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Little bits of sewing

31 December 2013, 13:23

I’ve come to that point near the end of the year where I want to gather together a bunch of little projects I’ve made recently, but yet didn’t quite seem big enough for their own post… You’ll see my traditional, year-end roundup tomorrow (I hope! I haven’t actually started it yet, eep!), but before then, let’s finish off the last little bits of the year…

Twin clutches

The most exciting of these are undoubtably the Cake Patterns Red Velvet Mini Clutches I made for James’s twin, teenaged nieces. They’ve pretty much only wanted cash or gift cards for a few years now, but this year I fancied giving them a little something extra to hold their gift.

The Cake Red Velvet Mini Clutch is a smaller version of the full pattern without the illustrated instructions, but on the plus side it’s free, super cute, and easy to whip up in a few hours with scraps. Here I used satin scraps leftover from my Matthew Williamson birthday dress and my swirl sheath dress and a bit of floral lining leftover from the former, too.

These are big enough to hold your average mobile phone, keys, lippy, and credit card, but not much else, but most of the times I want a little bag to match a dress this is all I really need to carry anyway. These were certainly one of those gifts I’d have liked to have kept for myself, especially since they match my dresses!

Bolster pillow covers


I’m totally less excited by home dec sewing, but we really wanted some bolster pillows for lounging in our big, new bedroom on the boat – now that I’m working from home, I especially need one under my knees while I work on my laptop! When we bought our bedding from IKEA, the duvet cover sets came with four pillowcases, and since we only use one regular pillow each, the others were just sat on a shelf.

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A Big Weekend for Sewing

29 July 2013, 13:59

I had an uncharacteristic free weekend – no races and not much planned, so I ended up getting lots of sewing bits done!

Sewing room clear-out

I’ve only got a small (temporary) sewing cave, and I’m a very tidy, organised person, but I’d let it get a little messy and it was feeling crowded, so after my two hour hill run on Saturday morning, I came back and had a bit of a clear out. I filled a full black bag with rubbish, but here’s what I pulled aside to swap at the Goldhawk Road meetup on Saturday!

Yes, you could be a good home to some pattern, pattern magazines, books, craft kits, or fabric that once lived on board! Now, if I can manage to be good and not fill up the space with things I pick up in the swap or fabric stores…

Skylight cover

Remember the last time I made a skylight cover (strangely, I see last time I was sewing jeans alongside it, too!)? I’d only ever made them for the back cabin, where the skylights are peaked, with windows that open like wings, but on the front deck, the skylights are flat and require grills that fit overtop for safety and security.

We had a joiner make a gorgeous new cover for the skylight over our bedroom, but it’s been shamefully covered in tarpaulins for the last few months while I procrastinated swearing my way through sewing another.

Even with a walking foot, the clear plastic is a total P-I-T-A to sew because it sticks to the machine bed, the foot, is stiff and rams into everything, and is generally just awful.

This time around, I got so sick of the stickiness that I grabbed a “newspaper” (tabloid left from our joiner) and ripped off pieces to go underneath and also under the presser foot.

This surprisingly worked rather well, and the newspaper just rips out easily afterwards. Worth remembering if a) you don’t mind newsprint on your fabrics, and b) like me, you never have tissue paper lying around

It’s not my best work, but it’s done and will allow more light into our new bedroom!

Jeans muslin

If you recall, I decided on a Burda pattern for my non-stretch denim so I sewed up a quick muslin of that on Saturday after my skylight triumph.

The triumph was short-lived.

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Boat skylight covers (again!)

18 October 2012, 15:07

Remember when I sewed some covers for the boat’s skylights back in January 2011? Frankly, I tried to put it out of my mind and certainly never have to make them again, but the larger of the two covers blew away (presumably – we’re not entirely sure what the ex-tenant did with it, grumble grumble), so I was forced to revisit these.

To me, home dec sewing is the worst – lots of boring rectangles and straight lines, measuring, unexciting fabrics, and then you don’t even get to wear it in the end! But as I discovered last time, outdoor home dec stuff is even worse!

To say I was dreading sewing this is a total understatement. But I sucked it up, brought out the remains of the waterproof vinyl from the dark hole I’d shoved it into, and then ordered another 1 metre of the green vinyl from Pennine Outdoor. Luckily, there was just enough clear vinyl leftover from before so it only cost me a tenner all in to complete this replacement one, even though the new green is a totally different shade to the previous one!

