Monthly Archives: March 2015

Free, Other, Sewing, Tutorials

Free Template to Make Covering Buttons Even Easier

Every used one of those self-cover button tools but wish you could see the bit of material you want to cut out? Self-covered buttons are super to customise and personalise all sorts of projects, not to mention use up little scraps of fabric. The biggest problem (for me) is that I would want certain elements of the fabric to sit  squarely on the front without cropping off bits or having other bits intrude. Spoiled many a pretty button like that and it’s all the more galling if you don’t have any more of the same fabric.

I came up with a set of templates that sort this out for you. If you have a cutting machine like a Silhouette, Cameo, Silver Bullet , Cougar, etc, cut them with precision! But they don’t have to be perfect, just close enough so fussy cutting done with reasonable care is good enough.

You can see what I mean from the picture above showing a couple of buttons that have a pussy cat and a mousey on the front. Without a ‘port-hole’ to look through, it would have been so easy to have clipped kitty’s ears or the mouse’s tail.

If you have never seen or used a self-covering button tool, here’s how to use one – and how my template comes in very useful to select the design elements I want.

You’ll need some:

  • self-covering buttons
  • self-covering button tool
  • fabric

This is the self-covering button tool. You can get them from most haberdashers  or Google for online stockists. They’re only a few euro.

And these are self-covered buttons. Very simple – two halves; front and back plate. They come in a range of standard sizes: 11mm, 15mm, 19mm, 23mm, 29mm. You can also get a bigger size, 38mm, I think, but I’ve never seen a tool for that size.

1. Select the area of the fabric you want to feature on your button with my free template. The inner aperture is the actual size of the button, the outer ring is the circumference of material you’ll need to cut out to allow for some to tuck round the back. You’ll see what I mean in the next couple of pictures.

2. Here’s the fabric with the little kitty in the middle – don’t worry about the extra stuff around the periphery – that’ll be tucked out of sight in the back of the button.

3. Turn the fabric over to the wrong side and place face down into the appropriately sized button maker. Keep it as central as possible.

4. Press the front of the button face down into the middle so that the fabric curls around to the back. At this stage, if you are using a self-covering button with teeth (some have a serrated rim to catch the fabric at the back) run your finger around the button to press the material into them. Otherwise, just tuck the curled fabric in nice and tidily – maybe use a spot of PVA glue or fabric glue if it’s being a bit fiddly.

Then pop the button backing plate on.

Get the top half of the tool and press it down into the button to force the top and bottom bits firmly together.

Then pop your button out!

I am giving the template away for free – get it here:



Making Mooky


Aren’t they pretty? This was a surprise find when I took a packet of frozen turkey fillets out of the freezer. The ice crystals were on the top of the packaging so I grabbed a shot  to show you and share the loveliness. Makes you feel chilly, though, doesn’t it? Well, those turkey fillets became a Jalfrezi curry with garlic and coriander naans, rice, onion bhajis and vegetable samosas. Nom.


Since getting the freezer, I tend to buy a month’s load of shopping in one go. It doesn’t half save some money! But you have to be organised and do a bit of meal planning and keep records of the sorts of things you ‘need’ or buy regularly. I used to make lists for everything even though I thought making them was a sign of a personality disorder. They’re okay for remembering things but after that, they’re junk (to me).

To do lists are different to aide memoires. I used to work with somebody who itemised every bloody thing she had to do in a day and it looked like such a huge task list you’d almost be moved to share the tears she’d be blubbing pointing to the horrendous work load her poor shoulders had to carry. Until you went through it. It would be like:

Take lid off kettle

Take to the tap

Turn on the tap

Fill kettle with water

Replace lid

Take to worktop and switch on


You get the idea. She would identify all the sub-tasks that are performed on auto-pilot and take nano seconds to do. She spent longer working on the To Do list than actually doing any productive work.

Pivot Tables

To do lists mean nothing without time and once you assign time to things, a To Do becomes a schedule which is much more sensible. I digress. My monthly shop. I keep a (eek – my toes are curling at how – hate this term but it’s applicable – ‘anal’ – I can be – I keep an Excel spreadsheet and work book for the things we buy. I have links to meal ingredients that are needed for different meals and which stores to get the ingredients from. I then pivot table them every month to see what needs topping up and which stores I need to go to buy the necessaries from.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? But it really isn’t once the initial loading of data has been done. My motto really is  ‘all work and no play gives me a clininical anxiety disorder’ so I wouldn’t want to be enslaved to a system that left right-brain kicking dirt and staring out at the pretty kites through the window. My pivot table system is so quick and easy that the shopping list just drops out of it and where I’m going to get the stuff from. Maybe you don’t have Excel, check out Libre Office for a free programme that is very similar to it.

