Saturday, 28 September 2013

Adding a little something

This week I've been busy stitching various bits and pieces for Christmas.  Some mini stockings and a few gifty pieces.  All of the thought to winter inspired me to turn my attention to my living room.
All of my furniture is second hand and starting to look somewhat tired.  I decided to attempt a bit of a dye job on the sofas to add some colour.  We live in a rental property so the walls are neutral and when we moved in the biggest and most comfortable sofa we could find was cream.  I love it - space for two to stretch out, just the right amount of squish and the right height - generally it's a great sofa.  That said there's only so much cream one person can take. 
  So I embarked on upgrading my sofa.  I bought dylons burlesque red which is a deep purple-red and looks gorgeous on the box.  Armed with a few boxes and lots of salt I stripped the fabric off the sofa.
  I have to admit it was a bit of a mission.  Dividing the covers into roughly equal loads.  Washing with dye.  Washing without dye and then drying all the covers.  I didn't dare to put them in the dryer in case they shrank so for a few days we had sofa covers draped from chairs and clothes horses all over the place.
The finished effect?  Well it certainly isn't completely progressional.  I think a larger machine would have allowed more movement in the fabric.  My tiny machine has left a bit of mottling and crease lines across the covers where it couldn't move enough.  I was concerned that I had ruined the sofa but once the covers were on I think it looks pretty funky.  It has a bit of an aged effect to it and I think the mottling blends in with the age of the sofa.  All in all I'm happy plus I've learnt some good lessons about dye and fabric.
  I feel inspired to play about more with colour and try to experiment with dye a little bit more - here's to some more experimental upcycling! :-) who knows maybe a little bit of art coming up.
Watch this space.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

oven mitt tutorial

This week I have been trying out a new pattern for me and making some oven mitts/pot holders.  It was all a bit of an experiment to be honest but I did a very wonky test run - got positive feedback so thought I would run a few up to sit on the table at an upcoming craft fair.

I got myself completely organised and set up a little production line so that I would - in theory - be super duper time efficient.  Unfortunately I wasn't as organised as I had thought and only had enough wadding for my test run and 2 more mitts.  So I did that many and will have to return to make the others later.  I'm proud of my good intentions but may have to work a bit harder on the pre-planning bit :)

If your going to do this project you will need

thread, patterned fabric, plain backing fabric, wadding, shape templates (can be printed out from internet), scissors, bias binding that compliments your patterned fabric and some pins.  I think this one is easier if you have a sewing machine but certainly doable without!

So this is how I did it:

I printed out templates of the shapes I had chosen - heart, star and flower onto plain paper.  I only have an A4 printer so made the shapes into halves and printed it this way.  I laid the straight edge onto the fold in the fabric, pinned and cut out.

I then repeated this step for backing fabric and wadding.  I then cut the backing fabric out a second time but this time cut the shapes in half along the fold line.

I laid the fabric in the order I wanted baking fabric then wadding and then pattered fabric and ironed. This is an important step as it causes the wadding to compress which makes it much easier to manage when sewing and cutting a fiddly shape.

Then take the two halves of the backing fabric and edge the straight seam.  I did this by over locking it and then folding over and running a straight line stitch along it.  When you do this ensure that you fold over on both halves the same side.  When you lay the two halves onto the back of your shape you should see no raw edges on either side.

Now pin together and run a straight line stitch all the way around the edge of your shape trying to ensure you catch all the layers into your stitch.

Once you have done this trim with scissors as close as you can to your line of stitching.  Remove any excess threads or pieces of wadding that are sticking out around the edges.

Now take your bias binding and fold around your shape.  This is the trickiest bit and requires you to take it slowly and ensure the binding is tucked tightly around the shape.

It should look something like this now.

As you can see I added a loop of fabric to the corner of each so that the mit could be hung up in the kitchen.  The idea of these is that they fold in half and your hand slips into the pockets.
 Trim all your edges and check carefully for if there are any sections of bias binding that you have missed with your line of stitching.  If there are you need to neaten that section up otherwise the mit will begin to look untidy very quickly when used.

So there you have it - a cute mit for handling those hot pots and pans.  I think it would brighten up a kitchen but is also a cute idea for a gift.

