Category Archives: Household

NEED IT, MAKE IT: Needle Case



This seems like a bit of an obvious requirement for someone who likes a bit of sewing and yet it’s something I simply haven’t got round to making.  I think the last time I made one was in Home Economics at school some….ooh, too many years to count….ago.

I finally became fed up of scratching around in those plastic casings that needles come in (or worse, losing them in the pin cushion and never to be seen again but often ‘felt’.  Ouch!)

So I finally got round to it and here’s my little needle case.

It’s very simple.  Just a piece of scrap fabric or two, a few bits of quilting wadding, a couple of bits of cardboard and a recycled ribbon of unknown origin.


I found the centre point of he fabric and marked out where the spine and needle pad need to be positioned.


Highly technical stuff this!

I then cut out the large oblong where the needle pad needed to poke through leaving probably quarter of an inch allowance and cutting diagonally into the corners so I could fold it back on itself as a kind of hem.  I then sewed round the outside of the case, leaving a gap sufficiently big to turn it inside-out and to get the wadding in.

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I pushed some wadding into one side and then packed a couple of bit of wadding on top of the cardboard backing for the needle pad and slotted it in the gap I’d made for it and tucked the raw edges of the hole underneath. In truth, it could probably have done with a little more so I could have used it as a pin cushion too but hey ho.  I did the same for the spine. and tacked everything in place so it wouldn’t move when I stitched it up.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????I used the zipper foot to try to get nice and close to the edges.


Then I decided to do a quick bit of free-motion quilting swirls on the  other side for a bit of interest.


If you haven’t tried that yet, give it a go – it’s great fun.

Then it was just a case of sewing up the gap…


and sewing on a piece of ribbon (rather coarsely) to tie it together.


Any that was it – done.  Now everything’s neat and tidy which inspired me to sort out my notions box too.

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NEED IT, MAKE IT: Zippered pouch



This zip-up bag (or zipper pouch) is another easy project which has a multitude of uses.  I have a few of them scattered around the house keeping various objects neat and tidy.

This week,  I was getting repeatedly annoyed trying to find those little things every girl keeps in the bottom of her hand bag.  You know the ones – that loose lip balm, packet of tissues, mints, compact mirror etc.  so I decided to make a little zip-up bag to keep them all handy.

I found some left over denim – nice and sturdy, some pretty fabric left over from an apron I made for a friend and a zip I recycled from something that had seen better days.

I cut the fabric the same length as the zip and deep enough to hold my various bits and pieces.  Two bits for the outer and two for the liner.

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I took one piece of each of the two fabrics and lined them up (right side to right side) with the zip facing down in the middle against the outer fabric.  I pinned the three layers together and then opened it up to check that it was all the right way round before I sewed it up – very irritating to have to rip things back!

Having checked that it was correct, I attached my zipper foot to my machine and happily sewed them together.  I then pulled back the lining fabric to check again. Paranoid?

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All good.

I  did exactly the same with the other two bits of fabric using the other side of the zip.  Again I pinned it first to check it was the right way round and sewed that side too.  (Trust me, I’ve done this wrong too many times!)


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So far so good.  Outside and inside attached to the zip.  You’ll notice the edges were slightly out of alignment so I just trimmed them off so they matched.

Next I pinned the two inner sides together and the two outer sides to each other, right side to right side, with the zip in the middle.  (It’s really important to remember to open the zip before you pin and machine the sides otherwise you won’t be able to turn it inside out!)

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I always use big fat pins to mark areas I shouldn’t sew and these ones mark an area on the lining side large enough to use to turn the project the right side round.


Then it’s just a case of swapping back to your normal footer attachment and sewing all the way around the whole oblong from one marker until you reach the other.

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Then you can trim the seams if your fabric is bulky and then turn it inside-out.


I pushed the point of my scissors right into the corners to get a nice sharp edge.


Then, I hand-stitched the liner opening closed.

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Ironed everything good and flat.


And that’s it.  For the purpose of the photos I grabbed a few things from my sewing box to fill it with but it’s currently sitting in my handbag holding all those little girlie bits and pieces which are now a great deal easier to find in the depths of a big black-lined handbag.

It also means I can swap handbags much quicker in the morning (if and when I can be bothered to match my bag to my outfit!)

So many uses, – pencil case, makeup bag, wash bag, hairgrip tidy, dog treat and poo bag holder, laundry bag…

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NEED IT, MAKE IT: Drawstring bag


I use a drawstring bag to hold my used teatowels and kitchen cloths until I get round to washing them at the end of the week. Having repaired my old one a number of times, I have to give up on it now and consign it to the bin.

