Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Handmade Christmas

I made a goal this year to make handmade ornaments to decorate Christmas packages and for my own tree at home.  

With only 5 weeks left until Christmas it was high time to get started! After some browsing online I pinned a load of tutorials and ideas for later use. I used a tutorial from Better Homes and Gardens
to create the lovely felt iceskate ornament below.  They look complicated but are pretty easy to make.

And I found a tutorial for this pretty snowflake ornament at Oh Happy Day.

Felt is very inexpensive and both ornaments required only the felt, sewing thread, embroidery thread, and scissors.

I'm so pleased with these that I can't wait to have a try at some others!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Leather & Lace Cuff

 I have been online quite a bit lately using pinterest to collect images and ideas for things that inspire me. 
Not everything I pin is sewing or craft related. But a patchwork board, a fabric board, and a random inspiration things board are among my many boards. But anyhoo, I digress.....

While bored and surfing aimlessly on the web and pinterest I have come across quite a few leather cuffs and tutorials for how to make them. I gave two different tutorials a try before making my own leather and lace cuff. 

The first tutorial I tried was from Katie at The Red Kitchen .  The cuff in the front to the left is the one I made.
The second cuff I tried came from Melissa at ISLY - I Still Love You

The cuffs on the left here are mine made using the tutorial.

Both tutorials were very quick and easy.  I would highly recommend to anyone -even if you are a beginner crafter! 

After trying two tutorials I figured I'd have a go at making my own cuff design.  It required a little bit more work in that I cut three separate pieces of leather, sewed a couple straight lines and some lace, and added two snaps instead of one. But all in all it is still very simple (if you can sew a straight line and install a snap you can make this one!)

Close up of the leather and lace cuff with snaps

I was pretty pleased with the result!  Although I wish I had used some black leather for a bit more contrast next to the lace and would probably add a bit of topstitching at the edges. What do you think?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Easy Peasy Summer Tote Tutorial

The weather here in Waterloo has been hot, sunny and humid for weeks now.  The grass is brown and the BBQ is the cooking method of choice these days.  All the heat and humidity had me looking for a quick and easy sewing project to use as the subject of my next post.  

With summer and easy being the key themes I had a look at my fabric and supplies and came up with this easy peasy canvas tote.  So easy that I decided to make a tutorial out of it!  If you can get past the slight blur in my photography this tote bag is a great sewing project for you or to make as a gift!  And it doesn't require a pattern because it uses only rectangles of fabric.

For my tote I used some summery navy striped canvas I bought in a sale. So all in I would say this baby cost me under $10 for fabric, handles and ribbon. Woot!

 With no lining and a great boxed shape this bag is super quick and easily adaptable. You can easily change the dimensions to make it longer, shorter, wider or deeper.  The inside has a hanging open pocket that gets sewn into the turn down seam on the top of the bag.  The top stitich seams are optional but went perfectly with the preppy, nautical look of the striped bag and gave it a bit more structure.

I saved even more time by using cotton or canvas strapping (which is pretty cheap at most fabric/sewing shops).  But you could easily make straps from a coordinating fabric as an added accent! To keep my bags from being too boring I opted for using a bit of ready made ribbon piping and striped ribbon I found for at $1.99 per 2 meters at Len's Mills here in Waterloo.  Just a single stripe across the front of the gray bag and a little bow on the striped bag was all it took.

The measurements for this tutorial will give you a bag the same size as the striped one in the pictures.  For the gray bag I shortened the length by a couple inches.  

For this tutorial you will need:
  • cotton canvas or other suitable heavy weight fabric
  • ribbon, ready made piping, or trim of your choice
  • coordinating thread
  • general sewing supplies (scissors, rotary cutter, ruler, sewing machine). 
From your fabric cut:
  • 2 rectangles 16 1/2" x 18 3/8" for the main body of the bag
  • 1 rectangle 7 1/2" x 12 1/4" for the pocket


From the canvas strapping cut:
  • 2 straps 24 1/2" long


1/4" zig zag seam on long edges

  •  fold the long edges of the pocket piece in 1/4" toward the wrong side of the fabric and iron. Pin in place and sew using a zig zag seam.  Back stitch at beginning and end of the seams. 

Short side zig zagged seam

  • on one short end of your pocket piece fold a 1/4" seam (as you did for the long sides), pin and sew using zig zag stitch.
  • Take your zig zagged short side seam and fold it over again (toward the wrong side of fabric), pin and top stitch in place using a 1/8" seam allowance. 
  • Fold the long side seams in again and iron flat. 

