Sunday, 25 April 2010

A Very Simple Pin Cushion

I had been feeling more confident with my sewing and decided that now would be a good time to start thanking a few of my friends for their support in making my blog a reality.
One of my friends requested  a pin cushion and this was the first time I had made one, so I had a go at designing one myself, without using any instructions or patterns.

Equipment Required:

  • Scrap Fabric
  • Stuffing
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Hand Needle
  • Sewing Machine using Universal Needle
Time Taken: 1 hour to make both pin cushions.
Techniques:  ladder stitch, straight stitch

Prepare the Fabric

Fold a piece of scrap fabric in half and draw around a square drinks coaster using it as a template for a pattern. Cut out the shape.

Put the patterned (right) sides of the fabric together and use a straight stitch, use the foot as a guide for the seam allowance.

Remember to leave a gap so you are able to turn it right way around and stuff the pin cushion later.

Cut all the corners to stop the fabric from bulking.

Turn the fabric patterned (right) side out and stuff the cushion until it is firm. To check that there is enough stuffing inside the pin cushion push a pin in and see if it pops out the other side, if this happens continue stuffing.

When the cushion is stuffed, use a hand sewing needle and do a ladder stitch to sew up the hole, this will hide the stitching on the patterned (right) side of the fabric. For a great tutorial on sewing a  ladder stitch see this entry by Hollyalittlestranger on YouTube.

While I was viewing her great video I came across her tutorial on making a funky pin cushion and decided to use this one for my friend's gift.

Here are the final photographs of the finished pin cushion.

They were both very simple to make and are great for a beginner project. Have you made one of these pin cushions? I would love to hear your views so please leave a comment below.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Fabric Guild

I had never heard about The Fabric Guild until I was reading the event threads on The Sewing Forum about how it is a members only event, where occasionally throughout the year, members are invited to attend and shop to their heart’s content. It is held in Leicester, UK and there is a fee of £5.00 for a lifetime’s membership and which gives the member rights to take a few guests with them too.

I was eager to find out more information as The Fabric Guild was sounding wonderful with its discount prices and wide selection of craft cotton fabrics so I looked on Google to find some answers. After a quick search I found their very own website and quickly spotted on their home page that this event was taking place for 3 days on 11th, 12th and 14th March 2010, a spark went off in my head and I knew I must be there. I choose the Sunday date as I don't  drive around Leicester very often I thought the earlier I arrived, the better for finding the place and for parking. The location was situated on an industrial estate and all the other factories were closed, this made it great for being able to park outside the building. While getting out the car I noticed some people coming out of the building with bags of fabric and I knew I was in the correct place.
I walked inside the entrance of the factory and saw some posters on the wall, "Fabric Guild" and "Members only", as I read the signs I opened the main door.

I waited at the welcome desk for somebody to assist me and after a few minutes I was being attended to. There was a simple form to fill out  to join The Fabric Guild which requires personal details and a small membership fee to pay.

To the right I saw a stack of shopping baskets and so I took one and ventured out on to the large ground floor of the building. I walked around the room noticing the huge selection of pretty, funky and traditional patterns, which were made out of cotton fabrics. My favourites were the brightly coloured retro designs full of swirly and striking shapes. I was very tempted to buy something from this range. When I turned around I saw another completely different selection of fun patterns covered in bunnies, cats and circus prints, which would be great for decorating a child's room. For the more traditional designs, I noticed classic prints of sunflowers, houses, and little delicate shapes on. They were even selling Christmas designs of snowman, holly and stars. There were endless designs for all tastes, even patterns I would never have dreamed of seeing. I really enjoyed taking in all the sights and was feeling very inspired with everything.

When I stepped closer to read the labels, the measurements confused me and when I asked for assistance from the staff they were very pleasant and helpful. I found out that they use yards and not metres for measuring the fabric. There were few choices for buying the fabric - off the roll and also ready cut fat quarters in sealed packets and loose strips. (I actually thought these were napkins at first glance). This was my first time with shopping in yards and fat quarters and I was surprised how easily I adjusted to it. The prices were quite reasonable too and they had some offers on their items. It was perfect for quilt-makers and sewers alike.

In addition to buying fabric, there were plenty of haberdashery items, books, sewing machines, cutting materials, to name a few. When I started to feel tired from looking at everything there was a resting place with chairs, tables and a drinks machine.

After a short break I decided on the fabric I wanted to buy, there was so much I liked.
Here is some photos of the items I purchased. 

A selection of colourful fabrics.

