Friday, 29 November 2013

Teacher Gift: Transport Quilt

This year I decided to make a quilt for each of  my children's teachers. Call me crazy, but I managed to finish them all a couple of days before we left on our trip to the US. As you can see I was not completely crazy and kept the designs simple. I'm calling this one 'Transport' as it was for a teacher with young boys.

I cut out 5" charm squares - 108 of them - and arranged them randomly. I am pleased to say that all fabrics and batting came from my stash.

I quilted it with large loops all over - one of my favourite quilting patterns!

This quilt has a lot of red fabric in it so you might be thinking that it involved a lot of fabric pre-washing. No. That would take a lot of extra time!  I always wash my finished quilts with a few colour catchers and then throw them in the dryer. It works well for me!

Please ignore any formatting quirks - any posts over the next month will be done on my ipad and it always does something funny!
I love the caravan fabric that is part of the pieced back.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Scrap Vomit or Confetti?

Just a quick one as I steal a few moments away from packing. We leave early tomorrow morning for an overseas adventure, which will hopefully include a white Christmas! So do not be alarmed if you don't hear from me for a while - I'll be too busy throwing snowballs with my family and eating fresh pretzels!

I finished Eli's quilt just in time for his birthday and he loves it. That makes me immensely happy. My heart was filled with joy as I watched him roll around in his new quilt.
I made the top using 2.5" squares from a swap, as well as my own uglies from my scrap bins. You could play 'I Spy' with it for hours! I bound the quilt with a dotty fabric and quilted it with a large stipple. I love this quilt - it is very forgiving when it comes to matching up points. In fact, after about 6 blocks of 49 squares, I didn't really bother too hard to match up the points!
For the back I used 5 fat quarters of gnome fabric, bordered each of them with red and surround it all with a Moda grey (I know, very technical details!).
How cute are all these gnomes?

So, would you call this a scrap vomit quilt or a confetti quilt? Or something else?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Teacher Gift : Edible Pencils

A friend sent me a Pinterest link for some fabulous pencils made out of Rolo chocolates. We both decided to make some to give as teacher gifts. Do you think we could find Rolo chocolates anywhere? The only Rolos in sight were the large family blocks. I'm not complaining about the family size (if they were for me to eat!), but they were the wrong shape for pencils.

So we used these delicious things.

My friend did all the work - she made them first! Zoe actually did all the work for ours - I'm terribly good at supervising!

These are the materials and dimensions that we used for each pencil:

Roll of Rolo or Cadbury chocolate
Hershey's Kiss (we got ours from Red Dot Stores in Australia)
Corrugated cardboard, 13cm (5") x 8cm (3 1/8")
Pink cardboard, 2cm (1") x 8cm (3 1/8")

Pink cardboard circles - 2.5cm (1") in diameter
Silver cardboard, 1cm (0.5") x 10cm (4")

You could also use aluminium foil instead of the silver cardboard.

We used double sided sticky tape to attach everything, but I would actually recommend using hot glue for its strength (everything kept popping off, so we had to put lots and lots of sticky tape on it).

Attach the Hershey's Kiss to the end of the Rolo/Cadbury roll

Sticky tape (regular tape is fine!) the pink rectangle of cardboard to the width end of the corrugated cardboard on the inside (wrong side). This makes the eraser part of the pencil.

Roll the corrugated cardboard (with its 'eraser' extension) around the Rolo/Cadbury roll. Hot glue in place.

Attach the strips of silver cardboard over the join where the corrugated cardboard and 'eraser' meet. Hot glue in place.

Hot glue the circular cardboard on the end.

I think these make the perfect teacher gift!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

It's Coming!

Since participating in a scrap vomit confetti swap, Eli has been constantly asking for a quilt to be made for him. I haven't told him yet, but I have secretly been putting one together.

It's nearly done. And just in time too - it's his birthday on Monday!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

What's Going On Here...

Tim and I have been doing a bit of demolition. Because that's what you do before you are about to embark on a family adventure half way around the world. Make a mess and then leave!

Jed loved helping. Especially if it was past his bedtime!

Then we handed over to the professionals. I'm a whizz with a jackhammer, but there were no tears shed (or even a backward glance) when the big guns came in. I'm too busy removing thick coats of dust from two rooms away.

These are everywhere. Now there are no excuses for anyone denying eating my the chocolate stash; I can now identify footprints. I thought I heard my mop starting to groan when I went to use it at the end of the day.

 If Eli dashes off when he knows he is supposed to stay within sight of me, I go straight here:
I can't blame him really. Much more fun than doing the washing to the sound of power tools while your eyelashes are coated in dust!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Peppermint Bark

As I was reading Retromummy's post on peppermint bark I chuckled to myself. The very first paragraph reads:

Put your hand up if you’ve seen peppermint bark on pinterest or in a magazine. Now keep your hand up if you’ve actually made it. Thought so. Are you like me? Always pinning and thinking of trying something new and then you just make old faithful. At Christmas I make rocky road until I can’t look at rocky road again on Christmas day.

