Thursday, 31 July 2008

Unexpected gifts

Well, I don't know why, but I cannot access my favourite forum tonight, the Shabby Chic one, and I was halfway through a thread. I just get an access forbidden sign, so I've been turfed out! lol.
So I'll update on here instead.

Life is such a gift, isn't it. I've thought on that this week, with the children at home from school. I value every precious minute with them, and we're packing in a lot. Today we had such a lovely day in Nonsuch Park, with six children and one little dog, and a mum friend for me. And it cost an icecream each! Aren't the cheapest days often the best!

But it started with an amazing gift from Cooltrikerchick on the wonderful shabby chic forum, who had sent me a box. I'd bought some fabric from her ebay shop (she sells terrific vintage stuff, and is worth checking out frequently - hopefully this link to her ebay listings will work, and here's a link to her fabulous blog). The box was rather larger than the fabric would be, and I opened it to find this intriguing message.


It's the most unusual sewing box I think I've ever seen.

I can't wait to do something with it. And inside there was the fabric I'd bought (the rose print in the front), as well as two other stunning fabrics CTC had thrown in.

I don't know what I have done to deserve such a gift. And following so quickly on the heels of Angel's two unexpected gorgeous bags, and my children around me, I feel blessed, I really do. Thank you so much. You've both made me cry this week!

Now, I also have an update to the post below, because ElizabethD has sent me pictures of how she used my tute for the bag so beautifully. Take a peek. They are better than mine! But I am only a beginner!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Fabric bags - your pictures

I'm going to start a post dedicated to bags peeps make from the tutorial I posted here.

The first has come from Ellieweb on the Shabbychic forum, and it's gorgeous. Please do send pics, if you do make the bag, and I'll update this post if a pic comes in. Thank you Ellieweb for doing it - it looks so lovely.

Next I've just got pictures of two beautiful bags from ElizabethD, who has such a lovely blog here, which always make me long to get back to France. She says that the pink flowery one was a trial, using 'used' fabric to see how the pieces went together. I think as a trial it looks incredibly professional. The blue one was made from a pack of Laura Ashley pieces. She's quilted both sides with a thin wadding in between the fabrics. I'm stunned. This is way beyond my abilities at the moment (but I'm going to give it a go now as they look so striking like this!). Thank you so much for sending these, Elizabeth.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Holiday fun and a bit of Cath Kidston nortiness

Self-indulgent post today, because I want to keep a vague diary of some of what we get up to in the holidays. But first of all, I've been wanting to post the costumes the kiddies had for the end of term bits. First the shoes that we were especially proud of for the hippy decade chick look for my 11 yr old. Fiver in a charidee shop, tarted up with some felt flowers. Best of all, they fit me (though those aren't my dainty feet in them)...

and a peek at the costume...

And then my 10 year old became a Roman for the day, with big thanks to a shawl that one of you may recognise from a 10,000 year old giveaway!

And I've done a bit of this...

And a bit of this...

And generally we've had a fab time so far. Except for today when they all went to Marwell Zoo, and saw a month old baby giraffe, and I had to work. That wasn't so good.


I popped into CK at lunchtime. And couldn't stop myself. The sewing house. I know I know. I'd only gone in there to look (promise, look only) at the towels I love. But it was only

£20 reduced from £40...cos it's damaged. But it's nothing I can't repair, and I just couldn't talk myself out of it. Problem is, do I keep it, or give it to middle daughter for Christmas (which was the plan). Speaking of which, I'll post a pic of the skirt soon - it is a skirt, just need to finish the ribbon.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

A huge thank you for home made applique bags

Just look what I got at midday this morning, when the postie arrived. From my lovely friend Angel. I adore anything homemade, and bags especially, and these are incredible. They are lined with lovely contrasting fabric...

and have two pockets inside and button details back and front (have I mentioned I love buttons?!). And the applique is so gorgeous. I've always wanted to try applique, and zig-zag stitch on my machine, but have never ever been brave enough. I am so incredibly fortunate to have met Angel on the forum. Angel, you are fabulous, and you've made blogging lots of fun. Do visit her blog and see what I mean. There's only one Angel like this one!

