February 2012 archive

My first ever guest post; easy bias binding


Do you remember that I mentioned that I had a project to share with you that I was REALLY excited about?  You might not be quite as excited as I am, but the lovely Oz Material Girls asked me to write a guest post for them and it was published on their blog yesterday :)  They have over 9,000 likers on their Facebook page (!) and I woke up on Sunday morning to find my tutorial on easy bias binding in my newsfeed.  WOW, my tutorial popped up in the newsfeed of over 9,000 other people!  That’s about the closest I’ve gotten to (sewing) rock star status ;)  (And yes, I know that they wouldn’t ALL have seen it, but I still think it’s pretty cool :)

I love sewing and I dearly hope to be able to incorporate my sewing and crafting into my future.  It was really lovely to see some positive comments on my tutorial around Facebook on Sunday.

You can find my tutorial on an easy method of bias binding (including mitred corners) here.  I’ll pop it up on my blog in a little while :)  I hope you find it useful!

Tutorial: A faux quilt for Dolly


My Little Miss has just hit 18 months and is very much enjoying playing with her babies.  With each pregnancy we seemed to acquire at least two baby dolls to prepare the older children for the coming change in their lives.  We have not, however, acquired much doll paraphernalia and Little Miss has resorted to stealing face-washers out of the bathroom cabinet to play with her babies.  She enjoys nothing more than giving them a good clean and putting them to sleep under a face-washer.  Well, she also enjoys smearing them with sunscreen, peanut butter and yoghurt, but I try not to let that happen.

Anyway, I needed to do a quick project that involved bias binding (I’m VERY excited about sharing this with you soon!!!) and it seemed logical to make some bedding for Little Miss’s babies.  Who knows, I might be making them clothes next :)

As you know I LOVE using up my scraps.  Do you remember the scrappy coasters I made in December?  I have three fabric boxes overflowing with scraps and I keep every size from about 1″ square.  They will all be used eventually.  After looking through my fabric stash I decided that the doll’s quilt would be a great way to use up some scraps.

I will point out that technically this is NOT a quilt as there is not quilting involved, but it looks like a quilt, has no wadding and is so small that it doesn’t actually need quilting.  So, for Dolly’s sake we’re calling it a quilt ;)

I hope you find this tutorial useful!

Measure your Doll’s bed.  If you don’t have one you could use a shoe box and cover it in wrapping paper or let your Little One paint it.  You might like to base your quilt size on how much fabric will be needed to cover Dolly when she is laying in bed, or prehaps you would just like a quilt that lays flat on the bed.  Our Doll’s bed is 16.5″ x 8.5″. I would like Dolly to be somewhat covered so am aiming for a quilt size of 15″ x 10″.

Now, hit your scrap stash.  You could go for a rainbow colour scheme or choose a theme.  I’ve gone for blues and pinks.  You want scraps that are 1″ wider than the desired width of the quilt.  My strips are all 11″ wide (except for the deep red strips which are 10″ wide as I was using scraps) and range in height from .875″to 3.875″.

In order from top to bottom my strips are the following heights 2.5″, 1.5″, .875″, 3.875″, 1.5″, 1.875″, 2″, 1.875″, .875″, 1.375″, 2.25″.  I’m including these measurements in case you want to replicate my quilt exactly.  These sizes were selected based on my available scraps.  You can cut your strips to whatever size as you want as long as their combined height by width meets your required bedding size.  Remember to take you 1/4″ seam allowances into account. 

I always make quilts with a 1/4″ seam so to make sure I have enough strips I added up their combined heights and subtracted 1/4″ for each raw edge.  You could easily cut regular sized strips so you know that you have enough.  However I like using every last bit of my scraps and you can always add a couple of extra strips or trim your quilt before basting.

Lay out your strips and decide on your placement.  It’s a good idea to either take a photo or number your strips at this point.

Sew your strips together using your 1/4″ foot as a guide.

Hooray, you should now have a quilt top that looks like this :)
Take your quilt top and place it right side down on your ironing board.  You now want to press your seams to one side.  It doesn’t matter if you decide to press your seams to the left or the right, what you need to think about is the colour of your fabrics.  For example, I always press my seams toward the darker coloured strip to avoid the seam allowance showing through on the right side of the quilt top.  This means that some of my seams are to the left and some to the right.
You now need to select your backing fabric.  I had some minky scraps and knew that my Little Miss would love a soft minky back on her Dolly’s quilt.  Cut your backing fabric to size.  My quilt backing is 15.5″ x 11″
Lay your backing right side down.  With your quilt top right side up, line up your edges.
Now you need to trim your quilt to size.  I want to trim my quilt to 15″ x 10″.
Now pin your quilt top and back together.
We are going to eventually finish our quilt with bias binding.  To make this easier we want to baste around the outside edge of our quilt at this point.  You want to sew as close to the edge of your quilt as possible so that you basting stitches are hidden in your seam allowance.  Using my 1/4″ foot as a guide my basting stitches are 1/8″ from the raw edges of the quilt.

