Card Wallet

Paper Card Wallet

So as an extra present for boyfriend I decided to make him a little card wallet- I had seen this post on Country Living about making a card wallet from old postcards and decided to try something similar.  The Country Living version required sewing the postcards which I wasn’t sure my sewing machine could handle, and I had just bought a roll of sticky vinyl (why not?) so I used that to hold it together.

I used a page from an old A6 diary which was almost the perfect size, I just needed to trim it down slightly.  I folded it in half around a card from my purse to check the size.  I then cut out a curve at the top of one side to allow easy access to the cards.  Then I wrapped the sticky vinyl around it to tape it together.

Card Wallet Card WalletCard WalletCard WALLET Card Wallet

Book Review- Queenie by Alice Munro

Is reading a craft?  I think writing is so reading is the appreciation of a craft…

Alice Munro recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature for her short stories.  I have always had a problem with shirt stories; they seem to stop when they have just got going.  That being said I am put off by giant tomes (particularly lugging them around in my bag) and in that spirit my sister gave me Queenie for Christmas saying ‘You like short things so I got you this’, or words to that effect.  And it is short; 60 A6 pages in reasonably sized font.  In fact, I finished it on my way to work with ample time to contemplate it!

It’s set in the 1960’s I think, they mention ‘beehive’ hair and ‘The Byrds’, and is about the eponymous Queenie who leaves home when she is 18 to married a horrible, controlling older widower.  Or rather it’s about her sister who is telling the story giving shades of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (my favourite book which is traumatising to read! So many awful things happen!)  Of course I’m simplifying here as I don’t want to give spoilers or ramble on too long.

In 60 little pages, without being sentimental, Alice Munro effectively tugged at my heartstrings making me angry in parts but mainly sad.  It may not be the best book to read on your way to work as it cast a certain gloom over the day.  And perturbation as the ending leaves many questions unanswered, you can even grieve for the characters misery as it’s not clear if that’s the appropriate emotion.

I enjoyed reading it.  It was frustrating because it felt like only half the story, but I think that was also the power of it too; a snapshot of the lives of a family you’ve never met.


Cool Find- Martin and Paloma Munoz

Traveler 266, 2009 ©Walter Martin & Paloma Munoz
Traveler 266, 2009 ©Walter Martin & Paloma Munoz

I was looking for snow globe inspiration for some Christmas ones I was planning to make and I stumbled upon these cool ones by Martin and Paloma Munoz famous for their sculptures and photographs of sculptures that contrast pristine settings and grisly scenes.

Traveler 270, 2011 ©Walter Martin & Paloma Munoz
Traveler 270, 2011 ©Walter Martin & Paloma Munoz

2014 Craft Resolutions

Well I’m not sure resolutions ever really work out but I thought I would jot down a few of my plans for the next year and perhaps I can look back this time next year and see how many I followed through on.

  1. Organise my craft stuff- I do this periodically but it always gets messy again.  I’d like to have a dedicated space/room for it all and separate sewing stuff from paper stuff etc  I am planning to move into a bigger place in the Spring so hopefully the spare bedroom will become a craft/TV room.
  2. Make candles.
  3. Make soap.
  4. Do interesting things with washi tape- I just bought 3 rolls and am in need of projects!
  5. Learn how to crochet and make one of the crocheted robots from my crobots book.
  6. Make trousers- successfully!
  7. Experiment with photography and lomography.
  8. Cook more meals for myself and share them on my blog.

That’s it.  Just 8, seems a bit pathetic if I can’t do that in 12 months!  But it’s hard to plan ahead, so maybe I will do a 6 month review and add some more!


Upcycling Clothing

I thought it might be nice, as the new year is nearly upon us (2014!) to do a mini review of some of the clothes I’ve made this year.

I think a lot of people take the New Year as an opportunity to wash the slate clean and start things afresh but sometimes we are too eager to throw out the slightly tarnished and replace with the shiny and new and assume that will automatically be better.  So, before I launch into a stinging attack on our modern consumerist throw-away culture that alienates even myself, I decided to focus this post not on the new clothes I’ve made but the alterations I’ve made to old clothes, particularly those I’ve bought from second-hand shops.

