With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too. This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts. I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with. I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room! I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:
Hello! Today my Handmade Project – How to make an appliqued cushion cover is being used to launch the new series of Handmade Projects on the Handmade Canberra website! I designed this project thinking that it would be a great Mother’s Day present. But as my Mum is a reader of this blog, I might need to go back to the drawing board!
If you make any cushions using the pattern I would love it if you tagged me if you post them on Instagram – #alittlebirdmademe, so that I can enjoy your efforts!
While I am informed that ‘handmade is the new black’, the joy of handmade has not spread to the men in our lives as much as the women and children. Today’s list, however, is set to change that! I have gathered together a list of links to free patterns to make a wide variety of things that will all be well received by the men in your life. Remember – handmade doesn’t mean poor quality – it means high quality because it is imbued with the love of the person making the gift!
Father’s Day is a day to reflect on the men in our lives – our fathers, grandfathers, and the fathers of our children. I am very lucky to have known both my grandfathers, and to still have my father. I have memories of dancing on my Opa’s shoes in the lounge room, and of my Pop taking us for outings to the only ice-cream parlour in Auckland at the time (because as an American he missed ice-cream parlours). My Dad is truly one of the good guys. He provides me with love and support, humour and wisdom as he has always. I am always grateful that I am his daughter, so Father’s Day is a special day in my life each year.
As you all know, sewing is my ‘thing’ so the first part of this list are ideas that are for sewn gifts for men. First up – a hat! I love the styling of this pattern for a men’s flat cap from aboutgoodness.com.
Another idea is an apron for Dad. I have used this pattern from Purl Bee and really like the way that the strap is adjustable so it can fit a multitude of sizes. When I made an apron with this pattern for a family member I used printable fabric to print a picture of the children holding a sign with her name and made the pocket from that.
Last Christmas I made my father a sun hat using this pattern from April Cobb. The pattern is a good basic one, and you can personalise it with your choice of fabrics. I had to include some orange in the one for my Dad because he is from The Netherlands!
Another idea that I am keen to make myself is this tutorial for an iPhone/iPad stand from the lovely Michelle at Factotum of the Arts.
If you are a fan of making bags like me, then a cargo duffle bag is a great personal gift that he will get a lot of use from. Noodlehead has the free pattern for this bag on her site.
For a ‘metro’ Dad in your life, Sew4Home has a pattern for this ‘Metro Bag‘.
For a Dad who likes a nice hankie, Purl Bee has a detailed tutorial on how to create a rolled-hem Hankie.
Another simple to make but thoughtful gift is a coffee cup cozy. Hawaiian Paperdoll shares a great pattern on her site.
Another idea, and one that I have been playing with myself, is making Dad a wallet. A nice simple pattern for a wallet is found on Allisa Jacobs website.
For those of you who like to crochet here is a list for you!
Or you might like to make Dad his own Death Star Cushion with this pattern from Pops de Milk.
I plan to make these Opa House Slippers for my own Dad one day…… The pattern is on Ravelry.
Of course Dad could always use a new gadget cover – and there is a great list of free patterns in this post I prepared a couple of weeks ago – DIY Gadget covers.
As usual there are many other great lists of gifts that you can make for Father’s Day. If you are interested in seeing more lists, or other ideas, you might like to look at the Pinterest board I have created as a place to store these ideas, appropriately titled “Gifts for Men“!
The most important thing to remember though, is that if you make a gift with love, you pass your love with the gift.
In the process of making the crocheted floor rug for my daughters’ room from recycled t-shirt yarn (also known as ‘tarn’ and by the brand name ‘zpagetti’) I found a pile of patterns to draw inspiration from. I am now slightly stalled in the process of making a rug for my son’s room, so hope that by revisiting those tutorials to share with you I might kick start myself back into action!
Hooray – I have decided to re-start my Friday Finds posts. This means that I provide a list of tutorials that you can use to make your own handmade whatevers. (That is a technical term we bloggers use.)
Today I am cheating a little. In my monthly newsletter (have you subscribed yet? Why not! Go on – over there on the right hand side!) for this month I included a list of links to tutorials for making iPad, lap-top and other gadget covers. I was motivated to do this after I made my own laptop bag for my new laptop, affectionately named Reeba Toshiba. I have roadtested the bag a few times now and am very happy with it.
Front of my Lap-top bag from re-purposed denim, leather and cotton
Back of the lap top bag
I plan to prepare a tutorial so that you can make your own, but in the meantime wanted to share some of the tutorials that I have gathered to gain ideas and inspiration on how to make your own gadget covers.
