Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Zippered iPhone Wallet - tutorial

Zippered iPhone Wallet

Do you ever go out and all you want to take is your phone and maybe your keys and a credit card? But you don't have any pockets? This little wallet is the solution. It snugly fits your iPhone and a couple of cards, and I added a handy little clip for my keys.

I originally made this to clip to the Ergo when I go out for a walk, but it's really handy so I've been using it for more than just that. It's such a quick project that I've been making them up for friends too! It's a good stash buster and if you've got any lanyards laying around, they are perfect to harvest the little key ring piece off.

You can see I've put different straps on each of these. one has an elastic wrist strap and the other has a snap fastened strap so that I can hook it on the Ergo.

Zippered iPhone Wallet

You'll need:
Main fabric - 2 pieces (10 x 15 cm, 4 x 6 inches)*
Lining fabric - 2 pieces (10 x 15 cm, 4 x 6 inches)*
Interfacing (optional) - 2 pieces (10 x 15 cm, 4 x 6 inches)*
Zip - (15 cm, 6 inches)
Key ring clip
Your choice of strap**

Zippered iPhone Wallet

Use the measurements above to cut out your pieces for the wallet. If your fabrics feel a little thin, then add some interfacing to give the wallet a little more body. I don't see the point in re-inventing the wheel, so here's a link to a great photo tutorial by freckle showing you all the steps you need to put your wallet together.

In step 9 of the tutorial, also make sure to pin in your strap pieces. On the main fabric side, sandwich the strap pieces in between the 2 right sides of the main fabric, pointing in towards the middle, on one side of the wallet.

When you sew around the edges in step 10, sew over the strap pieces and then reverse over them and come forward once more. This will make sure the strap is nice and secure.

*These dimensions are for a naked iPhone 4S. If your phone has a case/cover, then I'd suggest adding 1 cm (1/2") to each measurement to make sure your phone fits in there.

**For the elastic wrist strap, I used 20cm (8") length of elastic covered with a 40cm (16") tube. For the Ergo wallet, I used a 10cm (4") piece and a 5cm (2") piece, adding snaps to the ends. I also used a scrap folded over to secure the key ring.

Zippered iPhone Wallet Zippered iPhone Wallet

Online Sewing Class

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Printing Fabric Labels with Spoonflower

Spoonflower Labels

July 2012 - See my 6 month follow up here

Spoonflower is so hot right now in the home sewing world; and with good reason! Where else can you get your own design printed onto small quantities of fabric for a reasonable price?  I'm not sure if you've ever looked into having labels made, but it is expensive. You have to get a minimum quantity and you are typically limited in the font and colours. But using Spoonflower, I've got at least 500 hundred labels, all for only $25.

I didn't want to use the name 'thingsforboys' on the labels, as I thought it would look a bit funny on a dress, so I went with 'Autumn Street'. The name is dear to my heart and I have hubby to thank for suggesting to use it.

If you're not into making your own labels, it's still a pretty place to waste some time instead of doing the dishes or going to bed. There are so many cute designs and it really makes you realise how many talented people there are out there.

I have seen quite a few people blogging about this, but I've decided to do mine a little different/better. I have printed my labels on the bias so that I don't have to fold over the edges on the little labels and burn my fingers with the iron in the process. Because they're cut out on the bias, the edges don't fray and the labels don't fall off. See how the labels are holding up after 6 months here.

Spoonflower Labels

Here's how to make your labels on the bias:

Make your label, leaving a bit of white space on all sides so that you still have the option to fold over the edges. I recommend adding a light coloured border around the edges to use as a guide when cutting them up.

Once you've got a single label copy and paste it 4 times, lining them up in a grid. Copy and paste the block to make a bigger block. Repeat this many, many, many times to make up a large block of labels.

If you're using Photoshop, you can follow this clever little step by step on the Spoonflower blog to use your single image as a tile to fill your space. I wish I had read this before I did mine, but anyway...

To fill 1 yard of fabric from Spoonflower, you need to make your image 60 inches by 60 inches and at least 150 dpi. I used 300 dpi and the resolution on the printed labels is great. Once it's full, rotate it 45°. You'll now have a diamond of labels in the middle of a white square. Crop your canvas size down to 42 inches wide, and 36 inches tall and it should be full of labels. This is the exact size you need for one yard of fabric.

