Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Quick elastic band fix - no sewing machine required

We are spending few days next to a lake and as the weather is warm again I think swimming is one of  the activities here. But... the elastic band of my son's swimming pants looked like this:

They wouldn't stay on, of course. He is quite slim and swimming pants without working elastic band simply won't stay, not even for a while. Lucky thing is that the elastic band was loose, it wasn't sewn together with the seam. If it had, I could have used the same idea, I would have just left the old elastic band on its place and added the new one next to it.

Anyway, step one. Rip open the back seam, cut and remove the old elastic band. Take a safety pin, close it to the other end of the new elastic band and put the elastic band on its place with the help of  the safety pin.

Once the elastic band is on its place, sew the ends together. If you have sewing maching, you can use it, if not, use needle and thread like this:

Of course, if you don't have any needle or thread but have new elastic band (you can rip one out of old worn out pants if you have those around), you can just tie a knot to it. Thicker of course, but at least the pants stay on!

Adjust the elastic band and it looks like this:

You can close the gap if you want to but if you are in a hurry, even that isn't necessary. The seam under the waist band will prevent the gap opening the whole way down. Of course, if you like neat finish (and don't have 4 year old waiting to go swimming as right now), use hide stitches to close the gap. No one will ever know you changed the broken elastic band. 

You are ready to go!

Couple other early birds swimming too:

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Toy bag for car trip, travelling with kids part 1

The summer is here, at least in the form of holidays, if not for the weather. After last couple days of having warm enough to be able to go swimming the temperatures dropped to 10-15 degrees! During night even 0-5 degrees. But when the sun is high up, night is short and day is long Finnish people wake up from their winter sleep and start moving around. Someone has said that the whole Finland goes crazy when it is summer and I agree. There are summer events in every village, happenings and festivals for all day of the summer. The summer is so short that you feel like you can't waste any of it. It also includes usually lot of driving when you "have to" go to grandparents, summer cottage, zoo, amusement parks etc. In our case that means 3-4 hours drive quite often. Time to invent something to make the trips more fun by having something for the kids to do.

First part to ease these trips was make a toy bag for car trip, upcycled of course. Our kids like to take small toys to play with and they are usually quite well entertained just with those but there is a problem that I think almost any family knows. I mean of course falling toys. What is more frustrating than drop that favourite toy you just needed to the floor and the adults won't stop because of that? And for the adults the screaming that results is also frustrating, annoying... you get the point. I thought that we needed toy bags for the kids that won't fall and will prevent the toys falling too. It won't stop them falling while played but I hope it helps.

The toy bag has one fixed strap and the other one is adjustable so that it can be attached to the front seat. The kids have small tables attached to the front seats so the bags will rest on those, they don't have to hang anywhere. Attaching it to the car seat prevents the whole bag falling to the floor. I also used some cotton wool sheet to make it stand so it would actually keep the toys inside. It is also rather low (10cm high) for easier to reach and open on the top.

This upcycled toy bag is fairly easy to do but I wrote a short tutorial. I also realized that the tutorial I used to make quilt work bag doesn't want to be found anymore. The site directs me to Finnish version and that doesn't have the blog where I read the tutorial before. No matter what I do, use incognito-mode, switch the language to English on my browser, use my phone etc., it always directs me to the Finnish site. Quite annoying, actually. If I wanted the Finnish site, I would like to choose it myself, thank you very much. I then tried to find another tutorial describing how to make a bottom like this but couldn't find any. Many messenger bags are made using this kind of bottom but the tutorials I found were something like "assemble the bag, including bottom", not really helpful, right? Therefore I will make a tutorial for sewing the bottom later, now everything else.

I made two, of course, both upcycled old curtains that my mum found from eco-center for free!

I'm not surprised that the pink-blue was left to the eco-center, it isn't quite that fashionable now and I found couple small stains in it too. Nothing that matters for me though. The Moomin-curtain is more surprise to me. Only "problem" with it is that is sewn to go around the window, i.e. it has top- and side curtains all together. It isn't supposed to cover the window, it has been apparently used to frame the window. Quite nice for kids' room but I can understand why it might have been difficult to sell and thus ended up to the eco-center. The fabric is good quality and there is lots of it, so good for me someone discarded it!

First I cut the pieces.

