Wednesday, 17 January 2018

An Embroidered Comb Case


This is my last non-dressmaking related Christmas present to share after my cushion and my embroidery, and also the most time-consuming! When I was little, about 7 years old I believe, I started doing very simple crossstitch - the kind where each cross is about 0.5 x 0.5cm. The not-particularly-good-and-very-childish kind. Anyway, I made a comb case for my grandpa with a 'G' on the front. Roughly 7 years later, it has completely fallen apart (actually it stated to fall apart before then, but I wanted to replace it with something lovely rather than something quickly made... and I hadn't gotten round to it!). So, for Christmas, I made my Grandpa a comb case. On a side note, this isn't the first  present I have made for my Grandpa replacing one I made years ago!



































Much like my free-motion embroidery, this was very much a learn as you go project. I have done some embroidery before, but never on this scale or using a satin stitch. However, after watching a couple of YouTube videos on it, it appeared relatively easy and I gave it a go. I love it! I found the process quite easy to get to grips with, and although the first couple of letters took a long time, I sped up a lot towards the end. I used the full six strands of embroidery thread at once, and traced my letters using an iron-off pen. I did decided to go for a rainbow effect, which does seem slightly crazy, but I like it!


Once I'd stitched the letters, I sewed them into a rectangular pouch, which was extremely quick to do.  I lined it fully, and included a drawstring at the top for purposes of voyage etc. I really loved making this, it was absolutely sewn with love, and is both a practical and pretty present. The receiver was very happy. I'm also pleased to have learnt a new skill, I really enjoyed embroidering and can imagine many more projects with a touch of embroidery in the future. The case has been put to use, and you'll be pleased to know that the old one has been kept too, I look forward to comparing both cases in many years time!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Bridge and the Ballons


Christmas already feels like a long time ago, so it seems a little strange to be talking about a Christmas present even though it was opened less than 3 weeks ago! This is one of the gifts that I made my Mum for Christmas, and I think that it might be my proudest Christmas gift of 2017. I had the idea to do a free motion embroidery after admiring the artwork I saw whilst on an Arts Trail. Needless to say, the artwork in question was incredibly intricate and sewn with hands far more experienced than my own! This picture was very much an experiment, and I'm delighted that it worked out so well as at the time of starting I was half expecting a complete fail. I dapple in machine embroidery, but it is not an area of sewing that I feel as confident in as, say, dressmaking.


One of the techniques that I noticed at the aforementioned Arts Trail was the use of fabric cut in circles and then sewn on top of each other. I absolutely love the effect this gives, and used five different shades of green fabrics to create my foliage in the picture. Although its a fiddly and somewhat laborious process, I actually really enjoyed sewing in swirls using my darning foot. You really have the power to create anything with the thread! It was easy to spend hours sewing on each piece of fabric individually. I also included pops of my favourite Liberty fabric, of which I own but a very meagre amount and so it is used only on very special projects such as this one! I think that the spark of pink looks lovely admits the green.


Other details include the two hot air balloons (both in Liberty fabric!) and the houses. I love both of these extra touches and I think that the colours brighten the picture nicely too. I sewed it all with black thread, and when everything was on I felt that something was missing underneath the bridge. Originally, I considered adding boats, but decided not to overcrowd it, and went for the seemingly obvious: water. I wasn't sure how to do this at first, but I'm so happy with the end result of it. I used a blue coloured thread to sew some more swirls, which I drew on using an iron-off pen first and then sewed on top of. I'm really pleased with the delicate touch that this brings, and I like the way that the swirls of water echoe those in the foliage.
I also really like the idea of framing things in embroidery hoops (see my Jam Jar patchwork for proof!) and so I bought a 10" hoop to go around my embroidery. I couldn't be happier with the finished result, and my Mum loves it too! Once again, the benefits of making things for family members is that I still get to see them, so it doesn't really feel as though I've parted with this, instead it feels as though I'm sharing it!

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Big Fluffy Cushion


2018 is now here, and January weather is as bleak as always! Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to share some of the Christmas presents that I made to give to people. I made pretty much all of my gifts this year which I'm really pleased about. So, let's start with... a huge fluffy cushion! A few months ago, we saw a lovely and soft but expesive cushion at John Lewis. At the time, Christmas was a few months away, but after seeing that cushion (which my sister loved) I knew I wanted to make her one for Christmas. Finding the fabric was actually really difficult, it was all either too expensive or faux-fur which wasn't soft - until I stumbled accross Higgs and Higgs at the sewing bee live and I found the perfect fabric. It's called a 'fur fleece' and it is so incredibly soft! I needed less than a metre too, so overall the cushion cost a lot less to make than to buy.


