Cloth Books 2019

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.




Zipper Bags

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.

Zip And Go Pattern

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.

2 Zip Bags Pocket

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.

2 Zip Bags 3

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.

2 Zip Bags 4.JPG

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.

2 Zip Bags 2

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.

2 Zip Bags 1

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.


Dragonfly Zipper Pouch

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.


Patchwork Dolly Blanket

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.


Daniella Aka Polly

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.


Owl Zipper Pouch

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.


Purple Paws

Do you ever see a design or pattern and instantly know who it is perfect for? Last year I came across the Meandering Paws patterns by Amy B Stitched. They are a series of crochet patterns with the key design of a set of paw prints. There are a number of patterns in the series now including scarves, beanie and mug cozy.

To learn the initial design I made a dishcloth which was one block repeat of the scarf pattern. These are always easy to practice on and an item that I can never have too many of. It was like doing a tension square when you are knitting. The pattern is easy to follow written in US terms with the only unusual element of the cross stitch in the centre of the paw, once you get the hang of it you will find it simple to do.

Thinking of my friends lifestyle I decide the blanket would be the best pattern to make her. The original blanket pattern is done in multicoloured stripes but the benefit of making gifts yourself is that you get to select which colours you want to make it in so I chose 2 shades of Stylecraft Special DK in purple tones Violet and Wisteria. I wanted a low fuss blanket that could easily be thrown into the wash without thinking so that is why I used this yarn, it is really soft too.

I crocheted mine a little different to the pattern. I chained 180 stitches (plus 2 extra) and used a 4mm hook. The original pattern has 3 paws to be a repeat of the pattern like I did in the dishcloth. The way I wanted to do even colour blocks this would have looked messy. By doing a repeat of the first 8 rows of the pattern I could line 2 paws up per colour block. I like the look of it, it doesn’t look cluttered if that makes sense. There is a bit of counting in this but really only in your set up row for each paw. Once you get that initial row in which has the gap in the base of the paw you then really don’t have to count because as you do the pattern you learn where you are meant to be in each section so for example if you are not one stitch off from where you need to do a chain 1 skip then you have made mistake somewhere. I did have to frog it back a few times the biggest was about half a colour block. Doing the 8 row repeat meant you learnt the pattern quickly.

For the border or edge I opted for something simple. I did one row of trebles half the blanket is light purple the other half in dark. It was a short edge and a long edge in one colour so at 2 opposite corners you can see the 2 shades. As I started my colour blocks in a light colour I ended in it a dark colour. On the border I did the opposite so the border frames it. I started this August 2017 and finished March 2018. A lot of tv crochet. It was very relaxing to do and once I finished it I missed it. I wasn’t sure how much yarn I needed so I purchased 6 in each colour. I used a 5 and a bit of each colour. The finished blanket measures 48″ x 72″ so it is a nice lounge blanket.

It is fitting that I write about this blanket today as it is the recipient’s birthday and she has received her gift.


LOL Surprise Zipper Pouches

In previous years for my gifts I have made a lot of individual items which were often very detailed a little on the complicated side to make. Unfortunately this year I don’t have as much time and energy to spend on my gifts (even though I enjoy making them) I have decided this year I am keeping my gift making simple and letting the fabrics be the star so the kids are still getting gifts they are going to love.

At Christmas one niece was particularly obsessed with LOL Surprise dolls so when I saw that Self Confessed Fabrics Addicts had some fabric available with the dolls printed on it I ordered 1m. I had no idea what I would make but I knew 1m of cotton fabric would be enough.  I started seeing that the other girls I am make gifts for also like the dolls so I thought ok what is the maximum way I can stretch out my fabric to use in all the gifts.

The obvious choice was my tried and test zipper pouch pattern. I use the Boxed Corner version of the Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk which I have enlarged to 150%. Kids love little bags they can put their treasures in, I use my zipper pouches all the time and I know they can hold a lot of things in them. This pattern is very easy to do (I still follow the instructions even though I have lost count of how many I have made) and it is a pattern you can sew in bulk which is perfect for gift making.

