Tag Archives: Sewing

The Aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catching up

I have realised that after all the hype about the boy’s birthday last week I didn’t report any of the details! It was a great success – he loved his quilt (and I promise that a photo will follow within a few days – I just need to remember to do it when he isn’t sleeping under it!) Mum ended up doing the quilting, and attaching the binding and then we both handstitched it down together. She used the girls’ very basic Singer sewing machine – no fancy feet, attachments or anything special and it all worked really well, so I have the confidence now to try one myself at some point in the future!

I also made the boy a hat from various Star Wars themed fabrics. It is reversible, so there is different fabric on the inside and he has had great joy in flipping it inside and out! I used this free pattern from April Cobb Designs and it worked really well. The pattern includes adult sizes, so I might have to work on a few more (you know – in all that spare time I have!).

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I have had a slow return to sewing this weekend. I started doing a few little bits and pieces on Saturday but was making lots of mistakes and was not feeling great. I then had an email from my ex-husband who has never had good timing, so decided on the spur of the moment that it was time to get out of the house, get some fresh air and look at beautiful things. Mum and I were out the door a few minutes later and off to the National Portrait Gallery where the 4th annual Undercurrent Design Market was being held. I knew about it as one of my fellow Etsy sellers, Kyoko from So Soap, had told me that she was having a stall there, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It was great! Full to the brim with beautiful, innovative and colourful design – jewellery, homewares, clothing, ceramics and more.  I got to talk to a number of stall holders whose products I have stalked online. I have to give a big piece of praise to Briana from Mrs Peterson Pottery who not only has just beautiful pieces (one of which is now hanging on my Christmas tree) but was so generous with her knowledge of all things to do with market stalls. I walked away full of ideas and inspiration! (And determined to buy one of her bangles one day soon too!)

Mum really enjoyed the markets and seeing all of these beautiful designer items. She bought beautiful ceramic pieces from Tania at Kittila who uses vintage hand crocheted doilies made by her family to imprint on the porcelain – just beautiful! Mum bought a candle holder to use on her prayer table and she and Tania had a beautiful conversation as a result. It added to the experience for both of us.

I was able to talk to Kyoko who makes the most beautiful body products – she is a qualified herbalist and the smells are just lovely! I also ran into another couple of people I know and talked to a number of stall holders about all sorts of things (where to get digital prints on fabric in Australia, colours, market stalls, etc!). It was a delightful outing and I arrived home tired but full of inspiration again. The results? Little pieces of sewing – because I need some smaller things for my market stall. I am still not producing anything at my normal rate, but have accepted that I can only do what I can do, and as a result am not putting too much pressure on myself. I have been making little coin purses that can have a key-ring attached – and made sure I got some ‘boy’ ones in there, and some zip up pouches that can be pencil cases, make-up bags, charger cord organisers – anything you want really! It is a good way to build back up to constructing larger things – and they are cute!

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However the best bit of creativity that has happened this weekend was after the chicks returned from their trip to Victoria. As it is the first day of Advent and December – ta-da! The tree is up, and the Nativity is in place (before it is rearranged multiple times a day by children.) This little tree was purchased for our first Christmas after the eldest chick was born – and until this year the chicks have resisted any efforts to replace it with a larger one. Of course every year we add new ornaments – so it is getting quite full. Each ornament has a story – and the chicks have amazing memories for the stories.  The middle chick’s favourite ornament is a little wooden angel that I have owned for at least 25 years.  She searches for it every year to hand it beside the glitzy, the handmade, the artisan and the pre-school produced.

Mum and I tried to redistribute them a little bit but gave up so the decorating is well and truly as the chicks wanted it. They have agreed that we might need to think about a bigger tree next year…….

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Thank you to all who have reached out to offer words of support over the last few days. I am following all the advice of the professionals and am on the road to recovery. Lots of sleep, good food, exercise (the dog is in seventh heaven) and listening to music – with the occasional browse of a crafty website – is great medicine.

I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of the festive season. A friend of mine who has some health issues noted that this year she couldn’t do all the extra stuff (cooking, presents, parties, etc) and that Christmas had been stripped back to the most important focus – family. She and I agreed that this will be a great Christmas as a result. Keep it simple and remember what is important. Feel free to take our advice!!

