Monthly Archives: February 2014

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!

Filling your head

One of the benefits of the two youngest chicks moving to a new school that is also our local public school is that I am catching up with all sorts of people I know from all sorts of places.  A chance conversation with two women after I had dropped the children off yesterday morning saw me learning that one (who I knew as the mother of fellow junior hockey players) is actually an artisan who makes porcelain jewellery, while the other (who I knew as a fellow pre-school mother 6 years ago) is a talented sewist.  In the course of excitedly discussing all things creative (as you do when you find fellow creative souls) one of the women commented that when she has her creative mojo happening she doesn’t watch TV, and doesn’t even read books anymore.  What a relief!  I am always happy to tell people that I don’t watch TV at all, but am a little less forthcoming with my guilty secret that I don’t read anymore.

I love books.  I have always read.  I am one of those people who will stay up all night reading a gripping novel, even though I have to go to work the next day.  But for the last year or two three I have not been reading.  Well – of course I have been reading, but instead of reading a book or two a week I have been lucky to average a book every three months.  I have been feeling guilty, as if I am somehow lesser for my abandonment of books.  However in our conversation we discussed that where books provided an escape and a way for our imaginations to be exercised, when we are actively creating we have the escape, and the stretch to our imaginations, so there is not as much need or room for books.  Explained that way I feel much less guilty!!

When I am creating my mind wanders to all sorts of subjects.  I write wonderful posts for this blog in my mind, draft emails to friends I haven’t caught up with for ages, think about ways to stretch a dollar, find some extra time for something important, to solve a problem.  Having had these very satisfying conversations in my head, I regularly forget that these things haven’t happened in real life, and then don’t email those friends, write those posts, or apply those solutions.  I am beginning to understand why people describe artists as vague.  It is not because artists don’t care about things, it is because their head is full, and they, like me, may think that they have already dealt with something because they have thought about it while creating, so in their mind it is completed.   Something to ponder.

My creating this week has taken a different turn, and I have been busy drawing.  I love to draw, so the chance to combine drawing with designing and sewing is the perfect collection of creativity for me!  Now that I have my fabulous machine that can cut out my appliques for me I decided that I need some new designs, in addition to my much loved bicycle template.  After scouring the internet for suitable templates and not finding ones that suited my purpose I decided to make my own.  Hence the drawing!  With some I found photos and drew, traced, stylised, while with others I found other templates and took the ideas and modified them to my own needs.  The results so far are a scooter and a camera, and a police-box that needs a bit of tweaking!  Put that way it doesn’t seem to justify many hours, but I can assure you that a huge amount of work went into creating these simple-ish lines and shapes!  I have started to applique them.  The next step is to attach the appliques to bags!

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At the time of writing I have only appliqued one of the cameras, and am having a debate with myself about whether to go with the zig zag of the first one, or the straight stitch of the scooters.  (When I use straight stitch I also use ‘fray stopper’ to seal the edges so it doesn’t get too tatty too quickly!)   I might just need to keep experimenting until I find the perfect combination.

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I am also experimenting with whether patterned fabric works as well as solids, and complex patterns versus simple patterns.  My brain really has been quite full!

I thought I was going to avoid writing about the weather tonight but while I have been sitting here preparing this post we have had a huge downpour of rain.  The middle chick and I took a photo, through the window, of our water tank overflowing with the torrential rain.  Then 12 minutes later, this was the view from the same window!  As a result – the weather gets a mention.

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I hope that if you head is full this week it is full of creative and wonderful thoughts.  What are you creating, reading, watching or doing this week that is keeping you entertained and providing an escape and a stretch of another part of your brain?

Ticking things off the list

The big news in the nest today is the rain.  Yes!  It has finally rained!  Our water tank is full, the garden is starting to look a bit green, the air is damp, and everything feels cleaner.  After long, hot, dry weeks everything, including the air, was starting to feel dusty, so this clean dampness is a joy!

The eldest chick’s birthday celebrations went off very well on Friday.  In the end I made her a cross body bag using Dr Who fabric, a Dr Who pillowcase, and gave her the pouch that I provided the tutorial on, with some beautiful face care products made by a very talented creative friend, Kyoko, who makes all the lovely things at So Soap.

