Saturday, 31 December 2011

The next challenge

So its New Years Eve agghh, where did 2011 go?  There are less than three hours left in this year and I'm a little bit sad about it :(  2011 has been a great year for us, we got our first grand baby, we purchased land and have designed our dream house (to be built early 2012) to go on it, we have watched our little baby grow into a lovely little boy, I have learned a wonderful new craft, that I am totally taken by and I found blogging and have just been amazed by how many creative, talented, generous people there are out there!  So if you are one of those wonderful, generous people who take the time to share their projects and skills with others THANK YOU so very much.  Now enough of the reminiscing and (glasses raised) here's to a fabulous 2012!

Getting to the title.... I am participating in another challenge hosed by the clever lasses Keren and Rikka over at sew la vie and ricochet and away.  This time around its the Naughty Notions Challenge, if you click on sew la vie it will take you straight there and you can read all about it or even sign up if your game!!!! 

So getting ready for the big challenge, I had a little practice today using this tutorial alifosterpatterns - clutch pattern and I am so happy how it turned out.  I obviously has no notions but as I said its just a practice and the challenge doesn't even start until tomorrow! 

Happy New Year to you all x

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bags - check, Cake - check, Christmas treats - maybe tomorrow!

So in my last post I shared with you my favorite fruit cake recipe.  I have since covered it with Almond Icing (yum) and White Icing and am now eagerly awaiting Christmas so I can eat it!  I decided on a very simple, understated (lazy) way to decorate this year.  I used my star shaped cookie cutter and marked the icing all over (not too deep that it cuts through to the cake though) then just wrapped a red ribbon around the bottom.  I am pretty happy with the result. 
I also covered my little cakes with the icing and made a single star imprint in the top.  I am not sharing a picture of those as yet because I have run out of ribbon and they are unfinished (ugly at the bottom).   I plan on putting one of these little cakes in each of the treat boxes that we give out at Christmas.  I generally make a few different truffles, peppermint, white choc and almond and mini puddings this year with gingerbread men and bite size pieces of mars bar slice (yum) and box them up for family and neighbours.  For the past four years I have made Rick go to the local Sushi place and ask them for some cardboard boxes to package them in but this year we came across four packs of red and white striped bowls for about $4 and grabbed some to put them in.  I hope they will look cute. 

My bag sewing is finished also (phew).  In the past two weeks I have sewn five bags for gifts.  Two were 'The Favorite Bag' by VandCo that I have posted about previously.  This is a pretty, simple little bag with a gorgeous little fabric flower.  Here are the two I made this time
And here are the three 'Nanna' presents I posted about previously (Safe to say they won't read this before Christmas as they don't have computers).  The pattern comes from 'The bag making bible' (love this book).

I think this one turned out best, might just keep it for myself  ;) JOKES! Will give it to my favorite! Ha

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Cooking up some Christmas Spirit

Well I've just had a very productive Saturday and am feeling a tad bit happy with myself!  Firstly I started making a Boiled Fruit Cake to decorate for Christmas.  If your after a good Fruit Cake recipe pay attention coz this one is the bomb!  My father used this recipe for my wedding cake and I have since pinched it and used it last year for our Christmas Cake and it was delicious!!  Here's last years effort -
So if your interested you'll need-
  • 850g mixed dried fruit
  • 3/4 cup glace' cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup crystallised ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbs treacle
  • grated rind from 1 orange
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup s/r flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
* note -  fruits and nuts can be changed to your liking as can spirits (I used white port in my small cakes)


         1.  Combine your dried fruits and nuts, butter, sugar, brandy and water in a saucepan and stir constantly over heat until your sugar has dissolved.  When boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins.

         2.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

         3.  If your saucepan is large enough just keep it in there, if not transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, treacle and orange rind and stir to combine.

     4.  Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.

       5.  Spread into greased and lined cake pan and bake in 150C (130 fan forced) oven for 2.5 hours or until cooked.

    I also made a quarter batch for extra little cakes.
    Now I best get into gear and decorate these because I am quickly running out of time!  One week today AGGGHH!

