Friday, 29 August 2014

Upcycled Hen!

Hen Parties are known for their shiny fabrics and garish accessories all bought for a bargain price at the local fancy dress shop and quickly disposed of throughout the course of the evening/weekend.
I was asked to do something a little different and make some bits and pieces for a hen party that wasn't quite so plastic.
We had a little chat about what she wanted and I set about stitching.  It was really fun to make something different to the things I usually make with a personal touch that made it unique.  It set me thinking about how very commercialized hen parties and weddings can become (and so very expensive!) and yet some upcycled fabric and a bit of time can create something truly unique and special!

So here is what I made . . .

Some cute little hand warmers for all of the hens.
These are really simple to make and don't take long at all so if you think you fancy having a go pop across to this post on how to get started!

 Then I got started on the sash for the bride to be.
Using a simple cream fabric I cut out the fabric for the sash before cutting out the letters in a fun autumnal fabric.
Then it is the slow task (but oh so satisfying) of applique.  This does take a little while but it looks so much better than simply sticking fabric on and removes the risk of all that fraying!
Here is a little bit more on applique!
Then I just neatly sewed the sash together and pressed it out to give a neat line on each side.
I used a safety pin with a rag effect to secure the sash and there you have it - upcycled and made with love!

What do you think?  Upcycled hen parties are the way forwards?!? I certainly think so!  Environmental impact is minimum, there is less tack around and it is filled with fun preparation sewing!  What could go wrong!
If you are getting started on making yours then get in touch and we can share tips!  I'm certainly hoping I get asked to make some more of these!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Funky dress - upcycled of course

It has become a bit of a habit around birthdays for me to have a chat with my sister to consider what I want/need and eventually revert back to fabric.  She is a star and pops along to local charity shops and hunts till she finds me some fabulous fabric that I can upcycle for myself.  Yay - permission to indulge absoloutely granted.
This year was no different so I was presented with this fantastic polka dot fabric!  I love it!

I wasn't too sure what to make but then decided to go for a completely random approach and chuck it onto the mannequin and just see where I ended up (as demonstrated below - clearly very technical!)

I don't really do well with patterns - possibly because I don't really do that well with being told what to do - and tend to go off pattern all the time anyway!  So I just went with what felt right.  I decided the larger dots at the bottom decreasing as it went up worker well and with the amount of fabric it had to be a dress.  Once I started adding shape by pinning in some darts I had begun to get an idea of how the dress would look.

I would absolutely recommend having a go at something like this!  First of all it gives you absolute freedom to do whatever you want, second you don't have to buy a pattern and if you use upcycled fabric it is likely to be cheap and cheerful and if you end up with a disaster then you haven't lost too much!
 This dress started off as a duvet cover and with some snipping, pinning and tweaking turned into a dress that I will absolutely be wearing!  What do you think?

A bit of a dark picture there but an idea of the shape of the dress. I'm really happy with the way the sleeves worked so well even on a mannequin - I have to admit to being a bit afraid of sleeves so going off pattern was a bit nervy but they seem to have worked well!

It is so comfy and I love the neutral colours that can be dressed up with a fun, bright necklace or bracelet.
What a great birthday gift!  The fun of opening it to find gorgeous fabric, the dreaming up of a project perfect for the fabric, the sewing and now the wearing!  Talk about the gift that just keeps on giving!

Have you made any clothes by using a mannequin?  Do send them over so I can share them too!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Bloggers block!

Do you ever have moments where you seem to loose a little bit of your creativity for a while?  I'm certainly there right now!

 I am a little bit un-imaginative right now when I sit down to sew - opting instead to fix up a few ripped seams and things instead of creating new things.  That means that when I sit down to blog I'm not too sure what to share with you all!

 All of this lack of creative flow has got me thinking how I find my inspiration and how do I get it back when it is gone?

  I realized that although the internet is awash with ideas from pinterest to blogs to simply good old google that doesn't really create inspiration.  Sitting down to make something because you have seen a picture of it doesn't always mean you are truly inspired.  It doesn't mean you are feeling it and it certainly doesn't mean you are enjoying the process.  My go to when I feel a bit flat in front of the sewing machine is usually a good old trawl of pinterest but it doesn't always help me feel that inspired!

