A Selfish Craft Swap 

I’m writing a blog post with a bit of a twist today. If you’ve seen the pictures, you’ll soon realise that this isn’t fabric or dressmaking (though I couldn’t resist running up a quick skirt!) but an amazing item which I have no talent to make at all! 

It came about when Charlotte of Chasjos asked if anyone would like to do an exchange and swap something she had made, in this case this beautiful handmade wooden mermaid pendant,  for something others can make. I signed up straight away, I love schemes like this and it’s one of the unexpected perks I have found within the crafting /sewing / blogging community. 

Because I have so much on at the minute,  I promised I would make Charlotte something in a month or so and get involved but she was happy to send me the pendant anyway (which is very trusting and kind). 

She makes all sorts of wooden, hand painted pendants like this. She also made this AMAZING one for her sister-in-law, which I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me sharing. 

I don’t follow many blogs which aren’t sewing related but Charlotte’s really caught my eye because the pendants she makes are so beautiful and because she writes in both French and English,  which I think is an amazing skill in itself.

Most of us know what the happy post feeling is like, but this one was super exciting. It was in a gorgeous package and made my day. She included a little note too and I love details like this. 

I would never be able to make anything like this and you see handmade wooden items likes this selling for lots of Etsy, which is what makes a craft swap like this so brilliant. I have something that is genuinely unique and I haven’t bought it! 

I’m making Charlotte a Moneta dress in return (surprise surprise) as she really liked my previous Moneta makes. Plus it’s a pattern with a bit of stretch so it’s a bit easier to fit from France! I will send it to her as soon as I’m done… Here’s the current progress to show my dedication to the project. 

Back to the pendant, which I wore to my Mother-in-law’s 60th birthday meal. I wanted to show it in all it’s glory so apologies for the posey pictures but look at it! Isn’t my little mermaid lovely?! 

It’s so detailed and well thought out, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I think it’s fabulous and I love it! I am so grateful to Charlotte and so pleased I said I would join in. I love this crafting community! 

As for the skirt…. I knew I wanted to wear a black top so of you follow me on instagram you will know that I decided I wanted a skirt that day. So I took this gorgeous vintage fabric I bought on my visit to the Village Tea Room and Emporium in Northumberland and just went with it… I love school holidays! 

I cut it in half, curved the edges in to a skirt shape. Sewed it as a square (ish) and threaded elastic through the waistband (just a double fold at the top of the fabric!). I stitched the elastic in place so nearly all the gather was at the back and added to small pleats down the front. I then sewed bias to the bottom, which is the straightest and neatest I’ve ever done! I was really pleased with it and glad I made the decision to go for it. 

My mother-in-law, in the meantime,  was made up with her Quilt. More on that on Friday. 

Not enough hands… Not enough time… 

I’m not in a position this week to share a finished make with you, unless you count these infinity scarves I quickly sewed up for my Sister-in-law’s colleagues because they loved hers so much. 

I have been juggling a few things in my sewing room this week. I’m currently working on a present for my Mother-in-law for her birthday, which I can’t share on here but you will have seen a snippet of if you follow me on instagram

I’ve also been working on a project for Fabric Styles, who have asked me to try out some of their Scuba fabric and write and YouTube it,  so watch this space. Here’s the lovely fabrics I chose. 

Isn’t the floral pattern on it amazing? 

Finally, I am also working on another Moneta in a lovely aubergine, purple colour.

And I’ve used my scraps to make a quick and cute T-shirt for my niece for her birthday. I couldn’t face to leave it plain so I have inexpertly embroidered some little flowers on it. 

I will not get much done this weekend either because me and my Mum are going to The Stitching for Pleasure show!! I won tickets courtesy of the lovely Elle from Sew Positivity!! I am insanely excited about this!  

I haven’t got enough hands or time, or head space, for that matter for everything I’m trying to do but I’m sure I’ll get there, plus there’s school holidays on the horizon with lots of sewing time planned for myself! I promise I’ll try and share something completed next week!

The Overture Set

Following the successful make for her birthday, I wanted to make a dress for my sister for Christmas, she has a very different style from me but when I saw the Overture Set which came with Issue 20 of Simply Sewing Mag a few months a go, I knew that would be the one.

The Overture Set
picture from Simply Sewing Mag site

I bought this amazing silk feel fabric from the sale at Abakhan and I thought it would be perfect for this as the dress looks nice and floaty. I read through the instructions before I cut the pattern out and was very quickly overwhelmed, I had never done a collar before… I was in two minds, one said, try it or else you’ll never learn, the other said, you’ll never be able to do that. I went with the latter I’m afraid folks and decided to leave the collar out. I might have tried it if it hadn’t been for a gift but I want it to be lovely.

The fabric, whilst beautiful, was an absolute PAIN to sew. I haven’t done much work with slippery fabrics like this and what a nightmare! I had to use about a million pins and even then I couldn’t be sure that another piece of fabric was slipping in from somewhere… It also slipped off my desk constantly too.

