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A Reversible Box Tote Knitting Bag

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Just before Christmas, my Aunt very kindly sat with me one afternoon and taught me the basics of knitting. Oh my, how I wish we had done this years ago. I have instantly fallen in love with this new hobby, and now grab every opportunity I can to sneak in a few rows ( I’m knitting a scarf, of course), and I’m a little obsessed, I admit.

Of course sewing is my first love, and thinking of how I could combine both these I decided that I wanted to sew up a bag to keep my knitting tidy as it was currently sitting in a pile on the coffee table in everybody’s way.

As with every new project idea, I searched the internet for free sewing patterns that might be ideal, and finally narrowed it down to two that I liked. The one that I chose is the Reversible Box Tote which is a free download from Very Shannon. I loved the shape of this bag, the pockets, and the fact that it is reversible. Another great free pattern that I loved is the Knitting Bag Project from The Sewing Directory. This bucket style bag is quilted and I’m certain that I will come back to this another time as it’s really cute and one knitting bag will not be enough for me I’m sure!

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I was over the moon with this pattern. The instructions are clear and thorough, and it doesn’t take very long to sew up. I made it in a morning. The fabric is a pretty floral cotton on a navy background which I picked up from Hobbycraft and I chose a coordinating pale blue for the lining.

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I decided to cut two pockets (these are both lined) and placed both of them on the inside of the bag. Although this bag is reversible, I cannot see that I would ever use it with the plain side out, so although the pattern gives you the option to have an outside pocket too, I didn’t. What I did do though was keep one of the pockets open and add a pale pink Kam snap on the other pocket, just in case I wanted a pocket that was more secure. Sadly I caught some of the pale blue fabric in the snap tool when I was squeezing the snap in place and this has left a little oily mark above the pocket. Grrrrrrr.

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The pale pink snap is such a lovely colour match you can barely see it.

The bag is 14″ high (from the top of the handle), and is 17″ wide, so there is plenty of room for large knitting projects, your pattern, and all the other bits and pieces that are handy to have close by. I have used my pockets to store a tape measure, stitch markers, a row counter, yarn needle and my glasses. The scarf pattern that I am knitting is the Wheat Scarf from Tin Can Knits. It is part of their Simple Collection, which is a range of free beginner knitting patterns, with step by step tutorials if you get stuck.

 

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The knitting needles are precious to me as they used to belong to my Mother. I’m so thankful that I still have them, along with lots more in different sizes.

The only thing that I would advise with this pattern is to use the fusible fleece that is listed in the supplies needed for this bag. I didn’t have the Pellon fusible fleece that was recommended, just regular quilt wadding, and because I didn’t have the patience to quilt it in place on the fabric, I chose to use some firm iron-on interfacing that I had in my stash. Whilst this has done an o.k job, it’s not ideal and long term I think this bag will sag. Bad choice there and I would definitely recommend using the correct materials for the best result guys!

The fiddliest and most time consuming part of the make is attaching the outer bag to the lining. Because this is a reversible bag the raw edges on both the outer bag and lining bag have to be pressed under 1/4″ and pinned into place before stitching to each other. Usually with a lined bag you can quickly machine stitch the two bags together and simply pull it right side out through a little gap that you have left in the lining. Not in this case. However sometimes it is good to slow down and take your time to ensure a nice neat finish. Careful measuring, cutting and accurate seam allowances gave me a really great result on this bag. Instead of pins, I found it easier to use Wonder Clips for this part of the bag construction.

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Finally the really clever thing about the bag is that you can just hook it through your arm and knit on the go -pure genius!

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Not forgetting some essential accessories..

‘Me Made’ pin badge from Pink Coat Club.

‘Love Knitting’ pin badge from Crafty Pin Up Shop.

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Huge thanks to Very Shannon for this very generous free PDF download. Are you #teamknit or #teamsew ?

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

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Sewing for my boys – the Jalie Nico Raglan Tee.

