The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

How to Make Bunting February 2, 2011

Filed under: Tutorials,Uncategorized — thebotheredowl @ 9:10 pm
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Here is a step by step guide to how I made The Bothered Owl’s bunting.

We have a lot of fabric scraps, so I thought this was a great way of using them up. And of course, we get to show people all (well, some) of the amazing fabrics we have used over the last year and a half. I chose brightly coloured, fun fabrics.

You will need:



Rotary cutter and mat

Paper or cardboard for template

Bias binding for the entire length of the bunting

Fabric (ours was already interfaced, but that’s a personal choice)

I made a template for the flags with a piece of paper. Then using our fabulous rotary cutter and self-healing board, I laid out several piece of fabric on top of each other, placed the ruler over the top, and sliced! Having the rotary cutter made the job so much easier.

Next step is to iron a seam into them. I used the bias binding as a guide for folding the top seam. I then ironed this top seam so it was nice and crisp.

Fold the top seam to be the same width as the bias binding

Iron the seam

Time to get out the pinking shears! Now that your seam is done, you’ll notice that there’s overlap. Trimming the edges with pinking shears stops the edges from fraying.

Overlap is trimmed by the pinking shears

Rinse and repeat. You’ll now have a stack of flags.

Almost there!

Now comes the pinning. Get your bias binding tape, leave about 30 cm at one end, and pin on your first flag.

Decide on how you'll order your flags

When pinning the flags on, be conscious of which direction they will be going through the sewing machine. I pinned all of my flags on so they were pointing to the left, and the pin heads facing towards me (points away). This ensured that I could remove the pins as I sewed each flag.

Note the direction of the pins

Now to the sewing! Set your machine to a zig zag stitch. I set the width about 4 (out of 5).

Sew Sew Sew!

Coincidentally the zigzag stitch almost matches the pinking shears

Remember to remove the pins as you sew, as they are in line with the foot, and may get tangled/broken.

And there you have it. Keep zigzagging all the way along until you reach the end of your flags.

Bunting! There you have it.

We’ll be using ours on our stall at Unravel at the end of February. Check back in at the end of the month to see photos of the bunting in place. But for now, here is the bunting draped elegantly on my sewing machine…

Fluttering in the breeze

Happy sewing!

Alex 🙂


Last orders. December 22, 2010

I am officially done! No more orders now until after Christmas. (Unless you’re local and prepared to come and pick it up tomorrow! And even then, no more orders!)

I thought I’d quickly share a couple of the last ones I’ve done, partly because one of them is delightfully fun and partly to illustrate the amazing difference fabric choice can make, even more than the choice of shape/style in a bag.

Firstly, a bag that is more than meets the eye. (Oh yeah, I went there. I am no stranger to the bottom of that barrel and I’m happy to scrape it.)


The print is really big, it was quite hard to 'centre' it when cutting.

I went with a really long flap on this bag, instead of putting in a button or magnetic closure. I used loads of extra reinforcement to stiffen the fabric too, so that flap is staying shut unless you want it to open.


The bag has a main pocket and smaller external pocket.

Under the main flap you find the main pocket and a slightly smaller exterior pocket with its own button flap.

Sadly, I had no robot buttons so I had to go for something more understated. Red works, I think!

The strap is made from the same material as seatbelts. It’s polypropolene, very very shiny and smooth and most importantly blinking hardwearing. And adjustable. I like using bronze sliders and D-rings, they’re sturdy and they look really smart.

Final touch is the teeny weeny mobile phone/ wallet / key pocket on the inside:

How can you resist his grumpy wee robotic face, glaring at you from his soul-less robot eyes?

I have to say, it took me bloody ages to make this one but it was totally worth it and it was for a friend’s son and I hope she (and her son, obviously) will love it. (Before any one asks, I have no more Transformers fabric left. I can probably find some, if I look hard enough and you ask nicely enough. But not before Christmas. No, no, no.)

Next up, a couple of bucket bags. These were the last two things I finished today and I am showing them, mainly as an illustration of how different fabric totally transforms a design.

