Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sundress Sew-a-long

I recently discovered that Handmade by Heather B is hosting a sundress sew-a-long from 1st July to August 31st and I think I want to take part! Two months should be a doable timeframe, especially when taking my work shifts into account.

I've bought a few vintage patterns on eBay recently, so now I just need to have a think about which fabrics to use. Part of me feels that I should use a modern pattern though, as they tend to have much fuller, detailed instructions which will make the process a lot easier!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Matilda Cushions

I realised that despite blogging about going on a sewing class to make these, I never actually posted any photos of the finished items!

I made one of these at a beginners sewing class back in October through The Stitching Boutique in Cardiff. I really enjoyed the class and it was such a relief to find out that my self taught sewing was actually along the right lines! I upgraded from a 15 inch to 17 inch cushion and to a softer, luxurious feel cotton from the Roald Dahl fabric range. 

As I'd upgraded and bought a metre of the £12.50 p/m fabric for £10, I still had enough left to make a second. I left it initially, then back in March I went to another masterclass with Tamzin, to make a tote bag. While there I bought a cushion insert for £2.50 and that night I went straight home, said hello to Craig, wolfed down my tea and locked myself in the spare room to make a second cushion. 

It was a very quick, easy make. I cut out one 19 inch square piece of fabric, then a longer rectangle to allow a 3 inch overlap. I cut the pieces consecutively out of the fabric and I'm so pleased with the pattern matching - look at Matilda's foot! It was unintentional but I'll take it all the same! :D

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

New Patterns

Just a quite round up of some recent pattern purchases. I really need to invest in a database/app of some kind to keep them all organised. I currently have all my vintage patterns stored in individual poly pockets in two box folders, but I've outgrown them and need a third now! Perhaps I should have a third box that only contains newer, modern patterns?

McCall's recently had a pattern sale where each pattern was $3.99 - brilliant stuff! Postage & packaging was $15 to ship to the UK, so I had to limit myself to 3 or it tipped me into a higher weight category and P&P increased to $25.

I made sure to buy the famous M6696 which so many lovely bloggers have sewn up. I'm jumping on the shirtdress bandwagon and trying to find something to sew that will match the love I had for a sleeveless cream heart polka dot shirtdress I bought in New Look about 3 years ago. I wore the dress almost daily as it was just the right amount of casual but also knee length so looked good during the day and night. Unfortunately I fried it in my tumble dryer when I was insistent on wearing it to a houseparty and had left it too late to wash and allow to dry on the line. Paid for that one big time, it shrank by a good 10cm and is now indecent if not worn with thick leggings. Hopefully I can sew a worthy alternative between M6696 and M6891.

I also bought these two Butterick patterns from the opening sale of I picked up some buttons, Gutterman thread and these patterns for a decent amount. They have had several good pattern sales since opening - there's an up to 50% Burda pattern sale on until July 15th atm.

I really like the shape and neckline of the Lisette dress, plus I bought another shirtdress pattern (did I mention getting slightly obsessed with recreating a certain dress?!)

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


In a moment of madness, I asked Craig to skip my birthday present and buy some fabric for me to make us some curtains instead.

I'm pretty sure we both wished I'd said something else as it turns out that curtains are very expensive to make - in both time and money! We didn't do any of it in a straightforward fashion either! We called into the fabric shop (Calico & Co.) on a whim on our way home. We picked out the fabrics fairly quickly but sensible heads kicked in and I insisted we go home to measure rather than impulse buying the wrong amount of fabric. I'm so glad we did as I would have completely underestimated the amount we needed!! We then went back but the shop had closed, so had to wait a few days before going back. I was on nights and overslept so we had half hour before the shop closed, it got a bit frantic!

I used the brilliant tutorial and calculator provided by We're In Stitches. The blog posts were quite easy to follow, although I did supplement them with another blog or two when it came to checking I'd folded the fabric correctly for blind hemming and folding down the corners of the curtains.

So what did we buy? Seven metres of a £8.99 p/m green Ikat style fabric from Sandown & Bourne, an additional 7 metres of lovely soft, lining to match it. Oh, and 15(!) metres of another fabric we found in the discounted section marked down from £12.99 to £8.99 p/m. We also bought 15 metres of blackout lining for that as I will be making 3 pairs of curtains from it in order to furnish both bedrooms. Our guests will no longer be blinded by the light in the morning!

