My first adventure making bed linen

On Monday I made reference to a duvet cover I was making my mum for her birthday. Well, here it is, complete with pillow cases and a peak of my bedroom. Well, I had to check it fitted!

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My brief was pastel colours and little flowers. I started looking for extra wide fabric as this is a king size cover. Somehow, none of the fabrics seemed quite right so I moved back to normal width cottons. I came across this beautiful floral print at Croft Mill and decided to match it with a cream cotton. You may notice from the photos that this cover isn't cream but a pale green. I had a slight accident when pre-washing them - a small, cheap blue scarf was hiding in the machine and I didn't spot it until I pulled the fabric out. It was quite a surprise but I rolled with it as luckily mum loves green! 

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To create the panels, I cut the newly green fabric in half and keep the floral as it came. Unfortunately the green shrank by a couple of centimetres meaning I needed to make full use of the selvages and reduce the seam allowances to 5mm. All the seams are overlocked for a nice finish. A pale purple ribbon, attached with a narrow zig zag stitch, finishes the cover nicely as well as hiding the seam lines. 

I had planned a cream back to the cover. However, this looked odd with the green. I opted for a dark purple sheet from Dunelm Mill instead. It felt a bit weird buying a new sheet just to chop it up but I'm pleased I did. 

The pillow cases follow the same pattern but the under side is green. 

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As you would expect, this was a simple project although it did take longer than I expected. I figured that long straight lines would be quick but the volume of fabric slows you down a bit. I can't say I'm a convert to sewing my own bed linen but it is nice to have options and know that I can create something if I can't find it in the shops. 

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Have you ever sewed bed linen? 

Scrap busting: Passport cover

Im currently on holiday in Barcelona (yay! sun, sea and tapas!). When I go away I'm forever struggling to identify my passport from the others I am looking after. So I made a cover for mine. Making this cover is a very quick project - it took me about 30 minutes.

What you need:

Main fabric

Lining fabric

Popper

Cut a 34cm x 16.5cm rectangle in both your main and lining fabric. Cut another rectangle, this time 12cm x 6cm, in your main fabric.

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With right sides together pin the large rectangles together. Stitch using a 5mm seam allowance but make sure to leave a 5cm gap on one side.

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Cut off the corners being careful not to catch any of the stitching.

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Turn out the right way and press. Slip stitch the gap closed.

Take the smaller rectangle, this will form the fastening tab. Fold in half, right sides together and stitch one short edge and the long one using a 5mm seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance and turn out. Press and top stitch.

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Go back to your main cover and press in half. Then fold each edge towards the centre so you have a 6cm overlap. Press.

Now you need to work out where the fastening tab will go. Fold under the raw edge of the tab about 1.5cm. Fold the cover in half and place the tab over it so it is even on the front and back. Pin the back in place.

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Stitch in place near to the edge of the tab and the end of the raw edge. Add the popper to the back side of the tab and the front of the cover.

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Finally, top stitch all the way round the cover making sure you move the tab out of the way.

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You should have something that looks like this.

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Magpie Collection reveal

Do you remember the outfits I made for the Magpie hair collection last year? Well, I can finally share the photos!

I'm really pleased with how they have come out. While you can't see the whole outfit in any of the photos, the key details are captured. I won't go into the details of the construction as you find that in the posts from last year (first and second). 

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The simplicity of this outfit has been captured beautifully. It is completely black in order to keep the emphasis on the model's blonde hair. When I first heard that we had a blonde model I was unsure how it would work but work it did with the differing tones in the hair and the curves of the make up. 

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This was my favourite outfit to make and I'm thrilled at how well the blue has come out in this photo. You can see a lot of the detail in the lace too. While you can't see the full circle skirt you can still sense that this is a Victorian Gothic inspired dress. 

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I'm really happy that this top looks straight in the photo. I spent so long trying to get the lines even between shots that I was convinced they would look off in the photos! I think this is the hair-outfit combination that works best. I love how the sharp lines of the hair match the lines of the top and the way the green and blue hues compete for attention with the white stripe reminds me of the folded wings of a Magpie. 

Making the outfits and attending the shoot was great fun. I learnt a lot on the set - there is so much more to think about than I originally thought. Although it took a while to put the outfits together, I could potentially be persuaded to do it again! How about you - would you create, or have you created, an outfit for a photo shoot? 

