Saturday, 16 August 2014

Baby Charm Quilt

I have something a bit different to show you today, and it's some unselfish sewing too.  This is a baby quilt for my friend who is pregnant.

When I found out, my first reaction was, "I'm going to make all the things!".  Well, actually, that was my second reaction; my first was "congratulations!".  I'm also knitting a baby cardigan, and have another one planned.  I'm not the only person on crafting duty though, Friend's Mum is getting to make the curtains and bedding for the baby's bedroom.  I dodged a bullet there!  I hate making curtains, ever since I volunteered to make six pairs of curtains for my sister when she moved into her apartment.  Shudder.

I'd had this notion to try a bit more quilting after the success of my OXO mat, so suggested a quilt, and Friend said yes.  Being a very novice quilter, I knew it had to be something easy, and I finally settled on the Baby Charm Quilt Pattern from Craftsy.

As I say, I am a novice quilter, and this pattern was perfect for me.  The instructions were nothing short of fantastic.  Everything was explained clearly, and there were even diagrams for the tricky bits like the binding.  I only disregarded the instructions once, and that was on finishing the binding.  The instructions said to hand-stitch the binding down, but of course I couldn't be bothered with that!  So I machined it - aaand it looked like a dog's dinner.  So I unpicked it, and sewed it by hand.

I made this in just over a week when I was off on leave at the end of July, and I'm so glad that I had that block of time to make it, otherwise I think I would have felt like it would never be finished.  I'm guessing it took about 40 hours to make altogther, and I loved making it, but I think it will be my first and last quilt.  I have always been in awe of the amazing quilts that quilters make, but I'm even more in awe of their patience now.


The pattern says to use pre-cut Charm Packs for the squares, but I couldn't get those, so I bought fabric and cut it into squares with my rotary cutter.  The fabric and 100% cotton batting is all from a quilting shop in Belfast called The Quilters' Quest.  The baby's bedroom theme is jungle animals, so I was delighted when I spotted this print,


then about five seconds later I spotted this one,


and these two followed quickly after.


Once I had each square and it's cream corners put together, I had to decide on the layout.  I layed some squares out and took a photo on my photo, then tried another layout and took a photo.  I couldn't decide which looked nicer, so emailed them to my sister and Friend.  Both liked the second layout, so that's what I made.


I bought some extra of the red fabric for the border, and I was pretty sure the backing wouldn't be wide enough (which it wasn't), so I also bought enough to add this red strip across the back.


For the actual quilting, I went with the Stitch In The Ditch technique, and used cream thread to match the backing.  I used a red bobbin thread for the bit where the backing is red, and whilst it was a faff to sew, I think it was worth it.  The finished quilt is about 46" square.

I used my walking foot throughout, and it was magic!  This foot is just great, I'm so glad I bought it.

Friend absolutely loves it, and I'm pretty pleased with it myself!  I delighted with how well the squares lined up.  Should I ever decide to make another quilt though, I will re-read this post to remind me how long it took, and hopefully that will talk me out of it!

Have a great week!


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Anna and the circle skirt - the dress that nearly wasn't

Good grief, this dress was a rollercoaster!  But a rollercoaster in a good way - it's hard to know where to start to tell the story.



I'll start with the pattern.  I had originally intended to make Butterick B5748, but I just couldn't get the fit right on the back.  It was lumpy, and saggy and just weird, no matter what I did to it.

I really loved the circle skirt, and hadn't made one before, so decided to use the good old By Hand London Anna bodice and the Butterick pattern's circle skirt.  Anna and a circle skirt are a match made in heaven, I've seen so many lovely versions of them.

I stupidly managed to chop my own hand off in this photo!
The fabric is the last of my red fabric, and also the last piece of cotton I have from The Paragon in Donegall Pass in Belfast.  I starting laying the fabric out, and it was at that point that I realised that I didn't like it.  I thought it was a bit too twee, even for me.  I procrastinated about what to do, but decided to crack on with it and use it as a practise piece for the circle skirt, and also a lapped zip.  I was happy enough to use the fabric for this, as it cost less than £15 for the whole dress.


So off I went, merrily sewing away.  I decided not to bother finishing the seams as I wasn't going to wear it.  The dress came together without a hitch.  The lapped zip worked beautifully first time, I used this tutorial from Lauren of Lladybird.

Once the zip was finished, I tried it on to see what it looked like, and it was gorgeous!  I couldn't believe it, you could have knocked me down with a feather!  The fabric seamed to have transformed itself into loveliness.  Then I could have kicked myself for not finishing the seams, so I took the pinking shears to them.

