a touch of Cinderella

I have been very bad about keeping everyone updated – lots of sewing, lots of trying to get organised. I have had a load of custom orders and need to be very sure the requested fabric doesn’t get used for any other projects.

current custom orders:

  • 3 pairs of slippers
  • 5 drawstring bags
  • 2 zipper pouches
  • 2 evening clutch bags
  • 1 phone case
  • 1 Ellen Mouse
  • 2 Dr Who christmas stockings

As if this is not enough to keep me out of trouble, my favourite season is starting to take hold and I am loving the colours and that hint of chill in the air. To celebrate I have been making Cinderella pumpkin pincushions (also perfect for Halloween) with cloves tucked in the stuffing and cinnamon stick stems: available in my shop

pumpkin pincushion
pumpkin pincushion

The house smells delicious – I am just going to have to make some more!

Of course no Cinderella can carry out her housework duties without a good apron! I am hooked on these little cool and contemporary ones, and they really show off some of the lovely fabric in my fabric stash. My only problem is that it would be nice to include a photo of them being modeled when I put them in my shop and me standing on a chair taking a photo in my workroom mirror just does not cut the mustard…I am going to have to rope in friends and neighbours!

funky apron
funky apron
modern apron
modern apron
flowers and irons apron
flowers and irons apron
hmmm...could use a better model!
hmmm…could use a better model!

The aprons are fully lined – thank goodness for the fab fabric shop on Green Street in Bath (Fashion Fabrics) as I am getting through quite a bit of fabric.

My non-sewing activities have been taken up with the lovely crab apple tree in our front garden. Last year there were so few apples we left them all for the birds, but this year it has more than I have ever seen. I have already had 5kg and there is still plenty left for both us and the birds.

crab apple
crab apple
crab apple tree
crab apple tree

I am a big fan of cookery books but when it comes to jams and preserves I always come back to Gloria Nicol’s Fruits of the Earth; I do like to tweak recipes though and add cinnamon and cloves and ginger to the fruit when I boil it up before straining.

Fruits of the Earth
Fruits of the Earth
spiced crab apple jelly
spiced crab apple jelly

To finish, I have to share another photo. I just popped outside to photograph the crab apple tree and Rio the cat was in his favourite position on the door mat…he’s even there if you look at our house on google maps street view (not going to put my address here, you’ll just have to take my word for it!)

cat on the mat
cat on the mat

bags of bags

The zipper pouch bags seem to be a bit of a hit and are selling fast, so I thought I had better make a few more…now in my shop http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeereyMe

I love bees – do my best to plant my garden to attract them and am forever taking photos of them – so when I saw this bee fabric in Country Threads in Bath I just couldn’t resist. The bag seemed to be calling out for a daisy and I remembered a tutorial I pinned on Pinterest and made my first Kanzashi flower; certainly not my last as they are so much fun to make!

bee garden pouch with kanzashi daisy
bee garden zipper pouch bag

 

Years back I treated myself to a bundle of seaside fabrics and you know how it is, some fabrics are so pretty it seems a shame to cut in to them, but finally I decided that this one needed to fulfill its destiny. I love it…and have enough to make another one.

large seaside zipper pouch bag
large seaside zipper pouch bag

I made a pincushion as a gift with some of this cute Westie fabric but had some left and thought it would make a nice little bag for a dog lover, and was the perfect opportunity to use one of the dog buttons I stumbled across.

Westie dog zipper pouch with shaggy dog zip pull
button detail

Now the new bags have been added to the shop I had better get on with some more sewing – a contemporary apron and then I need to get out the fabric paints to create a couple of Beauty and the Beast panels…eh Karin? Mark has a day off so I might finish early today and get him to help me pick crab apples – the jams and jelly season is with us, and spiced crab apple jelly is my favourite!

Frida Kahlo, fabric stash and kilner jar pincushions

Frida Kahlo

A little while back I stumbled upon a little online shop called Viva La Frida that sells wonderful Mexican print oilcloth along with Mexican folk art bits and pieces. The colours and patterns all but throw themselves at you and, just as the wand chooses the wizard, I believe the fabric chooses the project and a bag of Viva La Frida remnants all but shouted at me “bunting and bags!”

