Q-tips and the sewing machine

Doing the business

So, there I was, doing a wee bit of sewing a few evenings ago. As you do. (Or as I do, anyway!) I must confess,  I’m a bit of a monkey for sewing across pins without taking them out (although I am getting better, honest!). One of my bad sewing habits is that I’m a bit reckless on the sewing machine, throwing caution to the wind in my desire to get things finished! I find it annoying to have to stop to take out bloody pins!

Well, there I was, merrily sewing when…Doomfph! Crack! Ooops! One half pin left in my fabric, the other bit nowhere to be seen. Eeek! “It’s gone into the underneath, the bit where the bobbin lives,” thought I (as I do not yet know what that nether-chamber is called). “I’ll just have a quick look and see if I can get it back out.”

Well, therein began a journey of massive proportions. For the fluff that confronted me when I took the plate off was really something else! “Oh bugger”, thought I. “I really must clean this out a bit more regularly!”

So I went in search of Q-tips (cotton buds to those of us in the UK). Not just good for cleaning ears, but amazing for cleaning out the sewing machine. Much better than the silly little brush gadget that comes with the machine. So, I don’t know if you’re supposed to use them for this, but I’ve found it works for me…and it’s soooooo rewarding and satisfying getting into all the little nooks and crannies and getting the blessed fluffy stuff out!

Doing the business
Doing the business

Please take care if you are doing this at home – voided warranties, etc. may ensue. I’ve no idea. But definitely turn the bloomin’ thing off at the wall first, please!

So, quite a few minutes and a whole pile of cotton buds later, and my bobbin-house was lovely and clear of fluff. Such fun too!

Lovely and sparkly-clean!
Lovely and sparkly-clean!
What a lot of fluff!
What a lot of fluff!

But I never did find the half-pin. That’s for another expedition. Tweezers, anyone?!!!

Feeling tweedy

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Well, although the weather here is still very mild for the time of year, my thoughts are gravitating towards chillier times. With Christmas not too far off in the future, I am readying myself for some craft fairs…so stock is needing to be produced! Luckily it’s half term and although I’m having to entertain my little lad by day, my evenings are blissfully full of fabric, thread and all the accoutrements of my craft. Sorry, but I love that word, accoutrements, so needed to get it in somewhere. I promise that’s it for today, though!

Last year, I made some cute little tweed handbags using pieced bits of handwoven Harris Tweed that my lovely Mum brought me back from her hols there. Beautiful fabric, lovely shades and they made sweet little bags. Well, they all sold out (to various parts of the world, including France, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand & Japan, which is lovely!) So I thought I’d better get some more ready for the coming festive buying season!

Well, having not made any for a while, I finally located my pattern but the first took ages as I’d completely forgotten the order I did things in! But the second took a little less time. This time, I have used some regular wool tartans (plaids) mixed in with some of my remaining pieces of Harris Tweed. I do love them, and I think they look great teamed with a lovely coat, some cosy tights and boots. Am hopefully going to get a couple more done over the weekend. Do you like them? I used some lovely vintage buttons to finish them off (I love a beautiful button!)

First one – purple & grey:

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Second one: green & white:

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I am wondering whether to do little matching coin purses to go with them…what do you think? I love these gorgeous tweedy fabrics! Hello autumn!

 

DIY applique – or How to cover up a boo-boo!

Stitching the flowers on.

I made this denim skirt several weeks ago during the summer (Tilly and the Buttons Delphine pattern).

Delphine number 1 - in denim
Delphine in denim

I was pleased with how it turned out (lovely shape!) but after trying it on a few times, realised that the ‘give’ in it was annoying me and I had made it a little too big. I needed to adjust it slightly from the waist through to the hem and so I did. But in the process, because I was hurrying to finish it, I stuck my seam ripper through the fabric by mistake and left a little hole…eek!  I tried darning it but it’s a heavy weave denim and so it just started fraying. Oh no! What to do? Never mind, thought I, nobody will notice. So I hung it in my wardrobe.

Well, it’s been hanging in my wardrobe ever since, and every time I go to wear it, I realise that the little nick is really noticeable and frankly looks rubbish. So finally today, I decided to sort it out. I’m not wearing it, so even if it went a bit wrong, what did I have to  lose?!

