Cahon Carrying – Part 1

“What is a cahon?” I hear you cry.   It’s a box that you sit on and drum with a hole on one side.


A cahon can also double up nicely as a seat/table when camping. Can you spot it?

How do I know this? Cos last year Long Suffering Husband (LSH) bought one because even though I have manage to severely curb his string instrument purchases he is still addicted to buying instruments for Essential Morris Dancing Reasons (EMDR).

It flat packs, for easy carrying. I even found LSH a tote bag we already had to put it in (one made by yours truly way back when).

But life in our household is never that simple. Next up LSH acquired a foot pedal for said cahon (an essential accessory for all those who want to Drum ‘N Strum). And then he decided he needed to carry his amp around too. The amp will fit inside the cahon, but not in the bag alongside the cahon. So, the need for a specialist cahon bag was established. And that is when the fun started. ..

First up, the fabric. Good little stashbuster that I am, I suggested that I use a denim from my stash that I bought online yonks ago and never used, as when it came it wasn’t quite expected. One side is orange, one side is yellow, both quite in your face kind of shades. My thought was that the orange side would show the dirt less, but LSH preferred the yellow, because EMDR meant the ideal colour for the bag was green, and yellow was closer to that.

In the end I screen printed it, due to mental wincing at how much a light yellow bag would show up the dirt. First with green squares (the screen from the boys trousers), and then with leaves over the top (oak leaves would’ve been better, but the sycamore screen I had was deemed acceptable and suitable autumnal colours were approved).

Next up, high on my previous quilting success (and with the left over batting burning a hole in my stash, plus some left over burgndy polycotton, which was ok’d for the inside), I decided to quilt it. First the base (which I didn’t bother to screenprint cos it will hardly be on show much). It came out quite nicely, if I do say so myself, with a grid of inch squares mimicing the squares screen.

Then, I waxed it, to make it more weather proof. Thread Theory have blogged several times about Otter Wax. I was intrigued and this seemed the project to try it out on.  I couldn’t get Otter Wax in the UK so I used Greenland Wax instead, as it seemed to be very similar and surely Greenlanders must know a thing or two about making things water proof? The whole family had fun using a hairdryer to melt it into the fabric (we really know how to have fun in our house) and then dropping water on it to check out how well it worked. (That last pic, bottom right, shows the difference between untreated and treated fabric, impressive eh).

And then I tried to quilt much larger piece that would be the sides. Despite basting it in place all properly, it started slipping and my lines wouldn’t stay straight and Morris Dance Out Season (yes, there are seasons, like in Sportsing, they dtend to practice in the winter and inflict themselves on entertain the public in the summer months) was over, so it got Put On One Side.

Some time later, when LSH requested it be finished for his birthday, it got mentally moved up the To Do List When he started complaining about having to lug the cahon to and from practices dropping hints about Buying A Cahon Bag, I a) cursed him for fooling me into making one when you could buy one and b) resolved to finish this one so as to not have wasted all the effort so far. I didn’t quite manage it for his birthday, but close enough.

Anyway, for Quilting Attmept 2, with a fresh pair of eyes after several months break, I decided to ditch the regular squares, that made any deviation from the plan show up as a glaring mistake,  and instead adopted a more random approach, which I called “aim for the biggest gap” and that took the pressure off. I also took the executive decision to ignore any creases that had been sewn into the fabric. So don’t show this post to any Proper Quilters.  Finally, some shoulder aching time later it was done. Well, except for the bit when I realised I didn’t have enough fabric prepped for the top and had to print, wax and quilt another bit of cloth. Which, with practice under my belt and a smaller piece of fabric, came out much better, but left me resolved Never To Quilt Again.

Next up, an exciting How The Bag Was Made From the Painstakingly Prepared Fabric post. Bet your excited now, eh?

Puffin Pyjama’s

Seasonal Sewing Wardrobe 2, the sleepwear edition, and my third pair of kids summer pj’s are now completed. (Which means I’m either half way through or I’ve finished depending on if you count a set of pj’s as one item or two.)

These are quite clearly made from the leftovers of my puffin t shirt.


However there wasn’t quite enough so the shorts are made from some grey knit. I was a little worried that The Girl would reject the grey, as too grey-ey, so as well as puffins on the pockets and the waistband I added orange puffin feet. I’m quite pleased with these, the “toes” are sewn with my twin needle for an authentic raised effect (do a search or puffin feet and you’ll see what I mean) and you might just make out the claws that I zig zagged on in black. Not bad for 10 minutes work!

