A May Birthday 

This month my lovely daughter turned 12. For one of her presents she asked me to make her a bag, which I was thrilled about. It’s a delicate age, it’s hard to know if she will love or hate things. She chose the Noodlehead sidekick tote and some lovely fabric….. It’s a bag I’ve made a couple of times before and again it came together really well. I used the neon pink text print inside and around the zip. The outside was a denim from my local fabric shop turned inside out for a more faded look. She’s really pleased with it and it’s been used for most of half term so far. 

     

  I also secretly finished off my half of the jelly roll jam quilt project we started together AGES ago! She finished hers last autum but my quilt top lay around until the self imposed deadline of her birthday got me motivated. She was thrilled to see it finished and even more thrilled to see it was going to be a gift for her.  Here it is in her room.
   Birthday season is over here until November. My youngest son has already put in a quilt request! 

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Modest March

Hello blog! Things have been a bit uninspiring on the sewing-front this month. I’ve been ploughing my way through making four more Roman blinds for our loft bedroom. I’m so happy that they are finished and very happy to see the back of the scuffy, broken ones that have hung there for the last seven years. It’s safe to say that blind making is out of my system now.  

 This was the first one to go up. I bought a double width stripe fabric. The extra width did make things much easier and it was much simpler than the linen I used last time.

The only other things to emerge from my sewing machine were a pincushion for my mum on Mother’s Day. There will be more of these! Here’s how to make them.

And a bit of scrappy tinkering to try and ignite my sew-jo. 

 It’s the easter holidays now and we are heading away for a few days, so April won’t start with much sewing either!  I do have a whole weekend of  stitching to look forward to at the end of the month with my lovely friends.

Super Tote #2

Last summer I tackled a bag pattern called the Super Tote by Anna at Noodle-head. Her bag patterns are fab and I’ve made most of them over the last 3 years of sewing.

I had a little trouble with my bag which I moaned about at the time. Despite it being a tricky make and me making a bit of a pigs ear of making it, I did use it all summer.

So as winter approached I threw it in the wash and unfortunately it went in with something very blue….which sadly ran into the lovely yellow of my bag – making it a kind of muddy grungy green colour. Very sad. I tried lots of colour run removal washes and in the end decided on some weak bleach to try and lift the colour out. This did help a bit but it just doesn’t look very good any more.

So…..time for another Super Tote I thought. My sew-jo has been flowing well over Christmas so just after new year I thought I’d give it a try.

The fabric I used was all from my stash. The main body is inside-out denim (left over from my Dad’s apron and my ovenglove-a-thon) with some lighter denim for the straps and zip bits. I cut into a very precious fat quarter of Kokka linen for the main pocket.

Here are some of the things I did differently this time: (skip this bit if you aren’t intending to sew one!)

* read the pattern properly! last time I didn’t realise I had to stitch the straps to the top of the bag outer, which meant it was all a funny shape and flopped over. In my defence it’s easy to miss this bit in the instructions.

*I chose the same fabric for the bag outer all the way up (and behind the straps) – last time I had 2 different fabrics, which meant when the bag was picked up you could see the different fabric poking out from behind the outer pocket.

*I did a front pocket with a facing piece rather than a fully lined pocket and I added piping this time, which I love the look of. For some inspiring piping see Mary’s Super Tote

*I added a zip pocket inside the front pocket (confused!?). I used the front pocket a lot for my phone last time but found the little slip pocket that I added was too high up and when I bent over my phone fell out! So this time it’s nice and secure and it’s a lovely text-print lining.

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*I added a zip pocket inside the main lining. Again I didn’t bother with the elasticated pockets as per the pattern, as I knew it would be very unlikely that I’d take the time to put things in the right places. As it’s a big bag I decided that one pocket would be useful for lip-balms and other small items to cut down on rummaging time.

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*when attaching the gusset I clipped the curve on both pieces of fabric – the gusset and main lining piece, this made it WAY easier to attach. Last time I just clipped the straight piece.

