Swiftie X-stitch: Shake It Off!


I listen to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album every week. I put it on when I’m cooking, driving and relaxing in the garden. When Shake It Off was released last year I played it on repeat for about two weeks.

I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend who probably loves Taylor more than I do. We’re total Swifties.

I have started sewing again recently. I wanted to do a quick cross stitch to get my fingers back into shape. This little Shake It Off cross stitch took about 60 minutes. The pattern is below.

If you make one please share your creation on Instagram with the hashtags #kateomegamade and #swiftieXstitch. I would love to see them!

Shake it Off!

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 Get your cross stitch fingers ready!

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An upcycled gift: a baby succulent and bunting


Last weekend my friend Laura had a birthday party. She is the only person I know who would choose to cook for 20 people on a day when people should be cooking for her! She is Belgian, a lovely person and a fantastic cook. For her birthday dinner she cooked a Belgian beer stew, roast potatoes and green beans. An enormous bowl of homemade mayonnaise was pass around and slathered on everything.

I wanted to make her something homemade for her birthday. I decided on a baby succulent upcycled into something special. I grabbed my supplies: a small succulent, an empty baking powder tin, a few scraps of fabric, two skewers and some thread.

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I love baking powder tins. I like buying products that have reusable packaging. These tins are so versatile and quaint. The first thing I did was punch a few  holes in the bottom of the tin so that excess water would be able to drain away from the soil. I resorted to using a thin metal screw driver and brute force. Three or four holes in the bottom should be plenty.

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Next I carefully transplanted the little succulent from his plastic pot to the tin. This was a bit fiddly and I had to redo it a few times to make sure he was snug. I used an old teaspoon to manoeuvre the soil around. Once he was in place I also watered him (just slightly) to settle the soil.

The next step was to add some bunting. Because what is a birthday present without bunting? I used two skewers as poles and placed them gently in the soil – trying to avoid the succulent’s roots. I then snipped them to the height I wanted using strong kitchen scissors.

I used this tutorial to make my bunting. But before I glued the bunting to the thread I sewed Laura’s name in split stitch.

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Once I had finished all the letters I glued the bunting to the thread and tied it to the skewers and I had a perfect little present for a lovely friend.

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An aside: I have been reading Erin’s recent posts on gift giving at Christmas (over at Reading my Tea Leaves). I really like her approach to minimalist gift giving and quality over quantity. I also think that a homemade gift can be very  special.

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Frankenstein upholstery: how not to recover a stool


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I found this little stool at Resurrection, a charity  shop on Melville’s 7th Street. I didn’t like the fabric but the I loved the shape of the stool’s legs and its proportions. I flipped it over and saw that the seat could be removed. The shop was having a 50% sale so I happily handed over R82.50 and took it home.

It took a while to decide what I would do with it. I settled on recovering the seat with spotty blue and white fabric that I had left over from a skirt I made. My next task was to hunt down a staple gun. Luckily a friend had one that I could borrow.

So this weekend I gathered my supplies and sat down to make over the stool. I flipped it over and tried to unscrew the seat. The screws wouldn’t budge. Even enlisting the help of my stronger armed boyfriend didn’t help. We had a closer look and realised that the stool’s previous owner had used a fair bit of glue when they inserted the screws.

To recover the stool properly I would need to take the stool apart (forcefully) and then put it back together with a drill. But there were two things standing in the way of this responsible plan: I don’t own a drill and I wanted to recover the stool now.

I decided on a compromise. One day this little stool will get the love and attention it deserves. I will forcefully and lovingly take it apart and recover it properly. But for now (whether now is two months or two years) I will have it in my lounge and it will look lovely.

I started recovering the seat and taking pictures for the blog to show you how I did it. I even took a picture of the staple gun to show you that you would need a staple gun! By the fourth picture I realised that there was no way I could post these pictures and tell you with any authority that this was the way to recover a stool. So this isn’t a tutorial for how to recover a stool, it’s rather an example of making something work until you have the money or the tools to do it properly. And to be honest there was no skill involved. I pretty much wrapped the seat of the stool with my fabric, slide the fabric under the frame and staple gunned the hell out of it. It’s not pretty down there.