We've had a lovely first few days of the holiday. I steeled myself to let my 11 year old loose with a friend in town earlier for three hours, and of course it was fine. Lots start before me, but I haven't had the inclination, but she needs to start cutting loose a little. They did their own thing, and I had to laugh... they went to Starbucks for a brownie and hot chocolate, then bought sweets, then just before I collected them went into thornton's and got a shot of melted chocolate. A chocolate theme going on here, I think.

The skirt is coming along, and I'll try and post on progress tomorrow. I've made lots of mistakes, but I'm hoping it'll be wearable. There's also still time to sign up to my fabric bucket giveaway if you're quick - see a couple of posts back for the details.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Twirly skirt and paint adventures

I love it when the children break up for summer. Six weeks of fun ahead. It's not really quite long enough, but we certainly pack a lot in. We began today, with ant houses (the children's suggestion, not mine!). So far we have Terry and Lucinda, and Joe and Rosie. At least, I think it was called Terry. He was our first, and was quite a plump ant, so we should be able to spot him. I wanted to pop a spot of paint on his back, but he wasn't having it!
We're also half-way through painting a castle...

And most frightening of all, I suggested to my 10 year old she makes a skirt. I was thinking tube skirt, with elastic waist. Easy. But I made the mistake of showing her what it would look like online, and she wants to make this one, from House on the Hill, which is a fabulous blog. Oh dear. This is from somebody who honestly only recently began to sew (me). But we've agreed to give it a go, as the tutorial looks simple. We've had fun choosing fabric (she has lots from a lovely freecycler) and she's choosing blue floral sprig fabric with a blue gingham contrast hem and waistband. Great. That means I have to find a way of lining the skirt, as the fabric is a gorgeous cotton, but thin. But we'll have to muddle through together, as I'm determined she has fun and isn't put off for 40 years like me!

We've so far cut a pattern out of newspaper...

I'll update with progress.
We're all excited because we're planning to see Wall-e late this afternoon. And it's a lovely hot day. So a happy Lace household!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cath Kidston Old Rose towels

Oh boy, am I coveting these. I don't usually get sucked in to coveting anything. But these particular Cath Kidston towels have me hooked. I've been in the shop three times, and managed to persuade myself that they are ridiculously expensive. But they are so yummy, and so soft, and so covetable!
If you find a cheap floral towel alternative that comes close, I would love to hear about it!

And just to remind me of what's most important, and that I don't need silly towels, a picture of my middle one who had a fabulous makeover party last week and came home as a ...


Saturday, 19 July 2008

Fabric bucket giveaway!

I thought it was about time I did a giveaway. I've made a fabric bucket, and wondered if anybody out there would actually like to have it? Fully reversible, and perfect for bits and pieces, small bits of fabric, lace, odd sock collection, latest crochet and wool project... I'm sure you can think of endless uses.

Anyway, here it is: shown both ways. Leave a comment, and I'll draw names out of the fabric bucket (or get the little Laces to) at the end of July. Don't comment if you don't like it - I'm made of tough stuff and I won't be offended if no one wants it!

Friday, 18 July 2008

My first sale!

I've got my first order for a bag! I'm so excited!!!!! It's not even a friend taking pity on me! It's someone who saw one a friend was carrying and wanted to buy one! So I've given her the choice between these two...

With panels or without... Wonder which she'll pick! Pricing is the scary part. Goodness knows what to do about that.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

My lovely award! And I'd like to nominate...

