Friday, May 31, 2013

May in review - my small successes and looking forward to June

I had big plans for May.
I was going to have a big push on my blog; I had big ideas.

May however, was a big month personally. I had my parents visiting and staying with us from the UK.  I only see them around once a year, so it's a special time when they're here and lots of things fall by the wayside so that I can spend time with them.
I also turned 40 - and had a lot of celebrations for that too!

In short - that's my excuses out of the way as to why I didn't do all I'd planned to do for my blog this month!

In spite of all my excuses....I did however manage to achieve a lot on my list!

I decided this month to close my little shop and make all of my sewing tutorials available free of charge.
I'm SO glad I did this for reasons I've mentioned before. And seeing all the traffic these tutorials have already generated in the first few weeks of being available for free, is just brilliant!

I'm also almost finished updating all my other sewing tutorials. I'm setting up new pages with categories to make all the tutorials easier to find and browse through. All my tutorials will also available as PDF downloads too! That should be completed next week!

I've also managed to encourage more people to link up to the clothes upcycling linky and very soon will be able to retitle it 

500+ Clothes Upcycling Projects!

Just a few more links needed to get there - so if you have any clothes upcycling projects you haven't linked up yet then please head on over and link up!!!

But that was May.....

 June is going to be a big month.

One of the lovely presents I got for my birthday was this lovely new camera:
In June - I'm going to have a good play around with it and learn all it can do, practise, practise, practise and improve my photography skills - and through this improve the visual side of my blogging!

Also in June, I'm going to be using another of my birthday presents... I'll be working through 'The Asylum"

I'm really looking forward to this 30 day workout programme.  I did another Insanity workout programme at the end of last year - 60 days and LOVED it!  The discipline of following the programme every day really spilled over into other areas of my life too - and exercising every morning really set me up for a productive day!
Bring it on!!!

I have my new weekly clothes upcycling posts starting tomorrow. I'll be taking clothing, item by item and bringing together all the information and ideas I can find each week for each item to build up a new comprehensive resource for upcycling clothes.

I have more sewing tutorials made and planned - so more to add there.
Also, the weekly
is growing and is continually a fabulous source of inspiration and a great way to meet and get to know other creative bloggers!

I'm also exploring creativity itself in weekly posts and challenges.

I'm enjoying making my weekly Sunday motivation pictures - and choosing quotes to add to them!  My new camera will help me with this!

I'll be continuing my crochet learning together with my younger daughter as we try to make more amigurumi, like this cute and colourful ducky! We'll post about our progress and creations.

I'm also determined this month to explore and use social media more - so that means Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Instagram!

Personally in June our family is set to have a relatively quiet month - with no big plans or events - so it's a good time for me to power full-steam ahead and concentrate a lot of my efforts on my blog.

My parents leave today to return to the UK after a wonderful visit.

Then, this weekend we're spending time with another family who share our love of fitness. Some of their family and my eldest daughter and I are competing in a triathlon together on Sunday.

It's my first ever triathlon - and my daughter's first with a swim in the sea.
We have to swim 300m, bike 10km then run 2.5km.
We're both nervous but excited!
It's going to be the perfect start to what is going to be an amazing month of pushing myself and seeing what I truly am capable of doing!

I hope you've all had a great month of May - and are looking forward to June too!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Lesa Bag - a free tutorial

This bag I made on a request from one of my girl's swimming coaches - Lesa - hence the bag's name!
 She had an old favourite bag that was falling to bits, but she wanted to replace it with the same style bag and couldn't find one.
So I got the old bag and worked out my own pattern and made her one just the same - from an old pair of jeans:

Good tough fabric - and lined with a pretty maroon - also upcycled, from an old dressing gown!

When figuring out the pattern for this bag - I made a few trial versions - one went to my mum and one is the bag I use myself most day to day!  A great selection of pockets, the perfect size - and nice and sturdy in either denim or upholstery fabric!

The pattern does cut out nicely from an adult sized pair of jeans, so it's a great upcycling project! 
 (You may need to join two pieces of fabric together to make the larger back panel for the bag, or cut across both sides of one of the leg seams as I did here:)

Or, pick your own pretty fabric to make this great bag!

