Sewing, crochet, crafts, accessories, baking, tutorials,


Stitching Santa Sewing Idea

Having concentrated on my knitting Stitching Santa swap, I’ve only just started to get on with my sewing swap. Knitting and crochet take longer, so I wanted to finish those handmade items before moving onto the sewn ones, hoping that these will be a lot quicker.

This one took about an hour and I thought I’d share it with you in case anyone fancies having a go themselves. I think it makes a great little gift – I know I’d be happy with it in my Stitching Santa parcel!

I had an A5 hardback notebook in the office, just lying around begging to be made beautiful and, luckily, I found the perfect fabric for a dressmaker in my collection.


I started by cutting a rectangle of wadding exactly the same size as the notebook.


Any PVA adhesive will do – just spread it on lightly all over the front surface of the cover.


Press the wadding on to the tacky glue, then turn it over and do the same with the spine and back cover.


Cut a rectangle of fabric about two inches wider all around than the notebook and spread glue directly onto the wrong side of the fabric.


Lay the notebook cover onto the glued surface of the fabric and press with your fingers. Turn the excess fabric inwards and stick it to the inside cover.


Work around the notebook applying more glue as necessary, mitring the corners as you go.


Use plenty of glue to cover the tiny bit of spine that needs covering. If you choose a PVA that dries clear, any surplus will be invisible when it dries.


Finally, cut a decorative piece of paper to act as an end paper, covering the raw edges of the fabric to achieve a smart finish.



And there you are – a padded notebook, ideal for any seamstress.


I hope my Stitching Santa recipient likes it – I’m tempted to make one for myself!



Funky Sleeping Bag (and Hoodie!)

This month’s blog post for Minerva Crafts is two-for-the-price-of-one.

I had just enough left over from making a sleeping bag to make a hoodie for one of The Boys as well.

Click on the link to read all about both makes: – Sleeping Bag & Hoodie





Personalised Christmas Sacks – A Tutorial

In case you hadn’t noticed, Christmas is just around the corner – nine days, to be precise and I’ve got a great last-minute make for you; a personalised Christmas sack for that special little person in your life.

Christmas sacks2a



I’m not joking when I say last-minute as I made TWO personalised sacks yesterday afternoon, each one taking about two and a half hours from start to finish. They’d make great gifts, too, with a little something popped inside and they only cost £12.94 each to make so won’t break the bank.

This is the parcel that arrived from Minerva Crafts: –

P1060959For each sack you will need:

Trim your gingham fabric to the same size as the hessian – 39″ x 56″.

Put the offcuts to one side as you will use these for the tie and the fabric letters.

Draw a reindeer on a sheet of paper and cut out the individual elements separately.


Cut these out of the felt squares using the picture below as a guide.


Stitch the nose and eyes onto the felt face – I used free machine embroidery throughout to achieve a ‘scribble’ effect which works well on children’s gifts.


Fold your hessian in half and arrange the felt pieces in the centre as shown.


Hessian has an open weave which tends to move quite a lot, so either tack your appliqués on first or use LOTS of pins to keep them in place while you sew them on.

I loathe tacking so I opted for pin overkill instead.


With the reindeer face stitched securely in place, it’s time to move on to personalising your sack.

You can download a suitable font or just freehand it like I did onto thin card. As I was making two sacks I had both blue and red gingham offcuts to cut the letters from. I also decided to use some paper backed fusible web to secure the letters to the hessian before stitching them.


Arrange the letters evenly in a curve around the bottom of the reindeer, remove the paper backing and iron in place.


Two rounds of stitching on each letter gives a good effect.



When all your stitching is done, sew the top edge of the sack to the top edge of the lining with right sides together (sorry, no photo). Press the seam flat to create a crisp edge.

Then, lay your fabric out on a large table or on the floor and fold in half lengthwise, right sides together to create a ‘tube’.

Pin all the way around, leaving a gap in the lining where shown through which to turn. (I forgot to photograph this step on the first sack so the lining is shown in red).


Put pins at 8″ from the top edge and 9″ from the top edge – this will be a break in the stitching to provide a channel for the tie.



Sew all the way around the three sides with breaks in the stitching as described above.

Trim the corners and turn the sack through to the right side. Sew the lining closed at the gap through which it was turned. Press.


With a soft pencil or tailor’s chalk, mark two parallel lines all the way around at 8″ and 9″ from the top edge of the sack. Pin through both layers of fabric. Stitch along the lines.


