Quick Gift Box

Hello, long time no see. So much has happened over the last year. Much of which I don’t feel comfortable sharing just yet.

But to kickstart my blog again I thought I’d make a quick tutorial on a gift box I made.

What you need:

  • Thick Scrapbook Paper
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Protractor Triangle
  • Scotch Tape or Glue

scrapbook paper

I used this paper. It’s 21X15 CM.

How to fold

Measure out how big you want your box to be. This depends on the paper. My measurements were 8X2X8X2X1 CM.

Cut the paper lightly with the knife, just to make folding easier. After you did this, turn the paper and measure 2 CM for the overlap on the top and bottom. If you made the sides of your box bigger, make sure you’ll measure out the top and bottom accordingly.
Cut the sides on the top and bottom like the picture above shows.

Glue the 1CM overlap and the bottom or, if the glue won’t hold (like on my boxes) use scotch tape to put them together.

Gift Box

And that’s it, really. Quick and easy.

Christmas Wreath

Ever since I got my own place I’ve had a Christmas wreath on the front door. It’s been the same one for well over ten years and it’s become very tatty in those years. Ornaments kept falling off and the whole whing changed colour. So last year I decided it was time for a new one.
But apparently it’s hard to find a nice Christmas wreath which can go outside. I haven’t been able to find a nice one at a reasonable price.

A few days ago I was scouring the internet again and found a nice one made from ornaments, mainly balls. I thought I could make something like that myself.
Today, I had a go at it. And I think it looks really good.

Lights on

What you need:

  • Straw wreath (mine was 30 cm diameter)
  • Ribbon
  • lots of ornaments, both mini and midi (I used about 140)
  • String of beads (about 6 meters)
  • Battery powered LED lights (20 a string)
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks

Begin with placing the ribbon around the wreath and glue it in place.  Place some ornaments on the outside, spaced at regular intervals. Then, begin filling it up. Place the lights in where you want as you are placing the ornaments. I kept turning the lights on to see if I liked the placing of them. Try to fill most of the holes with balls or other ornaments you like. Don’t worry about the smaller holes. The can be filled with beads.
Glue the beads to the ornaments to prevent them from dropping off when you hang your wreath. The last thing you do is glue the batteries to the back of the wreath.

It’s really that simple. I love how my wreath has turned out and I’m amazed that I can make such a lovely thing as I’ve never been this creative before…

lights off

You can also use this as a table decoration. You can make it as big as you want, simply by using a bigger wreath. But make sure you’ve bought enough ornaments. I’ve ended up driving back to the shop a second time, as I didn’t even buy enough for half of the wreath…

What I’ve learned sewing.

I’m not an advanced sewer just yet. I’ve only bought a sewing machine last year. I’ve done sewing before, but I always had help. Preventing me from making silly mistakes.
So when I bought my first machine I made some mistakes, some silly, some not that silly.
What have a learned?

 Buying fabric

Make sure you buy enough fabric. Nothing is more frustrating than finding out you bought too little fabric and have to go back.
This goes for scraps as well. Make sure you got enough for what you are making. Many stores sell the last few centimeters/inches of their rolls as scraps and won’t get new rolls of the same fabric. If they have more than one roll, make sure they’re the same batch. Otherwise you can end up with slightly different colouring.
Buy more than you need. I always find myself going back for more. So now, when I need one meter, I buy two, just to be sure!

Ironing your fabric

So you’ve made sure you’ve got enough fabric? Wash and iron it. As soon as you get home. Of course you can choose to not wash it before, but the fabric might shrink a bit. And your project can get wonky if that happens.
Ironing is necessary too. For my first project I thought ironing was stupid. You won’t believe how wonky that sewing machine cosy is…
Make sure your fabric can be ironed. I’ve made this mistake twice and ended up having to clean the iron with nailpolish remover and a piece of wood…


Make sure you look at the pattern before cutting. I didn’t with the sewing machine cosy and ended up with one piece wrong side up and one piece on it’s side…
If you use stripes, make sure they line up.

Cutting fabric

Map out the pieces you need for your project on paper first. Then decide how they can best be cut out of the fabric. Trust me, you won’t end up with weird scraps…
I didn’t do this with the first bag. And while the piece of fabric would have been big enough for two bags, I ended up with a weirdly shpaed piece of fabric which has almost no use.
On the up side, I got to buy new fabric!

fabric scraps

I think that’s what I’ve found out so far. I’m sure there are many more great tips out there. But these are the ones I wanted to share.

photo by heatherknitz.

