Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas sock animals

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a great 2013. I have been sadly lacking in keeping up with my blog, but the day job overtook most things. Which means I am last minute present making, wrapping and generally worrying over. I always make presents for the family and I also try to add some decoration or a funky twist. Ladies were easy this year, but the men always cause me more headaches. In the end I opted to make personalised coasters and these were made and boxed some weeks ago, but I did want something cute to add to the outside. With the ladies, I made festive fabric hanging hearts, but I couldn't come up with an idea for the boys. I could only think of socks, then 'sock monkey' came to mind......but most sock monkeys and animals are cut and sewn, this had to be much easier so that when they took off the elastic bands and sticky eyes...there would be a perfectly formed pair of new socks! Here are my sock animals (I am not sure what breed ...but they look cute enough!)
They are so easy to make just one sock stuffed into the first sock and the bottoms rolled up inside, and a few elastic bands to form the ears and head. A ribbon for decoration and either goggly eyes stuck on using double sided pads or just use some sticking circles or shapes...voila!... and I think they suit the presents better than a bow! I hope you like, and I hope to post more hat related topics come the new year. Happy sewing (or non sewing in the case of the sock animals!) xxx

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Making a Fosshape hat..

The last week or so have been madly busy and at last we have glorious sunshine and heat, just in time for the Olympics. As if I haven't enough to do what with some custom hat orders, plus making others for the fun of it, I thought I would take on a new project....

I love to experiment with new materials and I'd heard about a fabric called Fosshape, used primarily for costume making but also suitable for millinery. This is the description of it taken from their website, rather than me waffle on

'Fosshape is a unique patented non woven fabric. The breathable fabric can be cut to shape with scissors and sewn to itself or other fabrics. So what makes it unique?.......... Fosshape can be heated with a domestic steamer [or hot air gun] to form any shape. When heated the material will shrink and become stiff. Its breathable properties and very light weight make it ideal for stiffening costumes and making large headgear and costume props.'

This sounded so intriguing so I contacted the company who make it Wonderflexworld and they kindly sent me a small sample through their UK distributor Flints

and this is where the fun begins..

The sample was about 10 inches by 5 inches, and rather than cut it up and sew it, I thought it best just to try a simple shape at first. Decision was made to make a small half hat, and I cut the fabric into the shape I wanted ( I looks a bit like an eye mask!)

You have to apply heat to the fabric to stiffen it, and HOT heat via a hot air gun or iron or steamer. I thought I would use an old polystyrene head for my first attempt and use the iron. Just in case using the hot air gun ending up with a mess or burns.

I covered the head in a layer of wadding and then 3 layers of tin foil to protect it.

I put the iron on high and steam and then just ironed the fabric in situ. You can stretch and manipulate whilst heating, but as this was a small item and I only needed a symmetrical shape, I didn't bother. I just kept going over with the iron until I felt it 'was done' :) It does shrink in the process, but I found it was minimal and I had accounted for it when cutting my shape out.

This is it once cool and hardened..

and this is it on my new poly head that I've just painted! She is version number 2, and not finished yet, but I think I'm getting better at it!
My conclusions on Fosshape are, that it is much quicker to use than buckram, no waiting around for it to dry, and you also achieve quite a smooth surface, so I won't need to add an interlining. I am not sure what weight fabric I was given, but am inclined to think it was the lighter weight and I feel I will have to wire the edges for extra rigidity, but overall I'm very pleased with it. I felt that if I had a larger piece I could manipulate it quite well and get some good shapes from it. It costs quite a bit more than buckram, but for complicated items it would save a lot of time and therefore money.

Once I have played with this hat base a bit more....I will let you know how it goes... and pics will follow

cheers for now, have fun and enjoy the sun xx

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Making a buckram fascinator - Part 2

Well, I started adding decoration to my hat and then suddenly realised that I hadn't photographed it as I went!

