A new laundry bag from curtains

27 Jan

My boyfriend and I have been taking the term ‘laundry pile’ quite literally since we moved in together a few months ago, and finally decided enough was enough. When in town we popped into the charity shop, looking for some fabric that might make a suitable laundry bag – something a little thicker than usual fabrics, with a nice pattern that isn’t too light. We found these curtains, a set of two 66×53″ for only £4.50! It’s a half cotton half polyester mix.

Laundry_bag_fabric

I previously used a different tutorial for a lined drawstring bag, but that felt unnecessary for a laundry bag, so I wanted something a little simpler. I found the Great British Sewing Bee tutorial! It’s available on the Radio Times website. It shows you how to make the ribbon as well as the bag. It took me three evenings of an hour or two each, so probably about 4-5 hours in all – most could probably do it faster as I always seem to take much longer than the tutorials suggest! It didn’t help that the fabric had a slight stretch to it which made measuring and cutting it tricky! :S

Laundry_bag_finished

The finished bag! It looks brighter in real life but the camera on my phone is playing up.

I didn’t like the raw edges inside, as this fabric frays quite a lot and I don’t have pinking shears, so I used the zigzag stitch on a low length to hold the raw edges in instead of ironing them into opposite directions as the tutorial suggested. I first did this to the sections of the side seams where the hole is for the ribbon to pass through, so through one piece of fabric for the 4 inch gap, and then to hold the double layers of every other seam together, so through two pieces of fabric for all remaining raw seams. It’s much better now and I am really happy with it! I don’t think french seams would have worked as well as this did because of the holes for the ribbons.

I am really happy with it! And since it only used one of the two curtains, I might use the other curtain to make one for my sister, as she previously mentioned she was on the lookout for a new laundry bag.

This is the first time I have sewn using charity shop fabric (well, repurposed) and I wish I’d thought of it sooner – will definitely be going again. Maybe once I have used up some of my stash….

Hooded personalised towel / back after 12 months

4 Jan

I haven’t sewn much at all since my last post in November 2014. Other than small tasks (fixing curtains, hemming dress, etc.), I had only had one project in the 12 months since my last post, before this one. Christmas 2014 I made a purse for my sister out of some fabric I got on Goldhawk road. I used the tutorial from FortworthFabricStudio and I think it turned out nicely. It was part of her Christmas present  and she was delighted.

These photos were only just taken yesterday as I didn’t take any at the time – so excuse the PJs – I loved the contrasting red but think maybe I should have used half navy rather than using only patterned fabric, it’s a bit overwhelming!

ANYWAY – about the personalised hooded towel!

My sister-in-law asked if I would make my nephew a personalised towel for his 2015 Christmas present, and I jumped at the chance / motivation to sew again after so long. The last 12 months I’ve been pretty unwell and having to ration my energy, but I have been feeling better recently so figured it was about time to get my Singer back out!

I wanted to make it a bit more interesting than just a towel with his name on, so I was really happy when I found a tutorial from CrazyLittleProjects which sounded like it wouldn’t take too long. It needs a bath towel and a hand towel, and a LOT of thread (I used one and a half of the 100m Gutterman ones). Sewing the towel together was a little tough, even with a size 100 needle, and I discovered that the little lever that raises/drops the foot will raise the lever even more if you push and hold it up. Without that I would never have managed to get the doubled-over bits of the towel under the needle! It took a while and gave me sore shoulders, but I was pretty happy when it was done.

I had also never done applique, and have decided since that doing it with lowercase curvy letters was a terrible idea for my first time. Next time I might be able to work it, as I think I got the hang of this a bit as I went on, but in hindsight I should have used capitals only for this one! I used the great templates from Free Applique Patterns and traced them off my screen. I didn’t have any paper backed fusible webbing and so I just used hemming web to stick the fabric directly to the towel and it worked quite well I think – but it was a bit fiddly so I might have to add some paper-backed stuff to my collection for future.

Hooded Towel - appliquéd letters.jpg

I decided to make the letters wonky so I wouldn’t drive myself mad making them straight! I am quite happy with the result and my boyfriend’s advice to use dark thread against the light-ish towel was a great suggestion.

