Thank you to all who reached out to share and support when I was having a tough time last week. The great news is that things have continued to improve since then, so much so that I had one morning this week when all three children were at school! Of course I had left my crochet bag at home, so wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself for a while!
I have managed to get into the sewing room, and my other favourite making place, my armchair, and produce a few new things this week. After a special request I made another pineapple tea cosy – tweaking the pattern as I went, and am very happy with the results.
Then I decided to play with the idea of a cactus tea cosy and love this result!
Some time in the sewing room meant some dome style tea cosies and a wrap around cosy! My fabric stash is being re-discovered and I am loving it!!
A few more tiny cacti have grown in tiny teacups and I made some trivets with recycled t-shirt yarn. You might say that it has been a productive week!!
In the midst of all of this Spring has sprung (finally) so that might explain the additional energy I have had – all that vitamin D soaking in! My ‘to-do’ list is long at the moment – cleaning the house, finally painting a couple of rooms, getting some more sewing done, listing things in my shop…… so let’s hope that the sun stays out for a few more days!
I hope that you have had a creative and inspiring week.
A few weeks ago I found myself lying in bed thinking about this website and wondering whether I should just delete it and accept that I wasn’t going to be in business anymore. It was a hard conversation to have with myself, but I couldn’t see anyway to move forward. Fast forward to this week and I have just reopened my Etsy shop (you can get there by clicking the link at the top of the page) for the first time in over two and a half years. Wow!
What happened to change things? I had a couple of lightbulb moments. I just couldn’t get excited about making any of the things I used to make, wasn’t inspired to design anything from those lines, and had pretty much abandoned my studio as the household dumping room for anything that didn’t have a home. Then we had a two week school holiday break for the children where we made no plans – no trips, no big outings, and no commitments. After a few days of mooching around while the kids did their own thing in their own parts of the house I decided that it was time to tackle the sewing room. Which took about 6 hours less than I thought it would, and was not stressful. The light was beginning to shine through the gloom that had been sitting over my creative self.
Then I decided that I needed a tea cosy for my glass teapot to keep it warm when friends dropped in and we drank multiple cups of tea in one sitting. I did a bit of looking around on line and ended up making my own pattern and whipping this up one evening.
That was the first light bulb moment! I found myself wanting to create! I kept making tea cosies, even though I didn’t have a person in mind to give them to. Then I found myself looking at all things tea related online and had my second light bulb moment. By starting to make again, but not sticking to just one method of making (sewing) and not just one type of product (accessories) I could delve into making but instead focus on a common theme. Tea! From there I started down the road of making resusable tea bags. I drink a lot of tea and always put any tea bags in the compost or the worm farm. Recently we emptied the worm farm and dug over the compost and all the tea bags appeared amongst the lovely dirt – not at all broken down. I have since discovered that tea bags are manufactured using plastic! While I often use an infuser I have found that the hinged ones break, and the cup ones aren’t always the right shape for the cup I want to use. The sewing machine came out, the fabric scrap bin was opened and the experimenting began.
After a lot of research I decided that using GOTS certified organic cotton was the safest option, and that using a tighter weave rather than the traditional loose weave muslin would ensure that the bags lasted longer. Then I drank lots of tea (oh the hardship) using various shapes and sizes of the tea bags, decided on the best combination and sat down and began making them. Making them involves cutting, sewing, threading, sewing, turning, ironing each little bag, so they aren’t particularly cheap to make, but I believe that they are a good investment in reducing the amount of plastic we are pouring into the earth.
This morning I got up bright and early and photographed, staged, took more photos, wrote descriptions, edited, wrote different words and finally, after a very long time, pushed the ‘publish’ button to list items for sale in my shop again. It felt good! I have a lot of ideas but have learnt a lot over the years about what works for me, what success looks like for me, and what causes me to become overwhelmed and freeze. This means that I am not putting pressure on myself, and will make and list items when I can. I am a bit proud of these first listings though! Check out my tea cosy collection!
