Goodbye blouse, hello shirt

A month or so ago a friend, Kate who is sorting out her house ready to move handed me a bag on the school run containing a couple of lovely items.

One was a gorgeous vintage blouse, made in Switzerland for Harrods, very worn on the collar so only really fit for cutting up and repurposing.  The fabric is lush and I spent a bit of time thinking about what to do with it:

harrods blouse

You may remember that I’ve made a pile of shirts using Carolyn Friedlanders pattern, I was thinking about the shirts that I’m waiting to receive back from the swap (hint: round 3 may be happening soon if you want to join in) when inspiration struck; why not turn this blouse into a shirt:


So I pulled out a copy of the pattern and got cutting and stitching.  I decided to make a journal cover, something useful and practical:


I think it is my most lovely shirt yet! It came together perfectly but maybe that is because I’ve made approximately 30 of them! For the background I used Crosshatch in white from Carolyns’ Architexture range. I thought about quilting the piece but decided to keep it simple and just stitched around the block and just inside the block with Aurifil 2530 which was the perfect match to the pink in the shirt.


There’s just a simple flap around to the inside of the cover:


Before making this gift I’d already stitched up a little something for Kate. I love the label on the shirt and couldn’t resist a bit of fussy cutting:


And with the addition of some webbing and key fob hardware made this for her new house keys:


Keyfobs, I’ve decided are a great way to showcase special bits of fabric, I’m already thinking about other pieces of clothing that children have grown out of or worn out (or in some cases both!) that might be good to use, preserving some memories.

Kate and her family are moving away but won’t be forgotten; I now need to cook up a plan for the other fabric she’s left me (oh and I didn’t use the whole blouse so you’ll probably be seeing more of this fabric!).

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End of an era

Way back in October 2007 my eldest child started preschool, my other 2 children have also attended the same wonderful preschool (although thankfully it moved to a purpose built building rather than an upstairs room in a church!).

Today is my youngest childs’ last day at preschool, we are really thankful for the wonderful staff who have had such a positive input into the lives of all of our children over the last seven years.  I spoke to the preschool about making something as a thank you gift for the children to use.  The most popular suggestion from the staff was super hero capes (I think that some of them might have been hoping for adult sized capes!).

I will not say that my heart sank but I will admit that they are not my favourite thing to make; more to the point I’m just not keen on stitching with that slippery, slidey, shiny fabric!

But I did it, Mathias and I made a trip to the local fabric shop and picked out some colours from their varied selection of shiny fabrics.  To be honest he was more entranced by the gold, shiny, sequin stuff declaring it to be pirate treasure.

I’ve made super hero capes on a number of occasions in the past using this tutorial.  No need to reinvent the wheel, I pulled out the template, shortened it by approximately one inch (just to get 2 cape pieces out of the (WOF) and got cutting and sewing.

They didn’t take long:


Hmmm not the most inspiring photo, how about some action shots? Swooping in from somewhere:

Superhero Capes

Pondering the next move:

Superhero Cape in action

Big sister just proving that being 7 years old is not too old for a cape:

Superhero Cape in action

I’m not the biggest fan of wrapping paper and knowing how much children like bags for putting ‘stuff’ in I stitched up a couple of lined drawstring bags in the Project Bag size:

Lined drawstring bags (for superhero capes)

Fill each with 2 superhero capes and hopefully hours of fun for the children not going to ‘big’ school in September.

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Small (but perfectly formed)

Last month Storey Publishing sent me this book to review:

one yard
Little One Yard Wonders available from Amazon and lots of other book shops I’m sure.

For some reason I was surprised at the amount of projects in it; however the clue is on the cover!  I immediately spotted a couple of items I wanted to make and have already made 4 pairs of shorts in various sizes but more about those another day.  Last week I decided it was time to make something for my about to be 3 year old niece, I had another browse through it and there were a couple of things that caught my eye; one was this:

Tot Tote and Wallet

Sadly I didn’t have any grommets to hand and didn’t have time to start trawling round to find some.

