Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Things are progressing nicely here with the sewing studio.  Gone are the blue and yellow stripes and daggy eighties curtains.  Hello to calming light white and gorgeous new flooring.  I'm starting to feel very excited :)  Such a relief to see this finally changing.  How did I suffer the old room so long?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Back to work

I've been quiet again, and my excuse this time is partly due to more holidays, but also because I have been renovating like a maniac.  I have a bit of an exciting project underway at the moment which I will be able to tell more about in the coming months, but it involves giving the sewing studio a BIG makeover.  Gone are the hideous blue and yellow walls and floral curtains.  Goodbye nasty mottled carpet.  A fresh coat of paint and new curtains are in and over the next couple of weeks the new flooring will go in.  I don't have a lot of money to splash around though so there will be less renovation and more innovation I think.  One thing I am considering is the ugly fluorescent lighting in there.  The studio has some good natural light in the early part of the day but those bright lights are essential for late afternoons and evenings when you are hunched over a needle.  So instead of removing them I am considering concealing them with some kind of creative disguise.  Like this - the Polish paper chandeliers they call Pajaki.  There are so many possibilities to be creative here so I don't intend to stick to tradition at all.  Only thing is I have to make mine rectangular to fit the fluoro tubes.  I can see I'm going to have fun with this  :)

Friday, 4 July 2014

Add a zip to a bag

Every now and then someone asks me if one of my bag patterns has a zip closure.  I've made my patterns as simple as possible for the beginner but they are easily upgraded for those ready for the challenge of zips.  Here is a great tutorial from Pattern Pile that shows you how to add a zip to a bag that otherwise didn't have a closure in the pattern.  And it's free!  Yay!


Of course, if you're doing the Sling Tote I think the easiest way of adding a zip would be to make the Sling Bag first and then pin the zip directly udner the top seams of the bag and stitch into place with the zip unzipped.

Friday, 27 June 2014

So very British and so very inspiring.

Image for How to make a bow tie
I just love this show to bits - The Great British Sewing Bee.  I only just started watching it - I had heard about it but assumed it wasn't shown in Australia.  But then one night while channel surfing whammo, there it was. I have to say I'm bummed that I've missed so much of it, but I'm catching up with bits of it here on the BBC site, where you will find their tutorial on making this cute bow tie.

I love that the show, unlike designer-y shows like Project Runway, focuses on regular people and the sewing skills they need for everyday projects.  And I love their challenges that focus on remaking thrift store finds.  Think I might have to have a go on that front.  I haven't altered a thrift store find for myself in a looooong time!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Stars and stripes

Happy Memorial Day for yesterday to our US friends.  Here's what I was making on the day, appropriately enough - a sweet little skirt from two cheap bandannas:

Maybe an odd thing for an Aussie to be up to, but my daughter's much loved Deputy Principal is retiring on Friday and she's American, so the kids will all be dressing up in American garb for her last day.  I think she'll get quite a kick out of seeing them all dressed up in her honour.  :)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Maiden voyage

I can report that the new kiddie machine for my daughter is going well.  She loves it!  She immediately had me helping to make a library bag out of Barbie fabric and then up at 6 the next morning still in PJs to make a spotty skirt for Fluffy the toy echidna.  :)  Now she's asking for a scarf but I might hold her back for a minute to make a mini sized sewing machine cover coz that's the one thing this little devil didn't come with.

So she's finding the machine very easy to deal with.  The foot pedal is just right for her - nice and slow as predicted, and a good size too.  The only difficulty she is having so far is how to have her hands when the work is going through the machine.  If it's me sewing, I would normally have one hand on the left gently guiding the fabric through and the right hand holding the bottom out so it's not buckling.  Thing is she can't seem to have her two hands doing different things.  It must be a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head, but it makes her focus on her hands rather than the needle.  (Don't take your eyes off the pointy bit!)  So for now I am doing the right hand for her and she is doing the left.  We are a funny octopus to watch.  I have to say, there's a fair bit of funny goin' on in this house.  :)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The perfect kids' sewing machine!

Check out this little darling I got on Ebay.  Cutest thing ever and so light.  I picked it up for my daughter.  She's started school now and is asking to make "real" things with me so I thought it was time to upgrade her to a "real" machine.  

