Friday, 30 September 2011

Home-made bedding with Applique frogs and lilypads

Hello everyone,

Another project I have made in the last couple of months. I recently moved home, which is always a catalyst and excuse for new homeware projects, including this bedding set. I was inspired after seeing wide width fabrics (94 " / 238 cm) available at I hadn't thought about it before, but I knew it couldn't be too difficult and thought I would have a go.

It is a little disappointing as the fabric only comes in white poly cotton, which isn't the best for dyeing as you will never get a really rich colour. However at £2.99/ meter it offers good value for everyday bedding. I made a kingsize sheet, duvet cover and 4 pillowcases with approximately 6-6.5 meters of fabric (Apologies I don't know the exact amount as I bought a total of 10 meters as it is useful to have some plain fabric for small random projects). The most difficult was sewing the elasticated edges of the sheet, the rest is pretty simple squares and rectangles. I used button fastening for the duvet cover.

I used some plain white cotton fabric for the applique frogs and lily pads as I had hope they would dye a couple of shades darker than the poly cotton and really stand out. This didn't  quite turn out to be the case and they are only slightly darker than the main fabric, luckily I had chosen a dark thread which helps them to stand out.

I drew the pattern of the frog free hand on paper before tracing it on to iron-on interfacing. I ironed the interfacing onto the fabric and then cut around the outline before pinning and stitching to the main fabric using a short zig-zag stitch. I appliqued lily pads in the same way. I also used a simple straight stitch to add lily pads under each frogs, after marking the outline directly onto the fabric using a pencil.

I dyed the whole lot using 2 packs of dylon fabric dye in Bahama Blue 2/3s of a pack in yellow to produce a nice green/turquoise and apart from the frogs not dyeing darker I really love the colour. I usually have dark purple bedding so this makes a bright and fresh alternative.

Making bedding is quite a big project, not in difficulty but cutting and sewing this amount of fabric can be a bit laborious and I did it over a couple of weeks, although it shouldn't take that long.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Simplicity 2281

Hi Everyone,

 I have busy making lots of different projects, although hindered by the fact my sewing machine has decided to pack up after 13 years :( not able to handle my new found enthusiasm I fear. It has resulted in me sewing a few projects by hand, which is not as laborious as I had assumed and is a much more relaxed way of sewing as you have less tools and can pick your project up while on the sofa. I have made a leather handbag by hand which was much less stressful than trying it on my machine- could have been part of its downfall, but I will post on that later. I have also made this simplicity dress by hand. It is quite a simple design, compared to the other simplicity dress I made (see here and here) and it only took a few days to finish.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Simplicity 2250 summer dress- 2

 Hello Everyone,

At last the sun is back again this week, which is great as I have a chance to wear the second simplicity 2250 dress I have made. It is made of a polyester crepe from Fabrics Galore in a navy and white polka dot, which was £6 a meter and looks quite a lot like a silk crepe although it wouldn't be suitable for anything close fitting as it isn't breathable. However it doesn't crease at all so it is perfect for a day dress and it reminds me of the silk dresses you see in whistles and Hobbs etc.

The crepe is quite drapey which makes it quite difficult to cut and as it is synthetic the dressmakers chalk rubs off easily and isn't really suitable. I read later that it is best to mark synthetics by tacking the pattern lines. Because of this the bodice isn't perfect and it a little baggy compared to the lining, but the pleats still look attractive (see picture below) although they are not as obvious as on the plain cotton, except up close.

It is quite different to the yellow version I showed in my last post. As I said in my last post I needed the size down from the measurements shown on the size chart, although it is still slightly a bit big around the waist, maybe I am not simplicity shaped! Be interested if anyone else has the same problem?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Simplicity 2250 Summer Dress

Hello Everyone,

Simplicity 2250 dress
I haven't posted in a while but I have been making quite a few projects. The most recent of which is this yellow summer dress from Simplicity's spring/ summer collection. I saw the patter in the February issue of Sew Magazine (which I got a subscription to for Christmas) and immediately wanted to make it. I have never made a piece of clothing from scratch using a pattern so this was my first attempt. I was a bit nervous as the bodice has a number of pleats, darts and folds that are quite daunting when the pattern first arrives. However I was determined to press ahead and I am very pleased I did. I made the longer skirted version of the options given with the pattern with the thinner straps.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Kim Hargreaves Darcy- Finished!

