Last month, I made a couple of individualised cards – one for father’s day and one for someone to give as a leaving card.
The leaving card was personalised by adding the name of the perosn leaving the workplace. I used those fabric felt tip pens to colour it in.
The father’s day card was personalised because it’s always been an ongoing joke that my dad is good at Tetris. We would bring tons of stuff on holiday as kids and he would meticulously work out how to use the space in the car effectively to fit it all in! The design is based off an image I saw online.
After a review of my work practices, I decided that it was time to stand up and confront my PHDs (projects half done)!
The list of incomplete projects is threateningly high so I decided that this list needed to be dealt with (or at least cut back a bit!)
Enter Simply Sewing Magazine’s exclusive pattern from The Makery – pyjamas. I think I began this pattern last August and then became distracted by a looming deadline for something else. I’d cut all the pieces out and even sewn a couple of sections for the shorts but then put it away until now.
This project has been a good introductory one for tackling the PHDs because as the cover of the pattern boasts, it’s an “easy sew”. I was a bit thrown off by the shorts being made out of two pieces instead of four, but once I got my head around it, the pattern was even easier than anticipated.
I haven’t done much gathering, and I feel that it shows on the final piece. However, as they are pjs, this doesn’t matter much and it’s been a good way to practise gathering as a skill.
The gathering works well for shaping, and personally I think the fit is good for this make. I could have done with cutting the ribbon for the shorts waistband a little longer than instructed. I needed assistance for fitting the straps as well. Overall, a lovely weekend project!
Got your eye on an expensive yet impressive embroidery sewing machine? Think again!
I’ve been admiring the lovely embroidery machines with their numerous stitch options and the possibility of embellishing handmade gifts with a name at the touch of a button (or a few). I remember watching a demonstration of someone programming in a word and then watching in awe as the machine punched out the letters perfectly. All I wanted to do was justify the cost of buying a sewing machine which did this!
Well, my bank budget (and boyfriend) will be relieved to know that I no longer have this impulse! While embroidery machines are amazing – especially the ones where you can put your design into the computer and then transfer it to the machine to stitch it – I discovered free machine embroidery this year through a local course.
I signed up to this course without much thought about what it entailed. I’ve always wanted to do a textile based course, but they’ve always been a long commute away or I hadn’t been able to justify the cost at the time. This course was a reasonable price, within walking distance, and with my new working hours, I could make the time of the session.
Free machine embroidery (also known as free motion embroidery) is when you drop the dog teeth on your sewing machine, which normally propel your fabric in one direction (away from you). You attach a new type of foot – a darning foot – and reduce the upper thread tension a little. You can do it without a presser foot attached, but it’s a lot safer with one! You use an embroidery hoop to keep your material firm and you’re ready to go!
It’s best to move the hoop really slowly and have a play at first. It takes time to learn to keep your hands smooth and steady as you stitch. Originally, I practised drawing lines with the machine, then made loop patterns and some basic shapes.
In the course, we learned shading, appliqué, writing and using water soluble fabric (which is a whole other aspect to discuss another time).
I really enjoyed all of it, but I am quite fond of writing with stitch. I love looking at people’s handwriting, and I used to enjoy writing stories as a kid, which may explain my fondness of handwriting. I have used writing in combination with other free motion embroidery techniques in producing the designs for some of my Etsy items– cards in particular.
Ultimately, the reason I’m addicted to free motion embroidery is that it is creates personality and individuality in makes. Embroidery sewing machines are programmed to be perfect, but I am always going draw something with stitch a bit different every time I use it, which makes it more interesting.
It’s also a great stash buster!
Here are some useful resources and artists to look at if you fancy a go:
Craftsy has a useful ‘how to’ on creating embroidered works of art. It’s very clearly laid out in simple steps
Poppy Treffrey does some lovely free machine embroidered items, focusing mainly on the seaside and animals
Lou Gardiner is another amazing free machine embroiderer and describes how she creates her work well on the introductory video on her site
One of the projects I made during #miymarch16 was the upcycled pinny from an old pair of jeans.
I got these jeans for my 21st. I’m a bit of a hoarder, and while they had a tear in them where the fabric was so thin and worn out, I hadn’t had the heart to chuck them away.
