Foxy Drawstring Pouch

For my birthday last year, my wonderful girl friends bought me this awesome book, Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. What I like about this book is the fact that it is not only interspersed with projects that I would love to make and wear, but it also features lovely pages with things like recipes for Pumpkin Soup or sewing soundtrack recommendations. It really focuses on sewing on the weekend as an experience, rather than just as the individual garments or projects to make. For all you knitters out there, I hear there is also a Weekend Knitting version, which looks rather lovely!

The book also features absolutely gorgeous hand drawn illustrations as tutorials, which are surprisingly clear and easy to use, as well as being really easy on the eye!

Anyway, this blog post wasn’t meant to turn in to a book review, just a short introduction to a speedy make I did tonight as preparation for starting my new sewing class tomorrow (eeeeekkkk exciting!)  Remember this super cute Foxy Print from the Millets Craft Shack stash expansion bonanza?

Ooo Foxy …

I finally found the perfect use for it by making Heather Ross’ super sweet drawstring bags. The book features three sizes of bag – tonight I only had time to make the smallest pouch, but I will definitely be coming back for more of the larger sizes. As it stands though, the small pouch is exactly what I was after for tomorrow night. I need to take all my little bits and bobs along to sewing class (tape measure, pins, snippers, seam ripper, bobbin box, dressmaker’s pencil). This little pouch was the perfect size to tuck them all in together and stop them shaking about in my tote. Here’s my tied up little bag, looking foxy!

And here are its contents!

I absolutely loved making this little bag, it’s such a simple sew and a great way to use up fat quarters or smaller pieces of fabric! They’re a really good excuse to make use of fabrics with cute and cheerful prints which you’re otherwise not quite sure what to do with. I think they would also make sweet gifts and I plan to sew up a couple more for hand luggage to transport laundry home from trips away. No one need know I have owl print laundry bags while I’m pretending to be an important business lady right?!

Now I have this Foxy little bag, I don’t feel quite as nervous about meeting all my other classmates, who I’m sure are all pro sewers! I hope I can befriend them with my Foxy ways and they might lend me a pin or two. I may also have packed Dave the Dachshund in my bag for luck …

What about you? Do you have any sewing lucky charms? Or a favourite book to sew from?

Sewing Space Organisation

As some of you may know, I don’t really have a proper sewing space yet, and am already developing master plans of amazing sewing spaces for when we move in to our new flat! In the meantime I have to satisfy myself with making little tweaks to the little table that sits in our lounge where my sewing machine lives. Tweak of the week was my discovery of these super cute Mason Jars.

I normally use Mason Jars to put salads in for my lunch at work, but when I discovered these with ceramic geometric design lids, I thought they would be great for holding sewing notions. I like the way that they almost make a feature of all the bits and bobs that come with sewing!

The jars of bits and bobbins currently sit on top of a slightly boring looking little Ikea organiser. It’s actually really helpful though for holding all sorts of sewing related little things.


Boring but useful …

I’m planning on jazzing up this little box with Washi tape, as per this tutorial I found online. Any tutorial called “how to unboring-ize a desk organiser” has to be a winner! I might see if I can find some Washi tape today in some cool colours, so check back later to see if I have any success!

The last thing I wanted to share with you is my absolute favourite part of my mini sewing corner – my Ikea Raskog trolley. These trolleys are well blogged about by sewers across the internet, and they really aren’t wrong. What is particularly helpful for me is that I can wheel it out to my dining table, so it’s like having a portable sewing room! It can get a little messy sometimes (this is the tidy version!), but it usually only takes 5 minutes to get it back in order. Dave the Dachshund now proudly rides around in the trolley and keeps my sewing cheery!

Dave’s Chariot

How do you organise your sewing space? Do you have any inspiration for me for when I move to my new home?

Make Up Bags Galore

I have a bit of an obsession with make up bags, and when I started to sew, I was really keen to tackle making one. I stumbled across the free Sew Sew Easy Cosmetic Bag Pattern and I really liked the shape and size, so decided I had to give it a go. What made it really easy and a great confidence builder was the handy YouTube video tutorial.  It really helped me with the zip insertion and top stitching and now I feel pretty good about zips. I also particularly enjoy the part when Debby’s cat shows up to help!

