Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sewing with Red Back Spiders (fabric that is)

Today I got a chance to do the first sewing I have done in months.  I have been busy doing home renovations and repairs recently and this is a big drain on time.  Today, though, I dusted off the overlocker and sewing machine a whipped up a nice new shirt using my Red Back Spider print fabric.  The design was just basically an extension of my favorite singlet pattern.  It was quick and fun.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Magic Drape Curtain Fabric - The Easiest and Most Professional Looking Curtains I've Ever Made

I just thought I would share with you the curtains I whipped up recently using Magic Drape eyelet curtain fabric. I have to say this was the easiest curtain I have ever made and the results are wonderful.  The eyelet fabric is really nicely finished and I went with a triple weave fabric which is really good for blocking out the sun.  The curtains only took me a couple of hours to finish.

You can see from my before and after curtain views I went from a wooden pole with wooden rings and the curtain suspended from hooks on a curtain tape.  The old curtain was three pieces and had a separate lining sewn onto the back to make it dark enough.  I like dark blue curtains but in the before version because my old set were too short for the space (I underestimated) I ended up filling the space with a repurposed curtain from somewhere else.

Before View
 You can see from the after view I kept the same kind of colour scheme but this time with a clean simple metal pole (no rings or hooks) and an eyelet topped curtain.
After View
 You can see the main problems with the old curtain here: light gaps and hooks falling off the rings which is a continuous battle.

Before View
 The new eyelet top slides open really well and sits neatly both open and closed.

After View
Here's a few handy tips I can share: I went with about twice the length of the space as my fabric purchase.  My space was 220cm and I got 450cm of fabric.  But the little extra was necessary to match up the eyelets.  The very helpful assistant at Spotlight said her biggest tip with  this fabric is to make sure you have an even number of eyelets on each curtain.  By that I mean for my curtains I had 10 eyelets on each of the two drops.  This allowed me to create perfect 'waves' of curtain that started and ended at the wall so all of the back of the curtain is hidden when it is hung in place. The small extra fabric I got in 450cm allowed me to get 20 eyelets (10 each drop) and I only had about 35cm left over.
The fabric comes in about a 240cm drop. I don't like floor length curtains but I also don't like the light coming in under the curtains.  So I went with a drop to just below the height of the bed in the room (190cm). This allows excellent blackout by keeps the floor clear of the carpet. I also added four weights to the bottom corners of the curtains to assist drape.  I just used some mid-sized hardware washers covered in interfacing and stitched these into the bottom seam of the curtain. 
I am also going to add a handy tip I saw in an old book. I am going to get two stick-on wall hooks and attach them down low on the outer edge of each window area and then attach a little plastic ring to the back of the curtain.  This will allow me to secure the outer edge of the curtain against the wall to stop the tiny bit of light at the edges.
The eyelet fabric moves really well along the metal pole set I got and I followed someone else tip which was to get the biggest diametre pole set that fits the rings to ensure a strong curtain and also to limit light.

I got the Magic Drape eyelet fabric and pole set I used from Spotlight on sale and it is a really great result. I am already keen to replace all my curtains with the same effect. No more annoying hooks coming off curtain rings and no more dusty wood poles and rings for me.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Archive of craft magazines is becoming my new blog -

Handmade Australia number 7

I am an avid collector of craft magazines.  I have hundreds of them, just filled to the brim with really useful techniques and inspiring ideas. The one thing I didn't have was an archive of them - lists of which one's I have and just what they contain. 

So I decided to create a blog archive of my collection of craft magazines, starting with Handmade Australia.  If you too love craft magazines and have always wanted a list, this is my new blog:

Over time I will be adding all of my collection. It may take a while though.  There are over 300 Handmade magazines alone!

Handmade magazine issue 1

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Felt Insect Sculptures and my new venture Crafty Bug Lady


I have always loved insects.  They are endlessly variable and fascinating.  They inhabit our space but its like we are landscape to them. I have become obsessed with constructing giant bug soft sculptures out of wool felt hand-stitched over an armature.

The results have been really pleasing to date.  I have so far made three giant Brown Ants, a Huntsman Spider and a Redback Spider, a Praying Mantis and a Honey Bee. All are far larger than actual size and while not completely accurate are quite life-like and also able to be posed because of their construction.

I decided to create a business around these lovely creatures called Crafty Bug Lady.  Its only brand new but I have set up a Madeit store for the finished insects, and have been turning their photos into Spoonflower fabrics. I have also set up a new blog to discuss the mechanics of setting up a craft micro-business given this process can be a challenge and writing from the beginning means I capture a lot of the steps. 

