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

Friday, 28 October 2011

Upcycling a shirt

Everyone has a few button-up shirts in their closet that they no longer wear for whatever reason. Instead of feeling bad about that bad purchase or throwing out that perfect shirt with the tomato stain on the collar... here is an alternative:-

The button-up tote bag!

And as you will have sleeves left over...
Why not convert them into a co-ordinating quirky cosmetic bag?

A men's button up shirt also makes up into a lovely Summer dress for a little girl - remind me to show you how next summer!

Go on... get stitching!!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Baby blocks

Fun toys, crawling aids and good for little grabbing hands to hang onto, there is lots to touch & feel on these made to order baby blocks....

You could also do one for each letter of your baby's name & they double as a decor piece in your nursery. Stack them, topple them, learn to catch with them... these blocks are fun and practical.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sewing Class

Today I gave the Bracelet Bag sewing class through the BIWC. The pattern worked perfectly for both beginner & intermediate levels of sewing skills. But we did discover that thick cotton fabrics are best, and silky fabrics, even thick ones are best left for those with advanced skills! Make sure your interfacing thickness matches your fabric thickness, and DO interline ALL pieces you were told to.

Here are two of the finished products...

Lourdes arrived with this TINY box that contained a mini sewing machine! To say that I was sceptical would be a massive understatement! See for yourself (and note the price tag!!!)...

I was so certain that this would not work, I had a backup machine right next to her.
And after she completed the bag on this tiny machine - her bag is this one...

I had to eat my words & could not stop raving about this tiny phenomenon! Okay, it does straight stitch only, and the stitch length is set & cannot be changed. Zig zag is not an option. BUT... it has 2 speed settings, a light!!!, and perfect tension!!! I am astounded!!!

I kept stealing Lourdes' work to give the machine a whirl ;)

(Yes Mom... I am back to being a brunette)

It even sailed over bulky seams where we made the darts in the bottom of the bag!
If you are looking for a machine to take up hems, do the basics and can manage with only straight stitching (you can buy pinking shears to stop unravelling), this is a good TINY investment!

Mind the stampede on route to Rossmann ;)

Happy stitching....

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

ML... here's to you!!

In case you missed the start of the story, it goes back to our Ladies Lebanese Luncheon, when ML needed a gift for her good friend & we chose fabric together & had great fun doing so. You can read the full story here. At the end of the process, only a really great friendship convinced ML to hand over the gift she had created & rather fallen for herself.

A couple of weeks back it was ML's B Day, and I just knew the fun she would have creating a bag, for herself this time! So I gave her a MadeByDi voucher & today we once again pillaged the fabric cupboard & found the ideal combination to suit ML - chic & elegant with a hint of flirty fun :)

I have a few orders to fill, so should be working on those, but was too excited about her bag to put it aside. I had already decided on a pattern from Cheri over at I am Momma hear me ROAR - you can find it here - and had it cut out & ready, waiting for the fabric to be chosen.

So this evening I ran it up, and here are the photos...

ML... hope you like your new bag :)

Cheri... thanks for a great tutorial! It worked 100% and your photo steps were clear, your instructions well written & I am sure a beginner would manage this too.
It is a very chic pattern, and the proportions are great - thanks for a great share!

Play it again Sam...

Made a second one, using one of the other colour options... see which you prefer.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Test run Bracelet Bag

On Wednesday (the 26th October) I will be giving the next BIWC sewing class. We will be making the gorgeous Bracelet Bag from Michelle at Keyka Lou (see right side of this page for the photo link to her gorgeous patterns).

I need a gift for a birthday party AND I would like to give the bag a test run before the class, so killing two birds and all... I am about to get going on a Bracelet Bag.

Michelle's patterns arrive in your inbox as a perfectly printable PDF & she kindly provides a printed check square to ensure your pattern is printed at the right size. Her instructions are very clear and are accompanied by photos to ensure you understand what she explains. You cannot go wrong!

Some photos of my process:

Print out pattern & tape as instructed (really easy!)
(To save paper being wasted I print the instructions 2 images per page on Mac settings & the pattern pieces normal size - you DO NOT want these minimized)
& the cut out with non sewing scissors - which are kept in the tool cupboard so husband knows which ones are for him to use ;)

The big orange rubber thing is a knee saver made by Birkenstock - you know home of the German sandal. It is great for working on hard floors!

Choosing fabric...
This pattern only requires two fabrics - Main & lining, but I think I will make the outer pocket in a contrast as well.
Off to the fabric cupboard to see what appeals...

