Showing posts with label Handmade - Sewing and Mending. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Handmade - Sewing and Mending. Show all posts

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sew Your Own Christmas Wrapping

From Amy at

Here's a repost from my blog, but perfect for the season, I think! You could start making a few of these this year, adding some each year and eventually phasing out disposable, expensive paper wrapping altogether! It's an easy, satisfying project; have fun!


I'd been meaning to make reusable cloth bags to put Christmas presents in, but it took a girlfriend showing up with piles of fabric and initiative to finally get the project off the ground!


Luckily we have two sewing machines, so Rachel and I were able to work side by side making tons of little cloth bags to hold Christmas presents. She chose a variety of Christmas-y prints, while I limited my palette to red and white.

Christmas bags3

I used French seams on mine to make them a bit more durable and also to give the insides a nice finished look. Once I got into a groove I was able to crank out quite a few!


There were huge quilted ones, tiny striped ones and plenty of plain red ones made of sturdy duck cloth. I opted not to do a drawstring or anything, for simplicity's sake. I'm a ribbon hoarder, so we have plenty of lovely ribbons to tie the tops. I can't wait to see them all stuffed and under the tree!


Friday, 13 November 2009

Make a Pillowcase Apron

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
Once you start getting into the simple lifestyle, sooner or later you're going to want an apron. So make one - they're a perfect project for beginning sewers. I have a favorite granny bib-style, H-back, one that I usually wear. But I like having a couple extra aprons around too - guest aprons, you might say. My sister and her family usually visit for Thanksgiving. She loves it when I offer her an apron to wear too. It just makes her feel more "in the spirit", she says.

As well as for yourself, and maybe your guests, consider making an extra apron or two for Tie One On Day. Started by EllynAnne Geisel, it's a way to put the "give" back in Thanksgiving: "Participation is simple. On the day before Thanksgiving, November 25th this year, pause in the preparation of your own meal, wrap a loaf of bread or other baked good in an apron, tuck a prayer or note of encouragement in the pocket, and deliver the wrapped bundle to someone without your bounty - a neighbor, friend or family member in need of physical or spiritual sustenance, a bit of recognition, or just a kind word."

A quick and easy way to make a cute half-apron is to start with a pillowcase. Nice ones can usually be found at your local thrift store for $1 or less. I look for ones with some kind of different print or decoration around the opening end. That end makes the skirt of your apron - cut it between 16 and 20 inches long for a nice length. I measure where I want to make my cuts, making little snips in the edge. Then I fold and smooth the pillowcase over at a snipped place, slipping my scissors inside the fold and cutting across to make straight cuts. The middle cross-cuts make the waistband and ties. Cut two equally sized strips 3-4 inches wide (I'm using a King case here, so I had enough material to cut three. I used one as a center piece and then trimmed half off the other two. Using all three would make ties long enough to wrap around and tie in front - would be cute too). Cut the sewn side seam off the skirt and waistband/tie pieces, and open them up at the fold. The closed end will make the two pockets, so don't cut the pillowcase seams on that piece.

Fold the raw side edges of the skirt over twice to the wrong side, press, and sew down.

Make the pockets by cutting the top corner parts of the case into two equal squares or rectangles (discard the center piece). Turn the corner inside-out, flatten, and stitch down the remaining two open sides, leaving a couple of inches left unstitched to be able to turn right-side out. Clip off the tip of your corner, just beyond your stitches, turn right-side out, (then use a crochet hook or unclicked click pen to push the corners out to a nice point) and press flat, tucking the unsewn part evenly to the inside. Repeat for the other pocket.

Lay the skirt out flat and position the pockets an inch or two on either side of the center, 4-6 inches down from the top. Try different positions until you have something you like best - maybe with the pattern running perpendicular to the skirt's or putting the pockets on an angle. Just make sure that the unstitched part of the pocket edge isn't part of the top edge (top-stitch it to close it up if you just have to have it on the top part). Pin in place, then sew down three sides close to the edge of the pocket, leaving the top open. I like to spin the pocket around and run a second line of stitching just inside the first (reinforcement - don't want to be losing anything through a hole in your pocket). You might like the look of using a contrasting color of thread too.

