Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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.

VOCO Oxford Thames
VOCO Oxford Thames

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!

Luna Lapin

I am often inspired by my stitching friends and on this occasion I was delighted to meet Luna Lapin made by Maureen. Apparently this charming felt rabbit is all over the internet and even has her own facebook page.

Luna Lapin Book

My friend loaned me her copy of the book that is complete with full-size patterns. I ordered up some wool felt and as soon as it arrived I was off!

Luna Lapin mark 1

I am not known for a love of hand sewing but I really enjoyed stitching Luna and am very pleased with the result. Currently she is naked (gasp!) but I do plan to make a set of clothes to be topped off by the Pale Blue coat featured on the cover of the book. There will also be the pretty comfy armchair, instructions for which are included in the book.

I can’t go outside with no clothes on!

I hope to make her friend – Alfie who, together with his wardrobe of clothes, is also featured in the book.

Re-cycled Mules

In the past I have purchased White Waffle cotton mules from The White Company. After several years of wear and washing they have disintegrated until there was very little remaining of the fabric uppers. However, the embossed plastic soles were still good.

Here was a great opportunity to re-cycle.

I unpicked the uppers, the foam insoles, bias binding trim and fabric insoles that I then used to draft paper patterns for both the uppers and the fabric sole liners.

Using a fat quarter of my favourite Teal coloured cotton print I made new uppers and binding. It was a chance to make some lattice quilting on the upper and provide some extra padding underfoot.

Re-cycled Mules

The mules went together very easily and quickly and I am very pleased with my new footwear. Now I just need to locate the other old pair of White Waffle cotton mules and re-cycle them.

Scissors Cases & Clam-shaped Pouch

I originally had 4 metres of the Red background floral printed cotton that I have been using for the sewing accessories. I checked the amount left and thought I had better check to see there was sufficient for a dress. There was and I will be posting photographs etc., as soon as the hem has been finished. So back to some more accessories…..

I used a couple of TNT patterns to make 2 scissors cases. The large one will take pinking shears and dressmaking scissors whilst the smaller one is just right for a small pair of scissors plus a stitch ripper. I used a double button for the closure on the large case and a White KAM snap on the small. Neat!

Regular readers of my blog will have seen several versions of the clam-shaped pouch (sometimes referred to as a ‘dumpling’). This iteration was made using some leftover Bosal ® wadding with a plain White poly/cotton lining. I have run out of Red zipper pulls so instead used White plus some Yellow hair bungees for the pulls.

Now I have just two more small items – an extra small pouch for my wonder clips and a small storage ‘bin’ for odds and ends to put by the side of my machine whilst I am working.

Then finally, I will have used just about every scrap of the 4 metres and move onto dressmaking projects that have been cut out and are ready-to-sew:- a spring-themed cotton print dress and two jersey tops.

Needle Organiser

Needle Organiser (C) New Threads Quilt Shop

Over the years I have found several ‘must have’ accessories that make my sewing life easier. This needle organiser designed by Meg Leach of New Threads Quilt Shop is just one of those items.

“Have you ever wondered what needle was in your sewing machine? Do you lose your needles or get them mixed up? Keep track of them with this handy needle organiser. Whenever you put a needle into your machine, place the daisy-headed pin in the appropriate section of the needle organiser and you will never wonder again.”

I have made many of these organisers to gift to my sewing friends and of course I needed to have a coordinated one to take on the Sewcial Retreat.

The panel is printed onto cotton which is then bordered with 1.25 inch wide strips and a backing added. I insert a piece of thick card (which stops the needles poking out at the back) before stuffing firmly with polyester toy filling.

Completed needle organiser does exactly what it says on the tin!

Machine Needle Storage Pouch

Now that I have a smart new needle organiser I also needed some form or pouch or purse in which to store new and unused needles. I was inspired by the clear vinyl pockets that are in the Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser by Annie Unrein and also the Peek-a-boo pouch by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield featured on the sewcanshe.com website. This roll-up pouch seems to be the answer.

I cut a long length of my chosen outer fabric, layered it up with some trellis pre-printed wadding and quilted. I then layered up some plain White polyester cotton which I quilted in channels approximately 1 inch apart.

I cut 4 pieces of clear vinyl the width of my outer panel x roughly 3 inches deep. I made bindings for the tops and bottoms of each vinyl panel from 1.25 inch printed fabric. It was easy to slide the vinyl into the folded bindings and because there was fabric top and bottom, the machine coped well with feeding the fabric through for stitching.

