Heart Shaped Pocket Warmers Tutorial

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you my heart shaped pocket warmers which I made for Mary for the last Handmade Swap I participated in. Even though Spring has sprung here in Australia, I thought these might come in handy for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere who are just about to embark on your cool season.

So here is the tutorial of how I made them:

  1. Cut two heart shapes out of felt. I used a printed felt for the front and a solid yellow for the back.

2. Place hearts wrong sides together and stitch around the edge leaving a 2 cm opening.

3. Insert a funnel into the opening and pour in enough rice to fill the pouch.
4. Pinch opening closed and stitch opening closed.
5. When you are ready to use the pocket warmers, simply place in the microwave for 30 seconds on  high and insert into pockets.

These are a lovely gift for Christmas tied together with ribbon and a small gift tag explaining how to use them.
If you are looking for other easy to make gifts, I am running a free 30 minute workshop at the Brisbane Craft Fair 16th – 20th October 2013 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. It runs daily at the fair at 1.30pm in Workshop 4. I will be showing you 3 easy Christmas Gifts to make in 10 minutes or less. So if you are coming to the Fair be sure to stop by and say hi!

The History and Origin of Burlap

Burlap is a fabric with a rich history. Whilst it is unknown where the name Burlap came from, Hessian, as it is otherwise known, is said to have originated from Germany. The soldiers from a state in Germany called Hesse wore uniforms made from Burlap. And as such were known as Hessians – hence where the name Hessian came from.
Burlap is made from the fibers of the jute plant. Originating from India, where it was used for rope, it was the English that brought the plants back to Britain in the late 1700’s. It was in Scotland where it was first spun into yarn.
Soon India were running their own looms and produced Burlap cloth themselves and exported it to the rest of the world. More recently Pakistan and Bangladesh have also become major producers and exporters of Burlap.
In World War II Burlap was a popular material for camouflage on helmets. Burlap has also worked its way into popular culture with many artists using Hessian as a substitute for canvas, and it’s presence in many horror films as a mask.
You can see the humble Burlap sack is not so humble; it has a very rich history and evolved to become a significant part of our everyday life. These days Burlap is more readily known for it’s role as a protective sack for transportation of raw produce and it’s every growing presence in the interior design world.
So next time you see a piece of Burlap, spare a thought for it’s ancestors who have played such a critical role in our history.

Craft Workshops at the Melbourne Craft Fair

I recently went the the Melbourne Craft Fair. It was so exciting, a day on my own in the world of craft! Time absolutely flew, but I managed to squeeze in 3 workshops over the day. I was very proud to come home at the end of the day with my loot.

At the Brother stand I made a teapot pot holder which was really cute. At the Bernina stand I made an Orange free motion embroidered pillow complete with piping. I would love one of those machines!
And then I made a lampshade with No Chintz from Sydney. I choose a Marimeko fabric to cover it, which was gorgeous. It was my favourite make of the day, and I also bought a kit to make a pendant shade for our dining area at home. They’re super easy to make, I would recommend buying one of these kits and making your own if you are looking for a new lampshade.

It was such an awesome day, my soul was full by the end of the day! I was so inspired, I decided that I am going to have a stand at the Brisbane Craft Fair 16th-20th October. I will be selling my range of Burlap Bag Lady beginner sewing patterns and also memberships to The Handmade Swap. So if you are planning a day at the fair be sure to come past and say hello at The Handmade Swap Stand F18. I’m so excited!

Presents in the Post! The Handmade Swap

Last week I received the best present in the mail. It was my gift for The Handmade Swap. I was so excited to open it. Chris made me the most gorgeous apron, which will match perfectly with my new kitchen. Thankyou so much Chris!

If your not a member of The Handmade Swap and you would like to join and send and receive Handmade Gifts 5 times a year, you can join here.

My Swap Goodies! Ready to go for The Handmade Swap!

It’s been a busy few weeks with the Ekka and getting ready for my first swap in The Handmade Swap. The Handmade Swap is an organised craft swap in Australia where members send each other Handmade Gifts 5 times a year. It’s really cool and lots of fun.So this swap I had to send something to Mary who lives on farm and loves bright colours. So made her all these goodies and sent them off.

