Sunday 30 August 2015

Winter gardening?

We have had a very wet winter, and our garden is so sloshy underfoot that the roses are still to be pruned! So my 'gardening' has taken a new turn:

I have been planting in miniature and indoors!

I found some inexpensive glass containers at Kmart which I thought would work as terrariums, and went about collecting all manner of plants and pebbles. 

I've had a lovely time playing with form, texture and colour.

I suspect I've broken every rule of terrarium planting by combining succulents, air plants, mosses and lichen, each of which require quite different conditions. I figured I'd just play with different combinations and see which ones survive.

Inspiration and helpful instructions for making my terrariums came from this post by lovely Amelia. 

The weather is a little warmer today, 
so hopefully I can get to the rose pruning soon! 

Monday 10 August 2015

Library bag tutorial

While my days of making library bags for my children are well and truly over, I find myself still making them for nieces and nephews. This is my tried and true method for a lined, drawstring bag, with an optional personalised nameplate.


You will need:

  • Two 15" x 21" rectangles outer fabric (I would recommend a heavier weight fabric such as cotton drill, denim or furnishing fabric because these bags get a pounding from the kids)
  • Two 15" x 21" rectangles lining fabric
  • One 15" x 8½" rectangle for nameplate background
  • Scraps of fabric for appliquéd letters
  • 2 yards cord
  • Fusible web

Appliquéd name plate

I used Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 to prepare the nameplate text. If you are using a PC, the commands should be similar.

Open Microsoft Word. Go to File : Page Setup. Change Orientation from portrait to landscape. Click OK.


Go to Format : Document. Click on the 'Margins' tab. Set the margins to measure 0.5". 

Click on the 'Layout' tab. Set the Vertical alignment to Centre. Click OK.

Go to Table : Insert : Table. Set 'Number of columns' to 1 and 'Number of rows' to 1. Select 'AutoFit to window'. Click OK.

Go to Table : Table Properties. Click on the 'Row' tab. Select 'Specify height' and set to 4". Make sure 'Row height is' set to 'Exactly'.

Click on the 'Cell' tab. Set Vertical Alignment to Center. Click OK.

Type your desired text in the table. I typed 'Jessica'. Select your text and set the alignment to centre.

Go to Format : Font. Click on the 'Font' tab and set the font to 200pt Arial Rounded MT Bold.

Click on 'Text Effects'. Select Text Fill. Set Color to No Fill. 

Select 'Text Line'. Set Color to Black. Click OK. And OK.

Print the template. 

This template can now be used for tracing letters for your appliqué. Place the template face down on a light box or window pane, and trace the letter outlines onto fusible web. The letters will be reversed. Cut out the fusible web letters roughly, approximately ⅛" beyond the traced lines.

Fuse the letters to the back of your desired appliqué fabric. Cut letters out exactly on the traced line using a short, sharp pair of scissors.

Fold the 15" x 8½" nameplate rectangle in half lengthwise. Using a soluble fabric marker, mark a line 1" from the folded edge of the nameplate. Position the letters on this line, using the template as a guide. Fuse the letters in place. Appliqué each letter using a machine blanket stitch using a thread colour matching the letter fabric.

Constructing the bag

Using a soluble fabric marker, mark a line 8" from the lower edge of one of the outer fabric rectangles. Align the raw edge of the appliquéd nameplate to this line, right side down, as shown below. Attach the nameplate to the rectangle with a ¼" seam. 

Flip the nameplate downwards so that it is right side up and press. Topstitch the nameplate ⅛" from the top and bottom edge..

Stitch the outer and lining rectangles together, end to end, as shown below.

Fold in half, right sides together, matching outer to outer rectangle, and lining to lining rectangle. On each long edge of the outer rectangle, mark a 1¼" opening, 1¼" down from the seam line. On the short edge of the lining rectangle, mark a 2" opening.

Stitch the three sides together, stopping and securing with backstitching at each opening.  

Turn the bag right side out through the 2" opening in the lining and slip stitch the opening closed. Tuck the lining inside the bag and press.

Using a soluble fabric marker, mark lines 1¼" and 2½" from the upper edge of the bag, front and back. Stitch along these lines to form the casing. 

Cut the cord into two 1 yard lengths. 

Attach a large safety pin to the end of one length of cord. Starting on the right side of the bag, thread the cord through the front casing, past the casing opening on the opposite side, and through the back casing, to return to where you started. Knot the two ends of the cord together securely.

Repeat this threading process with the remaining length of cord, starting on the left side of the bag. These cords are pulled from either side of the bag to close.

Of course, this method can be adapted to make any sized drawstring bag for any purpose.

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