Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Personalised Swimming Bags - a tutorial

Last week I made these swimming bags for my 2 daughters - and here is the promised tutorial - how to make them !
I chose to add the mesh in the bottom to allow the wet swimming gear to dry a little - and avoid smells!  

Materials needed:
Waterproof fabric - I used Ripstop Nylon for one, and an old shower curtain for the other!
2 pieces for main bag 48 x 42cm (19 x 16.5")
1 piece for drawstring strap 90 x 10cm (35.5 x 4")

1piece different colour waterproof fabric for name, and fusible webbing: 
30 x 10cm (12 x 4")

Mesh Fabric netting for base of bag.
 (I used an old mesh laundry bag)
42 x 20cm (16.5 x 8") 
NB I forgot to include my drawstring strap piece of fabric in this photo!

First you need to cut the name letters out of the second coloured piece of waterproof fabric.
Now I would highly recommend using fusible webbing to attach these letters to the main bag. Iron one side of the webbing to the back of the fabric - then you can write the letters on the paper backing and cut them out.

I was lazy and just drew the letters direct onto the fabric, cut them out and pinned in place.

Unfortunately this means the letters slip around a lot when trying to stitch them into place!

If you use the fusible webbing - you peel off the paper backing and iron them onto the main bag using a damp cloth over the letters.  This holds them in place and makes it much easer to stitch around the edges in either a tight zig zag stitch or the applique setting on your machine!

Now you're ready to put your bag together!

Pin the long side of the mesh/net fabric to the front main bag base - right sides together and stitch:

Repeat this with the other long side of the mesh/net fabric and the other main part of the bag:

If you have an overlocker (serger), it's a good idea to finish off the seam edges to prevent fraying.  If you don't have an overlocker (serger) you can use a zig zag stitch and trim the raw edge outside that.

You should now have a large rectangle with the mesh part in the centre.
It is a good idea to finish all four edges of this rectangle to prevent fraying.  Again if you have an overlocker (serger) use this around all edges. Otherwise you could turn the edges under twice and stitch with a regular machine to hide the raw edges.

Now you need to form the casing at the top of the bag for the drawstring.
Fold down both top edges - wrong sides together about 5cm (2").Pin and stitch along the edges.

Now fold the rectangle in half - right sides together to form your bag (inside out) Pin down the sides.

When you stitch the sides of the bag together - only stitch up as far as the casing. At the top, run some stitches sideways too and backwards and forwards a few times for extra strength:

Turn your bag out.
Now it's time to make the drawstring strap.
Take your long strip of waterproof fabric.
Fold both long edges in towards the centre, then both sides in again to completely enclose the raw edges. Then stitch down the edges to hold in place.  At either short end, fold the end under too to hide that raw edge.

Now all that's left is to add the drawstring to the bag!
Use a large safety pin or a nappy pin to push the strap through your casing Then tie the ends together:

And there you have one personalised swimming bag:

All ready to fill up with swimming gear:

And take to the pool..

Then you'll have to make one for sisters, brothers..friends...

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I hope you liked this tutorial.  
There are many over 100 more on my tutorials page if you'd like to take a look!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fitness and Motivation

This past week has been all about swimming for my 2 daughters.  After their first swimming carnival last week - resulting in a medal and ribbons, my elder daughter in particular has become more determined to improve and both girls have been swimming every day!  At their second swimming carnival yesterday they both beat some of their times from last week - and another medal was won!

Seeing the effort both girls have been putting in, I was inspired to push myself further too.

On Tuesday, I told them both as I dropped them at school, that they had inspired me to push myself in my running, and I was going to go for a personal best time for my 5km circuit.  My best ever time was

26 mins 23 seconds, 

and I wanted to get this under 26 minutes.  The girls were excited for me, wished me luck and said they would draw pictures for me if I did it!
So - out I went, and I pushed as hard as I could go. All the way I thought of my daughters, and every time I wanted to slow down, I thought of them.
When I finished my run, I was amazed when I saw my time was 

24 minutes and 46 seconds!

Almost 2 minutes faster than my best ever time!
I was totally exhausted but elated!!  It just goes to show what you can do when you really set your mind to something!

My girls came out of school that afternoon and asked straight away how I did.  They were excited for me and as promised when they got home that evening (after swimming) they made me the loveliest cards imaginable!

The rest of the week I managed to keep up my exercise - our family run on Wednesday, Spartacus on Friday plus aquathon training again today.  
In my Spartacus workout - I pushed myself harder than ever too, and the aches in my muscles the next day told me I'd done a REALLY good workout!

That pushing in my fitness, also came from my daughter asking what my goal for the year was. Fitness-wise, it is to run the Pyramid race in 2 hours (previous best time is 2hrs 39 mins) so this is a big ask.
I realised when I told my daughter this, that I really do need to improve to achieve my goal - so I have to start pushing when I train to go faster and harder, and little by little edge my way towards my goal!
So next week I'm going to keep on pushing that little bit harder to keep on improving!
When have you pushed yourself lately?  And do your kids inspire you?

