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


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!

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.


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