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Tutorial :: Cushion Cover

I have a confession.  When I see tutorials on making cushion covers I think "D'uh, who can't sew a simple cushion cover!?"  But I have noticed in blogs that people are really rather keen to take up sewing. So what better thing to try your hand than a cushion cover. And I wouldn't be providing a Usefulbox of craft if I didn't cover all levels of sewing. 

So here we are, my take on a simple cushion cover. 

Materials needed:
  • Fabric & cushion insert
  • Sharp scissors
  • Thread - can use contrasting coloured thread
  • Buttons - quantity depending on the size of your cushion
  • Pins & unpicker

My cushion insert was 40cm x 60cm which I bought from Ikea. I just popped the insert on the folded fabric (also from Ikea) and estimated the fold over or 'envelope'. 

Once you've sized it all up, fold over the ends of the short side in order to hem it. 

Turn to right side after pressing.  Place your buttons on the fold to work out the positioning of the buttonholes. Use pins to mark the size of the buttonholes. I chose to use a different coloured thread for the buttonholes. 

TIP: To cut open your buttonholes, pin across one end.  Poke your unpicker into the other end in the middle of the stitching and push up to rip.  The pin at the top end with save your unpicker going through past the buttonhole.

You now have the finished ends of the "envelope".  With right sides together, fold over with the buttonhole side in the middle with the underside overlapping. 

 Sew & overlock the side seams.

Turn to the right side and press. 

I decided to stuff the cushion with the insert and while a pin is holding it shut, I then pinned where the buttons should be placed.  I pushed a pin through the buttonhole for placement. 

The way that I sew on buttons with the machine, is to take off the foot, turn to the stitch setting to the horizontal buttonhole stitch & press down the foot to hold in place.  And sew!

Once all the buttons are sewn on & you've popped in the insert...You have a cushion cover!  Voila!

Happy sewing!

Nothing like a bit of inspiration at Craft Gawker to get your craft on!

Ok, Ok, I haven't been around much.  I'm sorry about that.  I guess family life has taken me a little away from individual pursuits.  Not that I haven't been sewing, I have.  I just haven't had the time, and honestly, the inclination to write about it.  When I have a break from Little Buddy, I find myself drinking tea, watching some drivel on the internet or maybe, you know, having a shower.

I've made a couple of things in the last few months: Little Buddy's first birthday outfit, My dress to wear to said birthday, present sacks for the family, a Tova top & generally just bumbled around fixing up half made things.

The old internet is distracting me from here too.  I've become even more addicted to my google reader & now the crossover to Feedly.  But what I have found more over is Craft Gawker.

I read it on my phone most of the time, while I'm feeding Little Buddy or when I am drinking my tea.  I just zone out & look at all the clever things people do. Pick it up for free here.

I think of it as a gigantic roundup of all the craft & DIY projects out there. You can favourite them too by clicking on the heart (easy for me to do!) & that way you collect & keep the projects that take your fancy.

All you have to do is click the picture of what you like & you'll be sent to the site. You can also see how many other like it & what has been the favourite or "most gawked" in the last week.

These 4 posts are the most "favourited", wow!

I'm also in the process of adding some projects of my own, starting with baby cot sheets. It's pretty easy to add your own.

Another awesome thing about this site is that there are other gawker sites: Foodgawker, Dwellinggawker, Stylegawker & Weddinggawker. The food one is a fav of mine too.

So check them out.  Be warned, it's addictive!

Yum yums :: Apple & Strawberry puffs

This dessert came out of nowhere really...just that we fancied some dessert but not planned it before dinner. I came up with this by just looking in the freezer & fridge.

The results? Yum.

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed & cut into 4 squares
Strawberry jam
2 apples, granny smiths would be best but we only had royal galas
4 strawberries, thinly sliced
Butter, scoop of
Maple syrup, just a splash
Vanilla essence, couple of drops
Brown sugar, tablespoon
Passion fruit, optional to serve
Yoghurt/cream/ice cream, optional to serve

Serves 4


Pre heat the oven to 200degrees.

Grease an oven tray with butter.

Peel & core the apples. Slice lengthways.

Meanwhile, cut the puff pastry into 4 squares & spread with the jam. You could use marmalade or any other flavour jam. I found using the back of the spoon easy to spread the jam, just like a pizza! Keep the jam off the edges so that the pastry can puff up there.
Melt the butter in a shallow saucepan. Add the apples along with the maple syrup, vanilla & sugar. Slowly cook until they begin to soften.

