Tag Archives: sewing

The Girls’ Guide to Homemaking

29 Aug

There is no better way to spend a bank holiday Monday than with a good novel. And if the novel also happens to be full of crafting inspiration, then what’s not to love?

Now I know that chicklit is far from everyone’s cup of tea and the cover of this – The Girls’ Guide to Homemaking – does make it seem like it’s going be pure (and therefore unbearable) sweetness and light throughout. But I was happily surprised, there’s a good plot, a likeable main character with a not-so-happy background and a passion for making retro aprons using her grandmothers’ books from the 1950s, and Amy Bratley does have a rather clever writing style with more linguistic twists and turns than your usual chicklit author.


finding space…

28 Aug

Some people are addicted to storage solutions. I might be one of them, or it might just be that I NEED to be addicted to good storage when my flat is rather small and certainly not big enough to happily double as a crafting workshop. It took me a while to realise that my boy-o was actually rather annoyed that we could never eat at the dining table because the sewing machine and all of its many accoutrements lived there. Now that I have realised that this could be a little irritating, I’m trying to find ways to incorporate my sewing equipment into the living space without it looking untidy or unwieldy…

I found this wonderful cake stand in a charity shop for £3.50 (I know! BARGAIN!) and after deciding that it was highly unlikely that it would ever contain actual cakes (unless I have another Marie Antoinette party), I thought it would look equally pretty if I filled it with my threads and tape measure and other bits and bobs. I think it looks good in the middle of the table, and doesn’t take up any more space than a vase of flowers would, and I don’t see anybody complaining about flowers!

Tell me, do you have any clever storage solutions for your crafty stuff? I’d love to borrow a few ideas – especially when it comes to storing fabric. I’ve been stashing it in my wardrobe and it’s starting to grate…

the crafter’s ‘things to do’ list

19 Jun

The holiday to Cornwall is over, as are the birthday celebrations i.e. real life has set in once again, reclaiming me mercilessly.

The upside of this – and it’s a big one – is that I can get back to making things. First things first though, I need to feel back in control and this can mean only one thing – a new ‘things to do’ list. A big part of mine at the moment is trying to organise all the fabrics I picked up recently at the junk shop. I’m preparing them by cutting them into 8 by 4 inch pieces for some new patchwork quilts, and then putting each set of fabric patches into a pastic wallet in a folder.

Enter… my beautiful big bird yellow folder. Well, it needed to be gorgeous to house such wonderful fabrics. The idea is that as well as keeping the fabrics neat and without creases, I can easily use the folder to mix and match fabrics and know when I have enough to get a new quilt on the road.

rule-breaking bunting

13 Jun

I am incredibly excited. Not only am I off to the heavenly Cornwall tomorrow for a cheeky break with the boy-o, I’m also celebrating my birthday this week and getting wasted (sorry, having a party) on Saturday to bring in the new year of my life. I’m just throwing a small do at my house centring around a nice meal (food and drink will ALWAYS take centre stage in my abode). But I still want to make some home-made decorations, and today I’ve had a go at making a little bunting…

The best thing about this bunting is that I’ve finally found a use for these old bedsheets that I took from my mum’s airing cupboard. I love the pattern on them but they just haven’t worked well for patchwork quilts – the fabric crinkles instantly which makes cutting neat squares far too time-consuming.

Now, thanks to the tip-off from baby bandito, I did have access to a wonderfully detailed, beautifully put together tutorial on how to make bunting. It really is a gem of a tutorial. Do take a look if you’re interested.

But me being me (the word ‘lazy’ doesn’t begin to capture it), I just decided to take a quick glance over the tutorial, and then try my luck with some good old-fashioned slapdashedness. The outcome is pretty cool I think – it certainly lifts my living room (but the alcohol will also surely help with this!). Et voila, the three rules that I proudly trampled over:

– No need for a triangle template, I just used my eyes and corrected for any differences at the sewing machine

– I didn’t bother using bias binding, just hemmed on both sides the stretch of fabric that holds the triangles together

– A ruler, an iron, coordinating thread? Not for me thanks – I’ll just tell my guests that any mistakes (I prefer ‘unique touches’) were wholly intended. But honestly, I don’t understand our (the sewing community) constant demand for colour-matching fabric and thread. I love it when thread is a different colour and stands out – particularly if it’s something fun like bunting. Is this just me??

the scissors are right here…

11 Jun

After prodding from some readers (gratefully received! thank you magic and drudgery and the creative miss w) I have made my craft belt! I am incredibly proud of it – I know exactly where my scissors are for the first time ever – but I have to admit that it is most certainly a triumph for slapdash sewing. I do think this blog should be renamed ‘the slapdash sewer’ – I never realised before starting the blog just how lazy I really am.

