…or something like that anyway. This post is actually about something I made at Christmas last year. For once the delay was planned and not just being too busy (lazy) to write it up!
This Christmas (the one just gone) I spent the day with Hayden’s family. His family is huge in comparison to my own, and it was decided that instead of everyone buying silly amounts of gifts for family you rarely see, a Secret Santa would be arranged and we would only need to provide one gift. An excellent way of saving pennies at a pricey time of year, but an opportunity to put a bit more thought in. Theoretically anyway…
I was given a very young family member to find a gift for. Dilemma!
I decided to make a simple embroidery hoop. I’d seen lots of really beautiful examples online and they always look so cool but my embroidery skills aren’t the greatest, but nevertheless I persisted and was quite pleased with the outcome!
I drew up a really simple design of lots of flower-type shapes, and freehand stitched until it looked quite pretty. For the name, I just found a free font online and traced the name on to my design. Easy peasy!
I used chain stitch, straight stitch and also French knots on a mint green polka dot poly-cotton to create the design, backing it with craft felt so all the knots and mess were tidied away and I’m really pleased with the outcome. I was really chuffed to finally crack French knots too! It seemed to be well received by the recipient (although I don’t think they worked out it was from me!)
At last! Another make! For the first time ever I actually have a completed make that is ready to be blogged about! I finished this before I went to Amsterdam in January and wore it a few times during my trip but the weather was too bad to get any nice photos while there, and then it’s just been rubbish home in the UK ever since!
This is my first Linden sweatshirt from Grainline Studio as well as my first proper project on my overlocker. I bought some heather purple French terry from Goldhawk Road on a blogger meetup to make a muslin, which (despite checking my measurements as I do before tracing every pattern because I’m the size of a small bungalow at the moment) surprisingly came up about 2 sizes too big! It’s just massive but I love the colour and it’s good for slobbing around the house in. Linden is a super quick pattern to assemble on an overlocker, but I found the neckband really hard to stretch to fit properly – you can see my sewing fil on instagram (in the side bar). I chose to self-rib instead of spending ages to finding a matching ribbing for a muslin – I have read a few other blogs where the neck has been cut on the bias to give some extra stretch but I chose to stick to the instructions for my first one. I don’t know if it was just my shoddy cutting/sewing or if it was the fabric, but the neckband is a complete state – wonky and lots of little tucks all round. I used the reverse of the French Terry on
the neckband, hip band and cuffs and it looks quite effective as it’s slightly darker, but because of the mess I made I can never leave the house in it… (edit: I have left the house in it several times but I can never take my coat off)
I retraced the pattern 2 sizes smaller without remeasuring – I just laid the pieces together to see which looked the best fit. Because this isn’t meant to be close fitting I knew it wouldn’t matter if it still ended up a bit roomy.
I have never sewn with Liberty fabrics before although I know of their reputation and their price, so I was thrilled to find this Liberty French Terry in a curtain fabric outlet in North Finchley. They had several rolls labelled as Liberty which I took with a pinch of salt, but I bought 2 metres for £6 p/m (and got almost 1.5m thrown in for free WOOOO!) anyway and took it home to see if I could prove it really was Liberty – took a looooong time but it is Liberty, in the print Manuela, a 1970’s print based on a 1930’s design. For some reason I can’t find out what the real name of the fabric is – I’ve seen it called Linford fleece or just terry or Liberty fleece in several different websites and the Liberty website shows they call it loopback fleece. At the usual price of £49.95 a metre (WTF?!) I will probably never sew with the stuff again but it did sew up so nicely – good recovery and no shrinkage when prewashing either.
It’s quite a simple make and once I’d cracked the sizing only took about 2 hours to assemble. I think with a bit more practice with my overlocker and with sewing stretch fabrics, this could be knocked out in even less time Definitely want to make more!
The only issue I have found is that there are some little holes all along the sleeve seams. They note from the French terry rolling before being sewn (although this was an issue – will be trying spray starch next time to see if that helps) but the holes look like little moth holes. None of my other clothes have moth holes so I wonder if this is just my sewing. If anyone has any useful tips, please let me know!
Because I like to make life hard for myself, on a whim I decided (quite last minute) to take part in this years Secret Valentine Exchange, organised by Ute and Sanae. This is the 3rd year the ladies have run it, although it is the first time I have come across it. The principle is simple – a secret gift exchange for sewists! The key idea for this years swap was to use items from your stash wherever possible, or re-purpose something you own. As someone with an ever expanding stash I thought this was a lovely idea and somewhat surprisingly was a bit stumped at what to make for my swap partner!
The person I was given was Jeanine from Fabriekt and on her sign up form she had specified a few colours and styles she liked in order to give whoever her swap partner was an idea of what she liked –
Cotton, wool, linen (natural fibres). No religious symbols. Clean, simple designs
I decided to make a few things for Jeanine using just items from my stash. First, I dug around in my fabric boxes to see what I could find that seemed to fit her ta
stes and came across a plain, brand new calico bag. Not entirely sure why it was buried in a box and not being used, but I knew I had some fabric paints left over from a t-shirt project from several years ago, so I chose to potato print a simple design in graduating colours. Using bright yellow and dark blue, I stamped an ‘x’ shape in lines and tried to make the colour fade. Turns out that I’m not the best at potato printing (probably haven’t done it since I was a child, but I feel it should have a renaissance – ALL THE POTATO PRINTS! Also finger painting, while we’re on the subject…) and you would not believe how hard it is to carve a cross into a potato but I do think it’s actually worked quite effectively. Plus ‘x’s seemed appropriate for a Valentine exchange!
Next I dug around to see if I had any leather scraps left over from a uni project. I found a large enough piece of sheep leather (from Pittards, if anyone is wondering – highly recommend) and decided to make a simple needle book. I used gold thread left over from an embroidery project to stitch the cover and the white felt leaves into a book, and then stitched a small simple star shape on one corner. Super simple but the rich peacock blue of the leather worked really nicely with the gold thread, and fitted Jeanine’s colour preferences!
Finally, I came across a piece of lovely soft hand dyed African batik cotton, left over from a cushion project years ago (talk about stash busting!). There was enough left to turn it into a simple snood and after I’d had a stalk through her Instagram I decided the mix of colours would suit her colouring well. One long edge of the fabric had thread tassels all along, so I think this might have original been a shawl or a scarf – it was given to me for the project and I was reliably informed that it was hand dyed, but I did have to own up to Jeanine on Instagram that I had only made the snood – I wish I could create as beautiful batik work! I left the tassels as they are and hemmed the opposite side, and then French seamed the piece into a tube. It’s long enough to wrap around the neck
twice, and because the piece was also quite wide it seemed like it would be quite warm too!
I sent my parcel off to Jeanine and thankfully it was well received (an only a few days late, whoops), so I’m really pleased with how it turned out. However, in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t leave it until the last minute to sign up to another swap! Unfortunately the parcel sent to me by my swap partner has not turned up yet, and when I contacted Ute and Sanea they were really quick to see what happened (dear Royal Mail, please deliver it soon…) so thank you very much ladies. To my swp partner, if you are reading this, I promise to let you know if it ever arrives, but in the mean time, thank you for participating in a swap with a stranger!