Monday, 25 May 2009

A good use for old jeans

My little sister turned 17 today, so I spent a few hours the other day making a present for her. I have a couple of old pairs of jeans that I wanted to make use of, so I decided on a denim tote bag. It took about 3 hours to make and broke the needle of my sewing machine, so I had to put the handles on by hand, but I really enjoyed making it. Here's a picture of the finished bag -

I ripped open the leg seams of the jeans and sewed them together front and back to make a square bag shape. Then I stitched down the pocket linings at the front to make solid pockets, and sewed the zip and fly shut. I had a black and white skirt that I got in a charity shop, which I used to make the lining -

The handles were two strips of denim, folded in half, stitched together and then turned right sides out. I stitched them flat and attached them with a solid backstitch. After that I added a felt applique - probably should have done this bit first, but it was an afterthought as I thought the bag looked a bit plain. I also added a necklace from my goth days as a bag charm.

She usually wears mainly black, so I was slightly worried that it wouldn't quite be to her taste, but she seemed to really like it when I gave it to her today. I still have another pair of jeans left in my fabric stash, so might have a go at making another bag now I know what I'm doing.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Freecycle finds

Weaving is something I've always wanted to try, ever since I experimented with a plastic toy loom as a child. I was really excited to see weaving looms advertised on Freecycle, and even more excited when they arrived at my door! A local school was throwing out the old stock from its home-economics department, and I got two looms and a knitting machine.

The knitting machine is a Bond one, and looks as if it dates from the 70s. I've not had it out of the box yet, but it looks as if all the bits are there, and there should be instructions that I can follow. The looms are a bit more confusing though. This one is a children's toy, probably from the 60s.

There are basic instructions inside the box, which are beautifully old-fashioned. The user is advised to start off with scraps of wool from "Mother's sewing box". There is supposed to be a pattern book included, which has obviously gone missing at some point, but I think I should be able to work out how to thread and use the loom, as everything else appears to be there.

The other loom is much more confusing though. This one is larger, about 12 by 18 inches. It has a project on it already, made with string, raffia and wool.

I'm not sure how it's supposed to work though. I don't really know much about weaving looms, but I thought that you should be able to wind the completed work round one end, so that you could make a piece of cloth that's longer than the length of the loom. There are also these pieces of cloth attached to rollers at either end, which have wooden slats tied to the edges of them.

I don't have a box or any instructions for this loom, so I'm not sure how to identify it. If anyone knows how to use it, or can point me in the right direction for some advice, that would be really helpful! I can't wait to get experimenting.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Babies on the brain

I only have 40 days to go now until my due date with this little one, so I've been thinking about crafty things I can make for her. I tried making reusable wipes with some old towels, by cutting squares and then machine sewing a zig zag stitch about a centimetre in from the edge. Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped them fraying, so I might need to work out another way to finish them. I'm also going to knit some little washcloths with soft pink and blue cotton that I have in my stash, using the Grandmother's Favourite dishcloth pattern. After that, I'm sure I'll have time to make a little summer cardigan or two - baby knitting is so much fun, and the patterns for girls are lovely!

Of course, I'm getting really broody with the due date approaching so fast. Also, Vonnie from Adventures of a Lady in Training has just had the most gorgeous new baby girl, so I'm even more desperate to meet my own little one after seeing the pictures. I've also been knitting a lot recently for Bonnie Babies charity, doing premature and newborn size cardigans to try and use up the masses of baby acrylic I have in my stash. Here are a couple of things I've been working on in the past few days. This jacket was from an old King Cole pattern.

This little cardigan took ages to do because it had separate button and buttonhole bands. I remember now why I usually avoid those kind of patterns!

On the needles just now is a garter stitch baby blanket, the sort that is worked like a giant dishcloth, from corner to corner. The pattern calls for a knitted lace edging, but I haven't got the patience for that, so I think I'll be trying out my rusty crochet skills and making some sort of basic crocheted edge just to finish it off.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Car boot sale booty

Today I took a trip through to the Kinross car boot sale, with the aim of finding some brown and cream fabric that I could make into a sofa throw. As always though, I got a bit sidetracked when I was going round the stalls, and ended up with a few extra things.

For example, there was all this Wendy Pure at 50p a ball - usually £2.50 in the shops. I thought the little pattern would be lovely to knit up for the new arrival, so I snapped this up straight away.

Then I saw some more wool - lovely baby 4ply and some soft aran. I couldn't leave the bag of buttons and the cute little wooden ladybirds, so I had to have them as well.

After that, I found a little box filled with reels of cotton, needles and sewing bits and pieces, so I had to have that as well.

On the way home, my husband told me that I'd got a message from someone on Freecycle, offering me a whole load of fabric oddments that I'd requested. We decided to call in at their house and pick up the stuff, and I discovered that it wasn't just fabric oddments, there were zips and binding as well.