Yes that is eggs and bacon
And even better, yes that is avocado on toast!
I have also used this new found creative surge as an excuse to hit the charity shops in search of teapots to use for sizing the cosies and tea cups to use in making ‘things’, like a pincushion.
And then because I like having a new pincushion for my pins I made another one for my needles, using a pattern from the Lion Brand website.
So there you have it. My creative urge is back and I am back in business, but with a new twist. Let’s see how it goes! There has been a lot happening apart from the creative explosion, but I will save that for another time as there is a pile of crochet calling my name, and some Netflix series to binge watch.
I have been very quiet here over the last few months, although still using Instagram and Facebook. I think social media goes in cycles – sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the image and sometimes it is about the conversation. It seems timely, then, when the year is about to roll over, to capture a bit of the last 12 months in story, image and conversation! (All this without sending anyone to sleep. Hmmm….can I rise to the challenge?!)
This year was a big year for my little family with our move to a new nest and rural life. At this point (days away from the 12 month mark) I can honestly say that I do not regret the move at all. There are days when yet another drive into town makes my heart sink, but for the most part even the commute (20 minutes to most places I need to get to) is extremely civilised! We now have 12 hens, 5 sheep, 2 dogs and 4 goldfish.
We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.
We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.
We leased one of our paddocks to the neighbours so we also get to enjoy their horses. The gardens are beautiful and my parents do a lot of work to maintain them (I say guiltily!) We named the property as a birthday gift for my Dad (who is a Deacon) and the same friend who made the sign also made a custom ordered signpost for the garden as a gift for both of them.
The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.
The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!
Also on the family front we had a wonderful family gathering in September to celebrate my parents’ 70th birthdays – with two of my siblings, and 6 of their siblings, plus partners, along with lovely friends, joining us for about 4 days. We have now established that the house can accomodate 9 extra people, and cope with two camper vans. It was a huge highlight for all of us.
In October we went camping after a (much too long) haitus. It was perfect!
My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!
Big changes in the house included replacing the very, very, very busy carpet with something a little more neutral, and starting the mammoth task of painting. With the newly opened Ikea store in town light fittings are next on the list!!
Before and after with the carpet replacement!
On the sewing front I have been busy. I had a two month break when I injured myself in an altercation with my boy, but returned and have been busy ever since. For a woman who was intent on being a bag designer I seem to make an awful lot of baby products now – but they sell well, so I am not complaining! After putting my on-line shop on vacation mode about a year ago, thinking it would be for a month or so, it is still not open. The upcoming holiday period is a great opportunity for me to sit down and plan what the next year is going to look like – and how I am going to run my business is a big part of that. I have developed a pile of new products over the last few months, including gift sets, teething blankies (with really soft bamboo velour backing), bibs that can have a dummy clipped to them, fabric covered journals, and a pile of Christmas decorations! They have mainly been sold through Shop Handmade, with a few custom orders here and there.
A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy – part of my new product range.
Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton – they feel sooo nice!
Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!
I have also completed two very special custom orders for people who wanted cushion covers made using clothing that was special to a deceased grandparent, as gifts for their family. It is a privilege to be entrusted with cutting up these garments that hold so many memories, in order to create a lasting momento.
These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.
Life with my chicks has had it’s ups and downs – as it always does, but as the year draws to a close there is a feeling that we might be making headway with some of my boy’s issues. We had to change doctors and counsellors during the year when his both left town, and although it has been a drawn out process to get everyone up to speed we seem to be there now, and to be gaining extra support to assist in supporting him. The girls have both grown a lot this year, in size and maturity, with the eldest chick even doing household chores without complaining! Wonders will never cease!
I will spend the next few weeks thinking about what is next for this little bird, and my business and my family, and hopefully will appear here with a little more frequency than I have been!
I hope that this year has treated you kindly, that you have been loved and supported, and that the New Year brings joy, creativity and peace to you.
