Peg bags

Although I consider myself to be a feminist and fully intend on continuing to bring my son up to believe that women can do anything that a man can do (if not better!), I find some strange personal satisfaction when I can hang out my washing on a lovely breezy summer’s day, watching it all blowing in the wind!

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I love my garden which is bright and cheerful.  Yes, i’ve made pretty bunting to cover fences and there are matching seat covers with parasol trims, so I thought why not pretty up my peg bag. I don’t think its just me either!  All the homestyle magazines keep re-iterating using the garden as another room, a mere extension to you indoor living space. Well, my indoor living space consists of pretty cushions, bunting, Cath Kidston tablecloths, amongst other items, so why not extend out to my garden?

I’m sure I’m not just the only one too! I’m just starting getting into the world of craft markets and have found that peg bags are one of my best sellers. I get people actively searching for the type of old fashioned fabric peg bags that perhaps reminds them of their childhood with favourite granny’s and other nostalgic memories.

My peg bags are a showcase for both pretty and floral stashes of fabric plus a bit more of an adventurous fabric in a retro style. I picked up a delightful one from my local fabric shop; Cottonpatch, which is part of a cat range and consists of cat food tins.  Purrfect!

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Peg bags are both useful and functional. If you enjoy your garden why have a boring bland green peg bag that everywhere sells, when you could have a handmade object in your choice of fabric to brighten up your washing line.

Peg bags can also be made out of old clothes – kids clothes, especially girls dresses work really well and can be adapted quite easily.  There’s an upcycling project for you!

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To start with you need to cut out a paper peg bag template.  My template measures 30cm across and 45cm vertically.  You can adjust your template to make it smaller or bigger – it’s entirely up to you!

Next, choose your chosen fabric and cut out one template.  This is going to be the back of the bag.  You could choose to have a different colour/pattern back to front or keep them the same.

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Secondly, you need to cut out the front of the peg bag.  This will come in 2 parts as you need to leave a gap for the pegs!  Following my template you need to cut out the top of the bag.  Mine measures 30cm across and 18cm down from the point of the top, so you are left with a sort of a triangle shape.  Next,, cut out the bottom of the front section, this roughly measures 24cm down and 30cm across.

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Next you need to bind the bottom edge of the front top and the front edge of the front bottom section.  You can choose matching binding or something contrasting for fun!  When you have bound the edges, Place the 2 parts right side together and pin. Measure 7cm from either side (I mark with a fabric pen) and sew from the edge to the 7cm mark.  Do this on both sides and you will be left with a nice gap big enough to put pegs through.

Next, with right sides together, sew around the whole of the peg bag, ensuring that you leave a small gap at the very top where the coat hanger is going to poke out of.  I find marking this gap with pins reminds me not to sew completely all the way round.

Turn the peg bag the right way round and finish off by adding a strip of binding or ribbon to the bottom of the peg bag.  Insert your hanger and hey presto, you have a unique peg bag!

You can find all these peg bags on my Etsy shop.  I also provide custom order service  so if you fancy a particular fabric or style and colour, then just get in touch with me.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Lizzyshomemade


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Hopeful for the sun!

I was thinking one day  with a cup of tea in my hand, of what other items I could make with my fabric remnants, apart from pincushions! (I always like making those!) and came up with the bright idea of making a few more sunglasses holders.  Last year I did actually make a Lovehearts sunglasses holder.  I ordered a beautiful 2 metres of this fabric and made myself a skirt with it and with what was left over, I also made my first sunglasses holder.  Not buying more of this fabric was a mistake as it went out of stock and I can’t find it anywhere else!

Anyway, back to making sunglasses holders!  I really enjoy making these as they are not too tricky to make and you can have a lovely finished result quite quickly.  They also look quirky and stand out a mile from the plastic boring solid colour ones!

Firstly you need some lovely fabric for the outside, a lining fabric and also a fairly thick wadding which will sandwich the 2 fabrics together and also give the case more stability and better padding. If you can obtain fusible wadding then all the better, but if not, don’t worry!

