Taffy Top Pattern Hack

At last another pattern from the Colette Sewing Handbook Has become a garment instead of a an item on a list. I used some light weight brown linen that I had bought specifically for the Taffy in Utrecht. As I am stitching up an Autumn wardrobe I thought that using a needle cord for the edging would stop it looking too summery.

I took my time making the pattern and as it is cut on the bias I made full sized back & front pieces rather than flipping halves over. I used freezer paper again so my traced pattern pieces stayed steady during cutting. I lengthened the top to make a bias cut dress. The other addition I made was including a full belt rather than a half & I added tiny belt loops. This was because I couldn’t decide whethet to have it at the front or back, now I can have both. I almost scaled down the sleeves as they looked rather Mardi Gras meets Abba’s Dancing Queen, but decided  to trust the pattern. I am soooooooeeew glad did as they are beautiful.

A little bit Mardi Gras or Abba’s Dancing Queen?

In fact, this butterfly landed on the fence when I was making the pattern in the garden & it reminds me of the sleeves.

Butterfly blessing the sleeves

Maybe it was a special fluttery sleeves magic butterfly?

Once the cutting out was done it was on to my favourite bit: selecting the thread from my extensive collection. I narrowed it down to five but was stuck, brown, grey, beige, greige or slightly different brown. I was convinced it should be one of the Browns but consulted the beauty to be on the safe side.

Thread shortlist!

Thread shortlist!

She took her duties as Sewman Cowell very seriously and immediately pressed the buzzer on the Browns. I was briskly told to use the middle one as the others are cold colours and the fabric is warm toned. I did a little test stitch and of course she was correct.

The Taffy top is made up of four pieces making it remarkable easy to sew, allowing time to apply techniques such as French seams and binding. I made card templates to use as guides for even seam allowance and bias binding. I usually always use the red bias binding maker as my ruler is exactly the right width.

I tried it on Matilda and noticed that it was hanging oddly around my waist at the back, no matter how much adjusting of the belt I did it looked rather sack like. I inserted a couple of centre back diamond shaped darts and it worked a treat.

Taffy Top-Dress

Ignore the strange haze and colour of the photo, I have a Daylight Bulb in my Sewing Loft house & it makes photos look a bit odd. While I am on the subject, also ignore the badly pressed darts – I sorted them out don’t worry!

Colette Taffy Top Hack

Colette Taffy Top Hack

All in all I am really chuffed with my Dancing Queen Taffy dress & will make another soon.

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From Goth to Cloth

I squeezed in a quick up cycle on my last day before returning to work after an enjoyable & productive summer break. I turned the Beauty’s ratty old goth style footstool into a tempting tactile toadstool. What’s more, I didn’t spend a penny, since the big clear out I am trying hard to use what I have.

Footstool Makeover

Footstool Makeover

The footstool started life as a black goth-emo style footstool holding Kerang magazine later to be replaced by vogue mags. Either way it’s services were no longer required by the Beauty. I made her a nifty bespoke bed pocket specifically to meet her needs as a trade off. I think Her Bagesty was a bit miffed as she occasionally lounges on there when addressing her humble followers. (She left a collection of cat hairs for me to remove too.)

Her Bajesty (Badger the Cat) regally relaxing

Her Bajesty (Badger the Cat) regally relaxing

I eagerly fished out my tool kit ( a bradawl, a staple remover & a screw driver) and removed the dark cloak of miserable mystery.

Footstool Makeover

Shedding the cloak of darkness

Shedding the cloak of darkness

Next, my trusty chalk pain earnt its keep once again – such good value, it’s everlasting! I didn’t use the lilac/pink paint (as seen on the Sewing Throne & Bubble Quilt Chair) as I wanted some contrast so mixed a dash of white with duck egg blue for a pale aqua colour.

A fresh lick of paint

A fresh lick of paint

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I found some pink & blue polka dot fabric in my stash that sort of reminded me of Dolly Mixtures. Very appropriate, turn this festering footstool into  a fairy chair with sweetie style fabric! I also carved up an old linen dress that I no longer wear to use for the sides and the everlasting lilac fleece that i used to plump up Matilda for padding.
I made four strips of each fabric sandwiching the fleece in between, wrong sides together. I ‘weaved’ the fabric strips like a basket (after I had turned it out & pressed it) then added a bit of machine stitching wizardry.