The other was the Casey Apron, it looked pretty cute and simple; and more importantly something that my niece might like.  So I traced the pattern on to Swedish tracing paper and got planning.

As you may guess from the title of the book ‘Little One Yard Wonders’ all the items can be made from one yard.  However I don’t often buy yards of fabric, I’m more likely to buy fat quarters, fortunately I have a couple of large pieces of Sugar and Spice prints in my stash so I pulled those out and worked out what pattern pieces I could get from each.

The instructions were really clear and so are the layout instructions for the pattern pieces on fabric, but as I’d decided to use 2 different prints I cut the main panels on the fold rather than flat and having to flip the pattern piece over. Interestingly the pattern materials state that the pattern is not suitable for one-way prints but the accompanying photograph shows the apron in a directional print.

apron on hanger

The pattern instructions were straightforward and I made this from start to finish in less than 2 hours (not including pattern tracing time). I made the small size and after asking my 4.5 year old to model it am sure it will fit my 3 year old niece.

So yes, there are photo’s! My son was persuaded to try the apron on in exchange for a tiny chocolate egg! Handy pockets:


To be fair to him it was really sunny which is why such lovely facial expressions were used, I don’t think he really minded modelling.  This apron would look great in more masculine prints too.


He is the cutest little boy I know, and our gorgeous lavender bushes seem to make a good backdrop for outside photo’s.


It’s not easy to see here but the neck strap is made of 2 parts and have velcro on so it can be done up behind the neck and the same goes for the waist; no tricky ties to do.  The main panel is lined with the fabric I used on the neck and waist straps.

The apron was delivered to it’s new owner by post yesterday, however when I spoke to my sister-in-law yesterday the birthday girl was asleep so yet to open her gift. I can see more of these quick makes in my future.

So far I am delighted with this book, I think it would be great for people who are just starting on a sewing journey and want to sew for children. There are useful guidelines at the beginning of the book on sewing for children, an extensive glossary; handy if you are new to sewing and don’t know what something means (lets be honest we’ve all been there). At the front there is a pocket which contains all the pattern sheets for every item in the book. You know that a yard of fabric will be enough for each project so even if you don’t have a stash of fabric all you need to buy is one piece of fabric (try limiting yourself to just one though ;-)). My favourite thing? (apart from the patterns) joy of joys the book is spiral bound, so when you lay your book down to carry out the next step you do not loose your page, how I love that; I can just glance across and look what the next step is without having to find the right page (again).

The theme for Le Challenge this month has been ‘small’ so this is my entry; for a small child, I have made a host of other ‘small’ things but you’ll just have to wait and see.  Check out what other ‘small’ themed things people have been making:

Le Challenge

Storey Publishing sent me this book to review however all opinions are my own.  I will continue to make items from the book and write about them here.

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Gifts for boys

My 9 yr old has had a number of boys birthday party’s to attend recently and I’ve taken it upon myself to make gifts.  With plenty of fabric in the cupboard it seems wrong not to!

I mentioned back here about this fabric:

A FQ each of Boulder Chill and Origami Sprouts (Mixed Bag line by Moda)

And how it truly was bought for the purpose of making a gift for a friend and not for stashing; this is the finished item:

Origami open wide zip pouch

I’m struggling to remember the making of this but I think that much of it was sewn by Bethan until time and interest ran out!

Origami open wide zip pouch

It’s the great tutorial by Anna of Noodlehead

Origami open wide zip pouch

It was gifted to one of her closest friends along with some origami creation that she made to go with it.

Yesterday there was another party and while Bethan chose the fabric I did all the sewing this time:

Robotic journal cover

A simple journal cover, using up smallish pieces of fabric that have not yet made it to the ‘scrap’ bin but are less than a fat quarter!

Robotic journal cover

Fun and simple to make and hopefully useful for the birthday boy!