I have been back at the machine making stuff this week. And it feels good! I am itching to get back to making bags – it has been too long – but for now I have been working on more baby accessories to meet demands in the Shop Handmade.
A couple of weeks ago I starting playing with sewing plastic to make waterproof bibs. Many hours, and frustration later I realised that I needed a different approach.
Crooked bias binding, uneven stitches, lots of swearing, and slipping layers……
And of course the answer was simple – use the laminated cotton that I already have! Doh!
Would have been better if I had looked at the direction of the pattern when I was cutting it out!
So a series of waterproof bibs, with soft bamboo lining so that they are still comfortable for a baby to wear, are now stocked in Shop Handmade. And I have made a few with pockets on the bottom.
I remember thinking that pockets on bibs were weird, until I had my own children and realised how handy they can be for little ones to scoop out the dropped biscuit, grape, spaghetti, etc that they have dropped! (Good thing these are washable!)
I suspect that I didn’t share with you the other product I made for the Shop a few weeks ago – hot water bottle covers and heat packs. (Well, it is almost winter you know!)
This week a customer asked for a set of hand-warmers as a gift for a traveller, so I had fun playing with a design for these. You know me – they couldn’t just be plain!
I have also been working on some more nappy change mats to restock in the Shop. Loving all the bright colours!
I am also a little bit chuffed to be the featured designer on the Handmade Canberra website this week.
Now to get back to the machine!! I hope that you are having a productive week.
This week has been a whirlwind of activity. Meetings, errands, nights out, housekeeping, and one glorious day at home. And this is what I designed and made in that day!
Teething toys with a wooden ring and one of my silicone tips! I do love a new product!
I also completed a custom ordered cushion cover for a 9 year old’s birthday. I challenged myself and made and installed piping for the first time. (I need to perfect corners!). I was to deliver it yesterday, but when I got to town I realised that I had left it at home. I rang mum and she met me half way to hand it over, and I dropped it into the Shop on time so that the customer could collect it. Phew. Then I get a message last night saying the customer loves it but I have missed a piece of applique stitching.
And she is right!!! I am mortified- and having to laugh at the irony that after being so proud of my efficiency in getting it delivered despite having forgotten it, I then had to drive in to town and collect it, repair and return. I was getting too smart for my own good there!
Every day a little thing happens to confirm that moving out here and sharing the property and our lives with my parents was the right thing to do. (And not just Mum driving to meet me half way when I forget something!). They babysat for me twice this week and there was no stress, no drama, just normal routine for the kids. Of course the down side is that two late nights in a row mean two late nights in a row for them.
It is not without it’s challenges though. Life with children brings new and interesting surprises every day. Today was the announcement by my boy that he had been testing how strong the pipe from the dam to the pump was, and now there was water coming out of it……. Some investigation and breathing out later it was revealed that the strength of the pipe had been tested with an axe…….. More breathing out and mantras of calmness later a solution for repair was identified, and the pipe is fixed. For me it identified that this was nothing to do with my boy’s special needs, and everything to do with him being an 8 year old. He is testing boundaries, exploring our new environment and having fun. And 8 year olds, no matter how intelligent, don’t always think of the consequences of their actions. I had to think back to things I did when I was 8. And remind my Dad (who was struggling to understand why someone would do something like this) of how we behaved when he was 8. It helped us both to breathe out, and keep our cool. Just. Needless to say, the axe, the pocketknife, and all other tools are now out of bounds for some time.
One day full of production, and one day full of unexpected activity that felt like nothing was achieved. The ups and downs and unpredictability of life!
For now I am back to my plans. New products to make, an online shop to open (or re-open), baking to do, and events to attend. And to keep our spirits up, this tree in the front yard is ablaze with colour. Fingers crossed that I get a day of production rather than a day of unexpected activities.
