Made by me gifts

When I have the time, I really like to make my own gifts rather than finding something at the shop.  As well as being thrifty (sometimes) and creative (sometimes!), I like to think the time, effort and love that went into the gift is more than it would be if I’d bought the gift and… it means I don’t have to go near a mall – a huge bonus for me!

Christmas is usually crunch time with many many gifts to make, buy, think of.  This past Christmas, I managed to make quite a few of the family gifts for the women (women are so much easier than men!) and my go to idea was a zipper pouch.  I made some in cotton Shwe Shwe off cuts and then also some in a cream canvas that I had hand printed with the girls previously as part of an “art project”.

The pouches are all lined (sorry no picture). The Shwe Shwe ones are lined in bright green cotton and the hand print ones are lined in PUL left over from my nappy making.

The pattern is basically one that I’ve figured out as I went along but there are hundreds of tutorials out there and I particularly like the ones by Ros from Sew Delicious because they are clear with great pictures and it looks like she’s made a few thousand pouches in her time!

When I started running out of time and energy for sewing zipper pouches (and realised that my family has increased in size since I’ve returned to South Africa!), I fortuitously came across some plain canvas shopping bags.  I them snapped up and had lots of fun making hand prints with the girls.  I did consider trying to be a bit more creative (I’ve seen fun versions where hands are turned into owls, feet into butterflies etc) but my artistic skills weren’t going to extend that far.

Here’s little B demonstrating how it’s done: 

The gifts were very well received and I had fun putting them together.  Now for ideas for this year…?

Message Tree Baby Quilt

DSCN2747For friends of ours’ new baby I attempted my first quilt.  I definitely don’t claim to be a quilter so this was quite an interesting undertaking.  But I kept it simple and quite enjoyed the journey.  I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

At the baby shower BBQ, I got their friends to write notes to the yet-to-arrive-baby or soon-to-be-parents on fabric leaves that I had pre-cut out.  I then assembled it at home.  The leaves and tree trunk fabric were bits from my scrap stash, the front is an old duvet cover and the backing, edge fabric and batting are from Remnant Warehouse.  I must say a huge thank you to the very helpful ladies at Remnant Warehouse who gave me a crash course in quilting while I was buying the fabric.

I first eassembled the layers (back fabric, batting and front fabric) careful to leave enough of an edge that I could cut off to straighten once it was all put together.  I stitched straight across in a hash pattern.  I first tried this with my machine but it started getting bunched up in places so I did quite a few of the stitch lines by hand.

Next I ironed applique interfacing (double sided) to the leaves and trunk and trimmed the edges. Then the big assembly came with putting the trunk and leaves onto the quilt and making sure I ironed them all securely in place. I kept the edges of the pieces raw and then straight stitched or zigzagged around each leaf and the tree trunk. The final step was putting the binding on.  I made 2.5 inch straight binding (doesn’t need to be on the bais because it’s going around a square!) and used a nifty technique to sew it on: fold the binding in half and sew the raw edge aligned with the raw edge of the quilt. Then fold the doubled up binding over the edge and stitch in the ditch to secure in place.

And ta dah!  my first quilt – a highly personalised message tree sending so much love and adoration to the new little one.




Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!

The Story of the Pearl Coat


I made this coat a while ago for my sister as a birthday present.  I found a pattern that I liked in the Simplicity 2508 Project Runway pattern and bought a gorgeous turquoise wool/cashmere outer fabric and magenta silk lining from Tessuti.  It was a VERY ambitious project and probably the most expensive thing I have ever made given the amount and cost of the fabrics.  With my sister and I living on opposite sides of the world, I made a toile and sent it over to her for comment.  She said “It’s great!” – which was not entirely helpful but kept me going.

pattern and button

I put the whole thing together and made a few mistakes along the way – mistakes that seem so obvious now that I’ve made my Ziggi.  But I managed to fix most of the errors – some of which required nifty use of bias binding and ‘feature’ fabric in the lining but it all turned out ok. To finish it off, I found these beautiful buttons at Buttons Buttons Buttons here in Sydney – what a treasure trove for button lovers!  I was pretty proud of the end result and delivered it to  my sister with pride on a holiday in mid-summer so the coat didn’t venture out for another 6 months.

When Dahling Sister did finally wear it, she said it was lovely and she got nice compliments from friends.  But I still wasn’t convinced because I hadn’t seen any real evidence of her in the coat.  On another visit to see her (again in hot, non-coat weather), I asked her to try it on for me and I was horrified to see that it didn’t fit properly at all. It was way too big and the shoulders just looked silly.  It looked like she was borrowing her big sister’s coat…which I guess she was.  So I promptly told her she couldn’t have it any more and I took it back so that I could get some wear out of it.  She did agree that it was for the best because the fun-lovin’ Pearl coat just wasn’t getting out enough. So back to Sydney it came (well travelled coat!) and now with the cold weather we’ve been having, I’ve been getting a lot of wear out of her!

coat detailsI’m sad that my DS didn’t get her birthday coat, but very happy that I now have a new winter coat and that the Pearl coat gets her day in the sun…or cold as the case may be.

Now that I’m wearing the coat I’m also noticing other errors that are clearly beginner mistakes. But I suppose there’s no better way of learning than just going for it!  For example the sleeve tabs are going the wrong way – they should be going over the sleeve not under the sleeve. This is an easy fix with the move of the a button.  I also don’t like how the hem turned out and wonder if my catch stitching on the inside wasn’t quite up to scratch.

But on the whole I’m pretty proud of this coat – my first outer wear garment, first attempt with thick woollen fabric and my first fully lined coat or jacket. She’ll get lots of wear if the weather stays cold like this and I’ve definitely learned lots for my next coat.

Pearl coat inside

The inside…you can see a sliver of the ‘feature’ fabric (aka ‘fixing a boo-boo’ fabric) along the bottom.

Pearl coat 1I quite like the raglan sleeves and square collar.

Pearl coat collar

Pattern: Simplicity 2508. I chose the square collar and a length that just covers my butt.

Fabric: Turquoise wool/cashmere blend and magenta silk lining from Tessuti.

Alterations: None planned but a few ‘fix-it’ alterations

Do it again: I’m not going to rush into making another although I do like the pattern.  I think my next coat should be something different.

Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to hear from you.

A Sorbetto Top for Mom

Sorbetto mom2

Earlier this year when I was visiting my mom, I was itching to sew so I raided her (very meagre) fabric stash.  I found a skirt that she had bought because she liked the fabric but it had been folded up too long in the store and had ripped along a fold line on the first wear.  She had been saving in the hopes of fixing it.  But I took one look at it and said “No, way!  It wants to be a top.”  I printed off Colette’s Sorbetto pattern and away I went.

I cut a size that matched my mom’s bust measurements and added a bit of length as I had found mine too short and sewed it up. I had just enough fabric to get it in.  I left in a bit of a hurry so I left my mom with the job of hemming it – but she did a stellar job and look at the great result! I’m pretty chuffed with the repurposing of a skirt that was destined for the bin.  Now she just needs some warm weather so she can wear it.

Pattern: Sorbetto by Colete Patterns

Fabric: Repurposed skirt made of a lightweight floral polyester blend

Alterations: Added some length to the top

Do it again?: I think there’s always room for another Sorbetto…when summer comes around again