Tuesday, 17 January 2017

This and that

And again it has been two weeks since I last wrote here, sorry about that. The kids had a full two and half week Christmas holiday of which we were away one and half. It was a great holiday even though I didn't have much time for sewing, or at least for blogging. I know, the whole December was silent too.

I have been reading all the blogs with all those Christmas crafts published almost daily and I had so many ideas too but simply didn't find any time to blog about them! I had this ambitious idea to make all the presents for relatives and friends myself. So I did. I also made some worry eaters for local Christmas sales. So what did I sew? For me it feels like I didn't do anything much but this is what I made:

12 worry eaters
9 multipurpose scarves
1 bag
2 table runners
5 pairs of gloves
some Christmas ornaments

So... actually. I did do something. The bag and gloves were upcycled and I will have own post about making the bag later. Then I took part for the great 12 days of Christmas DIY challenge. I had plans for all of them but simply couldn't find time to make them all. Everything I made you can find here. Then I had promised to take part in Finnish craft bloggers' advent calendar. For that I made Christmas ornaments. I like the challenges and other "get togethers" so much that I usually can't resist them even I know I probably shouldn't. But the community is what is the best part of blogging!

I felt that I didn't do much because I simply didn't have energy to do anything. Sewing has never been harder than it was in December. It felt like I had to force myself to do something and didn't have the usual inspiration or motivation, just did what I had planned before hand. It is this dark winter that gets me, the missing sun light causing depression is a real problem. Calling my tiredness a depression would be underestimating all of those who are diagnosed as depressed but being tired all the time isn't fun anyway.

Together with all the dark (only 5-6 hours of day light) I had some kind of insomnia too. I was tired and couldn't do everything I wanted to so I woke up during the night around 2-3am, was awake for couple hours thinking everything I should be doing and getting more and more anxious because I knew that I still can't do anything if I don't fall asleep right now. Which I of course didn't. Sometimes it even happened that I woke up around 3am, was awake till 5am and when I was just about to fall asleep our daughter came to continue sleeping next to me and woke up after 6am. An hour that I didn't sleep at all so there were the days that I had actually woken up at 3am. That continued for few weeks and I'm still trying to catch up with all the sleep deprivation. I'm better now that the Christmas is behind, nothing obligatory to make and I can actually sleep through the night. Also the day is getting longer every day.

We also had our daughter's birthday, she turned 6. Finally, if you ask her. She is born in December so she will always be one of the last ones to have a birthday and is probably youngest one on her class. She is still a huge Frozen fan so the cake looked like this:

We also had some self-made decorations, some made by me like this:

Branches that were spray-painted grey, heart-wire-thingie and led lights. Easy, super fast and looks great!

Also a candle holder made by the birthday hero herself:

She made this at the preschool and was very proud when we had it in middle of our dinner table. Our kids like crafting, daughter more than the son though, but I usually don't give them strict guide lines to follow. They are more creative when they can think themselves rather than copy from me and the result is usually better than whatever I had in my mind! They are better thinking out of the box than adults and I like to encourage to that. They are already grown used to think what all the odd pieces of this and that could be used for. But sometimes following the guide lines is good too, you learn new techniques for example and after making this my daughter has been suggesting making more of these with different pictures. She also gave me full explanation how to make one.

For the Christmas we went to my "in laws" and there we had very traditional Christmas dinner table:


Potatoes, meet stew, turnip casserole, carrot casserole, meatballs (mainly for the kids' sake), smoked salmon, cold smoked salmon, grave salmon, rosolli salad (beetroot, apple, onion, sour cream, not my favourite), pasta salad with mayonnaise and of course the ham that is missing from this picture.

I don't think anyone was hungry after this even though I think that the whole Christmas dinner tradition should be updated to the 21st century. This is pretty much the menu from the 19th century, just the pasta salad and the different salmons are "new".