Yes, I am like you Corrie! Except my old faithful is an online order of rose Turkish Delight delivered to my door by 2 Brothers Foods. It is absolutely delicious and looks beautiful in a clear cellophane bag. Gotta love simple!

Last Christmas we made these snowmen and I still had leftover peppermint lollies so I seized the moment and started making some peppermint bark. Before school. But after I had made the lunches and checked that everyone had brushed their teeth!
As everything is always done in large quantities in our house, I lined one my super sized lamington trays with baking paper. Just this morning Zoe was chuckling about the 600m (0.37 miles) Glad Wrap dispenser that sits on the kitchen bench. Not a good look, but it is too big to keep taking in and out of the cupboard.

Back to the peppermint bark. Melt your milk chocolate. I used the microwave and it took about two minutes on half the usual power to melt a 375g (about 12 oz) bag. It's always a good idea to stir half way through. Burnt chocolate smell takes about 5 hours to go away. Really.
Add a small blop of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate and mix. Pour the melted chocolate into the base of your tin and put it in the fridge until it is set and cold. I became a little impatient to move onto the next step, so it melted a little when the white chocolate layer was poured on top.

Melt your white chocolate in the same way as the milk chocolate. Don't forget to add your small blop of vegetable oil.

Crush your peppermint lollies/candy canes. I did mine in the Thermomix, but did get a bit carried away with the pulse button. I ended up with more peppermint 'dust' than pieces. May I suggest using a rolling pin to crush yours?

Mix the peppermint dust pieces into the white chocolate.

I managed to save some larger chunks of peppermint that I pressed into the top of the white chocolate layer.

Refrigerate until cold. Remove from the fridge and break into pieces. I found it easiest to do with I knife; push the tip of the knife into the peppermint bark to force it into cracking.

This was very, very popular in our house. So popular that peppermint bark has made its way into one lone cellophane bag.
Time to make another batch I think!

TIP: I prefer thinner layers of chocolate as opposed to thick. My preference is for an overall thickness of about 1.5cm (just over 1/2").

These would make wonderful gifts for neighbours.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Messenger Bag {Tutorial}

I am adding my version to the countless number of messenger (satchel) bags out there. My bag was greatly influenced by mmmcrafts and Zaaberry.

Now, in my opinion, if you are making one, you may as well make two! These lend themselves to an assembly line approach, particularly once all the cutting out is done.

This messenger bag is easy to make, practical and looks fabulous! If you can use a pair of scissors and sew a straight line you can make one (or a hundred!) of these.

I like to use furnishing fabric (or denim) for it's stiffness and durability, but if you don’t mind fusing interfacing to the outer body, outer flap and strap pieces, then cotton works well too!
I am not a fan of sewing zippers, but this zippered pocket is super easy and adds so much to the bag. So don't let the zippered pocket put you off (though it is always optional!).

TIP: Prewash your fabric to remove excess dye. Throw in a couple of colour catchers (available from the laundry aisle of the supermarket) and iron once dry.

NOTE: Unless stated otherwise, sew with a ¼” seam allowance. The seam allowance is included in the measurements.

So, let’s begin!


Using fabric that is 55” wide (140cm), you will need:

·      20” (50cm) for the outer body, lining and strap (I use a plain colour)

·      12” (30cm) for the bag flap and zippered pocket (I use a patterned/contrasting fabric)

You will also need a 7” (18cm)  - or longer - zip.

TIP: These bags are great for using leftover pieces of fabric. The outer bag, lining, flap and pocket don’t have to be all the same!

SUGGESTED FABRIC LAYOUT (single thickness):                 

(Note: not to scale)


1 @ Bag Outer 25” x 14”

1 @ Bag Lining 25” x 14”

1 @ Strap 45” x 4”

2 @ Flap Pieces 12” x 12.5” (be mindful of directional prints! The top of the flap is 12”, while the length is 12.5”)

2 @ Pocket Pieces 10” x 7”

NOTE: The strap is the longest length you will need. For children or those who like to have their bag sitting closer to waist height, a shorter length is needed (43.5").


1.   Flap. Place flap pieces right sides together. Fold in half so the folded piece is now 6” x 12.5”. Place a cd or other similar sized object (mug, lid) in the bottom corner. Trace and cut in order to round the corners.

Pin flap pieces with right sides together. Even if you have an aversion to pins and think that you don’t need them, PIN! Sew around sides and bottom. Do not sew across the top. If you are a speed sewer, slow down on the curves!

