Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ballet Backpack

What was supposed to be a quick project has taken me all morning!  But, I have had fun doing it.

I was asked to make a little girl a bag for her ballet clobber, so found a cute picture of Angelina Mouse in her ballet kit.
An aside:  If you have a little girl in your life, Angelina books are a MUST.  The illustrations alone make them special, but the stories are sweet too.
Anyway, I popped over to my AMAZING Generations software and using my new toy - a WACOM Intuos drawing tablet - to convert my drawing of Angelina into stitches.  Drawing with a pen is sooo much easier than drawing with a mouse!!
Then added this to a patchwork of pretty fabrics that would make the focus fabric of the bag.
I used waterproof fabric at the base of the backpack - just in case!  Who wants soggy ballet slippers :)

Here it is...

The drawstring gathers the bag up to be carried on your back & prevents things dropping out - even if cartwheels are involved ;)  Easy for little ones to carry themselves & the top opens up completely, making it easy to get clobber in & out.  Perfect for little budding ballerinas!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

BIWC Sewing Classes

Every month I give one sewing class through the Berlin International Women's Club.  It is a great club for English speaking woman in Berlin, offering many great activities... including Cooking! with chef extraordinaire CHEFinBERLIN!  Reason enough to join the club. (Did you see the lovely photo of Jill & her rolling pin?  Diva style cooking in sensational heels!)

The club...

The BIWC sewing classes:

Read a reporting back on one of the classes we did this year:

On a sunny February day at Di Venter’s home, we made house slippers. 
These weren’t just ordinary  house slippers, but slippers lined with soft, fluffy, teddy bear fur, funky pointed toes, and a whole range of  colorful fabrics to match our colourful personalities.  Di is very patient with our sewing capabilities, all of our  questions, and the very different  sewing machines we bring to her  classes, which are really a lot of  fun.
Di has a large table for all of our machines and we can talk, sew and  work together.  The classes are wonderful because of  Di’s friendly  personality and her wealth of  expertise about fabrics, sewing techniques, accessories, patterns, and resources. We all enjoyed the  class very much and were proud of  our new “Hausschue”.  

Thank you, Di, for a very enjoyable  day of  sewing!   
Jill DiGiovanni  

This month the scatter cushion class was so popular, we had to split into two days of 5 ladies per day!
Here are a few photos....

Reporting Back
Sewing Cushions, May 2012
The class with Di for sewing cushions was as always, so much fun!
I shared a wonderful morning with lovely ladies, and it always amazes me the ability and creativity of Di, she is the perfect teacher, all patient and understanding for all the effort and work you put on preparing the class. A big THANK YOU Di! Believe it or not by the end of the morning we all went home with so different and beautiful cushions to put on that very special place at home. I arrived home so proud of my “I did it myself” cushion.
Here, check the Picture!
-Barbara Irigoyen

Next month we are making cotton PJ pants seen here, July we are making the red floral dress you see me wearing in one of the pics above & in August we are sewing for charity -

Come on sewing enthusiast all over... join in this great cause!!!!

Happy stitching...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Blossom Bag - Amy Butler - Free Pattern

Amy Butler's Blossom bag pattern is available free  here
It has mixed reviews regarding the instructions, and many have complained that they are not comprehensive enough.  I found them easy enough to follow, but I have made MANY other bags & maybe that is what is needed.  This is not a bag for a beginner.

I used a Toile de jouy which is thicker than quilting cotton fabric, with a quilting weight cotton lining.  This combination worked very well.
My interfacing is a gorgeous sew in product from CeKa - find them online here, as is my heavy weight stiffening.  I deal with Christiane from CeKa & she is great!  She sent me a booklet with samples of all their products when I expressed interest in their range, so now I can order as I need specific products.  Delivery time is great, as are prices!  You can read more about my great experiences with them & how I have used the products  here.
Here is my completed bag...

I added this 'rear view' in to show the adaptation I made... I added the flap into the seam instead of over - I think it gives it a more finished look. 
The only other thing I did a little different - I left a gap where the lining side panel joined to the base panel of the lining and used that gap to turn the lining inside the bag & hand stitched it closed right at the end.
I did not add the inner dividers as I do not feel the bag needs them.

