A new year, a fresh start 2017

At the end of 2016, it's time to reflect upon the past year and look ahead to 2017.


2016 has been a good and busy year. We had a great family holiday to Japan, and plenty more family fun and experiences.  
Our girls had awesome years at school, achieving lots both academically and in all other areas too!

My blog this year

For me - it was a year when I put everything I could think of into my blog.  After 6 years, I feel like I've built it up into a great resource of sewing tutorials and upcycling inspiration. Slowly, over the years I've become more and more focussed with what my blog is about - and what I love to do. Sewing is not the main focus of my blog - although having created over 150 free sewing tutorials, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was!

I'm definitely an advocate of doing things in an environment friendly manner - reduce, reuse and recycle. But again this isn't the sole focus of my blog, just an aspect of it.

What me and my blog are all about is, 

Use what you've got

This is something I do and have always tried to do in all areas of my life. So here on the blog I sew and create things, 'using what I've got' on hand - materials and supplies I've recycled, been given, found in a charity shop etc.   In our home I try to use what we've got in the pantry, fridge and kitchen to make dinners, cakes, and snacks When we want things, our first stop is always to see if something we already have can be repurposed or reused before we consider buying.

I love to find and share stories - largely on Facebook, of companies and people I find who 'use what they've got'  - like the feature post I wrote about The Woolly Pedlar earlier this year - a lovely lady whose whole business is built on the concept of 
'using what you've got'!!

13 years of..

For the past 13 years I've been a stay-at-home mum. This was a conscious decision my husband and I made for our lifestyle. My 'job' if you like has been to be there for our kids - educating and supporting them in their learning and endeavours. I've helped them with projects, homework and extra curricular activities. I've helped out and volunteered a plenty at their kindergarten and school - everything from president of their kindy to manager of their sports teams.

In my time for myself over the years, I've renovated a couple of houses with my husband, and on my own I've built up a couple of blogs. This one - and also an education blog chronicling and sharing things I've done over the years with our girls to help their education and learning experiences. If you're interested to see that blog - go here to Be Our Best.

This blog - Creating my way to Success, started out as a hobby - somewhere to share my sewing creations, and has developed into a reflection of who I am and what I enjoy doing.  
I would love for this blog to be an income producing job for me - as I'm sure plenty people would love their hobby and personal interests to be. I've tried everything I can think of (and am willing to do) to make this the case, but sadly so far have been unsuccessful in making a lot of money from my blog. I do make a small amount of money from advertising, and sales of my e-books but not enough to live on!

I could go down the path of sponsored posts to earn money, but that's not something I'm comfortable with given my ethos of 'Use what you've got'. I don't want to promote all kinds of products that I myself don't use or wouldn't buy. Since a lot of my shopping is done at charity shops and I make things out of what I have and things like old clothes friends give me, there's not really much that fits my blog that I could comfortably promote and sell to try to make some money!

This year as I mentioned earlier, I've tried lots of new tactics to promote my blog. I've explored and pushed Pinterest, 

I ran a month long project with some blogging friends to use our social media followings to help promote each other's blogs - 
(36 shares in 36 days); 

and also hosted a major Christmas project with other fellow bloggers too - The 12 Days of Christmas DIY Challenges.

I've revamped and reorganised my blog - shared, promoted, linked and done all I can think of. I've had some successes here and there, but not enough to justify spending so much time on my blog any more. I need to try a new tactic.
"Success comes from doing things differently"


So, in 2017 there will be a big change for me.


Instead of doing casual work here and there and lots of 'volunteer work', I'm going back to a regular paid job teaching English as a foreign language.
After 13 years of teaching my girls, I'm looking forward to a new teaching challenge. The hours are within my girls' school days so I'm lucky with that and can still drive them around to all their various after school sports here and there and help out with those where needed.

So, this all means I won't have as much time to put into my blog and sewing.  I won't stop, but just do less.  However, having put SO much time into the blog this year and not seen enough of a return to justify the hours, I think that less time spent on the blog will be a good thing all round.  

Going back to regular paid teaching won't mean I'll be doing any 'more' than I've been doing, just different things. My hours will have to be a little more focused and a little less flexible, but again I think this may be a good thing and help me focus and maybe even get more quality stuff done!

My blog in 2017

So there you have my plan and big change for the New Year 2017.
I do hope you'll still come and visit my blog to see what I'm up to. I've got a list of several things I want and need to sew for myself and my girls this year; I'm going to continue my learning to crochet as I am enjoying it so far, and feel it's important to always continue to learn!  I also have plenty of tutorials and posts already here on the blog to share and browse through.

The Round Tuit party will still run each week 

and I'll still be on my Facebook page most days, sharing fun things, sewing, crochet and upcycle links and most of all ideas and inspiration to 'use what you've got'.

So how about you?

Have you had a good year in 2016? And do you have any exciting plans for 2017?  I'd love to hear what others are up to!

