Thursday, March 5, 2015

DIY Tassel Key Charm

How to make a key charm

Each time I set foot into the shops and find myself drawn to gorgeous stuff that I desperately want to have that very moment, I have to remind myself that - no I can't buy it. I must first try and DIY it.
Tassel key charm

Sure, there are plenty things I can't actually make. Well I probably could - but I'm not going to try. Boots, hats, watches, fine jewellery and a tailored jacket or pair of jeans spring to mind. But it's possible - and even dead easy - to make a LOT of stuff. The last few seasons have seen loose, light shapes which are super easy to make.

Making your own fashionable items is a big fat green choice. You know YOU made it and not a child in a sweat shop. And it's fun. And better still - you make your clothes and accessories exactly how you would like them. Longer or shorter. Tighter or looser. All in black or made in a vivid lime green. If you prefer florals to stripes or spots, then you make your clothing in florals.

I make a point of trying to re-use or up-cycle first. Check out the Greenie Galleries at the top of this page to see for example - Bracelets made from electric cable and left-over wire. Earrings from food packaging. Jackets from left-over tapestry fabric and even tops from old curtains.

Two great books that spell out the harsh truth of fast fashion are - Over Dressed by Elizabeth L Cline - and - To Die For by Lucy Siegle. Life changing reads.

On to this weeks DIY. I've been wanting to make a tassel key charm. As per usual, it's easy peasy.

You need: -
embroidery thread
business card
2 x O Rings

You do: -
Bend a small loop at the end of your wire so your beads don't fall off. Size not an issue. You decide what looks best.
You need, beads, pliers, embroidery thread, business card, glue and O Rings

It's important to bend any kinks out your wire so your beads can slide on easily. Now add beads to wire. You're looking for something a bit more fun than ho hum beads. Swirly perspex or acetate look good. Tin or metal beads are also nice. Semi precious stones have all sorts of wonderful qualities so maybe think about using them?
Make a loop at end of wire and load beads

Now to make your tassel. Wind your embroidery thread around the narrow side of a business card. The more you wind the fatter your tassel with be. Open an O ring with your pliers and slip it through your tassel. Close it and pull it to the top of the card.
Wind thread around business card then add O Ring to make tassel

Slide thread off business card and immediately tie tightly around top end of thread. Knot well and add a spot of glue to make sure knot is secure.
Tie at top end of tassel tightly. Add a spot of glue to knot

Add tassel to one end of your charm. Add an O ring to the other end of your charm.

More next week. Until then, have a great green week.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Easy Kimono Jacket Tutorial + FREE Sewing Pattern

FREE kimono sewing pattern

My mother made a kimono jacket for me in December. Find that version and the FREE sewing pattern on this link - kimono sewing pattern. She gave me a few lovely pieces of fabric. I was keen to make another kimono jacket with the same pattern.
Kimono jacket

Two things I did different this time were -
  • take a bigger seam allowance which makes it less voluminous
  • make the sleeves shorter

I think I might prefer this to the other version. But that's the great thing about making your own clothes. You make them as YOU want them, not how the stores stock them. I can always take the other jacket in if I want it to fit a bit snugger like this one.

The steps to making this kimono are exactly the same. I took pics so you can see the process again.
Make pattern
First you need to make your pattern
Cut back
Cut the back.
Cut front

Cut the front. You can see I allowed extra fabric at the front opening for the diagonal piece (See left in above photo)
Sew top and sides together

Sew top and sides together.
Fold over fabric and make a narrow hem

Fold over and make a small hem all around the jacket and sleeves.
Fold over and sew again to conceal raw edges

Fold over again so raw edges are enclosed and make another small hem.
The hem at the neck may have to be narrower to prevent puckering

Your hem at the neckline might have to be narrower to prevent puckering.

And that's a fun new kimono in the bag!

See another version of this same pattern - on this link.

For more FREE sewing patterns and heaps more ideas to DIY instead of buying visit the Greenie Galleries at the head of this page.

More from me right here next week.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

FREE Mittens Knitting Pattern

How to make mittens

Easy mittens
It's the middle of summer in South Africa. Hardly cold. Yesterday was 35'C and the day before was 31'C. My other half is in London where it's a whole 6'C. Night-time temperatures are around freezing point. Can't imagine that in this heat.

