Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Leibster adaptations

I had a lovely compliment last month from Natalie at Sewing Room Secrets, who nominated runcibledays for a Leibster Award. After looking through her beautiful blog I feel very flattered to be on her reading list. 

The only catch is that I had to answer eleven questions, and then pass eleven questions of my own on to eleven other blogs. That sort of challenge could set me procrastinating for years.

I muddled through the questions, though:

  • Sweet or savoury? (sweet, unless the savoury option were cheese, then maybe both)
  • A few really good friends or lots of acquaintances? (a few good friends for a night in, though lots of acquaintances can be nice for an afternoon at the park)
  • City girl or country? (live in the city but love the countryside especially when there are goats)
  • Morning person or night owl? (night owl who likes early nights)
  • What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten? (I can remember the sausage which rendered me vegetarian twenty years ago)
  • What is your earliest memory? (not sure, but I can remember being very excited by cheese on toast at my kindergarten)
  • What is your favourite smell? (my babies, of course, and springtime)
  • What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself? (judging by the above: indecisive, indecisive and indecisive)
  • What qualities do you most treasure in a friend? (tolerance and tea-making skills)
  • How did you choose a name for your blog? (a long story beginning and ending with the Owl and the Pussycat)
  • Is there such a thing as ‘enough’ fabric? ('never')

    This next step might be cheating - but I like to think that it's still in the spirit of the Leibster award and its mission to encourage small blogs.

    Instead of nominating eleven blogs (and asking eleven questions) I'm going to mention just two (but they are both very much worth visiting):


    I met Sandi through the Oliver + S flickr group (before flickr turned to the dark side). She has just released her second pattern, the Little Man Tool Belt (it also works for little girls who want to stash away snail shells and bits of twig from the garden). I was lucky enough to be one of her pattern testers, and can absolutely recommend this pattern. It has lots of clever pockets, no raw edges, and plenty of clever toddler-friendly adaptations (adding a ribbon tab on the zip, for example).

    Amy and I bonded over the Sugar City Frock a few years ago, and since then her online shop and blog have gone from strength to strength. She is a master of clever cutting, and has also recently also released a pattern - a travel game set, which also links up with a binding tutorial on her blog.

    Thank you again, Natalie, 
    and please forgive me for rewriting the rules a little. 

  • Wednesday, 22 May 2013

    A phone-cosy for all seasons

    My phone has a new home.

    I'm much more excited by the case than by the phone inside it. It's taken a lot of experimenting with various gadget cosies and cases, but at last I've happened on a quick and satisfying way to make then whole case (including the lining) in one step, with no seams showing.

    I'm thinking that there are two groups of people who might want a gadget-cosy:

    1 - those who love their gadgets and want to protect them;


    2 -  those who hate their gadgets and want to hide them away.

    That would be everyone. Almost. So I'm sharing photos of the process just in case it saves someone else a few hours of fabric origami.

    And here's what I did...

    (please bear with me on the tedious measuring stages at the start - it's really just one long rectangle - there's no actual maths going on here).

    First I drew around my phone.

    Then I drew a box  about a quarter of an inch outside the phone's outline (I'll talk about 'the box' quite a lot in these instructions, for want of a better description).

    Next, I drew some parallel lines half an inch from the long sides of the box, for seam allowances.

    I measured from the top to the bottom of the box, and added identical rectangles (the same length) above and below, to create one very long rectangle, then added half-inch seam allowance at the top and bottom. In the photo below the dotted lines along the short ends of the rectangle mark the half inch seam allowances. The solid line just below the phone, at the bottom of 'the box', will be where the fabric is folded later, so I'll be calling that the fold line.

    Just in case that sounds too theoretical, this is how it worked out for me:

    My phone was 3" wide, and I added 1/4" each side for the box, plus 1/2" seam allowances = 4.5" width.
    It was 4.5" long, and I added 1/4" above and below for the box, making 5".
    Then I added a 5" long rectangle below, plus 1/2" seam allowance = 5.5".
    And a 5" rectangle above, plus 1/2" seam allowance = 5.5".
    So the final pattern piece was 16" long by 4.5" wide.