I found that the flower became very tricky because of the tight curves so I kept sewing the bias binding without all of the layers in it when I hit the corners.  I'll keep trying but didn't end up with a neat enough product to photograph this time.  Maybe next week!

As always I have made these out of reclaimed fabrics so they are ethical and environmentally friendly.

Happy stitching :) 

ps. it was lovely to climb up into my organized craft room this weekend so I have many good intentions to become an organised crafter - watch this space :) 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Clutter and chaos

I am a messy person - it is something I wish I wasn't but I have grown to accept that mess follows me and grows around me!  I keep on top of it nowadays unlike in my teenage years when my bedroom was a bit of an explosion but in the areas I craft in chaos is highly likely at all times.

It is one of the reasons that I love having the attic room - I can go up there, start a project, allow chaos to have its way and then when I have run out of time pop downstairs and close the hatch.  No one sees it and I can just re-start exactly where I left off.  Of course this does have its downfall when my husband pops up to the attic to find something and I jump up in horror - 'don't look up there'

But as much as chaos seems to be attracted to me while I am creating there is something truly wonderful about having a good clear out.  Tidying everything away - clearing up the scraps from the last project and packing up elastic, ribbons and threads.  There is definitely truth in the saying 'tidy house, tidy mind' or in this case 'tidy room, tidy mind'

So this morning I decided that before heading off to work I would avoid the temptation to start another new project and instead I would have a re-organize.  I headed up and started sorting.  I have to confess I really enjoyed myself - it was definitely much overdue and I can't believe that one person can drop so many pins on the floor - but all in all I loved it.

  I found some odds and ends of fabric that had been buried by new purchases - I'm now excited to try to make something with them.

I discovered a half finished skirt that I had begun to make from a pillowcase I rescued from a house clearance a year or so ago.  This is now part of my to do list for this week to complete!

Plus I am fully set up with a clean and clear attic room and hopefully next time I arrive to sit down and sew my mind will be flooded with inspiration.  
This tidy up has also made me realize I need to invest in some low shelves or crates to store my crafty books and ever growing stash of fabric as my few boxes just aren't cutting it anymore.  I shall keep my eyes peeled on free cycle and the charity shops for a bargain.

All in all a productive and happy day so far :) 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Back to it!

In recent weeks I have been busy making all sorts of bits and pieces in preparation for an upcoming craft fair.  It's been fun and I have loved how productive I can be when I am making such small thing.  But with London Fashion Week going on and watching what some people have been up to creating outfits out of donated clothes I realized I miss making clothes!

  Oxfam Fashion and Back of the Wardrobe collaborated today to recreate the styles that were being sent out on the runways.  All their styles were made from pieces in the charity shop!  It is inspiring and shows that it can be done - we don't have to spend huge amounts of money or accept un-ethical shops to wear clothes of a certain style or trend. Here is a link to a picture of one of the styles they re-created but check out the full story on twitter.

I love clothes but I hate so much of what clothes represent in our society - exploitation of others, disposable society and pressure to conform.  That is just one of the reasons I love charity shop shopping so much.  But I'm also creative and I love to change things to fit who I am.  So back to it I went today.

A lovely chat over tea and cake with a friend, a speedy peddle home on my trusty bike just beating the rain and I headed up to my attic - let the fun begin!

This was my starting piece - something I got well over a year ago and intended to re-create it for a friend.  It has sat buried in my sewing pile for ages - finally it was time to get stitching and give it some life again!

A cute vintage fabric with a nice skirt and button down top.  Unfortunately for the person this dress is intended for the large size is too big and I generally wanted it to be given a bit of an edge.

I cut the sleeves and edged them to create a slight shoulder - adding a cute button on each one to finish it off.
I then added the fabric I had removed from the sleeve to the collar to give it a neater look.  I took the sides in and added a fabric belt to be tied round the waist.

Here is the transformation!

A fitted dress which maintains its vintage style while showing off a bit of body shape and complimenting the figure!  I'm happy with it and really enjoyed my afternoon crafting clothes again!  Once I give this dress away I will try to get pictures of it being worn by a real person! :)

Let me know what you think and send me your upcycle projects!  

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Getting my applique on!

