Friday, 25 September 2015

make a punched soft leather & felt purse

... a punched soft leather purse with contrasting felt lining ...

you will need:

soft leather: 32cm x 14cm

contrasting felt: 32cm x 14cm plus 2cm square

3mm hole punch

7mm curved lino cutter
magnetic snap fastener
sharp scissors

pinking shears

masking tape

steel ruler and scalpel (optional)
sewing machine & threads
fabric glue

1 Print out the template and cut it out. Using small strips of masking tape, attach it to the right side of your strip of leather and firstly punch out the dots with a 3mm leather punch, then use two cuts with the lino tool to cut out the petal shapes.
Use sharp scissors or a scalpel and steel ruler to cut the leather around the edge of the template.

step 1

2 Attach the two halves of the magnetic fastener to the leather 8cm from the straight end, and the felt 2cm from one end.

step 2

3 Use fabric glue to cover the back of the magnetic fastener with a 2cm square of felt.

step 3

4 Attach your leather strip, right side down, centred on the felt, with small strips of masking tape. Stitch along the top edge, 2mm from the edge of the leather. Finish the thread ends off using a needle. Trim the felt along the stitched edge with the pinking shears. With sharp scissors, cut the felt flush to the edge of the leather to a point 10.5cm down each side from the stitched edge.
step 4

5 With the leather side down, fold the bottom section up 10.5cm and attach along the pinked edge using strips of masking tape.
step 5

At this point, take care that you have folded accurately so that the front and back of the leather side edges align.

6 Turn your work over and carefully stitch through all four layers from one bottom (folded) corner, up to the point and down the other side, 2mm from the edge of the leather. Finish off the ends by hand with a needle and finally trim all the felt with the pinking shears. 

step 6

Monday, 7 September 2015

take a ball of string

... my 3rd book is out ...

... competition ...

I have a copy of ‘Take a Ball of String’ to give away! Have a look at the cover and tell me which kinds of string are featured – don’t be distracted by the colours, just the SIX different weights and makes. I used beautiful strings made by James Lever, so do take a look on their website for some clues…

Post your answers on my Facebook page and I'll get in touch with the winner! 

***congratulations Emily B! your book should arrive in the next few days***

Sunday, 30 August 2015

glasses case sewing kit

a handy, compact sewing kit - perfect for slipping in your bag when you're out and about...

You will need

old glasses case
30cm x 30cm of fabric (for outer)
30cm x 30cm of fabric (for lining)
10cm x 20cm scrap of fabric (for pincushion)
small amount of stuffing (for pincushion)
PVA glue
stiff glue brush
sewing needle,pins & scissors
sewing machine (optional)
2 small buttons
bone folder or knitting needle
blue-tack (optional) 

...a bit cruel, but I don't have proper step-by-step photographs for this project! You will find it easier using a glasses case which is 'square-isn' in shape, and fabrics which are fine in weight, and/or of fairly loose weave - this will assist smooth corners. If your fabric buckles at the corners, fold neat little pleats at the curves...

I've taken a few close up photos from the finished project to illustrate the instructions as best I can and slotted them into the steps below to clarify a bit more...

Cut an oblong of fabric several centimetres larger all around than the lid of your glasses case, and another for the base. With one of the fabric pieces right side down and laid horizontally in front of you, fold the bottom edge up by 5mm and glue into position – this edge will lay along the hinge of the case. Do the same with the other fabric piece and leave to one side to dry.
Cover the outside of your glasses case first – use PVA glue and a stiff glue brush to ‘stab’ the wrong side of the fabric first(see tip). Leave it for a few minutes so that the glue is not so wet
(this will prevent it from
oozing through the fabric when you apply it).

Centre the folded edge of the glued piece of fabric along the hinge, then gently smooth it out across the curved shape of the case, making use of the grain and bias of the fabric to reduce the wrinkling. Leave to dry.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the base of the case.
Trim the excess fabric down to 5mm all around the opening of the case. Apply glue to the rim and several mms inside the unhinged edges. Fold and smooth the fabric cover, rub it with the bone folder or end of a knitting needle to smooth it and leave to dry.

The best thing to do now is to make yourself a pattern for the lining of the case. Use a scrap of fabric and smooth it into position inside the glasses case, which should be open as wide as possible. You can use small pieces of blue tack to hold it in position while you do this. Trim it to fit exactly around all the edges. Remove your ‘pattern’ and use it to cut your floral 
lining fabric.
Repeat the gluing process
 to insert the lining, making 
sure your case is open as wide
 as possible when doing so. Use small sharp scissors to trim the raw edge 1mm or so below the edge of the case rim and rub it all the way around with the bone folder or the end of a knitting needle to ensure it is firmly attached.

