A new blind

Way back when I was maybe 3 months pregnant my mum gave me a cool piece of fabric that looked perfect for the nursery window. But I kept putting off the idea of making a blind… Partly because I was tired, partly because I’d never done anything like that before and partly because I hadn’t bought the rods and things I’d need to make a roman blind. Now, with a nearly 5 month old, who will be moving into the nursery in the not too distant future, and a bank holiday weekend when my husband Mark could look after Mr E lots, seemed a good time to try to get it done.

I’d ordered a roman blind kit from arcadia, as I’d looked online at buying all the bits separately and it just seemed too complicated and too expensive. The kit was pretty expensive too and I did wonder if I should just scrap the idea and buy a blind, but Mark encouraged me to go for it. So, on Saturday, straight after the first feed of the day I headed downstairs and dusted off Sissy, ready for a day of sewing. 3 hours later I had finally managed to iron the fabric, make a mini test one to check i’d understood the first set of instructions correctly, and cut the blackout lining to size. It is always pretty scary cutting the fabric, and i’d never cut anything this big so I struggled to know where to put it and how to cut it. I had to keep putting down my sewing table to create enough floor space to lay it all out. And even then I cut it whole it was folded in half as I thought that was safer than trying to move a half cut piece of fabric and still get a straight line.

After lunch (mine, not Mr E’s!) I was ready to start sewing. Poor Sissy needed some adjusting to get the tension right but we got there in the end.

I got the sides sewn together and pressed out and was pleased to discover it was the right size. I kept going, adding velcro to the top, and at this stage I noticed black coming through the stitch holes. Although the blackout material is silver on one side and white on the other I later discovered there’s black inside that was getting pushed or pulled through by the needle which was a shame but I couldn’t stop it happening. My sewing wasn’t particularly straight either but I figured it would have to do.

Then it was time to add the rod tapes. I did better at sewing in a straight line but I made a big mistake when I’d sewn two of the tapes on and moved onto the third. They only need sewing along the top, which was their right hand edge. But then I turned the blind round for the third tape so less of it was scrumpled up between the needle and the rest of Sissy. Annoyingly I was then in the habit of sewing down the right hand edge, and I’d done nearly the whole of it before I realised my mistake. I sewed the correct edge and then set to unpicking my mistake, which has left little pinprick holes in the blackout fabric, and took significantly longer than sewing it in the first place!

There was a huge sense of relief to discover that the rods actually went in!

The final job of the day was cutting the bottom of the blind to size (scary) and folding the bottom up to create a pocket for the bottom strip. But then I decided to wait until Mark had put up the fittings to check the length and adjust before sewing. That was a job for sunday!

I was super frustrated to discover that the blind was rather too short… And having cut the fabric I didn’t have much to play with, but I did what I could, sewed it up and then added the rods and hand sewed the ends up so they can’t fall out.

Finally it was ready to hang, and mark finished sorting the chain mechanism this morning. It’s all done, it’s marginally too short in the middle… Presumably because I didn’t quite fold the edge straight while ironing… The two ends touch the windowsill but the middle goes up a millimetre or two. And it’s frustrating that that’s what I’ve focused on rather than the fact that I made a blind from scratch that looks cool and matches the yellow theme of the room with the painted wall and the watford football kit! And that I got it finished on the weekend we had designated four the job. I knew it would never black out all of the light because the mechanism means it hangs away from the wall, and I’m not sure even a bought blind would have managed that. So I’m working on feeling proud of my achievement, but I’m not entirely there yet.

I’m pleased with how neatly it folds up, but disappointed there are headless chickens as the main feature
It’s darker in the room, but still quite a bit of light sneaking in
You can see the pinprick from the unpicking just below the third rod line!

A viking dress!

Hey there everyone. Sorry its been such an age. First I couldn’t craft because of our trip that involved travelling through the South of Sweden, over into Copenhagen, Denmark and then to Edinburgh. Travelling with hand luggage only rather prohibited me from taking any projects. I really missed crafting while I was away, but then found it hard to get back into it when I got home. I finally had to dust off sissy (my sewing machine) and get to work transforming an old brown curtain into a viking lady’s apron dress for a dress up day in school! I’m pleased with how it turned out, apart from not thinking through how flappy the top corners would be (not that that shows in this photo!)

While working on the ties I accidentally misjudged how many I would need, and made 4 and thought I was done! I actually needed 8,so I wondered if it would be quicker to make button holes on the front to thread the ties through and tie them back on themselves. After a bit of fiddling…. And then reading the sewing machine manual (!) I figured out how to make button holes! I decided against them in the end, but I’m glad I now know how to do them. It was kind of fun just putting my foot on the pedal and just watching the sewing machine figure out what to do!

Plus, I’ve now got out my crochet hooks and have started making an autumnal toadstool, thanks to sonspopkes. Its a simple pattern to follow and I got this far in an hour.

I finally have a top (sort of!)

