Two Creative Ways to Tidy your Sewing Area

I don’t know about you, but the area around my sewing machine can sometimes get very messy. Reels of thread, scissors, unpicks, pens, rulers, etc., etc.

Two creative ways to tidy your sewing area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all came to a head the other day, and I thought to myself, “For goodness sake, make yourself one of those lovely sewing machine mats you’ve seen on Pinterest.”

So off to Pinterest to search for sewing machine mats. And I found this great free tutorial by Nicole over at Lillyella here:

Sewing machine mat

Sewing machine mat

I liked the selvedge pockets and that sweet paper-pieced butterfly. I had been saving my selvedges for ages and had two big Moccona coffee jars full of them – finally, something to make with them!

I decided to use my Bonnie and Camille stash, so off I went. The tutorial was very well written, with lots of photos, and great instructions for those selvedge pockets. I had already done some paper piecing, but Nicole suggested the tutorial over at Cassandra Madge, which you can find here.

Paper pieced butterfly

Paper pieced butterfly

I had a quick read through her excellent photo-rich instructions to refresh my memory. If you’ve never done any paper piecing this is a great tutorial to use.

I was going to make the main mat part from navy fabric, but then I thought it would just show up all those white threads (and dust! I’m not a fan of dusting!) So I used a mid-blue cotton hoping it would do better hiding the threads (and the dust!)

I’m so happy with how it turned out! You can add ties and turn it into a sewing machine cover, but my machine is in use pretty much every day, so I left off the ties.

If you were ever thinking of making one of these mats, I can highly recommend lillyella’s pattern and tutorial.

Well, of course, then I decided I needed an extra bit of organizing and found this tutorial here at Diana’s Sewing Lessons.

Mug caddy closeup

Mug caddy closeup

She doesn’t have a pattern as such, just a photo of the main piece, but it was pretty easy to replicate if you’ve done a bit of sewing! I really liked the look of the binding, so I used this tutorial. But there are others out there that give the exact measurements if you’d feel safer with that, and that have internal pockets (which I felt were unnecessary for my needs).

So now I am all sorted for storage around my machine – if only I could get a lovely photo of it!

Tidy sewing area

Tidy sewing area

I’d love to hear if you have any great ideas for keeping your sewing area tidy – just leave me a comment!

Till next time

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Me Made May 2016 Review

Being on Instagram, it’s kind of hard to not notice #MeMadeMay every year!

And every year I think to myself, “I should do that!”

Well, 2016 was the year, and I managed to find enough “me made” stuff to do 20 day’s posts.

Me Made May Roundup

Me Made May Roundup

First, let me explain a little about Me-Made-May. It’s a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to wear them and love them. For a more detailed explanation, head over to this post by So Zo…What Do You Know?

I really enjoyed sewing some clothes this year – especially the Portfolio dress (above)and the Esme dress (the blue dress in the top middle photo below).

My sister helped me do a “50 not frumpy” makeover, and these two dress styles really suit my figure. And what’s especially good, is they make me look slimmer!

So I decided to make a wearable muslin out of some pretty vintage sheets for both these patterns (which you can see in the collage below). Although, after reading this great blog post from Rochelle at Lucky Lucille, I guess I shouldn’t really be calling them wearable muslins as I didn’t really much adjusting. I did add a little to the side seams around tummy level but that was about it.

I like the A-line dress – both of these were easy to sew (especially that Esme dress), and they are sooo comfy to wear.

I also traded in my pleats and gathers for straight and A-line skirts which also suit me much better!

So here is a little collage of my some of my “Me-Made-May 2016.”

Me Made Me collage

Me Made Me collage

And if anyone has any tips on how to take photos of yourself in outfits that look more natural than the above, please leave a comment!!

If you’ve never tried sewing clothes for yourself, you should really give it a try. Clothes that fit, and are one-of-a-kind, are only two of the advantages.

Till next time

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Done is Better than Perfect!

Done is better than perfect1.

Or finished is better than perfect2.

Or perfectly imperfect3!

I’ve heard all of these expressions in the last week and they have rung true for me. Just yesterday I finished listening to the audiobook of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and can highly recommend it. I was also listening to the latest Modern Sewciety podcast with Christa Watson and she had some great insight into this topic.

