Monday, August 29, 2011

'Sewing for beginners' class

Since starting my blog and especially in the last month since the Homestyle article I have had lots of lovely emails from people saying that they've been inspired to get into some crafting. Some people like me have not really sewn before and others used to sew as children/teenagers/pre kids but haven't done for a long time. So I thought I'd put together a little post with some tips and ideas for anyone wanting to either learn to sew or pick it up again after a long absence! As you may have read already even though I have always been a bit creative I only starting sewing a year and half ago. I didn't really enjoy sewing at high school- all the measuring, pinning, and fiddly little details just seemed too much for me- I remember making a jewellery roll that I think took us an entire term to make!
So as a self taught sewer I am very keen on projects that are quick and easy to create. I have an aversion to measuring and pinning ( I'm so not a fan of prep- just ask my hubby when we need to do some painting!) but I don't think it matters really for most of my projects- a 4 year old isn't going to analyse the actual sewing- they are just rapt you have made them something! And nothing I've made has fallen apart yet!
So the projects/tutorials I'm going to share here may not be exactly how a real sewer would do it ( I still think of myself as a beginner) but they will hopefully show you how to get started and create a few cute things. Any tips from all you sewers out there much appreciated!

As I've had quite a few people ask for some good beginner sewing projects here are my top 7 ideas- they are pretty much in the order that I actually did when I was learning how to sew, and are in order from what I think is the easiest to the still pretty easy but a few more skills involved!
  1. Pin cushion- click here for my tutorial
  2. Lavender sachet- click here for my tutorial
  3. Applique a store-bought body suit or t-shirt
  4. Softie- that's a crafty term for a soft toy for all you non crafters out there- I was wondering what all the references to softies were for a while there when I started reading blogs!
  5. Cushion cover
  6. Children's satchel bag
  7. Zip purse- trust me these are easy- zips are not to be feared- if I can sew one anyone can!
Two projects - the satchel bag and the zip purse are tutorials from other clever crafters- Cat from Cat Taylor Design and Heleen from Ruby in the Dust. 
I chose these 7 projects as if you complete all 7 projects you would have learned basic sewing tips like clipping corners, how to applique, some stitching skills for the softie, how to sew a zip and how to sew lining (it looks so flash but is really quite easy!) And you can then transfer your new skills to other projects- for example if you can make the children's satchel bag you will be able to make your own bag one day too.  And I just modified the tutorial for the satchel bag to make my christmas stockings as well.

About once a week I'll post a tutorial or a link to the tutorial I used for each project with photo's and tips for each one.  Would love to hear if you make something or if you have a question- you could comment, leave a link or email a pic or post one on my facebook page if you would like to (I love seeing pics!)

I also get asked a lot where I get my fabrics from.  When I started I went to a lot of op/thrift shops-they usually have fabric remnants, vintage sheets and I even bought some clothing just for the fabric- so this is a great cost effective option and it's fun too when you spot a great fabric!
The other places I can recommend buying fabric from (quick delivery, great service and gorgeous fabrics!) are
NZ online stores

Overseas fabric stores

I've also bought some fabric from my local sewing store Bernina and from Spotlight.  This is also where I get things like stuffing, zips and other sewing essentials.

On the web
And to get you all inspired--I think Prudent Baby is one of the best crafty websites for inspiring projects and ideas- just be warned you will be on there for hours! Check out the link to "Nap time Projects" and "Projects by Craft". So many wonderful projects for any level of craftiness!
There are also millions of fantastic craft blogs on the net- you can check out a few of them down the side of my blog. Again be warned, you'll click on one, then click a link to another, then all of a sudden two hours have gone by and you can't even work out how you ended up where you did but your head is bursting with awesome ideas and you will be feeling the need to make something!
Visiting "Our Creative Spaces" each Thursday is great for a weekly dose of inspiration too.
And here's a great Sewing 101 post from an amazing crafty mum.

Crafty books
Again, there's a zillion wonderful crafty books out there. These are the ones I read when I was first starting to get into crafting- they are fab!
The Crafty Minx: Creative Recycling and Handmade Treasures
The Crafty Minx by Kelly Doust
Meet Me at Mike's: 25 Fun and Crafty Projects
Meet Me at Mikes by Pip Lincolne
Softies cover
Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures
Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule
Sewing in No Time
Sewing in no time by Emma Hardy

Do you remember at school really looking forward to Art and enjoying the creative process even if you weren't the most talented artist (like me). Well getting into crafting is a bit like that- you get to really look forward to making a start on a new project, you feel so fantastically amazing when you make something, your kids love it when they get something made by you,  you can make handmade gifts, and it's a really lovely process where you are in your own little world when crafting- two hours can go by and it feels like a few minutes if you are really enjoying it!

Hope that all helps you get started on your own crafty journey :)
Stay tuned for my (very basic) pin cushion tutorial soon...