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Add in a Lego present, and a light for her bike and she was a very happy eleven year old.  By way of a party I took her and four of her friends to a trendy café/pizza place/bar for dinner last night.  Luckily one of the mothers, who is a friend of mine, chose to stay so I had company while the 5 girls giggled and acted sophisticated, and then acted like children, and generally had a great time!  One of her friends always gives her excellent presents – either handmade by her mother (a very crafty friend of mine) or books.  This year it was a new series of books that already have the eldest chick lost with her nose deep in the pages, so that was a success!  Another present she got was just perfect.  Great friends of ours taught her to play Yahtzee over the holidays, so when they saw a Dr Who Yahtzee set, it had her name written all over it.  She very happily taught the boy to play it this morning and declared it the best game ever!

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By working away in my sewing room I have managed to complete the 6 bags that I cut out and prepared a week ago.  (I am trying not to dwell on the fact that it took me a week to make 6 bags…..).  I complicated things by putting in zipped inner pockets, wide bases that needed stability added, etc.  I also complicated things by managing, on three bags in a row, to sew things together upside down…….  I am sure that there is a message in there for me – just not sure what!  After 6 messenger style bags in a row I think it is time for something different this week.  (Now to work out what it is!)

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I have also made some business decisions in the last few days.  After going through a great process of deciding that the bibs that I have been sewing are not ‘within scope’ and therefore I will only make them to be sold by another website I have done a complete about face when presented with an opportunity too good to miss.  Here in Canberra we have the Handmade Shop, where everything in the shop is handmade within Australia.  It has always been part of my long term plan to apply to stock my bags in there, but I am not at that point yet.  However they recently called for a new designer bib maker to apply to stock their shop, and a friend of mine tagged me in the Facebook page.  Cutting a convoluted story short, a few days later I applied, and was accepted the same day, so will be stocking bibs there from 1 March!  What a fabulous excuse to buy more gorgeous children’s prints!

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The second decision was that I needed to improve my record keeping and inventory control, particularly for attending markets, and if I am going to have stock sitting in shops, or on other websites.  A recommendation from a creative colleague pointed me to a great program – and it can be used on an ipad, including producing and then scanning barcodes (it is Vend, if you are interested).  What does this mean, I hear you ask?  That this provided sufficient justification to purchase a new iPad Air.  (I was an early adopter of the first iPad but hadn’t upgraded since, and the absence of a camera meant that it wasn’t much use for inventory etc.  That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!)   So now I can look all professional and keep track of my products instead of looking at my storage boxes in confusion!

On the home front, the chicks all had a great week at their schools.  Given the drama, trauma, and crises of the last two years with the boy attending school, being able to write that first sentence is such a relief.  I am eternally optimistic, so hope that it continues (but am realistic enough to know that the future is unpredictable.)

With only 3 weeks until the Handmade Markets I am hitting the panic button a bit, so hope to get a lot of sewing done this week.  I was going around in circles tonight, wondering what to do next when I remembered my bicycle applique from the last post.  So here it is, appliqued onto some canvas, ready to be made into a canvas satchel!

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I think I might have to break up the sewing for the week with experimenting with a few new applique templates!

I hope that you have had a great weekend, and that your week ahead is full of fun experiments.  What are you looking forward to most this week?

Success!

I can tick two things off my list for today (and there is still half a day left, so I am confident that the third thing will be reached too!)

I have designed the school bag for the wounded middle chick, and hope to get to a prototype in the next few days, that I will share with you.  But more importantly I have successfully used the Scan’n’Cut to produce an applique!  No melted iron on glue, no double lines that splintered the fabric and no stress!

And here are the promised photos to prove it!

I ironed the correct side of the iron on sheet to the back of the fabric that I wanted to use, and while I was cooling, loaded the bike image into the machine and chose the right outlining option (yay!).  I then removed the backing paper from the now cooled fabric, and put the fabric on the (still slightly messy) adhesive mat.  I fed it into the machine, selected my pattern and hit the ‘cut’ button.

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Roughly two and a half minutes later it finished, and I (using the right tool – a spatula) lifted the excess fabric from around the outline.

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I then (still using the right tool) lifted the inner pieces out of the design.

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Then I lifted the end result off the mat, ready to be ironed onto a piece of fabric and stitched into place.

