Friday, 30 December 2016

Christmas presents

Hello hello! I hope you're all having a happy festive season. Before this nice little in-between period that we're now in turns into 2017, I thought I'd share the Christmas presents that I made this year.

First up is this bag that I made for my Mum. The pattern is the Maker's Tote by Noodlehead which, as the name suggests, is designed to be a project tote bag for makers and creatives. There's plenty of space in the main compartment of the bag, and lots of pockets for keeping bits and pieces safe. Because of all those pockets, this was easily this year's most time-consuming present, but I think it was definitely worth the effort.

The instructions are very detailed and easy to follow so it wasn't a difficult project (I found that the only tricky part was applying the binding around the bottom edges, and even that wasn't as problematic as I'd suspected it might be), it just took a bit of time to sew all the various sections.

The outer fabric is Painterly Wash Art Gallery denim, and the inside pocket fabric is Tulip in Turquoise from the Cloud 9 Vignette collection. The rest of the fabric is a combination of various remnants from my stash.

Over the years I've learned that it's better to keep things simple when making presents, so all of my other projects were much quicker. First up is a dress for my niece who was born a couple of months ago. It's a baby pinafore pattern from Puperita - a sweet, simple dress that I sewed up in a couple of hours. The outer fabric is a soft denim repurposed from a skirt, and the inside is left over from my latest Susie blouse. I did make it slightly more complicated by deciding to embroider the yoke with little daisies, but that was a nice relaxing project to work on in front of the TV so it was fine.

Her Christmas present was actually the second version of the pattern I've made for her - I made the red version above for her when she was born. I really like the fact that the dress is reversible, so I could make this red version with Christmas fabric on one side and plain babycord on the reverse so that she'll be able to wear it outside of the Christmas season too.

Next up was an apron/smock for my nephew, which I think will definitely come in useful because he likes 'helping' my sister with cooking and baking but has a tendency to end up covered in half of the ingredients. This is a very simple pattern from the book Sew a Metre. The main fabric is the same denim as my niece's dress, with added red binding and a scrap of fabric from my stash for the 'J'.

Last, but by no means least, I made a five pairs of pyjama trousers for my Dad, siblings and siblings-in-law. I intended to take a photo of them all modelling them, but that got a bit overlooked in the excitement of present opening, so all I have is this picture of the stack of them waiting to be wrapped - sorry about that!

I can show you this photo of my brother sporting another pair of pyjama trousers that I made him earlier this year, using the same pattern (in this spectacular beetle print jersey). There are many basic pyjama patterns, but this particular one is Simplicity 2116. Unsurprisingly, given that pyjama trousers are one of the simplest things to sew, this was a nice easy project. By the end of the fifth pair I was definitely ready to sew something else, but I'd happily use this pattern for pyjamas again the future.

So there we go, that's what's kept me busy for the past few weeks! Did you make any presents? I really enjoyed it, but it's also great to be back sewing for me again now!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Handmade Style - review & projects

My sewing machine is as busy as usual at the moment, but it's in full-on Christmas present production so that all needs to be kept secret for another couple of weeks. I'm sure I'm not the only one in that situation, am I? As I can't share my latest creations, I thought I'd talk about a couple of projects that haven't made it to my blog before. They all happen to come from the same book, so I'm going to combine them with a bit of a review.

The book in question is Handmade Style by Anna Graham of Noodlehead. It was released early last year so I'm not exactly quick off the mark with this post, but with a sewing book I prefer to wait until I've used it to make a couple of things so that I know whether or not the projects work before writing a review.

The book includes 23 projects divided into three sections - "To wear", "To carry" and "To use". It includes paper patterns where necessary, but most of the pieces in the projects I've used have been rectangles/squares and in those cases the dimensions are simply provided for cutting.

The first project I made from the book was the carry-all pincushion. Now, a pincushion might not seem like a particularly exciting project, but this is no ordinary pincushion! It's got a range of different pockets all round the sides for all your small sewing essentials, and a strap on the top to hold scissors. I made mine over a year ago, and I haven't lost my seam ripper since!

Next up, I made the double zip wallet. As the name suggests, it has two zippered openings and additional pockets and card holders on the inside. There's plenty of space for holding just about anything you could want to keep in your wallet.

My third project was the gingham tote, so called because in the sample in the book the main outer pocket (which I used the blue floral for in my version) is made in gingham. As you can probably tell, this was a more involved project than the other two but, although there were more steps to go through, the individual processes themselves weren't complicated.

I deviated slightly from the bag in the book by using a purchased leather strap instead of making the fabric strap included in the pattern. This was mainly because I made the bag as a birthday present for my Mum as a replacement for a Cath Kidston one that she'd used  lot, and one of the things I knew she really liked about that bag was the fact that it had a leather strap. My version has the added benefit of the strap being removable for washing, whereas the CK one has a fixed strap, therefore meaning that I can pretend that I make better bags than Cath Kidston!

All three of these projects were really nice to sew. They're a good way to use up remnants/scraps, and a bit of a change from all the dressmaking that usually goes on around these parts.

I think that the instructions and diagrams are the kind that have a tendency to seem a bit confusing if you read them all through before starting, but then make complete sense and are easy to follow once you're actually sewing. Everything fitted together nicely, and I had no problems at all making any of the three projects.

Overall, I really like the general style of the whole book. The samples are made in a lovely range of modern fabrics, and they're beautifully photographed.

I would say that if you're only interested in sewing clothes then I don't think this would be the book for you. Although one of the sections is "To wear", it's definitely the smallest of the three, and the two garments (a simple chambray dress and a tunic) are both perfectly nice, but not anything revolutionary. I was aware of that before I bought the book though, so I'm not at all disappointed; in fact, I think there's a really nice selection of projects. A lot of them would be great to make as gifts as well - always handy at this time of year!

There are plenty more things that I'd like to make from Handmade Style. Top of the list has to be the patchwork bench, but I need to work out where I'd put it in my flat first! Have you made anything from this book?