Mindful stitchery – hand embroidery

 

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Turn of the sewing machine and settle down to a more sedate pace, the gentle art of hand embroidery is creative mindful meditation. Far more transportable than machine sewing, hand embroidery can be enjoyed while watching a good film, sitting in a waiting room or travelling by train. You only need a few skeins of thread, small embroidery hoop and a good long needle.

While embroidery techniques might seem outdated they are essential to the dressmaker, couture sewing is always hand stitched – these techniques can give your garment a high end finish!

There are two forms of embroidery that delight me, the vintage style spring pastels on cotton and the glorious vibrancy of folk art on wool.

I am planning a hand embroidery afternoon – with tea cake and stitchery, so I thought I would create a few samplers.

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One of the most challenging aspect is to create evenly spaced stitches especially on cotton this sample is only 6inches wide by 8inches long on a 100% cotton.

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This close up shows the weave of this cotton – getting the spacing right is essential especially for stitches that are woven.

As you can see the couching, weaving and cross-stitches need to look uniform so there is a great little trick I can offer you.

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Create a grid using washable marker pen, the guidelines will help you to create even stitches but they can be washed away after the project is done! (You did not see them in the earlier example!) once you have completed a few stitches with the grid, you will get a feel for the distance needed and will be able to stitch evenly without.

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Using wool felt creates a whole different effect, like folk art, this piece was created some time ago by eye!

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And it is easy to use ribbon weaving to create a nice frame for stitches, this time using tapestry wool.

If you fancy an afternoon of Tea, Cake and embroidery I am running a class on Friday 11 March 2016 – details here.

ttfn x

A vested interest -grey to glorious cosy underwear

It is cold, blustery and wintery, being a chilly morsel I am reluctant to turn the heating up too much out of respect not just to my purse but the planet. I am not a fan of jumpers – they seem to make me into a blob with mono boob!

I wear dresses mostly, some of them are cotton so I need a little extra warmth. These little vests might be a little old fashioned, but they are so delightfully warm without bulk and slip easily under a dress. Pretty they aren’t!

Grey lace top

Revamp, top, sewing, lace, insert

I like to wear pretty things especially underwear but these scream out old lady! bear with me, this can be beautiful with a few little tweaks.

Remove old elastic

recycle, upcycle, revamp

Cut off the knicker elastic edging – it is a good time to consider lowering your neckline if you don’t want the vest to be seen. If you aren’t sure try it on under one of your dresses and mark where you want the finished edge to be.

Adding lace panel

adding lace, replacement, upcycling.

There are so many beautiful little lace panels available – this pretty little design was relatively inexpensive – and it is beautiful!

Marking lace edging

use a marker pen to indicate where the lace panel will be.

Mark your positioning with an erasable pen, or tailors chalk. Check to see the lace is balanced and central.

stretch needles

Always use stretch needles when working with knits.

You can get lovely stretch lace from eBay or your local fabric store, I bought this on eBay for about £2.99 per metre, the rickrack  looks like little hearts to me. You will also need stretch needles, these are rounded so that they push between the threads rather than breaking them. Ordinary cotton thread is perfect.

The stretch zigzag allows the item some movement when sewn.

The stretch zigzag allows the item some movement when sewn.

Set your sewing machine stitch to a stretch zig zag  – it looks like a broken zigzag, this allows the stitches to stretch with the elastic. You can see what the stitch looks like on my machine.

Attach the elastic edging around the neckline right side of the vest to the wrong side of the elastic. The decorative edge should be on the outer edge and the flat edge of the elastic should be lined up with the neckline.

with the decorative edge pointing away from the neckline.

with the decorative edge pointing away from the neckline.

Set the zigzag stitch width to cover  the elastic, but leave the ricrac edge free. Stitch between the two marked points, while slightly stretching the elastic lace.

Turn the elasticated edge under and top sttich.

Turn the elasticated edge under and top sttich.

