Colouring in Bag

Colouring in Bag

“Adult colouring in” is a real thing now, and my wife loves it. I decided to make her a bag to keep all her colouring stuff in. Here’s how I did it.

The first step in any project like this is planning. I needed to work out how I was going to put it together and what material I needed. The plan showed me how much I would need (the plan has to have measurements) and also what order I’d need to sew it together to ensure that it doesn’t look sloppy.

The first picture is the overall plan – what the pieces will look like, how they’ll fit together and the measurements. The second picture is how I could fit all of the pieces into one piece of material and how I’d need to cut it up.



Once I had cut all the pieces out of the material (which my wife chose), I had to make sure I didn’t get them mixed up. This project also took a number of days to complete, so I had to be able to pack it away if needed. My workbench is also the dining room table!


With all the pieces cut out, I then could start sewing. I wanted to make sure the bag was padded so that nothing would get damaged inside. To do this, I used some left over calico material I had to double up the pieces I cut out of the main material. I then cut out some wadding to use as padding. With the pieces padded, it also added stability to the bag so that the bag could stand up and not be floppy. Once the parts were all cut out, I just had to sew around the edges to keep it all together. Later on I’ll put bias binding around the edges to ensure it won’t fray and keep the bag nice and strong.



I wanted the pencils to be kept in the bag, but not just in a tin. I decided to get a little fancy and sew elastic onto a couple of walls of the bag so that the pencils could be kept there. I sewed across the elastic at about 1.5cm spacing so that once the pencils were put in place they would stay there. I also decided during the planning that the front of the bag would fold out so that the pencils could be used individually, rather than having to get them all out at once. It’s important to remember to sew the elastic onto the material before the wadding and bias binding is added so that you can’t see where the elastic has been sewn.


The next step was the bias binding. It takes a bit of practice to work out the technique, but it’s worth it. It looks great and keeps the bag strong.Every single piece has bias binding added to it before the bag was sewn together so that it looked good and stopped fraying. The big tip here is to make sure you have enough bias binding before you start – I had to run to the shops half way throgh only to find out they had run out of the colour I used! I found a colour similar, but it was quite annoying.


Here’s a finished piece with the bias binding around the edges. This is the side piece that folds up at the front and forms the side of the bag once it’s finished. I have also sewn a line along where the bag will fold so that it will move easily once it’s done.


I hadn’t made a bag before so I tried to design it from scratch. The method I decided to use was to build the inner sections and then have one long piece of material wrap around the middle – this would form the front, back and the flap over the top. I had to test constantly that the pieces were going together in the right order and with the pattern.

The next three pictures show a) the bottom piece that wraps around, b) The middle part sitting on the wrap around piece for testing, c) with the bag closed to make sure the material is long enough before sewing.




Once I was happy with the test, I then sewed it all together – the handle is integral to the stability of the sides and the internal part.


Once finished and cleaned up, I put the bag on the couch to take some final shots. Overall I thought it turned out really well. However, it’s strong and it’s functional and any imperfections are not noticeable at first glance. My wife was very happy with it – which is the main measure of success.


Overall the project took about 3 ten hour days, not including the planning. The overall cost in just materials is around $30.


The design ended up achieving everything I had wanted it to. The handle is double padded and able to be tucked into the bag itself for storage. The pencil part folds out nicely held in it’s folded state with two buttons. The top flap has large wooden buttons on the front to hold everything in. The rear section of the bag holds an electric lamp so my wife can do colouring in anywhere. The middle section holds the colouring book, the front has the pencils. With the middle section having it’s own floor, it means that when the wrap around piece goes on, the bottom of the bag has a double padded bottom.


I really enjoyed the project as a whole and got a great sense of accomplishment when it was done. It’s nice to see a project finished and I was really happy with how it turned out. I wouldn’t make the same bag again as it is really time consuming. However, I learned a lot of this during the project.



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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in General Craft, Sewing


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Finished Deck

Finished Deck

Remember that time I built a massive deck in the back yard?

Well, I just realised that even though I had the pictures, I didn’t actually upload the final photos!

So here they are….








I think it turned out alright. 🙂

It’s been a few years since we sold the place with this deck and we still kind of miss it. I wonder what the current owners have done with the back yard? Hopefully it still looks the same.

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Posted by on October 15, 2015 in Decking [COMPLETE], Home Renovations


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Cupboard under the stairs

Cupboard under the stairs

In the house we renovated there was a large cavity under the staircase that I filled with a storage cupboard.

