The Sewing Weekender

It’s week 12 of lockdown, but this weekend I got to take part in something really fun! Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, this year the annual Sewing Weekender became an online event! There have been a series of videos with interviews, tutorials and fun chit chat and Zoom webinars, where everyone taking part can show what they have been up to.

I decided that I wanted to spend this weekend sewing up another Kielo Wrap Dress, with sleeves. I will post pictures of the other one I made, once I have some pictures of it on (the lack of outside space, or indeed inside space, is making fashion shoots tricky!).

I managed to cut all the pieces out and sew it together (with the exception of hemming) on Saturday. Annoyingly my self drafted neckline needs some work – because it is too low.

So on Sunday I decided to spend the time drafting a pattern for my favourite pairs of dungarees. I found them in Uniqlo last year and sadly they are no longer for sale. They fit perfectly and have become my lockdown staple.

So I dug out some brown paper, a decent pen and set to copying all the elements of the dungarees. It took an afternoon, and quite a bit of maths (to work out how much fabric I will need). Unlike the first time I copied an item of clothing, this time I remembered to add the seam allowance!

But I have now ordered some linen from The Drapers Daughter (using a handy Sewing Weekender discount code to get 15% off my order!). Hopefully, I’ll be able to start sewing them together next weekend.

As I write this, we have been in quarantine for 42 days. That means (apart from 2 very short trips to the local pharmacy to collect a prescription) I haven’t left my tiny flat for 6 weeks. It feels strange how this new normal just feels “normal”. My days and weeks now have a semblance of structure. During the week I teach. Although teaching Product Design over Google Meets and via Classroom is challenging, my teenage pupils have embraced learning how to draw and modelling architecture out of loo rolls and other cardboard packaging they find around their homes.

My weekends are spent making scrubs for the NHS. I found out about the Scrub Hub initiative on social media and waited to see if a local hub would be set up in my area. I knew I wouldn’t have time to run one myself (planning online lessons takes a long time). But as soon as a Wandsworth one was set up I joined. I was amazed by how the local community came together, fundraising on GoFundMe so that the hub could buy fabric.

Within a few days of signing up, I had a delivery of Gabardine fabric in royal blue and an order to make 2 sets of large scrubs. We have a network of volunteers who make deliveries and collections between members of the hub. I hit a bit of a problem when I didn’t have a printer to print out the pattern, but one of my neighbours offered to print all 68 pages of it for me.

Taping and cutting out the pattern took an evening, while the fabric had a wash and tumble dry. The first set of scrubs took me 3 days to make (I made the 2 sets at the same time). All the seams had to be overlocked and topstitched down, as the finished clothing would be washed a lot and had to be sturdy.

I finally had a reason to use all the sewing equipment the boyfriend had bought me for Christmas. The tailors ham proved to be very useful for pressing all the seams!

I also finally learnt how to use the automatic buttonhole foot on my sewing machine, to make a sturdy entry point for the waistband tape.

The second weekend I was asked to make scrubs again, but this time I tried out a different style neckline I had found online.

It has on overlapping v-neckband, so it is easier to take on and off. I found this tutorial on YouTube very useful when making the adjustments.

I also got a lot faster at making the scrubs, perhaps unsurprisingly! Although this shade of royal blue is very hard to photograph.

This weekend I am making purple scrubs, requested by a nurse. This time they are out of polycotton, so not as sturdy at the gabardine. But they are sewing up well.

I may not be producing scrubs at the rate that some of the other people in the hubs are, but I feel like I’m helping. I just hope that these scrubs last – and help to make the NHS workers who wear them feel able to do their job in comfy well made clothes.

Back at the beginning of March, we went to the Stitch Festival. One of the many things I picked up was a patchwork cushion kit from Daisy and Grace.

I hadn’t done patchworking before, and the idea of English paper piecing was completely new to me. But I thought, how hard can it be? And went off to YouTube to find out how it worked! I watched quite a few videos, but this one was very thorough.

The kit came with clear instructions and all the pieces of fabric were pre-cut, so it was ready to go with hardly any prep work. Step one was to draw round the included acrylic template and cut out lots of little house shapes from freezer paper. So I (very sensibly) recreated the house on Cricut Design Space and cut the houses out of freezer paper on my Cricut Maker.