Footstool Makeover

I ran a border of stitching around the perimeter, keeping it all in place with bull-dog clips, pin or tack before sewing. Or risk your needles and eyes & keep the clips in, no seriously don’t they would wiggle about anyway.

Add fancy pants stitching as desired

Add fancy pants stitching as desired

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The side panels were also embroidered, after sandwiching fleece between each of the four pieces. I used this bit as an opportunity to create a sampler, the stool will live in my sewing Lofthouse so I have a handy stitch reference.

I used the base piece of wood as a template to make a backing for the basket weave top and basted it to it. I then joined the four side panels at the short seams, making a rectangle without a top or bottom. The rectangle & top piece were joined in one continuous sew, pivoting at the corners. I reinforced the edge with interfacing added elastic around the bottom, stretching it as I sewed.

Next, pull it over the foam & wooden base, screw the legs on catching the corners tugging it into shape. You could staple or use upholstery tacks but as its pastel shades I wanted mine to be removable for washing.

Trim, snip, press & finish seams as you go using your preferred method, I am still punishing Mr Grey (my overlocker), I dusted his cover yesterday!

Ta Da, an enchanted, enticing perch perfect for pondering!

From festering footstool to fairy toadstool

From festering footstool to fairy toadstool

Footstool Makeover

Footstool Makeover

I have a largish wooden storage box to apply my wizardry to next, I will use the basket weaving quilting technique again on it.

Sew Long Sewing Summer

Sadly my summer sewathon is almost over I have to go back to work to earn the money to support my habit on Wednesday. Back to sewing at weekends although I plan to abolish my self imposed ‘ no sewing on a school night’ rule. Now that I have my Sewing Lofthouse I can leave projects out & complete a section each night.

Sew, onto the past weeks stitching wizardry, I started with an apron for the Wolf and mini aprons for the Flower Fairies.

Everything a Chef could need

Everything a Chef could need

Mini apronAlthough I constructed the apron credit for the design goes to the Wolf, he had very specific requirements:

  • A loop to keep him his grubby cloth thing on
  • a pocket for his tasting spoon
  • a front split to allow pacing around the kitchen
  • ties that are long enough to wrap around the front

The appliqué toadstool, rick rack pocket trim and decorative stitching were my contributions. I get the feeling that had these ‘optional extras’ really been an option they wouldn’t have been included!

Next up aprons for the Flower Fairies, I love making simple tiny items they are so quick to make and present endless opportunities for embellishments. Drafting  up a pattern was simple and the striped material made cutting out easy peasy.

Apron Pattern

This time the recipients were consulted  on their preferred appliqué motif. Giggy requested a strawberry as this is her favourite food. I rummaged through my scraps box for suitable fabric. I didn’t realise quite how much strawberry based fabric I had used over the past year so I had quite a choice!

Strawberry Fields Forever.......

Strawberry Fields Forever…….

Little Lou requested a fish as its his favourite food, when I gave him the apron he responded ‘ I like my fish cut up, no heads or tails please’.

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On to the Dutch Flower Fairy aprons now, the consulted my handsome son regarding preferred food sources for appliqué. He requested a fried egg for Olly, I introduced him to the Traditional northern delicacy a fried egg on toast on a recent holiday & it is now his favourite food. He is a British Northern boy at heart!  I decided on an apple for Lilly Rose & she is a baby  & mainly drinks mummy milk, I  went for a large bib rather than an apron.

Apron & bib imageI visited Ma Julie this week, while I was there I asked her if she remembered the scalloped edged gold pinking shears I received as a present when I was 11. She disappeared into her studio and five minutes later returned with them!

Gold Pinking ShearsThey are in remarkable nick for their age (rather like me!), I gave them a quick clean, a drop of machine oil & tightened the screw and they work a treat. Despite years of abuse they still cut a nice  wavy zig zag. They were made by Richards in Sheffield & certainly live up to their name: Golden Age Rustless.

Golden Age Rustless image

The blades are not as sharp as they once were (again, rather like me) but the curved edges are so cute.

