Time has really run away from me just lately and I have just realised that I did not blog about my Secret Valentine Swap experience last month.
So, for those who are unfamiliar, this is a friendly crafting swap, organised by the amazing Sanae and Ute and I understand that this is the fifth year of it taking place.
The idea is that you secretly make a handmade gift for your assigned partner, to be sent out in time for Valentines Day. You will also receive a handmade gift from another partner. Such a lovely idea.
I chose to sew my items, but any craft that you are into is acceptable. Some knit, some paint, some crochet, some wood turn and others have made jewellery, to name but a few. I imagine pretty much every craft has been covered by this exchange.
In order to help you make something for somebody who is essentially a stranger, you answer a couple of short questions regarding your taste and style, and this information will be passed to your partner. You will also be given their social media information so that you can take a little peek to see if this helps you make up your mind on what to make for them. I think the idea is to use bits and pieces that you already have where possible, to try to keep your costs down. Ooh and it is an International event so you may receive or have to send your item abroad.
This is the second year that I have taken part and I loved it so much last year that I couldn’t wait to take part again this time.
They lady who I made for lives in the U.K. I will not link her here, as I have not asked for her permission, but I had a little peek over at her Instagram to see if this would give me any clues as to what she might find useful. I must admit, nothing jumped out at me, so to play it safe I decided to make her a fabric basket, as I have made a couple of these for myself before and I think they are super cute as well as very useful. I knew that her colour preferences were blue ( which is lucky as anybody who knows me will know that I wear lots of blue – therefore meaning I have lots of spare blue fabric), and I made a large quilted basket.
This was pretty quick to make, and I felt like I could do more. So I also decided to make a smaller bag, made up with small patchwork pieces to add to gift her too. Again it is a bag that I have made before and I use it to keep my Clover Wonder Clips in. The bag came together really nicely and I also bought some Wonder Clips for her in case she might like to keep some in her bag too!
Finally I raided my felt stash, and cut several different shades of blue felt into circles to stitch together to make some felt bunting.
I was excited to package it up and send it off to London in time for Valentines Day.
So the gift that I received bowled me over! Again I won’t mention her as I haven’t her permission, but I received the most beautiful Seamwork Almada robe from my lovely partner.
I cannot tell you how beautiful it is. My clever partner has chosen something that I will treasure and truly love wearing. The fabric is super soft and the colours are right up my street. I cannot believe that somebody would make something so lovely for me, and am truly moved by such kindness.
If you are active on Instagram, you might want to take a look at the hashtag #2018sve and check out all the wonderful items that were given and made during this wonderful exchange. I believe that there were 576 participants worldwide this year which is incredible!
I think this is a great way to share your love of craft, with like-minded individuals. Thank you so much to Sanae and Ute for organising such a huge event. It really is fabulous. It is also a great way to make new friends. I now have two new sewing friends (alongside the two new sewing friends that I made with last years swap).
Belated Happy Valentines/Galentines day to you all. Take care, and I’ll be back soon,
At the end of last year I noticed that @ute_ig and @sanaeishida on Instagram were hosting their 4th #2017sve – a wonderful secret Valentine exchange opportunity where you submit your details over to them and they secretly let you have the details of someone to make a handmade item for. I have never taken part in this before but as soon as I saw it I was all over it!
When you receive details of your Valentine swap, it is up to you to try to do a bit of detective work to tailor your gift to their taste. I noticed that my partner enjoyed recipe writing, so decided to make her something that she could use in the kitchen.
The oven glove and pot holders were fairly simple to make, and I was pleased with the outcome. My partner had divulged that she liked blues and grey and simple geometric shapes so although the idea of this swap is that you use fabric and items that you already own, I popped to the local fabric shop as I didn’t really have any fabric at home which met her criteria. I chose 3 coordinating pieces of Gutermann fabric from their ‘ring a roses’ range. I pre-washed these fabrics before sewing as I didn’t want any shrinkage after they were made. You will also need some heat resistant wadding for this project rather than regular wadding.
Before I started, I used one of the fabrics to make my own hand made bias binding. I have written a tutorial on how I did this here
The measurements for this project came from me simply measuring my existing oven glove and pot holders. You can of course adjust the sizes as you wish, but I was happy with the size that I was already using.