  I have realized that I am most inspired when I am spending time with people - chatting and dreaming with someone else about life, craft, ideas, sadness, thoughts, hopes and dreams (anything really) inspires me more than anything else!  I love people - I love people watching - I love talking to people - I love sewing with people and for people - I am a people person.  I love to talk and I love to listen!
  My other top inspiration source is being in nature - wandering by the waters edge on a sunny day,  pressing on through fields in the wind and exploring glorious scenery in the snow.  What better inspiration could you possibly find than nature itself!

So I plan to find ways to sew with people more often - to sit and stitch and chat - one on one or in a group I don't mind really but I definitely want to move from sewing just being a time out and to a more social activity.  Plus I reckon I may even try to plan  some nature out-doorsy type sewing activity/event!  So if you live nearby and fancy getting in on something like this why not give me a shout!

Here is a quick photo of the heart the amazing Red Arrows crafted in the sky during the D-DAY events last week! Moments like these are filled with inspiration don't you think?

Also do share your inspiration seeking plans!  What do you do???

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Upcycling my things!

This week I look around at my sewing room and realized that although I think I am pretty good at taking old things and making them new I am not always good at taking my old things and making them new.  I have so much fabric that is cut too small to turn into a bag or purse.  I have scraps or fabric with tears or stains literally everywhere.  They are beautiful pieces of fabric but need to find a way to be used.
 Following on from my patchwork bag which I continue to be in love with I have been feeling the patchwork vibe! I spent a lovely afternoon after work last week chatting to a friend and cutting up fabric scraps into more usable scraps.
 I have now set about attaching them altogether to create a patchwork something!  Given how many scraps I need to work through I think it will probably result in being a quilt but currently I am keeping an open mind.
 So far my patchwork has been using new fabrics - patches that have been bought for me by friends.  But patchwork was originally about making do and mending!  Taking the odds and ends of old clothes, old bedding, leftover fabrics - anything really - and turning them into something useful and hopefully beautiful too!
 I intend to get going on that style of sewing for a while - so this is going to be my first piece of patchwork that truly uses odds and ends of fabric.  I'm pretty excited to see how it turns out!  It will definitely be something I pick up and put down so don't expect a finished product any time soon!
 As much as I love the other patchwork I have done that followed a pattern and theme I am starting to love the absolute randomness of it.  It feels somehow more authentic!  We will see how it looks on a bigger scale!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Patchwork love :)

At Christmas my lovely friend Ellie gifted me a beautiful collection of liberty fabric patches.  I had a great time adoring the lovely prints and colours and put them to one side awaiting some inspiration about what to do with them.  Last week I saw a gorgeous patchwork bag that had been shared on my wall and decided to fashion something similar to this.  I was supposed to be sitting down and sewing for my shop however felt totally like sewing for me so off I went!

Here are my lovely patches all laid out in their sizes ready to be stitched together.

The patchwork itself went really well - it's pretty simple to do especially if you aren't worrying about a pattern.  I went for bright is beautiful and random totally works!
 Once I got to the quilting of the patchwork it got a little bit more tricky.  After a few goes of stitching and unpicking I finally managed to match the stretch of the wadding with the patchwork - loads of pins later and I set off sewing.  

 And then continued to make it into this bag which is totally my new bag of choice for the summer!  I had a little facebook discussion about the best handles to use and finally settled on this bright blue which I'm really happy with! What do you think?

After a quick chat with a lovely lady who runs a stitch and chat session at a local church she has agreed to help me quilt my patchwork blanket. I figure for such a large blanket two hands and one expert is better than me on my own so watch this space I might finally finish my patchwork quilt!

Hope you're all well and as always thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mens Shirt to Cute Skirt

My husband just gave me a pile of shirts that have become surplus to his requirements because they are looking too old - usually round the collar or sleeves or have been stained somehow.  They are a perfect upcycling resource so I thought I would do a tutorial on how I took an old shirt and turned it into a cute and 100% usable skirt!

SO here goes...

