Monday, 31 January 2011

Door Storage / Organizer

door storage organizer
Here is a photograph of a door storage / organizer I made a while back. My son at the time had a jungle themed bedroom. I would buy all kinds of material that had jungle animals on or animal prints. I saw this fabric in a store and thought it would be great in his room. I bought two metres and took it home to decide where about I would utilise this. Then I came up with the idea storage pockets, as the material already looked like pockets because of the square theme.

Firstly, I cut the size I needed for the main part and then used the spare material to then cut out matching pockets. By this, I mean, cutting out a large square with the elephant on and then placing this pocket over the elephant on the main material. I then sewed two loops using the same material, and hooked these onto the hooks I had placed in the door specifically for this organizer.

This was ideal to put in his toys and books. He no longer has a jungle bedroom, however even though the room has a different theme, this door organizer is still hanging up on the door as it always comes in useful for all the clutter. Fortunately, the door is kept open with the organizer against the wall so nobody really sees this, unless they go in the room and close the door behind them! This project did not take very long to do, I would say a couple of hours, if you are a quick worker then maybe quicker. The time consuming part was the ironing of the pocket hems and pinning them onto the main sheet! The sewing part was pretty quick. A door organiser can be very useful and can also be a way to use up some of your different fabrics. You could have all the pockets in different fabrics and sizes and make it very individual.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

How to Make Pajama Pants

pajama pants tutorial
My 12 year old son has just had another growth spurt so all his pajama pants are now too small for him. I did think about adding some material around the bottom to elongate them as I have done with my daughters’ trousers in the past. However, this wasn’t really an option because of the type of fabric they were made of. So I decided that I should have a go at making a pair of pajamas myself with some spare material I had saved from an old duvet cover. This cover actually used to be on my son’s bed a couple of years back! I have seen many tutorials about doing this from other websites and they made it look so easy! Here is a link to the website I recently found:

All you need is some spare fabric, some paper to draw the pattern onto. Here is a tip for the part-time sewers, you don’t need to buy expensive paper, you can use ordinary unwanted wallpaper, or I actually use the large roll of craft paper for kids, that I purchase from Asda (Walmart for the US), this roll is great for the kids and me! You also need thread, sewing machine, safety pin and elastic for the waist. I will not go into all the steps here because you can follow the link and I don’t have all the photos. I have attached a couple of photos that I took afterwards. (I really should have ironed the trousers before taking the photo!)

Basically all you need to do is place a pair of trousers that already fit or a pair of trousers that are too small (like my son’s), onto the paper. Fold the trousers in half so that you only see one leg. Then draw around the whole piece of the leg. If you require trousers to be the same size, then just add enough extra around your drawn pattern so that you have room for a hem and an elastic waist casing. The general consensus is about an extra half inch for the hems and an extra one and a half for the waist. If you need the trousers to be larger, then measure the waist and leg length of the person who will be wearing these trousers. Once you know what length of leg you need, just make sure that your pattern matches that amount not forgetting to add extra for the hem and waist. Once I had a one leg pattern on a piece of paper, then I can start cutting out the fabric.

Place the pattern onto your fabric and cut out two shapes, then flip the pattern over and cut out two more pieces. You now have four pieces of cut out fabric. Then using the steps from either the tutorial I gave you , or find another tutorial, there are plenty out there on the internet, start sewing the pieces together. Basically just follow the way that your original trousers are sewn together. Once the pieces are sewn together you can then start making the waist casing. Leave a space so that you can insert the elastic, I use a safety pin to thread the elastic into the space. Then sew the trouser hems at the bottom. Voila, there you have a new pair of pajamas.