Today I began the process of changing my brand. New swing tags on the products that I sell at Shop Handmade was the first step. Each product has its own story printed on the back of the tag. I was asked why I was putting myself through so much effort. The answer is simple- it is who I am! I love the story behind a piece.
I also dropped off some new products. I say ‘new’ but in truth I have been making the separate components for years. I have planned for 2 years to make a travel set – a zipped pouch, a drawstring bag and a toothbrush roll in matching fabric. And I have finally done it! Ta da! A new product that is suitable for all age groups!
In other ‘new looks’ we had our first really cold and foggy morning this morning. It was thick fog so everything appeared as shadows.
I hope that the beginning of your week has gone well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 pair denim jeans, or 0.5m of denim, canvas or decorator weight fabric
0.25 m feature fabric (quilting cotton is used here)
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
Sewing Machine (Zip foot optional)
A rotary cutter and mat is useful but not essential.
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
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.
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 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.)
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.
The Zip sandwich – denim, zip and lining
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.
Using an iron press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat. 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.
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. These 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Repeat this with the denim and feature fabric for the other side of the bag.
You now have two pieces measuring 35.5cm x 35.5cm. . 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.
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.
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). Repeat 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. After 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. Congratulations!!
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!
I have been reflecting over the last week on what it is that I am doing with my time! When I worked full time I seemed to have more time to sew, to blog, etc. Now that I am self-employed I seem to be running in circles all the time. I am not sitting idle, and am not spending hours surfing the internet, yet I seem to not get to the things that I want to do. This was frustrating me for quite a while, until I realised that the things that I have added in to my days are the very reasons that I am no longer working full time.
Over the last few years I have had to shift my priorities. I have had to change my parenting style. I have re-invented our day to day life. (Not just once!). The reason that I have less time available to sew, or blog, or return phone calls, or pay bills (oops!) is because I am more present in my children’s lives. I am still not engaged at the level that I could be, and am certainly not a saint (heaven forbid) but I have come to realise that by spending more time putting the children first our life is better. Now when my boy is starting to get angry and lash out I can normally pin point the cause within a few minutes. I can usually remember the strategies that will help him to calm down without escalation. (Usually. Definitely not always.) When my artist-in-residence is collapsing in a ball of spiky frustration I can see where it has come from and help her to unravel and calm down. (Sometimes). And when my eldest chick is having completely out of character episodes of appalling behaviour I have no idea. Until I empty her rubbish bin and realise that she has been sneaking her little brother’s snacks – full of gluten – and her body is attacking itself.
Much easier to be kind to myself when I think about what we have dealt with each day and how we have resolved it!
I have had a couple of great moments this week that I wanted to share. I was fortunate enough to be invited to see Mary Poppins, the musical, being produced by the Free Rain Theatre Company at the Canberra Theatre. (One of the amazing up-sides of the Human Brochure experience has been invitations to so many wonderful events!) I took the artist-in-residence and we absolutely loved it! It was, to quote Mary herself, ‘practically perfect, in every way’. We even had a chance to have our photos taken with some of the cast afterwards!
The artist-in-residence having a night at the theatre.
This weekend just past was also very special. The Handmade Markets were on, in a new location here in Canberra. I am still not at the point where I am ready to return to having my own stall, but I love my role in the background of the markets, which allows me to interact with all the market designers on an individual level. The exposure to so many talented people is a true delight. Even better, I was able to take the children with me and when we stopped to talk to different stallholders the children had the chance to interact with them too. They got to taste beautifully handcrafted chocolate (thanks Cicada chocolate!), to receive hugs and rainbow roses from GG’s flowers (special hug thanks to Gayana), and the artist-in-residence was able to talk to different artists about their work and her own art. Mick from Leafy Sea Dragon presented her with one of his cards depicting one of his own artworks as an encouragement to another artist. She was thrilled!
The eldest chick and her two friends ran their own business throughout the markets, providing stall holder support. They were exhausted but very happy and very proud at the end of the weekend. This band of 12-year-old young women are learning about money management, customer service, hard work, planning, and innovation at a young age and I could not be prouder of them!!
