Sewchet

Sewing, crochet, crafts, accessories, baking, tutorials,


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#Stitching Santa Update – Upcycled Cross Stitch

A couple of weeks ago I rescued this beautiful cross stitch from our local charity shop. It was mounted and framed but needed reinventing into something more usable in today’s modern life and was far too wonderful to leave there.

Only measuring a modest 5″ x 7″, I ummed and aahed about what to do with it for a while, having some brilliant suggestions on Instagram.

Ultimately, this is for one of my Stitching Santa recipients (I’m doing both sewing and yarny versions) so I wanted to make it a useful object. This lady is multi-talented across many craft disciplines, as are so many of my blogging pals, and she dabbles in cross stitch herself so I thought this would be perfect for her.

I decided to make a zipped pouch, about the size of a cosmetic bag, which could have a variety of different uses. Maybe for a portable cross stitch project, a small crochet or knitting project, or maybe as an actual cosmetic bag – it is rather swanky, after all!

So here’s a quick run-through of what I did, which might be informative if you have a similar piece of needlework that needs reinventing.

It had been spray-mounted to card and well laced across the back, so all that had to be undone. I then gave it a little steam press.

After trimming the needlework to a useable size, I used it as a template to cut two lining pieces and a back.

Iron-on interfacing was attached to the reverse of the front and back sections to stabilise the bag.

I used the covered tab method for the zip to give as neat a finish as possible (there are plenty of tutorials online on how to do this).

The zipper tabs should be about 1/4″ shorter than the width of the bag to ensure that they don’t get caught in the seam allowance when the bag is stitched together.

After inserting the zip, I topstitched close to the seam through the lining as well. This means that the fabric won’t get stuck in the zip when opening and closing.

OPEN the zip.

With lining-to-lining and front-to-back (right sides together) stitch all the way around, leaving a gap in the lining through which to turn.

Be sure not to catch the tabs in the seam as you sew.

Trim the tabs to reduce bulk.

Cut across all the corners before turning the right way out.

Close the gap in the lining either by hand or machine.

I added a coordinating leather tassel from my supplies.

The sequinned fabric is a small piece cut from a length of fabric that will become a dress later in the week. It adds a touch of glamour.

Some matching blue lining is a nice vibrant surprise when you look inside.

I hope she likes it!


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Portable Doll’s House

When Issue 62 of Mollie Makes dropped through the letterbox, it was a good one. See the text on the front saying “Kid’s Doll House”? 

Easily missed, I know, but when I opened it onto the relevant page I did a little virtual skip – this would be the perfect present for a little three year old girl in the family.

A fold-out doll’s house, ideal for taking out and about to keep any little girl entertained (and better than handing over your smart phone, any day).

The details were a joy to put together and customise with whatever scraps of fabric I had to hand.

See, I told you that bag full of two-inch scraps would come in handy one day. I can’t throw any fabric out, no matter how minuscule the leftovers.

The teeny tiny tea set could have Velcro on the back for an older child, to make it removeable. As this was for a toddler, I sewed them to the table permanently.

Some of the bits were embroidered by hand….

….and others were stitched on by machine.

Dolly herself also has a dress and some hair bows, but those will have to follow in the post as I didn’t have time to make them before we visited.

Here’s the bed which is open for the doll to get in. She even has a little removeable pillow.

Of course, she needs a bedside rug to step out onto.

A bedside table has open-topped drawers to store those hair bows, and a little lamp.

I added a last minute dog in its basket, for added fun. Kids love things that ‘do’ something, don’t they?

The bathroom had some lovely details, like the bubbles and towel rail. I embroidered the tap using metallic gold thread to make it more realistic.

Once everything had been sewn on, it was just a case of attaching the front to the back and then turning it right side out.

Roof on, handles added.


Isn’t that just the cutest front door?

So, the house opens up and lays flat for play, like this: –

To close it, you simply fold the side in…..

….fold the bottom up to meet the top and then fasten the popper.

It transforms quickly and easily into a ‘bag’ with carry handles – simple enough for any toddler to use without help.

The iron test is, of course, if the girl in question actually likes it.

What do you think?!


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Sunday Sevens #101

Time for another Sunday Sevens as thought up by Nat at Threads & Bobbins – click here to find out more and how you can join in, too.