While I am really proud of all the bits and pieces I’ve designed over the last 18 months, I think it’s fair to say that without totally awesome fabric they’d be nothing. We’ve noticed when manning (owling?) the stand at the various shows we’ve done this year that it is always the fabric that hooks people. Most  of the time people don’t seem as bothered about the size of the bag – unless it’s for a specific project – as long as the fabric is just right. There’s something about fabric that just clicks for people. I’ve seen people spend the better part of an hour going through our stash crates looking for The One and it never fails to make me happy when they find what they’re looking for. The look on their faces when they find it is priceless.

Anyway: same bag, two ways:

Ignore the owly needle roll for a minute and look at the bags. They’re cut from the same template, they are to all intents and purposes the same bag. But see the difference the fabric makes? One is cute but more serious, slightly understated and very grown up. The other is quirky and cheerful and is just begging to go out and play.

The first bag is made from some adorable Japanese fabric (  I _think_ it’s a Kokka print but can’t remember off the top of my head and my selevedge/scrap box is in the other room. What? I’m pregnant and lazy, that’s way too far!)

Can anyone spot the Big Bad Wolf?

The second is a bucket bag and matching needle roll for a lovely newish knitter, desperate to keep her needles from the curious (and pull-y) fingers of her small child.  Some more details? Well, of course I’ll oblige!

Em requested some special pockets, one to hold scissors and various notions (That’s the one on the left) and one large enough to slip patterns or knitting magazines into. Pattern pockets are something I’ve been meaning to incorporate into the bucket and messenger bag designs for a while now, so I was glad to have a chance to try it out and see if it would work with the dimensions of the current design. It does!

I used the same owly fabric as the exterior, just on a brown base for the pockets. I love those owls, they’re just adorable!

The bag closes with a button flap and I managed to finally get a reasonable shot of the little teeny weeny owly button:

Surprisingly hard to photograph, for an inanimate object!

For some reason, even using the macro setting and no flash, these little guys have proved remarkably resistant to me taking photos of them in the past. You can kind of see the details here but it’s still far from perfect.

To match the bucket bag, Em asked for a needle roll for straight needles. I don’t actually own any straight needles any more, but I know how long they are and I DO own a tape measure. (Or four. ) Plus our standard needle roll design is deliberately sized to be adjustable for straights or circs. Easy peasy!

And that’s it!

I had a bunch more custom bits and bobs that have already gone out, but I don’t want to overload you with pictures of shiny things made for other people 😀

Anyway, I am done diddly un until after Christmas now and planning on hiding out on the sofa with the kids, NOT checking the computer or making anything even vaguely sewing related for the next week or two. I have socks to knit and presents to wrap and meals to plan and general merriment to indulge in.

Have a fabulous seasonally appropriate festival/non-festival of your choice, folks!



New Page October 21, 2010

You may notice, up in the right hand corner of your screen there is a new little button that says Fabric Stash.

I’ve been doing so many custom orders of late that we thought it might be a good idea to start actually cataloguing the fabric we have in stock, rather than constantly sending people off to the Fabric Rehab site to choose new stuff. Not that we don’t love Fabric Rehab, but it would be good to use up some of what we actually have in the vaults here at Owl HQ.

Not everything’s up there yet, by a long chalk. We have a seriously ridiculous amount of fabric stowed away. Some of it is already destined for the Chop, Alex ironed on some of the 25 or so metres of interfacing I cut the other day and this afternoon I’ll be slicing and dicing for more bags and bits and pieces for the fabulous Fibre Flurry next week! We’re so very excited about it 🙂

But a small chunk of it is now photographed, and labelled (slightly haphazardly. I’ve tried to list the proper names and designers/manufacturers of each piece but not all of what we have actually has selvedges. So I’ve kind of made up some of the names to match the fabric. Sorry!)

Have a look, if something catches your eye, get in touch! We’re more than happy to do requests. (Sewing requests, obviously. Keep it clean, folks.)

Right, I must dash. I have a ghost to collect from Preschool, posthaste.



Delightful bundle of exquisite loveliness October 5, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 9:16 am

Ohh, I am a happy obsessive sewer/fabric hoarder!