I also managed to sneak myself a treat on Friday night. I had an hour to fill between finishing helping with the market set up, and when I was to collect the children from their father’s house. I thought about ringing friends etc but decided to take myself into town for a meal on my own. We have an area here called ‘The Hamlet’ which is where the gourmet food vans park, and various funky shops are tucked away. I went to the Mr Papa van – Peruvian Street Food. Oh my goodness.
The burger made with slow cooked pork belly, sweet potato, and a very tasty sauce and salsa combo is heavenly! I then followed it up with a little trip to the Frugii Dessert Laboratory where the ice-cream alchemist creates beautiful ice-creams, and desserts! (The owners are also delightful people!)
I had the choux pastry with hazelnut cream, and blood orange syrup. And even better – I had time to sit and enjoy and just have time to myself. Talk about bliss!
A custom order set for a baby overseas
After all this inspiration my plan was to sew, design, and create all week. Hmmmm…… the best laid plans! Between routine medical appointments, school meetings, housework, and general family commitments, I have managed only a very small amount of sewing.
An ipad case, coin purse and key fob for a birthday girl in Melbourne.
The good news though is that I have created some new pattern templates, which is speeding up my process a lot. (Instead of measuring and cutting each piece I am now using a template to cut each piece – such a simple thing but one I just hadn’t done!!) I also finally made a key ring fob – something on my ‘to do’ list for a long time. I like it! Maybe I should make some more….. where is that ‘to-do’ list again?
Wandering on the farm is a delightful pastime
The dam is the source of much entertainment – and home to some venomous snakes!
I love the skies out here!
I did spend time with my boy down at our dam finding rocks, sticks and long grasses to try and create ‘survival tools’ like spears and knives. We haven’t been particularly successful yet but we have had a lot of fun trying!
And I indulged in some fabric shopping – with no particular project in mind! It is just so lush! The new range from Skinny la Minx, via Hawthorne Threads. Drool.
Now to decide what to do with it! Choices, choices, choices!
I hope that you have been able to find time for yourself in your week too.
We are settling in well here on the farm. We have grown our chicken flock by 4 with the addition of some Araucuna hens – and they lay green eggs!
The Dr Seuss references abound as you can imagine! One of the hens has been named Sam-I-Am, while another is Yertle the Turtle. Then we divert into random chicken names like Fiona and Big Bertha. Dad continues to work on perfecting their coop and run and we all love just watching them as they scurry around negotiating their larger group. The ‘pecking order’ is alive and well!
With time has also come room to start sewing again. What a joy! I am taking it slowly, and focussing on building up stocks in the Shop Handmade, and filling some gaps in their stock, so have expanded my range of baby goods a bit, and am not back to bag making just yet.
New products for my range – Reversible baby blankets – flannel one side and cotton the other!
A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel – this one was hard to put in the shop!
Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.
I am also working on some concepts of re-branding. The break away from blogging and sewing has given me time to reflect on where I want to take this little adventure I call my business, so stand by for a bit more movement over the next few months! Now that I have a studio set up it is easier to think about moving forward again.
My sewing studio. Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint – well the decor generally – but the space is awesome!!
I have been focussing on my own health a bit more over the last couple of months. For the first time in my living memory I have lost weight, and kept it off, and passed that magic weight point that has alluded me for over 20 years. You know that point where you diet, get down to a certain weight, but just can’t get below that, even though you have plenty of excess ‘body’ that could go? I actually beat it! Even better, I am feeling healthy and energised. I did it using a product system that my sister is selling – I was extremely sceptical at first but have been converted. Now to get the exercise happening a bit more regularly (my never-ending battle!)