I started her out a year ago on a toy machine that only does chain stitch (which unravels all over the place) and I've been reading all sorts of reviews online for a proper children's machine.  Initially I was hoping for something with a needle guard but no luck there.  Instead I came upon this, the Elna Mini (or Elna Sew Mini) - it's about a third the size of my Janome and only weighs about 2 kgs (and yes, I have considered that maybe I will be sneaking it away with me on trips!) but best of all for beginners and kids, it is nice and slow.  

The foot pedal is nice and small for tiny feet to control and the speed is limited so even if you slip and stomp down on it you aren't going to take yourself out with the needle.  After seeing my sister in her youth sew through the bone in her finger (and then stare mutely at the needle stuck there, completely startled at what she'd done) I was keen to find something with a bit of a safety feature.

This machine seems to be very similar to a couple of others on the market.  The Janome Sew Mini (the same name oddly) and the John Lewis Mini and then apparently Ikea even has a mini machine, although sadly not in Australia.

I can't wait for her to get home from school now.  I'll let you know how the maiden voyage goes.  And in the meantime, anyone want a children's toy machine in hot pink?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

I'm back!

'Game of Thrones' Recap: Sansa's New Home

I just had the nicest camping trip with my little family and feel so relaxed from it.  I was planning to do a post telling you all about it with some great pics we took along the way of  the red dirt of the outback. However, as soon as I got home I got sucked into catching up with Game of Thrones episodes that I'd been taping while I was away.

This might seem strange that I love this show so much.  Most people can't help but focus on the blood and gore.  I don't even notice that.  I'm too busy ogling the amazing costumes and marvelling at the strong female characters and the beautiful scenery.  And at the moment I'm wishing hard that cloaks will come back into style. (Oh, I can see a pattern coming....)  I love how elegant and simple they are, beautiful even in their simple rough fabrics.  Sansa's one above looks so lightweight but seems to be a rough woven silk which would be very warm for its weight.  I love how the hood doesn't look like it would drag on her head (something I hate about most hooded coats), and the way it hangs in folds is so luxe.  The other items I am crazy-craving are the dresses worn by particularly Shae, but also Daenerys and Margaery.  Here's Shae in hers which they change the belts on, it seems, to get different looks:

The designer for the show's costumes is Michele Clapton whose work you can check out here.   And some of the embroidery on the royal gowns are stunning. The artist who made those is Michele Carragher and you can see closeups of her work here.

Friday, 11 April 2014

New and improved!

Four cup coffee carrier for Teapatty325
Woohoo - I've been fiddling around with the pattern for the 4 cup version of the Espresso Express coffee carrier and I'm pleased to announced I've managed to change the method so that not only is it now heaps easier to make but it will also give you a heaps more professional product when you're done.  If you've been putting off trying this pattern, grab it now at teapotandsnail.etsy.com or check out its little sister, the 2 cup Espresso Express.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sharesies - gorgeous spring colours

I just had to share these with you.  A very lovely customer of mine, StephaJo, has sent in a picture of her version of the Overflow Bag and kindly agreed to share it with everyone.  My first thought was "I love that fabric" and then I noticed that she has also monogrammed it on the yoke section.  Completely love this idea!

Then she gives us a peek inside to the reversible lining.  Such an awesome job and totally ready to hit the beach.  StephaJo tells me she has a bunch of friends interested in being lucky recipients of her handiwork and I can see why.

If you have a bag or other item you've made from a Teapot & Snail pattern I'd love to hear from you.  Drop me a line at teapotandsnail@gmail.com or convo me at the shop: teapotandsnail.etsy.com.  

Friday, 4 April 2014

Find your fabric for free

I've been thinking a lot lately about why we spend so much on crafty ventures.  Being creative is such an important part of the human experience.  It's a way to de-stress, express ourselves, spend time with our friends or family, and make things for the people we love.  But spending guilt can take something away from that experience and dampen the creative passions.

I love all the gorgeous options available these days for fabric and yarns and I love to have a little splurge now and then. But we don't always have the money to spend and sometimes I think it's great to remember all the resources available to us that are free or cost very little.  Just recently I was checking out a way to make your own vinyl fabric out of plastic bags which is great to use in patterns that call for oilcloth.  But there are so many other great ways to get the resources you need to sew:

1.Dumpster diving - No, please don't go rummaging through stinky stuff!  What I'm suggesting is you check out the dumpsters and skips behind businesses and large buildings that will contain things for a hardwarey rather than stinky nature.  There's all sorts of stuff to be had - interesting parts of building materials, off-cuts of wood, plastic and metal that can be used to make things that complement your sewing, like a bag handle for example.  For making items like a coffee carrier or messenger bag you can find items like discarded vinyl banners outside of printing shops and jute and woven bags and sacks outside feed stores and cafes that roast their own beans.  But before you go out picking through other people's off-casts, check out the laws in your country here.  If in any doubt go to the places you are interested in and ask if they are willing to let go of discarded items.