My apologies that the veiling and leaves have been sewn on with any tutorial, but this was the easiest bit. I cut some purple, pink and lilac veiling and fussed about with it until I was happy with the look. Its best to keep trying it on your head in front of a mirror, to get it just right. I then added a selection of shiney acrylic leaves in toning and contrasting colours. All of this was stitched through the top fabric, I didn't need to go right through the hat.

Next I cut a small section of blue/grey lining on the bias and tacked this to the underside of the hat.

The next stage is to tidy the edges of the lining etc by covering with tape. Normally i would use grosgrain, but I didn't have any in a suitable colour, so I have used lilac bias binding. I ironed this into a curve first, so that it would fit nicely. Just pull the bias around at an angle whilst running the iron over it.

I've realised that my ironing board cover looks very tatty, and its covered in fabric paint!

The next stage was to stitch the binding in place using very small running stitches along both sides and folding the ends together neatly. I also added my own label

That's it done and now ready for sale! I hope you enjoy reading, and I always look forward to any comments. Best wishes to you all

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Making a buckram fascinator - part 1

I hope this little tutorial will be of interest, as I am not very good as chatting about anything other than hats, vintage or the state of the British weather :)

This is a little buckram hat that I am making and these are the first stages. I cut 2 oblongs of white buckram fabric roughly 8 x 10 inches. Buckram is a stiffened cotton open weave fabric, and once wet it can be moulded and reshaped. I ran the pieces under the tap until they became soft enough to manipulate, then I stretched them over a polystyrene head. You don't need a hat block for this, as the hat will be one size, and just needs to have a curve to it. I stretched them on pulling and pinning at the same time to keep the fabric in place without folds. I always use 2 layers as I find it gives more body and a better finish. The starch in the fabric can make your hands sticky, and can cause the fabric to stick to your mould, so it is best to cover the mould /head with some cling film or tin foil first.

This was then left overnight to dry, it must be really dry before you remove it from the mould. Before I removed it I used a laundry pen to mark out a shape for my hat, and I decided on a small tear drop. I removed the buckram from the head and cut around my shape. The next stage was adding some wire to the edge to keep the hat firm and give a good shape. I decided to use plastic brim wire, as I don't want the hat to be bent or deformed. I stitched this in place using a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine.

I like to add hat elastic at this stage, before I cover the base, and I had some nice shiny pink elastic, so I'm using this. I poked 2 holes either side of the base using an awl or you can use a large needle. I then thread the elastic through, make a knot and then stitch using the sewing machine to make doubly sure it won't come adrift!

Normally you would use a domette or similar fabric for covering the base, this achieves a nice smooth finish to your covering. I used a similar interlining and cut this to the approximate shape of the tear drop and fold over and roughly stitched in place. Then I sew, using a machine zig zag some bias binding around the inside of the base to give me something to sew the final cover and lining to.

Then I cut my fabric to cover the base, I have used a purple linen mix fabric. Make sure you add lots of small pleats as you go around, this gives a nice neat outer edge. I stitch the outer fabric to the bias tape that I put in place previously.

Thats all for now, but I will add part 2, which is the trimming and lining etc. I hope you enjoy my tutorials

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Made my first silk flower!

I get so excited trying something new. I never know if it is going to turn out well, but I was so into this project, that I got up at 6am to finish it!

I used a pure silk furnishing fabric, which probably wasn't the best to use for a first time go, as it was quite heavy and hard to stiffen, but once started, I just had to carry on. The petals were cut out and stiffened last night using a combination of cornflour and PVA.

I have no millinery flower tools (way too expensive), so the kitchen drawers and workshop tools came in handy.....I used a melon baller, an awl and a couple of screwdrivers!

I find millinery so gripping, just can't get enough of it lately :) The hat is not quite completed but what do you think?

I just wish our weather was better so that I could take some photos that don't look like I live in a cave, but at 7am it was pretty gloomy!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Make a turban - Tutorial

I love turbans, and think they are under rated, towelling ones are great for the beach or bath, and any turban is good for a bad hair day.

Liz and Joan always make them look good!

This is just an easy peasy turban that took me about 40 minutes to make...

