Christmas sewing: boy’s beanbag

7 Jan

I made my sister a beanbag cover a couple of years ago, with a really simple “pattern” I made up (here). I wanted to make a more interesting-looking beanbag for my nephew, so I started trawling websites for cute kids’ duvet sets. I wanted to use two coordinating fabrics, and duvet covers with a different top and bottom are the easiest (and often cheapest) way to achieve that! I managed to find a cute lorries-and-diggers design in a toddlers’ size duvet, with a nice bright pattern on the back, which gave exactly the right amount of fabric for this pattern! :) :) :)

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It was very hard to photograph!

I used the tutorial from Reese Dixon which is great because it isn’t too strict on the size, or the curve, etc, which helped me to relax a bit if my cutting went astray!

The one problem I had with this is that I didn’t think in advance how the 30″ zip would fit into my approximately 40″ seam. I made the beanbag cover that you see above first, and the zip ends were a little messy, but for the inside bean bag (the one that holds the ‘beans’ safely so my nephew can’t “accidentally” pour them all over the floor / eat them) I used the same method as in this purse tutorial – simply adding a length of fabric to each end of the zip and trimming to make sure it fits perfectly.

I used 3 cubic feet of ‘beans’ – which I think was the perfect amount. It was a bit of a faff to create a cardboard funnel to pour them into the beanbag, but we managed to hoover the stray ones up before the dog got to them…

I also made my niece a hooded personalised (applique) towel, similarly to the one I made for my nephew a year ago (here), but clearly I didn’t take warning from that because I made it in lowercase letters AGAIN which was incredibly tricky! I didn’t actually get a photo of the whole thing, but here is a snippet:

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I didn’t actually get a photo of the whole front of it! As proof that I did ALL NINE LETTERS (!!!) here’s a mirror image of the inside too, which I’m not sure why I took! 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish my Christmas sewing, as well as the bag I blogged earlier, I had been planning to make a range of hand/neck warmers (using rice to be microwaveable) and turn the leftover half-towel from the applique towel above into a face cloth (using bias binding and appliqueing an “A” onto it) – but I managed to hurt my shoulder so even doing the above was quite painful! Maybe they can be random January presents instead.

Child’s drawstring backpack

22 Dec

I wanted to make my nephew a small backpack with some cute teal elephant fabric I got from Goldhawk road a few months ago – but obviously, at the time, I had no idea what I would use it for I just loved it so bought some!

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The photo on the left is closest to real colours – terrible winter light!

I used the tutorial from Hobbycraft’s blog, but make  sure you read it through carefully and slowly before you start – it is an easy process, but they have made it fairly confusing. I wanted to use the Hobbycraft one despite the many good ones out there because I REALLY wanted to use the eyelets. Here’s the changes I made:

  • I used 4mm drawstring (because then I could get it in grey, and it’s comfier too).
  • I used Prym’s 11mm silver eyelets as the 5.5m ended up too small to fit the drawstring.
  • I didn’t use the quantity of fabric they said to use. Instead I used 4 pieces of 14×12 inches to make this a little bit smaller.
  • As the bag was smaller, I only needed 2m of drawstring, which is great because that’s all I had received despite ordering 3m!

I then filled it with lots of chocolate coins – I don’t expect a 2y old to be particularly delighted by a bag so this is to make sure he still loves his Christmas present!

I still have two sewing Christmas presents to finish off – I hope yours are all going well! :)

A circular pot holder

18 Dec

I’ve been using a tea towel as a pot holder for months, so decided it was time to make a cute pot holder for the kitchen!

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I used the tutorial from Nancy Zieman, although I made a few changes:

  • I used normal insul-bright rather than quilted, so added a layer of white cotton fabric to the inside
  • I didn’t have the circle cutter, so just used a side plate which was about 8 inches
  • When I’d finished, I realised it’d be really useful to have a hanging loop, so I used an extra piece of binding (folded in half, sewn  up, then attached using a ridiculous amount of thread).

