From junk to poetry…

I had a really enjoyable experience again yesterday. The foot was painful, so I treated myself to some down-time and a little sewing by hand. I had another couple of “pomanders” that I wanted to finish off, but these developed characters of their own. These two became rebellious little stuffies – “The Pomander Boyz”! Meet Cyclops and Chewy!

It’s amazing the attitude an inanimate object can assume with a bit of help from some buttons, beads and embroidery floss, isn’t it?!!

The same evening, I got out the giant pencil case, a couple of pens, the khadi papers journal I dislike and the tin of  Neocolours. I spent a while creating washes for backgrounds and cutting up a Council Tax leaflet (I’m not mad – it’s a process!!), for Lesson 2 of Quinn’s Raw Art Journalling. I found phrases and words that held appeal, or the potential of a union and this poem was born, from the wordage I found in the junk mail:

I haven’t analysed any of this – but I feel what the verse means to me, personally. I wonder what it means to you? 😉


Call me old-fashioned…

Well call me old-fashioned, but I have found a very practical use for the fat stuffed fabric fobs I’ve felt compelled to sew – pomanders! For those of you too young to remember wardrobes which bore coathangers with sewn covers (to protect your delicate clothes), and small scented sachets hanging on them to ward off moths… This is the definition from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

1: a mixture of aromatic substances enclosed in a perforated bag or box and used to scent clothes and linens or formerly carried as a guard against infection; also : a clove-studded orange or apple used for the same purposes
2: a box or hollow fruit-shaped ball for holding pomander
I used small samples from upholstery swatches to make them, embellished with my own fabric inchies and on the back I stitched  a quilted inchy. The paper roses are from a pen box I was tired of looking at!
There’s a red one too, a little blurry, but then I am using my phone for the pics…
The reverse has 3 recycled fabric leaves and a paper rose stitched to the back. These are my entry to Take a Word – “old fashioned” – this week. I do have more stuff waiting to be blogged, but my foot’s protesting too much so I’m off to elevate it for a while. 😉

Gabbo – the inner critic!

When filled with self-doubt

Emotions make me waver.

Inner-critic – OUT!

See his tongue, hear him…

Pay no heed to what he says – 

Or you’ll create nowt.

Fold up his red tongue

Feel my muse come out to play

Safe from Gabbo’s** bile!

Gabbo is a stuffie I sewed to represent my inner critic, or gremlin, that stops me from just creating because I can! The Haiku is much more light-hearted this week for Rebecca’s wonderful group – Haiku my Heart Friday.

**Gabbo means “to scoff or joke” and is actually a boy’s name! No new or shop-bought items were harmed in the creation of Gabbo – he’s 99% recycled. I did buy the thread to stitch him up with!

A love affair or an obsession?

Over the past couple of days I have made 14 fabric/textile ATCs, a lined zipper pouch, a fabric key fob and an origami word box… That’s what happens when I am happy! So, I am still tidying my stash and throwing scruffy stuff away, putting precious (to me), stash in drawers, etc. but because I had the sewing machine out, I am sewing. Again. Any excuse to use up some fabric.

This is an old shirt sleeve, painted and stamped to make it original…

I used homemade spray, acrylic paint, silk paint, metallic paint, stazon and an old ink pad – in various colours and heat-set the lot (in theory!)…

I used stencils, foam stamps, rubber stamps and sequin waste (both sides) and a brayer to apply the stuff!

I used this very bright, in-your-face, seahorse fabric for the lining and the keyfob… and the zipper pouch tutorial as my guide:

No hitches or mistakes this time. I was fully functional and focus wasn’t an issue as the girls had gone out by then!! 😉

Isn’t the fat stuffed seahorse fob fun? I have a brilliant “stampotique” one that Barbara sent me a couple of years ago and I’ve always thought how much fun it’d be to make some. Would it be obsessive to make a few  more d’you think?!!

Now to focus on Quinn’s Raw Art Journalling Class… (paper weaving tute today), as I actually created a collage of the First Lesson to remind me to do it! Lol! 🙂

Of fabric ATCs and Millie

I have been busy sewing ATCs for the Summer Camp swap. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it has been quite a while since I made ATCs for pleasure, with just a theme, and not for a challenge. I thought I’d share a few things that I do with these, as it’s such a labour-intensive process.