This style of turban works best with stretch fabric, and the pattern pieces should be cut on the bias. I have cut 3 pieces out of some funky floral stretch that has been in the fabric stash for a while.

In total I cut 3 rectangles, one 24" x 10", one 24" x 5" and one 4" x 5", This makes a large head size (23 - 24 inches) so if you want a medium size just make the 2 main pieces 23 x 9 and 23 x 4 .

The long thin band should be folded in half wrong sides together and sewn to one long edge on the largest piece. I used an overlocker, but if not, its best to use a stretch stitch.

Once the band is stitched on, fold the turban in half right sides together, and stitch around the edge forming a curve in the corner, and leaving a 3/4 inch gap at the end.

Turn the hat right side out and form 3 pleats at the back of the hat, you will need to adjust these to suit, and try it on to get the best effect. Then stitch these pleats down by 'stitching in the ditch'.

The small pattern piece that you have left should be folded right sides together and sewn to form a nice band when turned out, This band is then fed through the hole left at the front seam, the fabric gathered up and the small band ends sewn together. I also made a little bow to thread through the band, but this could be removed it needed, I didn't bother stitching it in.

you could get new looks by adding a brooch or decoration to the front.

Let me now if you make one. I think I will make some more now, as the weather here is still very dismal and rainy, so it's much more fun to stay in and sew!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Workspace and tools

I am so untidy when sewing, this seems really strange to me because I am practically OCD about the rest of my house. I love things to be clean neat and tidy...expect when I get the fabrics out, then they are all over the floor!

Perhaps its because I don't always have a fixed idea in my head for a design and often its the fabric or trim that sparks an idea. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. But being creative often leads to part finished projects, so I have hidden all of these away until I can think what to do with them!

I am lucky in that I have a space to work, and somewhere to put everything. It is really the guest bedroom, but being a large room and having a man who is handy with DIY, I was able to snatch a largish area.

I use a computer workstation to keep my Pfaff sewing machine and Husqvarna overlocker on, and the lower shelf houses the laptop. I made sure I fixed lots of extra lighting above the table, and lots of electrical sockets underneath. I can never have enough plugs!

The curtains pull across the work area if someone is staying over, and then they don't have to stare at my clutter all night!

I never store my fabrics according to colour or weight or just about any sort of system, and as I keep lots of small pieces (ideal for hats)it does have a tendancy to spill over sometimes.

I did try and tidy a bit to take a photo, I also thought I would take a photo of my favourite tools whilst I was at it, and here they are

From the left; Calculator, a must have for drafting my own patterns

Bias binding maker - I love, love, love this little gadget. I will be making some bias in a future tutorial so I will explain how to use it then.

Magic laundry pen- This is great for marking out fabric, as it disappears like magic after a little while.

Stitch/seam ripper - I have loads of these, I am always putting one down and can't find it!

Tailors chalk - if the pen isn't practical

Rotary cutter - great for straight lines or curves, especially great when making bias binding

Scissors - not for cutting paper or anything other than fabric

Fluff sticky roller - so great for cleaning any bits off at the end of a project.

and they are all on top of my large cutting mat, which saves my table getting scratched and really useful when I need dead straight lines.

I did forget to add things to my list like my French Curves, but I love tools so I could have gone on forever...adding in....glue gun.....white cotton gloves (used when sewing fine fabrics, 'cos my hands are rough!)...etc..etc

I would of taken a picture of my specs, as I can't do anything without them, but I had them on at the time :)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Bramcost pattern pillbox tutorial

1950s Pillbox style hat pattern from Bramcost publications tutorial

This tutorial is for a lovely 50s pillbox, the pattern comes from Bramcost, who sell vintage patterns and more, the link to this pattern can be found here:

This hat should take about 90 minutes to make for the experienced seamstress.

Print out the 4 page pattern. The pattern is sized for a 22 inch head and uses ½ inch seam allowance.

TIP: When I made the hat I found that the top was too big, and I needed to make the hat band larger for my head.It states cut a half circle with your compass set to 5 inches, I found 4.75 inches to be better, if you still want a 22 inch hat. If you need the hat to be larger cut the head band pattern out half an inch longer.