Just look at this cool cow-themed stuff!

I went to my mum's house to show her all the things I'd got, and she handed me a book on cushion making and a silk scarf painting kit that she'd found in her wardrobe! All in all, a very good day.

Oh yes, the sofa throw. Well I picked up a brown pillowcase that I might be able to use... :D

Friday, 8 May 2009

My first sewn cushions!

I'm ridiculously proud of these cushions I made today, even though they are the simplest things in the world to sew. It's the first time I've used my sewing machine to put in a zip, and I'm very pleased with the finished effect. Here they are, all piled on my sofa.

The fabric came from a charity shop, and started life as a pair of curtains, also originally handmade I think. They only cost £2.99, and were very faded and sun damaged in places. Luckily, the fabric was relatively undamaged on the right side, so I was able to cut out my pattern pieces without too much trouble. I bought some cheap cushions out of Primark to use the pads, so I took the covers off and used them as a template for cutting the pattern. I sewed in the zips and did all the seaming on my sewing machine, and then hand stitched the cord edging on. I had been looking for piping cord that I could stitch into the seams, but Remnant Kings in Glasgow only had the stuff that you have to cover yourself - a bit too advanced for me just yet!

The four cushions took about 6 hours to make today, so it was lucky that my son was with his granny for the day and I could just sew until the job was done. Now I have red and brown cushions, and I feel like it needs just a bit of cream in there as well to tie the colour scheme together. The trouble is, I'm rubbish at combining colours, so I'm not sure how best to incorporate the cream. I was thinking of getting some brown and cream patterned fabric and making two more cushions with this, using up the rest of the brown piping I have.

Then I thought I could make a throw for the sofa, using the rest of the red, brown and cream fabrics, and binding it round the edges. Perhaps something patchwork in squares, but I don't know how best to put the colours together. I'll have to dig through my fabric stash and go charity shopping again, and see what I can do. Tomorrow I'm off to visit the Kinross Saturday car boot sale, so I might just find something I can use.

Cosy cushions

I finished my knitted cushions for the living room this evening, and they are so cosy! I used Sirdar Supersoft Toddler Aran, as my husband and son both have eczema and would be irritated by wool. Acrylic will be hard wearing as well, which is an extra bonus. The patterns came from Simply Knitting magazine, and were designed by Sophie Britten. The cushions only took one and half balls of yarn each, so they were cheap as well as quick and easy to make.

Here they are sitting on my sofa - I've changed the picture to one in daylight. The colours are pretty much true to life, with one chocolate brown and one sort of mocha coloured.

Now I can start work on the sewn cushions, which will be a much bigger challenge for me. I'll dig out the sewing machine tomorrow, and have a read through tutorials of how to sew in zips. They're going to be terracotta red with chocolate brown piping, so the colours should tie in nicely.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Nursery Knits and cushion making

I went to Dunfermline today, and had a wee look around the clearance book store in the shopping centre. This book just jumped off the shelves at me - at £2.99 instead of £14.99, it was a bargain!

There are some lovely patterns inside, so I'm hoping to knit up a couple of things for the baby, and probably a little teddy bear for F.

Tomorrow, I'm going to take a trip into Glasgow to get supplies for the cushions I'm making. The knitting is going well, I just need cushion pads to go inside the covers. I'll also need zips and trimmings for the sewn cushions I'm making, which are going to be stitched out of an old pair of curtains I got in a charity shop. As a very inexperienced user of a sewing machine, I'm a bit nervous about the whole putting-in-zips thing. I found this tutorial on another blog, which looks really useful. However, I could avoid the whole zip issue altogether - this tutorial explains how to do an envelope cushion with piping instead.

I think cushions with piping look really finished and neat, so I might go for this option and see if I can put in a zip as well.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

More Felt Applique

I've finally finished my secret test knitting! Just have to get it all made up and sent away, then I can start on more projects in my extensive queue. Meanwhile, I've been working on the felt applique book that I started ages ago. Here are some pictures of the latest pages.

E is for Eggs. These little eggs have cheeky smiling faces, and slot into the egg boxes.

F is for Fish. The scales are going to be numbered with 3D fabric paint at some point.

G is for Grass. There's a little worm hiding behind the tall grass, for children to find.

H is for Helicopter. The rotor blades are hinged with a button, and can be spun round and round.

I is for Ice Cream. The scoops of ice cream are all velcroed so different combinations can be made.

I haven't had any inspiration for J yet, although I think it will be Jelly Beans.
K is for Kangaroo. The baby fits into its mother's pouch.

Finally, L is for Lollipop. The lollipop heads are all velcroed so they can be put on different sticks.

The way things are going, I might just get this finished before baby number two makes an appearance!