Showing posts with label fabric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fabric. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Tunic top

Today I had some unexpected free time - glorious right!  I did some cleaning - made a few bits for selling and then decided I really needed to make something fun for me!
 I was given some gorgeous Nigerian fabric by a friend of mine a little while ago and it has been sitting in my fabric stash being sadly neglected.  So I decided to have a pinterest search for some inspiration.  I have a board on there called stitchspiration and seem to pin many things on there but not actually create any of them.  I set to work making this fab tunic top which I have had on there a while back.  The picture on pinterest looked super easy and it really did take me only about an hour to complete.
 Here is the link so do pop across and like, follow or comment on this blog it is fab!

Here is my finished project

What do you think?  I like the shape and the fit is good but there are a few things I would change for me.  I think I will adapt the sleeves on this top as they feel a little big to me - I will probably just create more of a defined sleeve.  The other thing I will do if I make this again is make the bottom flare out a bit more into a bit of a dress style.  Those things really are just personal preference though!  This is definitely a pattern I would recommend - especially if you are new to making clothes it is so simple!

Send me your pictures of how you get on!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pillow case to skirt

My love of making clothes/bags/gifts or anything really out of other abandoned things came more from a love of beautiful and unusual fabric than anything else.  My passion grew into a desire to see less waste and a choice to try to dress in more ethically sourced clothes.  On a tight budget and working for a small agency having just returned to the UK from a few years away I began to find treasures tucked in charity shops.  I realized what great outfits could be conjured up from a scrap of fabric, an old bed sheet or a discarded dress being sold off extra cheap because of the gaping hole in the shoulder.  And so my love of colours, sewing, fabric and clothes grew – and I spent many a weekend  nestled away cutting, pinning, gathering and sewing to make all sorts of creations.

So today I’m setting you a challenge.  Delve into the depths of your linen cupboard, head to your nans to rummage through hers or go on a charity shop/jumble/car boot sale rummage in search of the funkiest pillow case you can find.  I usually find you can pick one up for about 50p sometimes a bit more for a pair.   Today I found a matching pair for 60p – bargain!

And out of this you’re going to make a cute, gathered skirt!

What you need . . .
  • A pillowcase (2 for sizes more than UK14) in a pattern you love
  • A plain pillowcase or piece of fabric of similar size for the waistband (because I am using a pair I used the other side of the pillowcase)
  • A ribbon or strip of fabric that is about 15cm wide and 30cm longer than your hip measurement
  • Dressmakers pins
  • A sewing machine or a needle
  • Thread
  • An un-picker (not essential but helpful in any task involving salvaging fabric)

Measure around your hips (or waist if you prefer to wear your skirts there)
Take that number and make a note of it.  We will call that number X.  Now follow the formula below.
X ÷2 = Y
Y + X = T or the total length of fabric you will need
T ÷ 2 = F or the length your two pieces from step 2 need to be.

So let's go . . .

1. U npick the stitches that are holding the pillowcase together and pull
out all loose threads. Trim the edges that are unusable from
 previous stitching but try to only cut off what you have to.

4. Now set your machine (if you’re using one) so it is set to sew the longest stitch.  Using this setting sew along the top of the fabric two parallel lines ensuring they do not touch and are around 1 cm apart.  Ensure you leave threads at the start and end of your line of stitching that you will be able to get hold of. 

6. Now you have your gathering you need to take the measurement you took earlier-figure X - and ease out the fabric to equal that measurement.  Leave 4cm extra as this is where you will sew your seam.  Use your fingers to spread the gathering out so that it is even and the correct size for you.

9.  Now choose your fastening – I have done mine with a tie at the top to finish and a zip but you can add a button, zip or hook and eye – whichever suits you.  If you choose a tie just extend the waistband to a length that means you can tie a cute bow.
Take the open seam and put right sides together – do a straight stitch right up to where your fastening is.  If you have put in a zip this is where you would add it.  I will add a tutorial on how to insert a zip next week.

So there you have it a skirt sewn from a pair of pillow cases for only 60p!  Plus a happy day spent sewing!

Next week I'll do a tutorial on how to add in a zip so that if anyone chose this to be their fastening there won't be any confusion!

Happy sewing :)

