Harry Potter Tote Bag

Just a quick one to share the second of 2 successful Christmas presents I made this year (both for my second Christmas with my friends in January). I say ‘successful’ because after making 4 skirts for my sister last Christmas (1, 2, 3, 4) I cut out another Grainline Moss skirt from the leftover red corduroy from the red Delphine skirt but I forgot that last year I sewed it with a reduced seam allowance, so it didn’t fit.

Anyway, back to the successful make…..my friends and I do secret santa each year (though we buy for 2 people and not just one) because one year there were probably around 8 of us (the number changes as partners change and 2 children have been born since the tradition started!) and so all of us buying for everyone else meant a slightly obscene number of presents. Plus we all fly up to Scotland each year now, so anything that reduced the baggage allowance has got to be a good thing! One of the people I drew was the girlfriend of one of the guys in our group, who I had not met yet (though she turned out to be lovely, so that’s good!) so I did what anyone would do in my situation – some facebook stalking!

I discovered that they had been to see a couple of musicals, they’ve travelled quite a bit and then I saw that they had been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and since I had, funnily enough, started re-reading all the books around the time I had to make a present I thought I would make a Harry Potter themed tote bag. Making things for someone you’ve never met is always going to be a bit of a gamble, but I thought a tote bag is always useful even if the design misses the mark.

I’m pretty sure I copied this design from something I saw on Etsy when I was looking for something to buy, before I’d had the thought to make something.

I used my own tutorial, which I wrote quite a long time ago now, for the dimensions of the pieces. I used french seams for strength and used medium weight calico from my local sewing shop. I used a narrow small stitch of zig zag to sew on the glasses and the scar – I looked for some felt in my stash but I didn’t have enough. I could probably have used some jersey, but I came across this cotton first and doubled it so it wouldn’t be see-through.

I reinforced the straps, as I have done with each previous tote I’ve made as I feel like one of the worst things would be for the straps to come off when someone was carrying some heavy shopping home!

This is a pretty quick post, really, as there isn’t much to say about a tote bag!

Have you ever made a present for someone you’ve not yet met? How did it go down? Did you find it as stressful as I did?!

p.s. I’m already on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I only read 2 books the whole of last year, so I’m close to doubling that in January!)

 

 

Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturday  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

(click on the picture for the full post)

One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

P1020362-PS-medium
For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!

Lego-Brick-14a

You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

Scrapbook-3
For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover 😉

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.

P1010059P1010457

If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.

Running-Armband-16

For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

P1010935-PS-medium
If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

Planting-Game-36
Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!

p1010830-ps-mediumP1020690Alice's-Blue-Dress-1

Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!

Save

Make It: Meme Cushion

(*This post contains swearing*)

I love a good internet meme. And this bayeux tapestry one is one of my favourites. I was chatting to my Aunt on the phone a few months ago and I think she might have told me about it – we were talking about other ‘don’t give a fuck’ memes too.

memeWhen she mentioned this meme, I googled it and found someone else had embroidered it on a cushion and thought this was a fantastic idea. I filed it away and planned to make it for my Aunt’s birthday, which is at the end of September. We’ve both had a pretty crappy few months so it seemed even more appropriate by the time I handed it over – a little late, oops!

meme-cushion-1I used the picture at the top as my inspiration and drew a version on paper – an A3 sheet (2 A4 sheets stuck together). I started with the writing – it was quite fun to make sure it didn’t look even or straight! I would not have had the skill to do it neatly! I traced everything onto greaseproof paper, then traced it onto the calico – it’s quite good how you can draw on calico! And because you’re sewing over it, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t all come off.

I like the 2 different kinds of ‘e’ and the random dots at the ends of some words. Also the ‘v’-shaped u’s. I did make one mistake though – can you spot it? (The a in barren doesn’t have the cross part, it’s just an upside-down ‘v’.) I sewed all the letters with really thick embroidery thread from my local sewing shop, using backstitch so the lines were unbroken.

meme-cushion-5I added a simplified version of the house thing in the photo. This is mostly to fill the space above the men! Again I used backstitch.

The men are maybe my finest hour of embroidery – again it’s a good job this wasn’t meant to look amazing! I decided to put just 3 of the men and not all 4 – I thought 4 might be pushing it! I did the outlines in brown embroidery thread – the kind you get with crossstitch kits. I used 2 strands at a time.

meme-cushion-3
I bought 4 different colours of thread – gold, red, green and black. I used the grey mixed with the brown for the cape of the dude on the right. I pretty much copied the colours from the picture as best I could. I slightly with I hadn’t done the 2 bright colours on the same guy on the left. But he does have an excellent moustache, so there’s that.

meme-cushion-7

I just used long stitches to fill in the lines as quickly as possible basically – I don’t know what the stitch is called, though.

meme-cushion-4I asked the advice of my friends when I’ve done all the above about whether to add some soil-type lines and they all agreed yes. And they were definitely right – it looked a bit bare before I added them. This is what it looked like before I sewed the front to the back.

meme-cushion-2I had left the piece of fabric quite big so I had room to change the proportions according to the cushion inner thing. But in the end I made an inner cushion and used toy filling to stuff the cushion. I think I stuffed it a bit full, though, because you can’t really see all of the embroidery unless you squish it a bit.

