Posts tagged ‘sewing’

July 14, 2012

New Project

I was baby sitting for a friend earlier this week… a good excuse to do some crafting.  I didn’t really get much done but set up a new project that I can pick up and put down and do whist watching the TV.  The aim is to practice and experiment with embroidery.

I have this beautiful fabric that I got from Seamstar (a great place for fabric and haberdashery shopping), probably about a year (maybe more) ago.  It’s so nice that I haven’t wanted to cut it up, so I thought I would use the pattern as a base and embellish it with embroidery and maybe some beads and turn it into a picture.

So here it is at the beginning.  You might just be able to make out a line of back stitch along one side of a blue stem to the right of the centre flower.  I’m thinking it’s going to take a while to complete but I’ll keep you updated.

June 17, 2012

Using up the stash!

Well it feels like we’ve had the wettest, coldest and darkest June ever in the UK!  While I am disappointed that we can’t be out in the sun, having bbqs and enjoying the new grass in the garden, it does mean that I don’t mind staying in making.  My current aim: use up some of the stash!

This is my dresser. I got it in a much more orange pine state from a charity shop. I painted it white (many layers!) and changed the handles to make a cute place to keep my sewing stuff. In addition to the fat quarters you can see, the bottom cupboard is also full of fabric and other bits including ribbon, buttons and cotton.  My mission is to use some of it up.

I know from reading other people’s blogs that I’m not alone in accumulating significant amounts of fabric, and reassured when I see that other people have way more than I do.  I have a habit of buying things without a purpose, just because I like it and buying more than I need for projects and never getting round to using up the left overs.  So my aim is to make things that start to use up all of the bits and pieces that I have.

A top tip that I picked up from somewhere is to cut scraps of fabric into squares ready to use for patchwork rather than leaving them stashed away as scraps.  This makes it easy to create something like these patchwork cushions, particularly if your fabrics coordinate.

Left overs from this quilt

Left overs from a few projects

(the backs)

I also conquered the zip and made these little zip pouches using 5″x5″ squares (same size as in the cushions), bits of ribbon, and some calico that I had left over.  These were a bit fiddly but worked out ok.

And I made another baby blanket, again using 5″x5″ squares.  I love the colour combination on this one. I used some satin bias binding for the edges which makes it nice and tactile and fleece on the back for comfort.

Fabric purchased from the Festival of Quilts 2011 (must use these up before going again in August!)

Still plenty of material to go.  I’m going to struggle more with the bits that don’t seem to match anything.  I’m thinking maybe a scrappy quilt with lots of different colours.

June 16, 2012

Union Jack Bunting

It’s not often that I can say that I whipped something up but I did just that with this bunting. I’ve made it for something Olympics related but got the fabric and bits on the jubilee weekend so I thought I would make it in time to put up in my window for that.


It didn’t take long. I made five union jack flags by sewing wide white grossgrain ribbon and red ricrac onto the flag. In between I had plain red and blue flags. A great quick little project.

April 21, 2012

Sock Monkey Tutorial

A few years ago someone taught me how to make sock monkeys so that we could do it as an activity on a summer youth camp.  Since then I’ve done them with various groups and friends and they always go down well so I thought I’d have a go at my first tutorial.  Here goes…

Disclaimer/excuses: I started writing this post a while ago waited until the weekend so that I could take nice photos in the daylight, but it was such a dull day when I took them that I still needed the flash so the images are less than perfect.  Also I had a few monkeys at various stages of completion so I have used them to demonstrate the steps and therefore the colour/pattern changes.  Hopefully it isn’t too confusing.


  • 1 pair of ladies ankle socks (patterns are good but they need to be able to work upside down, so spots and stripes but not hearts)
  • Toy stuffing
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and coordinating thread

Step 1: Cut 1st sock

Put one sock aside and lay the other out as shown.

Cut 1: Cut along the full length of the top of the sock approximately 2cm from the edge.  (Ensure that you don’t cut through the heel part.)  This is the tail piece.

Cut 1: The Tail

Cut 2: Cut the heel piece out approximately 0.5cm from where it changes colour.  This is the snout.

