Friday, 26 April 2013

Friday Finds ~ Making the Cut

Somehow I managed to forget it was Friday today. Here’s the last of my handy sewing tips for April. When I’ve made clothes in the past I have always used tissue patterns and cut out the size needed. Now that I’m learning more about fitting properly, it makes more sense to trace, so that I can switch between sizes.

There are some good tips at Living With Punks to do just this. It makes perfect sense if you are making clothes for children, as they are bound to grow and you may want to make a pattern more than once for them, or for different sized children. Don’t be scared of the rotary cutter, it’s easier than you might think, with practise.

It’s been a day of sunshine and showers here, with a liberal sprinkling of hail thrown in. In the dry spells I managed to get all my pre-washed fabric out on the line. A bit more ironing and then I’ll be all set to get cutting. Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday #203

Not the kitchen table, or even the floor this week, but a heap on the sofa. The spoils of a little shopping trip with my Mum yesterday. I took her to buy lining, interfacing and a zip for a skirt she is making. I may have had a little splurge myself, in Fabricland. Well it would have been rude not to. Don’t you think?


I have plans for all of it, although I may just have to stroke it for a while first. There is purple denim for a skirt, a fresh blue and white cotton for PJ bottoms and that Liberty style (I think so anyway) print for an infinity scarf. I also bought red and white polka dots for that fifties style dress pattern, elastic and a zip, all for under £35.


With all the money I *saved* I was able to splash out on something a little bit quirky. I ordered these Fat Quarters from Sew Scrumptious last week. I really wanted to see the designs up close, before choosing which print to use for an A line skirt. I narrowed it down to the bottom two and in the end the foxes won. The colours are gorgeous and the fabric has a lovely feel to it. The other prints will come in useful, my daughter has her eye on the skulls. Which would you have chosen?

I’m off to link up with Julia and see what everyone else is up to while I drink my coffee. No noisy housework for me (what a shame) as I have a poorly girl at home today and she’s having a little nap. After a double lesson playing tennis in the midday sun yesterday, she has a burnt nose and cheeks and is still feeling a bit icky. I feel so guilty for not reminding her to put sunscreen on, she’s never had sunburn in all her nearly 14 years. I think the sunshine took us all by surprise.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday Finds ~ Zip-A-De-Doo-Dah

When it comes to sewing, the thing that never fails to fill me with dread, is the insertion of a zip. I chose the Washi Dress pattern, to ease me back into dressmaking, mainly because it doesn’t have one. However, the A line skirt, which is next on my list, does. Time to get over the fear.

I searched the internet for tutorials and found there are many ways to put in a zip. The first time I did it, was in the back of this dress, and I don’t remember much about it now. I think my Mum’s old Singer only had one foot and it didn’t look like the one above, but somehow I managed. All without the aid of Youtube!

During my recent research, I found lots of different methods for adding zips, all with excellent tutorials, on many sewing blogs. Then I found Sunni’s blog, where she covered all the types I would be likely to need, in one place. Better yet, Sunni has put together an online class, sharing all her techniques, and it’s free.

Craftsy have a wide range of classes on offer and there are several free ones available, including Sewing Machine 911, which I’ve mentioned before, and two Bag making Basics courses. Well worth a look. Have a lovely weekend.

PS Have you got that song in your head too?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday #202

Sewing has been on the back burner this week. The children didn’t go back to school until yesterday and I had a class, this morning, to prepare for.


This was the state of play on Tuesday evening. Nothing like leaving it until the last minute. We made a set of any occasion cards and a folder to keep them in. I had three lovely new ladies come along today, all of them complete beginners at stamping and only one of them had done any card making previously. The classes are always fun to teach, but there is something extra special about showing folk the techniques for the first time.

That’s it from me for today. I’ll share what we made, later in the week, once I’ve had a chance to take some photos. Join in the fun at Julia’s place.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Friday Finds ~ Not That I’m Biased

Continuing my April theme of handy hints for sewing: bias binding/tape.

If you’ve been following The Great British Sewing Bee, you will have noticed that bias binding has been used quite a bit, by one contestant in particular. Until I saw Lauren add the tape to the inside of her skirt, I had never thought of using it to finish off seams like that. I thought it was a lovely touch and one I will be trying out.

Pre-packaged binding, usually in plain colours, can be bought easily enough, but the possibilities are endless if you make your own. Either using a special gadget or by folding it yourself. Whichever you choose, mind those fingers! There is a very detailed tutorial at Dana Made It, from cutting to ironing, with plenty of photos.

