Make Do And Gift

If in doubt, make a gift!

Laying out the goodies

A friend that I have known since I was 17 recently expressed an interest in learning to sew and her birthday was approaching so I wanted to mark the occasion. Mika lives in the Netherlands now so I wanted to send her a gift but as it couldn’t be too big or heavy because postage is pricey (since when does a First Class stamp cost nearly a pound?!), I settled on building her a small sewing kit.

My fabric and trim choices. The orange fabrics are both a little more coral coloured than shown.

I wasn’t sure what sewing things she already had, so I decided to make a kind of jewellery roll, so even if she had a sewing kit, the roll could be reused for something else. I bought some basic haberdashery and some small embroidery scissors along with some awesome cotton prints in the John Lewis clearance and some kind of fleece stuff to pad it out. I had wanted wadding but when I was in the shop I completely forgot and bought something different instead and I’m not entirely sure what it was. But hey, it worked! I used the Liberty Book of Simple Sewing (and good old Google) as my points of reference for the roll (the one in the Liberty book is actually a hanging sewing tidy), but I designed and drafted the roll myself from scratch.

Took 3 attempts but so proud of this pocket!

Although I was pretty much blagging it, it was surprisingly simple to put together so I’m going to do a quick tutorial post during my week off next week – keep your eyes peeled!

In Mika’s roll I included a seam ripper (essential, as we all know), a small box of pins, some hand sewing needles, some press studs and some hooks and eyes – all good supplies for simple projects or repairs until she gets a machine of her own and can take on more ambitious projects. The scissors aren’t pictured as they needed to remain in the packet for posting (health and safety y’all). I didn’t include any shears as I think every stitcher should pick these – bas with most things, personal tastes differ and as these are a significant part of any stitcher’s kit they have to be right. Kind of like Baby’ Bear’s porridge…

I finished this a week or so ago but as her birthday is today, it’s been a secret until now. Hayden very kindly posted it for me last week and it arrived in just 2 days! Dutch post is clearly far more efficient than UK post. I had an anxious week waiting for her to open it but she finally did today and thankfully she seemed to love it! I am an anxious gift giver so I was really relieved! I’m sure the inclusion of a large bar of Mint Aero helped! As it turns out, not including fabric shears was totally fine as she already has a pair – success!

The binding is not quite as neat as I would have liked but on the whole I’m really pleased with how this turned out! I’m looking forward to making another one for my tutorial post next week. Happy Birthday Mika! xxx


And the Oscar goes to…

bloggerI got an award! Not quite an Oscar, but I’m pleased nonetheless!

Yesterday I wrote a comment on a post from Jen at Let The Sewing Begin following her nomination for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and when Jen replied, she told me “congrats to you, by the way”. I was extremely confused by this – whatever could she mean?! I scoured my last few posts looking for some trace of an achievement that would warrant such a comment (aside from cleaning the bathroom, we all know how tedious that is) but found nothing, so I asked what she meant, only to be informed that I too had been nominated!

Well now! How nice is that?!

ONE. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

I was nominated by Lesley from I F*cking Love Sewing back in June and as I am a bit of a plonker I had absolutely no idea! I just wanted to say a humongous thank you for nominating me. I have only been blogging since May this year, and I’ve found some really lovely blogs and lovely people – it’s nice to know somebody has been reading my ramblings other than my mum so thank you! I also wanted to apologise for not being terribly quick off the mark – promise to do better in future!

TWO. List the rules and display the award.

The rules are in the post – please just copy and paste and get nominating!

THREE. Share seven facts about yourself.

As you may have gleaned from my About page, I don’t really like talking about myself, but here it goes:

  1. I have a twin sister. We aren’t identical (boy, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that!!) and I am 12 minutes younger than she is. She doesn’t sew, although is sometimes partial to some cross-stitch
  2. I can’t knit. Sewing and knitting seem to go hand in hand across lots of blogs that I follow, but alas, I am not one of the chosen ones. I could probably manage a scarf if I really put my mind to it, but I just can’t quite manage it.
  3. I went to a very good drama school, which is normally something that surprises people. I went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Costume. Here’s something I made when I was studying. Still not quite sure how I got in as I don’t have a degree…wpid-fb_img_1437597994343.jpg
  4. Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands. I’m trying to teach myself but it’s hard going when you’re on your own. Any Dutch bloggers want to help me learn?
  5. I don’t eat eggs. Or raw tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, courgettes/zucchini, blue cheese… I’d be a rubbish vegetarian.
  6. I am currently saving all of my 10p and 20p coins to save up for a trip to China with Hayden. We have big pot for them but it’s a long way off being full!
  7. I can read at about 600 words per minute. Not sure how useful this is as a skill or how much information I can retain doing this but I can do it! If you wanted to test yourself, click this link.

