Shiny clutch tutorial - 5 steps in 15 minutes

I love experimenting when I sew - and discovered last year that you can make some interesting things by sewing with old car windscreen shades!

Recently I was given a nice shiny red one that was no longer used so decided to make a shiny clutch!

It's another very simple project that anyone can sew in just 5 steps and 15 minutes! 

All you need is:
An old car windscreen shade, some scrap material for the lining, a large button and a piece of elastic, ribbon or old hair tie!

Step 1
Measure and cut a piece each of the windscreen shade and your lining material 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8").
Fold the elastic/ribbon (around 12 cm/ 4.75") or hair-tie into a loop, and pin to the right side of your windscreen shade rectangle in the middle of the shorter edge.
Lay the lining fabric face down on top and pin all around, leaving a gap of around 10cm (4") in one edge.

Step 2
Stitch around all 4 edges - leaving the gap you marked with your pins.  Clip all 4 corners.  

Step 3
Turn right sides out.
Note - your stitching next to the gap may rip a little as you turn it out. Don't worry about this, just go as slowly and carefully as you can!
Pin the opening closed, then top-stitch around all 4 edges, close to the edge.

Step 4
Measure 10 cm (4") up from the centre of the opposite end to the elastic or ribbon loop and stitch on your button.

Step 5
Fold up the bottom of the clutch 12 cm (4.75") and pin along both sides, then stitch.  Run over the top edges of the fold a few times with your stitching for extra strength.

All done!  A nice simple shiny clutch !

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

For more simple projects that anyone can sew in 5 steps and 15 minutes - go here!

iPod keychain case tutorial

I wanted to make small cases for an upcoming plane trip to Sydney, so my girls and I can take our MP3 players to listen to some music or audio books. We currently all have MP3 players, but I'm aware that a case I sew is likely to outlast the electronic gadget itself, so I found the dimensions of iPods, and made cases that will fit these in, so we're prepared for if and when we have to upgrade!!

They're also just a useful little pouch that could be used for a mobile phone, or any other small objects, snacks  etc!!

So here's how to make your own:

First you need your materials.  I wanted to use some denim, after starting last week to use up a pair of jeans I got from the charity shop for 50c!
The back pockets are already gone and transformed to pot holders!
For this project - I used the back of one of the legs! and some other scraps of fabric I had.

So here's what you need:

2 pieces outer fabric, 15 x 10cm (6 x 4")
2 pieces inner fabric, 15 x 10cm (6 x 4")
1 strip inner fabric for decorative strip  15 x 6cm (6 x 2.5")
1 strip inner fabric for keychain loop 15cm x 4cm (6 x 1.5")
1 zip, 15cm (6") or longer
1 keychain ring
buttons for monogram letter

First put the decorative bits on your outer fabric.
Draw the letter outline centrally on one outer piece using a pencil, then stitch the buttons into place along the lines:

Fold the outer edges of your decorative strip of inner fabric in and press. Then pin and topstitch to the centre of your other outer piece of fabric:

Now you add the zip.
Place the zip face down centrally on one of your outer pieces of fabric - which is face up.  I used a zip that is much wider than the fabric - just let the edges hang over - you will trim them later.

Then using the zipper foot attachment on your machine, stitch the zip in place:

Then turn the zip over and topstitch the outer fabric to the zip to hold in place.

Now take on of your inner pieces of fabric. You are going to join this to the same side of the zip.
Lay the inner fabric down, right side facing up. Lay your outer fabric plus zip face down on top of this with the zip in between the layers and pin along the narrow edge at the top as shown here:

Again using the zipper foot, stitch these pieces together along the narrow strip you just pinned:

Then open it out and top stitch the inner fabric to the zip:

Now you attach the other two rectangles of fabric to the other side of the zip.
First, lay the 2 pieces plus zip you just stitched, right sides facing up with the zip also lifted up - the free edge at the top. Then place your other piece of outer fabric face down on this and pin the edge to the other side of the zip:

Machine stitch where you pinned - again using your zipper foot. And once again flip the fabric over afterwards and topstitch to the zip.

Then to the final inner piece of fabric:
Lay this final piece down right side facing up, and then your other 3 pieces plus zip on top, with the zip facing down between the layers.
Pin along the top, and stitch into place:
And once again, turn the final piece over and topstich to the zip.

Now to the keychain tag.
Take your final strip of inner fabric.
Fold in half lengthways and iron:

Then open this out and fold the outer long edges to the centre fold and press again:

Then finally fold the whole thing in half lengthways so the raw edges are hidden, and press.

Topstitch along both long edges, and put this with your keychain ring:

Push this fabric strip through the ring and fold the strip in half. Then pin the edges to one side of an outer piece of your case like this:

And stitch securely in place with several rows of machine stitching:

You're nearly done!
Time to stitch it all together around the edges.

Fold the case so both outer pieces of fabric are together - right sides facing, and both inner pieces of fabric are together - right sides facing.
Make sure the zip is OPEN - this is very important!!
Then pin around all the edges, leaving a gap of around 5cm (4") for turning it out at the end:

Machine stitch around all four edges - remembering to leave the gap open, and running extra stitches over both ends of the zip.