To make the Oven Gloves you will need:
2 rectangles of pretty fabric measuring 75cm x 20cm
1 rectangle of heat resistant wadding measuring 75cm x 20cm. I used a brand called Insul-bright
4 squares of contrasting pretty fabric each measuring 20cm x 20cm
2 squares of heat resistant wadding measuring 20cm x 20cm.
bias binding – approx 3 metres
rotary cutter and mat or fabric scissors
small plate or something similar
Clover Wonder Clips or pins
sewing machine and matching thread
a walking foot for your machine is useful due to the thickness of this project
I started with the rectangles first. You will need to ’round off’ the corner points of each of your rectangular fabric pieces and your rectangular wadding piece. To do this simply place a small plate or saucer on each corner and mark the curve and cut to shape! Place one of the rectangular fabric pieces right side down on the table, then place the rectangular wadding on top of that. Finally place the other rectangular fabric piece of the top, right side up. Clip in place using your Clover clips or regular pins.
You will need to machine quilt these layers together. I wanted to keep this simple and just wanted a nice grid of criss cross diamond shapes (there is probably a word for this design in the quilting world that I don’t know about)! So I marked one 45 degree line in the centre of the rectangle in one direction and one 45 degree line in the centre of the rectangle in the other direction. I simply sewed these lines in place on my sewing machine using my walking foot. I then used the L shaped bar attachment that comes with the walking foot as a guide to make sure all my other lines of stitching were equally spaced and parallel. I also think it is a good idea to start in the centre of your project and work outwards.
This was probably the most time consuming part of the whole project, but very rewarding when you are finished and left with beautiful neat rows of stitching.
Next we need to repeat what we have just done with our square pieces of fabric. These will ultimately be the ‘gloves’ of the oven glove. Layer up the squares in the same way as you did for the rectangles. You will have 2 separate squares to quilt this time. Clip or pin them together and use the same plate or saucer to trim 2 of the corners from each square this time – do not round off all 4 corners on these pieces! – just 2 on each square.
Take your square pieces and take them to the sewing machine. Machine quilt in the same way as you did for your rectangular piece.
Next we want to add bias binding to your square pieces along each of the straight edges – i.e the edge between the corner points that you didn’t round off. See pic below for reference. This will be the opening edge of the ‘glove’ of the oven glove that your hand slips through each time you put on your glove.
Open out your bias binding and place the edge of the bias against the edge of the glove piece, right sides together. Pin or clip in place and sew along the crease of the binding.
Fold the bias binding right over to the other side – you may need to trim your seam allowance a little, and clip/pin in place making sure that the edge of the bias binding covers the line of stitching that you have just sewn.
Take them back to the machine and ‘stitch in the ditch’ along the seam you have just sewn. You will be left with a neat line of stitches on the back of the binding. Pictured below you can see the front and back of the bias after stitching. Trim the ends of the bias binding neatly in line with the edge of the glove.
Nearly done now! Place one ‘glove’ piece at each end of the long rectangular piece and pin/clip in place. To make extra sure these stay in place and do not slip it is a good idea to stitch them in place around the edge using a teeny tiny seam allowance.
Finally we need to run the bias binding all around the long edge to ‘seal in’ the remaining raw edges and give it a really lovely professional finish. Attach the bias binding to the edge in exactly the same way as you did before and sew in the crease of the binding all the way around the long edge. Start/finish your stitching on a straight edge rather than at a corner. Don’t worry about the corners, the binding will easily stretch around these curves. Fold it over as you did before and ‘stitch in the ditch’ to secure and you are done! Easy!
To make 2 pot holders you will need:
4 squares of pretty fabric each measuring 20cm x 20cm
2 squares of heat-resistant wadding each measuring 20cm x 20cm. I used a brand called Insul-bright
Bias binding – approx 2.5 metres
Rotary cutter and mat or fabric scissors
Small plate, saucer or something similar
Clover Wonder Clips or pins
Sewing machine and matching thread
A walking foot is useful for your machine due to the thickness of the layers of this project
As mentioned in the oven glove tutorial it is important to pre-wash your fabrics. Also if you are making your own bias binding you may like to do this first. I have a tutorial showing how to make your own continuous bias binding here
Firstly you will need to layer up your 2 pot holders. Each piece should have 1 square of pretty fabric at the bottom with the right side facing down, then on top of that goes the heat resistant wadding, finally on the top the other piece of pretty fabric with the right side facing upwards.