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I finally made something from my Japanese Sewing book, I have been drooling over the designs and had some adorable Michael Miller fabric crying out to be transformed. There are 21 patterns with the book with instructions translated from Japanese.

http://www.amazon.com/Linen-Wool-Cotton-Kids-Comfortable/dp/1611801583/ref=la_B00IW0H43Q_1_1s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439808034&sr=1-1

The designs are simple and stylish but instructions are a bit sparse. The patterns are overlaid so  I highlighted the size I wanted with purple prior to tracing on to my beloved freezer paper. I had read that the sizings were on the small side so I used age four for Giggy who is nearly three. (The patterns do not include seam allowance, I didn’t add any as I was scaling down a smidge).

Michael Miller Wee Wander Blue Deer. Japanese Sewing Pattern

Michael Miller Wee Wander Blue Deer. Japanese Sewing Pattern

I spent far too much time on thread selection, I just love all the colours that are in the fabric so much!

The top was fairly easy to make once I had computed the instruction formats, both diagrams and text for each stage are included but not together.

As it is so small there was lots of scope & time for extra detail, I used a contrast pink tiny dotted fabric for facings. The only change i  made was to line the sleeves but  i added lots of decorative stitching, of course!

Japanese Sewing Patterns - Girls Top

Japanese Sewing Patterns – Girls Top

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Now I had planned to make some matching knicker bockers from the book but I was hot & bothered and didn’t fancy tracing the pattern. (I think my glasses needed cleaning as the lines were blurring!). So I used a ‘go to’ PJs pattern and scaled them down to make breezy summer shorts. The Beauty said they looked like boxing shorts, but assured me that was a good thing!?

As usual  Giggy couldn’t wait to try them on and dance about, I also slipped the Little Betty (miniature Bettine made with the left over fabric) on her for a quick photo.

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Right then, I have one & a half days to sew my self silly I have only made one out of the five patterns in the classic Colette Pattern  Handbook. The Taffy is my next on my list & I have three potential fabrics available from my Utrecht booty. Sometimes too much choice is not a good thing I just can’t decide! I am thinking of extending it to a dress and using a corduroy bias edging. I have also just bought ten (eek) new patterns from Sew Independent.

https://www.sewindependent.com/category/sewing-indie-month/sim-2015/

My mind is jumping around from pattern to pattern, fabric to fabric so much that I am quite dizzy with the excitement, I have a small footstool in mind for a linen scrap makeover too. I am also conveniently forgetting the outstanding items from my last list!

Best get on with it now

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Material Mechanic, Fabric Engineer & Cloth Construction Analyst

Organising my lovely Utrecht swag

Organising my lovely Utrecht swag

I feel like I have been a lazy bones regarding my blog this past week, but it has been a very busy week. Sewing must always come first not writing, my ramblings are a narrative of my stitching after all. Along with organising my Utrecht booty (almost done, just need some larger zip lock bags or something. That pink flannel is still being cocky & won’t fit in any of my beloved bags/envelopes. Now it’s all packaged up it doesn’t look so guilt inspiring but it will not be buying more for a long time.

I have constructed three garments from the swag and two from the Sewell sisters gift, using a total of 6 new pieces and two from my main stash.

Corduroy skirt & linen top made from Sewll Sisters fabric gift

Corduroy skirt & linen top made from Sewell Sisters fabric gift

I also used the groovy green denim, black & white polka dot and rose-pink  linen (or double gauze depending on your optimism).

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My fabulously stylish sister (the Style Counselor) has been visiting ‘us ooop norf’ this week & we have had a massive downsizing of our junk.  This is literally a very cleansing experience I recommend hiring a skip strongly. We cleared the cellar, garden & loft of junk & my strapping lad of a son dismantled a breeze block shed. I fear that a cable TV program researcher would be knocking on our door to make a Hoarders guilty secrets show. Thanks to the skip, Wolf’s many visits to the clothing bank and a collection by the ‘scrap man’ my Sewing Lofthouse (decided to name it after my nice inspiring junior school sewing teacher Mrs Lofthouse) is much clearer. I am actually ashamed to post a photo of the mess in the loft prior to clear out but plan a full blog and on the Sewing Lofthouse makeover so I best dip my toe in the sharing of shame show now.

i have made great progress but have a long way to go, check out the background of my recent sewing photos for a nosy at how it’s going.

