Leopards in the Jungle – Myosotis # 5

Leopard print Viscose Challis from Stitch Fabrics

I ordered 3 metres of fabric from Stitch Fabrics back in July at a total cost of £34 including p&p. Having overlocked the raw edges and laundered the fabric I was somewhat dismayed to discover that the length was a bare 2.73 metres. I am sure that the fabric did not shrink so much and feel that the cut length supplied must have been short. Not happy!

Construction notes: As I was aware that I had limited fabric, I decided to forego my usual hem ruffle. In a way this was a blessing as it meant that it took only about ½ hour to make up the skirt with its concealed side seam pockets. I spent time to ensure a beautifully finished stand collar and think this is the best one yet. The sleeves were cut using the elbow length sleeve pattern from the Sofia pattern by Victory patterns. I stitched 4 rows of shirring approximately 2 inches from the narrow hem to give a little frill and I am delighted with the finished sleeves.

Conclusion: Although I am pleased with the finished dress I have to admit that I don’t particularly enjoy wearing it. I find that the skirt without the hem ruffle feels too light and flimsy. I have been wearing the dress with a petticoat and opaque snag tights. Hopefully after a little ‘time out’ I will fall back in love with the print and the dress.

Leopards in the Jungle Myosotis #5 with Sofia sleeves

Project #47 completed 13th October 2022

Hand made Christmas Gifts

Gardening notebook

In anticipation of a visit to my sister in North Wales, I wanted to give her an additional handmade gift for Christmas that I could take with me on my visit. Catherine is a keen gardener and as I had some pretty gardening-themed printed cotton in my stash, decided to make her a padded, covered notebook in which she can record her gardening plans and achievements. The pattern instructions and an A5 notebook were supplied by Lizzie at a recent meeting of Sprat & Winkle Quilters. I used some 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding recently purchased from New Threads Quilt Shop and some plain White cotton fabric from my stash for the lining. I quilted using one of my favourite stitches – wavy lines which are great in that if you waver a little, it does not show up as a glaring fault! In no time I had the completed cover for the notebook – I hope she likes it.

Gardening notebook

Baking-themed gifts

It all started when a neighbour asked to borrow a Bundt baking tin. Unfortunately I was unable to help but this prompted me to think about what to give for a Christmas gift. Those people that know me will be aware that I like to use a theme when planning my hand made gifts. So ….. along with the silicon Bundt tin I decided to make an Oven mitt and also either a recipe book or fabric covered note book. This latter contains a copy of one of my favourite original recipes for 3C muffins. The 3C stands for Chocolate Cherries and Courgettes!

I ordered some 12oz fire-retardant wadding from Amazon and some cake motif printed cottons from Hot Pink Haberdashery. Online I found a free pattern for double ended oven mitts from The Sewing Directory, the fabric pattern for the covered notebook came from Lizzie at Sprat & Winkle Quilters as mentioned above.

A couple of sewing sessions yielded the completed gifts. To ensure that the recipients will be aware of the type of wadding I have used, I printed off the following note to include with the oven mitts.

Please note: For the main part of these oven mitts I have used Marent 12oz Fire Retardant Wadding. The thinner wadding used on the back of the mitts is a Cotton 80% Polyester 20%. The oven mitts are machine washable at 30 degrees C.

Rainbow Elephants Oven Mitts and Notebook
Cup cakes on Pink background, Oven Mitts & Recipe notebook
Set complete with Bundt recipe book
Bundt tine & 3C muffin recipe

Now I just have to wrap up the packages, label and decide how best to send – bearing in mind the current vagaries of the postal system!

Projects #53 completed 24th November 2022

Secret Sister Table Wreath

As part of the Sprat & Winkle Christmas Dinner activities the members will be swapping Secret Sister gifts. On a previous occasion I have gifted a battery-operated tea light cover of a gnome and this year I went one better and made a table wreath to go with it.

The pattern from Thimble Art by Ruth Jensen is for a floral shape with 3D holly leaves between each ‘petal’.

Using some pretty Christmas-themed fabric gifted by a friend I cut 6 shapes in each of the two prints, one in a novelty Rabbit print on a Cream background and the other a Green background cartoon Robin print.

