We are back with a fresh DIY for the new season; I am fast becoming a planner addict, but I needed to kerb my spending and find a way to use up some of my already huge stationery stash. When I got a travel planner as a gift a few months ago, I realised I could use up all those piles of thin notebooks if I made myself some of my own Midori style planners.  So today I am going to share how I made two of my favourite’s.

You will need – Medium weight card, a pencil, ruler, scissors, glue, two fabrics of your choice (approx a fat quarter of each), sewing clips, round elastic and decorative elastic, a hole punch, thread and a sewing machine.

Step 1. Start by taking your notebook and placing it onto your cardboard and measure 2cm all the way around the edges, then flip it over to mark up the other side. Cut out that piece.
Step 2. Mark up the centre lines and cut a second piece the same size as the first.
Step 3. Curve off the corners either using a punch or just with scissors.
Step 4. If you want to add some storage flaps, use the main pieces to draw out some strips and cut them out.
Step 5. You should now have an inside, outside and any storage flaps you want, cut in card.
Step 6. Place your card pieces down onto your fabrics and with a 2.5cm/1 inch border cut out your fabric.  Do the same for the inside pieces and any storage flaps you have cut as well.

Step 7. Take each of your card pieces and their matching fabric pieces and glue all the way around then fold over your fabric and stick it down.
Step 8. Take care to fold over the corners over the rounded edges.
Step 9. Sew along the straight edge of any flaps you have.
Step 10. Sandwich your inner layer, flaps and outer layer together, then clip everything in place. If you don’t have sewing clips you can use paper clips or pinch clips.
Step 11. Sew all the way around the outside edge of all your layers, try and keep about 3-5mm from the edge for a nice neat finish.
Step 12. Punch two holes at the top and bottom of your folder. Try and place them either side of the centre fold. then punch one hole in the centre on the fold.

Step 13. Take some small scissors and neaten up the holes you have punched.
Step 14. Thread the round elastic through one of the double holes from the inside out and back through the other hole twice before tieing a flat knot and trimming away any excess.
Step 15. Take your pretty elastic and roughly measure it around the width of your folder.
Step 16. Thread the ends of your pretty elastic through from the outside and tie a knot to hold it in place on the inside of the folder.
Step 17. Open out your notebooks to the centre pages and thread it onto the elastic.
Step 18. You can continue to add notebooks to fill out your planner or just stick to two or three.

I have made an A5 and A6 version so far and I am in love with them. I have plans to make a few more for Christmas presents for all my planner friends. The fabric combinations are endless, they look really cute on my desk and who doesn’t love new stationery!!

Sammy xxx

Top 10 Things To Look For When Buying A Sewing Machine

I get asked a lot at Sew Crafty what to look for when you are buying a new sewing machine, lots of our customers are intimidated by the sheer number of different kinds out there and where to even start looking. Here are my top ten tips for buying a new Sewing Machine. 

