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1  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Little Batik Spring Dress on: March 19, 2015 07:13:30 AM

Eek, I haven't posted here for the looongest time Lips sealed not that I haven't been crafting, it's just, you know, life. It happens.

Anyway. I just wanted to show off this dress I made for my littlest niece yesterday, I bought this cotton batik fabric for an entirely different thing which never happened, so I thought it'd make a nice little spring dress for her. It's not my neatest work, but hey. It's cute!

Made without a pattern, featuring polkadot accents - frill sleeves, button placket, little bow and pleated patch pockets. Faced with bias binding at neck and arms. The placket was the trickiest bit to figure out, I've never made one like this before. It's obviously in a contrast fabric but also centralised over the back seam, extending into the skirt.

C&C always welcome! xx
2  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Green linen jacket on: January 26, 2013 09:39:34 AM

I've been holding off on posting this, hoping to get some better photos, but between my epic to-do list and the greyish winter light, it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon!  Roll Eyes So I thought I'd post it before I forget altogether...

I made this jacket for my mum for christmas. It's based heavily on her old favourite jacket which she wore until the holes got too big! This project has so many 'firsts' in it for me - I've never made a garment with a collar, for example -- it was a huuuuge learning curve, and it's far from perfect!

I chose a lightweight, pale green linen, like the original jacket. It features a pleated back, epaulettes (my favourite Cheesy) and button tabs to secure rolled-up sleeves (I'm sure these must have a more technical name?!). The buttons are all clear plastic with liberty print fabric trapped inside - the ones down the front are round, on the cuffs are little stars and the rest are bird shaped. They were expensive but worth it.

I made so many mistakes, I don't know where to start! Probably my first mistake was not making a toile Tongue The collar bothers me, I somehow messed up the shoulder/neck measurements and had to make a longer collar to fit. Sigh. Also I oriented the buttonholes on the pocket flaps incorrectly - they should have been horizontal to suit the bird buttons.  Roll Eyes So now the little birdies sit at a weird angle. And I have no idea if I set the sleeves right - they look a bit funky on the form, but actually, when my mum tried it on, they looked OK. Luckily it's meant to be a slightly oversize, casual style anyway.

And even more luckily mum ADORES it. It's far too cold for her to wear it yet, but she showed it off to every guest we had over the holidays XD

Thanks for reading! C&C & questions are all welcome Smiley
3  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Cathy the elf, what's your favourite colour? on: December 22, 2012 10:13:04 AM

This was a little christmas gift I made for my friend Catherine at work. Elf is one our favourite festive films, and we often joke about answering the shop phones like this -- though we haven't had the courage to try it yet Tongue

 I doodled a little portrait of her as an elf answering the phone onto hemp canvas, and got to stitching! It's mostly backstitch with some satin stitch, though I learned scroll stitch (I think it's called?) to make the phone wire :3 Naturally I couldn't resist a few beads and a little sparkly sequin to top off her hat... the text was completely freehand, hence the, uh, delightful wonkiness.

The hoop is a tiddly 9cm wide in total, small enough that she can hang it on her tree if she wants! It took about 3 or 4 hours to complete including design, and I loved every minute - I really need to make more time for hand embroidery, I don't think there's anything I enjoy more!

Thank you for looking Smiley C&C welcome!
4  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Red floral princess line dress on: September 01, 2012 06:08:08 AM

I've previously used this fabric for the lining of this dress (which I wear all the freaking time, by the way). I knew I wanted to make something special with what was left of it, and this is the result. I'm really pleased with it, I already have plans to wear it to friends' weddings later in the year, before it makes the occasional winter daywear appearance over a long-sleeved black jersey tunic. I get a bit excited thinking about my cold-weather wardrobe.  Cheesy Is that weird?

So in the past, I've used commercial patterns or existing patterns to help me make a garment. This time, I was a little more ambitious and used the basic bodice slopers from the back of a book called "How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns" by Lee Hollahan. It's a pretty useful book.

