Friday, 20 December 2013

To make or not to make?!?

Everyone has different criteria for what makes a perfect gift and some people are really hard to buy for.  There is a challenge when it comes to handmade gifts – for many people handmade reminds them of those gorgeous little crafts that small children bring home to their parents dripping glue and glitter.  People love to receive those gifts from children but as we grow up we become concerned about anything we make turning out to be an explosion of random craft materials and that it won’t really turn into anything useful.  Handmade is tricky but when it is done right those gifts can be the best.  For me handmade gifts sum up what giving is all about – not just money but something of you has gone into the gift.  So how do you get it right? 
I think the key is not over complicating things – simple gifts can be the most perfect.  A gift I love to receive is pretty things for around my home – things I see every day and remind me of the person who gave them.  So I have decided to share a tutorial on how to make bunting.  This is perfect for any time of year but with some clever fabric choices and colour selection bunting can make a country chic style Christmas home.
You will need
-          Fabric of your choice
-          Bias binding to match your fabric
-          Ruler, pencil and card/paper
-          Pins
-          Needle and thread or sewing machine
-          Iron

1    1.    Measure out a triangle on paper.  This can be done by measuring the base and then marking the half way point all the way up to how high you want your triangle to be.  Then draw the lines.  You can fold in half to ensure it is even

2.       Trace out the triangle onto your fabric as many times as you want.  I made 6 triangles for my bunting so I cut out 12 triangles of fabric.  You can make your bunting as long or as short as you need

3.       Place your triangles with the right sides of the fabric facing each other in pairs.  Sew from the base up to the point and leaving your needle down lift the foot and turn the fabric.  Then sew the line along the other edge of the triangle back to the base.  Leave the base unstitched.

4.       Once you have done this turn the triangles so you have the right side of the fabric facing you.  Push the point out using anything that isn’t too sharp ie the end of a pencil or crochet hook.  At this point it is really important to iron the bunting to ensure it is sitting correctly.

5.       Now you need to work out how wide apart you want the triangles on your binding.  I left a 10cm gap between each flag.  Place the triangles into the binding and fold it over hiding all the raw edges.  Pin in place and sew neatly along the edge of the binding.  I used a zig zag stitch as it looks nice but also ensures you don’t miss any of the bias binding when it is folded.

6.       Now trim your edges and display or wrap up for that perfect gift!

The fabric I have used was gifted to me by a friend and it has previously belonged to her Nan who didn’t have the opportunity to use it.  Hanging this bunting up I think honors her and the special person she was in my friend’s life.
If you have something special that belonged to someone who was important to you why not incorporate it into a gift for someone or for you so that it becomes a part of your home on a daily basis.
I hope you have fun making the bunting – do send me pictures of how you get on!


Monday, 16 December 2013


So in the last few weeks I have done my first craft fair, fixed my sewing machine and set up my etsy shop in amongst that and a few handmade Christmas gifts I have been super quiet on the blog!  Sorry about that!
  After doing a bunch of projects over and over again to produce enough stock to fill a table I decided I needed to try some new things.  I want to keep trying to improve my sewing skills and techniques so want to constantly try new and exciting things.  I have recently discovered a love for pinterest - there is an amazing wealth of resources on there.  So many inspiring projects and beautiful pictures it is amazing and often they come with great patterns or tutorials.

So on one of my pinning adventures I found this cute little backpack pattern here

I love this pattern mainly because the pieces to cut out are so easy - lots of straight lines.  I have to admit that once I had cut out my pattern I just followed what made sense in my mind so I'm not sure how easy the written instructions are to follow but the pattern is great.

So from this pattern I have made two little back packs and another one is cut out and ready to go.  The fabric I have made mine from I think mean they lean towards being for a child but really it could be made from anything.

So here are my finished products.

I used a white ribbon as the drawstring which works great if you tie it half way (which will be hidden by the fabric) as this gives it a good hold rather than it slipping round and through the top of your bag.
 I hope you like them and I hope you are enjoying the Christmas preparation and not finding it too busy.  
And do come and say hi on pinterest - till next time!

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! 


Sunday, 24 November 2013

SO how did it go???

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Monday, 11 November 2013

New Steps

This morning I have spent some time playing around with photos and opening up my ETSY shop.  I am using this as a trial to be honest - I've heard so many mixed reviews on people's successes and failures linking in with etsy that I decided to give it a shot and try it out myself.
 I've uploaded just 4 products because I am still preparing for the craft fair that is coming up so all my stock is needed to fill the table there.  Once that is done I plan to begin uploading more products regularly and just see how it goes.