You will need
A mans shirt
thread to match
I used a sewing machine but you could do it with a needle and thread
Tape Measure

1. I started off by measuring how long I wanted the skirt to be - I worked from my hips as I knew I was going to do a wide waist band.  Then I marked this line onto the shirt and cut along this line

2.Next I took the bottom piece of the skirt and sewed about 1cm away from the top edge all the way round from button to button hole.  This stitch is going to be gathered so if you are using a machine set it to the longest stitch length that you can and leave about 10cm thread on each end. 

3. Now take the bottom thread and gently pull - the fabric should start to gather and you can start to tease the gathers through the fabric until it matches your waist measurement.  It already looks quite cute right!

4. Now I need a waist band.  I wanted a nice line running down the skirt of the buttons so decided to use the front of the shirt as the waist band.  I cut out the front along all the seams therefore cutting the collar and sleeves off and then repeated for the back.

5. I then folded the fabric in half to create a neat top of the skirt.  I did this so that the two button holes matched exactly on each half.  I then removed the spare buttons and folded each fabric to match the first one.  I then trimmed the excess off to leave a neat rectangle.

6. I measured my waist and pinned the pieces of the waist band together at the sides.  This needs to be done right sides together.  If you have a mannequin use this to help you out. Simply pin it onto the mannequin to get the right size and then take it off and pin right sides together while the fabric is flat.  Sew along that line.

7. Now lay the waist band flat inside the skirt.  Put the right side of the waist band facing the inner side of the skirt and pin all along.  You must make sure that you line up the buttons at this point and this is also a great time to even up your gathers.  Sew just below your line of gathering stitch.

8. Now remove the pins and bring the waist band up.  Re-fold it over so that your button holes match exactly and then fold the raw edge upwards so that you have a neat fold over the top of your raw gathered edge.  At this point if you try it on your mannequin or you then you will see that having such a large waist band means it needs to come in again.  Take the centre back point and then fold in from each side of that point as if creating a pleat.  Pin.

9. Now sew all along your fold at the bottom of your waist band - be super straight as this is a top stitch that will show!  Then return to the pleat and sew the top of this.  It should look like this.

10.  Now trim your loose edges and there you have it a cute skirt - plus even though it has loads of buttons all you have had to do is straight line stitching - no button holes and no hand sewing on of buttons!  

I hope you have fun making yours - as always send me a picture and I'll give it a share!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Busy busy bee

Just realized it has been over a month since I last posted! I apologize for my silence and I'm afraid I cannot even say that I have been busy sewing!
Somehow time has disappeared - I've blinked and April's nearly through.  It's been good though filled with all sorts.  After some time with friends and family, a promotion, a new voluntary position, re-organization of the house and and an attempt to reclaim the garden for veggies I haven't had much time for stitching.
As things quieten down (in theory) I have a few plans for my sewing in the next few weeks.
- to start that pair of trousers I keep talking about
- to sew some more cushions for the lounge
- to make some more bits for my etsy shop and hopefully sell a few too
- to make time to sew with other people because I love that!

And now I've blogged all of that I have to do it right :-D Well watch this space and I'll keep you posted on how I get on!
What have your April makes been? Do share :-)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pink love!

I seem to have been super busy in the last couple of weeks - I can't exactly work out what has been keeping me busy but as you can see from the silence on my blog it certainly wasn't blogging!  My sewing machine had been sitting a little bit abandoned too so when a friend asked me to make her the clothes to wear with her saree I jumped at the chance.  The project forced me to prioritize stitching time and plus got to have a good old natter with her while I finished it off!
 I love saree fabrics - the bright and beautiful colours fresh from warmer climates fills me with hope for the summer (she says while listening to the rain pour down on the conservatory roof).  
 Chloe returned from India with the most beautiful saree that suited her so well!  It was filled with pinks and purples and some absolutely gorgeous embroidery and of course sparkle!
 I worked with a lining fabric to make a simple wrap around under skirt which is used to tuck the saree fabric into.  I had a little play around with darts and think I got them pressed out neatly and very evenly (the sewing bee judges would be proud!).
 I then started to work on the top.  I used another top that Chloe had made while she was in India as a guide.  I made this out of a thin purple and gold woven fabric.  It was pretty tricky to get used to working with - the weave meant that often the fabric would catch in the needle and the work was definitely slow and steady.  In the end I got used to how to work with this fabric and got going and it turned out pretty well!  Due to the scratchyness of the weave once we did the fitting I attached the lining fabric top into the woven top so that it was much more comfortable for wearing plus a bit warmer too!
 And here it is - didn't she look absolutely gorgeous!

