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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!
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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?

First project of 2019 – starting small with a cushion cover :-)

3 Feb

After organising my stash, I could see all my fabrics and easily pick a project – and found two fabrics that I thought would go really well together for this lovely cushion cover.

I got this owl fabric from The Works, £3 for 0.5 yards. It’s quite thick and rough, almost like a potato sack, but was listed as 100% cotton so I think I bought it for oven gloves. But I think it makes a lovely cushion! I got the backing cotton from the remnants pile at John Lewis, it was about a fat quarter and a lovely colour so I am so glad I found a way to use it so it could be displayed in my flat :-)

I used the tutorial from Little Black Duck, which I used to make my sister’s Christmas present. My boyfriend has decided it is perfect for his desk chair, and he works from home a lot so it’ll get lots of use!

Update on the clear out – all my fabric in one small box. Next up – UFOs!

20 Jan

I can now fit all my fabric stash into a single 32l box!

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I have arranged it by:

  • Wide section (in left and right photos): pieces of fabric about 1 yard or longer, arranged by colour and facing up.
  • Narrow section (in left photo): pieces of fabric about 1 fat quarter, arranged by colour.
  • Narrow section (in right photo): any potentially useful scraps, in two box bags – blues and blacks in one, red pink and whites in the other.

Now my fabrics are all in one place, and organised by size and colour! I already feel like I can go into future projects without spending so long on finding fabrics. 😊😊😊

For the scraps I made two new box bags using the tutorial from Truly Myrtle. I made them 7.5″ long and 4″ tall and wide. This used up four fat quarters from the pile too 😊

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I also put together a pile of “pretty” or “interesting” small scraps, which I will cut around with the pinking shears to give some shaped fabrics (that won’t fray) for my niece and nephew to use in gluing with paper glitter stickers etc.

I did give a few bits to the charity shop, which I bought with something in mind (e.g. for when my niece and nephew were babies) but either didn’t get around to making or didn’t use up all the fabric on whatever I made. I had also held onto a grocryg bag worth of scraps that I definitely won’t use, so they are going to the local fabric recycling (to make insulation etc).

This felt like a huge step! It’s a weight off my mind to know I now only have the fabric I love and that I can find it all easily.

Here is what else I have done in organising my sewing stuff:

  • Allocated one box for patterns.
  • Assisted one box for measuring, marking, and cutting tools. It also contains my sewing machine tools.
  • One bag contains all fasteners (zips etc) and ribbons.
  • One bag contains all interfacing and wadding.
  • I’ve got rid of my old sewing box, giving it to a charity shop. It’s small and anything I kept in there was split with being kept somewhere else, which was inefficient. I got it from eBay for £2.50 in 2010 so it’s done it’s time! It’s still in excellent condition so someone else can love it now.
  • Organised my threads. They don’t yet fit into one box but I am closer than I was :-)

Next up is to tackle my UFOs… So I won’t be taking any new fabrics out of that box for a while. Wish me luck…!

Mini drawstring backpack

5 Aug

I have four family members with birthdays in the first two weeks of September… I have finally learned to start my sewing before the last weekend in August! Here’s the first item: a small backpack for my niece (this is the view of the back to show off the eyelets)

This is about 12″ tall – I think it’s the right size for a two year old!

I tried to use the same Hobbycraft tutorial as I used when I made my nephew’s elephant print backpack a couple of years ago.

Warning: that is a very difficult to follow tutorial. As I’d done it once before I thought I’d be ok but it took me three times as long as it should have because I kept unpicking it and redoing it. I eventually stopped following it and decided to record my method here. I maybe didn’t take enough photos to call it a tutorial, but here goes..!

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of outside fabric, 12*14″ each
  • 2 pieces of inside fabric, 12*14″ each
  • 2 pieces of coordinating 4mm or 6mm cord, 1m each
  • 2 eyelets, ideally 8mm but 11mm will do
  • Coordinating thread, a needle for thick material (I used size 100), a hammer, a safety pin.

If you want a bigger bag, you should also get longer cord.

Sew, with right sides together, the bottom (short edge) of your two outside pieces of fabric together – I use a 1/4″ seam allowance. This will give you one piece of fabric that is 12*27.5″. Then do the same with your inside pieces. Press seams flat.

Place the two 12*27.5″ pieces of fabric together, right sides together. Pin along the long edges, matching the centres up as in the photo below. Now sew along the two long edges (again I use 1/4″ seams) but do not sew along the short edges. Then turn this tube inside out and press the side seams.

Line up the centres/bottoms of the inside and outside fabrics before pinning (it’s folder over here to demonstrate the two long edges in one photo)

Now, we create the channel for the drawstring cord. Place the fabric with the lining fabric facing up, and fold/press one of the short edges over 1/4″, as in the photo below.

Fold over the outside fabric onto the inside fabric by about 1/4″ and press.

Then fold it over another 1″, press and pin.

Now you have to sew the bottom of this fold over, fairly close to the edge so you leave a nice spacious channel for the drawstring to go in later. This stitching will be visible on the outside of the bag so go carefully – and in the photo below, you want to measure the distance from the right (open) edge as this is what matters when looking from the outside – I tried to sew at 7/8″ all the way down.

Sew a 7/8″ channel for the drawstring

And do the same at the other end, it should be the same size – once you pin it, and before you sew it, fold it over and check against the other end.

I forgot to get a photo of the next bit, sorry, but now is when you sew up the final open edges. Now, you want to fold the tube in half so the two drawstring channels meet each other, it should now look like your bag is inside out but the long sides need to be sewn up.