Some fabric combinations I am considering:

Seeing as this gift is for a German friend & I suspect we are the only South Africans she knows, I decided the Mandela fabric was appropriate. It is a ShweShwe fabric. I was about to write some information on ShweShwe when I found this brilliant blog post, written by Dagmar from Durban, and decided I could not have said it better!
Have a look here to see how the ladies in South Africa style this fabric.
Want some ShweShwe for your projects? Place your order before next April when I make my next trip to SA :)

I will cut the pocket piece out of the reverse side of the fabric so that the manufacturer's stamp (mentioned in Dagmar's blog) will be seen on the finished bag as well, so I will leave off the 3rd fabric & line the bag with the large spot for a fun contrast.

*Time saving trick:
Handbag pattern pieces are not too large, so when there are pieces on the fold that I have to cut multiple times, I make one on the fold of a piece of interfacing, then I use this as the template on all the layers of fabric I need to cut it from, pin VERY well & cut all the layers at once.

I use interfacing as opposed to silk pattern paper as the interfacing grips the fabric well, and allows you to pin in place without it slipping around.

And I have one piece of my interfacing cut out at the same time!

The pattern worked out 100%! The handles are a little tricky, and may take a bit of fiddling to match up at the end, but otherwise it was pretty straight forward. I doubted the whole bag would go through the handles, but it did!

And here is the finished product...

Want to make your own? Click on the picture of the bag on the right hand side of the page.
I will have to remember to take photos of the BIWC ladies bags on Wednesday!

Happy sewing....

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lingerie Class

I will be giving Lingerie making lessons at Mama Makada in Prenzlauerberg next week-end.
Here are the details...

die Nähschule

Du suchst nach einer Möglichkeit das Nähen zu lernen oder bist Hobbyschneiderin mit fehlendem Vertrauen in die eigenen Fähigkeiten? mama makadas Nähschule ist die Lösung für dich!

Wir bieten profesionelle Nähkenntnisse, die wir in Nähkursen an alle weitergeben, die sich textil-kreativ beschäftigen möchten.

Die Kurszeiten: Mittwoch und Samstag 10:00- 13:00 Dienstag, Donnerstag, Freitag 18:00- 21:00

Die Kurse sind einzeln buchbar und dauern 3 Stunden. Die Teilnehmerzahl liegt bei 3 - 4 Personen, und die Kursgebühr beträgt € 22,00 pro Person. Die 10er Karte gibt es mit 10% Rabatt für €198,00

Anmeldungen im Laden, telefonisch unter 030 65798195, oder online unter

laundry- handmade with di

Jeder Körper ist anders, und die wenigsten Menschen entsprechen den genormten Größen der Industrie. Mal zwickt der BH da, dann rutscht der Slip hier.. Vorschlag:

Probier doch mal deine Wäsche selbst zu nähen.

Di hat ihr Handwerk in Südafrika gelernt und es über die Jahre perfektioniert. Gerne gibt sie heute ihre fundiertes Wissen, vorzugsweise auf Englisch, bei mama makada weiter. Nachdem der Körper ausgemessen und die Schnitte angepasst wurden, schneiden wir zu und nähen den BH und den Slip. So entsteht in 2 Kursen mit jeweils 3 Stunden deine Traumwäsche die passt!

Termine laundry handmade Fr 28.Okt 18:00- 21:00 und Sa 29.Okt 10:00- 13:00


Unsere Nähschule ist ausgestattet mit Nähmaschinen für alle Teilnehmer. Wenn du aber deine eigene Maschine besser kennenlernen möchtest, kannst du sie gerne zum Kurs mítbringen und von uns erklären lassen. Zusätzlich stehen dir eine 3-Faden-, zwei 4-Faden- Overlockmaschinen sowie eine Coverstitch (alle Maschinen speziell für Jersey) zur Verfügung.

Unsere speziellen Angebote:

Overlock und Coverstitch zum Jersey nähen Schnittkurse nach Absprache Nähmaschinensprechstunde (mit Anmeldung)

Verbindliche Anmeldungen zu den Kursen jederzeit

im Laden, telefonisch unter 030 65798195 und 01797394265 oder online auf

Bei Absage weniger als 24h vor Kursbeginn wird 50% der Kursgebühr fällig. Dafür bitten wir um Verständnis.

Danziger Str. 51 10435 Berlin Tel/Fax 030 65798195 mobil 0179 7394265

Montag nach Absprache Dienstag - Freitag 11:00-19:00 Samstag 11:00-17:00

Friday, 21 October 2011


I received a really exciting parcel from a friend who was clearing out her cupboards - tons of fabric!