 If you look closely you can see the gorgeous pendant that Chloe made - its filled with beads and carefully embroidered on!  If you love that kind of thing Chloe is busy beading and teaching workshops so pop over to see what she is up to on her website - you can always find her on facebook too!

  I loved doing something different, working with such beautiful fabric and making some clothes again - it definitely inspired me to start stitching more clothes!  I really enjoy it and the more I practice the happier I get with the outcome.  My aim is to make a pair of trousers in the next few weeks - I'm just looking for some fabric that I like!  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Time gone by

Following a bit of twitter chat on handmade hour the other week about our earliest sewing memories it got me thinking about what mine was.  How exactly did I start this random hobby?  As an extrovert who more often than not can't be kept quiet and certainly prefers people to solitude why would sewing be something that would have appealed to a young me?
 The truth is I'm not sure - there is just something very peaceful about it for me.  I enjoy the steadiness of the machine, I love the colours of the fabric, I love unusual things and I love the finished products.  Sitting on my own in a room may not come naturally to me but it has become something I treasure - stitching and snipping away to create something I love.
 The time that I got into sewing clothes was when I was at school - sewing with friends for a textiles GCSE and somehow I came up with the mad idea to make my prom dress.  It was before the time of so many people owning digital cameras so I don't have a picture.  It was a satin purple in a medieval style with flowing sleeves - definitely not the top fashion of the day but I absolutely loved it.  From that point I dabbled on and off with crafting until I made my wedding dress and then continued on from there.
 I had a good think though and realised that actually my earliest sewing memory was making this little chappy with my Mum.

I was given a little sewing pack and set about - probably one set of holidays - sewing him up.  I still think he is pretty good and definitely very cute!  I cannot remember how old I was but it would have been in primary school at some point.  I remember setting all the pieces out on my Mum's bed and her helping me figure out what went where.  Then I remember being very proud of the finished product - I can't remember much of the actual sewing process but it made me smile to think about this little duck.  Definitely a happy sewing memory for me!
What is your first sewing memory?  Can you remember sewing as a child or was it an adult hobby?  Do share your first creations with me!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Tablecloth skirt

I bought this table cloth from a charity shop a week or so ago for £3.50.  More than perhaps I would like to spend on a tablecloth 2nd hand but I couldn't leave it behind!  I love those yellow flowers too much!  I knew immediately what I would be doing with it so as soon as I had a spare evening I got going!

 To start I folded the circular cloth into half and repeated until it was folded in 8ths.  I measured how long I would like the skirt to be and then cut the point off so the cloth equaled to this length allowing 1.5cm seam allowance.  This cloth was already edged at what will become the bottom of the skirt so no extra seam allowance needed here!

Now I have a large circular piece with a whole in the middle.  I cut where I wanted the back seam to be and then measured the length of the fabric.  It was 80cm and I needed to half it.

I set about pinning my gathers.  I used 8cm per gather and folded it so that the 8cm became 4cm therefore by the time I had finished my skirt is half the length of when I started.  I used the same gathering as I did here so click on the link to get the full tutorial.  Once you have pinned your pleats run a line of straight stitching to hold them in place and press firmly.

 I then overlocked the raw edges which can be done with a zig zag stitch if you don't have an overlocker and ran a straight stitch down the back seam to join the skirt.  Laying the zip onto the seam I stitched that in and then opened the seam with an unpicker where the zip will do up.
 Now I added a bias binding waist band.  This can be made as thick or thin as you like - I really liked the little band on this skirt so I went for it.
 And here you have it the finished skirt.
 And the skirt on me . . .
 And with a little shake of the hips you see the full swing-y-ness of this skirt and the reason why I was so happy to find such a lovely circular fabric.  This is a skirt to go dancing in!  Today it shall simply accompany me to a lunch date with a friend but one day I shall take it for a proper spin!

