Tag Archives: handmade

zakka {wedding pot holders}

despite my deplorable lack of posts in the last few months, there has been some degree of activity in the sewing room (and the kitchen)…

behold: a pair of pot holders i made as a wedding gift for one of my dearest friends.  she and her new husband are both appreciators of fine food, and she loves to cook, so i wrapped these up alongside an heirloom-to-be le creuset braiser.


i found the inspiration for these in the ‘zakka style’ project book compiled by rashida coleman-hale, and the pattern itself comes courtesy of kim kruzich.  you may recall seeing evidence of the ‘zakka-along’ hosted by LRstitched last year – heaps of adorable and practical linen-based projects from the zakka style book.  the sew-along is a brilliant resource for anyone working on a make from the book.  for the pot holders, you will find an errata and a related tutorial to help you along.  the errata clarified some significant changes to the original instructions, so it’s worth checking it out prior to cutting.  i, however ignorantly, followed the instructions in the book and made out quite alright in the end.  and, as per my usual ‘must-avoid-significant-amounts-of-handstitching-at-all-costs’ mantra, when it came time to finish attaching the bias-binding to the back pockets and the circumference of the pot holders, i took a different approach: i simply pinned well from the top-side and then carefully top-stitched my way around.  while they certainly don’t look as tidy as the specimens in the book, i don’t think the top-stitching looks too shabby in the end, and i do think it will be sturdier than my hand-stitching would have been.


another note worth making relates to the quilting – the instructions are very simple: “quilt as desired by machine or by hand”.  i liked the look of the straight lines in the book, so i measured out 1/2″ lines from the middle and stitched them consistently across the top of the pot holder, trying to stay parallel to the seams.  not bad for my first attempt at quilting!


to personalize the gift, i worked in some of my favourite paris-map fabric, which makes these feel a little old-world glamorous to me.  i also used some sweet japanese fabric printed with cakes and letters, which is just so adorable.  both of these fabrics suit the bride’s style perfectly and are much-loved at the workroom, where i purchased them a few years ago.  as a final touch, i embroidered the bride and groom’s initials and wedding date on the back of the pot holders, hoping they will be reminded of their beautiful wedding every time they use them.


there.  hopefully i’m back on track now, as i have a few other projects and recipes to share with you.  and, as the days are finally getting a little bit longer here, there is hope for some natural light at the end of the day, which should make for some less-drab looking photographs!

i’m curious, what are your thoughts on homemade wedding presents?  have you ever given a handmade wedding gift?

•  •  •



Filed under sewing

{bespoke wallet}

i was introduced to these adorable and practical wallets in a post on very berry handmade.  i crossed my fingers as soon as i saw her photos, thinking ‘pleeeeease tell me there is a free pattern for these’, and, hip hip hooray, there was.  (as an aside, i love veryberry’s blog, and i wish i had access to all of the stunning fabrics she sources.  you folks in the uk may want to check out her compendium of uk fabric shops…you’re so lucky!).

the tutorial for these is the work of confessions of a fabricaholic.  it is filled with step-by-step photos and instructions to walk you through your first ever home-made wallet.  thank you, fabricaholic, for sharing your marvy tute!

i’ve made a small collection of these now, and have learned a few lessons along the way.  i’ve used medium-weight cotton for all of these, so i interface the interior and exterior main pieces, as well as the front and back of the zip-pocket, and the largest and smallest card slots.  i interface both the interior and exterior tab pieces, as well.  i’ve learned to cut the interfacing just shy of the seam allowances, as it becomes super bulky if you don’t.  the exception, though, is the tab.  because you trim the seam allowances away and it’s so tiny, i’ve found that full-sized interfacing helps to prevent fraying (i had to remake two tabs because they started to come apart after i turned them).  and back to the card slots – i serged the top edges of the three pieces that remain exposed, just so they don’t fray.

i didn’t like the look of the round, silver snap that i used on my first take (and i found that it didn’t close very securely), so i went with what has become my signature sewn-in snap tab closure, which i’ve used on my phone cosies and computer cosies.  i’d like to try a magnetic closure, but i wasn’t sure about the effect this may have on credit cards inside the wallet.  i’m also playing around with the idea of using buttons with an elastic loop (because who doesn’t love buttons?), but i’ve become pretty loyal to the clean and simple snap tab, and i’m not sure i’m ready to abandon it just yet.

one other  step i tweaked was the zipper insertion.  i worked with a 3/8″ opening instead of 1/2″ – it’s surprising what a difference an eighth of an inch can make, but i do think it makes for a tidier looking zip (certainly tidier than the one shown above).