2. Two dollar shops as they're called here in Australia - dollar stores and pound stores in the US and the UK.  Think laterally.  Have a look at the items in these stores for the fabric they are made of.  If you need towelling for the back of a bib or burp cloth, rather than go to a fabric store and buy a whole bunch of it, just grab an inexpensive hand towel for two dollars.  If you are considering creating your own fabric designs by painting fabric remember to check the arts and crafts aisle for fabric paints at a fraction of the cost of an art store.  If you need buckles or clips for a bag have a look at a cheap bag that has all the clips you need rather than buy the clips at a higher price from a haberdasher.

3.  Thrift stores - These are a great place for all sorts of treasures.  The trick is to look at something through how-can-I-transform-this goggles.  Items like belts can be upcycled into handles for a bag.  Buckles can be used to embellish the front of a bag and interesting vintage items like doilies or embroidered work can be used as embellishments for items like a child's dress or doll.  One of my favourite finds was a stash of unused vintage tea towels in a variety of designs from different parts of the country.  Someone had stored up their travel souvenirs as a momento and kept them in pristine condition for years and the combination of all the colours together created the perfect vintage palette.  Vintage tea towels and other vintage linen items like tablecloths and napkins can be transformed into gorgeous one-of-a-kind homewares like cushions, ottoman stools, and even placed inside a frame for display.  Don't forget clothing - the obvious source.  Even if there's no way you can wear the item, if it's in a fabric you love you can just snip it close to the seams to get as much fabric out of it as you can for another project.  Items like old sweaters can be cut into squares or strips and sewn together to form a "quilted" blanket.  Old tshirts can be cut in the same way and pieced together to make a scarf or pillow.

4. Make your own fabric using screen printing. Check out this great tutorial from Instructables to find out how to make your own screen printer.  Be adventurous with your fabric choices too.  Screen printed designs look great on fabrics like jute to make a wall hanging or grocery tote, or you can print a design over an existing design to create an interesting juxtaposition.

5. Hard rubbish day.  Whilst we normally think of finding things like vintage furniture on the street, don't forget to think laterally again.  An old sofa may in too poor a condition to be of service any more, but what is it covered in?  Does it have a fabulous fabric that can be saved?  Same goes for other items like lampshades or clothes.  Just remember - consider whether it has recently rained while the item would have been on the street and always launder these items well before use.

Once you change your thinking about sourcing fabric you will find yourself becoming curious about new finds, and the challenge of the hunt will replace those nagging worries about the most recent fabric store splurge!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Start sewing for a song

Brother GS2520
I see this morning that Lincraft is advertising a great deal on Brother sewing machines.  That's a great place to start if you are interested in learning to sew.  Even if you've never sewn before, there's so little else you'll need. Hopefully you already have an iron, so then all you should need is a pack of pins with a head that's easy to handle (avoid those teeny metal headed pins), a packet of the correct bobbins for your machine (ask the sales clerk before you buy), and thread.  I would make a start with black and off-white and build up your collection as you need it.  Guterman thread is my personal favourite.

Some kind of temporary marker is a great thing for marking patterns onto your fabric, but I wouldn't go all out and buy anything fancy (although my mechanical chalk pencil is just the best thing since sliced bread!).  A good old 2B pencil will work on most fabrics.

 And then you mustn't forget a pair of good quality scissors.  I always bought my sewing scissors from the sewing store but just recently have found the same serrated "Made in China" scissors I like are being sold under generic labels in two dollar shops near me, so I have been getting my previously $40 scissors for $3 a piece!  I think even with fabric (and be conservative with your first choices because you will need to have something you can practice on without fear of messing it up) you could have everything you need and sit down to learn to sew for less than $250 AUD.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Teapot in Snail

How wonderful!  A teapot in a snail costume!  And the pattern is for sale:
Snail teapot cosy patterns in diy accessories  with Teapot Snail Pattern Knit DIY

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cosy day

I'm snuggled up today coz we're getting the first of the cold, rainy weather here in Canberra.  I started shifting some of the yarn and sewing goodies back down into the flooded sewing room.  Hubby and I spent the last couple of weeks drying the carpets out and digging trenches outside and putting in sumps.  And just in time too now that all this rain has arrived.  Fingers crossed that it worked and we don't end up back at square one with me squirreling boxes of fabric all around the house.