I use  a rectangular template which measures approx. 19 x 10 cm.  You will need to slightly curve one corner to given a rounded more professional appearance too.  However, if you have super fashionable large sunglasses, you will need to re-measure and make yourself a larger template. Similary, if you wish to make a case for a child’s glasses, then you will need a smaller template.

Firstly, cut out your outer fabric, lining and wadding. You should end up with a fabric sandwich of 3 layers; the lining fabric right way up on the bottom, the wadding in the middle and finally the outside fabric wrong side down on top.

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Pin all layers together, leaving a couple of inches gap in the middle of one of the sides.  (You can see this indicated by the 2 large pins at the bottom of the picture).  You will need this gap as the fabric needs to be turned out). Machine stitch all the way round (minus the gap!). Cut off any excess wadding and clip the corners.  Then turn out so the right side of the fabric is now visible.  Iron  all the square layers to make it easier and flatter to sew.

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The next step is to handsew the gap that you turned the fabric in from.  Once you have finished that, proceed to sew a topstitch all the way around again with the outer fabric facing you.

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When that is complete, fold the square in half and start stitching the open side about 2 inches from the curved top, leaving enough room to put your sunglasses easily in and out.  Sew to the end.

You shoukd have a lovely sunglasses case just like mine, which are available to purchase in my Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/510562797/sunglasses-fabric-holders?ref=shop_home_active_1

Enjoy!

St. Valentine’s Day

So, we have nearly arrived at St. Valentine’s day, where the shops sell cheesy items that you just don’t need and your recipient mostly doesn’t want!  The price of a bunch of roses increases at least twofold and restaurants are full of young romantics, looking forward to staring into each others eyes over a bottle of Prosecco!

Do I sound cynical? I’m not really.  It’s just hard to do all that when you have an 8 year old with no babysitters available on that special evening.  Tuesday 14th February is cubs night anyway and he’s no intention of missing that!  The best me and my hubbie can come up with is a M&S meal (no cooking for either and minimal washing up!) after we drop him off then a bottle of fizz after we collect him and bedtime is over.  Not very romantic for some but not too bad for us either.  I get a break from cooking and we get to enjoy a dinner in peace without being interrupted about Lego!

So, where does St. Valentine’s Day originate from?  Is it just an American thing that has now turned commercial and merely a money spinning opportunity?

untitledApparently, the saint officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church was a real person who died around AD 270.

The story goes that during the reign of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in several bloody campaigns. Claudius found it tough to get soldiers and felt the reason was men did not join army because they did not wish to leave their wives and families.

As a result Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. However, a romantic priest called Saint Valentine defied Claudius’s order and married couples in secret.  How splendid!

Unfortunately, when his defiance was discovered, Valentine was brutally beaten and put to death on February 14, about 270 AD. After his death Valentine was named a Saint.

Interestingly, Valentine  is also the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy among other things. That doesn’t stop people calling on his help for those romantically involved. He’s now also patron of engaged couples and happy marriages.

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St. Valentine’s Day became associated with love and romance from as early as the 14th Century.  Throughout the years, especially in the 18th century, lovers sent greetings cards, known as “valentines” which were handmade.  I suspect these were quite cute, unlike some of the mass produced rubbish we get nowadays. However, in America in 1913 Hallmark Cards began mass producing specific Valentine’s Day cards. Now about a billion cards are sold every year and it’s the second biggest card sending time of the whole year. Looking at images of the old cards, I much prefer them!

We all know the symbols associated with Valentines today: anything heart shaped and a bouquet of red roses feature prominently. The red rose was believed to be the flower favoured by Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love, and has therefore come to represent that .

Why February 14th though?  Some believe that Valentine’s Day’s is celebrated mid-February to mark the anniversary of St Valentine’s death. Others maintain that the Christian church decided to place St Valentine’s feast day at this time of the year in an effort to ‘Christianise’ the pagan festival of Lupercalia.

Well, there you go!  When you are enjoying your fancy restaurant meal and bottle of sparkling wine, spare a thought for poor Saint Valentine who paid an awful price for believing in enduring romance!