I just got my parcel from Fancy Moon, “Purveyors of Fine Fabrics”. That they certainly are. Oh yes.

Want to see what I got?

Well, tough, I’m showing you anyway!

Mini-Calaveras on turquoise

And in black

Anyone sensing a theme here?

Naughty little tattoo lady

Same again on black

I like being able to offer a choice of base fabric colours in my work. So often, you see something in a shop and think “Oh, that’s really cool, if it was just X colour rather than Y, it’d be perfect.” This way, you get a choice!

And just to offer a contrast with the delightful skulls and tatts, here is some gorgeous seedpod fabric from the same order:

Seedheads and pods on turquoise

I sold a bag or two  in this fabric and a needle roll and people kept asking if I had any more.

It’s one of my favourite fabrics from this year’s purchases – which may surprise some people, especially given my penchant for the more gothic and eccentric stuff. But this and the Carolyn Gavin fabrics featuring nature inspired shapes and colours have been far and away my favourites this year. There’s something very beautiful in the shapes and colours, the way they suggest texture and movement. A little breath of fresh air.

Most of these are intended to be used in preparation for another big show we have coming up – more on that anon. But as always, if you see something you like, get in touch, ask us what we can do for you. Before I have a chance to start snipping and chopping!



Choices, choices, choices September 29, 2010

Filed under: Custom Orders,Fibre Flurry,markets — thebotheredowl @ 9:39 pm
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As Alex said in our last post, teh Bothered Owl will be at Fibre Flurry in all our feathery glory. Well, in Alex and Scott’s feathery glory anyway. I am rather sad that I can’t make it but travelling to out of town shows with two small owlettes and a bump in tow is not really something I’m planning on attempting this year.

But I am still ENORMOUSLY excited about it for two reasons.

1. It’s our first show outside of London.

2. It’s a brand new event and we get to be exhibitors at the very first one EVER. Awesome sauce.

So I thought I’d show you a little bit of what we’ll have on offer for those of you attending, in terms of the kinds of fabrics were using for the bags this time around. Each show is slightly different and we try to have a wide range of fabric available for ogling.

Here’s some of what I have cut up at the moment and some of what’s waiting in the cupboard of doom.

As always, this is just a taster. I have a veritable cornucopia of fabric hiding away in my cabinet and I almost certainly have something in there that would suit you. Yes, you, over there.

We’ve been re-jigging our yarn pouches since IKnit and Knit Nation, always l0oking to improve and make them that wee bit more useful. So we now have three sizes for your delectation: Sock,  Large and Giant.  Not the most imaginative of names – something we’ll rectify at some point- but it does what it says on the etcetera.

Have some examples, with vital statistics!

Sock Yarn Pouch: 7" wide by 9" high by 3" deep

Large Yarn Pouch: 7.5 - 8" wide, 11" high, 3" deep

Giant Yarn Pouch: 9" wide by 14" high by 3.5" deep

Incidentally, in the interests of honesty and giving praise where it is due, the above Giant yarn pouch is not my work, but Alex’s. I am really proud of her, she came over the other day and she got stuck in. I only had to help her out twice and she did everything else by herself, from memory. I reckon by the time she heads back to Aus, we’ll have her whipping up fancy creations in the blink of an eye.

We’ve got about 4 weeks left to finish up our preparations, so now’s the time to let me know if there is something particular you want us to have on the stall. I am very happy to do custom orders (just have a flick through some of our recent posts and you will see I can’t shut up about them!) and pre-orders are very welcome.

We’ll also have our usual array of needle storage options, from envelopes/needle snugs through to needle rolls and I can usually tweak my designs to accommodate your needs. (Any kinky comments will be ignored.) E.g. if you don’t use DPNs, I’ll leave out the DPN pocket. If you want a needle roll specifically for straight needles etc, that can be done.

Right. Enough blathering from me. I am off to relax for an hour or so before bed, I might even get a few rows of knitting on my new winter hat done, who knows! Tomorrow, I sew like a mad thing. I promise, Alex, I will…



Something New for Something Old September 25, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 4:02 pm
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When we moved into our house we were lucky enough to be given a lot of the old furniture belonging to the two brothers who had lived here together. Both of them had passed away and their relatives live some considerable distance from London. It was more convenient all round for them to just pass on whatever was left rather than paying for someone to come and clear the house.