And the presents.... Oh my. The adults only got a present or two but the kids! Our two kids, their 8-year old cousin and baby cousin and the Christmas tree looked like this:

And that's not even all! The Santa Claus visited us in the evening and brought some more. With the daughter's birthday in December, the Christmas and our son's birthday in the beginning of March we could easily go through the whole year without buying any new toys. The Lego's were the favourite thing this year; both got three new Lego-packages (and of course other presents too). Our son has been wishing for Lego Prison Island ever since Lego announced it, I think it was in the beginning of last year and he got his wish granted. Oh my with all the screaming! He simply didn't need any other Christmas gifts after that. Later he got Lego Crooks' island and Fire rescue helicopter (the Santa Claus had missed couple packages and we got those after coming home). Our daughter got Lego Ariel's palace, Frozen ice castle and Lego Friends camping package. Most of our Christmas was spend building those! Mostly the kids did the building themselves, they have become very good at following the instructions and rarely need help. The only problem is that they don't realize themselves when they become too tired and would need a break. Can you imagine all the protest and objections that were caused by asking them to stop building and go outside? But out they went and the building could continue after that.

Our son especially is a huge Lego fan. He sleeps with a Lego catalog in his bed and always with some Lego parts too. He likes to look at the Lego pictures and build something small with the parts before falling asleep. If that's his way to calm down and catch the sleep, I'm fine with it. He also likes to save some keepsakes from places he has visited etc. and the package of Lego Prison Island simply couldn't be thrown away! I didn't want the package on our floors so we ended up with a compromise:

The pictures were cut out of the package and hanged to the wall. Perfect solution, now he has un-crinkled picture of his favourite Lego package to look at over his bed. He was so happy that when we hanged the pictures, he wanted to have a picture taken and also be in the picture himself. He usually doesn't like to be photoed...

When we visited my relatives in my home village, the Legos were there too. And how can you go to bed yourself if you don't put your Lego figures to their beds too?

At the New Years Eve we were at home, had some small fireworks, the kids were allowed to stay up as long as they wanted (they went to bed just before midnight, quite well for kids at the age of 5 and 6) and made good food. For the adults home made kebab with garlic sauce, salsa, rice and salad:

I had also made garlic baguette. The kids don't like kebab, too peppery for their taste so I made chicken nuggets for them with regular baguette.

Now the holidays are over and everything is back to normal again. I have been making some repairing rather than sewing anything new, except these slippers for our daughter:

Or are they called slippers? Sneakers? She likes to use these at the school because they aren't slippery like socks and also her socks won't get wet in the hallway so easily or too cold as the floors are always quite cool in big buildings like school. Pattern is my own, very easy to make. The bottom is leather (suede I think it is called), doesn't slip at all and is soft.

My sewing room has also suffered some kind of explosion with all the cleaning around the house. My room is for some reason to stuff everything that doesn't find place at that moment. I'm trying to make a place to enjoy sewing and crafting again. I noticed that I had collected quite a pile of broken bags:

After they were stripped down this is what was left out of them:

Everything else I threw away, the fabrics were in bad condition or otherwise un-usable but all these parts are a real treasure!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

New Year's resolution

There is only couple days left of this year so it is the time to look back, or rather forward with some resolutions. I usually don't make resolutions, not the usual "this year I will clean more" or "I will seriously start jogging and keep it up the whole year". I think we all know how those usually end... At least I have never been good at keeping them and don't know anyone who has. If you know, please tell me too. :D

I also like to look forward rather than back. Of course sometimes it is good to take a look back and see what we can learn, else it's useless. And as I'm writing it here, the resolution has everything to do with blogging. My blog is new, it isn't even a full year old so year 2016 has all been learning new and still is. Looking forward is pretty much the thing with this blog.
So what's the resolution then? Definitely it isn't "I will blog on regular bases, at least twice a week on certain days, post new tutorial every week and patterns every other week, take amazing photos and write long posts with SEO in mind". Would be enough to drive anyone running a diy blog crazy.

My new year's resolution is to go back to basics - to where everything started. I started this blog to have fun, to show what I have made, to meet and connect other bloggers, to share tips how to re-use old textiles.