What I would rather do is add a zipped pocket to the inner - I use that for keys etc, the bigger space left when no dividers are added, means that my oversized wallet & my kindle can be popped in & out of the bag more easily.

This is a lovely bag & I will be making another in more vibrant fabric!

The popper machine part II

Everyone is interested in the popper machine, so I thought I would tell you a little bit more about the wonderful company I bought it from.  I am giving away a great secret here!!  I came upon it by chance - thanks to Google - I was looking for online haberdashery with little hope of real progress.

Prices of sewing supplies are very high in Berlin.  I always use the example of a chunky, open-ended 45cm zip, which I use on many of the handbags I make.  In South Africa these zips are 1€ or less, in Berlin... 9€!!

And then I discovered this little gem... a sewing supply stockiest over the border in CZ!  No customs issues, and the website is in German, English, Polish, Russian...  They supply ribbons, metal hardware, poppers, and that wonderful popper machine (and the poppers to go with it)!  All at very reasonable prices.

Should I tell?


Okay, pop over to Stoklasa and have a peep!  The secret is out!
Go have some fun!

You can pay with PayPal & goods usually get to me within 3 days.  Postage is very reasonable, even for heavier items like the popper machine.

Friday, 25 May 2012

The popper solution!

I am super excited!

My popper machine just arrived in the post.  At last a simple, effective, lasting way to add poppers!  Those jolly Prymm ones are pricey and more often then not, just rip right off the item.  After all that careful sewing it really blows to have an item ruined by a bad popper!  Considering that poppers are often used on baby items, this results in a choking hazard.

The machine:
you do also need the 'hole maker' gadget (with blue handles in picture)
Look at hardware stores for this, cheaper than at the sewing store!

And now I will show you how simple this is to use....
Make hole
Place 2 pieces to popper base
press down on handle

Switch the base part of machine
repeat steps for top part of popper

 And there you have it!

They close easily and will not pull off the fabric!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012



Say what???

Well, if you have a baby in Germany, every single baby receives a booklet that is an official document for: stamps for inoculations, blood type, baby weight, feeding schedule etc. Generally ever mother has a pretty cover for this book - a mother passport cover - directly translated!

I have just finished making these two for Inga... hope she likes them...

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Do you remember the chef's hat I made?  No?  That's okay, you can use the new search bar I have added (top right), or simply click here to see it again.

This chef chapeau was part of the uniform I designed for Jill, of CHEFinBERLIN.

I met Jill through BIWC when I first arrived in Berlin.  In fact, I would never have joined BIWC if it were not for meeting Jill at the very first BIWC stammtisch I attended.  She came over, introduced herself, asked me about my interests & then introduced me to various women who shared some of my interests!

Jill remembered my passion for sewing & went out of her way to take me on a trip to the Turkish market which is now one of my favorite places to shop for fabrics and haberdashery!  Her ability to network is legendary, and since then, she has linked me to many people who share my interests & it was her with her encouragement that I started the BIWC sewing club.

Jill is an amazing cook, and her enthusiasm is contagious!  As well as running the BIWC Cooking! classes, she owns & runs CHEFinBERLIN.  She offers a catering service (with wait & bar staff if required), cooking classes and ready to freeze meals for those without the time or skill to provide nutritious meals for themselves.

Get a few friends together & take a cooking class with Jill!  It is great fun & you will learn a lot!  Jill is a great teacher, and equally at home teaching newcomers to cooking, or those of us who have been preparing meals for years.  Her classes are very well rounded - she always adds in tips for presentation, an important, and often overlooked part of meal preparation and entertaining.

I gave a friend who was on maternity leave a gift voucher for classes - I figured even engineers need to be able to feed their offspring :) - and Jill converted the recipient (who up until that point had used her oven to store things in) into a very capable, confident cook, who now serves nutritious dinners easily, and enjoys doing so!  As a side note, this friend has dropped 3 dress sizes in the process, proving how important good nutrition is to a healthy lifestyle!

Read this article (with great recipes) to see a little more of what CHEFinBERLIN does.

Amazing isn't it!

So, now that you know just how much I think of CHEFinBERLIN, you will understand why I am so thrilled to read her blog post today...