Craft · Parenting

Matching beach bags

It’s sad I know but I’ve been so excited about making C and I matching things. I know it’s ridiculous but I also know that there will only be a small window of time where she will actually let me have a say in what she wears or has. And I plan on taking full advantage of that window of time. Earlier this week I made myself a beach bag from some beach fat quarters I had for ages and wanted to use up (if I use up fabrics from my stash that means that I can buy more fabrics right?) So after washing and ironing the fabrics the other week (always an essential part of sewing preparation) I started to come up with a basic patchwork design. I cut out 4 inch squares and pieced them together until I had something which I liked the look of and seemed the right kind of size (very technical) which ended up being 5 squares by 4 squares and then sewed them together. I then added wadding and a plain blue backing for each side and the sewed them together incorporating some simple cotton handles that I happened to have left over (goodness knows from where). 



Not very exciting I know but perfect for keeping in the caravan to take on holiday and take to the beach or for a walk in the town. It will wash as well which makes it perfect for a casual holiday bag. Now when I brought it into the house from the cabin for the requisit praise from the hubby, C saw it and immediately wanted one. I hadn’t planned on making her one but jumped at the chance to create another matching item. I tried to get her involved in the process (as much as you can with an almost three year old) and so once I had cut out the squares I got her to arrange them. She loved helping to “design” her bag. I went for a 3×3 design for hers and had to make straps out of fabric as I didn’t have anymore to hand. I’ve attached her straps to the inside rather than having them in the seam as I feel I may need to change them at some point, either totally or adjusting the length so it’s easier if they are accessible. And the result….


…she loves it! And I do as well, they are similar with the same fabric and process but different enough so that they’re not to twee. Hopefully. Or at least I think so. What does everyone else think about matching parents and children?

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Craft

Dolls bedding: how to guide

So a little while ago I made C’s baby a changing bag and accessories. She loved it and I had some of the fabric I used left over so had been planning on making something else with it for her but it had languished about in a box crumpled up for months (that may have partly been as I didn’t yet have a sewing room, but now I have the cabin so no excuse). Her doll has a bed from IKEA that I picked up for her on a rather disasterous trip there whilst looking at storage (I would never recommend anyone take their toddler there if they are actually planning to shop rather than chase a toddler). It’s a lovely looking wooden bed that was remarkably cheap (can’t actually remember the price) and C loves it. We had got it for her at about the same time as we were going to convert her cot to a bed so thought it was a really good thing to link to the idea of a big girls bed. Anyway, so although the dolls bed came with bedding it was rather thin and cheap looking. So I decided to make some nicer bedding for it. 


I didn’t have quite as much of the elephant fabric as I would have hoped so the dolls quilt had to be adapted somewhat from my original plan but I’m rather pleased with it. I’ve included some simple instructions below for what I did in case anyone fancies trying out a similar project.

Dolls Bedding how to guide

First measure the length and width of the inside of your dolls bed (this is where the mattress would sit).

Materials

  • Mattress: 2 pieces of length add 1/2 inch x width add 1/2 inch; one piece of wadding the same size
  • Pillow: 2 pieces of length x 5 inches; toy stuffing to fill
  • Quilt: 2 pieces of length add one inch x width add 4 inches; one piece of wadding the same size

You can choose to have the same materials for the mattress and the pillow (as I have) or different for all three. I had planned to have the top of the quilt in the dark elephant fabric and the bottom in the pale elephant fabric but ended up having to adapt and sew some squares together to get the required size. My instructions below are for one piece of material on the front and one on the back. All fabric should be prewashed, pressed and cut to size. Seam allowance throughout is 1/4 inch. 

Instructions

  1. Mattress: place the two pieces of fabric right sides together and lay the wadding on top. Sew around all four sides leaving a gap of about 3 inches on one side. Snip a triangle off at the corners and turn the right way out through the gape left in the same. Press well with a hot iron so that the wadding becomes firmer and more mattress like. Then hand stitch the gap in the seam closed. 


2. The pillow: put the two fabric pieces right side together and sew around all four sides leaving a gap of 3 inches. Snip the corners then turn the right way out through the gap in the seam and then press. Next begin stuffing, making sure to push the stuffing right into the corners (a chopstick can help with this), keep squishing it to ensure an even fill. Once filled so you are happy with it, handsew the gap in the seam closed. 

3. The quilt: now you could try to be quite fancy here and do a patchwork design or appliqué a picture on it, but my guide is for a simple plain quilt. Put your two pieces of fabric right sides together and then lay the wadding on top (I try to used the thickest wadding I have here). Sew around all four sides leaving a gap of about three inches for turning. Snip the corners and then turn right side out. Do not press here as you want your wadding nice and fluffy. Hand stitch the gap in the seam. You could do some quilting stitch here if you want but I haven’t. 