Robotic journal cover - inside

There is a whole pile of other stuff to show and tell but I have lots of fabric that needs cutting for the shop so it will all have to wait.  In a day or so I may well have a ‘little’ something to link up with Le Challenge along with some pretty awesome photographs…

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Another Sidekick Tote (a vomit proof bag)

Earlier this year I made myself a Sidekick Tote, I’ve used it a lot and love it:

Sidekick Tote - Echino Scooters

During the summer holidays I made a trip to the local fabric shop and spotted some gorgeous webbing that was being unpacked from a delivery, I decided that I needed it for the strap for my next bag!

Yes, I did have a plan for a new bag already in my mind but the webbing was the deciding factor for actually making it:

Laminate Sidekick Tote

Ever the practical person I don’t like to use my first Sidekick Tote if it’s raining, I don’t want to get it soaked and risk the contents getting soggy too, so I pulled out my stash of Summersville Alphabetti laminate to use.

Laminate Sidekick Tote

The pattern suggests the use of interfacing but I didn’t in this one as the laminate is quite stiff. I’ve no idea how the fabric houses go about deciding on the strength of the laminate they apply to their fabrics but the Moda one is considerably stiffer that the Michael Miller (used for the pocket) and also matt rather than a gloss finish.

Laminate Sidekick Tote

I must make a note on the paper pattern about the pocket closure; I missed it the first time and almost this time too. It may be because of where it is on the page or because I use the 2nd pocket option but it’s quite annoying to have to fiddle around to fit the velcro it in.


It’s a wonderful bag, again I made the small size which is plenty big enough for my needs. It holds up well in the wet weather and little did I know that during our camping trip it would also be put to the test of projectile vomiting from a poorly child (my child rather than anyone else’s – does that make it better or worse?). A wipe with antibacterial wipes and it was as good as new, sadly the same could not be said about poorly Leah!

I have a packet of Sharpies which I am very tempted to use to do some colouring on the bag but so far I’ve resisted, maybe I’ll make a third just for colouring purposes!

It’s not quite Tuesday here but it is some places in the world so I’m linking up with:

Sew Cute Tuesday

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Teacher gifts 2013

It was the end of the school year for my girls last week and it has fast become a tradition for me to make a gift for their teachers.

I try to get them to think about what their teacher might actually like and appreciate, something a bit personal and not just a generic item.

Bethan has previously made journal/notebook covers for friends birthdays and thought that Mrs Brook would like one too.  We came up with the idea of making the front cover look like a piece of paper by stitching a pink line down the left hand side and then blue lines across the page:


Bethan then wrote on it with a fabric pen and I free motion stitched over it to make it stand out a bit more. For the back of the journal I used a ‘school’ themed print:


Lucky for her I still had this, it was destined for the ugly swap at FQ retreat as I never thought I would use it!

Bethan is fortunate to be having the same teacher next year, so we’ll have to come up with another idea in a years time. Mrs Brook said that she would write her lesson plans in it over the summer and there was I thinking she was going to have a well deserved 6 week holiday especially after taking 25 eight year olds on a residential trip for 3 days!

Leah’s teacher this year is what we call an NQT (newly qualified teacher) so this was her very first proper class. And she has been awesome; very kind, patient, encouraging and firm (sometimes necessary with my wild child). Leah told me that Miss Burrow is always losing her pens and pencils so said that we should make her a case for them. She also wanted to write a note on the case.

Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication and I got it all wrong, she didn’t want it to look like paper on the pencil case she wanted to write a note to go inside it. I left the pencil case to one side and went off to London for the weekend. On Monday evening I told her that it had to get finished there and then or there would be nothing to give on Wednesday. Nothing like a bit of pressure to focus the mind, by the time I went to bed there was this:


Leah did the same as Bethan, writing on it with a pen and I stitched over it, keeping the 6 yr old handwriting and spellings!  ‘Miss Burrows penceil and pen case for keeping safe’

Leah chose some Summersville Alphabetti for the back, I used this for her lunch bag so she said it will help Miss Burrow to remember her and she can colour it in if she likes!  Such a thoughtful child.


