Month: July 2013

Ear Phone Pouch of Awesomeness: an honest-to-goodness tutorial.

ear phone pouch tutorial picture

Howdy! What’s that you say? You have a few tiny scraps of luscious fabric and your earphones are constantly in a tangle of wiry chaos? Ah-ha! I have the solution. Or rather, an old issue of Craftseller Magazine does. I was looking for tiny things to add to my stall at the recent Craft Fair of Doom and thought these were too cute to pass on.

party dresses for girl and doll at craft fair display craft fair table craft fair table display doll hair accessory

You can just about see the ear phone pouches emerging from the yards of tull I used for the party dress…

ANYWAY! The instructions in the magazine were all written, you know, in words, and I like a few photos. I like to work my way through instructions without reading letters if I can possibly manage it so here we go, my first photo tutorial!

1: Cut out your circles of fabric: you will need a) outer fabric plus interfacing b) lining c) a zip and optional d) a hanger thingy. With a claw. Use the bottom of a large mug or small bowl to get a diameter of around 11cm – experiment please! Or look at the free tutorial by Dog Under My Desk who has proper photographs and everything. Her technique for lining is different though. I used a much smaller zip,  only 10cm long so I don’t have to trim anything off.


2. Place your zip right side up on top of one of the lining fabric circles, also right side up. I know, sounds crazy but trust me!

purse making tutorial step one: zip over lining material

Step 1: zip on top of lining, right side up.

Stitch down the *right* hand side, where the two long straight lines are matching up. On you go. Use a fairly short stitch length so it’s not too gappy and if you have one, a zipper foot is your friend. I’m assuming that you want to stitch just a couple of milimetres away from the zip here.

3. Now put a layer of the Outer Fabric (with interfacing) face down on top of it, straight lines matching up. You’re going to stitch in the same place my lovely.

Outer fabric is placed face down over the zip & lining.

Outer fabric is placed face down over the zip & lining.

Now, if you like you can use pins to keep the layers together. Normally I don’t bother but we all know how tricky zips are so… pin away. And in a funny direction so you can remove them gently.zipper foot allows sewing close to the side of a zip

4. Once you have the top and lining attached on one side of the zip, fold them back on themselves so you have them facing right side out: Top stitch down next to the zip, to keep them in their place.

Completed top
earphone pouch top layer with zip inserted.

Completed top

Repeat for the opposite part of the zip and you have a top! What I would do next is stitch across the top of the zip, tacking it together for attaching the tab. What’s a tab? Well, it’s this.

5. Make a hanging tab: cut out a square of fabric, interface if you like, and then fold opposite sides in once to the centre. Then fold in half again, so the two folded edges meet. Stitch down the folded sides and it’ll look like this:

To make a tab, fold a square of fabric inwards twice and stitch down each side.

Now slide your chosen hanger onto the tab and fold in half. You can stitch the ends if you like, to stop it slipping off but in the very next step you’ll see why that’s not essential.

6: Place the top on top of the right side of your pouch top, pointing in towards the middle of the zip, et voila! Stitch along the end to keep it in place and you have a handy-hanger-thingy for your pouch.

how to place the hanger tab on earphone pouch top piece

7: Now pay close attention: Make sure your zip is half open. Take your outer fabric base and put it face down on top – like so:

place outer fabric base face down on top of assembled zip piece

Stitch all the way around having made sure that your zip is still half way down.

8: Now turn it over so this is what you see (I know, I love the yellow polka dots too). Now put the lining fabric base on top, sewing along the same line as your outer fabric.

Outer fabric top is attached, alternate view: Make sure the zip is half way down!

Stitch all around apart from a gap of around 2.5cm/one inch where you’re going to turn it through.

lining piece of ear phone pouch

(Note: I had to take this later because I *always* forget about the gap…

9: Now you will have this: trim off the excess lengths of zip and the fabric in a few mm but not too close to the stitches. If you have time, you can notch the edge so it turns more smoothly. Carefully feed the purse through the small gap so it turns inside out.

earphone pouch turned through gap in lining showing area to be hand stitched shut.

10: Hand stitch the gap closed and turn right side out for your Ear Phone Pouch of Awesomeness and have at least one less grapple with technology on your morning commute!

completed ear phone pouch with hook attachment hanger and zip, fully lined with no ugly bits inside.

