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Personalised handbag

April 17, 2018

I recently made a handbag as a gift for a friend, using a pattern from a book ‘Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew’ by Yuka Koshizen.  The pattern is called ‘Left Bank Granny Bag’, and is the one shown on the front cover.  I’ve had the book for several years – it was a gift from my friend Aileen – and I’m glad I finally used it!

I chose some navy butcher stripe canvas for the outer fabric, and lined it with red gaberchino.  The result is a hard-wearing but soft bag, very much like a Cath Kidston cotton duck handbag, in a nautical style.  I added an inside pocket to the lining (but omitted the zip) and I appliqued the recipient’s name on the front of the bag to make it stand out.  I also added some red ric-rac along the handle.

Although some patterns in the book are included at the back, this bag was one you can draft yourself using the measurements suggested, which was fairly straightforward (I actually changed the measurements to my own specifications).  The instructions, although clear, were accompanied by diagrams over the page, so it did involve a bit of flicking back and forth between the instructions and the diagrams, but it wasn’t a major problem.  The bag came together in an afternoon.

I used my Simflex gauge to help with the pleats

I have never really been into making bags, but I must admit I could be tempted to make one for myself as I really like how this turned out.  It’s a practical style that slings easily over the shoulder and is surprisingly roomy.  It opens out nice and wide so you could fit loads in, but it hangs nicely and holds its shape when it’s empty, too.

Back in…..blue.

March 27, 2018

Hello!  I can’t quite believe that I haven’t posted since November!  I have been sewing, but mainly things for other people.  I’ve also put on lots of weight, so I’ve been wearing a lot of comfortable, casual clothes like hoodies, hoodie dresses, stretchy jeans and dungarees.  One day I decided to go through my wardrobe and get rid of everything that made me feel shitty.  I filled two bin bags.  I was left with mostly a collection of pretty dresses.  A few weeks later, I tried all the dresses on, and discovered that 80% of them didn’t fit any more!  It seemed sad to put them all the loft, but I haven’t really missed them at all.  My style has changed and I’m gravitating towards STRETCHY EVERYTHING.

As soon as I found out about Tilly’s new book ‘Stretch: Make Yourself Comfortable’, I knew I had to have it, and the more sneak peeks I saw of the patterns in the book, the harder I fell for it.  The Joni dress is probably my favourite of all the patterns in the book, but really I envisage making ALL of the patterns.

Although I think the dress will work in most stretch fabrics, I was keen to try this stretch velvet in teal for my March project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.  I love the richness and depth of colour, and the feel of the fabric is beautiful.  It’s exceptional quality given the price (£6.99/m!).  The reverse side is so smooth and it has great drape.  I would describe it as medium weight – not too bulky to present any difficulties sewing through several layers.  I would definitely order more of the fabric for future dresses, it really is delicious!  I could totally see myself making a red stretch velvet Joni for Christmas.

The pattern is simple enough to make up.  The only alteration I made was to lengthen the skirt as Tilly’s patterns often come up quite short on me.

I had a bit of difficulty with the neck facing, though.  I had already made another Joni dress before this one, and I had a few issues with the neckband on that one, too.  On my first Joni, when I attached the neck band, I attached it with the standard seam allowance.  This meant I ‘lost’ a lot of width for the band and it was tricky to turn it under.  This time, I sewed the neckband on with a smaller seam allowance, but probably too small, as when it is lying flat or on the hanger, it looks ‘bumpy’.  Luckily, when I’m wearing it, the shape of my body means it all lies flat and in the right place, and it looks fine.  Tilly does say to use a lighter knit for the facing, and I’m sure that would have helped.  Take heed, people!  She knows what she’s talking about!

The other issue I had with this Joni dress which didn’t happen with my first one, is that when I pressed the hem from the wrong side, it altered the pile of the velvet on the right side.  That’s why you can see a kind of ‘ironing stripe’ at the bottom of the dress!  I don’t know if it will wash out or not.  It’s mildly irritating, but I still LOVE the dress.  I’ll just have to be more careful next time I press stretch velvet.

I used my overlocker for the majority of the sewing, except for topstitching and hemming.  I even applied the stabilising elastic (Hemline swimwear elastic) with my overlocker, which to be honest was a bit of a faff.  I would just zig zag it on with my regular machine next time.

Thanks to Minerva for the beautiful fabric and matching thread.  I love my new dress!  Oh, and it is super duper comfortable to wear!  Yay!

A letter to my newborn nephew

November 28, 2017

Tuesday, 28th November 2017

 

Dear Luke

Welcome to the world, my new nephew baby Luke!  And guess what?  I’ve been working on a Christmas stocking for you, just like your big brother’s!  You are only three days old today, but I started making you this whilst you were still in your mummy’s tummy.  I hope you like it!

Now, I’m going to tell you about how I made it, which you may or may not find interesting.  I like sewing – it’s my main hobby.  I mostly like to sew dresses for myself, as you’ll see when you get older and I’m wearing some mad fabric creations.  Don’t worry though – I’ll save some for you and make you some mad pyjamas one day! 🙂 Most months, I work on a project I have chosen to do with materials provided by a company called Minerva Crafts.  It helps boost sales and interest for them, and it helps me fund my costly hobby, so I like doing it.  For this month I chose a Christmas stocking to make for you, for your first Christmas, which you won’t remember, but hopefully your mummy and daddy will keep the stocking safe and you’ll see it every Christmas from now on.

Two years before you were born, I made your brother Jacob the same type of stocking.  You might notice that yours is a little bit different, because this time I remembered to use toy stuffing inside, so it’s nicely puffy and squidgy.  I did the beard wrong though!!! You see the lines of blue stitching?  I was supposed to sew those through all the layers, including the stuffing, to give a more quilted look, but I sewed them on first before I even appliquéd the beard onto the stocking!  Hopefully you can forgive me.  It still looks good, I think.

