Ideas for a wintry woven fabric

29 Sep

I can’t properly remember where I got this – it was either Goldhawk road in London or Abakhan in Manchester.


It’s woven, I’d say medium-heavy and super soft/cosy feeling. Plus I love the colour and design! My only problem is knowing what to do with it. If it were a knit, I think it’d make a lovely Christmas jumper or skirt (as much as the matching would be stressful!!) But as a woven I am not so sure what to do with it.

It’s 60″ wide, and I have about 1.5 yards.

I thought about making a cardigan, which may be more forgiving with it being a woven, and also have fewer places for matching? I initially liked the look of view B of New Look 6397, but the reviews say it comes up large and I already thought it looked a bit blocky (huge sleeves!)6397.jpg

I think some of the leftovers from whatever I make will be really good for a hot water bottle cover, but I just can’t work out what to use it for! I would love to find a garment for it, as it feels so nice it would be a shame not to use it for that, but  I guess anything snuggly would be nice if I can’t find anything – some pillows, maybe.


I’ve had this in my stash for two years now, so I am hoping this will be the year I actually use it!! I’d love any ideas you have :-)


New sewing machine – Singer 4423 (heavy duty)

26 Sep

I got myself a new sewing machine last month. I am still a fairly light sewer but I had a few reasons for wanting a new machine.


First, I had been thinking for a while about buying a second, cheaper machine to leave at my parents’ house so that my parents and my sister in law (who lives bearby) can use it, and I can have one for when I am home for Christmas etc. since I don’t drive. But, I figured rather than spending money on a cheap and low quality new one for that purpose, maybe I could buy a new one for ME and retire my Singer Tradition 2250 into that role?

Second, even though my Singer 2250 still works ok, I got it five years ago when I didn’t want to spend too much as I wanted to see if I liked sewing. After five years, it’s fair to say this hobby is worth the money! So I feel I can justify a machine with a few more features, like:

  • A top-loaded bobbin (it’s so good to be able to see the bobbin emptying!)
  • A sturdier construction – my old one bounced about the table so much things would fall off the table in the vibrations.
  • Three needle positions
  • Space for a second spool of thread
  • A bunch of stretch stitches
  • One step button hole
  • Super fast stitching for using the zig zag stitch to enclose seams

None of these are drastic, but together make for a more pleasant experience!

And finally, I had a tough month with stress, illness, and bereavement, so felt an urge to splurge on something to cheer me up a bit!

I found that learning to use my singer 4423 helped to keep my mind off everything that was going on, and meant I got lots of birthday presents sewn up!

I got an ex-showroom model from so it only ended up costing about £200, and I am so happy! 😊

How did you decide when to upgrade, and what were your main desires in your upgrade machine? I am fully aware that this will not be my final machine purchase…


Peg holder

9 Sep

My sister in law asked me for a peg holder for her birthday. I had bought this fabric a while back without a clear idea for it, it’s a light upholstery style fabric but frays a lot!


Here’s how I made it:

  • I bought a wooden adult-sized hanger, and drew around it onto a piece of paper.
  • I added 2.5cm of seam allowance, and 35cm in length.
  • I cut out one piece of fabric exactly like the drawn shape, and another 10cm longer.
  • Cut the longer piece horizontally a little bit below the bottom of the hanger – a bit above halfway up the hanger. If the fabric isn’t very rigid, add some interfacing here. Then along the edge I just cut, enclose the two new raw edges using double-folded hems (as narrow as you can deal with).
  • Also add double-folded hems to the top (where the metal bit of the hanger goes).
  • Then I sewed together the three pieces, slightly overlapping the two front pieces.
  • It was gaping a little, so I added a couple of poppers at the opening, about 6cm in from the two sides. I have no idea why poppers are so hard to undo but I figure it is only necessary infrequently when wanting to wash it.

And it’s done!

