TangleClub December Update

Happy December!

handy pouch tutorial coverWith reference to this recent post, I have just added A Handy Pouch – Simple Sewing Tutorial to the TangleClub Archive. The file sizes were quite large so I have split the PDF down into 3 smaller chunks, for ease of download.  Have fun – would love to see results if any of you try it out!

If you are not yet a TangleClub member, but want to share the crafty freebie goodness, never fear – it’s very easy to join!  You can still get FREE TangleClub membership with any purchase of £5 or more from the TangleCrafts Etsy Store, or click here for all current options.

And while I’m here,
a very merry festive season to you –
may craftiness and happiness
be with you all! 😀

A handy pouch!

My laptop is on the brink of death: sad but true.  It’s okay; I have a new (/reconditioned) laptop ready to step into the breach, but I’m not allowed to play with it just yet, because it’s my birthday quite soon.  No problem, I don’t mind waiting; but in the meantime, I really didn’t want to put my poor old ailling laptop under any more duress than necessary.  Cue a little device that the lovely Corey bought for me months ago and I duly ignored because I’m not really very into technology…  It’s mobile phone-sized, and will allow me to check my email while out & about.  Don’t need anything fancy, so now I’m in laptop preservation-mode, it’s perfect!  Only problem is, Corey had an identical one & smashed the screen of his within weeks.  Oops.  So having dug mine out of its (unopened) box this morning, I knew that I would also need to devise some form of protection for it.

Easy!  I remembered a little ‘handy pouch’ I made earlier this year, when I was still high on last year’s felt/fabric stocking success!  It didn’t turn out to be quite as handy as I had hoped, at the time, due to being just the wrong size for everything I could think of.  However with an extra fold of felt tucked inside for added protection, it turns out to be a perfect fit for the aforementioned email-checking device (I’m sure the device does lots of other clever things as well, but with the exception of a little web-browsing, I assure you all those other functionalities will be entirely under-utilised!).  Without further ado, here it is:

I loved the blue/brown paisley fabric when I acquired it & was determined to make something I could actually use with it – so I’m really happy now that I’ll be able to use & see it on a daily basis. 😀

I will definitely not be making multiple ‘handy pouches’ for the TangleStore, as sewing is very much a means to an end for me, and really not my favourite way to pass time.  But TangleClub members, watch out!  I actually remembered to take step-by-step pics as I was making the pouch, so I’m going to put together a tutorial for you (in the freebie archive) very soon (remember I am very much a novice at sewing, so it is very much a beginners’ project!).  I also thought of a potential good use for all the fabrics I’ve been stockpiling but never using – would anybody be interested in a ‘handy pouch’ kit?  I’m going to give it some thought…

Crafty resolutions

Since my Christmas stocking project last week, my fingers have been getting all twitchy to do more crafty/stitchy things.  So I just created this treasury of DIY craft kits over on Etsy, which is full of crafty ideas for inspiration – but also the materials necessary to get started straight away.  As procrastinators will agree, not having the necessary materials to hand is the best excuse not to begin a new project, so these kits leave you with no excuses! 😉

Being totally honest, the packaging often attracts me just as much as the projects themselves, and is often just as original.  The DIY Instant Comfort Boxes by Kim Welling are a case in point; although I also have a huge soft spot for Pupurin’s Little Kitty Kit.  Those with a mildly sick sense of humour (who me?) may enjoy the 1/2 splat kit (must click to discover what this is, although the title is quite accurate!); while any embroiderers looking for a creative challenge should take a look at the wonderful Crafting Shelves kit from This Tiny Existence.  Well, take a look at the whole treasury: there are all kinds of craft kits from all kinds of crafters so hopefully something will inspire you!

