In 2019 I had a few issues with my gifts. As I mentioned in a post last year I kept changing my mind on what I would make or I would leave things to the last minute. In 2020 I am getting back to being more organised with my gifts. I have decided on all the gifts I am going to make and I am not going to change me mind so I have a clear plan. A couple I was aiming to make for Christmas last year so they will be given as birthday gifts instead and one I cut out yesterday. Following the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) below is what I am going to make and what I need to have finished by each month.
March – Cockatoo (cut out)
April – Crocodile (half sewn)
May – Toiletry bag (cut out)
June – Book pillows (make size to match pillow inserts already in stash)
July – Superhero doll (use DDD pattern), crochet superhero mask
August – Tea set
W – Bucket hats, heart pillows
H – Flower pillow, star pillow, crochet footballs (all blacks)
The good news is that I only have to buy a zipper and maybe some boning for the handles of the tea set aside from those all the other items I already have on hand. This will keep the costs of gifts down but more importantly mean I’m using my stash. I’m actually feeling really relaxed about my gift making this year.
I haven’t made any cloth books for a few years but I made a couple this year for a little one turning 2. Age 2 I think is a good age for cloth books as they are starting to getting into looking at books and fabric books don’t tear easily plus they are washable.
I didn’t follow a pattern I just cut a heap of white calico into squares roughly the size I thought would be large enough for me to easily work with. I decided to use sew in stabiliser behind each page so I also cut squares that size too.
There was a lot of preparation work that went into these before I could actually start working on each page. Once all my squares were cut out I took them to the sewing machine and tacked a piece of stabiliser behind each calico square. This gave me a reference point into which I could work in but also meant I had some stability behind all my stitches.
After I prepped all my pages I went about designing each book and cutting out all the pieces. I wanted something simple so I thought numbers and colours. Things that a 2 year old are starting to learn and can point out if they see them elsewhere. I used wool felt for all my shapes and numbers. As there is a good chance that these will be washed I used wool felt. Most of it I did have in my stash already but I did have to purchase some more.
On each cover and on the colour pages I wrote out the words in chalk pencil then went over them with hand embroidery doing a chain stitch. When I want something to stand out I find chain stitch gives me the best result. It is like doing things in bold
Most of the felt pieces I cut out with my sizzix big shot machine. It was a lot easier then cutting out things individually. I placed a piece of felt over each cutting die and cut multiple shapes at once. To attach each shape to the page I used a blanket stitch. Felt doesn’t fray but I like the look of blanket stitch, it gives it a nice even texture around each piece.
I stitched the pages together on the machine. After all the pages were done I stitched them together on one side to form a spine. Doing the numbers book I broke 2 needles as all the layers were very thick by the time I stacked the pages together. To cover the spine I hand stitched the yellow strips in place. It was much easier to do them by hand then face more broken needles at my machine. There was a lot of work that went into these books but they were worth it. I spent many hours in front of the tv hand stitching these.
Do you ever start a project and think I am really not meant to make this? Originally I had brought the 2 blue fabrics used on these bags to make reading pillows but silly me didn’t read how much fabric was required and I didn’t have enough when I started to cut them out plus I didn’t have the correct size pillow inserts. I also needed to make a 3rd gift from fabric in my stash. No dramas plan b I will make 3 Zip and Go’s, easy pattern which I have made before.
I brought the zippers to match each bag, cut out the fabrics and realised I never had enough fabric to make the straps out of the same fabric. Again no dramas all the fabric had white on it I’ll just make the straps out of white calico from my stash which I did. The Zip and Go pattern has clever instructions where you measure the front panel and slice it at different times in the instructions to insert the zips. I sliced my first panel as per instructions and realised I cut it ¾” too short. Now what to do. I was running out of ideas and time to make the gifts. I had all this usable fabric, I didn’t want to waste it.