Join the ends of the waistband/ties, sewing with right sides together. Press the seam edges open, and then fold one long side over towards the wrong side, and press. Find the center of the long piece, then lay the long piece right-side UP on your work surface with the folded side farther away from you.

Lay the skirt, also right-side UP, on top of the long piece, matching centers of both pieces and the raw edges closest to you, and put a pin in the center through both pieces. You can just pin the pieces together flat, but I like to gather or pleat the skirt a bit. If you want to gather yours, measure out equal distances either side of your center pin on the long narrow piece, and pin the outside edges of the skirt there (4-8 inches closer to center is usually good). Keeping the narrow piece laid down straight and flat, then make the skirt part lay flat by making up the slack pinning down pleats or gathers, keeping the raw edge of both pieces even. Mirror what you do to one side of center on the other side too. Sew skirt to band (I find it easiest to have the skirt part up when sewing too, so that I can do any final adjustments to my pleats or gathers - just keep the band part underneath lying flat).

Fold the bottom edge of the waist ties up and press. Fold the top edge down, matching the folded edges together on the ties, and covering the line of stitching on the front of the skirt, and pin. Tuck the raw ends of the ties to the inside and pin them too, making a nice corner.

Top stitch the end of a tie, along the folded edges, across the top front of the skirt, along the folded edge of the other tie and across the end. A final quick pressing and you're done!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

3 tips for reconstructing clothing

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Sometime ago I wrote here about how I learned how to sew. To save you clicking on to that post, basic summary is that I had taught myself (with some help from friends, youtube and various online tutorials), using second-hand equipment and old clothing. I learned by reconstructing clothing.

What is reconstructing clothing?

Basically its when you cut-up or cover-up all or parts of old clothing and turn it into "new" clothing.

Recently I turned up to a work function wearing one of my reconstructed dress. When some of my workmates admired the dress, I told them that the dress used to be an old jumper (I think called "sweater" in other countries) and several of them stated, "how could you even see a dress out of the jumper in the first place?"

I think some people are put off with the idea of reconstructed clothing because they don't know where to start and think it involves a tremendous amount of creativity and/or skill. The thing is that when I first reconstructed clothing, I did not have much skill. I also hadn't had much of a chance to nurture my creativity at that point. So I thought I'd share my top 3 tips for reconstructing clothing.

Tip 1: Don't be scared to cut it.

The thing is that old clothing is either CHEAP (if you bought it from an op shop) or TAKING UP SPACE (because its taking up space). I approached the whole thing as a learning adventure. If I ruined it then the $1-$5 I paid for it is worth the lessons I learned - including learning what DOESN'T work. After all, if you were paying to go to sewing classes, its a lot more expensive than $5!!

If its taking up space - then think of it as another way to declutter. This is especially true for those items not quite good enough to donate to charity but not quite bad enough to throw in the bin. And if you ruin it...well, then at least you won't feel so bad throwing it out and once again, you would've learned some valuable lessons.

Just do it!

Tip 2: Use the clothes you have (that you do wear) as a guide.

If you're unsure how to cut it or shape it, then just use your current clothing as a guide. I have a fitted jacket that I love. I love it 'cause the cut of the jacket is flattering for my body shape. So I use that jacket as a guide for cutting. Basically I just lie it over the top of what I'm going to cut. Use chalk (or pen) to draw and then cut.... just make sure you add a seam allowance as you cut!

Jacket that I used as my guide to cut the leather jacket (above) and to make my party dress

Tip 3: As you unpick or cut, make notes or take photos!

Not just for blogging purposes...but so that you can learn new techniques. The first time I unpicked a sleeve, I couldn't believe how ingenious the shape of it was! I would never have guessed that in order to make a sleeve, it had to be that particular shape. Now me, I made notes, but its only when I am writing this article that I realise that it would've actually been faster to take photos.