It was a very simple construction. I knew I wanted it to be big, so I bought a super long (60cm to be precise) white zip from Fabric Land. I then folded the fabric in half and sewed around the edges - it really couldn't have been easier. The cushion is approximately 80x80cm. To give you an idea of how big that is, this is my sister holding the cushion. As you can see it is suitably big and fluffy and squishy! It's the perfect size for her anyhow (although can a fluffy cushion really be too big?!).


I'm really happy with this make overall and so is the recipient! It was really fun as well as quick and easy to make, I'd highly reccommend this idea as a present for the small (or big!) people in your lives.  You can see from the close up that there is a lovely almost clamshell effect on the fabric, which adds a really nice bit of texture. I've got several more Christmas makes to share too, so keep an eye out for those!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Top 5 Favourite Makes of 2017

I can't believe that 2017 is about to come to a close! I have lots of exiting sewing projects planned for 2018 (including an anorak and some jeans) but for now I'm going back in time again. In my last post I did a 'sew-down' of the year which looked into other categories, but there were just too many favourite makes to choose just one! I've managed to narrow it down to my top five favourite makes of 2017.



I love this top so much and have worn it a lot since I made it. The fabric is really special and there is a surprise in the form of a contrast zip in the back too, which I adore! It was also a test to see if I could draft my own pattern, so I'm proud of it too. 



Have you noticed the mustard and navy trend over the past year yet?! I don't think I'll be stopping it for 2018! This is my first Linden (I have subsequently made many more) and although I haven't been able to wear it in the recent months, it's still a firm favourite. I love the colour, the fit and the style and it's a pattern that I will continue to use again and again.



I absolutely had to include these! This is one of my favourite fabrics, and making these trousers was quite a spur of the moment decision, I had no idea I would wear them so much. I absolutely love these, and look forward to getting them out again in the spring!



I've talked about this a lot, but I just love it! It's comfy, its elegant and it's stripy. What could be better in a dress?! I've worn this so many times already despite having made it just a few months ago, and I'm hoping it will work well in Spring/Summer too. 



It was had to choose just five makes, but this skirt also had to make it on because I'm really proud of it. It's a self drafted pattern, but the best part is that it used to be a pair of jeans! The brass buttons and contrast fabric just finish it off perfectly for me, making this skirt another favourite.

Thank you so much to every one who has followed this blog throughout the year. I've enjoyed writing it very much and I'm looking forward to another year of sewing! Happy New Year.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

2017 Sew Down


As 2017 draws to an end, I've decided to have a look back on my sewing projects from the past year. Now that I have all my sewing recorded in one place, It's really fun and also interesting to be able to look back through. I'll be sharing my top 5 favourite makes next week (it was too hard to choose just one!), but I also wanted to create a few more categories to be able to see exactly what worked well for me. I've loved every minute of sewing in 2017 (except for the unpicking!), and I'm looking forward to doing lots more stitching in the new year.


When I started sewing, I never would have imagined that one day I would be able to sew a garment with button holes - never mind a mens shirt for my Dad! This shirt has everything, from button holes to collar stands and cuffs. I'm so proud of it, and it feels very special to see my Dad wearing it.



Most-worn make: Burnt Orange Cleo
I'm not sure if this is strictly my most worn make because I don't keep a tally of every time I wear a garment (but then, who does?!) but I have definitely worn both my Cleos a lot. Other much worn makes include my linden sweatshirt, my pineapple top and my coco dress. I love the colour of this needlecord so much, and I always enjoy wearing this.


Least-worn make: The Day Dress
This hasn't been worn as much as I would have liked, but definitely not due to the pattern. It's a shame I don't wear it because I do really like it. I find most dresses hard to wear unless they are quite casual (like my coco dress). Because of this, I would love to make another Day Dress out of a different fabric, and maybe with a ruffle on the sleeve?


Most unexpected make: Black Denim Button Skirt
I really love this skirt, but it is definitely unexpected - It's made from a pair of my Dads old jeans! Creating something from an old garment is yet another thing that I would never have expected to be able to do when I started sewing. 



Most worn by others: Teal Linden Sweatshirt
My family are very lovely and wear the things that I have made them often. I made my Mum three tops this year, and I think that her teal linden sweatshirt is the one she wears the most. It's such a great pattern, and it looks especially nice in that fabric.


Most used pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Coco
It was close between the Coco top/dress and the Linden sweatshirt for my most used pattern of 2017, but the Coco won purely based on the number of hacks I've made from it! It's such a great base for changing a pattern. My favourites are my dress, my pineapple top, my stripy top and my raindrop top.



Favourite fabric shop: Frou-Frou Mercerie Contemporaine
I fell in love with this Parisian fabric shop when I came across it in Paris, and would urge anyone who goes to Paris to visit it! The fabrics are quite expensive, but are absolutely stunning and the presentation is stellar. I wrote about what I bought here. My Frou-Frou makes include my mustard and navy top, my Mum's blouse and my mustard skirt.


