Make an Embroidered Card

Giving cards is great. Giving a personalised one can be even funner. Here’s how to make a monogrammed card – spoilers, it’s super easy and fun. Did you guys ever have those cards which you ‘embroidered’ with shoelaces? It’s similar, but way nicer than those.

First, draw your letter onto your card. Use pencil and copy from a picture if like me, you suddenly forget what an L looks like.

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Then, it’s time to pierce holes in the card. I have a card piercing tool but I couldn’t find it so I just used the needle I was planning to use for the embroidery. Place them a good distance away from each other, so you won’t break the card.

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Get a rubber and rub out the pencil lines at this point.

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Next, get your embroidery thread. I used three strands because that allows the embroidered line to be thick, but doesn’t add too much bulk.

Usually when I hand sew I knot the thread beforehand. However, I didn’t want that strain on the card (seeing a key point here guys? Don’t make the card stressed!), so I left a bit of a tail going up, put the needle down through the next hole, then up again through the original hole.

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Now, gently backstitch your letter. Finish off by gently looping the thread into a knot through the last stitch at the back.

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This is such a simple make but I like how you can use it to personalise your greeting. Just add a little note for the receiver, and you’ve got yourself a neat little offering.

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Refashion a Dress into a Top

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Another day, another dress to refashion. Following hot on the heels of my dress to skirt refashion, here’s one way to transform a stretch dress into a top. This dress was donated to me a little while ago, & I loved the cute collar & print. However, due to many years of wear and washes, it was way too short to wear as a dress comfortably. I saw that this dress would work so much better as a top, & as a bonus it’s a super easy process!

One of the easiest ways of refashioning is to use existing clothes to help with sizing. In this instance I put one of my best fitting stretch tops on top of the dress, lining up shoulder seams and edges.

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Next, I marked an inch below the hem of the top. This is to allow for folding the raw edge up for the hem. If you have any doubts about the length, overestimate. You can always take more off, but it’s a lot harder to add length on! I marked this line with tailor’s chalk.

Next, I cut the dress. The way I did it was to cut the front, then the back, to make sure they line up evenly.

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Turn the dress inside out, then pin the raw edge up, wrong sides together, by 1 inch.

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My carpet needs hoovering often, on account of all the wool which ends up there…

Now you just have to sew the hem. I used a jersey needle and a zigzag stitch. In order to ensure the hem doesn’t stretch out, keep the fabric nice and loose as you go around, don’t pull.

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All done! I keep saying I need more tops in my handmade wardrobe, so I’m grateful for more additions! I like how this top falls, it’s quite a floaty jersey. In these pictures I’m wearing it with some jeans I fabric painted clouds on, painstakingly, last year. It was worth it though, I like them so much more now. Full refashioned outfit, yay!

 

Refashion a Dress into a Skirt

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I found this lovely dress in a charity shop. The fabric is so cute & the style reminds me of an Emery dress which is great. I tried it on in the shop and the arms seemed a little tight but I thought I could deal with it. Fast forward to the next time I’m trying the dress on, & I fear I might have to cut myself out of it.

Having ripped the armhole in my escape, it’s clear I can’t wear this dress. Unless… it’s a skirt! This is a super easy refashion. The dress had a gathered skirt, and basically all I did was create a waistband out of the bodice.

First, work out how wide you want your waistband, then cut twice that length up from the skirt. I went for a couple of inches. I had to cut through the zip which extended into the bodice.

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Next, I used my zipper foot to sew down the edges of the zip. Check the zip still works fine!

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Then, I folded the waistband down onto the skirt, wrong sides together, tucking under the raw edges and pinning them in place.

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Lastly, I stitched in the ditch (sewed with the right side up onto the seam between the waistband and the skirt) and I was done!

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If you want a slightly more rigid and strong waistband, you can interface it before stitching it down. I wasn’t too bothered/ was too enthusiastic about how quick a project this was turning out to be!

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Now, let us all go forth and make dresses into skirts.

Spaced

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I made a dress of space! I’m so excited about this one. Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented on my last blog post, whether on the blog, social media, or in real life! You’re all brilliant and lovely, and I’m glad my sentiments on not succeeding resonated with people.

