Sewing, the gift that keeps on giving…

I’ve had a little unexpected surprise that I’d like to share… I met my hubby at his parents house tonight and they were all looking very suspicious, excited and grinning at me in a strange way. I was ordered to close my eyes and when I opened them…. This was waiting for me…

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I gave a strange grin right back at them… erm… ‘what is it?’

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THIS is what it is! Exciting or what?! Let me explain…

Kyle’s Nan no longer uses any of her sewing things, she was an avid knitter but is no longer able to sew as she once did. Kyle’s family very kindly thought of me and wanted me to have her sewing things. I’m so thankful, moved and flattered by this as there’s lots of little bits that I’m sure have some good memories for my mother-in-law and her sisters. It’s a real inheritance for me and something I’ll cherish. It’s the things like this that make sewing so special as when you use the things you were given, it makes anything you make extra special and nostalgic. So… overall a very happy sewer here!

All neatly packed away and kept were some vintage pinking shears and scissors, and a knitting equipment kit. Joan was a knitter so there are lots of little pearlised buttons for baby cardigans but also some really cool gold coloured buttons. I love the way it is all so organised, I think it really sums up that generation. There are lots of little boxes and tupperwares with buttons and safety pins; everything seems to have a place. She has bags buttons, tied with matching wool and a big needle, ready to go on her completed knits. Obviously, there are lots of threads for me to dive in to as well and also a huge bag of elastics and various bindings.

I absolutely love the retro Royal wedding tin, so very British Nan and it is full of threads. Every family I know had one of these as we were little but things like this don’t seem to survive anymore and I think it’s so nostalgic. The threads look like jewels; a proper box of treasure.

There’s also a little popper mechanism which is packed neatly in this little box, which I also love.

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Kyle is originally from Ashton and Katherine Street it still there – though no shops like this anymore, unfortunately. I love to see traditional old embossing and professional shop memorabilia like this from when packaging was quality and not ‘throw-away’, especially when people remember it and it means something. After investigations with Kyle’s other Nan, I discovered that Wild’s was once a jewellers… when Joan came to replace a nice pair of earrings with poppers, I will never know!

Lastly, but not least, is this beautiful metal, antique thimble. The detail in the metal is so gorgeous and I feel very privileged to own it.

It makes me want to sew RIGHT NOW!

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Shoes to overshadow my LBD

The theme for this month’s Monthly Stitch challenge is ‘if the shoe fits’. The idea being that you create something to compliment a pair of shoes you struggle to pair with your wardrobe. It took my all of about 2 seconds for THESE AMAZING shoes to pop in to my head!

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I made these shoes last year. After being inspired by good old pinterest, I took a pair of old shoes and covered them with all sorts of pictures of things I liked or I thought looked pretty, such as cartoon characters, peacocks, Ana Strumpf’s illustrations on fashion mags or anything which inspired me. I painted the sole in turquoise acrylic paint and glued turquoise ribbon, left over from my wedding, round the edge to neaten it. Then I varnished them to keep my pictures safe and make them nice and shiny!

They are so personal and I absolutely LOVE 💗 them, I get lots of compliments when I do wear them out, but there’s a pretty obvious problem… because they are so ‘out there’, it’s really hard to pair them with an outfit, it usually has to be black and I don’t wear much black outside of work. Cue a new black dress…

One of the first dresses I ever tried to sew was the freebie, Sew Different Tulip Dress. It was a disaster, it didn’t come anywhere close to fitting and the seams were wonky… the material wasn’t too hot either to be honest.

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I used a high flash to show up the pattern here

I had some black velvet that I bought to make some of the costume for the wicked witch in the school play (more to come on that). I got the fabric for next to nothing, I don’t suppose everyone goes crazy for velvet, though I have seen it in the shops more recently. There was lots of it so I wanted to use the rest up, on a whim out came the Tulip Dress pattern.

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I only used the back piece and cut both pieces at the same time (told you it was a whim!) I only had the 2 pieces so it was an easy sew, especially as it doesn’t fray. I sewed it together and zig zagged the edges really quickly. I took the neckline out and lowered it slightly at the front to make a boat neck line. As the fabric has stretch the curve allowed in the pattern was all the shaping I needed. There was no need for any zips or closings either.  I did my hem and it was done, an elegant, all black dress that is a lovely shape. I styled with with black tights and pink waist belt and my shoes, of course!

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I may have made this for a plain backdrop for my shoes but I’m thinking I could wear it with boots over winter too and I may even put a jewelled neckline or hem yet for over Christmas!

I did another cute yellow label too!

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I wore this to the Manchester Christmas market, for a cheeky mulled wine, with black tights, tan belt, shoes and bag and my black smart coat. This scarf was £2.50 from Marks and Spencer and my absolute favourite. I felt really snug in it but it really rode up, good job I had a coat on or else I’d have spent the whole night pulling it down. What a shame… any ideas how to combat this?

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My Sister’s Top

Read the title as you will folks! The observant amongst you will notice that the girl in the picture isn’t me… though she does look rather like me… it is, of course, my sister. So I have myself a new model, which is the stipulation if I make anyone anything!

