Best Friends

Sew La Tea DoI’m not really sure what I’d do without my bestie. We’ve been best of friends since high school, nowadays we are separated by distance but we remain the absolute best of friends. It’s our birthdays in July and today I received an early gift! (I have to admit I haven’t started thinking about what I could buy her because I’m hoping I can find something lovely on my holidays). I could tell by the feel of the present that it was a book – and she usually gives me a good book but this was bigger and heavier than normal. When I opened it I was so touched, she had bought me the most gorgeous book called ‘Sew La Tea Do’ by Pip Lincolne. So much thought had gone into her gift, I’ve only just discovered this big world of sewing and she can tell that I’m really enjoying it so has thought of something that relates to my new found hobby.

Sew La Tea Do is a fabulous book that has 25 different things to make; most of it sewing related but there is the odd sneaky little recipe in there too! The book comes with really clear step-by-step instructions backed up with photos and also all the patterns! I can highly recommend it to anyone, beginner or not – I think it would appeal to all.

When I called to thank her she told me that Pip (the author) has a great shop in Melbourne called Meet Me At Mikes, and also has a blog (some of you no doubt will be interested in her blog!)

Inspired!

Thank you to everyone that has emailed me about my first ever pin cushion that I posted yesterday!

A lot of people have commented on the fabric I used ….. my Mum actually gave it to me. Years ago my Mum sewed a lot… making my sister and I skirts, dresses for special occasions and all sorts of other things for the home. Today she tends just to do repairs for my Dad and the odd hem for my Nan. She kept her favourite fabrics and threw out the rest, I’m not sure why she decided to keep some … I suppose she hoped to one day get back into it again but I don’t think she will now, she has too many other things going on in her life now (and she’s now learning to knit!).

My good friend Lucy was so inspired by my post that she even pulled out her dusty machine this morning and whipped herself up her first pin cushion using beautiful fabric! Doesn’t it look lovely!!!

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Thanks to everyone for your kind words of encouragement; it’s been fun so far….

Simple Pin Cushion

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Pins, god they hurt when you jab yourself with them – in my very long sewing career of about 15 days I have gabbed myself one too many times and I’m sick of it.  I’ve decided to get rid of the silly cardboard box I have my pins kept in and replace it with a pin cushion. I figure it can’t be too hard to make a pin cushion, it’ll be quite like the bunting flags I did this week, sew up two pieces of fabric, turn it inside out, push out the corners, stuff it with some wool and then finish it off. (Let’s just hope it’s as easy as I make it sound!)

1. What you will need

– Two pieces of square fabric; I am using two different patterns for a bit of added interest

– Some stuffing that you can buy at a haberdashery shop (or raw rice or cotton wool balls work too; I’m using cotton wool balls)

– Something to push out the corners (a chopstick will do) but I used a point turner. Personally I think a chopstick or the end of the scissors does just as good a job if not better

– Pair of scissors or Stanley knife

2. Instructions

– Decide on the size of the cushion you would like. I am going to make mine 10cm x 10cm so this means I need to cut a square 12cm x 12 cm to allow for a 1cm seam on each side of the fabric.

– Cut the fabric to size making sure you have right angle corners. I believe you can purchase some sort of cutting mat that helps you with this but I am yet to learn about that…. that’s a job for another day – I think quilters use these boards frequently….

Measure up

– Place the right sides of the fabric together and pin.

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– Start sewing just off center of one side and sew right around the square finishing just off center on the other side (see photo below).

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Look at top of fabric, you can see that I have sewn and around the outside and left a bit in the middle in order to flip the fabric inside out

– Stop when you get 1cm off the end of the fabric. Make sure you leave the needle in the fabric, then lift the foot, pivot the fabric, put the foot back down and continue sewing. (You need to do this at ever corner).

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– Carefully cut each corner on an angle. This helps to get a good corner when you push the fabric inside out.

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– Now trim the edges off; I am cutting mine 0.5cm in from the outside.

