Wednesday 31 August 2011

Art Work on Bags & a Cushion...

When my children attended pre school many years ago, they were exposed to a wonderful art program. Amongst many other works of art they created, were some fabulous paintings on fabric. Two of these I made into a cushion over twenty five years ago. My two eldest children each created their art work with leaf printing and sewing. My daughter sewed the butterfly and my son the mushroom. This cushion is still in use over a quarter of century after it was made.

I recently found another two fabric paintings created by my kids whilst at pre school. These works of art were initially used as place mats, but had been carefully put in a cupboard for safe keeping. I wanted to put their art on show. This is what I came up with...

 ... a carry all tote, with gussets. My daughter created this art work. It depicts the whole family in front of our house. She's painted me in the red and yellow spotted dress. She is the one with the blue hair. Next in line is Mr TMW, her father. The two smallest are her little brothers. If you look closely, you can see two of the flowers are outlined with sewing.

I've designed the bag so it folds up easily. Inside I sewed a large pocket. Unfortunately, I sewed it upside down and didn't realise until the bag was finished. I didn't fancy unpicking, so I've left it as is; an upside down pocket, which of course doesn't work, but I'm the only one that knows that.

... and a second carry all tote. I've just washed it and it really needs an iron. My eldest son painted this. The original was twice the size. I cut it in half. One half is the pocket you can see on the front; right side up. The second half was used to make a pocket inside the bag and the tab to close the bag. It's a nice strong bag because of the fabric used, but it still folds easily.

I just love to be able to see and use my kids' art work, instead of having it safely stored away. I'll take more photos with nicely ironed bags.

Monday 29 August 2011

Zippered Pouch

I used this great tutorial by Toni, from Make It Perfect, to make the cute little zippered pouch pictured, for my Mum. Instead of wadding, I used a medium weight interfacing and I added the wrist strap. It was a very quick and easy project. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Mum uses the purse a lot.

I also made Mum a carry all tote bag, for shopping or visiting. It is fully lined, but has no interfacing or stiffening, as I wanted it to be able to be folded easily into a small size. There's two large pockets; one on the outside and one inside. The bag is quite roomy, as there's a gusset at the sides and bottom. This is not a good photo, but here it is anyway.

I've made quite a few pouches now, all smaller than the original. They have so many uses: makeup purse, small first aid kit, pencil case, storage for little items in a handbag and for the littlies they store all manner of things.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Quick Birthday Gift Tag...

Here's a little gift tag I've made to match a present I'll be making on the weekend. I got the idea from Stampin' & Craftin' (Stampin' & Craftin' blog is no longer available).

  1. Cut four pieces of material into squares with pinking shears.
  2. Cut out a square of thin green cardboard with pinking shears.
  3. Sew the squares onto the cardboard by machine.

It's quick, easy and I think it will look good tied to the Art Caddy I'll be sewing. I'll show you the card attached to the Art Caddy when it's finished.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Finished Bag...

I had planned on doing lots of sewing today, but it was a lovely sunny day, so I spent most of the day in the garden. We still have seven days till Winter is officially over, but I think Spring has come early.

Before I went outside, I finished the bag I started in my piping tutorial.

Since sewing this bag, I've purchased a piping foot for my machine. It makes piping so much easier, so it was well worth the money.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Treasure Bag...

This little treasure bag is quick to sew and can be made from scraps of material.  It is not lined, so I have used French seams to keep it tidy.

Monday 22 August 2011

Doll Stroller Liner...

I have since written a more comprehensive Doll Stroller Liner tutorial.

I'm not a big fan of plastic toys, however, a cheap little plastic stroller has been a big hit with the little ones in our family. It cost about $10 (Aus) and has been money well spent. The frame, although plastic, seems quite durable. The fabric lining was not so strong and needed to be replaced.


I unpicked the old liner and used it as the pattern to cut the new fabric. I drew on the old material to indicate where I would need to attach the straps and sew the seams.

The original liner was just two pieces of material sewn together, with binding around the outside. To make it stronger this time, I decided to line the material. This simply meant cutting two of each piece and adding an extra bit to attach the liner to the stroller underneath the seat.

D rings reused...

Pink, pink and more pink...
Lining for strength & looks neater...

        And now for a test run with the toys...

Sunday 21 August 2011

A Place for Everything...

When our children left home, Mr TMW and I each took over one of the kid's bedrooms as our own rooms for hobbies. Originally, I only put one desk in my room and consequently had my sewing machine set up in the dining room, with all of my sewing gear stored in my room. This set up worked quite well, but I wanted everything in the same room.

So off to Ikea and I bought a second desk for my sewing machine. The two existing EXPEDIT bookcases were rearranged and moved to appear as one. Funnily enough, this has actually made the room look larger. 