The tutorial from Kerri-made that I’d all advised you to follow turned out to be a little harder than I’d at first thought. And the thing is, this craft belt is not a gift for anyone. For me, it just needs to be an item that functions and is durable. So, hands up – I’m guilty, I turfed the instructions from that tutorial out the window and went for a bit of my good old friend intuition.

I think it worked – I hope you agree. It’s a cute little belt, with different fabric pockets (something that greatly pleases the patchwork quilter in me who constantly wonders about the poor little, often chucked, scraps of fabric left at the end of any big sewing project). Here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Cut two 1 metre-long lengths of fabric and hem them so that no loose edges of fabric are left.

Step 2. Cut a rectangle of fabric (c. 20 cm by 60 cm, but play this part by ear.. or eye) and hem around the edge.

Step 3. Sew each length from Step 1 to the top of the rectangle, beginning from half way along. You will end up with the lengths sewn to the top of the hemmed rectangle, and two extensions of fabric from the top of the rectangle that will tie at the back. Ta da – you have the basic part of your fabric belt. Now for the pockets…

Step 4. If you want to be really quick and slapdash about it, just cut some rectangles and squares of varied fabric (or even better, find scraps) and sew these onto the rectangle of the belt – no hemming, nothing. If they’re the kind of fabric that doesn’t fray, this’ll work just fine, and let’s be honest, it’s a craft belt, not a dress for the Oscars red carpet. If you want to be a little tidier, then make the pockets by…

Step 4b (for tidier pockets). Doubling up the pockets for the material (so that there are two pieces cut to the same shape and size). Hem one side of these fabric patches. On all the other sides, sew the fabric patches together inside out, so that when you turn them inside out, you end up with a stand-alone pocket with a hemmed top. Sew this to the rectangle of the craft belt.

Step 5. You might like, as I did, to have a larger pocket at the front, with two slimmer pockets either side. For the large front pocket, you can add detailing by sewing a line down the middle to create different pockets. It all depends on what you want to keep in your craft belt.

And there we go. The craft belt is made. And you are ready to start crafting. Which is good news for me because I have soooo much to do this weekend. I’ve just signed up for a craft fair in Swindon, which I’m incredibly excited about, but this will mean really going to town with my inventory and increasing it by about 500%! I can’t wait to get started – especially as I visited a junk shop just a couple of days and got the most incredible amount of stash for just £6. The joys of upcycling! I can’t wait to show you some of the things I’m working on… and hopefully I’ll be ten times more efficient because of the craft belt.


p.s. I’ve posted some new pictures of me wearing the maxi dress I made a week or so ago that I think show it off a little better. Please excuse the vanity.

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.

oh crap… where are the scissors?

6 Jun

I don’t have much room to work in when I’m crafting. Things are a bit of a tight squeeze. One of the major downsides of working in amongst so much bloody stuff (are crafters hoarders by nature?) is that you end up losing stuff constantly. To be fair, I can’t completely blame the space I’m working in – this is also a character trait.

me: where are my scissors…. oops, there they are.

me 2 mins later: oh no. where have they gone now?

This is why I need to make myself a craft belt. Then when I’m not cutting, or threading, or sewing, I can put my tools ON ME. Safe and sound. And then I found this tutorial. Amazing – my woes are sorted. Well, they will be as soon as I’m back home, with my sewing machine (hallelujah! This sewing only by hand is starting to get me down), and I can design a beautiful pleated craft belt. If I haven’t blogged with a picture of me in a craft belt within a week, please prod and poke me until I come up with the goods!