My first commission (sort of!)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues sidled up to me and asked if I would be able to sew something for a surprise party she was organising to celebrate the CEO working at the company for 20 years. The idea was to do a sort of raffle, but where all the names in the hat are the CEO because every team bought him a silly gift. So they wanted something to keep the gifts in, which is where I come in!

bag-for-work-2I made a sack! Like a Santa’s sack but in company colours instead of Christmas colours. I bought 1.5m of purple fabric from my local shop – it’s quite a sturdy cotton twill. And it matches the branding shade of purple pretty closely. I measured that the sack should be about 70cm x 85cm, with the writing (on the other side of the above photo) taking up 30cm x 50cm. I made a photoshop document of 30cm x 50cm, typed the writing and made it as big (in Tahoma font) as it would go, which was size 180pt.

bag-for-work-5I printed the letters, cut them out then cut 2 of each one out of the white fabric left over from my Quiet Books (1 & 2). I cut them out twice because I was worried a single layer wouldn’t be thick enough, and the letters wouldn’t look totally white. I zigzagged around the edge of each letter to help it not to fray. It took ages! There are 27 letters altogether!

bag-for-work-1

Another part of the branding/logo for my work is an ear of corn, so I used the leftover fabric from my Mustard Victoria Blazer and Astoria to applique it on. I drew the shape onto paper, then used that as a pattern. Because it’s a knit, I used a straight stitch rather than a zigzag to sew it on.

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I originally wasn’t going to make a gusset, but when I measured the fabric, it was about 30cm too long (folded in half) for the height I roughly wanted. So I measured 25cm from the ‘bottom’ (the fold was down one side), then cut off the 25 cm from both sides. I have one of these left as I only needed one for the gusset. I used my own tutorial from my tote bag post to put the gusset in because I forgot how to do it! And I used all french seams, to make it a bit stronger. I did cut through the fold on the side and sew the seam again, to make it uniform, but if you’re in more of a hurry, you could use the fold as either the bottom or one of the sides.

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The final thing to do was to sew a channel at the top for the drawstring – which is where the extra 5cm from the height comes in. I folded the top down by 1.5cm and stitched it, then folded it by another 3.5cm and stitched it again, as far away from the top of the bag as possible, to leave a channel for the ‘string’. You can leave a gap in this final line of stitching to get the drawstring in, but I decided to unpick the side seam a little (making sure the stitching lines were secured and unlikely to undo), so the drawstring wouldn’t pull the top of the bag inside out.

The CEO really liked the bag, and the fake raffle thing worked really well! Also, we were all convinced he knew about the party but he really didn’t which was pretty cool! I’ve called this my (sort of) first commission because I got the money for the purple fabric back, but I didn’t get paid for my time. I guess because it was for my day job, it was a slightly awkward situation. I did mentally add up how long it took me to make, and it was 9 hours – it took ages to cut out and stitch all the letters! If I was paid minimum wage for those hours, I would have earned £65 but all I got was the £8 for the cost of the purple fabric – I didn’t get money back for the fabrics and drawstring I already had in my stash. I did sort of mention that I should charge for my time, but then I chickened out. How do you justify your worth for work done? It’s not like I would do my admin paid work at home in my spare time, but I found it hard to charge for something I do for a hobby.

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Round Cushion

When I first got back into knitting a couple of years ago, I tried to make as many Christmas presents as possible. Since I had no life that Winter, I managed to make 2 scarves (which you can see here) and 2 cushions, both of which were stripy and used mostly the same wool (partly to save money) but with one or two differences (you can see the other cushion here). This round cushion was for my friend Chloe as she likes red circles. I won’t type out the entire pattern as you can find it here and I’m pretty sure it would be a breach of copyright or something.

When I was knitting the back of this cushion, I seemed to forget how to do purling so the back was done in garter stitch and not stocking stitch as it was meant to be.

Round-Cushion-1-PS-medium

The lovely fat cushion!

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The back, with a big red button in the middle.

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Tip: I used this pattern again to make a rug for my sister and since they hole in the middle of each side of the cushion was quite big, instead of casting on 14 stitches, I cast on 8 stitches and did the first row twice to get up to the right number of stitches.

Tip 2: I waited until I had made both sides of the cushion until I ordered the cushion pad to go inside it as I seem to never be able to knit to the size patterns expect me to and I’m too lazy to check my tension so the cushion might be bigger or smaller than you expect it to be.

Make It: Vinyl Record Bowl

I’ve seen on loads of TV programmes and blogs the idea of making a bowl out of a vinyl record so I thought I would give it a go as a Christmas present for my brother-in-law who is very into music, as I thought he could keep all his plecs and assorted music stuff in it.

I spent ages trawling through all of the records in my local charity shops (of which there are many!) but in the end I found a record with a blank white middle, as I couldn’t find anything that was suitable for the kind of music he likes.

Once you’ve found your record, you just put it in the oven at 100 Celsius or about 215 Fahrenheit. You have to put a bowl upside down on a baking tray (to make it easier to get out) and put the record on top of that. Once the record starts to sag, take it out and then you can mold it into the shape you would like. I tried several things to help me mold the bowl including a too small pyrex dish, a large tumbler (to give it more height), the outside of our colander and finally the inside of our colander:

Vinyl Bowl a

I must have put the bowl in and out of the oven about 20 times until I got it right. I gave up trying to mold it around the outside of something so instead pushed it into the colander, which gave me the best shape (after a couple of tries). The beauty of this craft is you can heat it 100 times until you get it right, it’s not done until you’re happy with it.

Vinyl Bowl b

Vinyl Bowl c