  1. The Boys both won their football matches quite convincingly this weekend. No.2 Son’s team won 9-0 and he scored a hat trick. No.3 Son’s team won 5-2.

2. I treated myself to this mug by Wrendale Designs – I love this particular range and I’m hoping this is the first in a collection that will fill the hooks on my newly renovated dresser. Might have to put them on my Christmas list though, as they’re a bit of a luxury at ten pounds each.

3. I have a few commissions already for Christmas and this is my favourite so far – four kids’ bobble hats. I’ve made a sample in cream complete with the fabulous pom pom, which I love. The commissioned hats will have faux fur bobbles though, as preferred by my client.

4. Sewing lessons are still going strong – this is one of my Thursday after school groups.

5. Looking ahead to this year’s #stitchingsanta, I have been collecting goodies as and when I see them and thought that one (or both) of these books would be good for the knitting one. Just one pound each in our local charity shop, I’m sorely tempted to keep them for myself…..

6. I also picked up this cute little pot which will be perfect for all those patés that I make.

7. Talking of cooking, this is a new favourite of my ever-hungry family – a sausage plait. Delicious hot or, even better, cold in lunch boxes to make a change from sandwiches.

8. Jam making began in earnest this week and I am so glad I invested in this gadget a few years ago. It’s a vegetable mill and takes the effort out of removing seeds from blackberries.

9. Batch one is labelled and in the store cupboard. This jar went to the chap who, very generously, put his surplus apples out on his wall for you to help yourself.

10. Friday evening promised to be one of the last opportunities to have a picnic, so 11 adults and 19 children met in the park for cricket and a picnic tea. I took a platter of paella, still piping hot from the oven. Yum!

11. No.3 Son finished his corduroy trousers in time for the Autumn chill which has just arrived.

12. I made a very successful batch of Yorkshire puddings. Sadly, they don’t always rise as well as this.

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13. Mr H-L has dropped two stones without really trying, annoying though that might sound. He now has two brand new suits costing £400 each which fall round his ankles at the slightest tug. What a waste!

14. We went to our dear friends’ house for a lamb roast on Saturday – what a great night that was!

15. I can’t finish without showing you their inventive solution to the toilet problem. With fifty guests and only one toilet, our host came up with this idea for a homemade urinal, situated around the side of the shed. A water bottle (the kind you get in offices) trimmed and attached to a pipe which led into a tray full of cat litter to soak up the liquid and any nasty smells – genius! There was even a privacy screen, battery powered light and alcohol handwash, too.


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American Girl Doll’s Clothes

Last month, No.2 Son was invited to his girlfriend’s birthday party (they’re both ten) so I had to come up with an appropriate gift idea – no mean feat when you’re used to buying for boys.

I don’t know about you, but the amount of parties The Boys get invited to means that you can end up spending a small fortune throughout the year in presents, even though I try to spend no more than £10 maximum per child.

£10 doesn’t buy much nowadays, unless you opt for the useful book token which, despite being a great gift which kids love to spend, is hard to get excited about when you open it. You never hear “WOW! It’s just what I’ve always wanted – thank you!”

So I had a little think and remembered that this little girl had recently been to America on holiday and had come back with a “Truly Me” American Girl doll.

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Apparently, these dolls are a bit of a cult item in the USA with girls and women alike, and you can choose the skin, hair and eye colour to match your own.

With the doll itself costing $115 and each item of clothing costing upwards of $10, she, understandably, had a very limited wardrobe thus far.

So I decided to put aside a whole day and make some clothes for her.

With a bit of searching on the internet, I found several patterns suitable for an 18″ doll, and these are what I came up with.

Remember THAT hoodie I made earlier in the Summer? Well, I used some of the leftover fabric to make a sweatshirt for the doll with popper closures at the back.

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I matched the sweatshirt with some purple elasticated jogging bottoms and that was one outfit completed.

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Using the same T-shirt pattern as for the sweatshirt, I made a plain white Tee to which I added a ruffle to jazz it up a bit.american-girl-doll-skirt

A velcro back was used this time.

The little lace-trimmed  A-line skirt took hardly any fabric at all and was whipped up in minutes, again with a velcro back fastening.