I have a stash of fabric kicking about in my spare room, some of which is too unattractive to use for any decorative purpose. I've no idea where this piece came from – it's pretty horrible so this is exactly the type of practical project I need to use it up!

Drawstring bags are one of the very easiest sewing projects to undertake. The first one I ever owned was the one every little girl of my age took to school to hold her gym kit. We called them pump bags then and they were all home-made by your Mum. Mine was beautifully embroidered with flowers and my name (Mum was an avid seamstress) and I was very proud to carry that to school.

So then, having already determined that this one is functional only (be prepared to embrace the ugly!) it's a simple rectangle sewn across the bottom and up both sides and a double fold hem at the top to thread your string through. Easy squeezy!


I use these big style pins as markers on the top hem to remind me not to sew all the way round!


Then it's just a case of threading the string through the gap using a safety pin.


There. Ugly but functional.





MAKE IT: Knitted cloths

MAKE IT: Face cloths



There are some things you don’t think you need. Why bother making them when they are so cheap and easy to find? The answer? Quality. Sometimes, homemade is just better, even when you aren’t really expecting it to be. ???????????????????????????????Cotton knitted cloths are exactly that, as weird as it sounds. Whether you make them in bright and pretty shades to wash your face or in boring, cheap and non-descript colours for washing your floors, nothing seems to really clean quite like them. You can stretch, mangle and altogether mis-treat these things and yet, pop them through a hot wash and miraculously they present themselves in good order, ready to clean another day.

Certainly, I have found my skincare regime really appreciates a decent facecloth and these really have improved my skin. I think it’s the gentle and thorough exfoliation.

I enjoy knitting, it gives me something to do whilst watching TV and I find it quite therapeutic. Like many of us, my Mum taught me to knit when I was a little girl but, of course, it wasn’t a terribly fashionable thing to do and so I didn’t keep it up. That is until I wanted to give up smoking and someone suggested it as a great way to keep your fingers busy whilst fighting the cravings. Boy were they right! The bug had bitten and it’s something I can’t now live without. I even take a knitting project away on holiday with me and yes, I know that makes me sound older than my years but there it is.



I cast on 42 stiches in thick cotton yarn with a set of 4mm needles and generally knit three rows in garter stitch and then knit the first three and last three stiches in every row as a border. The stitches inbetween can be anything you like. It could be moss stitch, faux rib, cabled – anything. It’s a good way to sample a particular pattern without worrying too much about making mistakes. And who cares if it went wrong if you’re going to clean the floor with it? All you really need to do it keep knitting until your piece measures a rough square and finish off with final three rows of garter stitch and cast off. The beauty is that they knit up quickly and you feel as if you’ve achieved something. That’s especially gratifying if you’re taking time out of a longer project. Additionally they make a personal addition to an otherwise uninspiring smellies gift for friends and family.

There are loads of patterns on the web to try out but I think it’s nice to do a bit of experimenting and see what flows.

If crochet is more your thing, I particularly recommend trying the bobble cleaning cloths here – or

These knobbly scrubbies really do work well on pots and pans.

One happy knitter.







Let me vent a little about duvets. Grrrhh!

Everyone loves a duvet, surely? Warm and snuggly and just like sleeping in a cloud. Nope. Not in our house. In our house, duvets create bedroom misery. I hate how difficult it is to change the cover. I despise those little poppers at the feet end – or worse, the back-to-front buttons. I get annoyed that the feathers migrate to the bottom of the bed leaving me with cold shoulders and that the micro-fibre ones end up as a twisted lumpy mess. We both hate the chilly void of doom it creates when we sleep back to back.

It took a good few years fighting over the duvet before we gave in and reverted to our childhood bedding solution. Duvets didn't exist when I was little. We had sheets and blankets and, in the middle of winter, we'd have what used to be called a 'continental quilt' on top.

Oh the bliss of the blanket! It's thin but warm, heavy and, importantly, wraps around your body leaving the chilly void of doom a dim and distant memory.

As a topper, we have a couple of shop-bought quilts but they're expensive and rather boring really so some years ago I thought I'd have a go at making one myself. I found a very sweet lady on YouTube and had a lot of fun watching her videos. Check out the Missouri Quilt Company here –

Some time ago I made a lovely winter quilt using traditional fabric and a 'stitch in the ditch' machine quilting technique. It's really simple. All you needs is a variety of pretty fabrics for the top, some batting for the middle and some backing fabric. The only special equipment which is helpful is a quilting foot for your sewing machine. This year I wanted to make a lighter one for spring and summer.