Can you believe that I forgot to take a photo of my quilt at this important stage? :(  It will look like the below photo but with only the basting stitches (the outermost stitching).

And voila!  You have you quilt basted and ready to bind.  If you hang about a few days I’ll have a tutorial up to help you finish off your quilt :)  You can find the tutorial for the bias binding here.  It’s my first ever guest post over at The Oz Material Girls =D  It will end up looking like this :)

Best tool ever for threading elastic through casing!


I mentioned here way back in October a nifty tool that I used to thread cord through the casing of 263 gift bags.  WAY better than a safety pin!!  You need this tool!  I got it at my local sewing shop, the packaging was in German and I’ve no idea of what it would be called in English but here are the photos to help you find one :)

The smaller needle has a piece of 3/8″ elastic in it here.

The larger needle can open right to the tip and can therefore
fit larger pieces of elastic.

My sewing shop


If you follow me over at Suburban Adventures, you may have seen the first of a series of Streetscape posts that I put up today.  Whilst I try to steer away from cross promoting myself ;) I wanted to share this photo of my sewing shop.  It is located on the edge of the Quartier Latin in Noumea.  The lady who runs it is lovely, very friendly and full of character.  The floorboards are well worn and groan as she moves about the shop to help you find your sewing needs of the day.  Whilst there is a larger haberdashery shop just up the road, I love this little building and it’s keeper.  I’ve found some great sewing items that look like they’ve been on display for 25 years and it makes my day every time I visit.

My Buttercup Bag


You might remember that I am a member of an online sewing group that challenges members to sew an item a week throughout the year.  The first week of each month has a theme, and the theme last week was “Bags; Sewing For Me.”  I had a tough time choosing the right fabric and pattern but in the end I went with The Buttercup Bag by Made by Rae.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I’ve made a few bags before and seeing as my creative time is limited I wanted to make something that I will use a lot, hence my fabric choice.  Plus, part of living in France means that you really need a handbag to match each outfit or you just shouldn’t carry one ;)  There are a few more bags on pinterest that I will make, but I have some gifts that I have to focus on first.
The tutorial is easy to follow and I would recommend it.  I scaled mine up, by cutting it about half an inch bigger than the pattern pieces.  Sure, I could have scaled it up using the printer, but that would involve knowing how to use my printer…
I didn’t really follow the instructions but went went about it the way that was easiest for me.  For example, I sewed on the button embellishment with the machine before sewing the lining and outer piece together (who has time for hand-stitching???).  I also caught the strap between the outer and lining pieces as I wanted a neater look and, for the same reason, I top-stitched all of my seams (I think this should be done for all bags whether the pattern tells you to or not.  It looks good and strengthens the end product).  
Delilah lost inside my bag.  Topstitching a bag this size is possible, just a
bit annoying!  Go slowly and stop regularly to check that you’re not
accidentally feeding two layers through the machine.
I sewed two pockets into the lining (but in hindsight I placed them a little too high) and I had to reshape the bottom of the bag slightly as my lining piece and outer bag piece didn’t line up for some reason…
My trusty rotary cutter came to the rescue and voila! The outer piece
 and lining match up ;)

Would I make the Buttercup Bag again?  Yes, definitely!  I’ve used it a couple of times since I made it, but only when it matches my outfit ;)

