A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: birds

This little project bag featuring this stunning peacock print is a very useful item for any crafter. It’s the perfect size for making socks on the go and the thick canvas material doubled up means that there should be no danger of your needles working themselves through the bag and getting lost. This is also my entry for the Hillary’s Country Crafts competition– Hillary’s Blinds supplied this rather fabulous fabric. I think if I were to do this again, I would use a contrast lining and perhaps a bright blue binding. This is more elegant and understated than the things I usually make!


It even stands up on its own! I was inspired by this project here but I made a few changes. The bag is fully reversible, formed of an outer bag and lining bag stitched together.

You will need:

  • 4 12×12″ squares of fabric. I think 2 in a main colour and 2 for a contrast lining would look great. Or patchwork squares! I also think a lighter lining would help the drawstring action.
  • Ribbon or bias binding for the tie (less than 1m)

Finished bag is about 8″ tall with a 6″ square base. You can alter the bag to be any size, just ensure that the squares you cut from the bottom corners in Step 1 are 1/4 of the total width of the fabric. Unless otherwise stated, use a 1/4″ (0.75cm) seam allowance


1. Cut a 3″ square from the bottom corners of each square of fabric. I made a little template from scrap paper to ensure mine were even.


2. Choose the two squares that will form your outer bag. With right sides facing, stitch along the bottom seam, then the two side seams. Repeat with the other two (lining) pieces.


3. Press all your seams open. You will now create the corners in both bags.

4. Take one of your corners with the square removed and open it so that the two seams now meet in the middle. You’re going from this


…to this


5. Stitch across this edge.


Repeat with the other three corners. You will have two bags that look something like this. 20140330-222538.jpg

6. Now we assemble. Have your outer bag with the right side facing in. Put your lining bag inside it with the right side facing out, i.e. right sides together. Line the seams up carefully and trim the top edges if they’re a bit wonky. You could see in Step 2 that mine needed a trim.

Stitch around the top raw edge, sewing the two bags together. Leave a 3″ gap so you can pull both bags through so they’re the right way around. Once you pull the bags through the gap, you will have this


7. Press the seam at the top so it’s nice and neat. Top stitch to close the gap you left for pulling.

8. Mark a line 1″ down from the top edge. You will top stitch this line to create a channel for the drawstring.


8. Carefully snip open one of your side seams between the two top stitched rows. You will feed your drawstring through this gap. Attach a safety pin to your ribbon to make the process easier. I always find this step annoying!


9. Feed the ribbon all the way through the channel and stick a fork in it, you’re done! You actually could store forks in here if you wanted.



I’m rather pleased with these cute cabled owl cuffs, my first knit of the new year. The pattern is available for free here.

I made them using some lovely chunky yarn from Wool and the Gang. They’re nice and soft and quite a quick knit on Size 6 needles. Because I only had a circular in this size, I had to use the magic loop method. I find it cumbersome and annoying but the gloves came out nicely. Another GIF here.

The eyes really bring out the owl.


This skirt is the second item from the Sewing Shiz with my Mum series. Mum and I were both anxious about making the first garment using this fabric as we didn’t want to ruin it.


Overall, I’m really pleased. I haven’t worn it yet because mum’s lost the buttonhole foot for her sewing machine so it can’t be fastened. I’m going to hand-sew the buttonhole, and I’ve also made a special button (post coming soon) but am putting off starting as I’m worried I’ll destroy the skirt with my ham-fistedness.

Anyway, this isn’t a real how-to again as we didn’t use a pattern, just my mother’s dressmaking expertise. I bought 1.5 metres of fabric as I didn’t know how much we’d need. We only used about half in the end, so I’m on the look-out for a pattern for a little summery blouse to use up the rest.

Fabric cut out

This is what I cut out. We eventually decided that I would make a fitted skirt, so we cut it just larger than my hip measurement plus a seam allowance. I then cut one of the sections in half for the back.


I put four 1.5″ darts into the skirt. Doing darts is such a pain!

