Saturday, February 28, 2009

Free Finnish patterns

From the same place (Ottobre Design) that I got my cloth nappy pattern, I discovered a wealth of great + free PDF patterns. Like a cute mouse toy complete with clothes, a teddy bear rattle, or a "dotted dream" purse (pictured).

Their website says: OTTOBRE Design is a magazine specializing in children's and youth fashion. Each issue includes more than forty trendy designs and complete patterns and instruction for sewing.

I'm keen to get a subscription - based on the free goodies, the magazine must be full of inspiration for someone like me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New stuff on Etsy

After my friends loved my strapless dress I decided to make some for my shop. I also added some new panels.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Midlands Meandering

We spent the whole day in the car yesterday on the midlands meander. For those of you not familiar, it's a collection of driving routes north of Durban, just past Pietermaritzburg, scattered with interesting (with mostly home or locally made produce) shops, restuarants, accomodation, etc.

I've been going on it sporadically for the last decade (or more, shew I feel old) but this time was definitely the best. We got good recommendations from family. Two highlights were Groundcover and the Caversham Mill restuarant.

Groundcover is a leather works/shop which sells fantastic shoes (we bought the baby some blue suede numbers) from sandals to veltskoen, nguni hide rugs, bags, jackets... Well designed and made.

The Caversham Mill restuarant is set right next to a river/mini waterfall and I had a delicious quiche for lunch. (Gunter's is where I usually like to go to enjoy a German sausage but luckily for the vegetarian friend it was closed on tuesdays!

We would have liked to go on the Karkloof canopy tours, but with the babby it would have been a little difficult. She needs to practise her monkey grip first ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

South African shack chic

The other day when I was shopping at my favourite haunt, the Victoria Street Market, I bought these sheets of chip packets (and odds and sods). People use them as table cloths, wall paper, just generally for home decor. I have no idea what to do with them yet, but because I had never seen them for sale before, I just couldn't resist.

Monday, February 23, 2009


How cute is this 'damnit doll' idea?
I will be bookmarking this craft site - Craft Bits

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cheaters' quilt - baby mat

I hestitate to call this a quilt, but I guess it qualifies in a very vague way.
My m-i-l makes intricate, creative and beautiful quilts, so that is why i hestitate. hopefully she opens an etsy shop soon!

I used some blue 'three elephants' shwe shwe. Conveniently I have some available in my Etsy store :D

I made the animals using an iron on paper - tracing + cutting out the shapes. Here are a selection of some african animals:

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Yet another site for inspiration... the blog of magazine Craft. Unfortunately they are no longer publishing the magazine (they have been merged with Make magazine) but their blogs and website are full of great ideas.

Friday, February 20, 2009

sew your own (shwe shwe/schwe schwe) skirt+dress fabric panels

I mentioned that I went fabric shopping the other day and now I have listed some of my skirt panels. If don't know what to do with them, check out how to make my strapless dress howto

I am just mad about shwe shwe skirt panels. If you want to buy schwe schwe and you don't know what to do with it, just buy skirt panels. It is really dress making made easy. (Thanks Niall :)

If you want to make the dress skirt check the strength and thickness of the elastic thread you buy. Get a good quality because I found that out the hard way today while I unpicked 7 rows (I was making one of those dresses I already mentioned ;)

Here they are (click on the images to go to the listing)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Been keeping out of trouble

Capetown, South AfricaImage by azaldin via Flickr

Sorry for my laziness/lack of posting lately. Since we got back from Cape Town it's been go-go-go!

I went fabric shopping again, and bought loads of shwe-shwe skirt panels - I have sold out in my shop and I have started making some of those dresses. I am going to see if I can sell some in my Etsy shop.

I have got a lot of other projects lined up - repairing the old cloth nappies, sewing some larger size ones, and making bags to sell in the 5th May market in Utrecht (the Netherlands). Oh ja, and don't forget about the t-shirt stuff! (I bought a J-Zee (Jacob Zuma) tee - ready to go.)

An update about the Melville Quilt - I found someone on Etsy who loved it (yay). I posted it off to Esse yesterday. Click on her name to visit her shop.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Someone special

There will be a new addition to this blog... Helen my mother-in-law. I do believe she is the one who introduced me to shwe-shwe and she has loads of exciting things to share with us. I'm going to show her the blogger ropes later and let's see what the future holds.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Plush cupcake anyone?

