Upcycling. Winning all around!

Sophie (2yo) is currently on a huge dress kick and wants to wear dresses all the time. Being winter here at the moment, she’s pretty good about letting me layer her with multiple long sleeved shirts and trackies underneath (did I mention that she’s currently anti-jackets/jumpers/hoodies/warm outerwear too?).

This is extending to sleepwear too, so I was on the hunt for cute knits when I stumbled upon this tute.  Which was perfect, because I currently have a bag of t-shirts that I love too much to give away, but no longer wear.

I had some narrow elastic, I had some time to myself (not true, I made my husband entertain the baby), and as usual, everything took longer than usual…but it’s done. In an evening! And I guess I can whip up more now I know how. I can only improve, right?

Time for bed. Goodnight, all, and send sleepy wishes my way so my 5mo will let me snatch more than 2 hour intervals tonight….

It's flawed, but I did this!
It’s flawed, but I did this!


I don’t know about anyone else, but I used to be a one project woman. Start a cross stitch, finish a cross stitch, choose another.

My biggest problem was more patterns than I could stitch. Now…. Excuse me while I wipe tears of laughter. What do I have going right now?

Let’s see. There’s the embroidery for the girls’ quilt. I’ve stalled at “N for Nest” because of …

… the wedding card I STILL haven’t finished since the present broke, I said I’d post it to them and hence the pressure of finishing has eased. Then there’s…

…the piles of bias binding I decided to mass produce thinking it would be easier. I’ve made 3 and I have 1 pinned to sew, cut press, and another huge piece that needs re-marking before cutting because I didn’t actually have a 45 degree angle and that was why my marks didn’t match up!

Oh, and then there’s the bibs and bamboo fleece I’ve cut for Em because she’s a major dribbler, but ALL of these projects (4!!! 5 if you include the cross stitch I abandoned…6 if you include the phone cases I’m designing for my husband and I…) been put on the back burner, because in addition to going back to work next week, I decided to do this course. And accept the better lettering challenge. SEVEN. SEVEN PROJECTS.

I am crazy.

Project #8: Adventures in bias binding

I have a pile of fat quarters and remnants that have been earmarked to become bias tape ever since I read a continuous bias tape tutorial.

Of course with 2 other projects on the go, this is the appropriate time to have piles of fabric heaped on the table as a work in progress. I’m slowly making my way through – I’ve marked them all with pin lines and I can pin them at my leisure then stitch them all. The cutting and pressing takes a bit longer, but in the mean time I made some pretty cards to put it on and started with the brightest, happiest fabric!

Here is the fixings for my bias tape cards:

Rotary cutter and mat, glue, old cards, IKEA straws and some scrapbook paper.

I had all of these things at home, so I just glued my card on to pretty scrapbook paper, pressed it under heavy books while it dried so it was flat and bubble free, trimmed it to an appropriate size (I chose 6″x4″), cut my straws to 3″ lengths and cut them down one side to form “bumpers” that will (hopefully) stop the tape from creasing.

Et voilà! Bias tape!

Project #7: Dribble bib

Miss Emily is nearly 4 months old now and has had the dribbles for over a month now. Cue the scramble to unearth the bibs from wherever I hid them when Sophie outgrew them.

Some lovely friends got us a couple of Nuby dribble bibs and they’ve been excellent, so I got to thinking.

I have some (tonnes) of bamboo fleece that I ordered, thinking we could stuff Sophie’s pocket nappies with them. I ordered it, washed it, cut it to nappy stuffable size, and then…it never got used.

I figured I could refashion it into dribble bibs. It’s natural coloured so I figured I could add some colour with a blanket stitch, maybe do seven bibs in rainbow colours. Then I had to run out the door to go to my sister’s house, so I grabbed my bag with the DMC Perle 5 variations floss in it, because I have been wanting to play with it and I figured, hey, multiple colours! Here is a great tute on blanket stitch if you need a refresher.

I couldn’t get 2 identically sized pieces out of one piece of fleece, so I cut one template of the bib (just laid the bib on top and cut around it roughly), then the “back piece” which basically was the triangle bottom part of the bib which ended maybe an inch from the ends of the straps. And then there was a little left over so I made a third piece that basically sits around the neckline and down into the triangle. I figured that was where we’d need the most absorbency!

Then I started my blanket stitch, added a few wonky lazy daisies and a snap at the back, and it was done! Probably took me about an hour, all told. And it turned out so cute and I have all the fabric, I may just make some more!

Cat xoxo


Project #6: Finished!

It’s done, hooray! And in time for us to go traveling. Unfortunately I vastly underestimated the time required to stitch my wedding card, and the present I stitched and mounted in a frame suffered a breakage en route, so we had to attend the wedding empty handed. But it does mean I can stitch it more carefully and send a perfectly stitched piece, which will be nice.

So, pics of the finished product:

The opened out case, with the extra pocket and tie detailing, reversed scissor pocket, and adjusted needle book.
The left hand panel. I added in a tie so I had the option of attaching additional pieces eg: a thread ring that would sit in the pocket but might possibly slide out. I just knotted 4 lengths of perle 5 floss and stitched it in with a loop, also in perle 5 floss.
The centre panel with scissor pocket and needle book. I reversed the scissor pocket because I am left handed, and also changed the needle book from portrait orientation to landscape orientation. This also allows me to drape the case over a chair arm if I need to.
The right panel with the 2 pockets.
The filled case. As we were flying, I tied on my thread cutter in lieu of scissors. I also have a pincushion ring attached. The left hand panel pocket holds 2 project cards of floss, and the right hand pockets hold my metallic floss bobbins (metallic floss doesn’t bear up well on project cards!) and my Thread Heaven. You can see one of my embroidery blocks in the back “project pocket”.