I was quite happy with the finished result (although I forgot to get a photo of the full thing) and when he opened it he gave it a snuggle – even though he had no idea what it was other than a soft thing, that one snuggle made it worth it and reminded me of why I love sewing. So I definitely won’t be leaving it that long until my next project!

Back after two months: kindle case and eye mask

13 Dec

I’ve been missing since the end of Sew Selfless September – a combination of moving house (moving out of my parents’ and into a flatshare with a uni friend, halving my commute in the process) and being quite ill (mainly very very sleepy).

Anyway, I finally decided to get a little bit of practise in before I make my sister’s Christmas present, and made TWO things:

I made a Kindle Case using a tutorial from Whip Stitch – it is a really good tutorial and fits perfectly but make sure you read a couple of steps ahead to make sure you have understood, I made a few mistakes… I also had to do two lines of topstitching on the far left edge because my batting was VERY thick (about 1cm)

Kindle Case Inside

Kindle case!

I know that people who love books tend to feel it is important to love the feel of a book, and while I definitely won’t stop buying and reading paper books (I am reading one atm and have others on my Christmas list) it is so much more comfortable to read a kindle, it doesn’t matter if I finish a book when I am unable to buy one as I’ll have others stored, and I can look up definitions of words I don’t know without a huge interruption to reading as is needed if I consulted a dictionary while reading a paper book.

But I’ll never read a kindle in the bath.

IMG-20141212-WA0014

Then I decided that in my new flat the curtains don’t quite cover it enough, so I then also made an eye mask, this time loosely using the pattern from the red kitchen. I didn’t even realise that she had done a double row of topstitch, I did it because it looked a lot neater – and it was easier to first do the inside one and then do the one closer to the edge with the first line holding the fabric in place. Ta-da!

IMG-20141212-WA0012

I feel ready to attack some vintage fabric for my sister’s Christmas present… eek! :)

Liebster award – thank you!

26 Oct

The lovely Beth from After Dark Sewing nominated me for the Liebster award! It is essentially a chain email in blogs, and I really enjoyed reading her entry which is here. As I was halfway through this post with it sat in my drafts, I was told that I had actually received another nomination, from the brilliant Some Assembly Required’s Shawn here! I really enjoy reading both of these blogs and HUGELY recommend that you check them out :) I am also SO flattered that they have nominated me since I still think I am a complete beginner!)

(For the five blogs which I now nominate, please see the end of this post :) )

liebster award

Since I received two nominations I am going to answer all the questions in a row. Numbers with a B are Beth’s questions, and with an S are Shawns :)

B1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Would “being able to have half as much sleep and still function” count? Because I definitely would make loads of use of that.  If we’re talking real superpowers, I’d love to be able to read people’s minds on demand because it’d be helpful in real life and in work with clients, but being on demand means that you don’t have to listen to everyone’s inane thoughts all day.

S1. What is your favourite film quote?

Hmmmm this is really tough, even just choosing between different ‘genres’. I’ve chosen the one which made me think a lot when we were all being normal teenage girls being a bit more bitchy than is necessary. I think we all had those moments where someone said something mean and you got upset because you thought it was about you rather than it being about them not knowing how to deal with what was actually wrong, so while I’m not the sort of person to “call someone else fat to make me feel skinner”, it still helped me in some ways:

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you. (Cady, Mean Girls)

B2. Which movie would you watch over and over?

I have watched 27 dresses a million times, and would probably happily watch it many more! But as for non-guilty films, I’d go for The Life of Brian. It is one of the first films (after cartoons) that I remember loving it so much the first time and coming back to it. The spaceship at the start still surprises me every time!

S2. What was the first thing you made?

Apart from hemming a couple of skirts (and turning culottes into a skirt), which were botch jobs at uni, the first thing I made with my sewing machine was a floral coin purse. I just wanted to try out my new machine but  my mum asked if she could have it to keep her tissues in her bag in! I still remember how amazing that felt, that someone actually wanted something I had made with my own hands on my first attempt, and I got addicted!