Yes, forget the numbers. This is what it means:

  • Google analytics: I have had it set up from day 1, I wanted to know if anyone reads this blog and of course how the numbers would grow. I used to check it daily. Especially when I had done something to boost the numbers. How about forget it? Let it be, check every now and then and that's it. Much more room to breath when you can focus on writing the blog instead of the page views. I'm pretty sure the numbers will grow if you are good at what you are doing and if you are having fun with doing it.
  • Pinterest: If you are serious blogger and want to get as many hits from Pinterest as possible you pin daily, you pin day and night because people might be browsing on different time zones or just different time of the day. As serious blogger you are there visible all the time, else you are invisible. I think that sounds familiar to anyone who has been looking for getting more page views for their blog. But seriously, who has the time and energy to browse Pinterest all the time? Even with some program to schedule your pins you still need to use time for browsing. Forget how many pins you have made, how many times a day you visit Pinterest. Just browse when you feel like it and pin when you find something worth of pinning. Use the remaining time to be with your family.
  •  Blog posts: Again, we all have read at least one post about posting regularly, if possible as a new blogger once a day, if not, then at least every other day or, the very least, twice a week. Anything less and you won't be successful. Write a post of at least 2000 words, count your key words, make sure there is enough of them and they get the best scores in search results etc. How about make one good blog post instead of five mediocre, use normal language with good spelling, keeping in mind what you are writing about and to who you are writing to? Connect with other bloggers instead, forget the numbers, concentrate on quality!
When I started I read all those and much more and thought I should do that too if I'm to be taken as a real blogger. Not really because I would be monetizing this as soon as possible but because I usually want to make things properly. Quite soon it became obvious that those advises just won't work with a diy blog. You simply run out of time and energy sooner or later when you aren't using the time for the thing that drove you to start the blog - creating something new! Any other diy bloggers know what I'm talking about and that's really all that matters. I define myself as "real" blogger and that should be enough to anyone.

I have a long list of link up parties I would like to attend and I tried to attend all of them for a while but that just won't work. Some of them are on different time zone and even if I would attend them as soon as I open my eyes on the morning, I would be 400th something and would go quite unnoticed. I would never have time to browse through those 400-500 pics and find the ones I would like to comment. Just not worth of my time, I will keep the ones that are bit smaller and more fitting to my own schedule and even with those, only participate when I truly have something new to add and, the most important, when I'm absolutely sure that I will have time to go and comment other posts in that particular party. That's how I have met some great bloggers, I intend to keep it that way. Again, not the numbers, but the quality!

What is the shirt in the picture with my resolution? That's a shirt I made for my son for Christmas. My daughter had her preschool's Christmas festival and he needed new shirt. (Other options were to go as a knight or in a princess dress, I would have let him go in a princess dress but the world, or Finland, just isn't ready yet, not even if the boy in question is four years old and wants the dress because his biggest idol, his older sister, wears them and feels it is greatly unfair that he can't.) I had only one evening to make it and I knew I could make it if, and that's a very big IF, everything would go as planned. Do you know what? For once the moon was in the right position or the stars collided with each other in the right angle, I don't know, but everything did go as planned. The sewing machine was co-operative, I didn't make any stupid mistakes, no electricity black outs, nothing. I just made the shirt. That's what the blogging is at it's best; just focus on the making it, enjoy it and the result is just as planned!

Thank you for everyone who have been visiting my blog, saving my pins, liking my pictures in IG and Facebook and especially, commenting my blog posts! I have plenty of ideas and something ready that I will show to you when I have the time after the holidays. For now I wish you all happy, and more relaxed, New Year! Hope to see you next year too!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Three upcycled heart ornaments

One heart template - three different heart ornaments for Christmas, upcycled of course! These three ornaments are easy and fast to do, as well as easily modified. Using the same ideas you can make decorations for almost any occasion just by changing the template and the colours.

*This blog post is also part of an advent calendar by Finnish crafting blogs so the text will be in both languages.*

Tervetuloa Käsityöblogien joulukalenterin luukkuun nro 14! Tein kolme erilaista sydänkoristetta jouluksi käyttämällä kaikissa samaa sydänmuotoa. Nämä toki kierrätysmateriaalista. Näitä on helppo  ja nopea tehdä, ja ovatpa vielä helposti muokattavissakin. Samalla idealla saa ihan erilaisia koristeita kun vain vaihtaa kuviota ja värejä.

