Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Charity shop delve

I love a good charity shop delve and headed out today for a gorgeous day out for much nibbling, chatting and charity shop shopping with a great friend.
I found some fab fabric and bits and pieces but started off the day at home unearthing a treasure I'd bought months ago.
A trip out wandering through fratton dipping in and out of shops I stumbled upon a gorgeous dress.  How much - £1 - bargain!
I took it home tried it - loved it - and burried it.  Something wasn't quite right.
This morning I pulled it out my wardrobe and set to work.  I pulled out some old boning that was bent to such a strange angle it definately did nothing for me.  A simple unpick and re-stitch did the trick.
  Then I took the pointy top and folded them over to create a shape I like better over the bust.  A quick stitch and I was away.
  I didn't have the good sense to take a before photo but thought I'd share with you the after photo.
  It just shows if your willing and able to put in a tiny bit of time and effort those bargains are still out there to be found!

Post your charity shop treasures too! :-)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Presents - home made? ? ?

Summer for me brings a spattering of birthdays and celebrations.  Being in the middle of this time again got me to thinking about presents.  Most people love giving and receiving a good gift - it truly warms the heart to realise someone has considered what you would love and who you are.  At the same time there is something wonderful about watching a friend or family member get that feeling after opening something you gave.

I've been thinking about what really makes a great gift - is it having something you really wanted or is it knowing that someone put in some time to make or choose that gift rather than grabbing it at the end of a weekly food shop?

One of the best gifts my parents got me was my sewing machine - 15years old I think and over a decade later it's still with me!  They knew I would love it - I think I actually asked for one - and it has truly been a useful gift :-).  At the same time other much smaller gifts have left great impressions on me - knowing that person really knows me well.

A few years ago I was flat broke and started making presents.  I wanted to still be able to give things but really couldn't afford great shop bought gifts.  I have to admit that some of my early attempts at gifts have probably been discarded at the back of a cupboard somewhere.  I like to think that my home made gifts have improved in their quality but the heart intention is still the same- to make that individual aware that I have been thinking of them and how special they are.  Home made presents do have the risk of being useless and tacky- things you would actually never pay money for.
Spending a bit more money and heading to the shops doesn't of course guarantee you won't be still giving something useless and tacky but the risk is probably reduced somewhat!

All that considered I think my moto now is if I'm inspired to make something then that's what I go with - if not I head to the shops and hope I find some inspiration there.  I am trying not to automatically make everything for the sake of it instead trying to maintain some authenticity to my crafting.

So what do you prefer to give/receive?

Is it home made or shop bought?

Let me know :-)

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Summer dress

So following on from my last post I've been making a summer dress for a toddler.  The pattern is versatile and can be adapted to anyone of any size - adult or child.
To make this you will need a sewing machine, measuring table, thread, scissors, shearing elastic, a safety pin and fabric of your choice.

You need to start by taking a chest measurement from the fullest part of your chest.  Then follow this simple formula that I found in this fabulous book

Chest measurement / 4 = x
Chest + x = y
y / 2 = z

So for my dress for a 3 year old the chest is 53cm and z = 33cm.
That is the width of the top of your fabric and makes the top of the diagram - now follow the diagram below.

The first box is for the smocking so for a three year old I did a length of 15cm but you need to decide how long you want the smocking to be for your garment. Then continue the box down to equal the length of your dress ( for me it was 46cm top hem to bottom hem ).  The wings on either side are coming down so the bottom point is a third of your Z measurement on both sides ( for me 11cm ).  Adding this gives the dress a full skirt which really adds to the finish.

Mark this pattern out and lay fabric out.

Cut out the fabric to the shape above twice ensuring you leave a 2,5cm seam allowance on top of all your measurements.  Now you have two pieces of fabric in this shape.

Place the fabric so that the right sides (or part of the fabric you want to be the outside of the dress) are facing together.  Now sew the seam along both sides using a straight line stitch.  You will need to seal the raw edges of the fabric to avoid fraying which can be done using an overlocker or a simple zig zag stitch.
You now should have something like this.

Complete a hem along the top and bottom of the dress.  Do this by folding over around 1cm of fabric and stitching around the fold.
Then repeat this process again folding the fabric over.  This time ensure your stitching stays the same distance from the edge of the fold as this will show on your finished garment.  This will result in no raw edges and a neat hem.

Now you move onto the smocking - prepare your machine as explained in the last blog post.   Now sew a line along the top of the fabric about 0.5cm from the edge and when you reach your starting point guide the machine around a cm below your first line and continue.  
Use the back stitch setting for a few stitches at the start and end of your smocking.
  Your fabric will gather more as you continue.  Try to make sure you keep sewing straight and don't allow the fabric to bunch under the needle as this will show.

You now have a finished garment if you chose to make a strapless dress however I have chosen to add some simple straps to finish it off which makes this perfect for a child running around in the summer.

You will need to decide for your pattern how long you need your straps to be but for this dress I have made four strips of 25cms long.  I cut strips of 4cm and folded them over so the right side of the fabric was facing each other.
I then stitched a straight line around a cm away from the fold.  Trim the raw edge and you will have 4 strips like this.

Now take a safety pin and attach to the end ensuring you are not too close to the edge as then it could fray.  Push the safety pin into the tube and begin to thread it through.  This is fiddly and requires some patience (you can also buy a hook that makes it easier).  As the safety pin comes through the other end the fabric should easily turn until you have a neat tube.  If you find the tube gets stuck just pull it gently in the opposite direction so that you remove the bunching and begin again.

Tuck in the raw ends and stitch.  Now attach with a straight line stitch to the top of the dress matching the distance from the seams on the front and the back of your dress.
Trim your loose threads and you have a great dress that you made yourself!  The sleeves fasten at the top in a cute bow.

I hope you have a fab time making this!  It's such a satisfying project because it doesn't take too long but looks so professional! Share your pictures when you finish and get ready to proudly say 'I made this!' :-)