So I've been sewing for quite a while now and in a more focused way for a number of months.  It is easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut and just do the same things over and over again with different fabric.  So I'm trying to make myself practice different techniques and maybe make some more interesting projects rather than just rely on finding fabulous fabrics to make things fun! (although I will always love beautiful fabrics)

Today it was all about applique.  I've done it before but never quite gotten the neatness that I want in a finished product.  I sat down and have had a good play around - practice session over and I set to work.

I found that choosing a stitch length just above zero worked best for me and then selecting the narrowest zig zag stitch that my machine offered.  I don't have a special foot for my machine to do applique so just used a standard one.  Once I got going my best advice would be to take it slow and steady.

I had bought some great fabric at a charity shop last week so decided to use some of it to make an apron and to incorporate in one of my favourite shapes - a star!  So here was how it went.

I printed out a template of a star to make sure it was completely the shape I wanted and then cut the fabric to this template. I prepared the pocket out of plain fabric so that it was ready to go onto the apron and then placed my star on and ironed.
  A slow and steady zig zag round all the edges of the star sealed in the raw edges of the star and gives it a really neat look.  

This is such a simple sewing technique and if you take time to do it well it can look really effective.  This is my finished product and you can see how just adding the star adds something more to the apron.  
It is also such a good technique that uses up small scraps of fabric and turns them into something beautiful.

I'll keep working on improving my applique and let you know about how it goes.  I'm trying to decide what stitching technique to try out next - have you got any suggestions?  I'm willing to give anything to go and blog about it - even if my attempts don't go as planned :)

I hope you all have a wonderful week and as always if you give this a go then please do share photos!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I love a bit of upcycling

I love a challenge and I especially love an up-cycling challenge.  I went to visit a friend this week who was given a cute t-shirt with a picture of a guinea pig on it.  Given her love for her own little pigs this was a great gift but the shirt was too big for her.  So rather than let the shirt sit in the wardrobe for years or end up being used as a night shift we agreed a bit of intervention was required.

Here is what I started with

What a cute face! :)

The issue I had with this project was just how big the face actually was.  Removing any part of the face distorted the photo so I knew the bag was going to have to be pretty big.  I decided to add some t-shirt fabric in a neutral colour that I already had and curved the edges to reduce the size a little bit.
 This is the finished product

I embraced the size and went with it in the end with some chunky handles and side panels to make it have a bit of depth.  This bag will be a perfect companion on days out to the beach or heading to the shops.  As I was creating for I reckon this could be a perfect bag to carry her beads and projects around in!  Check out her site there are some wonderful pieces on it!

I'm pretty happy with it and think it totally proves you can always make something usable from the things in your wardrobe!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

I love sewing but writings pretty great too!

I love sitting down and sewing! I think anyone who knows me or read this blog once or twice would realize that pretty quickly! Fabric - colour - prints - new projects - ideas - finished projects - I love it all!  I started doing the blog because it was mentioned by a number of people and I thought it might be fun - what I didn't realize was quite how much I would enjoy it.

I try to write once or twice a week and other than a little blip seem to be having reasonable success in this area.  I actually look forward to putting everything to one side and sitting down to write.  I was concerned at first that blogging would become another thing on a never ending to-do list, just a chore to tick off but it has turned into the opposite.

How rarely do I stop and take time to reflect on what I am doing? How little time do I spend considering my next step?  I fly quickly from thing to thing and suddenly I am making time to sit and think - to write about what I'm thinking or what I've made this week.  I'm finding that time out energises me and gives me space to enjoy the things that are going on around me.

I've also been amazed at the sudden connection with other like minded people spread out over the web.  Sharing their skills, questions and advice with one another.  Celebrating the skill and talent that each one brings.  It's been brilliant!  Social networking - when used to celebrate one another - is really good fun!

So what am I saying? I guess I'm just writing today to express my realisation that I'm loving blogging.  So thank you to all of you who read, comment, like and share the things I've been putting up! It really does put a smile on my face and I love hearing from you all!

This weekend I'm planning to take some time to craft with the new fabric I got yesterday and as the weather's meant to turn I'm imagining being tucked up in my attic with the rain beating down on the windows.  Whatever I make though I'll be sure to blog about it!