Aren't I lucky! I've been given my first award. Huge thanks to Anglesey Allsorts. I don't know what to say. Angel will tell me my head will explode soon! No, I'm really chuffed that people read my blog, and enjoy it. Now, I have to:

1 . Put this rather sparkly black Logo thingy on my Blog (done - see, doesn't it look pretty!)
2. Put a link/or mention (done)
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs. (Oh gosh, I have lots of favourites, but my particular favourites would have to be, um, Shabby Angel's, Trixie's Trinkets, Bloomin' Myrtle, Sharie's View to the Hill, Dancing on a Blade of Grass, Dolly Dollop, and Diary of a Tinyholder. Phew!)
4. Put a link to those Blogs on your Blog (all linked, so done)
5. Leave a message on their blog. (okay, okay, I'll do me best. lol)

I also wanted to post a picture of the vintage handkerchiefs that are currently winging their way to me from the States. I am so excited. They are so gorgeous. Mmmmmm. I will update when they arrive on my plans for these beauties.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Fabric bucket

I am in love with sewing things! I can't get enough of it. Addict! Definitely! I've always loved fabric, and it's so nice at last to discover I can sew.

What has got me all excited? My first fabric bucket. I'd seen the idea in Sew Pretty Homestyle, where there's a box and a bucket, but the bucket was rather tiny, and had a complicated looking scalloped edge. So with the encouragement of Bloomin Myrtle and Angel, I decided to just cut a pattern and go for the size I wanted, using bits of Laura Ashley fabric I had. The lining is a hydranga print. Not sure of the name of the outer, as I picked it up at a car boot. It was really simple. Look.

It's fun to do, and I'm going to make another one tonight.
Edited to say: Just made another one with Cath Kidston fabric! Here it is, with my granny square peeping out...

It makes a change from bags. I've gone bag mad, with the help of my littleuns. They suggested making them for their teacher's as end of year pressies, which struck me as a lovely idea, as their teachers so often get overloaded with choccies and flowers. So we've been busy...

Here's a peek at my next shabby chic project - two glass topped tables which I picked up at a car boot. Can't wait to get going on those.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

An easy tote bag tutorial - from a beginner!

This is my first ever tutorial. It's for a patchwork type bag - like the Cath Kidston material one above, but the instructions that follow are for a smaller version in Globaltex fabrics. I haven't quite finished, but I thought I'd post this, then update soon with the remaining instructions.

Totes like these are honestly are really simple. If you do try it, I'd love to see a pic of the result, so please let me know... even if it's in 6 months time.
I'm posting instructions to make a lined bag with sides and base. I'll post instructions soon to make one without sides and bottom, as my daughter did one alongside me doing mine (and she's only 10, so that shows how simple they are!). I've tried to take lots of pics, as I know they make everything really simple.

How to begin
1. You need to choose your fabric, and then cut a pattern. It's best to wash and iron the fabric first, to pre-shrink it. Because they do shrink, and it's better getting it shrunk before you make it! I used A3 paper for the pattern, as the width was just what I needed. You can make larger bags - the Cath Kidston one is larger than the globaltex (pink dotty) one. So you have one large piece for the back and front. Two sides, and one base:

The front back measures 14 1/2 inches by 11 3/4 inches. The sides measure 14 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches. The base measures 11 3/4 inches by 2 1/2 inches. But you can make this larger if you want a larger tote. Don't be afraid to experiment. You can go wrong as long as the sides measure the same length as the front/back.

2. I then cut a strip 3 1/2 inches wide from one end of the back/front piece - this is to form the patched pieces at the top.

3. Now you need to cut your material pieces. Fold your fabric, with right sides facing, and pin the large back/front piece to it:
Cut around the pinned pattern. I placed it on a fold, so had to then cut up the fold.
Next, pin the smaller pattern strip you cut to the contrasting fabric. You will need to cut two of these pieces:

Carry on cutting all your pieces. You end up with the following pieces:

4. Now pin the top piece to the large front piece and do the same to the back (making sure to place right sides together, and making sure the fabric is the right way up if there's a definite top and bottom to the design):

5. Machine stitch along this join, then iron the seam open.
and do the same to the other other front/back...

6. Now you need to pin (right sides together) the two sides to the large patched front piece. And also pin the base in place:

7. Pin the two corners as shown:

8. Machine stitch down each side, and along the base, taking care to stitch up to the diagonal formed when laying the corner flat and not across it:
9. Now you can pin the back in position, down the sides and along the bottom:

10. Stitch down each side, as before, then across the bottom. Then stitch along the base sides. Again, just be careful to stitch up to the diagonal at each corner, made when holding the fabric flat under the machine's foot. You can then hand stitch at the corners if you haven't gone right up to the diagonal, so there's no hole. Pull thru your threads and knot.
Once that's done move on to the lining.

