Saturday, 31 August 2013

Somerset and Charity shop finds

I have been on holiday this last week in our caravan to Somerset. We stayed on a  working farm which had pitches and also static caravans, the field we were on was fantastic as it was huge with beautiful views and there were only four other caravans on it which were all really well spaced out.

Here you can see the lovely setting for watching the sun go down in the evening. There were donkeys in the field opposite which were friendly and my son enjoyed going over to see them, one did try to eat my hoodie though!  It was only young.

We have had a caravan for about four years now and this means we are able to get away a lot during the school holidays to different places for a reasonable cost. I work in school myself and family holidays during the school holidays can be really expensive. The caravan gives us the opportunity to have lots of breaks, without it we may not get to see so much of our lovely country. We don't always get good weather though and this can sometimes spoil it but that could still happen even if the holiday was costing a fortune. We loved the site which was called West Hill farm if anyone is interested in going, the only down side was there was only one toilet and shower each for male/females however they did appear to be in the process of building a new shower block and we never had to wait for the facilities as it was not a busy site. That is the way we like them and we always stay clear of the huge camp sites as they just don't have the same feel.
We always try to get out and see as much of the area as possible, one of the first places we visited and returned to more than once was Weston-Super-Mare which I loved  and can't believe I've never been before.

The weather was fabulous which helped of course but a lovely place. The sea front was spacious and clean and views out to sea were so good you nearly forgot you were in usually grey England. 

We had some lovely meals sat looking out to sea and we usually eat in the caravan but it was so lovely with the sun shining that when we visited we ate at one of the restaurants on the front. I had a gorgeous Greek salad.
We also visited Minehead which was smaller but also very nice, the beaches here were also very good. There is also a lovely tree lined street full of shops and small coffee shops with quite a few charity shops thrown in, always good for a look around.

We visited the small habour of Watchet also but I didn't think it was somewhere you could make a day of. It was pretty and had a small railway station with steam train and a boat museum ( also very small) 
We also always try to make good use of our English Heritage membership where ever we go and while we were in the area we visited Cleeve Abbey and Mulchelney Abbey (I may have spelt that wrong) The membership pays for itself after a few visits and it makes for lots of days out.

I mentioned the charity shops well I managed to get a few bargains while I was there, in one town I found an animal rescue charity shop up a side road and I got a yellow skirt for £1 and a blue dress for £2.45 in another shop I got a patterned dress for £2 and here they are..

This dress is a bit long so I will perhaps shorten it, i also think it would look good with along sleeve t shirt under ( I have one in brown) thick tights and boots for Autumn/Winter.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Cushion Tutorial - the easy way

Hello I haven't been around this last week as we have been away in our caravan to Somerset and had a lovely week, it stayed dry and was also sunny which doesn't usually happen when we decide to go off somewhere but the weather held out for us this time. I will share some images when I get the chance we only got back this evening so there is lots to do.  I thought I would share some basic instructions for the bright cushions I posted on earlier in the week and those bits of fabric I had left.
First you need to measure your cushion to see what size you need, alternatively if you already have the old cushion cover you can measure that.

Now depending on how many panels you have you need to work out how wide they need to be then add a half inch each side plus an inch to the length for your seam allowance ( it will be a half inch seam allowance throughout).
You could also just play around with your fabric and lay it on, make sure your cushion is covered with enough over hang for seams, sew them all together then make your neat fitting square once you have done this.  This may be preferable for anyone who is put off by adding it all up and working it out, after all the cushion is unique it doesn't have to follow any set rules.

That is what I did in the one above.
You then need to press your seams open, don't skip this bit as it will not look right otherwise.

Then you are going to add a zip, I recycled the ones from the old cushion covers as its always best to use what you have , just carefully unpick, being super careful at the ends as in my case the zipper had already been trimmed and could fly off the end if you are not careful. Pull out all the loose threads.  Lay it on your two  cushion sides which should be facing right sides together, wrong side up facing you.

I mark at each end with a pin as in the photo. Now remove the zip for now, and sew a half inch seam down to the pin stop and reinforce, go down to the other end where the other pin is and sew a half inch seam again up to the edge.

Now you will have a gap with no stitching down the middle, turn your stitch on your machine to the longest length and sew all along between the pins keep it loose don't reinforce as you will be unpicking shortly.

Now open that seam flat, add your zipper foot to your machine, lay the zip down right side facing downwards and sew closely to teeth, you will know where to position it as you have your pins in place still.
Repeat up the other side.