It was my first time working with a yoke and that was even  more difficult because of the fabric. I don’t think I did this right because the seam allowance looked a mess… so I used a bit of bias binding to hem the seam allowance on the yoke. It looks quite neat now but I need to learn how to do this properly. I have since watched this video on how to sew a yoke by Sew Over It and I think I’ll be able to do this next time! I used it more successfully in this shirt for my brother.

I was tempted to also ignore the pockets but as I blatantly cast aside the collar, I felt I best try these at least. I did have to unpick two of them completely though because I lined the wrong notches up but I was determined by this point. The pattern comes with really good instructions on how to insert the pockets whilst maintaining the French seam, which was really useful to learn.My next challenge was the arm hole binding and the hem. I wanted a neat finish that would not look bulky or ruin the flow of the dress, this is really tricky on silky fabric so I used a black ribbon as I thought any other binding would be too restrictive. The neckline doesn’t sit as perfectly as I would like,  I maybe need to consider using facings next time.

I also used a thicker black ribbon to bind the hem, which is longer at the back than the front.  I thought it would make a neater finish and I was right because I do feel it is neat and quite modern looking.
Overall, it’s got a lovely shape,  thanks to the pleat in the back,  which is a great feature, and I was pleased with it. My sister loved it and says she can’t wait to wear it on her holidays, but for now I had her pose in front of Mum’s Christmas tree for me! (last of the Christmas pics now,  I promise!)

Pockets

After watching many YouTube vlogs by Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It,  I was sold on trying out the ultimate shift dress. She says it’s great for stiffer fabric and also fabrics with big prints so I bought some lovely grey with white lillies,  which is more of an upholstery fabric but I just love the colour and thought it would make a really grown up and smart shift dress for my Mum for Christmas

I feel really proud of this make for a few reasons, one because it all came together so well, all the notches lined up and I didn’t have to make any changes.

Two because it was the first time that I have really flown through a pattern and the instructions without having to look things up or getting confused,  which I think shows how much I am improving; all the practise is paying off!

Thirdly, look at my fabulous facings…  I wanted to try them as I know the shift dress has quite a smooth look and I didn’t want to ruin it by using binding.   This is quite literally the first time facings have EVER worked for me.  They sit nice,  they pressed nicely and they joined really well at the split in the back. I don’t know if this is because the pattern is fab, the fabric was so easy to work with or because I’m just getting better,  either way, I’m chuffed to bits with my little shelf!

That’s all there really is to say about the dress,  which has a really simple construction. I intend to try a top version of it, possibly in a light denim I’ve just gifted myself for Christmas. I have also just bought some ponte roma with poppies along the edge so I can try using a fabric with design for my next try at this so watch this space!..

My Mum loves it, she said it is really smart and she is going to wear it when we go to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in January! (our gift from my sister- exciting!)

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The back lined up great too, I managed to keep the pattern direction going.

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I also put this lovely, cute little ‘made with love’ label in.

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Mini PJs for a Mini girl

I know most of us are in that Christmas stage where we don’t know what day it is but it is Friday,  so even though time off means more posts from me,  here’s my weekly Friday one!

Some time in October I acquired quite a lengthy amount of pink gingham cotton. My sister-in-law and I were talking about how it reminded us of the cutest little PJs that my niece, Grace, had when she was tiny. So, I couldn’t not replicate them. Luckily for me there was a sale on a simplicity so I bought this girls and boys pyjamas pattern (1575). The pattern starts at aged 7 and goes up to 14, Grace is only 5 but nearly 6 and rather tall!

I decided to cut two lots out at the the same time, because you can’t get enough PJs when you’re 5! I just made one set of sleeves shorter and customised them to make them individual, as you will see. I wanted traditional, hence the button up style PJs but I was concerned because I’ve never done a button-up shirt before. I needn’t have worried though, the pattern was so easy to use.

I read through the instructions first and decided to scrap the facings and I used a bright pink binding on one and just hemmed the other and used the binding on the back neckline. The tops went together so easily and I chain stitched through the two in no time. There was a brilliant button guide pattern piece that made the buttons really easy to do.

The trousers came as all in one leg pieces and were so simple for it, they literally took me 15 minutes. I did have to wing the elastic waist measurement slightly though, as said child was not on hand!

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So that was it for construction, but I had so much fun customising these. Obviously I used a bright pink bias binding so they look interesting straight away. I put a pocket on one with a cute bit of white ric rac. I wanted these to be more traditional so I used pink buttons and left it at that, apart from this cute label I hand stitched for the inside.

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The second pair have a shorter sleeve, I bought these iron on letters from Drift in Seahouses ages a go and have been waiting for something to put them on and I’m so pleased they go really well and look great! I used yellow buttons on this too as a contrast.

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I love that I have been able to make these PJs personalised for Grace. She wore them on Christmas Eve and her Mum was made up with them! They are a little big but that only means she’ll be in them longer, which doesn’t happen with anything these days!

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She’s the perfect little model! AND… we bought her a sewing machine for Christmas! Can’t wait to have a go at this with her! She was so excited!

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and best wishes for success and happiness in 2017. Only a few more Christmas pressies to share in 2017 and then normal service will resume!! 