I'm pretty happy with the result - 1.5hours work(if you can call it that as for me sewing is an absolute pleasure) and £3.50 later I have a fab new skirt - plus I can say - Yes I did make that :)
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Some fabulous Upcycling

I thought I would take some time to do a bit of a post about some of the fabulous upcyclers that I come across.  I keep finding the most amazing creations made from old or unused things so thought I would do a post to shout out to some of these fantastic artists. So here goes . . .

A gorgeous upcycle of a toddlers tunic made from an old top!  This is by xoxo grandma - just click on the link to pop across to a whole load of sewing fabulousness! I love the gathering on this and the belt is too cute!

A sweater from a charity shop to a gorgeous bag - the detail on this is fantastic!  Pop over to visit Gina at Gina's craft corner

Here is a bright funky skirt made from old jeans and trousers!  I think both will get loads more use now!  This is from angel joy - hippy chick a blog filled with a whole variety of thoughts and ideas!

A fab accessory to any outfit here!  Pop across to this link from Vicky over at her blog - lots of fun ideas to see!

A bit of a smarter upcycle here and executed so very well!  A bridesmaids dress into a cute skirt that can be dressed up or down!  Perfect from ChiChi - pop over and explore!

And in the tone of my last blog post here is another tutorial on how to upcycle t-shirts in pants!  These ones are for your little ones but it's adaptable to any size!  I love those teddy bears!  This is from Irene over at Serger Pepper - a fantastic seamstress with loads of ideas and trouble shooting thoughts!

And here is the most surprising upcycle that never would have occurred to me but totally works.  An umbrella upcycled into a bike bag!  Fabulous idea and complete with lights from Green Issues by Agy

And finally a bit of a different upcycle - jewellery made from spoons!  I love this - it is so creative and funky!
This comes from Callaloux Bikoux and you can buy these lovely things on facebook so pop across and say hi!

Well I hope you have enjoyed my little wander around some fellow bloggers work - I certainly have.  Do pop across to their blogs and shops and give them a follow or a like.  I think this post represents what I love so much about upcycling really well - reduce waste and be super creative and innovative while your at it!
 I hope you feel inspired - till next time! :)

Monday, 17 February 2014


 In my bid to buy ethically I went on an internet hunt for ethically produced knickers.  There are a fair few companies out there making some fabulous things but when I looked at the prices I knew it was just too much for me to spend on underwear.  Most pairs started at about £18 each so a weeks worth would cost me £126! Ouch!  know that fair trade is always going to cost more but what do you do when that more is just that bit too much for you to afford?

Well I have been doing a bit of a trial on making my own - I know crazy right!  My impression was that it would be incredibly fiddly and technical and generally an absolute nightmare!  Well apparently not - the hardest part about making knickers was the fact that my machine broke about every line of stitching I did!

I did a bit of a pinterest search and found this fab instruction sight from drumbellina.

So I set about chopping and stitching - I have some t-shirt fabric that I have not used up completely yet so thought I would do a bit of a trial run with that before I advance to more fancy fabric.

I changed the instructions slightly and instead of using pinking shears to edge I used my overlocker.  So here are my very rough test pair!

You can see on the top stitching where my machine is jumping a bit at the minute which doesn't give the greatest finish - but in general I'm happy with the result.  Although I am unlikely to use these and will keep them as a sample I did try them on and I have to say - super duper comfy!
The experiment has certainly inspired me to look out for some nice fabrics and finishes to add into the next lot that I make.  
Have any of you tried making underwear?  I'm definitely not about to start sewing bras just yet but am getting going in designing some funky knickers to start stitching!  Send me your pics of what you have sewn!
Hope you are all surviving the weather!

