Christmas crafting

Argh, I can’t believe Christmas is on  Friday! I had so many Christmas sewing plans, for gifts and for me, but all but a few have been abandoned. Too much ambition, too little time (and definitely too little motivation this month). I figure I might as well write about a few of the things I’ve managed to complete, though one will have to be post Christmas.

  
First up are these simple pouches which I’ve made for my colleagues. I used the Zippered Pouch tutorial from True Bias, and I’m pretty chuffed with how they turned out! The fabric and lining all comes from my ‘big scraps’ bag, and the leather corners are from the scrap leather box at Made on Marion, along with the zips. 

  
I played around with fabric combinations for ages before finding ones that I liked! The two floral pouches have silky linings, while the polka dots and cats have cotton and the stripes have a linen lining. I must have forgotten to photograph the inside of the cat print bag (and now its wrapped up), but it just has a plain violet lining.

  
I did make a bit of a mistake with the zips (aside from the obvious error of putting the one in the cat pouch around the other way to all the others…wish I could say that its for a left handed person, or something clever, but I just didn’t notice until I lined them all up!) and bought 10″ ones when I couldn’t find 9″ ones as the tutorial calls for. I had already cut my fabric out, so I figured I could shorten the zips. Unfortunately, I forgot all about that plan until I was struggling to get one of the last ones in (the striped denim made turning the corners out a bit tricky), but they’ve turned out ok regardless. Some of the brown leather scraps were maybe a bit heavy too, but I flattened the seams with a mallet which helped (and was theraputic after a few rough days at work). 

They were fun to make, and pretty quick to put together! I did everything assembly line style until it came to inserting the zips, then I finished each pouch as I went so that I didn’t have to keep rethreading.

  

My other Christmassy craft was an ornament for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network Secret Santa ornament swap. I took inspiration from a Simplicity pattern which popped up on my instagram feed, and made a little stuffed gingerbread man.

  
I think he’s pretty cute! I was so excited to find those tiny red buttons. I drew out a template for my pieces, then cut out the felt and embroidered his face and stuck his eyes in, then glued the white bits on and sewed on his buttons and bow tie and holly. Then I blanket stitched the two halves together, stuffed him and added the ribbon loop. Easy! (All materials from Made on Marion again)

  
I also embroidered the year and WSBN on his bum, for posterity (there should be a posterior pun in there…)  

The last exciting thing I have to say is that on Saturday we adopted some kittens! They’re about 12 weeks old, and came from our local cat rescue. I’m completely smitten, they’re so tiny and fuzzy and sweet!

  

We’ve called them F.Scott (Scotty) and Zelda, and they’re keeping us very entertained and very busy. Both of them are currently sitting on my chest trying to eat the buttons off my shirt, hope I sewed them on well…

  (Zelda at the top, Scotty at the bottom)

I hope you all have a happy Christmas or festive holiday of your choice! I will be feeding ham and pavlova to 12 people, and trying to keep the kittens out of the cream…  

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August Roundup

Last day of winter! Yay! I’m sitting here typing this in brilliant sunshine, listening to one of our local Tui sing his wee heart out, and I’m feeling full of the joys of spring! (A tui is a NZ native bird, they have a very distinctive song. We’ve very lucky to have a number of them living in the trees in our neighbourhood!)
This month has been pretty busy, and I’ve only finished one garment for me! I did make two items for other people though, a Coppelia cardigan for my mum and a self drafted teeshirt for Monsieur.

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My button-back hemlock has had various outings this month, both over shirts and over tee shirts, so I’m very pleased with how that turned out! I’m also pretty pleased with my braided bead necklace, I like how it brightens up my outfits with mimimal fuss!

So, in short, this month has produced:
Two tops (Hemlock and self drafted tee)
One cardigan (Papercut Coppelia)
One accessory (braided beads necklace)

The self drafted tee shirt was the biggest challenge this month, it seriously had me stumped at various points. I’m pretty proud of how it worked out though, construction issues aside! The next one should be much more sturdy.

I have a big assignment due next Sunday, so my knitting has been looking very appealing this week. Funny how easy it is to find distractions when theres a deadline looming! I’ve nearly finished the bodice, then there will be the challenge of the sleeves…

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Seems a bit silly to be sitting in the sun knitting a pure wool cardigan, but Wellington is infinitely changeable, so you never know!

Rainy day bag

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A few weeks ago (possibly a few months, now that I think about it…)I found this awesome Orla Keely laminated cotton at the Fabric Store, and knew it was destined to become a tote bag! Then I got distracted by other projects, and it languished in the corner of my sewing room until last weekend. Its been really rainy for the past few weeks, and I decided that I was sick of my stuff getting wet through the calico bag I use to lug my stuff to and from work.