Again just as for the main piece of the oven glove you will need to clip or pin these and round off all four corners using your saucer/plate as a guide. Do this with both pot holders.
Again we will machine quilt this by marking one 45 degree angle in one direction and another 45 degree angle in the opposite direction. Sew along these lines using the walking foot on your machine if you have one and use the L shaped bar attachment that comes with the foot to make sure all further rows are perfectly parallel. It is easier to start in the middle of the squares and work outwards.
After this you are nearly there! If you want to you can stitch around the entire edge of the squares to keep your edges stable. If you choose to do this use the smallest teeny tiny seam allowance as you don’t want your stitches to show after you have edged with the bias tape.
To edge your pot holders with bias binding tape, simply open up the bias tape and place the edge of the tape against the edge of the pot holder with the right sides facing. Pin or clip in place, and simply stitch all the way around keeping in the crease of the bias tape. It is easy to start/finish along a straight edge. Don’t worry about the curved edges, the bias stretch of the tape will easily accommodate these curves.
When you are done, simply fold the bias tape all the way over to the other side – you may want to trim your seam allowances to enable it to lay flat, and pin/clip the bias tape on the other side making sure it covers the row of stitching that you have just sewn.
‘Stitch in the ditch’ all the way around, and there you have it! Couldn’t be easier!
I thoroughly enjoyed making these items for my #2017sve recipient. I do hope that this may have inspired you to have a go too. They are a fairly simple rewarding make and a great gift idea for all sorts of occasions as well as a treat to yourself.
I think you may like to see the beautiful gift that I received as part of this exchange. This pretty bag which has a super practical waterproof lining was made for me by Ann at www.sewwatts.wordpress.com and I love it! Isn’t the floral fabric the cutest? Thank you Ann, you have me down to a tee!
Let me know how you get on, and if you are going to make these!
I’m so pleased to share this make with you all. Such a pretty little fabric basket that could be used for a number of other uses, and as usual with me – fairly quick to make using small pieces of fabric.
You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of fabric. Out of each piece of fabric you will cut 2 rectangles measuring 8″ x 10″
Quilting wadding (batting), or medium to heavy weight interfacing. From this you will cut 2 rectangles measuring 8″ x 10″
Fabric scissors or a rotary cutter and mat
Fabric pen (not essential you could use an ordinary pen or pencil if you are careful).
Needle and thread
Iron and ironing board
Before you start it is always a good idea to iron your fabric. This ensures that your fabric pieces are going to be nice and neat and a perfect size.
Cut out the 2 pieces of fabric which you have chosen to be your outer bag, the 2 pieces of fabric which you have chosen for your lining fabric and the 2 pieces of wadding or interfacing.
To make your quilting stitches neat, you will need to take your 2 pieces of wadding and mark out a diagonal grid pattern. I started by marking this out using a vanishing fabric marker pen, however my lines disappeared more quickly than I wanted so I decided to use a regular pen for this. Take care if you choose this method that your pen lines will not visible through the fabric.
You will also notice that I marked out these lines using an 45 degree angle. Do not just draw them corner to corner as this will result in uneven and wonky diamond shapes when you stitch it. I marked one line first and then used the width of my ruler to make even parallel rows of lines thereafter.
If you are using iron on interfacing, you will not need to do this. Simply iron your interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric pieces which are going to be the outer bag pieces.
Take one of the wadding pieces and place it on top of the wrong side of one of the fabric pieces which will be the outside bag. Pin in place. Repeat for the other wadding piece and outside bag piece.
Take these pieces to your machine and stitch along all of these lines. Take care not to miss any out!
Continuing with these pieces, place them right sides together and stitch around both sides and along the bottom edge (leaving the top edge open). I used a 3/8″ seam allowance. Take care if you are using a directional fabric that you are sewing it the right way up!