All sorts of developments

This week seems to be flying past quite quickly, yet at the same time a lot is happening. I am still off work so have been trying to focus on resting and recharging so that I can return to work on Monday. Of course this would not be possible without the support of my delightful mother. Part of recharging involves remembering to focus on just one thing at a time, especially while the chicks are at school. Would you like to hazard a guess what I chose as my one thing????

As a result a few new bags have been produced, and the cross body bag featured in my recent tutorial has been produced in all sorts of different styles and fabrics.
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I also discovered a lovely piece of burnt orange linen in a pile of fabrics I had been given, which inspired a new style of bag that I am enjoying playing with. Canvas and linen makes such a lovely combination!

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I had a mild panic on Monday, wondering if I am completely mad to think that I can have a stall at the Christmas markets, whether I will have enough stock, etc, etc, etc. Instead of making a rash decision to quit, I decided to lay out all my stock to see what I had. And guess what? I have quite a bit! It also helped to see that the things I am passionate about, and that hang together best as a collection, are my bags. All the other ideas – pencil rolls, pillowcases, t-shirt, etc, are fun, but I don’t have the same passion for them. Which was the first of several lightbulb moments I have had this week. I also addressed my dilemma of stockpiling rather than selling – I will stockpile until the markets then list the remaining stock online for sale. And I will take custom orders in the meantime too. Phew!

This also prompted me to get organised and accept that if I want to take this whole making and selling thing seriously, I need to act seriously. So I now have registered business, and a registered business name!! Oh my! I have also had the next light bulb moment in where I want to take this all next year, so stand by for announcements, developments, etc after Christmas when I will be completing my business plan.

Then, to celebrate all of this in style, I received my copy of the latest issue of *bespoke* magazine which includes a feature on handmade holiday escapes – and features overnight bag, in the lovely fabric by Sally Roydhouse, aka Peppermint Patty from Spoonflower!

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I have also realised that I need to draw a distinction between sewing for sale, and sewing for family and friends.  That way I don’t miss out on the fun stuff like making quilts or clothes, that doesn’t have anything to do with making money!  On that note I am off to make the boy a sun hat with Star Wars fabric as it is his birthday on Saturday.

I hope that your week is going well, and that you are having your own light bulb moments!

Friday finds – a list of Eco-friendly Christmas gifts, gift wrap, and decorations to make

Your calendar is not wrong. Today is not Friday. However….my submission to the Handmade Holiday series on Sew Mama Sew – Eco-friendly Gifts– is on their site today, so I thought it would be useful to have a complementary list to celebrate this event!

Looking after the environment, reducing waste, re-purposing and re-cycling, being aware of our eco-system and, as my boy says, looking after nature, are all things that are important in this nest. In fact, for most of my friends and family, these things are automatic these days, and form part of our everyday life. We have a water-tank, raise chickens, compost, grow vegies (with variable success), recycle, etc. Being able to make gifts that incorporate these principles is great – both from an ethical point of view, but also from a budgetary one! In my search for eco-friendly gift ideas for my submission to Sew Mama Sew I found wonderful ideas. Not all of them could be published on their site, so today I provide you with the supplementary list of ideas – and hopefully some inspiration for other ways of making eco-friendly gifts, decorations and having a cleaner, greener Christmas!

Lacy at Every Day is a New Day has a tutorial for making Resuable-washable paper towel. I love this concept. One step past having a pile of cloths to use for spills – making a roll that is convenient to ‘tear off’ and use instead of paper towel is a great gift for the eco-friendly domestic goddess in your life!

Vicky Meyers has a blog full of wonderful ideas about how to make recycled bags, however it was the idea of a Recycled denim Foot Muff that caught my attention. A great gift for the hipster in your life!

Of course denim can be used to make many wonderful re-purposed gifts. This denim bag from Art Bar is another great idea.

Another denim idea is this one from Planet Forward – The Green MacGyver Eco Friendly Crafts Blue Jean Notebook

On the same site there is also a tutorial for Recycled T-shirt Bracelets – a great way to upcycle old t-shirts.

Another up-cycling idea comes from Creative Jewish Mom – Crochet with Sheets.

Fabrics from favourite clothes, or sheets can also be re-purposed into pillow covers. The Creative Place has a great tutorial for making a Repurposed Clothes College Pillow.