Shall I tell you a funny story about what happened one night when I was making this?  I had a bowl of crisps to munch on, and I was sewing on sequins, and in a moment of distraction, instead of picking up a crisp to eat, I picked up a sequin instead and I ate it!  Luckily, I didn’t sew a crisp onto your stocking by mistake (BBQ Doritos, in case you wondered).

I also broke three needle threaders whilst making this.  Last night around 7pm my last needle threader broke, and your cousin, Lyra, came up with ingenious idea of fixing it with blu-tac.  I didn’t think it would work, but it did, just about!  She’s a clever girl, that one!

I’ll tell you another secret – we have bought Lyra her own sewing machine for Christmas!  It’s a surprise, so you have to promise to not tell her when we all come to visit in a few weeks, ok?  She’s been working on a hand-sewn present for you, so I’m sure once she’s got her own machine there will be no stopping her and you’ll get all sorts of weird and wonderful creations!

Well, dear nephew, I shall leave it there.  I’ll thank Minerva Crafts for providing the kit for you, so don’t worry about that.  Hope you have a wonderful, magical, first Christmas, and many more to come.

Lots and lots of love

Aunty Louise xxx

I made a pair of jeans!

October 24, 2017

I finally did it!  I made jeans!  Making jeans is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I was quite nervous about doing it.  After making myself some trousers over summer, my confidence level increased enough for me to treat myself to the ever-popular Ginger Jeans sewing pattern designed by Closet Case Files.

To read more about it, check out my full post over on the Minerva site – they provided my fabric, zip, twin needle and rivets.

The verdict?  I either need to size up or I need a stretchier denim!

Lace-trim bloomers!

October 10, 2017

Earlier in the year a friend of mine asked me to make her some ‘below the knee bloomers’, with frills and ribbons at the bottom of each leg, as part of a fancy dress outfit she was planning to wear to Shambala festival in August.  She sent me these images for inspiration.

Inspiration images

We settled upon a design – she didn’t want the frilly bum/bustle thing, she wanted creamy ivory fabric with pale pink bows, and she wanted fitted on the thighs rather than loose.

She asked for an elasticated waistband, but I couldn’t think how to do that and still have close-fitting trousers, so we ended up using stretch fabric instead for a bit of extra give.  I chose a two-way stretch woven polyester suiting fabric in ivory.  With it being such a pale colour I wanted to use a medium weight fabric so that the trousers would not end up see-through!

My starting point was using the pattern for Gertie’s Cigarette Pants, but adapted to fit the design brief.  Here she is at Shambala festival with the whole outfit on:

Doesn’t she look fantastic?! Such a fun sewing project!

 

Vintage Sewing: The 70s dress

October 3, 2017

Over summer, a good friend of mine turned 40, and had a 70s themed birthday party to celebrate.  I had a rummage through my vintage patterns and found these…

Vintage 70s patterns

…and a search through the online treasure troves of Minerva resulted in me finding this completely mental fabric that was very much the right price for fancy dress!

Fabric from Minerva

Originally I had envisaged making a jumpsuit, but I chickened out as I didn’t think anyone could cope with me being head to toe in that fabric, so I chose the zip front dress pattern instead.

Style 4744 from 1974

The pattern was a size 18, which I knew would be too big, but I made it without alteration at first and then took it in to fit afterwards.  I had to take it in significantly!!

Taking the dress in at the side seams

Once I had taken it in and paired it with the right belt and shoes, it began to look acceptable and I thought I could handle wearing it in public.  There were some fantastic costumes at the party – I made sure to take photos to show on the blog (with permission).  I made a headband out of selvedges and even wore false eyelashes to complete the look!  My shoes are Swedish Hasbeens (Kringlan High, orange).  They are handmade in a traditional way and their design is based on original 70’s clogs.  Perfect for the party, and pretty darn cute to wear all summer!

Me and the birthday girl

Paisley shirts, green flares, orange jumpsuit and wigs – all from Smiffy’s fancy dress

GO LOUD OR GO HOME

Catch you on the flip side!

Tilly and the Buttons duo – Agnes top and Cleo dress

September 26, 2017

Autumnal greetings to you.  Today I’m showing you a t-shirt I have made for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.  It’s the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top – a really useful pattern for a plain, long sleeved, scoop neck t-shirt.  My inner child chose some whale print fabric to make it in, and when making it I realised I wanted a navy blue Cleo dress to wear over it, so I made both the top and the dress the same day.

Cleo dress with Agnes tshirt underneath

I bought the Agnes pattern in a two-for-one deal from White Tree Fabrics, so all I needed from Minerva for this was the fabric and the matching thread.  I had some clear elastic left over from a previous project.  You can read the full post over on Minerva’s blog here.

Agnes tshirt

For the Cleo dress, I used some navy cotton drill I had in my stash.  I only had 90cm, but it was 150cm wide, so I was able to squeeze the Cleo out of it.  The only adjustment I had to make with the cutting layout was that I couldn’t cut the back facing on the fold, so I added seam allowance and cut two instead.  Despite the small amount of fabric, I had enough room to add two inches to the length of the Cleo.  It’s still mini on me, but not quite as mini!

WOW! buttons

I didn’t have any dungaree clips this time, so I used these awesome buttons I got recently.  Love them!  I didn’t bother with buttonholes, just sewed through the strap and bodice front, and I anchored the straps below the button to the inside by sewing along the topstitching line through both the bodice and the bottom of the straps.  This means they won’t be flipping out, and it adds a bit of extra strength.

Love my new outfit! 🙂

 

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