As you can see, they have been deemed acceptable. Yay!

Oh and the t shirt top is an version Simplicity 1573 of that I altered ages ago and the short pattern is the Domi Sweatpant shorts from Sofilantjes.

Tsarina Cape


Arty shot of The Girl putting her finishing touches on a birthday card before this cape got wrapped and taken with the card to a party.


A less arty shot, but a better representation of the colour and you can’t see the fact I had to piece the back of this Forest Path Cape in this shot.

I was inspired to make this one after seeing her friend slyly feeling the pom poms on her Princess Anna Cape, the red elephant cord was lying around in my stash and I was in the mood for making. I found the rainbow stripe polyester shirting in my stash too and it thought it would make a great lining. This time I added a welt breast pocket in the lining because every Tsarina needs a pocket, right? Talking of Tsarina’s, that wasn’t the look I had in mind, I mean I knew it would have to have pom pom trim, but I didn’t expect the girl to choose such shiny gold buttons (which were a pig to sew on).

I drafted a mandarin collar the same way as last time and used this braid chosen to match the buttons. There was just enough left for a hanging loop. Anyway somehow the thick red stripes of the cord manage to combine with the trim and buttons to make a very regal, opulent looking cape, despite the fact it’s machine washable. Hopefully it’ll get a lot of wear.


Oh, and I nearly forgot, it’s the first of May today. Which for LSH meant getting up at 4.15am so that he could be morris dancing on top of a hill when the sun rose. (The rest of us caught up on some sleep prior to a day of visitors, birthday parties and cooking). Anyway, for me, the first of May means Me Made May of course. So I better sneak my Crafting a Rainbow pilfered inspired pledge in on the line.

“I, Prolificprojectstarter, do pledge to wear something I’ve made each day in May 2016, to keep a track of my colour palette and to mend at least one thing each week”.

I wasn’t sure how to up my ante from just wearing a thing I made each day like last year, without making it too difficult (I’m not up for a huge challenge right now), but keeping track of colours will be interesting and I’m also keen to tie in with Jen’s Mend It May.

So, for the record, today is brought to you by the colour blue, I’m wearing navy jeans a mainly blue (with a hint of yellow) drapey top, and a navy and green stripe top from Seasalt.

So, bright May Day greetings to you, and for those with an extra day off due to the Bank Holiday in these parts tomorrow (assuming you’re not having to work it), I hope you make the most of some extra free time tomorrow.

Anya The 3rd


What do you do when someone returns some fabric you offloaded gave to them with extra’s?  I gave a friend the two fabrics top left last summer as potential pockets for a skirt and then all of this little lot turned up in a parcel (whilst I was trying to have a sort out no less).


Merchant and Mills Union dress.  It started off life as a skirt.  Then I decided it had to be a dress, but made a mess of the button holes.  The button panel fabric is courtesy of prolificprojectstarter - used with many thanks!  Finished today, but started in 2015 :-):

I’m pretty sure that this placket (no sniggering at the back there) is all she used it for too so I must’ve got back nearly all the stuff I gave her.


Well I can’t stand for that sort of nonsense. How’s a woman supposed to reduce her stash with that kind of thing going on? (She’s even just joined the stashbusting group at my suggestion, this was not what I had in mind).  So I did the only logical thing I could in this situation, I made her a bag with the fabric she sent. I reckon it’ll nicely match her Merchant and Mills dress don’t you think?


Another Anya bag no less. All from stash, mainly the left overs of my skirt that she’d returned, but also some bits of my old jeans for contrast, one of LSH’s old shirts for a lining and some snazzy bronze piping that I think I might have actually properly installed. Oh and some bias binding to help me eek straps out, finding a big enough piece of fabric to make the straps as directed always seems to be my biggest headache when using this pattern to scrapbust. It was a straightforward make, apart from having to unpick things as I’d sewn a strap on twisted.


Oh and I made sure I filled it with a little something extra before returning the fabric to her. That’ll learn her.



Scraps to Bags

Last week we looked at clothes making from scrap fabric, this week it’s the turn of bags, purses, totes, pouches and all things you can stuff things into!

(I have to be completely upfront here: Rosemary has done all the heavy lifting on this post. My bag-making resume is sadder than sparse…it’s practically barren.)