Oh dear - pretty noticeable 'nick'!
Oh dear – pretty noticeable ‘nick’!

I do love a bit of applique, so had a quick think and a browse through my many craft books for some inspiration. I thought about foxes and giraffes, trailing vines and spots. But finally I settled on flowers, sixties-stylee. I rummaged through my scrap box (always keep little scraps – they do come in soooo useful for many bits and pieces!) I chose a few pieces and drew a freehand flower shape and went to work.

I cut 5 shapes for the front (in different fabrics) and arranged them. I then decided it needed to have flowers on the back too, so I cut a further 5 flower shapes for the back. I ironed on Bondaweb to the fabric and cut the shapes out.

Iron the bondaweb on the reverse of the fabric, then draw the shape and cut it out.
Iron the bondaweb on the reverse of the fabric, then draw the shape and cut it out.
I cut out 10 flower shapes altogether.
I cut out 10 flower shapes altogether.

I then stitched the flower shapes on. I do like doing ‘proper’ applique with beautiful satin stitches around the edges. But I also like the folksy-style of straight-stitched edges that are then allowed to fray. So I did it that way, because I think denim is quite a casual fabric and lends itself to a bit of folksy-style decoration! I wanted a random placement of flowers as the nick was next to the seam!

Stitching the flowers on.
Stitching the flowers on.

Well, it took me about an hour and a half (including going downstairs to make a cup of tea!) and I am quite pleased with the finished result, front and back. Hopefully I’ll get lots of wear out of it.

Let me know what you think! I’d also love to see any of your rescue remedies for when things don’t go quite right with your sewing!

The front
The front
The back
The back

My new toy

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My lovely Mum queued at 8am yesterday to be one of the first in to her local LIDL in order to get me a Singer overlocker which they had in on special offer. I teach all day so they would have sold out by the time I could get there. Have wanted one for so long! As it happens, Mum was one of the first into the shop but by the time she got to them, there were only two left! Wow! She picked it up, along with some cones of thread. What a lovely Mum!

So, I got it tonight and after a bit of confusion with the manual and the need for a glass of wine, I managed to thread it up and try it out!

Am obviously going to be using it for neatening seams etc. but can anyone recommend a good book or blog/website for other tips and ideas in getting the most out of it?

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Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned…

Some wee coin purses

…It’s been more than three weeks since my last confession post and I feel I must make amends.

In my day job, term has begun in earnest and it’s been a manic couple of weeks getting to know my new class and getting myself back into the swing of teachery things like planning, marking, etc. But I wanted to share some exciting sewing news…I have bought myself a tailor’s dummy!

Exciting for me – maybe not so for you, but am feeling very pleased with myself, having secured what is (hopefully) a bargain on eBay. I’ve been after one for ages and have missed out on several by just a few quid. So I decided to up my top price this time and yippee! I won! Once she’s here, I’ll post a photo.  She’s a vintage blue Venus dummy. Any suggestions for names?

So, the next thing is…what to make? I have some lovely fabric given to me by my American sister-in-law that is crying out to be made into a sassy wee skirt – I have already made the Delphine skirt by Tilly & the Buttons (must have told you before how much I love her stuff?) and it is a nice shape, so might try it out on different fabric…watch this space!

Delphine number 1 - in denim
Delphine number 1 – in denim

You can see what other people have done with their Delphine on Tilly’s pinterest board.

Am also really happy to have purchased two new craft books, which arrived in the post today. Chloe Tells You How…to Sew by Chloe Owens, and Stuart Hillard’s Sew Fabulous. My bedtime reading for tonight!

On the making front, I have dipped my toe in the water this weekend with some new coin purses. A friend wanted one and I had a depleted stock following the success of the craft sale in August, so have whipped up a few in some cute fabrics. Am thinking of keeping the spool print one myself, for putting notions in when I go to craft club.

Some wee coin purses
Some tiny coin purses – enough for a credit card and your pocket money

So, anyway, that’s it for now. Be back soon…!

Oh, I almost forgot to introduce the newest addition to the family…this is Rocket and he is nearly 5 months old! Named after Rocket Racoon from Guardians of the Galaxy!

Say hello to Rocket!
Say hello to Rocket!