I hadn't bothered putting pockets in the side seams when I thought it was just for practise, so I made some patch pockets using my own how-to.   


Hemming was a breeze.  I let it hang for a day or two, but the bias didn't drop so I didn't have to trim anything off.  Then I used this tutorial from By Hand London - I went with version #1.

So there you have it, the Shocked and Surprised dress.  I like it so much I might wear it to a family wedding later this month!  

I'd love to know if anybody else has had something like this happen.

Have a great week,


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Myrna Cardigan

I have finally got around to photographing my Myrna cardigan, and I'm a bit meh about it.  If I'm honest, I have been since I finished it a few weeks ago.

There are two things I don't really like about it, one is the fit.  It's fine at the shoulders and the tops of the sleeves, but too big at the underarms and middle back.  Also the body is a bit too long.

The other is the yarn.  I used three skeins of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted (the colour is Plum 122), and it's a bit itchy.  I sprayed it with water to block it, but maybe I'll wash it properly to see if it softens up a bit.


I love this pattern though.  It's really well written and easy to follow.  My favourite bit is the construction of the sleeve heads.  You pick up the stitches around the armhole, and work short rows to shape the top of the sleeve.  I love how it looks, and it was really easy to do.


I also love the buttons.  They are dyed shell buttons and I got them from Love Knitting, where I also got the yarn.


I added some short row shaping to the bust using the calculation in Little Red In The City.  I also stabilised the button bands using this tutorial from Lauren at Lladybird.

I don't hate it, but it's not a favourite.  Maybe I'll try it again another time in a softer yarn.  I'm thinking of Cascade 220, and would love to know if anybody has used this and what they thought of it.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Belladolly Dress

Well, here it is, my Sew Dolly Clackett fabric winning dress.

I can't tell you how much I love this fabric!  To recap, it's the fabric that Roisin picked for me as one of the Sew Dolly Clackett winners.  Roisin bought 5 metres when she was in Paris, and sent me half of it - have a look at the gorgeous dress she made with her half.

I loved this fabric the second I saw it (wax cotton, mad print - yes please!), but have to say that I wouldn't have picked it myself, because of the blue.  I always think that I'm too pale for blue, but I am very happy to be proved wrong!  This is inspiring me to be more adventurous in colour choices.

The other main colour is what I would call raspberry - a pinky red.  You can see the difference beside my pillarbox red belt in the photo below.  I love this shade of red.

The dress pattern is the Deer and Doe Belladone dress.  This is my fourth version, and definately a TNT pattern for me.  By the way, have you seen Sonja from Ginger Makes Piranha version?  How amazing it that!  And I spotted this maxi version on the Deer and Doe blog - scroll down to the bottom of the second block of photos.  Why did I not think of that?!

As I previously mentioned, I used an exposed zip at the back, after having seen one on this gorgeous Belladone by Tabatha from Thread Carefully.  I used this tutorial to sew it.  I am delighted with how it looks; but, good grief, what a faff to sew!  A lot of it was due to me sewing when I was tired - never a good idea, and also I had a bit of trouble with the ordinary zipper foot that came with my machine.  Because of the height of the teeth, and also the wider overhang on the left edge of the foot, it made it tricky to sew as close to the teeth as I would have liked.  This foot is a completely different shape to the zipper foot on my Granny's old Elna as you can see in the below photo - the foot on the left is from my Elna 520, and the foot on the right is from my old Elna.  I did try to attach the old foot to my machine, but it wouldn't fit.

So I had a look on the interwebs, and came across this zipper foot for my machine.  I know the website says it's for a Janome, but the Elna website shows the same foot for the 520, and I believe Janome make Elna machines.  I've ordered it, but haven't got it yet, so I'll have to see how it goes.   I'd love to know if anybody else has had problems with these newer shaped zipper feet.

Source -

Anyway, back to the dress.  I added some bias tape at the waistband (as did Tabatha),

and also finished the hem with some bias tape (Tabatha and Roisin did this too - I'm such a copy cat!).  I would never have thought of this myself, and love how it looks.

I love this dress, and thank you once again to Roisin for sending me the fabric.  Today was it's first outing, Mr BB and I are off work for two weeks (hurray) and today we went to Silent Valley Mountain Park in the Mourne Mountains in Co Down. 


Behind me is one of two reservoirs in the Mournes, I knew the reservoirs where there, but had no idea about the park, and I've lived in Co Down all my life!  The weather is lovely at the minute, and hot for Northern Ireland, although it was misty and breezy up the mountains.  

I have finished my Myrna cardigan, but haven't photographed it yet, so I'll blog it another day.

