Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Friday, 27 September 2013

A little bird told me.....

Upcycled Fabric Journal Cover

My niece has just started her first term at Nottingham University, so I thought I would mark the occasion by stitching her a journal cover.  I altered the original design a little, so that it included both her university and field of study as well as her name.  The birds were created using raw-edge applique and freestyle machine embroidery.  The writing is also freestyle (freehand) machine stitched.  It's such a great technique, no wonder Kirstie Allsopp has described it as 'the crack cocaine of the crafting world'! 

Yes, Ellie is off to study Politics at Nottingham and we're all very proud of her. Although, I can't believe that she is old enough to be going!  I can still remember how excited I was when I first went off to university and how much I valued getting letters and parcels.  I'm not sure that people send so many letters these days and today's youngsters could easily miss out on the thrill that comes from checking the post each day.  With this in mind it was lovely to stitch a little gift to package and send.  I purchased an academic diary to pop inside the cover, but ensured that it was not such a snug fit that she couldn't swap it for a notebook or journal if she preferred. 

The lining was cut from this adorable piece of soft vintage cotton lawn in muted tones of pink and blue,

as you can see it's a 'Laura Ashley' classic from 1977.  I'm sure that to Ellie this will seem absolutely ancient!

The cute design I used is extremely versatile and is both easy to sew and very effective when finished.   

Well done Ellie xxx

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Appliqued Fabric Tag Tutorial

Personalised Linen Tag

As our warm weather gradually fades, my thoughts have been turning to Christmas.  However, I can't yet bear to completely give up on summer, so today's sewing project would work equally well for either a luggage tag or a Christmas gift tag.

Personalised linen tag

Beady eyed UK readers will have noticed that I have used a clothing label from a British supermarket called 'Asda', as they have a clothing line named 'George'.  The name comes from the designer George Davies who was also the original designer for 'Next' and luckily enough my son is also called George!  


The first step is to cut a tag shape of your choice from a piece of iron-on interfacing.  I used my Sizzix machine for this, but if you don't have a die-cutting machine simply cut one by hand.

Next, using a warm iron, fuse the cut shape onto the wrong side of your fabric.  I then held the fabric up to a window so that I could trace around the outline onto the right side using a Frixion pen.  These pens are sold in most supermarkets and when used on paper the ink disappears with the slight friction caused by rubbing.  On fabric the marks disappear when pressed with a warm iron, genuis! (...and much cheaper than pens sold specifically for quilting)
Having the outline of the tag on the right side of the fabric makes the correct placement of the applique shapes much easier.

So, using a fusible double sided bonding web such as 'SteamASeam' or 'Bondaweb', place your applique pieces onto the right side of your tag.  Once you're happy with your design, iron the pieces into place and then machine applique using a reduced stitch length.  I would also recommend using an open-toed machine foot so that you have a clear view of your work as you sew.

 The ribbon tag is straight, it's just my camera angle, honest!  

Now make a 'sandwich' of the front and back of your tag, placing right sides together.  You don't need to cut the back piece into a tag shape yet, just keep both front and back as simple rectangles.

The next step is to simply stitch both pieces together.  In order to keep the lovely tag shape, use the interfacing outline as your guide, keeping the machine's needle just to its right. Don't forget to leave a gap for turning!

Trim the seams, leaving a little extra on the opening as this makes tucking in the raw edges easier.

Almost there!  Now simply turn your tag right sides out and sew the opening closed.  I added some top-stitching around the edge to give my tag a more finished and professional look, but you can leave this step out if you prefer.

Attach an eyelet or sew a length of ribbon to the top of your tag and that's it...

All done!

Monday, 9 September 2013

More Tea M'Lords?

Personalised Linen Tea Cosy

Today saw the start of the children's first full week back at school after our six week break.  We've had such a wonderful summer, although it already seems like just a distant memory!  I didn't get much sewing done whilst the children were at home, hence the lack of blogging.  However, I did stitch a personalised linen tea cosy which my brother had requested as a wedding present for a couple who were getting married over the summer.  Their surname is 'Lord' which hopefully explains the theme!

My brother had found this picture of a vintage linen tea-towel, featuring an appliqued butler, which he wanted me to use it as a basis for my design.  

Whilst it was great to have a starting point for the tea cosy, I actually felt under a little bit of pressure as I was worried that it might not live up to the original and that he would then be disappointed.

Anyway, I concentrated on the butler and after a couple of attempts this is what I came up with;

A very snooty English butler!

The tea cosy itself was made using the same pair of upcycled linen curtains as the previous couple of posts.  There's still metres of the fabric left, so they weren't bad value considering they only cost £1.50 from the local car boot sale! I free-motion quilted the linen, adding a layer of wadding (batting) for warmth.  As it was for a wedding gift, I also embroidered a little label on the back showing the happy couple's names and the date of their nuptials.

At least this couple might now remember their anniversary each year, unlike Mr Larkin and myself as we have both been guilty of forgetting ours!

My brother sent me some photos from the day and it all looked beautiful

The wedding car showed the cosy off to its best advantage

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Lord!