Friday, February 24, 2012

100 Comments on your post - and my Little Jems

First of all I wanted to give another quick mention to my 
which I've been working on and finally put up for sale this week:

I think I've populated a lot of Cairns, Australia with these little creatures - through my market stall and giving gifts to my daughter's friends over the years.
I feel like it's time for my Little Jems to fly the nest and see the world.
In with the pattern and tutorial, I've included all the labels and printable materials I've used over the years to sell these cute furry Jems - so that others can create their own Little Jem business too!

This package is priced at $14.95, but for the next few hours, I'm giving a discount of $5 off this price to my subscribers! 
The package comes as an instant PDF download of the pattern, tutorial and printables.

If you would like to take advantage of this discount and get this value package for just $9.95,  then you can subscribe here - or by clicking on the link at the top right of my sidebar.

Hurry - Sale ends at 10pm Australian EST tonight (24th Feb)


Now onto something else I wanted to mention - for those of you who are trying to grow their blog and widen their audience!

Would you love to have lots of comments on your blog posts and get 
more people to visit your blog?

Well from 1st to 8th March Blogelina is hosting an event to do just that.  
The idea is that bloggers sign up, put up a GREAT post on March 1st, and then commit to visiting everyone else's blog in their group over the next week to comment on that fabulous post.

I think it is a great idea! Of course you can't guarantee that it will result in 100 more people becoming followers of your blog - or even that those 100 will actually follow through and leave comments on everyone's blog posts.  BUT the concept is good - and as with anything, I believe that you will get out as much as you are willing to put in.

So I've decided to sign up and give it a whirl. Hopefully I'll find some new and interesting blogs myself, and think up some amazing post for that day on my blog to capture new reader's attention and make them want to come back for more!!

If you want to join in - click here to go to the post on Blogelina about this and to sign up.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Creative space

My daughters both swim after school.  They have been swimming since they were born, and both love it.
Last weekend they both entered their first swimming carnival which although they did find a little daunting as two of the youngest swimmers there - they thoroughly enjoyed!
We came away with participation ribbons - and a medal!  Much to the thrill of my daughter and pride of her parents and sister!!

This win has resulted in an increased desire to swim more and this week we've been every day after school!

I realised that of all the bags I've made for them for every possible occasion and use, I haven't made them swimming bags!  How could I have missed that?

For the last few years they've been using pink shopping bags for their swimming gear!
So, I decided to rectify the situation and make them their own special swimming bags!

Big enough to fit in their flippers, swimmers, goggles and towels.

Net along the bottom so the water can drain away when they get stuffed full of their wet gear!
And their names on the front so they don't lose them or get them mixed up!

I'm pleased with the bags - and will be posting a tutorial on how I made them next week!

What bags have you made for your kids?

For lots more wonderful creativity - head on over to 
There's always lots going on there!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little Jems

What is a 

Little Jem?

This is...
You might recognise this little character from my profile picture!

I started making these Little Jems a few years ago, when a friend and I had a market stall to sell some of our handmade goods.
My Little Jems were always a best seller. They were popular with both girls and boys - and were also bought as novelty gifts for adults too!

They aren't just cute little cuddly creatures - they are also little storage containers..
They can be used as desk tidies..

Jewellery holders...

or even as drinks holders:

They can be made in any colour and have been well loved and a big hit with the many kids who have bought them or received them as gifts over the past few years.

So, why am I telling you all this?
Well, I've decided to make a pattern/tutorial so that others can make  these little Jems for themselves.

I no longer have my market stall, having decided to put all my efforts instead into my blog.

But these Jems are too cute to stay hidden in Far North Queensland, Australia.

Later today, I'm going to launch my tutorial and pattern to make these Little Jems, here on Creating my way to Success.

I'm also going to include the templates for the tags I used to sell them - and ideas for developing the pattern too.

I encourage people to make these Little Jems and sell them yourselves, or give them as gifts!

When the pattern goes on sale later today - I will be offering a discounted price for subscribers of Creating my way to Success for a limited time.

So if you think you might like one of these patterns - then why not sign up to my mailing list - see top right of my sidebar.  Just for subscribing you receive the pattern and tutorial for the Kathryn Bag absolutely free:

Later today, I will mail out the discount code for the Little Jems to my subscribers.

These Little Jems are very special to me, and I hope by selling the pattern, that others can gain as much as I have from making them either for yourself, family and friends, or to sell on your own market stall.

Do come back later today when I'll post the launch and mail out that discount to my lovely subscribers.

Update: the pattern and tutorial are now available for sale at
To get your discount code- available for the first 72 hours of sale, simply subscribe to Creating my way to Success - top right of my sidebar!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Habits and routines!

Ok first things first - I fixed the mat on my mini tramp!  This has needed doing for MONTHS, and I promised last week that I'd post a picture of it fixed!  Well, it did take me all week to get around to it, but I knew I had to get it done to post it here, so...