There were some beautiful pieces here, a teak dresser and matching shelf which we passed onto Jake’s parents as it matched something they had at their house, a gorgeous glass topped coffee table (Sadly no more, as I managed to fall through the table top and smash it to smithereens. I was dancing around like a twit) and managed to trip over the kids’ toys and land, bum first on the table. Bye bye glass.) An incredible silver chandelier, which I believe came from Russia and may have been a gift to the railway executive who was the first owner of the house. Two sets of glass fronted library style  sectional book shelves, our personal favourite of everything that was left behind. Loads of little nested tables which we’ve passed on to Alex and Scott and a whole heap of amazing chairs.

Most of the chairs have long since made their way out of the house but two of them remain, returned to us after a sojourn in Alex’s lounge room.

They are beautiful things.

Slightly threadbare but fundamentally sound

I’ve no idea what period they are, my guess is 1950s or 1960s. Alex’s friend, Alison, couldn’t be terribly precise on them because they’ve been re-varnished at some point, but she thought they were great.

Fully reclining!

Alex suggested ages ago the idea of fixing them up as reading chairs for the owlettes but as with many things in our house, they’ve languished in the garage for a couple of months whilst we’ve been distracted by other things.

Ignore the fabric & see what's underneath.

You can see in the above pictures that they have the most beautiful, simple wooden frames underneath the tattered and frankly hideous fabric coverings.

Jake’s in the process of clearing out the garage so they re-emerged this afternoon, to the massive delight of the girls who sat in our front garden, fully reclined on their chairs, side by side like two little old ladies, calling out to passersby with great glee.

Sadly,  I didn’t get photos of that bit.

I’ve moved them upstairs to the spare room (in the process of becoming a sort of play room for the girls) and they spent a happy hour or so up there, stretched out, calling for blankets, pillows, picture books etcetera, delighting in their new furniture.

So it looks like I have a new project. I’ve never done anything like this before but looking at the construction of the cushions and covers currently in place they should be fairly simple to replicate. I should really sand them back and re-varnish but trying to do that with two small inquisitive girls around is going to be near impossible, so for now I will probably just settle for dusting them and using some furniture polish. I’ll have to buy some new foam for the seats as the old foam looks like it’s crumbling into the dust of ages in there. Large chunks fall out every time the chairs are moved which is not ideal.

I’m off to Ikea tomorrow to meet Amy for tea and fabric purchasing (Mmm, Godzilla fabric, you shall be MINE!) and Orlaith has given me instructions as to what she would like for her chair. If any one has any tips they’d like to offer for how you go about re-covering to age-ing but otherwise sound recliners, they’d be very welcome!


Fabric Adventures in the Southern Continent August 26, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 1:31 pm
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One Half of The Bothered Owl has been Down Under since the beginning of August. That would be the Alex half. 😉

While here in Brisbane, I have checked out fabric shops to see what is available. Who knew that Brisbane has so many quilting shops? And today I visited 3, plus the mainstream fabric/haberdashery/stuff shop Spotlight. And here is the haul:

Funky Fabrix at Mitchelton, north Brisbane.

Funky Fabrix, Mitchelton

And my purchases:

Goat Postmen & Sock Monkeys at the Beach

Then it was on to Spotlight.


And then to Patches in Indooroopilly. Amazing range of fabric including lots of novelty fabrics.

Sewing cats, penguins, and more cats

And the final stop for the day was The Quilters Store in Salisbury. An amazing barn with hundreds and hundreds of different fabrics.

Quirky cats, mermaids, and bathing/gardening/bizarre chickens

Road Rage Robots and Comical Cats

So there you have it. Brisbane has a lovely selection of quilting shops to choose from. I had a great day finding them all and handing over my cash to them!

These fabrics will be turned into items for our upcoming fibre events (The I Knit Weekender, Fibre Flurry) and other crafty markets. If you happen to fall in love with any of these fabrics, and would like us to make you something, let us know! 🙂