Pin the long edges – these edges will be visible inside the bag, so try to pin it neatly. When you sew it, make sure your stitch starts *just* below the drawstring channel and goes all the way to the bottom to create the bottom corner of your bag. I again tried a 1/4″ seam. Do this along both sides, and turn it inside out and push out the corners. It should now look recognisable as a bag!

Now to put the bag straps through the drawstring channels.

Using a safety pin makes it much easier to thread the drawstring

Next, push the safety pin through one end of the drawstring cord, and thread it through one drawstring channel (e.g. left to right at the back of the bag) then when it comes out the other end, thread it through the other drawstring channel (e.g. right to left at the front of the bag). I’ve tried to show this in the picture below – one cord is the green line, one is the blue.

Now for the really fun bit – putting the eyelets in! The hole should be about an inch diagonally from the corner of the bag, at the back – the eyelet goes through the back outer and lining layers, but you shouldn’t see it from the front.

I recommend looking at the instructions for whichever ones you have, I used Prym 11mm and they have nice YouTube videos that are really helpful.

Then you just have to thread your cord through the eyelets, tie a knot in the end (adding bead spacers if you are worried it might squeeze through the eyelet). And you’re done!!

E-reader case (kobo/kindle)

17 May

After I made my own kindle case (back in 2014!), a friend liked the design – it has a great little pocket you can protect your Kindle in when you’re not using it, or that you can use to hold your train ticket like I do… So, she asked if I’d make a case for her e-reader. She even bought the fat quarter and had it mailed to me, and it still took me three years to get around to making it – and maybe an hour to make once I started! I’ve never sewn anything for anyone outside of my family, so I think I was very nervous about giving over my handiwork to someone to judge!

I quilted the outside cover/interfacing before I sewed all the layers together. I decided to quilt it in only one direction – I wasn’t sure if it would clash with the swirls too much but I like it! I am glad because I didn’t have the energy to try to follow the swirls, it was straight lines or nothing…

She has a kobo glo, not a Kindle, but I figured it’d be easy to change the measurements. As it is, I only had to reduce the height by 3/8 of an inch (so where the tutorial says 8 inches I used 7 5/8 inches). You can see the difference below with my kindle in the case.

Other than the size adjustment and a bit of quilting, I followed the tutorial from Whip Stitch exactly – the instructions are so clear. The only difficulty was recognising the need to adjust the thread tension when sewing more/fewer layers.

I really enjoyed making this, and think I might even make myself a new one! I used an old spool and bobbin of thread and was gutted to run out of bobbin thread an inch from the very end! Aaargh!

I find that once I’ve found a tutorial that works for me, I tend to reuse it. Here’s a quick list of my other favourite tutorials worth remembering!

Kids’ name bunting

8 Sep

This month my niece and nephew have their birthdays, and their mum asked me to make them some bunting with their names on.

As it had to fit on their door I only had about 36″ length to work with – for 9 letters!

For each set I needed:

  • 18 triangles 4″ tall and 3.5″ wide – 10 in one fabric and 8 in a coordinating fabric e.g. light and medium pink
  • A 7″ square of one of the triangle fabrics to make bias binding for the bunting string
  • About 2″ by 12″ of whichever fabric you want the letters in
  • About 2″ by 12″ of a contrasting fabric (e.g. dark pink) to use to make the outline on the letters
  • Pinking shears
  • Matching thread (light-medium)
  • Fabric glue and/or paper-backed fusible interfacing
  • Letters to trace
  • Craft knife and cutting mat

I had most of these fabrics in my stash, except the lighter letter fabrics which I got from the market in Durham.

First, I cut out the triangles using a rotary cutter, and sewed each pair together up the diagonal ends about 5mm from the edge. Then I trimmed the diagonal edges with the pinking shears. Since the width of the bunting was limited, I wanted to make the most of the space, and so this worked better than having seams on the inside, and it sits flatter.

Then, I had to cut out the letters. I used the Microsoft font Impact, in bold with a black outline and coloured in white, in about size 200. I was going to print it off and cut out the letters, to trace onto the fabric but then I realised: I recently bought a tablet, so I could trace the letters off that! It worked perfectly, as it is backlit it is really easy to see the outlines of the letters. I downloaded an app called Touch Lock (on Android) to make sure that I didn’t move the screen or zoom in etc while tracing. Important to remember when tracing: you might need to reverse/mirror the letters (I did, writing on the paper side).

I traced the letters onto the paper-backed webbing, ironed them onto the fabric, and cut the letters out using a craft knife. Then, I ironed the letters onto right side of the darker / contrast fabric, and ironed paper-backed webbing onto the wrong side of the darker / contrast fabric. Then, I cut out the letters in the contrast fabric close to the original letters, to give a nice outline. I then ironed the letters onto the triangles.

Next, I had to make the bias binding. I used the technique from So-sew-easy, using a 7″ square of fabric. I pinned the triangles into the binding and sewed one line down the bias binding close to the open edge.

I should have used the fabrics on the blue one differently -the navy polka dot triangles should have been swapped with the medium blue pattern outlining the letters, which would have helped the letters to stand out more – it is more readable in real life though so I am happy.

Also, when making the blue one the paper-backed webbing just wouldn’t stick. So instead of freaking out I bought fabric glue and I think it’s great! As I wasn’t intending to sew around the edges of these, the glue is better as it is stronger, especially if kids play with it and lead to it needing to go in the washing machine – I have no idea how the interfacing would hold up in the wash.