So there you go. Fairly simple, all you need to be able to do is to sew in a straight line, you could even hand stitch the whole thing if you want but it would take a lot longer. If using a machine then this is an easy project to complete in an evening. Next step is some clothes for her doll I think, maybe even matching. Has anyone else sewn anything exciting for children?

Craft

Ironing table: my current set up

So in the craft cabin one of the key requirements originally was to have somewhere big enough to have an ironing board permanently set up for my sewing. Once I started looking into it a bit more I decided that ironing boards aren’t the most attractive and instead I wanted an ironing table. When I bought my three desks the intention was to have one for my sewing machine, one for my cutting mat and to turn the final one into an ironing table. I planned to cover the whole desk with iron safe material (no idea what that would be). I had a picture in my mind of what it would look like, and had seen some pictures of similar ideas on the internet so I thought it would be fairly simple to do. When my desks arrived they were a really good size and I started browsing the internet for some ironing board material (despite J’s suggestion that I might not want to permanently cover the desk as it was quite a large surface). But I just didn’t manage to find what I was after and, being desperate to start crafting I decided to get a temporary portable mat until I could create what I was after. I went for this one as it had the best reviews on Amazon (always a good indicator) and wasn’t too expensive for what I saw as a temporary solution. It rolls up nicely so it can be put away as required (although I’m leaving it out all the time at the moment).


My main concern with an ironing mat was that it would leave condensation on the table but so far (despite extensive use) that hasn’t been a problem. It also kind of matches the colour my chair will be (when that finally arrives) which is good. I also think it looks smart enough to have out all the time.


As sewing requires lots of bits of pressing seams, having a good iron set up was really important to me as when I was having to sew on my dining table I found the faff of putting up the ironing board and setting up (and then waiting for the iron to cool before putting away) put me off doing bits of sewing when I only had limited time. J wanted to me to get one of those huge steam irons to have, but as I mainly use cotton and didn’t really fancy spending £200+ on an iron I looked for an alternative. I settled on the idea of a cordless iron which would give me a bit more flexibility when needing to move about my sewing benches. Plus, the idea of dangling cords has always seemed like quite a hazard to me. I ended up going for this one, again as it had great reviews. 


When you first switch it on it needs about 20 seconds to heat up (indicated by blue flashing light) then a constant blue light tells you it is fully charged. Then you use it as normal and when it needs more power it flashed orange, it then takes less than 6 seconds to be ready again, time to turn your fabric/garment to the next position. It suits my purpose perfectly and fits nicely on my ironing table. I’m still not 100% that this will be my final set up, but for now it seems to suit. What does everyone else do about pressing when sewing? Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can improve my set up?

Craft

Coaster craft guide

So now the cabin is up and running I’ve taken advantage and spent as much of my free time as possible there. Although I still have lots to do to get it finally organised, I just really wanted to make something. Anything. I’ve had so many things that I want to make but I just haven’t really been able to get my sewing equipment out that easily previously. So I just wanted to complete something simple to christen my cabin. My first project was two coasters for my cabin for when I have a cuppa down there. Ridiculously simple to make but the perfect homely touch. 


Homemade coaster

You need:

  • Material of your choice, this project is perfect for scraps you’ll need approximately 2 6 inch squares per coaster. Material should be prewashed and ironed. 
  • Cotton thread to match (or contrast if you prefer) your material.
  • Wadding – the same size to match your material, though you only need one square per coaster.

Instructions

  • Measure and cut your material and wadding to size. I prefer to measure a coaster I already have to get the size I like. Remember to add on an extra half an inch each way for your seams. You need one square of wadding and two squares of material per coaster.
  • Put the two pieces of material right sides together and put the wadding on top and using a 1/4 inch seam sew around the edge (make sure you leave a gap of about an inch so you can turn it inside out).
  • Trim the wadding and any excess material around the seams, being careful not to cut too close. Cut off the corners to enable as smooth a finished product as possible (figure one).
  • Now turn your coaster the right way round by pushing the fabric and wadding through the opening you left. This can be a bit fiddly, I sometimes use a crochet hook to help me. Pay particular attention to the corners (figure two). 
  • Now press your coaster, making sure that the gap left in the seam is lying correctly.
  • Finally sew all around the four edges, you need to sew close enough to the edge so that the gap in the seam is closed (figure three). 

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


Ridiculously simple but I think they are very effective. I’ve also done some coasters and placemats for when we have BBQs in the garden. 

Craft · Professionals

Let there be light

Our outdoor electrics have finally been commissioned (I think that’s the correct term). That means that our caravan hook up in the field is ready to go.

 It means out outdoor lamppost by the patio is working.


It means our outdoor electrical sockets are working.


But most importantly my cabin has light and power.