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Next up was a simple dress which could be worn on its own or with the white ruffle tee as before.

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I knew a ‘proper’ dress would be appreciated, so this next one took a little more effort, adding full lining and ric rac trim at the waist and hem.

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I even inserted a back zip to make it more special.

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Finally, one more top, this time in blue, and a coordinating elasticated straight skirt with side splits.

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I can’t tell you quite how much fun I had making them all and, not only that, I worked out that, had similar outfits been purchased, the cost would have been upwards of £/$100!

And guess what? She said: –

“WOW! It’s just what I always wanted – thank you!”


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Sunday Sevens #91

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series thought up by Nat at Threads & Bobbins – click on the link to find out more and how YOU can join in.

1. Back from Spain in the early hours of Wednesday morning (7th June – I’m still catching up), I had to get organised pretty instantly. The school fair was in four days time and I still had loads to do as, not only was I making things for the school,  but was also having a stand for The Stitch Academy AND running a fashion show for my students. 

I started by making samples for the Summer workshops which I would be advertising on my stand – Pyjamas and Sleep Mask, and an Owl Cushion/PJ Case.


2. Next, I made the Miette skirt by Tilly and the Buttons, also a future workshop or maybe weekly lessons. Raspberry coloured linen which hangs really well for this style.


3. The woman who loved my cross-body bags but wanted one in grey with a star on it had her wish granted! Luckily, she turned up at the fair wearing a grey T-shirt with a star on the front and snapped this bag up straight away.


4. The Elderflower cordial that had been brewing while we were on holiday was bottled and labelled. Here they are on the stall at the back on the far left. They all sold. Two one-litre bottles at £4 each and four 75cl bottles at £3 each, for anyone who is wondering how to price things at a school fair. It cost £2.74 for the sugar and lemons (the bottles were old lemonade ones) and sold for £20 – a nice little profit for their funds and SO easy to make.

The bunting I made for our wedding is hanging at the back of the tent:)


5. Mr. H-L actually made the marmalade this year as I was busy sewing. They’re the jars on the tray with the blue fabric ‘hats’. Ten small jars (half normal size) all sold for £1.50 each. They cost about £3 in total make and, again, the jars were recycled.

I also made forty scones on the morning of the fair so they were nice and fresh.


6. Oh, I almost forgot – after making the scones, I quickly traced off and made a Coco top as the fair wasn’t until one o’clock!!

7. My stand at the fair which was a huge success, enrolling more students and premiering my new adult classes to the villagers. A Tilly and the Buttons Margot Pyjamas workshop is almost booked up! (Thurs 14th July if anyone is interested).


8. A dozen of my students took part in a fashion show at the fair which they absolutely loved, showing off the things they had made over the past nine months since The Stitch Academy started.


9. No.3 Son stole the show with his antics!

10. He certainly made the most of his moment in the spotlight!


11. In other news….this cardboard city is a window display in a boarded up solicitor’s premises. Random, but brilliant.


13. N0.3 Son wanted to make the butter this time.

Here he is squeezing out all that lovely buttermilk which made some scones later in the day.

14. My Victorian butter paddles do their job nicely.

15. There, finished!

16. Perfect spread thickly on some Date and Walnut bread still warm from the oven!


17. ‘Chalky’, our Chalkhill Blue hen, laid her first blue egg!

18. The next day she laid her second, both of which were massive for such a small hen and this is the reason why – both were double yolkers!


19. Teaching pattern drafting to a student, this week, a basic trouser block.


20. I had almost finished a cardigan as a Christmas present from leftover yarn (thrifty, as ever) but ran out only to discover that it had been discontinued – oh s**t! 

I ended up unravelling four inches of a scarf in order to scavenge enough yarn to complete the cardigan. Luckily, the scarf was a) for me and b) REALLY long in the first place so no harm was done.


21. I got out all the components of my July make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network – but never got around to starting it. Next week, maybe.


22. Three homemade cards amongst those sent from our six (between us) children to Mr H-L on Father’s Day.

23. A pair of Star Wars flip flops, bottle of malt whisky, a coffee cake, homemade brandy truffles and, from his girls in Brighton, a dozen rock oysters!

