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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of the drawstring bag I made.

Draw string bag

Draw string bag

Here is the bag open

Draw string bag; open

Draw string bag; open

My sewing machine lives in the sideboard, but the foot pedal is always a tangled mess and the plastic bag it came in is really too small for it. So I decided to make it something a bit nicer to live in and help keep the cable under control.

The fabric was left over curtain material from years ago, the cord made from the same fabric. I followed the instructions in the sew what bags book for how to make the casing for the cord and it was quite quick to make. When I get more fabric I’m thinking of making more bags like these but smaller for gadget chargers! The chargers currently live in a plastic box but also end up a tangled mess and takes ages to hunt out the one I want and then ages to untangle it. I’m thinking some kind of tag on the charger bags so I know what they are for ;)

This bag is the same idea as the classic PE bag for school so if you have little uns why not try making one, if not for school then for a place for odds n ends :) How about you, have you ever made one of these? Will you have a go making one this month? Its also a simple project that older children could make for themselves with supervision, so a good one to get the kids sewing.

How about making these in seasonal fabric for an eco friendly version of gift wrapping?

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Sew What! Skirts

Sew What! Skirts

Sew What! Skirts

  • Title: Sew What! Skirts
  • Author: Francesca Denhartog & Corole Ann Camp
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-58017-625-5

My Reason for Buying

I bought this book because being short skirts from shops are often far too long on me. When I first got my machine I wanted to create styles that I liked from MY choice of fabric as when I went shopping it was either I liked a style or a fabric but rarely found just what I was after and had such trouble getting things to fit that I though making my own might solve these problems. I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

  • Chapter 1; How to use this book
  • Chapter 2; Basic skills
  • Chapter 3; Which Waistline
  • Chapter 4; The Classic A Line
  • Chapter 5; Wrap It!
  • Chapter 6; Circles and squares
  • Chapter 7; Play It Straight with Flair
  • Chapter 8; Layer it
  • Chapter 9; How Many Tiers

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Suitable for a total newbie
  • Many options for mixing up the various elements for more options on a set of classic styles
  • Classic timeless styles for all occassions
  • Shows you round basic sewing skills, so if this is your first and only sewing book you could still create the designs in there
  • From very simple to more complex designs so as your skills grow more designs are achievable
  • Wire bound so book lies flat on your table as you work from it, but has spine cover so it doesn’t wreck books either side of it on your shelf
  • You need minimal supplies to create the designs in the book
  • Shows you how to create patterns from your own body measurements, so if you are a little un, big un or a long tall sally you will still create a skirt that will fit you.
  • Much simpler to follow than a purchased pattern
  • Encouraging conversational style of writing. Really inspiring a good confidence booster for new sewers.

Cons

  • Just a niggle, the only stumbling block I had with this book was finding large enough paper to draft patterns onto. I have now resolved this and will explain more later in the post.

Value for Money

Excellent! There are 16 styles of skirt in this book, more if you include how many tweaks you could make once you have the idea. The average commercial tissue pattern starts at about £6 so at £12.99 this book is fantastic value for money.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally, this is one of my favorite books.

Summing up

When I bought this book I had recently bought a sewing machine and was keen to make things, anything in fact. I looked at commercial patterns and not only was I totally confused by all the new terms they used but the quality of the tissue used seemed very poor for the price charged. Also just like shop bought clothing, patterns are at fixed sizes, if you are inbetween sizes it means a lot of altering which when you are totally new is very intimidating and put me off.

With this book its such a chatty style you feel very empowered and can’t wait to get sewing. Not constrained by what a commercial designer wants the length or flare of the skirt to be, with this you are the designer, you choose. Like they say in school its a good idea to read at least the first three chapters before you do anything. Its those chapters which explain how you will construct your skirt and lay out options. The skirts in the book build in complexity the later they are in the book but once you have made the first few you get the idea and the more difficult ones suddenly don’t look so hard.