Hello Everyone,

I have finally finished my Kim Hargreaves Darcy Jacket. After about six months of on-off knitting. I have to admit that I lost enthusiasm halfway through, as it was a lot of moss stitch and was growing so slowly. But I am very pleased that it is is finally finished.
I am 80% pleased with it. I love the moss stitch and the shape although I had hoped the peplum and pleats would be more dramatic, as they looked in the book. I wish the body and the sleeves were slightly longer, the sleeves are bracelet length on me and i prefer sleeves to fully cover my wrists. I think my tension started out a too tight and if I knit it again I would probably use a larger needle size. I think this has been a common problem as looking at others who have knit the same project of Ravelry, most seem shorter than on the model in the book. I would probably make the size up as well, so that I could wear it over more. Just shows what happens when you don't bother with a tension square! lesson learnt.

I wanted buttons similar to those in the book but I found it quite difficult to find in the colour I wanted. I finally found some that are squares.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Knit in the news- 23rd February 2011- Round up of London Fashion Week.

Hello Everyone,

here is a round up of some recent news stories that I think will be of interest to those interested in textiles crafts. The last knit in the news posts have featured a lot about how people have been using knitting and sewing to make a difference and help charitable causes.

Being London fashion week I thought I would have a focus on textiles outside the home-made and include some knitwear trends that might inspire and also how textiles are affecting big business or vice versa.

I have always felt that learning to knit and sew well for me is to be able to make things that I really want as well as enjoying the process of creating them and so I try to create things that I would buy if I saw them in a shop. So it s interesting to keep up with trends and work out how I can work them into my own creations if possible. I am not sure if I have managed this so far, but maybe you will have better luck, at least you have until next autumn/winter to figure it out!

Major retailers, including well known international brands including GAP, stand up against inhumane wool practices.

Mark Fast- High fashion knitting.
Mark Fast is a Woolmark sponsored designer well known for his creatively knitted pieces and his spring-summer 2011 show is no exception, showing how versatile knitwear can be. You can view pictures here and the catwalk finale on YouTube here.

Vivienne Westwood- Red label. 
Vivienne Westwood has spoken out supporting British wool and advocates quality clothing as opposed to today's throw away fashion. Which is something most of us who spent time creating our own garments can identify with, especially when you are think long and hard about how you will wear it and the best type of wool to use etc.  Vivienne's Autumn winter show include lots of knitted cardigans, dresses and socks mainly of the fine knit variety but there are definitely pieces which are accessible to the average knitter, more so that Mark Fast anyhow. see pictures here.

Pringle of Scotland
Pringle is the quintessential knitwear label creating interesting but pared-down wearable knitwear and is the most likely designer you could take ideas from to incorporate into your own projects or designs. Being Scottish there are lots of cosy, snuggle-up pieces and lots of layering of knitwear. Here as at Burberry Prorsum fur and wool are combined to make interesting silhouettes and no-doubt very warm garments. See photos here. You can also see the full Burberry Prorsum show on YouTube although it is quite light on knitwear.

John Rocha
Texture was the theme for John Rocha's autumn/winter 2011 show and includes what can only be describes as some crazy pieces featuring wool in various guises. I love the piece at the beginning where layers of wool are used to create a rather extreme silhouette. Later pieces include some very delicate and beautiful crochet  dresses which are very wearable and would also be good for spring summer in lighter colours. See pics here.

I have focused on designers which have an interesting use of knitwear, but there are many more and they can all be viewed on which has a useful tool letting you zoom in to look at the detail.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Woven Leather Handbage/ Purse- How to..