B3. If you could be granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

Hmmm this is a tricky one! I think my wishes are a bit boring but here goes:
(1)  for more sewing space! I currently use a tiny writing desk and it isn’t really working out…
(2) to be able to magically get home instantaneously every night. commuting isn’t too boring with a book but sometimes I’d rather be at home sewing or in the bath or cooking!
(3) that when I move into my flat everything works and we don’t have any major bill nightmares.

S3. Which three words best describe you?

This is always an interesting question because really there’s two answers – the three we want, and the three our friends would say. If the two are pretty close you’re normally doing alright! However I haven’t asked my friends so I will have to go with

  • Organised – because I feel anxious if things aren’t planned and will always have a list or a spreadsheet and my filofax is the key to my life.
  • Chatty – I will talk to most people if they demonstrate a willingness, and will even strike up a conversation with someone I am alone at a busstop with because I would rather talk to the stranger than feel unsafe or awkward in their company. From the start of school to the current day in my office I have always talked too much (though I don’t get told off for it at work, thankfully!)
  • Stubborn – my boyfriend calls it principled but it is the same things really. Once I have made up my mind, which normally takes a very long time, I don’t change it! Probably because I am so indecisive I know how painful it’d be to try and come up with a new plan!

B4. Coffee or tea?

I’m very British and love my tea! Although with my response to (1) I admit that I do give in when there is a fresh pot of coffee in the work kitchen!

S4. How do you find inspiration for projects?

I read pretty much EVERY post which appears in the ‘sewing’ stream in my WordPress Reader, which often throws up some cool ideas which I then REALLY want to make and try to think who I could make it for. This has led to most of the things that I have made on this blog.

Alternatively whenever people are talking about buying things / I am thinking about buying things, I often think “I could make something” and it won’t always be cheaper but it will be fun and personal – this was the reasoning behind my recent laptop cover and the baby blanket.

Much to my surprise, people have begun ASKING me to do things. Hemming a dress here and there, mending a bag. I even made a draught excluder for my uncle’s house, in about 15 minutes upon request and the beanbag cover was a request too!

I am trying hard to get into Pinterest!

B5. What are your pet hates?

I cannot stand the sound/sight of chewing. That is definitely my main one! All my other ones are sound-related: sound of people cutting/picking at their nails, sound of tinny music from someone’s headphones on the train or a neighbour’s music/tv, snoring. Most unnecessary noises count really – I am probably happiest when sat in a corner with my headphones in and working away on my sewing machine blissfully unaware of everything else :)

S5. Do you have a favourite post from your archives?

I don’t actually have that many posts at all…. I think my favourite must be the His and hers passport covers one (not really his and hers, just male and female..) as I really enjoyed making them, thinking about how the different fabrics required different patterns, and the covers turning out quite nice! I plan to make them some matching luggage tags with the leftover fabric one day

B6. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?

Purple! I get most things in purple if I can… I would choose a nice deep purple

S6. If you could take up any new hobby what would it be?

If I could take up an OLD one I would choose jogging since I had to stop due to knee problems. As for new ones, I would probably go for cycling or knitting, which are both things which I hope to take up in the near future!

B7. What’s the story behind your blog name?

It’s a bit of a miserable answer but it has a happy ending I promise (!): When I graduated from university I spent about a year unemployed and recovering from an illness. I became depressed, seeing everyone else getting on with their jobs or further degrees while I didn’t produce anything except unsuccessful job applications. I started to do cross stitch and embroidery when I was taking time off from job applications (weekends), and found it immensely satisfying and it made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile even if it was just going to be stuffed in a drawer for eternity once finished. I decided it’d be a good idea to set aside some time every weekend to create something to keep the good feeling going, and Creative Saturdays happened! Since then I’ve found my dream job and bought a sewing machine, and sewing has remained as my hobby :)

S7. What is your favourite book

There’s a lot of contenders as I imagine there is with a lot of people, and I recently read The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared which I thought was brilliant.

