Occasionally it seems that world is in pure chaos with nothing making sense, but that doesn't matter as long as I can sew. Sewing is a form of art, or at the very least creativity, and a form of expression. A great outlet for the tension of everyday life. Also you can make cute things. The craft revolution is truly taking place, old skills are being revived by a new generation, but with a seriously modern twist.

I've made Mario pillow cases, a giraffe print background, and turned duvet covers into summer dresses. I enjoy making something unique, special, and me- then I like wearing it and watching it fall to pieces or not fit properly. Then I enjoy (slightly less) fixing it.

One day I shall have a room filled with glorious fabrics and boxes of notions, and on that day I will have found my nirvana. But until then this blog will exist as my virtual haberdashery and sewing room. Hopefully you'll enjoy looking at my creations as much as I enjoy looking at other blogs, and you'll be inspire to make something of your own.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Orange Waistcoat

Made this orange waistcoat for my dad, at his request and payment, and using the fabric of his choice (orange upolstry fabric and grey lining).  It wasn't difficult but it took about 2 days during which I nearly keeled over and wept out of tiredness.   I drew around my dad's shirt, then made a mock up, which he tried on.  I made some alterations until he was happy with it.  I changed the pattern pieces, and cut out the real fabric and lining. I sewed the front and back pieces together in both the outer and lining material but left the shoulders unsewn and the bottom unhemmed.  I then sewed the outer and lining together right sides facing, then turned it inside out.   I then sewed up the shoulders and hemmed the bottom.  Unfortunately my memory card broke and I lost the pictures I took whilst making the waistcoat, so no jazzy step by step.  But here's the final product.

Friday, 26 November 2010

How to Make the Worlds Most Glorious Banner

 Step One: Buy ATP End of Tour Finals Tickets, and secure appropriate     transport.  Search everyday on the BBC Tennis site to learn which players you will be watching in the doubles and singles matches.  Decide on design- adding humour where possible to encourage televisual exposure. I went for a beautiful double sided fabric banner, support for the singles on one side and the doubles on the other.  I also decided to use the same phrasing on each side, for amusing symmetry.  The kind of thing to make people smile and say 'oh that's clever'.  And I added the flag for each player (grrr 6 players and they all come from different countries) and some little tennis rackets- although as you can see my rackets would be useless as I forgot to add string to them. One side says:
And the other says:

Step Two:   I cut out large enough letters from a magazine and used these to make cardboard templates, I couldn't find all the letters the correct size in the mag but I used the T to help me draw the H, and the O to help me do the U, and so on.  The cardboard letters made sure all my lettering was uniform in size and style, and was a really good idea, also I can use them again. 

Step Three: Perhaps not surprisingly step three involves using the cardboard templates to cut the letters out fabric.  First I raided my mums fabric boxes and collected pretty scraps of green and pink fabric (a colour scheme helps IMO) to use for the lettering.  I drew around the cardboard letters (on the wrong side of the fabric) and then cut them out (with some scissors), alternating green and pink fabric as I went.  I then drew some card board templates for the flag (a rectangle intially, then I made the sides slightly curved to soften the edges) and the tennis rackets (large oval shapes extended downwards).  Then I looked online for the flag designs (accuracy being the hallmark of all good banner making) and raided the fabric boxes again to get the new colours I needed).  I found cutting the flags out the trickiest element, and they were all different designs I didn't want to create a new card template for each (such as the Serbian flag which is three stripes, and the template would be cut into three horizontal strips), so I used the basic template the get the size and shape correct but had to fiddle about with the various elements I had to cut out.

Step Four: Pause and pose for a photograph. (sigh)

Step Five: Attempt to sew the letters to the background several times including machine zig zag stitch and hand sewn only to realise, after several hours, that you own fabric glue.

Step Six: Use fabric glue to stick letters and flags to background.  Helpful to have a little glue spreader to use (I used a small piece of cardboard) to spread the glue evenly over the fabric.  I also managed to spread the glue all over the book I was using to lean on (I was sat crossed legged on the living room floor), others may take head and decide to use the kitchen table- but that ain't my style. 