Since then I have made no less than 5 of these handy little bags, and I still find it really satisfying. Now I’ve had a bit of practice it probably takes me about 90 minutes to make one, so they are a fun quick sew. It’s also a great pattern for fat quarters that you really want to use and they make great gifts!

Here’s one I made out of a fat quarter of fashionable vintage French lady fabric as a gift for my mum:

Oo La La!

I love the contrast lining which I think is really in-keeping with the vintage French lady luxury theme!

Earlier this year at the Dutch Fabric Market (blog post coming soon!) I discovered this great fabric company, Kiseki.

They make and sell the most beautiful fabrics from Japan, and I love their laminated versions. They are absolutely perfect for make up bags and come in the cutest prints. A friend of mine fell in love with this gorgeous bird print whilst we were at the market, so I decided it had to become a make up bag for her birthday.

Here’s the finished bag in all its glory!

I lined the bag with some dark green cotton, which I thought was a nice contrast to the outer fabric, whilst still being in-keeping with the zip colour. I also know that my friend is a big fan of teal blue and green, so it had to be a winner!

I also really loved this elephant print … so couldn’t resist making one up for myself! I lined it with some grey star print cotton I had left over and I absolutely love it. I use it every day and it makes me smile when I am putting on my make up in the morning!

Ernest the elephant would be pleased …

So that’s my round up of my favourite make up bag makes! Have you tried Debby’s Sew Sew easy pattern? I’d love to see what you’ve made. Do you have any other great free zipper pouch patterns to add to my list? I’m keen to make zipper pouches in all shapes and sizes!

Autumn Sewing Plans

I love Autumn – it’s probably my favourite time of the year! The colours on the trees, getting your boots out of the wardrobe, tights and jumpers to be all cosy in, pumpkin soup – the list of excellent Autumn related things is endless! There’s also nothing better than sewing on a rainy day!

With this in mind, I thought I’d pull together a list of my Autumn sewing plans that I can refer back to! There are almost so many projects I want to make at the moment, it’s hard to keep track, so I’m hoping this will help to order my thoughts a little!

First off is my sewing class. It starts next week on Tuesday and I’m very excited! I’m planning on making the Collette patterns Moneta dress in jersey (fabric to be picked out from the course habadashery). I’m hoping that by picking this project for the class I’ll be able to get some top tips on bodice fitting, and I also might get to try out the overlocker at the studio, as I don’t have one at home, but am tempted to buy one!

In addition to that, I’ve also had a bit of a pattern and fabric splurge of late. I’ve picked up Tilly and the Buttons’ Bettine Dress and a light Chambray to make it in. I’ve got a bit of an obsession with denim look things at the moment, and this one looks too comfy to miss!

Photo Credit: Tilly and the Buttons

I’ve also taken a Tilly Mathilde Blouse pattern (the Coco was out of stock – sad face!).

Photo Credit: Tilly and the Buttons

I’m a bit scared about Mathilde, as it has a lot of techniques I haven’t braved yet – pintucks and many many button holes argh! I also think I will probably need to try out an FBA to get a good fit. I really want to tackle this one though as I think I will learn loads and also the end product would be a great work wardrobe staple. I’ve got a navy blue plain crepe georgette to make it in, so let’s see what happens!
In addition to Tilly’s patterns I also plan to make the ByHandLondon Charlotte Skirt. I have a navy blue woven with a little stretch for it – a bit boring but very useful! I think this one might be my next project!

I also plan to tackle part two of the Simple Sew patterns top pack, this time making the cross-over back blouse. The advantage here is it has one button hole – I thought it could be a bit of a practice run for the many button holes of Mathilde! I have a blue poplin with little white polka dots for this one. I just need to pick my feature button and I am good to go!

Lastly I still plan to tackle Sorbetto! I’ve sellotaped the printable PDF together so now I just need to Pi-Dy it and cut it out and I’m ready to go. I think I’m going to use a very silky black fabric with a white pattern – it’s mystery fabric from my favourite remnant bin!