Credits:

Hair: Andreea Dumitru hair design

Make up: Lilian Komor Makeup

Photography: Nicola Belson

Sewing for small people

Within the last two weeks, two of my friends welcomed tiny daughters to the world. While I'm delighted for them both, I also loved the fact it gave me an excuse to make tiny clothes!

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First, I made another Seaside Sailor Dress as I absolutely adored the first one I made. The fabric for this dress came completely out of my stash. I used some of the left over peacock cotton lawn for the dress and lining and a thick white cotton for the collar with the lawn as the under layer. The dress has nine pieces in total - six for the bodice, which is amazing for how small it is! The skirt is a small rectangle that is gathered at the waistband. 

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I used the same embroidery stitch on the collar as I did on the first. Annoyingly the machine skipped a few stitches which meant I had to fill in the gaps by hand. I chose an ivory thread for the button holes as the light blue one I had hoped to use kept breaking midway through. I think they match the buttons pretty well and compliment the colours in the feathers. 

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The dress is 3-6 months. I had enough fabric to go up a size but with spring and summer on the way, it seemed sensible to chose a size that the baby could wear during those months. If you're looking for a very quick pattern which offers a wide range of customisation options that I would really recommend this one. It is so quick to cut and sew. 

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I chose a very different pattern and look for the other baby. I loved the Little Bird Romper pattern from Puperita that Kelly made last year and as this little girl will be growing up on a farm, dungarees seemed a perfect idea! I bought some lovely, soft black and red polka dot needlecord from Darn It and Stitch (they have a wonderful range of bright colours as well) and a bright red cotton for the lining. 

This pair is aged 6 months and I managed to get the full pattern comfortably out of a meter of each fabric, even taking into account the nap of the needlecord. Construction wise, this is fairly simple and the instructions are clear. The only time I got confused was when I turned the pockets through - it didn't say what to do with the gap so I slipstitched them closed before edge stitching them into place. The front features one large pocket, while the back has two smaller ones - they are quite hard to see in the pictures as I somehow managed to almost match the dots. I promise they really are there. The dungarees are fully lined and interfacing is only needed for the leg bands. 

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I was a little worried about sewing with the needlecord as I didn't want to crush it. It went through the machine ok and survived light pressing but didn't hold up so well when I created the buttonholes. You can't really see the marks but I know there are there! The cotton, though, caused me some alarm. When I pressed it, it turned a very dark red even at a low temperature. It lasted about 10 minutes before returning to its original colour. I used the left over heart buttons that I used on my Mathilde as they match the red dots and lining perfectly. 

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I love both of these outfits but I just can't stop stroking the needlecord. It really is that soft! I just hope it is hardwearing enough. They are now safely packaged up to be posted on Monday and sadly that marks the end of my dose of sewing for tiny people for a while. 

Completed: Lace Laurel

What do you do with a pattern that you really like but your first attempt failed dramatically? I kept it at the back of my mind for nearly a year and waited until an idea came to me. It finally arrived a couple of weekends ago when I went to Goldhawk Road with KellyJen and Daniela. I spotted a gorgeous piece of lace that screamed "buy me!" and wouldn't stop yelling until I had parted with my cash. I knew it was time to dig Laurel out again. 

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My first attempt with Laurel didn't go well, nor did my second which is why it hasn't made it to the blog. But this time would be different, I was sure of it. I have wanted a lace top for a long time but I'm super picky when choosing which piece to buy. It is either the wrong colour or I don't like the flowers. Thank goodness there was 1.5m of this cotton crochet lace left on the bolt. I might have cried if there was less. I chose a teal fabric to go underneath the bodice. I knew it had to be a bright colour and was constantly being drawn to the different shades of teal. I'm not fully certain what fabric it is. I suspect it is a poly mix but it has a good drape and is lovely to touch. 