In total I have made 7 with the LOL fabric. 2 pouches have the fabric on both sides on the outside, the other 5 only have it on the front of the pouch. By doing it this way I could get the maximum pouches out of my fabric. The backing fabric I used on the 5 were a combination of some striped fabric I picked up at a recent fabric swap which matched in with the colours on the front and some purple fabric which I had already cut out for a zipper pouch but hadn’t made as I changed my mind. By having a combination it meant that if one family had 2 girls in it each one could have a different bag they knew was theirs which hopefully means no fighting.

Again on the inside of each one I used a combination of lining fabrics. Half the lining fabrics I had in my stash already the other half I picked up at the fabric swap. When I was at the swap I was “shopping” for fabrics I thought would go with the pouches and I think these do. All the zippers used came from my stash but I did stock up for zips at a recent sale with these pouches in mind. I need to restock my zipper pile now as I am running low on purple and pink zips.

I used sure sew medium weight sew in interfacing in the pouches. I brought a roll of it from McCalls last year. I placed a layer behind every piece so that is 4 pieces per bag. It give it some nice structure. In total I had to cut 56 pieces between the lining, outer and interfacing pieces. In the past I would’ve doubled over the fabric, pinned my pattern piece and then cut it out. This method is great if you are only doing one or two items but it does lead to waste and is time consuming. After watching others at the Cashmerette retreats trace out their pattern directly on to the fabric I decided to give it ago. The pattern piece is just a series of straight lines so I easily traced around it with my quilting ruler. For the LOL fabric it really meant I could squish my pieces together and get the maximum out of my fabric. On the interfacing I cut sections from the roll and doubled over the large piece so I could trace 2 pattern pieces at once. On straight lines this method was much quicker than my regular pinning method.

I am really pleased with these zipper pouches. I can remember being obsessed with different toys as a kid (and teenager) I think if I had gotten a gift like this I would be really happy. I now only have 4 more birthday gifts to make this year. I am hoping to get those done soon.


TMNT Tote Bag

I mentioned in my previous post that I was inspired to make the masks after picking up some fabric that had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it.

The fabric was about 1m in length. I wanted a quick and easy project that would also be practical. I decided on a simple tote bag that could be used as a library bag or a toy storage bag or toss things in it and carry around the house bag. Boy or girl little kids like bags that they can put stuff in, parents love storage too!

Construction wise this bag is your basic run of the mill lined tote bag. The outer, lining and handles are all with same fabric. To put it in a nutshell make the 3 sections (outer, lining and handles) and assemble them all together. You can make these any size you like but this one is probably about 12″ x 15″, the finished handles are 1″ wide. The fabric is the star in this bag so I kept it simple.

A bag like this is quick to make. This is one project I can actually make it one hit (cut it, sew it, photograph it) With the eye masks inside this is now wrapped up ready to go to its new home.


TMNT Eye Masks

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half shell
Turtle Power!

Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo to some these might be famous artists but if you were a child of the 80’s these will always be the Ninja Turtles in your heart.  Can you believe that the original movie came out 28 years ago this week back in 1990.

I wanted to make a gift for Mr 4. I picked up some fabric in a swap day that was printed with Ninja Turtles thinking this is great boy fabric I can make a bag or something with it but I want something to go inside it. I remembered seeing on Ravelry a pattern for crocheted eye masks so I decided to give it ago.

This pattern is very easy to make. It is written in US terms and only consists of 4 rows. It does require a bit of counting particularly in the eye section but I’m not a big fan of counting and had no trouble with it. You could easily whip up a set of these in a day if you wanted a last minute gift.

One thing about this pattern is that you need to use 100% acrylic yarn. I used carnival acrylic 8ply, they have perfect Ninja Turtle colours! The reason it needs to be acrylic is because after you crochet these you need to “kill” your yarn. Moogly has a good tutorial on how to do this. Basically you melt the fibres together to make your stitches lie flat and it stiffens the piece. You do it between wet towels so not to ruin your iron. Don’t be scared to do this as it really does make a difference to the end result.

You can make these for kids or adults. Don’t just think Ninja Turtles change the colours around and you could have Zoro or any other super hero (sorry I have limited super hero knowledge) I am thinking of making these in pink for my nieces for Christmas just because well why not.