My own crafty plans for the new year include a return to weaving, thanks to my lovely hubby buying me ‘The Ultimate Bead Loom’ from Fred Aldous for Christmas.  I’ve already constructed it (yes, I did in fact sit & construct it on Christmas morning), but the next stage is on hold while I figure out whether I’ll be using beads or yarn, and what I actually want to make.  My current impulse is to make a big mess of colour…  But what I love about this loom is the fact that it can just sit on a worksurface in front of me and the weaving area is (sloped) upright so that I don’t have to bend over it as I work.  I love using bead looms for small-scale weaving, but most have a horizontal working surface which my back does not enjoy.  😦  I will let you know how I get on as and when any projects emerge. 🙂

Besides that, I have a freshly acquired small stash of funky fabrics and wool felts that I am itching to play with, and lots of ideas in mind.  I can’t resist all the patterns, and the combinations of colours; and after my stocking project, I really got a feel for having a needle in my hand again.  My mother has claimed the unenviable task of teaching me to use a sewing machine, but this will be another slow-burner due to not living in the same city, not to mention my reluctance mainly concerning the noise of the thing.   I really just prefer having space to hear my own thoughts, but then again, I’m generally very good at tuning out sounds from the real world that attempt to permeate my inner world (how dare they!), so maybe I can tune out the sewing machine, too…  Again, I will keep you posted.

So, how about you?  Any crafty plans and/or resolutions for the new year?
Please share & inspire/motivate the rest of us!

A last-minute Christmas craft project

Yesterday – my last day off before Christmas – I had fully intended to get into the festive spirit by (finally) putting up our tree, and wrapping presents.  I failed.  Why did I fail?  Because instead I was inspired by a project I saw recently by friend & blanket stitcher extraordinaire, Britta Jarvis: mini stockings (shown right).  Suddenly I decided that that was what I really needed to do, in order to start feeling Christmassy.  (I think it was the thought of the stocking fillers I have for my parents & sister, combined with the realisation that stocking fillers without a stocking aren’t even really fillers…!)

Britta’s stockings were made of felt & – as implied earlier – beautifully blanket stitched around the edges.  But as this was a completely off-the-cuff decision on my part (definitely no time for shopping!), of necessity my stockings were made from whatever materials I already had to hand.  Luckily, although under normal circumstances I will tell anyone who will listen that I cannot sew & have a hate-hate relationship with my sewing machine, I am powerless to resist pretty fabrics & hoard them, anyway..  Thus, no festive colours whatsoever, but I think I like them all the more for that!  And although I did begin by attempting a blanket stitch edging on Stocking #1, I very quickly unpicked after realising my non-proficiency in terms of seamstressing meant that I would do far better to work concealed seams, instead…

Stocking #1 has both sides cut from a tea towel, with no attempt made on my part to align the pattern in any way – as clearly seen!  I drew a rough stocking shape freehand onto the reverse of the fabric, then flipped it over & drew around it for a matching reverse side.  I might have done better to do a quick google search for a stocking pattern to trace (the ‘neck’ of this first one came out a little narrow), but I just wanted to get on with the project, so I decided not to worry about it.  The open end of the stocking, I hemmed the edges using a very primitive running stitch – yes, it could have been neater, but it was good enough for me. 😉

Stocking #2 is made from a thinner fabric, so to avoid flimsiness, I opted for a sturdy craft felt for the reverse side.  Brown would probably have been better, but orange was the best match available from my stash.  I tried to make the neck slightly wider this time, and the body slightly fuller (must remember actual gifts need to fit inside!) .

I think Stocking #3 shows positive results from my little learning curve, with proportions far more convincingly stocking-y.  The body is less rounded, yet has far smoother curves at toe and heel – guess that’s what happens with practise! 😉 Each of the stockings is approx. 7″ tall, but the widest point of Stocking #1 is 5″ across, compared with 6″ across Stocking #3 – it’s amazing how much difference such a small measurement can make to the overall look.  I must confess, I’m kind of in love with Stocking #3, which is why I was motivated to actually take pictures before we parted company…

As a finishing touch, I used an off-cut from each piece of fabric used  to make a matching badge, which I then pinned to the heel of Stockings #2 & #3 (& the toe of Stocking #1) to brighten up the plain reverse side.  The badges are removable, but I think they look kinda cool. 🙂


Given that every year I fully intend to make my own Christmas cards but never actually manage it, I’m very proud of myself for actually managing to do something handmade this year!  It only took a couple of hours to complete all 3 stockings, and that was including any minor mishaps needing to be recovered along the way.  I’m sure anyone more proficient with a needle (or sewing machine) could whip these up far more quickly than I, but the experience has nonetheless left me feeling quite positive (& indeed slightly inspired) about future handmade projects.  Felt plus fabric is definitely a successful combination.

Hmm, suddenly I am feeling the need to collect felt in a wide array of colours…
No hang on, I do still need to put up that tree & wrap presents…!

