Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sew many presents!

A week ago it was my 28th birthday. It feels like much longer now because I have been ill and then very busy catching up at work.

My sister bought me some gorgeous ditsy floral fabric from CallyCo in Cambridge. The rest are big favourites from the Cath Kidston sewing collection and a black sewing machine necklace from my friend in Aberdeen. I have earmarked the blue fabric for a dress. I just need to find the right beginners pattern, any suggestions?

Here are my lovely sewing themed presents, there were even more so this is a big thank you to my friends and family who were so thoughtful. It is funny, you would think I go on about sewing all the time...

Happy sewing, Emma x

Monday, 10 October 2011


Have you used Pinterest yet? If not you should! This online pinboard enables you to bookmark your favourite things in a visual way. My pin board includes tutorials, fashion, images, celebrities and products I love!

The best feature is being able to browse by area e.g. Fashion, Books, Art, Geekery to find some really interesting and fun links to webpages you never would have come across.

My pinboard can be found here. I will be updating it with more of my favourites soon.

Like Ravelry you have to be invited to take part and register an account, but it is absolutely worth the wait. Feel free to post a link to your pinboard below, enjoy!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Trims and things project: Simplicity 2599

Yes that's right, it's a new sewing project that isn't green! I'm loving this mustard yellow for Autumn. I have decided to make the bottom right version with a cute bow embellishment. I want to wear this top with my favourite navy Zara trousers to work.

The great thing about this pattern is that the front section is printed in three cup sizes for a good fit. This also means that I won't be adjusting the bust area. I think this is a good thing judging by my Anna tunic saga!

The fabric was very good value, a plain poly cotton bought from a new haberdashers in Plymouth at £3.50 per metre. The fabric is a little rough at the moment but will soften after a couple of machine washes.

Are they any patterns you would recommend for beginners?

Emma x

Friday, 7 October 2011

Trims and things ♥s Mollie Makes

I finally succumbed to the nasty bug going around at work. Despite feeling really rubbish and being unable to sew I have been catching up on my favourite blogs and sewing magazines.

Mollie Makes Issue 6 has some fantastic Autumn projects, including how to make some good enough to eat (almost) apple and pear pin cushions! The ethos of Mollie Makes is making, thrifting, collecting and crafting, all of which inspire me. I realised that my coffee table alone has something representing each of these. My home made Amy Butler tissue box cover, my retro inspired bowl, my turquoise trim phone by Wild and Wolf and a copy of The Knitting Pocket Bible I borrowed from the library.

The magazine also came with a free Coin Purse Kit. I'm really excited to make some coin purses for friend's Christmas presents now I have the pattern and equipment list.

I decided it would be a good idea to start a notebook of supplies I need for future sewing projects so that I can take it with me on shopping trips. So often I end up buying the wrong size or thickness haberdashery because I didn't write it down! Maybe, the key to success in sewing is better organisation. I will keep you posted on my progress...

Thanks for reading,
Emma x

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Trims and things project: Multi Fabric Skirt

I have a brand new project to share with you! I must first confess that the Amy Butler Anna tunic was an epic fail :( I realised after two second opinions and attempting to make some desperate alterations to the pattern, that I had been way too ambitious in making the tunic my first dressmaking project.

And then one day the answer came in the form of Kay Whitt's book Sew Serendipity, which contains some gorgeous retro inspired patterns and great illustrations and step-by-step instructions. So far I have cut out the pattern, put together the skirt facings and I am about to attach the ruffled hems and Ric-Rac to the front and back panels.

You'll see I've used fabric leftover from other projects like the tunic and my knitting needle roll to piece together the skirt. I had no idea I was mentally coordinating my fabrics! One of these days I will attempt a project that isn't in the green spectrum... (honest).

I'm really excited to be wearing a me-made item soon!

Emma x

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A beautiful leaf garland

I am an avid reader of Elsie's A Beautiful Mess blog. One of her recent Autumnal projects Fall Leaves Garland really inspired me to get back to some hand stitching. Here's my version at the window in my favourite colours, I had the felt and mustard coloured wool in my stash waiting to be used! I'm really pleased with the finished look.

I finished the project this Friday evening and this weekend has been the hottest October on record in England!!! I'm making the most of it by getting my Vitamin D while I can!

What new projects are you working on this Autumn?

Emma x

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Pull up a chair

It has been a while. Finally I am settled in my new home. I thought you would like to see my new sewing area. As the flat is in a grade II listed building my grandparents inherited furniture looks fantastic against the stone walls, even with a modern machine and accessories. Feel so lucky.

I have also been working on a steamer chair refashion. I used Amy Butler fabric to cover the cushion and stained the chair to improve the surface of the wood. Before and after photos below.

