Posts Tagged ‘Sewing’

Welcome Back

This is a post of two halves, first I’d like to share a picture of my first attempt with cable knitting, and then on to other news.

Rope cable

Rope Cable, my first attempt!

Earlier in the year I posted about New Years resolutions. One of the things I wanted to try this year was cable knitting. I checked out the instructions in my faithful Dummies Guide to Knitting and found the instructions for a Standard Rope cable on page 163. I repeated the cable and added a few rows of rib at the end, just in case I want to turn this in to some kind of bracelet/wrist warmer kind of hybrid 😉

Now on to the other stuff. Has anyone else been following the BBC series ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’? I’ve been hooked from the first episode but would have liked a longer series like with the baking version, it all seems a bit quick at only 4 episodes.

My favorite sewer on there is Lauren, but I love them all for different reasons. Although I don’t share her skills I could have been a ‘Lauren’ if I’d listened when my dear mother tried to teach me to sew. My Mum was ace at sewing, (and knitting and cooking) she made all my clothes till I was a stroppy teenager and rebelled. Mum tried to teach me but I got board and went off to draw or get muddy in the garden instead. If I’d listened to my Mum, I could have been like Lauren.

Thanks to my Mum always making clothes and my Dad’s excellent woodworking skills I have tended to be one of those people who thinks couldn’t we just make that, rather than buy it already made, its also spoilt me for expecting things custom built, which once my parents passed away and their skills with them of course was no longer possible.

I bought an excellent book Sew What skirts, which is full of skirt designs that I love and a nifty way of drafting your own patterns to fit you. This was very tempting as I’ve no idea how to read a proper pattern. I was very lucky a couple of years ago to receive a sewing machine for my birthday and although I’ve made some nice bags in an assortment of sizes, the one thing I’ve always wanted to make was a skirt. I’m only 5 foot 3 and a lot of skirts are way too long on me, I keep seeing styles I like but they are all in linen, what is it with linen? How about a nice cotton? After another trawl through online version of stores only to find options in linen or lary patterns I decided to take the plunge and try making my own.

Simplicity had an offer on their patterns and I ended up buying 4 so I hope at least one I can make seance of. This started out worse than clothes shopping, once again I felt like a freek! My hips are larger than my waist but by the pattern sizing charts they were a smaller size than my waist? I was worried that not only couldn’t I read a pattern if I had to alter it loads before I start it was even worse. I’m still clueless about how to lay out a pattern, how to cut fabric etc never mind getting to altering the pattern as well!

The reason I battled on trying to get a commercial pattern rather than trying to make my own is because I didn’t know what to search for to create a blank pattern onto. I need that tissue stuff, although preferably that nicer fibery kind that Tilly used. Anyone know what it is and where I can get it?

Wish me luck for this project, I fear I’m going to need it.

Billie 🙂

PS. Still no arty stuff at the mo, between low light and RSI its not been happening of late. I’m still into it, and will get back to it asap.


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Welcome Back

In today’s post I would like to share a picture of the Rice Heat therapy bag I made a couple of weeks ago.



As regular readers will know, I struggle with joint pain and find wheat bags really soothing. It’s almost impossible however to find them un-scented! The one I have is getting on a bit now and I was getting really worried what I would do if it wore out.

I found a great tutorial for how to make a rice heat therapy bag and modified it both inside and out and created this handwarmer. It’s great, for one minute in the microwave it stays hot for about 20 minutes. I’m working on designs and trialing different fillings. If you are Celiac then the option of filling your bag with rice is a safe option as the store-bought bags are often wheat filled.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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In today’s post I will be reviewing the following

Simplicity's Guide to Sewing DVD


Simplicity’s Guide to Successful Sewing DVD


Around £10-£12 (At time of writting 2010)

As a newbie to sewing I am looking for information to explain the new terms I come across and how to master the basic techniques. When I have seen this advertised it’s pitched at beginners or people looking to review techniques, so it sounded ideal, especially as I am a visual learner and struggles with long descriptions in books.


