Crazy Cat Shelf Sitter

Not having my workshop anymore has made me do alot more hand sewing for my crafts. I do miss my big table that I used to cut out on and have my sewing machine set up all the time. Never mind it gives me an excuse to go back to doing crazy patchwork.

This past time is just what it says, passes the time but really quickly as it is so enjoyable. You can use all of your little bits that you probably thought would never see the light of day again but kept hold of just in case i.e that lonely button, half a dozen beads, odds and ends of embroidery silk.

I have just made this, well not today, it has been over the last couple of weeks, whilst waiting for licences, insurances etc for the cattery.

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Only measures 6″ x 4″ so not really alot of fabric to cover with all of your embroidery stitches and bits!

I will be doing a tutorial shortly if you would like to have a go. This is a little shelf sitter for my bedroom but you could sew on a hanging ribbon, make it bigger and use as a posh pillow or frame it and hang on the wall.

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My finished paper mache storage boxes, at last!!

It wasn’t until I received a message from a reader to say that I had shown the start of my storage boxes but hadn’t shown how they look now that they are finished. I must apologise, this project was in my blog in April!! So here is the update as to how they look (I did finish them in June, honestly!)

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This is how they looked in the beginning. just recycled cardboard and masking tape.

For my paper mache I used small pieces of brown Kraft paper and a 1:1 water diluted PVA glue. The boxes were covered, inside and out, with about 3 layers of the paper mache (leaving to completely dry between each layer). They were then painted, inside and out, with a household matt white paint. I needed to do two coats of this to make sure the Kraft paper was covered and the finished boxes looked white. Then came the final coat of household satin paint. I love satin paint, it isn’t as shiny as the gloss and is alot easier to paint with.

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They didn’t finish as hard as I thought they would by using the PVA glue, I should probably have done it the old fashioned way and used a flour/water paste mix for the mache. But they still serve their purpose and I have gained alot more storage room on the shelves, and it looks alot neater than before.

I carried on with the recycling ethos and made labels for each box. To do this I printed a label with a design, stuck it onto a piece of recycled cardboard and covered it with transparent plastic. To attach the labels to the boxes I used gold coloured split paper pins.

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And this is how they ended up.

SAM_2033I had been looking at the price and sizes of storage boxes, none of them would have fitted my shelves or looked as neat, or been practically free!!

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

I love, love my computer and printer for my crafts, not just for designing and printing out patterns but for printing on to lots of other stuff too including fabric.

My printer is a cheap Epson S21 inkjet that has lasted me for years and is happy with compatible inks so I can save money there. Here are some tips that I gleaned when putting fabric through it:

Hanging fabric hearts with printed poem and picture

I love to include poetry in some of my fabric projects but I don’t really enjoy embroidery, it’s too slow, and my writing is not that pretty so I won’t use fabric pens. Looking at all the fonts I have on my computer I wanted to use some of them.

There are lots of websites that give instructions on how to print on fabric. Apparently pigment ink (expensive) is washable, top loaders are better as fabric doesn’t get stuck and mess up your printer etc. etc……I would recommend that you have a look first as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your printer.

BUT

The way I do it with my top loader inkjet printer is:

Materials needed:

Cotton fabric (I use plain off white bed sheets)

Carpet tape, it is nice and wide (or strong double sided tape)

A4 Printer card (I use 60gms)

Directions

Cut the  fabric about 1″ smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. (I make a template from old cardboard so I can just draw around it onto the fabric, alot quicker than trying to measure each piece)

Give the fabric a good iron so that there aren’t any creases

Place carpet tape or double sided tape onto the back of the fabric, cut away any excess tape as this will stick to the rollers in your printer. Cover the whole of the fabric piece with the tape and not just round the edges, the fabric will stretch between the tape as it goes through the printer if it is not all stuck down.

Peel off the tape backing and carefully stick the fabric to printer card (60gsm), there should not be any creases or any loose ends of fabric as these may get caught in the printer rollers.

Get your pattern or picture organised on your computer and print a practice piece to make sure that it will print onto the area of your fabric.

Use the printer as you would if you were printing a normal page, don’t chnage any printing settings i.e to glossy paper etc.

When you are happy with the placement place your fabric covered card into your printer and print!!!!

Vintage Lady and butterflies were printed onto fabric and used in this collaged wall hanging.

Unfortunately by using the cheaper inkjet ink the fabric is not washable, but most of my projects are pincushions, wallhangings or things that wouldn’t normally be washed anyway. I have tried heat sealing the ink with a hot iron and microwave, or rinsing it in vinegar etc but the ink still seems to fade or wash out completely. But for what I want it for, this method is ideal and easy and a lot cheaper than buying the fabric sheets made for the printer.

