Tuesday 30 December 2014

Quick Sewing Projects to see out the Year

It's the last day of 2014 - tomorrow sees a New Year begin, a year of possibility, fresh starts, new adventures & discoveries. As this year ends, I spent the past few days working on some designs for some patterns I hope to release real soon - all will be revealed in the coming weeks. I have also completed my first pattern test, just waiting for the launch date to reveal all (just a hint, we only had to make one garment but I've already made 3 with more in the pipeline - it's a GREAT pattern)

After attending Urban Stitches back in September, some of the girls asked me to come up with some sewing projects for the charm square pack included in our goodie bag. New to charm squares, they wanted some inspiration - hence the pattern writing & some bigger projects under way. But yesterday, I took the chance to whip up some quick projects - the inspiration either from gifts I've received or blogs I've read.

The scissors case inspired by a gift from Allison, the pin cushion from Marilyn & the mini purse from A Spoonful Of Sugar.  I just used a spare zipper on hand but will definitely be sourcing some of the metal zips they used. 
All these whipped up in no time at all.

Here's a teaser of one of the patterns under construction - I wonder what this could be?
As 2014 draws to a close, thank you to those who have joined me on this journey this past year. I look forward to connecting more in 2015 as we Sew The Seasons of Life. 

Blessings, Robyn

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Peace & Hope This Christmas

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6

It's Christmas Eve here as I write my first Christmas post after an amazing initial year in my journey into blogging.
The day is just beginning, ingredients at the ready to whip up a pavlova for our Christmas lunch tomorrow, presents ready to wrap, last batch of rocky road to make, carols playing in the background.

Many are rush, rush, rushing to find that last minute, just "Prefect" gift, set the ideal looking table (oh why do we look at Pinterest ideas & think that's the norm?), cook the best meal ever, the list goes on and on..........

BUT - in the midst of all that has become Christmas, I am stopping...........stopping to reflect on the simplicity of the first Christmas.

 Simple yet the most profound time in history, the birth of the baby Jesus. I am choosing to take time to see the wonder, the wonder that can really be the Christmas story.
A newly discovered carol to me is "Mary Did You Know?",  here is a hauntingly beautiful version by Pentatonix.

I am conscious as I write, that for so many, this is not a season of Joy & Peace. The events here in Australia and around the world just in this past week leave pain, questions and despair for many. 
One of my favourite Christmas songs is "I Heard The Bells" by Casting Crowns.
Take a moment to watch the clip & listen to the words of this song, words of Peace & Hope.

This simple decoration is my all time favouite and actually stays out all year.
 My Christmas wish for you all, is that you may rediscover the simplicity & wonder that is within the Hope of the Christmas story.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Wrapping The Gifts

I love present wrapping time as I dig through my gift pile, think of each person the gift is going to, why they are important in my life & how they might react when opening it. But, let's face it, not all gifts are easy to wrap! Some are bulky, odd shapes or simply need special attention to give them that wow factor!

Over the past few years, I have begun a tradition with my family & close friends of adding a hand made decoration at Christmas rather than a gift tag - double purpose, gorgeous gift tag plus future decoration for their tree. (worth mentioning if gifts are similar size or shape or you have lots of people to give to, may just be worth adding their initial to the gift or keeping a note of which parcel is theirs............)

I have also switched to mainly using white tissue paper - I buy it in bulk & have it on hand then to either protect precious items or as the wrapping paper & allow the ribbon, trims or decorations do the 'bling' effect on the gift.

In my Hints & Tips post Savvy Sewing Savings, I suggested keeping the narrow strips of fabric when cutting runners or striped fabric. These make ideal gift ribbon or bows (non Christmas fabric work a treat to pretty up a gift during the year)
Using either ribbon or fabric strips, tie up the gift & add one of your special decorations. If you want ideas to make some ribbon decorations, check back to the post Christmas Ribbon Decorations.

Wine, mini champagne or other bottles such as special salad dressings can be 'wrapped' in their own Bottle Gift Bag. For that extra touch, add a handmade decoration.

Treats such as cookies, peppermint rock or rocky road can be added in a clear cello bag & tied with ribbon. I also pop mine into a plastic tumbler then a clear bag or sometimes you can pick up Christmas printed cello bags that look gorgeous too. I make rocky road for my family as a treat to go with their gifts as their 'main' gift each year is something to bless someone else such as a World Vision Smiles gift, TEAR fund gift or A21 gift (lots of special gifts to be found such as goats, medical supplies, toiletry gear to help those in developing countries or girls who have been rescued from Human trafficking.)

Simple ideas that add that special touch to your gift giving. I hope the gifts you find under your tree this year are special to you.

Monday 8 December 2014

Tutorial - Ribbon Christmas Tree

After my It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas post the other week, I had a request for a tutorial for the ribbon Christmas Tree featured on the bottle bag.

I made the tree up into a simple hanging, but also another bottle bag to show the possibilities for this design. Changing the width or type of ribbon, number of 'branches' in the tree, varying the buttons added or even adding mini button decorations make this an ideal starting tutorial limited only by your imagination. My hanging is a simple one whipped up ready for this post & as a special gift, but you could add many more embellishments if you wanted. The lighter green bag has wider ribbon so the tree seems much larger than the one on the darker green bag on the right side.

You can also follow my tutorial on Bottle Gift Bags if you wanted to sew your tree onto a bottle bag.

