Draw string bag tutorials

I went home to visit my family last weekend, and while I was there I had a bit of a sewing session with my mum. She’s meant to be doing a sewing workshop soon, and felt she needed some prep before she went. We used this old Singer machine, which used to belong to her mum, but she passed it on as she no longer uses it. We had it serviced, and it runs really nicely now.old singer sewing machineMy mum decided she wanted to make a little bag to put the pedal and wires in. So we raided her as yet quite small sewing stash, and used one of the fat quarters I bought her for Christmas! For maximum practice, we also sewed on a pocket decorated with an appliqué owl, and a long hidden pocket inside for scissors. sewing on pocketHere’s the finished item, complete with Bryn the dog. I’ve also found some links to some different types of draw string bags on Pinterest. They all have great instructions, enjoy!completed draw string bagDraw sting bag tutorials

My mum sent me a picture this morning of another bag she’s made, this time with cat appliqués. I think she may be addicted!

DIY Kimono top

My friend and I timetabled in a crafting day to make Christmas presents, and I sent her a link to my Pinterest page. I had linked up some ideas based on the original conversations we’d had about what she wanted to make. In the meantime, I’d pinned a Kimono pattern, and she decided she wanted to have a go (I will point out she went on to say she had not sewn since school)!

We used this pattern from By Hand London as a guide – it is very good but we made a couple of minor alterations. We used some peacock chiffon fabric from Fabricland. This terrified me, as I have never sewn such slippy fabric. But this whole experience has weirdly made me less afraid of taking sewing risks. Normally I over-analyse myself out of doing things, as I worry they will not be perfect or too difficult, but my friend just jumped straight in, and had no worries about the potentially nightmare fabric. I really enjoyed showing her how to use the machine and learn to sew. She was also far less critical about my sewing abilities than I am about myself, which boosted my confidence!diy kimonoAnyway, these are the amends we made to the original tutorial. I apologise for the shocking photos, but it has been dark and rainy all day…

  1. We drew the pattern on pattern paper first, and cut out as suggested in the original tutorial (two sides at once). We used a combination of pins and masking tape to stop the fabric slipping. Once the T shape was cut out, we then unfolded it, and cut out the front neck v, as shown in the picture. cutting out front of kimono
  2. We used the measurements suggested, but instead of making the bottom part triangular as in the original, we just made it straight.
  3. We zig zagged all the raw edges, as the fabric was very frayable.
  4. Because the fabric was so floaty, I made the executive decision to edge the neckline and armholes with bias tape. I thought that would be more stable than normal hemming. Fortunately, I had meters of the stuff in a nice purple colour which matched the fabric really well. We hemmed the bottom normally, as my friend has got some black fringing to finish it off by hand, and I felt really vindicated by my decision as it was a bit of a wibbly hem! The bias armholes have also made everything look a bit more structured.

I have kept the pattern and want to make one of my own now. I have some nice satiny navy and white fabric I got ages ago, which I think will work really well. I would also use either satin or velvet bias tape too (MacCulloch and Wallis have some lovely bias tape to choose from).

Russian doll pencil case

Do you remember my Russian doll fabric?  As promised, I had a think about what to use it for, and finally got round to making it into a pencil case. russian doll fabricI used this amazing tutorial from Rachel at Transient Expression.  The instructions are by far the clearest ones I came across for a lined pencil case, and the overall project was very easy (even the zip which I usually dread!) Russian doll pencil caseAlong with the Russian doll fabric, I used an old pillow case which is a great colour match to make the lining.  It is a great little project to use your scraps up, and there is lots of scope to make bigger items like a makeup bag, or a smaller one like a coin purse.


DIY pyjama trousers

I am far too pleased with myself today, as I have made my first functional item of clothing!  Well, pyjama trousers anyway.  I used an old sheet, and cut the fabric so I didn’t have to hem the bottom of the legs (lazy me).pyjamas on washing lineThey are not quite perfect (I have high standards!) but I will be building on the experience to make even more exciting things in the future.  I used a couple of Pinterest tutorials, from Gluesticks and My Cotton Creations to help with the engineering of it.  I took pictures throughout the process, but the earlier photos were taken when it was quite dark, so they are not very good quality.  The later ones are much better!  Hopefully the process makes some sense though.