You can buy products to help make the ink waterproof just put in your search Printing on Fabric.

I also make my own patterned fabric for small projects like appliqué or patchwork (again, that are not going to be washed), there are lots of scrapbook backing papers free on the net, print them onto plain fabric, some of them are very pretty. Sites that sell household wall paper also have swatches of the papers, copy and paste them onto your programme (I use Word for everything, so simple) resize it to fit a page and print, perhaps you could find the wallpaper that matches your room and make some decorations i.e bunting. Or use one of your photographs to include in a fabric project. There are thousands of ideas out there for using this, I could go on forever, but I think there is enough to think about on this subject already!

 

My Hand Made Bag Bases Using Recycled Plastic Milk Bottles!!

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I have done alot of research on bag bases. Read almost everything on how people make their own. From cardboard, to wood to childrens hard back book covers, most of these have a separate fabric sleeve and have to be removed if you want to wash the fabric bag. I wanted mine to be part of the bag and able to put them through the washing machine without any worry of them distorting or melting away. You can buy the bag bases, I have never tried them, I am trying to stick to my ‘recycled’ ethos, and that includes not spending money when I don’t have to!!!
So this is my version of a stable, washable bag base for my hand made fabric bags.

Materials:
2 plastic milk bottles I find the big 6 pint ones give you more flattish plastic
1 piece of polyester wadding
sewing machine
needle and thread
Fabric to cover
How to do it:

My bag bases ended up being around 8″ x 4″

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So I cut the top off the milk bottles, with a craft knife, and the base. Cut down the seam and flattened it out. Because the bottles are shaped while being heated you will not be able to get them completely flat, But the next step will help a little.
Cut out the shape and size you will need x 2, and round off the corners.

At this stage check that the base will fit snugly in the bottom of your bag, once you are happy with the size go to the next step.

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Cut a piece of the fabric that you want to cover the base with, approx 1″ larger all round

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Place the two pieces of plastic together and with your sewing machine stitch 3 lines across the longest part. Your machine should take it OK if you go slowly, and gently push the plastic along, as the feed dogs on your machine may slip.

(Yes you can put thin soft plastic, like this, through your machine, just don’t try to push it through too much as you may break your needle. I have used drink cans,  on my machine and lots of other wierd and wonderful things!!!!)

Next, place the wadding on top of the stitched plastic base and run through the sewing machine once more stitching once down the centre. This will stop the wadding from moving in the base of your bag.

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As you can see you don’t have to be that neat, no one will see it once the bag is finished.

The next step is to cover the plastic base. Take the piece of fabric you have for the base and tack, or baste all round the edge.

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Place the plastic base, wadding side down, onto the fabric

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Pull your stitches, as though you are making a yoyo. and tie a knot so that the fabric is tight around the base.

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You can now slip stitch the base into place at the bottom of the lining of your bag.

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This is how the bottom will look when you are finished. It is sturdy and washable and won’t distort, and didn’t cost anything. It is soft enough not to leave a bruise on your hips!!!! but stable enough to give a nice flat bottom to the bag when it is full of all your bits and pieces.

SAM_2120If you have any questions please let me know and I will try to answer them asap.

Perfect DIY Quilted Fabric Tutorial

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My first ever piece of perfect machine quilting

Having tried quilting many years ago on my sewing machine I gave up. I don’t have a walking foot on my machine and I definitely don’t have the patience to do it by hand. Because I use recycled sheets and quilt covers in my crafts I am always trying to find ways to give the fabric more substance especially for my bags. Trying to do quilting was very frustrating always puckering and never looked professional.
After doing some research and watching some wonderful Thai ladies making quilted fabric I gave it a go. Even though it does take some time and a lot of thread, I have never enjoyed a project so much. It was very relaxing and guaranteed a perfect result, even my sewing machine seemed to be singing as it was only asked to do straight lines.

Materials needed:
2 layers of cotton fabric, if you have a project in mind for your quilted fabric cut your fabric at least 1″ larger than your pattern piece.

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This is a pattern piece for one of my bags, I will cut down the quilted fabric when it is finished. As you quilt, the size of your fabric will shrink slightly, so keep this in mind when you start to quilt.

1 layer of polyester wadding
Dark thread for tacking
Thread for quilting
Fabric pen, this was the best thing that I invested in. It cost £3.75 but is perfect for drawing the quilting lines on the fabric and completely rinses out in cold water.
Scissors, Needle
Ruler
Sewing machine, any machine will do this project.

Place the lining, right side down on your board, then the wadding, then your main fabric right side up to make your quilt sandwich.

