Galaxy Print Spoonflower Space Dress!

I finally got round to making my space dress! It was made in the same way as this one i.e drawing around a t-shirt dress I already had.

Very happy with how the colours turned out - let's hope they don't fade too much! It was the windiest rainy day ever when the pics were taken!

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Last of the Summer Sewing - Aztec Dress

I found this fantastic stretch cotton sateen in the John Lewis clearance sale - bright Aztec zig zags - for £12 for 2 meters. I had imagined a great summer dress for hot August days - however it took me so long to getting around to finish it that summer has pretty much disappeared - its gone all cold and rainy again!!

I actually managed to squeeze two items from this fabric:

1. Summer Dress

I used the ol' faithful pencil skirt pattern and a self-drafted simple princess seam bodice attached at the waist. The first time I've ever made spaghetti straps as well, man they are not easy. I might do a little tutorial as the technique is quite interesting. Just for a bit of interest made them cross over straps at the back - also stops them slipping off the shoulders. Then put in a thick black metallic zipper down the centre back.

Here it is! (I have just got PicStitch so no doubt will be abusing that facility in future)

2. Pencil skirt

Just another simple skirt with the leftover fabric!

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Sew to Speak

I thought I'd do a quick post today about some sewing terms that may be completely baffling to a total novice that has just started sewing. Obviously this list could go on forever but here's a little glossary for your interest!

Basting - no turkey involved. This is where you temporarily sew something together with massive stitches that can easily be removed later

Bias Binding - 'bias' meaning diagonal to the weave of the fabric. Cutting something on the bias means it will be diagonal to the grain of the fabric and have a slight stretch to it. Bias binding is a huge strip of fabric, cut on the bias, which is folded inwards allowing you to make nice neat edges on garments. The fact it is on the bias means it will go around curves like armholes and necklines. Great for when you want no fuss neat edges with minimal stitching showing or a contrasting colour. You can buy it ready made or make your own. MinervaCrafts sell some great ones - Lycra and stretch binding for jersey dresses etc in crazy colours, satin and plain cotton binding too.
Bias binding
 Dart - In a pattern it looks like a wedge shape. When sewn together it shapes fabric, so flat fabric turns into a curvy shape to fit a human being.

Facing - a piece of fabric, that is identical shape to the main garment used to strengthen a particular area or create a neat edge such as at a neckline or armhole. Its sewn to the fabric, right sides of the fabric facing together and then turned inwards to created a seamless edge. Tilly and the Buttons has a good explanation here.

Interfacing - a material which is either sewn on or ironed onto the wrong side of your fabric to make it thicker or sturdier. You might want to make a purse or bag and need thickness and strength; super heavy interfacing is your friend. You also find it in collars and waistbands.

Muslin/Toile - a mock up of a garment. Like a dress rehearsal for a real bit of clothing except you can tear it apart and refit it as many times as you like in order to get the pattern pieces just right.

Notions - occasionally of grandeur but mainly 'bits and bobs'. It's all your tools and equipment for sewing; seam ripper, buttons, clasps, zips, pins etc....Stuff.

Right side - The correct side of your fabric. The good side. The one you want the world to see.

Seam Ripper -  Essential. A gadget of joy and doom. It can fix your errors and take things apart without damaging them, but it does mean you're having to take things apart. Awkward.
Seam Ripper

Stash - A massive hoard of fabric that you have because, well you needed it, it was pretty, its just nice having it there for 'one day'. Please note that your fabric stash will no doubt get out of hand if you start sewing. Go with it, there are worse addictions in the world. Organise it all you want, it will never be neat.

Wrong side - the other one. The rough unseen side. Not always rough, sometimes very pretty but its glory will be hidden from view for the best part.

UFO - Less other worldly and more annoying. Unfinished Objects. Everything you started and couldn't be arsed to finish. Of course you will finish day.

Reclaimed fabric - Bringing back the bees!

Just a quick post to show you how I altered the pleated skirt used for my previous post and tutorial on how to make a pleated skirt.
I was saving the fabric for something special as I loved the bees, and really should have gone with my gut feeling. It's nice sewing new styles and trying new patterns out - but as far as wearable items go, you need to make what you are going to actually wear! I bet there are many of you out there with a pile of homemade clothes that just don't get worn as they are not really our style.

