Thursday, May 31, 2012

Something fishy in My Creative Space

A while ago I was given a huge fabric stash from a friend who is moving away.  Part of this amazing haul was this bag full of scraps of Great Barrier Reef Fabric!


Since we live on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef itself - I really wanted to make something with this fabric. 
It's all sorts of funny shaped scraps:

So I've started cutting and sorting!!


I do have a plan!!

Now my plans often morph and change as they go on, so I'm going to work on this one for a few days and reveal how it's going next week! 

For more fabulously creative spaces, grab a cuppa and head on over here!



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tissue Box Cover Tutorial




I've been wanting to make one of these for a while - so simple but it's nice to pretty up those tissue boxes. My daughters always want me to splash out and buy the boxes with fancy designs on, but why pay more for a box, when you can jazz a cheap one up with some pretty fabric?

Here's how you can make your own tissue box cover in just

 5 steps and 15 minutes! 

Anyone can sew this!

You will need:
 Some pretty fabric - a fat quarter is perfect - or you could always piece together some scraps!
A standard tissue box

(Note - you can make this to fit any tissue box you like. For the side pieces, measure your box and add 1cm (approx 0.5") to each measurement. For the top pieces, half the measurement across the top of the box - then add your 1cm (0.5"))

note: All seams are 2/8"

Step 1
Cut your fabric pieces.
You need
Top: 2 pieces 23 x 6.75cm (9 x 2.5")
Long sides:  2 pieces 23 x 12cm (9 x 4.75")
Short Sides: 2 pieces 12 x 12.5cm ( 4.75 x 5")


Step 2
Make the top part.
Take one top piece and turn over one long end a very small amount and stitch. Repeat with other top piece.

Now pin these two edges right side together. Place two pins where you want the opening for the tissues to be.

Then stitch together - leaving the opening between the pins.

Then open out and top stitch along either side of the seam:


Step 3

Now pin your two long sides to the long sides of your top piece. Right sides together. Stitch.


Step 4

Pin the remaining small side pieces to the top and edge pieces - right sides together. Stitch:


Step 5
Double turn the bottom edge of the box cover and stitch to neaten.

And you're done!



You can dress a plain one up with ruffles...


Or just use funky fabric!

A wonderfully simple project to brighten up any room!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.


For more simple sewing tutorials of useful things you can make in just 5 steps and 15 minutes - go here.

And there are plenty more tutorials for all levels on



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reality Check!

Over the past few months I've watched my blog grow.  I've worked hard on producing good content, tutorials and useful and interesting posts.
Checking my blog stats on blogger has given me lots of encouragement as I see more and more visitors coming through.
Here's what my overall pageviews look like on my blogger stats:


I've been excited to see that it looks like in May, I could go over the 50,000 pageviews in a month mark!

I think over the last couple of months, I've also settled into a bit of a routine with my blog - with my posts and sewing and how I'm organising my work and my time.

Now as a mum, over the years, I've found myself now and again settling into a kind of routine like this with my kids - finding what is working with them for our lives to run smoothly.
Then just when I think I've got it all figured out..


I suddenly realise things aren't running quite as smoothly as I thought - and it's time to reassess and look again at what I'm doing and how I'm doing it!

So the same goes for my blog!
I've just had a ...


moment!

Since the new blogger came into play a couple of months ago, I haven't looked at google analytics, I've just been relying on my blogger stats.
When I decided to look at my analytics stats this week - I got a rude shock!

From what I understand and have read on various other sites, Google analytics is a more accurate representation of your site's statistics.

So for the past month according to Blogger stats, I've had:

52,337 page views

but according to Google analytics, 
for the same period I've had:

34,692 page views

Now that's a big difference!
and my reality check! 

Time get out of my rut routine and try something different and work a bit harder.


I've noticed small things over the past few months have changed. Each time I post a new tutorial, I link it up to lots of linky parties through the week, and I also submit it to some of the large craft and sewing sites, which often feature my tutorials bringing me more traffic and new readers.

