Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A Grand Day Out!

When it was first announced that the Sprat & Winkle Quilters would be having a Quilt Shop Hop on Saturday 30th October 2021, I immediately put my name down to join the band!

The plan was to travel by hired coach to visit two quilt shops. The first was Village Fabrics based in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and the second, Lady Sew & Sew in Henley-on-Thames.

We met at 8.30 am in a local out-of-town car park armed with shopping lists, money and packed lunches. After a mad dash across the car park in the pouring rain I settled into my seat in the luxurious coach.

Although we arrived a little early at Village Fabrics, they were ready for us! A very informative talk given by Yvonne McAtamney the owner of the store followed by an enthusiastic shop, filling our wicker baskets with many sewing goodies and a l-o-n-g browse around. I bought 4 metres of a pretty cotton print for dressmaking, some Christmas print layer cakes and a panel kit for ‘Winter Chill’.

After a quick introduction we were let loose in most enjoyable (and for me expensive with just two purchases!) tour of the store. I bought 5½ metres of Kaffe Fassett fabric that I plan to make up into my version of Vogue 8577. I also topped up my store of lightweight calico for toile making.

By 4pm we were all very tired and happy to re-join the coach for a, what turned out to be, busy trip home. First there was the judging of the ‘Name the Quilt Block’ competition – that I won! Lorraine and Kate then took over with a Wordsearch game followed by Sewing Bingo. There were also some more raffle prize draws.

We arrived back at the car park in good time and I was home well before the heavens opened for yet more rain.

Caroline Gilham 31st October 2021.

Recycling Bathroom Mules

Hot on the tails of using up remnants of fabric from my stash, I used some leftovers from other projects to recycle/refresh/renew two pairs of bathroom mules.

The originals were purchased from The White Company several years ago. I notice that the current mules offered on the site have changed and they now have a hard sole as opposed to the thin ’embossed plastic’ that is on my current ones.

Both pairs are made from the Duck Egg Blue background remnants of a Superking-sized duvet cover originally purchased from Dunelm and made up into nightdresses, dressing gown, toilet and cosmetic pouches. I am an avid coordinator!

For the first pair, which have previously been ‘refreshed’ several times, I quilted in a diagonal grid. The bonus for this particular pair is that they are ‘unifoot’ in that they can be worn on either foot.

The second pair are newer and have been re-designed by The White Company. Now there is a definite left and right mule and the instep pattern piece has been extended so that there is less chance of the mule slipping off your foot. The second pair has the quilting in a square grid.

I love these mules as they are so comfortable and just right for use in the bathrooms when walking on the cold floors.

Projects #48 & #49 completed 28th July 2021

New Dress – size 18

A new dress in size 18 – 18 inches that is!

About 15-20 years ago I used to enjoy making soft-bodied porcelain dolls and dressing them. Although most of the dolls have gone on to new homes, there are still a few that I have kept. When trying to get some order in the chaos that is my stash of fabrics I came across a pattern and a ready-cut-out dress for an 18 inch doll.

As two of my dolls were in dire need of new ‘frocks’ this seemed like a good opportunity to get at least one of them made up.

I have used this pattern as a starting point for many dolls clothes. Although working on a very small scale the sewing is straightforward and fairly easy to complete.

Stitching this dress was a pleasure and made for a very nice change to the trouser-making that is my current project. The seam allowance for dolls clothes making is 1/4 inch and most was sewn on my sewing machine with a little seam neatening by zi-zag stitching or on the overlocker. There are three buttons and buttonholes on the back bodice which makes it easy to dress the doll.

Now at least one of the ‘girls’ has a new dress, I will have to find some fabric for the other so that she does not become jealous!

Project #40completed 25th May 2021

Sewing Socks!

Many, many years ago I knitted my one and only pair of handmade socks. I used a fine yarn and a set of 4 needles. The pair took a very long time to make! Using a FREE PDF pattern from Ellie & Mac made my first pair of fabric socks in less than 1/2 an hour! The socks are a great way to use scraps and perfect for giving! The pattern includes sizes for kids and adults.  

My first trial pair were made using a scrap of cotton jersey left over from a nightdress commission and had minimum stretch. Although the pattern actually calls for a 50% stretch, these still fit although a little over-stretched across the instep. (Completed 20th December 2020)

For the second pair I used some leftover cotton/spandex jersey bought from New Threads from which I had made KWIK SEW 3915 Top for a friend’s Christmas Gift. This pair are good but I think in future I will increase the length of the cuffing as otherwise I may get an indentation on my ankle.

