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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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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Midlands Thrifting Haul


There are three reasons I love shopping in second-hand stores:

  1. You find bargains. If you haven’t already noticed: I love a good bargain. Knowing that I am saving money on something gives me a little high.
  2. You meet interesting people. If you go to the same second-hand shops regularly you will get to know the people who work there. Those are the people who are going to keep an eye out for that antique drinks tray you’re searching for. They are also the people who are going to give you an additional discount on an already cheap, cheap price.
  3. You buy a little bit of history. The clothes, furniture and jewelry you buy have a history. Somebody loved it and now I get to love it.

I went second-hand shopping with my dad a couple of weeks ago. We were up in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands for the day and decided to pop into two SPCA shops. The first shop we went to was a bit sparse. There were lots of knickknacks and a toddler beside himself about an “Incwredibles” poster. My dad headed to the cooking book aisle. “Even if I only ever try one recipe from a book it’s a deal,” he told me.

I spotted a box of old patterns. My mum has lent me her sewing machine and I want to make a midi-skirt. I have been looking for one for ages but have battled to find one I like. They are either too expensive or I don’t like the fabric. I am hoping to be able to make my own, which will be cheaper than buying one (I told you I like a bargain!). I bought two skirt patterns and a pants pattern. I liked these joggers from Woolworths and I think the pattern will create something similar. The three patterns cost me R6.

At the second shop we had better luck. My dad once again disappeared to look at books. They had a shelf of books which they were selling for R1. He bought The Day of the Jackal. He rates it as one of his favourite books, along with Deliverance and Catch 22.

I started going through the clothing racks. This is a very divisive issue in the thrifting world: either you buy second-hand clothes or you don’t. I’m happy to buy them if they are pretty, they fit and are (relatively) clean . In the last rack I found an olive green bush shirt. It’s nothing spectacular but it is unusual to find a bush shirt in a ladies cut. My boyfriend and I are planning to go on a few camping trips and bush adventures in the coming months. Now we can wear matching bush shirts. The shirt cost R20.

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Just as I was about to pay for my shirt I spotted my last purchase. A rather worn box of A Question of Scruples was just sitting there waiting for me. This is an infamous game in my family. My mum banned my older siblings from playing it because it caused so many fights. The game requires players to predict how their opponents will respond to certain moral dilemmas. It’s a fun way to ruin friendships. It cost R15.

Have you been thrifting recently? Are you happy to buy second-hand clothes? Let me know in the comments.