Jazzing up a glasses case

I wear glasses to use a computer, and also distance glasses for driving and watching TV. Recently the hinge broke in my computer glasses case and the only other one I could find was identical to the case I keep my distance glasses in – blue with an orange lining. After a week of picking up the wrong case 50% of the time, I decided to do something about it.

Decoupaged glasses case 3

I would have liked to have removed the lining from one of the cases so that I could then cover the outside with fabric, tucking the raw edges neatly to the inside before hiding them by replacing the lining. Unfortunately, the lining material is a flimsy (but velvety) plastic that is well stuck down and I have little doubt that it would break if I tried to lever it out. So I thought about decoupage instead.

I started by painting the top half of the case with white acrylic paint, just the cheap type that comes in a big tube for kids to use, not proper artists’ paint. It took four coats to cover the blue colour, and the optician’s name, but I was pleased to find that the paint adhered well and didn’t flake off. (I did clean the case thoroughly first.)

Decoupaged glasses case 1

Once I had a white background, I stuck on some colourful umbrellas cut from the outer layer of a cocktail napkin. It’s quite easy to separate the layers of a paper napkin to leave just the top layer that bears the printed design. It’s such thin tissue that it can be persuaded to stick around a curved surface smoothly if you use a glue with a high water content and take a little time over it. I used dilute PVA to stick the umbrellas down, painting it onto the back of them before lifting each one into place and smoothing it down with a soft brush. I wasn’t as careful as I would have been had I been decoupaging a gift for someone and there are a few creases and tears, but they aren’t obvious.

When they were dry I painted on a layer of PVA over the whole top shell of the case, followed by two more coats, allowing plenty of drying time between them. The coloured tissue is thin enough for the end result to be fairly smooth without the need for lots and lots of protective layers.

Result! I now have a much prettier glasses case and I no longer get it confused with the other one. I might have to decoupage that too if I can find a napkin with a different design on it.

Glasses cases

The really good news this week is that my dear husband and I have both had our first Covid vaccinations, a good month to 6 weeks earlier than we were expecting. It feels like the beginning of the end even though nothing has actually changed in terms of what we can and can’t do. The weather has got a lot milder too. Suddenly everything seems brighter.

Posted in papercraft | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A leather notebook cover

Making leather-trimmed sleeves for my dear husband’s laptop and phone has renewed my interest in leatherwork. In the past I’ve saddle-stitched a few small leather items, after learning the skills from the multi-talented Andrew Clark at Fabrication in Leeds. There’s no doubt that hand sewing gives the best result, both in terms of appearance and strength, but since I discovered that my sewing machine can cope with thin leather I’ve machine-stitched most of the things I’ve made. It’s a lot quicker and it doesn’t seem worth the time and effort of saddle-stitching when – most of the time – I’m using offcuts of leather that I’ve bought cheaply rather than prime skins.

My latest make is a cover for a spiral-bound notebook. I acquired two of them in the £2 basket of goods from my first visit to Scraptastic almost a year ago – I’ll certainly be going back there when shops can reopen, I just hope it has survived. The notebook covers are plastic, they seemed to be crying out for a smart leather binding.

Leather notebook cover

I saw a picture of a notebook somewhere that was fastened with a pen through three loops, a neat solution. I usually use a pencil so I designed my cover with slimmer loops.

Leather notebook cover
Notebook cover closed

All in all, this was a very easy project. I made a paper pattern based on the dimensions of the notebook first, then cut the leather pieces – the outer, front and back flaps and a strip for the loops – generously. I was glad I did because I found I needed a surprisingly large amount of room around the notebook to allow its rather stiff plastic covers to slip into the front and back flaps.

I wrapped the strip around a pencil to judge how long each loop needed to be, then having cut the three loops I skived all six ends to reduce the thickness before sticking them together. Then I stuck the front and back flaps in place around their outside edges and also stuck the loops into the slots I’d made for them, before stitching to secure the glued edges.

This now looks like a very smart notebook, instead of something that came from a scrap store in a mixed basket of goodies. (Although it could do with a polish.)

