Friday, 9 September 2016

My Felt Cactus Crush

Sometimes, I am a late adopter. I fought the crochet craze for nearly forty years before giving in and then becoming addicted.

Now it is cacti. In felt. In pots. I love them but that hasn't always been the case. My parents had a beautiful real cactus bed in the 70s when we lived in Australia and I hated it. I didn't see the point. I thought that it was right up there with people who kept reptiles as pets. Or amphibians. I just didn't get it.

Well something had obviously changed because, me being me, I am very quickly becoming obsessed.  And I thought that you might like to become obsessed too so with that in mind, I have designed this little fellow for you.

The great news is that you need very little to make it. Aaaaannnndddd it is super easy!

Gather together-
-green felt. I have used a pure wool green melange because I am obsessed with that too.
-some pom pom trim (great way to use off cuts)
-polyester stuffing
-hot glue gun
-cute pot

This has no print out pattern so it will be a lot easier in a way. Make the template by drawing a rectangle about 8 cm x 13 cm and then rounding the top with a cup or something similar.

Cut out 6 pieces from your green felt...

Take two of them and place them together. You don't need to pin them because the felt fibres will grip a bit. Sew around the outside with a half normal seam...

Trim if necessary and repeat for the others. you now have 3 double units which will yield 6 'arms'.
Place the three units on top of each other and line them up well...

Clips work particularly well for this. You do need something this time to stop slipping. Those felt fibres are not THAT good!

Now lengthen the stitch on your machine and sew right up the middle....

Now it is time to get stuffing! Stuff each arm with your polyester stuffing until very full.

Use a pencil or a chopstick to really get the stuffing into the top.

Stuff the other arms too.

It is starting to look like a cactus now.

To be honest, you could leave it at that but I like the idea of flowers on the top. I wanted something different so I thought about pom pom trim pulled apart. This stuff...

Cut the little pom poms off and then hot glue them to the top of the cactus in a ring starting on each seam line....

Keep going until there is a ring....

From the top it looks like this...

Trim and make everything look natural. The next job is to pot the little guy into his new home.

Put it into your chosen container. And then back fill with gravel...

You can lift the cactus a bit as you fill to get the height that you are after.

And that's it! Apparently these cannot be killed by people who traditionally have a bit of bad luck with indoor plants. I am sure that I can do it but I will let you know. If it is a successful relationship, there may be more felt cacti in our future!

Thank you so much for stopping by. See you next time!
Love and hugs

Friday, 26 August 2016

Sweet Slippers

I am a little bit obsessed by slippers and house shoes at the moment. I know, I know, but believe me I have heard ALL of the ageist jokes from my son thank you very much! I would rather put it down to the oncoming Autumn (the season not my own....that was another one of his).

In the cooler months we seem to have a desire to hibernate and prepare ourselves and our houses for winter. This is my favourite time of the year and everything seems cosier. I love to sew as you possibly know by now and the excuse to sew something new is always a bit moment for a sewist.

Enter the slippers!

What do you think? Cute as a button and actually not all that hard to do. Now I usually shy away from sewing anything to fit a human because of sizing and fit. But these were something that I just had to try.

I have provided a basic pattern and I am a UK size 6. To make them smaller is easy. Make your seam allowances larger and fit them on, taking them in as you need to.
To make them larger, print the pattern off and then put your own foot over the sole and draw around it. See how much more room you need and draw it in using the pattern as a guide. 
My top tip is to make it larger than you need and then follow the principles of making the slipper smaller: fit and trim as you sew.

If you add to the sole, add the same to the upper. I have already added a seam allowance for you.

Here is the pattern anyway. The flat bit of the upper is cut on the fold as marked.

So what do we need?
- FQ fabric for the outer
- 30cm strip wool felt for the inner
-FQ Style-Vil foam interfacing (Vlieseline)
- cute buttons
-some sort of felt shape for embellishment - I have used a grey wool felt heart shape.
Your usual sewing needs.

Start by cutting your shapes. You will need four felt sole pieces, two felt uppers and and two fabric uppers. They will look something like this...

And this (sort of remind me of an William-the-Conqueror helmet but without the nose protection piece)....

See what I mean?

