Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Sewing a peg bag August 30, 2010

Filed under: Gifts,Sewing — lauravw @ 5:37 pm

The other day I had a sewing request from a friend: she wanted me to make her a new peg bag, based on her existing peg bag, which was on its last legs.

I like this sort of project: I already had enough fabric and so was able to start straight away, and the peg bag was quite simple so I knew I would be able to make the whole thing from start to finish in one go.

I sat for a little while with a pencil and paper, measuring all the various bits and making notes on how it seemed to have been assembled. Then I cut out the fabric and set to work sewing. I chose some sturdy ribbon for the strap, and remember making a mental note about which stage I would need to attach the strap. But mental note-making is not my strong point (rather than use my brain, I usually write everything down), and so it was that I came to assemble the whole bag without a strap, and had to unpick and reattach things. Oh well.

I’m pleased with how the finished item looks, and I’m starting to wonder about whether I should make more for gifts for people. Or even to sell – job security is not what it once was, and so anything that brings in a few pounds is worth considering. I’m not sure whether making peg bags counts as a get rich quick scheme, but it would be a start…


Sewing small things May 31, 2010

Filed under: Gifts,Sewing — lauravw @ 1:51 pm

Although my recent skirt project was a success, I still don’t have the confidence to get started on the Amy Butler Liverpool shirt dress pattern. It’s just too fiddly! I’ll get round to it eventually (I’ve already bought the fabric so I’m running out of excuses), but not yet.

Instead, I did a small sewing project: two bibs for a baby that’s due to arrive in our extended family any day now. I’ve made these before so there was nothing to be anxious about – it’s a very straightforward pattern and I was able to go from start to finish in the course of a quiet Sunday afternoon.


Painting apron March 29, 2010

Filed under: Crafts,Gifts,Sewing — lauravw @ 7:46 pm

Another sewing project completed – and I’m amazed how well this has turned out since I made it up as I went along. It’s a smock/apron for my friend’s little girl, Belle, to wear when she’s up to artistic endeavours. Which basically means it will soon be covered in paint and glue and glitter and goodness knows what else – but at least whatever she’s wearing underneath will be relatively unscathed.

The fabric for this one is recycled, in that it used to be a blind in our bathroom (which I also made, but can’t take much credit for that since it was simply a big rectangle with a hem). It was originally sold as a shower curtain, so it’s hopefully going to stand up well to whatever art materials a two year old girl can throw at it. It was an interesting fabric to work with (I’m calling it fabric, but I think it’s essentially plastic), because when you cut it, it doesn’t fray – and of course you can’t iron any of it or you’d end up with some sorted of melted disaster stuck to the bottom of your iron. So I used bias binding to edge much of it – and hemmed the rest.

I made the pattern up and drew it out on newspaper – which was odd in that the finished pattern for some reason contains a rather large photo of Tara Palmer Tompkinson. Some unorthodox materials were employed in the drafting stage too – the curve along the bottom was produced by drawing round a hula hoop, and the shape of the neckline was the result of drawing round the lid of a big tin that sits on my kitchen counter. At the back it’s held together with a bit of velcro, which will hopefully make it easy to get in and out of.

I was a little bit nervous about whether this would fit: I live far away from Belle, and so was working blind, other than a few very basic measurements. But happily it fitted well, with plenty of room to grow into. (Is it just me whose parents/grandparents would always say, whenever they bought me an oversized garment to wear, that I would ‘grow into it’? When I was a child I think it was rare that I wore clothes that actually fitted me right there and then… It’s not done me any harm though!)


Seven days February 7, 2010

Filed under: Gifts — lauravw @ 12:19 pm

I’ve been taking part in Domesticali’s seven days of specialness swap this month. I’d never taken part in a swap before, and so I had no idea what to expect. Over the course of a few weeks, I spent some time gathering up little bits and pieces to send to Gemma, who was the person I was matched up with. I’ve never met Gemma, but browsing around her site helped me to find out that she’s a knitter and so I decided to make her a knitting needle case. I also made some lavender pillows, filled with lavender from my mum’s garden in Leicestershire (our sitting room smelled of lavender for days, which made us all very relaxed and sleepy!).

While it was fun collecting together enough stuff to send, it was also a bit nerve-wracking: what if she doesn’t like this stuff? What if she’s disappointed?! The parcel Gemma sent to me has been really fun to open, and I feel lucky that my name was pulled out of the hat to be paired up with her. She sent me a shoe box filled with little parcels and woollen pom-poms – and best of all, there was a chocolate bar peeking out that I was able to tuck into straight away! There’s a Flickr pool where some of the people involved are uploading their pictures of the swap. I would definitely sign up for something like this again – especially at this time of year, when the short and gloomy days mean we all need a bit of a treat. And speaking of gloomy days, the skies here are so grey that my efforts to take photos of all the loot Gemma sent my way have been in vain – hopefully next weekend the sun will come out so that I can take pictures then.

Did you take part in the swap? Hope you had fun if so – it’s nice to think that last week there were postmen all over the country carrying parcels containing seven smaller parcels to homes around the UK and beyond.


Tuesday Night Craft Club: Bibs June 10, 2008

Filed under: Gifts,Sewing,Tuesday Night Craft Club — lauravw @ 8:01 pm

I have reached that age where my friends are having babies with increasing frequency, and so I was pleased to find a simple pattern in Bend the Rules Sewing for baby bibs. You need some pretty fabric, some cotton flannel, and little metal fasteners, but that’s all. They were really easy to make, and the budget-conscious side of me was pleased that each one only requires a small amount of fabric, so you can turn out a lot of bibs for very little money.

