Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Making A Christmas Stocking

We had a new addition to our family last Christmas with the arrival of our rabbit, Kiwi Bunny and this year I didn't want him to feel left out. I made my cute little bunny a Christmas stocking to keep his presents in. I found a great YouTube video from Etsy on how to make a stocking; it was done in 3 parts and is very easy to understand.

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

Items used

Material (red fleece for the outside and white bed sheet for the lining)
Sewing Machine
Ribbon (recycled from a box of chocolates)
Bell (from a cheap Christmas decoration)

Time Take: 3 hours

Making a Template 

I used some scrap paper to draw a sock shape on and added a bit extra to allow for seam allowance. Once happy with the shape and size I cut the shapes out.

Cutting the Fabric 

I laid the red fabric a little below the top of the template stocking. The lining material was laid on top making sure it was level with the template and not level with the red material, this was to create a white cuff at the top of the stocking. Then the template was placed on top of these fabrics and pinned. It is best to pin everything to stop the fabric pieces moving about when cutting the shapes out. 

After all the pieces have been cut, its best to start decorating the stocking at this stage, this makes is easier to sew everything together later on. I did a Google search on rabbit pictures and came across the perfect bunny shape to use. (tip: If the picture is too "small" or "large" reduce or blow up the picture using a photocopier.)After all the pieces have been cut out I used a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine and red thread to attach the rabbit to the stocking.

I put the right sides of the fabric together for the outside of the stocking and used a straight stitch with 1/4 seam allowance. (tip: I lined up the edge of the fabric to the machine's foot.) I stitched all around the stocking leaving the top open. Remember to put a few nips in the curves of the stocking to stop the fabric from bunching up. 

Creating the Loop

I used ribbon to make a loop, which is used to hold the stocking up. After deciding on the length I used a zig zag stitch to attach the ends together, making a loop. I lined up the loop with the ends of the ribbon in line with the seam at the side of the stocking and used a straight stitch making sure to double over for added security.

Creating the Lining

Follow the instructions on making the outside of the stocking, put the right sides together and sew around the stocking using a 1/4 seam allowance. Make sure a gap is left near the top of the stocking. This will be used to turn the stocking the right way out and also for the loop to come through.

Turning the Stocking Right Way Out 

Turn the outside of the stocking right way out pushing the corners to make sure all the shape is correct. Put the outside of the stocking into the lining part make sure the raw ends of the fabric are lined up (top of the stocking). Use a straight stitch and sew all around the top of the stocking. Use the hole in the lining to grab the outside of the stocking and pull it all out. Check the loop as come out of the stocking to before sewing up the hole. Push the lining into the stocking making sure to push our any folds in the fabric. Sew on more decoration as preferred, a jingle was used on these stockings at the side of the stocking.

Improvement Tips

After creating a large stocking for Kiwi I decided to make small ones to use as Christmas tree decorations. I realised I needed to do more hand sewing as they were too small to use on the sewing machine. When I sewed the bunny shape by hand using white thread it looked a lot neater/ I have used these stockings to decorate presents for friends.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Keyboard Mat

My computer workstation still looks fairly new and I want to keep it that way. I move my keyboard a lot of the time and worried this may scratch the surface after a while. For a time I used a cleaning cloth to protect the top, this was messy looking and not working as it should. This inspired me to create a key board mat not only to for practically but also to look good.

Equipment Used:-

Fabric (enough to cover a keyboard)
Sewing Machine

Time Taken: 2 Hours
Skills Learnt, Using Zig Zag stitching

Step 1

Measure the keyboard and leave enough room for seam allowance. I found mine to be 50cm x 20cm.

Step 2.

Copy these measurements onto a piece of cardboard. Once the image of the keyboard it drawn on cut it out.

Step 3

Check the fabric will cover the cardboard and has enough room for seam allowance.

Step 4

Place the cardboard in the material and sew from one end of the mat until all sides are sealed. I used a zigzag stitch for a funky look and also to protect the edges from fraying.

Step 5

Once all the sewing is complete. Cut off any excess material to make it look neater.

Job Complete!

Let me know how you get on when you make one of these. If you need further instructions please leave a comment below and I will respond.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sewing Workstation

After making a few attempts to make clothes I realised that my current work area set up was not working for me.

I kept my sewing machine stored away with all my sewing accessories and when I wanted to make something, it would take over 10 minutes to get set up. I had to cut large pieces of fabric on the carpet or in the hallway outside the room, this was annoying and inconvenient. I used a small table to sew on, which was fine but I was sitting on the sofa bent over my sewing machine and after time I felt this was a bad position to be in. My items were nicely stored away and looked tidy but it didn't look good nor made me feel like I want to sew today.

I knew I needed to do something to improve my sewing area. The room was big enough, so space was not really an issue. I like to leave things tidy but at the same time wanted easy access to my sewing things when inspiration hit.

I was doing some research to find ideas and inspiration on how I could utilise my own space when I came across a very good blog on organising your stuff in the house at Junkie. Also searching on YouTube with 'sewing workstations' lead me to Flyingmichelle for her storage tips and ideas.