*I interfaced the main bag body and straps with fusible fleece. This was quite bulky to sew but gave a much better and more sturdy finish than the woven interfacing I used last time. Its a heavy bag and it needs a lot of structure to make the shape work.

So in conclusion – it’s worth having another go at a tricky pattern. I totally love and am very happy with this one. Here are some photos.

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Glove-tastic

As christmas as now happened I can reveal my makes for this year. Now that I’m working 2 days a week at my son’s school, I was modest in what I attempted. I decided on a job-lot of oven gloves – 7 pairs in total.

They are a great gift. Who doesn’t need a new pair of oven gloves?! I used this tutorial inspired by the ones that Mary made a while back.

I used canvas on the decorative sides and lined the hand pockets with some light weight denim. On the ‘hot’ sides I used more heavy weight denim. Inside is regular cotton batting and some insulbrite wadding which is especially heat resistant.

I started out thinking I’d hand finish the binding on the backs of the oven gloves but soon realised this was way too tough to sew by hand. So I had to unpick a few lots of binding to re-sew them from the back to the front (top stitching along the front of the binding to finish). Even though this was a pain it gave a nice neat edge and saved my poor fingers!

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The other make this Christmas was an apron for my Dad – which he requested. He lives in France for half the year and is chief barbecue-er. I was thrilled when he asked me to sew him something. No tutorial for this – I used denim and cut out a large apron shape using one I had as a template. I bound the edges and added a lined front pocket. I hope to get a pic of him wearing it!

There was also a bit of unplanned festive sewing in the form of a table runner. I had bought some christmas fabric in the January sales, which was a very welcome find in December. I used this tutorial and a fair amount of winging it. It’s been a great addition to our Christmas clobber.

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Pixels

Whilst away on my sewing weekend last month I made a cushion cover for my son’s 7th birthday. He’s a total minecraft addict, so I knew what I had to do! I browsed around on pinterest for some ideas, printed off a picture and set about gathering lots of sludgy greens and browns. (backstitch shop have a good selection of affordable solids).

The cushion ended up being a monster floor cushion as I didn’t want to be fiddling around with teeny squares – Mine were 2.5″.

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Getting a big enough inner cushion was a challenge but I found one on eBay.

Needless to say he was very happy with it and has spent many happy hours sitting on it in front of aforementioned game.

Now let’s hope he doesn’t go off minecraft any time soon.

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Across the Pond

I am just back from a wonderful week in Canada visiting two fabulous friends.  Naturally I took a few handmade gifts with me…

Firstly for Rachael and her daughter Amelie these Noodle head zip pouches – which I’ve made a few of in the past. They got filled with goodies from England (they moved to Canada 6 years ago). I couldn’t quite fit in the giant jar of Marmite I took for them.

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Next I went to stay with my Canadian friend Ellen. We’ve known each other for nearly 20 years. As its been 10 years since my last visit, I decided her 40th birthday was enough of an excuse for another trip.

For her birthday I made a paper pieced table runner. The inspiration for which came from a blog called Wombat Quilts. I love Cath’s quilts and she has tons of free patterns. I was quite glad I didn’t attempt a whole quilt – paper piecing is hard work.

Here are some photos I took before I left and one of it in situ on Ellen’s coffee table. Her husband Marc was very helpful and sent me photos of the living room and measurement of the coffee table. As you can see it fits and it looks great.

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Lastly I made some more zip pouches for  Ellen’s children Cohen and Ingrid, filled with some classic British sweets.

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It was a fabulous trip and I had so much fun with my lovely friends, I was spoilt rotten with lovely food, wine, coffee and trips out to do things and visit people – and it snowed!!!

It wouldn’t have been possible with out my husband at home holding the fort during half term, (whilst juggling work!) and my mum for helping out as well.