Oilcloth is an odd thing to work with. Firstly pins mark forever, so I always use clips to hold it in place and, secondly, the vinyl side tends to be reluctant to feed through the sewing machine, so it is quicker and easier and results in far less swearing if you sew through tissue paper both sides of the oilcloth. Actually the nice people at Viva la Frida provide some hints and tips for working with oilcloth.

the sky blue-pink side
the sky blue-pink side
front pocket
front pocket
tote - the green side
tote – the green side
red and green Mexicana tote bag
red and green Mexicana tote bag

The nice lady down the road let me hang the bunting on her front fence to photograph it; she doesn’t even seem surprised by my strange requests these days!

bunting
bunting
Mexicana oilcloth bunting
Mexicana oilcloth bunting
bunting close-up
bunting close-up

fabric stash

For years I have sorted my fabric stash by colour – the quilter in me, no doubt – but you know these days it’s just not the most useful arrangement. So today I did a stock take and arranged the fabric by type of material and pattern:

luxury fabrics:

  • silks
  • velvets
  • glittery stuff

cottons:

  • plain and background patterns
  • arty patterns
  • animal themed prints
  • seaside prints
  • Christmas and Winter prints
  • other themed prints

Utility fabrics:

  • calico
  • sheeting
  • ticking
  • cotton drill

Not only can I now find exactly what I am looking for but I have reminded myself of what fabrics I have and that has refueled my enthusiasm to make a load more things.

fabric stash
fabric stash
fabric by pattern
fabric by pattern
neatly sorted fabric stash
neatly sorted fabric stash

Kilner jar pincushions with sewing kits

Finding I had so much silk and velvet, I put a piece of shot purple/blue silk to good use by adding a pincushion to the lid of a kilner jar. I made one a few months back and now both are in my shop. I have added a simple sewing kit to each jar – I particularly like the vintage style embroidery scissors.

kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit #2
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit #2
sewing kit #1
sewing kit #1
sewing kit #2
sewing kit #2

 

In other news…

After much searching I have found a fabric supplier who also provides details of EN71 compliance, which means that once the fabric arrives I can carry out the CE certification testing on the new fabrics and start making and (hopefully) selling Ellen Mouse!! There are some limitations – no plain brown fabric, so no Freja Mouse production line, and they will all have to have the same pink inside ear fabric, but I am looking forward to getting back to sewing mice. We have visitors next week, so I won’t be sewing (although I may be picking my friend’s brain for crochet help), but soon Ellen Mouse will be back!

 

And finally…

Don’t forget I will be making the draw for the lavender heart tomorrow morning! Just comment or like here or on my facebook page.

Liberty print lavender heart
Liberty print lavender heart

a patchwork book bag in three…five…well a few easy steps

tutorial

Bear with me here; I am not used to teaching. I am assuming little knowledge, but if I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, as they say, let me know and I will step it up a notch.

I do not believe in rules. I am not one for doing what I am told. If a recipe calls for lemons, I am likely to use limes or oranges…because what do they know? I think the great thing about sewing is that you can read books and blogs and go on courses and then ignore a chunk of it (or all of it) and just do what you want to do. So just consider this an idea to play with as you will.

You can use this approach with whatever fabric you have to hand and you don’t have to use any patchwork, just skip the first few steps and use one oblong of fabric for the outside and another for the inside. For mine I have used quilting fabric¬† – a pack of pre-cut 15cm squares (which some may call cheating, but as I said, I don’t believe in rules, so how can it be cheating?) – which is a light weight cotton. This means the bag is very light and easy to fold up and pop in your handbag. However, it works well with heavier fabric too (old curtains are my favourite), which makes it stronger; you may need to experiment with sewing machine tension and stitch length. I am not going to try to cover using a sewing machine – just look at the handbook, google any problems and perhaps find a blog written by someone with more technical know how than me.

Ingredients Materials: 8 x 15cm (6inch) squares of cotton fabric (wash it first in case it shrinks), matching thread (or contrasting for the top stitching, if you prefer), 3 x 15cm (6inch) square border fabric and cut each border fabric square in half, two strips of border fabric each 3cm x 72cm (1.25inch x 28.5inch), lining fabric approx 30cm x 72cm (12inch x 28.5inch)*, 2 strips border fabric and 2 strips lining fabric each 5cm x 71cm (2inch x 28inch)

* wait until you have completed the outside layer of the bag as you can use it as a template to make sure the lining is the right size.