It took me a couple of years to start and actually have a go at making a skirt from this book for one reason only, I struggled to find suitable paper to draw the pattern onto. After joining a sewing forum I discovered the name of such paper and suppliers which I’ll add at the end of the review as being an American book the suppliers listed in the book are all from USA so shipping would be extreme.

Now I’ve found paper to draw on and drafted a pattern on two I’ve had a lot of fun designing styles. I love the flexibility of the ideas shown in the book, if you are a ‘What if?’ kind of person you will love this book, if you are someone who wants to add their own twist to things you will love this book, if you are someone who falls in love with fabric but is boggled by commercial patterns you will love this book.

Sew What Skirts, holds your hand while showing you around fabric, so you know which way up and round you want to lay it to cut out (commercial patterns all expect prior knowledge that we don’t all have!). The book shows you options for different fastenings, you don’t have to do zips if you don’t want to, but they are explained so you have the option.

With this book, some paper and some fabric you design, draft and make your own in a weekend, much quicker if you are more experience sewer. Skirts are easy with this book, so if you can’t find what you like in the high street, have access to some fabric you do like and a sewing machine, grab some BIG paper and get sewing, you’ll be amazed at what you, yes you can achieve. This is a must have book, if you want to try but are too afraid just now.

Links

So now you have read the review you might like to get hold of the book for yourself, its on Amazon and here I’ll also explain where to get the all important paper you need to create your own bespoke patterns.

Paper

Ok the one thing that I struggled with, with this book was finding paper large enough to draw a pattern onto. Not wanting a jig saw of sellotaped pieces, after joining a sewing forum I discovered what you need is called ‘Pattern Paper’ DOH I know it sounds obvious but you need something to start an online search with right?!

Options

Blank newsprint.

This is pretty large but UN printed so no risk of getting you or you fabric covered in ink. Available from house moving suppliers and very in expensive for a huge thick pack about A2 ISH in size. You are likely to need to join sheets of this together but it is widely available.

In the actual pattern paper category you find the following

  • Blank Pattern paper, just what the title suggests. Rolls are available in different widths and on large rolls about 150-200 meters long
  • Dot and Cross Pattern Paper: One side is plain, the other has dots and crosses at approximately 1″ intervals. (I went for this but use the plain side as someone said the printing isn’t always that square and I found that to be the case.)
  • Swedish Tissue Paper; This is the posh stuff. you can draw your pattern onto it but also sew through it so if you want to partially construct your skirt on the paper you are drawing it on to to adjust the fit, this is an option. Its quite expensive and after a mention on The Great British Sewing Bee by Tilly its a swine to get hold of.

Suppliers of the above paper. Auction sites I got mine through Ebay, the advantage is if you are deciding between different paper types you can get 5 – 10 m lengths to try at around £10 longer term if you find one you like, take the hit and buy a roll, its expensive at first around £60 but will last YEARS.

To buy from the UK good places to try are

A little off topic to get into this on this thread, but it was the only thing I struggled with, when trying to make skirts from Sew What skirts book.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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When I joined a sewing forum, a popular topic was; ‘What books are good for beginners?’

The answer does of course will depend on what you would like to create, but for general sewing, things like home-wares, gifts and to get you started with sewing with a machine, here are several excellent books that I use a lot and are ideal for newbies. There are links at the end of the article for the full reviews that I wrote about the titles mentioned, in earlier posts.

Me and my sewing Machine by Kate Haxell.

Me and my Sewing Machine by Kate Haxell

Me and my Sewing Machine by Kate Haxell

Kate’s book is for those who know they want to sew using a sewing machine, but need a good guide to what a machine can help you do and how to do it. This book holds your hand and shows you round the machine, it tells you about the different feet and what they each do and is also a good no-nonsense guide to essential techniques, for basic sewing. How to create different seams, and how to finish them create a really professional look for your projects. Zip insertion is also covered well is this book.

Check out the link below for my earlier review. This is also a good book to look at, before you buy your first sewing machine.

Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes

Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes

Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes

This one is perfect for newbies as it expects no prior knowledge. If you want to make a PE bag for the kids its in here, gifts suitable for friends family and little projects perfect for fetes are also included here. There are totes, tissue holders, little purses etc. Nice small achievable confidence building project for the new sewer.

Sew What Skirts by Denhartog & Camp

Sew What Skirts by Denhartog and Camp

Sew What Skirts by Denhartog and Camp

Another nice straight forward and inspiring book, also expecting little or no prior knowledge of sewing. As the intro to the book says ‘If you can thread your sewing machine and find the straight and zig zag stitches you can create the projects in this book.

Sew What Skirts shows you how to take your own body measurements, to create a range of different skirts. Classic styles to get you going but when you have more experience, you can mix n match ideas from the various styles for different waist bands and fastenings, add pockets and trims to your heart’s content so you can really personalise the designs to your own look.

If the thought of a commercial pattern confuses you and frightens you, (me too by the way!) This book is for you.

I have just made a trial skirt from this books instructions and it came out great. If you have to do a lot of altering on a commercial pattern, why not start with this book instead. Since YOUR measurements are used not that of some fictional ‘standard’ person ;)

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

THE must have sewing book. A wonderfully clear reference book of visual instructions for so many sewing techniques. Not the chatty style of the earlier books but definitely one to have on your bookshelf as it walks you through many techniques.

I did buy a commercial pattern and couldn’t follow what I was meant to be doing. When I looked the technique up in Alison’s book, there were photos of the technique which made it much easier to see what I was meant to be doing. Not overly wordy, but definitely a keeper and excellent for visual learners. If you are trying to fathom the markings on commercial patterns they are covered here as are some basic alterations for patterns too.

Home-made Vintage by Christina Strutt

Home Made Vintage

Home Made Vintage

If you are more into home-wares and would like to make something timeless and elegant try this book. Its kind of Anna Griffin meets Tilda ;) If you walk through John Lewis and the like and think ‘Ooh so nice’, but the prices are beyond your pocket try this book. From cushion covers to table decoration. You could take the ideas found in here in many different directions. For example there is an envelope shoe bag that with some alteration to the size and the addition of padding, would make a great e-reader/tablet cover/cozy.

Lots of things in here for all ages and some would also make great gifts. Take the ideas as a starting point and add your own imagination, with different style fabrics you could change the look and feel to any style you like. The picture in the photo was from a library book with hard cover, when I bought the book it was a paperback and had a different cover but essentially all the same content.

My other favorite sewing book is The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam. I love it but perhaps it doesn’t belong on books for beginners as although it covers many aspects of making bags, the techniques are for those with more experience. For complete newbies go with Sew what bags, if you have passed that stage and want to explore different fastenings, add pockets and zippers then Lisa’s book is a real must have.

Hope you will check out the links below for my full reviews of the books I’ve mentioned. These books have been so helpful in my sewing journey. I was scared of sewing for so long, but with the help and encouragement of these books, and some help from forum buddies, my sewing is improving with every project.

Links

The following links take you to my full reviews of these books and to where you can buy them.

My best advice is to grab some cheap fabric or old sheets that you can practice with before you try to make something in particular. Work out what stitches you like and how techniques work before making a finished project, that way you won’t have so much pressure and when you do make a project, have much better chance of making something you love and will use.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

This month will you join me for a creative challenge? How many of you have bought sewing books, perhaps even a sewing machine but have yet to have a play with it? This challenge could give you the nudge you need to get creative with your sewing. Join me for

Adventures in Sewing Logo

In this months challenge I’ll be sharing, projects, links and reviews that will help you get started or improve your sewing and textile crafting. I’m a newbie too and easily confused so there will be plenty for anyone just starting out.

If you want to find out what books are fab without blinding you with more detail than you can manage you’ll find the answer here in the coming weeks.

Looking for great sewing forums and blogs to share your ideas with, I’ll show you my favorites. How about you, what would you like to create with textiles and sewing?

