Making this week…

dsc06071

This week, I have been trying to finish some projects to free me up for my Christmas crafting. It has been a bit stop, start at times, but this week:

*  I finished the dark blue satin table runners for the dining hall tables at our Christmas Fayre.  The runners are 2m40cm and the fabric doesn’t really iron well, so I had to do a lot of pinning before I could sew and now have a lot of bent pins to bend back into shape!

* I made a bit of progress on the little Phoebe mouse I started a few weeks ago. I am making two for my daughters for their Christmas presents.

DSC06091.JPG

*  I finished the crayon rolls I was making. The children wanted buttons on them this time, so I inserted a small piece of black elastic where I sewed the ribbon in the previous ones I made. They are going to purchase their own buttons to sew on.

DSC06060.JPG

*  I am so almost there on my youngest daughter’s Owlet. I got a bit stuck on the short rows but thanks to the helpful folk on Youtube, I am now well on my way to finishing it. It is getting so cold now, I want to wrap her up in it as soon as possible. I had a nice half an hour knitting whilst my daughter had a riding lesson yesterday.

dsc06093

As I write, I am drying some orange slices in the oven, which we are planning to hang on silver branches amongst the paper angels my eldest daughter made to sell at the Christmas Fayre this weekend. Aren’t they beautiful 🙂

DSC06062.JPG

I also need some for a garland. They are really easy to do and look and smell wonderful. Here is a quick explanation:

  • Cut the oranges into thin slices using a very sharp knife ( in my case a bread knife – our knives need sharpening!)dsc06075
  • Press them between two clean tea towels with the heel of your hands to extract some juice, but not too hard to break the middle. I did this with paper towels (my tea towels aren’t clean enough right now!)dsc06078
  • Arrange the orange slices on a metal rack ( such as a cooling rack), so that the air can circulate around them when they are drying in the oven. I used to use a baking tray, but I found they stuck a bit. If you do, turn them regularly.

dsc06081

  • Leave in an oven on the lowest temperature for 2-3 hours, checking every now and then and turning them if necessary. When they are nice and dry, take them out and do what you wish with them 🙂 They will still be a bit sticky, but this is fine. They will air dry with time and even darken in colour.

DSC06090.JPG

 Sadly my orange slices went soft and a bit mouldy in storage this year: they were in a plastic box with some salt dough ornaments that went soft – our eaves are rather cold/damp 😦  I would recommend storing them in a paper bag, or if they are in an arrangement,  don’t store them with salt dough in a damp place!!

I am making some sugar-free carob sweets (my children don’t eat chocolate) in Christmas moulds so my daughters can enjoy one a day in the run up to Christmas. I only have one Christmas mould and one star shaped mould, so I will have to make some more again tomorrow! I thought I would share the recipe with you as it is so easy and sugar free 🙂

DSC03061

        Ingredients:

  • 40g carob powder
  • 40g lucuma powder
  • 20g cococunt oil/butter
  • 120g cacao butter ( I put this in the freezer for half an hour before so it is easier to remove from the container!) 
  • Grated rind of one lemon or orange or a couple of drops of food grade orange or peppermint essential oil.

* Melt the cacao butter and the coconut oil in a bain marie on a low/medium heat.

* Add the carob, lucuma powder and rind/oil to the bowl. Mix well.

*  Turn off the heat and spoon into the moulds.

*  Leave in the fridge for 3-4 hrs or overnight to harden.

DSC06096.JPG

This makes 25-30 carob sweets

Couldn’t be easier and a really tasty sugar free treat is born! Even our chocolate loving friends enjoy these. 🙂

That’s about all for today. I am planning to post about our Advent preparations tomorrow.  Only two more sleeps until we start opening our lovely Advent calendars 🙂

Hope you are enjoying your crafting time as much as I do. 