I placed each vinyl pocket onto the lining panel and stitched the bottom edge of each binding. I then basted the sides to the lining panel. Next was the slightly more difficult bit of stitching as the vinyl kept sticking to the underside of the foot. However, with determination I succeeded in stitching sections through each pocket to make a total of 12 sections.

I added a Gold sparkly bungee loop to the top edge of the outer panel together with a ‘handmade’ faux leather label. I placed the outer and lining panels right sides together and stitched around both long edges and the short edge where the loop was basted. Turning through to right side out was a little fiddly and I carefully pressed the fabric, taking care to avoid the iron coming into contact with the vinyl. I turned in the final short edge and hand stitched closed.

I folded up the pouch and checked button placement. I found this lovely ‘jewel’ button in my stash which is the icing on the cake!

Now that I have a pouch for my woven fabric needles, I need to make a second one for storage of the jersey/stretch fabric machine needles but that can wait for another day……

Daisy the Dachshund Pin Dog

Daisy the Dachshund

As part of my new coordinated set of sewing accessories that I want to take with me to the Sewcial Retreat in Oxford next month, I have just completed a new Pin Dog. This is a favourite TNT pattern that I have made many times. For this set of accessories I am using some pretty Red-background floral cotton print from Fabricland that has been in my stash for a very long time. Even after making the Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser featured in an earlier post plus the pin dog and a couple of pouches, I will still have sufficient fabric remaining to make a dress- but maybe not to wear to the Sewcial Retreat!

Daisy came together quickly and easily, the only real points to take special care of is the matching of the notches for the head gusset and the underbody gusset.

I used polyester toy stuffing, making sure that the tail and feet were well-stuffed before moving onto the head and body. Once fully stuffed, Daisy has her belly closed with some neat hand stitching. Her eyes are two black glass-headed pins that will be replaced with drawn eyes once I am completely happy with eye placement.

Finally, a pretty gold collar from a hair bungee to complete.

What I made in 2018

Be warned – this post is text only. A post of my favourite makes will follow shortly.

A Happy New Year to my readers – I know that there are not many of you but hopefully my subscribers will increase in 2019, especially if I finally manage to get a You Tube channel operational!

I have checked through my notebook of all the projects I made last year – phew! There were a lot! NINETY FOUR to be precise. But be advised – some were only very small, quick and easy projects and some were fails though thankfully not too many were the latter.

In 2019 I will be shopping my stash of patterns and fabrics for two reasons; 1 to reduce the quantity of sewing ‘stuff’ around the house and 2 – saving funds to be spent on experiences, travelling and making memories.

I will also be concentrating less on quantity and more on quality – I feel a need for some slow sewing to feed my soul.

When working in the financial services industry I needed formal business attire and when acting as President of a Women in Business Club, some ‘smart’ outfits. Now that I am fully retired my wardrobe requirements are much more for casual (and comfy!) garments to keep me warm in the winter, cool in the summer, emphasising any good figure features and hiding the bad. Although some people may think that dresses are less casual, I prefer them to separates although I have a feeling that I have made many tops throughout 2018.

Some of my working life skills have transferred to my personal life – I love a spreadsheet and from that I can see exactly which type of garments I have made most frequently, which fabrics stores and pattern companies I have used and more importantly what I need to concentrate of making in 2019 to fill gaps in my wardrobe.

My initial thoughts regarding which type of garment most frequently made has been borne out in the analysis of the spreadsheet. Twenty-three dresses and twenty-eight tops with only three pairs of trousers, two jackets, one gilet and just one skirt. I will continue with my love of making dresses but maybe cut back on the number of tops, although I still want to find my perfect raglan-sleeved top and tie front cardigan/shrug (to wear with sleeveless dresses). I usually wear tops and tunics with leggings, jeggings and jeans although I do also own a couple of RTW denim skirts. I don’t feel a particular need to make more skirts as they are my least favourite garment to wear. I would like to make a coat to wear over my full-skirted dresses, some fancy pyjamas for the sewing retreat and a pinafore dress as I have only one RTW denim version in my wardrobe.

Analysis of patterns used shows that only 9 projects were made using the major pattern company designs, Indie patterns are most definitely my preferred option. Fabrics were purchased mostly from Fabricland, New Threads Quilt Shop and the Textile Centre.

This analysis of my sewing through 2018 has been most interesting and informative. I will be continuing with my record-keeping and see what 2019 brings.