Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Etsy Wednesday: Rubypearl

layaway for politologa

IwantIwantIwant! These, my friends, are the work of Rubypearl and aren’t they super! They look effortless to make, but by god they aren’t. They are hand-pieced from crochet, embroidery, lace, knitting, vintage clothing, doilies – anything and everything fabric and they are perfect

monster mash dress2

The thing that makes them perfect is Sunny’s eye. She has this knack of picking just the right thing for the right spot, and she aint afraid of colour, or pattern, or probably spiders.

circus wildflower top

If you want to have a closer look, check out her shop,  if you’d like a window into her (incredibly funny) world, check out her blog :)

Go see!


Teatowel to kitchen curtains tutorial

Ok, not the hardest refashion in the world, but these are the kind I like – that “oh, yeah!” moment when you see the obvious for the first time (it happens to me an awful lot!)
The thing about teatowels is that they are made for kitchens, albeit without the intention of them being curtains. Well, these teatowels cost £2 for five from a charity shop and I can’t pass up a bargain (I bought 10)! Plus, they were perfect for my kitchen, but too perfect to dry dishes on.
I decided I wanted cafe-style curtains – the idea is to block out peering eyes at night rather than block out the world entirely.
Teatowels are perfect because they have ready bound edges. Unfortunately, they weren’t wide enough for my windows. The little window needed 1 1/2 towels and the big one needed 3, but if anything, this made the curtains better!
I laid them out on the floor to match the colours. These were five differently striped towels, thick, thin and with subtly different colours. I cut two down the centre lengthways and sewed three of the halves each  to a full towel, making sure the ready bound edges were on the, um, edges.
Rather than cutting to fit, I folded the top over and sewed to make deep channels. Then I slotted them onto sprung curtain cord, screwed little hooks into the ends, and attached these to large cuphooks screwed into the window(I love cuphooks, they are my friend).
I loved the curtains so much, I replaced the large curtain covering a gap under the counter in the same way, only this time I used more teatowels.
The strip at the top is all I had left of the previous 5 towels, a half cut in half again widthways and sewn together, the other three are whole towels.
All in all, I used 8 towels, at a cost of £4. I already had the cord, but you could use cafe poles - they are extendable, so will fit any window. I already had the cuphooks too, so this was a pretty cheap thrifty project :)

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Reminder: Wardrobe Refashion open for sign-ups

I just want to remind everyone to sign up for this fantastic resource!

Wardrobe Refashion

If you haven’t discovered it already, Wardrobe Refashion is full of amazing, thrifty ideas. Don’t be afraid to pledge and share yours too – you too can give up buying clothes!


Saturday, 27 June 2009

A proper work in progress: Ideas anyone?

So, I made the bare bones of this skirt ages ago and never finished it (I have a sack full of unfinished things, really, a sack). I spent hours measuring, pleating and topstitching because I thought it would look really cute. But it didn’t. I looked like I had just robbed the Caribbean.
So I put it to one side, stuffed it in with the rest of my stash and didn’t look at it again. Until this week, when I was rummaging through my acres of fabric and I found it. I decided to try and salvage it by sewing big ruffled, ragged edged circles to it. I gathered and pinned and sewed and tried to make something of it but it didn’t look quite like it did in my head.
Do the ruffles need to be wider? Bigger circles maybe? More circles? No circles? Different colours? I like all the elements, but do they work combined? Hmmmm.
I’m at a loss, and I need your help. It still makes me look like a pirate, but I want to look cute :( It has become a mission, a goal – I must finish this skirt.
It. Will. Not. Beat. Me. (help!)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Check out my big plans!


On a recent post, Dana commented “is your house in a fairytale?! Everything is so gorgeous and picturesque.” Well, I’m going to show you the ugly truth – these are our garages: concrete, 60’s (and not the good 60’s), asbestos filled monstrosities! This is the approach to my house, forms a great first impression huh? The back of the garages looks like this:


Also known as my back garden. Much better, but those garages make a poor backdrop.

Well, here’s the plan, we’re knocking them down and in their place we’re building a workshop. You see, me and ma are ceramicists of sorts (check out my website if you like), and by of sorts I mean I’ve been a bit lazy recently but that’s all set to change!


The new workshop will be a properly dedicated space, no more working on the kitchen floor or dining table, and hopefully this will give me the kicking I need to get my backside in gear.