Turn the elastic under and top stitch around the neckline using a 3.5 stitch length once again stopping at the marked points.

cut to the zigzag edge of the lace.

cut to the zigzag edge of the lace.

Lay the decorative lace in place and using a narrow stretch zigzag follow the lower edge of the lace attaching it to the vest.

Trim away the vest to the zigzag edging and then you are done!

with new lace edging

with new lace edging

Your pretty lace detail can peek from your neckline, no-one would guess you are wearing a vest!

Up-cycled Jumper to cardigan


jumper upcyle before

This lovely Angora Jumper was needing a little brightening up.

cutting the front

To make this into a cardigan I cut along the midpoint between the rows of stitching.

crocheting the edges

It is important to finish the edges before it began to fray.

A double crochet edge gives a stronger border for

covered buttons on cardigan

Its very easy to cover buttons, just make a circle of fabric bigger than the button

Use running stitch around the edge and then pull together so that the fabric gathers around the back.

Stitch in place.

faux button and popper closures

I use snap fasteners, to close the cardigan it makes it easy to fasten.

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The stitched corsage is made from more covered buttons

I covered a button using crochet and placed in the middle of a suffolk puff

Upcycled jumper flower buttons

I crocheted a pretty frilled edge round one of the buttons

The rose was a felted button and the leaves were from a wool blanket I felted and dyed.

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I hope my daughter enjoys her new vintage style cardigan.

Summer dress – Up-cycling project – Adding Sleeves and Modesty Panel

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This is a very flattering dress: it accentuates a small waist and hides wide hips nicely beyond the lightly gathered skirt. Most pear shapes or hourglass figures will suit styles like this.

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There are a couple of elements that I am not entirely happy with

The neckline is rather plunging – especially as I am quite busty.

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I am also not a great fan of sleeveless dresses, I prefer to keep my underarms under cover!

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Luckily this dress comes with a long generous wrap, which is enough fabric to make sleeves.

If the dress you want to revamp doesn’t come with a wrap, you can always take fabric from the bottom.

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I created a bit of a cap sleeve pattern – using a sleeve from another pattern as a guide.

As the fabric is chiffon, I traced the outline of the sleeve using a dissolvable marker cutting the fabric in a strip.

Using a pretty narrow zig zag stitch and matching thread, follow round the sleeve following the outline

then trim close to the finished edge.


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Stitch the sleeve seam and then add a gathered edge using narrow elastic

You can just see the elasticated edge here, I use a large zig zag stitch to create a gathered edge.

Pin and stitch the sleeve into the armholes. 

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The modesty template is triangular, I doubled over the fabric,

making the top edge along the fold because of the transparent nature of the chiffon.

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Once again zig zag the side edges, so that the panel is in one piece.

Stitch in place between the cross over bodice.

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All done! Now I can wear it without the need for a teeshirt underneath.

I have enough fabric left to make a matching hair accessory and a rose.

Upcycling Jumper Project – Cosy Cashmere Cushion

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There is nothing more satisfying than creating something new from an old jumper discovered in a charity shop. I was initially attracted to the pretty shade of pink, but it was far too big for me. It was back in the Autumn when the nights were drawing in – when my thoughts turn to cosiness, wooden blankets and log fires that I decided to upcycle this unloved jumper into a cushion to feather my winter nest.

I have not seen smocking for a long time, but the idea for this front panel came when I was flipping through some old sewing books – the smocking method was lengthy and (to my mind) laborious. I thought it would be fun to play around with the technique to make it a little simpler as well as make the most of the texture of the jumper.

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I started by using the front piece of the jumper for the smocking panel. I wanted to create a deep raised pattern so I made 1cm pleats across the panel. Then I marked across at 2cm intervals along the folds using a washable pen.

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The pleating and marks made it very simple to create a honeycomb pattern across the jumper panel. I would alternate the pleat joins so that it ended up with regular diamonds. I liked the pale green Perle cotton – the shade was in harmony with the pink.