  • Measure 5" in from the finished short edge of your pocket piece and mark a line.  This will be the bottom edge of the pocket.

  • Using the 5" line you marked as a guide fold the finished short edge up (with wrong sides facing each other) to form the pocket.
  • Match the side edges and pin in place.  Sew in place using a 1/8" top stitch.

  • Done! Your finished pocket should look like the picture on the left.  It is hard to see the top stitching up the sides but I promise they are there!


  •  Take one of your 16 1/2" x 18 3/8" rectangle and lay it down wrong side facing you.
  • Fold the edge in 1/4" and iron flat.

  •  Fold the same edge in again but this time fold it down a full 1".  Pin in place.
  • Top stitch in place 1/8" from both the bottom and top of the folded edge.

  • Repeat the 1/4" and 1" fold on your second 16 1/2" x 18 3/8" rectangle. Iron but do not sew!
  • Find the center of the folded top edge and center the raw edges of your sewn pocket underneath the folds.  Pin in place.
  • Top stitch in place both edges of the folds using a 1/8" seam allowance.

This picture shows one finished folded top edge with the pocket securely attached.


  • Take one of your cotton straps and turn the raw ends under 1/2".  Baste the raw edges in place with a line of stitching.
  • Lay one of your rectangles down right side facing you and with the finished top edge at the top.  
  • Next, place the ends of the strap approximately 5.5" from the side edges along the top edge of the bag.  Make sure your strap is not twisted!
  •  Pin in place. Sew in place with a rectangle reinforced with an x for strength.  Note: I couldn't get a good picture of this because I  used navy thread on the handles. 
  • Repeat with the second strap and the second bag half.  When sewing across the bag half with the pocket make sure to pin it down so it doesn't get bunched and twisted.  


  •  Take the two halves of your bag and lay them down with right sides facing each other and matching the finished top seams and handle strap.
  • Pin along the side and bottom edges.
  • Sew around all three pinned sides using a 1/4" seam allowance. 


  • With the wrong sides of the bag still facing out take one bottom corner of your bag and flatten it, matching the side and bottom seams. I find it helpful to pin the flattened corner at this point to prevent it from shifting.
  • Measure and mark a 3" line across the corner using your ruler.  The line should be about 1.5" in from the tip of the flattened corner. Pin.
  • Sew along the line (using a straight stitch).
  • Cut off the excess fabric leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.  
  • Zig Zag the seam allowance to prevent fraying.
  • Repeat for the other corner.
  • You now have boxed corners! :)


  • Turn the bag right side out.  The bottom should now have 4 corners as a result of boxing them.
  • Working from one of your newly boxed corners,  flatten the bag from that edge up to the top in a straight line creating a new edge that is 1.5" from the side seam. Pin.
  • Top stitch from the bottom corner to the top using a 1/8" seam.
  • Repeat with the other three corners.

Close up of top stitched edge.

Finished bag interiorMy seams were a bit ravelled in this picture.  I may have to go back later and zig zag them to stop it!

To finish my bag I made a small bow using a white, navy and red striped ribbon and hand stitched it to the front of my bag.  You could also use Rickrack, lace, piping, buttons or handmade flowers to jazz it up any way you like.  There are sooo many options!

I've since made another one in some gray twill with black handles and a horizontal strip using ready made flat piping.  I will post pics asap.

And there you have it!  A super easy, canvas summer bag! 

As always, if you enjoyed this tutorial or have any questions please let me know!  I'd love to know what you think.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Men's Leather and Tweed iPad Cover Tutorial

Tweed & Leather

I love a good fabric deal.  And while I still love to support local and independent fabric shops with their lovely designer prints as much as possible, they are often more expensive. To keep my bank account - and my other half, Monty- happy, I still keep an eye out for a good bargain.

At the end last winter I stocked up on some great tweed, wool and plaid prints (even though spring was approaching and I really wanted buy bright and cheerful prints!) And the heavier more durable weight fabrics were also a great buy for making bags, wallets and covers for techie stuff. At $5 or less a metre...who could pass that up? I took my bargains home and tucked them away for later use.

Fast forward 4 months and I'm browsing at the local Len's Mill store when I spy a box of leather remnants.  The store sells these by the ounce, 1/2 pound or pound. I have a rummage around and find loads of beautiful soft leather in different colours. I've been dying to make some leather bags and cheerfully head up to the counter to have my choice weighed. Only $125.00  Boooo!!!!

