Thursday, 23 July 2015

Local Independents - The Duchess of Totterdown

Another little gem to share in my little 'Local Independents' feature; The Duchess of Totterdown.


Ok so once again this little place is not strictly craft / sewing related, but it does regularly harbor a bunch of crazy crafting ladies so that's a close enough link for me!

I popped down this morning to have a cuppa with a few pals expecting to find myself in a pub. I was greeted instead by a quaint little tea room complete with bunting and vintage china.



I sat and enjoyed a great coffee whilst beavering away with my latest EPP project (to be unveiled soon!) and treated myself to a 'High Tea' only with coffee.... naturally!

It includes cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, a freshly baked (delicious!) scone with jam and cream AND a cake of your choice from that days selection all for a little over £6!


The proprietors are lovely and very accepting of the gals taking over with various craft projects / crochet etc. I'm told there was even a machine set up in the corner one week! The perfect spot for a bit of 'sew-cialising'!

The previous 'Local Independents' posts are listed below for your perusal...








I love finding new places (especially if cake is involved) so send suggestions my way!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Housewarming Cushion & Sewing In-Seam Ric Rac Trim

Last month we took a trip to East Devon and Dorset. Whilst we were there we stopped by to visit friends and needed a little housewarming treat so I set to making a cushion especially for Charlie.


Most of the supplies came from my stash but I bought a 'Frida's Garden' fat quarter from the lovely ladies over at Flo-Jo's on Gloucester Road who have a stunning selection of fabrics. No pictures I'm afraid as it was a quick in-and-out rush job! Next time though.

I took a couple of pictures as I went to show how I use ric rac as in-seam trim. It's my favourite way of sewing with it as it produces a lovely little scalloped effect which, yes I could have omitted for speed but I think really finishes it off.

So below you can see that I apply it to the right side of the fabric first stitching closer to the outside edge. If  your ric rac is very large you can line one wavy edge up against the raw edge of the fabric but in my case I drew a line around 1/4" from the edge to leave a larger seam allowance.



Now when you sandwich it between your layers it doesn't slip at all and you have a clear line of stitching as a guide for sewing your seam. I stitch just to the inside of this (furthest from the raw edge).


Top-stitching after a press is optional but keeps the seam allowances nice and flat. (Tip: Keep your hot iron plate away from synthetic trims by pressing through the fabric from the reverse -ask me how I know!)

Again for speed I could have opted for a simple envelope backed cushion cover but I prefer the plumpness of a zipped cushion so I folded the fabric to create a little zip cover whilst keeping, if I must say, a pretty reasonable pattern match.

Due to the placement and curvature of the cushion pad I should have made this just a fraction longer as you can see the zip tape just peeks out; hindsight is a marvelous thing!



I was quite taken with it on our grey sofa, so Charlie if you're reading this -you're lucky it made it out of our house!! What's your preference for jazzing up scatter cushions?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Rosy Wedding Skirt (Zip-gate)

....and breathe! Wow it's been non-stop since getting back from our little trip to Devon. Now I've found myself with a day to decompress I can start telling you folk all about it so I'll start here -This weekend saw two of our lovely pals Dave and Cat tie the knot.

I had planned some time ago to use this vintage pattern to make a shirt dress. Happily the measurements were all spot on but I just wasn't totally sure about the very high neckline and collar. Anyway, I left it so late that I decided a pleated skirt was the more sensible option so it became one of my patented on-the-hoof projects.


So I set off using the pieces from the pattern above. I must have been a little overzealous with my pleating as when factoring in the fold for the front placket it was never going to fit! Hey-ho. I just figured I'd keep pleating the remainder and add a separate front placket piece, no probs!

But wait, why don't I just stick in a zip and call it the centre back? ...Why? Three zip insertions later and I was cursing this ingenious shortcut.


Zip one was invisible. Perfectly inserted and just awaiting trimming off the excess as it started life at about 18" -broken. Round two...

I had no more invisible zips so had to compromise with some cream standard zip-on-a-roll. Perfectly inserted and super neat, before securing the ends I thought to myself 'I'll just try it on to check' and promptly whipped off the end.

(Donna this one below is for you!!)


I could have cried. Bear (Bare?) in mind this was late Friday evening with the wedding taking place the very next day. Fun and games! So in went zip number three which did the job quite nicely under the circumstances. I even covered the zip end with a little fabric.


Ok so trauma covered on to construction. The fabric is cheap slightly sheer polycotton so needed lining. I cut the panels from both, shortening the lining on the overlocker by 2.5" which was the given hem allowance. I stitched the side seams of both then treated them as one for pleating leaving only the centre back seam exposed.

I wanted a little volume but didn't want to make or buy an underskirt so I added a bit of horsehair braid to the hem. It was at this point that I realised I wanted a little extra length so instead of encasing it with the 2.5" seam allowance I just used a narrow hem then carefully hand stitched it up into place. This does in hindsight make the lining a shade short.