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Total process?  10 minutes.  Wow!  I just saved myself about an hour (especially when I followed the instructions and used the right tools!)  I am giving my new purchase the thumbs up!

I have to finish the bags I am sewing (one of them is for the eldest chick’s birthday in two days) before I do any appliqueing but stand by for further reviews!

I hope that your day has also had success stories in it.  And remember – there is still half a day to go, so you can still make your own success story – there is always time!

 

 

Distractions

{NB:  No actual disasters occur in this post.}

(and there are no pretty  or even ugly photos.  Sorry!)

I am struggling to get to my sewing.  Between a sick boy over the last three days, a trip to the Emergency Department for investigation of a suspected arm fracture for the middle chick today (which thankfully was not broken), and rude distractions like housework, cooking and sleeping, I am just not getting that clear time to sit and sew that I want and need!  I have 6 bags cut out, interfaced, and partly assembled……. but not finished!

Sigh.  In the meantime, as a distraction for the middle chick from the pain etc, we spent time designing her new school bag……which now needs to be made.  If it works as we imagined it then I will have a whole new design – a messenger bag that can also be a backpack.  I will keep you informed about its progress as I try to work out where to fit it in the list of priorities that sits on my desk!

What I had hoped to write about tonight is my exciting new purchase – therefore I will, even though I have no pretty photos to show, or even good results to report!

Yesterday I became the proud owner of a Brother Scan’n’Cut machine.  I stumbled across this when looking for ideas on how to streamline my applique process.  (I love making my applique bike and word cushions but they take so long to draw, cut out and then sew on, that I can’t justify the time it takes versus the price I feel comfortable charging for them.)  This machine allows you to scan in your image (or use one of the 800 odd programed patterns including quilt pieces) and then cut it out of paper, card or fabric!  Ah-ha!  If this machine can remove the drawing and cutting part of my applique process and I then just have to sew, then I can make them again and be charging prices that cover the cost of labour, and are still affordable!  (Of course my mind has already run away with itself imagining the possibilities that the machine opens itself up to!)

Last night I decided that I was too worn out to try and use it, and instead I set aside time today while the children were at school to play with it.  And then had the trip to hospital in the allocated time.  Late this afternoon I decided to tackle it.  I was hot, tired and cranky.  Foolish, foolish girl!

After setting it all up (very straightforward) and reading the instruction booklet (sort of) my first error was made when using the provided iron on applique sheet (the first step) – and putting it on upside down, and forgetting to use my pressing cloth, so that instead of fusing to my fabric it fused to my steam press.  @#$%^&**!!!!  (I have now removed the majority of it I think……..  but it took quite a while!)

My next error was not checking my scanned image to check that the lines that were to be cut were the ones I wanted.  Sure I eyeballed it to check that there were no lines missing……. but I didn’t enlarge the image as recommended, and therefore missed the fact that I had hit the wrong button and the machine now thought that I wanted a cut line on either side of the drawn line…..so I was cutting the outline of the lines instead of cutting the lines (if you know what I mean.)

This resulted in very tiny slices of fabric around the body of the applique that were so thin that they broke as I was removing the fabric from the mat, and left the body of the applique too thin to sew (and parts of it also broke due to their being too thing).  Then I made my next error – pulling the fabric off the tacky sheet that holds it in place for cutting.  If I had followed the instructions and used the provided tools to lift it I would not have made such a mess of the mat, and would not have left so much fabric fluff and iron on gunk behind.  (None of the errors were the fault of the manufacturers.)

At that point I went and lay on my bed and listed my errors to my middle chick who was lying in there enjoying the cool and quiet while she rested her arm.  Her response was to ask what was for dinner. Hmmmmmm……  wrong audience obviously.

I then spent half an hour helping the eldest chick to search for things she needed for her martial arts class.  I emptied baskets, moved piles of ‘stuff’, and generally messed up a lot of what I had been tidying and sorting.  When I couldn’t find it all I was ready to confess to her instructor that we need to perfect the process of moving the chicks between the nest and their father’s house and that it wasn’t her fault that the things were missing as we had mucked up the part where she would be responsible for her own stuff, when her step-mother rang just in the nick of time to say that she had found the missing items and could drop them at class.  Phew!  No public and humiliating explanations of our disorganised life required!