Chuck it in the loft!

Chuck it in the loft!

Eeeeek!

As mentioned before, I have recently got my Sew Jo back after a long break & rarely used patterns both post & pre the sewing fallow years. To justify my fabric habit I decided that I would aim to make all my clothes as much as possible. Owning a snazzier sewing machine, a little more disposable income & increased fabric knowledge along with the Internet make fancy pants stuff more possible. Although I used to make a lot of my own stuff on reflection some of my stitching wizardry left a lot to be desired. My sister and I would lay down on sheets and draw round each other to design dresses! Now then our figures were more forgiving in those days & occasionally we had to cut ourselves out of them (why bother with zips and buttons?) As I try to maintain a professional air at work I don’t think these rustic, yet highly stylish, creations would cut the mustard.

Sew anyway I have used two grown up patterns this week, both independent designers rather than ‘the big four’. Nothing wrong with the patterns from the big companies but I wanted to see what had changed.

Bridesmaid Revisited

Bridesmaid Revisited

The last pattern I followed was a bridesmaid dress when my friend Sandra got married. Her twin daughters have just graduated so it was very much back in the day. Incidentally, I altered the pattern as I deemed it too frumpy: I think the short length & tight fit added something to the occasion! I also remember some fetching outfits I made for my handsome sons to wear at the wedding. Blue and blue striped colour  blocked trousers and hooded tops – very convictesque!

The Bettine Dress

http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2015/07/come-to-our-summer-sewing-instaspam.html

I selected this pattern as it is aimed at beginners with optional extras for more competent sewists. Also there was an internet sewing party planned by the designer where everyone would upload their makes to Twitter & Instagram. This would give me the opportunity to see other versions of the dress.

My First Bettine Dress

My First Bettine Dress

I chose the polka dot cotton lawn from Utrecht with left over polka dot from a dress I made for Flower Fairy Maebh (reference to fabric source a poor feeble excuse to share a photo of the Hermosa).

Twisted placket detail dress

Twisted placket detail dress

Whilst i was being such a grown up rather than cut the pattern out I made a personalised copy instead. As I am not the neatest or most accurate person & my body shape spans three sizes this took some time. I am glad I did as I like the pattern and will make more.  I spent a lot of time dusting off my maths brain working out calculations to ensure the ‘essence’ of the style wasn’t lost with my grading.

The dress was nice to sew and the instructions very clear with references for any trickier bits. The fabric was a slippery blighter and I used Mr Gray to finish the seams, this made the hips hang a bit funny. The pockets are ace and offer much scope for embellishment! I also made Flower Fairy Scarlett a ‘little Betty’ version, even including the covered buttons & shoulder tabs!

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I bribed Bowie with a jaunty neckerchief to participate in a photo shoot

Bettine Dres with Bowie

Bettine Dress with Bowie

As you can tell by my natural stance I love posing for photos I hoped the dog would deflect from my natural grace and elegance.

on with Bettine two, it would be much quicker now as the pattern was cut and I had rehearsed it once already. I also made excellent use of freezer paper, (trace your pattern on it, iron it onto the fabric & cut, no pinning or re-tracing & enhances accuracy!) so I just ironed the pattern to the new fabric. I decided on a shorter sleeved version and used the leftover linen from my Sorbetto top.

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Version two went smoothly and I showed Mr Gray who was the boss (advice from the Style Counselor) by not using him! All seams were pinked then zigzagged, her Badgesty got a regal collar ruffle even though she refused to leave the house for a photo shoot.

Bettine Two, the fabric pink perfectly matches the cats nose!

Bettine Two, the pink fabric perfectly matches the cats nose!

If you focus on her Badgesty you won’t notice my aggro stance offering you out for a scrap! ‘You lookin’ at my frock?’

The Meringue skirt Colette Patterns

https://blog.colettehq.com/news/big-news-announcing-the-colette-sewing-handbook

This pattern is one of five included in the Colette Sewing Handbook, I have been really looking forward to making the Meringue skirt. It’s the first pattern in the book and again suitable for beginners. The book includes comprehensive information regarding all elements of garmentry fabrication. I think I have a bit of a sewing crush on this designer and even created a Pinterest board for research!

typically the day I had earmarked for construction creation was very sunny, so once again my Al fresco cutting table was employed. (A large cardboard birthday card the Wolf made me on an occasional table). Fully equipped I commenced with the pattern drafting multitasking at its best- sunbathing & stitchery!