Make a small pincushion by cutting two rectangles of fabric roughly half the length of your case and the width plus 2cm. Place the two pieces right sides together, and stitch a 1cm seam all the way around leaving a couple of centimetres for a turning gap. Turn right sides out through the gap, stuff and close the gap with small stitches by hand. Finally, stitch the two buttons to the centre of the pincushion, one on ether side with the fabric and stuffing sandwiched between.


Stab your loaded glue brush on a scrap of paper first, before applying it to the fabric – you don’t want it over-laden, especially when using finer fabrics, such as the lawn 
for the lining.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

vintage silk scarf cushions

nostalgic... vintage... kitsch ...

you will need:
a vintage scarf
backing fabric the same dimensions as the scarf
trim (the length of the circumference of your scarf + 2 cm)
sewing needle, threads and pins
sewing machine
sharp scissors

Iron the headscarf with a cool iron. Cut the backing fabric to the same size as the scarf. Turn a 1cm hem all the way around the scarf and tack.

step 1

2 Tack your chosen trim to all four sides of the back of the scarf.

step 2

3 Decide which is the bottom of your cushion (this may depend on the fabric design) and machine carefully, joining the trim to the scarf close to the edge, within 4cm of either end of the corners. These two hems (front and back) create the opening of your cushion.
Tack a hem on all edges of the backing fabric by 1cm and machine along one edge in the same way.

step 3

Now place the scarf with trim on top of the backing fabric, right sides facing outwards.

step 4

5 Tack through all layers (front, trim and backing) making sure the corners meet neatly and adjusting as necessaryUsing sewing thread which either matches or blends with the edge of the scarf, machine from the front, close to the edge, starting and slightly overlapping the cushion opening hem you have already stitched.

step 5

6 Reverse stitch at the beginning and end of this stitching to reinforce the opening when you put the cushion pad in. Put in the pad and close the opening with slipstitch.

if your scarf is thin
(as the orange one pictured here is)
it is a good idea to back it.

Cut a square of fabric exactly the same size as your scarf and tack them together before starting to make your cushion.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

braided rag rug

...use up old shirts and sheets
to make an oval rag rug...

 You will need:
scraps of cotton fabrics
(choose old shirting, shirts, sheets:
the longer strips you use the quicker it will be)
thread, sewing needle & sharp scissors
sewing machine (optional)
Cut or tear your fabrics into 10cm wide strips. Using an iron, fold a strip in half lengthways and press. Open up the fold out and press two more seams by folding the long edges to meet the centre fold line...

Step 1

Now fold along the central line to encase the raw edges.

step 2

Repeat this with twenty or so more lengths of fabric to start with
- more if you're on a roll.

Pile three strips on top of each other, align at one short end and stitch together by machine (or by hand), through all layers. 

Start braiding your three strips of fabric. As you near the end of each strip, join further ironed and folded strips on with a running stitch seam by hand (or by machine).

step 3

To start constructing your rug, take your braided fabric and, with the braid lying flat, twist it 360° to fold it back on itself 15cm from the stitched end. Use doubled thread and over stitch to join the edges of the plaits lying alongside each other. 

All your stitching is on the reverse of your rug.

step 4

5 Continue wrapping your braided 'rope' around and stitching it on.  Keep pressing, folding, adding on and braiding
strips of fabric as you go.

Be warned:
... as your rug gets bigger it grows more and more slowly!

step 5

To finish off your rug, when your are 15cm from the end, gradually position the braid of fabric so that it curls behind the edge it is being stitched to, to create a smooth contour.

turn your work right side up - hurrah! finished!

step 6

making tips

Don’t try to braid lengths of more than 1m at a time,
they will get knotted and twisted together
When sewing doubled thread knots easily, so keep your thread short too, again no more than about 1m.
Striped fabrics create soft speckles.
Try braiding different fabrics together.
This is a great project for using up fabrics you don't like! once braided and mixed with other fabrics, they take on a whole new life.
Use a thimble if your cotton is quite thick, to save sore fingers.

If your rug doesn’t lay flat, spray it lightly with water to make it damp (but not wet) and leave between flat surfaces overnight