24. What a great end to a hectic week!


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Make-Your-Own Espadrilles

Another day, another birthday present to make, only this time it is something a bit unusual – a pair of handmade espadrilles!

I’ve made slippers and things along those lines before, but never a bonafide pair of shoes.

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The soles were by Prym and purchased online from The Makery in Bath.

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The box includes templates for the uppers in various adult sizes, but I heeded advice from others who have previously made them and went down a size when making them. I cut out a UK size 5 for the recipient who has size 6 feet, and they fitted perfectly without slipping off.

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Although there were no instructions in the box, full step-by-step photographs can be found on the Prym website and it was those I followed.

If you are tempted to have a go at these be aware that seam allowances are NOT included – you have to add your own before cutting out!

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I had a small amount of “Rosetta” fabric left over from making this cushion and make up bag, and decided to team it with a deep pink spotty lining.

The pattern consists of just two pieces – one for across the front and one for the heel.

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I added some fusible interfacing to the outside sections just to give the shoe some extra strength and stability.

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I also stretched a two-inch length of narrow elastic at the ankle edge just to make sure the shoes would stay on.

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The main fabric is sewn to the lining right sides together, then turned through a gap left in the stitching.

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I top stitched the elastic through all the layers for a strong and neat finish.

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The toe section is sewn and turned in exactly the same way, cutting across the corners and notching around the curves as necessary.

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Next comes the fun bit!

You will need a leather needle to sew through the soles as the wedged point makes light work of it where a standard needle would hurt your finger after a while.

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The heel section is pinned to the sole…..

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….inserting the pins at an angle as shown below.

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I used three strands of embroidery floss to secure the fabric to the sole, using a blanket stitch.

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When the heel section is stitched on it should look like this: –

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Next, the front is pinned on in a similar fashion, overlapping the heel section.

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Blanket stitch is used all the way around the front and also to join the sides together.

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A “hand made with love” label adds a personal touch.

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That’s it – finished!

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I thought I’d better show you what they look like on – have you any idea how difficult it is to take photographs of yourself wearing shoes?!

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In the end I put my feet up on the table in my studio……

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I’m pleased to report that the recipient was very pleased with her bespoke shoes and put them on immediately – they fit perfectly!

Has anyone else handmade their own espadrilles before?


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Jam, Flowers and WIP

Wow, we’ve got loads of blackberries this year! Sadly we won’t have as many next year because, whilst we were away, my son thoughtfully pruned the overhanging branches (quote – “Only the ones with no blackberries on”). He has unwittingly removed most of the growth that was going to produce next year’s fruit!! Hey ho, these things happen. blackberries

blackberryThe Girls eat as many as they can reach; it’s hilarious watching the way they flap with all their might in an effort to jump higher to get to the juicy, ripe ones which are just out of pecking distance!

hen eating blackberriesI am going to make as much blackberry and apple jam as I can this year in the hope that it will last longer. First two batches are in jars awaiting ‘hats’ and labels. I always give some away as Christmas presents paired with matching jars of homemade marmalade or another jam, so gingham hats and raffia ties are a must!

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They look rather nice as homemade gifts go!

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For our own use, I transfer jam from the jars into a lovely vintage jam pot. The lid was dropped onto the tiled floor and, unfortunately, didn’t survive, but I still love it.

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Of course, there’s always a little bit left over that has to go through Quality Control….

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If you let your hens free-range as we do, you’ll know that growing flowers in the garden is nearly impossible so my lovely husband brings home glorious blooms on a regular basis. Even so, the cheeky chickens still hop onto the coffee table to peck at the stamens! These should be safe though, as they’re well out of the way up on the dining table.

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I know lilies are associated with funerals and many people don’t like them for that reason, but I absolutely love, love, LOVE them!

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I wouldn’t dream of removing the stamens that stain everything a dark orange either; they’re just so pretty:)

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I wish I could paint – I would have my own watercolour floral masterpieces clinging to the walls like wallpaper….but alas my creative talents lie in a different direction.

Talking of which, here are a couple of WIPs – this one just waiting the addition of a few bits of hardware that are marked by eBay as ‘dispatched’…

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…and this one. In the words of Rolf Harris “Can you guess what it is yet?”.

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And no, it’s not another basket. Intrigued? Watch this space….!