Lining is some more Summersville Scandi


This gift was well received too, I’m really hoping that she will stay with the school as Mathias would love to be in her class in a couple of years time!  So that’s it for another year, I hope inspiration strikes again.

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Giveaway Day is here again – now closed

Hello and welcome to all of you lovely people visiting for the first time as part of the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day and happy Monday to all my regular readers, especially if you’re in the UK where it’s a bank holiday.

I’m Mary, I live in the south west of England with 3 young children and a wonderful husband.

I love to sew and to support my sewing/fabric habit a year ago I opened an Etsy shop as an outlet for my excessive vintage sheet collection, thanks to all you who been helping me out by buying the kits and charm packs over the year!  As a little extra treat on top of the giveaway, use code: SEWMAMASEW to take 15% off any purchase in the shop through till next Sunday 12th May.

Last summer I started teaching some workshops which has been great fun.  One of the classes is a zip pouch workshop and earlier this year I took part in the Triple Zip Along, (yes using not one but three zips in a pouch) and made two pouches that are very similar.

Triple zip pouches

I used some text print fabrics from a charm swap and I mentioned at the time that didn’t need two pouches and at some point I would give one away.  Now seems as good a time as any to do just that.

Triple zip pouches

I’m happy to fill the pouch with scraps too if you’re a fan of scraps!

So to be in with a chance of winning it’s simple; just leave a comment below telling me what was the last thing you sewed and who it was for.

The giveaway closes on Friday May 10th at 5pm (PST) (which I believe is midnight here in the UK, funnily enough I’ll probably be asleep so any comments left after this time will be deleted!).  I will use the Random Number Generator to select the winner who will be notified by email and announced on the blog.  Please ensure that I have a way of contacting you by email.

Thanks for stopping here and good luck with this and all the other giveaways listed on the Sew Mama Sew blog!

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Help please!

This coming weekend my lovely youngest cousin is getting married, the present is made, a gorgeous quilt with photo’s coming soon (it just needs a label), now the small matter of what to wear.

Truth be told that has actually been decided, I’m not a great one for looking glam or smart or even wearing much apart from jeans but I bought a dress back in the summer that I’ve not worn yet and it will do just fine.

So how to accessorise?  I’ve got some jewellery that will go wonderfully I just think that I need to make myself a clutch purse to go with it.

The blue floral fabric at the back is my dress, the other fabrics are those that I’ve pulled from my stash to make something with:

Dress and fabric

I have a 6″ x 3″ purse frame that I’m thinking of using.  Have you seen Emily’s frame purse tutorial over at the Village Haberdashery, it’s pretty smart and I’m tempted to make a pieced purse.

So what I’d like from you are suggestions as to what I could do on the purse, bearing in mind I can’t use the index finger on my right hand so any more than a little hand sewing is out of the question (obviously there is more fabric in my stash that I could use, let me know if you think I’ve missed something).

Be quick it needs to be done before we travel on Friday and if I’m not careful I’ll spend hours browsing this group and this group on flickr and not do any sewing atall!

I will be back soon with a winner from the UR Priceless giveaway just need to turn on the comment numbering gadget thingy.

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Commissions, swaps and lot of wood

If you’ve not entered the giveaway be quick it closes tonight at 9pm (UK time)

I’ve been working on a few things recently some of which are earphone pouches:

Earphone pouch

Some are for a friend who runs her own soap business Soapdaze and ‘gets’ the whole buy handmade idea, so it was a delight to sew for her.  Sharon had fun choosing the fabrics from my stash and I sewed the up the other week.  I was quite delighted with the blue one on the left in Amy Butler Charm fabric and how well the fussy cutting went.  I don’t have a photo of the other side of it but it looked great!

3 earphone pouches for swap

These are for another local lady Artist Sarah, with whom I’m doing a swap, she’s making me a pile of compact mirrors in exchange for these.  I’ve supplied her with some fabric too so some will be to co-ordinate with other things that might be gifted this Christmas.

