Prym iron cleaner – what a lifesaver 😍

20 Oct

I saw this when browsing the Jaycotts website, and for only £3.25 I figured it was worth a shot rather than binning my iron that has some melted polycotton and interfacing on it. I absolutely LOVE it, so much 😍

I actually bought this a few weeks ago so have now had to use it *three* times (I’m honestly a liability) and I’m maybe 20-25% of the way through it as you can see in the photo below… the first time was really hard so used a lot on its own. I might get 10-15 uses out of it! My only tips are to stick to setting 2 on your iron or it smells bad, and have some tissues underneath to catch any wax that drips off. And use the steam function to clean out any stray wax before using the iron again!

That blinding background is my newish ironing board, it’s a little tabletop one and I had to make a new one after getting lots of melted fabric/interfacing on the old one of these too… I didn’t use a pattern, just some pure cotton batting, this fabric (double sided on the batting) and some elastic to make it fit.

When I move into my next place I’ll buy a nice iron safe in the knowledge that this cheap little block can rescue me from my own disasters!

I wish I’d known about this before! Doesanyone have any tips for any similarly less common but brilliantly useful tools or tip? :)


Silk eye mask

14 Sep

I needed a quick win, so figured I’d make something simple for a boost:)

Years and years ago, long before I got a sewing machine, I had a lovely silk dress from Monsoon (UK) and it was about half a foot too long, so I hemmed it by hand. What a long evening that was..!

I kept the scraps and apparently completely forgot about them. I found them recently and decided it would make a lovely backing for an eye mask :) I lost my last two eye masks in the move, so need a new one! My backup is ok but RTW and a bit too big…

I’ve used the tutorial from the red kitchen, which has a great template (I add a second strap though to go under my ears to keep it in place).

So here it is! Liberty lawn, fleece, and a layer of well washed silk – with some soft lingerie elastic to finish it off. The photo makes it look much brighter than it is…

It is weirdly not as neat as usual but I think contrasting the white thread with the dark blue silk didn’t help – but it’s only for me to see!

The silk does feel so much nicer on my skin and the fleece gives it a nice weight and blocks out the light – perfect!

Mini box cosmetics bag

7 Sep

For my sister’s birthday, she asked for a kit for taking care of her hands and nails.

I got her some nice classic nail varnish shades, strengthening products, creams, and a manicure kit with cuticle tools. And I figured she needed a cute little bag for them to go in!

This is about 4x2x2″ – so cute and dinky! WhatsApp Image 2019-09-07 at 17.26.20

I used the Truly Myrtle box bg tutorial which I’ve used about five times before (first when making a sewing kit to leave with my old sewing machine at my parents’ house for my family to use and a sewing kit for my sister, and two others to keep my fabric scraps in!)

To make this size, I used:

  • Fabric 8″ and 9″
  • An 8″ zip
  • I cut the squares for the corners at 1″ instead of 1.5″ (I’d have made it smaller but I was worried I wouldn’t have been able to turn it inside out through a hole!)

I always find making smaller versions of things harder, as there’s often less space for things like turning it inside out, and it’s easier to accidentally sew extra layers in and then have to unpick it… somehow I avoided that here!

These fabric are from a kimono Fat Quarter set, which I absolutely love – they are soft and wash really well :)

Scrappy bunting!

5 Sep

My sister-in-law asked me for some bunting for the church’s small hall for kids’ parties – a great opportunity to delve into my fabric stash!!


The church hall is 5-6m wide, so I made the bunting about 8m (for the string I took 8 strips of 2″ wide fabric, the width of the fabric, so it’s probably a bit longer than 8m) so it will have a nice amount left over for the drapey look. It took the equivalent of 5 fat quarters plus 8m*5cm for the ‘string’ (I turned it into bias binding).

I love that it’s made with all the leftover fabrics from my previous projects for the family – aprons, hooded towels, beanbags (2), and not for them but my very first sewing project, a purse I gave my mum! It brings back lovely memories of making and giving those gifts as well as being a fun sewing project by itself :)

Then as a little extra gift, I made her a set of reusable cotton wool pads, with a fat quarter by ‘kimono’  (it’s such gooooorgeous fabric) and some leftover fleece. I’ve been using mine for a while and she seemed interested in some, so I hope she likes them! I also made this little envelope pouches to keep/wash them in.


I wouldn’t normally have given her the ‘botched’ ones but here I figured they are fine as ones to use with anything that will stain (i.e. nail varnish remover!)

