Keep It Simple

I need a bag at work to keep some supplies in so I can store them neatly in a cupboard and not have to carry them everywhere each day. No problem I can sew I’ll just whip up a bag that closes up and I can use it as a project bag after I finish needing it for work. Friday afternoon I came home, prepped some fabric, found a pattern I was going to have to modify but was still larger than I was wanting but would do the job. This morning I was ready to cut the fabric and thought STOP!!! Think about it can you use a different pattern or.. even use an existing bag to do the same job.

By chance I found this Bendigo Woollen Mills tote bag in my stash this morning which came as part of a kit I brought earlier this year. When I found it I thought ‘this sitting in bag in plastic is just a waste you should use it some time’  The sides expand so I thought I might even use it to form a pattern to make some reusable shopping bags which I am planning on making. When I went to cut my fabric I remembered this tote bag and thought it is a great size but it doesn’t stay closed.

Brainwave by adding a couple of kam snaps to the top of the bag instantly the bag had closures. In my stash I found some black snaps which matched the print on the front of the bag so you can’t tell that I added them myself (not that it matters) 5 minutes later I had a bag that would stay closed, would fit an A4 notebook in it plus a few other goodies (coffee cup, glasses, teabags) Next year when I don’t need it for work it will be a yarn bag again.

As crafters I think we tend to over think things sometimes and create more work for ourselves then we need to just because we have the skills to do so. If I had made the bag I originally had thought of doing it would’ve taken me hours, it would’ve been a good bag but there were other more simple solutions that I didn’t think of because my immediate first thought was make one. I never even considered modifying an existing bag. This is also a reason why it pays to know what you have and if you get something like a useful tote bag don’t stash it away use it or why bother getting it in the first place. At times we need to Keep It Simple and think outside the square for solutions. We are all time poor as crafters so why create more work for yourself when your time can be better spent on other projects.


Electronic Yarn Winder

Last year I brought myself a Boye electronic yarn winder. Until recently it had been sitting under my bed unopened. I had to frog back a crochet project so I decided to break it out of the box to re-wind the ball.


So as the name suggests this plugs into the wall and does all the manual winding of the yarn to create the yarn cake for you. I found this great YouTube clip on how to use it. I first tried it out on the ball of Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton I was frogging back. Bendigo Woollen Mills balls / skeins are 200g so they are quite large. It did handle it but towards the end it struggled as the yarn cake got larger and larger. The machine slowed down and I had to help it a bit. I put a photo up online and a friend commented that cotton can be hard to work into a ball.


In the end I decided to cut the yarn and make a second cake. I haven’t weighed the yarns to see how much is in each cake. A yarn cake is the description given to balls of yarn when they are wound like this. They allow you to use the centre pull method when your working with your yarn so the ball / cake doesn’t go jumping around the table. I did use the large cake for a project after this and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t a fan of the centre pull method on such a large ball. The yarn is taken from the inside of the ball out. The cake is starting to collapse and I kept getting yarn spurts where entire chunks were coming out. I’m not sure if it was due to the size of the cake. I guess next time I use one I will see.


The second lot of yarn I tried out was smaller 50g ball. It was a cotton mixture. The machine easily made it into a cake without effort. It took a matter of minutes to wind it into the cake shape. I used this cake on my yarn spindle using the regular method of using the yarn from the outside and I had no trouble with it all.


Now that I know the machine isn’t as scary as it looks I’m going to be using it more. The machine is easy to use. I had it placed on my cutting table and it suctioned on well to it and didn’t move (there is a giant suction cap on the underside of it) I want to make all my skeins into cakes now. I’m going to try it again on the cotton. I might make a project with the smaller black cotton cake to see how it goes with the centre pull method. I like the flatter shape that the yarn cake has. It would be great for stacking your yarn if that is how you store your stuff.





Hair Accessories Organiser

I found this great hair accessories pattern in One Thimble Issue 12 and thought it would be perfect to make as gifts this year so I added it to my ideas list.


I had 4 girls I thought this would be perfect for so I cut all the fabric out and made one of my “kits” containing all the fabric and notions that I needed for the project. Although there are 4 each one is slightly different so I noted down the fabric combination for each child. When it came to sewing I thought why make 1 when you can make 2 so started and on them and then thought why make 2 when you can make 4 and stitched the 4 of them up a once. It might seem tiresome and you would think it would take longer but I think it was actually much quicker. You use the same equipment on each one so you only need to take out that equipment once.  Your brain in remembering each step in the process and how your actually doing it (even if you are following a pattern) so you don’t have to re-think back. At your sewing machine you only need to change your stitch length once for the same step you do on all 4 so it does make sense to batch sew if you can.