After a day of no actual disasters, and lots of good outcomes (I missed mentioning a trip to the fabric shop that had a 50% off sale that saw me stock up on bright stripes, spots and solids for lining my bags) I am calling it quits and will start again tomorrow, fresh, calm and cool.    And I will sew at least one bag to completion.  And I will cut out an applique with my new ‘helper’ (sounds so much more professional than ‘toy’) and show you a photo, so that I can prove to myself that I can do it!  And I will design the construction of the middle chick’s new school bag.  And I will remember that doing complex things when hot and tired is not the way to succeed!

I hope that your day was also full of no actual disasters and lots of good outcomes and that you get to have a fresh start tomorrow too!

P.S.  If that sounded like a pep talk to myself, reminding me that nothing bad actually happened, and motivating me to have a different sort of day tomorrow, you may be onto something…..feel free to share in my positive spin attempts, and to recast your own day into one where no ACTUAL disasters occurred. 

 

Friday finds – a tutorial for a repurposed denim pouch, and other ideas for DIY tween birthday gifts

Continuing my theme of preparing a post here in order to work out what I will make for my chicks, the flavour for today’s list of suggestions and links is the tween girl.  My eldest chick is turning 11 this week, and is right in that middle stage– not quite a teenager, but not a young child.  She still loves playing imaginary games, but also enjoys Dr Who.  She is happy playing with younger children, but is keen to wear makeup and listen to her own style of music.  She is finding her feet as a leader at school, in the last year of primary school, and starting to think about high school, boys, and relationships in a very different way.  This can make it hard to find gifts that aren’t too young for her, but that aren’t too old for her.  I don’t want to push her to grow up, but I want to give her the freedom to do it at her own pace.

With all of that in mind I am starting this list with a tutorial that is great for many ages, but particularly good for the ‘tween-agers in your life!  A list of other suggestions and links follows at the end.

 

 Repurposed Denim Zipped pouch – tutorial.

Zipped pouches can be used for so many things including for holding iPods, chargers and earphones, for pencil cases, for carrying the little toys that are still attractive to this age group (tiny cutesy miniature things that hurt parents a lot when they are stood on in the middle of the night), for feminine hygiene products (yes – they are starting to grow up), for makeup or for hair-ties, hairclips, etc.  You can make them using cotton, laminated cotton, or repurposed jeans (my newest addiction!).

This tutorial produces a zipped pouch that is 8” x 5” using repurposed denim.

Repurposed Denim Pouch

Materials

One pair of used denim jeans (well – actually one small part of a pair of denim jeans – the bottom of one leg, or the seat and a bit of the thigh is enough!)

Cotton for lining – a piece 17” x 5 ½” – cut into two pieces 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

Zipper that is longer than 8 ½”

Optional – small piece fusible fleece (for more body use Vilene H640, for less use Vilene H630).

 

Repurposing old denim jeans

To make this pouch you will need two squares of denim 8 ½” x 5 ½”.  There are several easy places to salvage this much denim from – it will depend on where your jeans are most worn.  The bottom of the legs, below the knee and above the hem tends to yield the best quality denim, but I am also partial to including a back pocket as a pocket on the outside of the pouch that can be used as a pocket on the pouch.  If the fabric around the pocket is a little worn, then some fusible interfacing can assist to provide some added stability to the fabric.

If you want to add some padding to the pouch, then follow the directions for the fusible fleece and adhere it to the wrong side of the denim before you start sewing..  I recommend cutting your piece ½” smaller than the denim (i.e.  8” x 5”) so that your seams aren’t too bulky.

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  1. To insert the zip it is useful, but not necessary, to use a zip foot.   Take your first 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 ¼” from the edge.

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2.  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 second piece of denim 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.  (NB – if you are using a pocket from the jeans, make sure that the top of the pocket is nearest to the zip seam!  It may also be a bit bulky so be prepared to ease the fabric under the foot.)

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3.  Denim is quite heavy, so you can either finger press, or use an iron to press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat along the zip.  The next step is optional but I recommend top stitching along the edges of the zip to stop the lining getting caught in the zip down the track.  To do this measure one inch from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop one inch from the other end.  (Starting and stopping before the edge of the fabric enables you to sew the pouch sides together with relative ease.)  Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.

