Showing posts with label sew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sew. Show all posts

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Cardigan upcycled from a skirt!

This week has been a slow sewing week for me - filled with good intentions after a lovely birthday weekend I came down with a cold and resigned myself to making it through work and settling on the sofa when I was at home.  That said I did continue to work on the project using my Grandmas' old skirt.
 She didn't want it anymore and kindly gave it to me to use as fabric.  I loved the swirls and the general print and originally thought I would just make it into a skirt that fitted me.  But then I saw someone sporting a fabulous jacket made from a similar pattern and was immediately inspired.

I lay out my fabric - trimming the edges and the waist band to see how much use-able fabric I had left.  Despite my grand ambitions to do something structured I realised fast that I needed to change that plan because skirts actually aren't that big.

I decided instead to go for a smaller version of the slouch cardigan that you can check out here

I followed the pattern from my original cardigan but made it about 25" by 35".  Once I tried it on I realised I needed to take out some of the length because the sleeves had way too much fabric in them for being such a cropped cardigan.  I snipped away and ended up with this!

So easy - so slouchy and so comfy - which if I am really honest is super important for me when it comes to clothes.  I've already worn it to work, out for a coffee and just as a quick throw on jacket as I head out the door when the suns out.

This is why I love upcycling - an old skirt that is no longer wanted and doesn't fit turned into something useful, wearable and funky.  

Next project has to be something more ambitious but I have to fearing ruining some of my gorgeous fabric.  Watch this space to see what happens next . . .

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!

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!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Tunic top

This week after a little review of my wardrobe I decided it was time to invest some time making some clothes for me.  I have this fantastic floral fabric I bought from a charity shop and have already used some of it to make a bag.  It is really 60's so I decided to go with a light - easy - breezy tunic.  Tunics are so simple to make and I love them.  They look great, they are comfortable to wear and if your using bright fabric they can really make a statement.

I didn't have a pattern so I used another top to get the sizing right.

I drew round this top adding some extra fabric to create a shoulder and also allowing about 1.5cm for a seam allowance.  I also flattened the neck line out at the back.
These were the pieces I had for the top part.  One for the front and two for the back.  Really simple to shape as I just relied on the outline of my last top.

I cut out sleeves from another pattern I had (I have never been great at doing my own sleeves - something to work on) and then set to work.  Using an overlocker to bind the seams I sewed shoulder to shoulder together and then the side seams before adding the sleeves.  I added a small gather to each sleeve which works really well but I actually added it in because I didn't quite measure out right and ended up with sleeves a bit bigger than the arm hole.  The finished effect I am pleased with though.  
I then used bias binding the edge the top.

I curved the back to create a neat edging and then finished the bias binding about half way down before closing the seam up.

Then I cut two more pieces the same size as each other.  I decided on my length, added 1.5cm for seam allowance and then took my top measurement and multiplied it by 1.5.
I gathered the two pieces so the width now matched the width of the top, sewed the side seams and then overlocked the top piece and bottom piece together.

Then I just added some bias binding to divide the top a little bit and a cute button to finish the top.

I closed off my seams and I was done - here you have it.

I wore it out today and felt really comfortable in it - I plan to make a few more tunics in the next few weeks.  While making this one I found a fab old pattern that used to belong to my Mum which is for some great tunics with sailor tops and some fabulous flares so I might get onto them!
Watch this space for how I continue to funk up my wardrobe!  This new tunic probably cost me £1.50 as I still have half the fabric left and it cost me £3 to buy.  What a bargain plus the pleasure of making it included in that price!
Do share the things you make for yourself in the next few weeks!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A little bit of assistance!

Doing this blogging thing is opening my eyes to a whole world of technology that I had no idea existed!  With the help of the lovely Emma from It's Emma Made I now have a blog button and know how to add in other fantastic blogs that I find in my wanderings around crafty internet world.  I'm going to start gathering a few of my favorite blogs and posting their buttons along the side.  I'm working on the theory that if you enjoy what I write about you might also enjoy the things I read about!  So pop across and get to know some of the blogs I add over the next few weeks and if you want to grab my blog button the script is just below it!

The other achievement of the week also came from a fellow blogger Irene over at sergerpepper
With some advice from Irene and some time invested on my part my sewing machine is back!  To be fair it remains towards the end of its life but it has been given a new lease of life for now at least which buys me the time to start saving and dreaming about the next one I get!

It turned out the main issue was a hugely embarrassing amount of lint build up in the machine.  I unscrewed everything that appeared to be detachable and armed with cottons buds eradicated every last piece of fluff.  Some fiddling around with tension and putting the machine back together and I can feel and hear the difference!  I had been under the impression that I was cleaning my machine regularly but clearly I needed to go to a whole new level to keep the machine in tip top condition.

Well a massive thank you to those who have helped me out this week!  Hopefully I can return the favour in a different context in the future!

I'll post over the weekend a gorgeous backpack that I'm making out of some truly bright fabric that used to be a bed sheet! :)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Bunny doorstops

Now I have finished my craft fair and a few other bits and pieces it leaves me open to concentrate on projects that I have promised to friends for a long time.
 A friend asked me a month or so ago about making my bunny softies in to doorstops.  We agreed some fabric and off I went to forget about it for ages until finally today I found some time to have a play!  Luckily I had half done this one already so no need for my sewing machine!
 So how did I do it?  I took the template that can be found here and cut out the fabric of my choice and a lining fabric.  I then made an oval out of both my lining and my choice fabric.  The oval needs to be the length of the base of the bunny from toe to tale :)

Then I simply placed the choice fabric right sides together and stitched round placing the oval between the toe and the tale.  I left a full line between the toe and the tale open on one side.  I repeated with the lining.