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Key to making this top work was getting the fit right. The poor fit of my other Laurels is the primary reason why I don't wear them much, if at all. I needed to lose a lot of the ease so I used the finished measurements that best matched mine and then went up a size. The pattern in the lace isn't dart friendly so I chose to remove all of them. The teal doesn't feature them either as I underlined the bodice to keep the seam allowances out of sight. This was my first time eliminating all darts from a pattern. For the back ones, I measured the width of the dart and then removed it from the side seam, drawing a line from the armscye to the hem. For the front, I slashed the bust dart through the middle to the apex. I then cut a straight line from just below the apex to the hem before pivoting the left side of the pattern so the bottom line of the original dart matched the centre of it. I also removed the back seam and lowered the armscye a little. This is one of the biggest issues I have this pattern - the sleeves are just too high, feel restrictive and don't allow for a lot of movement. Lowering them slightly has made such a difference. I no longer feel like there is too much fabric fighting for space under my armpit. To account for the change, I added a little extra to the sleeve cap to ensure the sleeves still fitted perfectly.

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The teal frayed badly, so much so I'm still finding threads throughout our flat despite a thorough clean up. To prevent any of the frays escaping, I bound all of the seams and the hem using the same fabric. The binding is cut on grain rather than the bias (not enough left over fabric) but it seems to be flexible enough to cope with the curves of the neckline and the arms. This took a while as I slip stitched one side of each seam to give me extra control in making sure nothing could escape. 

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I've worn this top a couple of times. I'm very pleased with the overall fit, it doesn't feel too loose or too snug. I can pull it on and off without any problems. I love having the extra movement in the sleeves and that the scallops hit perfectly at my elbows. It is lightweight and perfect for the spring days that seem to be arriving with more frequency here. 

It seems Laurel has finally made up with me.

A fight just before Christmas

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a good evening saying goodbye to 2013 and welcoming 2014. We had a lovely relaxed evening in Derby with some friends, just what was needed after a pretty busy year. I wanted to share the other two Christmas presents that I made. I hope you don't mind seeing late makes from last year - there are a couple of posts still to come!

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First is a dressing gown that my Mum asked for. It came with a few requests - must be made out of cotton (this is a summer dressing gown), long and lilac. Lilac was very important. I chose Kiwi Sew 3644 for the pattern. It is a classic dressing gown with a few options for customising. After a few hours of looking online for the perfect fabric I decided to make most of the gown in Kona solid lilac and Petite Flowers by Petite Street, which is light grey and has different coloured flowers. 

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There isn't much to say about the construction, it was rather simple to complete. I made an minor alteration to the front as the sizes were slightly off - either too big or too small. Cutting out took a while as the pieces are sooooo long! Once I got past that the whole thing came together without a hitch in less than hour as it mostly just long single lines for the seams. The most involved part was adding the cuffs and the pockets. Mum was very happy with the fabric choices and tried it on Christmas Eve - it fitted perfectly. Now we just need the warmer weather so it can come out of the wardrobe. 

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Dad travels a lot and I decided to make him this fabric garment bag that I spotted on Pinterest. The tale of this make is in stark contrast to the dressing gown!

First, there are a lot of pieces. You need to cut almost the same number in the outer fabric, inner fabric and batting. You also need to measure out every piece. I wanted this bag to be waterproof and found some great waterproof backed PU fabric from Remnant House. To give it added interest (and because I don't do plain linings) I chose a white cotton with blue circles for the inner fabric.  

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If you are planning to make something like this, I recommend that you read the tutorial thoroughly before starting. I did but still got a little lost midway through as it calls for you to place all the pieces together so you can neaten the edges to the same size. What it didn't say was to then separate them. I got completely confused! I would also think very carefully about your fabric choice. I knew this bag would be thick in places but I didn't anticipate it becoming a monster! It was an absolutely nightmare to sew the entire thing together. It took about 30 minutes for one side and the same again for the other. I had to use a slow speed to prevent skipped stitches and there were moments where I was worried my poor little machine wouldn't be able to cope. Luckily we both survived without any broken needles but my hands still have the many scratch marks from all of the pins needed. This is the reason why my corners aren't as neat as they should be but the thought of unpicking and then pushing my machine to sew that lot again just wasn't an option. 

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The tutorial states for batting to be included in the handles. I skipped this part. I tried to make them but I just couldn't get them to turn out right and as I was literally burning the midnight oil I thought it was best for everyone if I left out the batting. The handles seem very sturdy without it. You also need separating zips, which took a while to track down. I'm pleased I used them but I think you can use other heavy weight zips if you can't find them. 