Mystery Fabric – Yay!

In between all that there is bound to be a few more elephants and other smaller projects. I also have an ongoing beast of a project, a Jelly Roll Jam double quilt for my Mum to complete! It’s all cut out now so just needs to be laid out, stitched together, quilted and then bound! It has to be done by Christmas at the very very latest!

What about you? Do you have autumn sewing plans? Or do you just sew on a whim? I’d love to hear about them!

Simple Sew Jersey Top

I’ve recently discovered the joys of purchasing fabric online (dangerous!) and made an order last week for a selection of fabric on sale. One of them was this white Jacquard Jersey for the bargain price of EUR 5.70/m. I really liked the texture that the Jacquard weave gives to it and as I’ve recently discovered a love of sewing with jersey, I thought it would make a good purchase, so snapped up 2 metres.

Lovely Swirly Print Texture

The project I had in mind for this jersey was this Simple Sew Jersey Top pattern. I really liked the shape of it and it’s also something I could never buy in this shape in a shop due to my err … *assets*. I thought I would give it a go and make some basic fitting alterations to accommodate. It also looked like a quick Saturday sew which would cure my weekend need for a completed project.

Just a quick note on this pattern – it was a freebie with Love Sewing Magazine so I didn’t have massively high hopes. However, I do think the “Beginner Level” tag is a bit misleading. The instructions that come with this pattern fit on one side of A4 paper and are more than sparse. In addition to this, the promised online tutorial was nowhere to be found. As a result, I really wouldn’t recommend this to a Beginner – maybe an adventurous beginner? You definitely need to have a few projects under your belt and some knowledge that you can apply to the sparse instructions to complete this successfully.

I traced my pattern using my new Pi-Dy discovery which meant I had the most accurate pattern cutting and marking that I think I’ve probably ever done. I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern to suit my shape – I cut a 16 on the bust, 14 on the waist and 12 on the hips, grading between sizes at the appropriate points. I also cut a 16 on the sleeves as I hate tight sleeves and added about an inch on the length. On reflection now on my finished make I would probably cut a 12 on the waist as well to make it slightly less boxy. The pattern only has 6 pieces so the cutting was pretty quick. I was also pleased when I got to laying out the pattern that I’ve been left with a nice wedge of fabric left over. I’m thinking maybe a circle skirt like my Jersey Denim Skirt or maybe even a pencil skirt?

Once I got to sewing, things came together pretty quickly. Essentially you need to attach the sleeves to the bodice, matching notches, and then sew the side seams – easy peasy!

Then comes the tough stuff, adding the sleeve bands, neck band and waistband, which is where the instructions were really lacking. Just little tips like pressing your bands in half when you’ve folded them would definitely be helpful to a beginner. The most frustrating and mind boggling part is that all of the bands appear to be about half the size of the fabric you are inserting in to them and there is zero mention of gathering, pleats or tucks in the pattern. It turns out that as you sew you need to stretch the band whilst allowing the machine to feed the bottom fabric of the main garment through. As you do this the excess fabric is tucked in to the band – magic! In order to do this without any puckers or little pleats you need to carefully pin each section to take up enough of the excess fabric. I have no idea how a beginner would be expected to know how to do that. All the instructions say are “sew the waistband, neckband and sleeve bands to the garment”. Great huh?

Anyway, rant about lacking instructions over. Here’s the finished garment! I’m super super pleased with it – it’s probably my favourite make of all time! The jersey makes it exceptionally comfy to wear and I love the neckband and sleeves. Amazingly the waistband is a perfect fit for me as well. I guess the positive about the lacking instruction is it proved to me that I have some acquired knowledge which I could apply, so I must be learning something!

Here’s a close up so you can marvel at the lovely texture of the jacquard!

And here’s me enjoying a Lillet Cocktail on my friend’s balcony in my new make (a bit of a fuzzy picture but I wanted to include it)! Have you had any super successful makes recently? Or any makes where you went off-piste and just ignored the bad instructions?!