For the tie, use your remaining offcuts of gingham to assemble a length that measures about 70″ x 2″.

Fold in and press 1/4″ at each short end.

Fold in and press 1/4″ along each long edge.


Bring the folded long edges together enclosing the raw edges.


Stitch close to the edge to finish your tie.


Use a safety pin to thread the tie through the channel in the gap left for this purpose.


And that’s it – finished!

Christmas sacks3a

A beautiful sack which any child would be delighted to have on Christmas Day to pop all their opened presents into.

Christmas sacksa

They’re huge, too, I would have added The Boys to the photo for scale except that the sacks are a surprise for them.

You’ve still got time, so who fancies whipping up a Christmas Sack for their little boy or girl?




How To Make A Child’s Teepee Wigwam

I know it’s bad form to utter the ‘C’ word while it’s still the school Summer holidays, but my August make for the Minerva Craft Blogger Network is this beautiful Teepee, which is indeed a Christmas present for a little girl in the family.

wigwam teepee tipi play tent

I have to admit that this is not the first Christmas present I’ve made this year as I tend to make them all year round, as and when an idea springs to mind, but it’s definitely my favourite so far.

Isn’t it sweet?

teepee wigwam play tent tipi

There are LOTS of tutorials out there showing many ways to make your own wigwam, but none of them were quite what I wanted, so this is my version which is suitable for a toddler – adjust the measurements upwards to make a larger tent for older children.

It is an amalgamation of several basic designs that I’ve come across which I have then personalised to suit the recipient using various appliquéd motifs and letters.

This lovely fabric bundle arrived from Minerva: –


The white base fabric for the teepee is a thick cotton drill which makes a nice, strong tent. I also chose two contrasting fabrics which are lighter weight cottons; a gorgeous ‘Cath Kidston’ inspired floral cotton poplin and a dusky pink polycotton.

You will need: –

  • 2 1/2m of cotton drill
  • 1m floral fabric
  • 1m plain fabric
  • selection of scraps from your stash
  • 4 x plastic overflow pipe, each measuring 2.00m x 22mm (99p each from Wickes)
  • A leather shoelace or similar

Using the large diagram as a guide, fold your 2 1/2m of white fabric in half lengthwise and cut out as shown.

Cutting layout diagram

You should now have three equally sized triangles and two half-triangles. Stitch the two half-triangles together along the long straight edge with a narrow seam to make a single triangle. (I cut mine wrong, hence the off-centre seam!)


The bottom edges can be hemmed if you wish, although I left mine as the selvedge forms the bottom.

Cut rectangles of fabric out of the contrast floral fabric as per the two smaller diagrams, then make about 4m of bias binding using your plain fabric.

(See my tutorial here on how to make bias binding).


Apply bias binding to one side and lower edge of the two large pieces of floral fabric – these will form your front curtains.



To shape the sides of the curtains to match the slope of the wigwam, place a large white triangle over the curtain, bottom edges matching and raw edges up the side. Your floral fabric will poke out beyond the edge of the triangle as seen below.


Cut off the excess floral fabric.


Take a curtain and pin the top edge to the bottom edge of your small white triangle, wrong sides together.

Take your other curtain and pin over the top of the first curtain.

It should now look like this.


Sew together using a flat fell seam. (This previous post shows how to make a flat fell seam.)

You can leave it plain as this type of seam leaves a nice neat finish, but I chose to decorate mine with a strip of bias binding and a row of pom pom trim from my stash.

Similar pompom trim can be bought here.


Make the curtain tiebacks as follows.

Fold the small floral rectangles in half lengthwise and stitch a small seam along one short and the long side.

Turn and press.


With raw edges matching, pin and baste about halfway down the unfinished sloping edge of each curtain.


Take a large white triangle and cut a 25 x25cm square for the window the base of which should be about 58cm up from the bottom edge.

Snip diagonally into each corner by 1cm and fold in a 1cm double hem. Pin in place.



Stitch, sewing across corners as shown.


Cut two little curtains, each one 15 x 27cm.

Hem all four edges and trim the opening edges with more pom pom trim.


Make two tiny curtain tiebacks: –

Fold a 10cm length of bias binding in half lengthways and stitch close to the edge.

Stitch a 1cm square piece of velcro to one end.

Pin curtain to window at top and side.

Insert tieback under curtain about 10cm up from the lower edge, velcro side uppermost as shown.


Stitch curtain in place, catching tieback in seam as you go.