Ikea now have drawer inserts to fit into the EXPEDIT bookcases. I purchased four of these to house some of my fabric stash. The rest I'm happy to have on show. I also bought two fabric covered boxes which fit the bookcase perfectly. These slide in and out very easily. I'm thrilled with how it all fits together. I can store my fabric, photo albums and sewing books exactly where I want them. Inside the two cane baskets are all the genealogy info we have for both of our families. Again, all within easy reach. 

I already had one filing cabinet underneath my existing desk, but bought another for underneath the new sewing desk. It's perfect for storing cottons, scissors and things that I want at my finger tips as I sew, as I can reach it without moving from my chair as I sew. 

The last purchase was an inexpensive shoe organiser from Big W. It hangs behind the door and is perfect for storing small items such as zippers, ribbon, ric rac and piping cord.

I'm not a tidy person by any means, but I do like to be organised and this means everything needs to have its own place.

All in all, I'm very happy with my little make over.

Saturday 20 August 2011

New Fabric...

I love receiving material in the post!!! It's like getting a present, except it's not my birthday. Yesterday my parcel of gorgeous fabric from Saffron Craig arrived. I only put the order in a couple of days ago; super fast delivery.

Magical Lands... not a good photo, as I've used the flash

I'm not sure what I'll make with Magical Lands yet; probably a dress, but it would look great as a bag or maybe cushions.

Dandelions pink... I LOVE this
Dandelions pink is my favourite of the three. It will make a cute little dress.

Owls Nesting...
The Nesting Owls fabric is going to make a fabulous canvas for my sewing room. I wasn't sure whether or not to order this from the picture online, but I am SO pleased I did. The fabric is even better in real life.

Tuesday 16 August 2011


Gardening has always been a passion of mine. As other hobbies have come and gone, or been put on the back burner, gardening has always remained something I want to do as often as I can.

At the moment, sewing and gardening are competing for the majority of my time. I tend to look at the weather forecast each night to help me decide on the next day's activities. As today promised glorious winter weather, I decided last night that gardening would consume most of my time today.

Despite the sun and warmth calling me outside today, I didn't leave my sewing machine for long. As with all my hobbies, once I am engrossed in something, I tend to lose track of time.

My favourite colour is and always has been, blue. I have been sewing today with the gorgeous combination of blues and yellows. By itself, yellow is not a colour I particularly like. Combine yellow with blue, however, and yellow moves up my favourites list. Together, the two colours make a great floral pattern. I was keen to see how the floral fabric combined with a contrasting royal blue and light blue check. I've almost finished and am suitably pleased with the results.

It's dark now and too late to garden. Looks like I won't be gardening tomorrow either, as the forecast is for rain.

While having a break from sewing, I went for a walk around my garden. There was enough lavender on the bushes to enable me to pick a large bunch of flowers. The many bees on each lavender bush didn't seem to notice whether the flowers were on the bush or in my hands. I've left plenty of flowers for both the bees and for me to admire as I stroll through my garden.

I'm hoping to dry the bunch of lavender, so I can make lavender sachets. There's a great tutorial, by Cali at Make It Do on Diary of a Quilter, which involves very little sewing. In fact, there's only two seams to sew. The top of the bag doesn't even have a hem. I would never have thought of not hemming the top, but the finished sachets really do look good.

I've put my lavender in a vase with no water, which is probably not the best way to dry it, but it does look good on a shelf in my sewing room. If this doesn't work, next time I'll tie and hang. Now I need to wait several weeks for the lavender to dry.

Monday 15 August 2011

Piping: How I do it...

Piping can make a big difference to the look of a finished sewing project.  I don't particularly enjoy sewing piping, but nor do I find it difficult. It's cheaper than buying store bought piping and I can choose exactly the colour I want to match or co-ordinate with what I'm sewing. Here's how I do it....

Step 1:

Cut a strip of material to encase the piping cord. Here I've used a size 3 cord and have cut the material 3 cm in width. 

Step 2:

Fold the casing in half. Mine's not exact as you can see, but this will be hidden in the seam. How you finish the end of the cord depends on the project you are doing. For this project, if I take the piping cord to the end of the casing, it will end up being too bulky, so I've started about 2.5cm from the end of the casing. To make sure the piping cord doesn't move, sew through the cord and casing.

Step 3:

I tack the casing (large stitches by hand) close to the cord. This is only roughly done. It's just to hold the cord in place and will be removed later.

Step 4:

 Pin the piping to the right side of one piece of material. Pinning the piping cord to one piece of material first allows me to place the piping so it aligns exactly to the edge of the seam. ie; The edge of the piping casing is in line with the edge of the seam. Replace the pins with a hand sewn tacking stitch.

