Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finished clutch for the Naughty Notions Clutch challenge!

Usually I try to post a tutorial on Tuesdays, but I'm afraid this week it just hasn't happened!  You know sometimes things work out -and sometimes they don't. This one was a don't!

So sorry, no tutorial today...
But here it is - my entry for the challenge:

My first attempt last week - just before heading off to Sydney for a few days holiday and a family wedding was a fail...
And now - back from the holiday my second attempt is better but I'm still not happy! 
I just managed to take a picture with the faults hidden....

BUT..let me distract you a little....

The holiday was fabulous - look at this view we had from the wedding venue..

Sady I didn't leave myself enough time for the challenge!
BUT- I will continue to work on my clutch pattern - and when I've a little more time and have it figured out - I'll post again with an updated new swankier better version - complete with tutorial!

If you missed my tutorial last week - I posted one to make a very basic shiny clutch from an old car windscreen shade - in 5 steps and 15 mins!
To see that tutorial go here!

But for now... Here's my entry for:

Thanks to Keren and Rikka for holding this challenge - I look forward to seeing all the finished entries!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Knowing when to take a break

This week's photo challenge theme was 'abandoned'!!  Well after thinking long and hard this is what I came up with..
Yes, sadly this is a corner of our garden which has been rather neglected.  It's part of my veggie patch, but in summer here the heat and humidity don't make great conditions for veggie growing (at least not with my meagre gardening skills, or lack thereof!) so the patch gets overtaken by weeds for a few months...
I chose to make the picture black and white because I thought it brought out the old and abandoned feeling more - a few extra effects added too just to try them out since premium effects on picnik are now free!

This photo and theme hopefully don't reflect my week of motivation and fitness however!!
At the end of last week I was feeling fit again after my nasty lost voice and cold -but unfortunately it came back a little this week!  I just couldn't kick the last of the stuffed up feeling in my nose, head and chest , and although when I exercise I feel better - I obviously wasn't getting any better, so decided my body just needed a few days break!  This coincided nicely with a family trip away to Sydney for a few days for a family wedding!  Just the break I needed!

But tomorrow will be my first full week with my girls back at school, and I've got lots planned to get done! The more I manage to exercise together with that each day, the more I know I will achieve!

Hope you've all had a great week!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning about advertising on blogs

Do you accept sponsors for your blog? Do you have Adsense or another advertising widget?
Of course many of us want to make money from our blogs and have added advertising in some shape or form.

I have Google Adsense on my blog - and I'm pleased to see as my stats grow, so is my income from that.  It's still small, but at least I've had my first payment from them and am well on the way to my second!  Small steps - but at least I can watch the progress and see the effect of growing my blog on the financial return there.

With sponsors - companies who pay a small fee to place their button or advert on my sidebar,  you have to be a little more active.  I run monthly feature posts for my sponsors and do encourage my readers to visit their sites.  I have turned down offers of sponsorship from companies that I don't think fit my blog and I wouldn't feel right promoting to my readers who may not find their products relevant.

I was delighted last week to receive an email from one of my sponsors who kindly shared with me their statistics showing what traffic they were getting to their site from mine.   This was great to see, as it showed what had or hadn't been effective in getting people to visit my sponsor.  Of course you want to send lots of traffic through so that companies will chose to renew their advertising on your blog.  

I learnt that to have separate feature posts for my sponsors, may not be the best form of promotion for them.  To add their feature to a regular popular post will help to gain exposure.
Also to add a link to older popular posts that get weekly visits is also an idea I'm trying now.  My tutorials are by far my most popular posts - and to add a relevant sponsored link to those posts does make sense!

If anyone has any ideas of tips on blog sponsorship or advertisng, then do share!  

What have you learned this week?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My new clutch and entry into the naughty notions challenge!

Well I've finally made a start on my clutch for the naughty notions clutch challenge!

My inspiration came from these clutches I have:
A simple silver one - the perfect size..

And this amazing one my husband brought me back from a trip to India a couple of years ago..

The challenge finishes on Tuesday - and I know I'm cutting it fine now - but will post my finished entry on Tuesday!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Back into daily exercise!

This photo is my entry into Suzy's 2012 photo challenge. The theme this week was rocks.  Well, I wasn't near any rocks this week -so used the ones by our pool around the newly planted pineapples.  I'm afraid I wasn't very inspired with taking the photo - so explored more effects on Picnik!

But onto my fitness for the week:
 I'm motivated and exercising well now - but annoyed that I can't kick the last dregs of this cold! Just a lingering cough, but slowly getting better! 

