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!


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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

  

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.


Hanging floral hearts – tutorial

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I decided to have a go at making these lovely hanging heart decorations after having some left-over fabric from the Cath Kidston designed “Rosalie” range from Ikea.  The first couple of efforts weren’t that successful as I couldn’t quite figure out after stuffing the heart, how to sew it up neatly so it looks seamless.  However, after some trial and error I finally came up with a method that works that I would like to share with you.

Firstly, decide how big you would like your heart to be.  Mine are usually 10cm x 10cm, but you can make yours as large or as small as you like. Make a paper template.

IMG_0863Cut out 2 squares of matching fabric 2cm bigger all round than the size of the heart. With right sides together, sew a 1cm seam down the centre.  Open up the fabric with right side facing down.  Now you will need another square of fabric, either the same, if you want both sides of the heart identical, or choose another colour.  Place the new square of fabric on top of the square with the seam, wrong sides together and pin to secure.

IMG_0867Place the heart template on top of the sandwiched fabric and draw round it with a fabric marker (or pencil, if you don’t have one to hand!).  Machine stitch over the drawn template.  You could even do this in a contrasting stitch if you like.

Once finished, use pinking shears and cut round the heart with about a 1cm gap all around.

IMG_0868You will then need to unpick the original sewn seam in order to stuff the heart.  Unpick a good inch to enable you to get the stuffing in.  Once stuffed, neatly sew up.  IMG_0869

Finally, using a large darning needle, thread your choice of ribbon and just below the top seam of the heart, insert your needle so it goes through both sides.  You may need to insert some pressure here!

Once you have the required length of ribbon, cut the ribbon and tie in a knot.  Hey presto!  A hanging heart.  IMG_0871 (2)