All things sewn. Often created out of my rather large, inherited collection of vintage Laura Ashley and Liberty prints. Many maybe available to buy if you are interested, just get in touch via my contact page.

Patchwork Cushion

My first attempt at proper patchwork – I am hooked.

I really enjoyed this, it is so much quicker than you might think. It is also great to use up all of Mum’s old Laura Ashley patchworking fabric.

I decided to give it to Mum for her Birthday, the perfect gift for someone stuck in hospital with her foot up. My brother Joe took this photo, I have to admit, I secretly love the whole Country Livingness of it!

 

Birthday Cushion for Amelia

Victorian Dress

A while back we were invited to a wedding, but this was a wedding with a difference,  the invite said: “please come dressed from your favourite era, 2012 B.C. to 2012 A.D.  After my boyfriend bought a top hat and tails I decided that I should go in matching Victorian style. Of course I had no intention of spending any real money (mostly because I had no real money to spend) and so I spent the next 6 weeks designing and creating an outfit. This was the result.

I began with an old puffed-sleeve, floor-length, A-line dress made by my mother long before I was born. Without going into the details I then altered it, hitching it up, adding a lot of lace and perhaps most significantly a bustle!

Some of it was very enjoyable, a lot was very frustrating, but in the end I was pleased with the result and I received many compliments on the day – mission accomplished! Call me big headed but if I’m honest this dress was all about impressing a large audience with what I could create. I could have gone out and hired or bought something far more authentic-looking but the satisfaction of knowing I came up with this entirely from scratch and at zero cost was worth every painful hour I spent sewing and pricking myself with pins and needles.

Even the accessories were things I dug out from the back of my wardrobe (or other peoples). The boots were the ones my mother got married in, the jewellery mostly belonged to my grandmother though she had never worn it and the parasol I bought in Venice about 4 years ago. And thank goodness I had it! The weather on the day was ridiculously hot, not only for the time of year but also for the country. Without it the heavy, long-sleeved cotton dress and lace up to my throat, not to mention the three layers of petticoat and heavy bustle would have been to much to bear. I have to admit, once the ceilidh got into full swing I did have to abandon the Victorian look for something a bit more modern.

Thank you to Inti and a couple of others, whose names escape me, for the wonderful photographs. And thank you to Matt and Mary whose crazy idea it was to get married amongst every decade since 2012 B.C.

Favourite Top – Recreated

Desperately in search of a productive way to fill my spare time this is the project I came up with.  I think its funny how I managed to entertain myself for months and the second I find a job, boredom strikes. I bought the original top something like five years ago and wore it until it literally fell apart. It has been in the fabric box ever since in the hope that I might come up with something to do with it. So I decided to resurrect it, or at least replicate it.

I began by recording all the dimensions of the old top and taking it apart, this was much more difficult than I anticipated, the damn thing was way too well made! (Trust Boden, or at least Boden as it was back in the day). I had intended to keep all of  the seam allowances but I soon realised this was impossible. Once I had all the pieces separated I unpicked the darts and the gathers.

Second job – draw out a pattern. This was relatively painless once I had cobbled together some scraps of paper to get big enough sheets. I tried to make notes of the darts, gathers and the line of the grain as well as adding the required seam allowance in the relevant places. I decided to add enough extra to allow for French seams along both side of the empire band (don’t know what else this is called) and at the shoulders.

The fabric I chose is a light weight cotton, probably made by Laura Ashley or Liberty’s. It was bought by my mother before I was born. I wanted something similar to the original fabric in weight and in a summery pattern. I think it hangs really nicely though it would be even better if I had made the effort to cut it on the bias.

Cutting out the fabric was tricky due to its slippery nature and tendency to skew. I did my best to stick with the grain and to get the two front panels to line up. Despite being very careful to ensure that the pieces were laid out on the fabric prior to cutting in the most economical way I was amazed how much fabric it used. I guess I am quite generous with my seam allowances due to a better-safe-than-sorry attitude.

After carefully ironing all the pieces I began by pinning my darts and tacking my gathers. I then put the back together, first sewing all the darts, then joining the top to the empire band with a French seem and the bottom by the same method. I am unsure if managed to get the empire band the right way up as it seemed dramatically narrower than the top and bottom pieces but I did it the other way up in the font and it didn’t seem much better. I think the problem must have been in the pattern or the cutting.

