Archive for May, 2012

DIY luggage tags

Dear reader(s?),

Since today is my last day in Blighty (and probably my last post for a couple of weeks at least), I thought I’d leave you with a quick travel-themed post.  I was thinking about my scraps of fabric the other day, and I thought it would be fun to use up some of my remaining stash to make cute and durable luggage tags to take with me!

I took my usual approach to making things and just got stuck in without bothering to think too much about how I would actually do it, or reading any instructions.  As a result, what was intended to be a quick half-hour project turned into an epic marathon of failure requiring much more fabric than I had anticipated, and a whole lot more patience.  To save others the pain, here is a quick run-down of how to successfully make luggage tags first time.

You will need:

  • half a metre or so of fabric
  • some thin plastic (I used a CD wallet)
  • some fairly thick card
  • a button
  • some pretty ribbon

First, decide how big you want your tags to be and cut bits of plastic and card to size.  Mine are about 9×5 cm.

Then, lay your card on the wrong side of your fabric, and make a shape like this around it…

Recognise this print? I had some left over after the pants debacle.

You want twice the width of your card, plus 2 inches length at the bottom, half an inch at the top, plus the double triangle shape on top.  Mark the corners of the card, and cut a window about an inch smaller than the card,  Cut nice little slits at the corners so you can fold it under.

Then, fold over the edges of the window and sew your plastic rectangle on.

WARNING!  From now on, BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE IRON!  You don’t want to go get almost finished, then ruin it by melting a hole in your little window.

This is what sadness looks like.

Next, hem the top edge at the other side and fold over the top triangle to make this nice flappy shape.  This is where your button will go.

It’s taking shape now…

Don’t iron!

Believe me, it’s tough to fight the instinct to iron it at every step.

Just hold and pin it carefully.

Next, fold the whole thing in half with edges under to make a nice little pocket.  Sew the sides and bottom.

*You could do this step with the tag inside out, and then turn it right side out when you’re done (as you normally would), but I found that this crinkled the plastic horribly.  It’s easier to fold the edges under, then sew it carefully from the right side.

Ooh, it looks almost finished now, doesn’t it?  All you need are two buttonholes!

You should have some excess space at the bottom end for a nice wide buttonhole.  Make it wide enough for your ribbon – this is how you’ll attach the tag to your luggage.  Make another buttonhole on the flap, big enough for your button, and attach the button to the back of the tag.

And you’re done!  Insert the card, and your name and address (obviously), and tie it to your bag.

Now, admire how pretty it is and make a cup of tea while you try to remember where you left your passport.

See you on the other side, folks!


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Mystery project revealed!

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Well, the time has finally come!  I’ve just finished my Super Exciting Epic Mega-Project, and I’m so darn excited I couldn’t wait any longer to share it with you.

Did you guess what it was?

Well, if you guessed BOOTS, you were right!

I love them!  Here they are before:

They were nice boots, but they were all scuffed and old-looking, so I never wore them.  Rather than throw them out, I decided to cover them and make them fabulous instead.

I was inspired by these gorgeous Irregular Choice shoes my dad bought me a few weeks ago, which I can’t stop looking at.  I’ve always wanted a pair, and I just love them.

I love how there are so many different prints on the shoes.  They are just so pretty. Why stick to one lovely fabric when you could use three?

I’d also read a few tutorials about how to cover your shoes with fabric, like this one, and I thought I’d give it a shot.  Since I didn’t wear the boots anyway, I figured I had nothing to lose.  All the tutorial I read involved simply using glue and sticking the fabric on.  It seemed pretty simple and I thought it would be a quick and easy project, so it didn’t matter if they didn’t last too long.  So, I got stuck in (haha) and plastered the fabric to the boots.  Alas, this DID NOT WORK!  I used regular white glue, maybe I should have used fabric glue.

Having already invested a certain amount of time in these boots I was not going to give up until I’d finished them, so I decided that the only solution was to sew the fabric on by hand (!)  It has taken me a couple of weeks and lots of holes in my fingers, and at times I certainly wanted to just throw them out, but now they are done it was so worth it!  I am in love with them.

Just look how pretty they are!

In case any of you are insane keen on making your own, here’s a couple of points about how I did it.

My stitching is a bit wonky (O.o)

First, I cut the pieces of fabric to size and stitched them on.  I wasn’t too bothered about my stitches being pretty (obviously!), since it was pretty difficult to push the needle through the boot accurately, and also quite hard to do – progress was slow enough as it was, without being picky about straight lines.

Once I had the base layer of flowers/spots, I cut the purple panels for the toe and back of the heel.  Since I was aiming for brogues, I punched holes in them using a hole punch.

Like this.

I stitched around each hole to prevent fraying and sewed the pieces to the toe/back of each boot.  For the toe, I had to use a curved upholstery needle because I couldn’t pull the needle through from the inside.

Finally, I cut the fabric for the heel post, and hemmed it on the machine.  I attached it with superglue, and trimmed the excess.

Finished! Or are they?

Then, it occurred to me that the fronts looked a little bare, and I had the idea of making laces!  So, I made the side purple panels, punched and stitched the holes as before, and attached the panels to the side seams, before threading pretty ribbon through.