Up for a sew along? Bigger challenge? Lets sew a skirt! I’ve been putting it off too but after making a test one, I’m ready, how about you?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Anyone else keep seeing lovely sewn projects and wish you could play along? Zips terrify me, I know I can do them really as I made a zip up cushion cover in school but I’m really bewildered by the process. I’d heard about Craftsy online classes from a sewing forum so I tried them out. Here’s my first finnished zip, I’ve left in tacking stuff so I can write notes how I did it. I did iron it but then forgot about it and put it in the cupboard so its a bit… distressed hehe

Centered zips, after doing the Craftsy class.

Centered zips, after doing the Craftsy class.

You do need to join to have access to the classes but this zip class is a freebie and its WONDERFUL.

Links

There are other classes on the site that are paid for, and with those you get downloadable PDFs in some cases, some offer patterns as part of the class price. The tutor answers your questions online and you can post pics of your projects to share with fellow classmates and for feedback. I’ll do a fuller review of Craftsy next month, but if the good weather has got your creative juices flowing, check out craftsy for sewing, sugar craft, knitting & crochet and much more. Just found out they do all kinds of classes including art, papercraft, jewellery making etc. Check the link below for more details.

What would you most like to make if you could create anything?

Best wishes and see you soon

Billie :)

PS. The Craftsy platform works best on Google Chrome or Safari browsers, and you can choose the quality of the play back if your connection isn’t the best. I found IE gave a fuzzy picture and Firefox kept stopping or only showing a bookmark strip about an inch wide of the videos.

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Altered Skirt

Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share some photos of my altered skirt. I had a favorite skirt;

Original skirt

Original skirt

This was my favorite skirt but sadly I’d outgrown the waist. Being a bit of a horder, I’d held on to the skirt, in case I’d get back into it one day, as you do ;) Many years later still doesn’t fit BUT now I have a sewing machine. I decided to try altering it and see if I could get it wearable again.

First I took out the zip and continued the back seam to the top. Next I took out all the darts, folded over the top section to create a casing for elastic instead.

Altered skirt, waistband removed, casing pinned ready to sew

Altered skirt, waistband removed, casing pinned ready to sew

Next I threaded elastic through the casing, this caused much bad language as at each seam the elastic got stuck! If you try this at home, sew down the edges of the seams before you sew down the casing, then the elastic can slip on by ;)

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

Here is the finished skirt. Since it was quite a generous size before and it was just the waist that was the issue, I’m pleased to say it now fits again :) YEY So pleased as this is a nice cotton skirt, I’m not a big fan of viscose that so many skirts on the high street seem to be.

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

How about you, have you got any altering stories you would like to share?

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Welcome Back

After a sewing session I looked down dismayed at the state of the carpet, covered in threads! If you find yourself in the same situation and also have a bad back so fighting with the hoover or bending down to pick them up is impossible, try this quick and simple solution.

Easy clean up after sewing

Easy clean up after sewing

You Will Need

  • Pair of scissors
  • Parcel tape
  • Your feet

Method

  • Before you wrap your feet, go to the area where the thread is! Safety first, do NOT use this concept on stairs!
  • Sit down then, take your parcel tape and wrap it round the widest part of your foot with the sticky side on the outside.
  • Overlap the end of the tape and finish by folding over the end of the tape, to make it easier to remove later.
  • If  there is a lot of thread on the floor, wrap the other foot as well.
  • Now just walk about and the dropped threads will stick to the tape and you don’t need to bend down to get them.

When moving from an area that’s finished to the next, balance on your heels if you can, otherwise fluff from the carpet will fuzz up your tape while you get there ;)

Options/Added Extras

When doing a large area, if your tape fuzzes before you have finished. Swing the tape around your foot, so the fluffy side is now on the top part of your foot and the clean sticky side is underneath :)

Simple eh! Could also be used to pick up beads BUT careful not to do acrobatics in the process and don’t stand on glass or other delicate beads ;) For those, go with foot of tights over the end of a hoover pipe ;)

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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