Cute and unusual (cupcake, fortune cookie, loaf of bread, etc) plush toys... patterns from Cherry Mix here

Monday, February 16, 2009

Baby changing mat

I made this bubble wrap changing mat while I was still pregnant and then again after my original mat fell out of the bottom of the pram.

It's pretty simple to make:
1) decide how big to make your mat (mine is 63 x 38 cm).
2) cut two pieces out of your chosen fabric (I choose easy-to-wipe vinyl usually used for table cloths).
3) cut one piece the same size out of bubble wrap.
4) sandwich together with the bubble wrap on the inside and the right sides of the fabric on the outside.
5) sew around the edge.
6) neaten the edges with bias binding (this step is easier if you round the edges so you can use one piece for the diameter).

This took me literally 10 minutes to make (although I do admit the bias binding is very untidy - so don't zoom in :).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pan African market meets Melville Quilt

I was at the Pan Africa Market (Long street, Cape Town) the other day, buying one of those barber shop pictures, and lo and behold I came across my Melville Quilt. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised because I heard they were available at the Victoria Street Market (Durban) also.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What to do with all those misshapen t-shirts...

I was browsing the books at the Exclusive Books sale yesterday and found an inspiring book., Save this shirt. Classic ideas on how to cut and simply sew new outfits from old t-shirts. I've sadly thrown out loads of shirts with classic prints, but no more. The beginning

Friday, February 13, 2009

Etsy shops from ZA

When I first signed up to etsy it seemed there were few shops from South Africa. I thought mainly because PayPal won't let us receive money (unless we conveniently have an overseas bank account).

Then I was pointed in the direction of skinnylaminix (who since I have been in CT is just about everywhere) who uses Setcom. Her sales are pretty good (nearly 2000) so obviously people aren't put off by having to sign up for something else if they really want your product. Her product is awesome - I especially like her I wish we had Ikea range.

Here are some other interesting South African shops
  • Someone from near Durban who re-purposes vintage stuff - FreshlyFound
  • Bellazoo - strange but wonderful (adult?) toys
  • TheWren - cute birdy purses

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Yesterday I mentioned the heartomatic, but didn't link to the real deal. Hosted on a site called craft cult, it's the most useful Etsy tool I have found (one useful thing about the forums). It's basically an easy way to get an overview of your hearts. For the uninitiated, hearts are a way for people to bookmark your shop or items and show their interest to purchase or just that they like your stuff. What I find most useful thing my heartomatic is seeing the ratio of views to hearts - a very crude tool to see what stock is popular.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I made a sale from my etsy store last night, which is always cause for excitement - I don't make many - yet! What's interesting is that it was the baobab skirt panels ... The brown spider web panels didn't make a great impression on the heartomatic. Now what I need to figure out - was it the price, the colour, or the design. What do you think?

Crafty Crafty

If you struggle to keep up with all the different craft blogs, checkout crafty crafty - which aggregates all the best from the web. Plenty of DIY and howtos to keep you busy for a long while.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More about nappies

Finally my waterproof nappy (PUL) fabric arrived from America. It was posted on the 10th of December, so I was convinced it was lost in the post, but when I saw the envelope I knew why. The person who posted it didn't know ZA stood for South Africa and guessed Zambia (nice try). Then in all the confusion they wrote Gambia. It must have done a tour of Africa.
I bought it from A Cut Above Fabrics which also does diaper sized pieces, which is nice if you want a variety. I choose some bumble bees and cats with fishbowls.

Monday, February 9, 2009

She wears shwe shwe

She wears shwe shwe is a cute blog featuring people on the streets who wear shwe shwe; obviously in South Africa that is quite a lot. I love candid and street style blogs, so this one is right up my alley. The creator also sews and posts about her shwe shwe sewing projects.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cool baby

I have a Dutch book called Cool Baby with really neat ideas like creating a kid rain poncho out of an old umbrella, or baby outfits out of t-shirts, jerseys out of scarves, or dresses from jean pant legs.

I have gotten so much inspiration... like the idea to create my brother a dreads shower cap out of a dead umbrella. There is really a gap in the market here but I must perfect my design. He says it drips cold water down his neck (brrrr).

Then I made baby C some dress from B's old and stained t-shirts. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos along the way to show you exactly how, but here is a rough guide.

I cut (roughly) along the red lines seen in the photo, measuring against another dress of hers to be sure the width and length would be good.

