Saturday, 30 January 2016

Bag Making

Every couple of months or so our craft group meets, Hey! The lovely Susie, Sue, and Janet, we should think up a name for our group! Suggestions below please :)

Our group often make bags. Janet has all the kit accessories, the cutters, gauges, the rivets, snap fasteners, handles, interfacing materials etc. so when it's Janet's turn to host, often bag making is what we'll do. So between use we've made handbags with straps, clutches, clasped purses; fabric baskets; wine bags (ha!) and tote bags.

Here are some action pics from Thursday's bag making activity :)

For any reader/visitor who would like to have a go at making their own handmade bag. I recently shared a boutique bag making project in a previous post, here it is again.

Sew Brilliant Bags a project book by Search Press

A fun little three pocket bag to make, page from Sew Brilliant Bags

As we are becoming quite the experts in bag making, to our Thursday session then, I took a copy of a new book by Debbie Shore called Sew Brilliant Bags: for the ladies to have a look at and to comment on. Our activity had already been set so we did not make anything from the book this time around, but the girls were really impressed with the projects and I am sure we will make things from it, we all really liked the Rucksack made out of contrasting fabrics with a neat little buckle fastener, and I'm tempted to make a shopping bag out of Oilcloth. If we get around to doing something I'll add pictures later. The book contains 12 bag projects which include a variety of techniques i.e. adding zips, pleats, eyelets, and ruching and pleating the fabric (the method of how to make a three pocket bag is pictured immediately above).

The book Sew Brilliant Bags by Debbie Shore is currently only £6.99 on Amazon

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Review of The Knitted Nursery Collection by Search Press

knitted nursery 2
ISBN 978-1-78221-317-8
RRP £9.99  
Author Jem Weston
Published by Search Press, Jan 2016
14 knitting projects which include toys, accessories and decorations for babies and nursery room environments


The author, Jem Weston is a freelance designer and a Workshop Tutor for Rowan Yarns. Weston lives in Nottingham UK and in the book’s introduction she reveals that her affection for knitting started at a young age. She says it developed during her time at university and that she was often inspired by traditional crafts in her Fine Art studies
Range of information
The pattern information is presented over anything from 2 pages up to 8 pages depending on the range of detail and complexity involved in the making, this includes photographic imagery, stitch diagrams (charts), materials required and the patterns.  A page of Abbreviations at the rear as well as a thank you from the author to the people involved in ‘bringing the book to life’. There are no step-by-step images of the items in various stages of being made 9/10

Quality of information
You get to work with some beautiful materials which include: Worsted, Merino silk, wool and cotton yarns and there is opportunity to mix fabric/sewing, felting techniques in one or two of the projects. Teaching elements are not in this book, but then there is nothing too technical or fiddly to learn/use with many of the knitting patterns simply requiring stocking stitch or garter stitch know how. Information however, is not hugely comprehensive but is very effective, and intentionally so, as this is NOT a beginner’s book for knitters 9/10

Paperback book is 26 cm Long x 20 cm Wide approx. The text is in large fonts on a white background and are very clear (a real plus point). Each project has a 1 sided page intro displaying the project’s title and just one introductory sentence each time.  The charts cover a full page so are a great visual aid. Some excellent work in pulling together the overall content by Art Editor, Georgina Brant. Contains 94 pages

Each project has a full page photographic image in a staged setting. The project images peppered around illustrate the themes beautifully, yet all photography demonstrates the items in a completed condition only 10/10
elephantsknitted nursery 1
includes creatures to make in soft toy form: elephants, bunnies and a squirrel, also woolly birds and ‘Flutterbies’ for room decorations. Practical pieces and room accessories items include: a baby quilt, felted basket, blankets, a rug, cushions (pillows) and Pom Pom bunting
Conclusion  I get to review lots of craft books of this ilk and I am pleased to say this one contains very little of all that feature writing fluff and nonsense which is refreshing. The photography promotes the projects very well. The project ideas have a wonderful modern take on nursery themes and are quite charming, and there would be a real sense of accomplishment if one is able to reproduce any one of the 14 items to match the quality presented in the book. This is best described as a ‘how to do’ pattern style book for those with some knitting and sewing crafting proficiency. Good value at £9.99. ‘It’s one of the best knitting pattern books I’ve seen for while’ – Debra Hall, reviewer

Look inside here

Note: a repeated publication appears at tssreviews

Friday, 1 January 2016

whoosh!!! #Happy2016

Here we go, careering headfirst into the New Year!

Wishing all a Happy 2016. Be wise, be more thankful, be safe.

lOVE Debs x

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Project 11 - How to make Zipper Pouch Bags in Small, Medium and Large

With their defining gathers, these Gathered Zipper Pouches are a simple set that has an easy process of adding the zippers. The gathers not only add beauty to the pattern but they are practical by giving the pouch more storage room. With a few of these pouches inside your purse, you’ll have an organized and convenient carry-around companion! You can also add a loop as a handle for easier carrying.