Make up a lining with optional pocket

This is pretty much the same as the outer fabric bag you've just made. A cotton is easy to work with and looks good. If it is really thin, it's best to use an iron on interfacing, but I've kept things simple for this tutorial, so haven't done that.
So, first use your pattern pieces to cut the lining: same as before. You need to cut a back and front, two sides, and a base. Remember for this, you need a complete front back, without the panel cut out. So total measurement for the front back panel should be 14 1/2 by 11 3/4 inches.

Also cut a pocket. I've made mine 6 inches by 6 inches, but you can make it any size that suits. Remember the measurement has to include about a cm or so all around for the hem. Cut two:

Now you have to sew the pocket to one of the lining pieces. Sew it on the right side! I put the two pieces together, right side to wrong side, and iron a cm hem around - all around. Then pin it to your lining and use the machine to sew down the side, along the bottom, and up the other side. Leave the top open. I then hand stitch the inner bit to the lining. If you prefer, you could machine stitch the inner pocket piece to the lining, then sew the outer piece on. It doesn't matter what you do - I'm sure there are better ways, but this is what I've found works for me.

Now pin the sides of the lining in position as shown:
And the base. Pin the base corners to the side. Don't do what I have done here, and pin the base to the top so the pocket is upside down. I'll leave the picture as an example of what can go wrong!

So, having made sure the base is at the right end of the bag, with the opening of the pocket facing up the right way, sew the sides of the lining, but don't sew the base to the sides yet. When sewing, form a diagonal at the bit where the fabrics meet - it will be obvious. I sew up to this diagonal.

Now pin the other side in position. The lining is inside out - you can see the pocket (now correct way up!) inside the lining...
Once that's pinned, sew down the sides, to the diagonal formed, as before. Then sew across the bottom.

Making the straps

Cut two strips from your main fabric that are 7 cm by 56 cm. This allows for you to sling the bag over your shoulder. If you want thinner straps, make them a little thinner, but they are more fiddly to work with. Mine on this bag are just 5 cm wide, and they were a fiddle!

Iron them in half to get a fold line. Then iron a hem up each side. Allow about 1 cm for the hems - I've got about 6 mm in the pic (so it really doesn't matter, you just need the two hems!).

Now pin them together as shown, doing the same for both straps.
And machine stitch each close to the pinned edge. That's your straps done!

Finishing your bag
Keeping the bag inside out, but with the lining right side out, slip the lining inside the bag. So you have right side to right side:

Slip a handle inside each side, to sit between the lining and the bag. You should have two ends of the handle poking out on each side:
Ensure they are the same distance from the sides, and match up on both sides, otherwise they will look unevenly spaced. Secure each of these between the lining and outer fabric with a pin. Match up the side seams, and pin around the top of your bag.

Now sew around the top with the machine, but leave a 5 inch gap.

When you've sewn, pull the bag and lining through this gap.
You then pin and slip stitch the gap. Or you can do what I did and machine stitch (an overstitch) all around the top of the bag. It strengthens the handle areas, and gives a neat finish.
Good luck. And I'd love to see some results!

Sept 2008 edit: I know a lot of you are looking at this. Please do take a look at the pictures here of bags some of you have made after being inspired by the tutorial. It actually takes a long time to put a tutorial together, and I really would love to hear from anyone who has found it helpful, and if you can let me have a picture, I'd love to add more to my gallery! Or even, leave a comment - I love to find new blogs!