Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Birthday Love . . .

I have become another year older and in celebration of that fact so many friends and family have showered me with love.  Some of that love came in the form of gifts and I have to admit that if I didn't know it already I certainly know now that sewing must occupy a fair amount of my conversations.  There was a certain sewing theme around many of the gifts I received so I thought I would do a little show case of the loveliness.  I also gave the blog a little spruce up to mark the occasion - what do you think?
First off are the lovely patterns that I was given this year - so exciting to be able to use these for many years to come!

 I now have such a super array of patterns to choose from I am really not sure where to start.  The sewing bee was absolutely right up there in the best programmes to watch for me and I am just as impressed with the book.  A huge amount of patterns from the very simple to quite complex is crammed into the book - in fact the only thing missing was a pair of woman's trousers.  How very convenient to have also been gifted a lovely pattern for them!  I have the Prima pattern for trousers already but really wanted to make a more fitted pair as well.  This pattern is perfect for just that.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Slouch cardigan

A lovely afternoon spent wandering resulted in me discovering some fantastically blue fabric in a charity shop.  It was reduced to only a pound so I went for it and began to plan the fabulous things I would make from it.  Pinterest to the ready and off I went.  I found this fantastic pattern for a super comfy slouch cardigan. If you decide you fancy giving it a go you can find the pattern here from True Bias.

The pattern seemed pretty straight forward so off I went - 2 simple rectangles, a bit of shaping and I find myself already at the sewing machine.

It really was nice to just have to cut this much out before sewing.
As I got to work I realised how much this fabric would fray and actually a much more complex pattern might have been a nightmare to work with.  This is what my overlocker looked like after a few seams being done. Super fluffy!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Weekender bag from a duvet cover!

I was recently lent a pattern to make a weekender bag.  Now I have a sewing machine that works I am finding my enthusiasm for trying more challenging projects is growing.  So I sat down a few weeks ago to begin the challenge.

I decided to use the same striped fabric that I had used for my cushions earlier in the month - basically because I just loved it so much!  The whole bag is quilted including the straps which made it a lot more time consuming than I had originally anticipated.  But I got my walking foot set up on the machine and after a bit of you tubing to understand how a walking foot actually works I set off on the quilting.

I am super impressed with how much easier it is to do quilting with the correct set up on the machine.  I was sewing fabric, wadding and another layer of fabric and it was pleasingly obedient.  After a good block of time quilting I was able to start on the construction.  I over locked everything using the stitches on the machine rather than my over locker (just to try them out :) ) and then was able to use straight stitches to join the pieces together.  The actual construction of the bag was pretty straight forward.  Lots of straight lines and the instructions I had borrowed as well as being able to see what someone else had made led to a pretty straight forward sewing job.

And here it is - stripey and proud.  I love the way the handles go right underneath the bag making it super secure.

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???

Thursday, 2 January 2014


So it's 2014!!! I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of new years.  The evening itself tends to lean towards people going over the top and I've never been a big new years resolution kind of person.  That said I have learnt the benefits of a bit of self reflection and planning some goals for the future so this year I'm trying to embrace it a bit more.

2013 saw the start of blogging for me and also starting to sell one or two bits and pieces that I make.  It's been fun and I think in terms of my crafting I want 2014 to look much the same.  I have some thoughts - they aren't exactly measurable new years resolutions but more a general direction I would like to see things head in this year.

 I want to make sure I take time out regularly to make something new or try a new technique.  I have learnt that I am not so good at re-producing en mass lots of the same thing (I get bored far too easily and end up distracted).  I ended up doing this for the craft fair and I have much more fun tweaking things each time I make them.  

 I also want to keep blogging and build up a network of people that follow me/I follow to keep sharing new and exciting ideas.  I really do enjoy sitting down to write and share with you all what I'm thinking or getting up to.  Plus to help each other out when we get stuck!

