Category Archives: Sewing

Gifts for men – a denim apron

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Finding presents for men can be really difficult, so I thought I’d share this one with you.  Mr D said yesterday that it was his favourite of all the things I’ve made him – and it was probably the easiest to make!

I traced round an old apron to get the shape.  The denim I used was wide, so I cut it out across the width of the fabric and used less than a metre.

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The fun was in adding the details – orange top stitching and rivets.  The neck strap and ties are cotton webbing, left over from his Cooper bag.

I used navy bias binding to turn under the curved edge.  All the other edges are double folded and stitched.

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This was an easy and fun make, and it’s had lots of use already.  Mr D is a keen cook – lucky me!

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Have you any suggestions for manly gifts?  I’d love to hear them – especially as it’s Mr D’s birthday next month!

Supplies:

Cotton webbing – Habercrafts

Rivets – Dale Leathercrafts

There is a free pattern for a similar apron here

My 5 favourite sewing machine feet

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Do you like reading manuals? I certainly don’t, and this is how my new sewing machine feet stayed for about a year – tucked neatly away in their compartments.

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Then I went to an applique workshop and we were asked to bring a darning foot. And it turned out, I had one!

Since then I’ve managed to use a few more, and these are my favourites.

1. Quarter inch foot

The bar runs against the edge of the fabric so the seam is a reliable quarter inch and your patchwork pieces fit together correctly. Much easier than lining up the edge of the fabric with a mark.

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2. Edge foot

Beautiful stitching along the edge of a piece of fabric, especially good for top stitching. If I want two perfect lines of stitching I use the edge foot, then the quarter inch foot – heaven!

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3. Walking foot

The teeth on this foot pull the top of the fabric through in the same way as the feed dog teeth on the machine pull the bottom. If you are sewing several layers of fabric this helps stop them go out of line.  Walking feet look quite big and clumsy, but don’t let this put you off.

4. Open foot

Using this one means you can more easily see where you are stitching. I use it for sewing on the lines when I am foundation piecing patchwork using a paper template

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5. Adjustable zip foot

If I could only choose one foot, it would be this one.  The foot part slides along a bar, which means you can get as close to the edge of the zip as you want to.  Great for invisible and regular zips, and can also be used as a conventional foot if you slide the needle to the middle.

Do you have a favourite sewing machine foot?  Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you.

2017 Make Nine Challenge

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New Year, new challenges – there are so many interesting ideas around, and I’d like to join in with lots of them, but I must be sensible and not over commit!
 
I am going to add one more to my #52weeksofblockprintandstitch though, because I really like the #2017makenine challenge.
 
The nine I’ve chosen to sew this year are a mix of patterns I’ve had for ages, a year old UFO, some which need me to learn new sewing skills and a few for my smallest niece and nephew.
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1. This Burda 6987 coat has been hanging unfinished in my wardrobe for over a year! Top priority.
2. Another Banksia top – I loved the first one I made, but the fabric wasn’t great. I have a beautiful soft chambray for this.
3. Vogue 1395 – one of the many patterns I bought with great enthusiasm, and didn’t make up.
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4. Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers – I haven’t made trousers before, and these have had great reviews. I love the shape.
5. Colette Beignet – bought it, didn’t make it. I have some denim for this and the trousers.
6. DKNY Vogue 2941 – the skirt is a beautiful shape, with a gathered hem. I like the camisole and kimono top too…
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7. I’ve had Girls Style Book for ages, waiting for tiny niece Greta to be big enough for the patterns. There are some beautiful things for summer, including this dress, some bubble shorts, a wrap back top – I like almost all of them.
8. Burda kids 9482 – I want to use up some of the larger knit remnants I have left over from other projects. Hoodies seem ideal, and it’s nice to have a pattern for nephews too.
9. Gigi dress by Olive Ann designs – that bow back! And it comes with a matching pattern for an 18″ doll dress. Perfect.
 
I have masses of other patterns I would like to make, and plenty of fabric to make them, but if I can make these nine I’ll be very happy.

Make & Review – Sew Now magazine

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Have you seen the new sewing magazine Sew Now? I’m not a huge reader of sewing magazines – I tend to only buy them if I want the free pattern – but I really like this one.
 
I counted four projects that I’d like to make straight away, and the first was this Spiderman wallet for my smallest nephew. Perfect to give him with his birthday voucher, and he loved that his present was in a present!
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I love all the details – the zip pocket is so cute.
 
Though I must admit I went for a simpler pocket inside. The instructions are for two side pockets and a card holder.
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The next project I want to make is this gorgeous back pack.
 
My beach bag ‘died’ this summer after 12 years (!) so I’m going to replace it with a backpack using these fabrics.
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So what else is in the magazine?
 
Although I’m more interested in the accessories patterns in this issue, the focus is on fashion sewing. Patterns include the Simple Sew Zoe dress and top pattern, a child’s dress, pencil skirt, knickers, refashioning a dress, and a dress/blouse pattern (and several more).
 