Now I think by this point I was up to plan c. Having made the Essential Wristlet pattern more times then I can remember I decided to use the zipper instructions from that to insert top opening zippers on the bags instead with a front pocket. It was a way to save all the fabric I cut and it was a pattern I was very familiar with.
I was originally going to make the zip and go pattern as Christmas gifts this year for the same kids so I had all hardware in my stash. Sewing away it occurred to me that the straps I had made weren’t going to fit the hardware I had in my stash. I make my bag straps on tote bags and regular bags finished size 1″. The zip and go’s have a narrow strap and the hardware I had fitted the narrower strap. I then had to do a quick online order to get 1″ hardware and have it sent Express Post to have it in time to finish them. I also had to remake the D ring tabs for the bags as I had made them for the smaller size. In the end I think having the tabs in white brings the bags together more as they are the same as the straps and it doesn’t make it look like I have just clipped on any old straps I had.
The straps have sliders on them and I always get confused on how to sew them. I have to look at my handbag each time I attach them as even with pictorial instructions my brain get confused. Just as I was sewing the hardware on my last strap I still stitched it wrong so the slider wouldn’t move so I got my un picker out. When I started sewing them correctly I then broke a needle. I had my glasses on but luckily it wasn’t one of those fly off and hit in your face needle breaks which is why I wear my glasses sewing now.
I’m pretty proud of myself. Even though I had drama after drama making these bags and they ended up taking about a week to make instead of a weekend like I’d planned. I never got stressed or angry making them. I ended up with 3 usable bags to give as gifts. I actually did mid week sewing on these which I don’t normally do. Normally my mind thinks if I am going to sew I need a big chunk of time but I did 20 – 30 mins each day and I got them completed. Using white thread meant I was able to batch sew them so I did one task a day during the week. Install one half of the zipper on all the bags one day, the other half of the zippers the next day. Top stitch all the zippers one day. Little chunks of sewing got the small tasks done so when I had a day off work I was able to finish them. By breaking sewing up into small tasks like I did on these bags I might be able to get through sewing all the things I want to make. I’m fortunate enough to not have to pack up my sewing area after each time I use it so mid week sewing is achievable for me.
Even though I have now been sewing for 8 years I’m still learning from every project. This project I learnt how important it is to fully check your materials and instructions before you start. Go back and double check the small details as you are making the project, don’t assume or go on autopilot too much. You don’t need a lot of time to sew, break the tasks into small steps and you can get things done.
Last week I blogged about the first item I made with the dragonfly fabric I had in my stash, this is the is the second item I made with it.
Once again I used my old favourite Essentials Wristlet pattern by DUMD which I enlarged to 150%. This larger size really makes a practical size zipper pouch that you can fit lots in. I cut out all my pieces for this before I cut out my Dragon Fly Tote as this was the main item I had in mind for this fabric, anything else I could make with the fabric was a bonus.
I have used the same fabric on the inside of this tote as well on the outside, it really is a pretty fabric. I did use some woven interfacing on the inside of this pouch but only placed it so it is sitting against the outer fabric. I wanted this pouch to have some structure but not too much structure. This will be given as a gift and I am not sure what the person will use it for so I didn’t want it too stiff and rigid. Just the one layer of interfacing gives it enough structure to be free standing but you can also squish it down if you wish too.
I really enjoyed making the 2 pieces from the dragon fly fabric. It was a bit of challenge to think what to make with only 1m of fabric but it was a good learning experience. I know now that for clothing unless it some cotton knit 1m of fabric is not enough to make anything entirely. I can get away with making an elastic waisted pull on skirt from 1m cotton knit but for anything else I need more fabric. I liked that I could make 2 practical items with just the 1m, I am not really a person who makes decorative items, I like practical things particularly for when making gifts for adults. I am really glad that I was able to free this fabric from my stash and use it in a gift that someone can enjoy. Fabric should be brought to be used and not just sit in your stash.