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4.  Before you sew the sides of the pouch, 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 denim together and match up their edges.    Pin the zip so that the teeth of the zip are facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.

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5.  You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about an inch 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 to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip.

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Leaving a gap of about 3 inches will allow you to turn the pouch inside out.  Open up the seam on the side so that you are sewing the fabric without it being caught by the top stitching near the zip.

6.  Once you have sewn the edges of the pouch, 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.

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Clipping the seam where the zip ends helps reduce bulk.

7.  Turn your pouch inside out, so that the denim is facing out and the lining is tucked in the pouch.  Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly.   Then either handstitch the side seam in the pouch closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.

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8.  Sit back and admire your handiwork.  Take a photo and, if you post it to instagram, tag it #alittlebirdmademe so that I can admire it too!!

9.  Of course you could also appliqué the ‘plain side’, or use different fabric.  The options are endless!  (Wish I had thought of the appliqué before I finished.  Might have to make another one now!!)

Other suggestions for DIY  ‘tween gifts.

Bags of all shapes and sizes!

Personalised duffel bag

You might recall that last year I made the eldest chick a weekender bag from Dr Who fabric.  It continues to get much use and be a big hit.  This free tutorial from Jembellish for a personalised duffle bag is another alternative to this.

Cross body bag

This style of bag is just right for a tween – sophisticated and yet not overdone – perfect for taking when they are going to a friend’s house, to the shops, or out to a cafe!  And I just happen to have a tutorial to make one here on my site – Tutorial for cross body bag

Wallet

My eldest chick seems to be quite good at saving her money to use for special purchases, but is carrying around a very small coin purse that likes to pop open and empty it’s contents into whatever bag it is carried in.  Maybe I need to make one of the wallets designed by Color Me Domestic!

Dr Who pouch

The eldest chick is a big Dr Who fan.  If I was to present her with one of the pieced pouches generously shared by Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle showing a Tardis, I could well be voted best mother of the year.  (I won’t have time to do it this year but will need to keep reminding myself about it for another big occasion!)

 Clothing

The tweens I know are starting to develop their own fashion style – recognising what they like to wear and what makes them feel good.  Making something to encourage or complement that style will always go down well.  The following tutorials provide a lot of inspiration!

Sewing Like Mad – How to draft and custom fit a skirt pattern

Polkadot Chair – Fat Quarter Skirt Tutorial

Mama says sew – The Capri top

Make it Love it – Knit Scarf

Ruffles and Stuff – Easy ruffled t-shirt scarf

Scrap hacker – DiY Sneakers  This has a list of ideas for decorating your own sneakers.  Another option is to give the tween a pair of blank sneakers and a packet of fabric markers (I like the retro bright set by Sharpie) and let them decorate their own!

Martha Stewart – Reversible Hat

I heart Naptime – Infinity scarf

Decor

Being able to move away from the decor of childhood to a more grown up decor is all part of being a tween.  Gifts that can assist with this include posters, new doona covers and curtains, and things that personalise their room.   This link has a tutorial for basic bunting – using fabric that is personal to the tween, or adding their name can make it personalised for them.

http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/how-to-make-a-fabric-banner-tutorial

I have already collected a fair assortment of free tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, and added two of my own.  Adding these to a tween’s room is another inexpensive and easy way to jazz up and personalise their decor!  Tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, Pillowcase from fat quarters with an iPod pocket and A PDF tutorial on making a buttoned-back envelope cushion cover are all here on the site ready to inspire you!

 

Jewellery

Tween chicks are starting to express their individuality through their choice of accessories too, so these links provide great inspiration of ways to make jewellery for them.

Coupons Are Great – Create Lego earrings tutorial

Scraphacker – Button Bling  This link has a great collected of linked tutorials on making jewellery from buttons.

Coconut Lemon Lime – How to with Deena has tutorials on making jewellery using shells.

Love this pic – DIY Cork Pendants This is an image that shows you how to make pendants by cutting up wine corks.  No tutorial but the picture is quite clear.

 

Spa wrap

That growing independence and budding sophistication means that  tweens are starting to be interested in beauty products and makeup.  A wrap for their hair is a great gift, and the next link takes you to a lovely collection of tutorials for making your own spa treats.