I had this cotton in my stash, from making my sister a purse a while back, so just had to buy cotton thread (as I normally keep synthetic but that might melt…) and the bright red binding – and waaay more insul-bright than I need so there might need to be more “insulated items” coming to use that up..!

This took me a lot longer to make than the tutorial suggested it would, but I hadn’t sewn in months and was using it as a “getting back into sewing before making Christmas presents” activity, so I am happy :) I have already cut out the fabrics to make another identical one!

A new laundry bag from curtains

27 Jan

My boyfriend and I have been taking the term ‘laundry pile’ quite literally since we moved in together a few months ago, and finally decided enough was enough. When in town we popped into the charity shop, looking for some fabric that might make a suitable laundry bag – something a little thicker than usual fabrics, with a nice pattern that isn’t too light. We found these curtains, a set of two 66×53″ for only £4.50! It’s a half cotton half polyester mix.

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I previously used a different tutorial for a lined drawstring bag, but that felt unnecessary for a laundry bag, so I wanted something a little simpler. I found the Great British Sewing Bee tutorial! It’s available on the Radio Times website. It shows you how to make the ribbon as well as the bag. It took me three evenings of an hour or two each, so probably about 4-5 hours in all – most could probably do it faster as I always seem to take much longer than the tutorials suggest! It didn’t help that the fabric had a slight stretch to it which made measuring and cutting it tricky! :S

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The finished bag! It looks brighter in real life but the camera on my phone is playing up.

I didn’t like the raw edges inside, as this fabric frays quite a lot and I don’t have pinking shears, so I used the zigzag stitch on a low length to hold the raw edges in instead of ironing them into opposite directions as the tutorial suggested. I first did this to the sections of the side seams where the hole is for the ribbon to pass through, so through one piece of fabric for the 4 inch gap, and then to hold the double layers of every other seam together, so through two pieces of fabric for all remaining raw seams. It’s much better now and I am really happy with it! I don’t think french seams would have worked as well as this did because of the holes for the ribbons.

I am really happy with it! And since it only used one of the two curtains, I might use the other curtain to make one for my sister, as she previously mentioned she was on the lookout for a new laundry bag. [Edit – I finally made my sister one, so that’s most of this fabric gone from my stash now, phew!]

This is the first time I have sewn using charity shop fabric (well, repurposed) and I wish I’d thought of it sooner – will definitely be going again. Maybe once I have used up some of my stash….

Hooded personalised towel / back after 12 months

4 Jan

I haven’t sewn much at all since my last post in November 2014. Other than small tasks (fixing curtains, hemming dress, etc.), I had only had one project in the 12 months since my last post, before this one. Christmas 2014 I made a purse for my sister out of some fabric I got on Goldhawk road. I used the tutorial from FortworthFabricStudio and I think it turned out nicely. It was part of her Christmas present  and she was delighted.

These photos were only just taken yesterday as I didn’t take any at the time – so excuse the PJs – I loved the contrasting red but think maybe I should have used half navy rather than using only patterned fabric, it’s a bit overwhelming!

ANYWAY – about the personalised hooded towel!

My sister-in-law asked if I would make my nephew a personalised towel for his 2015 Christmas present, and I jumped at the chance / motivation to sew again after so long. The last 12 months I’ve been pretty unwell and having to ration my energy, but I have been feeling better recently so figured it was about time to get my Singer back out!

I wanted to make it a bit more interesting than just a towel with his name on, so I was really happy when I found a tutorial from CrazyLittleProjects which sounded like it wouldn’t take too long. It needs a bath towel and a hand towel, and a LOT of thread (I used one and a half of the 100m Gutterman ones). Sewing the towel together was a little tough, even with a size 100 needle, and I discovered that the little lever that raises/drops the foot will raise the lever even more if you push and hold it up. Without that I would never have managed to get the doubled-over bits of the towel under the needle! It took a while and gave me sore shoulders, but I was pretty happy when it was done.