Step Seven: My banner was double sided so I had folded a piece of fabric in half (if you do the same, make sure you glue the letters on the right way up on each side) so now I need to sew the edges.  Which I did. 

Step Eight: This is when I finally ironed my fabric- again others may chose to do it before they sew, but I do not.  Also when I realised I'd forgotten to add our names to the banner- which I did in biro.

Step Nine: Spend five hours on a coach to get to London, then head to the O2 arena, eat your little packed lunch, and wave your banner like there's no tomorrow.  Until you finally realise that up in the cheap seats there's no way anyone can see you.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

le-roy 3156

Well the name might need sexing up a tad, but I'm quite pleased with my newest creation.  After an unsuccessful encounter with a pattern (not made by my own hand) that produced a sack with arm holes several years ago I haven't been brave enough to try again, until now.  My mum gave me some of her old patterns, and while everything's in inches (and my tape measure is only in cms), and the picture on the front is channeling some serious flower power, I decided that the new brown fabric I had been planning to make a top out of would be rather perfect for one of the designs.    A major concern was sizing, as I have a rather perfect 30" waist, and this dress has a rather crazy 24" one apparently, but on closer inspection the 'waist' on this dress is about 6"higher than wear I consider my real waist and another couple from wear I wear my jeans so I ploughed ahead.

Its taken me two days to make a dress thats almost finished- I need to buy a zip and buttons, and then hem it.  I'm sure I could have made it quicker but I spent a good few hours (not an exaggeration) looking at the instructions of how to lay and cut out the pattern pieces.  The pattern offered several examples of how to arrange the pieces depending on the size of fabric you have, which was totally irrelavent to me- also what's a selvedge? Because it mentioned that a few times too. 

Then it was fairly easy to pin and cut the pattern pieces- although they all needed to be cut on a fold apaprt from one which was fortunate because I was short on fabric.  I wondered why piece 5 didnt need to be cut on a fold, and then realised it ws because its an arm piece, erm so I needed two of them....oops...dont worry a few bits rearranged and I managed two arms which is somewhat necessary for that two armed look all the kids are going for nowadays.  The first step was bound button holes- which was a lot simpler than the incomprehensible instructions suggested, I assume all children in the 70s were sent through sewing school.  But in the end it turned out to be a nice way to do buttonholes, something Ive struggled with in the past.  You sew a square of fabric on the front, then push it through the slit you cut for the hole, then sew it up.

 Although it did take me an hour and a half to do 4 button holes.  The first one is very nice, the next three are good in their own way which is, unfortunately, not the same way.  But I think equally sized and aligned button holes are the hallmark of a poor imagination...Or something?  The next step was to sew together the bodice top at the shoulders, and then attatch the facing.  Facing another one of those simple yet ingeneous things which I've never understood or tried.  But it makes a nice smooth edge to the collar, and probably looks nicer when you're wearing it as it covers the insides.   I also sewed in the darts in the bodice which take in the top to make it fitted at the bust and waist.  Then sewed the side seams, leaving a space for the zip.  The next step was sleeves. 

The sleeves have a rouched edge, which is fun, and to do this I hand sewed around the top edge of the sleeve pattern piece and then pulled the thread which caused a rouching (so familiar to me as an unintentional consequence of my sewing). Then I lined up the sleeve and the top and sewed the seams. 

Somewhere in the middle of this I went to bed, but this morning I started on the skirt element, sewing the side seams, leaving a space fopr the zip.  The did the same rouching effect on the top of the waist, this was trickier than the arms, as I didn't have as much excess fabric to rouch as before, and it was fiddlier to pin the skirt to the bodice than it had been to pin together the sleeve to the arm hole.  Also my sewing machine had another in a long line of seizures, making sewing the waist together all the more difficult.  Grr.
But I managed, and it looks pretty good.  Although I'll have to wait until Monday to visit the Stich Witch to buy a brown zip, some brown  buttons, and then hem it up.   And then, I might try it on...Fingers crossed...

