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Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

I have a little holiday coming up (in fact I fly tomorrow!) and as a treat I got myself a nifty new bag.

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It’s great, it turns from a shoulder bag into a rucksack with just an easy pull of the straps.  It’s also the perfect colour for me, I like the classic khaki and tan.  However I did want to put my own personal mark on it.  So I bought some patches.

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I removed the logo patch that was already on the bag and then sewed these two beauties on.  It was a lot fiddlier than I had anticipated (I’ve never sewn a badge onto a bag before) because I didn’t want to go too far and sew the patch to the lining.  Got it done though, and I love how it looks.  The Hogwarts alumni patch was from eBay, and the Sunnydale High one from this seller on Etsy.

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A little nod to TBBT there, but that’s basically what I’ve been doing.  Last week I bored you all rigid telling you about my spring cleaning, and mentioned that I had put aside a load of assorted fabric to use in a project straight away.  Well, when you have lots of random fabric (ranging in size from scraps to whole half metres) and you want to use them up quickly then the two options that come to mind first are probably quilts or bunting.  I opted for the latter, given I already have one quilt that’s still unfinished and languishing in a box somewhere.

I’m going to ramble a bit now so bear with me.

One of the reasons I have so many half finished projects (or, dare I say it, ones that never got off the ground) is that I like to wait for optimum conditions.  This bunting is a really good example.  Of course the most efficient way to sew bunting is by using a sewing machine.  My sewing machine is still in need of a service and I daren’t use it until it’s been checked out (because of the alarming burning smell when it runs…).  All well and good, but that sewing machine has been gathering dust for well over a year now.  Which means I’ve been putting off various other things that require the use of a sewing machine.

You with me so far?  So ideally I would get the machine serviced and then use it to sew the flags.  However we know that the likelihood of me getting it serviced soon is very slim.  I could cut the flags and then keep them safe until the machine is fixed…but that’s not a good idea because things get lost.  Somewhere in this house is a bag full of quilt squares (and not from the half-finished quilt mentioned above!) that I cut out and then put safely to one side.  It gets slightly more complicated when I tell you that my mother has an industrial sewing machine – so she could sew it for me (her machine is super fast and scares the bejeesus out of me), but she was on holiday last week.

What’s a girl to do?

Suck it up, buttercup.  That’s right, I sewed the flags by hand.  BY HAND.  All ninety of them.  Possibly a little crazy, but a) it got the job done, and b) I was ill last week so not in a fit state to do anything other than sit and snuffle on the sofa.  Sewing flags killed the time between naps and doses of medicine.

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They look good eh?  So I got them all sewn and pressed, and now I will do the sensible thing and ask my mother if she’ll sew them onto the bias binding for me.  Of course I have no actual immediate use for bunting, but I figure it’s bound to come in handy at some point and in the meantime it means I have reduced my stash and turned dead fabric into a potentially useful ornament!

Tl;dr – I had spare fabric and made bunting.

PS.  In the spirit of using it up the sewing was all done using thread I had picked up on sale a few years ago.  I got suckered in by the cute jar and it was cheap, but I already have plenty of thread so it’s just been sitting there gathering dust.  Now it’s all gone, huzzah!

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I’ve spent a lot of time bookbinding and painting recently so I thought it was time for a change.  This week I decided to repurpose the cardboard from some old shoe boxes to make some pretty book-style storage boxes.  I’m really pleased with how they turned out, and it gave me the opportunity to use some of the gorgeous fabric that I’ve got stashed away.  They’re now available in my Etsy shop.

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You don’t really hear much about darning socks in this day and age because they’re usually so cheap to replace.  I’ve always been curious about it though (too much reading of classic literature), and recently my interest was revived by Katy of Misericordia.  I’d actually got halfway to starting some darning last year when I saw a ‘how to’ in a magazine, and my partner gave me some of his much loved socks to repair… but then I put them away in a cupboard and forgot about them.