Sew the other piece of velcro to the inside of the window.



You can continue to decorate your teepee or just sew the sides together at this point – just scroll down to the relevant section.

I personalised this one with a name which I first printed out on card using Cooper std font in size 240pt. Separating the letters makes them easier to cut out. For best results use a craft knife.


Fuse a piece of interfacing onto the wrong side of your contrast fabric and trace around each of the letters making sure you reverse them first.

(I have plenty in my stash, but you can buy interfacing here at Minerva.)


Cut around each letter carefully using embroidery scissors for accuracy.


Pin the letters in place and sew above the window using a satin stitch on your machine.



I decorated the sides of the teepee with a mixture of appliquéd flowers and butterflies – just click the links below to download the PDF for these.



Each motif was interfaced before being cut out and sewn on with satin stitch as before.






They look quite nice on the wrong side as well!


Now for putting the whole teepee together.

Start by sewing each of the four sections together at the side seams, wrong sides together, in a 1cm seam.

Turn so that right sides are now facing each other and sew a 4cm seam (effectively just a huge French seam) which will create the tubes through which your pipes will pass.


Sew a small square of velcro onto the front door curtains in the same way as before, and a matching piece inside the curtain close to the seam.


Cut the pipes to 1800mm in length and thread through the casings.

(You may have to trim an inch or two from the top of the teepee to make room for all the poles like I had to).

Tie a leather shoelace or other cording around the top of the tent to keep the poles in place.


And that’s it!










I had to get a photo with the chickens!


Hopefully I haven’t ruined the surprise as I’m pretty certain this little girl’s mother doesn’t read my blog!

As this teepee only takes up about one square metre of floor space, it is ideal for indoor use and, I suspect, this one will live permanently in her bedroom as a quiet reading nook.

Teepees aren’t only for girls though – what little boy wouldn’t love his own pirate version using this pirate fabric from Minerva?

Or how about a unisex wigwam to suit a brother and sister with this gorgeous Kite print?


Wouldn’t it look lovely draped with fairy lights and bunting?

In fact I might just go and make some bunting now……


How To Make A Mobile Phone Case

Everyone has a mobile (cell) phone nowadays and cases get tatty pretty quickly what with all that in-out wear and tear, so here’s a quick guide to making a new one.

They use so little fabric and are quick to make that they would make a great present, especially if you personalise it like I have done, with a name and motif.

Here’s how: –

Cut out your motif leaving a little fabric around all sides.


Iron a small pieces of interfacing to the reverse of the motif.


Pin the motif onto the fabric you are going to make the case out of.


Drop the feed dogs, remove the presser foot and free-machine embroider the motif to the base fabric. In this instance, I just followed the curly white lines with white thread.

(You can use Bondaweb or similar to fuse the motif to the base fabric if you would prefer the no-sew option.)


Trim away the excess fabric from the motif, cutting close to the stitching.


Repeat the process for the back and add any other details at this point too – I also embroidered the name of the recipient using the machine.


Measure your ‘phone and add a seam allowance, then cut your appliquéd sections, lining and wadding to the same size.


Sandwich a layer of wadding between the lining and main fabric and pin together. Baste through all three layers.


With lining pieces facing out and motifs facing in, pin front to back.

Stitch around the sides and bottom, leaving the top open.


Trim the seams and finish neatly by enclosing in a thin ribbon.


Turn out the right way.

A strip of bias binding is then stitched all the way around the top opening edge to enclose the raw edges.



This will be winging its way to Italy in a few weeks when I have finished the matching yarn bag.


The wooly sheep motif is ideal for a yarn addict like Tajana, but you could easily adapt your design to suit other hobbies or passions.

Maybe a fish motif for a keen fisherman, or a cat/dog for an animal lover?

What would you choose to put on the front if you were making a phone case as a gift?


How To Make A Waterproof Patchwork Picnic Blanket And Carry Pack

Ah, the English Summer! What does it mean to you?

For me, it’s day trips to the coast, balmy evenings sat outdoors until after sundown, weekend breakfasts in the garden, outdoor concerts in the grounds of old ruins……in short – being outside.

And being outside is made all the more perfect if you take that most quintessentially English thing with you – a picnic. Dressed down with sandwiches and a flask of tea at the seaside, or glammed up with champagne and a candelabra for a classical concert, everyone loves a picnic, with a soft, warm, waterproof picnic blanket to relax on in comfort…….