The back

I hemmed the back section, leaving the top open for the zip and the bottom open for the slit.

I then put the zip in. Mum has a breadbin full of zips (don’t ask. I’m going to nominate her for the next Channel 4 documentary on hoarders) which included some rather cool ones from the 80s, so I decided to leave the zip exposed. I basted carefully, then used the zip foot to put it in.

Side seams

I sewed up the side seams, which is when I added the shaping. After trying the skirt on, I took in the top so it fit a bit better, and also the bottom to make it more fitted.


The lining had a double function- as well as ensuring that no one will see my bum when I have the skirt on, it will hopefully take some pressure off the slit at the back, making it less likely to rip.

First we cut the lining. It only had one seam, at the back. I was horrified to discover that I had to put darts into the lining so it would match the skirt.

Lining basted at waist band

Here is the lining, basted inside the skirt. I never baste neatly because I am lazy. You can see the folded pleat on the right, which lines up with the dart in the main fabric and leans the opposite way so it won’t look bulky.


I cut out about 4″ of fabric for the waistband…

Iron interfacing to waistband

…ironed on some interfacing…

Iron waistband

…then carefully ironed it in half.

Then it was time for more basting, then attaching and top-stitching the waistband.

I’m very pleased with how the skirt came out, though it’s now been several weeks and I still haven’t worn the skirt as I’m too scared to sew the buttonhole! I’ll reserve that task for next time I have a spare hour or so for craft.

Here it is on, ignore my weird facial expressions. It’s a problem.

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I will definitely post about the bird print skirt I made soon, just waiting to finish my latest roll of film. In the meantime, here’s the button I made to complement the print.5 Baked Bird fabric close-up

I’m quite pleased with it. The bird turned out to be harder to make than I’d thought, but there’ll be a big cross of thread in the centre so it doesn’t matter too much. It’s good enough.

I started out by sketching a few designs for my button. I wanted it to be about 2cm in diameter, though it turned out a bit larger.

Designs under glass

Of course I selected the most complex one.

1 BG with 3 leaves

I’ve never lost my fascination for things glowing green in the dark, so I flattened a sphere of glowing Fimo for the background.

The leaves were very thin ovals of green that I pinched and then laid carefully on the background. I pressed everything down quite firmly to reduce the risk of bits falling off once baked.

2 Leaves with veins


For the veins, I rolled tubes of Fimo as thin as humanly possible, trimmed off the ends with a craft knife and then positioned them as accurately as I could manage.

3 Bird attaching red border


The bird was an incredibly thin piece of grey Fimo. I did the final shaping and trimming on my hand (possibly not advisable, always exercise caution with craft knives!) so it would be easier to lift off with the blade of my knife and position.

All the squishing and squashing meant that my button wasn’t quite round anymore, so I trimmed it by eye before rolling a long tube of red Fimo and attaching the border. The end bit is always tricky to line up and never quite looks perfect.

4 With holes


Cayleigh had bought some clay sculpting tools for Fimo purposes. The sharp tool you can see in the background had a small tube of plastic to protect it and I used this to create the holes in the button.


I bake all my Fimo at about 20 degrees lower than recommended, for longer, to reduce the risk of scorching.

I’m not sure how suitable Fimo is as a button material. I varnished my button once it was dry, paying particular attention to the holes. I hope this will help to protect the button from the friction of the thread rubbing against it.

For some reason I’ve been inspired to knit recently, even though I normally reserve my knitting for autumn and winter. While seeking needles to do my first ever provisional cast on, I remembered that my favourite ever sewing project was my needle roll. Here it is.

Opened up

The fabrics all came from my mum’s large, varied and random fabric stash. This roll really is a brilliant way of keeping your straight needles in one place and takes up very little space. I used the pattern from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch. Here it is rolled up.


I particularly love this duck fabric.


I spotted it straight away as what I wanted for the main colour. When I told mum, she told me she’d originally bought it to make a dress for me when I was a baby. My tastes clearly haven’t changed at all in the past quarter of a century!

