Category Archives: sew sew

While we were waiting…

Hello blog friends! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted. I was a little busy growing a tiny human, but that’s no real excuse!

In and out

Baby Vita was born  in July, 13 days late at the end of a long, hot, heat wave. You should have seen the size of my ankles by the time he was born! Since then we’ve been getting to know each other and I am pleased to report that at seven weeks old he is a shmooshy, smiley little chunk. He probably won’t be showing his face on the blog, but trust me, it’s a cute one!

Unfortunately, as some point during the two-week wait for him to finally make his appearance, I got antsy decided to mess with the server of my blog and all the pictures from the last year or so disappeared! I will eventually get my act together and sort this out (for my sake, I’m sure you didn’t notice or don’t mind) but until this baby starts sleeping a little better, you might just have to bear with my sloppy appearance.

Here’s a few other things made while we were waiting for Baby Vita…

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I made the baby a quilt. It’s pretty big for a baby (lap size) but we’ve been snuggling under it together in the mornings and I really like it. IMG_9112

I made a pair of tiny harem trousers using this pattern (although I made it a bit bigger, which was lucky as Baby Vita was 9lb 6oz!). He’s wearing these asleep on my chest right now! IMG_9121_2

I made him a sunbonnet out of one of his dad’s old work shirts (using the collar for the stiff brim so I didn’t have to bother with interfacing). I used this pattern from Purl Soho, which I highly recommend. I made the neck ties velcro because my pregnancy hamster brain was worried about strangulation. (My new-mother brain laughed at this because my new-mother brain wouldn’t leave the baby alone wearing something as dangerous as a sun hat!)
IMG_9538I grew tomatoes, herbs and green beans in the garden. These lucky few made it into a bolognese, sadly the rest rotted on the vine while we were too busy keeping the baby alive!

bloomers

I made these bloomers from this Knick Knack Knickers pattern from Anna Maria Horner, also using one of Mr Vita’s old work shirts (this was a Pierre Cardin, so nice to sew with!). Writing this reminds me that he hasn’t actually worn these yet, which is probably because they’re very silly! Luckily he will fit in them a while longer so I have plenty of time to embarrass my poor son by making him wear pantaloons. IMG_8499Finally I made these trousers from an old dress and this pattern. They are a little funky, but that’s the charm of homemade, right? Ask my baby again when he’s ten and I’m still making him wear mama-made clothes!

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New Home 611 sewing machine review and manual

Sewing table

Do you ever post something just because before you did it / learnt it you couldn’t find it on Google? Well, this post is one of those posts. I love my sewing machine but there is NOTHING out there about it and I wanted to remedy that, in case anyone in the same situation I was two years ago (in a charity shop, googling a review of a sewing machine to see if they should buy it or not!) Sorry that this post will be boring for most of you… I’ve put everything behind a jump to make it easier to skim!

 

New Home 611 sewing machine manual

So, without further ado, after the jump you’ll find my review of my New Home 611 sewing machine and pictures of every page of the manual. (One day I’ll photocopy the manual into a PDF, but that day is not today, too lazy.)

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Pisces baby quilt

If you follow me on instagram you’re probably bored of me teasing you with pictures of this quilt buuuut it’s all done now so here it is with our resident newborn model, Kermit the Frog!

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I put Kermit on it for scale so you can see that I accidentally made it totally massive (42 x 52 inches). Oh well, the baby can use it until it’s old enough for sleepovers, plus it’s a nice size for using as a lap quilt on the sofa (as I discovered when I was hand finishing the binding in front of the TV this week!).

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This quilt is for the same baby that got those little trousers a few weeks ago. The baby will be a Pisces like me, so (even though I don’t really believe in horoscopes), I thought this mix of sea on the front and stars would on the back would suit the little one. The salt water fabrics that I used for the top are so much fun, with all manner of sea creatures (and submarines!) hiding in the patterns.salt water constellations quilt 7

I made up the pattern on the top as I went along. It was nice to take a lot more risks with quilt, compared to the last baby quilt I made where I was quite “safe” with my fabric choices and the pattern. I started from the top with full stripes of all the different fabrics, and then worked in strips down from there, epiecing the fabrics together. I started with some bits precut, but in the end I was just cutting the fabric and playing with it like a jigsaw and then sewing it together. It was fun! One thing I learnt was that some of the fabrics that I wasn’t that fond of when they arrived (like the stripes), actually looked sooo good once they were cut up into little pieces and up against other patterns.