But you know what? When you look at it (not too closely) you can’t tell. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. That’ll do little stool, that’ll do.

IMG_4319-001If you enjoyed this post follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for email notifications (at the top of the page). Pop by on Friday morning for my Weekend Reading post.

No-sew pot plant bunting


image2You will need:

  • A pot plant (a bonsai tree will work best for this)
  • Fabric
  • Thread or string
  • Glue
  • Scissors

1. Measure how much string or thread you will need for your bunting to reach between two branches of your pot plant. Allow extra for tying two knots.

2. Start cutting diamonds out of your fabric. I folded my fabric in half and eyeballed five triangles (I only ended up using four). As you cut out your triangles place them along your piece of sting. Fiddle with the spacing until you’re happy. Iron your diamonds closed so that they lie flat.

3. Open the diamonds and place glue on the inside. Take your thread and place it along the crease. Close the diamond (now a triangle) and using your nail push the thread up into the crease. You want it to be very snug. Attach the rest of your diamonds in the same way.

4. Take your bunting to your pot plant. Play around with the placing and attach it to the branches. Don’t tie your knots too tightly or you will damage your plant. You will need to keep an eye on the knots and loosen them if they start restricting the pot plant.

If you have a pot plant that doesn’t have strong branches you can attached the bunting to two skewers and push them into the soil (like I did with my sister’s birthday cake bunting). It would be a great way to spruce up a pot plant if you were giving it to someone as a present.

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DIY: Sew your own pillow covers


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This brown pillow has been on our couch since our student days. But now we’re ready to say goodbye to the old deer. He’s a bit tired and some of his stitching is starting to unravel. I wanted to replace him with something bolder and brighter.

I had picked up some blue shweshwe and yellow piping for another project that I haven’t got around to yet. So I decided to use it to make a new pillow cover. This is a quick project which took about an hour from start to finish.

You will need:

  • Fabric
  • Piping
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors

Step 1: Wash, air dry and iron your fabric.

Step 2: Take the old pillow case off your pillow and measure each side of the square. My pillow case had lost its shape a bit and each side was a slightly different length. I used the largest side (43cm) to make my square and added on 1.5cm for a seam allowance. Grab some newspaper or a magazine and make a pattern based on your measurements. This will help you cut your square straight. Pin the pattern to your fabric and cut out one square. IMG_4018Step 3: Fold a 1/4 of the template down so that you are left with a rectangle that is 3/4 the length of your pattern. Fold the fabric in half, pin the 3/4 rectangle to the fabric and cut. This will give you the two rectangles which will make up the back of your pillow cover.

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Step 4: Take the two rectangles to your ironing board. Fold one of the long sides of your rectangle over by 1cm and iron flat. Fold it over again and iron in place. Repeat with the other rectangle. Using your sewing machine, sew the hems in place on both rectangles. (Don’t worry about the safety of your other fabric. Your cat will guard it for you.)

Step 5: Place your large square right side up on the table. Take your piping and pin it along the edge of the square. The stitching on the piping should be 1.5 cm away from the fabric’s edge. When you get to a corner, take your scissors and make small cuts on the edge of your piping. This will help it lie flat.

Step 6: Head over to your sewing machine. Place the foot of your sewing machine on top of the piping. Position the needle directly over the piping’s existing stitching. Slowly sew on top of the piping’s stitching, removing the pins as you get to them. When you are done you will have a square with piping attached to the outside.

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Step 7: Place your square (piping side up) back on the table. Take your first rectangle and place it right side down on top of the square. Match its raw edge with the top raw edge of the square – the hem should reach 3/4 of the way down the square. Take the second rectangle and place it right side down on the square, with its raw edged lined up with the square’s bottom raw edge. It will over lap the other rectangle and will reach 3/4 of the way up the square. Pin the three pieces together.

Step 8:  Head back to your sewing machine. Turn the pillow cover over so that the square is facing upwards. You will be able to see the stitching where you attached the piping earlier. Sew directly over that stitching, removing the pins as you go. Turn the pillow inside out and press with an iron. Place the cover back on the pillow and you’re done!

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