Unfortunately, the store will not cut the leather remnants so you have to buy the pieces as is. My bank account couldn't handle that at the moment so the dream of making my own leather bag will have to wait.

Not willing to let my chance at making something with leather go I headed back to the box to look for a smaller piece. After doing everything but upend the contents of the box I manage to find two small pieces of a supple, chocolate brown and 4 rectangular pieces of black leather.  At the counter they tell me $12.50 for the lot. A price my wallet can easily handle.  And brainstorm! My friend Dave has asked me to make him a tweed cover for the new iPad he won at work.  I can use the brown leather remnants to bump up the design element and make it something special. Woot!  

Okay, let's get started!

This is a slightly more complicated tutorial than my usual posts  because of the raw leather trim details. Anyone who is comfortable with the assembly of a basic bag or laptop cover should be okay with this tutorial.  I didn't take many pictures so I have tried to explain all steps in detail.  And the pictures of the finished cover should help to explain anything that isn't clear. 

I recommend checking out some tips on sewing with leather online and maybe practicing on some scraps before you begin. This link from You Sew Girl was helpful when I ran into trouble.  I used the paper method.

To begin you will need:

  • leather remnants (see picture right)
  • one fat quarter of tweed fabric (exterior)
  • one fat quarter of plaid cotton (interior) 
  • magnetic snap
  • scraps of fusible interfacing 
  • leather needle
  • cotton thread
  • rayon thread (for sewing leather)

From the tweed cut:                             
  • two rectangles 9.5" x 11.5" for the exterior
From the plaid cut:
  • two pieces of plaid 8.75" x 10.75" for the interior
  • two pieces of plaid 6.25" x 9.25" for the flap closure
From the cotton batting cut:
  • two pieces 9.5" x 11.5" for exterior padding
  • two pieces 8.75 x 10.75 for interior padding
  • one piece 6.25" x 9.25"
 From the leather cut:
  • one rectangle 6" x 9.75" for the flap closure
  • one circle approximately 6.5" diameter. (I used a plate but any uniform circle will do)  Subcut your circle into 4 quarters for the corners of your cover.
NOTE*** use a pen or black marker on the wrong side of leather pieces to mark pieces or pattern placement.

Step 1: Baste or Quilt the Batting to the Tweed
  1. Lay your large tweed rectangles wrong side facing up.  
  2. Lay cotton batting  pieces down on the wrong side of the tweed aligning edges and corners.  
  3. Pin.  
  4. Baste in place using a 1/8" seam allowance or quilt using a pattern of your choosing (I quilted straight lines following the lines in the tweed about 1.5" apart) 

Step 2: Attach the Leather Corner Pieces  
  1. Working one at a time, align the semi-circle leather pieces onto the bottom two corners of each tweed rectangle with right sides facing up.  
  2. The right angle of the leather pieces should fit into the corners with the curved edges of the leather facing toward the center of the tweed rectangle.
  3. Set your stitch length to a long stitch length and stitch the leather in place along the curved edge of the leather using a 1/4" seam allowance. The curved edges will be unfinished or "raw" on the finished bag. 
  4. Repeat for all four bottom corners
NOTE***  If you are using a domestic machine (ie: your machine is NOT a leather sewing machine) you will need to use baby powder or paper over the leather to ensure it feeds through the machine easily. I used tracing paper so I could still see the edge of the leather and peeled it off afterwards.

Step 3:  Baste Cotton Batting to Interior Plaid Pieces  
  1. Change your bobbin and top thread to cotton.
  2. Lay your interior plaid rectangles out with wrong sides facing you.
  3. Place your remaining two pieces of cotton batting on top of the plaid pieces aligning edges. 
  4. Pin in place along all four edges.
  5. Baste in place using a 1/8" seam allowance.

Step 4:  Mark and Attach the Magnetic Snap  
  1. Take one tweed rectangle (wrong side facing you) and find the center of the top edge (the edge without the leather corners).
  2. Measure 2" down from the center point of top edge and mark the placement for your magnetic snap
  3. I usually reinforce the area for the snap with a scrap of interfacing.  If using iron it on now.  Then mark the placement of the holes for the prongs using the snap backing
  4. Snip the places you just marked for the prongs of the magnet.  Make sure to catch the tweed without cutting the holes too large
  5. Attach one half of your snap making sure to attach the backing plate. 