 I also want 2014 to be a year where I think a little less about myself and try to look at what is going on around me - in the city where I live, in my country and in the world.  I still have to figure out exactly what this looks like but I'll be sure to share with you as I get more clear on how it is right for me to do this!  If this had a crafty twist to it as well then I'd be pretty happy!

It would be nice to sell a few bits and pieces as I go along over on etsy or on facebook but I don't want to make this the focus of what I do.  I went shopping before Christmas and got some new to me fabric and it was super exciting to spend money that had been made from selling things I make.  So if I could sell enough products that mean it doesn't cost me anything to sew then that would be awesome.  Anything else would be a bonus!

So there you have it - a little bit scatty but a few thoughts for the year - I'm sure there are many other things like getting the garden going and being healthy but with the current deluge of rain outside all I can think about is curling up indoors so for now I just have sewing on the brain!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces from 2013.

I hope you all had a wonderful new year and are starting to feel settled again after the madness!  Do send me your projects from 2013!  I'd love to see what you got up to.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

SO how did it go???

When I set out to write this blog I spoke about a running, crafting and gardening combined with less time in front of the TV and more positive activity.  Looking back I feel pretty happy with how it has all gone!
 I planted some successful and some unsuccessful veg in the garden - spinach and butternuts failed but had crops of runner beans right up until last week.
 The running went great - I did the race for life and then staggered through the great south run.  Since then I have to confess I have not stepped outside for a run but I have joined a gym and have been going along and enjoying exercising in the less freezing temperatures - combined with a warm pool and working hairdryers makes me very happy.  I do like to be warm!
 The crafting has been wonderful - I have been stitching with quite some dedication and managed to gather a whole table full of stock to take along to the craft fair yesterday.

 Financially the craft fair was not a success for me to be honest - I sold a few pieces but not lots so returned home with nearly all my bits and pieces.  So what has been good?
 - Since sharing more of what I sew I have been in contact with a variety of crafty types and upcyclers from all over the world via various social media sites.  I've learnt from them, marveled at their achievements, shared some of their struggles and loved looking at all their gorgeous crafts.
 - I've made sewing a part of my life in a way that it wasn't before which means I make more things for more friends because they see me sewing things and I love doing this!
 - I met fantastic people at the craft fair
 - Doing the craft fair has given me time to think about and realize what my USP is - upcycling - and to consider how to make this appealing to others.
 - The time I spend in front of my sewing machine is simply wonderful - I sit and think, I sing along to songs, I listen to stories and generally just take time out for me to process and deal with various things going on in my head.

I think in summary it has been wonderful to move through my life in the last few months with a bit more purpose than simply ticking days off of a calendar.  By setting goals and working towards them I have used my time more wisely and done more than I had in the previous months.  By sharing my goals I feel somehow driven to achieve them by my own desire to do well.  By sharing my moments that aren't quite as successful as I would like them to be I feel I am able to hold my head higher - not keep secrets and pretend that everything went exactly as planned but instead embrace the reality of where things are at and get excited about moving forwards with input from others.  These things are all on a very small level - after all the goals I set were really just about spare time - but for me the lessons I have learnt have been so very applicable to every part of my life.

So where next?  I definitely plan to set myself more goals in the future - I think I will begin with some new years resolutions in January (more on that in a future blog).  I definitely plan to keep crafting, exercising and I have to say I have fallen in love with blogging.  It is evolving slowly into a type of crafty journal with anything I experience thrown in - but anyone who knows me will verify it never was going to be a hugely focused blog on one single topic as that just isn't how I operate!

So watch this space for a few bits in my etsy shop and some new adventures coming up!  Thanks for coming along on my journey - its ace having you on board!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Putting yourself out there

So this week I have taken the opportunity to finish some patchwork products that I have been working on.  I love the finished effect of patchwork but it is time consuming and my machine has fought against the quilting it at every turn.  But I have battled on and here are some of the pieces I have made.