I traced out the slopers, created toile #1, converted the darts into princess line seams (I love the fit you get with these), created toile #2, altered the neckline and improved the fit for toile #3, then extended the bodice panels to create a full length dress for toile #4, and took my final pattern from toile #5. Or something like that. Old bedsheets and good old Dora (the dress form) were very helpful in this process.

Then, last Monday, it was time to cut. I had intended to spend a couple of hours working on it then do some "proper" work, but seven hours later I had a finished dress and no bank holiday daylight left. Oops.  Wink

There's facing around the neckline and bias binding to finish the armholes. All the horizontal edges were overlocked before sewing. The binding, facing and hem are all finished by hand so there's no visible stitches when the dress is worn. I knew I didn't want to line this dress, so for inspiration I kept referring to a collection of vintage dresses a friend gave me. (Most of them are homemade 50s beauties Cheesy)

In the left side seam is a concealed zip -- it's slightly faulty, it was taken from another garment as it seemed to be broken but days later I discovered it actually still works, it just needs a gentle hand! By some awesome coincidence it was the perfect colour and length for this dress, meaning that I didn't have to spend a single penny to make it. Yay! Unfortunately this was the most frustrating part of the construction. I don't struggle with concealed zips on my industrial machine at work, but the foot on my domestic machine at home is tricky to line up properly. I still haven't finished the bottom end of it properly, but shh, no one needs to know...

I added my label and a little bit of skull trim to the facing, mostly so I could identify the back of the garment quicker   Tongue

And there we have it! It's much less detailed than previous garments I've made despite the fact that I'm an embellishment junkie, but that's because I just wanted the fabric to shine. The One Thing I would change is the back - ideally the back skirt panels would be wider so that it would drape more like the front, but I just didn't have enough fabric to bulk it out any more. But nevermind!

Thanks for looking! Questions, C&C are all welcome  Smiley
5  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Sewing bag - zip case with pattern & tutorial on: May 06, 2012 09:45:20 AM

This sewing bag is one of the goodies that I made for aliis in the Unicorn Swap. It's made from hemp canvas (stencilled with a unicorn I designed just for her!  Wink ) and lined with quilting cotton. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

In fact, I was so pleased with it that I decided I'd make myself one to store all my sewing machine's accessories. Yeah!

THAT WAS A BAD IDEA. I think the lining fabric I chose was too thick, and the outer fabric had a fairly loose weave that liked to skew... Ugh. It serves its purpose, but beautiful it ain't:

Everything. Just. Went. WRONG. WONKY CORNERS  Angry
Anywayyy. I also took a bucketload of pictures as I made it - although it RAINED the whole time and ruined the light - so you can make one too (though hopefully yours will turn out nicely like my first one).

The templates
The finished bag is approximately 22 x 14 x 5cm, or  8 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 2".
Templates - print these (each image is meant to be an A4 sheet, double check your dimensions!), seam allowances are included:

(They're a bit rough & ready, I know Tongue)
Alternatively, the main body is 30cm x 22cm rectangle, with a 3cm square cut from each corner.
The corner pieces are a 6x6cm square with a triangle cut from one edge (pick an edge and mark one cm in from either side, then a point 2cm up and 3cm in; join this centre point to each side point)
The hinge piece is a rectangle 8cm x 18cm
The handle piece is a rectangle 6 x 18cm

