Wednesday, 19 August 2015

'Snippets' Divided Basket by Noodlehead

This Saturday was the lovely Steph's birthday (my colleague at Make and Do) so the ladies and I were plotting a gift from the 3 of us.

I decided to marry two of her favourite pastimes, sewing and organising stuff, to make up this 'Divided Basket' by Anna Graham of the bloomin' brilliant blog 'Noodlehead' (Do check it out if you haven't already -great patterns and Anna has just released a GORGEOUS fabric line for Cloud9).

I picked up the PDF pattern when she was having a sale last year and it has sat printed and cut just begging to be used ever since. As ever, life gets in the way but at last I found a excuse to use it! A word of caution -HEED THE SEAM ALLOWANCE.

Yes you'd think this goes without saying but in my infinite wisdom I cut the pieces and then freestyled the construction which resulted in the lining not fitting. I had to adjust and restitch it twice. Yes.... twice (overcorrected!).

We were pondering fabric choices, Retro Orchard' by Dashwood Studios is a firm favourite but I changed my mind last minute and decided that a sewing caddy would look much better in the very appropriate 'Snippets' collection by Windham Fabrics (we have both in stock at the shop FYI).

In a most brilliant turn of events it transpired that Steph had  in the last few days, made up a pin cushion and thread catcher set in the very same collection! Happy days!

The rest of the set and filled with all of Steph's sewing goodies! Perfect size for sewing patterns.

It went down rather well, so much so that I think I may be churning them out for every birthday gift going forward ...Jemma is plotting her own for December as we speak!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Design Your Own EPP Hexie Cushion

After a few enquiries I've put together some packs of pre-cut hexie templates and fun modern fabric combos allowing people to dive straight in without the prep and give 'EPP' (English Paper Piecing) a try so I thought I'd better share a few ideas for using them.

Enter idea #1 your own hexie cushion front. I hesitate to call it a tutorial as it's laughably simple.
  1. Download and print some hexagon grid paper (doesn't need to be to scale it's just a guide). I found mine here at 'Printable Paper'.
  2. Grab some colouring pencils and get creative!
I started by measuring my templates (not the fabric as these have seam allowance!) and drawing an outline using the number needed horizontally and vertically to yield a square 1" bigger than my cushion pad. The rest is up to you! I went for a simple modern geometric style design picking out colours from our bedroom.

Once the front has been pieced (hexie piecing tutorial here) the fabric templates can be removed. I like to carefully slide the arm of my paper scissors behind the template and wiggle it free leaving the basting stitches in place to help control the many tiny seam allowances.

 I layered my cushion front with wadding and fabric backing and quilted the outline of the gold and blush shapes using a coordinating thread. It creates a great texture.

If you want to keep it simple you can make it up with an envelope back but my preference is a zip so I made it up to match my 'Bark and Branch' cushion with a clean covered zip.

I've said it before but the main draw for me with EPP is it's portability (if that's a word?). I've been stitching away in front of the TV, on the train, at 'The Duchess' and most recently in the back of Steph's car on the way home from the NEC Quilt Show.

Hand sewing on the train.
Last few stitches returning from Birmingham.
I thoroughly enjoy it and the bug seems to be catching! There are a few kits available via the facebook page, and  Make & Do for locals if you fancy giving it a try. I'm already planning my next one!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Appliqué Peg Bucket

If you follow the 'Stokes Croft Stitching' Facebook page you'll know that I've been playing around with a bit of raw edge appliqué. I was a little tight lipped about the specifics of what I was working on as it was a birthday gift but as it's now with it's recipient I can divulge the details!

I promised OH's mum a peg bag a long time ago and have never quite gotten around to actually making it so when her birthday rolled around I thought it was about time!

I'm not a big fan of hanger based peg bags as the opening is generally quite flat making access to it's innards unnecessarily awkward. Enter 'make-it-up-as-I-go' #372 ...the 'Peg Bucket'.

I was faffing with fabric options for ages when inspiration struck in the form of a gorgeous 'Dolly What Not' embroidered card (Sarah -it's all your fault!) so I delved into my scraps and, using a little bondaweb, spent the next few hours embroidering some little appliqué pegs. It looks like free motion, but not having the appropriate foot I simply straight stitched around the edge in the usual fashion.

I think this technique looks best when you don't over think it. As I mentioned, it's a great lesson in letting go of perfection (not something that comes naturally to me!) as the slightly wobbly lines give a lovely illustrative quality.

Coincidentally the 'Dolly What Not' shop has just opened in St James' Arcade in Bristol so pop in and take a look; more on that later!

It was a little last minute so construction wise it's not perfect -for one I'd rather have hand stitched the binding down but simply didn't have enough time. I'd also cut the drawstring band a little deeper for version 2 so that it meets in the middle but it's a good first effort.

I'll keep you posted with a usage report as to whether or not bucket beats bag...

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!