Now you have in your zip but no opening! take your seam ripper or small scissors and release that loose seam up to the reinforced stitching at each end of the zip.  This should have ensured your zip is in nice and even on both sides. You can top stitch at this point if you like on the right side, I didn't in this case.
With right sides together sew all around the cushion using half an inch seam allowance ( did I mention make sure your zip is in the open position first) You now have a nice cushion shape, snip off the corners then zig zag or overlock all around to prevent fraying.
Now neaten all edges, get rid of al those stray threads and turn through. put it on your cushion and admire your work. I know there will be people out there saying I don't do it that way, well that's fine, we all find our own way. Also not all my cushions are made this way, but some are, it's quick. I also use envelope backs, concealed zips, plackets and velcro but that is something for another time.  There may be a lot of photos but this really is a quick way to do it, have a go and let me know what you think.  Here is the cushion below.

The leaf fabric on the cushion is left over from a skirt I made so when I wear it I will be blending in with the furniture! Back soon with some holiday images and great finds from the charity shops there.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Holiday dress

Well I got on with it and I made up the dress this morning from the cotton jersey. It didn't take very long as I  have made a couple in this style before as they are really comfortable and I didn't need a pattern.  A used a dress that I know fits me well and is also made of a fabric with a bit of stretch, I place the dress on top and cut out allowing a good seam allowance with a little bit extra at the top to allow me to place darts.  I decided on a length then cut the skirt in two pieces with a slight circle shape to it.

Then I pinned in place where I would like my darts based on the other dress, and cut a facing piece for around the neck and one in interfacing, I also cut long strips of fabric to fold and bind around the arm holes.  I always try on half way through when everything is put together just to check the fit and in this case it needed no adjustments.  So I hemmed it and finished all the  binding and here it is.  You can't make out the colours very well but it has a purple and brown spot pattern, it may look good with a purple belt but I don't have one I will keep a look out for one but for now I will be wearing it as it is.

The other dresses I have done in this style I have done the skirt differently and cut out the skirt as one long rectangle and then added even pleats towards the centre front and back. This fabric felt more flowing and a lighter weight so I though it would work better just fitted to the waist and I think it does.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Dress making and home decorating

Yesterday I had to rush off and make a dress well it is all finished and I have a picture to show you however it is only on the hanger and this doesn't really do it justice. I will post another when the lady I'm making it for is back from her holiday and hopefully she will not mind having a shot taken with it on.  It is a halter neck  style and has a concealed zip at the back. The skirt has a nice round fullness to it and will be worn with a co-ordinating petty coat under and I have also done some belt loops so it can have a red ribbon tie ( this is yet to be bought)  I love this style and will make one similar for me when I see some bargain fabric but I will  have traditional straps as I don't feel the halter neck style suits me.

I have some cotton jersey that needs sewing up first though, it was only £2.99 a meter and I bought a meter and a half so I really need to get on and design something for that first. I'm off on holiday this Saturday so I should really get up early and do it in the morning to take with me.. Ii will see how energetic/inspired I feel. 
Has anyone else been enjoying Kirstie's fill your house for free, I have really enjoyed watching the different transformations of peoples homes without spending a fortune. If anyone hasn't seen it  you can watch it here
I think it is such a good idea to encourage people to transform their existing furniture and accept help when it offered in the form of sofas etc. when they are first starting a home. There are so many people who think they should have everything brand new when they really can't afford it.  When we moved into our first house 20 years ago I did have enough saved for a new sofa and kitchen table but there were other items we saved on. My husband got all the kitchen door fronts from a business that sold only these, they were plain white and were hugely discounted, he took the old doors off and replaced them all. We also got white tiles from another bargain warehouse and he did the back splash, it looked fabulous and hardly cost anything.  Now it was only one wall and our fridge and cooker at that time were free standing but that didn't matter.  I also got some drawers , a dressing table and a blanket box from a market that did house clearance furniture, the stall holder was really helpful and even told me how to strip the varnish as it was very dark. I spent the afternoon applying many coats (they also delivered fro me) I varnished them a much lighter colour and we used them for years. Some people turn their noses up at used furniture and I really don't get it as the older stuff is usually real wood

 Painting dark items also works well. I think the cabinet above is great and I found it here
What about this next one, the chair here makes me want to go and find some old chairs so I can have a go!
I found the chair on Home- Dzine
I have a blind to make for my bathroom as well, so many things to get on with. The one that is up is dull and in need of replacing so I am keeping the mechanism bit with the roll and I got some fabric a while ago from Ikea only £5 I am going to replace the fabric put the long flat bit back in the bottom in a channel (I don't know the technical term!) and then glue along the top to the original roll and hope it works, I will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Craft books new and frugal

I have been looking over this book I got from the library and would like to share a bit about it with you.  It's called stitch it for spring ( yes I know it's not spring) and I have had it on order for ages. I originally put it on my wish list but then found I could order it from the library so I took it off again. I often do that it saves me making impulsive purchases or at least gives me time to decide if I really want it. Here it is..