I have actually made a pair for myself (following similar instructions) a while back. This is because I can never find pajama pants long enough for myself, because I have long legs. Whenever I shop for clothes, I have to buy long length trousers when there is the option, but it is extremely rare to find pajama pants in a choice of long length! My son loves his new pants, at first he wasn’t sure about them but once he had them on, he doesn’t want to take them off – he thinks they are so comfy! This overall project only took me about an hour! No complicated buttons or extras, just simple straight forward sewing. It is easier than you think, so why not give it a try. Good Luck.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Thrift Shop / Charity Shop Bargains

Some people don't like to admit that they shop around in charity shops because they feel embarrassed.  I am what you called 'thick skinned', I don't particularly care if people want to tell me that I should never admit to shopping in these shops!  Some people are millionaires from buying other peoples cast offs.  Many businesses are successful by buying antiques that can be found in charity shops.  I however, don't know the first thing about antiques, but I do like to look around for bargains!  I have bought many things for my sewing projects from these shops.  Buying Large Quilt Covers or curtains with lovely designs is my speciality.  The picture above shows a curtain I bought really cheap and managed to make about 6 children's aprons and 5 slip covers for storage boxes.

Don't get me wrong, not everything in these shops are in excellent condition.  I always have to triple check everything by looking for blemishes, holes or cuts in the fabric.  You will also find items for sale that are brand new (still with original tags on) in the shops too.  Its amazing the type of things that people give away for free.

The small independent charity shops are the best when looking for value for money.  The major high street shops have set prices for their stock and generally don't give any discounts to individuals.  The small independent ones that I visit, sell their items much cheaper and normally discount when you buy multiple items.  If you bring in a few bags of donated items, you may even get more discounts from them, because they really appreciate your donations and reward you for it.  I also find that the staff in these charity shops are much nicer to deal with also!

The things I often purchase from charity shops are things I can repurpose or upcycle.  For example, I will buy a dress that I know I will be able to change into an apron, or large curtains and quilt covers which can be used for various projects.  As soon as I return home, the items I purchase are placed straight into washing machine before I do anything with them. I know some shops will actually wash the items before they sell them, but I still prefer to give the items a wash myself.

Most of the time you will find something that grabs your attention, but don't give up looking if you don't find something straight away.  I went out today and looked through all the high street charity shops and came out of all them, disappointed!  I didn't even find one thing, but I will check again in a week's time once they have new stock put out.   Good bargain hunting!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Calendar 2011

Every year I make new calendars for my family and friends.  I have different designs for different people.  Most of the calendars I do include an up to date photo of my three children.  This year I had all the children sitting down on the sofa, and then I used an editing program to make the photo look more stunning!  I sometimes use photos of my friends' children or some picture which suits their personality.  I normally make a double sided A4 calendar or sometimes I design a one sided A4 Calendar like the one above.  I print the calendars onto card, and then I laminate them in laminating pouches.  My family always looks forward to these each year.  I normally always design the calendar myself using a table in a Word document because I like to be able to change the colours and text.  However, you can find many calendars ready to download from the Internet if you search for them, but I have found you can't alter the layout or change the text colour!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Felt Carrots

felt carrot tutorial
There are numerous tutorials out on the Internet showing you how to make various types of felt vegetables.  Some parents prefer these to the plastic ones available everywhere.  I thought I would have a go at making the carrot, as I knew that I had the felt in the colours needed.  (It was really the felt from my daughter's craft box, but I am sure she won't mind!)  This is actually quite an easy project to do and could even be done by hand, rather than using a sewing machine.  Items needed are: orange felt, green felt, stuffing, needle and thread.  Cut a triangle out of the orange felt, and leaf shapes (about 4/5) from the green felt.  Fold the Orange triangle together lengthways and sew down the edge. Don't sew the opening!  Then turn this inside out (so that you don't see the stitching). Then place the stuffing inside the orange carrot.  Place the leaves into the opening of the carrot, make sure that about 1cm of the leaves are inside and the main part of the leaves are on the outside.  Then stitch the opening closed making sure that you are stitching the leaves in place.
That is it, very simple.  An optional extra could be to hand sew lines around the carrot body to make it look like it is textured.  This project can be done in under 30 mins.  The felt can be bought from most craft places, or fabric stores.  Why not have a go! 