To download your own FREE PDF version of this pattern and tutorial,

If you like this bag - there are plenty more bag patterns available on my free tutorials pages.

I also offer 3 bonus bag tutorials exclusively to my

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weekend clothes upcycling

We all have clothes in our wardrobe that we never wear. Perhaps they don't really fit, or perhaps our taste has changed since we bought them.
Those of us with kids also know how fast they grow out of their clothes - but equally how they have their favourite t-shirt or shorts that they just don't want to part with.

Upcycling or refashioning clothes is a great way to extend the life of these types of clothes - either as a 'changed' item of clothing or as something completely different.

You can break down clothing upcycling into categories:

  • Alterations - where the item of clothing remains the same item, but is changed or altered in some way to make it 'better' or more suited to the wearer.

This could be as simple as adding embellishments to hide stubborn stains or holes.

Or altering the size of the clothing item to fit - perhaps when someone has lost weight, or your style tastes have changed:

 - or kids have grown..

  • Next comes upcycling clothes into a different clothing item.

For example - a shirt to a dress:

a t-shirt to a dress

or even a sweater to a skirt:

  • Finally there's upcycling clothing into something completely different.

There are heaps of examples of clothes upcycled into bags.

Then there's quilts that are made from clothing with special memories.

Jewellery made from old clothes:

And even art.

Upcycling has always been around. Initially it was done out of financial necessity, for example using old worn clothing items to make patchwork quilts.  Think of "The Sound of Music, when Maria made clothes for all the children from old curtains! When people couldn't afford to just go out and buy whatever they wanted - they used what they had, upcycled, refashioned and created their own!

Nowadays if your shirt is worn, torn or just just decide you don't like it any more - chances are you'll throw it out and just go and buy a  new one.

What a waste! 
Not only is clothes upcycling thrifty, but it's also eco-friendly - reducing landfill, chemical pollution, energy consumption and huge amounts of water usage from new fabric and clothing production.

Next week I'm starting a new series of clothes upcycling posts that will look at individual clothing items in turn and ways in which they can be upcycled.  I will also add a linky to each post so others can add their own projects and ideas to each theme.
My aim is to create a useful resource that is easy to navigate and find ideas and information to encourage clothing upcycling.

Next week - on June 1st, I'll kick off with looking at upcycling jeans.

In the meantime - please do have a look at the general clothes upcycling linky which has close to 500 ideas and projects to browse! A great source of inspiration!

So why not take a look in your wardrobe and clear out some clothes that you never wear! Then come back each week for ideas and inspiration as to what you can do with them!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Support from friends

The people you surround yourself can have such a big influence on you and your attitude to what you're doing and trying to achieve.

I'm not taking the traditional route of a regular job, or buying a small business. I am trying to create my own pathway to success, doing what I enjoy, am passionate about and believe in.

 Yes, I have lots of plans, ambitions, and I try a lot of different things to try to work towards those. Plenty of those actions don't work, or I don't stick to for long enough to see results. But at least I am trying!

Maybe I've worn out a lot of people's patience and belief in me.
I can understand why people scoff at me when I say - "this time" or unveil my latest plan and they roll their eyes as if to say, "here she goes again."

But has everyone who has ever been successful got it right first time?
Neither have I - but it doesn't mean I'll stop trying and working towards my goals, and I WILL get there!

I have the determination and perseverance to keep going - but I also need support and belief from others too.

I need to focus on the support I DO get.

People who believe in me despite my own self doubts.

I NEED people like that in my life - people who will remind me of who am I and who I can be, when doubts start to creep in.

So thank you to everyone out there who has ever left me a positive comment.  Each small comment makes a big difference and boosts my confidence and my will to continue on towards success.

I need this support and truly appreciate it!

I couldn't do it without you!

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cloth rice bags - several different creative uses!

Ta Da...

Last week I mentioned that I had several of these cloth rice bags:
And had decided it was time to stop hoarding them and find uses for them!

Here's what I came up with..
A Rice Bag for aching muscles, joints or just for keeping us warm in winter!
I just snipped off the bottom portion of one of the bags, filled it with rice and sewed up the top!

Then I made...