I hope you’ve enjoyed that – please do ask questions or comment on the abysmal quality of my prose and photographs below. Happy Friday!



Magazine Review: Sewing World

So this morning I have in my rather hot little paws a copy of Sewing World magazine: I’ve only skimmed the contents so can’t review in detail just yet but I certainly will tomorrow – there are at least three or four projects I’d like to try. It’s looking good though – uncluttered, clear and firmly focused on the fabric side of things (no recipes of macaroons or papier mache owls for example…)

Can’t wait to spend a few hours with it and report back to you!

Forties films: a whole new reason to watch

I was watching TV while I tidied up, an early Hitchcock film was on and I noticed something: the clothes.

This one on the younger daughter caught my eye because its similar to something I’m making for Wee Bear just now!

Even the ‘dowdy’ older mother is smartly dressed: she always wears an apron when cooking or cleaning. I couldn’t get photographs of them (yes, I’m such a technopeasant I just took photos of the screen) but they were proper full aprons.

The main character Charlie had by far the prettiest clothes of course: I like the fluttery chiffon sleeves on this blouse, even though I need a bit more kettle bell work before I’m happy with my arms being seen in public.

Although it’s a bit smart for me, I can see this blouse & skirt working really well for a vintage look in the office! What do you think?

Life is Messy II: order out of chaos. Sorta.

So in one child-free afternoon I went from *this*

To this:

The large crate full of cotton scraps is a slightly better organised crate (& on top of *cough* the other crate of silk & satin scraps elsewhere… Yes my bedroom. I am so in dire need of a separate sewing room it’s crazy. Or – crazy alert – I could use up my scraps and/or do a giveaway. Anyone interested? Maybe a few satin doll dresses?! Oh dear, planning my next project but three already!

You can see I’ve organised it by function (I hope): almost in order of sewing need, so I will go from top to bottom. To keep sharp/pointy/stabby tools away from Wee Bear, paper patterns are at the bottom, along with a drawer I hope to empty in short order – the unfinished purses etc.

I even separated the bulk bags of lace scraps I bought on eBay & paired them up! I’m feeling excited about using them as doll dress trims etc!

If you’d like a similar unit – or the same – I bought mine from Hobbycraft where they have free & fairly rapid delivery as well as the best price on the Internet. Now to go back & order some of their cute craft kits for Wee Bear and paper edging scissors!

Life is Messy: organising the sewing chaos

So after a really super intense week of sewing before the Craft Fair (where I sold one pair of shoes & one doll! Nothing I made this week!) this is the mess left behind:

And even worse:

I’m not feeling particularly inspired to sew or do anything with all that lying around.

This afternoon, it’s all going into this:

And later on I will share how I have categorised my materials. Living on.the.edge. Right?

Accountability #1. A different blog

I thought i would share this on my main ‘home’ blog, in case it is something that you’re interested in. It’s personal in a way that only overweight women (who are unhappy with their weight) are likely to really understand. If you’d like to keep me company as I fight the food fight & build my muscles up, there’s a wee link in the text.

Accountability #1
Today is the first day of this blog’s actual life because I have one month to go and I love a deadline.

My knee hurts. My left foot is killing me. I’m almost 41 and although I’ve been eating clean for months now *once I stopped listening to Slimpod and stopped feeling like I had to eat constantly – NB not the normal slimpod experience!* I’ve not dropped much body fat. There’s a few reasons for that and most of them are sweet potato shaped. Hey, compared to the TONS of crap I was eating in the last twenty years January that’s nothing. What happened?

I did a sugar fast. A detox. I followed the very approximate modified version of the 21 day sugar detox and I thought I was going to die or at least fall over. Even though I was still eating a ton of tofu *now I’m not!! I’m eating fish ma! real honest to goodness animal… oh right.*

I’ve honestly only in the last week felt like i had the energy to think about exercising, although that might’ve been staying up late at night sewing too… (I made a version of this!)

Chloe Party Dress: sooo cute.

So. ONE THING AT A TIME is my new motto. I would go insane only actually doing one thing at all so I’m limiting myself to one thing of each kind of thing, do you see?

Alignment 1: Stand with my feet straight and hips level (I swing my right one forward). To do this every 20 minutes. Aided by…

Therapy 1: Study the Psoas course by the awesome Katy Bowman at Aligned and Well.

