Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Fabric Notebook Cover Tutorial

Linen Journal Cover

One of our dearest friends turns 50 this week, so I stitched her up a little personalised present, a linen notebook cover with matching compact mirror.   The shops are full of beautiful (and expensive!) fabric journals but once all the pages have been written on they're rendered redundant.  Making your own removable cover means that you can simply pop a refill in, saving the both planet and your unique design!

I added a pretty little printed cotton panel, which provides a lovely pop of colour and texture.  The fabric is called Cottage Flowers and it comes in a pack of beautifully coordinating colour ways.  I've used most of the colours in the pack, but I can't blog all the projects yet as some have been sent off for publication!

As journal covers always make such welcome gifts, I've written a tutorial so that you can create your own.  Once you've mastered the basic construction (which is easy!) you can then decorate it in any way that takes your fancy. Perhaps some applique? Click on the link beneath the picture to be taken to some of my appliqued journals.

SewforSoul Appliqued Journal Covers

The tutorial will guide you through the process of making a cover with a panel insert. They're a little addictive and once you've made your first, you'll be dreaming up ways to customise the next!


The first step is to measure around your closed notebook from front to back edge including the spine.  As you can see mine is 31cm. You will also need its height, this one was was 21cm.

As I am going to be using 1cm seam allowances, I added 6cm to the width measurement of 31cm to allow for the joining of my floral panel, as well as the side seams.  If I were making the cover from just one fabric, I would only need to add 2cm for the two sides. You will also need to add 2cm to the height dimensions.  This sounds complicated but just remember that when you have pieced your fabric together it need to be 2cm wider and taller than your notebook!

The picture below shows the cutting measurements of my fabric pieces and when they had been pieced together the resulting fabric measured 33 x 23cm - Perfect for my journal which measured 31 x 21cm.

I simply joined them together with a 1cm seam allowance and then pressed the seams towards the darker fabric. A quick bit of top stitching adds a nice professional touch! 

The next step is to iron a piece of lightweight interfacing onto the wrong side of your pieced cover. This is particularly important if you are using a fairly open weave or light coloured fabric.  

To make the inner flaps, which will hold the journal in place, cut two pieces of linen fabric measuring 18 x 23cm.  Fold in half vertically and press, giving the folded edge a nice crisp crease.

Place your finished front cover piece down, right side up. Put the two flaps down on top with the folded edges facing in.  If you're adding a closure to your journal (I used a hair elastic) place it halfway down, in-between the back cover and flap.

Cut a lining from your floral fabric, so that it is the same size as your front cover piece (in my case 33 x 23cm).

Place the lining, right side down, on top of your fabric sandwich.  Pin or tack securely and then machine stitch around all four sides, remembering to leave a small turning gap!

Trim your seams and clip corners to reduce bulk and turn through to the right side.  Press gently and then hand sew the turning gap closed. 

Once the cover is turned through to the right side, the flaps will be on the inside ready to hold your notebook neatly in position. I took the photo above before the final press!

If you included a closure elastic, stitch a button into place on the front and then insert your journal and that's it.....

.......A beautiful handmade journal cover!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Spring Egg Shell Floral Arrangements

'Easter Flowers' Tutorial

Spring has finally arrived and with Easter just around the corner, I decided to create some adorable floral decorations.  I simply painted empty egg shells in a variety of soft pastel shades before planting them with little viola bedding plants and then displaying them in a variety of egg cups and containers.

These ones are housed in an antique egg cruet set which I picked up at a car boot sale last summer.  It cost the princely sum of £1.50 and is late Victorian / early Edwardian. Some of the original plate has worn off but this gives it a wonderful shabby chic feel!  


The plants need quite a large hole in the top of the egg so don't 'blow' your eggs.  Instead gently tap a raw egg on top to crack it and then peel off the desired amount of shell.  Place a bowl beneath the egg and shake to release the white and yolk. Wash the shells out thoroughly and place in a warm place to dry.

Once the shells are dry, paint in a variety of soft spring colours.  I used tester pots of emulsion (vinyl) paint but acrylic craft paint would work equally well. If your eggs are quite dark, you will need to give them at least two coats of the light coloured paints.

Once the painted shells have dried plant them with your choice of spring flowers or use them as 'vases' to display delicate bunches of cut blooms such as mini narcissus, crocuses or irises . How fabulous would they also look at a country wedding or summer baby shower!