This one is free-motion quilted using pre-cut fabric squares known as a 'layer cake'. The fabric is designed by Pat Sloan and is called 'Bobbins and Bits'.

For more information on free-motion quilting, this lady really knows her stuff.

I definitely recommend giving quilting a go. It's a great skill to have in your crafting arsenal and smaller projects like tea cosies, bags, cushions or table runners make quick and easy additions to your home or as beautiful home-made gifts for friends and family.

Careful, it can become addictive!

Have you tried it?


WANT IT, MAKE IT: Ripple blanket

I saw these beautiful blankets on Attic24. It’s a lovely blog which I recommend checking out.

and I thought to myself,
“I really like that. They’re very pretty…. Hmmm. I think I want one.”

I dug out my crochet hook and went off to one of the very few yarn shops in my area and purchased some 100g balls of acrylic yarn, fifteen colours for a bargain price of £27. A few rows later, and it’s begining to take shape. It works very quickly compared to knitting so I’m hoping that a few rows a day will set me well on the road to having a new, hand-made blanket for the bed in the shepherd’s hut.

Here’s how it’s looking so far…

Now, I have to confess to being a bit of a donut. I wound all fifteen colours into small balls to take away on holiday with me feeling very smug at my cleverness, only to find that I’d stupidly wound each ball too short by about 10g! Aaarrgghh!

I ought to have weighed them out properly of course, but I’d eyeballed it, and got it wrong and I could have left it until I got home but I’m afarid once a fad has taken hold, I just can’t let it go. Instead, I dragged the boy out to the nearest big town in search of a wool shop in order to purchase some more.

And so, with the raw materials restored, I’m happily on a roll, crocheting away and while I sit here, I think to myself…
“Why didn’t I use my small balls to make a matching cushion cover instead and save the blanket to make at home?”.
Now I’ll just have to make two!


NEED IT, MAKE IT: Recycling Bag


I'm going to come out and say that I'm not sure I really get the whole recycling thing. Reduce and reuse? Absolutely! But I just can't get my head around how recycling helps the environment.

We've all heard the cries from older folk about how milk used to come in bottles which were collected, washed and reused and how much better that was and we all laugh and nod in agreement. Then some bright spark points out that the energy cost of collecting, washing and sterilizing the bottles for re-use is much greater than using new plastic or cardboard cartons every time.

I just don't see how collecting, sorting, washing, shredding, transporting and then re-processing this stuff into some other product in other country miles and miles away is energy efficient.

We have a daft system in place here. Plastic, aluminium, and paper/cardboard is supposed to be separated into plastic bags (oh the irony) and collected from our doorstep with our household rubbish but they won't collect glass because it's too noisy!? So, we're then expected to deliver our glass items to recycling banks that could be many miles away. Crazy! All those householders driving around delivering their glass whilst great big trucks collect everything else from their driveway. You see why I find it all a bit confusing. However, there are greater powers than me busy calculating the relative costs and savings so I'll just have to trust that overall, it works.

But, for the sake of landfill – which I completely understand – I am happy to dutifully keep my recyclables out of the bin and ready for collection by an independent recycling man who collects and sorts everything for me – including glass – and charges a mere £10 a month. An absolute bargain!

With that little rant over, we get to why I'm posting today. The simplest of things make life easier and I need somewhere to collect my recyclables once I've rinsed them ready to take out to the collection bin at the end of the week.

My kitchen is small so I can't keep the bin tucked away anywhere inside but there is a little space next to the door where I could hang a bag out of the way and so that's what I set about doing.

I found some fabric and oil cloth in my stash – not exactly a beautiful and eye-catching match but somehow buying new wouldn't really be in the spirit of the thing!

I measured my space and drew up my plan… highly technical stuff.


I cut out the outer fabric and oil cloth (to keep the inside clean and free from leaks), re-enforced the button hole area from which I plan to hang it, put the button holes in and then sewed them into rectangular bags. Pretty straight-forward.

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Then I squared off the bottoms to increase the capacity of the bottom

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Matched the outside and inside, and sewed them together

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Husband screwed some hooks into place for me and ta-dah, recycling sub-station complete.

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No more running out into the rain.