Before I start, I must mention that I am limited with the number of photos that I have to share with you of this project. I did wonder whether or not to even include this as a blog post due to the lack of images, but have decided to go ahead in the hope that despite this, the written post itself might be helpful if you are in the market for a good boys/mens baseball t-shirt pattern.

The reason for the lack of photos is that I made these three t-shirts for my husband and two boys as Christmas presents. Despite being super organised and buying the pattern aaaages ago from Sewessential, in order that I wouldn’t have a last minute rush to make them, I still ended up making them all in the last couple of days before Christmas when everybody was in the house and I was creeping around trying not to get found out. I had no opportunity to photograph them full length without someone spotting me, and as I don’t really think it is fair to pop photos of my family on here, we are just left with a quick little shot that I took of them on the kitchen table before wrapping them up.

It is also worth sticking with this post until the end so that you can see what happened when I washed one of them the first time – despite pre-washing .. oh dear ..

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The pattern is the Jalie Nico Raglan Tee. This is the second time I have sewn a Jalie sewing pattern – last year I made the Cocoon Cardigan as my entry into the Cosy Cardi Challenge, and this is a cardigan that I reach for all the time.  Jalie patterns have an impressive range of sizes on their patterns, 27 on this one in fact, and one of the reasons that I chose this pattern to make for my boys was that I only needed to purchase one pattern to cover the sizing of my 14 yr old, my 20 yr old and my husband. (In fact the smallest size on the pattern is age 2)!

I chose to use some wonderfully soft cotton interlock jersey that I picked up from eBay. I had purchased some recently when I made my Christmas Tilly and the Buttons Frankie t-shirt, and was so impressed with how soft and lovely it was that I returned to the seller to buy some more for these projects. I wanted to keep the main body pieces on all of them white, and then mix and match the colours of the sleeve and neckband pieces.

The pattern gives you three sleeve lengths to pick, and a choice of either a straight or curved hem. I kept all the hems straight, and chose long sleeves (in grey) for my youngest son, and short sleeves (in khaki and brown) for my eldest and husband.

As you might expect with such a large range of sizes, there is a huge measurement chart to go through. I had to grade between sizes for a couple of my tees, but it didn’t take long before long I had three sets of traced out pattern pieces, all with their names scribbled on them so that I didn’t get confused. I also sketched out three little drawings and coloured them in, so that I had a reference on what pieces needed cutting in which colour and for whom!

Although I cut them out all in one session, and they were all ready to go in three neat piles, I made a deliberate decision to only make one at a time, otherwise I knew that I would get muddled up. Time was now limited and I really didn’t need to be unpicking silly mistakes.

The pattern was really easy to follow, and they were a quick make thankfully! Of course I didn’t have to opportunity to check them for size, but kept my fingers crossed that they would fit. To find out what size I needed to cut, I told my husband I was measuring him to get a rough idea for a top that I was going to make for my eldest (they are fairly similar in size) and measured my eldest telling him that I was making a secret top for my husband. Sneaky. I already had my youngest sons measurements from some recent school uniform purchases.

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For some reason, despite the absolute lack of time before Christmas, I still wanted to make handmade gift tags, and made up these little tags to add an even more personal touch. I’m pretty sure this was a waste of time, but I enjoyed making them.

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I’m happy to say that all t-shirts worked out really well and I was really pleased with how they fitted. I would have no problems recommending this pattern, a winner all round!

My husband pointed out that in the 21 years that we have been married, this is the first thing I have ever sewn for him! No need to rush these things hey?

So a great Christmas day was had by all. Hubby made the roasted brussels sprouts with garlic, bacon, pecans and blue cheese and swiftly splattered oil down the front of his t-shirt but no worries, it’ll all be alright when I throw it through the wash. Or will it..

Fast forward to Boxing Day. The light coloured washing goes in, including my husbands grease splattered t-shirt. All good. One hour 15 mins later, the washing comes out a very pretty shade of pink. Eek! Despite pre-washing all my fabrics, the brown sleeves of his new t-shirt ran and ruined the whole wash – his white work shirts and everything! I vaguely remember noticing during the pre-wash on the brown fabric that the water was a bit pink but didn’t think anything of it.