I use craft or pelmet (heavy-duty) vilene, or interfacing, for the base of ALL my fabric cards. This enables me to “lay down” initial designs without having them slide around a table or cutting mat. I don’t use Misty Fuse, I just stick a couple of pins in and start machine-stitching! I like to cut some fabrics and rip others, for extra texture.  If I’m making a batch of ATCs, for example, this is an example of how it begins:

The piece on the top is a triple ATC, waiting to be cut into 3. It consists of base, fabric scraps attached with white zig-zag stitching and a rectangle of stamped linen in the centre. That bit has been ironed to heat-set the stamped words. On the top is more ripped fabric strips, attached by machine-stitching and a bit of turquoise netting for texture. It all adds to the “touch-factor”. My pieces are always untidy but I do try for a tactile end-product!!

Two things and two people I have to credit here – Belinda Spiwak (Crazy Art Girl) was the initial inspiration a couple of years ago when I first saw some of her wonderful, mixed media, textile artworks. Then, if you apply the same recipe of paper, layers, colour and textures to a card base – no fabric – you get Lisa Vollrath’s “serendipity” backgrounds for ATCs – check out the Ten Two Studios – Projects – website for ideas and tutorials, because she never stops coming up with ideas!!

I did say these were labour-intensive, didn’t I? But, they can be made in stages. The bases for half of these were stitched a few months ago… Above are 6 ATCs awaiting the faux leather, seaside embellishments I have made for each one!!!

I won a set of collage stamps from Shelia Oliver a few years ago (she was decluttering to raise money for a worthy cause) and they happened to be seashore-themed. That fits perfectly for me with the Summer Camp theme – I always equate summer with the seaside! And I chose the colours of my scraps for the sun (golden yellow), sand (oatmeal linen base), and sea (vivid shiny blue fabric) to fit that theme.

The embellishments were stamped onto heated up fun foam, pressed down hard and removed when cooled. I then cut round them and attached them to each ATC (or I will do…!!). I have another issue with neat fabric ATCs – the backing! This time, instead of hunting for yet more fabric and having  to cut bits up, I decided to back them with old book pages. Some of my old books are quite small in page size, little more than a large postcard, so they will make 2 backs per page. They are thick soft paper, stitched into the book-blocks, so they tear really easily…

You can see the serrations in this pic where I have stitched an ATC to the page and then gently torn it out afterwards!! Finally, I print out my ATC labels using a Dymo (address) label printer and stick them to the back. It means that

  • no-one has to struggle to read my writing if they want to get in touch;
  • I can include all the info I want up to about 6 lines
  • I don’t have to write out 14 labels
  • they all have the same info on them!!
Here are a couple that are finished, waiting to be labelled and posted!
Hopefully, you’ll find some of my process useful if not exactly “interesting”!! All the steps I take are the result of research and mistakes. Truly! I never undo anything or unpick stuff – life’s too short. I either add another layer or paint over it! 😉
Speaking of “trial and error”, I took this pic of Millie to remind myself of how she should look after I have clipped her:

De-stashing in earnest!

I have just listed 10 packs of fabric/silk flowers on my Facebook page. They are really good value for money and great for your altered art and quilting projects. I also used quite a few on my denim headbands from Project Denim.

I’m trying my best to offload stash as I have no wish to take it with me when we move…

This is how I have photographed them so that you can see what size they are. If you’re interested, just head over HERE and check ’em out! Email me for details – paypal only please –  and I will ship overseas and also combine postage if you want more than one item! 😉

Zippered Pouch #1

A colleague of mine celebrated her 19th birthday today and I wanted to make her something special. She is a real sweetie and very girly, so it had to be feminine. Lord knows I have enough denim creations to stock a shop, but unless I took them all into work for her to try on, we’d have no idea what she liked/or not! Ergo, I decided to make her a zippered pouch/bag. She told me that it had to be summery… and I really didn’t “have to”!!

I know that, but I wanted to try out a new tutorial I saw recently and use up some fabric (yes, and some more denim!!), and this was the perfect excuse. Well, the tutorial really is “idiot-proof”. I have always had an aversion to inserting zips, and this baby is also lined… Here’s the back:

Isn’t that cute? And so functional. By the end of our shift yesterday, she had decided that she is going to keep her phone and her Ipod in it! Cool! 😉

Many thanks to Kate…. of See Kate Sew blog.

EDIT: I just have to add another pic of a zippered bag I made myself last night, to take to work instead of my huge handbag!! Despite an error along the bottom, it still turned out great! 🙂

Project Denim- part deux!!