Now, I’m wearing them and feeling smug.

Let me know if you decide to overhaul your own shoes!


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Potato print pillowcase pants

Good day, crunchies and crunchettes!  Today I have another exciting upcycling, sewing machine project to share with you. It’s easy, it’s fun, and best of all, it’s pants!



This make-your-own-pants tutorial from The Guardian’s website has been on my ‘must try this’ list for a while, and when I had a load of pillowcase fabric left over from another project, I seized the chance for a bit of underwear craftage. The only problem was, the pillowcases were plain white and peach coloured, not nearly fun enough for new pants. So, I decided to unleash my inner 5-year-old and make a potato stamp. Huzzah!  After all, what’s the point of new underwear if it’s not fun?

Please do read The Guardian’s tutorial for more comprehensive instructions.  I made the polka dot pair pretty much according to their plan, but then I’d run out of knicker elastic and I wasn’t finished playing, so I made a second pair a bit differently.  So, I’ll give you a quick how-to for my improved Potato Print Pillowcase Pants.

You will need:

  • fabric
  • fabric paint and paintbrush (I used Dylon fabric paint)
  • a potato, knife and chopping board
  • sewing machine and thread
  • shirring elastic

TAKE HEED! It’s easiest to use stretchy fabric. I did not, and the polka dot pair came out way too small (hence the ribbon ties).

First of all, cut your fabric to shape. You can use an existing pair of pants as a pattern. If you do this, think about how stretchy your fabric is. (this is where I went wrong). If you’re using fabric with no stretch, like me, it’s easiest just to measure your hips and figure out the shape for yourself. Warning: they will look enormous!


All cut up and ready to beautify

Next, get your stamp ready. I used a new potato, since my design was so small. I cut the potato in half and nuked it in the microwave for 30 seconds to dry it out a bit. Trust me, don’t cook it for any longer than that or you’ll have a delicious-smelling, mushy stamp.

Draw your shape on, and carve it out carefully with a knife.


I made a cute heart. Awww.

Then, just use a brush to apply some paint to your stamp, and get printing! When the paint is dry, iron the fabric according to the paint instructions, and…

you’re ready to make some pants!


Look how pretty.

First, I ironed flat and pinned all the hems. This took quite some time, but it was worth it. If you’re using jersey fabric you don’t really need to bother with this step. You lucky thing.


Nest, pin the side and bottom seams. This would be a good time to try the pant-shaped-things on, to see if you’re on the right track, and adjust accordingly. When you’re satisfied, go ahead and sew the seams.

Almost finished! Are you excited? I am!

Finally, load the bobbin on your sewing machine with shirring elastic. Sew around the waist and legs, and you’re done!

Tip! Make sure you sew with the printed side facing up, or you’ll end up with the elastic showing. I made this mistake a couple of times, and believe me, I do not like to unpick and re-do when I’m sewing.


New pants!



I think I’ve found my new go-to craft for all fabric scraps.  Beware, fabric, lest ye be turned into pants!


Put your sexy new pants on and dance around the house like this.


Before you go, I want to give you a sneak preview of a SUPER EXCITING EPIC MEGA-PROJECT I’m in the middle of right now.  It should be done in the next few days, and I won’t give you any hints other than telling you that my fingers are pretty darn sore, but here’s a close-up to whet your appetite.


What can it be?!

 Speculate away, my friends.  Until then, have fun making your pants!


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Easy top / skirt

With less than two weeks to go until my move to sunny Savannah, I am in need of some pretty, summery clothes.  Here’s a really simple way to deal with this problem.

I saw this turorial on Sew Like My Mom a while ago, and have been dying to try it.  It is so well-explained, and looked so easy that even a haphazard sewer like me could probably do it.

Crunch time came on the day I made the half-and-half dress. I was on such a high after having actual sewing success that I just kept going, and made this top in the same afternoon!  I mentioned before that I had loads of material left over from the original dress that I hacked up – well, here’s where a lot of it went.  I present, the Top Skirt.


Sorry for the terrible mirror shot…

The tutorial over at Sew Like My Mom explains exactly how to do it, so I won’t bother.  I did make a few modifications though.  Firstly, I didn’t simply make a skirt out of an old t-shirt like she did.  Oh, no.  I decided to go one step further and make a combo top AND skirt!  (*gasp*)

I basically just added removable straps.  It was very easy.  I just took some scrap fabric and sewed 4 loops to the inside of the top, like this:


Make sure you put them a couple of inches below the top edge, or they will peek out.

The original dress happened to have a tie around the waist, so I just cut it in half, then trimmed a bit off each end to make the loops.  I attached a couple of old bra strap hooks, and voila!  The cool thing about the loops is that I could change up the straps to whatever I fancy, maybe a pretty piece of ribbon or something.

So, my spangly new garment can be worn as a strapless OR bestrapped top, OR a skirt, like this:


Fancy, right?

Also, it looks seriously cute by itself, like a tiny toddler dress.



When I’m finished with it I could find a 3-year-old to give it to.

So, there you have it – an easy and fun way to make something new.

Happy crunching!


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