I was actually really intimidated at the thought of cutting into £280 worth of fabric! I had to break it down into smaller amounts in my head, so I decided to start on the green fabric which has a pattern repeat of only 10cm and therefore much more manageable than the other which has a 60cm repeat. We also had guests arriving for my birthday BBQ on the weekend and I wanted to get the lounge curtains done so that we'd have a prettier living room. When we moved in, there was a red voile curtain but we prefer proper curtains. Craig had an old pair of velvet style curtains that I washed and it was the death of it - it was constantly shedding red fibres every time it got moved. We had them for over 2 years but it was time for them to go!

So, it only took me 14 hours (and a serious invisible thread machine jam that I didn't think Craig would be able to fix), but I got them done! I started off by making 2 mini practice curtains out of some scrap fabric. This photo shows my usual set up - tablet showing the tutorial or instructions for whatever I'm working on, blasting out Spotify tunes or playing Nashville (awesome, new obsession) or The Good Wife if I'm on an easy bit of sewing!

It took me 3 goes to get the hang of blind hemming but I'm quite pleased with the final results. The blind hem foot that came with my new machine is brilliant! Nice to get use out of the different feet too, I was a bit concerned I was overbuying by investing in a machine I might never get full use out of. I also got the chance to use my overcasting foot and used an overcasting and hemming foot as the green fabric frayed like hell every chance it got. I think it's a very heavyweight cotton/linen type fabric, the roll wasn't labelled unfortunately. 

My camera can't handle the different extremes of the exposure required to get a decent photo unfortunately. The last photo is an acurate colour representation though :D Feel like I've been typing excuses for my camera a lot recently as it failed to properly capture the purple fabric of a zipper pouch too but it was a cheapy £30 bargain from eBay at the start of my course for nights out. I should start saving up for a camera in the January sales. 

Anyway, I do love the feel of these curtains - the lining is really soft and silky to touch, and the curtains have enough weight without having needed to use curtain weights. They are still a bit billowy but when we move I'll be taking these with me and hopefully there's enough width in reserve for them to fit a slightly bigger window! They are also purposely almost too long so that they tuck behind the radiator as this room gets chilly during the winter, so that will help make them more useable too. I love how much brighter the room looks without a dark red curtain, even got Craig to change the lampshade from red to green too. Much better!

Monday, 15 June 2015


Harriet's bag is finished!

Fourth one and the quickest, neatest version so far. I turned the speed right down and properly concentrated on the topstitching. Much better. May have gone a tad too close to the zip ends this time, but it's better than everything falling out! This one has a 7inch zip so is 8x6 rather than the usual 9x6inches I've been using for the rest.

More Quick Zipper Pouches

Thought I'd quickly post an update on the two cotton zipper pouch bags I recently made for friends, using the free Craftsy Reversible Tote Bag & Zipper Pouch class. I've made three so far and I'm definitely getting better at using my zipper foot now. The top stitching still isn't as neat as I previously achieved on my first red version, but the build quality of the bags is much better overall!


I've briefly blogged about the bag on the right here, which was made for Sian.

But here's another photo or two for comparison I'm still happy that I lined up the swirl across the zip!

Here's a quick snap of the back, to show up unbroken pattern.

This second pouch was for Mariam. She picked a nice purple fabric (that I failed at topstitching neatly - again). The zip was easier to insert but I can't sew straight with it apparently!

Maz picked a beautiful blue cotton for the lining which is hidden away until you open it. I've just realised I haven't got any photos of it bursting from the inside - doh!! Well I will just have to take a photo of the fabric I have left. Anyway, it's a really gorgeous blue and one that I just love. 

I felt that a white tag would work better with the purple and white exterior, and keep the blue a surprise. So in order for it to not be plain and boring, I decided to try one of the decorative stitches on my new machine. I tried out a few but went for this leaf pattern to complement the flower detail on the exterior. It's subtle but pretty.

I also triple stitched the edges of both bags, as I cut too close to the seam on one of Sian's corners and had to go back in to close it up again. This time neither of them will come loose! I also got a much neater, closer finish on the edges of the zips - but I haven't worked out a better way to achieve this yet. I still have to keep sewing closer and closer until I hit the sweet spot! 