From the main fabric one piece for the bottom and the other sides of the bag, two pieces to longer sides, two pockets and three pieces for straps; one short (8cm for this bag), one long (adjustable) and one shorter (fixed strap).

From lining: one part covering the bottom and two sides, two separate pieces to longer sides and out of cotton wool sheet 2 small pieces (for this bag 10cm x 12 cm, height x depth) and 2 longer pieces (10cm x 22cm, height x width). The cotton wool sheet is from old blanket and the lining old sheet.

Fold and iron the straps, sew with long stitch. Fold and iron the pockets, sew the top.

To give more support for toy bag I added extra layer to the bottom. Cut twice the size of the bottom, add seam allowances and sew the long sides. Iron the seam allowances open, turn.

And now the bag starts forming out fast. Baste the cotton wool-pieces to lining, sew as edge as you can so that these stitches will be inside the seam allowances. Attach the pockets to the lining. Assemble the lining and then the main body parts. Remember to leave turning gap on the lining! Tutorial with pictures coming later.

Attach the longest strap to the slider and you should have something like this:

Attach the straps to the exterior of the bag leaving the stitches under seam allowance. Slide the shortest strap through metallic ring, fold half and baste to its place, slide the longest strap through that same ring, through the slider and baste to its place. Like this:

Now your toy bag for car trip is almost finished! Place the exterior inside the lining right sides facing and sew around.

When I was making this first bag I didn't have my Wonder clips yet so I had to use pins but with Wonder clips it is this easy:

I noticed that if you iron the cotton wool sheet, it becomes stiffer. With the first bag I didn't realize this and it was a bit too soft and I thought if I should have added some other interfacing. That bag I ironed of course but more steamed the fabric than actually pressed because I didn't want to press the cotton wool. With the second bag I pressed accidentally and it turned out to be good accident! At this point I had the pink-blue bag ready and I took it, pressed all around it and had a much nicer looking bag! Sometimes accidents are for good.

If you, unlike me, remembered to leave the turning gap, you can just turn the bag around. If not, you have use for your seam ripper.

Iron, again. Cut a piece out of cartoon, the size of the bottom of your bag, put inside the bottom pocket made earlier, close it and put it inside your bag. It doesn't have to be attached, it can just be there. And you are done! The pink-blue bag has part of its lining fold over to the right side. I hope I could say this is exactly how I meant it to be but... Yeah, I cut the main fabric a bit too low and as the bag is quite low already, I didn't want to make any lower so I cut the lining higher and ironed it so that part of the lining is showing. Nice detail, I think. Also, sew some stitches on the corners on top of the seams and also stitch over the straps to secure them properly.

Then to details. Little My and these small electric guys are looking from the pockets:

The toy bag is stiff enough to stand on its own.

Close up from the straps:

I certainly hope this toy bag helps with the car trips! In any case, the kids both agree that these are great bags anyway. They like bags, there are always couple bags filled with toys or clothes. I was once wondering where some clothes are, there were couple pairs of pants and few shirts missing from the laundry and where they were? In a bag under the bed, I only found them after weeks. I had lifted that bag, I had seen it many times but didn't realize to watch inside! Also, very good use for upcycled curtains!

I didn't include any measurements, would you like them to be added? I scribbled something down, cut something, changed my mind, wrote over it, cut again, changed something etc. so my notes aren't quite that clear at the moment. But if you need those I can try and decipher my notes and add them here.

Upcyclelina's page on Facebook has a folder called "Second hand store finds", go and check it out! These curtains were there and I will add more as I find more. Also check my Pinterest boards, there is one about travelling with kids and it might give you a clue what I'm up to next. One of the boards is a group board (Suomalaiset käsityöblogit, i.e. Finnish handcraft blogs), join it or start following it if you find it interesting!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Upcyclelina featured and other things worth to mention

It has been a long break, too long in my opinion. Certainly longer than I expected. I had flu that turned out to be longer than I usually have. Usually it is couple days and everything is back to normal but now it took several days. After that our daughter fell sick, stomach ache, the kind where you throw up as soon as you have swallowed a teaspoon of water. Not very nice. That certainly kept me occupied but luckily no one else got it.

Even though I haven't been sewing that much, I still have tried to be active in the internet at least. Upcyclelina was featured twice in Pinbellish pin party at Purfylle here and here. Also Sew Can do featured my worry eater in Craftastic Monday Link Party here. Thank you very much!

