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Thursday, 3 December 2015

My hand sewn Christmas.

This is my Christmas blog post . It is actually on my sister blog somdo click on the link and take a look at the post. How to sew Christmas Decorations and table wear
 These are some of the items featured in the blog post. All are very easy to sew.

These cheeky Christmas stars are having fun playing with the sewing machines at

The post features making your own Tree skirt, table cloths and napkins

Do take a look at the blog post , and let me know what you are making this Christmas.

#Christmas #decorations #tablewear #sew #sewing #imadeit

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Very easy, very cute Christmas Decorations .

My Christmas Blog post

A blog post

I wanted to show you how to make some very easy Christmas decorations and table accessories.
These are perfect for you to sew with your children as no special skills are needed for any of them
This post also talks about how to make a narrow rolled hem on your overlocker.

 These are some of the items which I am going to show you how to make, they are all easy inexpensive and fun.

You will need a pattern . This one is by Simplicity and is available from Jaycotts It is     Simplicity 8035   There are other simple toy pattern's in the range so do take a look.
You will need some felt pieces in assorted colours,  I bought mine from MinervaFabrics There are plenty of colour choices plus some sparkly ones see the range here  Various Felt available from MinervaCrafts I used sparkly felt in white, green and black as well as other plain colours. You choose which ones you like best, there are no Rules!

When making the smaller ornaments I found it easier to photocopy the pieces and to cut them out in thin card so that I could then draw around them on the wrong side of the felt to make cutting out easier.
I am starting with the stars which I think are really cute, and I am using white felt which has a sparkle all over it.
Cut the felt shapes out and mark the position for the eyes and the mouth. You will need to embroider the mouth with a back stitch or a stem stitch. The eyes are safety eyes and are available from MinervaCrafts you will need various sizes according to which decorations you are making. The sizes are included on the back of the pattern envelope. Toy safety eyes
The cheeks are made by colouring them with a soft red pencil. You could use a touch of blusher  or lipstick, but practise on a spare piece  of felt first.Once done the features sew two stars together with a blanket stitch, or even  a straight stitch or to be honest any stitch you fancy so long as it is small. Enclose a hanging thread at the top. This can be ribbon or string or a thick embroidery thread as I used. Remember to leave a gap so that you can stuff it.

Monday, 30 November 2015

HOW I MADE MY FAUX FUR HAT AND JACKET.A Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post

Coat pattern by Simplicity. hat pattern by Burda

I have been looking at these coats in the shops and noticed how expensive they are, so when I saw this fabulous faux fur fabric on I knew I had to make one my own coat.
Here is the list of items you need to make one of your own
  • Faux fur fabric.2m made both hat and jacket in size 12 /14  I used the long pile fur in Grey. It comes in other colours and in a short pile version.  PLAIN LONG PILE FUR
  • Anti static dress lining in Navy Blue,    Lining
  • Prym fur coat hook and eye fasteners in Grey Fur coat Fasteners
  • A very small piece of interfacing for the collar Interfacing
  • Simplicity 2150 pattern Jacket pattern
  • BURDA 7175 for the hat HAT PATTERN
  • I am fond of COATS sewing thread, you will need both Grey and Navy  COATS THREAD

Faux fur  ChiChi or headband from Jewellery Bank  see the web site for more information Winter white faux fur ChiChi

You will need to gather together your sewing machine with a new needle for heavyweight fabrics, an iron and ironing board, a pressing cloth and one more essential item - your vacuum cleaner! 
You will also need a few very long pins,  tailors chalk and sharp scissors

Thursday, 26 November 2015

How to make the Eliza M WANDA dress using Liberty fabric

A review of the Eliza M WANDA pattern

I love vintage style patterns, I love researching into how they would have been made and incorporating this into the garment I am making. I have used a few Eliza M patterns and was really looking forward to making this one.
Abakhan Fabrics,  View ABAKHAN web site have a sale of Liberty Fabrics on at the moment, and I was lucky enough to be given a generous length of Liberty Tana Lawn in Glencot  House Grey.Those of you familiar with  Abakhan will know what fantastic fabrics they have a at great prices, so if you are unlucky enough to miss this offer LIBERTY CLEARANCE OFFER then you can be certain you will find a great alternative in store or on their website.