Once the apples are soft & the syrup has coated them all, spoon them onto each pastry piece. Take the saucepan off the heat but leave the syrup in the pan. Pop the tray into the oven for 20mins or until puffed & brown.
Toss the thinly sliced strawberries in the syrup & leave them in the pan to heat slightly while the pastry is in the oven.

Once the pastry is lovely & brown, take them out of the oven. Divide up the syrupy strawberries onto each square & if there is any syrup left, pour that over the strawberries.

You are now ready to serve so place on plates & dollop some cream/yoghurt/ice cream on the top with some passion fruit if in season! Serve immediately.

Voila! Yum.

Make it this weekend & let me know how you go!

Interior Lust :: Ikea Hacks

I have a feeling that I may just be becoming addicted to interior design & homewares. I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

I'm also planning some large furniture purchases so I'm scouring interior blogs & getting very excited.

I've always been a fan of Ikea & been impressed with some recent purchases. Therefore we are going with Ikea for our prospective furniture.

Thus I have been immersed into the world of 'Ikea Hackers' & it's blowing my mind!! I find myself thinking 'could I ever think of that?'.

Ikea hackers seems to be the most comprehensive site filled with great (& some not so great) ideas.

Here are just a few of my fav's from the site.

All photos from Ikea Hackers website
** Tutorial for those fabulous hot air balloons can be found here.  Could be a great idea for Little Buddy's next birthday or great gift ideas!

There are also many many Pinterest boards dedicated to these hacks. Check them out here. Endless inspiration there!

It's got me wondering how I can hack my planned furniture. I'm thinking about how I can hack a cheap chest of drawers into a computer hatch. Hmmmmm...


A busy five months..

Here is the reason why I have been absent from this blog...Little Buddy! It's been hectic around here for the last few months & that's not just the arrival of Little Buddy (his new pen name).

We are now back home & enjoying being in a very familiar place.  There really is no place like home.

The kindness we have experienced in this time has been overwhelming.  The love & support we have been given is just amazing. Those people know who they are & we will be forever thanking them.

I've slowly been able to get back into my crafty pursuits...boy have I missed them.  I'm currently pining for my sewing machine! I've made a few baby things namely some more sheets & a footmuff for the pram.  This you will see in an upcoming tutorial.

So I'm busily planning some regular posts which will hopefully feature some guest writers & some interviews with clever people.

Right now, I think I might try to have a nap...


Craft fail!

Okay, so this blog is to celebrate craft triumphs along with fails. So here, I present a fail.

Also this post could go down in the "too much information" label but I want to share all successes & misses with you.

Obviously, having a baby is expensive.  We all know that.  So I have been trying to cut some expenses where I can, make what I can & just get the exact things that we need. Afterall, we don't need THAT much stuff.

One of those areas is this idea of paying $20 per box of disposable breast pads. I hadn't really noticed how expensive they were as they were far far down on my "to get" list.  But then they registered on my radar when my sister suggested that I make them out of face washers!  BRILLIANT! She's clever that big sis.

The plan was perfect.  I bought about 6 face washers for $2.90, washed them & worked out I could get 2 pairs out of one washer.  Genius!

I lined up all the materials ready to show you how to do it & got cutting out my perfect little circles traced from a mug.

Then I sat down to the machine & tried to get busy zig zagging the edges.  It's just like Appliqué, I said to myself.  Just edge around the circle with a nice tight zig zag & we'll have cheap, reusable pads in a jiffy.

Here is where things started to unravel...literally.  Due to the terry towelling fabric of the face washer & the fact that I was not using an overlocker, the edges just got jammed in the feed dog & frayed like crazy!

You may not be able to tell from the pic above but here is an attempted pad...all unraveled at the edge & wonky.  I admit it, I swore.  Loudly. 

Here I am trying to be cost effective, had a brilliant plan only to find myself wishing I was back home with my trusty overlocker by my side (insert other homesick thoughts here...lots of them!)

To make matters worse, I've gone to 2 alteration places locally & they don't seem to have an overlocker either.  Or for that matter, interested in making a couple of bucks in edging these little puppies for me.  Maybe that's wise...more wise than me. 

So I'm in a pickle..the alteration ladies think I'm from another planet in trying to make them, me knowing how easy it would be & now faced with either giving up by buying the wretched disposable ones. 

Any ideas anyone? They would be most welcome.

Tutorial :: Baby cot sheets

We bought a cot last weekend along with the change table &, in advance, the high chair.  All from Ikea.  I don't really understand why people spend so much on cots when this one is fine.  Having said that though, when we took it out of the box in our excitement to put it up, it needed some sanding.