I’ve been busy with another commission but you’ll have to wait until later in the week for more on that.

Yesterday we went to visit my mum and eldest brother, some chain sawing and log carrying took place:

Our car boot was filled, we unloaded yesterday afternoon and stacked it in our log store, at some point or other I managed to bang the index finger on my right hand and it is now badly bruised and swollen.

I’m not talented enough to take a photo of it so you’ll just have to take my word for it!  Anyway it might have put paid to any sewing this week – I’ll have to wait and see.

I’ll be back on Wednesday for my day on the Holiday Lane Pillow Blog Hop.

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UR Priceless Blog Hop and a giveaway – now closed

Giveaway now closed

After a week of seeing what others have created in this priceless blog hop it’s my turn to share some of my handiwork.  First a big thanks to Mdm Samm for the great pattern and instructions and Katherine for organising the blog hop.

Over the last six months I’ve made a number of frame purses;

Japanese patchwork frame coin purse

Glue-in frame purses

I’ve also been teaching others how to make these in workshops at Arrietty.
All these purses have been made using the frames where the fabric is glued in rather than sewn in so I was keen to join in this blog hop and try out the sew-in frame.

I found the pattern straight forward to work with, the instructions were clear and the photographs really helpful.

The first one using Jay McCarroll fabrics turned out just fine:

Frame purse - Garden Friends

Frame purse - Garden Friends

I bought my frames from 3D Pattern Paper, the shop is based in China and I was a little bit concerned about how long delivery might take to the UK but was amazed when it took just 7 days for my parcel to arrive!  They have a wide selection of frames in store and the prices are great.

I used a iron on cotton interfacing which has no brand name but I buy it from my local fabric store and it has a great feel and is easy to work with.  It has a fleecy feel to it and so is thicker than normal iron on interfacing.

The next one I made involved upcycling some old jeans and using some scraps left over from a scrap quilt:

Denim coin purse - front

The back has a different strip of scraps:

Denim coin purse - back

I found sewing the purse into the frame wasn’t too awkward (although I did manage to break a needle), the instructions were useful for this otherwise I’m not sure where I would have started.  I used threads from my collection, most of it is from the car boot sale or the charity shop so I don’t really know what it is.  A couple of times the thread did break but I was able to fix it and not have to start again.

Red Letter Day frame purse

This purse is a bit special, made using some of my favourite fabrics, last week it was one of the winners of the ‘Your Andover’ contest.

Red Letter Day frame purse

Last but by no means least I whizzed this one up on Saturday evening, I needed a bit of sewing time after my daughters 8th birthday party.  So while my children were engrossed in watching ‘The Railway Children’ I pulled out my bag of Sew Cherry scraps left from a Siblings Together quilt:


So what to do with all these purses?  Do you fancy one?  I’m giving one away (but not the orange duck one) – if you’re lucky it might even contain some of that shiny chocolate money!

Just leave a comment below letting me know which one you would like (Jay McCarroll, upcycled denim or Sew Cherry) to be in with a chance to win.

For an extra entry you can sign up for email subscription (top right).  Leave an additional comment if you choose to do so.  Giveaway will close at 9pm (UK time) next Sunday (18th November) I’ll use random number generator to select a winner – please make sure I have a way of contacting you if you win.

If you want to purchase the pattern you can find it for sale in Mdm Samms Craftsy store.

So go on hop along and see what these other priceless people have made, you might even find another giveaway:

Read, quilt, cook, pray

The Learning Curve

Bacon Then Eggs

Nati’s Little Things

Feltfree pa Asly

El Patchwork de la Abuela

Amy’s Crafty Shenanigans

Maryjo J

s.o.t.a.k. Handmade 


Janice M

Throw a wench in the works

Everyone Deserves a Quilt

A Stitch in Time

Sew Me Something Good

And check out the Pinterest board here to see all the purses made during this blog hop.  Thanks for stopping by.

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