Tired Maternity t-shirt to summer dress


I have (gladly!) given away pretty much all of my maternity wear.  I do have a couple of items hanging about that were good for breastfeeding, but I’m so sick of them that they have not been worn for a long time.  So, I decided to turn an old maternity t-shirt into something that would actually get worn!
A few months back I unfortunately ruined some gorgeous Michael Miller Pretty Bird fabric by pre-washing it with another blue which ran :(  It is such a special fabric that I still wanted to use it.  I only had a yard and thankfully the worst staining was near one of the selvedges.  I’m hoping the end result is so lovely that no one notices the remaining discoloration :)
My stained yard of Michael Miller Pretty Birds
So, in case you have some old t-shirts (or maternity tops) that need to be repurposed into something pretty, here is how I made my dress.
1 yard fabric (I used cotton.  You could easily use 1 meter or more.)
1 maternity t-shirt
enough 1″ width elastic to go around your waist  (I used 1″ elastic for comfort, but you could use any width really as long as you are comfortable sewing with it.)
Matching thread
Sewing machine
Overlocker/Serger (not necessary but makes it quicker)
1. Take in your maternity t-shirt until it fits snugly.  Remember that it is stretch so you will need to alter the tension on your overlocker and stretch your fabric out as it passes through the machine.  (Skip this step if you are using a regular fitting t-shirt.)
2. Iron your yard of fabric.  Cut it in half selvedge to selvedge so you now have two half yard pieces.  If you’re short like me this will give you just enough for a skirt.  If you’re taller you might want to add an extra band of fabric to lengthen to skirt or have your skirt starting on your hips.
3.  With right sides facing join your two pieces of fabric at the selvedges, remembering to come in an inch or so to ensure that you don’t end up with selvedges showing in your skirt.  If your fabric is directional make sure that both pieces are the same way up.
4.  Overlock or zigzag both raw edges of your skirt piece.
5.  Hem the bottom of your skirt using the smallest hem possible.  I overlocked, folded up once and then once again so my hem is about 1/4″.
6.  Mark the point on your t-shirt where you would like your skirt to start.  I went for my natural waist line.  Cut your shirt off about an inch below this line and overlock your edge.
Wow!  Look how crooked my cutting is there! Opps!
7.  Take your elastic and cut it slightly smaller than your waist (or the point at which you will join it to your t-shirt).  Join the ends together to form a circle.
Now you want to gather your skirt.  There are a number of ways to do this, but I wanted quick, simple and comfortable.  I didn’t use pins as I am lazy when it comes to sewing for me.
8.  Make four equally spaced marks on your elastic circle.  You can do this by laying your elastic circle flat and mark the two “ends”, next place these two marks together and mark the ends again.    
9.  Pin your elastic to the wrong side of the top of your skirt.  Use your markings to aid you in evenly pinning your elastic.  Don’t worry that your elastic is much smaller than your skirt, you will stretch the elastic out while you sew and it will gather your skirt for you.  Just make sure that your elastic can stretch as far as the circumference of your skirt.
9.  Select a stitch on your machine that is appropriate for elastic, if you don’t have a specific stitch, use a zigzag. (You have already finished all of your edges so you are only thinking about attaching your skirt to elastic.)
10.  With your elastic flush to the top of your skirt, attach your elastic to the wrong side of your skirt. Just keep stretching out your elastic.  You will need to stop regularly so make sure that your machine is in needle down mode :)
You now have a lovely gathered skirt that you want to join to your cut off t-shirt.
11.  Turn your skirt right side out and your t-shirt wrong side out.  Place your skirt inside your t-shirt with the bottom of the t-shirt against the top of the skirt.
12.  With edges flush pin the top of your skirt to the bottom of your t-shirt.  Again you will want to use an elastic or stretch stitch. When joining your top and skirt make sure that you sew further in than your previous stitching.  Don’t forget to stretch out your t-shirt and elastic a little as you feed it into the machine.
13.  Turn inside out and voila!  You now have a dress.
I was really happy with my dress but I felt that it looked a little like a t-shirt and skirt sewn together so I made a fabric brooch to go with it :)  
My maternity t-shirt hadn’t been worn for a year but I wore this dress the day after I made it and felt gorgeous all day!
This is my first attempt at a tutorial so I’d love your feedback!  Please be nice :)

I don’t normally do this, but…


Do you remember that I made the Brooke Dress for my Little Miss?

Well, Brynnberlee are having a giveaway and I think that you (and I!) should enter :)  The prize is a $50 voucher to spend in their shop.  You need to head over to iCandy to enter.  I am really happy with the Brooke Dress and will definitely try another of their patterns :)

Bags, Bags, Bags!


You may remember that I mentioned that I have joined a facebook group that invites members to sew an item a week during 2012.  The first week of each month has a theme and this week is “Bags, Sewing for you”.  I LOVE bags but I basically use one over and over and over and over and…  Well, I need a new bag, maybe more than one.

I went on a bit of a pinning spree, so if you feel like sewing yourself a handbag check out my Pinterest Bags Board here.  There are lots more free bag tutorials out there, but these ones appeal to me.  I have narrowed it down to the Buttercup Bag, For Pleates Sake or Beginners Bias Tape Bag.  In terms of fabric, I think I’ve narrowed it down to five…  What do you think?

But I’m also considering these.

I better get cracking, we’re already halfway through naptime (read: sewing time)!