Update- I went to Stich Witch bought a zip and buttons.  Job done.  Total cost of dress= £6.44 (£5 for fabric, £1.20 for zip, and 24p for buttons) which isn't bad.  It fits well but I don't need to unzip it to get it on, so I take that as a sign that it's a little too lose.  Judge for yourself.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Pleated Skirt

I really want a pleated skirt, at first it was a passing fancy but not being able to buy the nice brown fabric I envisage or know enough about pleats I am growing obsessed (in a very low key way) to getting one.  I have now made two pleated skirts that I like.  The first I made a while ago from some nice, slightly 70's, remnant fabric I found in a haberdashery.  Of course for pleats you need twice as much fabric as you normally would so it has only 3 pleats at the side (for a nice kicky look).  Being sophisticated I added a lining, although being a silly I sewed it up wrong and it made it impossible to get into. But a quick untidy cut into the lining made it wearable, although it was still too big around the waist.  So I folded over the waist band which made the waist smaller, although also made the skirt a touch to short.  Its defo a tights one.  I took it out for its first test drive today, and it worked well.  Apart from the lining riding up on one side as I walked.  Oh well.

A few weeks ago I went to Haworth with my mother, and there was a vintage fair taking place.  Being that she was paying I ended up leaving with some overpriced vintage fabric.  Yay.  So pleated skirt number two was on the cards.  Well the pleats were the easy bit, I then had a pleated rectangle to deal with (also with lining youll be pleased to know, mainly because it was totally see through without) and no idea where was the front, back, sides etc.   Hard to get it to fit when you dont even know how youre gonna wear it.   Anyway, I spent the past two days figuring it out and I think Im there.  The pleats go at the front, and I added two darts in either side to cinch the waist.  And it will button or press stud up at the back.  It doesnt fit great I have to say, which is a shame cos I love the fabric and as I mentioned I really really want pleated skirts.  Its totally the way of the future. 

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Jeans Jacket

I was kindly donated by five pairs of jeans by my friend Richard (through this I discovered that men's jeans are comfortable, sensibly wasited, and have pockets big enough to fit things in!!!) to cut up and use the denim.  I unpicked the seams up the legs, and used old patterns I had made when I had made a dress.  For some reason Richard prefers a button fly so I had 3 buttons to use and some pre-made button holes also.   I cut a front pattern piece using the back of the jeans- utilising the back pocket to make a front pocket.  I was able to use the left over waist band to make a cuff, but didnt have enough for two and had to use left overs.  Not quite finished the collar yet. 

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Need a warm top for a cool summer night, but conventional cardigans leave you hot and bothered? What if its a humid spirng day and you're worried about rain, but a traditional jacket would cramp your style? Sound familiar? Look no further than SLEEVES, yes I said sleeves.

I took some old hoodies which I didn't want, one had a stain on it and the other was just a bit old and dull, and turned them into Sleeve Tops.  I took some inspiration from an old top my sister had, and some crazy clothes I saw on the antiform website:
I took inspiration from this site, but like to think of my clothes as rather less scary.  Also mine didnt require any actual sewing or skill, which is always nice.  I just had to cut in a fairly straight line, I did cut the cream top rather wee, oops.  But my blue one worked out rather lovely.  And I added a button, for some jazz.

Any suggestions as to what to do with the leftovers...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The World's Best Trousers

Oh yes oh yes, I have created the worlds best trousers (suddenly Im thinking Blackadder), all the stuff I wrote in my previous post was balls BTW.

I had to make new pattern pieces, this time I turned my trousers inside out and put one leg inside the other, then flatterned them out and used the seam as a guide.

I drew around the front and the back so I had two different pieces.  I then added the seam allowance.  I then pinned this to my material and cut around.

I sew up the legs, then turned one leg the right way around and put it inside the other.  I sewed up the back but left the front open to allow for a zip.

I have also added some folded material (which I probs should have augmented with bonding or something that makes things stiffer) to the waist.

Im not sure what to do with the cuffs as if I turn them up the trouser (which are already cropped as I didnt have enough material) will be very short.  But I dont have a nice piece of material I can use to add cuffs, its just a lot of scraps.

Well Ill keep you posted, I know how my fans need to know these things.