The Great Essex Sewing Bee

I have been avidly watching The Great British Sewing Bee, even though I don’t make clothes.  The skills on show are awesome! I am still a little gutted that Chinelo didn’t win.  I can’t do a tenth of what is done on the show, but it does inspire me to sit at my machine.  My Monday days off can be proper sewing time if I can get organised, so last Monday I spent most of the day sewing (in between getting bitten by the cat and writing blog posts that is), finishing things I started ages ago, testing new ideas and bodging some stuff.

  1. I started this before Christmas! Not too thrilling but this peg bag from Emma Hardy’s Sewing in no Time matches the carrier bag holder I made my mum.

    Hattie wonders if she can get in it.

    Hattie wonders if she can get in it.

  2. Napkins! I sort of don’t know why I wanted to make these, because it’s not like I am sophisticated enough to use a napkin at every meal, but they do look nice, and I wanted to learn mitred corners.  The tutorial came from here. The fabric came from Fabric Rehab. I think they’d make good presents, maybe for a wedding or house warming?

    There's one good mitred corner at least...

    There’s one good mitred corner at least…

  3. I also bodged a case with elastic and velcro to hold an ice bag on a knee.  I wonder why I was so interested in that? Work is getting busy again so the ice pack is going to be my best friend again! It’s not really pretty but I’m not exactly intending to flaunt it.


    There was also something else that I worked on using a mixture of tutorials and making it up as I went along, so watch this space for my homemade Kindle holder!

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Acorns and stitches – Textiles week 6

I think I enjoyed my homework from Textiles class a bit too much… I had to make myself an acorn stamp to add the acorns to my falling oak leaf cushion from weeks 4 and 5.  The stamp was super simple to make – I just drew the acorn, used a scalpel to prick through onto some sticky backed foam and then joined the dots to cut it out.  The foam was pretty thin so I did three and stuck them one on top of the other onto a wooden block.  Then using my special “don’t mix the paint properly” technique I used a brush to add the paint to the foam and stamped away!2014-03-31 14.34.45

Added acorns

I think I got a little carried away at this point…

DSCN1333 DSCN1335

There’s not much left to do on it now, I might add some foil to a few of the acorns, and I’m thinking about embroidering some leaf veins on a few of the leaves.  Handily, week 6 was all about learning some embroidery stitches – I think you can tell I’ve never done it before:

First embroidering stitches


I’ll have to get a bit better though because I’m planning that my next project will involve some embroidery… You can see what crazy ideas I’m having at my Pinterest board!


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Home Comforts

Because I am a massive party animal, I spent Friday night at home at the sewing machine finishing off some projects that had been hanging over me a bit.  Over a year ago I bought some amazing Voyage fabric to be made into curtains for my landing, with some spare to make a cushion cover for the bench in my hall.  I need to sit down when I’m putting my shoes on like an old lady, OK?  Well the curtains finally got made (not by me) about a month ago so I did the seat cover. Big long zip! I even did it properly and tacked it in first.

Oak leaves and acorns again!

Oak leaves and acorns again!

We also needed some cushions for the futon which sits up the ladder on our mezzanine.  I already told you my house was weird!  Mr Han picked out the fabric and I decided to pipe the edges – I wasn’t able to do this on the bench seat because I didn’t have enough fabric so I had piping cord left over. It was a bit tricky to get round the corners, but I’m quite pleased with the results.  I used this tutorial to help me.

Cushions on the futon Finished productI think there might be some more cushions done in the future, we have a few sewing projects coming up for a very special place…


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Printed Project – Textiles weeks 4 and 5

I think I mentioned last time that I needed to come up with a project for the mid point of the textiles class.  I ummed and aahed about what to print on my cushion cover, mainly thinking that if I went for oak leaves and acorns it would be a bit obvious.  As many of you know oak trees are a real thing in our household – we even party chose your our wedding venue because there was a 600 year old oak tree in the grounds.

But, due to a lack of other sensible ideas, I did go for the falling oak leaf design.  I spent all of last week cutting a monster stencil, and only got one layer printed right at the end.  I decided that I was going for autumnal tones so I kind of didn’t mix my inks properly to get a variable colour. I was pretty pleased with it.


This week, I reused the now dry monster stencil and off set it so that the leaves were in different place.  I also used the left over ink from last week and added some brown and pink, again not mixing properly.  I reckon adding to the previous ink makes sure it tones well, a good trick if you aren’t good at colour matching!