A New Discovery

I’m going to just come out and say it … I hate tracing patterns! I’m definitely the kind of seamstress who likes the actual sewing with a sewing machine, and not the kind of seamstress that likes tracing off patterns from ginormous and cumbersome pattern sheets. However, I have come to acknowledge that the better your tracing and initial pattern adjustments, the better your finished project. I have also learnt that if you trace one pattern really well you can come back to using it time and again – so it’s worth doing it well to make it only one painful experience!

In an effort to minimise the aforementioned pain and my hatred of pattern tracing, I went on the hunt for professional materials that would make my life easier. In fairness to the process of pattern tracing, this is the point that I need to admit that until now I have either used baking paper or flip chart paper. Having made my exciting new discovery, I now wonder why I persisted with this method for so long!

So what did I find? Pi-dy! (Yep, I’d never heard of it either!) For those of you who don’t speak German, the packet promises “high transparency, easy pattern copying, no ripping, exact pattern cutting and creativity” (a high promise indeed!). It also states “lay it, copy it, finished!” and includes a special pen for tracing, all for EUR 3.50! I have to admit, I was sceptical – could this really live up to the packaging’s promise?

Pi-Dy … My New Discovery

From my perspective this little package did exactly what was promised … I was really impressed. I don’t think I have ever traced off a pattern so easily, didn’t miss a single marking, and definitely did not need to put a lamp underneath my glass table to use as a lightbox (yes I may have been known to do that!) Essentially Pi-Dy is like a really really thin plastic bag … super easy to see everything, and also surprisingly not slippery. The special pen also lives up to expectations. I thought I’d get covered in ink as I traced, but no!

Tracing in Action

Here are my pattern pieces post being cut out in use on fabric. They pin really easily and nothing tears ….

Pattern Cutting

So all in all I am delighted with my purchase. I only needed to use 1 sheet and there are about 20 in there … so for EUR 3.50, a bit of a bargain! I thought it warranted it’s own blog post as to be honest until I saw it in our department store haberdashery corner I’d never heard of it, never seen it recommended or blogged about. I’d be curious to hear if any of you have heard of it? Maybe it’s a German thing? Who knows! What do you use to trace your patterns? Anyone else hate it as much as me? I guess now I’ve found Pi-Dy I can’t say I really hate it anymore ….

Oh and if anyone is curious what’s on the cutting table … the Pi-Dy was used to help production of the Jersey Top from this SimpleSew Pattern … coming to my next blog post!

Third Time Lucky – Simplicity K1620AA

So many good choices to make from this pattern …

This is my third attempt at making Simplicity K1620 and I am finally happy enough with the results to share them! I decided to make view B as it’s a great shape for me, and I love the fact that it can look casual with jeans or more business-y tucked in to a pencil skirt. The first one I made of these was the first time I had done pleats or worked with a crepe Georgette, and although passable, there were too many mistakes for me to feel happy wearing it. Good job the fabric cost about 3 euros from the remnant bin! Let’s call it a Muslin shall we … ?

My second attempt failed on the basis of fabric choice … I chose a gorgeous white cotton with a fine blue print that I thought would make a great summer t-shirt. Unfortunately the cotton was more medium-weight than light-weight and there just wasn’t enough drape. I’m hoping to put it through the wash a few times to soften it up so that I can still get some wear out of it, as from a construction stand point it actually came together really well.

Today I present you with version 3, and I am so pleased with it! It really proves that sewing is a learning process, and I took all that learning and got a good fabric this time and managed to finish it quite well. The fabric is “mystery fabric” – probably some kind of Georgette, but I’m not 100% sure. It certainly has good drape though so was fantastic for the pleats. I had planned to do French seams on this top on account of the fact that the fabric is so fine, but I accidentally sewed wrong sides together (old habits die hard) and I didn’t think the fabric would stand up to unpicking, so unfortunately just normal seams were used (learning for version 4 right?!)

Just the job with a blazer …

I finished the sleeves, neckline and hem with satin bias binding and I love the look it gives to this top. It makes a bit more of a blouse rather than an everyday T-shirt top and makes me feel a bit more professional at work! The pattern calls for using the bias as a facing, but I decided I wanted to go for exposed binding to really make use of the satin. This was the first time I had done an exposed bias binding and I was really pleased with the results.