Onto the clutch… I cut the bottom seams off the two legs and set them aside. Using half the length of one leg, I cut halfway down each side-seam, as per the photo, turned it inside out and stitched the bottom up. I then did the corner boxing seams to give the clutch shape.

I used hot glue for the side and top seams and covered one of those big wooden beads with denim (hot glued again!) and hand-sewed the “button” to the front of the clutch bag with strong button thread.

It looks a bit odd there but you’ll see how it turned out when reversed and sewn on… I also made a faux leather loop for the closure and attached that to the top flap with hot glue and a strip of denim to cover it!!

It’s really a nice size – oversized clutch bag!! –  but I couldn’t leave it looking so plain, and that’s when the bling box came out! (It’s actually just the same size as one of those plastic takeaway food tubs and there are two of them!! A girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?!

I broke up a smoky quartz and silver wire necklace for the flap. I think it’s a discreet blinging!! All attached with the HGG (hot glue gun!)

Remember those bottom of the leg seams? They became headbands – yes, really, the first 2 headbands…

For the lower one, I wound some “frayed bits” round my fingers, shaped them and glued them to the headband. I then rifled through the bling-box and found the embellishment that looks a bit like a metal flower…

The bigger adornment is one of my shabby-chic fabric flowers made from a single strip of sarong fabric, which was machine-gathered and glued into shape and place. All I added was a glass bead charm, from an old necklace.

Now I really liked those headbands so much that I got the bug and decided to cut the other leg open completely straight along one of the seams. Both of those seams would probably become cuffs, so that was cool. I cut about 2 inches (5cm) down from the top of the leg and ripped the rest of the way down. This produced lots of wonderful “frayings” (for embellishing), and a shabby edge to each headband.

I think there’s a bit of shabby, retro-chic going on with these bands, don’t you? So all I did was tie a knot in each one (round my own head), and then trim the ends the same way you would the end of ribbons. I used the HGG to secure each end to the headband and to attach the blings to each one.

That’s a peek at my table last Friday at the Village Hall. They all think I’m bonkers, but they admire my “vision”!! Using the top of the other leg, I made a different style of headband. I cut the leg into rounds (rings?), about 1-2″ wide and attached recycled fabric flowers to them. These are mostly slightly smaller than the “tied” headbands, so more suited to youngsters, children, etc. the flowers are big. bold, pink and blue!! Here’s a very bad shot of me with the first one on:

That’s my pink ear too! Here’s a shot of them in progress on my worktable:

I’ll have to have a mammoth photo-session to list this lot on Etsy now… but I also made this coiled rope bowl, following a great tutorial I found recently…

And the denim rings! I loved making these! I snaffled 3 coconut-shell rings from my friend a couple of weeks ago and they are fun, lightweight, etc. but they don’t really go with any of my clothes!! So, I had the happy thought of covering them with scraps of denim, attached with my trusty friend, the HGG!

Isn’t that pretty? I slid a couple of pink metal heart charms and a few blue seed beads onto a silver jump ring and attached them to the top of the denim-covered ring. Voila! I made 3 of those (1 of which was immediately nabbed by DD’s friend Beth!) and then had a go at rolling denim rings…

I haven’t tried earrings yet, but I still have numerous scruffy (scrumptious) scraps left over so I’m sure I shall! 🙂





Project Denim: The trials, tribulations & end results!

Okay, I have been banging on about this project for a couple of weeks now and all you’ve seen are a handbag and a cuff… Well now you get to see a lot more! The pair of jeans I used were a teenager’s – size 6/8, (UK size), one size smaller if you’re in the USA, and a 34-36 is the European equivalent, I believe…

*First I cut off the seat (bum) of the jeans, sewed it up and created a strap/handle for it from a length off one of the legs. There are lots of really good tutorials and videos about this type of bag-making, so don’t worry if it’s all new to you, I am no expert but there are many out there. I am just the crazy lady who decided to blog the entire pair of jeans!!!

I know the picture quality isn’t the best, but to show you what I did and how, I used my phone’s camera – and I don’t have an i-phone either!! So this pic shows the seat-bag (affectionately known as the bum-bag!).  Here’s the strap/handle in progress:

I cut a fairly wide strip (about 3-4″), folded over the edges and cut a strip of contrasting (scrap) fabric to stitch to it… pinning first to hold the two parts together, but you could pin and press if you like neat. As you probably know, I’m not really “neat”!