Have a great week,


Monday, 14 July 2014

A 70s-tastic Anna with a gathered skirt and patch pockets

I think this is one of my favourite makes ever.  It's the By Hand London Anna bodice with a gathered skirt.

Now, there have been many Annas with gathered skirts, Roisin made two (here and here), but mine was inspired by this one by Amy from Sylkotwist.  I have previously shamelessly copied Amy here, and it was the patch pockets on her dress that did the trick this time.

I think the main reason that I love this dress so much is the fabric.  I bought this in the Christmas sales from The Village Haberdashery website.  It's Anna Maria Horner fabric, and the design is Hand Drawn Garden Deep Nouveau Bouquet.  I've just found it here at Plush Addict.  It was originally £12 per metre, and I got 3 metres for £5.50 per metre. 

I have spoken before of my love for big, mad, 70s style prints, and I know they are not to everybodys' taste, but I love them.  If it makes me think, "oh, my retinas!" then I want it!  Also, this dress was really easy to make, which is always pleasing.

I absolutely loved the colours in this, especially the turquoise green.  I know I made a lot of things with red fabric; and as much as I like red, I like green and purple more.  I think it's just easier to find red fabric.  I have one more piece of red fabric to use, and then there will be a temporary red-fabric-buying ban!

There really are patch pockets on the skirt, they are just a bit tricky to spot on the print.  I've done a how-to on how I made them at the bottom of this post.

In other news, my Sew Dolly Clacket winning fabric Belladone dress is nearly finished.  I hoped to finished it yesterday, and would have done if it hadn't been for the pesky zip!  If you recall, I wanted to use an exposed zip in it, but it turned out that I had bought a separating zip, and not a closed end zip.  So now I'm impatiently waiting for a zip I ordered on ebay last night. 

Patch Pockets

Here's how I made my patch pockets.  I will add my usual disclaimer of not being an expert, and the main point of my how-tos is for me to remember how I ever did something.

The photo below looks a lot scarier than it really is.


Cut out a square of paper measuring 15cm by 15cm.

Rule in the Seam Allowances at 1.5cm.  Mine are purple.

Rule a line vertical line down the centre, 7.5cm from each edge.  Mine is pink.

Along this line, measure 4cm down from one Seam Allowance line.  This is the black line between the two red circles.

Parallel to this line, measure 2cm down from each of the edge Seam Allowance lines.  This is the black line between the two pink circles. 

Rule a diagonal line between the lower red and pink circles, extending it out to the edge of the paper.  Mine is green.  Do the same on the other side. 

You will then have this:

Cut along the diagonal lines, so it looks like this:

Add a 1.5cm Seam Allowance to the diagonal edge on the smaller piece, and this is the pattern piece for the pocket top.  The straight edges are parallel to the grainline.

Cut out another 15cm by 15cm square, and this is the pocket pattern piece.  Again the straight edges are parallel to the grainline.

Cut out two of each piece in your fabric.  Snip through the point of the pocket top, just inside the seam allowance.  This will help to fold the seam allowance under.

Fold the seam allowance (1.5cm) under to the wrong side, and press.

Pin the pocket flap to one edge of the pocket, lining the edges up.  The pocket flap and the pocket are both wrong side up.  Sew this edge together across the top edge.

Press the seam allowance down towards the pocket on the pocket right side.  Trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.

Press the pocket flap down on top of the pocket.

Top stitch across the top edge, and also the diagonal edges of the pocket piece at 1/4 inch from the edge.  (Sorry about the blurry photo!)

With the wrong side up, press the side edges of the pocket in by 1.5cm.

This is a clever trick I learnt from the instructions in Tilly And The Buttons Coco dress.  Turn the pocket so the right side is up.  Press the bottom edge up by 1.5cm. 

Fold the side edges out flat.  With the the right side up and the bottom edge still folded over, sew along the pressed crease 1.5cm from the edge.  Only sew within the bottom edge fold.

That's a lot harder to explain than it is to do!  Hopefully the photo below will make more sense.  The wrong side fold at the bottom is the bottom edge that has just been pressed over.  The right side bit to the left of the crease is the folded out side edge.  Hopefully you can see where I've stitched in green on the wrong side.

Fold the bottom edge back to the wrong side.  Push the corners out, I found the bottom edge of the seam gauge was just the tool for the job.

Give the pockets a press, and add some buttons for decoration if you want.  I hadn't sewn my buttons on yet when I took this photo.

Pin the pockets where you want them on the skirt, and top stitch along the side and bottom edges 1/4 inch from the edge.

And there you have it - some snazzy patch pockets!

Have a great week,