Best fabric for these is something that is a bit thicker, felt would be the best but I don't see any reason why you couldn't make these with denim or leather for example! Just as long as the fabric isn't elastic or very thin. I used old woolen jacket that I found from a recycling center. The jacket was from those days when the clothes were good quality and produced somewhere near. This jacket was actually made in Finland and the fabric was mainly wool, only few percents polyamid. Fabric was good, model was outdated, good for making some Christmas decorations!

Näihin koristeisiin sopii parhaiten kankaaksi jokin paksumpi, huopa on toki paras vaihtoehto, mutta käy muukin toki, esim. farkku tai nahka suorastaan erinomaisesti! Pääasia, että kangas ei ole kovin joustavaa tai ohutta. Minä käytin näihin kierrätyspisteestä löytämääni villaista jakkua. Jakku oli vanha, Suomessa valmistettu ja laadukkaan oloista kangasta. Malli oli kuitenkin jo vanha ja tuskin sille muutakaan käyttöä olisi ollut. Kangas oli suurimmaksi osaksi villaa, jokunen prosentti polyamidia.

For the first one you need three red hearts and 6 white hearts, lace or something similar. Pin lace on both sides of the red hearts. Sew in middle and when starting remember to leave long tails as those are used to hang the ornament. After sewing over the first heart, don't stop but continue sewing pulling the heart gently back, add the second heart, sew over and again on top of nothing for desired length and add the last one. Again, leave long tails. *Please note that if you are using new electric sewing machine, sewing without fabric isn't necessarily good idea. Use for example tearable paper instead. Old mechanic sewing machines should be fine.*

Ensimmäiseen koristeeseen tarvitset kolme punaista sydäntä ja 6 valkoista, pienempää sydäntä pitsistä tms. Neulaa valkoiset sydämet molemmin puolin punaisia sydämiä. Ompele suoraan keskeltä ylhäältä alas varmistaen, että takana oleva pitsisydän pysyy paikoillaan. Aloittaessasi varmista, että jätät aloituslangat pitkiksi, niitä voi käyttää koristeen ripustamiseen. Ommeltuasi ensimmäisen sydämen, älä lopeta vaan jatka ompelua tyhjän päällä vetäen ensimmäistä sydäntä varovasti, lisää toinen sydän, ompele taas tyhjän päällä halutun matkaa ja lisää viimeinen. Jätä lopuksi pitkät langat.
*Huom. Uusilla elektronisilla koneilla kannattaa olla varovainen tyhjän päällä ompelun kanssa. Käytä vaikka pois revittävää paperia alla. Vanhoilla mekaanisilla ei pitäisi olla ongelmaa.*

Fasten two beads after the last heart. Pull the needle through both and pull back only through the bigger one. Make a knot and pull again through the bigger one, cut the thread. First one ready!

Kiinnitä lopuksi kaksi helmeä, yksi isompi ja yksi pienempi. Pujota neula ensin molempien läpi, sitten takaisin ainoastaan isomman läpi. Tee solmu ja pujota jälleen isomman läpi, katkaise lanka. Ensimmäinen valmis!

For the second one you need four red hearts. Start by sewing together in the middle first two.

Toiseen tarvitset neljä sydäntä. Aloita ompelemalla kaksi yhteen keskeltä.

Fold the heart so that the stitches are hidden.

Taita sydän niin, että ommel jää piiloon.

Add two more hearts, one on top, one on the bottom. Sew in the middle.

Lisää kaksi sydäntä, toinen alle, toinen päälle. Ompele keskeltä.

Fasten the hanging thread.

Kiinnitä ripustusnaru.

For the last one you need two red hearts, one piece of filling and a ribbon. Sandwich the pieces together, leaving the ribbon between the layers.

Viimeiseen tarvitset kaksi punaista sydäntä ja palan täytettä sekä nauhan. Yhdistä kappaleet päällekkäin jättäen nauhan kerrosten väliin.

Sew around and you are done.

Ompele ympäriltä ja olet valmis!

Käy katsomassa muutkin kalenterin luukut Käsityöblogit ryhmästä! Eilisen luukun löydät blogista Jotain uutta, vanhaa, käsintehtyä ja kaunista ja huomisen luukun blogista Söpölandia.Mukavaa joulun odotusta!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Outdoor Christmas decoration

I combined two days for 12 days of Christmas DIY challenges. Day #5 was to make something you find from your shed and day #7 was to use something from your garden.