I wasn't much good at the sanding part so I stuck to what I am good at.  My contribution to this was the making of the cot sheets.  Here's another thing I don't understand, why I should pay too much when I can whip it up.  I guess that the plus of being able & willing to sew! I bought this starry sheeting from Spotlight for $10 for 2m at 240cm wide.  I had hoped to get 3 sheets out of it but I only got two plus some spare material to make bloomers or swaddles.

I had tried in my head to work out how to make them but after looking online, there were some much easier ways!  Here is my step by step guide to making baby cot fitted sheets.


Enough fabric to fit around the mattress (see calculations below)
Cotton to match fabric
Elastic, 6mm to 1cm thick, depending on your preference or what you have in your useful box
Iron, Fabric scissors & your trusty machine

Time to make up

New sewers - 2 hours
Intermediate to advanced sewers - 1 hour


This is a bit tricky but makes sense once you get going. Basically your sheet needs to fit across, around & have enough at the back to hold. 

My mattress was 120cm h x 60cm w x 10cm d.  Time for some maths! Add twice the depth to both sides & top & bottom.  Therefore my finished sheet was 160cm h x 100cm w.  Plus I then added on 5cm of Seam Allowance all around.  Making the final measurement 165cm h x 105cm w. 

This pic might make better sense!

Cutting out

So you have your sheeting piece laid out, hopefully all flat & the selvedges meet up perfectly.  Measure out your final sizing including seam allowance (165cm x 105cm) & cut out.  I folded over a couple of layers to make it faster to cut out (& because I could't get down on my hands & knees to cut out on the floor!)

Fold your final cut sized pieces in half (just to make things quicker).  In each corner, measure out squares that we will need to cut out.  To be precise, these are the squares which measure double the depth of the mattress.  So in my case I am cutting out squares of 20cm. 

Next we take up the corners & with right sides together, join up the right angle.  Stitch at 1.2cm seam allowance.  It's better to sew from the point to the edge of the fabric.

If you have an overlocker (boy, do I miss my overlocker!), you'll need to zig zag down the edge of the fabric so it doesn't fray. Press. Repeat for all corners. 

Next is the hot work...With the wrong side of the fabric facing you, begin at a corner seam & fold over 2.5cm or 1 inch.  This equates to half of your overall seam allowance around the sheet. I find that pressing with a hot iron as I go the easiest.  Work your way around the sheet. 

Once you have worked a nice pressed inch (or your nominated seam allowance) right the way around the cot sheet, it's time to start making a nice hem.  Simply turn the hem edge back under itself to the pressed line.  Press again. 

You'll end up with something like this...a nice pressed edge ready to be hemmed. 

NOTE: if you have an overlocker, you can skip a step here.  Simply overlock all the edges & then press & turn the hem over once & stitch. You lucky thing!

Now it's time to sew up & right the way around the sheet.  I lined up the edge with a marking on my base plate of the machine & just whizzed around on a straight stitch. 

Once you've finished the hem (wasn't that fun!), now it's time for the fun part & adding in the elastic.  There isn't any mathematical reason as to why I choose 20cm to cut my pieces of elastic.  It just seemed like a logical size considering the squares I cut out in each corner.  So I snipped up 4 pieces of 6mm elastic at 20cm. 

The basic rule of sewing elastic is that you need to stretch it as you sew over the area that needs to be gathered or stretchy. So I pinned an end of the elastic 20cm from each direction of the corner seam.  This making my 20cm elastic stretch over a 40cm area. 

The 'slack' should look like this. 

Now time for sewing, place your machine on a zig zag stitch that is roughly the same width as your elastic. 

Now carefully, place one end of the elastic under the foot & press down.  Use the hand wheel to secure a few first stitches (take your pin out so that it doesn't snap under the pin!).  

Now, you'll need to use both hands to stretch the elastic flat against the sheet while making sure it doesn't snap back behind the needle.  i.e: the 20cm elastic should lay flat against the 40cm of fabric.  This cause some pressure on the machine & foot so you'll need to be vigilant. Always remember to do a few stitches in reverse to secure the ends of the thread.  Behind the needle, you should have a nice gathered corner! Repeat on all corners.

Now it's time to tell if it fits...stretch onto the mattress.  Voila! 

This technique is not just for baby cots, we can employ the exact same instructions on any mattress.  I actually think I may make all our sheets from now least for the baby for now anyway.

Good luck & let me know how you go!