Materials Needed:
Fabric (for bottle bag & lining or front, back & border for hanging)
Ribbon (for 5 'branch tree' - 1/2yard)
Buttons (for tree base & star)
Wadding or pellon for hanging
Pellon or interfacing for bottle bag (to reinforce ribbon when attaching)
Hanger if making tree into hanging
Extra ribbon for tie if a bottle bag (measurements listed on bottle bag tutorial)

** For this tutorial I have not listed fabric measurements as amount needed will be determined by finished project you are aiming for.**

Equipment Needed:
Rotary cutter

Press fabric
Cut to required size of project choice - NB if wanting a border on hanging, add now before adding wadding or pellon.
Iron on or pin on the pellon, interfacing or wadding on back of main piece of fabric.

Step 1:
Cut ribbon into 5 strips of following size
4 1/2", 4", 3", 2 1/2", 1 1/2"

Step 2:
Lay each shorter strip one at a time onto the next longest size strip centering the ribbon - e.g lay 4" strip onto 4 1/2" strip then trim ends on angle to size of next strip (so top of 4 1/2" strip measures 4")
Continue this step until shortest top strip, trim ends on angle to have top measurement 1".

**If adding extra 'branches' to your ribbon tree, you will need to work out measurements according to required number of 'branches' & you will need more ribbon.

Step 3:
Mark centre of fabric piece, pin ribbons 'branches' on fabric - I found it best to only leave 1/8" between each 'branch' to ensure neater finish but choice is yours.

Step 4:
Trial a zig zag stitch on your machine, noting as in picture the width & length of stitch selected & choose a smallish, neat looking finish = you will use the zig zag to secure the ends of the ribbon 'branches'.

Step 5:
Attach ribbon tree ( picture e.g. shows zig zag completed first down each side of tree then straight stitching across each strip of ribbon but I found on a later piece the ribbon stayed straighter & was easier to attach if straight rows of stitching were done first to secure each strip of ribbon, then zig-zag down edges to neaten cut ends of ribbon)
Trim ends of thread.

Step 6:
Attach buttons for tree tub/base & star at top. This would also be the step where you could add extra embellishment if you wanted to 'bling' the tree with decorations buttons or charms. (picture shows the auditioning of buttons for this step)

Step 7:
If making bottle gift bag, complete bag, attaching ribbon tie as per tutorial.
If making a hanging, finish as per desired result (if adding border, that would have been attached during preparation stage to ensure wadding was cut large enough to back border as well)
Picture shows examples of optional finishes such as border fabric, ribbon border or binding.

For this tutorial, I chose a simple binding option.
Attach hanger, ready to hang or give.

I would love to see any ribbon tree creations you make as well. Totally Tutorials Blog

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Tutorial - Bottle Gift Bag

  Quick & easy, this tutorial shows you how to whip up a lined bottle gift bag in next to no time. 

After searching for the measurements for a bottle gift bag, I found I had to either purchase a pattern or print off a PDF download ensuring my printer was set to "tile" the pattern piece, so an hour or so with some fabric, a bottle & tape measure & I came up with this quick & easy tutorial. This method also means very few seams & no fiddly measurements for casings for the tie. It is a generous size to allow for different sized bottles.

Materials needed:
**this quantity will make 3 bottle bags**
 1/2yd (50cm) main fabric
 1/2yd (50cm) lining fabric
(optional - 1/2yd  wadding for padded bag or interfacing to line bag)
 2 -3 yds ribbon for the 3 ties - for each bag 20" (50cm) of  3/8" (6mm) ribbon to wrap a few times around.  ** I use 35" (90cm) as I like the effect of wrapping a couple of times round the bottle neck before tying the bow.

Equipment Needed:
Rotary cutter / scissors

Press fabrics

All seams 1/2" unless indicated.

Step 1:
Cut out bags - for each bag cut main fabric & lining fabric 17" high x 13 1/2" wide ( you can cut 3 bags across each width of fabric)

Step 2: (optional)
If you want to pad the bag or line bag for added stiffness or to soften effect of lining colour cut out wadding/interfacing piece 17" x 13 1/2" and if iron-on, press to back of main fabric piece now.
This is also the time to add any embellishments to main fabric piece. I would recommend interfacing or wadding if you are adding a feature such as the ribbon Christmas Tree (see photo at end of post) for easier attachment & a better finish.

Step 3:
Join main piece to lining piece at top of bag with 1/2" seam (check it is the top if you are using directional patterned fabric)
 Press to lining side.
 Step 4:
Pin ribbon tie which has  been folded in half (if ribbon has pattern, patterned sides together) 4" (10cm) from top of bag on main fabric side. I also pin the ends of the ribbon to avoid them getting caught in seams = pin is removed when bag turned through. To strengthen tie, sew a couple of times over the ribbon fold before joining side seams.
 Step 5:
Stitch up main fabric & lining fabric piece, leaving a gap of about 3 - 4" for turn through using 1/2" seam. Press seam open.

Step 6:
Fold bag in half, with seam in middle of bag.
Stitch across the bottom of each end.

Step 7:
Mark & cut out 1 1/4" square on each corner at each end.
Note - measure up from the seam not raw edge of fabric across base.
Step 8:
Pinch corners together, ensuring the seam is in the centre, finger press bottom seam open & stitch across each of the 4 corners with a 1/4" seam.
Step 9:
Turn bag through, before stitching gap closed, make sure all the corners have been pushed all the way out then hand stitch or machine close to edge to close the turn through gap.
 (Note - I have stitched the sample with a contrast thread to show you how close to edge you can stitch & also used a long stitch so it was easy to pull out before stitching with normal length stitch & matching coloured thread.)
 Push lining down into the bag.
Press if needed.

Here is a back view of the bag, showing how the ribbon is attached ready for tying.

Step 10:
Add bottle, tie bag & it's ready to give!
 You can also decorate your bottle bag before construction.
 Next tutorial will show how to sew the ribbon tree either for a bag or decoration. And of course, you could make the bags out of other fabric to use throughout the year when gift giving.

Totally Tutorials Blog