As a quick recap, I bought a single duvet and pillow set secondhand from a charity shop. Second hand duvets are a great source of fabric. They’re easy to deconstruct, cheap, and quite often provide immediately complementary fabrics. In this instance, both sides had this starry pattern, but one side had these planets and galaxies and meteorites all over. Ooh it’s so fun I love it.

I decided to make the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch, with the bodice in the ‘plain’, and the skirt in the planets. This is partly for balance, and partly because it would have been a squeeze to get it all from one side of the duvet.

In terms of fit, I lowered the armholes by a couple of centimeters, as they always seem to be coming up tight ordinarily. I didn’t draw the new armhole that neatly, but it’s ok. Next time I’ll be a bit more careful, as I am finding my bra strap escape from the sides.

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Here I am, wearing the dress with starry earrings because theme, and socks and brogues because it was a full day in Central London people, my feet need that comfort.

After my last blog post, I adjusted the back centre seam, and the fit is much better. Also, pockets! Which are easier than I thought they were, thanks Tilly!

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Amusingly, I didn’t have a long enough zip in my stash, and I couldn’t be bothered to wait. The dress comes on fine, but getting it off… takes a bit of time. It’s fine though, and if it ever becomes more of a problem I’ll just replace the zip.

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I wore it this weekend to London for a birthday lunch and I got loads of compliments. A hen party on the train was very impressed, to which I would say that drinking from wine glasses at 11am on a rickety train is more impressive. I mean, I couldn’t do that. These photos were taken outside the British Museum which was heaving but still cool. No space, but that’s ok.

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Despite all it’s imperfections, I feel great in this dress. That’s what it’s all about in the end, right?

On Not Being Good

Have you ever been really enthusiastic about a project, then unsure if you’re good enough to execute it properly? I have been working on a dress for a little while now. It’s a really exciting project, one where you eat supper double quick to get more time to sew in the evening, then end up hunched over your machine with tummy ache from eating too fast. But I was determined.

The project in question is a Lilou dress from Tilly and the Button’s book Love at First Stitch. It’s made from a space themed duvet cover I found in a charity shop and immediately saw as a dress. I have been excited about this creation for weeks, impatient for the day it finally exists in the real world and I can show it off to everything. Look, tree, I made a space dress! Hey, cat I see on my way to the shops sometimes, I made this, isn’t that cool?

It is cool. It’s very cool to make one’s own wardrobe, to customise your clogs into your exact style. However, we might not be very good at first, and this can be hard. I am most definitely a beginner. This dress is my first lined item of clothing I have made, and you can tell my inexperience easily. The main problem is this-

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Having attached the zip, I tried the dress on for size, and found it to be way too big in the waist. It doesn’t look too bad in these photos, but when I tried it on I felt so unhappy with the fit I almost immediately ripped it off me and threw the dress into the corner. ‘It’s not right’, I declared, ‘It should be better. I should be better.’ I stared at the wonky zip, the off shaped chest, and the glaring sizing problem. It was ruined, and I had ruined what I was so excited about.

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I left it for a bit until I had calmed down, and then tried it on again. I assessed the situation, and it really wasn’t as bad as I had made it out to be earlier. Yes, the fit isn’t great, but the centre back seam can be taken in and it should be fine. I had to tell myself to stop seeing the imperfections as failures. You’ve only been sewing solo for a short amount of time, I mean this is your third dress ever! Stop expecting yourself to be perfect straight off.

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I haven’t got a finished dress to show you. I’m still working on making it wearable, but I wanted to write this intermediary post to say that it’s ok to not be good. You don’t have to be good at the thing you’re doing right away, or even after a while. The important thing is to keep going. Keep writing, or sewing, or whatever creative endeavour it may be. I’m going to keep sewing dresses with planets on, wonky zip be damned, because I’m passionate about sewing and I love the creative process. I’m going to leave you with this quote by American Radio Personality Ira Glass (Who I freely admit I had never heard of until two days ago, but the sentiment resonated with me) on why you need to keep creating, even if you think what you make is no good.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Ira Glass

 

The Magic Duvet Sorbetto Top

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Throughout Me Made May I kept thinking that I needed more tops in my handmade wardrobe. Then one day, I found buried at the bottom of a box an already cut out and darted Sorbetto top. Result!