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I ordered the fabrics online and when the arrived I was a bit worried that the two different hues of blue on the front and back didn’t really go…. But once it the top was all sewn up I took into into my local quilt shop with the backing fabric and spent my lunch break browsing fabrics. Once I found this beautiful yellow the two blues really started to sing and I fell in love.

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Here’s one of my favourite bits! I had this seagull ribbon in my stash and at first I just sewed it into the binding, but then I figured it would be nice to reinforce it so that the baby’s mum (my friend) could use it to hang the quilt up on a hook if need be.

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Here’s a better view of the backing fabric with all its funny constellations. I quilted it with a triple zig zag stitch on my machine for some more wavy-ness. I wasn’t thrilled with the way this turned out (I have got to figure out how to work the walking foot I got for Christmas!), but I think it works.

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I attached the binding using the machine for one side and then secretly hand stitching on the other. I did all this using yellow thread that matched the binding, but as I was doing the hand stitching, I realised that I should have matched the machine thread to the quilt not the binding, so that it would be less visible if any bits did stick out of the binding.

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Materials:

Front: six skinny quarters of various Salt Water by Tula Pink fabrics in the ‘aqua’ colourway from the Village Haberdashery (I emailled Annie the shop owner and she cut them skinny not fat for me so that I could do the long stripes at one end of the quilt).

Back: 1.5 metres of Lizzy House constellations night blue from Backstitch (this was the harrrdest blue to photograph ever but look at the gorgeous pattern!)

Binding: about half a metre of Kona Solids mustard yellow (I think! It doesn’t look like any of the swatches online but what does that mean?!)

Batting: Bamboo Blend 50/50 bamboo cotton batting (I bought this off a roll at my local quilt shop though).

(I really like this batting! It’s snuggly and warm but still folds up really well so the quilt isn’t too much of a behemoth. I think the technical terms to describe it are: high drapability, low loft and high resilience. The lady in the shop said it wasn’t really necessary to pre-wash it before use (unless you were making a very pale quilt – the washing is recommended to remove any traces of oil from any cottonseed husks left in the batting). It will shrink about 5 per cent in the wash for that wrinkly look.)

Time: Started after work last Wednesday, finished Tuesday lunchtime. Two solid evenings and a Saturday morning, the rest in bits and pieces.

Cost: quilt top £24 (I have scraps left over but nothing else), quilt back £18, binding £3.50 (I used half a metre of £7/metre fabric), batting £8.10 (1.5 metres of the baby quilt width). Total = £56.50 (Plus p&p on some items and three – count ’em! – three 100m spools of gutermann thread at £1.55 a pop) (two blue and one yellow) (I only finished one of those fully though)

(I put the time and cost just to show why custom quilts cost so much on places like Etsy and why I won’t be going into business any time soon! I also thinking quilting cottons might be more expensive in the UK than the US?)

My favourite quilting tutorials: All linked up in this blog post

Let’s finish this up with one more picture of our beautiful baby all wrapped up!

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I love making quilts for babies! I spent a lot of time while I was making this quilt, just thinking about this little baby that we’re all so excited to meet. One of my other friends said that maybe I should be careful of setting a precedent that everyone’s babies get quilts, but for now I’d rather work on getting faster at quilting than give up on giving them! (Ask me again in a few years though.)

Baby trousers! (Winter Pinterest Challenge)

Here’s a short and sweet post for a short and sweet project.

 Rae's basic newborn baby pant lined

Kermit loves modelling, and he’s so good at it too.

