Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Home: Craft Drawer

The project I'm sharing today is something that I've been wanting to make for a few years after seeing the idea in an old issue of Homemaker magazine. It's taken me this long to get around to it because the main item on the list of supplies needed was "Old wooden drawer". I don't know about you, but I don't generally have that many old wooden drawers sitting around so knew I'd just have to keep my eye out for one and put the project to the back of my mind until something came along. A little while ago I found just what I was looking for - here it is...

At this point I should say that, while I said in my post about my chest of drawers that I wanted to paint all the furniture, there are some things that I think are too nice to be repainted. Had this drawer still been in its chest with some fellow drawers, I suspect it would have fallen into that category because it is lovely wood. On its own, on the other hand, I decided that most people wouldn't want it so it was fair enough for me to adulterate it a bit, namely by painting it bright pink and putting some legs on it.

This might look like a slightly strange item of furniture, but when I saw the original project in the magazine I instantly thought that it would be great for sitting next to my sofa and holding all of my various crafting projects (knitting, crochet, EPP etc.).

I sanded the drawer down, and then painted it using V33 Easy Ultra Pink Gloss furniture paint. While I'm happy with the colour and finish that I've ended up with, I wouldn't particularly recommend this paint if you're aiming for a strong, solid colour. The coverage really wasn't great and the colour was quite watery - I ended up having to do five coats on the drawer. That's not a problem necessarily, but other furniture paint I've used as given a much better coverage and only needed one or two.

The legs that I've used came from Peter Cook International, and I would happily recommend them! They're just right for this project, and arrived really quickly. I would tell you about attaching the legs, but my Dad helpfully volunteered to take on that job and I'm not actually sure what he did.

The last step for the drawer itself was to line the bottom with some pretty paper. This is some children's wallpaper from Homebase, and is actually the same that I used to line the drawers of my chest of drawers too.

The only problem then was that, in my humble opinion, sofa-based crafts generally need a cup of tea and an occasional sweet treat to accompany them and the craft drawer didn't have any space for them. Thankfully, my parents had an old wooden tray that my Mum had sanded down a while ago, but then hadn't actually got around to painting. I painted it white, and then my Dad attached some dowels to the bottom to help it sit securely in place on top of the drawer. It's now the perfect place for refreshments (or flowers) to sit.

My craft drawer has now been in place next to my sofa for a couple of weeks, and I'm so pleased with it. It means that all of my knitting and crochet projects, and hand sewing supplies, are kept nice and tidy but within easy reach whenever I want to pick one of them up to work on for a while. And it's bright pink - who doesn't love a bit of cheery colour?! If you happen to have an old drawer lying around and lots of craft projects to keep in order, I'd definitely recommend giving this a go!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Book Review: Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey

Today I thought I'd share a little review of the book Stitched Sewing Organizers: Pretty Cases, Boxes, Pouches, Pincushions & More by Aneela Hoey. I bought the book a while ago, but I didn't want to write a review until I'd made at least one or two of the projects. I've now crossed three of them off my sewing list, so I think I'm qualified to give my opinions!

As the name would suggest, the book contains 15 projects which are all designed to help you organise your sewing supplies. While there are a few projects that are fairly sewing-specific (a cute needle book, covered tape measure and pincushion), many of the projects could be used for a whole range of purposes. I'm not actually using any of the three projects that I've made so far for sewing at all. I do have plans to make some more of them for crafty storage though.

Two-in-one case - three guesses what I'm using this for?!

Like many sewing books, this one starts with an introductory section with details of materials and supplies, tools and instructions, and some basic techniques used in the projects (such as installing zips, inserting magnetic snaps, attaching binding). I haven't read this section in detail, but the bits I have looked at seem clear and helpful.

Two-in-one case - inside

The main body of the book is, of course, the projects. They are split into 'Small things', 'Cases and folios', 'Pouches' and 'Boxes and totes'. If you want to get an idea of the kind of thing you can expect, both in terms of the details and the styling, take a look at the author's pattern shop. I would stress that the individual patterns aren't exactly the same as the projects in the book, but I think they have a similar feel.

The book patterns are designed to be able to be used together, meaning that smaller projects have been intentionally sized to fit nicely inside some of the bigger items.

Handy fold-up pouch (large and small)

So far, I've made the Handy fold-up pouch (both sizes), Two-in-one case, and the Triple pouch. I've found the instructions to be very thorough and clear. There are diagrams for some, but not all, of the steps - but I don't think the instructions are in any way lacking for not being fully illustrated. Some of the individual steps are fairly simple, so diagrams really aren't necessary.