Setting up for a sunny sew

Setting up for a sunny sew

(The cutting board also acts as an ideas board, sketch of the Beauty’s requested Bestival dress)

Again, my inverted triangle body called for lots of pattern grading, I made a real school boy error. Measured lots of points on my lower section, transferred them to the tissue pattern traced onto freezer pape & cut out the master (actually let’s call it the mistress). When I came to shorten it I realised that chopping out a chunk evened everything up and the original markings for two sizes met! Always alter length before width is my new mantra (womantra?)

The football season started on Saturday giving me a whole day of an empty house to play Prince & Madonna while I sew! Off to my Sewing Lofthouse with everything ready for the stitching wizardry part.

Check out the Wolfs music stand, I liberated it for a new purpose!

Check out the Wolfs music stand, I liberated it for a new purpose!

one of the reasons I selected this pattern was because I adore a scalloped edge, the last dress I made with this hem was rather Wilma Flintstone so I was determined to get this one right.

This pattern also offers lots of embellishment opportunities so in honour of the denim I thought I would try my hand at flat felled seams (this as the only bit that went wrong as I didn’t consider the impact of them on the invisible zip or where the scallops meet).

Trim, measure, iron, mark and sew

Trim, measure, iron, mark and sew

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I also used another piece from the Sewell Sisters fabric gift to face the hem & waist as it matched/contrasted perfectly.

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In order to ensure crisp scallops I made myself a sewing ham (or fam as I am a vegetarian) the perfect size for each curve. I also pressed out the seams prior to notching. If you think about fabric, I do often, it is engineered to be pushed into shape using cutting, moulding and heat. My very basic physics told me that the shape would be ‘remembered’ more effectively if heat was applied before cutting notches.

Green denim Meringue skirt Colette Patterns

Green denim Meringue skirt Colette Patterns

Both the patterns were perfect for someone of my sewing age to revisit techniques and refresh pattern drafting skills after a sabbatical. They include well written clear instructions and don’t overload with confusing pattern symbols. Beginner sewists would follow them with no issues.

Patterns have changed for the better I have a Simplicity pattern in waiting to see if this is also the case for the big players. I wonder if this is something to do with input from people who actually sew rather than tailors like Mr Butterick  back in the day? Consider the theory that cake mixes didn’t take off until adding an egg was included, some believe that the psychological Impact made women feel inadequate. I prefer to adopt the other theory that adding decorating/frosting options to the cake mixes as the catalyst.  As even in the olden days women had more sense to prefer spending time on creativity rather than labour. Adding your own twist be it embellishments or re-purposive existing items is always satisfying.

Maybe if sewing was taught to both genders historically  in schools the appliance of science would have been more effective. Working with 16-19 year olds I see the great steps in gender equality & feel confident that future material mechanics will make more effective use of science & technology to benefit everyone.

Well I am rather tired from all the recent grown up accurate stitching wizardry and am going to do some Slow Sewing, or Slewing as the Wolf calls it. I have the following to complete before I return to work (not long but I can say the number it makes me sad).

Ultra Easy by Vogue 976,  printed in USA 1992

Ultra Easy by Vogue 976, printed in USA 1992

  • curtains for Maebh
  • aprons for Wolf and Flower Fairies
  • Bestival dress for the Beauty (also just requested bandanas as they are very useful at festivals)
  • Sesame Straatch pants for Olly
  • baby stuff for Early Essentials
  •  a dress from my Japanese pattern book
  • the 1992 Vogue dress pattern Ma Julie gave me

Along with finishing my Sewing Lofthouse, visiting the boat and re purposing the big pouf (long story I may have to ask the Style Counsellor to guest blog that one!). I guess I am going to be busy!

Utrecht Fabric Market

I have recently returned, and recovered, from a fantastic short break in beautiful Utrecht Holland. I even sneaked in a great day with my son and his family, the Dutch Flower Fairy Grandchildren particularly enjoyed the Dick Bruna exhibition. I experienced the biggest legal high of my life at the fabric market!