This was my first sewing project after a rough summer (a break up after 8 years, so I am back living with my parents and less space to sew!) so it was lovely to start with a simple but really satisfying project that will get plenty of use :)

New passport cover

1 Apr

Ten years ago, my mum bought me a pink leather travel set for my first ever trip abroad (New York!). It’s high quality, which meant that even though I am not a fan of pink, I’ve been using it ever since. I was doing a mini clear out and decided that it’s been well used and valued, so since it’s still in great condition I donated it to a charity shop.

And I made myself a new one!

I used the same tutorial as I used for my second ever machine sewing project, back in 2014. The tutorial from Unify handmade does not seem to state the seam allowance – I mentioned in my blog that the pattern pieces they give are far too large, but I actually think I was working with 1/4″ or 1/8″ seams instead of 5/8″ – I now know that 5/8″ is standard, but back then I clearly thought that was excessive! I sewed this up initially with my smaller pattern pieces and a 5/8″ seam, and had to unpick the whole thing. Without that step, I think this would have been completed in less than an hour.

I got this gorgeous fabric from Hobbycraft, it’s a fat quarter set from “Kimono” sold by the craft cotton company. It’s gorgeous and sooo soft. I can’t wait to find a use for the other almost-three fat quarters!

I also had an old luggage tag that had broken, so I took an old fake leather strap and made myself a matching new one :-) I didn’t use a tutorial because all of them seemed to use vinyl (which I didn’t have, and I didn’t want to wait to get some).

I made a pattern template starting from a business card. It seemed sensible to use that, then I can just slot it in and don’t have to worry about a stranger potentially having my keys and address in the same place… I would scan and share the template but I think I made it a little bit too small, so would want to add another 1/8″ in most directions before sharing it!

This was the first time I ever made buttonhole, and I used the one-step button hole on my new ish Singer 4423… I love it! I’ve always been scared of making button holes but this was great. I used the manual and the YouTube video, to make sure it went well, but I was pleasantly surprised :-)

New skills

  • Creating a fairly basic template that requires some maths/thinking of the structure.
  • Making a button hole!

Scrapbusting – reusable “cotton wool pad” substitutes

1 Mar

As I neared the end of my pack of cotton wool pads, which I use for my face cleanser each day and also for Dettol or nail varnish remover occasionally, I started to wonder whether I could make some reusable ones.

I looked on Etsy and saw that there’s loads on sale there, so I figured it would be pretty simple to make some! I had some cotton fabric scraps, and some leftover fleece from making a quilt (which I’ve also used for eye masks). I managed to make fifteen!

I made fifteen…

It was pretty easy

  1. Cut out a 2.5″ circle template (I traced it around the top of a jam jar) and use it it draw circles on your scrap fabric.
  2. Pin the fabric (uncut) to the fleece, keeping the pins within the circle so they won’t get in the way of the scissors – you can also use jersey, Terry cloth, etc, but I had this on hand and it was nice and soft :-)
  3. Cut the circles out, add new pins pointing into the centre, and reposition the original pins to also point into the centre.
  4. Sew around the edges to keep the seams in – overedge stitch, zig zag stitch, or if you have an overlocker that would be ideal…

I couldn’t get my overedge stitch to work – the tension seemed off, the join between top and bottom threads were meeting at the bottom side on the fabric rather than at the edge, and it was a bit loose too. I turned up the tension to 8, from the usual 4, but it didn’t seem to work! It’s ok, zig zag stitch worked ok :-)

They aren’t the neatest but they’ll work! I might not use them for nail varnish remover as that might ruin them, but I’ve already started using them for face cleanser and I’m happy ☺️

Next, I figured I’d need a bag to keep the clean ones and another for the dirty ones. So I used an old tutorial and some scrap fabric and ribbon to make two 17*10cm bags with some scrap fabric.

This is the same fabric I mentioned in my January UFOs post. One of my UFOs was a pencil case made out of this fabric, and I said that I had no idea why I stopped making it when all I had left to do was sew the lining in. Well… I discovered why. This fabric is hell to sew. It is a stretchy, slidey viscose. It used to be a super short skirt (modified from culottes bought on sale) and I loved the fabric.

Great to wear.

Delightful to look at.

A nice wash, not holding creases.

And a complete pain to sew. I have now binned all the remaining bits of this fabric as I simply cannot bear to make anything else with it ever again. It’s a relief to let it go!

Are all viscose fabrics like that?! Should I avoid it in future or are there nicer (easier handle) ones out there?