I used a zig-zag stitch to avoid seams and blue thread to co-ordinate, but also as a decorative feature.  Then I had to decide how it was going to attach to the bum-bag…

I chose to thread the strap through the back belt loops in this instance because it wasn’t very long and I like this no-fuss handle…

I then threaded it through 2 of the front loops, took it back to the machine and stitched the strap ends together a few times, to strengthen it. Kept it fairly neat and maintained the “shabby-chic” element, I think!

Looking good so far, and we have a reversible strap too… You could of course, use a pretty scarf for a strap, or very contrasting fabric, but in the spirit of using just one pair of jeans, I chose to do it like this! I just moved the seamed piece round to the double belt loop so that it was less obvious.

Looks a bit “butterfly” or loopy, doesn’t it? That’s another thing that makes it a bit different – more handmade and less manufactured… 😉

Handy pockets on the outside – if you need somewhere to put your linseed oil (just kidding, it was handy to fill a pocket!!)… Tip! Check that the pockets are away from the needle when you’re sewing the bottom seam, if you want them as more than a feature.

Cute and roomy, isn’t it? The possibilities are endless, aren’t they? If you get a very small pair of jeans, you could make them into a stuffie, or a cuddle-cushion, couldn’t you? I’d love to hear/see your ideas too! 🙂

So, the wrist-cuffs from side-seams…. Yes, the lumpy, inside leg seam that is usually serged or finished off and that you’d cut off and probably throw away, makes a really cool wrist-cuff, with a bit of sewing and a hot glue gun. Look!

I trimmed the seams, leaving the frayed edges, cut the entire seam into 4 (more or less) equal pieces and then stitched 2 together, using red thread and a wide zig-zag stitch. Once they were secure, I added the next two pieces in the same way.

In this pic, I have trimmed the sides of the cuff and found a wooden bead to use for closure. Here I am stitching a faux leather loop to one edge, at the back. I then trim this off and using a skinny piece of denim, I cover the edges using the hot glue gun to attach the denim to the cuff. I also used a skinny paint brush to hold things in place, avoiding being burned by the hot glue! (an experience you may not need to go through now…)

See how all the oversewn seams face the same direction (downwards)? Then I covered the other edge in the same way and went rummaging in my broken-jewellery box!

This was the fun part – choosing the bling! My DD wouldn’t have chosen this, but I like it – again attached with the hot glue gun (we are almost best mates now!):

I glued the wooden bead on last and it works so well. I have big old chunky fingers and I can’t bear fiddly clasps, so this was the ideal solution for me!

I am wearing the orange cuff at this very moment – with a beige and brown ensemble – fancy word for pants and shirt – to go shopping! Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to blinging! Here are another couple of cuffs I made in the same way!

The little face is a saved RAK from a friend which I received over a year ago. Nice that it’s found a place on my wrist!! The backing is the frayed threads from cutting the jeans up – cool huh? Never waste anything!!!!

Right, that’s part 1 done. I still have a clutch bag, several headbands and some denim rings to show you. And, there’s a cut out denim bird upstairs waiting to be sewn up and blinged… Feedback would be great – do comment!! *waves* 🙂

A special commission…

I got a phonecall yesterday from a friend with a special request. She wanted me to create a bookmark for a very special Dad for Father’s Day, that his kids could give him. She also needed wacky, Day of the Dead, skulls and/or Gothic, but mainly skulls… Funnily enough, she thought of me immediately and that’s how I came to make this leather-backed bookmark:

I think that fits the bill!!!! I’ve backed the fabric with soft black leather and encased the front with plastic to protect the bottlecap and the image. The feather is partly encased… It all feels pretty secure and very unusual! The images are from the uber-talented and very hardworking, Lisa Vollrath – Ten Two Studios. I hope Dad likes it! 😉

I have been sewing again in a bid to complete “Project Denim”. Tomorrow afternoon, I want to photograph all the items I have made from that pair of jeans and blog it. I have taken photos at various stages, so I shall break the post down into project-sized posts with lots of photos so you can see how I did what I did and have a go yourself if you like. Denim is such fun to work with and I shall never look at cast-off jeans in the same way again – did I tell you I even made denim rings? Yes – so much easier to do than you’d think, and of course, so comfy to wear!

All the headbands will go into my Etsy shop, as will the rings and wrist-cuffs. I really hope they appeal to to people who love denim and summery accessories… Best of all, they’ll be really affordable! 🙂