Sunday, 11 December 2011

Xmas Gifts....

I have just completed an order for a cushion for a 14 year old girl who attends the Nelson Mandela School here in Berlin. The order was placed by one of my subscribers for her god-daughter for Christmas (she had seen the fabric in an earlier post). It is the kind of order I really love doing as the only specifications given were that it was to include the Mandela fabric & her name. Oh joy... free reign!!

As the fabric is red & white, I knew my colour palette. I found a red & white bandana in a store & knew what I wanted to do...

I added wadding behind the bandana & quilted around some of the paisley designs making them puff up.
Mandela can be seen in two of the corners, and the logo from Da Gama Textiles (SA's main producer of ShweShwe fabrics) in the other two.

I am very happy with how it worked out, hope the customer is too!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

FREE pattern & tutorial: Men's Sleep Shorts/ Boxers

A nice, practical, personal present for a man this Christmas. Take the time to make it yourself & the good ones will always be grateful for it.

Here are the pattern pieces you will need. I have made this one to measurements I took, but it is about a medium. You can adapt the pattern for the size you need.

After review, I think adding or taking away 4cm may take you to xsmall and xLarge 2cm may just do it!

You need 2 of the top piece, and one of the bottom piece (cut on the fold)
Cut the top piece from folded fabric as well, just to make sure you don't accidentally cut two lefts or 2 rights!
The last piece you need is a waist band for the elastic to run through. I cut a strip on the fold, 5cm longer than the shorts once they are sewn up. Make it about 4cm wider than the thick waistband elastic, or if you prefer to run 2 strips of narrower elastic, make it 6cm wider than the width of two strips of elastic.

I will now add photos of the steps you need to follow....

These are the pieces you will have (excluding the waist band)

Men's boxers fold right over left, so you need to iron a double fold (4mm or so) in the fly of the right hand side piece & stitch this in place.
Then iron a 4mm fold on the left hand side piece, and then iron the whole fly piece to the wrong side at the curve line...

Now place the two sides right sides together matching the crotch curve & unfold the folds on the left piece. Pin in place:
Stitch with a foot wide seam & then use your pinking shears to trim the edge to prevent fraying without having a thick seam - more comfortable!

Now stitch together the crotch seams back to front, matching them in the centre.

Pinking shear this seam as well - be careful not to cut through stitching!!

Now side seams:

& pinking shear these seams as well.
Turn right side out

Now you have:

Add buttons & button holes to the front - one or two buttons, up to you!
Make sure you use flat buttons for comfort. Do not add them too close to the top seam as this is where you will join the waist band on.
Match up the open seam on top & stitch down across the opening with a single row of straight stitches to keep the two parts lined up when you add the waist band next.

Now iron a seam in at the bottom of each leg (where the hem of the shorts will be). Double fold & stitch down.

Cut a waist band. Length to match the top of the shorts. Cut it on a fold so there is only one seam to it.

Join the waist band to the shorts, right sides together, with the waist band flat. Use a foot width for the seam. You needn't pinking shear this seam as it will be covered.

Iron this seam just made to top

Iron in a 1cm fold on the top of the waist band towards the wrong side of the shorts.
Fold the waist band in 1/2 and stitch on the inside of the shorts, leaving a gap for the elastic.

Convince your cat to get off your shorts so you can finish sewing them ;)

Now use a safety pin to thread through thick waist elastic. Sew up the ring of elastic with a straight stitch (go over this seam a couple of times).
Sew up gap where elastic was threaded through.

Shorts are done!!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Market Day!

Over the last week, I have been sewing madly to get ready for the Christmas Market that will take place later today. I have quite a bit ready, but still wish I had more! I wanted to have some of my change mats and maybe even a playmat to display... but well... in such a short time it was just not possible!

Amongst the things I have made, I have these very cute backpacks for kids (in my opinion anyway).

They are easy to open & close and fit easily on a child's back. Once on the back, they are securely closed, and nothing can drop out, even if you cartwheel ;) They are fully machine washable and lined in white so it is easy to see what is inside. It is also possible to have them plasticized (for a swimming bag or just to be weather proof).