A little sample of the fabric abundance

A little sample of the fabric abundance

I purchased the black & white polka dot and the pink embroidered linen but more of that later I need to share this mouth-watering material wonder

The Lapjesmarkt, on  Breedstraat is the biggest and oldest fabric market in Holland, it covers a whole street and sells nothing but fabric & haberdashery.

http://www.inyourpocket.com/Utrecht/Lapjesmarkt_65785v

I have visited Holland on lots of occasions and never visited this Utopian World of Cloth or even heard of it. We had considered going to Utrecht as the station had a slide instead of a flight of stairs. That was enough for me but when Wolf sent me  link to the market via Pinterest I longed to go.

I have been trying hard to restrict my fabric buying and had, until recently, been recycling lots of fabric & using up scraps for various projects. My fantastic sisters bought me some fabulous fabric & I have just had a couple of pieces delivered, (for specific projects).

I struggled to justify buying lots of fabric and planned to only buy what I needed for specific items. Colettes Sewing Handbook (includes five patterns four of which I plan to make) had just been delivered. So I need lots of lovely stuff for those & I am making at least two Bettine Dresses for the Summer Sewing Instagram party on Sunday 9th August. The Wolf has requested aprons for the Flower Fairies as he is going to teach them to cook.

https://blog.colettehq.com/news/big-news-announcing-the-colette-sewing-handbook

http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2015/07/come-to-our-summer-sewing-instaspam.html

So I really did need fabric and I even wrote a list of types and yardage (as stated on the pattern not my own lazy arrogant guess) required – this is ultra organised for me! Very little clothes were taken on this trip so I would have room to bring it back. As I only take carry on luggage this restricted my potential plunder possibilities too.

Breedstraat

The market is every Saturday 8-1.00pm, I aimed to arrive about nine before it got to busy. The Wolf planned to come with me  just to see it then go for a walk looking at architecture accompanied by the Smiths on his bionic ear buds. As we approached I caught glimpses of stalls up side streets but was determined to start at one end and work down.

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The Wolf was muttering some arrangements about meeting up later but I couldn’t focus  I was possessed by the fabric demon. He left me eyeing up fabric on the first stall, while scoping out coloured elastic on another (rare as rocking horse poo) & went for a quick gander. When he returned he asked if I had spare knickers with me as I would need them. Off he went after making some more arrangements with a longer time span that I didn’t absorb.

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My ethical fabric shopping ethos started well, I even refered to my list and ticked things off. (Like an ubher swot I had even brushed up on fabric types, but the information was in Dutch!). However my hands were getting full and I couldn’t always hold the pen, so I kept a mental tally, sort of. Everywhere I looked there was something beckoning me over, prices started at €1 a metre (very generous measures too). Usually I wear my sun glasses at every opportunity to hide my tired eyes. It was blazing sunlight but I kept them off so not to miss a thing.

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By the time I had walked from one end to another my hands were quite full and I had sort of gone off piste a bit with the list. It was getting busier and more  crowded now, I forgot  my polite British ways and got stuck in.

I started my return trip laden with four bags and a promise only to buy ‘light thin gauzy fabric’. Hmmmm, well I would work my way through the quilting Mafia only to get distracted and buy more! I recognised several ‘Me’s’ stroking fabric whilst talking to it/themselves/an inner sewing guru. Along with the scary efficient quilting Mafia there were jolly Jersey gaggles and indie garment makers. Greying seamstresses mingled with focused Local Ladies buying up metres and metres of beautiful fabric.

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I had been shopping in hot sunlight for three hours with no breakfast and toting an ever-increasing heavy weight of fabric. As I worked my way back up I was starting to flag but still managed to make the odd purchase.

imageWhen I had done a full circuit I started to wonder what the meeting area & time were. I really need a sit down, have a drink and to put the bags down.

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I completed one more circuit and thought that I might faint, then I saw Wolf at the end of the market where we had arranged to meet (???).

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I was delighted to see him, he kindly carried all my swag to the nearest cafe for refreshments.

We then went to apartment to unload the ginormous stash, I collapsed with exhaustion feebly fondling my fabric.

Twenty-one different pieces about 50 metres plus five lengths (don’t know how much my limited Dutch was also exhausted) was the tally of my ‘FabriCathalon’.