Turn right side out and press (iron). Top stitch around the edge. I like to sew two rows of topstitching. Go slowly with the second line of top stitching in order to keep both lines of stitching the same distance apart all the way around. Sew the first line of stitching ¼” from the edge. Sew the second line of stitching ¼” from the first line of stitching.

2.   Internal Zippered Pocket. On the wrong side of one of the pocket pieces draw a 6” x ½” rectangle. Make sure the rectangle is centred and 1” from the top of the pocket piece.

    Draw a horizontal line through the centre of the rectangle. Mark ½” along the centre line from each end of the rectangle. Draw a line from this point to each of the corners of the rectangle.

With right sides together, place the marked pocket piece on the bag lining 1” from the top and in the centre. Make sure that the length of the pocket piece is placed parallel to the width of the lining piece. Pin in place.

With a small stitch length, stitch on the outside line of the rectangle.

Cut along the marked centre line of the rectangle, ensuring that you do not cut to the ends, but follow the ‘y’ shapes you have marked. Get as close to the stitching as possible without snipping through it. This will be your zipper opening!

Pull the pocket piece through the zipper opening and press the opening so that the seams look pretty and lie flat. I like to iron from the pocket side first and then the lining side (front), as shown in the following photo sequence.

Turn your fabric over so that the lining is now facing up.
Pin the zipper in place. Ensure that the zipper pull is entirely exposed at one end (so that it won’t get caught when it starts being used!).

Note: Place your zipper so that the zipper pull is on the same side as the lining fabric. This is the part that you will see inside your messenger bag.

Stitch all the way around the zipper. I use my regular ¼” foot for this (because I didn’t want to have to change to a zipper foot!) and it is just fine. Start half-way along the zipper. Stop stitching when you get close to the zipper pull (make sure the needle is down!), lift up the foot and move the zipper pull away. If you have used a longer zip, trim the end ½” from the end.

Now we're going to add the back of the pocket.

With right sides together, pin the second pocket piece to the first. Ensure that the lining does not get caught up (you only want to be pinning the two pocket pieces).

Stitch around your pocket taking care to move the lining out of the way so that it doesn’t get included in the stitching!

3.   Strap. With right sides together, press the strap in half length wise so that it is 2” x 45”. Sew along the length to close it. Turn right side out using your preferred method. I usually use a pair of scissors for turning, but at this length I use the largest safety pin I can get my hands on!

Press and then sew down each side. The ends will be left raw (they will be hidden later!).

TIP: A tag with initials on it is a great way to personalise your bag. I use cotton tape and an ordinary ink pad to stamp initials before sewing on to the strap 3" or 4" from the end.
4.   Bag Outer. With right sides together, fold the body of the bag in half so that the widths are together. Folded, it should measure 14” x 12.5”. Sew down each side, leaving the top open. Press well, so that the folded bottom edge has a crisp crease.

Cut a 2” square from the two bottom corners.

From the one of the cut corners, pull the two fabrics apart and align the seams of the side with the crease at the bottom. 

The raw edges will also be aligned. Sew along the raw edge. Repeat for the other corner.

5.   Bag Lining. Same as the bag outer.

6.   Bag Assembly. Turn the outer bag right way out. Leave the bag lining inside out. With right sides together, pin the strap to the sides of the outer bag (open out the seam) and baste in place. I like to overhang the ends of the strap by an inch; the extra length places some extra distance between the stitching and edges that may fray.


·      Adjust the strap length according to the recipient. I usually trim the strap to 43.5” for a primary school aged child (the length includes a 1/2” overlap at each end). For tall children and adults I usually keep the strap at 45”.

·      Try the bag on when the strap is still pinned and make adjustments as necessary.

·      Make sure the strap is not twisted!

With right sides together pin the flap to the outer bag. The raw edges of the flap will be slightly shorter than the raw edges of the outer bag. Centre the flap. Put the bag on and check that the flap is the right way around when it is closed. Baste in place.

With the bag lining inside out, pin the bag lining to the bag outer. You are basically putting the bag outer inside the bag lining. It’s a bit squishy trying to fit the flap and strap inside as well, but the important thing is to make sure that everything is tucked inside and the raw edges of the bag outer and lining match up. Also try and match up the side seams of the outer bag with the bag lining.
Putting the outer into the lining.

I like the zippered pocket closest to the body when the bag is worn, so when pinning I make sure that the pocket is on the same side as the flap.

Increase your seam allowance (to ½” or ¾”) and sew around the top of the bag. Start at the non flap side (just before the strap), leaving a large opening for turning.

TIP: Sew over each end of the strap a few times to make it more secure.
Turn and press the top edge of the bag. Top stitch, taking care when closing up the opening that was left for turning.

Stand back and admire your creation!

If you have any questions - or suggestions - I would love to hear from you!

Please note: this tutorial is for personal use only. 

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