My all-time favourite book, however, is How To Be Good by Nick Hornby (author of About A Boy) . It hasn’t received great reviews but I think, as with a lot of peoples’ favourite books, I read it at a time of life when it just really spoke to me – It is about a doctor struggling with what it is that makes us ‘good’, and how often can you do something before you have to admit that maybe you are “the sort” that does it as opposed to it being “not really like me at all, honest!” – There is a great quote in the first chapter that I can’t remember exactly but it was along those lines. I would obviously just look it up but I’ve lent it to a friend at the moment…

B8. Do you have any pets?

I have a lovely lurcher, who is the most energetic, loving, and scatty (and huge) dog. I also have a cat but she doesn’t spend much time in the house on account of aforementioned lurcher who doesn’t realise he is a bit too big to play! I am sad that when I move out of my parents’ house soon I probably won’t have my own dog for many years :(

S8. Describe your house

It is a terraced house in the suburbs of London, with three bedrooms and just me and my parents. I am moving out soon and so it will be just them! It is quiet apart from dogs barking (not mine!) and lots of buses, and children playing. My room is the ‘box room’ but I love it, it has ll old mismatched furniture which is definitely my kind of thing. We have a huge trampoline which even at the age of 23 I use a lot, and my dog LOVES to chase his tail while jumping on it (I must video that someday)

B9. Are you a lark or an night owl?

I am a bit of both – I wake up early and can stay up late, but I lag in the afternoon! So I have to force myself to sleep earlier to avoid the lag…

S9. What has been your favourite blogging moment?

When I posted my embroidered Mary Jane and got the nicest comments and recommendations – it was really early on, before I had my sewing machine, and people were just so lovely that I think it got me addicted to blogging.

B10. What was your favourite television programme as a child?

oooh this is a tough one! I think of them all I might have to choose Saved By The Bell, I remember being banned from watching the ‘Trouble’ TV channel because I watched it too much! This was back when the remote control had a ‘back’ button which showed which channel you’d watched last – so whenever I saw my dad’s car pulling up outside I would change the channel to ‘allowed’ ones twice so he couldn’t tell :D

S.10 Which celebrity would be top of your guest list for a dinner party?

The Queen – would hardly be raucous but would be a good evening without being able to discuss politics and an excuse to have amazing food and loads of courses. Heaven.

liebster award

And now to nominate some more blogs for the Award! I really enjoy these blogs so please do check them out :)

My five nominations are to:

Sewnhenge: Sewing such cute clothes for her kid, and lovely dresses for herself, I love seeing what she’s done :) Especially the purple ostrich dress (seriously, go find it)

I Fucking Made This: Such gorgeous makes (not just sewing, her baking is as envious as her sewing!) and I think my favourite thing about her blog might be her attitude towards it being pretty bloomin cool to be able to make things.

A Dress of My Own: Brilliant cheery colourful dresses! Her photo locations always make me jealous too

Vint Hill Vintage: Awesome swing for kids and mums again, and you HAVE to see the fish costume on her tutorials page!

Atelier Oursonne: mainly knitting but I love the scrap Sundays!

and the questions which I’ll pass on – you can do all 20 of the above if you like, but it took quite long and I don’t want to eat into your sewing time so here’s a condensed list I recommend :)

1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

2. What was the first thing you made?

3. If you could be granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

4. How do you find inspiration for projects?

5. What are your pet hates?

6. If you could take up any new hobby what would it be?

7. What’s the story behind your blog name?

8. Do you have any pets?

9. What has been your favourite blogging moment?

10 Which celebrity would be top of your guest list for a dinner party?

Laptop cover: Sew Selfless September

7 Oct

This is the last of my SSS items! I didn’t actually finish it in September, but that is due to a combination of: making the beanbag cover from my last post when I should have been doing this, then being ill, then my sewing machine going haywire after I’d only sewn about a quarter of it. Anyway, my sewing machine perked up again on Sunday so I decided to finish it and hope that it could still count.

