Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Gift Wrapping

Wrapping gifts for the holidays is one of my favourite things to do. I love making them look special and they look wonderful under the Christmas tree. If you will like to make your holiday gifts a little more special this year, why not add a little embellishment to your gift wrapping. Dress things up with bits of nature, beautiful ribbons, beads and perhaps even a little bling or glitter. I hope this little tutorial will give you some ideas on how you can wrap your holiday gifts.

Gift Box
2 Paper Doilies (size based on box)
Gift Tag
Small Pine Cone (optional)
Narrow Ribbon
Wide Ribbon
Jute or Baker’s Twine
Hot Glue Sticks
Hot Glue Gun

1. Centre the doilies on top of the gift box and secure with a small bead of hot glue. Then wrap the ends of the doilies around the top edge of the gift box. Secure the ends of the doilies with small beads of hot glue on all sides (you can also use double sided tape).

2. Wrap the narrow ribbon around the gift box and tie at the top centre.

3. Make a ribbon loop with the wide ribbon, then tie the ribbon loop to the centre of the gift box using the ends of the narrow ribbon. Cut the ends of the ribbons to the same length at an angle.

4. Hot glue the pine cone onto the gift box next to the bow.

5. Attach twine to the gift tag and tie the twine under the bow.

Happy gift wrapping.

Tips! Depending on how thick your doilies are you should use two doilies stacked on each other. The beautiful gift tag used for this project is from Gotamago at

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jute Ornament

I love making holiday decorations and I am very excited this year to get started with some fun projects. This jute ornament can take a little time to make, but it is very fun and super cute for holiday decorating. You can make a loop for hanging or you can simply cover the styrofoam ball in jute and put on display. You can make them all the same size or you can vary the size of the styrofoam balls.

Styrofoam Ball (desired size)
Jute Twine
Hot Glue Sticks
Hot Glue Gun

1. Turn in the end of your twine and glue onto the styrofoam ball with a small dot of glue.

2. Place a small bead of glue on the styrofoam ball close to the twine and wrap twine around the first piece of twine.

3. Continue the process of gluing and wrapping in small sections at a time until you cover the surface of the styrofoam ball and you are left with a small opening on the opposite end.

4. Cut the remaining twine to your desired length to make a loop for your ornament to hang from, or cut close to the base and leave just enough twine to fill the final space on the styrofoam ball.

5. Place a dot of hot glue in the middle of the small opening and press the end of the twine into the space.

Now your ornament is ready to use. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our New Crafted Spaces Studio and Store

This is the first post since the summer and I am sorry if it seemed like we may have disappeared. However, if you have been following our  Facebook and Instragram then you have an idea of what we have been up to and of course the title of this post may have given it away. After such a long hiatus, it seems only fitting that our new studio and shop gets a little spotlight.

Crafted Spaces | 13 Collier Street, Barrie, Ontario
I am happy to announce that we have opened our new studio and store at 13 Collier Street, Barrie, Ontario. The new location was opened on September 8, 2014 and is bright, spacious and conveniently located in downtown Barrie. Our main studio area is where most of the action happens, but there is an additional room of handmade goodies, an office and tons of storage. We even have a cute little kitchen and a private washroom in the unit.

My husband Don and I have spent the past few months getting things together and are very excited. I have also been hard at work creating new classes and workshops and we are curating a great selection of sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting and craft books. In the coming months we will also have a selection of sewing and craft kits available; as well as a beautiful selection of handmade accessories, home decor items and other gift items from Canadian designers and artisans.

Crafted Spaces Sewing Studio
We jumped at the opportunity to move into this spacious and bright new location. We hope that the new location will be more accessible to our students and it will provide us with an opportunity to host a wider range of classes and workshops. We have introduced several knitting classes and hope to have more new classes and workshops being taught by myself and other instructors.

I have really enjoyed working from my home studio over the years. It has provided me with an opportunity to be close to my boys and to stay at home with my little guy, who started JK in September. Some of the larger group classes and some textile dye workshops will continue to be held at my home studio in Shanty Bay, Ontario.