All three pouches can be made with the same fabric or with three different fabrics—the options are endless! This is also the perfect gift set.
Finished Sizes:

Large: 13 1/2˝ wide × 5˝ high × 2 1/2˝ deep

Medium: 12˝ wide × 4˝ high × 2 1/2˝ deep

Small: 9 1/2˝ wide × 4˝ high × 2 1/2˝ deep

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Amounts are based on 42˝-wide fabric and are for 3 pouches (1 of each size).

3/4 yard for exterior

3/4 yard for lining

1 1/4 yards of fusible interfacing

10˝ all-purpose zipper for large

9˝ all-purpose zipper for medium

7˝ all-purpose zipper for small

Note: A 3/8˝ seam allowance is included on the pattern. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.

Cut out the exterior, lining, and interfacing pieces as listed below.

Large Pouch


2 pieces 10 1/4˝ × 2 1/8˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 19˝ × 6 1/4˝ for Large Pouch Panel

1 piece 19˝ × 1 3/4˝ for wrist strap


2 pieces 10 1/4˝ × 2 1/8˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 19˝ × 61/4˝ for Large Pouch Panel


2 pieces 10 1/4˝ × 2 1/8˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 19˝ × 6 1/4˝ for Large Pouch Panel

Refer to the Large Pouch Panel diagram to trace and trim the bottom corners all of the Large Pouch panels using the Gathered Zipper Pouches Corner (Large) pattern.

Medium Pouch


2 pieces 9 3/4˝ × 1 3/4˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 18˝ × 4 7/8˝ for Medium Pouch Panel

1 piece 19˝ × 1 3/4˝ for wrist strap


2 pieces 9 3/4˝ × 1 3/4˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 18˝ × 4 7/8˝ for Medium Pouch Panel


2 pieces 9 3/4˝ × 1 3/4˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 18˝ × 4 7/8˝ for Medium Pouch Panel

Refer to the Medium Pouch Panel diagram to trace and trim the bottom corners of all the Medium Pouch Panels using the Gathered Zipper Pouches Corner Template (Medium) pattern.

Small Pouch


2 pieces 7 3/4˝ × 1 3/4˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 14 3/4˝ × 4 7/8˝ for Small Pouch Panel

1 piece 15˝ × 1 3/4˝ for loop


2 pieces 7 3/4˝ × 1 3/4˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 14 3/4˝ × 4 7/8˝ for Small Pouch Panel


2 pieces 7 3/4˝ × 1 3/4˝ for Front/Back Top Panel

2 pieces 14 3/4˝ × 4 7/8˝ for Small Pouch Panel

Refer to the Small Pouch Panel diagram to trace and trim the bottom corners of all the Small Pouch Panels using the Gathered Zipper Pouches Corner (Small) pattern.

Sewing the Front and Back Pieces

1. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining pieces.

2. Lay the exterior front piece wrong side up. Fold the dart on the lower corner right sides together, matching the dart lines. Pin and stitch along the dart lines, backstitching at the beginning and end. Press the darts on the front piece toward the center. Stitch the back darts in the same manner, but press the darts on the back piece toward the outside edge.

3. Make the gathers along the straight top edges of the pouch panels. Sew 2 rows of hand or machine basting stitches on the fabric, within the seam allowance, as marked on the pattern. Leave a few inches of thread at each end.

4. Pin at each end of the gathering stitches and wind the threads around the first pin in a figure-eight shape. Gently pull the threads at the other end until the gathered piece has been shortened to match the piece it will be sewn to.

5. Wind these threads around the second pin in the same manner and spread the gathers evenly.

6. Place and pin a pouch panel and a top panel with right sides together. Sew each set of pieces together and press the seams toward the top panel.

7. Topstitch the top panels 1/8˝ from the seam.

8. Repeat Steps 2–7 for the lining pieces.
Attaching the Wrist Strap

1. Fold the strap in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to make a crease.

2. Open the strap with the wrong side facing you. Fold in each long side of the strap to the center crease and press.

3. Fold in half again along the first crease,press, and pin. Topstitch 1/8˝ from the double-folded edge.

4. Fold the strap in half. Place and baste it onto the left side edge of the top panel.

Installing the Zipper

1. Close the zipper and lay it on the exterior top panel with right sides together. You will be able to see the wrong side of the zipper. Pin the zipper and panel in place. Stitch the panel and zipper using a zipper foot, sewing 1/4˝ from the zipper coil. Backstitch to secure.

2. Place the lining piece and exterior with the zipper installed with right sides together. The zipper will now be between the exterior and the lining.