I came across the socks again this past weekend and as I’m off sick at the moment and not supposed to be doing anything too strenuous I thought I’d finally give it a bash.

It was surprisingly easy, and oddly relaxing!

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The first job was to find some suitable thread.  As the socks are quite thick I wanted to use yarn, but none of my yarn was quite the right thickness.  So I found some grey acrylic that was a reasonably good match colour-wise and then split it (as you would do to embroidery thread) to get three strands.

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Pretty big hole, eh?  I got the sock positioned over my darning mushroom (second hand/vintage, from a car boot sale) and started by working across the hole in one direction…

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…then started going the other way, weaving in and out of the threads I’d just sewn.  If you’re giving this a go then remember to start your threads a decent distance from the edge of the hole so that they’re anchored firmly.

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Not bad, even if I do say so myself.

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And here’s how it looks on the inside.

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So there we go, my first attempt at darning socks!  I will definitely be doing this again (there’s already another pair waiting for me…), but I think I’d only bother with expensive socks as it really isn’t worth it for bog-standard cotton ones.  Matt’s worn these already and says they’re comfy and he can’t feel any difference so I think I got the thread thickness right, which is especially satisfying.

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Work in progress…

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Another commission, this one an embroidered letter.  This customer purchased one of the embroidered letters from my Etsy shop – the ‘A’, as both she and her husband have the same first initial.  She then decided she wanted their last initial too, in colours to complement the other one.  I was very happy to oblige (in a strange, slightly masochistic, way I do enjoy embroidery!), and I’m chuffed to bits with the finished piece.  The original letter was pink with turquoise highlights, and this one is the opposite – the shades used on each are slightly different, but they complement each other nicely.

Fun fact: I lost count after the first hundred, but I estimate that there are around 1,000 French knots in this piece of embroidery.

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Yes, I know I said no more embroidery for a while but someone requested a particular letter 🙂

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Bit of a bold title, but I’m over the moon at how well this experiment turned out so I thought I might as well brag a bit!  Those who read my blog regularly will know that I’m not much of a seamstress.  I have a bash every so often, but the things I make are rarely complicated and are generally quite small.

The idea of making a dress was, therefore, a bit ambitious to say the least.  However I was quite determined as I wanted a new dress and hadn’t seen anything I particularly liked in the shops.  I took a wander down to the fabric stall on Portobello Market and managed to find a lovely wool fabric that I thought would work with the design I had in mind.

Sadly I don’t have any work in progress photos as I was too busy concentrating, but it basically went like this:

  • Step 1.  Have a look at photos online of things that were vaguely what I had in mind.
  • Step 2.  Doodle on a bit of paper and come up with a pattern.
  • Step 3.  Bit of a new experience for me as I’m usually very vague and tend to guesstimate sizes, but I measured myself and then spent some time working out what sizes my pattern pieces needed to be.
  • Step 4.  I cut the pattern pieces out of felt and then pinned the lot together so I could see if the idea worked.  It did!
  • Step 5.  I cut the pattern out of my lovely new fabric and then spent an awful lot of time bent over my sewing machine.  I’m not a great seamstress so it took me a while.  The sewing together of the dress was actually quite straightforward, but what was really fiddly was putting in the zip and tidying up the seams inside the dress.

I know, without progress photos it’s probably pretty pointless describing what I did.  The point I’m trying to make is that this was very much a trial and error process (not too many errors thankfully, but I do think that was more due to luck than judgement!), and that I think most people could do this if they put their mind to it.

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Not bad eh?  Here are some close ups of the dress, you can see that I covered the inner seams with bias binding to stop them fraying, as I don’t have an overlocker for my sewing machine.  I also hemmed it by hand to give an invisible hem.  I chose pink bias binding for the inside of the hem so that it would at least look fetching if the wind caught it and flipped the dress up!  The zip was quite tricky to put in as I didn’t have a zipper foot (I’ve now ordered one to use on my next dress, lesson learned!) but I think it’s come out ok.  The only thing I keep forgetting to do is sew on a hook and eye at the top of the zip just to finish it off.