I am the proud owner of possibly the world’s most expensive mug. But I’m very pleased with it, so it was totally worth it. That’s what I keep telling myself. This design was inspired by a very beautiful card I received for my 25th birthday.

I started out by drawing the outline onto the mug in pencil, which gets burnt off in the kiln.

Next, I painted the background. I think it would have looked nicer to sponge it- this would have given a more even pattern. But then the other colours would have been messed up if they’d gone over blue. It proves it’s handmade!

I then used my friend meandjd’s dotting tool to add polkadots.

The next step was the first coat of colour on each bird.

Next, I added detail to the first coat of paint. I used the same colour, which is meant to add depth of colour (though this didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped once fired).

My next step was to paint the flowers, which are based on the Mario fire flowers I had as a bouquet for my friend’s wedding. I also added outlines to the birds, mainly to cover any messy overlap between the colours. Lucky meandjd had a really fine brush!

I added a few more details and then, about eight hours later, it was time to turn my precious mug over to the professionals for firing.

I always add a little something to the back of my painted ceramics.


I’ve been meaning to make a lattice notice board for ages, so now that I have time (thank you, summer holidays) and motivation, I thought I would go for it. Here is the finished item.

I must say, without a shred of modesty, that I am very pleased with how it turned out.

If you’d like to make one, you will need:

  • A large empty photo frame. A cork board or similar would also do nicely. You don’t need the glass. Mine was 50x70cm.
  • Wadding/batting. I used 2oz/1/4inch thick stuff that I bought on eBay. It needs to be about 15cm larger than your frame, so I used about 65x85cm.
  • Fabric. Go crazy here. Needs to be about 25cm larger than your frame, so I used 75x100cm.
  • Ribbons in complementary colours. I used about 10m of ribbon in total.
  • Upholstery nails. These are also knows as furniture nails or tacks. I got these from eBay as well and used about 30.
  • Straight pins
  • Strong glue or a staple gun

As a note, though using an old picture frame worked very well, getting the furniture nails through the back board without proper tools was extremely difficult. It was also a bit difficult to get the backboard back into the frame once it had all the wadding etc on it. I would recommend cutting out a piece of reinforced cardboard, craftboard, corkboard or similar to avoid this difficulty, though it is not insurmountable. Making the board 5mm smaller than the original backboard would also help.

Step 1: The batting

Cut your batting to the correct size so there is a 4cm-ish border around your board. Then glue or staple the overlap to the back of the board like so.

ImageStep 2: Jeremy Irons

Pretty self-explanatory!


Step 3: The fabric

Cut your fabric to the correct size- so there is a 7cm-ish border around your board and then glue or staple it down.

ImageStep 4: The ribbon

Flip the board. Begin placing your ribbon in a pattern you like. I took ages doing this, and measuring helped to make sure they were even.ImageOnce you have them placed as you wish, pin them down with straight pins. This will be important later! You can also do some basic weaving to make the lattice look even cooler and help keep the ribbons in place.ImageDon’t stress about the ribbons too much as it’s not too late to add more later if you wish.

Step 5: Things get tacky

Once you’re happy, you can begin pushing tacks through the intersections of the ribbons. Place carefully…Image…then push throughImageThe pictures make it look easy, but as I said at the beginning, beware of doing this with a wooden backboard. I took a picture of my hands afterwards and it ain’t pretty!

Anyway, this is how it starts to look. Don’t remove your straight pins yet!

ImageStep 6: Tie up the loose ends

Once you’ve finished with the tacks, flip the board again. If the pointy bits are sticking through the back, you might want to cover them up to make it more user-friendly. I cut up small pieces of cork, but you could use plasticene or something similar.

Now, secure the ends of the pieces of ribbon however you wish- I used a combination of glue, pins and tape. Those suckers won’t be moving any time soon!ImagePull the ribbon gently and make sure you follow it around the board so that it lies nice and flat.

Step 7: You’ve been framed!

Shove… I mean carefully place the board back in to the frame, step back and admire your handiwork , you crafty thing!