Posted in leatherwork | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A leather and felt phone sleeve

Felt laptop sleeve with leather trim
Strip of felt with mobile phone

Last month I’d decided to make a glasses case from the felt left over after I’d made this laptop sleeve for my dear husband.

But when I gathered everything I needed to make a start on it, including my phone so I could listen to a podcast while I was cutting out, I realised that the felt strip was just wide enough to make a mobile phone case instead.

So that’s what it has become. And because it matches his laptop case and I am a generous person, I have given it to my dear husband.

Leather and felt mobile phone sleeve

If I made another one, I’d use a piece of elastic instead of the leather strap, it’s a bit tight getting the felt flap to tuck under it.

I wouldn’t mind a laptop sleeve for myself, so Swincraft2 may be getting another order for felt soon. It won’t be boring grey for me, I’ll have to see what scraps of suitable leather I have apart from the black and then choose a piece of felt to contrast with it.

Pink child's hat

But I really oughtn’t to buy any more fabric until I have reduced my existing stash to a sensible level. And the same goes for yarn. I had to buy a ball a couple of weeks ago to knit this child’s hat, because I didn’t have anything suitable. There are no specialist wool shops open – and even if there were, travelling to one could hardly be classed as “essential” so wouldn’t be allowed under our lockdown rules – which meant I had to take what I could find, this sugar-pink acrylic DK with a strand of glittery lurex running through it. I used it double to knit a nice warm hat and it has gone down well with the toddler in question. I should have known that pink and sparkly would find favour with a small girl.

The pattern is Steinway and it’s in four sizes from toddler to adult.

Posted in knitting, leatherwork, sewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Excellent customer service from Glorafilia

Like everyone else I know, I am heartily fed up with this pandemic. Having nowhere to go and not being allowed to meet anyone was bearable in the good weather last spring and summer, and I was kept busy with making and delivering PPE for several months. But now it’s deep winter, freezing cold, snowy and dark. All the over-80s locally seem to have had their first vaccinations already, one or two have even had both of them, and the over-70s are getting theirs. But it’s going to be Easter-ish before I’ll get mine, and we won’t be able to get back to our normal activities until the infection rates have dropped right down. I need to keep cheerful for a while yet.

One of the few good things about the lockdown we’re “enjoying” is that I’m not tempted to buy craft materials while browsing in shops. Only shops selling essential items are open, and I have to admit that fabric and yarn don’t fall into that category. Instead I’m trying to be creative with the materials I already have, and necessity definitely is the mother of invention. It would probably have taken me ages to get around to knitting up the cone of carpet yarn I bought last February if it weren’t for the fact that I am trying to avoid shops, even when they are open. And I’m still ridiculously pleased with the brackets I made that allow me to hang my tapestry frame from a garment rail so I can work on a heavy cross stitch rug.

On the subject of that rug, I’ve run into a problem. Once I’d finished the zone that my mother had started – and she’d already worked most of the motifs in that area, I just had to do acres of cream background – I realised that several of the motif colours stencilled on the canvas were nothing like the yarn colours, yet very similar to one other. So similar that two pairs out of the six colours are indistinguishable from each other. Worse, one of the remaining two colours appears to have disappeared from the canvas altogether.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a colour image of the finished rug to guide me. I searched online and couldn’t find a picture that is clear enough to be useful, although I did discover that the kit was called Rose Garden and it’s by Glorafilia, a well known brand that still exists. More in hope than expectation, I contacted the company. After a search through their back catalogue that took a couple of weeks, they emailed back a high resolution photo which shows every stitch clearly. Marvellous!

While waiting for a reply I continued in background cream until I reached the point where the canvas needed to be rolled further round the frame. When I unlaced it and took it off I was surprised to see that the colours at the rolled-up end of the canvas are completely different from the end I’ve been working on. Clearly they have faded, which is curious because I know my mother always covered the rug up with an old sheet when she wasn’t working on it. You can see it in this photo: faded end on the right, previously rolled-up end on the left.