The DVD has eight chapters

  • Lay and cut out patterns with confidence
  • Successful seaming tips
  • Clipping, notching and grading explained
  • Understand darts and how to sew them perfectly
  • Enjoy sewing with stretch fabrics
  • Get confident with Zips
  • Trimmings


There are lots of great tips on here that really help when you are just getting started. If you are struggling to follow explanations in books then this DVD could really help. I’d buy this just for the section on zips


The biggest problem with this DVD is the production quality! Fine for You Tube, but disappointing for a commercial DVD from a main manufacturer like Simplicity!

  • Audio: On several occasions the presenters voice is drowned out by; emergency vehicle sirens, torrential rain and by music at the end.
  • Lighting; Camera gets between the set lighting and the presenter, often leaving her in shadow
  • Filming; Many key techniques from demonstrations happen off camera (see the You Tube comment!) You see the back of the person’s hand rather than what’s being sewn or the camera stays on the presenters face while she points to things on the project, so its out of sight.
  • Set; This is filmed in someones house rather than a studio and as a result there are a lot of distracting items in the background. A busy wall hanging and a Digital photo frame whose picture keeps changing which takes the eye.

Value for Money

At under £15, its worth it, there are some great tips on here and if you have prior knowledge of the subject or are using it for visual reference of individual elements then its worth having in your library. Especially if you have  that you have more detailed explanations elsewhere, perhaps in a book for example.

Summing Up

This seems like a good idea, let down by the production team. It feels rushed and sorry to say the end result doesn’t really hang together too well. I have watched it trough several times now and still have questions about what was covered. For a total novice with no prior experience its left me bewildered and confused on several things, especially the things that happened off-screen!

It would be ok as a refresher for someone who has sewn before but as a newbie the continual use of the phrase ‘Of course you will have done ‘X’ before you did this step’ was confusing and became annoying. Much like recipe books that say make a sauce without any information on how to make said sauce!

If you are looking for something that introduces you to the tools you need for sewing, how to get started with a sewing machine for the first time, in-depth techniques and something to get you started from the very beginning…then my recommendation would be Debbie Shaw’s DVD Sew What? Which I reviewed last month. It’s much more in-depth and approachable.

I’m still looking for tutorials for getting started and just hope Debbie Shaw extends her DVD series, she does understand the confusion and at times trepidation that new sewers have and her explanations are much clearer.


Simplicity I bought my DVD direct from Simplicity, the postage was sensible and they delivered fast! This is the UK site but there are links to Simplicity sites around the world from the home page 🙂

I HATE to give negative reviews!!! I really do, this DVD has merits, it just wasn’t for me. I hope I’ve made helpful points that the manufacturers could solve on later projects and not just winged! Do you have this DVD? What do you think of it? Do leave a comment and let me know how you got on.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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For those of you who follow my witterings on Twitter, you may have heard me mention that I bought a sewing pattern for making owls. I collect owls, and when I saw the pattern for them on Etsy, I couldn’t resist. I used some of the lovely fabric my friend Crafty Nanna gave me earlier in the year and made this.

My first Little Owl

My first Little Owl

Isn't he adorable

Spent a crafty afternoon with my neighbour’s grandaughter and helped her make the following owl.

Little Owl Keyring

Little Owl as a Keyring

Used Tim Holtz keyring findings, sewn to the little owls head to change him into a key ring. He’s dead cute and this was made from the Large owl pattern. I’m going to enlarge the pattern further and make a much bigger owl, then fill him with lentals so he can sit on my book and hold the page open for me. I struggle to hold books open for long coz of the RSI, so he will be a really useful helper.

To make your own adorable owls, check out The Little Owlery on Etsy, where you can purchase the pattern.

Best wishes and thanks for reading

Billie 🙂

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Welcome Back 

I have a crafting confession today: 

Sew What! Skirts

Sew What! Skirts

Here is the latest book to join my library. When I got my sewing machine, I had intended to make bags, and indeed I have made several now. But I am quite short and struggle to find skirts that fit me. Either they are far too long or just horrid material. 

This book is in the same series as  Sew What Bags! NO patterns, but lots to read and learn. Perfect for a newbie, I’ll review it at a later date when I’ve had time to read it and digest what it says. 

Got a lot on all fronts at the moment. Hope I can clear some space to get creating very soon. 

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon 

Billie 🙂

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