Toyota SPB15

I bought an old sewing machine last year. I really wanted to try my hand at sewing and thought I wouldn’t buy an expensive machine without knowing if it really was for me. I’ve sewed before using my moms machine, but I’ve always felt the sewing machine controlled me instead of the other way around. In school (many, many years ago) I’ve made one pillow. I didn’t like it. We couldn’t choose our own colours or our own design. It had to be Mondrianesque.
This resulted in a very wonky pillow, as I didn’t want to make it. I’d much rather tried my hand at woodworking, which the boys got to do.

So last year I bought this old machine for € 25,00. It worked perfectly, but there were only two stitches it could do. Straight and zig-zag. I couldn’t do button holes, I couldn’t do any nice stitches. And the extension table was missing. Presumably it had been missing for years, but it began to annoy me when sewing, as I had to hold the fabric up to the needle instead of resting it under my hands.

It clearly was time for a new sewing machine. But which one? There are so many different brands, so many different series. And one brand can have both bad and good series. But who can you trust? Which reviews are good? Which are bad? When the reviews told me the machine was good, people on forums said they couldn’t sew thicker pieces of fabric. When I thought a machine looked nice, people said it was too light and ‘walked’ across the table when sewing. I thought it would be best to wait for a while and see what came up.

toyota spb15

A few weeks back I wanted to go shopping (which almost never happens, as I don’t like shopping all that much) and we went to a nearby town that’s slightly larger than the one we live in. On our way back from the shops I wanted to go to a DIY store to check if they sell a certain item. While we were in there I saw the Toyota SPB15. On sale, for a little under € 65,00. Which sounded quite cheap. But, as I like to search online for reviews and pricing before buying anything, we went home without buying it.

That evening I’ve spent ages reading reviews, all of them very praiseful. I asked around on Twitter and got one reply from someone I know in real life and I know I can trust her. She, too, was praiseful about the machine. I’ve also looked at prices and the price was great. So the next day we went back to the DIY store and bought the sewing machine.

The next week I went to buy a few fabric scraps and began sewing. I’ve made a phone pouch, a few other bits and bobs and two messenger bags. Which I love!

The machine is quite easy to handle. Where I always had trouble threading the upper thread in the old machine, it’s very easy with the Toyota. Even threading the lower thread is so much more easy. With the old machine I had to get down on my knees and use a torch to see what I was doing. The Toyota has the bobbin case only inches away from the presser foot. This makes it so much easier as the light shines directly on it.

The machine is quite sturdy and doesn’t move whilst sewing. Well, only if you don’t place in on the fabric… (yes, I did that…)
The presser foot lever is in a much more reachable location in the Toyota than in the old machine. With the old machine I had to reach over the machine to get to the lever. Here I only have to get to the side of the face cover.

I’ve read one review that said the machine is quite bulky. I guess that depends on what you’re used to. I find it quite a bit smaller than my old machine. And it’s a lot lighter to carry. This is especially important for me as I don t have a place for it. I sew on the dining room table when I sew. And I put it in the attic when I’m done.

What I like about the Toyota SPB15:

  • easy to use
  • great manual
  • threading is very easy
  • lightweight
  • sturdy

What I would like the Toyota SPB15 to have:

  • Automatic threader
  • better hollow for carrying

What I mean by this? Well, I find it very hard to get the thread through the needle. I have those little helper things, but they break quite often and it’s hard to get hold of those things.
And the hollow for carrying the machine hurts my fingers. It also tips the machine a bit. This makes the foot controller fall off the machine. Which is a shame, as I now have to hold the machine with two hands when I carry it. It’s light enough to carry around in one hand, but that’s only if you hold the foot controller in the other hand. Which makes it hard to open a door.

As you can see, there’s not much wrong with this machine, as far as I’m concerned. If you want a good sewing machine that’s easy to use and doesn’t cost the world, try to get hold of the Toyota SPB15!

Another Messenger Bag

Blue messenger bag

I wanted to do another messenger bag by the same tutorial as the one I did a few days ago. I loved making it and there are a few things that I wanted to try with a new bag.

Now I’ve been looking for a bigger bag for my work clothes and stuff for ages, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Making this second bag solved that problem.