You will need
This project doesn't use much fabric; I used a fat quarter for the lining of aliis' bag and had leftovers (45 x 55cm is roughly a fat quarter). You'll need a heavy-ish fabric for your outer and a nice light fabric for your lining. I used a plain outer fabric which I stencilled onto, and a pretty pattern for the lining.
  • All your essentials - NICE SHARP SCISSORS (or rotary cutter), pins, temporary fabric marker of your choice, measuring tape, iron - and don't forget your sewing machine Tongue
  • I'd reccommend having a heavy machine needle (the type sold for denim) for when you get to the zip stage!
  • Threads that mach your outer and lining fabrics - take care throughout to match your top and bottom threads to whatever piece is on top or bottom as you sew (if your lining is facing upwards, for example, your top thread should be lining coloured and your bottom should be your outer fabric colour)
  • Cut 2 main body pieces from your outer fabric, and 2 from your lining
  • Cut 8 corner pieces from your lining fabric
  • Cut 1 hinge piece from your outer, and 1 from your lining
  • Cut 1 handle piece from your lining
  • You'll also need about 1m of elastic that goes nicely with your lining, which we'll cut later
  • ... and one zip that measures 22" (I used a closed end metal dress zip)
  • Oh, and any blocks/stencils and ink/paint/whatever you wish to decorate with Smiley
One last thing ... to help it keep its shape, I actually strengthened aliis' case with 22 x 14cm rectangles bonded to the inside of the main outer pieces (if that makes sense!). I forgot to do this to mine Sad It's not essential though!

Now make!

Start by decorating your outer pieces however you want. I used my good ol' key linocuts here, but you could go crazy with some beautiful appliqué or something. (If you do, let me see!)
Then you want to take your 8 corner pieces and press the 1cm seam allowance under on the 3 straight edges on each piece. Align each piece over a corner on your main body (the little triangle cut out of each corner piece should line up nicely over the squares cut from the main body corners Smiley) and top stitch on, over the 3 edges you just pressed. Continue until both your outer main body pieces have their corners covered.

Now! This is a fun bit. Take all the things that you plan to store in your bag, and arrange them on your main body lining pieces until they all fit nicely. Think carefully about where you'll place everything, and decide where you'll need your elastic to be. Remember not to put anything in the outer 4cm, as this will become the gusset. remember that the top of the finished bag - where the handle is - is the hinge!
Measure and cut your elastic (consider leaving a little slack if there's anything particularly bulky you want to store) and mark out all the spaces in between your items - where you make these marks, you will sew your elastic down.
Now sew your elastic down!

Next you need to sew your corners: pinch them together from the wrong side and sew, leaving a 1cm allowance. Repeat for all outer and lining main body corners. Trim the little fold open at the top of each one, and press them all open.

Now, place one lining piece into one outer piece, right sides together. Pin and sew around all edges, leaving a few inches open at the "top" (you need to be careful to line up the "top" that you chose when you stitched in your elastic, and when you decorated your outer piece, so nothing ends up upside-down!). Repeat for the other main body pieces. Turn right side out and press.

Zip time! Aliis' zip went in first time, slightly off but nothing to worry about. Mine? I think I reset it 7 times in total. 7.  Roll Eyes It just wouldn't cooperate. So, measure carefully (try aligning the centre of the zip with the centre of the "bottom" of one body piece), pin carefully... and cross your fingers. The zip is simply top stitched in underneath - with the "front" of the zip against the lining. You could make a feature of your zip by placing it on top, if you wanted.
The gap at the "top" of your bag is where your hinge pieces will go. Once you've set one side, unzip and repeat for the other.

Now it's time to place your hinge. Fold under the seam allowance on your hinge pieces and press.
Start from the inside and carefully place your lining hinge piece so that it covers the zip ends, and doesn't extend past the gusset. Top stitch in place.
Repeat this for the outside hinge, being careful to cover all the stitches from the lining hinge piece.
Nearly there!

To get those nice crisp edges, with your zip open, fold under the gusset on one edge and top stitch between the points of the two corner pieces -- as close to the edge as you can!

Finally!, fold your handle piece in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew the long edge, turn and press.
Fold under one raw edge twice, about 1/4" each time, and top stitch over the hinge (it wants to be centred on the short width of the hinge, about 2cm from the edge that meets the zip). Repeat for the other end of the handle.
Press the whole thing one last time and enjoy!

And there you have it! One beautiful or disastrous sewing bag, depending on how it went. Please do ask any questions you may have, I often wonder if my instructions really make as much sense as they do in my mind.  Cheesy
Of course, you could adapt the pattern to other uses too... if anyone should make one, please post and let me see!! C&C welcome  Kiss
6  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Koi pillow: embroidered, beaded, appliquéd on: April 25, 2012 01:15:54 PM

I've been meaning to post this for a while! This was the cushion cover I made for Leslieshappyheart in the cushion cover swap a few weeks ago. I loved creating it because of all the handwork I got to do  Cheesy

I started by drawing a simple Koi shape out on to paper in the desired size, then cut out the head, spine and fins to use as a stencil.

Once stencilled onto the fabric, I used a water soluble pen to draw in the body, and segment it into little geometric shapes which I filled, one by one, with satin stitch, glass beads or little appliqués (those little corners were seriously tricky). I worked out that each "scale" took on average 10 minutes. You do the math Wink

It's not perfect, but I was pretty pleased with it, and Leslie was too Smiley Check out the gallery to see the awesome embroidered cover I got in return!

Thank you for looking! C&C always welcome Smiley
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Organic cotton button front dress on: January 19, 2012 08:46:55 AM

This was one of those projects that was bouncing around in my head for weeks before I finally thought, screw it!, took the plunge and bought the fabric  Cheesy

Features run-down:
-organic cotton
-vintage cotton lining
-metal stag design buttons
-self fabric belt
-patch pockets
-gathered skirt
-princess line bodice
-topstitched fell seams

It's based on a dress I own that's more formal (it has a little collar, cap sleeves, and it's made from a cotton sateen with a satin lining) - it's been my favourite dress since I got it but it's just a bit too smart for day to day wear  Sad It was a bargain on ebay a couple of years ago, and for months now I've had the idea of recreating it in a more casual style bouncing around in my head.

So  I found some beautiful organic crossweave cotton on Ray-Stitch, and some gorgeous metal stag buttons on Textile Garden, and suddenly everything clicked into place! (I was actually really naughty and didn't even order a sample of the fabric beforehand. My gut said BUY IT! so I did  Roll Eyes )

After an hour with some paper, pins and the original dress I had my first pattern draft of the bodice, and three toiles later I had my pattern. I didn't make a pattern for the skirt... I just took a couple of measurements and ran with it  Wink

As the outer bodice came together, though, I realised a couple of things: one, the fabric was a bit thin, even layered up, to support all those metal buttons. And two: I REALLY REALLY WANTED AN OVERLOCKER. So, uh. I dug out a length of fabulous pink-and-red floral vintage fabric to use as lining... and I bought myself an overlocker.

OK, that sounds really blasé. Fact is I've been wanting one for years, and I save hard. HARD. I deserve the odd treat, right?


It's far from perfect... the waist doesn't QUITE match where it buttons, for example (the belt covers it though, so DO I CARE? NO). And I think one of the buttons over the bust needs shifting slightly, 'cause there's a slight buckle.

Also, I accidentally cut a slight hole in the end of the belt late last night - I was sewing the final two inches of top stitching, WHICH WOULD COMPLETE THE MACHINE STITCHING FOR THE PROJECT, and my sewing machine started misbehaving. Tiredness + technical difficulties + poor light = frustration & hole in belt.


The epaulettes tied my brain in a knot, after I decided to line the dress. I couldn't wrap my head around how I might sew them into the seam, over the shoulder seam. I'm not sure it's possible. So I top-stitched them on at the end Wink

The skirt also tied my brain in a knot a little - I had planned to copy my first dress and pleat it. BUT I wanted patch pockets. How would that work? I pinned some pleats in place anyway, found that I couldn't pleat it (in the style that I wanted) in such a way that I reduced the waist to the correct measurement, then tried the skirt on my dress form and decided the pleats looked rubbish anyway. Then I tried to gather it instead by machine, and the skirt did not WANT to be gathered by machine. So I gathered it loosely by hand. And although still a little illogical, it made my beloved patch pockets a bit more do-able. (Well, I'd do them. They're sexy)