Well, several days ago I started cutting the pieces to make this top

I’ve worked on it a bit at a time. I spent about 7 hours on it on Thursday and finally felt like I was making progress as I ended up with this.

Today I finished facing the waistband and attached the zip. As I’m currently at my mum’s and using her sewing machine I sewed the zip on by hand due to her not having a zipper foot for her machine. I’ve finished the rest off with her machine and can wear it!

I’m a bit frustrated by how baggy the left side is by the zip (though you can’t see that particularly in these photos), so, seeing as how i need to top stitch the invisible zip when I get home tomorrow anyway, I may just unpick my hand sewing and take it all in a bit. It might be risky and could ruin it completely… But hopefully not.

In the meantime, although this was a horrid material to cut, and a not terribly easy pattern to follow, I actually have a wearable top. I’ve not been put off following patterns and actually bought some gorgeous materials today to make a pattern by simplicity which looks a lot easier to do.

Although this pattern was tricky I have learnt loads :

  • How to follow a pattern
  • How to make my own bias binding
  • How to sew on bias binding properly
  • How to gather a section
  • The importance of shortening your stitch again after gathering and before joining seams (I felt better when I saw that Lauren made the same mistake during the final of the first series of British sewing bee!!)
  • What basting means and why it’s important (tacking the material in place with stitches you’ll later remove)
  • Patterns might not be too tricky if you take them one instruction at a time
  • Mistakes can usually be remedied (I sewed the facing on the waistband in the wrong place and then thought how good it would be to have something covering up all the raw edges that were in there… Yep… That’s the job of the facing! Once it was reattached in the right place it looked tons better… And covered those raw edges
  • Sometimes more pins are better
  • I can actually make my own clothes!

I don’t think this will ever be my favourite piece of clothing, but for now I’m pleased with it. I’ll let you see it when I finally finish the zip section.

Also today I got to try out free machine stitching with Mary, a friend of my mum’s. She invited us to have a look at her work room and it was fab to meet her and to see some of her work. She showed me how to free stitch and this is what I did.

It reminds me of those drawings where you’re not allowed to take your pen off the paper, and funnily enough I often really like the effect you get when you go back over a line. It was definitely easiest to control the movement of the fabric when it was in an embroidery hoop, and I was really pleased with what I ended up with. Now I just need to work out how to set my machine up for it and I’ll be good to go with a whole new area of craft!

Another project bag

Well, yesterday evening I was replying to a comment on the post about my sister’s skirt when I suddenly realised that I need to make her second skirt before next weekend. Not only that but I also needed to put together a gift for a poorly friend, make a project bag, crochet a funky bag and crochet some flowers… All before next weekend (oops πŸ€”).

I had been planning an early night, but instead I nipped downstairs, uncovered sissy, loaded her bobbins, got cutting on my new much larger cutting mat that my lovely husband bought me, and made a project bag. It’s a bit unseasonal as it looks like Christmas material, but it’s for someone who collects gingerbread people and snowflakes, so I thought the material would be perfect for her.

I then sewed together the offcuts from the corners in order to make two little lavender pillows. I decided to make the hole quite small so I didn’t have to hand sew much but then I discovered how time consuming it is trying to turn an inside out item through a too small hole, and then trying to stuff Stuffing through it and funnel lavender flowers in. I got there in the end though!

I’m quite pleased as I used lavender from my garden that I’d picked and dried, which I think was from a plant grown from the lavender in my wedding bouquet. I need to check if I’ve remembered that right (mum…have I just made that up?!), but if I’m wrong then it’s from Γ  plant that my parents in law gave my husband when he had moved in (which is also a Nice story!) . We actually have two lavender plants and I took flowers from both. Oh goodness me, I’m waffling now about the origins of my lavender plants!! Hope you’re all still awake… Or not, actually, if you happen to be suffering from insomnia πŸ˜‚

I think I’d best sign off here… I think I am overexcited with weekend fever, and possibly the excitement of rain earlier in the day! Gonna try to calm down by crocheting a little flower from this months simply crochet magazine

But quickly, I made a little bookmark for my poorly friend’s parcel, using her initial. I’m quite pleased with it apart from the fact that the card bled a bit when I made the thicker areas. Might try water colour paper next time.

Have a lovely weekend everyone

Bee embroidery

A while back I bought a kit from oh sew bootiful. I’d seen pictures of it made up and thought it looked stunning, and then when I got the printed fabric out of the box I felt disappointed. It seemed smaller than I expected, and I just didn’t really like it.

But, today I started work on it, and funnily enough, sewing on top of the print totally transforms it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I should have known!

It’s been relaxing and I’ve really enjoyed learning how to do the lazy daisy stitch which I’ve never done before, and improving on my satin stitch which I’ve previously struggled with.

There is padding on the back of the fabric and as I’m sewing it’s really adding depth to the illustration.

I’ve got quite a bit done and am really pleased with my progress so far.

