My year of change

This year I have gone back to paid work teaching English as a foreign language, after several years staying home to take care of our children and doing various flexible casual jobs and working on my sewing and blogs from home. It's been a big change working set hours again but I've really enjoyed the change and the new challenge.

I haven't managed to do much sewing this year at all. I did make a toy hammock for my youngest daughter which she loves and it's great for keeping at least some of her cuddly toys out of the way!

Aside from that, all I've done sewing-wise this year is fixing and mending.  I do keep looking at my sewing machine which is hiding under its cover and thinking about the cupboard full of fabric and bits and pieces I have and wondering what I'm going to do with it all.

I'd also like to get back to learning to crochet, which I've been slowly working on for a couple of years now but has fallen by the wayside this year!

I am going to continue teaching which takes up most of my time, but I do want to get back to some sewing and make use of all the fabric and other resources I have. This is my problem and challenge to figure out a plan for over the next few weeks.

We're soon heading off on a big family trip to New Zealand which will be a lovely break and a big chance to reflect on this year which has brought a lot of change into my life. 
I want to continue to develop my blog to reflect those changes and the new direction. I still have the strong philosophy of 'use what you've got' so I'll be taking stock of everything I have from physical and material resources to my own personal abilities and talent and trying to mesh them all together to form a knockout plan for 2018!

So watch this space!
Have you had any big changes of direction in your life?  What are they and where are you headed to now?

I'd love to hear your thoughts too!

Christmas Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Christmas is my favourite 'celebration time' of the year. I love the build up, the excitement, the decorations, the music and all the fuss. BUT what I don't like is the sky-rocketing cost of Christmas both financially, to buy so many gifts, cards, decorations, clothes etc; but also the environmental cost of the throw away plastic stocking filler toys, the endless packaging, the throw away gift wrapping and overall excess and resulting wastage.  

Yes you can now buy cheap Christmas goodies - ornaments, stockings, decorations etc - but images and stories (like this one from the Huffington Post) about where these cheap Christmas things are made provide even more of a reason to make things yourself! Do you want a plastic, artificial Christmas mass produced in China, or a more personal handmade - eco-friendly Christmas just the way you want?

Christmas shouldn't cost the Earth

I believe you can celebrate Christmas in a big way and in style without it costing the Earth.

You can  'use what you've got'  to make and create decorations, gifts, foods etc and do it all in an eco-friendly and sustainable way by using what you've got and being smart.

Click on the pictures and links below to see more.

There is also a group Pinterest board where I invite anyone to add inspiration they find for an Eco and Budget Friendly Christmas. There are already heaps of ideas there - come and take a look!

And here are some tutorials for things to sew for Christmas, at little or no cost - 

Use What You've Got!

6 Super Novelty Gifts you can make yourself

At Christmas time the shops are full of all kinds of special novelty gifts to give.  They are generally fun things to give and have, but not really useful or needed.  Now I love the excitement of Christmas including the gift giving a lot, but try to be mindful in the gifts I'm giving that I'm not being wasteful either with money - or to the environment.  So I decided to see what 'novelty gifts' I could make myself - at a cost of next to nothing, using scrap fabric and supplies I had at home.  These gifts make great stocking fillers or perhaps Secret Santa gifts, Plus they are all small and light which is great for posting overseas!

I hope you can find some inspiration here to make your own 'novelty' gifts this year and save a little money - and reduce waste for the environment!

If you like the look of these tutorials, why not take a look at 
Where there are over 150 free sewing tutorials for making all manner of things and for all levels of sewing ability. Maybe you can find other gifts to make!

Teaching your kids to sew

Over the years my two girls have shown an interest here and there in learning to sew. This interest comes and goes but I always make sure to grab the moments when they're keen and interested and help them give it a go and learn. I believe that learning to sew - and other crafting skills are valuable ones for kids to learn.

But back to my girls sewing. Over the years, they've made a few things pencil cases are always a favourite:

I've encouraged them to design their own things too - here's ...well..ok, another pencil case, designed by my younger daughter:

And a cuddly turtle, designed and made my by youngest.

There were other things they made - it just seems to be the pencil cases I took pictures of!

Then a couple of years ago, I decided to put together an e-book which was a short course for kids to learn to sew. Something with a bit of structure to help kids (or indeed adults) learn some basic sewing skills which would enable them to sew all kinds of different things - particularly learning to follow tutorials as there are so many great tutorials available online now - you can learn to make just about anything!

My girls agreed to be the 'pattern and tutorial testers' for my book. After I had written each individual tutorial, I would give it to them to try and follow and make the item themselves. They would then be able to give me feedback on what they found easy or difficult and I could adjust the patterns and tutorials accordingly.

I decided to incorporate my favourite thing and one I'm passionate about into this learn to sew book too - clothes upcycling.  So the contents of this e-book can be made using an old pair of jeans and some co-ordinating fabric.  

My girls both had a pair of coloured jeans that they'd grown out of that they wanted to use - and they chose their own matching fabric to use with them.  
We had a lot of fun with creating this e-book together, and the girls learnt a lot about sewing too!

Here are all the things they learned to make following the tutorials in my e-book. Those in the picture below are the ones I made as examples while I created the tutorials - and I also used a coloured pair of jeans!

This e-book is available as a FREE PDF download.

To get your copy just click here.

So why not help your kids learn a useful lifelong skill and make some fun things along the way.

Happy sewing and upcycling!

4 Things to make with Faux Fur

A few years ago I started making these cute little furry creatures, which I called Little Jems.  

They are made from a section of drainpipe covered in faux fur scraps, and can be used for holding all kinds of little trinkets,  or perhaps as a desk tidy, or even a novelty can holder!

This in turn led to more sewing with faux fur, and a house full of fluff flying everywhere as I sewed!!

I then found other things to sew with the faux fur. Pretty much anything I made was a hit with kids, and I have to admit to having lots of fun choosing from the amazing range of colours and patterns of faux fur you can buy!!
Here are some of the things I made - with tutorials in case you want to try making your own!!

And Furry Animal Backpacks.

And last but not least I even made a furry fabric drinks holder for myself!!

Have you ever sewn with faux fur??
What have you made?

If you like the look of any of these sewing tutorials, why not check out all my other ones? There are over 150 Free Sewing tutorials available on My Free Sewing Tutorials Page.