The space wouldn’t be used because it was narrow and deep, so I drew up some plans and built a giant cupboard into the space under the stairs. It had two rear facing doors with tall cupboards and three large doors that opened out to reveal shelves.

The end cupboard was great for ironing boards and tall items. We put boxes into the shelves to add even more storage room. The first cupboard was quite small, but was enough to house the wi-fi router and board games.

The cupboard was built to fit into the space as much as possible, but still to have room to display items on the top. It was painted the same colour as the wall to ensure it blended in with the room. Carpet was then laid around the cupboard and it became a hidden feature of the room.

It was made out of very thick mdf boards and then painted a dark chocolate brown in the inside, but the same colour as the wall on the outside.

Overall it gave the small townhouse a new level storage that it previously lacked while utilising the wasted space that was currently there.

Here are some pictures of the finished product.

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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Home Renovations


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Raspberry Pi out of the box

Raspberry Pi out of the box

I finally bought a Raspberry Pi (2) – this is how I set it up from out of the box.

First of all I guess I should explain what a Raspberry Pi is. In short, its basically a computer that is the size of a credit card. It was primarily invented to help people learn about computers and electronics. And the price? About $60. Not bad for a computer, right?

The reason I bought one was primarily to use as a media centre for my TV and also to see what else I could do with it. It was really easy to set up out of the box and really cheap. Here’s how I did it.

I purchased the Raspberry Pi 2 (model B) from Little Bird Electronics – – it sells for $62 (at time of writing) with a little bit on top for freight (about $7 from memory). You can order them from different places, but I went with Little Bird because I know first hand that they do a lot to help out local maker communities and I believe you should support small businesses like that.

One of the reasons that the Raspberry Pi is so cheap is because it doesn’t come with anything. You have to supply your own monitor or TV (but it has a HDMI slot), keyboard and mouse (but it has USB slot for a wireless connection to a keyboard and mouse), power cord (but you can use a micro USB phone charger cable), operating system/software (but it has a slot for a micro SD card that you can load it on) and hard drive (but you can use an externally powered USB hard drive).

For me this wasn’t a problem because I already had all these things. You can but a kit with the extras included if you wish.

Before I start with the pictures, it’s important to point out that if you’re going to take photos of your Raspberry Pi, don’t use the flash – it can actually damage the board!

Okay, I received the package and took it out of the wrapping.


Just seeing this box got me excited, but what was in it was even better!


The box that the Raspberry Pi comes in is about the size of a deck of cards. Little Bird even included a little sticker!


Opening the box, you find the instruction manual and a bag with the board itself inside. That’s it. So much power for such a little thing.


Above is a close of the Raspberry Pi itself. You can see it has four USB slots on the right hand side, next to an Ethernet cable slot. From the front left hand side there is a slot for the micro USB power cord and then the HDMI slot. Underneath is the slot for the micro SD card.


Speaking of the SD card, you need to load it up with the NOOBS software. NOOBS stands for New Out Of the Box Software (or something like that). You can download it for free from the Raspberry Pi website. There are also instructions on how to load it onto the card. It’s pretty straight forward and the URL and screen shot is below. I needed to use the adapter as my Mac has an SD card slot so it plugs straight into the computer to write the software.


Once you’ve loaded the software on the card, insert the card into the slot.

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Once the card is in, you’ll next need to connect the keyboard and mouse. I had one lying around so I just put the USB dongle into the USB slot.

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You’ll need to be able to see what you’re doing, so the next step is to plug in a HDMI cord into the HDMI slot and the other end into your TV.


One of the cool things about the Raspberry Pi is that it doesn’t use a lot of power. You can plug in the micro USB power cord into the Pi and the other end into the TV. This means that when you turn the TV on, the Raspberry Pi powers up!


The final step is to plug the Ethernet cable in to give it access to the internet. You can use wireless, but my router is next to my TV so it’s easier just to connect it straight to the router.


Here’s a shot of everything connected up ready to go.


Once everything is connected up, you can turn the TV on and follow the instructions from the Raspberry Pi web site to get it working.



So much fun. So much potential. But this is just the beginning…..


Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Raspberry Pi


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Roll Pack a Suit and Shirt

Roll Pack a Suit and Shirt

For work, I need to travel a fair bit domestically. And I need to wear a suit when I’m at work.