First I cut in the middle of the v-neck, then in a square around (both sides). Then enough to make a skirt using the right edge, and including the cute polo logo.

Then I pinned them together, criss-crossing the collar like you see in the finished dress. I cut whatever was left over once I pinned the skirt to the top and sewed around, making sure that the whole collar edge was caught in the seam.

Then, if the fabric is nice, you can use the rest to make bibs!

Shwe shwe cushion covers

Making cushions is an quick and easy way to give your room a fresh look; have a few to switch around. When making cushion covers, don't bother with zips or fasteners - use a pillowcase design.

Don't these shwe-shwe pool lounges look great? I spied them at a friend's house.

I love the intricate design - always a feature of shweshwe...

Here are some free patterns so you can make your own. If you need fabric, check out my Etsy store to see what shwe shwe I have in stock.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blogger sucks!

It seems like forever that I haven't had my Edit Posts dialog working properly. And I only just started this blog - what a shame. I have been googling to see if anyone can help, but none of the fixes (clean cache, cookies, change settings) are working. I've even tried 3 browsers and 2 different computers. How can the blogger interface be so crap it breaks like this and everyone thinks it is their fault?
I will try again later....
Let's hold thumbs because I really have some exciting things to share with you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


So I am feeling a little depressed. Blogger is still not working 100% so I can't add any images to posts and yesterday my nappies fell apart in a wash. It was the second time they were washed, but in a different machine, so I am not sure if it was the machine or something wrong. If it was something with the nappies, I can only think either, my usual story of using sub-standard fabric (1 euro special for the cute penguin flannel) or because I didn't follow the pattern which suggested sewing around the pad once you have attached the waterproof/outside layer. So, hopefully the next post will be more cheerful. We are off the Cape Town for a little jaunt so I'm sure it will be.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I like this Etsy shop

Another photo-less blog post - there seems to be something wrong with Blogger cos everyday there is something new broken. Today and yesterday, the image loading buttons have gone missing :( So instead of showing you some shwe-shwe cushion covers, I'll tell you about an Etsy shop I like.

MonkeyThreads it is called, and they make vinyl wall stickers. I'm definitely going to get some for my new house. I love the paper airplane but I am also a sucker for the birds.

And if you don't like some from that shop, there are plenty more to choose from!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cut out and Keep

I love this site Cut out and Keep
There are always great ideas, like these ...
a chair transformation
and reconstructing second hand sweaters...

Enjoy :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Melville Quilt

I saw a women in Melville selling these quilts and felt compelled to buy one. The only hitch is that I won't be able to convince my husband that we should hang it. I might not even be able to convince myself. So the question is, what to do with it? I am taking suggestions...

The story is as follows (as explained to me). The lady and her husband do their washing. Then they are making peanuts and caring for the babies while the women down below are carrying water back home. The grandmother sweeps and cleans up while the washing dries.

Spot some of the fabric from my store, it is just a different colour.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

strapless shwe shwe dress

This pattern is a winner - it's a dress and high waisted skirt combo, and is real easy to make. Best of all no bra is necessary because the elastic in the smocking keep you snug.

As I overheard 'panels are dressmaking made simple'. Very true - if you use at the standard length, there is no need for finishing hemline seams.

All you do is take some panels, in my case I used eight panels in three different patterns. If they are still connected together, cut out panels.

Pin the panels right sides together so narrow edges are together at the top and wide edges at the bottom. Do not sew together in a circle - leave it flat as shown in the picture. Finish the raw edges using a serge stitch.

Then thread some elastic thread (used for smocking) onto the sewing machine bobbin.
Sew in straight lines starting from the top of the garment. Sew on the right side. The first three should be close together (say 1cm) then the next three at 2cm and the rest at 5cm until you have 15cm (at least enough to cover your breasts). In order to keep the elastic lines straight, I suggest marking the fabric with a removable marker (e.g. chalk). Finally sew up the two edges so you have a finished dress.

If you want to make this pattern without the standard skirt panels, use this guide to make your own: each skirt panel measures (without seam allowance)
91cm long (0.99 yards),
13cm wide (0.14 yards) at the top
25.5cm (0.28 yards) at the bottom.

For my dress I used 8 panels and I am a size 78cm (32 inches) under the bust and 91cm (36 inches) over the bust.

I have some panels available in my etsy shop:
brown spidersweb
baobab tree
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