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Diamond Jubilee Bunting Prep

30 May 2012, 13:43

Apologies for the radio silence – the past week has been dominated by our preparing to leave the boatyard, and then actually sailing our boat back home again. Everything went incredibly well, but I’m still sorting through piles of stuff as we merge our temporary living quarters back into home again, plus I ran a 10k race (new PB of 50:27, wooo!) the morning after*, plus switching over to my summer wardrobe finally, and my sewing room is in a shambles as a result.

Amongst all this, we’ve got a massive four day weekend coming up this weekend for Liz’s Diamond Jubilee, and because we’re moored on the Flotilla route, we have to look extra pretty in exchange for getting an official flotilla pennant.

Boat prettiness can mean only one thing – bunting!

So while we were sat in a muddy boatyard in Kent on Friday, I took some rare downtime to cut up enough bunting flags to occupy 22 metres of ribbon – long enough to stretch from our front mast to our garden decks on both sides.

This meant cutting up 116 flags! It actually made a depressingly small dent in my scrap stash…

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A new sofa slipcover (and bonus cat photos!)

12 March 2012, 12:31

Home dec sewing is boring – there’s no two ways about it. To keep you from falling asleep while reading this, Bosco has helpfully decided to sprawl himself all over said slipcover to act as a diversion from the tedium!

James bought this purple and grey leafy brocade/damask fabric in Paris at Coupon St Pierre last weekend. The coupon fabric shops are a bit different from the usual “there’s a bolt I want you to cut this much of it” fabric stores – here instead, you rummage through piles and piles of pre-cut fabric at set prices, then take what you want to the till. You’re forced to get the full length, but at greatly reduced prices. Anyway, James was after some loud brocade for the interior of a fantasy jacket he’s got brewing for me (which I’ll be telling you more about soon) and bought this only to come across even better fabric later on.

So this lovely, shimmery brocade was left without a use.

Meanwhile, our faux-leather sofa was entirely covered in blankets to try and stop the cat from scratching off what little life was remaining in it (Bosco has the world’s shortest cat memory, and the Liquid Justice squirt bottle hasn’t stopped the problem). So James had the brilliant idea that I should turn it into a slipcover for the sofa!

Lucky for me, there was just enough fabric in the 3m to cover our 2m sofa, and the sofa’s an easy enough shape so working out a pattern wasn’t too bad:

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A functional KitchenAid mixer cover

19 July 2011, 14:49

Back in March, I joined the ranks of the middle class aspirational home cooks when James bought me a KitchenAid mixer for my birthday. I asked for (and received!) yes, a white one, because, while I like the red ones, they’re totally not worth £100 more just for the colour! Anyway, we were finally able to rearrange our tiny galley space to accommodate it so I finally broke it out of the box to make macarons last weekend.

The macarons were a resounding success (I also discovered the sole thing on earth that’s tastier than macarons – macaron batter!), but the only storage space for the mixer is out in the open, so I needed to sew a cover for it, lest I have to wash the dust off it every time I want to use it!

I was feeling supremely lazy, so rather than measure it myself, I just used the
tutorial and pattern here to sew up a really quick cover.

I made a few changes from the above site, though, the main being that mine is not quilted (it’s not like the mixer needs to stay warm!), and mine has a seam at the top since my print is directional and I didn’t want upside-down people on one side.

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Free kitty kicker pattern and tutorial

1 March 2011, 12:43

Do you have a cat? Does he sometimes scratch where he’s not supposed to?

Ours may look angelic, but Bosco’s certainly got a naughty streak!

Cats need to scratch with their hind legs or bad things happen. But we don’t really want them “bunny kicking” our arms to shreds, either! That’s where the Kitty Kicker comes in – your cat will nuzzle the felty, catnippy wonder to his face and kick at the body with his hind legs! And the offset end seams means it rolls really easily, giving kitty something to chase as you throw it around the room.

Download the pdf here!

Like with all downloadable patterns, make sure to print it at 100%! Unless your cat is very small, or utterly enormaincoon, in which case feel free to scale up or down. Also feel free to change around the felt piece – make it long and fringed, or spiked, or even replace it entirely with ribbons or yarn if you’d rather.