FOUR. Nominate other amazing blogs and comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them

I’d really like to nominate everyone because you’re all fabulous, but then the chain stops here and I want to spread a little joy where I can, so here are just a few nominations:

Costumes and Fashions by Bethany – Bethany, like me, is a relatively new blogger but she is always so positive and seems to have a good head on her shoulders and a good eye for fabrics.

Made By Katy – Katy was one of my early followers and I’m very glad you found me – I think I would have given up a long time ago had I not found Katy  along with everyone else! I know Katy has already been nominated but I just wanted to show some love!

The Robot That Had A Heart – Klara is a Polish blogger and her posts really inspire me – I love her style and her pictures are always so pretty!

Maria Victoria Smith – I actually first found Maria on Instagram when we bonded over our mutual, and somewhat unusual affinity for The Netherlands. Her blog is well-written, engaging and it was so nice to find someone who liked the Dutch as much as me!

Joanne Potter, textile artist – a Monday Mention!

So today’s post is a little bit different as I wanted to do a quick post about a fellow stitcher that I came across online – maybe the Monday Mentions will become a regular thing. We’ll have to wait and see!

I came across Jo1anne Potter on Folksy when browsing for gift ideas, and her work is FANTASTIC!

Joanne is a 3D design graduate who has since turned her hand to stunning hand constructed textiles and accessories. So much work goes into each design, and they are great fun too! My personal favourite is the ladybird rucksack, made from green corduroy, velvet and ribbon with appliqué ladybirds. The bag straps are lady bird wings – how cute is that?!2

I also really loved this small denim bag with a pencil design – her attention to detail makes her pieces both unique and fun.

She has a Folksy page with her most recent listings along side a Facebook page so you can stay up to day. There was a very cute watermelon bag in progress on her Facebook page which I’m really looking forward to seeing!

I also think her work is extremely reasonably priced. £85 for a rucksack may seem like a lot of money but when you consider the cost of materials, plus the cost of labour per hour for both the design process and construction, this amount almost seems too little. You can check out her work in the links throughout the post.

If you know anyone that could be featured in a Monday Mention, please comment below!

Do you ever…

…have those days where you have all the best intentions but get absolutely nothing done?

OK, so I exaggerate a bit – I did finally clean the bathroom…

It’s a squeeze but I might just do it!

I had planned to possibly finish my Belcarra today, toilé and all. But as you can probably guess, that hasn’t quite happened. I got my fabric out last week only to discover that instead of the 2 metres I thought I had, there was just 1. Disaster! Thankfully it’s 150 cm wide so I can just about squeeze the pattern on with no cuffs, but I will have to piece the neck binding so I’m hopeful it won’t be too obvious. I laid it out on the fabric – the pattern has 1.5 cm seam allowance included, which does make wiggling the pieces a lot more simple! Lesson learned – buy more fabric! Excellent plan.

My aim for Sunday was to get the pattern pieces traced onto more robust paper before running up a quick toilé in some polyester lining to check fit, before zooming straight onto cutting my proper fabric. Ambitious for a Sunday afternoon when you’re several years out of practice? I think not! (OK maybe a little bit). But boring everyday tasks seemed to get in the way and it was almost 4 pimagem by the time I actually got started. I then made the ‘wise’ decision to put on Steel Magnolias and before I knew it the film was over and I’d only managed to trace the pattern. All in all, not quite the Sunday I had planned!

I plan on cutting a toilé in some polyester lining tomorrow night, but I do need to find some better material to use for this – I’m running out of horrible fabric to use! What do you all use for making your muslins?

Will fill you guys in as and when – current concerns are that it’s going to be too big! I’ve traced a straight size 14 based on measurements but it looks massive! What fit issues have you guys had, if any?

In other news, I found this poly-cotton blend in my stash and I think I have enough for the lining – what do you think of this combination for my By Hand London Victoria? Is it too much? I just don’t know!

No Belcarra for me tonight – I am planning a secret make for someone which I will share once the lucky recipient has got it… More on that later!

New projects

Just a few updates today – no project currently on the go but several in the works!