    I used my long rectangle to cut a piece of outer fabric and a piece of lining. I chose to use some quite thick outer fabrics in order to provide a bit more protection from accidental bumps: a wool boucle for the kindle, and a thick felt for the phone. The linings were Liberty scraps (I knew they'd come in useful sometime!).

    I also cut an extra piece of lining fabric measuring 2" by 4.5" which I interfaced, folded in half lengthways and stitched along its long edge...

    ... then I turned it right-side-out and pressed it into a tube..

    ... and stitched it to the right side of my outer fabric, about 1" below the fold line.

    That's the end of the preparation, and this is where it gets a bit more interesting.

    I sewed the outer and lining pieces with right sides together along their bottom short edge. I pressed the seam well and under-stitched the lining...

    ...then pressed it again with the wrong sides together and right sides facing out. 

    Here it is: I've turned it over so that the sewn seam is at the top, and the lining is above the outer fabric. It helped to have the paper pattern beside me at this stage:
    I placed the paper pattern beside the fabric, so that the sewn edge was level with the line at the top of 'the box'.

    Then I folded the lining fabric up along the fold line, with its right sides together, so that the raw edge was level with the top of my paper pattern and the wrong side was now facing up (allowing a peek at the wrong side of the outer fabric beneath). I pinned it along the fold line, just as a temporary measure to hold it in place for the next step.

    I flipped the fabric over, so the outer was above the lining, and folded up the outer fabric in exactly the same way: folding up along the fold line, right sides of outer fabric together, upper raw edge aligned with top of paper pattern.

    The sewn edge is now sandwiched between the two layers (though that's hard to show in a photograph).

    And then I stitched along both long sides, pivoting at the top corners to sew about an inch along the short upper edge as well, but leaving a two inch opening at the top for turning through. The stitching lines are just visible in this photo below.

    I trimmed the corners...

    .. and turned it through the gap.

    Ta dah! All of a sudden it looked almost finished.

    I slip-stiched the gap at the top closed, and also hand-stiched the corners in order to taper the flap slightly. I suppose I could have sewn it with slight taper, and might do that next time.

    And it was done.

    The phone slips in nicely and the flap tucks neatly under the band.

    I like the long flap, though of course it would work with a shorter one too. My original gadget-cosy was a case for my kindle, which had a shorter, curved flap and a button closure.

    I'd be tempted to do another like this, even though the bound buttonhole more than doubled the construction time! I used this tutorial for the buttonhole, and have to say that it makes me very happy, so the time invested in it was more than justified.

    I wouldn't recommend the smaller flap for a mobile phone case - the thickness of the fabric means that it doesn't fold over especially neatly, whereas the longer flap flips over beautifully, and the band provides a satisfying splash of colour.

    A case this pretty might even teach me to love my phone...

    Thursday, 2 May 2013

    Making do and mending in space and time

    So, the Sewing Bee is over, and KCWC too. It's time start sewing again instead of just watching other people making things. The only problem is the mending pile. This is the dark side of sewing: it's so practical and useful that it can easily become a bit mundane.

    Which is fine, but not especially relaxing, and not necessarily much fun.

    Although sometimes the repairs can take on a life of their own...

    Recently I've been hearing the term 'home sewing' to describe, well, home sewing, and I  like that way it encompasses what we do, whilst completely bypassing the question of why we do it. It avoids the whole issue of whether 'home sewing' is recreational or functional. Is it a utilitarian life skill, or an artistic endeavour or a self-contained hobby? It doesn't matter - 'home sewing' brings sewing into the same bracket as cooking or DIY: virtuous and necessary, but with the potential for enjoyment and perhaps a bit of quirkiness.

    And it does make me happy when all the facets of home sewing come together in one uber-satisfying Who-themed knee patch.

    Oh, and there's a reason why the boy has holes in his trousers. Here's how the Tardis looked the next day...

    More mending is sure to follow.