There are so many clothes/styles out there that are put together so cleverly. Use the deconstruction time as an opportunity to learn new techniques. You'll never know when you'll need them!

And those are my general tips. Anyone have any more?

Oh and if the thought of reconstructing clothing attracts you as a project, then you may want to check out these websites:

Reconstructed Clothing Discussion Board at

Threadbanger's Channel at

Wardrobe Refashion

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Monday, 27 July 2009

My Cloth Revolution

by Colleen

Over the past year and a half, I have been a Cloth Revolutionary at my house. Little by little, disposable paper items are disappearing from our landscape, only to be replaced by colourful, reusable Cloth replacements.

The first step in our Cloth Revolution was the switch to cloth diapers. We did this when our daughter was 11 months old, after visiting with some friends whose daughter was using cloth. The cloth diapers seemed so cute and cozy, and more "natural" than the crinkly perfumed plastic ones we were using. I was nervous about the workload, but found them not to be that much work. We have a small washer that plugs into our sink, and we dry them (as pictured) on our collapsable drying rack.

The main benefit I saw right away was cost. We went with cotton prefold diapers, which are about the cheapest you can go, and we used some high-tech fleece-lined, microfibre-insert pocket style diapers for night time. I think the four night time diapes cost around the same as our two dozen prefolds with four or five covers. It has been great not to worry about having to drive out to Costco to get the best deal on diapers.

My next Revolutionary Act was to replace my tampons and pads with a set of beautiful, comfortable, reusable Lunapads. This was after doing some reading about how tampons have dioxins in them left over from the bleaching process, which can then be absorbed into your body when you use them. Also, after having my baby, I found them uncomfortable to use, and pads were bulky and expensive.

As the stickers say, "I ♥ my lunapads"! They are so comfortable and beautiful. The nicest thing about them is that I never run out! I had bought myself an "Intro kit", and then after using them for a couple of months, I got another kit to round out my collection. It has a good selection of sizes, thicknesses, etc. for different stages of my cycle. My only disappointment is that I got pregnant again right after my second kit arrived! At least I know they are waiting for me when I start my cycle again.

Next I replaced paper towels with cloth napkins. On a trip to Sudbury to visit my parents I stopped into an adorable new store called Mimi & Lulu. They have all sorts of beautiful handmade clothes, aprons, bags, toys and crafts, as well as a selection of fabrics so beautiful I thought I was looking at a magazine or something. I honestly don't think I've seen such gorgeous fabric in stores, ever.

The best thing (for me) was their remnant bags, a bunch of colour-co-ordinated fabric bits from their collection, mixed with some cute vintage finds, all for $13. Inside was enough fabric (in the right size) to make more than 10 napkins, some of which I kept & use, and some of which I gave away as gifts.

It's so nice to use cloth napkins, especially ones in such cute fabrics. They seem to add a touch of class to every meal.

Home-Made Toilet PaperThe next item is a bit more . . . unusual, and I hesitate to mention it in my first post on the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op, but here goes: the next paper product I replaced was toilet paper. Well, not entirely, but I made some lovely wipes that my daughter and I use for #1. Being pregnant and having to drink a lot of water, this saves me a huge amount of toilet paper. I just throw them in with the diapies and wash them often.

My most recent Revolutionary change was to make some cloth kleenex (tissues). Once again, so cute! Once again, so comfortable! I made them from some cloth I had in mystash, so I consider them basically free to me. We haven't yet been through a major cold or flu with these, but I will report back on how they fare. I just throw them in any wash I'm doing (except for darks!) and they stay nice and absorbant.

Besides these recent changes, I have always used cloth rags for cleaning rather than paper towels or even J-cloths. It's a great way to re-purpose old towels and t-shirts, and if a rag gets too dirty, I just throw it away.