It’s been a long time coming but worth it. I think household chores will be put on hold for a bit whilst I spend every evening sewing! 

Craft

Wool storage

So I have one storage unit in the cabin exclusively for wool and yarn related bits and bobs. The top six cubbyholes are just wool, sorted by colour and I’ve tried to stack them as best as possible so that I can clearly see what I have and what I don’t. The bottom right cubbyhole has a couple of bags with all their materials needed in them and the left hand cubbyhole has my knitting bag. I need to find some way to nicely store and display my knitting needles. Most of my needles are what are known as circular needles, which are basically two wooden needles joined by a plastic loop, but I do still own some traditional bamboo and metal needles. I have made a simple needle case before but it really isn’t substantial enough to hold all my needles, and I would like some kind of easy way to have all of them neatly stored and yet clear to see the different gauges rather than having to root around amongst all of them. One of the things that I’ve found very frustrating about moving into the cottage was that all of my craft bits were boxed up and stowed away in various places. 


I figure I can have my traditional needles in vase of kinds on top of the shelves. But that still leaves the dilemma of my circular needles so I think I’ll have to take to Pinterest to find some inspiration. Also looking at all my yarn together I feel like I need to expand my collection somewhat. Both C and J have quite sensitive skin so I tend to avoid using high wool content in my makes and instead go for more delicate or artificial fibres. My collection has lots of bits and pieces of yarn left over from projects but I could do with some really nice yarn for myself in there. Something which feels lovely and soft and I can use to make a cardigan for myself to snuggle in when it comes to winter. I feel a big shop coming on!

Craft

Planning the cabin layout

So the purpose of the cabin is to give me a space where I can store all my craft things in and also somewhere for me to have some ‘me time’. I had some ideas about how I wanted to set things out but I didn’t feel that I could purchase any furniture until I could actually stand in it and properly measure and sort the layout. My requirements furniture-wise have been simple. I need somewhere to cut material, somewhere to iron, somewhere for my sewing machine to be used. I also want a comfy chair to sit in with space nearby for my kettle and cups. Oh and storage. Lots of storage. I had quite liked the idea of having an island in the middle for my ironing and cutting with built in storage and then just a bench down the side for my sewing machine. But when I actually stood in there I thought an island would dominate too much, leave little moving room around the sides and not enough storage. So that idea was out. I spent a good evening measuring the walls, window length and height from the floor before taking to the internet to find furniture that would fit. 

I’ve now opted for three desks forming an L shape across the front down one side and some shelves continuing down that side and along the back. Both of these were from IKEA in white and the desks have adjustable legs so they can be raised in line with the windows. I’ve started constructing the furniture this week (with some assistance from J) and like all IKEA furniture it is simple to put together and of a reliable quality. The shelves are cube shelves enabling me to have some sense of organising and separating of products. Nothing in them yet, and I haven’t finished the last two desks yet but hopefully you can start to get a feel for how it will be.

Ignore the weird painting at the bottom of the walls, skirting board still to be attached!

I’ve ordered my chair from John Lewis but it will be 8 more weeks until delivery so I’m going to have to wait a while before that’s in place and I can get a coffee table to fit with it. I’ve also ordered myself a rug which will be in the centre of the ‘work area’.  I’m hoping that the white walls, ceiling, furniture and floor with the pops of colour from the chair, rug and materials will work and create a light and calm working environment. I still need to get some lamps and some other bits and bobs but at least this weekend I can start filling shelves. 

Craft · Life in the Countryside

Preparing for the craft cabin

So I love craft work and have over the years amassed quite a collection of paraphernalia the cabin is now constructed and the electrics have been wired in and we’re just putting the final coat of paint on this weekend before we lay the flooring. So in all my excitement I have already ordered my desks and furniture and have pulled out all my craft bits from where they have been stored (read shoved) when we moved in. Our dining room has now exploded with my junk. J had encouraged me to get excited and get it all out ready, but I don’t think he realised just how much I have squirrelled away over the years. 


I have two main ‘types’ of craft which I tend to focus on: knitting/crochet which comes with a significant amount of wool and sewing of which I have lots of bits and pieces material. I also did a bit of cross stitch when I was younger and still have some remnants of that which it seems a waste to just get rid of. 

I’ve gone for Ikea furniture for various reasons; it is simple, cheap and good quality. I have so far gone for two different shelving units – a smaller one for yarn and a larger one for material and any other crafty bits. The furniture is all white to match the white which we have painted the inside and the chair I’ve ordered is teal to give a pop of colour. I’m planning on adding in some bunting and other homemade bits to bring out different colours. 

I think it will still take a couple of months to have everything the way I want it as my ultimate craft cabin/childfree me time space but for now I’m just going to be very excited that I can start a much needed declutter and organisation.