The only issue now was getting it in my case

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Wolf helped and I wore my biggest clothes home, it was very hot and my case was heavy, I was still on a fabric high but I nearly forgot the much coveted elastic!

Now the mammoth task of washing and drying it, I knew that I had the one good drying day and managed four loads. The green, denim, orange corduroy and black wool are still waiting as they may run.

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The pink flannel kept wrapping itself around the washing line, Wolf noted that it had always been awkward as it was difficult to fold and fit in the case. He suggested that I sew it real slow so it hurts to teach it a lesson!

I need to reorganise my sewing space to find a worthy home for my booty & get sewing quick so I can go back to beautiful Utretch and buy more – I didn’t get any light gauzy thin stuff after all!

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Bienvendido Bebe

Scrap busting!

Scrap busting!

My friend shared a Facebook post about a local group that provides women who give birth at my local hospital with a welcome hamper. Some of these women have nothing and the group Early Essentials Stockport collect, pack and distribute the hampers.  It is a great idea and but made me sad to think that some mums have zero support when they have a baby. I decided to make a few things for the hampers, I set my self a target of five items and started with a blanket & bottle holder. During the process I started think about the support and traditions available to new Mums globally.

Early Essentials Stockport

Making the donations gave me the opportunity to use up some cowboy teddy scraps as I wanted to make something gender neutral.

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My next challenge was to use some strange fluff wormy fabric that was part of a lucky dip from Abakhans.  It’s really soft and a bit like the bed spreads my Gran had on her beds.

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After much speculation I decided to make wash mits that could be used for the baby or the mum, I also made burp cloths.

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Sewing up some small items is quick so it allows time for a bit of embellishment providing me an opportunity to try out new stitches and use up scraps: everyone’s a winner! A blanket stitch to attach some embroidered ribbon made a simple burp cloth a bit special.

Newborn babies and new Mums need a lot of stuff but they also need to know that people care.

imageWhen I was pregnant , with my handsome first-born,  corduroy prams were ‘all the rage’ but very expensive. My Blackpool Gran was visiting, her and Ma Juliie, my eternally youthful Mum, surprised  me with one. It was second-hand but like new: I lined it myself and even gave it a trim of white Rick rack! My Aunt Kate and Ma Julie also bought me a Moses basket for my second strapping son. They bought it from the local market and we all visited each Friday (they paid a bit each week). Ma Julie helped me paint a Flower Fairies wall mural when I knew I was having the Beaty. These gifts reflected the love and support I received with my children from my family. In the the poor quality photos below you can just about see the pram & part of Beauty’s bedroom.

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I  hoped that the few small details would bring a smile to the Mums faces and help them feel happy & loved. All the good karma from the people who make the donations has got to have a positive effect.

imageBurp Cloth

Early Essentials Stockport do have fantastic job and go along way in providing some vital   equipment & showing that some cares.

In  Finland every baby relieves a maternity Package from the government containing everything a newborn needs and the box doubles as a crib. The cardboard box says ‘Every child matters. Every family matters.’ the philosophy of the Finnish government. These boxes have been provided for over 70 years & the infant mortality rate has decreased  making it one of the lowest in the world.

Maternity Package Finland
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New mums in Holland get a very special gift from the government in the form of 50 hours from a  kraamverzurgster, My daughter in law is Dutch and had two beautiful flower fairies in Holland, each time care & advice was provided by the kraamverzurgster. The type of support ranges from helping with the baby, looking after existing children or cleaning. The mum decides what help she would like to reflect her specific needs. This service is available at a cost  in lots of countries from commercial companies. Often known as doulas they are provide more general help than a Nanny.

  • in Trinidad & Tobago money is put in the babies hand at their welcoming ceremony.
  • In China traditionally  red eggs were given 30 days after the baby is born at a full moon ceremony.  Nowadays gifts of useful things, cash, gold and silver are given but wrapped in red paper.
  • The mums in Brazil have to provide gifts for people who visit the babies!
  • Any baby born this year in Singapore relieves a Golden Jubilee welcome pack!

