Tag Archives: making bags

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!

 

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!

 

 

A world of possibilities!

Although the first day of April is traditionally a day for pranks and tricks, today was actually a day for celebrating some steps in my life, with no pranks in sight!  My bags are on sale through the Shop Handmade here in Canberra from today, and I received my first month’s sales statement from the Shop for my bibs (and can report that there were in fact sales – phew!).

Today also marks the first day of my long service leave, and the end (hopefully for a while) of being on personal leave (which is the modern public service name for good old fashioned sick leave!).  Although there is no real difference in terms of the freedom that I have, I have found that since I made the decision to take time off to look at what my options are for the future it is like a load has lifted off my shoulders.  I feel lighter.  I have been joking with the chicks.  We rode our bikes to and from school today because I wasn’t worrying about what time we would get there, etc.  I am breathing out.

The world of possibilities that this time off work opens up is huge!  I have already come up with a long string of outrageous travel plans that bear no resemblance to my bank balance – just to enjoy the dreaming possibilities!  I am thinking about all the creative opportunities that I have, and starting to map out how to fit them in.  And I am enjoying feeling that there are no rules, and that I can do what I want with this time (within reason and the law of course!)

The first big adventure is one that was planned a year ago, before life got so complex – the 25th Annual Bluesfest at Byron Bay, over the Easter weekend.  For the last few weeks I have been umming and ah-ing about whether I should go, on my own, and whether I would cope, etc.  But a funny thing happened as I wrote a message to a friend offering my ticket for sale to any of her friends….. I realised that the only person putting pressure on myself is me.  I sent a follow up email asking her to ignore the first one – and instead we agreed to catch up over a drink or two in the campground instead!  The line-up for this year has a few acts that I really want to see – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jack Johnson, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Suzanne Vega, John Butler Trio, plus a few that I will catch because I don’t really know their stuff, and others I will go to see because I have never heard of them!  A good start to a period of freedom!  (And some trips to the beach for a swim in the ocean might figure in that plan too!) It all kicks off in 16 days, so my road trip will start two weeks from now!  Yippee!

Other smaller adventures over the next few months might include some trips to see friends, a lot of sewing, drawing up further and better particulars on some business plans (see – you can’t take the lawyer out of the girl even when she is on holiday!), and seeing what opportunities come along!

I have tackled my sewing room and sorted it out after weeks of chaos – jumbled piles of fabric, interfacing, threads, half finished projects, scraps, etc.  It is back to being a calm oasis of creativity and just what is required!  Sorting and folding fabric is such a beautiful way to spend time – it reminds me of all the beautiful possibilities that lie in those piles!

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Half way through making piles, with the sun streaming in to help.

I also finished the last of my custom ordered bags from the markets two weeks ago.  The young woman who ordered this one deliberated over a wide range of fabric choices before selecting this one for me to order in.  And her deliberations were worth it.  The fabric matched perfectly with the beige duck cloth she had selected and has resulted in a sophisticated, understated, elegant and practical bag for her overseas adventure.  I even managed to get 2 zips in it without crying!

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With the desk clear, my load lighter, and a head full of ideas, tomorrow is looking good for a day of sewing and creating.  Which is a good way to mark the 5 year anniversary of the day that my marriage ended.  This is not a path I chose, and is not the plan I had for my life, or the life of my children.  However I am proud of the new life and the new path that I have been able to build, and of the values that I am teaching my children.  Although they still wish that we lived with their father again, they acknowledge that their life is better than so many others, and that they are very lucky to have three parents who love them.  I continue to be thankful that their step-mother is so incredibly decent and has made an effort from day one to make it easy for me to have a positive relationship with her. (I also continue to be thankful that he waited until the 2nd to leave – imagine having your husband leave on April Fools Day – you would never be really sure if he meant to do it or not!)

Now I am off to brew another cup of tea and to go and admire my neat sewing room and plan my first project for tomorrow!  I hope that your week is going well!

 

Busy Busy Busy!

I have just realised that it has been over a week since I last posted.  This is not a sign of disengagement on my part but of complete and utter busy-ness!

This may be one of my shortest posts ever as I am in the middle of a sewing frenzy!  It is less than a week until the Handmade Markets open in Canberra, and I am determined to have as much stock as I can for the markets.  The chicks are at their father’s house and I am sewing, sewing, sewing!

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Things happening this week:

– I delivered 36 bibs to the Handmade Shop and they are now on sale there!

– I am completely obsessed with repurposing denim jeans into bags.

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– I have the first samples for the bag kits that I am developing.  They need some tweaking but just getting started on it is exciting!

– I have discovered the joys of making my own green smoothies (lots of vegies and fruit pulverised into a drink!)  Will definitely fill you in on that once the hectic week is over!

– The chicks are all well and busy and calm!  (Freaky but true!)

– My house looks like a thread factory exploded

– I have shattered (not snapped!) two needles – one on my sewing machine and one on my overlocker.