I made these mittens a while back and they are super easy. It's a square - folded in half. All my patterns are some kind of easy shape. It took just over an hour to make these.

I like that your fingers are still free with mittens. Can't bear trying to pick things up or touch things with gloves on. Just feels weird.

You need: -
knitting needles
wool sewing needle

You do: -
I used size 0 needles and cast on 20 stitches. This is Stocking Stitch or Rib Stitch which gives these mittens a bit of stretch. (One purl, one plain, repeat.) You can use fatter or thinner needles. And chunkier or finer wool. Remember to adjust the amount of stitches and rows you knit. Fine needles and fine wool = a whole lot more knitting to do. I'm always in a hurry to make things fast so I opted for fat wool and fat needles.
Cast on stitches

Basically you need your mittens to fit around your hand and fingers - excluding your thumb. It's hard to tell how wide your knitting will be when you first cast on. You have to knit a good few rows and then check if it will be wide - or narrow - enough. I had to unravel and start again to get these right.
Knit rows.

My mittens were 14 centimetres wide but they stretched out to about 18 centimetres

Next you need to knit until the mittens are long enough to cover from below your wrist to just past your knuckles. Cast off when your mittens are long enough.
My mittens are 18 centimetres long

My mittens are 18 centimetres long.
Fold over and sew from each end leaving a hole for thumb

Fold your mittens over and sew with a wool sewing needle from each end until near the middle leaving a hole for your thumb to poke through.

And that's it, easy as that.

You can also Google fancy stitches and play around with this pattern. I have yet to try cables but Moss Stitch shouldn't be too difficult. And you can use up left overs and knit stripes!

These should go nicely with my square beanie. (Same size needles and wool.) Find the pattern for that here - FREE knitting pattern for a beanie.

Check out the Greenie Galleries at the top of this page for DIY ideas.

See you next week.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DIY projects for small homes

Storage solutions for a small house

I really, really hoped our house would be back to normal by this week. But nope. We seem to have rubbish luck with contractors. My other half is finishing off the mess made by the last guy. We have a bloke who did tiling for us before helping him. I cannot wait for our house to be functional again.

In the meantime life goes on. Since our stuff is inaccessible or in boxes - and to keep my blog going - I thought I would show just how handy my other half is. He has made quite a few things for our new home.
Fold down table when up
First up is this fold down table. Our new home is infinitesimally smaller than the last. Which is what we wanted. But we simply don't have space for a decent sized work table and at times we need to be able to work on a proper table.
Fold down table when down and in use
Patrick dreamed up this table which folds away when not in use. It folds down to a nice sized space where I can cut patterns or we can pile papers for filing. It's also right opposite a window which is great for taking pics for our blogs.
Laundry dryer
The next thing is this laundry dryer which hoists up into the air below the skylight. There is simply nowhere to put a clothes drying rack without compromising our space. This uses air space and not floor space. We've seem them in the UK and the only way to have one in South Africa was to make one. We don't have ceilings in our new house which means it's a nice hot space where our clothes dry quickly.
Storage box or bench
Another innovative way to create storage AND seating is a storage box . We call it a kist in South Africa. I think kist a Germanic word for chest. The box is busy getting a fresh coat of paint while the other renovations are going on. It usually sits at the foot of our bed and is great for storing valuables or linen. It becomes a seat when I put shoes on.
Wall mounted coat hooks

As I have already said in this post, we don't have much floor space so a hat or coat stand is not an option. Patrick used wooden off-cuts and clear plastic door knobs to make these coat hooks. The trick is finding door knobs that aren't too big so the loop on the inside of a jacket can fit over them.

Model train track come coffee table
My other half is a huge model railway enthusiast but where do you put a layout in any home let alone a teeny tiny home? He devised a coffee table with a removable glass top. His valuable trains are in the house and he can now create a lovely model railway complete with trees and a station. That should keep him busy for a few years.

The coffee table makes a great conversation piece. Underneath is a shelf with removable storage baskets that I bought at our local equivalent of IKEA. Great place to keep DVD's, remotes, magazines, coasters and the usual stuff people have.