Step 5: Sew the Exterior  

  1. Take the two tweed rectangles (with bottom leather corners attached) and lay one over the other with right sides facing each other and matching the leather seams. The half of the snap you attached should be near at the top and the leather trim on the bottom corners.
  2. Pin together around both short sides and the bottom edge (the long edge with the leather detail corners).  Make sure to pin the tweed sections only.  Pins in the leather will leave holes. 
  3.  Sew together along all three pinned edges using a 1/2" seam allowance.  NOTE*** Because the layers of tweed, batting and leather are bulky I used a larger seam allowance of 1/2" make it easier to turn out the corners and to make sure there would be room for the IPad in the finished cover.
  4.  Clip corners and turn right side out.  Use somthing with a blunt edge to gently poke the leather corners out.  Press the leather by hand.

  Step 6:  Sew the Interior
  1. Take your two 8.75" x 10.75" plaid pieces (with batting attached) and lay them out right sides together with long edges running horizontally
  2. Pin the short side edges and the bottom long edge.  Leave a 4" gap in the bottom edge for turning.
  3. Sew using a 1/4" seam allowance
  4. Clip corners.

Step 7: Attach the Second Half of the Magnetic Closure  
  1. Find the center of the long edge of one 6.25" x 9.25" plaid piece and then measure 1.75" down from the top.  Iron a scrap of interfacing over this spot.
  2. Using the remaining backing plate mark the placement for the other half of your magnetic closure (measure again if needed)
  3. Snip the holes for the magnet prongs being careful not to cut them too large.  
  4. Attach the other half of the magnetic snap to the right side of your plaid piece.

 Step 8: Sew the Plaid Lining for the Leather Flap

Note*** I rounded the corners of my flap but this is optional.  You could just as easily leave them square. If you would like rounded corners just mark the two corners on either side of the magnetic snap using a drinking glass or any uniform circle. 


  1. Take your 6.25" x 9.25" plaid pieces (one will have the magnet attached) and lay them out with rights sides together.
  2. Place the remaining 6.25" x 9.25" cotton batting piece on top of the plaid pieces.  
  3. Pin around both short edges and the long edge with the snap attached. 
  4. Sew together using a 1/4" seam allowance.
  5. Turn out your flap lining and press.  If you rounded your corners you will need to make small clips in the seam of the curved edges to ensure your curved corners will lay neat and flat.

 Step 9: Attach the Plaid Lining to the Leather Flap 
  1. Take your 6" 9.75" leather piece for the flap and lay it out wrong side facing you.  If you are using the curved corners like I did you will need to round two corners along one long edge now.
  2. Take your finished plaid lining piece and lay it on the wrong side of the leather with the snap facing you and the raw edges matching the top edge of the leather
  3. The lining should be about a 1/4" smaller than the leather piece.  This is okay.  Make sure the plaid is aligned as evenly as possible leaving the same amount of leather on all three sides.
  4. Placing a piece of tracing paper under the leather (to help it move under the presser foot), sew the plaid lining to the leather following the finished edge of the plaid and using a 1/8" seam allowance.  This will not only attach the lining but will give a nice topstitched look to the leather side of your flap.

 Step 10:  Assemble the IPad Cover and Attach the Sleeve
  1. Take the exterior (tweed) part of your cover and turn it wrong side out.
  2. Take the interior (plaid) part of your cover and with right side out, place it inside the exterior cover.  The right side of the tweed and the rights side of the plaid should now be facing each other.
  3. Align the side seams and pin in place find the side of the cover with the magnetic closure attached and pin along that side matching the raw edges of the plaid interior with the raw edges of the tweed exterior. You should have one half (what will be the front half) of the cover pinned.
  4. Sew the pinned side of the cover using a 3/8" seam allowance. Remember to back stitch at beginning and end.
  5. Now place the plaid lined leather flap down into the tweed exterior and plaid interior on the open side (what will be the back of the cover). Center the flap between the side seams
  6. Make sure the leather side of the flap is facing the tweed and the plaid flap lining is facing the plaid interior of the cover. 
  7. All of the leather flap (with magnet attached) should now be enclosed within the cover with only the unfinished plaid edge of the leather flap protruding. 
  8. I left an extra 1/4" of the flap edge protruding instead of matching the raw edges with those of the cover to ensure it would be sewn securely. But you can just match raw edges if you want to make it easier.
  9. Using a 3/8" seam allowance, sew the back of the cover closed enclosing the leather flap as you go.  Because you cannot pin the leather flap without leaving holes make sure to check as you sew that the flap is not shifting and you are catching it in your stitching.
  10. Turn the cover out through the gap in the lining.  Hand press the seam you just sewed.
  11. Using a 1/4" seam allowance top stitch along the top edge of the cover.
  12. Hand stitch the opening in the plaid lining closed.