– Turn the fabric inside out and push out the corners using a point turner/chopstick/end of your scissors (whatever you have at hand)

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– Iron the cushion so the material sits flat.

– Fill the cushion with stuffing (I am using cotton wool balls).

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– Pin the hole up

– To sew up the hole you have two options:

i. Use your machine to sew from one end of the side to the other (this is the easy option but won’t have the nicest finish)

ii. Carefully sew up the hole by hand, picking up as little of the fabric as possible so that the stitching is almost invisible.

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Hello cushion, bye bye pricks! My very first pin cushion successfully completed – gee I’m doing ok in the sewing department so far! My first two attempts at sewing something have actually worked; here’s hoping that continues but I have a sneaky suspicion that I won’t be so lucky!

 

Bunting – A Success (phew….)

I sourced fabric this week and learnt a bit about how one buys fabric in the process. When I went to the shop the shop assistant asked me if I wanted to buy the fabric by the meter or fat quarter. Fat quarter?!?!? What the hell does that mean ?!?! I had no idea what she was talking about so I just said by the meter but then when she found out the plan was to make bunting she said that I should definitely buy it by the fat quarter….. now there was no escaping the fact I had no idea what she was referring to and had to ask her what ‘fat quarter’ meant. She explained that in most shops you buy material by the meter but in some shops (usually ones that specialise in quilting) you can buy it in a smaller size called a fat quarter. This is basically a meter of fabric cut in quarters and you just buy one quarter.

So now here I am back in my study sitting in front of the machine and looking at all this lovely fabric – let’s give this a go!

1. What you will need

– Twill tape; I am using 3 meters of tape

– Fabric for the flags; heavier weighted fabric works better – it makes the flags sturdier

– Something to push out the corners (a chopstick will do) but I used a point turner. Personally I think a chopstick or the end of the scissors does just as good a job if not better

– Pair of scissors or stanley knife

– A thick piece of cardboard

– Ruler

2. Instructions

– Firstly you need to make the flag template. Use a ruler to draw a triangle on the cardboard and then cut it out. Keep in mind that the template needs to be about 2cm bigger than you want the final flag to be as we are going to use a 1cm seam allowance. (Some people prefer to do scolloped bunting – ie a half circle – as oppose to a flag shape; you can do what ever shape you choose).

Bunting template

– Work out how many flags you want on the tape. I am allowing for 30cm of tape at either end of my bunting and then spacing the flags every 12 cm. You can do whatever you wish; you might want them placed a lot closer than this or you may want them further apart.

– Now you need to use the cardboard template to cut out the flags. For every flag you have you need two triangles; a front and a back. I am using different material on the front and back but you can do the same if you wish; choosing different material just gives it a bit more variety. I suggest that once you have cut out all the flags that you place them down right side up so you can see if the combinations you have chosen look ok. I am doing a boy version on one side and a girl version on the back.

Bunting just cut

– Once you have decided on your combination of flags you need to place the right sides of the fabric together so that they are facing each other. (The right side of the fabric is the side that the fabric has been printed on). Now pin them together.

Pinned bunting

– Sew down each side of the flag leaving the top part as you will need to turn the flag inside out shortly. Once you get to the tip of the flag leave the needle in the fabric, lift the foot and pivot the fabric. Once you have the fabric lined up put the foot down and continue sewing.

Sewing the sides of bunting – Now cut off half the excess material down each side of the flag that you have just sewn. At the point of the flag you need to cut across the point, just make sure you don’t cut the thread otherwise it will all come undone! The reason you cut off the point is so that when you turn it inside out you will end up with a better shaped point.

Cutting tip off bunting– Turn the fabric inside out so that the right sides are now showing. To push the point of the flag out I used a point turner but a chopstick or the end of the scissors works just as well.

Turn bunting inside out

– Iron the flag so that it sits flat.

– Iron the twill tape in half.