The front and back fabrics for these I got last year from a sewing magazine. They are fun and pretty but not childish so as the child grows and feels they are a grown up (even though they may only be 8 or 9) they don’t feel they have something babyish in their rooms. For the long lengths of ribbons that run down the front of each the pattern called for gross grain ribbon which I didn’t have large amounts in my stash but what I did have was a large roll of jacquard ribbon so I used that, the tiny hearts on it are so sweet. The ribbon is stitched down in sections so you can hold large amounts of clips in each of the lengths of ribbon.


The organiser has a pocket to hold all the hair ties that you can’t clip on to the ribbon. It expands out so you can fit a lot of hair ties in there and we know little girls have heaps.


At the bottom are hanging loops that you can place headbands in. Headbands never really went out of fashion but I think they are becoming popular again.


This organiser makes a great gift, it is an all one hair station to keep all hair accessories in one spot. You could make it for a child of any age. Like any homemade gift you can personalise the fabrics to suit the child. The pattern has some embellishment on the top where the hanging loop is but I didn’t bother, I left more space for clips. On each gift I added the clips and bobby pins I made and of course a headband. I think the girls would like it. My inner 9 year old would like it so I think they will too.


2017 Gift Plans


My 2017 gifts are organised.


I have already finished my first gift for 2017 as it is due at the start of January. I have sat down and worked out every gift I am making for both birthdays and Christmas for each person. Pattern wise I need to finalise a few things but at least I know what I am looking for. When making my gifts this year I realised it worked better when I had things already cut out and ready to go, kind of like kits that you buy at the shops or craft shows. Why are kits so popular in the shops? Because everything you need to make item is right there in front of you ready to go. I have spent most of my Christmas holidays making up kits for as many gifts as possible so I can just grab and sew them throughout the year. When I go to my Sewing Guild meetings I’m often stumped as to what I will work on that day but by having things in kits I can easily see what I items I can work on. I have certain projects I like doing on certain sewing machines. Anything that has a lot of curves to it I only like doing on my big machine as it has the knee lift.


I have added notes to some of them such as what colour thread to use if I had multiple coloured items in a packet. On others I have written the way I want the fabric to be used in the project. Making up the bags was a great way to go through my fabric stash as I pulled out all the fabrics I needed from it for the required projects. It made me really look at the fabrics and think of creative ways to use them.


In the kits I have included the interfacing they require. It was a chance for me to pull out my entire interfacing stash and sort it out. I now know what I had plenty of and what I was running low on. It was a real eye opener as I didn’t realise how much I had in my stash. I was able to use a heap of odd shape and small pieces in projects which has culled the stash a lot.


I am now feeling the most organised about my gifts I have ever felt. I’m going to be trying to some new patterns and some old favourites. Some gifts are going to be more complicated than others but if I just do one stitch at a time I will get them all done with love as I always do.


October To Craft List

I have a lot of sewing and crafting over the next couple of months. Luckily in September I was able to finish all the birthday gifts I’m making this year so now I can concentrate on Christmas.  For October I would like to get the following done


  • Car soft toy
  • Girls skirt
  • Miss B’s gift (secret sewing in case she reads this)
  • Finish a batch of washcloths for charity
  • Make 2 slip covers for my foot stool
  • Cut out shark and mermaid tails

The 2 top items need to be done this month so they can be in the post before the Christmas mailing rush. Both items are pretty straight forward. The washcloths only need the final crab stitch edging done on them and the ends weaved in so again very straight forward tasks. The foot stool covers I need to do this month even though they aren’t Christmas sewing, my current covers are thread bare with holes so I do need some. I’ve washed the fabric for these I just need to remeasure my foot stools to cut out piece sizes and stitch them up. Miss B’s gift is fairly straight forward. I’ve never made it before but the pattern looks fairly easy.


I’ve gone through and finalised all the gifts I will actually be making. Upon thinking of what to make one child I remembered an UFP (Unfinished Project) from last year which was a set of baby blocks. I’ve pulled it out and cut some extra squares which I had pinched from it to use in another set of blocks. I’m now working on it to give as gift this Christmas for the same child who missed out last year. The project was about half complete. I’m happy to say now I only have about 3 – 4 blocks to stitch up and I have started stuffing some so the project will get complete.

