Wednesday, 30 March 2011

How to ... Make a Pencil Case

It's been about 15 years since I made my last pencil-case, and this week it finally gave up and it frayed through. It was made out of an old pencil case and was quite unique. Anyway, I don't exactly use my pencil-case as I used to any more; I don't go to school any more (actually that's a lie - I go to school every day!) but it's still useful to have something to put your pens and pencils in - and I have quite a few.

So I decided that I need to make a new pencil-case, and figured this would be a good how-to for this month. 

My new pencil-case is made entirely out of upcycled products: an old pair of jeans (including the zip) and some strips of material that I had left over from the last elephant project.

1) Using a seam-unpicker, take the zip out of an old pair of jeans or trousers that you are going to make the main part of the case with. I have new-found admiration for jean manufacturers as those zips are seriously well sewn in. I think this part may have taken me the most time! 

2) Cut part of the leg from your jeans - make it about the size that you want your case to be. Think about the length of the zip as well - you don't want a pencil-case that is much longer than the opening. Open up the seams and cut your piece to the size you want it to be. It's going to be folded over not sewn along the bottom seam so it needs to be double the size of one side. 

3) I thought denim was a bit boring on its own so I decided to add some stripes. I cut some lengths of materials to the length I needed to go around the whole case. Fold in the edges and sew along the seams so that there aren't frayed edges on the side of your pencilcase.

4) Pin the stripes where you want them to be on your case. Place them right side up on the right side of the denim and then sew them on. Try to sew along the seams you have made when folding the edges. Trim off extra material at the ends.

5) Fold your material in half, right sides in and sew along the edges. I sewed each side twice to make them stronger. 

6) Turn your case the correct way round and pin the zip to one edge. Make sure that your zip is right side to right side of material (so when you turn it, it won't be inside out!) Change your sewing machine foot to a zipper foot and then sew as closely to the zip as you can.

7) Turn your case inside out, open the zip and pin the other side of the zip into the case. Sew it again as close as you can. 

8) Now sew a diagonal from one edge to the top where the zip meets the pencil-case. Again, I made a double line here to make it a little stronger. Cut off the excess as it will make it much easier to turn around. 

9) Turn your pencil case right way round again and iron the inner seams a bit flatter. And voila - you have your very own pencil case! Enjoy!

In case you missed it - I am hosting a giveaway of one of my mosaic necklaces once I reach 100 followers. All you need to do is follow and make a comment to enter. 

Friday, 25 March 2011

Weekly Round Up

It's been a hectic two weeks - not because of arts and crafts because, as you may have noticed, I've been a bit silent recently. More because the full-time job has upped a pace. I'm a teacher and my year group has been working like crazy. And you know what? I am really proud of what my kids have been achieving. As a treat today we decided to take them to the park, where my class agreed that the best thing to do was probably just to bury me, and then humiliate me by making me wear a silly wig... Unfortunately no one managed to get a photo of the wig (WHAT a shame!!)

When I finally managed to get all the sand from off my clothes and everywhere it had got to, I went off in search of a pomegranate. I've recently discovered Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, I was told) and made an AWESOME salad with it - edamame, sugar snap peas, feta, pomegranate, quinoa, cucumber with soy/olive oil/lemon dressing. It sounds pretty tame, but somehow the dressing and pomegranate make it simply delicious.

Craftwise: I've been working on a crochet/ knitted bag for what seems like FOREVER now. One day I'll finish it and be able to put up a photo or two... it may even get listed in my Etsy store.  For the moment though, I'm just crocheting away.

And I've just made a new treasury on Etsy - you can see it by clicking here. I've tried to copy and paste it in a few times but each time I have, I lost everything so I have given up on that; wish I was more internet / computer savvy!

One more thing - I am planning a giveaway when I reach 100 followers on this site - it will be randomly picked, all you need to do is follow and make a comment on the giveaway post that will be up. Watch this space!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Recycled Porcelain

Having seen the last pendant I made from some recycled porcelain, (see: ) another friend asked if I could possibly do something with her porcelain too. She has been collecting interesting pieces from walks along the river bank which means that the pieces she has are gorgeously smooth and soft to touch. None of the potential cuts that get me most times I do some mosaic work! Anyway, she gave me her pot of pieces and asked what I could do.

Jar of Goodies - pieces of broken porcelain picked up from the shore.

I was pretty impressed with her collection; look at all these pretty pieces! And that's just a few of them!

My friend actually makes some jewellery of her own, and some of her pieces were still inside the jar of goodies she lent me - I love how simple and pretty they are:

Simple idea: beautiful result - these pendants feel gorgeous.