The only other changes I made to the pattern were to lengthen a little – probably an extra inch. I didn’t even need an FBA! However, if I were making a version again where I didn’t plan to wear it tucked in more often than not, then I would probably grade down to a smaller size on the waist and hips. It can be a bit “tent-y” when not tucked in … I kind of like it though! Plenty of room for cake and no one would ever know!

What I like most about this pattern is the fact that it is only 4 pattern pieces – once you have worked out the construction it comes together really quickly! I think this is a pattern that I will return to time and again as it’s a great work wardrobe staple. It’s also a good one for using up small amounts of “mystery fabric”, so it’s also quite a cheap sew. It definitely earns the title of a “Simplicity” pattern!

How about you? Do you have any sewing patterns that you return to time and again? I’d love to hear about them!

Or a casual look without …

Baby Blanket Gifts

I was super excited to find out earlier this year that I will be an Aunty for the first time in December! Hearing this news has increased my production of teeny tiny items exponentially and has opened up a whole new world of extra cute sewing! As a good friend of mine was taking a trip to the US, I asked her if she could source me some baby appropriate fabric. She came back with these gorgeous flannel charm packs and I couldn’t wait to turn them in to a patchwork blanket!

Eeeee Giraffes!!

I’ve never sewn with pre-cuts before and really really enjoyed it! It certainly helped improve the accuracy of my piecing as I am not the most accurate cutter. The patchwork top came together really quickly and I thought a simple repetitive piecing arrangement lets the giraffes give full impact!

I really wanted to bind and back this quilt in a grey star print fabric that I had a remnant of, but unfortunately I didn’t quite have enough continuous yardage. As a result I did a bit of piecing together on the back …. which hasn’t worked out super well, but at least I managed to stay on track colour scheme wise! I used quite a heavy-weight batting in this blanket, which makes it more of a comfy play mat/maxicosi blanket, but I like the fact that it makes it quite puffy and squidgy! I could definitely do with cutting larger binding in the future though to account for the extra puff factor!

I got to gift my baby blanket gift to my brother and sister-in-law last night at a family BBQ! Here’s my sister in law with the blanket (making full use of it as bump coverage ;-)) Big thanks go to my sister-in-law for agreeing to feature on my blog when she thought she was coming round for a relaxing evening!

In case you are wondering what has become of the pink charm pack …. I’ve actually whipped these up in to a pink baby blanket with a fleece backing … all I’ve got left to do is bind, so it will be coming to a new blog post soon!

Have you guys had success with pre-cuts? Are there any good European shops where I can buy them? What do you like to make as baby gifts? I’d love to hear from you!

Stash Expansion!

Hello new stash!

It’s been a bit of a quiet week on the Blog this week – mainly because I have been in London on a business trip, so not much time for fun craftiness! However I was pleasantly suprised to discover a super cute little craft shop – the Millets Craft Shack – today near my parents’ house where we are staying for the weekend! Mum and I couldn’t resist going in for a look and we were amazed to find a treasure trove of fabrics, sewing and knitting supplies!   My excitement resulted in some serious stash expansion – the fabrics were just so cute!

Woodland animals – yes!

I am particularly excited by this woodland print. It really makes me think of the countryside where I grew up, so seemed like a great souvenir purchase from my trip home. I only managed to bag a remnant (although only £2 woop woop!) so I think this is destined to become a cushion of some sort. Clearly not a cushion to match the vespa cushions – that would be a horrible clash – but maybe a cushion for my sewing chair? The fabric just makes me so smiley!

Twit Twoo Foxy Lady!

The woodland theme continued with the purchase of some foxy print and those gorgeous owls! PB is not a great lover of my like for owl things so I may need to sneak that one by him! I’m wondering if it is the torrential rain here in England that has made me so excited to buy the lovely autumnal colours – teal blues, oranges and brown. They are destined to become make up bags, soft toys or maybe even a lovely autumnal themed patchwork blanket to go with my woodland cushion … I’m not quite sure yet, but I know they will be lovely! Now I am having trouble deciding what my next sewing project will be … maybe it’s finally time for Sorbetto – let’s see how I feel when I get home!

