Monthly Archives: August 2013

The first thing I ever sewed…

So, a few people have asked to see my experiment at using a sewing machine on Thursday, here it is!

The first thing I ever made on the sewing machine

The first thing I ever made on the sewing machine

It is a drawstring bag made using a remnant bit of fabric and a cut up old shirt.  No photos of the back because the stitching is so wonky, but I’m pretty pleased it is actually usable.  The design is from “Sewing in no time” by Emma Hardy.  I found it easy to follow and good for total beginners.  The design is meant to be for a children’s toy bag, maybe I know a few small people who could use them…

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OMG I bought a sewing machine

I know that not being able to use a sewing machine is a major hole in my crafting (and life?) skills.  At school we never did any textiles lessons so I didn’t learn there, and my mum is NOT a fan of sewing.  Funnily enough my husband was taught at school so when he drove me into town to buy my machine he knew much more what the bloke in the shop was talking about than me!  I was surrounded by men who knew stuff about sewing machines.  Weird.  After a long chat with me explaining what I wanted to be able to do one day and about an hour of demonstrations I bust the budget and bought an Alfa Next 30 machine.

Alfa next 30

Alfa next 30

The reason I went for this one and not a super cheap one was that I was sold on just how easy it was to use and thread, plus the fact that the internal workings were metal so I think it will last a really long time.  I appreciated the suggestion from the salesman that if you are new to sewing and have an easy to use machine you are more likely to really get into sewing. Handily it was in the sale!  The only machine I ever tried to use before was my husband’s cheapy argos one that he eventually blew up trying to sew a fox tail for a Fantastic Mr Fox costume!  I couldn’t even work out how to thread the thing and it only had ikea style  one page instructions, so I became convinced I could never use a sewing machine.

Luckily I am stubborn.  I was thinking about taking some classes but then I found Crazy Little Projects… This fantastic website has a learn to sew series http://crazylittleprojects.com/2012/11/learn-to-sew-with-crazy-little-projects.html so I followed the ones for total clueless beginners in conjunction with my machine’s manual.  Which is a whole booklet that actually makes sense.  The Alfa website also has videos which proved useful, but were only in Spanish.  AS level Spanish was a long time ago… Thanks to Crazy Little Projects I learned to sew the straight line in the picture above!

The cat enjoyed having a sewing machine and its box in her life.  It was a rainy day so she has been “helping” me all day by getting in the box, eating my tape measure, sitting on the fabric I was cutting, batting at the threads and sniffing everything.

Cats love boxes

Cats love boxes

Cats also love thread

Cats also love thread

Watch this space for what I made!

Sewing machine supplier: Franklins Colchester

Cat supplier 😉 :  Colchester Cat Rescue

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Boozy gifts, part 1

Hello! Today I have started making an exciting liqueur.  I found the recipe in an old issue of Country Living – Apricot and Lavender liqueur.  The idea is that when it is finished you use a measure of the liqueur and top it up with prosecco to make a kir.  Ok, it might be a bit summery come December but surely a reminder of summer at midwinter is no bad thing?  It is made by melting sugar in dry white wine and then simmering fresh apricots and lavender sprigs.  When this is done vodka is stirred in and then it is all left to infuse for a week.  It smells beautiful and I’ve made double so I can have some too! I wonder who would like some of this?

All the ingredients for Apricot and Lavender liqueur.

All the ingredients for Apricot and Lavender liqueur.

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“Homemaker” magazine review

Homemaker magazine DSCN0756Seeing as everything I am making (gloves anyone?) is taking f o r e v e r, and I’ve just gone back to work after my holidays, I thought I’d treat myself to some magazines to get some inspiration.  Well, I’m not usually a big magazine buyer except for my subscriptions to Geographical (nerd) and Country Living (granny?) so I was pretty amazed at the number of crafting magazines on offer in the big Sainsburys.  I filtered out anything to do with papercraft (doesn’t inspire me) or sewing (no machine) but was still left with a choice…

I tried to flick through a few and settled on “Homemaker” issue 9.  I have to say I was very nearly put off by the name, I mean, I’m a feminist, should I spend £4.99 on a magazine that my husband said “is this from 1950?” about? Plus £4.99 is quite a lot for a magazine… But then it is 2013 and not 1993 so maybe I should accept magazines aren’t £2.50 any more.

When I got down to reading I was pleasantly surprised.  “Homemaker” is certainly modern in layout which is nice, I’d rather read a craft magazine that didn’t look like a copy of “Bella” from the 90s.  There are articles about designers and decorating along with baking as well as projects to make.  I thought this made a nice balance, too many projects can be a bit overwhelming. Not too many adverts either!

The projects were good too, things I would actually want to make; up to date looking and not too difficult!  Also I thought it was sensitive that most of the projects used items that were not too expensive or difficult to get hold of.  It’s always annoying if you decide you want to make something and then can’t get the things or have to spend loads to get started.  It came with a booklet of patterned papers and templates.

All in all, I am very impressed, enjoyed reading it and think I may actually make some of the projects. I was wondering if the name is more of a play on words too as in “someone who makes things at home” rather than the 50s sense of being a “homemaker” who waves her husband off to work everyday and hands him an aperitif on his return… 9/10.

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A finished object?

Felted clutch bag DSCN0754

I have spent quite a bit of craft time recently working on this felted clutch bag.  Wet feltmaking using the resist method can be quite hard work and time consuming!  After all of the laying out of fibres there is all the fulling to be done by rolling the wet piece inside a bamboo blind and rubbing it on bubble wrap.  For a bag the fabric needs to become very firm so that it will safely hold important items.  With stopping and starting due to busyness at work and also a holiday this took a few weeks to finish.

Once it was dry (and that takes quite a while, lucky it was sunny!) I took a trip to local craft shop to pick up some things for embellishments and fastenings.  It is fastened with magnetic clasps.  I tried out some embroidery using metallic threads on a scrap piece of felt and then felt confident enough to add a starburst to the front of the bag.

I also have some chain to add to act as a strap when the person using it is dancing maybe!  I am not 100% sure that the bag is finished though.  I wonder if it looks too ordered?  And if a second, smaller, starburst might add to it?  But then again maybe less is more?  What do you think?

 

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