5-Minute-Pouch Tutorial + Amaretti Recipe

It's that time of year again - end of the school year here in Australia and Christmas is just around the corner. Which means... time to make some teacher gifts!

Last year I made some amaretti cookies for the kids' teachers and they were so popular I decided to do the same again this year. For those of you who haven't come across them before - Amaretti are Italian almond cookies, similar to French macaroons in flavour. Intensely almondy, crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Gluten and dairy free too!

If you can't find almond meal or almond flour at your supermarket just get a bag of natural almonds (skins on, unroasted) and grind them up in the food processor. Don't skip the almond extract in this recipe - it is the most crucial ingredient that gives the cookies that intense almond taste. Also a tip - I always make a double batch when I bake these (just double the ingredients) as they are so moreish, and one batch lasts about 10 minutes in our house. Ha!

I put the cookies into small cardboard party treat bags (you can also use mini noodle boxes) and then popped them into these super quick pouches I whipped up. The fabrics are all from my Sweet Prairie collection for Riley Blake Designs. I also added some necklaces and brooches I made using these cute stitchery frames my pattern distributors Creative Abundance sell - contact them for retail stockists.

These pouches are so sweet and really take just 5 minutes to make. I first measured the party treat bags I was using (which are 4" x 6" and about 2" deep) which determined the size of the pouch - mine measure ~6" at the bottom and ~11" tall finished. You can adjust the size of your bag very easily by just cutting bigger or smaller fabric in the first step of the tutorial below. It's completely flexible - you can even make large Santa sacks!

1. Cut two pieces of fabric, measuring 6" x 12" (adjust this size depending on your requirements).

2. Fold one short edge of one of the pieces of fabric in by 1/2", wrong sides together. Press. Fold in again by another 1/2" and press. I didn't get overly precise here, I just eyeballed roughly 1/2" width of fabric before folding and pressing. You can use a ruler and mark lines for your folds if you wish. Top stitch along the folded edge, about 2mm away from the edge. Repeat for the other piece of fabric.

3. Place the two pieces of hemmed fabric right sides together, making sure the top (hemmed) edges are up against each other. Pin together in several places near the edges. Starting along the top right edge sew a 1/4" seam all the way around three sides of the pouch until you get to the top of the pouch again. Secure your beginning and end stitches well. Mark a 1" square on the two bottom corners and cut these out with scissors. (Tip: Don't worry about the fact that the seam may unravel when you cut the stitches - we will secure that seam in the next step).

4. This is the trickiest step so I included a few photos to show what you need to do here. We will now make a 'box bottom' for our pouch so it sits better on a flat surface. Where you cut one of the 1" holes, put your finger into the hole and open it up, then pinch the fabric in the other direction until the two seams meet. Using your fingers fold the seams in opposite directions (one to the left and one to the right), making sure they snugly nest in the middle. Pin across both seams. Sew a straight 1/4" seam accross as shown. Repeat for the other hole.

5. Turn the pouch inside out, push the corners out with a pointy blunt object (like a chopstick), and press if the fabric got too wrinkly (I didn't bother). Pop your goodies in, tie it up with some string and add festive decorations as desired!

Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial and will be making these handy pouches for some festive treats!

Quilted Tree Skirt

I've just had a whirlwind weekend in Melbourne attending the Australian Quilt Market, where I promoted my quilt patterns and my book Quilt Petite at my distributor Creative Abundance's stand. It was so much fun catching up with old friends, finally meeting people I've known online for literally YEARS but never met in person, and meeting lots of new people! After a stressful journey back home (my original flight was cancelled so there was a scramble to get the last few remaining seats on another airline's flight that evening) I'm finally recovered and can start planning for Christmas! My favourite time of year!

My first Christmas project this year is a quilted tree skirt, which I finished just before I flew to Melbourne. For years I meant to make a tree skirt but never got around to it, so in all our old Christmas photos our trees have bare metal feet - which really doesn't look very good. So much better to have a pretty festive skirt, don't you think?

The pattern is a Craftsy online class by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield (Sew Can She) - it's a step-by-step video tutorial, plus a PDF pattern to download if you want to attempt it yourself without the videos. The fabrics I used are from my latest collection Sweet Prairie by Riley Blake Designs (plus the red text print from my previous collection Sweet Orchard, as I needed an extra red).

The skirt is supposed to have tassels at each point - I skipped these as I have two playful cats and I knew the tassels would have been to hard for them to resist! But here's what the skirt should look like with them (image courtesy of Craftsy).  Here's the link to the class on Craftsy. It looks harder than it is - trust me it's a very forgiving pattern!

I also want to make another festive cross-stitch this holiday season, as I find it the most relaxing thing in the world. Remember this one I made last Christmas from Helene Le Berre's new book La Magie de Noel?

