Poster hanging project

Hi everyone, it’s been a while! You know…life.

Anyway, I have a little project to share 🙂

Next year I’m excited to be starting a Cert IV in Massage Therapy. It’s something that has always been in the back of my mind to do and I needed something more hands on, and committed, to do in my spare time. At completion I can give relaxation massage as a business on the side which will be a fantastic option for me if I ever want to step away from working full time in my fulfilling but stressful HR career.

I am currently doing a short “taster” course and have quickly decided that given I am going to need to intimately know the muscles of the body from an anatomical perspective, I should get a muscle poster! So I ordered this:

Available here:

As specified it arrived as an A2 sized poster freshly printed on quality poster paper. My thought from the beginning was the hang it using those black poster strips. But I didn’t order any when I ordered the poster and they proved to be stupidly hard to find in any relevant store (BigW, news agents, Officeworks etc). So I decided to do something a little funkier with rulers, magnets, string and E6000 glue. I had the string and glue on hand (glue shipped ages ago from the US, any epoxy glue will work fine though), and everything else cost me about $20. It was possibly slightly more expensive than the plastic strips if I ordered online but looks heaps better I think 🙂

Here it is in pictures with basic instructions in the captions. If anything isn’t clear, please ask!


4 x 45cm wooden rulers

4 x magnet strips

E6000 epoxy glue

Magnet strips opened. Glue goes on white side.

Like so…

Glued down centred on each ruler.

All four done and left to set for 24 hours.

Then they simply snap together over the poster and get strung up.

Classroom chic?

It worked just as I hoped it would.

Close up of the rulers snapped together.

I’m so happy with this simply little project! I may even replicate this elsewhere in my house or as a gift 🙂


80s Prom Party

For my 30th birthday party I decided to have an 80s prom theme. I’d wanted to have an 80s prom party for years, and celebrating my birth, which was right in the middle of that decade, seemed like an appropriate way to do it. I had the event in the back function area of a pub called The Blind Monk. I wanted to keep the decorations minimal so instead focused on two things: the costumes (of course) and a kickarse prom photo booth.

All my supplies came from BigW, Shindigs Party Supplies and Spotlight in Newcastle NSW. I went for a bit of a glam rock theme as making a prom photo backdrop out of foil curtains was WAY easier than doing the balloon or crepe heart typical of a prom.  For the photo taking I just set up photo booth on my Macbook Air, which I placed on a big barrel that the venue had as a standing drink table. A friend also brought their DSLR and some of their photographer lighting to throw light on the right spot.

We had props, including crowns and septres, and after finding prom sashes were quite expensive on Etsy, I made my own for $4 a piece. My dress (that’s me in the blue peplum) was second hand, cost $8, and required no modification. I even already owned the ridiculous snake-esque belt. I bought a hair crimper and let my big hair fly. I wore more makeup than I ever have in my life.

A beautiful friend of mine made me an amazing Harry Potter themed cake!

And the best part of all was that with plenty of lead time and advice, everyone else also got really, really into it! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!



Mincraft craft

My brother recently had a medical emergency which saw me zooming down the highway to collect my 11 year old nephew…completely unprepared. I had him with me for about two days. He’s a very easy kid to care for….if you are willing to let him watch Minecraft videos on YouTube all day long. I wasn’t willing to be quite that laid back about screen time, but still wanted to be the cool Aunt, so we went on a Spotlight shopping adventure. There was quite a massive eye roll when I told him where we were going, but the mood significantly lifted when I let him know that he could pick out fabric to make his very own Minecraft Slime. From there on he got very excited.

For those who aren’t down with the kids these days (I’m not…How on earth is it fun to watch others play a video game for hours? Wouldn’t it be more fun to play yourself?), Minecraft is a game where you dig (mine) and build (craft) different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats to explore. I lifted that definition directly from the linked site which is designed to help parents understand what the heck their kid is talking about. You’re welcome.

Anyway, this is a Slime, which is apparently a hostile mob that spawns underground and in swamp biomes:

In case it isn’t obvious, I picked it for its simple shape.

So anyway, back to Spotlight and Sean was utterly determined that unlike a store bought Slime, which would have a black mouth and eyes, his would have a dark green mouth and eyes which is how it’s supposed to be. I love this kid so much!

We got all our bits and pieces back to the house and I quickly realised that considering I was still totally unprepared and Sean seemed quite concerned that the sewing machine will eat him, this project would mostly be done by me, with Sean “helping”. And you know what? That turned out just fine. I created a template for our cube sides, Sean designed the face features according to his expert specifications, I cut the main pieces, he cut the face ones and helped place them, I sewed the face on and then the cube together explaining structure, pinning and seam allowance as I went, he stuffed it to his desire (“I want less stuffing so it’s all squishy because it’s a slime.” Fair point.), and then I hand sewed it shut whilst we watched TV.

Oh and the corners, according to Sean, HAD to be curved/soft. I was happy to oblige since it was quicker.