First something from the shed:

Plastic flower pot from the summer and piece of chicken wire. 

Cut the wire to desired size, preferably something a bit bigger than the pot.

Fold the wire so that it fits inside the pot. It is supposed to stand in the pot and come close to the top edge of the pot. I left couple centimetres from the the top edge.

Then something from the garden:

Different twigs and some cones. If you are working with the twigs inside, be fast especially if the temparature is low outside. If the twigs are frozen and they melt, they will drop all they needles much faster than if they stay cold through the process.

Start adding the twigs and cones to the pot, add the cones and you are done!

Superfast to make, you can use any pot you happen to find and make easily many different variations. And if you like, you can add some decorations too. I just happen to like "plain" style. 

Maybe I will add some outdoor lights on it before hanging it to our front door though. Otherwise no one will be seeing it much as we have sunshine only about 7 hours at this moment and it keeps getting darker for a while.

Good thing I saved the hanging flower pot, now I have my own hanging outdoor Christmas decoration!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Gift bags out of fabric scraps

Have you ever thought of making gift wrapping out of fabric instead of the paper? I hadn't so the challenge #6 in #12DaysofChristmasDIYChallenges was very welcome! I have fabric more than enough, plenty of material to use!

The challenge is set up by the following bloggers:

Jill @ Creating my way to Success
Vicky @ Vicky Myers Creations
Anna @ Tea and a Sewing Machine
Pam @ Threading My Way
Anne @ Domesblissity

I like to use gift bags when wrapping the presents, especially for grown up gifts. The shape of the present doesn't matter, just find suitable gift bag and you are done. Also, they are re-usable unlike the gift paper. The only person I know who has saved the gift papers was my grandma. She collected all the bigger pieces on Christmas eves and took them to the attic. I don't remember if she used them later on though. Anyway, I keep all the gift bags that come to our household, I have a nice pile of them and I don't remember when I last time actually bought a gift bag!

Of course they aren't always suitable so I have made some gift bags out of gift paper too and I also have couple rolls of tapestry (for the doll house but it might not need all of it...) that I have used. For example I made one for the baby gifts recently.

It is only natural that my answer to this challenge is gift bags out of scrap fabrics!

You need just some fabrics and thread, ribbon or something like it.

The red one is from my dad, it is very thick, probably meant for furniture some 20 years ago, green was left over from making advent calendars couple years back and the grey is from making a dress to my friend over 5 years ago. Some ribbon and woollen yarn.

And I just realised that I actually remember where my scrap fabric is from, should I be worried...?

Sewing is simple and nothing new there but here is a short tutorial just in case.

Cut rectangular parts on fold (becomes the bottom), longer than what they are wide. The longer they are, the deeper is the bag, naturally. Sew the sides, box the corners (optional).

Sew the thread/yarn/ribbon on the wrong side of the bag top. I used narrow zig zag so they would actually stay on. I folded the yarn double to prevent it from getting loose.

Sew the top. Leave the handles under the seam, fold over it and stitch over.

Done! So easy that there really is no excuse to buy any if you have suitable fabric on hand. Then you can just hope that the bag is actually saved and re-used. Maybe add a small tag asking to re-use the bag wouldn't be a bad idea?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Christmas cookies out of play dough

Day 3 in 12 Days of Christmas DIY Challenges was to bake something you have in your house already. I usually have basic ingredients in my kitchen but now I seemed to be missing all the key ingredients so this challenge really needed some thinking.

On Friday I was at home with my son, my daughter was in her pre-school and he was feeling a bit bored when his playmate wasn't at home. I thought that baking would be good thing to do but what to make when there is almost nothing in the kitchen?

Play dough of course! Or salty dough, magic dough whatever you call it. That definetely needs only the basic ingredients.

Here are the ingredients you need; flour, salt, some oil. Also you need water and can add any colouring you wish. If you have food colours, that's fine but also blueberry and cocoa work fine. Only note that those come with the smell and if baking with small kids they might eat the products. Though usually not twice, the dough has so much salt that it doesn't exactly encourage eating. Also, there is nothing poisonous in it so no harm done anyway.

