Tag Archives: fabric

hello sewing machine, it’s been a while

7 Aug

I’ve finally finished my temporary teaching work, which means I can get back to the psychology phd (which has been hideously neglected so far this summer) and also to crafting. How wonderful. This means, I hope, stepping up the frequency of not just making things, but also of writing about them.

I’m off to a good start at least. I’ve been busy sewing quite a few cushions stuffed with old fabric scraps. This is a wonderful way to not just use up the odd bits and pieces, but also to clear out all the unwanted clutter from your sewing corner. Suddenly I have so much more space now that I’ve made use of the scraps I’ve been stuffing into plastic bags.

These lovely little russian dolls started off life as a coaster from Accessorize given to me by one of my closest friends for Christmas (it was a Russian themed Xmas party). But it makes such a fantastic stencil, I’ve been using it over and over again. It’s not just good on fabric (using fabric paint), it also works well if you want to make fancy wrapping paper from brown paper and normal spray paint.

And ta da, next up are those speech mark cushions that featured a while a go on here but as cushion covers. After a couple of weeks of trialling them as cushion covers, I realised that my envelope backs were not going to be a good enough design to stop them from slipping off the cushion and looking a little messy, so I turned them into smaller, stuffed cushions instead. Much better.

I’ve now rectified my envelope back design (two overlapping pieces of backing fabric, rather than simply a flap to feed into the back of the cushion) so they’re a lot neater, and these cushion covers were made in the new way. I’m in love with this floral print – its one of the ones I found in my local junk shop, but I think it’s really charming. I’d love to know more about where it came from – it looks a little 80s to me, especially when I pair it with the black and purple stripe down the middle.


Ah, it does feel good to be back to making things and taking pics and showing them to all of you. It will also be really nice to get back to reading my favourite blogs – most of them crafty, some of them quite random (baggage reclaim in particular, a friend showed it to me as a joke, but I’m completely hooked!). One thing I’m afraid I’m not so looking forward to is getting back to the whole Etsy side of things. I have to say that as the site just gets bigger and bigger, I’m feeling more and more lost on it, and less and less inspired. It’s probably just me, but it does seem like selling things face to face would be a lot more rewarding. Maybe it’s time to organise a local craft fair!


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?

the use and abuse of patterns

8 Jun

I have a fear of patterns when it comes to making clothes. It started when I was thirteen and too impatient to look up what all of the little symbols meant in the pattern I was using, and so ended up with trousers that didn’t make sense as an item of clothing, let alone look any good. To be fair, it’s not just the memory of this bad experience that makes me dislike patterns – it’s also the fact that I am as impatient as my thirteen year old self. I STILL can’t be bothered to look up the symbols, and I still hate leaving projects half finished – I want everything to be finished and ready for me to wear now now now!

So while I might not be a fan of using patterns, I do think that some of the older ones are incredibly beautiful. My mum has a stash of patterns from when she was my age (23, 24 on the 17th of June… cough cough) and clearly a little mature in her approach to maknig clothes. They’re gorgeous. Most of them are either published by Vogue or Butterick… I’ve posted pictures of my favourite.  They’re great as inspiration for designs that I might want to try and make pattern-free.

A new bag in less than an hour…

5 Jun

So I’m leaving Australia in about 48 hours and returning to a British summer (that apparently, rather untypically, is baking hot). This might mean that a beach bag is no longer an essential for me, but I’ve decided to leave my sister with a beach bag made from the fabric left over from the maxi dress I made a week ago.

This is such a simple design and can work with all different types of fabric, but my recommendation would be something with a little bit of give – nothing too heavy or stiff. Having said that, you want something a little durable if it’s going to achieve the first priority of any good bag – to not break and drop all your stuff out of the bottom! That’s happened to me and it was no fun!

1. Right, the first step is to cut two equally sized ovals from the fabric – the exact shape and design is up to you.

2. Then, using a saucepan lid as your template, cut out a circle from each side.

3. This bit is up to you, but I hemmed all of the loose edges, so that I wouldn’t be caught out by any fraying.

4. I sewed the two sides together along the outside of the ovals, and then within the top semi-circle of the inside circle.

5. Again up to you, but I reinforced the bottom of the bag (as the fabric is quite flimsy and I was handsewing my way around) by sewing loops in and out of the edge.

6. Finally, for a bit of detail, I wound a long piece of the fabric around the handle of the bag. This bundles the fabric together, making it look a little tigther. I then used a running stitch to keep this piece of fabric in place.

And there you have it. A bag to make you proud at the beach.  The beauty of this design is that a) it’s speedy, especially if you have a sewing machine and b) you can customise or change any part of it that you like. You’ll end up with something quite special… though maybe you’d have to ask my sister whether she agrees!

What do you mean ‘garish’?!

1 Jun

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of bright colours. And hey, a little bit of colours clashing – that’s just another way of having a little fun. Like red and pink… sounds good to me. Or ‘blue and green should never be seen’ – HA! That’s what you think. My new patchwork quilt is no exception, and as well as bright colours, I’ve sprinkled in a few ‘silly’ patterns.

batty about batting

31 May

I’m moving out of my comfort zone… away from patchwork quilts to the more traditional technique of quilting through two layers of fabric and a sandwiched layer of batting (so that the quilt bobs up and down, following whatever pattern you so wish). This kind of quilting creates a beautiful effect.

BUT. I’m finding my adventures to be a little too expensive… I guess you could say that I have a traditional quilting habit on a patchwork quilt budget. While patchwork quilts also need to have three layers, the middle layer (for warmth) can be an old blanket – cheap as chips. But this doesn’t work with traditional quilting which needs a really springy middle layer (called batting) if the sewing detail is going to stand out.

I’ve started the quilt above for my baby neice Malika and I’ve had to be…erm… a little creative (cough cough) with the batting. Rather than use the bamboo stuff I found in the shop for a whopping £40 (people, do you know how much pasta that would get me?!), I went for tripling up a mattress protector I found in a cheapo shop for £7. I know I know, this probably makes me an awful person (not 100% cotton? GASP!) but believe me when I say that If I’m going to be a quilter I’m going to have to be a cheap stingy ***** of a quilter.

Other ideas for saving money when it comes to quilt batting? The people in the shop might look at me funny if I keep going back for mattress protectors. Ideas on a postcard…