Planning is through (after many, many months of wrangling), building regs are done, the architect has done a fantastic job and I just got the word from the builder that the start date is August.

When it’s finished, it will look like a smaller, squarer version of the house - we wanted it to look like a refurbished outbuilding, like it had always been there.

Phew, I don’t know whether to be scared of all the upheaval (and writing big cheques) or excited. It’s step one on the journey to self-employment. We’ll be running small ceramics and kiln-formed glass workshops from there, as well as making our own work…

No, I think I was right the first time, definitely scared.

I’ll keep you posted :)


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Etsy Wednesday: Friends of Socktopus

Welcome to my new weekly feature, Etsy Wednesday, because I find too many drooly things on there to keep quiet about them any longer!


I Looove these pincushions made from recycled ceramics, especially this kitty-cat (look at his eyebrows!) There are planters, dishes and mugs, all with added pincushiony goodness. You can visit the shop Friends of Socktopus to see more of Clarity Miller’s work.


As well as pincushions, Clarity also makes these lovely plush toys from recycled sweaters, all with international delivery. See that below? That’s a socktopus! :)










Go have a look-see, don’t you want to be a friend of Socktopus? I do.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Doorstop tutorial

Every time you open one door in my house, another slams shut. We have three cats so we wedge the doors open with anything at hand to avoid tail injury! This morning I decided enough was enough - I have a sack full of decent sized scraps and the sewing machine was winking at me. I ran a few of these up in about an hour and the doors have been blissfully slam-free ever since :)
1: First, make your template. Mine is 15cm at the base but tapers to 13cm at the top. I made the base wider for super extra stability.
cut pieces
2: Cut your pieces. You will need one base (I used canvas so it would be hardwearing), four sides, one top and a strip for a handle. I made these from some lightweight cotton left over from a 50’s dress project.
sewn sides
3: Pin and sew all four sides together
pin topsew top
4: Fold the handle piece in half and sew. Turn the handle right side out and press flat.
5: Pin the top in place. This can be a bit tricky but keep at it! Sew the top in place, but don’t forget to add the handle :)
sew base 
6: Pin the bottom in place and sew. Make sure you leave a 3” gap for turning.
   sewn up
7: Turn your doorstop the right way out. 
8: Add some weight! If you happen to have a block of lead the right dimensions lying around this would be perfect. I don’t though, so I used around a kilo of play sand. I Put it into a carrier bag before stuffing it into the doorstop so it wouldn’t shift around.
9: Fill the top half of the doorstop with toy stuffing and sew up the hole in the base.
Et voila! Go stop some doors :)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Men's shirt refashion #1 tutorial (sort of)

I was given a bag full of men's shirts (I'm well known as thrifty/cheap) so I have set myself the task of refashioning them all - the 70's double-knit acrylic is worrying me slightly, so I chose the nicest one to start with!

Stupidly, I didn't realise that men's shirts have nowhere for your boobs to go. I thought to myself, "this'll be an easy refashion, just take it in a bit" *Insert deranged laugh here* I'm glad I had my trusty dressform to work with or this could have been a real nightmare. Next time it'll be much easier though, since I know what I'm doing. Sorry I forgot to do a proper tutorial, but this is how I did it.

I used nearly every scrap of fabric available for this top. I first removed the collar, cuffs and sleeves and had a good look. I raised the back, took in the sides, and added darts.

The bottom half of the sleeves became the Peter Pan collar. I used a template I drew specifically for this shirt. If you have a dressform, or a willing friend, cut the neckline as low as you want, then put the shirt on the form/friend, mark the centre of the back, and pin a piece of tracing paper around one half of the neck. Trace the edge of the neckline marking the centre front (or as far as you want the collar to go) and centre back. Remove the paper and draw the collar you want. For a Peter Pan collar, this will look like an upside-down comma (,) Cut it out and pin it to the shirt, checking it fits well and that the centre line is straight. Place the template with the centre line on the fold of your chosen fabric so when you open it out you have the full collar. When you cut, remember to add seam allowance. Cut 2 and add interfacing to one of them. Sew right sides together leaving a gap so you can turn it right side out. Snip all the curves, turn it the right side out, press and sew up the hole. Topstitch around the edge of the whole thing and pin it to your shirt. Hand sew with the most invisible stitches you can, and you're done :)