Triple pouch. Again, the fabric will tell you what I'm using this for - my make-up bag

I tend to read through instructions before I start a  project to get an idea of what I'll be doing. When I did this for the Triple pouch in particular they did sound a bit confusing, but when I was actually working through the steps everything made complete sense.

Some of the projects look fairly simple (such as the needle book, drawstring pouch and big zip pouch), but there are others that are more complicated. I'd definitely have had no idea where to start trying to put together all of the pieces of the Triple pouch without the instructions!

Top/inside of the Triple pouch

Overall, if you're interested in making a few pouches and bags to organise your sewing supplies, or any other supplies for that matter, I'd really recommend this book. The instructions are thorough, the projects are useful and, compared to the prices of individual patterns, the book is pretty good value. Now I just need to find time to make a couple more of the projects!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Sew Over It Clara Blouse

Last weekend my plans were changed at the last minute because of the snow which covered the country, so I decided to try to help spring to win the battle that currently seems to be going on between the seasons by cutting into some pretty floral fabric to make a Sew Over It Clara blouse.

The Clara blouse was Sew Over It's February PDF release. It looked a bit different from other patterns in my stash, and seemed to be a good combination of being very wearable but also with the potential to look quite smart, so I was fairly quick to buy it when it was released.

The blouse features, in Sew Over It's own words, 'a pretty pleated round neckline, keyhole opening at the centre back, a stepped hem, and long sleeves with deep cuffs and continuous bound placket cuff closures'.

The Clara blouse was an enjoyable pattern to sew. The bodice section came together fairly quickly, and then I needed a bit more time to sew the sleeves because those cuffs involve a couple of more fiddly steps. Nothing too taxing, but the kind of thing that it's worth taking your time over to make sure you do a good job.

The instructions were all very clear and easy to follow. I did spot a typo in the instructions about making the rouleaux loops for the neckline and cuff buttons, but I emailed Sew Over It to point it out and they got back to me really quickly to say that the instructions have now been corrected (if you downloaded the pattern before this week, the seam allowance when sewing the rouleau loop strip should be 1.5cm instead of 2cm).

In terms of sizing, my bust measurement is between the 12 and 14 for this pattern, and my waist/hip measurements put me right in the size 14. The Clara blouse has a relaxed fit though, and based on the finished measurements I was fairly sure that I'd be fine with a straight size 12. Thankfully, it turns out I was right! There's still plenty of ease as far as I'm concerned, and I think if I'd made the 14 it might have turned out a bit too roomy for my tastes.

I was slightly unsure about how I'd feel about the cuffs - not in terms of how they look, but in terms of whether they'd annoy me when I was wearing the blouse because they're quite large. I'm pleased to report that I've worn the blouse for a whole day now and wasn't bothered by the cuffs once.

If I make another Clara blouse, I'd possibly omit the stepped hem and just use a regular straight hem. While the stepped hem looks nice, I'm only going to wear the blouse tucked into full skirts so nobody will ever see it.

The fabric I used is a freesia print viscose that I bought last spring/summer (I think from WeaverDee, but I know a few online shops stocked it at the time) with the intention of making a dress, but I then went off the idea of the fabric/pattern combination I had in my head. I love the fabric though, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the right project to use it and when the Clara pattern was released it seemed like I'd found what I was looking for. And as bonus, as I'd bought enough for a full-skirted dress, I'm pretty sure I've got enough fabric left for a short sleeved summery top too!

Overall, I'm really happy with my Clara blouse. I enjoyed sewing it, I'm pleased with how it looks and it's good to get this fabric out of my stash. I'm going to wait and see how much I wear the blouse but, based on first impressions, I could definitely see myself making more in the future. Have you had success with any new patterns recently?

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Knitting: Fern Cable and Bobble Top

Alongside knitting all the socks, over the past couple of months I've also been gradually working away on my latest knitted garment. This is the Fern cable and bobble top, a pattern from West Yorkshire Spinners.

Fern is described as a boxy, cropped top with short sleeves in ridged stocking stitch. The main body is knit in reverse stocking stitch, with a wave and bobble cable running up the centre front. The neckline is a ribbed boat neck, and one of my favourite features of the pattern is that this means that there's no need to pick up stitches to knit a neckband (perhaps my least favourite part of knitting!).

In some ways this might seem like an odd style of garment to knit because the short sleeves don't exactly fit with the cosy aran weight yarn, but I have a similar ready-to-wear jumper that I wear quite a lot so I thought I'd give it a go.

