Take five shirts …

Posted in: Made by hand

I set about making up a new keepsake cushion last week, this time using a selection of men’s shirts and jeans, and somehow in the process I stumbled upon a whole new challenge!

Five men's shirts

I had five shirts to work with, and would be using only relatively small patches of fabric from each. And so I started to ponder how I could use the remaining fabric, especially as some of these shirts include such pretty or interesting details …

Shirt detail

Shirt detail

And there lies the challenge … how many items can I make from five redundant shirts?

I already have plans for a summer skirt; a suntop; a cloth lunch bag … some quilting maybe … so if you have any ideas or links to tutorials for upcycling shirts I would love to hear about them!

But first, that keepsake cushion!

Keepsake cushion in process

Keepsake cushion in process

Keepsake Cushion

Not a bad start! I’ll let you know what comes next!

Keepsake Cushion

And if you’d like something similar custom made from much loved shirts, heirloom fabrics or your children’s outgrown clothes … you can custom order through my folksy shop!

 

… making it up as I go along!

Posted in: Made by hand

The thought of making something to wear has been with me for a while, and grew as I watched this years series of the Sewing Bee. I have been collecting inspiration for quite some time over on Pinterest and earlier this year, I found this fabric …

Merchant and Mills fabric

Wrung Newsprint Handloom fabric :: Merchant and Mills :: photograph copyright - Merchant and Mills

… from Merchant and Mills. And before I knew it a metre of the stuff was sitting at the top of my fabric stash.

And from then on, I really had no excuse. Except that the last time I made a top to actually wear it was probably about 1988! So, in my usual ‘make it up as I go along’ fashion, I selected a favourite top from the wardrobe, and used it as a template to cut the fabric. I am sorry now that I didn’t photograph the process!

A simple raglan sleeved top is just four pieces of fabric … plus some interfacing for the neckline. I roughly cut the four pieces, stitched the sleeves to the front and back pieces and draped the resulting ‘cape’ over myself to guage the shape and position of the neckline – after some careful trimming I felt happy that it sat where I wanted it to, and then used the resulting shape as a template to cut out the interfacing from a cotton print. As the weave of the two fabrics varied (the print being a tighter, sturdier weave than the main fabric, I needed to pin the interfacing in place before stitching (I rarely pin or tack whilst sewing … somehow it usually works without either!)

Before pinning in the interfacing though (and I realised this after pinning it in place), I needed to top stitch the raglan arm seams so that they would sit flat once the garment was complete!

After much fiddling, stitching, unpicking, re-adjusting, re-pinning and re-stitching – the interfacing felt ‘good enough’ for a first attempt!

Hand made top

And then to stitch up the side seams – I used an overlock stich on my machine for this. And then just hemming the bottom and cuffs to finish off. The bottom I turned up twice and stitched two parallel lines to give some stability (and to match the two parallel lines of stitching at the neckline). At the last minute I decided to turn up the cuffs on the outside, again folding the fabric twice and double stitching. This does mean that the overlocked seam of the arm is now visible at the cuff, but I feel ok with that!

Hand made top

In fact I feel ok with the whole project.

Hand made top

More than ok – I am really happy with how it has turned out.

 

So what are my ten top tips for ‘make it up as you go along’ sewing?

1. Use a favourite, well fitting, item of clothing as a template

2. Cut your fabric at least half an inch bigger in all directions

3. Place the pieces together – as if finished – before you even sew a single stitch – this ensures you have the right pieces, they roughly match where they should, and it gives you an idea of whether you are on the right track.

4. Be clear in your mind which seams you need to sew first – it is a bit like working out a construction project – if you are unsure, turn to google – the internet is full of sewing tutorials either in word form or video form – someone somewhere will have made up an item similar to yours.

5. Be prepared to unpick – redo – start again … this is part of the process of ‘making it up as you go along’, each u-turn is a learning opportunity.

6. Stitch and then iron – always – ironing the seams as you go along will improve the appearance of the finished item, but it also helps you to see how you are doing – puckers and wrinkles can sometimes be smoothed out by the iron, other times, it is at this stage that you see you may need to unpick and re-do … and that is fine … better to discover now than further down the line when a complete de-construction may be necessary.