– I have worn a blister on my knuckle through using scissors on denim and canvas.  (How do I know this is the cause?  Because every time I pick up the scissors I remember that it is there when it hurts!)

– I have used 2 kilometre of sewing cotton in the last 10 days.  I have used 4 kms in the last 6 weeks.

– I have realised that I need to set up an easy way for people to arrange custom orders with me.  My brain is ticking over the options as I sew!

Am I having fun though?  Yes!  Yes, a thousand times yes!

I hope that your week is full of creative fun (although perhaps not quite as much craziness as mine!)

 

 

Friday on my mind…..

Ah Friday.  The end of the week.  In days gone by the night that I went out drinking, dancing, flirting and enjoying myself.  These days I am happy if the house is peaceful, relatively clean, and I have some decent music to listen to while I sip my cup of tea!  How times change!

Speaking of change (nice segue huh?) I am extremely happy and very proud to report that today, at the first Junior assembly of the year at the new school, my boy not only (jointly) compered the assembly, but received an award from the Principal for showing principled action in making the right choices.  Wow!  His stepmother and I were both able to be there and were so proud.  While this is still early days, and as we have all experienced, anything can happen, it is certainly a very pleasant change to have such positive experiences with him at school!

The eldest chick has returned from her school camp, and from the excited conversation we had on the phone, it was a resounding success!  They were able to participate in so many wonderful activities like archery, abseiling, a disco, and the experience of being away from home for 3 nights.  She was a bit put out that for the second year in a row their raft building activity was cancelled due to weather!    Her absence also meant that for the last two days I have only had the middle chick at home.  She and I pottered around quietly and kept commenting how very, very quiet it was!  We agreed that while it was nice for a change, neither of us would like it for much longer!  (I didn’t have the heart to point out to her that for the next two weeks I will have a much quieter house while they are all at their father’s house!)

With all of this quietness I have been sewing!  I decided that I don’t really like the way that the camera that I appliqued in my last post has turned out – the pattern on the fabric is wrong for the shapes, so I have put that aside for a while.  My other appliques however, have turned into these (excusing the photos taken with my phone!)

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I have discovered iTunes radio on my new iPad so I can report that these bags were all made while I listened to the familiar tunes of 1980’s rock!  Trips down memory lane while sewing – so much fun!   Two weeks until the Handmade Markets – I see a lot more dodgy music in my very near future!

I hope that your week has had a great balance of quietness, creativity and music!

A new toy!

I was so excited to see my favourite postman arrive this morning to deliver my indulgent purchase of a few weeks ago – a Singer ESP2 steam press!  I am hoping to cut my interface applying time dramatically by using it, so will keep you informed how that goes.  I haven’t used it yet as I need an adapter on the plug but am enjoying just admiring the shininess of it!

(I bought it on Ebay and saved a lot of money but had to wait a bit longer than anticipated for it to arrive and now have to wait another day before I can get the correct adaptor!  I am learning lessons in patience!)

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I also popped out to our local Spotlight to buy up in the sale that started today.  I found this gorgeous black and white cotton duck – the possibilities are divine!

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As all the interfacing was 30% off, and as I only had the eldest chick with me, I spent some time examining it more closely than my usual ‘rush in and rush out’.  As a result I have two new types to experiment with – a very stiff woven sew in interfacing, and some buckram – fusible and relatively stiff too.

Isn’t it funny how life works.  I was investigating different interfacings a few days ago as I want to do some bulk ordering to save money, and save running out of the one that I prefer (which can only be bought by driving into the next state on a round trip that takes a minimum of 1 hour.)  During my searching I came across the term buckram, learnt that it was a woven stiffener and didn’t think much more.  Then today I saw it and recognised the name and thought I would experiment a bit.  I have now done some research and understand a lot more about it!

Buckram appears to have been one of the first stabilizers invented (and Wikipedia tells me that the word “bokeram’ was used in the Middle Ages).  It is a cloth woven of cotton, and often soaked in starch to provide stiffness, that can be used for making hats (when wet, moulded over a hat form and allowed to dry), and is the stiff woven cover used on hardback books.  Modern applications also include providing the stiffness at the top of pleated drapes/curtains, and inside the front of baseball caps!  Once I knew all of this I realised that I had always been aware of it – just didn’t know what it was called!  So there you go – I learnt something new!  Now to work out the best project to maximize it’s potential!

In other news I discovered today that Apple offer a trade-in on dead iPods.  I took the boy’s iPod Touch in to see if it could be salvaged after he somehow bent the port for the charger so it couldn’t be charged (I really don’t know how), and after some valiant efforts by the staff at the “Genius bar” (boy do I need to get a job there so my official title can be ‘Genius’) we all agreed that it was beyond saving.  The Genius that was serving us then explained their recycling program and the discount for replacing like for like – which really took the sting out of a dead expensive gadget!  I didn’t know about that before, so thought it was worth sharing.