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My beloved pale grey kitty Cocowawa Chestnut Sweater is now also pale pink. Sad times.

So lesson learned guys, sometimes one pre-wash just isn’t enough, and maybe for particularly dark fabrics like this brown one, take a good look at the colour of the water in your machine during the pre-wash and if you do spot any colour, run it through again just to be sure.

Not to worry, I’m pretty sure that with my track record it’ll only be another 21 years before I sew him another, so he won’t have to wait too long..

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sew To Grow Meridan Knit Dress

 

Happy New Year! I do hope that you are all feeling rested after the Christmas break and are ready for everything that 2019 will bring.

My January make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is The Meridan Knit Dress    from Sew To Grow. It’s a cute knit dress with an elasticated waist which I chose to wear on Christmas day, and I couldn’t have been more comfortable.

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Roomy pockets are essential and you can make a feature out of them by using a contrasting fabric.

The fabric I chose is this dramatic scuba as I was really drawn toward the colours and liked the irregular stripes.  I know that I have lots of striped dresses with elasticated waists, but there’s always room for another!

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I particularly like the shape of the neckline at the back, and although I wore it with a cardigan on Christmas day, I can’t wait to wear it when the weather warms up during the Spring so that the back neckline is visible. It’s cute right?

As always the full review is over on the Blogger Network, so I look forward to seeing you all over there. As always many thanks to Minerva Crafts for all the lovely supplies that I used for my Meridan Knit Dress.

If you like this style of easy to wear ‘throw over your head’ dress, then you might want to take a peek at another Sew To Grow dress that I reviewed back in July 2017, The Flatter Me Frock.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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The Persephone Pants and a Freya Top

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Hi all, this week you have ‘two for the price of one’ as I am talking about tops AND trousers today.

The Persephone Pants from Anna Allen Clothing are something that I have had my eye on since the Summer. Almost on a daily basis I have been swooning over all the fabulous versions of these trousers popping up on my Instagram feed until I just couldn’t resist any longer.

They are a wide leg, high waisted trousers (or shorts) pattern, and have a button fly and front waist in-seam pockets. There is no outer seam on the trouser legs as each leg is cut from one piece of fabric which wraps around your leg. It’s a pretty cute design right?

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My measurements told me to cut a size 8, I decided to make up a toile in this size as a starting point and make any adjustments and changes based on how this turned out.

I couldn’t be happier with the finished toile. I was fully expecting to have to mess about with it no end to make it fit, but that wasn’t the case. Apart from the leg length (I’m only 5’2″) being understandably too long, it was wonderful. Talk about ‘over the moon’!

My fabric choice is this gorgeous teal rayon linen which I purchased from Like Sew Amazing. I think this particular colour might not still be available, but other colours are, so do head on over and check them out. I am so in love with the feel and quality of the fabric, and the weight is perfect for these trousers.

The pattern in incredibly well drafted, and the attention to detail is impressive. I really enjoyed every aspect of the making up of this pattern, it truly was a joy to sew. The written instructions are thorough and have clear black and white illustrations to accompany them. Everything fitted together perfectly, and no swear words were used in the making of this garment!!!!

Just watch out for the differing seam allowances on this pattern. It uses a mixture of 1/2″ and 3/8″ seam allowances, but clearly states in the step by step instructions what you need to use as you go along.

The waist in-seam pockets are very clever. I did wonder if I wanted to leave them out as I was concerned about fabric bulk in this area, but glad that I kept them, as they are a great feature. Although they look fairly small they are plenty big enough for your phone.

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To reduce any bulk, for the pocket linings I used a wonderful hand printed fat quarter from Zara Emily that I had kindly been given at the Stitch Room Sewcial get-together earlier on in the year. It is the perfect match for the trouser fabric and who doesn’t want starfish, sea horses and lobsters lining their pockets?