Cut 2: The Snout

Cut 3: Cut the the ankle section in half lengthways to make two arms.

Cut 3: The Arms

Cut 4: With the remaining foot section cut off the toe and cut the remaining piece in half widthways.  These will be the ears.  The toe can be discarded.

Cut 4: The Ears

Put all of these pieces to one side being careful not to lose any.

Step 2: Cut 2nd sock

Take the second sock and arrange it so that it lays flat with the heel on the top.

Ensure top and bottom layers are even

Starting at the opening cut up the centre of the sock finishing approximately 2cm from the heel.

Stop 2cm from the heel

These are the legs.

Step 3: Turn inside out

Take each piece of sock and turn them inside out or put right sides together and pin ready to sew.

Tail, arms and ears pinned

Legs pinned

Step 4: Sew limbs and ears

Take both arm pieces and the tail.  Machine sew (or hand sew using back stitch) along the long edge and one short edge, rounding the corners (for second arm sew both long edges).  Reverse to secure stitches at either end.

Trim corners after sewing

Take the ear pieces and sew a ‘u’ shape in each piece to form the ear. Trim edges to follow stitches.

I roughly try to line up the stitching with the pattern

Sew each leg separately.  Begin roughly 1cm from the top to allow a gap for turning.

Pins indicate the start of stitching

Step 5: Turn out and stuff

Trim all corners and turn right side out.

Starting to look more like a monkey!!

Next stuff the body with the toy stuffing until it is firm but not stretched.  Ensure that there is enough stuffing at the top of the legs so they’re not too floppy.  Using slip stitch, sew up the gap between the legs.

Slip stitch across the opening a couple of times to close the gap securely

Use a little bit of stuffing at a time to stuff the limbs.  Using a pencil push the stuffing to the end.

All pieces stuffed and ready to attach!

Step 6: Attach Limbs

The tail, arms, and ears all then need to be attached using slip stitch.  I like to tuck the ends in as I go round to make it neater but it doesn’t really matter.  I tend to hold the part in position and sew round using fairly large stitches to begin with and then go round once or twice more with smaller stitched to firmly attach in the following places…

Tail in the centre at the bottom of the back. This helps him/her to sit up!

One arm on each side about half way up the body. Ears just below the toe section of the head.

The snout then needs to be attached.  To do this first pin it in place in the centre at the front so that the edges come just below the ears.

Then begin to sew from one corner tucking the raw edges in as you go.  If you have it use the colour change on the sock as a guide.

Again use slip stitch and remove the pins as you work round

When you have sewn three quarters of the way round stop and stuff the snout.  Then continue stitching until complete.

Insert stuffing

Step 7: Add Eyes

Finally add eyes using one or two buttons, special toy eyes or felt if you’re worried about small parts.  And your sock monkey is complete!…

You can make boy monkeys, girl monkeys and even baby monkeys using children’s socks.  These are very cute!

Baby monkey

So there we are, a step by step guide to making a sock monkey.  I hope it is useful.  If you have any questions or need clarification on anything just let me know.

Happy sock monkey making!!

April 16, 2012

It’s not Christmas I know…

I have lots I want to blog about, I just need to find the time.  Get ready for embroidery, thrifting and a tutorial coming soon.  But for now I had to show you this…

A fantastic nativity scene


This is the creation of one of the ladies in sewing group.  Isn’t it amazing?!  She designed it (based on something she had seen but this looks way better) and made it all herself.

I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying that she is at the perfectionist end of the spectrum within the group.  This shows in the level of detail involved in each piece.

Mary and baby Jesus


Joseph, a wise man and the donkey with little pots of hay on its back!


A camel, shepherd and an angel


Incredibly she is now going to make more for other family members.  I’m sure they will be just as great.  Nice one Emma!

March 17, 2012

Home Sewn Make

I got a subscription to Making Magazine free with my Tesco clubcard vouchers (yay) which has recently come to an end (boo).  Whilst I love getting home once a month to find a magazine full of craftly things waiting for me on my door mat, I must admit that I haven’t made many of the projects from them.  But in the last issue I got there was a free insert with 6 sewing projects from various recent publication.

I liked the look of this bag and had a friends birthday coming up so I had a go at making one for her.