Just having a little coffee break now (including some yummy gingerbread - here's the recipe I'm loving) to go through some of the great yarns I found in some of those boxes.  I haven't knitted in an age - if you used to read CravE you will know that I used to be a big knitter.  Things changed - ie I ran out of time to sit and knit for hours - and everything got boxed up.  But some of the wool I've found over the last two weeks is just gorgeous.  (Thank you to the moth goblins for not chewing holes in it!)  So I have this little arrangement of colours for a blanket and I might use this vintage scarf they're with to make a cushion.

But then this Waterhouse print with the lovely old frame might be nice with it if I replace the orange with something else?

Anyway, gives me something to muse about while I nibble gingerbread and nurse a hot coffee.  Hope you're having a nice day too  :)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Chalkboard fabric on Etsy

Chalkboard Oil Cloth:  Fabric by the Half Yard
I just found this great source for chalkboard fabric at a good price from Etsy seller sugarSCOUT. I love chalkboard fabric for making coffee carriers - not only does it look cool but being able to write on it is a bonus for taking orders and remembering which is which.  Grab some for one of the new Teapot and Snail Espresso Express coffee carrier patterns here.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

New Pattern on Teapot & Snail

Espresso Express Coffee Carrier *2 Cup Version* - PDF sewing pattern
Woohoo!  I've finished the pattern for the two cup version of the Espresso Express coffee carrier and it's up and ready to buy HERE!  I've slightly changed the design from the four cup version so it's really easy to make.  I have been thinking about those people just learning to sew and simplified the pattern with them in mind.

Next I will be going back to the four cup pattern and making the same changes to that - it's basically a complete rework of the design but so worth it.  The new method is really simple to do but actually creates a better looking result.

Lovely new patterns from Burdastyle


Aren't these great?  The nicest pattern collection Burdastyle has put out for a while.  Of course I love it because it's been inspired by vintage patterns.  Some of the items will be trickier than others but if you are a sewing newbie I would go for something like the craft apron which looks like a great simple beginner's piece.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Make your own fabric!

I've just been revisiting this great video from Makezine and Etsy, showing you how to make your own plastic fabric from old plastic bags (find the PDF here).  I love any new way to recycle old stuff into something cool and new.

Basically you iron several sheets of plastic together to make a piece of fabric that you can use like vinyl, and if you choose your bags well you can create some really effective results.  I've been thinking about that video for a while - those of you who have previously used my Espresso Express coffee carrier pattern will have seen the link in the pattern instructions.  I thought I'd give it a go to make a 2 cup version of the Espresso Express, since I've just finished writing up the pattern instructions for it. 

I just have to draw out the pattern pieces now and I'll have that 2 cup version of the coffee carrier out this week!

Two cup coffee carrier for Lovely Lacy

Friday, 7 March 2014

Vintage lovelies

Stepped out yesterday to my local fave fabric store Addicted to Fabric and found the little lovely above sitting on a shelf as a display.  This is the exact same machine I learned to sew on as a child.  I can remember making a dress out of one of Mum's old skirts and wearing it so proudly down to the corner shop when it was done.

And then a quick pop in to an op shop to find these completely beeeeauuutiful heels.  Not vintage but certainly have that look about them - love the button.  Sadly they're in a teeny tiny size and I have big ole hoofsies.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Alexander Henry goes retro!

How awesome would this print be for a coffee carrier turned summer drinks carrier!  I can see myself walking along the beach with it already  :)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Problem solved. We hope.

Here I am - still camping out in what used to be the music/chillout area upstairs which has now become the sewing room storage area!  But hopefully this won't have to go on much longer.  We had a good old dig around in the drains under the house over the weekend and discovered what was causing the shop to flood.  My father in law bravely stuck an arm into a pipe and pulled on what he thought was a tree branch to instead be greeted by an enormous ex-possum.  It looked like it had been partially preserved by the cold water - very sad to think how it must have died and not very pleasant to find.  I certainly won't put that picture up for you.