This is the end product:


This is the expert stuffer, doing his thing:


And this is the slime watching itself on YouTube:


And the best part of all? Sean and I now have a plan to make ALL the Minecraft characters, increasing the level of Sean’s participation and the level of difficulty each time. We’ll level up!

He really go into it! Watching his excitement, and watching the learning curve as I explained how we would turn 6 square pieces into a cube, was just awesome. It was so awesome in fact, that I am considering having a go at teaching other kids to sew as well….hopefully with more structure and preparation.

Does anyone else want to share their experience with teaching sewing? As I still consider myself a beginner I never ever thought that I could teach…other grown ups. But children? Now that I’ve considered it, I can’t stop thinking about it!

The Coasters of Catan

It’s taken me a while to post this one. Firstly I had to wait until I had given the gift to the recipient, then I finally did and just straight up forgot to post about it. Woops.

My boyfriend and I regularly go to a friends to play board games and video games.  We’ve often said our friend needs some coasters to protect his furniture and we should probably be the ones to give them to him since we so regularly invade his home. I decided I should make him some nerdy coasters to suit our nerdy nights and went looking for suitable fabric. It was then that I managed to find The Settlers of Catan inspired fabric on Spoonflower.

The Settlers of Catan is a great board game that was pretty much the beginning of our regular board game nights. We love it! Click the link and take a look, you can also play it electronically through a number of media 🙂

The board in The Settlers of Catan is made of of numerous individual hexagonal pieces and the game revolves around earning, trading for and using resources.  The design contributor on Spoonflower combines these two elements, and the result is a pattern of hexes, each representing a basic motif version of a resource (brick, wood, wool, grain or ore).

The fabric came with both small hexes and larger hexes and I was really pleased to discover that the large hexes were pretty much precisely coaster sized!

This is the result:

20140503_171438 20140503_171450













And I also knocked together a cute little box for them too










Nerds just wanna have fun!

Fabrice found here

Christmas Gifts (and some reflections, just for you)

Phew! This year gone, and this last few months, have been hectic!

I just checked and it has been almost a year since I started this little blog. It’s been a great year! My sewing hobby has enjoyed the highs and lows that come with being a side hobby, often taking a back seat to my day job, my volunteer work with emergency services, boyfriend and family time, climbing and house work. Add to that starting two other blogs and trying to find time to write, and I am amazed I found time to sew at all.

But I did find time! I also saw progress, and achieved goals, despite falling short on others. I learned so much, including saying no to myself and others, and I have refined my goals for the new year.

All in all, it is happy times over here at Cotton Handy, so in the next week I will announce my very first blog prize, in celebration of my pending anniversary…hoorah!

In the meantime, to finally give you all some sewing to look at (it’s been too long, hasn’t it?!), below are some pictures of all the sewing goodies I gave as gifts this Christmas. On the one hand it was alot of work and I’m not sure I want to commit myself to do it again this year, on the other hand it was SO nice seeing everyone’s excited reactions… so I may well do it again anyway, planning nice and early 😀

Let’s take a look!

Bow clutches purses Bow clutche purses

These bow clutches were made for the teen girls. Tutorial by elm street life.

This nifty hanger is for the teen boy. It will hold wallet/keys/phone on the back of his bedroom door, never to be forgotten again! Boys are so hard to make for so I was very excited to find this on Design Sponge.

This owl softie has a misshapen bum…but bubbas don’t notice such things! Thanks to Simple Serendipities.

IMG_2737IMG_2747These Matchbox car rolls were a huge hit with the little boys, fabrics matched to their age. I used two tutorials for these, thanks to Jamily Creations and homemade by Jill! The straps look a little bit long, but that’s because each roll only had one car in the ‘garages’, once filled they should be perfect!


When I spotted this fabric I had to use it for the young men. My brother, T, got a sketch book and my cousin, D, got a notebook 🙂 My boyfriend has also requested a Kindle cover! I actually made these up as I went, but had some experience from my previous foray into notebook covers.

A kitty purse for a little lady. I also made this up as I went!

This lanyard/pen holder is pretty neat. I made it for a teacher, but then bought him something perfect, so it was redirected to someone who works in patient transport. I also think I’ll be making one for myself! Found on The 36th Avenue.

Nap kits for a migraine suffering mum and a busy, busy dad/grandad. They were well received, Facebook pics of the next day headache recovery were great! I have made these before so all the tutorial links can be found here. These were also progress moments for me. My top stitches still aren’t perfect but round 2 with these was so much easier than I expected!


Face masks. The people these were made for received another purchased gift from my man, so a full nap kit was not necessary. However as they were flying to Canada Christmas morning, I thought they would like these. What I wasn’t anticipating was sheer excitement! Apparently Mr Blue had desperately wanted one for the flight but forgot to buy. He was thrilled to bits 🙂


These heat packs were a staple gift. Two long ones were given to my Aunt and Cousin and a bundle of different shapes were for my Mum, who suffers frequent migraines and some arthritis. I got a HUGE 20kg bag of wheat for $18 from the pet store. I had been so stumped on how to buy wheat so I was very excited by that tip. If bugs haven’t moved in while I was away for the break, I’ll make some more just because, including several for me 😛 These are simple and very well liked. I now make heat packs as I go, either measuring off my own or drawing up a rough pattern (such as the purple neck one, or the red knee ones), however there are tutorials all over the internet, I think I first used this one from Warehouse Fabrics Inc.