……except we haven’t got one.

Well, we didn’t have until recently when I decided to take advantage of being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and make one.

I didn’t want to make just any old picnic blanket, oh no, I wanted the ‘deluxe’ version, something a bit special, so decided to make a patchwork blanket with a waterproof backing and a carry handle. As there are four boys in the house (if you include Mr H-L), anything too pink and girly was out of the question, but I thought I could get away with a small floral print if the main colour was blue.

After much deliberation, this is what I finally ordered: – 1.5m each of plastic coated red ginghamfloral patchwork print polycotton, and denim blue polycotton. This makes a blanket approximately 1.25m x 1.25m.


My Olfa Quiltmaking Kit came with this mat, rotary cutter and 6.5″ square ruler, so I kept things simple by cutting the patchwork squares the same size as the ruler.


Cutting through folded fabric made short work of all those squares as I could cut through four layers at a time – using a rotary cutter and the quilting ruler ensured that they were accurately cut, which is essential in patchwork.


In no time at all I had two piles of neatly stacked patchwork squares, 36 of the floral and 45 of the plain making 81 in total.


The easiest way to keep accurate seam allowances is to line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the machine foot, the needle in the central position. On my machine, that means a seam allowance of 1cm throughout.


Whilst it may sound obvious, there is a quick way to whizz through all those squares.

Start by sewing them in pairs, each floral with a plain, right sides together. You will need to make 36 pairs which should leave you with 9 spare squares – 5 plain and 4 floral.

Don’t bother reversing your stitching at the beginning and end of each set, cutting the thread and repeating with the next pair – just keep feeding the pairs through the machine one after the other as shown below.


When all the pairs of squares are sewn, snip the joining stitches to separate them.



Repeat this process with the pairs of squares…


….until you have rows of 4….


….then sew the rows of 4 together to make rows of 8. Now add one of your left over squares to the end of each row.

You should now have 9 rows of 9 squares.

Press all the seam allowances to one side.


To minimise any bulk at the seams, you may wish to alternate the direction in which you press them flat.


Join these rows along the long edges, matching and pinning the seams as you go.



Continue until all your strips of patchwork are sewn together into one large square.



As I reached this stage, I made the spontaneous decision to add a layer of wadding between this top layer and the bottom layer. (I had plenty in my stash, but you can buy it here.)

I cut a square of wadding slightly larger all the way around than the patchwork piece, laid it on top of the wrong side of the patchwork and pinned it around the entire edge.



Stitch close to the raw edges all around the outside and trim the excess wadding as shown.


Now the wadding is secured, you can use large tacking stitches through both layers to stop them shifting whilst quilting.

Stitch in the ‘ditch’ using a long stitch length until the whole blanket has been quilted along the seam lines.


Place the quilted layer onto the vinyl backing, wrong sides together, and trim the backing so that it is 1.5cm bigger than the top all the way around.


Using clips, fold the excess vinyl over to the right side of the blanket and secure in place.


A teflon foot makes the vinyl move smoothly through the machine, and a leather needle with its wedged shape will stop any skipped stitches (discovered through trial and error!)


A simple long straight stitch close to the raw edge of the vinyl is all that is needed.


Mitre the corners as you go for a neat finish.


I was left with a few scraps of fabric and vinyl, so I also designed a fabric roll to act as a carry pack for the blanket.

For the carry pack, cut 3 floral and 2 plain squares the same size as before and sew them all together in a single row. Press.

Cut a piece of spare vinyl 1.5cm smaller than the patchwork strip and place in the centre of the strip, wrong sides together.


Turn a narrow hem…..



….and stitch in place close to the inner folded edge around all 4 sides, mitring the corners as you go.

Cut two pieces of vinyl for the handles, each measuring 20cm x 5cm.

Fold the long upper edge in to the wrong side by 1cm, and bring the lower edge up to meet it, overlapping a little to encase the raw edge as shown below.


Stitch close to the raw edge.

Repeat with the second handle.


Position the two ends of the handle in the corner of the carry pack using the photograph as a guide.


Stitch in place with a 1cm seam.


Fold the handle to the outside and turn over, vinyl side down.

Cut a 12cm strip of velcro hook and loop fastener and sew the hook side to the fabric side of the carry pack, being sure to catch the handle in the ‘up’ position, securing it in place at the same time.

Repeat with the loop side at the other end of the carrier.


When the blanket is rolled up, wrap the carry pack around it and press the velcro strips together.