I interfaced each of the Cream fabrics and then fused some lightweight wadding to the centre part, excluding the Holly shapes. The most difficult part of the construction was turning each petal through the narrow gap at the base. I edge stitched each petal before joining them together to form a circle with the Holly leaves standing proud.

Holly Leaves Table Wreath

I made a fabric circle each for the top and underside which then covers up all the raw edges at the centre of the wreath.

Reverse of the Table Wreath

I am very pleased with the final result and once I have completed my current dressmaking project may well make another Holly wreath for my own dining table.

Wreath and Battery Operated Table Light Gnome

Project #54 completed 29th November 2022

Brooklyn Bag by Swoon Patterns

I purchased this pattern recently when attending the Bag Retreat in South Wales. When attending the Sewing Day organised by Sprat & Winkle Quilters I decided that making up the Handbag sized version for the first time would be a good project to concentrate on during the day. However, as it turned out, I did not get a lot done during that day and the bag had to wait until I returned from visiting my sister in North Wales before I could continue with the project.

For this first iteration I chose some Neutral-toned linen with an Oriental blossom-style floral motif from my stash of ‘landfill’ fabrics, whatever nickel hardware was in my stash plus some pretty multi-coloured cork bought from Purple Stitches that has long been in my bagmaking supplies.

I had not had much time to examine the sample bag thoroughly so this was pretty much an ‘exercise in the dark’. The Swoon instructions were comprehensive but as I have not made the style/type of bag before this was also a learning curve.

After several ‘false starts’ I finally managed to spend a couple of hours concentrated work on the bag. I used some remnant quilting cotton for the lining and added an extra slip pocket plus a long key keeper.

Quilting Cotton lining & long key keeper

I have learned a lot! The bag came up a little smaller than I expected though it is a good size for my personal requirements.

The Brooklyn Bag by Swoon Patterns

I will definitely make another using all quilting weight cotton fabrics and this time will order up hardware in the specific sizes as directed on the pattern. I will also adjust the length of the handles to my preferred dimensions as I found the ones cut according to the instructions to be a little short.

Project #052 completed 21st November 2022

Quilted Book Covers

This year I am taking part in the Advent Dozen organised at Sprat & Winkle Quilters. The plan is that each member makes up 12 gifts, same theme but different fabrics, which are then wrapped and labelled. The organisers will distribute 12 different gifts, each labelled 1 -12 to each participant. From 13th December, we open a gift with the appropriate number.

For my contribution I purchased 12 soft back A5 lined notebooks and have covered them with quilted removable covers. I purchased 1½ metres of printed quilting cotton fabric from my local store – New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fairground Craft Centre and used it to cover 8 of the books.

Bookshelves printed cotton

Literary Associations print

The remaining 4 are covered with odd Fat Quarters from my stash. The quilting was completed in a variety of ways – vertical lines, horizontal lines and wavy lines. I hope that the recipients will be pleased their Advent gifts.

Fat Quarter Variety Prints

I am looking forward to participating in this slightly different take on the traditional Advent Calendar.

Twelve Quilted Book Covers

Project #51 completed 6th November 2022

Faux Clamshell Table Runner

For many years now I have owned a Sissix Big Shot die cutter. Although I rarely use it for cardmaking, I have several dies for patchwork fabric block cutting. One of my favourite set of dies are the two that can be put together to form ‘Drunkard’s Path’. I have used this set of dies in several different layouts and recently re-rediscovered that by putting together two ¼ circles with two ‘arcs’ a faux clamshell is revealed.

Using some remnant fabrics, gifted to me by a good friend, I made a new table runner for our coffee table. I cut out several sets of the block before arranging in a pleasing manner. The shapes are quick to assemble on the sewing machine with simple echo quilting I soon had a finished runner. The backing is plain calico from my stash and the binding was cut in strips from a larger remnant of fabric.

I have a sizeable number of Christmas-themed items and this runner now completes the collection.

Faux Clamshell Christmas Table Runner

Project #49 completed 4th November 2022

Raspberry ‘Newlyn’ Blouse

For some time I have been wanting to make a plain blouse to go under my Autumn Leaf print pinafore dress and felt that this 1½ metres Raspberry Dobby from Sew me Sunshine bought for £12 in August 2022 would be just right. I decided to make another version of the Newlyn blouse (a hack from New Look 6731) as I think this will go well under the pinafore dress but also can be worn ‘tunic- style’ over my new Burgundy jogging bottoms.