The tutorial from Happy Hour Projects – Resuable lined snack baggies is a great present for children and parents alike. It shows you how to use plastic shopping bags to make a plastic liner for a snack bag, so it is doubly eco in my books – reducing plastic bag waste in landfill, and providing an alternative to using more plastic bags and wrap! Gifting it with some homemade treats inside would be a great eco-gift!!

Similar principles are used for the Recycled plastic bag placement by Inhabitat. Although it was designed as a Father’s Day gift it would adapt well to the Christmas season too!

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Another way of using up plastic shopping bags is to re-purpose them into ‘plarn’ – plastic yarn – and then crochet something new from them! At Sustainable Baby Steps there is a great tutorial on how to do this!

7 Easy Steps to Make Yarn from Plastic Bags

The number of tutorials for re-using old woollen jumpers (sweaters) is large. Here is one with a bit of a difference – just great for an eco-baby – Felt Block Rattle – My Poppet

On the same site there is a great tutorial for making your own Dress Up Girl.

 

Excess CD’s can be used to make very pretty coasters, using this tutorial from Crafts by Amanda

Stenciled CD/DVD Coasters - CraftsbyAmanda.com

Another upcycle idea is to use Scrabble Tiles to make fridge magnets. This tutorial by Adventurous Every Day – Upcycled Scrabble Tile Magnets shows you how.

Other gift ideas that are eco-friendly, are a bit like the non-paper paper towel at the top of this list. Making things that replace disposable objects is always good for the environment. One of my favourite things to make for use around the home is crocheted dish cloths. I use bamboo yarn as it is super absorbant. When you have used a cloth for the day, its just goes in the wash and comes up fresh again. One of my wise friends has 7 in 7 different colours – one for each day of the week. A gift like that would be a beautiful thing to make for an eco-conscious friend or family member. I have used this tutorial from Bubblegirl – dishcloth pattern with great success but there are a plethora of patterns out there to use (maybe I will put my collection into another list one day!).

In addition to the market bag tutorial linked on my Sew Mama Sew post, there are, of course, a list of tutorials for market bags here on this site that I prepared a few months ago! Where I live the shops charge you for providing a shopping bag, so we carry our own fabric bags instead. It has reduced landfill and makes us all think twice about using plastic bags. They make great presents!

When it comes to wrapping gifts, the possibilities for being eco-friendly are endless! I was reminded recently of different ways of wrapping presents that I had employed for gifts about 20 years ago. The fact that one of the recipients still remembered and treasured the effort I had gone to in making her gifts so special gave me great joy. Some of the ideas I used included brown paper with hand drawn and painted decorations, calico fabric parcels tied with string, handpainted or stamped paper, etc. If I had access to these links back then, who knows what else I would have done!

How to make Newspaper Gift Bags – How About Orange

DIY Maven – Recycle Greeting Cards into Gift Pillows

Gathering Dust – Last minute Gift Tags

Decorella – Easy Eco Holiday Gift Wrapping Bag

Zakka Life – Eco Christmas Wrap

Eco Novice – DIY Resuable Gift Bags

As for making your ornaments – either for yourself, or as gifts, again there is a lot of inspiration out there.

Wayfaring Artist -Upcycled Christmas Ornament

Eco Empire – DIY Recyclable Paper Christmas Wreath

Recyclable Paper Christmas Wreath

Computers memory Christmas decorations – Recyclart

Computers Memory Recycled for Christmas in electronics diy  with ram Ornament Christmas

Michele Made Me – Heart house ornament

Needles and Wool – Recycled Card ornament

Recycled Lovelies – DIY Light Bulb Ornaments

Of course I am not the first one to think of such a list! So here are some links to other sites that have gathered together tutorials for making eco-friendly gifts, decorations and seasonal craft.

1800 Recycling – DIY Gift Guide for the Crafty and Financially Savvy Greenie

Ecouterre – 14 Eco Chic Gifts you can make yourself

Fave Crafts – Recycle Crafts

Everything Etsy – 101 Green Handmade Gift Tutorials

Mom Coloured Glasses – Eco Christmas fun

I hope that between all of these lists you are able to find some great ideas to have a cleaner, greener Christmas this year!