One thing I have started doing now which I hope to continue to do in the future is getting organised and making project bags up. In a large zip lock bag I can fit all the items I need for a project (pattern, fabrics, notions) It means that when I do get a chance to sew I have all the items I need within the bag and I don’t need to search for them. This idea works for a lot of other people from what I’ve seen and read so I’m going to try the idea out too. I haven’t added thread spools yet to the bags I think if I did that I would run out of threads as often I’m using the same colour on several projects.

I haven’t listed all my Christmas sewing on here so I do have a lot to make but I’m actually feeling fairly organised about it. In my neck of the woods we have long weekend this weekend. I don’t think I’ll be sewing all weekend but I am aiming to get all my patterns cut for Christmas and project bags made up. Hopefully I can get one or 2 things finished.


June To Craft List

I’m deciding to call my lists “To Craft” lists each month as I am doing more than just sewing.


I got 2 things actually done off my May list and that was the Soccer Ball and the mug rug (which I will show once my swap partner receives it). The child’s cape I wasn’t able to do as planned so I scrapped that from the list. I haven’t coloured the fabric yet for the tea set or the bag I wish to make. I wanted to get things a little more tidy around the place before I started the project. The puppy dog I have half completed so good progress has been made. I did do a couple of adhoc projects that I suddenly needed to make straight away after I made my original list. My lists aren’t set in stone and are adaptable.

Looking at June I will focus on the following

  • Finish Puppy Dog
  • Colour fabrics for bag and tea set
  • Attend Sydney Craft and Quilt fair
  • Seat Pillow
  • Navy Vest
  • Start on Christmas items
  • Finish hot water bottle cover
  • Sew in blanket ends
  • Progress on Pamuke blanket
  • Continue cleaning up my craft spaces

I can happily say that I have started to make good progress on my craft spaces. I can almost find 2 chairs in my lounge room now that had been covered with fabric and random magazines. I’m finding new homes (outside mine) for a few different bits and pieces.

Broken Overlocker

I started to make a hot water bottle cover using faux fur. I tried to do all my seams on the overlocker as I discovered working with faux fur is very messy. It turns out you can’t do multiple layers of fur on the overlocker at once. I killed my machine…. From what I can see the needle is bent and I can’t lower or raise the presser foot so I may have stuffed that up too. It is have emergency repairs done at the Sewing Machine Warehouse this week. Ironically I had just purchased a little vacuum machine to clean the insides of her out and was planning on doing that after I had finished the cover. She was due for a service anyway along with my small travel machine so they will both get a good clean and tune up.

Future Project

One item I would like to make sooner rather than later is the above lap pillow. It is like a utility table for your lap with pockets and cushioning and storage. I do a lot of projects on the lounge in front of the tv most times I have a little container next to me to hold my supplies but that gets bumped or I don’t fully put things back in it each time and they fall off me or the lounge. This pillow is perfect as things are all in one spot and I can enforce myself to use it.




Overlocking Your Edges Pre-Wash

So in the great debate to pre-wash fabric or not I fall on the pre-washing side of the fence. I also soak in hot water then wash on a normal cycle. One downfall to pre-washing is that your fabrics tend to become a bird’s nest in the machine as they tangle about and all the cut ends shred. Recently I heard about a simple tip to avoid this…. Overlock (serge) your edges before pre-washing! Of course what a simple idea.

Overlocking Pre-Wash

Last week I purchased some new fabric (for a project I’m making and yes I did need it as I didn’t have this fabric in my stash) I decided to try the overlocking idea out. The fabrics were denim and polar fleece. I ran the 2 cut ends of each piece through the overlocker which only took a couple of minutes to do. I then soaked the two together in the washing machine and later washed as normal.

Overlocking Post-Wash

The denim came out crinkled like it usually does but it wasn’t twisted in a heap like normal. I didn’t have to rip apart spiders webs just to stretch it out for the line. The fleece was fantastic. Previously if I washed anything with cut polar fleece I would find fleece fur balls all over it but this time there was nothing. Also my carpet would be covered in fur balls too but not this time.

So I can say after testing this idea out of overlocking the edges before pre-washing it is absolutely worth doing. It does take a couple of minutes to do but the end result is worth it. I also tried the idea out on a fat quarter and again it was great with no twists and tangles when I took it from the machine. This is going to be my way of doing things now. Also it is great incentive to clear the top of my overlocker cabinet now as I will be able to use that straight away instead of carrying my overlocker to my cutting table each time.