Now save it and upload it to Spoonflower to make your labels. The only tip I have is to make sure that you set the correct dpi so that your labels come out the right size.

The hardest part is waiting for your fabric to arrive. Then you can go crazy and label anything and everything you've ever made.

Spoonflower Labels

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

5 (Almost) Instant Toddler Snacks

Baby led Weaning Snacks

Here is a quick list of things that I make sure I always have on hand, so that when the cupboard seems bare, there is still some healthy options for my hungry little boy. These are some alternative suggestions to the normal fruit, yogurt, toast and dip that you might think of. I'm a bit unimaginative when it comes to snacks, so it's always good to have several options.

As with the rest of the baby led weaning style food on this blog, these snacks are low in salt, so you don't need to worry about how much your toddler is snacking on during the day. Roman has been having the couscous balls since he first started eating solids, so many of these suggestions are not just good for toddlers, but for babies too.

1. Rice Cakes
There is always a pack of these in our pantry. I buy the thin, plain, no salt ones. There are some flavoured mini ones in the baby food section at the supermarket, but they are about 10 times the price of the adult ones, and Roman is just as happy with the plain ones. He has them topped with peanut butter, avocado, cream cheese or plain. I break them in half for him and he holds one piece in each hand.

2. Peas
Everyone has a bag of frozen peas in the freezer. But you don't have to get a pot on the stove to cook them. Just put a handful into a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water from the kettle. Leave them to sit for about 5 minutes until soft and then strain. They will keep for a few days covered in the fridge.

Peas are great for babies developing their pincer grip and it's very cute to watch them delicately pick one up and put it in their mouth. Roman has been having these since he was about 9 months, and he's never choked on them.

Peas straight from the freezer are a great snack for older kids, especially on a hot day.

3. Couscous
The best thing about making couscous for babies is that it doesn't matter if you're bad at making couscous and it always come out lumpy, because that's how babies like it.

Boil the kettle and put 1/4 cup of couscous into a heatproof bowl. Add 1/4 cup boiling water, give a quick stir, cover and leave to sit for 5 - 10 minutes. Take a teaspoon of the couscous and squash it together in your hands to make a ball.

4. Chickpeas
High in fibre and protein, canned chickpeas are a great instant snack. Look for the no added salt, organic ones. I imagine the toasted chickpeas would be good too, although I haven't tested them out on Roman yet. Again, I'd make sure they're low in salt.

5. Rough Scrambled Egg
This isn't an even, pale yellow like regular scrambled egg, but more a white and yellow scramble.

Heat up a small fry pan and add a slick of oil or a knob of butter. Crack in an egg and quickly mix it together with a spoon. You can crack it into a separate bowl first to mix it up, but why dirty another dish? Swirl the egg about and it should only take 1 - 2 minutes to cook. Cut into strips to serve.

Hard boiled eggs are also a good snack, but they obviously take a bit longer to cook.

Some snacks that require a bit more preparations:
Mini Savoury Muffins (freezer friendly)
Risotto Cakes
Sugar Free Carrot and Date Cupcakes (freezer friendly)
Warm Buttered Apple
Yogurt Snack Pancakes (freezer friendly)
Zucchini Slice (freezer friendly)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Easy Polar Bear Glove Puppet

Polar Bear Glove Puppet

This little hand puppet makes bath time more fun. It doubles as a wash cloth too. I made a few up using the leftover pieces of towelling from making the bath robe.

It's quick and easy to put together and you have a few options for doing the face. For one, I glued on the nose and used fabric paint for the eyes and mouth. For the other, I hand stitched the features on. Either method works well, just go with what you prefer.

Polar Bear Glove Puppet

You'll need:
2 pieces of towelling about 15 x 25 cm (6 x 10 inches)
Scrap of colourfast black fabric for the nose
Glue or thread to attach nose
Fabric paint or thread to make eyes and mouth
Sewing supplies

Polar Bear Glove Puppet

Cut out 2 pieces for the body, using your hand as a guide for the size. Mine were 15 x 25 cm (6 x 10 inches).

Polar Bear Glove Puppet

Round off the tops of the pieces and cut 2 little semi circles for the ears. Using your black fabric, cut a triangle for the nose, and round off the sides a bit. Just play with it until you're happy. I used a scrap of felt.