For a picnic in the garden (or anywhere), just add bunting, a squishy cushion and a hamper full of goodies.


Sun is a bonus for a picnic, but not when taking photographs (too much contrast)…


The perfect fusion of girl/boy styling that anyone would be happy to sit on.


No more damp bums!


A lovely layer of wadding for added comfort.


The carry pack with handles means that it’s compact and easy to transport.


Marley was interested to see what was going on – sometimes our hens are just a little bit too friendly!



Now all we need is for Summer to return so we can actually use our lovely new picnic blanket!!


How To Make A Play Tent From Old Shirts – A Tutorial

Last week it was our school’s Summer Fête and, as well as many edible goodies, I made a play tent for the PTFA to raffle off for their funds.

All week I had been making jam, marmalade, fudge….


….Elderflower Cordial….


…….and scones.


The day before the fair, Mr H-L had a delivery of some new shirts for work and decided to have a wardrobe clear out resulting in the eviction of nine of his ‘old’ ones.


Some of the shirts had never actually been worn and even those that had were still in great condition so, when he asked me to take them to the charity shop, and idea sprung to mind.

Why not upcycle them and make a patchwork play tent to raffle off for the school funds?

This ended up making far more money than they would have achieved in a charity shop, and the money was still going to a good cause, so off to my studio I went to formulate a plan.

I made a similar tent for The Boys last year which I never got around to blogging about, so I based it on that.



Nine men’s cotton shirts

1 x dowelling (2000mm x 25mm)

4 x planed timber (1800mm x 44mm x 18mm)

4 x eyelets

2m elastic cord

Drill a hole 15cm in from one end of each of the bits of planed timber using a spade bit the same size as your dowelling.


You now need to create one single piece of fabric that measures 1.60m x 3.20m.

The first job was to cut up the shirts into as many usable sections as possible using my rotary cutter for speed.

I started by removing the button flaps, cuffs and collars.


Look at all the buttons I rescued!


I wasn’t at all precise in my cutting as I intended to fit each piece as I went – very liberating and totally the opposite of normal patchwork!


I laid all the bits out on the floor and arranged them in a pleasing order, being sure to space out evenly the more brightly coloured yellow and pink.

This would not have quite the same impact with the more conservative blue or white work shirts, but you could always appliqué onto the patches for added interest.

I didn’t need to – Mr H-L likes a shirt that stands out:)

As you can see from the picture below, I sewed the pieces of fabric VERY roughly together into strips. The edges were then trimmed into a neat line before stitching the strips of patchwork together along their long sides.


As both sides of the tent were going to be visible, I used Flat Fell seams throughout.

This type of seam leaves a smart finish and adds strength to the seam.

Here’s a line drawing to show the construction: –

Flat fell seam

Image courtesy of Google images

In photographs, here’s what I did: –

Stitch a staggered seam where the lower fabric (pink) sticks out 1cm more than the top fabric.


Open the two fabrics flat with the raw edges of the seam uppermost.

Fold the seam to the left and tuck the (pink) overhang over the raw edge of the other (striped) fabric, enclosing all raw edges in the process.

Stitch close to the folded edge.


As I said, a very neat finish which I used as the outside of the tent.


Keep going until you have one piece of fabric measuring 1.60m x 3.20m.

Hem all around the outer edges.


In each of the four corners of the tent, fix an eyelet through which you need to attach a 50cm length of elastic cording as shown below.


Tie the ends of the cord in a knot to form a loop through which the tent poles will pass.

Align the holes in the tent poles….


….and insert the length of dowelling.


Lay the tent over the central dowel and pass the poles through the elastic cords at the bottom edge.

I also added a tie half way up each side of the tent – but, in my haste, forgot to document it. Basically, four 50cm long ties were made using scarps of leftover shirt fabric and sewn to the seam. These hold the tent more tautly to the frame.


We also decided to saw a shallow groove on the outer edge of the pole where the elastic cord sits – this helps stop the cord from riding up the pole.


With the addition of some bunting, a blanket and some cushions, it makes a lovely spot for young children to play.


Or the perfect place for No.1 Son to shade his cider from the afternoon sun!


We sold raffle tickets for the tent and raised almost seventy pounds for the school funds!

childs play tent

The lucky winner was thrilled to bits to win it for her little girls and, as it was such a success, I think I’m going to be asked to make one for next year’s fête.

Watch out Mr. H-L, I’ve got my eye on your shirts…..