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Any of you who are stuck for ideas or inspiration, have a look at my Etsy shop for anything pink, heart shaped and red roses! https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Lizzyshomemade?ref=hdr_shop_menu

  

La La land! – The Yellow Dress!

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I was looking forward to watching La La Land when I saw the trailer well before Christmas.  My husband wasn’t so enthusiastic!  You just know when you are going to love a film and I knew I would love this film.  Yes, I saw the headlines and heard about the awards, but it didn’t matter to me as I couldn’t wait to see it and didn’t really care if it had bad reviews.  (It didn’t by the way!).

Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the 1950’s and 1950’s style dresses in particular!  I was even surprised that the film was set in modern day as from the trailer and the pictures I had seen, the women were all wearing lovely summer A line frocks!

Why not make your own?  The spotty yellow sundress in the opening credits of La La Land I coveted from the moment I set eyes on it.  This is just my style.  Indeed, my mind was going round with buying spotty yellow fabric and making a dress from a similar pattern that I have and that has been well used. The Butterick B4443 easy dress pattern can be adapted for 6 different styles of basically the same dress.  I’ve made a few dresses from this pattern and its really easy. https://butterick.mccall.com/B4443

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Indeed, there is a lovely article in the Guardian newspaper about the joys and benefits of wearing yellow, based on Emma Stones’s dress.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/style/la-la-land-yellow-optimistic-colour-everyone-should-wearing/

I love these 1950’s collar style shirts too.  I first saw them on Mad Men, when Betty Draper used to wear them all the time, back in the early series.  I did actually buy several similar designs last summer from Marks and Spencer’s; a lovely light lemon one and a pretty blue blouse which is an exact copy of the one in the picture below that Emma Stone is wearing.

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This leads us to the halterneck dress.  I have a couple of these lovely dresses that I have purchased from Boden over the years.  They do get worn on exceptionally hot days in the summer and mainly also on holiday in the summer sun! I do like this style of dress, not many people seem to wear it much and prefer the strappy sundresses that are often in abundance.  However, I think it looks classy and has a lovely old fashioned theme to it.

There is a nice looking halterneck dress from New Look patterns.  I’ve never made one of these dresses, but let me know if you have and if it is easy or difficult to make. ttp://www.simplicitynewlook.com/6457/

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Finally that brings me onto the sweetheart neckline, again very stylish and classy. This neckline has been around for ages and does wonders for emphasising the bust area.  These necklines are often low cut.  They are traditionally used for more formal wear, especially wedding dresses.

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It was quite hard finding a sweetheart neckline dress sewing pattern that would be do-able. However the Sewaholic Cambie dress with sweetheart neckline looks as though it could be made into a stunning dress. I might give it a try.

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http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/cambie-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern/

There you go!  Lots of fabulous inspiration for making your own La La Land clothes!  Let me know how you all get on!  Roll on the summer now when we might actually be able to wear them!


Simple Sew – The Skater Dress

I love making 1950’s style dresses – basically anything with a flared A line skirt will do!  I have tried various patterns over the years to see what fits best and which is the better style that I am looking for.  I normally stick to my Butterick B4443 easy sew pattern, which has seen me make countless dresses from.  This is all well and good for summer dresses,  however I have never really made a winter dress before so thought I would give it a go.

imageI do like the skater style dresses so had a look on the web at what was available.  I noticed the Simple Sew patterns had a lovely dress which looked good and importantly, looked easy to make.  I couldn’t really find many reviews of this dress. Having curves, I always check out the Curvy Sewing Collective, who do excellent reviews and advice.  However this dress didn’t feature there so I thought I would give it a go anyway. I also liked the idea that Simple Sew was a British company, instead of the usual USA sewing pattern providers.

When the pattern arrived, it was on one huge piece of tracing paper, not like the couple of sheets you usually get.  The paper was a crisp white which made it easy to trace/cut around.