We had friends over this weekend for my birthday BBQ - and I gave Mariam her new pouch. She was pretty chuffed with it, especially the bright pop of the blue lining and the embroidered tag :D While she was looking at hers, another friend of mine spent a little while putting together fabric and zip choices for her own bag so I have another to sew this week. I do like the versatility of this pouch, despite my initial reservations of the use of it! In fact, I think I should probably sew myself one after making them for everyone else!!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Photo Update

Thought I'd post some photos of things I've recently finished, gets boring reading masses of text after a while so here are some photos I can use to look back on.

This is the planned layout for my rainbow solids HST quilt. It took an agonisingly long time to decide this! Unfortunately I tend not to start off on easy projects, so this is going to be for a double bed. 

I also screwed up the measurements as I've never quilted before and I'm not following a pattern - so my intended 3 inch squares are actually 2.5 inches once they have been trued up and sewn. Oops! 

Craig and I spent a good hour trying to decide on the layout, colour order and square size. We dithered between 3, 4 and 5 inch squares but thought 5 inches was a bit too big. I wanted a bright, happy quilt so we chose the 3 inch but should have gone for 4 really - less cutting out!

As mentioned in a previous post, here's the boxed out tote bag that I made in a masterclass at The Stitching Boutique with Tamzin using Lotta Jansdotter fabric. I used a mustard yellow from the same range for the interior, which you can just about see poking out (but my camera didn't handle the colour very well).

It also has a pocket inside. We ended up running out of time so I made this bag far quicker than I would have thought possible, but that did mean ignoring trimming all thread ends and unfortunately I completely forgot to shorten the handles a little. I would also like to sew down the pocket to divide it into 2 partitions if I make this bag again.

Speaking of bags... here's one of the two zipper pouch bags I am making for Sian & Mariam. Sian picked out this fabric and zip combinations - the side tag is made from the lining fabric. I bought it to supplement the HST quilt but decided to stick with bright solids rather than graduating the rainbow, and luckily enough it perfectly matches the pink of this exterior fabric.

I managed to impale myself on the machine needle when trying to ease a fabric jam out of the feed dogs - so I need to wash or replace the lining as I've bled on it! :S

I'd like to say I'm getting better at putting zips in but I actually messed this up a lot and I'm still not 100% happy with the topstitching. I'd like to get it a little closer to the previous red zipper pouch. This bag's zip was much harder to sew than the first attempt, which I made on my old machine. Unfortunately the zipper foot for the Janome is MUCH wider than the narrow zipper foot I used before and isn't compatible as the needle wants to strike the foot. I need to do some shopping for a similar version because I think it made quite a difference. Here's a picture of the red pouch for comparison:

Both used 7inch zips so the top stitching is definitely much wider on the brown & pink version. However I think the finish is neater overall, I've boxed the sides up and my corners are better on this version compared to the red pouch. One more bag to go so I'll have another practice.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sewing Plans


I spent 3 days making half square triangles for a rainbow, solid brights quilt the week I bought my machine. There's an awful lot of work that goes into each square!! I don't have a desk or table big enough for my cutting mat, so I do all my cuttings kneeling on the lounge floor. After 3 days I have pretty impressive kneeling bruises and a very sore back!

I got a bit disheartened at the fact it took 3 days to make some squares which took me only 3 hours to sew into a 4x12 rectangle! I initially sewed them into long strips, but couldn't match the seams over such a long distance. The quilt will be around 80x90 inches when finished.

We had some friends over last week and I got talking about sewing. Long story short, they both picked out fabric and zip combos for me to make them a zipper pouch make up bag each. I made one that night but cut too close to the seam while clipping the corners so I need to go back in and fix a small hole in one corner.  The other will be done this week.

Yesterday Craig and I wandered into Calico & Co. and decided on some fabrics for curtains. We weren't sure if our measurements so went home, then returned too late as it had closed. We'll be going back this week, hopefully I can get the pair for the lounge made up by the weekend when we have friends visiting for my birthday BBQ. Photos to come!

I also impulse bought some cheap jersey and crepe du chine fabrics from eBay, which I have plans for. My sewing list is getting longer and longer, but I want to try knit fabrics before I get too stuck into women's then feel too afraid to sew with knits.

Have a nice week!