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Quilt Sandwich

With a hot and steamy iron press these three layers together. This is what I like about the wadding, it will compress down, from being thick and spongy, to a nice flat and slightly stiff fabric and feel just like an expensive interfacing, just don’t get it on your iron as it will stick to it!

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First set of tacking stitches

Next draw lines, using the fabric pen and ruler, across the length of the fabric, I used the width of my ruler which was about 1″. On a flat surface, and using a dark thread tack, or baste as they say in the US, along each line. Don’t try and do it by holding the fabric as it will pucker and move about, a lot! And just relax and enjoy and imagine what your finished project is going to look like.

Once you have tacked all the lines take the fabric pen and ruler and draw lines across the width of the fabric making a grid, and tack all of these!! I was surprised how quickly I got all of this done, you don’t have to be neat and just follow the lines and day dream!!

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First set of lines to sew using the sewing machine. You could do them all by hand if you really wanted to!

Your fabric will now be stable enough to go through the sewing machine without any problems at all.

To make the quilted pattern I drew more lines, with the fabric pen, diagonally across the fabric using the width of my ruler, approx 1″.

As I just wanted straight lines in my quilting I didn’t have to change any feet or setting on my machine, I just change the stitch width to medium, you don’t want the stitching to be too tight as you are going to be sewing through 3 layers of fabric. You can use any colour thread, I chose a cream to match the fabric background.

Now just sew along each line, making sure to cut away the excess thread at the end of each line so it doesn’t get caught up.

When you have finished those lines, take the fabric pen and ruler again and draw the last set of lines diagonally the other way, to make diamond shapes and sew them. Your fabric should end up looking like this

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The back and front before the tacking stitches have been removed.

When you have finished sewing all of the lines take out all of the tacking stitches. If you have a fabric pen like mine you will need to rinse the fabric in cold water to remove the pen lines, make sure you read the instructions on the pen. And don’t be tempted to iron your fabric before you have got rid of the pen lines as some of these pens will stain the fabric when heat is applied.

(Note: I also found this out with the cheap oil based tailor chalks, so don’t iron until all of the markings have been washed out!)

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The back after ironing.

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The front after ironing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it beautiful?? The fabric has been washed, all the pen lines have disappeared, just like magic, it has been ironed, and look no puckers, perfectly flat and ready to be made into my next bag.

Painting My Newspaper Baskets

I finished weaving the three large newspaper baskets that I needed for some of my fabric stash.
This tutorial shows you how I finished them.

Materials used:
PVA wood glue or white glue, very cheap and easy to use. I dilute the PVA, one part water to one part PVA glue.
Primer or undercoat.
Quick Dry Satin Paint. (Look for paints that are water based, these only need soap and water to clean the brushes. The oil based paints are messy, very smelly, need spirits to clean the brushes and take ages to dry properly on these baskets)
Brushes.

When I had finished weaving the basket (see my tutorial) and cut off all of the excess uprights on the top, I painted about 2″ all round the top, inside and out with some of the diluted PVA glue. Making sure that I got some glue into the holes which were left after cutting the uprights. Leave to dry overnight. (This is the boring bit, the waiting!)

You will find , once the glue is dry, the newspaper has gone nice and hard and the top of the basket is secure. It is also very sturdy, even though there isn’t any glue anywhere else.

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A full can shows how strong the newspaper weave is before any treatment.

The next step is to dilute some more PVA glue, one part glue to one part water, and paint the whole basket. I usually paint all of the inside of the basket, including the cardbaord base, going over the glue that has already dried at the top, then all round the outside of the basket, leaving the base until later. This way you can leave the basket standing upright to dry without the bottom sticking to everything. When you are painting, do it in a circular motion so that the glue gets into all the nooks and crannies of your weaving.

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Mix one part water to one part pva glue

Leave to dry overnight, the next day turn the basket over and paint the bottom with some diluted glue.

Again, leave to dry.

Once dry you could leave the basket as it is, or you could give it a coat of clear quick dry varnish. I wanted my baskets white to match the shelves that they will be sitting on.

Painting the basket:

Before you paint the basket, with a coloured paint, you will need to give the paint a base to ‘sit’ on, otherwise you will have to do a lot of layers to cover the print of the newspaper.

I used a primer, or undercoat, that we had left over from decorating the house. This will give a chalky finish and something for the coloured paint to cling on to.

I did the same as I did with the glue layer, paint all of the inside and outside of the basket leaving the outside base until the basket was dry.

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Primer or undercoat for a base coat before final colour

(You will still be able to see some of the newsprint through the primer, so don’t try and put it on too thickly)

Every time I do a layer of paint I leave it overnight to completely dry even though I am usually very impatient, it is worth it!!

