Thursday, 27 September 2012

Guest post

This post first appeared as a guest post on Blissful Bucket List.

Hi. I'm Caroline, from Sewing for Utange, and it is great to have been invited to do a guest post here - my first ever guest post!
I'd like to share a project with you, but first I will explain a little bit about what I am doing and why. I make bags from old jeans and other recycled materials - primarily curtains, but also sheets, duvet covers - anything I can get hold of.  I first made a bag from old jeans about eight years ago; I have loved sewing for as long as I can remember, and saw a pattern in a magazine which I thought my daughters would love.  I found some old jeans in charity shops and made the two bags for them - and they loved them.  In fact, they are still using them today!
I thought other people might like them and made a few to sell at the craft stalls I was occasionally attending (I work full time as a teacher). However, the craft stalls were not a massive success and life kept getting busier, so I stopped doing them, and was left with a box of about 20 bags in the attic.
Fast forward a few years and a new friend told me about a charity a friend of hers, Debbie, had set up.  This friend had raised the money to build an orphanage in Kenya for 24 children who had been orphaned.   My friend had been out to visit the orphanage and told me all about it.
For Christmas, I gave this friend a denim bag, thinking it would be something she would like.  She did - she loved it  I told her that I had about 20 of them and asked if Debbie would like them to sell to raise funds for Casuarina House.

That was over two years ago and those twenty bags have multiplied.  I have lost count of how many I have made now!  I am in my third year of fundraising and now trying to have one stall each month.  To date I have raised £6000 for Utange. Please hop over to my blog to find out more.  I continue to use recycled fabrics because they cost me nothing - every penny I raise goes to the charity. One of the smallest items I make is "purse pockets":


Every time someone buys one of these (they cost just £1) I tell them that the money will feed a child on the newly-established Utange feeding programme for two weeks.

On to this project.
I have recently been lent a wonderful embroidery machine. You can read the story of it on my blog.  As well as helping me to solve a problem, it has sparked off new projects. This is one of them.
These bags are made using an embroidered panel.  All the panels have different sayings on them, and I am trying to decide which is my favourite!  I think probably this one makes me smile most:
Slogans so far completed are:
Chocolate is the answer - who cares what the question is?
Cinderella - proof that one pair of shoes really can change your life.
I can onlly please one person each day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow is not looking good either.
Believe, dream, wish.
The simplest things in life are the most precious.
Yesterday has gone.  Tomorrow may never come.  All we have is today.  Live one peaceful moment at a time.

I have a growing pile of slogans, and plans for a variety of bag styles using them.  I took the first four of these bags to my most recent stall, and sold two of them, so I think they will be a popular line.  With the proceeds from each one, thirty of the 600 starving children in Utange can be fed for a week.

Please drop by my blog to read more, and to see the range of bags I have created.  I have tutorials for many of them - and will be adding a tutorial for this bag in the near future.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bags for Casuarina House - finished!

Yes, that's right - I have finished the remaining 14 bags, which means all 24 bags for the children at Casuarina House are now completed and ready to go to Kenya with Paul when he next visits in November.  Phew!  It is a huge relief to get them done in time to pass on to Paul, who I saw on Sunday at Biddenham Show.
Here are the bags:
 And the individual bags:
Loice

Tina

Mary

Monica

Gereza

Right

Mariamu

Rehema

Kadenge

Dennis

Nicholas

Tobias

Irene

Happy
The names of the children should link to a picture of each one of them.

Now I just have half a dozen t-shirts to embroider, and all of the presents will be finished.

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Monday, 10 September 2012

Biddenham show

What a glorious day we had!  This was the third year I have done this show - it was one of the first I did (the very first was Bromham) and one that we have always done as a family.  This year my husband and Paul (who, with Debbie, started Casuarina House) were face painting; my daughters were running a toy tombola, and I was selling my bags and trying to sell raffle tickets.  Actually I think my elder daughter sold a lot more tickets than I did!
We raised a total of just over £300 between us - a great achievement. Bags were very popular this year - much more so than in previous years.  As an example, last year I raised £60 from bag sales at this event.  This year I raised nearly £180 - three times as much.
Here are some photos of the stall:
The front of the stall - showing the toy tombola.  Children took a ticket and the end digit determined which box they chose a prize from - tiny little toys (1,2,3,4), medium (6,7,8,9) or bigger ones (0 or 5).



Two views of the side of the stall. I had two racks of bags and the usual table displays.  We also hung bags all round the gazebo.
Next event is at church during our church weekend, then the Cats Protection League sale.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bag labels

With the wonderful embroidery machine, there has been considerable experimentation going on!  While I was working out how to use it, I played with the different text functions.  I ended up (eventually!) with labels for my bags - something I had been wanting to add for some time.  It took a lot of playing around to get the font size I wanted, but the design came easily.
 
I have used my blog name as my "brand name" lol.  I decided to use colours from the Kenyan flag for the label, so my labels are red, green and orange.  Having perfected my technique I thought I would share it here.
Having created the logo and sized it as small as possible (it is about 1.75" by 1") I set my machine to time it and, using the largest frame, ended up with nine copies on one piece of fabric.  If the cotton hadn't broken regularly, this would have made this stage really simple!
I cut each label out, with a border of about 1" top, bottom and one side, and a space to the side to mirror the embroidery.
Moving to the ironing board I pressed the top and bottom edges in to the middle.

I then pressed the label in half width ways to enclose the raw edges.

By sewing the remaining raw edge into the seam, I have a complete label.  For larger bags this label can go on the outside of the bag, but for smaller ones I intend to sew it inside, putting it between the outside and the lining fabrics.

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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Card Trick bag

I believe this pattern is called Card Trick.  It is a bag I have made before.  The piecing is quite time consuming, but this time I cut out five sets of bags at once, and chain pieced them.  This really speeded up the process.
I am really pleased with the resulting bags.  The panels are all made from recycled material, mostly curtains, and I had great fun picking out combinations of three fabrics.  The linings are all made from one fabric which is in the bag.



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