I measured up my area and realised that I could fit a decent size table in the corner and still have plenty of room to store all of my things. A trip to Ikea found me a lovely table for £29 which was perfect for me to sew, cut and do general things on.

I came across the idea of using an inspiration board from Diana Rupp's Sew Anything Workshop, which I had as a gift. An inspiration board is somewhere I could pin up any ideas for future sewing projects and I thought this would look good above the table. 

I am very pleased with my work station area now and can't wait to start making more sewing projects.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Shoe Bag

I have recently started a tap dancing class and needed somewhere to keep my shoes, I got fed up of carrying the shoe box and decided to make a shoe bag.

I found some useful links to help with making this project happen. On You Tube I searched for how to videos on making a shoe bag and spotted Candi Cane-Canncel expert advice in making a shoe bag, this is great for a step by step guide. I also came across Magchunk's website on 'How to Make a Cute Shoe Bag', this to was a great source of information.

For my shoe bag I used the following:-


100% Cotton Fabric 13" x 10"
Cord 1 meter


Sewing Machine
Seam ripper
safety pin

Time Taken: 3 hours
Skills Learnt, creating  button holes, straight stitching

Firstly I practised on scrap material to make sure I knew what I was doing. This took me about 3 hours from start to finish. I have never made button holes before and found this to be quite challenging. After my first sample was created and I was pleased with the size I went ahead and made my final shoe bag.

I brought this dress from the reduced range in the kiddies section in New Look for £3.00, it was dropped from £14 due to a rip in the top. I thought the pattern was very cute and decided to use the fabric for my shoe bag project.

I de constructed the dress and took off the bottom skirt by using the seam ripper, this

was the most time consuming part. Once the fabric was ready to use, I neatened up the ends using the scissors. I cut open one of the seams, as I wanted the narrow side to be the top of the bag. I also turned the fabric inside out with right sides together and used the iron to get any creases out of the material. 

Once the material was ready to be used, I pinned down both sides and used a straight stitch about 2-3 size on the sewing machine. After this was complete and all the seams were made I changed the sewing stitch on my machine to a zig zag and re-did the seams using that stitch, making sure the stitch was close to the edge of the fabric as possible, this was to create an overlocker look and to stop the fabric from fraying.

Once all the seams have been sewn I turned the fabric right way out and thought about where the button hole needs to be. I folded over the top of the material and made sure it was deep enough for

the cord to go through. I used the iron to create a crease to remind me later its for the casing. I measured out the area where I wanted the button hole to be and used the button making foot on the sewing machine to make a hole. Once the hole was created I used the seam ripper to cut the hole out. I turned the fabric inside out again and started using a straight stitch to sew up the seam for the casing.

I attached the cord onto a safety pin and started threading the cord through the casing. All done.

I am very pleased with the result as this if the first project I have completed which is actually usable and looks great. It took about 2 hours to complete and doing a practise run first really helped.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Making a Bikini out of a Skirt

As the summer halter did not go quite as plan and I still had some useable material left I decided to try making a bikini top out of it, like the one I saw on Threadbangers, they used a couple of T-shirts.

I used an old bikini in the same style which still fits as my template. I folded the skirt fabric over so I would get 2 equal pieces once I cut them out. I placed the old bikini on top on the fabric, pinned it down and cut out the triangle shape. I made sure I had cut a little extra around the shape to allow for seam allowance. Once the pieces have been cut out I put them on top of each other to make sure they are the correct size. I used black polycotton fabric to do the inside of the bikini, as I did not have enough of the flower pattern.

The straps were used from the Halter Top project and needed a little alternating, I had to fold them and use a straight stitch on my sewing machine to make them thinner.

Once I had my 4 triangle pieces cut out, I paced the pattern fabric on top of the black fabric and neatened up the ends with the scissors.

The top corners of the bikini I turned inwards and placed the straps on these turned down corners and pined down. I carried on turning in all the sides by 1” pinning as I went.

To make the long strap which is to be used for the bottom of the bikini top I used more of the black poly cotton fabric, cut out about a metre and folded over each of the long ends and again in the middle pinned and sewed a seam.

After pinning everything I checked for fitting with my dummy and started sewing the seams. The bottom strap needed to be threaded through both the triangle pieces, I needed to make sure my seam was close to the end of the fabric forming a tunnel for the fabric to be pulled through.

My finished Bikini. 


I made a bikini, it failed to fit me properly and now I have run out of that lovely fabric. I have learnt a lot more from this experience, that maybe I should use pattern pieces and scrap material. Apart from that, I am getting better with stitching in a straight line and understanding how garments are constructed. This is just inspiring me to keep at it, it can only start to get better.








Have you made a bikini? Can you offer any advice on improving this for next time?

Friday, 12 June 2009

Summer Halter Top

I brought this skirt from a local charity shop, it’s actually a kids age 12-13years priced at £1.50 bargain and the quality looks new, I just loved the pattern on the fabric and thought it would make a great summer top.

I spent a few days thinking about the type of top I wanted and weighed it up with my skill level. I drew some sketches and toyed with ideas of using zips, eyelets and straps for fastening the back together. My skill level is still very basic and I didn’t want to start with something too challenging.