You will need:


1. Small piece of tough fabric like denim, twill, canvas, or home dec fabric (IKEA do great heavyweight fabrics for cheap!)
2. Small scraps of felt (optional)
3. Fiberfill, or scrap fabric for stuffing
4. Catnip!
5. Hand needle and thread

Instructions:

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DIY Boat Skylight covers

13 January 2011, 13:38

I’m very excited because this is the first opportunity I’ve had to crosspost anything between this sewing site, and our site for our boat, Hendrik!

We’ve got a total of six skylights on Hendrik – four flat metal ones in the front of the boat where we live, and two peaked, wooden framed ones in the back captains cabin which we rent out to our lovely lodgers. We’ve largely been able to keep our front skylights from leaking too badly, but the age and design of the ones in the back meant that they really needed some covers both to limit the drips and to protect the woodwork and the original 1930s patterned glass.


(this is the larger, saloon skylight)

So a few months ago I got some swatches from Pennine Outdoor to have a look at their tent fabrics, and decided that the “UV Treated Window Material” (P49) and “PVC Coated Polyester” (P9) would work best. Importantly, since I had the swatches I also tested to make sure I could sew through these on my regular domestic machine! I bought two metres of the green and one metre of the clear, which came to £23 including shipping (and this gave me plenty enough for these two skylights, and probably enough for at least one of our flat skylights).

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Ticking Over

22 December 2009, 15:02

I’ve been doing loads more Christmas sewing but I can only show you the barest amount since so many friends and family read the site. But that just means there’s going to be a glut of posts going up between Christmas and New Year, plus I just got two KnipModes so I can show you my picks from October through January, plus I got gifted the Twinkle Sews book so I’ve got loads to say about that, plus it’s soon time for my year end roundup! So lots coming up, and it’s probably a good thing we’re staying at home over the holidays!

But first, two gifts I can show you some peeks of… My friend Pip has cottoned on to the fact that I can make her things in silk that cost way less than in the shops – last year it was the silk pyjamas, but this year she really wanted silk pillowcases, so I made her a pair in black silk charmeuse based on the measurements of my own cases, plus I added a bit of contrast reverse side and a line of piping to jazz it up a bit.

And even though James reads the site, he had so much input into his sweatshirt that it’s hardly going to be a surprise on Christmas morning!

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Been making and opening...

28 July 2009, 18:27

Believe it or not, I’ve been doing an awful lot of resting and napping, but as long as I don’t spend too much time standing at the ironing board, I can usually get a fair bit of sewing done before I get too tired (though on the days I have to go into outpatients I just come home and collapse!).

Making!

Since I already had this KnipMode wrap blouse prepared as an activity pack, it seemed the ideal candidate to ease myself into my sewing room again. I’m waiting for my wigs to arrive from Hong Kong before I do the photoshoot, but here’s a teaser on Susan…

I realise I’m posting out of order here since I haven’t shown you all the fantastic August issue of KnipMode magzine yet, but let’s just say it’s so fan-tas-tic (terrible Dutch pun, uggggh) that I’ve already drafted this weekend bag pattern and have online shopping lists together to get all the haberdashery bits to complete it. I’m SO excited to try that vilene stuff that turns regular fabric into oilcloth, as my RTW bags just get so filthy so quickly!

And starting the long line of baby gifts (I have something like 5 or 6 friends due in August & September!!) is this baby blanket for our friend’s little baby, Grace. I did the embroidery (from Urban Threads) while I was in hospital, then used a large amount of the turquiose basketweave fabric (which was just screaming to be made into a blanket even before I made my duffle coat!), and finished it off with some red and white bias tape. How is it that no matter how much bias tape you make, you’ll always end up a little short? Or maybe it’s just me?

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Hospital activity packs

5 July 2009, 19:34

To accompany my my little red sewing machine on the inside here with me, I made up some “activity packs” in advance that my mom or James could just bring to me when I got the sewing itch. Into each gallon ziploc bag went all the cut fabric pieces for that project, plus the thread and bobbin, any notions, and the scanned line drawing & instructions. That way I should hopefully just be able to get down to business when the feeling strikes me without having to do all the boring prep stuff!