For me, this process has been about saving money, being green, and more importantly, finding a better product to replace the cheap disposables in my life. If you have replaced something I've missed, please let me know! I'm always open to making more frugal & green changes in my life, and sharing them with the world.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Homemade Cloth Facial Wipes

By Julie
Towards Sustainability

Around 18 months ago, I was working steadily on getting rid of all the disposable, one-use products in my home. I was still using cotton wool balls in the bathroom to apply (homemade) facial toner, so I decided to make my own cloth wipes to replace them.

It was very simple! I raided my stash of old flannel nappies (diapers) and cut one of the plain white ones into small rectangles, folded them in half to make a square - and add some bulk to the wipes - and sewed up the three remaining sides on my sewing machine. Voila! Homemade facial wipes.

The beauty of these is because they are so small, any small fabric scraps or remnants in a suitably absorbent fabric could be used, as can old or thrifted flanelette sheets or pillowcases, for example.

If you have one, using an overlocker/serger to whip around the edges would make them twice as quick to make, but if you don't have a machine, hand sewing them wouldn't take very long either.

I made them squares merely because it was the most efficient use of the fabric, but I know some of my blogger friends made round ones.

When I have used one I pop it into a mesh washing bag (the kind you use for lingerie) I keep in the bathroom drawer. When it's full, I pop it all into a hot wash with the tea towels and dishcloths and dry them in the sun.

Simple, green and frugal!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Are You Using the Envelope System?

Heather Beauty That Moves

The envelope system for budgeting one's money/cash has been written about very nicely in many places on the web. If you are not familiar with this system please check out some great info at the following places:
The Simple Mom
Envelope System Tutorial

For quite some time I have wanted to implement this system for our family. Part of what has kept me from getting started (procrastination aside) was the lack of an 'envelope' that seemed suitable. Standard paper envelopes would be messy and not very secure, could easily tear, and would need regular replacing which seemed wasteful. Plastic pencil cases (I've seen this suggested) seemed a little large and I honestly couldn't get too excited about purchasing a bunch of plastic cases. Eventually, I came to my crafty senses and found my solution lying right in my own supplies.

Following this tutorial, I made four (to start, I bet I'll think of one or two more categories) cloth, reusable zipper pouches, sewed a strip of linen (leaving the edges raw) to the front, and used rubber stamps with fabric ink to spell the words of my cash spending categories. I carefully chose to make these just a bit larger than our American currency, I wanted them to be just big enough.

I used a 7 inch zipper, and cut my fabric pieces (outside and lining) 4.25" x 9". There is a little squaring-up that takes places after all the pieces are attached to the zipper, this combined with seam allowances made these measurements work really nicely for finished money pouches..

My Categories:
Threads (clothing)
Good Times (dining out, movies, concerts, museums...)

I chose not to use a cash envelope for gas/fuel. Here in the states we can pay at the gas pump with a debit card - having a child in the car it works well to just go ahead and pay this way rather than running into the store with cash for the clerk. Currently, my daughter has been asking to go into the store to pay (if we are using cash), but it is summertime and I just don't see her interest in leaving the warm car lasting through the winter months. ;) So, because I see no long-term pattern here, I skipped making a pouch for petro.

Do any of you use this system? What works for you - what doesn't work? I am so looking forward to the sense of control, organization, and order that I imagine comes with this practice.

As a side note - as I was reading up on this method I read a comment in which someone stated the sense of financial understanding children (even little children) have from being in a family that uses the envelope system - that once the money is gone... it's gone! Such simplicity, of course they get that.

Monday, 11 May 2009

"but I'm not creative!"

Consumption Rebellion

I've started showing my friends my recent efforts in house decorating recently. Many of my friends have commented on how creative I've become.

Whenever I hear them say that I always feel like laughing. See in highschool, I never saw myself as "creative". In fact, when it came to the arts and home arts my grades were:

Art = 'C-' final comment by my art teacher in my highschool certificate was "Eilleen draws/paints to the best of her ability".
Cooking = "D"
Sewing = "F"

My experiences in highschool pretty much ended up with me believing that I was not creative at all. In many ways, this view stopped me from trying to live a simpler life for a long time. To me living a simpler life would mean that I would need to learn how to cook (but I can't cook!), I would need to learn how to sew (but I can't sew!) and I would need to learn how to make do with what I have (but this would mean my house would look like crap because....I'm not creative!!)