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I did have concerns about the button fly, having never sewn trousers with a fly before. No worries though, it was easy and resulted in a nice neat fastening.

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I had noticed on other Persephone Pant reviews that a line of stitching sewn between the button holes helps keep the facing in place so added that too. It works a treat.

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The horizotal stitching lines between the buttonholes are tricky to see, but they are definitely worth sewing in.

I had also read on a social media comment, that Anna Allen had recommended sewing the fly buttons right along the edge, near to the stitching (shown below), as this allows the fly to lay neatly too. It does!

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The pattern has a straight waistband, again this was something that I had in mind that I would need to alter to a curved waistband. But I think because they are super high waisted, the straight waistband was great and I have no gaping issues at all. Happy days.

I wonder if in the future if I would add welt pockets or something at the back. Due to the high waisted design and my large bottom, I feel like the back view needs something to break it up. We’ll see.

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This pattern is a top stitchers dream. The double lines of top stitching along the seams give it a really professional finish, and little burst of bar tacks at the bottom of the fly and the top of the belt loops are a great addition too.

As mentioned earlier, the only adjustment I made was to the leg length. Before cutting them out I shortened the leg pattern piece by 4″.

I love them so much. Initially I had concerns that they might not suit my short curvy shape – my hips are quite large compared to my waist size. I also wasn’t sure if this style would swamp my short legs too. I’m super happy with them though, and am now a true trouser convert. Watch out for many more of these to come!!

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I paired this with the perfect jersey top – The Freya Top- which is a pattern from the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch! sewing book. I have made the Freya Dress before and absolutely loved it, but this is the first top version that I have sewn, and as expected, it is a dream of a pattern.

I have seen so many great versions of the Freya Top online (I’m looking at you Joy!), so I knew I would love it, and true to my expectations I do!

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I used this adorable teal striped cotton jersey which again was from Like Sew Amazing, and it was perfect. I usually make 3/4 length sleeves, but to keep cosy I kept the sleeves long. They’re lovely. Excuse me now whilst I make Freya tops in all the colours.

There is little to say about this pattern that hasn’t been said before on many, many reviews, except to say that is is the best fitting, quick and easy top pattern that is out there. The Stretch! sewing book is a total gem and something that I would be lost without!

What is your ‘go-to’ top pattern, I’d love to know..

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

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A Lined Faux Roman Blind Tutorial

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It’s been a couple of years since we moved to our house, and bit by bit we are working our way through all the usual home improvements that will finally make it the home we are after. Painting has been our main focus lately, and we have just finished painting the dreaded hall, stairs and landing followed by the kitchen and utility room. Of course when I say ‘we’ I mostly mean my husband! Haha!

Our utility room had a nasty old (dust gathering) venetian blind, and when this was removed during painting, I decided to crack on with replacing it with something much more lovely to look at.

It’s only a small window, and not one which needs a functioning blind – it is at the back of our house and is not overlooked at all. I had my heart set on a false Roman Blind made from a piece of special Orla Kiely upholstery fabric from Dunelm. It’s a little pricey at £18 per metre, but decided that I might be able to get away with just a half metre as the fabric was plenty wide enough to cover the width of the window and as it wasn’t necessary to be a working blind, I could simply fold it where I liked to make the drop work. So a half metre of this fabric cost me just £9, which I didn’t think was too bad.

The most important thing with this project is to be very precise with your measurements. I wanted this blind to sit just above the window recess, with a few cm ‘overhang’ either side. The window recess measurements are 58cm width and 112cm drop.

I decided that I wanted the finished flat blind measurement to be 66cm in width ( that is the 58cm width of the window plus a 4cm ‘overhang’ each side of the recess). The drop length of the blind is 50cm ( i.e the half metre length that I purchased).

To measure how wide to cut the Orla fabric, I knew I needed the width to be 66cm (width of the finished blind), plus a 1cm seam allowance each side = 68cm. I then wanted there to be a narrow vertical ‘border’ of the Orla fabric on each side of the reverse of the blind where it attaches to the lining fabric. This ‘border’ measures 2cm each side, so the total width that I needed to cut of the Orla fabric was 72cm.