It’s good to get away and remember who you are and who you were before you became a wife and mother. Going away always gives me a fresh perspective on life and a new appreciation of home and family. I have remembered how boring it is to travel a long way on your own – give me some squabbling children any day!

Rachael and I. Ellen and I.

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September Sewing

I’ve never quite got in the swing of doing a monthly round up of sewing projects (some months there aren’t really many!) but I have a few things to share and it just so happens to be the end of the month, so here goes!

First up is this pencil roll, which I made for a 7th birthday party my youngest was going to. A very nice simple make – apart from all those pencil slots, which seemed to take an age. I took my measurements from here but added elastic and a button instead of the ribbon tie.

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My other finish is the result of a hand sewing project which I started last summer. It started off a as a quick grab of random scraps before heading off to a festival last August, then accompanied me on many trips away in various states of finished-ness all year.

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As the hexie fabric was a bit of a random selection I decided to make them in to a rainbow so create a more striking look.

I finally sewed on the last row of hexies this summer and made it into a cushion. I used some Essex linen which I bought from America (ironically!) ages ago. I used some to border my coffee table quilt.  I also managed to do my best concealed zip insertion yet – can you see it?

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I quilted all over of it with dark blue Aurifil thread – not sure if that was the right thing to do but at least it will keep my hexagon stitches from undoing!  I opted for piping round the edge, which I prefer to a quilt-type bound edge. I opted again for navy blue, which really frames the rainbow of the hexies.  I really love this bright addition to our muted living room (although its getting less and less muted the more I sew!) it’s a lovely bit squishy size and full of the memories of all the places spent sewing it.

Oh yes…pictures!

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Summer’s End

We’ve had a very busy but very fun summer. The last 6 weeks have gone in a flash, which is rather sad really. Here we are on the last day of our holiday in France.

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Our eldest starts high school today, it feels like a huge step towards teenage-hood. She requested a new pencil case earlier this week and rather than buy some plastic tat I asked if she wanted me to make one.

We decided on a boxy pouch with lots of space for a calculator and geometry set (I had to look up what that was because i couldn’t remember!). She chose some of this Road 51 bundle that I bought recently

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I decided to go the extra mile and make some quilt as you go panels for the body of the pouch. There is a great tutorial on QAYG here

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The boxy pouch was a surprisingly easy make. I used the tutorial from pink stitches blog.
A very pleasing make:

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And a happy excited daughter

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A commission

Just before I escape on my hols , I want to share my first ever paid for sewing project.

A friend wanted a storage bag for a mattress topper in her camper van. As soon as people know you can sew you get all kinds of requests. I was finally persuaded after a few glasses on wine on a night out.

I followed the same principle as my drawstring yoga mat bag, just a lot bigger and with a long oval bottom. My friend was thrilled with it, most importantly the mattress topper fits perfectly.

I used some ikea curtain off cuts (handily made use of the ready hemmed bits) the green is home decor fabric. I did lots of reinforced hems as this will be dealing with lots of weight and lots of use. Fingers crossed it’s up to the challenge.

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A Sewing Personal Best

I’ve been meaning to make a new beach bag since last summer and finally with the impending school break and a holiday booked, I got round to it.

Our old bag (shown below) was bought in a French supermarket many moons ago so definitely time for an upgrade.

I thought about buying a beach bag pattern I’d seen doing the rounds but with a long list of dressmaking patterns I’d like to buy, I decided I could manage without.

I used the old bag as my size guide and dug out this lovely ikea bird fabric, which is a nice home decor weight.

The handles were the ones from my Supertote which I made too short and I used Lisa Lam’s very nice clear zip pocket tutorial.

This was a super-fast make I think I started late morning and it was all done by school pick up (I’m not the speediest sewist!) and more amazing than anything I didn’t pick up my seam ripper once! That really is a first.

It’s huge with plenty of room for all our beach clobber. I’m looking forward to trying it out very soon as we are counting down the days until the end of term now!

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