When I made Daniella I wanted to make a little blanket to go with her. My original plan was to crochet her one but the one I started with some scrap yarn in my stash looked terrible to I raided my fabric scrap stash and came up with this little blanket.
I have a basket of scrap pieces just under my ironing board. This project actually started with finding the back fabric first. I found a rectangle scrap of the flannelette paw print fabric in the basket and measured it over the doll. It fitted well so I decided to use this as the size blanket. The pink around the edge is part of the front boarder folded over and hand sewn in place to bind the edges. In between the 2 layers I placed a scrap piece of polar fleece to make it into a mini quilt.
In the basket I initially found a pile of the little aqua heart scraps that were offcuts from when I made a previous project, they were just bigger than a 2.5″ square so I decided to use them as the guide for my pieces. In the basket I also found pieces of the 2 grey bubble fabrics, these were perfect as the blanket was for the child that I used those fabrics in originally in. I love it when I can incorporate the same fabric into multiple projects for the same child. The other fabrics were from strips I found in the basket, I wanted to keep mostly pink to match the doll. I cut all the fabrics I found to a 2.5″ then played around to get them to fit the backing fabric nicely. I took a photo of the final layout on my phone to ensure that I stitched them in the correct order, thankfully I didn’t need to refer back to the photo as I got the order correct.
I am super happy with this little blanket as it turned out really well. The colours all match in with the doll and as a bonus I used fabrics from a previous gift for the child. The child can actually use this on the other toy I made her too if she wants. This project cost me nothing as it all came from my stash which was another bonus and it helped me declutter some of my scraps so everyone was a winner.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to make another version of my go to softie dolly pattern… Introducing Daniella
Once again the pattern I used was Polly from The Big Book of Sofites. Polly is a really simple cloth doll pattern. Polly is a great doll to make from stash as you don’t need that much fabric to make her. As she doesn’t having any choking pieces this toy is great for a child under the age of 3. The only thing I needed to buy to make this doll was the yellow wool felt for the hair, all other fabrics used were from my stash. For this doll I have used the same fabrics on all the limbs but I have made other versions where the arms were different fabrics from the legs, this is can easily be made from scraps. The face is hand embroidered and I hand stitched it to the head with just regular embroidery floss.
This time on the back I decided to put the yellow felt on the back like hair, the original pattern has the back area plain. The child I am making this for has blonde hair so I wanted her doll to match. I made the hair piece a little shorter than the entire head piece as I wanted it to stand out as hair. I just did a row of hand stitching with embroidery floss to hold it down, the top section is just stitched into the regular seam allowance. I must point out that I make this doll a little larger than the pattern, I had length to the head and body sections and make the arms and legs slightly bigger. I just like the look of the slightly bigger doll. I am really happy with the main body section as I cut the pieces so that the stripes would continue the same way and line up at the sides and bottom. Little details that I know are there but aren’t that important. As you can see from the way she is sitting her limbs are fully flexible so she is perfect for cuddling.
Little bit sad now I don’t have anymore kids to make Polly for now, I think each family I make toys for has a Polly in their toy box.
For the first time in months on Saturday I actually got on my sewing machine! I was one gift behind on my gifts this year so I got in and made this zipper pouch to get me up to date.
The pattern I used was my old favourite Dog Under My Desk pattern the Essential Wristlet. Without doubt this is my go to pattern whenever I want a zipper pouch. I have made so many of them over the years for gifts but also for myself. This is the enlarged version where the pattern piece I used measured 50% bigger than the regular size that comes in the pattern, it is simple to enlarge to set the printer to print at 150% not 100% and extend the length of your zipper by about 2″ I need to make more of these for myself, they are a great size bag for yarn projects.
If you have followed my blog over the years I’m sure you have guessed this is for my owl obsessed niece. I’m still always on the hunt for owl fabrics, when I went to the craft show this year my mission was to hunt down owl fabric for this pouch. I really like the outer fabric, it is fun but just a little bit grown up which means she can use this for years to come.