First up is already in my activity drawer (I’ve only got four drawers and a tiny wardobe in the room, so one is designated for fun!), a hat from the May 09 Burda, with all the pattern pieces cut out in the red & white floral cotton poplin, with all the appropriate pieces fused to some super heavyweight canvas interfacing.

I’ve also got this top and trousers from the May 09 KnipMode ready to go…

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Embroidery and bunting

2 July 2009, 23:00

I seem to be pretty lucky so far to have escaped the constant chemo nausea I was told to expect. I’m on two different chemo drugs now until Sunday when I switch to a third on its own, and so far one of them has had zero affect on the way I feel, and the other seems to be giving me wildly different comedy afflictions each day (first fever & headache, then the next day a weird bumpy rash like mosquito bites all over my body plus breathing problems, then tonight it just seems to be a 2 hour long sneezing fest. weird.). In any case, it’s so far much easier than I was expecting (knock on wood), so it’s given me some time to do some crafting in amoungst my tv and film watching.

Yesterday (Day -7) (in bone marrow transplant land, the day you get your stem cells is Day Zero, so right now I’m counting down to that, 8 July. After I receive them, I’ll go into the positive numbers!)

Yesterday I did a bit of ham-fisted embroidery, finishing up a bit for a baby present, which I’ll reveal when it’s totally finished, as well as finally finishing that Sublime Stitching apron kit I’ve been working on here and there over the last few months (remember this from the al fresco sewing day?).

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Problem solving

9 February 2009, 22:34

Problem: exposed kitty litter tray


In our attempt to make the transition over to the other side of our boat (from the self-contained flat to the main part), we set up a new litter tray for Bosco in a pipe void under the bathroom sink. But shortly after we installed it, Bosco was having a scratch, James looked over, and they made awkward eye contact. Bosco meowed in protest! Clearly something was needed to protect his precious modesty!

So I sewed up a little curtain for his litter area using Michael Miller‘s “Bad kitties” fabric that I had leftover from our throw pillows, adding a nice little border in chocolate brown at the bottom. It’s all cotton and all washable, so it’s no big deal if it gets dirty.

And hurrah! No more litter in sight and I have a happy cat.

Problem: cold feet at night

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Bad kitty pillows

23 March 2008, 20:32

Ever since I cut up the Ikea pillowcases and turned them into placemats a few weeks ago, our couch has had the indignity of being adorned with raw pillows (oh the shame!). I’ve been sewing like a mad woman over this long bank holiday weekend (I finished up my jeans and my Patrones Jean Paul Gaultier skirt but it’s been hailing and snowing and FAR too cold to make photoshoots appealing…) so I finally got the energy up to cover the pillows once and for all, with the genius naughty kitties fabric we bought for this purpose in the States.

I made a bunch of piping using some offcuts of poly gabardine (I eyeballed it and only had a couple inches leftover, yesssssss!), made some careful measurements, and now our couch is a much happier place to sit!

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Ikea pillowcase placemats

6 March 2008, 14:47

Way back in August, James and I picked out this green naughty kitties fabric to use as pillowcases for our eventual lounge. We’ve since been on the lookout for the cheapest pillows we can find so I can make up new kitten covers for them, but you’d be surprised how overpriced even the ugliest pillows are today!

But then on a post-Christmas Ikea trip, we found these “ISIG” pillows on sale for £2 each. I think they must’ve been considered holiday items because of the snowflakes, but frankly, these were too good to just throw away. They’re cotton/linen blend, with the red snowflake (or star) design on one side, and stripes and a zipper closure on the other.

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OrnaMENTAL!

19 December 2007, 15:01

This is the first year my boyfriend and I will be in our own place for Christmas, so we’re starting from scratch as far as ornaments and decorations go. We bought a string of lights and two packs of shiny baubles from the store, but apart from a few candy canes, the tree was bare.

I started with some festive bunting, by cutting triangles of fabric from an off-white curtain sample (donated by my boyfriend’s mother) and sewing them all together in a long strip of dark green bias binding.

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Jedi master

1 October 2007, 12:31

I’ve now completed two pieces for my FW/07 Collection, a pair of chocolate brown trousers, and a white cropped jacket.

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