The pattern is from Everything Patchwork, by Corinne Crasbercu.  The instructions were simple and easy to follow although there were some confusing measurements on the diagram, which I chose to ignore.

I’m pleased with the result.  It’s not quite as striking as the one in the picture but I think that suited the recipient.  I was going to make a flower corsage to go with it but I ran out of time which is a shame but hey-ho, we can’t do it all.  I like the spotty inside…

Next up I’m hoping to have a go at an embroidery project.  Hopefully not too long before I have results to share!

January 14, 2012

Not a stitch or post in sight

No making lately unfortunately but I was given a couple of making books for Christmas which should provide some inspiration.

I got Lovely Things to Make for Girls of Slender Means by Eithane Farry, which is indeed lovely!  I’ve only flicked through but it is packed full of ideas on making, adapting and refashioning clothes and accessories.  I like her approach to clothes making which has a strong sense of ‘just have a go’ which I need a bit more of, I’m too cautious.

"There's probably a seamstressy way of making this skirt so that the finish is couture, but I made it up as I went along, and it worked out pretty fine.."

There are some things that I probably won’t make…

Chipfork necklace

But also some nice embellishment ideas and alternative ideas that I would like to have a go at.

Fabric corsage

China necklace

Eithane also provides loads of basics and tips and commentary relating each section of the book (the seasons) and the projects.  I’m looking forward to having a proper read.

At the other end of the spectrum (project cost wise) I was also given The Liberty Book of Home Sewing.  This has many very nice sewing projects, made all the more nicer by the use of gorgeous Liberty fabrics.  I love this apron…

Liberty apron

And another flower corsage…

Rose corsage

Plenty of inspiration.  My next project is going to be a notice board.  Post soon hopefully x

November 30, 2011

Presenting my third quilt!!

I introduced this quilt here.  I made it for my sister for her 30th birthday and it is now signed, sealed and delivered so here it is…

(I managed to catch a moment of sun to take some pictures!)

I was very happy with the final result.  I love the mix of colours against the grey solid background.  I think the fabrics stand out really wall in the simple design, which is why I chose the simple design, along with time constraints.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the back (oops).

I quilted it with a simple stitch in the ditch along the horizontal joints.  I haven’t really experimented much with other quilting designs, maybe on the next one!

I love the tones and patterns of these fabrics

This is the third quilt that I’ve made.  The first one was for me, and the second for my mum which I haven’t posted yet but will do soon.

It’s make, make, make here as this weekend I’m having my first craft stall with some of the ladies from sewing group.  It is the first time any of us have tried to sell any of our makes so it will be interesting to see how it goes.  I will post with an update and photos of the fair.

November 22, 2011

Sewing group update

Last week in sewing group we were depleted in numbers but it was still a hive of creative activity…

The hive of activity usually involves coffee and yummy things!

All sorts of exciting and beautiful things were being made.  Here is a round up…

Tea cup candles in these gorgeous vintage cups


This beautifully made Christmas bunting on display on the fireplace


And this brilliant lavender filled chicken by a new convert to sewing and making!


All accompanied by lots of sharing of ideas and catching up.

Love it!!

August 25, 2011

Sewing Group

Every couple of weeks or so, I get together with a few other ladies for sewing group.  It’s very informal; about seven or eight of us gather at someone’s house and each bring our own projects to work on.  This week we had: baby mitten knitting, felt needle case making, card making, bags and bunting, cardigan knitting and bandanas for dogs!  So its really more of a craft group than a sewing group.

Spot the Royal Wedding mug!


We are a real mix from beginners to the more experienced; the focused and the chatty; the perfectionists and laid back (who can knock up two or three cushion covers in an evening!).  But we all enjoy it and it’s great to get together, have a natter, help each other out and share tips and ideas.  Sewing can be a bit of an isolated hobby so its good to do it with others and it makes you put time aside to do it.

Having dutifully washed and ironed the fabric I got at the quilt festival, I spent the evening cutting squares for my baby blankets.  I think I’m going to use fleece as the backing for the blankets to make them nice and cozy.  Trip to the fabric shop required to get some fleece.

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