Tana Lawn is perfect for 1950's style tea dresses. The shape of the neck and shoulders adds considerable interest to the dress gave me this Eliza M WANDA pattern, view here,  ELIZA M WANDA pattern at jaycotts and I have been longing to make it up. The liberty fabric is just perfect.

This pattern has all the hallmarks of a typical 1950's vintage pattern, the most obvious one being the flattering  sweetheart neckline.Cotton was very popular to make tea dresses like this one which would normally be paired with matching handbag and shoes.The look was very feminine after the austerity of the war years.
other popular fabric were Acrylic, introduced in 1950, followed by polyester in 1953. These were cheap fabrics which could go into the washing machine and dyed bright colours. This meant that women could now own more than one "good" dress which is all she probably owned during war time. Women were now beginning to have fun with fashion and the fabric prints reflected this with oversized floral and bright geometrics becoming available

For true 1950's style the zip would normally be at the side not at the back as in this pattern, don't forget invisible zips did not exist then.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

How to make soft toys, perfect for gifts and fundraising

 A blog post

Soft Toys

 Soft toys look daunting to make and I admit they can be fiddly, but follow the instructions carefully and you cannot go wrong. Who would not be delighted to receive one of these creatures as a gift.These are totally delightful and fun to make, they are also great for using up all of your odd pieces of fabrics

This is Donald the Owl showing you just some of the large range of patterns sold by Jaycotts Sewing patterns by Brand the patterns used for these toys are all from the Simplicity range at Jaycotts.

The Owl and the Deer are from the same pattern, and there are more versions to choose from! View the pattern and order it on this link Soft toy pattern

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

How I made my Polka Dot dress and Jacket for Minerva Crafts Blogger Network

My beautiful spotty, dotty dress and jacket. A Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post using McCalls and Butterick patterns

I love polka dots, and I love the combination of Navy blue and white.luckily sent me  a large piece of Navy and white polka dot print stretch cotton fabric, so I was overjoyed.  It is a beautiful fabric, quite heavy and with a bit of stretch too. View it on web site click here,  Navy and white polka dot cotton

I was not quite sure what to do with it and my  first thought was to make a long dress, but when I calculated how much fabric I would need there was a large piece left over but not enough for anything useful.The fabric is very heavy and hangs well so I decided to make a short dress and a jacket.  Jackets and me go together. I love making them and I love wearing them. I go out a lot in the evening and so I wear them a lot. I prefer them to a cardigan in fact. I have a favourite jacket pattern which I have altered and adapted so many times I cannot remember what the original one looked like! I love this pattern though, it fits me well, it is easy to alter, it always looks different, so why change? Anyway, more about the jacket later. Let's get on with the dress.

Before we start to make the dress though I wanted to show you the dress and jacket together. I honestly thought that the two garments worn together would be far too much, but in fact they make an incredible outfit and I love it. I envisaged wearing the jacket separately, and I will, but they do look good together don't you think?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

How do I set up my dressmakers dummy or manequin?

How to set up a dressmakers dummy 

Many of us have a dressmakers or tailors dummy but do we know how to use it correctly? Think about it, if it is to be effective in producing well fitted clothes then it has to mirror the owners figure exactly. Do you agree?

So, how do we do this?

Firstly set your dummy up on its stand. Turn all the dials  to the same setting , zero, because we are going to start again.
You need a tape measure, some tape, a bra which fits you perfectly (you can change this as often as you like to suit the garment you are making ) and a close fitting vest top in a thin stretchy fabric.or a pretty cover like the one I am using.
Measure your waist and turn the dials until they correspond exactly to the measurement you have just taken.
Measure your bust, around the fullest point, and turn the dials to this measurement.  Do this with the hips.
Some manequins have more scope for adjustment so follow their instructions.