Morsbags – how cool? (Guerilla eco-bag making!)

Working through my stack of Croq zine back issues (not quite finished, yet!) I found a great article about Morsbags.  This zine was published in 2007, but I checked it out, and the Morsbags site is still very much alive & kicking – & in fact, still growing.  I wanted to post about the concept because it’s such a fantastic idea – as DIY & eco-friendly as they come.

Here are the basics about Morsbags, but the Morsbags website is the best place to go for full info:

What are Morsbags?

They are easy-to-sew eco shoppers (named after their inventor, Morsman), made out of old curtains, sheets (etc).

Why are Morsbags?

The point of Morsbags is to raise awareness of how bad plastic carrier bags are for the environment, and to pro-actively encourage shoppers (etc) to start carrying an eco-friendly Morsbag (or similar) instead.

How are Morsbags?

How does it work?  Well, you can of course make & use as many Morsbags yourself as you like, but the point is to raise awareness and encourage/increase wider use.  So the idea is that you get together with friends, make Morsbags in bulk, then simply give them away to shoppers (definitively NO selling!).

When & Where are Morsbags?

Groups of people  who get together to make Morsbags call themselves pods.  There are pods all over the country, all over the world.  Check out the Morsbags website to see if there is a pod in your area, or set up your own!


The Morsbags website tells you everything you need to know, so check it out.  There’s a free PDF of instructions to follow, as well as leaflets, labels, stickers etc to promote the idea.

I have something of a fear of sewing machines, but the beauty of a Morsbag ‘pod’ (see above) is that you get together with friends and all take a part in the production process (so I could cut, or iron, instead) whilst having a nice afternoon/evening chatting about stuff.  I’m about to move house, but perhaps I’ll make my first crafty day at the new house a Morsbag party!  I have lots of crafty friends locally, so I’ll definitely be letting them all know about the Morsbags concept.  But the free PDFs on the website mean it would be easy to print off a stack of leaflets & instructions & just give them to people you know.  The more people who get involved with this idea, the better!

A project for the vernal equinox

I’m so happy – spring is officially here!  I’ve been rejoicing all week in how much lighter the early mornings are, as it lures me out of bed, giving me an extra hour or two of work-time every day.

spring-needlebook-coverTo celebrate the joyous vernal equinox, I’ve designed this cute mini needlebook, The In-Vernal Pins & Needlecase.  It’s also a cunning way to help you with your spring cleaning ;-), as it will help you use up some of the tiniest scraps of felt, and – of course – will help you organise all those dratted (infernal) pins and needles!  I arranged the cover pins to look like a little posy of spring flowers (they are just skimmed through the top layer of felt fibres, so that you can still see the ‘stems’)  but you could easily make a pattern of stripes, or spots by arranging them however you please.

spring-needlebook-needledI love the inside of this needlebook.  You might imagine there are more scraps of felt to park your needles…but no!  You can, of course, use felt, or any other scrap fabric you might have.  What I used were the washing instruction labels from some of my old clothes.  The sizes vary slightly, but I like the higgledy-piggledy-ness of variety!  The labels are often folded, so if you fix the labels into the needlebook with the creases away from the spine, you can pin needles into both sides of the label, making even more needle-space!

Have a great day – stitch a needlecase, or plant some seeds, or…just do anything to celebrate spring!

The latest Misshape

Here’s my latest Misshape.  He’s not at all the shape I intended (but I kept changing my mind as I was stitching the outline) – & I guess that is the point of Misshapes!  Everybody here thinks he looks like a little ghost.  He’s probably my least favourite Misshape so far, but he was fun to stitch.  This one is stitched with 2 pieces of felt (different colours, back and front), rather than dress/t-shirt fabric, like the last ones.  I stuffed him with moong (/mung) beans, which in hindsight was a mistake, as he looks kinda bumpy up close.  Cotton wool or wadding probably would have worked better for the flatter felt body.


If you have a sudden urge to sew a Misshape yourself, but you’re a bit scared cos you’ve not made anything like it before (like I was), I do recommend starting with felt rather than fancy fabrics.  The felt is much easier to hold, cut, and to sew through.  On the other hand, if you’re worried that you’re stitching won’t look neat enough, you might be better off starting with a different fabric, as you don’t turn the felt creatures inside out, so your stitching remains visible on the finished Misshape.  Personally, I think a little unevenness to the stitching would only add to the charm of a felt Misshape…  Imagine a Misshape with a little wad of stuffing sticking out the side – it would just make him more endearing, surely?!