It has some gorgeous images inside and the projects are really lovely, it features a lot of appliqué and hand embroidery. I do use a lot of appliqué  in my sewing but I have to say I tend to use a zig zag stitch around mine although I will be using the hand method when I put some of the ideas into practice. There are eight projects in the book and I have to say that while I enjoy the inspiration I like to do my own thing. The book suggests all the fabrics which are by the author Lynette Anderson, and there are templates in the back.  I will be having a go at something similar but not exactly the same as this..

I like the mixture of stitches and appliqué but I will use my own trees and the bird in the picture above is actually one of the authors buttons that she sells, I wont be buying any but some people might like the extra touch.  I will also use whatever fabrics I have and I will  share it when it is complete.
if any one wants to buy it i have found that Amazon now have it at  £5.03 here with free postage. ( I would like to point out I am not affiliated with Amazon it's just where I tend to buy from)
On the subject of books here is another of my favourites but this one I own, and yes it was on my wish  list for about six months and I decided that I would buy it.

I love the fact that these projects are encouraging you to reuse which is what I like to do rather than just rush out to buy new fabric. Here again are loads of ideas that you can copy or modify and you can also check out Betz White's blog which is really amazing here.  I really like the pillow slip dresses for little girls but as I don't have any of my own or friends with young girls I have not really had cause to use it.  It would be a great way to use those charity shop pillow cases for those of you that do though, and with some ribbons or rick rack I'm sure it would be a great starter project.

It can be found at the same source as above but I would always try the library first but they didn't have it when I wanted it, maybe it's available on loan in your area and don't forget to check the book section of the charity shops sometimes they have nothing but you can just drop on a gem occasionally.  I've got to go and create a vintage style dress for someone now, I've made the mock ( out of curtain lining!) and we  have sorted the fit, I need to make the real thing now, I have designed it myself as she didn't have a pattern just an idea so you can have a peak when it's complete.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Recycled fabric and bags

I thought I would share with you some fabric that I picked up at the local St Luke's charity shop, it's always a good idea to have a look at the linens section in these shops because you can sometimes find a really good piece.  It is also a good idea for anyone just starting to sew as you get a lot of fabric to practice on for a small price.  If you want to make a mock up of a dress you could use a sheet, give it a very hot wash first and it saves you spoiling any special fabric you have bought. Alternatively you may love it and just want to dye it a different colour!  This fabric I bought is very busy and may not be to everyone's taste but I just loved the colours.

Now this fabric is a really good size 66 inch by 49 inch and for just £1! I'm not sure all the things I will make with it yet but it will definitely go into one of my bags, may be used in part of an outfit, more cushions, trims, I will post further ideas as I use it up.  There was an identical piece to this in the shop and they both had unpicking marks as if they were curtains with the tape removed, I left the other piece for some other lucky person to snap up.  
I mentioned it may go in a bag, well I always use up recycled materials in bags and here is a picture of some of mine, the bird and the city ones were made just this last few weeks and can be found in my Folksy shop.
As you can see I like denim and  I tell friends not to throw out old denim as it has so many uses and I use it in just about all bags even if just on the inside in place of bag interfacing, it works just as well to give strength and you are minimising waste. I also use recycled shirts quite often to line them.  You can just see my sewing machine making an appearance in this picture waiting for it's next mission.   I'm off to browse a craft book now I ordered from the library I will share it tomorrow.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Bright frugal cushions

Hello there, this is my first post so please hang in there while I get the hang of it. I hope to share with you some of my ideas and creations in sewing and also saving a little bit of money along the way. I have been sewing since I was a teenager and a sewing machine was the first thing I bought when I started earning at 16. I am completely self taught though I often feel this probably leaves some gaps but never mind these are always filled in along the way. I hope I inspire some of you to have ago and I will be posting some ideas and tips as I get into this blogging routine!  I will share more in later posts but for now I would like to share what I have done this last week. Here  they are some cushion covers I made using up lots of bits of fabric I had in my stash, though I have to say my fabric is running low now as I always buy what I need and use up all of it.
Some of the bits are from charity shops, the blue on the heart cushion is from the bottom of some curtains I took up for a friend as is the bright pink at the bottom, but I did ad a random patch to that.  There is also some Amy Butler in there but I only ever buy the odd fat quarter of that as it is so expensive.  i am going to make another one soon using these bits...... I will post photos and instructions when I do. Back soon.

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...