Put the bra on the dummy, you should do this because  your cup size determines the fit too. Put some stuffing inside it if necessary to fill it out gently.
Now, this sou ds boring but you will have to measure the bust, waist and hips again and adjust them to correspond with your own figure in underwear.

For more accurate sizing pin  a piece of tape or ribbon round your own waist, it has to be snug but not too tight. Measure from the nape of your neck down to this ribbon. Measure on the dummy from the same position down to the waist. Pin a piece of ribbon around the waist on the dummy check the measurement again. Secure in place. You will need this line when making pattern adjustments to the waist and when making skirts and trousers. You can keep these on top of your manequin cover if you like, they are useful for fitting purposes.
You need also to put lines of tape down the centre front and back and also down the sides from the centre of the armhole.again, these are fitting lines.

The beauty of dressing your dummy in this way is that you can insert padding to various areas as and when required, for example if if your waist expands, pad the manequins waist out to correspond, you can also  do this for the hips and bust.
Another convenient fact is that if you want to wear a specific style of bra with your new outfit you can put it on the dummy and fit your garment around it. Pad the bra out as necessary too.
Just remember that this is a fitting tool and correctly fitted clothes make you look and feel slimmer, so please be honest!
Take as many of your measurements as you can, you might need help with some, and transfer them to your  other you. 

In order to check that the manequin is the right size put a dress on it that you know fits you well and take a long critical look at it. Make any further adjustments as necessary.

It honestly is worth all the effort in getting this right. Imagine the benefits! Every garment you make will be perfect for YOU, who cares about standard shop bought dresses which fit ok here and there, this is perfection ladies!

Dummies or manequins are not cheap I admit, and you must get an adjustable one , be warned - display Dummies like those seen in shops are not the same thing at all.

Dress forms are available from  Dress form  there are different types too, even one for men!  Take a look. They really are worth saving for if you are serious about dressmaking.

The pretty covers like mine are also from Jaycotts, do contact them about them. Available in different sizes and colours, see them on the link below

 They really make a difference to how they look and I don't know about you but I like to use pretty things when sewing, it makes the experience even more magical.

Thank you very much for reading this, do you have a manequin?  Does she have a name?


Saturday, 3 October 2015

"Pins ain't what they used to be"

I had an accident this week. A stupid accident which could have been avoided and it set me thinking about pins.
First, a cautionary tale then you will understand what I am talking about.

My love of gadgets, including a different pin for every job, led to this earlier this week.
You see I have long pins,  short pins, fine pins, lace pins, quilting pins....... Do you see where I am leading? And that's just the pins, I have all sorts of needles too!

I was using  very fine, extra long pins when I decided to fit my garment. Forgetting there were still pins in it  I duly tried it on, slipped and stood on one of these pins. Of course being so fine it snapped as soon as I moved leaving a good portion of it in my foot! The pin incidentally went straight through my house shoes, I never walk about bare foot.( in case I stand on a pin of course...)

I don't know if you can make it out but the offending pin is in the bottom of this tube.I have to say that everybody found it hilarious - even me I must add, and my consultant did too, which was worrying.
Anyway, after days of hospital appointments and poking around it was decided that the only way to get rid of the offending article was to have a general anaesthetic and remove it in surgery. Which is what I did today. Apparantly they can migrate around the body which is indeed what my pin had started to do.

I must say this, All praise to Blackpool Royal Infirmary who treated me like a goddess today! Well apart from laughing at me that is. I could not have been treated any better or with so much love and care. THANK YOU

I shall spare you a picture of the operation site, but this picture is quite amusing. Dont I look glamorous with one foot painted yellow with an arrow drawn on the  leg with a  permanent marker, the other leg in a surgical stocking?