She handed over some great big pieces of 'by the meter' fabric she had bought and never used, as well as a whole load of table cloths, crocheted doilies and antimacassars handed down to her from older family members. Well, I am as unlikely as she is to drape these over the backs of my chairs, that fashion went out with the hair oils they were protecting the sofa from.   BUT, they are beautifully handmade and real works of art in their own right, and I am certain there are a million upcycling ideas I could use them for – watch this space.

There is one tablecloth in particular that caught my eye… It's a round, stone colored cloth, with hand embroidered daisies in a circle. I knew immediately what to upcycle it to. The colours tone well with my living room's palette, and the need for an extra cushion has been clear for a while - Huge and I fight over the two little ones I made when we moved in! I had a piece of green velvet that was the ideal backing, and I used a simple flap closure to finish the throw cushion.

* Always make the overlap of the flap sufficient so that the inner is not seen. I have added a button (which was part of a gift from my sister-in-law - I have been hoarding it for the perfect project) to lessen the gaping and make a pretty finish to the back side of the cushion.

Thanks Jilly Dilly!!

Converting a scarf into a throw cushion

As part of the guest bedroom revamp I finally used a gorgeous gift from the Antiques Diva - a silk scarf with scenes from around Berlin- to make a pillow for the bed.
It is a really simple process, that can be done by following theses steps:-

1. lightly press the scarf to even out the edges
2. choose a backing fabric
3. Make up your backing 1st with an enclosed zip - see Schuhby again... his video is GREAT!!
I added the zip close to the bottom edge of the backing so that it is hidden.
4. Place right side of backing against right side of scarf
5. Pin in place
7. Stitch around the edges - all 4 sides, trim corners of lining - not of scarf as silk is delicate & can run too easily
8. Turn the right way - this is why you needed the zip open!
9. press seams flat
10. Add an oxford flap if you would like to, or if your inner is smaller than your scarf

You are done!!!

Guest Bedroom make over

When we moved to Berlin wall stickers were a new craze & I went rather mad with them. The 1st purchase was a set of 3 red poppies that were GIANT prints of photos of the real thing - very pretty. And so, our red guest bedroom was born - I had to have a place to stick said poppies!

For over three years now, any pretty red decor piece I see has been bought for this room, resulting in a very red room that I got rather tired of!
Also, the blinds I had on the window did not block out the light at all, were fading terribly as they were not lined and lastly were very difficult to open due to the angle you had to pull the cord at.
With Kerry & Danny's much awaited visit about to happen, I decided it was the perfect time to make a change.

The 1st thing that had to go... those faded red blinds!

As Winter is almost upon us, nice thick velvet curtains were just the thing - added warmth.
I found the perfect fabric as well as a great video on You Tube by Schuhby showing you how to avoid all that horrid handwork & still have perfect curtains.

His video is in 3 parts:

Very simple to follow & make up. Do NOT skip any steps, the ironing is VERY NB!!

And now I have a new look...

To complete the revamp, I recovered the headboard (all you need is some fabric & a staple gun!), made a few new pillow slips, removed some of the red decor pieces to other rooms and converted a pretty scarf into a scatter cushion.
And the room looks COMPLETELY different.

It is really simple to redecorate without going to a lot of expense when you know how to use your sewing machine & you get comfortable with your screwdriver, drill & staple gun! I put up the curtain rod myself (after sawing it down to the correct length all on my own!). Believe you are able, and you will be!

Go on... give it a go!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Making Pillowcases

There is absolutely no reason not to have your own, custom made pillow cases! All you need is a strip of fabric, and ribbon or lace for detail (if you wish), and in 20 minutes you will have your own, perfect pillowcases!

Here's how...

Measure the width of your pillow, add 3cm to this measurement & this is the width you will cut your strip. Measure the length of your pillow, double it, add another 1/3 of this to your total and this is the length of your strip. Fold the strip, right sides together, at the length of your pillow, and then fold the extra piece back, so that the flap that the pillow will go under is formed.

If you want to add detail (ribbon, lace etc) this is when you will do it.

Now straight stitch each side seam at 1.5cm.

Overlock or zigzag the edge, folding the corner down so there is no seam showing on the outside of the pillowcase.

And you are done!!!

If your fabric has a pattern that needs to run the width of the fabric & will therefore not be wide enough to make it in one strip, simply cut each side with an added 3cm for seam & join the pieces before you fold - simple!