Then I had to iron the paper houses on the fabric and baste them in place.

Before finally stitching them all together. This was quite fun and something I worked on each evening in front of the TV. After two weeks I had a finished cushion front.

Then I had to stitch together the outer ring of paler coloured fabric.

Before finally digging out my sewing machine to create the back panel, with invisible zip, and finally sew the front and back together.

I think it looks really good! I was surprised by how much fun it was, so much so that I decided I wanted more of a challenge. So I’ve decided to make a patchwork quilt. I’ll keep you updated with the progress.

I’ve been sewing clothes for tiny people recently. To be clear, I mean my nephew (age almost 2) and my boyfriend’s friend’s daughter (age 4ish). Once I have some pictures of adorable children wearing homemade clothes, then I’ll write it up as a blog post. But before I gave them these, I wanted to add a label inside, with my logo on – obviously.

So I went hunting for a custom label making company. After a lot of research, which I won’t bore you with (I did fall down the rabbit hole of internet research), I decided on printed ribbon labels from The Creative Artisan Co on Etsy. They were reasonably priced, but most importantly I could get a small batch.

I designed what I wanted on Illustrator and sent it off to Nicky (the shop’s owner) and later that day she sent me a proof showing what my order would look like.

They were exactly what I wanted so I sent back the thumbs up. A few days later they arrived, ready to be sewn into clothing.

I would highly recommend using The Creative Artisan Co, Nicky was incredibly quick at processing my order and the finished product is brilliant!

I always thought that I would finally be a “proper grown-up” when I owned a KitchenAid mixer. Then back in 2015 I finally decided to buy one for myself. I love it! I use is for all of my baking.

But my poor KitchenAid sits on the side of my very small kitchen. Due to its proximity to the hob, it’s been getting quite greasy.

I also wanted to take part in the #makenine challenge this year, which is to challenge yourself to make nine things over the course of 2020. I thought I would start by making a cover for my KitchenAid.

I decided to make a quilted cover, but as I’ve never quilted anything before it was going to be a challenge!

I started by drafting the front of the cover and then cut out the fabric and wadding.

I cut the fabric bigger than the pattern, so that I had space to quilt as I suspected that the fabric would shrink.

I then used tailors chalk to mark out the quilting lines and pinned the 3 layers together. I then sewed the quilting lines.

The final quilted piece looked amazing! I really liked the green thread on the black fabric. I repeated this process on the back piece and a rectangular piece that would make the top and sides. After cutting out the shaped pattern pieces I could pin it all together and see the edges.

I decided to finish the edges with bias binding, which involved a lot of hand sewing!

The finished cover fits perfectly! And looks great in my kitchen. One down on the #makenine nine to go.

I recently picked up a copy of the Merchant & Mills Sewing book. It was an impulse purchase (well sort of). I had to go to Waterstones to collect a large pile of books purchased by my teenager in the Boxing Day sale, and I saw this book in the sewing section. I had been eyeing it up online for a while, so it seemed like fate! The book was wrapped in plastic, so I couldn’t flip through it before purchasing – which is always annoying, but they needed to protect the removable pattern pieces at the back.

The book is 175 pages long and has a folder on the back cover containing two patterns (more on that later). The first 64 pages are really interesting. They contain beautiful illustrations and key knowledge (mainly for beginners, but more experienced sewists can also learn some things).

I think I need to increase my scissor collection!

The rest of the books contains a series of basic projects to practice sewing skills. Some of them are quite useful (such as the Tailors Ham, Sleeve Roll and Travel Sewing Kit) but most of them are types of bags or cushions.

The last two patterns (a Shawl and a Fisherman’s Top) require the pattern pieces in the folder. I was quite annoyed when I saw that the pattern pages need enlarging on a photocopier.

Especially as, with slightly thinner paper, they could have included full-size patterns.

Overall, I think it is an interesting book. I will be referring to the first third of the book a lot as I continue to refine my sewing kit. But I’m not that fussed about the projects.

This Christmas I wanted to make some project bags for my family, as I am (perhaps unsurprisingly) surrounded by crafty people. One bag I particularly wanted to make was a round base Japanese knot bag. My boyfriend’s mum had been very impressed by my own knot bag when I went to visit, so I wanted to make one for her. But as the one I owned had been given to me in a swap, I didn’t know how to make one!