I've already realized a few things - I need to learn to improve my photography skills and to do this effectively I need to be very efficient.  I can take reasonable pictures but then I upload them and set about attempting to do a bit of editing (of course armed with google) and see my photos turn into disaster areas.  I've tried something similar before when me and my husband did a batch of screen printing - our biggest challenge by far was the editing of photos to prepare the prints.  But with some time and patience we got much better and we ended up with some pretty cool prints ( well I thought so anyway ).  So a challenge for myself - in between everything else - is to work on photos.  On etsy you can't pick up your products, touch them and imagine them in your home or wardrobe so great photos are everything.
 The efficiency thing I guess is just about realizing that your time needs to be managed really well to craft, dream up ideas, shop for fabrics, edit photos and talk to potential customers - all that while holding a full time job, staying in touch with friends and loving blogging to you guys.  Well whatever happens so far I've been enjoying every second so I figure while I am still having fun I will continue!

Anyway it is a new step in my upcycling adventure so I will keep you posted on how it all goes!

Here is the link if you want to check it out!


Have fun browsing and as always feel free to feedback - I plan to share everything from this journey I'm on - the good, the bad and the massively embarrassing errors - on this blog so feedback to me might reduce some of my red faced moments!  Enjoy and link me up with your shops too so we can help each other out!

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.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pushing the limits

 When I first started this blog I spoke about a few challenges I had set myself - all part of encouraging myself away from the TV and into life a little more.  My first challenge has passed so I thought it an apt time to reflect and blog!

 The Great South Run was on Sunday and me and my sister ran it.  We were horrendously badly prepared - both of us started this great plan with wonderful intentions and expected to be fully fit and merrily jogging round the route with ease and enthusiasm by the time race day arrived.  Reality bites hey!  We had both been on a  few runs ( her a few more than me and a fair bit further than me ) but neither of us managed the regular commitment which builds fitness.  But we ventured out into the beginnings of the approaching storm anyway.  With a moto of slow and steady and a determination that we would not stop running (however slowly) we made it round 10 miles in 1hr47mins crossing the finishing line together.  A pretty good time in my opinion.  I have no idea how I made it through the last 2 miles.  It's a beautiful course and the finish is along the seafront but on this particular day we had strong winds against us and we were both regretting our lack of training.

 Finishing made me think though - so many times before and during that run I thought I wouldn't be able to do it.  I don't think I have ever pushed my body so hard in my life and yet somehow I made it through.  So often we put ourselves in boxes - pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones rarely and taking as tiny steps as possible.  But actually our bodies and minds are stronger than we realize - my body and my mind went further than I ever thought they would - and that was without the preparation that would be recommended.

  Now I'm aware that this is simply a 10 mile race and thousands of people do this and much more regularly - but for me it was a pretty big deal.  Applying that confidence to other areas of my life could really be a good thing.  When we are at school we are constantly encourage to try new things - a new class, a new sport, a new social group or a new school.  As we grow up things change around us and we are constantly being pushed to experience as much as possible.  Somehow as we get older this seems to reverse.  We get a job and settle into it, life becomes a bit of a routine and we stop putting ourselves out there.  We stop experimenting and enjoy the safety of the things we know.  This can be a great place to be but for me I started to think that it was actually a bit of a lazy place to be.

 So not only am I slightly inspired to continue running (at least in the summer anyway)  it has also got me considering if there are other areas of my life where I need to push the boundaries - explore the un-explored and simply push the walls of my box out a little bit.  After all it is in the new and sometimes challenging situations that we learn and grow the most! 
 I'll keep you posted - my next challenge is to successfully pull off a craft fair stall!  

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 :)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Growing things

When I first started blogging I was chatting about my mission to spend more time in the garden and grow more things.  Looking outside now I can see a mountain of weeds swallowing up some of my early attempts at vegetables.  I really am a fair weather gardener I'm afraid.
But having said that I have had a reasonable amount of success - especially considering my bizarre timing in starting to work on the garden ( the end of the summer ).
 I planted rocket which I did enjoy in a few small salads and on a fair few cheese sandwiches.  I felt hugely proud of that rocket but clearly had some learning to do because I hadn't covered it and the lovely butterflies that arrived in my garden enjoyed finishing off every last scrap.
 I also planted swede which I separated out once they had grown a bit and re-planted.  I think I chose the morning of the hottest day of the year to do this and think that any hope of swede this winter is long gone.  The poor things were dry as can be by the end of the day.
 I tried a few other things far to late and am left with my one surviving plant which I am super proud of - my runner beans.  They are growing so well and even though it is late I have collected a number of crops in the last week from them with more to come by the looks of things.
Here is my first harvest

They were absolutely delicious - made even more so by the happiness I felt at having grown them in my own garden - yay!
The first harvest went into a lovely dinner of spicy chicken and rice.

