Inspiration & Renovations

“embracing what you can do”

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I recently bought my first property – Yay 🙂  – it’s all very exciting. My life is now full of packing, cleaning, moving and renovating. I have blisters from removing what feels like thousands of staples from the hardwood floors following the removal of the old carpets and underlays. Just one of the many jobs to be done. I love the process of transforming things from one state to another so despite the less creative aspect of it all it has been rewarding.
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With all of this going on it is hard to find time and energy to work on crafts projects not to mention most of my crafts tools are packed away. For now I’m having to accept what I can and can’t do and have instead been using my downtime from work and renovating to seek inspiration for future craft projects. So for the next couple of weeks while the renovations are underway I’m aiming to share my inspiration sources. Here are a few to start with:
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(please note I do not own these images or ideas. Follow the links and check out the websites and blogs they originate from for a little inspiration…)
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I’ve enjoyed making a pillow from old tshirts and also a robot toy but what to do if you have lots of tshirts to recycle? There are only so many pillows and toys anyone needs. I love the t’shirt quilt designs from Night Owl especially this version with different sized blocks:

Night Owl tshirt quilt

There is a great selection of quilt designs on the website. Go check them out for some inspiration.
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I love ideas that utilise unusual tools and that are accessible to everyone. Maybe it is just my imagination but I think pom poms are making a bit of a come back of late. I remember making them as a kid using a cardboard doughnut shape which was always a little fiddly. This technique seems far more straight forward and I can’t wait to give it a try:
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fork pom pom by vividplease
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Check out Vivid Please’ blog for more details and instructions.
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As those of you who have been following my blog will know I’m a big kid at heart so when I saw Little Blue Boo’s sprinkles resin pendant I knew I had to add it to the list of things I want to make. I love the colours and fun nature of the design.
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DIY Resin Pendant tutorial by lil blue boo
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Check out Little Blue Boo’s blog for the tutorial.
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uppercase magazine
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When I’m not browsing pinterest or crafty blogs online you can find me kicked back with the latest copy of uppercase with a cup of tea feeding my creative inspiration. The magazine is beautiful and always packed full of articles of truly inspiring crafters from around the world. Well worth checking it out.
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**A little inspiration**
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So I hope that in the absence of sharing my own designs and crafting activities you will enjoy and find inspiration in some of the blogs, ideas, tutorials etc that I’ve shared above and will share in the posts to come over the next few weeks.
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Happy Crafting!
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Conquering Zippers

“about finishing projects and (mostly) conquering zippers”

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skirt front

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Over the years I have found numerous work-arounds or ways of avoiding zippers. If I had no other option I often resorted to hand sewing as I tend to find I can work more slowly and accurately this way.
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Often when working on a sewing project I get such a buzz to see the end result that when using a sewing machine I tend to race through the project with a view to getting to the end result. When it comes to zippers my technique is just hasn’t been there and the results have always been frustrating. Not matching up to the image I have in my head.
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So I figured it was about time I address this and spent some time learning how to finally conquer zippers even if it means sewing zipper after zipper and unpicking the failures until I get there. As a start point I thought I’d turn to the many talented sewers sharing techniques online to see if perhaps I had been missing some crucial knack.
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One post I discovered in my search stood out and I’m excited to try this particular technique. Melissa’s guest post on Keeping it simple titled ‘zippers unzipped‘ outlines a technique that struck a cord in it’s simplicity and in that it addresses a major issue I always encounter of ensuring the zipper is even fitted and sewn.
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I have a skirt that has been sitting there waiting to be finished. Awaiting only a zipper installation to finish. This struck me as the best time to test out this technique and hopefully finish my skirt. I’ve also been wanting to wear the resulting skirt and determinedly avoiding purchasing one instead.
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The time has come to finally conquer zippers head on and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from achieving a goal or two. So an afternoon later and the skirt is done and zippers mostly conquered (a little more practice required for the perfect finish). Here are some photos of the completed skirt:
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skirt front

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skirt front detail

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skirt back

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skirt back detail

 
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Duck Feet Booties – free sewing pattern

“still infant sized … for now … adult sized pattern coming soon”