The stocking is fully lined so it can be used for filling with fabulous surprises for someone this Christmas and the other two pieces are purely decorations.  
  It has been fun to try something different and continue with new techniques and approaches to try to create things that are always changing and evolving -reflecting mood, seasons, weather or a theme.  For this week that technique was patchwork.  
 I have seen many inspirational patchwork pieces by people who have clearly spent hours and hours perfecting this skill.  They use a perfect maze of fabrics and shapes and bring them together to create something that is just mind-boggling.  I know a few people who are experimenting successfully with making hexagon quilts and it looks fabulous.  But for me - for now - I stuck with squares - also very effective - but not quite a tricky as some of the other shapes that people opt for.  Overall I'm really happy with how they have all turned out and particularly love the stocking!
  These three pieces will be the first that I have put out there for public scrutiny.  I've signed up for a facebook showcase called A winter Wonderland where crafters show 3 products that they are selling. 
 I didn't really start sewing to sell things and I didn't start blogging to get loads of followers.  I love sewing and I love writing - the two seem to have fitted together nicely to be honest and I really enjoy sharing the things that I have made.  I've signed up to a charity craft fair and this showcase because it seemed the natural next step to continue sharing my love of creating (and talking ).  But putting yourself out there is scary - it's inviting criticism and judgement.  Inviting people to choose not to like the things that you have spent time creating.  Of course it also invites recognition and praise and all the things that make putting yourself out there worth it.  So I have shared my pictures on the showcase with a mixture of excitement and nervousness - not really sure if this is the right step but at the same time not having lost anything by trying.  I'll continue crafting and blogging whatever happens because I love it and that is what I have to remember!
 I'll keep you posted on how it goes and please do leave me your feedback!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pleats tutorial

Hi all
What a rainy weekend it has turned out to be!  I have spent much of my time at work so am hoping it will rain itself out as I head towards some much needed time off!  Though I would take some time this morning to blog my tutorial on pleats.

I love pleats - they are cute and look gorgeous when done right.  I love the shape they add to clothes and as you saw in my last post I've started to use them in bags as well.  They can be adapted to any style you like and any shape or size so for me it is a must in your stash of sewing skills.

So what will you need - your fabric of choice, dress pins, a tape measure, tailors chalk, iron and a needle/sewing machine and thread.

1.  You need to measure the length of your fabric and decide how big your pleats will be.  I chose 2cm pleats to be every 4cms.  This means that in total I will need 10cm per pleat because the fold uses 3x2cm of fabric.  To work this out for your pleats take the size you chose for your pleat, times it by 3 and then add this figure to the gap you want between pleats.  I marked this out along the top of the fabric using pen so you can see it but you will want to use tailors chalk that won't mark or run ink over your fabric.
So I have marked 0cm then 4cm then 8cm then 10cm.  Then I repeat this again until I reach the end of the fabric.

2. You now want to start folding the fabric to create the pleats.  You want to take the 8cm marking and bring it over the the 4cm marking
This should mean that the 10 cm marking sits just on the fold leaving you with a neat 2cm pleat.  Pin this with the pin pointing up towards the edge of your fabric.  Then you repeat the step taking the 8cm back to the 4cm and pinning until you reach the end of your fabric. You should be left with something a little like this.
As you can see it creates a nice curve to the fabric which is why pleating is often used for skirts - it perfectly sets up the waist band.

3. Now you want to press this out.  This is a really important step if you want your pleats to sit nicely.  The fabric should naturally show you how long the pleats fall - if you want a full pleat all the way to the bottom of your fabric you need to ensure you measure the pleats all the way down otherwise they will loose some of their shape.

4. Finally you run a straight stitch along the top of the fabric and remove your pins.  While you are sewing check that the pleats aren't folding up under your machine foot (if your using a machine) and adjust as you got to ensure they are going through the machine perfectly flat.

