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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An old fashioned Sunday afternoon!

IMG_1410I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham where there was a screening of the film LaLaLaLand accompanied by a live orchestra.

I have already seen the film twice and own it on DVD and yes, I have the soundtrack!  I also previously wrote a blog article on the delightful clothes featured in the film so I suppose you could say I am just a tiny bit obsessed!

Anyway, back to the Sunday afternoon; myself and resigned hubbie arrived to find a hoard of people looking forward to their cinema afternoon.  I love clothes spotting and noticed that there were even a handful of the Emma Stone canary dress copies!  I myself wore a 1950’s pink and white gingham check dress and some slingback kitten heels so I felt the part at least!

IMG_1411An interval drink ordered and then time to proceed to our seats.  The venue was completely packed out with cinema fans alike.  The orchestra came on stage and started to warm up.  Then the main event started.  The widescreen CinemaScope peeled back and LaLaLand finally started.

I had no idea what to expect.  How were the orchestra going to fit in with the film etc?  I needn’t have been concerned as everything was perfect!  I remember seeing the film for the first time and knew during the opening sequence that I would love it.  Watching it again for the first time in months, just reminded me of that first feeling.  The prescence of the orchestra just heightened the whole spectacle.

I loved the old fashioned feel of the event from the overture (written on screen) to the intermission (likewise on screen) too!  I wondered how they were going to ensue a seemless interval in the film and I loved how they did. The first half of the film ended on a close up of Emma Stone’s face which then faded out in a circle, just like the old films that I love.  I couldn’t wait to return after the interval  and was not disappointed.

When the film finished, I lost count of the encores and everyone was standing up clapping.  It was a very special afternoon and a fantastic atmosphere.

Please can we have more afternoons like this?  I would love to watch some of the old films, the Gene Kelly and Fred Astaires with the addition of a live orchestra.  Judging by the popularity of this Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t be the only one!

Many thanks to the Novello Orchestra who are currently on tour with their production  I hope to see them again in the future

http://www.thenovelloorchestra.com

@NovelloOrch @THSHBirmingham


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


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!


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.