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Organizing Kids Crafts

organizing kids crafts
My current task at the moment (in between my coughing and sneezing outbursts!) is trying to organize my daughters' room.  My eldest daughter loves crafts, she could spend all day drawing, cutting and sticking.  She has so many things lying about and just dumped into the nearest drawer.  I bought some plastic organizing trays, so that all the small bits and pieces are kept in a safe (less messy!) place.  She also has a large storage chest which is full to the top with craft accessories, coloured card, empty tubes, paints, pens and the list goes on and on and on...
She loves attending the local art club, this is for young children aged between 8 and 13 and is held every Saturday during term time.  They get to experiment with all kinds of art which she would never normally have the chance to do. They even had some visiting Animators, who helped them to make an animation.  In February they are even putting on their own art exhibition in the City Library.  That reminds me, I need to make her a nice apron for her to wear at the club, so she doesn't keep coming home with her clothes messed up every week!  That is about it for now, I need to get back to my coughing and sneezing, arghhhh!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Laminated Placemats

Today I decided that I needed to make some new placemats for the girls.  Their original ones (which I made last April) are now a bit worn around the edges.  This time I used the Picnik site, which makes things a lot easier and they have better font choices than normal word documents.  Once I had the design I wanted, I then imported the picture into a word document to print. (Maybe there is a different way to do this, but this is the way I have always done it!) Then I printed the design onto A4 Cardstock. Then using A4 laminated pouches I laminated the card to make the placemats.  Depending on what design you use, you could use these laminated cards for various other things.  Some examples are door signs or file dividers.  While I had the laminator machine heated up, I also laminated a front cover sheet for my 'Home Organiser File'.  I think I will have to do a blog about my 'Organising Habit' one day.  I can't live without my lists and charts, otherwise my life would be topsy turvy!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Upcycling Dress into a Bag

upcycling dress bag
Well, what have I done today, not much really.  My son was a bit jealous that I had a website and a blog, that I have had to show him how to set one up too!  He is currently trying to work out the design for his website, and I told him I would help him to start his blog, once he understands the web pages first!  He is now researching about what he can write about.  He loves sport, so he thinks that this will be his main subject, he is only 12.

 I love reading the website and gaining new ideas about what I could make.  I recently joined their list on the facebook site, and sent in a picture of one of my projects.  They said they would be featuring it in their newsletter next week, I was so excited, can't wait to see it.  It was the one where I changed my eldest daughter's outgrown dress into a trendy looking shoulder bag.  I will attempt to post a picture here, hope it works.

 It was a denim dress with a nice fancy frill.  I unpicked the dress at the seams and cut the length I needed. I sewed the denim and some spare material (for lining) I had, into pocket shapes. (I added a pocket to the inside of the bag, with the denim from the front part of the dress.) Then I placed the lining bag into the denim bag, then I sewed them together at the top. I used the original bias tape from the dress to go all the way around the top of the bag.  Then I used the spare frill to make a handle (i used some filling to bulk it up).  I made a material flower with the frill and denim and added a button and sewed this to the front.  I then decided afterwards that i would prefer a zip fastening (originally I was going to put a press stud).  This didn't take me long and I finished it in one night.  My daughter loves her new bag and can keep her things nice and safe too!

Friday, 21 January 2011

First Post!

Hi, this is my very first blog.  Not sure what I will be writing about yet.  I will probably write about things that I have crafted, or anything interesting that my family have done!  I craft at the moment for personal reasons, not business.  I make things for friends and family, but they often tell me I should start selling things or do a small business.  I guess I am scared to venture into the realm of being self-employed! However, the idea is pushing its way into my mind and I guess this is why I have started this blog. To see what kind of things are out there, and to see if I have the patience and time to succeed!