Alice Yarns

Creative Mummy

Patchwork Pencil Cases

Another tutorial today!

I have been making pencil cases for Da Boyz. So I’m going to show you what I’ve been up to. Here’s what you need to follow along:

  • Sewing machine and the usual equipment (scissors, thread, and needles)
  • Patchworking equipment (ruler and set square, rotary cutter and mat, and fabric pen)
  • Fat quarters in complementary and contrasting patterns,
  • Fasteners (I used bottons but you could use poppers or ‘hook and loop’ tape or if you’re up for a challenge you could even put in zips),
  • Pens and pencils!

  • The design for each of my pencil cases is pretty much the same. They all have two pouches (one for pens, one for pencils) that have buttons at the top to fasten. They are all lined and all have the same dimensions (front and back are 20cm X 10cm). The patchwork for each is different though, so I’ll go through each of those seperately first and then show the construction of the pencil case. If you’re wanting a plain front and back you can skip straight to the construction here. And the three patchworks are seaside squares, diagonal rockets, and farmyard fun.

    A couple of notes:
    1. I use a 1cm seam allowance throughout.
    2. Take your time with every step, mark everything out very carefully and check your measurements. It will make your finished product look that much better and will save you from making mistakes with your cutting!!
    3. I couldn’t be bothered to sew as many button holes as I originally planned, so you’ll notice that my finished cases only have 3 buttons each, rather than the 4 in my sketch.
    4. Press your fabric before you start and always press the seams apart. This will make the fabric lie flat and it will be so much easier to mark out, cut and sew. (This is the only time I use an iron by the way; I never iron clothes!)
    5. Use a rotary cutter, metal ruler and self-healing mat to cut the fabric. It is so precise!

    Patchwork 1

    So, O’s first. Here is my initial design:

    The plan is to make the top 6cm with 2cm squares (10 across and 3 down) and then add a 4cm boarder along the bottom. So with the 1cm seam allowance, we need to cut three strips in each of the two blue fabrics, 4cm wide and at least 40cm long.

    Use a long metal ruler and a tailor’s pen to mark out the strips carefully. I also checked all the way along with a set square and ruler to make sure sure they didn’t get thinner or thicker. Honestly, this will save you from problems later!

    I then sewed the strips together as shown below to form two bands of alternating fabrics.

    Press the seams apart and go back to the cutting mat.

    Next we need to cut the bands into 4cm slices. Use a ruler to mark every 4cm, and then use a set square to draw lines perpendicular to the orginal strips. Carefully cut along the lines to get something like this:

    Take one piece from top and bottom, match the seams carefully and pin. Make sure:
    1. You put right-sides together,
    2. The topmost piece is the same for each pair,
    3. You sew down the same side of each pair,
    4. If your fabric has a ‘right-way-up’, both pieces are the same direction.

    When I have a pile of small things to sew, like this, I save time (and thread) by joining them in a long line.

    Press the seams open and then repeat the previous step until you have 2 blocks, each 10 squares long.

    So, here is why it is so important to take the time to measure, cut and match seams so carefully:

    You want the corners of the squares to match up exactly. The closer they are the better the finished product will look!

    Finally, mark and cut 2 pieces of contrasting fabric 20cm x 6 cm. Sew these along the bottom edge of the patchwork panels, and press.

    So, there is the first patchwork for the pencil cases. If you’re ready to move on to constructing the case then skip to here.


    Patchwork 2

    This one is sort of similar to Patchwork 1, in that the initial steps are to create three strips of alternating fabrics, and then cut them perpedicularly. Then things get a bit more complicated.

    I cut the central strip 5cm wide and the two sides 10cm, in hindsight I should have made them all a little bigger as my finished panel was a little small and I didn’t have a full centimetre seam allowance. So I suggest you up the measurements to 6cm and 11cm respectively.

    The strips need to be at least 40cm long.

    Sew the strips together leaving a 1cm seam allowance and then press the seams open.

    We need eight 5cm-wide strips cut perpendicular to the original stripe. Mark every 5cm and then use a set square to draw across the strips. Cut with a rotary cutter against a metal ruler, for a straight, clean line.

    I muddled up the strips so that the rockets weren’t matching, but you could keep them together or maybe you are using a fabric where it doesn’t make any difference. Have a play around and decide what you like best!

    So this next step is rather ‘fun’! You need to take two of your pieces, match the upper seam of the central square of the bottom piece to the lower seam on the top piece. Thereby staggering the central squares.

    Pin them, sew them and press the seams open and then repeat, so that you have two blocks of 4 strips.

    Like this:



    Patchwork 3



    A Poem

    I wrote a lot of poetry as a teenage. I don’t seem to have the passion for it any more but I still look at my poetry book every now and then.