I have had my fingers burnt often, with not doing a “mock up”.  I have cut the pattern out according to my measurements and have cut my lovely fabric only to find once I’ve made it, that the thing just doesn’t fit.  No more!  I always make a mock up now.  I trace over the sewing pattern and use some cheap material to test it out.  By doing this, I can alter fitting and hems etc to fit my measurements.  It is a long winded way of doing it but it’s so much better than spoiling your original lovely fabric.

Anyway, onto my mock up – my original material was a grey background of white outlined cats which I though would be more appropriate in the winter.  I am a regular size 8 in most clothes but went for a size 10 in this pattern to try to accommodate bigger boobs!

After tracing and cutting out I then went onto the instructions.  These I have to say are pretty vague, they miss lots of steps off and are very minimal.  I have never quite seen instructions so like this.  After finding no reviews online, I went onto the Simple Sew website where they do have pattern tutuorials.  This was better and the tutorial did admit that the instructions did miss out some steps.image

However once I had pieced what I was supposed to do together, it was all very straightforward.

There are not too many pieces in this design, front and back bodice, front and back skirt, sleeves x 2 and collar interfacing. I only needed to buy a 16inch zip and obviously matching thread.

I started by transferring  darts on the front and back bodice as per the pattern and sewing these, once this is complete, you sew the shoulders only of the back and front bodice together.  This seems strange to me, as on all other patterns you sew the sides too.  Next is the interfacing – I  always get this mixed up when ironing on interfacing – I can never remember if its the shiny side you iron or the other one and invariably I get it wrong!  Once you have successfully cut out and ironed the interfacing to the collar, you sew the 3 sections together and then sew onto the neckline.image

Next the sleeves.  I always found these hard, which explains why I’ve so many sleeveless dresses in my wardrobe!  Actually these are quite each.  Run a basting stich across the top of the sleeve to fit into the armhole and gather from both ends.  Don’t garther too much, jut a few gathers as the sleee has to fit in the sleevehole.  Once it’s pinned in and adjusted, then sew.

Now for the skirt.  Attach the front skirt to the front bodice and vice versa to the back skirt and bodice.  Simple.  Next the zip.  I dislike putting in zips intensely, however my experience of zips has been changed by watching the Professor Pincushion video tuturoals on YouTube.  Your will never look back, believe me! Once you have insterted your zip, sew from the end of the zip to the bottom of the centre hem. Once you have sewin in your zip you need to sew from the edge of the sleeve right down the side of the body all the way to the bottom hem.  The instructions usefully didn’t mention any of this.

imageFInally to finish, sew a neat hem at the edges of the sleeves and a hem for the bottom of the skirt.

Voila.  A skater dress. Thanks to Simple Sew.

I have to say this is one of the best fitting dresses I have made, I loved the mock up so much I’ve kept that for next summer!  It fits in all the right places, especially if you are not a stick insect and really looks good.  I can’t wait to wear it!

 

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A Retro Christmas – Nostalgia required!

I started my Etsy shop in September 2015 and I didn’t really properly prepare for Christmas, I was just learning the ropes, trying new things out and researching what sold and what seemed to be the most popular trends.

This year, I started Christmas earlier than I meant to!  It came about on a trip to my local Hobbycraft, in Shirley, Solihull.  I was looking for some cottons and happened to spot their Christmas fabric displays and homed in on some lovely retro looking material.  It was a fat quarter of 6 different Christmas themed fabrics.  My favourite was the pink fabric featuring a reindeer.  Very kitsch!  (The reindeer design also comes in a blue fabric).image1

I started making some hanging decorations with these fabrics and decided I was going to make a heart decoration.  This is a completely non-traditional shape and colour so a bit risky, however I thought it would appeal to all those retro fans out there who are looking for that something a little bit different and eye-catching.untitled

Making the hearts was relatively straight forward – I previously wrote a blog post on how to make a seamless heart which you can reference.

Fingers crossed, all those retro fans out there will like these lovely decorations.  A touch of nostalgia is all that is required!

See the shop link at the top of my website for links to my Etsy shop. Also, see Hobbycraft for lovely retro fat quarters.


Patchwork and Birmingham!