The pattern is knit in pieces and seamed, my current favourite method of knitting garments (although I am planning to give knitting a seamless cardigan another go as part of my #2018makenine plans). The only change I made from the pattern was to knit the body 5 cm shorter than instructed to get it to hit at my waist. I was slightly surprised about having to shorten it given that I usually have to lengthen bodices/tops, and Fern is described as being cropped. Maybe West Yorkshire Spinners' understanding of "cropped" is different to mine!

Anyway, it's a fairly simple pattern, and I found it very easy to follow. I think it would probably be a relatively good pattern to pick if you've got a bit of knitting knowledge but are dipping your toes into garment knitting for the first time.

Saying that, I'm not entirely sure that my bobbles worked out quite right. They just seem a bit more flat and less, for want of a better word, bobble-like than I was expecting them to be. Looking at them from a distance, I think the overall effect is fine though. And I'll have plenty of practice knitting bobbles in the pattern that I've moved onto now.

The yarn that I used is Tivoli Celtic Aran in the catchily named shade 981. I fully intended to get a more neutrally coloured yarn to maximise the number of t-shirts that I'd be able to wear under the top, but when I went to a local yarn shop and saw this magenta colour, I couldn't leave it behind. It was nice to knit, and feels nice to wear (I finished this a couple of weeks ago, so it's already been worn a couple of times) but I'm slightly concerned that it might not wear too well long-term. We'll just have to see I suppose!

All in all, I'm fairly pleased with how my Fern top turned out. If I had to be picky, the sleeves feel slightly stiff at the moment and a bit of persuasion is needed to get them to sit nicely inside a coat sleeve. but hopefully they might soften up a bit over time. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying finding all the different outfit combinations I can match this up with!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Home: Lace Chest of Drawers

If you don't mind, I've got something a bit different to share with you today. When I moved house towards the end of last year, I needed to get a new chest of drawers. Rather than buy a basic Ikea one, I decided to look for something more sturdy and came across this in a local secondhand shop...

While it was definitely sturdy in essence (it's a heavy beast!), it had a few problems that needed fixing and the dark wood and gold coloured fancy handles weren't entirely to my taste. Thankfully, my Dad is fairly handy when it comes to do-it-yourself projects and was happy to help me with the more technical aspects of fixing it up. Between us, we've worked on it gradually over the last couple of months and here's what it looks like now....

Quite a transformation, don't you think?

In terms of repair work, I ripped off what was left of the old trim around the top and bottom, removed the drawer handles and sanded the whole thing down. My Dad than attached a new trim, replaced the back with a new panel, repaired the stoppers for the drawers and filled in the holes left from where I removed the handles.

Then came the fun part - deciding what colour to paint it! That actually proved to be one of the trickier parts of the process as far as I was concerned because I had too many ideas about what I wanted to do.

In the end, my mind was made up when I discovered a pretty lace wall/furniture stencil from Dizzy Duck Designs on Etsy. If you're interested in doing anything similar, I'd definitely recommend these stencils. Mine arrived really quickly, the film used is flexible but sturdy and, most importantly, the stencil was easy to use. I was concerned about getting the pattern to match up properly as I moved the stencil along the drawers, but there are clear overlap points so it's easy to produce the repeating pattern.

I'll be honest and say that my stencilling is definitely not perfect. There are quite a few points on the finer lines where it looks like my 'lace' has broken slightly, but I don't think that detracts from the overall effect at all. If anything, it just goes to prove that it's done by hand instead of mass produced.

I was fairly heavily influenced by one of the example photos that was shown on the listing for the stencil, although I went against my usual tendency to make everything blue and went slightly more green when I chose the paint. Although, if I'm being honest, I had fully intended to buy cornflower blue paint but when I got to the shop it was out of stock so I had a quick reconsideration. The paint I used is Rust-Oleum Satin Finish Furniture Paint in teal (which I personally wouldn't call teal, but the colour on the pot is an accurate reflection of the paint colour, so that's fine) and cotton.

If you're thinking of doing any furniture make-overs, one practical thing that I'd recommend is that if you're doing it in winter I'd make sure that you have somewhere heated where you can work! I was originally working on this in my parents' garage, where at one point it took glue over a week to set because the temperatures were so low. When it came to doing the painting, the paint needed to be used at above 10°C. Thankfully my parents are very accommodating and didn't mind me taking over their dining room with my chest of drawers, paint and a ground sheet!

I'm so pleased with how my chest of drawers turned out, and it's lovely to have a piece of furniture that's completely unique. So much so that I now want to repaint all the things! I have a couple of smaller projects in the works already, so they may be popping up around here soon - but don't worry, normal sewing/knitting/occasional crochet service will still be happening too!