There are so many adorable projects to choose from in this book, but I think this is the one I'm going to stitch next (image from the book). Isn't it just adorable? Thinking I may turn this one into a festive cushion... We'll see!

Thank you for visiting and I hope you found some festive holiday inspiration today!

Book Review: Crafty Little Things To Sew

There's a new book that's just come out that I wanted to share with you today. It's called 'Crafty Little Things To Sew' and as the name says, it's full of quick and clever projects using scraps and small cuts of fabric. The author is Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield from Sew Can She with project contributions also by Jenelle Clark, Jennifer Heynen, Becky Jorgensen and An Kuppens.

I wanted to sew something from the book straightaway as it has so many darling projects to choose from. Alice is really into hair accessories at the minute so I decided to make her the 'Color Block Headband' and the 'Felt & Fabric Hair Baubles'. They came out so so cute!

For the headband I used some scraps of 'Little Dolly' fabrics by Elea Lutz, and the baubles are made from the mint mini floral from my Sweet Prairie collection.

I learned a couple of cool techniques whilst making these projects (like how to join different pieces of fabric at any angle so they form a band - the book shows a supercool trick that I didn't know about!). I think it's really important that sewing books are not only inspirational but also teach us new techniques and expand our sewing repertoire. This book definitely got the tick in that regard from me. And a big tick on the inspirational front also - here are a few other projects that I would love to make.

Courtesy of Caroline I have an extra copy of this book to share with one of you! If you would like to win it, head over to my Instagram account now and follow the instructions to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

Handmade with Love: The Ultimate Giveaway!

I have been sitting on some super exciting news. What would you say if I told you 52 brilliant modern handcraft designers were joining forces and practically giving away over 200 of their best projects, patterns, and tutorials? You’d probably say I’m crazy. But I’m telling you, that’s exactly what’s going to happen with the Handmade with Love Super Bundle, which will be available on November 27. Over $1000 worth of patterns and projects for only $29.97 - an overall discount of 97%! This digital bundle will include my Bearhug & Honeybun Baby Storybook pattern. I will share more info on the rest of the bundle soon, so stay tuned!

To celebrate the launch of this super bundle, there is an incredible giveaway happening! How would you like to win a Cricut Maker Machine ($400), a Brother Embroidery and Sewing Machine ($390) or any of 18 other prizes altogether worth $4000? I thought you’d be excited about that!

Here’s what’s happening: the good folks at Ultimate Bundles are running a giveaway…and not just any giveaway! Including the prizes I already mentioned, there are 20 prizes (worth almost $4,000 altogether!), so you’ll definitely find something crafty that you’ve had your eye on. I mean, with categories like Knitting & Crochet; Embroidery & Cross-Stitch; Sewing, Quilting, & Applique, and Mixed Media Fiber Arts (like Weaving), there’s something for every maker.

Head over to the GIVEAWAY PAGE now to enter. All you need to do is pick a category, enter your name and email address. That’s it! Entries close November 26 so don't delay. Open to everyone worldwide! Good luck!

Sushi Roll Mini Quilt

When Caroline from Sew Can She asked me to design another mini quilt for her popular monthly mini quilt series, how could I say no? I enjoyed the first mini I designed for this series so much!

The inspiration for my new mini quilt came from a sushi roll I saw on Pinterest - google 'mosaic sushi roll' and you'll see what I'm talking about. I thought it would be interesting to replicate the design in fabric. I used my Sweet Prairie fabric collection for Riley Blake to make it and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. You can download the free pattern from the Sew Can She blog.

I've had very little time for sewing as of late - we are still catching up with the spring mowing and slashing of our acreage, mulching the borders and trees, tending to the orchard (which has started to yield fruit), and in our spare time (!) building our new DIY chicken coop. 'Cluckingham Palace' as my hubby calls it - it's going to be a Hamptons style mansion when it's finished. The cladding and nesting boxes are finished, the roof will go up next. Then we are on the home stretch - shutters, doors, a lick of grey paint. Hopefully ready just in time for summer!

My sewing time being so limited, I've been making small things of late. I helped my friend Nadra from Ellis & Higgs test her new Christmas mini quilt pattern, Holly Jolly, by making one of the blocks. It's supposed to be a gift box though I think mine looks more like a funky shirt with a bow tie - maybe using a low volume for the box wasn't the best idea! I still think it's cute though.

Yesterday I made a sweet macaron cross-stitch and turned it into a pincushion. The cross-stitch pattern is from the book ‘Friandises & Patisseries’ by Helene Le Berre. It's quite hard to find (you may need to order it from Amazon France) but it’s a real gem of a book packed with beautiful cake and French patisserie patterns. One of the most cherished books in my library!

Thanks for visiting today. Until next time - happy sewing!

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