Me and my old sewing machine.

Its been a while but I’m still here and I have been busy, honestly I have.  It looks like shortening trousers is going to be a regular alteration for my business as I’ve had a few to do, I’ve also altered another horse rug, lengthened a dress, made curtains and repaired a coat lining to name a few things.

It’s a good job I have a reliable old sewing machine.
I was given my sewing machine by an Aunt who only seemed to use it for repairing her husbands worn out work clothes, now and again and never had time to do anything else sewing wise, so on the understanding I carried out said repairs for her she gifted me the machine.  My aunt is no longer with us and I reminded my uncle of this arrangement recently, me and my big mouth apparently he has some things that cold do with mending!

My lovely old machine

My lovely old machine

 

I have had this machine for over 12 years now and it has been put to work on various projects in this time. Despite it being very basic i.e. straight stitch or zig-zag and the only ‘fancy stitch’ is a button-hole, it never lets me down.
Fine materials and several layers of denim even leather seem to be no challenge for my little old machine, which is a good thing now I have started sewing handbags.

Its latest challenge is this new bag made from an old pair of trousers lined with a shirt. This was a project for me to keep and use myself as I keep being told how can I promote the bags I make if I don’t use one myself……good point I now have a bag for everyday use!

My new up-cycled bag

My new up-cycled bag

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Pot holder

I wanted a quick project to do in between my alterations this week and decided that I also need stock for when I do my fairs.
I have seen some nice pot holders around and thought that looks easy and you can never have to many on hand, (says someone who regularly has burns on her hands from cooking).
So with hearts all around us in the run up to valentines here is my, not so romantic, heart pot holder.

I haven’t followed any tutorial just sort of worked it out from seeing some finished ones, so forgive me if you make them and do it properly, this is how I made mine. (any tips on doing better will be appreciated).

Firstly I cut out a template using the size of my hand as a guide. Looking at this picture I don’t think I have a career as a hand model!

measuring the size

measuring the size

Next I marked a line down and cut templates for the pockets.

Heart and pocket template

Heart and pocket template

I then found some material, in this case I used a black and white tea towel and a bit of black tea towel left over from one I turned into a hand bag.  But any material goes.

I cut out 2 heart shapes, 2 pockets in black and 2 pockets in the black and white remembering to reverse the pocket shape.  I then cut out a heart shape in wadding, I had some heat proof wadding but thought it felt a bit thin so also user some thicker wadding.

All the pieces

All the pieces

I pinned all the bits together the 2 pockets and the heart shape with the wadding in between, using some black bias binding I ironed in half lengthways I sewed the straight edge of each pocket making sure to sandwich all layers together with the binding.

Bias binding added

Bias binding added

Looking at the heart shape I decided to pin and sew around the edge to secure all layers before adding the binding and was glad I did as I tried to be careful and thought I had got all layers but there were bits where I sewed only some of the layers and at least this way I didn’t have to unpick the binding. I also put the pockets in place and secured them in with the other edges.

So once all layers were secure I again ironed the bias in half lengthways and stitched it over the edges all the way around the heart.

pockets added and bias stitched around

pockets added and bias stitched around

All done

All done

Looks like it will work fine!

Looks like it will work fine!

 

I think the next one I do I may only use one layer of wadding as it was a lot of layers to keep together and I may add a little hanging loop to it, I think it was a good effort for my first try though.

 

Cath

 

 

Make do and mend

This weekend I had a couple of hours of child free time, what to do with it, pamper myself, a bit of retail therapy, relax…no I thought as always I’ll catch up on some jobs.

My son has decided he wants to start football practice after school and with lots of notice I had the weekend to sort a new kit bag, he also needed some new track suit trousers, but as he is only 5 and will probably decide to try a different activity next term after a few weeks of training out in the cold, I didn’t want to rush out and buy new.

It being winter and very wet and muddy on the football field I decided he needed a bag that would hold up to muddy kit, his old school coat from last year (it was second-hand then) would be perfect there was just enough material for a drawstring bag.

An old coat far to small to wear

An old coat far to small to wear

I didn’t need the fleece lining or the padded layer but will save these for another project.

I cut out as much of the coat as I could, took the front zip out and sewed the front up then sewed the 3 sides together, turned the top over and hemmed it, added a drawstring and son now has a new waterproof bag complete with four pockets on the front.

A new waterproof kit bag

A new waterproof kit bag

Next he needed some kit, he has shorts and t-shirt but as its cold out there he needed trousers but as with all kids he has this habit of growing and most of his trousers are too short or have holes in the knees.  So instead of throwing away two pairs and buying a new pair I took my scissors and my sewing machine and extended their life for a little longer.

Two pairs of trousers now too short.

Two pairs of trousers now too short.

The blue pair was in better condition than the grey so I snipped them in half at the knee, took the knees out of the grey pair then simply stitched the grey knees into the blue trousers and a make do kit has been created.

Cut off at the knees!

Cut off at the knees!

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Two become one…long pair

 

My son came back from his friends and approved of both of his new items although he said he would have liked a picture of an alien on the bag! 5 year olds are very demanding and not everything is to his standards.

So I had a very productive child free time and a happy child too.

Back to doing some paid work now, I have curtains to make, 3 pairs of trousers to shorten and take in at the waist and a ball gown to lengthen so far this week.

 

Cath

 

End of 2013 starting 2014

Happy New Year to you all!

I had good intentions towards the end of 2013 I had been very organised in the run up to Christmas, I had been busy with Christmas makes for selling at craft fairs and a few clothing alterations for people but left myself just over a week to make some handmade gifts for family and friends.  That was until I got a quinsy on my tonsil, which effectively stopped any plans I had and resulted in an overnight stay at the local hospital, still I recovered by Christmas day and lost weight too, you have too look on the upside!

I didn’t get to the hand made gifts and had to do a quick dash to the shops but I had some nice craft items as presents,

box of craft goodies

box of craft goodies

Thank you to Aunty Christine, who also gave me a bag of scraps left over from her sewing projects.

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lots of lovely fabric

and a new sewing box with a few bits in from my sister.

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So now I have no excuses apart from finding time, I’m not sure where to start. I suffer from the same problem as many crafters, too many ideas and not enough time!

One things that keeps me away from my sewing machine is my friends dog.  When I got made redundant I volunteered to walk her (the dog that is not my friend) as the family are out at work all day and well I needed the exercise.  Another thing is my son and I don’t mind that either of them keep me from my work, well most of the time I don’t mind.  I started the new year off with them both on a walk in our local park.

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It had been full on rain here on new years day so when the sun came out on the 2nd we made the most of it

The river was full !

The river was full !

A view through the trees to the lake

A view through the trees to the lake

Jumping in muddy puddles

Jumping in muddy puddles

Yeah there's a park for my son

Yeah there’s a park for my son

Stepping logs

Stepping logs

Even some art here

Only a few more days until my boy is back at school and the decorations are packed away.  Then the plan is to start the day with a lovely walk in the park for me and my (borrowed) dog before getting on with some work.

2014 will hopefully see me build the alterations side of my business, so I don’t have to go out and get a proper job, there will be some more crafts and tutorials showing up on this blog (not just the reasons why I’ve not done any) and hopefully in the very near future I shall be announcing the opening of my Etsy shop.

Wishing you all you wish yourselves for 2014

Cath

Craft Fairs

As most crafters already know and I am learning, local craft fairs are a great way of letting people know what you do, there is nothing better than getting honest feedback direct from the people you hope to sell to.

Its ok to list on sales sites and find out what’s popular by waiting for sales but face to face you get so much more feedback and hopefully confirmation that your ideas and creations are of interest to people.

I am yet to decide if I should stick to a specific craft, such as my sewing or keep to the general idea that if its something I no longer need or use can I up-cycle it.  Some fairs I get no sales (boo hoo) other sales people love my bags and recently it was my paper crafts that won the day (see previous posts for some of my book projects), so maybe mixed crafts are the way to ensure some sales as I cannot as yet predict the public!

I am hoping that the clothing alterations I do will be my steady income, but while I’m building up that side of things I’m having fun creating things with the things I’ve got.

Here are some of the things I’ve been creating

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Off now to see what else I can create…

Cath

‘Relaxing’ break

I have just returned from a very nice weekend away with my sister and her family.  We headed a long 45 minute drive away to Centre Parcs to visit their Winter Wonderland. We have been going to Centre Parcs for the last few years as the kids love it, my little man is five and my sister has two girls age 8 and 11 so just the right age.

They go to town on the Christmas theme and so we have visited Santa in his woodland workshop, seen his reindeer’s, walked along through the Christmas lights and watched the fireworks over the lake where Santa took a tour in a boat.

Big Christmas tree

Big Christmas tree

There are animals everywhere

some very friendly animals

So we stayed in a comfy little villa in the woods, nowhere near as fancy as the treehouses they have, and nowhere near the cost of the fancy villas but suited us fine as we didn’t intend spending much time inside. However my son decided to be poorly sick on the Friday night although he found the energy to join in with most things after a lazy Saturday spent in the villa. Luckily I had taken a few craft bits knowing we wouldn’t be too late back at the villa in the evenings so had plenty to keep me occupied while he lounged on the sofa.

Our little villa in the woods

Our little villa in the woodsCentre Parcs 2013 157

As cars aren’t allowed in the village we got about on bike or by foot so plenty of exercise, together with the swimming, adventure golf and playgrounds we are all worn out.

The only problem with a weekend away though is that they are over too quickly…..so back home now with my feet up bags unpacked and ready to start another week.

This weeks jobs include making a draft excluder and a peg bag for a customer, finishing touches for a craft fair next weekend and I have to go to see my nieces horse as his blanket does not fit properly and I have been asked to alter it, can’t say I’ve ever given a horse a fitting before!

Santa’s workshop

Pretty lights

Pretty lights

love fireworks

love fireworks

Christmas Prep

I’ve not posted for a while but I have been busy, I’ve added some new bags to my stock and I’ve been busy with a few other Christmas crafts. I’ve had my first attempt at my own hand made Christmas cards. I also offered to make Santa’s magic keys for the school Christmas fair and volunteered to make a new Santa hat and coat for a Polar bear prize for school, it seemed an easy task but is proving anything but!The first bag was a clutch bag made from an unloved and never worn skirt I picked up at a boot sale, I just loved the pattern.

Unloved Skirt

Unloved Skirt

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Fab pattern

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New Clutch!

 

Then another clutch from some old jeans

Old jeans

Old jeans

 

And a handbag from a tea towel

Old tea towel

Old tea towel

 

Two versions of Santa’s Magic Keys, I have made these for the School Christmas fair but I’ve had to do them when my 5 year old wasn’t around, I’m not spoiling it for him yet.  I found all the keys in my fathers garage 22 in all, not sure how someone collects that many old keys but I’m glad he did.

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And lastly my first attempt at homemade cards, If your related to me look away now you may be getting one of these!

 

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Better get back too it lots more to do yet…..

happy Christmas crafting everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Half Term Holidays/Halloween

This week is not a good week for trying to launch a new business!

I’ve been given the go ahead to get assistance from being unemployed (albeit only for 2 months) to being self-employed.  The idea is, as I cannot seem to get anybody to employ me (this is hopefully due to the state of the job market and not a reflection on myself!) I shall work for myself and offer a clothes alteration/repair service and also sell my crafts.  To try and take advantage of the Christmas market I need to get a move on as most crafters have probably been busy since July, but, its half term here and I have my 5yr old to entertain, not the easiest of tasks.

As the UK are starting to catch up with the US we have been looking at things for Halloween.  When I was little, too long ago, I don’t remember pumpkins being in the shops or maybe as my Dad grew turnips they just fobbed me and my sister off with them and boy did they take some hollowing out. I do remember trick or treating and costumes but they were ones you make yourself.

Any how less of my deprived upbringing, my boy and I have made gingerbread biscuits bats, witches ghosts and pumpkins, artfully decorated by himself, the pumpkins turned into apples as we had no orange food colouring and we also made some in the shape of dinosaurs  his reasoning being that they were scary too.