I naively thought ‘how hard can it be’, as I knew how to make a basic two sided knot bag. This one only had the addition of a round panel at the bottom. It turned out to be very difficult, and two failed bags later I decided to search for some instructions!

It transpired that there were very few places with instructions. In fact the only complete set of instructions I could find was on a French site called DIY District. The obvious problem was it was in French, a language I only have rudimentary knowledge of. So Google Translate to the rescue!

So I don’t forget how to make this bag in future, I am going to write my own set of instructions below. But I would like to thank DIY District for their very clear instructions!

Step 1

Draft a pattern. I used the measurements on DIY District. There is a minor maths equation error, but trust me – the circle does need to be 147mm diameter.

All seams are 10mm.

Step 2

Cut 2 bag pieces out of your outer fabric, 2 from your lining fabric and 1 circle from each.

I interfaced my outer circle, but it works ok without.

Step 3

Pin and sew the shoulders of the bag straps (outer and lining). Press flat when done.

Step 4

Place right sides together and pin the centre seams (around the oval) and sew together. Clip the curves, turn right way round and press flat.

Step 5

This bit is really tricky, so tricky in fact that DIY District made a video showing how it works. I would highly recommend going to their site to watch it!

Do make sure, before you begin this stage,that you have clearly marked where the notches are on the sides of your fabric. You want to start and stop sewing at this point on either side of the handle.

Then (and this is the tricky bit you need to watch the video for) you fold one half of the bag inside the handle, tucking it in quite well and carefully pin. Do this all the way down the handle until you have pinned between the two notches. Then sew from one notch to the other. Go slowly and make sure the rest of the bag is firmly away from the stitch line!

Now the satisfying bit, pull the bag through the handle, showing the final finished handle strap. Repeat for the other side and then press again.

Step 6

Now the (relatively) easy bit. Turn the outside of the bag inside out and pin the side seams. Sew and press. Then do the same for the lining but remember to leave a small gap in one of the sides so you can turn it right way round later!

Step 7

I ran some gathering stitches around the base of the outside before pinning the base in place. This was so I could adjust the gathers so it looked nicer when I was done sewing. Use lots of pins and spaces out the gathers as best you can. Then slowly stitch the base on.

Then clip the curves and turn right side out.

Step 8

Pull the lining bag out of the main bag. Remember that gap you left? Pull the inside of the bag through this gap and attach the base (as in step 7).

Pull the bag back through this gap once the base is attached and blind hem stitch the gap closed.

The finished result!

It is exactly what I wanted to make! And once I got my head around the handles, it was easy. So later that day I made the bag for my boyfriend’s mum (and as she doesn’t read this blog (- yet!) here is her finished Christmas present:

I hope she likes it!

I plan on reviewing crafty books here.

My sister is pregnant. Something I am quite excited about. I had my daughter nearly 18 years ago, so there hasn’t been a new addition to the family for a very long time.

At the recent Knitting & Stitching show, I picked up some jersey and ribbing to make some baby leggings. I had found a pattern from Brindille & Twig which looked reasonably easy to make.

There were only 5 pieces to sew together.

Although the cuffs were tricky because they struggled to fit around my sewing machine arm.

It only took about 30 mins to cut and sew the trousers, and I had enough fabric to make 2 pairs!

Fingers crossed my sister likes them…

I had been hoping to sew the Eve Dress from SewOverIt for a while. But the pattern was only available through one of their classes. I was stalking the website, waiting for a class to be scheduled at the Clapham branch, when they released the Eve dress as a paper pattern.

 

I purchased the pattern from the Clapham branch, with this beautiful navy fabric. But as the fabric was quite expensive, I knew I needed to make a toile first. Especially as I usually need to adjust patterns to fit me. I also wanted to work out how I was going to finish the inside, as I don’t (yet!) have an overlocker.

 

 

I really liked version 1 of the dress, with its floaty sleeves and dipped hem. So I found some cheap fabric, which was unfortunately bright purple – a colour I can’t really wear, and made up version 1.

 

 

As you can probably see, my cheap fabric was a little too stiff (hence the sleeves sticking out, instead of draping). But it did show me some important things. My hand shows where my natural waist is, so the dress waist is too high.

 

 

This is more obvious here, so I’m going to lengthen the bodice by 1″. I also didn’t really like the cap/floaty sleeves.