What else have I been up to? A quick trip to Queensland to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. It was a great weekend full of colour, laughs, great music and shared stories. The interesting thing is that these are people I met a couple of years ago, by chance, at a Bluesfest. We just clicked, and have become fast friends ever since. The people I met at their house and the party were all just like them – warm, generous of spirit and amusing. One of the guests said that ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and this is so true when I think of this family!
Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!
With more headspace, and time to start designing again comes a return to fabric buying, researching, and coming up with ideas. Look out – the grey matter is ticking away coming up with all sorts of ideas here! I am even contemplating making something for myself. I know! Wonders will never cease! But in the meantime here is an awesome free printable for pop-up hot air balloons that I found on the wonderful site Design is Yay, by the delightful Wita. (That is my favourite sort of researching – finding cool things to share!!)
Our weather is just starting to turn cool, so I am even contemplating crochet again. That change of seasons is always enough to kick me into gear! I have been happily pinning ideas on Pinterest (so addictive but such a good way to capture ideas for later!)
I hope that your week is going well and that you have awesome plans for your weekend!
This year has flown by! I swear that as I get older, time speeds up and the year seems to have only just settled into it’s routine when it finishes!
My absence from the blog has been longer than usual. Sometimes life gets so busy that something has to give – in this case it was my blog, and my business. Not forever, just for a short time while other things work themselves out.
The big news is that as I am writing this I am taking a break from packing up my house. I know! You turn your back for one minute and all of a sudden I am moving house! And that is part of the reason for the blog break – a whirlwind of decision making, house preparation, house hunting, etc has been occurring over the last few months. With my significant drop in income this year, and some complications that saw me have my children live with me almost full time (no complaints here) my finances took a dive and it was time to say good bye to the ‘executive style house’ in the ‘good suburb’ and look at different options for my chicks and I. Fast forward a few weeks and my parents (who live overseas) were visiting, and helping prepare my house for sale. One thing lead to another and now they are moving to Australia (again) and coming to live with the chicks and I on a new property that we have bought together. Again – I know! Huge changes!
The new property is about 20 minutes from where we live now, and is in the country. Yep – we are going to be ‘farmers’. Well, not really – it is only 20 acres and the land around here isn’t particularly fertile, so we won’t be primary producers, but will have lots of room for animals as pets, room to run, ride (bikes), play, etc. There are two houses on the property so my parents will have one, and the chicks and I the other. The ‘big house’ as we are calling it is truly big – I have choices about which room I will use as my sewing studio, and the chicks will all have space for desks in their rooms. The chicks will attend the same schools as they would have if we had not moved, but will catch the bus a bit more (it goes past our driveway).
A sneak peek of the front garden at the new house
2015 is looking very exciting as a result. With my parents in residence I will be able to work more, earn more, develop my business more, and still continue to support my chicks. The possibilities are endless!
Wrapping up this year and all that has happened would result in a blog post of thousands of words. 2014 has been eventful, to say the least. A few brief highlights instead then:
The Human Brochure that I am part of is definitely a highlight. I have met some wonderful people, seen amazing things, and been exposed to parts of my town that I didn’t know about.
Finishing up my career as a public servant was momentous, but right. No longer being defined by my profession has been liberating, and I have enjoyed discovering more about myself and my strengths throughout the process.
Creating beautiful things continues to give me immense joy and my confidence grows on a daily basis.
My eldest chick has finished primary school and heads off to high school next year!
Selling my house has been emotional but is the right decision.
On the downside there have been some of the toughest times this year. My previously reasonably amicable relationship with my ex-husband is now gone, and I have had to make some really hard calls about what is good for my children. Adjusting my life to parenting a child with special needs has been a long process that has challenged me on every level. I have been exhausted for a large part of the year.
But overall, looking at the good, the bad and the very ugly, this year has had more highs than lows, and I am finishing on a good note.
To entertain your eyes, a brief selection of some of my recent sewing projects follows – custom orders, Christmas presents, and new ideas. I hope that this year is ending on a good note for you too, and that 2015 brings new adventures and excitement and love and laughter for you all.