When I met up with my mum and sister in March, they suggested cutting them up into something new. Due to the location of the worn out section, a skirt was not suitable! However, we came up with making a tool belt.
One of the best parts of making something from something you’re prepared to throw away is that it doesn’t cost you anything and you have a lot of freedom to just go for it! I simply placed a ruler over the jeans roughly where I thought the length would be good and took a rotary cutter to it!
As you can see, I curved the back to make it more apron like, but also so I could keep the back pockets. Jeans lend themselves to being a belt because of all the pockets!! I added some patches to the back pockets and then added a pom pom trim and ribbon border.
I wanted to add more decoration, and following my recent addiction to free machine embroidery (which I will go into more detail at some point in the future), I drew out some sewing related appliqué onto bondaweb!
Et voila! Here is the end result! I added some random buttons to the front pockets and stitched additional detail on the appliqué. Now I put my scissors on a bungee rope so they’re always with me but I do think I need to add a scissor holster to it to improve it.
#miymarch16 may have been a couple of months ago, but here are the resulting images I posted from it below.
Make it Yourself March is an Instagram event. It involves posting an image based on the daily photo prompt – a list can be found on Wendy Ward’s blog from this year.
New to Instagram, I found this event coincided beautifully with a couple of my goals – to become more familiar with using social media and to push myself to create more. It was a great way to be inspired by fellow dressmakers.
Instagram is an easy form of social media if you have a smart phone and I’ve carried on using it since.
During March, I made 4 dressmaking items, completed upcycling projects, planned future projects, made gifts and machine embroidered.
One of the best parts about handmade is that you can make whatever it is you’re making personal!
This is how my bee themed gift and card came about when a couple my partner’s friends with had a baby recently. As the father currently does work relating to bees, the gift became centered around this!
The crocheted bee mobile was a lot of fun to make. I used clear nylon string to attach them to an embroidery hoop for the top of the mobile. Acrylic yarn was used so it should be hard-wearing.
I love the little sting detail too! They were made on the round which meant no seams to sew up!
I’ve been learning how to free machine embroider this year so I used this technique to create a simple card. I’ll be adding an improved version of this card to my etsy shop in the next week.
I’ve been taking part in Make it Yourself March on Instagram this month by Wendy Ward and Emma Miles, which encourages you to post a sewing related photo every day in March based on a daily theme.
Within week one, I realised that I hadn’t made a dress in over a year. To remedy this, my partner chose a pattern from my hoard – Simplicity 3833 – and suggested a fabric he found in my stash. This is indeed a stashbusting project as it’s a remnant I picked up a year or so ago and I only just about had enough material to make it!
I really liked using this pattern. The instructions were clear to follow in general. I got a little bit confused on the zip directions, but then I tend to get confused when it comes to the zip stage whatever the project or pattern!
I chose the sleeve option. I like sleeveless dresses and I think the sleeveless option would turn out great but I chose sleeves to practise them! Considering this is my second attempt at sleeves, I’m quite chuffed! I did forget to trace and tailor tack a couple of reference points on the sleeves template which didn’t help but I just gave it a go!
A new technique I learned with this pattern was understitching, which I had not heard of before but is great as it stops the interfacing rolling out on display on the neckline. The pattern gave clear directions on this, but I checked online to ensure I understood it correctly.
This is the first time I’ve been able to use my tailor’s dummy for one of its main purposes – to assist with hemming! It was invaluable. I pinned where I wanted the length of the dress to finish and then used the pinned line as a guide to press and hem the length.
I would use this pattern again – perhaps using the sleeveless design or going for the longer sleeved version to vary it.
It didn’t take long to come up with this year’s mother’s day gift – mainly because I knew she wanted a new bath hat!
I made her one years ago from the Cath Kidston “Sew!” book. Unfortunately, the waterproof fabric I chose for inside the hat was quite thick and stiff. Also, we have big heads so I think the pattern was designed for a smaller circumference head!
I’d made my nan this green bath hat above using material I got online which I think is used for making tents. It was much more versatile than the thick waterproof plastic for bath hat #1 anyway! I made a much larger template for this hat and added a brim and bow!