I think she may be on to something here - leaving the smooth edges is worth it because they feel so lovely. However, I had a task so thought I should get on and do it. I couldn't bring myself to cut up all her smooth pieces and of course when you're working this small, you have to as you need little pieces to fit into the bezels. Eventually I chose three small bits that were of similar width and cut those three only. Here is the pendant before it was grouted:

Porcelain pendant ungrouted

Actually that photo is not just ungrouted, it's also unstuck: I wanted to get the smooth look back to the pieces before I stuck them down so did some fairly intense sanding before sticking the pieces in properly. Before I grouted it, I asked her over to the flat (wish I had a studio workshop!) as I knew she wanted to learn how to grout pieces. I got her to mix up some white grout to the right consistancy and then I showed her how to grout it - advising her to cover her ears. I still can't bear the sound of metal scraping over the porcelain / glass/ whatever it is you are grouting. It's one of those sounds that just goes straight down my back, like nails down a chalkboard. My boyfriend won't let me grout when he is home, and I totally understand why!

Anyway this is what it eventually looked like. Really sorry that the photo is so fuzzy - it was already about 10pm by that point (we had clearly also made dinner, watched a DVD and spent a long time chatting in addition to the grouting!) and I just couldn't get the light / camera right. I need a better lens I think as I must have taken over 20 photos and this was the best I managed to get.

Finished porcelain pendant

What do you think? I really like these upcycled pendants - I think they have sentimental charm as well as looking really unique and interesting. I'd love to make some more so if you have broken a favourite piece then let me know!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Artist's Feature: S L Jewellery

It's time for Creating Trouble's monthly Artist's Feature and this month I'm really happy to be introducing Sarah - the creative mum who heads up S L Jewellery. Every morning at around 6:30am a group of crafty-types say hello to each other and encourage each other to have a great and creative day. I am lucky enough to be included in that circle - and that is how I met Sarah. She's always got something nice to say and my mornings aren't quite as dreary because of the conversations we all have. You can follow her on twitter: S_L_Jewellery or visit her website:  When I mentioned the possibility of a feature, I received an inspiring piece from Sarah and I can't begin to make it sound better - so, in her own words, here is all about... 

S L Jewellery

Hello. I'm Sarah the busy hands behind S L Jewellery & Accessories.
I have always had a passion for crafts and a desire to be my own boss with my own empire but have never quite had the confidence to take the next step. When I was pregnant with my little boy the desire and passion began to grow. After my gorgeous little boy was born it seemed to give me the confidence boost I needed to start the ball rolling. I wanted to make my little man and my family proud.

What would be a normal day for you?

A day in my life is quite chaotic most of the time. My day usually starts around 5.00am with my little boy. He is at the wonderful age of 2 and doesn’t sit still for a minute. Throughout the day it seems to be a mix of quality time with him, the glory of household chores and as much admin as I can squeeze in usually writing blog posts, updating the website, contacting supplies or businesses that I can work with.

Once my little boy is tucked up in bed …. the creativity begins! This is where the toy scattered rooms become a showcase of all things sparkly!
I love all parts of of my job so much so it feels strange calling it a 'job' I think the most rewarding part has to be the customers and the wonderful feedback you receive when they finally get to meet the unique hand-crafted item you have talked about!
Obviously working with sparkly things its pretty fab too!!

What inspires you?

Inspiration is never hard to find it comes from people, places almost anything. I'm lucky that I have so many wonderful people in my life and I live in a beautiful place so I never really have to look far for inspiration.


How do you juggle a family and work at the same time? 

Mixing work and family life is one of the most difficult yet rewarding parts. Waking at 5.00am and having a day with a 2 year old can leave me too exhausted to work late into the night. I think the key is not to put too much pressure on yourself (I should take my own advice) and just make sure that you manage the time you do have well.
If perhaps you don't get everything done don't be hard on yourself just look at all the things you have managed to get done.

I am very fortunate to have an Iphone so between building towers and painting with my little one I can check emails and reply. It helps so much not leaving it all build up to the evening.

And lastly, how can we find you?

Please come and say hi on twitter @s_l_Jewellery facebook S l Jewellery and Accessories or on my


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Mug Pendants!

I got a call from an old friend yesterday. She had been drinking from a sentimental mug and had accidentally dropped it. It had smashed into lots of pieces and she was quite upset. However, before throwing all the bits away she decided to call me and see if there was anything I could do with the bits. 

I invited her over for another cup of tea (in the hope that this mug wouldn't smash!) and told her to bring the bits with her. As she actually lives fairly close she was over at mine quite quickly with lots of bits of porcelain. And this is what she brought:

It was a cute mug - but because of the amount of plain white I was initially dubious about what I could possibly make. I played around a bit with making a small piece of abstract artwork, a drinks coaster and then finally we decided a piece of jewellery might be best. 

Taking out my trusty cutters I got to it... and eventually this is what I came up with:

I thought I should probably show what it looks like on an actual person so here's a quick modelling pose:

Anyway, this has given me a great idea - recycled pendants! We all have one of those favourite mugs, plates, bowls that we love and are upset when they break. Well, instead of throwing out the pieces, why not send me the pieces and I will make a custom made piece for you! You can contact me through this site and I will get back to you with an address for you to send your bits to. Once the piece has been made, I will contact you again with pictures to see if you like it or not. At the moment I don't have a shopping basket on my site so in the meantime I will list your item on Etsy with a reserved tag for you to collect. 


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