Then I had a bit of a fiddle - first filling the lining with rice, giving up on that and attempting to skip the lining and then going back to my original plan. So I put some rice into my choice fabric right up to the ears to maintain the shape and then slotted the lining inside. I poured in rice until it was pretty full and then I had stitched the lining closed.  I then added some extra rice into the cheeks of the bunny and around the neck to stop it from slouching down when the rice in the lining shifted position.  I lined the base of the bunny with pennies and then folded over the fabric and stitched tightly together.
This is the finished product.

To be honest once I have fiddled around some more I may well end up making my friend a new one as this is by no means perfect but as a first doorstop attempt I am pretty happy with it.  I can see why so many doorstops are one block like shape with an image sewn on rather than a shape as it is pretty tricky to shape it correctly.

In my house rice and a few coins are plenty heavy enough but if you lived in a house that had self closing fire doors I think it may not quite be enough and you would need to use something like sand that had more weight in it.

Have you got any unusual doorstops?  Or ideas for the next one I make?  Let me know :)

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

An ode to my sewing machine

So this week has involved a lot less sewing and a lot more chilling which in a way has been nice - unfortunately my trooper of a sewing machine seems to have given up on me at last.  My parents bought me my sewing machine as a present when I was doing textiles at school.  It's a basic Toyota model and probably should have died years ago.  When I started making my wedding dress I thought for sure it wouldn't keep up but it did and slowly I did more and more projects on it. 12 years, 2 wedding dresses, 2 bridesmaids dresses, 1 prom dress and countless projects later I think it has finally died.  So it is hand stitching for me for a bit until I save up some pennies to get a new one!

I don't have pictures of my prom dress but here is a little ode to my sewing machines happy life over the last 5 years or so!  :)

Before my machine died on me I was sent a collection of odds and ends of fabric that a friend had.  This is what I sent her back!

Truly a lesson never to throw away that bag of scraps of fabric because you never know what could be dreamt up and created.  Two quilted stockings for her beautiful two children, a heart garland and two zipper pouches for those bits and pieces that don't belong anywhere .

I'll be on the look out for hand sewn projects, maybe a bit of knitting and possibly some activist cross stitching in the next few weeks!  Watch this space - as always I'll share all! 


Tuesday, 5 November 2013


As the weather has started to turn colder I realized that my slippers are well and truly worn through.  So I decided to make my own.  They turned into more lined slipper socks than actual slippers with a sole but to be honest I'm pretty happy with them!  I realize more and more that I love turning something that is previously useless into something cute and useful.  I bought a cardigan from a charity shop for £2 some time ago.  I loved it but despite taking care to put it on a woolen cycle at a low temperature I managed to shrink it to the point of looking ridiculous when I attempted to wear it.  The shrinking had made the wool kind of felt like so I decided this was my perfect slipper material.

So this is where I started and where I ended up.

So how can you make your own?  To be honest this really was a simple project - I didn't measure anything and simply used the shape of my foot as a guide - not so helpful if you want to make them as gifts but for this project it was perfect for me.

1. I chose a lining fabric - I used a stretchy t-shirt fabric that I had - and fold over your foot pinning along the bottom.  The fit should be comfy and not too tight so as to make it restrictive.

2. Once you have pinned lining for both feet remove your foot and trim along the line of pins.  Then sew this line with a neat running stitch.

3.  Check that your lining sock fits your foot once it has been sewn and all pins removed. Repeat steps 1 & 2 with your outer layer of fabric ie felt, wool or something that will keep you warm.  Because I was using a cardigan I simply used the sleeves as the top of the slipper sock. I inserted my foot into the sleeve and pinned the shoulder area of the arm round my foot using the pre-formed sleeve edge as a neat top to my slipper.

4. Now you want to turn the outer sock so that the seam is inwards and leave the inner sock so the seam is facing outwards.  Now insert the inner sock into the outer sock.  Fold the top of the inner sock down so that all raw edges are hidden and stitch along this edge.  My socks sat neatly at the top but if yours are too loose you can add a stretch of elastic around the top of your sock to hold them up.

5.  I used wool and simply did some stitches to create a face.  This is an area where I'm sure every one of you can out do me on free hand creative skills but I have to admit I am quite fond of my little faces.  I'm considering adding some ears!

6. Now the next step is where I discovered a new product
According to google this works perfectly to enable you to create non-stick treads - so yesterday I popped off to John Lewis and spent £2.40 on a bottle of this.  It takes a long time to dry and I would recommend allowing a little longer than the specified 24 hours - particularly now that the weather is so cold.  But its pretty effective and has turned my quick slipper sock upcycle into a much more finished and less slippy project.

With some practice I think you could get quite fancy with the designs you used as treads - I played it safe on this occasion and just went for splodges focused on the toes, ball of the foot and heel.

All in all this project has been a fun one and I enjoyed pinning my feet into fabric and stitching to create slippers out of a ruined cardigan.  I'm now trying to decide what to do with the rest of it!

Have fun stitching and please do share your adventures with me!  If you send in some pics I'll do a section featuring all of your designs.

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 :)

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!