If you fancy giving it a go, but can’t wait don’t want to splash out on a gadget, then try this Nifty Tip from Miss P…. There are lots of other tips and tricks on Portia’s blog, including a cute Peter Pan collar refashion using, well bias tape of course. There is a more detailed explanation, of the method pictured, at Creative Little Daisy.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday #201

The children are still in bed. Most unusual for my two, even now they are teenagers. The Mechanic has left for work and I’ve been making the most of an empty kitchen table. Inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee last night, I’ve got out the pattern that I was lucky enough to be given on a recent trip to Salisbury.


The pattern comes with a Croquis Kit. No, I didn’t know what that meant either. Essentially it’s a paper doll for big girls. All the elements of the dress are printed separately and they all fit together. The bodice is always the same, but there is a choice of skirts, sleeves, neck bands and details like button tabs. You can play at fashion designer, without the need for drawing skills. Just trace off the bits you want.


Here’s a closer look at the style I’m aiming for, with the pleated sleeves, flared skirt and the narrower neck band. I love this pattern. Now just to figure out the sizing! The children are stirring and will be down for breakfast any minute. Time to clear away.

For more creativity on show, call in at Julia’s place, you’ll find plenty there.

PS You can read more about TGBSB in Monday’s post.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee

I was pretty excited when I found out there was going to be a new sewing show, along the lines of The Great British Bake Off. I wasn’t entirely sure how the format would translate, but I think it worked well and I, for one, wasn’t disappointed.

During the first episode, I had this nagging feeling that I knew one of the contestants from somewhere and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it came to me. I recognised Tilly from her blog banner. I had read a few posts from her excellent Learn to Sew series and filed them away, under useful, to share at a later date.

I have read a few comments around the internet, saying that the garments made were not impressive enough. I wonder if they have ever tried to make an A line skirt in 3 hours? I don’t think I could work under such pressure. Lauren made her own bias binding in that time and added a pretty contrast facing to her plain skirt and a trim around the hem. Hers was my favourite. Although the prize for coolest fabric has to go to Jane for that retro car design, made by Benartex.

It was interesting to see how differently the contestants approached the alteration challenge. There was a wide variety of finished tops. Again Lauren’s was my favourite, although I liked Tilly’s idea of a Peter Pan collar.

The final challenge was a made to measure day dress and I loved the fabric that Stuart chose for his. A striking Amy Butler print. My Gran would have commented on his pattern matching though!

Lauren made a Macaron dress from a Colette pattern (I have my eye on the Crepe) and Tilly impressively drafted her own. Mark has very little experience of zips, as he makes mostly 18th Century styled Steampunk clothing, yet he produced a wonderful dress that fitted his model well. I held my breath for Michelle. She took a big risk with her wrap dress and sadly it didn’t pay off for her. I loved seeing Ann take all those measurements before she started, just as my Gran would have done, when making clothes for us and her many satisfied customers over the years.

Tilly and Lauren talk about their experiences during the first show, on their blogs. Both posts have photographs of the trial run dresses they made, without the pressures of the competition. Definitely worth a look.

Perhaps some folk were expecting to see ball gowns and bridal wear, but a simple piece well executed can show off a person’s skills (or lack of) just as easily, in my humble opinion. I’m looking forward to the next instalment (here’s a sneak peek), my only criticism would be, there aren’t enough episodes in this series!

I’ll be tuning in tomorrow night at 8pm. Will you?

PS If you want a closer look at the laundry bag, they showed how to make, then the full instructions can be found here.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Storytelling Sunday 3: Pick Your Precious

The pancakes have been cooked and eaten, with lashings of maple syrup. The breakfast table cleared and the washing up been done happily by the children. Well maybe not that last one, but a girl can dream. Being the first Sunday of the month, it must be time for a tale or two From High in the Sky with Sian.


The sun is shining here, Spring is hopefully on its way. Seems like just the right time for a tale about a rabbit. This particular rabbit has been part of my story since I was a little girl. He’d be waiting for me, sat on the bed, when I went to stay with my Aunty Kath. I only found out recently that he had a story all of his own.

The rabbit was made by a man who lived in Aunty Kath’s village. He fought during the Second World War and was taken captive by the Japanese. He survived, on a meagre daily portion of rice, until he was freed at the end of the war. When his wife knew he was coming home, she wanted to make something he loved. She scrimped and saved to gather the ingredients. Milk was not a problem, living in a rural village, but sugar was difficult to obtain. None the less she managed it and when he returned she was able to serve up his favourite dessert. Sadly he couldn’t even manage a mouthful. What was it? Rice pudding of course.