Being productive and colourful

There is a lot of activity in the nest this week. Having my mum here means that we are tackling those jobs that I never seem to get around to. She has de-cluttered my shelves in the family room, I have sorted my fabric stash, I have had tradesmen in to quote on repairs, things that were put in the hall to be put away, and ended up becoming permanent fixtures, have been put away, and lists have been made. The house feels lighter already.

I started to write that I have little to report on the sewing front. But when I looked at my photos, and my sewing table I realised that I have actually produced quite a bit in the last week! I have felt that I haven’t been able to sit and do any major sewing, but have managed little projects along the way. I decided that instead of beating myself up about not making things, I needed to have small goals. So I have been making little zipped pouches. I can do one in the evening before I go to bed. They are quick, they are cute, and I can feel that I have achieved something. I haven’t been listing them to sell, thinking that I would use them at my craft stall. Then a friend dropped around, saw them and bought 4! I guess that validates that they are going to be attractive to buyers!

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I also wanted to make a farewell present for Miss N. She has left us much earlier than expected, but was of help when she was here. She loves tea, and was travelling with an overfull suitcase, so I decided to make her a cushion cover, that will pack flat, and applique it with a tea-cup. I am quite happy with the end result! I think she liked it too.

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A friend dropped by for a cup of tea (I am a bit partial to tea myself) and asked if I could make a superhero cape for her nephew. So that was ticked off the list next.

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Amongst the menagerie that lives at my house we have a budgie called Frill. Frill belongs to the artist-in-residence and has been living in her bedroom for the last year. He makes a dreadful mess – seeds being flicked all over the place, and she is not the best cleaner-upper you have met. With the arrival of Nana, we decided to move Frill out of the bedroom, to reduce the mess in there. A quick internet search found us a very reasonable price for a stand to hang his cage from, so we can now easily move it around the house. Which meant that the seed scattering had potential to spread all over the house. The solution? A fabric ‘skirt’ of sorts for his cage. While I will tweak the design before making another one, it is doing the job quite well!

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I also had a lovely experience in selling another piece to a buyer in the USA. One of my bicycle cushions is winging it’s way to Washington DC.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been joking that with two sales to the US I must be a household name by now! One of my friends saw my post on facebook about it, and promptly bought another one of the bike cushions for her husband’s bike shop! I might have to make some more!

With all the ups and downs in our household the chicks have been suffering a bit. The artist-in-residence needed a day at home with her mum to rest and collect herself. She sat and did some drawing and created such a lovely piece that she and I decided we needed to make some fabric from it. That inspired her further, so she did another drawing for fabric. We have ordered samples of each of the pieces to check for colours etc, and once they are proofed, she will be able to list them for sale on Spoonflower! She is very excited, and I am very proud!

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Of course, through all of this, and various appointments that needed to be attended, I am trying to make my Christmas lists. Things to make for sale, things to make for gifts, things that I want to make. The lists are long! Until I have time to publish them with links, I highly recommend looking at the lists of Handmade Holiday ideas that Sew Mama Sew are publishing each day. My list of eco-friendly gift ideas will be featured on 10 November. There were a number of ideas that I had collected that didn’t make the post, and some ideas that I have found since then, so I will do a follow-up post here with some further ideas for eco-friendly gifts to make!

I hope that your week has been productive and colourful!

Tutorial – A cross body bag

Despite my intentions to prepare and post tutorials throughout the year, it has taken me quite a few months to actually sit down and write one up. I decided that if I was going to prepare one, it had to be for a bag that I like to make, and that I hadn’t already seen a tutorial for. So here we have my design for a cross body bag.  I love the versatility of these bags – great for slinging across your body when you are travelling, walking, shopping, or for having over your shoulder when you are feeling a bit more dressed up and business like!  The options for mixing and matching fabrics are endless – you can bling it up, or use recycled jeans, patchwork it, or have classy linen in muted tones.  As usual, the only limits are your imagination!

The qualifiers that I feel compelled to include up front include that the photos were taken at night with dodgy lighting, and then in the day with great natural light, so they aren’t terribly consistent in their quality.  Also, I made a couple of mistakes along the way – so I share those with you, and how I fixed them up.  The lesson – don’t copy me – learn from my trial and error!!  The pattern includes instructions for an outer pocket and an inner pocket – but of course I didn’t follow these instructions in making the bag in the photos, so the outer pocket photo is from a different bag, and the inner pocket is different dimensions….but you will get the drift – I promise!