    While my cakes were cooking I sat at my machine and started a few gifts for the Nannies.  The are going to be 'The versatile book bag' bags from my Lisa Lam 'The bag making bible' made out of Amy Butler fabrics and some linen and canvas.  Will show the finished products in my next post and perhaps my Christmas Cake if it turns out any good! ;)

      Sunday, 4 December 2011

      Christmas is a-comin!

      Today I started my Christmas wrapping, admittedly I only have three presents to wrap at this stage but I started nevertheless!  So I just thought I'd share with you how it's going to be under our tree (when it gets put up) this year. 

      I grabbed some cheap wrapping paper from good ole Kmart today and made a teensy little start on it.  I cut up some cardboard (was from the middle of wrapping paper actually) and used my stamps and ink and ribbon and these cute little snowflake embellishments i got from Spotlight last year and offcuts of wrapping paper to make my gift tags.  Oh and a little bit of glitter glue.


      I think they are looking pretty cute so far and the best bit is they didn't cost me anything as everything I used was already in my cupboards.  What's it going to be for your gifts this year?

      I feel I should explain my slackness in the Christmas Tree department!  We like to put it up together in our house and to find time with three people who work shift work and a toddler who goes to bed at seven every night and still has a day sleep is very difficult.  Add to that we had our Christmas Dinner for work on Thursday night and a Graduation at the other end of the State for my sister on Friday Night, it just hasn't happened.  Tomorrow is the day though, I'm putting my foot down!! 

      Speaking of my sisters Graduation, she looked just gorgeous, didn't she?!
       And while I'm at it here are a couple more pics from the night
      Rick and I

      My beautiful Mumma and I
      Right that's about it for now, I hope your all doing better in the Christmas preparations than me :)

      Tuesday, 29 November 2011

      My Entry for the 'Solids-Only Tote Challenge' and how I made it

      A front and back view 

      A look inside at the pockets.  A flat slip pocket one side and a zippered pocket the other 
       And one of me posing with it (to get an idea of the size, not at all because I like photos of myself!)
      Now if you care to see an overview of the process, continue reading-

      I cut the strips of yellow and white 8cm x the width of the drill (1m wide)  and one grey strip 13cm by the width of the drill (1m again).  I then sewed each to each other with a quarter inch seam.

       Once I had sewed all the strips, I cut the back and front piece from it.
       I satin stitched on my little fishy (that seemed to take forever to handstitch all that white on!) I placed it about 5cm from the right hand side as I was going to box the base of the bag and didn't want it too close to the edge.
       I ironed on some woven interfacing (medium) then placed (and pinned) the front and back pieces right sides together and stitched along the sides and bottom.

      I pinched the bottom corners so that the seams met and marked where the width was 3 inches (sorry to jump around with the measurements but my quilting ruler is in inches) and stitched across to form the boxed base. I then trimmed off the triangles and turned it out the right way.

       I measured the width of the bottom (14inches), then pleated the top to measure the same.
       I just marked the centre and worked either side of that to get even pleats on the front and back pieces.  I stitched across the pleats to keep them in place.
       I decided a tab with a magnetic snap would be best for the closure.  I used some offcuts of the body fabric and followed the instructions to insert the snaps.  I stitched a box around it.
       I used some heavy iron on interfacing.  I sewed around the three sides of the closure, right sides together then turned right side out and iron well.
       I lined up where the snap would go on the front piece of main body and inserted it, using heavy interfacing to cover it and stitched a box around it also.

      Now for the lining-
      I cut two 17inch squares and inserted a zippered pocket on one piece and a slip pocket on the other.  I did this by following instructions in my book 'The Bag Making Bible' by Lisa Lam this is a super great book if your into making bags.  The pockets worked out perfectly!

      I then placed the two pieces RST and stitched the sides and the bottom (I did the bottom twice for extra strength).  I made the boxed base as I did the outer fabric.  I then marked in 1 1/2 inches from each side on the top edge and drew a line from the side (about 5 inches up from the boxed corners at the bottom) to the top.  Then stitched along this line. I did place the lining inside the outer to make sure it fit well before I trimmed it.