Spice rack
We can never find a spice rack that takes enough spices - or fits the space we have. Patrick made a custom fit spice rack that can take fat or skinny, tall or short containers. Again we are using wall space so our cupboards are free for food. And you can see all the spices at a glance. No more scratching in an overhead cupboard.
Chopping board rack
Since we don't have IKEA in South Africa and we cannot buy another of their pot lid organisers for our chopping boards, Patrick made a wooden non-expanding version. He used wood off-cuts and wooden dowels. The boards take up less space on their sides than if they lie flat.
Custom wine rack
Last but not least is our custom fit wine rack. We happen to have four holes above each other in the wall in our living area. And nowhere to fit a wine rack. My other half used bits of wood to fashion a rack that allows us to rest wine bottles in two of the spaces.


Since this particular blog post is about how we are creating storage and space in our home, I thought I would add these few extras although they are not my husband's handiwork.

Window seat
We used to have two free standing Parker Knoll chairs in this space before. They took up a lot of floor space. We got a carpenter to build us a window seat with storage underneath. Now we can fit up to five people on our window seat. You don't have to have a window to make a seat like this. You could run one along a wall. I made the cushions - find the instructions for them here.

Bathroom storage
Our bathroom was another area we needed to fit stuff. The same carpenter made us two chunky floating shelves and squeezed a vertical skinny set of shelves to match between the bath and toilet. Now we have space for our towels and toiletries.

Metal coat hooks fit over a regular door
And these last three storage ideas are probably quite common. I just never considered them. The first here is a gadget that hooks over your bedroom or bathroom door and allows you to hang an umbrella, extra towels or a coat. The door still opens. As you can see from the pic I have two of these next to each other.
Magnetic knife storage
I've often seen magnetic knife holders that fit on the wall but never thought about using them in our home. A person uses a knife so often in the kitchen and it's great they are in easy reach. As you can see we stick more than just our knives on them.

Kitchen hooks 

The same company that makes the coat hooks above also make these hooks which attach to the wall. We use ours in the kitchen for tea towels, sieves, a tea infuser and a drawstring peg bag.

At the top of this page are the Greenie Galleries with loads of crafting and sewing ideas as well as FREE sewing patterns.

Hopefully I can do a fashion blog post next week.
Until then, have a great week.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wide Top + FREE Sewing Pattern

How to make a wide top

I have been wanting to make a wide top for a while now. I've made similar deconstructed tops and
Wide top
kimono tops. See them here: -

But this one is seriously WIDE. The sleeves sit near to my elbows. It happened by mistake. I was trying to make a kimono shrug jacket and realised my piece of fabric was too small. It was never going to work. So I changed tack, added a few pieces of black fabric and come up with this!

You can make your top narrower. You could also use even more different pieces of fabric and use up off-cuts. And you could alter the neckline and make a rounded or even a square neck. This pattern is only a guide.

Please forgive the weird stuff in the background of the photos. Our house is packed up and we have stuff all over. There are also rays of light on the table in the pics. And that's not all, my model is packed away so I used a pole against a wall for this top. Stuff happens!

Here's the how-to.

You need: -
fabric as per the pattern pieces
matching colour thread
sewing machine
pins, scissors and other sewing items

You do: -
Cut pattern pieces

Cut your fabric pieces and if your fabric will fray, zig zag the edges.
Sew front pieces together

Now pin and sew the two front pieces - or other pieces if you choose - together.

Pin and sew the shoulders together leaving open enough space for your head to fit through.
Pin and sew sleeves

Pin and sew the sleeves to the sides making sure the sleeves are sit exactly in the middle.
Sew all around underarm and sides

Sew all around the underarms and sides.
Remember to iron seams flat as you sew. I explain why in my sewing tips - click here to find them.
Pin and hem neck

Pin and hem the neck and sleeves.
Pin and sew sleeves and bottom of wide top

Pin and sew a hem around the bottom.
And Voila! You're done.

Check out the Galleries at the top of this page for more FREE sewing patterns and DIY ideas.

See you right here next week.