I love making bags, lots of straight lines and no fitting! I mean, the pieces have to fit together, but if it comes out an inch longer than you intended, it’s no big deal. There are no scary FBA’s to do or anything.  And here in the UK, with the recently introduced tax on plastic bags, handmade ones are bang on trend (err, did I really just type that?). Someone’s been spending too much time with the kiddos–busting out slang now…

There are a couple of approaches you can take to bag making. One is to start with with the fabric you have and go from there. “If I fold this piece in half, it’s about the right size to put X in”, or “I need something co-ordinating for the back”. Or, “this pieces is wide enough but too short, what could I piece it with?”. “Oh look, a jeans pocket, I could sew that on here.” And more power to you creative as-it-come types, but this approach terrifies me!

If this approach seams a little scary for you, (hand raised here…anyone else?), then the morsbag tutorial is a great place to start and they have loads of inspiring images and good motivation for getting going. (That website is fascinating, there are groups all over the world making and giving away these bags!) Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start playing around with sizes,  adding depth to your bag with mitred corners, playing with pockets, decorating with trims, applique, fabric paint, screenprinting, the sky’s the limit. It really does seem like a basic bag is the best blank slate for using up all kinds of tiny bits as embellishments…

selvage tote | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

For instance, check out this bag entirely made from selvages, how cool is that (Sorry, I don’t know whose pic this is to credit them or link up). WOW, that bag is cool!

The other approach is to use a pattern. (Now you are talking my language!) There are loads of patterns out there, just search.  Here are some of our (lets face it) my favourites.

At the end of last year Sue over at Fadanista released a free Japanese knot bag pattern and over at the sew-a-long group we had great fun knocking these out, they’re a quick sophisticated make and ripe for embelishment and using up left over bits of precious fabric. (I’m embarrassed to say I still haven’t made one. But Rosemary has made them to use as gift bags. It’s a great colorblocking pattern.)

Feature collage

 Melissa shared this wristlet pattern and tutorialwhich has a cool twisted tuck detail and is perfect for using up scraps.


Another favourite pattern of mine is Seamstress Erin’s Presido Purse pattern, which is just so large and useful – I call it my Mary Poppins bag. I have made this an embarassing number of times (2ce to keep, the rest as presents) and I’m quite the fan girl! It introduced curves to my bag sewing, upped my zipper game and has great tutorials. And all of the bags above are made from remnants, left over fabric, and in one case a cut up pair of trousers! It works well with thicker fabrics on the outer, such as home decorating fabric.

If you only have smaller pieces, check out this scrappy quilt panel tutorial I used this technique to make the tablet cover above and just used fleece scraps instead of batting as I don’t quilt. It worked fine.

Looking for something a little smaller? I upcycled a pair of old trousers into a zippered pouch incorporating the back pocket.  Here’s a tutorial for some even more  gorgeous zippered pouches from scraps to get you started.

I have leftovers of boning, ribbon, velcro and some tent-red rubber-backed raincoating. Plus, I have lots of car trash. I need to make this car trash bag.

Drawstring bags make great presents for kids about to start school (or much bigger nieces who can’t find something large enough for their trainers!).


And, in a fit of madness, I sat up until midnight making personalised bags out of scraps as a more eco friendly alternative to the all pervasive party bag.

Oh, and on the not actually bags  but still containers front, how about a purse/wallet?


Or storage baskets? (You could even use them to keep the rest of your scraps in).

But like I said before, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bag/tote/purse patterns, I’m sure you can find your own favourite and get busting.

We’ll be back next week with the last of our set of ideas, if you have any scraps left by then!

In the mean time, happy sewing!

Scrapbusting part II: Clothes

Stashbusting Sewalong Challenge Button 2016 (1)

So, now you have all gone through your scrap tubs (you did do your homework didn’t you?), what are you going to do with it the bits that made the cut?  Maybe you’re already feeling inspired, in which case jump right in and get busting. If not, we have a few idea’s for you, starting today with clothing.


Depending on the size and shape of your scrap, you might be able to squeeze a whole item out of it for yourself. I have 2 pieces of about ⅔ yards each left over from big flowy tank tops I made last spring. They’ve been earmarked since then for some new sleeveless tops this spring…in fact, they are both navy fabric and I will have navy thread in my serger for the jeans I’m sewing…I should just whip them together really quick. I made 3 last year and they are easy to wear and take up less than a yard of fabric.

If you are looking for a quick pattern that doesn’t use much fabric, Maria Denmark’s free Kirsten Kimono top is super simple, especially if you don’t choose a striped fabric. Why not pair it with her twisted skirt tutorial for another quick make with a smallish amount of fabric.