The transition to the new studio has been great and I hope you will love it as much as we do. There are still a few small things left to do, but the new space has been well received by our students and customers. The new locations has lots of street parking and is easy to access. There is more square footage; which translates into comfortable sessions. There are also classes and workshops available throughout the day, evenings and weekends.

We also invite you to join us at our open "Sew and Craft" which takes place on alternate Sundays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. My husband Don (GSM Beats Inc.) is also teaching guitar lessons from the private music lesson room at the studio. We also invite other creatives to join us to teach a class or workshop or to sell their handmade designs in the shop.

For more information about our location, hours and updates on our classes and workshops connect with us on Facebook and Instagram.

Crafted Spaces | 13 Collier Street, Barrie, Ontario

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DIY Summer Tie Dye

Nothing says summer like a tie dyed T-shirt, tank top or scarf? Tie-dye can be so versatile and fun. There are tons of techniques you can use and each provides endless possibilities. If you are looking for a way to breath new life into an old garment or you are simply looking to add a splash of colour to your decor, consider tie dying.

Today's projects only took about an hour and were super fun to make. The first item is a scarf (thrift store find) and the second is a 100% cotton tank top.

The original scarf (left) and the finished tie-dyed scarf (right). The scarf was scrunched on the ends and
dip dyed to create an ombre effect.
Plain tank top (left) and the finished dip dyed tank top (right). The tank top was loosely twisted
while being placed into the dye bath (see below).

Dye packet (1)
Salt (based on instructions)
Garment (tip: use cotton, silk, linen or other natural fibre for best results)
Pot, large basin or bucket (tip: consider purchasing a stainless steel pot at your local thrift store)
Rubber gloves
Rubber bands
Large spoon
Measuring cup

What we used:
1 Tin Dylon hot water dye in "Windsor Purple"
100% Cotton tank top
Scarf from thrift store (unknown fibre)

Step1 - Prepare garments by washing and rinsing thoroughly. Squeeze out the excess water and keep damp. Fold, twist or scrunch the fabric as desired and hold in place with several rubber bands.

Step 2 - Prepare dye bath as instructed on the dye package.

The Dylon dye we used required mixing in boiling water to dissolve the dye. The dye mixture was then added to the pot and water was added, just enough to cover the garments. The salt was added and stirred into the dye bath. The mixture was brought to a simmer for twenty minutes while stirring constantly.

Step 3 - Allow the garment to sit in the dye bath to intensify the colour and to get a stronger result.

Step 4 - Rinse fabric until water runs clear and remove the rubber bands as you are rinsing. Hang to dry, away from heat or direct sunlight.

Tips: Using the salt, ironing and/or placing the item in the dryer can help to set the colour.

If you are looking for a natural dye option check out our post on: Making Natural Dyes.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sewing: McCall's M6111

This McCall's M6111 pattern has been in my pattern collection for some time now. One of my younger students made a really cute peach cotton version of the dress in my beginner sewing class. She did such an amazing job, that I just had to add it to my own summer sewing list. I made the dress several weeks ago, and it even made its' debut on a sunny beach in Trinidad and Tobago. It is simple but very cute (especially over a swim suite), and can be easily modified to make it more unique.

I chose a lightweight cotton print and selected dress style "B." I used a French seam (using the ⅝" seam allowance) along the sides and finished my raw edges with a serger. It was fun to make and is a great project for all skill levels.

I have been doing a lot of sewing lately and I hope to share more projects with you. Let me know what you think about this pattern and share a pattern that you like.

Happy stitching!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Flowers and Butterfly Magnets

My youngest son and I were at the craft store recently, when suddenly he was at my side with a sprig of flowers that had a butterfly attached at the top. He had a beautiful smile and handed me the sprig of flowers and said, "this is for you mommy." Needless to say, he was rewarded with a big hug and kiss. I purchased the flowers as his gift to me, but really did not have a purpose for them. After giving it some thought I got the idea to make magnets. I will have a useful purpose for them, and it is a great way to show my son how much I appreciate his thoughtful gift.

With the use of a scissors, some hot glue and a small magnet; several really cute magnets were created.

My little guys love the magnets and really enjoy playing with them on the refrigerator.