Hello everyone,

Further to my last post I have been working on my next leather project- this very cute and practical woven handbag. Weaving really eats fabric but I think that it is worth it as it creates a very simple but luxurious finish. I have a slight obsession with textured leather and this bag was inspired by Bottega Veneta, which is an Italian label famous for their woven leather goods (see here). I wanted to make a small shoulderbag and based the shape on the pockets from the woollen handbag I made a few weeks ago. I planed to make two large egg shapes joined together, however I later decided to add a zip, as I thought this would be a perfect evening bag and lipsticks and phones are best kept secure. This did cause a logistical problem in that if I had decided to add a zip at the beginning I would have made the main bag and the handles separately as the looped shape meant that I had to sewn the inside of the handle together from the outside (difficult to explain, but if you try it you'll see!)

Again I used the leather from my old leather jacket which is very soft and I also used the black polyester lining from the jacket, so it didn't cost me anything to make.
1) I started by drawing the pattern, I drew the shape free hand. I only drew half and cut the fabric on the fold so it was symmetrical, see below. I cut two pieces of cream cotton linen as a base fabric as I had some in my stash although I would have preferred to use black fabric to prevent it showing through the gaps in the weave.

pattern and base fabric
2) I unpicked the all the seams from my leather jacked and cut off the seam allowances to create neat pieces of leather. I cut 1cm wide strips, I cut them by eye with scissors but in the future I would use a craft knife and a ruler.

3) I wove the leather over the base cotton in a diagonal pattern to complement the shape of the bag. I lined up one layer of fabric and sewed it to secure it at one end so that I could weave leather in the other direction. As it is difficult to pin through the leather once I had woven all the leather I covered the fabric with a piece of paper and sewed through it to prevent the strips of leather catching on the machine foot. When I was finished sewing I simply ripped the paper off. Repeated for the other side.

Sewn through the backing fabric and paper.
4)  I then inserted the zip on one of the armhole, sewing it teeth facing down on the right side of the leather, so it turns in to create a neat seam. 
5) I then sewed the two pieces of fabric right sides together, sewing all the way around to create the bag before cutting away the cotton base fabric close to the seam to prevent it showing through the weave. I would have preferred to have left it in to give the bag some extra support and help maintain its shape and I would have had I used a black base fabric.
6) I then attached the zip to the other side of the armhole.
7) I then cut two pieces of lining fabric using the pattern omitting the handles.
8) I cheated and used a pocket that was already made up from my leather jacket and inserted it to one of the main pieces of fabric, similarly as with the pocket in my woven leather purse (see here). I then pined the lining to the zip fabric folding over the edge as I went to cover the seam.
9) I then turned the bag the right way out and sewed the inside of the handle, folding in the edges as I went.
10) Next I sewed the lining, adding a couple of stitches to join the bottom of the lining to the seam allowance at the bottom of the bag to prevent it turning inside out when I take things out of the bag. And voila.

This bag was made unnecessarily difficult by my late decision to add a zip after I had cut and woven the leather. Had I not chosen to add the zip the bag would have been easier and would probably had a neater finish, but the bag is much more usable now. If I had made the decision at the start I would have used  a simpler shape or made the handles separately.  Despite the difficulties I now have a really sumptuous bag that I think I will be using regularly.
Time taken: Roughly 10 hours- the weaving takes some time.
My difficulty rating: 7/10 

I hope these instructions are helpful, but if you would like any more details or tips, leave me a comment or send me an email.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Woven leather purse- How to

Hello everyone,

I have been wanting to make something with leather for ages, and I finally did this weekend. My 12 year old leather jacket was sacrificed and shredded to make this great little woven purse. The leather (being so old) is really soft and feels quite luxurious, and I suppose it is as weaving leather uses twice as much as it creates a double layer. This was my second attempt as the first purse I made was too big and the zip did not close properly (see below), so I un-picked it and started again and it turned out much better second-time around.
First attempt

I started  with a piece of cotton upholstery fabric (left over from my beanbag) cut into a square and strips of leather about 1cm wide. I lined up one layer of leather strips across the cotton and sewed across one end. I placed a piece of paper on top of the leather as the machine foot was pushing the strips out of line as I could not pin through them and I had to keep the fabric flat to keep them in place. I then wove further leather strips horizontally one by one and secured the vertical strips by sewing across the other end.
 On the second attempt I used a black piece of lining fabric between the leather and the cotton as the cotton was a pale colour and showed through the gaps, You could just use a black piece of cotton instead.
I then inserted the zip, placing the outside edge of the zip (non-teeth side) along the edge of the fabric on the right (leather) side to create a neat seam hiding the edge of the leather/fabric square, and attaching the other side of the zip to the other end. 