The cuffs became the scalloped placket (see the two little buttons at the bottom? They hide the old buttonholes :) To do this, I drew a template and made it in exactly the same way as the collar, minus the interfacing. I unpicked the buttonhole placket for the length of the scalloped piece and pinned the piece in place. It looked a bit boring, so I dug into my ribbon stash and found a piece of broderie Anglais edging to finish it off.
When I took in the sides I made the armholes smaller and reinserted the sleeves with a bit of puff. Finally, I moved the breast pocket to the hip. I kept the length as it was so it would be tunic-y and the pocket is so low you can tuck the shirt into jeans without seeing it.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Yum, it's a Bow Bag tutorial!

Fabric seems to breed at my house (doesn't really help that I can't stop buying it!) Every time I make something I always have loads of fabric left over so I designed this bag to use up some of the larger scraps. You can never have too many bags, right? The top has a drawstring so it can expand when you need it to, but draw it up for security (and cuteness) My original has a pocket inside but because of the drawstring it hangs open so I don't use it much. I changed the design slightly to add elastic to the pocket and now it works much better!

*All the pictures should be clickable to enlarge them, might make it easier to see what's going on!*
1: I wanted the bag to be able to hold files/paper etc. so I use an A4 (10" x 8") sheet of paper as a template.

2: Use a dinner plate to draw a curve around one corner (you can adjust the size of the curve by choosing smaller or bigger circular things)

3: Cut the curve. This is the basic template, the straight edge on the right is the fold line.

4: Cut 1 (back) piece with the long edge of the template on the fold and two half (front) pieces. Add extra seam allowance to these two pieces on the long edge. Cut two pieces on the fold for the lining (I recycled a pair of jeans)
5: Pin the two half front pieces face together and place a mark 2 inches from the top, then another 1 inch below that. This will be the opening for the drawstring casing. Sew up front pieces along the long edge, leaving the 1 inch marked area open.

6: Open out the front piece and press the seam. Topstitch the front seam open.
7: With right sides facing, sew front piece to back piece.

8: Cut a piece for the pocket approximately 6x6 inches.

9: Fold and press the edges. Press the top edge deep enough to encase the elastic and sew this edge.

10: Thread elastic through casing using a safety pin, gather and secure at both ends.
11: Sew the pocket to one of the lining pieces, approx 3" from the top.

12: Sew the two lining pieces together, leaving a 3" opening in the base.

13: Place the lining inside the outer, right sides together. Pin and sew.

14: This bit's a bit tricky, but hold on in there :) Invert the bag by pulling all the fabric through the hole in the lining then sew up the hole. This always looks like it isn't going to work, and then it magically becomes a bag, you'll see ;)
15: Press the bag (again!) and topstitch around the top of the bag, as close to the edge as possible.
16: Measure from the top of the bag to the opening of the ribbon casing. Mark where the casing needs to be at each side of pocket and sew around the whole bag, like tram-lines (avoiding the pocket, don't want to sew that baby shut!)
17: Measure across your body to determine the length of the handle and cut two strips of fabric as long as you need (plus 1/2" seam allowance) by 2" wide.
18: Place two handle pieces right sides facing and sew together. Sew a point on one end of the handle, and half the point on the other (this will make life easier later) and trim the seams.
19: Use a knitting needle to turn the handle the right side out (Keep going, nearly done...)

20: Press the handle flat.
21: This is where you'll be glad you half sewed the second point! Push the excess fabric inside to form the second point and press.

22: Topstitch the handle all around, as close to the edge as possible.

23: Line up the handle with the outer side seam of the bag and stitch across, following the topstitching on the bag. The handle should overlap the edge of the bag an inch or so, for decorative effect.
24: Sew a decorative vintage button to the pointed bit.
25: Tie your ribbon to a crochet hook and thread through casing.
26: Gather the top of the bag slightly and tie a bow.

Your bag is finished! Phew, that was a lot of steps, and it doesn't take as long as it looks - I made four Bow Bags yesterday :) The green bag is a gift for a friend's birthday tomorrow, it is made from a piece of vintage Liberty fabric I've had for ages but never had the guts to start cutting!

Here are some more completed bow bags made by readers for inspiration - let me know if you make one and I'll add it to the gallery!