As hat #2 was a much better fit, I went along with this design for mum’s. However, I tried a new lining. The fabric I used was a white showerproof material from Fabricland in Bristol. I was apprehensive about using this, as I wasn’t sure how robust it was for using for practical and wearable items. However, it seems to have turned out to be the cheapest and most shower hat like option of the three tried and tested!
Still chirpy from making a toiletry bag for my dad’s birthday, I felt that the hat required a matching toiletry bag. As I wanted the bag and hat to match, I added a strip of the duck material to the top and appliquéd a duck on it too. I couldn’t resist having another go at writing with the sewing machine, so I wrote “like a duck to water” on it.
I really enjoyed this gift set make. It’s something I am considering to sell on my Etsy store in time for people preparing for their holidays!
Crafting with others is a great way to find inspiration and motivation. Here is what we got up to when I stayed at my mum’s for a little craft retreat:
We discussed a possible focus the the meet up beforehand. The main focus was dolls. We have a few doll patterns in our stash, but I found a free magazine kit and decided to complete this instead (from Crafts Beautiful Magazine). This was a fast make as all of the detail was printed onto the fabric and the limbs were not joined separately.
The bunny did come with a printed tail which protruded to one side but I opted for a button tail instead so it could go on the back. Unfortunately the bunny is so small that I’ve misplaced it!
My mum, on the other hand, decided to choose a vintage pattern she found in a charity shop. As the head needed to be made with a kid’s nylon sock, she made the rest of the body first.
As with many charity shop pattern purchases, she was paranoid that there would be a piece missing, but we found them all secure in the packet! What a find for 50p!
As I had chosen a quick doll pattern to make, I went on to my next challenge – recovering the pouffe. This pouffe has gone round the family and ended up with me in the last year. Despite it’s long time in the family, I could find only one photo where you can see its original cover! Enthusiastic to recover it, I completely forgot to take the before shot.
We spent ages draping fabric over it and discussing the design (a reason why the doll remained headless at the time!)
I ended up using my mum’s stash instead of my own! The top fabric is an old curtain she made about 20 years ago with material from Ikea. The base is covered with a corduroy remnant from a shop. It’s a vast improvement but now I don’t want to put my feet on it!!
The goal of this blog is to charter my journey through my own rather roughly laid out ‘craft school’!
Last year, faced with yet another temporary job coming to an end, I decided to apply for a part time position instead. Sure, not the best option when you are renting, have no savings and your boyfriend is due to finish his PhD in the next year!
Okay, so this may turn out to be a financial mess in the end! But on this occasion, I have decided to follow what I want to do and enjoy, rather than opt for financial security.
I write this blog for those who look back at their education and wish they had studied something else. I enjoyed my education, but I’ve never learned to do any textiles or crafts- any of my hobbies- in an educational setting, and that is what I am focusing on now.
Since September, I have been going to some glass fusing and ceramics classes for fun. Neither are my forte, but it’s fun to try something new and something I really couldn’t afford to do at home (or have the space for)! I am very lucky to live nearby an adult education centre which puts on classes which are affordable and although it is a outgoing expense, it is a fraction of the cost of going back to college to study – and a lot closer to home.
From January, I have been extremely lucky to be a part of a free machine embroidery class. It’s a technique I have always wanted to get round to but never have. I’m hoping to follow these sessions with a creative textiles course after Easter if it runs. The stitching class is a real boost to my inspiration at the moment.
I have a lot of extra space to fill in my ‘craft working week’ so this blog will charter the gaps between my official classes too. This may include putting what I learn in short courses into practic or undertaking my own challenges.
Besides learning new techniques and setting up projects, I will be looking into the entrepreneurial side of hobbies as businesses (well, I believe the government likes all courses to have an enterprise module included!), so I will be tracking my endeavours with my recent little start-up: Clobber Creations.
In the next blog, I’ll be letting you know how I get on tackling some unique birthday gifts for my dad. In the meantime, I am following/taking part in the #miymarch16 event by @thatwendyward and @dressmakerssocial which involves a themed photo on instagram a day!
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