Monday, 31 August 2015

Boxy pocket bag

This type of bag sells really well.  Strangely I had forgotten about this variation, and only realised when reviewing my tutorials page when I found this was not linked to it.  You can access the tutorial here.

It is a fun way to use up pockets.  The hardest part is making sure I have a variety of cord lengths - and even when I do, I can almost guarantee I will not have the one length that one customer wanted!

This one is quite a plain, unisex pouch.  It has a pocket on each side and quite a long cord.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Another zipped pocket bag

You can find the tutorial for this here.
I made three of these initially, but am intending to make more - I think they will sell quite rapidly.  I chose more pockets from the garage earlier today - I have a tub of pockets, cut out in various sizes and ready to use.  As soon as I have finished the 15 elephants and 10 giraffes I already have underway, I hope to get round to them!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Recycling fleeces

Along with the wonderful donations of jeans (seized by Trading Standards as designer imitations), Lance Haggith recently passed on a number of hoodies and other fleece lined items, also seized as "designer rip-offs".
The idea with this was to use them to line bibs, using the inside of the garments.  Some of the seized jeans were used for the front of the bibs, with various embroidery designs used.  I will put these up as individual items in later posts.  The hoodies etc were cut up for the linings.
The batch of items pictured produced about 20 bib linings.
The linings were then sewn, with the logos hidden inside the bibs and the fleecy lining used as the bib backing.
Lots of learning points from this:
There are only a few parts of the hoodies suitable for cutting up - the sleeves are great, as is the back, but the pouch on the front makes part of it unusable. 
Trousers produced very little usable fleece.The images on the front of the bibs are often very hard to sew over - they seem to stick to the presser foot and stop the fabric from moving.
The fleece is of much better quality than the cheap blankets I was using - and it comes to me free!

Thanks Lance!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Bookmarks restocked

My embroidery machine has been running almost non-stop recently, as I restocked various items.  The latest restock was of bookmarks, and these have already proved popular at recent sales.
 These owl bookmark designs came as a set.  They sew up very well, although getting the colours right can be a challenge.

 These animal bookmarks are from a set of small animal images and I added a bookmark border.  They work well, I think.
The final bookmarks are again from a purchased set of bookmarks, and are attractive and colourful.
I have a considerable number of additional images which I have used in the past, but did not have time to make them this time - too much other restocking to do!

Shared at

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Latest members of the herd

I'm now making these guys in batches of at least ten, and it is not unknown for me to sell that many at one event.  Keeping up with sales is a bit of a challenge - and I am even more grateful for the help in cutting these at my recent sewing day at Tudor Rose Patchwork!

Chared at

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Utange Baptist Primary receive their lamps

The pupils and staff chosen to receive this first batch of solar lamps were given them at the final assembly of the term. I loved seeing the photos. Unfortunately two pupils chosena s recipients were absent, but they will be given the lamps on their return.

I sent labels to be stuck on all of the lamps:

 The teachers were presented with their lamps by Mr Nathaniel.  Their pleasure is clear.

 Then it was the turn of the pupils.

All of the recipients.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Zipped pocket bag (with mini tutorial)

With these bags I seem to have found a relatively easy way of attaching a zip - something I am frequently asked for.
The solution came to me - as is often the case - in the middle of the night.  Unusually I remembered it the next morning!

How to imitate this:
Make a pocket bag as per my earlier tutorial, but only make the front and back panels for the bag.

Add a 3" strip of denim to the top of each panel, fastening the bag straps between the panel and the strip.  I usually place them half way along each pocket square, and stitch over the strap end three times.

Now cut the lining to match the panels.

Using a zipper foot, sew one panel to the zip.
Put the lining so right sides of the lining and bag panel face each other, and the zip is sandwiched between the two fabrics.  Stitch again, to fasten the zip securely.
Turn the fabric the right way and then top stitch the zip.  Stitch as close as possible to the edge of the fabric.

Repeat with the other bag panel.

Now open the zip and then open out the bag and lining so that the bag panels are right sides together, and so are the linings.  It should make one large rectangle. Sew all the way round the rectangle, leaving the bottom edge of the lining open.

Turn the bag the right way in, and sew the bottom of the llining up.  You can hand sew this for a neat finish, but I usually turn the edges in and top stitch with the machine!

Push the lining inside your bag and it is finished!

Shared at
Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Hippo mark - I don't know - but yet another hippo!

This is from a Funky Friends Factory pattern.  I do love their patterns, and I am happy with the way this turned out, but for the first time ever I had problems!  I think I lost out by not following the layout diagram for cutting, which would have shown me that two of the pattern pieces needed to be fastened together before cutting. This wasn't indicated on the pattern pieces - as it is on all the other Funky Friends patterns I have used. As I was using a variety of fabrics rather than one piece I didn't bother looking at it.  I have to say that even if I had stuck the pieces together, I'm not sure the gusset was long enough - but then, I probably would have made it be long enough!

