Mickey Mouse inspired

 

Last week I went to my local Hobbycraft for some supplies and saw a new fat quarter bundle of Mickey Mouse fabric. What fun!

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I decided to have a go at making a document wallet in the lovely Mickey Mouse fabric as well as some little wallets and purses. I will definitely need to go and replenish my stock of this lovely fabric. If only they had Minnie Mouse too!

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Anyway, this led me onto the idea of making a batch of wallets and credit card holders out of my fabric scraps. They will eventually make it onto my Etsy shop but are also useful little presents at craft fairs too! As you can see I’ve had a very busy week!

These little wallets are are easy to make  you just need a front fabric, a lining fabric and a layer of interfacing or fleece as a sandwich layer. You can choose how big or small you want to make your wallets, from small business card holders to A4 magazine storage holders.

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Its a fun quick way to use up a fabric stash and I like being creative with choosing the fabrics with matching or even contrasting linings. Plus there is the fun at the end with the snap fastener tool!  Give it a few weeks and I think I may well start on some more!  So go on, give it a go!

A selection of these wallets and card holders are available in my shop  just click on the link above and if you fancy a certain fabric or pattern, let me know and I can customise you a lovely wallet.

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Sewing needlecases

IMG_0744After the Christmas rush I started my sewing again when my son went back to school. Having had weeks of making Christmas decorations and Santa bags I felt like making something different!

I had a look through all my Cath Kidston books for inspiration however couldn’t really find anything I fancied making.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed my ‘sew retro’ book by the author Judi Ketteler.

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I love this book for it’s retro projects and also it’s history of sewing, fabric and fashion through the ages. I’ve previously made a few things from it including an apron and a popular farmers market bag! This time I discovered the ‘charming needlecase’ page and was hooked.

Apparently needlecases were very popular back in the day as needles were so expensive that women wanted to protect them and a made a case specially for them.  From doing some research it turns out that the relics of bronze needlecases have been found from Viking sites!  I believe the fabric needlecases really stem from the Victorian era.

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Anyway, I decided on my material and gave it a go.  Actually it was lovely to sew something different and there are so many combinations of front and lining fabric that you can choose from to make your needlecases stand out.

I chose a retro valentines pink fabric with a plain pink lining and pink ribbon.  I loved it so much I have made quite a few more and it seems to be becoming rather an obsession!

I wonder if my needlecases will stand the test of time as plenty have from Victoriana!

Needless to say, all are available on my Etsy shop  just follow the link at the top of the page!


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.


 

Lobster Dress

I have finally got around to completing work on my lobster dress!

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I purchased this lovely navy retro looking material, with white lobsters a few months ago from Fabric Rehab,  www.fabricrehab.co.uk with a view to making a skater style dress.  However, after making a tote bag from this material for my Etsy shop first, I received a large custom order from Newfoundland to make several lobster bags and progress on the dress stopped!

I went back to one of my favourite original patterns that I made my first dress from a couple of years ago; Vogue V8723, Very Easy Vogue Patterns.  This simple dress pattern consists of a lined bodice, a lined skater style skirt and a 20 inch zip at the back.

imageI had cut out the pattern pieces a few weeks ago and followed the bodice measurements for a D cup as I am quite busty.  Assembling the dress was fairly simple as the bodice consisted of a couple of darts in the front and only one in the back.  The lining was fashioned in exactly the same way.  However on trying the dress on, there was far too much material gaping at the front bodice so I had to take some more in from the darts, which seems to have fixed the problem. I will have to remember to use the B cup bodice pattern next time!

 

 

Although the pattern states that the skirt should be lined, I didn’t bother lining the skirt as the material is medium thickness and navy so hardly see through.  The skirt was fairly easy to assemble as it just had to be gathered and the gathers adjusted to fit the bodice seams.