Here is is all finished!

meme-cushion-8And here is is on my sofa – it took so long to make it look good, it was ridiculous! I’m not great at styling I think – any tips?

meme-cushion-9
My aunt took this photo of it on her chair and made it look sooooo much better! She’s definitely better at styling!

Meme cushionDo you have a favourite meme? If so, please post it in the comments to give me a giggle 🙂 Would you be tempted to embroider it on a cushion? It could be a good Christmas present for someone!

Save

Save

Homemade Christmas Presents

Usually around this time of year (i.e. after Christmas) I start posting about all the homemade gifts I’ve made for people. But this year, for the first time in about 6 years, I haven’t made anyone a present. I found this year that the run-up to Christmas was a bit stressful and it went really quickly – I had only about 4 evenings and 2 weekend days off in the month running up to Christmas! So instead of posting this year’s makes, I thought I would round-up the things I’ve made in previous years. Maybe if I start having ideas now, by next year I’ll have made a couple of things!

I’ll list these from quickest to longest to make (roughly), so you’ll have an idea of what you can complete in time if, like me, you start too late!

You can easily, and quickly, make a bowl out of a vinyl record for someone, like I did with this one for my brother-in-law.

Vinyl Bowl c

Or another idea for a vinyl record is to make it into a clock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tea cup candles are pretty and can be flavoured – I gave mine a chocolate smell! And they’re not as scary to make as you might think!

Tea Cup Candle

You can always make clothes for someone else (and not just for yourself!) as I did with this Grainline Scout Tee for a friend, out of Strawberry fabric – Strawberries are her favourite thing!

Strawberry-Scout-tee-1

A good alternative to clothes is an apron, which you can customise depending on the taste of the person you’re making it for – this one is cake themed for my baking friend.

P1010059

An easy gift for any new babies in your family or friendship group is to applique some baby grows. You could do flowers or trains or other animals, or whatever the kid is into (if they’re old enough to have interests).

P1010830-PS-medium

If you fancy a bit more sewing, you could make a tote bag for someone, using this tutorial, with their favourite thing on – in this case BBC’s Sherlock (who’s excited for New Year’s Day!?).

P1020359-PS-medium

Or, also requiring a bit more sewing, you can make some baby clothes.

Alice's-Blue-Dress-1

If you’re not into sewing, or if you fancy a non-sewn gift, you can make a scrapbook, like this one I made for my dad’s 60th birthday.

Scrapbook-3

If you know how to knit and know someone who likes lego, what better than this knitted lego brick doorstop (with an actual brick inside).

Lego-Brick-14a

Again for the kiddies, maybe for older ones than the baby grows, why not make a cushion or wall hanging with their favourite book or character on?

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Probably the first thing anyone makes when they learn to knit is a scarf, so why not knit one (or more) as gifts?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you’ve got a bit more sewing time, and an older kid than for the cushion or wall hanging, you can make a felt allotment or a (travel) matching game. This both take a while because there’s lots of bits to make (and lots of squares to sew for the matching game!), but you can make then as complicated as you like or have time for.

Planting-Game-36

P1010935-PS-medium

Finally, if you have lots of knitting time (in front of a boxset, perhaps?!), then you could make a rug like this one, which was based on a cushion pattern).

Round, stripy rug

Do you make Christmas presents for people? If so, how early do you start and what have been your favourite makes?

Make It: An idea to make meal planning less arduous!

The Boyfriend and I plan all our meals every 2 weeks, then do a big internet shop twice a month. We used to just buy a bunch of food and then every morning we would have the ‘what are we going to have for dinner’ conversation and it was very boring and meant we had the same few things over and over again. And also that some food went off before we used it. So then we decided to plan the meals so we could buy exactly what we needed and would only have to think about it for an hour every 2 weeks. Recently, though, even this has been feeling like too much of a chore.

So I stole an idea from my sister (thanks Phoebe!). I made a meal planner that we can stick on the wall and will also act as the shopping list!

P1040348(see the little friend we’ve added in the corner!?)

I wrote out each of the meals we make regularly – this used to be a scrappy piece of paper which we’d gradually added new meals to and crossed out ones we’d tried that weren’t good. I bought some coloured record cards so I could colour-code the type of meal – I used yellow for poultry, green for vegetarian, blue for fish and red for meat (meaning sausages, beef and pork).

There are a lot of meat ones! – we do have quite a few meals with sausages, so I think that’s why.

P1040325
Not so many vegetarian ones – we are trying to add to our veggie repertoire as we feel we do eat too much meat. Plus meat is expensive! If anyone has any good veggie recipes, do let me know 🙂

P1040329
Lots of chicken – I say poultry but really I mean chicken!

P1040331
And here are the fish ones – I was surprised there was as many fish ones as fish is reeeeaaaaly expensive, but this does include tins of tuna.

P1040327I bought a cheap cork board from Tiger and used some white record cards I already had to make the days of the week for the 2 weeks. And I pinned an envelope with the flap cut off to the top to store the cards we’re not using.

P1040334
My real stroke of genius, though (if I say so myself) was to write the ingredients needed for each meal on the back of the cards, so we can plan the meals for the 2 weeks……..

P1040338
…….then turn the cards over and you’ve got your shopping list!

P1040342
This makes both planning the meals and then doing the internet shop way less painful! And it cost me under £10.

P1040347