So, I hope that you take my tale to heart and take care with pins! Because it will take two whole weeks before I can have the stitches out and start to become mobile again.

Solving my new "problem"

I  have had plenty of time to think about pins today and how many different types there are. Just look at Pins on and you will see what I mean. I like the curved basting pins, and I will be buying some of those to replace the long pins I use for patchwork. 

I also adore this retro tin of glass headed pins by Prym, also from Jaycotts.

Dont you think the tin is beautiful? 

 I am throwing away every single ordinary pin I own now, and replacing them with the very pretty glass headed and flower headed pins, which not only can  be seen more easily than ordinary pins, they are rather pretty too.
I also need to invest in a magnet! Jaycotts sell horse shoe magnets for picking up spilt pins  see it here Magnet
They also sell a magnetic pin cushion which may be a good investment. Magnetic pin cushion

I also discovered these rather clever wonder clips  CLOVER wonder clips which do away with pins totally, they can be used for quilting and I suspect will also be useful for sewing any bulky item such as coats and padded jackets etc. Of course I have talked about double sided basting tape in previous blog posts, and I do use it a lot where I want my seam to remain stable while I sew it.

My research shows me that there are safer versions and alternatives for every pin type imaginable. Silks and fine fabrics do require a long fine pin, you can buy pretty ones which are more visible, or simply pin inside the seam allowance where less damage can be done to the fabric.
Most good haberdashery stores have  great selection of pins and accessories by the way.

Please take my tale to heart and do take care with your pins and needles. I thought that I was careful with them, obviously not, I really don't want this to happen to you.

Anyway, now that I am confined to home I will be doing lots more sewing. Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Ps, you didn't really expect this to stop me sewing did you? I made this top today....

Happy (safe )Pinning


Sunday, 13 September 2015

How to make pretty fabric heart decorations

Hanging hearts

I  make lots of these , some for myself  to hang on wardrobe doors and cupboard handles, some to give as gifts. Some have lavender inside them, and these I put inside wardrobes and drawers to scent my clothes and bedding.
They are really simple to make and you can use up your odd scraps of fabric and lace. Of course, you don't have to make hearts, simple bird shapes work well, as do stars - I am sure that you have your own ideas.

These are some I have made for Sew Saturday. There will be some for you to make on the day too. The fabrics are Tilda  fat quarters from White Tree Fabrics 

Start off with drawing a simple heart shape at the size you want. Cut it out in paper and use it to cut out two hearts in your chosen fabric

Monday, 31 August 2015

How I made my Butterick 4386 in Orange Linen with machine embroidery

I bought this butterick pattern some while ago and thought that it would look fantastic made up in a variety of fabrics. I have some pale grey silk dupion which will be lovely for parties later in the year but I wanted to make it up first of all in this orange Linen.

The fabric needed pressing and shrinking with a steam iron through a linen pressing cloth, i folded it in half matching the selvedges and proceeded to lay my pattern pieces out in my correct size.
I say this each and every time, please take your measurements and compare them to the pattern envelope, cutting out the pieces according to your measurements which could be two or three sizes different to your commercial dress size.

I decided on the version with small cap sleeves, knee length skirt and crossover front. This will be worn on summer holidays in hot climates so linen will be cool and the cap sleeves will protect my shoulders from the sun

Monday, 3 August 2015

My beautiful bright Birthday dress and jacket

Patterns by New look and Simplicity

This is my first ever blog for Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, and I cannot tell you how excited I am. I have been sewing for more years than I care to remember and I trained as a Tailor when my elder son was a baby.
Now let me tell you something, I have a birthday coming up, a big birthday, a HUGE birthday,  I am to be 60 on 31st May. The thing is I am rather proud of it. So much so that I am turning into one of those eccentric women who are forever saying " I am 60 you know".
So, when it came to deciding what to make it was easy, I need a dress to wear on my birthday. Not just any dress you know, a dress with personality and well, noticeable.
I think that this outfit fits the bill nicely. It is certainly bright and colourful and will look great when I go out to dinner wearing it. More about that later!