Despite the problems, the hippo turned out well.  It is a measure of my confidence with these patterns that I went straight for cutting out and sewing up ten hippos without doing a test version.  I had to do a little adjustment, but this didn's spoil the overall effect.  I'm still not sure which version I prefer - maybe I will design my own, combining elements from both of my favourites!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Appreciation and encouragement.

These postcards carry a variety of messages - I have had more fun with the slogans!
"Do what you love, love what you do."
"The simplest things in life are often the things most precious."
"Always follow your heart".
"You rock".
"Good morning sunshine."

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Pocket purses

These are a good seller, and fun to make.  I enjoyed selecting some interesting pockets and turning them into these little bags.
It also made a lovely change to do these rather than animals!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Harry Potter phone cases

More larger size cases, this time with the Hogwarts school emblem. Harry Potter doesn't seem to go out of fashion, I'm glad to say.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Simple pocket purses with contrast

I was reminded of these by the many visitors to my blog who come from a Pinterest pin linking to my tutorial for these.  Having recently tidied my sewing room, I have a bag of strips of fabric (often leftovers from binding) and these are a good project to use some up.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Umbrella Fair

This event has now become another favourite of mine.  Last year I attended for only one day; this year it became one of the rare events at which I am happy to spend two days. 
The Umbrella Fair organisation describes itself as "a Northampton-based community co-operative of local people promoting sustainable living and community co-operation."  Every year, a group of volunteers create a free festival in the centre of Northampton.  Stalls, marquees, music, food (all vegetarian) appear, as if by magic but in fact as the result of a huge amount of hard work.

We were blessed this year with good weather, and sunshine most of the time.  Saturday was a little windy when the sun went behind the clouds, but on Sunday my warm layers did not need to make any appearance.

Crowds were out in force, as this event deserved, and I had many interesting discussions with visitors, as well as a very pleasing number of sales.  I guess that my emphasis on recycling fits well with the ethos of the sale,

 The music played, from a number of stages scattered across the site.  I was mostly aware of the music from the main stage, but heard snippets from (I think) the youth stage as well, from my stall.  As I left on both days, the music was still playing and the audience seemed to be very appreciative.

I was happy with where my stall was positioned - last year I was up at the very top of the site, but this year I felt very much in the middle of the event, which was lovely.  The children's area was opposite me (I was very tempted to go and enjoy the story telling, crafts and other activities on offer there!) and there was a wide range of stalls around me.

I was also pleased with the set up I managed of my items - though lots of shuffling took place as the days progressed and items sold!  I have a lot of restocking to do.

One young visitor found a great place for her new pet as she explored the show...

 Thank you, Umbrella Fair, for a great event.  Unfortunately I won't be there next year as I expect to be in Utange, working with the women there.  I look forward to 2017!

 Thanks too to Hannah for the photos.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Phone cases

A lot of customers pick up my phone cases and try them as glasses cases, so it is clearly time to restock glasses cases.  These are the simplest ones, just constructed from a front pocket.  Hopefully in time I will get round to making some more owl phone cases as well.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Green elephant

 I should have counted how many elephants I have made as I went along - I did start off by keeping a list, but that has long since fallen by the wayside.  I suspect I have now made over 50 of these.
The ears on this one are very striking - I love the fabric.  I have been having much fun in placing pockets, and the pockets have in turn attracted much attention from customers.  You can't see the pocket on this one's back leg very clearly, but it is there.  The only places I don't put pockets are underneath, on the trunk, and on the ears (although the latter has some appeal and I may yet try it!)

Monday, 17 August 2015

Lamp collections: St Peter the Rock

It was very exciting to receive photos from Pastor John Kahindi in utange of the teachers from various Utange schools collecting the lamps I had bought for their teachers and pupils. One of the schools I have donated to is St Peter the Rock School.  Here, able bodied students are educated alongside physically and mentally disabled youngsters.  Their school motto is "Disability is not Inability".  Two teachers from the school came to collect their schools's set of ten lamps:

 The smiles on their faces say it all.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Positive postcards

These postcards are multi purpose, with the main hope being that they will raise a smile both for the sender and the recipient.

Which one catches your eye?

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Florence receives solar lamps

Florence set up Noah's Ark Academy in Utange, Kenya, in two rooms of her own house initially, turning one wall of the house into a blackboard and educating up to 50 2 to 8 year olds from the village.  Since then, fundraising has enabled three classrooms to be build, along with a toilet block and a kitchen area to produce two meals daily for the children attending.
My own fundraising (from the sale of my denim items) has enabled me to give Florence 10 solar lamps for the school this year, and e hope to repeat this annually.  5 are for staff at the school; as a teacher I was struck by a comment that sometimes not enough parents pay their children's school fees, and so Florence cannot pay the teachers.  I was also impacted by imagining myself trying to keep up with planning and marking without light in the evenings - I don't know how I would manage.,The remaining 5 lamps are for the pupils who have made the most progress this year.  I wanted them to go to children who were not necessarily the most academically able pupils.

Florence picked up the solar lamps last week, and these photos show her unpacking them.

I'm hoping for photos and information at a later date about the individual recipients. My prayer is that the lamps will provide hope to them.