I used to find the hardest part of dress making was zip insertion until I learnt how to insert a zip easily and properly through the YouTube channel of Professor Pincushion.  Here, they take you step by step on how to insert a zip.  This method works every time and makes dress making much easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huQh2aE2Sao

With some hand sewing to finish off the dress (mainly a hook and eye above the zip and attaching the lining to the zip too), the dress is completed.  Hurray!  I finally have my finished lobster dress in time for late Summer!

Next on the list is a fabulous Licorice Allsorts fabric in a black background, remembering to use the B cup front bodice pattern next time!image

My retro 1950’s shirt dress

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As readers of my blog will be aware, I am addicted to 1950’s style dresses.  I love the femininity of them, the swirl, that “princess” feeling.  Luckily for me I have an hourglass figure which really suits the 1950’s A-line style.

When my son started school a few years ago, I enrolled on a weekly dressmaking course and over the years, I have made a few tops and some simple sundresses for myself.  I particulary like the Vintage Vogue V8789.  However, this time I decided to tackle a 1950’s style shirt dress pattern; the McCall’s M6696.

Interestingly, this all came about as a result of receiving the new Boden Spring 2016 catalogue.  They have a lovely Sophia shirtdress in pale lemon but unfortunately had run out of my size with little hope of a restock.  I looked at the dress and thought how hard can it be?  So I googled simple shirtdress pattern and came up with the McCall’s M6696. This stated that it was an “Easy”pattern to tackle.  All the better!

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I looked to see if there were any general reviews of the pattern, then I looked at one of my newly discovered sites, The Curvy Sewing Collective. For the unitiated, this is a website designed to give advice on sewing patterns for the curvy person.  Although I am a size 8, I generally have a large chest which doesn’t always equate to size 8 clothes!  This website looks at sewing patterns and reviews and comments on them, giving helpful hints on how you can alter the pattern etc.  Anyways, they had the McCall’s dress in it and gave it a good review.

Next, I went to my favourite fabric store – Barrys, in Birmingham – to have a look for some fabric.  My husband and son are regular visitors here and the staff love my son and he loves hiding in amongt the fabric!  My husband has a good eye for material so he picked out a fabulous retro bicycle print in a pale green which would look amazing in a dress.  Great, I’ve now got my pattern and my fabric.

As I mentioned I went to dressmaking lessons but my tutor was always on hand for the more trickier stuff.  When I looked through the McCall’s pattern, although it stated easy, there was some stuff I had never tackled before, such as yokes, button down bands and collars.  Yikes!  The instructions would have been clear if I knew what I was doing in the first place!

Thank heavens for YouTube!  I googled “how to attach a yoke” and found a brilliant channel called Professor Pincushion.  This American lady has hundreds of different clips on all elements of dressmaking which are so clear, precise and easy to follow.  I have looked online for sewing stuff before but with mixed results.  However Professor Pincushion is now my new find!

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With her help, I made a yoke, learnt abou how to attach a collar and made a shirt button band.  I cannot recommend her enough if you are puzzled about instructons on a sewing pattern.  I completed the dress fairly quickly and really enjoyed doing it.  After previous bad experiences of cutting into patterns and fabric and finding the fit is not right, I now trace the pattern and do a mock up with some cheap fabric rather than spoiling the original! I was glad I did because the size 8 was a little too tight on the waistband (too many cakes?) so I altered it to a size 10 when cutting out my fabric properly.

I finally finished the shirt dress a few days later  I have to say I am really pleased with the results.  The fit is good and the dress hangs well.    The good thing is that I can now go ahead and make a 100 of these if I wish as I have the perfect pattern for my body.IMG_0454

So, if you fancy having a go at a new summer dress then take a look at McCall’s M669 and let me know how you get on!


My favourite fabric shop in Birmingham

I had a lovely Saturday before Christmas visiting my local fabric store; Barry’s in Birmingham.  Those of you who live in Birmingham and are addicted to fabric, will I am sure know this store very well!

