My hopes, dreams and wishes for 2014

I’m not one for New Years resolutions. I joked on Twitter about it.

But there are some things I’d like to do.

Life, home and garden:

Lettuce and strawberries

  • I would like to visit the nearby Zoo a little more often. We went to a different, bigger Zoo last year and it really was a disappointment. We still have enough tickets to go at least 4 times this year, so I would like to do that.
  • I’d love to get the hallway done. Right now, we (still) don’t have a coat rack. We haven’t had one since we moved here 2 years ago. I’d like to try and finish that next week.
  • I hope my dad can get a Velux window for the attic. There’s a really old Velux and it’s drafty and leaky. We have talked about glueing it shut, but I like to have a new Velux, so I can get it open in Summer. My dad knows a few homes that are being demolished and they’ve had new Velux windows installed about 3 years ago. So he’s going to ask them if he can buy one or two for a reasonable price.
  • I haven’t yet made plans for my veggie patch. I have learned a few things from last year and I’d quite like to try to get more out of it. I think I can do that quite easily.

Books and Bookcrossing:

Books from the summer lottery

  • I have signed myself up for the 365/365 Challenge. It’s in the Dutch forum of BookCrossing and it’s started by Aaltsje. It’s nothing much, just release at least 365 books this year. Now, with lots and lots of books already registered and more to go I think I need something like this to get books out of the attic. I’m quite the hoarder…
  • I think I’ve said this last year as well, but I’d like to get on with my TBR pile. Right now, there’s more coming in than there’s going out. There’s at least 135 books on the pile, but I think it’s actually more. Sometimes I move books from the Release boxes onto the TBR box, but forget to update their status on BookCrossing. And yes, the “onto” was deliberate…
  • I’m going to try to make a list of which books I’ve read and am reading every month. Just to keep the books flowing. There’s so many books I’ve had for years now and I think it’s time to see them go.
  • I should go through my TBR pile to see if there’s books that can travel further without reading them first. With so many books on there I think I should be more picky about what goes on there.

Crafting and Hobbies:

  • I have to find a way to get googly eyes and coloured paper without paying too much for them. I have agreed to make lots and lots of little owls and other cute paper crafty things for a charity in our town. They give out boxes of toys to people who don’t have money to buy toys themselves. I might have to contact them and ask for sponsors. Not sure how I can do that…
  • I want to do more sewing. Sis in laws baby is having her birthday in May and I’d like to sew a slip dress for her. No idea what size it should be as I have no idea about babies… Might have to get help from mom in law to get the right size.
  • I want to do more cooking and baking. I have been doing a lot of it last year, but I love it, so I’d like to do more. Main problem is that I’m picky with food… Oh well, we’ll see what happens.


I think that’s about it. What are the things you’d like to do?

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!


Random pictures

Here’s some random pictures I wanted to show you guys. I decided to post them all together.

Lemur in AquaZoo Leeuwarden.


Other lemurs in AquaZoo. The sign said not to touch the lemurs, but what if the lemurs touched you?


Our cat Dipsy is begging for treats. Or, as someone suggested, using her “give me the treats or I’ll rip your eyes out” look.


This is my ‘new’ sewing machine. It’s as least as old as I am, but I hope to make lots of great stuff using this machine.


My latest treat. A great apple pie made with the apples from my mother’s apple tree.


And the last one. The pumpkin from our own garden. There were 4, but 3 rotted away. This one survived and it’s huge. The tile that it’s on is 30×30 cm, just to give you an idea how big it is.

That’s all folks. I’ve got a few posts in my head. Now I need to find the time to write them…