No board game updates tonight, as the boy and the middle chick are not home (sleep-overs etc.) but I can report that the eldest chick won 5 out of 6 of the songs that she challenged me on while playing “Just Dance” on the Wii – and that I was able to reclaim some dignity by winning the dancing to “YMCA” – all that muscle memory from my misspent youth kicked in!

Perhaps some sewing might actually occur!  Any suggestions on how best to experiment with the stiff interfacing and the buckram are very welcome!!

 

 

 

The whirling head

Arrrggghhhh….I have a head that is whirling with ideas and dreams and plans, but have lost the ability to translate it into action!  A house full of children all day, with their demands for food, water and time (such demanding little creatures they are) is sucking the ability to create out of me!  Throw in some hot weather, some unwelcome news on a different front, and a nice dash of burn out and hey presto – nothing is being made.

Well – that is not quite true.  Today I actually finished a bag that I started two weeks ago(!!).  But I have made more mistakes in this bag than any bag I have previously made – including forgetting to put one half of the magnetic snap in the bag before finishing it all up!  Then, after unpicking, inserting the snap, and resewing, I realised that it was not quite centred!  Doh!  Two things I just haven’t done before!  (A sign that I need to keep sticking to doing one thing at a time). I love the fabric in this bag, but after all the endless unpicking and restitching, and re-doing (because there were other errors too) I can’t bring myself to sell this one to a customer who is expecting good quality.  So it looks like I have a new bag for the new year!  Oh well – there needs to be a silver lining after so many mistakes!

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The good news is that I am loving my new sewing room.  I go and sit in there and it is like a little wave of calm flows over me.  It continues to be a great move, even if I am not actually making much in there.

And that means that I have been sitting in there to calmly work my way through my planning/thinking/dreaming workbooks.  I mentioned these in my last post.  A fellow creative friend put me onto the site run by Leonie Dawson who produces these wonderfully illustrated workbooks and calendars that you can buy as digital downloads for a very reasonable price. Given that I am a bit stuck at the moment ( you know – the whole burn out thing) and that I am pretty much allergic to planning (which is part of the reason that I tell you so often that I am doing it – partly to hold myself accountable and partly to desensitise myself to the concept) I was a little sceptical.  But I am a sucker for clear vibrant colours and messages of hope and inspiration and support.  So after reading testimonials, examining the site, and loving the illustrations, I decided that the risk was minimal and the colours were worth it.  (How superficial can one planning-avoider be?!)

I was just intending to buy the business workbook, but given that I have announced to you all quite emphatically that 2014 is my year, I bought the life workbook on a whim too.  I am working my way through the Biz workbook first (because I printed it first!) and have already had some lightbulb moments.  Some of them turned out to be blown lightbulbs when I re-examined them, but that doesn’t matter – I was thinking and reviewing and not breaking out in hives.

You start by a review of the past year.  Wow – I had lost track of how much I had done in the last year!  Then start on your goals, dreams, and plans for the new year.  Uh-huh.  Now we are talking.  While you might be able to do this with lots of different tools and planners, I am loving this one so far.  It has me thinking about what I need – not just what the business needs.  Powerful stuff being reminded to make time for yourself!  On that basis alone I am happy to recommend the products (which I don’t do that often).  Then of course there are the beautiful illustrations by Leonie.  I would be happy to just be surrounded by them all day!  So I have become an affiliate and put a link up on the side of my page so that if you want to buy them for yourself you can!  (I am also thinking of the meditation course she sells – I would love to go to a health spa and do it that way, but on my current budget think that an e-course might be a more realistic place to start!  I will let you know what I decide!)

I have talked before about how much I love lists – and this workbook involves making lists.  So in my next post, all going well I will share my ‘list’ with you – again working on that accountability thing!

The other thing I am doing is buying fabric!  Oops!  When I sat down and did an inventory of what I had I realised that I am actually in need of updating my stash, replacing some that are almost at an end, and embracing the new season’s fabrics.  What a task!   (Mwahahaha as my son would say!)  So online orders have been happening, and tomorrow we will hit Spotlight – which starts the new catalogue sale tomorrow and has goodies on sale that I need (because when it comes to fabric we always need, rather than want, don’t we?!)

In school holiday updates – the boy has beaten me in Uno, but lost to me in Carcassone in a close run game.  The two girls joined us for a game of Carcassone tonight with two add-ons (extra tiles and rules and pieces that you can add to the basic game) and it was hilarious.  I went all out and strategized my placement of pieces and for the first time it worked!  I cleaned up and won convincingly.  Yes – I know that it is sad that a grown woman is gloating about beating three children who are all under 11 – but they have been beating me in everything so it was time for a win for the oldie!

I hope that your week is going well and that your head isn’t whirling!  Remember – one day at a time.  (For me and for you!)