 

 

They felt impractical for a work dress, so I decided to unpick them and make the longer sleeves to see if I preferred them.

 

 

I much preferred the longer sleeves, but they were a little too tight around my upper arm, so I am going to make the sleeve a bit wider. I also decided to change the skirt to version 2 as I don’t think the dipped hem suits me (so in summary, I should have just made version 2 to start with!).

 

 

One thing that worked perfectly was the finishing of the raw edges. I decided to go with Hong Kong finished seams, using bias binding.

 

So I’ve got some coral bias binding that will go really nicely with the pattern on the navy fabric.

So to summarise the changes needed:

  • Change to version 2.
  • Lengthen the bodice by 1″.
  • Widen the sleeves.
That’s not bad, compared to how many changes I normally have to make (the joys of being tall). Now I need to find someone my size, who suits wearing bright purple! Any ideas?

I’m a teacher (something you may have picked up on this blog). I teach mainly woodwork, in a dusty messy workshop, while wearing a ‘suit’ and fancy shoes (I’ll put a picture of my shoes at the end of this post, so you can see what I’m talking about). I hate wearing lab coats, they get too hot and look really frumpy, so I’ve always made my own apron.

As my current apron is approaching its 6th birthday, and is looking very tired, ripped and covered in glue, I thought it was time to make a new one. I hunted through Etsy looking for a reasonably flattering apron pattern. I could have drafted my own, but I really couldn’t be bothered! I came across this Sweetheart apron from The Seasoned Homemaker and thought it could be what I was looking for.

I made it up in a basic polycotton to check the fit and unsurprisingly needed to make some minor adjustments. I had to extended the bodice by about 2″ to bring the waist to where my natural waistline is. I also extended the top edge of the neckline, because I wanted a bit more coverage to protect my clothes from dust and dirt. Finally, I made the skirt slightly more rectangular and added 4″ to the length as I felt the flared skirt could be a little dangerous and my legs needed more coverage.

A friend at school had designed me my own logo, so I used PrinFab to get some custom printed fabric. They were incredibly fast, and my new fabric looked lovely. I got it in a classic plain cotton, which feels quite sturdy.

I bought some Navy Cotton Drill for the main apron and found some coral coloured bias binding that matched the flamingos. The finished apron is perfect. I added in an extra pocket, as you can never have enough storage as a teacher!

As you see, I used the bias binding to edge the whole apron, but I am particularly proud of my Hong Kong finished princess seams on the inside.

The pattern was easy to follow, very clear instructions. Hopefully, this apron lasts another 6 years…..

Finally, as promised, a picture of my new school shoes (and yes, they are as sparkly as the picture suggests).

After making my first Ultimate Wrap Dress, I knew I had to tweak the pattern quite a bit to make it fit me properly.

I needed to drop the waist down by 1 1/2 inches and lengthen the dress by at least 4 inches. I also wanted to add darts in the back neckline to bring the shoulders in, as this would, in turn, bring up the front of the dress.

I picked up some lovely navy scuba (at only £6 a metre) from my local haberdashery and set to work. After I had finished the dress, I realized that I also needed to add darts to the front slope. Unfortunately, I had already finished adding the facing down the front using a very close zigzag stitch (which is a nightmare to unpick). So after some creative bodging, I added darts to the front and managed to get them to lie reasonably flat (and added them to my paper pattern, so they are ready for next time).

I asked my teenager to take some pictures of me wearing the finished dress, it was raining outside, so we had to use our not very exciting hallway as a backdrop!

I’m really pleased with the finished length, and the waist seems to be perfectly placed

The front isn’t too deep, so I can wear it to work and most importantly it doesn’t gap open from the side!

I’m so impressed with this wrap dress, now that I have finished tweaking the pattern, that I went out to Sew Over It in Clapham to pick up some fancier jersey (my local haberdashery doesn’t tend to have much in stock).

So here is the fabric to make my next version, up close it has a really nice texture and it drapes really well.

After setting up my new machine, I finally got to sew together the pieces for my Ultimate Wrap Dress from Sew Over It.

It was very easy to put together, and being able to just press ‘start’ on a sewing machine and let it sew with a little steering from me was a pleasant surprise.