The first of my close friends is due next month and we are all SO EXCITED, yet also a little unprepared because we’ve never done this before! I plan on making the baby a baby quilt, but when one of her friends organised her a last minute baby shower dinner thing, I wanted a quick project to give her (the quilt won’t be finished till the baby is born).

 

So I turned to my pins and found this lovely free pattern from Made by Rae and got to serging (oh yeah! I did all the guts of these on my new overlocker). I was going to just make them unlined in this black and white elephant fabric, buuuut then after cutting them out and sewing them up, I realised I had cut the elephants out upside down. Ruh-roh.

So I pulled out my copy of Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings and copied the construction of her quick change trousers to make a these into lined pair of trousers.

To do this, you make two identical pairs of trousers and sew everything except the waistband and leg openings. Then slip one pair into the other, right sides facing. Sew a seam along the top of both pairs of trousers. Turn inside out, then top stitch about half an inch under the waist band, leaving a small opening to slip quarter inch elastic through. Thread the elastic through and then zig zag stitch the ends of the elastic together and complete the top stitching so it looks all nice. I didn’t take any pictures of this but thankfully I used horribly clashing thread for the top stitching so you should be able to figure it out…. Once you’ve turn that, turn all four leg openings up quarter of an inch with the iron and top stitch all the way around. You’re done!

 Rae's basic newborn baby pant lined

And those upside down elephants on the inside? Perfect turn ups!

This post is part of the Pinterest Challenge, organised by Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love), Michelle (Decor and the Dog), and Megan (The Remodeled Life).

Thanks guys!

Joining the Brother 1034D club

Madeira in february

The week before last, I spent a lovely week in Madeira with one of my best friends (and bridesmaids). We didn’t really know what to expect (we booked our flights last minute so just went as far south as we could without spending a fortune.

It was gorgeous, but such a funny place. It feels like you’re in Portugal (and technically you are), but you’re actually off the coast of Africa.You can be lazing on the beach in the sun and then get in the car and 15 minutes later you’re up a mountain in the fog. The food was incredible (including lots of lovely Portuguese pastries and vino tinto!). It really is a wonderful place, and the people were so, so nice. (When we couldn’t find our hotel, a man hopped in his car and told us to follow him, then drove ten minutes across town to show us where it was!)

Anyway, when we got back, Mr V told me that he’d bought me my birthday present (my birthday is next month) and needed me to check out whether it was right because it was second-hand and if there was anything wrong with it he needed to send it back asap.

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That lovely sneak had paid attention when I was babbling about wanting an overlocker/serger and found out which one I wanted and there it was! Waiting for me! (If Mr V was down with his photo on the blog, this is where there would be a “Hey girl, I bought you that sewing gadget that I don’t understand because I really want another noisy machine in the flat.”)

(I wanted this one because I’d seen it lurking in the sewing rooms of some of my favourite stitchers, including Karen, Andrea, Tilly and the Colette studio. I normally research things like this death, but I figured those guys wouldn’t have bought it if it was a duff and I really really wanted a machine that lots of other people had so there would be lots of tutorials and YouTube videos on it, plus this Pattern Review thread was really reassuring.)

I was both incredibly excited and utterly terrified. This is a complicated machine with four threads and two knives. KNIVES!  Normally I’m a real stickler about waiting till my birthday to use my presents, even if I know what they are, but after putting this back in the box and leaving it for a day, I realised I was just making The Fear worse, so I got it out and having been playing with it ever since.

I LOVE IT. Yeah, I’m still scared of rethreading it, but I’m in touch with a local sewing tutor and will be on her introduction to overlockers class as soon as it runs again (spending some the money I’d been saving up to buy an overlocker!). (Or I might buy this Craftsy class with Andrea’s 50 per cent discount.)

Anyway. My exact overlocker (The 1034D AV Limited Edition, whatever that means!) came with three extra feet (yaaay!) but nothing to catch the trimmings and lint, so I popped it on this Ikea tray WHICH MATCHES THE COLOURS PERFECTLY (I’m a leeetle excited about it). (I’d also read that having it on a tray made it easier to move around without getting your hand tangled in the threads). (That tray doesn’t seem to be on Ikea’s website anymore, but this one would look cute too!)

