Black Lace Party Dress

It's been another age since the last post so Id thought I'd share this little creation. In between sewing up a load of Christmas presents I thought it only appropriate to throw myself a little treat in the mix...

I got this gorgeous stretch black lace from TiaKnight on eBay, otherwise known as In Fashion Fabrics. She's my go to gal for all things stretchy and jersey, a fantastic range and good quality fabrics...  

I wanted to show the versatility of the very simple stretch pattern I used on Missoni, this dress is the exact same pattern, the length is slightly shorter and the sleeves are 3/4 instead. 

The fabric has a great scalloped edge, so no hemming for me! Just have to make sure you measure carefully and have the scalloped edge sitting where you want it to. I intended this to be a bit longer but seems to work like this too. (Excuse the strange line in the photo, I couldnt find my underslip so had to improvise with ves top and bottoms!)

Sewn entirely on the overlocker as its sheer and all seams can be seen! Overlocker gives them a lovely clean black line instead :-)

Tortoise Tree Decoration

So it's starting to get a little cold and frosty out there, the lights and songs are creeping into the shops so perhaps it's not THAT early to make a few tree decorations?!

I am tortoise obcessed therefore tortoise tree decorations it is - it also happens that Swell Reptiles are having a blogging campaign for reptile lovers - take a look!

Here is a little tutorial to make some very simple tree decorations - I've made tortoises but the same rules apply to any design you choose. I've sewn these by hand however if you favour the sewing machine or are short on time, by all means whizz them up on the machine instead. Hand sewn decorations just feel more 'homely' to me - even if they are a bit shaky and dodgy, that's the point! My hand sewing skills are awful - so if I can do it anyone can.

You will need:
  • Cardboard and pen
  • Felt (1 dark green, 1 light green plus small pieces of white and red for the hat)
  • Green thread
  • 1 x black bead
  • Wadding/Stuffing/Cotton wool etc
  • 10cm ribbon
  • Superglue (optional)
  • Sequins (optional)
Step 1
Draw the shape of your chosen decoration. I free handed this tortoise outline - you could look up a silhouette on the Internet and use that for a template if you aren't too sure. Or copy and paste this image and resize as you wish

Cut out your template. This guy has a green shell detail and a little Santa hat, so cut these pieces out too.

Step 2

Fold your dark green felt in half so that you can do 2 pieces at once. Draw around the tortoise (the cardboard one).

Cut out 1 inner shell piece in light green and 1 of each part of the Santa hat from the red and white felt.

 Step 3 
Once your pieces are cut out, its time for a bit of hand sewing. Put the inner light green shell on top of one of the dark green tortoise pieces and attach with a running stitch (the really basic 'straight stitch'). If you can't be bothered or if you decide its all too much - whack it on there with a bit of glue! (Its OK, noone is looking and I won't tell).

 Step 4
Time to attach the 2 sides together.Put the tortoises next to
each other and then start to stitch them around the edge. Start at the top of the shell, just to the right. You'll need to go all the way around and stop sewing just to the left of top of the shell - leaving a gap to insert the wadding and ribbon. I have used a blanket stitch - you go over the top of the fabric, through both pieces and form a loop with the thread, you then put your needle through that loop and pull. A little demonstration can be found here.

Step 5
Stuff the tortoise with the wadding into the hole you have left at the top of the shell. This gives it a nice squishy 3D effect.
Step 6
Take a length of ribbon, about 10cm and form it into a loop. I used a bit of festive 'Merry Christmas' ribbon I found in my stash of sewing supplies. Trap this ribbon loop between the 2 layers of tortoise (what a weird sentence). Hold it in place with a pin if you feel the need. Then stitch the gap closed, trapping the ribbon in there nice and securely.

Step 7
Create your little Santa hat. Now you can just glue this together then glue it onto the tortoise. I tried this but the glue I used was a bit rubbish and I ended up sewing them all together anyway! Your choice :-)
Step 8  
Give him a little cheeky eye! These black beads are rather nice. Stitch one on (or use a little bit of black felt or draw one on - depends on how fabulously crafty you're feeling).

Step 9
Your tortoise is complete! Now go to town decorating if you wish - I've used green sequins to create a scaly kind of look - a glittery tortoise. All hand stitched on! (Due to having glue related issues - at this point my hands were covered in red fluff and the needle physically stuck to my fingers). 1.5 episodes of 'Fringe' later, here he is!

Here are some I made last year for members of the Norfolk Tortoise Club. Personalise your tortoise (decoration)!

If anyone has a tortoise, is thinking of caring for one - please get in contact with these folks if you haven't already. Not just people in Norfolk, worldwide! They provide a world of information on tortoise husbandry to ensure that people are well educated and informed on how to do this. Its important these little shelled guys and gals are looked after properly. See the Norfolk Tortoise Club Facebook page for more details.

Secret Sewing

It's that time of year when crafters begin to panic....did I leave it too long?! I'm talking about sewing gifts for Christmas. (Don't panic friends and family - not all of you are getting homemade goods!)

It doesn't make for great blogging when you can't actually write about what you are making for fear of ruining a (nice?) surprise...

Clyde guarding the goodies...

But when do you start, how many weekends do you have before Xmas, how much can you really get done?! I have JUST made a start on a list a mile long of things I would like to make for people, however subtract a few weekends of not being here, Xmas party hangover days and working - I think I may have to get realistic and recalculate nearer the time! Folks you may be getting a lovely 'welcome to spring' present instead.

Not only is sewing gifts on the agenda, where do you stop? Tree decorations, aprons, stockings, place mats, gift bags, comedy size snowman decoration.... anyone out there sew up a storm for Christmas? 

January may see a deluge of posts all about the presents I DID make, after they can be revealed! Coming up in the next week or two I will however be doing a little tree decoration tutorial! :-)

Mission Missoni

So here it is all complete!

From this....
To this!

It got a bit hair raising at the beginning as after carefully cutting out the pieces, a pin got stuck in my overlocker and essentially 'chewed' off the shoulder! After much re-threading and fixing and a careful bit of attaching the shoulder seams with what was left of the allowance it was ready to crack on....

The cuffs and hem were overlocked and then hand stitched in place to form neat edges, the neckline is banded with royal blue woollen binding.

I rather like it - its a bit 70s - and I'm not sure if I look like a frumpy librarian at certain angles but hey, I'm now the proud owner of a handmade Missoni dress from San Francisco!