Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Today has turned into a pretty good day.  I had some time off just for me - yay - and last night was thinking I wouldn't be able to fit everything in as well as spend some decent time up in the attic sewing.  I woke up this morning and decided to just try and do everything.

  Out the house by 8am for a quick run (quick as in short not really very fast at all I'm afraid) and home again to clean the house and shower.  I sorted what felt like a mountain of laundry and jumped on my bike to pop round the charity shops.  Surprisingly this mission was due to a lack of clothes that fit me these days rather than my usual fabric hunt so the hunt for jeans began.  4 shops later and I had 2 new to me pairs of jeans and 2  tops - quite enough for one day.  Looking at what I have bought reminds me that there is really no reason not to get stuff 2nd hand.  It's ethical, cheap and you find some fabulous things.  This is one outfit I bought today which in total cost me £7 - I mean really! I have to admit I'm so happy I have a really fabulous pair of flares again!  I love them so much more than skinny jeans!

After that I picked up some food shopping and popped into Akrams Oriental Supermarket to stock up on spices and Tabasco and I wobbled home on my bicycle - just a tad over loaded!

Lunch at home with fresh rocket snipped from my garden today left me feeling super duper happy that I am actually able to eat something that I have grown!  Which led me perfectly to heading upstairs to nestle myself away in the attic and sew.

The sunshine has been shining so brightly today and as I was sewing it poured in through the slanted windows - combine that with a gentle breeze and how could anyone not be inspired to create lovely things.

I finished off a few projects that required completion and then turned my attention to some fabric I picked up a few weeks ago courtesy of my local Sue Ryder shop.  And this is what I made - a fun skirt with a simple smocked waist band.

 If you fancy making it just follow the directions for the kids summer dress.  Just replace the chest measurement with your waist/hips and make the skirt as long or short as you want it!  Follow this link to bring you to that tutorial!

So my conclusion is that sometimes the more you get done the more productive you become!  More busy definitely did make more time today!

Well happy sewing and as always post me some pics of your work and I'll share them on the Facebook page!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Pillow Case to Tote Bag

I’ve been trying to use up the fabric that I have had in my boxes for a long time and came across a gorgeous pillow case that I discovered months ago hidden deep in mounds of bedding in a charity shop.  I loved the colours and the flowers but wasn’t really sure what I was going to make out of it.

This week I decided to make it into a tote bag – some stitching and lining later and I ended up with a finished product that was so much better than the pillow case I’d started out with.

Tote bags are great for days out in the sun, trips with the family and carrying as a shopping bag.  If you make them out of recycled fabric then not only are they preventing the use of plastic bags but ethically and sustainable produced too.  Combine that with a relaxing afternoon spent sewing and you have a sustainable, ethical and fun filled bag!

Get those machines out and get sewing!

1.        Decide how big you want your bag to be and cut two rectangles 1.5cm bigger than that all around.  Cut out two rectangles of the same size from a plain lining fabric.   Then cut two long strips that will make up the handles.  I did mine either side of the pillow case and to a 6cm width


2.       Now place the large rectangles right sides together for both the patterned and the lining fabric.  Sew both sides and the bottom of the fabric.  Now turn these out so that you can see the pouch that will make up your bag.

3.       Take the thin strips and fold them in half lengthways.  Sew a line from top to bottom about 1cm away from the raw edges.  Take a safety pin and pin it to one side of the fabric.  Point the pin into the tube of fabric and begin to ease it through pulling the fabric gently as you go.  This should thread through leaving you a tube of fabric with the right side facing you.


4.       Press your handles, bag and lining to leave neat, crisp lines.

5.       Place the lining so the raw edges are facing you and put it inside of the patterned fabric.  All your raw edges should now be hidden.  Fold the tops over to create a neat seam between the patterned and the lining fabric.  Pace the handles flat about 4cm away from each edge and tuck them in between the lining and patterned fabric.


6.       Pin and ensure everything matches up and sits as you want it to.  Make any adjustments and  then stitch a line around the top of the bag ensuring you stay the same distance from the top as this is a visible stitch.

IMG_20130822_091714.jpg And there you  have it - just trim your loose threads - your finished product!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Waste not Want not!

