Scrap Sunday: the homemade tag blanket – a tutorial

I am really busy these days businesswise and I actually have to follow a rather strict time table in order to fulfill all pending orders. That sounds spectacular, I know. And I like it. Even if it is slightly, just slightly exaggerated. But I do have to make a few yoga bags (manly ones. I hope I will achieve this goal this time round) and knit a cardigan plus a birthday dress for my niece (ok, that is a private matter but it definitely has a deadline). Plus I have to write a scheme of work for my class “numeracy through knitting”. So while I was busy doing the latter, thinking a lot about numbers, shapes, patterns and spacial sense, I needed a break and thought finally making that little tag blanket might be a welcome change.

As super-ambitious teacher and generally smug person I thought I’ll spoil my readers with a little tutorial as I am clearly an expert of turning things inside out as I had recently experienced with the coat.

So here is how it is done properly 🙂

You’ll need two nice pieces of fabric, I went for woven cotton, I guess, jersey might be softer but I wanted to use the cute animal fabric from the advent calendar. I also cut a really broken and scratchy face cloth into shape to add some texture. For the tags you can use all bits of left overs, ribbons, labels, bits of fabric,…. Just make sure you’ll have all the edges sealed. The easiest will be to fold them and have the open edges inside the seam.


You could also add some crackling material, either in the main part or, as someone had commented last time, just in some of the tags, which I did for this one.

As one of the fabrics features unsuitably dangerous sharks, I cut (twice) a few blue waves and stitched them together with some of that crackling foil.


I left the piece open at the bottom to be able to turn it inside out and that open side will later be inside the seam of the blanket anyway.

Next, you carefully arrange the layers. It works best if you smugly explain your baby or any other person present how brilliant you are that you whip this up during a “numeracy through knitting scheme of work” break, just before you’ll have to go shopping. And that you are going to take some pictures for your blog readers to explain them how things are done.

Basically, all you have to do is to put the layers in a random order on top of each other not caring about right and wrong side as long as you are taking pictures of the process. And pin everything in place. Make sure that all tags are looking inside, in line with the seam. There is no need to take pictures of the five tags that you pinned sticking out in the first attempt as you will realise early enough which way to place them. You are a clever and well rested person after all.


Take an other picture to show your readers that the right side of the top layer is facing down as you are going to turn the whole thing. You are not stupid after all.


Stitch around the four sides. For added safety, you should secure each tag by going back and forwards again. Actually, don’t go around the whole thing. Leave a gap of a couple of cm for the turning. Be proud of remembering that. I’d take a few pictures of that really.

IMG_4593Even if by now you might be realising that you actually hadn’t payed attention when you put the first layer of fabric on the table. And that the sharks will be facing inwards after turning. They are inappropriately dangerous for a small baby anyway and it might be better that way. No need to get the seam ripper out. You only have about 5 min until the baby sitter comes anyway.

IMG_4594Just make sure your readers will see that gap properly. That is the only important thing here.

And then turn the inside out. IMG_4595This might now be the moment where you are slowly realising that not only the wrong side of the sharks but also the old and scratchy face towel will be on the outside and the cute animals will be completely hidden. But possibly give the whole thing some added stability. And that scratchy face towel will really have a very different feel and the baby will enjoy that. At this stage it is all about different textures. After all this is why you created all these different tags.

So you could just keep turning the whole thing. Or you do take that seam ripper and take the whole thing apart.

No it is probably time for shopping. A bit of fresh air might not be the worst at this stage anyway. So do that and continue with this quick project later.

When reassembling the layers, just remember one thing: The two sides that are supposed to be on the outside later, need to be on the inside, with the tags in between them. The middle layer can either be underneath everything or on top of everything. Doesn’t matter. As long as the two pretty sides are facing each other and have the tags in between them. Easy. And actually follows the same principle as the crackling material in the waves. Remember when you stitched them together correctly in only one attempt?


The benefit of this slightly longer process with the few extra steps before this one is that you will actually have a line of dots from the previous stitches showing you where to sew. Which is really helpful. So just be proud of it again.

Shorten the seam allowance, especially the corners.

And turn the whole thing inside out. You can either close the gap by hand or top stitch around all sides and close the gap during that process.

Now, it is optional to iron the whole thing. I decided not to take pictures of the ironing process as I would like to leave a bit of room for imagination to keep my readers active.

Time for more pictures. And to be proud. Before you finally go back to your numeracy scheme of work and all this thinking about spacial recognition and logic.

IMG_4597IMG_4598Needless to say that the baby was most impressed by the cleverness of his mum. And the crackling waves are so much fun. I really enjoy playing with them.







Tutorial: Cute little girl’s handbag

A while ago, I was asked to make one of my accidental reversible bags, so it would be suitable both for mother and daughter. In the end, I made one reversible bag in grown up fabrics and a small, slightly simpler version for the little girl.