Eeny Meeny and Moe – Spa Hair Drying Wrap

Random Tuesdays – Handmade Bath and Spa Gifts

 

Other lists

A further list of ideas for tweens is found on the site The Childs Paper.  If you are interested in making gifts by recycling old sweaters the links on London Local Services  are wonderful!  Lots of ideas that could be adapted to tweens very easily.

I think I have narrowed down my options (particularly given my time frame of a week) for the eldest chick, so will show you the outcomes next week after she has received her gifts!

 

 

 

 

 

What a week!

All that preparation to begin sewing when the chicks returned to school has delivered very little.    I did get a good start on a project that I have been commissioned to prepare for a magazine, but of course, all I can show you of that are the fabrics I am using!

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I have continued to enjoy cutting up old denim jeans and repurposing the fabric into other items – it is quite interesting identifying the useful pieces of fabric in a worn out pair of trousers!  I also found a great spot to donate my de-cluttered clothes, including those fabulous pink sparkly shoes – a charity shop that targets the trendy vintage and hipster market, and uses the proceeds to support a national help line.

Why did I not get more done?  Ah yes.  Life.  The reality of  life as a parent of a child with a disability was thrust upon me.  This week has seen some big changes in the nest as a result.  The boy has changed schools, from a private Catholic school to attend our local public school.  The middle chick was so impressed with the facilities at the new school and so unimpressed with her new teacher that she started a campaign to move schools too.  Torn between teaching her about facing up to adversity and finding strategies to address it, and the knowledge that the public school offers a program that could have been purpose designed for her, we gave in and agreed to move her, and she started today with much joy.  In the space of a week we have gone from three children in one school, to only having the eldest chick there.  Lots of change.  I think that the outcome will be a good one overall, and the boy has certainly had a better experience in the last two days than he had in his first two days at his original school earlier in the week (or in fact the whole last year term at the original school).  And so we change, find even more new strategies, and keep moving forward.  Different schools, different teachers, different resources, different approaches.  Hopefully this one will be a better fit.

I was meant to post my list of DIY ideas for tween gifts tonight.  I promised it in my newsletter.  And while I am half way through preparing the list I am exhausted and have decided to be upfront about the fact that it is not ready, apologise and publish it tomorrow after I have had a decent night’s sleep.  I am sure that you will all understand!

I hope that your week has not been full of life changing events and that your weekend holds delightful things in store for you.

 

Upcycling

You might have been a bit bemused by my focus on de-cluttering yesterday.  Today I can report that it has a purpose in the sewing/crafting/bag making world – I have used some of my de-cluttered clothes to make a bag for a very special friend of mine who has his ninth birthday today.

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I used a pair of my old jeans for the outside, including using the pocket as the bag’s outer pocket, and lined it with cotton from a pair of pyjama pants (lovely soft worn cotton).  I appliqued his initial in the same denim so it is subtle, but still personal. The bag was designed for him to be able to carry his iPad mini, so I also took the opportunity to experiment with the fusible Buckram that I bought a week or so ago.  I used it for the flap, and for the back panel of the bag, so that it has some structure and stiffness around the iPad.  I am really happy with my experimentation but did learn a few things along the way.

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The first one ( so obvious in hindsight) is that if you are using a really stiff interfacing, don’t expect that you will be able to turn the bag inside-out or outside-in through the normal smallish opening!  Much wrangling was required to get the bag in the right way – next time I will have the opening in a completely different place, and MUCH bigger!  However using the rigid interfacing and fusing it to the denim meant that I was much less concerned about the ‘worn’ parts of the denim, like the hole(s) appearing above the pocket.  It won’t be a weak spot on the bag – just a feature! (and please excuse the slightly wonky stitching – it did get a rework before being gifted!)

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The birthday boy was thrilled with his gift, and I was inspired to re-inspect the bags of clothes to be donated to see if there are any more bag worthy garments to be upcycled or repurposed!  I am also eyeing off the linen cupboard next……..