For years, I fell into the "commercial" view of what makes a beautiful home (ie buy furniture/home decor to look exactly the display room), what makes a good meal (ie a good restaurant) and buy all my clothes. Every now and then I would have "brilliant" ideas of how something could look better or taste better but I would quickly dismiss those ideas because....I'm not creative.

Believing I was not creative left me no option but to be an over-consumer.

Then one day, I stopped consuming. I made my impulsive decision not to buy anything brand new for a year. And suddenly I learned home skills...bit by bit. I still didn't believe I was creative, but now I am being forced to sew buttons back on shirts and coats. I slowly learned how to cook.

And then something strange happened, the more I did these things, the more ideas I had about how something could be altered in a different way to achieve different looks. Now that I can sew on a button, I can now sew on lots of buttons (to hide stains on my daughter's shirt):

Now that I learnt that I can add flour to a basic stew recipe to thicken it and that thickened stew can be the filling for a meat pie:

And the more I did these things, the more confident I became of what I am capable of doing. My children started to ask me to fix or make things for them. And I was now more willing to give it a go. And one day, as I finished a drawing my son had asked me to draw, I realised that little voice inside me that used to tell me that I was not creative had been silent for a long time.

And its amazing how freeing that can be. So now I try my hand at anything. Some things don't turn out well, but I learn from it. Being creative doesn't mean not making mistakes. To me, being creative is having ideas and turning those ideas into reality... and this includes working out what won't make that idea work.

For me, being creative meant having to learn some basic skills then surrounding myself with people in real life and on the internet who can show me the many ways of using those basic skills to maximum effect.

And more importantly, being creative means NOT listening to that voice telling you that your idea will never work because you're not creative.

my latest creative effort - mirror painted to achieve a stain glass look and old hallway table restored and painted for shabby chic look.

So now whenever I hear other people say "but I'm not creative!" I tell them, "Me too! but its amazing what non-creative people like us can do!"

Friday, 1 May 2009

Five Simple Machine Sewing Projects for Beginners

By Julie, Towards Sustainability

Have you begged, borrowed or been gifted a sewing machine that's gathering dust in the corner because you don't really know what to do with it? My mother recently upgraded and gave her old machine to my sister who is looking for some simple projects to get her started, so I thought I'd share a few links for everyone here as well.

Firstly, many people don't have the instruction manual for their machine, so you could have a look at these instructions at for generic instructions, or you could Google your machine to see if the manual is available online. Or, if you are a visual learner like me, you might benefit from a few video tutorials on the 'net to watch first: you could try this one at Expert Village, or this one on You Tube.

Next, you might want to practice getting a feel for the machine by doing some random sewing on scraps of fabric. I recommend trying different thicknesses and types of fabric too if you can find them, to help you get a feel for how your machine feeds fabric through the presser foot and how the foot pedal feels.

Now that you've done that, there are a number of simple straight-line-stitching-only projects you might want to try, many of which also make great gifts.

* Napkins and place mats. Bad Human recently posted a fabulous tutorial for making napkins, which I highly recommend having a look at. Use the same technique to make matching place mats using larger pieces of fabric.

* Basic aprons. Try this apron, made out of a pretty tea towel and some ribbon; or this one made from a pillowcase; or there is this one made from a pillowcase and a sheet (lots of how-to pictures in this tutorial). I made a child's full-length apron here, which you could make bigger to adapt to an adult size too.

* Pencil/ crayon/ notebook rolls or holders. These are really simple, and I've been making dozens of them for gifts this year. Try this tutorial for a pencil and notebook holder or this one for a simple pencil or crayon roll.

