for you…

31 Jul

One of the best things about being a crafter, is that it’s possible to create personal and touching gifts for those you love at short notice. I made this cushion a little while ago, but added a few little finishing touches yesterday…

It’s for the boyf (his name’s Ali) and ever since he first received it, it’s had pride of place on his beloved chair. This is a bit of a given since he lives with me and I’d be rather peeved if it was flung into a corner and forgotten. But having said that, I know that if I received a personalised gift made lovingly by hand, I’d be pretty chuffed. So, with that in mind, I want to start working on a few more gifts for upcoming birthdays.



photos = effort

25 Jul

I’m so tired!

After just a few hours of taking photos/choosing the best/editing them/uploading them to my etsy shop, I’m ready for bed. While it’s a creative task, I find it quite draining to keep thinking up new shots and to persevere until you get the right one – especially when it involves climbing trees (see below). What about you? Any tips for great and effortless (wishful thinking) photography??

moving out of my comfort zone

13 Jul

It’s time to be brave and push beyond the joys of sewing. I’ve decided to have a go at making some cards and above is my first attempt. I wanted to still use fabric (I’m not completely running away from what I love) and machine-sew patches onto a card, and then spray paint the card/fabric using a russian doll stencil. I have to say it’s lots of fun making something that has such an instant effect – quilting is magical and wonderful and awesome, but it also takes a good long while to do!

Teaching is still eating into my life hence the shortage of recent posts, but soon, soon, you won’t be able to escape muahahahaha!

do punctuation and cushions mix?

10 Jul

So, apart from cushions, my great past-time love in this world is the written word… I can’t get enough of books, and they spill off of every surface in my house. I try to write every now and again, but reading is for me the greatest pleasure. So, as a tribute to this joy, I’m trying to work on a mini-range of cushions and quilts that pay homage to the cement mix holding all those words together… punctuation. I decided to start with some quotation/speech marks because they turned up in my English lessons this week, so it seemed fitting.

I ended up making cushion covers with envelope backs and just using my previous cushions (cheap primark things) inside them. The speech marks are appliqued on in scraps of different patterned fabrics.








I can’t wait to start work on some other  types of punctuation – I’m thinking an exclamation mark and a question mark and maybe an ellipsis… (I’m fond of those). And I’d like to do another set of speech marks using different patterned fabrics on a pink background. It’s very satisfying to mix up to two of my major passions in life. Have you ever included another of your passions in your crafting life?

A while ago I mentioned popping into Poppy Treffry’s sample sale in Islington. I did do this a weekend ago (it was during this trip that I found my wonderful Sashimi) but alas, I didn’t find anything quite right for my life. I wasn’t technologically minded enough to invest in a phone holder, and I wasn’t domestically minded enough to buy oven gloves. The designs though were lovely, and I’m always so impressed by her free-hand stitched writing.

Meet Sashimi

5 Jul

I’ve been dreaming of her for years, and now she’s finally here in my life! I’m so excited. Please meet Sashimi Boss… Sasha for short.



I found her after dilly-dallying with the boyo around Angel in London. We’d had some wonderful sushi at a little restaurant on Upper Street (it’s shocking to admit it but this was basically my first sushi experience… yummy but a bit scary at the same time) and then took a little walk on some of the back streets where all the vintage shops and markets live. I’d seen this shop before but every time I’d gone by it had been closed… This time, fantastique!, it was open and there was Sashimi standing outside of the shop and waiting to be bought for a mere £39. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her – just think of the hours I can spend pretending to be on Project Runway!

Getting her out of the shop required a battle with the eccentric (cough… plain evil) shopkeeper who only really wanted to sell to retailers and not to poor members of the public such as moi, but I came out victorious and Sasha’s the prize. I can’t wait to design something a little bit crazy on her – something that would never come in pattern form.

Do you have a dress mannequin? If so, what’s their name?

amidst the turmoil

2 Jul

Argh! Things have been so busy. I’ve taken on some temporary work as an English teacher, and it’s making it very difficult to find the time to either craft or write about the crafting. But… finally I’ve created something. I’ve finished the quilt that I bought fabric for in Australia – the ice creams and hearts. It’s taken pride of place in my store of quilts (i.e. on top of my wardrobe – space is VERY limited). I’m planning to donate it to the Swindon Craft Fair raffle so if you’re coming along, look out for it!