I noticed that this time last year I was complaining about the excessive amount of stuff in the sewing room and we also got flooded about that time too.  So I'm thinking the universe is trying to give me a big ole kick in the pants.  So none of this stuff you see in the picture is going back into that room unless I can't live without it.  And before anything goes back in I am going to give downstairs a good makeover.  Yay!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Utter chaos and devastation

...and a woofy smell to boot.

As you can see the sewing room is in utter disarray after the Great Flood.  And it looks like it will be for some time as from our initial digging around under the pavers outside that wall it seems like we have some kind of major plumbing issue under that part of the house and we're going to have to get a plumber in to dig under part of the wall.  Anyway, this all means I'm going to have to take out anything that is still left in there and drag it upstairs for what at this stage will be at least a couple of weeks.  And you see that shelving there with the stash - yep that's going to have to come out too for the diggin's.

However!  Where there are ashes there's a phoenix.  While I was shifting things out I discovered a box (thank goodness a waterproof plastic box!) full of unfinished projects.  Like this cute handbag I made and was in the process of making a pattern for.

I have no idea why I stopped work on it but I really quite like it so I'm going to get back onto that one.  Seeing as I'm not really able to sew at the moment, I may as well get stuck into writing some new patterns.

And then I found this cute collection of fabrics.  I have no idea what project/s I was thinking of here but how adorable are they?

And to think I wouldn't have found these for another couple of years.  Thank you, flood!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Nature redecorates

Gah!  So... my hubby and I spent all of yesterday afternoon and evening literally manning the pumps to try and stay ahead of the flood of water coming into the downstairs part of the house which, sadly, is where my sewing room resides.  Even with two pumps going it was coming in faster than we could get rid of it.  I managed to get all the perishable items off the floor in time and we've had this happen to a lesser degree before so I already had most of the beloved fabric and yarn stash in (many) plastic storage containers.  Sadly there are a few nice pieces of vintage furniture that were too heavy to move in time so I am waiting to see if the wood (mostly cedar) dries out effectively.

So while downstairs is drying out I have carried the stash and whatever I could shift up the stairs and Teapot and Snail is camping out in the sun room upstairs.  There isn't much space for making things up here so I am using this opportunity to write a pattern for my 2 cup version of the Espresso Express coffee carrier.  With any luck I'll have that out and ready to purchase by the middle of next week.  Providing the heavens don't open up again and keep me down in the basement on pump duty.  ;)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tying up loose ends

Hi there everyone!

Goodness, it's been awfully quiet from me over the last five years.  My main focus has been on my daughter and sewing and creating patterns has had to take a back seat for that time.  But my big grownup girl (as she is now) has recently started school, and Mum is back in business!

We've just had a couple of weeks breaking ourselves in to the new routine.  I'm so impressed at how confidently she's taking on her new role and that's really allowed me to free up my mind to focus on my own work.  I've come downstairs to the dungeon of my poor neglected sewing room to begin afresh and the first things I've noticed are that:

a)  this poor room needs a major makeover and
b)  the shop itself could do with a makeover too.

So out with the paintbrush and off to the local fabric store for some fab new curtains.  That will sort out a).  I am not brave enough to show you the before picture just yet - it's that bad.  Wait till I have finished the room and then I will share the before and after shots together.  I am so inspired by people like Anna from Noodlehead.  She has just made her sewing space over and it looks so organised and clean and clear.  Just what I need.

Sorting out b) may take a bit more doing! First of all I want to sell a few of the handmade items I have finished but haven't had time to put up - so they are up now.

Star bib  Cowgirl pram quilt  Botany bag Brum-brum bib

When that's done I will be doing a bit of rebranding.  I don't feel like the current shopfront really represents my shop or me at all.  It does have a history though.  Originally, back in '07 I had the intention of selling handmade children's clothes and somewhere along the line that shifted - first I found myself making women's bags, and then the sewing patterns came along.  That's really where I find myself now.  I love the challenge of pattern making and I love that it means I am always making something new.  I find it so hard to be making the same thing over and over with all these new ideas piling up in my head.  Time to set them free I think.  And once those loose ends are sorted I will be onto some of the new patterns I am currently writing.

Just as I finish writing this I am starting to panic the teensiest bit.  We are having a huge flash storm and the sewing room has started to flood.  I can literally hear the water bubbling up under the carpet.  I think nature might be doing the job of redecorating for me.  Wish me luck  :(