      Now all that I had to do was make the handles.  I was going to make a single handle from one side to the other but decided the bag would better suit two shorter handles.  I measured a supermarket re-useable bag handle (as this was about the length I wanted).  It was about 23inches long.  I cut 2 of each yellow and grey pieces that measured 25 inches by 3 inches and 2 white pieces 25 by 2 inches.  I then stitched one grey to a white then yellow onto the other side of the white.  I then repeated this for the other handle. I ironed the seams open.
       I folded this in half long ways (wrong sides together) and ironed.  Then I open this and folded both sides into the middle and ironed.  I then closed up the initial fold again.  Repeat this for the other handle.  I then stitched (less than quarter inch) down each side of the closed up strip
       Now I have all my pieces, it's time to assemble.
       I folded down the top edges on my lining and the main bag body (about 1/2 inch) and ironed.  I placed the lining inside the main bag body and marked where I wanted the handles (near my pleats) and pinned the handles to the folded over top edge and stitched back and forth a few times to secure (removing it again from the outer bag body obviously). I did this on both sides.
      I then put it back inside and pinned around the entire top edge, placing my closure tab in between the lining and the main body on the back of the bag in the centre. (making sure the two pieces of the magnetic snap lined up)
       I stitched all the way around the top edge and it was finally finished!

      Wow there was a whole lot of 'I' in this post!  Hope you enjoyed reading about my bag and if you want to make one that it is clear enough to follow!

      Thursday, 24 November 2011

      I love a challenge

      I am super excited (scared) to be participating in my first sewing challenge.  Its the Solids-only Tote Challenge being hosted by Rikka from Ricochet and Away and Keren from Sew La Vie you can check it out here and when the entries are in (after November 30th) head over to check out the wonderful bags created (there are some super talented people participating).

      Back to me being excited (very frightened) to be doing this, I have left myself one week to design and sew my entry!  I want it to be a bag that will scream SUMMER! and I want it to be made from my latest favorite color combo, yellow, white and grey, so pretty together! to have a few cute little pleats for detail and lastly I want it to be a bag big enough for a trip to the pool but not completely out of place for a trip to town shopping.  You think I can accomplish all that? Probably not, but it can't hurt to try!  So I made a little start yesterday, here are some pictures so you can see where I'm at thus far

      I cut out some strips of drill, I had in my ever growing pile of fabric.  I made the grey (to go at the bottom) wider so as it covers the bottom and also comes up the sides a little (we don't want a dirty bottom!).  I have then pinned and sewed each strip until I have this
      I did the whole 100cm wide strips so that when I sew the front to the back the edges will match up (I'm still no good at keeping that perfect 1/4 inch seam) so this is my fabric folded as I have not as yet cut it or even decided on what to applique!  I am thinking something beachy, thoughts people?
      Right now, I'm off to work on my bag, aaahhhhh!

      Monday, 14 November 2011

      Easy little gift pouch

      I'm back and I've got an easy little pouch how-to for you, if your interested.  It was my sisters Birthday last weekend and I got her an art deco ring online.
      Unfortunately the ring didn't turn up in time for her actual Birthday (Sorry Brodes) but it's here now and I was wondering how I was going to wrap it.

      IDEA! I will make a pouch for it!  I looked online for an easy pattern but all were too complicated and had drawstrings.  I decided I would just grab some felt and experiment.

      Here's what it turned out like

      I cut a rectangle of black felt to about 18cm x 10cm (7x4 inches).  This was a good size to fit my ring when folded into a pouch.

      I then used a little wooden shape of a scotty dog to trace around 

      I then stitched along the line using a simple backstitch

      I then folded the felt and sewed up the two sides leaving about an inch at the top to be folded over as the top flap.  I then marked where the button needed to be sewn and sewed it on, duh! (this quite clearly is not the original pouch I made because it's kinda lacking the doggie.  Confession - I forgot to take pics of some steps, hence I had to redo!)

      I then grabbed some pretty ribbon and sewed it around the sides and top edge.
      Finally I had to make a loop to secure the top shut.  I used black cord and sewed it to the top in line with the button.
      And the finished product
      I quite like it and I hope she will too!