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, 28 September 2013

Adding a little something

This week I've been busy stitching various bits and pieces for Christmas.  Some mini stockings and a few gifty pieces.  All of the thought to winter inspired me to turn my attention to my living room.
All of my furniture is second hand and starting to look somewhat tired.  I decided to attempt a bit of a dye job on the sofas to add some colour.  We live in a rental property so the walls are neutral and when we moved in the biggest and most comfortable sofa we could find was cream.  I love it - space for two to stretch out, just the right amount of squish and the right height - generally it's a great sofa.  That said there's only so much cream one person can take. 
  So I embarked on upgrading my sofa.  I bought dylons burlesque red which is a deep purple-red and looks gorgeous on the box.  Armed with a few boxes and lots of salt I stripped the fabric off the sofa.
  I have to admit it was a bit of a mission.  Dividing the covers into roughly equal loads.  Washing with dye.  Washing without dye and then drying all the covers.  I didn't dare to put them in the dryer in case they shrank so for a few days we had sofa covers draped from chairs and clothes horses all over the place.
The finished effect?  Well it certainly isn't completely progressional.  I think a larger machine would have allowed more movement in the fabric.  My tiny machine has left a bit of mottling and crease lines across the covers where it couldn't move enough.  I was concerned that I had ruined the sofa but once the covers were on I think it looks pretty funky.  It has a bit of an aged effect to it and I think the mottling blends in with the age of the sofa.  All in all I'm happy plus I've learnt some good lessons about dye and fabric.
  I feel inspired to play about more with colour and try to experiment with dye a little bit more - here's to some more experimental upcycling! :-) who knows maybe a little bit of art coming up.
Watch this space.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

oven mitt tutorial

This week I have been trying out a new pattern for me and making some oven mitts/pot holders.  It was all a bit of an experiment to be honest but I did a very wonky test run - got positive feedback so thought I would run a few up to sit on the table at an upcoming craft fair.

I got myself completely organised and set up a little production line so that I would - in theory - be super duper time efficient.  Unfortunately I wasn't as organised as I had thought and only had enough wadding for my test run and 2 more mitts.  So I did that many and will have to return to make the others later.  I'm proud of my good intentions but may have to work a bit harder on the pre-planning bit :)

If your going to do this project you will need

thread, patterned fabric, plain backing fabric, wadding, shape templates (can be printed out from internet), scissors, bias binding that compliments your patterned fabric and some pins.  I think this one is easier if you have a sewing machine but certainly doable without!

So this is how I did it:

I printed out templates of the shapes I had chosen - heart, star and flower onto plain paper.  I only have an A4 printer so made the shapes into halves and printed it this way.  I laid the straight edge onto the fold in the fabric, pinned and cut out.

I then repeated this step for backing fabric and wadding.  I then cut the backing fabric out a second time but this time cut the shapes in half along the fold line.

I laid the fabric in the order I wanted baking fabric then wadding and then pattered fabric and ironed. This is an important step as it causes the wadding to compress which makes it much easier to manage when sewing and cutting a fiddly shape.

Then take the two halves of the backing fabric and edge the straight seam.  I did this by over locking it and then folding over and running a straight line stitch along it.  When you do this ensure that you fold over on both halves the same side.  When you lay the two halves onto the back of your shape you should see no raw edges on either side.

Now pin together and run a straight line stitch all the way around the edge of your shape trying to ensure you catch all the layers into your stitch.

Once you have done this trim with scissors as close as you can to your line of stitching.  Remove any excess threads or pieces of wadding that are sticking out around the edges.

Now take your bias binding and fold around your shape.  This is the trickiest bit and requires you to take it slowly and ensure the binding is tucked tightly around the shape.

It should look something like this now.

As you can see I added a loop of fabric to the corner of each so that the mit could be hung up in the kitchen.  The idea of these is that they fold in half and your hand slips into the pockets.
 Trim all your edges and check carefully for if there are any sections of bias binding that you have missed with your line of stitching.  If there are you need to neaten that section up otherwise the mit will begin to look untidy very quickly when used.

So there you have it - a cute mit for handling those hot pots and pans.  I think it would brighten up a kitchen but is also a cute idea for a gift.

I found that the flower became very tricky because of the tight curves so I kept sewing the bias binding without all of the layers in it when I hit the corners.  I'll keep trying but didn't end up with a neat enough product to photograph this time.  Maybe next week!

As always I have made these out of reclaimed fabrics so they are ethical and environmentally friendly.

Happy stitching :) 

ps. it was lovely to climb up into my organized craft room this weekend so I have many good intentions to become an organised crafter - watch this space :) 

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!  

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I love a bit of upcycling

I love a challenge and I especially love an up-cycling challenge.  I went to visit a friend this week who was given a cute t-shirt with a picture of a guinea pig on it.  Given her love for her own little pigs this was a great gift but the shirt was too big for her.  So rather than let the shirt sit in the wardrobe for years or end up being used as a night shift we agreed a bit of intervention was required.

Here is what I started with

What a cute face! :)

The issue I had with this project was just how big the face actually was.  Removing any part of the face distorted the photo so I knew the bag was going to have to be pretty big.  I decided to add some t-shirt fabric in a neutral colour that I already had and curved the edges to reduce the size a little bit.
 This is the finished product

I embraced the size and went with it in the end with some chunky handles and side panels to make it have a bit of depth.  This bag will be a perfect companion on days out to the beach or heading to the shops.  As I was creating for I reckon this could be a perfect bag to carry her beads and projects around in!  Check out her site there are some wonderful pieces on it!

I'm pretty happy with it and think it totally proves you can always make something usable from the things in your wardrobe!

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, 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!

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 :)

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 :)