Now for the finishing layer, I used a quick dry white satin paint, but you could use any colour you like, or have left from decorating.

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Final coat using quick dry satin paint

Again using a circular motion with the paint brush get into all the holes, you won’t be able to cover everything inside the weaving, but once this layer is finished you won’t be able to tell that this basket was once a couple of old newspapers and a bit of cardboard!!!
When this layer of paint is dry, again overnight, the basket is finished. It is lovely and strong, the newsprint doesn’t show through and if it does get a little grubby you can use a damp cloth to wipe it over.

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Finished basket

Now to paint my other two baskets to complete the set.

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In the next tutorial I will show you a quick way of doing removable labels for the baskets.

Square Newspaper Weave Basket

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I wanted some baskets for my fabric stash. When it comes to fabric I am a hoarder and have loads of tiny pieces that I use for applique. So here is how I made them, please read all the instructions before starting this project:

Newspaper Sticks

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You will need lots of newspaper sticks. There are quite a few websites showing how to make these, my particular favourite is this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXHKvQbMJO0
I do sell them in my Etsy shop but postage is quite expensive.

It does take a while to master this, don’t give up, after all you will only be wasting old newspapers whilst you practice. In the video she uses white glue (PVA glue), I use a glue stick which works just the same but dries quicker. And I cut my newspaper with scissors.

A Mould
Measure the size of basket you want to weave and make a mock up, or mould, of one out of cardboard. Make the mould approx 1″ smaller than the size you want your finished basket to be. You will use this to weave round, it will help you to keep the size and shape of your basket as you will see further on in this tutorial.

Start Making Your Basket
Using your mould as a template draw round the bottom onto another piece of cardboard. ( I have used a thick piece of cardboard from a flat pack furniture delivery box, you could glue together several pieces of thin cardboard to make it thicker).

Cut it out.
This piece will be the beginning of your basket.

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Now to start making your basket. (Mine is quite large 15″ x 15″ x 12″ deep but you can use this tutorial for any size you want).

Draw a line on all four sides of the piece of cardboard you have just cut out for the bottom of your basket, approx 1/2″ in from the edge. Measure and mark approx 1″ apart along each edge making sure to mark at each corner. Don’t be too worried about this measurement as long as they are evenly distributed along each edge.

Next, using a screwdriver or something similar, push through each mark you have made making a hole large enough to take a newspaper stick. I started with an awl and then pushed a biro through each hole to enlarge it.

Take a newspaper stick, fold it in half and poke one end through one of the holes, with the other end of the newspaper stick poke it through the next hole. Pull it through tight so the loop lies flat, as in the picture below. Keep adding sticks until each hole has been filled.

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Turn the cardboard bottom over and these will be the sticks that you will be weaving on, the uprights.

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For my basket I use the rope weave, which uses two newspaper sticks at a time. this video shows you how to make a different bottom, but also shows, very simply, how to do the rope weave.

Weave one row all around the outside of the bottom piece of cardboard. Making sure you mould the weaving newspaper sticks round each corner.

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This is how it should look when you have finished the first row of weaving, turn the whole piece over, as in the picture below

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and carry on weaving making the next row lay on top of the last one while at the same time lifting each upright newspaper stick to make it stand upright. As shown below.:

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When you come to the end of the second row take your mould and place it inside of the upright newspaper sticks.

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Make sure all of your uprights are on the outside of your mould. I like to put something heavy inside the mould so that it doesn’t move around whilst I am weaving. I have used a couple of full paint tins but you could use anything like tins from the food cupboard, stones or bricks from the garden etc.

Now you can carry on weaving, making your weaving as close as possible to your mould. But not too tight that you can’t remove your mould at the end.

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If you find your uprights are too short for the height of your basket, as I have here, you need to make them longer. To do this you need to add more newspaper sticks. Here I have some made from the yellow pages, they are shorter than the newspaper sticks but long enough to reach the top of my measured basket.

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To make the uprights longer I insert more paper sticks, with the use of a knitting needle.

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Poke in the knitting needle next to one upright and slightly stretch the weaving and just push in another stick (you could add a small amount of white glue (PVA) if you wish). You will need to add new sticks all the way round. Be careful not to pull out these extra sticks as you are weaving.

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Carry on weaving incorporating these new sticks as shown.

When you have reached the height that you want your basket to be you need to close your weaving.

Take each end of your two weaving sticks and using a knitting needle or similar, prize open about three rows down and push down one end, pulling it right through, do the same with the other end.

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So they look like this. Cut off the excess.

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You have now finished weaving your basket. To complete, cut off all the uprights flush to the edge of the basket. Like so:

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In the next tutorial I will show you how I finish and paint my newspaper weave baskets.