Trim the corners and the ends of the zip:

Now turn it all right sides out through the gap you left:

Use your scissors or a chopstick to push the corners out fully.

Then handstitch the opening closed:

All done!
Your case is ready for use!

I made 3 - so we're all set for our trip now! They fit in our MP3 players, earphones and even the USB charger so we can charge them up again for the return flight!

Perfect to clip to my keys, and keep everything together and easy to find!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I hope you liked this tutorial. 
There are many more on my tutorials page too!

What is motivation?

Over the last couple of weeks I've been thinking lots about motivation.  To start the new year with lots of resolutions and plans - which include the ever popular fitness goals of course, then to also start the year being sick for 10 days and unable to start these resolutions and plans was hard!

Of course there's no real reason why you can't start a plan on any day of the year - you can have a fresh start any time you choose.  I'm a big fan of Anthony Robbins, and often listen to his CDs to motivate me.  One thing that has really stuck in my mind from that is that he says, if you want to - you can change your life in an instant.  You just have to make that decision.  Yes, then you have to stick to your plans, goals whatever, but it's the mindset that is important.  Many successful people speak of a turning point in their lives - often a real low point - that served as their motivation to turn things around. That's when they changed their mindset and started on their road to success.

Sometimes I think about this - and wonder if my life is too comfortable to really give me the motivation to do something extraordinary.   We're not rich, nor poor, just an average family, we're all healthy, and live in a beautiful place.  We've worked hard to get where we are, and yes I'm happy.  However, I've always wanted to excel and strive for something big- but the question is do I have what it takes to push myself long enough and consistently enough to achieve that? 

My big goals that I'm striving for this year - are to grow my blogs to the stage they are providing me with a decent financial income. I know this is going to take LOTS of effort, time and commitment - but the reward for all that will surely be worth it!
My other big goal is to run this year's pyramid race in under 2 hrs - which would be a HUGE improvement on my current best time of 2hrs 39mins!  Again I know this will take seriously hard work, effort and time.

Basically it boils down to my mindset.  I think by choosing to do everything I do the best I can - and live life to the full, not wasting moments or days by being lazy, or putting things off, but focussing on the goals and the reasons, then that is the secret to success.

During my 10 days of illness (lost voice and nasty chest infection and cold - nothing serious) I was frustrated because I couldn't exercise - and didn't have the energy to launch into action with my new year declutter and organisation plans.   It made me start to see all the little things that I don't do when I'm well.  Just little things around the house to keep it tidy, or taking extra time here and there to play with my kids. I saw clearly the number of times I don't do something because I can't be bothered - or I think I'll leave it till later.    It was 10 days of a realisation that I need to 'just do it' a lot more, and stop coming up with excuses.

Leaving small tasks (that I don't really want to do) to later, doesn't make them any easier, it just delays the discomfort of actually doing them.  Things like hand washing the few dishes that can't go in the dishwasher, or folding the washing to put away. They may sound like small things - but that's the kind of thing I leave till later....
Well no more. 

Now that I'm well and getting back into fitness - I'm going to 'just do it' every day - and enjoy the benefits!

Finally - I just need to recap my fitness for the week - for my own benefit to record what I've done and plan the next week!

I managed to get on the exercise bike on Monday and Tuesday and have a gentle 30 min cycle each day - slowly getting my muscles working again, but not pushing too much as I was still a bit blocked up.
On Wednesday we as a family meet with the local roadrunners club for a free 3km running session on the esplanade. Our girls enjoy this, and running at their pace was again good for me to be doing something, but not pushing too hard.
By Friday I felt well enough to do one of my favourite workouts - Spartacus! - this is a cardio weight circuit that takes about 35 mins and really works LOTS of different muscles!
On Saturday my legs ached a bit from Spartacus, but weren't too bad.  My husband and I did some gardening, which is always a good workout - digging and moving lots of stones!
Then today (Sunday) I got up early and went for a good 1 hr run (9.21km) - just around the streets, but we have some pretty good hilly streets here!
I was happy to do my first run of the new year - slower that usual, but I guess that's to be expected after an illness.  I was also very happy I finally managed to get the sports app on my mobile phone to work and tracked my run! (luckily last year I learnt how to add a zip pocket to shorts - and put one in my running shorts which is just the perfect size for my phone!)
It's pretty cool to be able to see how fast or slow I was going at each point, and to be able to measure how far I was running too!
This will be great for comparing the same runs as I repeat them and watch my progress!

So - for next week I need to do some form of exercise every day. I will do my spartacus workout twice, cycle in the evenings when I haven't done anything during the day. Run on Wednesday with the family on the explanade - and next Sunday repeat the same run as today, in a faster time, hopefully returning to more like the time I was running it in towards the end of last year.

Aside from fitness next week - I am super motivated to 'just do it' with all aspects of my daily life! So - this will mean a tidier house, time taken to prepare healthier snacks (instead of just grabbing the easy option of a bag of chips) and a focus on doing what's important and needs to be done first - not just what I would prefer to do first!

How about you? Are you still sticking to your new year's resolutions?  Are you motivated?  Can you change your life - in an instant to what you want it to be? Will you?