Sew Selfless September_bigger

Click to go through to Sometimes Sewist’s SSS intro

My boyfriend has decided to replace his 8-year old laptop (surprisingly) with a shiny new, fast, smaller one since he is starting his PhD. He got a MacBook Pro 13″ (normal, not air). Ages ago he chose this zig-zag fabric without us knowing what to do with it, and when he got the MacBook I hoped that the single fat quarter which we bought would be enough for – and it turns out that it definitely is!

I decided to opt for an envelope-style, as he wanted it to be waterproof and I felt that needed something which was covered on all six sides. So this needed a FQ of outside fabric, a FQ of batting (I used quilting cotton batting), and a FQ of waterproof fabric (mine was navy nylon).

Laptopcase_bottom

Here’s the stripes all lining up next to the flap:

Laptopcase_tom

And a close-up of the binding which I used to close the edge where the case opens to let the laptop in/out – it is not perfect by any means and I think the envelope style makes it a little harder to have neat edges – I wonder if somehow a zipped-up case might have actually made it easier to have all the raw edges enclosed and everything a bit neater? Anyway, I made my own bias binding for the first time! It was only about 25cm worth but still.

Laptopcase_binding1Laptopcase_binding2

I haven’t written out all of my instructions but I kept all of my measurements and doodles, so feel free to ask, though there’s so many out there already that unless you are as fussy as me I am sure you can find what you want.

He is really happy with it and it kept his laptop dry when he and the contents of his bag got quite wet during a cycle in the rain (yay British autumn) so it serves its purpose!

I didn’t have any sew-on Velcro and my metal snappers/fasteners risk scratching his laptop so it doesn’t fasten for now, but the flap is just long enough to get away with that until I can get to Hobbycraft / John Lewis.

If that is allowed to count in my Sew Selfless September, then I managed to complete my task successfully! Though if it doesn’t I don’t mind much, as I was able to make plenty of things for people and three people have benefitted well from it :)

Beanbag cover (Sew Selfless September)

5 Oct

I did make this over a week ago, in September, but I have been far too busy to post it!

image

My sister left for uni last Saturday!  She asked me to make her a new beanbag cover since the previous one was a bit childish…

We don’t have many fabric shops around here, and I didn’t have time to order from eBay before she left, so I got her to go to a local shop and buy a cheap duvet cover.  £8 for a double duvet set! So much fabric.

I used the old one to slightly work out what to do and saw that it had a circular base of 18″ diameter. I wanted the new cover to be slightly smaller  so I decided to make my circle base 18″ before seams so 16″ after.
I didn’t want to have to put in a zip or some type of fastening especially when the duvet has one,  so I drew a semi circle with the straight edge a cm away from the snap fasteners / poppers at the bottom of the duvet cover.

Beanbag_basemeasuring

Beanbag_base1

Then I cut a piece the rest of the length of the fabric (about 60″) and 26″wide. I left I the extra few inches of length on (you need the perimeter of the circle, so 3.14*diameter plus seam allowance plus a few extra inches to account for issues caused by attaching a straight line to a curve)

(I didn’t take any pictures of the next few steps – I hope they are clear if anyone is following them but I’m not trying to sell this as a tutorial…)

I then sewed the base to the rectangular piece I just cut, with the perimeter of the base being attached to the longer edge of the rectangle. I only pinned the start then kept adjusting the fabric as I went.  I sewed french seams for the base but not for the other seams as I realised it was incredibly pointless and was making the calculations a bit more tricky.

Now that I had the base attached to the main body of the bean bag, I sewed up the side seam (where the two ends of the rectangle meet. Next I laid it flat on the floor and measured the width of the beanbag – it was 28″ folded over so 56″ overall. I sewed four darts 7″ inch deep and 6″ wide, to taper the sides out into leaving just a few inches at the top for me to insert a handle into.

For the handle I sewed a 9″ wide strip of fabric together inside out, turned it right side out, and inserted it into that gap left at the top of the beanbag.