Fold twill tape for bunting

– Measure in 30cm from the beginning of the twill tape and now pin a flag inbetween the twill tape. Measure 12cm and then pin another flag, continue this process until you have used all your flags.

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– Now sew from one end of the tape to the other, trying to keep it as straight as possible.

Sewing the bunting

– Now you should be done! I can’t believe I pulled this off with no mistakes!!! What a huge achievement and it’s such instant gratification, give it a go! I’d love you to post some pics of your bunting once you’ve completed it.

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In the morning when the kids wake up I’ll try hanging the bunting in their room and post a photo. Good luck, happy sewing! I hope you get as much satisfaction out of it as I did!

What now?!?

I’ve had my new Phaff Ambition sitting on my work desk now for a few days, I look at it every time I go into the study and wonder ‘What the hell now?!?’.

Exactly where does one start when one has no idea what to do with such a machine? I’ve decided today that I am going to sit down and try and teach myself how to at least thread the thing so that I can give myself even the slightest chance of being able to sew something. I figure the best bet is to open up the manual and see if it gives good enough step-by-step instructions on what one needs to do in order to get the machine ready to start sewing.

Finally once I get my head around all the new jargon I realise it’s really not that difficult at all. The machine looks so much more complicated that what it really is. The manual provides great instructions and before I knew it I had the machine threaded (bobbin and all) in no time.

The few people I knew that can actually sew have told me to just play around on the machine a bit; meaning get some off cuts and attempt to sew in a straight line, sew around a bend and even turn a corner. I decide to hell with that; let’s just get sewing straight away!!!! I’m far from afraid of making mistakes, I figure if I make a mistake I can either unpick the work or just buy some more fabric and start all over again.

I decide that I’ll give bunting a try…. I’ve absolutely no idea how to do it but I figure if I go to a fabric shop and ask for some instructions no doubt someone will be able to help. I’ve been told bunting is Sewing 101.

Off to the fabric shop I go!!!

Bunting

The Beginning…

I know some of my friends think I’m crazy; starting a blog that is, with three kids three years and under, a husband that works six days and four nights a week and trying to work part time on top of all this….. But since the birth of my first child I have become very aware of the huge network of mothers out there that I wanted to become a part of. For the last three years I have been umming and arrhing on what I could do. I’ve seriously considered starting up a children’s clothing brand and taken steps in the right direction to get it up and running but when I sit down and really analyze the situation I keep coming back to the realization that at this point in my life I probably just don’t have enough time to really give it my all. Then there was the thought of a blog – ‘That seems like a bit of fun’ I kept thinking but what the hell would I talk about? I don’t really want to talk about my kids all day everyday – I see/live/breath them every minute of the day until 7pm comes around (ok sometimes this blows out to 8pm) and they all finally fall asleep – I need a break from them, I need to do something for me, something that I get a lot of enjoyment from.

For the past ten or so years I have wanted to learn to sew, more than just sewing on a button and taking up a hem. It’s been a secret goal that I’ve never really shared with anyone. I want to be able to make myself clothes that fit, make gifts for my best friends with love and of course groovy, edgy clothes for my own kids. So finally, after ten years I ventured off to Chatswood Sewing Centre and enquired about the purchase of a sewing machine. An hour later I walked out of the shop having purchased a Phaff Ambition 1.0. I decided (with the absolute bare minimum prior knowledge) that this was a good middle of the range machine that I wouldn’t grow out of for several years, but with the understanding that I’d be back before the end of the year for my second big purchase; an overlocker (unless my Mum wants to pass hers onto me – hint hint!).

This is my first sewing machine!

This is my first sewing machine!

So here I am, sitting, staring at this machine thinking ‘Now what?!?!’. It’s daunting – I’ve never sewed in my life, I’ve spent many a time watching my very clever mother sew up all sorts of wonderful things but I’ve never sat behind the machine and given it a go.

Where to start? What to do? How the hell do I even thread this thing!

Wish me luck!!!