Sunday, 19 February 2012

Life's a stitch!

After being bought my very first sewing machine at 21, it only took me 3 years later to actually start sewing as a hobby.  Around the time I started, my very close friend Lynsey already had the sewing bug and tempted me along to an afternoon of sewing and cake at our fellow sewer's house Cath.  From this day forward I've been hooked!  So really I owe a lot of my passion for creating handmade pieces to you both, and I thought I'd take a look back over the past year and share some of my projects.  I have chosen my favourite to detail 'how' it was made.  So many a trial and error later here is my story so far... 

Knitted scarf

Cushion covers

 Toy bags

Dribble bibs for baby Leighton

Lavender cushions


(Modelled by the lovely Lynsey)


Patchwork quilts

So here's my favourite project so far - patchwork!  Patchwork is a project you start knowing it's going to be ongoing for a few weeks, but for me it's so satisfying to reach the finished product.  I do always feel a bit empty when a patchwork project is finished though, I need to find my next one pronto!  My hand-stitched hexagon patchwork quilt took me a couple of months, mainly because I kept putting it down for other ideas, but it now sits merrily on the end of our bed and I enjoy it every time I see it. 

I'm still new to patchwork and experimenting with different techniques and finishing methods, but for this one I chose to hand sew it.  Patchwork can be much quicker by machine stitching, but it's all preference really.  Hand sewing was quite therapeutic, but after this first pattern I have made quilts by machine, I find it's much quicker and can be a little more forgiving if your patches aren't quite as presicely shaped.

Step 1 - I ordered hexagon templates over the internet from  I did try drawing and cutting my templates by hand first of all, but this didn't work so well.  When I tried fit the pieces together I had different sizes, so as you can imagine I swiftly rejected that idea.  Paper templates are great and ensured sizing was equal (hurray!). The service Jackie provided was also fantastic, and came with a template planner and step by step insturctions.  I ordered the largest hexagon shape possible, I think this was 10cm x 10cm.

Step 2 - Choose your fabric and cut square pieces of fabric a few millimeteres larger than your hexagon.  Then wrap your fabric around your template and hand sew it in place.

 Step 3 - Keep making pieces until you have the desired size of blanket you want.  Find a large space and arrange your pieces in the pattern you like.

Step 4 - With right sides together hand stitch each hexagon togther.  Avoid the temptation to remove papers until your work is complete, then cut your wadding and bind the edge of your quilt.

This was a more of a whistle stop tour of patchwork, so I will write a complete blog for my next quilt soon.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Rock on...

Living in a one bedroom flat with only the one sofa, I have been searching everywhere for a solid wooden rocking chair for an extra spot for visitor to place their bottoms...finally it arrived!  I'm so pleased with our  new (old) chair that I felt it needed some homemade touches to bring it back to life.  So, I got sewing!

Ever since I made my very first cushion cover I vowed never to buy another from a shop again!  True to my word, this project has started by making a rectangular cushion.  Cushion covers are so easy to make, they require simple maths (which is a bonus for me) and sewing straight lines.  The tricky part comes around inserting a zipper or buttonholes.  So as my very first craft sharing project, here's how I made my cushion cover with side zip opening.

Materials you will need:
  • cushion filler (I used 30 x 50cm)
  • Zip (I used a 50 cm zip)
  • Thread
  • Material of your own choosing (I used 100% cotton)

 Step 1 - Measure and your fabric

Take the size of your cushion filler and subtract 2 cm.  This is to ensure you have a plump finished cushion!

My measurements:  27 x 47cm

Step 2 - Cut your fabric

Cut your first rectangle of the above measurement.  Then lay this piece right side down onto you fabric to cut a second piece to the same measurement.

Now you have your cover pieces ready for sewing!

Step 3 - Overlock all the edges of your fabric (optional)

I recently have been lucky enough to receive a new sewing machine as a gift from my fabulous boyfriend (his words not mine), and my machine has a overlock setting to finish the edges of fabric.  You will need to change to the overlocker foot on your machine to do this.  I personally feel this is useful as it serves the function to prevent your fabric from fraying, but also gives it a professional finish.  However, I have made cushions previously without this step and never really found it a problem.

I was very excited to finally use this function!

  Step 4 -  Insert the zipper

With the right sides of your fabric together, pin along one long edge and make a 1.5 cm seam 4cm long at each end of the fabric, reverse stiching at the start and finish.
I find the simplest way to do this is to mark 4 cm in from each edge, sew your first 4cm with reverse stitches, then stop sewing to increase the stitch length to your machine's maximum setting.  Sew a basting stitch down to the next 4cm marker, then stop again to reduce your stitch length back again, sew a reverse stitch then finish the final 4cm.

Press the seam open, and place the fabric wrong side up.  Position the zip right side down with the teeth centred on the line of the stitching.  Pin and sew using zipper foot with 1.5cm seam.  You will need to lift the foot with the needle down to move the zip pull out of the way.

Remove basting stitches.

 Step 5 - Closing your cushion cover

With the right sides of the fabric together sew around the remaining 3 sides with a 1.5cm seam allowance.  Do remember to keep your zip open at this point, to ensure you can turn it out!

Step 6 - Stuff your cushion cover

Turn your cover right side out through the zipped opening and push the corners out for definition.  Now insert your cushion filler and tah dah!

I'm also planning on adding a seat cushion.  Rocking chair project to be continued...