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams

 

 

Dragon Catcher

dsc05191

My youngest daughter’s first grade class recently made some paper ‘Dragon Catchers’ which I mentioned in my Michaelmas post. You play with them like a cup and ball, but in this case you need to catch the dragon ( the tissue paper streamers) in the paper cup. I have scoured pinterest for them, but they aren’t anywhere obvious, so I thought I would share how the class made them here in case anyone fancies making one for next Michaelmas or just for their children to play ‘Catch the Dragon’ with 🙂

dsc05162

  • Firstly cut a square of about 22cm. Colour the square with crayons  on both sides in fiery colours ( Stockmar block crayons blend particularly well).
  • Find the centre and make a hole. Thread a 50 cm  length of yarn through it.

dsc05164

  • Fold the paper in half to make two triangles.
  • Then fold one flap down a little as seen above. ( Leave the other part up as this is the part that helps catch the dragon )  

dsc05165

  • Now fold one side across to meet the other side at the level of the flap you just folded down.dsc05166
  • Fold the other side across on top. (My eldest daughter taped this part down to stop it flapping up).

dsc05172

  • Tie a bead to the bottom of your yarn

dsc05173

  • Thread a bead onto the top of your yarn (there shouldn’t be too much movement, so choose the appropriate sized beed for your yarn).
  • Cut strips of tissue paper in fiery colours to  40cm lengths and fold in half.
  • Hold the strips together and tie them together right in the middle using the yarn as seen above.

And that’s it!
dsc05174

My eldest daughter made one for herself the same day so she could join in the fun. She had to improvise with the tissue paper that we had a home (!) and preferred other colours for the cup. These have been a hit around here. So simple, yet so effective.

Hope the instructions were clear enough. It’s a bit tricky to explain so my daughters modelled how to make them for me 🙂

A Waldorf crayon roll tutorial

Yesterday I handed in the seven crayon rolls I have been working on for children in my daughter’s first grade class at our local Steiner (Waldorf) school. I wrapped them up in tissue paper and yarn and labelled them for the individual child.

Today the children received their crayon rolls for the first time, in addition to their first six block crayons (two versions of the three primary colours). Their teacher made it very special for them and later told me the children were as spellbound as if it were Christmas – they were so grateful and happy to have their own shiny new crayons and a lovely new crayon roll to put them in : A great start to their ongoing adventures in colour and drawing. I love how Steiner (Waldorf) education meets the children at every stage of their development. The first grade children at 6-7yrs  are still in the “wonder years” and there is much wonder and beauty in the education during these years ( until the ninth year change) to reflect this.

I thought I would share a step by step tutorial today on how to make these crayon rolls, in the hope that it will be useful  and it’s always good to share 🙂

DSC05096.JPGdsc05105

Before I begin:  These instructions are for a small crayon roll ( 9 block crayons and 15 stick crayons) and a larger crayon roll ( 12 block crayons and 19 stick crayons). The seams are 1cm unless otherwise stated. I pin and then sew with my machine, but if you are inexperienced with the sewing machine, I would recommend tacking everything as you go before sewing. (It could be very carefully hand sewn, but I imagine machine sewing will improve the durability).

Top tip: Try not to use fabric that has a distinct pattern in one direction only ( like the elephants that I used for my daughter’s crayon roll – they ended up upside down on the inside!)

Materials needed:

  • 40cm of the main fabric and 40cm of the lining fabric.- recommended fabric cotton, upholstery fabric, baby cord. (The lining fabric should ideally be darker as the crayons tend to mark it over time). 
  • 40cm of batting, denim or upholstery type fabric thickness for stiffening.
  • 1 metre length of ribbon
  • Thread to match
  • Dressmakers chalk in a different shade from the fabric for marking.

 