And finally, some muscle soaks. Though not technically sewing I had a bunch of old pasta jars to use and wanted to experiment with mod-podging fabric. These were mostly gifted with a heatpack. There are recipes all over the net and I sort of made my own up. I used sea salt, epsom salts, glyerol (gycerine) and food dye, all bought from the supermarket or pharmacy. The jars have fabric mod podged where the label used to be and the lids are spray painted. I didn’t use baking soda as apparently that can result in exploding jars. I also did not add essential oil due to the headache prone (me amongst them), but you can add some to the recipe or just straight to the bath. I’m thinking of trying peppermint 🙂

Well, that’s Christmas done for the year! Whilst it took some time and commitment, it was so worth it for the reactions and the joy and the learning. And whilst I didn’t do it to save money, I am pretty sure I did…bonus!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and New Year break. Mine was both busy and restful, sunny and stormy. I still have a few more days off and am looking forward to some maintenance sewing and a little project planning.

I’d love to hear how your break went…and be sure to stay tuned for that anniversary prize post!

Dani xo

The Dress

Well, it finally came, the wearing of my almost completely successful Vogue 1102, my first real fitted garment. I’ll launch straight into the pics I know you are all dying to see, then talk a little about it shall I?

(Thanks to my Mum for taking snaps and giving us a ride! xo)

While boyfriend tucked in shirt and put on tie, Mum insisted I pose wedding style to show off the skirt.

Full front

Full back

Close up of the bow! Yep, that’s my low back bra peaking out. We fixed it before we left the house and it didn’t reappear till many champagnes later. I was just pleased to be able to wear one! The zip is not crooked, but yes, the bodice is uneven here. The only real flaw!

All ready to go

I am so happy with how this turned out! 🙂

There is only slightly too much fabric at the top of the bodice as I expected, but this happens in many dresses of this style so it didn’t bother me. It was certainly an alteration that would be beyond my skill level so I’m pleased I didn’t meddle. The bust fits perfectly and I am so pleased I added extra darts. The area of the below bust seam joining the skirt is still slightly too big on me but is better than too small and the density of the fabric meant it didn’t billow out and exaggerate my belly…win! The skirt was perfect and very twirly! The bow was a little challenging to tie evenly, but I am pleased with the final look. I was very glad I had the sense to hand stitch it in place here and there so it wouldn’t come undone….it stayed perky and cute all night! The only actual flaw in the dress is the one inch piece of bodice at the top of the zipper at the back. The back bodice should be one inch at that point, however on the left it is half that. I have an idea what happened and there was no way I was unpicking it all to fix it. It was not noticeable enough! As that was the only actually mistake/flaw I am very happy! The fitting issues were almost completely resolved as well so this was definitely a success!

Any beginners out there wondering, yes I would recommend this pattern. I had a number of fitting issues and managed to make three muslins of the bodice, but that was mainly due to my inexperience in bust alteration as well as my desire to shape the bust a little more than the pattern called for. I wanted to bring the top of the skirt in a little to prevent the “pregnant” look. It complicated things choosing this dress for my shape, but the pattern and instructions themselves were not difficult at all. And I learned so much doing the alterations that I have no regrets about the time I had to put into this. I think it also has taught me not to fear garments designed for shapes different to mine. I am now sure that in most cases I can make it work!

The firsts for me:

  •  A fitted garment to wear
  • Bust adjustment
  • Pattern alteration (shaping bust, narrowing shoulders)
  • Adding darts
  • Inserting a lining
  • Working with satin
  • Hemming something larger (much larger) than a pants leg
  • Invisible zip (or any zip for that matter really)

How I deviated from the pattern/instructions (such a rebel):

  • Inserted side bust darts to bring more shape to the dress, bringing the waist in slightly
  • Made the bow ties double sided as opposed to the single sided version in the instructions. This was necessitated by my one sided fabric but I would have done it regardless…it looks much more professional!
  • Simplified hem

As always, my sewing books were very, very helpful, as was YouTube and a fantastic tute from Coletterie on sewing an invisible zip.

I am so thrilled with how this turned out, and yes, also thrilled it is over. It was alot of work!

In the pipeline now are curtains for my step dad, yoga cushions and a long list of simple but fab Christmas presents. I am going to have to find sneaky ways to post about what I am up to without revealing too much, but there are sure to be other little bits and pieces to report on. I have some great bargain bin stretch knits I want to turn into summer skirts so I am sure you will all get some interesting rants about my first attempts with that sort of fabric. Hooray! 🙂