When choosing what I should make for you I wanted  to show you some simple couture techniques which I hope you will find interesting and useful.
What is couture sewing? A couture garment is made to fit its owner and nobody else.The perfect fit comes from endless fittings and the garment is made so that it is perfectly proportioned for the owners body, with seams and trimmings positioned in just the correct place for that person.
The garment is first made up as a toille where the adjustments and placings of patterns and trim are decided before the main fabric is even cut.
During construction a lot of the sewing is done by hand, hundreds of tacking stitches will be used before the seam is finally stitched and pressed. It is the hand sewing which distinguishes Couture from high-end ready to wear.
In addition, luxury fabrics are  used and trimmings are often hand made just for the one garment.
Dresses are not usually lined and somebody not used to a couture dress may be surprised at the "unfinished" look inside. Linings add bulk and may spoil the drape of the dress. Instead you will see interlinings, which add body and stability to the garment. You also may see stays and bra strap holders which are all designed to hold the garment in place.As we make our dress I will explain the process to you and you can then choose if you wish to follow it or not. There won't be anything complicated I promise.

I have chosen this pattern by NewLook  because it has a full skirt which I love and an interesting neckline. I will be making the lower neck version.

How I made My Pink Lined Jacket - A Butterick "See and Sew" pattern .B5235

Everybody has a favourite pattern, and this is mine. I have made this same jacket in various fabrics including one in black linen which has almost worn through I wear it so often. It was obvious therefore that I would want to share this pattern with you for my next blog on the  Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

All fabric and haberdashery for this project is available from Minerva crafts, the link to their web site is:-

The Pattern  is a very easy Butterick "see and sew" pattern. It is fully lined which makes it easy to slip on and off. Butterick is part of the Mccalls pattern group

The fabric is a Pink Heavy textured wool blend coat fabric ,and can be viewed and ordered by clicking on this  link

I also  chose a very dark brown polyester lining fabric to contrast with the outer fabric. Minerva Crafts have a huge choice of linings and fabrics if you click on the Link above

Sunday, 2 August 2015

How to make curtains valance ,bedspread and cushion

I have just had a busy but productive three weeks  replacing all the soft furnishings in our apartment. I knew that spending any longer on it I would be itching to start something else so I had a self imposed deadline to stick to.

I get asked a lot of questions through my blog, twitter or email and almost everybody says the same thing, that they feel daunted by some sewers who , they think, produce nothing but perfection and it puts people off because they do not feel that they can aspire to that standard. So, it set me thinking. I have been sewing for more years than I want to remember and I have been to college too yet I still make mistakes! The thing is nobody is perfect,  go and look at clothes in shops, do they look well made? Probably not, probably that is one reason why you want to learn to sew.
So, what I want to say is this, it does not matter if a seam is wonky or a dress did not turn out as you expected As long as you are happy with it that is all  that matters, at worse you have an awful dress to garden or decorate in!
We only really learn from our mistakes so when your dress does not fit you will know next time to measure yourself properly and cut out the correct size, you will know to make a toille first and use a seam guide if you can't sew straight. These are learning curves so embrace them for what they are.
Anyway, back to soft furnishings.
I am going to keep things simple and also upcycle where I can.

In addition to the new curtains,  lined with a thermal blackout fabric, and new voille curtains,I  also made a valance, a bedspread and a quilted cushion.

This is the lovely furnishing fabric in a rich floral damson colour

I have shown how to make curtains before, so let's do the patchwork cushion. I chose half squares because they are quick,  easy and look good. Choose a couple of contrasting or toning fabrics in a similar weight and using a self healing mat and rotary cutter make squares then cut them into triangles.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How I made cushions, curtains and a roller blind

This post is continuing from a previous post entitled "curtains, cushions and chairs Click here to view the post

As you know I am having a very short break from sewing clothes and replacing the soft furnishings in my home.