I'm really not a pleated skirt person it turns out - way too girly - it just felt wrong. So out came the seam ripper and and hour later I had reclaimed a meter and a half of bee fabric and a full waist band and zip! Like magic... It took some serious steam ironing to get the creases out but once done I was left with a pre-hemmed large rectangle of fabric.
I love pencil skirts, easy to wear, comfy and don't blow around in a breeze. I used my regular self drafted skirt pattern and cut out pieces from the reclaimed fabric. The length was obviously restricted from the already sewn hem and width of fabric but it seemed fine. Then it was just a case of reattaching the waist band and zip!
Moral of the story, sew for your style if it's one you definitely want to keep!
Before the seam ripping!


How to make an ice pack / heat pack

You may find yourself with loads of scrap fabric. I thought I'd try and find a few ways of putting these to use as its such a shame to waste nice prints!

This tutorial is for a really simple ice pack / heat pack. Great for super hot weather - stick it in the freezer for an hour and you have a refreshing cold pack. Perfect for cold weather - microwave it for 45 seconds and you have a cosy heat pack!

Make these in any size, shape and colour - its really just rice in a bag!

You will need:
  • Rice
  • Fabric
  • Thread
Step 1 - Cutting

Cut out your desired shape. I've gone for a simple square to show you. You could make all kinds of things; flowers, bears, circles, whatever! Just so long as you can cut 2 identical pieces

Step 2 - Pin and sew

Place the fabric pieces together, right sides facing and pin around the edge. You need to leave room for the rice to go in, so leave a couple of inches open along one side. Sew around the edges!

Step 3 - Fill it up

Turn inside out and fill with rice! You want it about 1/2 or 3/4 full of rice so that its bendy and the grains can move around.

Step 4 - Close it up

Fold the opening inwards and stitch down to seal the pack shut. Voila! Finished packs!! Heat or freeze as you like :-)

Happy heating and cooling.... :-)

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How to make a Kimono Top - Tutorial

There is an abundance of floaty kimono tops available at the moment in all kinds of colours and pretty patterns, but for some reason some seem to be fairly expensive given what they consist of! With a bit of fabric and about 1 hour you can create your own top. Here's how to make them:

You will need:
  • Fabric (anything drapey) 1-2 yards depending on how big you want it
  • Fringe or embellishment
  • Thread
Step 1 - Create a pattern

All you need to do is create a big L-Shape. Measure from the back of your neck out to where you want your sleeve to lie (mine was 25") and decide on your sleeve depth (I went for 12"). The measure down from the back of your neck to the length you want your Kimono (I think this was about 50"). The body width is then a measurement from the back of your neck to shoulder plus 2" (this one worked out at 12" again).

Step 2 - Fold your fabric

Fold your fabric, right sides facing, downwards on to itself. Then fold again creating a quarter of what you started with. It is essential to have the folds in the top left corner!

Step 3 - Cut out

I weighted the fabric down with cans of food! Its super slippery chiffon so needed taming. Pin on your pattern piece so it touches the top left corner then cut it out to create a 2 layered T shape.
Step 4 - Create the front opening

Cutting through a SINGLE layer of the fabric, cut a straight line up the from of the Kimono (you know, they work better when you can get in it). Be careful and don't cut both layers!!
Now you need a neck opening. Measure the width of your neck plus an inch or so and create a slit at the top folded edge.
To shape the front just create a line from the neck edge down to the front opening and cut on both sides.

Step 5 - Sew together

Pin up the open side seams and sew them together. You could be fancy and use french seams so there are no raw edges showing. I just trimmed with pinking sheers as its not that visible anyway. Choose your needle wisely! I used a 60/8 machine needle for delicate thin fabrics so it didn't rip into the chiffon too much.

Step 6 - Hem all around

Hem all the way around the neckline and bottom edge of your Kimono. You could use a rolled hem to keep it lovely and neat. Again I was being a bit lazy and just trimmed and turned up the edges.

Step 7 - Add embellishments

At this point you might decide you are which case enjoy! If you fancy adding anything now is the time. I went for some swingy purple fringe. Just pin this in place to the front of the Kimono and sew it right on there.