Messenger bag front pockets

The first bag has a front pocket without any lining. I did cut it out, but forgot to add it. Also I stitched it right through the middle, creating two pockets. For this bag I really wanted three pockets. I also added a small pocket to the back lining.

Messenger bag back pocket

The back pocket closes with a bit of velcro. Jay chose the fabric. I wanted something similar to my sporting bag, but he wanted me to have something totally different. And I have to say, I may like this dark blue fabric even better than the pink fabric.

Messenger Bag

Last week I bought some lovely fabric scraps. All of them quite sizeable. But I didn’t have any idea what to do with them. Yet.

Over the weekend the idea formed of making a messenger bag. I need a new bag for my sport clothes as the one I’ve been using is about 20 years old and beginning to fall apart.
I’ve read so many tutorials, seen so many YouTube tutorials. But I couldn’t make head nor tails of it. Nothing made sense to me. Until I found this tutorial on YouTube:

I could follow it step by step, without any problems. I think I’ve watched this tut over a dozen times before even trying to cut the fabric. I couldn’t believe how easy it is. And it sure made me wonder why I couldn’t understand the other tutorials.

I did make a few adjustments. For instance I didn’t make a zipper pouch and I added two side pockets. I was planning on making those on the outside, but forgot to add them to the fabric, so I added them to the inside later. This works even better. And I made it bigger as my shoes need to fit inside.

Messenger bag

What did I use?

  • 3 pieces of fabric (40 by 50 cm), pink with hearts (for the outside)
  • 3 pieces of fabric (40 by 50 cm), pink (for the inside)
  • 3 pieces of fusible batting (40 by 50 cm) (for the filling)
  • 2 pieces of fabric (40 by 20 cm), pink with hearts (for the sides)
  • 2 pieces of fabric (40 by 20 cm), pink (for the sides)
  • 2 pieces of fusible batting (40 by 20 cm) (for the side filling)
  • 1 piece of fabric (50 by 20 cm), pink with hearts (for the bottom)
  • 1 piece of fabric (50 by 20 cm), pink (for the bottom)
  • 1 piece of fusible batting (50 by 20 cm)(for the bottom filling)
  • 2 pieces of fabric (20 by 50 cm), pink with hearts (for the front packets)
  • 4 pieces of fabric (15 by 20 cm), pink (for the side pockets)
  • 1 piece of fabric (13 by 110 cm), pink (for the strap)
  • 1 piece of fusible batting (11 by 108 cm) (for the strap filling)
  • 2 buttons
  • thread (lots of it)

As I said, it’s a big bag. But I love it! And I went back to the shop to buy even more fabric as I want a bag for my work clothes too. Admittedly, it will be a bit smaller and I’ll make a few adjustments along the way, but I can’t wait to begin sewing again.

messenger bag, inside

Thank you Whitney, for the great and easy tutorial!


What to do with the remaining owls…

Every year, on the 11th of November, as soon it gets dark, children up to the age of 11/12 go door to door with hand-crafted lanterns made of paper, singing songs, hoping to receive some candy or fruit.

Last year I gift wrapped the candy and the children loved it. So this year I thought I’d do something better.

I found this tutorial through Pinterest and thought it would be awesome if I could make something like that. So I bought some paper and some craft eyes.
As I don’t have a cuttlebug I used paper towel rolls instead.

owls in their box

I made 40 of those, the biggest part when I had night shifts. My colleagues loved them. They were cooing over them,even without the eyes, which I attached later.

I thought 40 would be sufficient, as last year I had 23 children come to the door. unfortunately, this year, the weather was foul and only 10 kids turned up…

So I was stuck with 30 little owls. I gave 2 to a client at work, whose great-granddaughter is going through chemo and a bone merrow transplant for leukemia. I thought it’d be nice for her and her little sister to get one each.

28 remaining. Now what? Luckily I came across an interesting project where toys are being collected for children of families who have to live on charity hand-outs. I contacted them and the said they’d love to have them.

more owls

So on saturday I brought the remaining owls to the charity. The women flocked together, all cooing over the owls. And I got asked if I wanted to make more next year! Of course I said yes!

So I’m already collecting paper towel rolls and paper in all kinds of colour, just to make a whole bunch of owls and other cute things you can make with paper towel rolls.

for more owl love, please visit kerryspapercrafts.com