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As with my brother's bag I was a little worried about how this would be received. I don't know why as Dad absolutely loved it and showed it to everyone who came round to visit over Christmas. 

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I was lucky enough to get sewing related gifts - the Robson coat and Bellatrix blazer patterns, Fit for Real People and a couple of Craftsy courses. I was very excited about all of them and then my brother gave me a belated present. Meet Jessica! I can't wait to test a few items on her. 

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Completed: Cooper bag

I hope you all had a good Christmas Day with some sewing related surprises. My last week as been a blur of seeing friends, getting ready for Christmas and some frantic sewing to ensure I actually made handmade presents this year. I really wanted to make something for my immediate family and wondered what on earth I could make my brother? I dwelled on this question for a long time and then Colette released the Cooper pattern. Hooray! 

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I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it. In addition to the three styles that are included, there seems to be endless opportunities to tweak the pattern and you are limited only by your imagination on the fabric choices and colours. For this bag, I decided to follow the advice of Colette and chose cotton canvas for the outer fabric. I bought dark olive and khaki from Croft Mill. This fabric is absolutely delightful, so much so I actually considered keeping it for me but realised that might be a bit mean! It is very soft (one side feels a little like brushed cotton) but strong and survives ripping out seams well (more on that later) as well as pressing on a high heat. 

Given the weather we've been experiencing, I wanted the bag to be waterproof.  I struggled to find a waterproof fabric that would match and ended up getting a light green and white check oilcloth. I'll admit it looks a little like a tablecloth but at least it matches! I had trouble stitching the lining as it stuck to my machine but sewing between tracing paper soon got me back on track. I wasn't sure about pressing oilcloth (I didn't research how to work with this stuff) so pressed it lightly under a clean tea towel, which doubles as a pressing cloth. It certainly softened under a little heat and made it easier to work with. 

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The construction is quite easy, as long as you take notice of the markings on each piece and read which sides need to go together. I must have ripped out the bottom gusset and side seams three or four times as I kept making the same silly mistake. The canvas stood up to this unpicking very well. It was my first time working with magnetic snaps (they go in quite easily) and using jiffy rivets. I was excited about using a hammer in sewing but it turns out our tent mallet is a little too big for the job. I had to use the side of my shears instead. 

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There is a lot of edge stitching and top stitching involved and I've finally gotten over my fear of both, although my edge stitching still isn't as close to the edge as it should be... The strap was made from the leftover khaki canvas. It is very easy to assemble and stitch in place but I did use the tutorial to double check that I was working with the correct side. The slide and square loop were recycled from another bag. 

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I am really pleased with how this turned out and even better, my brother loved it!

Sewing presents

Thanks to all of you who commented on my last post. I took me a while (3 months!) to decide whether to publish it but it felt like the right thing to do. I feel that the more people speak out about their experiences, the easier it will be for others to do the same and the stigma around mental health illnesses will decrease. Good mental wellbeing is important for us all. Thanks also for the birthday wishes. We had an amazing time in New York and I spent my birthday up the Empire State Building, wandering along the Highline and in Mood (more on that later).

On to the sewing related stuff! I received a number of sewing related birthday presents. My family, friends and work colleagues have been so generous over the last week and I have been completely spoilt! 

My friend Amy got me some Sheffield steel thread clippers. I've used them a couple of times and they are great. A little heavier than my small scissors but they are sharper!

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Kelly gave me this beautiful fabric and I can see something summery in it. I haven't quite got to which pattern yet. She also got me the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. There are so many techniques in there I want to try and it might even help me in my quest to perfect quilting!

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Identifying and understanding fabrics is a weak spot for me. Hopefully I will learn quite a lot from The Swatch Book which Adam gave me. He also surprised me with my very own iPad! I've been complaining that I couldn't access many apps and he came to the rescue. So, for those of you have an iPad - can you recommend any great apps that are great for sewing, made your life a little easier or are just great fun?

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When we arrived at the hotel in New York I was surprised to find a present there for me. A colleague had arranged for a gift card from Mood. I was so taken aback and then doubly excited about visiting. That place is amazing! I felt slightly overwhelmed when I walked in but after a couple of moments found it quite easy to navigate. I came away with three pieces of fabric and stocked up on small zips. 

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The denim is dark indigo and I'm planning a Miette skirt. The other two are cottons. I'm not sure if they will become tops or dresses yet so I bought enough for a dress just in case! 