  • Fabric (measure your existing pjs and a bit extra to work out how much fabric you will need)
  • Wide elastic (enough to fit around your waist comfortably)
  • Pattern paper
  • Pins, cotton, fabric scissors
  • A pair of pyjama trousers which fit


  1. Trace around one leg of a pair of pyjama trousers on your pattern paper, and add a seam allowance around the curved leg seam.  Also, don’t forget to add a couple of inches at the waist, to accommodate the waistband.
  2. Fold your fabric, and line straight edge of your pattern against the folded edge.
  3. folded trouser legI took a genius tip from David from the Great British Sewing Bee.  He suggested taping your pattern onto the fabric instead of pinning it.  Pinning seems to be where I panic, and I end up making the fabric slip out of shape.  Taping the pattern and then cutting the fabric made life so much easier – no slipping and it also saved so much time.  I’ll definitely be trying it again.  I used normal masking tape, as it was only on the fabric for a short time, it was fine.masking tape pin
  4. TIP – When you cut your trouser legs, make sure you have a left and a right one, especially if you’re cheating like me and use an existing hemmed edge! trouser legs
  5. With the fabric right side together, pin the inside leg seams and sew to the bottom of the crotch.  Finish with a zig zag stitch to reduce the likelihood of the fabric fraying.
  6. Now for sewing the crotch, I used Gluesticks methodology, which is to keep one of your trouser legs inside out, and then insert the other trouser leg into the first one, so right sides are facing each other.  Gluesticks explains better than me!  Line up the leg seams, and then pin and sew the crotch seams.  I double sewed the crotch to give it a bit more strength.  Zig zag the edges to reduce the likelihood of fraying. pinned pyjama crotch
  7. Once you have finished the crotch seam, put your trousers the right way round.  Try them on, and pin where your waistband needs to be.  Measure out and cut your elastic.
  8. Fold over the fabric for your waistband, and tuck the raw edges under.  Pin in place and then sew.  Make sure the waistband is wide enough to accommodate your elastic. TIP – leave a gap of around 2 inches around one of the seams to insert and pull out your elastic.pyjama waistband
  9. Pull the ends of the elastic out, sew them together and tuck them back into the waistband.  TIP – make sure the elastic has not been twisted in the waistband, and is straight before you sew it together.  Sew the gap in the waistband together. folded pyjama trousers
  10. You could add embellishments if you want, such as a lace or ruffled hem.  My Cotton Creations gives instructions on how to make a nice ruffle edge.  You could also make them Capri length or short length.  Shorts are on my list to try, as I have some pillowcases which would work well!  This idea can be scaled up or down, according to size, just make sure you have enough fabric to hand.  I’d love to hear from you if you try making a pair yourself.

Tshirt yarn bag

Ta da!  My tshirt yarn bag has been finished, what do you think? tshirt yarn bagAs you can see, I ended up using ALOT of tshirts, I got about 3 UK treble rows out of each tshirt.  The bag is quite roomy though – the perfect size for a beach bag.  To finish it off, I added one of my last ceramic buttons, this one has a screw pattern on it.  The handle was made from the hemmed edges of the tshirts, which I plaited together, and knotted into place at on the sides of the bag. button fastener on tshirt yarn bagI have a plan to make a smaller purse, and I will be posting a tutorial.  However, I have just had my nails shellac-ed and I don’t want to damage them, and tshirt yarn crochet is very rough on your nails!

DIY Canvas Artwork

As part of the great living room revamp, I have been on the lookout for a nice piece of artwork to go on the wall.  Now everything I have seen has been too small, too expensive or too generic (you know – the same as everyone else who shops in Ikea).  So I finally bit the bullet and had a go myself, and I am mightily pleased with the result.

It all started out with a minor debate in the hardware shop as we decided on what colours to go for.  We were limited to the Dulux tester pots as they were 3 for £3!  This colour chart was our inspiration – if you ever need ideas of what colours go together the Design Seeds website is great. pear colour inspirationOnce we had picked our colours, we painted an old generic canvas white.  This took a couple of coats to get rid of all the original design. blank canvasNext, we masked a sunburst pattern onto the canvas with tape.  Use a ruler to make your stripes evenly spaced out.  Then get going with the paint!masked stripes

The stripe colours are all completely random – there was no rhyme or reason to the way they ended up.  We ended up doing two coats of paint for each colour which gave a much better finish, and there was still paint left over.  Make sure you leave it to dry before you pull off the masking tape!  Any messed up lines can be touched up with either coloured or white paint.

finished sunburst canvasThe blue-y coloured stripes were done using a metallic paint which we have used as a feature wall colour, and we have a red sofa, so the picture has tied everything together nicely.