The lining fabric then needed to be cut. I just used some cream curtain lining that I had in my stash, but I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t be too expensive if you had to buy a small amount.

The lining needs to be measured to be slightly narrower than the Orla fabric, as this will allow the Orla fabric to create that lovely ‘border’ on the reverse of the blind that I mentioned previously. So, the lining is calculated as the finished width of the blind (66cm) minus the 2 lots of 2cm borders =62cm, plus 2 lots of 1cm seam allowances = 64cm.

So, to clarify, I cut the Orla fabric at 72cm width, and the lining at 64cm width. This way ensures that when they are sewn together that a nice grey border will run down each side of the wrong side of the blind.

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This shows the cut lining and how it is a little narrower than the grey Orla fabric beneath it.

With such precise measurements, it is essential to press your fabric before cutting. I trimmed off the smallest amount of fraying fabric at the top and bottom of my blind (where the fabric had been cut), and I also positioned the design so that the centre line of one of the stem rows would be running down the exact centre of the blind.

Now to get sewing! Firstly, with the right sides together, I pinned and sewed both side seams.

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Because the Orla fabric is wider than the lining,  you will have a little extra ‘lump’ of fabric when you pin the sides.

When you have sewn down either side of the blind, smooth that ‘lump’ of Orla fabric so that the vertical seams on the back of the blind are evenly 2cm from the edge of the blind. Don’t iron it yet. Before you turn it right side out, pin along the bottom edge and sew this up. Again I used a 1cm seam allowance to preserve what little length I had.

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Apologies for the lighting. It was a sunny day when I took these pictures, but I hope that you can still see what I am trying to show you!

You can then trim this seam allowance, clip the corners and turn the blind right side out again. Use a point turner or something similar to ensure the corners are nice and sharp and give it a good press.

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More sun and shadows – whoops!

You can see from the image above that I then pinned the open top edge together. I neated these edges together with the overlocker.

Next it’s time to attach the velcro strip to the top of the blind. The velcro strip that I used is 2cm wide, so I turned over the top edge by 3cm, pressed it, and pinned and sewed the fluffy side of the velcro along the middle of this turn-over.

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Next, it is time to pleat your blind. This is done purely on your personal preference. I wanted 2 or 3 folds, and I also wanted to pattern match the stem design too. Take into consideration the height that you will attach the wooden batten to the top of the window too.

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When you are happy with the finished folded blind, give it a good press. In addition to pinning it in place, it is a good idea to run some temporary lines of tacking along the folds so that it doesn’t droop whilst you are finishing it off. I also permanently hand stitched the folds at each side of the blind, and also at various intervals along the folds at the back of the blind. Remove your tacking stitches.

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The wooden batten that we used to attach the blind to the wall was just a leftover that we had in the garage. Again, when I say we, I mean my husband! He cut it to just short of the 66cm blind width – probably approx 64cm – so that it wouldn’t show at all when the blind was in position. He then stapled the prickly part of the velcro to it, and screwed it to the wall a few centimetres above the top of the window recess.

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The blind simply sticks to the batten now, with the velcro, and there you have it! Easy!

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I do hope that this might help you if a false Roman Blind is something that you are planning.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

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A Winter Floral Sew Over It Tulip Skirt

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Happy December everyone! The beginning of the month means that it is time to show you what I have been making over on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

This month I have made the Sew Over It Tulip Skirt. Rather than choose something smart and fancy for the Festive season, I opted for a skirt that I can use all Winter long. This stretch cotton twill is pretty, practical and very comfortable to wear, and it’s weight makes it ideal to hold the shape of the pretty pleats which are a feature at the front of the skirt.

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I won’t say too much over here, but for all the details on this quick pretty skirt, please do head on over to my blog post on the Blogger Network at Minerva Crafts.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Festive Tilly and the Buttons Frankie Baseball T-Shirt

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With the Festive season just around the corner, I am getting in the spirit of things by entering a fun competition that has been arranged by Tilly and the Buttons. The ‘Sew A Xmas Sweater’ challenge is to sew up and decorate any Tilly and the Buttons sewing pattern to wear during the holiday season. If you would like more details about the competition then you can find out all about it here.