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The Sorbetto top is a free downloadable pattern from Colette Patterns, and was pleasingly simply to construct. It’s light shape keeps fitting easy, and the armholes and neckline are finished with bias binding, meaning there is minimal cutting (only 2 pieces) before getting stuck into the fun sewing bits. I made this top out of the pillowcases from a charity shop found duvet, the same one I made this skirt with. This duvet is the gift that keeps giving! Seriously, I’ve made three garments with it so far (this top, the skirt, and a pair of dungaree shorts which were pretty flimsily made so I haven’t worn them in a year or so.), and I still have the whole of one side of the cover left!

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If I recall correctly I decided to omit the front pleat due to fabric restrictions on the pillowcase, and for the same reason created a yoke in the flower pattern. To do this, simply cut the pattern straight across the point of the yoke, and cut these pieces out separately, remembering to add seam allowance.

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Once I had sewn the top together, I tried it on and realised that the armholes were a bit high and tight for me. This seems to be a recurring theme with my makes (and actually with a lot of RTW too), so maybe I just have unusually low armpits? Easily solved, I marked how low I wanted the armhole, drew and cut out the new curve, then folded the top by the centre front to mirror the new shape on the other side. In other words- kind of worked it out as I was going along!

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When it came to the bias binding, I was stumped as to what to do for a bit. Should I buy some pre-made bias binding, but have to wait longer to finish the top? Should I make my own, which I havn’t done before and might be fiddly? Then, I had a revelation. The duvet (A very nice one from Laura Ashley, no less) was bordered by complementing yellow piping which was made of a long strip of fabric cut on the bias. I ask, and this duvet provides. I carefully unpicked the piping from the fabric, put the rope stuff inside away for another day, and then all I had to do was iron the strip into a bias binding shape. I don’t have one of those fancy binding tools, so I followed this tutorial by By Hand London which worked pretty well. It can be a bit fiddly but once you’ve got going it isn’t too bad. I ironed the binding whilst watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend, so I was well entertained.

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This project has also made me find out that bias binding is so cool to use. I love having the raw edges concealed and this does it so neatly. My advice for newbies like me to bias binding is pin very carefully and frequently, making sure the bias follows the curves exactly. Then, sew nice and slowly.IMG_1249

And there we go, a quick summer top which works with trousers and skirts. This top fills a hole in my wardrobe and I thank The Duvet for fulfilling my needs once more.

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If anyone has any ideas of what to make from a single duvet’s worth of the yellow check fabric, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Liberty Skirt

I went to my ‘rents a couple of weeks ago where I got a trove of vintage fabrics. It was a good day. Among these was a really cool Liberty fabric with elastic on one of the edges. Basically you’d buy a length & the elastic has already created the gathered waist. I’ve never seen this already on the fabric, does anyone know if this still exists? This had already been made into a skirt, but it was pretty easy to resize. First, I put it on and worked out how much to take out.

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This is just for show. I ended up taking in way more than that, to compensate for the stretch of the elastic. Anyway, after that I sewed down as straight as I could be bothered, cut off the excess and a super speedy skirt is made.

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This isn’t a length I usually go for but I think it’s pretty cute.

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The fabric is so very lovely, it’s soft and light. Perfect summer styling, plus comfy enough that I can eat as much ice cream as I like. That’s the plan anyway…

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It’s nice to be back blogging, life’s been busy recently.

Me-Made-May ’16 Weekend’s 3 & 4

Apologies to anyone who saw this post before it had any words on it- I was trying to get to grips with the WordPress app on my phone and I pressed the wrong buttons. This weekend’s Me-Made-May weekend round up is a double whammy. Work and other projects have been taking up most of my energy at the moment.

Saturday 14th

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Eurovision day called for a red, white and blue theme. This is a darn comfy outfit. This skirt was made during a very low time of my life so it’s extra fun look means a lot to me every time I wear it. It’s made from a second hand baby duvet and a remnant I got from John Lewis years ago. I followed Annika Victoria’s 30 Minute Skirt Video Tutorial which is great for when you want to make something to wear, but want it quick and easy.

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… I saw a bird.

Skirt: Handmade (unblogged)

Top: Second hand

Cardigan: Second hand

Shoes: Docs

Sunday 15th

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This top is my first refashion. I bought it second hand, removed the sleeves, resized and got rid of a load of sequins. All by hand. Yeah, this was whilst I was in halls at uni and didn’t have my sewing machine with me. It has french seams and everything! Impressive work, past me.