I hate having to take check-in luggage because it costs extra a lot of the time, it can get lost and it’s great to be able to get out of the airport quickly (not having to wait to pick up luggage). I also hate the inconvenience of trying to manage a suit bag.

I’ve done some research and done some experiments and come across the easiest and best way to be able to pack my suit and a shirt into my back pack. These are the instructions on how to roll-pack a suit and a shirt.

The advantages of rolling the suit up is that it minimises creases that you get from folding and it makes it a lot smaller and easier to fit into smaller places.

Step 1 – Make sure the shirt is ironed. This saves a lot of hassle later as a lot of hotel rooms have really crappy irons – if at all.

Step 2 – Get a large flat surface to be able to easily lay out your clothes to roll. A bed is perfect.


Step 3 – Start with the shirt. Make sure at least half the buttons are done up and then lay the shirt face down on the bed with the arms stretched out. Try to smooth out any wrinkles before you start folding.


Step 4 – Take one arm and match it up with the arm on the other side so that the shirt is exactly in half length ways. The collar should be out and at the top. Again, make sure the wrinkles are smoothed out.


Step 5 – Bring the arms across to run down the length of the shirt. Try to get the arm to almost run down the button line.


Step 6 – Starting at the bottom, roll the shirt into a cylinder – not too loose, but not too tight either. Smooth out the wrinkles as you roll it.


Step 7 – When you’re finished rolling you should have a nice cylinder that has no wrinkles. Set it aside and get ready to do the suit jacket.


Step 8 – Lay the suit jacket down on the bed face up. Make sure all the wrinkles are out and that it’s ready to be rolled. Then pick the jacket up by the collar and push the right hand shoulder into the left hand shoulder. It should fit nicely in and basically fold the jacket in half.


Below is what it should look like once you’ve pushed the shoulder in and laid it back down on the bed. Make sure you line up the buttons and make sure the lapels are smoothed down.


Step 9 – Fold the arm across so that it makes a rough rectangle. Ensure the arm on the inside is not crushed or wrinkled, but runs down the inside of the jacket.


Step 10 – To ensure that the shoulder retains it shape and doesn’t get wrinkled, insert the rolled up shirt into the cavity where the shoulder is.


Step 11 – Next comes the suit pants. Grab the pleats and hold them together to lie the pants flat down on the bed.


Step 12 – Tuck the top part of the pants in so that the pants make a long rectangle that’s fairly even. Make sure that there are no wrinkles.

IMG_0120Step 13 – Fold the pants in half so that it makes a smaller rectangle.


Step 14 – Place the pants onto of the suit jacket and shirt. Line up the bottom of the jacket with the bottom of the pants so that they lie flat.


Step 15 – Start at the top of the jacket (where the shirt is) and roll down towards the bottom of the jacket. Roll it up firmly, but not too tight. Smooth out the wrinkles as you roll it.


Step 16 – Find a plastic bag that’s around the same size as the suit rolled up. Make sure the bag isn’t wet or dirty. Place the suit roll in the bag.


Step 17 – Squeeze most of the air out of the bag and then tie it up. This will help if something spills in your bag. It may not be waterproof, but hopefully it will help to protect the suit roll in case of a problem.


Step 18 – Place it in the back pack or suit case and try not to crush it.

Step 19 – When you get to the hotel, immediately take it out of the bag and unroll it. Hang all the items up separately in the closet and let the wrinkles fall out. If there is no danger of it getting wet, exposing the them to some steam (eg hot shower) is sometimes good as well.

All going well, this technique should minimise the wrinkles and mean that the suit is wearable without having to iron anything. It also means that you can squeeze it into a backpack and avoid the check-in luggage hassles!

To complete the outfit, pack your socks into your dress shoes and then put them in a plastic bag under the suit in the backpack. If you’re wearing jeans when you travel, wear the belt you would wear with the suit to save having to pack it (or forget it). If you need to wear a tie, fold it and lay it on top of the pants before rolling.

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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Clothing


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Recent drawing

Recent drawing

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted any of my sketching that I try to do regularly. These pieces are not works of art, but practice – I attend a life drawing session once a week to get practice in. It’s certainly starting to come together now.

Here are a few of my latest sketches.

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Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Drawing


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Painting with Red Wine

Painting with Red Wine

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking – what a waste of good wine.

I am involved in a weekly life drawing group and each session does involve wine. Last week I decided to take along a watercolour brush and see what would happen if I used red wine in the same way that I would use watercolour paints.