A felt envelope case with a difference Purl Bee adapts to gadgets of different shapes and sizes.
Nancy’s Notions has a tutorial for making an Ipad cover that folds over the tablet to protect it.
A great tutorial that can be adjusted to fit a variety of tablets and gadgets is found in a guest post by Lindsay from Inspiring Creations on U-Create.
Jessi from Practically Functional has a tutorial for making an iPad stand and cover using a hard cover from a binder folder.
A different take on making a cover from a book is found on the V Spot blog in their free tutorial.
Creative Home Expressions has a tutorial on how to make a sleeve for a Kindle that closes with a loop and button.
Sew for Home have a pattern for an iPad or tablet case with a difference – it has pockets and room to carry a mobile phone along with the tablet.
Dollarstore Crafts have a tutorial on making a gadget cover from a pair of old jeans. (And you know how much I love repurposing denim!)
Laptop covers and bags
A tutorial on Curbly uses placemats to make a laptop cover.
On the Handmade Wagon you will find a tutorial for a laptop case that has a gusset (you know – a seperate piece that goes around the sides).
The Crafty Kitty has a tutorial for making an organice canvas laptop sleeve that closes with a button and loop.
Craft Habit has a tutorial to make a lap top bag with a strap.
If you haven’t found something that you love in any of these links, then you can have a look at the list I have gather on my Pinterest board – Gadget Cases DIY or look at these lists that other sites have put together.
This series of posts provides a place for me to share tutorials I have found online where other crafters have shared their ideas on how to make handmade for whatever occasion, outfit, home decoration need that you might have. This post focusses on Easter. This has to be one of the best holiday seasons around – religious meaning, chocolate, cute bunnies and chicks, a four day weekend – not a lot more you can ask for in a holiday really!
The number of crafts available for Easter is, of course, endless. I have collected some of my favourite sewing tutorials here, and have pinned many other links to tutorials for all sorts of other crafts on my “Holidays” Pinterest board if you are looking for other inspiration.
I am not especially good at changing my décor to suit the holidays – but with cute cushion covers like these, I think I could be tempted!
There are pages and pages of wonderful ideas for children’s Easter craft, free Easter printables, delicious recipes and fantastic ideas for decorating eggs out there on the net – I have captured a very small selection here, and a few more on my Pinterest Holidays board. My final piece of inspiration however, is this decorated egg byRed Ted Art – a wonderful site full of inspiring ideas.
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 DenimZipped 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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
While there are many who declare that Valentine’s Day is ‘too commercial’ , I have a soft spot for the day. Not because I receive lots of hearts and flowers and cards. In fact quite the opposite. It is my eldest chick’s birthday and her father declared that this meant that we couldn’t possibly celebrate Valentine’s Day as it would detract from her special day (!!) With her birthday as the focus, I have a range of different heart shaped cake tins collected at garage sales etc and she loves her heart shaped cake each year. So it is a special day for me. However I also like the concept that there is a day that allows people who love each other to be reminded that saying it to the person they love, or treating the person they love to a present, is a good thing. Not everyone has a relationship that involves daily gestures of love and romance, so a bit of an annual prompt can’t be a bad thing!
Before getting too far into a debate that I don’t want to have, instead I bring you a small collection of ideas for crafts that you can do to celebrate Valentine’s Day with something you have made with love. The great thing about many of these tutorials is that they can also be used for other celebrations or occasions by simply changing the materials, or the colours.
The first is a paper garland of hearts. It was originally made as a fourth of July garland but could really be used for any celebration – and using colours that you and your special someone love would make it a great Valentine’s Day celebration.
The next is a delightful idea to make your own dice, and to use hearts instead of ‘dots’. The tutorial, on the website Design Sponge also has ideas on the puns you can use when presenting the dice as a present!
I discovered these gorgeous little Amurigami crochet hearts on the site RoxyCraft – their tag line is ‘patterns that don’t suck’. I love it! The potential to make these for all sorts of occasions is huge – but as a Valentine’s Day crochet pattern I think they are a winner!
Vanessa at V and Co has a beautiful collection of tutorials on her site, but it was this gorgeous ruffled heart pillow that caught my eye – a combination of reverse appliqué and ruffles to make a beautiful pillow. (And of course, you could adapt it to other occasions by using different shapes for the cut out!)
(While you are there have a look at her patterns – her heart quilt is beautiful!)
A group of bloggers created a linkup party last year with 14 days of love and on day 4 JoJo and Eloise provided a tutorial for making a simple heart shaped pouch. A lovely simple gift to make, with many uses, including as a way of presenting another gift! From this tutorial you can click through to the other Valentine themed ideas from that collection.
