Friday, 30 January 2015

Cute Little Zip Bag

I got the nicest text from my son the other day asking if it was alright to go on a really long bike ride in the forest! It certainly was alright and we braved the balmy 6 degrees to head off into the wilds of Norfolk with a biking picnic and some homemade Anzac biscuits.



The frost was making the best patterns on the car windows in the early morning.


The midwinter really looked bleak but I love the forest at any time of the year.

The crisp air is the best tonic in the world and the forest was at its beautiful best. The biscuits were good too.....



NEWSFLASH:Since I started to write this post, it has snowed! Now I have some real pictures for you! Happy days!





I will post the biscuit recipe in a week or two. They come out of my Nana's ancient recipe book and they are a bit of an Aussie tradition - the Anzacs being the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) in the first world war and these biscuits were allegedly sent to loved ones at war because they travelled and lasted well. Yum too and that is reason enough! 


Well back to sewing which is the reason that we are here today isn't it?! I have a small bag with a zip this time. It has patches too and a quilt-as-you-go feature and it is fully lined and  it has a trademark label! I won't bore you with the making of the label again- you can find my link here and read all about it in detail.
Here is a little preview of the bag....




I cannot say that I am always a fan of zippers! Maybe it is because I was put off as a child, always being told how difficult they are but actually they are not. I learned to sew on my Nana's old Singer and this machine was born before the zipper foot so that may have a lot to do with it!

Anyway, I am trying to be brave and carry on! So what will we need this time?
-small piece of natural linen
-small pieces of about four/five different fabrics which take your fancy
-fat quarter print fabric for the lining
-fat quarter thin wadding
-brown perle 8 cotton
-7.5 cm x 4 cm ecru cotton tape for the label
-stamp of your choice
-black ink suitable for fabric
-18cm zipper
-small amount of cotton lace
-your usual sewing needs.

Firstly, prepare your zipper. Cut two squares from your fabrics measuring 6cm x 7cm and sew them over the ends of your zip like this...



Topstitch too, it looks better and it will keep everything stronger. 



Next, cut two pieces of wadding to measure 22.5 cm x 19 cm. This is generous and will be trimmed back a bit later.

This project uses a quilt as you go method which means that these panels come together really quickly. I won't take up your time again with the whole technique. You can find it here if you need a refresher. Cut 10 strips form your fabrics measuring 5 cm x 11.5 cm. You will have two of each one, one for the front and one for the back.
Sew the strips to the wadding so that it looks like this...



Now cut two pieces of linen 22.5 cm x 8 cm and sew it to the top section of the panels.



Make a running stitch with perle cotton on the linen. This both forms a decorative bit and keeps the linen nicely in place.



Attach the lace just under the linen panel...



The label comes next! Make this with your chosen stamp and affix it to the front centre. You only need the one of these.



Cut two pieces of your chosen lining fabric 22.5 cm x 19 cm. By the way, when choosing your lining, remember that a lighter one makes it easier to see into the depths of the bag.

Swap to a zipper foot next and pin an outer and a lining piece with the zipper sandwiched in between.



Sew along the zipper and then repeat for the other side. You will now have something that looks like this...



The lining is underneath.
You can topstitch along the zipper on the linen to keep the lining neat too but stop about 3 cm from each end if you do this so that finishing the bag is possible.



Now pin the lining to the lining and the outer to the outer and, leaving a small gap in the lining for turning out later, sew all around. Be very careful to match up all seams, panels, edges and so on. 



Turn out through the gap in the lining and slip stitch the gap closed. Stuff the lining down into the bag and remove any loose cottons.
Here it is!



I still don't like putting in zippers and I don't ever see myself listing it as a hobby but it is not too painful and the result is a pretty  bag which is useful for holding so many things. 

Well I hope that you have enjoyed this! You can really dive into your scraps for this one and make very useful things for every aspect of your life. See you next time!

Love and hugs
Debbie xxx

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Pompom Snowball Flowers

Winter is still with us as I am sure you will already know and it is beautiful! We have so far missed out on any significant snow but we have had crisp and we have had cold so it is not too bad (boo-hoo). I am so inspired by the wonder of our country and by the everyday beauty all around me. 



As I mentioned, winter has been dramatic down our way with some pretty spectacular effects without the white stuff.



Blickling in Norfolk is looking fresh in the winter air and Sally is a bit boot faced. She HATES the great outdoors despite the nana knitted scarf. The cat had the right idea, stay inside and cuddle rat. Because THAT'S normal!  Beautiful sunrise though sending sailors and shepherds into a tail spin and my ferns are battling on under a cover of silver frost tracery.

Okay, enough whining and dropping hints about NOT ENOUGH SNOW! Let's get down and do some crafting.
I have been looking at a pile of twigs in my back garden (as you do!). Don't want to garden yet in this icy air and staying inside by the fire beckons. Pity to waste the sticks though says the small crafting voice hidden in my brain. 

You can do many things with a twig (or a pom pom) but this time, I want something to put into a vase - enter pompom snowball flowers!