Starting my 2019 “Make Nine”

17 Feb

At the very start of the year I went through my clothes patterns to think about why I haven’t used most of them yet, and to plan whether and how to use them this year. I picked out nine that I wanted to try to use this year – inadvertently setting my own Make Nine challenge! I think that it was started by Lucky Lucille setting herself the challenge back in 2015. Here was mine, with the first one completed today!


I really loved having this little square (/rectangle) of projects to choose from! I was a little worried that I would feel stressed to do it since I “commited”, but actually, having the list just meant I reserved some time for myself instead of trying to find more things to make for others!

So… onto my making this dress!

I got this pattern from a charity shop (in Halstead, Essex) for just £1! I felt very lucky. And the black fabric is a cotton crepe from a shop on Goldhawk Road in London (the one nearest the market, but I can’t remember it’s name…maybe A-one?), just £10 for 2.5 yards! Plenty for a dress ☺️


For the first time, I paid close attention to what fabric the pattern recommended. The two times I made dresses previously, my lack of planning had mixed results – the basic stretch cotton worked well on my New Look 6495, but I think the New Look 6431 needed a fabric with much more drape. The pattern calls for “medium weight knits and wovens”, and I thought this black crepe would work perfectly for View B.


Yes, I am actually that pale…! It’s a shame you can’t see the pattern on the fabric from here, but it makes a simple black dress look so nice. I am not a big fan of this neckline, it looks like it’s trying to be a bit of a halter neck.

Unfortunately, like with my previous two dresses, I still couldn’t get the back to fit nicely. I am pleased with waist/hip fit at the front though!

I spent two Saturdays sewing (last weekend and this weekend), I had the zip in and ready to try on. I’d worked hard, for the first time, to make sure that the inside was neat and that the very, very fraying fabric would not come undone in the wash. I even bought an overcast foot and found out that my sewing machine (Singer 4423) has an overcast stitch!!

I still haven’t decided whether I prefer the overcast stitch or the zig zag for enclosing seams. The overcast stitch looks neater but I’m struggling to believe it will hold in the wash. Time will tell, I guess! Do you have any tips for how to use the overcast foot and stitch?

Even if I don’t use it with the overcast stitch, the overcast foot makes zig zag edging SO MUCH neater – I’m not going back!

So, I now had a nice, neat dress, just waiting to be hemmed and pressed. And it was not good.

The waist was too big.

The shoulders were falling off.

The chest was gaping SO much.

There was a LOT of bunching at the back.

I didn’t understand, as I’d thought carefully about the sizing. With my measurements (B 37, W 32, H 45), my bust was at the bottom end of M, waist in the middle of L, and hips at the lower end of XL. I don’t mind a closely fitting hip so went for a M bodice, and the skirt was a M at the top but graded to a L a few inches down.

So, I made some changes.

First I took 2.5″ out of each side at the neck back, with two darts reaching down to meet the original darts that reach up from the waist (if that makes sense?). I also took another 1″ out from each side at the waist.

The waist fit a bit better, but the neck seemed too squeezed, and the back started gaping. Forget the neatness of darts (I think it was at this point that I declared to my boyfriend that this dress shall henceforth be known as a wearable muslin…), I reduced the dart at the neck to about 1.5″, increased the waist reduction to 1.5″ (so it was less a dart and now just taking out a chunk, I guess a bit like a princess seam), and took out 2″ from the in between bits (all from each side, so 3″, 3″, and 4″ overall).

I think it now looks nice from the front – not perfect, but nice enough to wear out… If I have a cardigan hiding the back. Plus I’m not a big fan of the sleeves – they are much bigger than I thought they would be.

What do you do if the front fits well, but the back is far too large throughout?

I thought an FBA could be the answer to my problems but when I tried it on the New Look 6431 pattern (which I didn’t write about on this blog because it went so badly) it just didn’t seem to work. As I seemed to fit this pattern’s stated measurements well I thought I’d be safe but clearly this will haunt me if I don’t sort it out before I try another dress or top…

So I am happy with it, especially as this fabric is so comfy to wear, and think I’ll wear it when I’m out and about but not to work or “out out”. I am really proud of how neat I made the insides, and that I learned a few things:

  • How to insert sleeves, including ease gathering.
  • How to use an overcast stitch and an overcast foot.
  • How to make a double lapped zipper (this might not be the right name? There’s two vertical flaps which open in the middle to reveal the zip).
  • I learned how to do a machine blind hem – in future I might try to hand sew it, but by the time I got there I had decided it was a wearable muslin so was much less bothered about the finish.

I’m looking forward to getting on with the rest of my nine items for 2019!

Maybe I should think about attending a sewing fitting class? Has anyone attended one and found it useful?