Sunday, 22 February 2009

Top Totes!! KaireK

In case you were getting tired of my work I have included some examples of more inspirational totes you may like. The first examples are from KaireK who has a shop on etsy and more examples of her work can be seen on her flickr pages - beautiful designs, fabrics, colours and detailing. I aspire to all these things . . .

I made this! - Linen Tote Bag

Recently I have become obsessed with tote bags - maybe because they are relatively easy to sew - couldn't wait to try my hand at making one to my specifications. Used more of the lovely Romo Sapporo fabric which my sister bought me for Christmas along with some John Lewis scraps from my local haberdashery and then some lovely Harlequin Kini cotton for the lining.

Found a useful tutorial on Expert Village by Terri Turco on making a lined tote bag for anyone who fancies a go at this . . .

Saturday, 21 February 2009

I made this! - Birdcage Cushion

So far this has been my most adventurous creation. A birdcage cushion for my friend. Have had a great response on flickr so I thought I would post a mini how-to for making a piped cushion. As usual I spent a while digging around online to see how to do piping so I hope this is useful to some!

On this piece I used my favourite Romo Sapporo heavyweight linen/cotton as the front and a fine mink linen (used to be a blouse) for the back. The piping was a lime green linen blend which was quite stretchy. The design was inspired by my friends necklace (the friend I gave this cushion to). I liked the idea of enclosing the appliqué in stitching so I embroidered the back of the cage first, then appliqued the bird and then stitched over the front bars!

I've included a couple of detail shots too of the appliqué and the buttons as it always helps to have a closer nose at how things are made!

Here goes . . .

  1. Once you have cut your fabric (and embellished with appliqué, beading etc) make your piping. With mine I cheated and didn't cut on the bias - this way I was able to use a really long length with only one join. It depends on your fabric really - but as this was already stretchy I got away with it. (Piping Tip - don't sew to close to the piping cord - try to leave about 3-4mm - this way you can hide this stitching in your seam - see point 7.
  2. Pin your piping facing inwards onto the front of your cushion as shown. I just judged everything by eye - but you can always measure to make sure everything is keeping square.
  3. On the corners snip up close to the stitching on your piping to enable it to curve - you can choose whether to create a sharp corner or rounded corner - don't worry if the piping looks too scrunched up as when the cushion is turned the right way out the piping will stretch out.
  4. Once pinned in position you will be left with the ends meeting eachother - don't panic! Take time to work out where the cords meet and just trim the cords not the fabric on the piping - it helps if you have about an inch of raw cord poking out one end and a hollow "sleeve" of fabric coming off the other end. It's a little fiddly but tuck in the end of the sleeve (to hide the raw edge of fabric) and then poke through the raw cord from the other end. If you cut your cord right both ends should meet and sit flat nicely. If you feel it is too bulky trim off any excess fabric from the piping - but make sure you leave enough to tuck in the sleeve and to hide the raw cord!! Pin in place - once stitched this should all hold in place nicely - see my detail shot of my ends.
  5. OK - using a zipper foot (or even better a piping foot if you have one) set you needle to the left so that your zipper foot isn't squashing your piping too much but so that you stitching will fall slightly inside your stitching on your piping. I found I hade to push my piping sideways towards the needle when sewing to prevent the foot pushing my piping in too far - but be careful not to sew through you fingers doing this (it hurts!!).
  6. Once you have sewn all the way around it is time to place your backing in position.(I had already cut and sewn two flaps with buttonholes for the back - but this will vary depending on what kind of closure you have chosen). Place the back face down on top of your piping to make a piping sandwich. Put a few temporary pins in the hold the position but turn the whole cushion over to pin the fabrics together (so that the inside of the front section is uppermost). This will make sense in a minute . .
  7. Once you are happy with your pinning - make sure that your piping is still facing in towards the centre - you can do this by feeling through the fabric. Now this is the tip I searched for hours for - all you have to do is to use your stitched line (from where you sewed the piping to the front of the cushion) as a guide and follow it all the way around. If possible try to sew in from this line - that way you will create nice crisp piping and hide the lines of stitching from your piping and the front cover all in one fell swoop - fantastic!!
  8. When you have finished sewing trim off the excess fabric to neaten up and to improve the seams when reversed and triangle cut the corners to reduce the bulk.
  9. Now you can add your buttons if needed (Tip - put in the cushion pad first to judge where the buttons should go!)
Hope you found this useful - let me know if this has helped!