Step 5:
With right sides facing, pin both pieces of material together. Carefully line up the edges of the material. Pin, tack by hand (large stitches) and remove the pins. The piping is sandwiched between the material.

Sometime I combine Steps 4 and 5:
- With right sides facing, pin the material about 3 or 4cms from the edge. This is basically just lining it up and making sure the material doesn't move as the piping is put in. Insert the piping between the two layers of material, pin, tack by hand (large stitches) and remove all pins.

Step 6:
I don't have a piping foot, so I use a zipper foot. It's easy with a zipper foot, but I believe it's even easier with a piping foot, so I'm going to invest in one. Attach the zipper or piping foot now. Stitch close to the piping cord. Remove the tacking. Finish your seam as you normally would and you're done.

Here's the finished seam complete with piping...

Ready to attach lining...
This is going to be a little drawstring bag for a child. I've used a blue material to pick up the blue colours in the main material. The piping is the same colour as the lining and handles on the bag.

The lining, handles and drawstring casing are done. It's just waiting on the drawstring to finish it. I'm going to use a blue as close to the piping colour as I can find.  I'll post a picture of the finished bag once it's finished.

Edited: You can see the finished bag here...

Friday 12 August 2011

An Old Project...

Many moons ago, as part of my teacher training, I enrolled in a woodworking course. With a lot of help, I managed to make two stools, two cupboards and two coffee tables. As I had just been married, these pieces of furniture were welcome additions to our new home. Over thirty years later, one stool and the two coffee tables are still in use. Sadly, the rungs on the second stool became loose after many years of wear and it was disposed of.

I learnt many new skills whilst making my furniture. We had a very patient teacher, who was for ever telling us to tie our long hair up, to prevent the woodworking machines from scalping us. Now-a-days we would, of course, have to wear hair nets. The stools were my first woodworking project.

After making the wooden frame of each stool, I glued foam onto the top of both seats. To cover the foam, I hand sewed the orange, vinyl covers. It was VERY hard to hand sew. I used a punch to put small holes in the vinyl before sewing. As you can see from the photos, the top edge of the cushion is finished with piping. This was simply a narrow strip of vinyl folded over piping cord and sewn between the top and side seams. This was the hardest part to sew as the needle had to go through four layers of quite thick vinyl.

I purposely chose orange as both orange and lime green were the popular colours of the seventies and I didn't like lime green. When we built our own house a couple of years later, we again chose orange, this time as the colour for our benchtops. Most would say orange is a very outdated colour now. We still have that orange kitchen. Who knows, it may become fashionable again.

That was the first piping I ever did and most probably the hardest I will ever do. When I look at the one remaining stool, I am amazed that the hand sewing has held together all these years, especially given the fact that the stool is now used as a step ladder. If I could hand sew my own piping into those vinyl cushions, I think I can machine sew piping into anything.

I'll show you my recent sewing projects with piping soon...

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Cupcake Dress...

I am so pleased I purchased Toni Coward's Make It Perfect book. Of the twenty one projects in the book, there are fifteen that I want to make. That makes it excellent value for money!!!

Cupcake Dress
I've finished the first of these fifteen projects; the Cupcake Dress. As Toni says in the introduction, this is one of the easiest dresses to make. Cut the bottom off a T-shirt, join three contrasting fabrics to make a skirt, gather, add a ribbon, attach to the T-shirt and the dress is finished.

This is the first of many Cupcake Dresses I will be making. As well as looking great, each dress only requires a small amount of each fabric.

The instructions are detailed and easy to understand. Every step needed to finish the garment is included.

The hardest part of the outfit was the flower brooch that I added. (It's not part of the original pattern in the book.) I'm sure there's an easier way to construct it. This is how I did it:
- Draw a flower shape and trace onto paper.
- Cut two flowers from this pattern.
- With right sides together, sew the flowers together, leaving a small opening.
- Turn and slip stitch the opening.
Cabbage Patch Cupcake Dress
- Hand sew a circle in the middle.
- Gather.
- Attach button and sew onto dress.

I just had to make a matching dress and bag for the Cabbage Patch doll. Sorting through the old baby clothes to find a suitable T-shirt was fun. Instead of a flower, the Cabbage Patch dress has a heart. This time I used a Clover Yo Yo maker, which was so much easier!

Given the fact that Cabbage Patch has a matching bag, there will have to be a matching bag for the Cupcake Dress.

I can't decide whether to do the Champion Cargoes or the Sunny Day Shorts next. With Spring fast approaching, perhaps I'll make it the Sunny Day Shorts. Then again, the Picnic in the Park Capelet looks like it would be a lot of fun. I need more hours in the day.

... with matching knickers