While surfing, I found a great collection of ideas to upcycle clothes. Jill at Creating my way to succes has been collecting ideas for a long time and she has an ongoing link party where anyone can link their ideas for upcycling clothes. I added couple and I think the collection is around 700 now! The collection can be found here.

Have you checked Upcyclelina on Facebook yet? I have a new folder there about second hand store finds. Go and have a look! The folder is here.

There is also a new group board in Pinterest called "Suomalaiset käsityöblogit" (Finnish handcraft blogs) and there you can find exactly what the title says. If you are a Finnish handcrafter you can join the group board, instructions on the group board description. If you aren't a Finn but interested about what we do here up north, join as a follower! I know, the blogs are usually in Finnish, but they are a great place for inspiration anyway. The group board is here.

I also noticed that I'm running out pretty much everything. Thread, needles, chalk and even my seam ripper didn't seem to work as well as I thought it should. Even though I like to use old things again, I like my tools to be up to date, scissors etc. I don't compromise with. And there is no denying the satisfaction when you open a package full of new things. Especially when you have paid it already, it is like having a present, right?

Quite boring package actually but everything is what I need! I'm actually quite proud that I managed to order only the ones I needed and nothing more. Chalk powder to fill my chalk roller, threads (new type for testing, seems to be worth its price), needles, needles and needles, seam ripper, pink chalk pencil (when I can't use white chalk) and... Wonder clips! Those I have been wanting for a long time and finally I have them and what little I used them today, they are well worth their price, much better in many places than needles are. And seam ripper, it was definitely worth to spend couple euros for it... The ones I have are something like 10 years old and apparently they aren't that sharp anymore. I started suspecting that much when I had to pull to cut the thread before it broke. You don't need to actually use force with it, it should work just like that! And, you know the feeling when you realize just how bad something was once you have replaced it with something new? Yep, happened to me. The new seam ripper worked so well that I felt almost stupid for not buying new one earlier...

An actual post about making something should be here shortly too.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sewing dictionary English - Finnish

I write this blog in English while living in Finland and at the moment most of my readers are from Finland so I decided it is only fair to include some kind of a dictionary. It is mainly for my Finnish readers' benefit and meant to help translate texts in English to Finnish. The dictionary is free to use so if you have readers from Finland or think you want some, you are welcome to use my dictionary and in that case it would be nice to link back to my blog. The dictionary has its own page so it always easy to find and it is here.

Like I mentioned previously, the summer seems to be here, or at least it was. The temperatures dropped after writing that but I hope they will be back up soon. So what I have been doing is design the beach bag I mentioned and also some small things to make the summer holiday car trips easier with two kids. I have dedicated own board in Pinterest for this: The ideas there aren't of course all upcycled (the car tray includes buying a new cookie sheet, for example) but I have an idea, few actually, that I'm thinking to do out of upcycled materials.

I also decided to prepare for the coming summer by making new, colourful clothes for my kids. I thought that it would be great to just cut a whole bunch of them and then sew them at one go. Nice idea but drawing and cutting the patterns, choosing the fabrics and cutting the fabrics for 5 leggingses 4 shirts (of which 1 has button list, one is a top made out of scrap fabrics, two basic shirts) and two summer dresses takes some time!

Yes, they are new fabric and because of that won't get much picture time here. One dress is combined new fabric and upcycled and like mentioned above, one top is out of scrap fabrics, those will most likely show here too. 

I also happened to get some kind of flu somewhere, very annoying and quite typical type for me. No fever, hardly any sneezing or coughing but I'm tired as I would have 40C fever! I try to convince me that I can sew later and rest now but it isn't always working so well. Today I gave up though, after spending couple hours working with that pile, I slept another couple hours. Luckily my "flues" don't usually take that long, couple days quite often but when you think what you could be doing with that time, it is frustrating.

I hope I will be better soon and actually show you something else than just a pile of fabrics cut ready to sew...