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The government support and national traditions vary globally but all babies need love and support as do their mums.  The Wolf kindly adopted his ‘driving Miss Lazy’ role and ferried me to Knitters in Romiley (one of the drop off points for donations). As I plan to make one item a week I am sure that I will be buying some of the beautiful fabric & yarn they have!

To reward the Wolf for services I made him some nifty covers for his baking bowls as he has been organising his kitchen. He can store them on top of the cupboards and they won’t get dusty. I call them my jam pot hats and they fit with my toadstool kitchenalia, not so sure he is keen on the jaunty bow!

Jam pot lids just in time for Bake off

Jam pot lids just in time for Bake off

Sewing Throne

A lick of paint & qulted fabric scraps give new life to a chair

A lick of paint & quilted fabric scraps give new life to a chair

Since my self-imposed banishment to the loft I have experienced a lot of back and hip pain. Remove any thoughts of a beautiful airy loft space full of light, the loft space in my little house with no natural light or ventilation. I am slowly making it my own sewing space. I access it via a steep pull down loft ladder & thought maybe whizzing up and down them like a spider monkey was the culprit. After consulting the Wolf my poor sewing posture and the rattan garden chair I use were cause of my Monty Burnsesque stance.

I joyfully cranked up my iPad to search for a lovely chair that I definitely needed, not so keen on the Pilates prescription though! My choices were disappointing, functional office or expensive ergonomic seating. So I adopted my eternally youthful Mothers advice of ‘go shopping in your own wardrobe’. Her favourite retort when any of her three daughters and the Beauty are moaning about having nothing to wear.

During my promenade around the house I spied an office chair in the Beauty’s room but Her Badgesty (the agoraphobic cat) likes to sit on it so no joy there. I have been saving bits and bobs for my sewing loft but nothing chair like. I also had a nosy in the Wolf’s Lair and spotted an old chair I had forgotten about. He muttered something about needing it to put on his dog walking boots but he is very nimble and will soon adapt.

Cracked vinyl seat with custardy varnish

Cracked vinyl seat with custardy varnish

I checked the dimensions and height of my sewing desk and checked that biomechanics wise it all worked. Well, I sat on the chair and mimed a bit of sewing and checked out the right angles of my joints.

It was perfect so I hunted down my old tins of chalk paint, gave the chair a thorough wash and a coat of paint.

Lovley new coat

Lovely new coat

When I pimped out a dresser table & chairs for the kitchen diner, I applied two coats of paint & two wax. The chair had one in of each as I am lazy and impatient, plus it will only have one user.

I scrutinised my scrap box while it was drying, my last few projects were from patterns and needed a freestyle project. I selected fabric that was in strips at least as long as the chair seat. I stitched them together to make a square that was about 5cms bigger than the seat. Next I cut two pieces of fleece the same size, pressed out the seams of the patchwork & laid it on top.

Fabric strips joined, pressed and quilted tucked under seat

Fabric strips joined, pressed and quilted tucked under seat, the small hole on the pink gingham was later patched with applique

I stitched in the ditch where each strip met and placed it over the seat to check the size, don’t cut too much off as more plumping is required. Now for my favourite bit, pondering the trim possibilities! I had lots of fun trying out rick rack placements until I found the right one.

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The seat now had a similar plumping experience to Matilda my dress form. I cut each layer a bit smaller pyramid style so that it would taper towards the edges.

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I placed wooden seat on the quilted piece and drew a chalk line two cm bigger to allow for seam allowance. (Consider the plumping layers as these make it wider/bigger).

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The seat sits in a very narrow channel  and is fixed underneath with wooden pegs that slide into grooves (just like Madonna).  Rather than overlapping and using a staple gun decided to use elastic to hold it in place so it can be removed  for washing (as if!).

imageI used the same method I would when making PJ’s, I joined the elastic, (first stretching it around the edge to work out how much is required), then marked out four equal points. I marked four points on the seat cover and matched them up then pinned at these points. Using the stretchy zig zag stitch (or a overlocker, I am currently not speaking to my Mr Gray). Stretch the elastic as you sew but not the fabric, making sure that each quarter section matches up.

I did two rows for luck then trimmed the seam allowance right down before putting it on the seat.  The wooden pegs were then twisted into lock position and my sewing throne is complete!

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I introduced it to its little friend the Bubble Quilt mini chair, I’m sure they will be firm friends.