Favourite fabric: Aime-Comme Marie Ananas
I love this fabric so much, and have made two garments from two colourways, although I think that my favourite is the lighter blue that I got from Faberwood. The projects that I made are my pineapple top and my trousers.



Most exciting sewing event: The Great British Sewing Bee Live and Suzy Magazine Feature
I couldn't choose just one thing for this category. The sewing bee live was an incredible event and I absolutely loved going. You can read about my day there here. Being featured in a magazine was also a definite highlight of 2017, I still can't quite believe it!


Sunday, 17 December 2017

What to Make Out of Needlecord Fabric

Needlecords are one of my favourite fabrics to sew with at this time of year. There is something about them that feels perfect for autumn and winter. I thought it would be good to do a round up of some of the clothes that I've made using needlecord, to give an idea of what patterns you could use.

            



The Cleo works in a lot different heavier weight fabrics such as denim and corduroy and I think it works really well in a plain needlecord especially. Tilly and the Buttons actually have some top tips for sewing with corduroy for the Cleo, as it's one of their main fabric recommendations for the pattern. I used a needlecord to make this, but a slightly thicker corduroy would work too. I would highly recommend this as a quick and easy make, I love my burnt orange needlecord Cleo. Another couple of dresses to layer over which I think would work well out of needlecord are the Papercut Patterns Yoyo Dress and the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Ivy Pinafore Dress.


          

Tilly and the Buttons Delphine Skirt

When I was looking over my needlecord makes, I realised how they are all Tilly and the Buttons patterns, which I guess just goes to show how much I love their patterns! My next make is my needlecord Delphine skirt, the pattern for which is in Tilly's book Love at First Stitch. I really love the colour of this particular needlecord, and I think that it's quite good for wearing around this time of year too. Skirts in general are good for making out of corduroy, as well as the Delphine I think that the Grainline Studio Moss Skirt and the Pauline Alice Rosari Skirt would look nice.


                    


I absolutely love my needlecord Rosa shirt, I think the pattern works perfectly in needlecord for this time of year. I would definitely recommend using a lightweight, quite fine needlecord for this though. I made the shirt version, but a dress would look lovely too. Looking through these photos I've realised that I've never made anything out of a patterned needlecord, something I definitely want to try! Other dress/top patterns that would look lovely in needlecord are the Celia Top by Sew Me Something and the Raglan Dress and Top by The Avid Seamstress. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Black Boxy Jumper


A few weeks ago, while looking for something else entirely, I came across this lovely boiled wooly/felty fabric from Fabric Land. I gave in and bought a metre of it, leaving with my head brimming with ideas. With such a plain fabric, I knew that I would have the opportunity to add some lovely details, and decided that this project would be the perfect opportunity to try out stand-up seams  as the fabric doesn't fray at all. It is quite a stiff fabric, so anything requiring drape was out of the question, but it was perfect to make a boxy jumper with, of course, the lovely stand-up seams.


For the seams, I just sewed the fabrics wrong sides together, as if I were to sew a french seam, but without then sewing the second line of stitching. For the seam allowance, I used I think 1/4 or 1/8", hardly anything so that it would stand up nicely. This worked perfectly with this fabric and would work for knits too, but would be an absolute disaster with anything that frays in the slightest! I based the pattern off a drop-sleeve jumper that I already have, which was a very simple design - the front and back bodices are pretty much a rectangles, and I then cut along the centre back to add a seam there too. I'm really glad I did this, It's something that I've noticed on quite a few items of clothing recently, and I think that it's a lovely effect.


My favourite feature this the drop down sleeve, where the shoulder stitching meets the top of the sleeve. I love how the details compromise for the plain fabric! It's hard to tell from the photos, but it has a lovely texture to it. My main problem with this jumper is that the fabric is incredibly scratchy, and while it's fine on my arms and where I can have a top underneath, I wanted to go for a higher neckline and it really rubs. Because of this I've had to wear a turtle-neck underneath, but whilst this is fine for the Winter I would like to do something about it, so I am considering sewing a bit of fleece inside the neckline, which should work nicely. For the hem, I simply left the jumper un-hemmed and then sewed a line of stitching 1/4" away from the edge.


Overall, I'm not entirely sure about this, but it is definitely growing on me. With the sleeves rolled up, it looks oversized rather than too big which is a relief, and I love wearing it with my pencil pin-badge! I also like the fabric a lot. In this picture I am 'doing a normal task', my Mum's idea so that I could see what the jumper looks like 'in action'. A surprising concept, but I actually think it worked - I was able to see what the sleeves look liked rolled up instead of down! I know that it's black, but it is winter and it's a nice shade of black, if that's even possible?! I think that once I have sewn the fleece into the neckline to make it less scratchy inside it should be more wearable.