sewing

Cushion cover tutorial on Bibelot Magazine

Fancy having a go at making a super simple cushion cover? Well head on over to the Bibelot Magazine blog to find my easy sew tutorial - absolutely no zips required! I do warn you, though, that it gets rather addictive - before you know it, your house will be stuffed full of cushions and beautiful fabric ;)

While you're there, do have a good browse around - there are lots of interesting reviews, how to's, interviews and bits and bobs to get you thinking. Bibelot is described as follows:

Bibelot, “The Little Book of Creative Curiosities”, will be a quarterly craft, design and lifestyle magazine celebrating the hand-made, the ethical, and the unique. Bibelot is about more than craft projects; it represents an imaginative and sustainable way of life. Readers will feel stimulated, uplifted and motivated. Bibelot will begin its life as a blog, an online hub bringing artistic, original and innovative people together. It’s a space for sharing ideas, learning and sparking inspiration!

What I've been making lately - bumper catch-up!

Goodness, I've just realised that it's been a month since I last blogged - where has the time gone?!! We've been away to Cornwall for a week (photos coming soon - why oh why do I take so many.....) and I've been busy making things - quite a lot of things actually. I hadn't realised quite how much until I started putting this post together. I've definitely caught the sewing bug - making things yourself is just so satisfying! It's also the perfect way for me to indulge my love of fabric and vintage prints without feeling quite so guilty about stockpiling them ;)

So, what have I been making?

Well, lots of purses, glasses cases and pencil cases. I adapted my cosmetic bag pattern to make all of these. The glasses case and pencil case have some soft wadding inbetween the fabric to protect their contents. I love how light the glasses case is - perfect for carrying around without even noticing :)

There have also been some tote bags. I absolutely love this pattern - it's such a great way to use and display vintage fabric. And it's the perfect size for carrying around Blythes! I've actually used my tote bags quite a bit - in fact, I'm itching to make more! I think I might try adding a contrasting pocket to the front (and maybe the inside) next time.

I also made this little set for my mother-in-law in a gorgeous contemporary Amy Butler fabric for mother's day - it seemed perfect for spring! I absolutely love choosing a complementary fabric for the lining too - these little green eggs felt like a perfect match.

I wanted to use up some of the smaller bits and pieces of fabric I had, and some pretty scraps, so decided to make a batch of lavender bags. I'd taken some away with me when we went on holiday as our travel bags smelt musty from being in the attic and I popped them in our drawers. They gave me so much pleasure, I resolved to make a batch for our drawers when I got home. I love how they look altogether :)

And last, but by no means least, is a little collection I made from an absolutely stunning Echino fabric by Etsuko Furuya. I'm a huge fan of Echino fabric, and completely fell in love with this stag fabric. It took a fair bit of hunting down on the internet to find a supplier - this lot came from

modes4u.com

in Hong Kong. I made the little black and white collection as a birthday present for my husband (the most manly fabric I had!!).

And I just adore the combination of the pink polka dots with the aqua (another Echino fabric) - the cushion covers were the first thing I made. The fabric is a linen and cotton blend and is pretty heavyweight - perfect for cushions and cases :) Although I have to say the black one is now completely covered in grey cat hair - Poppy is particularly fond of it!

So there you go - I'll try not to leave it so long next time!!!

A handmade Christmas

This year it's been a rather handmade Christmas. With me not working at the moment we are rather counting the pennies, so handmade made sense financially. But I have to say it's been an absolute joy to have the time to be able to make presents. And having recently completed my beginner's sewing course, what better opportunity to practice?!

I absolutely loved making these presents - from choosing the fabric to cutting to sewing and stuffing - it's been so much fun. And now the presents have been opened, I can safely share some pictures with you :)

First up is a cosmetic bag I learnt to make on my sewing course - I really loved the pattern and thought it made a lovely and very useful gift. I chose the gorgeous kitsch kitties fabric by Michael Miller for this one, as I knew the recipient had a soft spot for this print. And I must confess I loved it so much I had to make one for myself too - but with a different coloured zip for a bit of variety. I chose an aqua polka dot fabric for the lining, as I thought it complemented the colour scheme well. And I had lots of fun making some custom gift tags for the (vaguely) professional touch!

The cosmetic bag seemed like such a good idea, I made more in different fabrics. I knew my sister loved the Tammis Dogs fabric made by Michael Miller (a Tammis Keefe tribute fabric) and I stayed with the same lining fabric I used in my course, as I knew this partnered well. I also fancied making some lavender bags, as I think these are great to pop in your sock drawer or wardrobe - or just to have hanging around looking pretty. So I made a very simple template and got cutting and stitching!

Then, more of the same, but in some different fabrics that I thought the recipients would like. I was very pleased with this pairing of a black and white floral print and polka dots - and the pop of colour provided by a hot pink zip.

I was also very pleased to find a pack of ribbon I had bought from Paperchase a while ago knowing it would come in useful someday. It was perfect for the hanging loops - and I had a lovely choice of colours.

They are definitely not perfect, but I was pleased with them all the same - and I think the recipients were too, which is what matters. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying some R&R. TTFN, Z xx

My new best friend

I've wanted to learn to sew for ages. About 5 years ago I bought a tiny John Lewis sewing machine. It was red and looked very pretty. But I didn't know how to use it so it stayed in its box. For years. Much time passed and I went on a "make friends with your sewing machine course" which was good, but I never seemed to have the time to practice (photography was always so much easier...) and I didn't know where to start really with following a pattern, etc. So more time passed and my little red machine stayed in its box.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure to attend an intensive sewing course for beginners with Louise Paeman. It took place over two Saturdays and as well as covering how to use your sewing machine, we actually made some things, learning how best to place our patterns on our fabrics, how to cut out, how to follow a pattern, how to sew in a zip, and lots of useful tips and tricks. I absolutely loved it and can highly recommend Louise's courses if you are in the Oxford area.

Just as I was about to get stuck into the first bit of real sewing at the end of our first day, my little red machine decided to die. Louise kindly lent me her machine and my goodness, it was a dream! Chalk and cheese! So to cut a long story short, I decided on a beautiful new Janome sewing machine for my 40th birthday present. I love it! It's my new best friend. And at the moment, I am particularly relishing the speed control - as you can see I have it set to tortoise speed :)

The first thing we made was a reversible tote bag. I chose some beautiful vintage fabrics - the large print is Roundelay by Jonelle (not sure who made the lining fabric).

Tote bag I made
Tote bag I made
Tote bag I made

Our second make was a cosmetic bag. I decided to use a different fabric again for the lining, which made it more complicated, but I love the contrast. We used iron on interfacing to give the bag some support so it would stand up OK. And we gave it a flat bottom - and a zip! Not bad for the second thing I've ever sewn on a machine!

Cosmetic bag I made
Cosmetic bag I made

I found the fabric when I was on holiday in the USA, in a tiny store on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It is a Tammis Keefe Tribute by Michael Miller Fabrics called Tammis Dogs.

You can read more about Tammis Keefe in this great Tribute post on the Making it Fun blog

- I adore her designs. I wish I'd bought more, now...

Cosmetic bag I made
Cosmetic bag I made

I'm rather pleased with my makes. There are some wonky bits, but you don't really notice them. And I'm going to make more - this machine is not going to hide in a box!