Start with the soles first. This is a good way to use those scraps of Style-Vil actually because you only need a piece slightly larger than the sole. take the sole and pin it to the foam interfacing...

Now sew all around the edge with a tiny, narrow seam (as titchy as you can get away with). This is just to keep the sole on the foam.

You can see how tiny that seam is. This way it will do the job but not get in the way of the other seams and cause uncomfortable ridges.

Trim the Style-Vil back to the felt shape like this...

Now make your next one. Now a word to the wise....make sure that you pay attention at this point. It is very easy to get caught up in the moment and make the soles both the same - 

They need to be mirror image! Don't laugh, it could happen to YOU! They need to look like this...

Anyway, make the two soles and then let's get started on the uppers. Take the upper fabric piece and the upper felt piece and place them right sides together and sew around the horseshoe shape in the middle only....

Now clip this curve so that it sits beautifully when it is turned the right way out. By the way, purists will argue that it should be notched in little 'v' shapes and this is perfectly true. This method reduces bulk. But to be honest, in this setting, it doesn't seem to matter. So just snip and save yourself the bother.

Repeat for the other one and then we will do the heels. Open the upper out and then with lining to lining and outer to outer (right sides together) sew the heel starting on the lining and sewing all the way down...

This feels fiddly and awkward but it is possible with some manipulation.

Notice how there is a curve? Preserve this as you sew because this forms the heel which will cling to your foot and stop the slipper from coming off as you walk.

Now turn the pieces the right way out and press the centre seam ready for topstitching. You can roll this between wet fingers to get it perfect.

Topstitch the slippers on both uppers.

Next, pin the uppers to the soles (right sides together) making sure that they sit well and they are not puckered. Use a LOT of pins because of the curves. Sew the upper to the sole....

Clip around the edge of the sole (no need to notch here either) and trim if needed.

Now this is no good because even though we have a slipper which will do the job, if you turn it the right way out, you will see that there are raw edges and this is very simple to fix. Enter the second piece of sole....

This is another fiddly job....still with the right sides together (if you turned it out to check what I meant about raw edges, turn it back again and pin the other piece of sole over the top, tucking and folding the upper out of the way as you pin. It may take some argument and may the strongest person win.

Sew around the sole with a normal seam allowance but this time, leave a gap somewhere for turning out...

I like to leave the gap on one of the straight bits near the bottom of my foot arch.

Turn out through the gap and poke everything so that it is correctly aligned. sew the gap closed with some very neat hand stitching. as you can see, you shouldn't be able to see where it is.

My gap is on the right hand side of the slipper about half way along. Felt is very good though and forgiving and if you keep your stitches small, you won't easily see them.

Repeat for the other slipper. The only thing left is to add your chosen embellishment and you are done! 

These are easy to make and they are cosy but light. I am already working on other designs for deepest winter.

Make a basket of these to keep by the front door for guests. this is actually done quite a lot in Germany where it is normal to remove your street shoes when you go into someone's house. This is not religious, merely to keep the person's home clean. 

Don't forget, you can find Vlieseline Style-Vil foam from Ph 01453883581

Well I will see you next time - off to make some more bags for my magazine articles now. Thank you for stopping by and I will look forward to hearing how you go making slippers!

Love and hugs

Friday, 19 August 2016

Reversible Bowl Covers - Foil those Flies!

When I started this blog, I vowed that I would do it regularly and not apologise like mad every time I missed one. Well THAT'S out of the window because I have just seen how long it has been since I posted for you. I am going to blame work which has been a bit hectic with two books coming out this year and 23 magazine articles for June/July alone. Must learn to say no. Will be practising a bit.
So let me begin by saying....sorry....will try to do better! Okay, that over with, when have I got for you this time?

I don't like flies very much. In fact, after having lived in Australia for forty years, most flies are personally on my hit list. I had hoped that moving to England would be better and it is, at least we don't have blowies here! Translation: blowies are blow flies. The sort of charming insect that will blow (lay maggots) on a woollen jumper if the weather is right. They cause havoc on sheep farms too, laying maggots in the skin of sheep and killing the sheep in a lot of cases. 

But let's not dwell. Here in um...sunny England, we just have the annoying small variety and I don't like them either. They sit on our food and god only knows what else. Surprisingly enough I was in Germany last week for a lovely visit with my family and we saw only one fly all week! I was well behaved too, it knew to stay out of the kitchen!