Emma x

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Moving on...

I am mainly surrounded by boxes at the moment. My sewing station is one of two clear areas to spend time in (the other is the bed). I decided to start work on one small home sewing project which will look great in my new living room. It's the Amy Butler tissue box cover. I was given a sew-it kit for my birthday and this included gorgeous fabric, cotton, template and pattern to make it. I started cutting out last weekend and intend to finish this coming weekend.

I move on Easter Saturday and I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine of sewing at weekends. It has been so cloudy here today, bring the sun back!

I also wanted to share with you a photo of my favourite sewing shop in Cambridge - Cally Co. This was taken while I was on holiday a few weeks ago. Doesn't time fly! Whilst I was away I bought a sewing kit to make this gorgeous guy below, Cyril Squirrel. I love his little jumper. I think you call it geek chic.

Anyone shopping for fabric right now should check out Seamstar they are doing a limited time 15% off printed and plain fabrics (excluding sale fabrics).

I will be back with photos of my tissue box cover and new, improved sewing station soon.

Bye for now,
Emma x

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Trims and things: New projects for Spring

More crazy times have led to an absence of sewing so I've decided to share with you the potential projects I really want to get done this Spring.

You will notice many are home projects. I have some very exciting news to share with you - I am moving to a new flat! I want to decorate with lots of lovely home-sewn creations. Here is a list of the sewing books I can recommend to you. I've selected my favourite patterns from each book for you to check out.

1. Amy Butler's In Stitches

A pretty sash...

A stylish apron

Funky sofa cushions

Fab floor cushions

In Stitches was a gift and is great value as there are 25 sewing projects to choose from.

2. Amy Butler's Sewing Kit

Tissue box cover

Another great gift, the kit contains fabric and coordinating thread to make a tissue box cover in my favourite colours, plus several pattern cards (some are duplicated in Amy's In Stitches book).

3. Sew by Cath Kidston

Egg cosy

I am loving these cute egg cosies which will look great in the new kitchen.

4. Fast Fabric Gifts by Sally Southern

Fabric covered photo frames

I can see these dotted around the flat displaying photos of my friends and family. Also, they would make great presents.

Sewing basket

This old-fashioned sewing basket and strawberry themed sewing accessories are gorgeous. Who wouldn't want this basket of goodies sitting in their home.

I am pleased to report the library Frock Exchange event went really well. The event took place this Sunday at Central library. You can view the photos here. Sewing fans should check out The Pin Tin, Funky Poppy and Love bobbins web and Facebook pages, I was totally inspired by their stalls.

I am on holiday for a week from Saturday and unable to take my machine with me. Such a shame but I will be doing some hand sewing and knitting whilst I am away.

Happy Wednesday!

Emma x

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Library Frock Exchange

I already mentioned the clothes swapping event I am organising on March 13. Here are full details for you as promised. I just love the image, after all beautiful books are our unique selling point. If you live in the Plymouth area and want to come along you can buy your ticket at one of our libraries. Full details of all our libraries on the website.

The great thing about clothes swapping events is that you can still get the same exciting rush as when you purchase a new item, whilst saving money and the planet. Quids in!

Don't worry if you can't make it, our event photos will appear on the library Flickr page. I will post the link after the event. There's still so much preparation to do yet :)

We're really excited to have The Pin Tin selling fabrics and haberdashery, plus fashion students from the local college will be customising and altering clothing. I hope we can inspire people to learn to sew and save. My new mantra is make do and mend. I found this lovely poster online, so shopaholics join the campaign and put them up at home!

Emma x

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Trims and things: Weekly sewing wish list

A list of my favourite sewing goodies online this week...

Stunning themed fabric bundles from Backstitch.

Bellini bundle

Metropolitan bundle

Images via Backstitch

I'm also loving the look of two particular beginner patterns at Raystitch. So chic!

Hot Patterns Uptown downtown knit dress

Colette Sencha Blouse

Images via Raystitch.

Seamstar have this beautiful crochet ribbon edging as well as a plethora of gorgeous new fabrics.

Image via Seamstar

And just for fun, these novelty buttons from Clothkits. I can just imagine them decorating a mustard or navy cardie.

Clothkits also have a range of funky bobble trims available in various sizes and colours, only wish I'd known about them this winter. Click through and check out the full range.

Images via Clothkits.

Happy sewing,
Emma x

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Crazy times!

There have been some big things going on in my life this week that have prevented me blogging. I have missed it very much. It's so good to have a creative outlet to balance things out! But my absence was for very good reason. I wasn't able to go to my sewing class as my car boot handle locked itself and I couldn't get the machine out. I was so embarrassed as I had booked my place on the class in advance. I had it fixed and finally, was able to get the trolley out yesterday.