* A simple tote bag. Here is a dish towel tote bag tutorial; a child's tote bag made from one fat quarter; you could make a Morsbag from an old sheet (this has a great animated tutorial); or this one made from an old pillowcase.

* Wheat bags. These are great for those aches and pains, and are really quick to make. Try this tutorial from Creative Outlet, which includes a lovely little poem for you to type out and attach to the sacks if you are making them for a gift. Too cute.

Lastly, don't forget to re-read Eilleen's terrific post about learning to sew and reconstructed clothing here, she has a great list of links for learning more sewing techniques.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Some ideas for frugal decor...

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Regular readers of my personal blog will know I'm currently on a frugal decor spree. My circumstances changed dramatically a few months ago resulting in me having to pretty much start all over again in terms of furnishing and decorating my house.

...and you know what.... I'm having FUN! I am loving the process of slowly, bit by bit, room by room transforming my house into a home. I am also getting a lot of satisfaction in sourcing my stuff second-hand and learning new decor skills along the way.

To date, I have now furnished and decorated 80% of my house (only the bedrooms to go!) and so far, I've only spent a total of AUD$527 (US$380). This includes the purchase of major furniture, appliances, household tools, gardening equipment and kitchenware.

So my tips for frugal decor?

Keep your design theme simple.

I don't think I could've kept my costs low if I had a complex design theme. In my case, my design theme was "white". Which means that in each room, I had at least one (or more) feature pieces in white.

Get everything second-hand.

Freecycle, local classifieds, garage sales, op shops/thrift shops, second-hand shops, deceased estate auctions... the list of second-hand sources of goods and appliances can be huge! And don't forget friends and family! When my friends and family found out I needed to furnish my house, many used the opportunity to declutter and offered me some much needed items.

For appliances, its important to read when it was purchased (if paperwork is still there), whether it was serviced regularly and how it is still working now. I bought my fridge, washing machine (both about 5 years old) and microwave (3 years old) from a deceased estate auction. I turned up early so I can review the paperwork and ask the people to turn it on for me and in the case of the washing machine, run a rinse cycle and for microwave, to heat a little wheat bag.

For me, its important to make sure that furniture has good clean lines and that the overall structure is still sound. Once you have the furniture you can then do lots with it.

Do it up yourself using second-hand or remnant supplies

For me, every step of "doing up" furniture meant having to learning how to clean it up (bi-carb and vinegar pretty much works for everything but I did refer to this site for the harder stuff) and screw it tight (my 2nd hand screwdrivers have been the most used tools so far!)

Once preliminaries are done, I've enjoyed painting quite a bit of my second-hand furniture. I found my paint under the house when I moved in but I've since seen some leftover paint up in Freecycle - or you could always put up a wanted ad for it in your local classifieds.

In terms of painting, I've found that I could get the "distressed" or "shabby chic" look by just applying one coat of paint and then letting it absorb into the wood. One coat of paint also meant that I'm using less paint.

(Craft desk ($10) - bottom half painted distressed white)

If you can't move those stains, and you don't want to paint it, then you can either cover it up with rugs or shawls, slipcovers or go ahead and learn how to re-upholster it.

(Chair (free) - hand-reupholstered using remnant upholstery fabric, upholstery thread from op shop and an upholstery needle.)

Some other simple and frugal decorating I am planning to do:

- sewing a bunting for the children's bedroom, using fabric scraps.
- applying a fabric feature in my bedroom, again using fabric scraps.

Plants as decor

Indoor plants are probably the best form of decor there is. I got my little plants by separating them from friends' larger plants. Hopefully they'll recover soon and take to their new environment. (They're looking a little sad at the moment but its only week 1!)

And of course, flowers from the garden brighten up any room.

Then there are the exceptions:P

So while I have been using second-hand furniture and second-hand supplies most of the time, I have to admit I have bought one brand new item to decorate my paper.

I enjoyed making a wall decal using contact paper (also called "self-adhesive book covers). For the size of the decal that I wanted, I would've ended up paying over $100 from a shop. Instead, it cost me a mere $5 and about 1 hour of my time cutting different pieces out.