I was going to say cue British summer time but I didn't want you to cause yourself an injury laughing and to be honest, looking outside my window it doesn't look very summery at all. No flies either so this is a bit of a pointless post!

Well no matter, we know that we will have flies again one day and they will be looking to sit on our food and my mission is to stop them! So let's get making anyway and wait for the deluge. 
Perhaps I had better let you all know what I am talking about! These little bowl covers pop up from time to time on Pinterest and similar places and they are soooo handy and easy to make too. They are great for craft fairs and gifts. Best of all, they stop FLIES!!! And that makes them great in my book.

Although we will be measuring a bowl and making the pattern to fit it, there is some leeway to fit other bowls too so you can fairly safely make one for someone else and they will find/have a bowl to fit it. I also provide you with the maths so that you can cover everything: cue rather mad laughter.

And the best news is that we don't need too much stuff to make this Fat Quarter friendly project. You actually need far less that a fat quarter but for ease and so that everyone knows what is going on, I am using FQs. Either make a couple of covers or save the rest for later. 

The way it is lined makes it reversible too so if you get sick of one side, flip it over. Happy days.

You will need
-FQ of main fabric I have used some gorgeous fabrics from my big fabric crush - Art Gallery Fabrics.
-FQ of a second fabric for lining (yes pretty much everything that I make has to be lined. Don't worry, it's easy).
-FQ of a contrast for the edge/ elastic casing
-narrow flat elastic
-paper - this is to make the pattern
-your usual sewing needs

To begin with, choose a bowl and turn it upside down on your paper. Draw around the top edge....

Measure out about 2.5 cm (1") from the first ring and draw a second....

The easiest way to do this is to make a series of dots....

and then just join them up.
Now this measurement includes the seam allowance so you don't have to bother with that. Cut the circle out. Cut one from your main outer fabric....

Cut one from lining too and then with the wrong sides together, use a half normal seam to join the disks...

This is the top of the bowl. Step two is to cut the border. To do this, cut bias strips (like making bias binding) from your chosen fabric 6 cm (2 1/2") wide and iron in half lengthways.....

They have to be cut on the bias so that they will curve around the circle. You will need enough border to fit around the circle (maths to follow...). Join them to make a long strip.

I know that this sounds a lot but the circumference of a circle is a long way actually. For you nerds out there (and anyone wanting to make these covers for any other bowls and get the measurement right) you need to use the following formula multiply the diameter (in centimetres)by Pi. Easy as that. The diameter of my circle is 21 cm and so I have 21 x 3.14 (Pi). This means that I need 66 cm worth of border. No seam allowance is needed because we have the benefit of the bias which will move and stretch a bit.

Please don't be put off by the maths. It is very easy and it means that you can make covers for any of your bowls - not just mine!

Take this strip and pin it to the edge of the first circle using as many pins as necessary...

Sew the edge around.

Go slow and match beautifully and then press so that you have a bound edge. The binding is just extra wide to make a nice edge and admit the elastic.

Talking about the elastic, when you put the binding strip on, fold it over a bit and sew....

This takes the raw edge away when you are finished and makes it easy to sew up.
And by the way, his WON'T sit flat so don't waste your life trying to make it - trust me it's four hours you won't get back! This is actually what it looks like when it is pinned...

So if yours looks like this, you are on the right track so far.
Fold the binding over and hand sew it to the back to form a casing. I am not going to pretend that this isn't fiddly. Just stick at it and go slow. 

Now it is time to insert the elastic! I know...exciting right?! There is a gap where the binding begins and finishes...

use this gap to feed the elastic in and then hand stitch it closed.

Feed the elastic into the gap and around the edge, checking for a nice snug and gathered fit on the bowl. Trim the end of the elastic and sew securely. allow the elastic to hide inside the cover and close the gap by hand.

And there we go! I did say that it was easy didn't I. And it's reversible so if you get sick of one side or you fancy a change of mood....

Now all I have to do is to wait for summer to come - actually, I don't because these are great for keeping dust and bits out of the food too at any time of the year. I'm off to make more...maybe one for the Dogs' bowls....

I think that Daisy would approve!

See you next time and thank you for stopping by!