Polar Bear Glove Puppet Polar Bear Glove Puppet
                      Left - Face stitched on now                                      Right - Lining up features to glue on at the end        
If you want to stitch the face on, then I'd do it now. If you're gluing, then save it until the end.

Go around the edges of the ears with a serger. If you don't have one, you could use a wide and short zigzag or finish the edges with bias binding.

Put the body pieces right sides together and sandwich the ears in the middle, with the bottoms (flat edges) pointing out. Serge around the outside of the body (or finish as mentioned above). I actually think that bias binding would be a lovely neat way to finish these off.

Turn it right side out and finish around the bottom (serge or binding).

If you haven't put the face on yet, then add it now. Draw the mouth onto a scrap of paper and play around with the layout until you're happy. You can see that in the slightly creepy picture above where I was using pins to position the eyes. Glue on the nose with some fabric glue and draw on the eyes and mouth with fabric paint.

Polar Bear Glove Puppet

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

This recipe is on high rotation at our place during Summer. It's pretty quick to put together, although you do need to marinade the steak. The longer the better, but if you forget, 15 mins is better than nothing. I have left the marinade off before, but it's just not the same.

We put noodles in to make it more of a dinner, but you can leave them out for a light meal.

Thai Beef Salad
serves 2

400g steak (I use rump or 2 pieces of porterhouse)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 capsicum, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, cut into quarters and sliced
handful mint leaves, chopped
handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
handful cashews or peanuts, toasted
your choice of noodles

2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tsp sugar
1 spring onion, finely minced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 1 lime, or half a lemon

Mix marinade ingredients and pour over steak in a shallow dish. Turn the steak over to make sure both sides are coated and cover and refrigerate, overnight if you can.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl, leaving to let sugar dissolve. Taste for balance and adjust with more sugar, fish sauce, or lime juice as needed.

For the steak, heat a fry pan, griddle or bbq to very hot and grill steak for a few minutes each side, or to suit. Move to a clean board and rest for a few minutes. While the steak is resting, cook the noodles as per packet instructions (mine took 2 minutes). Slice steak into strips.

Drain noodles and add to a large bowl with all remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over and toss well. Divide salad among 2 bowls and top with steak. Pour over any dressing left in the bottom of the bowl and any steak juice. Sprinkle over nuts.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Valentine's Day Sundae

Ice Cream Sundae

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and I suspect this applies to a lot of girls too...it certainly does for me! Hubby and I both have a huge sweet tooth and for Valentine's Day we decided to make up our own little sundaes.

You won't find anything fancy on this blog for Valentine's Day. No heart shaped macarons or 10 layer pink ombre cakes...just something easy and delicious! It is things for boys after all. We had everything for the sundae already in the fridge (is that bad?) and it was quick to put together and very satisfying.

You all know how to make a sundae, but just in case you're a bit too tired to remember...Take an extra large scoop of your favourite ice cream and put it in a bowl. Add your favourite topping (we used Strawberry Sauce) and add all the little extra bits that make a sundae so awesome. We used:
- chopped nuts
- chocolate shavings
- a squirt of cream

These would also be good:
- sprinkles
- more topping
- mini marshmallows
- crushed up biscuits
- banana
- choc chips
- a spoonful of Nutella or peanut butter
- pop rocks

Don't forget the cherry on top!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Waste not, want not - Spring Onions for Free

Spring Onions

I feel like a bit of a chump for not trying this sooner. All the times I've thrown out the bottoms of my Spring Onions when I could have been growing new ones for nothing! I thought that this must be a myth I've heard, but it was no effort to test out and I'm so glad I did. Also, why do these little things have so many names? Scallions, spring onions, green onions, shallots...crazy!

Anyway... To grow your own, put the white bottoms with roots (that you were about to put in the garbage) into a glass of water in a sunny window and watch as your onions regrow. Amazing! Refresh the water every few days and just cut off what you need. It took 1 - 2 weeks for my spring onions to get to harvesting stage.

Update: March 2012 - I cut and re-grew these twice before they started smelling a bit disgusting, so I threw then out. I think I had a bit too much water in them. I've got a new batch in the window now.

This is also a great project to get little kids interested in gardening and growing their own food. It doesn't take long for them to see results.

On another note, I've added a new 'Print' button to the footer of my posts. Now you can easily print out a recipe or tutorial if needed. The function is pretty cool and gives you the option to remove all images, or select any you don't want. You can also remove any paragraphs of text that you don't want to print. I think it's super handy and easy to use.