I had also never done applique, and have decided since that doing it with lowercase curvy letters was a terrible idea for my first time. Next time I might be able to work it, as I think I got the hang of this a bit as I went on, but in hindsight I should have used capitals only for this one! I used the great templates from Free Applique Patterns and traced them off my screen. I didn’t have any paper backed fusible webbing and so I just used hemming web to stick the fabric directly to the towel and it worked quite well I think – but it was a bit fiddly so I might have to add some paper-backed stuff to my collection for future.

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I decided to make the letters wonky so I wouldn’t drive myself mad making them straight! I am quite happy with the result and my boyfriend’s advice to use dark thread against the light-ish towel was a great suggestion.

I was quite happy with the finished result (although I forgot to get a photo of the full thing) and when he opened it he gave it a snuggle – even though he had no idea what it was other than a soft thing, that one snuggle made it worth it and reminded me of why I love sewing. So I definitely won’t be leaving it that long until my next project!

Back after two months: kindle case and eye mask

13 Dec

I’ve been missing since the end of Sew Selfless September – a combination of moving house (moving out of my parents’ and into a flatshare with a uni friend, halving my commute in the process) and being quite ill (mainly very very sleepy).

Anyway, I finally decided to get a little bit of practise in before I make my sister’s Christmas present, and made TWO things:

I made a Kindle Case using a tutorial from Whip Stitch – it is a really good tutorial and fits perfectly but make sure you read a couple of steps ahead to make sure you have understood, I made a few mistakes… I also had to do two lines of topstitching on the far left edge because my batting was VERY thick (about 1cm)

Kindle Case Inside

Kindle case!

I know that people who love books tend to feel it is important to love the feel of a book, and while I definitely won’t stop buying and reading paper books (I am reading one atm and have others on my Christmas list) it is so much more comfortable to read a kindle, it doesn’t matter if I finish a book when I am unable to buy one as I’ll have others stored, and I can look up definitions of words I don’t know without a huge interruption to reading as is needed if I consulted a dictionary while reading a paper book.

But I’ll never read a kindle in the bath.

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Then I decided that in my new flat the curtains don’t quite cover it enough, so I then also made an eye mask, this time loosely using the pattern from the red kitchen. I didn’t even realise that she had done a double row of topstitch, I did it because it looked a lot neater – and it was easier to first do the inside one and then do the one closer to the edge with the first line holding the fabric in place. Ta-da!

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I feel ready to attack some vintage fabric for my sister’s Christmas present… eek! :)

Liebster award – thank you!

26 Oct

The lovely Beth from After Dark Sewing nominated me for the Liebster award! It is essentially a chain email in blogs, and I really enjoyed reading her entry which is here. As I was halfway through this post with it sat in my drafts, I was told that I had actually received another nomination, from the brilliant Some Assembly Required’s Shawn here! I really enjoy reading both of these blogs and HUGELY recommend that you check them out :) I am also SO flattered that they have nominated me since I still think I am a complete beginner!)

(For the five blogs which I now nominate, please see the end of this post :) )

liebster award

Since I received two nominations I am going to answer all the questions in a row. Numbers with a B are Beth’s questions, and with an S are Shawns :)

B1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Would “being able to have half as much sleep and still function” count? Because I definitely would make loads of use of that.  If we’re talking real superpowers, I’d love to be able to read people’s minds on demand because it’d be helpful in real life and in work with clients, but being on demand means that you don’t have to listen to everyone’s inane thoughts all day.

S1. What is your favourite film quote?

Hmmmm this is really tough, even just choosing between different ‘genres’. I’ve chosen the one which made me think a lot when we were all being normal teenage girls being a bit more bitchy than is necessary. I think we all had those moments where someone said something mean and you got upset because you thought it was about you rather than it being about them not knowing how to deal with what was actually wrong, so while I’m not the sort of person to “call someone else fat to make me feel skinner”, it still helped me in some ways:

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you. (Cady, Mean Girls)

B2. Which movie would you watch over and over?

I have watched 27 dresses a million times, and would probably happily watch it many more! But as for non-guilty films, I’d go for The Life of Brian. It is one of the first films (after cartoons) that I remember loving it so much the first time and coming back to it. The spaceship at the start still surprises me every time!