To make sure that they are a kind of matching pair, I have used the same fabric for both the lining of the small bag and the small pocket of the big bag.

IMG_3834 Restetasche23

But now, lets go back to the beginning: I have put together a little tutorial to show you how easy it is to make a cute little bag for a little lady. It is definitely also a great way of using up scrap fabrics. As I have already misplaced the  measurements of the pictured bag, I will explain how to calculate your measurements plus give you those of the second bag I made, which was a bit more square than this one. In the end these numbers are only a rough guide anyway, I actually cut out how I felt before measuring the pieces)

You will need:

+ two pieces of cotton for the outer bag (width of bag + 2cm  x height of bag + 6cm = 24 x 24cm)

+ two pieces of cotton for the lining (2-3cm shorter than outer fabric, alternatively you can cut them all out in one go and shorten the lining later = 24 x 22cm)

+ 2 pieces of fabric for a small pocket, one or both of them in the lining fabric (width of pocket + 2cm x height of pocket + 3cm = 12 x 12cm)

+ 2 pieces of fabric for straps (4 x width of finished straps  x desired length + 8cm = 8 x 30cm for a 2cm wide strap)

+ the usual things like sewing machine, thread, scissors,…


Preparation of the straps:

Fold the fabric lengthwise and iron, fold both edges to this middle line and iron again, fold together and iron. Top stitch close to the edge.


Preparation of the pocket:

Sew the two pieces of fabric at the top together, Iron seam flat and turn so the right sides are outside, iron again to get a neat edge and top-stitch about 1 cm from the edge. Zigzag the three open sides of the pocket together.


Fold and iron the edges to the backside  (1 cm)


Cut off corners to avoid bulky pocket corners later.


Place and pin the pocket to one of the lining fabrics where you want it to be (at least 4 or 5 cm away from the bottom) and top stitch close to the edges…. ideally leaving the top open….


… alternatively you can go creative 🙂


Put the two lining fabrics right side together and stitch around sides and bottom with 1cm seam allowance and zigzag around it.


To create a fuller shape for the bag, pull the two sides apart at one corner, making sure that the side and bottom seam lie on top of each other. Draw a straight line (in a right angle to the seam), I find 2-3cm away from the corner creating a 5-6cm long line quite good for this size). Stitch on that line.


Cut the excess fabric off, zigzag and do the same on the other side of your bag.


Repeat all steps (apart from the pocket) with your outer fabric. Restetasche12

If you haven’t done it yet, it is now time to shorten the lining bag. Just cut of 2-3cm from the top (depending how wide you want your edge)


Take the outer bag and fold the open top about 1.5 – 2cm to the wrong side. Iron.


Fold it a second time 2cm to the wrong side. Iron.


Turn the whole lining bag inside out (so the outside is now showing) and put the outer bag wrong side to wrong side into the lining bag. The edge of the lining bag should reach the once folded down edge of your outer bag.


Fold now the outer bag down the second time (like you have ironed it before), the lining should now be fully covered.


Now it is time to place the straps. Slide the open ends in between the two bag fabrics, making sure the ends reach the very top of the bag. For my bag I placed them about 4.5cm from the side seams. For now the straps look downwards.


Now you can carefully fold them up again (without pulling them out of the slot) and pin them in place. Do the same with the second handle on the other side, making sure that they are in the matching position.


Top stitch close to the edge all around your bag, securing all 4 ends of the strap at the same time.


Then secure all 4 ends with a little X. I seam to have forgotten to take a picture of this step. But here is a picture of an other bag and at the bottom of my tutorial for a very similar cotton bag you will actually find a more accurate description the sewing directions.

Stofftasche 20

And we are done 🙂



And another version, where I used a lovely corduroy for the outside:







Scrap Sunday: Post Valentine scrap

A couple of days ago, my daughter found in her mess carefully chose the hairband that I had made in 5sec out of some left over from her shirt and dress.

This one, you might remember it: IMG_2272detailI love it but I really should have done it properly. It is the sewn version of one of these  (I am obviously talking of the yellow and the pink one in the front and then again the red a bit more up and to the right.)

IMG_2142sIn both cases it is a long strip that twists into a spiral naturally because one side is much longer than the other.

In the knitted one, this is done by increasing (or decreasing, depends if you are knitting from bottom to top or top to bottom), in the fabric one, I gathered the bottom edge.

Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea for a Scrap Sunday post to finally do it properly. Initially I meant to use the same stretchy jersey but then I thought, I will try a woven fabric instead to see the difference and just took some red cotton.