They say pictures tell it better than words, so there you go. Reflections: if I were to do it again?

– I’d consider a contrasting fabric. The co-ordinating colours looked great in the store, but the straps and binding didn’t pop because of that. So while it was a safe option, next time I might consider taking more risks!

– the quilting of vertical lines echoed the pattern so made the outer quite boring. While I am just practicing quilting, it might be worth trying something different on a small item like this where mistakes won’t be as obvious and don’t really matter!

If you are interested, I’ve found the pincushion ring to be invaluable, no more clenching the needle in my teeth while I coat my floss in Thread Heaven! You can find them here, along with an array of delightfully geeky patterns. Jacqueline is just lovely and her store is well worth checking out.

That’s it from me today!

Cat xoxo

Project #6 and #6.1: Travel embroidery case and bias binding.

I really love that embroidery is so easily transportable, especially since I prefer not to stitch in a hoop (because lazy). I’ve found it to be very relaxing and enjoyable. Of course despite being fairly inexpensive and all I really needed to buy was needles (see previous enormous stash!), I still found a way to spend money. The Quilters’ & The Embroiderer’s Store is pretty amazing and the service is great.

Anyway, I wanted a travel pouch that would let me toss my WIP into my handbag and keep my stuff together and minimize the risk of little fingers getting into it. (Sophie. Looking at you.)

Originally I made this needle book, but while it’s an amazing needle book, it didn’t really suit me, as my scissors kept falling out and it was my first foray into mitring corners with binding, and it wasn’t perfect.

Bias tape digression:

If you’re interested, this tutorial on making bias tape is amazing. Also this one, on straight grain bias binding is also good, only I would make one change in Step 3 – when pinning and marking the diagonal. Where she says to pin the bottom left and top right corners, I would reverse that to pinning the TOP left and BOTTOM right of your square. That lets you draw your diagonal line AND stitch the strips together without having to remove pins, like so:


Also, rather than bust out my iron and risk burning my fingers (I’m left handed and not that proficient with an iron…) I re-purposed my hair straightener with amazing results.

Finger pressing the seams open.
Clamping the opened seams. I pressed it halfway first, using my fingers to hold it open, then pressed the whole seam.
The lovely crisp seam pressed open!

I also used it with my bias tape maker to press the tape – I lined the straightener up against the exit point of the straightener, pulled the free end with one hand and pushed the maker along using the straightener, like so:


Excuse my photography skills, and the myriad toys in tubs on the floor! It’s hard to see what’s happening but I’m pulling the tape with my left hand to the left, and holding my right hand stationary, which means the straightener is pressing the tape as it exits the bias tape maker.  This maker is a 25mm Clover branded one and SO much better than my previous tape maker, as the plastic guide (the blue part) keeps the strip straight as it feeds in.

I don’t have a picture, but I also used my straightener to make that tape into double fold tape (by folding it in half towards the centre) – the easiest way to do that is to sit the straightener on your knee with the plates facing AWAY from you.  Use both hands to fold a small section of tape (say 10cm) and pinch it together (or pin or clip it together with binding clips), then run the section against the BOTTOM plate only (kind of sawing it against the plate).  That sets it enough and you can run the straightener over it again when you’ve finished. WARNING: straighteners are HOT – be careful and use at your own risk!

Back to the topic at hand. A travel embroidery case. I really liked the look of this case, and I thought the quilting would be good practice. I found some cute fat quarters with co-ordinating colours, and started mapping out which fabric for what pieces

HOWEVER. I wanted to make some alterations. For starters, I wanted a large pocket running the length of the case, so if I had larger pieces of embroidery they could be accommodated. This meant I needed to cut an interior lining for the exterior piece, as well as lining the interior pieces.  I decided to change the interior pieces from 6″ to 5.5″, and also to double that height so I had 3 panels that could be stitched together, then folded in half, creating the lining for the extra pocket.

Unfortunately this meant that I couldn’t follow the tutorial as it was written, and just when I thought I’d gotten the hang of how it would work, something else cropped up.

As a result, this project took way longer than I would have liked, and a couple of sleepless nights while my brain ticked over the logistics. I have finally finished the darn thing (at 1:45am!) after no sleep last night because of it! But it is done, HOORAY! And I can take it with me on this trip to Newcastle.

I forgot to take pics of my process because I just WANTED.  IT.  DONE. But I will post some completed pics tomorrow. Well. Today.  If I get a chance.

Here were some I DID take:

Pockets with binding attached. The binding was actually what I used for the straps, so ended up being tinier than in the tute!
I used low tack painters tape to mark my quilting lines for the exterior piece and the batting (I used some leftover felt). I probably should have been more adventurous and tried free motion or a different pattern – because the pattern is vertical as well, the quilting didn’t really show. It was a good learning experience though, and I’ll know for next time.
The quilted exterior piece and the lining I cut for the additional pocket.

Whew. What a post! Time to turn in.

Cat xoxo