The next pair were made from a remnant of Viscose Jersey bought from a shop in the Goldhawk Road and made into a Moneta dress. This is the most ‘stretchy’ of the fabrics I have used so far but also has a slightly synthetic feel so still not absolutely 10 out of 10.

For now I am leaving the socks behind whilst I get on with the ‘Jane’ pinafore dress that has been waiting in the wings for ages!

Projects: #77,78,79 finally completed 21st December 2020

Christmas Gifts

I still make just a few handmade gifts for family and friends at Christmas. This year I admit that I left it quite late!

Firstly was a redwork embroidered cushion using linen from my stash, embroidery motifs purchased from emblibrary.com and finished with some red satin piping. I hand embroidered the running stitch circle enclosing the various motifs. This cushion was wrapped and posted to my pen pal in Germany. Apparently it arrived before the gifts that I had posted to UK recipients on the same day! But at least they did all arrive before Christmas.

Next I made a scented hanger in Christmas printed cotton that I then filled with a sachet of Christmas scents. The aroma was so strong that even when wrapped there was a powerful clue as to what was contained.

The final gift for a neighbour was a padded coat hanger cover and co-ordinating fabric scented hangers. The fabric came from a stash of fat quarters that I bought several years ago. The scented hangers were ‘essence of Provence’ which I thought was a good choice to match the style of the printed cotton fabric. The cover is made so that one can put items inside. An ideal storage for co-ordinating jewellery, scarves or tights for whichever garment is on the hanger.

Projects #73-74-75 All these items were completed by 16th December 2020

NHS Scrubs Set

Well that is something that I never thought I would sew! A call has gone out and ladies (and gents) throughout the land are putting their sewing skills to good use and making Scrubs for our stars in the NHS.

I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from Franklins with an offer for the pattern and a kit of suitable Polyester/cotton fabric, interfacing and twill tape for just £20. I chose the Dark Navy colour and within a couple of days the parcel arrived.

It took a few more days (well in truth – a week) for me to put together the pattern and finish the current project (yet another TNT ‘Kitty’ dress) before I could re-thread the sewing machine and overlocker in preparation of making the Scrubs.

In the end I chose to make the set using the PDF pattern supplied by Sewmesomething.

Sew me Something FREE Scrubs pattern

Sew me something state: After speaking with friends who are NHS workers we have included several features they specifically requested. The Scrubs Top has grown on sleeves to make it easier to wear and quicker to sew, the facing is stitched down so it’s not uncomfortable and there are side vents again for ease and comfort. The trousers have side pockets and a drawstring waist so you don’t have to worry about elastic sizes, and they are easier to get on and off. The patch pocket can be used on both the Top and the Trousers so again, quicker to sew and it means there are lots of handy places to tuck stuff. Polycotton is apparently better than 100% cotton, so we have some in stock to use for this pattern.

Sewing was straightforward and when in doubt I could easily tune to the Youtube tutorial prepared by Jules of SMS.

Completed Scrubs Top

As I had plenty of fabric, I elected to make the largest size XXL which comes out as a 57 inch chest on the tunic and 54 inch hip for the trousers, leg width 12 inches. A couple of sessions of sewing and the set was completed.

Although I had an address for the hospital in Southampton I also joined a facebook group based on Salisbury which is a great deal closer to my home. After some messaging I was able to arrange for the set to be collected for onward transmission to the Salisbury hospitals and health centres. I hope that whoever gets to wear them enjoys them whilst staying healthy providing the essential care and support that the NHS provides to us all.

Now that I have the pattern, if I have sufficient yardage in my stash I hope to make some smaller-sized sets in cheerful printed fabrics.

Modelling the XXL Scrubs – too big!!

When these extraordinary times are behind us, I may well make up the tunic and trousers in my husband’s and my size to wear as pyjamas!

Sewcial Retreat March 2020

I recently attended a Sewcial Retreat arranged by Viv of Purple Stitches, a Patchwork & Quilting store based in Basingstoke. This is the second time that I have attended the Retreat which is held at a the VOCO Oxford Thames hotel on the outskirts of the city.

This time I was joined on the retreat by my good friend Pat so was able to share the journey and accommodation.

Fun, Laughter and Shared Sewing

One of the activities is a Secret Sister gift making and sharing. This time the project was a pin cushion and having checked out the instagram feed of my selected partner I made the pin cushion in her favourite colour and featuring her favourite pet – a cat.