The finished dress was much shorter than I anticipated, so it’s ended up being a tunic dress (to be worn with leggings). I was quite surprised by this, as I’m only 5’10”.

Plus the tie strap hole is a little too high and doesn’t sit on my waist. But I absolutely love how this fabric looks. I may have to buy some more, especially as it comes in different colours!

So I am going to buy some more jersey and try again. Next time I will:

  1. Adjust the front slope so it ends on my waist, then the straps will be at the right point.
  2. Add a couple of darts in the back, so the front comes up a bit higher. This will also pull the shoulders seams up slightly, so it will sit better.
  3. Add about 4″ to the bottom, so it hopefully hits my knee.

Last weekend I intended to make my Ultimate Wrap Dress from Sew Over It, using the fabric I bought from Girl Charlee at the Knitting & Stitching show. But my beloved 1940s zigzag machine stopped working.

The needle wouldn’t move when the foot pedal was pressed. I tried everything, checking the wheel at the end was tight, looking inside at all the parts. But I couldn’t get it to work. I had been contemplating buying a more modern machine for a while, and this seemed like a sign that now was the time.

I happened to be going to Oxford Street on Sunday, so I popped into John Lewis to see what sewing machines they had.

I quite liked the Brother JK4000, but I wasn’t sure how heavy it was going to be (ironic when you consider I’ve been using vintage cast iron machines for the last few years).

There was also the Janome 5030, but as there wasn’t anyone around who could demo the machines to me I didn’t feel that I could make an objective decision.

Then I remembered the machines I had used in the Sew Over It course I went on last year. After checking which ones they were, I did a bit of online price comparison and purchased one.

So here is my lovely new Janome CXL301. I’m still setting it up, but I’m hoping to sew together the dress pieces have had ready for a machine that actually works.

Today I went to Olympia (via non-working trains, torrential rain and wind that wouldn’t let my umbrella stay the right way round) to visit the Knitting & Stitching Show. The last time I went I felt very overwhelmed by the variety of stalls on offer, so this time I went with a plan and a better budget!

I wanted to visit Sew Over It to see if I could get their new skirt pattern, or pick up the wrap dress pattern. I also wanted to try and get some fabric to go with the pattern I picked up. Lastly, I wanted to try and pick up some yarn for a secret project.

As I predicted there were so many stalls with all kinds of things.

There was the most amazing ribbon stall called Crafty Ribbons. I picked up some 1m ribbon, I plan on turning them into lanyards (once I get some bag clasps).

I managed to pick up the yarn for my secret project from Debonnaire (no picture of specific yarn, just in case a certain person is reading this!)

I found Sew Over It and bought the pattern for the wrap dress and so popped to the Girl Charlee stall (they are lovely by the way) to get some jersey for the dress.

Finally while browsing the numerous knitting stalls, I found a stall that specialized in Knit Pro needles. I bought my set of interchangeable Nova needles many years ago. The bag they came in has split, and much though I love them they are very ‘boring’  (I feel very middle class saying this!). I spotted the new(ish) Zing interchangeable and fell in love. Fortunately, I had enough left in my budget so I bought myself a new set of needle tips.

It was a fantastic day and I now have several projects to keep myself busy with. If you get the chance to go the Knitting & Stitching Show then I would recommend going in the morning. It seems to get busier around lunchtime, by which time I was done and ready to go home.

I’m in the process of updating my work wardrobe ready for the start of term. I’ve been buying a few pieces but also making some myself. I’ve almost finished the ‘Anderson Blouse’, I just need to redo the bottom hem as I’m not happy with the way it turned out.

I’ve had a pattern from Burda for a panelled stretchy skirt for a while, so I thought it about time to start making it.

I had this textured black jersey in my stash. I thought it would work well with the panels.

Annoyingly Burda patterns that you print yourself require all the seam and hem allowances to be added. Fortunately, I had a little sewing gauge that makes this so much easier.

I also had to get out my other sewing machine (which I got at a car boot sale for £6). It does a lovely zigzag stitch, but it is a little fiddly to set up. These are the controls for setting the zigzag.

It was really easy to refurbish and now works like a dream. I keep thinking I should get a more modern machine, so I have a choice of straight or zigzag (without having to change machines!).

After cutting out all the pieces for the skirt, I did a test sew to check the zigzag worked ok on the fabric. Fortunately, I had lots of spare fabric.