I think that they are really cute and will make a fun gift. If you are interested in making these magnets, they are really easy to make and are lots of fun. Just cut the back of your flowers as close to the base as possible, then hot glue it to a small magnet. For a full magnet tutorial, check out decorative magnets and the super cute bottle cap magnets.

I hope that you will try making your own flowers and butterfly magnets. Enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Choose a Sewing Machine

I got my first sewing machine when I was about eighteen years old and I still use it today. My first sewing machine is a basic Singer machine that was purchased at Costco as a gift from my mother. It cost less that two hundred dollars and it has served me well. I am often asked what type of sewing machine I have and what I prefer. My sewing students also ask my advise on choosing a sewing machine, so I have decided to address the subject and I hope it will be helpful.

Over the years, I have purchased several sewing machines, specialty machines and sergers. I have found myself investing primarily in a selection of Singer and Janome machines. I also have a four-thread Kenmore serger and an inexpensive Brother sewing machine. The machines I have range in prices and have been purchased from different suppliers; however, I have been very happy with them all. The machines I have were selected based on the type of projects I make, how often I use them, how easy they are to maintain and the initial cost.

Sewing machines can be found from under a hundred dollars to over ten thousand dollars. Identifying what type of projects you will like to produce is a great place to start. When it comes to different textiles and weight of materials, all sewing machines are not created equally. Generally speaking the more you invest the better quality you will find. Having said so, I have found that you do not have to invest a small fortune to find a good sewing machine. I also think that the brand you choose, are really a matter of preference and there are machines available in different price points from the different brands.

Doing your research is key in finding the right sewing machine. Become familiar with the different sewing machine brands and visit their websites (see list below) for product information. Visit several dealers and prepare a list of questions you may have about machine features, maintenance and servicing. It is most important that you are comfortable with your sewing machine; so if possible try it out in the store to get a feel for the machine. Keep a journal and make a note on what you like and dislike about each machine.

If you are a beginner sewer looking to develop your garment construction or home decorative furnishing skills; the basic "dressmaker" sewing machine with a selection of basic stitches would properly do the trick. A machine with a built-in button hole feature and some basic decorative embroidery stitches may also be an asset and will support more advance projects.

If you are interested in quilting then you may want to think about the types of quilts and the complexity of the quilts you will like to make. You can use a basic “dressmaker” sewing machine; but may want to consider investing in a machine that will provide you with more features to help make your quilting easier. There are lots of great specialty quilting machines available, but keep in mind that the price point will generally be higher than a basic dressmaker machine. You can also review articles on finding the best sewing machines for quilters, to get more information on what is best for the type of projects you are interested in making.

As you develop your sewing skills and you start sewing more projects, you may want to consider purchasing a serger or overlocking machine. The serger or overlocking machine is great for seams and adding a finishing touch to your projects. This machine is especially helpful for finishing sheer lightweight fabrics, such as chiffon. I have a Janome and a Kenmore four-thread serger and have been very happy with both their performance. Other specialty machines include embroidery machines, buttonhole machines and hemming machines just to name a few. The more advance your work becomes or if you will like to move toward your own production, then the importance of these machines will be a consideration. Once again the cost will range and how much you are willing to invest will determine the quality of the machine.

If you are looking to invest in an industrial sewing machine, the options vary and are based on the type of projects you will like to make, and what you want to invest. There are machines that only do straight stitch and those that do both straight and zig zag stitches. You can also invest in a machine that makes buttonholes or a serger. I purchased my Singer industrial sewing machine several years ago. It fit within my budget and is great for the fabric I use to make handbags and heavy weight projects. This series have been in production for well over 20 years. It can be used to sew a wide range of materials including lightweight leather. With 2500 straight stitch per minute, this machine is a staple in my studio. Another personal favourite of mine are those produced by Juki.

Regardless of what type of machine you are looking for, only you can decide what is going to work best for your needs. I have read several articles on the subject and the only objection I will like to add is that you can often find the same machine at a lower price so do shop around. You may find that with a little reach the same machine can be found at your local hobby shop or craft department for a bit less. So make note of the machine style number and features and shop around.