There are some very interesting articles about sewing businesses – Madalynne, Baboosh Designs and Kirsty Hartly (Wild Things to Make).
 
I also enjoyed the pages highlighting current fashion trends with some lovely pattern and fabric recommendations to go with them.
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And there are masses of projects in the accessories supplement.
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I was very impressed with this magazine. I’ve subscribed, and look forward to the next issue.
 
There is a ‘3 issue for £6’ offer at www.practicalsubs.com/1224
 
I was given a review copy of Sew Now via Fiona at The Sewing Directory. All opinions are my own.

Make & Review – Sewing Happiness

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I’ve been making a few projects from Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida this month.  A while ago, I volunteered as a pattern tester and Sanae very kindly sent me a copy when it was published.

As well as a book of projects, Sewing Happiness is part memoir, and account of how Sanae came to sewing.  Like Sanae, I’m a huge fan of enjoying ‘the practice’ and doing something regularly to get better at it.  Without pressure, but also wanting to improve.

Last year I took part in the 100 Day Project.  Every day for 100 days I cooked a new (to me) recipe. And guess what – I got better at cooking.  I’m more confident, more able to substitute ingredients, more willing to give a new technique a go.  Some days were more successful than others, but it was always edible!  Sanae’s experience of sewing sounds very similar.

I also like her take on using social media “There is an overarching sense of terror about creating something that didn’t exist befoe and putting it out into the world for judgment, but when you do it repeatedly, the confidence muscle strengthens”.

I’ve made four of the projects from the book so far.

The fabric origimi butterfly above is for a tooth fairy pillow.  There is a little pocket formed by the wing folds.  It took me a little while to get the folds right, but I’m delighted with the result.  It is so pretty and delicate.

Then I made a fabric bucket to hold bottles in the bathroom.

The blue triangle bag was my tester pattern and is another project that uses origami folds.  I especially like the strip of contrasting fabric used as the handle.  The infinity scarf is made from double gauze – melissa makes made me one as a gift, and I’ve since made several for friends inspired by her use of contrasting fabrics.

It’s unusual for me to try so many ideas from one book.  The projects are straightforward, but have some interesting and unusual techniques too, and they are perfect for showing off special fabric.

Is still want to make some aprons, a dopp kit and try some sashiko.  And surely  there is room for a floral crown in my life?!

If you want to make beautiful presents which don’t take forever, it is a wonderful book to have.

Sewing for tiny niece

2015summerdressGreta-002 I’ve been too busy to do as much sewing for Greta as I’d like, but I thought you’d like to see her in a couple of quick patterns I have managed to make.

It’s also a chance to share this beautiful photo, taken by my sister, Jo. She looks like a little fairy!

The dress is the smocked one I made at the beginning of the summer, here, with a matching pair of shorts from McCalls 5416.

Next is the free halter dress pattern from Prima Magazine, July 2015. 2015summerdressGreta 2015summerdressGreta-001

Doesn’t she look adorable? The fabric is a Tilda quilting cotton, and Jo says it’s a really useful dress. Very quick to make, so a pattern to keep and make again for next summer.

IMG_4323 There is an adult version too – I’m going to try out this for our summer holiday!

Experiments with knits #1 – Colette Mabel skirt

I find sewing with knits very frustrating.  The different weights and stretch properties mean there is a lot to think about when matching pattern to fabric.

But when a knit garment goes well, they are such useful and wearable things to have.  Two of my Mabel skirts are the most-worn things I’ve made since I started sewing.

So I’m going to try to get better at sewing knits!

My plan is to make the same pattern in two (or more) different knit fabrics, and see what I learn.

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The first test subjects are my three Mabel skirts.  They all have the same modification – I omit the back vent to give a more figure hugging line.

The black one – above – is made from scuba knit.  Scuba is a fine, smooth knit, usually made from polyester.  It doesn’t drape particularly well and is often used for body con garments.

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I’m not a fan of artificial fibres so didn’t think I’d like this fabric, but it’s my favourite of the three.  It was very easy to sew, the hem looks nice and stays straight, it doesn’t crease and it looks as good now as when I made it.

The second Mabel I made from a medium weight navy cotton jersey (not pictured).  I loved this one.  It was very soft, with more drape than the scuba.  But it was more difficult to sew, so my hem wasn’t straight, and it pilled badly after a few wears.

And finally, this one, from a small remnant of sweatshirt knit.  The thick fabric means it’s not very flattering (which is why you aren’t seeing it on me!) but it’s so comfortable and cosy.  A skirt to be worn with in winter, at home, with a big jumper, and woolly tights.   I had to sew a deep hem as the narrow hem kept curling up.

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So that’s the end of the first experiment.  Lessons learned – I’m going to be less prejudiced against artificial fibres, and I need to find out how to sew better hems!
I’m not sure what to do about the pilling problem.  It’s annoying to throw away a skirt I like after a few wears.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have.  How do you select knit fabric?