Friday, 3 June 2016

Mobile phone case with a hole for the charger

When I bought my mobile phone I wanted to protect it but it was rather new model and not one of the mainstream models so it was hard to find a protective case for it. I bought one that is suitable for almost any model, you choose one based on the size of your phone and the phone is attached to the case with sticker. With the sticker it doesn't matter where the buttons on the side are or where is the camera etc. because the phone slides from the cover. Now to the problem... I have had it for almost a year and now I noticed that the back cover of my phone had started to get loose. The sticker attached to the back cover probably had something to do with this. So I definately needed new case. Now there are correct covers and cases available but of course the price is 20-30e and even though they could protect my phone more, I decided to make one.


The phone doesn't have to be in the case all the time, so self made would work. I just wanted to see part of the screen so that I could see if I have new messages, missed calls and what's the time without taking the phone out of the case. Then I wanted to charge the phone while still in the case so I made a flip cover with inner pocket and a hole for the charger.

For the pocket I used another one of the cuffs from the shirt I used to make a hand bag. It had nicely two sides sewn already, the raw edges I sew with the side seams of the cover. First I had to make the hole in the bottom.

I measured a gap that was couple centimeters wide and 1½cm tall, draw it and sew. 1½cm includes 1cm seam allowance, the hole itself doesn't have to be deep, few millimetres is enough. Notice that it isn't right in the middle now as you have to remember that the side seam will make the pocket narrower. Narrow down the seam allowances for the hole, snip notches and turn around. Of course if you have a piece of fabric rather than almost ready pocket, sew also the top and other one of the side seams. The outer side seam and bottom can be, and should be, left raw.

I measured the pocket by measuring my phone; the width of the screen, the thickness x2 and couple millimetres extra because the pocket has to be stiched inside the cover. Also when thinking how high the pocket should be, remember to count also the thickness of the phone and of course, add the seam allowances. The pocket should be tight that the phone stays in. My fabric wasn't elastic so I made it just the size of my phone. You should also use fusible interfacing to prevent the fabric stretching after a while. If you use knitten fabrics I would recommend using at least something heavier than jersey and test it first. You probably have to make the pocket narrower than your phone if you intend it to stay put.

The rest of the mobile phone case was made using piece from old jeans and scrap fabric. I didn't want to use jeans as it seems so typical material when it is about upcycling, every second idea is about upcycling jeans when you start looking for it. But it is sturdy enough for mobile phone case and needs very little support (I only used thin interfacing). And there are always spare jeans available in almost every household.

Again measure the fabrics needed for the mobile phone cover by measuring your phone, add the thickness for the width of it and few millimeters to every side so that it covers the whole phone properly.

Here is what you need; the outer fabric, inner fabric and the pocket. For the inside I used soft, elastic sweatshirt fabric.

Adjust the pocket on the outer fabric on the reverse side than it is going to be in the mobile phone case on its final form. If you want the pocket to be on right, attach it to the left.

If you want, you can baste the pocket on its place but you can also sandwich them all at one go.

Of course, remember to leave turning gap. Turn around and iron. Also iron the seam allowances of the turning gap so you can just sew over it and close it at the same time. Sew the pocket's other side, just over stitch will do. Stitch also along the center to make it better to fold, ironing helps the case to fold as it should be.

The mobile phone cover was very easy, after planning it, it took hardly half an hour to complete. It is also a project for which you will find material without shopping.

So what else have I been up to? Hardly it took me whole week to complete one single mobile phone cover? Well, no it didn't. The summer has arrived and with that, mosquitoes. We have three doors and two kids who keep opening the doors when going in and out. But they rarely remember to close them so the mosquitoes find their way in quite easily. We should get mosquito curtains for the doors but for some reason have never gotten around it. I had an idea to make one myself. The fabric I tried to use was a real pain in the... you know what. No matter how I tried to cut the fabric, I still couldn't make it straight. I cut the curtain on three overlapping pieces and when I tried the final version on its' place, the middle part was something like 5cm shorter than the two others. I decided it was time to lay the project to rest and wait until I find a fabric that is more co-operative. But it took quite some time so I have only one, small mobile phone case to show!

Also, when there is warm enough weather to spend outside without having to use quarter of an hour for dressing up, you have to spend it outside. You never know when it ends and you have to wait another year before having another chance. So I have been spending some time with our kids on the beach.

We have a beach on walking distance and if the weather continues like this, it means almost daily trips there. That brings us back to this blog; we need new beach bag! Something that would carry everything needed. Let's see what I come up with...