Beautiful free printables to create your own Valentine’s cards or gifts can be found at the gorgeous blog Design is Yay where Wita has made some shabby chic money envelopes that cover both Chinese New Year (today!!) and Valentines Day.
The summer school holidays are stretching on in a haze of heat, sunburn, bushfire warnings and crankiness at being told to drink more water and stay in the shade. And that means that it is time to think about pushing the little bodies back into uniforms and shoes to see if they still fit (because it is a well known fact that amazing feats of growth happen over the summer school holidays every year – especially if you have stocked up on their school uniform at the end of last year!) It is also time to think about what they need for going back to school. Which is the basis of the following list of tutorials.
Each of these has been found on the blog of another crafter who has also been faced with the back to school dilemma, so I present simply a gathering of their ideas so that you can think about some projects to help the back to school process begin!
While some schools require a uniform bag, complete with school logo, many still allow students to bring along a bag that reflects their individual personality. That is where the following patterns come in. With the amazing range of fabrics available the possibilities for individual fashion statements are endless!
The lovely people at Plaid have already collected a lovely selection of tutorials with their collection of 5 DIY back to school bags
There are so many bags that children need for back to school. Library bags are a definite need, especially in the junior school. (The librarian at our school is constantly pleading for parents to remember to pack books in bags to protect them!) They can be as fancy or as simple as you like.
Of course, in addition to the books and pencils there are also nutritious lunches and snacks to be thinking about and if you are packing them in these lunchbags or snacks bags they are going to look good as well as tasting good!
A Kids Lunch box pattern from Crazy Little Projects guest posting at Skip to my Lou is a good place to start.
And for the ultimate collection of patterns for lunch bags, over at fresh juniper she has collected 50 patterns together for lunch bags and totes with tutorials!
I hope that you find some inspiration in this collection to assist you with the back to school requirements! (I can tick ‘new school shoes’ off my list, but have found post it notes from the eldest chick stuck to a pillow on my bed, and the screen of my computer, that list her ‘stationary’ requirements. Think a trip to the office supplies store is in order – plus a quick lesson on the difference between things that don’t move, and things that are used to write on and with……)
If you have ideas to add to the list, please feel free to add them in the comments!
While I was reading the Gifts for Geeks list of Handmade Holiday gifts posted at Sew Mama Sew I realised that the chicks and I like a lot of geeky things! Which prompted me to pull together the following list of ideas that I have collected for gifts to make for the people in your life who love geeky things! Our geekdom stretches beyond Dr Who, Star Wars, and Lego but I have stuck to our favourites!
Dr Who Being a woman-of-a-certain-age I remember watching Dr Who in my teens, when it was a BBC production, when Tom Baker was the Doctor and when, having a choice of only 2 television channels at the time (it was North Queensland in the early 80’s) we regularly were in trouble with the nuns for being late for dinner, as Dr Who finished a few minutes after the dinner bell went. Now my eldest chick watches it and it is slick and shiny and has a much bigger budget, but the basics are still there! Time Lords, TARDIS time machines, travelling companions, and the occasional Dalek. Luckily the resurgence of it’s popularity means that there are piles of tutorials on how to make things for fans!
Although I haven’t had any luck finding ‘licensed’ Dr Who fabric, there are quite a few “police box’ designs available through Spoonflower that can be used to make great gifts, like the messenger bag I made!
Once again my age is an advantage in understanding Star Wars. I remember going to the cinema to see the first movie. We went into the city, and it was very exciting. When the next two movies came out we were living on an island in the Pacific that didn’t have a cinema with proper movie releases (although there seemed to be an abundance of Kung Fu movies available to watch in a shed near the beach!). When the next three were released I was busy with babies and didn’t see them. Despite that I have developed a great knowledge of all the movies as my son is quite taken with them, and all things related to them!
If none of thesetutorials grab your fancy, there is a great range of Star Wars fabric available and you can use it to make bags, hats, skirts, pillowcases, etc!
Lego was an important part of my childhood. My grandmother would always bring some back from any trips to the Netherlands (there were only a few grandchildren at that stage – now it would break her bank!). My mother still has all of our Lego and it has been used by all the grandchildren too. Now my children love Lego. They have the themed sets – Star Wars, Chima, Harry Potter, City, Ninjago, Pirates of the Carribean, the Hobbit (not ALL of them obviously) but they also have just general bricks and it is rare for them to use the patterns – they build using their imagination. The tutorials below include ideas to store Lego bricks, ways to use bricks to make things, or making other items that look like Lego bricks.