So far I’ve made nine, and given them away in sets of three. As you can see the fabrics I chose are green/yellow, and I’ve been relieved to see these colours be well received by my friends. (I had worried people would want blue for girls and pink for boys, but that’s not really my taste.)

Someone I showed these to made a good suggestion for a more advanced/complicated version that I think would work pretty well: putting a layer of something plasticky (she suggested parachute fabric, and I can only assume that’s something that can be bought online even if it does sound rather obscure!) so that any spills the baby makes don’t go through the fabric and onto the baby.


Housewarming gift January 28, 2008

Filed under: Gifts — lauravw @ 9:26 pm

My parents will be moving house in a month or two, and I’ve been gathering bits and bobs for the housewarming present I’m giving them.

It’s a collection of useful household items, presented in a pretty container and tied with ribbon. I tried hard to think of all the things a person needs when they move house, and think that if I had had all of these supplies gathered together in one container it would have been very helpful.

Housewarming gift

The metal pail is from a little gift shop near where I live, and I’ve filled it with:

  • Key tags to help them label all their new keys
  • Plasters/band-aids
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Ibuprofen
  • Sellotape
  • Glue
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Blue tack
  • Matches
  • Cloths
  • Plastic food containers
  • Postage stamps

Other things I thought might help people in a new home included: menus from local takeaway restaurants, leaflets about things to do in the local area, a torch and batteries, address labels, a notebook and pens, candles, and an emergency bar of chocolate (or six).


Etsy jewellery January 10, 2008

Filed under: Gifts,Shopping — lauravw @ 7:24 pm

Necklace from Pebble.A new friend of mine has set up an Etsy shop, selling her elegant jewellery. I was introduced to Jayne last month, and bought a green beaded necklace from her that I’ve been wearing ever since. Take a look at her store – she has a large range of products, and so I expect will be adding more to the store over time.


Pretty packaging July 16, 2007

Filed under: Books,Christmas,Food,Gifts — lauravw @ 7:26 pm

Pretty packages of goodies.Some time around the start of the year I bought Chronicle Books’ Holiday Treats Kit (ie just after Christmas, which is when the kit is designed for – timing was not on my side!). I have enjoyed looking at all the little goodies that comprise the kit since then – patterned paper and cellophane bags, two kinds of pretty string, gift tags, and a whole load of nice stickers.

The other weekend we wanted to offer a small token of thanks to some helpful friends, and so I made some rice crispy treats (the recipe I use is here), and packaged them up in the cellophane bags. It was such a simple way of making something look fabulous – if you make little food gifts for people, now or at Christmas, I really recommend treating yourself to this book/kit. The little book that comes with it has some lovely ideas and recipes for things to make to put in the bags.


Gift journal January 19, 2007

Filed under: Gifts — lauravw @ 10:22 am

Just before Christmas I started doing something I had been intending to do for a long time: I began a gift journal. I bought myself a lovely Jill Bliss notebook a few months ago with this purpose in mind – I wanted a beautiful book that I would enjoy using, because this is a project that I hope will last a lifetime.

In the journal I’m recording all the gifts I give and receive. I’m also making notes about things I might want to buy for people in the future, so that when their birthday comes around I’ve already got some ideas down.

So for Christmas I wrote down the details of all the parcels we sent out to people – the thinking behind this being that I want to keep track of what I’ve sent because I don’t want to keep sending the same person the same thing. When I have a good idea about what I think someone will like, my bad memory means there is a very real chance that I could keep repeating that same good idea, year after year – which would ruin it. I also made a note of everything that we received, and put a tick next to it once we’d sent out a thank you card. Again this is important to me because of my bad memory – there are a few special presents like books and so on that I was given as a child and am not quite sure who gave them to me – I don’t want that to happen in future, so this is the best way round it for me.

And in the back of the book I’ve written a Christmas card list, with plenty of space so that I can add (and remove!) people over time as necessary.

My only wish is that I’d started this a few years ago – but at least I’ve made a start now.


In praise of Chronicle Books January 17, 2007

Filed under: Books,Gifts,Shopping — lauravw @ 8:11 pm

In the last few weeks I’ve been particularly appreciative of Chronicle Books – they publish such interesting books by knowledgeable people, and what’s more is that they design them so nicely. For Christmas I was given Amy Butler’s In Stitches, and Elinor Klivans’ Cupcakes!, and I also started using a beautifully designed journal designed by Jill Bliss, which I bought sometime last year – the interior pages all have prints of native (to the US) flowers on them. I can see they also do notecards in the same print, so perhaps I will set up a wishlist on their site and remind myself of them another day. The site also mentions that Jill’s work has featured in ReadyMade and gone-but-not-forgotten Budget Living. Last but not least I bought, for about the price of a magazine (I’ve no idea why it was so cheap, it was the only copy), The Big Book of Vegetarian, which is excellent. The recipes in it are both unusual and easy to follow, and even though I’ve only had it for about a month it is a firm favourite.

Just spending a few minutes on the Chronicle Books website brings up all kinds of treasures that I suddenly find I can’t live without – it’s a good place to spend a few minutes while on lunchbreak at work, but perhaps I need to avoid it for a little while longer until pay day.

This book looks like it will be similar (yet different enough) to the Amy Butler book – Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing, out in February.

UPDATE: Amazon UK will be shipping the book from 30 April 2007, while if you live in the US it seems you’ll be able to get it much sooner – Amazon US says 1 March 2007. At least the delay for those of us on this side of the Atlantic means I can ask for it as a birthday present. I’m so looking forward to seeing the book!