Then I cut a couple more single leaves so I could add them on in random places.  Everyone was very keen on me leaving it at one point because it looked like the Green Man! That wasn’t the look I was after so I kept printing.

Just a bit more work to do now, I am planning on adding some acorns so I need to make an acorn stamp….



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Screen printing – textiles week 3

I feel I am somewhat lacking in inspiration at the moment.  It probably comes from doing two six day weeks on the trot at work, I’m not cut out for it.  On arriving in the textiles studio last week we were told we needed to come up with a quick stencil design to practice screen printing with.  My first attempt went in the bin, the tutors suggested a random pattern design, but I prefer representational designs…. In the end I just ripped a few bits of paper to represent the sea (and I even got that idea from tutor Aeron) and shoved in a little seagull with my craft knife at the top.  This is then taped to the screen, turned over, the fabric goes underneath and you add ink to the top and squeegee it down over the stencil.

My stencil

My stencil

I was pretty pleased with how it turned out actually.

I have a great view don't I?

I have a great view don’t I?

Once these were printed and drying we experimented with adding foil and flocking to our projects.  You make a stencil, brush over some special glue and put a piece of foil face up or a piece of flocking face down onto it.  Then it goes into the scary heat press. Three of us watched it nervously… Once cool, peel off the backing and voila! Again I couldn’t just go for random shapes:

Foil and flocking

Foil and flocking

We only got the pink foil to practice with, but I love the effect – I need to find a way to add it into my mid-point project.  The glue smudged on the flocking, so my bat is a bit muddy looking.  I don’t really like it much. Quickly, before we had to tidy up, I decided to add a sun to my sea scene. I LOVE how it turned out.

The sun is pink...

The sun is pink…

Now I just have to think of a design to do for my mid point project which we are starting next week.  I know I want to use screen printing, and foil, but I don’t know what to do – there are too many ideas swirling around my head.  Today is my first day off for a while, so I need to get deciding, and maybe even start cutting out my stencil.




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March Challenge

I did my #SewCrazyChallenge early this month. It was to make a bag, and I picked the Cross Body Tote.  I don’t really need a new bag, I have an expensive handbag so I feel I should pretty much use only that – not to work though, obviously, then it’s time for the scruffy backpack with lots of pockets.  I can see myself using this to go to the beach, or nip to the shops.  This is actually made using offcuts from a special project which is going to be a gift, so I won’t show that just yet….

I found the plan quite easy to follow, but I was a little concerned that the strap wasn’t going to be long enough.  I had to join two pieces together for the inner strap, but I didn’t want an ugly line on the outer strap so I was 2.5cm short.  I was on such a mission to make this that as usual I didn’t take pictures on the way.  I was on a deadline before I had to get to work for the afternoon!  I lined the bag with fusible fleece, which I thought might make it look puffy but is actually good.


The trickiest bit was pinning it all together at the ends and making sure the straps weren’t twisted and all the layers lined up for the final stitching. Or the ruffle – I couldn’t seem to set my machine stitches long enough to easily achieve this when I pulled them to create the ruffle – plus I think I would have preferred a more pronounced ruffle but I didn’t cut my fabric long enough for that. But it turned out generally well….



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Starting again

If you know me, you know I am stubborn. Super stubborn.  I really do take pride in it.  So it is something of a radical departure for me to say this: I don’t like my current knitting project, and I’m going to unravel it.  I had been thinking grumpily that I need to set targets of numbers of rows to do per day to make myself do it when Mr Han asked me if I was a sewer and not a knitter any more.  That made me a bit sad because knitting is my first textile love! I replied that I just wasn’t enjoying my current project.  In his typically practical way he said “don’t make it then, make something else”.  The more I thought about it, the more I agreed.  Why waste fancy yarn and hours and hours to make something that will be (already is) full of mistakes and I will hate doing?

It’s going to be frogged (I would like to know why knitters call unravelling something is called frogging!) so I took to Ravelry to look for a new pattern and I found this:


The pattern is by Emily Wessel at Tincan Knits. I am excited about making this and it looks a lot easier than the lace scarf. I am too pushed for knitting time – I need TV knitting! It does help to visualise things when they are in an almost exact same colour as the yarn I have too… Wish me luck!


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