I wanted something I had made for her birthday, even though I had some gorgeous hand-made earrings I bought up in Northumberland. So I decided to put another New Look 6483 one hour top together. Which I’ve made previously here and here, amongst others. I wanted to change it up a little so I’ve hacked it a bit.

I took the back piece and added a couple of inches to the fold edge and cut 2 back pieces. I then put the t-shirt together as normal, using a green contrast bias binding. I then edged the 2 back pieces in the binding as I wanted to create an open back, which you see a lot in the shops at the minute.

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Rather than just sew the top of the back pieces together I made button holes and put 3 buttons to hold it together, I used green buttons here too. I think it’s so cute and Rach loves it too and was a brilliant blog model. A simple hack, which I definitely recommend, especially is you have broad shoulders and/or chest like me and my sister!

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Recipe Tea Towel

This week’s make is a selfless sew, it may seem a bit early to be sharing Christmas makes but let me explain. My Dad and his wife, Therese live in Cyprus and I don’t always get round to sending Christmas presents, however, my Dad is coming to visit next week and in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to send him home with something.

So… I saw this tutorial for recipe tea towels on pinterest, I glanced over it and I’ve blatantly used the idea but I didn’t actually follow the tutorial if I’m honest.

I used a recipe that Therese wrote down for me 9 whole years ago, when I was just 19 (gulp!) and I went to visit. I scanned it, enlarged it and printed it on to transfer paper. I ironed it on a thick white polyester and cut a border round it using a ruler and rotary cutter. I cut a second piece out in the same size for the backing.

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I raided my scraps and made a patchwork binding using lots of different colours and sizes. I just went for the anything goes approach with this and cut random, rough sizes which I chain-stitched together and then cut with a rotary cutter once I had a long strip. I snipped the seams as close as I could and ironed. Easy! This was such a relaxing process, done in my front room watching Harry Potter. I’ll definitely prepare some more of this at some point. It’s really effective and fun!

I tacked the two pieces of white fabric together and attached the binding like you would a quilt and ta-dah! A super cute (rustic) but personal tea towel, which I’m hoping they will love. (Is it wrong that there’s a small part of my hoping it doesn’t actually get used as a tea towel?! It’s saying ‘Please don’t wipe your pots on all my hard work!’)

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I wrapped it ready to go in this funky word search paper which you can customise from Something Turquoise. I think this makes a really sweet gift and have prepared some for other pressies ready for some hard-core Christmas wrapping sessions!

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Self-drafted Daisy Skirt

Please note that when I say ‘self-drafted’, it makes me sound very professional, what I mean is ‘making it up’. Last month I went to Dublin with my Mum and my sister and managed to find a fabric shop, where I bought some silky polyester with daisies. Cute or what?received_10153756753501227

I only bought one metre but it was quite wide, I knew I wanted it for a skirt straight away. I don’t tend to buy skirt patterns as I find it easier to draft a waist band and work with that. I know it’s going to be a good fit if I measure myself (obvious I suppose).  Once I had a waist band, I cut 2 rectangles with the rest of the fabric.

Then I lay them to one side and did some research about how I wanted to shape the fabric, I wasn’t sure that pleats would work with silky fabric, so naturally, I decided to do pleats. After some very complicated maths, which looked like this..

sam_2700I went with 14 pleats of 5 cm every 10 cm. (I worked in centimetres instead of inches so I had a little more to play with.)

I measured them out and then tacked them along the top. I then added my waistband and secured it all in place.

When I tried it for fit I realised that all the sewing on the waistband must have stretched the fabric and it was too big on my waist by about 3 inches instead of the 1 inch I had left to insert my zip… So now I really was making it up!

I was simply going to trim it up and insert my zip but then I thought, why am I allowing myself to have my life controlled by zip insertions? What are my other options?

Well reader, I am here to tell you that we do not have to be ruled by zips… I went through my stash and found a buckle I had bought some time a go for another project and decided I would go with a wrap skirt. I hemmed the edges with a contrast blue ribbon and then inserted a button hole ( I realise the button doesn’t match but it’s on the inside!)

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Then I hand-stitched (as you can tell) this really cool buckle on. – I hate hand-stitching but it’s well worth it for things like this. I love that it picks out the yellow of the daisies but completely contrasts with the navy!

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Anyway, next I hemmed it. I was aiming for bias binding edging but I sewed it to the wrong side… but have no fear, being as enterprising as I am, I folded it to the outside and used it as a feature. I think it looks really pretty.

Now, I know I said that I hate to hand-sew but I had a small amount of yellow ribbon which I thought would make a cute label so I hand embroidered my initials on to it whilst the hubby and I watched Ripper Street (I fully recommend it if you haven’t watched it!) And I made myself a cute little label.

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I wore it with tights and a black top with my trusty wrap cardigan to go for curry with my Mum and sister. I love wearing it already, it feels really feminine. It also went surprisingly well with a few things I tried too. The old clutch leg was a bit breezy whilst I was driving though as it is right on the wrap join!

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probably best not to as why the statue is headless…

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how cool is this chair?!

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