The colours are a lot more distinct, and closer to the yarn shades, at the unfaded end so I’ve decided to turn it around to start work from there. The design is symmetrical which means that once I’ve done the unfaded half I should be able to see what colours I need to use for the other half. The only problem is, the disappearing colour (a blue) has completely vanished even from the unfaded end, I can only tell it was there from a slight shininess to the canvas and from observing what is necessary to make the design consistent. I will leave that motif colour till last and fill it in by reference to the photo so kindly supplied by Glorafilia.

An awful long way still to go

I now know that I’ve made some mistakes in the 9½” section I’ve completed, because I was totally unaware that there should be any blue in it. And I’m worried about the quantities of yarn left in the various colours, there doesn’t seem to be enough of some of them. I may have to swap colours around. Oh well, as I’ve heard carpet sellers say in North African and Middle Eastern souks (usually with a grin), “Only Allah is perfect!”

Finding the name of the design and a few online references to it has confirmed something else: the size of this rug. It is indeed about 33” x 48”, as I guessed. It’s going to take me well over a year to finish it. Talk about a labour of love …

Posted in tapestry/embroidery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A felt laptop case

Now that Christmas is well and truly over, I can reveal a present I made for my dear husband. It’s this case for a new, slim laptop he bought a couple of months ago.

I used 3mm thick polyester felt and black leather from half a hide I bought at the much-missed Texere, a Bradford mill shop that sold yarn and a few other things but closed several years ago. I bought the felt online and found the best choice was from Swincraft2, a name I recognised from yarn shows such as the Knitting and Stitching Show. They always have a stall there with bargain yarn in a range of qualities from the cheap and cheerful to higher-end wools and I rarely come back from the Harrogate event without a bulging Swincraft bag. The Harrogate show, like pretty much every other indoor event last year, was cancelled, but at least I’ve had my Swincraft fix now.

The case was really simple to make.

I started by wrapping the sheet of felt around the laptop and tacking it, as well as marking where the centre of the front of the case fell with a pin. Then I snipped the tacking stitches so I could open the felt out again and see where the stitching line needed to be. I cut around that line, leaving a seam allowance, then machined a leather tab onto centre front to take the strap.

After stitching down the side and across the bottom I rounded the corners of the flap before cutting a leather strap of the right length and width. I machined that onto the flap, trimmed the seam allowances to even them up and job done!

After making this laptop case there’s a slim strip of the felt left. It seems a pity not to use it, and a glasses case is an obvious use. It’s not big enough to go all the way round so I’ll use some more of the leather for the back of the case. I’ll just have to remember to put my glasses in with the lenses towards the felt so they don’t get scratched.

Two layers of the felt, or one of felt and one of leather, go through my sewing machine fine as long as I use a leather needle. I love the contrasting look of leather and felt together and it’s great not to have to think about fraying edges when using these materials.

Posted in leatherwork, sewing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A modest success

Rug on hanging frame

The brackets I designed to enable me to use a freestanding garment rail as a stand for my large tapestry frame have turned out better than I could have hoped. They were quick and easy to make from some scrap wood – timber from the wooden outdoor coverway we dismantled before building an aluminium and polycarbonate one last summer – a short length of aluminium angle-section and a few screws, nuts and bolts. I didn’t need to buy anything.

Detail of suspesion bracket

By luck rather than judgement, the brackets rest against the uprights of the garment rail and hold the frame at the perfect angle to work on it.

And I can raise it to whatever height I need to suit the chair I’m sitting in, or even to use when standing, because the height of the rail is adjustable.

There are a few refinements still to be done, like replacing the paper wrapped around the bar where the brackets clamp onto it. I didn’t have a drill bit of the same diameter as the bar so I had to make my clamp holes slightly oversized. At some point I’ll take the brackets off and stick a strip of thin leather, or maybe rubber from a balloon, around the edge of the holes so they grip onto the bar tightly when the coach bolts are done up. But for now it works and it’s made my evening cross stitch session much easier on my back. Woodworking and textiles – I do like it when two of my craft interests come together in this way.

The weather has been frosty with occasional snowfalls, but I managed to find a brighter spell to get some photos of my latest knitting project, the hairy green Aran. It’s roomy enough to go over another sweater, a degree of layering that’s definitely required at present.

Modelled green Aran
Posted in knitting, tapestry/embroidery, woodwork | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment