Friday, 19 April 2013

Zipped journal cover

I feel honoured when I am entrusted with somebody's much-loved fabric and asked to create something new with it. 

On this occasion I was asked to create a zippered journal cover with four internal card pockets from a tea-towel.

Sure, no problem, I said. I could tell that the owner didn't really want to part with it, but she had faith in my ability to make it.

After many, many different versions/notes/attempts, I was able to create the following journal cover:

Here are just a few of my notes that I made during the creative process.  I also made two different fabric versions first to see if I had figured it out correctly.  I think 'tenacious' is my middle name!

But it was so worth it!

It fits the journal it was designed for beautifully!
I added a matching piece of ribbon as the zip pull.


I added polka dot bias binding to the edges of the journal cover.  The binding I used wasn't as stretchy as most I've used so I gathered the edges and I think it works really well!

On the inside cover there are also four slots for credit/library cards.

 I'm really happy with the way it turned out :)

And, of course, now I have figured out how to make one of them, I can make more.  Excellent!  (Off to make sure my notes are up to date!)


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sleeveless blouse

Many moons ago, right after I took the soft furnishings night school class, I had a go at making a sleeveless blouse.  I don't think I ever wore it in earnest though.

But, like everything I sew, I do remember the sense of achievement when I had finished it.

I can look at the blouse now and smile.  Gosh, my sewing skills have come a long way since then!

I couldn't figure out why the bust darts were on the back of the blouse.  Then I realised that the buttons were down the back LOL!

Talking of buttons, this was the first time that I had ever covered buttons myself.  And look!  I also must have managed to figure out how to use my button-holer as it would appear that it has button holes!


Monday, 15 April 2013


I was asked to make a costume for the caterpillar in a school production of Alice in Wonderland. 

But the caterpillar had to turn into a butterfly during the performance.  Hmmmm. 

After much head-scratching I began by making a caterpillar body consisting of a quilted green tunic. 

And then set about making a hat with antennae.
Two attempts later and I finally figured out how to a) make a head shape (you know, that is a real toughie if you've not done it before LOL!) and b) how to get the antennae to stand up.
Raking through my supplies to see what I had that would be worthy of sticking up on someone's head, I came across some net curtain wire.  Excellent!  Yes!  That would be it!
Except when I tried to put it on my head they crossed each other and ended up looking rather like the antennae on an old fashioned television set.
Hmmmm.  I know!  Bend them!
And sure enough, after covering them in green felt and making a channel in the lining of the hat for them to sit, they stood up #soproud!!

So far so good.
But I had to find a way for the wings (when they were eventually made!) to stick on the back.  Aha!  Velcro it was! 
But the caterpillar needed a tail.  So I would make one with some velcro and another quilted part.  How hard could that be?
Well, my original idea was to have the tail sitting sideways on the body.  I added some more velcro to the back of the body and the tail and then had the caterpillar/butterfly try it on.  Hmmm.  The tail just wrapped around the body.  Not quite the look I was aiming for!
Much unpicking later, I decided that gravity would do the work for me and I would have the tail pointing down instead.  So I added velcro up inside the tunic and added the tail.
Yep!  That would definitely do it!

But how would the butterfly appear without the aid of a cocoon?

Easy peasy!  The headteacher had already figured this out for me <grin>.  The interval would be called just prior to the metamorphosis.  Whew.

During the interval, the tail would be de-velcroed (!) and the wings would be attached to the back instead.  Sorted!

Note to self: don't try to be clever and try to applique the spots on the front AND the back at the same time LOL!  Just do the front section then the back section and then sew them together :)

And now would be a good time to add straps for the now-butterfly to insert their hands to ensure the wings stay out too.

And here is the end result:
One caterpillar...

And one butterfly!

Of course, the face paint is always a great addition to any costume too :)

The production was a success!!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sewing Bee Challenge: Change a neckline

I can't get enough of the BBC's Sewing Bee programme!  It's about time sewing became more mainstream!

So for my second challenge from the programme I chose to change a neckline.

I found an old t-shirt lurking in my wardrobe that I didn't wear very often as the neckline was too high for my liking.  I had already dyed it from purple to blue to give it a new lease of life, but it was crying out to be refashioned again!

Well, life's too short to wear clothes that are the wrong colour and an unflattering shape!

I decided to aim for a sweetheart neckline.  So I cut off the collar all around, shaping the front in the process.
To finish off  the raw edges I decided to face them with some purple t-shirt fabric and top-stitch all around.
But the sweetheart part didn't quite sit as well as I'd imagined it might.

Ok, plan B.

Turn the 'sweetheart' part inside out and sew along to flatten not only the curves, but also the fabric.


It worked!

This t-shirt is now much more flattering on me.

Argh!  I forgot to check how long it took as they only had an hour to do the refashion on the programme.
Never mind.  There's always next time!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Sequinned boho slouch bag - from a skirt!

How can you not love a boho slouch bag?  So darned versatile and they look great too!

Here is my latest creation...

If you have a close look at the petals and base of the flower, you can see the sequins that catch the light beautifully.

The bag is lined with red and white polka dot fabric which also has a magnetic snap fastening.  You really can't beat polka dots for adding something special to any bag.

And this is the preloved skirt that the fabric came from.  Can you see why I bought it?


It just had to be rescued and transformed!!

Now, if you're really clever (ok, lucky!) when cutting out the fabric, you might just find that the sides of the bag match up too!  Hehe!  I love it when that happens :)

Righto, onto my next project...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sewing Bee Challenge: A Line skirt

Anyone watching The Great British Sewing Bee programme at the moment?

It's fabulous!!!  Anything that can get sewing back into the mainstream is a brilliant idea as far as I'm concerned.

The first challenge the 8 contestants had this week was to make an A Line skirt.  One person lined theirs.  Another added homemade bias binding to decorate it.  The skirts themselves were just three pieces of fabric, with darts and a concealed zip at the back.

Funnily enough, before the programme was aired, I was also making an A Line skirt with some corduroy discovered in a charity shop.

My skirt pattern also had darts.  But it had just two main pieces of fabric, a waistband, side zip and a button closure.

Here is the end result

It fits beautifully and hangs like a dream.  I love corduroy to soften curves.  It's also so very tactile.

This is one of the darts I inserted.  It really does help to shape the skirt.  You start to sew from the widest to the smallest part leaving a tail of thread which you then knot to prevent the dart from falling out.  Always remember to press darts after creating them.

The waistband was a new technique for me.  The previous waistbands I have made have had raw edges inside.  But this was handstitched on the inside.  It makes it much more elegant (not that anyone knows that it's there, but *I* do!) and durable.

The side zip was relatively well concealed.  Given the choice, I would probably make a back zip next time.  If you don't get it right, side zips can pucker easily.  And besides, it's always easier to sew something on the flat rather than round a curve!

I have an admission to make - I've not figured out how to make a buttonhole on my machine until now, either LOL!  So this was a first (and so easy with a buttonhole foot - I really must do a post on sewing feet soon!)

As I was looking through my Janome instruction manual trying to find out how to make a buttonhole, I also figured out how best to use the blind hem stitch too.  So this was what I used to complete the skirt hem.

What do you think?


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Easy peasy sun dress to skirt refashion

You know when you walk into a charity shop and spot the most gorgeous dress sitting on the rail looking a bit dejected?  Well, bring it home anyway!  You can always do something with it!!

This is what the dress looked like before:

Beautiful, isn't it?

But alas, it did not fit.

Did I let that stop me?  Nope!  Not a chance.  I saw the potential. 

I just knew that because the dress was gathered below the bust line that I could easily cut it off and there would be more fabric available to play with.

I began by unpicking the bottom of the back zip up to the waist.  Then sewed that part back together again.  I shortened the new skirt from the waist rather than the bottom, as that had an existing hem.

Then I made a channel for some elastic.  I could quite easily have used the waist ties for the waistband, but decided not to for this refashion.

That's it!

Told you it was easy peasy!

Now it has a new lease of life.