Megan x
PS: Thanks so much for the tips on sterilising bottles and jars in my last post- it is so great being able to ask a question and get so many great answers and ideas!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

lemon and ginger syrup

Well, it's been a few weeks since I've been here, and I've missed it! We had a break last week and then this week I've had the classic winter cold that has left me feeling a bit worse for wear- hopefully nearing the end now though. Anyway, I came across this inspiring blog the other day full of recipes and other lovely things so I decided to have a go at making the lemon and ginger syrup (I am loving fresh ginger at the moment!) It was nice and easy to make, tastes delicious and my little ones loved it too.
I found the bottles from Briscoes and used these cute labels from Mixing Ink (they were featured in the latest Homestyle magazine).
This would be a lovely gift with a cute mug wouldn't it :)
I'm new to the whole preserving thing so I've got a question about sterilising jars and bottles. I found these instructions for sterilising but was surprised with how much you have to do to sterilise a bottle! I would have thought that cleaning them and putting them in the pot of boiling water was enough. Does anyone know a quicker way to sterilise or have any other tips?

And if you've got a cold at the moment too Wendyl Nissen has some great tips in her latest newsletter and on her website- I like the idea of a hot bath with some essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint!

Have a great weekend!
Megan x

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

foccacia bread recipe

Well, I finally did something on my "2011 things to do" list last week- I learnt how to bake bread yay!  I saw a recipe in a Woman's Day magazine 'Pataks' recipe liftout a few week's ago for foccacia bread so I thought it would be a good one for my first foray into bread making. I really enjoyed making the dough and it was great that Amelie could also help with the kneading.  We both got pretty excited seeing that the dough had done what it was meant to do and had risen in the bowl after putting it in the hot water cupboard for an hour so it was a fun activity to do with her. This recipe also gets you to divide the dough into 4 so Amelie got to roll one out and sprinkle the rosemary and salt on her very own one which she loved- and actually ate- Stella too so it really was a winner!

Here's the recipe if you would like to give it a go...
Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia
Makes 4 small loaves
Preparation 20 minutes (plus proving)
Cooking 20 minutes

3 cups plain flour
half teaspoon salt
7g sachet dried yeast- I bought these sachets which I think are 8g each but it didn't seem to matter!
1 cup luke warm water
quarter cup olive oil  (I used Village Press- a beautiful olive oil from a good friend's family business in the Hawkes Bay)
laves of 3 rosemary sprigs
2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in yeast. Make a well in the centre. Add water and 2 tablespoons oil. Mix to a firm dough. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 10 minutes.
2. Place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and set aside for 1 hour. Use fist to knock back. Knead for 1-2 minutes. Preheat oven to very hot- 220 degrees. Lightly grease and line to baking trays.
3. Break dough into 4 even pieces. Roll out into 4 ovals about 1cm thick. Place on trays. Brush with remaining oil. Sprinkle with rosemary leaves and sea salt. Use fingertips to make indentations in the dough. Cover and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

And here's a tip from my mum- mix a little olive oil with some balsamic vinegar in a small dipping bowl and dip bread in- yum!!!
Thanks so much for all the comments for my apples giveaway too- they have been so lovely to read and I really appreciate them thank you :) It has been really neat seeing where everyone is from too.
Megan x

Friday, August 5, 2011

an apple a day giveaway

I've been wanting to do a giveaway for a while now to say thank you to all you lovely mousehouse readers, followers and 'likers' out there, especially as I've gathered quite a few more of you since posting about my dolls house last week!
I got the idea to do an apple themed giveaway after the lovely feedback from my apple cosy and my crochet apple.  Also, one of the first purses I made was using some apples fabric.  I mentioned my apple themed idea to Kirsty at Sew Pretty the other day when she shared my apple cosy post on SewPretty's facebook page and she very kindly offered to donate a fat quarter of two of her apple fabrics to each of the giveaways thank you Kirsty!

So Prize one is....

  • a mousehouse 'Red Apples' waterproof zip purse
  • a crochet apple
  • 6 apple buttons
  • a set of 10 apple, button and yarn stamped mousehouse gift tags
  • a bow brooch
  • a fat quarter of Sew Pretty's 'apples in red' fabric
And Prize two is....
  • a mousehouse 'Orchard Apples' waterproof zip purse
  • a crochet apple cosy 
  • handmade peppermint lip balm
  • a set of 10 apple, button and yarn stamped mousehouse gift tags
  • two sheets of cute stickers
  • a fat quarter of Sew Pretty's 'apples in green' fabric
To enter all you have to do is leave a comment telling me whether you would like to win Prize one or Prize two. You could tell me where you're from too as I love seeing where everyone is from! If you don't have a blog you are still welcome to enter, just leave your email address in your comment. Or you can tell me which prize you would like under this post on my Facebook page.  International entries welcome! 

Thank you so much again for all your lovely comments on my posts, for the awesome emails I get, for reading my blog and for being such a great community of like minded souls!
Megan x
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