Maybe you have a small person (aka a child) in your household. If so you probably already know that they can be a great way to use up remnants from your own sewing due to their diminutive nature. See, err, about half of my blog  for details (including the 5 projects above all made from leftovers). Also check out So Zo’s post on all the cute shorts she’s made as presents . However, if you don’t have small people in your life to dress in your off cuts, or if they downright refuse, fear not, there are other things you can make.

If you, like me, have bit of an addiction to expensive scandinavian jersey, then I’m sure that due to its extreme loveliness and cost, you also don’t want to waste any of. I like to make my leftovers into rather glorious knickers. So Zo (there’s that name again) has a great free pattern to start you off . If you don’t have appropriate elastic to hand or can’t get hold of any (which can be tricky), try Kitschy Coo’s Barrie brief pattern, which uses fabric bands instead . Of course, you can make knickers with woven fabric too, liberty ones are said to be very luxurious…

There’s also a whole post on scraptastic underwear over at Seamwork, including bra’s (eek, scary).

 Don’t forget that men need underwear too, check out the Comox Trunks pattern from Thread Theory. I’m not joking, you need to see this pattern page even if you have no intention of making the pattern (purely for research). WHOA, NELLY! Why can’t all our  links have pictures like that? ***note to self, new blog idea…***

Surely everybody knows about the Oliver and S free sunhat pattern by now?  I have lost count how many times I’ve made this (including enlarging it for my huge head). I even did a hack to make a witches hat at halloween. (I know the truth. Rosemary wears that witches hat more frequently than at Halloween)

Sunhat not your thing?  How about a flatcap then? Such as this free pattern which I have my eye on for Long Suffering Husband.

In our house we seem to need a lot of circular scarves, the kind that can be worn under a bike helmet. The branded ones cost a lot and they’re so easy to make, rectangle, hem, done (knit don’t fray). When I was doing my scrap sorting homework my LSH chose 3 bits straight from the tub to make some for him. Or make a longer looser version in woven fabric. If you want to line them and you can’t get your head around the geometry, just search for infinity scarf tutorial – there are tons out there.

What about about socks?  Never thought of making them?  Well, to be honest, neither had I until I read this great post.

I won the Sew Stylish Slippers pattern from Filles A Maman in December. It uses my left over knits, so I’ll be sewing a pair of those up this month too. Bonus: they will match the cardi I sewed in the knit fabric a couple years ago! (You’re such a trend setter Crystal.)

 Maybe you prefer cute little ballerina style slippers. I used some leftover flannel, ribbon and satin blanket binding to make these free ones.  Naturally, I had to stray from the written instructions and opted to sew mine using the instructions on this blog instead.

Don’t restrict yourself to patterns that come designed for more than one fabric, you can change things up to introduce colour blocking into old favourite patterns too, check out this t shirt  for inspiration.  Or how about Grainline’s post on colour blocking their Archer pattern. And if you don’t fancy changing an existing pattern, how about one designed to use lots of different fabrics such as Fehr Trade’s Tessellate Tee.


Here, I’m using leftover knit as the front panel on the Give Me A Shrug top from So Sew Easy. I’m just filling in the rest of the shirt with a basic black “staple” fabric. Uses up a scrap and highlights the little bit of print I have. (Please note that the shirt is not actually sewn in said photo…just cut out for now).


I didn’t have enough striped fabric for a whole top in this second picture, (probably a good thing looking back…that’s an overwhelming stripe…)(I don’t know, I like it) so I just used it in front and filled in the rest with a basic black knit. This is Cation Designs free Doloman Sleeve Top.


woo hoo

I got given a fat quarter of cool fabric by a non-sewing friend for a birthday present and was told to make something for myself. So I used it to make feature pockets and belt loops on a skirt, it really cheered up this boring cord that was sitting in my stash leaving me feeling uninspired.

... Patchwork and Scrap Fabric Skirts - Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!Hideous

While searching the internet I also found this photo of a patchwork skirt which comes from, but I can’t find the relevant blog post to go with it, sorry. However, how cool is this? It’s very cool, actually… [haven’t you heard of rhetorical questions in America?]. Or use several scraps, like this waistcoat/vest/gillet.