Press the seams open as well as you can. This is a bit awkward and I used my tailors ham/sleeve pressing roll for this. Next you need to pinch the bottom corners in order to make your bag stand up nicely. Pinch each bottom corner to make a triangular shape and pin. Measure 1.5″ from the point and draw a line across at this point. Repeat this for the other corner. This is hard to explain, I hope the photographs help you to understand this.
Take to the sewing machine and sew along the lines you have marked. Cut away the excess, leaving a small seam allowance.
Great! Then you can turn the bag right sides out.
To make the lining bag, place the two lining pieces right sides together and sew along both sides and along the bottom edge – but this time leave a gap of approximately 3″ along the bottom edge. This gap should be large enough for you to pull your bag through at the end. Again be careful if your fabric is directional – think about how it will lay when it is made up and which way up it will sit when the lining is rolled over to the outside, and choose what will be your top edge and bottom edge accordingly. If your fabric has no directional print you don’t need to worry about this.
When you have done this you need to pinch both bottom corners just like you did with the outer bag, pin, stitch and trim excess. Again if you can press the seams open at this stage it will look neater when it is finished.
Place the outer bag inside the lining bag. The right sides of each bag should be facing each other. Pin all the way around the top edge and take it to the machine and stitch all the way around this edge.
Turn the bag over and you will see the 3″ gap that you left open when you made the lining bag. Gently turn the bag ‘right side out’ by pulling the outer bag through this hole.
Now it’s time to close the opening in the lining bag. Pin the opening closed and either machine stitch the opening as close to the edge as you can, or hand sew it closed. I chose to machine sew it because I was feeling lazy however this will create a little ‘ridge’ along where you have sewn. It is not particularly noticeable but if you want a neater finish I would suggest you hand sew it using a ladder/slip stitch.
Push the lining bag inside the outer bag now and you’re almost there. Pin all the way around the top edge and machine stitch all around this edge. This will stop your outer or inner bag slipping and looking messy. This is the finishing touch and as well as serving a purpose it really gives the bag a professional finish.
There you go, you’re all done! You can leave it as it is or roll the top over to expose the pretty lining fabric which is what I will do with mine.
I made this basket from 2 fat quarters. There is enough left to make another basket, so if you were using 2 fat quarters maybe you could make one for yourself and one for a friend – after all it doesn’t have to be used for threads only!
Thanks for reading! I would love to know if you are going to have a go at making one of these, and what you are going to use it for.
I ate too much chocolate this Christmas. It’s a fact. This January, therefore, I shall be walking lots and lots. There is nothing better when you come in from the cold outside than a great big cup of steaming hot coffee.
Now that many coffee shops will charge you less for your coffee if you provide your own reusable cup, I reckon we can cut down on paper waste even more by making our own fabric sleeves too! So much prettier than the cardboard version and environmentally friendly too. You will need a sewing machine to make this but it is super simple so is a rewarding project for an experienced sewist, but at the same time very satisfying for a beginner sewist too.
You will need:
Some pretty fabric for the outside and inside of the sleeve
Wadding, fleece, batting or fusing to give the sleeve some padding
Cardboard coffee sleeve to use as a template
Pen, paper and paper scissors
Elastic hair tie
Needle and thread
Point turner or something similar like a knitting needle or chopstick
Before you start you need to make sure that the cardboard coffee sleeve that you have picked up to use as a template fits the cup that you are making it for.
This is a perfect fit. You will then need to peel open the cardboard sleeve and lay it on some paper and draw around it to make a template. I drew around mine and also added a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around. Just to mention that this sleeve had no overlap so I knew that my finished fabric sleeve would meet edge to edge. I prefer this as there is no bulky lump of fabric where it overlaps a little, but if you prefer an overlap go ahead and simply add a little more length when you are cutting out. You can now cut around the line you have drawn using paper scissors.
Now that we have a template we can cut out our fabrics and wadding. Make sure your fabrics are pressed and free from any creases. I pinned and cut out two matching pieces of pretty cotton fabric for the outside and inside of the sleeve. If you prefer you could use a different fabric for the inside piece, making it reversible. As I was using a directional print I was careful to place the template so that it was not upside down! It is also important to flip over the template when you are cutting your second piece so that it is exactly opposite to the first one. I also pinned and cut one piece of wadding from this template.