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Thus ends my first foray into dressmaking.  I’ve worn the dress a few times already and it really is perfect for me.  Nice and comfy (well you’d hope so, given it was made to fit!), quite warm due to the choice of fabric, and nice roomy pockets for all the dog treats and poop bags I’m inevitably carrying around.  I went to the market on Saturday and bought some more fabric (a lovely black wool with pinstripes – photo below, although the black looks grey there) and intend to make another dress with the same pattern very soon.

 

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When I visited Edinburgh in September a friend very kindly gave me her late mother’s collection of knitting needles.  I was hugely touched, and also very excited as my own knitting needle collection is pretty small.  When I got back to London I sifted through them and quickly realised that I needed to sort out some kind of storage for the double pointed needles, as those are the type I use most often.

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The regular needles will, for now, continue to be stored in the whiskey jars.

I had a look around online to get an idea of what I ought to be doing and liked the look of this tutorial.  Now, accurate measurements are something that I don’t seem to do when it comes to projects involving fabric so I just went at this a bit like a bull in a china shop.  I kept it simple and used the fabric I had left over from the bag I made in September.  Given I didn’t measure properly it came out very well, I did have to undo it and make the seams smaller though as it was about half a centimetre too short for the tallest needles, but that wasn’t too much of a drama.

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I love the clean lines of it, the utilitarian style is very me!

A couple of weeks later I decided to make another needle roll, this time for my Knitpro Nova needles which include both DPNs and circular needles.  I was feeling a bit braver so I decided to try out a more colourful combination of fabrics (I had bought the fox one that weekend, and was desperate to make something with it).

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Here are the two rolls side by side, you can see that the one for my Knitpro Nova is a lot smaller (which was another factor in using the fox and polka dot fabric – I didn’t need very much of either).

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This has been a wonderful project for helping to build my confidence with the sewing machine, and I’ve ended up with two useful (and attractive) items.  A happy ending 🙂

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When the film Indecent Proposal was first released I fell in love with the bag that Demi Moore’s character wore.  It’s a sort of rucksack crossed with a jacket or waistcoat.

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Over the years my interest in this style of bag has resurfaced periodically, and each time I go searching to try and find something similar, with no result.  Until recently.  This time my online searching led me to Stand Up Comedy who have made their own conceptual version of the bag.

It’s a pretty cool version and I like that there isn’t any bulk at the very back of the bag (which always struck me as being a bit impractical for sitting down on)… but there’s no way I’d ever pay $555 for a bag.  I could win the lottery tomorrow and still not want to spend that much on a bag.  What’s a girl to do?  Make her own of course.

Now I’d be the first to admit that I’m not much of a seamstress.  Sewing really isn’t my forte, but as I was making this bag for me it didn’t matter if the stitching was crooked or it was a bit lopsided so I set my nerves aside and went for it.  I stared at the photos on the Stand Up Comedy page for ages (and I do mean ages) before grabbing some felt and making a rough version to check the shape and size.

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Yeah, it really wasn’t a complicated shape was it?  The next step was to choose fabric (I went for a medium-weight cotton canvas in a sort of hemp/stone colour), and also to do some hasty research on YouTube to find out how to make welt pockets.  I didn’t take any progress photos as I was too busy trying to get it all done in one day, but here’s the finished bag.

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I’m exceptionally pleased with my welt pockets, especially as they were the first ones I’ve ever made.  All four pockets are super roomy as I seem to need to carry more stuff around than ever these days (dog-walking accoutrements in addition to my usual tat), and the bag is so comfy to wear.  All the comfort of a rucksack, but with easy access to the pockets.  Plus it’s roomy enough to fit over even my bulkiest winter jumpers.  The best part?  The fabric, zips, and fabric stabiliser all together cost me less than £30.  Bargain.

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