This was it last week!

And now..

Yippee!! Now I can get back to some bouncing here and there which is great exercise - and good for general health and well being too!

For my exercise this week I really feel like I'm into the routine of exercise every day. I find myself wanting to run or workout now instead of having to make myself do it!

This week I did:
Monday: Spartacus weight's circuit
Tuesday: 15 min, 3 km run on treadmill
Wednesday: 30 min cycle on exercise bike
Thursday: 28 min, 5km run outside, then 15 mins swim 
Friday: Spartacus
Saturday: 28 min, 5km run outside
Sunday:  we're out at our daughter's first swimming carnival today, but I'm hoping to be back in time for aquathon training again! Loved it last week!

Phew! I'm pretty pleased with that!
So , more of the same next week: again exercise every day, Spartacus at least twice and at least 3 runs and one swim included.

This week I've been reading Cathy Freeman's autobiography (Australian Aboriginal 400m Olympic Gold medalist) too - which has been inspiring and motivating me!

Another routine, or 'habit' I'm slowly getting into, is being tidy! I'm into my 11th day now of my 21 days to form a habit challenge. I've been posting new pictures of my tidy surfaces on my facebook page every day! and not only is my house tidier, but my head feels clearer too!

A good week all round!  Looking forward to another great week!

How about you - did you have a good week?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Linky parties

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been having a look at linky parties and blogs with regard to their purpose and the traffic they do or don't generate.

I myself link up my projects to lots of linky parties each week. I have a page of links that I go through each week - so if you have a linky party on your blog that's not on my list - then do let me know and I'll add it and come through each week to link up!

Looking at my own linky parties, I have my weekly Round Tuit every Monday - where you can link up any project.
I get just over 100 links each week, and I visit each and every one of them and love being inspired and motivated. I mention my favourites on facebook and here on my blog - and always end up pinning a few ideas too!

I always get comments from people who say they appreciate me visiting and commenting on all the links! That's great because I enjoy this part of my week and the variety of links I see.

There are times when I think I should push to grow this linky party. There are some out there that get several hundred links every week. I always look at them and think "wow, wouldn't that be great for my little party to grow that much."  but then again, if I had that many links I couldn't possibly get through them all to visit and comment, so do I really want it to grow more??

I emailed a few people with larger linky parties to ask them how they grew them so big. Jenn from Craftomaniac,   Rebecca from Blue Cricket Design, and Stacy from Not Just a Housewife, all very generously replied to my question and told me what they had done to grow their linky parties.
I found that they had done nothing more than I am already doing.  I visit and comment on my links, I sometimes ask people to link up great projects I see, I have a button that people can put on their site when they link up to help spread the word, and I also mention the linky party on facebook and twitter.

One thought is that maybe there are so many linky parties out there now, that it's the ones that started at the beginning of their popularity that have grown big. Competition is too large now for any new ones to grow quite that much.

I don't think there is a magic formula for growing big linky parties, but having spent the time looking into them and considering the possibilities, I've decided to just enjoy my Round Tuit party as it is, continue doing what I'm doing and it will be the size it will be.

I hope people will continue to link up - and I will continue to visit the links each week and comment on them!

The second linky party I have is a blog hop each Wednesday as part of my Creating to Success Worldwide feature.

This is much smaller than the Round Tuit party, getting anywhere from 20 to 50 links each week.  What is surprising is that each link on this linky gets twice as many or more clicks than those links to the Round Tuit.  The linky is available on several blogs worldwide who feature interviews each week - and the idea is to make some international blogging friends and share creative talent worldwide.

I don't visit each link on this one - but I do go around all the hosts and check out all the interviews each week - and always find some fabulous talent and new blogs to follow!  The idea behind this linky party is a forum for people to meet others and get themselves out there and noticed more.
If you haven't joined in this one - the linky stays open all week - so feel free to add your blog and visit some of the others! Make some new international friends yourself!

Finally, my long term linky for clothes upcycling projects is very popular, with  237 links at last count and growing all the time.
When I looked in the statistics for that as to how many clicks each link gets, it was incredible.  
I've had emails from people who have said they get a steady stream of traffic from this linky - and I can see it's true!

Obviously the links that have been there longer have more clicks - the most being for this 
Which has had over 700 clicks!

So if you have any clothes upcycling projects - do come and link them up!  The page itself gets lots of traffic through each day - add a link and you could get some of that traffic flowing through to your blog too!

Linky parties are probably the main way I used to grow my blog.  I think it is very true that you get out what you put into these.
 If you link up and leave, you might get a few visitors as a result if you've linked a fabulous project with a great picture. 
 But if you link up then spend some time visiting other links and commenting, you are then far more likely to get visits to your blog, the comments we all love getting - and also new followers which everyone loves too!

What about you?  Do you host a linky party on your blog? Does it get a lot of links and traffic? Do you want to to be bigger?  And do you link your own projects to other link parties?

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts and opinions on these parties which are such a bit part of the craft blogging world!