Now you add this to your skirt or bag or whatever it is that you are using it for.  This is a skirt that I made a year of so ago out of round table cloth.  I used pleats to bring it in to fit me at the waist and it gives the skirt such  a full feel - perfect for twirling I have to say :)

If you decide you want to do box pleats you follow the same idea except you turn the folds round.  SO the first fold you would bring the 8cm to the 4cm mark.  Then you would swap and bring the 4cm to the 8cm and continue alternating to create a boxed look on your product.

Have fun experimenting and as always give me a post of anything you produce!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Back to it!

In recent weeks I have been busy making all sorts of bits and pieces in preparation for an upcoming craft fair.  It's been fun and I have loved how productive I can be when I am making such small thing.  But with London Fashion Week going on and watching what some people have been up to creating outfits out of donated clothes I realized I miss making clothes!

  Oxfam Fashion and Back of the Wardrobe collaborated today to recreate the styles that were being sent out on the runways.  All their styles were made from pieces in the charity shop!  It is inspiring and shows that it can be done - we don't have to spend huge amounts of money or accept un-ethical shops to wear clothes of a certain style or trend. Here is a link to a picture of one of the styles they re-created but check out the full story on twitter.

I love clothes but I hate so much of what clothes represent in our society - exploitation of others, disposable society and pressure to conform.  That is just one of the reasons I love charity shop shopping so much.  But I'm also creative and I love to change things to fit who I am.  So back to it I went today.

A lovely chat over tea and cake with a friend, a speedy peddle home on my trusty bike just beating the rain and I headed up to my attic - let the fun begin!

This was my starting piece - something I got well over a year ago and intended to re-create it for a friend.  It has sat buried in my sewing pile for ages - finally it was time to get stitching and give it some life again!

A cute vintage fabric with a nice skirt and button down top.  Unfortunately for the person this dress is intended for the large size is too big and I generally wanted it to be given a bit of an edge.

I cut the sleeves and edged them to create a slight shoulder - adding a cute button on each one to finish it off.
I then added the fabric I had removed from the sleeve to the collar to give it a neater look.  I took the sides in and added a fabric belt to be tied round the waist.

Here is the transformation!

A fitted dress which maintains its vintage style while showing off a bit of body shape and complimenting the figure!  I'm happy with it and really enjoyed my afternoon crafting clothes again!  Once I give this dress away I will try to get pictures of it being worn by a real person! :)

Let me know what you think and send me your upcycle projects!  

Thursday, 5 September 2013

I love sewing but writings pretty great too!

I love sitting down and sewing! I think anyone who knows me or read this blog once or twice would realize that pretty quickly! Fabric - colour - prints - new projects - ideas - finished projects - I love it all!  I started doing the blog because it was mentioned by a number of people and I thought it might be fun - what I didn't realize was quite how much I would enjoy it.

I try to write once or twice a week and other than a little blip seem to be having reasonable success in this area.  I actually look forward to putting everything to one side and sitting down to write.  I was concerned at first that blogging would become another thing on a never ending to-do list, just a chore to tick off but it has turned into the opposite.

How rarely do I stop and take time to reflect on what I am doing? How little time do I spend considering my next step?  I fly quickly from thing to thing and suddenly I am making time to sit and think - to write about what I'm thinking or what I've made this week.  I'm finding that time out energises me and gives me space to enjoy the things that are going on around me.

I've also been amazed at the sudden connection with other like minded people spread out over the web.  Sharing their skills, questions and advice with one another.  Celebrating the skill and talent that each one brings.  It's been brilliant!  Social networking - when used to celebrate one another - is really good fun!

So what am I saying? I guess I'm just writing today to express my realisation that I'm loving blogging.  So thank you to all of you who read, comment, like and share the things I've been putting up! It really does put a smile on my face and I love hearing from you all!

This weekend I'm planning to take some time to craft with the new fabric I got yesterday and as the weather's meant to turn I'm imagining being tucked up in my attic with the rain beating down on the windows.  Whatever I make though I'll be sure to blog about it!

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!

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 :)