It was tricky to choose which pattern to make. As you can see from previous blog posts, I am a huge Tilly fan, and have made lots of her patterns, but eventually I decided that I would make another Frankie baseball t-shirt. I have blogged about this t-shirt here, so you can check that out if you are new to this pattern, but this post is going to concentrate on how I embellished it.

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My fabric choice is a lovely cotton interlock jersey which I picked up from eBay. It’s full-on festive red and green, but if you wanted to tone it down a bit you could choose a white or cream fabric for the main body and just have red and green for the sleeves and neckband.

I wanted the embellishment to be Christmassy, but not too ‘in your face’, so have opted for this fairly subtle ‘cutie-pie’ design. Let me take you through how I made it…

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To make the mince pie, I used a machine applique technique using Bondaweb iron-on transfer fabric that I had been taught when attending an applique class at the Leicestershire Craft Centre back in January.

I searched out an image of a mince pie that I liked on the internet, printed it off, and traced out the key shapes using tracing paper. I then traced out these shapes on to the smooth side of some Bondaweb fabric and cut around these shapes roughly. Iron these roughly cut out shapes onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric (or in my case, felt), and then cut around the outline carefully and neatly. You are left with the perfect shapes to create your layered design that now have the Bondaweb applied to the back.

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As you can see, I also had some cream ric rac tape which has a gold thread running through it which I thought would make the perfect pie crust, so I cut a strip of this too.

An important thing to mention is that it is crucial to apply any applique on to your top bodice before the underarm and side seams have been sewn. This way you are sewing on the flat and it makes your life much simpler! Tilly actually recommends doing this in her ‘Stretch’! book (page 91), and she also runs through exactly the procedure that I am using here too. So I carried out the whole of this applique procedure before I started any sewing on my t-shirt.

The placement  of your applique is also very important. Luckily I have already made the Frankie t-shirt before, so I simply popped it on, worked out where I wanted my design to sit, and pinned it carefully in place. I was then able to work out exactly where to position it on my festive version. As I am embroidering some wording on the top, I also pinned that in position – but I’ll talk about the embroidered wording later in the post.

As you can see from the image below, I was originally going to use scrap fabric pieces for the mince pie, but finally decided to use felt.

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I removed the peel-off backing from the back of my shapes and ironed them into place.

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I’m pretty sure that I have read somewhere that this is enough to hold your design in place just as it is, but I wanted to add a machine blanket stitch around the edges to make super sure that it stays in place and also to add to the decoration. At this point I cut some Stitch-n-Tear and pinned it to the wrong side of my fabric to give it some support and stop it from puckering or stretching when I was machine stitching it. I cut it large enough that it would also be in place ready for when I hand embroidered the wording above the mince pie. In the image above you can see the back of the pins that are holding the stitch-n-tear in place behind the design.

After testing out your stitch size on a scrap of spare fabric, I used a machine blanket stitch around all the edges. This is such fun, take your time with it – it’s worth it. I also cut the ric rac to the correct length, applied some Fray Check to the raw ends, and stitched that in place too.

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Below shows what it looks like on the wrong side after stitching. You might notice that I hand stitched the red berries.

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I hope that how I have written this will make some sense. There are lots of video tutorials on the internet when you search ‘machine applique’ if you need some visual guidance.

Next to apply the wording. I remember that I had watched a great tutorial from Sophia from JessalliHandmade on YouTube a few months ago. I followed this tutorial exactly to create the wording that I wanted and I am really pleased with how it turned out. In brief, you print out whatever wording you want in several different sizes and when you are happy with the font and size, you trace it out on some more stitch-n-tear. As you can see I was torn between making it a sweetie-pie or a cutie-pie slogan!

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Place the stitch-n-tear with your traced design where you want it, and pin it into place.

