tea towels as a nice memento

What a great school holidays … we visited the farm and the beach, had fires to keep warm and went swimming to cool off. The kids played with their cousins and got heaps of time just to play with each other. Lovely, lovely.

As a memento of our holiday I bought two tea towels. They aren’t new, and they aren’t actually related to our holiday at all … One is from Donnybrook Western Australia. It has nice flowers. The other is a more general Australia tea towel … from 1976. I bought them both at the Anglesea op shop for 50 cents each.


I am always on the look out for calendar tea towels for relevant years  … And 1976 is the year Merryn was born. So that one is for her. I’ll have to find exactly the right thing to use it for. A stool or a cushion or a chair … I did find a calendar one for Elise once and made it into a handbag. But I think I have moved on from handbags now.

I will get my thinking cap on.

a ‘me’ cover for my ipad mini

I have a cover for my ipad mini that has a keyboard built in, but it is driving me crazy when I go out.  I want to take my ipad with me because I want to use it to take photos when interesting things present themselves, but then the cover I have has to open up, and it swings around, and it all gets a bit awkward (especially when I am balancing a shopping basket of second hand treasures at the same time).

So, I decided to make one.

The night before last I had a look on Pinterest.  There were so many options.  Here’s some I considered.  I wouldn’t mind a knitted one, but I think a nice non-stretchy one would be better.  So, the loop and button ones caught my eye.

Yesterday I got cracking.  I dug into my box of second hand Australiana tea towels, table cloths and napkins, and found a great little napkiny thing that was just the right size.

And I had some leftover bone-coloured linen from something I made at Christmas – purchased at Rathdowne Remnants (I do like that shop) in Brunswick.  And some leather that I cut into a strip.  And a button that I bought ages ago at The Friendship Tree.

And I used my new sewing machine properly for the first time!

So, here’s the instructions if you too want to whip up a cover for your ipad mini.

How to make a cover for your ipad mini …

I cut out 4 pieces of material – 2 for lining and then a back and a front, all the same size (17 cm wide and 24cm long).  I then cut out a front pocket piece that was the same 17 cm width but a bit shorter, about 16 cm long (note that I cut it on an edge that was already hemmed at the top so I didn’t have to hem it there).


here’s the little napkin/placemat I used


these are the 5 pieces of material I cut out

I put the nice side of the lining face to face and I sewed it on 3 sides, about 10mm in, leaving it open across the top end.

Next I sewed the front pocket onto the front piece of material, about 5mm in from the edge.  I also sewed a line down the middle to make 2 pockets (one wide enough to store my phone in … how VERY organised I will be).

Then I placed the nice sides of the front and back pieces face to face and sewed around the 3 sides again 10 mm in, and leaving the top open.

Next I ironed the raw edges at the top 10mm in.  So for the cover I turned it back out the right way, so I could see what it would look like, and I ironed the top edge inside. For the lining, I left it inside out as I’d sewn it, and folded and ironed the top edge out.  If I haven’t explained this properly then hopefully the photo will help.


What it means is that when you put the lining inside the cover material, and sew all the way around at about 5mm in, you can’t see any seams any more.  It’s like magic!!!  And as I was sewing I added in my length of leather sewing both ends in, so that it made a loop for my button.

IMAG2285 IMAG2286

Then I put in my ipad mini (hooray it fit) and I checked where the button should go and sewed it on with some glorious silk thread inherited from my grandpa.

I now feel that my ipad is not just a bit of technology but a bit technology encased in some personality!


the tablecloth chair

I found this chair on the side of the road, slightly worse for wear, as you can see.  Before I began restoring it I took photos from all angles so I could remember how it looked.  I then stripped all the material off and took all the extra nails and tacks out.  I sanded and shellacked the timber.

This is such a super simple way of restoring timber.   Anyone who is willing to walk around with slightly yellow fingers for a day or two (from the shellac) can do this.  Just buy the flakes and some metho and mix them up so that the shellac dissolves (use a jar with a lid as the metho evaporates quickly), or alternatively, buy shellac made up from your local hardware store.  Then rub it on!  The theory is that the shellac fills up holes in the timber and it all gets smooth and shiny and lovely.  The more layers you do the shinier the timber gets (this is french polishing).

And you can add a drop of oil to your rag (I just use cooking oil) as you rub to make it shinier …

Anyway, then I got out my trusty staple gun and put new webbing onto the seat (you buy it in a roll at the hardware store – it looks like a long and wide hessian ribbon), placed padding on top of the webbing (I had some saved from other projects) and upholstered over the top.

I cut up an old ‘Australiana’ linen tablecloth I had purchased in my travels and attached it with upholstery pins (making sure all the raw edges were tucked under and the fabric  was pulled quite tight).

When reupholstering, the most useful advice I have is to make a pattern from the old upholstery – so try hard to get the old material off in one piece if you can.  It saves heaps of time and mucking around when you get to the re-covering stage! I love this chair, but it now resides in someone else’s house (it was auctioned off at the Fairfield Primary School art show, Arr4All).