Now my art work isn’t brilliant but here are my sketches of how I want this halter top to look.

Idea 1

On the front of the top I thought about using a triangle design for the chest with gathers in the fabric for detail. 2 straps would be used to create the halter style top effect.

For the back I like the idea of a butterfly effect fastening design. I would use 2 eyelets in the back and use pink ribbon to fasten the back pieces together.

I feel this will still be challenging as I've never used eyelets before.

Idea 2

The front design would be a boob tube style top with 2 straps fastening the top together. I feel this would be easier then doing the first style.

For the back I thought about using 8 eyelets and making a corset style fastening, again with matching ribbon to hold the back closed.

Idea 3

After designing two ways to create the front of the top, I still had one more idea for making the back. The back fastens with 4 straps which would match the top straps and tie together. I like this design a lot and feel for my level I should be able to make these straps. Also has no zips or eyelets are used should be fairly straightforward to do.

I have decided to go with the straight front design and using straps for the back.

Well, it did not turn out so well, I managed to make the straps and hem everything ok but then when it came to trying it on, I realised the sides were too short.

So I took another look and thought, it makes a very pretty apron. Like I say, hey its my first try I have learnt a lot about sewing and now have gained a bit more skill level.

Better luck on my next project.

Do you have any thoughts or comments where I went wrong? Can you offer words of wisdom or some useful tips that I could use for similar projects?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Duct Tape Dummy

  When I was playing around with some old jeans making them into shorts I was running up and down stairs looking in the long mirror in the bathroom to see if they were level and looked ok. I found this to be a bit of a pain, literally too with stabbing myself no end with the pins in my legs. I thought there must be an easier way to see how clothes fit without having to spend £100 on a dress making form. I’ve only just started out and didn’t want to spend tons of money.

After a bit of research on the net I came across this ‘Duct Tape Dummy’ a home made version of you as a dress form. I noticed the different variations of making a dummy, some used duct tape and Paper Mache like at Threads magazine others versions were made out of parcel tape as seen here on Threadbangers. I searched for videos on You Tube and found this was easier to understand.

Feeling all inspired I went down to the local DIY store and brought 3 rolls of duct tape in silver costing around £6.00. I put on an old snug-fitting t-shirt and asked my boyfriend to wrap me in it, I didn’t hear him refuse. After a couple of hours and feeling a little uncomfortable especially when I was pretty much covered in it and couldn’t move I was done.

I stuffed mine with loads of carrier bags, this took me about half hour, which worked rather well. I used a coat hanger to keep the shoulder shape and I had a tube from my fabric purchase to use as a pole. Also I managed to advertise on free cycle and a lovely person donated their Christmas tree stand for the base.

Equipment used:

1 old t-shirt
3 rolls of duct tape
Carrier bags - Loads
Coat hanger
Christmas tree base
1 Assistant

Time: 2 Hours

These are the steps taken to make the body form

Stage 1 – Prepare Yourself
  • Wear an old good fitting t-shirt.

Stage 2 – Applying the Duct Tape
  • Use long strips of duct tape and start applying at the waist snugly.
  • Work downwards checking the strips are applied smoothly and evenly to the lower part of the body.
  • Start working upwards from the waist to below the chest.
  • For the chest apply diagonally strips across the chest area.
  • Attach the cling film to the neck and top of the arms to protect the skin.
  • Add another layer making sure it is on smoothly and all the areas are covered.
  • Once complete cut the middle of the back from the bottom upwards.

Stage 3 – Finishing off the Body Form

  • Tape the coat hanger onto the top of the pole.
  • Add more duct tape to the body form for sticking the back together.
  • Stuff the inside with carrier bags.
  • Tape the bottom, neck and arm holes closed.
  • Put a stand on the end of the pole for the base.

That’s it!
Here are photos of my completed Duct Tape Dummy.

Now all I need to do is start making clothes to put on it.

Have you made a Duct Tape Dummy, I would love to hear your comments and techniques you used to create one?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


I’ve always been interested in clothes and after watching the Gok’s Fashion Fix series 1, with his little handy sewing hints to transform high street wear into something more special looking I was inspired.

I first took some evening classes at a local college in dressmaking back in the Autumn of 2008, to learn the basics of sewing, reading patterns and I had a go at making my first dress, which to this day is still incomplete. I felt the course was a good base for understanding techniques but I felt I class time was short and there was not enough guidance for me, so I became frustrated with little progress I was making. I still wanted to learn more and would love to be able to look at something and turn it into something new, I’ve seen this done many times before and I find it so inspiring.

After researching through the web and finding a fantastic range of resources, I have now built up a library of videos, e-books and patterns to have a go at making myself. I am loaded with ideas busting to become a reality. I have made my own duct tape dress making dummy, kitted out my sewing kit, purchased fabrics and recycling old clothes. Now it’s time to develop my skills and track my progress and this is why I have created Threadware, to remember my journey.

What has inspired you to become interested in sewing? Or are you a confident sewer already and have some opinions on the things I am making and would like to comment on your thoughts? I would love to hear from all levels of the art of sewing. I believe everyone is always learning and can grow no matter what level you are at. I shall look forward to hearing from my readers.