Step 8 - Wear that bad boy out and about

Throw it on and go!

Please do share on comments below, Facebook or Twitter if you have a go at this! x  :-)

Pleated Skirt Tutorial

A couple of weeks ago I was playing about with a bit of fabric and ended up making this:

Its a simple pleated skirt make from a very long rectangle of fabric ('Inked Girls' - Alexander Henry - tattooed half naked ladies all over it - if anyone wants some I have tons left!) with an exposed zipper at the back:

Want to make one?! Here we go:

You will need:
  • Fabric  - I'm using a fantastic fabric called 'Bright and Buzzy Bees on Sky by Robert Kaufman, bought from the fantastic PlushAddict
  • Zip
  • Thread

Reptile optional - he was trying to help out
Step 1 - Measure out your fabric

The width of the fabric =  approx. 3 x your waist measurement plus seam allowance for the zip. The length = length you want your skirt plus allowance for hem and waistband (mine was 55cm). My fabric had a print that was one directional, so I actually had to stitch 3 pieces together for it to be about 250cm. To ensure the finished skirt was going to fit I actually did more than 3 x waist measurement and just kept pleating! Feel free to do the same!

Massive rectangle
Step 2 - Hem!

Do the hemming now. Its far easier to hem a giant straight line than a crazy folder skirt at the end. Neaten the bottom edge, turn it up and hem in place.
Hem the bottom edge
Step 3 - Pleat and keep pleating

There are many ways to pleat - there's a whole list here. I'm just doing regular, straight forward side pleats about 5cm in length. Not forgetting to leave 1.5cm at the left edge of the fabric for seam allowance, pick up the fabric about 10cm in, and fold it back on itself 5cm, creating your pleat. Pin the pleat in place both at the top and bottom so it hold shape. Where the pleat ends, pick up again a further 10cm away, fold back on itself 5cm and pi the pleat - they should be sitting neatly side by side, neither overlapping nor having gaps between them.
A side pleat - start at the left edge of fabric
Pin in place

Trying to help - not helping.
Keep pleating until you reach your waist measurement plus seam allowance
Step 4 - Iron it big time

You want those fold to stay put and be nice and sharp - use a steam iron to really flatten in the creases

Step 5 - secure the pleats

Sew the top edge of the skirt all the way along the pleats securing them together

Stitching the pleats in place
Step 6 - Optional extra

I don't like my skirts too 'poofy' or sticking out that much, I'm not a very 'girlie' sort of person so I decided to sew about 7cm down each place to keep the skirt sitting a little straighter. It kept the pleats in place and held them flat to my middle before sticking out a bit.

Step 7 - create a waistband

You will need a strip of fabric 10cm in length x your waist measurement plus seam allowance in width.

You may also want to strengthen the waistband by ironing fusible interfacing to the wrong side - his will toughen the material up a bit to be more durable.

Create the waistband by folding it in half across the length and pressing with an iron. Then fold 1.5cm of the length inwards on either side.

Step 7 - Add the waistband to the skirt

Right side to right side, pin the waist band across the top edge of the skirt. Then sew it in place.
If you flip the waistband up now its sewn on, you can see it taking shape!

Step 8 - Insert the zip

Now join your rectangle of pleats together, right side to right side pin up the centre back seam. Leaving enough room for your zip, sew up the skirt from the bottom hem up to where your zip will start. I'm doing an exposed zip as I found a nice blue one that matched my fabric. You might also want to try a concealed zip - tutorial here!

Neaten the raw edges, pin and sew seam together leaving gap the length of zip
Pin your zip in place along the zip tape and make sure its all secure before sewing in place. The top of the zip should sit at the halfway fold on the waistband. Sew it in place!

Top of zip sits at halfway fold on waistband

Sew zip in place
Step 9 - Finish the waistband

Fold the waistband over onto the wrong side of the fabric, trapping all the raw edges in there. Sew the waistband down keeping the stitched straight and neat :-)

Not the best example of neat stitching ever - finished waistband none the less!
Step 10 - wear it!

Enjoy your new skirt. I chose the windiest day ever to try and take these pics, was blowing around all over the show!

As always please do feel free to get in contact by comments below, Facebook or Twitter :-)
Happy sewing! x