I then joined up the sides and attached the lining to the zip fabric folding over the edge as I went, I sewed the side together before attaching the lining to the other side and turning the right way out. I used a polyester lining an inserted a pocket and made a (rather wonky) card pocket by concertinaing a strip of fabric and sewing each side to secure it. I made the pocket by cutting a slit in the main lining fabric and pinning another piece of lining on the back of the lower side of the pocket slit. I then attached the zip through the slit and folded the pocket lining in half to make the pocket shape and sewed up the sides. The top edge of the pocket lining was sewn at the same time as the main lining to the main zip. I made the pockets before attaching the lining. 

I am really pleased with the final product. It is a soft and slouchy purse but as the sides are secured it holds its shape well. On my first attempt the zip went round three sides of the purse and so I needed extra lining to join the sides together so that the purse didn't flap ope when the zip was undone. I also put some cardboard between the lining and leather to help it keep its shape, but this made the purse to hard and misshapen and the zip did not close properly. On the second attempt the purse was smaller and because it is slouchy it does not need to open all the way round to be able to access the pocket and things inside.

Let me know what you think.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Wool pocket handbag

Hello Everyone,

Here is my most recent project- Just finished. I made this bag as another present using a pattern in Ruth Singer's Sew it Up.

 The outer fabric is a woven wool from Cloth House in Soho. The book says you need 1 meter of fabric, but I couldn't imagine it would take that much fabric so I got 60cm which was more than enough, in fact I probably have enough to make another bag. The lining is a synthetic in a bright orange also from Cloth House, as recommended I bought 50cm, which is the right width but I still have enough for another bag. The fabric were a wide width so maybe that is the reason I have so much left over.

The patter was very clear and I made this bag in about 2-3 hours, despite working slowly to get as professional a finish as possible. First you attach the egg shaped pockets on to the front and the bag and the handles. The next step is to insert the zip which
 joins the two side of the bag together.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Knit in the News 12.01.2011


My post on the the Macmillian INFI-KNIT project (see here), has been the most popular so I decided to do a regular round up of knitting/sewing stories from around the world where knitting is making a difference. Can knitting change the world? Knit is the news will also feature stories on sewing and crochet and any other textile stories I thin you might find interesting.

UK wool on the up
The first story is from the BBC news website (10.01.2011), showing how our knitting is helping to support the British wool industry and exports increase as we shun synthetics in favour of more natural fabrics- so let's keep it up!

Knitting Women Help Children in Africa
Another story to inspire. According to, women in North Wales have been feverishly knitting to provide jumpers for children in Africa, 8 women knitting 100 jumpers!

Can I sew and be green?
This article in the UK Guardian asks a question I think will interest many people who make there own textiles ans it definitely feels more holistic and green and seems to fit with the "make do and mend" attitude.
More knitting in the news soon

Investment in wool research
I guess wool is more complicated than I thought. New Zealanders seem to think so anyway.$17-point-25-million-in-wool-research


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Giant bean bag and footstool

Hello Everyone,

Here is another sewing project which was pretty quick and fun to make and has make a very welcome addition to my home.  I made the bean bag for my boyfriend who has wanted one for years. I was spurred on by Kirstie's homemade home which showed you how to make a very simple bean bag and I made a miniature version as a footstool.

I wanted the finished bean bag to be a meter across so I used a bit of maths to work out the circumference (diameter x pie) 100cm x pie=314cm. The bean bag is made out of 4 pear shaped pieces so I divided the circumference by four (314/4=78.5), which I rounded up to 80cms. I then drew a miniature version of the pattern 8cms across and it worked out at the right shape at about 14cm tall. So the final patter worked out as 4 pear shaped pieces of fabric 80cms across and 140cms tall (see picture below).