Top: Handmade (unblogged)

Trousers (not pictured): H&M

Saturday 21st

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This outfit is basically the same as the first time I styled this skirt. Not sorry. Also, although this skirt is cute and it was fun to make, it did not do well in the winds the day threw at me. Also, those scallops would definitely benefit from an iron and I just do not want to do that.

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Hmm, looks like my hair didn’t do well in the wind either.

Skirt: Make Thrift Buy Community Challenge- Scallops

Top: H&M

Cardigan: John Lewis

Sunday 22nd

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This was a lovely day, so some outdoor photos! Man, photos look so much better outdoors. This dress was one I found in a charity shop and had to have because polka dots, and refashioned to fit. It isn’t a perfect fit (the bust is tight, as you can see in these photos), but I like it for now. If it ever gets too much, it’ll be pretty easy to make this into a skirt.

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Sometimes I think I should post nice photos, and sometimes I like not being perfect.

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Dress: Refashioned (unblogged)

Cardigan: White Stuff (which I changed the buttons of. I love doing that on cardigans, such an easy transformation)

Shoes: Docs

Bag: Second hand

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I hope you all have a good week. See you later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cat Called Christmas

 

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Such mudels. Also let’s take a moment to appreciate how pretty this shirt is? It was brand new 100% silk from Boden and I got it from a charity shop for a tenner. 

For Christmas I got a cat! Well, a kit to make a cat, like a crafty Frankenstein. It came with everything you needed to make the cat, including the thread which is cool. It was really easy to put together, except for the pattern making part. You have to trace the pattern from the paper instructions and piece the body pieces together, which is fine, but I didn’t notice that the pattern pieces didn’t have seam allowance included. I didn’t notice, in fact, until I had already cut out one of the body pieces. I hid the project/ my shame in a bag for a while (don’t try this at home kids), until I could be bothered to draw the seam allowances onto the fabric with the original template pinned down.

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This is just with a biro, nothing fancy

The tail is meant to be stripey, and comes in little segments, which I cut from alternating fabric. I sewed these bits together by hand, which made it feel like I was quilting or something. This was fun but I couldn’t be bothered to do the same for the back of the cat, so I decided to use the tail as a pattern for the other bit of the tail. it’s easy, simply pin the fabric to the tail, right sides together, then cut it out.

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Oh wait, hang on one whisker. Yup, I cut out the back of the tail incorrectly, so now I have a too small cat piece and a spare tail piece. I’m waiting to work out what to do with them.

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That’s more like it. So, I sewed them together nice and close. Then, before turning the right way around I cut into the seam allowance, to ensure a nice shape.IMG_1194IMG_1195

You stuff the tail first, then sew it into the body shape, which you then stuffed. Stuffing was fun, although there were a few fiddly bits like the feet where it was a bit of a task getting them filled out nicely. Close it up, and my creation was alive.

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How cute are they? I’ve named them Christmas for obvious reasons.

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And the back. I topstiched the stripes and face (both felt) on very carefully using a red thread, which seemed like the best way of securing them. They have a little leg in the middle but I find that charming.

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And here they are gazing at the sunset. What a poser.

 

Me-Made-May ’16: Weekend 2

This weekend was so summery, it caught me off guard. I felt like I needed some kind of official email or something in advance, telling me tights weren’t needed.

Saturday 7th

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On Saturday I took Michael on a surprise trip to see Matilda the Musical on a gloriously sunny day in London. I brought a cardigan and a jacket AND wore tights which was definitely overkill. This dress was the perfect level of whimsy for today, except for the moment when I went to order our food at a pub and my top button popped out which had no whimsy in it whatsoever.

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Dress: Refashioned America Dress

Bag: Cath Kidston

Sunday 8th

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Sunday was spent not wearing tights and celebrating my brother’s birthday. The grainy photos here were taken at the end of the day when it was dark. This kind of thing tends to happen at the end of the day. This skirt was perfect for the weather, floaty and light and ever so soft. What I am realising very quickly is that I really need to make more tops. I have a lot of me made skirts, but nothing to wear them with.

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Top: H&M

Skirt: Refashioned Peep Show Shirt

It was hot. See you all next week.