It worked perfectly, so now I need to start sewing together the numerous panels.

Work on the Anderson blouse continues (I’m sure you’re getting bored of these posts!). The sleeves are made, but completing the flat felled seam inside the sleeve was very tricky.


On the first attempt I managed to catch part of the sleeve, so had to unpick and try again. The first sleeve is now attached to the body.

I went to the local market to pick up some buttons for the cuffs. As they were so cheap (15p each), I chose an ivory coloured pair and a black pair, so I could try and them out against the fabric.

I think I am leaning towards the ivory button.

Sewing is going to have to wait for a bit, the sewing machine is away so I can tidy my flat as I have my parents visiting for dinner tonight. So enough blogging, off to wheel out the vacuum (there are bits of thread everywhere!).

While my daughter was at her friend’s house, I managed to get some more work done on the Anderson Blouse. After unpicking the shoulder seams more than once, I managed to get them lined up in such a way so I could create the flat felled seam. I tried on the blouse shell (sleeves come next), and it fits really well.

My daughter returned home late in the evening bearing cupcakes:

Apparently they are ‘accidentally gluten-free, and taste a bit like rice’, I shall try one later!

I’ve been making homemade lemonade this week and was going to write up the adapted recipe I used for this blog. But the weather was grey and overcast for most of the day, so I’ve been struggling to take a good picture to finish off the post – hopefully, tomorrow…..

Today I thought I would try out some seams on the fabric, especially as I wanted to encase the raw edges of the fabric as it frays very badly. Fortunately, Sew Over It were very generous with their fabric estimations, so I had plenty of spare fabric after cutting out my pattern pieces

As my sewing machine can only do a straight stitch, I tried out a French Seam and a Flat Felled Seam.

When I compared the finished straight seams I definitely preferred the flat felled seam. It lies completely flat and was slightly easier to do (no juggling with seam allowance mathematics). Although the French seam looked neater on the outside, I didn’t like the feel of it on the inside, plus I knew I would have to cope with a gathered seam and a set-in sleeve and they are more difficult with a French seam.

I then decided to test the flat felled seam in both a set-in sleeve shape and a gathered straight edge.

The flat felled seam worked well, but I need to be more careful when sewing so I don’t catch any of the fabric in the seam.

So now I have tested everything I can think of, it’s time to take the plunge and sew the actual blouse!

While my daughter had a friend round (the teenagers spent most of the day eating me out of house and home and watching anime), I traced my Anderson Blouse pattern. Ironed the fabric (it’s one that wrinkles if you just look at it wrong), pinned out my pattern pieces and cut them out.

Then I read the first instruction from Sew Over It.

Hmm, this could be tricky. As you may already know, I sew on a vintage 1920s Singer hand-crank sewing machine.

This lovely sewing machine can only do a straight stitch, and only forwards. You have to physically change the direction of the fabric to go in the other direction.

I think I am going to try and sew 10mm from the edge of a test bit of fabric to see if that works as stay stitching.

Slightly related, if you are thinking of trying a Sew Over It pattern, I can report that the instructions are very clear (with photographic diagrams).

I’ve been admiring the Anderson Blouse from Sew Over It for a while. When I realised that one of their shops was in Clapham North (only a few tube stops from me) I decided to take a trip.

The ladies in the shop were lovely, but annoyingly they didn’t have any physical patterns for the Anderson Blouse. So I picked up some fabric and decided to buy the PDF version of the pattern when I got home.

I must admit that I had forgotten how much I hate PDF patterns, especially the faff I have to go through to print them out. You can’t customise the scale of the page when printing from an iPad, so I had to go and dig out my laptop. After a lot of trial and error (mainly my laptop refusing to recognise the printer), I ended up digging out my printer cable and connecting them together.

Remember to scale your pages to 100% to make sure the pattern prints out at the correct scale. 32 pages later, I had a pile of paper ready to be stuck together.

After a lot of sticky tape and patience (and possibly a little swearing), the pattern was stuck together. Now all I need to do is trace the pattern onto tracing paper, but I think that is a job for tomorrow.

The fabric I picked up is lovely and drapey, I think it is Crepe de Chine. I love the feathers and I hoping it will look nice as a finished blouse.