First up, the Belcarra blouse from Sewaholic! I finally bought my ‘medicinal’ pattern (woo! No more tonsillitis!) from Trixie Lixie and I’m going to start this tomorrow night. I have this great floral fabric that I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in March, it was something silly like £2/pm and the girl at the stall was just selling and selling it! I picked up a couple of metres, I’m pretty sure it’s a synthetic crepe kinda deal but it drapes nicely so fingers crossed that it works well! Does anyone have any tips for sewing the Belcarra? I’ve never sewn a Sewaholic pattern before!

Fancy photo editor app on my phone makes this look quite cool! Fabric is a slightly lighter sage green than shown

Also in the pipeline, as mentioned in this post, is the Victoria Blazer from By Hand London in the daisy crepe de chine from Fabricland. It arrived quickly in the post but now I don’t know what colour to line it with! I’m going to line in polycotton just to give it a bit more structure and I’d quite like a pink/purple kind of colour but a white would also look very clean and crisp. Any suggestions?


I also managed to pick up a super cheap copy of ‘Fit For Real People’ from Abe Books. It’s coming from the USA so it’ll be a while but it was such a bargain at just over £5 for the book and postage, I couldn’t leave it! I’ve read lots of good reviews from you guys and other places online, and although I know how to fit pre-made garments, I do need a little refresher on from-scratch fitting!

This should keep me busy for a couple of weeks, then maybe on to some holiday sewing! What projects has everyone else got planned this week?

The Darwin cushion

Still home but the penicillin is finally kicking in so I’m feeling much better than I did at the start of the week, just tired and my throat is still a bit swollen but much more comfy. It’s definitely an improvement on yesterday and Monday – I’ve even managed to stay awake all morning, unlike yesterday when a short walk to buy painkillers knocked me out for over an hour! Back to work tomorrow, regardless of how tired I am – there is only so much daytime TV I can stand. I currently have a 20 year old episode of A Touch of Frost on in the background… No new project just yet as I’m waiting for some fabric to arrive from Fabricland but I did make this recently and this post has been queued for ages so I thought I’d share it!

Screenshot from, link to fabric is in post although not available online

Hayden and I were recently given 3 massive cushion inners from a work colleague as she no longer needed them. She had sold the covers on Ebay but she didn’t need naked inners any more so we gladly accepted them. And then they sat in a pile in the front room for a few months. Ooops.

As mentioned in a previous post, a few months ago I finally sorted out my sewing room in our new house (OK so we’ve been here nearly a year now…) with some new furniture from Ikea, and during that quite expensive trip, I picked up some great furnishing fabric to cover one of the giant cushions. It’s quite heavy but it is 100% cotton, and was really cheap too! I only bought 1 metre as the fabric is quite wide and I knew this would just about be enough to cover one cushion.

I measured the cushion (27″)and decided to make a proper zipped but unlined cushion cover. I measured and cut out 2 imagelarge squares including 2cm seam allowance. I will admit that this was a bit of a cobbled job as I wanted to just have a go at making a proper cover, although it is a simple enough for even a beginner sewist – you just measure 2 squares large enough to cover your cushion, attach a zip to an edge on each square using your preferred method of choice and then stitch up! You don’t have to line, trim it or even finish the seams if you don’t 1want to!

Once the squares were cut out, I inserted the invisible zip to create a rectangle with the fastening in the middle. I hadn’t sewn an invisible zip into such heavy fabric before so this took several attempts and lots of unpicking to get it to lie correctly, but after the fourth attempt it was perfect (ish) and I was ready to move on. Inserting the zip was the most tricky part as I had no pattern matching to do, no piped edges, no pleats or fiddly shapes to work with, just a nice simple (huge) square! to complete the cover, I simply placed the fabric right sides together with the zip slightly undone so it was ready to be turned out, and then stitched round the edge , making sure to reinforce the stitching in each corner. Once done I trimmed the seam allowance slightly, clipped the corners to make a neat corner and then zigzagged to tidy it up a bit as I don’t have an overlocker, sob. Once this had a quick press, I noticed it1 wasn’t a true square and slightly veers off a bit, but it’s barely noticeable when empty and invisibly wonky when on the cushion, so I’m going to claim it as my artistic vision! I loved the fabric for this on sight, I love old scientific drawings and bugs, hence the name Darwin – everyone else seems to name their projects and it’s a lovely idea so I’m going to name some of mine!

I do have a little bit of this fabric left over that might do for a smaller scatter cushion or maybe even a small bag. For now it will disappear into the depths of the stash, never to be seen again. Well, for a while anyway…