Sewing 1: Completing the smocked dresses I began months ago for Wee Bear. Before Autumn as both are definitely ‘summer’…

Parenting 1: Consistent bedtime with no screens after 6.30pm *creeping backwards*

Eating 1: Increase my intake of leafy green veg. I’m hoping to start the ‘Thrive Forward Programme’ for vegans once I’m a bit stronger…

Exercise 1: MuTu my ass daily. Oh yeah baby, you know it.

Bedtime: be in bed at 11pm every. Single. Day.

And I think that’s enough, right? To start with? I’ve got a whole TON of stuff I want to do (the new Colette dress, a few other frocks, a lot of doll outfits, more painting, get my rollerskates, etc) but I need to start small. One bite at a time. Given that I’m eating cleaner than i have in my whole life, I’m on the path now.

Craft fair insanity: buying fabric just to cut it up & sell it

There are times when my fabric addiction takes over. Usually when confronted with a gorgeous range from Michael Miller or Makower. When I saw this project from the Sewing Directory I decided it would be perfect for selling at my next craft fair.

I used this bundle from Plush Addict and kept one of the FQs for making bias binding.

but first a test run. I bought this on impulse from a local fabric shop: 4 pieces for £8 but a) they weren’t full FQ & b) two had quite bad sun bleaching so I’m unimpressed.

The main issue was working out which pieces to put next to each other, as all the prints coordinate.

However, the actual pieces are soft, strong, clearly printed & have a lovely effect when combined. I have no idea what to charge for them but aren’t they cute!20130717-183211.jpg

Doll Tote Bag: a sorta tutorial kind of thing. Maybe.

I wanted to blog a big more regularly than I have so far but I’ve been working very hard and then flopping in the evenings, rather than thinking ‘woohoo sewing time!’ – nothing dramatic but maybe just a hangover from sewing til insane o’clock all through June.

What was I sewing? Beautiful frocks? Kind of. Maybe. I was also sewing this, my first proper bag. It’s a pattern from the girl & doll book designed to make taking your doll anywhere easy. Except Wee Bear won’t let another child even look at Lily Sugar so… Mostly it’s doll containment right now.

In theory, should one have a child who takes a doll somewhere, this is a superb idea. I’m planning to retrofit a seatbelt for her, otherwise it’s all a bit unbalanced & she looks like she’s about to go for a burton out the back of the bag… In fact, a kind of sling/backpack might be better. But not if you’re wearing a party dress.

It’s basically a series of rectangles: here are the hand-drawn instructions. I found them really easy to follow and clear.


I traced all the pieces out & drew the unprinted pieces (the base and sides) onto my trusty Swedish tracing paper *insert smug face at having ordered two rolls ages ago* – makes it all much easier.


I ordered this spiffy & easy to cut ‘n’ sew laminated cotton in a cute Urban Zoologie print and teamed it up with some bright fuschia polka dots. As you can see I toyed with the spring-colour way chevrons but went for the punchier option. Hey, I am regularly whacked when Wee Bear overloads & melts down so punchy seems appropriate.

Putting it altogether was pretty straightforward: I particularly liked the pockets.

As they were incredibly easy – rectangles of fabric, held in place by a single length of cotton webbing: job done!

Assembling the sides was likewise easy – I do like a simple straight line. It looks like a box, especially if you interline with padded calico.

And even adding the base wasn’t too bad: until I added the plastic grid to keep it stiffened.

20130717-182158.jpg (the heinous photography caused by working after midnight…)

The rather cool-but-ineffective strap to close up: not really much use but I like it. The raw edges are all enclosed with bias tape (ready made this time).

It was finished in a night – a late one – and considering that it was supposed to be in plain quilting cotton, I think it turned out really well. A word of advice; Plush Addict is a dangerous site. They have a permanent discount in orders over £100 and their service is second to none. You’ve been warned.


Vintage pattern sites: blurry eyes

A really, really super brief post: I’ve been looking high and low for what I think of as a ‘bog standard’ day dress pattern. I’m suspecting that something later 40s or 50s would work for me, as I like longer and fuller skirts. Let’s say “alice, rabbit hole, down” and leave it at that? Anyway, a morning when I should have been working has left me with a big old pile of links that I want to share and at a future point add into a very helpful ‘widget box’ for vintage pattern sources. In the meantime, for your enjoyment and perusal.

And now I have to run and paint, quickly. Another house bound afternoon with grumpy five year old darling beckons.