Getting Shirty for Santa

I’ll start this post by a bit of an explanation of my family dynamic,  I’m the eldest but so far from the coolest of 3 siblings,  my brother and sister are and always have been a billion times cooler than I will ever be and although they love me and we are so lucky to be as close as we are as a family, they consider me to be a complete geek…  Rightly so to be honest and it isn’t a title that I shun. Andrew, my brother, doesn’t usually find my home-made clothes very on trend,  until more recently as I’ve started to get better anyway. When he noticed this, he told me that if I made him a shirt, he would wear it so…  The challenge begun.

I bought Simplicity 6232 Shirt Pattern and cut a small in a lovely dove grey cotton and begun. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed by all the parts so I bought plenty of cotton so I could recut if anything went terribly wrong and tried to take a step by step approach. I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without this tutorial from Male Devon Sewing, it’s a fantastic tutorial and it made the whole thing much easier.  I did also follow this video from Sew Over It when it came to the yoke as I messed up the last one I did. I was doubtful the whole time, until I turned it out and it had only gone and worked!!

I used this brilliant Downton Abbey Fabric for a nice,  manly contrast, even though it is called Dowager Grey Paisley! I used it on the collar, cuffs, yoke and inside the pocket.

dsc_0123.jpgIt all seemed to be going so well and I didn’t have the ‘this doesn’t look right’ feeling but that was such a mistake, as it turned out that I had turned the packets in instead of out. I didn’t realise this until I came to the collar and it was about 1 and a half inches too short on each side. So…  I unpicked the right side and had to do the left side again as I had already done the button holes (gggrrr) Anyway, that solved that, so I moved on. I was dreading the collar but I felt it went really well as I followed the instructions and the tutorial. I found doing the button holes really therapeutic,  which was a good job as I did them twice! I chose these really cool metal buttons to go with it, I wasn’t sure whether they would look cheap or trendy but I decided on the latter.. My father-in-law pointed out that they look like little screws.

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The next problem I came up against was the cuffs,  I couldn’t get them to line up well and they just weren’t really up to standard,  I ummed and ahhed and then unpicked the lot and started again..  I’m glad I did though as it was unwearable with the original cuffs. They look quite neat now and I decided to use more on the contrast fabric the second time round.

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I’m really pleased with it,  this is easily the most complicated garment I’ve ever made and it was a great learning curve. I was really pleased to end a year in which I’ve been learning to sew with a big project like this. I’m very proud of it and Andrew liked it too, which is fantastic. They’ll be no pictures of him wearing it though as he is VERY camera shy!

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My Sister’s Top

Read the title as you will folks! The observant amongst you will notice that the girl in the picture isn’t me… though she does look rather like me… it is, of course, my sister. So I have myself a new model, which is the stipulation if I make anyone anything!

I wanted something I had made for her birthday, even though I had some gorgeous hand-made earrings I bought up in Northumberland. So I decided to put another New Look 6483 one hour top together. Which I’ve made previously here and here, amongst others. I wanted to change it up a little so I’ve hacked it a bit.

I took the back piece and added a couple of inches to the fold edge and cut 2 back pieces. I then put the t-shirt together as normal, using a green contrast bias binding. I then edged the 2 back pieces in the binding as I wanted to create an open back, which you see a lot in the shops at the minute.

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Rather than just sew the top of the back pieces together I made button holes and put 3 buttons to hold it together, I used green buttons here too. I think it’s so cute and Rach loves it too and was a brilliant blog model. A simple hack, which I definitely recommend, especially is you have broad shoulders and/or chest like me and my sister!

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Recipe Tea Towel

This week’s make is a selfless sew, it may seem a bit early to be sharing Christmas makes but let me explain. My Dad and his wife, Therese live in Cyprus and I don’t always get round to sending Christmas presents, however, my Dad is coming to visit next week and in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to send him home with something.

So… I saw this tutorial for recipe tea towels on pinterest, I glanced over it and I’ve blatantly used the idea but I didn’t actually follow the tutorial if I’m honest.

I used a recipe that Therese wrote down for me 9 whole years ago, when I was just 19 (gulp!) and I went to visit. I scanned it, enlarged it and printed it on to transfer paper. I ironed it on a thick white polyester and cut a border round it using a ruler and rotary cutter. I cut a second piece out in the same size for the backing.

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I raided my scraps and made a patchwork binding using lots of different colours and sizes. I just went for the anything goes approach with this and cut random, rough sizes which I chain-stitched together and then cut with a rotary cutter once I had a long strip. I snipped the seams as close as I could and ironed. Easy! This was such a relaxing process, done in my front room watching Harry Potter. I’ll definitely prepare some more of this at some point. It’s really effective and fun!

I tacked the two pieces of white fabric together and attached the binding like you would a quilt and ta-dah! A super cute (rustic) but personal tea towel, which I’m hoping they will love. (Is it wrong that there’s a small part of my hoping it doesn’t actually get used as a tea towel?! It’s saying ‘Please don’t wipe your pots on all my hard work!’)

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I wrapped it ready to go in this funky word search paper which you can customise from Something Turquoise. I think this makes a really sweet gift and have prepared some for other pressies ready for some hard-core Christmas wrapping sessions!

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