That old saying 'waste not want not' is probably unintentionally the moto for my sewing activity.  I love crafting and creating things but there is something extremely satisfying for me about making something out of 'nothing'.  By nothing I mean - scraps or rubbish - something that someone else was about to throw away or something that seems useless.

I love someone complimenting a skirt I have made and being able to say 'this? thanks - I made it from a pillow case, duvet, shirt, scrap etc etc'
 This week I did some alterations for a friend and took up the hem of her dress.  This left me with a strip of fabric too thin for much to be honest so I decided to turn the leftovers into a hair band.  Simple but something I wear often on those days when an outfit needs that extra touch or when my hair just decides to be disastrous and covering up is the safer option!
 So how did I do it?  Simple, quick and easy as can be.

You will need;
- a long scrap of fabric - mine was about 5cm wide but you can make yours much wider to create a thicker band.
-safety pin

1.  Cut your fabric to the length and width you require.  The final band width will be half of the fabric minus about 1.5cm seam allowance on both sides of the fabric.  It is important that you try to keep this as straight as possible so if you can use a ruler or measure to get straight lines.

2. Fold your fabric half way down the length of it so that the right side of the fabric is facing inwards touching.

You can see that mine still had the hem of the dress on it which I made sure didn't show in the final product by sewing to the left of the stitching.

3. Pin together and sew a straight line from one side to the other ensuring your seam allowance remains the same from start to finish

4. Now take your safety pin and attach it to one side of the tube you have created.  Push the saftey pin into the tube and gently ease it through teasing the fabric out as you go.  Once the safety pin is through the other end of the tube the fabric should pull through easily so you can now see the right side of the fabric in a tube.

5. Fold the raw edges into the tube at each end of the hair band.  This can be done to create a straight edge or you can create a slant so that the band naturally slants towards a point at each edge.

6. Now stitch each end and trim all loose threads.  Press the band and pair it with an outfit of your choice!

And there you have it the finished product!  Nothing needs to be wasted especially not fabric!  The whole project should take no longer than half an hour if you are stitching with a machine and it creates a great accessory out of something that otherwise might have gone in the bin!  It makes a cute gift too!

Happy sewing!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The therapy of sewing

This week I have been using up my odds and ends of fabric to make little bits and pieces - cushion hearts and coin purses mainly.

Because of the size and light nature of the fabric I've been hand sewing as a pose to sitting at the machine.  Now don't get me wrong I love my machine - I love the speed, the straight lines, all the different stitches and generally how simple it makes bigger projects. But sitting down on the sofa with a needle and thread has a very different charm.

I've been enjoying watching each single stitch develop and the repetitive motion of weaving in and out of the fabric.  I've enjoyed the extra time it takes and the close attention that can be paid to the development of each project.  Sitting quietly isn't something that happens a whole lot in my life and patience certainly isn't my natural gift.  Between a job that involves constant interaction with people to generally being an individual who loves to talk endlessly I sometimes could go days without being quiet and taking time to sit and think.  When I'm sitting at the machine it's wizzing away and I think just about what's in front of me.

  So this week to suddenly stop for periods of time to sew by hand and just be has been quite different.  Yet I loved it - my conclusion is that sewing is my kind of therapy. 

I can talk constantly but actually say very little. This is something I've been told a number of times in my life.  But stopping talking and just being with my thoughts is a quite different feeling.

Watching a project steadily develop, feeling productive and yet embracing the peaceful quiet around me and enjoying my time to process my thoughts has been amazing.  Everyone needs their bit of 'me time' and for everyone it looks a little different.
For me as I focus on crafting more regularly I'm going to try to make sure that a part of that each week will be without the machine - sewing by hand or maybe doing some knitting - something where I can sit and enjoy my own thoughts.  Honestly I'd recommend it!  I might even keep my eye out for a comfy chair as an addition to my attic craft space - somewhere I can curl up, sew and enjoy the sky above me.  Sounds like a freecycle check is in order :-)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Stuffed bunnies

This week I have been working in the afternoons so have spent happy mornings in my attic stitching away.  It has turned into a productive week with a maxi dress finished (photos will come shortly), a few tote bags made, some coin purses stitched and I've also been making these adorable stuffed bunnies.

This blog post just proves that these days you can find anything you want on the internet.  I had been wanting to make some cute stuffed animals but due to my terrible drawing skills I needed a template.  A quick flick through Google images and I found one!