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I couldn't resist these buttons! 

And finally my family have clubbed together to get me an overlocker! I haven't had chance to look at which one I would like yet but that is something to look forward to over the next few weeks.  I do feel very lucky to have received these and can't wait to get going with them. 

Magpie outfits part 2

This is the final post about the magpie photo shoot I did recently. 

Outfit two

This outfit was inspired by a sitting magpie. If you look at their folded wings they make a rather neat chevron and I wanted to capture that in this outfit.  The front of the bodice is made from three pieces. The top black section, made from the same poly satin as the other outfits, has shoulder darts. The top seam of the white chevron, also poly satin, is topstitched in place. The green layer, made from a scarf I found in a local charity shop, is also topstitched in place. The back is black with two darts. The bodice closes at the side with a zip. 

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The model would have short hair and I needed a high neckline. The original plan was to add a green trim around the neck but I couldn't find anything that matched well enough and I also worried about how the bodice would go over the models head! I raised the neckline substantially and put a zip into one of the shoulder seams. The sleeves are cute capped ones. 

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I wanted a skirt to match the bodice. I found a good quality pair of size 18 trousers in the charity shop and refashioned it into a skirt. I unpicked the inside seams and stitched them at the back after taking in about 3 inches. I decided to make a curved hem at the front to break up the solid colours and also to illustrate the magpie's tail. After a lot of pressing the curve did eventually lie flat. 

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This outfit was finished with a couple of necklaces and a pair of black heels. 

Outfit three

In many ways this outfit was the simplest. The model for this outfit was blonde and it was important that the colours amplified the hair style rather than took away from it. She also had short hair which meant I need to create a higher neckline. 

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The top is essentially a shirt pattern without the button holes. This wasn't the original idea which was a top with a turtle neck but that quickly became unachievable as I was using a woven fabric rather than a knit. I decided I needed a stand up collar instead and settled on a variation of the Mandarin collar. This changed the design of the top from a fitted bodice to a slightly looser shirt with a wide placket at the front. The collar, interfaced with a thick cotton to add stability, joins midway through the placket and overlaps slightly. The shirt closes with poppers. I'll admit that I completely improvised this pattern but somehow it worked out. 

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The sleeves are from the same pattern as the blue dress and again represent the wings of a magpie. They are more successful in this top as they are set into a full armscye.  The flash of purple comes a tassel made from medium thickness cord with white electrical tape wrapped around the ends. It was held into place with a large brooch. 

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I'm really pleased with how they all turned out. Would I do it again? Quite possibly. It was a lot of work but it was a chance to nudge my pattern drafting skills along. This is something I definitely need to find more time for. 

Magpie outfits part 1

I won't be giving away too many details of the overall collection but I promised details of the outfits I made for the shoot last week. The theme for the collection was Magpies, which I was quite excited about as it offers many options for shapes, colours and textures. The era of inspiration was Victorian Gothic which gave additional possibilities. 

I quickly sketched out six designs before meeting Andreea for a drink to decide on the styles and colours for each outfit. This was a very useful meeting as Andreea already had the hair styles in mind and knew which colour would suit which model. Each model would be predominantly in black with highlights of one particular colour - blue, purple or green. By the end of the evening I had three styles that were a mix of the six I started off with. 

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I knew from the start that I wanted to draft the patterns myself and used my block throughout. This would give me the push I needed to put into practice what I had learnt in the spring on my pattern drafting course and to learn more techniques. The other, probably more important, reason was to avoid any potential IP or copyright issues as the photos will be professional ones. 

So onto the individual outfits. I'll share one today (as the original post was loooong) and the other two later to save you going crossed eyed or just getting bored!  

Outfit one

The first outfit I started was the blue one, as it was the one I was most excited by. The model would have long hair which meant the neckline needed to be low, ideally to show of the collar bone to make sure the outfit did not compete with the hair. This outfit is the one where Victorian gothic is shown in full force. 

The bodice has princess seams at the front and the back. Drafting them was a new experience for me and I used this wonderful tutorial by Sunni. The pattern extends by a few inches around the shoulders and the seam line is on the outside of the arm. It has an invisible zip on the side which I put in by hand. The bodice is made from poly satin and the seam allowance has been overlocked as this stuff frays like you will not believe. 