A flurry of snowmen!

Last month here on the blog we had the 12 Days of Christmas DIY Challenges. Each day the challenge was to make something for Christmas using what you had on hand.  
Challenge 5 was to take something from your shed or outhouse and turn it into a Christmas decoration.  I made a garden snowman from an old broken fence pailing.

It was so easy to make and looked so cute in the garden, that yesterday my girls made me a few more from other fence pailings we had!

They had fun making them - adding their own touches with different shaped eyes, noses and buttons!
So now we have a whole row of snowmen standing by our pool!

And some new solar lights to add to the effect!

Have you ever made any Christmas decorations from something in your shed? Or do you have any ideas or inspiration to make something this year?

More Upcycled Reusable Christmas Cards

Yesterday I made a few more upcycled reusable Christmas cards to post to family members.

I used a pair of old jeans I got from the charity shop for $1 and fabric scraps I already had, plus cereal boxes I've been collecting for a few weeks!

I stuck to very simple designs this year, making use of Christmas fabric I had.

If you haven't seen my reusable Christmas cards before - they have this message sewn on the back so the recipient knows the idea behind the card!

They have a clear plastic pocket inside where you can slip in a piece of paper with a greeting on.

 I sent my first batch of these cards last Christmas, and I'm curious to see if this year anyone reuses them and perhaps returns one to me !?

To see the cards I made last year and a tutorial showing how to make these cards - go here.
And two more I made this year - you can see here.

Do you make your Christmas cards each year? 
What materials do you use to make yours from?

To see lots of other ideas for an eco-friendly and budget Christmas - you can visit my page:

Travel Advent Calendar Sew-along Day 5

Day 5
Today we're going to finish our Travel Advent Calendar!

You have all your pages ready.
Place them together as they will be for the finished book.
Make sure the cardboard is pushed firmly to the end of each page.

Make sure all the pages are evenly lined up and then pin down the spine, close to the cardboard pieces.

Now stitch along your pin line.
I recommend changing your sewing machine needle for this for something like a denim needle that can cope with all the thick layers of fabric.

Take the piece of fabric you cut in the beginning for the book  binding (19 x 7 cm (7 x 3 ").

Fold it in half, wrong sides of the fabric together, length-ways and stitch across the top edge with a 3/8" seam.

Now leave this inside out and slip it over the 'spine' of the book, Mark with a pin, where the 'spine' reaches up to.

Take your 'binding' off the spine again and stitch where you have pinned to form a pocket for the spine of the book.

Before adding the binding to the book, trim the top and bottom edges a little.  This will help the book to sit flat when it is opened out for use.

Now turn your binding piece right sides out and slip the spine of the book into it. Fold in the raw edges and pin.  This is quite a fiddly bit and does take a little patience!

Then finally, stitch the binding onto the spine of the book.
You may also want to use your zipper foot to be able to stitch nice and close to the cardboard pieces inside the book. Again patience is required here as your needle has to go through several layers of fabric. I found I turned the wheel on the side of my sewing machine manually at the start to get the needle going!

And that's it!  You've finished!!!

This year I decided to put some Christmas jokes in each pocket for my girls for the 24 Advent days - For a free printable copy of these 24 jokes, click here. You can then simply cut out the jokes and slip them into the pockets.

If you missed the earlier parts of this sew-along

Day 1 can be found here.
Day 2 can be found here.
Day 3 can be found here.
Day 4 can be found here.

I hope you've enjoyed this advent calendar sew-along.

I'd love to see your version of this if you make one!

Travel Advent Calendar Sew-along Day 4

Day 4
Today we're going to create the page pockets for our Travel Advent Calendar.

First of all match up 6 pairs of pocket pieces and 1 piece of cardboard each. 

Place each pair right sides facing together, lining up the edges. Pin then around 3 edges, leaving what will be the spine of the book open - this is where you will slip in the pieces of card.

Make sure that the numbered pockets are sitting closest to the edge you will stitch and not leave open!

Stitch the 3 edges with a 3/8" seam allowance.

Once you have stitched your pocket, trim the corners, 
then turn it right sides out and slip in a piece of card.  The card should fit snugly, but you may need to trim it a little, depending how accurate you've been with your cutting and stitching. (I had to trim mine!!)

Repeat this for all 6 page pockets.
When you come to the back inside cover, you will need to add the elastic piece. 

Place it on top of your inside back pocket piece and pin securely as you cover this with your back cover piece. 

Make sure when you stitch around the edges here, run your stitching backwards and forwards over the elastic to secure it in place as this will be pulled and tugged somewhat when in use!

Once you have your cardboard inside all 6 pockets, you've finished day 4 of the Travel Advent Calendar Sew-a-long.

Come back tomorrow to finish off your Advent Calendar Book!

Day 1 can be found here.
Day 2 can be found here.
Day 3 can be found here.
Day 5 can be found here.