Quilt-2-macro-header

Just to say – it’s better to have accomplished something, anything, than wait till all is just right, before starting.

This is certainly true in the crafting world. I can spend so much time looking around Pinterest and Instagram, being inspired. Then spend ages looking for just the right pattern, fabric, and embellishments. Then stress about little mistakes made here and there.

Tic Tac Toe quilt

Tic Tac Toe quilt

But when all is said and done, it’s quicker and less stressful to just jump in, make a decision and get on with it.

And there are going to be mistakes, and unpicking, and little things that just need overlooking in order to finish.

Pointy quilting

Pointy and not quite stitch-in-the-ditch quilting

I remember reading somewhere years ago, that quilters would purposefully make a mistake in their quilts, to remind them that only God is perfect.

I’d made about 5 quilts, and straight-line quilted them all and they look great. But I really liked the look of stippling, and wanted to try some free motion quilting on a quilt.

So I did some practicing on some quilty offcuts which didn’t turn out so great. Then a stellar person on IG (can’t remember which one now!) suggested that the best way to learn FMQ is to just practice on a whole quilt.

Pointy bit of quilting

Pointy bit of quilting

I had the top of my #beehiveswarm Tic Tac Toe quilt all made up and decided that I would use this quilt to be my practice quilt for stippling.

So off I went, and had a ball! I stippled like a crazy woman! There were pointy bits and crossovers and loopy little bits of thread where I got the foot caught in the stitches. But I loved it!

Crossover quilting

Crossover quilting

I’ve heard that if you can’t see the mistake in a quilt riding past it on a motorbike, then it’s good to go. So that’s what I did. And unless you look up close, my quilt looks spectacularly stippled (even if I do say so myself!)

Tic Tac Toe quilt

Tic Tac Toe quilt

Some quilts just beg for straight line quilting, which is still easier for me. But some quilts need something a little different. My Bloom Where You’re Planted quilt was one of these. So I decided to stipple this one – my second attempt.

Crossover quilting

Crossover quilting

And there are still pointy bits and crossovers and little loopy bits of thread. But overall, a better attempt than that first one. And again, I loved it and was so glad that I didn’t let my inexperience or fear of mistakes stop me going ahead.

Bloom Where You are Planted quilt

Bloom Where You are Planted quilt

I’m sure my third attempt will be even better.

Till next time,

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Footnotes:

1Big Magic audiobook – written and narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert

2Angela Walters

3Christa Watson

Creative: Noun, informal

Tiny floral embroidery hoop

Tiny floral embroidery hoop

Finally! After almost two years, I’m blogging again.

I stopped for the same reason lots of other people stopped blogging – Instagram! It was just so much faster and easier to post photos on IG, than to write a blog post, edit the photos, and then upload it all to my website.

Liberty postage stamp quilt

Liberty Postage Stamp Quilt

But then I took some time off IG this year to focus on my family.

And realised I missed writing the bigger story, the whats, the whys and the wherefores.

Creative: Noun, informal

Pretty pile of squishy quilts

I’m back on IG (and loving it), but I’ve decided to focus some time on my blog, and my crafting, and what it is that I love to do.

So like all good crafters, I made a list of what I love to do:

I love making things – all the things!

I love sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, and embroidery.

Bloom Where You're Planted quilt

Bloom Where You’re Planted quilt

I love finding just the right pattern.

I love choosing the fabrics and yarn.

Gorgeous Gooseberry fabric

Gorgeous Gooseberry fabric

I love following the steps of a pattern and seeing it all come together.

I love finishing a project, and using it, or gifting it.

I love seeing the joy on the faces of the recipients of my makes.

I love the joy I get from making all the things.

Lunchbag using the free tutorial by Pink Penguin

Lunchbag using the free tutorial by Pink Penguin

So, I’m refocusing my time, and energy, and blog, on being a creative – a person whose job involves creative work. And that’s definitely me! Not my paid job – but my passion.

I don’t think up project ideas, or write patterns or books. I used to think that didn’t make me creative, or as good as those very talented people who can!

Then I listened to an audio book, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She said something about how you don’t have to be original, you just have to be authentic! I thought, “I can be authentic!!” I’m pretty good at being me ♥

And there is one thing I’m especially good at – give me a pattern and I can follow it and make something beautiful!