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I have been interested in patchwork for a while now, after a friend bought me a present of the Cath Kidston book, originally titled “Patch”!  I’ve made a few things from the book, most notably the patchwork hexagonal pincushion.  I really enjoyed making the pincushion as I could sit down and take my patchwork with me anywhere as it was all handsewn.  It even went on holiday with me! It’s just so relaxing, sitting down in front of the tv, just me and my patchwork (and hubbie of course)!  I like the idea you can mix and match fabric for patchwork, using up scraps of fabric or incorporating different themes.

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Indeed, I have made several patchwork pincushion, including a sewing notions pincushion, which you can see on my Etsy shop: Lizzyshomemade

I’m currently in the process of making a small patchwork cushion with a  vintage style maps material.  It’s been lovely this month to take my patchwork outside on a sunny afternoon and to sit sewing.

Anyway, as I knew next to nothing about patchwork, I thought I would look into this lovely craft.

According to the V&A museum in London, their definition of patchwork is ” 2 layers of fabric sandwiching a thickish padding, all held together by lines of stitching.  It is associated with quilting and involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design”.

Apparently, from google research, the earliest examples of patchwork were found in the Egyptian tombs and there have also been finds from the Middle Ages, however patchwork seemed to become popular during the 11th to 13th centuries in Europe.

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Many people associate patchwork and quilting with the USA.  Indeed, the art of quilting became widespread during the Great Depression from 1929.  It became popular as a means to recycling clothing into quilts as money was scarce.

Indeed, I can remember the film “How to make an American Quilt” from 1995 with Winona Ryder, where a family sat around making a beautiful quilt for a wedding gift from fabric that had meant something to them. Indeed, I love the idea of incorporating your fabric strips from garments that you no longer wear but mean something to you.  For example children’s clothing and wedding outfits etc. These quilts then become heirlooms down the generations and can take years to make.  Its a lovely tradition of families and friends coming together to sew a quilt for someone they love with their memories incorporated into it.

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One of my recently read books from my favourite author, Tracey Chevalier was about  quilt making in the 1850’s.  Quaker Honor Bright comes to 1850’s America from England and has to overcome tragedy and misfortune, however she takes refuge in her quiltmaking.  “The Last Runaway” written in 2015 is a must for those patchwork and quilting fans out there.  I loved it!

From searching for patchwork and quilting museums or exhibitions, I recalled that there was a quilt museum in York, I remember my mother in law, who is an avid quilter visiting it.  Unfortunately, it closed in 2015 which is a bit of a shame.  Apart from the obvious V&A in London, I did find the American Museum in Bath which looks to have an extensive collection.

With regards to patchworking and quilting in Birmingham, I am very lucky to have a patchwork and fabric shop about 10 minutes drive from where I live in South Birmingham, called The Cotton Patch. They specialise in patchworking and quilting plus have a good array of fabrics for dressmaking.

When I last visited I picked up a leaflet about an exhibition of Welsh quilts in Lampeter, which looked interesting.  (I think Welsh quiltmaking and blanket making will have to wait for a new post!).  It turns out that there is a Welsh Quilts centre which houses the exhibition.  As I am Welsh, hopefully my husband and son won’t mind a weekend away soon.  The exhibition runs until 5 Novemer 2016.

On a slightly more local basis than Wales, there is a Festival of Quilts held yearly in Birmingham at the NEC which has exhibitors from all around Europe and sells itself as the largest patchworking and quiliting exhibion in Europe.  I missed it this year due to school holidays, but would love to go next year.

My other local haberdashery shop, Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley runs patchwork and quilting courses, so I am signing up for one of these.  I would love to make a proper quilt, even if it would take me years!  I need to learn how to do it though, as quilt making is obviously on a much bigger scale than patchwork pincushions and cushion covers!

I really enjoyed researching this blog and hoped you liked reading it and it has prompted you to try patchwork for yourself!

For more information on quilting, the Quilters Guild is a very interesting read.  Hobbycraft also specialises in fat quarters for quilting and has a lovely range of fabrics.