I think it turned out alright.


I’m not the best artist in the world, and I’ve only recently started using watercolours, but I was happy with the result.

I used pencil to sketch the outline and then filled in the detail with the wine. I had a glass of wine beside me that I was drinking, and simply dipped the brush into it loading the brush with the wine. I was fairly generous because the colour was actually pretty faint on the first run and it ran out pretty quickly.

Similar to normal watercolours, I found that the first pass was nice and light, but that you could create darker colours by going over the light areas again. I used watercolour paper, but it was fairly cheap stuff so the result may be better with good paper.

There wasn’t that much spread of the wine and I only used a small brush so there seemed to be a fair bit of control.

This was done quite quickly as there was a life model with limited time frame poses, so I didn’t let it dry as much as I could have. I also didn’t tape the paper down, so there is a bit of wrinkling. I also think that other textures may be achieved by wetting the area first to let the wine soak in a bit more, but I didn’t try that.

Obviously, there is only one colour, but the layering allows a bit of depth to that colour. I think that different types of wine may give different hues, but I haven’t experimented outside of this one painting.

All in all, I was happy with the result and may try it again in future.


Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Art, Painting


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Fixing a broken USB stick

Fixing a broken USB stick

Okay, this post is really exciting! Maybe not for you, dear reader, by I got excited anyway. Those of you that follow my blog know that not everything I do actually works out, so it was great that this one did – even though I didn’t expect it to.

The problem was that a USB stick had be pulled out of the computer, leaving the USB part behind! It meant that it was impossible to use the stick, with a whole bunch of files and information that wasn’t able to be accessed.


As you can see below, there are four pins that should be soldered to the memory stick board, but they have come undone, resulting in the separation of the stick.


The first thing that I needed to do to fix the problem was to pull the whole stick apart. This particular type has a sliding part in the middle of a cover that hides the USB section. I pried it apart, the folded metal thing is the outside cover. The part with the electronics was the part that slid. I threw out the rest of the stick and just kept the USB part and the internal electronics.


As I said above, the problem is that the solder holding the USB part in came undone. The obvious answer would be to solder the pins back in place. Unfortunately, I don’t have a soldering iron that is accurate enough to be able to do that… nor the skills/experience.


Instead, what I decided to do was to connect the two pieces with wire. Again, I didn’t actually have any wire handy, so I kind of made some. I got some copper wire from another piece of wire and twisted them together, covering them with heat shrink (so they wouldn’t touch each other). This seemed to work okay.

Once I had four wires – one for each pin and where they should have been soldered onto – I set about soldering each wire to the connection spot. This was really had and you have to be careful not to have any of the wires or solder touching. The result isn’t pretty, but it seemed to work okay.


Once they were solid, I then attached the other end of the wires to the corresponding pins. It was essential to ensure that the right wires went to the right places. This was challenging, but a little easier than the other side. Once I got all the wires attached, I accidentally pulled too hard on one of the wires and had to resolder it’s end to the connection. But eventually they were all connected.


To see if I was successful, I plugged the USB part into a USB extension cord, the other end of which went into a computer. I used the extension cord because there was less chance of the USB stick moving and less chance of the USB part getting stuck in my computer!


So much to my extreme excitement, after a couple of seconds the computer recognised the USB stick and it’s contents! I was able to copy all the files across to another USB stick (that wasn’t broken) and then could throw out the old one.

This turned out to be a fairly easy way to be able to recover files that you would think are lost forever. I’m really not very good at electronics and definitely pretty dodgy at soldering, but it worked!


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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Electronics


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Building a planter for tomatoes

Building a planter for tomatoes

It’s been a while, but I wanted to post about the planter I have just built to grow tomatoes in.

I designed and built this myself and hoped to be able to save a lot of money, but be able to get fresh produce at the end of all this. The total cost of everything that I spent money on is $61.60 (AUD). Here’s a bit of a break down…

Timber – $18.57 – 3 x 3.6m lengths of 150x25mm treated pine @$6.19 each

Hardware -$0 – I already had spare decking screws

Soil and rocks – $11.37 – 2 bags of potting mix and 1 bag of compost soil additive – also some rocks and dirt from the garden

Plants – $31.66 – Heirloom Tomatoes $3.79 x 2, Mini Roma $6.17 x 2, Butter Beans $4.36 x 1, Marigolds $3.02 x 1, Nasturtiums $4.36 x 1.