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As with all things hand sewn, it was such a relaxing panel to do that I often wonder why I don’t do more embroidery. Watching TV with my fabric on my lap, tea within reach the panel was done in no time at all. Despite the sewing book instructions making it seem laborious, it was quickly and easily achieved and I loved the texture.

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The smocking does reduce the width of the front section of the jumper by around a third so I used the sleeve sections either side to create a square panel. The ribbing at the bottom of the jumper created a nice frame bottom and top, so the front section was completed.

Up-cycled-jumper-cushion

I used the back of the jumper to make the back and stitched it loosely closed. If the cushion needed to be washed it would only take minutes to unpick. I also did not want zips or buttons to interfere with the softness of the cushion.

upcycled-jumper-flowers

I felt the cushion needed a little more decoration so I made a few suffolk puffs (or yo yo’s as our American Cousins Call them) and utilised the ribbing off one of the sleeves. I also embroidered leaves and stems with wool. (Also pre-loved).

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I am rather thrilled with the finished cushion, its so lovely to sit against (or lie next to as my dog prefers). It is quite easy to work with knits, just a case of selecting a straight stitch with a little zig zag in it and a ball point needle.

Vintage Basket Revamp – with Strawberry Drawstrings

I adore charity shops, not only do they suit my budget, but I find they are teeming with things that inspire me.

Take this little lovely basket, I admit now that I have a wicker fetish I simply love them and have many baskets in all shapes and forms. I think it is the tactile nature of them, similar to wood it has a living appeal.

I think this basket harps back to either fifties or forties, the colours seem to be right and someone has taken good care of it so I wanted to re-vamp it in tune with its nature.

I made an inner bag using vintage style Kath Kidstonesque fabric from Fabricland. I love the combination of reds and greens, who says they should never be seen eh?

It makes the basket a little more useful as I can keep my purse in it and not have it on show while I am shopping.

I made the little bow on the side to match my stripy fifties dress I was wearing to Goodwood revival.

This bag has been admired where ever I go, especially the pretty little drawstring strawberries.

I could not resist adding the bobble ribbon round the rim, and the strawberries were fun to do which was a good job because the day I finished it someone’s dog chewed one off! They are hand stitched and it always surprises me how relaxing hand sewing can be. I used some red suiting I had left over and some green felt that I had made from an old blanket. I also filled the strawberries with some rice to give them a little weight. The buttons are from a new range Tilda has brought out they are designed for scrapbooking, but they were perfect for this because they are so tiny!

As with all things the project grew a little, I glue gunned the edge of the liner to the basket to fix it in place otherwise it would constantly sag. I also added lovely velvet ribbon round the handles as I found the handles cut in when the basket was full.

I love it, especially shopping with it it is so pretty.

If you would like to make some strawberries of your own, leave your email address in the comments box and I will send it to you.

Vintage Napkin Recycling – Needle Case

I simply struggle to resist the little napkins and tablecloths that are on the shelves of charity shops for pennies. They are the refugees of an era where families all sat round the dinner table and ate with napkins and linen table cloths. I am so pleased that the crisp white linen table cloths had long gone as my children could never keep their spaghetti on a plate! How they managed to keep the linen in such white pristine condition with no washing machines shows they had skills way beyond my abilities even with my eco bubble samsung!
I love to find new lives for these poor refugees, and this one is a little needle case. You can gauge how small it is by the size of the stitches. I cut round the appliqué leaving a seam allowance and then used a modern vintage styled fabric that was in keeping, fabricland has lots of different varieties at the moment, all thanks to Kath Kidston. I backed it with the extra stiff iron on interfacing you use to make curtain pelmets it gives the needle book a good solid shape. The button was from my stash, and like everything I remember buying it at one of those craft outlets in Dorset, a small sideline for a potter and so lovely.