S2. What was the first thing you made?

Apart from hemming a couple of skirts (and turning culottes into a skirt), which were botch jobs at uni, the first thing I made with my sewing machine was a floral coin purse. I just wanted to try out my new machine but  my mum asked if she could have it to keep her tissues in her bag in! I still remember how amazing that felt, that someone actually wanted something I had made with my own hands on my first attempt, and I got addicted!

B3. If you could be granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

Hmmm this is a tricky one! I think my wishes are a bit boring but here goes:
(1)  for more sewing space! I currently use a tiny writing desk and it isn’t really working out…
(2) to be able to magically get home instantaneously every night. commuting isn’t too boring with a book but sometimes I’d rather be at home sewing or in the bath or cooking!
(3) that when I move into my flat everything works and we don’t have any major bill nightmares.

S3. Which three words best describe you?

This is always an interesting question because really there’s two answers – the three we want, and the three our friends would say. If the two are pretty close you’re normally doing alright! However I haven’t asked my friends so I will have to go with

  • Organised – because I feel anxious if things aren’t planned and will always have a list or a spreadsheet and my filofax is the key to my life.
  • Chatty – I will talk to most people if they demonstrate a willingness, and will even strike up a conversation with someone I am alone at a busstop with because I would rather talk to the stranger than feel unsafe or awkward in their company. From the start of school to the current day in my office I have always talked too much (though I don’t get told off for it at work, thankfully!)
  • Stubborn – my boyfriend calls it principled but it is the same things really. Once I have made up my mind, which normally takes a very long time, I don’t change it! Probably because I am so indecisive I know how painful it’d be to try and come up with a new plan!

B4. Coffee or tea?

I’m very British and love my tea! Although with my response to (1) I admit that I do give in when there is a fresh pot of coffee in the work kitchen!

S4. How do you find inspiration for projects?

I read pretty much EVERY post which appears in the ‘sewing’ stream in my WordPress Reader, which often throws up some cool ideas which I then REALLY want to make and try to think who I could make it for. This has led to most of the things that I have made on this blog.

Alternatively whenever people are talking about buying things / I am thinking about buying things, I often think “I could make something” and it won’t always be cheaper but it will be fun and personal – this was the reasoning behind my recent laptop cover and the baby blanket.

Much to my surprise, people have begun ASKING me to do things. Hemming a dress here and there, mending a bag. I even made a draught excluder for my uncle’s house, in about 15 minutes upon request and the beanbag cover was a request too!

I am trying hard to get into Pinterest!

B5. What are your pet hates?

I cannot stand the sound/sight of chewing. That is definitely my main one! All my other ones are sound-related: sound of people cutting/picking at their nails, sound of tinny music from someone’s headphones on the train or a neighbour’s music/tv, snoring. Most unnecessary noises count really – I am probably happiest when sat in a corner with my headphones in and working away on my sewing machine blissfully unaware of everything else :)

S5. Do you have a favourite post from your archives?

I don’t actually have that many posts at all…. I think my favourite must be the His and hers passport covers one (not really his and hers, just male and female..) as I really enjoyed making them, thinking about how the different fabrics required different patterns, and the covers turning out quite nice! I plan to make them some matching luggage tags with the leftover fabric one day

B6. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?

Purple! I get most things in purple if I can… I would choose a nice deep purple

S6. If you could take up any new hobby what would it be?

If I could take up an OLD one I would choose jogging since I had to stop due to knee problems. As for new ones, I would probably go for cycling or knitting, which are both things which I hope to take up in the near future!

B7. What’s the story behind your blog name?