3. Pin and stitch the 3 layers together along the previous stitching line.

4. Flip the lining over to the wrong side and press. Topstitch the top panel close to the seam through all the layers.

5. Repeat Steps 1–4 for the other exterior and lining pieces.

Assembling the Exterior and Lining

1. Gather each exterior bottom until it is 16˝ wide for large, 15˝ wide for medium, or 12˝ wide for small.

2. Repeat Step 1 for the lining pieces.

3. Match the exteriors with right sides together and then place the lining with right sides together. Open the zipper before you sew all the way around the pouch. It’s very difficult to turn it right side out when the zipper is closed. Pin and sew all around the pouch. Carefully sew over the zipper coils. Leave a 4˝ gap on the bottom of the lining to turn it right side out.

4. Notch the curved seam and clip the zipper panel seams.

5. Turn the pouch right side out through the opening in the lining. Using a turning tool, push out the curved corners. Stitch the opening closed. Press the pouch flat.

Thank you to C&T Publishing and Search Press.comfor sharing this free project from Boutique Bags by Sue KimSearch Press are the exclusive distributor for C&T in the UK & Europe.

Hope you enjoy making! D x



Thursday, 26 November 2015

Book Review - The Hand-Stitched Flower Garden by Search Press

ISBN 978782213017

RRP £12.99  

Published by Search Press, Oct 2015

Embroidery designs, and 20 embroidery projects (all having nature inspired features) divided into four sections:
1. spring - make 3 x haberdashery related objects, 2 x covers for items
2. summer - ideas to make 4 x practical items, also a leaf design for shirt
3. autumn - make items to compliment household functionality and decor 
4. winter - 5 fashion accessory project ideas


Author, Yuki Sugashima remembers the time she rediscovered her old box of threads and that being the trigger of the interest in embroidery craft. Her previous experience as a floral designer meant she was soon creating floral motifs in thread. 

Range of information
All the information required to make the items is condensed down to 4 pages each, or so, including photographic imagery, diagrams and the method to undertake the making. Each project has a brief introduction, a colour palette, 'you will need' information, diagrammatic instruction and photography. There is a tools, materials and technique guide, plus actual size templates at the back end of the book 9/10

Quality of information
The purpose of the short introductions are to share a few tips and to link the themes. There is opportunity to learn/use surface and dimensional stitching and bead embroidery, and though not hugely comprehensive the information does fully support the aim to do the best job at recreating Sugashima's embroidered range of items 9/10

Size and format is similar to a lifestyle/fashion magazine (not glossy). Paperback book is 23 cm Long x 18 cm Wide. Instructions are in fonts that are quite small and fine. One full paged image is included for each project and a lovely double paged feature spread appears in each section which showcases flora and fauna embroidery 8/10

Eye catching, full colour photography, images are of high quality 8/10

Contains 128 pages.  Pages numbers are labeled on each of the double paged features I mentioned in Layout to direct you over to stitching information 8/10

I haven't put needle to fabric using this book as a guide as yet so am unable to feedback specifically about the accuracy and effectiveness of the projects. This is a nicely presented book however, with some inspirational designs to embroider. The project ideas are quite traditional i.e. egg cosy, oven gloves and apron, but items such as these, when completed, could get stained easily during food preparation so the time and energy in adding hand embroidery motifs could be regarded as bittersweet if they happen to get spoiled, and if shrinkage occurs, or if dyes from the threads were to bleed out in a warm wash. Personally, I admire the skill and the work involved and I think the outcomes are very pleasing, but delicate embroidery is better applied, I feel, to items such as covers, pouches and fashion accessories. Therefore, I may set up one of the projects as a workshop theme when my craft group next meets, or make an item or two and giveaway as keepsake gifts to the same sewing friends. First, however, I need to get to grips with embroidery techniques and the contents of this book may well send me on the right road.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Diary of a New Runner

July 2015
I was looking for an activity to replace my regular attendance at an exercise class and so decided to take up running. I worked out that it had been almost 30 years since I’d last ran, so it had to be a case of building up slowly. At first it was a mix of short runs interspersed with walking this allowing time to recover, and then gradually exchanging this pattern so that runs became longer with less walking in-between. These running bursts, though just a minute or so in length, I found surprisingly tough to do.
My outlay to undertake the activity was minimal at first, so, as it was the midst of summer, I ran in running vests and joggers and I’d alternate the wearing of light weight trainers that had once served me fine for my Zumba workouts. I was running around a man-made lake which was quite exposed on a hot day and I’d be doing a circuit and a bit. I was experiencing various skeletal and muscular aches and pains around the calves and the heel areas particularly because of the feet pounding on the hardcore surface.

August 2015
A few weeks in and my running buddy and I tried a bit of cross county. We found the changes in the terrain a welcome diversion from spending times thinking about breathing techniques and the mental strain of pinpointing markers along a course we had become familiar with. Up to this stage I had been running/walking just once a week, occasionally twice a week, for around 20 minutes each time.