You can have them with just the child's name, or more practical, you can have one for each activity your child does with appropriate picture & lettering. Then store the necessary items for that activity in the bag. Meaning you can just grab the correct bag as you are running out the door to get your darling to ballet, music lessons, gymnastics, swimming... without leaving something necessary behind! ALSO, the bag will have your child's name on it, so others will know where to look for your child's items if you are not there for a moment - which happens if you have more than one child.

I saw the need for this while visiting my Sister last week. We had taken my older niece (Hannah) to swimming lessons & my younger niece (Grace) had come along to watch, but on route she fell asleep in the car! So my Sister got Hannah in & dressed in her cozzie (swimming costume for the non-South Africans) while I stayed with Grace asleep in the car. Then we switched so I could watch Hannah's lesson - she was very excited to have someone new to witness her swimming prowess!

Problem was, when Hannah got out of the pool, I had no idea which of the bags belonged to her, and she was not sure either - Mom always sorts this part out. So I had to wrap my shivering niece in my down jacket, leave the warmth of the indoor pool, and run, jacketless, back to the car to ask the all knowing mother!

A personalized swim bag would have been just the ticket!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Turkey Day!

Celebrate Thanksgiving with a pretty table as well as good food!

Above are a few napkin options. Last year I added a turkey to a hand towel as a hostess gift for the friends we enjoyed Thanksgiving with - always nice to have the theme throughout the house, guest bathroom too!

You can add one of these designs to aprons, tea towels, placemats, place setting name tags, napkin rings, table runners, ...
you get the idea!

Have a look here for more embroidered designs for Thanksgiving.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Face Cushion

Part of my little blondie niece's Xmas gift done :)

Can you see the resemblance to her cushion?

I had some admiring glances for the cushion.....

Calico really likes Grace... think he sees the resemblance... or maybe he just wants to nap on the cushion & it wondering how to get it in the right position!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Gift Bags

Heading into the Christmas season, there are always many gifts to be sourced and sorted... teachers, doctors, co-workers etc etc. A lovely idea is home made items like biscuits and jams etc. But how to package it? Well, why not make up some gift bags in fabric? These bags can be reused or repurposed as a toiletry bag or to hold clothes pegs, chargers, cotton balls, tea bags.... you get the idea - they can be useful :)

And less waste is a good idea for the environment, helping to reduce your carbon footprint. Hopefully the dustbins full of giftwrap after Xmas day will soon be a thing of the past!

You can stiffen these bags with interfacing, use brooches as closures, use covered buttons... the options are up to your imagination!

Go on... give it a go!
Or order some at our upcoming Xmas Market... details to follow.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Christmas Market coming up...

I will be selling my handmade goods at a Christmas market soon, so need to get sewing for it!! I realized that many of my items are customizable, so I am thinking of taking orders at the market... always nice to give a personalized gift.

So I am also working on samples! Killing two birds with one stone, I am making some of the Christmas gifts I had planned to make and will use them as samples.

The first of these planned items: personalized cushions for my two nieces & our little God-Daughter. I have completed Hannah's this morning, and am quite happy with the result:

I designed the eyes, nose & mouth myself, following Manga drawing instructions, then converted them to stitches using my clever Generations software.
(Anyone who machine-embroiders NEEDS this software!! It is pricey, but WOW is it clever, and simple to use. Anything I can draw I can turn into stitches!!)
Give Generations a try - it is very reasonably priced for a month trial of the full version - click here to read about this offer. ATW is a GREAT resource for machine embroidery, well worth the membership fees - which are very reasonable.

Anyhow, these cushions can have eye colour, hair colour & name appropriate for your child, as well as the main fabric to match their bedroom.

I got the idea by combining two ideas. The first a sewn 'portrait' my Sister wanted of their family. I still have to try this with Generations, as with the other software I used before buying Generations it did not turn out THAT well...

(William has an apple on his t-shirt as he is Apple mad - NOT a green heart)

And the 2nd: at the end of our 'Girls' Road Trip' I spent a couple of days with my Sister. The 1st night I put the girls in their beds I was not 100% sure which bed belonged to which niece as they share a room. I was thinking they needed something on their beds with their name on it - and so the face cushion was born!

Happy stitching until next time....

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Travelling Knickers

My Mum gave me this idea a while back, and I have been meaning to give it a try ever since. Now, as we are about to leave for our 'Girl's Road Trip' and my partner on this trip has just celebrated a birthday - it was the perfect time!

Thelma & Louise are off!
Until my return...

