are both in the shop now.

Now to start the work week, do my homework from the course, start on my action plan, fit in a bit of sewing and then drive down to the farm (6 hours away) to collect the chicks and bring them back. Feeling so invigorated and inspired and happily quirky, the week is sure to be great! I hope that your week is full of inspiration and is appropriately quirky.