Have you expanded you fabric stash recently? What do you do with cute printed cottons? I’d love to hear your project ideas!

A New Wardrobe Staple from a Spontaneous Sew

Yesterday morning I woke up in a Saturday Stitching mood and had visions of making the Sorbetto Top which I don’t seem to have gotten round to, despite having the fabric and notions ready to go. However, my Saturday Stitching plans were quickly de-railed when while getting dressed I discovered a wardrobe gap which required immediate rectification! It has been exceptionally warm here in Frankfurt this week and I woke up convinced of the need for some kind of comfortable weekend pull on jersey skirt …. and this was the outcome!

Having decided that I must make a comfortable pull on jersey skirt immediately, I whizzed off to the fabric store to see what I could find. My initial plan was to buy a couple of metres of plain black jersey and then whip up something simple that I could wear to a friend’s birthday that evening. However, whilst perusing the jersey section I found this amazing denim-look jersey stretch! Having never been a fan of sewing plain black things (it just seems boring somehow?!) my plans quickly began to change …

Whilst in the store I googled “easy jersey skirt pattern” and found this iCandy Hopscotch Skirt. Whilst stripes aren’t really my thing and I thought I’d leave the bow (little did I know that I would decide to add it back later) I really liked the shape so I thought I would go with it. I took a guess at my waist measurement and bought 90cm of fabric. Once I got home, I set about cutting. I was really nervous to cut in to the fabric as it was quite expensive and I knew I wouldn’t have any spare for mistakes!

As much as I loved the shape of the hopscotch skirt, I found the tutorial instructions a bit confusing, so decided instead to take my own approach based on what I’d learnt from sewing a Clemence Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons. This skirt is basically a classic circle skirt constructed from two waistband pieces and two large gathered squares of material. I set about making the waistband by sewing two strips together right sides facing. I was so pleased that the lady in the fabric store had given me the top tip not to press, but to steam this fabric in short bursts. It really helped to stop the strip of fabric keep rolling back in on itself! As the jersey fabric had quite a lot of stretch, I chopped about 4 inches off the waistband length to encourage it to sit well.

Once I had my waistband, I set about the side seams.  As I don’t have an overlocker and didn’t want any raw edges on the inside of the garment, I went with French seams to keep everything nicely enclosed, which worked out really nicely. I then moved on to gather the top edge with two rows of gathering stitches. I’d never gathered jersey before, so I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but it was actually not that different from what I’d done before on Clemence!

All that was left was for me to attach the gathered skirt to the waistband. I decided that I wanted the gathers to be enclosed on both the inside and the outside of the skirt, so I attached to the front waistband and then stitched in the ditch to attach the back of the waistband to the inside of the skirt. My stitching in the ditch has made marked progress since I started sewing and I love the fact that my skirt looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside!

Once everything was attached, it was time to tackle the hem. The skirt that I’d made was over the knee length – would have been great for work (if I could get away with Denim look stretch jersey at work) but wasn’t really the look I was going for for the weekend! So I took off a good 4 inches at the bottom and hemmed to about an inch above the knee. Circle skirts can be a bit *yawn* to hem (on and on and on it goes …) but then it was all finished up!

I tried it on and suddenly had the feeling it was missing something. I decided I wanted some kind of an embellishment to make it a bit less plain. Initially I was going to go with patch pockets until I saw my remaining 4 inches of skirt length just sitting on the cutting table shouting “make that bow sash out of me”. I’m not really a bow person, so I wasn’t sure it was the right decision, but once it was finished I was really pleased!

I wore my finished article out for cocktails that evening and I loved having something on that I enjoyed making so much! Here I am in the finished article!

It felt like an achievement to have not followed any instructions, but to just have used the techniques I’d already learned! I also think this skirt will be a real wardrobe staple – light for summer weekends or with black tights, tanned boots and a jumper in the autumn! Denim is so versatile, I’m glad I didn’t go with the boring black jersey. Saying that, now I feel compelled to sew another one of these up in black after all … maybe with pockets next time?!

Have you done any spontaneous sewing recently? I’d love to hear about it!