  1. Cut both fabrics to  32cm x 50cm (for a smaller roll) or 32cm x 65cm  (for a larger roll). If you use cotton fabric you can cut and rip – see below. dsc05033dsc05034In that case iron the fabric.DSC05035.JPG
  2. Cut the batting, denim or upholstery fabric out to the same size.DSC05037.JPG
  3. Lay the batting/stiffening fabric down first, followed by the main fabric face up and then the lining fabric face down on top of that.DSC05038.JPG
  4. Pin all the way around to keep things in place ( and/or tack).
  5. Sew the whole way round leaving approx 10cm gap in the middle of one of the shorter sides for the ribbon – there is no need to finish the edges as they will be hidden away inside.dsc05039dsc05040
  6. Cut the corners.dsc05041
  7. Turn the whole thing inside out so the fabric is the right way around – use scissors to get into the corners if necessary.dsc05042DSC04676.JPG
  8. Press the fabric neatly with an iron to get it nice and flat. Tuck the open part in by approx 1cm so the edge is flush with the rest of that side. This is where the ribbon will go. dsc05043
  9. Turn the top of the fabric under by 4cm ( for the block crayons) and turn the bottom of the fabric under by 6cm ( for the stick crayons). Press with an iron and pin in place. dsc05044dsc05045
  10. Fold the ribbon in half. Slip the folded part 2cm inside the crayon roll and fold the open sides in neatly around it. Pin the open side and tack, paying particular attention to keeping the ribbon nice and straight( if your ribbon is patterned, put it in back to back).dsc05047
  11. Edgestitch all around the four sides, catching the ribbon and closing the open side as you go.  I back stitch once over the ribbon to make it extra secure. dsc05049dsc05052dsc05055
  12. Press the whole thing nice and flat before you go on, paying particular attention to the central panel. dsc05056
  13. Now use dressmakers chalk to mark out the sections. Allow 5cm for the block  crayons and 3cm for the stick crayons. (I found it seemed to vary between crayon rolls how many sticks I could get in, so play around with that a bit).dsc05057
  14. Now sew along the chalk lines. Make sure you stitch right over the turned up edge and backstitch a couple of times to secure the ends as it gets a lot of wear and tear. dsc05058dsc05059

And that’s it!  Here is the finished crayon roll!

dsc05062

Unfortunately the photos are a bit blurry as I took them in the evening and I only have an automatic camera, but I think it’s clear enough. If you have any queries about making the crayon roll, do get in touch. I am happy to help. Enjoy!

A simple lined tote bag tutorial

I have been meaning to share some free tutorials for things I make for a while and will share more shortly. Today I thought I would share how to make a simple lined tote bag with an internal pocket, as I have just made one for my daughter’s violin music and accessories.

Before I begin: the seams are 1cm unless otherwise stated. I pin and then sew with my machine, but if you are inexperienced with the sewing machine, I would recommend tacking everything as you go before sewing or hand sewing it neatly.

Materials needed:

  • 50cm of both fabric and lining fabric
  • cotton thread to match
  1. Cut out your material to the size that fits the contents. I cut my material to 42cm x 35cm. Cut the lining fabric to the same size. dsc04899
  2. Cut the material for the straps. My straps measure 50cm x 10cmdsc04903
  3. Cut a square of fabric for the inside pocket 22cm x 22cm.
  4. Place the two pieces of the main fabric on top of each other with rights sides facing and sew a 1cm seam on three sides, leaving the top open.There is no need to finish the edges as they will be hidden away inside the lining. Cut the corners at the bottom. dsc04909
  5. Fold over 1cm on each side of the pocket and iron flat. Then fold over another 1cm on the top edge. Top stitch.dsc04912dsc04914
  6. Place the pocket onto the lining fabric ( Right side up) and pin and edge stitch into place.DSC04915.JPG
  7. Now sew the lining pieces together on three sides as you did with the main fabric. (remembering to sew it right sides facing each other)dsc04916
  8. Press the side seams of the main fabric to the side with an iron and fold over the top edge by 2cm all the way around. Iron flat. DSC04919.JPG
  9. Do the same with the lining fabricDSC04920.JPG
  10. Now turn the main fabric piece the right way round, using scissors to get into the corners if necessary. dsc04911
  11. Pop the lining fabric inside the main fabric and match up the side seams. Pin into place along the top. DSC04921.JPGdsc04922
  12. For the handles, fold them in half lengthwise. Press with an iron and sew a narrow 1/2cm seam along the length.dsc04923
  13. Now turn them right way round, using scissors to get in there if necessary. dsc04924
  14. Press with an iron so that the seam is in the middle and on the inside. dsc04927
  15. Slip the handles 2cm inside the bag on either side and pin into place, remembering to keep the seams on the inside.dsc04929
  16. Edge stitch the whole way around the top of the bag, paying attention to keep the handles in position. I double pin mine, but if you are not too experienced, I would run a row of tacking stitches round the top to hold the whole thing in position, paying particular attention to the handles as the finished result will be better.

Et Voila!

Here is the finished tote with lining and pocket. Of course you could use a matching fabric to the lining for a more discreet pocket. 🙂

dsc04932

I hope this tutorial is clear. If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to contact me and I will clarify anything that may be unclear.

It is so simple to make,  it can be cut and sewn in a couple of hours. Instant gratification 🙂