Just one thing before we start the series of pictures: I meant to do a tutorial but after finishing the rose, I realised that I would actually make a few things differently, so calling it tutorial is a bit silly, but I would still like to share the journey of making a rose with you and it will be up to you to do those few things differently (surprise, surprise, but I am too lazy to make another one whilst simultaneously taking pictures of it 🙂 )

First, you need to …… sorry, journey, not tutorial, so

First, I cut a stripe of fabric on the bias to make sure it gets a bit stretchy.

To do this, I took a piece of fabric (doesn’t have to be square),….


folded it along the diagonal in half to get a 45 degree angle.IMG_3195

Then I cut my stripes (through both layers), parallel to the folded line, about 8cm wide.IMG_3196

I then placed the two strips on the short sides together in a V-Shape (will be a straight strip when opened up) and sew along that short side.IMG_3197

I opened it to iron the seam flat open and to get a longer bias strip. It was about 50cm long, which is a bit too short really. And obviously one single strip without seam would have been better but it is a project to use up scrap yarn. IMG_3199

I folded the fabric lengthwise in half and trimmed the short sides. A slight curve seemed ideal for me, not sure why.IMG_3200Initially, I meant to zigzag with the wrong sides together and just work from there and to use a contrasting thread to show things better in a potential tutorial (really because the machine was threaded like this).  But halfway through the zigzagging I decided to make the right side to wrong side and and left a gap to be able to turn it inside out.IMG_3203Why? Because the edges looked suddenly silly and because I have a cool turning tool which I wanted to show off.

IMG_3204After turning the strip inside out I ironed it flat to get a sharp edge on top of my “petals” rather than the fluffy mess of the initial jersey rose. Just to see how that looks.

Then I stitched straight  next to the seam with the longest stitch length and started to gather the fabric by pulling one of the threads. I left one end rather ungathered as I wanted to roll the rose  at the beginning tightly to get something like a still closed rosebud. IMG_3205I started to roll up the strip and kept securing it with stitches going back and forth through all the layers. That was quite tricky as my fabric strip had gotten quite thick at the bottom because of the seam allowance that was now inside my strip. So, if I do this next time, I will either zigzag on the outside or stitch together with a straight line and trim the seam allowance before turning.

In any case, the result looks pretty good, you can almost not tell the difference 😉IMG_3211At least not from the front / the top. Obviously the bottom is quite messy and depending on the use (other than some picture taking from the pretty side only), one might have to hide that mess somehow.

long tail cast on

When I learned how to knit, the long tail cast on was the one that I had been shown. And for almost 30 years I had been blissfully unaware that there was another zillion of cast on methods.

Despite my then following ignorance of the qualities of some of the other methods (cable cast on or provisional come to my mind), I still use the long tail cast on for 99.9% of my projects as I find it strong and versatile. It is supposed to be done over two needles which makes it very stretchy, great for those lacy or stretchy projects, but if I want it a bit less loose (or if I am working with ridiculously big needles) then I will just use one needle.

For this tutorial, I have only used just one needle as I find it easier to get started. Once you understood the movement, you can do it over two needles.

I made this tutorial for my knitting class which is a mess healthy combination of English and continental knitting so it might look slightly weird to those of you who have learned knitting the continental way (considering my observations lately, it might actually be a German way rather than a continental but that is how it is called).

One last thing before we get started. Please remember that these pictures have been taken 3min before the all important football match. We will see if I will ever get the chance to replace them with better ones.

But for now, lets use what we have:

 1. Make a slip knot with a long tail end (the length of the tail will depend on the amount of stitches you will need) and put it on the needle. Hold the needle in the right hand, open the two tails up so they form a V- shape, the tail end comes towards you, the ball end goes away from you.long tail co 01

2. Slide the thumb and index finger of your left hand into the gap between the two strands and open the gap up a little bit.long tail co 02

3. Grab the two strands with the remaining three fingers and hold them tightly.long tail co 03

4. The needle with the slip knot should now be positioned between your thumb and your index finger. The tail end goes over your thumb (thumb strand), the ball end goes over your index finger (index strand).long tail co 04

5. Pull the needle down so the thumb strand forms a full loop around your thumb.long tail co 05

6. Slide the needle from bottom to top through the thumb loop…long tail co 06

7. …grab the index strand and pull it through the thumb loop.long tail co 07

8. You have now a new stitch on your needle. Release the thumb loop.long tail co 08

9. Push the thumb strand down with your thumb to tighten the stitch but do NOT let go of the two strands.long tail co 09long tail co 10

Start again from Step 5 by bringing the thumb up again and pulling down the needle. If you are working on a small scale with small movements, this will result in a smooth circular movement of your thumb and you will not have to set up everything from scratch.

As I have mentioned before, you should do this over two needles held together. You will pull one out once you have finished the cast on. This will result in a very stretchy cast on, ideal for something that needs to be stretched out.