The pattern instructions are quite clear and the headband is all ready to cut out and selloptape together ( don't overlap the edges or the band will be too small), you only have to measure and cut the top section (crown).

The good thing about hats, is that you don't need much fabric, so I found a nice off cut of lavender Harris Tweed that I am using for my hat. I am cutting the lining out from a pretty lilac flower print cotton.

TIP: If you are making the hat out of very heavy fabric, you don't really need any interlining, just cut your fabric and lining pieces out. But I am using lightweight fusible interfacing for this hat, as I like it quite stiff. Also be aware that if you use a thin fabric, the hat will come up larger, and will be more of a beret style.

TIP: When cutting the crown sections, make sure you mark the middle point (where your seam starts). I use a disappearing Laundry marker pen from Kuretake. It vanishes after a few hours or can be erased with water!I have also used a pin in the picture, as Lavender is the worst colour to photograph!

Before sewing you should have 4 pieces, 2 x crown and 2 x side band.

With right sides together, sew the seams on the back of each side band, trim and press open. Then sew the seams on the crowns (circles), again trim and press open. This will now be cone shaped.

Now pin the headband fabric to the cone, making sure you use the longer (top) edge of the head band. You will have to ease the head band fabric to fit. Sew all the way around and trim. Then do exactly the same with the lining pieces, making sure right sides are together.

Turn the lining right side out, and place inside the hat (so that both right sides are together).

Sew together all around the bottom edge leaving a gap of approximately 3 inches. Trim seam.

Pull the hat through the lining using the gap. Press all seams. You can either slip stitch the gap together, or tack and then top stitch all around the lower edge ( which I have done).

You can then add a petersham ribbon band to the inside bottom edge by hand, if required. TIP: adding a band will decrease the size again slightly.

You can now decorate the hat to suit. As I wanted a button on the top, I used an old button and cut a circle of fabric big enough to go over the button, I ran a long stitch around the edge and drew the stitches up, thereby covering the button. I then stitched firmly in place.

And now your hat is finished!! I hope the above all makes sense, but if not, do let me know :)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Red berry hat

Well, I am not very good up keeping up with blogging! Perhaps it's because I spend too much time making things?
And I really must tidy up my work area, I am so untidy when making something. I pull all the ribbons and fabrics out, and spread them all around, and still can't make up my mind.
But I did come across some lovely resin blackberries which I bought some time ago.I decided to make them into this little hat. I am really pleased with the result, even if everyone I have shown it to thinks it is very Christmassy!!

You can see it in my etsy shop here

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Rock star chick

Where does the time go? It has been a busy week, but not with making or sewing :(
The OH came down with shingles ( I didn't realise what a painful condition this is) but luckily he got to the GP early and seems to be on the mend.
I have spent all morning teaching my mum (in her late 70s) how to use her new computer and she loves it!!! Hurrah, so I'm hoping she will pick it all up fairly easily.
Then home to make my 8 year old grandaughter into a Rock chick, she is performing in a 'do' on Monday with the rest of her class, a song and dance routine to 'we will rock you'. She really wanted to look the part, so I have spent the last hour slashing a new black t-shirt, adding diamonte and chains and making feather trailing hair clips.
I don't know if this is the rock chick look, but I have done my I keep my fingers crossed. x x x

Monday, 23 January 2012

Year of the Dragon

A very happy Chinese new year to everyone. I just hope it doesn't mean that i have to make more New Years resolutions, as i've broken the first lot already. They always seem to involve chocolate!
It has been a gloomy (weather wise) couple of days, but i have managed to get some sewing done.
This little 20s flapper tight fitting cloche hat....

I used an original 1920s pattern, although some resizing and altering was needed.
I just wish I'd had some sun, to achieve better pics.
Its available in my etsy shop here

Monday, 16 January 2012

Making life easier...