This wonderful blogger has also shared a ready written how to guide so I'm not going to repeat her good work but just share it for you all to follow.  So please check it out!

I plan to add some little eyes to the bunny with some buttons on some and on others a little cross made out of embroidery thread.

As always I have made these bunnies from fabric that has been sourced from charity shops, ebay and other up-cycling projects.  I've been amazed at the luck I have had recently in finding beautiful fabrics that are in amazing condition being sold off for pennies.

Here is a selection of my recent finds - any suggestions of what you think I should do with them???

Hope your all enjoying your week - will post again soon :)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Tv freedom and a spot of green fingered inspiration

I have spent this morning out in the sunshine digging up the garden and planting some veggies. 
Now that we don't have daisy - our lovely bunny - with us anymore I have decided to reclaim the garden.  In true jenni style I have chosen to do this as we near the end of summer and approach winter so my choice of veg was somewhat limited.  I went for it anyway and hopefully soon we will be enjoying some rocket and random other veg.
It struck me as I was washing away the dirt this afternoon what a lovely day it had been.  Spent outside doing something productive and getting good and grubby in the process.
  I loved it - the quiet, peaceful space to work and think at the same time.  So often it is too easy for me to opt for the lazy tv option to fill my time yet getting outside and working feels so much better. 

We have just decided to cancel our tv subscription agreeing that it's far too much money and not where we want our attention to be focussed.  It's definitely what I want yet I find myself having moments of panic - fearing boredom I guess.  What will I do without the my shows back up plan on TiVo on those free evenings?  Well I hope that I will do quite a lot more to be honest.
So as we approach the end of the month and a much reduced or even tv free (it's been discussed) household I'm going to try to remember the contented feeling of days like today.  I definitely want to choose to garden, read, sew, socialise and run but am aware that as we near the colder months this could be a challenge.
Fingers crossed ill stay focussed and busily blog my various activities.
I've set myself a few challenges to keep myself focussed.
1st - signed up to the great south run in October - eek 10 miles!
2nd - signed up to co-run a craft fair table in November with @sassytastic
3rd - generally plan to spend more time crafting, creating and quietly contemplating

So here goes lots of outdoorsy and productive days :-) I'll keep you posted on  how my veggies grow!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Back to the blog - how to make EYE MASKS

After a few weeks away with sickness and all sorts going on I thought on this gorgeously sunny morning I would complete a project and do some blogging.
 I recently signed up to do a craft fair for the first time.  It's all a bit of an experiment to be honest but it has got me thinking of new things that I can make that people would enjoy owning or giving as gifts.  This morning I made an eye mask which was surprisingly simple, reasonably quick and gives a good professional finish which is always very satisfying.

To do this project you will need:

  • Fabric in the pattern of your choice
  • A sheet of thin foam ( I used craft foam for kids)
  • A backing fabric
  • Paper for the stencil, pencil and scissors
  • Pins
  • Elastic
  • Bias binding
  • The usual needle and thread :)
You need to cut out your template - I traced an eye mask I already had but a quick look in google images will give you a selection to print and trace if you aren't confident with your free hand. 
Now pin the template onto the fabric and cut around as you would with any pattern.  Repeat this on your foam and your backing fabric.
Place all three together - backing fabric then foam then your patterned fabric on top facing right side upwards.  Now pin together to avoid movement and sew around the edge.  It helps to stay close to the edge so you aren't going to have a hard time hiding the stitching later.
You should be left with something like this.

Now take your bias binding and elastic.  You need to mark with a pin where you want your elastic to sit on either side of the mask.  It needs to be placed at an equal distance on both sides from the top and the bottom to ensure you don't end up with a wonky mask.
 Begin to fold the bias binding round the edge of the mask and pin in place.  As you reach the points for your elastic insert the elastic into the fold at the back of the mask.  The elastic should just lie flat against the mask.

 Now you need to choose a thread that matches the bias binding or choose an appropriate contrast.  You now need to sew round the edge of the bias binding adjusting as you go to avoid any creases.  At this point it is worth going slow and steady and staying close to the edge of the binding.  This line of stitching will show and makes part of the finished product so it is important the stitching is neat and steady.

Now trim any loose threads and there you have it - a perfect gift for yourself or someone else!  Enjoy and don't forget to send me pics of your progress - you can tweet me @jenniwessels

Till next time :)