I quite like buying clothes that are far too big for me and taking them in, knowing I have plenty of extra fabric to work with.

dress adjustment
This dress was a size 22, and I am a 10. It was about £10, and has an awesome fake pocket square which I kept! I bought it from a charity shop (Scope I think) in York.
velvet dress77
This is not a great photo, but I bought this large velvet dress, took it in, and made it shorter. I also adjusted the neckline which isn’t clear in the photo but I faked that the top was a wrap around and gave it a V-neck instead of a round neck.
Velvet Dress
You can see the detail a little better in this photo.
Duvet Dress
I bought a single duvet from a local charity shop for less than £5 and used it to make this dress.
Blue Blouse
I may not look like I did anything radical to this blouse but I did have to make changes to make it wearable. I bought it at a vintage fair for £2 (I got 5 things for £10 in a special offer).
Blue Blouse
I took the elastic and bows from of the cuffs, and sewed the bows on the bottom of the blouse. I unpicked and resewed the collar so it didn’t stand upright but lay flat and lost the ribbon. I also lost the belt thingy.

How To Make A Backpack

Prepare yourself for a loooooong post!

Backpacks are quite annoying imo- it takes about ten minutes every time you need to get your purse out, however they are a lot more comfortable than carrying a heavy shoulder bag and really useful for the gym, cycling, etc.  I wanted a little one for going cycling and I couldn’t find one in the shops I liked so I decided to make my own.  My first one was good (a combo of giraffe print and denim) but a little too small and the straps were a little tight.  But on my next attempt I was able to fix all these things- this time I went for blue camouflage and black corduroy.  I figured out how to make a lined backpack with straps, and a flap over the opening, it’s not hard just fiddly to do everything in the right way and order so here goes:

Backpack1. Cut out your pieces, I made my bag approximately 42cm x 65cm so I cut out two rectangles in the fabric that were 42cm x 65cm with some extra for seam allowance, and two in the lining fabric that were 45cm x 65cm and some seam allowance ( the three centimeters extra in the lining in for the drawstring.  You also need two straps, I made mine 65cm x 5cm (and seam allowance) and cut two in the fabric and two in the lining.  Then you need the flap over the bag opening, I made it a rhombus shape (yes I said rhombus, deal with it) which is 34cm along the top edge and 20cm high.  You also need cord, toggles, and backpack clips (which I got at the market).

2. Sew the strap fabric to the strap lining right sides together along the long edges (you don’t need to worry about the short edges, and turn the right way around.

3. If you are using back pack clips you will need to attached them to the font piece of you bag now.  You also need to attach some fabric strips to the other half of the clips (the half that will attach to the flap).  And if you have any pockets to put on the front add them now too.

Backpack4. Make the flap by sewing the outer fabric to the lining right sides together and sewing along the side seams.  Now take the flap clips and attach them to the flap by inserting them between the fabric and lining at the open bottom edge.  When you sew them in place you shouldn’t be able to see them, they should be hidden inside the flap rather than hanging out the edge.  Then turn it the right way around, and the clips will hang out.

5. Take the main bag pieces and sew the outer fabric pieces right sides together along the side seams, and then do the same for the lining.  Turn the bag the right way out but keep the lining inside out, then place the fabric bag inside the lining bag.

6. Take a long piece of your lining fabric for your drawstring (the size of this depends on the size of your bags but it needs to be double the width of your bag plus a few extra centimeters for seam allowance (so in my case about 70cm long) and about 4 cm wide. Fold in half width ways (so it is long and thin) wrong sides together.

7. Ok, this is the tricky bit!  You need to sandwich all these pieces together but in the correct order.  Take the bag body at the top edge with the bag faced down (remember you attached the clips to the bag front already and use those as your guide as to what’s the front and top of the bag).


Between the lining and the bag place the straps (placed one at each side next to the side seams and with the outer fabric facing up, and the strap lining facing down).  On top of the straps place the flap (with the open end of the flap at the top of the bag, with the outer fabric of the flap facing down).  The the drawstring tube- find the half way point of the tube and match it to the center of the back of the bag.  You should now have a bag sandwich that goes outer fabric, strap, flap, tube, lining and all of these elements should be hidden inside the bag.  Pin all this in place.