7. Try the item on at every stage – this is the true test of whether you are on the right track – think of the process as a triangle – or a waltz … stitch – iron – try on … stitch – iron – try on …

8. Set your own standard and be happy with it. If you are learning, then ‘good enough’ is a mighty fine aspiration. This isn’t the Great British Sewing Bee – it is YOU, making something for maybe the very first time! Hoorah for that.

9. Embrace the mistakes – they can be your friends! As I said earlier mistakes are really a chance to learn – if it didn’t work one way, which way will it work … it is a process and the backtracking is all part of finding the best route to the finish line.

10. Celebrate your successes! Always! It may not be perfect, but you made it and that is fabulous! Share, show-off, be proud. You did well!

 

Good luck … and don’t forget to ENJOY!

 

… sharing the good stuff!

Posted in: Made by hand, News

So happy to see my bags featured again on yay retro’s blog today …

Vintage fabric bag

… you can find them in the knits and linens section of the yay retro! shop …

Vintage fabric bag

… along with a whole host of other goodies!

Alongside gorgeous retro teatowels, table linens and aprons, Sue at yay retro seeks out the very best in 1940′s – 1970′s china, kitchenalia and ornaments. It is shop full of temptation …

Yay Retro!

… and I am certainly loving that gingham apron!

 

… keepsake cushions ~ for you!

Posted in: Made by hand

Following my little bit of stitchery last week, I am now really happy to share with you that keepsake cushions are well and truly back in the lemon loves shop!

Keepsake cushion

And a couple of people have asked me ‘how does it work?’ … well, here’s how!

Keepsake cushion - fabric

You may have a treasured stash of fabric memories, you know … that precious box of baby clothes at the bottom of the wardrobe … the chest full of your Grandmother’s beautiful linens and embroidery in the attic … that old suitcase under the bed packed with your teenage clothes that you just can’t let go of … christening gowns – bridesmaids dresses – prom outfits … you get the idea!

Keepsake Cushion - the process

These are the fabrics of your life, they connect and re-connect you to loved ones, special moments, childhood memories, you are holding on to them because they are a part of you, part of your history, part of your family’s journey. And yet, packed safely away, they remain unseen, uncelebrated.

Keepsake Cushion

A keepsake cushion – or even a quilt – will breathe new life into your treasured memories. Showcasing and celebrating the beauty of the fabrics, colours and textures, gathering them together in a new form, with a new purpose. I will work with you to discuss design choices and layout, you will see photographs before a single stitch is sewn, together we can take your most precious keepsakes and re-imagine them into something beautiful. You can order through my Folksy shop, or contact me here, or on facebook to discuss a custom order or design. You send me the fabric ~ together we re-imagine it and then I do the magic stitchery ~ I send you the finished product! Simple as that!

Keepsake Cushion - detail

Keepsake Cushion

Keepsake Cushion

Made from memories ~ stitched with love.

Just for you.

 

… keepsake cushions!

Posted in: Made by hand

It is always exciting to try out a new idea …

Vintage fabrics

… so I took two pairs of curtains, a teatowel, some pretty bed linen, a lace trimmed table cloth and a gorgeous piece of vintage linen … treasures from the attic …

Keepsake cushion

… and I stitched them into a gorgeous cushion … re-loved and revived!

Keepsake cushion

This new idea worked out even better than I hoped!

 

… aprons!

Posted in: Made by hand

There is something about an apron that just feels good …

Hand made apron

… maybe it is the protection, the way it wraps around me, the sense of safety …

Hand made apron

… or maybe it is the opportunity to mix up some of my favourite fabrics to make the gorgeous big double section pockets.

Hand made aprons

I love the stories that those vintage and new fabrics tell as they sit side by side, the mystery of some of the reclaimed or ‘found’ fabrics, the past lives, histories and connections that tie them all together.

Hand made apron

And I love the soft dark denim that brings the story of work-wear right up to date.

Hand made aprons

These beauties are available right now at Yay retro! Along with a shop full of vintage and retro goodies to brighten your day and your home!