  1. Before you dive straight in, why not try and borrow a friend or relative’s machine for a while and see how much you really use it and what kind of things you like sewing.  It will give you a better idea of what you like and don’t like so you can make sure the machine you choose has those features.       
  2. Be careful of picking a machine with too many bells and whistles. If it is your first machine you may be overwhelmed with too many stitch variations To start with keep it simple, you can always sell on your old machine and upgrade if you feel you are missing out.     
  3. Always buy from a reputable source. I would always recommend buying from a bricks and mortar shop. If your machine is faulty or needs a service (it will eventually need one) you want a place you can go back to. It is not always possible of course so if you are buying online, head to a reputable company like John Lewis, and if you can, pay on your credit card so the purchase is insured.             
  4. The added joy of finding a shop that sells Sewing machines locally to you is that you can go and try them out. You can ask questions of the shop owners, they should have good experience and if you have your list of requirements and budget they can hopefully match you to your perfect machine. 
  5. Head to online guides like Which best buys or search online for reviews and recommendations for the machine make and model you are looking for.   
  6. Buy the best you can afford, like I always say in haberdashery you get what you pay for and in most cases this rings true with sewing machines too.   
  7. Try and choose a brand with parts that are easy to find locally or again from a reputable online source. It can be so annoying when you want or need to buy a new foot and you can’t find where to get it from.                         
  8. When you purchase your machine, find out where you can get it serviced. If you are buying locally you can often take it back to the shop for servicing, but if not you may need to contact an independent engineer. Your machine will need a service every year -18 months after the end of the guarantee to keep it running efficiently. Regular servicing will help to avoid larger repair bills and replacement costs further down the line.                   
  9. Your machine will need to be cared for. It will need cleaning and maintenance to help it run smoothly. Your machine manual will have information about how to dust and oil your machine to get the best results. It should be stored somewhere warm and dry. If it has been stored in the cold make sure you run it for a while to warm it before you start sewing.     
  10. Ask to see the instruction booklet. It will be your best friend when late night sewing. Your local machine shop owner will not appreciate late night phone calls to chat about tension, but your machine book, if it is a good one, will answer a lot of questions. It should also explain all the accessories and extras that you can get and how to use them. 

I hope that has guided some of you in the right direction when searching for your new sewing machine. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will try my best to answer them

Sammy xx

T-shirt Quilt – Upcycle DIY

We know we are not alone in our hoarding tendencies; we all have a stack of clothes that we can’t bear to part with, but know we will never wear again; for me it is a bunch of fun logo t-shirts I used to wear when I worked in my local pub. I had a uniform of black combats, turquoise hair extensions and cute t-shirts, don’t judge me it was like 2002! I didn’t keep all of them but I have kept a hold of my favourites, the ones that carry the best memories. They have been in a box in the loft for ages so when we were approached by the lovely people at Recycle Devon about an up-cycling post I knew exactly what I wanted to do. This t-shirt quilt gives you the opportunity to make use of those old clothes whilst keeping a hold of the memories, which is a winning combination for me!

You will need:

At least nine old t-shirts, an old throw or fabric to use as backing, fabric scissors, needle and thread, pins, embroidery thread and a sewing machine (optional)

Step 1. Use the t-shirt with the largest logo and cut a square around it.

Step 2. Use that as a template to cut the other t-shirts to the same size.

Step 3. Once you have cut all the t-shirts to size lay them out on the floor and arrange them in a display that you like, balancing the colours and logos until you are happy with it.  

Step 4. Take a photo on your phone to remind you how you laid it out then place the top left and top center t-shirts right sides together.

Step 5. Pin down the edge of the two squares.

Step 6. Sew with a slight zig zag stitch along the edge you have pinned about 1cm in from the raw edge.

Step 7. Open out the pieces

Step 8. Then iron the seam flat then join the next square to the two you have already sewn together.

Step 9. Move on to the next row joining the first two squares then the third square in to strips. Once you have all your strips ready you can place them right sides together matching up the seams.

Step 10. Pin the strips together and sew all the way along the edge. Then unfold and pin the next strip in place and sew.

Step 11. Unfold and you should have the front of your quilt.

Step 12. With right sides facing pin the front of your quilt to the throw or your backing fabric of choice then pin and sew around all four edges, leaving a small gap in one edge so you can turn it through.

Step 13. Trim away any excess seams and the corners to make the edges less bulky then turn it right side out by pulling it through the gap you left open in the edge.

Step 14. Hand stitch the gap close with some neat hand sewing.

Step 15. To stop the layers sliding around take a length of embroidery thread and at the corners of the squares stitch the thread through the fabric.

Step 16. Tie the length of thread in a double knot and trim the ends to about a centimeter long.  

And there you have it, the perfect memento to snuggle under and read a good book. I am actually going to keep mine in my husband’s car to snuggle under on our road trips. We want to know what you have in your home that you can’t bear to part with. Give a thought as to how you could re-purpose it and make it in to something you can love all over again.

Sammy xxx