Final dimensions – 9″ wide, 9″ long and 2″ deep.

Materials (in each case slightly more than you will need)
1/4 yard outer cotton
1/4 yard of inner cotton
1/4 yard fusible fleece (I like Vilene H604 as it is thicker and gives better body)
A magnetic snap (14mm or 18mm)
1 1/2 inch tri-glide strap adjustor and matching rectangle ring
Strong interfacing – 2 pieces approx. 2″ square (support for the magnetic snap)

Cutting pieces
Outer cotton
Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″
Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
Adjustable Strap – 2 x (1) 2″ x 10 1/2 plus 2 x (2) 2″ x 44″ (Width of fabric). (2 pieces – your choice whether you make it all from the outer fabric or a side from the inner)
Pocket – 5″ x 10″

Inner cotton
Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″
Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
Pocket – 2 x 8″ x 5″  (In these photos I used the outer fabric for the inner pocket – it provides a nice contrast, and highlights the process at the same time!)

Fleece (designed to be a bit smaller than the fabric to allow for tidy seams)
Body – rectangle 10 ” x 20 1/2″
Flap – rectangle 10 ” x 8″
Adjustable Strap 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2 plus 1 1/2″ x 44″

Notes on fabric
It is up to you whether you use all the same fabric for the inner and outer, or whether you mix it up and use the lining fabric for the outside pocket and the outer fabric for the inner pocket, whether you have a combination of fabrics on the strap, or just one. This one pattern can look very different through using very different fabrics. It is also a great pattern for embellishing with applique on the flap. I have made it using drill cotton, and quilting cotton. Using the fusible fleece gives it body and form, even when it is lightweight fabric.

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If you want to make a standard strap, without the adjustable slides, then just use the 44″ width, without the shorter piece. The magnetic snap is optional – but I find it useful to be able to close the bag for a bit of added security.

In this pattern the orange Chinoiserie (by Anna Griffin) is the outer, and the green millefiori (by Kaffe Fassett) is in the inner.

Instructions
1. Fuse the interface (the 2″ x2″ pieces) to the outer body piece, and the inner flap piece.  This interfacing is for providing support to the magnetic snap.

For the outer body piece, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, so that it covers the point 7″ from the top of the piece (the top is the 10 1/2′ width), and half way across. (I usually just fold it length wise to find the middle, then put the piece of interfacing across the half way mark. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the inner flap, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, 9″ from the top of the flap (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!), and half way across.  (The flap is 8 1/2″ wide and 10 1/2″ long). When determining which is the ‘top’ of the flap, consider the direction of any pattern – the snap will be at the bottom of the flap, so at the bottom of any directional print.

2. Fuse fleece to wrong side of outer fabric – body of the bag, the flap, and the strap. The fleece will cover the piece of interfacing that you have attached to the wrong side of the outer body.

3. Sew the strap. Place the wrong sides of the two short pieces together, and sew down either side with a 1/4″ seam.

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Turn inside out. Press the strap flat, with the seams flat, and top-stitch along both sides approximately 3/8″ from the edge. If you want to, you can stitch another row parallel to this, about the same distance in.  I usually turn the strap by attaching a safety pin and feeding it through the inside of the tube.  It can be a bit tight, but is manageable.
Repeat with the long strap pieces.

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4. To assemble the strap, fold the short piece in half, with the fabric that you want on the outer facing out. Slide the rectangle ring along the strap to the fold mark,

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then sew the ring in place securely, about 1/2″ away from the ring. (I normally use the edge of the presser foot as the guide.)

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Take the long piece of the strap, and fold it over the middle bar of the tri-glide buckle, and sew it down, tucking the raw end of the strap under to make it neat.  I normally sew a bit of reinforcing at this point.

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Then take the other end of the long strap, and slide it through the d-ring on the short piece, then back through the tri-glide buckle, going over the fabric attached to it.

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You now have your strap in one piece. If my pictures and description aren’t great then this tutorial by Nicole M Design is very helpful!

5.  The next step is to make your pockets.  For the outer pocket, fold the piece in half with the right sides together, so that you now have a 5″ square.  Sew along three sides, leaving a gap of about 3″ on one side, with a 1/4″ seam.  (The pocket in the photos is not the same dimensions, but the technique is the same.)