It was a very busy weekend, no hats or sewing, but lots of eating and drinking with friends. It was lovely to spend time relaxing and enjoying excellent company and food.
Thinking about taking time out from a busy life made me appreciate a great email from a friend which offered tips for making life easier. Although it had lots of tips, I will share just a few here.
If you have any of your own tips and hints, do let me know,

Turn a muffin or cake tin upside down, and roll cookie dough mix over to make lovely little cases to fill with ice cream or fruit.

Fix a magnet strip on the inside of a cupboard to keep bobby pins, hair clips and such like neat and tidy.

To carry cupcakes safely, turn a box lid upside down and cut crosses.

Best wishes for now, Sara x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Hat pins

Another busy day, and I made some hat pins to go with all my hats. I really enjoyed making them, and they look very swish in their gift boxes.
they are available in my Folksy shop, and I think I will make some more. It's nice to have all things hat related.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Silk bridal Turban

It has been the most glorious sunny day here, but I have still managed to get some sewing done...and ignore the garden for the moment.
I was lucky enough to pick up a remmnant of the most wonderful expensive pure silk fabric embroidered with little pink flowers. It reminded me of days gone by, the 20s, and ethereal floaty tea dresses, so I came up with the idea for a turban. It is unlined so that you can see the fabric really well, and I'm so pleased with the result.
It is for sale in my folksy shop, and I am thinking of making some matching shoe clips...maybe later this evening.
Thanks for looking, and any comments are always gratefully received x x

Monday, 9 January 2012

Tutorial – making a hat pattern Part 3

I have now painted my hat, and I will describe how the hat was finished, and the techniques I tried out for painting.

I decided for ease to use Kuretake fabric pens for most of the design. I also use artists acrylic paints for the blue sky effect. I used the blue to just tint my water and brushed it on very quickly. It does mean that the hat get quite wet, which is why I pre washed the fabric. Also, be aware that the paint will seep through, which is why I didn't line the hat until finished. All the paints are waterproof once ironed.
I didn't bother working out a design beforehand, I just went with the creative flow. It is not a masterpiece, but is was fun to do and taught me a few things...such as, it would have been better to paint the design before assembly whilst it was still flat, and as the hat got quite wet, some of the colours ran. Although I quite liked the effect.

Once the hat was painted I cut out my lining fabric, I used a pale blue polyester cotton. Then I assembled as described in part 2.

The lining was then put inside the hat, I pinned the brims together and then ran a machine line around the edge to keep it all together. Then I trimmed the seam very close to the stitching line.

I used a pale blue 1 inch wide bias binding to edge the hat. I folded and pressed the binding in half so that it would sit nicely on the brim. As I stitched it in position I stretched it slightly so that it would follow the curve.

I really need some nice blue ribbon to go around the middle, but have just placed some of the bias binding there for the time being. When putting the ribbon in on I will stab stitch it in position going all the way through the hat to catch the lining in place.
I hope you like the finished hat, I just need some sun to wear it in now!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Tutorial – making a hat pattern Part 2

Following on from yesterdays hat pattern, I am now ready to sew the hat together.
Firstly I ran a line of stay stitching ( long machine stitches) around the seam line of the brim, just to help it stay in shape, then I sewed the seam in the brim (right sides together) and pressed open.

Then take the hat crown side and again with right sides together sew the seam together and press open.

Take the hat crown (top circle) and with right sides together pin to the hat side, easing the fabric to fit. Sew these together.

With right sides together pin and sew the bottom of the side to the inner brim. If you find it hard to stretch the fabric around, sew a stay stitch line agin around the inner seam allowance and make some small cuts into the brim seam allowance , being careful not to go further than your stitch line. Apologies, that I forgot to take a picture of this stage :(

My hat is now ready to paint!

If you wish to add lining before I get around to posting the next images, just cut all 3 pattern pieces out of your lining fabric (do not interface). Make them up exactly as the hat, so that you have 2 hats, place the lining hat inside the outer hat, pim the brim together, and sew co-ordinating bias binding all the way around the edge to join the 2 hats together. You can then decorate as desired. I will publish more on this task as my hat continues.