Spring Onions

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Making a Kids Bath Robe from 2 Towels

Beach Robe

Last week, we took Roman swimming for the first time. Once he figured out he could splash, he loved it! So we took him again. After several failed attempts to try and book a baby swim class, I've decided I'm going to teach him to swim myself.

After just 2 trips to the pool, I've realised that a towel doesn't cut it. On our walk home from the pool, Roman's towel fell off the pram twice. Luckily, it was a warm day. We headed down to the beach for the weekend, so I made up a little robe to keep him covered after a dip.

Making the most of the finished edges already on the towel, this quick project took only 20 minutes to sew up.

This robe is great for bath time, a trip to the beach or the pool and is probably nice to laze about in on a Sunday morning.

I made it nice and large, hoping that it will fit for a few seasons. I'm guessing I've made a size 3 - 4. There was a bit of towel left, so it could easily be cut a bit larger, or extra large towels could be used to make one for a bigger kid.

Kids Bath Robe

You'll need:
2 bath towels - 130cm x 65cm (50" x 25") or larger
sewing supplies

If you bought the towels just for this project, wash them first.

Beach Robe
Beach Robe

Lay your towels out and cut out the pieces as shown. The pieces are positioned so that the bands on the towels are a feature of the finished robe, running around the bottom of the robe, hood and sleeves.

I've put the measurements I used on there, but you can adjust as needed. The main measurements you need are the sleeve length, body length and a measurement around the waist.

This step is optional, but it makes the robe fit a bit better. Cut out curves for the sleeves and the neck. These are marked red in the picture above. I just guessed these, but the length of the curves should be the same.

Beach Robe

I used a top of Roman's as a template and cut the hood a couple of inches bigger all the way around so that it has plenty of room.

Beach Robe

Lay out the back piece and put the front pieces on top, right sides together. Sew the shoulder seams. I used my overlocker for this project because it finishes the towels off neatly. The towelling sheds a lot when it's been cut, so the overlocker does a good job of stopping this. I don't see why you couldn't use a sewing machine though, just finish off the raw edges with a zig zag or overcast stitch.

Beach Robe

Sew the sleeves to the body, right sides together.

Beach Robe

Match up the side seams of the body and the sleeve seams and sew these up. Sew the hood pieces together and then attach the hood to the robe.

Lastly, if you are making a tie from the towelling, sew the two pieces together and finish off the edges.


Beach Robe

If you have an eagle eye, you'll notice that all my seams are pale blue. It's not an intentional fancy design feature, I'm just too scared to change the threads on my overlocker. Everything I sew on the overlocker has blue seams. : /

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Make your own Baking Powder

Baking Powder

You probably think I'm crazy for even suggesting this, but I promise you there's method to my madness. For years now I've been making my own self raising flour. It's just plain (all purpose) flour mixed with baking powder. Nice and simple. I like knowing it's fresh when I make it, rather than sitting in the cupboard for ages and it also means I can store less in the pantry because I only have one kind of flour.

The only problem with making my own, is that baked goods often have a bit of a metallic aftertaste. After some research, I discovered this is because many store bought baking powders have aluminium in them. This lead me to making my own baking powder...see, we got there in the end! Baking powder is actually very simple to make and uses things you probably already have in the pantry. Since I've started using home made, the metallic taste is gone and my cakes rise more than using store bought. Double win!

The baking powder is made from bi-carbonate soda (baking soda), cream of tartar and cornflour. The bi-carb and cream of tartar are the raising agents which react with liquid when you make your baked goodies. The cornflour is there to keep the moisture out of your mix. I have listed some substitutions for the cornflour at the bottom. As long as this is stored in a dry environment, it has an indefinite shelf life.

Baking Powder

2 tbsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp bi-carbonate soda (baking soda)
1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch) *See alternatives below

Sift all ingredients together and then stir well to make sure it is evenly mixed. Store in an airtight container. 1 tsp of this baking powder is equal to 1 tsp of store bought baking powder. If you use a lot, you can of course mix up a larger batch, keeping the ratios the same.

To make self raising flour: For every half cup of flour, use 1/2 cup plain (all purpose) flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Sift and stir together well.

*If you have an intolerance to cornflour, you can substitute with potato starch, rice flour or arrowroot.

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