Silk pillowcases and a liberty eye mask

8 Sep

For my sister’s birthday, I made her a couple of silk pillowcases using two pieces of 150*50cm purple silk and some matching invisible 50cm zips.


I love silk pillowcases – I bought one last year, then sewed one for my boyfriend, and the silk (from Goldhawk Road) actually feels nicer than the one I bought ready made!

I decided to add on an eye mask, using the tutorial from the red kitchen, but:

  • I used three klayer: liberty cotton, a black polycotton layer inside to block more light, and a fleece layer.
  • I added a second strap to go under the ears to help it stay on in the nught.
  • I added a second line of topstitching.

I do struggle to work out the logistics of the pillowcase, I put the zip in first on the short ends of the 150*50cm pieces, then use french seams on the other two edges – but the ends of the zips are always a little messy. Hmm. Any tips are very welcome! I also panic because the silk frays so much.

I’ll be giving it to her tomorrow, fingers crossed she likes them :-)

Doorway puppet theatre!

5 Sep

I made this doorway puppet theatre as a joint gift for my niece (2) and nephew (4). They already have a few hand puppets so I hope they will enjoy playing with this!

I used the tutorial from Crafty Cupboard but published on Skip To My Lou. I thought it looked so good that I stuck as closely to the original design as I could – unfortunately a little while ago I gave away a couple of fat quarters of a very similar to the red curtains, but I recently bought this black crepe with a nice subtle textured pattern that is a nice substitute. All the fabric is from Goldhawk Road, and the trimmings are from eBay. My only changes were that I used lots of velcro. First I made the curtain ties velcro.

I then made the stripy fabric much longer than the trialtut suggests (using the full yard I bought). Then I added a strip of the rough side of velcro close to the hem. I added a strip of the soft side of velcro just under the stage opening, and another two evenly spaced between that and the bottom (about 13″ spaces) so that the kids can choose which height they want it at. This is on the middle soft strip of velcro. At full length the whole thing is almost the full height of a doorway.

I really hope they enjoy it! It was very fiddly to make and with all the stripes and dots my eyes struggled a bit at the start when measuring, but it was all ok once I started doing hems and seams.

Now to see if I can find some hand puppet tutorials – recommendations welcome :-)

Dinosaur tails!

15 Aug

As I mentioned in my last post, I need to start nice and early to get all my September sewing done! I took part in Selfless September a few years ago but since four close relatives have birthdays in the first two weeks of September, I tend to dedicate August to them instead now!

I set aside most of Saturday to make these dinosaur tails for my nephew’s birthday. I love them so much… I considered only making one but his sister or friends will surely want to join in the fun 😊

I love the almost-neon green that I found

I used the tutorial from Running with Scissors, which is brilliantly explained. I made some minor changes:

  • I wanted them to be washable, so in each colour I made one additional version without the spikes and waist strap, and filled that one with the stuffing and sewed it closed. Then I made the one with spikes and straps but added a zip to the bottom seam before I sewed the two (almost)triangular pieces together along the long edges – and put the stuffed tail inside this tail cover. I think I only had 6-8″ zips in my stash but that worked fine since you can stuff the inside one in.
  • I added some medium weight interfacing to the spikes as my fabric was thin. I considered stuffing them but decided it would make sewing it all together more difficult than I felt like dealing with, maybe next time.
  • I am terrible at accuracy, so to give myself a fighting chance I made a “pattern” for both the almost-triangular shapes and the scales (and used bowls for the circles). Now I can make more whenever I need to!

As usual this fabric (and interfacing) is from Goldhawk Road – Universal Textiles (one of the first on the left hand side coming up from Shepherd’s Bush station) had lots of bright polycotton for £2/metre! I already had the stuffing at home – I bought 1kg online ages ago not realising that that is a LOT of stuffing!!

I really enjoyed making these, they were so much fun and I realised my thighs are about the same size as my nephew’s waist and so had lots of fun playing with them myself….

Two down, four more gifts to go!

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!!