If you are interested my blog is over here:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Fine Felt Friends

Welcome to the world of my fine felt friends. 

Imagine a wonderful play land with vibrant colours and fun friends to play.  I have imagined this idea ever since I was a child. The play land has evolved over time but the concept has been inside me for a long time. 

Now I have turned this idea into a reality using my crafting skills.

The dolls are created by me and made by hand. They are designed to be simple, fairly androgynous, and ageless. Their clothing is designed specifically to be clean and simple while still being able to be altered a little to each dolls personality. I wanted the look of the dolls to be young and without modern trappings. Hair is deliberately a little wild but also fun. These characters are not about being fashionable or caught up in consumerist circles but rather to be without pretensions. 

The dolls and their world have been designed to made from easily recognisable parts so that people can easily identify the makings of the world so it is familiar. The world itself is inspired by children's stories and fairy-tales from your childhood but it is not a copy just an echo of these things.

All the parts are designed to be posed, even the plants. I want a world that can change and be added to. The world I have created for them is equally all made by hand.

This is just the beginning of a place I want to explore with my art.

I played with some photos and then turned the images into some interesting items at Redbubble. The possibilities are now all presenting themselves to me.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Handmade Sherlock Holmes inspired Christmas Stocking

My daughter is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes stories.  She wanted a Christmas stocking to show her obsession and I obliged.

I drafted up a simple stocking and used some wonderful fabrics found on Spoonflower to construct.  The outside is the iconic address of 221B Baker Street.  The inside is steampunk style cogs which I thought matched the thinking processes of Mr Holmes.

I finished the top of the stocking with a plate for a key hole.  The project probably took an hour and was well received by the fan.

Monday, October 12, 2015

DIY Ancient Egyptian Party Ideas - Thrifty Things to Make

I recently hosted my mothers 70th birthday surprise party. She has always been keen on Ancient Egyptian artifacts so it seemed a good choice. You can go with the really old Egyptian period, or the 1920's style Archeology and digs, or even Indiana Jones style adventures.



To keep costs down, I decided to create as much of the makings for the party as possible. Some worked better than others, but I thought I'd share the ideas and the outcomes to inspire your own attempt to walk like and Egyptian.

I had lots of notice for the party and was able to call on the talents of my dad who is very good at building to create some of the props.  I decided I would like a folding room divider that could be used as a backdrop for the photos as well as a nice keepsake for my mum. This mural would be of hieroglyphs. 
My father built a three panel screen just using lightweight disposal wood and hinges.  The panels are all 180cm tall and 48cm wide and are hinged. To decorate, I stapled calico on the frame.  I then added plaster bandage strips randomly over the surface to add depth like a rock wall.  I painted the whole surface with a couple of coats of flat white house paint, and then started to decorate.
The design was (hopefully) the words, "Mother Happy Birthday" in hieroglyphs - I googled this so it may not be right.  I first sketched and then painted on the images.  After the painting was dry I washed the whole surface with a runny brown paint wash to age it up a bit and then added a bit of pastels to give age to the pictures.  I then sprayed the front with a couple of coats of gloss clear lacquer. The back is just covered with black calico stapled on afterwards.

For the present table, I used the services of Spoonflower to create a couple of custom collages of Ancient Egyptian images and had them printed onto fabric.  I used these as a base for the table and also made a couple of throw pillows to match.

For the rest of the table decorations, I used an old but lovely sari as table clothes, as well as a couple of op-shop runners in ethnic looking colors or blue.

I also got my clever father to whip up a small box to decorate as a sarcophagus, just by adding some cardboard shapes to the outside.  For the details, I found a FIMO press mould of egyptian items and used this with translucent FIMO with gold paint rubbed over for effect.

I used a bunch more cardboard to create a giant sphinx (its about 80cm long and 35cm high).  I covered this in layers of sprayed on Aquadhere and sand.  Its got a nice rocky feel.

I used little wooden bunting from  Kikki K kit to make door and window bunting.

My sister, the cooking genius whipped up and amazing cake in the shape of a packing case containing a mummy.  The case was gingerbread, the inside filled with mud cake and the mummy was marzipan.  She decorated the whole lot with Persian fairy floss packing material.  Amazing!

The day was a wonderful success and my mother has lots of her very own "artifacts" to enjoy into the future.