Time to make a fabric sandwich! Place the wadding on the bottom, then place both pieces of pretty fabric on top of that – the pretty fabrics need to be placed right sides together. Pin this in place.
Before we sew this together we need to insert the button loop (hair tie). Measure how large the loop needs to be by slipping it around the button and either sew a few stitches in it to keep it in place or wrap a thread around it a few times and tie it off. You need to do this or the hair tie won’t stay closed when you are sewing it together and it will look untidy.
In my case, the smaller loop will be the loop which goes around the button. Remove a pin or two from one end of the fabrics which you just pinned together and insert the hair tie with the loop that is needed to go around the button inside the two layers of pretty fabrics. In my case the larger loop that is not needed will be sticking out. Also remember that the stitches where you have kept the hair tie closed together need to lie along the line of your seam allowance. As I am using a 1/4″ seam allowance I was careful to place the threads of my hand stitching on the hair tie 1/4″ in from the edge of the fabric.
Re-pin this edge closed again and we are ready to take it to the machine. In order that we can turn it right side out again when we have finished sewing around the edges I will leave a gap of approx 2″ along the bottom edge of the sleeve.
Simply sew around the edges (leaving a 2″ gap along the bottom edge) using your chosen seam allowance (in my case 1/4″). Back stitch a few stitches at the start and finish so that your seam doesn’t pull open when you are turning it right side out. Stitch slowly when going over the hair tie. You may also like to backstitch over this area for extra strength. Snip all 4 corner points to make it less bulky – don’t clip too close to your stitches though! You can also trim back the hair elastic (not shown on this picture) so that you aren’t left with this bulk inside your sleeve.
Turn the sleeve right side out now. Use your point turner, knitting needle,chopstick or similar to push into the corners to make the points sharp. Take to the ironing board and give it a good press ensuring the raw edges of the opening are turned neatly inside.
Again take to the sewing machine and neatly sew a line of stitching 1/4″ all the way around all four edges. This should catch in the opening that you had at the bottom so that the sleeve is totally enclosed now. If you have quilting skills now is the time to show them and go ahead and make those fancy free motion patterns that I so admire. I, however, do not possess such skills and therefore chose to sew a couple of neat horizontal lines following the curves of the long edges. At this point you will want to give your sleeve another good press.
Place the sleeve around the cup and work out where you need your button placement to be. Hand stitch this in place. That’s it, you’re done! So easy and so so quick.
Do you have a ‘coffeeholic’ in your life that you could make this for? Or would you treat yourself to this? It is a great unisex gift idea – you could really personalise your gift with fabric relevant to the recipient, maybe it could be a little extra present to give along with a coffee gift card?
If you were wondering, the coffee cup here is from www.lauraashley.com (a couple of years back), and the pretty fabric used was from a fat quarter bundle purchased from www.hobbycraft.co.uk a couple of months ago.
I do hope you have enjoyed this quick tutorial. As always I would love to hear if you have made one of these.
Wishing you all a very happy new year, stay warm and enjoy your coffee!
Now that November is here it really is feeling cold outside. Last weekend after watching my youngest son play football on a very cold field in Leicester, I couldn’t feel my fingers and decided to do something about it.
These cute hand warmers are super quick and simple to make, and use very little fabric so are great for using up those little scraps of fabric we all have lying around. They heat up in the microwave in no time at all so are perfect to grab on your way out in the cold.
For each pair of hand warmers you will need 4 squares of fabric. I cut mine 4″ x 4″ Any fabric that you have will do but snuggle or flannel would be extra cosy
Sewing Machine and thread
Funnel or a tube made from paper
Point turner or something similar (knitting needle/chop stick) for nice sharp corners when turning the right side out
Start by cutting your fabric into squares. I used a rotary cutter and mat but if you don’t have this just carefully mark out your square on the reverse side of the fabric and cut out. For each pair of hand warmers you will need 4 squares.
Take 2 of the squares and pin them together with the right sides of the fabric facing together.
Take this to your sewing machine and stitch around 4 sides remembering to leave a gap on one of the sides of about 1.5″ so that you can turn it through to the right side. I used a seam allowance of about 1/4″ Make sure that you backstitch a couple of stitches at the opening that you have made so that it is nice and strong and your stitches won’t rip.