Oh So Pretty quilt

Oh So Pretty quilt

So I’m back online – on my blog – where I will be posting at least once a week.

I will be reviewing patterns I’ve used, giving tips and advice, especially about crafting on a budget, and showing you all the wonderful things there are out there to make.

I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment telling me your favourite part of the creative process.

I hope you’ll join me on this adventure!

Till next time,
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Tutorial – How to Finish Your Hoop Art

Finishing-hoops

 

There are many ways out there to finish your embroidery hoop. This is the way I do it. It really makes it look professional.

Step 1: Turn your hoop over onto the back and trim the fabric back to about 1cm (1/2″) from the rim of the hoop.

Finishing-hoops1

Step 2: Run some hot glue around the inside rim of the hoop and stick down the backing fabric. Watch your fingers – that glue can burn! (Ask me how I know.) You can skip this step if you only have the one layer of fabric.

Finishing-hoops2

Step 3: Then run some more hot glue around the top edge of the rim and fold down the main fabric.

Finishing-hoops3

 

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Step 4: Place your hoop face down on some felt and draw around it with a pen or pencil.

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Step 5: Cut out around the circle, about 3mm (1/8″) inside the pencil line. I like to use pinking shears!

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Step 6: Now is the time to add any labels to the felt.

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Step 7: Centre your felt piece onto the back of your hoop, and start gluing. I like to glue at 12, 6,3 and 9 o’clock, and carefully pull the felt to flatten it out nicely and press down. Then just fill in the extra bits with glue and press down some more.

Finishing-hoops8

Finishing-hoops9

Step 7: Admire your nicely finished hoop art!

Catching-wishes2

 

Even though you can’t see the back of the hoop when it’s hanging on the wall, I think a professional finish is never a waste of time!

I hope that was helpful.

Till next time

Michelle

Aussie Handmade Birthday Club

StitchstitchstitchI’ve had the funnest time making a present for the first birthday girl in our Aussie Handmade Birthday Club Party 1. It was for Debra from Stitching Rules.

Stalking her on Pinterest and Instagram so that I could make a gift she would really like. And it worked – she said she loved it!!

I found the pattern on Etsy here and stitched it up in Debra’s favourite colours!

Then I made a yo-yo (or suffolk puff) bunting to go with the hoop, and added some washi tape samples and pretty straws.

If you ever get the chance to join a swap on IG or online, just do it! It’s lots of fun.

Till next time

Michelle

Nine Easy Gift Wrapping Ideas

Nine easy gift wrapping ideas

Here are nine very quick and easy gift wrapping ideas that will help your presents look so pretty and make the recipient of your gift feel very special.  None of these are original ideas – just what I’ve put together after being inspired by Pinterest and Instagram!

Most of these start with the present wrapped in either butcher paper or brown paper – a lovely blank canvas to make pretty!

Pretty-wrapping1

POM POMS

Wrap your gift in butcher paper and then in some pretty coloured wool. Make a couple of little pom poms in matching colours and tie on.

Pretty-wrapping2

TWINE AND STICKERS

Wrap your present in butcher paper, then wrap the twine around the box three times tying in the back. Find a pretty sticker and attach in the front where the twine crosses over. In this case, I have used my logo sticker.

Pretty-wrapping3

PRETTY PAPER AND RIBBON

This pretty wrapping paper is from Daiso, and I tied a pretty coordinating ribbon around the middle. That’s a kraft envelope with washi tape on each end.

Pretty-wrapping4

BROWN PAPER PACKAGES TIED UP WITH STRING

Here I have used brown kraft paper, with some of the pretty Daiso floral gift wrap. I used my pinking shears to cut the edges of the floral paper (scallops would look good, too!) Then three times round the package with string, and it’s done. I’m pretty sure I got this idea off Instagram but can’t for the life of me remember who’s feed 🙁

Pretty-wrapping7

FABRIC STRINGS

Presents were wrapped in butcher paper then tied with thin pieced of fabric which I save from my sewing projects. I made the envelopes from scrapbooking paper (and some of them even match the ribbons!)

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WASHI TAPE

Oh my! What you can’t do with washi tape… Just wrapped the gift in butcher paper and went to town with my pretty tapes. Easy peasy!!