Grand Total = $61.60

Having said that I did buy established seedlings which is always more expensive, but I wanted to get started straight away. A lot of money could be saved by growing from seed. I also had a lot of screws left over from a previous decking project ( so that could increase costs for others. (I used stainless steel ones with square drive heads)

Anyway to get to the details, I started with 3 lengths of 3.6 – which I cut to 1.8 lengths with a drop saw. I then cut one of the lengths up into smaller sections. This was for the sides and dividers. Each of the smaller lengths were 275mm long (the width of two boards on top of each other, minus the height of the bottom board). I also cut three equal length sections with the remaining timber to use as feet. I didn’t end up doing that, but it would be good if you needed to have better drainage.


The next thing I did was line it all up on the deck to make sure if fit together. A very important step – it’s good to find out problems before you start screwing things together.


Then I needed to drill some pilot holes for the screws holding the ends on. I used the timber I would be putting on the side as a guide, lined it up and then drilled. I also used a larger bit after the first one as a counter sink. I then found it easier to stand it up like a bench with the bottom up in the air. The three screws in each side gave it enough strength to hold it together.

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Once I was happy with the bottom and ends, I attached the two boards on the one side. These then matched up with the ends to keep it all square.

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After that the dividers needed to go in for both strength and to separate the plants. I measured the board in thirds and then drilled and screwed from the bottom first, then from the side.

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I then attached the last two boards in the same way, starting with the two ends first and then the dividers.

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Once they were done, the box was complete. I just put some drainage holes in the bottom with a hole drilling bit away from the dividers.

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It fitted perfectly in the area I wanted it – you can see the full sunlight above. 🙂

I then put some rocks in the bottom to help with drainage, and some rocky soil mixed with potting mix for a base. I later put another bag of potting mix and also organic compost in there as well. All up, I think I used about 100 litres of soil.

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Then the final result.

I planted two plants of heirloom tomatoes (big juicy ones) on the left, with mini romas on the right (they grow in clusters, almost like grapes). In the middle I put in Butter Beans for something different. All of these can be tied to the fence to help with their growth. Once they start to grow, I’ll tie them up with old pantyhose (because it’s flexible) or wire if needed. Around the front and side I planted Nasturtiums and Marigolds because they not only look nice, but help keep pests away from my tomatoes without using pesticides. The more organic the better.


It will still take a few months before I see fruit, but at least they’re in and growing. 🙂



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Intercooler install – Removing the bumper

Intercooler install – Removing the bumper

This is an photo journey of my installation of a new intercooler in my Saab 9-3 (1999, RHD). The standard one makes the air flow back and forth in the intercooler, but I’m installing a bigger cross flow intercooler to cool the intake air and to increase the flow of air to the engine.

To install the new intercooler, the old intercooler needs to be removed and for that to happen, the bumper needs to come off. This section of the install will just focus on the bumper removal.

This is how the car looks at the start. You’ll need to have the bonnet (hood) up so that you can get into the engine bay.


The next two pictures show the piping going to the intercooler (not very clearly).



When I’m working on the car like this, I always have my ipad open and handy with a tutorial ready to go. It makes things a lot easier.



The first part to come off is the front grill. There are two clips at the top of it that hold it on. The clips pinch together and then you can lift the grill off.



From the top looking down at the right hand side of the car (facing it), you can the screw that holds the right side front light assembly.


Remove the screw and then light assembly pulls forward.


Pinch the sides of the clip together to release the whole unit and put it aside.


Next is the actual headlight. Looking from the top down, you can see the two screws holding in the top of the light. Remove these screws.


Once those two are out, there is a third screw on a metal bracket on the side of the unit. Undo this screw and pull the light forward.


Once pulled out, undo the clips holding the wiring to the light.




My bumper has driving lights and therefore I’ll need to unplug them before taking the bumper off. The following shot is the plug from the bottom, looking up.


The next wire to unplug is the temperature sensor in the bumper itself. 


It disconnects easily by pulling the clip out.



Once all the electronics have been removed, the bumper is only held on with two large bolts. These are on either side of the radiator, located on the metal frame of the bumper.


Remove these bolts.


I also have a bit of a body kit thing – like a skirt that goes into the bumper. It has a screw holding it to the car, so that needs to be undone. There is also one on the bottom (photo looking up from the ground) that needs to be removed.



Once all the above have been removed, the bumper can now be pulled forward from the car evenly.




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