Followed swiftly by a chocolatey tray bake that I had been inspired to make by a work colleagues contribution to staff meeting.

So even though my dreams of self sufficiency and a fully functional garden that feeds us are still a long way off this little bit of achievement made me very happy.

For the rest of this week I'm going to be training super hard to prepare for the great south run on Sunday- this might mean I need to lay of the chocolate tray bakes a bit! Any sewing I do will need to be of the relaxed - not too adventurous - variety so I will share what that ended up looking like towards the end of the week.
 Hope your Mondays have passed quickly and the rest of your week is filled with smiles.

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!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

This week it's all about the bags

Well I've been back at the machine again - I think it was cross about being neglected for all those days last week as today it played up like crazy.  Broken needles, broken threads, light bulbs going but I took a break for lunch and all seemed to return to normal.  I have come to the conclusion that machinery objects to me being hungry and I must remember to squirrel snacks up into the attic with me when I start a sewing session.
 I've been making bags this week and have been experimenting with creating different shapes.  I've got a bit bored of making rectangle tote bags so thought I'd try a few new things.  Or new to me anyway.
 The first one was pretty simple but I just love the blue of the fabric and the flowers and felt it fitted a rectangular shape so I went with it.

The second one is probably my favourite - I made it from fabric that my sister found for me a few years ago.  I really love it which is probably why I haven't had the heart to cut it up till now.  I'm happy I did though - believe it or not this is from a duvet cover!  Upcycling at its best! A few pleats really made the difference with this one making it look much more complicated than it actually was to make.

The final bag so far is from a fabric that you would have seen plenty of already.  That fabulous vintage floral fabric I got from Sue Ryder a month or so ago.  I have nearly used it all up so this is likely to be the last you see of it!  I've done really well with it making mini stockings, a skirt, an apron and this bag as well as a few little purses and hanging hearts.  

I really like using pleats in bags as they add so much extra shape to it as well as the extra space.  Pleating is really simple to do you just need to be prepared to take a bit of time to measure each fold.  I will do a tutorial on how to pleat over the weekend so watch this space.

And for the last photo here is a sneak preview of a piece I'm preparing for a winter wonderland showcase that I'm involved in on Facebook in November.  I've been digging out all my blue, grey and silver fabrics for the winter theme and what better way to use all those odds and ends than a bit of patchwork!  Any ideas what it will be in the end?

I hope you are all having a fabulous week - don't forget to share your pics of the things you've been making - you never know you might get a share in the blog.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Searching for inspiration

I have been quiet on the stitching front this week - somehow lacking inspiration and the ability to get going with new projects.  I don't know about the rest of you crafters out there but every now and again I feel that I just have no idea what to do next - or if I do I lack the motivation somehow.  Usually this is fixed by being around other creative people and spotting some fabulous fabric.  So today - before I disengage with society for another round of night shifts - I headed out to Southsea to wander with a friend.
 Vintage dress on and I was ready to go.  This dress is always a particular favorite of mine as it started off as a size 20 and a bit of snipping later - teamed with my chunky belt - and there you have it a light and easy to wear vintage style dress.
 The Love Southsea market was on in Palmerston Road and as always it was filled with wonderful people making wonderful things.
  One stall in particular stood out and it was run by Busy Bees who work at The Beneficial Foundation.  They are creating fantastically professional and creative products and working really hard to create jobs through social enterprise.  The stall was friendly and bright and I honestly could have bought a whole load of things but haven't really organised myself to think of Christmas presents just yet.  So I bought a hand printed card that will be a thank you to someone.  A bargain of a price and I love it.

So if you see the Busy Bees anywhere else do make the time to check out their stall as it was definitely the one that stood out for me today.

On from the market and we did the wander of the charity shops where I picked up some gorgeous floral fabric.  Hopefully soon to be made into something gorgeous.

All that wandering has truly worn me out today but what a lovely wander it was.  Hopefully I will get my stitch on in the week and have plenty of little projects to share with you all.  Enjoy your weekends everyone!
x x x