I found a Sew Over It kit to make a tie when I was last in John Lewis. As it was on sale for £5, I thought it would be perfect for a first attempt at tie making. The kit included the pattern, fabric, domette and thread – so a bargain!

The fabric included was a dark blue cotton with polka dots. There was a small amount of pale blue cotton to make the lining at each end.

The pattern instructions were easy to follow, but it does help if you read them carefully! I made some basic mistakes and had to unpick and try again. But the second time around it worked fine.

Annoyingly the domette pattern seemed too big (either that or my sewing was really off, despite being really careful with my seam allowances). So I had to trim it down.

The finished tie had slightly wonky ends, but I suspect that it due to my poor domette trimming!

It only took an afternoon, and I think I will make more ties in the future. I just need to get some more fabric (and domette fabric) and be more careful with trimming the pieces.

So after a close look at my Singer, I found a thread wrapping itself around the crank wheel.

Black thread on a black machine proved quite challenging! But at least I was up and running again.

As the blanket rows filled it became more and more unwieldy.

I kept having to fold the filled rows over to stop it from suddenly cascading over the edge of the table. But eventually, I was down to the last row.

Before starting to fill it, I trimmed off the excess fabric leaving just over 1″ for a hem. I also unpicked some of each columns so I had space to fold the edge under.

Then as I filled each pocket I folded and pinned each section to stop the beans from escaping.

Then I carefully sewed along the top, pausing at each column divider to sew down the column to replace the stitches I had unpicked.

And then it was finished (to be fair I feel like my upper body has done an epic workout!)

I think the shark fabric has worked well and looks quite effective with the pockets.

And I think the contrast of fleece and fabric also works well. We’ll just have to wait and see what the reaction is next week when she unwraps it! (I’ll try and take some pictures……)

Following on from last week, today I sewed the channels in the blanket.

I marked them at 10″ intervals to start and pinned the fabric in place, then I sewed from the bottom of the blanket to the top. The fleece stretched and moved while sewing, but I think this would ease if I had a walking foot.

Then I divided it again so I had channels that were 5″ apart and sewed again. This time I didn’t need to pin as the previous channels helped to hold it in place.

I also marked some rows 5″ wide in preparation for filling. I used a 1/4 cup measure (I had some American cups from my muffin making) and poured plastic beans into each channel.

Then I sewed along the row, unfortunately, with my first row lots of the beans tried to escape and it was really hard to hold them in place. So for the second row, I pinned above the beans to secure them better.

1 kg of plastics beans comfortably filled 3 rows of 5″ squares. But after I had sewed 5 rows my beloved Singer 99k started acting up. The hand crank became very hard to turn. I checked all the mechanisms and gave it an oil, but it didn’t help. After posting on a Ravelry forum for help, someone suggested that maybe there was a loose thread that was stopping it from moving, so tomorrow I shall dig out a torch and hunt for a rogue thread – so the blanket is on hold for now!

I have 2 weeks to go until her birthday, so this needs to be fixed quickly!

My daughter’s 15th birthday is rapidly approaching, so I needed to work out what to get her. It just so happens that she has recently been diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum (which has answered so many questions!).

She has used heavy things (like sofa cushions) for years to help calm herself when she gets upset, so when she found out about weighted blankets it seemed like an ideal potential present. The only problem is they are expensive!

So after lots of research into sites like Sharing the Weight, I figured I could make one myself.

So here is the first stage of making a weighted blanket:

I bought fabric.

My daughter loves Sharks, and I managed to find this printed quilting fabric called Yikes!

I also picked up some red fleece for the back and plain black polio to line the fleece (as I had read that the fleece can make it difficult to get plastic pellets in).

I stitched together a large rectangle inside out so that when I turned it the right way round I would get a Shark, Poplin, Fleece sandwich.

Approximate size after sewing is 40″ across and more than 50″ high. I’m going to trim the height once I work out how many rows I want. But I’m aiming for 10 x 4″ columns.

I then topstitched around the sides and base. Next weekend I am going to see the columns and start filling them with poly beads. I have already purchased 4kg of poly beads from a shop called Tinkerbell Creations (as they were the most cost-effective I found in the UK).

I’m a little worried about sewing the beads into the blanket as it is already quite unwieldy when sewing, but that is mainly because I’m sewing on a hand crank machines. So I only have 1 hand to support and steer the fabric. I already have some spectacular scratches on my arms from the pins, so let’s see how mangled I get next weekend!