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Then, using a simple back stitch and embroidery thread, sew over your wording and carefully peel it away when you are finished. Simple!

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There you have it! At this point I just made the t-shirt according to the instructions as normal, and the finished result is really satisfying.

Ooh, and don’t forget the finishing touches!

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The ‘Sew a Xmas Sweater’ contest is open until December 9th, so there is still plenty of time to get sewing if you feel like giving it a go and having a bit of fun. Do head over to the blog post on the Tilly website that I linked at the start of this blog and it will give you all the terms and conditions as well as a look at the FAB prizes that are up for grabs too!

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I am looking to seeing lots of fun sweaters cropping up on Instagram over the next couple of weeks (the hashtag to look out for is #SewingXmasSweater).

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

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The Lisbon Cardigan from Itch To Stitch.

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So, November has rolled around again and that must mean that it is time to share with you my entry into the Instagram challenge the #cosycardichallenge

The #cosycardichallenge is a fun annual event over on Instagram hosted by Amanda from I Sew Alot and Rachel and Nikki from The Stitch Sisters. To enter, you simply make a cardigan and share a picture of your finished garment to be in with a chance of winning a super prize!

This year I have chosen to make The Lisbon Cardigan from Itch to Stitch. It’s quite different from the The Cocoon Cardigan by Jalie Patterns which was my entry last year. This time I wanted a more fitted, cropped cardigan that I could wear with skirts and dresses.

It is the first time that I have sewn an Itch to Stitch pattern, although I have had The Marbella Dress for ages and just haven’t got around to making it yet.

The only little problem that I came across was when it came to sticking my PDF pattern sheets together. Usually I slice off the right hand vertical edge and the bottom horizontal edge of each sheet of every page, and then stick them together with tape. I found that with this pattern that in order for the cutting lines to match up that I needed to then place these sheets together edge-to-edge (with no paper overlap at all). Perhaps there is something that I have missed, although I can see no special ‘cutting and sticking guidance’ in the instructions. Anyhow, apart from it being a little fiddly, it all came together in the end.

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The cardigan is easily adapted to your preference, as there is a choice on sleeve and body length. I chose to make the cropped bodice with 3/4 length sleeves. I particularly love the round neck on this pattern. I think a round neck suits me better, and whilst there seems to be lots of v-neck cardigan sewing patterns, I have found fewer round neck cardigan patterns available, so I was excited to try it.

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I’m pleased with the length of the sleeves on me. Although as is often the case with me the cuff bands are slightly too big. Something for me to adjust next time I make it.

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The knit fabric was a gift from my friend Kate, so I’m not sure exactly what it is. It’s lovely and soft though, and I would describe it as a medium weight. It took me ages to decide the direction of the fabric when I was cutting it out and it the end I just gave up trying to decide which was best and cut it out anyway. I figure if it is impossible to work out which way up it is, then it really doesn’t matter.

By the way, my skirt is The Tulip Skirt from Sew Over It.

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The pattern contains several pieces. Along with the bodice you need sleeves, cuffs, the bottom band, neck band and the button bands. Also knit interfacing to reinforce the button bands.

It was a lovely pattern to sew up. I thoroughly enjoyed making it. The written instructions were very good and there are plenty of step by step black and white illustrations to guide you through the process.

Instead of using buttons and buttonholes, I decided to use my Kam Snaps. I have seen lovely Amanda use this technique quite a bit on her cardigans and inspired by her gave it a go on this make. The trick with these seems to be that when you are installing them, you need to squeeze the pliers together as hard as you can, (like until you knuckles turn white – ha!), and then they will snap together and work perfectly.

I could not have been happier with the colour match too – the chocolatey brown colour snaps that I had in my little snap collection were perfect!

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I kind of like it worn on it’s own like this with a skirt, buttoned up, and look forward to making it in some plain fabrics so that it will sit nicely with some of my patterned dresses too.

I feel like this design could work really well as an edge-to-edge jacket too. Choose a heavier weight knit and omit the buttons/snaps and you have yourself a cute jacket right?