2nd cute creation of the day!

Misshape RabbitOh. My. God.  I can’t believe it, but it’s even cuter!  Misshape #2 has long rabbit ears, and is stuffed with lavender rather than moong beans (I thought lavender suited the colours of this one; but I have to say, it’s much easier to stuff with beans!).  He was made in exactly the same way as Misshape #1, and as you can see from his poor, malformed body, was stitched freehand rather than from a pattern.

The fabrics I cut this one from were a lighter jersey than the t-shirts of Misshape #1, so I was extra careful when pinning them together, as both cuts were keen to spring in unhelpful directions.  The patterned fabric is from what used to be one of my favourite dresses (which I sadly know I will never fit into again) so I’m very happy to have created something so cute from it.  And of course, there’s tonnes of fabric left, so maybe I’ll make a little family of misshapes…

Jeans Pocket Pincushion

Pocket PincushionAfter the ‘success’ of my Mis-shape, I was still itching to stitch.  I dug out an embroidered pocket that I saved from a pair of jeans that I threw out years ago.  All I did was running stitch across the top, closing the pocket, except for the last couple of centimetres.  This time I was better prepared, rolled some card into a funnel, and made less of a mess filling the inside with moong beans.  Finished stitching across the top.  I could have left it there, but my streak of pink stitching looked a bit wishy-washy, so I whip-stitched back across it with a 6-ply hand-dyed cotton, so it looked as though it wasn’t pretnding not to be there.  It makes a great pincushion (actually, it makes a pretty good paperweight) and I’m really pleased that after about 5 years I have finally done something with that rescued pocket.  I knew it was worth saving!

Sewing? Me?

Okay, so I woke up this morning, on the first of a few days off.  I’ve been looking forward to catching up on all the things I’ve been talking about getting around to.  But this morning, when I woke up, I had an unprecedented urge to sew something.  Me!  Sewing machines scare the life out of me, & I’ve not sewn anything since a badly appliqued sewing case when I was 9!  Oh, and I attempted to sew up a hole in a jumper on request of an ex-boyfriend who didn’t understand the difference between sewing and embroidery.

Well, I have been being seduced lately by the fantastic books of cuteness by Aranzi Aronzo, the fabulous ‘Stray Sock Sewing’, and the weirdly cool ‘Plush-o-Rama’.  Every time I look at these pattern books, I think, ‘That looks easy; surely I could do that’; so I guess my inner self decided it was time I put myself to the test.

I was up very early, very twitchy to do something.  But I decided that I needed felt, and dried beans to fill whatever I made, so I dashed out to the shops, and got there before they were even open.  In the end I got some moong beans, but had a flash of ‘insight’ that suggested I already had some felt at home.  Turned out I was wrong.  Well, I was itching to get on with something.  I’m not a fabric addict (threads & yarns, that’s another story) so I didn’t have any interesting oddments to use up.  What I do have, however, is LOTS of old clothes, many of which are either too big or too small.  One quick rummage later, and I was finally ready to begin.

I cut 2 very rough squares of fabric, approx. 4″ square.  I used 1 plain t-shirt, and 1 patterned.  I pinned them together around the edges, with the right side facing inwards.  Oh, before I pinned them, I sewed 2 buttons and stitched a nose/mouth (randomly positioned) onto the right side of the plain fabric.

Mis-shapen front (top) and back (bottom)

This was just a trial for me, so I didn’t want to copy a pattern from a book or online.  And I certainly didn’t want to bother with fiddly things like tracing, and cutting paper patterns!  I decided just to (running) stitch a fairly random outline, within the pinned border of the fabric.  It turned out slightly more random than anticipated, but I was fine with that.  I remembered not to sew it closed, and turned it inside out (after trimming off the excess fabric to 0.5cm outside my stitches).  I then poured as many moong beans onto the kitchen counter as I did inside the ‘thing’.  I slip-stitched the hole closed, et voila – my very first hand-sewn Mis-shape (‘It’s a mis-shape with ears’, as my husband said when he saw it).

I think he’s very cute.  More will have to follow.   I can’t believe that suddenly I want to sew…

(N.B. I promise that the beautifully centred pattern on the back is purely accidental!)