Here it is in situ:

Beanbag in sister's room

This did come under my Sew Selfless September pledge but I still had to make something for my boyfriend since my pledge specifically stated that I would. I had a few problems with the sewing machine, and with maths and visualising it, however it is done and I will post it soon :)

Sew Selfless September: A sewing kit

14 Sep 20140914 Sewing kit_bag Wordpress Flickr

My sister leaves in two weeks for university, and doesn’t have anything resembling a sewing kit. Not even some black/white thread and a needle. She can definitely hand sew to mend her clothes as she sometimes borrows my stuff to do so. It is also her birthday today, which is a perfect coincidence. I decided to make her a hand-picked sewing kit. I used Truly Myrtle’s Box Bag Tutorial, which I should say upfront was really excellent. It is quite a tricky process (for me as a beginner) and you have to look at the pictures carefully to make sure that you understand as you go along, but it works really well and I was so pleased with the result. I’ll definitely be making another sometime, maybe for my cross-stitch stuff. I was originally going to make the one which I mentioned in this post, however I feel that the box bag offers more opportunity for expansion, and I am hoping that this will be the main kit she uses – the one in that link would be better suited to a travel version. 20140914 Sewing kit_equipment I wanted my bag to be the same dimension as that in the tutorial, so I used:

  • Two pieces of fabric 13.5″x17″ (from fat quarters)
  • Two pieces of interfacing 13″x16.5″ (one heavy, one light)
  • One 14″ white YK zip
  • Scissors, pins, zipper foot, ruler, rotary cutter, cutting mat, white thread, and my SEAM RIPPER

20140914 Sewing kit_closed bag 3 It is not symmetrical as you can see there, however I take comfort in that the line is at least straight so it is ok for it to be off-centre. 20140914 Sewing kit_bag contents 2 I hand-sewed on this ribbon that I got from eBay (only half of those red stitches are mine) You’ll notice that I left off the handle. By that point of the tutorial I had found it so hard (I am a little ill and it was 2am, my fault not that of the tutorial!) that I was convinced that it would be a royal mess when I turned it out, so chose not to add the handle. I regret not adding the handle, as it was one of two really good things about this tutorial (the other being that it is lined and seamless) and I think it would have looked nicer than I thought in my tired state. 20140914 Sewing kit_bag contens full It contains:

  • 6 spools of thread (black, white, red, beige, blue, brass)
  • two needle threaders
  • a thimble
  • safety pins in 4 sizes (36)
  • sew-on snappers (helpful for gaping tops/dresses!)
  • a dressmakers’ measuring tape
  • hemming web
  • a seam ripper
  • 24 needles in a felted needle book which matches the box bag!
  • some nice sewing scissors which my mum has bought her separately

I made the needle book quite quickly out of some scrap fabric – I had been planning to make this really awesome one from Diary of a Crafty Lady, but again was a bit tired and couldn’t face it, but I wouldn’t have had enough matching fabric for it anyway. Maybe I’ll buy a pretty fabric and make her one for Christmas and she can use this one for her pins? 20140914 Sewing kit_needle book closed 20140914 Sewing kit_needle book p1 20140914 Sewing kit_needle book p2 The needle book took about 10 minutes to make and just uses two bits of felt and two bits of fabric. I bought the ‘hook and loop’ (John Lewis brand instead of Velcro) and didn’t realise it was adhesive until I went to use it. I also didn’t realise that you can’t sew through adhesive hook and loop (unless it is the special ‘stick and sew’ kind) until my needle got stuck and subsequently broke. Oops. It was a really simple process. Sew two rectangles of fabric together right sides together, with a small seam allowance all around, leaving an inch un-sewn to turn it right side out. Turn it right side out, iron it, and top stitch around the edges. Sew the two pieces of felt onto the book with a line completely down the centre of the fabric and felt, and iron it folded so that it holds that shape easier. Attach two pieces of hook and loop, and it’s done!

20140914 Sewing kit_maythethoughts

I am giving it to her alongside my favourite book, a collection from a London artist from http://www.maythethoughtsbewithyou.com (a personalised signed copy!)

With this post I am two-thirds of my way through my Sew Selfless September pledge. Jess of the Sometimes Sewist  set up Sew Selfless September to encourage us all to sew for others this month. I pledged to make items for three people: my sister-in-law (posted here), my sister (this post), and my boyfriend (which won’t be easy, but I have some ideas – watch this space).