Moving on…

The weather has been so dark, dull and demented here for months. Well, it ain’t  stable or predictable so that’s fairly demented to me. The sky has been every shade of grey you can imagine (there are many more than fifty) and usually wet with it. It made me feel a bit … desperate…  for some glorious colour in my life. And when we went to Ikea to pick up a few things and I remembered they do have fabrics pretty cheap there my heart leapt …  like most of us, the one thing we can’t resist is temptation. I  caved.

Stash Busting? Well, I have used up a lot of stuff that would have lingered like Miss Haversham’s nightie had I have not made my monumental effort to use up the bags and bags of bits I had. But I have to confess that on leaving Ikea I took a side road down to Santry where Home Focus Hickeys was calling to me like a Bat Signal in the sky. And they sell fabrics, notions, trimmings, hooks, books, ribbons, rippers, stitchers, pins, needles, thimbles and just… gorgeous things, darling. It was a glorious binge.


I have come to the realisation that I have a preferred palette of pinks and greens. Browns made me feel sludgy. Black is great but can make the place feel a bit like a funeral director’s reception area.   I hit on the idea of photographing some of the stash I bought and picking out the main colours and combinations and ‘cataloguing’ them for future projects. Illustrator got launched,  little spools were quickly created and blocked up with colours. Then I named them all – quite a foody theme emerged, lol.

Friendship bracelet / anklet

I made this very easy to make friendship bracelet with some fine plaited cord intertwined with some of my lucky, lucky bead find. It was made big enough for my hubs wrist but he was having none of it! So I wore it round my ankle with my red DM Mary Jane’s (that I’ve had since my university days!!!!!).

I love these shoes. I love red shoes best of all. These weren’t red originally, in fact, I can’t remember what colour they were but I remember dying them and they have lasted twenty odd years now.

The bracelet is very sweet and I will wear it on my boho days in the summer.



Another lavender-filled stuffy. A cute elephant. Pretty and practical. Does that make it ‘zacca’, I wonder!

 Another foxy lady

Besides me, of course, Lol! Does she have lavender in her middle? Of course she does.


My darling girl, Jess. Outside but sitting in the shade. She loves to smell everything and takes an age wandering round the garden taking her time to enjoy it all. Gracie shoots about like Go-Man-Go Elvis.


And this is Cat. He lives a few houses down from us. Him and Gracie seem to be big mates and he likes to come round and curl up in the conservatory for a long sleep in the warm. He would eat us out of house and home if we let him but we do give him tidbits and pet him cos he’s an affectionate fellow who loves his tummy rubbed. Who can resist that?

Chilling Out

Have you got anything nice to eat? Super little man, isn’t he?

Before I go – saw an ad on the telly for the Vileda Hot Spray. Apparently it gets rid of ‘invisible dirt’. I’d like to buy one; can I pay for it with invisible money, do you know?

Bye for now


Rough-Edged Applique Phone Case

Heylo and Happy Ma’s Day!

Phone Case

I have a totally happy head on today, I hope you do, too. Just showing you a little make that came to life yesterday in my sewing pit. It’s a slip cover for my phone with an applique design – one I’ve used before just modded a bit (see here). Soft wadding stitched onto two pieces of outer fabric, some rough-edge appliquéd elements stitched down to make the house on the front then put together like a tote bag. Such brilliant fun in a phone case. AND, it’s dead cute. Maybe my humble opinion but there you go. Toot toot. If I don’t do it no one else will.

Should anyone request the steps and instructions I’ll write them up and send for free but despite the huge numbers of comments I get from all over the world, (remember that number that broke the You Tube counter? More!) I doubt I will ever get asked! Just a hunch…


Btw, did you know that the majority of traffic on the infernet is spam and not, shall we be genteel, and say ‘gentleman’s specialist interest viewing’.  Yes, that bloody infernal arse-dribble as opposed to erotic objectifications, fornications and the lewd and loo-worthy shite we know as porn. Surprised me, anyhow.