A small storage unit.

A sewing book.

A rotary cutter guide.

I stayed for a few hours absorbing everything in and then I made my way to pay for my purchases. A swipe of my credit card and I was on my way home with my new fabric to enjoy sewing with. What a great morning out, I will definitely attend this event again, now I eagerly wait for my notification email letting me know when the next one will be held. 

Have you discovered The Fabric Guild yet? Do you have any moments you wish to share? I would love to hear your views, leave a message below.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

eReader Case

My boyfriend had been wanting me to make him a case for his eReader for months and so I decided to give in. I went into our local pound store and found a laptop case made out of neoprene, I used this to make the case.

Materials Required

  • Fabric
  • Rotary Cutter, Cutting Mat & Ruler
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine (Universal Needle)
Time Taken: 1 Hour
Techniques:  Zigzag stitch

Measure The eReader

First, I measured the eReader and made sure I had enough material to make the cover.

I unpicked the seams which meant I was then left with 3 pieces of material.

As the laptop case was slightly too big I cut out a section, then used a zigzag stitch to re-attach it so I could keep the edging that was originally part of the laptop case.

I also used a zigzag stitch to attach the sides and bottom together.

For the closure I used a strip of Velcro.

He was very pleased with the results and is now less worried about his eReader getting damaged in his bag.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Making a Flared Skirt

As you can see from previous blog entries I have been busy making home decor items. These have given me the confidence to tackle clothes-making again.
After learning the basic principles and putting my new sewing knowledge to some good use, I have decided to make a flared skirt from a pattern I have made myself with guidance from How to Make an Easy Skirt from Love to Sew.

Equipment Needed:
  • Lycra Fabric
  • Elastic
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Pressing Cloth
  • Sewing Machine (needle used, ball point)
  • Tape Measure
  • Tailors Chalk or Fabric Markers
  • Pins
  • Rotary Cutter, Cutting Mat & Ruler (Optional)
  • Dress Making form (Optional)
Techniques: Pattern-making, casings, elastic, seams, hemming, zigzag stitch, straight stitch and top-stitching.
Time Taken: 1 Day

Making the Pattern

Love to Sew has brilliant instructions on making the pattern, please visit their website to find out how to make your own flared skirt pattern.

Cutting the Fabric

Fold the fabric in half , place the pattern onto the fold and cut out the shape. As two pieces are required, repeat this step to make the front and back of the skirt. An optional step:  use a rotary cutter and ruler to straighten up the edges as required.

Pin the Seams

Place the right sides of the fabric together and measure  5/8” down each side, use tailors chalk to make marks for the seam-allowance. Place the pins on the outside of the line, this will protect the main fabric of the skirt from pin holes.

Sew the Seams

Use a straight stitch and sew both the seams that have been marked up in the previous step.

Pressing the Seams

Press open and use an iron to flatten the seams - use a pressing cloth to protect the fabric.

Finishing the Seams

Finish off the seams by using a zigzag stitch on the raw edges of the fabric.
Measure and mark a 1/4” at the top of the skirt. Fold and press this over to protect the raw edges of the fabric from fraying. This fold will be used as a casing for the elastic.

Elastic Preparation

Measure your waistline with a flexible tape measure and cut the elastic to this size. Place the elastic on the top of the skirt and make a mark of the thickness of the elastic. Measure the same distance around the rest of the skirt top. Fold the waistline to the line and press with the iron.

Creating the Elastic Casing

Pin around the waistline and stick two pins vertically as a reminder for the elastic to go in – this serves as a useful reminder not to sew here. Once pinned, use the free arm on a sewing machine and sew a straight stitch around the waistline.

Inserting the Elastic

Insert a safety pin into each end of the elastic or use elastic guides and push it all the way through the casing. Try on the skirt to make sure it is tight enough but also easy to get off, before sewing the elastic together. There is no need to worry about gathering the skirt at this stage, that can be done later.

Stitching the Elastic

Overlap the elastic and use a zigzag stitch to attach them together, repeat to strengthen the join. Once the elastic is inserted sew up the hole.

Hemming the Skirt

Try on the skirt with the shoes you want to wear it with. Ask someone to help you put a mark on the bottom of the skirt where you would like the hem to be.  Fold the hem 1/4” and fold again to the desired length. Use a top-stitch and sew all around the bottom of the skirt. Try on the skirt one last time and arrange the gathers as preferred.
Let me know how you get on making this skirt. I would love to read your views or ideas. If you have tips to share on making this skirt easier write below.