Pretty-wrapping9

YO YO’S (or SUFFOLK PUFFS)

I have a growing number of yoyo’s (with colour coordinated button middles) sitting in a jar just waiting to be attached to a plain butcher-paper wrapped gift! I colour matched the twine and there you have it!

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TWINE AND A BUTTON

I love this colour combination. Brown kraft paper with black and white twine, and a black and white gingham button – perfect!!

Pretty-wrapping5

FABRIC BOWS AND PANEL

This was a wedding present. I wrapped the gifts in tissue paper and tied them with fabric bows using the same fabrics that I used to make the gifts. Then I popped them in a plain brown kraft gift bag that had a fabric panel glued on to it.

Well, that was nine different ways to quickly and easily make a gift look pretty. Hope you get a chance to try some of them.

Till next time,

Michelle

How Cole and Taffy Came to Be

I started my home-based craft business, officially, last November, with an unsuccessful market table (see here for the full story and photos).

First-market3

But quickly worked out that Etsy was a better way to go, so I opened my Etsy store back in March of this year (click on the Etsy link on the right to see what pretty things are currently available). I can do it all from home without the stress and enormous costs of selling at markets.

A couple of people have asked how Cole and Taffy got it’s name.

Coleandtaffy5

Cole and Taffy were two black miniature rabbits that my two youngest children decided they just had to have. They were very sweet and cute, and the kids named them Cole and Taffy. As soon as I heard that, I remarked that that would be a great name for a blog! And so, when I started thinking about starting up my craft business, I prayed about a name, and God reminded me about Cole and Taffy.

Coleandtaffy6

We had to sell the rabbits when we got our puppy, Lizzie, in early 2013, but they will always live on in our memories, especially while Cole and Taffy (the business and blog) are around!

Brays-Bay4

Till next time,

Michelle

Crunchy Jumbles

Crunchy-Jumbles

I posted a photo of these yummy biscuits on my IG feed today, and got a number of people wanting the recipe. These are easy enough for my 11 year old to make.

CRUNCHY JUMBLES (original recipe from The Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden)

½ cup butter (at room temperature)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cups plain flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

2 cups Rice Bubbles (crisped rice cereal)

1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4

2. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sift over the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt, and fold in.

3. Add the cereal and chocolate chips. Stir to mix thoroughly.

4. Drop spoonfuls of dough 3-5cm (1-2in) apart on trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 36 biscuits (or 30 if said 11yo eats some of the dough!)

Leave a comment to let me know how you enjoyed them 🙂

Till next time,

Michelle

My Path to Patchwork

I’ve not done much patchwork before – a hand pieced and quilted log cabin pot holder, and a 9-patch pin cushion a few years ago.

Potholder

9-patch

But I’ve always loved fabric (I’ve been sewing since I was a teenager). The touch of it! The colours! Buying it and planning what to make with it!

Cutter-fabric

Twenty years ago I bought a quilt kit at a craft show, and somewhere in my home it sits, in  a bag, all cut, half sewn 🙁 In the darkest gloomiest colours you’ve ever seen!

Layout

I always thought that making quilts was too expensive a hobby – and then I discovered mini quilts! So now I’m obsessed with patchwork and quilting! And I even have plans for a single bed sized quilt for no. 1 son (he wants black and white). I will slowly buy the fabric I need for it over the next few months, and sew it up over the Christmas holidays. That way, it won’t seem like I’m spending heaps on fabric – spread it out, that’s the way!

wip

I decided in No Spend May to make a plus mini quilt. It looked easy, I didn’t need a pattern, and had plenty of fabric in my stash (from 30 years of sewing!)

Quilt-sandwich

I chose some of my favourite fabrics – some I had used to make dresses for my daughter and me, and one was from a pretty pillowcase I made. I even had some Liberty scraps I could use ♥ There was an overriding floral them 🙂

Binding-cut

So I cut and I sewed, and I googled, and I sewed, and I basted it, and googled some more, then machine quilted it, and then sewed on the binding.

Sewing-the-binding

It’s my first ever, properly made, patchwork project, and I quite love it! It is, hopefully, the first of many mini quilts to be hung on the lounge room wall (which is from now on to be known as my mini wall!)

Hanging

Till next time,

Michelle

PS. Apologies for the six week gap in posting – Instagram is becoming a little addictive!!