Unless otherwise stated, I use approximately 0.7cm seam allowance. This is the equivalent of 0.25inch and on my sewing machine (and I think most machines) is what you get when the edge of the fabric runs along the edge of the standard sewing foot, so is just a convenient allowance.

1) arrange the patchwork squares and border fabric half squares with border fabric at the top, in the middle and at the bottom
1) arrange the patchwork squares and border fabric half squares with border fabric at the top, in the middle and at the bottom
2) Place two half squares of border fabric right together and do a straight stitch along one of the short edges, press the seam open. Repeat with each pair of squares or half squares.
2) Place two half squares of border fabric right sides together and do a straight stitch along one of the short edges, press the seam open. Repeat with each pair of squares or half squares.
3) Take each pair of squares/half squares in the order you arranged, place right sides together, pin and sew along the long side. Pins should always be perpendicular to the line you are sewing so you can sew over the top of them).
3) Take each pair of squares/half squares in the order you arranged, place right sides together, pin and sew along the long side. Pins should always be perpendicular to the line you are sewing so you can sew over the top of them.
4) Press open seams before adding the next row.
4) Press open seams before adding the next row.
5) pin the strips of border fabric, right sides together, to each side of the panel of fabric squares. Sew in place.
5) pin the strips of border fabric, right sides together, to each side of the panel of fabric squares. Sew in place.
6) Use the completed panel of fabric as a template to cut the lining fabric. Fold the panel of fabric for the outside of the bag in half, matching the centre seam as closely as you can (I put a pin in the middle seam just to keep it aligned). pin the two side seams and sew. Fix the thread ends at the bottom of the bag by using the oversew option, turning it around and sew a short distance, retracing the original stitching or just tie the two ends together.
6) Use the completed panel of fabric as a template to cut the lining fabric. Fold the panel of fabric for the outside of the bag in half, matching the centre seam as closely as you can (I put a pin in the middle seam just to keep it aligned). pin the two side seams and sew. Fix the thread ends at the bottom of the bag by using the oversew option, turning it around and sewing a short distance to retrace the original stitching or just tie the two ends of thread together.
7) Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides together, pin the two sides and sew. Press the seam allowance back.
7) Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides together, pin the two sides and sew. Press the seam allowance back. (As the pattern on my lining fabric had a particular direction, I added a double seam allowance, cut the oblong in half and turned one half around so the pattern was in the same direction when you looked inside the finished bag, and then sewed the bottom as well as the sides).
8) Turn the outside of the bag the right way out and push out the corners (a chop stick works well). Place the lining inside the outer bag and push it in to the bottom of the bag with your handy chop stick. I then pin the bottom to stop it moving. Fold in the top of the outer bag - I use the depth of the bottom border plus a bit, but go with what you like the look of.
8) Turn the outside of the bag the right way out and push out the corners (a chop stick works well). Place the lining inside the outer bag and push it in to the bottom of the bag with your handy chop stick. I then pin the bottom to stop it moving. Fold in the top of the outer bag – I use the depth of the bottom border plus a bit, but go with what you like the look of.
9) Fold in the lining so it is just short of the top of the outer bag.
9) Fold in the lining so it is just short of the folded top of the outer bag.
10) Make the handles: for each strip of fabric fold over the long edges so the meet in the middle (right side on the outside) and press. Pin each lining fabric strip to a border fabric strip and top stitch close to each of the four edges (you can see the stitching in picture 11). These handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, but just make them shorter if you prefer to hold the bag in your hand.
10) Make the handles: for each strip of fabric fold over the long edges so they meet in the middle (right side on the outside) and press. Pin each lining fabric strip to a border fabric strip and top stitch close to each of the four edges (you can see the stitching in picture 11). These handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, but just make them shorter if you prefer to hold the bag in your hand.
11) Insert the handles between the lining and outer bag with about 2.5cm below the folded edge of the lining. Tops stitch close to the folded edge of the lining and then, for strength, do a second parallel row of top stitching a little below it.
11) Insert the handles between the lining and outer bag about 5cm from the side edge and with about 2.5cm of handle below the folded edge of the lining. Top stitch close to the folded edge of the lining and then, for strength, do a second parallel row of top stitching a little below it.
12) Remove the pins and press the bag...ta da!
12) Remove the pins and press the bag…ta da!

I like to finish the bag with a ribbon rose brooch, but that is for another day….

ribbon rose brooch
ribbon rose brooch