(Bamboo wall decal ($5) using the "rattan" look contact paper - ugly on roll but great on my wall)

Oh and for those who may want to do the same thing, contact paper is a fantastic wall decal because it peels right off without damaging walls (I tested this to make sure).

Anyway, so those are my frugal decor ideas. If you have any more ideas, I would love to hear from you! I am still after more ideas for the bedrooms!

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Easy Cloth Napkins

IMG_3163, originally uploaded by

I really admire individuals who make every gift for every person in their life, but that's just not me. I'm trying to make more gifts myself and this one is relatively easy and inexpensive.

I wanted an easy, green gift for my mother's day that would be used as much as it was loved and these cloth napkins seemed like the perfect solution. I made six napkins for my mother and six for my mother-in-law using similar patterned fabrics so that I could use the same solid fabric to coordinate with both.

I used:

  • 2 fat quarters of patterned fabric (I chose darker fabrics because stains happen and they'll be less noticeable)

  • 1 yard of Navy Kona Cotton

  • 1 full spool of navy cotton thread


  • Pins

  • Rotary Cutter

  • Cutting Mat

  • Sewing Machine (although it's a small project and could easily be done by hand)

  • Ruler

Step 1:

I made two different sizes of napkins to see which I preferred. The larger napkins are 14 by 14 inches and the smaller are 12 by 12 inches.


I cut three napkins from each of the patterned fabrics and six napkins from the solid. (Each napkin set will ultimately have six napkins, three patterned and three solid)

Step 2:

Sew a line 1/4 inch from the edge of your fabric all the way around the fabric. I prefer continuous lines so you don't have a lot of thread tails to deal with.

Napkins for Mother's Day

Step 3:

On the solid napkins I wanted to add an accent of the patterned to pull the two together. Using the remnants I cut strips 2 inches wide by 14 inches (or 12 inches) long.

I folded the raw edges under 1/4 inch on both sides and the sewed the strips a couple inches up from the bottom of the napkin. I used my 1/4 inch foot as a guide to ensure I got a nice straight line when I said the patterned strip to the solid fabric.


Step 4:

Now you want to iron the raw edge over using the thread as a guide (make the sure the thread is ironed over so it doesn't show.


Then fold it over again and iron it down so the raw edge is completely turned under.

Step 5:

I went ahead and pinned it down all the way around although with ironing it you might be able to get away with skipping this step.


When you pin or iron make sure you create crisp corners when folding over the fabric so that you can sew all the way around the napkin at once.


Step 6:

Using your presser foot as a guide sew 1/4 inch from the edge of your napkin.


When you start and when you go around the corners your sewing machine may struggle a bit with all those layers. I pushed a bit harder on my foot but made sure that I was guiding the fabric through slowly.

In no time at all your napkin will look like this


Step 7:

I don't have one of those fancy machines that knots and cuts the thread for you so I had to do that by hand. By going all the way around your napkins whenever you are stitching you end up with a lot less threads to deal with!

The napkins at the top are for my mother-in law and the ones below are for my mom. Now all I need to do is get these in the mail so I don't forget!


Do you have any beginner sewing projects that would make good gifts? I've got a year of holidays left to plan for and could certainly use the ideas :)

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Real Nappies

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Following on from Eilleen's post about reusable menstrual products, I thought I might recycle a post I wrote about nappies (diapers) for Rhonda's blog in 2007.

We have six children. If we hadn’t used cloth nappies, our family could have put thousands of little bundles of paper, plastic, wee and poo into landfill. And we’d have paid around $20000 for the privilege. Yuck! Just thinking about that makes me guilty for the disposables we did use.