The rabbit (called Rabbit) is a little bit faded and a little bit moth eaten these days. He is still part of my story and now sits on my own bed, where I can see him every day and be reminded of happy times spent with my Aunty Kath.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Stampin’ Up Saturday ~ Everything Eleanor #2

Last week’s cards were both very floral. This time I wanted to show a different style of card, using a stamp from the same set.


I stamped the round frame onto the green card, before embossing it with the Lacy Brocade folder. I then used the same stamp to make a border along the top and bottom of my base card. The Stamp-a-ma-jig came in very handy for lining it up.


The green panel was added on top and finished with a butterfly, embellished with pearls, and a sentiment on a banner strip. I realised, after photographing, that the stamping of the sentiment had left a shadow. Completely intentional of course!


Other than the stem for the flowers, these are the rest of the stamps that I didn’t show last week. The cardstock colours I’ve used here are Blushing Bride and Pear Pizzazz which, I’m very happy to say, are making a return in the next catalogue. I’m not really a pink person but I do love that shade, it’s perfect.

If you have a favourite colour of inkpad, that you can’t live without, make sure you order a re-inker for it, while stocks last. If you’d like any more information, on anything I’ve mentioned, please contact me angelfishcrafts{at}gmail{dot}com

I’ll be back tomorrow for Storytelling Sunday: Pick Your Precious. Are you joining in this month? First timers, occasional participants and seasoned regulars, Sian welcomes anyone with a tale to tell. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Friday Finds ~ The Long and the Short of It

As you may know, I’m taking part in The Love What You Wear Project this year and I’ve filed away a few things, from around the blogosphere, that I thought might come in handy along the way. Throughout April I’ll share some of them with you.

I was in need of a new pair of jeans and of course I cannot just stroll into Gap and pick up my favourite Curvy Low Rise. Apparently they have stopped producing them anyway, so I’ll be in search of the perfect pair again at the end of the year. I found some in a charity shop that are not a bad fit, but they are too long for little old me.

I’ve taken up jeans in the past and always hated the look of the hem afterwards. It also makes it totally obvious that they’ve been altered. Now I’ve found a solution and it’s really simple. The ‘how to’ along with plenty of pictures (always useful) can be found at Just Something I Made.

If you haven’t got a pair of jeans that needs shortening, or you’re just not that into sewing, it’s still worth checking the site out for Cathe’s other crafty ideas and lots of free printables. And if you are into sewing, then pop back on Monday when I’ll have a post all about The Great British Sewing Bee. Are you watching?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday #200

Yes, it’s the 200th instalment of this weekly hop around the creative workspaces of the world. Ably hosted, as always, by the lovely Julia.


Lunch has been cleared away and before the next round of feeding, I’m taking possession of the kitchen table for an hour, or two, if I’m really lucky. On the agenda today, birthday cards for two of my nieces. Sisters, born within 3 days of each other, although 2 years apart. The eldest will be 21 and we’re gathering for a birthday tea on Friday. I have an idea in mind, but that will probably change once I get started!

Lots of stamps, I like to mix and match the sets, a few punches and a brand new pack of card. I just need to decide on some ink colours, then I’m away. The plastic containers hold leftovers from previous classes, Easter carrots and extra flowers from the Twinchies I made for a swap . The Inchies can be seen in Monday’s post.


I’d best crack on, if I’m going to be finished before I need to start cooking the dinner. Why not see what everyone else is up to, or show us your own crafty space. I’m hoping to get round a lot more desks, this evening, than I managed last week.

Monday, 1 April 2013

My Month in Numbers ~ March 2013

Having failed to post my numbers for February, I thought I’d get in early this month. March started with an eighty mile road trip, to meet up with nine lovely ladies, for two whole days of uninterrupted crafting time, in beautiful Herefordshire.


The following Friday was a mufti day for the children and they went off to school proudly wearing the two t-shirts they had made themselves.


On Mothering Sunday, I received this package, which contained two bars of my favourite Green & Blacks, along with a hand drawn card from my son.


My daughter gave me these two paper dolls she had drawn, of herself and her brother in their home made t-shirts.


Spring seems to be a little late putting in an appearance this year, but two bunches of daffodils help to bring a hint of it into the house.


I made twelve cards, including one for my niece who turned seventeen this month, along with Ten twinchies and twenty inchies for a swap.


I tried two new recipes, including this yummy Keralan style prawn curry from the Hairy Dieter’s book. I read two books: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which I enjoyed and Neverwhere, which I loved. I watched thirteen episodes of The Killing. I know I’m late to the party, but I’m enjoying catching up. Gotta love Lovefilm.

That’s my March. A bit of a random mix this month and there are a lot of ‘twos’ in there! For lots more numerical posts head on over to Julie’s place.