Tag Archives: sewing

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!


A new spring dress (and I’ve already worn it out!)

29 Apr

I made another dress! I got this fabric from Goldhawk Road (like most of my fabrics), for about £5/metre  as a cheap way to practice sewing with knits (I think I needed two metres, but there seems to be about half a metre left over). Thankfully I already had stretch machine needles left over from hemming a knit dress for my mum years ago. I got New Look 6495 for galf price from Hobbycraft :D

I was keen to put this one together as I cut out the fabric ages ago, and since my last dress (New Look 6431) showed some fit issues with a woven, I thought it’d be good to get a knit done so I can have one of each done without adjustments before moving on to FBAs etc. It took me about 8 hours to put this together, after having cut the fabric out ages ago – but I am a slow sewer and also had to unstitch one armhole and half the zip!


It fits a lot better than the woven – but it’s a smaller top (12) in a knit so the better fit makes sense! The skirt was a 16. I’ve always needed my skirts 1-3 sizes larger than my tops, so well-fitting dresses are hard to come by, so I am quite happy with the fit of this one as a starting point.

I wore this out for breakfast/brunch today, and can definitely see myself wearing it out again (but with a cardigan to hide the imperfect back). I do need to improve my finishing:

  1. The neckline and armholes aren’t sitting flat. Maybe the top is still one size too big, and needs a small FBA? The neckline facing worked well on my last dress but that made closing/adding the zip at the back really messy/difficult. So I’m not sure what to do except practice and go slow, but I think trying an FBA on a cheap fabric is worth a shot.
  2. The back pieces (two bodice and skirt) don’t line up, by as much as 2cm. There was about 1cm of shift in the last dress too. I can match up pieces/notches fine but things move around when I put the zip in. That said, the invisible zip itself is fine thanks to this guide from ByHandLondon.
  3. My zips are messy both at the top and bottom – I hand stitched at the bottom as I couldn’t get the sewing machine to do the first inch! The top of my last dress zip was also very messy. Maybe I need practice?

This was an easy make, and I will definitely make it again! Mostly, I am enjoying working out how to make dresses and I’m really looking forward to making them fit. But for now, I have a few other mini projects: an ereader cover, a bag holder, a tote bag, a RTW dress adjustment, and some pot holders. It’s great having my machine back :D

I finally made my first dress!

14 Apr

Having bought my sewing machine around five years ago, I’ve finally made my first dress! :-)

I got this lovely red cotton, with lots of tiny white stars, from Goldhawk Road. I knew I wanted to use it for a red skirt on a dress, with a black top. So, when I saw New Look 6431 I thought view B could be just right for letting the black and red balance each other out. I think it widths well!

I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, but it was even more of a challenge than I had been expecting!

The neckline pleats and interfacing proved trickier than I thought they would be, logistically, but they turned out quite nicely.

Getting the neckline interfacing done was a bit tricky, and I did it wrong a couple of times, but eventually I followed the guide at Tilly and the Buttons and I was really happy when it eventually worked and sits flat.

Then I had to deal with the armhole bias binding – I had no idea what I was doing and the pattern was confusing, as I mentioned in my previous post and seesawyer helped me out by commenting with the answer! For the future I found this tutorial with pictures.

Attaching the skirt was easy peasy, so no problems there! Hemming it at the end was also fine, except at that point suddenly my machine decided that it needed a higher tension – I had been using 3.5 all throughout, but now it needed 6…

Adding the zip was pretty difficult! I was worried as soon as I saw that the pattern needed a normal, not an invisible, zip. The guide by Nancy Zieman guide was super helpful. Nonetheless, I had a couple of problems – first my lap wasn’t wide enough to cover the zipper pull at the top. Then, the LHS of the dress/top was longer, so it went about 3/8″ longer than the RHS, so I had to try and shorten that before attaching the hook. I think this will be something for me to work on more in future – hopefully it gets easier with practice!

Overall, I am happy but will have to sort out some sizing issues before it is wearable. You can see here that the top is far too large in the back, and it is also too large in the waist (my waist-hip ratio is high, so I find tops have to be well-fitted for an overall outfit to be flattering). I chose a size 16 top, with a size 18 skirt, but I think that maybe I should have chosen a smaller size top and did a full bust adjustment (I guess patterns aren’t made for an E as standard!).

Next time I will definitely look at doing an FBA, but for now, I want to work out how to sort out this one so the top is slightly more flattering – then I can actually wear it out :)

I really enjoyed doing this – it was hard at times, especially when my sewing machine broke for a couple of months, but I am so keen to work out the FBA for future dresses, hopefully I can get a really nice fit eventually!

Trying to understand bias armhole instructions… 

7 Apr

I am so confused! 

In terms of clothes, I have only previously made the Collette sorbetto top. I posted about it, and was convinced that the damp fabric was the problem so I made another, with homemade bias binding, and the fit still wasn’t for me. Nonetheless, I now have two comfy pajama tops and learned how to do visible binding on necklines and arm holes, so I’ll take that as a positive learning experience :-)

But now a Simplicity pattern has me completely stumped. 

I already had to go elsewhere for help on how to do a neckline with interfacing – tutorial from Tilly here. Having finally worked out the logistics of the neckline, my sewing machine gave up and stopped sewing properly (loops underneath, skipping threads, breaking threads) so I packed it away. Now, two months later, I have given the machine a clean and oil and I’ve finished the neckline (yay! Another technique learned) but have the arm holes to contend with now….

“Open out one edge of single fold bias tape. With RIGHT sides together, pin tape to armhole edge having crease 3/8″  from raw edge, turning under and lapping one end at side seam. Stitch. LAYER seam.

UNDERSTITCH tape. Turn tape to INSIDE; press. Baste close to inner edge. On OUTSIDE, top-stitch as basted.”

I think the bit I need help with is that in bold. I have tried to find tutorials online that use similar words so I can be sure that I’m doing the right thing but no luck. I don’t *think* the bias binding is supposed to be visible….

If you know a good tutorial you can point me to, I’d be very grateful! I’m looking forward to eventually finishing making this item but I keep getting lost :-(

Pot holders

6 Jan

My sister got a slow cooker / crock pot for Christmas, so before she headed back to the new university term I decided to quickly make some convenient pot holders for carrying the ceramic pot to the dinner table.

I used this fun red cotton I got from Goldhawk Road in London (about 3m for £20), with a plain black cotton and insul-bright inside.

I didn’t use a pattern and just measured around my hands – so I used rectangles of fabric about 6″ wide and 17″ long. I might change it slightly if I make any more, maybe 7″ by 14″. I made two for my mum too!

Quilted pencil case

15 Sep

My sister asked for a pencil case with a flat-ish design so it doesn’t take up too much space in her bag, for when she goes into her final year of university soon. It was for her birthday so I also got sone cute simple earrings and a cross stitch magazine which comes with several kits for Christmas cards and decorations – she is keen to get into crafts and I thought this would be a good introduction.

Anyway, about the pencil case!

I got this lovely Liberty Tana Lawn “Betsy”, with a darker fabric on the inside so it will better absorb pen/pencil mess. I used the tutorial for a coin purse from sew me happy, but with 10×10″ pieces of fabric and a ~12″ zip.

The zip looks way more wonky in this photo than it actually is!

I decided to use fusible wadding, as I felt a pencil case could use more structure/support than normal interfacing would give. I then quilted 1.5″ squares on both the outer and lining fabrics before continuing with the tutorial. Awkwardly I could only find my bobbin spool of lilac fabric, so had to use that as the main/top thread and a different colour (I chose white) for the bottom/bobbin. Hopefully it’ll never be visible!

I am really happy with it!

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.