I initially did back stitch on the flower stems but didn’t really like the look of it. I experimented with split stitch and loved the fact that it gave a much more natural look to the stems.

I wondered if I’d have to unpick all my stems and start again,but I decided to try splitting the back stitches that were already there, and that seemed to work, even though the stitches were a bit smaller than I’d have liked.

I’m loving the fact that my satin stitch is definitely improving as I work on the poppies and bees.

Hopefully I might get it finished tomorrow afternoon.

Working workout instructions

Today I quickly knocked up a little zippered pouch. I’ve made a couple of zippered bags before and always used instructions (which doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve done them right!). Today it was part laziness (sewing equipment downstairs, phone upstairs) and partly the idea that if I figure things out for myself then I’m more likely to understand and remember how to do them. So here is the pouch I made with no instructions!

It didn’t exactly turned out as I’d plannedπŸ˜‚. For a start it was meant to have elephants on the outside and paisley on the inside. But the first attempt to sew the zip on went wonky and didn’t catch all the zip edge, and after one lot of unpicking I really couldn’t face a second lot when I realised the paisley was on the outside and the elephants on the inside. Oh well… Both materials are pretty so maybe I’ll mix them up! Now both are represented on the outside and both on the inside. I quite like it though!

The zip edges are not as neat as they could be… I couldn’t remember how/be bothered to cover the ends with fabric. I finished it off with a bit of hand stitching, so there are no unfinished ends at least.

But overall, for a quick project, I’m really pleased with it… It was about 45 minutes from start to finish (including clearing some space on the table to sew!!). It looks pretty, its sturdy, and the zip works, and I got it finished before the football started (what more could you ask for!!). 😊

A llama and a shawl

This evening, while watching poldark I quickly made up this cute little felt llama. My sister is feeding rather under the weather, with labyrinthitis and 3 children to home school, so I wanted to make something for her so she at least has some happy mail.

It’s from a kit by the make arcade and its quick and easy to do. I Like that you get templates, so if you like a design you can just get more felt and make another one! I hope she likes it!

Over the last week or so I’ve also been working on this windmill shawl, which is now quite a repetitive pattern of 2 alternating rows. I’m not sure what I think of patterns where the rows get progressively longer though… It feels a bit disheartening.

I made myself a skirt πŸ˜

I can hardly believe it!

Several weeks ago I bought some seriously gorgeous Lewis and Irene fabric with the idea of making myself a wrap around skirt. I had no pattern so we guessed at how much I might need, especially given the material all needed to be the same way up!

Thankfully mags at the patchwork basket in Newent knows her stuff and it turns out she cut me just the right amount of fabric. Phew!

A bit of Internet searching found me this tutorial by we all sew. It looked simple enough, but boy did it take a lot of courage to get started! The idea of cutting into an expensive piece of fabric…. Making a mistake…. Ruining the whole thing. Eventually a conversation with my ever patient husband concluded that the price of the material was probably less than a sewing lesson (and even if I messed up totally I’d learn lots, and could always use the smaller pieces of fabric to make lots of small bags and pencil cases πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚).

So, the measuring started, at which point I discovered that my fabric wasn’t wide enough for the bottom of the back part of the skirt if I worked it out according to the pattern. Oh well, it’ll just flare a little less if I have a couple of inches less along the hem. Hmm… What do I need to do to the other sections to make sure they connect properly? Cue husband again, who employed trigonometry to figure out I could just reduce the other bottom hems proportionally and my angles would work. Phew… Again!

After a moment’s panic when I thought my material wasn’t long enough to get the three sections I needed, I finally put my new rotary cutter to use and cut three parts.

After that it was easy! I followed the instructions and after maybe 3 hours of work in total, I can now wear this!

I may modify the design a bit before making another one, probably reducing the flare even more, and maybe working out how to add some pockets, but I’d definitely like some more of these in my wardrobe in different gorgeous fabrics.

Impulse buy πŸ€—

Oh I am so excited to share this post with you. In December I had no sewing machines. Then at Christmas Sissy arrived.

Now, sissy has an older sibling! Welcome to serenity! Hopefully sissy won’t get too upset, she’s still the baby after all!

This came about when I went into a local antiques and vintage store and saw this beauty sitting on the side.

How could I resist??? Do you blame me???

She stayed in the shop last night so we could go and pick her up in the car today.

This afternoon I was going to have a rest but then I decided to find out if she really worked!!

Several you tube videos later and I had succeeded in winding the bobbin and loading it into the shuttle, and I had threaded the main thread. I played around with a scrap of material, quickly discovered you can’t go backwards with a hand crank but have to turn the work so you can oversew it.

Then I made this spring weight infinity scarf for my niece using the flamingo materials she had sent me. I fear it may be too long for her but I think she’ll enjoy it anyway!

Look at this lovely stitching!

I’m loving having a piece of history in my home, especially one so beautiful. I’ve put her to bed under her cover but it seems a shame to hide her really.