Those of you who read my newsletter will know that I provided some sage advice on maintaining focus in your business and remembering what is in scope and what is out of scope.  Within hours of sending that out I had an idea that was very bright and shiny and completely distracted me for a good 24 hours.  Luckily I have a great team of cohorts to bounce ideas off and one in particular helped me to sort through the idea, recognise it’s merits, and put it into perspective.  Phew!  The idea involves working with other local crafts people to do a pop-up shop to showcase our wares, and is, in fact a really good idea.  But not for next month!  (Yes I was completely overambitious for a few hours!).  That will now be bubbling away on the back burner and gaining slow momentum across the next few months, rather than the next few days.

Time for me to take my own advice.  I need to come back to my plan, use my focus, and stay within the parameters.

With that thought in mind, I am off to the sewing room to prepare for a week of being creative!  The chicks start school tomorrow, which means that anything could happen, but I hope to get a few hours in and create some new pieces of colour.  Have a great week!

 

February frame of mind

I have kicked off the new month with a big session of de-cluttering, and catching up with people who are important to me.  Those of you who receive my newsletter you will know that I had set myself the task of de-cluttering my wardrobe after reading some very sensible tips on de-cluttering.  I am proud to say that I did it!  I was ruthless.  Amongst the clothes that I have put in the ‘donate’ pile were two dresses I have had for 15 years, a suit about 16 years old and a skirt I have had for 18 years.  Yes – I am a hoarder.  But no more.  In addition to the old bits and pieces (that I haven’t worn for years and really just carry around as a comfortable habit) I also assessed newer pieces in my wardrobe.  I have two beautiful designer label skirts bought at different times about three years ago.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have worn each.  No matter how beautiful they are, they are obviously not right for me, so they have gone too.

01a937b69958473c65079f1b51fd00c3bce96363ec   The “Before” shot

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And “After”

I even sorted out shoes.  The walking boots that I wore around Europe in 1998?  Gone.  My wedding shoes that I didn’t really like and hurt my feet and have just gathered dust ever since?  Gone.  Those beautiful neutral peep toe wedges that start each day feeling great and end with me thinking that my two little toes have been amputated?  Gone.  And finally, the completely impractical, spur of the moment, never ever worn pink satin and diamante stiletto strappy shoes?  Also on their way out the door.  Because if they haven’t been worn in 3 years, they aren’t likely to ever be worn.

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Farewell

 And you know what?  I feel great!  Isn’t it funny how one little bit of tidying up and sorting out can make your head feel lighter?  My plan is to keep going, one room, or one cupboard at a time, and work my way through the house.  Some things will be donated, others will be freecycled, and others will be repurposed, but I will be looking at everything in my house and assessing whether it has a purpose, a place, a need, or a plan.  Shock, horror, I am even eyeing off my overflowing bookshelves – all five of them ……..

My other part of starting the month off well was to spend time with people who are important to me.  Last night I had dinner with some very dear friends (and ate one of the best home-cooked meals I have ever had – seriously 5 star restaurant quality) and reconnected with them after our holiday break, our busy family lives, our respective personal dramas of 2013.  It was just what I needed.  Then today I rang one of my oldest friends and we talked, as we always do, for well over an hour.  We caught up on each other’s news, family, work issues, relationships, tragedies, and dramas, and offered each other insight, advice and support.  If we can’t be in the same room then just having that connection with her voice was the next best thing.  Another very dear long term friend popped in for a cup of tea this afternoon, just to spend time catching up with each other, while another rang for a quick chat this evening.

I am so incredibly lucky that I have so many amazing women (and a few men) in my life who share their lives with me as I share mine with them.  I look at what some of us have dealt with over the years and am amazed at the fact that there are still smiles, jokes, support, love and optimism.  They are all very good at pointing out to me when I am being ridiculous or overreacting or missing the obvious, but they are all the first to offer up their own human frailty for examination too.

The results of this day?  No sewing, but a wonderful sense of peace and joy (and a tidy house!) – which means that tomorrow should see great things in the sewing department!!  All of this was topped off by a text message from my boy that attached a video that he made for me of his Lego characters having a battle, complete with the best line, delivered in a deep serious voice “Now we need to go and get the Mega Weapon.  And icy poles.  We need a Mega Weapon that makes icy poles.”  He makes me laugh!

I hope that your day has been energising, and full of lovely moments.  If it hasn’t then my suggestion is to ring someone you love who you haven’t spoken to in a while, and let the conversation flow.  It works for me!