8. Turn the bag over- still working on the top of the bag but now the front.  Carry on pinning the draw string tube inbetween the bag and lining.  Then sew through all the layers attaching the bag and lining together.

9. Now start working on the bottom of the bag.  Find the ends of the shoulder straps and pull them out of the bottom of the bag- make sure they aren’t twisted.  Pin the straps in place.

10.  Reach inside the lining bag and pull out the outer bag and sew along the bottom edge of the bag including the straps you have pinned in place.  Place the bag back inside the lining and sew the bottom edge of the lining leaving a hole about 5cm wide.


11. Now reach through the hole and pull the entire bag out- check it over carefully and make sure everything is in the right place and there are no holes.  Then hand sew the hole in the lining as neatly as possible.  Then put the lining bag inside the outer bag.

12. Thread the drawstrings through the tube at the top and add the toggles, and you’re done!

Backpack Back

Merry Christmas!

A quote from Mr Dickens:

Reflect upon your present blessings- of which every man has many- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

Fill your glass again with a merry face and contended heart.

Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry and your New Year a happy one.  So may the New Year be a happy one to you, happy to many more whose happiness depends on you!

So may each year be happier than the last.



Lomography Diana F+ Camera

All my cameras- except the one Im using to take the picture!
Diana F+
My New Diana F+

My pre-christmas present to myself is a Diana F+ camera!  If you are unfamiliar with lomography it is essentially analogue rather than digital, shooting on film and seemingly going back in time.  You just have to shoot and experiment and you can’t see if any of your shots have come off until you’ve used up the entire film and had it developed.

It produces quirky and unique photos usually because of things like accidental multiple exposures or using dodgy film that would be prevented or deleted if you were using a digital camera.  The films are also quite expensive too- particularly when you’re used to taking 1000s of photos at a time at no extra cost.

The Diana is a classic lomo camera and the F+ means it has flash capability, although I actually bought it without the flash element to save money!  It has a range of picture sizes, I can do endless panaramic shots, pinhole shots, use different types of film, and play around with exposure settings.  I am not a lomography expert my any means- I do already have one camera which has a fisheye lens but I got a bit tired of just taking fisheye photos.  I also got sick of carrying the camera as they are so bulky (and the lens doesn’t retract) you can’t put it in your pocket.  Also I couldn’t quite let go of my digital camera so I was juggling two cameras when I went out!

Anyway, this one was about £33 for the camera and £13 for 3 films, so I went for it.  Ill play with it over Christmas and maybe Ill have some fun photos to share when I come back!

Fabric Christmas Tree

We always have a real Christmas Tree at home but they are large and expensive so I made myself a cute little fabric one last that I’ve brought out again this year.

It was quite simple to make- I cut out 6 large triangles (four in one fabric and two in another), and sewed them into pairs (leaving the bottom side open).

Christmas Tree

I lay the three triangles on top of each other and sewed them all together vertically up the middle.  The I stuffed all the pockets with toy stuffing and sewed up the bottom seams.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

I wrapped a piece of brown fabric around the bottom as the trunk but that is mostly hidden because I put the tree in a small metal plant pot I bought.  I already had the fabric and the toy stuffing so the only thing I had to buy was the plant pot which only cost a few pounds (toy stuffing is very cheap and fabric can be cheap if you buy remnants).  

And that was that!  I have to pin my tree decorations on to as there’s nothing to hang them on which looks silly but I like it!

Boyfriend thinks it ‘looks nice, sort of like a cucumber’ which is exactly what I was going for so that’s good.

Su Blackwell

Cool Find- Su Blackwell

Cool Find

I saw paper/book artist Su Blackwell at the Bronte Museum a while back and it was pretty cool; she had cut up some of the Bronte’s books to create her work.  She has a gallery of comissioned works on her website that are awesome (but very expensive!).

Su Blackwell

I like that her work is a lot less mass produced than Rob Ryan (who is much more well known) who’s paper cut outs are on everything including things like tea towels here they are clearly now cut out, and even the cut out cards are done by machine not by hand.