A Mug Rug
Using the front and bag of one of the bags, with a layer of scrap fleece sandwiched between and plan scrap fabric sewn together to make a strip long enough for the binding!
(Please don't look too closely at my binding - it's shockingly bad, and one day I'll knuckle down to practice till perfect!)
Notice the cute mug which I was given for my 40th birthday last week!! :)

I also made a set of...
(using my own tutorial and a pair of back jeans pockets)

And finally these bags are great for...well...just plain bags 
- with an added touch of a handi-pocket
 (see my tutorial for the Christmas Handibag as to how this pocket works) 
so they can be slipped in bags or the car glove-box for emergency use!

I also used a couple of the bags to store various left over plastic party plates, cups and napkins we have..

Much neater and easier to put away in the cupboard now!

AND I sent my daughter off with one of these bags to her school camp!  On her list of things to take was a 'dilly bag'

dillybag or dilly bag is a traditional Australian Aboriginal bag, generally woven from the fibres of plant species of the Pandanus genus.[verification needed]. It is used for a variety of food transportation and preparation purposes. (source - Wikipedia)

She needed one of these 'dilly bags' to keep her camp plate, mug, bowl and cutlery in when not in use - and one of these bags fit the bill perfectly!!

So now I have three solid zips, from the bags I used the fabric from, and a two and a half bags left over!

Not a bad attempt at using up these bags!

Thanks to those of you who commented last week with suggestions of what I could do with these bags.

Megan from Meggipeg said:

"I use these rice bags for my picnic set. Plates in one, cups and plastic wine glasses in another and cutlery in a bag that I cut to size and restitched. It keeps the sand out and it's easy to find everything in my big picnic basket. I look forward to seeing what you do with them."

and Sassss said:

I love doing things like this! A few ideas of the top of my head would be cloth napkins, herb filled eye bags (to keep in the freezer for a cool compress for fevers, burning, aching, puffy eyes), hot compresses, filled with dried kidney beans (to warm in microwave or oven), sprouting bags for growing your own wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts, etc. All things to save money & theplanet, lol. 

You can melt 1 part beeswax & 4 parts thin, food safe oil (peanut oil would be good for this)together & 'paint the bags with it. Allow them to dry & use in place of plastic sandwich bags.

Although I did come up with a few different uses for these bags - I realised that I just thought of uses that involved things I've done before - ie  pot holders, handi-bags and mug rugs, and a rice bag.  I don't feel that I was overly creative - perhaps I'm getting a bit stuck in a creative rut......

I definitely do feel like I need a 
fresh outlook 
and a
burst of creativity
Time to explore a little more and see what can help me with that!

Any suggestions very welcome!

I'll be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons can be found at the bottom of this page and whose direct links can be found on my linky party page.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Little Jems - free tutorial and pattern

What is a 

Little Jem?

This is...
You might recognise this little character from my old profile picture!

I started making these Little Jems a few years ago, when a friend and I had a market stall to sell some of our handmade goods.
My Little Jems were always a best seller. They were popular with both girls and boys - and were also bought as novelty gifts for adults too!

They are made with scraps of PVC drainpipe, fur, velour and a little stuffing - although other fabrics can be used!

They aren't just cute little cuddly creatures - they are also little storage containers..
They can be used as desk tidies..

Jewellery holders...

or even as drinks holders:

They can be made in any colour and have been well loved and a big hit with the many kids who have bought them or received them as gifts over the past few years.

So, why am I telling you all this?
Well, I've decided to make a pattern/tutorial so that others can make  these little Jems for themselves.

I no longer have my market stall, having decided to put all my efforts instead into my blog.

But these Jems are too cute to stay hidden in Far North Queensland, Australia.

 My tutorial and pattern to make these Little Jems is now available for FREE here on Creating my way to Success.

It also includes the templates for the tags I used to sell them - and ideas for developing the pattern too.


Would you like your very own Little Jem? or do you know someone who would?

They are a tried and tested item to make for sale in markets..

Loved by kids for their soft cuddly fur, cute faces and neat storage inside!

Their uses are many and varied:

Limited only by your imagination!

To get the FREE tutorial and pattern download,

I do hope you have fun making these little guys - and if you do, please do send me pictures! I'd love to see them!

Happy Sewing!