I make pom poms from time to time but I am always fazed by the thought of cutting cardboard disks and I hear that the shop bought makers can be a bit hit and miss. About ten years ago whilst I was still living in Australia there were some forays into methods of making pom poms a few at a time. This is the ideal answer. Like many things that I have done over my crafting life, I have done this and then gone onto something else and forgotten about it. Time to revisit I think!

My method is using wood, nails and dental floss to make pom poms....trust me there is a method to my madness!

Many of the tutes online feature furniture legs or even your own but I had another idea a while ago and got Husband Rob to hammer a couple of huge nails into a piece of wood about 30cm long. This has made a pretty tricky jig which works perfectly. He has hammered the nails all the way through because otherwise, the broader heads may make removing the wool difficult. Behold  the beastie....um.....masterpiece....



This is so simple to make and cheap too. Careful with children obviously because of the nails sticking up.

But like all other craft ideas, there is is more than one way to do things....introducing the lovely Anne from Flax and Twine who has a slightly different way to my method. Anne's is on a larger, more robust piece of furniture but it has the same result.

With the wood jig method, you can make pom poms in different sizes with different sized nails and of course, different sized wool. The longer the wood block, the longer the shank of wool and the more pom poms but there is a limit because it becomes ungainly and hard to manage. Stick to around 30cm and it is easier.

So then, let's get on with it shall we! What will you need for this project?
You need some wool in cream or white and a bit of steely blue too, some dental floss and a hot glue gun. Oh, and the twigs that you found outside!

To make the pom poms, take the first bit of wool and start winding it around the nails like this...



When you have a fair bit (the more wool, the fatter the pom pom), cut the wool off and secure the end. Don't wind the wool too tight to begin with, the tension will ratchet up plenty when you tie the bunches off.

Now take some dental floss. What! Well dental floss is tough. It can take a lot of tension and it is really good for sewing on doll and teddy arms too. Lasts forever and is utterly fabulous when you have to tie something tight.

Cut pieces of floss which are long enough to tie at intervals around the wool shank....




Tie them about 6 cm apart and really make them really secure. The tighter you tie, the less likely that the pom pom will come apart. You don't need to leave a tail for sewing on. Just leave about 4 cm and tie in a very secure knot. You can trim it later.
Now cut the pom poms off. Cut into the middle between the tied off sections like this....



If the wool is thicker, cut partway through and then go back and do the rest rather than cutting all at once which can cause the scissors to go a bit skew wiff. 



Keep going until you have your pom poms. You might need to give them a haircut and some actually look better a little raggedy.



One tip that I find can make a difference, roll the pom pom in your hand when you have finished. This makes it look fuller and a bit more even.



All is left now is to hot glue them to the sticks. Take a look at your stick and also the pom poms. Obviously, one goes on the end but sometimes sticks have sticky-out bits (sorry for the technical term) and a smaller pom pom can look good on these bits, like a bud.



Now find a perfect container for them and you're done! Here it is again...



This is a beautifully nordic type decoration which shows a whole new use for the classic pom pom. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by and thank you again to Anne for allowing me to post the link to her blog!


Debbie xxx

Friday, 23 January 2015

A HUGE Thank You!


What a wonderful way to greet a Friday! I had a message on my blog this morning from the lovely Jann at Newton Custom Interiors
telling me that I have been nominated for the ........





Thank you so much Jann! You made my Friday!

There are a few rules for accepting this award - don't worry, nothing too difficult!

*Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
*Say 7 things about yourself
*Nominate 15 others and then comment on their blog to let them know.

So. Here we go, seven things about me.......

1. I love physics. Not just a passing glance but a dyed-in-the-wool-sheldon-cooper-like-obsession about it. It rules my world and governs every single thought. I dream in formulae.

2. If I cannot read a book each day, I go stir crazy. I like to read textbooks mainly but every now and then a work of fiction takes hold and I cannot get away. 

3. I am learning to crochet after resisting for about 500 years. Naturally I am hooked on this too (pun intended). Physics and crochet - always seen together.

4. I love to cook and I cook everything from scratch #bliss!

5. My cocker spaniel Sally rules my life and I am happy to be under the paw. If I don't do something immediately, I get barked at.

6. My Nana taught me to sew on an old Singer sewing machine which was already over seventy years old when I was little. I have that same sewing machine today and it is my great love.

7. I cannot stop studying. I keep going back to uni and adding yet another qualification. Not sure how to stop actually. And I love exams. Just looking in the door and seeing all of the desks lined up and waiting is exciting....okay so I am mad. See point #1.

Confession time over! Thank you for reading peeps and now here is my list of blogs for nomination that I love and find inspirational! Each and every one worthy of winning and in no particular order....

Laura at Made Peachy

Lucy at Attic24

Jess at MessyJesse


Amy at Nana Company

Leanne at Leanne's House


  Anne at Flax and Twine

Ayumi at Pink Penguin

Jo at Two Owls


Juliette at Zuhause in Germany


Florence at Flossie Teacakes

Sharron at Annie's Place

Thanks for all the inspiration guys! I have left you a comment.