Pin Cushion for Jackie

Jackie was delighted with her gift as was I with my reversible Bicornu pin cushion.

Reversible Bicornu Pin Cushion
Reversible Bicornu Pin Cushion

Whilst at the retreat I was able to make three garments and undertake a new technique – ‘Quilt as You Go’ more posts later…..

Grey Luna Lapin

Whilst on a roll of gift-making I thought I would make another Luna Lapin. This time I used some Pale Grey felt plus some spare pieces of quilting weight cotton print from a charm pack for the insides of the ears and soles of the feet.

The Luna came together very quickly and despite the fact that I always avoid hand stitching as much as possible, actually enjoyed the process.

Having completed Luna, I took the time to add a fluffy tail to her and the previous iteration using a pom-pom maker. I have never used this item before and it certainly made pom poms very quick and easy to produce. I still have to make clothes so both ‘girls’ are currently naked.

Grey Luna Lapin

I later changed my mind about giving this Luna as a gift, in the meantime she shares a place on the pillow of the spare bed with the first Luna and my ancient Teddy Bear!

completed 4th December 2019

Mini Laundry Bin

I felt in need of a simple sew before embarking on the next dressmaking project. I had a couple of ‘laundry’ related printed fat quarters in my stash and was inspired by an article in an old sewing magazine to sew a fabric bin.

A great quick and easy sewing project, this mini laundry bin was completed within an hour. The bin is lined with car headliner foam (an alternative to Bosal foam) which makes it self-supporting. The bin has a diameter of approximately 10 inches and stands about 12 inches high. Just the right height to stand on the work surface and beneath the wall cabinets.

Mini Laundry Bin

A useful addition to our utility room. This is a handy storage bin for hand towels and tea towels prior to loading the washing machine.

Next stop is a similar bin to use for glass awaiting a trip to the re-cycling centre.

Festival of Quilts 2019

It is now almost one month since I joined the coach trip to visit the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham. I visited with my friend Pat and we were joined at the Festival by another friend who had travelled from Chiswick. We all had a great day and for once the weather was brilliant sunshine.

There were so many quilts and shopping opportunities, I did not really know where to start. In the end, we started with the shopping – no change there then. I had a list – I did not stick to it!

From the Fabrics Galore stand I bought another 2 metres of my favourite Frida Kahlo printed cotton which is destined to be a simple shift dress to showcase the design.

Frida Kahlo |Border print

I also bought 4 metres of an unnamed cotton lawn at the bargain price of just £6/metre which has since been made up into my second version of Vogue 8577.

Unidentified Cotton Lawn – BARGAIN
Vogue 8577

From the Lewis & Irene stand I collected some free patchwork patterns, and a hug from one of the owners of the company (he remembered me from a talk where I had worn a dress in Lewis & Irene print fabric)!

On to the Thimbles stand which I visited twice. On the first visit I bought some leaf print (Monstera Deliciosa) which I intend to make up into a bag.

Leaf print heavyweight cotton for bagmaking

The second visit I bought this beautiful Tapestry-style fabric with Roses plus 4 lengths of faux leather with a snakeskin finish.

Roses Tapestry fabric + Faux Leathers

The Roses and Red faux leather will be made up into a Companion Carpet Bag (pattern by Mrs H).

Mrs H Companion Carpet Bag

I have already sewn some of the Gold finish as an accent on a pouch (detailed post coming shortly) and I have plans for several new style bags which will utilise the Black & Navy-coloured faux leathers.

After a break for lunch (a very tasty Haloumi salad) we viewed a few more of the many, many quilts before returning to the shopping hall. We visited the Sewing Quarter stand where I had the opportunity to chat to John Scott – what a lovely man.

We then visited Rosenberg & Sons’ stand. I was ‘persuaded’ to buy some beautiful boiled wool in Blue to make a jacket (Simplicity 4032) and a remnant of Mustard boiled wool to make a ‘hack’ waistcoat/vest from the same pattern.

Another break for afternoon tea and a further browse of the quilts before a rest and relaxation whilst we waited for the coach and journey home.

I loved my visit (not sure my credit card was as keen) although I did find it very tiring. Bearing in mind the size of my fabric stash (I swear the fabrics reproduce overnight) and lack of resistance when it comes to fabric buying, perhaps I should refrain from attending any more shows for a while until I have reduced my ‘stock’ and the bank account has recovered!