I wanted a little box to keep things like the tweezers and lint brush in, so I went to my stash of empty boxes (everyone has one of those, right?), and found this fancy Prada box that I rescued from an optician’s recycling bin as I just knew one day I’d find the perfect use for it.

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PERFECT! The box fits perfectly in that little nook of the machine and then when I’m using it, I just take the lid off and use that to catch the crap and use the bottom to hold all the bits and pieces I need nearby. PERFECT! I must save empty boxes from the rubbish more often!

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Those hand sewing needles are for weaving in the serger ends.

You can see in those images above that I also stuck labels all over it to help me remember what’s what (and what order it needs to be threaded in). I saw this idea on Tilly’s blog and also in the Pattern Review thread and shamelessly copied it.

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I also wanted a little pouch for all the less everyday accessories that came with the machine, so I serged one. (Like how I threw that in there all casual? Really I was grinning a manic-happy-scared smile the whole time like a 10 year old who was allowed to get behind the wheel of a bus.)

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(I added the velcro on my other machine, and no I didn’t change my thread to match).

And then to round out this weird little recap of things I did with my overlocker during its first week, here are two dusters I made out of an old t-shirt. You can wear them on your hands. JAZZ HANDS!

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No but really. I’m a proper boring grown up now, I made my own dusters and was really excited about it.

 

Vintage button giveaway!

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As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been spoilt rotten lately, so I thought it was time to give a little something back with my very first giveaway. (This is 100 per cent funded by me, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

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Up for grabs is a lovely card of buttons, plus whatever surprises I can rustle up before I put it in the post.

These buttons are vintage 1940s Czech glass. They’re lovely and solid, yet also glassy. I think they’d look perfect on a chambray dress, like this:

 

But! If you’re not into making clothes, you could also whip up two button up pillows using this tutorial, or change the buttons on a ready-to-wear cardigan like this. Or just hoard them with your other crafting supplies!

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There’s 3/4 inches across and have shanks.

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And they could be all yours! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post before midnight (GMT) next Wednesday and I’ll select a winner at random. I’m happy to post internationally and I always make my parcels pretty.

Sewing presents!

This is waaaay overdue but I wanted to share with you some lovely things that came in the post lately (recently would be a lie, this post is long overdue!).

First up, waaay back in November, I woke up one morning to discover I was the winner of Megan Nielsen Patterns’ incredibly generous anniversary giveaway

So I spent a little while anxiously tracking my parcel’s progress across the globe (how awesome is DHL’s tracking?!)

DHL tracking

And then my glorious package arrived! So much lovely sewing goodness!! I can’t wait to get sewing my new patterns (I chose Darling Ranges and the Banksia top and I’m so excited!) I just still have some Christmas presents to sew before I can get back into dress making for meeeee.

Megan Neilsen giveaway

All of this loveliness all bundled up in an “I make fashion” tote! Thanks, Megan.

And that’s not all the sewing goodness I’ve received lately… Thanks to KraftyKat’s sewists secret Santa, I got this lovely bundle in the post just before Christmas. (Click here to see what I sent Karen from Did You Make That?.)

Sewists Secret Santa

The green fabric is just dreamy and so perfect for making a top from and I love everything else. Thank you so much Santa! If you’re reading this and don’t mind revealing who you are, leave me a comment!

Aaaaand, while I’m on the subject, here’s a peek at my sewing-related Christmas presents (and a gorgeous tin I plan to keep sewing stuff in)….

Sewing Christmas presents

I was spoilt rotten this year…. it was ridonkulous. You should have seen the non-sewing presents I got!

So, that’s a long overdue round up of some things I’ve got lately.

I’ve felt so spoilt lately that I’ve decided to do a tiny giveaway on the blog this week to return a little bit of the favour. So check back for that…

What was your favourite present this year? I’m torn between that lovely box, a dragonfly necklace from Mr V and a collapsible washing up bowl for camping (I’m a practical girl!). I’m also over the moon to finally have a pair of pinking shears courtesy of my aunt.