September/October 2015
Therefore, having had a gentle introduction to running, it was at a crucial time when certain benefits from having the regular exercise were becoming obvious and we began upping our game that I suffered an ankle sprain, which was a real set back. It took two weeks or so for the swelling to go down and three weeks of wearing an ankle support.

It was evident to me that my injury had not been the result of an ankle twist on uneven surface or anything like that, it was down to the fact I had not been wearing training shoes designed for running and my bones and the muscles around the ankles had been bearing the brunt of hard impacting. I was in quite a state, forced to limp when walking. Rightly or wrongly I continued to run with the injury as I did not want to drop off with the body conditioning, so during this set back we chose a grassy playing field to run on and we just ran round and round the perimeter. I was worried that I may have to give up running before I had really started!

October/November 2015
I must say these AirZoom Pegaus 32 Flash by Nike for women (see above) has not only allowed the opportunity to continue running before the injury was completely healed, but now it is completely better, and now I am running over a longer time and distance, these training shoes have honestly provided both the necessary cushioning and support so that now I do not even have to think about painful feet and joints, I can just pull them on and start running!

Also, my male partner, who is currently running in a pair of Men's Nike Lunarglide 7 Flash trainers agrees, that now that the seasons have changed, various locations we choose to run can be a bit muddy, and where we would surely be getting wet feet running through the grass and puddles wearing our 'wrong' trainers, both these Nike running versions have a special weather-resistant fabric which repels water and mud and are easy to clean with a bit of wet wiping.

I cannot stress enough how much I feel more 'effervescent' being better equipped for running, not just in regard to the footwear but having made further running gear purchases which has helped with coping with the various extremes.

Watch this space for running diary update in the near future!

Debs x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Children's Christmas activities at Foyles, Birmingham

I am passing on the details of a children's activity half hour to be held at the recently opened Foyles shop, Grand Central in Birmingham early December. Designed to entertain little ones, while allowing grown-ups a short break from Christmas shopping, though this new shop has a prominent children's section to discover!
Festive themed activities, with face painting from Hannah Pink of Pink Faces. Storytime will be led by Smriti Prasadam-Halls. Smriti will be reading from her new picture book, called Santa Baby

'… Roo and Santa baby felt a tingling in their toes,they held their breath and gave a squeak as up, up, up they rose.
Then suddenly they took a dive and with one great big swoop …
Roo and Santa Baby did a GIANT LOOP-THE-LOOP!'

Date: .Saturday 5th December 2015 10:30am - 11am
VenueChildren's Department, Foyles, Unit 2A, Grand Central, Stephenson Place, Birmingham B2 4BF
Tickets: Free via RSVP. To guarantee your place at email with the number of places you wish to reserve.

Note: This is a free event but reserve your place to avoid disappointment. Note, no physical tickets will be issued, the email confirmation you receive will be your proof of booking.
On a separate note, It's...

Winner is Rebecca P from Belfast via Twitter

For a chance to WIN a Hardcover copy of the book Santa Baby by Smriti Prasadam-Halls with illustrations by Ada Grey follow the entry instructions below.

To Enter: leave as a comment on this post any line from the famous Christmas song called Santa Baby written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer (The song has been covered by many artist's over time, including Eartha Kitt and more recently Taylor Swift 
(and you can click on the Taylor Swift link to find an answer to give)

Entrants will need a Google+ page or profile to leave a comment. Alternatively, email your entry to

Terms and conditions are:

Competition is open to UK residents only and entrants must be over 18

Only one entry per person

The Competition will run from Wednesday 11 Nov 2015 at 1300 GMT until Saturday 05 Dec 2015 at Midnight GMT

Entries received after the closing date will not be considered

The draw will be random

The competition is run from Not Compulsory but may appear on other social media outlets

The participant must agree to part of any reasonable promotional activity surrounding the competition

It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure their entry meets with entry requirements and is submitted online successfully

The winner will be announced on this, the competition blog post

The winner will be required to provide additional information such as a name and address

If we are unable to contact the winner within 14 days of the closing date, then we will reserve the right to select a new winner

The prize is a hardcover copy of Santa Baby by Smriti Prasadam-Halls published by Bloomsbury Children's Books

The competition winner will not be able to exchange the prize for a cash alternative, or any other reserves the right to exclude from the competition any entry that does not meet criteria, and also to change, suspend or terminate the promotion and entry period at any time. Disqualification of participants will be carried out if, for any reason, the promotion cannot be carried out fairly or if they suspect any person is manipulating entries or results, or who has acted unethically in any other way.


the Santa Baby picture book is also available to buy from Foyles online, and from Amazon in a choice of formats (click on the links)