Last weekend our library was tweeted by comedian Phill Jupitus. He wanted to arrange to work with us for a morning to mark Save our libraries day (which took place across the country yesterday). I have been busy arranging his visit and making sure all was in order. Phill read Winnie the Pooh to local children. There is a photo of Phill and I on the library Flickr site. Here is a link to the photos if you are interested.

I also went to the Frock Off at Plymouth Guildhall and swapped a skirt and shirt for these two gorgeous ASOS dresses, and a beret! The Frock Off was in aid of Motor Neurone disease, a charity close to my heart. We all had a great time and took home some fantastic swaps.

I'm organising a library Frock exchange event in March and I'm really looking forward to hosting again. I'll be posting details here soon.

I thought it would be good idea to show you why I love the trolley that carries my sewing machine to classes. When I've looked for custom-made sewing machine trolleys I'm usually disappointed with the designs available and they look enormous! Mine is actually a large rucksack on wheels that I have used as carry on luggage in the past. It's ideal for my petite sewing machine and the pockets are perfect for all my sewing accessories.

The trolley is by Aerolite and cost around £15 when I bought it. My machine is a Brother BM model.

Thanks for reading,
Emma x

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Trims and things project goal: Amy Butler Anna tunic

Meet my long time project goal the gorgeous Amy Butler Anna tunic. I bought this pattern last year because the style suits my body shape and also because I love green (way too much ask all my friends and colleagues). I had to have the exact fabric in the pattern and I bought a coordinating green lining fabric.

To start I cut out the pattern pieces, then zigzag stitched the seams of the external and lining fabrics to prevent fraying. Finally I sewed the lining and external fabric together and pressed. This is where progress ended, partly due to a pattern freak-out on my part, but also because the pattern wasn't pitched at a beginner. I have realised how important it is to make sure you don't over challenge yourself. My skill level has increased since last Autumn but I still feel I need more help to complete the yoke.

I'm taking action and going to The Pin Tin's sewing class tomorrow night. I'm going to report back on progress later in the week.

Fingers crossed!

Emma x

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Trims and things: Weekly sewing wish list

My most wanted sewing items, it's like online shopping without the credit card bill!

Seamstar have this gorgeous new American crafts ribbon (this set: Lovely) and a handy vanishing fine line marker pen to prevent any trace of telltale marks.

Images via seamstar

Raystitch have this floral cotton poplin I've been eyeing for a while for a top or dress pattern. Plus I adore their fish eye buttons for that vintage look and rose trim for sophisticated decoration.

Images via Raystitch

And finally Cath Kidston wowed me with the exceptionally cute Hedgehog needle case and the amazing Caravan sewing basket, I have to have it!

Images via Cath Kidston

Happy Thursday,
Emma x

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Trims and things project goal: Knitting needle roll

I'm so happy that my first knitting needle roll is now complete :). I took lots of photos so you all could see the process.

I combined two patterns (links in my earlier post) to come up with something that fits my needle needs! Before you start remember to measure your longest needle. If you would like a closing flap (I decided against it), add 2 inches extra height on your largest fabric pieces (e.g. my 18" piece + 2 inches for flap).

The fabric pieces I used were the following sizes:
15" wide x 18" high - for interior lining, exterior and heavy duty interfacing (make sure the pattern goes the right way for inner and exterior fabrics)
15" wide x 7.5" high - for main pocket lining (in exterior fabric and interior fabric) and two panels of iron on interfacing
7"wide x 5" high - two in interior lining fabric for scissor, tape and wool needle pocket

I used a metre of ribbon because I really liked the way the ribbon looks layered up around the roll, but that is a personal choice. Beware: you will need to measure the length of ribbon given in the crochet roll pattern. Use the remaining ribbon to sew another tie at equal height in the 3" gap when you finally turn the project inside out to sew up the side. You can always cut your ribbon shorter when you have finished.

I decided to sew the two seams and the second piece of ribbon in the gap on the right by hand, instead of machine sewing around the edge of the whole roll. To be honest I wasn't sure my machine needle would take it with so many layers and the project looked lovely without topstitching around all edges. It really is a personal choice, go with what you want!

A couple of new things I learned from this project were how to use interfacing and how to baste stitch. Interfacing was suprisingly easy to sew through. I had no idea what a baste stitch was, but soon realised that it is a longer running stitch that allows you to hold your work in place before machine sewing. You can use the machine to baste stitch if you have that setting (I didn't). Baste stitch was really useful in holding the layers together, especially as there were so many, before finally sewing it all up and turning inside out.

If you have any questions about making the roll please comment below and I'll post more info.

Happy sewing!
Emma x