Admire you beautiful new leather trimmed iPad cover! 

I almost always adjust my sewing projects as I go along.  So if something isn't working for you with this tutorial or you see a way to make it better, then go for it.  I learn more from my mistakes than the projects that go smoothly!  

And as always, if you have any questions or comments about this project don't hesitate to ask.

NOTE*** This tutorial is for limited commercial use only.  I'm happy for people to use this tutorial to make items to sell at craft fairs or on ETSY sites, but ask that you not claim the design as your own or publish it as such for commercial use.  If you would like to link this tutorial to your web page or blog I'd love you to do so but would appreciate a note as to it's origins. Thanks!


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Square Bottom Bag

Okay, I admit it.  I'm not the most consistent of bloggers.  But like many creative people I often have multiple projects in progress at once.  I don't necessarily begin something and work on it exclusively until it's finished.  And due to the numerous sun filled days we've had in the past few weeks I've not exactly been tempted to stay inside with my sewing machine.

For example, I currently have in progress a new handbag design/tutorial, a baby sun bonnet for my niece, a queen sized quilt, and an Ipad cover. Eventually all my projects get finished.  But like my vintage styled quilt in Finishing Touches, some get finished sooner than others.

Yesterday however, it was pouring rain, thunder and lightning.  A perfect day to sew!  I decided on a new project in the form of a square bottom bag.  This bag was inspired by some stripey fabric and a matching woven beige canvas that I thought would be a great grab and go summer bag.  It's a simple bag with no pockets, but is roomy and completely reversible.

Both fabrics are medium to heavy weight and should stand up better to being dragged around all summer. I happened to have some black ribbon that I save from a pair of Christmas PJ's  I bought which made a great accent detail wrapped over the handles.  Waste not, want not!

I'm so pleased with the finished look of this bag that I'm actually thinking of passing up a bike ride in the sunshine today to create a new beach bag!  Stay tuned......

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Woolly Winter Bag Sling Bag

While the rest of Canada may have been bragging about the unusually warm temperatures and early blooming spring flowers, here in Newfoundland it's still business as usual.......snow, snow, snow.

So even though I have been breaking out my lovely spring fabrics in bright cheerful prints for spring/summer bag making..........

outside it is still cold, snowy and gray.

But I'm not letting it get me down.  Instead I've decided that if old man winter wants to stick it out a bit longer than I'll make the best of it.  And by that I mean making a new bag using soft, warm, and woolly winter fabric!

I just happen to have some woolly hounds tooth fabric leftover from some infinity scarves I made and have been wondering what it would look like as a sling bag.  It's a loose weave fabric and drapes very nicely (hence then infinity scarves).  I have bought the town out of interfacing - literally - and so thought I might get away using it in a soft slouchy bag.

This is a similar but more difficult version of a pillowcase bag like this one from Martha Stewart, but without the little tie on the handle and a full cotton lining.  I love the chocolate brown and teal colours in this fabric and the large hounds tooth pattern is just right for wintry weather.  The loose weave was perfect for this bag as it is meant to look sort of soft and slouchy.  And not interfacing needed! Yay!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Neglected Blog Project

I have just realised it has been weeks since I posted in my blog!  So today's post is a quick and easy little project using some cute spring fabric to make a key chain.  The best part is it used up some scraps of pretty spring material that would be too small to do much else with.

I bought some hook/key chain like things on my last trip to the big city.  They have a D-ring on one end and the hook thingy on the other end.  The D-ring was about 1.24" wide so I cut 2 fabric strips 1.5" x about 10" long.

Then I attached some fusible fleece the same size to the back of one strip.  Next, I pinned them right sides together and sewed them together leaving a small 3" gap for turning.

I turned it out and with the opening edges tucked in, I pressed and pinned shut the opening shut.  Then I top stitched all around the outer edges sewing shut the opening as I went.  All of this took just 10 minutes!

Then I slipped one end of the strap I had made through the D-ring and stitched the ends of the strap together with two rows of stitching for strength.  Finished!

They were so quick and easy to make that I threw together 5 more and even embellished one with a little vintage rik-rac I've been wondering what to do with.  These can be made any length you like and I actually made one in a camouflage print that could be used as a short lead for training a dog.  It came in handy when I had to use it to retrieve Rudy after he slipped out of his collar and went to play with the dog next door!   I'm also wondering if I could find a way to use them as luggage pulls? hmmmmmm.....