Alessa’s Tutorial

27 Jun

A while back I caught sight of a gorgeous top made by Alessa at Farbenfreude from a skirt. I love refashioning clothes (often a lot easier than making them from scratch) so I asked Alessa whether she might be able to create a tutorial on how to set about turning a skirt into this kind of babydoll top. Hurrah – she accepted the challenge, and below is the tutorial.


p.s. Can’t recommend Alessa’s blog enough!


Hi everybody, I’m Alessa from Farbenfreude! Mona asked me for a tutorial on the babydoll top I refashioned from a skirt last year, and I am very happy to oblige.

I started out with a tea-length skirt. Because of the box pleats and the elastic waist, once I had unpicked all the seams, I ended up with two rather big, square pieces of fabric. One I saved for a skirt I have yet to make, the other I used for this babydoll top.

You could also start out with a new piece of fabric that is at least as wide as your hip measurement + at least 4in of ease and the length that’s between your upper bust and where you want the top to end, or a straight or A-line skirt that has some ease when you pull it up over your bust and still has some ease in the hips. The fabric should be rather lightweight, though, since we’re doing some shirring in the back.

Now for the cutting out. I don’t quite remember if I used another top as a pattern. You certainly could, if you already have a babydoll top that fits you. Remember to add about an inch of ease for shirring. You can also just start with your bust, waist and hip measurements. My fabric was a slightly stretchy knit, so I cut it on measurement, with the shirring just adding some negative ease. If your fabric isn’t stretchy, make sure to add enough ease that you can still get it on and off. 🙂

Because I had a limited amount of fabric, the top as I first cut it didn’t have enough ease/sweep in the hips to look good. Basting the side seams and trying it on is a good way to find that out. I used the remnants I had, to cut out two little triangle shaped godets, and added those into the side seams from the hips down. With the print I used, you can’t even see it if you don’t look very closely.

The next part is to use your fabric scraps (or some contrast fabric) to make a ribbon for the halter neck. I had never done that before, so I just cut a fabric strip roughly four times as wide as I wanted the finished ribbon to be, folded in the seam allowances, folded once in half to enclose them, and edge-stitched down the length of fabric. I have since learned that usually you fold the strip right sides together, stitch down one short end and the length, trim the seam allowances and turn it with a device for turning ribbons or a knitting needle. However, my version works, too. 🙂

In the next step, we’re going to attach the ribbon to the bodice. First, we’re doing some gathering stitches right down the middle of the bodice part. Depending on your preference, you can just do a couple of inches or go all the way down to the line under your bust. Since I didn’t knew how to do gathering stitches last year, I actually just did one row of shirring here, and then stitched the shirred gathers in place with normal thread. Afterwards, you fold the ribbon in half lengthwise (it should be long enough so you can tie it behind your neck) and stitch it in place on top of your gathering. Here’s a little sketch and how my finished top looks like:

Now we’re almost finished, except for the shirring and hemming. As you can see on the finished top, I used the bottom border and hem of the skirt as the bodice part, so I didn’t have to hem my neckline. If you can’t or don’t want to use the hem, it’s a good idea to finish it before you start shirring, as shown in Gertie’s shirring tutorial.

I didn’t shirr the whole back panel, just about a little more than half of it. It’s smart to mark a line down each side where you want your shirring to start and end, because the lengths get confusing once the first lines of elastic are in. Shirring is actually a ridiculously easy technique. Your pretty much just wind elastic thread on your bobbin, stretching it a little. Use normal thread for your top thread, then the only thing to remember is to sew with the right side on top! Since the elastic is going to be your bobbin thread, you don’t want it to show.

My rows of shirring don’t look very regular, but it’s actually not too bad from the right side…

If the gathers aren’t tight enough for your taste, a bit of steam from your iron should tighten them up a bit more.

And that’s it! I hope you liked my tutorial! If you happen to make your own babydoll top from it, I’d be delighted if you dropped me a link here or over at my blog. Thanks for reading and have a great day, and another thanks to Mona for having me!