Saturday, 29 March 2014

Hillary's Competition Submission

Regular readers will already know that I am taking part in 'Hillary's' competition for bloggers, and that not being able to choose between two projects I went with both the shorts and the bag!


Unfortunately I'm only able to submit one of the two for consideration. After much deliberating I've gone with ...the bag! I'm calling it my 'Firenze Day Bag' as it was designed for sightseeing in Florence and Rome.

There's more info about it's construction HERE, but just to recap -a few of it's features are;

  • Waxed cotton adjustable cross-body strap
  • Waxed cotton (waterproof) quilted base
  • Polka dot contrast lining with internal pockets
  • Zip fastening
  • Adjustable lobster clasp strap (for altering the bag size)



Much as I love how the shorts turned out and I'm sure I'll get a lot of usage from them if we finally get a little warm weather, I'm most pleased with my little bag -plus being expandable it's already proved super useful when caught without a carrier (I was amazed at how many groceries I could squeeze in -Mary Poppins eat your heart out!).

So a huge thank you to Hillary's for the fabric, and lastly a little 'Happy Mother's Day' to all the Mums for tomorrow (funnily I'll be making a second bag like this for a Mother's Day gift). Wishing everyone a great weekend! x

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Perfect Pattern Parcel

Wow, it's been a busy few weeks for me! I've now sat my last piano exam (Phew!) and am eagerly awaiting the results, plus I've finally finished drafting and testing my new workshops for 'Make & Do' so can finally get cracking on a few projects that I have waiting in the wings.

As we're heading off to Wiltshire shortly to spend a few days with family (don't judge, but yes -I'm taking my sewing machine!) I thought I'd write up a quick post about 'Perfect Pattern Parcel' as it might be of interest to some of you lovely folk.


In a nutshell, it's a limited edition group of 5 pdf patterns from different indie designers which is available for a very short time on a 'pay-what-you-want' basis. As the icing on the cake, a portion of this money is given to charity! (...even better you can decide exactly how much of your hard earned cash goes where!)

What's not to love! The first 'parcel' raised $2,500 for the chosen educational charity 'Donors Choose' so I urge you to head over and take a look at the next one (soon to be released).


I have yet to get stuck in and try them out (fully intend to as soon as I return!) but included were the following:
  1. 'Lady Skater Dress' by Kitschy Coo
  2. 'Dandelion Dress / Top' by Seamster
  3. 'Summer Concert Tee' by Dixie DIY
  4. 'Ava Dress' by Victory Patterns
  5. 'Accordion Bag' by Sew Sweetness

Head over to the Facebook page for some inspiration and pictures of some fantastic looking finished projects!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Holiday Bag

I've seen a lot of folded clutch bags in stores recently, and whilst I like the look of them I wanted something a bit more practical for my holiday -nobody wants to have to carry a clutch bag sightseeing!

It had to be small and light but roomy enough for the essentials (keys / phone / purse / camera / sunglasses etc plus perhaps a cardigan in case the weather turns!).

Another requirement was making it secure for the hustle and bustle of Rome, which is why I chose a cross-body design rather than a shoulder bag which is my go-to. There are no external pockets, plus the fold and lobster clasp on top of the zip fastening should have me covered.


So on to construction! It's put together in essentially the same way as the colour blocked tote bag in my tutorial, only with a zip and fully lined.

If you want a full breakdown of the zip / lining technique for something similar then Ali over at 'Very Berry Handmade' has a great tutorial for a 'Flat Bottom / Straight side Zippy Pouch'I suppose this one's sort of a tote bag / zipped pouch hybrid.



The first things I tackled were the straps. For the record -turning one inch tubes of waxed cotton is not straightforward! Hence the long body strap was folded and topstitched instead. I also cut the ends for this one on an angle as the were stitched into the side seams (above).

I made both straps adjustable using sliders so that the lobster clasp fastening could be lengthened depending on how full the bag is. The hardware is from UK based U-handbag which I thoroughly recommend. I was after some bits and pieces for a 'Cooper' Rucksack as well and after trawling Ebay for what seemed like forever I decided to just buy it all from there!

I think these bits and pieces are what make a handmade bag feel that little more polished.


I cut the outer in three pieces and interfaced the print. I quilted the waxed cotton with a layer of interlining to give it body. I'm really glad that I didn't skip the quilting (I was feeling lazy!) as it's turned out to be one of my favourite features.

With all of the straps etc attached I put in the zip and closed up the side seams (ending up with a  big sausage -above centre) leaving a nice big turning hole in the lining, then pinned and stitched the corners.


The lining was cut in one piece. I added a couple of deep internal pockets (somewhat pointless in a bag of this size but everyone loves a pocket!). You can probably see in the picture above that I've added a little box pleat where it's attached in the middle so that the pocket openings aren't flush with the lining. This way I can fit my hand in to rummage around.


Super pleased with this one, it really turned out just how I'd imagined. Now all that's left is to decide which to submit ...shorts? ...or bag? Decisions, decisions! I have until the end of the month so I'll take some 'in use' pictures and perhaps put it to a vote!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Summer Shorts #2 (Construction)

Last week I posted a few quick snaps of my progress with the summer shorts project I've been working on. To quickly recap, I was sent some free fabric as part of a competition for craft bloggers hosted by 'Hillary's' which I decided to turn into two items -the shorts which I've now finished and a bag (post on it's way!) intended for use during our holiday in June.