Happy shopping!

Some sources for sewing machines:

Baby Lock -
Bernina -
Brother -
Elna -
Husqvarna Viking -
Janome -
Juki -
Pfaff -
Singer -

I also hope that once you have gotten your machine, you might find the following demonstration helpful.

How to Fill Your Bobbin

Friday, June 6, 2014

Organizing Sewing Patterns

I have been slowly fine-tuning the way I organize my studio. One of the challenges have been how to best organize my sewing patterns, and I have recently started using a method that has really been working well for me. Over the years I have used several methods to keep my patterns organize; however, for one reason or another they did not work for my purposes so I decided to try something new.

I wanted to keep things simple, organized and intuitive. I also wanted to be able to see my patterns at a glance, and as such using manila envelopes (which I have tried before) was not an option. Finding a method to separate the patterns into categories was also on my list. I wanted to use something that will work well with daily handling and can be easily relabelled when needed.

I found these black plastic binders (Oxford - Black #57722) at the dollar store. They have just the right amount of structure, flexibility, are easy to clean, and the price was .50 cents per binder. I got four divider tabs from each binder. I made the labels with my labeller and placed them over a strip of lime green polka dot washi tape for a burst of colour. I will be relabeling them in the future for a more uniformed look, but for now they work.

I have a few clear resealable plastic bags that I am testing out to store the individual patterns. The idea is to place a pattern in one of these bags to protect the envelope and to easily see the pattern. The bags are the just a little bigger than the patterns, so they fit perfectly. They have been working quite well; even after the pattern has been cut everything fits nicely. I have also started a binder where I store a copy of the pattern in plastic sheet protectors so that I can catalogue what I have in my collection.

All of the commercial sewing patterns I currently have fit into two draws. There are approximately 200 patterns, some of which are for the sewing classes I teach. There are still lots of room for more patterns if needed. I have chosen to store these patterns separate from the ones I design and I am still thinking of a better way to organize those patterns (future post!).

I hope that sharing this has been helpful and will spark some ideas on how you can approach your pattern organization. I am guessing that I will make some changes in the future, but for now I am happy with the results. I think that is important to be flexible and to think of how you will incorporate new patterns as your collection grows. There are also lots of ideas available and with a little planning; the right organizing solution is always within reach.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Vintage Cotton Pillowcase Apron

I had so much fun making the vintage pillowcase apron that I shared with you last year; that I wanted to make another apron for myself and I have even added the idea to my Aprons class. I found this vintage cotton pillowcase at the thrift store and fell in love with the beautiful yellow rose print. I decided to combine the fabric with some yellow cotton gingham that I had in my fabric stash for some time now.

I was so busy that it took me way too long to find the time to make the apron. In the end, it also took me a lot longer to finish it; but I am so happy that it is finally finished.

If you follow my Instagram, then you would have seen a picture of this cute apron already. However, I really wanted to share more details about the apron and hopefully inspire you to try making your own. I am really happy with the way the apron turned out and I think it is really cute. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DIY Trinket Box

Several weeks ago I posted a picture of the "Gulliver's Travels" trinket box I made for my eldest son. I originally posted it on Instagram and I have received several inquires about it, so I decided to share it as today's crafty project.

It was a simple and fun project to do and was made to store a few little odds and ends. I really love the way it turned out and I am considering doing something similar with some bigger boxes. I also think it provides great storage and is a fun craft project that can be done with kids.

Paper mache box
Decorative paper
Mod Podge
Sponge brush
Jute twine
Hot glue sticks
Hot glue gun

1. Cut the decorative paper to fit the top of your trinket box lid.

2. Use mod podge to glue the decorative paper in place on the top of the lid, remove any air bubbles and let dry.

3. Apply several coats of mod podge and let dry between coats.

4. Hot glue twine around the edge of the lid.

5. Hot glue twine on the outside of the box, leaving space at the top of the box for the lid to sit and cover the box securely.

Tip! The top of my trinket box was covered with craft tissue paper, which I printed with a page from "Gulliver's Travels." To print on tissue paper, you may have to bond it to card stock or other printer paper to make it easier to print on.

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