    A Tear Drops

    A tear drops
    from the eye
    of a beholder.
    Fear or understanding
    of the happening
    rattled her
    from a dark grave
    of innocent bystanding.
    The single tear
    long impacted
    the soft soil
    of the upturned garden
    before she inhaled
    the sweet aroma
    of stewing rhubarb
    from her mothers kitchen,
    which startled her
    into awareness.
    Bending down, she covered
    the ladybird with earth.

    Thanks for reading!

    Pterry the Pterodactyl

    I’ve had such a wonderful Christmas! I hope you have too!

    I got quite a lot of lovely crafty books this year and I’ll be posting about them all over the next couple of weeks, but this is my first complete creation. It comes from Knitted Dinosaurs by Tina Barrett.

    I love this book (so much so that I also have several others from the series, but that is for another day)!

    You can get a copy from here.

    O loves his dinosaurs and pterosaurs are his favourites. He has a huge collection of figurines, books, photos and postcards from museum trips; he even has genuine fossils from a triceratops. His favourite TV program is Walking with Dinosaurs. So this is another item for his collection!

    Anyway, I’d like to introduce Pterry the Pterodactyl.

    Love you O!

    Christmas Cards

    I am so bad at sending Christmas cards. The thought is there; I usually get as far as writing them and sealing the envelopes, but then fail to actually send them. This year I thought I wouldn’t waste money on cards that might not actually get sent, instead Da Boyz and I made cards.

    It was great fun and cheap! I got 50 red card blanks from the craft shop for about £4, and gathered together glue, glitter, sequins, gold card and star punch, and paint and potatoes.

    Yes! That good old craft of potato stamping! I really had forgotten how much fun it is.

    There was also a good amount of finger painting and hand printing too (and green bath water afterwards).

    The results were fabulous!

    Son no. 1, has sensory processing problems and hates getting dirty, gooey or slimy, but the potato stamping gave him a bit of distance from the paint. O really got into it, and was very proud of his tree cards (He did rush off to wash his hands pretty fast though).

    H, on the other hand, loves getting messy (and improving my ideas). He very quickly went away from the plain triangular trees.

    And little A, well he just loves covering everything in paint!

    I’m pretty sure that everyone of the cards that made it to its destination has made someone smile this Christmas. Especially me!

    The BatCave - Part I

    I love Pinterest! Why? Because of all the amazing inspiration! So here is one creation whose design was sparked by Pinterest.

    The upcycled bookcase BatCave:

    There are lots of beautiful examples of dolls’ houses, but I have three boys who love Batman and Lego. So I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be great to turn these two unused bookcases into something spectacular for Christmas. Something they will use again and again!

    This post is going to be a bit of a tutorial, so you can follow along if you’ve got some Lego Batman lovers of your own. All you really need is a bookcase and some paint, but I took it rather further.

    These are the bookcases I started with (I’ve already screwed them together to make them more sturdy):

    Da Boys always get annoyed if there aren’t usable doorways or stairs in their Lego models, so my first job was to create some entry ways between the levels. I’ve marked out the center point of each shelf and used a pair of compasses to mark a circle of 4cm radius on the middle two shelves and one of the top shelves.

    I drilled a large hole near the edge of the circle and then used my new jigsaw to cut it out. I then removed the top level so I could get to the middle and repeated the process.

    I thought it would be nice to have a fireman’s pole, so I drilled half-way through the bottom shelf and top shelf to hold a length of dowling rod in place.

    Put it all back together and give everything a good sand to protect little people from cuts and splinters:

    Now it’s ready to paint!

    I’ve used black gloss, in the hope it will be easy to wipe clean:

    So now I’m sat here writing this and waiting for the paint to dry.

    I will be back soon with Part II, when we will be putting in the decoration and Lego baseplates.


    Woodland Critter Cushions

    So I made these lovely appliqué cushions a few months ago:

    I’m finally getting round to posting about them as I recieved a message from Making Magazine asking to use them in their ‘Making Views’ column in Februray. I’m very excited as this will be the second time some of my creations have been displayed.

    Well, all this got me thinking that I really should get a blog up and running. And show the world some of the awesome things I get up to in my spare time. So here it is!

    A bit about the cushions then…

    …I have a huge stash of fabric, yarn, thread, buttons, beads, etc. etc. and I really need to work my way through some of that; just so I have space for more really. But anyway, I was looking for things I might do with it all.

    Son no. 2, H, was in Owl’s class at school and so I thought I’d make something along that theme. Originally, I designed a set of 9 pillows containing frogs, snakes, mice, butterflies and other woodland critters. But I decided I didnt have space for that many cushions, so H helped to pick out the best three.

    We got out all the fabric and he helped to choose the colourways for each animal. He has such a good eye for colour!