Or what about Reverse Applique, also known as Alabama Chanin, there are loads of examples out there such as this one.  You could either use this technique on a new garment, or set to with your scraps and your mending pile and give something old and loved a new lease of life. I know we’ve had some Stashbusting Group members use this technique before it it was lovely! You could do some interesting jeans repairs with this technique as well.

stitched scarf inspiration. Great idea to use scraps of silk.:

Talking of mending, the Japanese Boro technique of using Sashiko stitches for visible mending is all the rage on the Make Do and Mend Group. And this can be made to make larger things, such as this gorgeous scarf. Maybe we can just take our scraps and MAKE a scarf like that with all the top stitching. I want one!

 Still stuck for ideas?  Great minds think alike, while we were planning this series So Zo published some similar ideas for organising and making.

Anyway, that should be more than enough ideas to get you started. (Bonus points to Sue who has already started.) We’ll be back next week with some more  ideas.  In the mean time, we’re looking forward to seeing lots of your scrappy makes on the Stashbusting group (or post a link in the comments below).

Starting our February Scrap Busting Challenge

Stashbusting Sewalong Challenge Button 2016 (1).png

So, this month the theme over at the Stashbusting Sewalong (2016) group on facebook is Scrapbusting. Anyone is welcome to join in, if you’re in the Stashbusting group or not (and if you fancy joining, just fire off a request, we’re a friendly bunch). I am co-hosting in February, with my sewing Fairy Godmother, who is usually too busy sewing to blog, so we’re going to do some joint posts for you.  So, without further ado, I hand you over to Crystal…

Admit it, how many did NOT look at the scrap bin when we followed Judy in January to organize our Stash? I don’t know about you, but mine takes up way too much space. Pull out your scrap bin and sort with us.

BE RUTHLESS! You will feel freed and more inspired when you can see the treasures buried there.

Before you start, decide what is the minimum size that you need to do something with. If you’re not into paper piecing it may well be the size of a pocket. Now, remember that size and when you’re going through your heap, throw out anything that smaller than your designated minimum straight away. Right, lets get looking.


  • Did I love or hate working with this fabric? Did it pill? Did it fray?
  • Do I really have enough to cut something out of, or is it just a weird puzzle shape? (I had way too many of these)
  • Can I find the grain?
  • Was this fabric cheap/easily replaced?
  • Is it worth my time/space to keep this?
  • How soon do I see myself using this scrap?
  • Can I imagine a project it would work in?

I have my scraps tagged in my Evernote database as Remnant= More than ¼ yard, but less than 1 yard from selvage to selvage. I have 40 such pieces of fabric totalling 20.66 yards of my stash total. For math geeks: 7% of my stash is less than 1 yard scraps.

After sorting my scrap bin, I decided I had to be able to see them, if I was going to be inspired use them. So I made a place for them amongst the rest of my stash, where I can see it and think about what I want to do with each piece. So far it’s helping, because I’ve got plans to sew some of it this month for our Stashbusting Scrapbusting Theme.

What about the rest? Truth is, some of it is going to be trash. If it’s sat there for years and nothing has come of it, let it go. Don’t let yourself be bogged down. If you are lucky, you might have a place to recycle some of the more usable scraps. The timing worked out for me and I have an acquaintance who’s 10yr old daughter received a sewing machine from Santa. One of the bags above is trash. The second bag is for the budding sewer. I feel very good about giving her a big bag stuffed with pieces I won’t use. She’ll have the opportunity to play around with lots of different fabrics from denim to knits to silk.

I like to off load my scraps onto school for their junk modelling pile, it makes a change from all the egg boxes they get normally. I also have a new route, the print workshop where I’m taking a course is always on the lookout for scrap of fabric to clean up with.

Then I have this:

broken dreams.jpg

I call it my Box of Broken Dreams. At first glance, it looks like a box of UFOs or failed projects. It is, in a way, but this box is not about the garments that didn’t work out, it’s about the fabric used in those failures. That beautiful, expensive, treasured fabric that I absolutely ruined and now I can’t bear to get rid of the poor mutilated pieces. How many of you have something like this stashed away? My challenge to you and to myself this week is to open it up, and be real. Pull out and place with the stash what is usable and part with what’s used up.

Right, that’s it, homework set, we’ll leave you in peace until Friday when we’ll post some ideas of what you can do with your fabric that survived the cull!


In the mean time if you really can’t wait, this months theme for the Sew-A-Long and Sewing Contests Group (again, just send a request should you want to join) is for a Table runner with matching table mats, a perfect link up with our theme!)