The Voice

Last night we stayed in and watched the telly. See The Voice? Some good. Some average. Some bloody awful. Like the mordant groanings and deep borborygmus (stomach rumbling noises) that carried no tune but conveyed the misery of a bad curry the night before. Or the feeling that we’d tuned in to the shower scene from Psycho. Certainly something was being murdered.

But, there were some that were brilliant. And happily, they (not all, again, just my humble opinion) were selected to go through to the next rounds.

Drill Tip

I was given a tip just recently. It’s genius. Really. Since buying a freezer, I buy a big bag of spuds (potatoes) , peel them in one go and have a monthly mash up. I mix the mash with grilled bacon pieces and / or cheese, onion, leeks, carrots, swede, etc. The mash ups get packed in little foil containers and popped into the freezer for a healthy, convenient side dish.

However, peeling the spuds is a PITA. The tip? Buy a bristle brush or a loo brush (I emphasize NEW for – surely? – obvious reasons and attach to a standard drill. Have the spuds in a big bowl of water and turn the drill on to abrade and ‘exfoliate’ the peel in minutes – apparently.

Darwin Awards

Firstly, I am NOT a contender for a Darwin award and so will not be using a mains-powered electric drill. Mine is a cordless, mains-rechargeable battery pack type drill. Secondly, I am NOT a contender for a Darwin award and so will not be using a mains-powered electric drill. Yes, I realise that technically it’s the same point as the first but it’s one so important I thought it worth repeating.

Thirdly, do not try this as an aid to natural beauty. Facial exfoliation is usually many degrees gentler than a bog brush undergoing high velocity revolution on the end of a drill. Furthermore, bone, without the enhancement of a decorative epidermal layer, tends to look a little aged and worn. Think of your skin as a big bag to keep your bits in so hold the drill away from the body. You really don’t want the kitchen to look like the lift doors from The Shining.

Anyhoo, I’ll give it a go and report back some time in the next few weeks. Sheer genius (if it works). Bill Bailey once said:

“A lot of people say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I don’t think there’s a fine line, I actually think there’s a yawning gulf. You see some poor bugger scuffling up the road with balloons tied to his ears, he’s not going home to invent a rocket, is he?

Well, off to vegetate a bit and eat some Ma’s Day chocolate and just chill. Have a good day.



Bento Baggies


I’ve been sewing things again. I saw a template for a Bento bag on the net (get it here)  and gave it a go. Apparently, a Bento is a food container traditionally used in Japan and serves the same purpose that a lunch box does in the West. As a Bento had no handles it was generally wrapped in a length of cloth and tied to form a handy means of carrying it. The word itself means ‘convenient’ and refers to the convenient meal inside the box. While looking for templates for the bag, I kept seeing them and other things described as ‘Zacca’ style. I looked to Wikipedia for answers:

Zakka has been described as “the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane”. The zakka boom could be recognized as merely another in a series of consumer fads, but it also touches issues of self-expression and spirituality. “Cute, corny and kitschy is not enough. To qualify as a zakka, a product must be attractive, sensitive, and laden with subtext.”

Another definition I found said Zacca means practical and pretty. Well, whether to be laden with subtext and/or a packed lunch, I ended up making a couple; one for me, the green one in the pic and one in some super Ikea curtain material, all chocolate browns and organic shapes (Macho!), for hubs as a lunch grab-bag. They look like the little knapsacks tied to the end of a pole that we used to see in picture books when people set off for an adventure, or The Fool from a traditional Tarot pack.

To be honest, the design and construction is a little bit of a faff and uses up a lot of fabric for no good reason, really! The bottom is reinforced as there are some overlapping triangles but unless you need a strong bottom (there’s a joke in there, somewhere) and only plan on packing a few balls of wool or a simple lunch it’s a waste. BUT… they are dead cute and would make fabulous lunch packs for young children in fun fabrics.

I’ve revised the template to make a tie-handle bag without the triangles and will run a few up at the weekend and give the template away as the idea is pretty simple.

Crochet Butterfly

I’ve been doing a bit more crochet and made a bunch of these butterflies following’s You Tube tutorial for her easy butterfly. They all turned out very pretty  especially, if you remember, I only learned to crochet a few months ago. And it is easy. It’s not like bouncing a neutron off a soap bubble.


Here’s a pic of Jess. She’s so much better now. So relaxed compared to how she was. And doesn’t do impressions of deflating tyres too often these days! She used to hairflip, hiss and lash out all over the place and be a bit scary to have around so goes to show what a difference a year makes.

Anyway, that cup of tea won’t make itself … bye for now.


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