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The sleeves are wide and represent the wings of the magpie. They are made from a poly chiffon. If you look carefully enough you can see how they join the bodice rather awkwardly in places. This is because I had trouble drafting a sleeve - it is much harder than I imagined it to be and I have a lot to learn. The cuffs are two standard rectangles, one from white poly satin and one from cobalt silk, folded in half and then stitched together. The sleeves are gathered at the cuffs. 

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The finishing touch to the bodice was this beautiful cobalt lace that I found on Etsy and had shipped all the way from California. I can recommend Suzi from MaryNotMartha, she answered my question about the colour and then processed my order quickly so it arrived in time. I tacked the lace by hand as stitching by machine would have hit several sequins and ruined the flowers. 

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A bodice like this one could only have a particular partner. It was screaming out for a full circle skirt that hit the floor. Drafting the pattern for this was the quickest part in creating the skirt even though I was fighting with tracing paper as my table isn't big enough to fit the pattern piece on. Ideally I would have cut the skirt on the fold but that just wasn't going to happen. If I couldn't fit the piece on my table, there was no way the fabric would be wide enough to be on the fold. I had to cut out the four pieces in the hall. 

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It is finished with a rectangular waist band and closed with an invisible zip. The seams are overlocked and this is the main reason why all three outfits ate over 500m of black thread! The bottom hem was overlocked twice to give a false rolled hem. I knew that this hem would be problematic on set and it was. There was an inch and half difference in some places which led to a re-hem before the shoot started. I tried on the skirt prior to the shoot and realised at once that it needed some support. A friend came to the rescue with a knee length petticoat. It worked very well.

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The outfit was finished off with a black beaded necklace and a large glossy blue ring but unfortunately I didn't get photos of the accessories. 

A lesson learned

What do you do when you have no option but to sew in the lounge and your boyfriend's TV viewing is interrupted by the whirling of your sewing machine? To the point that the subtitles go on? Well, I could just leave it but I try to be more considerate than that. 

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I made a mat to put under my machine in the hope that it would dampen the noise. The jury is still out but at the very least it provides some extra protection to the table to. 

I had some left over batting that seemed the most logical thing to use. To make the mat look pretty I thought I could use up some my scraps and then quilt it. I would use the leftover fabric from my Laurel as the back and bias. A quick look around the internet led me to half square triangles. I had plans for nice, neat edges that matched up perfectly.

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Turns out I was doomed from the beginning. I struggled to get the squares the right size, even with using a template. However, I didn't realise this until I had created the triangles! I thought about trying to straighten up the squares with my shears but caved in and bought a rotary cutter. I honestly don't know why I didn't buy one before. 

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Sadly, the magic of the cutter didn't work. While I ended up with squares that were uniform in size, the centre seams were off, horrendously off in many cases. I could see just how off once I had stitched several of them together. I almost threw them away, to start again from scratch but realised that many of the imperfect matches were going to live underneath my machine. No one would see them! 

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So I pushed on. The quilting was interesting as I needed to use the seam lines as a guide for the pattern but of course they weren't helpful in many places! If you squint, you can see how uneven the stitching lines are on the back.

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Ah well, it isn't perfect but it will do. And I learnt a lesson: cutting accurately for patchwork at the beginning of the project really is essential for a nice finish. I must remember this for my next project as I'm planning Christmas presents now...

The cutest thing I have sewn

A little while ago a friend had a little girl which meant only thing - sewing for tiny people!

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I spent a long time browsing patterns and finally settled on the Seaside Sailor Dress by tie dye Diva patterns. I just couldn't resist the collar!

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My stash provided the perfect fabric. I had some left over pink cotton with pink and white swirls made of dots. I paired it with a thick white cotton for the collar. The trim is made by using a decorative stitch on my machine. Simple white buttons are the finishing touch. 

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Being so small it didn't take long to sew, probably 90 minutes. I started it late one night and finished it the following day. Thankfully my sewing machine did the buttonholes perfectly this time. The longest part was ensuring the gathering of the skirt was even all the way round. All of the seams are enclosed and stitched down securely. 

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I would definitely use this pattern again should any more of my friends have little girls...