We used some disposable nappies – regular ones and then eco-brands once they became readily available – especially for overnight (when I couldn’t find a cloth nappy and cover to suit heavy wetting), travel, and when it just rained and rained and rained, which interfered with my washing. But mostly we used re-usable cloth ones – terry flats and cheap, basic flannelette fitted nappies with my firstborn, full systems of fancy fitted all-in-one modern cloth nappies (MCNs) for my next two (with the firstborn’s hand-me-downs as backup), and a mixture of what I had and what I could get for the following three children. I still have two children wearing night-time pull-up nappy pants most nights. One is five and one is three. I’ve made some of these pants, and bought another two pairs for around $20 each. That’s a bargain compared to the disposable option for preschoolers @ $1+ per pair.

The nappy pants I made for my toddlers for bedtime.

Choosing cloth nappies for your baby or toddler (it’s never too late to switch) can be an overwhelming task with the variety available now. There’s bamboo, hemp, soy, organic cotton and various other fabrics. Styles include all-in-ones, pockets, pre-folds, basic fitteds and more. If you’re unsure and have time to research, perhaps you could visit one of the nappy forums online to read what other parents are saying, and ask questions.
(from Kindred #23, p18)

Try a nappy or two before committing to a full set. Consider fabric type, colour, style, washing and drying requirements, price, quality of the nappy, environmental impact of the product, ease-of-use, health (is the fabric used something you want next to your baby’s skin around the clock?), and sizing (will it fit your baby for long, or do you need a set in several sizes?).

Modern cloth nappies are a joy to use. They’re easy to put on, soft and cuddly and come in all the colours of the rainbow. Washing them is no big deal. It’s just like washing towels, sheets or clothes. The washing has to be done and it works in with your daily routine so that you have nappies clean and dry and ready for baby to use. The only thing I found is that when I had my first sets of fitted real nappies, they couldn’t go in the dryer and they were very thick with multiple layers of flannelette. In our North Queensland wet seasons I found it difficult to get them dry because it rained for weeks on end. I later purchased nappies which could go in the dryer, and learned to revert back to the good old terry squares with a nice, snuggly cover for those very wet weeks.

Covers aren’t required for most all-in-one nappies. Covers themselves come in a wide variety of styles and fabric types and colours. These are part of your nappy system. There are also liners and boosters for within the nappy – to make changing easier, for baby’s comfort and also to increase the absorbency of the nappy for outings and night use especially. Another nappying requirement is wipes. There are regular wipes from the supermarket, eco-varieties of the same, or cloth wipes. Cloth wipes are often flannel squares with an overlocked or hemmed edge. Or bought face washers! They’re useful again and again and no problem to wash with the nappies. Lastly, you might need a wet bag to carry used nappies home from outings. This is simply a water-proof bag, usually drawstring, which is handy when you’re a no-plastic-bags household!

If you or someone you know can sew nappies, covers, liners, boosters, wipes and wetbags – you will save yourself a fortune! There are free printable patterns online for all of these items, or by looking at those available for purchase, you can make them up yourself. See Ottobre Designs Magazine Printables and scroll through the projects to see one example of a fitted nappy pattern and a pattern for a ‘wool diaper cover’. When searching online for patterns, include the U.S. term ‘diaper’ in your search. Patterns for these items are also available for purchase.

To purchase nappies and accessories, you can go to your local department store, baby boutique, some health shops or look online. There are online stores for large businesses and a variety of options to buy from cottage industries as well. Using the forum links above, you should be able to find an online supplier to suit your nappy preference and budget.

If you’re not ready to use cloth or prefer to use both real and disposable nappies, please consider the type of nappies you purchase. There are more earth-friendly disposable options in the supermarket, and even greener nappies such as Safeties, Moltex and Bamboo Nature brands.

And if you’d like to avoid nappies altogether – look up Natural Infant Hygiene or Elimination Communication. This is something we didn’t really know about when our babies were little, but did naturally with our children from the summer that fell around their first birthdays. All of our children were using the potty and/or toilet before their second birthdays, depending on when they began and showed interest.

Best wishes to you in your quest for the perfect nappy system. Enjoy these short years of your children’s lives and I hope you can manage to lessen the impact on the planet and budget using some of the options outlined above.