I would love to know your go-to cardigan patterns. Are you taking part in the #cosycardichallenge this year?

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon, Kathy x

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‘The Blouse’ from The Avid Seamstress.

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The latest release from The Avid Seamstress is another winner. I have previously enjoyed making her Shift Dress and Day Dress, and I knew from my experience with these that The Blouse was going to be a beauty to sew up. I was right.

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It is a simple classic design, and as you can see from the line drawings above is loose fitting, without darts, and features a pretty Mandarin collar, button placket, and elasticated 3/4 length sleeves.

I have been on the hunt for a great blouse pattern for a while. I have one or two that I have in mind to sew up over the next few months, but as soon as I saw this new release it jumped the queue big time and I hopped on and purchased the PDF so that I could make it straight away. I just could not wait.

My first version was made using this pretty blue patterned viscose from The Frugal Fabric Shop. Unfortunately I believe this has sold out now, but do head on over to check out Kate’s shop. I know at the moment she has some other fab viscose fabrics (at bargain prices) that would be equally as lovely as this.

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If you have never sewn an Avid Seamstress pattern before, then you are in for a treat. I would thoroughly recommend that you take your time to read through the instructions (rather than skip through them in a rush – as I often do with sewing patterns), as they are jam packed with helpful and clever tips to help you. I guarantee this will save you time in the long-run and give you a much more enjoyable sewing experience.

For example, I love that she advises you to overlock/finish your edges before you start. Also you are told exactly which edges do not need to be overlocked too. Brilliant. You are taken through how to block fuse one of your collar pieces to ensure a neat crisp collar, and maybe to cut the collar just before you need it if you are using fabric which is prone to fraying. All great tips.

I chose to make a size 2. I fall between a size 2 and 3 as far as my bust measurements go, and looking at the finished garment measurements I decided that the size 2 would be the fit I was going for. It’s perfect. Not too loose, not too tight.

The minute I finished my first version I was planning my next. I recently attended the #sewbrum sewing meetup in Birmingham and one of my fabric purchases there was this gorgeous green viscose with pink flowers. As soon as I clocked it, I knew what I was going to make with it.

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Taking your time will really pay off. The button plackets are interfaced and will lay nice and neat if you are accurate with your measurements. For this version I wanted to use self covered buttons for a change. They are quick and fun to make, and I tried to cover them with carefully picked pieces of fabric, so that when the blouse is buttoned up, they would match the placket that lays over the top of them.

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I particularly love the sleeves. Three quarter length sleeves are perfect for me, I made no adjustment on the length, but I did need to cut a shorter length of elastic than the guidelines suggested, so do measure your arm where the elastic is going to sit to make sure it is going to be the correct size for you.

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To ensure that the collars are evenly sewn, I followed the tip to lightly draw the seam allowance (1cm) on the curved edge before sewing. It’s all about making life easier for yourself, right? It is finished off with a neat line of edge stitching.

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I’m pretty sure I will be reaching for this classic pattern for years to come. I’m imagining it in a classic white cotton – I haven’t got a classic white shirt ….yet…. or perhaps in a stunning jewel coloured silk. Divine.

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I’d love to hear what your favourite classic shirt/blouse pattern is. Do share it with us all in the comments below.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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An Autumn inspired Brumby Skirt

I have a bit of a thing for knee length skirts at the moment. Whilst I love them in warmer temperatures with bare legs, I also adore styling them with thick coloured tights when there’s a nip in the air.

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My latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is The Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen. It’s the prettiest gathered skirt, which you can make in different lengths and has wonderful deep pockets and the cutest exposed zip feature at the back.

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I won’t say too much on my blog here, as you can read the full review over at Minerva Crafts, but I enjoyed making this skirt, and I especially love this vibrant floral needlecord. Unfortunately, I understand that this fabric is now sold out, but I know that they have a great range of alternatives.

So for me today, it has been paired with some aubergine tights and I’m Autumn ready.

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x