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Silk envelope clutch bag


This is a project that I just love and really enjoyed making. It was another gift but I also made myself one too so I don't have to covet selfishly- this time.

I had in mind what I wanted and went looking for fabric on Berwick street in Soho. I wanted to go and have a rummage at the fabric stores there as I had never been before and this was a good excuse. I have since been back to get specialist silk fabric for the tie I made, see previous post here. I found the fabric in the Silk Society, which is a specialist silk supplier and has some really beautiful fabrics, like beaded and textured silks for bridal wear which are amazing and nice just to look at.

Chritmas cable knit hat

Hello everyone,

Another Christmas present. I adapted this pattern from the hat I showed in my previous post with a double rib trim and and a simple garter stitch body. This hat was knit on 10mm needles with Rowan big wool. I had some wool left over so started and when I ran out bought a new ball online in the closest colour I could find as I forgot what the original ball was. The new ball was in blue velvet and you can see the difference in the two sections but I didn't mind as I think hats look good in a couple of colours.

I did a double rib (k2p2) for a couple of inches and then switched to k2p6 repeated six times across each row and cabled the purl stitches every eighth row twice before decreasing the crown. I wish I had done a shorter rib so I could have fitted in another cable twist or just cabled the entire hat as I think they look really attractive, especially in a chunky wool- again I want one for myself now.  Here is a picture in progress:

I did knit another hat the same for my brother but it wasn't big enough to fir over his hair so I plan to make another rasta style hat when I get another ball of the blue velvet that gets wider after the rim before narrowing towards the crown so I think that will be a be a simple garter stitch, unless I do cables far apart and only increase in the intervening panels. I will think about it and let you know when I make up my mind- ideas welcome.


Kim hargreaves- Flourish scarf

Hi everyone,

here as promised is the first of the Christmas presents I made, which is another Kim Hargreaves patterns from the Darkhouse collection. This flourish scarf is crochet in Rowan Kidsilk haze in meadow, holding two strands as one, using a 9mm crochet hook. This is the first thing I have ever crocheted and I was persuaded to have a go after seeing this pattern and falling in love.

 The yarn is a mixture of mohair and silk so it is incredibly soft and fuzzy/fluffy and the mohair should make it warm even though it is holey. This scarf was quick to knit up and I plan to make another for myself is a bright colour. The only thing I would say is that this scarf uses four calls of the Kidsilk Haze and at £8 a ball is quite expensive for a scarf- but it is a luxury I guess. I was wary of running out of wool as I have read on other blogs has happened to others and think I started to crochet tighter as I went but I had just enough.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Macmillan INFI-KNIT- knitting for a good cause


I thought I would share this knitting relevant post as it is a good cause. Macmillian cancer are asking people what keeps them warm in support of cancer patients who struggle to afford heating. Tell them what keeps you warm and you automatically add a section to a scarf which will be given to the government as a petition- Longer the better- check out the link below.

I've knitted my bit of Macmillan's woolly scarf petition to make sure people with cancer can keep warm without the worry. You can get knitting too.
My knit

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Patterned book bag

Hello Everyone,

I am going to do some posts on all the presents I made for Christmas over the next couple of days. But first here is a bag I made a couple of months back for a friends birthday. The week before her birthday I went to the knitting and stitching show at Alexandra Palace in North London. I didn't buy much, but I did spend ages on the stand for the Button Company which had a really wide selection of cotton fabrics in loads of beautiful prints and I wanted most of them, but limited myself to two to make this really pretty bag. The outer fabric is slightly heavier cotton a bit like thick linen and the lining is typical lightweight cotton

The idea for the book bag came from a book I bought when I first decided to start sewing more called Sew it Up by Ruth Singer, which includes this book bag project. And when I saw this bird patterned fabric I knew my friend would love it and bought a contrasting cotton for the lining.

I was really pleased how the bag turned out and plan to make a similar bag for myself as they are so handy and I didn't really want to give this bag away- A common problem for me!