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There is no pattern of fabric that they do not sell!  Anything you could wish for in terms of stripes, spots, teacups, gingham and special occasion fabrics, Barry’s sells.

You can gain so much inspiration from just going in for a quick look.  Shall I make a skirt from this? A dress from that? That would look nice in!!! etc, etc.

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I originally went in with a list of the fabric that I wanted.  I really don’t know why I bothered!  I did purchase all I needed plus quite a bit more! Well, its a treat, isn’t it?  (Did I mention how affordable the fabrics are?). Notwithstanding the special offer fabric rolls they have!).

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Readers of my blog will know that I am obsessed by the 1950’s and I have been making some vintage style retro half aprons as my latest project.  I had in mind a kitchen inspired fabric for the front of the apron.  Well, I was spoilt for choice!  There were dozens I could choose from.  In the end I plumped for a selection of named cakes (macaroons, eclairs etc) all in a pretty vintage stlye on a cream background.  I also bought some retro jar fabric with a green background.  Both will do nicely for my vintage style aprons.

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My son wanted me to make a new PE bag for school for him – his London transport made bag has served him well for 2 years, but is showing a fair sign of wear and teat!  He’s obsessed by cats at the moment, so he chose a lovely cat fabric, which I made into a bag for him with his name on.  Very chic!  He loved it. On the way to the measuring desk, I spotted some monkey and bananas fabric which I thought would look great for making into a PE bag or toy bag.  That’s my next project.

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My final purchase was some cotton plain pink fabric to make “mock ups” of dresses and skirts that I enjoy making for myself.

While I was paying, my lovely husband after playing hide and seek with the rolls of fabric with my son! took these photos for me.  He’s quite used to my fabric obsession and is fairly handy at suggesting fabric that I might like.


1950’s Sewing Patterns – A brief history

8991jy23There is a trend today for making your own clothes, with programmes such as “The Great British Sewing Bee” encouraging would be sewers to throw caution to the wind and have a go! However this isn’t an entirely new phenomenon as sewing patterns have been in existence since the 1860’s.

In wartime Britain, women could save hard earned family money by making their own clothes. Trims were relatively inexpensive and could be used time and time again on different outfits and updated as and when required.

The main dressmaking pattern manufacturers included Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls and of course Vogue. These American companies are still in existence today. Women’s weekly magazines such as Woman’s Own all published patterns too, so pattern availability wasn’t a problem.simplicity_1655

In the 1950’s a wide range of skirt styles were on offer to make, however tops were always nipped in and fitted to optimised the desired for narrow waist.

There was also the introduction of “Easy to Make” sewing patterns and with the arrival of shift dresses towards the end of the 1950s many women ran up these patterns in no time at all as the pattern was so simple. Many different versions could be made and adapted to both winter and summer needs. Furthermore as the decade went on, new fabric and became available and better quality zips and trimmings came into existence.

vintage%20sewing%20pattern%20-%201950s%20junior%20misses%20one-piece%20dress%20and%20jacket%20simplicity%201157%20size%2011%20bust-f91435In the 1950’s one of the most coveted items for women was the Singer sewing machine. Singer began to recover from the effects of the war in which production was ceased and in 1952 introduced model 206, its first zigzag machine. These machines are quite sought after and occasionally you spot them in antique shops now for a small fortune!

Vintage patterns are particularly in demand today and there are a good choice online. Some manufacturers also now provide modern sewing patterns based on the vintage 1950’s feel. I have tried Vintage Vogue patterns and have successfully produced a lovely dress from using their V8789 1957 original dress design pattern.  At present I love the American sewing manufacturer Colette who produces some lovely retro/vintage designs, including the Ginger skirt and the Sencha blouse.  I have also made several tops from the Sorbretto 1950’s style sleeveless top pattern.

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If anyone  has tried any of these modern “vintage” patterns that has successfully worked out for them, then please let me know!