Despite my lack of postings, I have been quite activity sewing this year. One of my favourite patterns has been the Arielle skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. I’ve already made two for school and am planning on making another before term starts again.

But as I needed a new ‘summer’ skirt to wear this week, I thought that it would work well in a lightweight denim.

I found the lightest denim I could at my local Haberdashery and also picked up some fabulous buttons and almost matching gingham bias binding.

My Singer has a really good buttonholer, especially when you consider it’s from the 1930s. It is oddly soothing to crank the handle and watch buttonholes being created!

This skirt is really easy to fit. Plus as I seem to be a lot taller than Tilly (or her target audience) the long line skirt finishes almost exactly on my knee. I did shorten it by one buttonhole for this skirt as I wanted something a little above the knee.

Lastly, the finish on the inside is really nice, I like how the bias binding completes it.

When I have access to another person I’ll try and get some photos of it on…

While looking around the car boot sale that happens every Sunday near me, I came across this beautiful sewing machine.

You can see that I’ve already bought it and taken it home! I was astounded when the lady on the stall sold it to me for just £6! It even came in its case.

I’ve been scouring the Internet all week trying to find out what kind of machine it is. I’m pretty sure its a Brother 651 (originally by the company Jones, who were taken over by Brother in 1968). I haven’t managed to date it, but I reckon it’s 1950s or 1960s.

It needs some work doing to it, for example, it’s missing its feed dog cover.

But I found one on eBay, so that’s on its way. It does need a lot of cleaning! And I will be replacing the motor on the back. But as there seem to be quite a few YDK rear mount motors available in various online shops, this shouldn’t be too hard.

Annoyingly the top section catch is broken, so the flap won’t stay down. But I have a workshop and a 3D printer, so I think I’ll be able to sort something out!

I’m quite excited to see how this progresses.

Every 6 (or 7) years I design a cross stitch that represents my life at that moment in time. It started in 2000 when my daughter was born. Last year I designed the 3rd cross stitch and started embroidering it. Finally a year later it is finished (I will be honest and confess that it was in hibernation for about 7 months of the year!).

I designed it using an iPad app called Stitch Sketch which was really easy to use.

Here you can see a QR code I turned into a cross stitch pattern. It’s also quite useful that you can choose to design in normal RGB colours, or using the DMC colour chart.

I printed out the various design I made (some were purchased from Etsy and adapted) then stuck them together the old fashioned way using masking tape.

So here is the finished cross stitch:

As you can see, now my daughter is a teenager our life has become very geeky! I am also very proud that the QR code works, when you scan it you can read ‘Katie and Charlie 2013’.

The next thing I am planning on making is the Mae Blouse from Blue Ginger Doll. I bought the pattern and fabric 2 weeks ago and have been gradually tracing it.

Unfortunately, I have also damaged my back (it has all the symptoms of sciatica). It has been getting worse in the last few weeks and I am currently waiting to be referred for an MRI.

It is now at the stage where I am taking incredibly powerful medication many times a day and am unable to sit on a chair for more than about 10mins (kind of makes sewing tricky).

So until I start improving, there won’t be many blog posts from me. Bear with me, I hope to be back in action soon…….

This pattern arrived at the start of the holidays. I’ve been looking forward to starting it for a while.

It’s from Simple Sew (and they have quite a few other patterns I have my eye on). I bought this fabric to make it from, a polka dot medium weight cotton and a turquoise skirt lining.

Normally I try and encase my seams, as I don’t have an overlocker and my sewing machine can only do straight stitch. When I make tops I tend to use French seams, but these are too bulky for skirts. Then I came across a flat felled seam (courtesy of this very helpful tutorial). So I thought I would do a test to see if it worked with my fabric.

It worked well on a straight seam, but I was unsure how easy it would be to do on curved seams (and this skirt has a lot of curved seams!).

I am quite pleased with the final finish of the skirt, it fits really well (and I am going to have to make some more with different patterns!)

When I added the lining (despite the skirt pattern not having a lining – I had to improvise) I was quite pleased to discover that the way I had made it meant that no raw seams are visible!

Sorry – just felt like showing off the fabulous fit of this skirt again!

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    Read more…


  5. Black Lives Matter

    In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.

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