Anyway - my goals last week were to do my Spartacus cardio-weights circuit twice - yes I did this on Thursday and Saturday.
To exercise every day - yes I cycled on Monday night, did some skipping on Tuesday - not much at all - only 3 lots of almost 2 minutes - but I was exhausted!! Definitely something I can build up and practice! Funny I can run for 1 hour, but only skip for 2 minutes!!
I even went out afterwards and bought myself a fancy digital skipping rope - much better to have one my size than holding onto my daughter's rope with my fingertips to try and make it long enough!!

On Wednesday I went for our family 3 km run on the esplanade. The girls were motivated and ran fast this week! I went with the elder daughter and we did it in 20mins! Not bad for an 8 year old!

On Friday I mowed the lawn - which is pretty good exercise - 1 hour of pushing the mower through long soggy grass!! 
Then this morning (Sunday) I did my long run again...
More than 5 minutes faster than last week and getting close to my best time for this run again. This week it took me 59 mins and 31 secs!

A really good week of exercise - and I definitely feel my fitness returning !

Next week I'm having a trip away for a family wedding - so my goals are to fit in exercise as and where I can!

Hope you're havng a great weekend!

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Blogger reply to comments , improved watermarks and tables!

This week I learned a few things while blogging!
Most weeks here I post a sewing tutorial for which I generally use a lot of photos.  Until now I've been watermarking them using  Picmarkr.  The only problem with this is that you can only upload 5 photos at a time, which for some of my photo-heavy tutorials takes quite some time!
This week I found a new option which lets me watermark ALL my photos in one go, and so takes a fraction of the time!
I downloaded the free Kigo Image Converter, and it's made things so much easier!!  I can't believe it's taken me this long to find this!
How about you? What do you use to watermark your photos?

Another thing I learned this week is that Blogger added a reply to comments function to our blogs!  Now I try to reply to all of my comments - and have been doing this up until now by individual emails. But I've always thought it would be good if the replies could be seen on my posts too - like on wordpress.
Well - now they can! (at least I think they get emailed to the person who left the comment too!)
At the beginning of the week when I discovered this option was now available on Blogger, I changed my settings - made my comments 'embedded' rather than 'pop-up' so that I could use this function.  However, I couldn't then get into my comments at all!!  Some people were still managing to leave me comments - so something was working somewhere.  Also when I was visiting some people's blogs, it was jumping straight to the comment form rather than their post!  AND there were some blogs that I couldn't view individual posts at all!  Most frustrating when I was trying to visit all my Round Tuit party links!

Anyway - I figured this was just teething problems with the new Blogger function so switched back to a pop up box for my comments for now and all worked fine!   

Yesterday I decided to try again with the embedded comments but had the same problem so I searched it on Google.  I found that the issue was with internet explorer and firefox and was being worked on.  SOooo I switched to Google Chrome - which we also have installed on our computer (just an alternative to internet explorer) and all works perfectly!!!  So I've replied to a couple of comments to test it and it seems to work fine!  Phew!

One other useful thing I learned this week was from Pam at Threading my Way.  She linked up a wonderful post to my Round Tuit party this week about making tables in your blog.  Now I've been adding tables for a while now - but only copying and pasting chunks of html and slowly trying to figure out which bits do what and how to customise them a bit more.  Now Pam has saved me the trouble with her excellent tutorial! Thanks Pam!

A great week of learning some useful things!
What have you learnt this week? Not just about blogging - but anything?
(I also learnt how amazing my 6 year old's memory is too!!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Creative Space

Why is it that I always think I'm going to get more done and achieved when the kids are on school holidays - but in reality I get less done than when they are safely tucked away at school and I have the house to myself!??

I think the same every holiday - but it just never works out that way!

Anyway - I don't have much creative to report today.
I did make little keychain pouches for our MP3 players earlier in the week - tutorial posted here.

But other than that....

I spent little time today on this:
Our old desktop computer finally bit the dust over Christmas - but before the defunct keyboard (and even older and even more useless keyboard) got chucked, I had to prise off the letter keys...
I now have a bag of keys which looks rather like a bag of lego.  All because I saw someone had crafted some name tag bracelets from old keyboard keys once and thought it was a neat idea.....
Surely I can make something with all those lovely letters....

Mind you - it was pretty scary to see the 10 years worth of yeuky stuff under the keys!!

Just so as not to end this post on such a gross picture - here's one of my new soda stream which I got for Christmas - being christened with its first use!!

Starting the year USING my gadgets! not letting them sit in the cupboard all unloved! Now I just need to get out my pasta maker from the previous Christmas and christen that next...

I'll be linking up to Our Creative Spaces today if it's running - and looking for inspiration as the girls go back to school next week!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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!