Create an envelope cushion

I recently made four envelope cushions as a birthday present for Adam's mum (Hi Frances!) and thought I would share the construction with you. They really are very simple to make but they do require a teeny bit of maths. I've detailed the construction of a very simple cover but you can customise to your hearts content! 

What you need:

A Cushion to cover

Fabric

Trims such as piping, buttons (optional) 

Step one

Let's get the maths out of the way, otherwise you won't know what size to cut your fabric. First, you need to know the size of the cushion you are going to cover. 

You will need to create three pieces for the cover. The front is cut to the exact measurements of your cushion. You will sew the cover together with a 1cm seam allowance - this will give the cushion a more upholstered, filled look. 

For the back pieces, they will be the same height as your cushion but they won't be as wide. You need to decide how much overlap you want on these pieces. Many decide on a third of the width of the cushion but I went for a little more so none of the filler could be seen. You then need to add 2cm for the seam allowance. 

Here are the measurements I used:

Front: 50cm x 50cm

Back: 50cm x 39cm (half the width of cushion + generous overlap + 2cm seam allowance) You can see the generous overlap in the photo below, it is about 12cm. 

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Step two

Mark your fabric with your measurements and cut out the pieces. If you are adding detail to the front cover such as a pleat add this now. I did for one of the designs. 

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Step three

Add your piping or trim to the right side of the front cover. Do this by starting somewhere inconspicuous enough to hide the join. I would suggest at the centre of the bottom seam. Pin the raw edges together but leave a tail of a few centimetres. When you reach the corner, turn the piping/trim into a tight corner and pin in place. Continue all the way around. 

The join will be different for piping to a trim.

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Trim

Begin stitching the trim in place a few centimetres from the centre. Stitch all the way round and finish a few centimetres from the centre. Fold the fabric in half and pin the trim at this point being careful not to catch the main fabric. Stitch the trim along that line and then trim the seam allowance. Finish sewing the trim in place. 

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Piping

You want to create a curve with the edges of the piping at the join. Do this by laying one end of the pining across the other before you begin stitching. Stitch all the way around the sides. Continue stitching in a straight line when you reach the join. Trim the seam allowance. 

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Step four

Take your back pieces. Turn under the overlapping seam by 1cm and then another 1cm. Stitch in place. 

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Step five

Pin one back piece to the front cover and then the other. They will overlap at the top and bottom. Stitch all the way around using a 1cm seam allowance. 

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Step six

Turn the cover through to the right sides and press if needed. Add the cushion filler and you're finished!

Here are close ups of the ones I made. I can't take credit for choosing the fabric though, Adam chose them. 

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I made a quilt!

A couple of weeks ago I was racking my brains for ideas of a present for my mum for Mother’s day. Flowers are great but I wanted to give her something a more meaningful. In case you’re wondering, I’m ok to post this as my mum wouldn’t have a clue where to find my blog! The recent cold weather made a quilt seem the perfect gift and I immediately set about working on a design. I spent a couple of hours looking online for fabric as I wanted to base it around the colours of her bedroom. Here are three I settled on:

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The design was simple. Six fabrics which would form diagonal rows with a solid backing and a pretty trim. Because I was up against a deadline I took a production line approach. I cut out all of the squares (each 5 3/4 inches) and then pinned and sewed each row before adding each of them together. I have no idea if this is the best to create a top but it certainly worked. I was surprised at how satisfying it was to see the columns and thus the design come together. This took a couple of evenings. 

Yesterday I attached the batting and the backing. 

I had been struggling to decide on which pattern to sew and then came across this post by Jane of Handmade Jane and realised it was perfect - simple but effective! I should say that I had come up with the top design before coming across this - great minds. Armed with my ruler and Frixon pen I drew my stitching lines. Have you come across Frixon pens? They are made by Pilot and the ink disappears under heat. You need to be careful as not all fabrics react well, the brown linen on the top had faint white marks after I pressed them and the ink disappeared. 

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The trim is pink cotton bought from the delightful Darn It and Stitch in Oxford and is secured by a faggot stitch - it just looked so pretty! This one is by no means perfect but I did have fun making it. I’m not sure I will become a dedicated quilter but I can see myself making a few more for gifts or maybe one for me for next winter. If I do decide to make another I’m definitely investing in a rotary cutter! Anyway, here are a few photos of the finished article:

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Pretty in pink and green

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