So there we have it. For a 'simple' skirt this one required a lot of thinking on my feet but really if you will cut hoping for the best and finish a day ahead of the event...


You'll have to pretend this is a great occasion photo of me all coiffed in the sunshine instead of after-the-fact in my dark sewing room. I really love it though (and my now filthy yellow shoes!) and a great time was had by all.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Hillary's 2015 Crafting Competition - Laptop Sleeve

A few weeks back I was sent a great piece of fabric from Hillarys to create something for their '2015 Crafting Competition'. The print is great with a hand block printed feel. Due to the scale I wanted to create something which made the most of it -something large enough to showcase it to it's fullest so I decided upon a laptop sleeve (mainly as I really needed one for carting my new laptop to and from teaching!). I also whipped up a little matching velcro cord tidy.

There's plenty of room not only for my laptop but a few music books and board pens etc -everything I need for my evenings lessons.



(side note, I don't usually treat myself to flowers but the stocks in these pictures smelt so heavenly that I couldn't pass them by! My sewing room now smells wonderfully floral)

I managed to scrape together just what I needed from my stash. It has microfibre fleece lining to prevent scratches with a quilted layer of cotton batting to give a little extra protection from bumps, and a faux leather feature band to give it a little more of a contemporary feel.


I found a huge chunky vintage zip in my stash which started out life as an opening (presumeably) jacket zip, but with a little fabric zip stopper magic it was just what I needed. Hurrah! Free (ish) laptop sleeve!

I started by assembling my outer and lining panels. Again, not wanting to detract from the print I pattern matched some incognito patch pockets for the front for holding handy bits and pieces like pens / bus pass etc. You can just about see them (or can you!) in the picture below.


It's constructed in exactly the same way as a simple zipped pouch -only super sized with more features / bulk.




Instead of topstitching the outer I understitched the fleece lining to encourage it away from the zip teeth to prevent it catching.


And a slightly rubbish last picture in my clutches to give you an idea of the scale. I really love this print -it feels quite Orla Kiely to me. I'm just about to head off to teach my Keyboard groups this evening so I'll be taking it out for a spin!


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Me Made May '15 Summary

So the last day in May brings about the close of MMM'15 this year. It's my third year running, and I have to say I'm fairly consistent in my inability to maintain the documentation. Taking outfit photo's every day is evidently just not my bag.

One thing I've found this year is I'm able to rely on handmade wardrobe staples most days without much thought whatsoever which is pretty nice. I'm going to focus on minimising my high street purchases by concentrating on making up a few more wearable jersey basics (I have some fabric waiting in the wings). My three trusty 'go-to' outfits are below.

'Kelly' Skirt by Megan Nielsen
'Datura' blouse by Deer & Doe
Self drafted collared 'Wally' tunic
In terms of fulfilling my pledge I've succeeded in achieving what I set out to. A handmade item at least 5 of 7 days plus adding an additional 2 garments to my handmade wardrobe (though if you don't include the pants then my playsuit isn't technically finished as the hems need hand stitching!). I promise I'll get round to posting the details for both asap (naughty lazy lady).

I think this may be my last year of participation as much like a few others I'm now at a point where I'm looking to focus on handmade garments in my every day life anyway ...plus I just hate having my picture taken! It is a lovely opportunity to see what everyone else has been working on though.

If you've taken part this year (or previously) I'd be interested to know your thoughts. Now onwards to wedding-outfit-making!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Fabric arrival from Hillary's Blinds

This arrived yesterday. Thank you Mr Postman!


I was contacted by Hillary's Blinds last week and offered some free fabric to take part in their 2015 'Crafting Challenge'. I chose from the four below:


I have yet to decide what I'm going to make with it but it's a great interior weight large scale print. I do need a laptop case. Pondering... In the mean time another day, another block!


If you're new to these parts it's for an ongoing group quilt project for the charity 'Siblings Together'. I'm hoping to finish up this week to start assembling and quilting though I have to say it's got to the stage where every other project I have in mind seems much more appealing. Need that final push to get it finished.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Bunny called 'Sausage'



...Just for fun! I whipped up this little chappy after the recent election as other half was feeling particularly glum. Just a little pick me up and despite him being 32 years old he went down a treat!

The pattern is from the sewing mag 'Simply Sewing'. I enlarged it 15% using my copier and aside from a little confusion over the dart at the forehead (took some pondering and trial and error as that part was less than clear) he came together pretty smoothly. That's coming from someone who has very little patience indeed for tiny creature making! So many small fiddly pieces.




He's been dubbed 'Sausage' due to the shape of his arms and legs. He reminds us a little of the knitted character from Harry Hill. I love that his ears stick up with the help of some batting and quilting. Apparently he needs a bow tie!

The jolly little fellow now sits on our Ikea picture ledge nestled between the Nan Lawson print I bought for other half and the tiny painting we bought at the end of the Ponte Vecchio during our trip to Florence last year (also sneaking into the picture are bits by local artists Little Birdy and Sepr).