The previous post covered a few points regarding the drafting so I thought I'd add a few pictures to show how they were constructed.


The canvas like fabric was quite prone to fraying so straight after cutting the pieces I used my overlocker to finish the edges (as you can see in the picture above).

After the darts and tucks were sewn I moved onto the short inside leg seams. The curved crotch seam was sewn as shown below with the right sides facing.


I could then attach the front and back facings which I understitched to help keep them in place as I didn't want visible top-stitching. You might be able to see this in the close up below -unfortunately it's not the sharpest picture.



Lastly I moved onto the side seams, inserting an invisible zipper in one, and whizzed around the hems -et voila! One pair of shorts! (or rather a second pair... so two)

As soon as I finish off my little bag waiting in the wings I'll post some proper pictures (weather dependent as the fog seems to want to scupper all of my photo plans!) -then I may need some help deciding which to submit as I've been really naughty and made more than one item!

Workshops Galore!

I have come to the realisation that trying to take great clear pictures on a day like today is utterly futile, so I'll just go with it and update them later.

Despite my frustrating fog-ridden morning I am still super excited to be able to share the full line up of new workshops I'll be leading at 'Make & Do' this April and beyond!

Alongside the current ones available for fabulous lampshades, tote bags, cushions and more we will be running a series of workshops covering very basic children's garments (although they can absolutely be adapted for full sized clothing as well!) plus a pyjama afternoon.

I've developed each in the 'Make & Do' pattern-less tradition to leave you not only with a finished garment, but the skills (plus lots of customisation ideas) to draft further items to your own unique specifications.



SIMPLE SKIRTS - 03/04/2014 & 22/04/2014 6.30pm
So first up we have 'Simple Skirts' [£15 + fabric] which will be held on Thursday 3rd and again on Tuesday 22nd April. During this session you'll use custom waist and length measurements to draft and make a very simple colour blocked skirt with an elasticated waistband. A great base for appliqué and customisation.
*A perfect starting point for beginners -a little seam matching is as tricky as it gets!


SUPER SHIRRING - 08/04/2014 6.30pm
'Super Shirring' will be held on Tuesday 8th April [£15 +fabric] during which we will cover the basics of machine shirring to draft and make your choice of a top, skirt or sun dress using custom chest/hip and length measurements.
*Still very simple but best suited to those with good machine control (Pictures to follow!).


SIMPLE SHORTS - 17/04/2014 6.30pm
Next up we have one for the boys! (...and girls of course) 'Simple Shorts' will take place on Thursday 17th April [£15 +fabric]. This workshop entails drafting and making a pair of basic easy fitting shorts, embellished with either patch pockets or colour blocking with an elasticated waistband.
*Again very straightforward but not recommended as a starter workshop (Ask about 'Cushion in an hour' / 'Simple Skirts') (Pictures to follow!).




PERFECT PJ'S - 13/04/2014 2.00pm
During a leisurely Sunday afternoon on the 13th April [£20 +fabric], you will draft and make a pair of pyjama shorts using your own measurements. Using the same fabric / trim you'll also embellish a vest / tee of your choice leaving you with the perfect matching pair!
*Simple construction but not recommended as a starter workshop (Ask about 'Cushion in an hour' / 'Simple Skirts').


If you'd like to come along to any of the workshops above (or indeed any others listed on the Make & Do website) then please feel free to drop me an email or get in touch with Kirsten (either in the shop, or via Facebook) who will provide you with payment info and the measurements you'll need to bring along with you. If you have any queries or concerns regarding difficulty simply ask prior to booking.

It's also worth noting that if you're not able to make any of the dates above then please do get in touch anyway as we'll do our best to schedule a further workshop at a time that suits (subject to availability).

See you there ...I can't wait!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Summer Shorts #1 (Drafting)

In my last post I mentioned being the lucky recipient of some gorgeous free fabric from Hillary's. Having decided to make some shorts, I've spent the last few days drafting a pattern and fitting a toile (muslin) and thought I'd take a few snaps of the progress whilst the sun is still shining! So here are the first pair...


I drafted a very basic shorts pattern using my measurements and a trouser block and altered the darts / tucks to suit my requirements. I cut a toile using some calico from my stash as this will be a similar weight to the canvas like fabric I'll be using.



Then followed lots of swearing bending / twisting / pinning / adjusting. You can get a rough idea of a few of the adjustments that I made from the shaded areas in the picture above.

I wanted to create a full mock up of the shorts just to be sure that I was happy with them before cutting into my precious print. Thankfully I had just the thing in my stash -khaki cotton drill. I don't even remember what the original use was but I had plenty left over to create a pretty nice second pair for the summer.

Keeping the print in mind I've deliberately kept them pretty simple with very minimal top stitching (only at the hem, the facing is understitched). There are still a few tweaks to make, like stitching down the front tucks a little further and one or two slight shaping adjustments but overall I'm fairly pleased with them.


I haven't added the welt pockets yet -I'm still in two minds about them being a little fussy -guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Best get cracking as time's a ticking and there's still the bag to be made!

Anyone else contemplating their summer wardrobe now spring seems to have arrived or planning any trips?