New Look 6731

I laundered the fabric and then pressed nice and flat. Whilst doing this I noted how very fine the fabric was so decided that I would make up the blouse with French seams. The test stitching also demonstrated that none of the threads in my stash was the right colour match – I needed to visit my local fabric store, New Threads Quilt Shop at the Weyhill Fairground Craft Centre. I bought exactly the right shade in 50weight Aurifil cotton thread which was a dream to sew with. Needless to say, I did not buy just thread, I stocked up on some fabric for Christmas gift projects and some new machine needles as well.

As I have made this version of the blouse a couple of times before, the construction was fairly plain sailing. When it came to buttons I was disappointed that I could not find a complete matching set of 7 buttons in my stash. However, I did find 5 buttons for the front closure and then the buttons on the sleeve cuffs are a little idiosyncratic, being both the right size and colour but different from the 5 at the front and each other!

Idiosyncratic button selection

I am absolutely delighted with the blouse which is very comfortable to wear and coordinates (as I planned) with the Autumn leaves ‘Jane’ pinafore dress. I will wear it tomorrow!

Newlyn Blouse in Raspberry Dobby Viscose Voile

Blouse to be worn with Autumn print Pinafore Dress

Project #50 completed 2nd November 2022.

Take the Chance Dress by Pattern Emporium

Inspired by the vlogs of Karina of Lifting Pins & Needles and Whitney of TomKat Stitchery I decided to do just that!

Take the Chance Dress pattern by Pattern Emporium

The Take The Chance Shirt Dress has been designed with the relaxed structure of an easy fit shirt. It features buttons (or snaps) along the front opening, a simple placket & collar (with the easiest instructions ever!) & is finished with a tiered skirt.

For this toile version I used some recently purchased Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, I bought 3 metres for a total cost of £10.78. This had been washed and dried on arrival and sat awaiting inspiration as to the design of dress that I would make.

Ditsy printed Owls on Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn

Construction notes: I printed off the design in size 20 using the layers function in Adobe, a first time of using that option. I made no changes to the pattern – just went for it! First I cut out the bodice fronts, back, collar, under collar and short sleeves. When laying out the fabric I had discovered a nasty mark across the entire width so knew that the skirt would have to be cut to avoid this mark. This means that the skirt was not cut in the tiers as per the pattern illustration but I was able to cut 2 longer panels each 40 inches wide x approximately 20 inches deep and a further 3 widths of the fabric, each 12 inches deep for the hem ruffle. I used the spare pieces to cut 4 of my TNT pocket patterns.

To begin construction I made up the skirt. I attached the pocket pieces to the main panels then followed with the hem ruffle. This latter was pleated with the pleater foot using a long stitch length of 5mm with a pleat every 6 stitches. I found that the 3 widths of fabric pleated in this way were sufficient to complete the hem of the main panels with just a short section approximately 8 inches long left over. All seams were overlocked as although the fabric was fine enough for French seams, I wanted to complete this ‘toile’ quickly. The skirt was set aside whilst I worked on the bodice.

Following the vlog by Karina I completed the yoke, grown-on facings and collar before basting the side seams and having a ‘first fit’. I noted that I needed to shorten the back bodice length by at least 1 inch, the front bodice will need to be lengthened by at least 1 inch on the next iteration. The side seams were also taken in by ½ inch on both fronts and back. Next time I will also need to reduce the shoulder width by at least 1 inch. I took the time to adjust the pattern pieces now whilst the changes were still at the front of my mind. Once I had made those adjustments to the pattern, I returned to the bodice and marked up the buttonholes. I made 5 vertical buttonholes and attached 5 of my favourite 4-hole tortoiseshell buttons.

Bodice with collar and Faux Tortoiseshell buttons

The bottom of the button placket was basted together as the front skirt panel had been cut on the fold. Next I set in the sleeves. These were very well drafted and were set in easily with no gathers or tucks to spoil the shoulder line. The top edge of the skirt panels were gathered with 2 rows of long stitches and then attached to the bottom of the bodice. As I had already hemmed the ruffle, the dress was now complete.