I made this! - Birdy Pouch

This is my first post showing my own creations!

Have posted these already on my flickr page and some on the livingetc sewing forum and have received a good response so I wanted to show off my favourite pieces on here - plus a few tips for fellow sewing newbies who like me spend hours trawling online tutorials for tips and tricks!

This first piece was really just an experiment to use up some smaller pieces of fabrics and to make use of this lovely lime green polka dot cotton from Moda which had arrived in the post that day from Mr Ebay.

I now use this to hold my sewing machine pedal and cable when I travel with my machine - nice to make things that serve a purpose!

Found a revelation regarding appliqué (one of my favourite techniques) - I'm sure most of you know this already - but for those who don't . . .
  • My big tip is not to cut out your shape then stitch over the edge (unless you are handstitching of course). I tried this to start with but it is almost impossible to do and looked awful.
  • Instead lightly sketch your pattern in pencil onto the face of the appliqué fabric - make this slightly larger than you want it to be.
  • Pin your appliqué fabric onto your base fabric (for my bird I only used a couple of pins in the middle - just to hold the fabric steady - I kept these in whilst sewing as they were not in the way).
  • Position your needle at a corner - I found this better than on an obvious line (just in case you don't meet up exactly at the end!)
  • Select a zig zag stitch and make your stitch quite wide but very short - this will create the dense ridge of stitching - and will securely hold most frays.(Practise on a scrap first).
  • Will be different with every machine but with mine I had to pull my fabric through a little harder than normal to avoid too many tangled messes underneath! Use a slow setting also, and stop every now and then to make sure you appliqué fabric is staying flat and isn't stretching.
  • Once you have stitched around the whole shape use either a small pair of sharp scissors or snips to cut off the excess fabric - taking care not to cut your base fabric or the stitching. You can go in as close as you like - some people like to leave a frayed seam (approx 5mm) but I like it all trimmed off - looks neater and crisper.
  • Et voilá you have quite professional looking appliqué!!
Hope this info helps - leave a comment if you have a go at this.
Happy Appliquéing!!

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Big Fan of Boden's accessories. Their colours are always so fresh and fun and they aren't afraid of combining contrasting colours and prints. Their printed catalogues and fliers are also nicely designed also - have a handmade, quirky look - guess that's why I like it . . . . 

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Love Love Love nanaCompany . They have an Etsy shop but you can see more of their pieces on flickr. Above are just a few of their adorable creations.


Surprise Surprise another sewing post! Have a look at Spool. In their blog section there are helpful patterns and how-to's. Love these hanging birds (link to flickr site). You can download the link for the pdf pattern here.

Folksy - Etsy for the UK

Not sure when this launched (haven't done my research as usual) but there is now an Etsy for the UK called Folksy. Don't think they are affiliated (could be wrong - research research!!) but the idea is the same. Handmade precious items sold by the makers - wonderful!!

House Cushions!

Came across these characterful cushions whilst browsing Etsy the other day. By a company called LeiliLaLoo have at look at their shop - many other wonderful things on there - you won't be disappointed.

Hannah Zakari

One of my new favourite sites is Hannah Zakari owned and run by Rachael Lamb. Amongst the many, many desirable items are this beautiful pair of bird earrings by Dottyspeck. Also you'll find funky, fashionable, handcrafted and unique pieces such as this Gilbert the Goat Necklace from Haberdash House (is the goat the new motif for 2009???!!), and the wonderfully kitsch jewellery from Lady Luck Rules.

Tote Bags

Ok - I've gone sewing crazy. Currently obsessed with tote bags. So expect multiple posts on this subject. Currently faves are this twee tote from RobinsEggBlue on Etsy, and the huge array of skillfully crafted bags from Raspberryfairy . Only wish I could sew that well - just a few more decades of practice required!!

Morello Living

Nice Little site called morello living who have a small but lovely range of gift and home wares. Particularly love their knitted birds by Claire Pugh and their Poppy Treffy Bags which are so cute!