Monday, 10 February 2014


The past week or so has been about trying to re-imagine how I use my time - where do all those little pieces of time disappear to that could be used in a much more positive way.  I set myself a little challenge to actively avoid the tv and see how that went. 
I have to confess, quite ashamedly, to feeling mild panic about three days in when faced with a morning off.  The rain was pouring, I'd done gym already and I wasn't feeling particularly creative.  Obviously it was ridiculous to feel that way and I continued my day happily sewing and doing jobs round the house before work but it highlighted to me how programmed my mind is to think I need this box in front of me in order to relax.  Over Christmas I was surprised again at the number of ads flying through my mind each day.  I grew up without a tv and I realized I didn't know I was supposed to want to visit Disney land and therefore was quite happy with some fab family holidays in cottages and the countryside. I'm not sure I want a tv to dictate how I think so I continued to try to keep it off.  Now a week and a half in I feel great - I love the peace in the house, I love reading and listening to music.  I love eating dinner at the table instead of off my lap because that program I just have to see is on right now. We all know I love sewing so that's a given! ;-)  but I can say in all honesty I don't miss it in the slightest!
So for now my decision is definitely to keep the tv off - probably to remove it altogether in the long run - and try to explore some simple pleasures in life.
Have you made any changes in 2014 that you'd like to share? Do send me a message - maybe I'll look at a feature post of all of your transforming moments so far!
Till next time

Friday, 31 January 2014

Heart Bunting Tutorial

As I have been posting my heart bunting up on my etsy shop this week I thought some of you might fancy making some of your own.  I am loving heart bunting at the minute - and although we are approaching that time of year when the shops fill with heart themed products I am of the opinion that a bit of heart decoration and bunting is totally acceptable all year round.  So here goes - I hope you have fun!

What you need:
Fabric of your choice, stuffing, ribbon, heart template (or great free hand skills), needle and thread, scissors, pins and chalk or pencil.

1) Choose your fabric and cut it a little bit longer in height than your heart template to make for ease of cutting.

2)Like so . . . .

3) Now fold your fabric backwards and forwards until it is stacked in a square like you see in the picture.  You need to ensure you don't do too many hearts at once otherwise you won't get a neat shape - especially be aware of this if you are using thicker fabric.  Then pin your heart template onto your fabric and cut round it.  If you are going to make 4 hearts on your bunting then you must end up with 8  individual hearts cut out.

4) You then should end up with 4 pairs of hearts.  Place them right side of fabric facing towards each other.

5) Now mark where you want the ribbon to be on the hearts.  I chose towards the bottom of the curve as you can see.  You need to ensure you mark this in the same place on each heart to avoid a wonky garland.  Mark on both sides of the heart.

7)  Now cut out your strips of ribbon.  I was making 4 hearts so needed 2 longer pieces of ribbon and 2 shorter pieces.  The longer strips are for the edges so that it can be hung up and the shorter pieces go in between the hearts.  The length is your choice but I used about 10cm between each heart and 20cm for the 2 edge ribbons.

6) Now move across to your sewing machine if you are using one ( if not just set up on a flat surface).  Place your ribbon (long piece first)  in between your two heart pieces and leave a small piece out the edge where you have marked. Now start sewing from just below that point.  Once you have sewn over the ribbon I find it helps to take the long piece and bring it round to where you started sewing so there is no risk of accidentally catching it as you sew the edges.

8) Continue sewing round the edge of the heart until you get to 2 cms before your next mark.  Then take a shorter piece of ribbon and attach as instructed above and shown in the pictures.  Continue sewing round the heart and stop sewing about 2cm before you reach the first stitch you did.

9) You should end up with something that looks like this.

10) Use the ribbon to help you gently tease the heart out through that gap you left so that you have right sides of the fabric facing you and just a small section remaining to be sewn.  
You now need to repeat the above instructions on each heart.  Always remember to work out how the fabric will turn right side so that you get the ribbons attached to the right side.  For example if you want to attach a heart to the right hand side of the heart below the ribbon will be sewn into the right hand side of the next heart.  When you turn it right sides out you will have the ribbon attached to the left side of the second heart and sitting to the right hand side of the one below.

11)  So now you have this line of hearts all linked together and ready for filling

12) Now this is where you pop into a comfy sofa, stick the telly on and merrily fill your hearts with stuffing.  Once you have done this take your needle and thread and stitch the little gaps closed. Cut loose threads and there you have it you are done!

Please do share pictures of your heart garlands with me.  Either post them here or pop over to my facebookpage  and when you do I'll give them a share.  Have fun crafting!