Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Using DIY Motifs and Appliques

Recently I wrote about how to make your own motifs and appliques - see this post 

On this post, I'll give some of using them.

First, a very simple butterfly motif. The fabric it was culled from is in the selection shown on the earlier post. I made a reversible bib / pinafore using this and a yellow fabric also with butterflies. (You can see the bib right near the bottom of the link.) So I just had some little bits left, out of which I could get two whole butterflies.(Just - it needed care where they almost join.)


 

So the butterflies got the interfacing and cutting out treatment.  In practice, these used my second method, of zig zagging onto the actual garment, rather than before attaching. 


Here it is attached to a little dress with a shirred elastic bodice.



And here it is on the model!


You'll see below other examples of how home-made motifs can work. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Making your own Motifs and Appliqués - a Tutorial

Babies' and toddlers' clothes are so much nicer with finishing touches like motifs and appliqués. So are wrap-me-up towels, blankets, and dribble bibs. But they are expensive. 




How did I get to the point where I decided to go the DIY route? It started when I had already spent quite a bit on motifs. Hand-sewn things are fun to make, but are also good value, until you spend a fortune on motifs - and the thing you've spent money on falls off in the wash! So here's my advice: (a) use sew on ones, not iron on, and (b) make motifs yourself, as I show below

Iron-on v sew-on motifs

First, some reflections on purchased iron-on motifs. Yes, in theory, “iron-on” is so much less work – you just iron the motif on. Well, if you can get them to stick, good on you. If that’s the case, and you’re happy to pay for iron-on motifs, you probably don’t need this article.

In my own experience, they just don’t stay on. Baby’s and children’s clothes go through the wash LOTS, and get tumble-dried within an inch of their lives. Off come the motifs. And probably disappear into the plumbing. After we lost the cute little bunny on my first grand-daughter’s pink dress (see here), after just one wearing and wash, I vowed I wouldn’t use iron-on again. Well, actually, I did use some, as I had those I’d already bought to use up, but, Reader, I SEWED THEM ON. And that’s not easy, because you are sewing through the hard glue. After that, I thought I would go for sew-on motifs.

Have you seen the price of motifs to sew on (and iron on) to baby’s and children’s clothes? They can be anything from around £1 to £3 – and even more.  I had bought teddy bears  and puppies for baby blankets, rabbits for dresses, butterflies, ducks, letters, trains, balloons – you name it. Then I realised that sew-on motifs are very easy to make, and can cost you practically nothing per motif other than fabrics etc that you may have around. And they don’t take that long, either. So this is how I do it. And so can you!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

My Sewing Room

I was very inspired by See Kate Sew’s blog In  on her sewing room – how neat it is! So I thought I’d do a post on mine. Of course, hers is a professional sewing room, and she is lucky to be able to have a dedicated room.

My sewing room doesn’t look much like a sewing room really. That’s because it is also:

....... A guest bedroom (with en suite bathroom)




....... A TV and entertainment room



....... My craft corner

....... Our overflow library

....... a playroom for grandchildren – or at least, storage for their toys


....... our Gym and Pilates room (and occasional dance studio)



....... An overflow for things that my daughter can’t squeeze into her flat


And the en suite bathroom is also the laundry room, so this room also functions as a drying and airing room.

So – it’s not really a Sewing Room. It’s so mutli-functional that we just call it ‘the back room’  - imaginatively, as it’s at the back of the house.



But I do do most of my sewing in here. I have to clear things away and pile them up, so I can do my cutting out on a cutting mat on the floor. I store materials and patterns and haberdashery, just like Kate does, and a corner of the room is more or less dedicated to my sewing and my two sewing machines. But my room doesn’t look like hers!!


Here you can see my cutting mat, medium size ironing board (wonder where the small one went?), my fabric storage, my drawers of haberdashery, patterns box, and one of my sewing machines. 

Like Kate, I have an old-fashioned type of metal-drawered cabinet for haberdashery - so useful, though mine was new, off the internet. Each of the 12 drawers is labelled with its contents.


Here's the coloured threads drawer:


Though having seen Kate's thread racks, I may get some myself - if I could find somewhere to hang them. Then, below, one of the Ribbons and Trims drawers .....


And motifs and appliqués ........


(In a later post, I will write about DIY motifs.)

In the picture above, you can see one of my two sewing machines. This is my small simple light-weight Janome (only about 5 or 6 kgs., so I can carry it around with me). It's the one I use most often as it stays out on the table. It was intended to replace my much-loved and ancient Frister and Rossman which weighs about 40kgs. I may be exaggerating a bit, but I can no longer pick it up without help. Even my husband struggles if his back is feeling dodgy. It's purely the weight of this machine that made me think of replacing it - it works like a dream even though it's over 45 years old. It also has all the functions I need - forwards, backwards and side to side (zig-zag), plus a really good zipper foot. Easy to thread - what more could you want, except one that can actually be lifted on to the table without causing a hernia or broken foot?

However, although you can't see it, the dear old F&R is still there, under the table behind the fabric boxes. It wasn't long before I realised that my neat little Janome, a bargain from John Lewis, is more prone to tangling in the bobbin area, and its zipper foot is inferior to the F&R. As far as I can work out you can only use it to the left of the needle, and you can't actually sew very close to the zip (or the press-studs, or cord), it is fixed. So the F&R is there for when I need it. (And can find someone with the strength to lift it.)

Thank you Kate, for inspiring me to write about my sewing room, too!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Bride and Groom Cake Topper and Pattern for Bride's Outfit

Bride and Groom cake topper - 2007



When my daughter announced her wedding to her lovely Mauritian boyfriend, I started to look for bride and groom cake decorations. However, I could only find couples who were either pink-skinned (both of them), or dark brown-skinned (ditto). What is more, the dark brown-skinned couples appeared to have been made out of the same moulds as the pale skinned couples  - so they didn't have the right sort of features at all.  Since my daughter is a brown-haired English rose, and her (now) husband has an Indian Mauritian mother and a Creole Mauritian father, I decided I would have to make the cake decoration couple myself to get something vaguely authentic. In this blog, I give enough detail for you to be able to replicate all or part of the designs!