The recipe is simple:

1 part of water
1 part of salt
2 parts of flour

Mix water salt and flour, add colours. If you use food colours, it is easier to add in the water but the cocoa goes well with the flour. I had some food colours and used those. For a while I was a bit afraid that it wouldn't work as I had to mix the brown and the dough was first green,then violet but then I found the right amounts and made perfect brown. The "problem" was that there wasn't enough salt to make more and I actually wanted brown cookies for the challenge.

The dough can be worked with any kitchen tools you have as it is made with completely edible things.

Doesn't it look just like christmas cookie dough?

Of course you can make anything out of the dough; beads, baskets, play food etc. We made the cookies:

The dough can be used again if you don't let it to dry but we wanted to harden them. I was heating the house with our wood stove in the kitchen, I left them there to dry but the dough also drys and hardens in just room temperature, it just takes couple days depending on the thickness of your products. You can also harden them in the oven; 125 degrees Celsius, an hour or more.

Even on hot stove they took time to dry and even on the next morning they looked like this:

It seems that they didn't dry properly but they are hard enough to play with. I should have just used the oven... Now that they are dry and hard they can be painted with usual kids' paints, water colours aren't perfect, the water gets suck in the dough and tends to make it soft again. Anything else goes.

Not edible Christmas bakeries but perfect for kids' own play parties!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Whale plushie out of upcycled denim

I like challenges. If someone gives an impossible sort of task and asks "you probably don't have any idea how to solve this?", I usually reply that let's see, I might figure something out. Usually I do. That's part of the reason why I like upcycling old clothes, there is always the challenge how you can make your plans work when you aren't working with virgin fabric that you have bought just the amount needed from fabric store.

But, before I start rambling about that again, let's get to the point... There are five bloggers who have started a 12 days of Christmas DIY challenges. The challenge also includes link up party. I didn't have any sewing time yesterday which is shame as the topic was to make Christmas decoration out of old clothes. So many ideas! I will make them anyway later though.

The point of the challenge is that the Christmas shouldn't cost the earth, I fully agree and I try to participate as much as I can.

Today's challenge was by Vicky; Take an old pair of jeans and turn them into a Christmas Gift.

 Here we get to the challenge. I'm not a friend of denim/jeans when it comes to upcycling (even though they are the only pants I usually wear...) and this challenge wasn't as easy as yesterday's would have been. First I thought I would make some oven gloves as I had planned already earlier but the problem is that I didn't have jeans that were 100% cotton. The ones I was going to use had only 77% cotton! Not very safe to handle hot things with oven mittens that are in the danger of melting, if only partly. Had to think something else.

Then I remembered a whale that used to jump on the front page of my Pinterest some months back whenever I opened it. I didn't save it back then, it was made out of denim and thus not something I would probably make. Oh well, you can be wrong sometime.

We have had self filled advent calendars for the kids as long as they have known how to open them. Last year I switched it from calendar with 24 small pockets to a bigger bag that could hold some better surprises than just small figures, candies and some small scrap. Bigger bag doesn't mean more expensive surprises though, it's quite the opposite. For example you can print out new colouring picture, roll it and put in a bag. Cheap and very much appreciated by the kids!

So, how about start making the surprises already when there is almost full month before we can start opening the calenders? I looked up the whale, found tutorial, even though not a pattern and made these:

Not the prettiest things when it comes to sewing but I don't think my kids will mind... These are much smaller than the original (here) and I only draw the patterns from the screen from the pieces she had cut. If I made more, I would fix my "patterns" quite a deal, the fins are oddly proportioned and I don't think whales have snouts... It's not a fault of the original model, the original looks great! It is also much bigger. These are about 15cm long.

The snout... is it a whale? Flying fish? Bird? Mix-breed of bird, whale and dog? No idea, but I know my kids and they are usually crazy about new plushies and they will probably think it as some new specie - or then it is just a whale. I used beads as eyes and the fins and the tails I stitched with the kids' favourite colours; pink and green so you can tell them apart.

Thank you for the challenge for the hosts:

Jill @ Creating my way to Success
Vicky @ Vicky Myers Creations
Anna @ Tea and a Sewing Machine
Pam @ Threading My Way
Anne @ Domesblissity