I recently went to the secret sale at Abakhan Fabrics Click here to go to Abakhan.Co. uk , and bought several rolls of fabric. Among the items purchased was a roll of this beautiful heavy cotton furising fabric, the whole roll of it did not cost much more than the price per meter!

I started by cutting the largest items out first, which were the curtains. If you have never made curtains before it is so easy you will wonder why you ever bought them!
there are many ways of making a pair of curtains, but if you have never made them before I suggest that you buy a patterned fabric and make them unlined.
If you have curtains already in place then take them down and measure them. You will need to buy enough fabric to make a pair of curtains and you need to add three inches  or so at the top for a hem, and at least four inches at the bottom for another hem. You will also need to buy ruflette tape to go along the top. Buy double the width of your curtain fabric.
Cut your fabric out and hem the sides. Turn the top hem down and press. Pin your ruflette tape along the top, covering the raw edge of the fabric. You will notice that there are strings I  the tape, this is so that you can gather the top, make sure these are free and tie the ends together so that they do not come out when you start to gather them.Machine the top and bottom of the tape.
At this stage it is a good idea to press them and then hang them to see if the fabric will relax and drop before you hem them. Once you are satisfied with the length then go ahead and machine sew a double hem. See, I told to how simple they are!

My curtains are lined with an attached lining - you can make a loose lining if you prefer. I am not one for fussy tie backs I must admit, but I do see the usefulness  of them when the window is open and it is windy, I do not want my new curtains blowing around outside!

I made these really simple tie backs by measuring the length I wanted, cutting out the fabric and very stiff interfacing and sewing them into a long rectangle. I added hoops at the end and hooks on the wall. And there they are, simple tie backs!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Curtains, Cushions and Chairs, My sewing room

How I updated my sewing room.

It is that time of year when it seems pointless making any more new summer garments but too soon to be thinking about winter, so I am turning my attention to soft furnishings.

There are two rooms which I want to update, my sewing room and the lounge and kitchen. An easy way to do it is by replacing the soft furnishings.

I wanted to start with the sewing room because it is where I spend my evenings and it is important to me to have everything to hand and orderly.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

My top ten tips for wonderful results

These are my top tips for producing a wonderful garment which fits well and is a joy to wear. 

  1. When purchasing your pattern ignore your ready to wear dress size! take your measurements and cut out the size which best corresponds with them. Do not be alarmed if you need to go up a few sizes. ready to wear sizes change constantly, patterns do not.                                                                                                    
  2. Press and shrink your fabric if necessary before cutting out, and then pin the selvedges together                                                              

  3. lay the pattern pieces on the correct grainline which is clearly marked on the pattern piece                                                                                                                            
  4. Transfer all pattern markings onto the fabric. I use tailors tacks or chalk. Wash away and air-erasable pens are popular but use them with caution  as the marks can easily become permanent. Dressmakers tracing paper and a tracing wheel can be used on thick fabrics so long as the marks do not show on the right side of the fabric                                                                                                                               
  5. Leave extra seam allowances when cutting out to allow for adjustments. This works well on side seams and waistbands                                                                        

  6. tack the garment together before machining anything. This not only gives you the chance to fit it correctly but is where you can be creative and add your own design touches                               
  7. Press every seam as you go, this is important so I will repeat it. Press every seam as you go!                                                                                                                                  
  8. Use a brand new machine needle for every project. Choose the correct one for your fabric, for example a ball point needle is used for stretch fabrics etc                
  9. Try on at regular intervals to check the fit, wearing the correct underwear for the garment                                                                                                                            
  10. Most importantly ENJOY yourself and only make time making things that you love

Thank you for reading this. What are your tips?