Anyway. If you've read this far you deserve a medal. I think this is the third garment I've ever made from scratch? Comments/constructive criticism/questions of any sort are very welcome Smiley
8  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Beads: Completed Projects / Silk & tibetan silver skull bead macrame bracelet on: January 03, 2012 10:39:09 AM

So, my friend Emma is obsessed with skulls. I think every present I've ever given her has been skull-related.

And skulls are awesome, so I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. She was in London a couple of weeks before christmas and she was describing these bracelets that were everywhere, that were knotted cord with beads and loads of them had skulls or bone beads. She didn't buy any 'cause they were a bit pricey...


It's purple silk beading cord with Tibetan silver skull beads. I've never consciously attempted macrame before, so I stuck to a nice square knot and made the rest up as I went along. She likes it Cheesy and is well impressed by my psychic ability! I think I used this website for technique reference.

Thank you for looking  Cheesy
9  REUSING/RECYCLING/RECRAFTING / What the heck can I do with THIS? / Ideas for broken zips on: November 07, 2011 09:40:38 AM

I've started saving broken zips from work, especially chunky plastic and metal ones as I'm sure they could become something beautiful! They usually still have their runner, but are missing teeth or are torn. I'm thinking corsages, trims, present toppers, etc. I've done a quick google search and come across the amazing work of Kate Cusack, which is totally inspiring, but I'm wondering if anyone here has any cool examples/ideas/tutorials they could share? I'm really itching to do something with these zips, I just can't decide what!
10  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Dryad/wood nymph costume (pic heavy!) on: November 07, 2011 06:03:32 AM
I'd like to start by saying that I'm allergic to face paint. As in, it burns my face and turns it red for days. So as much as I adore halloween, coming up with costumes can sometimes be a bit of a challenge! Normally I cobble something together using what's in my wardrobe/scrap fabric bin, but this year I had a little more to spend...

I started this back in July (is that admirable commitment or just sad? I don't know), if you don't count the sketches from May. I traced a vintage dress to create the pattern for the bodice - I made about 5 toiles before I got it to fit right! - it's fully lined, and the outer is made from polyester glittered tulle layered over creased taffeta. The neckline, front seams and where it is hitched (bustled? gathered? What's the proper term for that anyway?) are embellished with a mix of glass and plastic beads, sewn in place by hand. At the bottom of each seam line is a felt flower, self-fabric leaves, a sequin or two and a glittered fake leaf. It closes with a zipper on the back (it was supposed to be invisible, but the invisible zipper foot on my machine just doesn't get CLOSE ENOUGH!! Grr).

The skirt is a basic elasticated circle skirt, with one layer of lining and one layer of iridescent chiffon. I left the hem raw - and square - and cut a vaguely leaf-shaped edge. This was then hitched (?!) and embellished with self-fabric leaves, sequins and fake leaves.

Next came the head piece; it's a twig I carefully carried home from the woods, glued & wired onto a headband, embellished with an artificial bird, fake leaves, dried lichen, felt flowers and sequins. I used paper-covered wire for the twirly vines. Then the shoes; these were an old pair of sandals I basically covered in more fake leaves, with a little lichen and a couple of sequins. And some more paper covered wire to wrap around my legs.

Then in case I wasn't cross-eyed enough from all that sparkly green stuff, I made a matching bag. Leaf-shaped, with hand sewn beading. And finally my little cuff things - floral felt trim, more wire to wrap around my arms, and bead & sequin embellishment. Again, applied by hand.

((Click here to view the flickr set or view them on facebook here for a couple of bonus detail shots!))

This was a complete departure from the kind of things I normally make, but it was SO MUCH FUN. Plans for next year are already underway Cheesy Thank you for looking!
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