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The laminated cotton is quite stiff, and much thicker than what I’m used to sewing with, but my sewing machine battled on and managed pretty well! I thought the 60’s print on the fabric matched my 1960’s sewing machine beautifully as well, very important! After battling with the first seam, I put the table extension on the free arm, which really helped get the fabric through without rippling. I’ve never used the extension before, but maybe I should try it more often! I also used the longest stitch length, and sewed really slowly. Even then, the feed dogs would slip occasionally, and I’d get a run of very short stitches before I pushed the fabric through! This was worse when sewing the hem around the top, the slippery laminated surface of the fabric obviously provided less traction for the feed dogs.

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The pattern placement caused me some trouble, as I really wanted to match the pattern down the side seams! In the end I realised that it just wasn’t going to work, the bag would end up too big or too small if I based it on pattern placement alone! Instead I ended up with matched circles down the sides, which I really like. I also sewed across the bottom corners of the bag, perpendicular to the bottom seam, so that it could sit flat and so that I can cram more into it! I cut a rectangle of the left over fabric the same size as the base and superglued it over the bottom seam, to add some reinforcement (I really do pack my bags to the brim) and to make the bottom seamline water proof in case I put it down in a puddle or something stupid.

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I also used some of the scraps to make myself a cover for my snapper card (Wellington central bus travel card, like an Oyster card but much less useful as it doesn’t work on the trains. I really don’t know why its called a Snapper)
My beloved ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ cover, bought in London two years ago, finally gave up and died! I just cut two rectangles and sewed them together using a reverse french seam (wrong sides together, sew, trim seam right back, flip inside out, sew again). Folding it inside out was a right mission!

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And one last picture, for scale…

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I’m pretty proud of my first bag, even if it was a really simple one! I’m glad its waterproof, and it’ll be a good beach bag when summer comes around. I’m feeling better about sewing my lovely leather now that I’ve tried this, as the laminated cotton is much stiffer and thicker than that!

Tiny shiny pretty things

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This weeks make is just a small one, as I am trying desperately not to be distracted from writing my final report of the trimester! Its not going so well, and tomorrow I have to go back to the dentist to continue with the root extraction extravaganza, so I’m betting that that last thing I’ll want to do is carry on with writing tomorrow!

I haven’t made any jewellery for a while, so I thought that would be a quick and satisfying job! I’ve been admiring the delicate chain and bead bracelets that keep popping up on Pinterest, especially these ones…

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I knew I could make something similar, it would just be a case of finding the right beads and some super fine chain. That was the hard part! I just couldn’t find what I was looking for in the local bead shop, or in any of the craft stores around town. Then last week I walked past one of those cheap jewellery stores that always have a sale on, and decided that I would just repurpose some of the components from some cheap costume jewellery!

This is what I started with

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The two necklaces were ones I chose because I liked the pendants and the chains they were on. The small ring is meant to be a ‘midi ring’, worn between the first and second knuckles of your finger (I don’t really get that look, and it was a bit big for my finger anyway). I also threw in some extra chain and the eye pins I had left over from another project, as well as some random beads I had. The first thing I did was break down the jewellery into useful parts.

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And this is what I ended up with! You can get quite a lot of useful bits out of cheap jewellery…

I spent quite a long time playing around with different combinations, until I found a look that I liked. I put the heart onto an eye pin and joined it in the middle of a length of chain, rather than just leaving it strung on the chain, as I knew it would annoy me if it kept slipping around to the underside of my wrist! This way it always stays centred. I did the same for the purple faceted bead. For the ring, I looped two short lengths of chain around it, and attached a clasp to each end. (Probably easier to see in the photo than to picture from that description…)

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My first hint of trouble came when I tried on the ring and chain bracelet. It was the right length, but trying to do up the parrot clasp was super fiddly with one hand. Its probably something I should have thought about when I was getting started! In the end, I got some nifty magnetic clasps from the bead store in town on my way home from work the next day. These are really cool, and much easier to use than the parrot clasps, but when I put one on the end of each bracelet they all stuck to each other and made a god awful tangle on the underside of my wrist! Again, in hindsight thats a pretty obvious flaw in my plan…

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In the end, I decided I liked the look of these three bracelets together, its just a bit less chaotic than having the five I had originally planned on. To get rid of the birds nest effect, I attatched all three to the same magnetic clasp, which has the added benefit of making it easier to get on and off.

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They don’t really look like the bracelets which originally inspired me, but I like them anyway! I like simple, delicate jewellery, and I feel like these fit nicely in with the other pieces I wear routinely. And I have enough pieces left over to make some more, if I decide that I do occasionally want the more layered effect 🙂