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Snip the corners carefully, then turn it inside out and press the seams flat.  Top stitch along the top of the pocket about 3/8″ from the edge.  (With a second line parallel to give it a nice finish if you wish.)

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This pocket will be attached to the rear of the bag, so you will be measuring from the opposite end that you measured for the interfacing.  I normally fold the pocket in half, and fold the body piece in half, so that I can line up the middle of the bag with the middle of the pocket.  Then measure 2 ” from the top of the bag, and, with the middle’s lined up, pin the pocket to the right side of the fabric.  Stitch along the side, across the bottom and back up the other side, making sure that you catch the seam that has been left open for the turning.  I normally try for about 3/8″ topstitching here too – and reinforce the tops of the pocket with a bit of extra stitching.  (I do love the reverse button on my machine for this!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t put a pocket on the bag I was making for the tutorial – but here is a photo of one I prepared earlier!

6. For the inner pocket the process if similar.  Put the two pieces together with the right sides together, and stich around all four sides, again leaving a gap for turning it out the right way.  Carefully clip the corners without cutting the stitches, then turn it out, and iron the seams flat.  Top stich along the top of the pocket and then attach it to the inner body of the bag.  Again I like to match the middle by folding the pocket and the bag and then lining them up, 2 1/2″ from the top of the inner piece.

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Stitch down the side, along the bottom and up the other side, again reinforcing the stitching at the beginning of the stitching and the end.  Then stich a line from the bottom of the pocket to the top at the mid point mark, reinforcing the stitching at the top and bottom.  This then gives you two 4″ pockets which are the right size for slipping a phone into, or keys, etc.  (In this bag my piece was smaller than 8″ wide, because I was trying to use up pieces that I had already cut, so the pockets are 4″ and 3″.)

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7. Assemble the flap.  If you want to embellish your flap, this is the time.  Some ideas are to use a solid fabric that contrasts or compliments your main fabric, or to use the same fabric as your main fabric for the body of the flap, and then applique on to it.  Once this is done, then you will create the curve at the bottom of the flap.  To do this place the two flap pieces with their right sides together.  Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, and then mark a spot 2″ from the bottom outer corner up the side and 2″ along the bottom.  Using chalk draw a curve between these two points (there is no such thing as a wrong curve with an area this small), then cut it through the four layers of fabric.

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8.  Before you sew the flap together you need to insert your magnetic snap.  To do this, fold, or measure to determine the middle of the flap, and mark a spot 9″ from the top of the bag (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!)

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Then take the round flat piece of metal that comes with the snap, and centre the middle hole over your mark.  Mark the two long pieces with pencil or chalk, then cut those two long marks with a seam ripper, or a box-cutter with a sharp blade.  Then place the non-magnetic piece of the snap on the right side of the fabric and pass the two prongs through the two cuts.

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On the reverse side now place the metal guide over the prongs, and then bend the prongs down into the centre of the snap as flat as you can.

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9.  Then place your inner and outer flap pieces, right side together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4″ seam.  Don’t sew across the top of the flap.  Clip the edges of the curve, without clipping the seam, then turn it inside out, and iron it flat, making sure that the seams are properly pushed out.  (I have a lovely enamel blue chopstick that I use for this purpose – part of a sushi set my sister gave me years ago!).

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Then top stich around the edge about 3/8″ from the edge.  Again, you can do a second row parallel in order to give it a nice finish.

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10.  Next is putting together the bag inner.  Fold the inner body piece in half width wise, with the right sides together, so that you end up with a square of 10 1/2″ by 10 1/2″.  Sew up the two sides, using a 1/4″ seam.  If you have an overlocker (serger) this is a good time to use it to finish off the seams for some extra stability.

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11.  Then you are going to square off the base of the bag.  To do this, fold the side seam of the bag so that it lies on top of the fold across the bottom of the bag.  This will leave you with a triangle from the corner of the bag.

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(This is the outer bag in the photo – because I forgot to photograph the inner!)

Measure, pin and mark the point where this triangle is 2″ wide, with the 1″ mark falling on the side seam.  Repeat for the other corner.  Then sew across the mark.  Clip the corner off about 1/2″ from the seam.