Snip all 4 corners diagonally. Not too close to the stitching.
Turn your bag the right side out now. Gently push the corners out so that they are nice and sharp – you can use a point turner for this or if you don’t have one you could use a knitting needle, chopstick, or something similar. I like to give it a press with the iron too as this helps when you are closing up the opening later.
Now it’s time to fill with rice. I would suggest to fill it about 3/4 full. I used a little funnel that I had already but you could use a funnel that you have made yourself using rolled up paper.
Time to close the opening now. I decided to hand sew mine closed using ladder stitch (slip stitch). I know this takes a little more effort and time but I love the invisible finish it gives and I think it looks much neater. You can of course use your machine to close up your bag, simply sew your edges together as close to the edge as you can. Take care not to catch any of the rice grains as you go as they may snap your needle!
There you have it! To warm them up just pop them into your microwave for 30-45 seconds and you’re good to go! I love how easy and quick these are to make, it’s difficult to stop at just one pair. Perhaps you could add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil to your rice? You could also make them up in larger sizes and use them for your neck or feet.
If you want to use them as a cool bag simply place inside a freezer safe ziplock bag and freeze.
They are a great unisex gift idea maybe for a teacher or a dog walker, neighbour, friend or just to slip in your childs pocket on the way to school.
I hope you like these sweet little hand warmers. Let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Have you made or received some hand warmers like these?
Autumn is well and truly here now, and whilst it is sad to see the end of Summer the beautiful display of glorious colours outside inspired me to create something to reflect such an amazing Season. I think Autumn is far to pretty to be left outdoors don’t you think? Let’s bring a little bit of it inside..
I love a nice garland, and this one is just so quick and easy to make. I whipped this up in a morning, accompanied by a cinnamon candle and a hot chocolate It really was a rewarding little project and a good stress buster too!
Autumn coloured felt pieces – the heavier weight the better.
Leaf Templates – search the internet or sketch your own!
Neutral coloured thread.
Sewing Machine – this is optional, you can string your leaves together by hand if you prefer.
I decided to make templates for about 4 or 5 different leaf styles/sizes, I also made up an acorn template and for good measure some small circles with my leftovers representing berries. My leaf sizes ranged from 2.5″ – 4″ but you can choose whatever sizes you like.
As the finished garland will be made with a chain of thread which could move about and be visible from both sides I decided to make the acorns with a neat felt ‘cap’ which would be pretty whichever side is showing. So before I got around to making up the garland I decided to encase the acorn ‘nut’ with 2 ‘cap’ pieces, and machine stitch them securely.
So once you have all your leaves, berries and acorns cut out and prepared it is time for the fun bit! Simply run them through the sewing machine in a random order one after another forming a long chain. I used a long length stitch setting as this make the ‘vein’ of the leaf look better and also made the garland come together quicker too.
In no time at all you will end up with a long length of pretty garland which you can either keep in one length, or snip to whatever lengths you like! So quick and easy. I have decided to decorate my staircase, but they would look amazing hanging vertically at a window, or draped around a plant. I think they would pretty decorating a bed headboard too. The possibilities are endless!
Although I cut my leaf shapes by hand, I’m pretty sure it would be possible to purchase pre-cut shapes if you prefer, or use a die cutting machine.
I left my garland pretty simple, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t embroider your leaves, or machine stitch more detail onto each leaf. If you are including the children in this activity then they could draw ‘veins’ on each leaf with a Sharpie. I also think layering different sizes and colours on top of each other would be stunning too.
I hope you love these garlands as much as I do, and are inspired to create your own! You can cut your felt to whatever shape and size you like. A string of pumpkins would be cute. Maybe Christmas trees or snowmen would be a great idea for the Christmas season – the possibilities are endless. You also do not need to have access to a sewing machine for this project, you could just as easily hand sew them using a running stitch using a sturdy thread.
Oh and finally, a word of warning – they do tangle easily if you’re not careful so I would recommend to store them you should wrap carefully around a large flat piece of cardboard, or use the cardboard tube found inside some rolls of wrapping paper.
Happy Autumn everyone, do let me know how you get on! Be back soon xx