Saturday, 20 July 2013

Toddler Tote Bag

I had such great fun this week with this little craft project for my niece's birthday. She is a brilliant, vibrant two year old and pretty sure to go nuts for anything with Peppa Pig on it. She also a big fan of bags, hey a girl needs to start young eh? And she needs something to carry around her Peppa toys, obviously.

These two facts combined left me wanting to make her something special that would be personal and super sweet so I came up with this, the toddler tote bag featuring Peppa!

I started by selecting some contrasting fabrics. I didn't need much as the bag is small enough for a little two year old to sling over her shoulder. I used thick curtain fabric for the bag to be sure it was sturdy enough to face the rough and tumble of toddler play and made the patch pocket in a floral cotton.

Here were my simple steps to making my toddler tote bag...
  • I first cut the large spotty fabric to my preferred size allowing extra for seams. I cut it so that the fold is at the bottom of the bag and the two sides need simply to sewn together, but don't sew it just yet!
  • I then designed the patch pocket. Using an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut I embroidered on my message using three strands of embroidery thread. I then cut the pocket down to size and stitched it along the top on my sewing machine. I then folded all the sides under and stitched the pocket to my chosen spot on the bag.
  • I then designed Peppa. I started by drawing a template on paper which I cut out and pinned onto felt. I then sketched Peppa's features in pencil and embroidered them on. Lastly I embroidered all of Peppa onto a round piece of white felt to create a badge and stitched this on with contrasting green embroidery thread onto the bag.
  • I then stitched my nieces name onto the fabric under the Peppa badge. An embroidery hoop wasn't needed here because the fabric was nice and thick so didn't warp.
  • I then sewed on a bow made of pink ribbon for a little extra decoration.
  • Decorations on I assembled the bag. To make the straps and neaten the top edge I added a line of herringbone tape to the edge of the bag (on the inside), tucked in the end of each strap and stitched a double line of stitching to secure the straps nice and strongly to the bag.
  • I then turned the bag inside out and stitched up each side. I finished by neatening the seams. This is optional but will hopefully make the bag last longer.
And that's it! Such brilliant fun and can be adapted to any child's current favourite. Sure to be a winner!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Signing Off (for a little while!)

My sweet blogging family, I'm going to be leaving you for a little while.

I am always so thrilled to see my little visits counter go up on this blog and I think of you all when I look at the little map telling me where people are reading posts from. The US, Asia, Australia, New Zealand (is that you Lynn?! *waves*) and closer to home in good ol' blighty.

Blogging is such a privilege. A place to process, a place to share, but most of all a community. I am most thankful for that. That you all stick around and read my ramblings. That is what has kept me coming back here for three years now. A great group of people who have grown with me and will continue to do so, I am sure.

But never fear, this isn't a mass Dear John Letter. As I mentioned in the last post I am simply signing off for the next four weeks while I embark on a little adventure around Europe. Being quite unable to not note down my thoughts in some way I will be keeping a travel journal on Off Exploring.
I'm not sure how frequently I'll do so, perhaps every few days, perhaps just once or twice but it will be evidence that we are still alive and hopefully having a wonderful time. You never know it might even be interesting, depending on how much Sangria I stumble across in Spain! 
The trip! Beaut!
I have one more post in the offing for you in my absence, a craft project that I have totally fallen in love with. It is currently shrouded in secrecy, MI5 style, as the finished article is a gift awaiting to be given. Saturday night it should be up on the blog through so do stop by then.

Anyway, with that I will say farewell, keep being brilliant, have a fabulous summer and catch you when I get back!

Friday, 5 July 2013


July has brought with it some exciting events. I love the change of pace of summer and that, done right, it can give you some well needed time to reflect and, crucially, catch up with friends and family. It's also pretty nice if there is a little adventure thrown in there. This summer looks like it is going to provide all three.

Last summers adventure, looks great, was utterly terrifying!
Next week I'm going to spend some much needed time laying by a pool (albeit with some Greek verbs to learn!) and hanging out with my Mum, the perfect combination. Then follows a week in England before husband and I jump on a train to Paris and begin our European adventure. I've been working my little socks off to free up the time for this trip so I am absolutely thrilled it is finally here. We hit France, Spain and Italy, eat a lot of food, drink a lot of wine and generally just have a really great time.

A much more humane adventure, summer sun in Greece.
This trip also feels a bit more than simply a holiday though. After a brilliant but intense year I'm excited to be on the road with just a couple of good books and a beach towel. As much as training for ministry is a wonderful blessing it also leaves you very on show. People have expectations of you the minute you say what it is that you do, rightly so in many ways, and you are assessed constantly on every aspect of your being. This goes beyond simply competence at your role to who you are as an individual, again this is arguably as it should be, but it does make for a goldfish bowl like existence sometimes. For this reason I'm so excited to take some time to be anonymous. To be Nikki rather than a trainee Vicar and to have no objectives but to see where the trip takes me.

I'm also excited about embarking on an adventure. There will be so many things that I will see for the first time, so many new tastes and experiences, so much to take in. Whether it's walking the Alhambra in Granada at night or seeing the Eiffel Tower all lit up, I can't wait to stand and stare for a while. I'm so aware that it is moments like these that stay with you for a lifetime. Those moments where you need to sit down to take in everything that is around you and simply be grateful to be here and be alive. If life isn't punctuated with those moments I truly believe it is the poorer for it. You don't need to go to the other side of the world to have those moments, but if you can? Well, what a blessing.

And last but not least I'm excited about some time with the husband unit. When I got engaged someone said to me that marriage is like studying for a PhD in another person. Well five years in and I'm pretty sure I've got enough info to write a 70,000 word thesis! Still, the wonderful thing about relationships is that you can never truly get to the end of someone else. There is always more and even more so when you are making memories together. To learn more about each other and coax one another out of bad moods when the trains are delayed is all part of the experience and I hope we will emerge stronger for it.

So there we are! That is my next adventure. How about you?