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12.  Before assembling the outer body of the bag, you need to insert the other half of the magnetic snap.  Following the same procedure as you used for the flap, mark the spot 7″ from the top of the bag.  (If you like to have a bit more room to fill your bag a bit more, then you could move it up to 6 1/2″.)  This time you are cutting through the fused fleece, the interfacing, and the fabric, and inserting the magnetic half of the snap.

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13.  Then fold the outer body piece in half, right sides together, and sew up the two sides, with a 1/4″ seam.  Then square off the two bottom corners using the same method as the inner, and measuring 2″ wide.

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14.  Once this is done, turn the outer part of the bag so that the right side is facing out.  (Starting to take shape isn’t it?!)

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Now is the time to attach that strap, so take one end and pin it so that it sits long the outside of the side seam of the bag, and reaches just over the top of the bag’s top edge.  The right side of the strap should be facing the right side of the bag.  That means that the top of the tri-glide buckle will be facing in towards the bag.

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Sew across the top of the strap about 3/8″ from the edge to secure it to the bag.  Then, making sure that the strap isn’t twisted, sew the other side of the strap to the other side of the bag.

15.  Next up is the flap.  Line it up so that the top of the flap sits next to the top of the bag, with the right sides facing each other.  The flap should fill the gap between the two straps, and should be sitting on the opposite side of the bag to the side with the snap, and over the external pocket if you added one.  Pin it in place then stitch along the edge of the point where they join, about 3/8″ from the edge.  (This is to hold it in place and then you will stitch over it again a couple more times.  The main thing here is to remember that the next seam needs to be wider than whatever you have used here, so that your initial holding stitch doesn’t show.)

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16.  Now comes the magical part where the bits come together and turn into something greater than the whole of their parts!  (So poetic!)  Put the outer of the bag inside the inner bag, with the right sides together.  Tuck the flap and the straps inside in between the outer and inner so that they are flat at the top of the bag.  I like to have the inner pockets on the opposite side from the outer pocket, so the inner pockets go on the side away from the flap.

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17. Match up the side seams and pin along the edges, easing if you need to so that the two bags match up.  Then stitch along the edge of the top, using a seam between 1/4″ and 1/2″ – remembering that you need to cover the earlier stitching of the straps and the flap.  Start about two inches away from the middle on the front (the side where the magnetic snap is, and the flap isn’t) and sew all the way around, stopping about two inches from the middle on the front.  (In other words leaving a gap of about 4″ at the top to allow room to turn the bag out to the right sides.) Add some reinforcing stitching over the two straps, and the edges of the flap.

18.  Now turn the bag right side out by pulling it through the gap in the stitching.  You should end up with something like this below.

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19.  Now tuck the inner down inside the outer and iron the top so that the seam is flat and the gap is turned under ready for top stitching.  Next comes the top stitching.  As you will see, there are two options for this.  I started by sewing all the way around the top of the bag, making sure to catch the gap and close it, by sewing on the outside of the bag.

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20.  Unfortunately when I inspected my handiwork I discovered that this had happened to the inner lining.

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The top stitching over the flap was messy, had caught up the lining, and generally didn’t look very tidy.  So I unpicked it and re-stitched, this time sewing on the inside of the bag.

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And the finished product was much neater!

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A quick press with the iron and hey presto – you have a bag!

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I can’t wait to see what combinations you come up with to make your own bags – or bags as Christmas presents!  If you want to put a zipped pocket on the inside – or outside for that matter – then this tutorial from U-Handbag is a great guide on how to do it.  (And using a contrasting lining is always a nice touch!)

If you want to make the bag larger, it is just a matter of adding to the width, the length, and/or the depth (by making a wider triangle across the bottom corners).  To keep the flap covering the bag, you need to make the flap the width of the bag, less the depth of the bag.  In this case the width was 10 1/2″, and the depth was 2″,  so the flap needed to be 8 1/2″ wide.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and if I have missed anything along the way!  Happy sewing! If you want to use this pattern to make bags for selling, please credit me with the pattern by stating “Pattern by Theresa van Gessel of alittlebirdmademe.com.

Explosions and goo – a science party!

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

The explosions I hear you ask?

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

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

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

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Eruption number 2 (10 Mentos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be safe everyone.