Debbie xxx

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Perfectly Pretty Jam Jar Covers

Well drat! I mean Happy New Year and that means that Christmas is over and I did not post as much as I had planned! Well never mind, here we are again and this time I have a really pretty upcycling project for you....



This one is easy and it is a bit of sewing, a bit of quilt-as-you-go and a bit of stitchery so something for everyone. Best of all, it is a stash buster so you can use up the little bits and pieces.



Bossyboots is all ready to go too - she is watching my every move!



Before we start though, I did have a very small competition last year and I promised to announce the winner in the next blog and this is it! 


Congratulations Jackie Trinder! 

Thank you for entering Jackie and thank you to everyone else too. It is only a small prize but I hope that you have fun with it! I will be in touch!

Now, back to business! January brings a bit of tidying and sorting at my house and this time, I have noticed how many jam jars I have collected so it seemed to be the right time to do something with them. Covers which then turns a jar into a small cannister seemed to be the idea and you can put anything into them that takes your fancy.

And here is what you will need....
a jam jar 
some thin wadding 
some plain backing
a small strip of natural linen
scraps of fabrics in one colour but several different patterns 
dark brown perle 5 cotton
some archival ink in jet black 
a piece of cotton tape (1 1/2 cm wide)
some fray stopper 
glue stick
some alphabet stamps. I have used a courier font.
Grab a water soluble marker too and your usual sewing needs.

The first thing to get past is that I don't know which jam jar you have so we will work with an idea which means that you can fit these to any size jar at all.

You will need your wadding first and also the jar and the water soluble marker. Measure the height of the jar from the bottom to the bottom of the lid. Mine measures 8cm. Now measure around the widest part of the jar and add a centimetre. Mine is 25cm + 1cm = 26cm. 




So I need a piece of wadding and a piece of plain backing fabric which measures 8cm x 26cm. The extra centimetre is the  the seam allowance.

Here is what it looks like so far...




And don't forget to be frugal! Wadding can easily be joined so don't throw away the scraps. Join with a zig-zag stitch and then trim to the size that you need. You will not see the wadding when we are finished. 
Here are a couple that  Frankenstein would be proud of! 



Next we need a bit of a theme per jar cover - well you don't really and they could be really scrappy but I am going with the theme for now. I have ticking in three colours so that will be my binding and also set the trend for the theme. Of course you don't have to bind with ticking. This is just what jumped out at me. For this tute, I will concentrate on blue. 

PLEASE NOTE: the amounts that I am giving here are for my jam jar sizes. You may need to add or subtract a square or two for yours. Don't worry though, it is very easy.

Go through your scraps and find lots of pretty offcuts in blue and cut out 8 squares which measure 4cm x 4cm. The one on the end may be a little shorter than the others.

Begin by laying square number one in the middle left hand side of the wadding like this...



Stitch square number one down the left hand side and then  lay square number two on top of it with the right sides together. Sew along the right hand side only...



Now open square number two out....



As you can see, the squares are being secured to the wadding in one step rather than patching and then quilting down. Keep going like this until all of the squares are secured and finish the last one with a seam down the right. Keep them even but don't worry too much about wonky tops and bottoms just yet. This is what we have now...



Now it is time to add the linen strips. Mine need to be 3cm wide and 26cm  long. To get the measurement, measure from the bottom of the squares to the bottom of the wadding and then add 1/2 cm. You can add more and then trim it back if you are nervous.

Lay the linen strip along the squares with the edge of the linen on the edge of the squares...



Sew along the top edge and then fold the linen over. I like to zig-zag along the outer edge to keep it neat and easier to bind later on.
Repeat for the other linen strip.



Sew a running stitch of perle cotton about 1/2 cm in from the edge on the top and bottom linen strips....



And finally (for this bit) a cannister is no good unless you know what it in it, soooo, we need a label. There is a label tute in the archives but here is a quick refresher. Firstly, decide what is going into the cannister. Is it tea, coffee, sugar, cat treats, mints? Or is it pins, bobbins, buttons or thread offcuts? 

When you have decided, cut a piece of cotton tape long enough to stamp the word and then treat the ends with fray stopper.
Next, take your stamp set and ink pad and stamp your word onto the label.
Mine is going to be used for tea so here is the label ready for sewing on....



Find the centre of the cover (and the label) and glue the label on with the glue stick to hold it while you sew (pins are too fiddly). Sew it on and it will look like this...


So far so good! Home stretch now. Carefully matching the seams and squares, stitching and so on, sew the back together with the right sides facing.




Do the same for the lining and then drop the lining into the outer circle with the wrong sides together. Pin or baste. Cut the binding next. It needs to be 3cm wide and as long as is needed to go around the cover on the top and the bottom. Bind the cover either by machine or by hand. It looks like this now....



That's about it really. You can make as many of these as you can think of things to put into them and they look really nice lined up on a shelf. Much better than throwing the jar away- or leaving them in a dark cupboard.
Here they are again....



Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope that you will find this pattern and tute helpful and fun!



Love and hugs

Debbie xxx