Aren't they gorgeous?

Happy Spring!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Craft Stamper Magazine ~ SewforSoul Feature

Speckled & Embossed Clay Songbird Eggs DIY

April's issue of Craft Stamper Magazine is available in shops now and my clay speckled bird's egg tutorial is featured!

The children and I had great fun making them and you can see lots more step-by-step pictures in this post.

We embossed ours with devotional words to reflect the season of Easter but they would also make an adorable birth announcement personalised with a name and date! 

Craft Stamper Magazine is available from most High Street branches of  WHSmith or can be ordered direct from Traplet Publications with free UK P&P. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Vintage Linen Bunting Tutorial

Antique Embroidered Garland  

Now I'm not known for being overly sentimental but there is something about antique embroidered tablecloths and tray covers that makes me want to swoon!  I think it's the combination of their great age and the hours and hours of work that first went into creating such gorgeous works of stitched art. I don't know how ladies in the 1940s and 1950s found the time to produce them, although the lack of television and internet might have been a contributing factor!

Vintage linens regularly turn up at car boot sales in all kinds of condition and I find that table cloths often show the most signs of wear, particularly in their centres, where crockery, cutlery and hands would have constantly rubbed against the fabric. However the edges, where the embroidery is normally to be found, is usually in far better condition having hung below the edge of the table top and therefore avoided such friction and wear.     

Once the centers are full of holes they're clearly no longer suitable for covering a dining table and besides, in our house, a tablecloth would need washing and ironing after every (messy) meal!  

Instead the perfect project is to stitch up some gloriously shabby chic bunting - Every upcycled garland produced is totally unique and it feels so good to breathe new life into these forgotten treasures!

If you're feeling inspired, I've written an easy to follow tutorial, with step by step photos, over at the Cuddly Buddly blog

Vintage linens are also perfect for pouches and purses.  This kitsch 'Crinoline Lady' was too large for a bunting flag but she works really well on a little patchwork makeup bag.

I love the Spring colours, and they still look as fresh as the day they were first stitched.

You can read more about it here, and having watched episode three of 'The Great British Sewing Bee', I'm feeling very grateful that my sewing is done on a modern Bernina machine, although those antique Singers are so charming. Do you think Mr Larkin would approve of me buying a fifth sewing machine because 'it's pretty'?!

Another string of my upcycled vintage bunting was featured in Reloved Magazine.

The full blog post is here.

The original stitched designs on the tablecloths I used were each so different but I love both sets of finished bunting equally.  I gave one set to my mum and the other is hanging in my kitchen where it reminds me of English summers full of village fetes and weddings!

Happy Repurposing!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Easter Hanging Ornament Tutorial

Glittered Wooden Shapes


Now that Lent is here, I'm starting to think ahead to our Easter celebrations.  We try to uphold the season as it can feel overlooked in favour of Christmas, yet it's such an important part of our cultural and religious heritage. You can see some of our previous Easter decorations here, including these little cuties;

Created with Sizzix and Quickutz dies by SewforSoul

We always have an Easter tree, a wonderful tradition which originated in Germany where they are known as Ostereierbaum, but they're gradually becoming more common in the UK.  We bring in a tree from the garden and decorate it with little wooden ornaments and eggs, including many we've crafted ourselves.  It's always lovely to add a few new ones each year, so with that in mind I looked through my stash in search of inspiration.   

I came across these little wooden shapes which the children used for their Easter cards when they were younger.  I put aside a few in case the children wanted to get creative again this year and then set about giving the rest a fresh new look.

The first step was to simply give them a quick sand before applying a base coat of white paint. Wood shapes are easy to source and if you get blank ones you won't even need to sand them back first!

Once the white undercoat was dry I stamped the shapes, using a glue pad and one of my favourite clear stamps.  

Whilst the glue was still wet I sprinkled the shapes with some lovely sparkly glitter in a variety of yummy spring shades, before flipping them over and repeating the process on the reverse side.

The final stage was to give the decorations a quick coat of varnish to fix the glitter firmly in place, before drilling a hole in the top and threading with hanging loops.  

 And that's it......Don't they look great!

I now can't wait until Holy Week and we bring in the tree, so that they can take their place amongst the rest of the decorations.

Happy Crafting!