Happy stitching!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

No Pattern Required

Every now & again I get asked to make something I have never though to make before (& may never get asked to again). This time it was a chef's hat for my dear friend ChefInBerlin (don't you just love her logo?!).

Here is the inspiration for the item...

Working with a great product from Vlieseline called Decovil I that when ironed onto fabric makes it handle like leather - it is stiff enough for those lovely stiff little handbags you have seen - like Amy Butler's Chelsea Bag

Anyway... it worked well & ChefInBerlin is happy.
Here is my very patient husband modeling it :)

It took a bit of fiddling & trial & error... but proof that you can make anything yourself & you don't always need a pattern to do it!

Happy stitching!!

....had to add the Sous Chef in the hat....

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Making your own lingerie

Not everyone conforms to the 'expected' rules for bust sizes, i.e. bust being in proportion with the rest of the body... small hips, small bust; big hips, big bust. There are some that, while being petite in the rest of their measurements, are rather fuller in bust measurements. And the lingerie department generally does not cater to these ladies. So what to do??
Well, one solution is to get out your sewing machine!
If you can cut accurately, stick to an accurate seam allowance, and stitch in a straight line - you can make lingerie. Pretty, fun, lacy lingerie you would expect to find in good lingerie shops - you will be amazed at what you can make, and how professional it will look.
I am busy making a bra for someone I met giving a sewing demonstration. She is one of those who breaks the 'rules' mentioned above, and has trouble finding lingerie that fits well.
I am starting in stretch cotton as it is a great way to get the pattern exactly right without the expense of lycra and lace. Also, stretch cotton can be purchased in fun colours and patterns & can make for quirky, fun lingerie.
Stretch cotton also provides great support, and I have doubled the bottom cup with stretch running in opposite ways to increase the minimizing effect. There are many tricks to making bras that compliment your figure perfectly!
Ladies that fit into this category often find themselves resorting to buying 'granny bras' as these are often the only ones that are available in their cup size. BUT these are generally made for ladies that have wider backs and more padding in general, so the shoulder straps are often too long and cannot be adjusted sufficiently. The back straps are often broader than these petite ladies require, and let's face it... are generally just not very aesthetically pleasing - picture the famous 'Bridget Jones knickers' in a bra form ;)
If ever there was a good reason to start sewing... this is it!
But it's not just well fitted bras you can make. Making knickers is quick & easy too! You can easily make a new pair by making a pattern from a pair that has passed it's 'wear by date'. So, once you have found a pattern that fits well, you can have them in every colour, stretch cotton or lace... the options are endless.
You will have an envious lingerie drawer, where every item fits well and is just your style!
Would you like to give it a try on a pair of Brazilian Lace knickers that are quick & simple to make?
Follow below...
How to sew up your Brazilian Knickers
**Please note: You will need stretch lace that is at least 15cm wide.
You will have 2 pieces that look like this (below) as well as a gusset piece.
Your pattern will be made to your measurements.
You will cut them on the fold like this
The top edge will be your lower waist measurement IN CENTIMETERS!!! minus one quarter for elastic stretch, divide by 4 + 1cm seam allowance.

The shorter side will be 4.5cm wide.

The bottom edge of your pattern is circumference of one top thigh, minus one quarter for elastic stretch, divide by two, add 1cm for SA

Curve the seam as shown - you can use a French Curve here if you have one.

The side measurement (on fold) is the width of your lace.  Lace with a width of 15cm at least is optimal.

The gusset piece is the rolled up piece you see in the top left corner of the above photo. Be sure to cut this from 100% cotton. It is shaped like an eye (an oval pointed at each end) and as wide as the crotch. It should be about 14cm long and about 5cm at it's widest.
Join each side – right sides together with a straight stitch at the crotch seam (where the pin is in the above photo). Do each piece like this
Place one inside the other with right sides together

ensuring the 2 sides meet perfectly at the centre line, stitch using a straight stitch & then zig zag the seam in one after the straight stitch

Then stitch in the gusset on the wrong side of the crotch of the knickers – using a small zig zag stitch.
If you should need the knickers tighter at the waist – add elastic with a zig zag onto the wrong side of the waist line – taking ¼ off the waist circumference & using the “quarter pin method”

That easy!!

And now you have a hand-made pair of very sexy, very comfy knickers!

Happy stitching