Beds, beds and more beds!

I still haven’t managed to get either one of my little boys to sleep on the last one I made. There are so many around the house now, with all of my experiments, they would rather not have to make a decision so sleep on my bed instead.

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Stalker after a hard morning, I would love to know what he is dreaming about. He always has a smile on his face!!

So this week I have been trying out my fabric yarn and crochet. This little bed worked out perfectly. Not very inspiring colour wise, but now I know what size it turns out and how much fabric I need I will be able to make them alot more colourful.

It started with a recycled cotton bottom sheet.

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Then I tore up the fabric to make my yarn ready for crocheting. There are lots of websites on the net with tutorials on how to make your own fabric yarn. Very simple, you just need to have a large crochet hook to crochet it with.

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I made a small pillow with the fabric, before I made the rest into fabric yarn. I then crocheted round the pillow and made a lovely warm cuddly little bed. (Yes, another one!!)

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Crochet fabric yarn is lovely and thick so stands up on its own, but is still slightly stretchy and soft. I made this little bed with less than a single sheet size of cotton fabric. It measures 12″ across (nice size for small cats or kitten) and stands 7″ tall with the top folded over, the cushion inside is about 5″ deep but sinks to about 3″ when someone gets in. So it is very cosy and very durable. These will definitely be going into my shop, with a little tweaking and a bigger size, and some decoration, after Christmas.

This weekend I have been busy trying things out to make for the shop. Along with this little bed idea I have made an easy 30 minute make cat pillow. I had seen these no sew, quick pillows before, made from fleece or tshirt fabric. The fleece doesn’t fray, and the tshirt fabric doesn’t fray and stretches. I wondered what would happen if I made it from the left over cotton fabric from the last cat bed. And this is what it turned out like………dsc_0214Perfect, I used to love making the rag quilt bags and I can imagine after a few washes this little pillow will fray and look shabby chic just like the rag quilts. I can see alsorts of designs with this one.

I am still working on my new Etsy shop. Working towards putting items in the shop after Christmas. Alot of the things I will be posting will be hand finished or hand made as I am doing most of my crafting now in my new boarding cattery (sewing machine noise is not acceptable). I am sitting there keeping my little guests company, having catty conversations and crafting. A wonderful way to spend my days…………..

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My crafting chair, and a little guest.

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Cat mats

My two little boys have never had so many cat beds or mats to fight over before! And I promise you they do fight, they are twin brothers and don’t like sharing unless they have to. And I have made lots of cat beds and mats in the last couple of months, not only for my new Cattery57, but I am also trying to design a nice easy, cosy cat mat to start my Cattery57 Etsy shop. I want to keep the ethos of using recycled fabrics, but they need to be cosy and look pretty enough to leave lying around the home. So I have gone back to patchwork, but with a little twist of hand embroidery on some tiny kat kickers that are attached, they are removable to enable washing or to put your own cat toys onto the mat.  This is my prototype, I am in the process of embroidering the little kickers which will be attached tomorrow.  The mat measures 21″ x 21″, 2cms thick with wadding, this one is Butterfly and Flowers fabric, (although that will change due to the fabrics being recycled), fully washable, and my two boys love sleeping on it, although with the clocks going back I have had trouble catching them sleeping today!!! But I promise photo’s will be available tomorrow!!!!!

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Ready for Christmas!

SAM_2174Had a lovely few days making these little, lined, coin pouches, I have 30 ready now.

All of these are made with recycled fabric which I have quilted (yes I am still hooked on my perfect diy quilted fabric). They are lined, and decorated with lace, a loop on the back with keyring, and zip chain with little ‘recycled’ emblem charm.

Today I was busy putting the finishing touches to them and adding my little labels ready for sale!

SAM_2161Here are some of the tools for finishing off, chains, charms, keyrings and my own little handmade labels.

SAM_2165My labels are made from cat food boxes and Kraft paper. I just printed my logo on the Kraft paper, stuck it onto some card from the cat food boxes then put it through my Big Shot using a little flower die. I have stuck a little gem in the centre to add some sparkle. Then tied the label to a purse with cotton. Easy!

SAM_2171Here is a close up of the little charms I purchased to put on the end of the zip pulls. The logo is supposed to represent recycling. The chain, charm and keyring on each purse is antique bronze colour.

SAM_2169These make sweet little coin purses, and are squishy enough to put into any handbag. I’m looking forward to making lots more of these and hope that other people will like them too as I will be doing another Christmas craft fair this year and these will be the main part of the stall.

I was relying on my friend to take me to the fairs as I don’t drive. Unfortunately she moved away some time ago, so now I am having to think of things that will be small enough for me to carry  on the bus!!! Its surprising how many of these I can get into one of my laundry bags………………….

Bag Making Time

After three long weeks perfecting my new bag design I have managed to finish four! These two are tagged, bagged and ready to be sold. (The other two were sold as soon as they were finished!) As well as making some more of these I am also  in the process of designing and making some small recycled denim shoulder bags. Hopefully I will have a couple completed next week, ready for a preview here.

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These bags are made with recycled fabric. There is a zip, with hand sewn charm, and button closure at the top. A double slip pocket inside, and a large slip pocket along the front. The handles are long enough to be comfortable over the shoulder. The base is made using plastic milk bottles, (tutorial available here).

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Front view with button closure and my new labels

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Zip opening with ribbon and hand sewn charm, made with the same fabric.

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Two slip ockets inside trimmed with lace.

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lace trim on the outside pocket, with tiny recycle emblem charm

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Front pocket the whole width of the bag.

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Using my diy quilted fabric (tutorial here) has made them nice and sturdy, I love fabric bags that can stand up on their own. And they can be put through the washing machine if they get a little grubby. I hope you like them.

 

 

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.

What am I doing?

I can’t believe that it is nearly 2 years now since I went self employed.  I haven’t made any money and I don’t seem to have got anywhere with anything.  As you can probably tell, I am on a little bit of a downer at the moment.  But the last couple of years have been ups and downs all the time.  The only thing that is keeping me going is the time I am able to enjoy crafting.  But I am getting to the point where I am realising it doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table.

One minute I am looking at a job website, then I am trawling through the craft forums.  I have invested so much money (alot to me anyway) and time and effort into this that something has got to give.  Christmas is around the corner again so I am trying to think about that too.  There just isn’t enough hours in the day.

My workshops are non-existent, even though I keep changing them to get interest.  I know the kiddies are on school holidays at the moment, but I haven’t had one enquiry so far this year.  I can’t reduce the fees as I am supplying all the fabrics, equipment etc as well as the tuition and they get to take the finished article home with them.  So I think the price I charge for a 2 hour workshop is reasonable.

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The little craft fair I attended last month is holding another one at the end of this month, so I am making my Rag Bags to fill the stall along with my paper baskets. This last week has been a lovely quiet, creative week in my ‘studio’ doing what I love most.

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My new Rag Bags are thicker, flufflier and (I think) alot prettier than my previous ones.  They are still made from recycled fabrics and are all ‘one of a kind’.  I never make 2 the same. SAM_1518After the craft fair they will be for sale on my website along with others I will be making working up to, hopefully, Christmas sales.

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I am going to be holding an open day for people to meet me, see my studio, see what and how I make my baskets and bags and to answer any questions they have about the workshops. It will be by invitation only,  so if you are local and would like more information and an invitation please contact me through my website.

I must start concentrating and stop going off at a tangent, and keep changing things and starting new things.  Perhaps that would help.  So it is just my paper weaving and Rag Bags from now on.  I have streamlined my website, cut down on my workshops to concentrate on Rag Bag making and decorating sessions.  Now all I have to do is sell ……………………