It’s a bit of a miserable answer but it has a happy ending I promise (!): When I graduated from university I spent about a year unemployed and recovering from an illness. I became depressed, seeing everyone else getting on with their jobs or further degrees while I didn’t produce anything except unsuccessful job applications. I started to do cross stitch and embroidery when I was taking time off from job applications (weekends), and found it immensely satisfying and it made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile even if it was just going to be stuffed in a drawer for eternity once finished. I decided it’d be a good idea to set aside some time every weekend to create something to keep the good feeling going, and Creative Saturdays happened! Since then I’ve found my dream job and bought a sewing machine, and sewing has remained as my hobby :)

S7. What is your favourite book

There’s a lot of contenders as I imagine there is with a lot of people, and I recently read The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared which I thought was brilliant.

My all-time favourite book, however, is How To Be Good by Nick Hornby (author of About A Boy) . It hasn’t received great reviews but I think, as with a lot of peoples’ favourite books, I read it at a time of life when it just really spoke to me – It is about a doctor struggling with what it is that makes us ‘good’, and how often can you do something before you have to admit that maybe you are “the sort” that does it as opposed to it being “not really like me at all, honest!” – There is a great quote in the first chapter that I can’t remember exactly but it was along those lines. I would obviously just look it up but I’ve lent it to a friend at the moment…

B8. Do you have any pets?

I have a lovely lurcher, who is the most energetic, loving, and scatty (and huge) dog. I also have a cat but she doesn’t spend much time in the house on account of aforementioned lurcher who doesn’t realise he is a bit too big to play! I am sad that when I move out of my parents’ house soon I probably won’t have my own dog for many years :(

S8. Describe your house

It is a terraced house in the suburbs of London, with three bedrooms and just me and my parents. I am moving out soon and so it will be just them! It is quiet apart from dogs barking (not mine!) and lots of buses, and children playing. My room is the ‘box room’ but I love it, it has ll old mismatched furniture which is definitely my kind of thing. We have a huge trampoline which even at the age of 23 I use a lot, and my dog LOVES to chase his tail while jumping on it (I must video that someday)

B9. Are you a lark or an night owl?

I am a bit of both – I wake up early and can stay up late, but I lag in the afternoon! So I have to force myself to sleep earlier to avoid the lag…

S9. What has been your favourite blogging moment?

When I posted my embroidered Mary Jane and got the nicest comments and recommendations – it was really early on, before I had my sewing machine, and people were just so lovely that I think it got me addicted to blogging.

B10. What was your favourite television programme as a child?

oooh this is a tough one! I think of them all I might have to choose Saved By The Bell, I remember being banned from watching the ‘Trouble’ TV channel because I watched it too much! This was back when the remote control had a ‘back’ button which showed which channel you’d watched last – so whenever I saw my dad’s car pulling up outside I would change the channel to ‘allowed’ ones twice so he couldn’t tell :D

S.10 Which celebrity would be top of your guest list for a dinner party?

The Queen – would hardly be raucous but would be a good evening without being able to discuss politics and an excuse to have amazing food and loads of courses. Heaven.

liebster award

And now to nominate some more blogs for the Award! I really enjoy these blogs so please do check them out :)

My five nominations are to:

Sewnhenge: Sewing such cute clothes for her kid, and lovely dresses for herself, I love seeing what she’s done :) Especially the purple ostrich dress (seriously, go find it)

I Fucking Made This: Such gorgeous makes (not just sewing, her baking is as envious as her sewing!) and I think my favourite thing about her blog might be her attitude towards it being pretty bloomin cool to be able to make things.

A Dress of My Own: Brilliant cheery colourful dresses! Her photo locations always make me jealous too

Vint Hill Vintage: Awesome swing for kids and mums again, and you HAVE to see the fish costume on her tutorials page!

Atelier Oursonne: mainly knitting but I love the scrap Sundays!

and the questions which I’ll pass on – you can do all 20 of the above if you like, but it took quite long and I don’t want to eat into your sewing time so here’s a condensed list I recommend :)

1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

2. What was the first thing you made?

3. If you could be granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

4. How do you find inspiration for projects?

5. What are your pet hates?

6. If you could take up any new hobby what would it be?

7. What’s the story behind your blog name?

8. Do you have any pets?

9. What has been your favourite blogging moment?

10 Which celebrity would be top of your guest list for a dinner party?