 I cut strips of fabric and attached the to the raw edges of the neck as bias binding. Now that I had an idea of the shape and width I used the back to line up the two front panels and pinned them together. I then treated the two panels pinned together as the top piece of the back and joined them and the bottom to the empire band as before. As previously mentioned the band around the middle was a bit narrow and so next, to avoid loosing any of my seam allowance at the sides I cut four strips of fabric and attached them to each side of both the front and back to aid in sewing the side seams. In retrospect this actually made the placement of the zip much easier.

Sewing in the zip was surprisingly easy though I had to add a line of running stitch by hand at the end as it gaped slightly. Without a zipper foot on the machine I find it very difficult to get the stitching close enough the actual zip. I then sewed up the other side.

As with the raw edges of the neck I cut strips of binding for the back of the neck and arm holes. I attached these before joining the shoulders with French seams. Finally I secured all of the binding and sewed up the hem by hand with hemstitch and added the label in the back.

As you can probably gather I am rather pleased with the result. It was very satisfying to create something which I can wear out in public without (I hope you agree) it obviously looking handmade. The whole project I think took me about fourteen hours to complete but other than that it is an item of clothing that was completely free for me to acquire (I even had the zip lying around). Of course I  would be happy to try and recreate one for you too though as you can see my methods are a bit haphazard and perhaps unreliable. Below is a gallery of all the images I took to document the process.

P.s. I hope this post looks reasonable on your PC. I spent ages fiddling around with the layout and got pretty angry with the whole thing. If anyone has any bright ideas about text wrapping in WordPress then get in touch!

Baby Dungarees

Whipped these up for my niece, or at least under the pretence that she might get some use out of them. They are all part of the great experiment – trying to establish whether there is really money to be made from such endeavours. Despite various hiccups along the way I am really rather pleased with the way they turned out, I only hope the fit! The fabric is vintage Laura Ashley (from my mothers stash), beautifully soft, slightly brushed cotton and machine washable. If anyone would like something similar for someone of a similar size then please get in touch. I originally thought I might sell them wholesale but I think it will be more profitable to sell them direct and anyway, I don’t want to become too detached from my customers. I like the idea that I can produce unique and customised pieces but this is only any fun if it is relevant to the person who is going to end up wearing the garments or using the objects. There isn’t quite the same magic in mass-produced, unique, customised products. (Out of interest do you call these dungarees, romper suit, play suit or something else?)

Bird clutch

I have been practising my appliqué and created this small bag for a friend’s birthday. I am very pleased with the birds though I think I should probably invest in a thimble – my fingers are in shreds! Hopefully you will be seeing a lot more of this style of work.

Smock dress

This little dress was created as an experiment. I have been asked to produce something similar to this as well as dungarees for small people in rather large quantities to be sold on a travelling stall that passes through Hereford occasionally. The question is: can such things be produced at a price that is reasonable both for the purchaser and the maker? I have yet to reach a decision though I would appreciate some feedback on what you think. Can you imagine yourself buying such a product (assuming you have someone who will fit it)? And taking into account that it is made by hand from recycled vintage fabrics (in this can an old Laura Ashley print) how much would you be willing to pay? Please do let me know via my confidential contact page and be as honest and realistic as possible, only then will the info I collect be truly useful. Finally, would you like it to be personalised – appliquéd names, creatures, motifs? Are there any particular design features you would like to see added or removed (there are actually deep lined pockets set into this dress though I admit that considering that they are not ornamental and the garment is designed for someone of such tender years they may be surplus to requirements). Should there be a popper, button or popper and fake button fastening on the shoulder straps?

P.s. I have added a little appliqué bird. Wanted to keep it quite simple so have left out any real detail in the design though this could be changed to be more like the Clutch Birds. Further, I realised that I don’t fit this rather tiny dress (newborn-3 months) so I am putting it up for sale at £15. It is machine washable and will be great for any spring or summer babies you know might be coming into existence!

Oh, and I sew as well!

Cushion cover made for my sister on a beautiful old hand-powered singer sewing machine. Very satisfying to make,  just hope it fits!

And with the off-cuts:


Old work revisited

This was a piece put together for my A-Level. It has been lying around for four years now as I have never quite liked it enough to make real use of it. Last week I decided to see if I could make some improvements, I am fairly pleased with the result though I think the whole thing has just got a bit over-crowded.