I made a document wallet out of Burlap, lined with a printed cotton with little chickens on it – perfect for farm business files! I love this document wallet so I am going to make the pattern available in my online store soon.

I also sent her two heart shaped felt pocket warmers. You just pop them in the microwave 30 seconds and then put them in your pockets to keep you hands warm, perfect for this time of year.

And then finally I made her a modern take on the old crochet tea towels. The hanging crochet tea towels are so practical (especially with a 1 year old in my house who pulls down the tea towel at least 6 times a day!), but I don’t know how to crochet. So this was my fabric interpretation of the crocheted tea towel. I think it turned out quite well, so I will also add the pattern for this soon.

I sent the items off about 2 weeks ago and yesterday received a lovely letter in the mail from Mary telling me how much she loved them all! Now I can’t wait for the next swap!

So with lots of patterns to get ready, it’s back to the studio for me!

Final Ekka Entry! Baby Burlap Doll Travel Cradle

Here is the last of my entries for the Ekka craft competition this year. For the Childrens Toy section I have made a Baby Burlap Doll Travel Cot.

This small bag, opens out and inverts into a stand up doll cradle!

I would like to claim credit for the ingenious design behind this cradle, but I can’t. A friend of mine recently showed me a knitted version that she had been given as a child. It was one of her favourite toys as a child and she had not seen anything like it since.

So I took it upon myself to create a Burlap Version. The great thing about sewing and crafting with Burlap is that you can use it to give your projects real structure and form. If you were to make this out of cotton, it would collapse when turned into the cradle position. But using Burlap, it stands really well.

I hope the judges at the show appreciate the dual functionality of this cradle. The Ekka starts next week, so I’ll let you know how I go.

It is a bit complicated to explain how to make, so I will work on a proper sewing pattern and put it in my pattern store soon.

This cradle got me to thinking about my favourite toys as a child. Most of the really memorable favourites were handmade. The timber crib for my dolls and washing line that my Uncle Dave made me, Maxi and Mini dolls that Uncle Dave’s Mum made me. What were your favourite handmade toys as a child? Have you made them for your kids? Let me know. I think we should restart the handmade toy movement! I’d love to hear about your handmade toys as I think my boys could do with some Handmade love!

Ekka Entry Number 2, Funky Fashion and Wearable Art Chevron Burlap Skirt

Last week I shared with you my first entry in the upcoming Agricultural Show Burlap Christmas Trees. This week I would like to share with you my entry in the Funky Fashion Wearable Art Category. My Chevron Burlap Cocktail Skirt.

I just love this Chevron design Printed Burlap, and thought it had great impact and would make a perfect statement piece. So it seemed the natural choice for the Funky Fashion Wearable Art category.

Last year I made a Burlap Cape with Free Motion embroidery for this category and managed to take out 2nd place. So this year I have my sights set on 1st place, but we’ll see!

I didn’t follow a pattern for the skirt, I just winged it as I went. If you are interested in making something similar I will give you the brief run down on what I did as a starting point.

Basically I measured waist to knee and cut a long strip of Burlap that width. I hemmed the bottom, sewed on two strips of ribbon. I then gathered the top and added two layer of tulle underneath (attached at the waistline) to give the skirt some structure. Then sewed the side seam together.

I then measured around my waist and cut another strip of Burlap that length by about 6 inches wide. I folded this in half long ways, wrong sides together. Stitch the ends together, then folded right side out. I then attached this to the top of the skirt, starting and ending at the side seam. I then inserted a zipper into the side seam from the waistband down about 5cm into the side seam.

I know that is a very rough guide, but that is pretty much all there is to it. If you don’t feel comfortable winging it, then probably best to purchase a pattern. Just make sure you allow for the skirt plus the tulle to give the skirt structure.

It’s not an everyday skirt as I think constant washing would ruin the stiffness of the skirt, but it is a fun special occasion skirt, perhaps for my next cocktail party….

Next week I’ll show you my last entry for the Agricultural Show.

In the meantime, I love to hear about anything you’ve made that would constitute Funky Fashion or Wearable Art! Let me know, I need inspiration for next year!