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prime-in-booties

(Photo – Booties modelled by Optimus in absence of a little person. I’ll post pictures of finished booties on friend’s baby soon.)
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I’ve been wanting to create a pattern in a format that others can hopefully follow for some time now. My mission over the Easter long weekend was to take the knitted duck feet bootie design idea and turn it into a sewing pattern. It has been a super enjoyable process and I really hope you all enjoy the result.
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The pattern is freely available for non-commercial use so have fun crafting. I only ask you follow the sharing instructions I’ve included in the pdf.
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So without further ado you can download the pattern by clicking on the image below:
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duck-feet-booties-pattern

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The fabric I used is a viscose mix I believe as I couldn’t locate felt in a good colour. Felt would work really well though and would make seams much easier to finish nicely.
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As for embellishments, we (myself and friends) felt the booties were good as they were but you could embellish them further. I had initially considered adding stitching to show webbing. I also briefly day dreamed about making felt from scratch to ensure I got the texture and colour just so (something I’ve done before and the texture would be amazing but it does take a lot of time).
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Please let me know your feedback on the pattern and send me pics of what you create.
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Seams, seams and more seams

“Seam finishes without an overlocker – my favorites – tried and tested”

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Many suggest using a zigzag stitch as an alternative to overlocking edges. I have never successfully executed this method and as I don’t own an overlocker (yet) I have as a result developed alternatives that work well for me. Below you will find my favorite alternatives to date.
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Biased edges

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biased-edged-seams

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This technique works well for seams that can afford to be sturdier and also ones that are most likely to be seen, e.g. inside bags, pillow cases etc. I have also used this technique on a skirt design to great effect. Works well even with minimal seam allowance such as in standard commercial patterns and therefore useful. You don’t need to allow extra seam allowance for this option.
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Fold under and zigzag

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fold-under-and-zigzag

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A light weight option that is easily executed and useful for curves. Works well even with minimal seam allowance such as in standard commercial patterns and therefore useful. You don’t need to allow extra seam allowance for this option.
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Folder inwards and zigzag

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fold-inward-and-zigzag

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A super neat option well suited to straight seams. Slightly less ideal for curved joins. Works well even with minimal seam allowance such as in standard commercial patterns and therefore useful. You don’t need to allow extra seam allowance for this option.
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Triple stitched

triple-seam.
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Love this option however does mean that extra stitching is visible and forms part of the garment design. Seams are folded under and then sewn with straight stitch. Ideally requires more seam allowance that usual in pattern design to execute this method. This is the method I used in my  “Easy Pattern Making – from t-shirt to light weight summer top” post.
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Easy Pattern Making

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“from t-shirt to light weight summer top”

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Do you find your t-shirts all end up looking a little too casual and worn in no time. Maybe it is just me. The side seams all end up twisted and however comfy the t-shirt is it just doesn’t cut it in even the most casual of work places. So here is a simple design I came up with. The whole process took me about 3hours and the fabric set me back about AUD$35 and I didn’t even use it all.
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The fantastic fabric was designed by Kaffe Fassett. The fabric design was beautiful on it’s own so I aimed to make a really simple top to showcase it. (Note – Remember to pre-wash your fabric. It’s the worst thing ever to go to the trouble of making something and the first time you wash it – it shrinks!).
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I love wearing my old well worn t-shirt (featured below). The simplicity of the style just works for me so it was a great style to use for this project. I skipped making a block or paper pattern and worked straight from the t-shirt.
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tshirt to top pattern_step 1
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Aside from my trusty sewing machine here are the tools I used:
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tshirt to top pattern_tools
I love the Sew Easy quilt-n-sew ruler (in photo above) for marking seam allowance. It’s super fast. Also great for marking strips for bias tape.
tshirt to top pattern_step 2
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The most time consuming bit of the whole process was cutting out and sewing together strips of fabric for the bias tape. If you’ve never made bais tape from fabric before check out this tutorial for a step-by-step.
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I allowed larger than normal seams as I don’t have an overlocker (yet). My technique is pictured below. It’s neat and tidy. The extra time it takes is worth it for the clean result.
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tshirt to top pattern_inside seam
(photo of seam from inside)
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tshirt to top pattern_outside seam detail
(photo of seam from outside)
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I’ll run through a step-by-step on how I handle seams in another post. Ultimately if you want to use this idea as a DIY project use whatever seam suits you. Just remember to think about it before hand so you leave enough seam allowance when you mark out your design.
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So here is the finished top >
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tshirt to top pattern_finished1tshirt to top pattern_finished2
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I love wearing it. My friends all love it. Would love to hear your feedback.
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