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Next he wanted to make his jack-o-lantern. After I easily hollowed out his pumpkin, grown may I add by myself, well I planted the seeds and when they germinated passed them to my mum to plant in her garden so partly by me, he set to carving.

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Very good I think.

I then made pumpkin soup and a pumpkin cake and we took the cookies to grandma, granddad and his cousins.  That’s another day I haven’t got much done I shall try again tomorrow!

Other uses for old books

As I have a stack of old books and its coming up to Christmas I have been making decorations. The ideas I’ve found on Pinterest are inspiring, here are two of the easy ones. There are numerous posts on how to do these and some good YouTube videos if you find watching how its done easier.

Here is how I created a star and a Christmas tree…….

First cut a square from the book mine was 12cmx12cm

Then fold it into a square to mark the centre, unfold this then fold each corner to the centre, using the previous folds as a guide
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Fold in two of the sides to make it into a kite shape.
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Next turn it over and fold back the point, then fold in half, with the folded point on the outside.
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Now make a few more, it took 14 for this star.

When you have enough push the two points of one piece into the pockets (made when the triangle was folded back) on another piece. continue to do this gluing them in place as you go until you have enough to make the full circle, tucking the points of the first point into the pockets of the last
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That’s one made, I plan on making a few more in different sizes then hanging them together.

 

Next, the Christmas tree….

This time count 30 pages of the book and leaving the spine of the pages intact separate them from the book, you need to do this again with another 30 pages, as the tree is made in 2 pieces.  Keeping the pages intact at the spine means you need only glue the two spines together rather than all the individual pages.

So taking one set of pages fold down the top right corner to the spine and press fold down, fold that fold across to the spine and press down. This leaves a point at the bottom. I unfolded the page and folded this up to give a flat base to the tree.

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Continue folding all the pages one by one until you have a nice fan shape.  Do this with both pieces. you can leave the folded pages as they are or glue them down as you go.

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With hot glue gun at the ready, run glue up the spine and glue the two fans together.

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And there it is, one book page tree.  I think I may add a star to the top and may even add a green colour to the folds.

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Kusudama Flower Ball

This week I was given some books, a neighbour asked if I wanted some books he was throwing out so not being one to turn things down I said yes. Five large bags were waiting for me. The book stall at the local Autumn fair will now be benefitting, but was there anything else I could do with the ones that were not in good condition?…..

This is one thing I made, a Japanese kusudama flower ball it looked pretty,

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Here’s how I did it…

Start by cutting squares from the book pages. Mine were 12cm. Then fold them corner to corner to make a triangle.

Lots of squares

Lots of squares

One triangle

One triangle

With the fold at the bottom, fold the outer corner of the triangle up to the top point to make a square.
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Now open the flaps you just made and fold them half way back on themselves to make two kite shapes, press the sides down.
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Fold down the top triangle of the kite shape, in line with the edge of the square, then fold the rest of the kite shape in half making the shape look like a square again.
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simple so far…?

Now to make the pieces look like petals. You need to run a line of glue down the folded sides of the triangle and glue both folded sides together creating a cone, this may need to be held with a peg until the glue dries. The tip of the square becomes the petal and the folded pieces look like the stamen.

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Ok got that, good. Now just 59 more to go! The flowers have 5 petals, the ball has 12 flowers.

Once you have enough petals you need to glue five together to make the flower. I found it useful to press the glued edges of the petal together so they were flat and easier to push together, it was also easier to do one petal at a time than try to glue five at once.

Pretty!

Pretty!

One flower looks pretty on its own, but once you have glued all twelve and the glue has dried (again you may need to pin the petals together to hold them while they dry) it looks even better.

So with glue ready, start with 3 flowers and glue one petal to the back of another one and then add the third flower and glue this to the other two and build up from there.

and there we go, I’m sure now I’ve done one and got the hang of it the next one will be quicker.

Off to Pinterest now for more inspiration as to what else I can do with all those books.