Some of those sites used to feature my work regularly, but now don't even respond at all to my (almost) weekly new tutorials.
Are they just fed up with me?
Or don't they like my tutorials anymore?

Whatever the reason, once again - my little routine, and list of places to submit my tutorials to, has become stale and needs revamping!

Blogs are very much fluid things - they need to be constantly growing and coming up with new material to keep people interested.

So my thinking cap is going on.

In some ways I also find blogging like teaching .
I am a teacher of English as a foreign language and always loved the challenge of making my lessons interesting, fun, pitched at just the right level for the students - not too easy, not too difficult - and most of all rewarding, so the students felt they acheived something during the lessons.

Once again, with teaching - you can find a formula that works with a class - and run with that for a while - but soon the magic wears off and you have to find new ways to present things to keep the students interested and happy.

So now my challenge is to find new inspiration for my blog - to brighten it up and find more ways to keep my current readers interested and happy - and to entice new readers in!

I'm going to be setting aside more time for reading other blogs - both sewing/crafting ones and also ones about blogging itself - like Problogger , Entrepreneur's Journey and The Traffic Generation Cafe..


I'm also going to try to learn to make more use of facebook, twitter and google+, to build up a better network.

AND, I'm going to make a concerted effort with my photos to learn to take better ones! After all - a picture tells a thousand words - and can draw in a lot of new readers if it's really good!!


So how about you and your blog?  Do you check your stats?  Is there a big discrepancy between your Blogger stats and Google analytics?  Or if you use a different platform like Wordpress - are your stats encouraging you to blog more?

Are you now in a comfortable routine or rut that you need to get out of to make progress?

Leave me a comment here if you are - maybe we can encourage, motivate and help each other!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Goodbye dolls!


My daughters are growing up, and growing out of things.
They've decided that they no longer want their Barbie and Bratz dolls and so they've been packed into a bag together with all their clothes and accessories and are waiting by the door to be taken to a new home.

I have to say it is a little sad to see them go.
Last year, we did have some fun together when they helped me out with some sewing and DIY!


They helped to make themselves a whole camping set - complete with tent, car and sleeping bags!

Go here if you'd like to see them in action!

They also had a sew-off between the Barbies and Bratz - to see who could make the best cushions!

So, farewell ladies! We had some fun times - and I'm sure you'll have lots more with your new owners!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fabric Origami Bag - photo tutorial


I've had a lot of requests to show how I made this bag - so here's a simple photo tutorial to show you:


You can make this bag whatever size you want - the bigger the fabric square you start with, the bigger the bag will be.
I used 2 fabric squares 41cm (16") for this bag.

I used fabric from 2 old dresses (because I love a good upcycle!!)



Stitch the 2 squares right sides together (remembering to leave a small gap to turn out through), clip the corners and turn out; then top stitch around all 4 edges.
Now you have a nice double sided fabric square to make your bag with.


First lay this square flat with what you want to be the OUTSIDE of the bag face down. (I wanted the purple to be the outside here).
Now you need to fold the bottom corner up, then the top corner down.  Play around with this until it looks nice and even!
If you like you can measure to check the sides are even.



Now take a ruler and either draw a line or mark with pins down through the centre from point to point:

Then stitch along this line.

Next fold in both side corners:



Now run 2 rows of stitching on both sides where you just folded. This will form the casing for the drawstring or ribbon.  It doesn't matter exactly where you stitch these rows. Just make sure the gap between them is wide enough to thread your ribbon through. 



Now fold the bag in half - so all the folds are on the inside of the bag:


And stitch down both sides close to the edge - you are stitching the sides of the bag here!

Now turn the bag out so the folds are on the outside!

Now all that remains to do is thread the ribbon or cord through.
I used lengths, 45 cm (18") each. Use a large safety pin to push each piece through the casing you created with your stitching.  Thread one piece through both sides from the left, and then the other piece through both sides from the right. 




Tie the ends of each piece of ribbon together at the sides:

And now you're finished!


Fill it up and use your new pretty bag!



For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.



And please do take a look through my other free sewing tutorials.
There are over 100 available for all levels of sewing ability.