The finished ‘Take The Chance’ Dress

Conclusion: Working with this very fine Viscose was like ‘herding cats’ as it was so slippery. Overall this was a simple enough dress to make and the drafting is very good with all notches matching up as they should. I am very pleased with the result and with those changes to the pattern mentioned above, I am sure that the next iteration will be even better.

Project #48 completed 19th October 2022

Morgan Messenger Bag #2 – the ‘official’ one!

Bag Making Retreat in early October.

According to the pattern envelope the Morgan is the perfect gender- neutral, device carrying companion with secure top zip closure & flap in 2 sizes. The small size fits a tablet up to the size of 12.1” (30.7cm) screen inside the padded interior pocket. With zipped pocket, cargo pocket and hidden under-flap pocket, you’ll be sure to have plenty of space.

Construction notes: For this version I found a large remnant of some curtaining fabric and as the main colour was Blue, decided that I would use that combined with another large remnant of Blue quilting weight cotton for the lining. I have a large stash of nickel hardware so was able to use that, together with some newly purchased Bosal ® one-side fusible foam. After almost 2 hours of cutting out and applying various shapes of Bosal to the external pieces, I was ready to start the stitching. This time I did NOT make the error of applying Bosal to the flap before setting the zip for the under flap pocket! Once again I used a size 100 top-stitching needle for the final top stitching around the top of the bag and finished all the zip pulls with tassels!

Conclusion: For some reason, possibly the print of the fabric, this bag feels smaller than the previous iteration. Having now completed the ‘floating bridge’ method for insertion of zip closure on bags, I am more confident with this construction technique.

Morgan Messenger Bag #2 in Curtain-weight furnishing fabric
Internal ‘Floating Bridge’ Inset Zip closure
Internal Pockets

I am much happier with this bag so may even keep it for myself to use in the Summer next year.

Project #45 completed 5th October 2022

Companion Carpet Bag – re-cycling landfill fabric

Having just completed two versions of the Morgan Messenger Bag by Mrs H patterns I wanted to revisit my favourite Mrs H pattern – the Companion Carpet Bag. I had spied some lovely Lime Green Linen in the ‘proposed landfill’ stash and was determined to use it for an unusual bag! I already had an 8½ inch bag frame in my stash and together with co-ordinating fat quarters for the lining, this would be a ‘bag for free’.

I took the fabric, frame and pattern with me when attending the Bag Retreat in Wales but unfortunately did not manage to complete the construction whilst there. Also, I was seduced by the beautiful fabrics displayed by ‘Sew Hot’ in their pop up shop and purchased a metre of a contrasting cotton print (Nantucket Summer by moda ® Sail Check Plaids – Cream and Navy #55265 21) to use for the lining.

Nantucket Summer by moda

According to the pattern description The Companion Carpet Bag features a full width front pocket, which you can trim with piping or lace, bag feet, leather handles and optional leather snap tab. Inside there’s a zipped pocket and a slip pocket. The pattern uses an internal tubular frame, either 8.5″ or 12″.

Construction notes: Due to the thickness of the linen fabric I was able to omit fusible interfacing for the outer fabrics, but it was used on the linings and pockets. Bosal ® one-side fusible foam was used for the stabiliser to give structure to the bag, together with some plastic mesh bag base and some nickel bag feet from my stash of bag-making hardware.

Colourful zip and tassel on the internal pocket

For the internal zip pocket I used a Yellow zip with Cerise pink tassel for added colour.

External pocket trimmed with Nantucket Summer

The external pocket is trimmed with piping using the Nantucket Summer printed cotton.

Flap with magnetic snap underneath

I added a flap with magnetic snap fastener to go over the top of the frame and ensure that the bag is closed up. I also added my long zip keeper but this time it was not elasticated.

Long length key keeper

The linen fabric handles were made extra long so that they can go over my shoulder, they were padded with strips of Bosal for additional comfort.

Long padded handles for use over the shoulder

Conclusion: This pattern is definitely my favourite style of handbag and so far each one that I have made has something a little different. So after making 3 bags ‘on the trot’ it is time to return to dressmaking as I am in need of some new ‘Autumnal’ dresses and blouses…..

Project #46 completed 9th October 2022