i’m still working on my edge-stitching.  it’s just not that lovely, is it?  i find the corners particularly difficult to navigate beautifully.  i’ve noticed that very berry’s corners are perfectly curved and very smooth.  how do you do it,  very berry?  what is your secret!?  i know i need to work on symmetry and having my edges perfectly square.  with all of the layers and the turning, this can be difficult to achieve.

since my adorable one-of-a-kind bookhou wallet is on its last legs (i’ve used the heck out of it for five years now), i think it’s time for a bespoke wallet of my own.  now to choose some fabric…

•  •  •


Filed under sewing

{reversible headband}

i’ve been busily sewing lately, trying to churn out goodies for an upcoming studio tour which kicks off in, gasp, 12 more sleeps.  this will be my second year as a guest artist of my friend, the super-talented kim (who not only paints, draws and creates amazing mosaic glass pieces, but is also a first-class baker who has been sharing some of her recipes at crumbsbykim).

one of the lessons i learned last year was: for goodness’ sake, do not leave all of your creating to the last-minute.  last year my procrastination lead to blood, sweat and tears in my sewing room (i am not exaggerating), and too many exclamations of “why, oh whyyyy am i doing this?”.  crisis-driven sewing and crocheting is not fun.

characteristically, despite my hard-learned lesson last year, i find myself once again frantically trying to come up with just the right items to tempt this year’s discerning studio-tourers.  will i never learn?  to add to the struggle, i’ve been working on a few me-designed items which have taken significantly longer to refine than one would think, including some jersey-knit infinity scarves (more on those in another post) and these reversible headbands.

they look simple enough, don’t they?  sure, now that i’ve sorted out the pattern and the process, i can make one rather painlessly, though getting to this point was far from painless.  i spent an entire day doggedly trying to come up with the right shape, drafting and re-drafting, sewing lousy muslin after lousy muslin, muttering curses and vexing myself for pretending i was capable of coming up with something on my own (much the same experience i had with my phone cosies and my tobermory hat).

despite all the head-banging, i’m pretty happy with the results.  overall, this is a comfortable and flattering headband that actually stays put (yes, it’s true!).  being reversible, i think it’s a little more fun than a standard, one-print number, and it’s certainly more versatile.  i really  struggled with the seam that joins the elastic to the ends of the headband, until i came up with a really simple solution which you can see in the close-ups.  the best part?  no hand-stitching!  and no necessary top-stitching, though i may go back and add some for accent.

once the studio tour chaos passes, i plan on writing up a tutorial for the headbands (as well as keeping my long-standing promise to write-up the patterns for the cosies and the hat), though, fair warning, i may procrastinate the tutorialing for just a bit longer so i can do some sewing for myself (i’m desperate to try making a hazel and some summery skirts, though i’m afraid by the time i get to make them, it will be fall).  in the meantime, i’d love to hear from any of you who have experience selling your homemade wares – how do you do it without losing your sanity (or your shirt)?

•  •  •


Filed under sewing

new year, new bag

being a grey and rainy january 1st, the only sensible thing to do was to remain indoors.  apart from a soggy dog-walk, i happily partook of solely indoor domestic activities today.   i stoked the fire.  i made hearty soup.  i baked some lovely cheddar biscuits.  i let the dogs in and out approximately 157 times. and i sewed!!

new year's bag

just before the holidays, i came across a brilliant pattern for a simple, unstructured, reversible bag.  the pattern is offered on this marvy blog by novita, aka ‘very purple person’.  if you sew and/or appreciate handmade clothing and accessories, you must have a look through her work.  she is enviably talented, has a great sense of style and is generous enough to share some of her patterns and ideas with the whole wide world.  so, back to the bag.  it’s ever so sweet and worked up quite quickly.  the hardest part was deciding which fabrics to use.  i chose a soft grey paisley print for the exterior and a classy neutral print of a map of paris for the interior.  i had a lovely time reminiscing while pressing the fabric…retracing steps i’d taken along the seine and the streets of paris too many years ago…sigh. but i digress!  i decided to add an inner zippered pocket and i must say that i’m pretty chuffed with the results .  i see myself making many more of these in the future.  thank you, novita!

though i hadn’t planned it this way, i kind of like the symbolism of creating a new bag on new year’s day.  maybe i’m getting a little too sentimental this evening, what with the backpacking memories and all, but this bag has that ‘new pencil case/first day of school’ kind of feel to it, you know?  what a nice and nesty way to start the new year.  cheers!

fat stack of potential


zipper pride

interior & pocket

ah, paris

c'est fini!


Filed under sewing